Category Archives: encouragement

“Wakeup Calls”

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 if not now

I don’t think I can count how many times I’ve been given a wakeup call. They come in one way or another like a health issue that pops up putting a scare in your life. An accident where you realize you’re lucky to still be alive. The loss of a pet, friend or loved one. These are all life altering scenarios that call for a change in our life.

So, the question becomes, “If not now, when?”

For as Mark Nepo says in his reading today, “There is no tomorrow, only a string of todays.”

 

 

“Letting Go of Control…Reconnects The Soul”

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I had a friend once who seemed to have it all. She was smart, well educated, successful, classy, charismatic, faithful church goer, involved, and giving in so many ways. However, when it came to her own pain and suffering she didn’t know how to let go of the control she used to make everything else in her life work so well.

I made her up a care bag full of things I thought might help her through this journey. It had a stress ball to squeeze when the pain got bad. Lavender Epson salts to soak and relax in the bathtub. Chocolate kisses to treat herself with a bit of decadence, and a Meditation CD to calm her thoughts enough to meet right in the middle with God. She loved the bag of goodies and was eager to try anything, but when I checked in with her a few days later she said that she didn’t know how to make any of it work for her. I knew right away what she was talking about. I’d been there myself many times. It’s because we get in the way, trying to take control of what we can’t do in the normal scheme of things on our own. As a matter of fact it doesn’t seem logical at all. I mean how can anything change if we don’t take control of the situation, right? Well how’s that working for you so far?

I tell myself It’s all about going deeper reaching within my soul to reconnect not only with the God who created me, but with everything else He created as well. Reeducating myself constantly to touch base with what I instinctively know, but sometimes forget along the way. Opening myself to trust in what I know in my heart, but can’t explain in words. I think how easy it is..when I get out of the way

“Finding The Rightness within Right”

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“Being “right” is the easy part. Finding the “rightness” within the opposite point of view is the challenge.” -Barry Johnson “Polarity Management”

I read this quote and thought of all the controversy and rhetoric that so many of us were caught-up in just a month or so ago. I don’t know about you but I’ve taking a step back lately needing to catch my breath and move onto healthier hopeful positive things that bring some goodness back into my life. It’s created some wedges between me and some of the people I care about. I find it’s unfortunate because it’s behind the wall of the internet that so many things have been said, misunderstood, taking out of context and assumed without the advantage and respect of a face to face conversation. Body language and facial expression play a big part in expression our passions. But more than that don’t we owe at least the benefit of the doubt to those we loved and cherished for so many other reasons that go beyond politics?

I looked at the front page of the Lancaster newspaper today. Jeff Hawkes a reporter for the LNP had a perfect article called the “Bridge Tables” to go with the thought provoking quote above. It’s about a way of bringing people of different political views together in a way that they can discuss their differences in a respectful way with nothing between them except the table they sit at. The event is called the Left/Right Café and the premise behind it is to heal America’s political divide. The organizers Eric Sauder and Jamie Beth Schindler’s idea is for liberals and conservatives to come together for a respectful conversation getting past stereotypes and broadening understanding in a safe comfortable environment. Breaking bread and sharing food often has a way of bringing people together in a non- threating way. The hope is to find some understanding and a place of common ground, and from the article it appears that’s what these willing conversations did. It opened each other’s eyes that sometimes what is right to us is not so different from what the other persons believes, but even if it’s not giving one a chance to explain themselves can allow us to better agree to disagree. And who knows maybe we’d learn a fact or two that holds some truth within it giving us a chance to broaden our perspective on beliefs.

For local readers, I’ll pass on that if you want to know more you can contact Jamie Beth Shchindler at LANCoalition@gmail.com

 

“I Can See Clearly Now”

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I looked up at the sky this morning seeing the moon as if halfway here, and halfway there. I’m reminded as my day begins that I can choose to see this or that it will all depend on the conscious effort I make to see what life has to show me today.

Whether it’s a crack, splinter or wrinkle in time these are the moments created for us to stop right where we are, and peek through the openings. Why do things have to break, hurt and get messed up before we see what’s been there all along? We build these invisible walls without much thought as we go about our days unconsciously. We don’t even have to wait for bad things to happen to get our attention, all we have to do is lift the veil that covers our clarity like a curtain at a window that distorts our view. Have you ever peered through a whole in a broken pane of glass? Looking as if you are seeing from a better perspective. There is nothing different to be seen than what was there before it broke, and if you simple make the effort to walk to the other side of the window there is a world of unlimited things to be seen, learned, and discovered. I don’t know about you, but I sure do make things much more difficult than their meant to be in my life simply because I don’t take the time to do what’s in my best interest. So today I’m making a conscious effort to lift the veil on my own and maybe even move beyond it by stepping through some of those openings. Then not only will I have the opportunity to see what they have to show me, but even better experiencing it with every part of my being.

“Lucy Goes To School”

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It’s actually called “People Training For Dogs.”

That’s right, my Connie is going to school to learn how to get me to do what she wants me to do, but I am really training her how to keep giving me treats.

The first day of school she packs my lunch with only one kind of boring treat. It didn’t take long for me to lose interest in doing anything but playing with the Great Dane next to me. She was a gentle giant. There was tiny Chihuahua on the other side smaller then me. We played together too. The teacher had to come over and try her hand at training me. She had better treats so I did what she asked me too. My Connie tried and tried to get my attention, and I do love her, but I get distracted so easily at my age. Finally the nice lady next to us gave her some food to work with. It was real chicken, yum! Now that’s some good stuff that gets my attention.

My Connie’s homework is to be a living walking cookie jar for me. I mean what kid wouldn’t want their Mom to walk around giving them treats all day. I did learn a lot of things though, my name, to come when called, to sit and even lay down. I think I must be the luckiest dog in the world! I love my new family even that big guy Tom. He’s kind of like that Great Dane, a gentle giant he seems a bit scary but he actually loves me too.

“Doing The Best We Can”

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The Story of the Hummingbird

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Michael Nicoll Yahgullanaas

One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest – a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.

This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.” And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?”

And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”

I often feel like the tiny hummingbird in this great big world. Only I am more like the animals that stand in at the edge of the stream watching the chaos happening right in front of me. I become so overwhelmed by the size of the problem that all I think about is the problem itself rather then what I can do to put the fire out that the problem created in the first place. We all hear the gentle buzz of the hummingbirds’ wings inside us. It’s that little tiny voice trying to be heard over the roar of the fire. It’s calling us to do something. But how can little-ol-me do anything to change what’s wrong in the world? There’s always something we can do whether we can fly the plane that drops tons of water or fly like the little hummingbird with one drop at a time. We do what we can…simple by using what we’ve been blessed with to make a difference.

“Let The Words Go”

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Monkey

I read an ancient Chinese story the other day that sounded a lot like the kind of parables Jesus used to teach his lessons.

If you want to trap a monkey, hollow out a cocoanut just big enough for its open hand to reach inside. Place rice in the carved-out fruit, and leave it in the path of the monkey. Sooner or later, a hungry monkey will smell the rice and reach its hand in.  But once fisting the rice, its hand will no longer fit back out through the opening. The monkeys that get caught are those who won’t let go of the rice, and as long as the monkey maintains its grip on the rice, it becomes a prisoner of its own making. The trap works because the money’s hunger is the master of its reach.

I’ve been that monkey in many different situations throughout my life. With my hand fisted in the cocoanut I can’t for the life of me figure out why I could reach in, but can’t pull it back out. So, I too have become a prisoner of my own making because I can’t see that what I want the most is holding me back and until I let it go, I won’t be able to see the actual freedom it creates for me.

I keep thinking it has something to do with the story of I’ve been trying to write since I was a teen. And I do feel as if I’m chained to it in a way. No matter how many times I try to let it go the hunger to finish it comes back. So, as I’m thinking of this lesson of the monkey I can’t get the thought out of my mind that maybe it’s trying to tell me something about letting go of this want and desire. Then the clarity comes to me. What lies within my fist are the words of my story and as long as I hold onto them I’ll remain a prisoner of what I actually believe will never be accomplished.

Now I could have never come up with that kind of answer without sieving my thoughts through the spirit of God.

“Diversity”

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Diversity. 

The definition of diversity means variety or very different. Everything in the universe is different even within their own categories. For instance when you look up in the sky at night you see all kinds of stars, each is different in shape and size, but they’re still stars. Flowers are my favorite example here. There are all kinds with many different shapes, sizes, fragrance, and colors. Put a few together and what do you have? A beautiful bouquet of different flowers. How boring it would be if there was only one kind to pick from. God created our world of many different things and it is nature that teaches us that being who and what we are is enough in itself. It doesn’t fight over which one is the best it just enjoys being what it is, giving to the world what it has to give, and sharing in the wealth of its combined efforts.

Variety is the spice of life, and it is we humans who get to enjoy all of God’s creations and what they have to offer. Yet we cannot see what nature has to teach us about the diversity we have within our own humankind. How wonderful it would be to put our diversity together like flowers. I think it would make a beautiful bouquet of humankind. Don’t you!

“As Long As You Are Breathing”

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As I went through my own struggle with my health issues this past year it was difficult to think of anything else except what I was going through. Bringing myself into a place of mindfulness that reminded me that I wasn’t living now and that I can’t ever get this time back took a conscious effort.

In Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes, “As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than there is wrong, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel.”

He goes onto say:

“When we’re ill, we obsess about what’s going wrong in the body. We don’t think about the fact that since we’re alive virtually everything in the body is going right! And when we’re healthy, how often do we celebrate our good health? Hardly ever, for most of us.

So I’m going to suggest that you devote more mental space to celebrating and rejoicing in the ordinary things that are going right, and that you’re doing right, in your life.

-When you’re driving, notice that you’re driving with care and attention, and celebrate this. Say to yourself things like “Yay, me!”

-When you’re reading, pause once in a while and rejoice in the fact that you can read. (As a father whose oldest child is only just beginning to stumble through reading primers, I’m at the stage of recognizing how amazing this is.)

-Notice that you’re conscious. What an amazing thing that is! No one has the faintest idea what consciousness is — how matter interacting with matter can create this thing called “experience.” You’re a miracle!

-Pause and celebrate your good health. Say “thank you” to your body. If you’re in bad health, rejoice in the fact that your body is forever trying to heal itself, and that most things in your body are in fact functioning.

-Celebrate having access to clean drinking water, clean air, food.

-Celebrate having clothing and having possessions. If you’re poor and live in the developed world, you’re probably still richer than 90% of the world’s population.

-Celebrate family and friends.

-Celebrate the fact that you’re alive.

-Celebrate that you’re able to celebrate.