Climbing a holy mountain in China with my hiking partner, I was running out of steam. Mountain climbing there meant climbing thousands of steps. For the first three hours we climbed, vendors badgered me to pay them to carry me in a sling. I refused. I came here to climb, not be carried. Besides Jiuhua Shan is so steep that I’ll slide off the back of that chair, I thought. But my resolve to climb grew dimmer with each step. Where were the men with the chair now? I’d take my chances about falling out.
While I huffed and puffed, silently praying for the men with the sling to return, a man suddenly approached from behind. He was bent over, his head almost touching the ground from the weight of the wooden beams on his back. The beams looked like they weighed as much as he did. When he passed and then overtook us, awe replaced my fatigue.
Later when the three of us sat down to rest, the man explained in broken English that the wood he carried was special, sacred. It was to help repair the temple at the mountaintop. Carrying the beams was a privilege to him, not a burden. When we started climbing again, the man moved with extraordinary strength and speed. He beat us to the top.
When we surrender, we get the Grace and strength to carry any legitimate burdens we have. Carrying them is important for the temple, other people, and us. Often we don’t see the benefits until later, after we’re done climbing. We can endure almost any pain or problem, or carry any burden–if it’s for a good reason. Purpose transforms ordinary tasks into sacred missions. Mistakes become destiny instead of random fate. No matter what burden we’re carrying, making it to the top of the mountain is what this site is about.
They call me a self-help writer, but I’m not an expert or a guru. I don’t give medical, psychiatric, or legal advice. I research, and then combine personal experience with what the experts say. Then I turn that into easy stories for people to watch or read. Sometimes I show people how others (and I) work through certain issues and I suggest options, but I don’t tell people what to do. I tell them they can do it, instead (a practice referred to as empowerment or permissions therapy.) Topics I write about run the gamut from spiritual growth to true crime. When people aask where I find my stories or get my ideas, I tell them the truth. “They find me,” I say. I write nonfiction: journalism, magazine articles, books, and TV movies. When I write newspaper articles about what people can do to improve their lives, it’s called service journalism. The same idea holds true about this site. My work is showcased here. I include my biography, articles about my life. But this site isn’t about me. It’s about serving you.
Don’t look down. Look up! The steeper the climb, the more important it is to laugh. People say the bubble is popping, it’s bad out there, and it’s getting worse. Everyone’s getting the rug ripped out from under them, one man said. No matter how bad it gets, we can still find happiness. There’s some for each of us. We may need to redefine what happiness is before we can find it but when we do, we discover it’s been there all along. Another word for happiness is Peace. It’s been looking for us.
“They help hold the world and the heaven together,” wrote the poet Li Bai when he first saw the nine mountains and ninety-nine peaks of Jiuhua Shan. This site will help us climb that mountain–no matter what we’re carrying–and touch the place where heaven and earth meet.