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LOVE: A FEELING. A VERB. A DECISION. A GIFT. AN INGREDIENT TO ADD

Missing close contact with my just-turned-ten twin grandchildren, I’m reminising, remembering, and reposting about the first time we made bread together. At the terribly terrific age of two, they were so eager to explore everything and help with everything. Some may call me crazy, but I love the so called “terrible twos.”  Here’s that day…

My husband, Frank, and I had assembled the ingredients and let the sister and brother add spoonfuls and scoopfuls. After the sugar, salt, yeast, water, milk, butter, and flour were somewhat properly mixed, we all took turns kneading. Suddenly, I exclaimed, “Oh, Alexis and Anthony. I almost forgot to add the love.”

Although lots of loving had been part of the process, I wanted to add love consciously. And I wanted to speak of love and show love to them in many different ways. So I took a deep breath, smiled broadly, and kneaded a minute longer, while reciting, “Love, love, love…”

“I don’t see the love, Nana,” said Anthony. “Where is it? I want to see it.” 

Alexis looked at her brother and then at me, expectantly. She seemed to agree. She could see the sugar, salt, yeast, water, milk, and flour. But where was the love?

Needless to say, two-year-olds are not fully ready to grasp abstract concepts like love. However, they are beginning to understand them. They know what it’s like to love and be loved. Nevertheless, these two wanted to see love with their eyes.

Don’t we all, at times, want to see and know love better?

Strength. Beauty. Courage. Compassion. Hope. Joy. Talent. Imagination. Reverence. Wisdom. Love. Faith. The Twelve Gifts. We can’t see them with our eyes. We can’t open them like birthday presents. But they are in us, and we can open our hearts to them. We can add them mindfully to everything that we make and everything that we do. It will make a difference too.

#dailyinspiration #inspirationalquotes #lifegifts #mindfulness #consciousparenting #conciousgrandparenting #loveisaverb #loveisadecision #breadmaking #terribletwos #thejoyofcooking #thetwelvegifts

 

 

 

 

WHAT CAN WE DO TO PROMOTE PEACE WITHIN AND AMONG US?

 

Many of us are looking for tools to help us restore peace, hope, and a sense of order during this confusing time, with challenges we haven’t faced, or even seen, in our lives up until now.

Inspirational quotes are among the many tools in my tool box. The container is large, with room for more, so I’d love to hear about your trusted tools. Your favorite quotes too.

I’ll be showing more tools and quotes in the weeks ahead, but right now I’d like to share a few of my favorite quotes:

“Don’t let the news of the world get you down…
If you think you need LOVE right now, the truth is, LOVE needs you…
LOVE needs you to be your best, your brightest, your loudest, your most colorful…
Don’t give up on equality.
Don’t give up on justice.
Don’t give up on the power and the beauty of diversity.
Don’t give up on helping to relieve the suffering of others…
Don’t give up on LOVE because it’s LOVE that has inspired all that is good in the world…”
-Michael Franti

How does this quote make you feel?

“I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world…” ~ J. G. Ballard
Me too. Especially when our vision includes believing in love, seeing love, feeling love, choosing love, and acting with love. Kindness too.

“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
So why not light candles of kindness every day? Besides softening fear and hate, the increased light will help more people to experience hope.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” -Margaret Mead
We can be among them.

“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” ~ Ralph Marston
What we do today can improve all our tomorrows. Truly.

If a few caring people can change the world, imagine what many caring people can do. And so many people do care now.  We care deeply. Let’s keep our caring strong and sincere by feeding the highest qualities – The Twelve Gifts – in us.

Strength. Beauty. Courage. Compassion. Hope. Joy. Talent. Imagination. Reverence. Wisdom. Love. and Faith.

One way to nurture these gifts is by receiving and reading Today’s Touchstone emailed messages. Another is reading my forthcoming book, The Twelve Gifts from the Garden: Life Lessons for Peace and Well-Being. It comes out September 15 and can be pre-ordered right now. https://tinyurl.com/y252grtv

Thank you for all you do to make a difference.

With love,
Charlene

 

 

HOW OFTEN DO YOU SAY WOW

“Wow, I get to wake up again? Ok. You have to make good with what you’ve got.” ~ Dave Grohl

How often do you say, WOW?

I think we all felt wows before we spoke the word. It was when we were new in this world and sensed-or knew-the holiness of it all.

What stirs you to say it?

I said WOW when I saw this stunningly beautiful, sacred-looking, albino peacock and this curious, lovable crane who seems to like dancing.

Even if we don’t feel goosebumps and shivers of awe when we wake up each morning, perhaps if we said something like, “Wow, I get to wake up again? I get to experience life today? Human life? MY LIFE?” perhaps we would begin to see more beauty, experience deeper love and compassion, and feel more awe with gratitude and joy.

No matter what’s happening, as Dave Grohl says, “You have to make good with what you’ve got.”

We can.

With reverence,
Charlene

THE NINTH GIFT IS REVERENCE. May you appreciate the wonder that you are and the miracle of all creation. –  from The Twelve Gifts of Birth                             

THE FOURTH GIFT IS COMPASSION: PLAY TUGS OF HUGS, NOT WAR


“I will not play at tug o’ war.

I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs…”   ~ Shel Silverstein

Me too. I’d rather hug. How about you?

I love hugs. Real hugs. For now, I’ll settle for the gestured-from-a-distance-hugs that I exchange with my grandchildren. Actually, it’s not just settling. I welcome them because love fills the safe, social distancing gap between us.

Heart Hugs. The phrase just popped into my mind.

Heart Hugs. What might they be?

While we wait for this time to pass, this time of difficulty achieving meetings of our minds, let’s aim for meetings of our hearts. Heart Hugs. 

Even if we hold very different perspectives on many issues, surely we can find places where our highest visions connect, where the same things make us laugh, and where the same pain makes us cry.

Tugs. Not of war. Tugs that thaw fears and melt hate and heal hurts and lead us to harmony and heart hugs.

Let’s play at those.

With love,
Charlene

THE FOURTH GIFT IS COMPASSION. May you be gentle with yourself and others…  –  from The Twelve Gifts of Birth                             

SAFETY, RESPECT, AND DREAMS FOR ALL

“Makes no difference who you are…”
– Leigh Harline and Ned Washington

It’s true. It makes no difference.

“Makes no difference who you are,” goes the song, “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Jiminy Cricket sings it in the film, Pinocchio.

The message is meant for all of us. We all deserve to have dreams. And when they come from our hearts, they can come true.

Another true message for all of us is demonstrated by Coco, the kitten in the photo with her security blanket, “Fishie.”

Everyone needs to feel safe and secure. We all deserve to be safe and secure. We all deserve to have dreams and be free to follow them.

Let’s do all we can to assure safety and the freedom to be oneself, for ourselves and for all. This includes fostering respect and reverence within ourselves and cultivating then in our culture. How might we do this?

Here are some ways to consider:

Practice mindfulness and compassion for oneself.

Notice when thoughts about ourselves and others are harsh. Get into the habit of then pausing, taking a few slow, deep breaths, and saying something like, “I forgive myself for judging myself and others as not good enough, bad, worthless, dumb, lazy, weak, stupid, ugly, or whatever negative label we are using.”

Apply love like a healing balm for our hearts. One way to do this is by placing our hands over our hearts, close our eyes, intend to have love flow into our hearts, and stay in this position until subtle or strong warmth is felt.

Avoid all books, films, games, conversations, and situations that celebrate and encourage meanness.

Perform at least one deliberate act of kindness every day.

Smile often.

Another activity to try and possibly make a habit is to remember that every person we see and encounter was an innocent, trusting, playful toddler. Take this further by, as best we can, “seeing” at least one person each day as they sweet child they once were. Imagine getting in touch with the young child we were. Stir love and compassion for the children we were and the child we aim to see in others, in all.

Pray for increased love and respect flowing among us all.

Reach inside for courage and strength every time we feel reluctant, shy, afraid, not important enough, or any other limiting perspective that holds us back from doing the right thing and from following our dreams.

I wish you deep sleep and beautiful dreams, the REM kind and the make-a-difference-in-the-world kind. I wish you peace and hope too.

With love,
Charlene

The eighth gift is IMAGINATION. May it nourish your visions and dreams. – from The Twelve Gifts of Birth

LET’S WARM FEAR, MELT HATE, — USE RESPECT, AND MAKE KINDNESS OUR NATURAL STATE

 

 

 

“Unity is strength, division is weakness.” – Swahili Proverb

 

We need more light now, light to see clearly, light to lift our spirits, and light to find our way to unity.

Much in the news has been dark. The good news is that we have a great deal of light within us. We also have reverence, compassion, hope, and love. These gifts and others were factory-installed. Even if they have been covered with layers of fear, hate, and blame, these powerful qualities are a part of our essence. They can be reached. Within compassion there is the kindness we all need to be giving and receiving.  Respect is a part of the gift of reverence. We know what hope is and why we need it. Love has healing power, and don’t we need healing?

Today is a great day for reaching inside and bringing respect, kindness, hope, and love into the world; using these gifts everywhere we go; and applying them generously in every way we can.

If we do this day-by-day, one-by-one we can warm the cold “fear/hate/blame” climate that has settled over our land. We can melt the hard divisiveness that has been fostered. We can restore the sense of togetherness and unity we need to be strong and free.

Yes. It will take a lot of one-by-ones. True. But it’s possible. It’s do-able. And there’s much to gain if we do, and much at stake if we don’t. For inspiration, please consider these quotes:

“Together we can face any challenges as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky.” – Sonia Gandhi.

“No doubt, unity is something to be desired, to be striven for, but it cannot be willed by mere declarations.” – Theodore Bikel

“Together we can change the world, just one random act of kindness at a time.” – Ron Hall

Are you in? I am.

With faith,
Charlene

DON’T GIVE UP: CONSIDER THOMAS EDISON

 

 

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.” ~ Thomas Edison  

There are times we think we’ve tried everything. At such times we may want to give up, especially if we are overtired, overworked, and surrounded by naysayers. Has this happened to you? Is it happening now? If so, please reconsider. 

Whether it’s about overcoming a hardship or seizing an opportunity, think again.  Edison made at least 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb before achieving success. His claim that there are more possible ways to reach our goals and realize our dreams is based on sound personal experience.

Let’s remain faithful to seeking and finding solutions to all of our life challenges and obstacles to our dreams, remembering that, when we think we’ve exhausted the possibilities, the truth is: We have not. There are more. The best is yet to be.

With love, joy, and wisdom,
Charlene

#dreams #seizing opportunities #perseverance #commitment #Edison 

 

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN LIFE GETS YOU DOWN?

“When life gets you down, do you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” – Dory, from Little Nemo

What do you do when life gets you down?
Do you “keep swimming?
Or do you hide yourself away?
Or deny the hurt?
Or put on a happy face?
Do you pretend all is well?
Do you do something nice for someone else?
How you you take care of you?
Maybe it is to keep swimming.
Or seek help.
Or find your happy place.
Where is your happy place?
What uplifts you?
What brings you joy?
Consider listing at least 12 things that lift your spirits.
Engage in one or more every day.
A simple but good one is to practice gratitude.
Notice things that you appreciate, even if it’s just a little.
Gratefulness leads to joy.

 

 

WISDOM IS WHISPERING. ARE YOU HEARING?

 

 

 

“The tenth gift is wisdom. Wisdom will lead you through knowledge to understanding. May you hear its soft voice.” ~ from The Twelve Gifts of Birth

When I came across this image, I immediately thought of this wisdom quote in The Twelve Gifts of Birth. For me, the book morphing into nature represents knowledge transforming into deep understanding in a beautiful way. Also, whenever I am in mountains and forests, by the sea, or in any natural setting, many of The Twelve Gifts are stirred in me, among them: wisdom. Strength, beauty, compassion, hope, joy, imagination, love, reverence, and faith are usually stirred and nourished too. 

If you can, spend some time in nature today. Everyday. We all need regular doses of vitamin N. Regular reflection is good for us too. There are many ways to reflect. Here’s one way: 

Please clear your mind as best you can. Take several deep breaths. Place your dominant hand over your heart and your other hand over your belly. Intend to open your heart and engage with your gut feelings. Tune in.

Now look at the photo. What are you thinking? Feeling? Knowing?

Reread the quote. Consider each sentence. Notice what you are thinking, feeling, and knowing.

Now recall a time when you experienced wisdom resonating, or activating, or growing, or awakening in you. Was it like an ah-ha? Was it an intuitive knowing? What was it like? Have you ever heard or felt an inner “Yes” or “No” or other instruction?

We all have valuable wisdom stories. Perhaps just one or a few seem significant to you. Maybe many do. If you feel inclined to share one, please do. I’d love to hear from you.

With love and appreciation,
Charlene

INSPIRATION FROM MOTHER TERESA

“I am a little pencil in the hand of God writing a love letter to the world.” 

           ~ Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa often spoke of herself as a little pencil, so there are variations of this quote, including one that says we are all little pencils in the hand of God. I love the image and symbolism of us being instruments of the Creator.

This pencil metaphor came up recently while I was replying to a touchstone friend. Suddenly I pictured a fountain pen and felt a rush of joy. I remembered how much I loved using a fountain pen in the upper grades of elementary school. It could be messy. I often had ink stains on my hands. But oh how pretty the writing looked when I used peacock blue ink. So, for me, the pencil metaphor becomes stronger when I think of us as fountain pens. The ink flowing through the pen is an apt symbol for Love flowing through us and out to the world. The messiness works for me too. I mess up. We all do. But we’re all so beautiful too. Inside we’re brighter than peacock blue.

Perhaps you would prefer to think of yourself as a ball point pen or a crayon or not a writing implement at all. Maybe you’d rather be likened to a paint brush, or a carving chisel, or a drum, a harp, a horn, or a bell. The possibilities are nearly endless. If you know the instrument that works best for you, please let me know. In the meantime, let’s aim, like St. Francis, to be instruments of peace, love, and understanding.

Sincerely,
Charlene