Saturday, December 1, 2012

Vote for Acceptance Over Tolerance

Today, December 1st,  marks the first day of Tolerance Week. I've thought long and hard about the word Tolerance and I've come to the conclusion that I personally do not care for it – at least not when it comes to people. When used as a term in science and research it's totally acceptable.

And that is when I realized that the word, Acceptance, was one that I could put my energy into and back wholeheartedly. Accepting is appealing, easy, without ego. Tolerance is about taking an exaggerated sigh and saying, "Okay - if I have to." It is about being permissive of others and enduring others' behaviors; about not allowing what is, but what you feel you have to do. It is filled with insincerity. It's neither real nor genuine. It's biting the bullet and not embracing the soul.

"Acceptance is having the faith, despite the circumstances, that all is well."  Having faith is essential, whereas an attitude of tolerance withholds the value of faith. It promulgates the belief that we are at the helm, and this just isn't so. We are in control of ourselves, using our freedoms of choice – no more and no less.

If we subscribe to the belief that God is love and has openly declared we are all one and in his own image, then we might have to take a second look at tolerance and its negative message. To tolerate is to say we have the right and the task of bearing others. This is not of love nor of God. This is man-made and cannot hold up as lovingly as acceptance. Acceptance is inclusive.

"There's so much grace in acceptance. It's not an easy concept, but if you embrace it, you'll find more peace than you ever imagined."

Imagine if this week of tolerance became the week of acceptance. Roget's suggests the word, adopt, as a suitable synonym for the word accept. Think of a mother's and father's love of an adopted child. Though they are not the biological parents of this being, they have accepted   adopted   this child with all of their heart and soul. The concept of acceptance bringing about peace makes sense. Tolerance, on the other hand, connotes open-mindedness. A parent on the path of adoption is not being open-minded, they are about and of love.

"I define comfort as self-acceptance. When we finally learn that self-care begins and ends with ourselves, we no longer demand sustenance and happiness from others."

The author of this quote, Jennifer Louden, has given us an insightful glance of acceptance and how it starts with ourselves. We cannot accept others if we do not first accept who we are. We cannot change others but we can begin by accepting ourselves, which brings about positive change.

When Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world" truer words were never spoken.  To tolerate is to shrug and say, "Okay, if I must." To accept is to breathe deeply and say, "I love without boundary."

There are those who will say it's simply a matter of semantics. I say a week of Acceptance is a week of honesty, comfort, graciousness, faith and love. What do you say?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Immortal Words

For centuries politicians and poets, orators and others have been immortalized through eloquent quotes and passages that conveyed their wisdom and depth of character. They have left their mark on the world and, to a degree, changed the world simply by speaking profound and thoughtful words purposely linked together in a sentence.

Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Roosevelt and JFK are but a few who have contributed beautiful sentiments that impacted the way many Americans think and behave. Many in the public eye have had the fortuitous opportunity to help shape the future for the better.

While not every word or phrase spoken by every living being is "quotable" each one of their words has been expressed and is, therefore, immortal. Both the spoken and written word is capable of changing a person – a situation – a life. This occurs millions of times on a daily basis.

When we use the term "immortal" it signifies two concepts: words that impart greatness, intellect and profound wisdom, and words that last forever: a legacy of sorts.

Words are energy. They are uplifting and glorious when praises are sung as they are putdowns when waging verbal battle. They can heal and they can harm. Because of this, words can be salve to a wound or the dagger that inflicted it. It is energy that forms according to plan.

Contrary to the childhood chant, "Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never harm you," nothing could be further from the truth. The injuries inflicted on the soul by sharp words can cut deeper than any flesh wound. As sound can travel through plasma, the unborn (in utero) hear what you say. In fact at 20 weeks old babies have been recorded turning their heads in response to external noises during routine sonograms.

Whether the words are merely thoughts in your mind, quietly spoken, written on a page or magnified over a microphone, they carry the same energy – the energy of the words' intent.

The harm that they cause when less than truthful or flattering is a double-edged sword. The recipient as well as the speaker is injured, but it is the speaker that carries the greater burden, for no matter if an apology follows, there is no way to take back what was spoken. If only there were a word repository to seal away the injurious sentiment. A vacuum to suck up the uttered impetuous phrase, for sound is not capable of traveling though a vacuum. Unfortunately for the spokesperson, there is not. The deed has been done.

As harmful as these spoken and written words are, the words expressed in our minds as thoughts are just as powerful and potentially dangerous. How many times a day do you talk to yourself through thought, sending the wrong message to yourself?

We must be as mindful of our thoughts, the messages we send ourselves, as those that we send to others. Filtration systems should be installed in the thought process just as they are when choosing the right words to speak to others.

When talking to yourself, use positive words, when speaking with others choose your words wisely, and no matter to whom you speak, remember the immortal words of Nathaniel Hawthorn, "Words, so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reflection of an Election

The last ballot was cast yesterday evening and the 44th President of the United States was voted into office. Today millions of Americans are either happy or disappointed. Yet today millions of Americans still went to work, school and the gym. Today millions of Americans traveled, went shopping, chatted with their friends, visited the library, walked in the park and texted one another. They ate, did laundry and tried to balance their check books. They lived their lives.

Life goes on.

Reflect on the past months as both candidates battled it out. As they came out verbally swinging it appeared as serious and life altering as a showdown at the OK Corral. Last night marked the end of the road for one and the start of a new journey for the other. Only one would win and only one did.

Is life now perfect for the winner?

The momentary exuberance of the win is magnificent but short-lived. The work may be more challenging than ever before as the President is pressed upon to prove to the citizens that they elected the right man. There is no free ride.

Is life now over for the defeated candidate?

Not at all. The disappointment of losing is as temporary as the winner's exaltation. Life continues and, as we all know, when one door closes another opens. The one not chosen will go on to experience other achievements.

Try using the election as your springboard into the pool of understanding life – drink deeply of its metaphorical juxtaposition of good and bad, right and wrong, winner and loser.

What you can do is embrace what is. Breathe in the moment of what is. Live what is and give thanks for what is. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. However, if we reflect on where we once were and where we are now, we might discover that there were no losses – just a lot of living going on.

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."    –    Confucius

Friday, November 2, 2012

Have I Told You?

 Tell the people you love that you love them. You don't have be happy with them at this moment but let them know. Love trumps anger, frustration, disappointment and hurt feelings. Kind words soften and remind your family and friends of your true feelings, not the momentary upset.

You don't have to say it in person. You can write a letter, a postcard, send a text or email but be sure to let them know.

Why is this so important? Because sometimes you don't get a chance to say it later. Sometimes later doesn't happen. And sometimes later is so long after a situation that a simple sentence like, "I love you" could have made all the difference.

The same thing goes for other sentiments: "I admire you," "You make my day," "Thank you," "You are the best parent in the world" or "If I could have asked God to hand pick my child, it would have been you." In fact, sometimes following up anger, frustration and hurt feelings with a kind word means the world to that person. It doesn't necessarily mean that you now agree with them and are no longer angry, it simply means that the negative emotions will come and go but the love is here to stay.

Sound silly? Why not ask the person you're saying it to. Ask them if it sounds silly to them. Ask them if your unconditional love and caring for them upsets them or makes them uneasy.

There's never a bad time to tell someone you love them or that you care. Never a wrong time to say thank you or you are special. Today let your parents, grandparents, children, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and friends know.

If you don't tell them, who will? And if not now, when?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Never-Changing First Chair

The First Chair is a term of achievement - in most cases a prestigious accomplishment that accompanies hard work and a strong desire for success.

Orchestral first chair refers to the principal performer in each of the musical instrument sections.

Musicians in all sections vie for this metal, wood or plastic seat - proof of musical superiority.

In law the first chair indicates the lead attorney in a court case. He or she decides what actions, research and game plan are to be used to try and win. First chair in a victorious case can catapult an attorney's career.

Yet it isn't only musicians and attorneys that hold this, much sought after, blue-ribbon achievement. Every day many first chair persons of note are celebrated. In hospitals and bedrooms across the globe children are being born and women are becoming mothers. They do not have to work harder or train longer for this position. It is an automatic - like addressing her as Mrs. from the moment she becomes a married woman.

This is a position that does not receive the level of education that a classically trained musician receives. Nor is it preceded by a bachelor of science and law degree that are necessary for a lawyer to pursue his or her career.

As newborns are being welcomed into the world, all over the world, women are being placed into a first-chair position - no vying necessary. Some women become mothers unexpectedly while others have dreamed about it for years. Regardless, the position is filled by inexperienced women with no training or education to prepare them.

All of a sudden they are responsible for feeding, nurturing and caring for this infant. True, there are those who renounce the position and put their child up for adoption, as well as those who have professional nannies to help in sharing the daily responsibilities of raising the child. Others have great partners who share the workload fifty fifty. But to that child, there is only one person who answers to the call of Mommy.

Motherhood is the most prestigious, most important first chair position ever created.  Becoming a mother is special. A mother's watch is round the clock. There is no clocking out. Whether she is awake or sleeping, at home or at work, she answers to the call of her baby, her child, her teenager and her young adult. She never stops answering the call.

The woman who answers to the title, Mother, is not necessarily the woman who birthed the child. She is, however, the one the child calls Mom. She is the one who is there to kiss the boo-boos and chase away the monsters under the bed. She is the one who listens to the fears, wipes away the tears and rallies when her child is in need. She is everything to her child.

Remember, there was no manual available when she undertook this challenging position. It was on the job training ... and she moved forward, often blindly, trying to do the right thing and make the right decision.

Every day, as mothers, we are put to the test. Some days you feel you've done a great job and are deserving of first chair status, other days you're not so sure. You may often feel under appreciated or not worthy of being a mom. There are times when you make a decision that turns out to be the wrong one and you feel guilty and grieve. But think about this ...

Not once did your love waiver. Never did your confusion, frustration or anger deter you from being your child's biggest fan and most ardent advocate. Your unconditional love for your child has surrounded everything that you have done. Musicians and attorneys come and go as first chair.  Mothers are the directors of their children's future and, as we all know, no one sits in the director's chair but the director.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dear Important Person (you know who you are)

Following an unfortunate loss, a young woman who took her own life when she could no longer cope, I write this open letter to each and every one of us ...

Dear Important Person,

Science and spirit do not occur exclusively. There is a distinct connection and coexistence to each. The yin and yang of it. The in and out, the up and down. The pull of gravity and the release of the helium-filled balloon. The life giving and the life taking. The inhaling of  oxygen and exhaling of carbon dioxide. 

The exchange is mutual, involuntary and essential to life, yet, sometimes life seems to be painfully fraught with one despair after the other. It doesn't appear to be worthwhile and it often appears insurmountable.

The natural way of life is this: it is given without asking and it is taken without choice. It is not our choice to take it. It never was and it never will be. It is God given and God taken.

From the very first breath drawn by a newborn to the last expelled by one leaving this physical earth, know this, even if nothing else makes sense: You Are Necessary. Your place here, your breath, your participation in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. You are a part of the plan. Of the big picture. You.

That is the science of it. But what of the spirit? You are the warm, nestling, breathing body - the person that fills in another. Without you, someone, many in most cases, will be lost. You are their saving grace. You.

Make no mistake - each and every one of us is a part of the plan. Do not take this lightly. Your contribution is an integral part of the whole.

Today, as crazy, wonderful, challenging or deceptive as it might appear, know this one thing: You are necessary. So very necessary. You are a part of this world. No one belongs more than you. And no one belongs less than you. We are all the irrevocable heavenly dominions of the world.

Please, when despair sets in, place yourself in the big picture - the one that includes the sky, the stars, the grass, the trees, the people who love you and who are loved by you. If seeing the big picture doesn't do it for you, seek help. You are a much needed part, a beautiful person and there is help. The best gift you can give someone who loves you is getting help for yourself. Please, you are not alone.                                 



Monday, September 24, 2012

I Do


There are lots of weddings going on these days. Music is being chosen for the first dance. Moms and daughters are gleefully picking out wedding outfits and future brides and grooms are tasting lots of cake: lemon, red velvet, coconut,vanilla and chocolate.

Time is also being devoted to writing vows. The words spoken on this solemn day of devotion are written and rewritten several times to impress upon partner and guests just how important and relevant the uniting of two souls is during this ceremony. Often, numerous days of intense thought processes are poured into these short passages promising to uphold, honor, love and cherish one another. The editing can be an arduous task to significantly convey just how the couple feels about each other.

Why then do so many marriages end in divorce? 

Psychologists' offices are filled with sad and unfulfilled husbands and wives who couldn't hold together their marriages. You may not believe in therapy and psychology, but the path of discovery most often used is this: going back in time to review your life. What might you discover when an educated and experienced therapist asks some profound questions?

I Do Love - Me
If men and women, young and old loved themselves as much as they loved their partners and others, we may witness fewer and fewer divorces. Self love seems to evade the higher percentage of the population. If you think back years or just moments ago, do you remember being critical of yourself? Judging yourself much more harshly than you judge others? Do you pick on yourself for every little thing? When was the last time you actually patted yourself on the back? Are you a good friend to yourself and encourage you, like you?

I Do Honor - Me
Self-respect is a dwindling commodity. Think about it: the media, reality TV shows and call-in radio programs are propagating the average person to diminish their self-worth. In today's world you can make a name for yourself simply by debasing your character and reputation in front of millions.

I Do Cherish - Me
What does cherishing ones self mean? For starters it means taking care of yourself at least as well and proactively as you take care of others, whether it is a parent, spouse, sibling, child or friend.

The Love of Your New Life
The love of your new life is YOU! It can take some getting used to, thinking about yourself in this way, but the expression "It starts at the top" makes you the CEO of your life. This does not mean that you focus 24/7 on yourself. It does mean that you start taking yourself more seriously and developing a better relationship with the president of the company called ... YOU!
  • Love You. Affirmations such as: I am a good, kind and caring person, I look forward to treating others and loving others as I treat and love myself and my self-love can make a difference because others are attracted to positive people, should be repeated daily.
  • Honor You. Before your toes touch the ground in the morning, close your eyes and envision a day filled with respect - given and received. It is a fact that one cannot get respect if one does not give it. Honor all that is right about you. Make a list of your wonderful, endearing and benevolent qualities.
  • Cherish You. While it is lovely to have a partner to hold and comfort you, bear in mind that parents teach self-soothing to very young babies. Although this is taught at a tender age, most forget how to self-soothe. Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Take the time to have a quiet, loving talk with yourself every morning and at the end of the day. Compliment yourself on a job well done at work or for being there when a close friend is in need. Take time to relax and reflect. We all need it.
 I Now Pronounce You ...
You are now in the position to start loving others because once you have given to yourself, you can give the same love, attention and consideration to others. Your future husband or wife and your future children will receive the best you that there is.

I now pronounce you your own best friend. Have a good life.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Seven Ways to Self-Soothe in a High-Tech World

Those who know me, know very well that I have shied away from high tech as much as is humanly, socially, responsibly, productively and resourcefully acceptable. I am the proverbial dinosaur that enjoys and leans toward the tactile: pen, pencil, paper, books, magazines and snail mail. When you read an article online there are no scratch and sniffs – open up a brand new magazine and, aside from that delicious aroma of shiny virgin paper, you can sample scents from Lancome, Dior and Chanel.

However, for the sake of those who enjoy computers and all of the other technological accoutrements that one can amass, I share with good wishes some ways that we can relieve our stress in a high-stress world of technology through technology.

Stress Reliever N°1 - You Tube
Many of us are aware of the wealth of information and resources at our fingertips through computers and Google searches. For those who do not, open up your computer and enter Once you are on the home page, enter one of the following search word phrases:
  • calming music
  • guided meditation
  • spiritual/inspirational music
These and similar prompts will direct you to videos from a couple of minutes long to those that are over an hour. You have the choice of length of time available to you at any time of the day that fits in with your personal schedule.

Stress Reliever N°2 - Online Images
Did you know that you can Google search any word and pull up the associated images? Search for words such as: peace, love, happiness, calm, serenity, certainty and beauty; then click on images and feast your eyes on beautiful photographs, prints and paintings.

Stress Reliever N°3 - Play List
It is not uncommon to find that the work place, where many feel the most stress, now allows for the use of ear buds plugged into MP3s (iPods). You have only to go to iTunes and create a play list specifically for calming and de-stressing yourself. This play list can be listened to at home, in the car and at work.

Stress Reliever N°4 - Kindle
The Kindle is an e-book reader. At the end of the day as you slip into bed and allow your body to relax, perhaps for the very first time during that very long, challenging day, you can upload a book, magazine or newspaper of your choice within moments. Of course, since you are trying to relax and nurture your body and mind, your choices will be made with spirit, inspiration, motivation and personal development in mind.

Stress Reliever N°5 - Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
No matter what high tech options are available, a large percentage of the populace still gravitates to the television set. When overtime at work cuts into TV time, that is when having DVR service or TIVO is welcomed. You can tape shows and view them at your convenience. This means you can meditate, exercise or enjoy humor when it is most needed.

Stress Reliever N°6 - Massage Appliances
Your favorite massage therapist is not always there when you need to relax. Lucky for you that there are many high quality massage appliances such as: neck massage pillows, feet and calf massage appliances and full-body chair massage options. Some are purchased at a minimal cost while others are in the thousand dollar range. One thing that is good to know, though, is sometimes the smallest adjustment (neck massage pillow) makes the biggest impact on the entire body.

Stress Reliever N°7 - Surprise!
We've now discovered how high-tech knowledge and a variety of options can see us through some of the stressful times. However, too much of anything is never good. Therefore, Stress Reliever N°7 is about unplugging. Yes, unplug. Just as candle light and quiet is a beautiful and welcome change from light, noise and activity, unplugging from technology can revive you more than you could ever imagine. Sit quietly in a chair and listen to your breathing, close your eyes and envision your life as you desire it and silently give gratitude for all that you have.

After a period of time you will feel capable of rejoining the fast paced, plugged-in, high-tech world that surrounds you and everybody else. The digital, electronic and virtual worlds are facts of life – inevitable, a reality. Good to know that you can plug in or plug out whenever the spirit moves you.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

It's Not About China

You might think that this blog post is politically based because of its title.  It's not. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It could have worn the title "It's Not About Crystal" or "It's Not About the Dress" or some other component of today's wedding celebrations. 

Weddings are a big deal – and they should be! They are the start of a union, a meeting of the minds, so to speak. However, it is a sad fact that more and more marriages are dissolving, and often within a very short time after emotionally speaking vows that meant something.  So why the title, "It's Not About China?"

Your china pattern may seem like a big deal, but here's a short story about a woman who had it all, or so it seemed.

Diane was married to a man who could provide for her everything her heart desired. She rode in the most expensive cars, wore clothes that came from high-end shops, had the diamonds, the home decor and the dishes. The only thing she didn't have was a husband who was on the same page as she. He was a brute and hit her. Not often but even once is too much. She finally divorced him.

Enter husband number two. A gentle man – a loving man toward Diane and her children. He was not a big earner but his love for her knew no bounds. Diane loved him and glowed when she mentioned his name. They were a happy couple and became a happy family.

This might not seem like the most interesting story but the day Diane excitedly told me of the dinner party she and her husband were giving made everything crystal clear to me. She said she didn't have enough dishes to serve the 8 or 10 people expected. She had walked away from everything in her previous marriage. I offered to lend her additional dishes for her guests. She declined and said, "No thanks, we'll make do." The next day I asked her how her dinner party went. She exclaimed, "It was perfect! We had so much fun." I was curious what she ended up doing about the extra dishes she needed, specifically the salad bowls. She happily said, "We washed out margarine containers and used those. They didn't match but the salad was great!

 As you enjoy the beautiful details of planning a wedding, remember that it's really about the marriage of two souls, two hearts that will live together and weave a partnership of the most intimate and loving fabric. The china pattern that you chose so carefully and the crystal that you picked out together may break or lose its charm. Dishes can be replaced. But it is far easier to smile at the love of your life over the cracked lip of a coffee mug than to smile at what appears to be a stranger over the most perfect bone china.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Books: Our Forever Companions

Dogs might be considered man's best friend, but ask any number of people what items or companions they would want to pack if knowing they were to be stranded on a deserted island and you can almost bet they will mention their favorite books.

Throughout youth and adulthood many voracious readers become victims of life. What this means is the young may find the time they have for reading is taken up by critical and time-sensitive homework assignments. Adults, on the other hand, often feel the pressures of work and other responsibilities prevent them from the recreational reading that they enjoy due to lack of concentration. They have the time but not the presence of mind.

There is no harm in stacking a few good reads on your nightstand to be readily available when the reading-mood strikes. In the past I have recommended some books around this time of the year – and this year is no different. A few that I've found to be educational and inspirational include:
  • Love for No Reason by Marci Shimoff - Free Press. Ms. Shimoff is the New York Times bestselling author of Happy for No Reason. In the more recent, Love for No Reason, the author creates a seven step program to enhance the quality of love in your life  – and this includes love of yourself! Ms. Shimoff guides her readers through what they may consider unlovable in themselves, as well as how to come from a place of compassion as a means to communicate and give unconditional love to others. Her straightforward approach and helpful exercises open up the door to a better understanding of love and what it can manifest. Engaging, anecdotal stories makes this a very personal, satisfying read.
  • The 11 Karmic Spaces by Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati - Kashi Publishing. Interesting that Marci Shimoff, the above-noted author comments that "Unconditional love is the very center of Ma Jaya's teachings! This beautiful, educational tool of love, honesty and spiritual law is illuminating and refreshing in that it categorically states what karma is and what it is not.
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn - MJF Books. Broken up into three superlative sections, Mr. Kabat-Zinn's book of mindful meditation is not just a theoretical plan. It incorporates the practice and assists the "meditation rookie" in a manner that appears simplistic in its ease of use. He encourages the reader to be present in their own life, teaching each of us that there are no greener pastures and that contentment comes from within.
 I will leave you with a few beautiful quotes on reading ... enjoy!

He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, as in all fortunes.
- Barrow

To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.
- Gaston Bachelard

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
- Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

Friday, August 17, 2012

Your Own Personal (Behavior) Diet Journal

Thinking positively is just as frustrating as trying to stick to a diet! It is a learned behavior and only the truly committed manage to succeed. The similarities are many, and the results as rewarding.

Exercise daily.
  • Laugh & smile frequently
  •  Take several deep cleansing breaths
  • Commune with nature, feel gratitude  & show love  

Weigh your options (thoughts & words). 
  • Choose a word such as 'when' instead of 'if'
  •  Recognize when silence is more powerful than speaking
  • Think before you speak so you will not have to eat your words 

Push your limits regularly.
  • Be an overachiever and go out of your way for others
  •  Match your dreams and aspirations with actions to accomplish them
  • When the going gets tough, and it will, be the one who gets tough and stays the course
Weigh in at the end of each week. It's like stepping on the bathroom scale. Make a short check list of your behavior diet. Did you ...
  • Fill yourself with positive thoughts and words rather than empty negatives?
  • Eat more words than you intended or stay within your allotted amount of words?
  • Push your own personal limits while avoiding pushing your family's and friends buttons?
Bravo! Kudos! Way to Go! You CAN Do It! Almost There! With Each Passing Week, It's Easier!