Thank You for Joining the Blog.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Who knows; maybe your comments will one day appear in a book (with your permission of course).

Please share your thoughts: how you use your life's lessons, your creativity and spirituality to navigate life.

Your definitions, experiences, general thoughts are respectfully requested.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Family: a New Dynamic

This is the first school break we are spending with our sons, both home from college. I have noticed how different this feels from those school breaks when they were little and ten days in close proximity was not always happily anticipated.

As "older parents," we were hard pressed to find the energy to full-time parent our active sons when they were young. When they started school, we only had to muster energy for part of each day, so it was manageable. When the specter of 10 days at home together approached, I would panic. Snow for a few days, hot chocolate, a fire in the fireplace, some board games, cocoa, etc. -  this was fun. After those few days, the kids were bored, complaints ensued and we all couldn't wait for school to start.

As they grew older and more independent, they entertained themselves with computers and friends, so time together was much more enjoyable (for my husband and I, anyway. As for the kids, there were periods they didn't want to be caught dead with us, which happily, they outgrew). Vacations were now less work for us as we didn't have to cater to constant meals and snacks. Yes, the good news was that they were growing up. That was also the bad news.

The dynamic this past summer vacation was different and wonderful. The boys each had a friend with them, so it was like a huge family; especially the one night we all shared with my sister and my two nieces. I treasured watching the boys in the kitchen fixing dinner together and serving us! The only thing to even hint at imperfection was that the time we had together was too short.

Then we had a nice Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin's house - like a sister and brother to me, my cousin and her husband have been close to us since the boys were born.

Now here we are at the holiday break and we have our younger son home for a full winter break. He and his friends have already been here jamming: drums and electric guitars shaking the rafters. Our older son is here for nine days, which is the longest we have been with him at one time, since he went back to college in Boston. He is cooking up a storm for us, for his friends and for Christmas dinner at my mother-in-law's house. Our grocery bill just quadrupled, I've gained 7 lbs. since he got here last weekend, and my kitchen is hostage to food preparation and its aftermath.

It is annoying? Yes. Does it feel intrusive? Yes. Is it wonderful? Oh, you can bet your life, it is!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Honoring Loss / Ode to Joy

You may be thinking, "Why would I want to honor loss?" It's such a bad feeling, but it is part of our lives, as sure as is breathing.

Over the life span of this blog, you will probably read more than one entry about loss. It's because we all experience it, and we do so in many ways. Throughout our lives we all lose loved ones, animals, things, experiences, hopes and dreams. But why dwell on it, you may wonder? It is important because it shapes the very fabric of who we become.

From early on, when we lose our first teddy bear, to the present when we lose our keys, loss invokes a sense of hopelessness, frustration, anger and maybe even despair, when the stakes are high. Surely our personal temperament adds a layer to how we cope. Being organized helps us not to lose our "stuff," and is an easy strategy, within our control, that we can employ to reduce these negative feelings.

When loss is thrust upon us and not in our control however, it shakes our foundations. We can't do anything to stop it, control it, prevent it. When loss is premature, it is somehow more unfair. When a life is well lived and fruitful, we accept loss with a little more understanding.

This past month, a dear friend passed away after a decades-long bout with cancer. It kept coming in new places and she kept on seeking treatments, conventional and unconventional. What was striking is how she lived with this incurable disease. She had so much left to do in her life, and cancer wasn't going to interfere (only temporarily during treatments). She reported the latest medical news of the past year each summer, where we saw her at our lake cabin in Maine. Each summer in past years, as I knew the cancer stubbornly kept returning with greater vengeance, I feared she would not be at the lake. In the last 2 summers, my fears were realized as she was in too much pain to make the long trip. Instead, I visited her upstate NY where she lived year 'round.

In spite of horrific pain that not even morphine would control, she continued to make her plans from the couch: another article to be mailed, a story to be written (she was a writer). I hurt for her, mostly saddened to see what cancer had done to her body, and fearful of how much more time I would have with her, all the while not wanting her to suffer. The doctors could not explain how she held out in the past years as her condition was so frail and she was riddled with cancer in every organ and bone of her body. She simply wasn't ready to die, I reasoned.

Last week I tried calling her house numerous times and got no answer. I had a feeling, and kept trying. She had been in and out of the hospital and I assumed she was back in . . . . or worse. Finally the call came on Saturday, that she passed away the previous Friday - when I began calling her home.

Her family tried to find my phone number, knowing I would want to know, and that their mother wanted me to know. Just in time, we got the call that the memorial service was the following day. I sobbed only when we first sat down in the church. Once the service began, I felt a warm embrace from my friend, for she was still looking after those who loved her.

She loved music. She raised her children with music all around, and produced several talented musicians among them. Various family members played and sang just the right music, spoke the right words and prayers and later at the reception, showed photos from her life, set to music. Indeed, this was a fitting tribute and celebration of an amazing life, that we were all privileged to share.

So while I will miss her, I am grateful for being chosen to share in her life. She had enough love for a family with six siblings, six children, a dozen grandchildren and a great-granddaughter, to give some to her many friends. I am blessed to have been one of them.

So I say to my dear friend Joy, who was so appropriately named by her parents, be at rest now after your painful journey; embraced by the love of everyone you loved here on earth.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Possessions, Creativity and Clutter

All day, I was doing paperwork, cleaning up and cleaning out, moving "stuff," shining shoes (yes, I actually do shine my own shoes, with the old fashioned brushes and paste shoe polish), looking for a variety of misplaced objects. Seems to me I lost a whole day. I know things get misplaced when we straighten up and I know it's because there is too much in this house! For sure, I blame my husband for a lot of misplaced things. Like last month I asked where our mitre box and saw was. He couldn't find not the one, not the second, and not even the third set I know we own. He offered to go to Home Depot to get another one. I was nearly hysterical! Who needs 4 mitre box sets in one home?

I resent all the attention we need to give to our possessions. It seems to me that the more tools and gadgets we get to make our lives easier, the more work we have to do to; clean them, put them away, and worst of all, find them when we need them again. I swore some years ago that I would start downsizing. I was beginning to feel my "stuff" owned me, rather than the other way around, so I struck a bargain with myself. If something new came in, something old would have to go. If something needed special care, it was off the list. I was good for awhile, but being the pack rat of "things that will be good for a future art project," the stuff just kept piling in.

Who could resist the bargains at Goodwill or on closeout? What about all those interesting "found objects" (read: junk; garbage) that would look great in the next piece of art I want to create? I need things to carry things around in, containers to store things in, shelves to put them on . . . .  and on it goes!

Maybe for next year, I will resolve to use all the things I have in my studio before bringing in anything new materials. Yeah, maybe . . . . .

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Frustration comes in many different shapes and sizes. We are frustrated at times, with ourselves, spouses, friends, bosses or siblings. Frustration is born from a feeling of helplessness to "fix" a problem. Granted, when frustration comes from our own deeds, we have the chance to correct our own course. But what happens when it is because we see a loved one spiraling out of control?

I live with a man who is as good as gold. I'm frustrated that he won't take better care of his health. I've  cajoled him, begged him, pleaded with him, sent him articles - you name it, I've tried it. The kids have asked me to talk with him and I tell them to express their feelings directly to him since I don't have the power to make him change. They have, and it has done nothing to move this mountain.

I can't understand why he is not more concerned himself. He has enjoyed relatively good health in spite of careless treatment of his body - up to recently. As we age and systems break down, his will break down faster and he'll be more seriously impaired. Yes, this is one of my greatest frustrations, on a daily basis.

It hurts when someone you love doesn't care enough about himself to care for his body and mind. It hurts that I will watch his health decline, without being able to do anything about it - all the while resenting too, that my life will be impacted because of it.

What do you do when you feel frustration? How do you cope?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On Moderation

So you ate too much this Thanksgiving. Now you will enter the holiday season of massive shopping and gluttonous eating and drinking.

Have you considered the price you will pay? Maybe it is going into debt that you have to dig yourself out of, come January. Maybe it will require you to start a diet, or at least resolve to. Join a gym, go to the doctor?

Moderation has always been the sensible course, yet it is so hard in the face of the merriment all around us. Why not give yourself the gift that keeps on giving, this holiday season? Moderation is not deprivation. Eat, drink and be merry, but also be sensible. Today's overindulgence leads to tomorrow's regrets and the need for abstinence.

Resolve to enjoy the company, the spirit of the season, and what you eat, so you won't feel the need to deprive yourself later.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Message About Your Unique and Awesome Power

There was a passage spoken to the young, female character in Akeelah and the Bee that has moved me and many others. It has been quoted in other movies and in a speech by Nelson Mandela. It has often been incorrectly attributed. This was written by Marianne Williamson in her book "Return to Love." It stands on its own as a tremendous work of inspiration and I wish to share it with you.

Our Deepest Fear

by Marianne Williamson
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."


What are you grateful for?

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for. We often dwell on what we don't have. It's easy to do when the media surrounds us with what we should have; must have. If we don't have these things, we feel inadequate. What do we really need?

When my children were young, they would be inundated with commercials for the toys they had to have. Now that they are young men, they are bombarded with the same - grown up electronic toys; also must- haves.

When he was young, I told my son, "no, he could not have that toy." He replied by saying, "I'm tired of being poor." The blood nearly burst out of the veins in my head! I wanted to put him in the car and drive him to places where people really were poor, to give him some healthy perspective. Instead, I got a grip on my emotions and told him that in fact, he was so privileged. He had a nice home to live in, his own room, a computer, TV, pets, good food to eat, instruments to play, etc., etc. In addition, he had two responsible, working parents, who could provide more than he "needed," and much of what he wanted. How dare he be so selfish?

I told him maybe we should have an experiment. I would provide just what he needed and I felt was my moral obligation to provide him. That would include a bed in a heated home, meals and clothing. Everything else was not necessity, rather, they were gifts of abundance. He went to his room to consider it and came out with a straighter perspective. He didn't want to give up all the "extras." He understood that not everyone has all that he has.

Of course, kids forget and will at times feel entitled. I always need to remind them that they are privileged and that in fact, they should be giving back to those less fortunate. So far, I am pleased with the results. They still want their toys, but now they earn the money to buy them. They hold charity concerts, run a non profit, give blood. It's a start. . . . .

Why So Glum?

For many reasons, this time of year brings many and mixed emotions to so many people. Bad holiday memories? Losses in and around the holidays? Year end regrets? Whatever the reason, the holiday season is fraught with high intensity. Even those who are carefree stress over holiday preparations. Instead of this time being jolly and happy, it is far too often a time of difficulty.

When everyone around you seems happy, it only intensifies feelings of isolation. So how can you cope without seeming like Scrooge?

First, be good to yourself. You can acknowledge others' happiness without feeling you must comply with their feelings. Find your supports. You know who they are. Trusted friends or family.

Exercise, eat well. These things will also help you through tough times. Indulging in unhealthy habits will only make you feel worse. Guilt and unwanted weight lead you down that slippery slope where you feel like there is no return.

Write. You don't have to be an articulate maker of prose to express your feelings. The writing is for your eyes only, so let it out.

Have a good cry if you need it. If you find it difficult, rent a sad movie. Yes! The benefit of crying over something external still releases toxins through your tears.

Also, laugh. It bolsters the immune system and actually enhances your mood. With the winter bringing a dearth of first run TV, rent comic movies or old comedy shows.

Engage. There is danger in isolating yourself. Others, wrapped up in their holiday celebrations, may not notice your needs. Invite others to your home or arrange to meet with friends.

Soon enough, January will be here, with hope for a better year.

Friday, November 19, 2010

When Someone You Loves Becomes Ill

I got the news in an email. "Preparation for our meeting this weekend," she said. "I didn't want you to be caught by surprise." Surprised? No. Shocked, frightened, sad? Yes. My friend is healthy. She takes are of her body and mind. She has healthy relationships and has learned to balance her life with things other than work, like family and friendships. Her family has no history - how can she have cancer? Yes, I said it. The "C" word that is uttered in hushed whispers, lest it be contagious. It is only by the grace of God that she found out in a routine colonoscopy. An exam we all put off, saying we'll get around to it, but really hate doing. Some never do get around to it, at their peril.

She tells me her prognosis is good. She is just at the beginning, exploring her options. She has promised to let her friends support her; to let me support her. "There is no pain like powerlessness," a line from a Jon Gailmor song, comes to mind right now. I have asked her to let me help so I don't feel powerless.  I ask myself if my offer is for me or for her. It really doesn't matter, since she is willing to allow me to accompany her in her journey.

All I can do now is to be present. Let her tell me what she needs. For now, that will have to be enough.


We all fear it. No one wants to talk about it. Yet death is as certain as life and no one can escape its grip.

Some of us find comfort through faith; that there is something after death. Nirvana, heaven, another incarnation perhaps; yet no one really knows for sure. That's why we must make the most of the life we know is certain - here and now.

This time of year seems to exacerbate death. Some who are dying, hold on through a holiday; others die before it comes. Survivors experience profound loss at subsequent holidays, for many years to come. A wise therapist once told me that layering new memories on top of the sad ones helps you deal with that time of year, and to move forward. It doesn't mask the grief, but it brings a new perspective. One that celebrates the good memories of those we have lost, and associates the holidays with current, happier times in our lives.

I know this from experience. I lost a young husband the day before Thanksgiving. The time leading up to subsequent Thanksgivings was unbearable; even as I formed new, happy memories to associate with the holiday. By the third year, I realized I wasn't so tense and irritable all of November. While I took the time to reflect and remember, no longer was their a "death grip" on me all month.

Today, so many years later, I still remember, but now I look forward to Thanksgiving with my cousins, who are very close to me. Now, Thanksgiving is something I look forward to with happy anticipation, not dread.

Have patience with yourself. Build new memories while cherishing the old.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Power is sometimes perceived as a negative quality. Powerful people are often described as: intimidating, overbearing, forceful, aggressive or threatening, yet some powerful people create good in our world.

When power is used for ill, it is at best manipulative and at worst oppressive or evil. "Power over" creates a disequilibrium where one person is strong and the other weak. When power is channelled for good, everyone benefits. Consider some of the most powerful figures in history and forces for good, ie, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King. Use of power for evil (ie, Adolph Hitler) is a plague on humanity.

We all have the ability to influence others for good or evil purposes. How will you use your power?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


When is the last time you felt awe? If you've ever had a child, you have experienced it. If you've ever noticed the color of autumn leaves backlit by the setting sun, you would have felt awe at the miracle of nature. There are ample opportunities to feel awe, if we are paying attention.

The dictionary defines awe as, "a reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder." Used in religious references, awe sometimes leans toward the fear. I like to think we can choose to be filled with respect and wonder, whenever something moves us so deeply.

I feel fortunate to notice opportunities to experience awe. I find it most often in nature; in the fleeting moments before the sun goes down behind the horizon; when the moon rises on the horizon, seemingly too big to be the moon at all; when the sky is a steely gray before or after a rain, and objects against it look surreal; when a rainbow stretches across the sky from one end of the earth to the other, lasting only moments, maybe even seconds. I have also been in awe in the midst of sadness or tragedy. That's when the human spirit rises to be its best, reaching out in sisterhood to hold each other up.

Awe is the gift that reminds us of the depth with which we can feel things, in a way that touches our souls.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Giving and Receiving

Why is it seemingly easier for most of us to give, than to receive? Some of us are shy and humble, and don't like attention. Some don't feel worthy. Others feel it will upset the balance of power to be  "indebted" to someone for some kindness they may have shown you. Let me offer another perspective.

It is scientifically proven that giving makes you feel good. It takes your mind off things that may trouble you. It builds self-esteem and confidence. There is tremendous satisfaction in filling a need someone can't provide for herself.

Even if you are uncomfortable taking anything, realize that you are depriving someone of the pleasure of giving. Songwriter Jon Gailmor once said, "There is no pain like powerlessness." I knew exactly what he meant when so many years later, I felt powerless to save my husband's life when he was dying of cancer. The only thing I could hold onto, was to give whatever he would take, so I didn't feel so helpless.

The gift you receive keeps on circulating, and even grows. While you may not reciprocate the gift, the kindness will be banked by the universe and available when you need it. Or maybe it will just be passed on to someone else who needs it more than you do.

I never forgot the kindness of a man who came to my aid when I was assaulted and robbed. While living in New York City as a young woman, I was riding my bike on a beautiful spring afternoon, along the East River. Suddenly, in a deserted stretch, I was stopped by a junkie, who held a broken glass bottle to my neck while demanding my bike. I gave it to him and he fled. I crossed the highway and found myself in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Shaken and scared, a man approached me, asked me what happened, and offered me a ride to a pay phone (this was WAY before cellphones). He said I might be unsafe crossing the projects to get there on foot. "Should I trust him," I thought? I was already vulnerable, and he could be taking advantage of the situation. I unconsciously weighed my options and decided I was better off taking him up on his offer. He drove me to the phone and waited for me to reach my boyfriend, to come and get me. When it was apparent he wasn't coming, the man said, "Don't worry. Here is cab fare," and he hailed a taxi. When I got in and asked for his name and address so I could return the money, he said, "Just help someone else out some time," and he left. It was 35 years ago, and I will never forget him. I have honored his wish by paying it forward, as he requested.

Kindness is bankable. The universe provides to those who need comfort, someone willing to give it. And for those who give it, kindness will be there when it is needed.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

How often have you said (with good intention) that you would do something good for yourself? What percentage of the time didn't you follow through? What got in the way? And what message are you giving yourself when you don't make good on what you say?

We promise ourselves that we will exercise, stop smoking, eat better, stress less, etc., etc. We know what is good for ourselves yet we talk about making changes more often than we actually do make changes.

Something will always be there to provide a good excuse not to act. Too little time or money. Too many emergencies, laundry, family. Pick any excuse at all. They are only excuses that keep you from acting in your best interest.

If you love yourself and those who depend on you, you must begin to ACT, not only speak. When you nurture yourself, you have so much more to give to others.

So next time you get an urge to take better care of yourself, ACT on it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Follow Your Heart

We all replay old messages; those that tell us what we "should" do. Whose "shoulds" are you hearing? If they are those of your own conscience, go ahead and follow them. If they are outdated "shoulds" from parents, siblings, spouses, teachers or others, proceed with caution.

Acting on the values of others makes us disingenuous people. Eventually, our selves splinter. We become disenchanted, depressed, not "ourselves." When we integrate all the parts that make us unique, we are whole, content, and happy.

When you follow your heart, you become genuine. When you are whole, you have reserves to weather life's challenges, energy to give to others, and the ability to appreciate the love that comes your way.

Follow your heart.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Get in Shape: Mentally and Physically

We all know that our bodies and minds are linked. If your mental health is not good, your body will show it, and vice versa. So where do you start?  Can you identify what is troubling you? Are you hiding behind an unhealthy body because you don't feel good about yourself? You can change things one of 2 ways: Work on your attitude or work on your body. Changes in one will positively affect the other.

Start simply, start small. Change just one thing about your behavior and let it settle in. It takes several weeks to establish a new habit. When this habit is established, add another. Then add another. Before long, these changes will begin changing your body and mind and you will be getting healthier.

Remember the longest journey starts with the first step.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Coming Into One's Own

Our lives are made of many small experiences, good and bad. In each situation, we learn something about ourselves, others or how the world works. It shapes our future actions and behavior, but most importantly, builds our character and strength.

Whenever tested, we have choices to make. We may not have control over those things that happen to us, but we can always choose our course of action and our attitude. We can sink or swim, love or hate, start or stop. There is always a choice. Knowing this gives us more control over our lives.

We may sometimes err, but there is always the lesson. Sometimes we can correct the mistake; sometimes we need to live with the consequences. But in every situation, a seed of strength is sown. Something is changed, that enables us to move forward, knowing we will be OK.

Whenever you are challenged, recall that you have weathered other storms and that you will weather this one too.


Today is my birthday. I have always loved celebrating it. As a girl, I would be happy to be another year older; receiving more responsibilities and privileges. Although I no longer wish to rush my life, this day still brings the girlish excitement of feeling special for a day.

My husband went out of his way this year. He shopped for some of my favorite foods, bought the richest chocolate cake on this earth, invited dear friends to dine with us, prepared, cooked and cleaned up after the meal. I felt very pampered and special.

Celebrate your special day. If no one offers to make it special for you, do it for yourself. Indulge in a favorite pastime, cook yourself a glorious meal, or throw yourself a party. Invite your friends to be with you.

Celebrate the day you came into this world, for it would not be the same place if you were not in it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


If it were not for a sense of humor, many would not survive life's trials and tribulations. Pity the person who cannot recognize the insanity in the midst of normalcy. One only need watch an episode of "Seinfeld" to realize that life can be very funny. While the show exaggerates the ordinary, most of us find truth in many of the situations created by the characters.

Particularly when we are under stress, humor can be life affirming. Who hasn't experienced some "black humor" in the midst of a serious situation? Some may think this is irreverent, but I would suggest that this is one of the best coping mechanisms of the human psyche.

Laughter brings people together, it mitigates the tragic in life, and is healing. If you find yourself in a difficult place, try laughter. Watch a comedy show on TV or the internet. See how you feel after you watch it.  I can almost guarantee your step will be just a little lighter. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Give Your Children the Gift of Independence

I'm not talking about sending your toddler out on his own. I'm talking about giving your children increasing responsibility, followed by age-appropriate privileges.

Children who are overly sheltered face a rude awakening when they venture out on their own - and rest assured, they will some day venture out on their own, whether they are prepared or not. As parents, it is difficult to see our children hurt, disappointed or limited. With the exception of harmful situations, let them experience these feelings for themselves. They will discover their strengths and develop the coping mechanisms they will need when you are not there to shelter them from life.

Remember that challenges are opportunities to learn, grow and become stronger. Isn't this what you want for your children?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Do Something Different

This can be interpreted in two ways.

Do something different = break out of the box; be daring; get creative, try a new activity.

It can also mean stop doing the same thing if it causes the same (negative) results. Someone once said, "If you keep doing what you do you're gonna get what you got."

So, if it is not fruitful, STOP doing it - and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who Are Your Teachers?

Lessons come in many varieties and are found in many places. All are opportunities to grow. Reframe your "failures" as lessons. You have learned what did or did not work. The end of a relationship? Surely there were some nuggets of wisdom, pro or con, you gleaned from it. Lost a job? You have picked up valuable skills. Made a mistake? There is a lesson in there too. Look for the opportunities to turn "failures" into successful experiments and wisdom gained.

My motto has always been: "Learn something new every day." 
I do. 
Do you?

Monday, September 27, 2010

So, What is Synchronicity and Why Do You Need to Know About It?

Have you ever had a day when everything goes as planned; someone pulls out of a parking spot in a crowded lot just as you approach; you think about someone and she calls. Maybe you stopped to talk to a stranger in a bank line and learned in those few minutes that you had someone or something in common.

This is synchronicity.

It happens more often than you realize, but you're not always tuned into it. Life often robs you of the stillness needed to experience the here and now. When your mind is preoccupied with what has happened or what is going to happen, you can't possibly be present in the moment.

You need to slow down and attend to the present, to experience the opportunities that lie before you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Write Your Obituary

Sounds crazy, no? I suppose it does, but hear me out. There will be more questions in this post than answers, as the answers are yours alone.

What if you could accomplish everything you thought was important in your lifetime? How would you want to be remembered? What legacy do you want to leave?

Writing your obituary serves as your strategic life plan. Put on paper all the things that you would like said about your life. Was it a worthy one (in your judgement)? Have you done everything you want to do yet? Have you lived up to the reputation you wish to have? Is there old business to be cleaned up?

While writing your obituary seems strange and disconcerting, I promise you that doing it will lead you to live your life intentionally. Give it a try.

Friday, September 24, 2010

See Life's Challenges As Gifts

No challenge comes without a lesson (or two). It is often hard to find your reserve, when life is throwing curve balls your way. Stop and think: What is it this challenge is teaching me? What am I not facing that I need to face? Who should stay and who should leave my life?

Whatever the question, go inside and allow yourself to FEEL the struggle. Know that this, like other challenges in your life, will pass and leave behind a stronger foundation.

After facing numerous challenges and losses, of my health and my relationships, I am stronger. Each successive challenge became easier to bear, not because it was an easy one by any means. It was because I had inside me, the knowledge that I had survived those other tests, therefore I would survive the latest one too. When you allow yourself to be immersed in the sorrow, pain, loss, whatever ails you, you come out stronger. If you step around it, it will stay with you for so much longer.

Be brave: cry, scream, rant, rave, write, sing - do what you must to express your pain. On the other side is strength and fortitude that will help you through any other trials you may have. See it as a gift.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stop Judging Others

When we judge another, it positions us as superior. Is that what we really want? Do we want to set ourselves apart from others, in isolation from them? Or is it more rewarding to be inclusive?

We are raised with messages that support the separation of some people from those who are different. When when we learn to suspend judgement, we grow. We see the opportunity to make more of the whole than we can individually. Pay attention to the tapes. Whenever you find yourself judging any aspect of another person - just STOP - and think about meeting him or her where they are.

Find spirituality in individuals - their strengths, their challenges, their differences and the humanity you share.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Create Your Own Sanctuary

Do you have a space of your own that is sacred and inviolable? It can be a corner of a room, a "shrine," the garden - anywhere you can call your own. This is where you can dream, meditate, listen to music, feel the breeze or sun on your skin. This is a place of renewal, where you can think, and heal yourself. Make it comfortable with as few distractions as possible. And remember to go there on a regular basis!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thought for Today

Have some fun today.
Do it intentionally.
Find something that brings you joy and squeeze it into your busy day. It will make the rest of the day, including challenges, much easier.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Introduction to My New Blog

Before proceeding, I wish to alert you to my use of pronouns. It is cumbersome to use him/her or his/hers throughout a commentary, without distracting from the message. Since the commonly accepted genderless connotation is almost always the masculine, I will be uncommon and use the feminine version. I trust that I will offend no men reading this, just I have not been offended by the typical use of masculine, gender-neutral language. Some day, someone will create a satisfactory gender-neutral pronoun and make things less complicated!

What is spirituality?  Is it a thing, an experience, a way of living, a state of mind? Is it tangible, intangible, a leap of faith? Spirituality is often described as a connection to one’s inner self, to God, to another, or a fleeting experience. Spirituality takes many forms, since it is defined in such a personal way.

Spirituality is often identified with and defined by formalized religion. Practices and observances are followed to bring one closer to her God, or in the case of Eastern religions, to herself. The common theme among religious definitions of spirituality is integration; of one with various aspects of herself or of one with God.

Spirituality is intangible because it is not something you can see, feel, taste, hear, smell or touch. Yet, it is your senses that enable you to feel spiritual. Let’s look at some examples:

As you lift your voice in music, a mood is created that moves you. You may feel God’s presence, or you may feel calmed, energized, joyful, etc.  This very tangible “thing” called music, moves you to feel something that can be hard to define. Given the variety of music choices, the mood and degree of spirituality it incites will vary. If you have ever observed a Baptist church congregation in musical prayer, you would see some passionate engagement in a spiritual context.

Other practices such as meditation create quiet places so you can “listen” to your inner voice; commune, if you will, with your subconscious. It is in this quiet that you can really listen to the things that your conscious mind doesn’t allow you to hear.

Spirituality, however sought and attained, is the conduit for self-reflection, connection with a larger reality, and consideration of a universe bigger than oneself. It is often the source of inspiration, the way to find an elusive answer, a path to peace.

Even those who do not follow formal religion can experience spirituality by observing natural and common phenomenon: the colors in a sunset, the air after a spring rain, the steady sound of crickets on a cool evening, the feeling of a baby’s skin, the taste of food. Anyone who had ever moaned in ecstasy after tasting some delectable food knows exactly what I am talking about!

Nature and religious experiences provide ample opportunities to be inspired spiritually. Why don’t you share an experience Describe the situation and what you felt. Be as specific as you can. Try to make us experience what you did, on the occasion.