Happy New Year

The Rowdy Santas are back to wish you a Happy New Year!

The Rowdy Santas are back to wish you a Happy New Year!

By consistently choosing love rather than fear, we can experience a personal transformation that enables us to be more naturally loving to ourselves and others. In this way we can begin to recognize and experience the love and joy that unites us
— Dr. Jerry Jampolsky

We have the choice. We can choose to live in fear or we can choose to live in love. We can choose to believe the best — of ourselves, of others, of life. Fear is a choice to believe the worst. To believe for the best is to choose to believe that there is a Higher Power who responds to our positive attitudes and actions. This is not to discount the pain, sorrow, and disappointment that come with life. But we can choose to move beyond a limiting and fearful view of how life works and learn to practice the kind of optimism that opens the doors of opportunity, change, and blessing.

Optimism is a choice that changes your trajectory. I have found that if you fear the worst, you create what you expect. You make choices out of fear and limit your options. But what would happen if you made choices on the assumption that things would work out? What would life be like if you decided that God was truly interested in helping you, and that difficult people and situations were heaven-sent lessons that could lead to greater personal growth and a better life? Would you like to have the kind of faith that chooses love over fear?

I have found that practical optimism helps grease the wheels of life, releasing energy for growth and change. I have wasted too much energy on fearing what could happen (which never did happen). When really tough things have come along in my life — the things I most dreaded — I discovered that I was cared for and led along step by step. Even when I was facing the death of a loved one, I found that the great loss was tempered by hope, faith, and the love of others who shared my loss. Most of the imagined fears that once drained my energy now seem small and meaningless in light of the larger issues of life. So now I have become more daring, willing to take risks and gamble that love will win over fear every time.

The next time you hear some crazed politician stir up irrational fears or demonize others, stop and think. Is this the attitude and energy you want to bring to your life? Do you want to be manipulated through your fears and anger? Or do you want to be empowered, loving your life and loving others, believing the best instead of the worst. Let 2016 be the year you choose to cultivate your highest vision and live your deepest truth.  

When you look at the world in a narrow way, how narrow it seems!
When you look at it in a mean way, how mean it is!
When you look at it selfishly, how selfish it is!
But when you look at it in a broad, generous, friendly spirit, what wonderful people you find in it.
— Horace Rutledge

Offer Your Best Gifts

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Offer Your Best Gifts 

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive!
Howard Thurman 

Do what you love and more love will unfold. By offering the gift of your time and talents to others, you multiply the good you have already received and generate more positive energy for all. 

Your enthusiasm contributes as much as the actual work you do. If you are already doing what you love and have a special skill to share, be generous with it. If you can’t do what you love, learn to love what you do. Give enthusiastically and count all loving service as an act of faith that sends a signal to the Universe that you are open to unexpected opportunities and new ideas. You never know when a simple loving act can lead to something greater than you can yet imagine. 

Be generous with your time and talent. Don’t be afraid to pitch in and help. You can help build a home, volunteer for a food drive, teach others a craft, or pick up litter on a stretch of highway. Find a need you can meet and give the gift of yourself. 

• Volunteer your time and talents for a good cause. Throw your whole heart into what you do. 

Affirmation: My gifts and talents are received with joy, making a better world for all.

Choose Higher Thoughts Today

Reaching for the Light

Reaching for the Light

When unhappy, one doubts everything. When happy, one doubts nothing.
Joseph Roux

When life feels dark and overwhelming, become aware of your thoughts and actively choose to think better thoughts. Get out of a negative mental rut and decide that you can choose your thoughts, and those thoughts can focus on the good that is already in your life. It may be a simple thing, like a cup of coffee or a helping hand or a warm bed to tumble into at the end of a long day. Stop going over why things went wrong or how someone hurt you or why life is hopeless. 

When you find yourself dwelling on what’s wrong, look for hidden blessings in troublesome situations. Choose to move from negative stories into more positive and creative possibilities. Replace complaints with praise. When you find yourself thinking negatively, create a positive affirmation to replace the negative talk. 

Notice when you begin to lose perspective. Sometimes going to bed earlier is the best antidote to a poisonous mood. Remember to take care of your body, for a brighter outlook can come after a good night’s sleep or a comforting meal. Take care of the physical body with rest, exercise, and good nutrition, and your psychic energy will improve as well. 

Allow the light of love to transform your thoughts and illuminate your life on dark days. Meditate, pray an affirmative prayer, then release your cares to the loving hands of God. Believe that God will make a way where there seems to be no way. Focus on what needs to be done in this moment, trusting Spirit to guide you.


Blessings do not always come gift wrapped in gold. Usually some time after the event, we may speak of great misfortune as being a blessing in disguise. There is both a poetic and an etymological connection between our word bless and the French blessure, meaning "wound." Our wounds confer blessings on us when we embrace them as part of who we are, when we accept that the brightness of our fire also casts shadows. The wounded healer is one who has dived deep into his own vulnerability and sickness, and returned with the gift of compassion as well as a knowledge that can heal others.
Roger Housden, from Ten Poems to Open Your Heart (page 40)


Affirmative prayer

Just for today, I choose my thoughts consciously. I focus on the good that I have. I look for the hidden blessings in difficult situations. I remember how God has been faithful in the past. I trust that God is with me now, and that every affirmative prayer and positive thought I choose aligns me with the grace that can see me through the dark and difficult times. I release this prayer to the law of love, knowing that love works all things together for the highest good. And so it is.

Listening for Guidance

If we have listening ears, God speaks to us in our own language, whatever that language is.
—Mahatma Gandhi

When things start getting crazy, I’m learning to slow down and listen. When I don’t know what to do next, I take time for meditation and stillness in the presence of God. Instead of getting caught up in the chaos of the world, I withdraw to ask for guidance and help. I attune myself to a deeper wisdom that is in harmony with eternal values. 

It is our nature to harmonize with the natural rhythms of the universe, yet we have for the most part forgotten how to do this. In a world in crisis, it is vitally important to regain this lost art, and to attune our lives to the silent pulse that lies beneath all forms and manifestations. 

In his classic book on mindfulness meditation, Wherever You Go, There You Are, John Kabat-Zinn says that meditation “is a door into the timeless, it operates beyond time, underneath time, inside of time, and so allows for transformation without having to strive to get anywhere else, or beat oneself up along the way for being inadequate, or imperfect.” 

You do not have to twist yourself into a pretzel for hours on end or become an enlightened expert on exotic forms of mantras and mental tricks to find the benefits of meditation in your own life. A simple and ongoing commitment to fifteen to twenty minutes, or even five or ten when pressed for time, can be a gentle tool for transformation. As you learn to still your mind and body, you ease yourself out of time-bound restrictions and reactions into the peace and beauty of the eternal here and now.

By withdrawing from the world to listen to the still small voice of God, we learn to love God more deeply so that we can know ourselves more authentically and serve humanity more fully. It is a journey to the Source of love so that we may be that love in the world we inhabit.

We also practice the art of listening presence when we choose to
• listen with all our senses
• open our minds to larger ideas as we release old assumptions
• release that which no longer serves us and embrace our potential for wholeness 
• ask the questions that open us to new patterns that bring life and vitality
• enter into who we are already in the eyes of God
• live our lives with integrity and coherence 
• offer our unique gifts in service to the world

It’s an artful way to approach daily life as well. We ourselves hold the possibility of becoming art—of capturing the genesis moment of creation in the eternal here and forever now of our own lives. This requires an educated eye, a listening ear, a feeling heart, and a spirit attuned to the unfolding wonder of life itself. 

We must teach ourselves to be present and aware, or we will miss moments of glory and rapture. We must be able to listen with all our senses, set the distractions aside, and focus our awareness on what is happening within us and around us. 

As we train our hearts and minds, and awaken our senses, we discover that every moment is a Genesis moment, holding the potential for us to co-create with God. Then we can say, “Let there be…” and we can love our own small everyday world into fullness of being. 


Quotes

I know artists whose medium is life itself and who express the inexpressible without brush, pencil, chisel, or guitar. They neither paint nor dance. Their medium is Being. Whatever their hand touches has increased life… They are the artists of being alive. 
—Frederick Franck

The Secret Path is not alone a path of mind; it may, and should, easily become the forerunner of a path of outer achievement, the more dynamic because it is the more inspired. Its object is not to withdraw men into monastic idleness but to help them work more wisely and more effectively in their own spheres of usefulness. 
—Paul Brunton

Every profound innovation is based on an inward-bound journey, on going to a deeper place where knowing comes to the surface. 
—W. Brian Arthur

I know what the answer is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world. 
—Henry Miller

I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
— Joseph Campbell

If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth that which is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
—The Gospel of Thomas

Become aware of what is in you.
Announce it, pronounce it, produce it, and give birth to it.
— Meister Eckhart

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
—from the Lord’s Prayer

Your name, your sound can move us
if we tune our hearts as instruments for its tone.
Create in me a divine cooperation—
from the many selves, one voice,
one action.
—Neil Douglas Klotz (from an Aramaic translation of the Lord’s Prayer)

I want to know the mind of God. 
The rest is all details
— Albert Einstein


Affirmative prayer

Speak, Lord, for I am listening…
I enter blessed stillness and openness, so native to my soul. 
I find rest after all of the noise and distraction. 
I enter into the Presence.
I am listening…
And as I quiet mind and body, I hear a still small voice.
It whispers the truth I need to hear today,
A loving message from the heart of God to my human heart. 

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

Artist Emily Steinberg Cash at Watermelon Moon Farm sent me a reminder that their Autumn Harvest and Celebration Home Tour happens this weekend, September 11 and 12. It launches the fall festivities: luncheons, classes, crafts, cooking, and a memorable time at the historic Watermelon Moon Farm Bed and Breakfast just outside of Lebanon, Tennessee. Emily and Harold have remodeled and refreshed the shop after the fire this summer, and they are open for business from now through Christmas. Enjoy old-fashioned hospitality at this historic homestead. And if you miss the fall open house, look for the dates for the holiday open house in mid-November. I did a book signing there last year and loved every minute of it (especially the guinea hens!)

Check out their website for more events. 

http://www.watermelonmoonfarm.com/
10575 Trousdale Ferry Lebanon,TN 37090
Phone – 615.444.2356
e-mail – wmmoonfarm@yahoo.com


More inspiration for artful living: 

Sister Joan Chittister says: 

If, indeed, truth is beauty and beauty truth, then the monastic and the artist are one.

Monasticism, in fact, cultivates the artistic spirit. Basic to monasticism are the very qualities art demands of the artist: silence, contemplation, discernment of spirits, community and humility.

Basic to art are the very qualities demanded of the monastic: single-mindedness, beauty, immersion, praise and creativity. The merger of one with the other makes for great art; the meaning of one for the other makes for great soul.


Read the entire post at Huffington Post, August 23, 2010
The Artist and Monk Are One
From "The Monastic Spirit and the Pursuit of Everlasting Beauty," which appeared in The Journey and the Gift: The Ceramic Art of Brother Thomas.