Merry Christmas!

Long ago and far away, the reason for the season was born. He was a humble man, born in a stable. Life for him was simple. His message was clear, free from complications, and full of love for mankind.

But as we look at the Christmas Season today, it is filled with so many things to do that we drop into bed exhausted by the day’s activities and expectations. Have you ever stopped to think about why?

It should be time filled with good memories, moments of love and good will shared with others we care about. However, it is often a time of great stress, both personally and financially. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why that happens? It is a time filled with overdone to-do lists, stressed out, short breathing, and exhaustion. Does that sound merry? Nope.

When was the last time you took time for yourself to stop and enjoy the fleeting moments of your life? How are you breathing? Is it short and from the chest? Or is it relaxed and coming from the stomach, filling your lungs with life-giving oxygen?

Yes, it is a time for celebrating other people in your life. Does it come from expensive gifts you cannot afford? Or is it gifts from the heart, no matter how small? Is it baked goods, cooked with a happy heart, sharing of your energies and time? Do you stop to actually listen to others? Sometimes, that is the greatest gift of all. People in our world are crying out to know they exist. Is it a smile or a shoulder to cry on?

Life can be so much simpler if you let it be that. Look hard at your to-do lists. Examine them carefully. Is each item coming from a heart brimming with joy or expectations? Hope for a better world, no matter how small an action?

Your attitude of gratitude is necessary from beginning to end. Do you spend even five minutes of your day being grateful for the good in your life? This is vital to your well-being.

It is the way you give a gift and not the gift itself, after all. It is an expression of the love, appreciation, and joy that the gift is given. It is not the amount of money spent on it, but the act itself of remembering.

They say that the first gift you buy should be one for yourself. Do you do that? Have you ever done it?

This is the most beautiful time of year, filled with so much to be thankful for: Eyes that see, ears that hear, taste buds that celebrate the many delights of food made especially during this season, and the touch of others – be it an elbow bump, a hug, or a massage.

Remember: Life is so precious. Take time for yourself so you can relax into the season. Do not overextend your energy levels. Do what you can do each day, and do it with a happy heart filled with the joy of life. What more could you ask of yourself? That takes deep breathing, which goes away with the first moment of stress and anxiety. Stop and query: Is this act/gift, etc., really necessary? If exhaustion is a factor, take care of yourself first, not last. We only get so much energy to spend each day. Make each detail of your day count towards that end. Life will go on, whether you drop into bed at night, still filled with the stresses of the day, or if you relax before going to bed, counting the blessings of the day.

Life can be so much simpler if you put some thought into it. Are you willing?

Warmest wishes for the happiest of Holiday Seasons!

Walk on Water or Sink?

The story of Jesus from Matthew 14: 22-33:

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. ”

This story can be applied to our daily lives, not as a myth, but a reality. The key here is Faith and Belief, not only in our Creator but also in ourselves.

When we begin something new, there is an idea that we can accomplish something. Usually there are details towards that end: Perhaps something we had not thought about when we began becomes quite important; sometimes there are people in our lives who discourage us from making changes or taking chances; but often it is a personal attitude that questions everything about it, expecting failure before we even start, and fears/doubts of almost anything our inner self can come up with, realistic or imaginary.

Relating the above paragraph to the walking on water idea: How often do you ask yourself: “Can I do this? Am I worthy? Who do I think I am? What if __________ (fill in the blank)? If only ________________ (fill in the blank) such and such would/could happen. You know the inner drill. This calls into action our self esteem, the role others play in our lives and the resulting decisions of action or inaction, what we expect of ourselves and others, and how we eventually react. Do we shut down and forget the whole thing? Do we pursue it by not expecting success but failure? Can you imagine a successful ending to the idea? Do we press on to the original goal, making adjustments as needed? Do we put forth enough of whatever it takes to arrive at a successful conclusion?

That is why the words Faith and Belief are counter to the Fears we dream up from our overworked imagination. Do you want to WALK ON WATER, going forth with your ideas, goals, and dreams? Or do you want to let your FEARS CAUSE YOU TO SINK? It is a personal decision, after all.

When one begins to make changes and take chances, the unknown takes on an outsized proportion to what it deserves. We really do make mountains out of molehills. So choose: Mountain or Molehill, stop where you are and stay the same or reach out and begin to become the person you were born to be!

God’s blessings upon your journey!

jesus walks on the water (matthew 14), published c. 1850 - jesus walking on the water stock illustrations

Hope Strengthens and Enables

A life without Hope is like a broken-winged bird that cannot fly!

Langston Hughes poem “Dreams” says it well:

“Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

“Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.”

Dreams and hopes go hand in hand daily. Where one is, you will find the other.

Daily life has alterably changed. Where once one could see forever and think change is just a choice, daily life for the whole world has now been transmuted. But if you look carefully, you will see that one still has choices in what thoughts to think, what ideas to concentrate on, and what actions to take.

Know this: Outside stimuli cannot demand what response one takes. Yes, we can just REACT, but we can also choose to ACT after considering our many options. Life goes on, and so must we.

One can choose HOPE that enables good thoughts to come forth. Out of those thoughts, options multiply. Isn’t that worth the effort on your part?

Carpe Diem

The literal translation of carpe diem is “pluck the day,” referring to the gathering of moments like flowers and suggesting the ephemeral quality of life. Commonly understood as “seize the day,” the Latin phrase originated in the “Odes,” a long series of poems composed by the Roman poet Horace in 65 B.C.E

What better way to approach each and every day?

God’s blessings upon your journey!

FEAR IMMOBILIZES!

Fear does indeed immobilize one because it enables thought patterns that are based on the worst possible outcome. This, in turn, creates emotions that ensure vulnerability and helplessness. Overwhelmed by all of the above, inaction itself generates a decision from indecision!

Sound crazy? Of course, it is! Does it happen? All the time! Why? Because fear is so strong a negative emotion that it just takes over, mind and body. All one can focus on is the object/idea feared. No other outcome is thought about. Peace is an impossible dream.

Somewhere in the Fear spectrum, Anger enters like a charging elephant! Unstoppable? You bet! This causes one to perform poorly and respond negatively and overactively to outside stimuli.

As long as one’s attention is focused on the “bad stuff” of life, which happens daily in most people’s experiences, the “good stuff” is kept locked up and cannot hold sway in your thoughts and emotions.

Focus is the key here. It’s like holding a magnifying glass to look at something. The more it magnifies, the bigger it seems. Reality has not changed, but your perspective has greatly altered.

In order to get off the merry-go-round of this thought/emotion process, one must firmly grab the reins on this runaway horse and firmly take control. One must choose to “get a grip” and change the arena by looking at other possible outcomes, thinking/feeling other alternatives. Only then can your reality change by loosening the hold fear has on you, permitting to you to be more functional in your life and reactions to others. Anger is not generated so one can think better before acting.

The exclusivity of Fear is this example: I was driving a good friend of mine home about sunset. It was the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen, vivid, so many colors! I brought this to the attention of my friend (who was caught up in a negative sequence involving Fear and Anger). She absolutely could not see the beauty of it. She brushed it aside and continued with her diatribe. Nothing in her situation changed because she was “feeding the monster!” The situation became unalterably worse. How else could it be?

If one wants peace to fill your mind and life, your focus has to change. Ernest Holmes said: “What you think about, you bring about.” I would add that thoughts create feelings, which are the engine of the mind. Both create your reality, like it or not. Focus is part of the idea behind Dr Wayne Dyer’s: “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

Do you want to continue down a negative path in your life, or do you prefer peace, adaptation, mobility, and different choices to govern you? It is, after all, your choice. Are you willing to experience something else?

God’s blessings on your journey!

I Am The Doorkeeper of My Mind, Always!

I have known for many years that I Am The Doorkeeper of My Mind!

“Thoughts are Things!” Ernest Holmes…Also: “What you think about, comes about!”

Philippians 4:8 (King James Version): “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Could it be any more clear?

Yet we stuff our monkey minds with cluttering thoughts during every minute of every day, losing our peace and joy for what purpose? Just like the song, “Windmills of Your Mind”:

“Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel,

Never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel…

As the images unwind, like the circles that you find

In the windmills of your mind.”

Can you choose to stop, hit pause, and just be quiet for a moment? Or is your race so harried that your breath is shortened from stress, possibly self-imposed because of your thinking processes?

Life itself is filled with noises of every kind. Some are important, but most are not. If one does not differentiate between incoming sensory information, overwhelm is a natural outcome. Then if you react to the situations, you are “waking up the devil” inherent in each one, which is a recipe for disaster.

Romans 12:2 states: Be ye therefore transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Why would this be important? Because thoughts create emotions, which are the driving force of your personal engine.

What would a car be like if you had no destination in mind? Or being a ship on the ocean, driven by winds and currents instead of guided on its way? Your life is your ship. If your thoughts linger with worry, anger, loss and other negative emotions, you are feeling all that you do not want to happen…pushing on the accelerator, if you will, but going nowhere. Is that what you want?

If you are The Doorkeeper of Your Mind, you will have a different way of looking at everything. Situations are an outside stimulus which can be separated by your inside sense of calmness. If you are examining incoming data, you can sort it out a whole lot easier. This is especially true of emotions: Caused by outside circumstances or inside responses? Is it yours, or does the problem really belong to somebody else? We can remain human garbage cans, drained of all energy, unable to react appropriately, etc. Is that something you would willingly choose? I think not…yet we do it every day in almost every situation because we do not know of another choice. Yes, it is just a choice.

What do you choose?

God’s blessings upon your journey!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ship-in-full-sail.jpg

Words

Words can become the wind beneath our wings. If we use them correctly, they will uplift and guide us.

A love of reading has always been a part of me. Now I realize how very important books/learning can be because the words come to life for me to use.

In John 1:1, it states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Kahlil Gibran says: “Learn the words of wisdom uttered by the wise and apply them in your own life. Live them.”

Wow! Just think about that for a moment. Awesome!

Ernest Holmes stated: “The supreme affirmation is: ‘IAM’ – as such, it was given to Moses…This affirmation is constantly with us, and every time we speak, we use it in some form. We must be careful to use it only as an upbuilding force.”

Life begins each morning with an alarm – a wake-up call. Then we move into each day as usual. How much thought do we put into what we say or read?

Matthew 15:11 states, “What you put into your mouth cannot make you clean or unclean; it is what comes out of the mouth that can make you unclean (as it comes from the heart).”

Whew! Does that add responsibility, making it a personal level indeed?

Do you accept the idea of thinking about what you say before it leaves your lips? Or do your emotions react first, especially negative, angry ones, erupting like a volcano?

Proverbs 4:7 (King James Version): “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom, and with all thy getting, get understanding.”

There are so many orators in this world…great speakers. Yet there are some who do not understand the effect of the meaning of the words they speak. It is like having a menu on a raft in the Pacific Ocean, but no food to go with it, thus making it useless. However, words can also create a great deal of harm, used poorly.

So it is all up to you: Do you want to choose your words wisely before they are spoken? Do you want what comes out of your mouth and heart to be uplifting to others, or to spout hurtful words of condemnation and judgment without merit?

Again, what words you read can have a wonderful affect on your mind and heart. Choose carefully what you put into your mind, because words do, indeed, make a world of difference!

God bless your journey and your choices!

Image result for books

New Goal: Nurture your Spirit

As the New Year is coming, our minds may turn to New Year’s Resolutions. If you do make some, chances are that, once the price of achieving your goal is recognized, few will actually put out the effort in order to succeed.

One worthwhile goal is that, for about 30 minutes to an hour after you wake up, you have a direct line open to your subconscious. That is the best time to plant seeds of change in your life by reading something nurturing to your spirit.

I always follow this up with my morning prayers for all the people and matters that concern me or that I know are in need of prayers. I pray specifically by name (because I believe we are known to God by our names), as well as by groups. Another hint: If you are praying for a person, it is best to pray when you know that person(s) is sleeping. That is the best time to have maximum benefit because the conscious mind will not be running interference. This is not a control issue. You are only praying for the higher good to be manifest. It is never done to cause any harm to anyone or to manipulate. Perhaps you are praying for a healing of a specific health issue. We love people and care very much that harmful effects are occurring in each life. Thus, we are centering our attention on the highest good possible for each person–not from our personal point of view or opinion, but from a loving attitude.

Life has been particularly difficult this year due to the world pandemic of COVID19. It has impacted everyone everywhere in so many ways–health wise, financially, job wise, depression, anger, etc. Your attitude is a most valuable asset, which ends up getting lost in the daily unpleasant circumstances of your life. We know for a fact that it is not what happens to you that is the most important, but it is how you REACT to the stimuli of the outer world that is the key here. Your whole life can turn upside down, but if your focus is on the TRUTH of the bigger picture, you can more easily find a way through the difficulties. It is like plugging in an appliance in order to have it perform. Would you expect an appliance to work if you do not plug it in? Faith alone provides the avenue. If you choose to Plug In by Prayer, Reading, and Nurturing your spirit, you are bringing the power of God into your life by Activating THE HIGHER POWER, releasing the necessary energy to perform the tasks! If you don’t Plug In, you are riding a raft in the storm of life, being thrown hither and yon, without the ability to do much about it.

So, I ask you: Which would you rather do? Plug in and stay peacefully calm, poised, and capable of dealing with each difficulty as it comes up, or jump onto that raft for a wild ride for your day? It is all up to you!

God bless your journey. Happiest Wishes for a Marvelous New YEAR to one and all! God alone knows how very much we all need it!

Image result for happy new year

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Do you chop wood and carry water? You must be thinking, “Is she crazy? I’m not camping!” Tee hee!

In all reality, you do it every day, each in his/her own way. “How?” you may ask. Answer: Everything you do–be you a king, queen, laborer, or pauper–is in fact Chopping Wood and Carrying Water!

My point is that, if you are present in the moment, you are breathing, thinking, and performing your daily tasks, whatever they may be. The question is: What is your attitude? Where are your emotions? What are you thinking about and dwelling upon, whether it be past, present, or future? In these uncertain times with extreme fears and passions everywhere, where is your calmness and peace?

Only as you ask yourself these questions and then answer them can you leave the outside world behind so you can find the calmness inside you to weather the storm outside you.

The concept behind “Chopping Wood and Carrying Water” is actually a very simple one:

PRESENCE OF MIND!

If you are driving your car, is your mind thinking about the burned toast or unkind words from someone you care about? Or perhaps you are fretting because traffic is heavy and dangerous? Maybe you are concerned about a big project at work with impossible deadlines? My question is: “Are you driving your car, centering your attention on what is happening at that moment?” Would it be possible to take a deep breath, notice your surroundings, be polite to someone who needs to get over, and smile in your mirror? Taking life moment by moment is the only real way to live. You cannot do two things at once, no matter how hard you try. You may do many things in quick succession, but each one is by itself. Most people are trying to stuff their lives with stress-causing, unrealistic expectations of themselves and others.

Presence is defined as: “The state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present in a place.”

What that translates to is: Are you aware of how you are breathing at this particular moment in time? If you are breathing from your chest, you are stressed out. Only when you are aware of being able to breathe deeply from your stomach/diaphragm area can you get a handle on what is going on with you…your brain…your emotions. What is in the room with you at this moment? Is there something beautiful to please you, or a wonderful smell like baking bread, or perhaps the scent from someone you care about? So many times, our monkey mind is fretting over some silly situation that truly does not matter at all, if you stop and think rationally about its components. Usually it is just emotions running wild. Calmness is an impossible dream and totally out of reach.

Why? Because your attention is so centered on it, emotionally ruminating about it in your mind, perhaps drawing up unpleasant scenarios. Why do that to yourself? Beats me!

So many things are outside of our control, especially now. We forget that it is our reaction to outside stimuli that is causing the problem.

Life will go on, trust me, if you stop, take a deep breath, and apply Presence of Mind at that moment. You can control your reactions, but you must take the thoughtful action to do it. Are you willing? CHOP WOOD AND CARRY WATER!

God bless you on your journey!

The Dance of Life

When one opens his/her eyes, the Dance of Life begins. Perhaps you have not even swung your feet out to the floor yet, but thoughts and emotions begin to pummel your consciousness…things to do, priorities, fears, worries, etc. Usually, it is the negative stuff that creates stress that come immediately to mind.

Wouldn’t it be great if your first thought upon waking is: “Thank God I am alive!” Breathe deeply, and feel your mouth smile. Joy fills your being. You are looking forward to another day of living your life, moving to the inner music created by a soul at peace.

If you had to guess, which scenario would come to the mind of most people? My guess is that the first one reigns supreme, with few even believing that the second one is a real possibility and not just an impossible dream.

At the root of the problem is the idea that your reality is subject to many outside influences and situations, most of which are intending to cause you stress and predicaments beyond your ability to cope with them. Your Dance of Life would sound like a cacophony of irritable noises to which you would move like a puppet on a stage, with strings beyond your control. Your breath moves up to your upper chest, denying the lung’s capability to provide oxygen fully to your body. Does that sound hopeless? It does to me.

Who would think that the busy thoughts in your mind could be controlled, with a choice of what and how to dwell on each situation the day would bring? Being able to use your body awareness to soften the abdomen when breathing in, and tightening it to push the air out so you get the benefits of oxygen to all parts of your being is not a silly idea pushed by some guru on television. It is actually the saving grace, becoming the beginning of the Dance of Life that is possible for each and every one.

We have all heard the famous saying, “Life is 10% of what happens and 90% of how you react to it.” In life, attitude is everything; it is what shapes our beliefs and our desires. I would add that it determines how your Dance of Life will unfold.

Yes, there are so many outer occurrences in our life that seem to predetermine our reactions, thoughts, and emotions. But what if you could change that? During this time of fear-filled existence, a sense of loss of so many things that we once considered our divine heritage, and exterior dictates of our daily routine, how could it be possible to be serene and at peace with yourself and others?

If you want a dose of insanity, turn on the television to listen to the daily news. That will begin your morning with negativity enough to last all day and well into the night. Every thought and emotion, every occurrence, etc., will solidify the notion that this world is truly chaotic, with no hope of anything else.

Or: you could get a cup of tea or coffee, sit quietly for a few minutes, and possibly read something uplifting to your heart and mind, concentrating on what is right in the world instead of all that which is wrong. Breathe deeply, do some yoga or Tai Chi as you move into your world with a sense of lightness and joy versus darkness, sadness, and anxiety for yourself and the world at large.

We all know someone who is in dire straits right now, perhaps jobless, hungry, and depressed. Where does one draw the line with compassion for all those others who are hurting deeply in so many ways right now? Praying is a good key, of course. Each person must answer that one personally. But it is possible to remain in a peaceful center while partaking of such activity as you deem necessary…if you begin when you first open your eyes in the morning and before your feet touch the floor.

One thought that has recently come to me is: In the Dance of Life, the part we play (big or small) is just a tiny portion of the lessons others came to this planet at this time in history in order to learn.

It is the idea of a grandfather teaching his grandchild about a butterfly which is struggling to get out of its cocoon. The child wants to aid it by helping to remove the cocoon. The grandfather stops her, saying, “If you do that, you are condemning it to a flightless existence. Only by its struggle to get out of its cocoon will the life force fill its wings so it can fly and be the beautiful thing it was meant to be.”

If you could magically remove the struggles you see every day, would you? Could you? Should you? We all help where we can, yes. But where is your stopping point?

At any rate, your Dance of Life is under your care, custody and control. What kind of music do you want to hear as you move through your day? It is, after all, within your power of choice to determine this, each and every day.

God bless you on your journey!

God Is Good!

During this long period of time after CoVID19 happened, changes in our world have left so many of us with extreme emotions about many topics. Everything we knew as normal is gone, with no expectation that anything will return to what it was.

These emotions range from despair, fear, angst, discord, grief, disappointment, anger, etc. There has been very little hope generated. Isn’t that a sad thought?

Now add in the upcoming election cycle, where civility has taken a back seat to angry dissertations and arguments between family members, friends, coworkers, etc. Everyone is so attached to their points of view that no one else can say anything else or contrary to it. Why is that? What makes this time in history different from any other occasion?

During this fractious time, if one were to say: “God is Good!” – it would seem like a crazy person said it. Why is that? How about: “Hope is a part of my everyday thinking!” Positive affirmations have been pushed aside as futile. Yet I would like to posit that this is the only way out of the darkness that surrounds us.

Is God Good when so many are in travail over the lack of money, lost jobs, missed opportunities, in ill health? Perhaps someone we care about has made his/her transition, and grief is all we can feel because we have not had the closure of being by his/her side when it happened? So many reasons to question the idea that God is still good.

Let me assure you that God has not changed, nor has He/She/It gone anywhere. You are not operating in a void, all alone in your misery. Your tool for access is prayer, whatever you define that to be. There is also meditation, deep breathing, yoga, being centered, exercise, experiencing the outdoors as best you can, peaceful sleep which rejuvenates the soul and mind, etc. Life can be better, no matter what you are personally dealing with.

It has been said that, “It is not what happens to you, but how you react to that which matters.” Can you believe that in this traumatic time? You can decide how you personally will respond to each and every situation in your daily life. Is that a unique idea to you? Possibly, but it is absolutely true. Outside happenings cannot dictate to you how you will decide to take action, unless it is an approaching angry tiger or elephant. Yet so many of us act like every single thing is an approaching angry tiger or elephant! No wonder you are exhausted when you fall into bed at night!

COVID19 and the election will pass. A vaccine will be formulated and distributed. Life will continue. The only question you have to ask yourself is: How am I going to make it through this storm?

If you are depressed, fearful, angry, grief-stricken, or caught up with any other negative emotion, you are planting more of the same. In order to have a different result, you will have to change your focus to something better.

You might ask me how. Focus is defined as concentrating on a thought or emotion, enabling clear perception or understanding. If you feel like you are a gerbil in a cage, with thoughts and feelings which only make you feel worse, you know you are stuck and need to turn your attention elsewhere. Only then will you be released from the cage of your own making.

Use whatever tools you possess (reading good thoughts, meditation, yoga, deep breathing while focusing on the stillness of a placid lake, whatever) to change your attention and perspective. You just have to be willing to do that. Are you?

Remember:  God Is Good!

Peace be with you on your journey.

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