IN MY PERFECT WORLD

Each and every one of us have ideals for that which makes our world perfect. In my perfect world, all children should outlive their parents. I was wrong.

When our son was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it felt earth shattering. It was one of the most devastating possibilities I could have imagined. Prior to his first major surgery, the Whipple Procedure, I was introduced to energy healing. It had positive effects for our son, so it gave us much hope. Two months following the operation, he was actually able to resume his job of heavy freight delivery. This was also during receiving several months of chemotherapy.

Meanwhile, I picked up further learning in energy healing. Every night before I went to sleep, I would work on him and ask for his being completely healed. Roughly six months after I began this practice, I had two momentous visions. One was of a rainbow, the second was of a lighthouse with the rainbow! In relating this to our son later, he shared that he had had two dreams in one night in which a man told him he was healed!

This was so inspiring that I created a five foot tall painting of my visions. A portion of the painting is on my main website page.

In my perfect world – the song!

Also around this time, there was a popular song on the radio by Chris Daughtry which contained a verse, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it all.” Well, when that song played on my car radio, I would just belt it out at the top of my lungs. Our world seemed in order. It thrilled my heart.

It was especially wonderful when nearly two years after his surgery, he and his wife were miraculously able to conceive a child! Upon her birth, we found she was and is perfect and adorable in every way!

Before our granddaughter saw her first birthday, our son had another recurrence with an accompanying major surgery. I might add, he also had clean scans following each of these two surgeries and the subsequent treatments.

A third time he was diagnosed and treated, then received yet another clean scan. All the while, I delighted to that song about getting what I wish.

Six and a half years past his initial diagnosis, the dread disease returned with a vengeance. One of the most difficult conversations in my life came when our son told me that he just wanted to die. No parent should ever have to hear this. As much as I could not imagine my life without him in the earthly realm, I couldn’t beg him to stay and prolong his suffering. I love him too much for that. In a tearful exchange, I assured him it was okay for him to go. He was released from his ravaged body two or three months later. Interestingly, the song I referenced earlier is titled, “I’m Going Home”. That is exactly what our son desired to do, go to his true forever home.

Our ideal world…

Why do I share this story today during this potentially tumultuous time in US and world history? It is because everyone holds a differing view of a perfect world. We all aspire toward individual concepts as to what our ideal world should be. Just as I found in regards to our son, it was necessary to weigh my own desires alongside his. Sometimes our wishes can be contrary to the best interests of others. Compromise and loving acquiescence are critical discussion points for the common good as we approach not only personal matters, but national and world affairs as well.

I would take into consideration not actions, in which everything is relative, but wishes. Tell me what you want and I’ll tell you who you are. Anton Chekhov

May you wish well.

IS OUR WORLD A CRAZY QUILT?

This year has caused many to question where we are headed. We are in the midst of huge world challenges with what appears to be a hodgepodge of issues. Is our world a crazy quilt? Let’s take a look at what is called a crazy quilt.

This particular style of quilt was first made during the Victorian era in the late 1800’s. Its name was derived from a seeming lack of a constructed pattern. Until I really studied the layout of the fabrics, I assumed it to be entirely random. However, there is a framework. In searching for continuous straight lines, I saw a grid of large squares. Then, within each square there are four adjoined kite-like shapes positioned to resemble the four cardinal directions on a compass. The fact that each piece is created from other smaller sections disguises much of the framework.

A family history…

These quilts were a clever way to utilize scraps from other sewing. This type of project was popular during hard times or simply in following the philosophy of waste not, want not. My maternal grandmother made this one roughly a half century ago. It contains remnants of cloth from three generations! This is a history of my grandmother’s dresses and aprons and my mother’s dresses and blouses as well as little dresses my sister and I wore.

In looking at each individual piece of fabric, I see beauty and a sense of design and pattern. There may be fabric in another square that coordinates more closely in its inherent characteristics than with the adjoining pieces. However, all are lovely in their own way, fitting neatly against one another as puzzle pieces.

As this quilt has some age to it, it is quite fragile. You may even notice one particular section with the white lining showing. The lighter cloth beneath appears as the darker colored cloth on top is disintegrating.

It seems that this year has clearly polarized many factions within the world having to do with economics, health, race relations, science, diversity, politics, etc. It certainly does have the feel and appearance of a crazy quilt.

Learning from the crazy quilt…

Let us continue to ponder the makings of this quilt. Could we find by studying a crazy quilt that perhaps our world isn’t such a crazy quilt? Maybe if we look hard enough at our world, we can find our cardinal points of direction once again. We can build on our history and still appreciate individual differences of beauty. Those things that are antiquated may fade away and yet inspire our future. We can intelligently utilize our world resources. Perhaps we can all nip a few excess corners to fit as a puzzle of oneness. Do you know what the secret is to moving forward? It is love, simply love, just as the love of my grandmother in sewing this quilt, one stitch at a time.

MASKED EMOTIONS

Where do they go? What can we do?

The topic of masked emotions is currently very timely. Not only are many of us masking our faces for viral protection, but may also be hiding our emotions. Sometimes we are concerned with upsetting others by truly expressing our feelings. Perhaps we are frightened or angry regarding many world issues involving the pandemic. It could be concerns over the illness itself. Maybe it could be over the potential of sickness or death of loved ones. Perhaps it could be the management or mismanagement of viral spread. We may be upset over economic worries or inequality of human rights. Maybe it could be political upheaval or even severe global weather patterns.

Sometimes one feeling can mask another. As grieving a child is one of the toughest bereavements to bear, it can feel as if that grief masks other grief. First we lost our son, then we lost my dad and my brother. We lost these three in a nearly twenty-six month period. Somehow I feel as if I’ve not yet fully grieved the latter two. I know I must deal with this.

Masked Emotions in grief

For some of us folks, the loss of a child may mask our abilities to function in the world by wallowing in our grief. In this case, the family is dealing with not only the loss of the child, but also of a floundering parent. This extreme emotion creates a reduction of that parent’s life by creating a barrier between self and world. This constant and grievous wall of tears may seem as if it is shielding one from further grief. It is actually preventing the ability to live a vibrant and fulfilling life.

It is possible to find coping mechanisms.

Due to the journey I’ve traversed in the past decade or so, there have been many avenues opened to me regarding health and emotions. I chose this topic for October as this month holds the birthday of our dearly departed son. Many times there are trigger dates such as day of birth, day of death or holidays in which we need to practice extra care in kindness to ourselves.

If we do not feel and release our emotions, it is akin to eating them. However, these feelings do not go the way of food and become excreted through our digestive systems. Swallowed emotions take their toll by parasitically taking up residence in various parts of our bodies.

Where are masked emotions?

Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth in uglier ways. Sigmund Freud

Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life, has a list of ten affirmations to help those whose lives have been masked by grief.

https://www.healyourlife.com/10-affirmations-to-heal-your-broken-heart

Through working with her clients Louise Hay discovered that people with certain ailments repress similar emotions as others with the same malady. Here is a website containing her list of possible dis-eases (as she called them) along with recommended affirmations for the healing process to begin.

http://lovehonourandrespect.org/emotional-health/louise-hay-affirmations-for-illnesses

Another fascinating figure in the arena of emotions and health is Master Chunyi Lin. He is the author of Born a Healer. In Traditional Chinese Medicine practice, each of five major organs is the seat of certain negative as well as positive emotions. There is a fine balance and interaction between these organs and emotions with subsequent results from either ignoring or enhancing the flow of energy. Here is his site illustrating these emotions on a five elements chart. (Please scroll down to the two five pointed star charts on this site.)

https://www.springforestqigong.com/five-elements-qigong-for-self-healing

At times when I’ve had an intuitive practitioner working on me, they will notice lodged emotions in certain parts of my body. These professionals are capable of assisting the release of our pent up feelings. This enables healing to occur.

Meant to be!

Over three weeks ago, I planned my blog topics in advance. This one was to include information from Louise Hay as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Not quite two weeks ago, I found Hay House offering their incomparable Writer’s Workshop for the first time in a virtual format. Hay House is the company Louise Hay founded. As I jumped at the opportunity, I gratefully spent twenty concentrated hours this past Saturday and Sunday learning more about the crafts of writing and publication. Intriguingly, another workshop attendee, who hails from Melbourne, Australia, contacted me out of the blue. She is a doctor in TCM. Little did I know that the Universe would conspire to tell me my timing was right to delve into the philosophies of Louise Hay as well as TCM!

Think what you can do to release your emotions. How can you prevent inappropriately masking your emotions? Glorious is the day when we no longer have the need to mask ourselves from anything!

THINK LIKE WATER

What does art have to do with thinking like water? How much better would our world be if we borrowed this wisdom from nature?

It was sometime in the middle of my art teaching career, there were four sixth grade girls of note. They loved art so much that they had nicknames for one another. The first three names made sense to me: Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo. We’d been studying those particular artists. The fourth name, however, was Bob Ross! We hadn’t talked about him in class. While Mr. Ross isn’t found in art history books, his television show did encourage many to pick up a paintbrush and even make a life path of art. I do admire this happy little tree guy with his upbeat attitude as well as his ability to bolster the self-confidence of budding artists.

Even though teaching about Bob Ross wasn’t on my list of priorities, toward the end of my career, I did show a brief video of him just because it was a fun and optimistic piece to show at the end of the year. There was one single line in this clip (see below) which had always intrigued me, “think like water.”

I decided I wanted to go explore this concept at a nearby hiking trail. A river winds through this nature preserve. It was quite nostalgic when my husband and I were there as we spent many peaceful afternoons on this path with our children when they were young. This seemed the best place in the world to contemplate how to think like water.

Here are ten ways I perceived we could think like water.

1. Water is necessary for life. Play an indispensable part in the lives of others.

2. It seeks the path of least resistance. It is most natural and productive to go with the flow.

3. Water goes around obstacles, ever flowing. If, in the process, the obstruction is stationary, water wears it down. Go around barriers, wear them out, and be persistent toward your goal.

4. This wet substance is capable of being solid, liquid or gas. Be flexible to change when given different environments.

5. Water is nurturing. Not only does it provide habitat for critters of the air, land and water, it also creates endless entertainment for humans who love water activities. Be an uplifting and supportive presence.

6. It may be the most refreshing drink. Have a welcoming, revitalizing spirit for others.

7. Water is cleansing. Leave a place cleaner than when you arrived. Whether you are camping or shopping or anything in between, the only evidence you were there should be a tidy and clutter free space.

8. The substance, H2O, puts out fires. Settle disputes being cognizant of the quantity of your inner resources.

9. Pools of water contain many wonderful things at the bottom. Know that at your inner core you hold many hidden treasures.

10. It has the capacity to match the essence of what is near. If it is a calm day, the beautiful hillsides and graceful trees reflect upon the still waters. A stormy hour is mirrored by the whip of white caps. All the while, the water remains comparatively placid in the deep. Echo the being of others back to them, allowing a calm demeanor to shine forth through your eyes.

These are my ten thoughts of how we may think like water. As our bodies are comprised of a high percentage of water, perhaps this is food water for thought. We could each easily say, “I am water”, so join me by thinking like it, too!

LESSONS OF THE LILACS

Let’s look at nature to see if we can find the lessons of the lilacs. In our area, a lilac bush typically blooms around the first of May. Their blossoms are a welcome, heady fragrance which herald the transition from spring to summer. The arrival of lilacs invites deep inhalations to revel in the once-a-year sweetness. This time of year, the air is thick with the echoes of bird song and the buzz of bees. It brings to mind carefree days and sunny skies with perfect shirt sleeve temperatures.

One year ago in May, our lilacs had the heaviest crop of blooms they’d ever produced in the nearly forty years since my husband transplanted the suckers from other bushes. We had so many bouquets, we had to share our bounty to spread the joy!

Over the past two summers, however, some of our lilacs didn’t fare so well. In fact, I thought they were nearing the end. Many to most of the leaves dropped. Strangely, once October arrived, this year and last, a few fresh leaves sprouted, plus we had a small number of fall lilac blossoms!

I researched autumn lilac blooms and found when the plant has been stressed, it can revive with fall flowers!

The lessons of the lilacs

This gives me such hope! I just think of the tremendous challenges our entire world has encountered this year on many fronts. The lessons the lilac offers are that when our world is stressed, it can still bloom again. Yes, things will look different. Some of our people will be on the other side of the veil. Some institutions will be changed. However, just as Mother Nature so aptly illustrates, the sweetness and joy can and will return. Just close your eyes, pray, imagine and smile. We can take a deep inhale. Take yet another. Do you smell it yet?

P.S. Here is my Lilacs Update!

EMPOWERED LIVING

How Visual Arts Skills Apply to Daily Life

Would you like to live a life of empowered living? Read on to see what my elementary art students gleaned from visual arts classes!

During the last few weeks of my thirty year elementary art teaching career, I decided to take an impromptu survey of some of my classes. While students were deeply engaged in their projects, I quietly approached each one individually to ask a question. It was, “If you named the most important thing I’ve ever taught you, what would it be?” I was amazed that even though no other students were privy to the answers others gave, that nearly all responses fell into one of three areas.

The first was “I am creative”. “There is no such thing as a mistake” was the second. “Famous artists” were mentioned as the third. Upon further inquiry regarding famous artists, it seemed that many of the artists of renown experienced difficulty in their lives, and yet they made something of themselves. The assumption, of course, was that my students felt they could overcome adversity as well.

What if we adapted these attitudes for our lives?

Empowered Living with Creativity

Let’s begin with the first one. I am creative. You may exclaim, “Oh, but I’m not an artist,” or “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Instead, think of your life as a work of art. If that is too much of a stretch, you could start smaller, maybe a week, a day or even just a moment of your life. You get to fill that time with whatever you desire to create. It could be as simple as making a connection with another person, or planting a tree, cooking a meal or cleaning and waxing your car. A painting is made with one brushstroke at a time, eventually filling an entire canvas. What are you creating with your life from one moment to another?

Living with No Mistakes

The second one is, there is no such thing as a mistake. It was always concerning to me when a student would constantly erase their efforts. I had a drawing I made with some chickens in which I included a wire cage. Chicken wire, as you may know, is made with a hexagonal pattern. I truly had made an unintentional “mistake”. Inadvertently, I had drawn a line straight through the middle of a hexagon. I was too far into the project to start over and I happened to be drawing in ink! With some thought, I turned the center of that hexagon into a cobweb.

Later, I would show this to my students and ask where my disguised error was. Some classes would guess correctly, but to others it was invisible. There is freedom in using critical thinking skills to transform so called mistakes to our advantage. How could you apply this to your life?

Learn from Famous Artists

Well, as to the famous artists, I was pleasantly surprised on that one. But, upon thinking through the years, the troubles of various artists had tumbled from my tongue. There was Van Gogh who had a difficult time settling on an occupation. Michelangelo’s mother died when he was a baby. Later, as an artist, he was forced by the Pope to pause his passion of sculpting to do a monumental four year painting. At the end of Matisse’s life, he made accommodations to being wheelchair bound. He switched from painting to large scale collages, and had an assistant attach each piece. Renoir was able to continue painting by tying his paint brush to his arthritic hand.

There were artists whose work was judged as unacceptable by an art critic who called them fauves or wild beasts. This inspired an entire art movement. Additionally, quite a number of artists’ parents frowned upon the arts as a livelihood as it wasn’t perceived as a lucrative option. Yet, though all these difficulties, they persevered. These artists survived and even thrived by becoming their true selves. How could you rise above challenging issues in your life?

Empowered Living for You!

No one has a perfect life with no difficulties. From the outside looking in, I suppose some lives may appear ideal, like Barbie and Ken dolls. But when you truly know life, one may realize that perhaps challenges exist for a reason. If you ponder on your troubles of the past, what did you learn? How did you overcome? Was there a bigger, hidden message to you regarding what transpired and how you progressed through this time?

Perhaps you could live with the mindset of an artist! Create each moment. Work with any “mistakes”, turning them into opportunities. By striving through difficulties, learn the lessons of your life. Art is much more than creating a pretty picture. It is about living a beautiful life!

THE GIFT

Allow me to tell you about the gift. Yesterday I treated myself to a long overdue visit to the spa, mask and all. It had been nearly a year since I’d had an hour massage. I thought it wise to use my gift certificate before it expired.

For some strange reason, I wondered if the house cell phone would ring before I left for my appointment. It did, twice. The first was an unknown number, so I didn’t pick it up. It rang a second time as I headed out the door. My personal cell phone wasn’t showing any calls, so whatever it was didn’t appear to be urgent.

When I arrived at the spa, I was greeted by a young friend. (Okay, we were neighborhood girls who rode the school bus together days, years, decades ago!) Looking forward to a massage, I told her I was pretty good, but I’d be a lot better in a few minutes. Then we laughed. She exclaimed, “Oh, you make me think so much of your mother!”

Gift of My Parents

Later, this caused me to do some soul searching. In my entire life, I don’t know if anyone has ever told me I resembled Mom. I frequently have heard people say, they saw Dad in me. Of course, as a little girl, this was concerning to me because I wasn’t a boy! However, I did have his facial structure, eyes and hair color. Recently in pondering over some old photographs, I noticed something. In photos from my wedding day, I did see my mother’s smile and expression which is echoed within my own.

While Mom and I have been enticed to occasional spurts of giggles in recent times, I’ve not seen Mom in a carefree, laughing state for fifteen and a half years. Due to her having had a series of strokes and Dad not being here to help her, she’s in assisted living, wheelchair bound with right side paralysis.

Understanding Discontent

A while back, a relative told me of a friend whose mother had also had a number of strokes. It was very challenging for this friend because her mother was constantly wanting things. The difficulty was not in the wanting, but in the inevitability that her mother would never like those things once she possessed them. Apparently some stroke patients suffer with the inability to be satisfied. It was news to me that this could actually be a side effect of my mom’s condition as well. While this information didn’t make it easier for any of us, it put a whole new light on my situation with Mom. Maybe it helped me to delve a little deeper into my pool of patience.

It is uncomfortable to be on either side of this discontent. For the person who’s had this type of stroke, it must feel like being locked in a cage of much dissatisfaction. Being locked from the outside as a helper is frustrating as well. There can be a wide range of emotions from sorrow and anger to elation and pleasure from both the person locked in as well as out depending upon the occasional breakthroughs of satisfaction. It is tough to observe the role reversal of a parent who once nurtured my siblings and me. She has become the one who needs nurturing now, but is not always able to accept it.

Gift of Satisfaction

To be fair, yes, there have been things with which Mom was satisfied. She does wear her new glasses. There have been various clothing items which she has been pleased to wear. My sister devised a brilliant way to placate Mom into accepting the socks we would buy her, but that is our little secret!

However, there are times we deal with her frustration of non-acceptance. She wanted new shoes. I cannot tell you how many pairs of shoes I’ve ordered for her. Plus, we went to shoe stores and even orthopedic medical professionals to have her fitted. Inevitably, she always goes back to her old. stretched out, worn down leather shoes.

Then there were the lift chairs. She had her mind set on a certain kind of chair, different from the one she already had. We had a number of chairs brought in to her from a store. The sales lady went above and beyond to find options which included Mom’s desires. You guessed it, she’s back in her old chair. These are only some of the examples.

Currently, she’s been requesting a couple of new, let’s say undergarments. I purchased her some looser fitting, modern options to try. She did not care for them. She wanted a certain size and style of her tried and true brand. It hasn’t been long ago that I got her some new ones with that description. I had to alter them because they were too small. When I reminded her of this, she still insisted she had to have that particular size. As she was adamant, I had to make a trip out of town and found the only two in the store of that size in the only acceptable color of white. I suspected it could be a futile effort.

Gift of Insight

Well, I had my lovely massage and as expected, I felt a lot better. In fact, my body was as loose as a limp noodle. On my drive home, I pondered my friend’s observation, like my mom, huh?

Remember on my way out the door, our home cell rang? It was Mom. We talked after my appointment. As her speech is extremely limited it generally involves twenty questions on my part to determine what she wants. I suspected what she wanted. It was about the new undergarments. They were too small. I took a deep breath and asked her what she wanted to do. She innocently responded in a commonly used answer with about as many words as she can string together since the strokes, “I don’t know.” I felt a calling to enter more fully into the halls of understanding and empathy. I desired to empower her, to offer choices. Perhaps I was softer and kinder. It was as if I was having a conversation with myself. Maybe I even inspired the smile we share. We are one, you know.

I contacted my friend later to thank her for her tremendous gift. No, it wasn’t the gift certificate, but it was far more valuable. It was her gift of timeless insight into the inheritance of the intangibles, one of which was my sense of humor and the sharing of laughter.

FEAR IS THE LOCK

Ten Keys to Unlock Fear

Sometimes a mere wisp of a sentence will wiggle and dance itself directly in front of me singing, “Write about me!” Well, it happened while reminiscing over Woodstock footage featuring Crosby, Stills and Nash. My nostalgic, poetic heart thrilled to hearing “Fear is the lock.”

Fear can lock our body from fully living. Given our current world, fear has been nagging from center stage in many lives. At the root of fear is the negative expectation of loss. Many fear the loss of health or life of themselves or loved ones due to Covid-19. Hungry folks fear another day without a meal. The unemployed fear not finding a job and losing their home. Those in the workforce fear losing their job. People plagued with flames, floods or wind fear the loss of their home or life. The wealthy fear losing their resources. What is a person to do?

I am no stranger to fear. Eleven years ago, I passed through the dark night of my soul. Our son was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Knowing this was one of the most horrific diagnoses to hear, my body began shutting down. As I was so afraid of losing our son, I felt tense, withdrawn and tearful. I could not force my body to eat or sleep normally. I began losing weight and shedding hair. This is my healing journey. These are the keys which released me out of my hellish fear.

ONE: EMPOWER OTHERS

Whenever possible empower others. Lift up another with whatever they are lacking.

The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed. Mahatma Gandhi

Our son endured the Whipple Procedure, losing parts of his pancreas, stomach, bile duct and small intestine. This surgical recovery caused him excruciating pain. Thanks to an open magazine I miraculously encountered prior to his surgery, I found an energy healing ad. I eventually explored four different methods with amazing results. I did earn certification in one. Not only did energy healing greatly ease his pain, but our son also believed it extended his life. He lived nearly seven years post diagnosis. This practice also served me in tremendously reducing my fear.

TWO: DWELL IN THE DIVINE

Dwelling in the divine strengthens the soul. Spending time in prayer and studying holy readings has provided me with great comfort in my journey through religion and spirituality.

THREE: CREATE WITH THE ARTS

Creating with the arts such as in making art, playing piano, singing, journaling, sewing, dancing, and writing poetry have all helped me in playing my way from fear to wellness. Your creative efforts do not even need an audience beyond yourself for it to work its magic.

FOUR: NURTURE WITH NATURE

Nurturing with nature by spending time out-of-doors is quite a healthful way to release tensions. The sunshine vitamin and fresh air are priceless. Walking among the majesty of trees and the wonder of wildlife does my body good. While we have no lions, tigers or bears, we do have plenty of squirrels, rabbits and raccoons. (I know you are waiting for me to say, “Oh my!”) I love to watch the gold finches, humming birds, mourning doves and cardinals, the turkeys, pheasants and eagles as well as many other makes and models of birds in our vicinity. Growing plants, both indoors and out, is grounding and counts as connecting with nature, too.

FIVE: FOCUS ON POSITIVITY

Focusing on positivity makes a person feel better. According to Eckhart Tolle, …what we resist persists. I found in focusing on my fearful what ifs, that the what ifs were more likely to happen. Concentrating on a positive thought or goal eases my mind and body. Ponder best case scenarios. This optimistic viewpoint includes practicing a news fast. I no longer expose myself to listening to the news. I do however, find headlines in print format preferable. Reading rather than listening allows me to bypass much of the drama. I can pick and choose what to investigate according to what I feel I can handle at the moment. Remember to throw your shoulders back, relax and smile!

SIX: INDULGE IN HEALTHY FOODS

Indulging in healthy foods makes our bodies happier! The foundation of my diet consists of fresh (or frozen when out of season) fruits and vegetables, preferably organic and locally grown. For over four decades, nearly all the grains I’ve consumed have been 100% whole. Meat is more of a condiment than a main dish. In lieu of red meat, I prefer poultry or fish. I do love beans, eggs, nuts, cheeses and whole milk plain Greek yogurt as protein sources. Unsweetened dried fruits rather than sugar satisfy my sweet tooth. (Shockingly, I sometimes treat myself to ice cream!) Butter as well as olive and coconut oils add the fats to my diet. For a very long time, I’ve noticed how much better my body feels if I eat foods that are closer to their natural state rather than processed. Portion control keeps me from feeling sluggish.

SEVEN: ENGAGE IN MEDITATION

Engaging in meditation gives a sense of peace. I practice a couple kinds of meditation. It allows my thoughts to clear and permits a foundation of calm to permeate my being. Research has shown the brains of meditators grow additional grey matter in comparison to non-meditators. https://ncbi.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4777419

EIGHT: DELIGHT IN LAUGHTER

Delighting in laughter can be a life saver. I am so fortunate I come from a funny family – we all enjoy a good belly laugh! Each of us did and do relish the comradery around our table and home, centered around this good-naturedness. Laughter can shake out fear. As Norman Cousins evidenced, our health can be immeasurably improved with humor. He, with the cooperation of his doctor, prescribed regular doses of humor from Marx Brother’s films, the television series, Candid Camera, as well as the book, Subtreasury of American Humor by E.B. White. By his efforts, he mentally cured his terminal, painful and immobilizing illness. https;//sites.google.com/site/laughofflife/page-1

NINE: SOAR INTO EXERCISE

Soaring into exercise is a moving experience! Movement of the body is critical to preventing an emotion such as fear from lodging in our bodies. My favorite exercise is qigong, along with a few yoga stretches. Practicing this for a mere ten minutes a day for over ten years has given me more stamina than I had three decades ago. If I skip a day, I feel achy. That alone is encouragement enough to continue my practice. When I desire more aerobic movement, I love to take a walk down to our pond.

TEN: INVITE TALK THERAPY

Inviting talk therapy is a great stress reliever. If you feel you need further help, consider discussing your fear issues with a health professional. Alternatively, a trusted friend or family member could make a great sounding board. Even our fur-babies are good listeners and more than likely will not divulge your deepest secrets. An added bonus with a pet session is that stroking their fur is mutually beneficial.

Perhaps adopting one or more of these keys could unlock any fears you may be harboring within your body. If you are fortunate enough to carry a natural immunity to fear, all these keys are extremely conducive to achieving general good health as well.

Oh, you may be wondering, which Crosby, Stills and Nash song contained the lyrics, “fear is the lock”? All of you smart, hippy dudes and dudettes know it as “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”!

Intriguingly, following the group singing their set, one of them announced to the 1969 Woodstock crowd of over four hundred thousand that this was only their second time of performing in front of a live audience. They exclaimed they were “scared sh–less”!

I have my doubts if any of them still suffer from stage fright, but if they did, maybe these keys could unlock their fear!

THE 2020 TREE

Not Screaming but Singing

My friend, this is the famous 2020 tree in case you’ve not met her. It is understandable if you may think she would be screaming her leaves off with the events of this year. It may appear that she is throwing her branches up in sheer disgust. If she were, which she is not, I sincerely would not blame her. I mean, just think of the world stage with the pandemic, the politics and the division. Then there is the unemployment, the racism and the criminal justice system, not to mention the dilemmas of masks, the CDC and schooling.

What is a 2020 tree to do? Sing! She is lifting up her limbs in joyous song. When things seem so low that they can’t get any worse, they’ve nowhere to go but up. There are two choices. We can live in fear, feebly covering it by screaming and shouting. The other choice is to live in love by singing and imagining.

What Does Your 2020 Tree Imagine?

As an art teacher, as well as an artist of many arts, I know that everything starts with imagination. Imagine our world as exceeding your greatest concept of beauty. This is what we will create together! Start with a generous measure of joy and add a cup of peace. Stir liberally with love. I promise you this will be the lightest delicacy you’ve ever tried!

After devouring our previous delicacy, let’s join together in singing in a new future. Imagine this world in a better place than she’s ever been. This seed must be planted before it can grow. The soil is fertile and ready. What will you plant? Remember what is within leaks out. What thoughts will you nurture within the garden of your mind? I think mine shall be filled with love, light, peace and joy. These lovelies join me daily!

P.S. I give my thanks to poet, Stevie Smith, 1902-1971. Her 1957 poem, Not Waving but Drowning inspired my title with an optimistic twist.

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