Wednesday, September 24, 2014

For What Are You Grateful?

Are you able to experience gratitude on a daily basis? I’m not just talking about appreciating someone opening a door for you when your hands are full. I’m talking about a deep resonance within your heart, not just once in a while, but throughout the day, but just how blessed you are.
I felt that for four days recently on a humanitarian mission to Bogotá, Colombia. As a member of Airline Ambassadors International, I accompanied over a dozen other volunteers as we visited and supported the children of Orphanage Rompiendo Cadenas. This facility houses about 75 children from toddlers to young adults. Adoption is impossible since their parents are still on the street or in jail, many who are prostitutes and/or drug addicts.
While the living conditions at the orphanage are far below our American standards, the consistent and heartfelt joy shown by the kids in helping one another is beyond belief. Do they ever fight or disagree? Sure. They’re kids! But most of the time they are looking out for one another. They are a very large family that works together and shares of their limited resources.
Carolyn and Terry reading to Nicole
This week’s writing is not about how much we have here in the States and how we should feel guilty if we complain about our life. It’s also not about helping people overseas when we have plenty to do to address starvation and poverty in our own country. What this writing is about is how we can train ourselves to appreciate what we have.
Is it wrong to want more, or have more, when people around the world or in your town are in lack? No, it is not. Denying ourselves our blessings does no one else any good here or abroad. We live in an abundant universe, one ready to support us in more ways than we can believe possible at times. But we have to be the ones to reach out. We have to open our consciousness and our hearts to accept our good.
The way to start that process is to begin appreciating what we have. Take nothing in your life for granted. Be grateful for all those who bless you throughout today. We get precious little support in the media for doing good deeds for others. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something on our own. It’s like the argument against recycling that goes along the line of “recycling just one can or envelope is not going to save the planet.” No, it won’t. But if 100,000 of us each recycled a can or envelope it can certainly reduce our carbon footprint on Mother Earth.
Perhaps that’s the crux of my thoughts this week. It’s not whether or not we can fly around the world helping people with less than us, or recycling everything in sight. It’s about doing those seemingly small random acts of kinds, those little gestures of love and appreciation that bring us closer to creating a world where peace and abundance are the norm.
If you feel so inclined, take a look at the link above to the orphanage. It will take you to a video of a past humanitarian mission. I guarantee your perception of your day will change. Whether or not you do click on the link, I hope you’ll take a few moments today to find the blessings in your life. And, in that deep appreciation and grateful feeling, how will you reach out to others in your own life? We do not give to receive, but in the giving we receive back more than we can imagine.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Getting Happiness Back In Your Life

This week I want to chat with you about how scented balls led to a change in my thinking and attitude. Now you might be wondering exactly what those are and how they might enrich your life. Or, you might be taken aback by what fear could turn into a very different discussion. Either way I can safely say that you probably have a smile on your face.
Or not. I hope so, though! The scented balls I’m talking about are those gel-like, round beads that you may have seen in a candle store. They scent rooms or your car with a far lighter scent than a candle or incense. My partner got one for me and it fits perfectly in the backseat cup holder in my car.
But after a couple of weeks of summer heat, all that was left of the puffed up nodules were some very small hard, seed-like looking grains. The scent still lingered, but what to do? Just for fun I filled the jar halfway with warm water. In less than 30 minutes I had a jar full of those gel-like beads again, as well as a more pronounced scent for my car!
I marveled at how quickly and easily they transformed back to their intended appearance and function. (Side note:  I’ve done this process again at least twice with the same result!) It occurred to me that sometimes I feel just like those dried out scented balls. My heart becomes hard and feels like it’s going to crack in half. Then someone smiles or is kind to me when I’m out running errands. Or, I may read something funny online that makes me question my sadness or anger. My heart softens and the world no longer looks so cruel and cold.
How quickly that can happen! In an instant – far less than 30 minutes! – we can be transformed. Our lives become immediately happier and we don’t feel as alone. I don’t know what the triggers are for you, either for feeling down or rejuvenating yourself to the person you love to be. But I do know it’s important that we all find what it is we do to change our attitude. For me it’s a Beach Boys album or a Cher disco CD. (Give me a break here? I grew up on the Southern California coast and came out in the late 1970s!)
Find something you know will make you happy. Perhaps it’s a reading, a place, some music or the kindness of a friend. Keep that action on mental speed dial. Our spirit may be eternal, but our lives in these bodies have a very limited time on the planet. Take advantage of every second of every day!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Will You Remember?

When you think back on the past what comes to mind? Good memories? Painful ones? Today is Patriot Day in the United States. It’s observed on September 11 to mark the anniversary of terrorist attacks in 2001. (Side point? It’s “Patriot Day,” NOT “Patriot’s Day!” Patriot's Day (or Patriots' Day) commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were fought near Boston in 1775. Being in a relationship with a historian has its perks.)
Patriot Day. On September 11, 2001, at least 2,996 people lost their lives. Thousands of people knew someone who died that day. Thousands more know someone who lost a loved one. But what will we remember?
That day is an intensely personal memory for most of us in this country. The day is still fraught with loss, with sadness and with anger. Our nation lost a big chunk of our innocence; America had to admit she was no longer safe from modern-day terrorism on her own soil.
Many of us got angry – really angry. A lot of people still are. People wanted then and still want today to have one particular individual or group to blame. The situation is too complex for that to happen. Unfortunately, much of the anger has been waged against innocent Muslims. The great majority of Muslims decry the attacks to our country even more than some Christians and Jews, because these senseless acts of violence desecrate Islam and her principles. Yet, those people continue to bear the brunt of ignorance and senseless violence.
There is, perhaps, a greater question than, “What do you remember?” The more productive and telling question is, “How does remembering what you experienced serve you?” Whether it’s observing the anniversary of 9/11 or the memory of a nasty divorce, what emotions do we want to stir up when recalling the past?
I don’t suggest forgetting painful memories or missing loved ones no longer with us, but I conversely I don’t recommend dwelling on those thoughts to our physical, emotion and spiritual detriment either. Just like a physical wound creates scar tissue, our emotional wounds can create something similar in our consciousness. We are stronger for what we move through and beyond.
But like that scar tissue, going back and picking off the emotional scar tissue, digging open the wound and then dredging up blame and anger doesn’t help us heal. Some reading this will say, “But I DESERVE to be angry!” Perhaps you do. If that is your need then you will have that experience and all the consequences that accompany your emotions. I believe what we deserve is peace of mind, self-respect and unshakeable faith in the power of love.
If there is some event in your life – 9/11 or something else – would you be willing to remember the experience from a place of observation instead of re-enactment? On Patriot Day we can honor our fallen heroes through working for peace instead of seeking to further destroy. We can seek to understand, instead of demanding to be understood. We can listen with the intent of healing, instead of waiting for a break in the conversation to interject snarky retorts.
The common slogan from that day 13 years ago is, “We will never forget.” I’ve more often used my own slogan, “We will always remember.” The question is, How will my memories aid in creating a better life for myself and others? What can I take away from the experience to move forward into the future, learning from the past instead of being stuck in it?
With blessings and love for all the people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and for their families and friends who still miss them,


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

You Only Live Once?

Do you believe you only live once? When I was a child I was taught there was no life before this one. It was drilled into me that if I died before Judgment Day there would be no life after death, unless I had been really, really … I mean REALLY … good and did all the things I was taught on Sunday and throughout the week.
As I grew older I came to believe that life is eternal and, though we may have different bodies or expression through time, there is no end to the life energy within each of us. I developed a strong conviction that I had lived lives before this one and that my spirit will go on to live after my body dies, either on this plane of existence or others.
But Warren Buffet changed my mind last week. (I’ll bet in a thousand years you did NOT see that coming!) John G. Taft, the author of “Stewardship: Lessons learned from the lost culture of Wall Street,” recently wrote about the greatest sayings of Buffett. In the article he refers to the “punch card analogy” Buffett uses in the context of investment and finance. Taft suggests that it can apply to life in general as well.
Briefly, this punch card idea states that we have a limited number of key decision-making events that occur in our lives. If your “life card” has twenty places to punch on it, once you make one of those choices you have only nineteen left. Think about the old amusement parks rides that took a different number of tickets for each ride. When your roll of tickets was gone you went home. “What?” you say? “Talk of limitation from a religious science minister who believes in our unlimited potential?” Yes, in a way, so mark this down as one of those times.
This idea goes quite well with the belief that we have freedom of choice, but not of consequence. Choosing a drama over a comedy at the theater or pasta instead of salad for dinner probably isn’t going result in some earth-shattering or otherwise monumental change. If I choose the comedy film followed by the pasta it’s probably not going to be something memorable ten years from now unless, of course, that cute Italian waiter is my next ex-husband.
Narrowing our choices and choosing wisely can have a tremendous impact on our overall happiness and satisfaction with life. Too many choices of anything can stop us from moving forward – ask any couple who had to decide on what color(s) to paint the bathroom. Conversely, only one or two choices can feel like it’s “damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don’t,” which for me translates into “I’m powerless and a victim.”
The danger here is taking an attitude of “I don’t care” on one end of the spectrum and “I have to do this” on the other. Very few of our daily decisions fall soundly on either end. Most are in the middle. The rest lean more toward one side or the other.
Our job is to decide just how much energy we want to put into our decisions. To assist with decision making think about this:  How important will this decision be in five years? In ten years? Or, If I had been given only one more year to live, what different choices would I make?
I suggest to you that there will never, ever be another unique person exactly like you through whom God (Spirit, if you prefer) can experience life. Be confident in your decisions. Choose wisely. And, above all, make sure God’s having a good time in the process, since you are that which God is!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,