Saturday, September 27, 2014

Be the Love

Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I say, “Be the LOVE you wish to see in the world!”

Those who know me, have read my articles, or have heard me speak, know that I am very passionate about love…unconditional love for all beings regardless of color, race, religion, politics, culture, or sexual preference.  My favorite verses from Jesus that has become one of my mantras is, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  I quote this verse often, especially in my articles, because so many people still aren’t getting it.  Love, unconditional love for all, is really what it’s all about.  It’s what all the great Spiritual Masters from Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and countless others throughout history and today teach.  LOVE ONE ANOTHER!  No exceptions are mentioned!

Granted, this doesn’t mean that you have to agree with someone else’s beliefs or condone their behavior.  People still need to be held accountable for their actions, especially when they hurt others either through those actions or with their words.  Rather than judge, I try to see that innocent child they were when they were born.  I try to see that Divine Spark that is within every single being on earth.  The Bible says that we were all made in God’s image; not just some of us. Somewhere along the way, people were taught to hate and hate is a learned behavior; it is NOT who we are!   When people attack others and speak words of hate or commit acts of hatred, then I know that they are coming from a place of fear.  Hate is only a by-product of fear.  Marianne Williamson said, “Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts. Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life. Meaning does not lie in things. Meaning lies in us.” 

John Lennon also stated, “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

When I see people in fear, I can feel compassion for them because I know they dislike or even hate themselves so much, or are in so much emotional or spiritual pain, that the only way they can make themselves feel better is by putting other people down.  This is one reason people bully or find fault with others so they don’t have to look at the faults within themselves.  Again, Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”   I don’t know about you, but I have enough stuff of my own to work on than to spend time criticizing or finding fault with others.  Besides, acting ugly just takes up way too much energy and there are too many more important things to focus on, as well as too many people to help in this life. 

Sometimes people wonder how I can be so ‘happy’ and smiling all the time.  Truth is, I’m not.  I struggle just like everyone else.  I have days where I don’t even want to face the world.  Yet, I also believe in raising people up rather than tearing them down.  Mother Teresa stated, “Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”   I don’t ever want to be responsible for bringing someone down.  That doesn’t mean I don’t unknowingly hurt someone’s feelings or upset them or that I won’t stand up for myself when needed.  But I always try to let love be my guide…that pure, unconditional, perfect love of Spirit.  When you know that love, when you feel that love, then you can’t help but love yourself, the world, and everyone in it!

We’re awakening!  There’s a ‘Lovelution’ happening and more and more people are learning that love really is the answer!  Namaste!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 26, 2014.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Aging With Grace

Recently, my high school celebrated their class reunion in Ohio.  I was unable to attend, but I have been seeing pictures posted on Facebook.  It’s astonishing that I only recognize a couple of people!  Everyone has gotten so much older and many don’t look like they did when we were in school.  Then it dawned on me.  If they’re looking older, then that means I’M looking older!  Where has time gone!?!  It seems like it was just yesterday that I was a majorette, marching in the band, and hanging with my friends.  I noticed that just about all of us have gained a little weight, lost a little hair, and have a few more wrinkles on our faces. 

Getting older isn’t for sissies, that’s for sure.  Our minds tend to remain young, but for some reason, our bodies continue to age.  We think we can still do all the things we did when we were younger, but our bodies tell us otherwise.  But try we do!  And then there’s the memory, or what there is of it.  I now tend to forget things a little easier.  In fact, I call them memoroids and I have more of them as time goes on. 

I’ve pretty much come to peace with getting older.  Peace with wrinkles, an extra flab here and there, fewer hairs, and not having the energy I had when I was younger.  There are times when I dread getting any older, but I also want to be one of those who ages with grace.  One who embraces the changes in my body and mind.  But I also know that I don’t have to accept the labels that society tends to put on older people.  I don’t have to expect age related illnesses just because someone says I should be getting them at a certain age.  I don’t have to conform to others who say I should act my age.  Personally, I don’t believe in age.  If Einstein proved that there’s no such thing as time, then there’s no such thing as age.  Besides, I refuse to be identified by a number whether it’s my age or my weight!

I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve developed a pretty healthy self-esteem by now…most of the time.  I still have my moments of feeling insecure, inferior, and feeling unworthy, but usually I feel pretty good about myself.  I like the person I’ve become; I just don’t always like the person I’m not.  And sometimes I look in the mirror and think, “Who is that woman?!?”  Some days I think I look pretty good for my age, and then other days I think I look like an ugly hag. 

Healthy self-esteem sure is needed when hearing the honesty of young children.  I’ve been told I’m old several times.  One little one asked me how old I was and I teasingly said I was six.  She replied, “You can’t be six!  Six year olds don’t have squiggles on their face and you have squiggles!  My grandma has squiggles!”  So, now I have squiggles.

As I look back over my life since my days in school, I see how I have grown.  It hasn’t been easy and I’ve had my share of challenges.  Some I didn’t think I’d make it through, but for whatever reasons, I persevered and in hindsight, I see that those challenges made me a stronger and better person.

Certain segments of society tells us that we’re not good enough unless we look a certain way, act a certain way, or that we need to conform to what everyone else is doing.  We were made to be unique!  There is no one else like us in the world!  I wish we could all learn early just how wonderful, magnificent, and miraculous we really are!  We could live with our heads held high knowing that we are the best there is and it has nothing to do with anyone else!  With age comes wisdom, knowledge, and a knowing that age really is a state of mind.  The Bible also states that we were made in God’s image, which makes us glorious and splendid beings living a human experience!

Donna Lynn Hope said, “Youth.  I don’t seek it through another because I have it within; it’s a state of mind, a spirit that is free, and a mind that is playful.  The shell of my being is altered by the effects of time, but nothing will tarnish a soul that will never forget what it’s like to experience creation with endless wonder and appreciation.”

Embrace life!  Embrace your age!  Let’s all learn to age gracefully and be proud of our squiggles!  We’ve earned them!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 19, 2014.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Holistic Health

Finally!  After a lot of research, reading, writing, and hard work, I finally achieved my Doctorate as a Doctor of Holistic Ministry!  My official title now is Rev.Dr. (though I still prefer to be called Karen).  Writing my dissertation has been an adventure, that’s for sure.  But what a wonderful learning experience!

Holistic Ministry has to do with Mind, Body, and Spirit.  You hear the terms bandied about individually and separately, but it takes a balance of the three to be a healthy whole.  This is termed ‘holistic health.’  An imbalance in one affects an imbalance in another.  Even though it seems these are three separate entities, they actually work together as one.

The mind is a very fragile and yet strong entity.  It can get people through the most horrendous circumstances, and yet it can snap in an instant.  The jury is still out as to where the mind is actually located.  Normal thinking says that the mind is in the brain itself.  Yet new scientific findings say it is quite possible that the mind and memory are in our cells throughout our whole body.  This may be why some organ donor recipients may have memories from the donor. The mind is also associated with our thinking processes, feelings, emotions, and memories.

The body is another amazing entity.  It, too, has the strength to survive the greatest traumas and has the power for self-healing, and yet it can be consumed with the most debilitating of illnesses and diseases. 

The Spirit is an entity that is really indescribable as no one really knows exactly what the Spirit is or what form it takes.  We all have our beliefs as to what the Spirit is or isn’t, but if you ask a hundred people, you may get a hundred different answers.  Some will use the name God, Universe, Spirit, Allah, Nature, and thousands of other labels.  Like the mind, there is no proof of it; you can’t see it, and you can’t put it under a microscope.  We only have our beliefs based upon our experiences of it to describe it.  Even then, we humans are limited in our terminology when it comes to describing Spirit/God. 

The science of holistic well-being is constantly changing.  I think it is wonderful that whole ministries are being developed around it.  Most people in ministries will specialize in one area or the other, but it is only when we concentrate on gaining knowledge and wisdom in all three areas equally that we are really able to see the bigger picture.  Like puzzle pieces, they need to fit into each other to make a whole.  The wisdom and knowledge in these fields is unlimited and we are now only really beginning to understand the magnitude of this fascinating realm. 

To become totally and holistically healthy in mind, body, and Spirit, we need to open our hearts and minds to learning all things new.  What worked in the past may not necessarily be what works for today.  We need to be open to constantly tweaking our lives in order to move forward into being the greatest expressions of who we were meant to be.  When we have our health, we have more hope for our lives and our futures.  We can accomplish more.  We can feel more love for ourselves.  We enjoy life, are happier, more joyful, and can have a positive outlook.  When we work on mind, body, and Spirit together, they all weave into each other to make a beautiful tapestry of these magnificent and miraculous Spiritual and sacred beings that we are. 

How do we become healthy?  What are the thoughts that we are thinking?  Positive or negative?  What are we putting into our bodies?  Pure foods from the earth or cheap junk foods full of fake foods, chemicals, and preservatives?   Are we consuming drugs (illegal or too many legal), alcohol, tobacco smoke, sugar, and other artificial substances?   What addictions do we have?  Do we have a spiritual practice whether it is religious or nature related?  How are we feeding our souls?  All these feed into our total health.

Hippocrates said, “A wise man ought to realize that health is his most valuable possession.”  And it should be because it is the temple for our souls.  Michelle Longo O’Donnell said, “The Spirit of Life is that portion of the Being of God that formed all things, and causes all things to exist in harmony, balance, and perpetual order throughout all eternity.” 

If we really knew how glorious and magnificent we really were, we would take better care of ourselves to be the best and healthiest that we could be.  We are a light onto the world and we deserve to be healthy, happy, and whole!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 5, 2014.