Day 168: The Value of The Journey

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“Realize that from the start, every activity that comprises the journey has value and the ability to teach you something. ~Bill Toomey

It took a long time to figure out which way to go on my journey. I was always in a hurry and often left without direction about where I was going. I learned along the way that each step had something to teach me, and when I hurried along, I couldn’t understand where I ended up because I skipped the meaningful steps that were essential lessons.

I often found myself wishing I was more like other people. If I was taller, I could move faster. If I were smarter, I’d learn more quickly. If I were prettier, I’d have more advantages. If I had different parents, I would have known better. On and on, these thoughts interrupted the direction of my journey until, one day, I learned that there was a reason for my difference, that I was special just the way I was, and that no one else could walk the same journey as I had to follow. Everything I have learned has helped mold and shape into who I am, and the value of my journey has given me a sense of purpose.

Reflection: I look forward to what I have yet to discover, but for now, as I sit outside on this beautiful day, I’m enjoying where I am.

Day 167: The Value of Saying, Stop It!

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“Stop the insanity, of negative self-talk.

Have you ever found yourself in the trap of negative self-talk? It feels like you’re a guinea pig running on the inside of a wheel going nowhere. You can’t get anywhere with it until you make it stop long enough to look at it. Where is it coming from? How can you make it go away?

It often comes about with a change in my life, that negative self-talk that tries to sabotage my efforts. Telling me, I’m too stupid to do something new. Sometimes it comes about when I’m trying to make better choices about the people in my life. The negative self-talk becomes guilt. They are not the problem, I am, and you begin to feel bad about yourself. It can go on and on for days until I finally say out loud, STOP IT!

Negative self-talk is like a hungry monster that feeds on one negative thought after the other. If you want to kill the beast, all you have to do is stop feeding it and turning those negative thoughts into positive affirmations. And remember, “Being positive doesn’t mean ignoring the negative. Being positive means overcoming the negative. There’s a big difference between the two.” ~marcandangel

Reflection: Today, I choose to see the better good my positive self-talk has to offer, not just for me, but for how it affects the world around me, too.

Day 166: The Value of Acting with Aplomb

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“Aplomb. Sometimes the sheer bravado of her actions astonished.” ~ Debbie Macomber

Aplomb is acting with assuredness, calmness, poise, and composure in difficult situations. Aplomb is sustaining grace under pressure.

I never heard of the word aplomb before, have you? It’s not a very common word or a personality trait. To pull it off with grace requires confidence in who you are, what you know and believe about yourself. But not so much confidence that you’re not open to new ideas and options. I’m sure it takes a lot of practice, tolerance, and patience to obtain on the human level, but I do believe it takes the grace, mercy, and the love of God’s spirit to perfect in us. We all know the kind of person who can calmly control a situation when things get out of hand. That is the person acting with aplomb. They can find ways of releasing any frustrations that build up from the problem later so that they can remain aplomb as needed.

Not letting the things that others do bother us and keeping our calm begins with knowing ourselves. Knowing our truth and beliefs helps us to see that what is going has nothing to do with us as much as it has to do with the way others think and believe.

C.G. Jung says, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” We can become more aplomb-like when we have a better idea of what our own truth is. Jung goes us to say that, “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.”

* While acting with aplomb helps gain control, it is not a guarantee of success. Being confident is not the same as knowing the truth. Over-confidence can reduce the seeking of data that could be used to achieve goals and avoid failure.

Reflection: Maybe the best way to practice being more aplomb-like is to seek our vision of truth within our own hearts. Maybe knowing ourselves sets us free enough to do the better good we want for others with the grace to succeed.

* http://changingminds.org/techniques/self-development/aplomb.htm

Day 165: The Value of Reverence

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Today is Flag Day. A day set aside to show respect and reverence to our county’s flag.

* According to legend, in June of 1776, George Washington commissioned Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, to create a flag for the new nation in anticipation of a declaration of independence. June 14, 1777, commemorates the adoption of the stars and stripes as the official flag of the United States. On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing June 14th as our national Flag Day.

There have been twenty-seven versions of the flag since its beginning; stars have been added as states have entered its union. Our current version dates back to July 4, 1960, when Hawaii became the 50th state.

Growing up in the ’60s, I remember what a proud feeling it was to stand and say the pledge of allegiance and to sing at The Star-Spangled Banner. It was pressed into our hearts as children to be proud of our country, God, and the Old Glory flag.

What does it mean to have reverence? Reverence is a deep respect for someone or something. When we show reverence for our flag, we offer deep respect and awe for what it stands for. I proudly display Old Glory today; how about you?

Reflection: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

* http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/modern/jb_modern_birth_3.html

Day 164: The Value of Celebration

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“Let’s celebrate. Come on lets have a cheer. Hold your glass up. Here’s to another day of living.”

Today we celebrate our granddaughter Keira’s sixteenth birthday. Yesterday we celebrated our step-grandson Brooks’s graduation from high school. A few weeks ago, we got to celebrate our son Tommy and his new wife Stacy’s wedding reception that was put off due to the pandemic. We finally got to meet our newest addition to our family, our great-grandson Beau who was born in December. We celebrated the memorial day with a big picnic at our grandson Joe and Abby’s. I took a trip to Georgia with my sisters to celebrate some much-needed time with our brother and his wife.

If for no other reason, we can all hold a glass up in the celebration that we made it through the pandemic. It is wonderful to see, embrace, and kiss one another again after a long year of separation.

Reflection: I find myself as a grandparent sitting back, taking moments of grateful pause, looking around at all I have to celebrate, and I realize every day I wake up is an opportunity to celebrate and say here’s to another day of living.

Day 163: The Value of Friendship

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I don’t care what you earn, where you live, what you drive, whether you are fat or thin, tall or short, beautiful or average, poor or rich, smart or not. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend. I accept you for who you are, and that’s all that matters… ~ Unknown

The value of friendship is an immeasurable matter of the heart more than the mind. I know the people who add quality to my life. I not only like my friends for who they are, but my friendships have taught me about love as well. My friends have been there in the good times and the bad, and I know the ones I can reach out to for different reasons. Maybe I need a mental health boost; perhaps I need a laugh. Maybe I need a spiritual boost or one who likes to do crafts. There are those I can talk to about God, and those I talk to about writing, those I can talk to about cooking, and those I can talk to about myself. Some need me too, for all the reasons I need them. But what I like the most about my friends is that no two are alike. I do not compare one to the other who is a better friend than the other. They are like a pot of soup that simmers on my stove. Each one adds a different flavor to the quality of my life.

Reflection: How do you measure the worth of your friendships? No more than you can measure love. If we can’t see the value in our friendships, then maybe it’s not a friendship at all.

Day 162: The Value of Peace

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“I do not want the peace that passeth understanding; I want the understanding which bringeth peace.” ~ Helen Keller

That, my friends, is the best explanation of my own thoughts on peace. Our understanding only goes as far as we are willing to stretch ourselves to give it meaning.

To create peace in a world that is divided by race, religion, sex, politics, culture, state, and country is a hefty dose of understanding to take on. Peace is not about singing cumbia songs, wearing flowers in your hair, fighting, or demonstrations. It’s about listening with your whole heart, mind, and soul. It’s approaching it with the right attitude and beginning right where you are, one step at a time. We can agree to disagree gracefully, but maybe what’s most important is remembering how different we each are. Life is like a giant puzzle, and we are trying to find what our piece of the puzzle has to offer in the bigger picture of life.

It reminded me of the time Tom and I stayed at a place called The Bedford Inn. They had these wooden puzzles with unusual shapes. People would stop by and fit a few pieces of the puzzle together. Each time you passed by the puzzle, the picture became clearer. But the following day, the puzzle pieces would be scattered all over the table, ready to be put together all over again. That’s the way peace is; you have to keep working at it and starting all over again.

Reflection: Every day, peace begins with you and me. Maybe today we can finish the puzzle together, and tomorrow start with a new understanding that what we all have to offer creates a better good.

Day 161: The Value of Things

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“A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.” ~ Susan Sontag

We can take anything the world offers and turn it into something valuable to us or turn it into something bad, evil, or ugly. Take a rock, for instance; it could be a cornerstone in a building. It could be made into a tool, sharpened into a knife or arrowhead. It could be carved into a trinket or made into a piece of jewelry, or even used as a nutcracker. A rock is a thing, and it becomes what we make of it, nothing more and nothing less. The value we place upon a thing is the thought that we put into it. The rock can be used as a tool for life or as a weapon to destroy. Only we can place a personal value on the things we treasure. A thing cannot hurt us all by itself. It doesn’t have a mind of its own. It cannot be good or evil just because someone else thinks it is. It’s only a thing like empty-calorie with no substance or value but what we place on it and how we chose to use it ourselves.

Reflection: I have pictures of loved ones who are no longer with me. They are irreplaceable treasures. I have a little statue of St. Frances of Assisi. The presence of it reminds me to pray for peace in the world. I have a wedding band I wear upon my finger. It represents the eternal circle of love I have for Tom. I have found that the things I value most are the ones used in combination with all that is good and right in the world. With Love to guide us, how can a “thing” go wrong?

Day 160: The Value of Reflection

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In the mirror is where we find a reflection of our appearance, but in a heart is where we find the reflection of our soul. -Unknown

When I think of reflection, I can’t help but see the sun’s rays shining through a break in the clouds. More than just being a reflection of the sun, it stirs a feeling in me as if God is reaching from the heavens to remind us of the beauty of love, and it makes me want to stretch myself out and reflect that same love to others.

When we practice the values of reflection, we reflect not only the things we have learned in life, but we reflect on our thoughts and, hopefully, the truth we live. I can talk all I want about the things I know, but being an honest reflection is far more effective through my actions and how I live them out in my life. Another word’s if you’re going to talk the talk, then your reflection should be to walk the walk. Reflective practice helps us create ownership over the things we claim to be our truth and helps us internalize it for ourselves. Life allows us to grow and change through experience, and we developed insight as we internalize the ongoing life lessons. We can retain better when we put into practice the things we want to reflect into the world.

Reflection: I aspire to live up to my own truth. I hope I am a reflection of that truth to you.

Day 159: The Value of Mystery

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“Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” ~Soren Kierkegaard

In our modern world today, we have instant knowledge in the palm of our hands. Just ask Google. Google knows everything except how to explain the mysteries of life we experience. The mystery is found when we look deeper into the place of wonder. There is as much mystery in an artist’s painting as there is in the words of poetry. But I have often found the simplest mysteries in nature. The birds are carrying on songs and conversing with each other as I write this. While I don’t understand the meaning of each chirp, the mystery of it is not for me to solve, but maybe to simply enjoy. How about our senses? It’s incredible the way they work for us. I’m sure science could explain how they work. Still, I like thinking of them as part of my unique individual personality that works in a way that makes me a mystery to other people.

A mystery is as much a mystery to us as spirituality is. They are the seen but unseen things that the limited human understanding cannot prove. God’s not a man. We cannot put God on the same level of thinking as we have. So how do we prove that God exists? I don’t know. I can only attest to something that lives inside me that is greater than I am without it. So the value of mystery is what we let it bring into our lives that take us to places that enlighten us beyond our human limitation.

Reflection: Instead of wasting time trying to figure out the mysteries of life, I enjoy where the mysteries take me without questioning God’s spiritual intent. It takes practice to let go of our control so God’s mysteries can flow.