Believe to Receive

10390078_1446513595630099_3396934485674124174_nPreface: What a gift when important aspects of life overlap!  I have been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life for nearly a decade.  At the local event a sunrise service is held Sunday morning for those of faith.  This year we didn’t have music, nor anyone to lead the service, although there were enthusiastic women not quite confident enough at first that they could do it themselves.   That feeling didn’t last long as within in a couple of days I had this overwhelming feeling this was a gift for me, whatever it was that was about to happen.  Soon I knew in my heart I was to give the message that morning and am sharing it with you.   The audience was made up of team members, committee members and Boy Scouts who had been there for 24 hours doing what they do best- fundraise and raise awareness to fight cancer. My commitment to  Relay and my personal spiritual growth intersected that Sunday morning in a beautiful way.

Every day is the day the Lord has made! I remember singing this last year while sitting here in the dank, raw cold of the morning.  Today we sit here in the warmth and light of a new day.  Whether it is the day everything goes your way or a day it just doesn’t, each and every day is the Lord’s creation.   Life has ups and downs.  There may seem to be darkness, and there is light. We choose the days we like and label them good and others bad.  So the natural way of life, the ebbs and flows, becomes good or bad for us.

The difference between the days is in our minds.  We choose to be grateful for some and annoyed about others.  You know people who are grateful most of the time and others that always have something to complain about it.  It is a choice. When I was a kid I heard a story about 2 children who were invited to a farm.  One couldn’t stand the smell.  She grumbled and made faces and held her nose, whining to leave immediately.  Another child noticed all the manure and the smell and began running around excitedly looking in all the stalls.  When asked what she was doing she called back gleefully, “ With all this poop, there HAS to be a pony in here somewhere!” 2 Perceptions of 1 situation.

Last year when my cancer journey began, I had a hard time remembering all of this.  I spent a lot of time asking, “Why me?  What did I do wrong?” “Why am I being punished?”  I did get past it and regained the sense that I was in God’s hands and every day was the best day it could be.  I was able to bring light into what I perceived as darkness.   I even embraced being bald!

The second time, less than a month after finishing my treatment for breast cancer, when I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I didn’t go down that rabbit hole. I was gratefully in the Grace of God.  I didn’t do anything different except that I was open to His abundant gifts every day. Through the biopsies and surgeries, I felt little pain, and worry was not an option.  Whatever the outcome, I knew I was in God’s hands.  What happened for me was glorious spiritual growth.  I let hope blossom into belief.

Hope signifies the possibility of good news, good reports and a good life.  We see messages of hope all over especially about cancer. Hope gives us purpose and a reason to continue with efforts to eliminate cancer through preventative messages and treatment.  It has become a keyword for Relay. Hope elicits a response of “Thank, God!”  too often spoken as a surprise, because there was an inkling of doubt.

Hope grows into belief through faith.  With belief and faith there is no doubt. There is a knowing that what is for the highest good will be attained.  God told his disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move; Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:14–20).

Like many parables Jesus told, there was some exaggeration to make his point.  They were not to be taken literally but for us to understand the magnitude of our capabilities with our faith in God. Mankind experiences miracles equal to the uprooting of a tree or the moving of a mountain, yet do not recognize it for what it is. Rather than belief in the power of God and prayer it is diminished to luck. Moving of mountains happens all the times when we are open to it. And it has nothing to do with luck.

Faith backed by hope, builds belief and extinguishes fear, anger and doubt brought on by adversity.  Be grateful for it.  Acknowledge the goodness in your life, even if in the beginning you honestly believe that the good you receive is the size of a mustard seed. I used to think I had to work harder at faith and trust like it was one more thing that would get stronger if I could just try hard enough! But you can’t force it, you have to let go and be still, especially in your mind.  Clear your mind so that His words can become your thoughts. I have never heard voices, but I think thoughts of goodness, and peace, and caring and love when it ordinarily would be difficult for me, or come up with solutions that blow my mind, and realize I didn’t come up with them all on my own.  I first realized that when I was writing a book and would go back later and reread it.  I would read and check what I wrote, wondering who wrote this? It couldn’t have been me.  Then it dawned on me that God or one of His angels wrote through me.  This connection is possible for all of us.  You just need to let God in. It is a choice.

Pray with trust and faith.  Asking for something you do not believe you will get, or deserve is not asking in faith.   Prayer with hope is a start, prayer with faith, even the faith the size of a mustard seed is the answer.  Prayer, knowing, believing that whatever is for the highest good- God’s will takes place.  What we want is not always in our best interest or the best interest of the world around us.  Only He knows.  Have faith in that too.

We can see things in our lives as being dark.  God brings the light.  Our challenge is to allow the light to shine in our life at all times and to trust that God has it all under control.  Belief built on hope knows miracles are coming, and responds with a knowing grateful smile and a silent thank you from the heart.  His will be done.  Every day is a day that the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it and watch your darkness disappear.

May 21, 2017 Relay For Life of the Greater Lake Region

When Teens Need Some Slack

By the teen years young people can have picked up many skills of adults and perform them with skill. Interest levels can take them to the top even at a very early age.  Childhood is the time for them to learn how to care for thimages (4)emselves and perform tasks under supervision that they will need to master in their adult life, increasing their skills year by year.  As these skills increase, their bodies grow and develop, and in many cases their attitudes and mouths  do as well, demonstrating how adult they think they have become.  It is often difficult to stay focused on the fact that they are mentally still developing children.

Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, PhD, director of neuropsychology and cognitive neuroimaging at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass, has uncovered data that confirms that as children grow into adults, they use different parts of the brain in decision making than adults do, which causes responses to be more emotional and from the gut than “thinking functions: planning, goal-directed behavior, judgment, insight” of adults.  In a study which showed teens 11-17 and adults pictures related to fear, the adults got it correct 100% of the time while the children did not.  The results were 50%, with the younger teens misjudging it the most and males more than females.  The MRIs used in the study confirmed that the youngsters and the adults were not using the same part of the brain for the decision making. While the adolescents use the emotional region of the brain rather than the executive functioning frontal region that the adults use, in adults the two regions also work together.

Dr. Yurgelun- Todd said, “Our findings suggest that what is coming into the brain, how it’s being organized, and then ultimately the response — all three of those may be different in our adolescents. So that attitude may be part of that, or may be related to that. But it’s not simply a matter of teenagers feeling like they don’t want to do something, or that they’re just going to give you a hard time.”

In addition to making impulsive decisions without thought to consequences, this functioning also affects communication.  They may misinterpret the emotions on any adult’s face and therefore react differently than expected based on their perception.  I remember being asked incredulously, ‘What were you thinking?’ And at the time I was thinking to myself,  ‘What is the problem? I didn’t do anything wrong’, or ‘I don’t know! It made sense at the time!’  Although an adult may think they have absolutely made their instructions clear, adolescents’ brains may receive it differently, add their own timeline to it especially if it was not made clear, and prioritize their to-do list with their own interests at the top.

Teens need the opportunity to take the way they interpreted non verbal messages and reacted to them, and consider other possibilities.  That takes guidance, since as shown by Dr. Yurgelun- Todd they may not be thinking cognitively, but emotionally.   When adults see teens as adults rather than developing children,  they see difficult young people, often believing it is by choice.  They react with frustration and anger, which are more emotions that could be misread.  images (8)In my personal experiences as an educator, parent and grandparent, I have seen this simply read as ‘they don’t like or love me’, and react with ‘I can’t ever do anything right so why bother trying’? or ‘I don’t know what they want from me’ and fail to do anything.   As I write this it occurs to me that I know of adults that react the same way, (including myself for many years), perhaps verifying Dr. Yurgelun- Todd’s belief that these human interactions must be taught.

Communicating with young children through young adulthood is important.  Since adults have the ability to use the thinking functions of their frontal lobe in conjunction with their emotions, where children and teens do not, they are called upon to limit their emotional responses during that communication.

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  • Ascertain what they heard you say and what that meant to them.
  • Be sure you are clear about timelines.
  • Come to an agreement about priorities, acknowledging they have their own.
  • Give them opportunities to excel in areas of strength that do not involve executive functioning of which they are not yet capable.
  • Respond to their actions with patience.  Although often difficult, one of you needs to remain the adult.  Nothing is gained by meeting them at their cognitive and emotional level.
  • LISTEN to what they have to say.  Whether it makes sense to you or not, their feelings are very real and natural.  With guidance they may be able to see other perspectives.

Although they may think they are adults now, they are not and the job of parenting is far from over.  With guidance and patience they can mature into independent, self confident adults able to develop strong healthy relationships for years to come.

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http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/interviews/todd.html

PBS Frontline interview with Dr. Deborah Yurgelun- Todd, PhD director of neuropsychology and cognitive neuroimaging at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA

 

Gifts From the Heart

Blessed are those who give from their heart for they have found their path. Mother Theresa is the first that comes to mind, but you don’t have to walk the streets of Calcutta to be a lightworker.  Giving from the heart-without expecting reciprocity or thanks can take place anywhere.  Gifts from the heart can be as small as a smile, as that smile may change someone’s day.  It may encourage them to pass it on to someone else like handing off a baton of light through the universe.

Those who watch TV  could be led to believe that there is no light out there.  Whether it is drama or the news, evil gets the most attention.  Sometimes you have to search for the light in the world. If TV disturbs you, limit what you watch.   I believe everyone has a loving self which they may not let show. Encourage those around you to bring forth their light with love and gratitude, but protect yourself from negativity while doing it.  It was once suggested to me to visualize myself covered in a raincoat that protected me from their spew of words.

The most fulfilled lightworkers are those who use their talents to assist others. I have asked many times what my life purpose is.  I kept waiting for an answer!  I think now that it is serving in anyway that makes me happy and comes from my heart. Each of us who serve from our hearts are blessed in God’s eyes.  It matters not what you do for work or play, choose to do it from your heart.

I questioned friends and family about this topic, from the perspective of being in need.  The generalization that came to me was that most people who are having difficulties need connection. Being alone with their thoughts and fears concerning their situation makes it all the more difficult.  Earth Angels become their lifeline by staying in communication throughout their ordeal.  They take the initiative to make contact knowing that overwhelmed, confused or depressed people will not reach out and ask for help. We all agreed that saying, “Call me if you need anything”, is an empty offer even if heartfelt when offered. It may be from the heart, but  the gift is missing.  Your  initial contact is disconnected.  Reconnect. A connection may come with a gift of some sort like a prepared meal ready to heat and eat, or flowers, but it appears to me that the communication is valued as the primary gift.  Communication says,”I am here for you.  You are not alone.”

It is important that you take care of yourself.  It is like being on an airplane in an emergency.  You must put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone  else.  Otherwise once you run out of oxygen, no one will be helped. Allow others to give to you as well.  Don’t teach them that you are unworthy to receive, or that their gift is not good enough for you (Yes! That is what they might believe if you refuse over and over to let them do something nice for you).  Sometimes the best gift is to stand back and let others grow from watching you, learning that everyone’s service is important.   God expects you to love and care for yourself. Even though I used the word selfless in another blog, it is not something to strive for.  Care for yourself at least as well as you care for others.

 

 

 

 

You Are What You Eat

Years ago, “You Are What You Eat”, was frequently remembered in my family  from John A Gambling on his radio show, “Rambling with Gambling”. Although I didn’t find a reference for it, my father repeated it from time to time, and later my husband did as well.

Unfortunately, I didn’t hear it for the seriousness of the words.  My family used it after a great meal, and joked about what we were today. Ah, so many years wasted on a limited perspective.

Over the decades, my relationship with food was more of a bulimic approach in that I binged on what I loved and countered with diets.  Obviously to me now, the diets were not sustainable.  I also now realize that when I countered with a diet, it was always to lose weight, never to be healthy.

I compare my perspective to negative space in art.  In my life the negative was out of sight, not an integral part of my life.

“Negative space is, quite simply, the space that surrounds an object in a image. Just as important as that object itself, negative space helps to define the boundaries of positive space and brings balance to a composition.” (creative Bloq Staff from http://www.creativebloq.com)

When I ate, I concentrated on the what I was supposed to eat not on what else I was eating.  For example, I start each day alkalinizing my body with a lemon tea from fresh squeezed organic lemons.  I realize I viewed that as a pill for the other things I ate.  The lemon was my positive and miraculously all else was background.  Of course that is simplistic.  But if someone asked what I did to care for myself I could say, I eat organic whenever I can and I try to keep my body alkaline.  Now I am not lacking in intelligence as it may seem, but when it comes to food, I have been very adept at seeing what I focus on and not in balancing the art that is my body.

I began many health projects in the same way.  Rather than follow the program to the the letter, I researched it.  I found online all the “other” foods they forgot to mention. I was creative!  I have always eaten healthy, except when I didn’t. I focused on the positive of my eating plan, not the negative.  I focused on the good I ate and ignored when I didn’t eat healthy, because it was rarely an unhealthy meal, it was the snacks, or “treats”.  And I was starting my day with lemon water! But those treats- cookies, ice cream, potato chips, bottle of beer, are the negative art to your positive body.  They are immensely important to the balance of what you are creating for yourself.

Included in the limited perspective of my relationship with food, was that food was a comfort, a treat, something to be enjoyed.  Not that it shouldn’t be, but it becomes easy to alter the terrain of your body with too much of one thing.  For me, it was sweets.  And if you are reading this, you probably don’t need me to mention the dangers of sugar.

Whatever is eaten impacts the body. What goes in may physically exit, but the impact remains long after.  What we eat is either healthy or harmful. Making discerning choices in important.  While determining a personal plan, that is important to remember.  Each bite matters, because you are what you eat.

Model What You Want Them To Be

Today I am borrowing from a much wiser and well known writer to help convey an important parenting concept.  If like me, you grew up hearing “Do as I say not as I do,”  and tried that as a way of parenting, you probably have already discovered that it doesn’t work.  Integrity is a much better basket to put your eggs in.  Kids today see through anything less.  Being the role model you want for them, empowers you as well.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

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Wayne’s Weekly Wisdom “If you model self-pride and self-worth for your children, they will in turn leave the nest with an absence of stress and turmoil for all concerned.”

I have the following saved on my desktop because it profoundly demonstrates the importance of our awareness of our own behavior.  I notice too much explosive behavior, loss of control, and spewed anger that is justified with ridiculous excuses that make perfect sense to the person explaining them.   Is society becoming numb to inexcusable behavior? Parents and other relatives of children are their role models and need to be cognizant of their actions at all times.

This was Wayne’s last Facebook post.

I was preparing to speak at an I Can Do It conference and I decided to bring an orange on stage with me as a prop for my lecture. I opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row.

“If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” I asked him.

He looked at me like I was a little crazy and said, “Juice, of course.”

“Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”

“No!” he laughed.

“What about grapefruit juice?”

“No!”

“What would come out of it?”

“Orange juice, of course.”

“Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?”

He may have been getting a little exasperated with me at this point.

“Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.”

I nodded.

“Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.”

It’s one of the great lessons of life. What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezingyour mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you, it’s your choice.

When someone puts the pressure on you and out of you comes anything other than love, it’s because that’s what you’ve allowed to be inside. Once you take away all those negative things you don’t want in your life and replace them with love, you’ll find yourself living a highly functioning life.

Thanks, my young friend, and here’s an orange for you!

I was impressed with Wayne’s understanding and explanation that negativity within is a choice.    Choose peace, calm, patience  and love and you and everyone around you benefits.

 

 

 

Does your child feel like a stray?

A conversation with a middle-schooler a few weeks back following a discussion about communicating after death was even more eye opening than the original one.  She asked me how I would come back to her after I died.  I responded,   “as a hummingbird and what about you?”  Her response was, “as a black and orange cat.”  She said we better write them down so we don’t forget, but I thought to myself, I think I will remember this conversation.   A week or so later, she asked me if I remembered how I would appear to her.  I said, “Yes. Why did you pick a black and orange cat?”  “Because I only have seen stray cats be black and orange and I feel like I am a stray too.”  Our conversation was interrupted at that point so I have not found out her own reasoning behind it, but it struck a chord with me from years of teaching kids of divorce.

My observation was that some children do feel misplaced.  Even with parents that do everything to make their child’s life happy, some kids still have difficulty knowing where they belong.  They are going to Dad’s house or Mom’s house, or even a grandparent’s home,  but not theirs.  Where is their home?  Living out of a suitcase, or even having 2 sets of everything can be difficult for their stability.   As I said this is an observation not a criticism as it happened to me as well.  Family members lived here for a while.  We did everything we could think of to make this their home, but they never called it home.  It was always our house.  I once asked, “What would make you feel at home?”  The answer was, “Not living with you.  Living in a house that is just ours.”  Sometimes you just have to accept that you have done all you can to help them adjust, but being aware of their feelings and acknowledging it is a first step in understanding the feelings of a ‘stray’.  http://iamchildofdivorce.com offers many suggestions for divorced  parents.

http://iamachildofdivorce.com/

Kids Can Follow the Mindful Path to Peace and Joy

Can your kids be quiet and be IN quiet without getting antsy?  One kid very dear to my heart has a hard time in the car with nothing to do.  “I’m bored!  There is nothing to do!” is a constant complaint.  My response, “We are doing something, we are having a conversation,” for some reason has no impact on the perceived dilemma.   If this sounds familiar, I wrote about this several months ago, in “Too Much Boredom”.  In the blog, I wrote, “Time not doing is time for being, but it has to be taught, even if it was a skill with which we were born. Bored children need to learn to treasure down time to charge that personal energy, strength and connection to the source of light within and overcome doubts and fears. Constantly active kids need quiet time as well, because all children need the connection with self and God to reduce ego and build their loving self, becoming compassionate caring people with a sense of oneness with others. It is a package deal as they best learn from modeling you.”

Mindfulness was mentioned in the article and deserves much more consideration.mindfulness5  It not only has to be taught it has to be practiced.  Its value is addressed by Jon Kabut- Zinn.

“It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.”

“Of course my life matters”, you might say, but how often do you actually think about it?  Do you value the moments in your life or allow them to slide by without any focus? mindfulness7It is easy to lose connection with the moments when you are checking off the many items on each daily to- do list.  That is why it is important to stop, breathe deeply and bring yourself back to the moment from time to time.

Mindfulness practice is valuable in controlling thoughts.  And of course, to teach your children, you need to do it yourself as well.  This is one of those things that you might not do for yourself but will do for your children and gain personal growth, peace and empowerment in the process.

“The purpose of teaching mindfulness to our children is to give them skills to develop their awareness of their inner and outer experiences, to recognize their thoughts as “just thoughts,” to understand how emotions manifest in their bodies, to recognize when their attention has wandered, and to provide tools for impulse control. mindfulness6 It is not a panacea, and it will not completely get rid of what is, frankly, normal kid behavior, like tantrums and loudness and whining and exuberance and arguing…” wrote Sarah Rudell Beach in  “8 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids”

Mindfulness gives all of us including our children, power.  Controlling thoughts by releasing thoughts, keeping thoughts positive, focusing on what needs to be done, and regulating emotions is powerful and can begin to be learned at an early age.  Mindfulness helps with impulse control and assists children in refraining from speaking and acting out uncontrollably, something some adults could use as well.

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I will write on this again, but don’t wait, check out these links for yourself!

http://thehawnfoundation.org/mindup/

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu

http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2012-4-9-power-of-mindfulness

 

 

 

My Loving Self and Me- a blog for adults who love children

It is a busy world no matter how old you are. School age children deal with the issues of self, family, school, home, community, and also the world through technological communication that bombards  us all. They need role models and listeners- adults with whom the can share their private worlds.  My Loving Self and Me is a book written for older children to read with an adult or in a family setting.  The stories present real life issues that children face today, about which their caring adults may know nothing.  By reading the book together, parents get the opportunity to discuss the experiences of the characters, discovering the quiet parts of their child’s life, or how they relate to the issues the characters faced. The characters always find a solution that comes from their heart.   The discussions in “What would your loving self do?”  that follows each story create teaching moments for you and your child.

There are many topics that come up in raising children. Not all of them are in the book, needless to say.  This blog is written for the parents, grandparents and other caring adults that have children in their lives that they support, bringing them information, hopefully before they have to deal with it in real life.

What will you get out of reading My loving Self and Me, the blog?

  1. Insights into issues that children today face.
  2. Ideas on assisting them in a loving and helpful way.
  3. Links to websites that deal with parenting issues.
  4. Direction on bringing faith and spirituality into your parenting style.
  5. An occasional new unpublished story for you and your family.

The blogs are listed on the right in Recent Posts and below it in Archives.

From time to time, I write a new story using the characters in the book, My Loving Self and Me,  and “publish” it here for you to share with your children. If you have an issue your child is dealing with, and would like the characters to find a solution from their heart, please leave a message here.

Thanks for reading and sharing this blog and My Loving Self and Me.

Beth

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Yes, You Should Read My Loving Self and Me!

The energy was wonderful at Wonderstone Gallery in Dunmore, Pennsylvania for the launch of My Loving Self and Me on April 18, 2015!   A grandmother and customer of the Gallery came by to tell me how important she believes the book to be. She had bought it earlier for her 12 year old grandson and they read it together- actually he reads to her. She shared that she too believes strongly that reading together with older children is valuable (see link in first blog entry) She continued to say that there just aren’t enough of this kind of book. Another woman was walking by and felt compelled to come in. After hearing a reading, she took a book to read to her church school class. It was delightful conversing with all those who stopped in!

The book contains 15 short stories that introduce children and adults beginning their spiritual journey, to their loving self or true spiritual self of God and ego, that part of the human which seeks personal wants and needs without a clear sense of the perspective and perception of others. The title story My Loving Self and Me introduces these concepts, simplified for young readers, and the rest of the stories add everyday situations that children like themselves face. The characters, Gabby and her brother Ike and their extended family deal with the issues which develop in life- fears, feeling badly about themselves, prejudice, bullying, responsibility, respect for nature, respect for themselves, giving and receiving and making choices.    The character children learn to see themselves as loving beings who make choices by going to their heart, and trusting in God for messages, peace and strength. They treasure their angels.  10858515_841382615903051_7792340483147793706_n

They learn to be still and listen, meditate and pray, and communicate with others. My intention is for your child to feel a connection with the characters and learn from Gabby and Ike’s experiences. For extra practice, each story is followed by a section called ‘It Takes Practice’ where they choose what their loving self would do. The answers to the questions are written to be easy, to build confidence in their choices, with follow up support that extends their understanding. Each story is also followed by a related poem. I have been told that while discussing the ‘It Takes Practice’ section, children have brought up situations from their school experience, something parents do not always hear. They also created their own questions for “What would your loving self do”? Wonderfully what I had intended!

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Someone far away can be a support by phone.

Not all children will have someone to read with them, nor will they have the support system of the book’s characters. In the summary they are guided to find an adult with whom they feel safe and are assured has their best interests at heart.   Everyone needs someone with whom they can share and get feedback. Although children will benefit from adult communication while they read, it certainly can be read independently.

The scenarios in the stories are based on elementary and middle school school experiences, but any parent can gain from reading them. Even if children are too young for the stories, parents can begin incorporating the concepts and the vocabulary into their child’s life. By the time they can read it, they will be pros at living from their heart!open your heart