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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

 

 

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

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                             

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

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

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

“It’s a paradox: When we have been sick, we appreciate health; when we make up after a fight, we rediscover friendship; when we are close to death, we love life.” ~Piero Ferrucci

Consider what happens in the aftermath of tragedies. We experience increases of tenderness, kindness, hope, love, and helpfulness. There’s a greater sense of pulling together, a desire to build unity, and gratitude for the good things in life.

Why does it take a shock to call forth these resources from the depths in us?  Why do they go dormant again? 

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I can imagine what life would be like if we practiced gratitude, kindness, and helpfulness every day.

Let’s keep it simple and simply be kind to everyone we encounter as we celebrate the good things in life and Life Itself.

With joy,
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