Heart Connections

A Double Dose of Joy


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The publishing staff at Daily Word probably doesn’t want me to publicize that they emailed the same word of inspiration to me two days in a row.

First thing yesterday, Sunday, I pulled up my account to read my daily word, just as I always do. The word was Joy. But wait a minute–Joy was also my word on Saturday.

I remember because Saturday was my birthday and I thought Joy was a great word to relish throughout the day.

Turns out the messages were a bit different and my birthday word, as seen in the publication, was actually Patient.

Ugh. Glad I didn’t know that on Saturday. I had much more fun with Joy!

A whisper from God

Do you ever have times when you know that God–GUS, for me–is giving you a not-so-subtle nudge? Yes, me too. This is one of those times.

From Saturday’s birthday passage: “My strength, my courage, my confidence comes from my relationship with the Divine. God loves me and fills me with a peace that surpasses all understanding.”

And from Sunday’s real Joy reading: “Joy allows me to approach any circumstance with a lightness of spirit and a sense of humor. I love life! When I look at situations with optimism, the world around me reveals wonder for all it offers. My bliss does not depend on outer conditions; rather happiness becomes my innate response, welling up from within.”

I turned 55 on Saturday and I can honestly say that both these passages describe me, at least 95 percent of the time. That hasn’t always been the case. There was a time when I waited for true joy to arrive, like a person who waits 40 or 50 years for retirement so s/he can really live life!

Today–right now–calls for Joy

My sweetie is fond of saying, “There’s no time like the present!” She’s really taught me how to live fully in this very moment and to look for that moment’s joy.

I’ve discovered that joy is the softest pillow on which to lay my head. It is the lodge of contentment where my heart feels deep peace.

Joy can’t be conjured up like a magic spell but it can be called. When nurtured and nourished, joy deepens into layers of cushion, like angel food cake released from a springform pan.

Joy emits smiles, laughter and spontaneous fun. To experience joy is to feel a divine touch, a whispered word: Accept.

Then another word: Receive.

And a third word: Live.

The breath of joy is the song that harmonizes my soul.  I hear the music, feel the beat and dance where I am. For I am joy. And so are you.

Photo courtesy of diannehope

Les Brown, Master Motivator, Is The One


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Not many people know that I worked for The Secret’s Bob Proctor years ago when he owned a small company in Kansas City called Life Success Institute. Yep, I wrote promotional copy for his bestselling book, You Were Born Rich.

Back then I was familiar with the work of Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, John Assaraf, Jack Canfield, Joe Vitale and Michael Bernard Beckwith. They all had one common message spoken with different words and energy. I interpreted and internalized the message this way:

If you can visualize your dream and believe with pure conviction that the dream is coming to you, there is nothing that can stop it from arriving. 

Twenty years ago, while learning from guys like Jeff Smith and Jim Bunch who would go on to lead motivational companies and coach thousands of CEOs before it was cool to be a coach, there was one name I didn’t know: Les Brown.

Eventually I learned that Mr. Brown is considered by many to be the #1 motivational speaker in the world.

And we saw him speak this past Saturday night right here in Frisco, Tex. at Elevate Life Church.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so moved, both during the time we shared soaking up his wisdom and in the days to come as I re-examine my hopes and dreams and decide how to take action toward them.

Here’s a bit of what Mr. Brown shared, none of which is really new, but I heard the words in a new way:

Design a life rather than accept the life you’ve been given.

We have to train our minds to serve us.

Someone’s opinion of you doesn’t have to become your reality.

Leap–and grow your wings on your way down.

If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.

If you do what is easy, your life will be hard.

You will fail your way to success.

Ask for help–and don’t stop until you get it.

There’s a difference between delivering a message and being a message.

Live full. Die empty.

The future belongs to those who prepare for it.

It’s not over until you win.

There’s no way I can capture the energy with which Mr. Brown delivered his message. I can tell you he was real and sincere and captivating. I sat, spellbound, tears leaking from my eyes as he described being raised by an adopted mom after he and his twin brother were delivered in an abandoned building in Miami.

His young school years were grueling as he was tagged as a stupid kid, held back in two different grade years.

Les Brown said there is one of two words imprinted in our hearts somewhere between the ages of zero and five years. That word is either Yes or No.

His word was Yes and, as an adult, he burned with passion to speak up, to speak out, to change lives and to encourage others to do the same.

Les Brown leads with love of family and his God. His message of hope, determination and positivity resonated. He left us with this culminating thought:

You’ve got to be hungry. He will never forsake you or leave you but  . . . you must refuse to be denied.

And so it is.

Photo courtesy of BryanHanson

Easter Monday Reflections


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Let me say from the git-go that I’ve never considered myself a religious person, except perhaps in college during a deeply philosophical conversation and far too much liquor. If I ever acted religious, it was for show.

Not being religious gave me a heady, intellectual persona, or so I thought (Alcohol was probably talking again.). With recovery, not only did the alcohol go away, so did the idea that I had to find a religious type.

Instead, I took up with spirituality. People in recovery told me I could live with a higher power–a God of my understanding–and I was good with that.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my Fat Tuesday impulsive decision to write daily essays during Lent based on prompts from Rev. Phil Ressler’s book, 40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond: A 40 Day Devotion Series for the Season of Lent. I set the intention of getting more God in my life.

You see, I was kind of coasting during the early part of this year. Feeling kind of blah for no real reason. You know the story–everything is fine but nothing is really good. I needed a shake-up and now that I’m on the backside of 40 days of publishing 350-500 words each day, I’m feeling pretty darn good.

I wish I could fully express what writing those 40 essays did for me. (To read the series, go to my Facebook Notes page.) It feels like a pretty cool accomplishment and I’m grateful for the reader interaction.

The best part about the practice of letting go of 40 different things–and writing about it–was my heart opened as it hasn’t in a long, long time.

My open heart led me to say yes when my sweetie asked if I wanted to go to a church service on Saturday night. A friend and colleague of hers asked if we would be her guest at the Saturday evening Easter service at Elevate Life Church here in Frisco, Tx.

This is my Year of Yes, so I had to go. My mind was open but I was not prepared for the swell of emotions that washed over me during the evening. From the time we stepped out of the car in the cathedral’s parking lot to the time we stepped out of the ladies room following the service, we felt a genuine welcome and warmth from the multitude of volunteers.

The production of the Easter story was moving and masterful. My eyes leaked torrents of tears from start to finish.

I was surprisingly absorbed by the musical uplift and by Pastor Keith Craft’s message about seeing the proof and feeling the promise of the Resurrection. He said a resurrection plays out for each of us as we feel renewed or restored to our Christ-like selves (not his words, but the words that work for me).

I was carried away from the experience on a blanket of love. I felt (and feel) unstoppable–that word is Pastor Craft’s. I know the power of Christ is deep within me, that Jesus is a part of me. I guess that makes me religious after all.

Who knows what happens next. I don’t much care. I gave up a lot of things during Lent but gained so much more. On this Easter Monday, I am an Easter-sated gal ready to take on the world!

Photo courtesy of lauramusikanski

My Friend’s Father Just Died


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A friend’s father took his last breath about 20 minutes before I began writing this post.

She and I were high school classmates but I did not know her dad. I don’t think that matters when you’ve carried a friendship for nearly 40 years.

After seeing the news on Facebook, where she kept us all posted and we offered steady prayer, I sat down to type out a few thoughts. Then I called my own father.

My friend’s mom passed away a little more than a year ago and I shared my experience with losing your mother. Someday I expect she’ll share with me what it’s like to live on as a daughter without either parent.

My classmate wrote on Facebook that one thought that comforted her during her father’s final days was knowing her parents would be reunited. I’m betting that she’s clutching that thought like a warm blanket on a wintry day.

And then there’s new life

My nieces are each getting ready to have children. The youngest, who is having her first child, will deliver in less than a month. My older niece will have her second child about three weeks later.

I think they’re both terribly brave to bring little ones into this world of violence, race and religious wars and the deadly plague of addiction. The latter terrifies me; in fact, is one of the main reasons I am not a parent. But that’s another subject for another time.

In the natural course of things, all three children will one day endure the heartbreak of losing their mothers and fathers. Although all too often these days, the child dies first in a gut-wrenching reverse order.

I have another friend who’s college freshman granddaughter was found dead in her room on campus recently.

Unspeakable tragedy.

Have no regrets

Leave nothing undone. Don’t put off anything important. Say I love you often. Make phone calls even when you don’t want to. Follow your gut—if you think you ought to get in touch with somebody, you should.

Today.

Live now. Say and be and do the things that matter to you. Don’t spend one moment sweating the small stuff because you’re bigger than small stuff.

You matter. There is no one else—no one!-who can live your life as you can. Don’t let them.

Try lots of new things. Say yes to as many requests, ideas and offers that you can.

Don’t let other people get to you, especially strangers. Who the hell cares what other people think? It’s none of their business!

Have a go at living large today. Don’t hold back. This may be the only shot you’ve got, so make it good.

If you mess up, so what? The sun will still go down tonight. My friend Tess Marshall says, “Oh well. Who cares? Next?”

Be good to yourself as you’re being good to others. You are one of the others.

Always play your best hand even if you have to bluff every now and then.

When the time comes for you to draw your last breath, you’ll have two choirs of angels surrounding you, one here and one to carry you to whatever comes next.

Now THAT was a life well lived. Rest in peace, Rev. Huelse.

Stay Sane This Week With Christmas Quotes


BHT Christmas photoReprinted from December 1, 2014. Merry Christmas 2015–may your hearts and minds be filled with love, laughter and light!

Happy December! For those of you who love Christmas like I do, welcome to the 2014 season. It is this time of year, more than any other, that helps me know that hope does spring eternal and love is the greatest reason to live.

However, for all the sparkling lights, boughs of pine scents and piped in mall music, many of you struggle through the holidays. You may even wake up every day in December grateful that you’re one day closer to January 2 because you’re worn out by family drama and/or exhibitions of addiction.

Regardless of your circumstances, know that you’ll survive. You’re tough and resilient. But when things get tough, turn to these 31 Christmas quotes–one for each day of December–and allow yourself to take a breath and mindfully remember the season is about love. And in the words of Dr. Seuss, “Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”

2. Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.  ~ Calvin Coolidge

3. Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

4. It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~ W. T. Ellis

6087e53d8a293c77740cda01943252f35. If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. ~ Bob Hope

6. A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together. ~ Garrison Keillor

7. I love the excitement, the childlike spirit of innocence and just about everything that goes along with Christmas. ~ Hillary Scott

8. Christmas makes me happy no matter what time of year it comes around. ~ Bryan White

9. There are a lot of Grinches out there that would like nothing better than to take any references to religion out of the holiday season. ~ Ernest Istook

10. To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year. ~ E. B. White

11. Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeer, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas. ~ Ronald Reagan

12. Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone. ~ Charles M. Schulz

13. This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone. ~ Taylor Caldwell

14. Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves. ~ Eric Sevareid

15. Christmas, my child, is love in action. ~ Dale Evans

16. Peace on earth will come to stay, When we live Christmas every day. ~ Helen Steiner Rice

17. I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

christmas-is-a-precious-reminder-christmas-quotes18. Remember, if Christmas isn’t found in your heart, you won’t find it under a tree. ~ Charlotte Carpenter

19. Christmas is the keeping-place for memories of our innocence. ~ Joan Mills

20. With this in mind, Ava tells herself to be present and celebrate the holiday instead of wishing it was over. After all, one is given only a certain number of Christmases in one’s life. ~ Elin Hilderbrand in Winter Street.

21. The month of December isn’t magical because it sparkles. It’s magical because it changes people’s hearts … at least momentarily. ~ Toni Sorenson

22. Christmas is best pondered, not with logic, but with imagination. ~ Max Lucado

23. Christmas is a whisper of peace and a sigh of hope on the lips of love.” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich

24. If my Valentine you won’t be, I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree. ~ Ernest Hemingway, 88 Poems

25. Why not share with the world the way it is and tell them my feelings about my cat, and how I played with my kids, and how addicted to Christmas time I am, and the smell of pine needles and hearing my kids laugh. ~ Steven Tyler

26. You have to remind kids to stay connected to the meaning of Christmas. Sometimes it takes a little bit of effort, but it’s so worth it. ~ Caroline Kennedy

27. I think it’s important not to grow up too fast. I’m 26 now, and I still can’t wait for Christmas Day. The inner seven-year-old isn’t buried too deeply in me. ~ Laura Haddock

28. It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one’s fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit. ~ Isabel Currier

29. Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you. ~ Steve Maraboli, Unimagesapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

30. One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly. ~ Andy Rooney

31. For the spirit of Christmas fulfils the greatest hunger of mankind.  ~ Loring A. Schuler