Archive for April, 2012


 For Danny, who pointed out the perils of seeing yourself as a permanent victim.  Thank you.

Nothing Remains the Same

Nothing Remains the Same (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


 “Count it all pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”–James 1: 2-4

     Right.  That’s going to happen.  How on earth can you keep from being hurt and be joyful when you have been violated by a predator?  When your child has been abused, do you just accept it?  On first reading it seems Paul must have had too idyllic a life to understand the reality of true pain and suffering.  Did he not catch the part where even Jesus suffered?  Was he totally oblivious to the Hitlers, Ayatollah’s, Stalins, seriel killers, child abusers and others that peopled his own time?  How can we have joy when we see a world with such suffering?  Children living in garbage dumps.  People forced into slavery all over the world.  Killing, rape, violence–everywhere we look and getting closer and closer to home every single day! Where do you find peace of mind and true and abiding joy?

     I have reread these verses many times and have meditated upon this subject many times in order to achieve an understanding of how it is possible to count it all as joy.  It seems like magical thinking to believe that if you accept your fate, embrace your fate, whatever it might be, you will escape pain.  The truth is that you will feel physical pain, emotional pain, and mental anguish within your lifetime.  These trials will come to each of us.  But if we resist them, if we choose to label them as “bad” and become a permanent victim to them, we will truly be hurt in our eternal spirit because we will waste our entire time in a self-pitying stasis and never take advantage of our opportunity to grow from these experiences.

     When we mistrust that the universe, that the Creator God is rendering all circumstances in any lifetime we are given for our absolute good, we deny the gifts we are given to help us to grow.  I recently read a comparison of our lives to giant puzzle pieces.  If we are putting together a puzzle and toss out any pieces for which we cannot immediately find a good place, we will end our picture with big empty spaces hollowed out.  But if we keep all of the pieces, going back over them to find where they actually might fit, we find there is usually something we overlooked the first time around.  The older we get, the more we see the “big picture”.  They all fit into our life puzzle.  They are all good in the end.  Our greatest spiritual growth opportunities come in the guise of unpleasantness and pain.  In fact, the greater the pain at the time, the bigger the reward will be if we but embrace each experience and welcome it.  Not like some masochist, but truly believing that somewhere within the darkness, we will find our brightest light.  We must look with better eyes and trust and know there is a pearl somewhere in all that slimy mess!  In the darkest storm, when we look closely, there is always a rainbow.

Rainbow over Ribble Rain coming in from the Ea...

Rainbow over Ribble Rain coming in from the East late on a sunny March afternoon in Preston produced this one bright end of a rainbow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we embrace every moment of our life as a step on our path to who we are becoming, we can embrace it all with joy!  Take away a single moment and we cease to be the being we are at this moment.  And this moment, whether pleasurable or painful, is the only moment we have to change ourselves and our future for the better.  I can and do choose to count it all joy.

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A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio

A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I attended an anti-bullying rally, walk, and party at my daughter’s school.  I commend highly all the students, families, and school personnel that were present.  Accolades especially to Channel 15, here in South Carolina, who realized it was an event worthy of some coverage.  That being said, I must admit that I was shocked and disappointed by the attendance.  All schools from  primary through high school were involved.  I expected there to be an enormous turn-out for such an important event.  I expected families to realize how horrible bullying in this country has become and to welcome this opportunity as a teaching opportunity to instill values in their kids.  No wonder there is such a problem when more families cannot take a few hours on a Saturday to come out and show their kids that they do not tolerate these or any other types of hate crimes.  And yes, I said crimes.

Bullying is different in some crucial ways than it was when I was a kid.  It is often no longer one-on-one, but a gang of childrenon one child.  It is no longer name-calling and maybe a scuffle or fist-fight.  It is daily torment.  It is facing assault and battery every day.  Can you imagine trying to work under such conditions?  It is broken bones from toilet seats being slammed on your fingers, or being pushed so fiercely, you break your ankles.  It is having your face pushed in a used toilet into someone elses’ feces.  This is horrifying to me that children are committing these crimes on children, and you need to be aware that it is an epidemic in our society.

this is my own version of what bullying looks like

this is my own version of what bullying looks like (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you think your child has never been bullied, sadly, you are probably wrong.  They were probably too humiliated to share the problem with you or don’t think you can do anything about it.  Children are killing themselves every single day because they can no longer take the daily punishment they undergo at the hands of these bullies.  Our kids are committing suicideand we sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of using the opportunity to take a stand and make a difference.

My kids didn’t want to go.  I made them go.  And we had a great time.  But I will tell you something else.  We listened to some other kids and parents describe unbelievable acts of hatred and violence and my kids realized where that bullying behavior can go if not stopped and stopped immediately.  We all felt our hearts hurt and they know, more than ever before, exactly where I stand on the subject.  My kids would never stand by and watch another child get bullied without intervening, even if they can only report it.  They know it is wrong.  Have you talked to your kids about bullying?  Have you asked what they have witnessed at school?  Because I guarantee you they have witnessed it.  Have you had the guts to ask if they have ever been bullied or bullied someone else?  I welcome your input on this topic and look forward to discussing this further on my blog.  Being bullied is not a “character builder.”  It is a crime.  How do you think it should be dealt with?  What can we do as families, as parents, as school personnel and as a community to end this violence?  Check back as I explore the dynamics of helping our kids learn to accept themselves and others in a healthy way, how to overcome being bullied, and how to overcome being a bully!

Is it all just in our minds? This solitary confinement we make for ourselves when we decide to be sad or upset about nothing terribly awful. The sun is shining yet I feel no warmth. The days trod past one into the next with little enthusiasm. Today is Friday and yet there aren’t any fireworks announcing the start of the weekend. Or are there and I just can’t see them?

This week has been unusual for me. I’m out of sorts. Usually I can find the good in everything, but this week has been a struggle for me to care enough to look.

We’ve all had these kinds of days and it’s usually our friends who help pull us away from the abyss. Last week my blogging friend Elena Aitken did a cute post on Choosing Happy where she looked for things in her life that could uplift her spirit. Simple things like a new pair of cute rain boots.

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Choosing to be happy or not.

Today, I choose happy.

Whatever crankiness my mind is going through, I can get past it. Whatever hormonal roller coaster ride my body is deciding to take me on, I can strap in and enjoy the ride. Hot flashes? Just a quick vacay in Punta Cana with my friend Natalie Hartford!

In honor or my friend Elena who inspired me to choose happy, here are a few things that make me smile.

Make up. Girly make up especially like glitter eyeliner and eyeshadow. I just wish I was brave enough to actually rock this look!

One of my facebook friends put this on their wall and it reminds me of my two MC’s.

Books. I think one of the reasons I’ve been cranky is I’ve been so cooped up with my own WIP that I haven’t had time to travel to other worlds through books.

And finally, something that makes my heart smile…

My family. This was my gratitude picture on facebook yesterday because I’ve been meaning to put these stickers on my car for a long time and I finally did it! Just seeing our happy little faces represented in these goofy Disney cartoons makes me giggle.

And of course my pups bring me happiness every single day. They are always there with a kiss or a cuddle and they don’t care if my hair is going grey or my hands have more wrinkles than a Shar Pei puppy.

That’s the thing about dogs. They love you no matter what. We need to love ourselves like our dogs love us. Wouldn’t that be something?

So tell me, what do you do to get out of a funk? How do you choose happy?

 

If you love this post and want to check out Tameri’s Blog, use the link below:

http://tamerietherton.com/2012/04/27/its-all-in-your-mind-choose-happy/

Marc and Angel Hack Life
Practical Tips for Productive Living
BLOGARCHIVEABOUTRSSTHOUGHT QUESTIONSMAKES ME THINK

POST WRITTEN BY: ANGEL

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Mae West

You know you’re on the right track when you can repeat each of the following headlines to yourself, honestly. (And if you can’t, this list gives you something positive to work on.)

1. I am following my heart and intuition.
Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams. Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to remember years from now. Make decisions and act on them. Make mistakes, fall and try again. Even if you fall a thousand times, at least you won’t have to wonder what could have been. At least you will know in your heart that you gave your dreams your best shot.

Each of us has a fire in our hearts burning for something. It’s our responsibility in life to find it and keep it lit. This is your life, and it’s a short one. Don’t let others extinguish your flame. Try what you want to try. Go where you want to go. Follow your own intuition. Dream with your eyes open until you know exactly what it looks like. Then do at least one thing every day to make it a reality.

And as you strive to achieve your goals, you can count on there being some fairly substantial disappointments along the way. Don’t get discouraged, the road to your dreams may not be an easy one. Think of these disappointments as challenges – tests of persistence and courage. At the end of the road, more often than not, we regret what we didn’t do far more than what we did. Read Quitter.

2. I am proud of myself.
You are your own best friend and your own biggest critic. Regardless of the opinions of others, at the end of the day the only reflection staring back at you in the mirror is your own. Accept everything about yourself – EVERYTHING! You are you and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.

People who are proud of themselves tend to have passions in life, feel content and set good examples for others. It requires envisioning the person you would like to become and making your best efforts to grow.

Being proud isn’t bragging about how great you are; it’s more like quietly knowing that you’re worth a lot. It’s not about thinking you’re perfect – because nobody is – but knowing that you’re worthy of being loved and accepted. All you have to do is be yourself and live the story that no one else can live – the story of your own unique life. Be proud, be confident, you never know who has been looking at you wishing they were you.

3. I am making a difference.
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

Is it true that we all live to serve? That by helping others we fulfill our own destiny? The answer is a simple ‘yes.’ When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. Do something that’s greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.

You are only one, but you are one. You cannot do everything, but you can do something. Smile and enjoy the fact that you made a difference – one you’ll likely remember forever.

4. I am happy and grateful.
Happiness is within you, in your way of thinking. How you view yourself and your world are mindful choices and habits. The lens you choose to view everything through determines how you feel about yourself and everything that happens around you.

Being grateful will always make you happy. If you’re finding it hard to be grateful for anything, sit down close your eyes and take a long slow breath and be grateful for oxygen. Every breath you take is in sync with someone’s last.

5. I am growing in to the best version of me.
Judy Garland once said, “Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of somebody else.” Live by this statement. There is no such thing as living in someone else’s shoes. The only shoes you can occupy are your own. If you aren’t being yourself, you aren’t truly living – you’re merely existing.

Remember, trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are. Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else. Be the person you know yourself to be – the best version of you – on your terms. Improve continuously, take care of your body and health, and surround yourself with positivity. Become the best version of you.

6. I am making my time count.
Time is the most valuable constituent of life. Make the time for what does matter today. Really being in the moment, finding passion in your life, seeing the world and traveling, or just seeing the world that’s around you right now, being with great people, doing amazing things, eating amazing food and savoring life’s little pleasures.

Remember, your time is priceless, but it’s free. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can spend it, but you can’t keep it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back. You really do only have a short period to live. So let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions louder than your words. Make your time count!

7. I am honest with myself.
Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed. Be honest about what you want to achieve and who you want to become. Be honest with every aspect of your life, always. Because you are the one person you can forever count on.

Search your soul, for the truth, so that you truly know who you are. Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of where you are now and how you got here, and you’ll be better equipped to identify where you want to go and how to get there. Read The Four Agreements.

8. I am good to those I care about.
In human relationships distance is not measured in miles, but in affection. Two people can be right next to each other, yet miles apart. So don’t ignore someone you care about, because lack of concern hurts more than angry words. Stay in touch with those who matter to you. Not because it’s convenient, but because they’re worth the extra effort.

When was the last time you told your family and close personal friends that you loved them? Just spending a little time with someone shows that you care, shows that they are important enough that you’ve chosen — out of all the things to do on your busy schedule — to find the time for them. Talk to them. Listen to them. Understand them.

Many times it’s our actions, not just our words that really speak what our heart feels for another.

9. I know what unconditional love feels like.
Whether your love is towards a child, a lover, or another family member, know the feeling of giving love and not expecting anything in return – this is what lies at the heart of unconditional love. Life through unconditional love is a wondrous adventure that excites the very core of our being and lights our path with delight. This love is a dynamic and powerful energy that lifts us through the most difficult times.

Love is beautiful and unpredictable. It begins with ourselves, for without self-love, we cannot know what true love can be. In loving ourselves, we allow the feeling to generate within us and then we can share it to everyone and everything around us. When you love unconditionally, it isn’t because the person you love is perfect, it’s because you learn to see an imperfect person perfectly.

10. I have forgiven those who once hurt me.
We’ve all been hurt by another person at some point or another – we were treated badly, trust was broken, hearts were hurt. And while this pain is normal, sometimes that pain lingers for too long. We relive the pain over and over, letting them live rent-free in our head and we have a hard time letting go.

Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness, it causes us to miss out on the beauty of life as it happens. To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.

11. I take full accountability for my life.
Own your choices and mistakes, and be willing to take the necessary steps to improve upon them. Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will. And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own.

You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life. And no, it won’t always be easy. Every person has a stack of obstacles in front of them. But you must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles. Choosing not to is choosing a lifetime of mere existence. Read The Road Less Traveled.

12. I have no regrets.
This one is simply a culmination of the previous eleven…

Follow your heart. Be true to yourself. Do what makes you happy. Be with who makes you smile. Laugh as much as you breathe. Love as long as you live. Say what you need to say. Offer a helping hand when you’re able. Appreciate all the things you do have. Smile. Celebrate your small victories. Learn from your mistakes. Realize that everything is a lesson in disguise. Forgive. And let go of the things you can’t control.

Photo by: Esparta Palma

A Prayer for the Eyes of God

A Love Hate Masquerade

I have been hate and evil and war and death.  I have held them in my heart and mind and soul and body, radiating them throughout this blessed universe.  I have collected pain, hoarding it to myself until it festered with pus, stinking and rank with dreams of revenge growing from my subconscious until the paths they leave in my soul are worn from use like a well-trodden path in the woods.  I have spent my hours, days, years, haunting those paths, all the while yearning for release.  My body and my life have been ravaged and crippled by all of this chaos to where I would hardly be recognizable to my Creator.  Judging my fellow man in self-righteous ego, I have tried to make up for my non-existent self-esteem by lowering others beneath me.  All the while, so blind and deaf and insane I could not see that the only one being judged and lowered was myself as I fed the endless cycle that kept me hating myself, abusing my own spirit.  Until the day I awoke.

I had always thought of myself as a loving, responsible person, but when I truly discovered Love and Peace and took ownership of my life and destiny, the blinders fell layer by layer from my being.  I saw that the greatest judgement and hate I had reserved for myself.  Miserable from the aching, gnawing, empty, gaping hole in my soul, I could not even begin to give love to anyone else.  I stopped pitying myself and lamenting my circumstances.  I declared an intent to live a year of practiced, intentional gratitude.  And bit by miraculous bit my life began to transform.

An artist's impression of our home galaxy - th...

An artist's impression of our home galaxy - the Milky Way. Our solar system is one of billions in the galaxy. And the galaxy is one of billions in the universe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just imagine for the sake of argument that there is no such thing in the universe as bad.  What if the only thing that makes something bad is mankind’s perception of it?  And what if that perception is wrong?  The scriptures tell me that God works ALL things together for good.  And the longer I live, the more I am able to see that there is always something good that comes of every situation no matter how dark it appears to be.  Life is like a giant tapestry and we are each a thread being woven together by the Master Craftsman.  We only see from the underside, and from the underside of the tapestry,  it looks a mess.  The only one that sees the complete picture from the right side is the Creator.  Once in a while we may get glimpses, but mostly, we are hanging out underneath, unable to make anything out clearly, concentrating on all the other threads’ frayed ends and mishaps.  Some threads are short, with only a few stitches, but they are essential.  Others seem hugely important and turn out to be just some background shading.  But everyone has a part to play in the total creation.  It is far too easy to judge it a mess, but the day will come when we get to see the creation from the right side, and we will be blown away by it’s breathtaking beauty!  We will see our own honored places in the whole and will marvel at the importance of some of the most common colors of thread.  This is the Master’s masterpiece.  And when we can learn to stop worrying about the whole thing, or even what everyone else is doing, we can finally begin to find all  those things for which we yearn.

Español: Fresco en la Capilla Sixtina.

Español: Fresco en la Capilla Sixtina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have learned that the more I love and appreciate God’s creative genius in creating me, the more I can appreciate it in all mankind.  I fill myself up with love by being in the presence of love every day.  Does that mean four hours on my knees?  Maybe it does for some, but God did not put me together that way.  I find my best meditation and prayer in the woods or on the beach, walking.  That is where I am best able to center myself and open up to my Creator.  That is also where I am most likely to hear His Voice.  Maybe you commune best while doing dishes, or while dancing, or while interacting with children–where you find your connection is as unique as you are.  Sometimes you can only find your quiet in the midst of great noise.  Just don’t give up!  Keep trying until you find it because nothing else in life will ever be as important or can truly give you joy.  Through my connection I have gained so much wisdom about myself. And others.

Love ? I love love love you.

Love ? I love love love you. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I am so greatful for the eyes God has opened from inside my soul.  Eyes which look with better vision at all the universe’s children, eyes that see as only a Creator can see each member of humanity, every living and created thing.  God’s people.  My people.  Our Beloved.  How can I hate?  How can I judge?  How can I harden my heart to any of these children the Creator has mad in Divine image?  How is it that I would harden my arrogant heart and not feel my Master’s heartbreak at the broken, hurting body–created in perfection in God-Mind, yet suffering as in death and war and disease in the famine of their own souls?

I pray to be a light this day.  I pray to be Love.  Make my lips sound only kindness.  Make my heart bestow only love.  Make my soul be the peacemaker.  May my feet wander where the Lord will lead me to serve all Creation.   May my hands and my back labor with all their strength to make a positive difference so that when my day or life is done I will hear my God’s  words to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Love

Love (Photo credit: praram)

Some days I feel like I am just barely holding myself together but if this little fruit can get it together and struggle on then doggone it, so can I!!  Don’t get yourself juiced up.  Remember, your appeal is in your being just you!

 

Just a thought from John to all of us.  What is more important?  How you label yourself or how you define your character and values?

Storm in Pacifica, California

I have fallen in love with the sea.  No man or woman has ever loved or felt more passion for anyone or anything.  Every time I am with her I think she is more beautiful than ever before.  She amazes me with her complexity, never the same twice.  One day, she is sunny and tranquil, glittering as a king’s ransom in jewels, another, she is raging, banging against constraints, crashing in turmoil and passion.  This day, she is gray and mysterious, cloaking her secrets in a shroud of fog.  Hoarding all her wealth, then carelessly tossing away treasures from deep within her, leaving them discarded in her retreating wake.  Uncontrollable power rising up, increasing, speeding, rolling to me, undulating in her seductive dance,  indifferently shattering, pummeling against me, then reluctantly, caressingly retreating.  I am awed, drawn beyond my power to resist.  She is my muse, my lover, my religion.  There is nothing I have ever known more like God:  vast, timeless, power beyond conceptualization.  Her waters cleanse my soul, renew my spirit.  There is no problem I have brought to her which she cannot shrink to nothingness next to her ancient, endless, fathomless magnificence.

Give me four sticks with a canvas sheet stretched between and I would live beneath it just to gaze at her in all her ever-changing beauty.  How humbling to see, hear, smell, taste, feel the magnificence of the Creator‘s artistry!  I am face-down in holy worship when I think how He could even conceive the idea of the universal sea composed of all this world’s waters.  Waters washing into one another, touching every life on this planet that has ever or will ever be; swirling, dancing around, over, under every continent, island, iceberg; covering massive colonies of life, mountains, deep abysses, hidden depths we have yet to plummet; and all the while kissing, blending, one with the endless sky.  My God!  I am overwhelmed to tears at the limitless gift of beauty you have given me!  Oh, Lord, I sing your praises with every cell of my being for your great love in giving me the sea.  If I never am with her again, I still will never have enough moments in eternity to express my gratitude for this chance to know and love her.   And through her, to know and love you!  I have seen your face reflected in the sea, magnificent, endless, containing more than my mind can grasp.  And new every day.  And new every day.

11 Ways to Love Yourself

 

 

You are powerful when you believe in yourself – when you know that you are capable of anything you put your mind to.  You are beautiful when your strength and determination shines as you follow your own path – when you aren’t disheveled by the obstacles along the way.  You are unstoppable when you let your mistakes educate you, as your confidence builds from experiences – when you know you can fall down, pick yourself up, and move forward.

Here are 11 ways to become the person you love.

  1. Stop judging, and appreciate the beauty within you. – Judging yourself is not the same as being honest with yourself.  When it comes to living as a compassionate, non-judgmental human being, the only challenge greater than learning to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, is learning to walk a lifetime comfortably in your own.  In every smile there is beauty.  In every heart there is love.  In every mind there is wisdom.  In every human being there is a soul, there is life, there is worth, and there is the ability to see all these things in everyone, including one’s self.  Read The Mastery of Love.
  2. Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.Accept yourself!  Insecurity is what’s ugly, not you.  Be you, just the way you are, in the beautiful way only you know how.  The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.  You must love who you are or no one else will either.  And when you are truly comfortable in your own skin, not everyone will like you, but you won’t care about it one bit.
  3. Care less about who you are to others. – Don’t lose YOU in your search for acceptance by others.  Be aware that you will always appear to be a little less than some people prefer you to be, but that most people are unaware that you are so much more then what they see.  You are good enough just the way you are.  You have nothing to prove to anyone else.  Care less about who you are to others and more about who you are to yourself.
  4. Know your worth. – We often accept the love we think we deserve.  It makes no sense to be second in someone’s life, when you know you’re good enough to be first in someone else’s.
  5. Don’t rush intimate relationships. – Love is not about sex, going on fancy dates, or showing off.  It’s about being with a person who makes you happy in a way nobody else can.  You don’t need a perfect one, you just need someone who you can trust – who shows you that you’re the only one.  If you haven’t found true love yet, don’t settle.  There is someone out there who will love you unconditionally, even if it’s not the person you were initially hoping for.
  6. Let go of those who aren’t really there. – There are certain people who aren’t meant to fit into your life no matter how much you want them to.  And the only ones truly worthy of your love are the ones who stand with you through the hard times and laugh with you after the hard times pass.  Maybe a happy ending doesn’t include anyone else right now.  Maybe it’s just you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself for something better in the future.  Maybe the happy ending is simply letting go.
  7. Forgive yourself and others. – Of all the things that can be stolen from you – your possessions, your youth, your health, your words, your rights – what no one can ever take from you is your freedom to choose what you will believe in, and who and what your heart will love going forward.  Life begins where your fear and resentment ends.  Just because someone hurt you yesterday, doesn’t mean you should hate the world, or start living life today in constant fear of being hurt tomorrow.  When you forgive yourself and others, and stop the inner imprisonment, you’re creating the love of your life. Read The Tao of Pooh.
  8. Focus on the positive. – Do not let the pain make you hopeless.  Do not let the negativity wear off on you.  Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.  Even though others may disagree with you, take pride in the fact that you still know the world is a beautiful place.  Change your thoughts and you change your reality.  Our thoughts are the makers of our moods, the inventors of our dreams, and the creators of our will.  That is why we must sort through them carefully, and choose to respond only to those that will help us build the life we want, and the outlook we want to hold as we’re living it.
  9. Believe in the person you are capable of being. – The real purpose of your life is to evolve and grow into the whole person you are capable of being.  Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing.  Change really is always possible – there is no ability that can’t be developed with experience.  Don’t ever let your negative beliefs stand in the way of your own improvement.  Read A New Earth.
  10. Work on goals you believe in. – Never put off or give up on a goal that’s important to you.  Not because you still have tomorrow to start or try again, but because you may not have tomorrow at all.  Life is shorter than it sometimes seems.  Follow your heart today.
  11. Keep looking and moving straight forward. – Moving on doesn’t mean you have forgotten; it means you have accepted what happened in the past and choose to continue living in the present.  Moving on doesn’t mean you’re giving up; it means you’re giving yourself another chance by making a choice to be happy rather than hurt.  Through all the problems you have faced, the burdens weighing down on your shoulders, the pain in your heart, you have only one thing to say, “I survived and I now know better for next time.”

In the end, loving yourself is about enjoying your life, trusting your own feelings, taking chances, losing and finding happiness, cherishing the memories, and learning from the past.  Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting.  Have faith that things will work out, maybe not exactly how you planned, but just how it’s meant to be.

Photo by: Juliana Coutinho

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus' description of himself "I am the Good Shepherd" (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: "To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article is from the March/April 2009 issue of Unity Magazine.One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is “What am I?” The answer determines our self-concept, which influences the boundaries of our personal growth and development.

Those who have embraced ancient wisdom teachings, such as Unity, accept that who and what we are is more than what can be seen with our physical eyes or described through the five senses. There is a part of us that can never be endangered or destroyed and is our true nature and being. It transcends our history, human lineage, and false concepts that we have accepted for ourselves. When we live from that awareness, we fulfill the life that God sees when God sees us. It is a life that reflects our divine purpose, in which we contribute our unique gifts and talents to our world.

One person who fully contributed his gift to the world and arguably fulfilled his divine purpose like no other before or since is Jesus the Christ. Yet we are reminded by the apostle Paul that if the Spirit that dwells in Christ Jesus is in you, you too will be lifted up (Rom. 8:11).

We drop the if off the statement because the Spirit that dwelled in Jesus or in any avatar throughout history does indeed dwell in us. We don’t just worship and believe in Jesus, we believe what he says—you are the light, and the kingdom of God is within. When we fully embody that truth, we will be lifted above any circumstance we may face or experience.

Death does not have the final word
The Easter story demonstrates that there is something within us that was here before we incarnated and remains after seeming death. Death is not the end of life, rather the continuation of the life process. Jesus proved this in the great demonstrations known as the resurrection and the ascension. Jesus’ essence was so spiritualized that he was able to say “the Father and I are one.” He was serving as a reminder that there is no separation between us and Spirit. It is the recognition that there is only God; all else is just an illusion.

Resurrection follows crucifixion. No life escapes this process. The Easter story is about an old way being crucifiedso something new can be born. This is not a

Jesus Christ Crucifix

Jesus Christ Crucifix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

once-in-a-lifetime event. When someone experiences a divorce, the death of a partner, loses a job, or experiences a shift in external circumstances, an old identity dies so a new one can be born.

We look to Jesus as a model for how to resurrect from our own crucifixion experiences. The Easter story is a reminder that no matter what seems to happen to us, it does not have the final word. We can look beyond appearances and recognize that there is a divine plan unfolding. Our task is to hold on to that vision until our life bears witness to truth that liberates us and sets us free.

Accessing the eternal dimension
In the Easter story, Jesus gives us clues on how to access this eternal dimension and spiritualize all aspects of our life. To help us with this process, we ask, What did he do? What was he thinking? What was his way of being in the world?

We start with the realization that he prayed all the time. He often stole away from the masses to keep his communion with Spirit high. He did this as a way of life and not just in an emergency. Nowhere in the Scriptures does it say, “There was an emergency and Jesus went to the mountain and prayed.” No. He prayed all the time and, as a result, when the big moments came, was “prayed up.”

Since he was in constant communion with the presence of God, when seeming betrayal in the form of Judas took place, Jesus was ready. Note: it was a seeming betrayal. Judas is often unjustly maligned. But without Judas sacrificing himself, Jesus would not be remembered today. Sacrifice means to

"The Judas Kiss", (Mark 14:45) by Gu...

"The Judas Kiss", (Mark 14:45) by Gustave Doré. Judas kisses Jesus in order to betray him to the guards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

make sacred. Judas is often condemned as the one who loved Jesus the least. In fact, he may have been one who loved him more than anyone. He served as the catalyst for the glad surprise of the resurrection to take place.

For this purpose I was born
The King James Version of the Bible quotes Jesus as saying during the crucifixion experience, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” However, the Lamsa Bible translation suggests that the original Aramaic language does not say that. In the Lamsa Bible, Jesus says “It is for this purpose that I was born.” This suggests that Jesus was fully aware that this was his great moment. It was the moment he was waiting and preparing for all his life.

It’s like an Olympic champion who has prepared and trained for years to reach the final race and, just before the event, is asked, “How does it feel to be getting ready to perform before thousands of people in the stadium and millions watching on television?” And the athlete responds by saying, “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I was doing all the things I needed to do to prepare for this moment—waking up and going to bed early, eating nutritious foods, practicing, lifting weights. All of that was for this moment.”

This was the case for Jesus and is the case in every moment of our life, when we realize that whatever we’re going through, we are not to shirk from any situation or circumstance that seems to overwhelm us. It is in such moments we are to remember who we are spiritually—we are spiritually made in the image and likeness and out of God. When we see from this vantage point, we will stand and say “For this purpose we were born.”

In other words, we can say this situation is an opportunity to go beyond our self-imposed boundaries. This opportunity is calling for the highest and best within us to shine as never before.

So we see the seeming betrayals in life from that vantage point and begin to practice a new way of being in the world. We no longer see ourselves as victims but as the vehicles of pure Spirit.

Resurrection follows forgiveness
Any resurrection is built on the consciousness of forgiveness. Only then can we see the gift in the seeming betrayals in life. When people or situations betray the pictures that we have in our mind of how things should be, that is when we must invoke the consciousness of forgiveness.

So we hear Jesus saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” and examine its meaning. Perhaps surface mind is saying “Please, they knew exactly what they were doing.” Now I’m going to try to forgive them anyway because it’s the right thing to do. However, I’m not going to ever believe they didn’t know what they were doing (whoever they might be).

We can see the Jesus statement of “forgive them for they know not what they do” from a different perspective. Our critics or so-called enemies are really our best friends in disguise. Such people push us to new levels of being and make us do things we wouldn’t likely do without their assistance. Such people make us pray when we don’t want to or when we don’t have the spiritual discipline to do it on our own.

An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in...

An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At such moments, those people who seem to be against us don’t know what they’re doing. They’re actually making us become so large for God and access dimensions of our being that we would not be able to touch without their help. In fact, if they really knew how it was going to be so good for us, they wouldn’t do it. So we forgive them, for they didn’t really know what they were doing. They are supporting our own resurrection process and helping our life become fully supported by Spirit. We realize there is only God, and we don’t need anything else.

The now moment is what counts
To further augment our own resurrection and ascension process, there are additional things Jesus the Christ said on the cross. There were two thieves on either side of him, who represent the past and the future. One thief is living in the past when he says to Jesus, “I know I deserve what I’m getting because I know I’ve done a lot of negative things. However, you don’t deserve this, Jesus.” He identified with all the negative things he had done in the past. The other thief said to Jesus, “What’s going to happen to us after this experience?” This thief was lost in the future

However, Jesus being between the two thieves represents the vortex of creativity where heaven is revealed on earth. It represents the here and now. Jesus said “Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.”

Jesus is saying a couple of things to us. First, it is not the past that determines our current experience; it is our thought about the past determining our current experience. That’s because a thought cannot be in the past. If we have any thoughts moving through our mind—and we constantly do—they are right now affecting every aspect of our being—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Right now we’re either getting younger or aging, depending on what we’re giving our attention to. It’s not the past doing this; it’s our present thinking about the past that is affecting our life. Because we have the ability to name things, we can name it all good, even if we cannot see the good in it right now. When we do that, our life begins to immediately change because as withinso without.

Crosses above Lee Abbey The crosses (represent...

Crosses above Lee Abbey The crosses (representing the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves) are used by the Lee Abbey community that owns the land for their Good Friday drama, but they appear to be left in place throughout the year. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then there are those who hang out in the future worrying about what’s going to happen. They’re concerned about whether their plans are going to work out and projecting their thoughts about the future. But that thought of worry and doubt is in the now moment and becomes the experience they’d been worried about. Our present thinking is simply a sneak preview of our upcoming experiences. If we want to get an idea of what life is going be like, we simply have to look at what we’re thinking about right now.

By saying, “Now thou shalt be with me in paradise,” Jesus is seeking to bring our attention to the present moment. It is in the present moment that the Christ presence returns. When we realize that the Christ is not a person, but that part of God in all of us, we become fully aware that Jesus, the man, is not coming back.  The Christ presence is within us and returns when we allow it to be the activity of our awareness. When we do, we live with awareness: That which is within us is greater than that which is in the world.

Pontius Pilate as a symbol of external circumstances
In the Easter story, Jesus and his experience with Pontius Pilate has a very symbolic meaning for us. When we read about the characters in the Bible, they represent something in or about us. The greatest value of the story is its spiritual rather than its historical significance—although there is history in it.

Pontius Pilate symbolizes the external circumstances that at times seem to be overwhelming. Pilate thinks he has power over Jesus and asks him several

An original card from the tarot deck of Jean D...

An original card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of Lyon, a classic "Marseilles" deck. The deck dates from 1701-1715. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

questions. However, Jesus’ response is essentially that the power does not lie with Pontius Pilate, but with God. It didn’t matter what Pontius Pilate did, and ultimately he decided he didn’t want to be bothered, so washed his hands of the whole deal. Jesus in that moment was demonstrating that no situation, circumstance, or external authority figures had any power over him.

In your own life, you may be facing some kind of Pontius Pilate. There may be someone in your life who thinks they can control or manipulate you. You may have a boss who thinks he or she has the final say-so about your prosperity or happiness. People think that if they are in or out of your life, your joy is dependent upon them. You may have allowed them to think that. There may be all kinds of Pontius Pilates running around thinking that they have the final word on your life.

But having fully devoted yourself to God, you’ll say and do what you will; it does not matter. Whatever happens will pull the highest and best out of me because I’m going to sacrifice my littleness so my authentic Self will come through. A new birth is about to take place.

The message for our time
The entire universe is asking that we be our true selves. To do so, we must go within to that which is real, indestructible, has never been born, and can never die. Jesus talked about that when he said “call no one on earth your father.” There is but one Presence, and that Presence is within you. When our attention is on it, it begins to express as our life—our real life.

When we look at our world, we see the seeming betrayals. They are the modern-day crucifixion experiences—man’s inhumanity to man, wars and rumors of war, economic breakdowns, and the challenges we face across the planet. At times we may think it’s beyond hope and it will never get better.

However, it was for this purpose we were born. God transforms our world a little at a time by means of us. God needs us to shine God’s light to make this world a better place. When we let our light shine, we will rise above any crucifixion experience and the entire world will celebrate the Easter of our hearts and we will rise.

Easter is not merely the celebration of the life of Jesus. He reminds us that we are capable of doing even greater things than he did. We love and celebrate the master teacher by practicing his principles, living his teachings, and following his example. When we do, our life shines and glorifies the power, the presence, and the love of God. All of us emanate from that loving presence. When that is our self-concept, we will be able to say as Jesus did, “When you see me, you see the presence that sent me,” and you will experience Easter every day of your life.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs (Photo credit: StSaling)

James Trapp is President and CEO of Unity Worldwide Ministries.

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