Enlighten Me

I Have a Dream Too

As MLK Day approaches, I’m thinking a lot about ‘why’. This could also be due to the fact that I’m having an extended stay with my 5-year-old granddaughter. Anyone who’s ever been around a 4-5-year-old knows what question adults answer most…”Why?”

At any rate, WHY has been on mind this week.

Dr. King’s ‘why’ was famous…he had a dream that he believed in and in order to make that dream come true, he had to get off his ass to walk the talk, and talk the walk. He believed so strongly in a world where everyone was treated with respect and dignity that he gave his life. I don’t really want to say MLK was like a 20th century Jesus, but he sort of was, wasn’t he?

He was spit on, beat up, murdered for his strong beliefs…but what makes him like Jesus is that they held the same beliefs. Contrary to what popular politics tells us, the New Testament’s message to me was that Jesus loves everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation. Maybe much of this isn’t stated implicitly, but it’s implied in the way HE approached everyone, healed anyone, and never made any bones about saying that God, His Father, was no respecter of persons, which to me and Bible scholars everywhere except apparently DC, means that God doesn’t care whether you’re black, white,  red, brown, purple or green. He’s gonna love you like nobody loves you come rain or come shine.

Isn’t that what MLK was not fighting about? What he marched for, got arrested for, and ultimately died for? Before 2016, I would’ve said that as a country, we were almost at the terminal…the MLK Dream Train was coming round the bend just about to arrive. But then… .

So as we approach yet another MLK Day, I wonder about my own dreams…deep, inner dreams that have nothing to do with the kind of car I dream of owning (Tesla), or the  income of my fantasies (A LOT), or vacation destinations of my daydreams (Everywhere!). I’m talking deep inner beliefs that drive my behavior, set my boundaries, inform how I talk, walk, treat others. So, let me list a few, but I don’t think you should hold me to only these…I might want to add to my list, even though it’s difficult enough for me some days to stay in alignment with even these!

I BELIEVE:

  1. in a world where everyone has enough to eat, clean water to drink, a warm place to sleep, and someone who worries about them when they don’t come home for a while.
  2. in the equality of ALL human beings regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, creed, political persuasion, ethnicity.
  3. in a God who loves us all unconditionally and wants us to be good disciples and follow His lead.
  4. that war is evil and futile and should be a thing of history.
  5. that there’s nothing more important than family…and that we’re all family!

 

So, between now and this MLK Day, then to next MLK Day I have a lot of work to do to walk my talk…obviously, I need to go back to volunteering at WARM whose mission it is to feed people in Central Ohio. I need to see ALL people through the eyes of God…(this is so difficult for me…think TRUMP!). I need to have peace in my own heart and welcome everyone I meet into my family where they belong. (Which I do not think means they all live with me!)

How about you?

What do you believe and what are you willing to do for it?

My challenge to you is to think about it…it’s the least we can do to honor the man who gave his life for his dream of an America without all the ‘isms’ that keep us separated.

 

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Enlighten Me

Reflections on Reflecting

Everyone’s reflecting right now. I attended my husband’s church with him this morning and heard several people reflect on 2018…what went right; what went wrong and how it played into their purpose, their dharma.

President Obama posted a list of things that had impacted him in 2018 on his Facebook account. You should check it out…it’s basically a list of nonfiction books that he read…movies he saw…songs he loved…which filled me with awe and wonder! How can the guy read that much and still have time to see movies and listen to music? If I had done all that reading, I’d never have had the time to play Words with Friends, Destination Solitaire and Fishdom!

As it is, I barely squeezed in my favorite podcasts, and forget about exercise…I abandoned walking 5 miles a day somewhere in muggy-forest of August.

Tomorrow night, I’ll attend a Burning Bowl ceremony at the Centers for Spiritual Living. It’ll be a ritual of reflection, letting go, ushering in. I like rituals like this one…it allows me to contemplate the insights gained over the last twelve months and the obstacles that need dismantled.

So, what are my BHI from 2018? (BTW, BHI stands for Big Hairy Insights…oh, and BTW stands for By The Way, as if you didn’t already know that one.)

BHI #1:

Miracles happen every day. REAL miracles. And they happen to REAL people like you, like me, like my husband. They happen because there’s a force bigger than us who listens when we pray on a thought. Ok…I call this force God, but that’s a trigger word for a lot of people. A lot of people believe in a creative being who set everything in motion but they don’t believe in a bearded, angry spirit who lives in the sky.

I don’t care what you call Her. I call Her God and She came through for my family BIG-TIME this year, in a number of REAL MIRACLES.

We have a GOD-team behind us who won’t leave us stranded on third base. 

BHI #2:

Love isn’t always kisses, heart-filled cards, red roses, and blindness. My biggest irritant in life is the guy who’s been by my side for 42 years. This year I realized when I almost lost him to a subdural hematoma that he really is the love of my life…even though, like I said earlier, he also keeps me in a state of constant irritation.

Love is the commitment we honor with another person through thick and thin, even when it isn’t pretty. 

BHI #3:

Manifesting Miracles doesn’t mean that The Sun or Creative NonFiction editors are going to contact ME and ask what inspirational essays I have stored on my computer. IF I want to get published again, I need to SUBMIT!

We are active participants in manifesting MIRACLES!  

BHI #4:

Honoring my boundaries means that I don’t say yes to something out of obligation, guilt, fear. If my heart isn’t filled with love, it isn’t the right thing for me to do.

Honoring my boundaries keeps me sane, kind, balanced, at peace. That means that I take all that good energy into the next thing I do with you…for you…because of you. And isn’t that better than sending more regret, resentment, bitterness out into the atmosphere?

Boundaries are wonderful things!

BHI #5:

There’s 3 Kinds of Business: Your Business, God’s Business, My Business. And if I’m in yours or God’s business, there’s nobody home to mind my own business. That’s lonely…and a little crazy because I can’t control you anyway, so minding your business is like running on a treadmill…it wears me out but gets me nowhere. ANd minding God’s business just fills me with anger and hopelessness because Her issues are way above my pay grade!

Minding my own business is my new mantra! 

BHI #6:

Traveling continues to teach me that my priorities can become really mixed up very quickly. In other countries, people are satisfied and HAPPY with so much less stuff than we think is absolutely necessary in this country. I come home from traveling and empty one more excess from my life. It’s cleansing, refreshing, exhilarating. The idea of keeping things I haven’t used for a decade because I might need it someday, is a little wacky. The thought that the brand of our cars, the size of our homes, the label on our shoes means anything is lunacy.

I HAVE enough. I AM enough. I DO enough. 

BHI #7:

Who do you remember from your life?

I bet you answered that with people from 2 categories: people who made you feel special and loved, and people who made you feel stupid and inadequate.

When there is fondness as the thought of a specific person crosses my mind, I know that that person is from category # 1…they add love to my life and therefore to the world. That’s the category I want to be in too.

There is nothing more important in life than how we treat other people. 

BHI #8: 

I love this quote from Winnie-the-Pooh. It’s been my favorite ‘insight’ for years!

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

BHI #9:

Plastic is everywhere…some of it is good and some of it isn’t. Single-use plastic isn’t…plastic in our cosmetic isn’t… plastic in our food isn’t…plastic in our oceans isn’t. A good life isn’t just about morals and legalities. It’s also about ethics. It’s been tough to refuse straws in restaurants when I love straws; to remember my reusable tote bags every time I walk into a store; to pay more (a lot more) for disposable utensils made of bamboo instead of plastic. But it’s the right thing to do for our future.

Being ethical isn’t always easy, but it’s always right. 

BHI #10:

I always want to be right. Always. I know it’s an ego thing and I should be over that by now, but I’m not. I admit that I have ego issues…I want to be right. And I don’t just want to know that I’m right; I want you to know it too. I know that everyone has this need to be right…we’re all part-ego, so it makes sense. But this year that realization hit me in the gut. I mean, I finally get it… my need to be right conflicts with your need to be right when we’re on different sides of an issue. Last evening I had dinner with a dear friend and learned that we disagree on a very prickly issue. I couldn’t believe it, actually. I felt myself digging in and then all of a sudden there was a flash of awareness…EGO! I love this friend, so do I dig in or let go? I let go…as soon as I did…she did also. We had a good discussion about the issue and it turns out…we’re both right to some degree. And to that degree that we’re both right, there’s a small pinpoint of resolution…I mean actual resolution to the decades-old argument. We stopped debating and began creating and it was an amazing feeling…energizing, inspiring.

EGO has created a rift in this country politically. We cling to our party-identity instead of prioritizing our relationships, our country, our fellow citizens and friends. THat’s ego. And the fact is…it’s stopping us from solving so much. Wayne Dyer said that EGO stands for Edging God Out. If you don’t like the ‘God’ thing, replace it with ‘GOOD’.

A world that works for everyone is a better goal than always being right. 

 

Those are my Big Hairy Insights from 2018. I want to hear yours. In sharing your thoughts, you are expanding your influence and helping us all build a better world…one that works for all of us.

Let us hear from you.

Enlighten Me, parenting

Three Things I want to say to parents…

  1. God runs the world with 10 RULES…you don’t need more than FOUR to run your 4-year-old. Pick four values that are so critically important to you that you wouldn’t ever in a million years even contemplate de-valuing… or at least 4 values that are important in your life… whichever seems more realistic to you…those are the things to emphasize with your 4-year-old. If you think they’re going to tell the truth, share with their sister, say thank you 100% of the time, then you need to make an appointment with a therapist because that’s YOUR issue, not your child’s.
  2. Somewhere between 6 months and a year old, your baby thinks you’re PERFECT, GORGEOUS, BRILLIANT. Enjoy those five minutes. Write about it in your journal. Make a voice memo of how you felt, what you smelled, saw, heard…never, ever delete it because this is a once in a lifetime occurrence.  Then get over it because unless you’re Amal Clooney, you aren’t all those things. Don’t expect your child to be either. Your child is Perfectly Imperfect; Gorgeously Flawed; Smart Enough to push all your buttons.
  3. There is Faith, Charity, and Love but the Greatest of these is LOVE. That is still the truest thing in the world. Have faith that you will make mistakes and your child will still turn out fine as long as you love them unconditionally with all your heart. Be charitable with your encouragement, forgiveness, attention, guidance, love and your child will grow up confident, compassionate and productive. AND Love them for who they are even though they aren’t mini-you, for what they bring to the world and your life.

May you know and share love.

May you have and teach peace.

May you laugh well, eat well and sleep well.

May you make the most of each moment with your child.

May you love, love, and most importantly, love your children. 

That is my blessing on each of you.

Hard to Label

Family

I just had the best time at my family reunion. I’m from a huge Italian family and when we get together for our annual reunions, we could have as many as 140 people in attendance and it would still be about 30 or 40 less than the entire roster. I am always amazed at how close my cousins and I continue to be even though some of us only see each other once a year. We still pick up where we left off; we still care deeply about each others’ lives and we still can confide secrets and insecurities without fear of judgement or gossip. Saturday night, we danced together like we did when we were younger at family weddings. The D.J. chose “We Are Family” for the final song and we stood in a circle and belted it out with Sly and his family. Throughout the rest of the year as a counselor, I rein in my emotion and build strict boundaries. Sure, I can empathize with people and I care about the situations that are discussed in my office, but I maintain a professional distance. But when I stood in that circle with my cousins and sang with them, I felt the infinite nature of unconditional love and it felt awesome. I feel sorry for people who have put their families in second or third place in their lives. I feel sorry for people who don’t have a family like mine, who love and respect and accept each other without exception. I watched my grandkids dance and play with my cousins grandkids and knew without a doubt that what we are doing each year at these reunions is so important. We’re teaching a whole new generation the value of family; we’re opening our arms to them and enfolding them in this warm, overwhelming love and by doing so, we’re changing the world. I just feel so blessed to have such an awesome family and my prayer is that everyone gets a chance to experience something like this—if not through your own family, then through your spouse’s or a good friend’s family. It just feels so wonderful to stand in the middle of a dance floor with thirty or forty people who love you and sing, “We are family”.