Archives

“WE STRENGTH”

We StrengthI met Peggy on the grounds of The Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Also known as “The Casa,” the Center is considered by many people to be a sacred place that offers strength from the site itself as well as through its programs and retreats.

After strolling along the meditation trails and the path of the labyrinth, Peggy and I sat in the shade of a ramada. There, we got to talking about forms of strength, such as stamina, fortitude, determination, and willpower.

Then we opened up and shared stories about times we needed to call upon strength.

“This is the form of strength I most appreciate,” said Peggy. “We Strength.

We Strength…what’s that?” I asked.

“Every time I allow myself to be vulnerable and completely honest with someone I trust, I am enormously strengthened,” said Peggy. “And it seems that the other person is filled with strength also. It’s a ‘we’ kind of strength. We Strength.

Feeling empowered and expansive myself as well as connected with Peggy in shared strength, I understood Peggy’s perspective. 

We Strength. Seemingly so unlike robustness, toughness, hardiness, resoluteness, firmness, spunk, grit, persistence, endurance, force, ruggedness, and many other words that name an aspect of strength. But a form of true strength indeed.

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.

 

MINING WISELY FOR WEALTH, WELL-BEING, AND INNER STRENGTH

 

Sun for mining strength blogHave you ever wished that corporations and countries would somehow help bring about greater health, wealth, well-being, and harmony on this planet by using the earth’s resources more wisely? Do you ever wonder: When we will begin mining the power of waves, the wind, and the sun?

 

 

While we wait for that, we can each be mining the resources and the wealth within us. What wealth? The strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, talent, imagination, reverence, wisdom, love, and faith that is in our core. When we draw these resources into our daily lives, we are enriched while we enrich the world around us. And to do this there is no cost of investment, no special equipment needed, no licensing required. 

 

We can all mine our inner resources using intention, willingness, and commitment. It’s time to realize the power of these resources…“realize” as in recognize and see them and “realize” as in make them real and manifested. 

 

Start with strength. Consider using the quotes and questions (from the book Touchstones: Stories for Living The Twelve Gifts) below as a way to tap in, increase the flow of your inner strength, and bring that strength into all that you do.

 

 “When you look back over your life and see how much you’ve had to face… it’s interesting to try and pinpoint the first time… you had to reach inside yourself and pull out strength you didn’t know you had.”   –Loretta Lynn 

 

               If I’m afraid, it doesn’t mean that I’m not brave.

               And if I doubt, it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost faith.

               And if I fall, if doesn’t mean I can’t go on.

               And if I cry, it doesn’t mean that I’m not strong. 

                –Jana Stanfield & Karen Taylor-Good, Doesn’t Mean That I’m Not Strong, from Brave Faith

 

For Reflection, Journaling, and Discussion

Do you consider yourself to be a “strong” person? Why?

How have you used strength? Start by recalling a particular time when you called upon strength. Was it to face a challenge? To complete a project? To follow a dream? To be present in a situation? Remember that strength takes many forms, such as will, resolve, determination, and perseverance; and it can be brought into all aspects of our lives.

What stirs a feeling of empowerment in you?

From what activities do you draw strength? Walking? Meditating? Dancing? Swimming? Talking with a friend? Playing rousing music? Prayer? What forms? There are many ways to pray.

Into what situations and areas of your life would you like more strength to flow?

 

 

THINKING OF YOU: CARING AS A FORM OF PRAYER

 

birthday flowers

“If, instead of a gem or even a flower,
we should cast a gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend,
that would be giving as the angels give.” – George Macdonald

 

 

Coming across this quote today stirred in me a memory of a study on prayer that I heard about many years ago.

 

 

In 1969 in Salem, Oregon, an organization known as Spindrift conducted a series of experiments involving seeds and prayer. First, two groups of rye seeds were planted in identical conditions. One group was prayed for and one was not. The prayed-for group grew better, with taller seedlings and more shoots. In further experiments, the researchers applied prayer to “seeds in crisis.” Salt was added to the watering can to stress the seeds as they tried to grow. The seeds that were watered with salt water and were prayed for grew higher then the healthy seeds that were not prayed for. They also grew taller than the prayed for seeds that received fresh water. The experiments were repeated with various types of seeds, and the results were consistent: Seedlings facing adversity and receiving prayer thrived.

 

Since I first heard about The Spindrift Study, I’ve often thought about how we are like those little seedlings with salt water poured upon them. In some form, we all have adversity rained upon us. We can grow greater Continue reading

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