Mindful Monday

Stop Acting in Self-Defense

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Kahlil Gibran said, “Often times I have hated in self-defense; if I were stronger I would not have used such a weapon.”

I read this quote in Peace on the Inside. The author, Karen Jandorf, offered this as practice:

“The manifestation of hate typically has force, energy and power. But if you think about it, hate generally derives from a sense of powerlessness.

“Perhaps the world would be a more loving place if, when a sense of powerlessness arises, we made ourselves the object of our compassion rather than making others the object of our hate.”

Wow–this really gets to the heart of so many of my reactions to people and situations involving people. In my 12-step world I know this phenomenon of the mind as “when I am disturbed,” it’s always about me–100% of the time.

“I have hated in self-defense.” 

We can bring hatred down several notches so it becomes proving my point, justifying why I’m right and stating my case. It’s still self-defense, isn’t it?

Most negative emotions are about self-defense and are usually about me not getting what I think I need, want or deserve.

“Made ourselves the object of our compassion rather than making others the object of our hate.”

I can stop trying to prove myself. There is no need if I treat myself as I generally treat others and hope that others treat me. Instead of proving myself, I can work on loving myself, nurturing myself and paying attention to my own needs instead of waiting for someone else to tend to them.

There is no need to prove myself if I believe in me, if I believe I am a beautiful being and if I know in my heart than my GUS is completely thrilled with me.

Compassion toward one’s self–which requires a good amount of inner “me” time–is missing in today’s instant-on culture. Mostly we’re busy doing instead of being. The state of “doingness” without a balance of beingness is a set-up for potential hateful situations.

And . . .

If I am good with me–loving, accepting, tolerant, forgiving–then powerlessness has no place in my life. I’m in a much better position to allow life to flow and to ride with the flow instead of struggling against it.

One thing, in case anyone is keeping score, I am aware that I’m powerless over most everything in my life, including alcohol and drugs. That’s a different storyline from this one–maybe next week’s blog post?

Perhaps. In the meantime, please enjoy your week and do take some time to just be.

Photo courtesy of scotsann

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

A Fat Tuesday Impulsive Decision

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Fat Tuesday, the day when folks let the good times roll before some sort of abstinence begins on Ash Wednesday and (hopefully) sustains itself through Easter, was kind of weird.

I’m not a regular churchgoer so I seldom tie anything of real significance to Lent. This year, however, I felt the need to shore up my relationship with God a bit. Why not give God a good 40-day commitment?

I jumped online and found a great book called 40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond, by Reverend Phil Ressler.

Each day, Rev. Ressler writes about giving something up, like negativity, apathy or complaining. He ties in scripture and suggested actions.

I decided to write daily essays based on Rev. Ressler’s topics. They’ve been fun to explore and write and most importantly, my God-shoring is going well! Here’s a portion of one of the essays:

Giving Up Impatience

Sometimes I wish a magician would snap her fingers in front of me and make all the challenges to my character (aka, character defects) disappear. Sigh . . .
I suppose I’ll always pine for the easier, softer way. GUS (God-Universe-Spirit) chuckles every time I pine because there IS an easier, softer way—just not the one I imagine.
It’s called surrender.
Years ago, when I still lived in Missouri, I had a vanity license plate on my car (pictured above). SURNDR. The first time my brother saw the plate, he stood staring at it for the longest time. Grinning, he finally turned to me and said, “I know what it means.”
What? I asked, happy that he figured it out.
“So You Are In Drive,” he said, proud of himself. (You’d have to know my brother to appreciate his sense of humor.)
Isn’t it ironic that surrender for me, a woman in long-term recovery from addiction, and for all the other recovering people I know, is the opposite of “so you are in drive?”
Being perpetually “in drive,” leads to impatience. Just for today, maybe I should consider being in idle.
So how exactly do we let go of impatience on this fourth day of Lent?
Phil Ressler writes in his 40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond-the book this writing series studies-that “patience is about love.”
He suggests giving up impatience with God, with yourself and with others. I think being patient with myself is probably the most difficult of the three.
I’ve whined in 12-step meetings over the years that I want what I want when I want it. Each time I say the words, every head in the room nods back at me.
We are an instant fix, instant problem-solved, instant get-from-here-to-there kind of people.
What about enjoying the journey? It’s impossible to focus on being when you’re rushing, pushing and pressing forward.
Breathe. Just breathe.

You can find more essays like this on my Facebook page under Facebook Notes. Please enjoy and share!

Trees of Peace From Germany & Gethsemane

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I have two incredible stories to share with you on this 1st day of February, in this leap year.

The first–published in the New York Times a few days ago, tells the story of a German forest ranger named Peter Wohllben who wrote a bestselling book called The Hidden Life of Trees:What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World.

Wohllben believes–and has scientific proof–that trees are social beings that can sense danger, talk to each other and even nurse ailing neighbor trees all while participating in a fungal network he calls the “wood-wide web.”

The ranger’s book is #1 in Germany (the English translation is scheduled for later this year) and he’s made the rounds of talk shows. Critics love it; the Times  story writes that one “praised the humble narrative style and the book’s ability to awaken in readers an intense, childlike curiosity about the workings of the world.”

I love the idea of strolling through a canopy of trees in the forest and feeling embraced by a sense of peace, considering that the trees are transmitting peace on purpose. Talk about a deeper mindful practice!

The second story is even more unbelievable–unless you’re a believer, that is. It involves the 900-year-old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.

You read that number right. A study released three years ago by Italy’s National Research Council reveals that these trees are the oldest on earth AND have the same DNA fingerprinting of trees that witnessed Jesus’ final hours on earth.

For centuries, these trees have held the eternal peace of Jesus, cradled in the gnarled intertwining branches, making it the perfect spot for a peace pilgrimage today.

In fact, Unity minister and host of Spirit Expressing Rev. Ed Townley, and Jimmy Twyman are leading the pilgrimage for peace this very morning, at 10 EST–on the Israel/Syria border.

For my money, news from the Iowa Caucus rides in the back of the bus today.

If you’re a person who values mindfulness and changing the world with a positive collective consciousness, these two stories ought to make you feel a little tingly. This first day of February is a happy, celebratory day because all the ugliness out there–from Donald Trump and the merry band of political jesters, to gun violence across the streets of America and throughout the world and even the deadly heroin epidemic gripping every state in the nation–goes on hold for the briefest moment as peace overrides them all.

Please hear me–the horrific gun violence and the opioid crisis are massive issues that need big-time attention and big brains to fix. I’m not sure there is a fix for the political clown show.

For 10 minutes today, let’s focus on peace. Let’s be so mindful that we can feel it coursing through our DNA just as it does those olive trees. Let’s breathe peace out to our neighbors as the trees in Germany do.

The other stuff matters, yes it does. But peace matters more because without peace, the other stuff will eventually cease to matter.

Photo courtesy of 

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