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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

 

 

 

 

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

HOW TO WALK, TALK, LIVE, AND LOVE: AN ODE TO NATURE

“Walk like a lion, talk like pigeons, live like elephants, and love like an infant child.”                                                                                                                  ~ Santosh Kalwar     

“Be fearless,” the quote begins.
Breath and bring out the best of you,

It’s easy to picture walking like a lion:
proudly, with confident grace.
I understand loving like an infant child
and laughing with joy like a toddler,
An elephant? She too loves in a way that’s good to follow,
quite like the child but
 more deeply than freely.
Remember well; forgive easily;
and stick together the women and children do.
I’m familiar with pidgin talk but not pigeon talk.
I’ve heard them coo and sort of warble.
I’ve heard they can carry and deliver messages.
That’s a valuable thing too.

There’s strength and beauty in all creation.

And it’s smart for us to look for it,
and wise for us to see it
in ourselves and all others.
When fear is present,
take deep breaths,
stretch tall,
be brave,
and be you.

Know that you have all that you need.

With faith,
Charlene  

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 

 

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

DO YOU KNOW HOW VALUABLE AND VALUED YOU ARE?

                             

“Promise me you’ll always remember:
you’re braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think,” 
said Christopher Robin
to his best friend, Pooh.

I now wish
to say the same thing to you. 
You’re also more beautiful
than you know
and more talented too.
You’re all this and more.
If only you knew,
you’d feel light, bright, and shiny
like a penny brand new.
May the love in your heart
help you know
this message is honest
and really true.

I believe, do you?
Charlene

HOW DO WE FIND AND GROW OUR INNER WEALTH?

 

 

“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. 

Happy hunting!

With love,
Charlene

 

 

 

 

 

 

With joy,
Charlene

THE TWELVE GIFTS PATH TO WELLNESS

 

 

 

 

 

“My own path towards wellness has been a long and dynamic one. It’s taught me that healing from the inside out takes time and there can be great value in various sources of guidance.”      – Carre Otis

What is your path like? What does it include?

Mine follows a trail through hope and faith while tapping into strength and courage; applying lots of kindness and self-compassion; daily doses of joy; appreciating beauty in many forms; time in nature…and more…including prayer; meditation; inspirational reading; savoring scents, sights, sounds and tastes…touch too…as in dry body brushing, gentle massage, warm salted and essential-oil-scented baths and Reiki treatments; visualization…that’s a major one! Do you visualize the outcomes you desire? What promotes well-being for you? What helps you heal? I’d love to hear from you! 

(This photo was taken by me while walking on a path near our home when my husband and I lived in Sedona, Arizona. I was healing from lymphoma at the time. Along with standard medical chemotherapy, I did “apply” daily doses of The Twelve Gifts. Love, joy, beauty, hope, faith, compassion..they all promote healing and well-being.)

FEAR: HERE’S A WAY TO LET IT BE AND LET IT GO

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt 

“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you.” – Soledad O’Brien

“If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

FEAR. We all experience it. Whatever the cause, fear limits our ability to face the challenge and address the issue.  So it’s wise to release fear. Not resist it, deny it, or stifle it, but let it be and then let it go.  Here’s a simple tool you may wish to try the next time you feel fear for any reason. All you need is an ice cube, something to hold it – I like to use a clear custard cup – just a few minutes of your time, and sincere intention.

ICE CUBE RITUAL

Upon waking or before you begin your work day, remove an ice cube from your freezer and place it in a cup, saucer, or bowl. Set the container in a place where it will remain undisturbed.

See the ice cube as representing fear, your own fear in all the ways it shows up, as well as fear in the world. You may wish to use a cube for each fear you identify.  Silently or out loud say, “This represents fear. I am willing to allow my feelings of fear to soften and melt away today.” Go about your day.

Later in the day, bring your attention again to the container. Notice the water now in the liquid state. See it as representing fear transformed. In your own way, bless the water. Use this water to nourish a plant in your home. Or, go outdoors and pour it onto a place where, symbolizing your intention of contributing to healing on Earth, this modicum of water can nourish some living thing.

Of course, it is not always this easy. But sometimes it is. And nearly always it is at least a start. I learned this when I faced a life-threatening illness. Since you may appreciate the story behind my Ice Cube Ritual, I am sharing it here.

FACING CANCER

In September of 2000, I was diagnosed with a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for which present-day medicine says there is no cure. When I learned that cancer cells were growing in lymph nodes in my throat and abdomen and in my bone marrow, I felt as if I had been spun around and punched in the stomach. For several days I could digest only small bits of medical information at a time. I glanced at diagrams of mutant lymph cells then quickly looked away. Like most cancer patients, I experienced many emotions. At first I felt frozen with fear. I mourned the lost health I had taken for granted. Then I became determined to heal. 

The metaphor of waging war with cancer is useful for some patients, but I did not want to hold a violent attitude toward my body nor hate any part of it. I didn’t want to fight cancer, but without a doubt I was determined to release it from my system.   

I sensed that my cancer diagnosis was a call to love my whole self more and to better appreciate the trillions of healthy cells that were living in harmony with one another.  Along with treatments with a biologic agent (Rituxan) and standard chemotherapy (CHOP), I used many complementary therapies, including meditation and visualization, which relaxed and empowered me. I drank large quantities of purified water; ate nutritiously; and further nourished my cells with music, aromatherapy, and therapeutic touch. I prayed, watched funny movies and read spiritual stories.  During that time, I was also inspired to write a fable. It became The Twelve Gifts for Healing, a story about an ailing woman who journeys to seek healing wisdom from a wise woman named Mater. Like those women, everyday I recited twelve specific blessings for myself and all others.  One of them was “May you allow fear to soften and melt away.” I was inspired to act out the intention by witnessing the simple, inevitable melting of an ice cube at room temperature.   

So I went to my kitchen, opened the freezer and removed one ice cube. For a moment I cradled it in the palm of my hand. I let it rest there and noticed the chill on my skin. Gently, I placed it in a saucer and centered it on the table.  Later I returned to see and appreciate the ice cube’s transformation to water.  

Hundreds of times since then, I have repeated this ritual, whenever fear shows up about cancer or a situation in my family or global warming or tension in the world or anything at all. You may wish to try this ritual yourself whenever you feel fear about health, relationships, finances – anything in your personal world or in the world at large.    

In September 2001, after the completion of chemotherapy, CT scans and a bone marrow biopsy revealed no evidence of cancer.
            
I would not have consciously chosen cancer as a teacher, but I appreciate the valuable lessons it offered.

I guess I needed to learn more because I faced cancer again in another form. In May of 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Both cancer adventures led me to look deeper into many things, especially about nurturing and using our inherent gifts of strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, talent, imagination, reverence, wisdom, love and faith for healing. I discovered a lot but there’s so much more for me to learn, for all of us I think, about the inner resources we all have.

One of my favorite quotes conveys a sense of what’s possible when we begin to realize these gifts: 

“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin