Monthly Archives: November 2013

Preparing for Holidays

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish each of you a peaceful and happy holiday.

At my age, I’ve learned to not ascribe too much meaning to holidays. That doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate, or that there isn’t meaning for me there, but rather that it’s just another day – and if I need to honor or celebrate the meaning behind the label, I can do that regardless of the day, or in a way other than is traditional.

I’ve also learned to prepare myself for holidays and other days when I will be with family members that push my buttons.  Even if I don’t have time for lots of quiet and meditation prior to a holiday, I can still do several “stopping meditations” throughout the days ahead.

A stopping meditation can be done anywhere at anytime, regardless of how busy we are.  It’s simply stopping whatever I am doing for just a moment and pay attention to one aspect of it for a few seconds out of the day, several times a day.  (I set my alarm on my cell phone to remind me).  It’s amazing how powerful those few seconds can be in calming and slowing my life down. It’s most powerful when used in conjunction with sitting meditation and/or walking meditation, where I deliberately take a walk, with the purpose of focusing on a specific experience.  But  when I don’t have the luxury of extra time, at least I know I can find serenity within the storm.

When I’ve been successful at slowing things down, I give myself more space to respond to people or events, rather that react impulsively.  I’ve found that when I’ve prepared in this way, even when a family member tries to get to me, I’m not as available for the fight. I have more capacity to make the choice not to involve myself.  (You can’t have a power struggle if both of you aren’t struggling!)  🙂 And, gratitude is much more accessible when I am in charge of the choices.

Regardless of how you do it, I hope you find peace, joy, freedom and gratitude wherever you are this week and in the weeks to come.

Namaste

Finding the Giving in Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches, most of us focus on the gratitude we feel for all that we have.  But today, my 4 year old granddaughter reminded me of a different aspect of the holiday.

Her Papa is a professional Santa, so this is a busy time of year for him.  Today (the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving), he had 2 gigs, so it was just us girls playing around the house.  After lunch, we bundled up and drove to the local Price Chopper to pick up a couple of items.  Jess always jumps into the carts that look like a truck and pretends to drive me around the store.  She has never been very shy, so she usually yells, “Beep, Beep!  Get outta the way!” at everyone we meet.

Today was no different.  She jumped into the “truck” and we began our trip into the store.  The flower shop is the first thing you see, and all the cut flower bouquets are at eye level for her, so of course she wanted some flowers. Finances have been pretty tight recently, so it felt a little frivolous at first, but I agreed to buy her a bouquet, on the condition she share.

Thus began our quest to give away flowers.  She chose one, very small bud that she wanted to keep for herself, and one by one, she gave flowers to other shoppers.  I can’t describe the elation I felt as I watched.  Occasionally someone would decline and tell her to keep the flower, but she had none of that!  She would follow them, tug on their coat and say, “No!  These are for you!”  As they accepted, she said, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

A couple of shoppers who weren’t fortunate enough to receive the flowers came up and told me what a wonderful lesson I was teaching her.  I nodded – I know it’s sappy, but I was getting choked up – because in reality SHE was showing ME how to give from the heart.

When we had given the last flower away, we got in line, paid for our items, and as we left, Jess turned around and said to the cashier, “Happy Thanksgiving!!”

Most of us have so much in our lives.  We get hung up on all the things we don’t have, or thinking we need more.  Changing our energy to one of abundance and giving helps us remember to be grateful for all that we do have!

I have a feeling I’ve started something.  But that’s OK!  I can’t think of a better way to brighten a trip to the grocery store!  Jessica and I challenge each of you to find the “giving” in Thanksgiving this year.

And have a Happy Thanks Giving!

 

Life is a Choice

It’s my belief that we are here on earth to have experiences that help us evolve.  The majority of those experiences are through our relationships.  So if we feel stuck or victimized in some or all of our relationships, we have to look at ourselves to understand why.   We’ve all heard “no one else can MAKE you angry.”  And I think most of us would agree with that intellectually.  But do we really understand it?

When we are angry about someone else’s behavior or feel their actions have caused us pain in some way, we are not really taking responsibility for our own feelings.  We are allowing other people, and events to dictate our environment.  Some would argue that we have a right to feel whatever we feel.  I agree.  Just be sure that while you’re feeling, acknowledge it as a choice you’re making.

Our emotions are not what our experiences generate, they are what generate our experiences (Neale Donald Walsh).   Our emotions are chosen.  We decide to feel a certain way about something or someone, based on our perspective about ourselves and our connection to that other thing or person.  Our perspective creates our perceptions, which in turn lead to our feelings.

This might be a bit confusing if this is the first time you’ve considered this angle to your life.  But if you ask yourself, “what is another way I can look at this situation?” and you’re truly able to come up with an alternative perception, you can follow the process through and see how you are making the decisions at every step.

For me, when I can look at life this way, it eliminates the victim mindset that someone is doing something to me.  It gives me freedom to feel, and more importantly BE what I want.  And what I want is to be free.

 

 

 

 

Mature Love

I can’t tell you how many people sit in my office and say, “I know I love ______, but I don’t know if I’m “in love” with him/her.”

I’ve never really known what “in love” meant. Most of us experience the passion and constant obsession of early infatuation. But for almost everyone I’ve known, that eventually wanes. Many interpret this as no longer loving that person, and for some, perhaps that’s the case. But some recognize that a more mature, tangible love can gradually take it’s place.

Dr. Henry Grayson says “falling in love” is a syndrome. The very words we use to describe it (falling head over heels, being swept away, I’m crazy about you) imply a feeling of powerlessness. It’s immature – and says “I love you because I need you.”

Mature love is not just emotion. It’s a consistent series of acts of kindness, compassion and respect; occasional passion; and most of all – loving thoughts. It’s our thoughts that lead to how we feel about something/someone and ultimately to how we behave.

Mature love is empowering and unconditional. It’s an active striving for the growth and happiness of the loved one. There are no conditions, expectations or bartering (which I call “keeping score”).

One very real example of mature love in my life was shown to me when our granddaughter was living with us.  I came down with a horrible case of the stomach flu in the middle of the night. It really took me down. I won’t go into the gory details, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty!

My husband came to my rescue and stayed with me, helping me clean things up, wash clothes & towels, and sanitize everything as much as we could to prevent him and our granddaughter from coming into contact with it if at all possible. He probably lost more sleep that night than I did, even though I told him on several occasions to let me do it.

I know others who cared for their loved ones at the end of their lives, when the person could literally do nothing to care for themselves. Again, it’s not pretty, and often it’s thankless.  That’s mature love. I strive to learn from my husband, and from these others, how to give unconditionally.

It’s easy to love someone when they’re clean, attractive and smell good. But real love shows up at these other times.

It’s All About Love . . .

I just ran across this amazing story and decided to share it here. It demonstrates without a doubt how we are ALL connected with loving energy – and the power that energy has for each of us, regardless of who/what we are. . .

Lawrence Anthony is a legend in South Africa, and the author of three books including the bestseller, The Elephant Whisperer. During his lifetime, Anthony bravely rescued wildlife and rehabilitated elephants all over the globe, saving them from human atrocities. For example, his courageous rescue mission at the Baghdad Zoo to protect animals was a counterpoint of light to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

As his obituary read . . . On March 7, 2012, Lawrence Anthony died. He is remembered and missed by his wife, two sons, two grandsons, and numerous elephants. Two days after Anthony’s passing, the wild elephants showed up at his home led by two large matriarchs. Separate wild herds arrived in droves to say goodbye to their beloved “man-friend”. Believe it or not, a total of 31 elephants had patiently walked over 112 miles to get to Anthony’s South African House.

Witnessing this spectacle, humans were obviously in awe not only because of the supreme intelligence and precise timing that these elephants sensed about Lawrence’s passing, but also because of the profound memory and emotion the beloved animals evoked in such an organized way, walking slowly, for days, making their way in a solemn one-by-one queue from their habitat to his house. Lawrence’s wife, Francoise, was especially touched, knowing that for well over three years, the elephants had not been to Anthony’s house before that day! But yet they knew where they were going, and what had happened.

The elephants obviously wanted to pay their deep respects, honoring their friend who had saved their lives. They held so much respect that they stayed for two days and two nights, without eating anything. Then, the next morning, they left, to begin making their long journey back home.