Daily Life, Gratitude, Inspiration, Relationships, Spirit

The Gratitude Season

Starting November 1st I am doing 30 Days of Gratitude.  With all that has happened lately and the holidays coming up this seems timely for me.  And of course here in America it is the Thanksgiving season, so thankfulness, gratitude, appreciation, all of that is blooming.

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How my 30 days looks is like this:  I have  a Facebook  page and I will simply post each evening whatever I am grateful for that day.  In addition I am exchanging a gratitude text with my sister each night and maybe one other friend.  I haven’t heard back from him yet.  I want to do those personal ones because they are both so very important to me and sharing this will only strengthen our bonds.

I haven’t always been grateful, at least actively.  I took so much for granted.  I think that’s just being young.  I felt immortal, I was self absorbed. I was in a rush and the intensity level was high. I had many lessons to learn, one of them has been gratitude.

“I have learned over a period of time to be almost unconsciously grateful–as a child is–for a sunny day, blue water, flowers in a vase, a tree turning red. I have learned to be glad at dawn and when the sky is dark. Only children and a few spiritually evolved people are born to feel gratitude as naturally as they breathe, without even thinking. Most of us come to it step by painful step, to discover that gratitude is a form of acceptance.”
― Faith BaldwinMany Windows, Seasons of the Heart

I have to say I am pretty grateful everyday in all kinds of ways.  The older I am the more grateful I am, and it’s for the simple things. The blue sky, the rain, the changing leaves, a gentle touch, humor, a phone call, a text, a warm bed, food,….I think these were all today.  It has been a process, a Practice actually.  I have had to be conscious of my thoughts.  I have had to look for gratitude.  It did not bloom overnight. But now gratitude comes naturally, every day I am grateful. And I know, and I speak it and I share it.

With gratitude comes calmness, peace, harmony, joy, love, acceptance, all the things I searched for.  I find them through being grateful. And even when times are hard, there is always, always something to be grateful for.  And the more I feed gratitude, the more my life settles into a pattern of Peace, a pattern of Joy.

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

So yes, even though it sounds simplistic be grateful you wake up, start there. Be grateful for the coffee, or the tea, or the hot shower.  You could be grateful for 10 things first thing in the morning.  It does not always have to be the big stuff, small stuff matters.  Because the little things, those are the things that make up our life.  And when we have a pattern of gratefulness for the small things, when something big arrives, whether it looks like trouble or not, you can move easily and gracefully into gratitude.  It will be your “go to” place. Because all of our lessons are not easy.  Sometimes they are scary, hard, sad, confusing, even then stay in gratitude, It will bring you through with ease and grace.

I invite you to join me in 30 Days of Gratitude. Do it your way, whatever feels good to you. Write it down, whisper it to the sky, share with friends, have it be the voice of your heart.  There are no rules, you decide. Do one a day, three a day, whatever works. Say thank you.  You don’t have to believe in a certain God for this, you could say thank you to yourself. You could thank you to Universal Energy, you could say thank you to the Trees, you could say thank you to Father Time, Mother Nature.  It doesn’t matter, because this is for you, to make your life better, do it your way.  But do it. It is the path to Peace and Joy.

And for today, I am grateful to be sharing myself with you………

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Daily Life, Inspiration, Relationships, Self

A Little on Forgiveness

Forgiveness, if that is not key to living a beautiful life I don’t know what is.  For me, growing up, forgiveness always came from others.  I looked for forgiveness from others.  I was taught that way.  So whatever I did wrong it could not be made right until someone forgave me for it.  Forgiving myself was never mentioned.  And in turn, I could forgive others for whatever they did.  Say “I am sorry”, “Its okay, I forgive you”, how many times did we hear those things?  And I am not faulting my parents, they doing their best to raise a good girl. Basing my sense of self on whether someone did or did not forgive me gave away  my autonomy.  Of course when raising a “good girl” that may have been a goal.

But now I am grown and everything I knew when I was young had to be looked again.

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

-Buddha

Forgiving someone, in the traditional “I forgive you” sense,  holds a certain power over the person.  It is a control issue,  Without someone’s forgiveness a wrong I have done is held over my head.  I cannot move on, because they don’t forgive me, they are still mad.  It is like holding a little piece of me hostage.  Same if I am holding out on forgiveness for someone else.  I am still mad at you, you can’t be happy.  I need you to feel bad until I am done being mad, and then I will forgive you.  Like I get to decide when you can be happy.  We see this all the time in relationships of all kinds.

It’s time to let those games go. That takes forgiveness and warps its true beauty and intent. Over and over these past years I have seen how forgiving is really about setting myself free. Its never really about the other person. I think the first time it really came home to me was in a relationship that had blown up.  You know, he done me wrong. And I was mad, for a long time. And I suffered.  And somehow in my little brain I thought he was suffering too.  I was mad at him, I did not forgive him, he must be miserable.  And then one day I ran into him, and he was fine. Not miserable, not suffering, fine. And I realized he did not need  my forgiveness to move forward.  I was the only one walking around with anger and hurt, holding on to those uncomfortable feelings.  Now whether he forgave himself, or simply never thought he was wrong, I don’t know. But he moved forward to live happy.  So I had to look at that.

Now over and over I have learned how forgiving really releases me from the situation.  Its not about condoning bad behavior.  Its not about saying it is okay.  We never have to accept that for ourselves or anyone. It is about not holding on to the anger that only poisons us. What do I  want in my body?  How do i want to feel?  I get to decide that.  Because really, if I am mad at you and holding on to that then I am the only one effected by my thoughts and feelings.  If you truly forgive yourself for your part, you do not need my forgiveness.  And when I can forgive myself for my wrongs, I am free.

A CSL minister whose name escapes me said “If I see you and I do not smile, I have work to do”

Another friend said just the other day “when I wake in the morning I think, who do I have to forgive today”.

This is all about setting ourselves free.  Free from holding on to unpleasant, uncomfortable and unhealthy feelings. Free from the false belief that we can (or need) to control others by bestowing or withholding our forgiveness.  It is hard enough to move through all of these thought and emotions that make up our lives without taking on someone else’s.

So what do you think? What anger can you let go of so your life can move forward.  Where can you forgive to free yourself?  It is never about them, it is always about you.  Remember that, they will move forward and your forgiveness it not needed for them, but it is needed for you.  Let us live happy, let us live free, let us forgive.

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Daily Life, Inspiration, Relationships, Self

A Box of Darkness

box of darknessMy friend posted this today.  I have posted this sentiment on Facebook myself in the past.  I have had conversations around it. I guess its time to write about it.

A box of darkness, when I hear this, I think of my Mom.  My mom was really dark. She was angry, and sad, and bitter, and all closed up.  And yet she yearned for love, for connection.  It all goes back to her childhood and never feeling loved, wanted, accepted.  I know all of this because she told me, many times. She spoke of her abuse and I know she left much out in that area.  But I can put together the pieces.  It was not good.

So as grown woman having a relationship with my mom there were a lot of challenges. She lived 15 years after my dad died and our lives became more intertwined. As she grew older she isolated herself more, the anger, the bitterness grew.  I tried to take it on.  I tried to help her out of the dark place. I would suggest friends, activities, all kinds of things.  She would shut that down fast, always a reason to not partake.  We would spend time together but the quality suffered.  I finally accepted her terms letting her be., It was better for our relationship which I did not want to lose.

I could not  fill the void that my dad had left, no one could.  He stood between her and the world. I am not sure if he protected her, I think it was more he protected the world from her.  By the end of her life she had pretty isolated herself from her family and friends. She did not talk to her mom or her brother. The only ones left were myself, my son, my sister and her husband.  One by one mom shut everyone down. It was a big box of darkness.

So how can a box of darkness be a gift?   She trusted me, she loved me, she shared that scary part of herself knowing she was safe.  That is a gift. Knowing that someone can survive child abuse and move on to fiercely love her children is a gift. Because she gave me entry to her box of darkness I am more compassionate.  I can see that humans are fragile and yet incredibly strong.  I can see that even in the darkness there was beauty, there was song, there was laughter, there was love.

When I see darkness in someone I can handle that.  I am not afraid of it.  I don’t need them to hide it from me.  I am strong enough in my light to shine on your darkness. My mom taught me that.  Because if I could love her though all of that, I am good with loving you. That also, was a gift.

And I can see how very hard it is to share your darkness, to take that step.  We all have darkness. We all have those spots of anger, fear, sadness, shame.  That is our balance for the light.  How could you see the light without the dark to contrast.  My mom sharing her darkness makes me less afraid of my own.  I know I can survive the dark thoughts, the doubts, the demons.  I don’t have to feed them, but I don’t deny them either. I am a human female with all kinds of facets, I have to embrace that and love myself through it.

So yes,” someone once gave me a box of darkness and it took me years to understand that too was a gift.”. Perhaps more than light this gift brought me growth, understanding, compassion, and ultimately peace. There is no struggle to pretend,  I don’t have to hide my darkness.  But I don’t feed it either. Sometimes i am sad, scared, lonely. I look at the world and the horrible things humans do each other and I feel hopeless and angry. And it is okay to feel that. I know without a doubt even in the darkness there is Love, Light, Life, Peace, Power, Beauty and Joy.  And those are the things that I feed.

Thank you Mom, Namaste

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Daily Life, Relationships, Self

Looking in the Mirrors

A new person has appeared in my life and he is bringing up sorts of mirrors for me.  This is a work situation and I have no control over how much time I have to spend around him. Its been about 6 weeks now and it is not good.  I could go on and on about him and his irritants and faults, which are real, but is not really about him is it?  So lets leave him out of this.

I don’t like who I am around him.  I tried for weeks to blame him. And to be honest and fair to myself a lot of what I am feeling is really valid.  He lies, he manipulates, he evades, I don’t have much respect for his lifestyle.  All of this is true. But really who cares, he will be gone from my life at some point, that is a given.

For whatever reason the Universe has placed him on my path.  So there must a lesson here.  Just realizing and accepting that is freeing for me. I don’t have to fix him or the situation, that is not my responsibility.  But I can learn. I can look at myself through what he shows me.  He is a mirror for me.  I can figure why he triggers such a bitch response from me.  Because I am cutting him no slack, none.  And at this point I am hyper aware of any missteps from him and I respond quickly and without mercy. I am mean. And that is not really me.

So what is this? I know a huge part of it is my response to a male trying to come in and manipulate and control me.  I do not want to work it out, I do not want to come to an understanding. I do not want to compromise, I want to win. This keeps coming up for me.  I have to deal with this.  And now the Universe has put it in my face 40 hours a week.

I like men, I love men.  One of my best friends is a man.  My lover is a man.  I am comfortable with men, I enjoy them. But as soon as I feel disrespected or manipulated or controlled the claws come out. And with women I try harder, I am softer, I look at both sides.

But this harshness in me, I don’t like it. It’s not healthy.  How can I fix this? Well I can recognize it. I can step back and slow my reactions. I can see he is just a mirror for me to work on my issues.  I don’t want to spend my time in bitterness or anger.  I have to learn to separate my sense of self from how he treats me.  I have to give up control of the situation.  If he fools everyone for awhile, well I guess that is their mirror.  I am done reacting like a puppet and he pulling the strings, taking way too much of my energy.

I don’t have to fix anyone but me.  Actually I can’t, your road is your road and my path is my own. So next week when I go to work I will try so hard to have a different mindset.  To not see him as anything but a mirror for me to learn and grow from. Perhaps I can come out of this situation with a better sense of how to handle myself when a man tries to control me.  To look at him with eyes that see a person who is probably in pain and fear and does not have the emotional tools to let down the walls.

Because really we are all just humans trying to find some love and compassion.  Some safety, understanding and connection. I am not interested in connecting past co-workers with this man, but I would like to spend my day in grace and ease.  I know that starts with me. I can control my reactions, I can control where I spend my thoughts.  It is up to me which wolf I feed.  I know it won’t be easy. I know he pushes my buttons, but my job is figure why, use the teachings around that and go out in the world open, available and with love.

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Daily Life, Inspiration, Spirit

Seva, Selfless Service

” The idea of selfless service (seva also sewa) is an important concept in most Indian religions and yogic traditions. Because God is perceived as having a relationship with others, as well as oneself, serving other people is considered an essential devotional practice of indirectly serving God. Service to make life easier for others”

Seva, a concept of service I learned at my church and has actually been serving me lately.  I have found myself in the position frequently the last few months of needing to serve others.  Of needing to put another’s needs in front of mine, of needing to (while not quite sacrifice) at least, put someone else’s problems in front of my own pleasures.

The most recent one occurred this last weekend.  My son had some car problems during the week which I tried to help him and I ended up just lending my truck to him, essentially leaving myself walking or staying home.  His needs were just more urgent than mine.  If you have been following you know I done much to help my sister and family these last couple of months.   And recently some almost resentment has crept in.

Now I am human and no angel and certainly not a martyr.  I like to take care of myself and make sure I have what I need to enjoy my days.  But I also love my people and want to help them.  There are fine lines and sometimes they get blurred.  I started to go to a place that stopped the easy flow of giving and turn it into something forced or resented.

Then I remembered Seva, selfless service.  And that was a gift for me.  I was able to step back into service because I started using it as a path to Spirit.  And everything changed.  My attitude changed,  life became easier, I had more joy, and the service I am  giving has more impact.  By removing any thoughts of resentment, stress or selfishness I am able to give with Love.  And what is given with Love can be received with Love.  The action, the service, will flow easily into good and all parties benefit.   And I am blessed with serving God.  Because anything I do for any being, I do for the The Beloved.

So the next time you are called step into Seva.  It changes everything.  You get to have a Spiritual experience and help someone all in the same moment. Isn’t that why we are here?

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