Reply to Bob Brezovsky, and other Local 600 unit presidents

In the latest issue of the publication, UAW LOCAL 600 FACTS, it is evident the union is

Labor is Broken

Labor is Broken

afraid of losing members due to the Right-to-Work law.  The issue’s purpose is to convince their members not to resign from the union and makes a feeble attempt to remind dues paying members of the union’s usefulness.

Brezovsky, Stover, and Engel, local unit presidents, loosely present numerous “facts” and “figures” comparing Right-to-Work (RTW) states to non-RTW states.  They give no references and Schultz even reprints an unsigned letter from an anonymous source.  Engel asks, “Why should anyone receive the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement and union representation and not have to pay for it?”  I reply, why should people pay for something they do not receive (such as recent new hires who do not receive a defined pension benefit or health insurance plan after retirement)?  I ask, why should UAW members pay 2.5% of their hourly rate to replenish money to a strike fund which UAW leadership depleted at a rate of 42 million dollars per year (1)?  Stover says, “Not paying dues weakens the union…”, I say, “Not paying dues is a sign to start earning those union dues!”

In Brezovsky’s particular article he speaks of the union fighting for member benefits and mentions the “Battle of the Overpass” and the fight for unionization.  That battle took place in 1937!  How much will this particular battle cost current union members Brezovsky?  Are they obliged to pay for it the rest of their lives?  How much “fighting” has Brezovsky done for the few members he has in his unit?  Is it comparable to the fight at the overpass?  Has he or any of the other local unit presidents shed any blood defending your rights?  They are all classic “yes men” and in no way comparable to those who fought the Battle of the Overpass.  Who are the free-riders really?  All unit presidents, such as Brezovsky, in their position usually as a result of rampant union nepotism, collecting a 12 hr / 7 day a week paycheck, are simply looking to further the political wishes of their leaders as lackeys so they can climb up the union ladder.

Brezovsky’s loosely stated facts do not tell all.  According to a Detroit News article from January of 2015, “The Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that the percentage of unionized workers nationwide fell from 11.3 percent in 2013 to 11.1 percent in 2014 — the lowest level since before the Great Depression. In Michigan, the decline was much steeper, dropping from 16.3 percent to 14.5 percent. In real numbers, the headcount of union members in Michigan fell by 48,000, even as the workforce grew by 44,000 (2).”  According to an unrelated article, “…residents of forced-unionism states are forking over 32.9% of their total personal income in taxes, a 5.1% higher share than the national average, and a 12.3% higher share than the Right to Work state average (3).”  Another article states that, “On average, …employment growth is twice as high in states that have a right-to-work law and minimum wages that are below average across states, and the difference is “statistically significant”—meaning that it is unlikely to have occurred by chance. GDP grows about 1 1/2 times faster over this period in those states. (4)”

In contrast to Brezovsky’s “facts”, “When adjusting for cost of living, workers in right-to-work states have 4.1 percent higher per-capita personal incomes than workers in non-right-to-work states.  Between 2001 and 2011, right-to-work states added 1.7 million jobs while forced-unionism states lost 2.1 million jobs.  Further, the vast majority of jobs created since the great recession ended have been in states with a right-to-work law and since June of 2009 household employment growth in right-to-work states was two and a half times as much as non-right-to-work states; 4.4 percent compared to just 1.7 percent (5).”

So Brezovsky, why do you and the lackeys fear RTW, and who really are the “free-riders”?

A Proud RTW’r,
Todd Lemire



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Forced Union Dues and the Freedom to Choose

A recent 140 character discussion with a fellow twitterer regarding the UAW prompted me to think, are forced union dues a violation of a workers’ civil rights?  Yes they are!

This discussion was prompted by an article in the Detroit News titled, “UAW works to get members to vote” during which the Right-to-Work topic was brought up.  My twitter friend stated,

“I’m still on the fence with it all because although I do believe each member should have the choice to pay dues, I also believe if you choose not to pay dues, you lose any and all of union negotiated benefits.”

He goes on to state,

“I agree there should be a choice to pay dues, but with the choice not to pay comes consequences.  Just like I have the freedom to pay my bills or not, if I choose not to pay them, eventually I’ll lose whatever those bills pay for.”

So my twitter friend believes that my civil right to life, my right to make my own choices, my right to make a career choice that’s right for me, my right to make my own personal decisions all should be denied to me on the basis of whether or not I pay a forced membership fee to an organization whose ideology I do not support or believe in.

He then  goes on to state,

“Everyone in the union had that freedom of choice when they were hired in. If people are so up in arms over paying dues they should have refused the job to work in a union establishment. We all had the choice.”

Is that a rational statement?  Of course not.

I would have to ask my twitter friend, is this scenario rational?  You recently move into  city “Z”, that 75 years ago, Cable Company “X” provided the infrastructure for.  As a condition of living in this city, you MUST pay $150/month for this cable service and you MUST purchase it from Cable Company “X”, who with a monopoly, is not accountable for the the level of service it provides, because it is the sole provider.  According to you my twitter friend, I should tell you to move to a place you would rather not live if you don’t like the single choice for cable provided by Cable Company “X”.  I wouldn’t think of imposing such irrationality on you.

Being forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment is not freedom of choice.   Being forced to choose from only one union for representation is not freedom of choice.  In exchange for my right to pursue a career most beneficial to me I am mandated to pay union dues to only one available union!  So basically what my friend, and most die-hard union members are suggesting is I should be punished for demanding a free choice, punished for exercising my civil rights, and be denied economic autonomy based on mandated membership in the one and only available union organization.

He states,

“…they can opt out. I have no issue with that but once they opt out, they should lose 100% of what they receive benefit wise from the union.”

This denial of civil rights, evidenced in his statement above, is a direct contradiction to what he and the UAW organization claim to stand for and protect.  It is a direct violation of both democratic and UAW principles.  What a blatant hypocrisy!  His statement also shows how the UAW has convinced their members that it is the UAW that provides these benefits to the employee.   These benefits are provided and funded by the company, not the UAW!  Putting that aside for just a moment, consider this, could I, or another union have negotiated the same or better benefits?  One will never know because of mandates imposed on employees by the UAW or other unions in non right-to-work states.

So can I, as someone with principles that are mainly conservative and generally agree with those of the Republican Party be guaranteed equal representation and equal treatment at the workplace if I have chosen not to fund the Democratic leaning UAW? Can I expect the UAW, like it says on their website, to secure equal economic and social justice for all people?  Could I ask that the dues collected from me be donated to the Republican Party? No, I have learned that I cannot expect to be treated equally by an organization that considers itself to be the epitome of equality and protector of civil rights.

If the UAW were truly about equality and truly supported the principles they say they do then they would not fear free choice in the workplace.  They would not fear people opting-out of paying forced union dues.  They would not fear that the services they provide are not worth the price being paid.  They would not fear other unions representing employees, nor fear the employee representing themselves in the workplace.  They would not fear a policy giving members the freedom to request an equitable portion of their union dues go to a political party other than the Democrats.  Right-to-Work is an impetus for the union to truly recognize equality and let the employees determine the truth worth of what the UAW does or does not provide.

A recent article states the union dumped 7.5 million dollars into the governor’s races in Michigan and Wisconsin.   How much choice did union members have in allocating their money to such an expense?  What choice did those UAW members who have a different political affiliation have?  Thanks to Right-To-Work an employee’s hard earned money will no longer be spent without a truly free choice.

To be fair to my twitter friend, yes, I knew what I was getting into when I took the job at Ford Motor.  I also knew what the starting pay scale was and I knew that it was the right decision for me to take the job, as my civil rights guarantee me.  I did not have a choice to take the job AND forego the union dues.  I did not have a choice to choose a union other than the UAW.    Right-to-work has given me back my freedom to choose, has given me back my civil rights and I no longer will be asked to pay the price for battles fought long ago.  At the upcoming contract expiration I will truly be able to say “Paid In Full”.

Here are two great articles promoting free choice.

Vernuccio: Bring democracy to Michigan workplaces
Volkswagen Opens Door to Employees For Self-Representation

Give me a choice and I may choose differently.  If there is no other choice than the UAW, I choose to opt out!

Todd Lemire

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Michigan Right to Work – Leaving UAW Local 600

I have decided to share the process that I have taken to separate myself from the UAW and Local 600 in hopes of making this procedure easier for others who may wish to do the same.  I started this process beginning in April of 2014 by writing a letter to the International UAW exercising my Beck Rights (view the letter here and 2012 Report of Expenditures here) and subsequently giving up not only my membership privileges, but most importantly taking back a portion of my paycheck that I was forced to pay to the UAW in support of the democratic party.

I in turn received a reply from International UAW dated April 22, 2014 stating they received my Beck Objection letter (see letter here) and they are notifying Ford Motor Company to change the amount of union dues deducted to 62.39% of my normal union dues allocation with an effective date of April 1st, 2014.  At this point you would think the rest of the process is pretty cut and dry. Unfortunately not.  Unbeknownst to me the notification letter UAW sent to Ford Motor Payroll (see letter here) was mailed to an invalid address.  This was not discovered until after many fruitless attempts were made by me to discover why full union dues were still being collected illegally by the UAW.  It was only after I mailed my opt-out letter to International UAW (see letter here) and Ford Motor Payroll, to the same address which the UAW mailed my Beck request letter to, did I realize there was a problem.  The registered letter I mailed was never received by Ford Motor Payroll and was returned to me undeliverable.  How long would the UAW let this matter go unresolved?  How long would they illegally collect full union dues after their acknowledgement of my Beck Rights?  Would the UAW have notified me of their undeliverable letter mailed to an incorrect address for Ford Motor Payroll?  Only after I contacted the National Right To Work Legal Defense Fund did the UAW begin to address a resolution.

On June 19,  National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Inc. accepted me as a client.

As of July 19, 2014 there has been no resolution with the UAW and full dues are still being collected from me illegally.  NTRW, on July 10, 2014, requested from the Local 600 Financial Secretary, a full refund of the illegally collected dues and a copy of the Dues Authorization Card that I signed upon my employment which allows the UAW to automatically withdraw union dues from my paycheck.  I must emphasize here that I previously requested this refund and copy of my dues authorization card numerous times from my UAW Local 600 Financial Secretary and my HR Manager with no success.  My HR Manager stated the card was not in my employee file, and the UAW Local 600 Financial Secretary stated he would check into it, but never answered my request.  An email reply was received to NTRW’ s request, on July 14, 2014, from UAW Local 600 Attorney stating that my requests are being processed as quickly as possible.

As of today, July 19, 2014 the only communication I have received from the UAW is one dated July 18 2014, which is a letter notifying me that dues for Agency Fee Objectors will now be increased to 68.60% from 62.39% (See letter here and revised 2013 UAW Expenditure Report here).  Not only has the UAW seen a need to increase regular membership dues, more money will now be collected from those who choose to exercise their Beck Rights.

All of this is being done not only because I object politically but I’m preparing to exercise my right to soon opt out of UAW Local 600 permanently upon contract expiration.  As a short aside and of importance to those UAW members who wish to exercise their “Right To Work” the UAW, on June 23, 2014 sent me a letter outlining Section 14 of Public Act 348 of 2012 (Michigan’s Right to Work Law), stating that I may formally exercise my rights by submitting my request to opt out of the union in the 30 day period prior to the expiration date of my current contract (September 2015) or at any time I wish thereafter (see letter here).  Hopefully we will have paved the way for the process of smoothly opting out of the UAW by then.

Update ————————————-

On July 23rd, 2014 I was visited by my Local 600 Financial Secretary and my Unit President and given a refund check for 3 months (still awaiting a full July refund) in the amount of $73.50.  I also received my deduction authorization form (see language here) which explains there is only a small 10 day window for which a member may revoke their dues authorization based on one’s own individual anniversary date.  It will be interesting to see how the dues revocation process language here plays out when the current contract expires.

Update ————————————-

On August 1st, 2014 – UAW refunded the remaining portion of my dues for the month of July in the amount of $24.50.

Update ————————————–

August 7, 2014 – Full dues still being deducted from most recent check.  Will continue to move forward in the process.

Update —————————————

August 21, 2014 – National Right to Work issues a press release regarding the charges filed on my behalf with the National Labor Relations Board against the UAW and Ford Motor Company.  Click the link below to read the release.

National Right to Work News Release

Ford Employee Slaps UAW & Company with Federal Charges for Illegal Dues Deductions

Detroit Free Press Coverage on Press Release (Click to Read Article)

Fox News Business Varney & Co. Video Clip with Mark Mix – President of National Right to Work talking about my RTW Case (Click to View Video)

Update —————————————-

September 18, 2014 – As of today I’m officially a successful Beck Objector!  The charges with the NLRB against Ford Motor Company were dropped after the correct percentage of union dues were deducted.  Myself and one other Ford Motor Company employee were the first to file their Beck Rights which resulted in Ford Motor Payroll subsequently having to change their payroll system to accommodate “percentage calculations” rather than their simply selecting a Yes/No to Union Dues check-box.  Today the UAW refunded what was completely owed to me which resulted in the charges against the UAW with the NLRB to be dropped.

The next step of this process may or may not be met with resistance and that will be when I reach my anniversary date of May 26, 2015, when I will file the necessary letter revoking my dues checkoff authorization card.  This will stop automatic payroll deduction of my union dues and allow me to pay them on my own accord.  I will keep you posted.

Update ————————————–

August 20, 2015 – This will be the final update to this posting.  On May 7, 2015 I submitted my Dues Revocation Letter to Ford Motor company for which upon receipt they immediately suspended my dues check-off authorization as well as the deduction of union dues from my check.  This process was met with no resistance and as of June 1,2015 I no longer paid union dues to local 600.

On August 17th, 2015 I mailed my Union Resignation letter to International UAW formally exercising my Right to Work and resigned fully from the union.  I am no longer a Local 600 Union member working in a closed union shop.

This has been quite an adventure.  Hopefully I can help others truly exercise their right to work and gain freedom from forced union dues and forced union membership.  The UAW Ford Motor Company contract will expire September 14, 2015 and those who choose to resign from the union can do so 30 days prior to contract expiration and/or anytime thereafter.  Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance in helping forced union members truly become free.

Todd Lemire

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Why I’m Opting out of the Union

Below is a letter that was generated after 16 years as a member of the UAW.  I recently started paying attention to where and how the UAW spends the memberships’ dues and it has directly led me to remove myself as a member.  Until our contract expires on September of 2015 I will be forced to pay Agency Fees amounting to approximately 62% of what a normal dues paying member pays.  Right to Work has given me back the freedom to choose not to finance the ideology of the Democratic Party against my will.  Please feel free to share this letter with others who may feel the same.

To my UAW brothers and sisters,

As a man in the skilled trades, I have greatly benefited from all of the hard work, sacrifices and efforts of the founding UAW leaders and members. I make a good wage, work in a safe environment, have protection from unfair labor practices, carry comprehensive medical coverage, get several weeks paid vacation, paid holidays, and will be retiring with a pension. I thank the men and women of the UAW that went broke during sit-ins, died in strikes, and struggled through uncertain times to build a strong union. UAW workers have paid with their wages, safety and even their lives.

But how long are we members expected to pay for the successes of the past? I will pay $3,389 in dues during the current four-year contract and if the dues increase I will pay $4,234 for the next contract. I am not averse to paying dues but need to see a better stewardship of my money before I will agree to pay any more.

Times have changed but unfortunately the UAW has not changed with them. The UAW clings to strategies of the past that will not work in today’s world. They demand our loyalty and money, citing their glories of yesterday, while making no gains for us today and putting us in danger by depleting our strike fund. It is clear the UAW has no plan to rethink its strategy and will continue to spend money it doesn’t have on a tactic that repeatedly fails.

Here’s the UAW’s big plan: Unionize the south.

Here’s the flaw:
The southern non-union worker cannot see the benefit of joining the UAW when they look at our union of late:

• Two-tier pay
• No pension for new hires
• Pay freezes
• Theft of the “Strike Fund”
• Dues increasing
• Unaudited spending

Why would a southern man want to give his hard-earned money to an organization that has no control on its current spending and has made no gains for its current members?

I do not believe the UAW leadership has the willingness or ability to make the changes necessary to secure the union’s future. If they will not admit that they are accountable for many of the obstacles they face, then how will they ever overcome them? They blame “outside billionaires” for the failure to unionize the south, yet they refuse to admit the following is their responsibility:

• Public opinion for the union is at its lowest
• Current members are disenfranchised and have no connection to their leadership
• Southern Republican workers cannot relate to the northern Democratic UAW

I think of the saying, “A bird in hand is better than in two in the bush.” UAW leadership is so consumed with the drive in the south, that they have taken their eyes and ears off the members in the north. We have become checkbooks to their unfettered spending and planning. Until they treat their existing members with value, workers in the south will see no value in the union.

With great thought and regret, I have concluded that the only way I can truly support my union is to stop funding it. If I continue to feed the beast it will not stop until it has devoured all we’ve accomplished.

Todd Lemire
Local 600

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Reply to UAW Letter on Increasing Union Dues and Handout

Recently at my place of employment, Ford Motor Company, Bob King had his representatives handing out a letter that is part of a campaign to convince the UAW members how they need to increase our union dues by 25%.  That letter can be found here and the FAQ that generated my reply can be found here.  Below you will find our reply.  Credit and thanks go to my wife Danette for researching and putting together the financial data in the handout and reply.  Please feel free to download and distribute a copy of this letter and the highlighted handout which can be downloaded using the links below.

Reply to Bob King’s February 14, 2014 Letter concerning UAW Dues Increase

     Mr. King, the UAW has had a great history of collective bargaining, but what are the costs being paid by UAW members?  Does the UAW-IEB Regional Directors and International Officers, (the Upper Echelon of the UAW) understand who it is they claim to represent?  Does this UAW “Upper Class” understand those UAW workers who agree with the principal of protecting the worker but disagree with the partisan politics that the UAW-IEB espouses and the financial cost of such partisan politics?  Mr. King, your letter claims to not be about funding partisan politics, however you mention, “the interference of billionaire-funded outside groups”, interfering with UAW attempts to organize.  This is a direct statement about politics; partisan politics which you spend UAW time and money on and for which you are now requesting an increase in funding under a disguised “Strike/Defense” fund.  You directly state in the pro-member FAQ that the Strike/Defense Fund cannot be used for such political purposes yet you state this as one of the main upcoming challenges the UAW faces.  It is all about politics and you alienate those 40% of households, who are politically active UAW voting members who have party affiliations other than the one you spend our money on.

The UAW total spending for political activities, gifts and contributions is over $30,000,000. 11.8 million to liberal groups, 1.2 million to Priorities USA a pro-Obama SuperPac, 1.8 million to Federal candidates and this year alone over $178,000 to Democratic candidates only.  Again, what about those currently employed UAW dues paying members of other parties?  How are you an equal representation of them?  Why should they shoulder costs associated with different ideological political beliefs but yet still believe in and support a workplace union?

In regards to pro-member, your letter mentions several “core-elements” to address including improved communication, operational efficiencies, and cost cutting.  I’d like to talk about the last two.  Communication does not seem to be as big a problem both in regards to lines of communication being open between the UAW and their members and those same lines being open between the UAW and the Press.  On a local individual unit level, at least in my experience, these lines of communication could use improving.  Our unit leadership is out of touch.

Operational efficiencies and cost cutting is a different story.  You are “challenging members” to be a part of that process.  How much has our UAW-IEB leadership cut costs?  I’m challenging the UAW “Upper Echelon” to be a part of that cost cutting process.  Not just in words but consistent meaningful cost cutting action.  You stated that operating costs of the UAW was the reason for reallocation of resources from the strike fund.  Have you studied your operating costs lately?  The Black Lake Golf course is subsidized for over $5,000,000 a year!  UAW has spent over 1.4 million in airfare, 3.7 million in hotels, and .3 million in car rentals and if you add bus rental and food supplies and conference centers it adds up to over $6,000,000!  You and the UAW-IEB Upper Echelon are hemorrhaging our cash.

Has UAW leadership pay seen any increase since 2010?  Are the Regional Directors and International Officers, as wells as Union Employees any lighter in their pockets since 2010? You state the UAW has cut costs by $15 million, that is 5% of UAW spending and yet you turn around and ask for a 25% increase in our dues?  You claim the UAW has reduced staff by 38% yet payroll is still about 46 million and it’s been the same since 2010, which means fewer people getting more money!  Raising our dues by 25% is not an option.

You are correct; a robust strike fund is a strong deterrent.  Simply put, stop withdrawing from it!  How can you guarantee that this proposed dues increase will only go into a “Strike/Defense” fund?  Like in the past, it goes into such a fund and is then withdrawn into a “general fund” for “operational/representational” costs.   Your letter also mentions getting excellent value for our hard-earned dues dollar.  What did you spend in your attempts to organize VW and what value did we receive as dues paying members for that expenditure?  You go on to mention increased employer aggression which wasn’t the case with the attempt to organize VW, yet with a willing and cooperative employer our money was spent and organization failed.

How convenient is your need to finance a renamed “Strike/Defense” fund?  This fund is a tool to allow the UAW to collect more money from those who DO NOT now or for the foreseeable future even have the ability to strike.  So, let me see if I understand this correctly.  By renaming this fund to the Strike/Defense Fund you are now able to “represent” better those who cannot even strike?  This sounds like a political defense fund to me, of which one already exists, V-CAP.

Mr. King, your letter states you want to eliminate the two-tiered pay system.  Why was this allowed in the first place, along with new hires receiving no pension?  Our dues were paid to protect us from such concessions at the bargaining table.  Who are you blaming for deals such as those?  We supposedly pay for such “protection”.  Now we will pay twice, dues for you to concede to the two-tier/no pension system, and now we pay again to try to remove it?  With wages being substantially decreased via this two-tier system and a government subsidized ACA (pushed into law by UAW’S chosen party) providing health care, what does the UAW have to offer if these bargaining points are quickly becoming mute issues?

In your letter you completely alienate UAW members who do not share your political beliefs or party association.  This is a right to work state now and with the upcoming contract we no longer have to pay membership dues.  Are you willing to take a chance in losing those dues?  What can you do to keep these dues paying members who are considering opting out?  Will you alienate those of us who currently love our union but mistrust its government or will you concede to the fact that it is time for a new and transparent game plan?

Spending is for the year 2012.
Data obtained from reports filed by UAW with Department of Labor 

Please download the flyer here and share – What? You Want to Raise My Dues 25%
Please download a copy of the above letter here and share – Reply to Bob King

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Longing for Activism

A segment of a social network

A segment of a social network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  My time off, mentioned in my last post here, has been extended until late March of 2013.  It has been quite an interesting and fruitful learning experience, and the lessons continue.

I’ve recently started reading the book by Amit Goswami titled, “How Quantum Activism Can Save Civilization”.  I was led to this book via the December Science of Mind monthly publication which featured an article on Mr. Goswami.  After reading this article and recently attending a 3 week selfless service spiritual retreat in New York, I realized I longed to make a difference in society.  I recognized my inner longing to affect societal change, yet I lacked understanding of how to go about this?  I have questions such as, “Where do I start?”, “How do I affect this change locally?”, “How do I choose a type of activism that can really make a difference?”, “Do I join with others or set out on my own?”, “Is my volunteer work at the local food pantry just this type of activism?” and so forth.  I’ve only begun to read the book and will be watching the documentary again soon, so I do not have the answers to these questions yet.

In the current stage of my life I have a desire to become less self-centered, less selfish and  I don’t mean this in a critical way, but rather from a sincere desire and motive to help others.  In the words of Amit Goswami,

“We must use quantum physics guidance to restore spirituality and unity to our society, to our social institutions.”

How can I help in this restoration process?  How do I stimulate my creativity?  In the workbook associated with Goswami’s book, he states,

“To liberate the genie is to deal with our negative emotions. We live in an age when we interact with machines more than we do with each other. In this age to give up conditioning and machine-certainty and embrace the uncertainty of emotions in the search for a creative life is a tremendous challenge.  …We must develop positive emotional brain circuits and develop them collectively.  When we do that our vital mental propensities will be inherited via the nonlocal memory of our morphogenetic fields by future generations.”

My first step is to increase human contact within my life.  Second, I will find more opportunities to connect with others and talk about and contemplate my feelings and emotions.  This is a good beginning and I invite you to share your ideas, your “first steps”.  What is sacred grace leading you to do?

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,., decision making

,., decision making (Photo credit: nerovivo)

How my perception changes astounds me. To share how so I’ll begin by saying, I’ve just begun an extended time off work, approximately 3 months. I still have an income during this time but not to the same extent when working full-time.

During 2010 I had a similar period of time off lasting 8 months. In the process of deciding to take the time off in 2010 I experienced a deep fear of not only making this decision, but a fear of the unknown consequences.

I had let society teach me that my identity was embedded in what I did for a living, how much I made, and how big my house was and how much “stuff” it could hold. This was the measurement of what I deemed being a success in life was.

I was not sure of who I’d be if I did not get up in the morning and go to work in the factory. I had become dependent on a lifestyle that had forced me to work every overtime opportunity that was available, leaving me very little time to experience life or myself with my full undivided attention. Something I was traditionally not accustomed to doing.

Who was I and could I be with myself and others without the familiar mask of society’s male employee/factory worker/homeowner?

During the decision-making process of the 2010 “sabbatical”, my friend, who is now my wife, encouraged me to take a leap of faith, which she had more of in God and me than I had in God and myself. I was going through a divorce, selling my house, discarding long-held belongings that were stored and which I had not used or seen in quite a few years.  Being a creature of habit and ritual and totally afraid of change, I made the decision to take the 8 months off, with her encouragement, beginning a journey of discarding my “small” self and becoming familiar with my larger inner spiritual Self, fears and all.

Now what am I going to be?  I’m not going to work every morning, I’m not earning what I should be earning? I’m a man and how do I now determine my worth?

After making it through the 2010 experience and coming out of the other side of it married, moving to a new house, and living lightly, I view the upcoming 2012 experience in an entirely different light. The fear is no longer here. I did not feel overwhelmed or anxious during the decision-making process, but instead experienced a sense of anticipation and joy. I do not worry if I can make ends meet on a reduced income. I no longer wonder what I will do with the extended time I will be spending with myself. I no longer place money and a false sense of self-identity of who I or society think I am ahead of what God knows I really am. I am learning to value time with myself and with the ones I love. I do not have to know exactly what I’m going to do every day and I can be comfortable with letting events unfold as God creates them.  I am not in control, yet I’ve come to appreciate the familiar discomfort of change that leads to growth. My faith in God has grown, changing my perception of who I am, and of how I see the world around me.

My perception of the 2012 experience was transformed, through Sacred Grace, from a fear based one into one of intimacy, joy, anticipation, serenity, continued learning, and increased self-awareness.

How do you see things?

Sacred Grace


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Surrendering Resistances


fear (Photo credit: siette)

In Dr. David Hawkins book, “Transcending the Levels of Consciousness – Stairway to Enlightenment”, he states, “…the rate of evolution is up to the individual’s willingness to surrender resistances.”

What are some of the things you resist?  Do you resist giving or receiving Love? Do you resist intimacy?  Do you resist being wrong? Do you resist the surrender of control or power? Do you resist your more feminine or masculine characteristics? Do you resist your spouse or children, mother-in-law, etc.?  Do you resist the expression of your emotions?

In this same book he states, “Fear propagates in the individual by resistance and recedes with acceptance…

Prior to my retreat my resistances were even more pronounced (see previous post). Afterwards I seem to have a greater capacity for seeing them before fear begins to propagate. The increased Self awareness that comes from consistent spiritual work, transforms these resistances into opportunities to practice acceptance.

One such opportunity arose recently when having to confront my neighbor regarding a fence he was building, adjacent to ours, which wasn’t up to code.  I found myself resisting this boundary setting experience immensely!  I found that I resist confrontation with others and my body simply reels internally when such opportunities for this type of growth appear.  My wife and I asked for grace to approach this situation bravely despite our resistance and we resolved to accept my neighbors reaction with as little judgement as possible.

Needless to say he wasn’t receptive to the boundaries we were asking to be set and walked away frustrated during our discussion.  Although no resolution was reached, almost immediately my resistance and the resultant fear disappeared and acceptance settled in.  I had approached the situation in a mature manner despite my initial hesitancy and anxiety and his reaction didn’t toss me.  We were able to patiently give him the time necessary for our communication to be processed and a peaceful resolution quickly followed.

Fear normally would have brought up a defensive reaction from me towards this experience, but instead surrender and sacred grace allowed me room to grow.

What have you resisted lately?

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Spiritual Intimacy


experiencing (Photo credit: yoghaert)

 The date is drawing near for my upcoming spiritual retreat, May 18th.   Last September was my first experience at this retreat, which I attended with my wife, and it was unforgettable.  I was graced with more than one opportunity to be in the presence and imbibe the teachings of my Spiritual Master as well as experience a spiritual intimacy with my wife the likes of which I’ve never known.  I am looking forward to the purifying inner work and the energetic and physical cleansing provided during and after this retreat. 

Often times, prior to such retreats I experience an increase in the level of my emotions that often makes me uncomfortable. Things from the past mostly, things that I’ve been working on for years that seem to rear their ugly head at times like these.  Trust issues, self-doubt, unworthiness, anger and irritation, etc.  These are feelings and emotions that my “small self” would love to bury rather than experience in their fullest, in turn freeing me from their egotistical and dualistic worldly bondage.  I’m in the midst of those feelings now.  Part of me knows they are temporary, yet my ego wants me to believe the opposite. How do we get to the point of being able to free ourselves from this internal ego-generated madness?

Know Thyself  – this is the theme that I’ve been contemplating this month as part of my daily spiritual practice. This contemplation and daily focus gives me true knowledge of myself and answers the question above.  I’ve had to train myself to see me as God sees me. Repetitively change and/or stop that endless cycle of thoughts and judgments that crop up from my ego.  Know that I AM worthy, I AM trusting, I AM self-confident, I AM deserving.  Simply know I AM.

After my retreat I will quickly forget how I feel now, because, like last year, the feelings now have reminded me of similar feelings I had prior to the retreat last year.  In so many ways I have grown as an individual and as a husband.  How I’m reminded today the work I still need to do.  I AM knowing myself, my “higher self”.  Life is a journey and these internal struggles are resulting in an increased intimacy with myself and others. A conscious evolution of my soul all within the context of my God and Masters’ Sacred Grace.

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Let’s Share

Well, here we go…

I’ve been looking for a way to help others and connect with other householders consciously involved in the daily experience of spiritual evolution.  I’ve come to believe that my evolution of consciousness, in the midst of this particular life, can best be understood by sharing it with those of you who may wander here.

I want to hear from you and I welcome and look forward to your comments, ideas, opinions and suggestions.  Glad you’ve joined me in the midst of this Sacred Grace….

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