22 September  2015      

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Handle with Prayer
Alan Cohen

45 Life Lessons and Five to Grow on
Regina Brett

tom walsh

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Half of our mistakes in life arise from feeling where we ought to think, and thinking where we ought to feel.

John Churton Collins

I don't ask for the meaning of the song of a bird or the rising of the sun on a misty morning.  There they are, and they are beautiful.

Pete Hamill

Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles.

George Bernard Shaw

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

Aldous Huxley

from Handle with Prayer
Alan Cohen

The most rudimentary form of prayer is worry.  How, you ask, could worry be a form of prayer?  Worry is not only a form of prayer, it is the form most often practiced by the most people.  How can this be?

Our understanding of prayer beings with one basic principle:

To think is to create.

Every thought you think tends to manifest according to its nature.  Everything in your life began with an idea.  If you are going to build a home, you start with a blueprint.  If you are painting a portrait, the model sits before you as you set your hand to the canvas.  If you are traveling from Chicago to Seattle, a thought precedes your first step.  The notion of something coming into existence without a thought preceding it is as preposterous as a flower growing without a seed to start it.

This brings us to our second prayer principle:

All thoughts create according to their own kind.

Apples make apples, and oranges form oranges.  An apple seed has never grown an orange, and it never will.  In the same way, thoughts of love, light, and joy beget more of the same; and thoughts of fear, lack, and smallness attract their own kind.

To change your life, begin by changing your thoughts.

Because most people do not understand that every thought is a prayer, they attempt to change their lives by rearranging the outer world without addressing the negative thoughts they are holding about it.  This is called a "geographical cure," which does not work.  It is useless to try to change your outer world unless you first change your inner world.  If you attempt to make external changes before doing the necessary inner transformation, the outer world will just keep repeating the same pattern.  The movie Groundhog Day illustrates a very entertaining lesson in how we keep re-creating the same situation over and over again until we change our mind.  The moment our attitude shifts, so does the situation.

If you want or love something a great deal, you will attract it into your life.  And if you fear or worry about something with emotional intensity, you will attract the object of your fear.  The universal manifestation machine is unbiased in turning your thoughts into reality.

If you are not aware that your thoughts are powerful, you will spend a great deal of time thinking and talking about what you do not want, and you will receive more of the same, and on and on, until your life is a mess and you have no idea why.  You will identity yourself as victim, find people who agree with you; and discover news stories, scientific studies, and all manner of evidence to prove that life is unfair and you are just a pimple on the complexion of the universe.

There is another way.  You weren't born to live small, and you don't have to.  You can shift your attitude now and begin to think about what you do want instead of what you don't want.  Then, the universe will have no choice but to give you what you are concentrating on in your favor, instead of against it.

Worry is the power of creation turned against your own best interests.  The same engine that runs your car in reverse will move it forward if you but reposition the gearshift.  To shift from reverse to drive, reframe your experiences to find the blessing rather than the problem.  Then you will become the master of your universe, rather than its victim.

What you become is not a result of what happens to you; it is a result of how you think about what happens to you.  Six-year-old Tommy's parents were aghast as they watched their son repeatedly throw a baseball in the air, swing at it with a bat, and miss it by a foot.  Finally, Tommy's dad could take it no longer. He approached the boy, put a hand on his shoulder, and compassionately told him,  "Well, son, I guess you're just not meant to be a hitter."

"Hitter?" the child looked at his father questioningly.  "Who cares about hitting?  I'm going to be the greatest pitcher who ever lived!"

When Jesus taught, "As a man thinketh, so shall it be," he was reminding us that we must keep our mind on our hopes, not our fears.  We must focus on our heart's desires rather than our nightmares.

Here is your antidote to worry:  Choose a phrase that brings you release, relief, and empowerment, such as "Peace, be still," "The power of God is within me," or "Love is the answer."  Whenever worry begins to set in, consciously and meditatively repeat your positive phrase until you return to peace.  The mind is capable of paying attention to only one thought at a time.  If you focus on ideas that uplift you, your mind will be unable to dwell on fearful issues.  Eventually you will develop the habit of positive thinking, and the worry that once haunted you will have no reality.  Begin to master the power of prayer by replacing self-defeating thoughts with visions of your brightest future.

Today I set my mind and heart on a new path.  I focus my energy on love, appreciation, and my highest possibilities.  Today I claim responsibility for my own success, and step forward with a new enthusiasm to manifest unprecedented good.  I use my mind to create only the best, and I draw unto me all the support and resources I need for positive change.  Thank you, God, for opening the door to a life filled with blessings.

Handle with Prayer offers a wealth of insights into deepening our prayer and bringing our dreams to life. In a comfortably friendly yet profoundly moving way, Alan Cohen guides readers to create real and lasting changes in their health, prosperity, relationships, and spiritual paths. Prayer, we discover, is a magnificent adventure in manifesting miracles and creating the life of our heart's desire. In this inspiring book, Alan gives you the formula for making your dreams come through, teaching you that enthusiasm generates creativity. His formula is: Desire + Belief = Results. He says, "Desire is the engine that drives spontaneous visioning. When you are enthusiastic, you are linked with the divine. Joy is the pipeline to heaven, and if you keep your channel open and flowing, you will bring heaven to earth."


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Regina Brett's 45 Life Lessons and 5 to Grow on

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I've ever written.  My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here's an update:

1.  Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2.  When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3.  Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4.  Don't take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.

5.  Pay off your credit cards every month.

6.  You don't have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.

7.  Cry with someone.  It's more healing than crying alone.

8.  It's OK to get angry with God.  He can take it.

9.  Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10.  When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11.  Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12.  It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13.  Don't compare your life to others'.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14.  If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15.  Everything can change in the blink of an eye.  But don't worry; God never blinks.

16.  Life is too short for long pity parties.  Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17.  You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18.  A writer writes.  If you want to be a writer, write.

19.  It's never too late to have a happy childhood.  But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20.  When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21.  Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.  Don't save it for a special occasion.  Today is special.

22.  Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23.  Be eccentric now.  Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24.  The most important sex organ is the brain.

25.  No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26.  Frame every so-called disaster with these words:  "In five years, will this matter?"

27.  Always choose life.

28.  Forgive everyone everything.

29.  What other people think of you is none of your business.

30.  Time heals almost everything.  Give time time.

31.  However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32.  Your job won't take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends will.  Stay in touch.

33.  Believe in miracles.

34.  God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35.  Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

36.  Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.

37.  Your children get only one childhood.  Make it memorable.

38.  Read the Psalms.  They cover every human emotion.

39.  Get outside every day.  Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40.  If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41.  Don't audit life.  Show up and make the most of it now.

42.  Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

43.  All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44.  Envy is a waste of time.  You already have all you need.

45.  The best is yet to come.

46.  No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47.  Take a deep breath.  It calms the mind.

48.  If you don't ask, you don't get.

49.  Yield.

50.  Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

*  *  *  *  *

Regina Brett is a columnist for The Cleveland Plain Dealer.  You can contact her at rbrett@plaind.com.  You can also read some of her thoughts about this piece at http://www.cleveland.com/brett/blog/index.ssf/2009/



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For years, the people of Canyon Bluff have shared the stories of the Nogglz, their own version of the monsters in the closet. "If you don't behave, the Nogglz will come and get you and carry you down into the mines," they've told their children. Of course, they were just stories. Nobody could have stayed alive in an old mine for six decades. But when one of their own is brutally murdered one cold November night, it may be time to come to terms with the sins of their fathers and their own ties to the town's dreadful past. And for the sheriff and his deputy and the state troopers who are called to the town to deal with the murder, an ordinary day becomes an extraordinary battle for simple survival.
Sometimes I write things just to tell a story, but I just can't help mentioning some life lessons, even in a novel about creatures running amok in an old mining town in the Colorado mountains.  Nogglz is available in print by clicking here, or as a Kindle e-book by using the link to the left.  Using the mining town as the setting is a tribute to my mother, who grew up in a tiny mining town herself, and who has never left there in her heart.


We are motivated more by aversion to the unpleasant than by a will
toward truth, freedom, or healing. We are constantly attempting to
escape our life, to avoid rather than enter our pain,
and we wonder why it is so difficult to be fully alive.

Stephen Levine
A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last




I feel uncomfortable with the fact that the idea of prayer seems to have been hijacked by organized religions.  In the process, the people who have done the hijacking have attached all sorts of rules to prayer--what to say, how to say it, when to say it, what position the body should be in while we pray--all sorts of limitations on prayer that have mostly resulted in turning people off of prayer.

The fact is, though, that prayer is a form of communication between a person and God, whatever that person believes God to be.  I simply cannot say something like, "Your prayers aren't heard because you aren't praying to my version of God."  The truth is, of course, that God exists on his/her own level, and it's not within my realm of knowledge to know what God does and does not do, what God does and does not accept.  My only task in life is to what I believe is right in God's eyes, and not to tell others that they have to behave based in ways that correspond to my beliefs.

That said, I have to say that prayer is a wonderful source of peace and clarity in our lives--or at least, it can be.  In my life, I neglect prayer pretty regularly because I get caught up in doing the things that I need to be doing.  I do pray, but not as much as I could or in the ways I'd like to.  It's a shame because prayer could be bringing me much more peace than it does.


Prayer does not change God,
but changes those who pray.

Søren Kierkegaard

Prayer is simply a dialogue between us and our Creator.  Even those people who don't believe in a God have a place for prayer in their lives, for somewhere along the line, we all were created.  Whether we see that creation as the work of a deity or a simple occurrence on this amazing planet on which we live, there is place for prayer.  We can pray in thanks to the world for our gifts; we can pray in admiration of the beauty and abundance of the world; we can pray in awe of the fact that the atoms and molecules and cells that make us all up somehow have given us this life to live for the time that we're here.

And when we pray, we are changed.  When I pray, there are several changes that I feel immediately.  First of all, I feel a sense of clarification about the issues for which I pray.  If I'm having problems and I pray for strength to deal with them or peace of mind while dealing with them, my prayers help to put them in perspective.  Am I expecting God to intervene and just cancel out all my problems in one fell swoop?  Absolutely not.  But I do feel a certain peace just in knowing that I'm addressing those problems and that I recognize their importance in my life--and that I'm acknowledging them and accepting them just as they are, in the hopes of dealing with them effectively.

Prayer also changes me in that when I pray for someone else, I'm creating links between me and others, even if those links are merely the positive thoughts that I'm sharing on their behalf.  I can never be sure if my prayers for others are actually answered or not, but I can be sure that I'm putting positive energy into the world when I pray for good things for other people.  There are enough people putting negative energy into the world--we need more of us sharing our positive prayers.  Life is all about energy--think about how you feel around someone who's constantly negative and critical versus how you feel around a person who has positive encouragement and love to share.  You feel different based on the energy that is a part of who they are, and thus a part of the environment in which they find themselves.  What kind of energy do you contribute?

Prayer is not an old woman's idle
amusement.  Properly understood
and applied, it is the most potent
instrument of action.

Mohandas Gandhi

Prayer can also bring about change.  While it shouldn't be used as a substitute for necessary action, it does serve many valuable purposes on its own.  When changes are necessary in life and many people are praying for the same changes, then there are results.  Unfortunately, the results aren't always what we consider to be our desired results, so we think that prayer has failed.  Life, though, is much better at knowing which results are necessary for better things to happen, and we shouldn't lose faith in the strength of our prayers just because we were mistaken in the results we hoped to see.

I believe in the power of prayer because I've seen the results in many people I know.  These people make prayer a central part of their lives, and they do see benefits from it.  They're not people who are specially gifted or privileged, or any closer to God than you or I, but because they do pray regularly and realistically, their prayers make sense and they're very often "answered."  Is an answered prayer a direct result from asking God something?  It doesn't seem realistic to me to think that God says, "I think I'll answer Jimmy's prayer today, but not David's."  It makes no sense.  But if they're praying, both Jimmy and David are putting themselves into the flow of life, and they both will see benefits from that action, even if not at the same time.

Both of them also are focused on allowing a higher power to influence their actions and words and thoughts.  It's important to note that they're not becoming passive people just waiting for God to do something for them--they're still living their lives, just under the influence of unconditional love and compassion.

The value of persistent prayer is not that He
will hear us. . .  but that we will finally hear Him.

William  McGill

And this, indeed, is where the greatest strength of prayer resides--in the love and compassion of the Creator, and allowing that love and compassion to work in our lives and accepting that love and compassion for ourselves.  We are loved, all of us, even if sometimes we feel that we aren't.  Our prayer lives allow us to know that we are loved and that compassion is ours--all the time.  And if we're the recipients of compassion, then we can share compassion ourselves; if we're the recipients of love, then we can spread love in our lives as well.

What are we listening for when we pray?  It's simple.  We're listening for the words "I love you," and for the input that will allow us to change situations for the better.  That knowledge is already a part of us, just as God is a part of each of us, and prayer helps us to unlock that knowledge and put it to use.  Perhaps what is needed in a situation is to let it develop without our input, and the best thing we can do is stand by and wait until the time is right for us to contribute.  This is something that we've probably already noticed on a subconscious level, and our prayers can help us to bring this knowledge to the conscious level.  This is what listening is all about--acknowledging a higher knowledge and accepting what it tells us is best for everyone involved, and following the advice.  The voice of God isn't a commanding or demanding voice that booms down from the heavens; rather, it's a small voice inside of ourselves that we can hear in the silence of our prayer time.

Prayer is not an antiquated, out-of-date strategy for getting what we want.  Prayer is one of the most important elements of a life that if full of love and peace and compassion, and it would be doing a great service to ourselves if we were to take prayer seriously and make it an integral part of who we are.  Many will benefit if we do so.

More on prayer.


One of the most important elements
of living life fully is awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively. In the twelve years of livinglifefully.com's existence, this essay series has been a mainstay of the weekly e-zine--a series that has explored not just the things that exist and that happen around us, but also our reactions to those things. The first five years of the column are now available exclusively on Kindle.



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We do not succeed in changing things according to our desire, but gradually
our desire changes.  The situation that we hoped to change because it was intolerable becomes unimportant.  We have not managed to surmount the obstacle, as we were absolutely determined to do, but life has taken us around it, led us past it, and then if we turn around to gaze at the remote past, we can barely catch sight of it, so imperceptible has it become.

Marcel Proust

Perspective can cause us to see a beautiful sunset as a boring, ordinary part of daily life, or it can help us to see the beauty in the many "ordinary" things that surround us. Almost everything we see or have access to is a miracle, either in its simplicity or complexity.  The flowers that grow in our gardens have gone through an amazing process of turning from a seed to flowers.  The rivers that flow are fed with water that has gone through an incredible cycle of evaporation, falling as rain, flowing to a certain area where it can join the river.  The fact that I can write these words and put them on the internet so that friends I shall never meet in South Africa and Hong Kong can read them is one of the greatest miracles of our times, yet the internet has quickly become "normal," a tool for businesses to make more money.

But I've recognized something very important--I can refuse to see the world and the things and people in it as "normal"; I can choose to see the marvelous qualities of everything, but I have to work at it, for our societal norms tell us to value conformity and the status quo.  I'll always look for the beauty in trees, the soul in the eyes of the people I meet, the wonder of the flowers that come out each spring, the loveliness of children at play.  And I'll do so because I choose to do so, for those are the important things in life.  I'm not here to make money or become famous--I'm here to love and to live.  If I focus on that and maintain a great deal of responsibility (yes, i will work), then I can't help but live a full life, for there are many more rewards available to those who are easily satisfied and entertained, and I choose to be more than satisfied with the reward of a child's smile or a friend's "thank you."

tom walsh

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others
only a green thing which stands in the way.  To the eyes of people
of imagination Nature is Imagination itself.  As we are, so we see.

William Blake


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