“I find that the very things that I get criticized for, which is usually being different and just doing my own thing and just being original, is the very thing that’s making me successful.” – Shania Twain
It takes courage to be ourselves. Self-love and respect too.
Along with a likelihood of leading us to success, being authentic can lead us to better health and more happiness.
For these and other reasons, let’s summon courage, love and reverence today and allow our true selves to show up in all that we do. Let’s encourage authenticity in others too.
Surely there will be greater hope for peace in our world when we recognize the beauty of everyone’s uniqueness.
Holding hope and faith,
“We must care for each other more, and tax each other less.” – Bill Archer
Although it’s posted on April 15, this reflection is not about paying income tax. Consider that the word “taxing” also means exacting, onerous, rigorous, challenging, demanding, and tough.
To what extent are you exacting about how things must be done? Do you often demand more and more of yourself and others? Are you a perfectionist? Do you have trouble saying “No” to any requests for your help. Do you celebrate projects completed and rest a bit before the next one? Or do you jump right in without a break?
Might you be “over-taxing” yourself and others with regard to accomplishments, affection, attention, anything?
If the answer is “Yes,” please refrain from judging yourself harshly. Avoid taxing yourself further with guilty thoughts and feelings and negative energy to carry.
We’re all learning how to maintain balance among all our needs, responsibilities, desires, and dreams.
This “tip” begins with mindfulness and calls for daily doses love and compassion. For our own well-being and for greater peace among us, let’s care more and tax less. Let’s be kind.
With love and compassion,
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt
“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you.” – Soledad O’Brien
“If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
FEAR. We all experience it. Whatever the cause, fear limits our ability to face the challenge and address the issue. So it’s wise to release fear. Not resist it, deny it, or stifle it, but let it be and then let it go. Here’s a simple tool you may wish to try the next time you feel fear for any reason. All you need is an ice cube, something to hold it – I like to use a clear custard cup – just a few minutes of your time, and sincere intention.
ICE CUBE RITUAL
Upon waking or before you begin your work day, remove an ice cube from your freezer and place it in a cup, saucer, or bowl. Set the container in a place where it will remain undisturbed.
See the ice cube as representing fear, your own fear in all the ways it shows up, as well as fear in the world. You may wish to use a cube for each fear you identify. Silently or out loud say, “This represents fear. I am willing to allow my feelings of fear to soften and melt away today.” Go about your day.
Later in the day, bring your attention again to the container. Notice the water now in the liquid state. See it as representing fear transformed. In your own way, bless the water. Use this water to nourish a plant in your home. Or, go outdoors and pour it onto a place where, symbolizing your intention of contributing to healing on Earth, this modicum of water can nourish some living thing.
Of course, it is not always this easy. But sometimes it is. And nearly always it is at least a start. I learned this when I faced a life-threatening illness. Since you may appreciate the story behind my Ice Cube Ritual, I am sharing it here.
In September of 2000, I was diagnosed with a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for which present-day medicine says there is no cure. When I learned that cancer cells were growing in lymph nodes in my throat and abdomen and in my bone marrow, I felt as if I had been spun around and punched in the stomach. For several days I could digest only small bits of medical information at a time. I glanced at diagrams of mutant lymph cells then quickly looked away. Like most cancer patients, I experienced many emotions. At first I felt frozen with fear. I mourned the lost health I had taken for granted. Then I became determined to heal.
The metaphor of waging war with cancer is useful for some patients, but I did not want to hold a violent attitude toward my body nor hate any part of it. I didn’t want to fight cancer, but without a doubt I was determined to release it from my system.
I sensed that my cancer diagnosis was a call to love my whole self more and to better appreciate the trillions of healthy cells that were living in harmony with one another. Along with treatments with a biologic agent (Rituxan) and standard chemotherapy (CHOP), I used many complementary therapies, including meditation and visualization, which relaxed and empowered me. I drank large quantities of purified water; ate nutritiously; and further nourished my cells with music, aromatherapy, and therapeutic touch. I prayed, watched funny movies and read spiritual stories. During that time, I was also inspired to write a fable. It became The Twelve Gifts for Healing, a story about an ailing woman who journeys to seek healing wisdom from a wise woman named Mater. Like those women, everyday I recited twelve specific blessings for myself and all others. One of them was “May you allow fear to soften and melt away.” I was inspired to act out the intention by witnessing the simple, inevitable melting of an ice cube at room temperature.
So I went to my kitchen, opened the freezer and removed one ice cube. For a moment I cradled it in the palm of my hand. I let it rest there and noticed the chill on my skin. Gently, I placed it in a saucer and centered it on the table. Later I returned to see and appreciate the ice cube’s transformation to water.
Hundreds of times since then, I have repeated this ritual, whenever fear shows up about cancer or a situation in my family or global warming or tension in the world or anything at all. You may wish to try this ritual yourself whenever you feel fear about health, relationships, finances – anything in your personal world or in the world at large.
In September 2001, after the completion of chemotherapy, CT scans and a bone marrow biopsy revealed no evidence of cancer.
I would not have consciously chosen cancer as a teacher, but I appreciate the valuable lessons it offered.
I guess I needed to learn more because I faced cancer again in another form. In May of 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Both cancer adventures led me to look deeper into many things, especially about nurturing and using our inherent gifts of strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, talent, imagination, reverence, wisdom, love and faith for healing. I discovered a lot but there’s so much more for me to learn, for all of us I think, about the inner resources we all have.
One of my favorite quotes conveys a sense of what’s possible when we begin to realize these gifts:
“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Seeing things from a different point of view can help us understand why other people act the way they do.” ~ Sean Covey
I’ve been thinking a lot about how we would all benefit if we strengthened our willingness and ability to “see differently.”
“Do you see what I see?” The Little Drummer Boy lyrics go. “Do you hear what I hear?”
The thing is: We don’t ever see and hear exactly like someone else does. We come close in some cases. Or, we seem to because our opinions match.
I have posted on the topic several times because, instead of lamenting about growing divisiveness, we can proactively work toward building greater understanding, respect, cooperation and peace among us.
Let’s practice this in a light, fun way today. At least three times – or as often as you wish – change your physical position with someone. Exchange seats at the dinner table, on a sofa, standing and talking, in a car – get the idea?
Notice how you literally “see differently” with your eyes.
Wishing us new ah-has,
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you find yourself feeling impatient today, think of trees growing, rocks eroding, caves and canyons forming.
How do you typically react when you’re stuck behind a car traveling under the speed limit or in an already-long checkout line when the cashier calls for the manager? Instead of tensing your muscles – if that’s what you do – bring to mind a flower blooming. Make that century plant!
Perhaps you’re impatiently frustrated with yourself. If you feel behind in realizing your dreams, take a deep breath and remember: we are a part of Mother Nature too.
For greater peace, health and happiness, let’s gently and kindly get in her flow.
With compassion for ourselves and all,
PS – I’m not saying we should literally move as slowly as these examples! Just let images from nature help you to shift into a peaceful,
patient pace. Making a literal comparison of a checkout line moving at the rate of a century plant blooming might tickle your funny bone though. And laughter can move us to a healthier pace and “place” too! Wishing you peace, patience, and joy. Hope and faith too.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
~ John Lubbock
Happy first day of summer – or winter, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.
While today’s quote is set in summer, the message can apply to all seasons.
How often are you “idle” in a completely restful way in which you are actively noticing and appreciating beauty? When are you truly “at ease”?
Resting under a tree, listening to a brook babbling or ocean waves breaking, watching clouds, listening to the hum of nature – such experiences nurture our sense of wonder and gift of reverence. They foster well-being and help us heal.
Rest feeds our creativity too. If not the best summer activity, rest is certainly one of them.
For health, happiness, peace, well-being,
creativity and more, let’s elevate our regard
for rest by experiencing it often this season.
Yesterday, after attending a Memorial Day ceremony in our community, my thoughts expanded to a private commemoration in my heart. It was a reminiscing and missing of all my family members who have died.
My grandmother stood out among them.
When I saw this quote from Abraham Lincoln about his mother’s prayers, I saw a connection of three pieces.
The first piece was that a portion of Lincoln’s Address at Gettysburg was cited at the service. Hearing Lincoln’s famous words lifted me to hope that our ideals of equality, freedom, and the power of We The People will not be lost and that our sense of unity will be restored.
The second piece was the prominence of my grandmother in my private remembrance.
The third piece connected the first two. When I happened upon Lincoln’s quote about his mother, I felt a kinship with him. My grandmother’s prayers affect me to this day.
When I was a young child, my Grandma Gorda told me how she prayed every day for me and for all our family here in America.
She also prayed for all our family back in the old country, which was Czechoslovakia at the time. She knew of just a few specific people there. But she also knew that families grow and that we are connected even if we are far apart, even if we don’t even meet.
She prayed for all family members here and there, all the living, all who would come into the world, and all who departed. Then she prayed for the whole world and for peace.
Without being able to describe it back then, my grandmother gave me a expanded sense of time and how we are all connected.
Not only am I affected by her because I now pray in a similar way. But I feel as if her timeless, endless prayers touch me every day. I feel as if her loving prayers reach my own grandchildren and that they will go on to reach theirs.
May loving prayers be touching all of your family too.
May we someday soon see that we are one human family, one with nature too, and live together in peace.
May we live this day as if it is so.
With love, kindness, and reverence,
“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.”
~ Dr. Seuss
Everything has the potential to be funny. Even cancer. You may remember Gilda Radner and her book, It’s Always Something. Gilda was great at finding the funny.
When facing cancer – or any illness or life challenge – it helps a lot to tap into our inner strength, to hold hope, and to find the funny. Reba McEntire said it well:
“To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.”
When I shared the news of my breast cancer diagnosis with you last May, I wrote seriously, with backbone strength and wishbone hope about the healing power of love.
I’d like to give my funny bone a try today. With joy, here’s my story continued:
So, with relative grace and ease I had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
During the weeks leading up to surgery, I joked a bit about the silver lining. You know me, always looking for uplifts – uplifting thoughts, uplifting feelings. Without having to pay for elective surgery, I was going to end up with a body “uplift!”
Yes, focusing on the positive, I looked forward to having a younger-looking, more perky chest. And I got it. There were other benefits. I could wear tank tops and skinny-strap sundresses without a bra.
Well, one day about a month ago, I noticed that the left side was way perkier on the top than the right. A closer look showed that the “natural slope” of the implant on the left was upside down. Somehow, it had spun around.
When I learned that happens sometimes if the cavity is a bit large for the implant used, I figured, kind of like “what goes up must come down” that “what spun could spin again.” And maybe I could help it.
So that’s what I did. Or tried. And I did get it to turn. But it got stuck half way. So then I had a whole new look, with the “natural slope” going sideways!
The good news is that, somehow during sleep, the implant found its way into proper positioning.
The bad news is that, after swimming, it had spun again into the upside-down position.
But more good news! If I swam some more, it could spin some more.
So now, when I’m done swimming, I check to see…
Even perkiness? Yes? I grab my towel.
No? Back in for another lap or two or whatever it takes.
Hey, I just might get in better shape!
You know the song, “I Hope You Dance”?
I hope you do. And laugh, too!
Today and every day.
With hope, love, and laughter,
PS – I’ve posted a picture of the younger me, when everything was perkier!
“After a long, lonesome and scary time…
the people listened and began to hear…
And to see God in one another…
and in the beauty of all the Earth.
Old Turtle smiled.
And so did God.”
~ Douglas Wood
Are you familiar with the book, Old Turtle?
I thought of it when I saw sea turtles at Caneel Bay on the island of St. John and when I wrote the previous message.
Here’s the essence of that story.
There was time before humans when all creation could speak and understand one another.
One day the breezes, the stones, the mountains, the fish, the stars, the ants, the antelopes,the trees, the islands, the sun, the waters…everything….started describing God. And they began to argue.
“She is a hunter, roared the lion.
“God is gentle,” chirped the robin.
“He is powerful,” growled the bear.
The arguments grew louder and fiercer.
Finally, Old Turtle spoke.
She said that God is all that they described and more.
“God is indeed deep,
she said to the fish in the sea;
and much higher than high,
she told the mountains.
He is swift and free as the wind,
and still and solid as a great rock,
she said to the breezes and stones…
God is all that we dream of,
and all that we seek,
all that we come from
and all that we find.
The message is already powerful.
But there’s more.
It’s about the coming of people.
“They will be strong yet tender,
a message of love from God to the Earth,
and a prayer from the earth back to God…
But the people forgot…
they were a message of love
and a prayer from the earth.
They began to argue…
and hurt one another…
And they hurt the earth…
…even the forests
began to die…”
At that crisis time,
all the creatures began to speak
to the people from their ancient wisdom.
“After a long, lonesome and scary time…
the people listened and began to hear…”
May we soon get better
how we all see differently.
May we revere the earth
and all creatures too.
And see God in one another
and in the beauty of the earth.
Imagine if we each did that.
Seeing it so,