Earth Angels Among Us

There are “rules” of kindness that were instilled in all of us at an early age, while for some,  love for fellow man, compassion, empathy and care are who they are at the soul level.  I first became aware of the difference years ago while traveling.  A man traveling with his wife, seemed to be having difficulty and neither of them seemed to know what was happening.  Young and unsure myself, I just made sure I walked near them in case assistance was needed.  I started up a conversation with them so as to not be too obvious, but so that I could take his other arm, not held by his wife  giving him more support.  When we arrived at an area where he could sit, I returned to my group and was asked annoyingly, ” You just can’t help yourself, can you?” I pondered that for years.

Although it was seen by my companion as a negative thing (something I didn’t understand at the time), I believe compassion and selflessness is available to everyone.  Some accept it in their heart while others accept “The rules” that seem to say, offering to help is as good as giving.  Others go back and forth from “The rules” to true compassion seamlessly. I think I fall in the latter.

While enduring the effects of chemotherapy, I became aware of several of these Earth Angels who began by searching for a way to assist a friend or family member with a cancer experience.  They created through trial and error, a product to ease a specific discomfort.  Some of hese people then began to create more and made them available to others.  Some found funding and donate the products, and others sell them at cost. My own Earth Angel knits me soft, luxurious hats and always sends them with the words, “If  it doesn’t fit or isn’t to your liking, pass it on.” Another of my Angels made herself available to drive me to some of my treatments.  Many offered, saying “Call me if you need me”, but my earth angel called each week and asked what she could do that particular week.  I also discovered that “Call me if you need me”, something I too have offered in the past, is not the offering of the gift I thought it was.  Putting the needy person in a position to call friends until one was available is more inconvenient than I ever realized. Experience. I also realized that with the length of many  treatments, one card, gift, visit etc., are not sufficient to assist in raising spirits.  I have an Earth Angel that sends out inspiriational cards weekly to many people. Now I realize what a wonderful gift that is.  Consistent texts or messages provide a connection that is valuable.

I don’t think Earth Angels see themselves as such. They are being themselves, living from their heart, but they tremendously impact those around them.  In gratitude to Earth Angels who have assisted you during a difficult time, please take just a minute or 2 to explain what someone did for you or a loved one that was a true gift of the heart that made a difference.  A generalization of the kindness may be included in a future blog, “Gratefully Acknowledging Gifts From the Heart”. Their creativity may inspire many others.

You can leave your messages here or email them to me at cbethhoffman@outlook.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Accepting That You Are Not Alone

Accepting that you are not alone is a difficult and yet immensely rewarding accomplishment during difficult times.  Making decisions and dealing with suffering leave many feeling lost and alone and in need of comfort and support.

This weekend in our community was Relay For Life, a time for coming together after months of fundraising to support the American Cancer Society with research, education, advocacy and service.  Team members take turns walking the track  (the concept behind the word Relay) so that someone is always on the track.  A great deal of symbolism is involved in the planning based on what cancer does to its victims.  It is 24 hours of people walking to demonstrate that cancer never sleeps so neither do the walkers.  Survivors and patients and their caregivers are honored and those who have died are remembered.  It is an uplifting, emotional time for participants probably mostly due to the electricity of the participants so dedicated to the elimination of cancer.

The theme of the morning sunrise service, ‘you are not alone’ initiated more faithful thinking on my part. The youth minister spoke of the presence of God with us at all times.  The songs and poems were of His nearness,  reminding us of the gift of life.

‘Remember when you heard the words and your mind went blank you were in another world’

‘Remember in your darkest hours when all that surrounds you is pain and sorrow’

These words written by an unknown cancer survivor  speak of unlimited situations that humans encounter.  They speak of those times when every thought is of the affects the situation causes personally.  They speak of those times that fear controls the thoughts.  The faithful eventually on their own time, regain what they have known, that God is with them.

Last night as I meditated, I expanded on not being alone.  Within me is my higher self, holy spirit; I am not alone.  Surrounding, opening me to the energies of the universe, healing and loving are my guardian angels; I am not alone.  Around me are my family members waiting for cues as to how they can help and support me,  but I have to open up and share my thoughts, concerns and needs so that, I am not alone, as well as accept they have their fears, too.  The same goes for my friends and neighbors; I am only alone, if I choose to be by suffering in silence.  As I was told yesterday, ‘You call me with anything you need, and if you don’t need anything, call me to come have a cup of tea and a chat.’ I am not alone.

Fear is what can keep us deaf to God, His angels, our higher self and intuition, and separate us from our friends, neighbors and community.  Fear keeps us alone.  Aloneness is only the physical situation if you allow it to be.  Open yourself to accept that you are not alone.  Open your heart and let the light in.  Sit physically alone in the quiet and listen and feel the presence around you that is love.  It is there always; let it in. You are not alone.

yurloved

 

Give Gratitude Effortlessly

Life is busy.  Even when time is afforded for myself, there are still many things floating through my head, and at the end of the day, I think to myself,  “Did you give gratitude today?”   I have realized that gratitude does not have to be spoken or even thought, but it does have to be felt.  Gratitude takes place in the heart more than the brain.

Think about it. A child accomplishes something and comes running to you to share with pride.  You don’t think, “I am grateful that he was successful and wanted to share it with me.”  You do feel and share his happiness with a big smile and maybe even a hug, and a few kind words of encouragement.   Are these not expressions of gratitude?

Another scenario may be arriving home after a long day of work, and busy traffic on your commute. Before getting out of the car, you sit a moment and take a deep breath, slowly letting it out.  You may not give gratitude for completing the day, arriving safely, or having a moment of peace and calm, but in that slow breath, are you not conveying that message?

Spoken gratitude is a gift to others as well as yourself in that it keeps you mentally grateful.  But it is far more than words; gratitude is a feeling you express from your heart.  It is found in a smile, a sigh, recognition of something beautiful in nature.  Acknowledgment of God’s creations is a form of gratitude, as is respect for the purity of waterways, and the sky and other gifts of the universe .  Compassion for living beings shows gratitude for their creation.

Living a life of kindness, responsibility, love and integrity is showing gratitude for all you have.  Verbalizing is a wonderful thing but living a life of gratitude and appreciation from the heart is expressing your true self, and at that time gratitude becomes effortless.

Thanks for participating!

Beth

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.

 

 

 

What Were You THINKING!?!

Making wise choices comes about from experiences and practice as well as maturation.  In any situation, children see what they are focusing on.  It is only with growth and lessons learned that they begin to realize that there are consequences to every action.  They are usually as surprised as anyone else when things don’t go the way they pictured them in their head.  Being allowed to make their own decisions in a risk free situations encourages them to expand on the possibilities.  My granddaughter has said more than once, “I didn’t see that one coming.”  In reality, adults don’t either sometimes.  Not doing it again in that exact way is a learned lesson.

Actions, whether judged to be good or bad are best handled with a true, calm, question about the process of their thinking.  What were the steps?  Did you think that it might not go as planned?  Was there a risk and was the outcome worth it?  Discussion with children builds their self esteem and courage, reducing stress with decision making.

Teach Kids How,  a website for parents,  lists activities for teaching children early about making choices.  It must be a continuous process for them to become confident.

 

But  too often, a child’s mistakes have an impact on the parent.  Their behavior or choice may be an embarrassment.  It may cause more effort or work when their plate was already full.  They look at the child incredulously and ask in a questioning voice, “What were you THINKING!?!” Although it may sound like a question it really isn’t.  The parent probably is not in the mood to hear the answer.  The question is really a statement that says to the child, “You were not thinking at all.”  It is not a question but a condemnation of self.  mental abuseMany parents heard something similar when they were growing up.  “Are you crazy??” or “What are you? Stupid?” come to mind.  Past generations were not immune to this kind of questioning.  Many were raised this way as well and only through self reflection as parents will they realize it did not have a positive impact on them, either.  Children develop a fear of making decisions when their choices are wrong.  It becomes easier to say, “I don’t know.”

Karen Stephens contributing writer to childhoodexchange.com in her article, ‘Parents Are Powerful role Models for Children“, says “Being a positive role model requires fore-thought and self control. Today we talk a lot about disciplining our children. We parents need to put an equal emphasis on disciplining ourselves.”

Parenting must come from the heart to raise children who are confident, caring and loving.  Teach them to love themselves by loving, respecting and caring for yourself.  “Do as I say, not as I do.” was resented by every child who ever heard it.  It won’t work on your child either.  Don’t raise your children as you were raised without forethought as to how it affected you.  Keep the best learning experiences and discover new ways to interact with your child where you  were not positively affected by the lesson.  Structure and discipline can always come from love.

 

Miss Misunderstood- an unpublished new story

The day had seemed long when Gabby opened the back door to the kitchen. It wasn’t that she felt sad, more like empty. Unsure of why she felt this way, she knew she felt like she needed a hug, a tight one, one that said, “You are all right the way you are.” Mom was already busy in the kitchen. Apparently she had school work because the computer was surrounded by a ton of books. Mom was attending college and that kept her very busy. There was something in the oven, and something on the stove, and Mom was racing around like she was in a big hurry to get somewhere. Obviously she had no time for Gabby tonight.

Mom turned her head when she heard the door close and called out, “Thank goodness you are home. I have a study group at the college tonight at 5:30 so I have to leave in an hour. I need you to finish getting dinner ready, set the table, and make some iced tea for your father.”

Gabby just stood there. So much for that hug she was thinking about. No time for Gabby at all.

“What’s that face for? I just asked for a little help and I get attitude from you?” Mom asked more as a statement of anger than a question.

“I don’t have an attitude.” Gabby replied.

“Yes, I think you do. I can see it on your face. You used to be so sweet and helpful and now all I get is attitude”, was Mom’s reply.

Gabby thought to herself, “Yeah. And you met me at the door with a smile and asked about my day and dinner was ready. You start college and it is me that changed.” But she kept silent.

The look on Mom’s face hurt Gabby to the core. She hadn’t doubted how her mother felt about her before, but she did now. She really felt alone.

“Gabby, why are you still standing there. Get started on the iced tea!” Mom yelled.

“I am,” she replied. Sometimes this type of conversation made Gabby very angry and she wanted to yell back, but this afternoon, she knew she was about to cry. In fact she could feel the tear coming down her face. She quickly wiped it away and got out the pitcher. She checked the oven and saw a lasagna from the supermarket had been recently put in. String beans were on the stove awaiting the stove to be turned on.

Gabby finished the iced tea and set the table for 3 since Mom wouldn’t be joining them, and took her backpack up to her room. She didn’t have the energy for homework right now and turned on some music, and put on her earphones. It was her way of blocking out all that noise she heard in her head. Sometimes she was angry. Sometimes she told her mother off in her head. Sometimes she told herself what she was sure everyone else was thinking. It was never good.

The door slammed open and Gabby jumped. Mom was standing there with her REALLY disgusted face on.

“That is why you didn’t hear me! Take those things out of your ears. Gabby you know I have to get out of here and get to school. Why did you leave me? I don’t have time chasing around after you”, said Mom, frustrated.

“I thought you were finished with me. I set the table and made the tea. The lasagna won’t be ready for 20 minutes. I needed some me time.” Gabby replied.

Mom looked like she was going to blow, but she took a deep breath, and then another. She came over and sat next to Gabby on the bed.

“You needed to get away from me, didn’t you?” Mom asked.

Gabby just shrugged her shoulders. “Mom, I am not trying to make anything harder for you. I am trying to do the chores you ask me to do. I know college is hard work for you. But I still need my mom sometimes and today was one of those days. I just needed a hug or a smile. That is all. Growing up is hard, too.”

Mom put her arms around Gabby. “My Loving Self was really far away. I was so wrapped up in my All About Me Self that I took it out on you. I know you are trying and should have been more appreciative.”

“That took a lot of love to express yourself so clearly and calmly. You are growing up and I am missing it. I am sorry, Gabby Gootz, I will do better at being a college student and a mom. I wasn’t thinking about how you were feeling. Here I thought you were being selfish and didn’t want to help. It was me that was being selfish. I will try to understand your feelings and not jump to conclusions. I know growing up is hard. I really don’t want to make it harder for you”, said Mom.

Mom hugged Gabby tighter and kissed her on the forehead. “I love you sweetheart”, she said with a smile.

Gabby smiled back as Mom got up and headed off to school. She sat for a few moments before heading down to check on the lasagna. Did Mom really think she was making annoyed faces at her?

She didn’t like being misunderstood. She wasn’t comfortable when her feelings didn’t seem important to anyone else. Mom was right. That did take courage to tell her the truth calmly. Gabby smiled to herself and then realized she was grateful that Mom listened. Gabby also realized that sometimes it was difficult explaining herself clearly because she didn’t always understand how she felt. The one thing she did know was that she wanted to feel good about herself, and pleasing others sometimes made that difficult.

Gabby continued down to the kitchen and remembered something Gram had told her.

“When nothing seems to be going right, take an account of all you have to be grateful for. Make a list. If you can’t think of anything, write down all your complaints then write BUT after them. Go back and read each sentence once more with the “but” there and fill in the blank. Once you have vented, you will have an easier time finding something good to complete the sentence,” Gram had said.

“I guess I can give that a try,” Gabby said out loud and went to find a pen and paper.

Is it Possible that you have Limiting Beliefs?

The news this week was full and controversial! The Supreme Court as you know legalized gay/ lesbian marriage, and with it came soooooo many opinions! The president announced that the healthcare act is here to stay. The Confederate flag is coming down in so many places and everyone has an opinion- or 3. The most outstanding part of it all is not so much the actual incidents that occurred but the reactions of people. Oh the comments I read on Facebook and they are my “friends”! What happened to having a belief and listening to someone else’s openly without judgment and criticism? So much name calling and generalization! One meme in particular lined up the 3 happenings above with a comment something to do with “Take that Republicans!” I thought they were individual human and civil rights issues and was surprised to the reference to politics.   So much generalization, assumption and even discrimination!

I used to be staunchly protective and defensive of my beliefs so I get some of it, but I also have learned a valuable lesson that began small and grows every day. That is the concept of Limiting Beliefs.   While learning about this I questioned many of my own beliefs asking myself not so much why I believed that but if in fact I really did. It was surprising how many of the opinions I defended were not mine, but something that was passed down during early childhood.   Who knows for how many generations that belief has been strong, or what the catalyst for that belief was. It may have been valid for that time and that situation, but out of context it makes no sense. And yet the belief continues to grow.

During contemplation, I have also discovered that beliefs can come from ignorance- not having all the facts, becoming emotionally connected to a concept based on someone else’s emotions, or jumping to conclusions. Whatever the inception of the belief, it is a personal one for which everyone should be responsible.

I avoid general online areas that allow for comments like after videos or stills that come up with a specific topic because most of the time I find it distressing. So many comments have no other intent than to diminish the validity of other human beings. Name calling and jokes is a painful and unnecessary part of growing up, and yet it is alive and well throughout the internet sites presumably posted by adults. Everybody has an opinion and it is the right one. Sadly it is part of their belief that being right somehow gives them the right to ridicule and reduce the self worth of others.

I recommend self-analysis of beliefs. It is cathartic and freeing in that it allows you to discover the true you of your heart unencumbered by hidden influences. The beliefs with which you find a deep resonance are yours but not necessarily anyone else’s. Be OK with that. It doesn’t diminish the validity of your belief. You are good without anyone else’s agreement. There are too many proverbial bandwagons and they are all standing room only. You don’t need to wait in line to jump on. Know yourself and be true to yourself.

It is time to find a place where the greater good of Americans is the focus in all our hearts. I almost wrote, “It is time to get back to ……”   but then questioned whether we have had a period of time where it was truly about the greater good. Even today many fortify their opinion by saying, “The American people want”, or “It is for the American people”. We sure like to hear that their plan is for “We the People”!   Is it? Are they coming from their hearts or their egos? Am I? Are you? Whether for ourselves, our families, our communities or country, isn’t it time to come from our hearts? Analyzing our beliefs helps us determine if we are doing that.

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