Sunday, December 31, 2017

Get Ready for 2018

A new year is a new beginning. It is time to get rid of what you don't need in the new year and make room for a better year.

This is copied from a website you might enjoy, Advice from a 20 Something. While I'm far from a 20 something, the advice is good for all of us.

Have a better year

Have a great 2018. Make it your best yet.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Make Hope Happen in the World

We can make hope happen . First we program our minds with thoughts that the future will be better than the present because we have the power to make it so.

The future may be in the next hour, day or year. It all depends on what you want to happen. You need a clear vision or goal of what exactly "better" means. And then you need to see yourself as lead actor in you life.

Remember, every thing we do is a choice and every choice has consequences. When you decide to change your life you make choices that will move you in the direction of your vision or goal. So you DO have the power to make it so.

True. there will be obstacles, maybe setbacks, but with your eye on your goal you will keep moving toward it.

Keep thinking and feeling hopeful. Try "nexting", that is thinking and talking about the next thing, the next step, the next event, the next activity with anticipation and hopefulness. When we allow ourselves to focus on "no" and negative outcomes we lose hope. And hope gives us the energy and momentum we need to succeed.

Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D., Gallup Senior Scientist, and author of Making Hope Happen, has collaborated with other psychologists and educators around the world to research the science of hope. They found that how we think about the future  is a key determinant of success in school, work, and life determines how successful folks are. They found that hope leads to a twelve percent gain in academic performance, fourteen percent bump in workplace outcomes, and a ten percent happiness boost for hopeful people. The learned that hopeful people get  better grades in school. Hopeful salespeople sell as much product in six days as their low-hope colleagues do in seven days. And high -hope people are just plain happier than their low-hope friends.*

So hope is important for all of us. Let's make it happen in our own lives and share it with others. Imagine the world full of hopeful people and how much better it could be.

*Lopez, Shane J., Ph.D., Making Hope Happen, Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Where There Is Light There Is Hope

How hopeful are you about your future? about our country? about the world? Think about it.

We see so many tragic things in the media that it is easy to think there is nothing to look forward to. Our sense of helplessness to change the direction of our life or our country or the world can point us in the darkest of directions. We don't know that there is anything we can do. And depression is the by-product of this thinking.

But we have hope,although we deny it. The reality is that we can create our own hope. And hope matters. Hope is a choice.Hope can be learned and hope can be shared. (Making Hope Happen, Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others  by Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D., Gallup Senior Scientist)

Hope matters. Without hope we would do nothing to make things better.

Hope is a choice. We can choose to look for ways to change things or we can sit and stew in what we deem is a hopeless situation.

Hope can be learned. We may have developed a hopeless attitude. But we can unlearn that and find the hope in everything.

Hope can be shared with others. When we express hopefulness and act on our hope we share hopefulness with others. We can create ripples of hope that spread far beyond us.

Create hope.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Where Do You Find Light?

In many lives these days there is great darkness, evil, torture, rape, violence, war, hatred. Around the world there are conflicts that bring unbearable circumstances to civilians, to women and children and the elderly, innocents caught in the midst of war and violence. We see it on the screens in our homes. And even though we ourselves are not experiencing it, it affects us.

We have our own places of darkness, past and present. Things we have experienced, may still be experiencing. We anguish over situations we cannot control. We get overwhelmed by the weight of it all - our darkness, the darkness of others, of the world. It can break our faith. It can bring us to the brink of giving up.

But we still want to make the world better. We want to make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others. To do that we must search for light. We must overcome the darkness with light. If we see only the dark we will believe that is all there is. It is important that we find light in our lives and that we bring light into the lives of others.

What to do? Nothing. Stop struggling to find the light. Acknowledge where you are, who you are, what you are. and allow the stillness to open you to the light. Practice mindfulness. Find the light that is within you. 

This video from YouTube may help lead you.

Be the love and light that you are.  

Sunday, December 17, 2017

So Have We Lost Momentum?

It is so easy these days to feel overwhelmed and helpless to change things, to make more good things happen, to confront the conflicts, to stand up for what we believe. So we don't do much of anything to make the world better.

But it doesn't have to be like that. We don't have to simply watch what is happening in our lives and those around us. We each have a purpose.that in some way serves to make the world better. Find yours and get moving.

"This talk is designed to help people transform from being life spectators into change catalysts. Many people spend a lifetime trying to discover their personal purpose and yet few actually live a life pursuing that purpose. This talk will motivate people to act on their personal purpose in life and empower transformation."

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Happy Holy Day

"Holy Day", the origin of the word "holiday" helps define the season for many religions. No matter what faith you follow, I just want to remind you to honor the holy.

Of course we would do well to honor the holy everyday. But it is good to set aside special days to focus on the holy in our lives, in our world. There is holiness in everything if you consider it. Creation is a holy activity. Everything that is created has holiness in it.

That means all of us. We are all part of the holiness of life. Take the next few weeks and purposely look for opportunities to honor holiness in your life, in the life of those around you, in nature, in all that is. Consider what that could mean.

What might you remove from your life that clears you, that makes space for holiness?

What would life be like if more of us honored the holy in life, if we created a more holy world?

How might you live a holy life?

Be the sanctuary.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Is This The Year?

Is this the year you do holiday gifting differently? Or will you still give gifts the recipient doesn't need and may not even want? Will you spend more money than you can afford doing it?

Or will you give to charity in honor of your friends and family, like the Heifer Project, Plan International, and Save the Children? Did you know you can make a real difference in someone's life for as little as $15?

Why not buy a smaller gift for your family and friends and give a donation to someone who really needs it? We like to do that and then clip the descriptions of the donations and put it with the small gifts that we wrap.

It makes a difference in someone's life who has so much less than my family. And it teaches my family about giving differently. Recently my daughter said what she wanted me to do for her birthday was to donate winter scarves to the homeless. I think she gets it!

Check out  ,, and as examples.

Give 'til it helps!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

You Choose

Choices, we make them all day every day. And the choices we make determine what happens next. Our present is a result of choices we've made before this moment. Think about it.

This morning you chose to get out of bed. You may not have wanted to get out of bed, but you chose to because doing so would bring you closer to something you want or would help you avoid negative consequences. It is this that makes every behavior a choice.

Making a decision is often so natural, habitual, or subtle that we think we didn't even make the decision. But when you come right down to it, every behavior is a choice. And each choice creates what happens in our life. We either move toward our goals or or away from them.

When I worked as a counselor with prison inmates they had trouble with the idea that they chose to be in prison. But even if they weren't guilty of the crime they were convicted for, their lifestyle, the people in their lives, their financial status, everything was a result of a string of choices that ended up with them being in prison. And how they dealt with incarceration was also a choice, their personal power.

So it is with all of us. Thankfully, we can make different choices and get right back on track. Like driving in the city, you make a wrong turn and just have to go around the block to get back toward your destination.

What destination do you want? Are your choices moving you toward it or away from it?

You think YOUR choices are hard? Check out this 3 minute video:

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December, The Month of Giving

Lots of gift-giving in December. This year pay attention to what and to whom you give. Consider this month as a time to develop a regular giving attitude to carry though the new year. Make every month a giving month.

I know you will be giving holiday gifts to your friends and family. Try lifting you eyes a bit higher, look a bit farther. Who might NEED a gift? What can you give to someone who is beyond your family and friends. Consider doing something for someone who is elderly and has few family and friends; someone who is struggling to make ends meet, maybe unemployed; someone who is homeless. You get the idea.

Consider using your talents or skills for someone who needs something you could do. Take some time (half an hour) to listen to Les Brown talk about giving.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It's Wednesday!

So, what are Wednesday like for you? Do you celebrate because your work week is half over? Or do you get frantic because the week is half over and you haven't done as much as you expected to get done?

Hey, whatever it is like, it's Wednesday! Celebrate that it is another day and you are alive with a chance to do something better today than you did yesterday. Another chance to be the best you you can be this day.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

It's That Time of Year

Yep. The holiday season has begun. We've made it through Thanksgiving and are starting the "mad dash" to Christmas.  And for many of us that means we are focusing on others, focusing on gifts, focusing on fixing the house for celebrations, fixing meals, fixing goodies, etc.

And we do all this while we are continuing with what we ordinarily do in our days and nights. We are doing a lot of doing!

So we get even busier than usual, we worry about things more than usual, we miss those who are not with us more than usual, we get really stressed.

So I'm wanting to remind myself and all of you that we need to take good care of OURSELVES. Self care is always important, of course. But when we ultra busy or have a lot of extra stress we tend to forget to do that.

You are important. And taking care of you is important. So I found this video that might help.

What do you think? Try the five things and make your life better. It is hard to make the world better, to make anyone else's life better, if we don't take care of ourselves.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I Went Grocery Shopping Yesterday

It made me think how blessed most of us are in the United States and other developed countries.

I watched people pondering the shelves to decide which kind of an item they wanted. Some were choosing by price, others by reading the labels, others just having difficulty deciding which to choose.

I thought first about people living in places where they didn't have a choice. If they wanted a particular kind of item, and they could find any of that kind of item, there was only one to choose from. And I thought about people who just didn't have the money to buy the item, any item.

There are people who live places in the world where there are no stores and no grocery items to buy. They may be able to find produce in a market, but there are no foods already prepared, canned, or frozen. And meat often is very limited or not available at all. They might buy live fowl. (Personally, I wouldn't know what to do with a live fowl and am grateful I don't have to learn!)

I'm able to buy all the grocery items we need and even some we don't need but just want. I'm terribly grateful for that fact. There has been a time in my life when that wasn't true, a time when I had to really carefully budget what little money I had to feed myself and two children. At one point I got food stamps, enough to buy milk for a month but that's all. So these days I relish grocery shopping. I'm still careful not to spend too much, but we don't go without now.

Yesterday I watched a woman in the over-the-counter pharmacy aisle trying to decide on a medicine. I know there are people in our country who can't even afford to buy Tylenol. And there are parts of the world where they can't get any kind of medicines. How very blessed we are when we can so easily buy something for an ache or pain.

And even though I have health and disability issues, I was able to do my own shopping because  I had the luxury of shopping with an electric cart. Imagine. I don't even have to be able to walk for the hour that it takes to shop! But something in the cereal aisle made me find something more for which to be even more thankful. I turned my electric cart into the cereal aisle and there was a team of emergency medics tending to someone lying on the floor!

I was grateful that even with my health issues I wasn't experiencing an emergency on the floor of a store. And even more grateful that there are people trained to come to help in emergencies when they are needed. We have 911 and other emergency systems that come quickly when they are needed. Imagine being somewhere that there are no trained medical persons when you need emergency care. There are many people who live long distances from that kind of help. And there are countries where that kind of help is just not there at all. There are places in the world where there are no doctors, no medicine, no hospitals, nothing. Even if we never have to use the emergency services, we are blessed to have them available.

So my trip to the grocery store has me all set for Thanksgiving Day. There is just so much for which we have to be thankful.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

TW3-Anyone Remember That Show?

It was a BBC TV show that reviewed the news with satire. Like SNL today, it was about comedy and entertainment. You can find it on YouTube now.

But my week wasn't funny and it wasn't what I'd call entertaining. It was a week of challenges for me.

In my last post I shared that a friend had died and that I was stunned. It happened right after I began battling Seasonal Affect Disorder, as I do every autumn. For some reason it hit me harder this year and was more of a struggle. My friend's death found me in a low and vulnerable state.

Then on Thursday my mother-in-law, who is 95 and lives in another part of the state, fell and broke her hip. My spouse dropped everything and went to be with her. Thursday night I learned that they had scheduled surgery for her on Friday at noon.

Also on Thursday night, late, I got word that my older daughter, who lives in Canada, had been in a car wreck and been taken to hospital. I didn't learn that she had broken no bones and was at home resting until the next morning.

Needless to say, I didn't get much restful sleep Thursday night. I wondered if my mother-in-law would make it through surgery and if I'd need to go there to support my spouse, or if I would have to go on my own to Canada to be with my daughter. I worried needlessly, it seems, as I learned on Friday that both mother-in-law and daughter made it through o.k.

Saturday was the funeral for my friend. There was comfort, tears, laughter at memories, and the presence of a multitude of her friends to share our grief. It was hard, it was good, it was important.

So now I am down to only dealing with the stress of managing things at home on my own. I need to take care of my health, so I need to do all the things required to battle the depression and to be sure I take all my medications, eat properly, get some exercise, not isolate myself. And I need to prioritize tasks so that I'm only doing what must be done and setting some aside for when my spouse returns. And I must keep reminding myself that if there is something that must be done that I shouldn't do myself, I must ask for help from friends or family.

Easy-peasy, right? Well, not really. I'm a) the most independent of personality types; b) very introverted; and c) don't do well living alone. So, if you are someone who prays or who sends positive energies, send it my way. This week includes Thanksgiving and I don't know for sure yet where I will be celebrating that holiday. But one thing I know for sure is that I have SO VERY MUCH for which I am thankful.

How about you? Do you count your blessings even when life throws challenges at you?

Thank you for listening to my challenges. I hope you will share with me some good advice for getting through them. Hopefully the weeks to come will be filled with more happy times and I'll be sharing ways to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Friend Died Last Week

It was a shock and I'm still rather stunned. I'm feeling lost and confused about how to integrate the whole thing with my daily life. I'm thankful that I had her in my life for nearly thirty years, yes. And I'm grateful that she is no longer in pain. But after that, I'm at a loss. I'm sure I'll move through the grief process with time. But I keep wondering things like "who will die next?" and "is this going to happen often now?"

You see, I'm nearly 76 years old. While my friend was a decade younger, many of my friends are closer to my age. We are going to be dying, I suppose, sooner than the younger folks.

I remember my mom commenting that all her friends were dying. She outlived nearly all of the people in her childhood. The people she had stayed in contact with were all gone. There was a group of friends who had been in the same Sunday school class since their teens and they met once a month for decades for lunch together. She was the last one living from that group.

She was less than a decade older than me when that happened. Am I to that stage now? Is this friend's death just the beginning of a cycle of losses?

That's sure a grim perspective of my future! And this time of year it doesn't take much to plunge me into depression. I can't let that happen, though, because depression is detrimental to my health. So what to do?

First, I need to take good care of myself. To take good care of myself I need to pay attention to those things that fight depression:
a.) avoid mood altering chemicals like caffeine, alcohol, etc.;
b.) interact with at least one other person every day;
c.) exercise, twenty minutes of physical activity each day;
d.) get sunshine/daylight every day - even sitting beside a window will help;
e.) set and achieve small goals each day - write them down the night before and work toward them the following day.

You'd be surprised how much difference those simple things can make. Try it.

But what about having more friends, or better friends? I've always had a hard time making new friends. I'm very introverted and find it hard to start and sustain a conversation with someone I've just met. And because of my introversion I struggle to be social. But I'll need to overcome this if I'm to make new friends. It is even harder to do as I get older - I have less energy and more physical challenges. But that can't be allowed to get in the way. So how do you make new friends, especially when you are older?

I found a YouTube video that is helpful. If you are interested, click on the link below.

And would you share with me your ideas of how to keep depression away and how to make new friends? I'd appreciate it.

I know this isn't my usual blog post, not all that inspiring. But we all need to know how to take care of ourselves in this way in order to do that which makes the world a better place for all.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

What Did You Do Yesterday?

What did you do yesterday for which someone might be grateful for today?

How about we take a different perspective on the month of Thanksgiving. What if we thought of things to do to give others something for which they can be thankful? What if we took the time this month to focus on helping others, to focus on acts of kindness?

We can all be thankful that we can do something for someone else. When we look at our life from that perspective we can realize how very much we have for which to be thankful. And we have so much that we can share.

Maybe you don't have lots of money. Even with just a little money we can probably figure a way to set aside a bit for someone else. Could you spare a dollar? You know that even a dollar can be appreciated by someone who doesn't have a dollar. Have you considered those with NO income? Or someone living homeless?

I help collect things needed by the unsheltered homeless. Think about living like that. Even something as simple as a band-aid is something you may not have. Yes, even a dollar can make a difference.Be thankful that you have more than that, even when it doesn't seem like you have enough for yourself.

Things they need that you may take for granted:
•Small sewing kits (like they give at hotels)
•Small shampoos
•toothbrushes w/caps
• Q-tips
•small bars of soap
• zip lock bags so people can keep their soap and tooth brush clean for future use
• thick socks
•Fabric bandaids and first aide items like packets of neosporin/triple antibiotic cream
•nail clippers
(keeping nails trimmed short cuts back the amount of dirt and bacteria that gets under them. Yuck. And also protects toe nails, etc.)
•hard candy/ cough drops
So, what did you do yesterday to help someone else? Yesterday I took the time to line up the shopping carts in a store where I had been shopping. There were half a dozen carts parked this way and that near the cart stall. So I just put them in an orderly line. Who would be grateful I'd done it? I don't know. But it must have been someone's job to do that and now they would have to. And I was grateful that I had the time and the energy, the physical ability, to do it.

What did you do? What could you do? What will you do today?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

At the Risk of Sounding Political . . .

I try to avoid sounding political, or at least partisan, in my blog posts. But I'm going to quote former President Obama here.

This sounds like great advice to change the world for the better.

Former president Barack Obama addressed 500 young leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists from 60 nations and 27 states at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago.  During his welcome speech, Obama presented a set of four rules he encouraged everyone to follow that he believes will help elevate civic culture, rules we can use to effect change in our everyday lives.

“There are just a few of them, and I think they’re pretty simple,” he said.
The rules were sent to the Obama Foundation’s mailing list after the speech. Obama wrote:

1. Listen to the people around you

“Share your stories with one another and try to make a connection. If possible, find someone who’s not like you—who doesn’t look like you, think the way you do, or share the same set of experience as you—at least on the surface.”

2. When you disagree, don’t be disagreeable

“Real change comes through persuasion and openness to others. Have a point of view, be rooted in your experience, and don’t be afraid to share—but listen and be open, don’t be partisan. This isn’t about politics; it’s about our civic culture.”

3. No selfies!

“You can’t have a conversation with someone when you’re busy looking at your phone or trying to get a picture. Shake hands, really connect.”

4. Have fun

“This work is hard. It’s full of frustrations and setbacks. It can be lonely—but it doesn’t have to be. Know that there are other people who share your frustrations and your joy in the small successes—and how those small successes can turn into big ones.”

What if we all did this? How would it change the culture? Listen. Disagree without being diagreeable. Have real conversations. Enjoy other people who share in your sucesses. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

An Attitude of Gratitude

It is the time of year when we begin looking at those things for which we are thankful. Even on our worse days there are things we can be thankful for. Some folks find that really hard to do.

When we focus on the "bad" things in our lives it can seem like it is all bad. But really there are so many things to be thankful for on a daily basis.

What are you thankful for? Can you name a few? Do you have food to eat? A dry, warm place to sleep? At least one friend? Do you have any income? Do you have clothes suitable for the weather? Can you walk? Talk?

We need to focus more on those things that we have that are good than on what we lack. And the Thanksgiving Holiday gives us that opportunity.

This year why not acknowledge what others do for you? Thank people for what they do. Make it a point to thank someone every day this month - co-worker, family members, janitors, teachers, attorneys, military personnel, police officers, mail carriers, doctors, nurses, delivery persons, doormen, drivers, friends, neighbors. Who did I leave out?

And make the thanks specific: "Thank you for keeping the office clean", "Thank you for your patience with my son," "Thank you for cooperating", etc. Let them know what it is that they do that you are thankful for.

Something I like to do is send a thank you card to the mother of someone whose birthday is near to thank them for creating such a lovely friend, etc. It always surprises and pleases their mom to be recognized on their child's birthday.

Who might you thank today?

Develop your attitude of gratitude.

Thank you for reading my blog! Here is a little gift to thank you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Let's Bring Back Some Old Words: Converse

Converse: to exchange thoughts and opinions in speech :talk

With the explosion of computer use we have lost some very valuable opportunities to truly connect with others. Yes, we "stay connected" through social media, email, etc. But what kind of connections are they? 

The connection made through a screen is a distant connection, one that separates rather than unites. Think about it. True connection through conversation really needs eye contact. And when we converse with another person we also communicate through facial expression, tone of voice, pacing, etc. You don't have that with a screen between you.

In order to make the world a better place, a more peaceful place, we need to develop deep conversations. We need to communicate person to person  about the things that matter.

Maybe this video will help.

Practice conversing with people at a deeper level. Even using written words we can go deeper. We can listen for what the other person's words are meaning and if it isn't clear, ask for clarification. Using social media and email has made is lazy conversationalists.

Live a deeper conversation.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Let's Bring Back Some Old Words: Respect

I struggle with the idea of respecting someone I don't hold in high esteem. The definition of "respect" is "to hold in high esteem." But, really, it is more than that. It is a way to treat someone or something. I think that is the kind of respect we are losing.

To respect another person, to treat them with respect no matter who or what they are, requires us to at the very least be polite. Name-calling is disrespectful. But to tolerate behavior that is harmful, that is hurtful, that is hateful is not part of being respectful. So how do we walk the line between enabling that kind of behavior without becoming harmful, hurtful, or hateful ourselves?

It is hard. It really is. But to be our best selves we need to practice being assertive without being aggressive. We can voice our disagreement in "I" statements. We can give feedback about how their behavior makes us feel. "I find that offensive." We can confront inappropriate behavior by being specific and forthright. "When you ________, I feel _______. Let's discuss this calmly." "I don't agree with you, and this is why _______."

Even the thoughts we have need to be reworded to be more respectful. If you hear yourself starting your statement with "You", then you are probably heading down a path that leads away from respect. "I think you are not aware of other perspectives on this issue."  Rather than "You don't know what you are talking about."

So, yeah, it is hard. And it is important to stop the flood of disrespect that seems to be sweeping our culture right now.

I'm struggling with it. And I hope others are too. We can learn to live together in peace when we learn to treat others with respect.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Let's Bring Back Some Old Words: Courage

  1. Courage can be said to be the ability to do something that frightens one, strength in the face of pain or grief, bravery, pluck, valor, fearlessness, nerve, daring, audacity, boldness, grit, hardihood, heroism, gallantry.

    • defines courage this way:

      What is courage?

      Courage is the ability to do something difficult even when there's risk. Courageous people do and say what they think is right despite opposition.
      Kids build courage as they mature and take on more challenges. As kids increasingly grow up online, often in very public ways, courage is an important asset. It gives kids the confidence to be themselves, risk their own social status to stand up for others, and share their work even in the face of criticism. Some kids like to take bold action to test their courage; some kids take it gradually.
      You can help kids develop courage by encouraging them to take calculated risks, supporting their individuality, and allowing them to "fail" safely -- online and off.
    • While you may not think your life requires much courage, that you don't consider yourself heroic, you are wrong, especially if you want to change the world for the better. Creating change often takes courage, takes risking on your part. But to live courage will make the world a better place for all of us. It can teach kids courage.

    Risk living courage.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Let's Bring Back Some Old Words: Honor

If you want to help make the world better, try living by some of the old words we don't hear a lot of these days.

Live Honor.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

You Are What You Think

Descartes said "I think, therefore I am."  “I thinktherefore I am ” was the end of the search Descartes conducted for a statement that could not be doubted. He found that he could not doubt that he himself existed, as he was the one doing the doubting in the first place. In Latin (the language in which Descartes wrote), the phrase is “Cogito, ergo sum.” [Google search]

We are thinking beings. Our thoughts are very powerful. Never doubt that!

Your thoughts can bring things into being, like thinking about a favorite food can make you hungry, sometimes even salivate. Or you can think about a painful memory and after a while you have the same emotions that you had when it happened.

There is a saying "If you think you can or you think you can't, you'e right." In other words, you can set yourself up for winning or losing by what you think. Athletes know that thinking about performing well helps them play/do better. Many teams use visualizations in training to help them do their best, even make their best better.

So how does that work for the rest of us? I've been thinking about this since writing Sunday's blog [Oct.15, 2017]. We have so much negativity thrust in front of us that it is little wonder that so many of us are feeling negative about not only our present but also our future. When we think about all the awful things that are happening it is easy to flow in that direction and expect that we are powerless to change anything.

But the reality is that we are better than what we see in the media. There is more good than bad. We just have to open our eyes to it.

One shooter destroys so many lives in Las Vegas. And yet hundreds of people pitched in to help that night and beyond. People lined up in the wee hours of the morning to donate blood. By-standers ran to help get the wounded to hospitals. One many even stole a truck from a nearby parking lot to haul injured people to the hospital, making more than one trip. [He later return the truck.] 

Hateful rhetoric is spewed on the media about minorities, while hundreds of people reach out to help the very people that have been treated so badly. Protesters send the message that the wrongs that are committed are not acceptable.

We are better, as individuals and as a nation, when we think good thoughts, do good  things. Look for the good around you. Be the positive that someone else needs to see.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What Is America?

So America is in the midst of change, in many ways. But what IS America at the core? Who are we?
Are we what other countries see? Are we the image of America that is in the media?

Someone told me "Trump is America." I objected strongly that even though many think he represents us, one person doesn't define America. We are more than any president and definitely more than this one.

But are we, and can we fix what we see is wrong? Will we? Will we come together as a nation and work for equality?

We have income inequality, racial inequality, gender inequality, education inequality. Yes. All of that. So is that what America is, inequality? That certainly is part of who we are.

And sometimes we let those inequalities divide us. Even though that is what we see the most of in the media, it isn't really what I experience day to day. The people I know and come in contact with are working for change to a more positive, more balanced, more equal country.

We aren't dividers. We come together to help in times of disaster and tragedy. I see people from all walks of life volunteering, donating, creating healing, building relationships across the inequities. This is the America that I know and believe in.

I believe that we will come together to shape a better, more compassionate, more dedicated government that cares about serving the people more than about party loyalty. I think that we will create political parties that learn to work together for the common good.

I know that won't happen quickly. Large ships don't make tight turns. And the Ship of State will turn slowly. But change is happening, all the time. We mustn't devalue the incremental changes that are happening at the grass roots level.

Just look at the marches on Washington. Look at how many people have been energized and motivated to run for office to make changes at every level, local, State, Federal.

More than ever Americans are waking up to the challenge of improving who we are and who we want to become.

What do you want to change and what will you do to help make that happen? Want to change how campaigns are funded? You might want to check out the video below.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Is Loneliness at the Root of Today's Problems?

On NPR the other day I heard a doctor discuss the research into the relationship of loneliness and illness, both physical and mental illness, how loneliness changes body chemistry. It was enlightening,

He referred to loneliness and a multitude of physical illness like heart disease, hbp, stroke, and others. He also talked about the relationship of loneliness and mental illnesses like depression, substance abuse/dependence, and even some psychiatric diagnoses.

He went on to discuss the relationship of loneliness and violent behaviors.


And it all made good sense. Loneliness can make people more fearful. Fear can easily lead to anger and acting out behaviors. And it can also lead to withdrawal, depression, low self-esteem. All of these things support the problems we are dealing with as a nation today.

And guess what? Loneliness is easy to treat! We only need to reach out to our neighbors, friends, family, even strangers, to create connection. There is much we can do to reach out to those who are less able to reach out. Don't wait for the lonely to find you. Make contact with those you know who might be experiencing loneliness.

Now, I admit I'm not very good at that. I'm VERY introverted and don't tend to make friends easily. But I know now that I need to work at that to help make the world better, not just to benefit myself.

Some ways to develop this can be as simple as making eye contact with people you come in contact with, people you pass on the street, service people, cashiers, etc. Greet folks with a smile and a "Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening."

Whenever it is appropriate, reach out a hand to touch a shoulder or forearm, shake hands. If it is someone you know, give them a quick hug. [Always get permission to hug. Abuse victims can be re-traumatized by unwanted touch.]

Even small talk can build relationships over time. Find some excuse to ask your neighbor a question, create a conversation. Drop off a plate of cookies or something, just because. You don't have to wait for the Holidays.

If you attend worship services, don't rush to be the first one out the door. Linger a bit to greet other worshipers. Attend social events with your faith community and get to know other folks.

Make an effort to contact/get to know people who live alone, especially those with disabilities that make it difficult to leave the house. Imagine being housebound and alone. Take them a little something - a magazine they might enjoy, a bit of baked goods if they are not diabetic, a book of word and number puzzles, etc. But most of all, stay a few minutes to chat. Brighten their day.

Get to know people you think may be feeling intimidated or threatened by someone. Become an ally. Let them know you are there for them if they need something or someone.

Each of us can change the world of someone who is experiencing loneliness. And the statistics they quoted said that 70% of Americans reported they experience loneliness.

Imagine if we could help people be healthier and happier simply by being there for and with them! Help people feel heard, seen, and valued.

Reach out. America needs you! The world needs you! You need you!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

How To Stop Bullying Before It Begins

Bullying does not have to be the problem that it has become. The way to prevent bullying to to raise children to be kind.

Children see a lot of unkind behavior and can come to believe that it is o.k. or even "cool" to be unkind. But as parents, teachers, and anyone in a child's life we have to constantly point out how unkind behavior is not o.k. We have to model kindness and to call out bullying and meanness. 

Here's a video about parenting kids to be kind and to not be bullies.

Whenever you see unkind behavior point out to the child that it is not o.k. Remind them that they want to be the best person they can be. And being a bully or being unkind to others is not the person they want to become.

Most importantly, we must model kindness. When children see adults' behavior they think it is o.k. and try to emulate those behaviors. So be kind to everyone.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Teach Love, Not Hate

Love Is an Action Verb

Practice teaching love by what you say and what you do. Today is a good day to start.

Thanks YouTube for these videos "Teach Love, Not Hate"  and "Crazy J- Spread Love Not Hate Music Video.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

It's Not Fair!

Recently I read a book about fat phobia. [I've been fat most of my life.] And there is a paragraph that I think would be good for everyone as we try to make the world a better place.

"And I know opportunity isn't equal. That life isn't fair, and sometimes it's not even remotely kind. I know that sometimes gigantic barriers get in the way of that perfect dream we see in our future. But one thing that will never change in this world of ours is the fact that we need and deserve all the happiness, success, love, kindness, and joy we can get our hands on. So don't let your self-doubt stop you; whatever you want . . . you already deserve it"  Jes Baker, Things no One Will Tell Fat Girls, A Handbook for Unapologetic Living.
While being fat, or loving someone who is, may not be part of your life history, this book has wisdom for everyone. And the above paragraph in particular speaks to us all.

My kids used to complain "It's not fair!" and my response has always been, "Life is not fair. And whoever told you it was lied." It is important to recognize that things happen that get in the way of our dreams and goals. That is just life. But we can be certain that each person deserves happiness, success, love, kindness and joy. And each can create that within themselves.

And with that certainty we can persevere toward our goals.  Not only that, but we can acknowledge that others also deserve to be happy and treated with kindness. We can create a little fairness by being kind to everyone!

So remind yourself today that you deserve to be kind to yourself and to others. Make that your goal for the day!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What Can I Say?

I'm supposed to publish a post today. And I don't know what to say. There is so much going on that is disturbing and this blog is supposed to help folks make the world better. Where to start?

The  most frequent thread has been kindness. Actively being kind to others and one's self does make the world better where you are. And we really must begin where we are. 

And then what? Spread the kindness out a little farther. Be kind to strangers, to people you see but don't often interact with, to people who seem to be having a hard day, to people who are negative or angry, to people you don't usually make eye contact with, to authority figures, to everyone.

And always be kind to yourself. Stop negative self-talk and give yourself appreciation when you do something right and good. Treat yourself gently. Smile more. Laugh more. Play more.

And then identify a cause or two that you feel passionate about and work for that cause. Raise awareness of the need. Enlist others to help. Get involved. 

These are things that each of us can do personally to make our own world better. And encouraging others to do the same make more "worlds" better.  Be the pebble in the pond.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The World Really Is Getting Better

Bill Gates states that instead of the world falling apart, it is really getting better.

Rather than sink into despair about what we see around us, we need to look at the big picture and keep the good things going. We can keep getting better.

Help spread the word.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What Do You Think? Change the Your Thoughts and Change the World

Whether we pay attention to our thoughts or not, they are running all the time. Much of the time we act without thinking, at least consciously . Yet our thoughts are VERY powerful. They determine who we are, what we do, how we feel.

Philosopher Rene Descartes, the french philosopher and mathematician, i n his Discourse on the Method  stated "I think, therefore I am." It is said to mean that thinking is the one thing that cannot be faked. It is the one way that individuals know they exist.

So thinking is the core of our being. The good news is that we can change our thoughts. We can direct our thoughts. They are not something that is separate from us. And if we are to change our behavior and our feelings we will need to identify the thoughts that create them and change those thoughts.

Thus if we are to change the world we will need to start with our own thoughts and take control of them, confront them, change them if they don't impact the world the way we want them to. We can't reduce the hatred in the world if we don't confront any of that hatred that exists in our thoughts. And we can't do that if we don't pay attention to our thoughts.

For me it is an ongoing program of confronting the thoughts that arise, seemingly unbidden at times, that may come from fear or hate or misinformation. As a white woman I have to acknowledge and confront my immediate fearful response to young black men walking toward me on the street. I have to acknowledge that it is racist and not based on reality.  It is important that my response is based on what is really happening rather than what I fear might happen, based on years of racist media fear-mongering.

It is also important that I pay attention to other thoughts that come up unbidden. When I see a street person panhandling, what do I think and how does that determine my behavior? When I hear about people who have been homeless for months or years, do I think of them as lazy or unemployable when I don't know anything about their life?

I used to think that if a homeless person has a cellphone they must not really need help. What I didn't take into consideration is that it is impossible to apply for jobs if you don't have a mailing address and access to a phone! And most jobs require that you have your own transportation.

And what we think is greatly determined by what we are told until we discover otherwise for ourselves. We hear things repeated over and over by the media or by the people we surround ourselves with and those things take on the weight of "truth".  It is so very easy to believe what we are told, especially if it excuses us from putting any effort into learning more.

What we feel is a result of what we think and believe about events in our lives. If we think/believe that something is dangerous we will feel afraid. For instance, if you believe hungry lions are dangerous you will fear them. Makes sense, right? But what if there is a glass barrier between you and the lion? Is it still a dangerous situation?

I used to do an exercise with inmate in a male prison institution that was a challenge for them to change their harmful or unproductive belief systems. One example was when I ask for what one guy believed about women. "Women are stupid", he said. I ask him some questions that challenged that belief:

All women?"Yes," he said.
 How many women have you met? "Hundreds," he said.
 How many women exist in the world? "Probably millions, he responded.
 So really it is all the women you have met are stupid, right? " Well, yes," he said
Where did you meet these women? " In bars,"  he said.
 So all women you met in bars in stupid, is that it? " Yes,"  he agreed.
 So what if you began to meet women in other places, might there be women who aren't stupid? 
 He had to agree.

With that he began to challenge his belief that all women are stupid. We can do the same thing with beliefs that keep us in harmful, hurtful, or unproductive situation.

So have you been thinking things like "All Republicans are hateful," "All Trump voters are stupid,"
 "All white people are racist," All blacks are less than or are lazy or are stupid or whatever", " All immigrants are illegal freeloaders" or any of the other negative thoughts that support hatred, fear, and violence. Challenge those beliefs and move beyond them.

Pay attention to what you think and keep confronting those thoughts that do not make the world a better place.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Racist in Me?

If we are truly wanting to eliminate hate speech and racism we need to start in our own attitudes. This is a great article (used with permission) to help us do that:

In the face of the white supremacist violence and President Trump’s reaction to it, fear, anger, and condemnation of others comes naturally to me. What is more difficult—perhaps for many white people like me—is a willingness to examine the extent to which my daily thoughts and behaviors support the racism I adamantly oppose—in others.
Yes, I’ll go on a protest march. Yes, I’ll attend anti-oppression training. I’ll write to politicians. I'll take to my social networks to show my solidarity with all the other people who want desperately to root out racism—in others.
To what extent am I willing to examine those parts of myself that are like the people I feel so angry toward? Here’s why I think that’s important: What racism I can find close to home and within myself—as scared as I am to see it—is what I have the most power to root out straight away.
This is why I was so intrigued by a Facebook post from the black, queer Buddhist teacher and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. Lama Rod Owens writes:
“It seems like if we are really interested in ending white supremacy, white people should focus more on loving themselves instead of trying to love me. The violence emerges from the ways self-shame and apathy are bypassed in attempts to use love towards me as an argument trying to convince me that you are not ‘that kind of white person.’ As long as you cannot face yourself and love even those ugly parts, you are indeed that kind of white person, and I will be left with the work of trying to love what you cannot bear to witness.”
So what might be an ugly part of myself that Lama Rod suggests I should love? What do I need to see in myself to avoid violence emerging?
As it happens, I read Owens’ post while backpacking with my 12-year-old daughter in Thailand. One day, we were traveling in a van with other tourists of various nationalities, including a middle-aged Indian husband and wife. We had conversed a fair amount during the day and become quite friendly.
A lifetime of living as a white man in a white-privileged world has left me with occasional unwanted ugliness.
After a stop, when we were all getting back in the van, the husband took the seat my daughter had been sitting in, on the front bench. This worried me because Bella gets carsick easily, especially if she can’t see out the windshield. I felt irritated with the man, but what was more uncomfortable for me was the rising “ugly part” of myself, as Owens calls it. I called the Indian man “entitled” in my head. I had made up a whole, completely unverified story about how he had worked his way out of poverty and had become rich enough to travel and now expected to be allowed to take whatever seat he wanted.
But, of course, I knew this story was based on nothing but introjected stereotypes based on Indian ethnicity and nationality. There was no evidence for the story, nor do I believe such a story would have arisen had he been a white European.
Even more uncomfortable was to see in myself that this “entitlement”—that I imagined probably clashed with another person’s entitlement—was my own. I realized that my life history and experience—countless occasions of getting exactly the seat I wanted—made me feel, on some level, that it was my right for Bella to get the front seat if she needed it.
I’m not saying that my stereotypes and the so-called clash of entitlements are foundational to me or my value system, or even more than passing ideas in my stream of consciousness. I am saying that a lifetime of living as a white man in a white-privileged world has left me with occasional unwanted ugliness.
White people don’t tend to do much about racism when it is comfortably out of sight.
Some of my anger and frustration at the recent actions of white supremacists come from having to acknowledge the parts of me that remain unloved, as Lama Rod Owens would put it.
This is part of why—and it’s important to acknowledge—white people don’t tend to do much about racism when it is comfortably out of sight. Now we have stopped being comfortable, as white supremacists force us to look at them and their attitudes.
So I must look at myself.
If I leave my ugly parts unloved and unseen, if I refuse to examine the white supremacist within me, I have no way of understanding the white supremacists around me. For example, my own racist moment with my Indian friend was actually motivated by genuine concern for my daughter, perverted by conditioned and introjected racism.
Can that suggest something about where the white supremacists are coming from? Perhaps some of their ugly behavior too comes from concern for loved ones perverted by years of trauma and lifetimes of societally conditioned racism. Of course, I condemn their actions. But a little understanding and love for myself—as a flawed white person—and a little for the people—not the behavior—might allow for some space to reduce hatred.
Meanwhile, I, and lots of progressive white people like me, are left, as Owens says, to learn to love what we cannot bear to witness within ourselves.

Colin Beavan wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Colin helps people and organizations to live and operate in ways that have a meaningful impact on the world. His most recent book is “How To Be Alive,” and he blogs at  Besides YES! Magazine, his articles have appeared in Esquire, Atlantic, and the New York Times. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Colin is leading a retreat, “Fierce Compassion: Where Activism Meets Spirituality,” with Lama Willa Miller at the Garrison Institute in September. Find out more here.

It isn't easy to explore the darkness in ourselves. Confronting our own internalized racism will change us. And change can be uncomfortable. But I challenge you to begin the search for your own "ugly" thoughts and behaviors.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What Fear Is Holding You Back?

What would you do if you weren't afraid? Would you stand up for someone being abused? Would you march in protest? Would you run for office? Would you change careers? Would you reach out to homeless people you see on the street? Would you mediate conflicts?

What would you do? Listen to Nancy Sathre-Vogel talk about how fear keeps us from doing things we think we should or we want to do.

What WILL you do? How will you confront your fear?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

It Past Time that We Abolish Islamophobia

What if your family had been destroyed by people hating something about them that makes them a little different. This is what is happening to Americans. It must stop. But do we hear people decrying it?

Take a few minutes to learn more about the effects of this kind of hate. Muslims are not the only group who is treated this way. Hispanic, GLBT, black, Asian, the list goes on.

What minority are you a part of. What have you ever done to stand up for a minority, a person being treated as "less than"?