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No Room at the Inn

The Christmas story, as told in Luke 2:7 states: “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn.”

The first part of that sentence — all the way up through “manger” captures our attention. But I would like to draw your attention to the last words in the sentence: “…no room for them in the Inn.”

During the Christmas season, busyness rules many people’s lives, dictating a hurry and scurry that tires the body and soul. There are lists to make, gifts to buy and wrap, cards to get ready to mail, parties to attend, and festivities/programs to partake of. All of these are great and useful.

But what if you stopped to think about your life and heart as a manger where the Christ child could rest?

Are you moving so fast to participate in all your activities that there is no quiet time to speak of the manger and what it could mean to you?

Is your life like the Inn where there is no room for the ideas of faith, peace, love, hope and joy – the quintessence of the Christmas Spirit?

Whoa! Slow down! Breathe deeply now.

Every day, your brain, heart, and body need to take the time for your own good in order to make room in your being for focusing on the qualities that make up the quintessence of the Christmas Spirit — the Faith which helps you along your way, the stillness of Peace, the Love of self and others, the Hope of a better day, and the Joy of life and more livingness daily.

It would only take a few minutes, but if you choose to spend that time, the gifts that will bring will last all day long. Are you willing?

God’s blessing be upon you and your journey!  Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!

Manger of the Heart

Faith

Bring you tidings of great Joy!

Blessings Be Upon You!

Peaceful Sunset

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a quality which is worthy of your intense attention. Without it, you drift through your life. With it, you can experience more joy and awareness than you would believe possible.

Mindful is defined as: “Having in mind; aware, heedful, or careful.”

Mindless is defined as: “Not using one’s mind; showing little or no intelligence or intellect; senseless or thoughtless; taking no thought; heedless or careless; unmindful.”

The first definition (Mindful) is informative, but the second definition (Mindless) comes closer by comparison to what can happen if one does not use Mindfulness.

You may ask: How does one begin to understand Mindfulness? The answer is quite simple: Stop and Breathe Deeply.

When one actually stops (as in sit down, make yourself comfortable, and begin to look around you), things change. You begin to see colors, shapes, and sizes. You become more aware of your surroundings. Use your eyes and really look at objects. Use your fingers and touch the cloth you are wearing, sense the hardness or softness of what you are sitting on, and reach out to touch things within reach. How do they feel? What do you smell? Is there some food cooking somewhere? Is there a sweet or a sour scent somewhere close by? What do you hear? Do you have some soft music on, or can you hear the children giggling as they play a game? Did you just eat something sweet or perhaps a piece of fruit? Can your taste buds still sense the tanginess of it? In other words, use your five senses to evaluate your surroundings.

Once you have done that, place one of your hands on your belly/stomach area and one on your chest. Close your eyes. Now breathe. If the hand on your chest is moving a lot more than the lower one, you know that you are not breathing in a good way. You are more subject to stress and a lot of other ills. If you are breathing like this, you need to relax your stomach/belly and expand it with the incoming breath, pulling it in as you breathe out. It may seem strange at first, but it is vital to your health to learn how to Breathe Deeply. Now try to slow your breath, breathe in as deeply as you can and slowly breathe out. Try to breathe out longer than you breathe in because it is getting rid of the carbon dioxide and impurities.

If you have tried these exercises, you have a new awareness of your surroundings. You can then begin to do it any time of day, anywhere, and under any circumstances. You can do it for just a breath or two, or as long as you please. You may find that colors become more vibrant, and your five senses will wake up to new levels of experience.

Mindfulness is a central theme to a movie I just watched titled, “Griffin and Phoenix.” It was a very interesting story about a man and a woman who find each other only after they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and do not have very long to live. Each one knows, looking back at their lives, how they worked and lived without being truly aware of anything. They find in each other  the ability to live with Mindfulness. They want to experience every day fully as they create memories together. She knows she will not live till Christmas comes again, and she loves Christmas and presents. At the end of the movie, he goes to a hardware store and buys whatever it takes to surprise her with a decorated Christmas tree in the woods, including batteries to light up the lights, and lots of presents. It was a very poignant story.

Mindfulness can become an important part of your day. Just the act of walking can activate many thoughts as you are aware of your space and others around you. Perhaps you may see other people differently because you are more aware of what you are saying and how you are saying it. That can cause a new interaction level which can be more pleasant, whether it be a small one with a store clerk, a coworker, a friend, or a loved one. It can make you more efficient at work because it is no longer a boring repetition, but your mind is actively creating — be it a work of art, a sentence, taking care of a customer, or just cleaning up a mess that a small child just made. Your life can change a lot. But first you must be willing to pay attention to the details of your life. Like a flower emerging from the snow, you can express more livingness and joy.

After all, it is your journey and your choice. Mindfulness is a mine filled with valuable treasures, but only you can use your focus to find them. Are you willing to do it?

God’s blessings on your journey!

Breathe

Breathe

Bless each day

Bless each day

Tulips in snow

Tulips in snow

Crocus in the Snow

Crocus in the Snow

Crocus in full bloom

Crocus in Full Bloom

Azaleas in bloom

Azaleas in Full Bloom

Love – Emotion, Feeling, or State of Being?

Love is defined as: “a deep and tender feeling of affection for or attachment or devotion to a person or persons; an expression of one’s love or affection; a feeling of brotherhood and good will toward other people; a strong, usually passionate, affection of one person for another, based in part on sexual attraction; the person who is the object of such an affection; sweetheart; lover; sexual passion; sexual intercourse.”

Valentine’s Day is set apart as a celebration of Love. Couples use it as an opportunity to give gifts of chocolate, flowers, or jewelry, especially for the lady. Today, my husband and I exchanged cards expressing our devotion.  But the acts of love we give each other are a daily occurrence, large and small, year in and year out. Sometimes it is just listening to each other, exchanging a foot massage, or just enjoying each others’ presence while we walk in the park or watching a movie. We do not need to buy expensive gifts to show how much we love each other. Of course, we are older and more mature than young people are. We know what we cherish, which is time together and the attitude of being each other’s best friend. We not only honor, but we respect, each other. This removes many evils from our path.

As you look at the definition above, you need to decide for yourself which one applies to you. Love is more than sexual passion, attraction, and touching intimately. If one truly Loves another, one cares about that person, along with his/her needs/wants/desires. We are divinely made so we can help one another to grow and become the person we are meant to be. We are not meant to inhibit, control, or exhibit power over anyone if we actually are expressing Love. We are not to do harm in any way. This would include hateful, mean words which achieve nothing in the long run, but they do cause hurt feelings which sometimes cannot be eradicated. Gentle words are vital to a good relationship, while screaming and yelling exacerbate any situation.

Do you think about what you are going to say before you open your mouth? It is a good policy and serves diplomacy well. Do you ask questions, which require an answer, versus making statements which you must then defend and qualify. If you are talking to someone you truly care about, you might want to remember this. It can make a big difference in any relationship, be it a loved one, coworker, or anyone else.

If Love is just an Emotion or a Feeling, it may seemingly express itself in an ebb and flow, like the tides. Can you really have Love for a wayward teenager who is bent on achieving some idea that makes you crazy? Yup! That is when you use your Love to guide that person the best you can. It may or may not work. In the end, you do the best you can. Someday, that teenager will have children and only then will  understand how hard you tried to do the best you could. I used a teenager as an example, but it could be anyone with whom you have a relationship. Sometimes you might feel the ebb and flow with your mate. It is not a sign that love has died, necessarily. It only says something about the nature of emotions and feelings, which are not constant.

When one first “falls in love,” that person usually can do no wrong. You see “through the eyes of love.” Then somewhere along the way, little habits begin to irritate you. You either resolve them, or they continue to expand — like a snowball going downhill. Eventually, it becomes too big to stop. Bickering begins, and those turn into fights. The next thing you know, you two are separating and going your own way. Sometimes you are happy about it, and sometimes you are not. If you are caught in this spiral, you must ask yourself about why you got together in the first place. Are any of those reasons still valid? If they are, you need to find a way to fix it, if you can. If not, you need a different game plan when you enter a relationship with someone new.

A revolutionary idea: Is it possible to live in Love as a State of Being?

When you open your eyes in the morning, what is your first thought? Your second one? Are you glad to be alive? Are you grateful for something? Are you expressing friendliness to people in your world? When you take a deep breath, do you feel a sweet release of tension and stress?

The element of Livingness is expressing Love as a State of Being, coming from within, and going outwards to anyone who contacts us during a day. It does not matter if it is five minutes with a salesclerk, giving a smile and a thank you for the service rendered, or if it is towards someone you truly love — be it your mate,  mother,  family, friend, or anyone else of importance to you.

Love is a State of Mind First, Last, and Always.

If you Love Life, you stop and smell the flowers along the way, appreciate the colors that surround you, the beautiful butterflies that flutter by, and birds that sing their song. You are living in the moment, not worrying about tomorrow or yesterday. LIVE IN THE NOW. You must have heard this many times in so many different ways. By doing this, you are more able to stay in tune with your thoughts and emotions.

If you dance, are you listening to the music you are hearing RIGHT NOW? That beat, that movement is all timed to the music. It is not the song that was playing yesterday or last year. Nor is it the song that will be played next year. It is Today’s Song. By staying in the moment, you will be moving to the music of Life Within You, more able to better respond to Life’s situations, be they positive or negative.

If you look at your current situation , you need to look at where you are versus where you would like to be. It is that simple and that hard. You are the captain of your ship. You alone must decide where and how to sail it. Are you willing to make changes so that you can achieve a new beginning? It is all up to you, after all. What do you choose?

God’s blessings upon your journey.

Chuhily Exhibit

Chihuly Exhibit

Orchids

Orchids

Moonbow

Moonbow

Fire Rainbows

Fire Rainbows

Sunrise

Sunrise

Aurora Borealis and Sunset

Aurora Borealis and Sunset

Butterfly

Butterfly

Butterfly

Butterfly

Red Winged Blackbird

Red Winged Blackbird

Dove

Dove

Live in the Moment by Dr. Wayne D. Dyer

Live in the Moment by Dr. Wayne D. Dyer

 

 

Personal Rejuvenation

Springtime is here! What a wonderful time of year to zero in on your bad habits and look around for a better way to live!

We all do things on a regular basis that do not serve us very well. The bad thing about habits is that the more you resist them, the stronger they appear to be. I use the word, “appear” because it is just an illusion.

This goes for the all the “aholic” words you can think of: Chocaholic, workaholic, alcoholic, couchaholic, tv-aholic, game-aholic, text-aholic, foodaholic, phone-aholic, depressed-aholic, party-aholic, etc. Anything you do that does not serve you well qualifies.

There is an old saying that, “Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.” Ergo, anything done to excess can become “too much of a good thing.”

Moderation can assist anyone who chooses to change. A piece of chocolate, a little tv/game/text/food/party time, etc.

Spring time is a time of renewal. It is, literally, a new beginning. A time when the earth awakens to begin another cycle.

You could choose to look at the illusions you serve and treat as a reality. You can move from concentrating on the problem to one that is looking for an answer. If you ask the question, God can answer you with a magazine article, a book, a person, a teacher, or a class.

Let’s say you want to lose weight, have tried many things unsuccessfully, and have an attitude of hopelessness — one that says you have not done it before, so what makes you think this time will be any different? You are concentrating on the problem, not the answer. There is ALWAYS AN ANSWER — one that will work for you if you consistently try something new. You could NOT eat the whole container of ice cream at one sitting because you are depressed. You could take a class that is appropriate for your physical condition…something that is gentle enough to help you begin to make a difference. You could take a meditation or a yoga class to calm yourself and learn to breathe correctly in lieu of stuffing something into your mouth to anesthetize your overwrought feelings. You could say the same for cigarettes, which everyone knows is detrimental to you to the point of death.

The problem is that the gung-ho attitude for change rarely works. Sooner or later, gung-ho gets weary and leaves. It is replaced by feelings of failure, sadness, hopelessness, etc.

In order to make some changes, you need to have a dialogue with yourself and be gentler. (No strong-arming yourself, please.) Look at the people on the Fastest Loser TV Program. They have given themselves an incentive to do what it takes. Why don’t you try to do the same? Surely, there is something you want that will help you to firm your resolve and take action for a change that is beneficial to your life, your livingness, and your longevity. Make a personal reward part of the program…make the rewards small enough and doable so they reinforce your long-term goal. The only question is, are you willing to take a look at your life, make a list (short or long) of what you want to change, and then come up with at least one suggestion that will help you begin…to take that first step, even if it is like a thousand-mile journey. Again, build in a reward program as well. The journey may be shortened considerably by improved attitudes, more energy, feeling better, liking how you look in the mirror, compliments from others, etc. Then you keep putting one foot in front of the other, moving along, step by step toward the NEW YOU…in looks, actions, etc. Make up new lists of action as you move towards your goal, always keeping the steps small enough that you will be successful, creating Synergy towards where it is you are going.

REMEMBER, THE KEY TO CHANGE IS CONSISTENCY!

Does that mean that, if you make a mistake and eat a box of cookies, you just permanently trashed your choice to be healthier? No, it means that you begin again, this moment, to fix a salad and a piece of meat for dinner. Failure only occurs when you give up.

MAKE A DECISION NOW TO NOT GIVE UP, NO MATTER WHAT! PERSEVERANCE IS THE KEY HERE!

Only you can make this Springtime a journey towards changing whatever it is that is not serving you well. Are you willing to make a list, look at it, and begin?

God’s blessings on your journey!

Tulips in Snow

Tulips in Snow

Growth Happens

Growth Happens

Signs of New Life

Signs of New Life

These three pictures show how Mother Nature perseveres: Growth continues in spite of the horrendous forces that can happen. You can see pictures of trees growing out of rocks and on impossibly steep cliffs, flowers and weeds growing up through the cement, etc. These should give us impetus in our lives to overcome, to begin again, and to go for it!

 

 

 

Attitude of Gratitude

Christmas and New Year’s are now past. The gifts have been opened and enjoyed. Perhaps you have made some New Year Resolutions, had a party, and welcomed the beginning of a New Year. So…what comes next?

Will it be more of the same? Or are you determined to make some changes?

Do you look at your life frequently, just to comment on what is wrong with it?

Do you need more of ….. (you finish that sentence)?

Here’s a novel idea: Look at your life carefully. Look at all the elements that are in it. Inside of each element is something to be grateful for. Many elements you were born with: You can walk, talk, speak, smell, think. There are many in this world who do not have the abilities you do. Are you contemplating what you will have for dinner? Many are wondering if they will be able to find anything to eat at all. In short, life is really not about what is wrong, but what is right. Too much attention is devoted to correcting deficiencies, while little is spent on the attitude of gratitude.

A song says, “Count your many blessing, name them one by one…” How long has it been since you did precisely that?

Whatever you focus your attention on is “the seed of your tomorrow.” Do you want more of what is good for you, or do you want to continue like a hamster in a cage, going round and round in the same old lessons?

Life is about lessons. It is meant to be lived. We all of have to do whatever it is we do every day…work, ride the bus, drive a car, play super mom or super dad, provider, bill payer…our routines rule our life.

When was the last time you said, “Thank you!” to someone? Do you show appreciation when someone does something for you? It is all part of the Attitude of Gratitude.

As for me, I am grateful for each and every day, from the sunrise to the sunset and beyond. I do count my blessings often. I love to be able to exercise and be healthy. I love to be outside and enjoy all of God’s wonders that He shares with me, be it a coyote,  a Kestrel, or a bee on a blossom in my camera’s vision, which is also a gift. Beauty is all around, and I actively seek it.

Life comes to us a moment at a time. The Attitude of Gratitude becomes a part of our way of life, which expands our blessings and our livingness in the enjoyment of each day.

So instead of condemning (finding fault with) ourselves and others, why not spend more of our time being grateful, COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS?

Coyote

Coyote

What's up?

What’s up?

Kestrel

Kestrel

Bee on a Snap Dragon

Bee on a Snap Dragon

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