Jean Anne Costa
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Reach Your Full Potential

Affirmation:  I encourage my loved ones to reach their full potential.

This week I am sharing what my husband of many years wrote about his 2012 experience at the JCC Folk School.  I am so excited to know he has decided to use his hands more often to get in touch with his creative self.  I usually have a whole list of things for him on the weekends, all of which involve some sort of “hands on” activity.   I can’t wait to tell him my affirmation and encourage him to reach his full potential.  I know he’ll be so excited!

“Look at what I made!” The Hand Teaches the Mind Many Useful Things

Last week I made the wooden bowl pictured here. Crafting this bowl is one of my most satisfying accomplishments in quite some time. It’s also a surprise that I could actually do it, adding to the pleasure and humor of the thing. At this point you may be saying to yourself, “This poor guy has lived a pretty shallow, uninteresting life.” But hear me out. The point is that I made the bowl with my hands.
Jean Anne and I have just returned from our annual pilgrimage to the John C. Campbell Folk School, at Brasstown, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, far from the city. The school is one of the most creative learning centers in the country. Based on the Danish folk school model, it was founded in 1925 by John Campbell’s wife, Olive. Today it provides year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography, and writing. As the school’s literature says, students’ experiences “in non-competitive learning and community life are joyful and enlivening”–exactly what we needed!
Folk schools are non-competitive, allowing students to learn at their own rate. As the website explains, “The folkehojskole (folk school) had long been a force in the rural life of Denmark. These schools-for-life helped transform [the people of] the Danish countryside into a vibrant, creative force. The Campbells . . . establish[ed] such a school in the rural southern United States as an alternative to the higher-education facilities that drew young people away from the family farm.”
This year I took a course in wood turning. I was taught by two highly skilled instructors how to carve a bowl out of a quartered log, a piece of wood in all ways similar to countless pieces of fuel I feed to our wood-burning stove with nary a thought. Another thing that was so remarkable is that at first I couldn’t imagine where the bowl “resided in” the piece of wood. Slowly, by starting out on the project though feeling I was working somewhat in the dark, I learned to see. And I recalled that after Michelangelo had completed his “David,” he was asked to explain how he’d taken a raw block of marble and carved the elegant yet strong figure of the young man. “He was in there,” the sculptor replied. “As I carved the marble away, piece by piece, I simply set him free—and there he stands.”
I chuckled to myself at that thought, knowing my 3-D imaginative gifts were far from the Italian master’s. But as I worked on the lathe, learning patience and focus, slowly finding the bowl’s best nature and adapting my hand and eye to what in nature that might be, I found myself becoming engrossed in the activity. I was soon completely caught in the moment. And I started to see, too, how therapeutic it is to work with your hands, bringing your own hands and eyes, your own energy into harmony with nature’s energy.

There is a frequent match play—a verbal game, where we fence about unanswerable, and in most cases highly impractical, questions—“What is more difficult, more trying, to work with your hands or be making a living in a manner that is less physical, more brainy?” My answer is who cares? Particularly because there is a cultural elitism that believes folks who work with their hands are a notch below cerebral wage-earners. Rather, I suggest that a more rewarding exploration would be to reflect on which type of work is more nurturing? And, following on that, how can we make the other type of work, the head-centered kind, more nurturing too?
Understand that I am not suggesting that we slide out of our current vocations and apprentice to a blacksmith or a cobbler or a wheelwright. What I am suggesting is that instead of relying on the latest self-help book to right a teetering psyche via reading the book, a mental activity, let’s think about making a quilt or binding a book—really! When Charles Darwin was worrying over a difficult issue, he would go into his garden and weed the flower beds. Winston Churchill built stone fences when his decisions and responsibilities were weighing too heavily. Surely you know countless individuals who have been eager to retire into a more intensive study and practice of their favorite hobby, often one that caused them to create things with their eyes and hands in concert.
The fact is that working with our hands is one of the most powerful forms of meditation I can imagine. When you turn wood as it spins on the lathe and your cutting tool unearths the layers of cellulose fibers, you see a constantly changing symphony of rings. Colors appear against a background as you discover embedded knots and imperfections. Can you imagine a more magical way to employ your hands and your mind! And all of this benefit is without even mentioning the obvious: at the end of the project, you have made something new, something fine that wasn’t there before; and since you are now an artisan, not an artist, the new creation is beautiful and useful.
Because of my experience at the folk school, I’ve come to see that the best way to flourish at your thought-work daily is to make sure you take time daily, or perhaps for a good part of the weekend, to work with your hands. If your business has a mission of understanding more closely the world or some aspect thereof while improving the lives of others—and whose does not?—then work toward completing that mission by sculpting, building, making something every week. Here’s why: J. Bronowski, in his 1973 book The Ascent of Man, writes that “Discovery is a double relation of analysis and synthesis together. As an analysis, it probes for what is there; but then, as a synthesis, it puts the parts together in a form by which the creative mind transcends the bare limits, the bare skeleton, that nature provides. . . . Thus, we have to understand that the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation” or intellectual problem-solving at our desks or in conference. “The hand is more important than the eye,” Bronowski concludes.

As I turned the lathe and carved my bowl last week, I was practicing bringing together analysis and synthesis of sensed data—wood, carving tool, force, motion, my hand in time—to make and do something—learning a practice that will help me to do a better and healthier job daily in what some people call my real work. But now I know that there’s more to preparing for that work than I thought. Plus, Jean Anne and I have a light-filled wooden bowl to use in our house.

May All Your Dreams Come True

Affirmation:  By pursuing my dreams, I help to make the world a better place. 
The newspaper article was about an organization called Wish of a Lifetime.  It explained it isn’t the only organization of its type.  There is also The Twilight Wish Foundation, The Bucket List foundation, Forever Young Senior Wish Organization and S.H.O.W. (Seniors Having One Wish.)  They all have the same goal; to grant a wish to an elderly person who is in desperate need of a morale booster.  The article’s photo was of centenarian Miriam Krause.  She was shown in the basket of a hot air balloon.  She had requested a ride for her 100th birthday.
 
 How do you feel about seeing dreams come true?  One of my prayers for my children is for “true dreams.”  My husband’s philosophy regarding a parent’s happiness is, “On any given day most parents are as happy as their unhappiest child.”  When he first shared this with me our children were teenagers.  Now, they are adults and that philosophy is as true today as it was then.  Therefore, it is my best interest to pray that their dreams come true.  Now, I have added my grandchildren.  Actually, my daily prayers request God’s “favor and blessings” on everyone I pray for, those I pray for by name and those in the world “who most need Your mercy.” 
Do you have a bucket list?  In case you need help putting one together there are all sorts of web sites that have lists on them to help you along.  One such site is Bucketlist.org.  It actually offers “10,000 things to do before you die.”  The first time I became familiar with the term, Bucket List, was from the 2007 movie by the same name starting Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman.  As of this writing, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are still going strong and I would imagine there isn’t much on which they have missed out. 
I was surprised that it’s fairly common for teenagers to have bucket lists.  My granddaughter has one.  So far, I think the fun for her is discovering those things she wants to add to the list.  Certainly, I hope she has as long as Jack or Morgan to work on checking off her dreams. 

Our dream list can be very different at different times, just like our prayer list.  In times of peace, our dreams can be very specific, like a new house or a vacation or perhaps time to enjoy our favorite activity.  When my husband and I went on a tour of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville we were paired with another couple.  The Ryman is the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.  As we were escorted into Johnny Cash’s dressing room, I noticed the gentleman on the tour with us became very quiet.  He almost looked like he couldn’t catch his breath.  I looked at him with concern when his wife spoke, “This is his dream come true.  He has always wanted to see the Ryman and where Johnny Cash had his dressing room.”  I loved being in this place with this man when he realized one of his dreams. 

In times of strife, our dream list can be more universal.  Our dream may be for a world filled with peace, good health and safety for all.  For me, the greatest dreams are those that will improve the world’s conditions.  Of course, one cannot deny that when an individual makes his or her dream come true, the world does become a better place.  But, when I see and read about those people who dream really really big and bring them into reality, I am awed.  In the same newspaper issue that had the Wish of a Lifetime story, there was also a story about Hunger in the USA.  It highlighted several organizations that glean food. “Volunteers descend on farm fields and reclaim some of the estimated 7 billion pounds of fresh produce left in the fields or sent to landfills each year, recovering it for the plates of millions who can’t afford it,” according to Chuck Raasch of USA Today.  Many of the volunteers are school aged children.  Gleaning is not something new.  It was practiced as far back as biblical times.  I like to imagine, however, that the modern creation of gleaning was someone’s dream.  They saw the waste and decided to gather it up to feed the hungry. 
My church, Saint Michael the Archangel in Cary has a sister parish in Honduras.  Each year we contribute to the needs of the people in that parish.  We provide books and clothing for children, build buildings, provide medicine and the ability to acquire clean water.  A team of parishioners travel there each year to do whatever they can for the sister-parish.  My daughter in law, Belen Baca Costa and her family have an organization that raises money for the poor of Ecuador so the children will have presents at Christmas time and those families, therefore, won’t be forced to beg on the streets (http://hotelcotopaxiecuador.com/NoBeggingProject/tabid/333/Default.aspx)  When I was at the John C Campbell Folk School, my teacher, Patricia Sprinkle, author and creative writing teacher, shared the story of her journey to India to teach creative writing to the “untouchables” and of her work in the Church of the Brethren with whom she had recently led a group to help children in Louisiana after hurricane Isaac.   Thank God, these are just a tiny example of the good people who are doing by pursuing their dreams.
Of course, one need not look to or go to a foreign country to make a positive difference.  Every day people walk out their front doors and head off to help others.  Our volunteers can be found in hospitals, homeless shelters, food banks and schools to name just a few.  I myself had the dream of creating a yoga retreat for breast cancer survivors and from that dream came the Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat (.org)
Organizations that are born from the dream of someone who wants to make a difference in our world must also be part of God’s dream.  End abuse, cure cancer, bring solace to suffering, food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless; the dreams of a higher order and each individual who steps out to add to the comfort, to bring “favor and blessings” to another are part of the vision our world so desperately needs. 
There are so many dreamers in our world.  What’s one of yours?  So many dreamers have made their dreams reality.  Whether it’s a trip to a far away place, a new charitable endeavor or a ride in a balloon, it’s important to pursue our dreams. Yes, each time a dream comes true, the world becomes a brighter place and isn’t that exactly what the world needs, more joy and more light?

Put on Your Glasses, Change Your Vision

Affirmation: I am a lifelong learner.

Our vision is a gift, one of our most valued senses.  How we see the world colors our whole attitude.  Have you ever heard “It’s 10% aptitude and 90% attitude?”   What about the difference between an optimist and a pessimist?  “A pessimist is right 100% of the time.”  We get to choose moment to moment whether or not we will see the glass half full or not.  What if we could simply put on a different set of specs to help us change our perspective?

There are people who want to expand their view of the world and then there are those who want to stay in their safe places.  Unfortunately, it’s easier to stay “safe”  especially as one ages.  If you’re not careful, your world can become smaller and smaller.  You may start making choices to stay safe which begin to limit your experiences.  One must make a conscious choice to continue to learn and to grow.  I once heard it said,  “You can be green and growing or ripe and rotten.”  It’s our decision.

It’s helpful to be able to see when we want to move forward.  Sometimes, however, it’s more important to look back, to see where you’ve been and what you’ve learned from the road previously taken.  No matter in what direction we are looking, or from what vantage point, high or low, we can use our vision to enhance our experiences. A top ten Toastmasters speaker used the topic “The Click that Sticks” to talk about his life experiences and how instead of trying to capture everything on a camera lens, he chose to imagine his eyes being the camera and recording the event onto his brain, making it “the click that sticks.”

I wonder if people’s height has anything to do with how they see the world?  I know I love being up high.  I love it when I have the opportunity to look at the world from a plane, a mountain or a even a hill. I’m 5 feet tall, so usually my vantage point is upward.  One day many years ago at a NCAA basketball tournament I left my seat during intermission to find a pay phone (many,many years ago) and call home.  The sign for the phone was several yards up ahead at the end of this very long line. My view was so limited that I could barely see the top of the sign because of all the tall men in front of it.   I was surprised so many people needed to use the phone, until I got closer.  I was in line for the men’s room.  My vision had been so limited, I waisted time waiting on the wrong line.

At some point in our lives most of us find ourselves wearing glasses to help us see.  Some need glasses at an early age, others not until they are older.   There are many different types of eye conditions that require some help to allow people to see clearly.  Sadly, for some glasses can’t help at all, they are blind. 

Have you ever been in complete darkness, no little LED lIghts anywhere, no moonlight, nothing but blackness?  I once participated in a smoke lodge ritual.  The rocks were heated for several hours before they were placed in the center of the makeshift tent.  Once the inside of the lodge they reached a sauna like temperature, then we were invited into the session.  The heat enveloped us and began to immediately sooth any aching muscles.  Then, they closed the flap.  I couldn’t breathe!  Suddenly, the heat felt like I was being wrapped in a heavy flannel blanket, from head to toe.  “Deep breath!”  “Deep Breath!” I told myself.  Then I noticed there was a tiny bit of light seeping in under the edge of the flap.  I was saved!  I found my breath. 

Helen Keller was blind from birth.  Not only blind, but also deaf.  Her story so well know as The Miracle Worker tells the tale of a young girl completely isolated from society because of her disabilities.  But, with the help of a gifted and dedicated teacher, Anne Sullivan, she became a world renown author, political activists and lecturer.  She was the first deaf-blind person (man or woman) to earn a Bachelors of Art degree.  She had “vision” even though she did not have sight. 

One of my efforts to stay green involved going to a writing workshop at the John C Campbell Folk School.  There Patricia Sprinkle, our teacher and gifted author asked us to write a description of a familiar place.  Seven students sat in the cozy “writing lab” overlooking the green meadows and tree covered mountains.  It was the beginning of fall and the trees had just begun their colorful metamorphosis.  We all wrote about some place we knew well and then we shared our stories.  But, we had left things out, things like the doors and the windows of our familiar places, things that we saw all the time but had stopped noticing.  Patricia suggested we put on our “writer’s glasses” to enable us to see things in a new light.

One of my study groups in my church is working on how we can improve our relationship with God.  The lady who does the DVD lecture told a story about wearing her “blessings from God” glasses.  She said she imagined them to be rose tinted and enabled her to more easily see the gifts God bestowed on her on a daily basis.  Now, our writing instructor was telling me to put on “my writing glasses” to enable me to see the world differently than I was use to seeing it, to help me see it from more than one vantage point or to renew that which had become familiar to me. 

I like the idea of putting on different lenses to see different things in my life not only more clearly, but differently.  Perhaps, that’s what it was like for Helen Keller.  Even though she couldn’t see and she couldn’t hear, she put on the “glasses” that Anne Sullivan created for her and she was able to see the world in so many different ways, perhaps more clearly than many of us sighted people. 

Shakespeare wrote “The eyes are the windows to the soul.”  What happens to our souls when we put on different glasses?  Anything?  Does it expand and grow?  Does it change color, become kinder, warmer?  Does our expanded vision bring us closer to our spiritual self, to our God?  The answer is, it’s up to you.  You get to choose what you want to see and how you expect it to impact your life.  My newest pair of glasses to don are my “writer’s glasses” and I’m very curious to see what my new “glasses”, my new vision will reveal to me.  What about you?  Is there anything you’re interested in seeing from a different perspective?  It doesn’t have to be a new subject for which you might need different glasses, perhaps it’s a relationship or it might be a philosophical perspective.  Put on your new glasses, change your vision, broaden your horizons.  It may just be the tool you too need to see your dreams or concerns in a whole new way.

Time is My Friend

Affirmation:
Time is my friend. 

Many
years ago, while I was waiting in a shop for service, there was also an older
gentleman waiting.  When the time came for the next customer, he motioned
for me to go ahead of him.  I protested, even though I was in a
hurry.  He insisted.  Then he said to me, “Time is my friend.” 
This was my first affirmation and I have been writing it, reading it and saying
it to myself ever since I began practicing positive affirmations.  I must
say, it is one of my most challenging. 

I
try to live in “divine time,” as my dear friend and healer, Valerie
Kelly, called it.  Divine time is where I simply go through my day knowing
that everything will simply fall into place, not worrying about when I leave,
when I arrive or if I’m late or early, but that’s a very rare event.  Most
of the time, I am struggling with getting it all in.  I want more
time!  I believe Valerie’s healing touch began before I ever arrived for
my appointment.  My appointment was
usually sometime around 2:30 in the afternoon. 
Many times, I arrived and Valerie wasn’t ready to see me.  At first, I was annoyed.  This was just not how things are done in my
world.  You choose a time and a place and
then you arrive at that agreed time or close to it.  Truly, I have been in knots most of my life
trying to be on time.  I usually begin
getting tense just knowing I have a destination to which I am supposed to
arrive at a particular time long before I’ve even begun the journey. 
 
But, Valerie didn’t get it.  She lived in her own space.  She began her massage sessions when she was
ready and she never ended them until she felt you were complete, not when the
clock reached a certain point.  As the
years went on I found myself responding to her sense of time.  If I was going to be late, I wasn’t the least
bit worried.  I’d usually text her and
tell her when I thought I’d arrive and she’d let me know, without fail, that
that was just fine.  If I was early,
she’d sit me in her lovely living room and let me just rest or we’d chat while
she finished lunch or settled the dog down. 
I know she had clients that couldn’t adjust to this approach but I so
valued her healing skills that I decided to make it work.  For me, I was so relaxed when I arrived that
my body was completely receptive to her gifts. 
And, one of her gifts to me was the gift of my not having to watch the
clock and in return, my gift to her was accepting her exactly the way she was;
a radiant being who wouldn’t let the world confine her.

As
I get older, I am finding time goes faster and faster.  Have you had that
experience?  As I write this, it is the fall of the year and I can’t
imagine where the year has gone.  I heard a poem once:  I woke up,
turned my head and when I looked back, it was 30 years later.  After sharing
this with a friend, she added, “or 40 or 50!” 
There’s a very old movie called “Stop the World I Want to Get Off.”  That’s how I feel most days.  I want time to stop.  I want to savor each and every moment.  I want more time, today and forever. 

I
have another friend who lost her daughter and her husband to cancer.  One
day she told me she knew we all had to die; she just didn’t expect life to go
so fast.  We cried!  How do you make peace with that?  I know
time is a manmade tool.  I know there are all kinds of theories about how
it doesn’t really exist; that it’s supposed to be more like a layer cake, one
field lying over another.  I use to tell people “Time is not my
friend.” 
 
I read once, where a man from a tribe in a foreign land
told an American: “You have so many watches, but no time.  We have no
watches, but plenty of time.”  That’s how I want to feel, like I
always have plenty of time.  I want to treasure each moment.  I don’t
want to worry and rush about.  I don’t want to think about tomorrow, when I
haven’t even gotten out of bed, today.  I hope that by believing time is
my friend, life will be easier, richer, and more joyful. 
 
How do you make
peace with time?  Can part of it be believing this life is not going to
end; we will live on in another dimension, maybe one of those layers the
physicists write about.  In the mediation book “God Calling“ the opening
reading is about how God only designs humans to live one day at a time.  I wonder if God didn’t design us to live one
moment at a time?  Ah, there it is again,
the call to meditate.  The call to stay
connected to exactly what is happening right now, not planning for the future
or ruminating on the past. 

Sharon
Salzberg, one of the founders of the Insight Meditation Center in Barry, Mass.,
tells the story about an intense training session she once underwent with a
mediation master.  She was to report to
him daily about her mediation practice. 
She said the first time she showed up with her notes, he didn’t’ let her
speak before he asked her “Did you brush your teeth today?”  “Yes,” she replied.  “Did you pay attention to the
experience?”  She had not.  The next time she arrived he again spoke
before she could begin to share all her insights she’d learned during her
meditation session.  “Did you walk here
today?”  “Yes”, she answered.  “Did you pay attention to the
experience?” 

Perhaps
that is part of the secret; paying attention, not rushing about, not being
pre-occupied with the business, many times the trivia, of life.  My dear friend Valerie knew this and she
gifted me with her concept of life, time and love.  It’s a good thing she knew how to stay in the
moment and live each day to the fullest because she lost her life at the age of
53.  I have many emotions attached to her
memory, but one that makes me smile is thinking about my arrival at her home
for my appointment; calm, centered and knowing that whatever time I arrived was
the perfect time.  What about you? 
Is time your friend or your enemy?  May
you too discover the gift of living (at least occasionally) in divine
time.  May you discover the gift of
joyfully living in perfect time. 

Financial Prosperity

Affirmation: We attract financial prosperity.



Money! I’m fairly thrifty on most things. But, I don’t like to feel like I have to be thrifty. I like to choose to be thrifty. Can you see the difference? It reminds me of some diets I’ve been on. As soon as I felt I was denying myself of some specific food, I wanted it more. I belong to Weight Watchers Online and I am fascinated by the amount of food I can eat and also that I can eat anything I want, within a reasonable amount. It seems to be working for me. It’s the same with money, I don’t mind watching my pennies, I just want to do it because I have a responsibility to be financially aware and prudent not because we are in dire straits. Maybe an ounce of prevention will help to keep us from being in real financial difficulties, maybe.

The affirmation: We attract financial prosperity is one of the few affirmations in which I include my husband. Our finances are totally interwoven. I guess that’s fairly normal after more than 40 years of marriage. I remember the first time I told him about this affirmation. I told him it was: “I attract financial prosperity.” We were in church. He was pretty skeptical. Then the donation basket was passed and I asked him for some additional cash to put in it. Being the great guy he is, he immediately handed me more money. “See”, I said, “I do attract financial prosperity!” He smiled and just shook his head.



The topic of money is a very touchy topic. Think about it, almost any topic seems to be fodder for the media, especially the talk shows. We all seem to know more about people, especially the “stars” than we ever wanted to know. But, seldom is money, especially someone’s income an open topic. Do you know how much money any of your friends or relatives make? Probably not. It’s the final taboo. It’s also the number one reason for people to divorce. Many couples come into a relationship with completely opposite ideas about finances. One wants to “save for a rainy day” and another wants to “enjoy the moment.” Finding a happy medium appears to be a real stumbling block for many marriages.

My study group, The Seekers, read the book Second Blooming for Women. One of the topics has led to a lot of discussion both within and outside the group. The statement is, “If money were no object ________.” How would you fill that in? I love asking people this question.

My husband has a story about being in speech class in college. He decided to speak about the song “If I Ruled the World.” To gather information, he went around asking people what they would do if they ruled the world. One person he asked was a young co-worker. He was the delivery fellow at their local pharmacy. This young man gave the question a great deal of thought and finally shared, “I would have someone set me up in business.” Sandy, my hubby, said, “I don’t think you get it. You RULE the whole world.” The young man again gave it quite a bit of thought and what do you think he answered? “Yup, if I ruled the world, I’d have someone set me up in business. That’s what I’d do.”

When I was first confronted with the fill in the blank about money, I must admit my vision was limited. Not as much as the delivery guy but more than I like to admit. Then, after speaking with my group, I found myself imagining all sorts of altruistic activities. “No object” you say, “Well, I’d cure cancer, make sure everyone had any proven, available inoculations, feed the hungry, especially the children and finally, I would make a supreme effort to educate the women of the world.” I might have to own a private jet in order to get around tending to the whole world but I’m willing to do whatever is necessary.

 

Then came the real revelation. Money may be limited but that doesn’t mean I can’t still devote some of my income to those things I feel are important. My donations may not take care of the whole world but it would at least take care of a part of it. I do set aside part of our income to give to charity. As we shared some of our ideas, it came to me that I have also been giving money to educate women. I make a monthly donation to my high school, Saint Agnes Academic High in College Point, N.Y. It’s an all girl school and I credit it and the teachers I had for the life I now live. It was a wonderful environment. It showed me my potential. I had nuns and lay teachers who had their PHDs in Mathematics, English, and Latin, to name a few subjects. They were remarkable women and by being in their presence, I began to see that I too could educate myself and reach heights I never before dreamed possible.

What about you? If money were no object what would be your priorities? Remember, we are spiritual beings. We have the gifts and ability to tap into the unseen, the unknown, the power of God! Truly, the only limits that exist are the limits we place on ourselves. It’s our choice; do we go to the ocean with a thimble, a bucket or a pipeline? It’s all yours just like the sun shines on all of us, prosperity can belong to everyone; dream large.

Letting Go of Childhood Limitations

Affirmation:  I let
go of my childhood limitations.

How can one be over the age of 50, 60, 70 and still be restricted
or controlled by emotions and concepts that influenced them as they were
growing up?  How can one not?  I’m speaking about those emotions and
concepts that deter us from true joy, that interfere with our ability to
completely savor and embrace life.  And, is it even possible to release
oneself, to become an adult in one’s own right?  Is it possible to grasp
the positive qualities that serve us and our loved ones and let go of those,
perhaps at least acknowledge and appreciate the experience but then let go of
those concepts that are damaging us?

Part of the creative process encouraged in Julia Cameron’s The
Artist’s Way
, is an examination of what one felt was lacking in their
childhood.  I was a lucky person.  Looking back on my childhood I remember a lot
of freedom and amazingly, even with all that freedom, I never experienced any
trauma.  My mother and my father worked
very hard and while my grandparents lived below our one bedroom apartment for
the first ten years of my life, that was about the extent of our family.  My father was an only child and my mom’s
siblings were more than a decade older than her and did not live close.  I grew up in Jamaica, Queens.  When the city was preparing for the 1964
World’s Fair, they took down all the trees along my street, Grand Central
Parkway, and I could actually see the Empire State Building from my house. 

It was not an inner city neighborhood but it was close.  Most of the houses were attached brick homes
with the driveway in the back alley.  We
had about ten square feet of lawn in the front and my dad paved over the back
yard so we had room to park our cars.  My
mom had a clothes line that went from the second story kitchen window to a pole
out back and she hung most of our laundry out to dry.  I would head out to play early in the day and
wouldn’t return until the street lights went on.  We played hard.  We skated, rode bikes, climbed walls and
trees.  We played tag, jumped rope and
played stick ball.  In the winter we ice
skated several miles from the house and rode our sleds down the back alley
driveways.  No one ever seemed to come
look for us and if you can imagine, we didn’t have cell phones!  We were free. 
We had a lot of choices.  I grew
up believing I could do anything.  I
wasn’t sure what that was or where it would lead me, but there were no
boundaries for me as a child.  I assumed
there wouldn’t be any for me as an adult. 
Oh, I was well aware of the fact that I was a girl but when it came to
running, climbing and skating, I was equal to any boy.  It wasn’t until college that I discovered
women were expected to only follow certain paths. 

After Julia has you examine what you thought you lacked as a
child, she then encourages you to find ways to parent yourself, to nurture
yourself.  You can’t begin to let go and
to heal until you recognize what it is you were missing.  Maybe you never felt loved enough.  Maybe you never felt valued enough.  My parents were so busy that I never felt I
received enough affection.  Of course, so
much of our childhood memories can be so skewed.  I once heard the story of a young woman who
recalled a fainting episode to her mother. 
She was shocked to learn she hadn’t fainted at all, it had been her
sister!  But, whether or not our feelings
are based on reality or perception, doesn’t matter.  They are our feelings.  I can still recall childhood incidents that
make me feel sad or happy or frightened and my childhood ended more than half a
century ago.  And now life moves
onward.  There are times when you need to
let go of any junk you feel about your childhood.  At some point if you hope to be healthy and
happy you simply need to “get over it.” 

I am my mother’s main caregiver.  I am very blessed because
at 90 she is still extremely healthy and independent.  I’m the oldest of
three and mom chose to move near me over 15 years ago.  She made the move
all by herself.  She likes to be independent and self- sufficient. 
It empowers her as it probably does most of us.  My prayer for Mom is that
she will continue to have joy and maintain dignity as she finishes out her
life.  I only want to love her and enjoy her presence. I want to be the
“good little girl” and make her happy.  I want to take whatever
steps needed to help her feel better, to make her happy.  I’m 66 years old
and the child in me still wants to please my mother but I know, this is a fact,
that no matter what or how much I do, I cannot please her long term.  I
cannot make her happy.  Sister Mary Margaret from A Place for Women to
Gather says, “Happiness is an inside job.”  There is only one person who
can make us happy, us. 

That’s why I create affirmations.  It’s all up to me what I
think, how I perceive life, how I feel.  I cannot remain the good little
girl and live frustrated and sad because of anyone. I must let go of ALL
my childhood limitations and embrace my own adult determination to create my
own happiness.  Have you looked at your childhood limitations?  Are
they interfering with the quality of your life?  Can you too release
them?  Do you want to?

A reporter went to interview a man who was very down on his
luck.  He had lost everything dear to him
and had fallen into a chronic alcoholic state. 
“Why do you think your life has turned out this way?” he asked.  The man shared with him that his father was
an alcoholic and he never held out much hope for himself.  Then the reporter went to interview the man’s
brother.  He was surprised to find him
leading a very happy, successful life. 
He decided to ask him the same question, “Why do you think your life has
turned out this way?”  The brother said,
“Well, for heaven’s sake, my father was a chronic alcoholic.  I watched him all through my childhood and
decided my life was never going to follow that path.” 

Life is all about our choices. 
We get to choose what lessons we want to learn from our childhood.  We get to decide if we’re going to carry the
sad, remorseful feelings with us into adulthood and let them weigh us down or
if we are going to learn the lesson, release ourselves from the limitations and
grow up healthy and happy. 

Claiming Your Power

Affirmation:  I stand in my power.
How many women do you know who would say they love themselves?  It seems to me, that most women have a lot of difficultly valuing themselves.  Most of the discussions I have with my female friends and women attendees at my workshops are about ways to increase our self-esteem especially as we grow older. 

The intention I set for my yoga practice and for when I teach any class is to “nurture and empower.”  I believe that a regular yoga practice is one of the tools that will help us develop and encourage us to deepen both of those qualities.  Some poses allow us to rest and let gravity hold us while we slowly release more deeply into the pose.  I feel that way when I do Pose of the Child.  In it you kneel down, sit back onto your heels, place your forehead on the floor and rest your arms, hands down, along side of your body.  As you breathe your whole back stretches open from the bottom of your spine up to the top.  Your legs and feet loosen up and your shoulders relax into the ground.  Of, course there is also Savasana, Corpse Pose.  It’s the last pose in most practices when the yogi lies flat out on his or her back, hands placed palms up next to one’s side and let’s gravity hold you while keeping the mind free of the clutter of life.  I always remind my students that this is a very important pose because as one of my mentors, Nancy Hannah, taught me “Mindful movement followed by stillness brings healing to the mind, body and spirit.”

But,  when I practice and when I teach, my mission is to also empower.  There are many poses which can encourage a sense of strength and power.  One of the poses that is frequently included in most practices is Virabhadrasana, Warrior Pose.  There are three Warrior Poses.  The tale surrounding these poses is that a young woman was deeply wounded by her father and decided to shed her body.  While in a meditative state her body burst into flames.  When her husband, the god Shiva, heard of her death he called on his fiercest warrior and named this warrior, Virabhadra,  Vira (hero) + Bhadra (friend).  He then ordered Virabhadra to go and revenge his wife’s death, which Virabhadra did.  Nowhere in the story does it say if the warrior is a man or a woman.  You get to choose. When you take a stance for Warrior I, you spread your legs apart, both feet pointing forward, the back foot a little turned out, you bend your front knee, face forward and raise your straight arms overhead.  You ground your feet and lift your torso. In Warrior II, you take the same basic stance, but you turn your torso to the side, place your arms in a tee position, palms down, and gaze out over the front hand. It looks like you’re preparing to throw a spear or a javelin.  In Warrior III, you stand on one leg and your other leg is stretched back and it and your torso and arms are parallel to the ground, like your about to swing out and kick something.  Practicing any one of these stances will elicit a feeling of power in mind, body and spirit. 

A diagnosis and treatment plan for cancer or some other life threatening illnesses, can be a very dis-empowering experience.  Many in the medical field in an attempt to help you save your life forget that you still need to be in charge.  They may need a reminder that you are more than willing to partner with them in your health care but you are not going to allow them to take over your whole life.  Claiming your power in this instance can be the difference between life and death.  If you have a feeling that the caregiver you are working with is not on your team, it is imperative that you resolve the conflict or find a new caregiver.  Follow your instincts and claim your power.  Before I began treatment for breast cancer I decided to practice my Virabhadrasana poses.  I decided I need to take a warrior stance in order to prepare myself for the cancer process.  I found a counselor with the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program.  I then gathered my troops about me and got all the information I could find about other steps people have successfully used to empower themselves through this experience; a nutritionist, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, and most importantly, my prayer groups. I invited and allowed any friend who wanted to help me through cancer, to help me in anyway that suited them.  Truly, I entered into that first chemo session fully armed.  I had my family, doctors, nurses and technicians to guide the meds and treatment and I had prayers, information, mediation tapes and a USA Today crossword puzzle.  I was fully prepared for battle.

The first time I heard someone tell me they needed to “stand in their power” I knew immediately what she meant.  Sometimes it’s too easy to think small.  It’s too easy to feel small, to let things go unresolved so that someone’s feelings are not ruffled but that can become a habit that only diminishes our power and our spirit.  Years ago when I was a very young woman there were courses designed to help people become more assertive, not aggressive, they would stress, but assertive.  Mostly these courses were attended by women.  What decides wether or not a woman feels powerful or not or for that matter, how anyone feels about themselves?  I’m sure the first criteria is their childhood experiences.  Were they led to believe they were special, smart, gifted?  Were they encouraged to follow their hearts and their imagination or were they treated poorly or worse?  But, even after such spirit damaging treatment, many people go onto find their self worth. 

Steve Jobs founder of Apple, died in October of 2011.  He changed the face of IT and the way the world saw and used all sorts of technological equipment.  One of the stories about Steve Jobs is that as a child when confronted by another child about his adoption, he became very upset.  The other child asked him how it felt to know he was abandoned by his birth parents.  His adopted parents gave the perfect answer to his question of abandonment.  They explained to him that they had chosen him from all the other children in the world.  For most of us, that would be enough to help us feel better and to value ourselves.  Steve Jobs took it to a whole new level.  He said from that moment on he knew he was not abandoned, he was CHOSEN!

As women age in our society, traditionally their value is diminished.  Older women are not normally looked upon as favorably as older men.  Just look at our older actors versus our older actresses.  But, even if in America you don’t find a lot of older women in the movies, thank heavens for the Brits and Dames Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren and Judi Dench.  It seems to me that the values our society holds up as a reflection of “success” are normally male held values.  But, it is changing.  Women today seem to be able to stay true to themselves and still find worldly success.  But, let’s face it sadly, we still don’t have many women officially leading the countries of the world.  We have had, however, many women warriors who have led our society out of darkness and into the light: Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, and Helen Keller to name just a few.  And, we do have many more women in professions that were once consider strictly male territory.  When I majored in mathematics in college, I was one of 5 women in a program of about 100 men.  No more!   We now have women leading the fields of medicine, science, law and politics.  But, perhaps, some of your heroines aren’t on this list.  What of our mothers, sisters, friends and mentors?  They may be the women you think of when you think of powerful, strong women. 

What if you believed that every thing you do, everything you say, every thought you have, has an influence on everyone else in the world?  Would you think of yourself as powerful?  I am here to tell you that is true!  Our simple presence in this world, affects everyone else and everything else that exists.  We are interwoven in ways we cannot even fathom.  There is a network of energy that runs from each of us to each other.  Therefore, we have a responsibility to value ourselves and each other.  We have a responsibility to claim our power.  We must all believe in ourselves, we must!  We must recognize and value our contributions, our existence. Men and women alike need to know without doubt that we have value, each of us, and it’s especially important to claim it as we age.  We need to recognize and take credit for the way we have made life better.  It will affect every aspect of our life and every person we encounter.  When you truly claim your power and let your light shine, you give permission to the rest of world to do the same. 

What do you think your life would be like if you believed that you are chosen?  What would it take for you to believe that you are powerful?  What tools can you use to insure that as you move forward you will know that simply because you are, you are important; you are a force with which to be reckoned.  One of the first tools is to stand up and tell yourself, “I am powerful!  I stand in my power!  I claim my power!”  Yes we are chosen, each and every one of us.  We have been chosen by the greatest Father of all time.  Claim your power.  Say it!  Write it!  Watch how your body responds.  An affirmation can feel strange at first but don’t give up, keep with it and one day if you’re not there already, you’ll be in a place where you find yourself standing tall, feeling strong and you’ll know without a doubt that you are valued, you are important, you are loved.

Passionate for Freedom

Affirmation:  I
fully recognize and appreciate the gift of living in a free country and having
the right to make my choices known.

“Our passions are the winds that propel our vessel. Our reason is
the pilot that steers her. Without winds the vessel would not move and without
a pilot she would be lost.“  Proverbs

Have you ever watched a political convention?   Politics is not my favorite
subject, to say the least.  I am a
moderate, a middle of the road citizen. 
I can usually see both sides of an issue and that can leave me very
confused about for whom I should vote.  I
don’t have a very successful record either. 
If a friend or family members favors someone for office they would be
wise to encourage me to vote for the opponent. 
I can’t ever remember voting for the winner in a major election.  But, I always vote.  I may not always be as well informed as I’d
like to be, but I always go and cast my vote. 
I try, I really do try to gather as much information as possible.  I read about the different people, sometimes
I go to meet them but I’ve never been so impressed or enamored by a candidate
that I was sure I was making the best decision. 
The best decision for whom; for me, for my country, for the world?

When I vote I feel like that in itself is the best decision, the
decision to exercise my right to vote. 
When I read about and listen to the sacrifices our ancestors have made
and the oppression that exists in so many countries today, I fully recognize
the gift I have been given with the opportunity to choose those I want to
represent me, my city, state and country.

I pray daily for wisdom for our world leaders.  There seems to be so many politicians whose
only concern is their power and their prestige. 
Perhaps, that’s why I’m not very passionate about politics.  I don’t have much faith in the people who
chose to be politicians.  I can’t imagine
what drives so many of them to put themselves so far out into the public’s
eye.  I wonder, so often, if it’s not
simply a grand ego trip.  I want to
believe that a person who is running for office is more concerned about me, his
or her constituent, than he or she is about themselves.

When I watch the conventions, the men and women who present
themselves with passion about their concerns and about their desires to uplift
and empower us, their represented, I am almost relieved, relieved that someone
comes across with what I think is a genuine spirit.  But, it’s the people, the audience with whom
I am so fascinated.  I am sure there is a
selection process for those attendees. 
I’m sure some have been going for years; maybe it’s a family
tradition.  I know in many ways it’s a
fun experience.  I’ve been to several
business conventions.  The energy
generated by a group of people with a common goal is always palpable.

In 2010 my husband, Sandy, was a keynote speaker for Toastmasters
International in Las Vegas.  It’s an
amazing organization and we were very excited to be there.  There were over 2000 people there from all
over the world.  We met people from
Africa, Asia, Australia and places that began with many other letters besides
“A.”  It was 3 days of high energy, lots
of stories and shared visions.  I would
imagine being at a political convention would be similar.

Passion is the world that comes to mind when I watch the people
in attendance.  Passion!  They must truly love and care about the
process we have here in the United States to decide our own destiny and they
must believe completely in that process. 
They have devoted time, energy and talent to participate in the
process.  I find it inspiring.  I believe we all need passion in our lives.

Passion is that quality of life that keeps our hearts beating and
our spirits soaring.  I believe being
passionate about our country, even with its zits, is a worthy pursuit, a just
passion.  I am proud to be an
American.  I am grateful to live in a
land of peace and freedom.  I believe the
United States is a place where dreams can come true.  I am grateful to be a woman living here in
the United States rather than in some oppressive regime.  I believe in our compassion as a people and a
nation.  I value the sacrifices so many
Americans have made and continue to make to help others both here and throughout
the world.

Vote?  For whom will I
vote?  That’s not as important as if I
will vote.  That choice, no that
obligation, is one thing about which I am passionate.  There once was an article in USA Today stating
that thousands of Americans don’t vote. They simply don’t care or they don’t believe
it can make a difference.  Men and women
have died, are dying, punished and even imprisoned because they want, they
demand, the right to have a voice in their destiny.  Yes, I will not let this gift, this opportunity
go unused, unappreciated, The United States of America is the greatest country
in the world.  And, I for one, will
exercise my privilege and hope and pray that I am casting a vote for someone
with passion who will work and lead my country and perhaps our world towards
the highest and best we can possibly be. 
I hope you will join me.

Who Are These People?

Affirmation:  I am a Bold Adventuress!

When
Geraldine Lucas was 58 years old she became the first woman to climb the Grand
Teton.  She retired as a teacher in the
east and packed herself up and established a homestead in Wyoming in what is
now the Grand Tetons National Park.  In
the beginning she didn’t even have electricity or running water!  It appears from the stories I was told while
traveling through the area that women were very influential in the development
of this state and in its governing. 
 
The
brave, adventurous spirit must continue to thrive in this part of the world
because wherever Sandy and I traveled in Wyoming we found people with an
amazing sense of adventure. 
 
Pink’s
name tag had “Taiwan” printed under her name.  She was a waitress in Yellowstone National
Park.  I was in awe.  She was there just for the summer.  “You are so brave.” I
commented.  “No” she said in
very broken English “I came here with my classmate.” “How
many?” I asked.  “One.”
she answered.  Wherever we went the name
tags told us from where the seasonal employees came.  They were from faraway places like China,
Ecuador, Russia, and of course, they were also from different parts of the
United States.  I wanted to know if they
were enjoying their experience and almost all of them told me they were having
a wonderful time.  One young woman said
she couldn’t believe someone was paying her to show people the beauty of
Yellowstone.  This same young woman had
spent a few of her free days hiking and tenting in the park with another gal,
just them and their bear spray!  Another
young man said it was his 4th summer. 
“What’s not to like?  I’m
getting paid and in my free time I get to hike and fish all summer.” 
 
When my
husband and I talk about the opportunities presented to us as young people we
recognize that we simply had no knowledge of the kind of experiences that might
have been available then, that are available to people today, all people.
 
We met
some of the coolest adults while traveling through the National Parks.  Did you know people of all ages work as
seasonal workers in the parks?  And, the
most fascinating part, for me, is everyone I spoke with was having a wonderful
time.  It was the 14th year of service
for one of the seasonal rangers we met. The first time I met an older adult who
worked in the parks was in Yosemite. 
Sandy and I went to a Sunday service in the tiny church in the
park.  At one point we were encouraged to
greet the other people attending the service and to chat with each other.  One woman we greeted told us she and her
husband were seasonal workers.  They had
sold their home and all of its contents, bought an RV and each year since, they
had chosen a different park to work in during the summer.  My eyes were as big as quarters as I
listened.  My husband looked
shocked.  I think he was afraid I was
going to head home and begin the process of becoming a National Park gypsy. 
 
One of
our guides shared with us the story of how he met his wife.  It was July in Alaska and he was doing
research, out in the wild all by himself. 
He was a professor of geology at one of the universities up there and in
the summers he trekked through the wilderness for weeks on end collecting
samples.  The weather turned unusually
cold and it began to snow. He was concerned about getting back to civilization
when he heard voices off in the distance. 
He could see through his binoculars that three people were huddled
around a fire with a raft pulled up onto the shore.  As he was looking through his binoculars, one
of the women on the river trip was looking through her binoculars; their eyes
met and it was love at first sight.  They
had been married 14 years at the time of his story.  He said his friends were right when they told
him it would be “a snowy day in July” before he met someone who would
marry him. He went onto say she saved him in more ways than one.  He wasn’t sure he would have made it out of
the wilderness if he hadn’t met up with them and their raft.  His wife to be and two friends had been
dropped off at the top of a seldom traveled river with a pickup date and time
scheduled for two weeks later.  It was
quite a daring thing to do but it wasn’t her first trek into the unknown.  As a young single mother she had gone to live
with friends, saved all her money and had taken her 12 year old son on a 2 year
trek around the world in a van.
 
Who are
these people?  It’s all I can think to
ask when I meet these adventurous spirits. 
It’s all I can think to ask when I read and hear about the pioneers of
the past.  I believe there’s a fine line
between bravery and stupidity.  Sometimes
I think the only way to know which side of the line one is on, is afterwards,
by the results of one’s actions.  If you
enter into a dangerous situation and you come through unscathed or stronger for
it, you might be considered brave.  If
you don’t come through, you’ll probably be considered stupid.  But, don’t all pioneers begin their journeys
on paths unknown and untested?  Where
would we be without people willing to step way outside of their comfort zones?
 
In the
Grand Tetons we also had the opportunity to watch several para-gliders come off
one of the mountains and soar above us as they came to land at our feet.  It was mesmerizing to watch.  I was ready to give it a try, next time, but
once again, the question arose, “Who are these people?” Who was the
first one to step off the mountain with a parachute attached to them?  Were they brave or were they dumb?  Does it matter? If no one is willing to go
out and see and try that which is new, there would be no growth.  Think of all we would be missing today?
 
I for one
am grateful for the spirit that takes people to places unknown.  I am grateful for those in our society who
are willing to challenge themselves so that those of us who are not as
adventurous or as spirited, get to follow in their footsteps, get to see and
enjoy and experience things we might never have had the opportunity to
experience except that they paved the way for us. They are our forefathers and
our foremothers and they are those who are still with us, the students and
seasonal workers of our parks and perhaps those amazing people within our
circles who also help us broaden our horizons because of their bravery and
courage.
 
This, for
me, is the blessing of travel.  I get to
see the world differently than I would have had I stayed home in my cozy little
world.  I get to meet people and hear
stories I’d never have met or heard if I were afraid to venture outside of my
comfort zone.  It’s true, I wasn’t the to
first step off the mountain and try to soar; I am not the one living in a tent
and listening for bears; I’m not the one rafting down an unknown river or even
taking a new job in an unfamiliar location but I am the one enjoying the fruits
of all these pioneers because I am the one, perhaps a lot like you, that did
travel to unknown places both out in the world and then, even more importantly,
inside to within, to my heart and to my spirit to discover that maybe there
have been at least a few times in my life and maybe more, when I could answer,
“I am one of those people.” 

Younger Next Year

Affirmation: The
Best is yet to come.

What
age would you tell someone you are if you didn’t know what age you are?  Stephen Levine asked this question at a
seminar on Death and Dying that he was presenting many years ago.  Sometimes, I find myself asking myself that
question.  When I’m on a golf course, I
feel about 25.  Not because I’m a good
golfer but because I always feel like a newbie even though I have played on and
off for over 40 years.  After I was
treated for cancer, I aged about ten years, in one year.  Before cancer I would have answered that I
was about 35, after cancer I felt like 45. 
I guess that was ok since at the time I was treated I was 52.  I haven’t “aged” much over the last two
decades which makes me wonder if that shows a lack of maturity, a lack of
self-awareness or complete denial about the passing of time. 
My
first visit to Canyon Ranch in Arizona was over a decade ago.  I was looking for a way to learn about how to
best take care of my health and I had read a lot about the resort and decided
to give it a try.  It’s a wonderful
place, very holistic and almost surreal. 
It met all my expectations.  While
there the founder and owner, Mel Zuckerman did an early morning presentation
about the beginning of the ranch and why he started it.  He was very dynamic and I found his story to
be quite inspirational.  He said when he
first arrived in Arizona he was not in good health.  One of the first tests he took determined his
“age” based on his physical condition. 
He was about 55 at the time and the test came back that he was in his
70s. Now, he was in his 70s and after years of training and healthy food and
other practices, his “age” tested at 55. 
At the time that seemed like a radical concept, becoming “younger”
as one ages but now there is a lot of information about getting stronger and
healthier as we age.  One of my personal
favorites is Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D.
A
friend told me “Growing old is not for the weak of heart.”  I know the number one determining factor about
how we age is our genes.  It’s also the
number one factor determining if we age, but the second most influential factor
is how and what we think about the aging process.  In the Omega Institute’s first Conscious
Aging conference one speaker shared his research into the number one factor
concerning the age at which we will die. 
After years of research, he found it was determined mostly by when we
thought we would die. 
As
of this writing my mother’s best friend is 96. 
Many mornings when I am entering the gym at 9 or 9:30, she is on her way
out.  She has already finished her
workout.  She peddles the bike for 15
minutes, she uses the rowing machine for 15 minutes and then she does the
weight machine circuit.  She drives
herself there and then she heads to Trader Joe’s for her daily shopping
expedition.  She is one of my
heroines.  She had a broken tibia when
she was 94 and was in rehab for almost 9 months.  I was sure that was “it” for her.  I couldn’t imagine her recovering from such a
break at such an advanced age.  It’s good
I didn’t share that with her because she never doubted she was going to heal
and return to living in her own home on her own and back to a full, rich life
and so she did!
Have
you listened to what people say about their health?  Have you had the opportunity to hear people
speak about their memories, their backs, their knees, eyes, hearing, stomachs,
etc?  It seems a day never passes when
someone isn’t claiming that age is the reason for some ailment with which they
are dealing.  People seem to be looking
for a reason why they are deteriorating and it’s so easy to claim it’s age
related. 
Dr.
Andrew Weil had a PBS special on how to live a healthier older life.  He recognized that the body does change.  We are always changing and that we might need
to make adjustments as we go along.  Most
of us seem to fall into that category and then there are the people who are in
their 80’s or 90’s and are still running marathons.  What works for one simply may not work for
another.  We need to create a personal
life plan for each individual.
My
cousin’s mother was almost 100 when she was diagnosed with dementia.  Of course, they were told, it was a normal
condition for someone her age.  Another
physician asked the family if their mother had been tested for a thyroid
problem.  No, she had not been
tested.  A few days after beginning the
proper medication, she was back to her normal self. 
Do
yourself a favor, don’t claim your ailments. 
Certainly, they can be a part of your life but let them be just that, a
part of your life.  Don’t let them
determine who you are.  Don’t identify
with them.  Even a serious diagnosis does
not have to determine your identity.  I
have met more people who introduce themselves to me by telling me about their
physical challenges.  Sometimes, it’s the
first thing they tell me after their name. 
I want to shout “Get behind me Satan! 
Don’t do that!  You are greater
than whatever ailment you’re dealing with. 
Find another way to view yourself, to view your problem.”  Truly, it’s not a lack of compassion on my
part.  It’s actually very
compassionate.  I want to tell them they
are injuring themselves even further by focusing on their diagnosis.  Put it aside, put it on a shelf and go do
something fun or better yet, go do something for someone else. 
You
have the power to heal yourself!  It is
within all of us.  Claim it!  Yes, it may mean making some changes, getting
help.  It may mean medication, surgery, a
change in diet or exercise but listen closely and you will know what you need
to do to help yourself.  But, the first
thing you need to do is to not identify with your diagnosis.  You need to find a way to make peace, to just
allow it to be and to move away and forward. 
You’ve seen them and you’ve met them, people who don’t only refuse to
allow their ailments and disabilities interfere with their lives but who thrive
in spite of them.  It is possible for all
of us. 

What
do you think the Olympic Athletes tell themselves?  Do you think they focus on their aches, pains
or ailments?  What about Oscar Pistorius,
the “fastest man on no legs.” He’s had a double below the knee
amputation and runs on two artificial limbs. 
He competed in the 2012 London Olympics. 
How hard do you think that was? 

Rachel
Naomi Remen in Kitchen Table Wisdom speaks about healing.  She says that sometimes we will not be cured
but we can always be healed.  What we
think about, we bring about.  You might
be dealing with a serious illness but if you choose your thoughts carefully,
you will know you are a glorious creature of God.  You are beautiful!  You are amazing!  You still have a life to live and love to
bestow!  We need to hold onto the belief
that the Best is yet to come and that
we get to choose whether or not to believe it and whether or not we will create
it.
Once
again, we get to choose.  We decided day
to day, moment to moment how we perceive ourselves; how we perceive our
abilities; how we perceive our bodies. 
It’s our greatest power.  It’s the
one thing we have total (at most times) control over.  Claim your health!  Claim your strength!  Whatever it is that is interfering with your
optimal health needs to be reframed, adjusted. 
You may not have to put on two artificial limbs, thank God, but maybe
you need to put on an artificial aid, a new thought process to enable you to
compete in the race of life.
“Healing
may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that
isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you
are.”