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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

 

 

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: SOMETIMES IT’S JUST ONE THING

“What you manage to do today will be enough.” ~ Kate Allan

This quote reminds me of a lesson I learned from a woman with whom I once shared a car service ride from Sedona, AZ to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix.

I like to strike up conversations with so-called strangers and see how long it takes for us to feel the friendship that seems to have always been there for us. Do you know what I mean?*

I learned a lot from that particular woman and think of her often. The main take-away was: Don’t overdo. Don’t put so many things on your To-Do List that you never complete them that day so some are carried over to the next day and the next and the next.

As a result of suffering serious consequences from intense over-doing, she learned to write just one thing in the big box for each day on her desk calendar. She liked seeing space around each To-Do. It made her feel spacious inside herself and outside in her life. She usually did more than that one thing, but the commitment to just one thing each day changed her life and how she lived it, making her healthier and happier.

Maybe you feel you don’t have enough to do now, in the midst of this pandemic.

But I hope we’ll each find our own healthy “enough” while taking good care during this time of uncertainties, changes, and challenges.

If, during this time, you have made an adjustment that’s helped your well-being, I encourage you to share your motivational words in a comment here. Thank you!

In the meantime, take care!

With love,
Charlene

* No matter who you are or where you are, I believe this long-term friendship sensation would happen for us too. It already exists for some of us. If you would like to join a virtual gathering to connect with me and others from this group, watch for posts inviting you to a virtual garden party. More information about gatherings in the garden will follow this.

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

ASKING FOR GRACE

“Grace finds beauty
In everything
Grace finds goodness in everything.” ~ U2

Beautiful and true.
We can do this too,
find beauty and goodness,
in everything, with grace.
Grace can also help us forgive and find peace and joy. And grace may not be listed among the top 50 motivational words, but when we open ourselves to grace, I see us motivated and helped with our outer goals as well as in our souls.

Asking,
Charlene

LET NATURE GIVE YOU DAILY INSPIRATION

A Wave upon a Beach for daily inspiration “We have to support the beauty, the poetry, of life.” ~ Jonas Mekas
 
What a difference it would make if we could let nature give us daily inspiration. Surely within us there would be more peace. Among us there would be more harmony if we sauntered along sandy beaches, toured through rich gardens or hiked Red Rock trails, smelled juniper and mesquite, and admired cyan-blue sky. What If we could stroll through sunny meadows or meander through shady forests?
 
Instead of remaining angry, instead of feeding fear, in some way, let’s let the natural world soothe us, heal us, and guide us toward peace, harmony, and respect for all people and all creation.
 
We may see a lot that disturbs us, but much more love and hope and courage and compassion is happening in the world now. Let’s look for that. Let’s share news of that. Let’s be a part of that. And if we can’t be near nature in some vast form, let’s bring in a houseplant, watch birds, and smell the freshness of a lemon. Seriously, there is always a way to find a little blossom and connect to it.

With hope,
Charlene

The Twelve Gifts from the Garden book
We can also receive daily inspirations from quotes, reflections, and stories about nature.
My forthcoming book, The Twelve Gifts from the Garden: Life Lessons for Peace and Well-Being
is filled with them. Arriving September 15, you can pre-order it now,    https://tinyurl.com/yxhoa5tr
If you liked Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, The Twelve Gifts from the Garden is very similar, with flowers and trees on Sanibel Island stirring the stories instead of shells on Florida’s sister island, Captiva. Reeve Lindbergh, daughter of Anne and Charles Lindbergh and author of Two Lives, says this about The Twelve Gifts from the Garden:

In this lovely, thoughtful series of meditations on what the author calls the “simple-yet-sacred” moments of our lives, Charlene Costanzo calls upon the beauty of the natural world outside ourselves as well as the quiet wisdom that lies within us, offering strength and healing. This book is a gift of peace and comfort for all readers.

Other advance readers agree that this book will have a prominent place among inspirational gifts and best friend gift ideas and say things like:

 “There is so much to learn from nature and Charlene ties it all together beautifully .
   I didn’t want the book to end and I know I will read it again and again.” – Adrienne Falzone, author, The Search for the Perfect Shell and other children’s books.

“The Twelve Gifts from the Garden is a joyful read bursting with the beauty of nature and reflections of lessons learned in life.  I have been a fan of Charlene Costanzo’s daily emails and books for many years.  Most mornings reading her reflections give me goosebumps because they are like having a cup of coffee with God.  They are what I would imagine God would be saying to me in that moment because Charlene’s reflections were inline with what I prayed the night before.  This is a wonderful book to gift yourself and others!  – Gina La Benz, author of Anchor Moments:  Hope, Healing, and Forgiveness

“From the very first paragraph, I felt my spirit stirred—like when you don’t know how thirsty you are until that first sip of cool water. Instantly, I was transported to an enchanted island to experience insightful gifts alongside the author. Her prose is as soothing as the scenes she describes. Charlene will renew your wonder and gratitude for our beautiful earth, and the gifts and lessons available to us all when we’re mindfully watching.” – Angela Howell, author of Finding the Gift: Daily Meditations for Mindfulness


“Just as the waves of the sea ebb and flow, so do the currents of our lives. Charlene Costanzo’s
The Twelve Gifts from the Garden, with its stunning imagery and poignant recollections, reminds us to savor the pleasures and discoveries of the day, the healing power of nature, and the joy of connection — to oneself and others.” Maryann Ridini Spencer, award-winning screenwriter and bestselling author of Lady in the Window and The Paradise Table

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

A WISDOM LESSON FROM TWO VERY DIFFERENT UNCLES: DON’T COMPARE

Way back when my daughters were in elementary school, more than 30 years ago, I noticed a difference in the way one of my husband’s uncles and one of my uncles treated the children in our families. My uncle, Ray, paid attention to what children said. He really listened. You could tell by the questions he asked. He also genuinely enjoyed playing board games and engaging in contests with them. He watched as they did magic tricks, twirled a baton, and performed other skills they were learning. My husband’s uncle, Spike, did not relate as well to children. In fact, sometimes he was dismissive and gruff toward them.  So I judged him in this regard as “not good enough.”

One summer day we had a serious plumbing problem in our home. The basement in our century-old Victorian farmhouse was filling with sewage back-up. As soon as he heard about it, Uncle Spike showed up in hip boots, prepared to help drain and clean the basement. He showed no reluctance or reservation about dealing with the mess and the stench. Again, I compared the uncles. What I saw led me closer to accepting and appreciating people as they are. While my Uncle Ray was great with kids, he could not fix a thing and he would not have been willing to enter that basement and try. The memory of Uncle Spike in his hip boots reminds me that we all have different personalities and skill sets. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We’re all doing our best. And we’re all still learning. 

I included this story in Touchstones: Stories for Living The Twelve Gifts, which was published in 2012. I’m posting it here and now, in part, because my Aunt Angie, my last relative from my parents’ generation, died last month. I almost didn’t go to the funeral because it required a lot of travel. But when I thought of all the love and lasting life lessons I received from her and from all the aunts, uncles, and grandparents in both my family and my husband’s–as well as from our parents–I knew I had to attend to honor them all and to be with all my cousins as we step up to be the elder generation. I hope that the way I live my life leaves some lasting life lessons on the children in the generations coming up behind us, especially the lesson to love and appreciate one another without comparisons and judgments. I also want them to know that the practice of this principle should not be limited to family, nor to just family and friends. It’s a wise and powerful lesson for all to be applied to all. 

For peace,
Charlene

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

PEOPLE ARE BORN WITH BASIC GOODNESS

“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.” – Anne Frank

The story below demonstrates that “people are just people.” It’s also an example of basic human goodness and dignity. The gifts of reverence, compassion, and hope too. As Alan Cohen said, “Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters… Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation.” 

My friend, Kathy, and I had just began an early morning beach walk before class at the University of Santa Monica. She and I were graduate students there. We hadn’t walked far when Kathy stopped and held her stomach. “I think I’m going to be sick,” she said. She looked like she might faint too. I knew she had just started taking a bunch of vitamins and had taken them on an empty stomach that morning. With her leaning on me, we slowly made our way toward the shade under the Santa Monica Pier.

There was a man under the pier. I had noticed him as we approached. He looked like he had spent the night there, actually many nights. I avoided making eye contact.  

Once there, sure enough, Kathy was sick. Neither of us had water or a tissue.

Tenuously, the homeless man approached us. “I don’t have any water but you’re welcome to what I have,” he said, holding up a bag wrapped around a bottle of amber liquid.
He was sincere and kind, gentlemanly and generous.

In an instant, that man, and the whole situation of Kathy sick under the pier, went from ugly to beautiful and from scared to sacred. There was nothing “other” about him. Nothing offensive. Nothing frightening. There was nothing to judge. He was one of us, three people with basic goodness who happened to be under the pier at the same time.

With love, gratitude, and joy,
Charlene     

 

FINDER’S KEEPERS OR LOST AND FOUND

 

 

“Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” ~  Bryant H. McGill

Several of my recent Touchstones have been about letting go of excess stuff – material things and emotional upsets. As often happens, I soon got to experience the topic I was writing about. I was put to the test. Well, as Terry Brooks and others say, “We are constantly being put to the test.” So what happened? And how did I do? you might ask.

After finding a few nice deals in a discount store, I carried my bag of purchases into the neighboring department store, which was extremely busy. In the crowd confusion, I somehow lost my bag from the previous store. Retracing my steps, searching the store, and checking with the staff were all unsuccessful. And at the end of the day nothing had been turned into lost and found.

Because the items were things I wanted to give to my grandchildren, I felt upset with the loss, upset with myself, and upset with whomever found that bag and kept it. For hours I could not shake my feelings of disappointment, frustration, and judgment. I certainly was not “traveling light” as yesterday’s touchstone prescribed. Finally, I remembered that I could think about it differently and bring myself closer to a state of inner peace. I decided to imagine the delight of a parent and child finding an abandoned bag, opening it, and seeing that it contained some things needed by the child for school. To them it might have seemed like something left by a heavenly or earthly angel. They might have felt extreme gratitude and joy. 

Did this happen? I don’t know. But I decided to reframe the incident and think of myself as being divinely used. I trusted that whomever found “my stuff” needed it more than I did. Shortly thereafter the emotional upset with myself was lifted.
I hope a little girl is happily wearing the oh-so-soft shirt I selected for Alexis.                             
Please know that letting go is not always easy for me.

I’ll be continuing to work on it.
Join me? Let’s see what happens,
especially when we’re tested. 

With love,
Charlene

P.S. – We can rise above circumstances,
be light, delight in life, see the good, and choose peace.