“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder…”
~ Lee Ann Womack
Me too, Lee Ann. I wish that wonder would be protected and nourished in every child and adult.
I believe we can’t actually lose the wonderment we were born with, just as we can’t lose our innate gifts of hope, joy, courage, compassion, love or any of the qualities that are a part of our essence. But we can lose our sense of them. It seems to me that we all sometimes lose our sensing of the beauty that’s built into our being. If we ignore them, we can get out of touch with all of our inner gifts.
That’s why I write “touchstones” and share them freely each day. They feed my gifts. They feed my soul. And sharing them doesn’t diminish them one bit. In fact, the more they’re shared, the more their nutritional power grows like yeasted dough.
I’m resolving to deepen my awareness of and appreciation for the gifts of life in the New Year. Care to join me in this intention for 2018? That’s all we need to begin: the intention. We’ll be guided further.
Already I’m feeling a surge of increased enthusiasm for messages that uplift and encourage us. And not only for the touchstones I compose. I’ll be watching for inspiration in books, films, music, news and all forms of expression and communication. If you don’t already receive Today’s Touchstone via email, perhaps you’ll subscribe now, using the form on this website.
Before closing, I’d like to add a few more lines from the well-known song recorded by Lee Ann Womack:
“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance”
“I’d gone though my life believing in the strength and competence of others; never my own. Now, dazzled, I discovered that my capacities were real. It was like finding a fortune in the lining of an old coat.” ~ Joan Mills
We’ve probably all known the delight of finding money when it was needed. I can recall college days and newlywed times of finding a few dollar bills in a purse or a handful of change between sofa pillows. I wouldn’t say I was dazzled, but I was elated. I might have even jumped for joy.
Did you know that about $2 billion in lottery prizes go unclaimed every year? And there’s an estimated $850 million lying unclaimed in lost and forgotten bank accounts.
What is the undiscovered and untapped wealth within us worth? Far more than any amount of money.
If we only knew how to readily claim and develop our inner resources of love, talent, courage, hope, imagination, compassion, faith – all our gifts – we could achieve a rare way of living life, being fully ourselves.
With faith and enthusiasm, let’s look within ourselves every day for discoveries of our gifts. Let’s also do something, however small, to cultivate and grow them everyday. One way to grow our gifts is to use them everyday.
“How do I do that?” you might ask. There are many ways. I will offer two here.
At least once each day stretch beyond blah feelings, angry feelings, hurtful feelings and choose to act kindly, caringly. In other words, decide to use the gift of love even if you don’t feel like it.
To symbolize and strengthen your intention to grow your inner wealth, start with a clear jar similar to the one in the photo. Every time you notice a demonstration of any one of the gifts – either within yourself or another person – add a coin to the jar, even if it’s just a penny. Every seemingly little penny will contribute to the growth of actual money in the jar just as every seemingly little act of courage or statement of hope will be growing your conscious awareness and appreciation of your inner wealth.
Watch for examples of all the forms of strength in your personal life, in the world, in books, films, everywhere. Look for the word “strength” on billboards, on TV ads, everywhere. Become more aware of strength, especially in yourself. Do this with each of The Twelve Gifts: strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, talent, imagination, reverence, wisdom, love and faith. If you do this, whether or not you use the money jar, you will be growing your gifts. But the visible symbol and action of adding coins to the jar will help anchor your intention and commitment. It will also be fun.
You are likely to collect some interesting stories about each gift too. If you feel inclined to add any here, please do! We will all benefit. Send your story the contact box or enter it in the comment area. If you wish to know of some true story examples of others growing their gifts, you can find a collection of them in TOUCHSTONES: STORIES FOR LIVING THE TWELVE GIFTS. This book is available both as a paperback and as an e-book. You can also access stories about each of the gifts right here, on this home page, to the right of this blog.
“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,
Hmm. I think we all believe, to some extent at least, that we can look at “problems” differently. We can find blessings in every challenge.
If/when we do ever truly see them as valuable opportunities, the outcomes will be different. We will be different. Stronger. Healthier. Freer. Better in so many ways.
Today, let’s take another shot at grasping the powerful truth that our problems are chances for us to get it better, to overcome limitations, to clear away stumbling blocks, to remove blind spots and to remove hurts and hates from our hearts.
There are many possible tools and practices that can help us “see differently.”
Select one of your worries, one of the things you have labeled as a “problem.” Write a brief description of it, fold the paper, and place it in a spot you designate as sacred, or special to you in some way. Intend, as best you can, to release the worry. Even if it feels “impossible,” do it anyway. Do it with faith, even if that faith is smaller than a mustard seed. Ask for help, guidance and grace to recognize opportunities and solutions that lead to something greater. Then use your gift of imagination. “See” the person, the issue, the financial challenge, the threat of loss, the illness – whomever and whatever – in a different light. Remember a time or vision one in which all is well. Open your heart further to love and compassion by bringing to mind someone or something you love dearly, something that makes you smile. Baby animals do this for many people. Go about your day, gently.
Also, let this drawing be a reminder that truly can see things differently. Are you familiar with it? You should be able to see both a young woman and a very old one. While neither is the “correct” or “better” way of seeing, seeing problems as opportunities is the better way for our health, happiness, and success overall.
May every problem in our personal lives, in our country and in our world lead us toward greater love, hope, beauty, and joy. Toward greater courage and compassion too. And peace.
With faith always,
“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.”
~ Jo Walton
This post is not just about appreciating sunrises and sunsets. The question is: how present are we each day? How mindful? How aware are we of beauty, our senses, and all that we sense?
Consider this simple activity as one way to be more mindful.
You can do this in one minute. All you need is one raisin. Before eating the raisin, hold it in your hand. Roll it between your fingers. Examine it as if it is the first raisin you have ever seen. Then close your eyes and place it in your mouth. Keep them closed for the entire time you are tasting the raisin. Chew the raisin very slowly. Notice the taste, the changing texture, how your mouth fills with saliva, and more. Pay attention to all the little things you are experiencing. Give the raisin your full attention for a full minute, or for as long as you can, before swallowing all of it.
Seize and savor this day. Every day.
PS – Try this another time, using an almond or other nut. Try an olive. What else might you use? Do this as a family and share your experiences. Talk about sunrises and sunsets too. Which do you prefer and why?
This could be a simple and light-hearted way to cultivate a greater gratitude practice for ourselves. It could be fun too, especially if we involve children.
Whether or not you make a physical gratitude key, create one in your mind. Carry that image with you as you go about this day.
For the joy of it,
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,
“Passion is holy…If we do not give outward expression to our passions, we will experience self-immolation – the spontaneous combustion of our souls.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
When I published The Twelve Gifts of Birth, I hoped it would at least break even. I just knew I had to bring it into the world as best I could. Reaching sweet success with it was like icing an already delicious lemon yellow cake with honeyed icing.
Some books have not done so well. For example, my children’s picture book, A Perfect Name, did not even go into a second printing.
I have a close friend who has faithfully honored her creative passions with card-making and selling whimsical gifts for the home. You can hear the joy in her voice when she’s working with her artistic expressions. She hasn’t reached gold. Not yet, I should say. Who knows what’s ahead?
We are all talented in so many ways. Some we have not yet recognized. No matter how old or young or busy or poor we feel, whatever our present circumstances, let’s take a few deep breaths and bring freshness not only into our lungs but into our minds, hearts, and souls as well.
Be ready. Inspiration can come in any moment. Welcome it. Honor it.
Joyfully express yourself. Follow your dreams. With love and courage you can. You will!
Hope and faith too,
“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!