Friday, December 14, 2018

Kindness rocks!

So many people talk these days about having a "Super Power" of one type or another. It might be Invisibility. Or Superhuman Strength. Healing. Superhuman Endurance. There are so many. But we often forget that each one of us has an amazing Super Power that is so simple to employ.

Think of the power you have at your disposal by just uttering a few words—knowing that ONE KIND WORD CAN CHANGE SOMEONE'S ENTIRE DAY.

Isn't that absolutely incredible? That's a lot of power.

I'm sure you've experienced that from both sides of the coin—when someone has said something kind to you at a time when you really needed to hear it and the times when you said something to another person and noticed how they lit up and stood taller!

Look around you right now. Who could use a kind word today? Perhaps it's someone at a distance whose face you won't see light up but whom you know really needs to hear he or she is heard, accepted and loved. Or perhaps it's someone who resides in your house. Or sits at a desk near yours.

It's so easy, really. And it seems like the best Super Power of all!

Go ahead. What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Be still and be ready

Last week in my women's Bible study group, we talked about the role of the manger in the Christmas story. I had included a short poem in my December ezine, which had just been distributed the day before my group met. So we read that poem (by poet Barbara S. Germiat) in class. Here it is:

How to be a Manger

Be empty.
Be sturdy.
Be soft on the inside.
Be still.
Be ready.

After we read it, someone suggested that, in the week until our next class, we find ways to "be a manger." What a fascinating assignment.

Already, I have found opportunities to listen to others as they share a painful story, a source of ongoing frustration, or a story of loss. I practiced being empty—just listening and being present as witness to someone else's life. It's been a reminder to me that most times when people share, they don't want or need advice. They need to be heard and validated. They need to be accepted and loved. They need us to "be a manger." Empty, still and ready.

Is this something you'd like to take on this season, too?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Traditions to keep

Do you have some seasonal traditions that are on your A-list for the holidays? Several people I know are cutting back on the activities during the holidays because life can become so stressful at this time of year.

Some things bring so much joy and pleasure that you wouldn't possibly consider cutting them from your calendar, however. For me, one of those activities is a women's night out sponsored by a local megachurch. This isn't a church I would consider attending regularly. But I have to say they put on the most wonderful evening of food, Christmas music and inspiration for women. The evening begins with serving tables scattered throughout the large space laden with cheeses, crackers, Christmas cookies and a huge variety of goodies. In addition the men of the church wander through the crowd bearing trays of goodies from which we can select. All while we enjoy the lovely food options, live Christmas music is being played. So we wander through the building, stopping at food stations or selecting from trays carried by the male church members, talking, enjoying music and also shopping in their gift shop.

In addition there are a few opportunities to have photos taken in Christmasey settings. So we have photo memories to keep. Then later in the evening, the nearly 2,000 women who attend find seats in the huge worship space and after singing a few carols, hear an inspirational speaker. What a powerful evening!

A dear friend and I have attended this event for the past seven years and both agree that this is a fantastic way to launch Advent and the Christmas season. When I think of the things I might cut from my to-do list, this is never one of them!

What traditions are keepers for you?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Live a life of gratitude

A Vietnamese proverb goes like this: "When eating fruit, remember who planted the tree. When drinking water, remember who dug the well."

That tells me that a life of gratitude is one of being awake and aware. I don't want to sleepwalk through my life, taking for granted all the good things that come my way. Someone is responsible for even the most ordinary things that we use and enjoy daily. Someone planted the tree or dug the well. Someone set in motion the machinery that brought this or that into your life.

It might be interesting to be more intentional and watchful for at least one day: Give thought throughout the day to as many things as possible. What or who made it possible for you to enjoy this? Just for an example, at one of your mealtimes, think of all the people it took for that food to be on your plate: the grower, the harvester, the trucker, the grocer, the cook and so many more. Take time to be grateful.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

'This too shall pass'

Best-selling author Joey Green once said, "When you experience joy, remembering that 'This too shall pass' helps you savor the here and now. When you experience pain and sorrow, remembering that 'This too shall pass' reminds you that grief, like joy, is only temporary."

This makes so much sense and is good to remember. But when we're knee-deep in grief, it's tough to keep in mind the temporary nature of things. Even when we're up to our eyeballs in joy, we may not take the time to truly savor the feeling. It's easy to forget that it won't last forever.

At this time of year, when many people feel the joy and wonder of the season, others are feeling the pain of it all. They feel alone, depressed, afraid—and the joy of others only makes them more depressed.

What's really important for us all is to be aware of what those around us are feeling. We ought not assume that everyone shares the emotions we feel. Once we notice, we can respond appropriately. This is a good time to be gentle with ourselves and others. It's a good time to practice compassion and self-compassion.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Deep breaths!

Following on Friday's post about the Danish concept of "hygge," let's talk about how to pull back from the edge when you get all wound up in busyness this season. Or when that crazy driver beside you pulls in front of you with inches to spare. Or the shopper cuts in front of you and a long line of others at the checkout. Because this can be such a busy and frantic time of year for so many, our tempers can fray and we can be on edge.

You can choose to get angry and all worked up at any of these things. Or you can take several deep breaths—and take a longer view, deciding whether the adrenaline rush is going to be worth it. In the case of the shopper cutting in, you might decide to quietly point out where the line is forming (giving the shopper the benefit of the doubt). The whole point is: You have choices.

Do whatever will make your heart feel good. And whatever will add to your peace and the peace of others this season. It's all about choices and well-being.