Friday, June 16, 2017

Opening The Package vs Assumptions


You don't know what's in the package until you open it. Unknown

When you receive a package do you spend time guessing what's inside and assume what the package might contain? And does the wrapping affect your attitude about the contents? Well, this is what we sometimes do with life situations. We might miss something wonderful because the situation doesn't come wrapped in a pretty package, and we discard it without looking past appearances. Or we might too quickly accept something based on it's attractive wrapping, and set ourselves up for disappointment.

We use this approach with all kinds of life situations, and we can't always back out of the holes we dig for ourselves. Too often we accept our assumptions about a job, people, how we spend our money, a trip we plan to take, a home we buy, companies for repair work, and even food past the expiration dates. The list doesn't end. That's life. Just think about everything you do or need on a daily basis. Do you manage your life based on assumptions, or do you open the package and see what's inside...to see what you're getting?

Assumptions allow the best in life to pass you by. John Sales

One time I had a supervisor who pushed my buttons every time we encountered each other. This package was certainly not wrapped in pretty paper. But I wanted to keep the job, so I took the time to examine my own attitude and look beyond our differences. I was quite surprised to find she had qualities I'd not seen before. And we had a lot in common, much upon which to build a good relationship. As time passed, we became friends, and I remember her with a warm heart instead of with my initial assumption.

Then later I moved to a different city and searched for a job in my field. But the only one I could find was with a mental health team in a county jail setting--definitely not a package I had in mind. But I took the job until I could find what I wanted. I performed as required, but my attitude was not productive until I began to open the package and notice the many unexpected challenges and rewards in my work. I gradually realized I was in the right place. And I stayed in a job I loved for 10 years. I would have missed this rewarding experience if I had clung to my first impression.


Do not blindly follow anyone or anything. Always seek the truth out for yourself. Unknown

Nobody gets it right all the time, and we all know what it feels like to end up where we don't want to be. But we don't want to be a skeptic about everything either. So when you need to make a sound judgment about something, a few rules might help to reach an accurate conclusion, at least most of the time.

1. Don't be fooled by first impressions, positive or negative. Take your time and keep an open mind.
2. Use self-talk and plan your strategy. You'd be surprised at how much more clear something is with words than with thoughts. Words paint pictures, and pictures are revealing.
3. Gather information. Take notes and compare them as you go along.
4. Ask all kinds of questions from anyone who might have answers. Example: People who've had their stoves repaired may know who does or does not do good work repairing stoves. Etc. And only accept complete answers. No half...answers.
5. This is not rocket science, so be kind to yourself. It's okay to make a mistake. Most of the time you can back up and start over.
6. When you feel ready, review your information, check you feelings, and act.


Of course there are times when people, places, and situations we encounter are true to our first impression. But things aren't always what they seem. And it's usually worth our time and effort to look past the wrapping and open the package without judgment and find what's really there. As least we won't have to look back and wonder what might have been.

I wish you happy discoveries.

Marilyn

Friday, June 2, 2017

Sit Under A Tree And Discover Your Peace In Nature



Sometimes life really is a bumpy road, and some of those bumps hurt. We need to find a place of rest, so when the bumps come, we have what we need to pass through them. That place of rest is within you--that place of peace, joy, comfort, wisdom and strength. It's a safe haven sometimes overlooked as we rush through life too worn out and stressed to deal with all the stuff that hits us in the face.

That place is always there, but it's not something to be just tapped into occaseinally when we're desperate for rest. It's where we need to go on a continuing basis, where we need to live as we meet each day's demands. We can form a daily connection through prayer, meditation, music, whatever way pulls you inside to your quiet place.

In every walk with nature, man receives far more than he seeks. John Muir

We hear about the benefits of nature where we can also connect with our inner self, but how often do we seek out places where we can actually experience those benefits? Most wooded areas have quiet paths with trees that whisper messages of peace, flowers that dance in the sunshine, maybe weeds with beautiful blue flowers, a few muddy places for children to make mud pies, snow in winter, and puddles after a spring rain. Something all year to soothe our jangled nerves and tell us that life goes on with wisdom and peace, in spite of daily challenges. As often as possible, allow nature to become a part of your life and feel the benefits of being one with nature. You might even sit under a tree and hear it whisper what you need to know.

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. Minnie Aumonier

One year while visiting in Seattle, I sat on a shady porch taking in the pristine beauty of giant northwestern trees. I've always loved trees, and this majestic sight left me feeling breathless. Then a nearby tree called my name, and I thought of what I'd heard about the benefits of sitting under a tree. Something shifted inside, and I was drawn to try this new way to reach my quiet place. As I relaxed against the tree, the earth poured her loving energy up through the tree and into my body, wrapping me in exquisite peace and strength. And my heart was very quiet.

As I sat in this blissful space, I remembered singing in my school choir many years ago. We sang Joyce Kilmer's poem about trees. I still knew every word by heart. And now I truly understood his poem...and so much more.

Trees
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


Too many people go through life so busy they never really know the beauty that lies within them. They don't know who they truly are and the wonderful achievements of which they're capable. Every day their attention is given to the busyness of everyday life, and they miss the best parts. Find your way to go within and be quiet. Listen for the truth in your heart. You really can walk through life in peace and joy when you know where to look. Look there often.

I wish you beautiful discoveries within a quiet heart.

Marilyn

Friday, May 26, 2017

How To Cope And Survive When Illness Knocks You Down


We live in predictable patterns involving every aspect of life. Every morning we expect our day to be as we've planned it. And we don't want any unexpected situations forcing us down a different path. Usually our plans are easily fulfilled, and our days are as they should be. No problem. Everything's under control, and all is well.

But we don't live in a fairy tale. Our world is real, and unforeseen things do happen, like a check bounces at the bank, the car has a flat tire, or you forgot an important appointment, etc. Bothersome interruptions, but solvable. And that's okay. You've been there before, and you understand that life sometimes gets bumpy, and you have to roll with it. 

I can and will make it through the storm...simply because I'm a survivor. It's what I do. Unknown

But what happens when a sudden unexpected illness temporarily invades your predictable life, like the flu, various viral infections, a chest cold that turns into pneumonia, etc, etc. Such health challenges are not life threatening, but they put your life on hold, and they require more than a band aid. And what about the more serious chronic illnesses like COPD, diabetes, a heart condition, etc...illnesses that require a lifetime of attention. Whatever the illness, they all take their toll. And your life is changed. But you can survive.

You're allowed to scream, you're allowed to cry, but do not give up. Unknown

Recently I spent 6 days in a hospital, then a slow recovery at home. Hospitals are there to promote healing, but the experience can add stress to what you're already going through. In the hospital, every time there was a change of shifts, the new shift contradicted what the last shift required. And I felt like a ball bounced back and forth by the different shifts. One said get out of bed and move around, and the next one jumped all over me for getting out of bed and moving around. I ended up yelling at the walls and crying to go home. The whole thing was like a page out of the movie, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." I had to come home to begin healing.

We experience illness on 3 levels, physically, mentally, and emotionally. In our response we may physically see or feel it; mentally we think about it, "Can I afford the medical bills? How can I function with it?" etc; and emotionally we feel angry, scared, frustrated, helpless, etc.

Each illness will manifest in different ways. One may involve physical pain with fear and frustration. Another may involve guilt, worry, or resentment. Another added expense, loss of mobility and independence, leaving you feeling helpless. And each person responds in different ways. Some perceive even a minor illness as devastating, while others take it in stride. The way you perceive it depends upon your personality, your life situation, and the way you view your life.


Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe

How do you respond when illness knocks you down? Have you ever thought about the way in which you deal with it? Knowing and understanding yourself at those times supplies a sense of control and is the first step in the healing process as you implement other resources. But once you've made that first assessment, it's important to quiet your mind and allow your body to heal.

Too often, some in the medical field have a 'one size fits all' agenda. But this is the last attitude a person in pain needs or wants. One size doesn't fit all. You are unique, and you need individual care. So when you need medical care, look for a care giver who cares.

People start to heal the moment they feel heard. Cheryl Richardson

Have you ever felt alone in a health challenge? Have you ever longed for someone to hear you and put their arm around you and tell you you'll be okay? Well, that someone is a major part of your healing. So find that person, and allow their caring energy to help you heal. And whether you're facing a temporary or permanent situation, look within for guidance, strength, and confidence, knowing you will always be the same beautiful soul that you are. And no illness can ever change that.


I wish you healthy days and loving arms around you.

Marilyn

Friday, May 12, 2017

As You Move Through Your Life Journey, How Are You Creating Each Stage Along Your Path?




It's a long journey through life, and as we move through various stages we may not realize that each stage is a gift with it's challenges, opportunities, lessons, and yes, blessings. Generally we just move along and don't much notice until something happens to jolt us into a realization that time passes and change takes place. And sometimes we don't welcome the change.

Our culture is a youth oriented world. As people age, we want to put them out to pasture, get them out of the way. Just try to find a pair of jeans that come above your hips, or a style you'd wear past the age of 50. And too many lonely people are in nursing homes. We all know nostalgia, and sometimes we want to go back. Ah, how I remember when my children were small. I rocked my babies, rode on the sled with them, got a gash in my son's head sutured when he fell off his bike, ordered art lessons for my other son, and made my daughter's prom dress--among thousands of other memories, some wonderful, and some not so wonderful.

Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it. Unknown

You know what I mean. You have your memories too. Did you realize time was passing when you lived those years? I didn't. I just took it all for granted--except the traumatic experiences. I just wanted out of those. Then one day I looked around and realized I had gone through several more life stages. I had aged, and I wondered where it all went...those precious memories, my clear skin, my flat tummy and my firm rear end. Wow. It must have happened when I wasn't looking.

The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life takes place. Barbara DeAngelis

I wanted to keep the happy times. Then I remembered the mistakes, and oh, how I wanted to go back and do those over. I thought about what I might have learned from them, and I was surprised at how much I had learned. But what about now? Was I learning now or drifting? I wasn't sure. It kind of felt like drifting, so I made a commitment to be aware of my life in each stage, and face each day with trust in God and myself, with intention and hope for a more meaningful life. When I falter and need reminders, I'm sure they will present themselves.


So much is said about living in the present, but I think we don't realize the full meaning of the word 'living', to live, to learn, to savor, to share, to be aware of self and others, and to know where we are on our journey and what we want to do with it. We have the power to create the quality of our life in spite of challenges. Did you know that? And you're probably a lot smarter than you used to be, so you're more able to create a better future.

Don't be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think about where you are now, and where you want to go. Hang on to those precious moments from the past, and let go of your mistakes. You did the best you could according to your growing ability at the time. Every stage in life is equally important with opportunities to learn and grow in new ways. You are not what you have or do. You are the beautiful being inside who is on a glorious journey to self realization, and you can't find that if you overlook your purpose or fret about where you need to go.

Life may not offer the same experiences it did in past stages, but don't miss the great ones that are there for you now. There is Divine purpose in all of it, and you are part of that Divine plan for yourself and humanity. Hang on and enjoy the ride.

I wish you much happiness in each stage of your journey.


Marilyn

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Time For Rebirth And Renewal



Everything in the universe moves in cycles, and these cycles are necessary to life. The moon tells the oceans when to ebb and flow, seasons tell us when to sow and reap, and darkness tells us when our day should end. Our whole universe is involved in cycles, including us. We leave one phase and enter a new one. And each cycle offers some kind of rebirth and renewal. And all of nature shouts it's claim to a new springtime, "Look at me. I'm alive, expressing who and what I am."

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. Doug Larson

Snow has melted, and crunchy slush takes over. It's springtime again...life coming forth at just the precise time and in the precise way according to nature's plan. Trees turn green, blossoms of every color discard their buds, butterflies emerge from cocoons, bears come out of their caves and stretch in the warm sun, and every little fuzzy critter scampers to explore what his buddies are up to. Every year we're treated to nature's brand new technicolor presentation of rebirth and renewal. And it's breathtaking.

I remember when I was a child in Michigan, and springtime wrapped her arms around the earth and replaced the drab haze of winter with her gifts of rebirth and renewal. I saw it in fields of tulips with every color in the rainbow and in blue and yellow wildflowers pushing up randomly along my path to school. I listened to birds and night owls pouring their songs into springtime air becoming reacquainted with lost friends and celebrating new ones. I felt spring breezes and warm sun caressing my bare legs when I discarded my leggings until the next cold winter. I watched lightening dart across the sky heralding springtime rain. And then I danced in the rain, hopped through puddles, and tasted rain drops on my tongue.

Every spring I joined nature in her celebration. With all of my senses, I was part of this glorious transformation. I saw life in nature, and I felt life in myself, like we were part of each other in God's great universe. I saw it and felt it everywhere. Then I grew up and forgot to notice. And springtime grew to mean days were longer, we could save on the electric bill, and vacation time was getting closer. Where did joy of the season go? Recently I looked around and realized it's all still there...every year.

"There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature." Rachel Carson

Fall and winter energy pulls us in and says slow down, let go, and regroup. Spring and summer energy pushes us out and says move forward, take on the new, and express your colors. Just like everything in nature we're wired for seasonal change, physically, mentally, and spiritually. And we can't help responding to those seasonal changes. We can either respond with resistance and become more physically disturbed and less motivated, or we can answer the call and become more healthy and invigorated.


Now is when old painful experiences can pass away and make room for a new beginning, like flowers budding anew after a hard freeze. We've all been through those hard freezes. But we need to open our eyes to the possibilities that present themselves every spring. Do you ever think about rebirth and renewal within yourself, or are you content to continue living in the old script you've written for your life? Everyone creates a script. It's like a recipe for living, and we act it our everyday. We may have visions or dreams of how we'd like to change it, but most of the time those fade away, and our springs come and go as they always have.

Those who plow in hope not only understand the law of the harvest, but they also understand what growing seasons are all about. Neal A. Maxwell

How about taking a lesson from the tulips or butterflies, or like the bear, be brave enough to come out of your cave. Within each of us is a light so bright you can write a whole new script and experience positive changes in your life. A time of rebirth. A time of renewal. Search deep within. What are your colors? What is your song? What are the words you want to say? Someone said, "Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly." So spread your wings and fly. It's your springtime.

I wish you beautiful discoveries in your springtime.

Marilyn



 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dealing With The Difficult People In Your Life



We're all involved in relationships, and no two are alike. The easy ones bring joy and comfort. The impossible ones may stay for a while, but most of the time they don't last. The difficult ones may take some work, but we usually feel they're worth keeping. And each one is there for a purpose, to bring a blessing and/or a lesson. No matter what, our life is blessed by people.

     When dealing with those difficult ones it's wise to first know yourself...to understand your feelings when someone ticks you off. What bothers you and what doesn't ...and why? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Are you tactful or confronting...quiet or outspoken...judgmental or accepting? What are your fears and insecurities? And what ability or talent can you express to others? You may have valuable qualities of which you're not even aware. The better you understand yourself, the better you'll understand others, even the difficult ones. So know yourself first, and then focus on the people in your life.

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; often times we call a man cold when he is only sad. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

     A person's behavior patterns are clues that reveal much about them. And difficult people may require closer attention to understand their behaviors. The more you observe and understand, the better equipped you are to deal with them. They may have inner fears or insecurities that cause troublesome behaviors that frustrate or irritate you. Maybe there's fear of losing control, losing position, revealing weaknesses, or some other hidden fear. Or there may be some emotional pain the person is not comfortable sharing. We all try to protect ourselves in some way, and we may use negative behaviors to cope. We can't see inside of another person, but knowing and understanding as much as possible may lead to a better relationship.

     Everyone is unique with particular talents or abilities, and these become part of who they are in the world. Some can fix problems, some are comforting, some are fun, some give good advice, some are good listeners, etc. But no one is all of these, so we can't expect anyone to be everything to us. Nor can we be everything to everyone else. But learning a difficult person't talents and abilities can be used to create a more harmonious relationship.

Some of the best people with whom you can have a relationship are the people who challenge your thinking. T. D. Jakes

     Years ago when I worked with a mental health team in a jail setting, one Sergeant felt threatened by our presence and always gave us a hard time. So I devised a plan to soften his attitude. I noticed he was organized and had a talent for keeping his floor running smoothly with few problems. So I assumed a subordinate attitude and began complimenting him on the exceptionally good work he was doing. Well, his frown quickly changed as he threw out his chest and smiled with ego satisfaction. From then on, our difficult relationship became one of congenial cooperation. So compliments are sometimes useful in melting a negative attitude.

     Sometimes things work and sometimes they don't. So if your efforts to create more harmony are not producing results, it may be time to regroup and alter the way you relate to a person. If there's conflict when you try to discuss deeper personal issues with someone, but it's absolutely necessary, then do it. But try to generally relate to them on a lighter, more surface level, so as not to step on thin ice. Avoid areas in which they become defensive. Try to understand where they're coming from, and help them feel safe with you. But if nothing works, be willing to let them go. 


Sometimes God uses difficult people, like sandpaper to rub the rough edges off us. Joel Osteen 

     If you want to keep a difficult person in your life, try to look past behaviors that disturb or irritate. And don't get caught up in their chaos. There's good in everyone, even those who come across otherwise. So look for qualities in them that you can enjoy. You wouldn't want to keep them if you didn't already see something of value, even something to help you learn and grow. Approach all of your relationships with love and as much understanding as you can muster. You just might find a diamond in some rough exteriors. And their lives just might enrich yours.

I wish you many happy relationships.


Marilyn

    

Friday, April 21, 2017

Heal Your Total Self by Healing Your Inner Child



Many, if not most people today are familiar with Eric Berne's psychological theory regarding the parent, child and adult ego states, different parts of ourselves from which we function. The parent expresses our value systems, morals and beliefs, and may be critical or nurturing. The child is our feeling self. And the adult uses rational thinking and problem-solving, and tries to keep the parent and child in balance. If we become familiar with these parts of ourselves, we can work with them and create a healthier, happier life.

We've all had traumas and painful experiences as children. But you don't have to be adversely affected by the past when you start healing the child within. Unknown

Since the child is our feeling self, when you feel sad, hurt, angry, scared, frustrated, any painful feelings, that's your child crying for help. And your child needs attention. We're all human, and we will have those feelings sometimes. They're part of life, and we can't totally shut down all negativity. But you can be aware of your feelings, know where they're coming from, and turn to your inner child with love and compassion. You can learn to diminish the negative and increase the positive feelings. And your inner child, and thus you, can learn to be happier.


"It is necessary to own and honor the child you were in order to love the person you are." Robert Burney

As you become more familiar and relate more with your inner child, you'll know right away how to work out any painful feelings. And you and the child part of you will feel more like the one person you are. But it's also important to recognize your parent self, the self that can be critical or nurturing, and your adult self with its rational thinking and problem-solving skills. Then when your parent self gets critical, you can call on your adult self to handle the situation and free your inner child from more hurt.


"She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay." Raven Rose

Seems like you go in and out of different characters, doesn't it? Well, all 3 of them are you, and whether you know it or not, you've been using all of them all of the time...crying with pain, criticizing yourself, and your adult self intervening. Example Scenario: Suppose someone said something unkind to you, and you were hurt and cried (That's your child self). Then a voice in your head said, "Oh, can't take it, huh? Stop that blubbering (That's your parent self). Then you dried your tears and told yourself, "Never mind. You're loved and you do matter (That's your adult self soothing your inner child feelings). We use all parts of ourself automatically.



Now there's another side to all of this. While you're healing the hurts and drying the tears, your inner child would really like to have some funl. You know, the things you used to do before you got so busy. So let her/him out sometimes. Sing with the birds, make funny faces and laugh at yourself, walk in the rain, dance around the house, eat an ice cream cone and let it melt down your belly. The list is endless. The more you laugh, the less pain you will feel. And it will be so much easier being you.

There is a child inside all of us who continues to believe that it can always get better. That it doesn't end here. Vienna Pharaon

When your child self is happy, you look up instead of down. It raises your sights to who you really are...God's beautiful creation who only wants good in your life. You have the strength to successfully meet life's challenges. You have wisdom to make wise choices and create peace instead of pain. You have the courage to bring what's good for you into your life and rule out what's not. You live each day with faith and hope. And you learn to love your wonderful self. You heal your inner child, you heal yourself. And life can be so good.


I wish you fun being you.

Marilyn