Jean Anne Costa
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Gratitude and Forgiveness II

Affirmation:  I live a Christ centered life of love, peace, joy, gratitude and compassion.
Thank You!  Thank You!  Thank You! (TYTYTY for short)  Two weeks after I received the “gratitude and forgiveness” message it is still coming in strong.  It doesn’t matter where I turn, the message is there.  I opened two emails I regularly receive and there it was.  I read my daily readings and again, there it was and then, I watched a homily on TV and once again, the message was “praise God in ALL things.”  I took this to mean that I still have a lot of work to do and since I am determined to release all resentment from within and to live a Christ centered life of peace, love, joy, gratitude and compassion, I am fully open to any and all the messages the Universe is sending me.  I am surprised it has taken me this long to absorb this message.  

I’ve been saying the Lord’s Prayer since I learned to talk.  I’ll bet I’ve said it a million times; “…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  It’s a simple message, isn’t it?  But, it’s not an easy message.  Obviously, it’s a very important one.  Of all the things Christ taught us, this was a priority.  Was I just saying the words and never listening to the message?  Am I ready now to fully embrace this concept?  I am.  This, however, is not something I can do on my own.  I think this requires a healing of the spirit and for me that demands I turn it completely over to God, to Jesus Christ.  Once again, a simple concept but for me, a life skill I am still developing.  Mind you, I am not being asked to forget, but to forgive. The world can be a dangerous place.  There are a lot of terrible things going on.  Many people suffer great injustices.  How do we let go of those experiences and find the blessings in them?  It is possible?  I believe it’s only possible with supernatural assistance.

I once heard the author of Salvation on Sand Mountain Dennis Covington speak.  He was a reporter at the time and his assignment was to visit the churches that had the practice of handling snakes.  It says in Mark 16:17-18 (NIV) “18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all …” He got caught up in the whole practice and eventually wrote the book.  What I remember most about his story is the question he asked, “What if you truly believed?”  What would you be willing to do?  What would you feel you could do if you truly believed?  What kind of faith is that?  After much thought I came to the conclusion that we all have “snakes” that we handle.  What if our faith was strong enough that we believed those poisonous “snakes” could do us no harm:  cancer, heart disease, abuse, violence, depression & anxiety, betrayal and abandonment?  What if my faith was so strong I could not only trust that God had a plan for my life and this was simply a part of it but also that I could handle it and be grateful for it, without my being bitten or poisoned? 
I know this is an aberration of what the religious snake handlers believe but this is what I decided.  The message is about the strength God gives us should we choose to believe.  It’s not about the snakes; it’s not about what’s happening outside of us.  It’s all about what’s happening inside of us.  It’s how we perceive the dangers and troubles of this life.  It’s not about what happens to us.  Stuff happens.  It’s about how we perceive what happens to us and we are called, for our own sake and the sake of others, to be grateful for all things and to forgive at all cost. 
When a new friend visited me in my home and brought with her the gift of TYTYTY and the message about letting go of all resentment and embracing total forgiveness, she shared a mediation she uses throughout her day.  She graciously agreed to let me share it with all those reading this.

Deep Breath, close your eyes & imagine your crown chakra opening up.  Send white light (perhaps the healing light of the Holy Spirit) through your crown chakra down thru your brain, then filling your sinus cavity, mouth, throat, down down to filling your shoulders, chest cavity, stomach, take time in filling your hip area with the white light, then down down thru your legs & feet down down to the center of the earth.  So now you’re connected by the light from heaven to the center of the earth.  Gently open your heart chakra & let the light fill your heart, now the love & energy from your heart mixes with the white light.  Now feel the emotion of gratitude.  Say “tytyty” over & over, turn up the volume, make the pictures brighter, take that emotion of gratitude times 10.  Make n bubble of that mixed energy (white light, heart energy, gratitude) the size of your heart.  Now expand the bubble around you, marinate in the energy for a bit.  Now expand the bubble to the size of the room you are in.  Then expand to how ever big you want.  Marinate.  Then gently open your eyes, notice how much brighter the colors are, shapes are 3-D, smells are stronger.  Take this vibration of 1,000 with you the rest of the day.  Repeat meditation as often as needed throughout the day.  

May you find the tools that enable you to fill all your days with peace, love, joy, gratitude and compassion.

November 11, 2011

Affirmation:  This is the day the Lord has made, let me rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 119:24
Where were you on 11:11 (AM), 11/11/11?  What were you doing?  Who were you with?  What is your memory of this time and day which will never again occur in your lifetime or mine? 
I was lucky enough to be taking a walk.  I was caring for my grandchildren.  Isabelle was fourteen at the time and she chose not to come with me and Owen was eleven and at a friend’s.  So, I claimed some time to exercise and to savor the beautiful fall day.  I headed to the lake near my home.  As I rounded the back-end, I happened to look at my watch.  It was 11:09 am.  My daughter-in-law had spoken about all the predictions swirling around concerning the 11/11/11 date, none of them very uplifting and so I was even more aware of the date.  When I realized how close it was to 11:11 (AM), 11/11/11, I stopped.  I stood still breathed in the cool air and watched the water shimmer and the colors of the leaves glow in the sun.  I was fully alive in that moment.  I felt only a sense of peace and gratitude.  As I stood there two neighbors added to the moment with smiling greetings and I wondered if a moment could be any more perfect and then it was gone, never again to repeat itself in my lifetime or in yours.
As I started walking again, I realized every moment of my life is exactly like that one.  It’s the only one I will ever experience in this lifetime.  Certainly, it would be beyond anyone’s consciousness to be totally present to every moment they live but is it possible to be present to more of our moments?  What practices, disciplines have you developed that bring your mind, body and spirit into unity?  When have you ever felt complete?
That’s the focus of yoga.  It’s the meaning of the word: unity:  a practice that brings together the mind and the body.  Some people find that unity in prayer, others mediation.  I have a friend who tells me it’s when she’s doing plenair painting, another when she’s writing her gratitude list.  I can experience that fully alive moment as I journal in the mornings.  I think once you’ve felt it and choose to practice returning to that state with whatever discipline you have found effective, you will be able to live more fully in more and more of your life’s precious moments; like now, right now.  Take a deep breath, look up, take it all in and know this is the only moment of this time you will ever experience; relish it, glory in it!

Gratitude and Forgiveness

Affirmation:  I Embrace the gratitude and wisdom of ALL my life experiences and let go of any emotional baggage. 
Have you ever experienced a barrage of psychic messages coming at you day after day?  Perhaps you have but you didn’t label it like that.  It’s the kind of experience when one concept presents itself and then day after day, the same concept comes up.  It can appear in the form of a person sharing their knowledge or experience.  It can appear in written word.  It can appear in the media in something you just happen to see.  Perhaps your minister or whoever is your spiritual guide speaks of it.  You get the picture.
I have had the blessing of being bombarded with the topic of gratitude and forgiveness.  It first arrived in the form of a new friend.  She met me at a dinner and reached out to get to know me better.  That in itself was delightful and affirming.  But, much to my surprise, she brought all sorts of gifts with her.  Her main focus for her new found joy was “gratitude.”  She spoke about the impact it had on her life.  She then took just a few minutes to share her “gratitude mediation” with me.  How wonderful to have someone visiting who would willingly share her new found passion in such a powerful way.
Of course, I began searching myself and my life for a sense of gratitude.  I consider myself a very positive person, so I didn’t think it would be very challenging.  I had even found reasons to be grateful for breast cancer.  And, I am sure if you speak with many other cancer survivors they will tell you they have accomplished that also.  And then, the message morphed.
I was not only to be grateful, I was also to be forgiving, forgiving of all those events and people who I perceived as injuring me and of course, the most difficult of all to forgive, myself.
The message came at me full speed.  There was nowhere to hide.  It came from everyone I spoke to, it came from the readings at church, it came from any event I attended.  It was in my daily mediation readings; forgive and be grateful.  “Be grateful for every single thing and person that has been in your life no matter how difficult it or they may have been.  Find a way to see the blessings.”  The message was that the only way to be fully alive, to fully embrace my life was to let go of all resentments. 
Oh, this wasn’t the first time I had heard that but perhaps now I was ready.  Wayne Dyer in his Ten Steps to Happiness says “There are no justified resentments.”  And, I actually have printed his ten steps up and have them in a frame on my bathroom counter but this is even more powerful.  Not only am I now being told not to justify the resentment, I am being told to completely release the resentment.
Well, I thought, I don’t really have a lot of resentment towards many people.  I like most people.  Then, I went to a Heart’s Journey retreat.  It was part II on forgiveness.  As far as I was concerned I only had one or two people I needed to forgive.  Well, I didn’t really need to forgive them.  I wasn’t really angry.   I recognized my part in whatever unpleasantness had happened. 
And then, Joan Junginger led us in a forgiveness mediation and people I loved and people I hadn’t thought about in years appeared.  I was shocked.  Was I really holding all this resentment within me?  I guess I was.  What was that about?  Ego!  Who was that serving?  No one!  How was that blessing my life?  It wasn’t!  Actually, it was the opposite.  It was detracting from my sense of peace and joy.  I fully understood what I had been doing to myself.  I had victimized myself.  These people were going along just fine.  They didn’t have a clue I was even thinking about them and they really didn’t care.  And, I let it go.  I released it. 
I woke the next day feeling lighter, feeling healed, feeling wiser.  I decided it was the gift of a lifetime.  I wish I could have absorbed it earlier in life but at least I finally got it.  It makes me smile to realize I will now have the power to go through the rest of my life with my energy focused on love and gratitude and not on resentment and bitterness.  I know this is not a one step process.  It will be mediation, a constant reason for prayer.  It’s something I will need to keep in my consciousness on a moment to moment basis.  But, I want to live a fuller, richer, more Christ centered life.  And, I know, as with all things, it begins with how I perceive my life, how I perceive myself.  And, that is my greatest power; to determine how I want to perceive and so, from this day forward:  I Embrace the gratitude and wisdom of ALL my life experiences and let go of any emotional baggage.  How would you phrase this?  Do you believe it will improve the quality of your life and all those whose lives you touch?  What would be your first step towards healing?  Truly, the first step is to recognize any resentment, especially those towards yourself. Release them, release yourself. 


Affirmation:  I am valued.  I am worthy.  I do well.
Steve Jobs founder of Apple, died in October of 2011.  Two weeks later, a biography written by Walter Isaacson was released.  He was also interviewed on 60 Minutes.  Certainly, this was a unique man.  He changed the face of IT and the way the world saw and used all sorts of technological equipment.  From reading about and listening to stories about Mr. Jobs, it becomes very obvious that he thought very differently than most of the world.  A phase that has appeared quite often is “skewed reality.”  He saw things a certain way and his perception was his reality. 
I know that’s true for most of us but there are several lessons to take away from the story of his life.  Because he created his own reality, when he was told something could not be done, he didn’t believe it and so he found a way to get it done anyway.   That’s why we now have I Phones and I Pads and several other ingenious creations.  So, his “skewed reality” served him quite well in the business world but it didn’t serve him well in his personal life.  He refused to believe his girlfriend’s baby girl was his child.  It took 16 years and a paternity test before he’d acknowledge his child.  He also refused to believe he needed to be treated for pancreatic cancer in a timely fashion.  He was so sure he knew his body better than the physicians who specialized in this horrible disease that he chose to treat himself.  He was wrong.  Oh, I understand looking for alternative treatments for cancer but sometimes, we need expert advice.  We need it and we need to adhere to it if we are to truly take care of ourselves. 
One of the stories about Steve Jobs is that as a child when confronted by another child about his adoption, he became very upset.  The other child asked him how it felt to know he was abandoned by his birth parents.  His adopted parents gave the perfect answer to his question of abandonment.  They explained to him that they had chosen him from all the other children in the world.  For most of us, that would be enough to help us feel better and to value ourselves.  Steve Jobs took it to a whole new level.  He said from that moment on he knew he was not abandoned, he was CHOSEN.  Wow! 
What do you think you might have accomplished with your life if you believed from the moment you could reason, that you were chosen.  What do you think you’d feel like today, if you believed you are chosen?  It’s amazing to me that some people no matter how they’re told they are of value, they are loved, they are worthy, choose not to believe it.  It’s amazing to me that simply by changing the perception of a concept, we can change the way we respond to it.  Of course, we are chosen, each and every one of us.  We have been chosen by the greatest Father of all time. 
I watched on TV a young woman speak about her disastrous financial status because of an adjustable rate mortgage.  She was losing her “home.”  She was devastated.  Suzie Ormond spoke with her for a while and then explained to her that she had not lost her home.  She still had her three children with her and she still had her job.  She had lost her “house.”  Her home was wherever she and her children were.  It was like a light went on in this woman’s body.  Her whole demeanor changed within just a few minutes.  I know she was still facing a very sad and difficult situation, but it was so clear, that by seeing it in a different light, she was already feeling stronger, valuable and worthy.
What we choose to say to ourselves affects every aspect of our lives.  Certainly we need to do a reality check.  We can’t claim to be 6” taller when we know we aren’t growing anymore.  But, if our self talk is rational we can claim just about anything we want to.  We can claim to be joyful, peaceful, healthy, generous, kind, loving, prosperous, talented, accomplished, charismatic.  Find the words you want to claim for your life.  Find them, write them out and let them permeated every cell of your being.  Once day, you will look around and realize those words are you.  Choose carefully, dream large. 

The Daily Treasure

Affirmation:  This is the day the Lord has made, let me rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 119:24
When my husband, Sandy, speaks he reminds his audience that this day is a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”  Certainly I am aware of that but truth to tell, for me, it is a meditation.  I need to remind myself continually that all there is, is this present moment and that this is the only time I will have this day.  And then I heard it phrased another way. 
A woman I know was telling a story about trying to get ready for her bible study.  She was running late and her husband kept reminding her that she was going to be late.  He was concerned.  She said she finally said: “Honey, this is the only October 20th, 20(  ) I will ever have in my life, ever!  You’re right, I am going to be late.”
When I woke the next day, I started my day with prayer and journaling, as I normally do.  At the top of my journal I always put the date.  That was the first day I fully wrote out the date.  Up until this time, I simply put the numbers but I didn’t do that.  I wrote it out and I repeated to myself: “This is the only October 21st, 20(  ) I will ever have in my life.”  And then, I thought about my day, this “once in a lifetime opportunity.”  What did I want it to be like?  What did I want it to include, exclude?  How did I want to respond to it?  What was so important to me that I didn’t want to miss it?  I felt that by naming the day I was responding to it differently than I normally would.  It became more valuable.  I also found that every time I saw or wrote the date, I was reminded of its value.
We do value things that are rare, don’t we?  We place a greater value on rare works of art, antiquities and other treasures.  Well, this is a treasure rarer than anything we can put a price on.  It’s our life, our existence, our opportunity.  I’m sure that was what the psalmist was saying when he wrote “This is the day the Lord has made, let me rejoice and be glad in it.”  I just needed it phrased a little different to fully appreciate what I’d already been affirming for many years.

Childhood Limitations

Affirmation:  I let go of my childhood limitations.
How can one be over the age of 50, 60, 70 and still be restricted or controlled by emotions and concepts that influenced them as they were growing up?  How can one not?  I’m speaking about those emotions and concepts that deter us from true joy, that interfere with our ability to completely savor and embrace life.  And, is it even possible to release oneself, to become an adult in one’s own right?  Is it possible to grasp the positive qualities that serve us and our loved ones and let go of those, perhaps at least acknowledge and appreciate the experience but then let go of those concepts that are damaging us?
I am my mother’s main caregiver.  I am very blessed because at 90 she is still extremely healthy and independent.  There are three siblings.  My brother has been remarkable in his efforts to care for our mom even though he lives five hours away.  My sister is even further away and needs her energy to care for herself.  But, we know she is always there for us. 
I’m the oldest and mom chose to move near me over 15 years ago.  She made the move all by herself.  She likes to be independent and self sufficient.  It empowers her as it probably does most of us.  It also isolates her and makes my efforts to reach out confusing and extremely frustrating.
I feel like I am expected to support her in many ways but I’m simply suppose to figure it out myself, perform the act or acts, and then not let her know I did it.  I’m sure you can see the dilemma  My prayer for Mom is that she will continue to have joy and maintain dignity as she finishes out her life.  I only want to love her and enjoy her presence. I want to be the “good little girl” and make her happy.  I want to “fix” it.  I want to be her savior.  I want to take whatever steps needed to help her feel better, to make her happy.  I’m 65 years old and the child in my still wants to please my mother but I know, this is a fact, that no matter what or how much I do, I cannot please her long term.  I cannot make her happy.  Sister Mary Margaret from A Place for Women to Gather says, “Happiness is an inside job.”  There is only one person who can make us happy, us. 
That’s why I create affirmations.  It’s all up to me what I think, how I perceive life, how I feel.  I cannot remain the good little girl and live frustrated and sad because of anyone. I must let go of ALL my childhood limitations and embrace my own adult determination to create my own happiness.  Have you looked at your childhood limitations?  Are they interfering with the quality of your life?  Can you too release them?  Do you want to?


Affirmation:  I am always manifesting.  I manifest to my highest and best.
Do you find it easier to like or to dislike people?  Which do you think more people lean towards, acceptance or rejection?  I happen to be someone who likes almost everyone from the first moment, unless something happens to reverse my opinion but there are peole who dislike almost everyone, unless something happens to reverse their opinion.
The latter must be a safer way to exist in this world.  Think of all the disappointment and hurt you’d av0id.  It’s like expecting to fail a test.  You know how that works.  You expect a failing grade and so you aren’t surprised you didn’t do well and pleased if you get even a “D”.  You are pleased with whatever comes along because your expectations were so low.  Do you want to get a “D” in life or worse yet, an “F”?  Does that add to your happiness or detract from it, always expecting so little from people, from life?
My husband says “Pessimists are right 100% of the time.”  I think they’re usually right and once in a while are shocked to discover they are not.  My affirmation is:  I am always manifesting.  I manifest to my highest and best.  Of course, the opposite is true too but how would that serve me; how does it serve the world or God to believe, to fall into the pits of despair and rejection?  I’m not speaking about clinical mental illness like depression or anxiety.  Those are maladies beyond the solo help of positive thinking.  I am speaking about the healthy individual who chooses to see the world and the people in it as less than creatures of extra ordinary beauty and grace.  Imagine if we embraced each other with love, dignity and grace.  Imagine if we gifted each other, those we easily love and those that are more challenging, as the glorious God created creatures they are?  Yes, we need to have healthy boundaries.  Most of us cannot take home, allow in, every person we encounter either physically or spiritually but we can grace everyone we see and meet today with a smile and a prayer for their well-being; a blessing that will bring kindness and ease to all those we encounter.  A blessing which will reflect off them and back onto us and create an energy in the world that just may bring some peace and harmony not only in our little piece of this earth but into the entire universe. 
It is easier to hate than to love.  Choose love, choose kindness, choose gentleness.  Manifest the light of God.  Make your world and the whole world a better place at least for today, and hopefully for every day afterwards.   

Comfort Zone

Affirmation:  I am either green and growing or ripe and rotten.
The conversation revolved around the question, “What did you learn today?”  I like to learn.  I am always looking for opportunities to gain more information, more knowledge.  Maybe that’s the reason I went back to school and did a Masters in Social Work as an “older” adult.  There is a lot of information out there, however, and I know I can only absorb so much.  So, I am fairly selective about what I choose to let in.  But, I do love to learn and my intention is to never stop. 
When I spoke to this very sharp elderly woman who had just moved to an adult facility, she told me that she was determining who she would choose as her dinner partners based on the question, “What did you learn today?”  She said the number of people who tell her they not only didn’t learn anything today but also didn’t do anything today, was staggering.  She didn’t intend to have dinner with any of them.
I think when we are always looking to learn, it means we have to step outside our comfort zones.  If we stay in that box where we feel safe, we seldom will see or hear anything new.  We have to be brave.  We have to step out there.
I like to go to an aerobics class at my gym.  There’s quite a large group that shows up regularly.  There’s also a regular teacher and we always do about the same type of moves.  It’s not very exciting, but it does get my heart rate up and burn up a few calories.  Today, we had a new teacher.  She was enthusiastic and very knowledgeable, but her approach to the class was different than the other teacher.  She announced that she would be adding two dance routines to the program.  I love to dance.  I dance whenever the opportunity presents itself.  I have been accused of being drunk quite a few times because of my total abandonment when I dance.  (I was not drinking.)  So, I thought it was a great idea.  Besides, it was new and different and maybe I’d learn something.  I must say when she turned that music on and the class began to shimmy and shake, the energy level in that room soared.  We did both dances and I thought it was great fun.  (I would wouldn’t I?)  But, when the 2 dances were over, I looked around and realized several people had left the class.  They’d never left the class when the usual teacher was there.  And, besides the leavers, people were grumbling about this type of exercise being inappropriate for their age.  Oh, yuck!  I was amazed.  I judged.  I thought this would be for me, just like the lady I met who was filtering people based on their daily experiences; I probably wouldn’t want to spend time with those people who weren’t open enough to experience something a little different than their normal.
What do you think?  I know life is short and sometimes we just shouldn’t be bothered doing things that we don’t like.  But, if you don’t at least give it a try, how will you know?  How will you grow?  Step outside of your comfort zone.  Do something every day that challenges you.  If you don’t your world will become small and smaller until you shrivel up and fall off the vine, like a rotten piece of fruit.  Choose growth, choose adventure, choose learning, choose life. 


Affirmation:  I embrace and savor all joyful experiences.
My mother-in-law turned 91 this year.  Have you ever wondered what you’d be like in your old age, or if you’ll even have an old age? (That’s a whole other topic.)  My mom, Margaret is 89 this year.  My mother-in-law is named Yolanda.  They both live independently and are lucky enough to live in adult communities that offer not only a myriad of services but easy access to community.  They are also in very good health. 
My husband and I traveled to see Yolanda for her birthday.  She lives near Sandy’s twin brother, Billy and his wife.  I spent the weekend soaking in the joy that Yolanda eludes.  She had counted her birthday cards and read each one to us and told us about the people who sent them, if we didn’t’ already know them.  If we did know them, she told us about them anyway.  She told us how wonderful they all are.  How kind and talented and smart they are.  It’s such fun to listen to her take pleasure in her family and friends.  She’s one of the most non-judgmental, unconditionally loving people I have ever met.  I’ve been blessed by having her for a mentor and a friend.  I’ve learned so much from this woman who readily accepted me as her daughter simply because her son loved me. 
We moved away from the New York area very soon after her first granddaughter was born.  Melissa was six weeks old and we moved to a farm town five hours away.  They must have been so unsettled by our decision.  But, they never let on, neither she nor Sandy’s dad, Joe.  They simply showed up any chance they got bringing home cooked meals and gifts galore.  I was young.  I was a little defensive about keeping my own space, my own house and I didn’t fully appreciate what a gift I was being given.
She now lives in Savannah.  She moved there right before her 90th birthday.  We drove her to the airport; she got on a plane and began a whole new life.  I was in awe.  I can only hope that when I’m 90 I will have the gumption to make a lifestyle change, of my own choice. 
I have read that most people remember their negative or sad experiences better than they remember their positive, happy experiences.  It seems we have a tendency to dwell on the negative and sad and to simply notice the joyful experiences but not to absorb them.  The advice given was that we take more notice of the uplifting events; that we let them soak into our cellular structure by savoring them, not letting them slip by unvalued.  
There are so many lessons to learn about life from Yolanda.  I’m sure you have people in your life from whom you too have learned a lot.  But, the one I took away from sharing this celebration with her was how important it is to savor the joys of our lives.  I believe it will color our attitude, our health, our quality of life not only now but for the rest of our lives and then maybe we too can be 89 or 91 or 100+ and giggle and enjoy all the wonderful moments and celebrations of our lives. 


Affirmation:  I love to make music.  I am patient with myself and I know with time and perseverance each practice session makes me a better player and better is good enough.
Sometime in 2005 my daughter’s boyfriend asked me what I would like to do that I hadn’t yet done.  Actually, the question revolved more around the fact that I have less time going forward than I have looking back.  What would I do if I had all the time in the world?  I immediately answered, “I’d learn to play the fiddle.”  I was stunned.  Where did that come from? 
My Uncle Frank played the violin.  I never heard him play but I knew that he belonged to a senior orchestra and that a lot of my aunt and uncle’s social life revolved around his music. 
Most of my activities are very physical.  I practice yoga; I like to walk and swim; I love to go to the gym and take some sort of class.  I play golf.  I thought it would be nice to have something I could do sitting down.  Something that wasn’t so physical.  That statement alone should be an indication of how little I knew about playing the violin or as I refer to it, the fiddle.
What’s the difference between a fiddle and a violin?  The violin has strings and the fiddle has “strangs.”  One of the children at the Walker Family Strings Camp told me that joke.  I’ve been gong there for the last four years.  I’m usually the oldest and the least accomplished student at the camp. 
I’ve had at least six different teachers and I’ve been to summer camp and to my favorite place in the world, The John C Campbell Folk School, to participate in group classes.  I practice too.  I usually practice about four or more times a week.  Now, I attend a class at the senior center.  There are about five of us and the most wonderful teacher I could ever imagine.  She’s gifted, kind, fun and forgiving.  I also belong to a group called FFUG.  I believe it stands for the Fuquay Fiddles (I can’t imagine what) Group.  We meet every Monday evening for about 3 hours and play.  There are about ten people in the group. 
The first time I showed up at FFUG, I could not play a single note with the other gal who was there.  Her name is Janie and that night I drove about a half hour to her house.  I was the only one who showed up and I’d never played with other people.  But, she took me in and told me about the “ten year program.”  Janie was on that program.  She had given herself ten years to be able to play the fiddle in a decent manner.  What a discovery that was for me.  I didn’t need to be perfect right away.  In fact, I didn’t need to be a great or even a good player after several years.  I could take ten years to get to where I thought I should be.  I could take ten years and then, I could take another ten years.  There is no rush. 
When I told another friend I had taken up the fiddle, they told me they’d never do that.  They’d want to be able to play right away.  They didn’t have the patience for that long a process.  I also know a lady who decided after she retired to play in a Bluegrass band.  She ordered a wash board and thimbles from the internet and now, she’s performing with the band she joined.  I have thought maybe I should try a drum or a triangle but I must tell you, I love the fiddle. 
I love the sound, even when it isn’t the best sound.  I love sitting with it in the evening all by myself playing the songs I’ve learned and working on new ones.  Picking out the notes and the rhythm and eventually finding the melody.   And, I love the people I’ve met because of the instrument and the places it has taken me.  It’s been a great gift I’ve given myself. 
I have to remind myself how I feel about it because I am very hard on myself.  It is the one area of my life where I am very shy.  I don’t mind playing with a group and blending in knowing my mistakes are hidden by the good notes of the others but when called upon to play by myself for someone else, I hide. 
I’ve tried to come up with an affirmation for this learning experience and it has been very difficult.  None of them sound good enough.  Perhaps, that goes along with how I feel about my playing; it’s not good enough.  But, what I have discovered is that while I don’t have any innate talent for the fiddle, none.  Every time that I pick it up to practice, I get a little bit better.  I can find the notes a little easier, my bow hold is more comfortable and my stroke more fluid.  I read the music a little easier and there’s a nicer sound, less scratching and screeching.  I actually may be able to play decently by the time I’m 90 or perhaps 100.  Maybe the affirmation is simply:  I love to make music.  I am patient with myself and I know with time and perseverance each practice session makes me a better player and better is good enough.  What about you?  Do you have anything in your life you’re working on?  Anything you wish you were great at, anything you feel shy about?  What affirmation would you create to keep you going or would you keep going?