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Aging and Adaptation

As we age, so much has changed in the world. What we once considered normal has been replaced by a world that is often beyond our understanding. Certainly, life goes on. Our grandchildren talk about their games as though they are the only reality, and we look at them with a jaundiced eye, thinking: “What are they talking about?” I am certain they look at us with the same opinion.

If we live long enough, our bodies become frailer and more subject to whatever malady comes our way. We remember being able to walk for long periods of time, enjoying the outdoors and activities that pleasure us. Then we could bend down easily as we work with our flowers or do yardwork with vim and vigor. Well, that is no longer true. We must adapt to what our bodies will let us do so that we do not injure ourselves. I personally must go fetch a store person to get items on the lower or upper shelf.

As for maladies, we have to watch our bodies carefully so we can pay attention to when they need a little assistance to keep on going. Our doctors help us with medicines, physical therapy, and sometimes surgeries. I, for one, am grateful for their assistance because I remember my father passing away at the young age of 43 from complications from a duodenal ulcer surgery. The miracles of this age we are living in constantly amaze me because there are new medicines, surgeries, and new techniques, i.e., removing the appendix through a small hole in the side in lieu of cutting one open.

Life does indeed go on if we are lucky. I personally have experienced friends and relatives who have passed away at a much younger age than I. Grief is a hard thing to bear. It can be formidable. It can involve so many different emotions and takes such a long time to work through. Memories offer some solace, as does knowing that person is in a better place or is no longer in pain.

Aging can be a blessing, if we let it be that. We can exercise, do yoga, deep breathing, and whatever activity adds joy to our lives such as luncheon with friends, listening to good music or reading a good book. We can take classes in so many subjects. The Great Courses offer home learning at an affordable price so we can read the book that comes with the class and play the DVD at our pace of learning. There is always the availability of classes in our local colleges, churches, and Community Centers. There are many social events like cards, Bingo, and group activities to feed our socialization needs.

Adaptation to our needs is a requirement and a necessity. We no longer have the option of thinking that things will stay the same. That is so far from the truth. Our children and their children live in a different world than we can understand. We are forced to reach out into their world so we can communicate effectively, show them love in a way they can accept, and help them to learn to adapt to circumstances as we have had to do.

Life continues, and so should we. Wherever we are, we can still think positively, act appropriately, and always love others the best we can. Are you able to do that? It is a matter of choices, after all. Are you willing?

God’s blessings on your journey!

Hub of the Wheel = Peace

Imagine a large wheel like on a Conestoga wagon or a bicycle. It is round with spokes of metal or wood going to the center hub. All the motion takes place on the circumference or outer edges of the wheel while the hub center is still.

Now think of all the activities you do each day. Think of how busy you are from the time you get up until you go to bed. These are on the circumference. Some days you feel like you have been run over or left behind.

The world today is filled to the brim with doubts and fears of so many things. How can you maintain your center in this crazy world?

The answer lies in what you are focusing your attention on and what emotions and thoughts you are reacting to. Sound simple? Actually, it is. Strangely enough, it is demonstrated on a column in the Temple at Karnak in Egypt. There is a figure shown there who is moving its head from one cheek to another. Jesus said to “turn the other cheek.” Somehow, this lesson has been abused so badly that it interprets to a “It’s OK to hit me again!” mindset. What it literally means is:  Change Your Focus!

So how do you manage to perform this task when every minute something more is added to your “To Do List” for the day? It begins and ends with your thoughts and emotions.

Do you long for PEACE and Stillness of Heart and Mind? It is yours immediately when you move from being on the circumference of the wheel to its center! Take deep breaths! Close your eyes! When your monkey (busy) mind draws your attention to things on the circumference, take another moment to brush that thought away without resistance or dwelling on it. Begin to imagine a place with great beauty and quiet. It could be a majestic memory, a mountain cabin, or a peaceful beach. Mine is a wondrous garden filled with scents from the fabulous flowers. I am sitting on a bench, quietly absorbing my surroundings. All else is dimmed like a person in a balloon who can hear sounds from far away till that, too, fades away. This excursion of your mind can take but a few moments, but it will move you from chaos to peace.

When you open your eyes, your perspective is changed. You have found your center and become a spectator of the things on your circumference in lieu of being a participant in the craziness. With that, you can choose to act calmly instead of reacting to outside stimuli. As you continue to breathe deeply, you can then take whatever actions you deem appropriate to those activities on your circumference, but your heart and mind are at PEACE!

Can you imagine a greater gift that you can give yourself? I think not. Peace is yours whenever you stop for a moment and move from the circumference to the hub.

Choose wisely for the choice is yours alone.

God’s blessings on your journey.

The Problem of Doubt

When you pray and finish with “Amen,” your thoughts, words, and feelings have created a mold which God can fulfill.

Do you know that God hears you? Or does doubt assail your thoughts and emotions, like:

“I know God has more important matters to attend to.”

“Perhaps I only thought I was praying to God that can hear me, but it was actually only a busy signal on His phone.”

“I am unworthy to ask these things.”

“I am a hopeless, hapless sinner so why would God answer me?”

“Are you really there, God?”

“Can you even hear me?”

Many are the thoughts that can “water down” the effectiveness of your prayers if you continue to dwell on them instead of your prayer. Where is your focus?

Do you know that God is your loving Companion every day with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings, good or bad, knowing that there is no judgment on His part? Does He walk by your side every day, attending to your needs as well as your prayers?

Is this really a possibility…that His phone can never be BUSY and that He hears and cares about you personally?

Is He a living presence that accompanies you wherever you go, helping you every day to endure the daily wear and tear of daily life, comforting you when you are sad, ill, or feeling a loss? Does He rejoice with you when you are celebrating and happy? Some people think God is only needed when you are in distress of some kind.

I can readily assure you that God is there for you every step of the way, every minute…whether you are waking or sleeping. He is ready to listen and aid you in your hours of need or bliss.

However, the power of doubt can erase this connection so powerfully that you can actually believe all your negative doubts that are like those mentioned above.

If you think He is not there for you, He isn’t because you let go of His Guiding and Loving Hand.

You must choose what to believe—He can be your Companion, or you can be all alone in your misery. It’s all up to you.

God’s blessings on your journey.

Your Life Is Your Mirror

Your life reflects your words, thoughts, and emotions/feelings. What are you dwelling on, thinking about, speaking, feeling?

“How can this be?” you may ask yourself. “Surely this is a joke!” Sad to say, it is not.

So look around you. Stop for a moment and concentrate on your life as it exists at this moment. What do you see? How do you feel? Is it beautiful or ugly? Are you peaceful or being torn apart by your inner lions? Anger, fear, hatred, and all separating emotions fall into this category. How do you tame them? Do you even want to? Are you so certain that your reactions to outside stimuli command these lions to come forth (so you cannot help or stop them)? Is it worth the price you pay? Are you so righteous that it justifies them?

When you close your eyes at night, what do you see, think about, and remember? Savoring that moment when you discovered something so beautiful that it made you stop in your tracks? Beautiful flowers, sunsets, some kindness that was given to you, a hug, a smile, a kiss perhaps? Life can be magical even in these trying times where so many are suffering from unimaginable tragedies. The question becomes:
What are you dwelling on? Is it one of life’s injustices common in these days? Or would you rather think, speak, and feel about ARK: Acts of Random Kindness that you did for others which were returned to you?

The lions inside of every one of us really do become the kings of our inner beings, dictating our life, reactions, and thoughts toward whatever is wrong with our own personal world. The good things disappear in the mist of our mind. When one looks around and finds hopelessness, fatigue, and sadness, you can rest assured that the restless lions are at work in your particular world.

In order to tame those lions, many suggest that deep breathing in the middle of the daily battle (if battle it be) and meditating on uplifting thoughts can give you moments of the peace you seek.

Bad things happen to all of us on this third rock from the sun. No matter how good or how bad a person we are, what we sow, we reap. In some cases, a few plant bad seeds of discontent, etc. There is enough of a mirage surrounding these few that they seem believable in the extreme, and like the pied piper calling the lemmings to the sea, they are followed willingly, much to our sadness and regret.

But you can decide if you want the lions inside of you to reign supreme or seek a new way to think, speak, and feel. That mirror will bring the wonder of life magically back to your eyes and heart. Are you willing to use that mirror to seek the changes you need so you can experience peacefulness once more? It is, after all, up to you.

God’s blessings on your journey!

Emotions Play a Vital Part in Prayer

Before words come thoughts. These evolve and involve emotions. Thoughts are the engine, and emotions are the gasoline that drives it. So, emotions do, indeed, play a vital part in prayers.

Prayers are more than supplications to a higher Being. They are building blocks towards a better life for ourselves and others. They form the light that guides us on our way each and every day. It is that light and awareness that we share with others who touch our lives, possibly for a moment and maybe a lifetime. It forms the basis of who we really are…before we open our mouths to communicate.

If this premise is true (and I believe and know that it is), it should commend the idea of examining our thoughts and emotions before, during, and after we pray. What is it that you are feeling and thinking right now? These will generate joy instead of sadness, peace of mind vs. experiencing harried, hectic, and unhappy situations.

It is all up to you. Do you choose to throw gas on a fire which is already consuming you or pour water over it, calming reactions and your spirit?

It is within your power every day to choose which ones that will help or hurt you. Words, thoughts, and emotions bring so much power into your life, for good or ill.

It is up to you. Are you willing to look at that idea?

God’s blessing 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!

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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!

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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!

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