Saturday, December 20, 2014

Do you need a compass?

Today would have been my mom's 88th birthday.  She died in the spring of last year, so this is the second December without her and I miss her just as much as the day she died.  She was always my compass, when I needed one.  That's what made me write about this today.

What do I do? Where shall I go? What comes next? Does my life have any sort of purpose of direction? Well, if you are asking yourself these questions, it's a good thing. Every once in awhile it is important for each of us to take stock of ourselves and look not only at where we have been, but where we are going. Sometimes change is a good idea. Do you need some help? Do you need a compass? There is nothing wrong with reaching out to others to try to decide your path.
 
Family and friends can be a great resource in helping to determine with way to go.  When a loss within your family has gotten you asking these questions, it might be even more important to lean on each other, so to speak.  They are not the only resource though.  Some of us have tons of friends and great big families.  Others are a bit more alone.  There are professionals who also can be of great benefits.  Counselors, clergy, health care workers, attorneys, teachers, and others might help guide you when you find yourself questioning what comes next.  Getting involved in support groups can sometimes be of benefit too.
 
The library used to be a great place for finding information.  It still is, of course, but now we also have the internet where we can find answers to our questions in seconds.  Sometimes these answers are all we need as our compass.
 
Nobody should ever have to go through life feeling lost or confused.  Life is more than just being alive and we all have a purpose.  Find yours.  Life will be so much richer once you know the path you are taking!

Friday, December 19, 2014

kindness is not weakness

Today's message is a very simple one. In life sometimes the most simple messages are the most profound.   I don't know who wrote these words, but I believe them and wanted to share them with you.

"Only a fool mistakes kindness for weakness. There is the heart of a lion within the spirit of a lamb. Grace is selfless strength."

Indeed, kindness is not weakness. A message you might wish to share with others.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our pathways

It's often difficult to put ourselves in someone else's shoes to appreciate their journey in life if we haven't experienced the same things as they have. It is very kind though to find compassion for their situation and lend a listening ear when needed.

There is an old saying "Don't expect everyone to understand your journey, especially if the never has to walk your path."  How very true.
 
We don't all travel on the same road.  Our pathways are different.  Some of us go in different directions but still end up in the same place.  Some of us go around in circles or walk paths that seem to lead nowhere.  When we encounter each other along the way though, we should stop and meet and share our common stories.
 
The pathways of life are varied but they are best enjoyed when shared with others.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tea With Toan

Here in this space I write each day about making a difference and I have written more about Toan Lam than any other individual. A mutual friend introduced us a few years ago, for which I will always be grateful.  It wasn't long after that Toan created Go Inspire Go, which usually is something I tell you about when I write about him.  He also has a recurring Tea With Toan feature where he chats with someone of interest.  The most recent of those video conversations deals with grief.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult.  Just last year I went through a difficult time following the loss of my mother.  I remember that Easter, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were particularly tough for me last year.  It was actually some of the kindness and wisdom of Toan that helped me back then.  In this latest Tea With Toan, which you can watch HERE, there is even more help. Being There for Someone in Grief: Essential Lessons in Supporting Someone Grieving from Death, Loss and Trauma, is a book by Marianna Cacciatore, who in this chat with Toan tells the story of her own childhood trauma and grief.  She mentions generosity and love several times, which is certainly appropriate because they are the very words I would use to describe Toan Lam.

Good stuff here and I highly recommend watching the conversation (which lasts just over twenty minutes). You can also find out more HERE and more about Go Inspire Go in general HERE.  Oh and the author has a website too at http://www.mariannacacciatore.com/
 
Grief isn't just when a person dies, and I am grateful to learning a lot of new things and new ways to cope with various kinds of loss.  Thank you so much to Marianna and Toan for this special awakening which is so good at this holiday season.  I have not yet picked up the book, but I just ordered it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Martina makes a difference

As any tennis player will tell you, Martina Navratilova ruled that sport back in the 70s and 80s. She won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times. For so many, Martina is a hero. She is for me too, but for other reasons. She could have devoted her life to her sport but keep quiet about her private life. Martina could have spent time in a closet. Instead, she publicly came out as a gay woman in 1981, and she has been an advocate for LGBT equality ever since.
 
Coming out does so much good for so many, but it is a difficult decision and I don't for a moment mean to second guess those who chose not to.  In some cases it just isn't safe.  Sadly, there are places where your honestly could cost your life.  I'm always pleased though when people are visible and that's why back in September, Martina warmed my heart when she got down on her knee between matches at the US Open, and proposed marriage to former model Julia Lemigova.  There they both were up on the Jumbotron for all to see.
 
Yesterday was their wedding day.  Congratulations and much happiness to both women.  Your act yesterday makes a difference.  People have more and more positive role models now.  This can only be a good thing.  As people continue to fight against marriage equality, we can only hope that someday folks will realize that love is all you need.  Thanks Martina for helping to lead the way.

Monday, December 15, 2014

If it's cold to you

The temperature outside where I live, has been rather chilly lately, especially at night. I know there are parts of this country where snow and cold has come with a fury already - Western New York was especially hard it.  With all of my complaining, I just had to be glad I was able to come indoors and turn on the heat.  If it's cold to me though, imagine what it's like for those who cannot come indoors.
 
Some people have pets that stay outside all of the time.  There are also farm animals that generally stay outdoors of course too.  Think about these animals on cold nights.  Is your barn heated?  Does your horse have a blanket?  The dog can go outside briefly for his potty break, but inside he must come right afterward.  If it's cold to you, it's cold to your animals too!
 
The homeless people you encounter when you are out shopping or doing errands often don't have the warm clothing you might have.  Countless people die every winter due to the cold conditions.  I know you can't house everyone you come across, but those winter coats that you no longer wear because you have gotten new ones, give them away!  Trust me.  A warm coat can make a huge difference.  More shelters need to open up in cold weather.  Big cities do a fairly good job with this, but help spread the word on the importance of this.  If it's cold to you, it's cold to them too!
 
The past several years I have been a part of a memorial service for people who have died on the streets.  (This Thursday in San Francisco, they are doing it again).  Not all of them died because of the cold weather, but we need to do whatever we can to keep people safe from the elements.  The cold of winter effects us all!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Rejoice!

The word "rejoice" means to show or feel that you are very happy about something. The last part of December, is traditionally the happiest time of the year. Church-goers might recognize to Scripture verses from today that contain the word "rejoice." Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4) and Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16).  The common greeting in the malls and restaurants we frequent even urges happiness.

When I see people sleeping on the sidewalk because they have no place to call home, it's hard to rejoice.  When I see people being shot by the police because of their race, it's very hard to rejoice.  When children are taking their own lives because they are bullied and left to feel worthless and unloved, I find it very difficult to be happy.  When students carry guns on to school campuses and open fire on their fellow students, how can I even think of rejoicing?

We each have free will and we each have an opportunity, I think even a responsibility, to get involved and to do good things.  That's the whole theme of this daily blog.  Each one of us can make a difference.  Is the world perfect?  Of course not!  It's so easy sometimes to see all the gloom and doom that it easy to throw our hand in the air and give up, but change doesn't happen that way.  Sometimes making things better requires a little work.  Amid all the bad there is always some good too.  In that good, we should rejoice, as we build on it to make more good.

Ask yourself this question: Do you consistently look for reasons to rejoice, even when your own circumstances or events in the world make it difficult to endure?  Perhaps that could be a starting point.  Look for the good and work to create more good, and then .   .   . rejoice!