Jean Anne Costa
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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.

Claiming Courage

Affirmations:  I am
courageous.


“I learned that courage is not the absence of fear,
but the triumph over it.  The brave man
is not the one who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Nelson Mandela
It seems lately the topic of conversation has often turned to the
concept of courage.  Partly because my
Women of Faith study group is reading The Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To
by Anthony DeStephano. One of the prayers is, “God grant me
courage.”  I loved the chapter of
this topic.  I thought his presentation
was clear and comprehensive and for me, just what I needed to “hear”
at this time.
I know I have at least two positive affirmations that have
bolstered my confidence over the years. 
They are, I am a bold adventuress and I am audacious.  I say, “yes I can.”  They have worked quite well for
me.  Many times I’ve jumped into
situations, well OK maybe I simply walked into them, which I was not sure
about.  I’d usually come out the other
side excited about what had taken place and exhilarated that I’d overcome my
fear and anxiety.  It was always a very
empowering experience. 
While those affirmations have been good, most of my days are
fairly uneventful or at least not adventurous and yet I can carry with me a
sense of concern; concern about my finances, my health or that of my loved
ones, my relationships and especially about the future. 
Part of Anthony’s premise was that we need to practice being
courageous.  We need to pick up the
quality, the gift every day.  At first we
should start with small things and as our strength grows and our courage muscle
becomes stronger, we will be able to be courageous at more challenging
times.  They are a coming!  Or, perhaps they are already here.  The words were for me, filling a need.  His advice was exactly what I seemed to need
at this particular time in my life.
I believe I am still grieving the death of my mother and her
blessed but very difficult last several years of her life.  I know I will heal but for now the memory
lingers and weighs on me and leaves me wondering about my future, my old age
and my death. 
Think about the brave people you know?  Think about the brave people you have read
about?  The first group that always comes
to my mind are our service people.  I
know for some they discovered courage in situations they never imagined they
could endure.  Our veterans are some of
our most remarkable heroes.  Then, our
fire fighters come to mind.  My dad,
Frank Grolimund, was a captain with the New York City volunteer fire
fighters.  I vividly remember being with
him as he ran into a burning building to help with whatever was necessary.  I believe he was very brave, if not a little
crazy.  I think too of all the fire
fighters who ran towards the dangers of the World Trade Center on 911. The
memory still brings tears to my eyes. Then, there are all those people fighting
cancer or some other life threatening illness. 
I am here to tell you it takes an enormous amount of courage to continue
that fight and sometimes even more, to allow yourself or a loved one, to let
go.
The greatest example of courage for me, however, is that of Jesus
Christ.  When I mediate on his time in
the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) I cannot imagine the courage it
must have taken for him to give himself completely over to His Father and get
up and walk out to what he knew, he knew in every excruciating detail what he
was to experience!  He must have asked
His Father for courage that evening and it was obviously granted. 
Now, I have learned that God will also grant me courage if I only
ask.  It will be one more answered prayer
and I don’t have to wait, I can claim it now. 
I can claim it daily in all things, small and with practice, large.  “God grant me courage.”  I am asking and I believe in answered prayer
and with that comes a new affirmation, I am courageous.
How about you? Want to overcome fear and become brave?  Want more courage?  Join me. 
Ask!

Being a Victim

Affirmation:  I rest in the inquiry. I stand in my
power
.
The young woman named Dina (She
was one of our tour directors.) was giving the description about Austria and
she was clever and quite funny.  She came
from Vienna and because of that I felt very comfortable when she described a
“typical” Austrian.  “We
are a people who always feel like we are being victimized.  Tell me a tale about one of your problems and
I will tell you one about myself that is worse than yours.  We have a black cloud always hovering above
us.  The good news is we don’t take
ourselves too seriously, so we can laugh at our problems.”  I was fascinated.  I wondered why the Austrian people had this
impression about their lives.  Was it
nature or nurture?  Certainly they had
been through some terrible times.  The
tales we heard about the experiences of the people of Eastern Europe were
beyond sad and extremely disturbing.  I
wondered if all the people in countries that had experienced horrible
historical eras had the same general sense of being victims?  What about Russia, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary,
Poland, North Korea or Japan?  How about
Vietnam?  What about the mid-east or some
parts of Africa?  Do the people in all of
these areas of the world feel like victims. 
I don’t like to classify an entire
population into one category but certain characteristics do seem more prevalent
in some cultures than in others.  For
instance when my husband, Sandy and I traveled through Ireland, we discovered
the Irish people love to help lost travelers. 
They certainly loved helping us. 
We were always lost and they couldn’t do enough to get us back on the
right road.  We stopped to talk to one
fellow out in the county side who stopped mowing his lawn to give us directions
and just about invited us in for tea. 
I’m sure if I named a nationality, you would come up with an adjective
or two that you believe described them. 
How about the Italians, the Japanese, the Germans, or the Latinos?  Did a couple of words pop up for you?
There have been times in my life
when I could have felt like a victim.  I
remember people asking me if I wondered why I had developed breast cancer.  Did I rail at God, “Why me,
Lord?”  No, I did not.  It never occurred to me to even ask that
question. Dr. Mark Graham told me it wasn’t anything I did or did not do; it was a “random act of violence.”  That might have made me feel even more

vulnerable, but
for some reason it may have brought me a sense of peace. The thought came to me
after listening to our guide that I probably don’t have any Austrian blood in
me.  I couldn’t imagine living a life
where I always went around feeling victimized. 
How would that improve the quality of my life?  I think I’d be a real grump and a very
unhappy person.  It certainly wouldn’t
fit in with my concept of creating an intentional life, a life of peace and
love, joy, compassion and gratitude. However, upon more careful consideration,
I realized there have been many times in my life when I found myself feeling
powerless, small and insignificant.  At
those moments I did not step up and out. 
I did not claim my power and even in the midst of “random
acts” we still have choices.  We
still have the opportunity to decide how we perceive our situation and what we
are going to do or not do.   

I asked Dina, sometimes referred
to as “Dina Marie” and her coworker, Scott, whose home is in China, if
in their travels they had noticed this victimization attitude in other
countries where the people had experienced years of suffering and
repression.  They said they hadn’t really
thought about it.  The documentary The
Singing Revolution
takes place in Estonia. 
It was an excellent film depicting life in Estonia through the last
hundred years and it presented a people who even though they were suffering,
decided to continue their ancient tradition of a mass sing-along.  It presented a picture of hope and positive
behavior even during these more than difficult times.  
I’ve read and watched a lot of stories about
WW I and WW II and about man’s inhumanity towards man, especially about the
horrors committed against the Jewish people. 
As we traveled through Eastern Europe and listened to the guides
describe the situations which caused the deaths of so many people, thousands
upon thousands, or through which they lived, I began to understand why the
people in these countries would still feel a sense of travesty and
powerlessness. To be completely honest,

however, I know, with a capital
“K” that I have never experienced the repression and torment that so
many in the world have in the past or are presently experiencing.  I probably cannot even imagine the horrors
that are taking place.  On our last
evening of this trip, Scott, also affectionately know as “Scotty Boy”
left us all with this advice, “Now that you have traveled this part of the
world, maybe the next time you see or hear of something distressing that they
are experiencing, you will feel a deeper connection, a greater sense of
compassion.”  He mentioned that one
way to break down the barriers of prejudice and hatred is to be exposed to another’s
culture.  I am hoping that faced with such
struggle, I could muster enough strength perhaps because of my relationship
with my God, that I would not perceive my situation as hopeless.

The lesson here for me is that we
always have a choice about how we want to perceive our situation. The more I
thought about this feeling of being a victim, the more I realized it is not
unusual for people to perceive themselves as victims even if they have never
lived in a war torn country.  As far as
the people I know most have lived in the US and are part of the blessed
minority like myself who have not gone through the horrors of war and
oppression.  The people I’ve met who perceive
themselves as victims, are the people who believe that whatever happens to them
is totally beyond their control; there in nothing they can do about it.  They don’t or can’t recognize that even in
the most dire of situations we can choose to believe that we at some point can
affect change.  Our sense of purpose and
power lies within us, not beyond our control. 
Daily we are called up to look at our attitudes and to examine our
beliefs and then to rise up and to claim our power.  If we practice daily, in the smaller things
of life, perhaps if and when we are faced with the larger, more daunting events
we will be able to “rest in the inquiry and stand in our power.”

Choosing Your Words, Creating Your Thoughts

Affirmation:  The words I choose affect every aspect of my
life.  I choose mindfully.

The question I’ve been asking myself while preparing
for the September 9, 2014 Barnes and Noble signing has been, “What makes
you think you’re someone who can inspire or motivate another to live an
intentional life?”
Truth to tell, I am simply another human being
probably a lot like you who is trying to live a rich, giving, compassionate
life.  My mission statement for my life
is, “I live a Christ centered life of love, peace, joy, hope, gratitude
and compassion.”  And, everyday I
have to remind myself of it and of how I want to live.  I’ve written before of my desire to be loving,
forgiving, nonjudgmental, non-grasping and compassionate.  It’s a meditation.  It’s something I have to keep in mind
everyday, sometimes every moment.  Do
I?  Of course I don’t. 
I know I’m not an expert on human behavior.  I have studied it for many years and I’ve
worked with a lot of people in many different capacities.  One of my first loves is a study group.  I facilitated my first study group at Barnes
and Noble in Cary, NC around 20 years ago with another MSW, Jane Cook.  We presented the book The Artist’s Way
by Julia Cameron.  We had around 35
people participate for the twelve-week session. 
I’ve either facilitated or participated in hundreds of groups since
then.  From my observation I would
propose that most people are trying to find a way to live a more fulfilled
life.  What that takes is of course
different for different people so I don’t claim that I can offer everyone that
opportunity but there are some basic skills available to most of us and using
our words to shape our thoughts and therefore our lives, is a very powerful
one.
I recently had a women ask me if I’d read Ten
Percent Happier
.  I have not.  She explained to me that the author’s secret
to a happier life was meditation and he shared that approach in his book.  He felt he became at least 10% happier
because of his practice.  I believe
it.  He therefore, felt a desire to help
others find this same sense of well being. 
I think we can definitely improve the quality of our lives by meditating
but while it’s simple, it’s not easy. 
It’s takes practice.  It takes
discipline.  It’s no different than
exercising the body.  It’s exercising the
mind.  In fact it’s easier to exercise
the body than it is to quiet the mind. 
What I am proposing, however, is something that almost anyone can easily
put into practice.  I don’t mean for it
to be a substitute for meditation, certainly not a substitute for prayer, but
another tool to be utilized in the search for a better existence.

We are all talking to each other and ourselves all the
time. With just a little effort we can start carefully choosing the worlds we
use.  You know what I’m saying.  In fact, it’s probably easier to shape the
words we use to describe events and others than it is to shape those we use for
ourselves.  We can be our own worst enemies.  I have a long list that I’ve collected of
negative self-talk phrases.  Things I’ve
heard people say to themselves or perhaps I read somewhere.  For example: 
“I am so stupid!”  “I am such a
klutz!”   “I just never seem to get it
right.”  “I just can’t make any
friends.”  “I never have enough money,
time, energy, etc.”  “My right leg, arm, hip,
etc. is my bad one.”  The
list I’ve compiled has about one hundred negative phrases.  Two others that don’t sound negative but have
that effect are, “I am right!” and “I can do that
better.”  Those two statements may
be vey true but I’m here to tell you (and I know I’m right!) most people don’t
want to be around someone who has all the answers and who willingly will tell
them how to do something better, even if they’ve been asked. 
So, I’m not here to give you any answers.  I am here to propose questions and to tell
you what has worked for me with the same hope as the author of Ten Percent
Happier
.  I want to share the
practice and the words that have made my life better, not perfect, but
definitely better.  The positive
affirmations I have created for myself and that I write about here and in my
book, Creating Positive Affirmations, Living An Intentional Life, have improved
the quality of my relationships, my health, my work and perhaps, most
importantly, my faith.  They aren’t
designed to improve your life.  They
simply serve as an example of what has worked for me and in case your
searching, what may work for you.

My dear friend, Joanne Dawe shared her wisdom with me
many years ago when we spoke about using positive affirmations.  “They have to work,” she said,
“I’ve been using negative affirmations for years and they’ve always
worked.”

Following Your Destiny

Affirmation:  I am following
my destiny.
At 7:00 p.m. on September 9th of this year, 2014, at Barnes and Noble
in Cary, NC., I’m going to have a book signing of my book, Creating PositiveAffirmations, Living an Intentional Life
It’s my first event of this type and I’ve been asking others for advice
about what to say.  Most people tell me
to explain why I wrote the book.  The
book has developed from writing this blog, Creating Positive Affirmations.  Why did I begin writing a blog?  I didn’t know how to blog and to be honest
I’d never even read a blog but I understood the concept and I had found such
strength and peace by creating my affirmations, I wanted others to have that
same sense of well-being.  I began
writing with the hope that I would make a positive difference in other
lives.  I decided that even if my writing
only helped one other person, I would consider it a success.
Have you ever had the seed of an idea that you nurtured and then
saw it grow?  I believe we all have had
the experience of getting an idea and wondering if it’s worth investing
in.  I’m sure there have been both good
and bad ideas that people came up with and went ahead with.  Have you seen the movie or the play The
Producers
?  It revolves around two
men whose idea it is to produce a flop of a play in order to keep all the
investment money.  To them it seems like
a great idea and they go to all sorts of lengths to make sure the play will not
succeed.  They buy an offensive musical
script about Hitler, hire a terrible actor to play the lead and get a group of
inept performers for the chorus.  It’s so
bad, it’s funny and it becomes an immediate success.  Now, they are in trouble.  It’s one example of a bad idea.  Certainly, there are many other examples of bad idea especially those terrible ideas that
injure another in any way.   

There are, however, many many examples of good ideas.  Have you see the car commercial when they
show all the great businesses that began in a garage?  Amazon, Apple, Google, Disney, Hewlett
Packard, Mattel and Harley Davidson are just a few, not to mention all the
famous bands that began in garages.  I
find it inspirational that some people are willing to listen to those inner
urgings and follow through with creating something new and wonderful.   

I’ve had at least two obvious times in my
life, other than when I chose to marry Sandy, when I followed that inner voice,
or maybe God’s voice and seen something wonderful come about.  The first of these was the creation of the
Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat.  At the time of
this entry we are just finishing our tenth retreat, thirty four women breast
cancer survivors attended for four days at the NC beach.  The seed of the idea was planted in me and it
must have been meant to be because once it began to take root, it grew and grew
until we now have this wonderful yearly event to benefit any woman who wants to
come who has been treated for breast cancer. 
It’s been miraculous. 
 

The second time was when I kept writing this blog until I had
enough entries to put together into a book. 
I’ve listened to many people share their desire to write a book.  I never had that desire.  While I love to sit and journal, that’s just
for me.  It’s my way of centering,
clearing and focusing.  I don’t concern
myself with the grammar or the punctuation. 
I just write.  I love the feel of
the ball point pen on the paper and watching the miracle of the words appearing
on the paper.  Writing for an audience
was never part of my plan but here I sit   Sometimes there are things we are simply supposed to do.  I am supposed to write about
affirmations.  I am supposed to share with
others my failings and fears and challenges and how I’ve come to not just
handle those imperfections, but how I am able to neutralize them or perhaps
even turn them into blessings.  I
consider myself to be a fairly normal average person and I believe if I can
make myself better off because I’ve found a way to perceive life from a
positive perspective, most people will also be able to accomplish that and if I
can be of service to even one person and maybe to many more, then that’s what
I’m supposed to do and so I write. This is my 185th blog post.

I write with the hope that I lift the spirits and the hopes of anyone who chooses
to take the time to read these pages, who chooses to read my book.  I write because I feel like it’s my
responsibility, my mission, my destiny. 
I know I cannot cure the world but I can offer what I have learned about hope and about the the tools
necessary to live a fuller, richer more blessed life.  May these words and stories do just that for
you.  May they give you the gifts of
peace and strength and make the world seem less onerous and more beautiful.  May these words empower you and may they help
bring you to a place of serenity and hope. 

Being Worthy

Affirmation: I am worthy.
What determines the worthiness of a human being?  In 1997 the movie Gattica came out staring
Ethan Hawke.  It was a sci-fi film about
genetically altering the human fetus towards a specific occupation.  A child who was born without this alteration
was considered “imperfect” or “inferior” and that human was
deigned useful only for menial jobs. 
Ethan was one of those children born without the advantage of the
sophisticated science of the time.  He
was not happy with his pre-determined role and the movie revolves around what
he needs to do to give the illusion of being one of the perfect people.  As we all know, the science fiction of today
has often become the reality of tomorrow. 
With genetic testing widely available and with the mapping of the Gnome,
the theme of Gattica may not be too far removed from the very near future. 
When I’ve facilitated programs about creating affirmations people
are encouraged to create phrases that do not have any negatives in them.  A few years back, however, I had one person
who had had a very difficult childhood and she decided she was going to use
“not” in her affirmation because it was the best phrase to help her
feel better and so she did.  Most of the
time when we use a negative in an affirmation, our brains ignore the negative
and we wind up doing or feeling exactly the opposite of what we had intended.
She decided she did NOT need to do anything more or be anyone other than who
she was to be of value.  When she shared
her affirmation it was obvious to everyone present that it was going to have a
powerful impact for her even with the word “not” as part of it.
Recently I was involved in an activity that was more than
humbling.  I was actually embarrassed by
what I perceived as my poor performance. 
(If you’ve been following this blog you can probably guess what I was
doing.) I then became annoyed with myself for judging myself so harshly.  For me this was another experience that made
me wonder, what determines the value of a human being? 
When someone is asked, “What do you do?” the answer
generally generates a visceral response in both the questioned and the
questioner.  Have you watched the
physical response of both parties as this question is presented, have you
observed yourself?  I’ve seen the persons
being asked sometimes “puff-up”, stand taller, perhaps their
shoulders go back.  I’ve watched some
people slump over, maybe step back as if they’re preparing for battle.  Then there’s the person’s response when the
answer is given.  For example, if the
answer is, “I’m a brain surgeon” most people would probably have a
different response than if the answer was, “I’m a trash
collector.”  We generally judge and
many times value an individual based on what they “do.” 
I am fascinated by society’s value determination of occupations.  As far as I’m concerned if people were
financially rewarded for their services based on how they benefit society,
sports persons would not be making millions of dollars while teachers eek out a
living.  Movie stars would not be some of
the richest people in our country while those who care for the sick and elderly
barely make minimum wage. 
Where am I going with this? 
I want everyone to feel valued simply because they are a human
being.  My friend was right.  We don’t need to do anything more or be
anybody special to be worthy.  We need to
value each person simply because they are a creation of God.  If we don’t do that it would mean that the
sick, the infirm, the elderly, the mentally ill are of no value.  It will mean that someday society will allow
science to genetically alter or design a human being and those that don’t come
out “perfect” will be relegated to a subservient place or even worse
destroyed.
My faith, the Catholic Church, promotes the sanctity of life from
the womb to the tomb.  I know this is not
a popular concept and I understand how people because of dire circumstances
sometimes want to be in charge of who lives and who dies and when, but it seems
to me it’s a slippery slope towards devaluing the human being and life itself. 
Several years ago I was invited by a dear friend, Ann Baucom, to
join her and a group of women in developing a personal “charter of
compassion.”  I came up with six
steps: Pray, Embrace Silence, Listen for God’s voice, Affirm what is important
to me, Release it into God’s care, and Love, non-judgmentally, non-graspingly
and unconditionally.  When I shared this
charter with a friend, she thought it was too self-centered and not enough
other-centered but I feel I can’t affect
any change in the world until I change myself. 
Each human being is a masterpiece, no matter what the flaws.  The flaws can add color, depth and
texture.  We are each a precious treasure
and with that concept we should know that we are worthy; worthy of respect,
worthy of love, worthy of all the good and prosperity of a Divine
creation.  Once we believe in ourselves,
we will posses the wherewithal to give back to the world.
We can be of service by simply knowing God is always with us and
She is leading us and guiding us.  If we
are listening we will do it with love and honor and compassion.  We are of service if daily we rise with the
intention to bless the world in our thoughts and words and deeds. We can impact
the world regardless of what we do or, are unable to do if we simply hold our
fellow man or woman in our thoughts with blessings and love. I am a perfect
being created by a loving God regardless of what I do or don’t do and so are
you!

Living an Intentional Life

Affirmation:  Everyday I
get to choose how I want to perceive my life experience.
Mo Martin won the Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale in
England this July, 2014.  When she was
interviewed she mentioned her “intention” was to win the
tournament.  At the time she was ranked
99th on the tour and it appeared no one had her listed as a potential
champion.  She ended her win and her
final hole with an eagle, which means she had three shots on a hole on which a good
golfer would normally have five shots. 
As of this writing, I am lucky enough to be in the mountains of
North Carolina and once again I find myself playing golf.  If you follow this blog you know that golf is
not one of my gifts.  It’s something at
which I have to work very hard in order to play somewhat decently and to tell
the truth, I only work on it for the few weeks I’m up in the mountains.  I do, however, love the sport.  I share the time with my husband, Sandy.  He’s an amazing golfer and many times my son,
Joey, is with us.  Sometimes his
beautiful wife, Belen, comes along.  It’s
beautiful up here and the course we get to play on looks like a post card.  It’s so exhilarating when I actually hit that
little ball and it soars away down the fairway towards the pin.  I love it when I putt the ball and it rolls
along and plops in the hole.  I actually
love to watch someone else make a long difficult putt. It almost seems surreal
to me to finally have that tiny ball fall into that tiny spot on this huge
expanse of lawn.  I think a big part of
the excitement for me is that I’m so surprised and delighted when things
actually go better than I even imagined. 
I don’t intend to have a low expectation of my performance but after
years of playing I have come to recognize that I will probably remain a below
average player unless I decide to play more than just the month of July.  However, I always set an intention to do
well, for me, and to enjoy the day.   

The first time I heard the phase “take an intention”
was at a yoga class many years ago.  The
teacher did not provide any other guidance. 
She simply told us to “take an intention for your practice”
and then left us to figure it out.  I
remember it clearly.  The word
“gratitude” popped into my mind and so I embraced it and let it sit
with me for the hour.  Interestingly it
didn’t leave me at the end.  I found it
was with me as I went into the day and here I sit many years later still embracing
gratitude, every day.  When I teach I
always follow that same example.  I
encourage everyone to chant an “ohm” and to bring their palm together
in front of their heart and with their thumbs touching their heart I say
“Take an intention for this time you’re giving yourself.   Any word that comes to mind is
fine.”  And then at the end of our
practice, we repeat the chant and I remind the participants to recall the
intention they took at the beginning of class and encourage them to take it
with them into their day, and perhaps into their lives. 
That simple instruction so many years ago has had a very powerful
impact on my life.  I found myself taking
an intention each morning for the day. 
As I journal and pray in the morning, I wait to see what word or words
come to my awareness and I let them sit with me as I finish my quiet time and
then bring them with me into my day. 
It’s very seldom that something doesn’t come to the surface.  If not, I just let go for the day.  I decided also that I might as well take an
intention for each year.  I only began
this two years ago but it’s been a wonderful gift to give myself.  You may remember that my intention for 2014
is to, “connect to the Divine.” 
It’s been quite a journey so far and I’m looking forward to what the
rest of the year will present. 
When I listened to Mo Martin’s interview, I found her expression
of intent to be of interest.  I assume
she’s a yogini.  Maybe yes, maybe no, but
yogini or not, she has a remarkable attitude. 
She “took an intention” to win!  Yeah, Mo! 
Go girl!  Why not?  She set herself up for success.  She knew it was possible she wouldn’t win but
once she set that intention, she recognized that she could very well achieve
her goal.  She also said even when she
wasn’t playing well, when she wasn’t winning, she still woke up everyday with a
smile and a sense of excitement about being able to play. 
By living an intentional life it means you’ve given thought to
what you want your life to look like.  I
would imagine if you’re reading this you already are someone who is choosing
how to live your life but don’t assume that’s how most of the world lives.  Unfortunately, many people are faced with
such dire challenges they don’t have the energy to focus on choice. Others
simply have chosen not to choose but to let life and fate just play itself out.
Once you begin “taking an intention” you may find your day and
therefore you life takes on a richness that makes you feel like a winner no matter
what challenge life presents or at the very least, you wake up each morning,
like Mo, with a smile on your face and a sense of excitement about being able
to play, the game of life.

Saving the World

Affirmation: I believe that my prayer to help someone in need is
always answered and is supported by God in amazing ways that I cannot even
imagine.
In the book The End of Life Book Club by Will Shwalbe, he
tells the story of his mother’s life. 
The story revolves around her battle with Pancreatic cancer and their
journey through her treatment and as you can figure out from the title, her
death.  They are a two person book club
with either the advantage or disadvantage depending upon your view, of not
having to provide food for the attendees. 
There is a long list of books they read and discuss over the two year
period of her treatment.  It appears they
have always been a two person book club but didn’t “officially”
establish it until they were sharing her final challenge.  It’s cleverly written in that with each book
read, he not only writes about the book but about his mother’s life.  I’ve made a list of each of the books with
the intention of reading some of the ones they shared. Some of them I’ve
already read.  I already know, however,
that I’ll be skipping some of his recommendations.  They are way too disturbing for my
taste.  Just listening to the struggles
of the protagonists on their reading list was enough to remind me of how cruel
the world and fate can be.  He is a
publisher at the beginning of the book. 
His mother is an activist and a heroine. 
She’s in her seventies at the time of her diagnosis and has been a
“first” for women in many fields and areas. For example, she was the
founding director of the Women’s Refugee Commission. 
She was an advocate for
women and children refugees all over the world and she’d traveled to many of
those areas. You can Google her or read the book if you’d like more
information.  Her final project was to
build a library in Afghanistan and she wasn’t going to die until that was
accomplished.  It was built.  I guess she was a lot like Angelina Jolie,
just not a famous celebrity.  I also have
the impression she didn’t have the protection, guidance or ease of travel given
to a famous movie star.  She was in the
trenches with those who most needed help. 
Mary Anne Schwalbe was a courageous and compassionate woman.  Her whole life regardless of the danger of
difficulty, revolved around being of service to others.
This has been a good book for me. 
I live a blessed life of comfort and the older I get the more I seem to
gravitate towards being comfortable. 
That includes an element of safety. 
I have not traveled to “dangerous” places, at least as far as
I believe.  I know sometimes going around
the block can sometimes be dangerous.  I
have, however, been working at seeing the broader, worldwide picture of those
in need.  I know there are people
suffering in ways I cannot even imagine and don’t want to imagine.  My husband, Sandy and I sponsor several
children in different programs around the world. We’ve always contributed to
our church’s appeals and those of nations who suffered natural disasters and we
make every effort to reach out whenever we are directly faced with a need we
can assist.   
Our church, St. Michael the
Archangel, has a sister parish in Honduras and we support that and more
recently we reached out to a charity in Tanzania presented to us by St. Bernadette
Church in Linville, NC.  We’ve also
supported Oie Ostercamp’s Share Fish organization which does work with the poor
in Honduras. Last year, after I read Fr. Albert Haas’ Catching Fire,
Becoming Flame
in order to do something more, I added praying the Rosary
for those “most in need of God’s mercy.”  It allowed me to stay safely in my comfort
zone and yet to become more sensitive and aware of the world’s plight.   I’m sharing these examples to illustrate
that I’ve really tried to be more “world conscious.”  I try to stay informed but not overly
concerned because I feel I only have so much energy and some days just caring
for myself and my family is all I feel I can do.  Let’s face it, the world is a very big place
and here I sit, one of billions of beings. 
What kind of a difference can I make? Yet, when I read about people like
Mary Anne Schwalbe, I wonder what more can I do?  What else can I add to my efforts that might
bring comfort, peace, hope and even joy to those suffering on this planet?
Then recently, one of my study groups began Anthony DeStefano’s, Ten
Prayers God Always Says Yes To.
  One
of the first prayers he offers is, “Please use me to help someone in
need.”  I hesitated.  My initial reaction was to back away.  I fully recognized this was a prayer God
would not deny but what would be required of me in order to follow Her
will?  Would I be asked to travel to a
third world country undergoing revolution or that had just experienced a
devastating weather event?  Would I be
asked to give up all I now have, like the young man in the New Testament and
follow God to poverty and perhaps martyrdom? 
Perhaps even worse would be if more and more was added to my already
full plate and in an effort to do be of greater service to the world, I became
neglectful of where my true service lies, my family and my community.  I could immediately see all the pitfalls of
such a prayer and yet, I felt ready to step out in faith.  I said the prayer.  I’ve been saying it now for several weeks and
as I’ve journaled I found myself relaxing in the prayer, relaxing in my belief
that if I’m called to do God’s work, to be of more service to those in need,
that God will provide the support to do just that.  I am stepping out in faith.  I believe that through prayer not only will I
be of greater service but that I will be given the discernment to know which
requests are from God and which are of my ego. 
Deep breaths, quiet time and prayers from the depth of my heart will
lead me where I am most needed.  Yes, it
could be to some third world country.  I
trust God will come with me there too. 
It could also be to a place I haven’t yet examined, a place within,
which takes me to a marvelous place not so far from where I am now but enables
me to see it in a different light, a light of service right here and right
now. 
 
What do you think?  Are you
willing to step out in faith?  Go ahead,
say it, “God, please use me to help someone in need.”  I hope you’ll let me know what you discover.