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CONSCIOUS PARENTING (AND GRANDPARENTING): WAYS TO NURTURE THE GIFTS IN ALL CHILDREN

Reading to NewbornAll children are born “gifted and talented.” While every child may not excel in athletic skill, artistic expression, or academic performance, every child does possess the resources of inner strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, talent, imagination, reverence, wisdom, love, and faith.

 

 

 

Poets, prophets, and philosophers have, for centuries, been pointing the way to true prosperity and successful living by using our inner gifts. We hear this wisdom in all of the world’s religions. We can even find guidance in fables and folk tales.

 

 

 

Consider the classic Sleeping Beauty story, for example. The princess, named Beauty, pricks her finger on a poisoned Continue reading

BILOXI BLUES: DEMONSTRATING DIGNITY AND COMPASSION

Biloxi BluesEvery day I look to see how and where I might observe any and all of The Twelve Gifts being played out in life. Today, I saw them played out in a play.

 

 

Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues tells a story of young army recruits going through basic training at a boot camp in Mississippi during World War II.

 

 

It was the character named Epstein who most drew the attention of my heart as he demonstrated dignity and compassion despite being picked on by his sergeant and fellow recruits, mainly because he is Jewish and philosophical in his approach to life.

 

 

When the play open, Epstein appears to be a young man with a weak constitution. “Diagnosed with a nervous stomach,” he says, with a doctor’s report to prove it.

 

 

Yet, scrawny private Epstein stands strong and tall Continue reading

A TREE GROWS IN SEDONA: A TOUCHSTONE FOR STRENGTH AND HOPE

Joanne's TreeMy friend Joanne greatly appreciated the tree that stood in front of her townhouse.

 

One day Joanne noticed small dark spots on nearly all the leaves. Close inspection revealed that millions of tiny bugs had invaded her arboreal friend. She immediately called the homeowners’ association to report the problem and asked that the tree be treated.

 

Joanne was horrified when, a few days later, she came home to find the tree being chopped down. In fact, by the time she arrived, it was nearly gone, felled to the ground.

 

She regretted reporting the problem. “I should have sprayed it, tried some things myself, taken some other approach,” she repeated to herself and to all who would listen.

 

Day after day, Joanne mourned her missing tree. Where there had been beauty and vibrant life, there was now a barrenness in front of her home – no singing birds, no swaying branches, no soothing shade, no musical rustling of leaves – just a circle of stones, like a grave marker, around where the tree had stood.

 

Many months later, a shoot appeared from within that circle of empty red earth Continue reading

SPIRITUAL SPINACH

 

plate of raw spinach

During the time my mom faced cancer, there was a day when I felt so emotionally overwhelmed and energy depleted that, instead of helping my parents, as I had traveled to their home to do, I wanted to open the back door from their kitchen and run and run until I could run no more.

 

Instead of running, I stood still, closed my eyes, inhaled, and whispered, “Strength.” Literally, I called for it. And with grace, it came, immediately and with a force so full that it startled me.

 

If you were to ask me to describe what that was like, I would ask if you ever watched a Popeye cartoon. Similar to how that character was transformed after eating a can of spinach, ready to take on the world, I felt completely energized–physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was ready to take on everything that was my world at the time–which was to shop, cook, clean, and be lovingly present for my parents.

 

I often think back to the experience of that day.

 

I also think back to those Popeye cartoons. Although I probably wouldn’t have used these exact words back then, I used to wonder, “When is Popeye going to get it?! He needs to eat spinach all the time?! Every day so that he is always ready!”

 

Perhaps that was the lesson that children were supposed to get as we watched the cartoon series and saw that spinach needing-spinach eating scenario episode after episode: Popeye needed to eat spinach in order to be strong! Maybe we were supposed to want to eat spinach, or at least our vegetables, in order to be strong in our little bodies.

 

At this stage in my life, I realize that I need to nurture myself every day with “spiritual spinach.” I need to be strong on all levels.

 

Like it was for Popeye, it’s wise for us to always be “ready” to face whatever comes our way. Being nourished in this way strengthens our sense of self-worth too.

 

What might be spiritual spinach for you?

 

For me it’s inspirational quotes, affirmations, uplifting music, prayer, and meditation. It’s also being playful and pausing throughout the day to express gratitude.

 

Spiritual spinach can also be hiking, walking the dog, gardening, or bird watching.

 

What nuggets of inspiration might you consume to stay strong? Or what might you do each day to refill your inner strength tank and keep all the forms of strength flowing through you?

 

Consider identifying that for yourself and making a commitment to nourish yourself daily with “spiritual spinach” so that you are “ready” to take on “whatever”.

 

USE VISUALIZATION TO FEEL PEACEFUL AND SAFE: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH A TWELVE GIFTS’ BUBBLE

Glenda Bubble

By Charlene Costanzo

Can you recall the first time you saw THE WIZARD OF OZ? What in that film made the biggest impression on you? For me, it was the arrival of the Good Witch of the North, gliding in to Munchkin land in a lustrous bubble.

That image popped into my mind this morning, as I was wondering: How can protect myself from negativity? How do I do that without isolating myself? How can I be fully in the world, contributing in positive ways, and not be pulled down by the fear, the anger, and the hurt I often see and feel?

I wanted to maintain the peace I was feeling after prayer and meditation.

Suddenly, there it was, in my mind’s eye, that large, luminous bubble floating toward Dorothy in the film and toward me as the viewer.

And I “got it.”

As I child I wanted to be in that bubble. I realized that…  I COULD!

In my imagination, I created a sense of being in a bubble that is filled with all the highest energies of life. I am imagining that bubble around me now. Its shimmering film allows all the lovely energies within to pass outward. Like a sweet flower, the bubble I am in is frangrancing the world with love. Yet, that film is tight enough to prevent heavy energies from entering into the bubble.

 

Imagination is powerful. We all have this gift. And we use it every day.

Consider using yours to create such a bubble through visualization. It’s easy, fun, and feels great!

Sit in a comfortable place. I like to sit on my bed, propped up with my back against pillows and my legs stretched out in front of me.

Close you eyes, or keep them open, as you prefer.

Place your dominant hand over your heart and your other hand over your belly.

Breathe in deeply. Exhale slowly.

Next time, on the in-breath, imagine that you are drawing toward you, the powers of strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, reverence, wisdom, love, and faith.

They are now surrounding you, sparkling with light and all the colors of the rainbow.

Imagine an iridescent film forming in a circle, a ball, all around you.

You are in the bubble.

Now, glide through your day, in a wondrous way.

“Use your imagination not to scare yourself to death, but to inspire yourself to life.” – Adele Brookman

A MESSAGE SENT TODAY VIA THE “INNERNET”

A MESSAGE SENT TODAY VIA THE “INNERNET”

During the past week, I came across several references to the “Innernet.”
This clever and evocative name is already being used by individuals and businesses in a host of ways. A quick Google search offers over 650,000 results.

But imagine an Innernet… the Innernet… as real and relevant as the Internet, perhaps even more so, because absolutely everyone on the planet is on it. Imagine a wondrous energy web in which we are all connected, sending and receiving messages 24/7.

I wondered: How we might use this Innernet to spread hope on the planet? That question triggered a memory that I’d like to share with you now.

It was a typical summer day in Sedona, Arizona. The cloudless blue sky provided a perfect back drop for the area’s amazing rock formations. While waiting for the stop light to change from red to green at the intersection of 179 and 89A–where there is now a roundabout –I watched a young woman clothed in a long-white robe cross the street in front of my car. Only when she reached the other side and stepped on to the sidewalk did I notice her feet. They were bare! The air temperature outside my car was nearly 100. Imagine the heat of the black asphalt!

When the signal changed, I u-turned and pulled into a strip mall driveway so that I could encounter the young woman. I rolled down my window and offered her money for shoes. “I cannot accept money,” she said.

I offered her my sandals.

“Thank you. But, I cannot accept shoes either. Being shoeless is voluntary for me. It’s a kind of prayer,” she said. The young woman went on to explain that being shoeless was part of loving service she was doing for humankind. Beaming with joy, she offered to chant a blessing for me, which I accepted.

On that day, in that way, she sent a Therevada Buddhist Blessing out on the Innernet.
Today, in this way, I am sending a similar one from The Twelve Gifts for Healing:

May you allow fear to soften and melt away.

May you release all regrets and resentments.

May you see the world with wonder.

And may you imagine only good things.

May hope rise within you.

May peace wash over you.

May you hear the voice of wisdom.

Listening, may you act with trust.

May your heart open.

May joy emerge.

May love flow through you.

May you heal and help others.

What if, just once each day, we each simply whisper “Hope”
and we send that out on the Innernet?

 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT STONES?

Aunt Mary Lou's stones

What is it about stones?  So many of us are drawn to them.

The accompanying photo illustrates this phenomenon.  It shows a collection of pebbles picked up over a lifetime of travel around the world.  It belonged to my Aunt Mary Lou.   In one stone she etched “Greece, 1979.”  In another “Syracusa, Sicily.” Other stones are from Germany, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Russia, China, Egypt, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, and places I don’t remember.

Why, like so many people around the world, did Mary Lou stoop to pick up stones when she walked on Earth?

An obscure Eastern European fable offers an explanation. In The Thirteenth Gift we

learn about a kingdom that was suffering as a result of growing fears. One night the inhabitants of that kingdom entered a deep sleep, visited the dream realm together, and shared a vision: Everyone saw how all creation breathes together in the heart of Love.  In the morning, rousing from sleep, everyone held a shimmering stone.  Like the details of the dream, each stone faded and disappeared within moments.  Yet each stone had remained in hand long enough to anchor the vision. According to the story, that is why people are drawn to stones. Stones urge us to hold on to the truth of who we are.  We pick them up because we yearn to remember who we are, to see the world with wonder, and to experience the truth of the dream that lives in the consciousness of all humanity.