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A LESSON FROM FIVE BLINDFOLDED MEN AND AN ELEPHANT

Baby Elephant Running

 

 

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” ~ Harper Lee

 

 

 

Remember the story about the blindfolded men and an elephant? If not, here’s the gist of it:

Five men examine an elephant by touch. They are trying to determine what it is. But each man is blindfolded.  And each feels only one part: a leg, a side, a tusk, the trunk, and the tail. When each declares what is before him, they begin to argue vehemently, each believing he is “right.”

In a sense, they are all “right” because each is describing his own experience and what he is able to perceive from his limited encounter with the elephant. From another perspective, however, none are right because they are far from understanding the whole, or what an elephant truly is.

Like all good parable stories, this one offers wisdom.

May we remember that, even with our eyes wide open, Elephant Family
none of us has full understanding about elephants
or about anything.
With that wisdom, let’s share our views
and listen to one another with curiosity and respect.
Love and compassion too.

Toward peace,
Charlene

PS – One way to better understand one another when we disagree is to say: “Please tell me your story. I want to understand how you see things and how you have come to hold that opinion.” Or, something to that effect in your own words.

 

GRATEFUL TO BE

facing the sea

 

 

 

“I’m grateful to be in this world.”
~ Alexis Giordano

 

Who is Alexis Giordano? My 5-year-old granddaughter. She said this at the dinner table during a recent family reunion.

 

After praying, “God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food,” we each took a turn asking for a blessing or expressing a gratitude.

 

Alexis’ addition surprised us all and left us silent for a moment. This morning, as I recall what she said and how she said it, I am again a bit stunned and stirred.

How often am I grateful simply to be in this world? Simply to be?

How often are you?
How are you feeling about being in this world today?

Along with the words of a 5-year-old child, let’s be stirred by a portion of the often-quoted poem, Desiderata:

“…whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

With peace in our souls, may we be grateful to be in this world.

(God bless all the animals in the world too…as twin brother Anthony added.)

 

THE POWER OF HMMM

Eye to Eye - Heart to Heart

 

 

“It’s not so much knowing when to speak, but when to pause.”

~ Jack Benny

 

Hmmm. There’s wisdom and power in that.

Comedian Benny’s comment was probably about pausing to obtain the best laughter. But pausing before speaking is wise in all types of communication. Consider pausing and saying Hmmm in the midst of conversations you have today. 

Why?

Marriage counselor and author Kathlyn Hendricks recommends pausing and saying Hmmm not only because it can help us make time to respond with care rather than react, but also because saying Hmmm truly helps us to wonder, to consider, and to make room for possibilities.

Saying Hmmm conveys respect to the other person too. It’s as if you are saying, “Let me think about that.”

When we pause and say Hmmm, we are sending a “Let me think about that” message to our own minds as well. Saying Hmmm can help us meet one another heart to heart instead of going head to head.

So whether a discussion is becoming heated, or not, whether it is with a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor, or stranger, try pausing and saying Hmmm. 

You might be amazed at what happens.

Blessings to all our conversations and relationships.

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

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

WELCOME TO THE WORLD PROJECT IS LAUNCHED

Welcome to the World coverThe Twelve Gifts of Birth Foundation has launched a “conscious parenting” project that involves giving Welcome to the World keepsake folders to hospitals and birthing centers to pass on to moms of new babies.

The Welcome to the World keepsake is designed to encourage parents to nurture the inner strength, compassion, hope, joy and other natural gifts and talents in their children.

The folder includes a congratulatory letter, a Twelve Gifts Birth Certificate, and a Ways to Nurture the Gifts in Your Child mini poster with 60 simple yet powerful ways to cultivate self worth and positive character traits in children.

Both the birth certificate and mini poster Ways to Nurture posterare ideal for framing and featuring in scrapbooks.

Signed copies of The Twelve Gifts of Birth book are also given to the babies born on the launch date at each participating hospital. The project further includes a method through which participating hospitals can receive on-going donations from The Twelve Gifts of Birth Foundation.

The first institution to receive the Welcome to the World keepsakes is Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, Florida.

For more information about Welcome to the World and how to obtain the keepsakes, please visit www.thetwelvegiftsofbirthfoundation.com

Suggested ways to nurture The Twelve Gifts in children can be found at www.thetwelvegiftsofbirth.com

Launched with much love for all the little ones!

SEE WITH AWE

SEE WITH WONDERWhat a beautiful idea. Imagine if we could see at least one thing this way every day. What joy that would bring. Peace too.

How do we do this?  We don’t see as we did when we were children. With wonderment. Over time our senses have dulled. We’ve seen so much. Perhaps too much. There may be things we wish we have never seen. 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

CATS: AND THE LESSONS THEY TEACH US

We have two cats. Both adopted us in 2001.

 

My husband and I were traveling in a motor home from Arizona to Florida.

 

MinkaAt a KOA in Texas, as we pulled onto our site, a homeless Tortie kitten raced across the campground, sat, and meowed outside our door. We let her in and named her Minka.

 

Three days later, a handsome grey shorthair did the same thing at a campground in Orlando. We named him Bailey.

 

Over the years, Minka and Bailey have given us many gifts and life lessons. They’ve shown us how to play, be silly, stretch, be flexible and graceful, cuddle, snuggle, nap, be present, savor scents and all our senses, stay nicely groomed, and more.

 

Last week, Bailey was diagnosed with widespread carcinomatosis. Our vet saidBailey that our sweet boy cat has perhaps two months to live. Probably less. Among the hard things: we are going to have to decide when to say when.

 

We’ve never had to put a pet down. We aim to preserve life. In fact, in our home we’ve had a catch-and-release program (for spiders, mice, and other unwelcomed house guests) in place since the 1980s.

 

But we must consider Bailey’s comfort and quality of life.

 

Among the good things: facing death hurts, and yet it can lead us toward greater love and compassion.  Continue reading

THERE ARE NO ORDINARY MOMENTS

In the Oscar-winning film, Titanic, steerage-class character Jack Dawson dines in first-class with some of the world’s wealthiest movers and shakers. When he is asked about how he makes his way in the world, in light of his poor social and financial standing, he makes it clear that he sees his life as rich. He explains that he has all that he needs within himself and with what is at hand, namely: his art supplies and the surroundings of each moment.

“I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it,” says Dawson, and he commits to making each day count.



          

Dawson’s perspective reminds me of my brother, Keith, and his particular way of “making each day count.”

About 5 years ago, Keith started what he calls his “photo of the day” practice.  It began when Keith had an epiphany experience–one that we all have when we realize that much time has passed in our lives.

SAMSUNGThat wake-up experience led Keith to take one photo each day, in a certain way. His intention was to pause, savor a moment, and honor it by recording it. While some of his photos capture sunsets, record his garden in bloom, and show his dogs at play, many are reminders of seemingly mundane moments: a sunny-side egg frying in a pan, a just-poured glass of beer, water flowing from the shower head.

“It’s not about waiting for peak experiences or the high-points each day,” says Keith. “I just want to stop and appreciate ordinary moments.”

He explains that, now and then, he really “gets it” that there are no ordinary moments. They’re all magnificent.

Deep down we all know this. But we forget.

May we become better and better at remembering.