Monday, November 30, 2020

November 30--Good Giving and Receiving Habits

The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.  --Walt Whitman

    We have reached the end of November and its theme of kindness. I am so blessed to have kindness first thing each morning when my husband brings me a cup of steaming fresh coffee and my angel dog Barney to enjoy while I write.
    I listened to a talk yesterday by a minister friend on the topic of giving and receiving. Both are essential, just as the inhale and exhale of breath are. We cannot give if there is no one to receive. As Whitman says, when we make giving a habit, we want to do more of it. It feels good. But the circulation, the complete flow, requires a gracious receiver. 
    I love to give, but I have a couple of pet peeves relative to receivers. One is when I offer a compliment, and the recipient diminishes it rather than simply saying "thank you." For example, "I really like how you've decorated this room," and the reply, "Oh, it's just some stuff I picked up at the thrift store." Another is the "now I'll have to get even" mentality. That's when, given a gift, the recipient mentally notes the need to return an item of similar value, in order to keep the relationship balanced. I can register this in their personal vibes, and it's annoying. It diminishes any gift and the love behind it. 
    Another of my pet peeves is the hostess gift. If I invite you to my home, please don't bring me stuff, no matter how well-intentioned. I don't need more stuff, and those gifts feel as though they are given in obligation, to be a "good guest." If I invite you, I know you will be a good guest. You don't need to give me stuff to prove it. The only exceptions to this are chocolate or Nifty Nut goodies. 😉😉 Just kidding.
    Give thoughtfully, receive graciously.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

November 29--Let It Flow

Love yourself and then learn to extend that love to others in every encounter. 
--Oprah Winfrey

    One of the ways to love yourself is to consciously recognize your accomplishments, no matter how small. I've learned to do this relative to cleaning house. I dislike doing it so much that I have to at least give myself a mental pat on the back for anything I do along those lines. So in the spirit of giving myself some recognition, this past Friday I completed 100 miles of lap swimming in 2020, and I have now done that for 23 years in a row. And yes, I'm a numbers nerd, and I keep track of my laps in a spreadsheet. I am grateful for the self-discipline, for my body, and for my family support and encouragement. 
    Loving yourself is not necessarily an easy prospect in a society that seems to always be pointing out what's wrong with us. Being an addict, and seeing how rampant addiction is in our society, I know that non-recovering addicts tend toward self-loathing, so there's not much love to extend to others. It took a 12-Step program and learning a successful way of living for me to begin to develop a sense of appreciation for myself. That was the beginning of being able to extend genuine love to others. 
    I do believe that people are good, and there is plenty of love in our world. Each of us, each day, extending love to someone does make a difference. It's a matter of staying focused on what we want more of, and who doesn't want more love in our world? Love is our very essence, so let it flow, shall we?

Saturday, November 28, 2020

November 28--Send 'Em Away Happy

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.  --Mother Teresa

    What a great way to spread kindness... for every single person we encounter, do something that makes them happier. That may simply be a smile and friendly greeting, a hug, or words of appreciation or encouragement. Ask if they could use some help and provide that help. Folks need to be heard, so listening is a very loving skill. Surprise a friend with a gift without an occasion. Acknowledge birthdays. Say "I love you" a lot to those most dear to your heart.
    Having had our dog Barney for almost a year, we have on our many walks come to know other dogs and owners in our neighborhood. There is a comical phenomenon with dog owners--we learn the other dog's name, say "Cooper," and the owner becomes "Cooper's dad." We don't actually learn the owner's name. I'm "Barney's mom." (Dean Koontz, very famous author, describes this phenomenon in his book about his dog, Trixie. I highly recommend the book, "A Big Little Life.") Dog owners share their joy in each of these encounters, the dogs usually sniff each other as dogs do, and everyone moves along happier. 
    We have been blessed in this odd year of 2020 to have the opportunity to recognize and really appreciate the simple pleasures of life. The random encounter with neighbors that we used to take for granted are now a precious chance to greet another human outside the home. Sending hand-written notes has become, for me, more of a treat than an obligation. Receiving them is an even greater treat. I am profoundly grateful for the technology that enables me to connect with so many friends and loved ones online--an excellent way to leave all participants happier. 
    Spreading love leaves both the giver and receiver feeling better. Good stuff!

Friday, November 27, 2020

November 27--This is a Biggie

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves--the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.  --Thomas Merton

    It seems that we have so much trouble just being ourselves that of course, it's a challenge to let others be "perfectly themselves." There is always something to improve in us, and we then project that onto others. The concept that I should stay out of other folks' business was not one I was raised with. Having a practicing codependent perfectionist for a mom taught me that if I knew better, I should do better, and you should, too. 
    It was in the 12-Step program in my early 30s that I was introduced to the Serenity Prayer (which I have modified slightly): God grants me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I learned in program that I am the only one I can change and (drum roll), I don't have to worry about anyone else. Really!?!?! Holy cow, that simplifies life! The relief I felt was staggering, and I still carry that lightness with me today. And yes, it was the "beginning of love" for me. 
    If you have children, then you have been blessed with the opportunity "to let those we love be perfectly themselves." We guide, guard and direct them in the ways of a successful human life, and magically, a unique person develops. After such intense connection in the childhood years, it can be quite a challenge to let go. This I know. As parents and older adults, we've been there, made the mistakes, would love to give advice on how to do, be and have. It truly is love to let them go, support steadfastly, and allow them to figure out for themselves who they are and how they want to be in this world. 
    Less advice makes for better relationships. 😉😉

Thursday, November 26, 2020

November 26--Gentle Caring

We find greater lightness and ease in our lives as we increasingly care for ourselves and other beings.  --Sharon Salzberg

    I was presented the idea recently of writing a letter of appreciation to one's body. For someone who has health issues or whose body is not serving him well, this may seem like a completely wacko idea. I've been there. However, if one is alive right now, it's because the body is doing a lot of things right, and that is worthy of great thanksgiving. I've been blessed with years of yoga practice and teaching, wherein the emphasis is always on appreciating what the body can do, not on its limitations. The human body is an infinite mystery--no matter how much science discovers, there is still so much more to learn. A good relationship with one's body does make for lightness and ease in life. 
    Caring for other beings... not only other humans, but animal and plant life, too. It is frightening and disheartening what humans are doing to our beautiful planet. Reversing this damaging path would bring much lightness and ease to our lives and contribute significantly to our health and ultimately, our survival. While it's a huge job for one person to save the planet, it's an easy job to care for a pet. Caring for our dog Barney has definitely brought lightness and ease to our lives, as well as laughter, exercise and learning. The sleepy boy lying peacefully beside me always elicits a smile from me. His enthusiasm for a W-A-L-K never wanes. He simply loves, and it magnifies the love in our house. Pure joy!
    Wishing all a joyful Thanksgiving Day,

Barney, the wonder dog

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

November 25--Becoming Better

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. 
--Paulo Coelho

    I had a discussion recently regarding this pandemic time and the proper word to describe our living through it. Is the goal "enduring" it or actually "thriving" through it? We can choose either. Enduring feels like a struggle, slogging through, even putting life somewhat "on hold" till some nebulous point in the future. Enduring is hard.
    Thriving, on the other hand, feels good. One key to thriving is to love, as today's quote states. This pandemic time is an excellent one to strive to become better than we have been. Love gives us the impetus to create new ways to be in the world, new ways to connect, to have fun, to enrich the relationships we are blessed to have. Each individual seeking to thrive uplifts us all. 
    Alas, given how much "new and strange" has confronted us this year, life is bound to be some combination of enduring and thriving. Some days, some things, we just have to hunker down and get through. I think it's important to remember that we always have a choice to focus on thriving and loving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

November 24--Whole Heart

The dedicated life is the life worth living. You must give with your whole heart. 
--Annie Dillard

    I think it would be great if we all paid more attention to what we really want to be doing, and saying a gentle but firm "no" when the request is not something wherein we can engage the whole heart. Spiritual teacher Edwene Gaines wisely stated, "If you are doing something you don't really want to be doing, you are doing someone else's job." Others can easily tell a half-hearted effort because we give off "I don't want to be here doing this" vibes. That situation serves no one, and often leads to resentment. 
    I do a variety of things in my working life, and I love them all. It's easy to give with my whole heart. I've learned through trial and error and many years of living when it's best for me to say "no." Years ago a friend called to ask me to help with Vacation Bible School. She knew me well enough to know my answer, but called anyway. I said, "NO! You know I don't like children!" I'm just not a kid person, and if I had agreed, I'd have been uncomfortable the whole time, which would have been no fun for the kids either. 
    The better we know ourselves, the more able we are to give with whole-heart dedication.
    Practicing life,

Monday, November 23, 2020

November 23--Love is the Only Thing

Let us love, since that is all our hearts were made for.  --St. Therese de Lisieux

    There are myriad people and circumstances in the world today that are really challenging both my willingness and my ability to love. I think nasty thoughts, and I don't like them, for they serve no purpose other than to bring me down. The negativity can feel like being stuck in quicksand. 
    So I turn my focus to what I can love. I love my family and friends, my work, and my home. I love to garden, swim, golf, travel, crochet, and nap. Practicing love enables me to expand it, maybe even just a bit toward those I find difficult to love. It makes my heart feel better, doing what it is made for. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

November 22--Full-time Kind

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.  --Henry James

    Well said. Much distress in our world could be eliminated if we all agreed to make it our mission to be kind, all the time. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

November 21--Why We Do What We Do

One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.  --Lewis Carroll

    Well, yes and no. It is extraordinarily rewarding to be of service to others. That could be caring for one's family, volunteering, having a career in service work, or practicing intentional acts of kindness. Doing for others without expectation of praise or reward is quite the high standard of worthwhile giving. 
    Speaking from personal experience, doing for others can get way out of hand into the realm of people-pleasing. These actions are not so much motivated by love as by the desire to keep the recipient happy and get him/her to like me. People-pleasing tends to be done from a position of low self-esteem and can lead to resentment. It makes for messy, unbalanced relationships.
    It's worthwhile to look carefully at one's motivation in doing for others. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

November 20--Love Eternally Expanding

This is a deep, permanent human condition, this need to be loved and to love. 
--Annie Proulx

    I believe we come from love and ultimately transition back to love. It is the complete and total essence of what we are as spiritual beings. Coming into human form is an opportunity for us to practice love with other humans. With love as our essence, it is only natural that we are driven by it, to give and receive it. While progress may seem painfully slow, I believe the human race is continually moving toward a more loving, caring, compassionate way of being in relationship with each other and our planet home. Truly our survival is at stake. Loving cooperation is a much better alternative than aggression, competition, domination, and violence. 
    I choose love.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

November 19--All Kinds of Beauty

Beauty is a light in the heart.  --Kahlil Gibran

    We are blessed with all kinds of beauty. I have been fortunate to enjoy many varieties in my 65 years and travels around our magnificent planet. There is great art which we see in museums, my favorite places so far being the Art Institute in Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The most beautiful work of art I have ever seen is the statue of David by Michelangelo in Florence, Italy. It is mesmerizing in its perfection and definitely lights up my heart. 
    The natural beauty of planet Earth is astounding in its variety--the Rocky Mountains, the Flint Hills' rolling prairie, our national parks, Niagara Falls, Tuscany, the fjords of Norway, tropical beaches, my home state of Pennsylvania--infinite possibilities. One could easily spend a lifetime devoted to exploring the beauty of our home sphere. 
    Then there is the beauty within each and every single human being, no matter how an individual may look or behave. Spirit is within each of us, and Spirit is only beauty. Each one of us has that Spirit-given light in the heart. 
    Finally I consider the beauty of daily life--living simply, in integrity, enjoying one's activities and relationships, and caring for oneself and others. My husband and I are currently creating beauty in our garage. Yes, you read that correctly. In the all-events-cancelled 2020, we had finally become so desperate for something to do that we have tackled the garage. We've lived in our house for 35 years, and the garage walls have been unfinished the entire time. My husband proposed the idea of fixing it up to be a semi-outdoor hanging place where we can be "outside" in the wintertime and get some fresh air. The prospect of a much-needed clearing in the garage and shed made me game to tackle the project. A trunk-load of stuff went to the hazardous waste collection site. Lots of trash has been carried off by Ballinger Trash Service. Remaining items have been reorganized into smaller spaces. My husband will soon have a more organized and well-lit work space to do his bicycle maintenance projects. So far, the back wall is painted bright green and the side walls are blue. It is beautiful and the sense of accomplishment does light up our hearts. I'm most excited about the blank wall space we now have where I can hang my barn quilts or other pieces of art. We have comfy chairs to relax in and enjoy our efforts. 
    Beauty truly is everywhere--let us open our eyes and hearts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

November 18--In Love

What is done in love is done well. --Vincent Van Gogh

    I think of the many things I love to do: swimming, gardening, golfing, traveling, painting, crocheting, learning, coaching, teaching, tax prep (yes!), writing, organizing, and bringing people together. I feel like I do all those well, with one exception: golfing. I love to play, but it's usually not done so well. I regularly say that my enthusiasm makes up for my lack of skill. 😉😉
    I own a lot of "Life is Good" clothing. It's my favorite to wear. On each garment is a small patch that says, "Do what you love. Love what you do." Each of us operating in love is good for all!

Life is Good "Family Tree" shirt

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

November 17--A Tribute

A good heart is better than all the heads in the world.  --Edward Bulwer-Lytton

    Today would have been the 79th birthday of my sister-in-law, Mary Ellen Miller. She made her transition in 2015 after living many years with Alzheimer's disease. It was a very sad life ending for a magnificent woman with an incredibly good heart. 
    Mary Ellen came into our family at a young age. She grew up in New York, and came each summer as a young child to live with my aunt and uncle through the Fresh Air program. Via Google, I see that this program, founded in 1877, still operates today. The program slogan is "Because a summer can last a lifetime." That certainly proved true for Mary Ellen. It was through these summertime visits that she met my brother Ken. They married in 1965 when I was nine years old. I was thrilled with my new sister-in-law. The marriage was not smooth and easy, however, as Mary Ellen was Catholic and my family was Lutheran. This was such a "bone of contention" back then that Mary Ellen agreed to become a Lutheran to keep the peace. 
    Soon my nephew Kevin was born, followed by three sisters, Cheryl, Judith and Kelly, over the course of seven years. Their family lived at most 12 miles from us, so I spent a lot of time with them, helping Mary Ellen with the kids, and thus beginning my mothering training. With my own home life deteriorating for myriad reasons, being with Mary Ellen and the children was an enormously welcome respite. I could talk with Mary Ellen about things that I didn't feel I could discuss with my parents. I trusted her. She was a saint in my eyes, especially being able to put up with my nasty, volatile and demanding brother. 
    When the children were quite young, Mary Ellen loaded all four into their VW Beetle and drove from central Pennsylvania to Oklahoma to visit her sister. That they all returned home alive is proof of her sainthood. 
    As a young child, I had a favorite blanket, a pale green, quilted, baby-size, satin thing that I slept with covering my pillow. It grew full of holes with time, but I loved it no less. My mom, frustrated at its ugly condition, threw it away several times, and each time I rescued it from the trash. It was a security blanket that I desperately needed given my deteriorating home life. Determined to get it away from me, my mom finally burned it. Trust me--all hell broke loose. Mary Ellen, good heart that she was, recognized my need for some sort of replacement, and gave me Ted Bear (photo below). He is a stuffed koala bear who has been with me ever since, more than five decades. He's a little worn, but still full of love. Every time I look at him, I think of Mary Ellen. Given that my mother died when I was only 23, Mary Ellen filled the role of mother for me for many years to come. What a saving grace, teacher and friend she was!
    I dearly hope you have someone with such a good heart in your life. Please let them know how much you appreciate him or her!

Ted Bear

Monday, November 16, 2020

November 16--Just Do It

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. 
--Oscar Wilde 

    I suspect we all think of considerably more acts of kindness than we actually perform. Calling a friend, writing a note, running an errand, delivering flowers--easy acts that get away from us due to time constraints or procrastination. It is helpful to recall how good it felt to actually do an act of kindness, hopefully inspiring us to do more. 
    Let us not neglect acts of kindness toward ourselves. Certainly here we can have grand intentions, but it is so easy to let others' needs come before our own. Kind acts toward ourselves are nourishing, filling our own cup, so to speak. When we are full, kindness overflows. An empty cup has nothing to share. It is a worthy goal to be as kind to ourselves as we are to our best friend. 
    Have an excellent week, dear readers!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

November 15--"We Still Love You"

You don't love because: you love despite; not for the virtues, but despite the faults. 
--William Faulkner

    One time when a dear friend was hanging up the phone from a conversation with his elderly parents, his dad finished off with "We still love you." WHAT!?!?!?! It was a little baffling, wondering what the rest of the sentence was... "We still love you even though _____________." I guess this is a somewhat comical example of being loved despite the faults!?!?!?
    When we fall in love, we think the other is the bee's knees. Inevitably, as we get to know him/her more intimately, faults appear. Then comes a decision point whether the virtues outweigh the faults--can we continue to love despite the faults? Often, no matter how great the virtues, the faults become just too much to handle. 
    I'm very grateful to be loved despite my faults. It means I can simply enjoy being me (the virtues) without having to be perfect, i.e. faultless. 
    Have a wonderful "warts and all" day!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

November 14--Unconditionally

The ultimate lesson is learning how to love and be loved unconditionally. 
--Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

    It is easy to love the folks that we love. Well, that's mostly true. I love my sons dearly, but that love was frequently challenged during their teenage years. That is where the "unconditional" comes in. Even if I didn't like how they were behaving, I still loved them with all my being. Let's face it--even those we love the most have qualities or behaviors that annoy us, but we are able to love them in spite of all that. 
    Loving unconditionally means we love everyone, even those folks whom we deem completely unworthy of our love. Yuck, I don't like this, because this is so HARD. It has taken me a lifetime of internal work to have even the tiniest bit of love for my abusive older brother Ken. I've learned many a powerful spiritual lesson from his behavior toward me, and I can appreciate that. It often seems that there are just so many assholes out there, and the thought of loving them unconditionally seems nearly impossible. Learning to love is a practice, like all of life. 
    Maybe learning to be loved unconditionally is the toughest of all. It seems that early on in life we become clued into our many apparent faults and shortcomings, making it a challenge to maintain our sense of worthiness relative to love. Receiving back the love I circulate among family and friends is not something I dwell on much. I must confess there is always a bit of surprise in me when there is a specific expression of love returned to me. It is the thought of "Oh, yeah, I do have a positive impact on others." Learning to be loved is a practice, too. 
    Perhaps the best way to get a handle on unconditional love is via pet ownership. Our dog Barney is the epitome of unconditional love. And I love him even when he poops in the house because, God forbid, there's snow everywhere outside and therefore no suitable spot to leave his treasure. 😉😉
    The following is a prayer by Richard Rohr:
God, lover of life, lover of these lives,
God, lover of our souls, lover of our bodies, lover of all that exists . . .
In fact, it is your love that keeps it all alive . . .
May we live in this love.
May we never doubt this love.
May we know that we are love,
That we were created for love,
That we are a reflection of you,
That you love yourself in us and therefore we are perfectly lovable.

May we never doubt this deep and abiding and perfect goodness.

We are because you are.
    May we each recognize the extraordinary amount of love we have to circulate--give AND receive--to bless our world. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

November 13--Heart Creativity

If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.  --Marc Chagall

    Creating from the heart means creating in love. Creating from the head can bring in all sorts of motivations--greed, revenge, retaliation, control, proving oneself--which rarely work for long-term success. 
    Painting has been an activity that is pulling me from my head to my heart. That can be quite a lengthy trip! I had been painting the very specific and symmetrical patterns of barn quilts. I love the straight-line geometry of those, and they kept both my head and heart happy. Then I decided to do a straight-line but totally free-form painting. I knew only that I wanted an odd number of colors, and an odd number of patches of each color on the painting. I started with a shape in the center of the 2'x2' board, then added patches of other colors, working my way to the edges. I had no plan. I let my heart take me. I ended up using five colors in 11 shapes each. It is my favorite thing that I have ever painted. It's a gift for someone I love dearly, and knowing who the intended recipient is only added to the heart connection of creativity. 
    Make no mistake--"winging it" on this painting was a challenge for the organized, planner, see-the-end-result person I am. Creating from the heart is a practice for me for sure, and it feels really good. That is motivation enough.

This is the referenced painting: 11:11.
(orange, dk green, gray, white, black)

Thursday, November 12, 2020

November 12--A Little More

Always be a little kinder than necessary.  --J. M. Barrie

    These are excellent words to live by. We can't control others, but we do have a choice in how we interact with them. People have been starved for touch, kindness and human interaction, and then 2020 landed on us, exacerbating the situation exponentially. There is an overwhelming amount of grief in our country.
    Rarely does it take a lot of effort to be kind. Let's go the extra few inches. Smile. Say "please" and "thank you." State out-loud your appreciation for someone. Send a friendly email or text, or better yet, hand-write an actual letter (they are so fun to receive!). Have a masked-up porch visit with a friend or neighbor. Leave big tips. Adopt a dog. You know what sort of kindness best fits you--go for it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

November 11--Stretch A Bit

You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery.  --Cheryl Strayed

    I begin with a huge "Thank you!" to all our veterans. Each one has stretched in the directions mentioned above, in myriad ways those of us non-veterans can't begin to imagine. I am grateful for your service. 
    I like the use of the word "stretch" in today's quote. That implies a gentle reaching into those areas listed, rather than a leap or dive. "Stretch" feels more like "dip your toe in the water, try it." 
    Stretch into goodness... try seeing good in every other human, no matter how challenging that may be. Believe people are good. Know that Something Bigger has your back. Know that life is meant to be enjoyed, not suffered through. Bring positive vibes to every situation. 
    Stretch into bigness... Think bigger. Imagine greater potentials. Here's a goofy example. My husband wants brighter lighting in the garage, where he is often working on projects. I'm thinking an obnoxiously bright, ugly fluorescent fixture. He's thinking LED, programmable, multi-color, dimmable--a fixture that makes both of us happy. I'm stretching into bigness when I find myself thinking, "Wow, you mean I could have that, TOO?!?!?"
    Stretch into kindness... This is our November theme. Start with kindness to yourself, and let that radiate from you. Remember that we don't know what someone is going through. While you wouldn't know by just looking at me, I had major surgery less than a month ago. I've asked for kindness in helping me carry heavy things over the past couple of weeks. Folks have lost loved ones. Folks are stressed. Life is changing faster than we can cope sometimes. A little stretch of kindness can go a very long way.
    Stretch into forgiveness... We remember that forgiveness is for us, not the other person, and it does not forget or condone the item forgiven. We can get much too accustomed to dragging around resentments. My favorite inspiration relative to forgiving quickly is that I don't want someone I resent living in my head rent-free. 
    Stretch into emotional bravery... This does NOT mean "suck it up and get over it!" This means feeling each and every emotion, one of the glorious benefits of human life. Emotional bravery is a direct connection to the heart rather than the head. It's using one's voice to say what needs to be said. It's grieving in a society that doesn't appreciate the necessity of grief. It's crying without apologizing. Emotional bravery is stating one's needs without people-pleasing. It's a recognition that each one of us is here at this time for a good reason. 
    Gentle stretching--it's good for us!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

November 10--Make More Good

Anything that is of value in life only multiplies when it is given.  --Deepak Chopra

    What is "of value in life?" Love, serenity, harmony, listening, being heard, understanding, appreciation, kindness, joy, sacred awe, curiosity, respect, freedom, caring, gratitude, creativity, cooperation, loyalty, reliability. That's a good list for starters. And yes, every one multiplies when it is given. Pick one and spread it around today. See what happens. FUN!

Monday, November 9, 2020

November 9--One Good-Hearted Person

The effect of one good-hearted person is incalculable.  --Oscar Arias Sanchez

    I will bet that if you take a few moments to think of those good-hearted folks in your life, that you will come up with at least several that have had an incalculable effect on you. I think first of my mom and dad. Though they had their faults, they were most definitely good-hearted and had a huge effect on me. Then there are my husband and my kids, whose good hearts have had infinite love and lessons for me. I am also blessed with many friends who have profoundly affected my life. I even mention with great gratitude the hip surgeon who has given me an aligned body and a new lease on life. In all these instances, these folks have been simply living their lives, doing what they do, and each has had a wonderful effect on me. While there are big "save the world" personalities out there, and their good hearts are having great effects, I am most profoundly blessed by the ordinary daily interactions of life.
    Do I have a good heart? Do I affect people in positive ways? I like to think the answer is "yes" to both of those questions. There is the key to the quote: we don't know for sure what effect our good-hearted acts of kindness might have, nor on how many people. I'm OK with that. Living from a good heart is reward enough, and the effects are up to something bigger than me. 
    Bless our hearts!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

November 8--Speak with Love

The only way to speak the truth is to speak lovingly.  --Henry David Thoreau

    I did not realize how much angst I was carrying relative to the presidential election outcome until it all went away yesterday afternoon. Last evening I listened to the speeches by Harris and Biden in Delaware. They spoke lovingly. I cried with relief. There was no need to analyze for lies. They spoke the truth, and the joy on the faces of the supporters who were present was glorious to see. History has been made--our first female Vice President. 
    To speak lovingly is really the only way to accomplish anything. Criticism, anger, condescension, mocking, threats--none of those modes of speech achieve anything but defensiveness, resistance and resentment. I remind myself, when faced with an interaction in which I want to achieve a goal, to take a few moments to breathe deeply, collect my thoughts, and hold the upcoming interaction in love, peace and kindness. I won't deny that there have been plenty of times where I simply wanted to "rip someone's head off." Those times gave me good examples of what doesn't work, and reminded me of the value of speaking lovingly. 
    After four years of lies spoken with no love, I am looking forward to "the better" I know that most of us humans are. 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

November 7--Grief Is Strong With Us

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.  --Dalai Lama XIV

    Today I am giving you the pleasure of a friend's writing about grief. Love and compassion are required for those grieving, including ourselves. This is the writing of Rick Saylor, dear friend and retired (but still very active) minister:


The year 2020 has been filled with numerous difficult events. Subsequently, it has brought a year filled with grief. Consider the many ways our world is grieving:

--individuals infected by COVID-19 virus with sickness and perhaps long-term effects of the virus on their health.

--families who have lost loved ones in death to the coronavirus infection.

--families who have lost in death loved ones due to police shootings and gun violence.

--a nation grieving  racism, overt white privilege and violent nationalism by victimizing countless numbers of ethnic minorities.

--citizens grieving the loss of basic civility in our nation, especially as demonstrated in politics and our elected leaders.

--Trump supporters grieving the loss of white supremacy in their MAGA rallies as they face a growing multi-cultural America.

--families grieving the loss of ritual gatherings and celebrations such as weddings, funerals, confirmation, bar-mitzvahs, graduations and holiday gatherings.

--our children, youth and young adults grieving normal venues of education which includes the context of face to face day routines with friends.

--society grieving touch and togetherness as we maintain social distancing guidelines in masked encounters with others.

--faith communities grieving in-person worship celebrations and the usual ways of being in community.

--society grieving economic losses, business closings and individuals loss of employment.

  And many more realities producing grief.

I can honestly say for 40-plus years in ministry, I have been acquainted with grief. For example:

--as a hospital chaplain in ER waiting rooms with families facing the sudden death of loved ones by accident, murder, suicide or heart attack or stroke.

--as a pastor praying with people facing a critical illness, surgery or treatment in a changed health and life status.

--as a pastor supporting hospice patients dying and families facing the imminent death of their loved one.

--as pastor helping grieving families process their grief and plan funerals.

--as pastoral counselor helping individuals find new normal after traumas and deep changes in their life, relationships or employment.

Not to mention my own grief in losing in death a spouse, parents, family members, friends and colleagues.

What I have learned in being acquainted with grief is how necessary it is for us as humans to face it, experience it, and  journey through it if we are to be truly whole and healthy – individually, as families, and as a society.  However, I have also learned how our American culture is adept at promoting death and grief denial in numerous ways, such as:

-- individuals afraid to be open to experience their grieving emotions.

--avoiding seeing death in physical bodies.

--projecting uncomfortable emotions on others or hiding real grief issues by focusing on something else.

--coping with grief by a quick fix through shallow theology, addictive substances or processes.

--inability to accept limits on one’s ability to be totally in control (a myth anyway).

--a culture that at times promotes going it alone in tough times and find your own self-help.

So I see the coming year of 2021 filled with more grief, loss, uncertainty and unfortunately more COVID-19 deaths.  But the year will also be filled with opportunity to grieve in open, accepting and healthy ways including all that we are – mind, body, heart and spirit.  At the same time there is opportunity in the coming year to continue our “denial culture” blaming “fake news”, repressing grief and personal discomfort, and minimizing the trauma we all are experiencing. And this will only continue to spread unhealthiness and lack of wholeness in individual lives as well as society as whole.  Let those of us who understand and know first-hand that grief is not an enemy – live so, say so and challenge others to truly be acquainted with grief, in all its occasions and forms.

Thank you, Rick, excellent words of wisdom!


Friday, November 6, 2020

November 6--Small Creatures

For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love. 
--Carl Sagan

    Carl Sagan, astronomer extraordinaire, was well acquainted with the mind-boggling vastness of the universe. In the grand scheme of things, we are definitely "small creatures." It would be easy to feel insignificant, but it is love that prevents that. It is each individual's ability to love, and what he or she does with that ability, that makes life the joy that it is. 
    Let's look at another aspect of vastness--that of the infinite free choice each human being has. On the downside, we are currently witnessing seemingly unlimited ignorance, hatred, corruption, violence, and racism. It is bearable only by faith in the power of love to overcome such horrific choices. I believe the very essence of us "small creatures" is love, and that each of us is fundamentally good. 
    Let love and beauty reign,

Thursday, November 5, 2020

November 5--Friendship

What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.
--C. S. Lewis

    I see this to be quite true in my relationships. For example, I am part of a group of eight that meets on Wednesday evenings via Zoom. We are scattered throughout the U.S., comically all blue-leaning voters living in very red states. We have an easy-going relationship because we all have fairly similar beliefs. We know where we stand with each other. It's easy to be around like-minded folks. 
    On the other hand, I have numerous family members who do not see "the same truth" that I see. We are on opposite ends of the political and religious spectrum. I love these folks dearly, but I can't work up a true, unrestrained feeling of friendship with them because there are those territories of discussion where we had best not go. I'm all for civil discussion, but time and experience has proven that's not likely. There is always a feeling of being "on guard," and that does not a true friendship make. 
    To quote Tama Kieves, "Only the people who 'get me' should get me. They deserve my time and energy." Given that our time here is not unlimited, it is perfectly reasonable that we elect to spend it with like-minded folks with whom we feel perfectly at ease. Friendship is an essential element of a happy life. 
    Loving my friends,


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

November 4--Affection Sorely Needed

Talk not of wasted affection; affection was never wasted. 
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Hug someone today. They're gonna need it. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

November 3--Neighborly

The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him, "What are you going through?"  --Simone Weil

    Praise God Almighty, Election Day is finally here! I am both relieved and frightened. I am relieved to have an end to the campaign ugliness. Granted, I've stayed clear of Facebook and I don't watch commercials, but the crap in the mail has offered more than enough mud-slinging and outright lies. I am frightened because given the past four years, there truly is no telling what our nutcase POTUS and his supporters might do, win or lose. 
    I must rise above all this. I must remember that love is the only power. That simply being love in my interactions with the neighbors on my court, no matter what their politics, is the fullness of kindness in me today. We are all making the choices we think are best for us, no matter how that may appear from the outside looking in. Asking questions and truly listening to the answers are the steps to understanding, which is neighborly love in its fullness. Being more open, in both heart and mind, to what others are going through, is good for us both individually and collectively. 
    Today, let's focus on love as the only power.

Monday, November 2, 2020

November 2--Heart Wisdom

It is the heart always that sees, before the head can see.  --Thomas Carlyle

    That sense of awe and wonder that spontaneously comes upon us--that's seeing with the heart. So, too, are the moments that take our breath away, by incredible beauty, great compassion, kindness and acts of love. 
    Science has shown that the heart has a "brain" all its own, and there is just as much communication from the heart to the brain as there is from the brain to the heart. Our hearts are wise, guiding centers of intuition, and we ignore them at our peril. Our hearts never steer us wrong. 
    I spent a lot of time as a child protecting my heart and learning to stay in my head, which felt safer. It has taken years of practice to first recognize that my heart was trying to reach me, to pay attention to that wisdom, and finally to act upon it. I've been a lot more comfortable with my intellect than with the feeling nature of my heart. The ongoing practice is worth it, however, because heart wisdom has brought inspiration and richness to my life that my head alone could not create.  
    It's time we bring more heart wisdom into our interactions with each other and into our care for our planet home. The heart knows the solution, and the head can then support the implementation. That brings more balance into our efforts, so sorely needed in a world that is clearly out of whack. 
    Loving my heart,

Sunday, November 1, 2020

November 1--Now More Than Ever

All great problems demand great love.  --Friedrich Nietzsche

    The November theme in "Daily Peace" is kindness. As we head into Election Day, the "great problems" seem overwhelming to me. Is there enough "great love" to meet them? I must hold onto my faith and belief that the only power that exists IS love. It is what we humans are made of, and we are resilient. We are creative. We are good. We are determined. We will come through this unique year of 2020 with more kindness, compassion and consideration for our fellow beings and our extraordinary planet home. 
    Here is the link to an excellent Tedx Talk by Cindy Grimes on kindness. Scroll down a bit and you'll find the video: "Kindness is the Cure." It is well worth the 20 minutes to view. Just think what we can accomplish if we consciously add just a bit of kindness to each of our days!