Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of lent for many Christians around the world. It is a season of 40 days for penance, fasting and giving. It is a time for reflection and searching one’s inner being for faith-based improvement and giving to others.
A few days prior to the beginning of Lent each year, I find myself in search of to ‘give up and/or to give to’. In my more mature years, I have come to believe that both are very important. Not only do I need to ‘give up certain things, but I also need to give to’. My give up this year is about stopping my conversation around specific events in my life. This conversation really serves no greater purpose in my life or anyone else’s. So, I’m giving up that ‘talk’.
As for ‘giving to’, I am determining what charitable contribution, even though it may be small, might best benefit others in my community. Perhaps, it will be to a shelter in the area or another entity that serves those in need.
As a young person many years ago, it was deemed that ‘giving up’ was best practice for Lent. Growth in both my faith and in my life have helped me to understand that ‘giving to’ can be equally as important and looked upon favorably.
Blessings to each of you during this Lenten season.
I believe that this is an appropriate post for the day……
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy; It does not boast; It is not proud. It does not dishonor others; It is not self-seeking; It is not easily angered; It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. LOVE NEVER FAILS.”
1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-8
After this quote from the Bible, my favorite quote is from Leo Buscaglia:
“What love we’ve given, we’ll have forever. What love we fail to give, will be lost for all eternity.”
May you each have not only a loved filled day, but a love filled life with PURPOSE, JOY AND POSITIVES.
I took this picture of one of the snow sculptures at a recent Winter Fest in our town and it brought to mind winter blues. Those feelings of ‘ugh, another dreary cold day’ or ‘no sunshine again’ or ‘I am tired of winter’. Unless you live in the land of eternal sunshine (most days), as many as six percent of the population (four times more common in women than in men) experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and another 14% of the adult population live with what is known as winter blues, a milder form of SAD.
I will admit, I experience winter blues some days and I am always thinking about ways to combat those feelings that could start out with ‘I don’t really want to do anything today’ kind of feeling. Multiple authors write that these feelings may be triggered by a lack of sunlight, as well as a possible genetic predisposition to these symptoms. So in thinking about ways to work through these feelings……….
- Plan a positive experience for myself a few days a week.
- Get outside for a walk, even if it is a short walk, as this will release those endorphins in the brain (neurochemicals that boost mental health).
- Eat more organic Vitamin D – rich foods, such as mushrooms and seafood.
- Give myself some very specific tasks to accomplish in the week (I write them down).
- Watch a comedy movie (laughing also releases endorphins).
- Strategically plan my garden for spring (even ordering a few plants or seeds).
- Think about what type of vacation I would like to plan to take.
Popular articles also discuss options of increasing Vitamin D intake through supplements and the use of Light Therapy. Obviously, if either of these are your choice of action, you need to consult your doctor first.
Anne Bradstreet, a poet, said “If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant.” I do believe that hope springs eternal in that this winter too shall pass. I WILL smell the freshness of early spring flowers and budding trees!
HELLO SNOW, SNOW AND MORE SNOW…….THE CALM:
Just to bring you up to date from the Midwest in case you missed the news……..It is bitterly cold and we have feet, not inches, of snow!!! Schools have been closed twice in the last week and no doubt they will be tomorrow, due to the deep freeze.
I am not a winter person, but there was a certain beauty and magic as the snow lightly fell yesterday and I was trouncing through the snow with two of my grandkids to get to the top of a little hill so they could sled down it. I stood up at the top of the hill, looked up, took a couple of deep breaths, let the snow fall on my face and held my arms out to the universe. It was an awesome experience. It somehow felt calming and that all was right in my corner of the world.
Here are some other ideas for creating CALM in the middle of a storm.
- Try to keep your perspective and think POSITIVE because this too shall pass
- Give your self a time to step back and reflect or a 5 minute meditation
- Think about only the things you CAN control; let go of what is out of your control
- Keep the parts of your daily routine that will work during the storm; let go of the routines that are overwhelming or simply will not work
- Don’t try to multitask in this storm; just do the necessary and get through it
- Last, but certainly not least, give yourself a break; go easy on your expectations of yourself and those around you until things settle down
- Be patient with yourself, breathe deeply and smile
“This too shall pass” an adage to remind us that this storm is temporary.
What is your way of finding calm?
A new month and 365 new days (actually 360 since it is January 5) to create our legacy for 2019. What will it be? How will we accomplish it? How will we spend these 360 days? The new year is a new book, with many new chapters, some chapters revisited, and it has 360 blank pages to write your own story. How will it read?
To start the conversation, I will share what our parish priest talked about last week: wishes versus resolutions. Our wishes are repeated musings about what we would like to have or be. Whereas, resolutions are things that get beyond the wish level because we commit to ‘do’ in order to create and accomplish. We committ…that is the key.
In my reading, I found that several writers aspire to the idea that rather than making resolutions, you chose one word that is your focus for the year. A second idea was to write one thank you note to someone each week of the year, building a habit of gratitude. Another idea was to write on a small piece of paper the date and one thing that you enjoyed that day. Put them in a jar and on New Year’s Eve of 2019 read them, one by one, savoring all the JOY that you experienced in the year. (I love this idea and am doing it).
Another author, one of my favorites Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic, wrote about our ability to reflect, reminisce and perhaps have regrets about the past, but in the past space you cannot HOPE. It is not available! It is in our future, in our heart, that HOPE lives. I guess that is what resolutions or one word mantras for the year are all about…..yes HOPE that new beginnings in different areas of our lives will come our way. Without HOPE, we will remain stuck in the past, unable to dream, commit and do the future.
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all” wrote Emily Dickinson.
What is your HOPE for 2019 and what are the steps you will take to make it real?
Today brings us within two days of closing out one year and looking forward to the next…2019!
As I spend some time today reflecting on this year, I am grateful, blessed, saddened, happy and filled with JOY all at the same time. Our lives can never be continually just one of the above emotions; it is always a mixed bag because that is LIFE! Someone once told me that if we were constantly, each minute of each day, in a high state of JOY/HAPPINESS that our physical beings would not humanly be able to manage that flood of emotion day after day. We would break under the weight of the emotion. When I think of those types of moments, I know that is true. Our lives have to be balanced with mixed emotions, as it is balanced with the good and not so good experiences we find on our journey.
So, my final note for 2018 is to look at the little star to the left of the church. It says BELIEVE. That is what keeps us going through the thick and the thin of life and the emotional ups and downs. We just keep on believing….in ourselves, our family, our friends, and most of all in the Lord who provides us with everything!
This year will close soon. May you renew your BELIEVE button in your heart and step into 2019 with PURPOSE, JOY and POSITIVES!
MERRY CHRISTMAS: HALLELUJAH
The word hallelujah means “God be praised in worship”. As we prepare in the last few hours before Christmas morning dawns, let us take a few minutes from our schedules and countdown of final touches to reflect on the reason we have this day of celebration with family and friends who gather with us to share a meal , our gifts, joy, laughter, and the making of memories.
One of the most meaningful pictures I saw on social media during this season was the picture of a huge Santa with his hat off, bended on one knee, head down facing the manager where the Baby Jesus lay. The caption was something to the effect of let us not forget the real meaning/reason for Christmas.
I realize that some of you who read this blog today may not have much celebration to look forward to during this season; some may have experienced serious illness, new diagnosis that are scary; some may not have enough money to buy gifts or perhaps even to purchases enough food for breakfast let alone dinner; some may have not been able to find work and struggle to support their family; some may be experiencing the loss of a loved one and being alone; and some may be in the chains of addiction to one thing or another. For all of these sad challenges, I will add you to my prayers whoever and wherever you are. The message to you though is that Jesus was born for ALL of us; He is there in the quiet of your worry, concerns and struggles. He will never leave any of us for any reason. Our hearts just have to be still and listen for His comforting whisper.
In my own family, we are experiencing several of the things I have talked about in the above paragraph. Yet, we hold each other dear; we console each other; pray for healings; and trust that God will see us through to the other side.
JOHN 3:16: “FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE”.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND BLESSINGS OF PEACE AND JOY TO EACH OF YOU!