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.



When Time Stops

“Bad things happen fast, but we live through them slow.” ~ C. Corinthos

It’s in the aftermath of a tragic event that life takes on slow motion. Because sometimes things that happen are so big and so terrible, and they hurt so bad, that we just can’t process them all at once. We have to learn to adjust. Slowly. One day at a time.

Sometimes it’s day by day, or it may be hour by hour, or even minute by minute. When we think, how can I survive what happened? How will my life ever be normal again? We know damn sure that it won’t be the same. Because tragedy changes you. You will not be the same as you were before. Time will mark before and after. It’s a slow road back.

I’ve been thinking about this after a friend sent me an article saying that many empaths have survived childhood trauma. You? she wonders. Yes, me, too I reply.  I’ve read several articles about this. We seem to have this experience in spades. For myself, someone intentionally tried to extinguish my inner light. It was a bad thing that happened fast. And this emotional scarring as a child has led me to seek out healers and healing. And my empathic traits expanded exponentially. It’s like I was lifted out of myself for something more.

This poem by Constantine Peter Cavafy is on my desk. He says that our journey is hard, but our strength and resilience can see us through. It’s a reminder to us to keep moving forward and to not let the monsters of our past determine our future. It was a favorite of Jackie Kennedy Onassis who survived tremendous public tragedy, and it was read at her funeral.

As you set out in search of Ithaka,                                                                                                              pray that your journey is long,                                                                                                                        full of adventures, full of awakenings.                                                                                                            Do not fear the monsters of old…                                                                                                                You will not meet them in your travels                                                                                                             if your thoughts are exalted and remain high,                                                                                                  if authentic passions stir in your mind, body and spirit.                                                                               You will not encounter fearful monsters                                                                                                           if you do not carry them within your soul,                                                                                                        if your soul does not set them up in front of you.