16 February  2016      

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 Vital Living
Lucinda Bassett

Spirit to Spirit:  Congratulations!
David Thomas

Strategies for Dealing with Adversity
tom walsh

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The longer you live the more you realize that forgiveness, consideration, and kindness are three of the great secrets of life.


The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one.  Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt but in spite of doubt.

Rollo May

Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of little children are pure.  Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.

Black Elk

Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.

Artur Rubinstein


Vital Living
Lucinda Bassett

Many of us treat our cars better than we do our bodies.  After all, we wash our cars regularly, we wax them, and we make sure their engines are in safe working order. We get them checkups when they're due and we take them to the "car doctor" at the slightest hint of a problem.

Do you do the same for your body?  How well do you take care of yourself?  Do you exercise or are you too lazy or tired?  Do you grab food on the fly?  Do you raise your energy level with soft drinks and caffeine?  How do you sleep?  Do you turn to alcohol or medication in an attempt to calm yourself down?

The truth is that these days, a large number of people are not dying from natural causes.  Rather, they are dying from their own bad choices. Some may be stress-induced, others may be affected by the environment, but much of our bad health and many of our premature deaths come from the processed foods and additives we put into our bodies.  We just don't take good enough care of ourselves.

Did you know that your ability to cope with stress is directly related to your health, dietary choices, exercise, and your ability to sleep?  If any one of these four elements is out of balance, your emotional and physical health will not be stable and your life may be shortened.

If your goal is to feel good, to be healthy, and to live a long life, you have to take responsibility for the whole package.  It's not only about how positive you are or how clearly you think.  It's also about what you eat and drink and how you take care of your body.

It is time to let go of excuses for not feeling good.  There are some easy, life-changing solutions that will help you feel better immediately.  They will help you get more sleep and have more energy during the day.  You can take control of your health and feel better physically and emotionally.  Remember, when you don't feel well, it doesn't matter what kind of car you drive, where you live, or where you go on vacation.  If your health is poor, you won't want to drive or go on vacation, no matter how much money you have.

The bottom line is that money cannot buy health.  But if you feel good, you'll have the stamina to reach for the stars.  You'll be able to do your job efficiently, keep up with your kids, and still have enough left over to enjoy an evening out.  You really have a lot more control than you might think.  I encourage you to take responsibility for your own good mood, good health, and great attitude.  These are things you can control right now.  If you choose to be less affected and more effective, being physically fit can make all the difference in the world.

Start right now.  The smallest change, even though you think it won't make a difference, really will matter.  The results may not initially be obvious on the outside, but on the inside, dramatic changes are occurring.  From calming your mind to losing a few unwanted pounds, a few small changes in diet, exercise, and attitude can have a significant effect on your self-esteem and vitality.  Congratulate yourself for taking that first step, precisely what you need right now to stay motivated and inspired along your path toward optimum health.

Bassett shows readers how to go from fearful to focused; how to alleviate insecurity and feel confident about the future; and how to transform depression and anxiety into hope, happiness, and peace of mind with a positive action plan that turns every challenge into an opportunity, and even helps relieve stress-induced exhaustion and poor health; even if you can't change what's happening around you, you CAN change what's happening inside of you.


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Spirit to Spirit
David Thomas


Here's something to ponder:  imagine yourself as a being that is free and full of potential, that can go anywhere it wants and do anything it wants, allowing itself to be put into a body that limits this being to experiencing life from an extremely narrow perspective and keeps it in one place at a time, though it can move about a bit.  Its vision is limited, its hearing is limited, its movement is limited, its memory is limited.  And this unlimited being has put itself into this body--has sacrificed all of its potential for a certain amount of time--in order to learn lessons about love and giving and letting go and being at peace.

Well, you can stop imagining.  That being is you.  And that person next to you?  That's another being who has done the same thing.  The "jerk" who cut you off in traffic this morning?  Yep--him, too.

And I congratulate you--you've come a long way!  Since we got here on this planet, we've all had to try to learn the best we can, given the extremely limited nature of the human body, how to love one another and love ourselves and love life.  And we've all done a pretty good job.  Few of us have come close to our potential, but that's more a reflection of the limits of the human body and mind than it is of who we are as eternal, spiritual beings.

Think about it--what better way is there to learn than to put ourselves in situations in which we have many, many obstacles to overcome?  If you knew that you had to learn as much as you can in a very short period of time, would you put yourself in a situation of privilege and plenty, or would you put yourself in a situation of need and deprivation?  The experiences that we're going through as humans are experiences that are teaching us things that we need to learn, and that we've readily committed ourselves to learn.

And it's easy for us to get down on ourselves for not being "perfect" people.  It's easy for us to berate ourselves for our mistakes in life.  But those mistakes are the things that are helping us to learn more and to learn more quickly.

I think that some spirits have come here and have been overwhelmed by the experience, and they haven't been able to overcome the many fears that come with being human.  They've allowed themselves to get caught up in and overwhelmed by those fears, and that has caused them to live very limited lives, lives of no risk and little growth--and they may have to come back for another go-round or two.  Others have mastered the experience and have grown immensely, and they're going to move on from here to new experiences and new learning in completely different contexts.

But you?  You've done a good job to get where you are, and congratulations are in order.  You still have tons to learn--we all do, every day.  I would encourage you to take those risks and to trust in the higher power that exists within us all (where is the Kingdom of Heaven?) so that you can continue to grow and learn and develop.  And so that you can continue to spread love and peace and encouragement to others, for that's what this experience is all about.  It simply can't be about anything else, can it?

It's easy for us to fall into the trap of saying, "I congratulate the spirit within you."  But that's not accurate.  You are spirit, and for a rather short period of time you're existing in a human body.  But this body does not define you--it limits you, and that's okay--those limitations are helping us to learn.  Your challenge is to be you, the spirit you, and be the best you that you possibly can be.

When you live as a spirit, there are so many things that you cannot do, such as hurt other people and hurt yourself.  But I think that's a topic for next time. . . .


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We need changes from the duties and the cares of our accustomed everyday life.
They are necessary for healthy, normal living.  We need occasionally to be away
from our friends, our relatives, from the members of our immediate households.
Such changes are good for us; they are good for them.  We appreciate them
better, they us, when we are away from them for a period, or they us.

Ralph Waldo Trine



Strategies for Dealing with Adversity

I'm an expert at getting through adversity, mostly because my life--just like yours--has been filled with it.  Now, I don't say that I'm an expert at getting through it well, though I continue to work my way towards that goal.  I'm an expert at getting through it, and the mere fact that I'm still here demonstrates that fact quite well.  Now, the ways that I've gotten through my adverse situations are probably different than the ways that other people would have used, but that has more to do with the fact that I was taught no positive coping skills at all while I was growing up.  So sometimes my ways of dealing with adversity might have been negative or even counter-productive, but nonetheless, they've gotten me to the place where I am today.

How do we deal effectively with adversity?  The most obvious and accurate answer to that question is simple:  It depends.  We face so many adverse situations that it's really impossible to share a strategy that works for all of them.  Adversity can include the death of a loved one or a challenge at work that seems insurmountable to getting laid off to having an argument with a child.  But there are certain things that we can do consistently that can help us to deal in positive ways with things that happen in our lives.  And if we can use these strategies effectively, we might find that adversity actually becomes a friend, something that helps us learn and grow and become better, stronger people who are more willing and able to help others when we can.


It is true that people are sometimes hit by adversities beyond their
control.  But those so affected are better helped when they are
awakened to the resources they do possess than when they
are told they don't have any.

Nathaniel Branden
Self-Esteem Every Day

The first thing that I would recommend is to back off--as soon as you can-- from your initial response to an adverse situation and try to get a bigger picture of what's going on.  Our first responses are usually knee-jerk reactions that aren't very positive at all--they're a response of our fears taking immediate control and causing us to have a strong emotional reaction.  And the stronger the emotions, the more difficult it is to take effective action to make a situation better.

For example, when I got laid off (along with 13 others) from a school where I was teaching, the easy emotional response would have been anger and/or despair.  However, I had learned enough by then that I realized that such a situation is far from the end of the world, and that in fact, it might just be life pushing me in a different direction that I wouldn't have gone in otherwise.  The layoff gave me the impetus I needed to start looking for work elsewhere, to examine my wants and needs when deciding what kind of work I really wanted to do.  When at another school hours were cut for everyone because of declining enrollment, I used the time that resulted to finish another book that I had been working on for quite a while.  Many opportunities come gift-wrapped in adversity, and it's up to us to look for them if we don't want the situation to overwhelm us.

It also helps me immensely to remember that many, many people have faced the same struggles that come up in my life, and they've ended up fine, even stronger than before.  I try to get advice from people who have been there, who have experienced similar problems.  When I do this, I remind myself that situations don't make us who we are--our responses to those situations help to craft the person that we're becoming.

Adversity is like the period of the rain. . . cold, comfortless, unfriendly
to people and to animals; yet from that season have their birth the flower,
the fruit, the date, the rose and the pomegranate.

Walter Scott

The second thing that I would recommend is to immediately start planning your recovery from the adverse situations.  These plans won't be written in stone, of course, but they will help you to process the situation and your reactions to it.  For example, if you do get laid off, sit down and write where you want to be in one year--where you want to be working, what kind of job you want to be doing, what you want to be earning.  And then perhaps you can write down several concrete steps that you can take to get there--including one or two almost immediate steps (start buying the newspaper to get the classified ads; start looking into training programs that will qualify you for a higher-paying job) that you can do now to help to stop you from sliding into victim mode, one of the most destructive ways of looking at yourself that there is.

Once you do have a tentative plan in place, start working on it.  When I got laid off, I had job applications out within a week.  I was looking every day for new opportunities in different places.  And I felt good because I wasn't just sitting there complaining or whining--I was actively searching out viable options that would allow me to recover from the blow we had suffered.  It ended up taking quite a bit longer than I thought it would to find my next teaching job, but because I was working actively, it wasn't nearly as difficult to make it through that time as it could have been.

Ask others for help.  We live in a world filled with other people, and most of them are more than willing to share their expertise and knowledge with us as often and as much as they can.  They just need to be asked.  I don't know how many times I've heard people tell others, "I didn't know you needed this."  We go through life often thinking that we need to be independent and that we need to do everything for ourselves, but few things could be further from the truth.  Take advantage of the communities of which you are a part, and make sure that others know that you're going through adverse times--and don't hesitate to ask for help.

Be patient.  It may take a while before you recover from the adverse situation.  Of course, this is one of those things that's much easier to say than to do, but it isn't impossible to practice patience when you're going through difficulties.  I always remind myself that things happen "in God's time," not in mine, and that trying to hurry things very often can seriously sabotage our chances of coming out of adversity well.  Sometimes we may be tempted to make decisions based more on desperation than on logic and instinct, and when that happens, the chances are not good that the decisions are the best thing for us.

I have always grown from my problems and challenges,
from the things that don't work out.  That's when I've really learned.

Carol Burnett

Look for the silver lining(s).  Again, this is easier to say than to do, but this can be one of the most valuable exercises you ever do.  How are you growing during this adverse situation?  What are you learning about yourself and other people and about life in general?  What kinds of changes have happened in your life for the better because of the current situation?  What kinds of future possibilities have opened up that weren't there before?  Which friends have surprised you with their dedication and steadfastness?  There are silver linings to almost every situation, yet our nature seems to be to focus on the negatives.  Looking for the positives--no matter how small or insignificant they may seem--can help us to see that very few situations are almost all bad.

You will go through adversity.  That's the way of the world.  How you make it through, though, is completely up to you--and can determine if the adversity becomes an important part of your life or just something else you went through.  When adversity strikes, give yourself a chance to learn and to grow from it, and you'll soon find that you tend to rename the adverse times in your life.  Instead of calling them problems and terrible times, you'll be prone to calling them challenges and interesting times.

More on adversity.


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I've never met a person, I don't care what his or her condition, in whom I could not see possibilities. I don't care how much people may consider themselves failures, I believe in them, for they can change the thing that is wrong in their lives anytime they are prepared and ready to do it.  Whenever they develop the desire, they can take away from their lives the things that are defeating them. The capacity for reformation and change lies within.

Preston Bradley

Love One Another
excerpt from Straight from the Heart
John Bertolucci

"This is my commandment:  love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

This is surely one of the most powerful and most challenging lines in all of scripture.  Note that Jesus does not say, "This is my suggestion."  He does not say, "This is my recommendation."  He does not say, "Here's a pointer that I think will help you out."  He says, "This is my commandment:  love one another."

And he goes on to spell out just what kind of love he's talking about.  He's not talking about the kind of love you see in the movies or on the soap operas.  He's talking about the kind of love he showed when he stretched out his arms on the cross and gave his life.  "Love one another as I have loved you."

Love one another.  Care for one another.  Affirm one another.  Speak well of one another.  Avoid negative humor -- humor at the expense of someone else.  Avoid sarcasm.  Avoid "put-downs."

When you wake up each morning, say to yourself, "I'm going to be a person who speaks love, affirmation, and praise.  I'm going to build others up, not tear them down.  In this cold, impersonal world, I'm going to dare to be different.  I'm going to be someone who loves."

There is tremendous power in this kind of love.  There is unspeakable joy in loving others, and in being loved by others, with this kind of love.

When I remember that the primary purpose of life is to feel and appreciate
the presence of God, to live from a state of love and compassion, and to be
of service to others, then instantly, like magic, I begin to feel at peace.

Richard Carlson


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