9 May 2017      

Another new week has come into our lives, and we're very glad
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of ours.  Please enjoy all the gifts that this week brings you!

Seasons within the Heart
John O'Donohue

Take Action
Jack Canfield

At This Moment
tom walsh

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It just ain't possible to explain some things.  It's interesting to wonder on them and do some speculation, but the main thing is you have to accept it--take it for what it is, and get on with your growing.

Jim Dodge

There are risks and costs to a program of action.  But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.

John F. Kennedy

Be sure to choose what you believe and why you believe it, because if you don’t choose your beliefs, you may be certain that some belief, and probably not a very credible one, will choose you.

Robertson Davies

  
Seasons within the Heart
John O'Donohue

There are four seasons within the clay heart. When it is winter in the world of nature, all the colors have vanished; everything is reduced to gray, black, or white. All the visions and beautiful rich coloring of nature thin out completely. Grass disappears from the land, and the earth itself is frozen and perished in a bleak self-retraction. In wintertime, nature withdraws. A tree loses all its leaves and retires inward. When it is wintertime in your life, you are going through pain, difficulty, or turbulence. At such times it is wise to follow the instinct of nature and withdraw into yourself. When it is winter in your soul, it is unwise to pursue any new endeavors. You have to lie low and shelter until this bleak, emptying time passes on. This is nature’s remedy. It minds itself in hibernation. When there is great pain in your life, you, too, need sanctuary in the shelter of your own soul.

One of the beautiful transitions in nature is the transition from winter to springtime. An old Zen mystic said that when one flower blooms it is spring everywhere. When the first innocent, infantlike flower appears on the earth, one senses nature stirring beneath the frozen surface. There is a lovely phrase in Gaelic, ag borradh, that means there is a quivering life about to break forth.

The wonderful colors and the new life the earth receives make spring a time of great exuberance and hope. In a certain sense, spring is the youngest season. Winter is the oldest season. Winter was there from the very beginning. It reigned amidst the silence and bleakness of nature for hundreds of millions of years before vegetation.

Spring is a youthful season; it comes forth in a rush of life and promise, hope and possibility. At the heart of the spring, there is a great inner longing. It is the time when desire and memory stir toward each other. Consequently, springtime in your soul is a wonderful time to undertake some new adventure, some new project, or to make some important changes in your life. If you undertake this when it is springtime in your soul, then the rhythm, the energy, and the hidden light of your own clay works with you. You are in the flow of your own growth and potential. Springtime in the soul can be beautiful, hopeful, and strengthening. You can make difficult transitions very naturally in an unforced and spontaneous way.

Spring blossoms and grows into summertime. In summertime, nature is bedecked with color. There is great lushness everywhere, a richness and depth of texture. Summertime is a time of light, growth, and arrival. You feel that the secret life of the year, hidden in the winter and coming out in the spring, has really blossomed in the summertime. Thus summertime in your soul is a time of great balance. You are in the flow of your own nature. You can take as many risks as you like, and you will always land on your feet. There is enough shelter and depth of texture around you to completely ground, balance, and mind you.

Summertime grows into autumn, which is one of my favorite times of the year; seeds sown in the spring and nurtured by the summer now yield their fruit in autumn. It is harvest, the homecoming of the seeds’ long and lonely journey through darkness and silence under the earth’s surface. Harvest is one of the great feasts of the year. It was a very important time in Celtic culture. The fertility of the earth yielded its fruitfulness. Correspondingly, when it is autumn in your life, the things that happened in the past, or the experiences that were sown in the clay of your heart, almost unknown to you, now yield their fruit. Autumntime in a person’s life can be a time of great gathering. It is a time for harvesting the fruits of your experiences.

AUTUMN AND THE INNER HARVEST

These are the four seasons of the heart. Several seasons can be present simultaneously in the heart, though usually, at any one time, one season is dominant in your life. It is customary to understand autumn as synchronous with old age. In the autumntime of your life, your experience is harvested. This is a lovely backdrop against which we can understand aging. Aging is not merely about the body losing its poise, strength, and self-trust. Aging also invites you to become aware of the sacred circle that shelters your life. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one. In actual fact, if you can come to see aging not as the demise of your body but as the harvest of your soul, you will learn that aging can be a time of great strength, poise, and confidence. To understand the harvest of your soul against the background of seasonal rhythm should give you a sense of quiet delight at the arrival of this time in your life. It should give you strength and a sense of how the deeper belonging of your soul-world will be revealed to you.
  
  

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom offers an exploration of the secret universe we all carry inside us, the connections we forge with the worlds of our friends and loved ones, and the products of our worlds reflected in the things we create outside of ourselves.  Gaelic for "soul friend," Anam Cara is an ancient journey down a nearly forgotten path of wisdom into what it means to be human.

   

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Take Action
Jack Canfield

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. Abraham Lincoln

What we think or what we know or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do.
John Ruskin

The world doesn’t pay you for what you know; it pays you for what you do. There’s an enduring axiom of success that says, “The universe rewards action.” Yet as simple and as true as this principle is, it’s surprising how many people get bogged down in analyzing, planning, and organizing when what they really need to do is take action.

When you take action, you trigger all kinds of things that will inevitably carry you to success. You let those around you know that you are serious in your intention. People wake up and start paying attention. People with similar goals become aligned with you. You begin to learn things from your experience that cannot be learned from listening to others or from reading books. You begin to get feedback about how to do it better, more efficiently, and more quickly. Things that once seemed confusing begin to become clear. Things that once appeared difficult begin to be easier. You begin to attract others who will support and encourage you. All manner of good things begin to flow in your direction once you begin to take action.

TALK IS CHEAP!

Over the years of teaching and coaching people in my company and in my seminars, I have found that the one thing that seems to separate winners from losers more than anything else is that winners take action. They simply get up and do what has to be done. Once they have developed a plan, they start. They get into motion. Even if they don’t start perfectly, they learn from their mistakes, make the necessary corrections, and keep taking action, all the time building momentum, until they finally produce the result they set out to produce . . . or something even better than they conceived of when they started.

To be successful, you have to do what successful people do, and successful people are highly action-oriented. Once you have created a vision, set goals, broken them down into small steps, visualized and affirmed your success, and chosen to believe in yourself and your dreams, it’s now time to take action. Enroll in the course, get the necessary training, make those sales calls, call the travel agent, start writing that book, start saving for the down payment on your home, join the health club, sign up for those piano lessons, or write that proposal.

Most successful people I know have a low tolerance for excessive planning and talking about it. They are antsy to get going. They want to get started. They want the games to begin. A good example of this is my friend Bob Kriegel’s son Otis. When Otis came home for the summer with his new girlfriend after his freshman year in college, they both began looking for jobs. While Otis just picked up the phone and started calling around to see who might need someone, his girlfriend spent the first week writing and rewriting her résumé.  By the end of the second day, Otis had landed a job. His girlfriend was still rewriting her résumé. Otis just got into action. He figured if someone asked for a résumé, he’d deal with it then.

Planning has its place, but it must be kept in perspective. Some people spend their whole lives waiting for the perfect time to do something. There’s rarely a “perfect” time to do anything. What is important is to just get started. Get into the game. Get on the playing field. Once you do, you will start to get feedback that will help you make the corrections you need to make to be successful. Once you are in action, you will start learning at a much more rapid rate.
  
  

The Success Principles will teach you how to increase your confidence, tackle daily challenges, live with passion and purpose, and realize all your ambitions.  Not merely a collection of good ideas, this book spells out 67 timeless principles and practices used by the world's most successful men and women.  Taken together and practiced every day, these principles will transform your life beyond your wildest dreams!

   

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Anyone who works at a high level of physical skill--as a good woodcarver,
athlete, or instrumentalist does--must trust his or her body implicitly, which
is tantamount to "forgetting."  A shortstop or concert pianist who wonders
for even a split second whether his or her hands are correctly positioned
will flub that hard-hit ground ball or falter in the middle of
that fast-moving Chopin riff.
  When we "forget" the body in this way, we learn the true meaning of the old
saying that "the body has a mind of its own."  Even those of us who play neither
baseball nor a Steinway  must learn to trust bodily knowledge as part of our
inner guidance.  As we do so, we, like the woodcarver, become less responsive
to external commands and more responsive to the inner teacher.
We start to live in closer conformity to our own souls.

Parker J. Palmer

   

 
At This Moment

Right now in this world, there are many, many people who are starving, many of whom may possibly starve to death soon.  The fact is that 21,000 people die of hunger or hunger-related causes every single day.

Somewhere in the world right now, children and adults alike are hiding from war, or sitting in their homes hoping that they're not killed today.  They're often afraid to go out on the streets, even just to go to the store for bread.

At this moment, there are people who are battling depression, despondency, and sadness.  Not all of them will win their battles, as a million people a year end up committing suicide.
   

We must work on our souls, enlarging and expanding them.
We do so by experiencing all of life--the beauty and the
joy as well as the grief and pain.  Soul work requires paying
attention to life, to the laughter and the sorrow, the
enlightening and the frightening, the inspiring and the silly.

Matthew Fox

   
Also in this world at this moment, people are meeting and falling in love; children are being born to loving parents; young people are being hired for their first jobs and being promoted for jobs well done; people are working their ways out of financial crises; students are learning important lessons about life and living; buildings are being built and new businesses are being started.

This world of ours is full of life and living, and it's unfortunate that so much of life seems to be negative and harsh.  Many people suffer want while others have everything they need and more.  Some families suffer the loss of loved ones while other families seem to be charmed, as their children grow to ripe old ages and live full and happy lives.  There are those of us who go through life suffering from diseases and ailments, and others of us who make their ways without suffering from any significant illnesses at all.

And of course, there are all the people who don't fit on either extreme, but who do fit somewhere in the middle--folks who don't suffer their entire lives long, but who carry a significant burden much of their lives.

And this doesn't mean that life is fair or unfair, of course--life just is.  We deal with what we've been given as well as we can, and then we move on.  I think, though, that it's extremely important that we at least keep ourselves aware that while we may have enough food to eat today, many people don't.  While I may be pretty healthy today, others aren't, and they're suffering pain and they have a great deal of fear for their futures.
    

It is only with the heart that one
can see rightly; what is essential
is invisible to the eye.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    
It's this awareness, this sense of perspective, that can help us to make the most of the lives that we're living.  Life without a healthy perspective, it seems to me, is a life that keeps us from feeling deeply and that keeps us from feeling the compassion that can help us to love our neighbor as we've been called to do.  And loving our neighbors--helping others who need help and encouragement and love and support--is one of the most important elements of living a full and fulfilling life.

If we think that others always are doing fine, we're ignoring the fact that many of them aren't.  I've met many people who seem to be distant and disinterested in anything but themselves, and I've later found out that they were suffering from depression.  I've seen people cancel important dates and meetings, and they've seemed to be arrogant and uncaring; later I've found out that they were dealing with a true and difficult crisis.

If we're not aware of the fact that life is very, very difficult for many people, it's impossible for us to practice compassion on a broad scale.  It's impossible for us to keep in mind that other people need us and our love and our support.  If we're ignorant of the truth that we have things very, very good while others have them very, very bad, then we won't be able to use our strength and resources to help those others who don't have access to the strength and resources.
   

When we endure our own tragedies or trials, most
of us develop some empathy and compassion for
others who are suffering.  The trick is to keep that
sense of compassion going throughout our daily lives,
when we are likely to go on automatic pilot and move
back into being judgmental, especially when times are tough.

Bill O’Hanlon

   
Keeping in mind the fact that other human beings are constantly suffering is not being negative.  It's not a pessimistic worldview--it's a realistic one.  It's not being cynical, but being aware.  We don't keep this in mind because we want to feel terrible, but because doing so helps us to appreciate much more the fact that things are going well for us.  I have a place to live, plenty of food to eat, nice clothes to wear, and even health insurance.  I'm aware that all of these things are truly blessings and that I should appreciate them very, very much.  I'm in a very positive situation in this world compared to billions of other people, and I cannot lose the awareness of my blessings if I want to live a full life.

At this moment, there are people who have much more than you do, materially and financially.  That's okay.  Let them have it, and don't envy it.

At this moment, there are many people who don't have anywhere near the blessings that you have.  That's not really okay, but it is what it is.  Appreciate what you have and find a way to share that.  It may be that your material blessings allow you to have time to mentor a young person or work a few evenings at a soup kitchen.  You don't have to give away everything or do away with all the hunger in the world.  Be aware of the problems and practice love, practice compassion, and practice charity.  Take advantage of your blessings so that you may be a blessing to others, even in very small ways, and you'll find that when you're looking back on your life years from now, you'll be most glad of the things you did for others.  Know that now, and build a past you'll be proud of, day by day, moment by moment.

   
More on compassion.

   

One 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 essay series has been a mainstay of the weekly e-zine--a series that has explored not just the things that exist and that happen around us, but also our reactions to those things. The first five years of the column are now available exclusively on Kindle.

   

  

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Moderate desires constitute a character fitted to acquire all the good which the world can yield.  Those who have this character are prepared, in whatever situation they are, therewith to be content and have learned the science of being happy.

Timothy Dwight

  
Each desire. . . causes us to act and think in ways that result in yet even more desires and cravings.  Like a dog running after its own tail, cause and effect chase each other around in circles.  "But," you may be asking, "don't we need to desire things?"

It is certainly true that not all desires are equal in terms of how they create suffering.  Some desires, of course, are simply a matter of preference that might not really make much of a difference.  Wanting to paint your house pink instead of brown will not harm anyone--except maybe the fashion police.

And yes, there definitely are many good desires.  For example, without the desire for food we would not stay alive.  It is when our desire becomes an unquenchable craving or obsession, or causes us to do harm to ourselves or others, that it creates suffering and unhappiness.  If you have ever been hurt because you tied your happiness or well-being to a person, place, opinion, self-identity, behavior, or goal, then you have firsthand experience of desire.

Donald Altman
   

  

Don't worry about genius. Don't worry about being clever. 
Trust to hard work, perseverance, and determination.  And
the best motto for a long march is, "Don't grumble.  Plug on!"

Frederick Treves

    

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