Blessings
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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.”

Blessings & Friends

I accept my friends as they are, fully appreciate the ways they bless
my life and hold them in my daily prayers.

There has been much written about how a social support system can
bolster one’s immunity.  Not only do they
increase our proclivity towards good health but they can increase our chances
for a long, fulfilling life. 

Relationships take work. 
Two people can meet and experience “love at first sight” but,
if that relationship is to survive, better yet thrive, it usually means it
needs to be nurtured.

Some friendships are low maintenance and others require a lot of
effort.  Friendships can wax and
wane.  How many people have you had in
your life that seemed to just disappear? 
It’s all a natural part of life although sometimes it can be hard to
understand. 

I’ve lived many different places and found myself almost
completely on my own many times, especially those initial days after my husband
and I had just moved.  When we moved to
Norwich, NY, a town of 7,000 people in 1971, I spent my first day in a motel
room with our six week old daughter while my husband began his new job.  The following weeks weren’t much easier but
this little town had a Newcomer’s Club with child care that saved my sanity, if
not my life.  Some of those women (yes,
we were all women) are still in my life and we, my husband and I left there in
1976. 

One of our moves took us to Cincinnati, Ohio.  I felt like I’d landed on the moon.  We arrived there with two small
children.  One of my first calls was to
the local Newcomer’s Club where I was informed I couldn’t join; I wasn’t living
within their accepted boundaries.  And,
such a club did not exist in my area. 
Goodbye!  As I stood there
wondering what I should do next, I saw someone standing at the backyard
gate.  She waved and entered my life, a
new friend.  Thank God! 

While in Cincinnati one woman shared with me that she noticed
some newcomers moving in down her street. 
I asked if she’d gone to meet them. 
“No,” she replied “I don’t have time for any more people
in my life.”  I was glad I hadn’t
moved by her.  That’s when I realized
many of the people in our neighborhood felt the same way.  It made me sad.  It still makes me sad and that was many years
ago.  When we moved from that community
one of the neighbors said to me “Moving again, honey?”  We had been in our home almost ten
years!  The interesting part of this
experience was that those neighbors who maintained a more open, adventurous
approach to new relationships were truly remarkable people, many of whom became
very dear friends and who to this day we still consider dear friends. 

We have now lived in North Carolina for over twenty-five
years.  We’ve been very active in the
Triangle community, supporting, joining and working for many organizations.  We’ve been mostly blessed by the
relationships and friendships we’ve forged. 
I once heard a woman proclaim that once she stopped going to her
children’s school bus stop, she stopped making new friends.  I haven’t been to a school bus stop in over
thirty years but by embracing life, trying new things and staying committed to
those I enjoy, new and wonderful friends keep appearing.  Both my husband and I embrace those good
folks who open their lives, homes and hearts to new relationships. 

We need those relationships. 
We need to have people in our lives, other than family, who care for us
and for whom we care.  Each person in our
life brings a different blessing.  One
may be someone you can go to with health issues, another someone with whom you
play.  Another may be of a similar
spiritual proclivity, while another may not be and cause you to question and
grow.  One may be someone who likes to
take a walk and another who likes to sit and talk.  One may live close by and share in several of
your activities and another may live far away and connects only
periodically. 

Sometimes we choose to end a friendship and at other times that
ending is chosen for us.  When there is a
clear reason for the dissolution of the relationship it can be easier to let go
and move on but when it remains a puzzle, it can be much more difficult to
disconnect.  This rift can create a wound
in the heart that may require a healing balm; prayer, counseling or both.  There is not always a clear vision of why
someone has chosen to drop out of our lives. 
We can find ourselves wondering what we did when many times it had very
little to do with us.  I had a longtime
friend who dropped me very suddenly and no matter how I reached out, there was
absolutely no response.  I couldn’t
imagine what I had done.  Several months
later I ran into a mutual friend of ours and was told she had stopped
contacting him too.  Eventually, we found
out that she was suffering from severe depression and had disconnected herself
from everyone.  It reminded me of calling
someone and having them hang up on me as I stood there wondering what in the
world I had done to cause such a reaction only to find out there was an
emergency taking place.

There are times, however, when it is essential to end a relationship
especially when that friendship has become toxic; when the friendship saps your
energy and is causing you to become unwell. 
When you have done all in your power but to no avail to sooth the
distress this relationship is causing, it is probably time to walk away.  I feel it is best to let that person know you
wish there was another way but for your well-being you need to separate.  It’s never easy, although the other person
probably also recognizes there’s a problem. 
But, even in our difficult friendships there are blessings to be
found.  Even those people who drove us
crazy added to the fiber and the color of our lives.  Perhaps they are the reason we are as strong and
resourceful as we are; by dealing with them we learned how to care for ourselves
without holding onto any ill will.

My favorite friendships are those that develop because of similar
interests and scheduled activities.  They
always seem like the easiest.  These
remind me of baking a cake.  Once I’ve
mixed all the ingredients and poured them into the pan, I simply have to put it
in the oven and watch it rise.  But, not
all relationships afford us with those easy opportunities.  Many of my friendships must be carefully
nurtured to make sure they are sustained and continue to grow.  I may have to do this by setting aside
specific times to share a meal; perhaps it means an email or even an old
fashioned letter.  I love to send
snail-mail birthday cards.  

My goal is to maintain healthy, enriching friendships while also
keeping enough energy to care for myself. 
It can be a very thin line especially with the availability of
connecting via all the latest technologies; email, Facebook, Twitter etc.  It seems every day I decide how much energy
is going into my relationships and how much I must reserve for myself.  One way I do this is by praying daily for my
friends, those far and near, those dear and daunting, those easy and
challenging.  I believe that my prayers will
bless their lives and that way, even if I’m not actively contacting them, they
are in my thoughts and in God’s hands. 
My intention is to value each friend for who they are and what they
bring into my life.  I’m not here to
judge them.  I am here to simply accept
them and whenever possible to love and support them.  It helps me to remind myself “I accept my friends as they are, fully
appreciate the ways they bless my life and hold them in my daily prayers.”
 

Opening to Miracles

Affirmation:  I know by meditating on Jesus throughout my
day, I am in union with the Divine; miracles are created and without struggle
my life is transformed in ways beyond my imagination

My mom has always
been a very self-sufficient, independent woman. 
Truly, her spirit was the reason I went to college.  I was the first generation in my family to
attend and graduate from a university. 
No one encouraged me to go on after high school.  It was 1960 and I was a girl from the blue
collar working class.  My future
according to societal norms and my dad was to develop good clerical skills,
marry and raise children.  But, my mom, a
very smart lady, had tasted the life of financial independence and knew there
were larger opportunities and would nudge me every so often to check them
out.  I guess it didn’t take more than a
little nudge, especially since I was at St. Agnes Academic High School for
girls and was with all these brilliant young women who were planning their
futures and their first step was college.

My mom, Margaret (never
Maggie, Peg or Peggy) moved to North Carolina when she was 75.  She made the move with little help from the
family and started to create a new life almost immediately. She volunteered at
The Food Bank, took a part-time clerical position with a non-profit, became an
officer in the Cary Senior Association and became a Raleigh Ambassador, touring
the city and assisting at dozens of special events, including the Special
Olympics.  She was one of the first
people to join the Cary Senior Center and instrumental in bringing line dancing
to the facility.  (She always loved to
dance.)

She went from
living in a condo, to a senior apartment complex and then to an independent
senior complex with some services.  Then
at 89 1/2 her body seemed to start to shut down.  We did everything in our power, everything,
to make her comfortable, to make sure she maintained her dignity.

The calls for
help came more and more frequently and they were filled with more and more
panic.  My heart ached.  Part of me wished she would be spared the
dying process and just go to sleep and not wake up. We’ve had several friends
and relatives who died in their sleep. 
Ann Landers once said her life goal was “to die healthy.” I
want that too.  I want that for my mom,
for all of us but, that’s not the usual, is it? 
When we took mom to the cardiologist to make sure her heart was ok, he
said “I only hope I have a heart like hers at age 89.” So, I wasn’t
holding much hope for her for a quick, easy death.

The decision I
was faced with after the last panic filled phone call was, “How can mom be best
cared for and who can help me decide this?” Certainly, I was so
emotionally involved I wasn’t very clear-sighted.  I called both her doctors, compassionate,
kind women and they did what good doctors do best, they listened and guided
me.  Then, I called my family.  But, I must say I had been calling my Lord,
the Blessed Mother, all our Angels and Guides for many years and especially for
these last few weeks, asking for them to pave the way, to smooth the path and
to light the dark road of my mother’s care. 
And, on that day of the most recent panic phone call all the forces of
nature and God came together.  For any of
you that have dealt with this kind of situation, you will recognize the hand of
God.

Within the next
six hours mom was living in an assisted living facility.  Her new apartment was completely decorated
and fully operational, even cable TV.  My
husband had immediately come home from work. 
By the time we arrived at mom’s home, my daughter had spoken with the
administrators of her facility and had secured mom a place in the assisted
living facility.  Her doctors came within
the hour and signed all the forms.  My
son brought in lunch and my daughter-in-law took mom to another room in the
building and shared lunch with her and kept her entertained while we dismantled
her apartment and moved everything to her new space.  My brother who lives in another state  “just happened” to have a meeting
close by and was already on his way towards us when I called him.  His wife and daughter were also on their way.

When my
daughter-in-law wheeled mom into her new home, the look on her face said it
all,  even mom’s drapes were
installed.  She said “This is
amazing!” It was amazing.  It was a
miracle!  And, I fully realize I can only
see the tip of the miracle.  All the
forces that had come to support us may never be revealed.  My prayers, the prayers of our family and
friends had all been answered.

What if I lived
my whole life believing God, the Universe, had only miracles in store for
me?  Think of the power I could rely
on.  Think of the calm that would
permeate my mind, body and spirit. 
Think of the joy that would fill my heart!  To truly believe that God wants only my best
and it’s up to me to be completely open and trusting in order to receive the
blessings.  Yes, my job is to stay fully
connected to God, to allow Her to do the work She wants to do.  For me, that means praying incessantly; a
deep breath, sighing the name of Jesus and opening my heart to the miracles of
life.