Game Over

“Game over, man! Game over!” I can still picture Private William Hudson (Bill Paxton) yelling this in the movie Aliens when he realizes that  the ship meant to rescue him and his crew was destroyed. They are armed, but it doesn’t matter. They are trapped. Hope is lost. They will die.

“Game over, man! Game over!” was not in the original script. Bill Paxton ad libbed it, and they kept it in. It’s arguably the most memorable line in the film – because it’s over for Private Hudson, but NOT for Ripley. She decides that game will NOT be over until she rescues herself and the little girl.

Aliens was filmed in 1986. Critics still list it as one of the best movie sequels of all time, and it was nominated for many Academy Awards. Yes, it had state of the art special effects and a good script and solid cast. But its worth is that its message still rings true. When do we accept defeat? When do we fight on? And who gets to decide Game Over?

You do. I do. We do. They do. It depends on the situation and the relationship. It often hinges on the question of how much can we take before we are done. How do we want to live? What will we accept? What will we fight for? Is there hope left? Is the situation fixable? There are always some choices involved.

“Game over” can be a good thing in life. It can be a rallying cry for I’m done with this part of my life and I’m moving on to something better, something safer, something more fulfilling, etc. For us “Game over” is usually not life and death – although sometimes it may feel like it – it means we will change, and our lives will change. Like Ripley, we may need to fight our way out of a bad situation, and leave our past/the game behind us. We may not know what the future holds, but we know it will be better than this.

Game over means that this chapter of my life is over and I protect myself and I take care of myself by exiting the game. By leaving, I am moving on, and I am hopeful, and I am not doomed.

Empath’s Prayer

Empath’s Prayer

May I be accepted,

May I be valued,

May I use my insight for the greater good.

May I help others,

May I aid healing,

May I mirror back the best in others.

May I be joyous,

May I be truthful,

May I embrace myself and others with compassion.

May God guide me,

May I shine brightly,

May I find my place in the world.

Amen.

Light a Candle

Lighting candles creates sacred space. It is an ancient ritual, and when you light a candle, the atmosphere in the room changes. The gesture elevates us. The ordinary takes on new shape with its new luminescence and the room feels different.

I learned this from a teacher I had in a continuing education class. She always brought in a little tea light, placed it next to her, and lit it at the beginning of every class. Though a small gesture, it changed the dynamics of the room. The candlelight gave us focus and encouragement as the evening proceeded with exploration of spiritual topics.

Lighting candles is a gesture of hope. We light candles to illuminate the darkness, to lift up our prayers, to ask for blessings, to ask for guidance, to acknowledge our intentions, and to remember those who have gone before us. Lighting a candle is sending out a little signal to God. Hey, I’m still here. I’m trying my best. I’m sending my little prayer up to You. Please see me.

When we light candles, it is a sign of devotion. It is a sign of renewed hope. It may be a remembrance, a prayer, a plea, or a humble thank you that we are sending out into the universe. It is our effort to create a little personal light while embracing a bigger one.

How do we bring this candle lighting ritual into our daily lives? Tea lights help. They are portable. They burn out by themselves. They are readily available. It’s easy to find glass holders for them that add brilliance and color. (I’m enjoying crackle glass holders right now.) Of course for those who prefer traditional candles, there are all shapes and sizes available, too.

When we start the day by lighting a candle, we are sending out our own personal light of hope into the world. And when we end the day with the same ritual, we give reflection and gratitude to the day past. It adds sacredness to the ordinary.

 

 

Desiderata

Desiderata – Words for Life

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

— Max Ehrmann, 1927

 

What Dreams Will Come

Anything can happen in dreams. ANYTHING. That’s why dreams are magical, and dangerous, and wondrous, full of hope and full of terror. In dreams, the door to our unconscious is open. Wide open. And anything becomes possible.

Empaths and highly sensitive people experience life with a certain intensity because we can experience other’s emotions spilling into ours. The same is true in dreams. We find comrades or sense danger within our dream companions. Emotions are magnified and personified. Our dreams are also very vivid. They might seem fantastical, but they feel very real to us.

As a child, I had night terrors on a regular basis. I would awake bathed in sweat and too afraid to return to the dream world. I was an imaginative kid, and the line between real and dream state was just too thin.

Yet, dreams are messengers, although sometimes unwelcome ones. They tell us to look, see, discover, and process. Look what happened to you, see how you can get past it, discover the new worlds out there waiting for you, and we will process it all. If you can’t process it during the day, we will do it at night. (My shadow side used to wait for me downstairs in my dreams, and he was a pretty scary guy. Once I dealt with the big issue with help during the day, he stopped appearing.)

On the flip side, dreams offer adventure and fun. You can meet your personal heroes and hang out with them. (I have!) You can visit new places and literally go anywhere. You can have super powers like flying or being invisible. Because in dreams, boundaries melt away and the possibility of encounters is endless.

Dream life is a part of life. We may be tired with the emotion and adventure of it all, but we can also be in awe for the gift of it too.

 

 

 

Why a Mantra?

“Like a seed planted with the intention of blossoming into a beautiful perennial, a mantra can be thought of as a seed for energizing an intention. Much in the same way you plant a flower seed, you plant mantras in the fertile soil of practice. You nurture them and over time they bear the fruit of your intention.” ~ The Chopra Center

A mantra is a spiritual affirmation. It is a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated. Mantras affirm what we believe or what we seek to believe. Mantras are used in prayer, in mediation, and in yoga. Yet, mantras can also be spoken silently or aloud throughout our day. Mantras center us and guide us.

Om is the most used and recognized traditional mantra. Om shanti is what I lift up these days because this mantra is a prayer for peace. We send peace out into the world as we whisper om shanti“Om has no translatable meaning, but is believed to be the sound of the universe, referred to as the cosmic vibration. Shanti is a Sanskrit word that means ‘peace,’ but is also translated as ‘calm’ or ‘bliss.’….The mantra, om shanti, therefore, calls forth the cosmic peace.”

“As a greeting or parting salutation, om shanti is repeated . . . . as a way of wishing others divine peace. . . . . Two typical mantras are ‘om shanti om’ and ‘om shanti, shanti, shanti.’ The latter symbolizes three forms of peace: peace of the mind, peace in speech and peace in the physical body. It is also thought to represent hope for individual peace, collective peace and universal peace.” (Yogapedia)

More modern or Western mantras take the form of affirmations. They feed your spirit as they encourage your emotional well being and spiritual growth. They are mantras too. They are guides and intentions. Think about what you repeat often to yourself. Do the words guide you to a better place? Do they help you to grow in spirit? Unsure? Google mantras. Google affirmations. Seek and use what is good and true for you. Say it often and with intention.

Be brave.

 

 

Reflections, Not Resolutions

Start the New Year with reflections, not resolutions. Why? It’s a simple reason – because they are much more effective.

When we reflect, we think deeply and carefully about something. Reflection is serious thought and consideration. We can reflect on where we have been, where we are now, and where we want to be in our lives. Self-reflection leads to good planning, goal setting, and general self-improvement. However, our plans and goals are not set in stone. They will change as we change, grow as we grow, to be added to, updated, and improved upon.

Resolute is not even a verb. It is not an action. It is a description meaning unwavering. A resolution is a firm decision is to do or not do something. It is set in stone. And that is the problem with a New Year’s resolution. Stick to it or don’t stick to it. There is no in between. We are winners if we stick to it and losers if we don’t. The odds are 50/50.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for resolutions. We started our country with declarations and resolutions – with unwavering stands. They were and still are good and necessary for law and government  and to publicly determine right from wrong. They are just not the right venue for setting personal goals on New Year’s Eve. Resolutions have nothing to do with growth.

So make a list in pencil, not stone. Set goals and make new plans as the new year starts. Remember that we are not perfect, so we won’t always act perfectly. Mistakes will be made, but our strength is to reflect on what is not working and why, and finding more supports to our goals to make them achievable (instead of beating ourselves up and giving up). The strong person continues on the path even after stumbling.

“Remind yourself that you cannot fail at being yourself.” ~ Wayne Dyer ~ Happy New Year!

The Gift of Time

The best present is presence. Giving of ourselves is the greatest gift we can give someone.                Here’s a top ten list for gifting presence:

10. Give a kind word.

9. Give a phone call.

8. Give laughter.

7. Give hugs.

6. Give encouragement.

5. Give listening to their story.

4. Give sharing your story.

3. Give a shared experience.

2. Give prayers.

1. Give gratitude.

The best present is not a thing. It’s a you. When you give your time to someone, it shows them that they matter. So give of yourself this holiday season. You will feel the warmth of your gift mirrored back, and that in itself is your gift in return. What better feeling for an empath?

Is the World a Friendly Place or Not?

Is the world a friendly place or not? It’s a big question these days. We are pulled in both directions on this one, as we are bombarded daily with stories and visions of tragedy, humanity, and cruelty in the world. These are not times for the faint of heart. And they are hard times for the open hearted. Very hard times.

This question is a version of ~ ” The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly universe or not.” (Albert Einstein) Why so important? Because it’s a choice. Do we believe in construction or destruction? Because it’s an attitude. Do we support or do we put down? Because it’s a lifestyle. Do we seek to help others or hurt others? And if it is a friendly place, then we are in this together. If it is an unfriendly place, then we are in this alone.

The media says not friendly. The news throws cruelty parades at us every day. Networks exalt murder, destruction, and apocalypse in fact and fiction. Heads of state bully, belittle, and openly mock and victimize others on tv and in print. People carry concealed weapons in many states and countries – and it is legally sanctioned. All this suggests that we are in a constant state of high alert for combat. Who wants to live like that?? Not I, and I would wager not most of us.

We can make the conscious choice toward the friendly world view. And we can make the conscious choice to help build it. We can adopt the attitude of tragic optimists – “to say ‘yes’ to life despite the pain” and to counteract it “by the positive forces of hope, faith, and love.” (Viktor Frankl) We can believe humanity can do better and be better, and we can help it along in our daily lives. First, by not being discouraged or silenced. Second, by extending our compassion and light to others. Third, by showing resilience in troubling times.

Fearful people don’t change the world, people with optimism do. Be the change. Be the light.

 

 

 

Where’s Your Joy for Holidays?

“A great feeling of delight and happiness.” <-Definition of joy (Google). Yet, everyone’s joy is different. What gives me joy may not give you joy  – and vice versa. Holidays are a time when how we see joy is magnified. How we see not joy is also magnified. The skill is finding what brings you joy and doing that, and knowing what does not bring you joy and not doing that. Three lessons learned about joy for the holidays ->

Lesson 1 – Worn out people do not feel joy. They just feel tired, overwhelmed, and often resentful during the holiday season. So don’t be a worn out person. Take care of yourself. Sleep, eat, do something just for you, and then do all those other things that you are supposed to do. Remember that peace is supposed to be part of the holiday experience too.

Lesson 2 – Ignore the commercials. Those people are acting – and getting paid for it. It’s not real people being really happy from real experiences and real presents. The premise of every commercial is carefully studied and marketed to get their biggest bang from your buck. Yes, there are some good tearjerkers, and it’s human to relate to those moments. You just don’t have to run out to buy “the thing.” You will have those special moments anyway.

Lesson 3 – Get to the heart of the matter. Bring heart and happiness to yourself and others by spreading joy by doing things that bring you joy and then sharing those things with others. Like baking? Share your yummies with others. Like decorating? Have gatherings in your home. Like music? Play or sing with others. Like shopping? Send gifts near and far. Like contributing? Give time and/or money to charities . Like travel? Spend time with those you love in a new locale. The key is doing what YOU like, not what others think that you should like. Limit obligations and set your own agenda.

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) So find your holiday bliss. Do well, be happy, spread joy, and light it up this season.