Vi's Art Gallery
(ad-in-fi-ni-tum ) adv. --ad in fi ni tum adj. To infinity;having no end. (Latin ad, to + infinitum, accusative of infinitus, infinite.)
Picture of the Month
October 20, 2011
Tied to her body with shoestrings and twine, Mom cut the strands two years ago today. Once she entered the nursing home, three years before her passing, the doctor started giving her Cymbalta, and she ceased to be the person I'd always known. Even so, for most of her life, as well as in the home, she lived in ways that were right for her.
This piece, however, is not about her. It's about me, the only one remaining who was willing to tend to her affairs, a task I would have been forced to tackle alone if it had not been for my loving husband, Phil. At the time he was coping with the loss of his own mother, settling her estate, dealing with dishonest family members. He often put his needs on hold to help me. This article is not about tending to our mothers' affairs either. It's about the lessons I learned about family-- his and mine, acquaintances and friends while wrapping up our mothers' lives. I learned oh so many things. Most of them I would rather not know, nor did I want to have them confirmed. Such is the way with learning. While some philosophies and religions tell us to focus only on the positives, if we follow that practice, we miss the lessons the negatives have to teach and, thereby, risk repeating the errors.
If only I had resisted relinquishing a major lesson of my youth--a lesson born in shyness. Shy really means you are very careful whom you trust--that's the truth I should have held close. My shyness/insecurity was born of religion--a belief system which taught me I wasn't worth much. Time after time as I reached out, I was rebuffed if I did not conform. For me to conform, I would have needed to stop being myself. Shakespeare told us "To thine own self be true." His wisdom is exactly right.
During my first marriage I took the first steps to overcome shyness. That otherwise restrictive marriage also drove me to further my education. I had always been more academically inclined than most of my family. Embracing academia sets you apart from the work-a-day mentality. It also can inhibit becoming more socially adept with those who choose not to expand their mind set. College and subsequent life experience helped me develop confidence. Confidence is a biggy when it comes to deleting shyness. Turns out, confidence can also alienate others, if you are true to yourself. Jealousy and condemnation by others can result. Thus, my higher self sputtered to assert itself. Subsequent events and insights are explored in my articles and books, fiction and non-fiction.
The lessons I learned, because of my mother's illness and her subsequent passing as well as the liberation of my dear mother-in-law, have grown into the following truths, insights I did not want to accept:
1. People often don't care about you unless there's something in it for them. This means they really don't care.
2. They will manipulate even when you are down, or perhaps especially when you are down, to get what they want. They will drain you dry if you allow it, and then deny they did so.
3. When someone says "I love you" they rarely mean it. It's become an empty recitation. Love is as love does, my grandmother always said.
4. Loyalty for the most part has been lost.
5. When others need to talk, they are glad when you listen. They may even expect it. When you need to talk, they avoid you.
6. The practice of giving others the benefit of the doubt has been lost. Accusations and anger abound, even when you have gone out of your way to demonstrate your loyalty.
7. If you do help someone, even if you help them often, they usually don't remember, especially when they are family members. This is even more true if you are the good parent of adult children. You get accused of things you never did, would never do. They even unjustifiably attack and betray you when your own mother dies, a time when you most need their support.
8. If you are dealing with someone who regularly abuses mind-altering substances, alcohol and/or drugs, be those substances legal or illegal, anti-depressants, pain killers and/or those just taken to get high, you are not dealing with the real person. You are having a relationship with the drugs. It's impossible to have a real relationship with these people until they stop using, genuinely apologize and fix themselves.
9. People rarely bother to do what it takes to fix their lives. Instead they hide within the illusions created by drugs, religion or other escape mechanisms.
10. There's a vast difference between religion and quintessential spirituality.
11. Family members will lie about what they did or didn't do. It's a game of win/lose. Through those lies they lure others to their side, throw those lies in your face and make you out to be the bad guy, when you are the one who has been honest, straight and doing your best all the while.
12. Sexism still reigns supreme in so many ways, especially in some families.
13. If you're a woman, and a man in the family, in-law or otherwise, wants/wanted to sleep with you and you wouldn't allow it, he will belittle you and make your life more difficult when your need for support is the greatest.
14. Business friends made during times of stress are rarely true friends, even if you hope they are. It's out of sight out of mind. They may want accolades, but seldom reciprocate.
15. Whether the amount of the inheritance is small or large, family members sometimes will do what they can to steal you blind if you are not vigilant.
16. Family members who promise to help with the settling of things, won't.
17. The more religious the family member or friend is, the less likely they are to be there for you. When you turn to them for support, you are instructed to turn to God. What they refuse to acknowledge is that if God really exists, people would become God's arms and ears. If they follow the precepts of their own faith, they would hold you while you cry or at least offer to listen, as you need it. They don't.
18. Very few practice the Golden Rule, even those who profess it.
19. Hypocrisy reigns supreme on all levels.
20. Because most social exchanges are artificial, they are exhausting and often not worth the effort.
I've spent the last two years pulling myself from despair, anger, at times even rage at the betrayal. Unwilling to spend the rest of my life within the halls of bitterness, I came up with a list of things to do to alleviate and rise above the unfortunate realities listed above.
1. Remove yourself from the presence of the offenders.
2. Change your phone number, especially if the attacks come through the phone. Censor incoming calls/contacts, one way or another. Make yourself less available. If the offenders subsequently pretend to have done nothing offensive and ask for favors, ignore them.
3. Have an attorney handle the legal affairs in the settlement of the estate, even if you can't really afford it. It's worth the peace of mind, and this way the other heirs are less likely to sue you. This can save you money in the long run.
4. Locate your inner demons caused by the betrayal. Systematically dissolve or set them free. When the angry thoughts return again and again, refuse to give them a place to nest.
5. Refuse to stoop to the immaturity and selfishness levels of those who have wronged you.
6. Refuse to participate or to add fuel to the tantrums of others. Do not engage the mad dog.
7. Meditate, exercise, listen to soothing music, watch nature and don't expect instant results or the healing to be instantaneous. The ugliness has been building for a long time. It's unlikely to go away quickly.
8. Create and systematically apply new productive habits and behaviors to replace those that don't work.
9. Reaching up and learning the meaning of kindness does not mean exposing your soft underbelly so others can gut or play you.
10. Don't allow the lack of maturity of others to destroy the beauty that is you.
11. When you do find a true and good friend hold him/her close to your heart.
12. Be true to yourself under all circumstances. Be honest with yourself, always.
13. Realize it can still be a beautiful life, once the riffraff has been removed.
14. Find and follow or resume following your bliss.
15. Accept who you are, all that you are and you are free. Freedom is power.
I move forward from this day, knowing I will still have down times. But each day I encourage my real self to further unfold. I am not the follower at the mercy of societal expectations. Neither will I be an automaton programmed by religion. Nor will I become the person that others insist I become. During moments of Satori I catch glimpses of the person I was before I was born. This is my path of return to that inner perfection.
If so, good. It's good for the economy.
That's what advertisers are counting on. In fact, there's a
whole set of industries dependant on this fear. The cosmetic
industry, plastic surgeons, hairstylists, pharmaceutical
companies, clothing designers as well as manufacturers are just a few
of the groups counting on our continued discomfort with what we see in
the mirror. And it works, for them.
If we are completely honest, most of us can say that the fear of looking old has affected at least some of our choices. Why? Because we have been raised in a culture that reveres the look of youth. When the skin and muscles are firm, when we still have hair, when eye folds have yet to droop, the signs of youth appear to reign supreme.
As we age, all of this changes. We look in the mirror and think, "Look at that. Look at that! Look at the way my skin draws on my neck. Look at those bags under my eyes. And my hair - look at the grey in my hair. Look at how this long hair makes my face look saggy and drawn. Yuck. Look at what this short old lady hair does to me. For crying out loud, I look like Aunt @#$#. Look at the discoloration of my facial skin and the way the elastin is gone from the skin on my arms. Look at...." It can go on and on. So we rush out and buy this and that and apply it to our skin. We buy clothes we think make us look younger and less bulgy. We cut our hair, even if we have always liked long hair.
But alas, no matter what we do, if we stay alive long enough, the signs of aging creep in, becoming more and more prevalent. Oh, we may argue with ourselves and others about it. We may cast aspersions at those who refuse to go along with the culture's youthful expectations, but in the long run, we still look older - and finally old.
I've always been overly concerned about my looks. Vanity, it's called. It can be another word for insecurity, as it turns out. At age 9 I made a decision to never squint at the sun. I didn't want squint lines. The first faint lines on my face appeared when I was 26 - from flossing my teeth. I stopped flossing. When I divorced my first husband and cried due to the broken dreams, financial insecurity and loneliness, the skin under my eyes started stretching into bags. They didn't look like they would ever go away. I stopped crying. At 34 I noticed my first four white hairs along my brow line. I pulled them out. I was 35 the last time I was asked for my ID in a bar. On my 36th birthday I was out celebrating with my second husband at Tequila Willies on the waterfront in Portland, Oregon. As we left the table and headed for the front desk something amazing happened - the crowd parted for me - for me - and watched me walk all the way to the exit, before repeopling the isle. I was wearing a flattering dress, everything about me looked just right that night. It was a real high, though by then I knew it was all about the packaging, not the content, not the real me. Four years ago a female friend told me that people looked at me, like they did her beautiful daughter, whenever my friend and I were out shopping. Did I like the feel of it? Of course. I'm vain. But I'm working on getting over it.
Two and a half years ago, shortly after my mother became quite infirm and was expected to die any time, I looked in the mirror and realized my youthful look was gone. It was gone. I disliked the look of age on my face. I didn't want to look old. I just didn't want to. Looking in the mirror I didn't see beauty anymore, not even inner beauty. I only saw age, fatigue and stress.
My mother didn't die. As her condition dragged on, continued to be a source of stress, I knew that if I was to have any kind of a decent life, I needed to tackle my attitude about everything, starting with the things I could control. One of them was the look of age, I thought. I got my hair cut short. It didn't help. I still looked old, worn out and drawn. After several months it occurred to me that it wasn't the look of age I disliked so much, it was the worry, years of heartache, extreme fatigue and the feeling of being stuck. All of it showed up on my face, and I hated it. So I began working on me, the inner me, and you know what? I realized I still liked me, the real me. I like me now, especially now.
I'm 60. 60. And guess what? It's so much better than 50, 30 or 15. Once I turned 50 I was in a funk about it for four years. I pouted. I worried. I was stressed. And then I realized gradually, that if I was going to have any kind of decent life, I needed to change my attitude. I began, again, as in other times of emotional upheaval, to focus on what really mattered to me. I let go of the people who brought me down, those who attacked directly or indirectly if I did not conform. It's working. I'm better, a lot better, though I am still a work in progress. So many things are better for me now because as each challenge and crappy situation occur I work on growing through it.
I was recently told that my long hair made my face look drawn. So be it. But actually it wasn't the long hair. It was the friendly, wide-open smile. I like the smile even though it draws the cheek skin down in creases and gives me crinkles beside my eyes. I look old now. So be it. If people don't like what I look like, they don't have to look at me. There is no denying, as I look in the mirror, that I am an old woman - an initiate into the world of the crone. Cool. Entering that world is the bridge to liberation, if we look at it that way. It's all about attitude.
When I was 39 my sweetheart, Gary, age 45, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In a period of three months he went from looking like a hunk, who turned heads, to looking like a very sick old man of 65 or 70. As I sat beside him in the hospital room, the nursing staff thought I was his daughter. It didn't matter at all to me that he looked so much older all at once. I just wanted him to live. He didn't. As the life slipped from his body, I told him I loved him, he told me he loved me too, and he died. Right then, I learned that the look of age mattered not at all. Not at all. It took me years to get over his death. It impacted everything I did, everything I became. I made sure I grew from it.
Gary was at his most beautiful when he looked old and broken. It was not his body, his face that was beautiful. It was his spirit as he came to terms with his own death. Since that time I've been learning to apply this lesson to me. It's a hard one in a culture such as this. But I've come to know firsthand, with each heartache I've overcome, that my beauty does not depend on what I see in the mirror. It depends on who I am inside. So now, as I watch myself and my loving husband age gradually, naturally, as I look in the mirror, and I see the drawn skin, the brokenness in my eyes at times, the fatigue, the bunching of the skin here and there, I think to myself, yet again, that the look of age is irrelevant.
In 1989 at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference I met a most beautiful woman. I was 40. She was 75. Everybody at the conference loved Easter Lily. At the hotel bar at night after the workshops ended for the day, young men/old men asked her to dance. She was busier than the rest of us. Why? She sparkled. Oh, it wasn't because she wore make up. She didn't. It wasn't because she had a young woman's body or skin. She didn't. It was because she wasn't afraid to be herself. She told us stories of her mother and her grandmother who had been a slave. She told us about how she came to learn about life, and she danced. She'd had a hard life, but she danced. She laughed. She grinned all over her face even though it created drawn skin and deep lines. And I thought to myself, this is the way I want to be old, like Easter Lily.
So I ask you again, do you fear looking old? Why? Why? We are, after all, little kids in adults bodies which keep getting older and older. The little kid inside still wants to see the wonder, and he/she can. At this age it shows up as sparkle. The most important part of overcoming this fear is learning to be alone with and without ourselves, comfortable in our own skin, even when it looks like it needs to be ironed.
Most important of all is to learn to love yourself, as you look now. You are beautiful. Inside of you is a spark just waiting to be fanned into an eternal flame of pure beauty. Believe it. As you believe, so you are, so you will be.
If you've ever found yourself in a dark place, a place where
you see no hope, a place where you might even consider suicide, a place
where all seems to be against you, where no matter what you do you are
assaulted by things beyond your control, you know of the need to see in
the dark. I have found myself in this place myriad times
throughout my life. Again and again I have searched for ways
to step out of it. Many times I just had to ride it out -
whatever was assailing me. After the attack passed, I
evaluated what happened and turned it into growth. In my
experience, growth is one of the few good things that can come of
In the past I looked to the religious teachings of my youth for strength and comfort. When they failed I searched the spirituality of others, their doctrines, their beliefs, hoping to find something that would help me step beyond the darkness. Some of them comforted me for a time. But when another heavy duty assault came along, it stripped me of energy once again. With each major assault I was older, more tired from the bludgeoning of the body, mind and spirit. Along the way the doctrines of others failed me too, the same way doctrines of my youth failed. Rather than give up, I again searched, finally changing the methods used in the search.
At present I am enmeshed in another period of events beyond my control. Sometimes I want to scream - leave me alone. Leave me alone. Leave me alone! Either support me or get out of my life, permanently. To make it through, I set up milestones that, once they are reached, will indicate things are lightening up, all the while hoping they are prophetic. To my dismay, the milestones, the deadlines I create, do not come to fruition. I am still caught in the trap.
I am doing my best to provide what I need to provide for my ailing mother. I do the best I can to make sure that her affairs are handled carefully and that those, who would inherit from her, are protected. And still they come at me, telling me "I am out of line," telling me I am doing it all wrong, telling me I am lying, accusing me of things that aren't true. I don't like to believe the saying, "No good deed goes unpunished," but it often happens that way. The selfish and immature insist on their own way, no matter what kind of damage they do to others.
I envision myself on a mountain top. Hurricane winds assault me time after time. I picture myself standing strong. Mostly, others back away when I need them - too apathetic or lazy to get involved, too judgmental, afraid to get too close to the turbulent journey, afraid it is somehow catching, too distracted by the minutia of their own lives. Or they try to leach from me the strength I have gained, strength I can ill-afford to lose, rather than develop their own. So, with the exception of my dear husband, I stand alone. Even so, the problems are mine, not his. His sensibilities are not necessarily mine, although I have learned much from him. He is my friend, not my protector. To foster the need for protection is to choose to remain infantile.
As I stand on my mountaintop assailed by the latest set of storms, I know I must learn to see in the dark. And . . . and I must learn to transform the darkness into light, myself. Solutions that come from outside myself can create dependency, childlike qualities that leave me longing for more. I am not a child.
So first, I set a course and yet still another and another as circumstances change. I deal with the practical matters. I accomplish my tasks as best I can.
I seek to dissolve my anger at those who make/have made my life more difficult. I consider the way they are, how they react, what they believe. I assess, as realistically as I can, their individual immaturities and limitations. I release them. I release it all. It's an ongoing process. It takes discipline, a discipline I am still developing.
I limit my intake of negativity. I listen to soothing music. To rid myself of the building agitation, I walk, I lift weights and practice yoga. I stop contacting those who would leach me of my hard-earned energy. I limit their contact with me. I pursue my creative endeavors - my life's chosen work. Unfortunately, in the midst to the stress this is difficult. In the darkness it is hard to see, hard for creativity to bear fruit.
When I have done all this and the darkness continues, I seek a simpler answer, a return to things I already know. I was born with them. We all were. These things have been obscured by the blinders of the physical body. Society, culture and religion have overlaid the things I was born knowing with their own views. For me, those views don't work.
Eastern philosophies say that answers lie within each of us. We are the finite and the infinite. We are a cell of the universe; we are the universe in totality. Within that totality is all I require, I just need to remember what I already know, to sit quietly and allow it to unfold. I've been trying to do that. My logical mind tells me, come on, already. It tells me there are steps that will take me there. But with the trying comes the failure. Experience has taught me that the best things come when I have headed in a direction that seems right for me and let the rest unfold. Light is like that, there all the while, yet sometimes masked.
Okay, light - where are you? The answer comes, I am the light. In Sunday school I sang, "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine." But it was pointing to Jesus' to save me. Jesus, if he actually existed, was just another soul on a journey guided by his own inner light. I don't need his light. I have my own. I need to unmask it.
I leave my mountaintop and walk on the beach. Birds skitter along the sand. Waves slosh in closer and closer, then are drawn away. I stand alone staring at the horizon. I look within, and it is there - the light. I allow it to diffuse throughout my body, my mind, my spirit. I feel good about it. The next wave of darkness hits. I forget the light. I am again in the dark. I remind myself of the inner light. But it again it seems almost nonexistent. I resurrect it. I resolve to allow it to radiate through me, over and over again, until it becomes second nature to react to darkness by emitting my own light.
Like everything else worthwhile it takes practice, ad infinitum. I'm practicing.
We each live with our own set of
illusions, ones that make us feel safe, ones that make us feel alone,
ones that make us feel frightened, ones that make us feel
enlightened. My illusions may not be yours. Yours
may not be mine. Our illusions may change over time - they do
if we grow at all.
These illusions are introduced by our parents, our social groups, our peers, those who would impose their illusions on us and call them truth, those who would evangelize. What I call truth you may call illusion. What you call truth I may call illusion. So, what is truth? What is illusion? There is no real way to know on this level. There is no way to know if there are any other levels. This could be the only one, or this could be one of millions upon billions into infinity.
So what do we do about it? Nothing, everything. Does it really matter? Why should it?
We seem to be having this experience we call life. It could all be a dream. But that begs the question, whose dream?
Living within the illusions of my youth was an angry God who sat waiting to pounce on me if I messed up. I was afraid of "Him." So were others I knew. We tried to behave so we wouldn't be damned. Over time I realized that if God really was that way, I could not respect Him. I could see no reason whatsoever to want to be like someone so angry, someone so threatened by those who wanted to be different or didn't worship Him, someone who didn't allow us to be who we needed to be and to grow in our own ways at our own rate. Why should anyone need to be worshiped, especially a divine being? If you've got it all, by definition, you don't need anything else. How could I love someone like that, someone so insecure? Pity Him, maybe. Hope he grows up, absolutely. Within these realizations God became god, one of the rest of us, whoever we are.
That leads to thoughts about absolute faith. But faith in what, more illusions? Those with absolute faith know that what they believe is truth, the truth. Those, who do not live within the reality of those with absolute faith, must be helped, converted, damned, killed or whatever the illusions call for. Some call this kind of faith, freedom. Some call it prison. Some call this kind of faith, delusional. Some call it tyranny. Many atrocities are committed by those with this kind of mind set, atrocities fervently justified by repeated recitation of the illusions.
So if someone approaches me and says, "How are your illusions today?" I might say, "Doing just fine and yours?" Or I might say I'm in the process of slaying mine. I might say anything at all, given my mental state at the time. If you find me when I am staring at nature, my answers are more likely to be peaceful. If you find me when I am listening to the evening news, my answers are more likely to be jaded.
As I develop, as I learn from each of the things that happen to me, as more tragedy and heartache assault me, I look to my illusions. I readjust them. I work for more realistic versions of what is. Whether or not I ever reach reality is debatable. But I do learn and grow. For me growth is the ongoing quest.
We each live and die for our illusions. In the final scheme of thing, we can ask ourselves, was it worth it?
"How can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people....
"If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow of flowers.
"Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.
"This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
"One thing we know: Our God is also your God. The earth is precious to Him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator."
Chief Sealth (Seattle), leader of the Suquamish
to President Franklin Pierce in 1855
I do my thing, and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
And if by chance, we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.
Frederick S. Perls
My name is Mildred Norman.
I began my pilgrimage on the first of January in 1953. It was a period in which I was merged with the whole. No longer was I a seed buried under the ground, but I felt as a flower reaching out effortlessly toward the sun. On that day I became a wanderer relying upon the goodness of others. It would be a pilgrim's journey undertaken in the traditional manner: on foot and on faith. I left behind all claims to a name, personal history, possessions and affiliations.
My mission is to help promote peace by helping others to find inner peace. If I can find it, you can too. Peace is an idea whose time has come.
When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others. Inner peace is not found by staying on the surface of life, or by attempting to escape from life through any means. Inner peace is found by facing life squarely, solving it's problems, and delving as far beneath its surface as possible to discover its verities and realities. We are all cells in the body of humanity - all of us, all over the world. Each one has a contribution to make, and will know from within what this contribution is.
I consider myself a server working on the cause of difficulties: our immaturity. And yet only a small minority are willing to work with cause. For every person working on cause there are thousands working on symptoms. I bless those who are working on the outer level to remove cause.
It is because most people have not found their purpose and function that they experience painful disharmony within, and thus the body of humanity is headed for chaos. Most of us fall short much more by omission than by commission: "While the world perishes we go our way: purposeless, passionless, day after day."
There is a spark of good in everybody, no matter how deeply it may be buried. It is the real you. Some call this the God-centered nature, others the divine nature and some the Kingdom of God within. Hindus know it as nirvana; the Buddhists refer to it as the awakened soul; the Quakers see it as the Inner Light. In other places it is known as the Christ in you, the Christ Consciousness, the hope of glory, or the indwelling spirit. Even some psychologist have a name for it, the superconscious. But it is all the same thing dressed in different words. The important thing to remember is that it dwells within you! It does not matter what name you attach to it, but your consciousness must ascend to the point through which you view the universe as your God-centered nature. The feeling accompanying this experience is that of complete oneness with the Universal Whole. One merges into a euphoria of absolute unity with all life: with humanity, with all the creatures of the earth, the trees and plants, the air, the water, and even earth itself. This God-centered nature is constantly awaiting to govern your life gloriously. You have the free will to either allow it to govern your life, or not to allow it to affect you. The choice is always yours.
Our link to Peace Pilgrim
1. Go within, find the beauty that lives there and bring it to life. What is beauty? It is a delightful quality of harmony of form, excellence, truthfulness, originality, talent or something else equally positive. We've all got it. It's a matter of giving it the freedom to be.
2. Smile, starting today. Start in your heart. Think of something that makes you feel good and smile. Allow that smile to spread from your heart to your chest to your limbs and throughout your entire body. Become the smile. It will help. In this isolated and frightened society, smiling can trigger new beginnings. Share it with others in the grocery line, on the subway or bus, in the building where we live or near our homes. It doesn't cost anything. It risks nothing. Contrary to urban myth, it doesn't make us more vulnerable. Smiling doesn't mean opening your life to dangerous people. It's just a reflection of feeling good within yourself. You say you don't feel good? Then fake it at first and work on making it so. It works. Anything focused on long enough becomes true for the focuser. It's a jump-start for the heart.
3. Look behind the mask. It's an excellent defense mechanism, but dreams held in protective custody can die. Learn to see the dreams in every heart. As with everything else, this takes practice.
4. Plant seeds in ourselves and others. Positive words of encouragement, ideas on how to become what we/you want to be can sprout into positive actions, even if we're not around to see them grow.
5. Provide little rewards for ourselves/yourself along the way - they help keep us from getting too discouraged.
6. Listen. Show interest in the people in our lives - our daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, the children of friends, coworkers, neighbors as well as our riends. This will help us all feel better.
7. Think cooperation, not competition. Establish mentoring programs in our own areas of expertise - even if that's how to cook the best lemming stew ever
8. Nurture ourselves. Go back to school for that Ph.D. in astrophysics, establish a coed monastery in Idaho, construct an arboretum in the spare bedroom, take up sky diving or.... When we head toward the dream(s), we give new life to the creative heart within. Our enthusiasm will become infectious.
9. Peacefulness. World peace as well as inner peace begins by letting go of hate and fear and replacing it with positive regard. Hard to do during these violent and hateful times? No one ever said peace was easy. Listen to music that calms you, watch nature in a place you feel safe, take up yoga, ferret out a philosophy that fosters bliss not anger and dissatisfaction. You will feel so much better if you do this.
10. The source of hope. The hope for everyone is the practice of love. This love already resides in the child-heart within each of us. Once awakened, its power can transform the planet - one person at a time. If each one teaches one, all will know.
11. Remember the power of one. Clara Barton, Mary Baker Eddy, Margaret Sanger, Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Tosca Means, a talented creative women who was one of my role models, and my aunt Lottie each used their one life to create something positive. We can do it too, wherever and whoever we are.
12. Take charge of your future. Shakespeare was right. We are on a stage. We each are the writers, the actors, the directors and the producers in our own plays. It's up to us to create the play we want. Do it. Make yourself happy.
The key lies
Where Art Meets The Heart.
I've been thinking
about who I am and what is important to me. I've been
thinking about what I'm willing to put up with and what I am not.
I value honesty. I do not value those who play games, blame, manipulate and/or denigrate others to achieve what they want. It seems most people fit into the later category. For example they might say, "I need you really bad today." So I drop what I'm doing, my life's work, to be with and comfort them, only to find out it was not an emergency, and there was no need. I don't mind sharing the love and compassion, that is part of me, with others to help them gain self-acceptance, and help them find their own way. I do mind those who claim to be working on themselves and growing, and then I discover that they do not use my positive energy to help themselves grow. They just drain me of my hard earned energy and when they use up that energy they come back for more and drain me, again and again. I will no longer put up with this kind of vampirism.
I value working toward one's dreams. Without doing so, we are all just drones. I value being honest with oneself about whether one is actually working toward them or just redefining the dreams downward, so one can fool oneself and others into believing one is working on them.
I value finding and developing one's talents. Otherwise life has no purpose, but mere existence; mere existence is pointless.
I value the concept of saving oneself. I do not value expecting others to save them, be it some religious figure, one's spouse, children, friends, the government, etc. No one can do for another what they need to do for themselves. If someone else saves us, we haven't learned a thing; we haven't grown. We remain infants.
I value accepting responsibility for oneself and one's mistakes, no matter what has happened in one's life. I do not value blaming others for one's shortcomings and problems. Get over it, whatever it is, no matter what others or circumstances have done to a person. Figure out what needs to be done to fix things and do it.
I value facing things squarely, not hiding in alcohol, drugs or any kind of refuge, even if that refuge is prescribed by the medical community. That community is self-serving.
I value being myself at all times. Being anything else is hard work. It requires being artificial. It is a betrayal of the soul. Shakespeare was right - "To thine own self be true." So if to be around or communicate with others, I have to edit myself, or they require that I edit myself, I do not consider them friends, but just acquaintances, even if they are friendly to me and I to them.
I value information, knowledge and wisdom. Those who refuse to look at the facts, all the facts with an unbiased eye, as best they can, are contributing to the disharmony, hate and violence in the world. I will not be part of their practiced ignorance.
I value realizing that the earth and its resources are limited and that each of us has a responsibility to assess what we can do to make sure life on the planet can continue. This means practicing environmental conservation and population control. Those who truly love children will stop having them. To have children under the present circumstances is to doom them to starvation and violence. There are currently 6.5 billion people on the planet. With global warming, the subsequent climate change and land masses being covered by water from melting polar caps and glaciers, the earth's sustainable population is about to drop from 8 billion to 2 billion. The have-nots will be killing the haves. To deny this fact is to remain infantile, and thereby contribute to the death of all of us. It is the responsibility of each of us to act now.
I value genuine kindness, not self-righteous, self-serving acts masquerading as kindness.
I value the underlying goodness in all. But I realize that at this point very few are functioning with that goodness. If this negative trend does not reverse, life will become untenable. It will cease to exist.
I value the idea of saving the world. It is something we all need to do. Unfortunately the world can be seen as a leaky boat. The leaks keep being patched by caring individuals. New personnel come onboard and make new leaks, and more caring individuals fix those leak, generation after generation. One day, the way things are currently being handled, the boat will sink, permanently. I don't intend to go down with it. I intend to transcend it.
The qualities I value most are courtesy, respect, honor, integrity, truthfulness and compassion. Without them we are less than beasts.
Once my elderly mother no longer needs my care, the equitable settlement of her estate is completed and that leg of my responsibility is over, I will remove myself from the mundane world. I retreat to my mountain ashram, do my work and live in the peace of my own creation. I now stand on mountains tops, at the great divide, and prepare to head into the pristine wilderness.
In the embers of my mind lives a rose, a white one with thirteen petals. Alone on a field of aqua-blue, its beauty is exquisite. Its meaning, I discovered, is pure and perfect love. Perfect love, I asked myself, is that possible? After all the relationship failures, intimate and otherwise, with people who claimed to love me, whom I claimed to love, and those who cared for nothing but themselves, the idea of perfect love seemed laughable, implausible. But as I sought my inner self, as I learned who and what I had been, who and what I am, who and what I can be, who and what I desire to be, the idea gained merit. Perfect love has nothing to do with and everything to do with me.
As time went on, more roses joined my rose, one at a time forming an arch, becoming a circle. The circle grew larger and larger as more roses squeezed in. Millions of them, merging together, yet retaining their individuality, became one giant rose, forming a web of love around the earth, sending positive energy throughout this place we all live.
I am a rose, a white one with thirteen petals. If this is what you are or would like to be, if you would like to join the circle, you need do nothing but picture it in you heart and radiate it out to all that is.
An old man going a lone highway
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side,
And build a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting your strength with your building here.
Your journey will end with the passing day,
You never again will pass this way.
You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you this bridge at eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head,
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that was not to me
To that fair youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim -
Good friend! I am building the bridge for him."
From the Baitinger Elec. Co.'s New York City, Monthly Calendar Card. Found in THE BRIDGE TO FREEDOM JOURNAL, September 1953. Reprint permission granted by Ms. Annette Werner, Ascended Masters Teaching Foundation.
Link to the Ascended Masters Teaching Foundation
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Please note that due to the nature of the beast, Where Art Meets the Heart will evolve over time. Check back periodically to see what's new.
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