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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!