Archives

THE SOUL OF AMERICA

 

 

“In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet… Love is wise; hatred is foolish.”
                                                      ~  Bertrand Russell

 

Like millions of other people in America and around the world, I am deeply concerned not only about the direction, the health, and the safety of our country, I am concerned about its soul. Our soul.

How did meanness and bullying become acceptable? How did bravado come to be admired? How and why did fear, hate and disrespect erupt and spread like a disease among us?

I’ve heard the theories – perhaps you have too – that hidden dis-ease rising to the surface is a good thing.

Actually, it CAN be a good thing, but it IS NOT automatically a good thing. Continue reading

APPLYING THE HEALING POWER OF LOVE TO BREAST CANCER

Love And Tenderness Of Cats

 

“Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.”
~
Sai Baba

 

 

Love and healing are primary themes in my life now. They have been for many months, actually years. Whenever I see messages of fear and hate in the news – when I see reports of violence – what comes to the forefront for me are thoughts and quotes like “Love heals” from The Buddha.  

I’m focused on the healing power of love in a very personal way now too. And I wish to share the reason.

A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with cancer in both breasts. Fortunately the tumors are small and treatable.

Along with embracing traditional medicine, I am using many complementary approaches to balance, heal, renew, and strengthen my whole body. In part, that means loving and caring for every little cell, every organ, and every body system as well as looking deeper for what else is calling for healing in me now.

Along with good nutrition (the photo here is of me about to drink a double shot of wheat grass), positive visualization, prayer, meditation, etc., wheatgrass shot
I am bringing the powers of courage, faith, hope, joy
– all of life’s gifts, God’s gifts – to this new adventure.

For it is that too. An adventure. A challenge, yes. But also an adventure. An opportunity to explore and to heal deeply on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. To learn and grow too.

While I won’t be focusing on this personal healing adventure in many blogs, I will share a bit from time to time here and in Today’s Touchstone reflections.  I’ll offer insights and discoveries that I think you may wish to consider…things that may apply to anyone and everyone’s life journey.

I hope you will enjoy such sharings and benefit from them in some way. I would appreciate hearing if you do or do not. I always welcome your feedback.

In the meantime, I appreciate your caring and pouring out love to yourselves, to me, to one another, to all your beloveds  and to your-not-so-beloveds too.  May we all aim to heal all our wounds.

Thank you.

Kindly,
Charlene

SOUL TO SOUL

                     “Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” ~ George Eliot

​Using our gifts, let’s be that: true, loving human souls, blessed influences in the lives of others.

How? First, we aim to be authentic, courageously ourselves, centered in our loving essence. That itself will be a blessing to many.

SOUL TO SOULNext, have a “soul to soul” with at least one person today and every day. What’s a “soul to soul”? It’s like a “heart to heart.” Except, instead of having an actual heartfelt conversation with someone, you communicate “soul to soul.”

Visualize, with a caring feeling, that you are connecting and communicating with a particular person. Set ego aside and allow a wise and loving exchange to happen, “soul to soul.” Even if you don’t “hear” anything back from the other soul, which is often the case, just send a message of respect, acceptance, and encouragement. Or, you can simply say, with reverence,  Namaste or The Light in me honors the Light in you.

You can choose someone you easily talk with or someone who avoids close sharing and intimacy. You can even do this with an estranged family member or friend. Healing miracles can come from this practice.

May wisdom guide the way for each of us to become true loving souls and blessed influences in the world.

Toward peace,
Charlene

BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD

“Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

                                                                                          ~ Courtroom Oath Question      

A few days ago I wrote a touchstone that invited us all to be courageous and hopeful about beginning something for the first time or “yet again.”    

When I wrote that touchstone, I thought of many possible “somethings” I might approach with this fresh start intention, such as eating more greens and organizing my office, to name two simple ones.

But when I read that touchstone in my own email in-box, something deeper came up from the guiding voice within. Be impeccable with your word, I heard, which, as you may know, is the first of the four principles written about in the bestselling book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.   Continue reading

AN EXAMPLE OF STRENGTH AND COURAGE

In my previous post I presented the entire speech made by Principal Donna Hayward to the 2014 graduating class of Suffield High School in Suffield, CT.  While the whole commencement address is powerful, I want to highlight this extraordinary example of strength and courage. May the actions of Iqbal Masih and a group of Canadian 12-year-old children move us to use the gifts of strength and courage however we can, in ways large and small, day by day. Thank you again, Donna, for permission to share your words. 

“…This year, I also learned the story of a young boy named Iqbal Masih and his story illustrates how each of us can fight injustice in our own way in our own world.  Iqbal was a young Pakistani boy, who was sold into bondage by his parents at the age of four in order to pay off a debt of what amounted to about $16.  He worked for years, chained to a weaving loom, fashioning the tiny knots in Pakistani rugs with his small fingers.  Although he worked alongside dozens of other children with the same fate, somehow Iqbal felt inside himself a flame of injustice and rebelled against it at the age of ten by running away from his master.  When he did, he happened upon an activist in the village square, making a speech about how child slavery had been outlawed – a surprise to Iqbal – and the young boy told a police officer standing nearby that he, in fact, was a child slave.  He led the officer back to his master, anticipating justice.  Instead, the officer was bribed by the slave owner and left Iqbal behind – the boy facing a cruel punishment instead of the justice he sought.  But Iqbal had courage and strength and soon ran away again, this time finding the man who had given the speech in the village square.  He brought the activist back to his master, and this man couldn’t be bought or silenced so all the children in Iqbal’s factory were freed.  Iqbal joined the Bonded Labour Liberation Front and became famous because he continued his crusade, actually sneaking into other child-slave-shops, gaining the trust of the children and then triggering a raid on the outfit by the liberation group, freeing over 3,000 children in all.  Eventually, he visited other countries, including the U.S., to tell his story and advocate for justice in ending childhood slavery.  Ultimately, however, Iqbal was murdered when he returned to Pakistan to visit his family.  He was only 12 years old. Continue reading

HOPE FOR ALL AGES AND STAGES OF LIFE

 A week ago, Suffield High School Principal Donna Hayward in Suffield, Connecticut delivered a commencement address that was inspired by The Twelve Gifts of Birth.  I’m sharing it here because I believe Ms. Hayward’s message of hope and courage is for all of us. Thank you, Donna, for permission to post your speech along with your photo. I hope to meet you someday, new friend!  And thank you, dear reader. As always, I would love to hear your comments.  

Donna HaywardClass of 2014, you are just minutes from receiving your high school diploma. Your parents are wondering how you got here so fast, as it seems such a short time ago that you were born. Just a few years ago, you took your first steps, spoke your first words, got on the school bus kindergarten bound, learned to ride a bike. This is a natural time for your parents to reflect on the last 18 or so years and for us, your teachers, to reflect on whatever role we have played in your upbringing. As it turns out, teaching and parenting are closely related.

When my daughter was born, we received the usual tidal wave of gifts – blankets, cute little outfits, and baby gear of all kinds. One gift, in particular, though stood out as it arrived without a note or tag from the sender to indicate who had given it. One day, it simply arrived in my mailbox – its message clear – but to this day I don’t know who sent it. It was a book entitled, The Twelve Gifts of Birth, by Charlene Costanzo and it details the gifts or qualities bestowed upon each of you upon your birth as a human. “Royal dignity was yours from the day you were born,” the book begins – and on that day and on a day such as this all parents and teachers hope their children know these gifts. My role today is to remind you that you do all have them and to implore you to use them consciously and with purpose from this day forward.

The first gift is Hope and each of you were born with it. Continue reading

COURAGE IS ONE STEP FORWARD

“Courage is one step ahead of fear.” ~ Coleman Young
Bridge through Jumble Jungle  

When I first came upon this quote, I questioned it. It seemed to me that fear often comes before courage. Is this the case for you too? But then I saw the quote differently and had a shift in understanding. Yes, I may encounter fear first, but courage is ahead, leading the way.

So, fear not what’s ahead, around the corner, where you cannot yet see. Take a step, then another, into courage, with courage. It’s not only out there, one step ahead, but you have it in you, along with many other gifts, including one the world needs you to give. 

Let courage lead the way for you to be fully you and to realize your highest and dearest dreams. 

 

THE STRENGTH THAT IS IN US, THE GIFT THAT IS LIFE

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing this photo of a tree growing in the gutter.

 

Tree Growing in GutterIt is a visual touchstone for

the strength that is in us,

the strength that is life,

the beauty that is in us,

the beauty that is life,

the courage that is in us,

the courage that is life,

the hope that is in us,

the hope that is life,

the gifts that are in us,

the gift that is life.

 

A COURAGE TOUCHSTONE FOR ENCOURAGING YOUR DREAMS



Courage Art by Krista“You’re nuts.”
Has anyone ever told you that?

 

That’s what a bookbinder said when I described my vision for producing The Twelve Gifts of Birth book. After listening to how I wanted to bring my manuscript into the world with full-color illustrations, high-quality paper, a hard cover, and a die-cut that would offer a “peak-through” from one page to the next, he first said nothing. He just fanned through the pages of my primitive, hand-made “mock-up” and shook his head.

 

“You’re nuts, lady,” he then said. “There is no way you can do this. Your book will have to retail for at least, oh $40. Maybe $45. And no one is going to pay that much for this little gift book!”

 

The business owner went on to advise me to cut back on the features I wanted and to scale back my vision, way back.

 

“You might want to… not produce this book at all,” he said. “It’s pretty simple, not much text here. I hate to discourage you, but I think this project might be a waste of money.”  

 

I could hardly leave the premises fast enough. And yet I could barely walk, due to the way my knees were shaking.  My hands were shaking too. My whole body was trembling, in fact, with shock, hurt, fear, disappointment, confusion.

 

Just as I got into my car and pulled the door shut, the light sprinkling of rain I had driven through on the way to that meeting burst into a heavy downpour. While rivulets of water streamed down the front window and around my car, tears flowed down my cheeks. Not trusting myself to drive with poor visibility due to the conditions both outside and inside my car, I sat in the parking lot and waited for the storm to pass.

 

Am I nuts? I thought. I questioned the feasibility of my dream and my visions for it. And, as I did, the “weather” within me matched the weather outside, dark and dreary.

 

And then, out of the blue, an image of a humble, yellow building appeared in my mind. I recognized it as one of the laboratories where Thomas Edison had conducted experiments. The historic structure was not far from my childhood home in New Jersey.  During my teen years, I had driven by it many times. It always seemed to call for my attention. Often, when I passed it, I wondered about the actual day-to-day work that had been done there. What discoveries had been made? What failed attempts had happened there? What disappointments and frustrations had been experienced?

 

And, with the image of that little lab in mind, I wondered how many people had said “Your nuts!” to Thomas Edison in some shape or form.

 

I reminded myself that my meeting with the bookbinder was simply an exploratory step on my publishing journey. I did not yet know the exact steps I needed to take to make my dream a reality. However, I felt certain that small steps would eventually bring me to my goal, even if some of those steps seemed to be missteps. Clearly, having my books bound at that business was not going to be part of my publishing plan. That was actually a good thing to know. That was a gain I had made that day.

 

The best gain, however, was being filled again with courage, even more courage than I had previously felt. I resolved that day, even if I heard again and again that I was “nuts” or “unrealistic,” I would continue to take steps toward my dream. With renewed and deepened courage, I felt certain I would reach my goal, just as Thomas Edison eventually found the right filament to create the electric light bulb.

 

Fifteen years after my exploratory visit with that bookbinder, The Twelve Gifts of Birth and subsequent series is approaching one million books beautifully made, reasonably priced, and sold successfully. It turns out: there was a way. The idea was do-able.

 

How are you feeling about your dream? Have you ever gotten to the point where it looks impossible?

 

Consider what Thomas Edison said: “Nearly every person who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it seems impossible, and then gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”

 

He also said, “If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” And, “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”

 

Might Thomas Edison–his example and his words–be a courage touchstone for you too?

 

Blessings for all your dreams. May you be deeply en-couraged!

PRACTICING SELF COMPASSION: AN APPROACH TO CONSIDER

CompassionDo past regrets and feelings of embarrassment sometimes pop up in your thoughts and emotions? Do you ever look back and “kick yourself” for something you did that you judge as “stupid”?

 

Instead of being stuck in hurt and more judging, such moments can be seen as opportunities for healing.

 

Being human, we’ve probably all got some yet-to-be-resolved issues “stuck,” in our consciousness and in our bodies. When they bubble up from their storage places, it can be a good thing because, when they do, we can free ourselves of some negative energy. We can also grow in compassion and wisdom.

 

How? Here’s one approach that I’ve found to be helpful.

 

When any old judgments come up, Continue reading