Monday, August 31, 2015

Life Comes In Packages. Learn How To Choose The Right Ones For You.

What is beauty or ugliness but a false front that prompts man to make assumptions rather than delving deeper. Kristin Callihan

What do you do when you receive a package? Do you spend time examining it, shaking it, and assuming what it might contain? And does the wrapping affect your attitude about what's in it? Kind of like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates. Well, that's what we sometimes do with life situations. If a situation doesn't come in a pretty package, we may assume it's not what we want and discard it, missing something wonderful wrapped inside.

Many years ago, I took a job with a mental health team in a county jail setting, not the kind of work I wanted. But I took it until I could find one wrapped in a prettier package. My attitude wasn't productive until I began to open the package and notice the many unexpected rewards in my work. I gradually realized I was in the right place, and spent 10 years in a job I loved. I would have missed that wonderful experience had I not looked past my initial assumptions.

The packaging can work the opposite way too. A certain situation in your life may seem to be dripping in pretty tinsel, so you accept it with great anticipation, only to find it's last week's trash. I learned that lesson. It was the dead of winter when my heat and air unit went out. Freezing. Then came a fast talking salesman glittering in fancy talk and promises of instant warmth. The package he presented brought visions of heat melting the ice from my frozen toes, and I never thought about opening the package to see what was really inside until I realized I'd been financially taken.

Untested assumptions and lazy habits of thought can be shown up, once put in a spotlight of a different hue. Julian Bagini 

Almost every day we're confronted with something new, and our favorite way to deal with unfamiliar people and situations is to assume the nature of what we encounter. But clinging to assumptions with old ways and ideas can sometimes bring results we don't want. It's wise to look closer with different eyes. There may be a prize in the Cracker Jack box...or not. But you have to look inside to find out.

Attitude: When you encounter someone or something new, keep an open mind without any prejudgment. Notice what's apparent and take mental note of what may be subtle. And check your gut feelings against what your mind is telling you. If you feel deep inside that something is wrong, pay attention. But give the person or situation some time when possible.

People in your life: Have you ever accepted someone in your life and wished you hadn't...or didn't and wished you had? Opening the package first might have helped. Learn to distinguish between the honey-drippers, manipulators, sour-faces, and the for-real-genuine-ones. Some may be self-serving, some just unhappy, and others may actually be what you see at first. But know what you want, and know what you're getting.

I once met someone who's habit of giving me advice got on my nerves. But looking deeper, I saw a kind, loving side to her. So I ignored her bothersome habit and enjoyed her other qualities. And we became close friends.

Situations: Whether it's work, finances, a place to live, repair needs, activities...whatever, don't make snap judgments. Look past appearances to the whole picture, and know what's involved. Get used to checking inside the package before you decide to keep it or let it go, so you don't end up with something you don't want.

Summary: Choices influence the quality of your life, and you want to make good choices. So when possible, sufficiently research and learn what's behind the scenes. You will at times make mistakes. We all do. But by opening the package before you choose will minimize those mistakes. And your life will flow more harmoniously. 

I wish you clear vision and happy results.


Monday, August 24, 2015

The Many Forms Of Loss In Life, And How To Survive Each One

 When was the last time you experienced a loss in your life? Are you going through one now? We know what loss is, and no one escapes. It comes in many forms: death of a loved one, loss of job, health, money, relationships, home, your life dream, anything that's important to you. When experiencing loss, something within us changes and may alter the way we think and function in life. It can turn joy to sorrow--trust to distrust--faith to despair--and fear of the unknown. We identify with people and situations in life, and when they're gone, we sense a loss of identity. Who and what am I now? How do I see myself now?

Any growth requires a temporary loss of security. Madeline Hunter.

Loss begins in childhood and continues through life. And the older we get, the more we experience. Hopefully, we grow with each one. As I look back on my life, I'm amazed at the number. I've lost both parents, both brothers, a couple husbands, many homes and friends, including one I thought was a dear friendship, jobs, money, health, my church family, my writing group, and...and. And I'm not done yet.

Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn't you--all of the expectations, all of the beliefs--and becoming who you are. Rachel Naomi Remen

Moving through life, there's always a part of us not yet expressed. And as painful as loss is, it can help bring out more of who you are. It's different for different people. Your loss may seem small to others, but it's yours, and it matters. And your experience can tap into those dormant parts of you, bringing positive change.

Most of us are familiar with Elizabeth Kubler Ross' five stages of grief--denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These are present following the death of a loved one, but they may apply with any loss. And you will respond in your own way. Your first feeling may be disbelief. "How could this happen. Why?" Maybe anger sets in. "It's not fair." Depression is present in almost all forms of loss, but hopefully acceptance finally comes.

Depending upon what you've lost, your healing process is unique to you. Is there hope of replacing your loss--a job, money, home? Or is something gone forever--a health issue, a dear friend, a dream you had? Whatever it is, healing begins, and you must move forward. Allow your feelings to emerge, and address each one.

Resistance: The more you resist your pain, the stronger it becomes. Don't repress the grief. It's necessary for healing. When it comes up, give it some time and experience it. Then turn to an activity. Clean the house, go shopping, call a friend. If you allow it to stay too long at a time, you may find it hanging on constantly. But give it time.

Anger: Address your anger. Maybe you have a right to be angry, and that's okay. Stomp your feet. Punch a pillow. Let it out in safe ways.

Depression: It's your inner child who cries. Allow the tears, and let your child know you understand, and you're there with love and comfort. And help him/her smile again.

Reaching out: When you feel strong enough, reach out to others you feel comfortable with. And add positive things in your life. During one of my losses, I went to my Minister for help. She asked if there was anything in my house I thought was beautiful. Nothing was beautiful then, so she said to bring in things I used to think were beautiful, and find renewed joy in those. I was amazed how beauty returned to me. 

In depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. Albert Camus

Acceptance: Release any ill feelings toward anyone, and use positive intention to heal, accept your loss, and move forward. Explore what you've learned from your experience, and express gratitude. You're becoming more of the whole person you're meant to be. And that's a blessing.

May peace replace your losses.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Do You Believe In Angels?

The most incredible thing about angel miracles is that they Happen. G. K. Chesterton

Today's article is a bit different from what I'm used to writing, but it's what's on my mind and feelings now. Angels. Many people scoff at the notion of angels being present in our lives, but surprisingly, according to various polls and investigations, most Americans do believe in them, and can relate some fascinating experiences with them. Since ancient times, angels have existed in many religions. But today we're becoming more open and receptive to all kinds of phenomena, and we find angels portrayed in many areas of our modern life, like movies, songs, TV shows, greeting cards, etc.

I'd like to share with you how I came to believe. For much of my life I never thought seriously about angels until one day during a routine visit to my dentist. I sat with eyes closed as he prodded through my mouth checking each tooth. And suddenly my mind envisioned groups of angels filling one end of the room, glowing with shimmering white light. Out of nowhere, I was astounded. When the dentist paused for another tool to put into my mouth, I opened my eyes, and there they were, those beautiful angels covering one wall of the room. I sat back, breathless, almost unbelieving. Then I felt a hand on my right arm. But the dentist had both of his hands busy with my mouth. Who? What? When he paused again, I looked. And there was one tall, regal angel with her hand on my arm standing in the same space in which the dentist was seated. I asked her name, and she said Agnes. I felt so close to her. And I've believed ever since.

Later I remembered my mother telling the story about Agnes, my beloved caretaker when I was small. Agnes had fallen and was in a coma. My mother put me, a baby, on Agnes' chest, and I crawled up and nuzzled her neck. Then Agnes put her hand over me and said, "My baby." It was told that I saved Agnes' life. A coincidence? I don't think so.

It's not your imagination, sometimes a 'coincidence' comes with a lot of angelic effort. Author Unknown

Another time I was in a hospital waiting to go through a series of tests. There was a mix up about my appointment, and I was there alone for 4 hours. As time passed, I became more uneasy, even scared. As soon as I asked my angels for peace and comfort, a nurse brought me a warm blanket. Then 2 other patients came over and talked with me. Then a friend I hadn't seen in ages saw me and came over to me. Then another patient came across the room, sat next to me and said, "I hope you don't mind, but God told me to give you a message." She told me what God said, a message of peace and comfort. And my heart felt overwhelmed with gratitude. Did my angels arrange that scenario? I believe they did--like all the many other times they've helped me.

It took a while for me to get used to knowing my angels, but now I talk to them everyday, and I feel they're an important part of my life. Every time I ask for help, I end my request with, "Thank you. I love you." And I know they smile.

When you feel lost, pause and look closely around you. Somewhere, somehow, an angel will be waiting to guide you home. Author Unknown

We can't prove angels exist, but the experiences are too remarkable to not be true. If you don't believe, open your mind to the possibility, and see what happens. If you do believe, talk to your angels even when you don't need help, and see what happens. What if we all believed in angels and asked for peace on earth. What do you think would happen?

I wish you many angel moments.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Coping Through Transition From The Old To The New

Every positive change - every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness - involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort. I have never found an exception. Dan Millman

Each change in life is an opportunity for growth, but some changes require a period of transition from letting go of the old to embracing the new. These transition periods may be almost unnoticeable or painfully profound, depending upon the situation. At times like this, we may want to cling to the familiar, but change is inevitable, and it requires that we accept the transitional state and move through it. This is part of the process.

Do you ever feel stuck, like you're spinning your wheels and going nowhere--you're leaving something behind, but not yet moving in a new direction? This can feel like a dark tunnel with no way out and no end to it. A change is taking place, and you're in transition.

 It's a strange feeling, and you don't know how to live it. Examples: You've never been between jobs before, and you don't know how to live idle days. You've just lost your spouse, and you don't know how to deal with the pain and learn to live alone. Your last child just married and moved out, and the house seems so empty. You've developed an illness that's partially incapacitating, and you don't know how you can live a full life now. You've lost your retirement fund, and you don't know how you will manage financially. (That last one happened to me)

At times, we all find ourselves in the tunnel, and we feel lost. But there are ways to live through it with inner and outer work--with an attitude of acceptance and purpose in your situation. You can walk through your tunnel and find the light, stronger and wiser than before.

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Mahatma Gandi

Now is the time to be quiet and listen for that still small voice inside for help. You may fret and stew and/or cry buckets over your situation, but take some deep breaths, and you'll find comfort and direction in the silence. Revisit this inner self several times each day.

Reflect upon your life as you knew it. Then release what worked in the past but is no longer useful, and embrace the resources you still have. Look at your inner strengths, your coping skills, who you are. You're still you, and nothing can take that from you.

While you're waiting for something new to emerge, look at your outer situation, and be clear on what you need--a new job, comfort regarding a loss, new friends, new activities, different medical care and support, financial help? What do you want at the end of this tunnel? Specify your needs and reach out to any resource that can help you cope now and realize your goal in the future. Act on it, and make it happen.

Ask yourself what's the purpose in all this--the change, the confusion and perhaps pain, the transition to something new. Are you supposed to move to a better life position? Are you supposed to learn something? Clarify where you've been, why you're moving on, what you can learn, and what you want to take with you.

When you find yourself in a transition tunnel, pay attention to your thoughts. Are they taking you into despair or are they lifting your spirits to a higher level? While you do what's yours to do, know this is a time of preparation for the next step on your journey. And allow your life to unfold with peaceful thoughts and feelings as you move toward the light at the end of your tunnel. It's there.

May you learn and grow in peace with each transition.


Monday, August 3, 2015

The Pain of Rejection. Bondage or Freedom. Part 2

Often, out of our greatest rejection comes our greatest direction. Joel Osteen

The pain of rejection can inhibit your natural responses to any number of situations in your life. But with self-reflection you can learn a way out and free yourself from feelings and behaviors that hold you back when you yearn to move forward. You can be free to be who you are, but it's important to understand 3 elements of your rejection. And hopefully, you've been researching these questions.
1. How were you rejected?
2. How did it make you feel?
3. How has it been reflected in your life?

And now another question you may not have thought of. Many people, when they feel the pain of rejection, make a vow to regain a sense of power and protect themselves from being hurt in the same way. Vows seem like protection, but they can ultimately lead to loss instead of gain. Example: A child gives a recitation in school, and is rejected by classmates. So he vows to never speak in public again. This vow protects him from pain in the future, but inhibits his natural ability to speak up for himself in other important situations.

Ships in harbor are safe, but that's not what ships are built for. John Shedd 

When I was 6 years old, I cried, heartbroken, when my father died, but my mother didn't comfort me. I felt alone, unimportant, and rejected. To ease my pain, I made a vow to never need anyone again, never expect help, and take care of myself. Looking back, I understand my mother was a widow with 3 children to support in the Great Depression years and didn't realize my need. But I created an image of being independent, not needing help. So over the years no one offered help. And I learned it's lonely being alone inside. How would my life have been different if I had reached out to others without fear of rejection?

If you made a vow when you were hurt, ask in what situations it held you back from being your whole self? Once you have all your answers, it's time to make a choice. You either live with that put-down voice inside, or you choose to free yourself from fear when particular situations come up. Wouldn't it be great to just be yourself all the time?

In the past you chose to accept the rejection, and you ran with it--the criticism, the pain, the knots in your stomach, all the negative stuff that went with it. And you projected it into your life. Well, now you have the true power to reject the rejection. And you can run with that.

If you hear a voice within you say, "you cannot paint", then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. Vincent Van Gogh

1. Intentions are powerful. Write yours out in first person. Examples: I am now gaining all the courage I need, I am now releasing all pain and fear of this rejection situation, I am releasing any fear of change, etc. Choose your own words. And feel them.
2. Self-talk is powerful. When you feel emotional pain, be the adult and speak comforting words to your inner child. Every day explain you're making changes to release his/her pain and fear. And give yourself hugs with a smile.
3. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is an effective exercise to release what you don't want and increase what you do want in your life. Maybe you've heard of it. It involves tapping on various meridian points on your body to create positive changes. It's too much to fully explain in this article, but check out information and videos on the internet. It's easy to learn and it works. With EFT I released the pain of my father's passing.
4. When you hear that voice inside saying, "you can't", stomp your feet and say, "I can." Then move out, be yourself, and do your thing. If you get criticism or rejection, remind yourself that you're here for a purpose only you can fulfill, and you're so important that if you disappeared, there would be a shift in the universe. Smile and know that's true. No matter what, you shine.

I wish you freedom to be wonderful you.