Tag Archive | Twelve Gifts

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

HOLDING THE LIGHT – A FORM OF PRAYER

Burning Candle
“I’ll be holding the light for you.”

Have you ever said this to someone in a challenging situation? Has anyone said this to you?

This idea and intention to “hold the light” seems to be growing as a common expression. I hear it as another way of saying, “I care” and “I’ll pray for you” when we feel empathy for the hurt a loved one is experiencing.

But what does it mean?

And exactly how do we “hold the light” for someone?

I was asking these questions when a clear image suddenly came into my mind.

I saw myself in a small, simple, windowless room. I was standing at the head of bed, holding a candle. In the bed was a friend who was experiencing deep emotional pain. At the foot of the bed was another woman, standing by.

And I got it.

Yes, my friend was in pain… laboring with pain. And it was because she was about to give birth to something new and wondrous in her life! The woman at the foot of the bed was an angel present to facilitate with the birthing.

My role was simply to stand at the head of the bed and… well, just hold the light, without fretting, worrying, or getting in the way. I watched as a golden glow filled the room and bathed each of us in the energy of love.

I now use this image whenever I am privileged to hear the courageous sharing from a family member or friend who confides a challenge regarding their health, or finances, work, or in a relationship, whatever…. I trust that in every challenge there is something ready to be born, something new, something wondrous… something to welcome into the world.

With deep respect for our friends and their birthings, we can stand by them in this way, holding the light.

Does this resonate with you? Do you have another visual image that represents “holding the light?” If so, please share it. Visualizations can help make our intentions more real, anchor them, and add energy to our caring intentions.

“REPURPOSING” INGREDIENTS: A LIFE LESSON FROM CHOPPED CONTENDERS

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Chopped, you have seen at least one demonstration of an ingredient  being “repurposed” in cooking. Repurposing is similar to the concept of taking a lemon and making  lemonade, and yet it’s more than that. When an item is repurposed in food preparation, it’s used in a whole  new way. For example, taco shells in the dessert mystery basket could be spun into crumbs and used as a  cookie, candy, or cake component.

 

I find this show to be inspirational as well as entertaining. What will the contestants prepare using their mystery ingredients? How might they combine salmon and root beer barrels into an appetizer?

As I watch the food transformations, I feel guided to apply the “repurposing” principle to life.

 

Everyday, we are handed a basket of unknowns. Nearly everyday, that basket contains challenges. The assignment for each of us is to accept everything that is in each day’s basket and use it as best we can.

 

We might first moan and groan, as some of the contestants do, when we face something difficult to incorporate. Then we get to work, as they do, using imagination, wisdom, and other resources.

 

On that show, the contestants have access to a pantry full of staples. To me, that pantry symbolizes our inner storehouse. We all have essential resources available to us. Among them are courage, wisdom, compassion, and love. Using these resources, we can repurpose everything. (In fact, many of the champion chefs have said that love is one of their most valuable ingredients.)

 

We’re not all great chefs. But we all have the ability to take the challenges we’re handed and turn them into savory and sweet life experiences.

 

Here’s a simple example. If we’re stuck in traffic, we can transform the seemingly “wasted minutes” into time to strengthen our muscles by doing isometric exercises.  Or, we can practice deep breathing. Or visualize our dreams. Or sing. Or just be present.

 

What about tougher challenges? You might ask. How do we repurpose an argument, an accident, an illness, a layoff? I don’t pretend to have solutions to all of life’s challenges. Ultimately, we each need to find our own ways to deal with them.

 

But, I’m convinced that we can “repurpose” anything when we use imagination, courage, and love. Chopped Grand Champion, Madison Cowan, sure shows the way, with examples like his Waffle Cone Remoulade and, more powerfully, his life. Did you know that, for a time, he was homeless?

 

LET THE LIGHT WITHIN YOU SHINE



 

“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light within.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

 

 

 

I am always on the lookout for expressions of The Twelve Gifts.

 

Yesterday, at The Farmers’ Market in Winter Garden, Florida, I found several. I’d like to share three with you.  One is this delightful bottle lamp that features the word “Joy.” I see this lamp as an expression of Beauty and Talent too.  Another is the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross quote that accompanies this whimsical creation. The third is the woman who makes these unique lamps. Her name is Kathleen Bee. I saw pretty much all the gifts in her in the course of a conversation. If you wish, you can see more of her work by visiting: www.souljourneydesigns.com.

 


Consider trying this yourself…

 

Today, be on the lookout for examples of Strength, Beauty, Courage, Compassion, Hope, Joy, Talent, Imagination, Reverence, Wisdom, Love, and Faith. Like a child on a treasure hunt, look up, down, and all around. Look within too. And listen, with your heart as well as your ears. With the intention to find examples, you are likely to notice several. Perhaps many! Be ready to notice not only The Twelve Gift words in such places as quotes, advertising, conversations, and music… watch for demonstrations of these gifts in action. For even more fun, deliberately put one or more of these gifts in action. Let your inner Beauty sparkle… no matter what. Let the light within YOU shine!

 


A PRAYER FROM AMERICA


A PRAYER FROM AMERICA

Peace to All People on Earth: A Prayer from America
by Charlene Costanzo


God bless me,
my family
and all families.

And peace to all people on Earth.

Bless my friends
And everyone’s friends.

And peace to all people on Earth.

Bless the creatures
who swim and fly,
creep, crawl, and climb,
hop, run, and roam.

Bless all our homes.

And peace to all people on Earth.

Bless all fruits and flowers,
grains and greens,
oceans and rivers,
lakes and streams,
every rock and stone,
every grain of sand,
every speck of soil on every land.

Bless America.

Bless all countries.

Bless the sun, the moon,
all the planets and stars.

And peace to all people on Earth
(c)Charlene Costanzo 2009 ALL RIGHTS


Martin Luther King Jr. Quote

 

WE ALL HAVE GIFTS TO SHARE: THE GIFTS OF YANA

I am always on the lookout for demonstrations of The Twelve Gifts. Often I encounter them in unexpected ways.  One time it was during a mammogram.

The radiology technician, Janice, and I made small talk. At the end of the procedure, as I was ready to leave, Janice stopped me and said, “For some reason I want to give you something. It’s a poem written by my daughter.”

And in just a few minutes, before her next scheduled patient, Janice told me a little about the life …and death… of her daughter, Yana.

After years of running away, struggling, and rebelling, at age 24 Yana moved back to her hometown, reconciled with her parents, and began to live her life joyfully, creatively, and responsibly.  Janice was once again enjoying her bright, spirited daughter and the woman she was becoming.

Janice was at her job at the medical center when she heard that, while hiking, a young woman had fallen off a cliff. The accident was probably fatal. Janice began praying for peace for the girl’s soul and for her family. As she did, Janice experienced a sense of peace, feeling that the girl had died doing what she loved.

When Janice learned that the girl was her own beloved Yana, she went into shock.  For awhile, Janice was completely numb.  But slowly, as she began to feel again, she discovered and received many gifts, not in the death, but in the life of Yana.  Some may seem small, but they are significant things that reveal Yana’s large spirit.

For example, looking through photographs, Janice noticed that throughout Yana’s life, from early childhood on, whenever she posed for a picture, Yana leaned in and touched her head to another person in the photo. Janice hadn’t observed that before.  Since that recognition, Janice leans in to touch heads during photos and, in general, “leans in” more to touch and connect with people.

At the funeral, a 60 year-old woman who worked at a grocery store with Yana years earlier–when Yana had seemed to be a troubled teen–told Janice about her daughter’s kindness to homeless people who came into the store looking for handouts.

Most recently, Yana was working as a waitress.  A diner whom Janice had served told Janice about an incident that revealed Yana’s honesty.  Before ordering, he had asked Yana if she had tried the prime rib. Yana answered, “Yes and it is delicious.” Later, she told that man that she wanted to come clean with him. “I’m a vegetarian,” she said. “I didn’t taste the prime rib. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth.”

Months later, on what would have been Yana’s 25th birthday, Janice received a poem that Yana had written a year before she died. Her fiancé had found it among her things and saved it to give to Janice on that special day.  It was the poem she shared with me after my mammogram, which I would like to share with you now:

Sometimes…..just for one minute
everything is perfect
and in that moment everything is
nothing
and time and space become
completely irrelevant
because in that moment a lifetime is
lived.
However insignificant you think
whatever you’re doing is
it is all most important to do.
The purpose or meaning to life is
exactly that.
Yana

Yana’s wisdom, friendliness, compassion, truthfulness, love….all live on in many ways.  For her mother, as she shares stories and is influenced by them, and for us, as we hear them and are perhaps influenced by them, too.  I know that I am now more likely to lean in and touch my head to someone in a photograph with me. I very well may recall Yana’s “coming clean” when I catch myself in a seemingly harmless white lie. I will remember and be guided by her compassion if ever I begin to judge or feel discomfort around a homeless person.

We all have gifts to share–our own and the gifts we see in our loved ones –that can enrich our lives and help us to be better people.

THIS MEANS SOMETHING!

Have you ever seen the 1977 science fiction film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The main character, Roy, who is played by Richard Dreyfuss, has a vague image of a mountain in his mind after he sees a UFO. Feeling compelled to find the meaning of that mountain, he attempts to form that mountain in a pile of shaving cream in his hand, in a heap of mashed potatoes on his dinner plate, and in mounds of sand outdoors, as well as in soil he carts into his kitchen. With each zealous effort, he exclaims, “This means something! This means something!”

Sometimes I feel like that character, Roy. Often, when I think about, speak about, or write about life’s gifts, my heart seems to proclaim, “This means something! This means something…SOMETHING MUCH MORE THAN WE YET REALIZE!” And I want to know: what is it about these gifts that we do not yet realize? I sense that when we do realize (as in understand), we are going to realize (as in bring about) a profound transformation.

I sense that, even with the high regard and deep appreciation I have for life’s gifts, it is only a dim glimmer compared to what is possible for us to realize. Perhaps that’s why, like the film character Roy, I feel driven to seek better understanding of these gifts and to learn how to use them consciously day-by-day.

I invite you to join me on this quest. Together, let’s realize.