Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Please see "By the Way" to the right of this post for new URL.  :-)

Monday, April 13, 2009

"To Do" List for This Week

This week, Join me in doing eight things to change the "structure of the Universe." Each act will be different for each individual. You will know what it is that you should do when it comes to mind.

1. Do something that may not be the easiest thing to do for you, but is the RIGHT, the ethical, the moral and the just thing to do.
" Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity." W. Clement Stone

2. Perform a generous, totally selfless, yet completely anonymous act. Make sure that no one knows who has done this.
"We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them." Buddha
"Through selfless work, love of God grows in the heart. Then through his grace one realizes him in course of time. God can be seen. One can talk to him as I am talking to you." Ramakrishna

3. Visit an elderly person, and do something for that person, like write a letter, spend some time, do yardwork, etc.
"I can't help myself, every old person in the street has my number.If it's not a morning paper, bread or milk I’m delivering, it's usually a little job needing done in their house.I'm always having joke with them and just a wee bit time of day costs nothing." Anonymous

4. Volunteer for 2 hours (apart from what you do in number 3.) (This could be at a soup kitchen, an animal shelter, etc., and is different from any other act on this list.)
"If you help others, you will be helped, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in one hundred years, but you will be helped. Nature must pay off the debt. It is a mathematical law and all life is mathematics." G. I Gurdjieff
"At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service." Fred Rogers

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Gandhi

5. Cook a healthy, tasty vegan meal, for you, your family, and invite someone to this meal. (There are millions of websites and recipes on the internet. ) If you like, make it a vegan potluck with friends at your house. This vegan meal will cause no harm, lessen global warming, and will be kind to other creatures.
"Ultimately, living with compassion means striving to maximize the good we accomplish, not following a set of rules or trying to fit a certain label. From eating less meat to being vegan, our actions are only a means to an end: decreasing suffering.
What we choose to eat makes a powerful statement about our ethics and our view of the world -- about our very humanity. Whenever we choose not to buy meat, eggs, and dairy products, we withdraw our support from cruelty to animals, undertake an economic boycott of factory farms, and support the production of cruelty-free foods.
Regardless of any other beliefs we hold and however else we choose to lead our lives, each of us can decide to act with kindness and compassion. Making humane choices is the ultimate affirmation of our humanity." Matt Ball

6. Forgive someone for something, and (tactfully, and without pride or ego) let that person know, in some way, that they have been forgiven.
"Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible and anger makes no sense. Attack is gone, and madness has an end." "Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free." (from A Course in Miracles)

7. Do something, (anything that is ethical and moral, and does no harm, of course), that noticeably, symbolically, demonstrates to yourself and others blind optimism for mankind, -- something that will serve in your life as a symbol of optimism for the human race -- without fear of what anyone thinks, what anyone might say.
"People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?"
-Thich Nhat Hanh

8. Express heartfelt gratitude to someone for something they are or have done. This should be something for which you've not expressed gratitude before.
"When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears." Anthony Robbins
"Good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else." Buddha

I would love to hear about experiences you have while accomplishing this "to do" list.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Life Goes On

"But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh, we deprive a soul of the sun and light and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy." –Plutarch

"The first step in spiritual life is to have compassion. A person who is kind and loving never needs to go searching for God. God rushes toward any heart that beats with compassion-it is God's favorite place." Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi Devi)

When we woke up this morning, three, year-old does were just awakening in the hollow by the side of our rental house in Placerville. They are no longer accompanied by the mamma doe and daddy buck that had watched over them so carefully this past year. The air was thick, humid, and almost ready to break into a soft, consistent rain as I began to take some snapshots of the surrounding landscape. This may be the last rain of the season, maybe not. The foothills have been wearing an emerald green grass coat all winter, and now almost everything, is wearing Nature’s jewelry. In the back yard, a weepy, willowy tree is strung with necklaces of soft, fragrant, pink jewels, cascading down the entire length of the tree. The Japanese elm which had spent the winter naked is now dressed in a flaming burgundy embellished with flowers like vibrant red sequins. The rich green camellia bushes that line one side of the back patio are now in full bloom, with a seemingly never-ending supply of red and pink blooms. The chrysanthemums I planted last fall in the rain boots, are still clothed in dried oak leaves, but now they have pushed new vibrant green growth out past last year’s brown stems that had long ago succumbed to the cold. The front yard is bursting with foliage and blooms in vivid greens, reds and whites and yellows. Big grey squirrels climb up and down velvety moss-covered trunks and limbs. Birds of all colors, azure, red, yellow, orange, flit about the ground and trees, as they go about their daily rounds, proudly singing out their territorial warbles. This afternoon, at 2:30, we will go to see if the rental house we are living in will be auctioned off at a sheriff’s sale, or if our landlord has been able to make an eleventh hour short sale. We have extended our lease through May, so we will go to the steps of the County courthouse building to find out who our landlord will be for the next two months. I am not puzzled why I feel sadness in leaving this house. I have come to know these creatures that ventured so close to where we have lived this past year. We have followed the lives of the pregnant does, watched their fawns prance and frolick about the yard, grow stronger and lose their spots as they reached adolescence, and, just yesterday one of them stood on the back porch sniffing the lidded bucket where I kept the feed, looking straight at me through the window as if to say, “Did you forget to fill my bowl? I think there’s still some left here in the bucket.” The wild turkey brood that visited got close enough so I could see the detail of their beautiful golden markings on their feathers. They are magnificent birds. Upon our arrival at our steep road up to the house, the red-breasted robin that lived in the yard would recognize my car, fly ahead of my car, escorting me up the hill, frequently stopping a bit ahead on the pavement to see if my car was catching up. Later the blue jays would take over and become the bosses of the air space. I would sometimes see eight at a time in the yard. All these things I will miss.

The house may have a new owner, and new occupants, but the same deer will bring their fawns to eat the grass, and bed down for the night on the side of the house, or sometimes in the protected grove in the front. Someone will watch them from the living room window as they stretch, prepare for the day and rise with the morning sun. Someone will witness the magnificent turkeys ambling their way down from the top of the hill, late on warm, sunny afternoons to search for seeds and insects. I wonder if the next occupant will have hulled sunflower seeds ready for them. The squirrels will still trek the tops of the trees, crossing from limb to limb, their soft grey tails undulating and floating behind them like furry kites. It will all continue without me. It would be quite egotistical to think otherwise. I am really the only unnecessary element in the picture. Life goes on, literally and figuratively, regardless of our pointless scurrying, our egotistical attempts to own and control it, and our abrasive attempts to exploit it. Whoever buys this property will probably watch the same deer standing up on their haunches, reaching to nibble at the new growth on the apple trees, occasionally scoring a few juicy apples. They will no doubt see the same turkey family as it strolls through the yard, the same squirrels as they conference in the front yard about who-knows-what. The new occupants will hear the same melodious birdsongs that have returned with the spring. The sun will still rise and set once every 24 hours. The moon will wax and wane each month. Soft rains will come again. Every spring, the world will renew itself, and begin again -- all of this, regardless of our ephemeral and temporary presence, will go on. And, in time, like my brother, my mother and my father, I , too, will disappear -- we all will disappear leaving impermanent, treasured trinkets in our paths like great grandmother’s china passed from generation to generation, inadequate souvenirs of ourselves left behind for those who remain. Those who remember us will speak of us as long as they remember, and, years from now, perhaps someone will tell a story or two about us that they had experienced, or, later on, perhaps a story that had been told to them by someone who knew someone who knew us, but, inevitably, there will come a time, when no one really remembers us, who we were, what we believed in, dreamed of, hoped for, strived to accomplish. Eventually, great grandmother’s dishes will be all that remain of her. There will be a few of us who will be written into history, but even then our images will be displayed on pages, and the young contemporaries will read the two-dimensional tales, find our distant deeds mildly entertaining at most, and look at the curious photographs, finding our hairstyles and clothing fashions quaint at best. We may be famous, or infamous, for an act or two, but no one will be there to remember who we really were. We will have been added to a strangely grouped, random “society” of anonymous ancestors, like those before us, shadows of who we were in life, like the faded, musty, old photos of unknowns, for sale, piled in baskets in antique shops. Eventually, our only mark on this earth will be how our generation has left it for those who followed – we will leave behind a strange kind of communal , collective “soup” bequeathed to those who follow. What will this “soup” look like after we are no longer remembered by anyone? How will history judge us?

Like others, I have hopes for the future of my species, aspects of my species of which I am proud, and aspects of my species for which I am deeply embarrassed. The science of man has far outreached the humanity of man. We can travel in outer space, grow new organs with stem cells, “see” microscopic parts of atoms, demystify our own genetic code and yet we have not mastered the simplest things: kindness, compassion, love. Mental illness, poverty and suffering are on the rise, as is global warming, wars, animosity, and pollution. We perform the cruelest, most selfish acts in the name of religion. We have all the knowledge to create sustainable cultures, yet we are still destroying ourselves, individually as well as globally. We know the dangers of plastics, pesticides and other chemicals, yet we continue to poison the earth and ourselves with them. We have all the knowledge we need to provide inexpensive holistic preventive care for ourselves, yet we continue to support an expensive, primitive, reactive approach to medicine and health care. As a species, we are guilty of eating the wrong kinds of foods that are cultivated and prepared in an unhealthy manner, food that deadens our taste buds and our arteries; with every bite, we renounce our identity as caretaker of our bodies and of the planet to feed our voracious appetite for limitless consumption. We are destroying our planet’s atmosphere, dirtying it with pollution and with methane from feedlots full of animals that we will torture and kill in a most inhumane way in death houses hidden far away from our homes so we don’t have to think about it, ignoring the most inconvenient truth of all, that to survive individually, as a species, and as a planet, we must truly become caretakers of our environment, we must stop factory farming and consumption of other living creatures for food, we must serve as an example for the generations to come. In spring, we caution the children to hold the baby chick ever so gently, teaching the child to take great care and to have compassion for its welfare and a reverence for life, and then for lunch, we serve a plate of misery and death and never broach the subject, in complete denial of the chicken’s fate. We keep the chickens in cages too small for them to turn around and stretch their wings, or in spaces so crowded they die from the ammonia fumes. We hook and hang them by their feet and dunk them while they are still alive into boiling water to make the feathers easier to pluck from their bodies. We turn cows into cannibals by giving them feed that has the ground up bodies of sick and dead cows and sheep, as well as chicken manure added to the feed as a filler and antibiotics– and then we hang them by a back leg, slit their throats and let them bleed out, many of them still alive, aware and suffering, only stunned by the pipe gun fired at their skulls–then we cut up, grind, and eat the cows. In so many ways we have become the savage, uncaring, deadly predator that we fear is lurking outside of our caves.

These are things that we must not turn away from, we must face this reality and metamorphose to more enlightened beings if we wish to be more than a brief, bright flame that will burn itself out too soon. The earth is resilient. Gaia will, no doubt, survive our ravaging, and, eons from now, when we are long gone, it will have replenished itself and will live again in some other form. If we destroy ourselves, the other creatures, and the irreplaceable paradise, the Earth will probably still, somehow, regenerate and eventually create a new paradise from the ruins of the old – without us. We will be to the Earth what great grandmother will be to the shopper in the antique mart who picks up a piece of her china.

But, still, . . . as I watch the year-old doe outside the window nibbling on new green sprouts -- unaware that in a short time she will bear her first fawns, as the turkeys amble past -- soon to nest and produce their own brood, and as the family of squirrels convene in the yard, and the trees and plants that looked so barren through the winter, now dress up in Spring colors, I feel that , like our Earthly home, mankind is also resilient. I know that there need not be a sentence of doom and gloom for our species or our planet. In fact, the trial has not concluded, and there is still time for the human species to make its case – if we act soon. We must rise and find joy in our role as caretaker of all this abundance. We have all we need to have, we know all we need to know, and we are exactly who and where we should be at this very moment – we are at the dawn of a new era, and what that era will be is up to us. A few years ago, in a television commercial funded by a religious faith, a little boy asks his father what is in his daily planner. The father answers that in that book Daddy keeps all the information about the important people in Daddy’s day. The scene concludes with the little boy asking, “Am I in that book?” We need to schedule an epiphany into our Earthly planner. If we rethink our priorities, mankind will see another Spring on Earth. I was raised to always try to return something in an equal or better condition after it had been entrusted to me. We must ask ourselves with everything we do, “What effect will my action have? Am I doing no harm? What condition will the earth be, will our human race be, when we turn it over to those who follow? -------------- Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bring On the Elegance!

"Let us be together, let us eat together,
let us be vital together, let us be radiating truth,
radiating the light of life, never shall we denounce anyone,
never entertain negativity."
--The Upanishads, ancient Vedic text

When asked to think of a memorable dining experience, in terms of atmosphere, presentation, flavors, and other factors, how many of us will recall an experience in a restaurant, rather than a dining experience in our own homes? Why should we find an experience in a strange location, served by strangers, dining amongst other tables of strangers more memorable than our own homes, where we are in familiar surroundings, attended to by loved ones, dining in the company of loved ones, eating food that has been prepared with love? In these tough economic times we can all benefit from reducing our food bills by not eating out as often, but if we take something away without replacing it with something of equal or greater significance, we may feel that we are deprived. Why not substitute the dining-out experience with an elegant dining-in experience?

Hindu tradition says that if food is prepared lovingly it is more easily digested. Following Ayurvedic protocol which calls for a “rounded” or “balanced” variety of flavors (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, etc.) to soothe the spirit as well as the palate, the individual is actually satisfied with less food, feeling fuller sooner. I think that we respond positively to elegant presentation and atmosphere because it reflects the care and mindfulness of the person(s) preparing the meal and atmosphere.

Why do we set the table more elegantly, and pay more attention to preparation of food and atmosphere when guests come to dine, and not when “just the family” is dining? (If you are a member of a household, how many meals do you eat together each week? If you are single, how many meals do you eat standing up at the counter, not even bothering to sit down, let alone set the table?)

The French possess a most marvelous attitude towards dining. Whether they are eating a picnic lunch, an evening meal after a long day’s work, or a Sunday repast, they bring an element of style to the experience. The French have an extraordinary knack for bringing style to the mundane, for elevating a daily dining ritual to a simple elegance. This attention to detail is evident in their preparation and presentation of food, harmony and balance of flavors, table placement, the atmosphere, the pacing of the meal, and much more. They have practiced it so long it is innate, and many are not even aware of how wonderfully they perform their dining ritual. There is no reason that we cannot follow their lead. It is easily achieved with little expense, and one can receive a wealth of return for the effort! Most households have a tablecloth, or a set of placemats, an array of dinnerware and eating instruments (Yes, most cutlery sets come with salad forks as well as main course forks!) Bringing elegance to each meal mostly has to do with mindfulness and a little attention to detail. For quite a while, American culture has emphasized quantity over quality, but it is the quality, the attention that we imbue upon it that is memorable.

Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of the importance of mindfulness, paying attention to everything, every experience in our day, including breathing. Mindfulness can slow down the frenzied pace of the day. So many of us eat non-nutritive, tasteless, processed food so quickly that we do not even taste it. This cannot be good for either the body or the spirit.

So, for your next meal, and every meal to follow, I propose we do the following:

--Set the table, paying attention to the visual, the aesthetic. Make it beautiful and soothing.
--Place a flower or two (real or silk) in a vase on the table.
--Arrange the dinnerware and cutlery elegantly (and correctly!)
--Lower the lighting, perhaps add a candle or two.
--Turn off the television and play some soothing music. Turn off the cell phones, and turn the ringer off the land line. Let voicemail take a message.
--Opt for courses, rather than country style, one course at a time, so you pay attention and really taste the food.
--Eat slowly.
--Maintain pleasant conversation.
--Use good table manners.
--On Sunday, or one other day, you may want to make dining a real occasion, and dress up for the meal.

If you are a family that never eats together, it’s time to begin again. Make meals together a priority. It will help you pay attention to your loved ones, and will do wonders for family relationships. If you are eating on paper plates with plastic cutlery, do yourself a favor -- value yourself a little more, and save the paper and plastic for pot luck dinners and picnics. Food looks so much better on a real plate! All of this requires only a little investment of your attention, care and time. The return on your investment will come to you in improved family relationships, actually tasting the food, and, most importantly, happiness.

“Do we need to make a special effort to enjoy the beauty of the blue sky? Do we have to practice to be able to enjoy it? No, we just enjoy it. Each second, each minute of our lives can be like this. Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine,the presence of each other, even the sensation of our breathing. We don't need to go to China to enjoy the blue sky. We don't have to travel into the future to enjoy our breathing. We can be in touch with these things right now.” --Thich Nhat Hanh

“If we do not change our daily lives,we cannot change the world. “ – Thich Nhat Hanh

“The foundation of happiness is mindfulness. The basic condition for being happy is our consciousness of being happy. If we are not aware that we are happy, we are not really happy. When we have a toothache, we know that not having a toothache is a wonderful thing. But when we do not have a toothache, we are still not happy. A non-toothache is very pleasant. There are so many things that are enjoyable, but when we don’t practice mindfulness, we don’t appreciate them. When we practice mindfulness, we come to cherish these things and we learn how to protect them. By taking good care of the present moment, we take good care of the future. Working for peace in the future is to work for peace in the present moment.”
--Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Here We Go: An Invitation

I’m starting this blog about optimism in the 21st Century because I truly believe that our thoughts can manifest in many ways, including physical form. Uncontrolled anger and fear can manifest in negative ways such as terrorism, violence, disease, and brutality. Conversely, Love, empathy, compassion, and understanding (with optimism) can bring a brighter world for us all. With each experience in our lives we make a choice: “Will I let this make me better or bitter as a person?” Having experience with enough difficult situations in my own life, I know that eventually, something positive can result from difficult situations if we resolve to stay positive and optimistic, in other words, to become “better” and not become “bitter” as a result. You may say,”Easier said than done.” I agree that it’s difficult to stay positive in tense, trying moments – but it is always possible. In the words of the Dalai Lama, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Whenever I come to the crossroads of a decision, especially those involving a person who may not be very sympathetic towards me, I always try to remember this quote. I always see the smiling face of the Dalai Lama in my mind’s eye when these words go through my head. His face, the unconditional Love in his eyes, soften my heart every time, and help me to choose the wiser, kinder decision whenever possible. (Check out my website,, “Kathleen’s Quotes” page, to see this quote and a picture of the Dalai Lama.) I know if I keep my resolve to become better, instead of bitter, as a result of rising above the difficulties, I will become a better person.

There are a few things that I know for sure. One of them is whatever I teach, I truly learn. Ask any teacher, and they will tell you that if you want to learn something well, you must teach it to others. When I attended school at UNAM in Mexico City, I met a fellow student in one of my conversation classes who was working on his Master’s degree in Spanish. He was fluent in Spanish. What intrigued me most about him is HOW he first learned the language. He had never mastered a language before tackling Spanish. His commanding officer in the military told him he was going to teach a group of soldiers Spanish. It did not matter to the officer that this gentleman did not speak a word of Spanish. There was no debating about it; he would be the Spanish teacher. My question to him was, “How did you teach a language you did not speak, let alone had never studied?” He responded, “I kept one chapter ahead of my students. I learned each chapter well, so I could teach it to my students. I became so adept at it that I decided to major in it, and get a Master’s degree in it.” As a result of a difficult situation, he became “better.” This works every time for most of us. All we need is to be presented with a difficulty, and have the resolve to make the best of it in a positive way. I’m not sure if that’s a reward from God, or if it’s just a simple consequence of preparing material to teach to others, but it works every time for me. Whether it’s a spiritual concept, or a mathematical theorem, or an element of a foreign language, if I share my journey with others, I am rewarded with learning it more effectively and completely myself. Tony Robbins, who has mastered both the field of self-development, and the ability to teach it to others, speaks of the experiences we are most likely to learn from. We learn most effectively from those experiences that bring us either great pain or pleasure. Somehow we are programmed to thrive when things go from bad to worse. A brilliant line from the movie Starman, comes to mind about human beings being at their best when things are at their worst. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes so eloquently expresses, we were made for this. “My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times.” (See full quote on another place on this blog, as well as on my Quotation page on my website.)
We are truly a powerhouse of energy and abilities that allow us to manifest wherever we direct our attention. We are able to do all this while maintaining millions of actions and reactions within and outside of our bodies. Most of us only put this energy and these abilities to work when we are in a crisis. And now, we find ourselves in a crisis that is larger and further reaching than we can even conceptualize. Day after day, we watch banks and corporations fail, businesses either forced to downsize and lay good, hardworking people off or cease to exist, businesses and factories closing without warning, unable to even pay severance and unused vacation leave. We watch managers stressed to the max, worried about the laid-off workers and their families. We watch the “credit industry” grinding to a halt, as the housing market stalls. “Going out of business” signs go up in windows of businesses that have been long-time institutions in the American economic scene. As we watch the dominoes fall, one after another, we wonder what will happen next – and we are afraid. Everything is changing. When the dominoes are done falling, the world will be different. It is up to us to determine if it will be a friendly or a frightening place, a “better” or a “bitter” place.. The world is changing like it has never changed before, and it is happening VERY fast. As a nation, as citizens of the world, we must go through a grieving process for the old paradigm before we can get on to something new. Because everything is happening so fast, we must get through the grieving process faster than before.

As human beings, we must, under the present circumstances, sail quickly through the Seven stages of Grief. We must possess, at all times, what Deepak Chopra entitles “power, freedom, and grace.” (Read his book by the same name.) He alerts us to the importance of time spent "in silent communion with your soul," always posing important questions, maintaining awareness of the moment and of the body's wisdom, transcending fears, and most importantly paying attention to all of this, being open to and wise about the answers that the universe presents to us. There is no time to delay. We are now forced to get through the stages of grief quickly. Stage 1 is “shock and denial.” We all have watched the news in numbed disbelief, refusing to feel the pain, thinking the next government fix will be the one that solves everything for us.. Perhaps this stage has been happening too long. We’ve seen Suze Orman preaching to the masses about the dangers of buying more on credit than you can afford to pay for, financing expensive homes with “liar's loans,” living above our means with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, pulling equity out of our houses, paying one credit card with another credit card, spending when we should be saving first, looking to materialism to fill the holes in our souls, , knowing, deep down, that the train wreck will arrive soon, but trying not to think of it. The second stage of grief is “pain and guilt,” a feeling that we are all getting to know too well in these times. Modern psychology tells us that the most important thing to do is to FEEL THIS STAGE COMPLETELY – even though it feels uncontrollably chaotic and frightening, don’t avoid it, don’t self medicate with drugs or alcohol or other addictions. The third stage is “anger and bargaining,” where our frustration turns to anger, where we may blame others and lash out at them. This is when people release bottled up emotion. Modern psychology warns us that we need to control this stage, because we may do permanent damage to our relationships, our lives, if this gets out of control. This is the “why me?” stage. It’s also the time when we try to do anything we can to bargain with the powers that be, human or divine, for a way out of the despair. The fourth stage of grief is “depression, reflection, loneliness.” During this stage the encouragement from others doesn’t help much. It’s a stage that must be felt in order to get through to the other side, past grief. You realize the reality of your loss, what it means. You may be depressed, feel the need for isolation, dwell on memories of the past. Stage five is “the upward turn” in which you begin to feel the calm AFTER the storm. Your life becomes a little more organized, and you begin to feel slightly better. Stage six is “reconstruction and working through.” You see the light at the end of the tunnel, and more importantly, you see how you can get there. You begin to be realistic, and practical about solving your problems, and reconstructing your life. The seventh and last stage of grief is “acceptance and hope.” Although acceptance does not bring immediate happiness, you sense that you are finally walking out into the light. You begin to make plans for the future. The “wrenching pain” is no longer dominating your day, and you begin to find joy in life again.

We are all grieving for a way of life that will not exist in the same way as it did before. It may be different, but it does not have to strip us of the joy we find in living. Only if we are attached to material goods will we find life truly difficult. If we look around us for what really matters, , we will realize that this existence is overflowing with wealth – we are surrounded by an abundance of what we really need to make us happy – people we love and who love us, nature (that in spite of how we have abused it provides us with so much happiness and pleasure, ) good health(and the ability to make good choices that contribute to even better health), intellectual challenges and learning opportunities – a universe of possibilities to use our God-given gifts for the benefit of mankind and all creation. It is now the time for us to turn towards co-creation. We all possess abilities that, when offered with heart, can create a better world for all. It is time for us to be at our best, when things are at their worst. We now have the opportunity to redefine not only ourselves, but also our society, our world, the very structure of our universe. It is now time for us to push past our fears, have a little faith, throw off the superficial shell of materialism and to really count for something, reconstructing our future, realigning our values. Whenever fear of the unknown starts to take over, I remember a very inspiring quote by Gary Michael Durst, from Napkin Notes on the Art of Living. “That which you fear confronting the most should be what you confront first! That's the area of your life that is taking away most of your aliveness right now. The instant you push beyond the barrier, you'll notice that whatever you were afraid of vanished, evaporated.... When you're up against a barrier, clarity is right there on the other side. That's what comes next. The light at the end of the tunnel is there--you just have to open your eyes. When you confront a barrier, you'll realize it was a phantom. It was a product of your own imagination. It will disappear in a cloud of smoke, and you'll ask yourself, "Why was I afraid of that?"
So, I would like to invite you on this journey with me. I will share with you what I know and what I want to learn and assimilate, and I hope you will share the same from your experience. We can learn from each other. We will keep “one chapter ahead,” and teach each other what we learn. One little candle can light the darkness. We can be a whole bunch of candles. Together, we can change consciousness. I look forward to hearing from you. Please keep your comments, positive, uplifting, and as brief as possible, so that I can put them on my blog. Thank you.