Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Real People Feature: BJ Honeycutt

Beej and his ladies
Who are you?

Not sure since I am still evolving. A few of my labels- My name is BJ Honeycutt. I am a 66-year-old lover (of life), father, husband, grandfather, teacher, mentor, friend and elder- living primarily in Atlanta, GA and surrounding communities.

The majority of my time since retirement has been spent studying and teaching at the Atlanta Shambhala Meditation Center, volunteering with the Mankind Project of Georgia and Boys to Men of Georgia, and occasionally wood carving.

I am fortunate enough to be married to the most special lady in the universe, Cheryl Baer Honeycutt. For the past 6 years, Cheryl and I have led weekly sessions of a community arts program called "Art and Fearlessness" at the Atlanta Shambhala Meditation Center.

What is the best advice you've ever given or received and why?

This one is very challenging since I have received so much wonderful advice from so many people, young and old, throughout my life. I would have to say that the best, by far, is learning to live and be in the present moment.

I have spent much of my life worrying about the past or the future- often at the expense of the only moment any of us have, which is the present moment. That's not to say that there is no room for reviewing and planning, but when I do that, I try to remain in the present. I practice this daily by doing sitting meditation and living a mindfully aware life.

What has been the greatest challenge in your life and why?

One of my many great challenges was surviving childhood.

When I was five, my parents placed me and my two brothers and sister in foster care. We lived there until I was 11, at which time, our parents returned to pick up where they'd left off. Talk about abandonment issues...Needless to say, that didn't work out very well. By the time I was fifteen, I moved out, got a job and an apartment until joining the U.S. Navy a few days after my seventeenth birthday.

For many years, I carried a lot of shame around this and would rarely talk about my past. The power of many years of tears, therapy, and friends cannot be overstated. 
One of BJ's recent wood carvings
What has been the greatest joy in your life and why?

My greatest joy in life is "life." So many people live with regrets- I have none.  I've made quite a number of mistakes that I am not proud of, but "all" of my experiences have made me who I am today. Change one thing and I would not be who I am. Just like you, I am basically a good person trying to enjoy this experience. The joy in my life is the result of the choices that I make- moment to moment.

One of the many great choices I have made was to have children. I cannot imagine having lived this life without children. Very few days pass that I don't have the opportunity to be a father and learn from my children (two in their 40s and one 26).

I would be remiss if I did not honor the life of my deceased son, who passed September 28, 1998. He was born with genetic issues and suffered with numerous health problems. During his short 25 years of life, he taught me a great deal about life and love- mostly love.

The universe, at times, seems to have a strange way of compensating us for what we most desperately need. I've learned to trust that. 

What is the one thing you have not done that you really want to do and why?

That's easy- to be fully alive in the next moment. I want to be fully awake to experience everything that comes my way, and I have no doubt that life will continue to surprise me. 

Inscrutable Dragon
Oh, if you all could spend an hour talking with BJ! I was particularly eager to post his contribution because of the calm, loving energy he radiates- so refreshing. Every once in awhile, I encounter someone who carries a quiet wisdom, someone who inspires me to look inward- to try to find a deeper sense of peace. BJ is a teacher, in every sense of the word. He's a truly special man, and I take something profound away from every meeting we share. A thousand thanks to him for opening his heart to us.

Namaste, BJ. 

Don't you find the Honeycutt's dedication to their community so noble? I would love to participate in their art program and spend more time learning from their mindfulness. 

What's your method for finding inner peace? Please feel free to share!

P.S. If you'd like to participate in a Real People Feature, send me a message at cally@frommyhearthtoyours.com or comment below. We'd love to hear from you.

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