28 February 2017
is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday
is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.
lively, precious days. What is there to say except: here
they are. Sifting through my fingers like sand.
we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time, not tomorrow or next
year . . . Today should always be our most wonderful day.
Rachel Naomi Remen
I first met Jeanne, her psychology practice was barely
above water. She shared offices with a group of
physicians, and, desperate to be accepted and work under
what she perceived as the umbrella of their credibility,
she took whatever crumbs fell from their professional
table. Hers was the smallest office in the complex
and hers the only name not listed on the office
door. It was obvious from the first how dedicated
and gifted a therapist she was, and this compromising
attitude troubled me. But Jeanne felt validated by
the association and certain that she needed referrals from
these physicians in order to have patients. She
would stay there two more years.
was a shy person, a little apologetic and sometimes
hesitant in finding the right words. She was also
just the slightest bit clumsy. All this made her
very endearing. You felt somehow at home with her
and safe. Her patients adored her.
day at lunch, she told me that she was moving from her
present office. Pleased, I asked her why she had
decided to leave. "They do not have wheelchair
access," she said. I looked at her in
surprise. She looked away. "Rachel,"
she said, "I have not told you everything about
myself. Years ago when I was young, I had a very
serious stroke. I was not expected to
recover." I was astonished. "I had
no idea," I said. She nodded. "I
know," she replied. "Nobody does."
had noticed her occasional troubles with words and her
awkwardness. But even with my training, I had not
guessed Jeanne was a miracle. I could barely imagine
the focus and determination she had drawn upon all these
years, that she drew upon still, to live her life every
day. "But why have you kept this a secret,
Jeanne?" I asked, astounded.
in tears, she said that for years she had felt damaged and
ashamed. "I wanted to put it behind me,"
she said. "I thought if I could be seen as
normal I would be more than I was." And so she
had guarded her secret closely. Neither her
colleagues nor her parents knew. She had felt
certain that others would not refer to her or want to come
to her for care if they knew. She was no longer sure
this was true.
what do you plan to do now?" I asked her. She
looked down at her hands clasped in her lap. "I
think I will just be myself," she told me.
"I will see people like myself. People who are
not like others. People who have had strokes and
other brain injuries. People who can never be normal
again. I think I can help them be whole.
the past five years, Jeanne has become widely known for
her work. She has been honored by several community
groups and interviewed in the newspapers. She speaks
often and consults for businesses and hospitals. The
many people she has helped refer others to her. For
the first time, her practice is full. Her own name
is on her door. All that she needed in order to
serve was the courage of her vulnerability.
My Grandfather's Blessings, Rachel Naomi
Remen, a cancer physician and master storyteller,
uses her luminous stories to remind us of the
power of our kindness and the joy of being
alive. Dr. Remen's grandfather, an orthodox
rabbi and scholar of the Kabbalah, saw life as a
web of connection and knew that everyone belonged
to him, and that he belonged to everyone. He
taught her that blessing one another is what fills
our emptiness, heals our loneliness, and connects
us more deeply to life. My Grandfather's
Blessings is about how we can recognize and
receive our blessings and bless the life in
people behind the words
and excerpts - Daily
Two - Year Three
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What does it mean to live a full life? How do we
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The Grandest Thing in the World
good character is a precious thing, above rubies, gold, crowns, or
kingdoms, and the work of making it is the noblest labor on earth.
Money-getting has well been called unhealthy when it
impoverishes the mind, or dries up the sources of the spiritual
life; when it extinguishes the sense of beauty, and makes one
indifferent to the wonders of nature and art; when it blunts the
moral sense, and confuses the distinction between right and wrong,
virtue and vice; when it stifles religious impulse, and blots all
thoughts of God from the soul.
is just as important to set apart time for the development of our
aesthetic faculties as for cultivating the money-getting instinct.
A man cannot live by bread alone.
His higher life demands an impalpable food.
It takes a large bill of fare to feed an immortal being.
The mind and soul in a well-developed man are ever more
imperious in their demand for the true and the beautiful than is
the body for material food.
is perpetual wealth, and by the side of him who possesses it the
millionaire who has it not seems a pauper.
Compared with it, what are houses and lands, stocks and
bonds? “It is
better that great souls should live in small habitations than that
abject slaves should burrow in great houses.”
Plain living, rich thought, and grand effort are real
a man’s means, nor his worth, are measurable by his money.
If he has a fat purse and a lean heart, a broad estate and
a narrow understanding, what will his “means” do for
him—what will his “worth” gain him?
What sadder sight is there than an old man who has spent
his whole life getting instead of growing?
If he has piled up books, statuary, and paintings, with his
wealth, he may be a stranger amongst them.
How poor he is if his soul has shriveled to that of a
miser, and if all his nobler instincts are dead!
you call him successful who wears a bulldog expression that but
too plainly tells the story of how he gained his fortune, taking
but never giving? Can
you not read in that browbeating face the sad experience of widows
and orphans? Do you
call him a self-made man who has unmade others to make
himself—who tears others down to build himself up? Can a man be really rich who makes others poorer?
Can he be happy in whose every lineament chronic avarice is
seen as plainly as hunger in the countenance of a wolf?
How seldom are sweet, serene, beautiful faces seen on men
who have been very successful as the world rates success!
Nature expresses in the face and manner the sentiment which
rules the heart.
* * * *
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visions; cherish your ideals;
cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty
that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes
your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all
delightful conditions, all heavenly environment.
Balance in What We Say
We've all heard people
talk about how someone in their lives always criticized
them and never praised them. We've probably had
someone like that in our own lives: a person who
seemed to want to harm us every time they opened their
mouth, and who never seemed to want to say anything
positive. These people tend to be quite toxic,
even though they would say about themselves that they're
"just trying to help" by constantly pointing
out flaws that "need fixed." Or they're
"just trying to help" by constantly giving
advice on how things should be done instead of letting
others find their own ways of doing things.
Or it could be that they simply talk about the same one
or two things over and over and over again, to the point
that others start to avoid them eventually because there
really isn't any talking to them unless you, too, want
to talk about the same things over and over again.
We tend to talk a lot, as that's one of the most
important ways that we build bonds with our fellow human
beings. Unfortunately, though, few of us are
taught when we're young to pay attention to what we say
or to try to balance our communication so that it's more
effective, more loving, and more compassionate. We
tend to learn to say what we want to say, without
thinking about just what we're doing with our
words. And that's a sad thing, because many of our
relationships that fail, do so because of a lack of
effective communication. Paying attention to what
we say and how we say it can help us to show our love
and compassion to other human beings, and even if we
never become perfect communicators (and who does?), we
can still become more effective communicators, helping
others in our lives to feel better about themselves and
to be able to accomplish the things that they hope to
relationship is like a garden. If it is to thrive it must
watered regularly. Special care must be given,
taking into account the seasons as
well as any
unpredictable weather. New seeds must be sown
and weeds must
We speak more than we
probably do anything else in our lives, with the
possible exception of sleeping. Yet somehow,
most of us don't really think about the implications
of speaking so much--we seem to think that because
we do it so often, we must be pretty good at
it. Most of us, though, aren't extremely
effective communicators, and that's mostly because
we've never really been taught to be so, and we've
never made the effort to learn about what's
effective and what's not.
What I notice about many people is that they don't
have a sense of balance in their speech. They
tend to stick to topics and ideas that feel safe to
them, and they tend to speak in ways that they
believe will help them to achieve certain
goals. They speak to persuade others to see
things their way; they speak to get things from
others; they speak to defend themselves or to attack
others, even in subtle, almost unnoticeable ways.
If we look for balance in our speech, though, then
we're going to be trying to lift other people up and
encourage them in addition to spreading information;
we're going to be talking about what we like about
others as well as talking about what bothers us
about them; we're going to be finding out about
others as well as talking to them.
are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists
it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in
We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.
As a teacher, one of
my most important tasks is to share information with
my students. One of the more remarkable
realities of teaching, though, is that it's not at
all necessary for me to talk constantly in order to
teach others about certain information, ideas, or
processes. When I talk a little and then turn
the students loose to talk to each other to try to
come up with answers, I find that my silence is much
more effective than my continued talking. When
I spend a certain amount of time giving
encouragement and praise instead of talking about
the information I need to share, that's often even
more effective than continuing to focus solely on
You see, when we speak, we do affect other people,
whether we realize it or not. Our words have
the power to uplift or cast down, to build or to
destroy, to help to grow or to kill. We can
use our words to help others to heal or to cause
them to feel bad about themselves and their
lives. The power of words is something that
everyone has access to, but that few people consider
seriously enough to make an important priority in
their lives. But we really do need to make
learning how to balance our words between the
necessary and the uplifting, between the information
and the caring, between the criticism and the
praise, if we're going to be able to affect other
human beings in positive, loving ways.
We all know people who have a parent or two who
always criticize and never praise. We know
bosses like this, colleagues like this, customers
like this. We know people who always complain
and almost never look on the bright side of
anything. On the other hand, I've also known
people who always praise and who never say a thing
about problems that are happening. In all of
these situations, there's a lack of balance, and
that simply can't be healthy.
That's another lesson I've
learned the hard way.
All relationships will die
if they aren't nurtured. Just
flower will die if it's
not watered. Because love is
demonstration, not declaration.
When we don't have
balance in our speech, we lost a lot. We can
lost the love and respect of people for whom we
care; we can lose credibility; we can lose our
audience when others simply don't want to talk to us
any more. We need to learn how to balance our
speech sincerely and clearly, so that we can
contribute to the positive in the world by
encouraging others to continue to do good things and
to stop doing bad things. We need to praise as
well as criticize, though we can't completely stop
with the criticism--as long as it's constructive and
helpful. How we communicate with others is
extremely important, not just to us, but to them as
well. And our communication is our
responsibility, so we need to take it seriously, be
aware of just how we're communicating, and take
steps to make sure that there is balance in what we
do as communicators.
And I would say that this is especially true for our
speech with children, for they see us as role models
and they take to heart that which we say--and we owe
them a good start in life, a start that lets them
know that they are good people with unlimited
potential, but that also lets them know that there
are limits and that not everything that one does is
wonderful or even acceptable. They have long
lives ahead of them, we hope, and we can contribute
to making those lives positive by making sure that
we are balanced in what we say.
of the most important elements
of living life fully is
awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people
and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that
affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively.
In the twelve years of livinglifefully.com's existence, this
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Life Fully, the e-zine
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are presented as thoughts of the authors--by no means do
mean to present them as ways that anyone has to live
from them what you will, and disagree with
whatever you disagree
with--just know that they'll be here for you
are so many things that can provide us with peace. Next time you
a shower or a bath, I suggest you hold your big toes in mindfulness.
attention to everything except our toes. When we hold our toes in
and smile at them, we will find that our bodies have been very kind to
us. We know
that any cell in our toes can turn cancerous, but our toes have been
very well, avoiding that kind of problem. Yet, we have not been nice
at all. These kinds of practices can bring us happiness.
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