What are you being asked to accept today?
What major change are you facing?
As I enter the senior years, losses seem to be a routine part of life. I hear the poignant and tragic stories of people who are struggling to make ends meet, or struggle with the loss of their health or the untimely death of a spouse.
My first response when I suffer a setback is to think, Oh no, not again, Lord, I have had enough.
But then I read of what others are going through and realize my problems are trivial in comparison.
As I complete a new chapter in my new book, The Next Step, which speaks to acceptance and letting go, I am reminded again of how important it is to develop this skill.
Love or Hate – Which of these two emotions would you say resonates more in your life?
In his book, You Will Not Have my Hate, Antioine Leiris writes about the shooting rampage on November 13, 2015 when terrorists took the lives of people attending a rock concert at the Batacian Theater in Paris. His wife was one of the victims.
Shortly afterwards, he posted on Facebook an open letter addressed to his wife’s killer that stated in part,
“. . .you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hate.”
Later he wrote a memoir book on the shock, grief and challenges he faced to move forward with his life (click on the book tile link above for more information). He was instantly widowed with a seventeen month old son. How would he teach his son not to hate? How would he rebuild a life that had been so happy with his wife.
As I write the chapters for my book, “The Next Step,” I am reminded of the many losses people face within their lifetime. Some are a normal part of life. But many are unexpected, traumatic and devastating.
The last thing you wanted was to lose your baby, or your marriage or your health that impairs your ability to earn a living. When hit with such major losses or tragedies, we can’t imagine that life can ever be considered normal again.
Think of soldiers who come home with the loss of arms or legs or PTSD nightmares. Or a parent who is told their child has a terminal illness after waiting for years to have that child. Or a teacher who discovers she has a slow degenerative disease that will take every ounce of effort to continue working to support herself.
As great as the death of a loved one, chronic illness can seem like a slow death sentence. Living with severe health restrictions is a struggle few of us experience. Losing a beloved child, born or yet to be born, can be devastating. Losing your ability to make a living, tragic. Losing the ability to see there are options even more tragic.
Did you know that just by searching for positive things to be grateful for, you are activating your brain to produce more “feel good” hormones? Just by the process itself you are changing how your brain is operating.
Wow! That’s pretty significant. But why then don’t we focus more on all the blessings and things we can be thankful for rather than the things we don’t like and that make us unhappy?
Because we also get a payoff from continuing to focus on all the bad things. We are rewarded at least in the short term. Even worrying makes your brain feel better – at least for the moment. But not in the long term.
And that is what is important – the long term consequence of what you are doing. Because that will have a more lasting effect on everything you do. It produces a feedback loop that continues to expand into more positive things.
“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”
“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and
hang on. And swing!!!” Leo Buscaglia
“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow” H. G. Wells
Laughter is a tonic that makes today better and raises hopes for tomorrow. Humor is not just fun. It is extremely powerful “medicine” that heals the soul and mends the body.
Each person has within them the ability to create humor and laugh.
Last year I went on a long anticipated river cruise. It was something I had wanted to do for years and was excited when I had the opportunity to go.
Because good friends had done most of the research for our trip and had established our traveling plans, what was left for me was to determine what I would take with me for the fifteen days we would be traveling on a beautiful river boat up the Danube, Main and Rheine rivers.
It took careful thought to determine what I would need on the trip. The clothes I chose would need to meet many different weather situations: rain, sunshine and chilly winds as well as dress up and casual. At home I had a whole closet to choose from as needed. Now however, what ever clothes I took had to fit into two suitcases that I could carry.
What should I take? What do I need to purchase? What would I like to take but really could do without? Eventually, I came up with just the right amount, the right balance and was ready to take off.
Tradition compels us to start the New Year with new resolutions. We have good intentions, but too often they don’t go anywhere.
I resolve to . . . . Go on a diet,
start an exercise program,
lose 25 lbs. and on and on it goes.
But if you are anything like me, I look back at the many resolutions I have made and most did not come to fruition. Perhaps some effort was put into them, but then they were abandoned.
But why? I think we have a spurt of motivation which evaporated once our regular routines begin again after the holidays. So do we abandon the idea?
Over the last few months we explored six little words that can help transform our lives.
Imagine Create Believe
Achieve Inspire Transform
These are words I want to remember as I step into the new year. I want them to form stepping stones to a better life, a renewed life, a transformed life.
It takes imagination to create a church, a cathedral or skyscraper. It takes time to build a structure that will rise thousands of feet in the air. We need to believe in ourselves and our abilities to achieve the impossible. It takes determination and a willingness to allow our inspirations to find a way to transform our dreams and goals into actualities and a willingness to be vulnerable.
Within each of us are great possibilities for doing great things. But it starts with the little things. It is more than belief in one’s ability; it’s a belief in others – in their potential. The possibilities then become how can we work together, how can we see the good in each other instead of all the things that divide us.
Christmas – we look at the twinkling lights and bright decorations and for a few seconds the Christmas spirit permeates our hectic schedules and “to do” lists.
We extend greetings and mail Christmas cards and packages and feel that “spirit” for a few more minutes. For some people, time is taken to attend candlelight services at a neighborhood church as a token to an old ritual or tradition.
But is that all there is?
Have we reduced Christmas to a few watered down traditions that we observe once a year before we go back to life as usual? Do we forget that we have this holiday because we wanted to honor and celebrate the birth of a tiny child who happened to be the Son of God? It is with this monumental event where transformation of the heart and soul begin.
What does it take to transform one thing into another?
Flour, sugar, butter and water are some of the basic ingredients that go into the making of beautiful pastries such as those that filled a window in this pastry and coffee shop.
Enticing and tempting, their tantalizing shapes and forms suggest the pure enjoyment we have of biting into such sweet confections.
Just as a baker transforms the simple ingredients we find in our kitchens into magnificent works of culinary art, so we can take the ingredients of our individualism, uniqueness and innate creativity and fashion them into a life that reflects beauty and substance.
In the process we become transformed from the mundane into the bold, audacious and adventuresome.