What Happened to You?

Something happened to you. Maybe it was a long time ago. Maybe it was yesterday.

Maybe you were abused, humiliated, ignored. Maybe you were molested, mugged, physically hurt. Maybe you lost a home, a job, money, a loved one.

Whatever it was, you feel angry, frightened, sad. Whatever it was, you can’t get over it.

If it’s sadness, it pierces your soul.

If it’s anger or hatred, it poisons your system.

If it’s fear, it paralyzes you.

If it’s insecurity, it blinds you.

What Did You Do?

Maybe you lied, cheated or abused someone. Maybe you were mean, hateful, unkind. Maybe your words or actions crushed someone’s spirit. Maybe your gossip damaged someone’s reputation.

girl-517555_640

Whatever it was, you feel guilt, remorse, regret. Whatever it was, it makes you cringe inside, it darkens your self-image, it weighs heavy on your heart.

Letting Go

There are things that happened to us and things we have done that cast a shadow over our life. Things we wish we could erase from our slate. Things that creep up on us out of the blue and haunt our waking hours. We are not fully alive because part of us is stuck in the past. Our life force is being drained by regret.

untitled-design-1

People suffer great tragedies in this world, and grieving is a crucial element of healing. But when grief becomes a cloak we cannot shed, we become petrified. Definitions of petrify include:

to make lifeless or inactive
to make rigid or inert like stone

Life goes on. Whether we go with it or not is our choice.  Some have been crushed by tragedy. Some rose like the phoenix from the ashes to inspire, motivate, change laws, start important foundations. They have succeeded in sports, business, life, and love.

Our experiences can empower us or they can petrify us. As James Agee, writes in the play A Death in the Family…

“It’s a kind of a test, Mary, and it’s the only kind that amounts to anything. When something rotten like this happens, then you have your choice. You start to really be alive, or you start to die. That’s all.”

Pain can make us angry and bitter, and reinforce our separateness. Or it can pierce that defensive shell and unleash courage and compassion. It can be the fire that purifies and reveals a deeper dimension of self.

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. Rumi

What side of the seesaw are you on?

Life is a seesaw with ego sitting on one side and Spirit on the other. We are always teetering one way or the other. The ego is the ‘me’ of our individual self with its story, fears, guilts, hungers, and importance. Spirit is the home of our Higher Self, Love, Peace, Forgiveness.

decision-1013712_640-copyLife is a classroom and everything – EVERYTHING – is a lesson. It pushes us to one side of the seesaw or the other. When you have pain and you move fully into your ego, Spirit hits the ground with a big bang. Your ego rises, it becomes inflated. You become totally enmeshed in yourself. You cannot see or feel or think anything beyond your pain, your needs.

As you begin to let go of the ego, it slowly drifts down and Spirit rises. Your vision expands. Your heart opens. Out of the ashes new life emerges. 

Joseph Campbell said, “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” If not joy, then love. Love of a person or pet, love of nature, art, God. Dwell on love and you will find forgiveness, peace and healing.

What Did You Do This Summer?

This is a new type of article I will occasionally be posting. Aside from this blog, I had been publishing a separate travel blog. From now on, any articles about our travels will appear on this website and feature thought-provoking quotes by famous people from places we’ve visited.

First, a little background for those who don’t know my history…

My husband and I were married in 1995. By the following year, we had sold bothmobile-home-156914_640 our homes and bought the first of three motorhome buses. Over the next 6 years, we explored the United States and Canada from coast to coast.

Deciding to leave this continent and see the rest of the world, we sold the last motorhome and bought a condo in south Florida as a home base. Over the following years, we spent extended amounts of time in Europe, China, India, and Egypt, and took cruises around South America and Africa, to Antarctica, New Zealand, and Australia.

With the small amount of time we were spending in Florida, this question was bound to arise…

Why Own a Home?

There are some things we do without thinking. It is the normal lifestyle, the way we are supposed to live. For most people, owning or renting a home does make sense. For us, it didn’t. We don’t have children, our parents are gone, we’re retired and our lifestyle is travel.

Due to the real estate collapse, we were not able to sell our condo until 2011. We sold it fully furnished and put our few remaining possessions in a small storage locker. I will never forget the closing date: 1/11/11. Two days later we left on our second world cruise. We have been what I call modern day nomads ever since.

Remember when you returned to school in the fall and everyone asked: What did you do this summer? Our travels took us to the birthplaces of some very interesting and wise native sons.

New England

Upon leaving Lake Placid, New York, we spent a week in Burlington, Vermont. As everyone knows by now, Vermont is the home of Bernie Sanders. It is also the birthplace of two U.S. presidents: Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge who said…

No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.

We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.

Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped.

A brief stop in New Hampshire and then it was on to Maine for a month. With its scenic coastline, quaint towns, and lobster and clam bakes, there is no place like Maine in the summer.

p1130347While in Bangor, we saw the home of Stephen King. Best known for his horror and supernatural stories, his talents are not limited to those genres. But talent alone isn’t what made him one of the most prolific and successful writers of our time. As he says…

stephen_king_comicon
Stephen King

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.

The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool. 

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win. 

We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.

It’s a mystery. That’s the first thing that interests me about the idea of God. If there is one, it’s mysterious and powerful and awesome to even consider the concept, and you have to take it seriously.

Canada

fullsizerender
Visiting friends in Vermont

From Maine, we drove to Canada and stayed in several lovely towns in Quebec. One was close to Vermont and we were able to drive down to see friends who have a beautiful home just over the border.

The inimitable William Shatner, now 85 and still going strong, is originally from Quebec. The star of Star Trek and Boston Legal has said…

William Shatner as Capt. Kirk
William Shatner

We meet aliens every day who have something to give us. They come in the form of people with different opinions.

I’m surfing the giant life wave. 

The conundrum of free will and destiny has always kept me dangling. 

Ottawa was the one major Canadian city we did not get to visit during our travels in Canada. So we made a point of stopping there this time. The capital of the country sits on the Ottawa River, has beautiful parks and walking paths. Tourists flock to visit the majestic Parliament Hill and to watch boats pass through Rideau Canal.

Parliament Hill Ottawa
Parliament Hill Ottawa
Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal

Comedian, screenwriter Dan Akroyd was born in Ottawa…

We must come to the point where we realize the concept of race is a false one. There is only one race, the human race.

I’ve always been a big fan of science fiction and of the worlds of the spiritual and the mystic.

You look at the floor and see the floor. I look at the floor and see molecules.

Back to the States

Upon leaving Ottawa, we made a couple of stops in upper New York State before reaching the home of my alma mater: the State University of New York at Oneonta. It was a great honor to return to receive  the Alumni of Distinction award. Making it all the Version 3more special was to have the award presented by two sorority sisters who live in Oneonta and are active at the college. And to top the occasion off, two of my former roommates, sorority sisters and longtime friends came to Oneonta to be with me. It was a wonderful way to wrap up our summer of 2016.

What are You Choosing to See and Be?

The world is our mirror. It reflects back to us the content of our predominant thoughts. We may think we are positive people, but we all harbor negative judgments, fears, insecurities. In fact, human beings have an inclination to be negative.

According to a report on the Cleveland Clinic Wellness site a while ago, “Each person has an average of 60,000 thoughts a day! That’s one thought per second in every waking hour! Amazingly, 95 percent are the same thoughts repeated every day. On average, 80 percent of those habitual thoughts are negative.”

With that amount of ANTS (automatic negative thoughts), we can’t be living the best life possible. All too often we helicopter-1598077_640function on automatic pilot, letting our impulses and conditioning control our lives. While negative thinking, worry, stress and fear are natural, we can rise above them.

We have instincts but we also have choices. We have fear but we also have love. There is ugliness in the world but there’s also beauty. There is hatred but there is also kindness. There is darkness but there is also light. The choice is ours.

In the following letter written by Fra Giovanni in 1513, he urges a friend to see beyond the shadows…

manuscript-729617_640

I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not got, but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see – and to see we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by the covering, cast them away as ugly, or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty – beneath its covering – that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage, then, to claim it, that is all. But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are all pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.

And so, at this time, I greet you. Not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.

Make the Best of the Rest of Your Life

We can bemoan the injusticecandle-1342414_640 in the world or we can be a beacon of light in the darkness.
We can separate or we can join. We can be guided by fear or by faith. We can be apathetic or enthusiastic. We can surrender to our genes and conditioning, our regrets and grievances or we can take responsibility for what we think and feel and do. Relinquish that responsibility, and the power of choice is forfeited.

As you make your daily choices, remember…

Focus of attention creates. Change your mind and you change your life.

It is never what is happening that upsets us. It is always what we think about what’s happening.

Happiness comes from inside not outside.

Gratitude = great attitude. Pessimism and cynicism are hazardous to your health.

Growth comes from going beyond our boundaries.

The greatest ally or enemy you will ever have is your own thinking.

There is beauty in the world and in our minds.

Take time to relax and refresh yourself.

Take time to discover and pursue what you really enjoy.

Be kind to yourself, patient and forgiving. Take the lessons from your mistakes and let the self-recrimination go.

Take time to be kind. Wherever you are, there is someone you can make a little happier.

Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world. Annie Lennox

heart-1213475_640

Compassionate listening is an act of love, and a gift more precious than words. Take time to listen.

Open your mind to new ideas. Open your heart to a pet, a child, a lonely neighbor.

Most of us have built walls around ourselves. We are in a constant state of self-defense. We are afraid of being hurt, disappointed, betrayed, rejected. Our fears imprison us. Let the walls down.

So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key. The Eagles

The key is choice. Set yourself free. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, thinking, feeling, doing, choose again.

Adapted from: Make the Best of the Rest of Your Life