Mindful Monday

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

 

 

23 Gifts of Willingness, Thanks to Recovery

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November 20th is the mid-point in my sobriety year. Three days ago, the recovery calendar turned to 24 1/2 for me.

I think I remember that first six-month mark–24 years ago–because it came right at Thanksgiving and was the beginning of my first sober holiday season.

I remember spending a good deal of time in November and December of 1991 overcome with gratitude. In fact, I don’t think a single season since then has quite captured the magnitude of emotion I felt then.

Now, in full disclosure, I was an emotional wreck in 1991; gratitude was only one of many emotions that lived on my skin’s surface. I was also angry, bitter and self-righteously indignant, mostly with my family. Those poor people.

24 years ago and now

Six months into recovery found me fiery and righteous. I looked and acted tough although my insides quivered in fear of not drinking or smoking pot during the holidays. My God, how would I survive?

Thank you, God, for feeling comfortable in my skin all these years later. I no longer wear my emotions just above my hairline. Sometimes I may still not like the skin I’m in–I’m working on toning and tossing some of it–but I really like who I am today.

Who cares if it took nearly a quarter of a century to get here?

The gift of willingness

Of all the reasons for thanksgiving and gratitude this year, I am grateful for the gift of willingness. This topsy-turvy year brought me to a recent resting place of sorts; a place where I’m settling in and figuring things out. I wouldn’t have this resting place without willingness.

In this past year I have become willing to:

  1. 1. Trust the process
  2. 2. Keep my mouth shut
  3. 3. Let go of outcomes
  4. 4. Cultivate awareness and quiet time
  5. 5. Say, “No, I don’t want to”
  6. 6. Believe in unknown possibilities
  7. 7. Have faith in right outcomes
  8. 8. Love without liking
  9. 9. Look beyond what I see
  10. 10. Try something new, then something else
  11. 11. Sit with uncomfortable feelings
  12. 12. Say, “Yes, I will do the thing I love to do”
  13. 13. Bow my head more often
  14. 14. Leap into adventures
  15. 15. Lend hand and heart in service
  16. 16. Appreciate others’ struggles without fixing them
  17. 17. Reach and stretch mind, body and spirit
  18. 18. Grow where I am
  19. 19. Pray without ceasing
  20. 20. Cherish my family
  21. 21. Turn from the angry and violent
  22. 22. Stay mindful
  23. 23. Caress my heart-mate with tenderness, open arms and a welcome home at the end of each day

God’s grace grants me, not only willingness, but also desire to do each of these things. What a bountiful feast of joyful living!

Feelings of blessing begin with an inner knowing that all is well. I feel well today! My soul feels happy–me, the one who always tried to “figure out” the meaning of happiness. Now I’m basking in pools of heavenly happiness.

My prayer for you during this week of Thanksgiving is that you feel well too. May your soul feel happy, may you uncover your own willingness list and may you grow in your sense of God’s grace.

B Well and Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy of taliesin

Heartache for Paris–and for Humanity

parisThe ache in my heart for the people of France–and for humanity–simmers in sleepless, early morning hours following the horrific massacre in Paris.

How, or maybe more importantly, why, do terrorists attack? The devastation among families must be so immense. The city must be bereft with grief as it begins each new day following Friday night’s tragedy.

The “why” is not important

Anne Lamott wrote on Facebook that asking the why question is not very useful, “that we are an extremely vulnerable species, that Cain is still killing Abel.”

Aren’t you just bouncing off the walls with fury? My head is silently spewing every swear-word combination imaginable.

I want justice. Like with Sandy Hook, Aurora and especially 9/11, we can whip out our pointing fingers faster than you can say “heinous crime” because we have to blame that which we can’t comprehend.

Blame gives us a place to dump our nervous fear. Otherwise, we’re a skittish mess, anxious eyes darting like hummingbirds back and forth among red-tipped flowers. Only the red tips for us are like potential bloody traps.

We never know. It could be our loved ones next time. It could be us.

Assailants died in Paris, which probably played well in the hearts of many revenge seekers. Not so much for those of us who profess love and peace in our hearts, however. I still don’t understand.

Before their suicidal bodies hit the ground, more stepped into their cowardly shoe prints. At Career Day, did the killers check the application box that read willing to die if I get to blow up innocent people?

My God, there is so much hate in the world. Again, my mind begs for the answer to the why now question. But as Anne reminds us, the response to hate is so much more important than the why.

This much I know–and this is just for me. I cannot meet hate with hate. As much as I deplore what happened in Paris on Friday night, the 13th of November, every time I show up with hate, death advances on me just a little bit.

Let your response be love, light and peace

Fortunately, most of the entries on my Facebook wall reflect the best of humanity. My friend Ann wrote, “LOVE! Love with all your heart, soul and mind! Let love permeate everything you do, think and BE! Let your words Not be about ugliness, murder, meanness…. ONLY LOVE! Stand FOR….not against!”

My friend Sandra Pawula wrote on Facebook, when asked about how she confronts the idea of terrorism, “Violence comes from confused or painful thoughts and emotions: pride, jealousy, desire, ignorance, greed, and anger. So I practice mastering my own mind and emotions, and I try to help others learn to do the same.”

Another friend posted this picture:

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Anne Lamott gives us instructions. She writes, about the days after Sandy Hook:

Talking and sticking together was the answer. It honest to God was. We were gentler, more patient and kind with each other. If people are patient and kind, that’s a lot. It means something of the spirit is at work. For me, that is grace made visible. 

I have no answers but know one last thing that is true: More will be revealed. And that what is true is that all is change.

All is indeed change. “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” 

How to Be Mindful With Your Small Screens

La Jolla coastline

I read recently that awareness is a vast reservoir that holds each idea that stems from our outer selves–what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch–and from our inner selves–all things we feel and believe.

Because awareness is the big vat that holds it all, everything swirls together so that all awareness is equal. In other words, you can be aware that you’re seeing a beautiful sunset and be aware that you’re feeling peaceful and happy about seeing a beautiful sunset.

I’ve been wondering lately about whether compulsive social media use–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–can filter awareness, or worse, block mindfulness.

Looking through a camera lens

My sweetie and I took a few days off last week and traveled to the Pacific coastal village of La Jolla, Calif. It’s one of our favorite places, probably because we met there 10 years ago. The seals and sea lions, massive cliffs with walk-through caves and the magenta sunsets hold a special place in our hearts.

I love watching the intense power of the sea as it crashes against the cliffs. The swirling white foam reminds of La Jolla foammarshmallow Fluff oozing over chocolate ice cream–my favorite sundae!

Of course I took lots of pictures with my iPhone. At some point, though, I became aware that by watching the phone’s screen to time a perfect picture, I missed watching the perfect timing on nature’s big screen.

By watching your phone's screen to time a perfect picture, you can miss the perfect timing on nature's big screen.… Click To Tweet

I had a similar experience last month at the UNITE to Face Addiction Rally in Washington, DC. Part of my job was to live-Tweet and Facebook the event–an incredible experience that I loved! But busily typing tweets (again, on a small screen) took my focus off the immediacy of the event.

I’m not complaining, but–here’s the awareness thing–I feel a smidge less mindful.

How do we find balance?

The Catch-22 for me, when it comes to social media, is that much of the work that I do in the addiction recovery and advocacy space involves being present to online activity and then responding. Nothing wrong with that.

I know I’m off-kilter and over-consuming when I find myself mindlessly cruising social feeds while waiting at an appointment, in line at the grocery-store, or (gasp!) stopped in traffic. No, I’m definitely not present in those moments.

I also know I’m overly focused on the small screen when I’m supposed to do something else, like a writing project, or journaling or some recovery work, and instead, I’m scrolling through Facebook.

Ah yes, we’re all guilty from time to time, and this post isn’t about shaming anybody, not even myself. What I do want to suggest is that you become more aware of how you may be putting filters between you and whatever your big screen happens to be.

There is a way for mindfulness and social media to coexist. The key word is awareness. Being aware and feeling aware keeps you conscious, mindful and connected to Life’s Big Screen. Here’s to beautiful scenery!

How Your Thoughts Impact Your Recovery

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Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin’s Facebook page. http://buff.ly/1VK7cj1

 

I read something recently that turned my day around completely and allowed me to start over. Who says a 24-hour period begins at midnight?

Recovery often presents itself as an insightful opportunity to choose mindfulness and reclaim your sense of self-worth, which, by the way, never left you. Your thoughts simply caused you to temporarily misplace it.

From the mind of Jon Kabat-Zinn

“It is a big step toward reclaiming our lives when we realize that, no matter what their content, good, bad, or ugly, we do not have to take our thoughts personally.

“When we don’t automatically take them personally, or believe the stories about reality that we build from them, when we can simply hold them in awareness with a sense of curiosity and wonder at their amazing power given their insubstantiality, their limitations and inaccuracies . .

“Then, in that moment at least, we are already free, ready to act with greater clarity and kindness . . . ”

~ Mindfulness for Beginners

Think about the stories you tell yourself, often repeatedly, on any given day. As a storyteller, I usually have multiple versions of each story and lots of drama involved with mine!

What happens when you stop and tell yourself the story is nothing more than a script you’ve written? What happens when you step away from being the person writing the script or telling the story and become a spiritual being watching the person with the story?

Recovery grows sweeter again.

Here’s what happened to me over the weekend

I stopped. Just stopped the story.

I clearly saw the story’s insignificance, even its untruths. And, as an observer, I saw without judgment so that I began to loosen the ropes of self-condemnation that often tighten around me.

The last part of the above quote, “ready to act with greater clarity and kindness,” are true action words, like one long verb. As I reflected further, I remembered that I’m not hanging out in this world to accumulate things or to get what I think I deserve.

No, I’m here to give–kindness, charity, comfort, compassion and love.

Here’s the most critical part: I must hold myself in the center of givingness. The observing me has a much easier time staying in the middle than my ego does. In fact, staying out of the center is probably the reason why the ego pushes me to stay busy doing.

Just be-ing tends to ruin the ego’s day. The spiritual brat in me loves to stick out her tongue at that thought! Progress, not perfection!


UNITE to Face Addiction update: If you’re reading this early on Monday and you’re still at home, set your DVR to record the Dr. Oz show before you head out. On today’s episode, Dr. Oz will give a behind-the-scenes look the Rally on October 4th. You’ll get to see great clips with the artists and members of the crowd. Don’t miss it!