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GLIMPSING HEAVEN

Sun on the Sea

 

“Tears are often the telescope by which men see far into heaven.”
                                                   ~ Henry Ward Beecher

 

Through tears, I’ve glimpsed into heavenly places the past few weeks.

A kindergarten classmate of my grandchildren died the day after Christmas after showing slight signs of illness on Christmas Eve.  A serious, mysterious decline happened so fast.

Since then I’ve been experiencing how shock and grief can lead to seeing what is hidden behind the clouds of everyday consciousness….that human life is awesome, wondrous, and precious, which seems to me is a glimpse of heaven. I’ve also experienced how shuddering with sorrowful tears can shake and break a heart in a way that opens it to a flood of heavenly love and compassion.

May we not be afraid of tears. They can lead us to healings and learnings as well as to awakenings and glimpses of heaven. I’ve also heard that tears are a sign of Spirit moving through us.

Whatever life brings for us each day, may we cherish it and live it well, with wonderment, reverence, gratitude, and joy.                                                                                                    Gratitude, Joy, and Zest for Life


“It’s only when we truly know and understand

that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have
no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”                              
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

Girl jumps to the New Year 2016

 

“The old year is put to bed, one’s business is finished, and the harvest of spiritual maturity is reaped as wisdom and forgiveness.”  ~ Joan Borysenko

May we end 2015 with a sense of completion and gratitude for learnings.

May we look to 2016 with a sense of promise, with hope, and with a readiness to heal, learn, and grow further in love, in wisdom, in kindness.

And may we listen with care to the callings in our hearts. How are we to contribute our time and talent in ways that contribute to a better world and bring joy to us?

Wishing you great leaps forward,
Charlene

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

TOWARD A COMPLAINT FREE WORLD

Like my friend Kathy, I’ve given up complaining for Lent. We’re both finding it harder than the fasting from chocolate we did as children. Not that we now want to complain more than we wanted chocolate as kids, it’s just that complaints have a way of slipping out. That’s one of the reasons we’re aiming to abstain. It helps us become aware of how often we whine, and becoming aware is the first step toward change.

 

A Complaint Free World BraceletHave you ever heard of the Complaint Free World project? In 2006, a man named Will Bowen challenged fellow church members to give up complaining for 21 days straight. His idea caught on and spread throughout the world. Since the project started, more than 10 million people have received the purple bracelet that is used as a tool in the project.

 

Here’s a related idea: What if, besides working toward a complaint-free world, we create a compliment-rich world?  Continue reading

I LOVE YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE

  kids for blog“I love you when you’re happy. I love you when your sad. I love your when your silly. I love you when your mad. I love you when your grumpy. I love you when your glad. I love you all the time. I love you just the way you are.”

                                            ~ C. C.      

Who is C. C.? Me. These are the words of a song I made up to sing to my grandchildren. When I do, they always smile or giggle and take in the loving like little flowers opening to the sun. And they ask for “more.” More ways that they can “be” and be completely loved. Like when they are scared, surprised, goofy, stinky, burpy…etc. They are three years old, by the way; so, in addition to being loved unconditionally, they love silliness.

Today I realized that I could sing this song to myself.

Sometimes I need to sing or, at least, say words like this to me. I need to truly let myself know that I am lovable and loved just the way I am, in the midst of anger, frustration, exasperation, sadness, feeling not good enough…

Do you love yourself when you’re feeling frazzled? Angry? Sad? Worried? All the time, no matter what? Or do you tend to love yourself only when you’re feeling great?

I think we can all benefit every time we pause and give ourselves a dose of unconditional love… when we love ourselves the way we love a small child… the way I love my twin grandchildren.

You can’t hear me but right now I’m singing this song to you.

May we love ourselves through thick and thin and all the ups and downs today.

May we aim to do this everyday.  

MAY YOUR INNER SPARKLING SPACIOUSNESS SHINE!

One of the things I loved about Christmas when I was a child was gazing into the shiny balls on our decorated tree and feeling as if I had entered a magical place.

When I looked into those fragile spheres, I saw my home transformed. The curvature of the ornaments reflected rooms much larger than they actually were and created an effect that was both sparkly and soft.

So, instead of seeing our small living room and dining room, I saw rooms that were spacious and gracious, peaceful and palatial. I loved going from color to color and experiencing the palace of my home as golden, then silver, then red because each color stirred a slightly different wondrous feeling, kind of like love, hope, and joy.

Looking back, I can see now that I HAD entered a magical place, a mystical place.

The outer palace I saw was a reflection of the inner sparkling spaciousness that dwells in the heart of every child.

Remember how you felt as a child, when outer wonderment resonated with the wonderment in you?

No matter what age we are now, we’ve all got that place within us.

During this busy season, may we take time to enter the “Inner Palace.”

May we be renewed in the gifts of love, hope, and joy.

And, may our inner sparkling spaciousness shine in the world and be reflected back to us.

BE ALL IN

Emily (pianist) and Charlene


Last Friday night, between my second and third flights, during twelve hours of traveling from California to Florida, I stopped to sing in the main concourse at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, NC.

 

I almost passed by. The moving sidewalk had carried me through the main concourse, passed someone playing a piano, and brought me to the entrance of the terminal for my gate. There, something nudged at my heart and urged me to go back to the piano area instead of going forward, directly to the gate.   Continue reading

DO YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE TALENT?

Talent Tree

Many of us hold a limited and limiting definition of talent, believing talent to mean special skill in art, athletics and academics. This narrow understanding can restrict learning ability, performance, and happiness in all aspects of life.

 

During 1999-2000, I visited classrooms in a variety of school settings throughout America, where I read my book, The Twelve Gifts of Birth. I then engaged the children in discussion about their inner resources of strength, compassion, beauty, and other human capacities, including the gift of talent.

 

Everywhere I went, I asked children to tell me about their gift of talent. In every classroom, hands shot up, and I got answers like, “I can draw.  I can sing. I’m good at baseball. I’m good at swimming. I’m good at math. I’m good at spelling.”

 

In nearly every classroom, there were a few students who hesitated to name a talent or did not did claim one at all.

 

Next, I asked, “What do you love to do? What makes you happy?”

 

Then, every child showed eagerness and enthusiasm. And, I heard answers like, “I’m good at taking care of my baby brother; I can make people laugh; I’m good at putting puzzles together; I like to look at the stars; I know sign language; I love my dog; I can twirl my tongue; I can put my legs behind my head!”

 

These answers demonstrate that, by approaching talent in a broader way and asking about likes and abilities, children readily begin to see the notion of talent in a broader way and they see themselves as “talented,” which usually leads to an increased sense of value, self-worth, and potential for learning.

 

Whenever I lead this expanded activity, I observe what appears to be heightened happiness and a greater sense of respect for self and others.

 

So, I’m suggesting three ideas to help expand the limited, common view of talent that is prevalent in our culture:

 

1.  Let’s start using a new word: Talentry.  The word talent is well established as primarily related to the 3 A’s… academics, athletics, and the arts. It is probably easier to use a new word than to try to expand the meaning of an existing one. Talentry could be that word, meaning “the mix of abilities and interests that exist in any and every human’s makeup.”

 

2. I invite you to make a Talent Tree. Start with a blank “Talent Tree” for yourself and one for each person doing this activity, if you are doing this with others. You can draw your own trees with a simple trunk and straight lines for branches. Use the one provided here as an example. The idea is to fill in the branches, one-by-one, with aspects of a person’s own, unique talentry. Brainstorm. What comes easy? What brings joy? What do you love to do? What do you care about? These are the clues for aspects of one’s talentry. Note everything that comes up. Have fun with this. The purpose is to expand appreciation of all our traits, not judge anything as “unimportant.” Nothing is too small in this quest. The sample “Talent Tree” in process here is meant to be a guide.

 

3. Fill in as many branches as you can. Then, be on the look-out.  Make it a game. Continue to add all those seemingly small qualities and interests to your Talent Tree.

 

I believe that when we all get this expanded view of talent … when we see that every person has and IS a unique expression of talentry … we will all begin to experience more reverence and joy in our hearts as well as greater success in the world.

 

CULTIVATING JOY: HERE’S ONE WAY

White Ducks Behind FL HouseEven during sad times, joy is always present in us. No matter what is happening in our lives, we can tap into joy and be nourished by it.

One way to access joy is to watch for little, inner uplifts each day. Even teeny tiny stirrings in the heart are a sign of the presence of joy. Paying attention and noticing subtle uplifts can lead to gratitude which opens the flow of joy from a trickle to a stream.

Notice at least one (seemingly) small uplift today. You may even find yourself filled with delight! Six white ducks showing up among the mallards did that for me.

Wishing you a day of sweet surprises and discoveries. May you en-JOY them!