Blog
19169
blog,paged,paged-9,stockholm-core-1.1,select-theme-ver-5.1.7,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.0.3,vc_responsive

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.