And so we hit the last day of 2012 which heralds another week beginning, as does another month and another year… that’s a lot of new beginnings!
Celebrate endings – for they precede new beginnings. ~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie ~
I don’t know how anyone reading this blog is feeling (please feel free to post a comment and share), but I’ve definitely felt a shift of energy as we’ve moved towards this new year. Lots of change has been happening which has been accompanied by the usual increase in intensely vivid dreams (always an indicator of change for me) and a feeling of needing to declutter and simplify… again. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve got that much left to throw out *grin*.
So yet again, a time to move forward, and of course, once we have decided what we can, or indeed, must… leave behind… that will then create a gap for something new to come in. However, rather than attempt to draw something specific in, that fits a *perfect* criteria… I thought this affirmation was great for helping to keep our hearts and minds open to all possibilities… without judgement, without expectation… after all, it’s all very well to hope for something, but if we determine beforehand every single option, then that’s actually kinda rigid thinking don’t you think? Though do feel free to disagree with my train of thought 🙂
Whatever you want in life, start today. Not tomorrow – today. Let it be a small beginning – a tiny beginning. Your happiness depends on starting today – every day. ~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie ~
Of course we may not know what *new* things we want to accomplish, we may not even have a goal in sight at present, but by being open to possibilities, we open our awareness to the opportunities that may present themselves, so we don’t have to know these things. It is, in fact, enough just to be open, to take one baby step at a time… to have trust that we will know when a possibility presents itself, to believe that something will actually turn up… to have faith that yes, we will then know what to do. One step at a time. And each step along the way will constitute a journey that one day we will look back on and see how far we have come. Of course, it may be a bit easier if hindsight were to accompany us from the start, but alas it insists it will only appear further down our path!
Anyway, a new year lies ahead, one that is filled with new days which can bring anything and everything into our lives… I know I don’t want to limit what those possibilities are, and I know I want my heart to be open to them. Do you?
I am the New Year
~ Author unknown ~
Life, I am the new year.
I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
I am your next chance at the art of living.
I am your opportunity to practice
what you have learned about life
during the last twelve months.
All that you sought
and didn’t find is hidden in me,
waiting for you to search it out
with more determination.
All the good that you tried for
and didn’t achieve
is mine to grant
when you have fewer conflicting desires.
All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do,
all that you hoped but did not will,
all the faith that you claimed but did not have –
these slumber lightly,
waiting to be awakened
by the touch of a strong purpose.
I am your opportunity
to renew your allegiance to Him who said,
‘behold, I make all things new.’
I am the new year.
Affirmation questions to consider for this week are:
What do you want to leave behind?
How can you stay open to all possibilities?
How open is your heart?
How much do you trust in opportunities becoming available?
What positive step forward can you take right now?
What would you like to dream into existence today?
Winter is the king of showmen
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes
Smooth and clean and frosty white
The world looks good enough to bite
That’s the season to be young
Catching snowflakes on your tongue
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going
~~ Ogden Nash ~~
Image: Spirit of Winter by Josephine Wall Website: http://www.josephinewall.co.uk/
And so we’re in our Christmas week… only a couple of days to go! Have you got all your cards written and sent, all your presents bought and wrapped up? And let’s not forget all the food that’ll be eaten as well… always a highlight… must admit it’s the one time of year I actually get time to do some baking, even if it’s only the Pavlova that gets requested for Christmas Day and my favourite oatmeal & raisin cookies (yeah I know, not expected given my chocolate consumption…)!
Christmas means many things to many people… and given the diversity of beliefs and opinions (to which we are all entitled) that may read this post, I am not going to wax lyrical about any specific one. Suffice it to say, that from my (very small) awareness and perspective, all religions and spiritual organisations appear to have the same fundamental aspects at their very core, those of:
Treating others as you wish to be treated
And we all know, in our hearts, that just because someone may not agree with us, doesn’t necessarily make them wrong, it just means they have life experiences, societal/cultural learning and awareness differences to our own. Perhaps then, the most important thing we can do for ourselves and others that will benefit us all is to open our hearts and share “Christmas” spirit, not just today when you’re reading this, nor just on Christmas Day, but try to embody and incorporate those aspects into our very being, each day of our lives.
Please have a wonderful Christmas week… and a special Christmas Day with your loved ones. Send loving energy and thoughts to those who can’t be with you, healing to those who need it… and hope for those who have none. I wish that you all have a Christmas that is filled with love, joy, laughter and hugs 🙂
Affirmation questions for this week are:
What does Christmas mean to you?
How is your Christmas spirit/energy coping?
What Christmas message can you give to others
What Christmas present can you give to yourself?
How can you keep your Christmas energy going?
And since it’s that time of year, I thought I’d share that Band Aid song, which was released way back in 1986!
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”
For children who were broken
it is very hard to mend…
Our pain was rarely spoken
and we hid the truth from friends.
Our parents said they loved us,
but they didn’t act that way.
They broke our hearts and stole our worth,
with the things that they would say.
We wanted them to love us.
We didn’t know what we did
to make them yell at us and hit us,
and wish we weren’t their kid.
They’d beat us up and scream at us
and blame us for their lives.
Then they’d hold us close inside their
arms and tell us confusing lies
of how they really loved us
— even though we were BAD,
and how it was OUR fault they hit us,
OUR fault that they were mad.
When days were just beginning
we sometimes prayed for them to end,
and when the pain kept coming,
we learned to just pretend
that we were good and so were they
and this was just one of those days
…tomorrow we’d be friends.
We had to believe it so.
We had nowhere else to go.
Each day that we pretended,
we replaced reality
with lies, or dreams,
or angry schemes,
in search of dignity ….
until our lies got bigger
than the truth,
and we had no one real to be
Our bodies were forsaken.
With no safe place to hide,
we learned to stop
hearing and feeling
what they did to our outsides.
We tried to make them love us,
till we hated ourselves instead,
and couldn’t see a way out,
and wished that they were dead.
We scared ourselves by thinking that
and scared ourselves to know,
that we were acting just like them
–and might ever more be so.
To be half the size of a grown-
up and trapped inside their pain….
To every day lose everything
with no savior or refrain…
To wonder how it is possible
that God could so forget
the worthy child you knew you were,
when you had not been damaged yet …
To figure on your fingers
the years till you’d be grown
enough to leave the torment
and survive away from home,
were more than you could count to,
or more than you could bear,
was the reality we lived in
and we knew it wasn’t fair.
We who grew up broken
are somewhat out of time,
struggling to mend our childhood,
when our peers are in their prime.
Where others find love and contentment,
we still often have to strive
to remember we are worthy,
and heroes just to be alive.
Some of us are healing.
some of us are stealing.
Most are passing the anger on.
Some give their lives away to drugs,
or the promise of like beyond.
Some still hide from society.
Some struggle to belong.
But all of us are wishing
the past would not hold on so long.
There’s a lot of digging down to do
to find the child within,
to love away the ugly pain
and feel innocence again.
There is forgiveness worthy of angel’s
wings for remembering those at all,
who abused our sacred childhood
and programmed us to fall.
To seek to understand them,
and how their pain became our own,
is to risk the ground we stand on
to climb the mountain home.
The journey is not so lonely
as in the past it has been …
More of us are strong enough
to let the growth begin.
But while we’re trekking up the mountain
we need everything we’ve got,
to face the adults we have become,
and all that we are not.
So when you see us weary
from the day’s internal climb …
When we find fault with your best efforts,
or treat imperfection as purposeful crime …
When you see our quick defenses,
our efforts to control,
our readiness to form a
plan of unrealistic goals …
When we run into a conflict
and fight to the bitter end,
We think that winning means
we won’t be hurt again.
When we abandon OUR thoughts and feelings,
to be what we believe YOU want us to,
or look at trouble we’re having,
and want to blame it all on you…
When life calls for new beginnings,
and we fear they re doomed to end,
Wounded trust is like a wounded knee–
It is very hard to bend.
Please remember this
when we are out of sorts.
Tell us the truth, and be our friend.
For children who were broken…
it is very hard to mend.
~~ Elia Wise ~~
Image origin: Unknown, found circulating on Facebook
With thanks to Serena Poor for sharing this on my Facebook page!
A few years ago there was an Oprah Winfrey programme on called “The Big Give” that I happened to catch a couple of the last few episodes, including the final. The premise of the show was 10 contestants, given a certain amount of cash each week and they had to give big by raising more money, putting on shows, helping people… and I think it was a different city each week. Then each week one person would be sent home until the end… you get the picture.
Given how close it is to Christmas, I thought how appropriate that kind of attitude is to have not only at this time of year (though, really, shouldn’t that be a daily thing we try to absorb, embrace and exemplify?) but to also use it for this week’s affirmation!
I’m not suggesting we all go out and raise money and achieve what these contestants did… although, if we could (or did), wouldn’t that be wonderful… generally though we can’t afford to give up our daily lives to do something like that. Instead, I thought about what if each and every one of us considers how we give to others… and to ourselves.
Seriously… what do you give to yourself? What do you give to others? How do you do this? If you don’t give… why not? If you do… what do you think the benefits are?
What do you consider to be “giving”?
One reaction to that could be of presents (well it is Christmas time)… gifts… material stuff… another could be the thought about how giving it is to smile at a stranger and what that might actually bring to their day. What about opening a door for someone… apart from having manners of course… what about letting that car out in front of you even if it delays you by 30 seconds? What about texting someone just to say hello if you haven’t heard from them for a while? Saying I love you, I missed you… or thank you for being there for me?
What then of giving to your self? Do you give your self a hug when you need it? How about a pat on the back and congratulations for something achieved or well done? What about a word or two of encouragement when you feel down and it’s hard to get motivated again? Don’t most people find that they can give to others but then treat themselves the harshest? Self love and self care are also part and parcel of our innate self-respect and self-worth, and very often a lot of people forget that they too deserve these things!
What are you and those closest to you in need of right now? And how can you give those gifts to them all (your self included)?
There are many many benefits to giving… not least the sense that we have helped to make someone else happy, have maybe lightened their burden… there’s also the fact that it can also obviously make us feel good about ourselves as well, but to me this is about unconditional giving… not expecting something in return, because we are giving because we want to, we choose to and because, hopefully, that will bring about a positive moment in a person’s life (be that another or our own)!
We do not remember days we remember moments ~~ Cesare Pavese ~~
a poem from “Seasons of Your Heart” by Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB
she celebrated the sacrament of
First she surrendered her Green
then the Orange, Yellow, and Red.
Finally she let go of her Brown.
Shedding her last leaf’
she stood empty and silent, stripped bare.
Leaning against the sky she began her vigil of trust.
Shedding her last leaf
she watched it’s journey to the ground.
She stood in silence
wearing the colour of emptiness,
her branches wondering:
How do you give shade, with so much gone?
And then, the sacrament of waiting began.
The sunrise and sunset watched with
tenderness, clothing her with silhouettes
they kept her hope alive.
They helped her understand that
her dependence and need,
her readiness to receive
were giving her a new kind of beauty.
Every morning and every evening
she stood in silence and celebrated
the sacrament of waiting.
Image origin: unknown, found circulating on Facebook
For years now, I have received the message to meditate regularly… whether that be from dream messages/analysis, from articles that appear in my daily in-box, from what I see dropping into newsfeeds on my various social media accounts… and even down to bits I read in books… which isn’t necessarily a “self-help” book, it could be fiction book in which someone is meditating. Messages everywhere. Which I duly note and have the intention of sitting down and doing religiously. And I do… I start… and then something gets in the way and I end up stopping. Usually at the first hurdle. I put anything and everything ahead of the need to meditate, to find that quiet space.
Yet what is 10 or 20 minutes out of one day? There are many reasons behind my evasiveness and non-commital to meditate. Many of which I am aware of, and probably some I’m not. Yet what I want, crave and need to manifest… well that aint gonna happen without taking time to sit and be still. It’s like, you want the qualification without doing the learning behind it! Lazy and naughty *grin*.
The majority of us have routine in our lives, and while some of it can appear to be monotonous and boring… routine in fact helps us to streamline necessities in our life to make better use of our time. We work out the quickest way to get to work and back home at the end of the day. If you go to the gym, you probably go to the same exercise classes on certain days of the week. If you have a gym routine (ie weights etc) you probably have certain repetitions to achieve a desired result. Some people even shop on certain days of the week, eat certain foods on a regular basis… some even do their cleaning on certain days of the week so as to leave most of the weekend free (that used to be a pre-requisite necessity when I would be partying most weekends *grin*)… but what of our spiritual needs? What benefit can meditation bring to our live ? Google brought forth:
Reducing anxiety attacks
Building self confidence
Increasing serotonin levels – did you know that low levels of this have apparently been linked to depression, headaches and insomnia?
Can lead to an increase in energy
Can lead to an increase in strength
Can help to balance blood pressure
Can lead to a state of deep relaxation
Can improve feelings of well-being
Can assist with losing weight
There are loads of sites out there with so much information on the benefits of meditation for those who care to surf around for a few minutes.
Now these benefits I would take as physical benefits, that affect day to day life. Then of course there are the emotional benefits, and psychological benefits… and that’s before we’ve even touched on the spiritual benefits.
I know that when I get busy, the first thing I drop is the “spiritual” stuff… because *real life gets in the way*. But surely spiritual needs are part of life. So in effect, dropping that aspect, means ignoring a part of life itself. As I read in part of a DailyOm email:
“The truth is that nurturing ourselves spiritually is what gives us the energy and grounding that we need to make sure that our lives stay on track.”
For me, meditation (when I can actually be bothered to do it) gives me a present. That’s right, a gift. I get a gift of 10-20 minutes where I don’t have to think, I don’t have to be *doing* (and *doing* is something that takes up the majority of my day – it can get very tiring being so busy so much of each day!), and where I don’t have to worry about what jobs need doing, what I haven’t done, what really needs to get done or even worse, when I chuck one of the thoughts in with the word *should*. The majority of which are really just self-imposed burdens. So also the gift of relaxation, of peace and quiet, of space, of healing, of solitude, reflection… to mention just a few. Which also brings to mind a quote I read from thoughtfortheday (whose quotes I share regularly on my Facebook page):
Meditation Though the mind often asks for what is visible or material, its needs are deeper and cannot be met by anything superficial or short term. Meditation leads to a meeting point with all that is true and eternal.
All this and more, for 10 to 20 minutes a day. Isn’t it worth it?
So… my questions this week are:
What does meditation mean to you?
What does meditation bring into your life?
How do you feel after meditating?
Why are you avoiding meditation (if you do)?
How do you feel when you think of meditation?
How can you improve your meditation practice?
What benefits would meditation bring to your life?
One thing I’m looking to create on this website is the Resources section which will include, among many companies, the charities and/or organisations that I personally support… and yes, that does mean with a regular financial contribution. Each one has an ethos that I absolutely admire… contributing to society with effects that ripple out and touch others’ lives across the world, not just for today… but for generations to come.
Each one also epitomises the ethic that I have as my byline… helping others to help themselves.
The first one I’m blogging about is Kiva.
So what’s it about? Kiva is basically a non-profit organisation that, through the use of the internet worldwide, gets everyday people like you and I, to club together and each lend a very small sum of money to people or groups across the world in third-world countries. As is stated on their website:
“We envision a world where all people
– even in the most remote areas of the globe
– hold the power to create opportunity
for themselves and others.”
I say lend because the money is repaid to you. Yes, there is a risk of default. Yes this happened to me ONCE. I’ve been a member since October 2007 and have made 17 loans so far. So considering those stats, once isn’t bad at all, especially when you consider how volatile some of these countries are. And of course, once that money has been repaid to you, you can re-lend it to someone else. It’s not just individuals either, there are also groups which get together, who commit to paying back whatever they borrow as a team, so if one person gets into difficulty, they all step in and help out.
So why do I do it?
Because I can. Because I have choice in my life. Because at the end of the day I believe in walking my talk, not just talking it.
I believe that if we are in a position to help others without detriment to ourselves, then not only do we have the opportunity before us that will help us to grow, learn and evolve, but that morally, we should. Not by saying the right things, not by putting a plaster over a wound, but instead by choosing to be part of something that empowers people, that allows them to make choices for themselves, that yes, they have to work for and will take the responsibility for of their choices and actions. To actively help to bring about positive change in others’ lives. This of course is my personal belief, what anyone else thinks and eventually acts on, is down to their own choices, beliefs and ultimately, their responsibility.
No, I may not know what actually happens in someone’s life as a result of my actions in “contributing”, no I won’t get (or expect) any kudos for this… but since everything we do, think about and respond to, ripples out and affects others’ lives, isn’t it good to know that you’re actually a part of something bigger than yourself, that you are doing something and that that may bring survival, hope, joy, happiness or even just a roof over someone’s head… and for that, $25.00 is a very small price to pay!
What’s stopping you from helping another?
Kiva’s website can be found by clicking here. If you are already a member, please do share with us your thoughts on the organisation, and if you choose to join, let us know why 🙂