The Szen Zone MECH.indd

A Sixty-Word SZEN Story:

All of the movies and videos were organized by title and genre and all of the labels were facing out so he could easily search to find the film of the week. His collection was enormous and the Sunday evening film ritual was something that he cherished – movie, popcorn, and delight. He hit play and gasped. The VCR had died.

And more…

Sometimes things that we get pretty used to go away. The VCR, the rotary phone and lunch served in coach class plus friends that move, or relationships that fade are a few examples. And whenever something is taken off of the shelf we choose from, there is a moment of searching and sometimes panic. Replacing what was with something new sounds easy enough, but not always true. Seems that change can be difficult especially when what was working fine, at least in our view, is suddenly not an option.

How we face new choices often determines if the new choice will work at all. Option 1: If we're reluctant to have something new in our lives because it's different and we resist, there is a good chance that whatever it is won't work and thus we prove to ourselves that something new isn't necessarily better. Option 2: And just as true is that if we embrace what's new we'll learn quickly to appreciate the improvement. Both of these options however have nothing to do with the object of change, but rather with our own perspective.

As the keepers of our own disposition and point of view we have the capability to judge, evaluate, endorse, reject or accept whatever we choose. So even if options are removed and things like VCRs, free television, cassette tapes, or even relationships and special people in our lives go away, we still get to choose how we feel about it. That's where the power of the human spirit lies. Our feelings about anything or anyone start with us. We choose, even if we lose.

Szenippet: If we didn't choose where we are, who did?

Szen Zone: Reaching a State of Positive Change , by Gary Szenderski, is a compilation of heartwarming and inspirational short stories that celebrate the power in each of us to create positive change in our lives.

The general overarching theme of the book is change and all of the aspects of it – creating, surviving, and managing change with the goal to recognize the power we have to create positive change in our lives and be what we want to be.

Topics covered include productivity, letting go of the past, embracing the potential of the future, and learning to take chances.

If you are a fan of short inspirational stories like those in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, then this is a book you would certainly enjoy. Wherever you may find yourself in life, you will discover an insight or example in this book to help you change course and take charge of your life.

Whereas ZEN is of the moment and what is, SZEN celebrates what could be.

Praise for Szen Zone:

"Commonly held together by the thread of positive change, each tale tells of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity… Because it's composed of so many short stories, there is really something for everyone within the pages of this inspiring book. If you're looking for a dash of hope and a sprinkling of encouragement to change for the better, then look no further than Szen Zone. It's one of those books that bears picking up again and again throughout the seasons of your life, whenever you need a solid pick-me-up." – Reviewed by Red City Review

"Szen Zone is filled with illuminating stories and anecdotes that can help point the reader to that promised state of positive change, presented in a manner that's neither didactic nor preachy. Rather, Szenderski employs an easy going and conversational style of communicating his message to his readers that made me feel as though he were there alongside me, sharing his own efforts and experiences in a spirit of frankness, honesty and sincerity… Szen Zone is a book to breeze through and be inspired by, and then to be read more slowly in no particular order of topic, concentrating rather on the concepts and thoughts which most appeal at the moment. It's an impressive self-help guide and it's highly recommended." – Reviewed by Readers' Favorite

About the Author:

Gary Szenderski is an author, speaker, teacher and branding specialist, internationally acclaimed as an expert on the subject. He specializes in helping people and organizations to navigate change, and frequently speaks and writes on the topic of emerging brands, personal branding and companies in transition. Gary is an award-winning writer, author of theBook of Szen and Szen Zone, often quoted marketing expert, and recipient of the Distinguished Instructor Award from the University of California in Irvine where he teaches branding. He resides in Southern California.

Readers can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


The Hand on the Mirror chronicles the extraordinary events that followed the loss of my husband, Max Besler, to cancer in 2004, but it's more than a "ghost story." It's the story of my spiritual journey, one that has brought me to a new understanding of the unbelievable power of love to cross the divide between life and death.

The title event refers to perhaps the most startling event, which was the appearance of a skeleton-like image of a man's handprint on the bathroom mirror next to the bedroom where Max spent his final months. I found it on the first anniversary of Max's death. My son Tanner, who was 15, sat with me on the patio, doing his homework as I handled my weekend paperwork from my job as publisher of the Sacramento Bee. No one else was in our home. I went into the bathroom, where I had been just an hour earlier, and I was floored by what I saw. I called for Tanner to come quickly, and he was as astounded as I was. I held his hand up to the X-ray-like image to be sure he couldn't have made, and I instantly saw that his hand was much smaller. Besides, I knew it wasn't a prank he would pull. I took photos, but I didn't want Tanner to see how shaken I was. After all, I was the adult here. So I did what I would do many times in the coming years. I delayed trying to decipher what I had seen. I was still in grief over Max's death, and I was struggling to keep my life, my son and my job intact. There had to be an answer; I just wasn't seeing it.

The events continued. Images appeared again on the bathroom mirror on the second and third anniversaries of Max's death. Many other things that happened were intimately connected to him. Clocks stopped at 12:44 p.m. – the precise time of Max's passing — then started again on their own. Receipts and cards with special meaning related to Max fell out of books I had randomly pulled from the thousands on Max's library shelves. Rugs moved. Lights flickered. The bathroom wall even pulsated, unexplained by plumbers or pest control experts.

Maybe all these things were just a collection of coincidences, but they kept happening. Eventually I decided to find answers the way newspaper people do — by researching. I talked with spiritual and scientific experts, and what I found was a revelation. Many people had these kinds of experiences. Ultimately, my understanding of our souls' survival after death began to change, and I realized I needed to share this with those who have quietly worried they might be crazy or face ridicule if they talk about otherworldly experiences. I know that the love that binds us has the power to cross boundaries that humans don't typically step across. We should be happy and grateful for those connections, not embarrassed by them. I also hope my story will spur serious dialogue about how science can help us, as it has over the generations, to understand things that we can't explain yet. And that, I know, would make Max happy.

About the Author:

Janis Heaphy Durham was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1951. After earning a bachelors and a masters degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, she was hired in the advertising department at the Los Angeles Times, where she rose to senior vice president of advertising. In 1998 she was named the first publisher of the Sacramento Bee. Under her leadership the newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes.  Janis retired in 2008 and lives between Idaho and Florida with her husband, Jim Durham.

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I've recently had the great pleasure of reading a book on The Real Rules of Life

It reminds me, very much, of something I wrote previously – the New Rules For Life.  To refresh, when I looked at this – I defined four high level rules which essentially comprise our life:

  • You have this moment.
    Life is made up of our moments.  Moments – just like this very second, right now, that you are here, reading.  You have chosen how to use this moment.  And even when we are in a place that is not our choosing, we still (always) choose our response.  That response – ALWAYS – is yours.  In every moment. 
  • You are a spiritual being having a human experience.
    Stop.  No, really stop.  Stop and be still.  Silent.  Just you and your breath.  As thoughts come, just let them go.  How amazing is this!  This physical body of ours – bones, skin, muscles, tissues, organs – all make up your being.  There is just still so much more to you, though.  So much more than this physical body that you are in!  There is something just so much deeper about you – and who you are!  Your soul…that which makes you YOU!  It's not something we can see (like our fingers or toes).  Our soul…our spiritual being…that deep part of us that is both mysterious and known…beautiful and amazing…
  • Love matters.
    Do you have a pet?  Have you held a tiny baby?  In its purest form, these are beings that love.  And accept love.  Think about this.  Or, even more importantly – feel this.  Feel this in your soul.  That thought of holding a tiny, unprotected baby.  Love. 

    Now, feel that in everything you do.  In everyone you encounter.  In your being.  Love. 

    And imagine, if you will, for a moment – a world filled with this.  Love, which is already at our core,  Love…that connects, that breaks down barriers, that lifts up, that cares, that feels, that shows, that touches, that understands…that matters…

  • Everything else is negotiable.
    You make the rules.  This is YOUR life.  This life of yours – it is not the life of your boss, your lover, your parents, your employer, your customers, your friends, your foes, your government, your religion. This life – the one you are living right now – is for you. 

In the book The Real Rules of Life – author Ken Druck ties into all of this so wonderfully, and then expands these "rules" and really digs further into their meaning in our lives.  And he does this from a deep place of compassion – tying it into the loss he personally experienced when his daughter died unexpectedly while doing missionary work.

What I really liked about this book was it's focus – each chapter – on specific things we can do in our lives to bring these "rules" more fully into our being. 

If this idea of what the "true" rules are in life is something that resonates with you – Ken's book is a worthy read, and one that will be a guide for living a healthy (in all aspects) life.

~ Comments Closed ~

by Lance Ekum

Daddy and Me
Creative Commons License photo credit: fauxto_digit

"The human soul is God's treasury, out of which he coins unspeakable riches." ~ Henry Ward Beecher


What is that, anyway?

The dictionary defines soul as the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life.


As I think about this, I'm drawn to a time many years ago.  Just an ordinary day, and I was out cutting the lawn.  Nothing at all special about this day…and everything special about this day.

And isn't every day like that.  Days filled with the seemingly ordinary (…no matter how truly ordinary or not we see our lives).  A cup of coffee in the morning.  Wearing that favorite pair of shoes.  Conversation with a loved one.  Playing with your kids.  Bedtime rituals.  Sleep.

Don't get me wrong – I am all for new experiences, for living life to its fullest, to feeling fully alive.  And much of these "living life to the fullest" moments might feel anything but ordinary.

Within all of that, though, the ordinary moments of our day.

…I was just out cutting the lawn.  The sun shining, on a typical summer day.

And in a moment, I just felt this deep connection to the Universe, to God, to something beyond.  It was as if everything was brighter, that the sky surrounded me with its presence, that the earth was alive with newness. 

It's a feeling that is hard to fully describe.  In that instant, in those moments…I felt that connection to a deeper part of me…to a deeper part of this world.


This moment, in the seemingly very ordinary of my day….  Not something I was seeing with my eyes, and yet I was.  Not something I was hearing with my ears, and yet I was. 

That connection to something deeper within you, the voice that speaks if you quiet yourself and listen.

Soul.  It's within us all.

I've just finished reading a book – Soul to Soul Parenting, by Annie Burnside

Annie has written about her spiritual journey, and how she continues that journey today with her husband and their three children.  Just like any other family – the Burnside family has moments where kids argue, where parents become stressed, where daily life causes moments that are challenging.


Except that Annie and her family have built opportunities into their days to more fully connect to soul. 

…in the ordinary of their days.

This is a wonderful book, with practical ideas to more fully reach, teach, and love from a soul level. 

…from that place where we truly DO feel connected to a deeper part of our own being…of the world around us.

As I let these words from Annie soak more deeply into my soul, I am drawn to my own family.  Are there ways that I can be more fully connected to my soul?  Are there ways that the ordinary of my day can be more fully infused with a deeper sense of my being?  And, how am I helping my children to more fully connect to the soul of their being?

Annie's book will give you actionable ideas on ways to do this, for YOUR family.  That's what is so great about this – there are a number of easy to do things that will bring that connection more deeply into being. 

If you're looking for ways to more fully connect with your children, or children that are a part of your life in some way – Soul to Soul Parenting is so worth reading.

And as you go forth in your day today, may you know that there is extraordinary in the normal-ness of your day.

Soak it in.  Soak in the beauty of this day, the beauty of being alive, the beauty of getting to do all that this day brings!

You’re Beautiful!…Yes, YOU!

by Lance Ekum

photo credit: * Cati Kaoe * “Smile. Life is beautiful, and so are you.” ~ Unknown What is beautiful, anyway? Really.  What is it? Think about that.  How would you describe the word beautiful?  (hint: I believe it’s personal) Okay. Now, how about YOU?  Look in the mirror.  (I’ll wait)  And while you are there…tell […]

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What Is Awesome?

by Lance Ekum

Note:  If you are having trouble viewing this, please click here. “The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore A W E S O M E !! Rain hair. Getting grass stains. The smell of crayons. Picking up a q and u at the same time when playing Scrabble. […]

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There Is Greatness Within

by Lance Ekum

  photo credit: AndyFitz  “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” ~ Wilma Rudolph  Greatness.  It’s in all of us. Have you ever observed someone doing something that truly seems beyond greatness?  […]

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Think And Grow Rich

by Lance Ekum

photo credit: gutter “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” ~ Napoleon Hill Think and Grow Rich History has provided us with many great resources upon which we can use to improve ourselves and our lives.  One such resource is a book written by Napoleon Hill in 1937 – Think and […]

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I’m a Winner

by Lance Ekum

Thanks to a contest going on recently over at the Clever Dude Blog , I am now the proud owner of a new book on America’s healthcare system.  The book is Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely , By Davis Liu, MD.  I’ll be reading it soon, and then get a review of the book […]

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