Affirmation Archive 2014-2015

 

Accept each individual as they are without judgment and you will know peace.

Sunday afternoon I visited my daughter and family; got in a little Lila and Katherine time.  Just being present; no agenda; no “should” or “have to” moments.  Just being a part of their Sunday, relaxing, chatting, watching, holding.

During my time there, my son-in-law and I had a conversation about judgment; about how it’s so human to judge a situation or a person, and how hard it is when the spotlight is turned onto self.  Also how hard it is when I’ve made a judgment and then find myself in the same situation as what I judged.  How hard, sometimes, it is to be kind.  What if, instead of judging, I just allowed everyone else to figure out their business, take care of making it better or working it out, and then celebrated the learning experience with them?

What if I was more kind?

It’s hard not to judge; I’ve done plenty judging of others and I used to judge myself a lot.  All that judging created a bunch of negativity, guilt, discomfort and sorrow.  What I have learned is that I need to allow myself to grow – through experience, through trusting my instinct and then making a decision, through living out the results of those decisions.  Changing direction if need be. I’ve also learned that I do a lot better when I allow others the same amount of room to experience, trust, decide and live their outcome.

I’m 56 years old and I make mistakes.  What a surprise.  However, I learn a lot more quickly and I bounce back a lot faster. I pick myself up, dust myself off and move forward, evaluating what I’ve learned from the experience.  I don’t live IN the past; rather, I take the lessons from the past and apply them as needed.  I’m smart; I’m capable; I’m still learning. Thank goodness; I hope that never stops.

I wonder what the world would be like if each of us took the time to treat ourselves gently – be more kind to ourselves – and apply the same to others. To the indifferent guy at the gas station. The lady that takes our spot in line. The neighbor that gets our hackles up. What if WE shifted a bit, neutralized and accepted them where they’re at and stepped away without making judgment? Maybe our kindness – or at a minimum our neutrality – would make for a better interaction.  Maybe. 

Quite possibly so.

Today I pray that I release negative thought, step back from judgment and allow myself a break – and the same for all those whose lives I touch. Just for today. And then maybe I can build on that tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that.  Praying that I / you / we can move through the day catching ourselves as we begin a judging moment, stop and just be.  Allow others the same kindness. Shift attitude.

Blessings as you interact today – breathing in, breathing out, breathing love.

 

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” – Carl Jung

Early this morning Leonard made it known that he needed a drink of water and a potty break.  This might seem odd in relation to today’s affirmation, however this mid-sleep break gave me an opportunity to step out into the deep, dark night and have a look at the night sky.

Stars shimmered and clouds moved – it wasn’t a clear sky, but it wasn’t fully clouded, either. I took a deep breath of the night air, grateful that it wasn’t so cold out, and thought, “Isn’t that a beautiful sight?”

Sometimes when caught in the middle of something that seems out of order, unusual, daunting, or unknown, it’s hard to SEE the order, or to believe that there might BE order, and it’s hard to trust that the end result of “the something” might be just what I needed or wanted.  It gets back to that issue of trust, which gets me back to the middle of the unknown, which gets me back to reflection, surrender and trusting in the secret order of the cosmos.  And trusting in the cosmos-maker.

As a God-believer, I often have to surrender and place things in the hands of the Divine, continuing to do my business, believing that what I can’t see yet will be good for me.  Just as when I take that curving road I have to trust that my angels are with me as I go along, keeping me safe and sound.  Literally.

Sometimes when I feel off-centered, I wonder what the niggling or anxiety might be, and realize that I’m simply unsettled and that I just have to “ride this one out.”  So – today I pray for a shift from anxiousness to peace.  Peace, peace, and more peace as I / you / we go about our business and do, do, do.

Blessings on your star-gazing.

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.


This morning I began writing on this affirmation and everything was coming out wrong; my thoughts weren’t connected, the things that were coming into my head didn’t make sense. So I stopped, went out to my studio and took photographs of angels.

So here’s the deal: It has been snowing all day; I wanted to write something about learning and teachers and how everyone we meet is our teacher. And then, as I was doing research this evening on symbolism of flowers (God help me!) I went to a website and, well, here we are.

It’s about snow. It’s about a ton of snow that seems to have fallen today, put me off my center and it just seems that this is what I’m to share with you –

From Meaningful Life Center about snow (and as it amazingly relates to today’s affirmation, which is what makes this all so amazing (a dot-connecting experience)):

“Let us explore the spirit within the snow.

“Water in all its forms is a symbol of knowledge. Descending water represents the transmission of knowledge from a higher to a lower place, the flow of information from teacher to student. On a cosmic level, rain and snow reflect different ways in which divine energy flows to us from a higher spiritual plane.

“If water – the divine wisdom – were to flow continuously, it would totally submerge and obliterate, not allowing space for any other existence. So water flows in various measures to allow for the transmission to be internalized. Sometimes water flows as rain and sometimes it freezes to different degrees producing snow, hail or sleet, which are all metaphors for the teacher monitoring and transforming the flow into forms that the student can contain and assimilate.

“A snowflake needs at least two components in order to form. In addition obviously to cold air, it requires water droplets (vapor), and a nucleus. The nucleus is made up of dust, minerals or other microscopic particles in the air. A snowflake is formed when water takes shape around these microscopic particles and the cold air turns it into ice crystals. Thus snow has two components: water and earth – earth being the particles, and the water being the droplets. Earth is the material world – without any recognition of Godliness; water is the knowledge of God – divine energy without any containers. Thus snow, being half heaven and half earth provides the perfect intermediary between these two worlds.”

So (me again), it seems that my initial intuition to write about snow has been filled by someone else writing about snow, and my JOY comes through the Divine working through someone else, awakening MY joy, allowing me to be creative all day long, and no guilt, no shame, just happiness and relief.

I pray that I continue to learn, to be open to, and to accept others’ knowledge with which I am blessed. For all of us, I pray for eyes wide open to look and see the snowflake, to open our hearts, and to hear what it is that God wants to tell us. Maybe it’s just to be amazed at creation? Whatever it is, ear muffs off – amplifiers on.
Blessings on your sleep.

I choose to live in the light of my truth today.

Zainab Salbi writes, “The most meaningful thing for me is to live my truth. To know that I’m living what I value, I’m doing things I believe in, and I’m doing them now rather than waiting. And to know that if I die today, I would die a content and full woman.”

What do I value and how will I live out that value?

I value God’s Grace. This daily gift is what I value most and what I want to share most with others through kindness, compassion, listening, holding, forgiving, rejoicing, being present. I will also fill my cup as I need and as I should, and I will be of service. More.

I value Family and Friends. This gift I will value by continuing to love fiercely (even if from afar), by being present with those near me. I need to actively remind each of their value to me. I need to better connect or reconnect. I will better balance my time in order to spend more time. I will say, “I love you” more often, making sure its vibration is heard AND felt.

I value My Vocation. I value this gift of daily purpose.  I will live it out by working hard, by actively listening, withholding judgment, and by gentle sharing as the Spirit moves me.

Living my truth means that I live actively – that I do what I can to make a positive difference; that I give as I can, where I can, however I can. That I also receive, encounter, be present. And that, hopefully, I leave this world a better place than I found it.

Blessings today as we all move about, touching other’s lives with our words, our smiles, our presence.  I pray that all of us define our truths as they are, that we remember to place value as it should be, and that we live positively, making a difference. Actively. Fruitfully.  Grace-fully.  Blessings as we go.

“Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind.” – Gautama Buddha

I’m not particularly crazy about writing about this today; resentment registers on the shadow side, the side that I do NOT like to explore. Along with resentment, its friends anger and selfishness reside; pride, fear; self-pity, too. Lots of others that I’d rather not face; “dirty laundry” for all to see.

After my job was “eliminated”, I was left in a cycle of depression and anxiety for months. Worse, I held on to my resentment (and anger) for five years. FIVE YEARS! Finally tiring of the anger, I faced my resentment – which led to a lot of processing, surrendering, and then prayerful releasing. Hard, hard work.

Today’s affirmation uses the word “cherished”. Cherishing my resentment included a lot of mulling and creating a lot more “scene” than what I’m sure was the reality. Reflecting on today’s affirmation has helped me to realize that all that “cherishing” fueled the resentment and, therefore, fueled the anger, placing me in a crazy, unproductive cycle of energy consumption that took such a long time to release.

And because of my clouded vision I couldn’t see that there was a plan for me; something better. After tasting the “good fruit”, I can say that I wouldn’t trade where I am now for all the money, power and pretense I previously held. Grace-fully, I eventually made it over the hurdle from victim to victorious.

Today I pray that, as I continue to explore my shadow side, I continue to make progress, one past experience at a time. No “shoulda, woulda, coulda”, but rather a release of the old and a welcoming of the new. For you, I pray that you see any thoughts of resentment as what they are – stumbling blocks to a better you. The one who chooses to process, surrender, release – and taste the good fruit.

Strap on your work boots – and blessings upon blessings on OUR exploration – I know I’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

I am connected with everyone and everything in the universe.

When my daughter was living abroad, I would often look up at the night sky and think that, if she stepped out and looked at the same time, we would be seeing the same sky; different stars, but within the same universe.

Naive thinking?  Probably; but it was and is about connection.  Like a ripple on the water after a pebble toss, I see the ripple as consequence of my action.  But as the pebble makes its descent toward the bottom of the lake, my toss has changed the water ever so slightly, connecting me to the water, the weeds, the fish, the shoreline that has changed ever so slightly, and so on.

Through the air and the wind, our breath is inextricably linked to all living things. We live in a world of exchange; a world of connection. Breathing out, my breath moves with the wind, connecting me to all things the wind caresses.  Simplistic thought? At first glance, yes.  At second glance, not so much.

Thinking about action and consequence fires a desire within to live my life positively. To do good. To act with kindness and compassion, keeping in mind that even the smallest act has consequence and connection.

Today I pray that all of us are (just a bit more) mindful of thought, word and deed. That we act with good intention, imagining rippling water, remembering our connection to all of the universe. I pray that we breathe deeply, exhale, and then move forward positively. Each of us creating positive vibration, positive change, positive thought. One everyone – and one everything – all within our one universe, one breath, thought, word or deed at a time.

Faith and doubt both are needed – not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve.

Here I am, beginning the new year – both in faith and in doubt.  I find it amusing in a way; I have so much faith that I’m doing the right things, pushing myself in the right direction with the guidance of Spirit, yet there is always just a smidgen of doubt that cuts right to the quick and creates a feeling of uncertainty about what I’m doing.  Welcome, Nina, to January.

I realize that this is cyclical. I go through this same thing every January.  I come off of a great 4th quarter, a wonderful year, really; meeting wonderful people, engaging in faith-full conversation, listening to and holding story.  I’ve successfully come through the year, having made the goals I’d set for myself, and then *POOF!* all the anxiety of the unknown comes crashing down niggling at my confidence that I’ve no direction, no clue, no certainty – no nothin’.

However, along with that is movement forward.  Slow but consistent chugging toward that unknown curve. Living with uncertainty, I have to trust, I have to persevere, I have to have faith that everything I’ve been discerning is correct and that I am moving in the right direction.

It’s hope – or maybe I’m hope-full.  I need to think on that.  What I do believe, though, is that I will make it through to the other side, maybe a little scuffed up, definitely a little rough around the edges, but whole, and complete, and progressing.  Continually.  One step at a time.

I’ve moved from the darkness of deepest December and am already seeing change in the hours, the light; change in the degrees of the sun; I know that brighter, longer, beautiful days are ahead. Not that there isn’t beauty in the deep, dark quiet, but rather that the times that bring about new life just seem much more affirming to me.  Those are the days that are more life-giving to my soul – or are they? I find rest life-giving.  I find sleep life-giving. I find in the darkness more time for contemplation.  Well, then, which is it?  Another thing to evaluate and think on.  (Add it to the list, Miss.)

Enough of the rambling; I guess that means it’s time to make lists. Write down the things that I plan to do to continue progressive and forward movement.  Tick off each task as it’s completed, reach out as much as I can to those that can offer help through their knowledge, or through a kind word; maybe a few moments of presence or simply an acknowledgment that I’m not alone in all of this; a neon sign of sorts, signaling community – that we are all connected, and that they are lifting me up, praying for me, wishing me well.  Just as I am doing for them. For you. For us.

With gratitude for a great year now closed, and gratitude for a fresh slate of days and months ahead.  Full of possibility, promise, joy, lots of faith and a dusting of doubt to keep me on my toes.  Praying that you are as full of excitement as I am to see what unfolds as we hurl and whirl toward – and around – the unknown curve.  Blessings upon blessings as you and I make our way.

 

Happy Christmas!

Go in peace for this is the gift of God to us all – And may the God who spoke to an ordinary woman speak in YOUR life; the God who came as a vulnerable child touch you in YOUR vulnerability; the Spirit join you in songs of JOY.

Amen and amen.  Happy Christmas, all!!!

 

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” Anne Lamott

The winter solstice is nearly here and the darkness of the days grows longer – for just a little bit – and then the noticeable shift back to longer days of light begins. I love this time of the year; the anticipation of coming to the end of one thing, beginning the next.

Hope begins in the dark. I feel as though there is a spiral that’s a bit out of control taking me into the center of darkness; it’s as though I don’t even realize I’m going down deeper into the darkness until I’m actually immersed, and then I realize and feel my anxiety because I cannot see what surrounds me. I have to settle myself; find my balance in the dark and then let go of the anxiousness and fear and watch for the dawn. Hope for the dawn. Wait for the dawn – and then, blissfully, dawn arrives. Every single day.

For a few more days, I want to sleep in, let go and simply wait for the change of light to arrive. I like the idea of hibernation until the days lengthen, but that’s not what today’s affirmation is suggesting. Instead, I am being called to wait, watch and work. To continue as I have been, to move through the days one by one, and to be hopeful. And so, that is what I will do.

This dark morning, I pray for the gift of light and the gift of light-ness. To have burdens, worries, fears released, and to welcome the sharing of the load, the gift of trust, the knowing that I am not alone. I remember and am grateful for all of those family and friends who journey alongside me – physically, mindfully, spiritually – helping to make my days lighter, all of us together, watching and working toward the dawn. I pray the same for you – that we find our hope, that we realize that lightness is near, just around the corner, and that we rest in the need to be patient.

Embracing the darkness for just a few more days, looking forward to the lightness of Grace. Blessings as you move about the day, with warmth and hope in your heart.

Everything that seems empty is full of the angels of God.  – St. Hilary

This affirmation gives me hope that in the quietest of times, there is still much work being done.

I’m still sitting with the quiet. I am working on trusting, giving over, surrendering – all of which are an on-going process and leave me in quiet.  Although I feel God moving in my life, I often can’t see the movement and so things feel empty.  I wonder what St. Hilary was experiencing when he wrote this?

We have just started the season of Advent.  It’s a season of waiting, watching, wondering.  It’s a time when the days become their shortest, the nights their longest, and the cold and wind often cut through the layers of clothes and coats, reaching the bone.  It’s hard to get warm, hard to get moving.  I feel a bit empty and stagnant, and find myself easily becoming impatient with the waiting, watching and wondering!

But that’s the lesson, isn’t it?  To learn patience. To anticipate what’s yet to come and to settle into the emptiness, finding comfort in the darkness as it envelops, holds and calls me to quiet down. To trust that, in that emptiness, angels are surely at work.

And so today, in the gloom of a gray sky devoid of the warmth and brightness of sun, I breathe deeply and relax my shoulders, readying myself to move from hearth and home to studio.  To work.  To pray. To simply be.

Today I pray that I / you / we can settle into what SEEMS empty, but isn’t.  That we can trust that God and the angels are busy at work, helping us in the quiet to find our next step.  That we can find the patience we need to sit, be still and listen for the quiet voice that moves us from point A to point B.  May we find peace with that, in that, and through that.  Amen. May it be so.

I will live today as I want to remember my life.

Been doing a lot of processing this week. This affirmation sums up all that processing quite nicely.

My life has been out of balance; I am spending too much time on the road, away from home, away from my family. How do I create balance, stay true to my call, stay energized, accomplish those things that I’m meant to do?

Intention, Grace, Trust.

My daughter asked me to be more present in my granddaughters’ lives. I am working hard on that. I’ve missed birthday parties and gatherings because of my schedule and have tried to make up that time by stopping in on other days. It’s not perfect, but it does allow me one-on-one time that I wouldn’t otherwise have and, well, it’s the best I can do for right now. I am setting my intention now to make more time in 2015. My granddaughters have many lessons to teach me.

My partner has asked me to be more present so that our quality of life can be improved. I can see, appreciate and fully understand the importance of precious time together, whether doing or not doing. Sharing meals, sharing talk, sharing dreams. In order to make that happen, I am reviewing 2014 and looking with a fresher perspective at the possibilities for 2015. As such, I am setting my intention to be a better partner, more present, more open, more energized.

I want to be more present with my friends. Really present. Engaged. Knowing whether and when they’re coming or going, what’s happening with their families, listening to and holding their stories. I am, therefore, setting the intention to co-create opportunities to share time with them, to let them know how much I love them, and to remind them of their importance in my life.

I feel a need to be more present at my church home. My ministry is a wonderful, life-giving and amazing gift, however it doesn’t fill my need for regular worship in community, nor does it allow me the opportunity to fill my cup. I am setting my intention, then, that as my time might become more my own rather than run by my schedule (yes, the very schedule I’ve managed to place upon myself), I will create opportunities to be present more often, drink from the well, and do a better job of being a part of my church community.

I am so grateful to be able to build relationship with all those who come into “my tent” – I am grateful to have family, friends and church family who are patient with my journey and incredibly supportive of what I do and how I’ve been doing it. I hear that I am missed and I am listening to that, for it is the sound of Grace.

And so I begin a shift. Not certain what that end result might look like, but trusting that to shift is the right thing and, that through the shifting, life will begin to look a lot more like the one I want to remember.

And so today, with immense gratitude for all of the gifts I’ve been given through people, place and time, I pray for Grace. The Grace required to make change and to create a life more full of those things that bring life. My family, my friends, my faith, my community. I pray for all of us that we learn to make better time – that if we’re not already living life the way we want to remember it, that we change, shift, make room. We are so incredibly blessed and loved; let our hearts be filled with gratitude, love and grace. Amen – and may it be so.

Lord, I place my trust in you.

Not just an affirmation, but also a surrender.  There’s a reminder in this that I place everything I am, have, desire, care about – into the hands of The Divine.  It’s also a reminder to surrender my will and offer it up to The Divine.  The reality is that I’m not in control, even when I think I am, and I need to simply let go.

I’ve been processing a lot in the last week.  In the midst of entering my last month of shows and sales for the year, I’m also in the process of discerning my call to Spiritual Direction.  It’s an on-going process, and it’s a bit like dipping my foot into the pool and then taking my temperature; dipping again, and seeing if there’s change.  I have to trust my gut instincts, the feedback of my body, and my intuition.  There’s a lot of prayer involved, too, and there’s not a day when my self-worth doesn’t get a bit of badgering – whether it’s keeping it in check through an exercise in humility or by knocking myself off the pedestal either I’ve attempted to climb or that someone has placed me on.

And all this struggle and processing are good.

Change is in the air – I can feel it.  What that means for me, I’m not certain – but it places me in a position where I simply have to trust, turn it over, and surrender to the unknown.  Feeling my way through my life as it currently is, savoring every moment, believing that I’m on the right path until a signal comes that shows me it’s time to stop, detour, or take a slightly different path.

Being in a place of uncertainty does not come easy for me.  I am a person who likes to be in control, who doesn’t like surprises, and who wants to get to the end of the trip sooner rather than later.  However, instead of rushing in like a tidal wave, I am to be patient, stand in the uncertainty and trust that all will be just as it’s meant.

And, so, Lord:  I place my trust in You.  And with that, I pray for signs that I’m on the right trail, that I’m doing the right things that are truly good and pleasing in the eyes of The Divine.  And for me / you / we, I pray for calm, peace and sanity, with time for reflection and appreciation for all that we have, as we enter – soon – the Holiday Season.  Praying thanks for family, friends, Divine Intervention when needed.  Praying, breathing, living gratitude.  Amen – may it be so.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.  It will flash forth like shining from shook foil. – Gerard Manley Hopkins

Not so much an affirmation, but a nudge to look outside at the first snow and to see the beauty and grandeur of God’s play with nature – the clean white blanket of the first snow!

At 5:30AM I took Leonard out to experience his first snow after several attempts to get him outside on his own.  Biting at the snow and shaking his largely-jowled head, he jumped straight up like a cat several times navigating his way in the newly-fallen white – where was the lawn?  Now, after several trips in and out the front door, he has jumped up onto the couch to lay next to me, exhausted from this newest learning experience.  At 6-1/2 months, I’m allowing him to shake off this morning’s discombobulation and settle in to my left hip, a warm, safe and secure place.

Just as fall swept in and changed my view, now winter has arrived: crisp, clean, cold  – and a nuisance for those who are less than enthusiastic about what all those “c’s” will mean.  Seeing God’s Grandeur rather than Nature’s Nuisance is a shift of thinking – it’s being present in the moment – stopping and seeing the beauty of what I’ve been given for right now.  How do I choose to experience the change of scenery with its call to be in the moment?

Open-armed.  Heart bursting at the seams to experience the more of NOW.  Imaging a God that is shaking out the foil, creating more snow, more wind, more reality.  More experience.  New experience.

Praying that I / you / we can have a sense of wonder as we go about our day – at least at the start, experiencing the newly-fallen snow with the excitement of the child within.  Seeing grandeur over nuisance.  Finding the lesson in the experience – or maybe just the fun of the experience versus a lesson; life is meant for fun, too, isn’t it?

Blessings as you navigate your trail through white. I plan to grin all day.

I am love.

This has been a week of loving acts, loving conversations, loving revelations. Rare finds, if you will.

I received a Petoskey stone in the mail from my brother – a mix of rock and fossilized coral – these stones are found along Lake Michigan.  The one he sent is about the size of an egg, and to offer it up to me is a gift of love; it is a rare find.

Class opened with sharing in commemoration of Dia de los Muertos / All Soul’s Day.  Each of us brought a photo or item to share – sort of like show-and-tell; what I found so beautiful was the pure and emanating love as each person spoke of their beloveds, and also the way each person was so carefully touching, holding and passing each item shared.  It was as though each piece was gold or a precious gem; and, to be honest, each are priceless to the owners.  It was beautiful to see the love and care in the sharing and in the listening. A rare find.

This week I also made time to spend an evening with my daughter and her family. Dinner, bath time, post-bath dancing, books-before-bed and then peaceful conversation.  I don’t often get the opportunity for all of that, and it’s great time spent with my granddaughters and always meaty conversation with Maria.  Sometimes we share difficult things; hard things to bring up, discuss and digest.  The good thing is, though, that we tackle the topics regardless, and keep our relationship open and honest.  Another rare find.

It gets down to this: I want to share my love and hold other’s love close, treating it like a rare and valuable find.  I want to be open to the giving and the receiving of love, looking for the opportunities and blessings of relationships with family, friends, and all others whose paths I cross.  I am love. You are love.  We are love.  We have been MADE to love.

Today I pray for safe travel, opportunities to give love, the gift of meaty conversations.  I pray for eyes wide open, washed with grace, finding and filling need.  For you, I pray the same – wherever you go, whomever you are with, that your interactions are beautifully infused with love – giving, receiving, experiencing.

Blessings as you shine . . . and share.

“I am as my Creator made me, and since He is satisfied, so am I.”  Minnie Smith

Last week we had an assignment for school in which we were asked to open our minds up to imaging God, not as we were taught as kids, not necessarily as we see God through our religious denominations, but rather as we might want to imagine God without boundary, without limitation.  This was a really tough exercise for me.

The God image has been more feeling than seeing for me, and to try to image God is squishy; it’s hard for me to put together an image knowing that, whatever I come up with, it is so incredibly inadequate.  All words are inadequate, whether they relate to my image of what God looks like, or my idea of the attributes God has, or my thoughts on how God can make me feel.  I am human and limited, and I feel as though I don’t have a right to even try to image God.

What I do imagine (with my limited brain) is God welcoming me.  Bright light; hundreds of God-images; morphing from a majestic, powerful I’ve-no-words God into Goddess; into the sun, into the moon, into the mountains, into the enormity of a canyon crevice; into the burning bush, the raging river, the loudest, most magnificent thunderstorm!

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”   I find God in my mama’s enchiladas (taste) and in my daughter’s smile (see).  I experience God through the love, intelligence, touch, compassion, guidance and companionship of my partner, my friends and my family.  Through the majesty of nature and of all living things – flora, fauna; even my Dog-God.

Being satisfied with self doesn’t mean I don’t have work to do – it does mean that I am a loved, forgiven and beloved Child of God.  And for today, that is just plain perfect.

Praying for acceptance of self – ALL of self; praying for eyes wide open to seeing the beauty of God’s creation in every person and creation around me – recognizing that I am connected to all. Praying for you / me / us that we can imagine the arms of the Creator around us, letting us know we are worthy.  Worthy of love, of forgiveness, of mercy.  “Since He is satisfied, so am I.”

Blessings on your day . . .

You do not need to know anything about this day beyond this moment.  And this moment is perfect . . . just as it is.  Your higher power gives you all the strength you need today to handle whatever comes.

Well, this is certainly a call to live presently!  What a gift today.

I’ve been ruminating on what the weekend might bring – weather, friends (old and new), what things will look like, the stories, laughter, hugs, etc.  I guess I can just stop all that and be right here, right now.

I was journaling this morning and prayed for the strength to get everything not yet done done, and asked for the wisdom I need today to prioritize correctly all those things left to do.  And then I pulled this affirmation.  Coincidence?

I think not.

This affirmation holds out a promise to me: that I can rely on my Higher Power’s help today.  That I can handle everything – the Divine is with me in all things.  And for this, I offer gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

So today I pray for continued guidance as I move through each moment, each hour. I pray for ease, confidence, and focus.  I pray that today’s affirmation stays with me and that I will BE present. That I will move about my moments remembering that I have all I need – and that I will be grateful for those gifts.

For you, today, I pray for release from stress, for deep and satisfying breath, for acceptance of the gifts each moment brings.

Peace and harmony as YOU live presently today.

Grow.  Make change.  Become more open.  Allow God and love to be in charge of your life.

It’s been quite a week.  I prayed for revelation and I got it. Not just a couple of things, either – a lot of things; things I wasn’t prepared to receive or hear or accept. Revelations that made me angry, shamed, sad.  Revelations that created an opportunity for further conversation, confession and requests for forgiveness.

Cry-yi.

One of my greatest revelations was that I wasn’t being real in my relationship with God in prayer.  OUCH and UGH.

What came to light was that, in my prayer life, I give God the good stuff, and some of the not-so-good stuff, but hold back the really ugly stuff.  As though God doesn’t already know!  I have been fooling no one but myself in offering only the tolerable business of life.  I needed the bulb lit, and now it is.

God / The Divine / my Higher Power yearns for relationship with the REAL me.  Not the one that holds it all together, not the one that presents herself to the public.  The real me.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  Just as I expect my personal relationships to be real – honest and forthright, sharing both the good and the bad – The Divine wants the same of me.  I know when my daughter or partner or friends are holding back, I can feel the tension and discomfort of a wedge between us.  I have been dim in thinking that God could be fooled by my withholding.

I expect transparency in my relationships.  And God expects transparency in my relationship with Him/Her, too.

And so, growth.  Forcing myself to get real.  Allowing anger, fears, resentments, deep and ugly stuff to come out and be brought to the surface.  Allowing tears and forgiveness and coming to a place of acceptance that I am not the person I wish I was.  Accepting all the grief and sorrow and disappointment – as well as all the joy and gratitude and beauty – the whole me, and offering that whole lump of clay up to God.  Allowing LOVE to break through – in spite of all my protesting and heel-digging.  Allowing my self to accept love full-on.

Today I pray for continued daily openness and willingness to bleed the truth – whatever it may be. I pray for continued acceptance of the real me, digging down deeper to get to the bottom – without judgment – and to offer it up. To allow my brokenness to show and to accept the love and healing that an honest relationship with God will bring.  As my Pastor said in her sermon on Sunday, to see with “Eyes washed with Grace.”

For you, I pray for openness, too. For the willingness to consider the concept of a completely real relationship with your God / Divine / Higher Power.  And if you are looking for a place to start, I suggest “God and You – Prayer as a Personal Relationship” by William A. Barry.  It has me thinking – and praying – differently.

Blessings as you move through this blustery, October day.

Be willing to let go of all your fear in order to find out what is real in your life.  Take whatever comes without judgment.  You are ready to release all resistance and struggle to find the good and truth within yourself.

I was at a workshop on Tuesday on our Shadow Selves.  My Shadow is the side of me I don’t like to share – the one that carries fear around, thinks nasty thoughts, is begrudging and crabby.  It’s the one that can be manipulative, is less-than-kind, is toxic.  All the things that I find unappealing and icky, and those things that I fight against accepting about myself.

But – all of those things are a part of who I am, and I NEED to accept them, and to work with them, and not to be afraid; I have the power and the ability to shift them into more positive attributes or attitudes. It just means work.

As a kid, my dad could be very forceful – much different than powerful.  The force he used then has affected who I am now – I am not a boat-rocker, reluctant to get angry (anger = out of control), I don’t like to let my emotions get the better of me.  What that has created, unfortunately, is a person who has stuffed feelings and is submissive, rather than a me that can define what I want when I want it, not selfishly, but honestly and in a good way.  When do I drop the shackles that are emotionally binding me?

Now would be a good time.  Or at least over the next months as I work through my stuff (hmm; denial, putting off, or being kind to myself?).  I’m on the road, and that’s a start (so maybe I’m just being kind today).

Without judgment, I pray for revelation today. I pray that the Spirit shows me those things that need to be set free, worked on, massaged, managed, changed.  And I pray for the courage to do the work, and gentle understanding and acceptance of who I am – both the good and the bad – as I muddle through.  To humbly accept both aspects and to work toward freedom.

For you I pray patience, release, peace.  I know they are out there for both of us.

Blessings on your way.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” Anne Lamott

I have been processing next steps – and there are about five different things, each with its own set of steps.

I have an art show at my house in just under two weeks.  There are several steps with getting ready for that aside from being in-studio and working on pieces.  The steps for this are relatively easy as they are tasks and to-do lists, and it will all come together in time.  But, there are many steps, and I need to be mindful as I move forward, because there are others involved in the day and I stand in hope that it will be successful for all of us.  And for it to BE successful, I have to be diligent and DO, checking tasks off of lists, redoing lists and checking off more tasks.

School has its own set of steps; some days I wish I could just run through them, but I know in my heart that I need to take my time and slowly make my way through each week, each reading assignment, each paper.  School holds much hope for my future life, and I am waiting and watching and working. I am loving the evenings spent with the other seekers, and am enjoying the depth of conversation and open hearts.  I am engaged in the now.

Today’s affirmation resonates most for me in the question of what’s next between now and the end of school (almost three years).  I am in the process of discerning how best to create balance in my life. Does this mean a temp job or a real job? Does this mean for only a few months or for a few years? Where do I find the answers?

My youngest granddaughter’s first birthday party was on Saturday.  I spent my day at an art show.  I haven’t been to any of my two granddaughters’ birthday parties; I will have missed five of them because of the path I’ve chosen and I’m feeling regretful.  So as I made my way back toward Minneapolis on Saturday night, I decided to stop and visit.  I’m so glad I did.  It was just me and my daughter’s family, with my two granddaughters on my lap for an hour as we talked and watched the birthday video.  It was the best part of my day, and helped to reinforce my feelings that I need to move toward more balance.

Being gone every weekend is in opposition to the lives of my family and my friends.  I don’t want to give up shows completely, but I do want to get some sanity and balance back into my life.  As such, I am processing and listening and seeking – and being patient.  I am praying that the right opportunity either has – or will – present itself, and I am allowing life to unfold at the pace at which it’s supposed to unfold.  I am stubbornly hoping while waiting in the dark; hoping that I’ve done some of the right things; hoping that I’ve made some progress toward balance; waiting for the dawn to come and the answers to reveal themselves.

Today I pray for the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. That the dots will begin their connection, that I will continue to be led to doing the right things to create REAL balance – not just change. That there will be a nudge here or there, and that I will be shown the next steps.  For you, I pray for peace amidst struggle; for opening doors and for better balance.  For all of us, I pray for revelation.  A revealing of how we can be better, do better, be more present.

Blessings as we wait, watch and work, always hoping, never giving up, and slowly making our way.

Some days we all just need a little bit of comforting. Look to give it, and welcome the receiving.

We’ve sold one of our vehicles and so are now down to just mine, which broke down yesterday and is now at the shop.  This created the opportunity to use a loaner (for which I am thankful) and to take an early morning drive for a job drop.

This morning I returned home by 6:30AM and let Leonard out of the kennel.  He just can’t get comfortable this morning.  In the living room, then in my study, then deciding the bed to be the best option.  So up he went – and the whining began.

He didn’t want to be ALONE on the bed; he wanted me to come up there, offer a little bit of comforting, make some acknowledgment that he is loved and cared for, which means more than a biscuit and a pet.  So I caved in and laid down on the bed for a few minutes, just enough time to get him snoring again before coming back into study to pray and now write.

As I was laying there with him, I came to the realization that I’m the same way, really.  The last few days I’ve been out of sorts; communication has been strained and semantics – as well as delivery – continue to plague or confuse communication.  Words, words, words.  Sometimes my friend, other times not-so-much.

I was in need of comfort last night. In need of an affirmation of love, even though I know it’s there and it’s real and it’s strong.  And I had to force myself to say I had need (vulnerability issue), listen, hear and process the response (which came with a little bit of reproach), and then accept the love that was generously being given.

And it seems that my dialogue with God is a bit that way.  Some days I feel as though things aren’t tracking the way they should.  Other days I’m so engrossed in my own muck and mire that I’m not even tuned in.  And sometimes I sit and wait, listening for the still, small voice that gives me comfort – that let’s me know I’m loved and beloved.

Today I pray for the openness and vulnerability to express my need for comfort.  I also pray for opportunity to provide comfort to someone in need.  I pray gratitude for love, and gratitude that actions can so often speak louder than words.

For you I pray warmth, a splash of sunshine, a hug or a tissue when you need it (sometimes it’s the little things . . .).

Blessings on this blustery but beautiful, transitional and autumnal day.

Every day is the perfect day to be the best of what I can be.

When I pulled this affirmation today, I took a deep breath – reading it felt as though it was inviting me to breathe and be filled with life!

Finished with the administrative business of yesterday, today I get to go out into the studio and play with clay.  Well not really play, but I do get to create and make and prepare for the upcoming season. Work.  Do my job.

So how do I apply today’s affirmation if I am alone and in silence?

I move forward from home to studio in positive attitude.

I ask for the help of the Divine to create what needs to be created.

I pray for those who I have yet to meet, trusting that our paths will intersect at the right time.

I spend my time in contemplation on the gifts that I’ve received, the family and friends in my life, and the joy of my call.

Even simple days have a lot of meat in them when I break it down to the bits and pieces of doing.  And simple is good, and less pressure, and it is ease in motion.

Breathing deeply, today I pray that I / you / we have a simple day. Few complications, forward-reaching, doing what we do the best way that we can.  Simple yet full – full of life, full of joy, full of grace.  Thankfulness in knowing that, beyond the cloud cover, the sun and the moon are always shining.

Take care today and treat yourself softly.  Blessings as you go . . .

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.  Your spiritual path places you in oneness with your Higher Power.  Trust that vision.

I had a lot of time in the last few days with my brothers to think about my path.  Not just the ones I was literally walking on, but also the ones I’ve chosen to follow over these 50+ years.  Connecting dots is amazing, actually, and finding the wherefores and why-fores in retrospection is good for understanding the bigger picture.

I play the “what-if” game without judgment.  Playing the what-if game is actually more of an affirmation exercise, even though some of the choices I made weren’t “the best” – it helps me to see that if I hadn’t chosen A, I wouldn’t have gotten B, which led me to P. Or Z. And so on.

I also see (again in retrospect) that I often have not had control over where I may have been or what position I was placed in, but that I have had control over how I reacted to it or my attitude in the midst of things.  This applies to my people relationships, too.  For instance, if I hadn’t moved in high school, I wouldn’t have my best friend of almost 40 years.  And if I had stayed in nursing school, it’s doubtful I would be doing what I’m doing.  My path also includes things I didn’t choose – such as the loss of children or the loss of a job.  But I see in each of those instances that I was most certainly on a path, and that path led me to the next plateau or that 75-mile rest area or into something better or deeper.

So maybe I do judge, but resist the guilt?  For example, I am judging that my experiences have led to good, whether bad or good at the time, and in making some choices and doing some things along the way that were not in-line with my spiritual path, I still made it through the detour and back onto my spiritual path, and I don’t feel guilty for things I chose along the way.  And I’m back in line, facing the right direction, moving forward in oneness with the Divine, over and over and over again.  On one day, off the next.  Sometimes I’m doing well, other times not so much.  But all of that is all right, because my spiritual path is a learning curve.  Even – and especially – these days.

So today I pray for a steady and accurate compass.  I pray for attention to detail; for recognizing detours; for being gentle with self as I am called to learn from my experiences.  For insight, for hindsight, for joy in the mistakes and in the successes.  And I pray the same for you – eyes wide open, assessing the bumps in the road, and being willing to accept them as gentle reminders that it’s all a part of learning.  Blessings on your walk.

As we learn to give thanks for all of life and death, for all of this given world of ours, we find a deep joy. It is the joy of trust, the joy of faith in the faithfulness at the heart of all things. It is the joy of gratefulness in touch with the fullness of life.

It’s Sunday morning and my mind is wanting to move toward our trip home later today and, with that, all the things that need tending and care upon arriving there.  It’s a fight sometimes to force thought to a different place; to be contemplative rather than forward-thinking, making a mental list of tasks that will be checked off one-by-one.

Yesterday was our last full day here and by noon or so my brother and I will hit the road heading home.  We spent a few hours yesterday taking advantage of sunshine and light breeze, walking the shoreline of Lake Michigan at Sturgeon Bay.  There were several families of geese resting on the water, as well as common merganser, and our dog companion enjoyed running into the water to move the fowl who obliged, but not by much.  They knew better.

As we walked along, separately but together, I was taking note of the grasses and sand that had been hit hard from high waves.  There were cuts into the sand as though a large bulldozer had cut down and scooped out enormous chunks – roots and grass popped out from the sand wall, soon enough to be dried and lost to nature’s way of giving and taking life.  And as I walked and looked, I began to see a pattern of monarch butterflies – one, then two, then three, fifteen, thirty, more.  Each butterfly I looked at had battered wings and was slowly dying, unable to make the flight any further toward Mexico.  As I would come upon them, I moved them from sand or stream onto grass, hoping that they might be a bit more comfortable there than washed out into the lake. The shoreline of the lake would be their final resting place.

And I knelt down and I wept. All these beautiful butterflies, knocked by the ravages of wind and rain. Energy spent; done with flight forever. I knew my efforts were futile; it wasn’t as though I could save one of them.

Moving each to a grassy area may have been a silly thing to do, and at one point one of my brothers said, “Just leave them, Nina; there’s nothing you can do . . . ”  And he was right, and I know it’s the circle of life and death, but to see so many brought me such immense grief.

Physicist Paul Dirac once said, “Pick a flower on earth and you move a star.” Quantum physics shows us that a movement as slight as the ruffle of a butterfly’s wing changes energy patterns – alters the dance.  All I can think of is those sweet monarchs, and how their death changes life as we know it – even if we don’t observe the “how”.

Life. Death. Change. Giving thanks in and through all of it.  It is the joy of trust, the joy of faith in the faithfulness at the heart of all things. It is the joy of gratefulness in touch with the fullness of life.  Deeply searching, deeply finding joy, even when it seems impossible.

With gratitude for yesterday’s experience, still seeking the lesson in it, I pray for understanding. I pray for open eyes to see where I can help, be compassionate, make a difference, if only with the flutter of my tiny wings.  For you, today, I pray grace and peace as we march through the changing season, and that you have time to take in all the beauty that the transition brings – appreciating the rain as well as the sunshine as it gently filters through the trees.  Life as well as death, thanksgiving in all.

Blessings on your movements.

Give God the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

I’m remembering as I’m spending time with my brothers these few days that, when I’m with them, I am more of a follower than a leader. The boys determined that hiking was in order for the day yesterday and chose the Jordan River Valley – full of stunning maples, oak, birch, poplar, ferns. A view from Dead Man’s Hill gives you a view of the valley into which you descend on either of two trails. The longer is 18 miles and takes hikers deep into the valley, where they can camp, hike, camp, hike, camp and then hike out. The shorter is just over 3 miles and takes you down into the depths of the valley, across small streams, tons of tree roots, and beautiful leaf-strewn paths, then up again to the top of the mountain.

Three miles in a pattern of down and up and down, then across, and finally back up. What I realized along the way were a few things – first, between the three of us, our roles played out. Two of us took turns leading and following, while the third stayed steady in the rear, making sure we two younger were safe as we traded turns leading the way.

One of us, although it was our first time on the trail, had an innate sense of how far we were and how much time we had left. I, on the other hand, kept thinking, “How much further can this go???” but kept moving along. I did hold back judgment of good hike / bad hike (in terms of the length of the hike) and pushed the pace to remain steady. I also kept thinking about how I lead, I follow, I often don’t know the way. But I do trust in the process, or I trust in my own ability to get myself safely to the destination; trusting that THROUGH the anxiety, suspension and incompleteness I am cared for, lead and held safe by something much, much bigger than me.

What grace.

Today I pray for a deeper faith, deep like the heart of the valley. I pray for calm and peace in times of suspension. For you, I pray the same – belief that all of us are being led through good times and rough, that even when anxious we can feel secure in the knowing that we are held, loved and cared for. Blessings on your hike, in whatever form it may be, and wherever it takes you.

10:

Play nice.  Love in all things.

Last night my brothers and I passed a few hours together after dinner playing dominoes.  I smoked ’em.

I did not gloat, by the way; I just happened to have pulled some pretty sweet tiles and made some pretty clever maneuvers.

Being the youngest – and the only girl – there weren’t a lot of times when I “won” a game when playing with them.  I don’t actually remember winning even once.  Risk, Monopoly, checkers, marbles, slap fights (technically, although a slap fight is not really a game, I can – without reservation – say that I definitely never won a slap fight) – with six  and nine years between us, the boys were being kind in even allowing me IN a game.  Regardless age differences and ability, they always played nice with me, and their willingness to be inclusive was a wonderful example to follow.

Play nice. Love in all things.

There are times now when I don’t want to take the time to play nice. I just want to move through or get around or drive from point a to point b  – plowing ahead, getting to the destination, doing so without fully experiencing or being present in the moment.  Thinking ahead. The thing is that playing nice / taking time / being present only adds another minute or two to my experience, and I’m always richer for it.  Every. Single. Time.

Good reminder now that I’m taking the time to think about it.

Today I pray for presence.  I pray that kindness will be the rule, and for full, rich experiences as the day unfolds. I pray for breath; expansive, life-giving breath; release from concerns, blessings on my friends – known and unknown.  Travel safely – and take time to enjoy the scenery.  Blessings on your day.

9:

Love. Fall in love over and over again every day. Love your family, your neighbors, your enemies, yourself. And don’t stop with humans. Love animals, plants, stones – even the galaxies.

It’s been a busy week; it’s BEEN a week since I’ve written – here anyway – and now I am sitting in Michigan with my two brothers, with the warmth of our memories (mostly warm), love for each other, and plans to hike, walk along Lake Michigan, and “just be”.

As the date to depart loomed near, I was feeling a bit stingy about my time.  I am hitting the mat hard in the next two months, and to be gone from the studio for 5 days was feeling not-so-smart.  This balancing act of running my own business is awfully difficult – a lot of the time.

And so, as my brother and I headed off in the early morning hours yesterday, I was feeling anxious (just a bit) yet resigned (quite a bit) to surrendering myself to the days, nights and time that we and our brother would spend together.

What I find so often about myself is how I focus solely on ME.  Obviously in this case, I was not thinking about the sacrifices each of my brothers made to make our time together happen; one away from the hospital, the other away from his work with  the recovery community.

How selfish am I?  Apparently, pretty selfish, but I’m seeing it and changing my attitude and my thinking.

This morning we have spent almost three hours in conversation – pretty meaty stuff, too.  I would have missed that if my selfishness had kept me in-studio and at home.  And three hours of conversation is just the beginning.  Laughter, sharing memories, going deeper into relationship – I would have missed all and what’s yet to come had I stayed in my cocoon.

And so I embrace and love the now.  I am falling in love again with my brothers. I am falling in love again with nature and Lake Michigan.  I am falling in love again with fall colors, chilly breezes, warm fires.  With the sand dunes and the changing sky. With the stars and the moon and the rising sun.

Mmmmm.  God is so good.

Today I pray in gratitude for surrender.  In gratitude for presence.  In gratitude for nature.  And for you, I pray for a sunny day, fall color that takes your breath away, warmth in the briskness of the season.  Blessings as you surrender to the joy of the moment – too.

2:

May I have the courage today to live the life that I would love, to postpone my dream no longer, but do at last what I came here for and waste my heart on fear no more. John O’Donohue

I’m getting into the groove of feeling my new skin; my new schedule.  No longer able to sleep a bit into the morning, I find myself early-up, greeting the day in centering prayer, moving into reading and homework, and THEN moving into the world.  Moving into the world for me is a matter of getting dressed and walking to my studio, but it is still movement and some days it would be much nicer to stay cocooned in the comfort of my study.

Today’s affirmation is a call for movement from stillness and comfort into a place that I’ve imagined, but not yet experienced.  It gives me room to acknowledge that I’ve put off forward movement and been fearful, however there is no judgment rendered.  It has been what it’s been, and now it’s time to set feet on path and forge ahead, grasping what’s out there for me and making it my own.

Sometimes, however, it seems there needs to be some reflection on the past before there is movement forward.

I’ve been working on the assignment of telling my spiritual story (on paper).  The idea is to choose three significant turning points in my life and to expound on the choices I made at those “bends in the road”.  What I found in the initial reflection was that I’ve had some significant events, and I’ve made some lousy choices based on selfishness and hurt rather than centered in compassion, love and understanding.  As a matter of fact, it looks (in retrospect) as though I’ve been very bullheaded and pushed my way through lots of situations in order NOT to feel emotion.  I do not like that “me” at ALL.

I’ve returned to 1987 – to a place and time where manipulation, selfishness and need were my only concerns.  A specific time and place where I used a friend with no regard to how my actions might affect him, and with no respect for him personally, emotionally, or spiritually. I am so regretful for being so disregarding. It was a time and place where I CHOSE to sin – I can make no mistake about that – it wasn’t a place where I accidentally ended in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And so what do I do with that?

I need to spend some time with it, look at each side of the Rubik’s cube. Acknowledge ALL of me – the good and the bad – without judgment.  I asked for forgiveness a long, long time ago, and I guess I need to do it again.  I will learn from it, gloss over it no more, accept the experience as a part of me and then move forward.  Tall order. Thank God I don’t have to do it all in one fell swoop.

So today, my focus for prayer is gratitude for forgiveness and for grace.  I am grateful to have time for self-reflection, dissection, acceptance and courage to move.  I am grateful that I can ask for help. I am grateful that God still offers open arms, and I am grateful that I can humble myself, accept my need, and rest in that love, grace and forgiveness.

I pray grace and peace, healing and harmony for you today.  And, as always, blessings on your way.

September:

27:

Even when you have doubt, there is a power greater than yourself that is guiding you on your path.

Last night I began a new journey – school.  Committing to one year at a time, my hope is that I will be called to stay for the full three years and finish with a certification in Spiritual Direction.

We each introduced ourselves, talked about home and religious affiliation, and then shared the ‘why’ of our being a part of this class.  Each person had a somewhat different why – as it should be – and others weren’t even sure why they were there, they only knew that “there” was where they were supposed to be.  We all take different paths that guide us to the same place.

At the end of the night we were asked to reflect on the part of our day that made each of us feel most loved, and least loved.  The exercise is to help us see what we do or what we choose and how it makes us feel.  And so, I share.

I felt most loved yesterday when I knew that I had arrived at the starting line and my new journey was beginning.  Fresh perspectives. Commonality with other seekers.  It felt good to be BEGINNING.

I felt least loved yesterday just before I left the house for the retreat center.  It was at that point that self-doubt and a twinge of fear, along with a good dose of “what in the world am I thinking???” all hit at the same time.  My armor took a few knocks along with my self-confidence.  It felt scary to be BEGINNING.

But so.

This morning, I head back for the second day of retreat, and I am excited. The initial barrier of knowing no one has been broken through, and we – together – take our next steps as a class.  Anxiety for the unknown is there, but that’s okay.  It will keep me in-check, and it helps to think that everyone else is probably thinking the same.

Praying for a fun day; one of self-reflection, one of listening, one of sharing, one of being present – heart open, feet planted, ready to move through the next steps.  I pray your day is full of freshness – full of goodness – full of love.

Blessings on it and on yours and on all you do.

25:

One step at a time today, you are making progress. Live in gratitude for all of your growth, even if it is not always very obvious.

Drudge, drudge, drudge, drudge, drudge. That’s how it feels some days. Working hard is hard work. I’m not complaining – I’m extremely grateful to be able to be my own boss, do my own thing, make my own schedule, see progress.

On Wednesday I hit a milestone. 2600.

Last year I set a goal to make 2600 pieces of art – all angels and crosses of different sizes. As I reached the end of the year, it was apparent that I’d missed the mark by a few hundred. Determined to try again, I set 2600 as my goal for 2014. In July, I was so far behind schedule it seemed like another impossible dream.

What does 2600 mean, really? It’s a random number and, as a friend of mine pointed out, it’s not that many pieces per day. But 2600 means more to me than production. It means intention. It means prayer. It means hope. It means 2600 people that I’ve specifically been praying for. It means 2600 names on my walls, head to toe on my name angel, top to bottom on the garage door, starting on the third wall. It means 2600 meetings, greetings, getting to knows. 2600 stories. 2600 people who’ve been reminded that GOD IS LOVE.

By the time I get to December, I’m hoping that the number is 3000. God loves every one of them, and I will continue to pray for them; healing, harmony and peace.

Tonight I pray a prayer of thanksgiving – for meeting and exceeding a goal; for those who helped me along the way; for my customers and for the people that THEY love. For continued purpose.

Please – if you have a moment and a think on it, say a prayer for me. I still have a lot of work to do.

Blessings on your rest.

20:

Seek life.

I’m sitting in Bunker Hill Park, doing a show for the Missing Grace Foundation representing The Garden of the Sleeping Angels.

Families who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, early infant death wear like-colored t-shirts in honor of their babies. They asked for names of children who have died in order to honor them; I added the names of my three stillborn daughters.

I’m sitting and looking at all these people, thinking on how they have all grieved loss and overcome it. Doesn’t mean waves don’t cross the shore once in a while, just means that there is hope.

Praying hope for you; for me; for all. Blessings on your day.

18:

While we have the ability and the chance, we must live what God wills in our lifetime.

It seems obvious by the lapse in times between my writing that I’m struggling.  I’ve sat down to write several different days, but have simply been blocked.  No thoughts; no musings; not much to share.

I’ve pulled at least ten different affirmations to write on, begin, and then there’s nothing to say; it’s almost as though my emotions are being checked and I’m holding myself back.  I don’t understand it, and I don’t know why.  And then I read the above yesterday and promptly sent it to myself in order to have a think on it.

Living what God wills for me.  What I find interesting are the caveats of 1) ability, and 2) chance.  I have to be ABLE to live God’s will for me, and I have to have the opportunities placed before me in order to PRACTICE.  And maybe – just maybe – that’s why this little gem of an affirmation made its way into my sight yesterday.

I don’t generally think about obstacles, yet the last week has been nothing but obstacles.  Time, energy, stress, events outside my control.  In thinking about how I have approached them, and in considering time spent writing (or not, as this week has had it), I believe I’ve been ACTING out God’s will for me rather than expounding on affirmations.  I’ve been practicing what I’ve already written about, and been following the path.  I’m not patting myself on the back for doing so, I’m just making the realization.

I write a lot about having eyes wide open to see opportunities.  I write a lot about having open arms and open hands, being God’s hands and feet in my community and with those I meet.  I hope that I’m fulfilling my purpose each day; I think I’ve figured out that, yes, I am to write, but more importantly, I am to act.

This has been a good lesson for me. Yes, Lord, I think I’ve got it.

So today, as I move through the motions and the hours, I will pray for the people I’ve met and have yet to meet. I continue to pray for opportunities to practice what I know, use the gifts I’ve been graced with, and spread the love.  Each act – whether loving or not – casts a ripple onto the pond.  What I give – whether loving or not – comes back to me.  As such, I will focus on loving acts, within my ability.  I will focus my eyes forward to find opportunity.  I pray for consideration, compassion, kindness and for eyes wide open.

And I pray the same for you.  Blessings on your beautiful, amazing, opportunity-filled day.

9:

I am not a mind-reader.  I will ask.  I will not make assumptions.  And I will be open to telling others who I am, what I need, and that I love them.

Sometimes asserting myself, or giving myself permission to inquire, is difficult for me.  I feel like I am being a bulldozer of sorts, or pushing when that’s not my intention.  I don’t want to be perceived as nosy,or as a “getting-myself-in-others-business” kind of person.

Conversely, I appreciate it when people tell me what they need and what they want and how I can help them.

So why is it so hard for me?

I guess I tell myself that it seems selfish and prideful. But that’s not really right; what can happen is that I make an assumption, and then when I hear the truth, I realize I’m way off the mark on assumption versus reality.  Argh.

Today’s affirmation nudges me to be all right with asking other what’s going on. It urges me to get the story rather than making the assumption.  And in taking the right steps, I will get the right answers.  Today’s affirmation also nudges me to open myself up – heart and soul – and let others see the real me – full of spots and brokenness – no pretense.  It nudges me to ask when I’m in need and to be grateful – whether needs are met or not. Grateful that I have people in my life that I CAN ask, and to love all.

I need to practice this one and I will. No assumptions. Being open. No pretense.  Allowing myself to be vulnerable and to fully love. In thinking on all of this, it seems simple and within my abilities.  Like the little engine that could, I think I can!

As such –

Today I pray for strength to ask; for willingness to clarify through questions. I pray that, before making an assumption based on what I / you / we DON’T know, we ask what’s going on so that we can hear the real story.

I pray that we will have the courage to ask for what’s needed and for the openness to love fully and freely.  Everywhere we turn, as opportunities arise, and with everyone we love.  Ask, be open, tell it like it is, ask for what we need, and then love, love, love.

Blessings, all!

7:

I am full of goodness and love and compassion and kindness and mercy.  I am full of JOY!  I am full of GOODNESS, GOODNESS, GOODNESS!

I was making a self-assessment this morning in church; first time I’d been in quite a while.  Sometimes I miss because I’m out of town doing a show, sometimes I miss because I was out of town on Saturday and, after a long drive home, I am simply whooped and need my rest.  Sometimes I miss because I’m just plain lazy and don’t force myself to get up, get moving, and get out.  Sometimes I just miss.

It was Rally Sunday today – the first day of the new Sunday School year.  We blessed the new teachers who are gracious enough to give their time to our beautiful children, and we blessed our beautiful children who are ready to share their energy and curiosity and excitement with our new teachers.

It was “God’s work – our hands” Sunday, too.  At communion, those who wanted to have their hands blessed and anointed with oil could do so and I did. How wonderful!  I thought, “I work with my hands. I create with my hands.  I do God’s work with my hands.”  And immediately after THAT thought, another entered: “Who do I think I am? I am SO full of pride! I am not a good enough person to do God’s work.”

And that’s all true.

But here is what is also true: Forgiveness and Grace.  And I needed to think about that truth.  Yes, I am proud – I’m working on that. Yes, I can use a good dose of humility – God’s working on that.  Better yet, though, God deemed me worthy of forgiveness and grace, and because of that I AM good enough to do God’s work.  God lives within me and uses my brokenness to do His work.

And so with the gratitude that comes from realizing that forgiveness and grace are mine and I am whole through His love and mercy, out of me come joy and goodness – and love and compassion – and  kindness and mercy.  And the Spirit fills me with all good things – which is part of this evening’s assessment.

We are worthy.  Tonight I pray that we remember our worthiness or, if you weren’t aware, that you realize it now for the first time.  I / you / we are beloved children of God.  Be grateful, accept that love, and then be filled with gratitude.  And I pray further that we will seek out the ways that God has in store for us to use our hands for His work.

Blessings as you rest tonight and move into your tomorrows – hands out, hands ready, hands open.

5:

As you walk this life, you cut open and create that riverbed into which the stream of your descendants shall enter and flow.  You are making a difference in your life, and in the lives of those that will follow.

On Monday I received a call from a customer whose mother is in the process of dying.  Her instructions to her daughter were for her to seek me out and select angels for the care team at the hospital. The daughter arrived at the studio on Tuesday and I guess I expected her to be in more grieving, but she was joyful.  She was doing something for her mom and she was excited about seeing the request through.  She looked at every one – there were dozens – and she chose 21 beautiful, flowing angels.  We decided to wrap them all alike, tying them with green ribbon, which is her mom’s favorite color.  As we talked, she shared that she was so excited because her mom’s life has been all about prayer and, with my focus on unconditional prayer, the angels are such a great fit.  As she left, she told me that each would be handed out after her mom died, not before, with a note on each one from her mom thanking each nurse for being an angel during her illness.  It’s still resonating with me that the effect of this giving will flow forward – this dying woman has cut and created her riverbed; she is making a difference in her two children’s lives as well as the lives of her care team.

My granddaughter starts preschool this week.  A very tiny blonde with ice-blue eyes, her wisdom is hidden behind developmental delays. I have been anxious about her going to school and the possibility of bullying.  She is such a sweet child; innocent in so many ways and, although I know that this will be good for her, I am still anxious about the start.  She went to her school last night and met her teachers, found her locker, rode the bus with her family so she could see what it will be like.  My daughter took a picture of her standing inside her locker with the biggest smile on her face – joy, expectancy – the thrill of being a big girl.  I have been praying for her.  Praying that this experience will not be scary, and that it will be exciting in a good way. She entered my riverbed almost four years ago – I am prayerful that her travel will be an easy, meandering float.

Today’s affirmation brings my parents to mind.  Their stream, my own, now my daughter’s.  I want to make a difference.  I want to lead by good example.  I guess that’s what I pray for today – that I / you / we think about the things that we do that bring consequence, and that we always – putting one foot in front of the other – aspire to doing the right things. The ones that will make a positive difference for those that follow behind us.

Blessings on cutting and creating your riverbed.  Blessings, all.

1:

You are being led along a path of healing.  As you become more open to spirituality and recovery, your path becomes brighter and clearer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my path lately; thinking a lot about what I do, where I’m headed, who I am.  What I like about the idea of “path” is the excitement of the unknown – praying that the surprises are good, the rough spots are simply learning curves, that the hills are hard enough, but not insurmountable, and that I learn everything I need to learn.

Today I stand at the square that shows me it’s September 1st.  It’s kind of hard to believe that the summer months are already behind me, and that the fall season begins – taking me into the soon-to-come winter; cooler weather, shagging of the leaves, short days.

Spirituality and recovery; what do those look like for me?

I start school at the end of the month and the first assignment has already been given – I have to write about choice and transformation.  When I review my life (which often seems like – as a Leo – I’ve lived seven or eight of my nine), I’ve made a lot of choices and lived a lot of transformation.  Always stepping forward; sometimes even moving up the ladder.  I think the ladder days are over, but I guess I’ll see.  For certain, though, I am moving forward – at the least through time, and at the most in steps toward transformation of body, mind and spirit.

Thinking on recovery, it looks like I need to place ‘commitment to exercise with follow-through’ on my list.  I’ve fallen off that bandwagon, and lifting clay, setting up tents and moving boxes filled with ceramics isn’t really sustained exercise no matter how much I try to pretend it is, nor is it doing anything that is getting me actually fit.  I need to get on that. A kick-in-the-pants would be a good thing.  I guess my first lesson on my path to clarity has shown itself.

School is an open book for now. I don’t have a clue what that will be like, but I’m excited to find out.  As I move down through the months of classes, I will work hard to find clarity and purpose.  I fully expect that things will become brighter and a bit more clear.

Fall, with its crisp air and change of season, brings a fresh start. I’m excited to take part in guided introspection, face my demons, work through them and become that person God is waiting for.  I embrace the change, embrace the movement, embrace the journey into the unknown.

Today I pray for me / you / us that we see the markers along our way, feel the excitement of stepping into something new and exciting, and embrace the change that is GOOD for us.  Whatever it looks like, whatever we become, I pray that we will be better for it, that we will make positive changes, and that we will actively be sending out ripples of health, love, hope and healing to all those that surround us.

Amen – may it be so.

August:

26:

It doesn’t matter how you pray–with your head bowed in silence, or crying out in grief, or dancing. Pray where you are; at church, in the garage or your car, in the mountains, even the bathroom. Just pray.

I want to write about grief tonight; not because I’m grieving, but because someone out there is, and I don’t know who you are, but I want you to know that I am with you in prayer.

Today I have been glazing; a friend came and helped. It was a good day; we had a few visitors and still got a lot done.  (When I have deadlines and short timelines, I am grateful that friends come and help me.)  Several hours after she left, I came to a box of special order pieces – a very full box this go-round.  Some kiln loads only have two or three pieces that are special-ordered, but in this box there were about thirty pieces; many of these represent grief.  As I got started, my mood changed from easy and peaceful to somber and, now, after a shower and almost time to rest, I am quite sad.  And so I write.

There were memorials for two babies who were stillborn – one on July 3rd and one on July 4th this year; one for a little girl who died at six months old; memorials for a father, a mother, a brother; another for a son.  A memorial for a grandmother. Another for a husband and sister.  One for a much-loved dog.

Also in the box were several pieces in honor of a grandmother’s handiwork – her doily, made eight or nine decades ago, was used to impress two crosses and two angels. The family that requested the pieces are planning to share them with other members of the grandmother’s family.

With everything I make, I am in prayer.  What’s different about special-order pieces are the stories I hear – what the piece is for or who is being remembered.  Sometimes I hear about how their loved one died, but more often I hear how special they were and how they lived.  This brings me closer to these families. When I’m working on their pieces, I think on them, I think on their grief.  And tonight, I’m with them in their sadness because I’ve begun the glazing of these pieces, and the angels, crosses and stakes hold a lot of emotion and they move me. They have been made with compassion and hold prayers of healing, harmony, peace, hope, love.  The families and I, whether they know it or believe it, are spiritual companions through prayer.

And so I pray – I pray tonight for all who grieve. I am sorry for your loss, for your sadness, for your pain.  I pray for release and relief.  I pray for guidance through decisions, for clarity and discernment.  For a shift from sadness to joy. I just pray.  And I wish you peace, rest and a brighter tomorrow.  Blessings, all.

21:

Strive for balance.

Run, run, run, run, RUN!  Time to slow down; time to stop – for just a bit. My Thursday in Rochester was canceled due to weather, which means that I have some unstructured time on my hands and have to stop and think about what to do with it.  15 hours – a gift!  Where do I even start?  I guess I start by taking some time to write this reflection.

Today’s affirmation calls me to pay attention to the details – big and small.  It’s not just a matter of looking at my calendar and seeing that it’s too full or I’m gone too much, it’s also listening to my body, paying attention to how I feel, making a concerted effort to slow down my thinking.  Setting priorities.  Saying no to some things that I really want to do and experience, saying yes to taking care instead.

I finally had my first physical last week after several years without insurance.  I had made a list of things that I wanted checked – admittedly, some of them were things I was a bit freaked out about.  As I sat there, I began to realize that I was freaked out because I am way out of balance. Weary to the bone, I’ve been traveling too much, stuffing my concerns and creating a vicious circle of mental anxiety and physical symptoms as a result.

Striving for balance is a challenge.  Just like so many other things, though, it’s striving for presence – opening my eyes and admitting that I see the red flags – and then doing something about them.  Taking care rather than pushing the envelope. Saying yes to slowing down, saying no to the things that cause frenetic energy.  And so . . .

Today I pray for guidance. Guidance in seeking out what’s truly good for the mental, physical and spiritual me; guidance in finding ways to rest, even in my productivity; guidance in knowing when to stop and reset my balance button.  I will pray the same for you – that you slow down, breathe, allow your shoulders to relax.  That I / you / we take time with our families. Our friends. That we stop and smell the roses. That we become blissfully present to the now.

Blessings on your balancing act.

17:

Today I can look back with love in my heart, knowing that every moment, every experience of my life has been necessary, valuable and significant, and has brought me to this place of GRATITUDE.

As it often happens, I begin with one affirmation and then change my mind and start over.  Today is one of those days.

I decided to think a little about my past and look at where or how God has worked in my life and to take the experiences, reflect on them, and be grateful for the players and the progress.

Learning curves.  They are sometimes difficult to traverse, but I’ve found that if I am at least open TO the learning, I end up in a better spot.  This summer has been a huge learning curve and I’m still in it.  I’m way behind in making product and I’ve decided not to stress out about it.  Believe it or not, this is progress, even though I’m struggling.  I’ve been making notes on how I can change things and do better, and am making better use of my time – or at least I’m trying to do so.  I’m grateful to learn that schedules are important and to have a partner that supports me and encourages me, who is honest about what she sees and about where I can improve. It helps to have an efficiency expert in the house, and I’m grateful for the input on how I can make things easier, better, and be more productive.

People.  I am so blessed with friends and family who care about me, They check in, ask if I need help, and even jump in and help without the ask.  How God brought me into this family is a mystery and a blessing, and how God moved me about and into friends’ lives is amazing orchestration.  When I think about this, I know it’s no coincidence – nor is it blind luck.  I am grateful for the hardship of moving as many times as I’ve had to do, and grateful for being in relationship with so many wonderful people – friends old and new, family young and old.  They are blessings – all.

Parents.  My mom would have been 100 years old this week so she’s been on my mind. In her quiet way, she was an amazingly strong person and I’m still learning from her and from our relationship.  I’m so grateful she was my mother, and sometimes I feel sad about how I interacted with her; I’m not beating myself up, just continuing to learn that I want my relationship with my family members to be a good one, and that showing love is good.  People can’t get enough love and hugs are free.  I want to pass them out as well as accept them as often as I can.

My dad was a tough guy and raised me with tough love.  He taught me about towing the line, integrity, work ethic, loyalty and action. I’m sad that I misjudged him at times, but realize, too, that that’s part of the give and take of the parent-child relationship.  I am who I am because of who he was, and I miss him.

Children.  My daughter turns 30 this week.  Having had two stillborn daughters before her and one after, I try not to take her and our relationship for granted. I am grateful that going through the hardship of loss taught me the value of life. I am grateful that I have a daughter who is delightful and who fills me with joy and who makes me laugh.  Grateful she gives me space and a lot of room to make mistakes, but also calls on me when she needs to talk or cry or get my opinion.  That all means a lot, and she means the world to me.

And that’s it for reflecting today. Appreciating the movements that have occurred, the mystery of living, interaction with others, the gift of time, the peace that comes with acceptance and understanding.  Praying that you get a moment to think about things and see all the blessings that are yours through both hardship and joy.  Peace to you and yours.

“The purpose of the life of the butterfly is to set everything that was once known aside, and to embrace an entire new way of being.”

14:

Each of us, from the beginning, is one of God’s works in progress. We are entrusted with the skills and abilities we will need way ahead of schedule.

Always changing, always growing, always learning.  Doesn’t mean I was born with ALL the skills and abilities; doesn’t mean that I’m not on a learning curve. Just means that I’ll be prepared when it’s time.

Reading and taking in today’s affirmation is a comfort; it also gives me confidence. Confidence that I’m trustworthy, that I have a purpose, and that at some point when all the fog clears and I’m standing at the precipice, I’ll know what to do.

I’m way okay with being a work in progress.  That’s part of the fun of maturing. Becoming an adult. Becoming me – fully.  And age doesn’t make me a grown up, it’s the experiences I go through and the way I handle the problems I encounter.  I guess that’s where the trust comes in – the trust that I’ve got everything I need to handle everything that comes my way.

Included in the skills and abilities is the “ask”.  I need to remember that sometimes it’s easier to do something with another at your side, helping and encouraging. Sometimes they’ve got skills and abilities that are slightly more honed than my own; this simply means it’s time to jump back onto the learning curve, pay attention, and learn.

Today I will pray for patience and eyes wide open to see opportunities for learning.  And I’ll pray the same for you.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the day unfolds, and who my teachers will be.  Blessings on your day, too.

13:

Forgiveness is part of spiritual growth.

I met up with a friend last night; we see each other twice a year (or try to . . . ).  We were talking about our lives and our latest challenges and triumphs, and the topic of forgiveness came up.  What I dearly love about her is that she is brutally honest (well, not in a brutal way, but she does point out the “facts, Jack” and she doesn’t beat around the bush).  She tells it the way she sees it, and she’s very bright, intense and focused.

I came away (after lengthy discussion) realizing that it is easier – much easier, actually – for me to forgive others rather than myself. I also realized that I tend to shove those things for which I need forgiveness far into the recesses of my memory and my mind.  I guess it’s time for me to clean up my slate.

I won’t offer a litany of my transgressions here, but suffice it to say there are plenty. These aren’t my offenses against other people (a topic for another day), but rather times when I’ve fallen short, not been true to my purpose, left things undone. Transgressions against my relationship with The Divine. Assuaging guilt by thinking that everybody does it doesn’t work; it’s MY relationship and I’m held accountable. Time to open up the tightly closed cubbies of my head and heart and lay things out, ask for forgiveness, grow.

Today I am grateful for friends who help me to be a better person. I am grateful to have the time I need to consider my past and what I’ve done or left undone, and to let those things out that have been mucking up my ability to grow.  I will ask for forgiveness from both The Divine and myself, and I will accept it.  Grace is freely given; every time I ask for it – I just need to ask.

Blessings as I / you / we search our hearts, confront the ugliness, and then accept it as a part of who we are. And continued blessings as we forgive ourselves and do what we can to be better in spite of our weaknesses.  Sending out ripples of love and forgiveness – MERCY and GRACE – as I / you / we do our soul searching.  And as we grow, grow, grow – in grace, grace, grace.

12:

It is of utmost importance to feed both the head and the heart with nourishing food.

Feeding head and heart take time – precious time.  It takes a commitment to being with those I love and who give me positive energy and a listening ear, and it also takes focused time with myself either reading, resting or relaxing – recharging.

I spent an hour with a friend last night with whom I hadn’t had 1-1 time for too long.  We caught up on all the family details, and it became clear to me that I have been remiss in not checking in more often.  Not just with her, but with other friends, too.

When I was in the corporate world, I saw my friends five days a week. There were plenty of opportunities for quick check-ins, status updates, Q&A’s over a cup of coffee, lunch.  Now, it seems, we’ve all spread out and moved on to either different companies, retirement, or, for me, self-employment.  This makes for less face time and calls for a more concerted effort on keeping in touch.

My friends nourish me. They keep me balanced and call me on my “stuff” – the kind where I’m self-delusional about something, or the kind where I’m not pulling my weight, or the kind where I’m being too hard on myself.  They are good to me and they watch out for me and they NOURISH me – body, mind, spirit.  We are in relationship, we need each other, and I clearly need to make more time for them and for their influence in my life.  Last night was a good reminder, and today’s affirmation is a good kick-in-the-pants.

Today I will pray for focus; focus on the people who feed me and whom I feed. Those who love me as I am (and vice versa).  Those who see through my layers of protection to the heart of matters and stand with me, thick or thin.  I pray to find opportunity to make time, to share and to be with them. To be helpful, wholly present, kind and loving.  Tall order? Yes. But so totally worth it.

Praying you will find time for those in your life you need for nourishment – and who need YOU.  Blessings as you seek – and find. And flourish.

11:

Kindness changes lives.  Yours and the others you touch.

Since last Wednesday morning, I’ve been blessed with a lot of kindnesses. None of them had anything to do with my birthday – they were just blessings given because the givers are generous people and they saw my need, my worry, my angst.

My lesson has been to accept these blessings – humbly and graciously – and to pay it forward.

Paying it forward means that I will be as generous and as kind to someone else, rather than paying back the generosity and kindness to the original benefactor.  It is a gift not lost on me; it’s clear that I still – after several days – am having a hard time knowing what to do with my emotions and my gratitude.

My encounters with customers were different on Thursday and on Saturday.  My gratitude – and my generosities – were heightened. I listened more attentively; I prayed more fervently; I shared more openly.  It’s what I can do for now – and I wait expectantly for my next opportunity to serve and to give.

I have been blessed with friends and acquaintances who love and care about me, and who make my life better in the knowing. It’s not luck; it’s not coincidence. It’s a God-thing in my book, and I am so grateful.

And so today, with immense gratitude in my heart, I pray that I will see need and answer the call with the graciousness and generosity of those that did so for me. I won’t forget the gift, and my only hope is that I will be able to pay it forward with as much humility and kindness.

Blessings on the day today – and peace and love and goodness, healing and harmony.  Gratitude and grace. And all good things.  Let’s do all we can to make it so.

6:

I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to him for that reason.

– Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel was in his early teens when taken prisoner in Transylvania during the last years of WWII.  He and his family were deported to Auschwitz and he and his father were transferred to Buchenwald.  His book, “Night”, is the story of his time in the camps.

Today’s affirmation gives me a perfect example of how relationship with God can, should and does work.  I am not making a comparison between my life and Wiesel’s; my life’s challenges are not anywhere near the tragedies and almost insurmountable odds of Wiesel’s.  My point is that life is not always a happy and joyful journey; sometimes, through some things, I (you / we) can harbor a lot of anger, sorrow, despair and, yes, protest.  The beauty of relationship with God is that all of these feelings are allowed and God loves us just the same.  This unconditional love gives me room to be fully and completely and honestly ME.

Safety.  Maybe that’s the right word? Being safe in relationship with God – not taking advantage of it, or taking it for granted, but rather feeling okay about my true feelings  (anger, resentment, frustration, despair – all the ugly ones – as well as joy, exuberance, happiness, etc.) and expressing them – getting them out – and knowing I’m in God’s safe house whether those feelings are positive or negative.  What a relief.  I can be me.

I’ve come close to losing faith a few times, but never got there. I’ve felt despair and abandonment, however in looking back and analyzing, maybe those feelings weren’t based in reality; maybe I wasn’t taking the time or didn’t have my eyes wide open to see that God was always there with me. Or – maybe I wanted to wallow a bit in all my stuff before I took my first steps back to “better”.

Whatever I’ve been through, and have yet to tackle, God is there. That’s the promise.  All I need do is be still, and God makes His presence known.

Praying today for blessings on your stillness and your listening skills.  I’ll be right along side you, working on mine, too.

5:

Believers, look up – take courage. The angels are nearer than you think.  Billy Graham

This has been quite a week.  Discerning signs or discerning incidents; not sure which, and still discerning.

Last I wrote, I was heading up to Grand Rapids – with heightened anxiety.  I had my truck loaded and finally took off, heading north on the freeway.  Noises; not the usual engine sounds – or the usual truck sounds – I trusted my gut and headed to my mechanic’s shop in the woods instead of staying on course to the show.

Suffice it to say, Jake figured I had been lucky to make it home from Rochester safely the night before.  He also said that HE wouldn’t drive my truck to the Rapids, and thought I had been pretty lucky to make it as far as his place.  A transfer case was the initial prognosis, and I was lucky – blessed? – that the angels had been surrounding me; I KNOW that they had been with me from Rochester to Minneapolis to Forest Lake.

Jake was willing to give me a loaner if I could find another vehicle to get me to the show, so I called my first angel.  An hour later, the truck pulled in, but had a funny smell – the mechanics all came out to see what was going on.  Prognosis: a melted front brake caliper and another declaration that Jake wouldn’t drive THAT truck to the Rapids, but we could use the loaner to get home.

I placed a call to my second angel. No answer at work; no answer on mobile; no answer at home.  All I could do was leave a message and hope for a call back.  I determined that I needed to do all I could to get to the show, otherwise I was going to have a tough time paying Jake.  Determined, anxious and a bit crestfallen. What if it didn’t work out? What if I couldn’t use the truck? What if I didn’t get to the show?

Finally, a call and, yes – her truck was mine for the weekend.  She and her husband arrived at the house at 6:30PM, each in their own vehicle – one for me and the other for their trip to the cabin.  As we said our goodbyes, she smiled ad said, “Do you think this is a sign?” and off we went.  By the time I arrived back at the mechanic’s shop to load up her truck, it was almost 8PM.  It would be a long and dark drive to Grand Rapids, and instead of arriving there at 5, I would get in at just after 11PM.

During that drive, her question got me to thinking. A lot. So here are some questions that ran through my mind:

Is this a test about trusting?

Is this about making things so difficult emotionally and financially that I should give up and change my direction?

Is this another lesson about asking for help? About accepting the kindness and goodness of others?

Is this about believing in grace?

Is it about reinforcing my belief that I’m surrounded by angels – both earthly and heavenly?

Which is the RIGHT question or, better yet, what might be the RIGHT answer?

First, I trusted my gut and got off the road.

Then, in thinking on things, yes – it is sometimes difficult and a stretch, but my gut also tells me that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I have to step out in faith that I will be cared for. So, stepping out again, here I am.

Asking for help is incredibly difficult. It makes me feel weak; it reminds me that I can’t do things alone all the time.  And I think that’s my lesson. I need to learn better how to ask and even better how to receive.

There is grace in being the beneficiary of goodwill; the goodwill of those who love me and would do most anything to help me succeed. And I needed a reminder of that.

Finally, I am a believer.  I have looked up; I have taken courage. The angels ARE nearer than I sometimes think.  Am I surrounded by angels? YES. Both earthly and heavenly.  As such, it’s time to let go of my anxieties and trust.

And for each of those reminders – those answers – those reinforcements – and also for the gift of time and discernment, I am grateful.

So, after this long-winded consideration, I close with this prayer: that I / you / we see the signs. That we see the angels and that we recognize them – both kinds.  Because, believers – they ARE nearer than we think.  And on a side note, I pray that my truck gets fixed by tomorrow – and that I have the funds to pay for it – and that I can hit the road on Thursday in my own rig, surrounded by healing, harmony and peace.

Blessings on your comings and your goings, and on all those with whom you go.

1: 

I am full of HEALING and HARMONY and PEACE.  I will do all I can today to spread it around to all I encounter!

This affirmation is going to be my mantra for the weekend.

Often times I am anxious. I don’t really know if it’s because my schedule is too much in the summer, the stress of not enough time in-studio, or maybe not enough sleep.  It could and probably is all those things combined.  Whatever the causes, the anxiousness attacks me and I feel completely out of sorts.  It often hits when I’m driving, which I hate.  Sometimes I go numb or feel like I can’t get a good breath; other times it makes my stomach churn.  I’ve had to pull over in the past and allow the anxiety to wash over me until I feel “right” again. It’s scary and it’s out of my control; I simply have to allow it to roll through me.

When it happens, I pray. Sometimes I’ve not been able to remember the Lord’s Prayer and so I just pray to be filled with the Spirit – to be filled with healing, harmony and peace.  Other times I just pray to God to be with me and make me strong. Admitting that I get anxious is hard and it feels like a weakness, however I am choosing to believe that it just is what it is and that, as always, I will continue to get through it and move along.

I am grateful to be able to pray simply. To just say, “Help!” and let that be the prayer. God knows my heart and my fears, and God continues to bless me – through others I receive kindness, compassion, stability, and love. I receive all I need – just enough in every way and every thing – and I am grateful for that, too.

I head out in just a bit for another weekend away.  Before I go, I will pray that I travel safely, that I am guided and cared for on the road, and that I am surrounded by angels.  And today, I pray the same for you.  For calm; for healing, harmony and peace. Wherever you are, wherever you go. Blessings, blessings, blessings.

July:

28:

I am grateful for the fullness of my life.  I will seek to see the fullness I have been blessed with, and I will be grateful.

I was talking to a friend the other day about her 18 year-old grandson who had called her to say that he’s started praying at night before he goes to sleep.  She told him to remember that it’s just as important to offer up the “thank you’s” as it is to offer up the “wants and needs.”  That made me smile; he’s learning from one of the best.

Offering up the thank you’s causes me to take my time to think on them; count them; acknowledge them.  Sometimes I can start with one thank you and that leads me to another. And then another. And then another.  Like pulling a thread loaded with beads – plop, plop, plop!  Each bead drops – with each slight pull – into the bucket of gratitude.

Today’s focus is on FULLNESS of life.  Just the sound of the word makes me feel full!  And how do I even wrap myself around this fullness? I am called to look at the broad picture – the whole puzzle, not each small, jigsawed piece.  I am called to focus on the amazing abundance I’ve been given and to think on how truly full and content my life is – search out the blessings, “seek to see” them, pile them up and up and up in my mind and then: be GRATEFUL.

So here’s tonight’s plan:  I’m going to stop what I’m doing, get ready for bed, close my eyes and put on my seeker’s cap.  Name the blessings. Acknowledge them.  And then, I know that with a full heart I will find happy rest.  I pray the same for you.

Sleep well; sweet dreams.

27:

Don’t believe everything you think.

“Don’t believe everything you think” was the bumper sticker on the back of a truck I passed this morning on my way home. I laughed out loud.

Up in Ely for a show since Thursday, I had started on a completely different affirmation last night and it felt all muddled and so I released myself and went to bed.  I had two reasons – good ones – for being in a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world.  First, Leonard, and second, my show booth.

Part I:  Leonard was extremely sick and the Vet was full up and couldn’t see him. “Just keep watching him.”  “Don’t feed him anything but rice and boiled hamburger.”  “If he doesn’t get better, take him to the emergency vet.”  Not altogether comforting, especially when I was 200 miles away. The guy eats rocks like it’s his job; mulch, too. An obstruction sounded about right given his symptoms.  It also sounded expensive, especially if emergency surgery was going to be necessary.

By Saturday morning he was lethargic and had to be awakened to go outside to encourage a drink and to potty.  I was having high anxiety being gone from home with him as sick as he was, and my stomach had been in knots all day Friday and Saturday, with texts and calls checking in, praying, and hoping for change. I put Leonard on a prayer chain.

Part II:  Last night the show closed at 7 and I tied up my tent for the night, leaving around 7:15 for the cabin. After a brief rainstorm, a great dinner, lively conversation and a hot shower, I headed to bed around 10PM.  I checked my email and saw that the Ely Chamber had sent me an email at 9:19PM to say there had been storm damage to my tent and my merchandise.  Way too late to head back to the park, the damage was going to be whatever it was and I needed to try to sleep.

Not so much.  My stomach churned and my head came up with 100’s of scenarios – how bad WAS the wreckage? How many pieces were broken? On and on and on.  I’d staked and sandbagged; what could I have done (or left undone) that my tent may have blown away or, well, what?? Finally, around 1AM I gave up and let myself drift to sleep.

Don’t believe everything you think.

Awake at 3:30AM I was right back at the thinking.  It was too dark out to get up and go to the park to assess any damage – I wouldn’t be able to see anything. My stomach was in knots.  Finally the loons started their calls at 5:30AM and daylight broke. I got up, packed my bag, washed up, loaded up and headed out.

Arriving at the park I found that my tent roof had caved under the rainwater weight and had released, dropping gallons of water into my tent, onto my tables and into my boxes.  And although that might sound bad, there was only wrapping paper and bags lost to the water – no angels damaged!  I took it as a sign that I was to head home (Thank you, Jesus); I packed up, loaded up and headed out – home to see Leonard.

About an hour out of Ely I got word that Leonard had held down (and held in) last night’s dinner as well as all the water he’d been drinking.  There was light at the end of the tunnel.  An hour later he’d pooped a “regular” poop and, although normally not overly enthusiastic about these things, this time it felt like definite proof that prayers had been answered and whatever he needed to work out, the obstruction was unobstructed.  I arrived home and he was his regular happy-go-lucky self. Greatly relieved to see that he was all right, I cried and cried and cried as I hugged, kissed and loved him up!

And so, three lessons to remember: First, that prayers DO get answered; second, that I shouldn’t believe EVERYTHING I think; and third, gratitude, Gratitude, GRATITUDE.

Praying that you find light at the end of your tunnel, signs of prayers answered, that you don’t believe everything you think, and that gratitude reigns supreme in your heart. Blessings on your day . . .

25:

Forgive.

This affirmation is actually a nudge in my estimation. Unless maybe I need to look at it as affirming an action that I should be taking. It’s one of the affirmations in my booth box, and it’s the one that everyone puts back. Or did, until a woman pulled it, looked at me and said, “Well, I guess this is what I was supposed to hear today.”

Brave soul.

I think of donkeys being pulled by their harnesses, butts dragging in the dirt, hooves pushing into the ground. Or, Leonard, on the other end of the lead, pulling when I pull – butt down, neck definitely not cooperating with the positive pull of my hands.

Forgive.

A relatively short word that packs a lot of emotional punch. One that calls me to soften my stand, lower my emotional guard, offer my heart to other and reconcile. Tough work. But work that often needs to be done.

Forgiving doesn’t mean I’ve lost – it means that I’m willing to let go of anger, hurt, sorrow, frustration, peeve. It means I’m willing to let go of trying to control, and allowing peace to come into my heart instead, filling the hole left behind by either a wrongdoing or a transgression. A first step to serenity.

Praying that I / you / we embrace a willingness to forgive. It has to start somewhere; why not with us?

Blessings to you, brave souls.

24:

“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.” Gautama Buddha

Sometimes, when I pull an affirmation and it’s by someone like, say, Buddha, I wonder if he really said it.  I imagine scribes sitting around him, just waiting for a morsel of wisdom to fall from his mouth – pens in hands, papers in laps – hoping to hear correctly and faithfully transcribe each and every word.  Related, in a way, to today’s paparazzi, I suppose.

Being present. Being mindful. That’s what today’s affirmation is about, and I TRY to focus completely on it – but then my mind wanders off, thinking of what I need to put on my to-do list for the day’s errands before I leave for Ely this afternoon.

And then I force myself back to the present; force myself back to mindfulness.

Often I really can be where I am – in studio, in the yard, working on my tasks one by one.  It is wonderful to lose myself in what I’m doing and, then, as I get close to the finish line my mind starts to turn toward the next item on the list.  Maybe it’s a desire to be productive? Maybe it’s a need to feel like I’ve got use, I’m worth my salt; maybe it’s an effort to make organization out of chaos, as there aren’t the same timelines I used to have – meeting times, doing this, doing that for someone else instead of me.  These days, it’s pretty much just me, my timelines, my tasks, my doing.

Well, whatever “it” is today, I will do my best to immerse myself in the at-hand business of the moment.  I will stop and catalog the feel of the air around me, the color of the sky, the sounds of the birds, squirrels and neighborhood dogs. I will load my car, make sure I’ve packed my bag well and then, at some point today, I will get myself in my truck and go, prayerfully driving up north, taking in the scenery along the highway and the smell of fresh air and pine trees.

Oh glorious day!  I will pray for us – that we will truly see where we are, fully, with eyes wide open, and experience the now of each moment. I don’t want to miss any of it, and I imagine you don’t want to, either.  Blessings on your day.

23:

“A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.”  Lois Wyse

I’m finally back to writing; it feels like it’s been too long.  Not having time to dedicate or not having energy; either way, I prefer to be putting thoughts to paper (cyber or otherwise) rather than mulling them over in my mind and NOT writing.

My best friend and I met up last night for dinner.  We hadn’t had 1-1 time together for too long.  I was antsy to see her and just needed the time with her in order to center.  She is the common thread in my life, through marriages, births and deaths; through growing up.

We met at 15 when I moved to Minneapolis.  We didn’t run in the same crowd, but we knew each other; it wasn’t until the month or so before graduation that we actually had a conversation, and it seems we became fast friends after that, and when I moved back to finish college in the city she was there and that was that.

Our conversations are life conversations. They are about happenings at home and at work, and not just a tally of whats, but rather a deeper talk of those things that give us pause to stop and consider the future. Getting older. Being wiser. Being hopeful.

As we parted last night, she called me her “touchstone.”  I think of her that way, actually, and so it surprised me that she thought of ME that way. I mean, I’m the one that’s had change after change after change; I’m the one that, if I was to take a look at all of my friends, is the least stable of all.  My path has been up and down, over the mountain, through the valley, around the lake and spring, summer, fall, winter.  But maybe that’s the deal; through all the change, I’m still just me and she’s still just her.

I like the idea of being someone’s touchstone, especially hers. She is a remarkable woman, generous of spirit, loving, level-headed and smart. She could pick so many others to be her touchstone, but she chooses me.  I’m humbled.

So this morning, I offer a prayer of gratitude. I am grateful that I am loved. Grateful that I am a tie to the past, a road to the future, and a key to (just a bit of) sanity.  At least for her.  And I pray that for you, today, there is appreciation for your touchstone. Your “person” – the one who knows you better than anyone else, who gives you security and comfort and unconditional love. The one that shakes their head in wonder when you’re an idiot, and loves you anyway. So blessed are we to have them in our lives.

Blessings on you – and on your touchstone.  Happy day.

18:

B+.

I like this one because I’m a B+ blood type. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why I look at the glass half full.

I’m in Bayfield tonight, having spent what seems like many hours on the road in the last two days. It’s almost surreal; I made it home last night at 11:15pm, slept til 9, then hit the road at noon. Not much down time.

And yet I’m happy. Happy to be in Bayfield where the lake is just a block away, in a clean motel that an artist friend rented and for whom I’m waiting. She is traveling from southern Illinois (almost Kentucky, to be honest) and won’t  arrive here until the middle of the night. What a funny life I live!

I had dinner in a bar and a nice man named Jerry said he was watching me put up my tent. He apologized for not helping – his wife chastised him for not helping, actually, and so he was feeling a bit sheepish. He took my card and told me their plans for the weekend and also apologized in advance for attending a wedding this weekend instead of the art show since he was so close. He made me laugh.

As I drove up today, there was appoint at which the smell of  the pines was making its way from the forest into my car. It is such a great smell. It tells you that you’ve arrived. That you’ve made your destination. That you’re home. Well, at least that’s what it tells me. I love it.

And I am happy.

Happy to be where I’m at. Happily anticipating the people tomorrow, already hoping to see a family that came last year to my tent. Hoping to reconnect and find out how the year has treated them.

I pray tonight that I / you /we sleep well, waking up refreshed and looking forward to what the day will bring. Reconnecting with others, thinking and being positive – being open to the surprise of the unfolding morrow. Blessings as you rest, and blessings on your positive day – however it unfolds.

17: Today’s Affirmation:

Generosity creates freedom allowing for spiritual growth.

I have had a generous three days. Not that I’ve been generous, but others have been generous to me.

My tent had to be left in Anoka after the show; two legs had broken and I wasn’t able to fold it down to fit in my truck. The search began on Craig’s List and with other show friends to see if there was a tent either for loan or for sale. There was a guy who had one for $199, which was a bit out of my range, so we offered $135 and he said, “Okay.” I picked it up on Tuesday, and as I was leaving he said, “If I didn’t get what I wanted for it, I wasn’t going to sell it.” I pointed out that he’d dropped his price $65 for me – he said, “Yes, I did.”

The generosity here is in the knowing that the tent was worth $600 new. The generosity is also in the understanding that he didn’t have to do it, had no idea my situation, but there he was, selling for less than he’d wanted, and I really didn’t know why. He didn’t seem to know why either; I’m thinking it was simply a God thing.

My week has been busy with getting stuff done, and there’s always a crunch to try and keep up with making, glazing, firing and finishing. I am alone in this most times, but have been blessed lately to have a neighbor willing to help me for a few hours here and a few hours there. Her generous spirit allows me to get twice as much done in half the time, and I love our conversation and the easy spirit she brings to the work. She has been generous with both her time and her being present.

I met a friend for coffee on Monday and learned about the heartbreak of being a grief counselor. I learned about her dreams for a grief center here in Minneapolis, and I am filled with desire to help however I can. I am grateful for her generosity of self – her selflessness with others – helping them to find their way from despair to hope. She is an inspiration.

I had a meeting on Monday with a Spiritual Director; I have to select one to work with for the year as I begin my schooling. I’ve met with two, and really liked them both; they were both generous with me in giving me an hour of their time in order for my discernment on who is the best fit. In the talking there were a few “Aha!” moments, and for that I am grateful. Their generosity in time helped me to grow, allowed me room for thought and opportunity to trust the Spirit’s leading.

On Tuesday evening, a wonderful friend from my high school days came for dinner. He’s one of the beautiful people who is open, honest, kind and compassionate. He suffered loss this year, and he’s been processing – he took a road trip (5300 miles) and just allowed himself to “be”. We talked about his time and his family, and he was generous in giving me not just details, but sharing his feelings and his warmth. He is a good man, and one I am blessed to call ‘friend’. He was generous in his presence – and a good bottle of wine.

A friend stopped by yesterday to have a chat – it was one of those things that we’d been trying to do, but the timing kept conflicting. She kept at it though, and in the talking there were some personal revelations in the give and take of the discussion. Her generosity of time and honesty and wisdom helped me to see some of my “things” in a new light, and for that I’m grateful.

There have been several instances over these last few days, and my mind keeps running over them, appreciating the experiences and being grateful for the way The Divine works in my life. I need to keep focusing on all the wonderful things I DO have versus those things that I DON’T have. I need to continue focusing my gratitude upward, and loving the way things happen in my life.

I need to pay the generosity forward.

Today as I head back to Rochester, I pray that I will be generous of spirit. That I will share myself and my feelings, and that in all of the sharing, there will be growth, hope and healing. I pray for eyes wide open to see the need and to meet it. And I pray the same for you.

Blessings as you navigate your generous day.

14:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

I notice this every day. It is no coincidence that a lot of my customers find their way to me after loss or some kind of struggle. They are seekers, just as I am, have been, and will be again. Seeking hope, seeking support, seeking respite in the midst of personal storm – or reaching out in order to offer hope, support and respite to someone they love.

When I think on my own struggles, I always sought out a means of hope. Family, friends, pastors, counselors, hospital staff; I needed hope. I needed to grieve, needed to see that there was “life after” – needed to have someone try and understand me.  And I did, and I did, and there was.

And so, with help, I would find my hope again and would manage to start over – or at least take off again – from where I’d derailed.

I think on this not to say I’m one of the beautiful people, but rather to acknowledge that there ARE so very many of you out there, willing to help the newbie that has just fallen into your moccasins. The mother who lost her son. The sister whose brother died of AIDS. The neighbor whose marriage just fell apart.  Because I know (and you know / we know) that no one understands better than the one who has suffered the same as we and in whose steps and shadow we fall.

And so I offer this thought – take your experience and share it with someone who needs it. Don’t expect someone else to do it – YOU do it. Be brave. Offer hope. Offer support. Offer respite. Share you and, in doing so, you will learn again how strong you are, how much others need your experience and your wisdom, and you will grow. I promise.

Blessings as you seek, find, share – you beautiful, beautiful you.

12-13:

The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.  Thich Nhat Hanh

I was at a show yesterday and it’s one I like; my neighbors are the same each year, and they’re both wonderful.  One of them is an older, gentle man in his 70’s or so, who makes beautiful pieces out of wood – eagles, buffalo, crosses, flowers, mirrors. His daughter is about my age and she comes to help him set up and tear down; his brother-in-law, too.  His wife comes to spend the day, and his sister, and they all sit at a table behind his booth and talk. What I love about them is the easy way they converse. They are so kind to each other, have a sense of humor, and they cajole and chuckle – a lot. I love to hear them without really listening to what they say.

Yesterday I was having trouble catching up.  I was overly tired and, when I’m too tired, my brain doesn’t work like it should. I felt like I wasn’t getting things done efficiently and was grasping at straws. I misplaced my stuff. I was off my game.  I felt vulnerable and as though I just wasn’t doing the best job. 8 hours of struggling.

Toward the end of the day, the daughter came over to my booth and told me that she’d been watching me interact with my customers. She told me that she was amazed at how people are drawn in and how they must feel my energy and are drawn to it. That there are so few people like me who have passion for what they do, and include follow-through from A to Z. Not just in the making and the presentation, but also in the listening, the attentiveness to detail, the wrapping, the bagging and the hand-off.

And because I was vulnerable, struggling, and feeling so incredibly spent, I cried. I confessed that it’s hard some days. I told her how I was feeling inside and how much her words meant to me.  Her kindness humbled me. I felt better. She helped me to reduce my stress and I could breathe a little better.  It was a gift; SHE was a gift. She gave what I needed at just the right time and her kindness helped me finish the day and pack up, load up and load out.

Her kindness blessed me more than she knows.

Afterwards, I spent the evening with my family. Our dogs played, we ate dinner together, I put one of my granddaughters to bed. It was an evening full of good food, laughter and relaxation. It was easy and it felt good. Pure joy.

And today I am regrouping. I am gaining strength and finding some time to rest. Gratefully.

I am also praying that I / you / we find opportunity to offer a kind word and bring joy to another. I am also praying that, as needed, the right person finds us at the right time to bring us kindness and joy. The source of love is deep within and opportunity awaits.  Eyes wide open and ready to offer kindness, let’s find it and act on it.  Blessings on your day.

11:

Lord, help me; my boat is so small and your sea so immense.

I arrived home late last night from Rochester; I had customers past the closing time, and then another that stopped by to chat. I am grateful for the opportunity to connect and to be present with them. I feel that part of my job is to wait and be patient, not worry about time, not to rush, and to just be. And so, I arrived home just around midnight.

Today I am tired; Leonard up at 5, then back to bed for an hour or so. The rain is pouring outside and for some reason, tears seem to be just at the surface. I know that when I’m tired, my body aches, I’m more emotional, and I’m not “on top of my game”. I force myself to step back and accept that this IS my game, and I only have to be present in the moment, not a 24/7 super star, and that I can give myself some emotional wiggle room.

Looking out my windows and watching the water running down the street toward the corner drains brought the visualization of paper boats we made as kids and placed on the water, only to watch them go away and then fall apart slowly, opening up and becoming just pieces of paper again. Falling apart, wet and heavy, from paper back to pulp.

Lord, help me; my boat is so small and your sea so immense.

Shifting from tiredness and tears takes a bit; a bit of time, a bit of conscious thinking to move myself from one state of emotion to another. It takes letting go of the physical pain and releasing it – almost letting myself further INTO it in order to release; deep breathing and a conscious relaxing of shoulders, arms, legs and feet. Accepting the aches as part of the day, thanking God for where I’m at versus where I could be.

And so I say, “Lord, help me; my boat is so small and your sea so immense.” And He meets me, arms open wide: “I have called you by name.”

Praying that we find ourselves hopeful, looking up, looking forward – grateful for His presence, grateful that we can let go and let Him manage the rudder. Thanking God because, sometimes, it’s nice to just let go and find peace.

Blessings and peace to you, today, tomorrow, always.

9-10:

Practicing patience: I’m watching for the bobber and waiting for the ripples.

I had a complete affirmation written on this yesterday, and then my computer went down; I didn’t have time to rewrite and so here I am today, patiently attempting to recreate a bit of what was written yesterday.

This affirmation came from my friend, Cliff. Recently retired, Cliff bought a boat for fishing.  I imagine that, when not at art shows and when he has a sunny day, he’s probably out on his boat seeing if he can catch up some dinner.

This affirmation has a deeper meaning than just fishing and bobber watching. Cliff’s dad died when Cliff was just a boy. Every time Cliff goes fishing, he believes his dad becomes present and the sign is in bobber and the ripples. And so every time, Cliff waits, practices patience, and watches for the bobber, the ripples, and his father.

Practicing patience isn’t easy – most of the time. I live in a world of instant gratification, where meals can be cooked in five minutes (maybe only three), and I have instant connection to most everything I want with just a click. It makes patience hard to practice!  However, it seems that the practice comes into play when I’m the one that’s not in control.  In other words, when the situation arises that doesn’t make do with just a click or a few minutes in the microwave, I have to work on the wait. And the patience. And being okay with it being what it is until I know what presents itself at the final outcome.

I am not a toe-dipper. I am a jump-in-full-on type of person. My friends can attest to that. This behavior / attitude / personal attribute has gotten me into trouble several times. Without thought – without patience – I’ve made decisions spur-of-the-moment and suffered the consequences.  Maybe if I’d been less full-on and more toe-dipping, I wouldn’t have wasted all that energy or money getting myself out of jambs.  Food for thought.

So today, I pray for patience and continued patience and long-lasting patience. Patience to wait and to see things through; patience to wait for the slow reveal. Patience to allow all things to come together at the right time – patience watching the bobber and waiting for the ripples.  And I pray the same for you.  Blessings on YOUR day.

7-8:

Tears of joy are like the summer rain drops pierced by sunbeams.

I pulled this affirmation yesterday and couldn’t decide how to think about it, which I suppose sounds kind of silly. I sat and sat, trying to remember when I last had ‘tears of joy’ – I know I’ve HAD them, I just can’t come up with a recent time when I’ve had them.

And then at 10AM this morning, I was interviewed by someone who is writing a book on child loss and parenting after loss.  It was during the interview that I realized I was in the midst of my greatest joy story. And so, I share.

After the stillbirth of my first two daughters, I was pregnant again.  My third pregnancy was hard for me; I was pretty detached.  And although I took good care of myself and tried to be happy about it, having lost two already I was finding it hard to imagine that I would ever have a live baby; I was almost resigned to just believing that being pregnant was all a cruel joke. For the next 9 months I became a non-communicant with God.  I was angry for twice having gone home with empty arms and empty hands. I kept my feelings in check; I wasn’t about to give God the satisfaction of my attention.

Every week I went to the doctor for a check up because I was considered high-risk.  By the time I was at 7 months, I was going in for a stress test once a week.  Two weeks before my due date, my baby began showing signs of stress during the testing, so a C-section was scheduled for the next week.  The night before surgery, I went into labor; I called the doctor and went into the hospital for observation and it was determined that the C-section needed to be performed right away – my baby was in stress.

I had been under general anesthesia for my first daughter’s stillbirh, and didn’t remember anything except waking up.  When my second daughter was stillborn, I had been given an epidural and so was awake for the delivery; I distinctly remember the QUIET.  There was no talking between the operating staff after a delivery with no living result. It was as though time had stood still in that operating room, and the experience had been surreal.  Now in the operating room again for baby 3, I was afraid.

Quickly – all within five minutes – an incision one way, then the other, a push just below my chest and out of my body the baby popped out into the doctor’s hands. It was dead QUIET; the silence lasted an eternity.

And then – the borning cry.  My daughter was ALIVE!  A floodgate of tears poured out – tears of JOY – tears for babies past, tears for baby present, tears of disbelief, tears of amazement.

Like summer rain drops pierced by sunbeam.

Praying that, today, I / you / we find our JOY. Beyond measure. The kind that brings tears of gratitude in the knowing. The kind that comes from either deep inside ourselves or the kind brought to us by those we love.  Either way, let it come.  Blessings on your day.

5-6:

Call deep on your courage.  It’s there.

Courage comes from the French word for heart: Cuer.  Synonyms include: Fearlessness, dauntlessness, intrepidity, pluck, spirit.

It makes me think of my granddaughter.

Lila was born with pluck, like a lot of other kids I’ve gotten to meet and know.  She had challenges from the start – she was small, had trouble breathing, and was transferred to Children’s Hospital soon after she was born.  She made it through some tough stuff early on, and her parents were – and continue to be – amazing. They just “do” it.  They don’t complain, they don’t coddle, they don’t enable.  They live life. They encourage her to continue to grow and build on her abilities and her courage – even when it’s hard; they encourage her take heart and to try.  And she does. And she is pretty excited when she learns something new. I think she’s amazing.

Children like my Lila have had the kind of challenges that have created hurdles – not just for them, but also for their parents. The kind that test faith and patience and purpose and journey; that give plenty of opportunity for gratitude when there is achievement – big or little. Maybe it’s learning at a slower pace; maybe it’s a physical challenge. But what these children all have in common is courage. Heart. Pluck.

Often, though, challenges aren’t on the outside where everyone can see them. Instead, they’re on the inside where roots go deep, wrapping themselves around hearts and minds and causing heartache and emotional pain.  These are the kind of challenges that go far beyond anything physical.  Learning disabilities and difficulties; emotional disabilities. The effects resulting from suffering of physical, verbal and emotional abuse.  Those challenges aren’t things that can be seen.

So what can I do? I can encourage Lila to have courage. Heart. Pluck.  I can teach her about compassion and about being loving, even when it’s hard. I can teach her to treat others the way she wants to be treated. I can help her to learn to look beyond what she can see, to wonder, to empathize and to love as best she can; I can teach her to look at the whole person, not just who she sees at first glance.

Changing the world by loving others takes courage. And heart. And pluck.  Today I pray for those who need love, and for those who can give love. That the one finds the other. That, instead of being satisfied living in a world continuing to look for ways to divide, we can be courageous enough to follow the beat of the different drummer – to look for ways to come together and to help make this world a better place.  Follow the heartbeat. Call deep on your courage. It’s there.

4:

People who have a strong sense of love and belonging are people who believe they are worthy of love and belonging.  If you have ever had doubts about that, stop doubting. You are loved. You belong.  Believe it.

I remember times as a kid when I felt I didn’t belong and that I wasn’t loved. Those times were accompanied by a lot of tears and frustration, and long walks on the outskirts of town where the wind blew hard, the sun was hot and my crying couldn’t be heard by anyone.  I was a bit of an odd man out; I wasn’t ever “from” anywhere once we left my birthplace, and there always seemed to be a lot of explaining to do – there was a lot of this question: “What ARE you?”

It seems there aren’t a lot of half-Spanish/half-French Canadian kids either in North Dakota or Minnesota, and there was always a bit of a disconnect for the curious ones trying to figure out why I was so dark or if I was Mexican or if I was North American Indian.  I had to figure out where I stood in all of the uncertainty and, in the long run, it helped me to learn about pride in who I was and “what” I was.  I still get asked, but I don’t feel as funny about it anymore.

As a young woman, I didn’t have enough courage or strength to do what my heart’s desire was, and so I followed like a sheep in the footsteps of the others who married young, thinking no one would ever love the “real” me, or the me that wanted to take the less beaten path. I guess I figured I’d better grab that ring while my chances were good and so I went the way of Betty Crocker – get married, get the cookbook, get cookin’ and get some babies.

Why didn’t I see my own value or believe in myself enough or imagine that I needn’t settle for many of the wrong reasons?  It has taken a lot of living to get me to the place where I am now, with a strong sense of love and belonging and worth.  And to be honest, that’s okay. I’m incredibly grateful that I found all of it, even if it took me so long.

I don’t know if I ever communicated well enough to my daughter the message that she was loved, belonged and worthy.  I think I did; I guess I’ll have to ask her.  I do want to make sure my granddaughters hear the message, though. I want them to know their value – not only to me and their family, but to know how much God values them and sees their worth. I want them to know it, to feel it, to understand it – in their heads and in their hearts.

Today I am praying for the someone out there that isn’t quite sure. That somehow some certainty will come into their lives and they will see that they are worth being loved, worth relationship and worth belonging.  Worth IT.  Because we all are, you know. And if you’ve ever had doubts about it, it’s time to stop doubting. Look up.

We are loved. We belong. We are worthy.

Blessings to you, today; you are surrounded by love, Love, LOVE.

Today, tomorrow, always.

2-3:

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Last night as I sat down to write, a great tiredness came over me and I let go; I allowed myself to go to bed instead of forcing out my gratitudes for the day. “Forcing” is a strong word; what I mean is that the energy for the day was truly depleted, and I knew I didn’t have it in me to give the topic of gratitude justice.

It was a busy day; several people stopped by the studio – old friends and new acquaintances.  “Full” conversations; learning conversations.  What’s been going on with them, their families, their travels, and also a revelation or two about myself through the give and take of both feelings being expressed and information shared.

And for that, I have gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

This morning I am grateful for joy.  To wake up joyfully in the morning is a blessing; I am grateful to have tasks at hand and a plan for the day.  Leonard was awake when the alarm went off. I opened the kennel door and was greeted with several very noisy yawns and the thump of hefty and hearty tail-wagging – it took a lot of coaxing to get him to come out of the cozy kennel and join the party outside.  He made me laugh – this lanky puppy who doesn’t talk much, happy as could be to be waking up and yawning and moaning and cranking himself up to stand up and start the day. Pure joy to watch.

I’m also grateful for what looks to be shaping up as a beautiful day. Sunshine after so much rain, and I’m excited to head to Rochester for the day to see my friends there and to meet the people who are brought to me by The Divine. I am grateful for relationship; the “pop-up” neighbors I have in the other vendors, as well as the customer-friends who stop in to check on me and say hello.  This really is such a good life; I am grateful for having been led to this place at this time in my life.

And now I am going to have gratitude for hot water and a bar of soap – as it’s time to get ready to make my way into the bigger world, beginning with the gift of a warm shower. With that, I pray that the day continues to be full of reasons to say, “Thank you.”  That the gifts of the day are plentiful – that I / you / we recognize them, both large and small. And that we thank the Maker in all things.  Blessings, blessings, blessings on your day, on your comings and your goings, and on those you love.

1:

“He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.” – Buddha

Today’s affirmation speaks to the interconnectedness of all beings; as such, I’m still trying to figure out how I’m connected to the mosquito that bit me this morning while I was monitoring the dogs and having a cup of coffee.

I am connected, though. To the mosquito, the dogs and the coffee bean.  And the coffee bean grower. And the grass on which the dogs run and the sky through which the mosquito flies. At the very least, believing there is one “Maker”, then all things – all beings – are interconnected because of, with, and through the Maker.

Believing in the concept (or the reality) of interconnectedness, it goes even deeper – the sadness of my friend or my family or my neighbor affects me; I see myself in their eyes, in their situation – things are not as compartmentalized as one might think or hope.  Their life touches mine and we are connected. We feel each other’s emotions and roll with them. We do what we can to assuage guilt, sadness, fear. We share joy and are grateful when they are grateful.  We live independently, yet interdependently.

Praying tonight that I / you / we feel the connectedness – that we rejoice in it, and in the knowing that we are not alone.  Praying that we spread love, kindness, compassion – remembering that we need to treat as we want to be treated.  Praying that you find your center, see yourself in the eyes of the other, and that you are blessed by the experience.

Sleep well. Blessings on your night.

June:

29-30: Today’s Affirmation:

Jesus wept. John 11:35

This is the shortest verse in the Bible and, to me, one of the most powerful. It also seems to be one of the most difficult for me to consider and discern, evidenced by the fact that I’ve been writing and editing it for two days, now.  Hard, because my focus is on grief; I’m trying to get my arms around my own feelings and around this verse, and it’s not easy.

In John 11, Jesus weeps – not in anguish over the death of his friend, Lazarus, but because He feels the pain, sadness and devastation in the hearts of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, on losing their brother. Jesus weeps with them because he loves them dearly, and He is moved to tears because of their sorrow. Clearly, He understands how they feel and His heart hurts so much that His reaction is to weep.

He meets Mary and Martha exactly where they are.  Isn’t that beautiful?

I have grieved about a lot of loss. My grief has run deep; there have been times that I have felt so isolated, so desperate and in so much pain that I felt I could not move. And in all of those times, as I allowed my processing to work it’s way through, I have wept; I have sobbed; I have been cleansed through my tears.

And Jesus met me right where I was, every time.

In grieving with friends over their losses, their sadness became mine because I love them. And Jesus met us right where we were, every time.

Tears are our body’s way to help move our emotion from inside to out.  A response to our deepest feelings, they are cleansing; they are an avenue to feeling stronger and better; they are a way to help us move from sorrow and grief to joy.  No shame, no embarrassment, no feeling silly.  Grief needs to be processed and released. Sometimes, it takes a long time for all of that to happen. Years, in fact. I am a case in point.  I cry without knowing why, and accept that I am crying because I am processing some grief that hadn’t quite made its way out yet.

And so, tonight, after much deliberation, I pray for all of us who grieve loss. That we might release our grief through tears, and that we might all know that we are not alone. That we will find strength through our release, and that we will find the day tomorrow an easier one. Blessings on us as we allow ourselves to move from sorrow to joy – one minute, one hour, one day – one tear – at a time.  Rest in His arms.

28:

Weather the storm.

Today I came home from a rainy, gusty, windy, sometimes sunshiny, sometimes just cloudy day in Eagan, where I was a little freaked out – well, no – a lot freaked out. One angel broke from the shaking of the tent and the gridwall; it was a little scary, yet I kept praying for peace and comfort.

God is so good.  In the midst of MY storm, someone I love came to help me with stakes and a mallet and rope.  I am so grateful.

When I arrived home, this beautiful note is what was waiting for me and so, today, these are the words I use for my affirmation; I cannot expound on weathering a storm better than this.  Gratefully and incredibly humbled, I share them with you:

June 2014

I needed an Angel and you appeared with a cross that fits perfect in my hand, you were my angel that Thursday. I hold the cross in my hand when I pray and when I feel anxious and need to remember that God will keep me safe. I love the prayer on the letter that you gave me with the cross, is that your prayer or is it from somewhere? I love that prayer, it has meaning on a lot of levels for me.

You and your cross has brought peace of mind to me. Thank you for being my Angel, God brought you to me on Thursday too soothe me and to remember His grace.

Thank you,

Gail

And all God’s people say, “Amen.”  Blessings on your day.

27:

Life is available only in the present moment. Thich Nhat Hanh

Arriving home late last night, I took some time to unwind after a long day.  I was tired on the drive home and thought I’d just collapse upon entering the house, but instead I was wound up and it took another hour to finally get into bed and release the day’s happenings and find my peace in deep slumber.

After a day of reorganizing my car and my work space (although you might not know it by looking), I came in the house to add some affirmations to my compilation in order to print out a fresh set, cut them, and place them in their box for this weekend’s show.

I got as far as adding the affirmations and then was called into the kitchen (maybe it was more an effort to procrastinate) and I ate some chocolate chips, and then I remembered that my daughter had given me one of those cookie jar things for Christmas that you dump into a bowl, add an egg, vanilla and butter, mix up and voila! you have a dozen or more cookies. I’m waiting for the cookies to bake, I’m celebrating the joy of Christmas past and cookie present.

I can’t actually time-travel back to Christmas, nor can I time-travel forward to our upcoming Christmas to see what cookie jar thing I might get next – instead I can find a touch of joy in the remembering, and wait for the cookies to bake.  I am living in the present moment; mind not wandering anywhere except on this page, as I consider, write, re-write, edit and, at some point, post.

Living in the past holds me in a place that I’ve already experienced.  Living with my thoughts only towards the future robs me of my current moment.  I am forcing myself to stop, think only within the now, and not worry about forthcoming rain and what the weekend may bring.  Seriously – I am simply being where I am, right now, within this moment.

And what I am experiencing is a puppy snoring, the scent of fresh cookies baking, a violin concerto on the radio, and the sensation of my own cold feet. This is my life at this present moment.  I breathe in the grace of now.  The joy of living. The simplicity of the moment I’m in.  No worry about what may come, just immersing myself in the now.

Right this minute, I pray that I / you / we encounter the NOW. This present moment. As you read this, live all the sensations of the where and how and who of now.  And I hope you’re smiling as you imagine me with my cookie.  Or two.

Here’s to our senses – seeing, feeling, smelling, hearing, tasting.  Revel in them. They are yours to experience – right now.  Blessings on the happenings.

25-26:

Be open to positive change in your life.

Yesterday I spent the day at a conference on Transformative Thinking and Connecting.  It was meant primarily for those in the nursing profession, but there were also a few of us from other walks of life.

At the end of the conference, we were asked to share with our tablemates what we were going to do to carry out the messages we’d heard about change and connection.  One of the speakers had touched a spot in my heart with this gem: “Be a scholar of the human experience.”

I may not have a BA, BS, MA, MS or PhD, but I do have experience, time and a love of learning.  I also have a deep compassion for people and I want to listen to their stories.

Connection with others creates healing for both of us.  Learning and healing takes time, a willingness to share, and active listening. Being in the present. Connection, respect and meeting right where we’re at.  Feel what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Feel compassion for their experience. And through all this, there will be a softening, a deep breath (or two), a release of tension.

And a start toward positive change.

Positive change is a choice, just as are all the steps leading to it. Willingness to be vulnerable and to lower defenses – and keep them lowered – is a choice.  Checking ego and anger at the door is a choice. Active listening is a choice. The return on investment is connection, open dialogue, trust, respect, growth and, soon enough, positive change.

People, listen: there’s always time to care about another person. Speed-dating and speed-networking have proven it.  5 minutes is all it takes.

Today I’m praying that I / you / we find the connection that will help bring about growth and positive change. That we will see and experience other’s humanity, seeing ourselves in the mirror of their face.  And through that, with gentle action, we can – and WILL – make the world a better place. One positive experience at a time. It only takes one drop to create a ripple.

24:

Stop.  Remember to take a breath and center yourself.  Find your peace.

This morning Leonard started whining at 4:55AM.  I wasn’t quite ready to get up, but I also knew that ignoring him might not be the best idea and the alarm was only 20 minutes from going off.  Up I got, outside we went, and the day began.

Before I knew it, I was picking up after him, then back in the house for our morning routine of breakfast (for him), coffee- and smoothie-making, then back outside for 35 – 40 minutes sitting on the front step.  In the sitting, I finally took a moment to stop, relax and center.

Mornings here are busy – not just inside our house, but outside, too.  There are paper-boys running deliveries across the street, runners getting in their exercise, bikers heading to work.  Cars, cops, ambulances and trucks make their way up and down the boulevard, going to their destinations post-haste.  And all of this was at 5:20AM.

Lately I’ve been pondering my next steps.  My schedule is saturated with shows (a good thing), I’ve got a pretty heavy manufacturing schedule, and school begins in the Fall.  Sometimes I wonder how I’ll get everything done; but I’m not alone in that – don’t we all wonder?  Too much to do, and too little time.  We are busy, busy, busy, busy, BUSY.

And then something (or Someone) tells me to stop.  Take a moment. Breathe. Center. Stop struggling with thoughts and come to peace.  Breathe again.

And so I do.

Every time I write the word “breathe” I take a deep breath.  It’s funny how that works – it’s almost a command that I have to immediately follow.  The breaths aren’t just shallow up and down breaths; they’re what I call “hump breaths” – there’s some inner hump that I physically pop over with a deep breath and relaxation takes hold; tightness abates. With that deep breath I’m centered again, and it only took a two-second focus on my breathing.

In this world of run, run, run, I pray that you remember today to love yourself enough to STOP.  Focus on your breathing and allow your body to relax and center.  All the craziness will still be there – allow yourself to release all the junk and BREATHE.  Find and acknowledge that blessing of two-seconds of peace.  It’s yours for the taking.

Travel safely. Breathe deeply.  Be grateful.  Blessings on your day.

22-23:

Accept yourself and be grateful that you can grow from where you are.

Yesterday was a day of growth.  I put to rest a lot of grief that, as of January this year, I wasn’t even aware still existed inside of me. Yesterday I honored my three stillborn daughters at the dedication of Garden of the Sleeping Angels.

I am so incredibly grateful.

I am grateful that two people were moved to make their gardens a sanctuary for those that have experienced the loss of a child through stillbirth, miscarriage, SIDS and disease. I am grateful for the hearts of those who serve those families for they, too, experience grief every time a family loses their child. I am grateful for the opportunity to be human and vulnerable. To be able to reach out to others who have also stood in my shoes, at a loss for the “why?” and who often hide their grief because no one really understands except those who have suffered the same.  And most of us don’t talk about it, and so we rarely find each other.

The vision and compassion it took to see need and to answer that call seem to me to be extraordinary.  To pursue opening space where a mother, a father, a grandparent, a sibling or friend can come, sit, and experience peace takes selflessness – especially when the place has been home for twenty years. It takes seeing beyond the doorstep, moving out and into nature, and knowing that somehow, for those that come, that place will shift sorrow to joy – just in the being there.

And it also takes the willingness of those that have lost to be vulnerable, to go to the place in their hearts where sorrow has lain dormant, and to release it to The Divine and the Universe.

And that is where the growth begins.

So today’s is a more specific prayer: For those of you who have experienced the loss of a child or grandchild, I am sorry. I have been there and my heart aches for you.  But I pray that you know that there is hope, and there is healing, and there is joy.  And if you’re willing to make the trek to a peaceful sanctuary to spend some time wandering through the beauty of gardens, with birdsong, breeze and water as your companions, I say, “Go.”  Honor your loss. Honor your strength. Honor your life.

Blessings to you and to those you love.  Grow. Right now, right where you are.

21:

Trains and train noises are a sacrament; a sign of Grace and transcendent power.  A love sign of God’s presence in the world.  Andrew Greely

When I was a kid living in North Dakota, I made friends with a girl who lived on a  ranch with sprawling acres of hills and valleys, a horse barn and horses, a training ring and even an old oil barrel on bungees – a pretend bucking bronco. I learned how to ride western – barrels and poles; we were always outside, usually on horseback, and it seemed to me to be a grand life.

When there were overnights, we got to pick the room in which we would sleep.  Most often we picked a room that was on the end of the house, second floor, with two sets of bunk beds and a big yard light outside that shone in the window of the room all night.  We talked and laughed well into the night – and would finally fall asleep, completely exhausted, around 3AM.

And then at some point after falling asleep, there would come the sound of the freight train, blowing its whistle, piercing the night with the chug of the engine and the rumble of the steel on the tracks.  It was a comfort, though; closer and closer it came, finally upon me – and then gradually fading away. It was always a beautiful awakening and then a slow re-settling into slumber.  I was never, ever afraid of the train – only curious of where it had been and where it was going.

I think Greely captured the experience and feel of trains and train noises perfectly; the POWER – AND the Grace – moving through our lives. The feel of the rumble resonating in the chest.  A beautiful image representing the Power, Grace and Love of God.  Think on it the next time you sit at a train stop.

Praying that today you see Power, Grace and Love in something tangible; that you find that amazing sign of God’s presence – be it through the gift of a moving train, or through the beauty of an unfolding lily.  It’s out there, just waiting for you to find it.

Blessings on your day . . .

20:

Today, accept life on its terms. All of it. Be open to all you see, hear, think and feel in the moment, without resistance. Be open to being fully alive and enjoying the adventure.

This morning I went fishing. Well, I actually didn’t fish, but I read while my partner fished. Sunnies were practically jumping into the bucket! One big carp spinned out of the water, jumping almost a foot from the surface, then down again. When we arrived, there was still mist all around from the heavy rains of late, and it was a full two hours before the sun managed to burn off the haze.

I wasn’t supposed to go fishing / reading today. I was supposed to work in the studio, get some more glazing done, do some prep work for the upcoming week. Instead, fishing was what happened, and it was a wonderful morning watching the lake awaken.

I was trying really hard to notice everything. To be attentive. To see who else showed up, and to watch the birds and the fish. To see the sky change. And I actually did a pretty good job. I wanted to be PRESENT. To see the unfolding of the day. To accept the breeze, to watch the many dragon flies of differing sizes compete for space on a flat rock on which to sun. It was fun to look at each sunfish that came out of the lake on the line and to watch to see which were thrown back. Always the little ones, of course, and maybe we’ll catch them again later in the season.

Accepting the change in the day and being open to what unfolded was a blessing. To actually have a “hooky” day, to spend it with someone I love, lazily reading and watching the sky change, well, it was awesome. I need more days like that – being fully open to whatever the moment brings.

Tonight I pray that you have a day this summer like the one I had today. That the fish practically jump in your bucket, or that you get a hole-in-one, or that you hike the best trail you’ve ever encountered, or you and your lazy dog just spend a day in the hammock. However that “hooky” day pans out, I pray that it’s full of blessings, that you see, hear, think and feel in the moment. No resistance. Accepting that where you are is where you’re supposed to be, incredibly alive and enjoying the adventure laid out before you.

Blessings on YOUR adventure – whatever it may be.

19:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. 1Thess:16-18

Rejoicing when circumstances are good is easy.  Rejoicing when things shift from the norm to something unrecognizable, difficult or challenging is hard work. In those times of tough change, it takes looking at the flip side of things (even when I don’t want to entertain that exercise) to find something about which to rejoice.  This morning, the pouring rain had me praying that the show day would be canceled, regardless the loss of income.  The practical / flip side I came up with was this:  By canceling the show today, I might lose income, but my chances of being struck by lightening were minimized.

And maybe that’s the way I need to look at circumstantial change that seems negative: my chances of being struck by metaphorical lightening – otherwise known as a worse circumstance than the one I’ve found myself in – are minimized.

And so, I can step back and give thanks. Thanks for a day inside. Thanks for a day catching up on paperwork, cutting soap, training my pup.  Doing things that have been on a back burner; given the opportunity to play catch up. Grateful in that – because those days – these days – are pretty rare.

Tonight, I’m praying that rejoicing comes easy, even when the circumstance isn’t what I / you / we originally hoped for. Praying that we see the gift of being saved from the metaphorical lightening of a worse outcome. And then giving thanks – in all things: good and bad and everything in between.

Praying, too, for safety, security and the strength to tackle the adversity that comes our way.  This too shall pass – soon enough.

18:

Seek advice, and then make your own decision.  Follow your intuition.  Allow your body to tell you what is right for you.

Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned that valuing the advice of those I hold in high esteem and want the best for me is critical in considering the various aspects of a predicament or concern.  I can see only from my viewpoint; I definitely don’t always see what others do – and so I’m grateful to listen and get opinions shared from others.  In the end, the decision is still mine to make, but at least I’ve been open-minded about listening to the wisdom of those who’ve possibly already made the journey.

Being aware of what my body / gut is telling me is a gift from the Holy Spirit (at least it is in my world).  Nudges creating unsettling moments shape my thinking and help me to move closer to where I’m supposed to be or to what I’m supposed to do.  Trusting that the Holy Spirit is with me, and my moving forward in a way that is consciously kind, compassionate and loving, I feel good about the decisions I am led to make.  Conversely, I know very well when I’m being pig-headed and moving in the wrong direction, casting caution to the wind and not being considerate of the ripple affect of my actions.  Those decisions are the ones that cause me trouble – lots and lots and lots of trouble. Selfish motives, selfish end results; not much self-satisfaction.

Listening. Searching my heart, thinking, processing and then acknowledging my gut instincts.  All of these play into making good, solid life decisions.  As I map out the day today, I pray that I / you / we listen to body; pray about a decision; listen to the wisdom of others and for the answer given through the gift of intuition.  Selfless motives, positive end results, lasting self-satisfaction.  Blessings on your discerning.

17:

Love. Fall in love over and over again every day. Love your family, your neighbors, your enemies, yourself. And don’t stop with humans. Love animals, plants, stones – even the galaxies. – Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

This affirmation is asking a lot; first, to broaden my viewpoint. Away from thinking only about those in close proximity and calling me to remember those with whom I’m not in harmony; remembering also to love myself, the animals, the plants and minerals, the stars and all those things of which I cannot see even a speck.

Fall in love.

Remembering the feeling of falling in love with my first love; holding my child for the first time; the feeling of total surrender to someone or something by which I was completely taken. Can I bring myself to that place over and over and over again every single day?

Fall in love.

It’s easy to care for and even love neighbors with whom I feel connection, but what about the ones that make me crazy? What about the ones that aren’t responsible? The ones that openly fight in the street? How on earth do I love them? Why is it MY job? Neighborly love is considered “affectionate concern”; how do I have affectionate concern for people with whom I’ve barely had hello?

Fall in love.

An enemy is someone who is hostile towards me. The thought of having real enemies is something that makes my stomach hurt, much less trying to figure out how in the world I move myself to love them. And sometimes I’m my own worst enemy; how do I get beyond the self-loathing, disappointment and frustration OF me to LOVE me?

Fall in love.

I look beyond the difficulty and the failure; I love through the eyes of The Divine. I try to see what The Divine sees. I look at my partner and see deep inner beauty, layered with love and kindness and compassion. I look at my daughter and granddaughters and see the miracle of life. I look at my crazy, irresponsible, fighting neighbors and try to understand what might have gone wrong to put them in the place where discord reigns in their home. I take a hard look at my relationship with enemy, seek out where I have done wrong, ask for forgiveness. I search myself with kindness and compassion; I am gentle with me, because The Divine is gentle with me.

Over and over and over again, every single day.

I pray that I / you / we open up to love. To the transformative power of seeing all things through the eyes of God. Gentle, loving, kind, compassionate God. Blessings to your family, your neighbors, your enemies, YOU – as you take a second look through God-colored glasses.

16:

Your gifts will only make you feel fulfilled when you use them for others as well as for yourself.  Keeping yourself to yourself is a waste of your ability to become truly whole.

This morning I’m imagining a world where everyone is giving of themselves to others without reservation. No second guessing, just giving as need presents itself.  And everyone has different needs, and everyone has different gifts that can fill those spaces, and it’s a whole lot of collaboration without the stress of competition – give, give, give, give, GIVE.  I give, you give, we give.  And in all that giving, the happiness and joy expand and expand and expand.

I want to live in that world.

How?

Kindness toward other. Perseverance in making my small spot in the world a better place.  By being open and giving rather than selfishly squirreling away my energy, time and talent.  Giving even when I feel spent.  And what if other has no interest in my gifts or abilities?  Well, I just keep being kind, keep on persevering, keep being open and ready to give.

I cannot force another person to accept what I have to offer, and maybe what I have to offer isn’t what that person needs, or maybe they’re not at a spot in their lives to accept it.  However, that doesn’t mean that I shut down; rather, it gives me an opportunity to see past the situation and to continue to have the gift ready and available for giving when the need presents itself.

I’m not the end-all be-all, nor am I so presumptuous to assume that my gifts will help everyone whose path crosses with mine.  Instead, it’s about willingness, courage, vulnerability and extension.  Offering to help. And in the offering, bringing my world one step closer to one of collaborative give and take, happiness and joy.

We are each one piece making up a beautiful, diverse, full-of-color puzzle.  We need each other to become the whole – each of us has gifts, each of us has something beautiful to offer, each of us has need.  And each of us – one with the other – have continuous opportunities to come together to make this world a more amazing place.

Praying that, today, each of us finds at least one opportunity to feel good by using one of our gifts to make someone else’s life better.  And in doing so, that each of us receives more happiness, more joy, more wholeness.  Loving the piece of the puzzle YOU are, I pray your day is full of opportunity to give.  Happy day.

15:

Listen to the voice of truth and love today.

The alarm went off early today as I was supposed to travel to southern Minnesota for a show.  Supposed to.

The storms moving through Minnesota today created a dilemma; my concern for “fallen angels” won out and I decided that staying home and working here was a better option than fighting wind and rain, lightening and thunder.  The hard part is the loss of the entry fee and no income today, but I had to trust my inner voice telling me to stay home, forgive myself for making the decision to stay safe and dry, and then love myself for that decision.

Not easy for me.

Making decisions like this one makes me feel like a bit of a quitter, and so I have to work a bit harder on accepting that I’m making a good decision and that I will get some much needed other work done, that I’m not slacking off and that it will be a better outcome in the long run.  I’m making a trade-off.  I have a timeline that was going to be difficult to meet with today’s show, and the decision to stay in town is, in the long run, a good one.

Obviously, I’m still processing this morning’s decision.

The voice of truth and love resounds in all things – in relationship, in interaction, in any and all decisions.  It’s the still, small voice I hear when faced with doing the right thing in a given situation. It’s the still, small voice I hear when I have the urge to speak unkindly.  It’s the still, small voice I hear when I have to discern a situation, apologize and ask for forgiveness, or nudge other with honesty when I’d rather stay quiet.

The Divine has given me the gift of intuition; if I trust and follow that still, small voice I will be fine. Doesn’t mean it will always be easy, but I will be fine – whatever the experience may bring.

And so with that, I resign myself to having a different day than originally anticipated and I will be all right with that, trusting that I have made the right decision for the bigger picture, and that the day will bring forth something better than expected.

Praying for comfort in the decisions that I / you / we make; trusting that we are being led by the voice of truth and love – today and everyday.  Blessings on your day – rain, shine, thunder, lightening or peaceful climes.  Stay safe and stay dry.

12-14:

Hope.

Some nights I wake up and there’s a word or a phrase pushing to the front of my consciousness; last night it was “Hope”.

Hope is the opposite of despair. The idea of hope nudges me to be positive; to think on things with the idea of possibility. I am a generalist when it comes to hope; I find that even in my dreams I prefer the big picture to the minutia. I guess I figure that if I hope in a less-specific way, it allows The Divine to answer my needs in my best interest, rather than my defining what my best interest might be, and then being disappointed that MY plan isn’t what I had thought it should be.

I am a hopeful person. I believe in the power of positive thinking and in releasing doubt and worry. There are only so many things I can do to create change, and in life there is a lot of give and take. I have to be willing to see hope in the give – and answers in the take. Somehow, it works for me.

Thursdays in Rochester have begun again, and I am privileged to meet people from all over the world who are in various stages of hope. If people are not locals on Thursdays, there’s a good chance that they’re in Rochester for appointments at Mayo and definitely not there for vacation. And so we talk. And I learn about hope from the other side of the fence. People waiting for diagnosis. People in treatment. Families waiting to hear the results of tests or results of surgery. Those who have been given diagnosis, options for next steps, and sometimes the tough news that there aren’t any next steps and no cure.

Sometimes the nurses, doctors and technicians come to my tent and we talk, too. Jobs, stress; never anything specific, but there is some time spent renewing hope. Just in the unloading and in the listening.

As I drove home late on Thursday night, I expressed a lot of gratitude in my travel prayers. Gratitude for the people I meet; for their ability to talk about their lives and their situations. Gratitude to see so much hope and answers, even when the answers aren’t a road to a cure. Sometimes people just need answers in order to move to the next square on the chess board.

Yesterday I added onto my prayer wall all the names collected from folks over the last few days. I will collect more tomorrow in Lanesboro. And their names will be added, and I will continue to pray for all of them. I so believe there is hope in prayer. Hope in the realization that I / they / we cannot do “it” alone; that we need some help sometimes, and that crutches are made for a reason – to hold us up. And that is so okay. Crutches are not show of weakness; rather, they give us hope that, at some point, we’ll be walking on our own again in time.

Praying for release from despair. Praying for hearts filled with hope. Praying for me, and for you, and for all of those in our world who are in a place where prayer can offer renewed hope. Blessings on your day – wherever you are, wherever you go – hope renewed, hope restored.

11:

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight.  Proverbs 4:7

“Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!  Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!  Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won’t regret it; never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious.  She’ll garland your life with grace, she’ll festoon your days with beauty.”

Same affirmation, two different versions.  The first seems more of an exhortation – its urgency is very clear: Seek wisdom and then insight! Seems a bit dry, though.  The second feels more abundant to me; the words “glorious” and “garland” and “grace” and “festoon” and “beauty” make this wisdom- and insight-getting feel much more exciting than urgent.  Its allure is in the promise that my life, once wisdom has been attained, will be this fabulous, mind-blowing event.  Sounds pretty good to me.

Gaining wisdom does make life better.  Banging my head on the same door over and over and over again would not only be, but is frustrating (it happens); it’s also such a waste of time and energy.  I’m certain I’ll bang my head again along my way, but at least attempting to learn the lesson the first time around is generally a better way to play the game.  And the nudge to not just stop at wisdom, but also to gain insight, is a pretty good suggestion. It’s the “step 2” of learning and taking it to heart.

When I worked corporate, I always wanted to understand the “why” behind what I was doing.  Why, why, why??  A lot like the 4 year old wanting to know everything about anything!  I know this was frustrating for my bosses, but KNOWING coupled with the WHY usually gave me more motivation to actually DO.  Applying wisdom-insight to all facets of my life shifts me from spinning wheels to making headway and helps to make my life more purposeful and aligned.

Today I pray that I / you / we open eyes wide in search of wisdom – and insight.  That we gain understanding; that we see how things fit together to make the whole; that we gain the blessing of a glorious life, filled with grace and festooned with beauty.  Best of luck in seeking out – and discovering – the “WHY”.

8-10:

I am JOY.

My confession this morning is that I’ve been working on this affirmation for – well, this is my third day.  It’s not always about energy (or the lack of it), and it’s not necessarily about being busy; it seems that when I have something that seems pretty simple, it is often those affirmations that cause me to do the most processing.

Sunday was spent recuperating from three days on the road.  There was joy in savoring the sleep, allowing my aches to dissipate, and giving myself the gift of waking up slowly.  Joy came in the morning.

And then Joy came when my daughter and granddaughters visited.  Just spending the time doing nothing but watching one walk back and forth down the brick path, practicing balance and maneuvering, while the other was content to eat and flirt, her body getting ready to crawl soon.  The Joy of being present in the NOW.

Yesterday morning, I visited a friend in hospice.  She is no longer awake; she sleeps to the sounds of bird song; lots of different birds – even ducks quacking and woodpeckers pecking.  I sat with her for about half an hour; there was a feeling of momentary grief in knowing that soon she will be gone, but also Joy in the belief that she is shifting her balance from an earthly presence to a heavenly one.  And I have been blessed with great Joy in knowing someone with such compassion, kindness and intelligence.

Last evening I met up with a beautiful friend who is so full of life and talent; she is working hard at reclaiming her JOY; working at rekindling her passion; doing those things that she knows are good and pleasing for her.  Taking care, nurturing herself through time spent with friends and on those things she knows are feeding her spirit.  Every time I see her, I am amazed by her talent and her humility – and she is pure joy to me.  She is honest; present in conversation; kind and good and I am so pleased to call her my friend.  She brings ME great JOY.

And so in all of these things, I fed myself JOY these last few days. I have slowed down and taken in and fed MY soul. Grateful for these people who love and who have loved me, for time spent just being together, no agenda.  Grateful, too, to have had quiet opportunity to say goodbye, believing that there is such greater joy just waiting for me / you / us around the bend.

Praying that you find your joy – in watching the sun change its position in the sky, or maybe the play of light upon the lake; however you do it, taking the necessary time to soothe your soul.  In whatever form it may present itself to you, accept your joy and hold on to it.  It’s yours for the savoring.

Blessings on your JOYFUL day . . .

7:

“I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees.”  Anne Lamott

I remember (vaguely) a trip to California when I was about 4. It was the first time I met my mother’s mother, and I remember feeling at odds with the large-breasted woman I didn’t know, but who wanted to hug and hold and kiss me.

Our trip included the redwood forest as well as Disneyland. The nature aspect of trips was easy for my dad, and he preferred any kind of wilderness to the commercialism offered at Disney, even that as it was in the early 60’s.

The redwood forest smells good; like earth and green and peace. And the enormity of the trees are enough to stop even a 4 year old in her tracks. Which is what I think Lamott is getting at. Believing in a higher power doesn’t have to be a philosophical or theological battle of wits – it can be as easy as looking at the beauty of nature that surrounds us, and then saying, “Yes.”

As I sit in my tent in the rain this morning, watching the lightening in the far-off skies, I am grateful to be dry, and in awe of the beauty and power of nature – and of whoever came up with it all.

Blessings on your day – as you peruse the forest.

6:

It doesn’t matter how you pray–with your head bowed in silence, or crying out in grief, or dancing. Pray where you are; at church, in the garage or your car, in the mountains, even the bathroom. Just pray. Anne Lamott

Love that. “Just pray.”  Quit over-thinking; quit making mountains out of molehills; quit trying to make prayer perfect.  Just pray.

I have spent the better part of three years trying to figure out how to pray; where was this affirmation during the midst of my struggle??

God / The Divine / Our Higher Power just wants us to begin the conversation. To be honest. To pour it out. Good and bad. The praise as well as the frustration.  Anger, sadness, deepest grief.  Words that haven’t form; anguish – poured out and laid at the feet of The Divine.

The beauty of God is the power of God. God can take it; loves me where I am, with what I have, with my laundry lists and my transgressions and my failures. With my joys and my successes. God yearns to be in relationship with me; first, how amazing is that and, second, can I say the same?

There have been times in my life where I have been so incredibly angry with God that I could not speak. My heart was hard; I was hurt by life and turmoil and broken marriages and broken promises and death and devastation.  I could not / would not engage.  And that was about the time I was given the gift of Romans 8:26: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”

How grateful I have been to know this verse.  To accept that when I cannot – by any way of my own, no word, no strength – pray, the Spirit intercedes on my behalf.  I am humbled by this gift.

Not a “pass” – just a blessing. That God once again meets me where I am, even at the darkest times when I cannot pray, either through my own desire or by my own volition.  “Pray where you are.”

Praying tonight, after a long day, that I / you / we release those chains tying us down and accept the gift that we can pray where we are – in whatever state of mind we’re in, through whatever trouble befalls us, happy or sad.  And accept that if we cannot form the words, the Spirit intercedes for us, opening the door of our hearts and letting out what’s there, placing our everything at God’s loving and accepting feet.  Gratefully, I say, “Amen.”

5:

You are in charge of your life today!  You have been given all of the faith, and all of the courage to be present and aware and to do what needs to be done.

It’s just after 6PM and it’s my first outdoor show of the year. And it’s raining. And there’s another storm cell closing in behind this one, and we are being asked to sit tight and the show staff will let us know if we will close early.

Times like these make me nervous, and to have pulled this affirmation seems a bit ironic, but maybe the purpose is to serve as a reminder that I will be fine, stuff is only stuff, and if I need to do something extraordinary, I am reassured that I have what I need to get the job done.

Okay, God. I will trust that that’s true.

Some days, the “doing what needs to be done” is simply to trust. To believe that those eagle wings are holding me up even though they’re invisible to me. That something – or some One – is guiding my steps, and all I need do is be present, aware, and do.

So I will watch the sky, batten down my hatches (as that may be), and be prepared. All will be well. That’s the promise.

Praying that wherever you are, and whatever your circumstances, you feel safe and secure. And if not, that you have the presence of mind to remember that you – as well as I – have all we need to get us through.

Breathe in – breathe out. Blessings on your journey today, whatever the weather.

4:

“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.” Anne Lamott

This is the third affirmation I’ve tried to write on today; I decided I’d better have some dinner and try it again.

Some days are like that.  Self-reflection is a long and difficult road, and rather than attempt to skate, sometimes I have to be gentle with me and tell myself that it’s okay – I can scrap it and try another, with the hopes that the right words and the right sentiment present themselves.

In today’s affirmation, I think that Lamott is suggesting some practicality to the enlightenment trip.  I also think that, way too often, I take myself too seriously, and make things much harder than they need be, and that I need to remember that some days it’s okay to take one step forward and two steps back; that I can gently allow myself a break for rest and relaxation; that the road to enlightenment isn’t the Indy 500, and that the trip is supposed to be one where I learn and remember the lessons.  If I don’t take a break for the practical (or fun) once in a while, the trip won’t be as enjoyable.  Maybe that’s what the ‘Happy Buddha’ is trying to show with his contagious smile and big, happy belly.

When I worked corporate, there were days when the stress just about broke me.  A walk around the building or down to the river or simply some time standing outside in the sunshine refreshed me and allowed me to de-stress enough to return to the task at hand.  The tools for de-stressing on the road to enlightenment just might be trail mix and a People Magazine.

Tonight I will pray that I / you / we settle down and settle in.  That we might find that we want to strive for enlightenment, and that we might accept that we can have some fun along the way.  Simple pleasures are just that – simple.  Here’s to traveling light – and to dipping your big toe in the pool just before you dive in.  Peace and joy to you tonight – and sweet chocolate dreams . . .

3:

“No two trips are ever alike.  One must look or that moment is gone to posterity.” Michael Petersen

Michael and I met at a show in Wisconsin about a year ago and became instant friends.  He’s an artist who makes his living in the printing business in Des Moines. He’s smart; he always seems to have a take on things that teaches me something and I enjoy our emails and conversations.  And he is both a kind and compassionate person, made clear in our first conversation.  It was truly a “God thing”.

Michael sent me an email today  in which he ruminated on his trips between WI and IA, and had included this observation (which I’m now using as an affirmation) in a paragraph about driving and being present. A great reminder to live in the NOW.

Sometimes when I’m driving I will take out my phone and snap a photo of the road ahead of me or the landscape surrounding me, whizzing by at 70mph.  It’s never as beautiful as the “real” view, but I feel like I have to capture it – and as many times as I might take the same road, the view is always different – ever changing.  The time of day might be different, or the vantage point – traveling one way east to west, returning west to east.  It’s still the same road, but it LOOKS different.  The crops change in height – traveling at the beginning of summer and then returning for the same trip in the fall, my view changes from green to gold.

Living presently.  Knowing that, no matter how many times you walk down the same hallway, there will be different people present, or the time of day creating changing light is different, or I am in a different state of mind.  Knowing that, no matter how many times I go to the same place, the way there is always changing, the people change and I’ve changed – I’ve grown, I’ve wizened, I’ve opened myself up to a new way of thinking.

And how wonderful to know that, no matter how many times I take the same road and accept all the differences, there is a constant.  The Divine guides my way, keeps me safe, holds me close.  So the message is that, even though it’s the same road and the trips are never alike, our travel is blessed by The Divine.  And for that, my friends, I am grateful.

As the busyness of summer shows begins, I’ve been really anxious this week.  Reading Michael’s affirmation calms me; it makes me feel like this summer will be another adventure. I need to be present each and every day. For that reminder, I am grateful.

Praying that your travels will be full of new vantage points, even if you are traveling the same road.  Please – live in the moment; appreciate the view you’re given – see with new eyes.  Blessings, blessings, every one . . .

2:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.  Plato

There is some discussion on the “Plato” Facebook page as to whether or not Plato actually said this, and further discussion on what it means within the context of Greek philosophy.  I am not Greek, nor am I a philosopher; I do have an opinion, however. (Surprised?)

I know that things aren’t always what they seem. I know that, much of the time, people hold themselves together for sake of something – kids, spouse, parents, other people’s opinions, etc. – and that the unseen internal battle is often where the real fight is taking place.  I hear it a lot.  Stories of anguish, frustration, sadness, worry, anger, disappointment.  I’d love to have the power to fix things, but that’s not my job – it’s theirs.  And just like healing is not curing, sometimes fixing doesn’t mean there isn’t a crack where the glue is holding.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.

Taking my focus off of self and placing it kindly on other helps.  Looking with eyes of compassion and selfless love helps.  Making a difference by listening; by taking time; by giving of self and helping as I might be called helps.  The smallest things can often make the biggest difference in a life; the smallest thing might end up being a nudge to seek change, to keep moving forward, to keep up and keep on. It just might help.

Praying today that when the opportunity arises for kindness, I / you / we will see it as such, remembering to be loving and listening.  Giving as we are able, as opportunities present themselves.  Sending out ripples of love and compassion and kindness, for everyone we meet may be fighting a harder battle.  Peace and love and kindness from me to you.

1:

Don’t lose today by worrying about tomorrow.

Talk about living in the moment – and trusting.  Tough to do – a lot of days – but not impossible.

Most of the time I worry about things that never happen.  It’s like going through a checklist of what-ifs; a lot of what-ifs and rarely does one of them occur.  Why, then, do I insist on putting myself through all the bother?

One of my favorite affirmations is, “If you worry, why pray? And if you pray, why worry?”  It’s a reminder to turn things over to God; the hard thing about it is not taking those things back, ruminating over them, and placing myself back into the corner out of which I was trying to pray.  I’m not saying that being prepared isn’t a good idea – it is!  What I am saying, however, is that placing so much energy into a 90% chance of nothing is a waste of energy.  Therefore, plan for the worst, hope for the best.

In case you’re counting, yes – that’s three adages – all related, all encouraging me to quit worrying.  All three different ways to hear the same message.

Training self to stay positive, to turn things over, and then to trust that they will be fine, is a daily walk.  Sometimes it’s a minute-by-minute walk.  There is a lot of life happening out there, and so many things are possible.  But that’s it, isn’t it? So many things are POSSIBLE.  The good as well as bad.

Thinking positively today, I know I will be fine.  Things sometimes are heading south and almost get to the pole, but that’s living on the edge and that’s my life as it currently stands.  It’s the thinking positive part that keeps me uplifted and pushing forward and doing my job.  Every single day.

Today I will pray that we loosen those chains that are holding us in a place of concern and worry.  That we will trust our walk, that we will see that we are being cared for and held.  And that our day will be as sunny as it can be, with only a 10% chance of rain.  Blessings on your day, and don’t forget your umbrella – just so you’re properly prepared.

May:

31:

One who admits no guilt can accept no forgiveness.

This affirmation calls me out of stubbornness, denial, haughtiness, elitism, self-righteousness or blindness to remember that I’m not always right; that I have caused pain to other, that I have created chasm between self and friend, that I have hurt other – maybe by intention or maybe through a carelessness. And it calls me to search out where I’ve failed, take accountability, and to make amends.

It calls me to stay in right relationship. To think less about me and more about other.  Sometimes all of this is hard. Sometimes I want to keep my heels dug-in, not admitting my fault, not taking on guilt that is rightfully mine.

Especially when I’VE been wronged!  It’s in those situations that I want the other person to carry ALL the guilt.  And what irony when other admits no guilt, and so can accept no forgiveness from me!

Admitting guilt opens up space for forgiveness.  Either from other or from The Divine.  And where there is a repentant heart, The Divine willingly, lovingly and compassionately forgives.

What about me?  Do I do that?

Praying that tonight, before my head hits the pillow, I will seek and find in my heart those things that I’ve done or failed to do that have hurt other.  I will accept accountability for what presents itself and, where possible, will make a plan to ask other for forgiveness.  If not possible, I will ask The Divine – and in my repentance, I know there will be forgiveness.

Praying the same for you.  And praying for the joy of renewed relationship with other – and The Divine.  Blessings all, wherever you may be, wherever you rest your weary heads.

30:

You can fly if you think happy thoughts.  Peter Pan and Wendy already proved it.

I have noticed that in those moments when I am happiest, I actually feel lighter than air.

Maybe that’s what this whole Peter Pan and Wendy business is about.  The idea of happiness and light, perfect alignment between me and the universe; everything going my way . . .

What if things AREN’T happy?  How do I get TO happy when things AREN’T happy?

Choice.

Sound trite or too simple? I say it’s not.  Choosing to look at life and find things for which to be grateful is a great place to start.  I’m not talking Pollyanna; I’m talking about quitting with the self-absorption and self-pity and shifting to a place of gratitude. When that happens, I feel lighter.  I can breathe.  I feel better.  I feel happy.

When things are hard or I’m humbled or I’ve just learned another tough life lesson, I need to find my gratitude. Whatever my situation and however dire it may seem I need to find my gratitude.

I have had several miracles this week. Serious miracles. Divine intervention. A break here, a sale there; suddenly things were looking a whole lot better at the end of the week than they looked at the start.  And I stopped, focused, and found my gratitude.  Felt lighter than air. Could breathe. And I could almost fly.

Praying that, if in a mess, we can step back and look under the rock to find the earthworm loosening the soil to help something grow. Finding gratitude, even in earthworms.  Finding happiness. Thinking happy thoughts.  Fearlessly flying.

Here’s to big wings.

29:

“Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.” Hermann Hesse

Home is WITHIN me; that being the case, what is “coming home”?  What creates “home”?

As a little kid, our house was very tiny.  It had been built by my father and grandfather and stood on a corner in North Mankato.  It was a place that I remember as warm in winter, cool in summer, with an attic full of wonderful and mysterious things and a basement where my brothers slept and where I learned how to roller-skate. Home was safe; it was a place where I could be happy for hours.  I was a little person there, and that teeny tiny home, with my brothers and parents, most always made me feel warm, wanted and secure.

I left home for the first time when I was eight.

Home changed when we moved to North Dakota.  Not just the house, but our family changed. My brothers left for prep school and I was alone with my parents for the first time.  I grew my values in North Dakota; I learned about friendship, being vulnerable, the difference between right and wrong, the right way to treat another person.  North Dakota, with its rolling hills and fields of beautiful golden wheat was home.

And then at fifteen, I left home for a second time.

Back to Minnesota, it was here that I came of age. I made friendships that have lasted my lifetime; I became a Christian; I married, Mothered. Divorced. Grieved children. Grieved and buried father, brother, mother. At some point, I came to the realization that home – the one here – is subject to change and change and change.  Home includes security, but must also include love, respect and mutual consideration. I came to understand that home loses its beauty, warmth and good feeling when love, respect and consideration become lost.

At 51, I was alone for the first time in my life – no roommates, no husbands, no child.  I had time to learn about me.  I made my own space and place, and it felt good. I opened myself up to who I might be without the structure I’d placed on self for 35 years, and I came away (finally) with the realization that, if God lives within me, then so does home. No matter the place.  And there is my security – constant, unchanging, always yearning – regardless the changes I make.

Coming home – truly home – has taken me a while. I’m grateful for the continuing journey; grateful that home is a place of fullness here, with anticipation for greater things to come when I cross the veil.

Praying that you are “home” – and, if not, that you see fit to seize the opportunity to find the security and love that is waiting for you.  Blessings and peace.

28:

Be open to all of who you are.  As you bring attention to all of you – without judgment – you will grow in wisdom and freedom.

If I can step back and look at self without judgment, I am allowed to fully see who and what I am; what I’ve done that’s been good and true, and how I’ve fallen short.  Once fully seen, and accepted that that is where I am, I can choose to move toward changing those things needing some “tweaking’.  Growth can occur and be embraced.

Judging at first glance and with impatience, I shut myself off to looking fully within.  I stop at the first thing that either pleases or displeases and concentrate only on that.  Instead, if I search – eyes wide open, non-judgmentally and with discernment – I can accept each part of me that makes up the whole.  Accepting each piece as it is at that moment, both the good and the bad, I can evolve – move toward change to a better self – and with that comes growth in wisdom (because I am gaining understanding of me) and freedom; freedom from those things that have weighed me down, or those that are not aligned with the person I want to be.  I can “shed” the junk that’s not optimal.

Wisdom is defined as “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”  Knowing; understanding; having just judgment. Being fair to myself.

This is a meaty affirmation; I’m afraid I’ve not done it justice.  As I think further on it, I will hope for more clarity as to all that it suggests and promises.

In the meantime, I will be praying that I / you / we can be “eyes wide open” -seeing ourselves fully.  And in seeing, accepting ourselves for who and what we are, and then moving toward change.  And changing because it’s in our best interest.

Blessings as we pay attention – and discern – and grow.

27:

There is something about the night sky ablaze with stars that can stimulate thoughts of God in even the most agnostic of hearts.

Aren’t the night skies a wonder?  The last few nights I’ve been outside around 3AM with Leonard working on potty training.  It’s given me the opportunity to see the night sky; I’ve been blessed to have a refresher course on the beauty of the stars.

The stars are a nudge.  A nudge to look beyond the science to the possibility that there is something more to this universe.  Genesis 1:16 declares, “He made the stars.”  “He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns deep darkness into dawn and darkens the day into night; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them over the face of the earth – the Lord is His name.”  (Amos 5:8)

Doubt and curiosity and wonder are a good thing because they offer opportunity to learn.  I cannot deepen my beliefs without exploring them; I need to ponder them and search out answers that quiet my heart.  Like a “doubting Thomas”, some things I need to see with my own eyes in order to believe.  However, some things I have to trust because of science’s proof.

I don’t know that gravity necessarily stimulates my heart to ponder whether or not there is a God, but the sky, shining with stars, does give a nudge.  The beauty of the night, the wonder of space and the immensity of it – don’t these push just a bit?

In my world, they do.  I cannot help but examine nature to be amazed at the Maker.  I consider my granddaughters and how their bodies and minds work, and I am amazed.  I look at the efficiency of nature and just have to believe that something bigger than me had a hand in all this business.

Landscape and skyscape. The beauty of nature and the everyday unfolding of the plants; the wonder of things small and big – from ants to the force of the wind.  All things purposeful, all things amazing if I take a minute to ponder them and examine them.

Today, as the sun is rising in the morning sky, I pray that I / you / we see the wonder of the stars and have the courage to think on them, opening a door to the possibility that there IS something and someone bigger than us out there – that the Lord is His name.  Blessings on our courage and our thoughts today.

26:

Give God the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

This was just the affirmation I was supposed to find today.  I have been anxious for the last couple of days – a lot of thinking about my upcoming summer schedule, getting applications in on time, concern about just enough money to make everything work, and hoping that people will listen to my story, understand what I do, and spread some angel love.

Giving God the benefit of my belief seems a bit different than trusting.  If trusting is taking a leap of faith, it seems to me that giving the benefit of my belief is first acknowledging that I “know,” and then accepting the knowing.  Does that somehow make sense?

Good Lord!  Even writing about this makes me anxious!

When my daughter was going through confirmation, she was offered several different Bible verses to pick from.  She didn’t feel that any of them resonated with how she was feeling, and so she struggled to make a decision.  At the eleventh hour she found the verse she was being led to: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . .” (Jeremiah 1:5a)

Reading that verse – and believing that it also applies to ME – how can I NOT give God the benefit of believing that His hand is leading me?

Sometimes these affirmations play one atop the next.  Yesterday’s affirmation (on shifting stress and filling up with love and joy and peace) interlaces perfectly with today’s acceptance of anxiety and the insecurity of feeling in suspense.  I love how that works!

But it’s supposed to work that way.  God continues to push me to learn, continues to push me to trust, and continues to nudge me into giving Him/Her the benefit of believing.

Praying that I / you / we can suspend our disbelief and doubt and, in doing so, KNOW that we ARE being led.  Whatever anxieties we carry, I pray that we can allow them to wash over us, then bask in the beauty of not knowing the exact destination, but trusting that we’ll end up exactly at the place that was meant for us.  Blessings on your travel.

25:

Take the time to let your stress go today; be filled with love and joy and peace.  Be aware of these feelings throughout the day and share them with others.

This affirmation takes me through a four-step process shifting from feelings of stress to those of love, joy and peace.  It calls me to: 1) let go of the stress, 2) be filled with love, joy and peace, 3) be aware of the shift from negative to positive, and 4) share the positive!

Always in process, “today” is everyday; in other words, I should take this affirmation to heart 365 days a year.  I should strive to release my stress and make room for the good things – those things that fill me with love and joy and peace – and then take my walk one step further by sharing that love, joy and peace with other.

I can list numerous instances where others have touched me with their love, joy and peace.  I know how I’ve felt as their love, joy and peace have overflowed onto and into me, and I know how I’ve felt after the experience.  And in the knowing lay gratitude – gratitude that another person has not only touched me, but also changed me, loved me, and left me better off than when we met.

I pray that I / you / we can take some time today to be good to self.  Give ourselves the gift of respite, of deep breathing, of letting go of the stress we hold in our bodies from heads to toes, and to consciously make room for love and joy and peace.  And then feel the joy as we pass them along to the next person we meet, sharing and multiplying and rippling out – from one to the next to the next to the next.

Love, joy and peace be with you today, as you shift – and share.

24:

Moments that come from love cannot be measured – they are priceless.  Go out and love.

This just makes me smile!

Just the phrase, “Moments that come from love . . . ” – how beautiful.  Where there is intention and love – real, caring, compassionate, whole, full, selfless love – how can things be anything other than right and good and true?

This affirmation is about living in the moment and sharing my love with other.  Not keeping it to myself, but instead choosing to be daring, sharing – stepping out and being vulnerable.  With family and friends, yes, but also with neighbors, strangers and  through service to others.

And how can I serve?  How do I love people I don’t know?

Well . . .  in order to find the answer to those questions, I have to ask myself a few more: What’s within my skill set to do?  Where is my passion?  What, in doing, makes me smile? What do I have time for? Where is the place that I can serve others that will feed my soul at the same time?

Sometimes I think I come at the “how can I serve” question over-thinking the answer.  I think tackling some huge project is the answer, and then I’m overwhelmed.  Sometimes I bite off way more than I can chew.  Sometimes it’s way easier than I think, and often times it’s in smaller steps or even right around the corner.

Moments that come from love are the ones that make me feel really good inside. They’re the ones that I walk away from the experience knowing I “done good.”  They’re the ones where I might have changed someone’s life by doing something really simple.

So I say today, “Love easy.”  Try to follow those two simple – yet sometimes challenging – commandments:  Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence – and then go out and love others as well as you love yourself.

Praying that I / you / we find those opportunities where love is needed, do those things that give love to other, and then walk away with that lingering smile that comes from doing something that’s, well, priceless.  Godspeed.

23:

Don’t feel rushed!  Pause; take the time to ask for guidance and calm.  Let go of stress and tension.  Release fear and doubt. Trust your instincts – they will guide you.

This affirmation forgot one thing – take a deep breath!

It’s been almost 15 years since I’ve had a pup, and this morning was a busy one.  Getting coffee ready, smoothie made and all with a crying puppy wanting some breakfast – suggesting that he be patient isn’t necessarily advice well-received – by him, anyway.

Looking at the bigger picture, what does rushing about do?  For me, it increases tension, I inevitably leave something behind, and I get stressed out.  No good, no fun, no fruit.

Asking God for guidance and calm help set the tone for the day (or night). Often times, fear is the impetus to rush.  Today’s affirmation reminds me to release my fears and my doubts, and to trust that God has given me the Spirit to nudge me in the right direction – gratefully I push forward.

Sometimes anxieties seem stronger than trust.  But calling on the Divine to hold me up and help me move forward (without rushing(!!) is as simple as calling out, “Help!”  My needs are already known and I just need to ask for a little bit of assistance with my rudder.

Today as I move about my day with Leonard, I will ask for guidance and calm.  Taking today’s message to heart and trusting my instincts, I pray that I / you / we face the day with excitement and confidence, knowing there is something out there way bigger than we, guiding us, calming us, and placing a strong hand next to mine on the rudder, aiding in keeping true course.  Blessings on your day today, and grace in your heart!

22:

Let your life flow with love and joy!

Today was an awesome day, filled to the brim with love and joy!  I met some of my cousins for breakfast – we had wonderful, full conversation with laughter and even a few tears.  I am so grateful to have so many relatives that I can call friends!  Being related, we have instant commonality – which lends itself to meatier conversation – our kids and grandkids, our challenges and our joys.

I got into my clay today, too.  Four slabs called my name and lots of angels came forth – big and small, and even a few Guardians.  It was a good, solid day of work.  I needed to catch up and things came easy; it felt like peace and love were flowing from my fingertips – which both were.  I’m grateful for days like this.

Finally, a road trip to Mora.  It’s amazing to me (although it shouldn’t be) that things sometimes come together so incredibly well-weaved. How can I ever second guess Who might be behind the orchestration?  After having a chat with the Great Spirits above (and a send up to OsKar), we asked for some discernment on a trade for a pup.  It felt like it might be a bit early, but then all the weaving started, and before you know it, love and joy came home with us.

He’s not named yet, but we feel like we were led to him, and we already believe that he’s going to be an amazing studio dog, companion and friend.  Although my heart hurts a bit for missing OsKar, it’s a bittersweet hurt; this pup will have to earn his keep and we hope he will somehow be lead to follow in OsKar’s pawsteps.

So after a very full day, I send blessings to you.  I pray that your life flowed today with love and joy, and that you are happy and satisfied with where things are at.  And I also pray that, if not, tomorrow will lend itself to happiness.  With much love and peace to you this night, and with gratitude in my heart.

21:

Drop your defenses like a heavy jacket on a hot summer’s day.

Yesterday I spent the morning at a workshop on “midwifing death.”  It was about “midwifing” other through the dying process.  In a word, it was “amazing.”

Today’s affirmation came from one of the Spiritual Directors; we were having a discussion on how we hold all various defenses in order to protect ourselves, and that if we drop them, we can truly experience grace with open hearts.

What a wonderful visual.

I actively protect my heart from hurt.  There are events from my past that I’d rather not drudge up and work through, because it’s just that: WORK.  And not just work, but HARD work.  The events and my part in them, whether active or passive, are difficult to look at and dissect, moving toward forgiveness of self and forgiveness of other.  However, I cannot fully move from a place of darkness to a place of light without putting myself through the work.  Today’s affirmation is a nudge that it’s time to get at it.

To move from a place of wanting things and placing value on achievements to a place where all I want to do is be of service, I have to stop stuffing the ugliness and face it head-on.  The five stages of grief or of dying are the same for facing tough past life experiences and cleansing self of hurt.  Denial, anger / fear, bargaining, depression and resolution / acceptance.  I have to re-feel where I was hurt (i.e., where my needs were not met in the past), have compassion for myself and love myself in the process of working through the hurt, in order to transform.

I have to drop my defenses like a heavy jacket on a hot summer’s day.

Dying to the old junk I carry around allows me to be born into something new, bigger and better.  And I must have a “heart wide broken open with loving compassion for self.”  I guess that all means I have to want to change, seek out the change, do the work and be transformed in the process, loving myself through all of it.

Can I do it? I believe I have to.  In order for me to be fully of service to another, I have to have done the work to be the best me I can be.  I know I have a lot of things to face, and through Grace and Love, I will.  Not overnight, this will be a process that will take some time.

In it for the long haul, I pray that I / you / we look within and find those places inside that need gentle loving coaxing in order to come to light. That once revealed, we relax our defenses and heal ourselves with God’s Grace.  Praying for strength, perseverance and forgiveness for each and every one of us, as we travel towards becoming the newer, bigger and better version of who we are now.  Blessings on our journey.

20:

The less you expect, the less you judge . . . take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and proceed.

I’ve been working on Susan Stabile’s book “Growing in Love & Wisdom” – it’s a book on Tibetan Buddhist sources for Christian meditation. Stabile grew up Roman Catholic, moved east (way east) and became a Buddhist nun.  After 25 years, she returned to the US and to Catholicism.  I heard her speak at a workshop a few months ago, and found the concept of merging practices from the two faiths curious enough that I bought her book.

One of the meditations is to think on three people – one that I have positive and loving feelings for, one that I have been hurt by and don’t like, and one I don’t know (like someone I’ve seen on the bus or walk by my house, but I’ve never met) – explore feelings toward each, along with the why’s for the feelings, and then to come to a place where I understand that I am each of these  to someone else.  Once that is understood, I can look at each in a different way, realizing that my experience with them is different than someone else’s experience, and that my experience does not make them wholly who or what I perceive them to be.

It’s about judging; about neutralizing the judgment and moving on from there, which is exactly what today’s affirmation is about – taking all experience as merely steps along the path.

Thinking neutrally about someone with whom I have had experience is new to me. And coming to the realization – or admitting – that I may be the person who hurt someone, and for whom they have negative feelings, is hard for me.  My mission is not to cause harm of any kind; on the contrary, my mission is to be compassionate and loving; it seems, however, that on occasion, I may have missed my mark.  Entirely.

I can apologize for those things I’ve done that have hurt other.  And then to take it one step further for myself, I need to look at my own expectations of self as well as other, and take the experiences – all the experiences and consequences – as simply moments in time, not placing a good or bad on them, but rather the label of “learning”.

I need to practice this meditation; I also need to trust that all experiences are steps leading to a higher consciousness – a more sacred place.  Grateful to learn, I will keep plodding along.

Praying that I / you / we judge less, open ourselves up to each and every experience, and learn what we can – and then keep moving along the path.  Healing and Harmony and Peace to you and yours this day.

18 – 19:

When your conscious mind wants to give up, reach for that healthy, loving part deep within yourself and with the help of prayer and meditation and the good people in your life, you will find a rainbow.

This is a double-day affirmation, and what a double-day affirmation it is!  A gentle reminder that there are, within us, those things we need to keep on moving on, provided we do a little bit of practicing, remembering, and acknowledging.

Finding rainbows – looking at a half-full cup, seeing light at the end of the tunnel, thinking positive. They all tie-in together, not necessarily in a neat bow, but certainly crossing over, weaving together and moving us in the right direction: toward gratitude.

Yesterday, after everyone had left our home after a two-day art show event, I was very emotional.  I had been worried that no one would come and that all my amazing and wonderful artist friends would be disappointed and, from there, that my ties with some terrific people would be broken.  I should have read my “over-thinking” affirmation again from the other day, but no time – a reminder that I need to continue my prayer and meditation!  The two days were full of ebb and flow, with lots of neighborhood people as well as some folks from the outskirts of the city, and I think things ended up going pretty well for everyone – which was about when the waterworks started.

And so, with tears of gratitude, I cried, and cried some more.  Love overflowing. Thanks for those that believe in me enough to hitch their wagon to mine, and thanks for those that find their way here – to converse, to learn, to see, to experience.  And today, I’m grateful that we had two amazing weather days, because it’s been pouring all day and I know the rainbow I’m supposed to be looking for will be showing up pretty soon.

I’ve got good people in my life. Yes – you.  Each and every one of you. And I’ve got rainbows around the corner, and a lot of love, and some prayer and meditation that needs to be done.  So with that, I pray that I / you / we find the rainbow, and that we have a think on the people surrounding us that love us and care for us and who make our journey a lot better with them than without.  Blessings on your thinking . . .  and reaching . . .. and continuing on.

17:

Believe.

This is actually yesterday’s affirmation, which I had planned to write last night, but sleepiness took over and well, here I am, 3:30 in the morning, awakened with “Believe” running through my mind.

Stepping out in faith takes a lot of believing.  I have to believe that I’m being led by the Spirit; that I’m following the path chosen for me, that all things have led me to this place, this time, this doing.  I have to shed my doubt and my vulnerability, and I have to consciously step forward, trusting that the Divine really is holding me up and has my back.

And I believe.

Every single event, every person, every lesson is brought to me in order to teach me something that will be of use to me further down my road.  In all of that, I know that there is something working in my life that is so much bigger than me. Like that potter who shapes and moves and pushes the clay to make a bowl or mug or vase, the Divine shapes, moves and pushes me to continue learning. To continue to be open to seeing what’s in front of me. To continue to believe.

I look at the doors, windows and cracks that have opened for me, and I am grateful. Not by my own doing, all has been done through grace. The muck, the mire, the wonder.  And convinced that it’s all done for my greater good, in order for me to do greater good, I believe.

Some days, these steps are hard to take. Trust is hard to hold onto. Belief is a bit tenuous.  However, if I let go of fear and let God lead me, trusting the instinct I’ve been given, praying for the answers to appear – it all works.  It’s not magic, it’s the mystery of faith and belief.

Now that I’ve written, the niggling will stop – for a while. Time to pray, and rest for a while more, believing that tomorrow will be another amazing gift, no matter the form of the gift – muck, mire or wonder.  I pray that I / you / we will gain rest, that we will have eyes wide open to see the wonder when we awaken in the morning.  Blessings, blessings, all around.

16:

Stop over-thinking things.  Just be.

My mind can go a million miles an hour, thinking about what might be, what might not be, what might happen, who might be affected – and that’s just the tip of the “might” iceberg.

What does all this over-thinking really do?  It creates stress from scenarios steeped in delusion, not based in reality, and over which I have absolutely no control.  Over-thinking produces worry, which promotes fear, which paralyzes. And once paralyzed, I cannot think at all, so what has all this over-thinking done?

Stifled me, created anxiety, stress and fear.  Not good for a creative soul.

Proverbs 3:21-26 suggests that we  ” . . . guard clear thinking and common sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, because God will be right there with you; He’ll keep you safe and sound.”

So I guess that what I CAN do is trust the problem-solving skills I’ve been given and tackle things thoughtfully, one step at a time. I will remain calm and cool, will take deep breaths and  thoughtfully articulate steps toward resolution.  I will “just be”.  That all sounds so much simpler than running like a hamster on a wheel, doesn’t it?

As I prepare for a busy weekend, I pray that I will listen intently, remain calm and clear-headed, use the problem-solving skills I’ve been given, act with kindness and with the intention that each encounter will be a win-win for everyone.  And I’ll pray the same for you.  Peace, calm, clarity and common sense.   Amen, amen, amen!

15:

Miracles happen when we sit still and look within.  Let those miracles be there for you today.

This affirmation maybe should have been about procrastination; or maybe just lazily allowing the day to unfold; or maybe I needed to finally sit still and look within and discern today’s miracles.  Either way, here I am, evening time, finally putting thoughts to “paper” and writing.

Today was kind of a miracle day of sorts.  Not feeling well, I put myself back to bed and slept until 7 (taking care of me).  I savored my wakening and allowed the noise of the school playground to fully wake me up.  There aren’t too many sounds much better than that of kids playing and laughing; the sound of morning joy.  It’s one of the perks of living across the street from a grade school. Bell sounds at 7:50AM and the quiet takes over.  Love it.  The miracle of joyful noise gone quiet.

Comfort is a miracle, too – or can be if I allow myself to think that.  I took comfort in a creamy cup of coffee, sat quietly and looked out my window at the hurry of people heading downtown on bikes and in cars – time for them to get to work. I had the miracle of a bit of  time; it allowed me to be comfortable and slowly work myself into the day.

Neighbors are miracles, too.  Today I had enough time to cut hair for the “girls” across the street.  At 78 they both have trust in my abilities to cut their hair, although I haven’t the least bit of talent for it nor the slightest idea why they’ve placed their trust in me.  But there’s miracle in that, too.  The miracle of  trust that I won’t shave them silly, and the miracle of gratitude in the cutting, the time, the chatter and the attention.

Company can be a miracle.  I had two lovely visits from customers who’ve now shifted to friends. A little talk, a little help, and the day was once again my own as I got done what needed to be done, and made my way to the kiln to drop off my latest load of angels.

Life is a miracle. The breathing, the coming and going; the interaction or the quiet. The shift from brown grass to green, the budding of the plants and the sun in the sky.  Please tell me that you see all the miracles, too . . . ?

Praying tonight that slumber comes easily, and that I / you / we wake up to another miracle of a day tomorrow. Blessings on your evening, and on all the miracles that surrounded you today, and those that are waiting for you tomorrow.

14:

Spread your arms, hold your breath, and always trust your cape. That’s called a leap of faith.

Taking plunges and trusting that I am being held up by something bigger than myself – called to trust, called to pursue, called to follow the instinct that’s been given to me – is a very difficult road.  There isn’t a booming voice from heaven telling me what to do.  Rather, it seems the voice is within, pushing me to continue, nudging me to keep moving along, clearly – through the feeling in my gut – showing me the way.  For sure?  What’s the difference between a leap of faith and going off on my own tangent?

When I first lost my corporate job and felt that I was being led to this angel-making business full-time, I waffled.  I wasn’t completely trusting that the message to pursue ministry as a career might be from the Divine; I thought that maybe I was wishfully thinking I was being led to what I thought might be the romantic lifestyle of an artist.  So, NOT following direction, I went on a few interviews and quickly found that, if I trusted the way my gut was feeling, I had no place any longer in a corporate setting. Hit the road, Jack.

This road has been hard, but not impossible. It’s been challenging, but not completely overwhelming.  And when I’m tired and worn-down, and I begin to feel myself unraveling, I doubt. And then I am called to rest, called to quiet my mind, and called to trust my cape.  And I go out and continue to work in the studio, continue to go to shows, continue to listen to those that cross my path, and continue to share who I am, what I’m about, and the message that God is there, is constant (whether we acknowledge or not), and we’ve been given a promise – that we are LOVED.

In the last five years, my whole life has turned upside-down.  Well, maybe the truth is that it’s finally turned right-side-up.  Either way, the road I’ve been traveling, with it’s rest stops and detours, has been the road that’s led me to where I am, which is a place of peace, a place of love, and a place where I feel I’ve been led to make a small difference on this side of the veil.

The lifestyle I lead – 40 – 50 shows a year, on-the-road, dusty, dirty and sweaty – isn’t for everyone. I wouldn’t have ever thought it was for me, either, but the irony is that I’ve never felt more myself, more happy, more on the right track.  And although I may not have the material comforts of my past, I have much more – the peace and comfort of knowing I’m living my purpose.

Today I pray that I / you / we listen to the small, still voice within. That we trust our capes. That we believe in the talent and the purpose we’ve been given, and that we follow that path.  Yes, it can be hard. Yes, there can be doubt. However, there is peace, comfort and strength in knowing that we’re walking the walk.

Take good care of your feet – the road can sometimes be tricky, but the reward is in all the amazing scenery and people we experience.  Blessings on your travel.

13:

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” Dalai Lama XIV

The smallest thing can make a world of difference.

Doing good.  Easy to do and easy to find, it just takes open eyes, sincerity, presence, and full attention.  A few minutes of sincere and meaty conversation.  A compliment that turns the world  from upside-down to right-side-up.

The smallest thing can make a world of difference.

Creating impact.  Being a small cog in a bigger wheel, I can create impact by simply doing what I’m supposed to do.  Following my purpose. Trusting my instincts.

The smallest thing can make a world of difference.

I do not know what burdens another has, nor do I know what worry or concern they carry in their heart. But I can offer to listen and I can offer my time. I can be honest.  I can help other see things from a different perspective. I can offer comfort through a cup of tea, a glass of water, an easy chair. A few minutes of listening can change outlooks, opinions, lives.

The smallest thing can make a world of difference.

Praying today to have an open heart and open mind; to offer help where I see need or when called; to be present in the moment. To care for myself in all of that, so that I can continue to go, seek, do. Praying the same for you today.  Crossing paths, building relationships, uplifting other and knowing we’re all in this together.  Peace and light on our journey.

10 – 12:

The important thing about the stars is not the naming, but the noticing.  Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Today’s reflection is a combination of three gratitudes – three days’ reflections in one sitting.  The last few days have brought gratitude home to me in a way that I’ve not experienced before.

I have been thinking on how to convey my thoughts and feelings; to really get them out, noticing the wonderful things that have happened of late – big and small things; not to name them, but to fully notice and appreciate, and in the appreciating, give thanks.

And to share – but I can’t find the words.

And I’m sorry for that. You will just have to trust me that God is good, and amazing, and loving, and that God answers prayer. Even when you don’t have the words.  And God places us in situations or holds out opportunities for us to do good things.  And every so often, God allows good things to come to us.  And sometimes, those blessings are so incredibly overwhelmingly good that words are just not right. They do not fit.

Words turn to tears.

And after trying and trying and trying for three days to express myself, I simply cannot.  I touch and am touched. I give and in giving, I am blessed to receive. And to be a part of all of it is humbling and amazing and beautiful; and I cannot do anything, really, except weep, because the beauty is overwhelming.

So rather than try and write, I am forgiving myself for not being able to find words, and instead, I am praying.

Praying for those who are seeking healing.

Praying for those who are hurting.

Praying for those who are reunited with their loved ones.

Praying for those who are in the midst of great loss.

Praying for those who ache.

Praying for those who are indifferent.

Praying for those who are searching for hope and cannot find it.

Praying for those who are looking for love without.

Praying for those who are finding love within.

Praying for those that are in trouble.

Praying for those that are lonely.

Praying for those who are joyful.

Praying for those who are receiving blessing.

Just praying.

And adding people’s names, one by one, to my prayer wall, and remembering them and being incredibly grateful for them, and for the giving and for the receiving.

Noticing the stars. Living gratefully.  Hoping you do, too.  May God bless you and keep you and hold you, smack-dab in the middle of His hands.

9:

Do not live on the crusts of hearsay or the crumbs of rumor.  Live on the truth you discern with your own sight and your own hearing.

Today’s affirmation is about living “direct knowledge.”  There are four steps:

1) directly experiencing,

2) evaluating,

3) discerning and,

4) forming judgment.

Can this apply to everything?  DOES this apply to everything?

Crusts and crumbs are bits.  A rumor is a story without confirmation or facts; hearsay is unverified, unofficial information gained or acquired from another and not part of my “direct knowledge.”

The telephone game is a great example of how words can change through transmission.  At the end of the line, the original sentence is almost always completely distorted, only a “crust or crumb” of the original whisper.  Ten spins, ten turns of the phrase – barely a shred of the starter’s sentence still intact.

Hearsay and rumor are twist and turn of truth. How much truth lay in hearsay and rumor?  Further, how many times have I spread hearsay and rumor through gossip, rather than kept what I’d heard to myself?  Guilty as charged.

To be truly trustworthy, I must use my OWN sight and hearing to evaluate, discern and form my own judgment.  And only after that, and if necessary or helpful, share from my own perspective.  This creates authenticity of self, trustworthiness, and credibility.   I must live my OWN truth.

“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.” Proverbs 4:23-27

At first I didn’t know why I was called to write on this affirmation today. Now I realize that I have been guilty of passing judgment based on what others have told me, rather than on “direct knowledge” and, not just passing judgment, but sharing “crusts and crumbs.”  I will make a concerted effort to change that, and be more vigilant.  I promise.

Praying that I / you / we take steps to live on the truth discerned with our own sight and hearing, using wisdom and clarity, weighing our evaluations with the scale of love and compassion. Peace and hope in all things today as we search for the smooth road.

8:

Say thank you to the Divine.  Find yourself living in a space of blessing and gratitude.

“Count your blessings!” was sometimes a reprimand for not noticing the goodness that abounded in my life when I was young. I don’t know how many kids really get the whole idea of counting blessings, but as an adult, I get it – and get it, and get it, and do.

I am nudged to be thankful for everything; good / bad, happy / sad.  Bounty as well as scarcity.  But I’ve also noticed that when things are bountiful, I’m often not as attentive to the blessings and am not quite as grateful as I should be. I “settle in.”  Isn’t that just so – “human?”

Sometimes I think God / The Divine likes me living on the edge because I’m more grateful for everything. Grateful for enough black beans in the cupboard to make some soup. Grateful that I can see light at the end of my “scarcity” tunnel and grateful for the hope that brings. Grateful to have found a box of Kleenex when I thought we were out. Grateful to have found some money in a card that I’d forgotten about, and that came at just the time I needed it. Grateful for family that love me and who don’t judge me, and who help me because they can. Grateful for the gifts I bring to the table, and that create blessing for others and self.

Living in a space of blessing and gratitude is like walking around with happiness bubbling up inside, barely containable, dying to get out all the time.  Seeing blessing in the tough stuff – failed relationships, unemployment, falling credit, loss of a loved one, etc. – keeps me on the pathway of understanding that all things come to good.  If not for X, Y, Z, I wouldn’t have 1, 2, 3.  And where would I be then?  Most certainly a bit further behind on my path.

I have had a lot of goodness in my life.  I have had opportunities, learning experiences, people, things.  For all of those, I am grateful.

But better than that, I have lived through a lot of difficulty.  I have had a lot of crap flung at me (haven’t we all?). Some stuck, and some didn’t. Some made me turn toward a different direction, some steeled my resolve and kept me on-course.  And in reflection, it has been through the difficulty that I’ve really come to understand gratitude.

In all things, and through all things, the Divine has worked to make me a better, more open, more compassionate, more grounded, more centered me.  And I am GRATEFUL; and I say, “Thank you and AMEN.”

Praying that I / you / we count our blessings, give gratitude for them all, and live presently in a space of blessing and gratitude.  And through that, we spread blessing and exemplify gratitude, so that others can grab hold and join us in a grateful chorus of, “THANK YOU and AMEN!”

7:

Let go of those past experiences that hold you back.  Now you’ve made room for the new experiences of today.  You are free to live in today!

This affirmation is calling me to drop all old baggage and live in the present – there’s no need for bags if I’m living presently, is there? Isn’t the promise that I will have all I need?

I was thinking about changing the effects of bad experience into something good and what that might look like.  Maybe it would look like a pair of wings on my back, and freedom to fly? Maybe it would look like a whole lot of forgiveness lending itself to a whole lot of space for goodness to come into my life.

Baggage is a mix of what I’ve done, the actions of others I’ve allowed to hurt me, and the reactions that I’ve had to that hurt.  I am realizing that I am so tired of carrying this dead weight; maybe it’s time to let it GO.

I can make the choice to stew on my past and all of the baggage that weighs me down, or I can make the choice to forgive (self AND others) – and allow light and freedom to take the place of darkness and chains.  It is a conscious effort – maybe every minute, maybe every hour, maybe every day – until it takes; but it WILL take.  I just have to keep working on it.

And I am. And I will.  Traveling light is a much better choice than being weighed down with things that only I am stewing on.  Coming to that realization is a first step.  And now it’s time to keep walking.

Praying that I / you / we see the baggage and drop it down the chute – knowing there is no need for it as we open ourselves to the beauty of today and the fresh experiences waiting for us.  Praying that I / you / we can see the good in progress – and that others can see that light and be moved to do the same.  Blessings on all the freedom and room you find to move in today.

6:

Choose love in all circumstance.

This affirmation calls me to choose love, no matter what happens to me, around me, to those I love, to those I don’t know.

When I feel hurt by the action of another, I must choose love.  When I have hurt another, I must ask for forgiveness and then choose love.

Choosing love can be difficult, especially when I’m in a place of indifference or hurt or irk.  Choosing love can be filtering my thoughts, silencing my tongue, stepping away from a situation.  Placing love first in all things isn’t easy.

Brought to mind is the woman who lost her father and son in the tragic shooting at synagogue a month or so ago.  She spoke out in love rather than hate after the senseless shooting of those she loved so dearly.  People were amazed and awed at her strength – at the idea that she could choose LOVE at a time when it would be so much more human – and much easier – to hate.

But she chose LOVE. What an example to follow.

My pride might be nicked a bit by something, but I’m still called to love.  My loss might seem insurmountable, but I’m still called to love. My anger might be my first reaction, but I’m still called to love.

Matthew 5:43-48 from The Message:

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.  In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Wow.

Praying today that I / you / we live like a “kingdom subject,” generously and graciously, placing love first in all things. Love in ALL circumstance.  Praying love to, with, and for – YOU – today.

5:

Stop judging.  Just be.

Ouch!

This affirmation goes two ways:  Judging other; judging me.  And either way, I say, “Ouch.”

First impressions. Deciding who someone is based on what I see or what I hear, instead of waiting to see what I learn through sharing information.  Judging self based on what I have and what I don’t have, compared to what I think I should have at this point in my life, rather than allowing myself to just be happy where I’m at.

At what point do I decide to leave all the baggage at the door?

RIGHT NOW.

I don’t have to make judgment, nor should I have to worry about being judged. And if I start, I can make the decision to stop. And if others judge me, I honestly don’t have to worry about it. Happy with self, I can just BE.

Simpler. Easier. Lighter. Kinder. Gentler. More in line with the call, isn’t it?

Tonight, I pray that we can be gentle with ourselves and with others, seeing with new eyes, both outside of ourselves and in our mirrors.  Take a deep breath, stretch our arms out wide, and just be.  Stripes and polka dots.  Checks and plaids.  Sweet dreams as we finally set our baggage down.

4:

Be gentle with yourself.  Don’t push yourself quite so hard.  Stop and be renewed with the energy you receive knowing that God is holding your hand in all things.

I love the idea of God holding my hand.  I was dreaming the other night and saw a child and adult walking and the adult wouldn’t hold the hand of the child; there was a disconnect there and the child seemed to be trying to anticipate the next move of the adult as she followed behind – running left, then right, stumbling, trying too hard; how much easier if hands had been held and the movement was in synchronization – a journey much more easily taken with connected guidance.

Knowing that my hand is held by God and that He/She guides me, makes my walk – well – better.  I can reflect on my life and my many changes, and I can SEE that God was holding my hand, guiding me in all things.  And knowing that, I can be renewed  – I AM renewed! I can step back from where I am and see that God is good – a guiding hand in decisions, direction, even in things I thought couldn’t possibly be guided by God – SURPRISE! – all of a sudden it is clear that I’m at this exact spot where I’m at because this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Looking at this a step further, I can see that all things are in God’s time – God allowed me the free will to make the decision in the first place as to whether or not I would choose to give myself over to His/Her will for me; that I would place myself in alignment with what my purpose is.  And I’m so glad I did.

And in that knowledge, I can be gentle with myself and not push – because I’ve learned that, every time I push, there’s a screw-up, or it doesn’t feel good, or it feels pressured.  And that’s not the way God works.

So – stepping back, being okay with getting today’s affirmation at 5PM, having had two awesome conversations today that were God-driven, I now rest.

And I pray you will find rest and reassurance today – knowing that He/She is hand held out, just waiting for me / you to grab on.  Blessings on your night.

3:

Listen to the voice of truth and love today.

What is the voice of truth and love?  How can I hear it – and upon hearing, respond?

Looking around and outside myself, things are not always as they seem.  Often enough, in looking for the voice of truth and love that needs listening to, I avoid it; it’s not on my agenda today; maybe I don’t have time. Maybe it doesn’t fit into the frame surrounding the glass that I care to see through.  I am making choice to see what I WANT to see, rather than what I’m MEANT to see.

Sometimes the voice of truth is ugly.  It is hunger. It is avoidance. It is indifference. It is the reality of a failed system. It is poor. It is hungry. It is disenfranchised. It may not look like whatever “normal” is supposed to look like – but then, what, really is normal?

And the voice of love? The voice of love is the crying out for help. It is the small voice within that calls me to action. It is looking truth straight in the face and seeing the need and doing what I can to help.

If I listen to both of these voices that form ONE voice, how can I not be moved? Please, I cry; no more rhetoric about who should be blamed for what – please? Instead, how can I do my part to make change? Through compassion.  Education. Prayer. Action.

Changing the voice of truth from all those things that are the ugly truth, into a beautiful truth.  Into love. Into making better. Into making a difference. Into helping someone help themselves. Into changing a life. Into listening.

Praying for bigger ears – better eyes – praying that I can hear what I need to hear, see what I’m supposed to hear, and make the difference I’m supposed to make. Praying for that for you, too.  Blessings and peace.

2:

Take time today to pray. Slow down. Find peace.

Knock, knock. Here I am, Lord.

I’m reading “The Pilgrim’s Way,” a Russian book about a man’s journey to find out how to pray. He’s met a lot of characters during his pilgrimage, and keeps asking each how they think one should pray; they all seem to have a different thought on how, when, what words should be used, etc., etc. What I find kind of weird is that this pilgrim secludes himself all the time in order to process and then to pray. He’s been quite crabby about this finding seclusion thing, which sort of cracks me up.

But to be honest, I’m confused about the difference between my understanding of prayer and his; plus he’s always holed up somewhere, wanting peace and quiet in order to concentrate on his prayer. And because of this seclusion, he’s been missing all these opportunities to help people whose paths he crossed because he was searching out “HOW” to pray, missing opportunity to “DO” or “BE” his prayer. And in always wanting to be secluded, I feel like he’s also missing a lesson on praying where one is at; peace can be found anywhere, can’t it?

(I still have two chapters left, so maybe I need to quit judging the pilgrim. There’s a thought.)

Regardless my Russian pilgrim, I’m now faced with considering my own routine. In reflecting, I know that I’m unsettled until I take time to stop, meditate / pray, and write. And it niggles at me until done. Also, I realize that I, too, tend to seclude myself in order to stop, meditate / pray, and write. I want perfect peace and quiet in order to concentrate, just like that pilgrim!

Maybe I am more like that Russian pilgrim than I wanted to admit, and maybe that Russian pilgrim will be more like me than he would want to admit by the end of the book. Either way, the reality is that there is room in my life for BOTH kinds of prayer.

Prayer can be the slow-down-and-stop kind, or the do-and-be kind. Prayer can happen anywhere and at any time, in seclusion or in public. The beauty is that the end result of either type of prayer brings a sense of peace.

All that having been noodled, I pray today that whether it’s the slow-down-and-stop kind, or the do-and-be kind, our prayer will bring us peace. Blessings and prayerful peace on OUR Pilgrim’s Way today, wherever we’re lead.

1:

Today I know that I am never alone.

Loneliness is different than being alone.  Based on my experience, loneliness is disconnectedness. It has been the result of a decision to shut other / all out, as the result of depression, or as the result of incredible anger. I have consciously chosen loneliness when I have felt unloved or unworthy.  Loneliness is suffering.

Whether or not I have chosen loneliness, here is the revelation: I have never been truly alone.

Whether I acknowledge the presence of the Divine or not, God is always with me.  Resting, working, crying, rejoicing, living, loving, angry or happy; always and in all things, God is with me.  That’s the promise: IN ALL THINGS.

There have been times in my life where I have separated myself from God. I have felt isolation and desolation.  In most cases, separation from God was my choice.  God, however, still surrounded me, just waiting.  Waiting for me to return; to acknowledge His presence.  Waiting for me to realize that I needed to be in relationship with Him. To give over my separation, isolation and desolation. To give over and give in and give up.  To let go of the anger, the burden, the shame, the guilt, the loneliness.  To choose re-connection.

Today I know that I am never alone. Today I KNOW that I am never alone. Today I know that I am NEVER alone.

And that feels good.

Today I pray that there will be connectedness – through outreach, conversation, smiles, touch.  Breaking through loneliness, whether alone or with others.  Peace as you make your choices today.

April:

30:

I am part of every movement, every breath, every flower unfolding, every blade of grass growing, every bird, insect, animal and human being.  I am one with the universe.

It’s (sort of) Spring!  Lilies are popping up, and there are other perennials that we planted last year and don’t remember what they are, but that are showing themselves slowly, but surely, irrespective of our memories.  Although I’m not crazy about the muddy aspect of Spring, I accept it because it’s part of the cycle. We need the rain to moisten and green-up the grasses, to nudge the trees to budding.  The birds come and sing in the morning (unless it’s raining too hard), and the squirrels have been busy trying to find all the treasures they planted last fall.  And people are finally out, rain or no, walking their walks and waving hello.  I am one with the universe.

I went to a workshop earlier this month on Ojibwa spirituality and one of the take-aways for me was the idea that all things with shadow have life and should be respected.  I like that – it is a reminder to respect ALL things; energy is energy is energy.

I’m blessed to be able to take my time most days, looking out at the changing landscape as the sun comes up (or not). Watching the play of light on the houses across the street, seeing which dogs’ masters and mistresses are out and about early in the morning.  We all breathe in and out, sharing the same air, the same universe. Does an exhale in Nepal reach an inhale in Minnesota?  Not sure, but like the thought.

Today my universe will be celebrated in the micro-universe of my studio. I’ve not been there for a few days, and am itching to get out there and get going. It’s an interesting phenomenon to be pulled to something rather than to be forced to do.  In this case, the law of attraction is winning.  And so, I go.

Praying that I remember to praise the Maker for all of the beauty surrounding me and for all the changes that the rains and winds bring – even the last of the Spring snowfalls.   Praying thanksgiving for you – as we continue our walk together in the amazing universe we’ve been given.  Blessings and productivity and rest and rejuvenation as we move about the day . . .

29:

“Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.” Gautama Buddha

I spent the day today at an Allina Health event called, “Caring for the Sorrow of Pregnancy and Infant Loss.” It was a full day of learning for professionals and students who honor, support and serve patients and families who experience pregnancy and infant loss.

I was there with Nancy Sawyer in my role as a collaborator in the Garden of the Sleeping Angels. I was also there as a mother of three stillborn daughters.

Today’s affirmation is perfect for the day today. In the world of pregnancy and infant loss, there can be a lot of blame and a lot of sorrow. And it seems that Buddha had it right; to be happy we have to rest like a giant tree in the midst.

I think the attendees were there today because they want to “rest like giant trees” as they do their jobs. They moved from general session to breakouts with their hearts wide open and lights shining – with a thirst to learn how they can support the people they will serve in loss, and to learn how they can support each other during those difficult times.

Resting like giant trees in the midst of praise and blame, pleasure and sorrow.

When my first daughter was stillborn almost thirty-five years ago, babies were whisked away from the birthing room and taken to the morgue. I’m sure that in some way, hospital staff thought they were doing parents and families a favor. Unfortunately, they weren’t.

When my second stillborn daughter was born, a nurse brought her to us, perfectly wrapped in a blanket. We could examine her hands, her feet, her tiny upturned nose. We were encouraged to take time with her, to grieve together with her in our arms. Gratefully, someone had figured out that allowing parents to see, feel and experience their stillborn children was a first step in healing.

Taking today’s affirmation one step further, I have learned to be happy; I have learned to “rest like a giant tree in the midst of praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow.” It isn’t – and hasn’t always been – easy, but it is so much more wonderful for me to live life that way than, well, any other way.

I am grateful for the giant trees in my life. Those people that have shined their light during times of great sorrow, times of great loss. I pray that I / you / we can be giant trees and great lights for others when the opportunities present themselves. Sweet, sweet dreams, and may God gather all the angels together, especially the littlest ones.

28:

Put your energy into moving forward and building a healthy life, full of healing, harmony and peace.

What is a healthy life?  What is healing?

Today, I spent the morning at doctor’s appointments.  I finally have health insurance after 5 years, and I am so incredibly grateful.  I’m not taking advantage, just catching up on a few things that I’ve neglected.  Facets of health include the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  Building a healthy life means that I take time and take care of each piece – they work together to make me a whole and healthy person.

Physically, I need to step up a bit.  Exercise is one thing; time another.  I have made a concerted effort to decrease shows this year from 52 to 42.  This will help me to find some balance at home, doing gardening, enjoying a weekend at home once in a while, a bike ride, a beer by the fire pit (that’s the reward for the “stepping up” part).  Working a bit less gives me an opportunity for a home life that is more abundant, which contributes to my overall health.

Mentally, I have to worry about worrying.  Well, not really worry about it, but  I do need to turn my worries over to God and open my eyes to see the opportunities and people he places in front of me to help me. I even ask for help. I accept (not too easily, but I’m getting a bit better) the kindness and generosity of others, not just because it helps me, but also because I know the gift there is in the giving.

Emotionally, I am blessed to be surrounded by loved ones who care. Who ask. Who listen. I am blessed to have a wider support system who provide companionship on the road, who are my friends away from home. We share a way of making a living that isn’t conventional, and one that most people don’t understand. We support each other by sharing ideas, resources, and time away from our families.  Laughter, as well as tears. We are family of a different sort.  Some of my customers have become family, too – how blessed I am!

Spiritually I am blessed to belong to a church that quenches my thirst for belonging, for communal worship, for sacrament.  I am grateful for time each morning to meditate and pray. I am excited to begin my journey toward Spiritual Direction certification, and am already learning about other faiths through monthly workshops. My faith is deepening and broadening. Spiritual health is important, because it connects me with my Maker; it connects me with the One who holds me, loves me, yearns to be in relationship with me.

What of healing?  Well, healing isn’t cure; healing can be restoration, healing can be acceptance. It can occur on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  I carry baggage from my childhood, from my marriages and divorces, from seeing my inadequacies in parenting.  However, it is the way that I frame those things, my coming to terms with them, and my releasing them that creates healing – or if not, festering.

Personally, I prefer healing.

And with healing come both harmony and peace.  Today’s affirmation is a reminder that I am presented with choices. I can choose to accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change the things I can, and use my wisdom to know the difference.  Sound familiar?

The beauty of seeking a healthy life is that I can place my energy where it will do the most good and where I can find the most growth.  Do I want to stagnate and dwell on things I cannot control and cannot change? Or – do I want to place my energy into breaking down the walls that hold me back, choose change, and move forward?

I know the answer.  YOU know the answer.  Tonight, I pray that we both find the energy to seek healthy lives and to heal. And in turn, that we find the harmony and peace that we all desire – and deserve.  Blessings, all, as we discern our next steps – or maybe, they will be leaps and bounds!  Either way, I pray you health – in all the facets of your life.

27:

Value yourself today.  Everything about you.  You are finding people who value you as much as you value yourself. You are attracting people who treat you with love and respect.  To be loved, love.

Today I slept until 10:30AM and then my niece, daughter and granddaughter came to spend a lovely day chatting, sewing, loving and being loved.  And while they were here, a dear friend and her best friend whipped in and out, and as quickly as it was busy, it settled down and then we just “were,” sewing and holding baby and learning to sew and talking about stuff.  And as it happened, I took the day off; first by oversleeping, then by spending time completely unkempt, holding my granddaughter and being surrounded by family.

So without realizing it, I actualized today’s affirmation.  I accepted myself unshowered, preferring to spend time family rather than wasting precious time sprucing self up, and the day lent itself to an inside-the-house, PJ kind of day, with blustering winds and rain, rain, rain outside.  April showers.

Today helped me realize (yet again) that it’s good to value self enough to take time and be present in the moment. To listen to chatter and be comforted by the presence of those I love and who love me. It felt good to be loved and to love, just by being here and doing nothing.

My prayer tonight is this:  that you will have the opportunity to know how valued you are.  All of you, head to toe – good you and not-so-good you.  Work in progress, right?

You are truly beautiful, truly valued, truly loved. Know that; claim it when you see your reflection in the mirror or as you pass by a store window.  Remember it when you feel as if those surrounding you don’t see your value. And believe it always, because it’s true.  You were made in the image of an amazing God.

Sweet dreams and somber sleep.

26:

Peace flows through you, pours all over you, releases your stress and your tensions.  Peace empties you of negativity and fear.  You are filled with peace.

I’m late – just got home from a show that began at 8:30am, so there wasn’t time this morning to “affirm” anything except getting myself out the door and on the road.  I knew I needed to get home and write tonight, so I’ve now settled down and am at the computer – deep breath in, deep breath out.

Time for Peace.

A long busy day at work calls for time to decompress; to empty out stress and anxiety; to release any crazy energy.  As I decompress, empty and release, I open myself up to allowing a “fill’er up!” of pure, positive peace.  Visualizing peace flowing through, pouring over and filling up, my shoulders have already dropped, the yawning has started, and I am happy – and ready to rest.

And so, I will trust what first my body, and now my mind, tell me: Accept peace. Receive peace. Be peace.

Peace to you, tonight; I hope you, too, can take a moment to read today’s affirmation a few times and allow it to sink in, allowing yourself to release, empty, and fill.  Negativity and fear out – and peace, peace, peace in.  PEACE.

25:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. 1Thess:16-18

“Pray continually.  Pray without ceasing.  Pray.”

For the last several years (honest) I have been chasing about trying to figure out the right way to pray; I have felt as though my prayer wasn’t genuine, wasn’t authentic. Inadequate. And I FELT inadequate. The words were just words; no depth, no grit, no truth. Words learned as a child, or words someone else had written and that I was trying to make feel as my own.

I sought out advice from Pastors, from spiritual directors and other resources, from books, through retreat, in conversation.  Finally the answer came to me: I was trying too hard, completely over-thinking something that is, really, so simple.  Because although prayer can be many different things, the one thing it always is is a heartfelt offering to God.

I want to share something written by Alla Renee Bozarth that helped me to see prayer much more clearly:

What is Prayer?

…Be awake to the Life that is loving you

and sing your prayer, laugh your prayer,

dance your prayer, run

and weep and sweat your prayer,

sleep your prayer, eat your prayer,

paint, sculpt, hammer and read your prayer,

sweep, dig, rake, drive and hoe your prayer,

garden and farm and build and clean your prayer,

wash, iron, vacuum, sew, embroider and pickle your prayer,

compute, touch, bend and fold but never delete

or mutilate your prayer.

Learn and play your prayer,

work and rest your prayer,

fast and feast your prayer,

argue, talk, whisper, listen and shout your prayer,

groan and moan and spit and sneeze your prayer,

swim and hunt and cook your prayer,

digest and become your prayer.

Release and recover your prayer.

Breathe your prayer.

Be your prayer.

To me, all of these ways of praying makes prayer so much more real and genuine and continual.  Every action can be infused with intent – the intent that what is being said or done is an offering to God / The Divine / The Great and Holy Spirit.  Simple. Simply.

Today’s affirmation calls me to keep my head raised toward the Divine at all times, even when things are tough.  Rejoicing, Praying. Always. Continually. In ALL circumstances.  And here is my prayer today:  That for me and for you, we find ways to take action; action infused with intent and simple offering. Today. Now. Sometime – all time – on this glorious, glorious day.

24:

You will always harvest what you plant . . . so let’s not get tired of doing what is good.  At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Galatians 6:7,9

Doing what is good.  Thinking what is good. Rejoicing with others, lifting them up in their joy.  Empathy. Sympathy. Positive thought. Sending out good vibes. Praying for other.  And then, reaping blessing where we’ve sown.

There are times when I wonder about this path I’ve taken and this trip I’m on. I sometimes lose heart and start looking at the holes in the fabric, rather than appreciating the warmth the fabric offers. I start seeing glasses half-empty rather than half-full.

And then a kindness happens that jolts me back to realizing Grace.

Generosity of spirit.  A hand reaching out in encouragement, a comment made that lifts me out of despair and shows me that whatever I’m experiencing, it is but a small trial and I will get through it.  Because I have Grace, given through the kindness and goodness of others.

Grace is circular; all I need do is open my eyes and I can find someone in a tougher predicament than my own.  And that gives me opportunity to plant some goodness, offer some Grace to them.

Focusing outward to plant goodness is what I am called to do because I live under the umbrella of Grace.  My job is to spread Grace freely, to nurture others, to heap goodwill upon them, to keep my eyes open and to watch them flourish.  And as I do that, blessings come back to me.  This isn’t selfish motive, this is reward for being true to, and acting in accordance with, the Gospel of Grace.

I am so grateful to have people in my life who heap goodwill upon me, who encourage me when I’m down, who lift me up with their outstretched hands. Who offer me comfort and who cover me with goodness and mercy. Truly, i know firsthand that what goes around, comes around. And so, opportunity to accept and then, in turn, offer Grace, presents itself and the blessing continues on, again and again and again.

Praying that we see Grace opportunities today and that, in the spirit of Grace, we answer the need and do good. Grace and mercy and peace to you, today, in all you do and in those you meet along the way.

23:

Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. James 4:10

I am noticing that God gently allows me to learn through my mistakes and I am, once again, learning how one bad move on top of another bad move doesn’t come to something good.  And then I’m convicted by the Great Spirit, and here I am today, publicly confessing my sins, and gaining (another) lesson in humility.

Just over a month ago I made a batch of soap for (primarily) home use. The soap was to be single-note, straight patchouli.  Each batch of soap I make is around six pounds of soap, and when it’s good, it’s good; conversely, when bad, bad.

I was warming the various oils and fats and had set aside the essential oil (4 oz.), which was a blend of two brands of patchouli.  I pretty faithfully use one brand, but had some of another brand available in small quantity, so put that into the measuring cup, then added the “regular” brand.  After blending the two, things didn’t seem quite strong enough – or bright enough – and so, in an effort to bring out the strength of the patchouli a bit, I added some atlas cedarwood instead of adding a touch more patchouli.

At the time, when smelling the essential oils, it seemed like a good idea, and my plan was to use just a bit of the atlas, and the two patchoulis with the atlas seemed to blend well together at first sniff.  So, 1/4 oz (or so) of atlas and five weeks later, the soap has cured, things aren’t quite right, and I have six pounds of soap that “doesn’t smell right.”

Now, I will cut to the humbling part: When asked what I used this time, I didn’t admit that I’d added the atlas to the patchouli, and I didn’t admit that I used two different patchoulis. I hesitated and didn’t admit to anything except that the patchouli didn’t smell quite right to me, either.

Alas; I committed the sin of omission.

Now, although this may seem silly and small, it’s neither, and here is why: 1) If I begin my journey on the slippery slope by not being fully truthful about a small thing, small can easily become large next time ’round. 2) What I see as big or large, it really doesn’t matter.  All sin is the same. It is a conscious decision to separate myself from God and from other, causing harm to the relationships.

Forget everything learned in confirmation prep classes about mortal and venial sins (and if you weren’t raised Catholic, you maybe won’t get what the difference is, which is okay, because it’s not really central to today’s discourse) – sin is sin is sin. Whether it’s sin of omission (as in today’s story) or adultery or coveting or grafting or murder, sin is sin.  And being in a state of sin, and not repenting from it and not asking forgiveness places a black cloud over my body and spirit, and from it I cannot move.  Until I repent, ask for forgiveness and hope for grace.

Which is what I’ve done. And for which, the offended replied, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”  And for which I am truly, wholly and completely humbled.

And so today, my prayer is one of gratitude. Gratitude for love that surpasses my simple understanding; gratitude for forgiveness; gratitude for a learning opportunity; gratitude for the gift of humility.  And I pray that you – wherever you may be in your journey – have great cause for gratitude today, too.

22:

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” Dalai Lama XIV

It has taken me a long time to get comfortable with this affirmation.  I used to hold the belief that my road was the right road; well, pretty much the only road.  Good Lord; how smug.

A: “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.”

Actively seeking out the road to fulfillment and happiness occurs when I am nose-to-nose with major change.  I have had major life changes when I have been faced with major life changes (yes, I meant to write that). After the death of a loved one. After the death of a marriage.  When I finally tired of facade and pretense and saw that numbers were given more value than people.  When I shifted my focus from acquiring stuff to finding fulfillment and happiness in the intangible.

And what I found was that fulfillment and happiness come through relationship – with God, with self, with other.  And relationship presents itself (thankfully) in many diverse ways.

Which brings me to . . .

B: “Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”

Smugness creates a false sense of superiority, which leads to judging, and I was a Class A, #1 judger.  Blue ribbon.  Top-notch.  Head of the class.

God very gently knocked me off my smug, judgmental pedestal, however, through the gift of beautiful, amazing, loving people in my life, many of whom are on different roads than mine in seeking the Divine. This has caused me to learn humility and to be more considerate; to open my eyes, heart and mind to realizing that, just like we all learn differently, we can seek the same end by different means.

Put together, the affirmation unfolds the obvious – that there ARE different roads, and that God does His/Her business by meeting us all where we are at – whether we take the rocky road or the smooth path, the uphill trail or the winding avenue – God is there, just waiting for us, yearning to be in relationship. How blessed are we all?

So in that light, I pray that we each not only find our path, road, trail or avenue today, but dare – once found – to take the first step.  One foot in front of the other, I wish you great and wonderful and amazing travels!

21:

Today I will share from my heart. I will be open, honest, and free.

Well, here it is:  some days, this is hard.

I have spent over three hours today trying to write, and this is the second affirmation I’ve tried to write about. And I’m stumbling, and I’m having a hard time concentrating, and I am risking failure. And all three are frustrating.  My initial writing was flat and felt self-absorbed and I didn’t like the smugness and it wasn’t going anywhere, so I quit.

SELF-introspection is hard. Seeing yourself honestly is hard, and sometimes I don’t like what I see. Sometimes I’m jealous, or crabby, or less than I should be; sometimes I’m a complete jackass. And during the times I’m the opposite of all that, I don’t really like blowing my own horn, and right about the time I do, I’m shown the door of humiliation and how truly ignorant and clueless I am.

And maybe that’s the point.  Maybe the point here is to admit that I am so incredibly, basely, imperfectly human.

I can be selfish, shitty, and a bonehead. I have done things that have really hurt people. And sometimes, I must admit, especially in the spirit of honesty and today’s affirmation, that it has been intentional. Conversely, I am, at heart, a really great person, and I do have some great qualities, and I’m not always a jackass.

I am me. And there are a lot of times I don’t like me. And a lot of times I do. So there it is.

It doesn’t stop there, though. It doesn’t stop there because there is love, and forgiveness, and kindness, and compassion, and goodness. And that is the mirror in which I am called to look. The hand of the Divine is stretched out to me in all of my imperfection and beckons me to be made whole; beckons me to be better; beckons me to respond to others with love, forgiveness, kindness, compassion and goodness. And also beckons me to respond that way with self.

I have shared from my heart. I have been honest and open. There is freedom in that, so I guess I have also been made free in the confession. That said, confession made, I will pray for me / you that clarity comes in the honest sharing, and with it, freedom. And with that, gratitude for the love, forgiveness, kindness, compassion and goodness of the Divine.   Blessings, blessings, every one.

20:

It is time for PEACE.  It is time for LOVE.  It is time for JOY.  It is time for GRATITUDE.

It is EASTER.

I was awakened this morning by full-throated birdsong.  There is sunshine where I am – the sky is blue and alive, the day is fresh; it promises the busyness of a full church building celebrating the empty tomb.  Today is my favorite Holiday.  It is EASTER.

I love the simplicity.  The only requirements I place on myself are to 1) CELEBRATE and 2) to SHARE JOY.  Pretty simple.

God calls me into relationship, and in return offers me peace, love and joy.  My response is gratitude.  Gratitude for the unbinding of chains; gratitude for love freely given; gratitude in the knowledge that there is absolutely nothing I can do to get peace, love and joy except say, “Yes.”

Every day I consciously say, “Yes.”  Every day I recommit myself to the JOY of Easter.  Every day I rejoice for the gift freely given.  And I recommit to sharing JOY.

Today I pray that you are filled with the joy that Easter promises, whether in the midst of trial and tribulation or at a place of serenity. I pray that you are filled with peace and love. I pray that your eyes are open to seeing the simplicity of this day; feeling the joy of this day; giving gratitude for the promise that Easter brings.

Relax.  All you have to do is say, “Yes.”

Happy Easter – He IS risen! He is risen, indeed!

19:

Muck can be a gift.

I just ended my studio day with a lovely conversation between my guest artist,  a customer-friend, and me.  From that conversation came today’s affirmation, “Muck can be a gift.”

The conversation centered around our life experiences (good and bad), relationships (good and bad), jobs (good and bad), etc., etc. – and how we have to get through the muck to 1) learn, and 2) get to a better place. There was a break in our conversation and all of a sudden my customer-friend said, “Your angels are made from muck.”  And then my guest artist said, “My jewelry is made from muck.”

And then, “Muck can be a gift.”

From darkness comes light. From the raw and ugly come beauty. Our art is tangible proof that muck, although initially dark and raw and murky, can become a thing of beauty. Our lives, which have to go through dark and raw and murky, come to a better place BECAUSE of all of it, not in spite of all of it.

Which brings me to Easter, which comes tomorrow (please, don’t over-think connecting the dots.). Let me explain my logic:

Jesus really had to go through the muck.  Not “the muck,” but THE MUCK.  Betrayal at Gethsemane, three trials, a crown of thorns and humiliating mockery; the spectacle of the way of the cross; the pain, agony and darkness of death upon that cross.  Complete separation FROM God.

That – would be – and is – an insurmountable amount of muck for me; I imagine it most likely would be for you, as well.

But that was the deal. If not for that, no grounds for the Christian church. No grounds for the Alleluia.  No CAUSE for the Alleluia.  Because someone – Jesus – went through all THAT muck, we – any one of us, qualify to receive the gift, freely given.

Tonight I will pray for open eyes to see the beauty of the muck that we must go through in order to get to a better place; and I will pray for open eyes to see the beauty of THE gift.  Blessings, peace and awesome rest tonight, as we wait for the rising Son, and the beauty that tomorrow brings.

18:

Man raises himself toward God by the questions he asks Him. Elie Wiesel

It’s Good Friday today, and I am one day closer to the end of Lent and the celebration of Easter. Holy Week causes me to think more intensely about my relationship with God and His with me; that’s the purpose of Holy Week, really. The personal aspect; relationship. Understanding that it takes us both – me AND God – to have a relationship.

How do I get to know other? Through conversation. I ask questions then listen for the answers. I ask more questions, listen to more answers. Other and I move together from the mundane to deeper, more thought-provoking territory and we go back and forth. We converse; we share. I learn about other, and other learns about me.

Today’s affirmation is encouragement – it’s a reminder – a reminder that we have permission to doubt God; to wonder, ask, be angry, rejoice, grieve, etc., etc! I am welcomed to enter into conversation with God and, through conversation, am brought into deeper relationship. I am raised TOWARD God. And God meets me wherever I am. He is listening and He’s ready to hear me 24/7.

I visualize myself standing tall, chest toward the heavens, face upturned, bringing to God any and all questions – those that are easy and those that are burdensome. And the beauty of God is that no question is too big. The invitation is to come into relationship, regardless of where I am at or how I feel; God calls me to consider my deepest self, develop the question and then ASK.

God YEARNS to be in relationship with us; that is our purpose – we just need to be open to figuring that out. Light bulb on.

Grateful for God’s desire to be in relationship with me, I pray today that you will find relationship with Him. He’s waiting. Flip your switch. Start asking questions. Enter into the conversation. And then open yourself to listen for and hear the answers. God is big; he can handle your questions – any and all.

Blessings on our conversations today.

17:

Treat yourself softly today.

I have been putting off doing today’s affirmation this morning because I am a bit unsettled and have a ton to do (don’t we all?); undone things are niggling at me and I  was procrastinating and – now I’m to stop the unsettling and procrastinating and treat myself softly today.

Part of treating myself softly is to allow myself a few moments of introspection and to settle and to pray and to be grateful . . . and to take the time to write.  So here I am, and what, God, do you want me to see today?

Sweet child:  You have everything you need.  You’ve been given the toolbox, you have the strength, the time, the ability.  Do what you can today, within the time you’ve been given to do it. Softly.

Treat myself softly.

If I stumble, I will help myself up.  If I fall short, I will be kind to myself and remember that there is always tomorrow. And if tomorrow doesn’t come, well then, I will be in a much better place, with abundant love and grace and eternal beauty that I cannot even imagine with my simple and limited understanding.

So today, I will follow the command to treat myself softly, and I will do what I can with my day.

And I will pray the same for you, wherever you are, in whatever it is you must do today. Gently enfolding you and uplifting you and loving you – softly.  Blessings upon blessings upon blessings – as you move about your day, crossing your path with others – softly, too.

16:

Healing is accomplished the instant the sufferer no longer sees any value in pain.  Dare to openly express your needs and find healthy ways to get them met.

When I’ve had people pull this affirmation for their own, they always read it through, and then read it through again. Their faces take on change as they mentally chew on it and then get it.  Accept it.  CLAIM IT.  Acknowledging that the steps – although difficult – are actually quite simple; to accept that it’s within one’s own power to create change. Realizing and then accepting responsibility for “the ask.”  Claiming courage.

Healing 101.  Shifting thought from valuing pain to admitting needs – and then finding health and healing through next steps.  Shifting from a place of suffering to a place of healing is done by changing mindset.  Understanding that healing and curing are two distinctly different things brings me freedom from darkness, as well as freedom from unrealistic expectation.  And coming to that understanding allows me to move from darkness to light.

Vulnerability, humility and coming to the “ask” are hard.  However, I have found that, when I find the courage to release the suffering, I open up space for GOOD to happen – I am bathed in kindness, compassion, support, and love. Within the ask there comes an opportunity for others to help me, and an opportunity for me to accept help.

Knowing that seeing with eyes fully open can take time, this day I pray for patience in the searching, for courage in the ask, for release from darkness, and for help in finding light. Continued blessings as your values shift and as you see positive change with each hard, but simple, step.

Ask – and you shall receive.  It can be just that easy.

15:

Intelligent people choose, take a stand, and line up with the constructive forces of love, kindness and healing.

Choosing the good; choosing to act toward an end that is best for all involved; selflessly choosing. Construction versus destruction.

Placing choice in the context of construction versus destruction makes the point of this affirmation much more clear to me.

I make choices all the time. Not all of my decisions are good ones (even if I think so at the time), and there are times that I have to choose between two things, neither of which have great appeal.  Today’s affirmation calls me 1) to use my intelligence, my reasoning, my empathy in making choices, and 2) to choose that which will build up other through love, kindness and with an intent toward healing.

I cannot control others. I cannot control reaction of others. What I can control is HOW I make choices.  I can do it lovingly, building other up – or I can do it thoughtlessly, selfishly and with destructive intent.

If I approach all decisions “smartly,” with love, kindness and intention to help heal, I will have placed best foot forward, extending selflessly.  This does not mean that I am a doormat, and it doesn’t guarantee that the end result will be perfect; what it does do is allow me to be joyful in the intention.

I choose joyful intention, full of love and kindness and healing. Full of the positive energy of building up. Full of gratitude to have that choice.

Today I pray for the opportunity to expend my energy constructively.  And for you, in all you do, I pray for positive and loving intention. Blessings on your walk today.

14:

One step at a time today, you are making progress.  Live in gratitude for all of your growth, even if it is not always very obvious.

Gratefully, I am learning from my experiences; sometimes I have to go through the door more than once to get the “full” lesson, but that’s okay. I am still making progress.  Slowly, but surely.

Reflecting on where I stood a year ago, I have made great progress!  At the beginning of this year I was better prepared for the twists and turns of the first quarter, and am now a few weeks into the second, forging ahead with optimism and with trust that I am on the right path, less about me and my shortfalls, more about the bigger picture – the higher purpose.

And that purpose doesn’t waver, doesn’t change. Like that tortoise in Aesop’s Fables, my progress might be slow-going, but I AM making progress.  Regardless the detours, I always find my way back to path and, one step at a time, I move forward.  I see progress in each kiln load, in each finished box that gets placed into stock, in each prayer-infused piece that goes home with someone in need.

Life will always have its challenges. It’s how I choose to frame them and react to them that makes the difference.  Through introspection I can see that I am less anxious this year.  That is growth. Obvious to those that know me? Probably not.  But it is obvious to me, so I will celebrate the step.  And then follow-up with the next step, and the next, and the next.

Today I will pray that I / you / we will choose to live brightly.  That our paths will be illuminated and that we will see progress, even if it is only one hard-won step forward at a time.

Grateful to be sharing the world with you, and grateful for the not-always-so-obvious strides we are making.  And fully trusting that progress IS being made.

13:

What’s the hurry? Slow down; be present in the now.

This morning I woke up early, but stayed in bed for another hour just to let my body catch up to my mind.  I had already listed several things that should get done today, and my eyes were still full of sleep.  The air in the room was cool and crisp with windows open and I wanted to linger, warm and protected by layers of blankets.

My mind fought with itself for a few minutes – “hurry up!” versus “stay in bed!”  “Stay in bed” won, and that extra hour allowed me to be present in the “now” of the morning.  It was good to rest, relax, and to take some time for me after a full day yesterday.  I was practicing good self-care.

Rushing through days doesn’t make the days better; it just makes the days rushed.  Feeling rushed doesn’t make me perform better; it just makes me anxious, stressed and, well, icky.  I prefer to take my time, slow my life down, be present in the NOW.  Doing so lessens my anxiousness, relieves my stress, and allows me more clarity of thought.  Three good things.  And, better breathing – so make that FOUR good things.

The day presents itself anew with every sunrise. We have the same number of seconds, minutes and hours in each day.  I want to enjoy them, get my tasks done, meet with and be fully present to those who cross my path.  I want to actively listen to their stories. I want to fully enjoy the sacred moments shared.

As I come to the close of this day, I will pray for rest and renewal in sleep.  I will also pray that tomorrow will present itself anew with opportunities for slowing down and being present. Opportunities to breathe. Exhale. Breathe. Exhale. Breathe . . .

12:

Joy comes in the morning.

I’m in Hayward, Wisconsin, today for a show. As I was driving here this morning, I was joyful – grateful to have stayed with my best friend last night, in a beautiful cabin, quiet and abundant with the feelings of love and peace.

With this past month having been somewhat challenging, I thought of today’s affirmation alternatively: “Joy comes in the mourning.”  What I am thinking is that, as we experience loss, our only way to get over the loss is to go THROUGH it, to allow ourselves the time and the gift of mourning.  And as we gain strength through our tears, we eventually find our joy.

So whether joy comes in the morning or “in the mourning,” joy comes. That is the promise.

Trusting that joy is surrounding me today, I will pray for healing, harmony and peace for you – and for me – and the security of knowing that joy is truly ours. Blessings on your day!

11:

Be still and let your body guide you to refocus; God will heal you deeply within and you will again become strong and free.

I have been having the hardest time “settling” the last few days. I have a lot of things on my mind, and the layers of ‘little thing here’ and ‘little thing there’ are piling up, causing a bit of scatteredness and anxiousness.  The week started out quietly, but has been building; the things on my to-do list are being put off as I am called to manage more important “to-do’s.”  I feel insecure and sluggish; I so much more prefer the capable, ready, and on-top-of-my-game me.

However I may feel, God promises to meet my needs, and to meet me where I am.  My meditation this morning was a story about a sparrow that had flown into a home and then frantically was seeking its way out.  Fluttering and hitting ceilings and walls – the homeowner was doing his best to get the poor frightened bird over to the window, without much luck.  He thought, “If I could become a sparrow – just for a moment – I could show this frightened bird the way out!”  The point of the story is that God has done that through Jesus. God-made-man in Jesus – human, like me – helps me find the way out of my mess, out of my anxiety, out of the “window” to freedom.

So how do I regain my confidence, strength and ease?  How do I find my “window” to freedom? I need to humbly ask for help; for direction.  I must be still, take time to meditate, allow my body to relax and my mind to refocus.  I need to “just be” with God for a bit.  If I slow down my thinking, I can SEE the window and my way out.  I can clearly see the answers to my needs. If I give myself the gift of time, the Divine gives me the gift of sight, of healing, of strength and of freedom.  The Divine places people and opportunity in my path to answer my need.

Today I pray for that moment of quiet, where my mind can rest and I can find the healing I need, regaining my strength and calming my spirit.  I pray the same for you, that you can take deep, wide,  e x p a n s i v e  breaths, and that you will feel refreshed and renewed.

Blessings to you on your comings and goings, and on those you love and on those who love you.

10:

Constancy and courage go hand-in-hand.

I woke up in the middle of the night and the word ‘constancy’ was running through my brain. Constancy is the quality of being unchanging or unwavering, as in purpose, love, or loyalty; firmness of mind; faithfulness.

At times, being constant requires courage.  Waffling is not allowed in constancy. Being constant means to be steadfast; loyal; devoted. Faithful.

Steadfast, loyal, devoted and faithful; to?

God. Divine. Higher Power. Creator. Savior. Spirit. Mover. Shaker. Nudger.

Family and friends.

My intended purpose.

Choosing a path and following it require both constancy and courage. Commitment. Purposefulness.  My “path” isn’t isolated, nor is it singular. It is an intertwining of my spiritual walk, my relationships with friends and family, and my intended purpose.

– My spiritual walk includes prayer, meditation, listening, coaching, writing, discerning, worshiping, being still.

– My relationships with family and friends require effort, time, engagement and exchange. They change, evolve and grow as I do.  Sometimes they stagnate, or they ebb and flow, or they end. Sometimes my relationships require loving at arms length.

– My intended purpose is affected by where I go and who I meet. As demands change, I can rise to meet those demands, whether that be through prayerfully making product or listening to story or praying for a customer’s need.

I need to think on where have I fallen short in both constancy and courage, and pray on how I can improve my commitment to God, family, friends, and purpose.  I will pray today that I receive clarity as well as direction on how to do better.  And with constancy and courage, I will move forward, one foot in front of the other.

Joy and a full cup for you today, in all that you courageously do.

9:

“Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression. We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous. We experience joy in the actual act of giving something. And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given.” Gautama Buddha

Being intentional and then following through on the intention. Filling cups. Filling hearts. Offering time, offering self within means. Lovingly preparing a meal; lending an ear; faithfulness in friendship; honesty in remark. Joy in the remembrance.

Yesterday was a day full of generosity – I was the receiver, not so much the giver (well, except for those haircuts). My first meeting was an interview with a spiritual director. Our hour together was a gift; a first meeting and an assessment to see if we are the right fit. Our conversation was pure, without pretense or judgment, and I left with gratitude for her time, her sharing and her faith. She was generous with me in all of that, and with compassionate listening, she heard my story.

Next, I took a long drive to my old neighborhood and met with a friend for lunch. We have been called to collaborate together for highest good. Our friendship has cemented very quickly and I love that our conversations are rooted in service. She is so busy; I am grateful for her time, and she is generous for sharing it with me. She gives generously and passionately, both in her profession and as she moves forward in her new venture. She has given herself over completely to a call to heal and love others, meeting them in their sorrow, helping them to find closure in a gift of place and space.

My early evening was filled with a meeting of friends as we work together on a fundraiser. These friends are giving their time, treasures and talent so generously, even though tired and stretched to the limit. One cooks for all, so that we are refreshed, and so the meetings can be efficient and time can be used wisely; another creates beauty in all she does – her handiwork gives vision to the cause, and all is done with attention to detail and with a spirit of pure love and deep affection; the next gives order to chaos through spreadsheets and keeping track, offering heartfelt enthusiasm in her gift of organization; one is the voice of reason, chiming in with logic and encouragement and a willingness to do anything she can to help; and one has already given so much to so many, so much so that all of her goodness and generosity are coming back to her through the generosity of those whose lives she has touched.

Finally, just before bed, I was given the opportunity to have an honest exchange with someone I love very much. The generosity in this was that it brought forth an opportunity to see her hurt and to ask for forgiveness. It brings an opportunity to begin moving forward. Hopefully the moving forward will be side-by-side; time will tell. Either way, she was generous in her honesty and, for that, I am grateful.

Living life with the intention to be generous in both actions and words; it’s true that we get more than we give. And by giving, we gain joy – joy, joy and more joy. And it’s the joy that fills us and what keeps the giving going. The circle of generous intention.

Today I pray for generous intention in all I / you / we do – purity of heart, and joyfulness of spirit. Filled hearts and a thousand blessings on your day . . .

8:

Each of us, from the beginning, is one of God’s works in progress. We are entrusted with the skills and abilities we will need way ahead of schedule.

I find this to be so comforting and affirming (well, it IS an affirmation, after all); it gives me confidence in the abilities I’ve been given – even those undiscovered as of yet – knowing that, when needed, they will be readily available to me in my toolbox.

Sometimes it’s hard to trust that I have the skills I need to manage.  Sometimes I see my abilities as lacking; that I fall short of the task.  I often approach things in an awkward way, or the long way, and it may take me twice as long to do something. However, I do manage to get the job done – gratefully so.  And I think that part of the learning is in the doing, and in the doing I learn that I could approach the job in a different way next time, and the result is that I get faster, better, more adept.  More skilled.  More able.

Every step I’ve taken in my life has been in preparation for where I’m going next. Servant or student, I wouldn’t be ready for the next step if I hadn’t taken the one before. Which brings me back to “under construction” or “work in progress.”  Which is okay.  It is what we DO.

This morning I am going across the street to cut hair. I am not a good hair cutter, and the women whose hair I will be cutting don’t care, so that works for all of us. The point is, even in this task, I will do my best, trusting that I can help them feel cleaned up and, at the very least, they will be happy to have shorter hair when I’m done.  Marginal skill and ability? Yes. But I will get the job done.

We are all gifted with something; we each have inherent skills and abilities that will eventually be uncovered for use.  I / you / we are called to trust in that. We may not be perfect, but we are certainly capable.  So, today, I will pray for nimble hands, and to remember that God has already blessed me with what I need.  For you, I will pray that you discover your skills and abilities, and that those you bless with those skills and abilities will be grateful.  Peace, love, and snip, snip!

7:

There are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our encouragement, who will need our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give.

Scores of people are waiting for me? This seems improbable – at first glance. But these morning meditations aren’t about first glance. They’re about digging deeper.

If people are needing compassion, encouragement and the help that only I can give, what do I do?

First – see need.  People are out there who need ME.  Sometimes they’re the people I least expect; sometimes I don’t want to ask a question, fearful of what might be the answer. In most of those cases, though, I’m usually nudged, and pushed, and the Spirit moves me to knock on their door and ask, “How are you? What’s been going on with you? Where have you been?”  Sometimes people search ME out, which I believe is the Spirit showing me where I missed need, and reminding me that I need to do a better job of “eyes open.”

Sincerity and authenticity are key in this compassion and encouragement business; it isn’t just fluff or being “Minnesota nice.”  I have to intuit need, ask the questions, be ready to listen to the answers, trust when I need to dig deeper, and ask permission to help. I must be willing to accept yes as an answer as well as no; maybe it’s just the asking and acknowledging that are needed.

Sharing what I can give is sharing ME. Sharing the imperfect me, meeting other at their point of need as best I can, accepting my own limitations.  Eyes wide open, heart willing, spirit in tune with my surroundings and with those around me.  I am present. Listening. Focusing. And also listening for what’s NOT being said.

Today I will pray for some skill honing; for opportunity; to be open and vulnerable and, in spite of my imperfections, to be able to offer compassion and encouragement where I can.  I will pray the same for you – meet the need. Change the world, starting right where we are. Need is always a lot closer than we think.  Blessings, love, compassion, encouragement and peace in your day, as you go about meeting need . . .

6:

Dare to be hopeful.

My Pastor said this in his sermon this morning.  I think it’s an awesome affirmation; it calls me to be brave and daring, and to have the feeling that whatever it is that is needed or wanted or desired can be had.

So what are those things for which I am hopeful?  On a grand scale, I am hopeful that, someday – in my lifetime, there will be world peace. That’s a big hope.  Not impossible, though, and that’s how I must think of it.  It is POSSIBLE.

I am also hopeful that people will someday wake up to the notion that we are all in this together, understanding that the concept of “other” is exclusionary, and that healing and harmony and peace can be found only through cooperation, love, compassion and caring about the bigger picture.  And cooperation and positive thinking and love of OTHER has to start with me.

This morning, my meditation was about antipathy.  I must confess that I didn’t remember what antipathy was and, thankfully, the writer gave me a definition – antipathy means incompatibility and is opposed to sympathy.  It ranges in intensity from dislike to loathing.  Hmm; it seems to me that there is a lot of discord caused by antipathy.  The writer posited that in order to dispel antipathy, we must “try to do something for those whom we instinctively dislike; the golden rule for antipathy is to ask to do a service for the one your spirit withdraws from.”

From whom do I withdraw? Asking that question brings out my ugliness, for I do not do all I can for those who are in situations of homelessness, hunger, abuse, disenfranchisement, marginalization.  Admittedly (and ashamedly), I more often than not choose easy ways to be of service.  So now I am called out and awakened to the fact that I need to do more; to be more of service to those from whom my spirit withdraws.

Heavy business for a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  However, the call to action comes when it comes, not when I choose.  And so, I will join with my brothers and sisters in helping to help. In promoting hope. In daring to be hopeful. In visualizing a world where good prevails and people have their most basic needs met.

Guess I’d better roll up my sleeves.

Praying that all of us are open to opening our eyes to need, answering the call, and daring to hope that our action will start a revolution.  Blessings and peace on your revolution – and on mine.

5:

Who loves you? Think on them and be grateful to know their love.

Since she was a baby, I have often asked my daughter and now I ask my granddaughters, “Who loves you?” – and every time I answer the same – “I do!” It may be a bit silly, but I don’t care if it is; every time I answer my own question, I laugh.

Who loves me? How often do I think on them with gratitude for knowing their love?

Drawing concentric love circles around myself, I find my family. My brothers, my cousins, my daughter, my nieces and nephew (great and regular), my partner. The next circle has my lifelong friends – the people who are family that have been chosen. In the next circle are those that I haven’t known as long, but they are those with whom I have relationship and whom I love. The next circle moves out to those in my church family; love of a different kind, but love nonetheless. And on and out – and on and out. And on and out.

I am incredibly blessed. Thinking about my granddaughters, they have several sets of grandparents and, rather than judge that as some kind of less-than-good thing, I say, “All the more people to love THEM!”

Today, as I work in my studio, I have had several conversations on loving; loving self, loving others, loving the path we’re on. And I come back to gratitude. Gratitude for all the love I have, all the circles that surround, and all the love yet to come.

Praying your bucket is being filled, spilling out in concentric love circles to those around you, and that for you, today, gratitude is a two-way street. Peace!

4:

We cannot get grace from gadgets.

Today’s affirmation calls me to put my gadgets down strike up a relationship with the Divine.  It calls me to focus on what’s beyond the veil versus what’s in my hand.  And once I’ve gotten the Grace that is other-worldly, I am called to commune with others. Personally.  One-on-one. At the table. In the waiting line. At the gas station. Offering them Grace through kindness and compassion.

Last night we had dinner with friends.  For the first time in several weeks we belly laughed.  There were a couple of tears, too, but we left their home with our burdens lightened – we were given a blessed reprieve. Our minds and bodies were out of our home and we entered into Grace through a door in a house in south Minneapolis.

Relationship. Time. Focus. Being present in the moment. Showing that we are cared for.  A meal made with love and served in friendship. Acknowledging sadness and helping to abate it – for just a while. That is Grace.

Today I will commune with my brothers and my extended family as we say goodbye to our Aunt Margaret.  We will celebrate having known her love, celebrate that she is rejoined with her brothers and sisters, mother and father.  We will celebrate family and rejoice that we are loved by each other. We will hold each other up, offer words of encouragement, remember a life well-lived.  We will serve up some Grace to each other.  It will be a glorious morning.

I will pray for you, for me, for all, that we see Grace today. In the smallest signs – with open eyes and open hearts. Blessings on your day.

3:

Under construction.

Doesn’t really seem like much of an affirmation, does it? I think, though, that it is.

Under construction.

If I think about driving along a road, and it’s really bumpy and has potholes as big as my body, and then there’s some gravel business, and maybe it seems murky here and there, but there’s no “Under Construction” sign, I might tend to be a bit crabby about the situation.  Why wasn’t I warned?!?

Conversely, if I’m driving along a road, and there’s an “Under Construction” sign, and the road is really bumpy and has potholes as big as my body, and then there’s some gravel business, and maybe it seems murky here and there, I’m a bit more cautious in my driving, and I’m a lot more forgiving that things aren’t yet tidied up, all because I’ve been given the heads-up / reminder / notice that things are “under construction” and improvement is on its way.

I’m “under construction.” I’m “in process.” Hopefully I’m improving as I keep moving along and learning about me, about life, about being humble.  About my personal potholes, diligently working on those things that need work. Learning about how I need to be gentle with self, too, and through that gentleness, remembering that I can approach others the same way.

And there, my friend, is the lesson. That if I realize that each of us is under construction or in process of improvement, I will be more gentle, more open, more forgiving and, yes, more cautious of how I react, how I approach a situation, how I offer help.

Please be patient; God isn’t finished with me yet. I’ve heard it a hundred times. The dealio is, though, it’s my job to actively make change. Standing still and not working toward my own improvement is wasting time.  I am called to make change ACTIVELY – with God’s help.

Today I pray that I can actively make change in my office (there’s the practical), and that I can also make change in my being.  In my thinking, my acting – in working toward repairing those things that need repair.  And I will pray the same for you.

The sign is posted, people. Time to get to work.

2:

Offer Grace.

As a young person (7 – 17 years old), I understood Grace as something to be gotten through communion.  I didn’t differentiate Grace from Forgiveness and, in retrospect, thought of them as pretty much the same thing.  Although intertwined, they’re definitely not the same.

I have two tattoos – one on each side of my spine, mid-shoulder level.  I had them done after my last divorce in order to be reminded never again to allow myself to be marginalized. One of them represents the Trinity (the Father-Son-Holy Spirit kind, not the cowboy), and the other is the Japanese symbol for “Grace.”  I presume that everyone (well, pretty much everyone) that gets tattooed has a very personal reason for choosing their tat, and I also presume that their tats have deep meaning to them.  Maybe so, maybe not.

Anyway, Grace is huge to me. When I became a Lutheran I learned that Grace is freely given, that there’s nothing I can do to earn it, my choice is to accept it – or not. I accepted it, and my life and thinking were transformed.

The question then became, “What do I do with Grace?”

Here is my response: I offer it to others. To those who hurt; who need healing; who are sad; who are in some kind of need. Those who have been disenfranchised; marginalized; made to feel less-than.  Those who are somehow lost. The list of those in need goes on and on and on.

And how do I offer Grace?

By praying for. By sitting with. By spending time. By listening to. By reaching out. By sensing discomfort and doing what I can to help. By asking if there is a need. By lifting up. By doing. By being the hands and feet of Christ.  It is my job to offer Grace in any way I can. To find opportunity, to help when needs arise, to be watchful. And offering Grace can be as simple as welcoming someone in – into your church, into your life, into  a state of respite.  God walks BESIDE us, not FOR us.  We have to do the DO.

Be watchful. Be waiting. Be Grace-full.  And then see what happens when you offer it up to someone who needs it. Today, I will pray for opportunity for each of us to see need and for the Grace to take action. It can be so easy, and yet so powerful.  Grace on your day!

1:

Do you know what I like about you? EVERYTHING.

A woman said this to me last weekend.  We had just met and she really didn’t know me at all; and although it made me laugh because of the absurdity, it’s stuck with me since she said it.

Do you know what I like about you? EVERYTHING.

What does that even mean if she doesn’t know me? What does it make me think of as I process it?  How does it make me feel? What does it look like in relationship with God?

“Do you know what I like about you?” is a catalyst; it invites me to think of the people I love, of the God I love and how those people and God love me.  I’ve written in the past about friendships and about how I love my friends – the “all” of them – the good them, the not-so-good them; the dark side and the light side together make each of us a whole. I accept my friends as they are – and amazingly, they accept me – the good and the not-so-good.

In thinking about my relationship with God, it’s not just a “like” thing; it’s a “LOVE” thing.  It is incredibly humbling. God loves me; every inch of me. The good parts and the crap parts. Sometimes I imagine God’s head shaking, thinking, “What on earth is she doing NOW??”  But God still likes me; still loves me.  And God invites me to love myself, forgive myself, and walk with Him. Or Her. Take your pick – the hand is extended.

Do you know what I like about you? EVERYTHING.  And do you know why? Because we are children of God. We are full in His love. We are complete in His love. We ARE loved, we ARE forgiven, we ARE called, we ARE blessed and we ARE beloved.  You know what I like about that? EVERYTHING.

Blessings on this day; on seeing the beautiful you that God sees.  Believe it. Accept it. Be humbled by it.  It’s real.

March:

31:

You can either run from the past or learn from it.

Ouch.  My first visual (as I look about the house) is that my past is like laundry; sooner or later I need to deal with it.

I remember being a kid and doing something that, in the immediate second after the doing, came the knowing that I was going to be in trouble.  So I chose to hide.  The consequence of hiding was that I doubled my trouble; my mom’s calling my name and my hiding only worsened my situation by the putting off.

Ever do that? What happens is that it ends up being a bigger ball in the stomach, a bigger problem than it was, and I’ve got more clean-up to do.  Kind of like a bill that wasn’t paid on-time and now has a late charge added to it.

My past experiences – both the dirty laundry and the clean – are experiences that I can learn from. And I don’t necessarily need to judge the experiences as good or bad; I can simply look at them as experiences and go on from there, which is a gentler place from which to learn.  Dissecting our actions and consequences helps us to be better people. Sometimes it takes a few times of making the same mistake to finally get things right, and that’s okay, too.  At least we’re trying.

So today, I pray that there is time for reflection, gentleness in the dissecting, forgiveness for the trespasses, and grace in the knowing that we’re becoming better people. One step at a time.

30:

Notice the JOY and LOVE along the way.

Anticipating Spring – the fullness of Spring – is a roller coaster! One minute there is warmth, the next rain, the next snow; I feel like I want to just shout, “Get on with it, already!”

Every season comes as it comes; I haven’t any control of what the day might bring, so how do I welcome what is slowly being revealed?

I have to have open eyes. I need to pay attention to the smallest signals of renewal and change. The receding snow, the birdsong in the morning, the squirrels making their way busily about. Soon enough there will be buds on the trees, the early spring tulips, crocus and hyacinth will be popping up through what’s left of the snow.

Just as I pay attention to the signs of seasonal change, I must pay attention to personal change. I need to take time to notice what’s going on around me, in my family’s lives, in the lives of my friends. And I need to notice the joy and love presented to me along the way.

What can I find in which to revel today? What joy and love will present itself? Being open to seeing it is my step – because revelation is outside of my control, I need to be diligent in my watch. And then, when revealed, I can fully appreciate the beauty of the joy and love that I see.

Blessings to you and yours as you move through this week with attentiveness to all around you.

29:

We are the church.

What does that mean?  It means that, if you are a believer, that I, you and we are the church. Not the building. The building is where we go to worship, but it is not “the church.”

In other words, our response to Grace is to DO.  Our response is to meet people where they’re at; to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, love the disenfranchised.  Our response to Grace is to spring forth out of the church building, and to be God’s hands and feet on earth.

“Elvis has left  the building.”  A reminder that the concert was over and it was time to head out and go home.  Thinking a bit “outside the box,” every time we leave our homes, our churches, our environs to go out and among others, we are called to respond to others lovingly, with compassion and kindness.  It’s our call to “leave the building” and DO what needs to be done in the world.

What can I, you, we do today? What might our response be to the others our paths cross?  I will pray that it will be to share, to help, to love, to be kind, to be compassionate, to listen, to sit with, to DO.  It might seem like a lot, but it’s one simple, loving act at a time, offered with the intention to give back to Him who has given so much.

Blessings on all of YOUR giving today.  And peace.

28:

Walk by faith, not by sight.

What does this mean to me? This weekend I am on retreat; I’m offline and unplugged except to do this affirmation each day, a concession made by the team running the weekend; I appreciate it very much and don’t take the gift lightly.

So what does it mean to walk by faith? For me, it means letting go of my control, not having any kind of agenda, allowing the weekend to unfold. It’s a retreat I’ve never been on before, and I’ve given myself the gift of just being present in the moment, setting aside all expectation and immersing myself in the Word, in the movement of the Spirit and in the cadence of the day and evening.

None of the above was / is easy for me.

I’ve left my life behind and entrusted it to the one who invited me. I don’t know what’s next, so I have to have faith that it will be in my best interest. I am ACTIVELY trusting that all things that happen moment-by-moment will work for the greater good and in my best interest, and in the interest of all the other women from all over Minnesota and Iowa that have come here this weekend.

In a way, I’m blindfolded. I have to trust. I have to have faith. That is my call this weekend – until Sunday evening when I return home. This is much different than a girl’s weekend, where I know my people and they know me, where the schedule of the day is easy, and is pretty much at my whim or at the whim of those I’m with, where the focus is fellowship in a very different sense. Here, I follow. I have a purpose in being here, it’s not just fun and relaxation. I guess I don’t really even know if fun and relaxation are in the equation for the next three days. But in walking by faith, I’m following a path of trust, a path that I feel I was meant to walk, and so I’m stepping out, one foot in front of the other.

My call is to trust. To surrender. To allow. I know that God is holding me in his loving arms, and I know that I’ve been led to come this weekend so, “Here I am, Lord; your servant is listening.”

Blessings on your day – I hope that it will be filled with experiences where you are offered opportunities to see what’s around the corner, but only as it unfolds to make your day uniquely yours.

27:

Each loving act says loud and clear, “I love you!”  1John4:7-8

The referenced Bible verse actually reads: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

What is my response to God’s loving me? It should always be an action based in love, bringing love, showing love – all in grateful response for God’s love for me.  If I seemingly act lovingly but with selfish and manipulative motivation, my action is fraught with falseness.  Where is the authenticity in that action, and where is God’s love in that action? No where.

Put differently, because I am grateful for God’s love and grace and forgiveness, every action, every thought, every thing that I do should be an outpouring of love because I am filled with gratitude.  Because I cannot respond any other way.

As it always seems to be, it comes down to choice.

I can choose to treat the cashier, mechanic, greeter, helper, volunteer (etc.) with indifference, or I can lovingly interact with them.  I can share my inner joy with an outward action – the simplest action.  For example, I am a winker, a nodder and a smiler.  A hugger. A hand-shaker. I’m the one you see in the grocery store that makes every effort to have eye contact with you in order to say, “Hello!”  This can be an irritant to some people, but I just can’t help myself.  It’s so easy for me to choose to be joyful and to spread that joy.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Doing what I can to help others that are in need through my time, my talents and my treasures.  How would I want to be treated? Kindness, compassion, nurturing, loving, forgiving, being present.  Downplaying drama, finding authenticity. Living in gratitude, thinking in gratitude, responding in gratitude.

Today, I will pray for authenticity in each loving action by every one of us and, through those authentic loving actions, take heart in knowing we will be working together to make the world a better place for all.  Blessings on your day . . .

26:

We rarely think of the air we breathe, yet it is in us and around us all the time. In a similar fashion, the presence of God penetrates us, is all around us, is always embracing us, and it is delightful.

It’s automatic, this breathing business.  I share my breath with all things surrounding me – people, plants, animals.  Air and its pressure surrounds me at all times – it holds me up and embraces me, even though I only feel it when it presents itself through movement – my own or that of the wind.

In dissecting today’s affirmation, it seems clear to me that breathing is something I do; penetrating us with divine presence is what God does.  Not only penetrating us, but embracing us.  And in the embracing we are held and loved, our spirits are nurtured and revived.  And, if we allow ourselves, we find delight.

What is my call to action today, I wonder?  Maybe to make a concerted effort to take things slowly, to notice God’s presence in others, in the sacred space created through relationship and conversation, and to take the time to find delight.  When is the last time I was delighted?

Prayers today include hope for all of us; hope when we feel hopeless, sight when we feel blinded, and the presence of mind to find the delight we are given through God’s compassionate embrace.  Peace to you on your day and on all the opportunities that present themselves to you.

25:

The things you place in God’s hands, you will always possess.  2Tim1:12

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, the actual passage refers to Paul’s suffering “for the Gospel.”  The verse reads ” . . . I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”  Trust is really at the heart of today’s affirmation – trust in God, trust that whatever I give over to God, He will hold and manage for me.

This gives me freedom.  Placing “things” in God’s hands takes away my anxiety about the future and my problems, and allows me the opportunity to just trust.  I know that trust is hard, however when I open myself to practice faith, my life gets easier. It may be an active giving over every second, every minute, every hour until I REALLY give the whole of it over, but eventually I will let go and let God hold “it.”

I remember the first time I put my daughter on the school bus.  She was five, and I had anxiety about letting her get on the bus – what fear might she have, would kids be nice, was someone going to steal her lunch, on and on and on.  Good Lord.  I created drama in my head that really didn’t need to be there.  To be fair, I did trust that the bus would transport her TO school, but I wasn’t so trusting that the experience – without me on-board to manage things – was going to be as fine as I’d coached her that it would be.  She must have trusted, though, because on-board she went, lunch in-hand, into her seat, never even giving me a second glance, a smile on her face.

She was ready and trusted that she was on her way; this forced me to give over to trust, too.  Day 2 was a lot easier. And day 3. And by the end of the first week, it was a piece of cake.

Actively placing things in God’s hands allows me to know where those things are, never to be misplaced; it allows me increased space to move about in my own skin, my own mind; my burdens are less, my anxieties are minimized, and those whom I love are held by the One I love.

Trust. Faith. Giving over.  It’s a continual process. If I know the One that holds and safeguards, it’s that much easier.

Let go and let God hold you – and all you possess – in His great and marvelous hands.  Have a wonder-filled day – it’s full of promise.

24:

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.

When I was in high school, I took a class in which we worked with high school students that were special needs two days a week, and visited with elderly in a nursing home three days a week.  The class allowed us time to get to and from our destination, and about an hour in time spent with our assigned people.

Spending time with the special needs kids was very fun and the excitement of each activity was contagious – they were as charged up as we were to get out of our school environment and go bowling, shopping, or do cooking; I don’t remember everything we did, but it was definitely a time where we ALL left better and happier.  We were just being kids with other kids, regardless the challenges.

Spending time with the elderly at the nursing home was much more serious.  It wasn’t a situation where I felt entirely comfortable because most of the elderly that we interacted with were in the process of dying. I did a lot of sitting and listening. And I think that was the point; our take-away was to learn to listen, to be kind, to be compassionate; to see ourselves in those we met with and to gain empathy.

In reflecting on my experiences in this class, I learned some lifelong lessons and made strides in my humanity.  I became more thoughtful, more kind, more compassionate.  I learned to hold judgment and just offer self, however that might be helpful.  Forty years later, it’s still something to think about and to gain from.  I know I’m better in having had the experience and I believe that, in both situations, “better and happier” was the result.

Today I will pray for encounters that leave us all better and happier, and the same for those we touch. I will pray that kindness will be what others see – in our faces, our eyes, our smiles.  Blessings, all.

23:

It is of utmost importance to feed both the head and the heart with nourishing food.

I am what I eat.  Easy to forget when I want things that aren’t the healthiest choices, since those aren’t always the most enticing.  I have had to change my viewpoint on food several times over the years.  I’ve had to look at it as medicine – my body needs X, Y, Z and I get those by eating A, B, C.  Thinking medicinally is, quite frankly, a killjoy.  So, a move from medicinal to moderation.  Moderation is pretty tough when it comes to willpower (or lack thereof) and a pan of freshly-made rice krispie bars.  Guilt-eating, too; lots of years of hearing about starving children (somewhere) so I’d better clean up my plate, etc., etc., etc.  Argh!

However (and I did seem to get sidetracked with the food example), this affirmation is about my head and my heart.  What does THAT kind of nourishment look like?

I am what I watch, read and observe, because those things become a part of my thinking.  Choosing something from which I can learn or that boosts my intelligence as well as my joy.  Surrounding myself with people and things that are positive and that leave me with a heightened sense of love, joy and peace.  Doing good, and by doing so, reaping the benefits that come from the doing.  Making a gratitude list of three things each night – the first three that pop into my head – and in their consideration, warming my heart.

My prayer today is that we make those choices that bring nourishment – in “real” food, as well as in head and heart food.  Because we love ourselves, and in loving ourselves we make those choices that make us better – inside AND out, increasing our joy, our peace and our love.

22:

There is no path but the one ahead.  Karen Kellington

It matters not which turn I take, the path still leads me forward if I place one foot in front of the other.  Through joy, grief, sorrow, stillness, anger, imbalance, love, fear; one foot in front, one foot in front, one foot in front.

Moving forward through emotions and events really is the only option, isn’t it?  I may not do it well, but my energy needs to continue its movement.  It has to go somewhere, to be spent, to be expelled, to push up and out and through; to continue it’s way along.

As I reflect on my life, on the continuum of events, I see this push forward.  I can see where my patterns are, how major life events – births, deaths, marriages, divorces, job changes – have affected my path and my decisions in forging ahead.  Choices, choices, choices.  I always have them.

Even if I’m not in control and am at a sticking point – a place at which I cannot actually DO anything, but rather a place where my choice is to choose acceptance or resistance – well, that is choice, too.

The best thing about the path ahead is that I don’t really know all that is in store for me.  There are sure to be surprises, delights, devastation, too; regardless, I am excited to march on, to see who and what lay ahead.

I pray today that your path is easy, that you are surrounded by love, and that your choices will make your journey one of learning and joy.

21:

Treat yourself to quiet time today.  Be gentle with yourself as you let yourself do nothing but be who you are.  Today you will value what you THINK.

This is needed today. Even the overcast skies suggest that I be quiet today, rather than busy, busy, busy.  I can move about gently, allowing myself to be in thought, in remembrance, allowing myself to laugh or to cry, and to be present in the moment and open to whatever that moment may bring.

How many times do I allow myself this, without guilt, without reservation?  Not many.  Doesn’t it always seem that it’s rush, rush, rush? Get things done, be productive, don’t let the grass grow under your feet, etc.  I’m don’t want to wallow today, I’m saying that I will simply value what goes through my head, acknowledge it, process it, and then release it.

Valuing ourselves and our thoughts is a huge step toward loving our authentic selves – the good, the bad and the ugly. Having thoughts within the spectrum of positive to negative is normal; it’s what I do with those thoughts, or how I treat them, or what value I place on them that makes a difference.  And am I gentle with those thoughts, accepting them as they are, regardless if good, bad or ugly?

I am going to “be” today.  I am going to be calm, I am going to breathe in love and peace and joy and compassion, and breathe out stress and sadness and grief and anxiety.  And no matter what I think, I will value it, because it is a part of the whole me.

I pray authenticity for you today, and I pray love of self – your whole self.  Allow you to love you and be gentle with you, wherever you are, and wherever you’re at.  Blessings, peace and serenity on your path today.

20:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.

March 20, 2014. The first day of spring. With it, the promise of renewal; the buds will soon begin popping on the trees; the perennials will begin their rise to the surface of the ground, bringing color and beauty to a landscape that has been so white for so long. Projects begun but not finished, left to lay over the winter in the yard, will pop through the melting snow, too, and work will begin in earnest again soon.

I do like spring, not the pothole, muddy, dirty part of spring, but the one in which everything greens up, the mornings bring with them the song of the birds and the earlier sunrise. Soon I’ll be able to sit on the front step and watch the school kids march to their playground, running off energy before the bell rings, beckoning them in. People come out, too – the runners, the dog-walkers, the walker-walkers – and they’re friendly. They say, “Hello!” as they walk by, a stark change from the bundled mumbles of winter.

Here in Minnesota, it’s supposed to get a bit colder again before we’re on the continuum of temperature upswing. I’m excited. And I’m waiting for it (somewhat) patiently. Like everything, it comes in its own time, surprising us with its presence, often when least expected.

I pray for you patient expectation, your cup filling with joy as changes show us that the next season is not just a date on a calendar, but a reality within which we exist. Blessings, and Happy Spring!

19:

Look at any problem you have and release its energy so that you can be free to allow healing, harmony and peace to unfold.

I took a Logic class at the U of M a few years ago.  One of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken, in part because I am not a very logical thinker, and also because I’m more of a word person than a math person.  Just the thought of signing up for that class FREAKED ME OUT, which didn’t help and only increased the block (self-sabotage). However, it was was the “easiest” class and a math was a requirement, and in the end it broadened me and my thinking and, (with the help of a study-buddy) I got an A.  (Note: Not bragging, just giving a concrete example of mind over matter as well as a lesson in persistence.)

I can’t remember how to make the words into a math equation, but if I was to break down the affirmation in order to understand it more fully, it would look something like this:

Problem = negative;

Releasing negative = room for positive;

Positive = healing, harmony and peace.

Healing, harmony and peace > negative.

Incredibly simple – requiring action, though, on my part.

The action is in the decision-making.  I have to be done with the problem; ready to leave it – and release all the negativity that goes along with it – ready to accept the wonder of healing, harmony and peace for mind, body, spirit.  And being really done with the problem requires stamina, willpower and a desire to change, to move forward and stay that course, not going back to whatever the negative was, because I know, deep within my core, that going back is not in my best interest.  And best interest is love of self.

Releasing problems also gives me freedom.  Freedom from stress, from that feeling of sluggishness that I get from carrying around something that’s holding me back.  And I love the idea of healing, harmony and peace UNFOLDING – opening their arms to welcome me and help me to become a better me.

As I reflect on those things that are holding me back and creating negative energy in my life, I will make a plan to take care of them by releasing and allowing space for the beauty of the unfolding and unfurling of healing, harmony and peace.

Blessings on your (snowy?) day – may your travels be safe, may you release some negative energy, and may your path find the healing, harmony and peace that is meant to be yours.

18:

Some days, you just have to process. Allow yourself that gift.

I just made this up. I am grieving today, for two things that have happened, and for something yet to happen, and I need to process all before I can do anything else.

First, my friend’s father died. I’m sorry for my friend, because I know how it feels to lose your father. And father relationships are often hard, and when someone we love loses theirs, it brings up our “stuff,” and what all that looks like – good, bad or otherwise. And I love my friend and hurt with him; I feel sorrow with him and for him; I know that his journey processing will be difficult, as they were such good friends. So that’s been niggling at me for a few days.

And my beloved aunt died this morning. She was the last of my father’s siblings – there had been eleven of them. She lived 99-1/2 years; some good, some bad, some otherwise. She was amazing through all of those years and through all the adversity. She kept her spirit and her class, even when things were more difficult than any person should have to bear. She was always ALIVE – the one who was a little irreverent, but always with a soft heart and warm way about her; she made you feel like you were the center of the universe – well, at least her universe – when together. She will be greatly missed, and now all of us cousins are orphans.

Finally, on Thursday, our beloved OsKar will earn his wings – or maybe they’ll simply have the opportunity to unfurl. He has been Patty’s companion for eleven years, and my constant studio companion for three. He pushes me to get out and get doing, even when I’m being lazy and procrastinating. He has been a greeter, a protector, a clown, a stoic, a wise man, the epitome of an example of what a good dog should be. And it is hard to admit to loving him as much as I do.

So today, I allowed myself to wait to write. I needed to think. And I am allowing myself to grieve on many levels, and also allowing myself time to process my feelings for my parents, on the shortfalls as I need to correct as a parent, on what I can do better or how I can be better. I am allowing myself to be present in my last few days with a magical, God-given, four-legged best-friend, and am letting him know how amazing he is and that he’ll be missed. And I’m allowing the comforting from others to bless me, and will continue to send out my own ripples of love and comfort to my friend and my extended family.

And I will forgive myself in those places that need forgiveness, and rejoice in those that need celebration.

With all of that, I pray that God will bless you in your adversities, in your processing, in your forgiving and in your rejoicing. Blessings, blessings, blessings all.

17:

Today’s affirmation is an excerpt taken from the Prayer of St. Patrick, also known as The Deer’s Cry, The Lorica, and / or the Breastplate of St. Patrick:

Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me,

Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

There is a sign on a steel beam at the Guinness Brewing Company in Dublin that reads, “Everybody is Irish on March 17.”  It makes me laugh.

Today’s affirmation / prayer isn’t really about being Irish, though.  Rather, it’s a reminder of who St. Patrick was, his purpose and his belief.  It was written prior to his departure for the King’s Court in 433AD, and was chanted during the march.  The story goes that those waiting to kill him on his journey saw a gentle doe followed by twenty fawns, rather than St. Patrick and his companions, and his life was spared.

Today, reading this prayer reminds me that at all times and in all situations, my life is in complete immersion within the love of Christ.  With me, around me, to my right and my left, underfoot and above my head.  In all things, good and bad; in silence and within the great chorus of humanity. In those I call “friend,” and in those I’ve not yet met.

I visualize myself floating, completely surrounded – every inch of my aura being pressed in by Christ’s presence; pure light, pure love.  I like this vision, this vapor of love diffused and suspended in the air around me.  And maybe today – in honor of St. Patrick – it’s a beautiful Emerald Isle green.

Whatever your plans for today – celebrating your or someone else’s Irish heritage – or not – remember that you are surrounded by love.  Completely.

Blessings to you this day and every day!

16:

Serenity is reaching beyond surface appearances into inner truth, knowing God is working for my highest good.

This morning I looked up the difference between ‘serenity’ and ‘peace,’ to see if they have the same meaning.  They don’t, although I have always thought they were interchangeable.  Serenity is singular; it applies – let’s say for sake of argument – just to me.  It is the state of my being serene, calm or tranquil.  Peace, on the other hand, has more to do with relationship; aside from communities, it refers to peace between me and other people or groups, and especially applies to interpersonal relationships.

If I am at peace with others – my friends, my family, my neighbors – I can find serenity within myself.  “Peace be with you” suddenly takes on a little different meaning; in relationship, I offer peace to you, and you offer peace to me, and we walk away from each other serene, calm and tranquil.  Being alone and at peace, however, frames differently.  What comes to mind for me is this: If I’m in relationship with God, and if I believe that the Holy Spirit has taken residence within me, if I’m struggling with self, am I really struggling with relationship with Spirit? And when I come to terms with self – or Spirit – and come to peace with self – or Spirit, does serenity follow?

It would seem so, wouldn’t it?

Struggling with others is hard. I don’t like discord or confrontation.  But struggle doesn’t automatically mean that I won’t come to peace with other.  I can process and then accept another’s point of view; I don’t need to be in perfect harmony or adopt their view for myself.  I can accept where they’re at and how I feel about it, and then come to peace with them, allowing struggle to cease.  Relationship with other restored.

Struggling with self, however, can keep me up at night.  It colors my day. It puts shadow on everything I do until I come to peace with self and find serenity.  And I do like serenity.  Relationship with self restored.

Today’s affirmation is a meaty topic.  I need to sit a bit more with it and have a think, continue to process and then allow it to be released.  God and Holy Spirit are together working for my highest good, so I will be at peace with that, serene in my comings and goings.

Peace be with you – and may your being be flooded with serenity, calm and tranquility, on this beautiful Sunny Sunday.

15:

You do not need to know anything about this day beyond this moment.  And this moment is perfect . . . just as it is. Your higher power gives you all the strength you need today to handle whatever comes.

I woke up this morning thinking it would be a good idea to carry no expectation on what the day would bring. It was an Open Studio day today, which often carries self-imposed pressure about selling or not selling.  Being alone all day or having a visitor or two.  Instead, I decided I would carry on and do what I needed to do, and if people decided to come, they would come. And if not, I would get work done, and have another day of work behind me, graced by the presence of my guest artist and of OsKar the studio dog, and my space would be (slightly) more organized and cleaned up.

And the beauty of all of this was that I was living in the moment, I wasn’t stressed out.  I got to it early, clearing out the studio, setting up, preparing pieces for finishing.  I felt gratitude when the guest artist came.  And felt more gratitude when people came!

Guests showed up from Stillwater, Afton, Lonsdale, Annandale, Excelsior, CALIFORNIA, Maple Grove, Golden Valley and even St. Anthony!  Single and in pairs, they graced my studio and me with their presence.  There were no emergencies, the day simply flowed.  Great conversation, time well-spent getting to know people – and meeting their dogs – and just feeling really blessed to be hearing the purpose behind purchases, who I’ve been praying for, and learning about continued needs and how I can help.

I am glad I didn’t set myself up with expectation. I am glad that I allowed my Higher Power to give me the gift of those who moved in and out of my presence.  It was perfect.  And what’s really interesting is that I didn’t pull today’s affirmation until this evening, just before I sat down to write.  Seriously; how serendipitous is that?

And I prayed for you this morning before I opened my doors.  And I pray for you now: a full night’s rest, a peaceful heart – breathing in, exhaling out – sensing the presence of the Spirit.  Sleep well and sweet dreams.

14:

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Yesterday was an emotional roller-coaster kind of day.

I left Minneapolis for St. Joe and met up with Mary C Bruno of Bruno Press; Mary is an amazing letterpress artist, who had a gallery opening scheduled for last evening in St. Cloud. She was kind to take time for lunch and coffee and a business chat; what’s going well, what’s hard, Q1 blues.  Art shows, trade shows and possibility.  Life.  Then we went to her studio, a re-purposed garage filled with letterpress, posters, cards; all the stuff she needs to do what she does.  I was impressed; every inch is utilized, and she has created a space that holds everything she needs to follow her passion.  I was and am grateful for the time she gave me yesterday; she loves what she does and it shows. That’s “contagious good.”

I left Mary for the St. Scholastica Convent located on the southeastern edge of St. Cloud to visit Sister Verenice.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, it had been almost 40 years since I’d seen her, but her impact on me had left a lasting impression; I felt that I needed to see her and spend some time in her presence – whatever that would be like.

When our eyes met, I knew she didn’t know me and clearly had no recollection of our past.  A bit fearful at first, it was clear she was trying to grasp what a stranger wanted with her; in the hour and a half we had together, her dementia made it difficult for her to finish thoughts, find words and carry on a conversation.  But I wasn’t really there to converse; I was there simply to be present.  To say thank you.  To offer kindness – kindness to her through a visit, and kindness to myself through time being present with someone for whom I am grateful for knowing.

After our visit, I wheeled her to the chapel for prayers at 4:30pm and knelt down to say my goodbyes.  In our last moment together, she seemed lucid.  She placed her hands on my head in a blessing, caressed my cheek and told me that my eyes were “so bright and beautiful.”  It was the only full sentence she said yesterday.  What a gift; did she see in my eyes the same light that I had seen in her own 40 years before?

I’m still processing the day – the grounded visit with Bruno and then a visit where the veil between here and heaven is very thin.  Beauty was – and is –  everywhere.

Wherever you are and wherever you go today, I pray that you will experience mindful kindness, and beauty in the gift of now.

13:

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.  Edith Wharton

Today I am heading up to St. Cloud to sit with someone I haven’t seen in almost 40 years.  She is a nun with the Order of St. Benedict, and is now living out her days with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home run by the Order.  My mother would likely find it odd that I would be heading up to see someone I haven’t seen in that long; why is it necessary?  It’s necessary because of the impact her light had on me. I don’t feel guilty that it’s been that long, but I do admit that I have been remiss in not seeing her sooner or more often.

I met her when I was 18 years old; in thinking on our first meeting, it’s kind of funny.  She had been chosen by the Order to set up an informational table to answer questions about entering the convent.  If the Order was a business and I were running it, she may have been the last person I’d have chosen to do such a thing.  She was painfully shy and quiet.

But the Order isn’t exactly a business, and I think that the Mother Superior knew just what she was doing by selecting Sister V. to represent them.

As quiet and unassuming as she was, there was this undeniable JOY.  LIGHT.  What was it that made her shine?  I wanted to know, so I got to know her.  We talked.  A lot.  Life in the convent was hard.  Her days were spent cleaning and cooking and garden-tending. She worked with her hands, she cared for elderly sisters in the sick ward.  Rough hands, long days, but she still emanated JOY.

I obviously didn’t join the novitiate, but I did find peace that year.  Through her example, I let go of trying to control everything, let God into my heart, and found Grace.  I am so thankful for her part in that.

Today is likely to be the last I will see her in this lifetime, and she may not even remember who I am, but I’ll never forget her and the impact her radiant light had on me.

I pray that my light might shine for others to see, that Grace might work through me to offer joy, and light, and peace.  And I pray the same for you – that you find it if you haven’t yet and, that, once found, you spread it.  Joy and peace and happiness on your journey.

12:

When your conscious mind wants to give up, reach for that healthy, loving part deep within yourself and with the help of prayer and meditation and the good people in your life, you will find a rainbow.

Prayer and meditation?  So difficult and one of the most challenging things I’ve ever worked on.

The affirmation above acknowledges that I want to just go back to bed and leave the world outside. That challenges are overwhelming.  That I need to self-preserve – stop the madness.  However, it also pushes me to keep plugging away at prayer and meditation. It encourages me to rely on the help of those I love and who love me.

For the last five years I have been on a journey trying to better understand how to pray.  Retreats. Pastoral meetings. Interrogating others to find out how they communicate with God.  Hammering away at finding out the secret to prayer. Somewhere along the line I finally let go of trying so hard.  I let go of the concept of difficulty and simply allowed myself to become immersed in the presence of God / Higher Power / Divine.

“Words are not needed. We do not even need to kneel. All we need to do is to realize we are in the presence of God and offer Him our minds and hearts as receptive instruments.” (Holy Island, James W. Kennedy)

I can do that.

For a moment, I can be still  – mind, body, spirit.  I can open myself up to God’s presence, and to those good people who surround me.  Today I will pray that you find a moment to realize that you are in the presence of God, and in finding that moment, that you will find a rainbow.  Blessings, all!

11:

Use the tools in your toolbox.

This morning I used the “rest” tool in my toolbox (note the timing of this posting . . . ).  And that’s ok.  I gave myself permission to rest and just, well, rested.

What are some of my other tools? Patience, compassion, respect, balance, active listening, smarts, humor, empathy, intuition (to name a few).  The beauty of using the tools in my toolbox is that I am a kinder, gentler person; I know what I need and I stand up for it; I am tuned in to others and their needs so that I can better help them.  I am not a doormat; quite the opposite – I am an open door, welcoming others to enter into a two-way relationship, offering what I can to reach a place of peace and comfort.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my niece and her family.  The 4 children range in age from 3 to 11.  It is clear after spending several hours with them that she and her husband are developing strong, independent people, helping them learn to listen to each other, to hold back reaction and to process before acting, to think about how they feel and how their actions or reactions affect each other.  To tell other when their feelings have been hurt and to work out how to move forward from sadness or anger.  To apologize.  To be creative in their thinking and in their actions.  To be good, productive and honest people.

I came away amazed.  Six people live in that household and they like each other.  They laugh a lot.  They celebrate each other’s victories and talk out problems.  They work together, using the “tools in their toolboxes” to help each other creatively solve problems in order to make their lives better.  Life there is gentle control, not iron-fisted rule.  It’s collaboration, not competition.

If a 3-year old has developed enough intuition to sense the hurt of a sibling to say, “I love you,” what are the possibilities for the mending and balancing and kindnesses WE can do, using the tools in our toolboxes?

Looking forward to finding out.  Hoping you might be, too.  Blessings on this gentle day.

10:

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Reading the above, it strikes me that there are steps.  The first is time.  Taking time.  Offering any of the above takes 1) the time to make an observation and then 2) the time to follow-through on that observation with an action.  Not enough to just see, my eyes need to be open to observe what I can do for other and then to act upon that observation.

How many times has the smallest act brightened my day?  Acknowledgment of my existence, when I have felt invisible, has changed my outlook completely.  Others offering encouragement has raised my spirits and helped me to keep on with the business of keeping on.  A touch of hand to shoulder has reconnected me with other when I’ve felt lost.  The simplest acts can speak volumes.

During meditation this morning, I asked God what turns in the road there would be for me this week, knowing instinctively that there are going to be some surprises.  Like a kid in a candy shop, I admit that I get excited about possibility.  Knowing that I always have a choice – even with strangers – what will I do?  Will I act on an observance or be still?  Acting places me in a vulnerable position, but that is really the call; TO ACT.  To do.  To offer.  To touch.

Within me lies the power to possibly turn a life around. What a privilege I’ve been given to see and then to do.

As the sky changes from dark to light, I pray that we will both be brave enough to take time to observe and then act – and once done, step away and hope for transformation.  Blessings on the possibilities that come your way today.

9:

This is your time for JOY! Know that it is here and now.

As a Christian, my first thought is, “It’s Lent. Time for sackcloth and ashes, a focus on living with less is more, some denial thrown in for good measure to ensure that I feel ‘Lenten’.” This affirmation doesn’t make sense for NOW. As a matter of fact, I was chastising myself for starting a Lenten devotional and, within the first week, managing to not get on it; three days behind (you do the math) and Lent has just begun!

To make up on my less-than-stellar commitment to this daily devotional, I grabbed the book this morning, found a little peaceful spot and caught up. Lo and behold, here is an excerpt from this morning’s reading:

“Let our avowed intent this Lent be to fast from over-criticalness, from self-pity, from ill-temper, from resentment, from jealousy, from pride, from selfishness, from faithless fears, from worldly anxieties, and from whatever else dwarfs and hurts the soul. For such fasting leads to feasting on praise, on JOY, on peace, on contentment, on love, on humility, on service, on faith.” (From Holy Island by James W. Kennedy.)

What a marvelous concept. What a liberation! To rethink Lent; to claim joy. To move my thoughts from things that “dwarf and hurt my soul” to things that cause my soul to rejoice, to love; things that bring me contentment, peace and a revival of faith. Imagine that – and all of a sudden, the world is a better place, beginning with me.

Regardless your religious background and whether or not Lent is a part of your practice, let us fast from all those things that hurt our souls and move, instead, to feasting on those things that create joy – because it’s here and available – right now – with just a change in thought.

Blessings on your Sunday – on those you love and on those with whom you seek time today. And may you find joy and peace, love and contentment. It’s yours – and mine – with just a little shift in thinking.

8:

Feel good!  Like yourself – right now, right where you are.

Right this minute, I’m sitting and waiting for the show to open at 10am.

When I left home this morning, it was just after 5am. I looked a bit washed out; tired. I prayed that the drive and a little bit of exercise loading in would brighten my eyes and cheeks – thankfully so, it did!

This helps me to like the outward me, but what about the inward me? The one that interacts with each person I meet, telling the story of doilies and tats, prayer and purpose?

I want to represent my life’s work the best I can – I pray that people see in me a light that comes from a love that surpasses all understanding. A light that comes from a belief in forgiveness, compassion, love and service to others because of the grace freely given to me.

I like that me. I like the me that tells the stories. That readily admits being in love with a God that loves me. The me that is called to love others because God loved me first.

For you today, I pray for liking yourself – not just loving, but liking!  See the beauty within that your lover or best friend sees – and allow it to SHINE!

Blessings – and good sunglasses!

7:
It is okay to place myself first sometimes.  It is not selfish, it is not rude.  It is taking care of me because I love me.

Some days it’s self-preservation. Other days it’s knowing what I need and allowing myself to ask for and gratefully receive.

In relationship, it is necessary to love self first in order to love other.  I cannot FULLY love others without fully loving myself; from that place of self-love and care, I can extend myself and meet others where they are, offering my full attention, love, care and compassion.

If I don’t take good care of me, center myself and come from a place of balance, how can I help others? Things are off-kilter; something’s not “quite right.”  Being off-center lessens my authenticity, others sense my imbalance and I become less effective in all I try to do.

How do I place myself first?

Through prayer and meditation.  Through self-reflection and positive action.  By acknowledging my needs and asking for help in getting them met. Once accomplished, I can center, balance, meet others where they are at, help them if they need it.  And around and around and around we go.

It’s a good reminder to love myself.  I hope that you are loving you, today; allowing yourself the time you need to find what you need, ask for it (if necessary) and gratefully receive it.  Be it from friend, partner, or work mate, take good care of you; you’re the only you there is.  Blessings on your day – may the sun shine brightly in your heart!

6:

I am COMPASSION.

When I think about an affirmation like this one, I imagine myself full to the brim and spilling over – so much so that there is compassion everywhere (or love or joy or grace or . . . ) – first filling all my empty spaces, forcing its way into the nooks and crannies of my being and then – flowing out of me like a gushing geyser – spreading to every one and every thing with whom or which I come in contact.

Imagine that. Imagine being so filled with compassion that you are right there, in the moment, in the situation, in the NOW of loving, being compassionate, filling a need. Compelled to offer your compassion without reservation.

How do I keep that in the forefront of my mind as I go about my day today? The best way I know is to meet people where they are. To look into them, not with pity or a sense of sorrow, but rather with the eyes of love. Maybe it’s taking the time to listen, offer an observance, or maybe it’s as simple as treating them the way I want to be treated. Offering compassion if necessary, being respectful and loving and kind if not.

Yesterday I felt compassion through many responses on Facebook to my affirmation post. People put up photos of their pups, offering love through encouraging words. Thank you, all, for meeting my need. For understanding. For offering compassion and kindness and love and grace.

Ain’t life grand? Ain’t you amazing? I think so.

Blessings on your day, and on the lives of those you touch today with your amazing, beautiful, overflowing compassion that simply cannot be contained.

5:

What you think, speak and write determine your path. Focus positively on how you think, speak and write in order to have a positive path.

OsKar is our great Great Dane. He is intuitive (as are all animals) and very stoic, although every once in a while he does get a bit excited, especially when our mailman comes (treat in hand) and friends show up. People that know OsKar have described him as “magical” and almost-human; which I think is true. He is calming and a wonderful specimen of a beast. Unfortunately, his great heart and beautiful spirit are failing.

I’m writing this because I’ve been processing. Walking around the house in a sad way, I’ve been looking at him pityingly; like he’s taking his last breath. I’m done with that as of RIGHT NOW. Believing he can sense how I feel, my sadness and distress, I am changing my outlook. I am going to enjoy him as he is, how he is, without placing this pall of sadness over us.

If what I think, speak and write determine my path, and if I want my path to be positive, I will take joy in our walks; I will take joy in our exchanges, sniffs and ear-scratches. I will be encouraging. I will fully enjoy our time together rather than allow time to be tinged with sadness. Sadness will come later.

I will choose to believe in the power of positive thinking, speaking and writing. In the power of healing, harmony and peace. In the power of a love that is bigger than life. And for me, today – and tomorrow – I will choose to live happily with a Great Dane that is living the last of his marvelous life with me.

Light and life and positive thoughts go out from me to you. Blessings as you go about spreading your light, life and positive thoughts to the others you encounter on your path this day. And tomorrow. And the next.

4:

Practice Todayfulness.

I found this one at a frame / card / cute stuff shop I love, Mitrebox Framing Studio.  I have lots of things on my to-do list today, and they include making some special pieces as well as a few studio visits.  How does “practice todayfulness” fit into my list and my visits?

I believe the action required is to be mindful and fully present in each movement, action, interaction.  To fully immerse myself in what I’m doing – making whatever it is, or whomever I’m with, the priority; the focus.  Todayfulness is also a reminder to think only on what can be done today. Not to worry about past “learning opportunities” and not to worry about what might – or might not – happen tomorrow.

Intention. Listening. Seeing with new eyes.  All these (and more, to be sure) are a part of practicing todayfulness.

I am excited about today’s possibilities – I have six slabs waiting to be made into something, a magical beast that’s willing to spend the day with me, people stopping by to interact – it will be glorious!  I am grateful for the day, for what it will bring, and for what I might do to add to its beauty.

I will pray for healing, harmony and peace for you and yours, that your today is immersed in goodness, positive intention, graceful interaction and gratitude.  Blessings, all, on everything you do today!

3:

When you hear the message to rest, do it.

Not exactly a Nike ad, is it? Do, do, do. Get this done, get that done. Deadlines for taxes, deadlines for show applications, deadlines for, well, just about everything. And if the deadline isn’t set by someone or something else, I set it for myself.

This last weekend was full of a lot of “do’s” and not enough “don’ts.” Actually, that could be said for the whole week. After a lot of running during the week and a 14-hour show day on Saturday, my body let me know that it had had enough, and I had to listen to it crab all day yesterday and into the wee hours last night. Why?

I love doing. I love going. I love being with family, friends and meeting new customers. I need to work a bit on the balancing act, though, and ensure that I listen to my body and my intuition when they tell me, “Rest.”

Not just physically, I am called to rest mentally and emotionally, too. In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus calls us to, ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . . you will find rest for your souls.” Maybe I need to stop, be still and listen to both my body and God’s call to rest.

A good reminder, thank you very much. I have a lot to do today, but imagine we all pretty much do, don’t we? I will make my list, cross off the “done deals” and move forward, pay a little closer attention and actively seek some rest here and there as I need. I will pray the same for you – after all, it is just Monday.

Blessings on your week!!! And let us find ourselves some quiet time to rest.

2:

Nurture your self-esteem.  Bathe it in love and care and positive messages.

Similar to nurturing newly sprouted plantings, snuggling a newborn baby close to my chest, loving up that pup that’s been with me for enough years that he’s now old and gray – whatever the vision, can I nurture, love and care for my self-esteem in the same way? How often do I kiss the dog as I walk by? Scratch him behind the ear and tell him I love him?  Run my hand down his back, playfully but gently pull his tail, loving him up and letting him know he’s a good boy?  Pretty often, and it surely seems his self-esteem is intact.

Self-esteem, self-respect, self-confidence, personal dignity, self-worth; call it what you will.  I find it much easier to build up someone else, easily listing all the reasons they should hold themselves in high esteem and feel good about themselves.  Why, then, do I have trouble finding the same in myself?  I need to change that – see me in the same loving and caring light, offering myself the love and care and positive messaging that I give others.

All right, then, I WILL.  I will change my attitude about self.  I will nurture; I will see myself as worthy of the same love and care I give others.  I will bathe myself gently in the warmth of positive messaging, allowing myself to feel more self-respect, confidence, dignity and worth.

How about you?

Let’s offer ourselves the nurturing, loving, caring and positive messaging we give others.  Let’s allow ourselves to fully love the “we” that we are.  Aren’t we worth it?

Blessings on you, yours and the beautiful “we’s” that are possible, with just a little bit of positive messaging, nurturing, love and care.

1:

Search out the best in all your relationships, and look for something you can love in everyone.

This calls me to go beyond my circle of loved ones; moving out to neighbors, people in the neighborhood shops, strangers that I meet on the street, at the studio, at the shows at which I vend. What do I find beyond the first impression? What can I seek out to love in someone I don’t even know?

Maybe an appreciation for their vulnerability; maybe noticing a quirky little tic that shows their uniqueness; maybe looking beyond their crabbiness to search out their pain. It all can be done in a moment – reading someone else, realizing that I can choose to love someone and enter into relationship with them in an instant.

Today, as I meet new people who are searching for answers, I can offer them God’s love, hope and comfort, in the form of an angel or cross, prayers attached. I can offer them love and spiritual companionship through prayer. And I will.

I hope for you today the opportunity to seek out the best in all you meet and the ability to offer them love – easy peasy. In the split of a second.

Warmth and blessings on your day!!

February:

28:

Be willing to let go of all your fear in order to find out what is real in your life.  Take whatever comes without judgment. You are ready to release all resistance and struggle to find the good and truth within yourself.

Fear.  Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Fear of falling. Fear of diagnosis. Fear of rejection. Fear of losing. Fear of winning. Fear of being hurt. Fear of telling a truth. Fear of being still.  Fear of being me. Fear of ?

What if I let go? What happens if I turn over all idea of control, and allow fear to wash over me, through me, past me? And if I do all of that, do I get to look back and see that working through the fear has made me stronger?

Yes.  A thousand times yes.  Because life is for living, not for standing still, not for being overcome by fear, not for stopping in my tracks.  It is for living. For moving forward. For moving through. For making progress. For finding strength.  And even if I need to go outside of myself and ask for help to work through my fear, I am allowed that. I find goodness in that.  I find comfort in that. I find love in that.

I always have a choice. And one of those choices is that, if I cannot “do it alone,” I can ask for someone’s hand in helping me through, conquering my fear, and giving them the opportunity to share their love and knowledge.

Today, whatever makes me fearful, I give it over. I ask for help if I need it. I will find goodness in doing so, and truth in doing so, and will love myself for being brave enough to do so.  I pray the same for you.  Blessings on your day, your night, your sleeping, your comings and your goings.  Blessings on YOU.

27:

“When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” Gautama Buddha

Well, now; isn’t that ironic?  “HEY, NINA – WAKE UP!”  This is an affirmation calling me to acknowledge how all things – good, bad, otherwise – have fit together to bring me into a time, place and space where things are pretty much perfect.

And I can still find joy amid sorrow. I can find joy in the freezing wind. In the broken washing machine, in the downed internet.  Because although there is now sorrow, there has been much joy. And although the winds are chilling, soon will come the summer breezes that are so refreshing. And a broken washer and downed internet give me a little more time to do some things I’ve been putting off.

Head back, I laugh joyfully at the perfection and beauty of my now. I will pray the same for you, today.  Blessings!

26:

I am grateful for the fullness of my life.  I will seek to see the fullness I have been blessed with, and I will be grateful.

What exactly is fullness?  How do I measure it?  On what do I place value in relationship to fullness?

I am a “glass half full” person.  It’s rare for me to be pessimistic, and it usually only happens when there’s some other niggling bit that’s unsettled.  Changes in my life that have led to how I live now has been a lesson in simplicity. I’ve had to rethink “fullness.”  I’ve learned that I don’t have to have a lot of money in the bank, that I can live perfectly well with the boots I have, that God gives me the beauty of the now every day in which to revel.  I’ve traded in fancy clothes for Goodwill buys that are perfect for claywork, and I get pretty excited over a $6 pair of jeans.

We just finished my office (the paint is still drying).  I say “we” very loosely here, as I think the only thing I did was to hold a light fixture during an install.  It’s newly sheetrocked, hand-finished with texturing, painted a sunny yellow and the light was a $20 find off of Craig’s List.  We found some old curtains in our stash that may not be exactly what I’d want if I could afford to go buy new, but they perfectly fit my needs.  Soon enough, it will be full of the things that have been taking up room on the dining table, and we’ll again be eating where we’re supposed to be eating.  I’m so pleased with how things turned out, and I feel the fullness of satisfaction in a job well done out of love, that perfectly meets my needs.

My point is, I think fullness is a state of mind where I am pleased and satisfied with what I have, not looking to what I haven’t.  It’s being grateful for the those things that make my life truly wonderful – my family and my friends, mini-concerts at the end of each church service, the warmth of my studio, satisfaction in my work.  Feeling blessed, feeling gratitude.  Knowing that it’s not the stuff, but rather how I feel about and frame what I do have, that creates the fullness, the blessings and the gratitude.

Praying fullness, warmth and revelation for you and me in the beauty of the today we’ve been given.

25:

I am connected with everyone and everything in the Universe.

We all look at the same sun. The same moon.  Our viewpoint might be different, but the object of our view is the same.  Thinking about that, it creates a smaller universe for me.  I already know that the world is getting smaller and smaller every day, through technology and travel.  And as a believer in “six degrees of separation,” everyone and everything in the world is six or fewer steps away (by way of introduction) from me.

I am connected to everyone and everything in the Universe. Acting on that premise, if I treat others with kindness and compassion, their next interaction with someone else has the potential to be full of kindness and compassion, and so on and so on.  It’s possible; so why not operate on the assumption that it will be that way and purposefully go about the day with that attitude?

Having the ability to affect such change gives me a lot of power. I will mindfully recognize my connection with everyone and everything, and remember that my actions have consequence – I can positively affect others through kindness and compassion, genuinely and authentically.

Blessings on you, your connections, your kindness and compassion, and our Universe today!  I will pray that your interactions will be positively consequential.  And at 10PM tonight, I’ll be looking at the moon – will I be seeing you?

24:

Today’s Affirmation:

Sometimes the Lord calms the storm; sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.

Not just storms within nature, but what of the emotional and spiritual storms surrounding me or that I carry inside? Storms that cause me imbalance and anxiousness.  If I walk the talk, I have to step out in trust that God will care for me, whether surrounded or storming internally.  Sometimes I am called to do some “personal work” and have to come to terms with things I cannot control and simply accept where I am.

Summer storms and their intensity are a reminder that there is something BIGGER out there – that I’m not in control – and sometimes I get scared.  The shear power of the thunder and lightening, the cracks and rumbles that shake the windows and seem to move the house!  Beyond the fear, though, as the storm abates – still rumbling and cracking and lightening, but moving away – the calm begins to take over and I find peace.

Whatever may come my way today, I will trust that God will take care and calm the storm – or calm me.  And as I go about my work, I will pray the same for you – peace and calm amidst the storm.

23:

When you find a person you wish to marry, remember this: You will know what kind of person they are not by the things they say, but by the things they do.

What is at the heart of “things they do” that creates a desire to cherish someone for a lifetime?  Is it the things they do, or is it the intent?  I believe intent IS the heart; doing for the greater good, acting out of love, out of selflessness.  Doing for the other because to not act would be, well, just not right.  Doing intentional loving acts behind the scenes, where I don’t see, but where I am pleasantly surprised when I discover what’s been done.

I have finally found home.  Home in a loving, kind, compassionate and safe environment.  A place where I can just be, with someone who loves me in an intentional way.  Acting out of love. Doing for me because it’s the heart’s desire to make my life better.  Selfless; kind.  Love that is restless until we are both home, where we come together after a long day, take a deep breath, relax and rest in each other and in knowing that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.  Rejoicing and pinching ourselves because we’re here and it’s GOOD.

I know that some of you have had this kind of love and have suffered its loss. Some are still searching.  Some are content with being alone.  Whatever your circumstance, stand in gratitude for the happiness that you have found wherever you are.

My prayer today – for all of us – is that we act with selfless intent, making the world a better place.  God’s peace, God’s love, and God’s light.

22:

What is on my GRATITUDE list today?

I’m going to start with:

– safe travel from MSP to Black River Falls.

Then –

– my daughter, who thanked me early this morning for warm childhood memories of Vivaldi and The Four Seasons,

– my partner, who called to make sure I made it to my destination safely and who shows daily love that surpasses my simple understanding,

– friendships – long-term and those I am just getting to know,

– hot coffee and MPR on my road trip . . .

The list could go on and on, from the smallest things to those things that have made significant impact on my life. If I live in gratitude for all things, trusting that God is working for my good, then even if something doesn’t SEEM good, I have to continue to place my trust in God’s promise.

So – gratefully I sit here, with the people I’m to be with today, within the space and place I’ve been put, hoping to spread God’s message, one angel, one cross at a time.

Blessings on your day, safe travel and a day FULL of things for which you find yourself grateful.

21:

Every tomorrow has two handles.  It is our choice to take hold of tomorrow with the handle of of anxiety or the handle of faith.

The unknown.  How I choose to frame what I don’t know creates my reality in terms of how I feel, how I react, how I move about my day.

I’m scheduled to leave town at 5AM tomorrow morning to travel to mid-Wisconsin for a show, not knowing what the roads east will be like (Minnesota/Wisconsin just got dumped with 6-12″ of snow, just in case you missed it).  I have (for the sake of today’s post) two options:

1) I can worry that the winds will create blowing snow, blocking my vision and creating dangerous driving conditions, in turn making me feel anxious about even leaving Minneapolis – OR

2) I can choose to have faith that the plows will have done their job, the travel will be easy, my car will make the trip just fine, I will be surrounded by angels and will make it back and forth safely. Whew! That seems better.

But what about the dig-down-deeper unknown of what all of my tomorrows might (or might not) bring?  Worry about my life on a visceral level – the kind of worry that can cause me to have a sleepless night.  I can choose to consume my thoughts with things that create mounds of anxiety, or I can choose to turn my worries over to God and trust – have faith – that I have been given all I need to manage all that comes my way.

It’s not just a matter of optimism.  It’s not just a matter of being oblivious to the possibility of harsh realities.  It’s a choice.  It’s choosing to grab onto tomorrow faithfully, knowing that whatever is in store for me, I’m golden.  I’m covered. I’m safe.

As we work through our day today, I will pray for you – and for me – that we can lose the anxiety of what might be, and instead have faith that what might be will be golden.

20:

Today’s Affirmation:

“The best way out is always through.” Robert Frost

When I consider a problem and would prefer either to put off dealing with it or pretend that it doesn’t exist, it simply looms that much larger on my horizon.  Kind of like Pig Pen’s cloud.  There constantly, following me everywhere I go. Niggling at my peace of mind.

Facing my challenges head-on, whatever they may be, is hard.  It means I may have to  process something I’d rather ignore, face a bigger issue, or admit to some weakness which isn’t very palatable.

However, in working “best is always through” in a timely way, good feelings come and restoration of peace follows.  I am proud of myself; pleased that I have managed to come up with a solution and can feel the positive impact of doing what needed to be done.

Mountains or molehills, or molehills turned into mountains, taking a deep breath, bracing myself to move forward – and then DOING IT – is satisfying and I become a solution to a problem rather than an enabler.

And I’d much rather empower than enable; wouldn’t we all?

What molehill or mountain will I have to face today?  Looking at the weather report, snow is on the list.  Beyond that, I prepare myself to face the day, readying myself to push through the challenges, eventually coming out so much better on the other side.

Wishing you peace and positive thoughts today . . . whatever way your path leads – visualizing you working your way through, passing with flying colors.

19:

You were born perfect.  Hold onto that thought.  See yourself as that perfect child.  Own that vision.  Love yourself just the way you are.  God doesn’t make mistakes.

“You were born perfect . . . God doesn’t make mistakes.”  We are all born into the reality of the “we” that we are; regardless my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual flaws, to me this means that God sees me as beautiful. Perfectly made. Loving me where I am, as I am.  Can I see myself that way?

When I am less than I should be, with uncharitable thoughts, weaknesses, verbally unkind, how is it that God sees me as perfectly made?  Is it, possibly, similar to the way I see my daughter and my granddaughters?  I know that there is something here or something there that isn’t completely “perfect” – by humanity’s standards – yet the love that I have for them transcends any imperfection, and I see them in the light of that wonderfully beautiful transcendent love.

When I am down on myself, upset with some stupidity I’ve managed, maybe I need to step back and forgive myself and accept the vision of the affirmation – I need to see myself through God’s eyes – through God’s transcendent light – accepting that God sees me as perfectly made, loving me just as I am.

So how does that work today?  Unshowered, a bit unkempt, waiting for the repairman to show up.  In that state, however, God sees me writing and working – doing what I’m supposed to be doing for today – a vision of His perfection.  And I am gratefully, gratefully, gratefully so.

Blessings on your day – on seeing your perfect self in God’s transcendent love, light and through His marvelously forgiving eyes.

18:

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.

This seems to be a “just be” affirmation for me – at first glance.  However, it is, rather, a call to action.  It forces me to consider my impression on others and to do my best to place my best foot forward in every encounter I have – good AND bad.  It reinforces the deeper idea of kindness – not the “just-be-nice” kindness, but rather the truly benevolent, human, generous, charitable, sympathetic, compassionate, tender, good turn kind of kindness.  The kind of kindness that sometimes is really difficult to give when the situation is hard or I’m in a place where I’m feeling less than gracious.

If I look to historical figures for examples, there are four right off the top of my head: Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Ram Dass.  Bigger-than-life deep, extravagant, willing-to-give-all examples of love and kindness toward ALL.  We are surrounded by less “public” examples – the listeners, those who go the extra mile, those who assist the homeless, the less fortunate, the hungry, the disenfranchised,  and the poor.  Deeply kind, day-in, day-out.  All for the love of humanity, hoping that those they touch will leave better and happier.

How do I do all I can today to ensure that those I touch – even if only for a moment – leave better and happier for having interacted with me?  As I go about my day, I will think about those with whom I have interacted who have helped ME leave “better and happier.”  And then I will spread that kindness and do my part in making this world a better place.  One person – one interaction – at a time.

May we all have a better-and-happier, living-expression-of-kindness kind of day.  Blessings on yours.

17:

God enters by a private door into every individual.

As the snow falls outside, I’m reminded that if I look at each flake, every one is different from the other.  Faith is like that; it’s very personal, and each of us carries within ourselves a faith that is one-of-a-kind, shaped by our earliest experiences within – or without – religion.

Raised a Catholic, church-going was an every-Sunday excursion until I entered first grade; then for the next ten years, nine months out of the year it was a six-day-a-week event.  And although I had all of this churching, and although I truly believe that the seed of faith was placed within me at baptism, it wasn’t until I was in college that I actually had my own personal private-door “grace experience.”  By that I mean a revelation – a revolution – an understanding between my head knowledge and my heart that I was called to enter into a personal relationship with God.

I have friends that practice all manners of spirituality – each has their own “private door.”  Some are into Eastern philosophy, some mainstream religion, some practice in nature.  Some are searching to figure out how faith and God even fit into their lives.  The beauty of this is that God meets us where we are – yearning to have relationship with us in the way that best speaks to our hearts.  The greater wonder of this is that we are all allowed to choose relationship – or not.

There is another affirmation that goes well with today’s – “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”  My prayer today is that I can see others without judgment – to accept them where they’re at with their faith journey – and to celebrate their search.

Wishing you all peace and contentment today – wherever you are and in whatever you do.

16:

Guard well within yourself that treasure: Kindness.  Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.

The dictionary says that kindness is:

  1. the state or quality of being kind: kindness to animals.
  2. a kind act; favor: his many kindnesses to me.
  3. kind behavior: I will never forget your kindness.
  4. friendly feeling; liking.

These seem a bit, well, light.  As though kindness is just “being nice.”  Just meet the surface needs; don’t dig down, don’t go the extra mile.  Those definitions aren’t BIG enough, deep enough.  However, if I look to the synonyms –  benignity, benevolence, humanity, generosity, charity, sympathy, compassion, tenderness, good turn – these seem so much more BIG; so much more RICH; so much more DEEP.

Today’s affirmation claims kindness is a treasure.  A TREASURE.  Precious. Valuable. Highly-prized.  How do I share MY treasure?  How do I give when there is a need?  What is my attitude when I don’t get what I want?  Do I collaborate with others in order to gain what I need, or am I aggressive and impatient?

I need to amp up the kindness factor.  I need to see kind actions as gifts – spreading the love – sharing the wealth.  I want to become more generous, more charitable, more compassionate and tender.  I want the kindness to be big, and rich, and deep.

I wish for you extravagant kindness from others; the kind of kindness that lets you know how incredibly loved you are; the kind that meets not just your surface needs, but also your deeper, vulnerable, inside needs.  And I so wish that maybe I can share a kindness with you from my treasure chest.  Hmmm.  It almost sounds like grace.

Sleep well.

15:

There are no mistakes; only learning opportunities.

My life has been like living nine lives.  I’ve taken both wide and sharp turns, whipped a few 180’s and, sometimes feel like there’s NO WAY (!!!) I’m almost 56 – I still feel 28.  But wait – at 28 I had a two-year old who is almost 30 now. I’ve been divorced three times.  I’ve had more career changes than most people my age. The reality is that I have lived a lot of life in (almost) 56 years, I’m still learning and I’m still processing this idea of looking at some of life’s detours as mistakes versus learning opportunities.  Which is it?  Well . . .

If I’m feeling down on myself, maybe I won’t agree with this affirmation.  Maybe I’ll see it as some sort of attempt to assuage some guilt for taking some very interesting, off-road trails.  And some of those off-road trails have definitely been mistakes.

OR –

If I’m feeling positive, I’m all-in.  You bet – no mistakes. Only learning opportunities.  I am who I am because of the experiences and so I cannot frame them as mistakes – because that WOULD be a mistake.

However –

If I’m honest, I’ve been both.  I’ve seen – on first glance – decisions I’ve made in the past as huge mistakes.  But in thinking about them and the consequence of those decisions, I reverse my view and see that I’m looking at those decisions incorrectly.  Those decisions have made me who I am, and who I am is not the result of a bunch of mistakes.  It’s the result of taking a hit here or there, learning from it, and making my life better.

There are no mistakes; only learning opportunities.  And, sometimes, on the road we travel, we are lucky enough to receive forgiveness, understanding, and maybe even redemption.  And from where I’m sitting, all three are pretty amazing.  So I’m glad for the learning opportunities, and I’m glad I’ve got a group of people that love me regardless.  Oh how my heart of heart wishes you the same.  Blessings on your sleeping tonight – and on your tomorrow – and here’s to lots more learning opportunities.

14:
Stop for a moment and think LOVE. Let those feelings pour over you. Love is YOURS. Whatever you choose to think, to feel, to have, to be, is yours – whenever you choose it.

Love is available to me every day, in every moment – my choice either to feel it or share it. Letting it wash over me, soaking into my pores, piercing my heart, radiating through my being.

I open my eyes and my heart to see where love presents opportunity – to me, through me, through others to me and through others to others. Circles and ripples. Love spreads through simple acts of kindness and concern and caring; it doesn’t have to be showy and grandiose. Just genuine.

Although there have been a lot of moments in my life where love has seemed removed – through loss, divorce, discord with family or friends – it’s always been there. Love, through some form or another, within or without, has been and always will be with me.

Mother love. Father love. Sibling love. First love. Friendship love. Romantic love. Divine love. Love that surpasses all understanding. Dog, cat, bird and plain old animal love.

However love presents itself to you, let it be yours. Today and every day.
Think, breathe, share, choose – love.

13:

Sometimes, thinking “What would Scooby Doo?” lightens the load.

It isn’t really necessary to expound on this affirmation; it sort of is what it is, isn’t it?  After years of seeing “What Would Wellstone Do?” and WWJD? bumper stickers, I was slowly making my way in morning rush hour and saw a car with “What Would Scooby Doo?” pasted on the rear panel; it made me laugh out loud – a totally opposite reaction from the other two stickers.

I’m not disrespecting the other two stickers.  It’s just that life is so often SO SERIOUS.  We’re all impacted by the toughness of life; that’s the way it is.  Difficulties in relationships, at work, with money.  Death and dying.  Frustrations with unfulfilled expectations.  Molehills that turn into mountains.  Too much work making Jack a dull boy (or Jill a dull girl).

Thinking “What would Scooby Doo?” offers a moment of respite amidst crazy.  It gives me a chance to pause and laugh, relaxing my body and offering me a chance to take a deep breath.  It lightens the load.

Today, I wish for you a moment of respite; a deep breath.  If you find yourself in an emotional pickle, take a second and say, “Ruh-roh.”  And have a smile.  Because I have a sneaking suspicion that that’s probably what Scooby’d do.

Abundant blessings (and some load lightening) today!!

12:

Everywhere I turn, I know I am being supported by powerful, positive energy.  I am finding love and support wherever I go.

I walk down the street, imagining circles and wisps of energy wrapped around me, lifting me up and through the snowbanks, across the icy paths, safely from and to home, OsKar in tow.

OsKar has been energized by the walk – he has led the charge into the house, pranced into the living room and takes his place on the couch to shake off the chill.  I enter, too, and am immediately warmed by the positive energy emanating from the entryway, oranges and reds and the smell of patchouli and bergamot, colors and scents that comfort me and help me leave the cold at the door.

In my work, I use handmade tatting, doilies and laces made by customers’ mothers, aunts, sisters, grandmothers.  Believing that energy is constantly moving, I believe that each piece has these women’s energy embedded within – their energy transferred in the making.  As I touch the clay to make my angels, my own energy transfers as well, embedding itself into the pieces I make.  This is how I send out my own powerful, positive, loving and supportive energy to customers and their loved ones.

I can’t see it, but I believe it.  I trust it.  I FEEL it.

Today I wish for you the knowing that you are loved and supported by positive energy – from friends, family and the Spirit.  I wish you energized joy on your day’s journey!

11:

Make some space for others so you can be blessed by their love, support and energy.

Today’s affirmation is a nudge to me regarding making time.  In my life, it’s most often time that is the space that needs to be made so that I can be blessed, loved, supported and energized.

After a full morning’s work yesterday, I went to a friend’s home for lunch.  This friend is no ordinary friend (none of mine are, actually).  Almost 87 years young, she’s a pioneer in many ways.  Cutting-edge; a spitfire of a woman; more energy than people half her age; ideas flow through her head like a bubbling brook.  I treasure my one-on-one time with her because it’s precious time, in terms of both time carved out of our schedules and cramming life into our lives before we can’t.

After lunch, she went to her bedroom, grabbed two pillows, came back to the dining room and asked if I wanted to lay in the sun.  Kind of a wacky question in Minnesota in the middle of winter, but I kind of like wacky and I was in. So we hunkered down onto the floor of her living room and basked in the warmth of the streaming sun and talked. For a couple of hours.  Like a couple of kids at a sleepover.  It was wonderful.

Making space with her yesterday afforded me several things – a blessing, to be sure, but also time immersed in her love, support and energy.  A wonderful memory of time and space spent on a warm carpeted living-room beach.  How often do I allow myself the luxury of an open-ended afternoon of just enjoying the company of another?  Not often enough.  How about you?

My nudge to you today is to allow yourself the time and space for someone who will bring you blessing, and all the love, support and energy you can hold.  And that you’ll be their someone, too.

10:

Stop fighting.  Just be.

“Stop fighting” calls me to be a peacemaker.  Starting with self, rippling out to family, friends and strangers alike.

“Stop fighting” calls me to allow my authentic to manifest. If I allow my authentic, I am at calm with self and my actions come from a place of tranquility.

“Stop fighting” calls me to allow room for God to work in me, with me, through me; it calls for harmony.  To “just be” allows me to joyfully be myself and creates an ebb and flow of peaceful coexistence.

Life is so much simpler when I “just be.”  When I let go of the struggle to control (all) things and, instead, allow the Spirit to lead my way, opening those doors that I’m meant to go through – emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Today I will stop fighting and will just be – joyfully.  I am excited to see what’s in store!  I wish you peace, authenticity, harmony and joy today!!  Blessings!

9:

“Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.” Dalai Lama XIV

My visual: I am turning around and around with my arms open wide in the center of an expansive field.  I keep my arms outstretched, twirling north, south, east and west.  I open myself up to the view each landscape affords me; I search for my place – as I fully am – within each direction.

This affirmation speaks to my internal compass, my sense of right and wrong.  It speaks to the realization, understanding and then the knowing of what fits me and what doesn’t.

My own “compass calibration” has taken a very long time, through good and bad, mass confusion and smooth sailing.  I have gone through immense change.  However, even though my landscapes have changed (marriage, divorce, careers, friendships), I truly believe the deep down internal values haven’t.  And when I say the “deep down,” I mean those visceral values learned as a small child – honesty, empathy, respect, integrity, passion, hard work.  Scads of external changes with a constant internal value system.

If I am open to the change God places in my path, I can learn the lesson and see how the change fits into my personal puzzle.  I can be excited about it and embrace it, and I can evolve emotionally and spiritually.  And all the time, I can be true to my core values.

I wish you beautiful, eye-opening experiences that allow you to celebrate all the good that is inside of you!  Blessings on your journey today!

8:

Be a healer.  It is empowering.

Healing isn’t confined to the practitioner’s office or the counselor’s chair.  If I think about where my own healing often began, it was with my mother.  She was the one that patched me up and kissed the pain away, made me feel like I was making her feel better by cooling her cheeks with my own after an hour outside making snow igloos.  She rocked away my tears after a scuffle with friends or a fall from my bike.  Healing started at home.

In a broader sense, where is my home?  The answer is that it’s where my heart is – wherever I am – here on Stinson, at an art show, in the grocery store parking lot.  I can be a healer wherever I am.  It only takes noticing the need.  Seeing that someone else needs a moment or a kind word.  Stopping what I’m doing to make time.

Yesterday I wrote about peace.  All day the words ran through my head: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”  Today’s affirmation is related – there are plenty of opportunities to help others heal if I simply offer myself up to the moment.  Maybe it will be a conversation, maybe just an acknowledgment, maybe a query.  However it presents itself, I will be ready to help, from my heart, wherever I am.

I wish you opportunity today to help another heal – and to feel the empowerment that you’ve been given through the grace of the moment.  Let’s go make the world a better place – one person at a time.

7:

Promote PEACE.

Promoting peace can be a simple-to-do action.  I think it begins with positive thought, because if I don’t start with positive thought, I end up disturbing the peace within myself.

I can conceptualize peace and send it out to those I love, and especially to those with whom I’m struggling.  I can take command of me (no one else) and filter my thoughts and my words.  I can kindly correct a misconception.  I can lovingly agree to disagree, or agree to meet halfway. Promoting peace can begin with kindness; a smile; a prayer.

Promoting peace is actively listening. Sharing time. Allowing my own sense of peace to spill over and positively affect those around me.  Breathing in deeply and breathing out – PEACE.

What will today offer me?  How will I be called to promote peace out of my studio?  Will it be a neighbor crossing my path?  Will it be an email from a friend or customer? A phone call? A Facebook post?

As I set my sights on how I can promote peace through the ripples that move outward from my being, I will stop and imagine them as glimmering, shining rays of peace.

I  wish the same for you today – easily breathing in and out peace – in all things.  Glimmering; Shining; Offering. PEACE.

6:

Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking you need to fix everything right away.  Allow yourself to make small steps toward change.  This will give you confidence, one step at a time.

Such a good reminder for me!  I am a bit of a “fixer,” and it’s helpful to remember that I don’t need to fix everything at once.  Sometimes, it’s part of a larger plan to allow things rest and to let the natural flow of life have its way.  If I remember that, and if I continue to make my to-do lists, I can tick away a small piece at a time as I march toward managing the larger picture.

And the to-do lists have a lot to do with diminishing my feeling of being overwhelmed.  I know that if I commit something to the list, it is off my mind and on paper and I can think more freely, breathe more easily, JUST DO MY JOB and be more at peace.  It also changes the mess in my mind into something that is simply a one-liner on a piece of paper; a task to be scratched off – much easier than clogging up my thoughts and my brain power.

Looking at my list for today, I may not get all the things done on it, but I’m aware that they are to BE done, in the right time, and I am set at ease.  Ahhhh.  Building confidence, minute-by-minute!

I wish for you today your favorite pen of choice (because it’s a luxury that you should allow yourself), a blank piece of paper, and a few moments to bring to order the many fix-its in your mind.  Write them down, make them manageable. And then breathe easier.  In – and out.

5:

Life isn’t always comfortable or free from pain.  If you are uncomfortable today, know that there is something to be learned by your discomfort.  Live today to its fullest.

Both “discomfort” and “pain” can relate to my physical, mental or emotional well-being.  This is a lot to chew on.  At first, I thought about my physical comforts – warmth, shelter, community.  Then I thought, “No; dig deeper.”  Relationship. Balance. Family. Support.

So when things are out of kilter and I’m uncomfortable or pained in some way, do I take time to analyze and learn from my circumstance?  An eternal optimist, I like to think that I do; the realist in me looks at the circumstance to see my role in it and how I can improve my situation.  How do I fix it?

Today I had a lengthy conversation on perspective.  On looking at situations that cause pain and, like looking at a cube, turning the cube slightly to see a different side.  Maybe the perspective just needs to be viewed in a more positive light – to see what I can learn and to take joy in the learning, while taking a bit of discomfort and pain away.

One day at a time.  Physically, mentally and emotionally.  Blessings to you as you make observations on your “cube” – I hope the perspective offers you joy and glorious fullness of life.

4:

Today, dare to believe in the beauty of LOVE.  Trust that you are being led to love by love, and your day will be FULL of love.

Given that the affirmation today is on LOVE, I thought I’d go to dictionary.com just to see what it offered me.  There were 28 definitions for “love” (I’m certain that there are more in the unabridged dictionary, but for the sake of today’s post, I’ll leave it at 28).   If I automatically remove (for the sake of this posting only) all the references to amorous love, a few love idioms, and some verb definitions, I get to what I believe is the nitty-gritty for today:

“Without compensation; gratuitously: He took care of the poor for love.” and “Affectionate concern for the well-being of others: the love of one’s neighbor.”

Today’s affirmation creates hope; it offers two scenarios:  first, a call to action on my part – to believe and to trust.  Second, a promise – that if I believe and I trust, I will have a day full of love.  And this love thing goes two ways – being led to love not only means that I have opportunity TO love, but also that I will be led to opportunity where others can show their love to ME.

The day isn’t over until my head hits my pillow; I have opportunities to see people, talk to people on the phone, email . . . the list goes on.  I’m excited to see what unfolds, immersed in the beauty and fullness of love!

Sending out love to all of you – N

3:

Healing does not equal pursuit of perfection.  Healing can be mental rather than physical.  Healing can be the acceptance of living in the now.

I’ve really had to rethink what healing means over the last several years.  Initially, my mind went directly to healing in the “made whole” or “back to normal” sense; however, as my life has been immersed in the “healing” business, I’ve met a lot of people in a lot of different circumstance.  I’ve been led to learn that healing can sometimes mean the end of the possibility of getting back to what was once “normal” and, instead, coming to a place of acceptance – right here, right now – within present.

Yesterday at church our focus for the morning was on Hospice.  It was a beautiful service led by various people in the congregation who volunteer in the Hospice setting.  My brothers and our families spent four months with our mom / grandmother as she lived her last in Hospice care.  Watching her on her dark days – or what I saw as her dark days – was hard.  She was quiet.  Pensive.  Withdrawn. Angry.  PROCESSING.

She was healing.  Not in the body sense, but in the mind sense.  She was getting her head wrapped around her dying.  Watching this process spoke volumes to me; struggling through her thoughts and past actions, coming to terms with how her life had played out, knowing there weren’t to be any “do-overs.”  Beyond the darkness, however, there was joy.  She came to a place of healing acceptance and died peacefully.

And then, in grace, it was our turn to heal.  Our turn to come into the present, to accept that our lives would be different, blessed by our experience, changed and learning to actively seek out the beauty of the now.

Today, I wish you healing; I wish you peace.

2:

You have a purpose – each day.  As you let go and let God, this purpose becomes more and more clear.  Be full of joy and love!

I have a note that I transfer each day to my “to-do” list.  It reads, “JUST DO YOUR JOB.”  This reminder means a lot of different things; primarily, though, it is a reminder that I need to keep at it, to think positive, to know that God is caring for my every need, even when I feel doubt.

“JUST DO YOUR JOB” is also a good reminder that I have a purpose each day – prayerful angel making. And – even if it isn’t necessarily clear at the break of each dawn, I have found that God often has a bigger purpose in mind for my day than I do.  As such, if I start my days open to seeing what God has in store for me, I am in a position to be surprised; He often uses me for more than I imagined.

And truly, that DOES fill me with joy and love.

May your days ahead be purposeful and open to all that God has in store for YOU.  Blessings!!

1:

Stop your struggle to find answers alone; rather, welcome and be open to positive and healthy support wherever you find it.

Permission.  Permission to allow myself to be open to the healing kindness of others.  To their wisdom, their strength, their love.  In my struggling, I have found that if I allow others in, they are willing to buoy me up, help me to find the answers I’m seeking – through conversation, through listening, through silence.  Often I just need to stop trying to be so brave and simply to ask for the help others are willing to give me.  OR – I need to take my eyes off of my own issues for a moment and be completely open to who is in front of me, and what they are offering me.

Anne Lamott says the simplest prayers are “Help.” “Thanks.” “Wow.”  In that spirit, I will allow others to undulate in and out of my life as we BOTH need, and I will be gratefully saying, “Help; thanks; wow.”

Blessings on your Saturday, on your comings and goings.  I wish you peaceful happiness, and positive and healthy support – wherever you find it.

January 2014 (10th through 31st):

31:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Gautama Buddha

Last evening I met up with friends and former colleagues for a retirement happy hour. This was lovely, actually, because I really do miss so many of the people I worked with for so long. It also forced me to face the fact that I, unfortunately, still have a few demons in my den regarding my departure and I thought I had processed them out of my life (the demons, that is). Darn it, anyway; I still have work to do in the “anger department.”

One of the folks asked me how my affirmations were going and I said, “Hard!” Because some days it IS hard to self-reflect, take time and think about how I am falling short, where I need to improve, and to discern what is holding me back from having my life be more in-line with my beliefs. Today’s affirmation – which I sought out so I would have to do some processing about my lingering resentments – forces me to remember that if I’m holding onto all this rotten junk, who am I really hurting? Just me.

So today I am going to work hard to “drop that hot coal” and bless those with whom I’ve still got a bit of burning issue, and be kind to myself. Because that’s really what it is, isn’t it? Allowing myself to love me more, open up space for God to do His work, and recognize that, if not for each step along my path – good and bad – I wouldn’t be where I am today. And I SO like where I am today.

Blessings to you as we turn the calendar to February . . .

30:

If I become frazzled today, I will stop and bring myself back to PEACE by breathing in and out, remembering that my breath is with me at all times.

Hmm. This seems like a good one for today, given the mini-blizzard outside, the traffic jams that are happening on the highway and the frustration of driving, moving or more likely, not moving.

Just reading this affirmation is a reminder to take a deep breath in. To center myself. To bring myself back to a place of peace. To see myself moving as peace amongst the frustration. If I imagine myself moving peacefully, feet barely touching the ground (or slogging through the snow), I realize that I can be peaceful and joyful, regardless my surroundings.

Where are you headed today? Or – are you at your destination? Either way, take a deep breath in, allow yourself to relax and allow yourself to be washed over with peace. Choose it. It’s yours to accept.

Blessings, all, and safe travel, wherever you are headed.

29:

The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position.

This has been one of the hardest things for me to learn. Years and years and years of not getting it. So much of my life has been spent outside my own circle of authenticity; being true to self, true to who I am, true to the call to just “be.”

That being said, however, I don’t know that I would have been able to embrace the authentic me that I am becoming without going through all that I’ve gone through; it’s like slogging through the good and the bad experiences to get to the heart of who I am. Upon reflection, I thought I was pretty together for so many years. Upon deeper reflection, though, I realize that although I WAS me, I was also placating others by being what they wanted me to be and not being wholly authentic. Does that make sense?

So here I am 55 years old and, in reality, past middle age, finally feeling that I’m onto something. As though I’m slowly and deliberately inching my way toward realizing my true potential; my real call; my authentic self. And as I make my way, I will stop being a chameleon and just be the real me. The real deal. Authentic and happy with who I am, what I am, and what I’m called to be.

I hope your journey to authentic self has been easier than mine; I pray that you have reached your destination, your true potential, found your call. And if you’re still working on it, you have my prayers that you will come to you. Blessings!

28:

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

When I pulled this affirmation this morning, it made me laugh out loud! I have been accused of being incredibly illogical; and if I’m honest with myself, I’m unreasonable and self-centered as well – at least a bit (how’s that having a firm grasp on self-realization?) . . .

What I find challenging – yet wonderful – is that I am called to love ANYWAY. Starting with self, for all of my illogical, unreasonable and self-centered ways. Branching out to family, friends and acquaintances. To strangers. To those who drop into my life and then drop out. To the worker that snowplows the lot next door at 2 in the morning (feeling love for him – up to this point – has been a bit of a challenge). The challenge is TO LOVE ALL.

And if I challenge myself to approach people in love – regardless their score on the logic, reason or sharing and caring scale – I know I will see them differently. I believe that I will see them through the eyes of compassion and kindness and love. And that’s really the call, isn’t it?

“Love one another as I have loved you.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love them ANYWAY.

27:

Did you know that we are all connected by love and universal energy? Be open to others, their ideas and their solutions. Receive new energy, insight, support and love.

The last two weeks have been amazing in a “connected by love and universal energy” kind of way. Before I left on vacation, I met with the founder of Missing GRACE. Upon returning from vacation, I met with the founder of Garden of the Sleeping Angels. Both of these organizations help families that have had stillborn children or children that have lived for just a while through providing space for coming together, counseling, or remembrance.

What’s amazing to me about this is that I lost three of four daughters to still birth. And what’s amazing to me is that I am able, through what I do now, to give comfort through my angels to families that are grieving for the same reason I have grieved. And what’s amazing to me is that my head is running with ideas at a million miles an hour on what doors God is opening, and I am just waiting to see what His plan is for me with these two foundations.

I am excited to have a two-way connection with both of these organizations, both giving and receiving energy, insight, support and love.

I pray connections for you today – that you will get what you need, and give where God has provided space for your talents to shine.

26:

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” Gautama Buddha

Getting this affirmation done at this time of the day is indicative of the kind of day it’s been – a bit busy; the kind where you put things off and then you look at the clock and realize it’s almost 9PM and this should have been done 12 hours ago. This realization causes the polar opposite of peace.

Taking it to heart, this is a practical reminder that when my life seems a bit out-of-control and hectic, I need to take a moment and close my eyes, settle into that place within me that is peaceful and spend a moment taking rest there. Hectically trying to find peace outside of myself only causes anxiousness, which is the absolute opposite of that which I’m seeking. God has already provided me with peace; all I need do is take a moment, focus, and tap into it.

There now. I’m going to follow my own advice and get tapping – peacefully.

25:

You may give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.
Reference: John3:16

The ultimate love and the ultimate gift if you’re a believer. If you’re not a believer, it must seem unbelievable that God would have allowed such suffering of His own son in order to save my soul. Or your soul. Or even your neighbor’s soul. Even if none believe. That’s the true miracle.

Because that is what love is – giving without expectation of return; giving because you are called to give, giving because you love.

May God fill you with peace, with gratitude, with love. That’s my prayer for each of you who might read this today. Peace, gratitude and love. Wherever – and whomever – you are.

24:

Change. It’s an action. Do not accept the unacceptable ways that do not work for you. Make change.

I guess this means I need to clean up, clear up, seek clarity and make change if I’m not happy in some area of my life.

I need to make goals and pursue them. Make lists and tic off the items as I go.

This takes thoughtfulness on my part, as well as time and patience. Some days, that’s a bit HARD.

What’s the quote? “Be the change you want to see in the world.” A bit overused, but it is a call to action, isn’t it?

I make a decision right now, then, to be more thoughtful in my actions and to make changes where I need to do so.

And maybe, small steps at a time, I’ll make the world a little better place.

23:

“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“Today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite,” said Pooh.

Today I got up and it was cool here – 47 degrees. It had already been determined that it was to be a beach day, since it’s our last full day in paradise.

Today’s affirmation reminds me that I must live in the moment, not worry or fret about what is to come, but rather revel in the beauty of today, present to the moment that is now – this instant – as it is today’s gift.

Blessings on your days today – whether reveling in the cold or the warm, enjoy it, fully present.

22:

“Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing: that love is bigger than anything anyone can throw at us ” Anne Lamott

Today I would like to hear / read your thoughts. What does the affirmation say to YOU ? (There are no wrong answers, so simply speak from your heart.)

21:

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” Gautama Buddha

I spent some time yesterday shelling at the beach in order to take home some pieces for my three-year old granddaughter. I found five clamshells – each was completely different – not just in coloration (which one would expect), but also in the type of either striation or texture. One was striated side-to-side, one from top-to-bottom, one was bumpy, one was holey and one is striated from top left to bottom right.

Each is beautiful in its own way, and each is amazingly made. Its own self-contained miracle.

Just as I am. And you. And my three-year old granddaughter. Sometimes I just need a moment to see that, and it does change me to realize it and accept it and be grateful in the acceptance.

Blessings on your day, and I hope you see a few miracles as you move through the hours.

20:

Take time today to stop and give a gift to someone needy, smile at a stranger, or help a child. Experience the feelings of your own kindness.

This isn’t about patting myself on the back, this is about JOY. About being truly present within the moment of a random act of kindness. About realizing that we are all connected. About paying it forward. About rippling.

I love that realizing the joy and feeling it to the core is the gift. That a simple, small act can do so much – it affects the person to whom the gift is given, and also affects me as the giver. There is no expectation. There is only an exchange – I am the giver, and the receiver accepts, and there is joy.

So simple.

Going forward, I will not deny myself. I will allow myself the opportunity to give simply, to experience joy at its simplest, most basic, and I will allow myself to be immersed in the moment.

19:

“Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine!” Gautama Buddha

Last night’s moon was wide and beautiful and BRIGHT!! Today’s affirmation made perfect timing – as I walked home from a friend’s last night, I was called to be joyful! To revel in the beauty that the nighttime offers, and to look forward to rest and then being fully alive in the day.

Peace, shining moments and joy to you today, too! Let us go forth and SHINE!

18:

“You can get the monkey off your back, but the circus never leaves town. ” Anne Lamott

This reminds me that I can fix things in my life, and I can do all the work needed to make my life better, but I still need to remain vigilant. Eyes open, keeping alert, living life amongst others. Rather than making myself an island.

And honestly, living IN humanity, alongside others, allows me to openly love and be compassionate, be kind and search out the commonality with others.

Life is good. Blessings, all!!

17:

Your gifts will only make you feel fulfilled when you use them for others as well as for yourself. Keeping yourself to yourself is a waste of your ability to become truly whole.

Our gifts are for giving! Today’s affirmation describes the law of return. Relational investment, compassion, kindness, love; when I freely offer my gifts without reservation, I get back ten-fold. And it feels good to share – to realize the fullness and completion of the circle. And – when I share, it calls others to share themselves, and so the ripples go ever forward, reaching one, two, four, eight . . . to infinity.

What a lovely thought.

Today I will pray that I – we – will answer the call to making some ripples. Blessings on your day!

16:

It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God’s hands and leave them there. Psalm55:22 – Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.

The catch-phrase in this one is “leave them there.” So difficult to do, yet I continue to try. I’ve learned that if I leave my troubles with God and then pull them back (control issue), my anxiety is almost doubled! So today, once again, I resist controlling what I cannot, and “drop the tangles of MY life into God’s hands and leave them there.”

And really, I have to admit that He’s much better at managing my tangles than I am.

Blessings to you all on this very windy Minneapolis day!!!

15:

Be gentle with yourself.

I’ve found that when I’m doing my job selling angels, there are so many people that come into my tent who are hurting and who are hard on themselves for one reason or another. They didn’t do this, or they didn’t do that. They’ve let someone down. A decision made caused a problem; you get the idea. Whatever it may be, it really doesn’t take long to get down to the raw place where hurt and heartache have taken hold; it usually takes a simple inquiry like, “What’s going on in your life today?”

Judging ourselves harshly doesn’t do much other than create a lot of guilt and anguish. How tough would you be on your best friend? Be gentle with yourself! Cut yourself some slack, and share with others your hurts and heartaches. I’m not advocating wallowing, I’m advocating acknowledgment followed by some gentleness, followed by forward action.

So today, I will allow myself some gentle love, some kindness and some time. I will accept my shortcomings. I won’t pressure myself to be “perfect,” and I won’t place unrealistic expectation on myself. I will – with loving eyes – see where I can do better, and I will breathe in – and breathe out – gentle, compassionate, kind love. I hope you will, too.

14:

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.

I need to take this one to heart!

This time of the year is quiet for me; I don’t have the in-person people contact that I thrive on, and my sales are sparse. I have choices, though, don’t I? I can choose to be afraid and to stop right here where I’m at, crippled by fear and doubt, or I can choose to look beyond today, toward my show season and know that all the work I do now will be manifested in the beauty of new relationships in the upcoming months.

Hmmm. Which will it be? I think hard work, looking toward manifestation and new relationships sounds pretty good. So today, that is where I will start. As soon as I’m done with this cup of coffee.

13:

Today you have the right to be alive and happy and full of joy. Trust that you are where you are supposed to be, and you are moving in the right direction.

Making the claim and holding onto it fiercely; that’s what this is about! I choose what I feel – that’s not to say that I sometimes need to process things and feel the fullness of my emotions, both bad and good, but rather that once processed, I am free to choose to be alive and happy and full of joy.

Trusting at all times and through all things that I’ve been planted at exactly the spot God wants me to be planted is sometimes hard, however if I am walking in faith, seeking God’s will for me, then I also need to trust my intuition that I am also moving in the direction He is expecting.

Blessings on you all as we start this week together, wherever you are, I pray that you are joyful and that you are letting the Spirit move in you and through you!

12:

“To accept ourselves as we are means to value our imperfections as well as our imperfections.” Sandra Bierig

When I think about my best friends, I love them as they are. Whatever imperfections they have, it seems I don’t really even notice; I don’t analyze them – nor have I analyzed them – in categories of good versus bad traits; why would I?

So why am I so hard on myself? Why do I look at my own imperfections and become so frustrated with me?

Self evaluation is good – it helps us to be better people. To strive to be kinder, more compassionate, more of what we want to see in the world. But self evaluation and self deprecation are two different things. So maybe what I need to do instead of being frustrated and self-deprecating, is to take a moment to realize that those things about me that are imperfect ARE ME. That I am wholly me because of both my perfections and imperfections, and that if it weren’t for both, I wouldn’t be uniquely me, and so I need to treat me as I do my best friends – value me for who I am, both good and bad; accept me for who I am, both good and bad; and love me for who I am, both good and bad. And then work on those things that need working on, while at the same time accepting that the path to being “better” is sometimes simply a slightly longer trek with a couple of hills to climb and maybe a river or two to cross – and then forge ahead.

11:

“’And what is as important as knowledge?’ asked the mind. ‘Caring and seeing with the heart,’ answered the soul.”

Put more simply:
“Kindness? A piece of bread. Loving-kindness? A piece of bread with a little bit of jelly on it.”

I love the wisdom of the soul! And by using the heart to guide us, we not only care for the basic need, but also create an even better and deeper experience with greater satisfaction – for both the giver and the receiver.

10:

Let go and let God work in your life. Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

I often say, “I need to let that balloon go.” For me, it’s a three-step process. First, I am allowed to process something (generally something that I can’t control, that feels bad or that gives me angst); second, I am brought to the realization that, in most cases, there’s nothing much I can actually do about it; and finally, I am given the opportunity to release it to God and the universe to take care of that which I cannot control or change.
Imagining the color of the balloon and imagining it floating heavenward gives me a visual that helps to allow me to walk in trust that something good will come of my fear. If I set myself to thinking about it, God cares for the smallest bird in -50 windchill; as such, He certainly must care for me in all my uncertainties. And although walking in trust is hard, it allows me space for grace.
So I will continue to offer up my prayers, let go of my fears and have courage. Today is an opportunity for another day of God’s goodness, wonder and graciousness in my life.

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