Tag Archive: Religion and Spirituality


Experience

Experience (Photo credit: djniks)

When someone else speaks their truth and it hurts or makes me furious, I find it is time to go be alone.  It is best not to react in front of that person, but to get by myself and then vent my feelings.  After venting, I need to ask myself what I can learn from this experience.  I can always learn something.  God does not send me experiences, especially painful ones, unless I can learn from them.  Sometimes the experience is only a marker to show me how much I have grown so that I can practice gratitude for prior lessons.  Sometimes it is a warning to show me what could happen if I make certain choices in life.  Sometimes, and I find these lessons the hardest, it is a mirror to show me something about myself of which I may not even be aware, which really wounds or infuriates me when I am on the receiving end.  By being willing to look in this mirror, I will receive the most beneficial instruction because I can truly see where I need to grow the most.

Log jam in Craighall. An old dead tree has cre...

Log jam in Craighall. An old dead tree has created a natural log jam on the Craighall burn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These insights are my greatest life opportunities.  I can choose to humbly accept them and work out a plan to improve myself or I can hide from them in fear.  But letting fear win only hides these problems from myself.  They remain glaringly obvious to everyone around me.  I am finding it is far better to admit my issues and move forward than to hide from them and stagnate.  Stagnation works like a log-jam.  Everything builds up behind it until even the water cannot flow.  It will eventually become a dam in my life, preventing anything from flowing forward or backward.  Since a characteristic of life is change, building a dam is a form of spiritual death.

The good news is all death is but the changing point, not the ending point.  The bad news is it is possible to get side-tracked or lost in a change-point for a long time.  When something stagnates for long enough, it begins to rot and stink.  When we stagnate, our lives begin to rot and stink.  We become polluted, sick, dying.

Clearing the jam is the only way to renew ourselves.  Fortunately, many have paved the way through this dam before us and we can walk in their footsteps.  We are never alone on our journey.  While each path is individual, all paths are made of experiences we share in common with our fellow humanity.  There is no single way to clear this jam.  It is up to each of us to find our own best way that works for us.   I have heard some say we need to confront the past.  Some say going over the past just reinforces it.  I think it depends on the person and the issues.  Whatever gets you moving forward, free of burdens, is right for you.   I have struggled a long time with this issue personally and have found, for me, it is usually a matter of learning to love myself more.  The more I love myself, the more I seem able to inherently make the right decisions for myself and the more free I become of the past.  The more I love myself now; the less the past matters.  The more I love myself; the higher my self-esteem.  The higher my self-esteem; the easier it is to examine myself for things I may want to change, or release comments that might hurt me or make me angry because I have examined them and determined they just don’t apply.  When that happens, my next question is am I sending signals I don’t want to send or is this person’s judgement just way off-base in this circumstance?  Loving myself helps me realize that it isn’t always me!  It also helps me forgive someone else when they are wrong.  Including myself.  So, how do I learn to truly love myself?

That, my friends, is another post.  But first I would really like to hear from you.  How do you build a loving relationship with yourself?  I am looking forward to reading all of your responses!

Ending War

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have wounded me.

But I can see

my wounding

is from

your own pain.

I refuse

to allow

this relay race

of passing

this baton of hurt

to continue

for even

one more lap.

I will keep

this baton.

I will return to you

loving kindness

and

forgiveness.

And

I will not

concern myself

over

whether you

“get it.”

I

will leave that

between

you

and

God.

   

This is a rather long article and I am posting it without my usual insertion of photos and illustrations.  I am reposting it exactly the way it was originally done.  It is well worth the investment of time it takes to read it.  This article is a real eye-opener and I hope you feel that way too.

I was honored to be asked to deliver a sermon (really a speech) with a theme of bullying during services at my place of worship recently. I thought I would share the speech that I gave with you. It’s a bit lengthy, but I thought the subject matter appropriate to share… (~Alan Eisenberg)


The bible reading this week is AHAREI MOT, which in Hebrew means AFTER THE DEATH. This is because it takes place right after the Death of Moses’s brother Aaron’s two sons. The reading is also maybe even more significant, because it is also the origin of the YOM KIPPUR ritual.

Interestingly and possibly even intentionally, this reading takes place about 6 months after and equally six months prior to our YOM KIPPUR. It’s as if to say that we should remember that making atonement is not just a once a year event. It has always been a challenge for me to understand the idea of the once a year atonement. I know that some of us believe we have the other 364 days to build up our mistakes so that once a year we can ask for forgiveness, and then even then, we only ask it of god. While in other religions, they go weekly to confess their sins and ask for atonement, but again, only to god. Why to god, as if he is going to tell the people who most need to hear it.

Why do we struggle to say the words ANI MITZTA’ER … Hebrew for I’m sorry! Why is this so hard for us to do? And what does it mean to others when you say it to them, sincerely, and meaningfully.

David Brin, an American science fiction author, has one of my favorite quotes on the subject. He said: Why must conversions always come so late? Why do people always apologize to corpses?” The author Harriet Beech Stowe said it as well when she said “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone.”

 How often I have seen this as the truth. How many of us regret the moments we didn’t say I’m sorry. I was 21 when my grandmother died. She had lived within driving distance of us my whole life. I had spent summers with her and shared many special moments during my childhood. When I was 21, I was in college and she and I had drifted apart.  For many reasons not spoken here, we had argued recently and I didn’t apologize. And then she was gone and I could no longer tell her what I wanted to.

ZAY MOYKHL! That’s Yiddish for I’m sorry and a language she spoke often to me. Unfortunately it was typically to tell me that I was MESHUGEH (crazy). Being a fan of movies, I often quote them sometimes to the pleasure or dismay of others. I find comfort in the lines from movies, because they help me to understand that others go through what we all do. When it comes to this idea of waiting to say you are sorry, I drift to an unlikely movie, “The Sixth Sense”, which is mistaken as a scary movie, when it is really about discovering a power to help others and do good. And no, it’s not that the guy is dead at the end. And if I just ruined that for you, you should have seen the movie 10 years ago anyway. At the end of the movie; the boy who has the power to talk to the dead tells his mother that his grandmother, his mother’s mother who had passed away years ago, has been talking to him. The boy’s mother and his grandmother had a falling out years before and the mother was suffering with guilt from it. He tells his mother that the grandmother wanted to tell her something. It was an answer to a question the mother asked every time she visited her grave that went unanswered. The answer from the grandmother was“EVERY DAY”. The boy asks his mother what question she asked when she visited the grandma’s grave. His mother says the question is “DO I MAKE HER PROUD?” At that moment in the movie, the mother is able to release the pain she had carried with her all those years.

But in life, we don’t get to talk to the dead and they don’t get to answer us. It is ironic that this is the week I have been invited to deliver this D’Vor Torah, because I contemplate this question often when I speak to groups about bullying. Since 2007 I have chosen to take on the cause of helping others cope with the pain and suffering they feel from being bullied. I speak to groups and have a website of stories and information to try to help others. I started this to help myself, because I too had been a victim of bullying as a child and knew the long-term suffering this was bringing to others. I realized that the theme I would share when I spoke was one of trying to teach and promote empathy and find forgiveness. Because it is in heart and head that we carry the burden of the pain of cruelty and also the guilt of what we did. I had no idea in 2007 how this decision would change my life.

I decided my first action would be to write down all of the stories I remembered from those years of bullying. I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts in the 1970s and this is where it all took place. This is important later. I wrote my stories onto a website. I did it just for me to release these things from me and put them to rest. But it would not be so easy. A few years later, I was invited to speak about my stories. This was also very difficult and the pain of those memories would come back to me. You see, I believe we never really forget the wrongs done to us, we just store them in the back of our minds and put them in a deep place. But they build over time and without the apology, without someone making amends, I believe they make us a harder person. But over the last five years, it seems many have found my site and find hope in the words posted there. What I never expected was that those people I knew in Lexington would find my stories as well and that I would have to confront these words. . .I’m sorry.

The first person to find his story was actually my best friend from those years. I knew he had found them, because he started replying to other posts with his memory. But he hadn’t found his story. You see he had hurt me as well. One Halloween, he and my other friends had taunted me from the woods and ran off, leaving me to walk home alone, no candy in my bag. Looking back as an adult, it doesn’t seem that bad. But our memories are from the age that things happen. He read his story and then I received his note directly to me…30 years later.

He wrote: “For what it’s worth, and what I recall of that night, it was just kids being kids… I think we were all just being goofy with the mischief of the night, being Halloween and all…and I will say I am sorry if your feelings were hurt.”For those young people in the audience, can you imagine getting a note from your friend 30 years later apologizing? I couldn’t and was embarrassed I had put him in that position. But you know what, I felt a little better. I called him and we talked for hours after that. We still do today. A little repair.  Pra-stEE-te…That’s Russian for I’m Sorry.

I had hoped that would be the last. I never really expected anyone to read my site anyway. Who am I? Just someone trying to work his way through life. I then was looking through my old Bar Mitzvah book one day and saw that there was a boy in it from Lexington who I couldn’t recall our times together. I knew his name, but not the times we spent together. He found me through Facebook one day and wrote to me recounting all the good times we had. He particularly reminded me of the time we blew up our toys with firecrackers. Don’t tell anyone I did that though. He wrote: I must say that you moving away was one of the saddest events to me. We became such good buddies so fast. I have an unbelievable amount of memories hanging out together, doing sleepovers, and just being generally mischievous…

It bothered me not to remember him, his memories were so vivid of me. Then I discovered why. In his second note his explanation told me when he wrote:

I remember being incredibly sad when you moved away. I got over it of course, but there’s always been something about it in the back of my mind that’s bothered me. Specifically, what happened at the end of 7th grade when we had a fist fight at school. As far as fistfights went, it wasn’t unusual. Even for friends, because usually they can move on and endure that kind of stuff. But what’s bothered me since then (and I was just thinking about it only a couple of weeks ago before you contacted me) was how that injured our friendship, and then you moved away before we could really set it completely right. That was a mean day for me, and one which I really wish I could have back.

And since a window of opportunity doesn’t always open for long, I have to use our reconnection to tell you now how incredibly sorry I still am for what I did to make that fight happen, for every blow struck against you, and for whatever mean (and I mean in the low-class, uncaring, dirty, and despicable sense) action or words that were used by me, before or after. ut I’ve always known that my part in that event was a sin, and one which I still hold onto. I have never forgotten about it.

32 years later. That guilt was still with him every day. And I had blocked him from my memory, because the pain of losing one more friend during those years was too much for me. We talked and shared our feelings. He was able to say sorry in person and I did too. Even though I didn’t remember, I was sorry. But to me I thought “what if I hadn’t made my site and found him?” Would that still haunt him to the end? Do we all have that inside us. But for me, a little more repair.

Finally, I want to share this more recent story that took place in December. By far, it was the hardest story for me. You see there was a moment in time when I was the bully and the guilt was in me. During Hebrew school class one day we put tacks on one of the kids chairs, not a few, like ten. We thought it would be funny. When he sat down it wasn’t. I felt bad about doing it. See he was the one who got picked on then and I was the one participating in it. I shared that as well on my site. Well, it seemed in the five years since I started it, my site and stories had been read by many and at what would have been the 25th reunion of the high school in Lexington, Massachusetts, it seems they were talking about me, the bully expert who writes about the bullying that happened there. It seems to some, I was a local hero to write about what happened to not just me, but I would find out to many. It seems that the boy, now a man, who we did the tack attack to heard as well and found his story on my site. I knew he did, because I heard from his friends, who wrote not too kindly to me. It was my turn to have to reach out and say I was sorry. I was racked with guilt…31 years later. I called him. I said the words…I’m Sorry…I expected anger. What I got was a wonderful conversation with an old friend who was happy for my call and for sharing our stories. He had it far worse, but he used it for strength. He repaired a bit. I repaired a bit. We talk often now…it is behind us.

I feel lucky to have had these three experiences for saying I’m Sorry. Many of the negative feelings that I started with five years ago have left me. I think in some way, I have helped others do the same. This weekend, I saw the documentary called BULLY that just came out. I wish I could tell you much has changed, but it seems not. In it, an awkward 14-year-old named Alex is beaten daily on the bus and ignored by all. His mother asks him “doesn’t it bother you, doesn’t it hurt you?” He just says in calm anger, “I really don’t think I feel anything at all anymore”. So what happens next to him, to others. There are many stories of children, young children, that commit suicide from bullying. It is too late to say I’m sorry after that and many are left with the guilt. I think it interesting that this weekend’s reading deals with Aaron and this loss of his children. Is this where the origin of Yom Kippur starts? What does that do to an individual…to society? These are rhetorical questions I ask often as I contemplate the issue of bullying.

What difference would it make if we just said “I’m Sorry” more often and meant it when we said it. As I and some of my elementary school friends have learned, it’s never too late to say you are sorry. It changes lives. And I can tell you it feels good just to say it and move on…

Jammer!…Oprostite!…Tevechi…Anteeksi…Desole…Gomen Nasai…Przepraszam!… Samahani…Xin loi… ANI MITZTA’ER…I’m Sorry.

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The blog site for this post contains a host of useful information on bullies and bullying, including hotline numbers.
To view the blog where this post originated, please follow the link below:
" State Of Grace "

” State Of Grace ” (Photo credit: gmayster01 on & off …)

Today I am grateful for those rare moments of grace, when life seems to slip from its normal boundaries and rises to the heavens.  Blessings flow effortlessly and endlessly and there are perfect moments when life throbs with the heartbeat of God.  Peace overflows from my soul, flowing out to humanity, cascading on a wave of pure love-energy.  The divine vibrations flowing to me and back are almost iridescent, like heat visually rising from the pavement on a sultry day in July.  I am in sync with all the universe.  I know I am exactly, in that very place in space and time, where my Creator intends for me to be.  I have a purpose to all creation which I am fulfilling just as planned and I can neither falter nor fail.  I am in a state of grace and all my senses make me keenly aware that all of life rises and falls in the Creator’s perfectly orchestrated symphony, rushing through each successive movement until the final crescendo flings its song forth into eternity and I am lost in this music beyond my ears . . . my heart . . . my ken.  It is the music, the joyous, singing music, of the soul of all that is flung wide to the farthest star, echoing back to rest within my breast.  It is a single, perfect, blooming moment of unadulterated grace.  And it is ours.  It is mine.

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)

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.

When Pigs Fly (album)

Image via Wikipedia

   What was the attraction?  Was it the sound?  The jolting, shrieking, squeals or the snorting, snuffling, shameless grunts of contentment and joy?  Perhaps it was the imbalance of  those little eyes, big wet snout, pointing ears on a small head; the short, stubby legs and the huge, rotund body all set off with the incongruity of that festive, curling-ribbon of a tail?  What was God thinking anyway, to adorn an animal that wallows in the mud with such a flourish as that tail, like each was a gift to be opened.   A very stinky present indeed!

     Or maybe it was the “p” sound my brother always found so funny.  “Pig”, “pork”, “pee-yew”!   Was it some divine joy in an animal that was so unabashedly, unashamedly just what God had created it to be?  A filthy animal no longer “unclean”?  Just like us:  born-again and new?

     I believe my brother, Scottie, often had a better grasp of God than I will ever be capable of getting.    “Come as a little child” . . . “a little child”  . . . “a little child”.  He was God’s perennial child:  his mental retardation and damaged heart, blessing and cross.  God’s gift to show me I need to stop trying to make life more complicated than it is.  A cross he bore as he suffered in pain so bravely.

     Whatever the attraction, Scottie loved pigs!  LOVED THEM!  He bubbled over and laughed out loud at the thought of them.  Joyous laughter I can still hear even though it has been 10 years ago today since my brother went to be with his Jesus.

     Maybe Scott knew that our life on earth is like the prodigal son eating pig‘s scraps–and we are only passing through this life on our way to an eternal party with our Father.  Nobody loved a party more than Scott.  Nobody kept a holiday better than him.  Maybe he knew they were just preludes to heaven.

     What possessed him that day in K-mart in Cranberry, Pennslyvania, when he grabbed that pig cookie jar off the shelf?  Walking him back to my mom from the restroom.  I had never seen him take off like that:  his stiff leg swinging out as fast as he could move; laughing, running, looking over his shoulder with an ear-to-ear grin as I raced to catch up with him.  Then his satisfied smile as he reached our mother first and deposited his prize in her buggy, both of us panting; my mom looking at us like we were crazy.   It was the only thing Scott had ever picked out in a store.  Little did we know we were witinessing the beginning of a life-long love affair!   For  all we knew Scottie was hungry and wanted cookies!  But his pleasure in pigs never died as his personal pig collection grew over the years.  My brother even chose to leave us in the Chinese year of–you guessed it–the boar!

     If you ever wondered why my family is crazy about pigs, now you know.  We werer taught to appreciate their finer points by our best teacher.  Not even 28 years on this earth, yet–like the short life of another great man Scottie adored, his Jesus–they both left behind eternal truths I am still pondering, even years now since they’ve been gone.

     I need to measure Scott’s life, not by how many years, but by how much he gave and taught to everyone.  I thank God for him as I remember him today.  What a priceless, precious treasure he still is to me!  Ever time I see a pig I am filled with bittersweet joy.  And some day I’ll know just why he loved pigs so much.  Up there in heaven:  me and Jesus and Scottie . . . and the pigs.  You don’t think there’ll be pigs in heaven?  Better think again!  Remember, with God, all things are possible.  Maybe my brother, Scottie, was really laughing at a private joke with God:  maybe he knew the joke would be on the rest of us when we see pigs fly! 

I wrote the above article 7 years ago.  A lot has changed since then.  Many of my family, friends, loved ones, even two of my babies, have joined my brother. I am raising my two daughters by myself, something I never would have expected.  My lighthouse, my mother, has gone to spend her days with her beloved son. My touchstone, my best friend, Ed, has crossed over too.  So many lives have gone beyond the reach of my earthly arms.  And yet, they are more present with me today than ever.  I carry their memories, their spirits, their life-lessons with me at all times.  In their passing, they etched themselves indelibly on my soul and heart and have become a part of me.  Part of this realization is maturing spiritually enough to grasp that all creation is one:   one breathing, living celebration of the creative genius of God.  If you don’t believe as I do, that is fine.  But watch out.  I am not just talking spirituality anymore.  Quantum physics has begun to prove ancient spiritual laws.  The next few decades of science should be quite an adventurous trip!

So, what does it change to believe we all are one?  I am, at long last, able to stop grieving and start celebrating.  The joy and love that was given to me is not gone.  I touch it, feel it every day now.  The joy of each life is multiplied in my present; no longer lost in my past.  Whether someone is in this life or the next, in God I can still reach them.  And with the passage of time, I see the completeness of their life-cycle, the perfectness of God’s timing.  Their lives which seemed to end too soon are still living in me.  Their full life still is teaching me, guiding me, giving me wisdom.  I just have to open myself to it.  Each life has become a book  of scripture to me.  A living, breathing, evolving volume of eternal wisdom and treasure to be mined bit by bit.  I pick away at the rock day by day, never knowing what jewel will turn up.  I sense their presence when I am feeling alone.  I see their faces, hear their voices, feel their touch, their energy, revel in both the laughter and the tears.  Through them, I touch God.  And life is not a path of despair.  Life is sweeter.  Precious.  Expanding into unlimited possibilities.   Death is no longer the enemy, the thief, the finality.  It is a doorway to change and choices and new beginnings.  It is just another step in eternal existence.  Our chance to see the unknown.  To solve all the mysteries.   To know all the great secrets.  Now I am not saying I want to rush forward to embrace it.  I am just starting to “get it”  where I am.  But I am no longer afraid.  I am no longer afraid.  Consider that statement to have been shouted from the rooftops of my soul.

And special thanks to Scottie, who dropped the article, “When Pigs Fly“, from its frame today, where it has been hanging for the past seven years.  Just a coincidence?  Seven years to the day?  Sure it was.  When pigs fly.

30 Gifts to Give Yourself

The following article was adapted from the original which can be found on the web at :

Marc and Angel Hack Life
in Practical Tips for Productive Living,
30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself.



When you allow yourself to take care of you, loving yourself as much as anyone else, being good to yourself, and approaching life from a positive perspective, you will find peace and joy that last through any circumstances.  A sense of humor helps, too.

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Nothing could be closer to truth. As you begin this process of transformation the following road map may help. The following ideas are not intended to be used as New Year’s resolutions, for once a resolution is broken it is gone.  Rather these are goals at which to aim.  Track your progress and let that be your success.

Gift List to Yourself:

1. Only spend time with people who build the positive in you and you will improve your self-esteem.

Life is too short, so spend time with people who energize and increase the happiness in you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. So make sure you are spending your time with  someone who continuously appreciates your worth. Spending time with people who don’t appreciate you will eventually lower your self-esteem.   Remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.  (And if your true friends have seen you at your worst and accepted you, there is just no sense in scaring everybody else.)


2. Face your fears and you will grow your personal power.

There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.  So, face your fears head on. No, it won’t be easy. But when you don’t face them, you give them power and when you do face them, you take that power back for yourself.  (That monster under your bed turned out to be just a dirty sock anyway, didn’t it?)

3. Be honest with yourself so and you will be able to change anything .

You can lie to anyone else in the world, but be honest with yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves. You cannot begin to improve your reality unless you see it for what it is right now.  You have to see the path to follow it to the end.   Read The Road Less Traveled.   (Besides, if you never look in the mirror, you can never tell if you have mustard on your chin.)

4. Take care of your own needs and  you will contribute your best to the world.

 The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now. (If everyone loses themselves, there will be no one left to look for us.)

5. Be yourself and you will fulfill the purpose for which you were designed.

 One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you just like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier.  Someone will always be smarter.  Someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.  (Anyway, bricks can’t be used as vegetables, and you can’t be used as something you’re not, either.  Besides, someone will break a tooth!)

6. Stay in the present and you will live without regrets or worries, helping rid yourself of depression and anxiety.

 You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.  Joy comes in the moment, not in the memory or the imagination.  (When you get old and can’t stay in the moment,

people think you’re senile.  Better to practice mindfulness now than spend your retirement eating pureed steak in a nursing home.)


7. Count mistakes as learning instead of failure and you will gain confidence.

Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.  Anyway, trying always comes before succeeding.  We are given new days to remind us to just start over.  (Don’t you hate it when a pencil comes without an eraser, anyway?)

8. Forgive yourself and you will become more accepting of others.

We may think we love the wrong person or that we cry about the wrong things.  Yet one thing is for sure:   accepting our mistakes will help us find the people and things that are right for us. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come. (Besides, beating up on yourself sucks all the good energy out that you could be using to do more important things like eating chocolate.  ; )

9. Focus on love, laughter, and pursuing your passion and you will achieve real lasting happiness.

 Many of the things we desire are may be expensive.  But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions. (Plus, you’ll have more money left to buy presents for someone like, well, say, someone like me.)

10. Look within yourself for true happiness because it is the only place where you will find it.

When you are happy with who you are on the inside, you will  be happy in a long-term relationship with someone else.  You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.  (Have you ever been really happy when eating a carton of icecream, but then you finish it and all your artificially flavored and sweetened happiness comes to a screeching halt?)

11. Trust your decisions and act on them and you will build a sense of accomplishment.

 Evaluate situations and take decisive action.   Once you take action, let it go.   Making progress involves moving forward.  You  have to take your foot off first base to make it to second! (And you have to fall down to slide into home.)


12. Take risks and you will build trust in yourself!

Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones. Comfort grows with familiarity.  Learn to appreciate the butterflies in your stomach by realizing they are the product of metamorphosis—yours!  (Jack never would have gotten to go up that hill with Jill if he hadn’t jumped over that candlestick first.)

13. Value yourself in relationships and life and you will teach others to value you, too.

Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.  Fill your life with service and purpose.  As you learn to love yourself and send it into the world, it will come back to you 100-fold.  (Get a dog as a pet before you get one as a mate.)

14. Keep open to receive love and you will get it.

In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.  Each person is unique even when they possess similarities to someone else.  Each person deserves to be evaluated on their own merit, not your memories.  When you close a door, nothing can get past:  not the bad stuff,  but not the good stuff, either.  (If you keep hiding your pistachio icecream under your spinach just because they are both green, you’ll never like either one.  Unless you’re pregnant.)

15. Compete only against yourself and you will be a winner.

 Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.   Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you.  ( Just remember “Bad, bad Leroy Brown.)

16. Count your own blessings instead of everyone else’s and you will always be prosperous.

Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. Ask yourself this: “What’s something I have that everyone else wants?”  (Addition is always easier than division.  Especially long division.)


17. Be positive and SMILE and you will be filled with and radiate joy!

Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you. You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, which can  make it  tough.  However, when you reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past, you’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday– and you will be. (If you lean in and get hit by one of those curveballs, the umpire of life has to let you walk to first base.)

18. Forgive. Let go. Find peace and you will see peace on earth.

Truly live by releasing hate and grudges from your heart.  You will keep from hurting yourself more. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself! And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too.  Forgive yourself so you can move on and do better next time.  (It is really embarrassing when you realize you’ve been screaming for someone to let you out and the key is in your pocket.)

19. Fly above the crowds and be the example! Or, as Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see!”  and you will change the world.

When you set the standard, you are never lowered to someone else’s level.  (If your elevator doesn’t go to the top floor, you know what everyone will think.)

20. Let go of the need to explain or justify yourself and you will develop faith.

Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.  Just do what you know in your heart is right.  (And you know when you start explaining it will feel all awkward and just keep going on and on and you’ll never be really sure how much explanation is enough so you just sort of start to ramble in one gigantic, run-on sentence.)

21. Take breaks and you will get there faster and better.

The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. Breathe in the universe’s unlimited resources and refill your tanks.   If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly. (Running out of gas can mean pushing  your car.  You could get a hernia.  That means surgery and medical bills and boarding your Yorkshire terrier.  Well, it could get quite complicated.)


22. Stop and smell the roses and you will learn to appreciate the many exquisite gifts you might otherwise overlook!

Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.  (And those things that seem like big things might just turn into Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons and float off into the distance, or worse yet, deflate on you.)

23. Celebrate imperfection and you will reach your goals. 

The real world doesn’t always reward perfectionists,but  it always rewards people who get things done. Learn when “good enough” is enough and let it go.  Then you can concentrate more time on the things that do need to be perfected.   Read Getting Things Done.  (Did you ever go into one of those superstores when you were really tired and you forgot your list and you just wonder around forever trying to remember what you need but when you get home, there is always something you forgot?  Yeah.  You know just what I mean.)

24. Aim for the sky and you will learn to fly.

Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary. You can only reach as high as your target.  Aim low and that is all you will ever achieve.  Aim high, and even if you don’t reach all the way to your goal, you’ll fly higher than before. (It is a lot more difficult to water ski when you don’t stand up.)

25. Express your emotions and you will have room to grow.

It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.  When we bottle up our emotions instead of releasing them, we allow them to grow out of our control.  Releasing and expressing them brings them down to a size that we can manage. (You must know what happens if you just keep stuffing too much inside.  Remember last Thanksgiving?)

26. Take responsibility for your own stuff. (But not anyone else’s) and you will have power to do anything .

The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through and you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.  When you take on responsibility for

others, not only do you deny them their opportunities to grow as a person, you cripple your own soul under a burden you were never intended to bear. (Did you ever get really annoyed with someone else’s behavior only to realize you do the same thing?  No.  Okay then.  Me neither.)

27. Let the universe run by itself and you will set yourself free.

You are not equipped to run the show and are not built to handle the burden.   But making one person smile CAN change the universe.  Maybe not the whole universe, but their universe.  So focus on what is before you to do and not on anyone else’s purpose.  (If you go to do the laundry allow yourself to be distracted by the dirty floor, you are going to be wearing dirty underwear.  Trust me on this one.)

28. Allow your Creator to  sweat the details. Trust and you will rid yourself of anxiety.

Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about. Another way is to ask, “What outcome really matters to me?  What do I really want?”  Then drop everything extra.  (If it is too heavy to carry, do not pack it in your suitcase.  Put it in your brother’s when he isn’t looking.  Then you can tease him about being such a wimp. Good times.)

29. Expect wonderful and you will get wonderful.
Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.  (If you wake up expecting me to have come over and cleaned your house for you while you slept, fat chance.)


30. Live your life from gratitude; all the rest will follow from this one virtue.

No matter how good or bad you think have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for their own.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have.  Prosperity can never be realized  if you miss out on the  riches you already have by focusing on what you don’t have and getting what you want will never be enough if you cannot learn to appreciate what you possess right now.  (I hope you are grateful you invested the time to read this article.  I know I am.)

That is the list. 30 gifts that will change your life.  30 guidelines that will make this the best year of your life.  Focus on one or two at a time until they are habit. By the end of 2012, you won’t believe how far you have come.  And if you can learn  to appreciate my sense of humor, then anything is possible.

May joy, peace, love, prosperity and all good gifts manifest in each of us. Blessings.
Jodiebeth Jackson

                                                                                                           

Water

A rocky stream in the U.S. state of Hawaii.

Image via Wikipedia

This is my year to focus on gratitude and celebration of all God is and all the prosperity and blessings he pours forth on me every moment of every day. Today is the best day of my life! I have pledged to share here on FB at least one thing I am grateful for every day. Shoot me a comment if you pledge to join me in this goal for 2012. Gratitude can surely change our lives! Today, I am so grateful for: water. It is powerful, elemental, cleansing, refreshing physically, emotionally, spiritually. It teems with life and within life. It can be deliciously cold and sensually warm. Nothing is better when your hands are freezing than to warm them under a steaming stream of it. It caresses the skin, soothes the soul. We are baptized in it. It makes the wine and grain of our communion elements. Some of my favorite experiences with water are: walking in the ocean tide as I gaze into its vastness; steamy bubblebaths; awakening to the sound of pounding rain, babbling brooks, ocean surf; my hot sweet tea; cold and splashed on my sleepy face; icy and dripping from a sweating glass into my parched mouth; splashed at me as I play in it with a friend; splashed out when I jump in a rain puddle; on my altar as I connect with the Divine in prayer.

Today, Father God, I thank you for water. It is an elemental part of me, my life, and all life and it is good.

via (2) Jodiebeth Slatton-Bloedel.

 

Gratitude

Image by ally213 via Flickr

Kick Off 2012 with Project 365.

My Project 365:  To keep a “Gratitude Journal”.  Since my personal goal for this year is to live a daily life of gratitude and celebration of all the gifts and blessings I receive each day, it is only natural to make this project an extension.  Each day I will endeavor to record a post of at least one thing for which I am grateful.

In Living in Gratitude, Angeles Arrien states that the philosopher, Cicero, felt that gratitude was the parent of all virtues and that once gratitude is established in a person’s life,  it will beget other virtues.  She also quotes Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast, as writing that, “gratefulness is the inner gesture of giving meaning to our life by receiving life as a gift.”

I find it is impossible to be positive with out a grateful heart and that a grateful heart is always positive.  I also find that a positive outlook leads to internal peace, joy, love, kindness, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control:  the fruit of the Spirit as stated in the book of Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22.

In addition, I have set up a program for myself of readings and meditations on gratitude.  The celebration will be continuous within my own spirit, but I also have a few other celebratory ideas circulating around my cranium!  Nobody loves to throw a good party like moi!!

Project 365 will be one aspect which will build to make my 2012, the best year of my life.  I invite you to please join me on my journey to explore the best life has to give and offer up your comments.  Thank you for reading.  Namaste‘.

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