2 August  2016      

Hello, and welcome to today and to our brand-new month.
We hope that you enjoy this issue and that you make this
month the best month of your year so far!

 Begin the Healing
Suzanne Zoglio

Transform Expectations into No-Matter-Whats
M.J. Ryan

Giving Up
tom walsh

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Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.

Henry David Thoreau

We must accept finite disappointment,
but we must never lose infinite hope.


Martin Luther King, Jr.

The people who say you are not facing
reality actually mean that you are
not facing their idea of reality.

Margaret Halsey

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.

Rachel Carson

  

Begin The Healing
Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.

When life as we know it comes crashing down around us, our hearts ache, our minds go numb, a haze seems to surround us. We are shocked, angry, and sad beyond anything we've ever felt before. We are frightened and shaken. We ask, "Why? How could this happen?" And often, we ask, "Why me? Why us? Why them?" Our faith is tested…and also our resolve. We might wonder if we will find the strength to go on…or if we even want to go on. It's all so overwhelming. Here are 10 steps to help you move forward.

1. 
Schedule quiet time.  Do what you have to do each day, but schedule at least 15 minutes of silence every day for a while. Take a walk alone before work, stop at noon for a bit of reflection, or meditate each evening before bed. Use the time to reflect, weep, pray, or just sit and be aware.

2. 
Accept your feelings.  Don't try to push them away. Healing begins with identifying our emotions…whatever they are. Fear, guilt, regret, anger, or sadness…accept them as they surface.

3. 
Express your feelings. Write in a journal, pen a poem, sketch a drawing, or write a letter to a dear friend.

4. 
Connect with people.  Be with family, friends, or church groups.

Share your pain, and comfort each other. Talk to a counselor, if you wish, or a spiritual leader, but be open to the love and comfort available to you. Know that you are not alone.

5. 
Create remembrances of what has been lost.  Hold a memorial service and ask close friends to share memories in a book. Assemble a photo scrapbook of someone lost, or a video collage of treasured moments. Frame a special note or a shared favorite quote. Perhaps you can find a small object (a ring, photo, or small piece of glass?) that will help you to feel connected. Keep it close to you and hold that love forever in your heart.

6. 
Pass along the love.  One way to honor a life lost is to give others what meant so much to you…a tender touch, an understanding smile, a shoulder to lean on, or the boost of positive energy.

7. 
Contribute what you can.  Donate to an appropriate cause, offer prayers of healing, volunteer your time, give blood, or support your local rescue workers.

8. 
Be an emotional support.  Hold someone who is grieving. Listen generously. Tell your own story of this and past recovery so others will not feel alone.

9. 
Commit acts of kindness. In your workplace leave anonymous notes of appreciation, offer to help someone who's on a tight deadline, or simply bring in a breakfast treat. In your community, you might adopt a homeless pet, volunteer to deliver meals on wheels, or rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. Show more patience with everyone you meet.

10. 
Live each day in meaningful ways.  Revisit what's important to you, and then schedule it in. Make time for birthday parties and coffee with friends. Tell people what they mean to you. Stop to give thanks for all that you have. Use your gifts every day. Hug your children more…teenage or not!

And remember that we all heal in different ways and at differing speeds. Follow your heart. Take time to feel, take care of yourself, and take one step at a time.
   

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Transform Expectations into No Matter Whats
M.J. Ryan

The most ungrateful person I know is an older woman who can't see the beauty of her life because she is so bitter that it didn't turn out the way she thought it should.  She has a lovely home and garden, healthy, bright, successful children, a fifty-year marriage, and the means and health to travel.  No one in her immediate family has died or been seriously ill, she's never known poverty or lack; she is, from all external measures, highly privileged, with much to be grateful for.  And yet all of what she has is completely invisible to her because somehow it doesn't match the picture of what she expected.  Her kids don't live close enough or visit often enough; she wishes there was even more money; her marriage isn't as loving as she desires.  Her ingratitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy, for the more she complains, the more lonely and isolated she finds herself as friends and family grow weary of her moaning.

To me, this acquaintance is an important teacher in  the practice of gratitude--a vivid example of how expectations can create blinders so that we can't even see the true blessings of our lives.  Expectations are the killers of gratitude and joy:  If you expect to live in the Taj Mahal, your cozy little cottage will feel pretty awful; if you expect your son to become a doctor, you can't appreciate him for the fine bodyworker that he is; if you focus on how you are going to be miserable without a BMW, your trusty, rusty Toyota that reliably gets you around will only bring you misery.

Having hopes, dreams, and visions for the future is one thing; it's important to have goals and schemes pulling us into the future.  But we need to be careful that such envisioning doesn't get in the way of appreciating the things we have in the here and now.  Let's not miss the beauty of our actual lives while we're lusting after a mythical perfect life.

If we expect someone or something outside ourselves to make us happy, we lose our power.  The truth is we can't count on anything except our ability to choose how to respond to what happens to us.  One way to counteract the tendency to look outside ourselves for happiness is to practice No Matter What.  Before you go into a situation, ask yourself, "What is it that I can learn, accomplish, or experience here, no matter what happens?"  Let's say you have to give a speech and are nervous about how it will be received.  Your No Matter What might be, "No matter what, I want to experience a sense of peace while talking.  As I look out into the audience, I'll remember to breathe and notice that at my core there is peace."  Afterwards, no matter what else happened--that people appeared bored, or no one came up to thank you--you can still appreciate yourself for having kept your commitment to experience peacefulness.

When we practice No Matter What, we are no longer hooked by expectations to externals--other people, other events--but are free to choose what we will focus on to make us happy.
  
  

Gratitude creates a powerful state of happiness because it returns us to the natural place where we notice what's right instead of what's wrong. In Attitudes of Gratitude, M. J. Ryan teaches us how to unlock the fullness of life through the expression and exercise of a grateful heart. In a series of brief, evocative essays, she inspires us to discover and distill a sense of gratitude in every aspect of our lives and offers practical suggestions to help us focus on all that we have, rather than our perception of what may be lacking.

   
   

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A child is entitled to sane messages from adults.  How parents and
teachers talk to children will help them to know how they should
feel about themselves.  Their statements affect the child's self-esteem
and self-worth.  To a large extent, their language determines the child's destiny.

Haim Ginott

   

 

Giving Up

For some reason, we put an incredibly negative slant on the term "giving up."  We see it as a reflection of a lack of character, as something that someone does in admitting defeat and not having enough perseverance to continue doing something that may or may not be worth doing.  The fact is, though, that giving up may be one of the most important strategies that we can learn in life, as long as we keep in mind that the most important element in giving up is recognizing when it's best for us--and the other people in our lives--to do so.

A good leader in battle knows when it's time to retreat so that the troops can live to fight another day.  A good politician sees when it's time to stop battling and simply get the job done, so that he or she can move on to more important work.  In my life, I recently realized that the job I was at didn't offer the elements I need professionally and personally, so it was time to move on.  Many people have attempted to climb mountains such as Everest, only to have to give up the effort short of the goal--and they've lived to enjoy another day, to climb more mountains.

On the other hand, history is full of stories of military leaders who didn't retreat when they could have, and have caused the deaths of many troops.  Some politicians get so strongly set in their positions on one issue that they neglect other important things, thus letting down their constituents.  There are also many stories of climbers who had everything go against them, yet they still continued their efforts, only to lose their lives on the mountain itself.

Giving up should be seen as being strongly related to the concept of letting go.  Generally, we take on a task with a specific outcome in mind, such as successfully completing a task or continuing to learn and grow in a job or a process.  Sometimes we get so focused on the desired outcome that we stop paying attention to the process we're going through, and we start to make ourselves miserable by continuing to do something that's neither gratifying nor fulfilling.

Think about it:  A marathon runner is going to give up the race at 14 miles, 12.2 miles short of the goal, if he or she breaks a leg.  It's that simple--the broken leg is a very clear and unambiguous sign that the runner should give up.

Many of us continue to go on with things, though, even when we're suffering worse than we would from a broken leg.  We go on in destructive relationships because we can't bear the thought of breaking things off, of "giving up" on the other person.  We refuse to leave jobs because we're afraid we won't find something else that's going to be better for us.

There is a negative side to giving up, of course.  When someone hasn't even made a real effort to accomplish something or make things work then giving up can be disastrous, affecting the person's self-image and confidence.  We should do everything we can to encourage people to persevere only when we know that they haven't really made the effort yet to accomplish something they really want to do.

When kids are growing up, they may go through lots of stages.  They may become interested in tennis, then give it up for the guitar, which they then give up for drawing, which they then. . . you get the point.  This kind of experimentation doesn't establish them as quitters for the rest of their lives; rather, it gives them a broader scope of interests from which they can pull when they're older.

Giving up doesn't necessarily mean that a person is a quitter; in fact, giving something up can be one of the most positive actions that any person can take--think of cigarettes for the smoker, alcohol for the alcoholic, and sweets for the diabetic, for example.  When we get a healthy view of what giving up actually is, then we can look at some of the things that we're doing now and make better decisions about whether or not we want to continue doing those things, for giving up on some things definitely makes more room in our lives for things that are better for us and more fulfilling.

   

   
More on letting go.

   

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"The things we see," Pistorius
said softly, "are the same things
that are within us.  There is no
reality except the one contained
within us.  That is why so many
people live such unreal lives. 
They take the images outside
them for reality and never allow
the world within to assert itself."

Herman Hesse

  

Be

Be understanding to your enemies.
Be loyal to your friends.
Be strong enough to face the world each day.
Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.
Be generous to those who need your help.

Be frugal with what you need yourself.
Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.
Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.
Be willing to share your joys.
Be willing to share the sorrows of others.

Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.
Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.
Be the first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.
Be the last to criticize a colleague who fails.
Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble.

Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the wrong way.
Be loving to those who love you.
Be loving to those who do not love you, and they may change.
Above all, be yourself.

--unattributed

   
  

We need in love to practice only this:  letting each other go.
For holding on comes easily--we do not need to learn it.


Rainer Maria Rilke

    

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