Friday, July 31, 2015

Awakening Delight

“Taking delight in who you are, what you do, and what you have is the secret of personal power, satisfaction, and high-energy living.  Delight connects you with the beauty and power of the universe, with your Higher Power, with Divinity.  Delight means feeling and expressing the joy of life, rejoicing in the beauty and richness of being.  Delight is a powerful liberating force that frees your creativity, talents, abilities, and capacities.  Delight anchors you in the eternal now and lets you see the best of it.  Delight inspires hope.  Delight feeds the heart and nurtures the soul. Delight brings zest into your life.  Delight makes you receptive and confident.  Delight is contagious; it is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and others.  The path of delight is there; it has always been there, waiting for you….”  The above was printed from the book “Out of the Blue…Delight Comes into Our Lives” by Mark Victor Hansen and Barbara Nichols, which I highly recommend reading.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, Delight means, ‘a strong feeling of happiness; something that makes you very happy; something that gives you great pleasure or satisfaction.’ 

We all have those delightful moments in time when it seems that everything is absolutely beautiful in the world, when we feel connected with everyone and everything, and we know that all is going to be okay.  There are times when I am in such a state of delight that I feel I can take on the world!  In those moments, I feel so much love for every single person on the planet, as well as for all animals, and all of nature.  It is in those moments that I feel that absolute perfect connection with everyone and everything, as well as an absolute direct connection with the All-That-Is.  Now if I could just be in that state-of-mind 100% of the time.

Many of you may know exactly what I’m talking about, and others may think I’m totally bonkers.  But for those who have felt that magnificent blissful delight and felt that perfect connection to everyone and everything, you know that it is in those moments that we have touched a piece of heaven on earth.  We know it really is about unconditional love and we feel no hate, judgment, or bigotry towards anyone.  This just a smidgeon of the perfect state of Grace or state of God (or the God of your understanding), and this is what life really is all about.

As it says in the book, “When you live in delight, you don’t just love life, you have a passion for life.  Your life is a joy to yourself and to those around you.  You are fully in touch with your own creative genius and you use your gifts to your advantage and to the advantage of the world at large.  You have a sense of destiny and purpose and you are living your dreams.  Your brilliance will light up a room when you walk in.  The light of your soul naturally seeks union with the light beyond and you glow.”
How do we get into that delightful, blissful state of mind?  One way is to work on our thoughts; get rid of the negative and fill our hearts and minds with positive and loving thoughts, not just for others, but for ourselves.  It’s not easy, but it can be done.  When our thoughts are pure and full of love, everything else follows.

The book gives us a Delight Declaration or Awakening Delight affirmation that we can say over and over:  “I realize my life is a delight.  I look for the gift in each situation.  Renewed by my creative connection with the Universe, I boldly live my life with joy, goodness, beauty, and ever-increasing delight.  Since I live in delight moment by moment, I am a blessing to all I know, all I support, and all I love.  I see my world through the eyes of delight and I am uplifted, protected, and totally loved.” 

We can also see others as being a delight.  I call it shooting Spiritwads of Delight (or love) towards everyone we see and meet.  Say silently to someone “I see you as a delight!”   You can even imagine a room being filled with delightful energy.  You’d be surprised how doing so can change a room full of people!

Alan Watts stated, “Existence is basically exuberance.  The Universe is a celebration of love and delight that, were it otherwise, would simply not go on happening.  The whole point is to be fully aware of it as it happens.”

May your hearts be filled with love, bliss, and pure delight, and may your lives be filled with happiness, joy, and the sheer excitement of living!


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper July 31, 2015.

Friday, July 24, 2015

As I Began to Love Myself

One of my passions is reading and I enjoy coming across inspirational articles from other authors.  Recently, I came across an essay that is usually attributed to Charlie Chaplin, but upon further research, I found there was controversy as to whether or not he actually penned these words.  Apparently, no one really knows for sure.  Regardless, the words are very inspiring and I would like to share them with you here.

“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.  Today, I know this is AUTHENTICITY.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.  Today I call it MATURITY.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm.  Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.  Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it SIMPLICITY.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health: food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since, I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is MODESTY.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations, or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing, new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS LIFE!”

In past articles, I have written how extremely important it is to totally and unconditionally love ourselves.  I remember at one time I was told that to love ourselves was arrogant and vain.  There is a huge difference between arrogance and having a healthy self-esteem.  Arrogance means we think we are better than everyone else.  Having a healthy self-esteem means we know we are the best there is, yet it has nothing to do with anyone else.

We should all be trying to improve ourselves and trying to be the best that we can be!  Is it easy?  Not for most of us.  Not for me anyway.  I have to constantly work on myself.  If you heard some of the things I said to myself and how I can beat myself to a pulp with my thoughts, you’d be surprised!  It’s a constant process of learning to love every cell of our being: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Joel Osteen said, "Don't ever criticize yourself.  Don't go around all day long thinking, "I'm unattractive, I'm slow, I'm not as smart as my brother.'  God wasn't having a bad day when he made you...  If you don't love yourself in the right way, you can't love your neighbor.  You can't be as good as you are supposed to be."  

No matter who wrote the above essay, it’s a good guide to follow in learning to love ourselves.   And just as it is with anything, it takes practice.  We are all diamonds in the rough, being cut, sanded, and polished.  But no matter what our diamonds look like or where we are on our life’s journey, we can all learn to sparkle, and we were all meant to shine! 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper July 24, 2015.




Friday, July 17, 2015

Seeking God Within

Recently, I came upon a book titled “Man Seeks God” by Eric Weiner and it turned out to be a jewel of a book.  The story opens with Mr. Weiner having had a serious health issue and while waiting on the test results, a nurse whispered in his ear, “Have you found your God yet?”  Not ‘the’ God, but ‘your’ God.  At the time, he hadn’t given it much thought, but it got him to thinking what exactly does he believe about God and religion?

This started him on an adventure to research various religions, some of which were Sufism, Buddhism, Franciscans (Christians), Taoism, Wiccan, Shamanism, Kabbalah, and others.  During his time researching these religions and the people involved, he found that there was good to be found in all of them!  He met and got to know so many wonderful people who shared with him their spiritual wisdom.  In the end, he learned to go within and find his very own ‘God’ (the God of his understanding). 

I love learning from the various other religions and I embrace the diversity of all that I’ve studied.  By doing so, it really helps me understand where others are coming from, and we can share and focus on what we have in common!  At their cores, most all religions stress the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” as well as their Spiritual Masters teaching unconditional love for all and to not harm anyone. 

No one knows exactly who or what form God takes.  We only have our beliefs.  Some believe in an angry, judgmental, punishing God, who sends people to a place called hell for the slightest offense.  Others believe in an unconditional loving, kind, compassionate, and all inclusive God, who brings all people back into that loving place many call ‘the other side’ or ‘heaven.’  Some don’t believe there is a God per se, but they do believe that there is something greater.  And others don’t believe in anything at all.  I’m certainly not going to tell anyone which to believe in.

Why can’t we all just believe?  Early American Indians and other indigenous people around the world who have not been indoctrinated into a religion had that belief and that was enough for them.  Why can’t it be enough for us?  Why do we have to fight and argue over details, sometimes even going to war and killing over those details, and using those details to separate us?

I like what Jim Palmer said when he stated, “People often feel angst about whether or not their beliefs about God are correct.  Perhaps some alternative questions would be:  Do my beliefs bring peace?  Are my beliefs a source of joy and freedom?  Do my beliefs inspire kindness and compassion?  Do my beliefs dispel fear?  Are my beliefs empowering my full self-expression?  Do my beliefs motivate love for all people and living things?” 

If you feel you need to belong to a certain religion, I think the above questions are excellent ones to ask.  Is that religion teaching the actual teachings of their Spiritual Masters of harming no one and of unconditional love for all, or is it teaching hate and separateness?  Are those religions tearing people down or lifting them up?  Are they working towards peace and bringing people together or tearing them apart?  These are all questions we should ask ourselves about the religion we belong or the one we would like to belong.  Do we even need to belong to a religion at all?  Can we just believe in a Source of the All-That-Is, share what we have in common, and just get along in peace and harmony?

Personally, I’m tired of all the fighting and arguing over the details.   I totally believe in a Power greater than we are, though I couldn’t tell you what form that Source takes.  To me it doesn’t matter; nor does it matter what I call it.  What matters is am I loving enough?  Kind enough?  Am I following the teachings of the Spiritual Masters of loving all and harming no one?

The Dalai Lama said, “I believe deeply that we must find, all of us together, a new spirituality.  This new concept ought to be elaborated alongside the religions in such a way that all people of good-will could adhere to it.”  That doesn’t mean we have to give up our personal religions or beliefs, but why not find a way to bring them all together so that we can live together in peace? 

As a line in John Lennon’s song “Imagine” says, “You may say I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us, And the world will live as one.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen July 17, 2015.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Soul of Our Being

What is the soul?  Where is the soul?  Where did the soul come from?  These are the questions of the ages and many have been trying to find the answers.  While listening to an Oprah Winfrey video where she asks about a dozen spiritual leaders what they thought the soul was, she received a dozen different, but same answers.  The answers themselves were different, but the essence of the answers were the same. 

The question of the soul is one that has been eluding people throughout history.  We may think we know what it is, and we have our beliefs about what it is, but do we really, really know exactly?  Is there 100% proof?  Has anyone ever seen the soul? 

Dictionary.reference states that the soul is “the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part; or the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come.”

When researching the term ‘soul’ when it is referred in the Bible and religions, there were so many different explanations that I couldn’t even begin to try to write about them here.  But, today, most people would describe the soul as a spirit or energy found within that lives on forever. 

Many of us understand who and what the soul is on a spiritual level, but cannot put it into human terms.  We know and believe we have a soul, but to really explain it is beyond our comprehension.  I totally believe that both humans and animals have souls.  I also believe that the soul is that divine spark of God (or the God of your understanding; call it what you will) that is within each of us.  It is that direct connection that each of us has with the Source of our being. 

The big question is how do the souls get into our bodies?  Some believe that there are many souls on the other side (some call it Heaven) waiting to inhabit our earthly bodies.  The Bible says “Let US make mankind in OUR imagine.”  Who is US and who is OUR?  Could the US and OUR mean other souls?  No one can say for sure.

I like to use the analogy of the ocean.  Think of the Supreme Being as the ocean, and the soul is a drop of the ocean that is in each and every one of us.  We have the illusion of separateness, but we’re still part of the ocean.  That means we have the illusion of being separate from Source, but we are still directly connected to Source as well as with each other. 

I’ve ready many afterlife and near death experience books and they are a wealth of information about the soul, how we got here, and where we go when we leave.  One of the best books I have read is “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers” written by Annie Kagan, and I would highly recommend reading it.

Billy Fingers says, “Your soul never incarnates completely.  While you’re in a body, you also exist in higher dimensions.  Reaching beyond the physical self is what the spiritual search is about.”   Billy also says, “Every soul is unique in beautiful says.  Some are further along the path than others, and that’s okay.” 

While searching the internet, I found this great quote, which I think at least partially sums up what the soul is about:  “I am made of energy. I will always exist. Whatever happens in this life is a vehicle to move me along, not a beginning or an end. No matter what the ego tells me. No matter what the body feels. Those are merely experiences that I need to feel to achieve what I came here to do, be, and experience. On some level, I already know everything that needs to be known. I don’t remember it all right now because it would prevent me from the experience of the here and now. When I seek my truth, it will come back to me. There is nothing to fear. There is infinite love here. All that is, glows divinely from within me.”  Unknown

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper July 10, 2015.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Divine Love

“If we were to take all the love in every heart of everyone on earth, and add it to all the love of all those who ever existed throughout history, then add the love of all saints in heaven, and all the angels, seraphim and cherubim, and pour all that love into one heart, and direct that love on ourselves, it would still fall infinitely short of the love God is pouring out on each of us right now.  Because God is infinite, his love is not divided, with each of us receiving but a portion.  We each receive the totality, the fullness of divine love, twenty-four hours a day, every day of our lives.”  Father Joseph Langford (no relation) said this and it’s a beautiful quote!

The word “love” has become such a cliché nowadays, but do we really know what the word means when it comes to all things spiritual?  There are many things I understand on a divine level, but I do not have the words to put them into human terminology, and the pure, unconditional, perfect love of God, the Universe, of life itself, is one of those words that is hard to explain.  That love is so much greater and grander than we could ever imagine! 

We knew that love before coming to earth, but when we came here to experience being human, we forgot.  We have a very slight remembrance of that all encompassing love, and we spend the rest of our lives searching for it trying to find it again.  But as humans, we never do quite grasp the magnitude of that love.  It’s like trying to remember a name; it’s on the tip of our tongue and we know we know it, but we can’t quite remember it.

Most people believe that love is outside ourselves and that we will find it in other people and in other things.  What we do not realize is that we ARE that love!  Once we come to this awareness when we know we have all that love within us, then we realize we no longer have to go searching for it outside ourselves and we can instead share that love with ALL people.  We do so by being kind, compassionate, and…well…loving.

Of course, there are still too many who have not come to this realization.  Too many people are in so much pain that they can’t see beyond the way they feel about themselves.  When we dislike, or even hate ourselves, we project that outwards to those around us.  People who are in that kind of pain will either take it out on others, themselves, or both in either words or actions.  Buddha said, “If you truly loved yourselves, you would never harm another.”

The media, with very rare exceptions, only propagates the negative and people hurting each other, so much so that we think this is the norm.  It is not!  There are so many good, kind, loving people all over the world who are out there spreading the love and take care of each other!  They come from all colors, races, religions, politics, cultures, genders, and on it goes!  The problem is that unless we look for those stories, we’re not going to hear about them in mainstream media and that’s sad.

Is it easy to love ourselves unconditionally?  Personally, as much as I try, I still can’t say that I do, at least not all the time.  I tend to be my own worst critic and I can tear myself down quicker than anyone else.  But I’ve felt glimpses of that all embracing love so I know what that love is like to aspire to, and when I let Spirit lead, it’s a bit easier.  It’s a process that we have to keep working towards, but it can be done!  We can’t listen to those who are trying to tear us down and keep us feeling less than because they do so with an ulterior motive to control us.

Oscar Wilde stated, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”  The one person we spend our whole lifetime with is ourselves, so wouldn’t it make sense to become our own best friend, to love ourselves unconditionally, and to nurture and grow that most important relationship? 

Lucille Ball said, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.  You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”  She’s right.  We need to fill ourselves up with so much love that we can’t help but let it spill over to others!  With unconditional love for all living beings, we can move forward into a more magnificent and amazing world! 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper July 3, 2015.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Show Me Your Love

“Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people.  Don’t tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all his children.  Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.  In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.”  This is one of my all-time favorite quotes spoken by Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey, whom I absolutely adore! 

I totally agree with his statement.  Living by example is such a greater influence and testimony than any words we could ever speak.  Have you ever heard someone say they stood for one thing, but then heard them speak words that completely contradict what they say they believe? We see this in a lot of churches in particular (not all).  We say God is Love, that Jesus taught kindness and compassion, and yet we hear too many words of hatred coming from the pulpits, books, and articles, and that’s sad.  I can just see Jesus looking at our world with a tear streaming down his cheek and saying, “What part of loving one another do you not understand?”

We’ve all heard about the recent horrific tragedy with the church shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  People from all over the world are sending their condolences to the family, friends, and church members.  Why is it that we have to have this kind of heartbreaking catastrophe to unite us and bring us together on a greater scale? 

This is one church that “gets it.”  Instead of reacting with violence, they held a service of healing, and it was reported that every Charleston church and over 100 more across the country rang their church bells at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 21, to show solidarity. Not only that, over 20,000 people gathered Sunday night to join hands across the Ravenel Bridge for the Peace Unity event in support of those affected by the church shootings.  People from the community and all across the country came in the spirit of love and unity.

Rev. Dr. Norvel Goff, Sr., who led Sunday’s service, said that people were astonished that some of the relatives of the people killed had spoken “of forgiveness and didn’t have malice in their hearts” when speaking of the man who committed this atrocity.  People were expecting them instead to riot.  But Goff stated, "They just don't know us because we are a people of faith, and we believe that when we put our forces and our heads together working for a common good, there is nothing we cannot accomplish together in the name of Jesus."  This is a church whose foundation is unconditional love, the very things Jesus taught.  This is a church that is a great example as to how churches should be.

We’ve already been hearing church leaders, politicians, and media hosts ranting and making all kinds of speculations.  Some are saying this was a war on Christianity.  No, it is not, and it has been proven otherwise.  This crime was committed by a young man who was in so much pain that he was either going to take it out on others, himself, or both. 

Hate is taught.  It is taught in so many of our homes, and believe it or not, it is taught in so many of our churches.  Get on the Internet and you can find YouTube videos of ministers propagating the vitriol in their sermons.  We’re also hearing it from the media (hate-talk TV and hate-talk radio), as well as from many politicians.  When are we going to say ENOUGH!?!?!? 

Hate is taught, but so is love, and unconditional love is a much stronger force than any hate could ever be.  We have to plant the seeds of love in everyone around us, particularly our children, and it doesn’t have to be just our own children.  Hate and racism will never go away, but with enough love, we can lessen it with time.  We’re already doing it!  People who commit these ghastly crimes are actually teaching us to love and they are bringing people from all over the world together in peace and harmony!

Martin Luther King, Jr., stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Darkness is only the absence of light, and if enough of us join together in the collective consciousness of love, peace, compassion, and kindness, then we can embrace that darkness with our light and bring healing to our world.

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 26, 2015.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Paying It Forward

“Pay It Forward” was a movie released in 2000 about a twelve year old boy named Trevor who unknowingly started a huge movement by coming up with an idea for a school project that he called Pay It Forward.  The assignment the teacher gave his students was to come up with a plan that would change the world.  Trevor’s idea was that one person would do an act of kindness for three people and then each of those three people would do an act of kindness for three people and the acts of kindness would spread around the world.  Because Trevor didn’t see the immediate results of those kindnesses, he thinks that the plan was a failure.  What he didn’t know was that the movement was working and was having far reaching effects all across the country and people were making a difference just with their small acts of kindness.  Many of those acts ended up being bigger than people could ever know because lives were even saved.

It’s a beautiful movie and one I would highly recommend.  Before the movie was released, Catherine Ryan Hyde, the author of the 1999 novel, established the Pay It Forward Foundation.  According to their website, the Foundation was established “as a catalyst to inspire growth for the Pay It Forward philosophy, acts of kindness among strangers, generating a ripple effect from one person to the next, one community to the next.”  (payitforwardfoundation.org)

There was also a Pay It Forward Day established and the website claims that there were over three million people in seventy countries around the world participating in these celebrations in 2015.  The next Pay It Forward Day will be on April 28, 2016 and you can go to their website at payitforwardday.com to find out how you and your community can participate. 

It always warms my heart when I see people committing random acts of kindness, or even when people go out of their way to help others.  I see a lot of these stories on Facebook and many of them have caused me to bawl a river of tears because the stories were so heartwarming.  There are many stories where people have nothing and yet they are willing to give everything if it helps anyone in any way.  The problem is that so many of us get so busy in our own lives that we don’t think to reach out to others even in the smallest ways.

There are so many things we can do to commit random acts of kindness that won’t take more than a moment or two from our day.  Personally, I’ve made it a habit to look for ways to help people when I’m out and about.  It doesn’t cost me a thing, but the rewards are great.  It not only makes the other person feel good, but it makes me feel good and it lifts all of us up.

There are so many things we can do to make a difference in our own neighborhoods.  The other day, my dad’s mower stopped working and our neighbor lent us his one push mower and then came over with his riding mower and helped mow the lawn.  It may not have seemed like much to the neighbor, but it was a wonderful gesture to us. That’s being a good neighbor and we so appreciated his kindness!  And once in awhile, we see letters to the editor in the Herald Citizen newspaper where someone thanked Cookevillians who went out of their way to help complete strangers.

It really doesn’t take much to be kind.  Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  Barbara De Angelis stated, “Love and kindness are never wasted.  They always make a difference.  They bless the one who receives them, and the bless you, the giver.”  And Mother Teresa said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, and kindness in your smile.”

I love it when the Dalai Lama said, “My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”  Can you imagine if all religions had kindness as their core philosophy?  Jesus and all the other great spiritual masters taught us to be of service to our fellow beings and to harm no one, but do we follow their teachings? 

Committing random acts of kindness is a great way to start.  Find ways to pay it forward.  Kindness is contagious, and personally, that’s one thing I don’t mind catching and spreading around. 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 19, 2015.