Prayers vs. Pandemic

Here are some great and easy YouTube videos to follow to assist you in praying for loved ones during the pandemic. DailyEffectivePrayer has many short and easy-to-follow prayers that you can use. They are usually about 4 minutes long each. These are just a few of the collection. Consider your own loved ones. Does one of these categories fit that loved one? Then click on the link below and just listen and follow along with the words.

At this time, I also like these 3 prayers. The first is Psalm 91, a protection prayer against pestilence that is the exact opposite number of COVID-19. According to some videos regarding Psalm 91, the words in Hebrew have many symbols over the tops of the letters. This is supposed to mean this is a very strong spiritual warfare prayer for your family. The second video is a short hedge of protection prayer. In the biblical story of Job, a special hedge of protection surrounded Job and kept him from harm. The third video is a longer prayer but talks about pleading the blood of the lamb over your family during the pandemic. It draws from the Passover story of the Israelites.

Rejection is Just Redirection

Have you ever experienced an online troll?  What about a “hater” or even a “group of haters”? 

(By the way, this is a great song about the whole “haters gon’ hate” vibe.  To go off on a short tangent, I really love this song.)

What about someone in your environment who, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get them to treat you right?  Or maybe just someone or something that leaves you drained?    

Here’s some simple tips:

  1.  Take time out for you and practice self-care/self-love. 
  2. Be wise to the negative behaviors of others but hold yourself to a higher standard and do not stoop to that level. 

“I am sending you out as sheep among wolves, so be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  Matthew 10:16.

  • “Do not cast your pearls before swine.”  Matthew 7:6.  This is not to say that other people are necessarily bad.  Perhaps they are not at a point in their lives that they are willing and able to receive you with love and respect.  If this is so, do not waste your energy and time trying to prove your worth to them.  Life is short and precious, it should not be wasted continually trying to be perfect for someone else’s expectations of you.  Make your own expectations.  Meet your own goals.  Dress the way you want.  Think the way you want.   You are not unworthy.  You are enough.  They just fail to see the treasure that you are, even if you may appear to be a diamond in the rough.  Remember, in this life, we do not know who God treasures either.  Some people would be the least you would expect.  Treat people fairly and stand up for yourself when you feel in your heart that you are not being treated fairly by others. 
  • Let go of bitterness and get your spirit back.  Bounce back from hardship like you’re Walter Payton.  This is extremely hard.  First, learn to take the L.  Second, learn to forgive.  Third, vow to not let the pattern repeat itself.  Respect yourself enough not to allow it to happen again.  Fourth, understand that what others meant for your harm, God may have intended for your good.  This is called providence.  It was providence that made Joseph a powerful influence in Egypt to prevent the famines despite all he went through.  Providence worked in his life and it works in your life too.  It’s just hard to see when you’re in the trenches.   You just got to believe.  Sometimes, though, we pray and pray and pray on something and it still doesn’t happen.  That’s another life lesson right there.  The failure, the rejection, the divorce, the bad grades, the whatever is going on in your life…..it is teaching you to first lean not on your own understanding of things but on a spirituality, and second, it is teaching you to love yourself.  The full and total rejection moment will teach you to find value in you, to regain your self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth.  Remember as Rocky says in this short motivational speech, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.  It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.  You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.  But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit.   It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

 Keep moving forward towards your goals.  If you have to, start very small.  Work on your hygiene first.  Work on the way you dress.  Work on your hair, make-up, style, etc.  Go back to the gym or church or wherever you find positive vibes and happiness from meeting goals.  Don’t let others tell you not to do these things.  Do them because you need to do them to improve your self-esteem.   Raise that bar first and then move out from there to your surroundings and your interactions with others.  Begin, at the same time, to strip away that which does not serve you.  Are there behaviors or traits you have taken on that are not good?  Substance abuse problems?  Addictions?  Unhealthy habits?  What about people you interact with that wear you down?  Begin to set boundaries not just with certain people but with things you do throughout the day.  Ask yourself, do I really want to do this thing or is this something I am doing because so-and-so wants me to do it?  Once again, this comes back to self-love and self-respect.  It is not selfish to say no.  It is awareness that you need to raise the bar on your self-esteem/self-worth.  Likewise, choosing to not date certain people or hang out with certain folks that bring you down…..that is not arrogance but self-awareness that you need to protect your energy.  Your energy is vital to your overall health and success.  So start small.  Take the baby steps which can turn in to bigger steps down the road. 

These are the things I am telling myself now.  I too have faced a personal setback and I am re-learning this now.  It is a thing I have to continually re-learn painfully.  You would think I would get it the first time but no, I keep having to re-hash it over and over as I believe a lot of people do.  One thing that really helps me is YouTube.  Here’s some video advice from folks way, way, way smarter than me about how to do it.  The first three videos are about self-love.  The fourth is Maya Angelou reciting, And Still I Rise.  The two other videos are inspirational pastor sermons.  These are my two favorite sermons of all time that I must admit, I have to go back to again and again when “my chips are low” and I feel myself entering that defeated mindset mode.  I highly, highly recommend watching these sermons!  However, they are each long but packed with valuable info.  I hope that you like these videos too (please share with me as well, any videos you think would help me) and remember that whatever I am going through and whatever you are going through, we are in this together and you are enough, you are valuable, you are worthy.  Think like Walter Payton and bounce yourself back up.  Let’s get to it!    

Choose Faith or Choose Fear

It’s a cold, cold night. The winter storm is coming. Tomorrow is supposed to be -35 degrees. I am warm inside the house. I let my dogs out for 5 minutes and then bring them back inside. They whimper because the ice is frigid. It hurts their paws.

The storm is coming.

I could worry about everything. Will my car start? Will I make it through the snow and ice? What about the storms at work? What if someone else gets Covid? What will we do? What about this? What about that?

What if…What if…What if…

2022 is not starting out well. We are stuck in a bad, bad approaching storm. Think about the economy, think about Covid, think about the supply chain shortages, think about this, think about that…..think about all the bad stuff on the news…….get all filled up with anxiety and fear. Get all angry and frustrated and all worked up.

Or…..

choose to stay calm. Choose faith. Not the crazy blinding stupid faith that totally ignores the potential dangers. No the kind of faith that informs the serenity prayer.

Lord, help us to accept the things we cannot change and give us the courage to know the difference between what we can and what we cannot do.

I went to Galilee when I was 21. It was a study abroad for a summer. We took a rickety old metal bus up to the Golan Heights for the day and then on the way back, we stopped at an outside cafe. We got the wild notion to swim in the Sea with our clothes on. I still remember the joy of that moment swimming in the Sea with friends.

It really wasn’t that big, the Sea of Galilee. You could see the other side….much like a big Missouri lake. I wondered then what the disciples were so afraid of when the storms tossed their boat around and the waves threatened to come over the sides. Why did they panic? Jesus was asleep in the boat and they came to him and asked him to save them. Now, I realize that they probably didn’t know how to swim. That would be scary for sure.

Anyway, he got up and told them to have faith and then he calmed the waters to ease their minds.

We’re all kinda stuck in a Galilee boat and we don’t know what to do and we’re worried that this dang disease is gonna drown us. But remember what JFK said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Fear causes anxiety and procrastination and arguing and in-fighting and endless stupid drama which only serves to compound our problems. It causes the blame game and finger pointing. People stop fixing things and looking for solutions. Instead, they just throw shade and throw each other under the bus in an attempt to save their own hide. Every man for himself like we’re on the Titanic and there’s only one lifeboat left.

Admit it. You’ve done this. I’ve done it too. But this time…

Relax. Stay calm. Stay the course.

We’ll get out of this.

The man who wrote the song Amazing Grace was once in a storm too off the coast of England. He tied himself to the boat and he asked for mercy. He came through the storm and gave up his profession of slave trading. He went on to become a prolific preacher and hymn writer and we still sing his songs to this day.

It’s getting colder and colder outside. I could sit here and worry myself to death about the endless possibilities of what could go wrong. Or I could sit here and write something encouraging.

I choose to write.

The Opportunity to Help Heroes

I just work HR. It’s not very glamorous. All day long I help the company process paperwork. Today, I did 3 leave forms, payroll, helped with tuition reimbursement for 2 nurses, put in schedules for traveler nurses, and filled out lots of forms for helping medical staff with work comp in case of Covid quarantining. I help to ensure they get paid and get their benefits to support their families. Sometimes I screw up. But sometimes I am glad I am there to help.

All across America and the world, the medical staff are getting hit hard by the pandemic. It is not just the disease. It is the long hours, the double shifts, the struggles between work and family. It’s working extra to make sure the patients are okay. It’s holding hands. It’s not just meeting medical needs but psychological needs and basic needs like feeding and hygiene for the people they care for. It is wearisome to say the least.

I see it everyday. I see the exhaustion. I see the burnout and frustration. But I also see how hard they are working. I see how much extra they do with no thanks. I see the risks they take every day. I see them gowning up and getting N95 masks on that are really uncomfortable to wear. I see them working together to keep patients safe and bringing food trays to rooms and locking down facilities and screening visitors endlessly to try to keep the covid out. I see them getting through the winter snow to work. I see them playing music for the patients to cheer them up or doing all sorts of activities to keep the patients happy.

It’s not the big things. It’s the little things. It’s the little choices they make every day that make the medical personnel and medical admin heroes. It is getting up in the dark in the morning and getting scrubs on even though you want to call in. It’s showing up and clocking in and going through all the testing requirements from upper management. It’s showing care and compassion when they could easily turn a blind eye because they are overwhelmed. It’s a thousand little decisions made over and over day after day after day after endless day to stick it out for better or in this case, worse and worse and far worse.

It is an endless battle with an invisible enemy that keeps morphing over and over again and again. It would be easy to give up hope….and so many have. But I see in my own workplace, folks that just keep going and keep hoping and keep scheduling and keep administering and keep nursing and keep feeding patients and keep watching over them at night.

In Batman, the Dawn of Justice, there is a scene when Batman runs towards trouble while everyone around him is fleeing. You can watch it here if you want. I think medical people are like that but on a grander scale, a longer time scale. There is no fantastic explosion. Instead, it is decision after decision after decision to treat and maintain and prevent.

The choice to be a medical hero is not that simple. Watching it from the sidelines, it’s way harder than I had any idea of.

It’s countless endless decisions to not give up even through Delta, even through Omicron, even through this new Florina. It’s the internal decision to soldier on. It’s the decision to stay positive amidst adversity, as one of my colleagues said to simply, “Take one day at a time.” He said the key is to not look at the big picture but just focus on the day, getting through the day. That is the best advice I’ve gotten since working this job.

I’m honored to help them. I know I make mistakes sometimes with the paperwork and sometimes the procedures and processes can frustrate or seeing the medical staff burdened can make you feel god awful. But overall, I am glad I took this job.

I work with heroes. Real heroes. Not the kind that wear spandex and capes. And that’s not just rhetoric. It’s true. These are the real kind. I wonder what stories we will tell of them many years from now if we all make it through this pandemic.

Tonight, if you just google hospitals, you will read countless articles about the hospitals and other nursing facilities under siege. My own cousin came down with Covid in Kansas. All the hospitals were full up and they were considering life-flighting him all the way to New Mexico to a hospital there. That is how bad it is for the medical facilities right now.

If there was any time the medical staff in America could use your thoughts and prayers, it’s now.

Heroes run towards trouble even when others run the opposite direction. It’s a gut decision, a split second decision. They just do it. That’s how you know someone is a hero.

As they say in the St. Jude’s hospital commercial, “Hope is when you never give up.”

Remember, the stars shine brightest only on the darkest of nights.

2 Writing Publishing Opportunities

There is a new climate change-focused website that is publishing prose and poetry. It is called XR Creative and can be found at https://www.xrcreative.org. I got a message from the Joplin Writers’ Guild about the new site so I submitted a story called Golden Child about a young boy during the climate crisis. If you want to submit prose or poetry, they are accepting entries. Check it out! Great stories and great opportunity to get published and share your ideas.

Also, I submitted 2 stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Remember these fantastic books in the 90s? I had several of them and I still have the Mother edition today. Love these books. I wrote a story about Christmas and one about dogs. The submission deadline for most of the Chicken Soup books is around March or May 2022. The website is super easy to use. Check it out at http://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/submit-your-story.

Trending on Netflix

This article is about the first episode of the #1 trending show on Netflix called The Squid Game. Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the show, go ahead and skip this article. I don’t want to ruin it for you. It’s a pretty good show.

I wanted to write about the red light/green light game in the show. This is a game many of us have played as children. Perhaps it was part of our pre-conditioning to the game of life itself. In the show, the premise of the game is simple. When the rule maker calls green light you run towards a finish line. When the rule maker says red light you must freeze. If you move during the red light period you will lose. In the Squid Game episode, you don’t only lose but are “eliminated.”

There is a timer. You got 5 minutes to make it to the finish line and win. If you don’t, you also lose or are “eliminated.”

Red light/green light is the game of adult life. It is also the game scenario of any major battle in war. There are many important things you can learn from watching The Squid Game red light/green light game and I encourage you to think about it carefully.

Imagine The Squid Game red light/green light game was put in a different story. Imagine the American Civil War and the game players are required to make it across a field to the “finish line” or past the enemy. Imagine Union soldiers in uniform in battle. The red light/green light game is the story of what can happen in that battle and the quick assessments and decisions that must be made. Remember, the field of victory is won by the man of action. The field of defeat or failure is given to the man of inaction or the coward who retreats. I’ll talk about this later. There are really only three groups of people on the playing field: men or women of action, men or women of inaction (those who are frozen), and men and women of retreat (those who succumb to panic and fear). In life, it is really just the doers, the dreamers, and the cowards.

If you are young and you are reading this, which one will you choose to be? I’ll explain more in a moment.

Ok, so studying the red light/green light game carefully from the beginning, we see that the players are conditioned with fear, panic, anxiety a little before the actual game starts. They are put in a strange new environment together. They are assigned numbers and taught a few things ahead of time. They are given some time to interact together which makes them collectively question things. Right away, we see who the super villain is of the group and we see the one who is being bullied by the super villain. This will come into play later.

The contestants are run through a strange new environment that appears to consist of standing in long lines and going up levels and having to take photos to be identified. Right away, we also meet the cocky sure-fire and comedic fools who will attempt to lead right off the bat in the red light/green light game and fail completely while the others watch. Their “elimination” will drive a pivotal moment in the game when the players all realize the true stakes of the game and must decide to either freeze, progress forward, or run back to the starting line.

I would argue that this red light/green light game is like the game of adult life. Instead of 5 minutes, you are given 5 decades to get to the finish line of winning, or retirement. You must progress through the green light moments and be cautious and smart and stop during the red light moments. You must not get caught. You must not get disabled. You must not run back to the starting line of returning back home to parents after failure or returning too much to school for degree after degree or professional studentship after failure in employment or returning back to your hometown in the face of shame……etc. etc. you get the point. You only got five decades. You need to be progressing through each decade steadily like a turtle….not like the fools out front or like the hare in the Aesop Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. Stay in the middle. Don’t be at the front. Don’t be at the end.

It’s a little bit like that other game from our childhood, that board game called Chutes and Ladders. In Chutes and Ladders, you got 100 spaces to move up to the end. You spin the wheel. Some spaces you land on will have small ladders. Sometimes you hit the jackpot and get on a tall ladder all the way to the top. But there are also slides or chutes. Some of the slides just go down a few levels. There is one terrible dreadful slide that goes all the way down to the beginning. It is super frustrating……but you can still win the game if a lot of luck is on your side and you are smart and take very good calculated risks.

So back to red light/green light….you should be making slow and steady progress like the turtle throughout the decades but there are some players who freeze in inaction early on or later throughout the game, perhaps they can’t make up their mind about life goals or perhaps when they see a loved one down on the ground either eliminated or almost eliminated. Those people can still win the game but it is much much harder for them and they need lots of luck, brains, and moxy. They gotta take big risks.

Ok so what are the other very important things we learn about the Squid Game red light/green light game as it correlates to the game of adult life. We learn that the pre-game of being in a strange new environment, standing endlessly in lines, going up levels and such…..it’s very similar to childhood or schooling. It also, whether intentional or not, serves to place panic, anxiety, and even dread in the players.

The word “panic” itself comes from the mythological creature Pan. He was said to play strange music. Panic originates from ancient times when during battles between two opposing forces, one or the other or both sides would announce their presence far before being seen on the battlefield through the use of sound or music. Imagine being a Roman soldier encountering the Barbarians of the Germanic tribes and over the crest of the opposite hill while you stand in file for war, you hear the loud beating of ominous drums. These drums are intended to scare you or make you panic long before you actually see the faces of the soldiers on the opposing side. The Barbarians would use other similar tactics to instill fear…..such as war paint or carrying creepy totems or human skulls on stakes, or carrying terrible weapons with spikes and chains and stuff.

The whole point of panic is to get half the players retreating and giving up before the action even starts and then there’s a good portion of the players that are just frozen in terror between retreating or pressing forward.

Ok, so we’ve already established that there is a pre-game that intentionally or not will get you scared and adrenaline coursing through your body ahead of time. We’ve established that on the field of play, the greatest problem you face is fear, panic, or anxiety. We’ve talked about how bad retreating is or moving away to get a fresh start in the fight or flight response or perhaps giving up on a goal and heading back to your hometown. We’ve talked about the importance of slow, steady progress that is smart. We talked about the fools out front of the pack who only serve as lessons to the rest of us of what not to do and drive the pivotal moment of intense fear or dread when they fail or are eliminated horribly. And lastly, we learn that prisoner 456 freezes in inaction for a large portion of the 5 minutes on the timer but he resumes moving forward. We learn that he can still win and cross the finish line but he needs a lot of luck, smarts, and to take risks.

But what are the really smart and strategic things we learn from watching The Squid Game red light/green light game?

We learn that family, friends, neighbors…..community or rather other people who feel devotion to us……this is very important. Remember that prisoner 456 is the older brother to the younger man in the game who convinces prisoner 456 to stop freezing and start moving forward or he will be eliminated by not crossing the line in the 5 minutes deadline. The younger brother who feels a devotion to the older brother because the older brother helped him go to college and helped raise him, returns the favor by taking a calculated risk to hide behind another player and tell prisoner 456 two important things. First, he tells him to move or he will lose or die. Second, he tells him to survive, prisoner 456 should hide behind the body of another player as he progresses forward. This is very smart.

What does this mean in the real world game of adult life?

Don’t be the fool at the front nor the sloth at the back. Hustle. Find a mentor. Find someone to get behind that can help you progress forward. Keep moving behind them as long as you can whether it’s a parent or boss or supervisor or teacher or coach. Also, stay to the middle. Be smart. Move fast on a green light. Watch for red lights and be prepared to stop long before the red light is called. Red lights in the game of adult life can be jail, bad jobs, divorces, etc. There are many avoidant behavior paths too that inactive people or retreating people engage in that can make things way worse like substance abuse or procrastination activities.

So prisoner 456 starts moving forward but he is hindered by someone that is shot and on the ground pleading for help. Also later in the game, prisoner 456 himself trips and almost falls but is saved by prisoner 199 who takes a calculated risk to be altruistic and save his life. For this, prisoner 456 will owe prisoner 199 a favor.

Calculated risks of altruism are good in the game because they can help us later when others pay back favors to us. But too much risk for a person that is really in trouble can lead to our detriment or demise even. In the red light/green light game, prisoner 456 determines the first time to ignore the bleeding man on the ground. He is already too far gone. He can’t be helped. Whether in war or life, you have to triage and do a quick assessment of who you can help and who is too far gone. Be altruistic. Develop good karma that can be repaid. But sometimes it is necessary to cut losses. I know that is harsh to say, but this viewpoint is from the perspective of winning the game. There are so many people in life that stop to help a loved one and just self-sacrifice knowing they are going down with the ship and that is their conscious choice. Eventually, they will lose the game.

In the Squid Game red light/green light game, there is a super villain and his bullied victim. As the game starts the bullied victim realizes how she can even sabotage or destroy the super villain but doing so will expose herself to potential elimination. She can easily move the super villain and she lets him know that. In life we can sabotage or out bad guys but it is important to realize that we should not lose ourselves in the process and get ourselves in trouble or develop bad karma as a result as well.

Now the most interesting player in the game is player 1. At the start of the game, it is established that he has a brain tumor and not much odds of living long. He has early trauma at the start of the game. Also, his will to win is stronger because he has less to lose and sorta a cavalier stance towards life. He probably thinks to himself, well it can’t get much worse. He leads the others in the game moving forward and he is cunning and steady. He also has almost a smile or half-crazed look about him that is sorta creepy.

What does this teach us about the game of adult life?

The best players are the ones that experienced early trauma in the game and feel like they have less to lose cause heck, it couldn’t get much worse, and their will to win or determination is very strong with almost a crazy tenacity. You will see these type of folks leading the pack in life. They went through bad, bad stuff early on. They learned a lot about life. They had to go through it to get to it ….so to speak and they have very strong drive and discipline. These are the people that grew up in terrible poverty or fought back from horrible illness or accidents or disability, etc. etc.

So morale of the story? Don’t pamper your kids. You may say to yourself, you are giving them a break and you are being kind to them. You are sheltering them from hardship. No, you’re not. You are making it way worse for them as adults when that pivotal fight or flight moment sets in and they might turn around and flee or freeze in inaction. Teach them early. Teach them while their young. Maybe you’ll give them a fighting chance. I don’t really recommend private schools and such cause they just pamper and protect kids. Put them in public school if you have too. I think Kevin Hart says it best in his new comedy show that private schools turn out soft, scared adults. To quote him directly, “private schools breed bi*****.” And well, he’s sorta right.

I think that covers everything I learned from watching the first episode of The Squid Game red light/green light game. It’s pretty fascinating psychology actually. Oh, and I guess one last point is that whatever actions you make, you will be observed by others. So make sure you make the right decisions…it may come back to help you or hinder you in the future.

So, if you’re young, please watch this part of the show and think about this admittedly long-winded review on the psychology of it. These tips can help you later in life whether you are a soldier on the battlefield or a worker at the office, etc. etc. Remember,

  1. Keep moving forward.
  2. Work steadily towards one goal….the finish line.
  3. Don’t be the first to lead the fray.
  4. Don’t be the last to follow.
  5. Find a mentor or guide to follow.
  6. Slow and steady wins the race like the turtle.
  7. Don’t forget you are on a deadline.
  8. You can freeze momentarily but don’t give up or retreat. He who hesitates is lost.
  9. Stop before the red lights. Be smart. Anticipate the moves of the rule makers.
  10. The only thing you really have to fear is fear itself. Panic, anxiety will ruin you. Stay calm when all hell breaks loose.
  11. You can start over later in life but you better have a lot of grit, good luck, and brains to cross the finish line.
  12. Don’t let the pre-game get to you and psych you out.
  13. Don’t be pampered in your youth and don’t pamper your own kids.
  14. Be altruistric but also triage who you can help and who you cannot.
  15. Stay away from avoidant things like alcohol, drugs, too much social media, video games.
  16. Those people you help in life will one day return the favor. Support your friends, family, neighbors when you can.
  17. If you face trauma, use it as fuel to move forward not as an excuse to be disabled.
  18. Victory comes to the men and women of action. Failure/defeat lies for the men and women of permanent inaction or permanent retreat.

Good luck and I hope you catch a lot of green lights in the game of life.

The Grateful List

On Monday, I went to a virtual conference on personal development and motivation. It was called Unstoppable and you can probably find portions of it on YouTube. It was fantastic! There were so many great speakers like Jamie Kern Lima, Victoria Osteen, Robin Roberts, Tony Robbins, Mel Robbins, Ed Mylett, Jay Shetty, Brendan Burchard, Sara Blakely, Lia Valencia-Key, etc. etc. The conference was great and I really felt energized afterwards by all the new ideas and perspectives. I’ve been trying to build on that momentum from the conference the past few days. My husband is away on a business trip, so I’ve had some time for introspection as well as some time to just focus on the kids and doing a few fun things with them. Last night, we rented the new FNAF Willy Wonderland movie together and they liked it.

A portion of the conference was about gratitude. There was a motivational speaker named Trent Shelton who is the founder of a nonprofit organization called Rehab Time. He is also a former football wide receiver. Trent said something that kinda stuck in my head and I wrote it down. He said, “Don’t let the 1% bad ruin the 99% good.” He was talking about attitude determines altitude and not letting one thing negative in your day ruin all the good stuff that happened to you along the way.

So I spent some time tonight writing out a short list of the things I’m grateful for. I thought this was something I could keep by my bed and kinda scan over in the morning. That’s another thing they really advocated. Several speakers suggested establishing a good morning routine that gives you some time for meditation or reflection or just prayer and such.

Anyways, here’s my list. I didn’t edit it much. It’s just directly what came first to mind. This could help you, if you don’t have a gratitude list already and need some ideas to get started with it.

Things I’m Grateful For:

  • My kids who inspire me and listen to me and encourage me.
  • My husband who makes me smile, laugh, and love.
  • My pets who offer continuous amusement and friendship.
  • My home that protects me.
  • The weather that makes me happy. Heat in the Summer.  Cool breeze in the Fall.  Snow in the Winter and perfection in Spring. 
  • The big blue sky filled with so many white clouds.
  • The warmth of the sunlight on my face.
  • My big oak trees that are beautiful and tall.
  • My birds outside my house that sing.
  • My squirrels that nibble on acorns and bounce around with big fluffy tails.
  • My gardens that bring me peace.
  • My lawn that is green and lush most of the year.
  • My outdoor patios that are inviting for BBQs.
  • The way my house is decorated cozy, eccentric, and just for me.
  • The utilities in my home: the clean water, the electricity, the gas, the flushable toilets, the hot showers, the trash collection.
  • My big fluffy couches that make me fall asleep every time.
  • My closet of quirky clothes I picked out.
  • My bedroom that is my place of rest and safety.
  • My kitchen that is a gathering place for friends and a place to explore cooking/baking.
  • My health that is good.  I am still alive and not suffering daily.
  • My vision so I can see.
  • My heart so I can feel.
  • My head so I can think.
  • My hands so I can build.
  • The tips of my fingers so I can touch softly. 
  • My legs so I can walk.
  • My arms so I can hug.
  • My ears so I can listen to all genres of music.
  • My nose so I can’t smell my dogs’ farts.  I’ve gone noseblind.  It is a blessing.  Trust me.
  • My cars that can drive me around town.
  • My community that is safe, secure, and non-threatening.
  • The people who work for the community:  the firefighters, the policemen, the utility workers, the librarians, the parks and rec, etc. 
  • My neighbors who bless me daily with their waves and smiles.
  • The crosswalk lady at the elementary school who always is kind to me. 
  • My church that is welcoming and so calming to my soul. 
  • My parents who guided me as a child and continue to help me and my children today. 
  • My religion that taught me to sustain and thrive.
  • My job that brings me small daily goals, hard work that makes me feel proud, and a paycheck at the end of the week that helps feed my family.
  • My doctors who take care of me. 
  • My grocery store and other stores around the town that give me daily adventures to find new things. 
  • My television/radio/computer/game consoles that connect me to the world and to new ideas or new people.

My life is little, but it is a good one. I didn’t realize how many great things I took for granted until I wrote this down.

You Cannot Break Love

Love does not come from the heart.

Rather, the heart comes from love. 

The heart may break but the origin of the heart is eternity.

When you understand this,

You understand love. 

For love flows through all things and all times. 

It permeates everything…

The raindrop, the ant, the mountain, the tree.

Why do you cry, silly girl?

Why do you hang your head low? 

Do you think you have lost love?

Do you seek it?

Do you ask yourself when will you find it?

Love is within you.

Love is near, ever present surrounding you

In the winds, the foods, the waters, the books you read, the poems you write, the thoughts you think. 

Love is in all that you do and all that has been done before or will be done in the future. 

Love is life.

Love is reality. 

Love is the past.

Love is the present.

Love is the future. 

Love exists through creation, destruction, and renewal.

Love was there in your first breath and will be there for your last.

Love was there for your ancestors and will be there for your descendants. 

All creations of love will return to the source and then flow out again. 

You cannot lose that which is never lost, never broken, never entirely destroyed. 

Dry your tears. 

Stop dwelling on sadness.

Don’t expect another to provide you this love.

Open your eyes and see love for what it truly is…immortal.    

Connect to that source that flows through you

And no man shall break you anymore.      

You Have the Right to be Here

Perhaps I’ve told you this story before. I have told it so often. But, it does bear repeating I suppose….

There are certain moments in our lives that have a significant impact and will forever shape our destinies like perhaps the birth of your first child, the achievement of a college degree, or the attainment of an important goal. Some of these moments may even appear out of the blue on days which seem quite inconsequential to our existence. This is the story of one of those moments in my own life. It is a true story.

I am not a great writer. However, if I am able to effectively convey this positive message to you, the reader, then it will be worth all the effort.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. It occurred nearly 20 years ago when I was in my mid-20s. America was at war in the Middle East. I was a military spouse and my husband was deployed to Iraq. Also, through some great fortune or twist of fate, I had landed a Department of Defense Government Service Level 7 job south of Washington D.C. Although the title sounds quite auspicious, I assure you that I was merely a secretary. However, I worked for two important people.

They were military Colonels and engineers, highly intelligent and dedicated to their roles. My tasks were simple really. Once or twice a week, they would travel to the Pentagon to report their management of military building projects at bases all over the world. I would arrange their travel plans. Also, I was responsible for maintaining accurately their reports on these construction plans. One large and detailed report I worked on daily was called the War report.

One day, I royally screwed up the War report. We had a meeting and it was noted. I was publicly reprimanded. After all, I worked for the military. Admittedly, I fully deserved the reprimand considering the importance of the document. I endured the discipline in silence but my cheeks got real flush and later, I broke out in hives. It was the first and only time in my life that I broke out in hives.

The next couple of days, I worked diligently at my desk and tried not to mess up again. But, I was pretty quiet and feeling bad. On top of that, I was itchy and I was considering leaving the job.

The other Colonel called me in to his office politely. I rose from my desk and walked over there. He asked me to shut the door to his office and to “Please take a seat.” He remained seated at his desk and I sat down across from him and well,… kept my eyes down a bit.

He didn’t say anything at first. Perhaps he was looking for the right way to approach a conversation. I had assumed he wanted to talk about travel arrangements. He was leaving the very next day for D.C.

We didn’t share much in common, him and I, except our work perhaps. He was much older. He was male. I was female. He was African-American and I was Caucasian. The list of differences could probably go on and on.

Eventually, he motioned to the wall to his left and I looked over at the wall. On the wall were many military decorations that had been awarded to him through his 20+ years of service to the country. Some of them were quite large and prestigious looking. He waited for a moment, then he pointed to a small white piece of paper, handwritten, and framed under glass with just a plain small gold frame around it. It was placed at the center of the wall and seemed unimportant compared to the other items. In fact, I had sorta skipped over it as I had looked at the other awards.

He said, “That one is the most important.” He remained pointing at the little framed paper.

Then he motioned for me to go and look at the item. I got up from my chair and wandered over to the wall. It was a poem, a little poem copied down. The title read The Desiderata and it said it was written by some guy named Max Ehrmann, some guy I had never heard of.

He told me, “Read it.” That’s all he simply said. I stood there at that wall for a while and really read the poem, word for word. When, I finished the last portion of the poem where it read, you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here.

Well, I felt better and as I finished up the final section, I admit I got a little teary-eyed.

I sat back down across from him. We both looked at each other. He was a man of few words and he only really spoke when he had something important to say.

He said, “Go back and just do the best you can. That’s all you can do.”

In hindsight, that was probably about one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me whether he realized his impact or not. He didn’t have to help me but he did in his own unique and wise way. Perhaps this small story seems unimportant to you but it would go on to influence my future.

This poem has a special place in my heart because of that moment. Years later, I would buy a copy of it and I gave it to my children. I read it to them. Years later, I would tell someone here or there about the story. Years later, whenever I was down and out…I would read this poem and feel comforted and hopeful. Whenever I felt unworthy or not valued by others, I would remember the line about the child of the universe.

You have a right to be here.

And years later, today, I write this story to you with the intention that it will inspire you as well. The last few words of the poem are “Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” This is something as I grow older, that I firmly do believe in regarding attitude determining altitude.

I encourage you to take a moment and read The Desiderata. This world, despite all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, is still a beautiful place.

Positive Vibes

Hi guys! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been working on developing two writing projects and they are taking up a lot of my inner daydreams. Thinking about plots and characters and such.

I wonder how many of us have been taking a break from the heavy stuff. The news just makes me sad sometimes and I have to step away for a while, especially the back and forth comments on social media. I feel for the family of George Floyd. I couldn’t even watch that video all the way. It was horrible.

I’m hoping and praying for y’all that life gets better for everyone and things become more inclusive and kind. For all its drudgery and despair, this world is still a beautiful place. I’m sending positive vibes your way tonight.

Unity, peace, love, understanding….these are things I admire and wish for you all.

As the coronavirus ravages and the peaceful protests hit the streets…I’ll be here in my little corner of the world while working my garden, hanging out with my family and pets, and pouring my energies into creative writing.

It’s not much but maybe if we all collectively work on these little things in our lives, it will have a ripple effect of positivity. Focus on building and maybe it will counter the things separating us from our common human connection.

“When it is raining, look for rainbows. When it is night time, look for stars.” Find the silver lining. Keep your face to the sun like a sunflower. Nurture. Grow.

It reminds me of a Tibetan Buddhist ceremony I went to once. The monks spent an entire week building a beautiful, intricate sand design. At the end of the week, the sand was all blown away. Thus is life. But even knowing this reality did not stop the monks from building. And neither should it stop you or me.

Life goes on. We get older. Things fall apart. All is just dust in the wind. What we do now may matter very little in the long run as things we were, things we did, things we tried to accomplish fade away to memories and then become forgotten.

But build we must for what is the purpose of existence if not this. Hope lives through our building efforts and continues through our children. And civilization continues through them and their descendants.

Unity, peace, love, understanding…strive to build these and the world of tomorrow can prosper.