Friday, December 30, 2016

Embracing 2017 in Love and Light

As we go into 2017, my heart and mind are filled with so many conflicting emotions.  On one hand, seeing what’s happening in the world, especially with our politics, I can sometimes be consumed with so much fear that it’s almost debilitating.  On the other hand, most times I am filled with so much hope because I see people all over the world who are uniting for the common cause of love, peace, and harmony, and are standing up for all Earth Beings, including our Mother Earth.  It warms my heart to see how people are loving, supporting, and encouraging each other in these times of darkness, and who are spreading their love and light to everyone around them. 

Because I have felt that fear, my heart goes out to all concerned who literally fear for their lives in the coming years.  Men, women, and children who fear that they or their loved ones will be yanked from their homes and made into refugees in another land.  Those who fear losing their health insurance when that health insurance may be the only thing keeping them alive.  Those who fear they will once again have to hide their true selves.  Those who fear we will have to live the Civil Rights era all over again.  Those who fear another Holocaust.  Those who fear we will be led into nuclear war, and whatever other fears people may have.

Even though we can’t ignore the darkness that causes the fear, we can choose to try to bring light to all concerned.  In this New Year, I am choosing to try to be even more loving, compassionate, and understanding, to have more empathy, to lend an understanding heart, ear, and shoulder to those who may need it, to be of service to others, to spread more random acts of kindness and smiles, to shine my light so brightly that others can’t help but feel it, and to be the change I wish to see in the world. 

I choose love.  The same love that Jesus and all the other wonderful Spiritual Masters taught.  I choose peace.  The same peace that Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King, Jr. taught.  I choose compassion.  The same compassion that Mother Teresa taught.  Will it be easy?  Not always.  But I will set my intention to do so upon every waking morning and will do my best to lift others up and to light up the darkness.  Remember…darkness is only the absence of light, and it only takes one candle to light up the darkness.  Just imagine…if enough people all over the world let their light shine, we could light up the world!

“The way of peace is the way of love. Love is the greatest power on earth. It conquers all things.
This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”  Peace Pilgrim

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper December 30, 2016.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Collateral Beauty

“Collateral Beauty” is one of those movies you would like to see again and again just so you can memorize the many wonderful quotes that are scattered throughout this beautiful film.  Right from the beginning, I wished I could dig into my purse in the dark and find a pen and paper so that I could try to write down many of the things the actors said.  Yet I knew that without any light to see what I was writing, I’d be good to read any scribbles that might try to later pass as quotes.

“Collateral Beauty” is about a successful New York advertising executive who suffers the loss of his young daughter and ends up retreating from life to the point of cutting off his friends and co-workers.  They’re at a loss as to how to help him and they become desperate.

Trying to cope, Howard (played by Will Smith) writes letters to Love, Time, and Death.  His friends find out about this and they hire actors to play those three roles by visiting him and trying to help him through his pain.  Or are they really actors?  They not only help Howard, but end up helping his friends with their issues as well.

Before his daughter dies, he tells his employees in a meeting, "We're here to connect. Love, time, death. Now these three things connect every single human being on earth. We long for love, we wish we had more time, and we fear death."  Little did he know how prophetic these words would be to him and how they would help him deal with his grief. 

The actress who appears to him as Love tells him, “Love is the reason for everything.  I was there in her laugh, but I’m also here now in your pain.  I’m the fabric of life.  I am the reason for everything.  If you can accept that, then maybe you get to live again.”

The actor who plays Time tells him, “I’m time. You wrote me because you need me.  I’m a gift, and you’re wasting it.”

The actress who plays Death tells him, “You’ve been given a gift, this profound connection to everything.  Just look for it and I promise you it’s there…the collateral beauty.”

And one of his friends asks him, “What if love, death, and time are trying to help you?

“Collateral Beauty” is more than just a movie.  It’s a beautiful message to us from the Universe and it really touched my heart.  There’s even a possibility it may bring comfort and peace to those who need it most.  

If given a chance, what would you say to Love, Time, and Death?  To all three, I would say thank you because they’ve given me so much more wisdom and understanding, and they’ve made me a better person because they are a part of my life.

“In the most difficult circumstance, there is something beautiful to be seen.”  Helen Mirren

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper December 23, 2016.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Gift of Obstacles

“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself, or treat what has happened as a gift.  Everything is either an opportunity to grow, or an obstacle to keep you from growing.  You get to choose.” 

Wayne Dyer said the above quote and I totally agree with it.  We do have a choice as to the meaning we put on everything that happens to us in life.  Nothing has meaning except for the meaning we give to it.  It’s a great quote to live by and to keep in mind whenever we’re going through our heavy-duty-life-doo.

That said, I also want to be clear that it isn’t always easy.  There are times when life can become so overwhelming that it’s hard NOT to feel sorry for ourselves.  I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit.  In fact, I recently went through one of those times where I was feeling sorry for myself.  Some stress I was experiencing from various issues had become so overwhelming that I went into a dark place.  I couldn’t help it.  It was hard to keep from constantly crying. The darkness consumed me and I also became very quiet, which is how I deal with things.  That and doing a lot of stress eating.  If I could have eaten a brownie the size of an elephant, I would have.  But I also know that it will pass, so I’ve learned to embrace those moments in time and try to love myself even more.

One thing I have learned in life is that we may not always be able to see the gift of what we’re going through at that time, but if we can make it to the moment of hindsight, it can all become clear.  When I look back on my life, I can see how all the darkness I went through, no matter what it was, became a great gift.  Because I went through those things, it taught me to have so much more love, compassion, empathy, and understanding for others who are going through it.  I no longer judge others because I can say I’ve been there.  I even found that I became a stronger and better person because of those experiences, as well as gaining a great deal of wisdom that I can use to help others who are going through their own dark moments.

Sometimes people do need professional help whether it’s physical or mental assistance, and that’s perfectly okay!  It doesn’t mean that we’ll need it for long periods of time, but it can help us get through those dark times until we can once again see the light and get back to feeling like our better selves once again.

Christopher Reeve said, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”  And Matshona Dhliwayo stated, “Your darkest experiences often lead you to your brightest fortunes.” 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper December 16, 2016.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Defending Your Life

Recently I watched an older movie called “Defending Your Life” starring Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks.  The movie was about two people who died and arrived in Judgment City, the place they go before advancing to another level or being sent back to earth for a do-over.  While there, they stand trial by reviewing events in their lives where they had let their fears rule their decisions.  Did they overcome their fears or did they let their fears overcome them?

I’ve read a lot of near death and afterlife books, and most, if not all, have said that people who have crossed over and come back to life have said that they had to watch a review of their lives.  Many were asked if they had loved enough. After we make our transitions and it’s time for us to review everything we did or didn’t do in our lives, how would we feel?  How did we treat others as well as ourselves?

This movie got me thinking about fear, particularly my own fears.  Fear is a huge issue in all of our lives.  Many people don’t live the lives they want or are meant to live because of it.  We’re afraid to take chances and go for our dreams; therefore, we live our lives trying to please everyone around us.  We’re afraid to stand up for ourselves because we’re afraid of what others might think; therefore, we let people walk all over us and treat us badly.  We’re afraid of success and we’re afraid of failure.  We’re afraid that nothing good will happen so we don’t even try.  Fear can become all consuming.

People also use fear to manipulate and control us.  They use it to propagate hate against others who may seem different than us.  There are media sources and talk show hosts who are consistently promoting fear against others and people buy into it.  This type of fear almost becomes like a contagious disease that spreads to all who are conned into believing whatever they say.  There is also an extreme amount of fear in today’s political climate with how much harm some politicians want to do to our country and the world.

How do we overcome fear?  We can only keep working at overcoming it.  We can ask ourselves, are we choosing love…or 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.”

I can only hope that when it’s time for me to cross over and I watch my life review, I hope I chose love more times over fear.  I’m still a work in process.

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper December 9, 2016.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

It's That Time of Year Again!

Tis the season of bringing good tidings of great joy!  Children look forward to Santa’s visit bringing them delightful gifts.  Adults attend parties and buy presents for each other and their families.  Homes, stores, businesses, schools, towns, and cities are brimming with holiday decorations, and lights sparkle in an array of colors everywhere you look.  In other words, Christmas is upon us!  People love the Spirit of the season!  They’re a little kinder, more compassionate, and they give a little more generously to those in need.  This is the bright side of Christmas and the holidays and I love that loving Spirit!

Unfortunately, there’s also a dark side to Christmas and the holidays.  Not everyone looks forward to them for whatever reasons.  Some experience depression, may feel alone, and some may have lost loved ones during this time in previous years and it brings up too many sad memories; therefore, it is a very difficult time for many. 

It is also the season of fighting and arguing and it can bring out the worst in people.  They fight over whose holiday greeting we should use and they get nasty if you don’t say their greeting of choice.  They fight over whose decorations should be put up and where.  And then there’s the argument that always goes around that there’s a war on Christmas.  There is no war on Christmas.  If there were, it would be illegal to celebrate Christmas at all.  Just look around during this season and everywhere you look, all you see is Christmas!  On TV there are countless Christmas movies and TV shows, Christmas commercials, and decorations galore everywhere!  Also, there is no law saying you can’t say Merry Christmas. 

Christmas has become so commercialized that sometimes I think it should be called ‘Commercialistmas.’  Just look at the way people behave on Black Friday!  Many people go into debt buying gifts for their families and friends because they don’t feel they can have a Christmas without presents.  And add all that stress!

The Spirit of Christmas is supposed to be about the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the very one who taught us to love one another unconditionally.  If we really want to celebrate this holiday, then let’s practice those teachings.  Bless and honor other’s holidays and maybe even share them with your friends.  Greet people with the same greeting they give you and do so with love and kindness.

I have rarely seen any decorations or mention of any other holidays during this time such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, and so many others, and these deserve to be celebrated as well!

W.C. Jones said, “The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing others’ loads, and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts, becomes for us the magic of the holidays.”      

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season (whatever holiday you celebrate) with much love, peace, happiness, prosperity, joy, and magic!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper December 2, 2016.