Friday, November 28, 2014

Peace on Earth Begins with 'Me'

Oh, the holidays…….

Never has there been such a mixed can of nuts as the events, activities and emotions that arise during the holidays.

Having a few dozen seasons of experience behind me, I’ve come to learn a thing or two about this special time of year.

In no uncertain terms, I would describe the holiday experience as both a blessing and a curse. Now, before you start throwing rotten vegetables, and calling me ‘Mr. Scrooge,’ let me explain.

For the record, I love the holidays for all the good it brings. We have beautiful music and breath-taking decorations. There are gatherings, and contact between people who have not seen each other in a year or more.

Overall, people are more generous at this time of year. They are more willing to go out of their way to help someone, and they also tend to be more reflective.

I have to say I love all these things.

What I don’t like with the holidays is the fast-pace, go-go-go, ‘have-to’ atmosphere that accompanies it.

You know what I am talking about. It’s the scheduling and the demands surrounding the responsibilities of the holidays. They sound something like, “I have to get so-and-so a gift.” It could be, “I have to attend so-and-so’s party.” Perhaps it is, “I have to do such-and-such because it is a tradition.” Trust me, there are lots of them. And, I can’t stand it. Yes, as the length of my to-do list gets longer, my ability to see the wonder of the season decreases.

Despite a not-so-subtle undercurrent of people who recommend a boycott-mentality of Christmas, I don’t think that is the answer. Doing so is like throwing the baby out with the bath-water. Christmas and the holiday season are beautiful, wonderful events.

I love the generosity of people this time of year – whether it comes wrapped in beautiful packages or appears as time well-spent during a visit with dear friends. I don’t think we should ever lose that, and I believe we need to let people share their ideas of the holidays in the ways they see fit.

In this month’s A Fool’s Paradise, we encounter The Hanged Man in all his glory. The Hanged Man represents an individual on the cusp of evolution. He is like the person who has grown from the child in awe of the splendor of the holiday season, to the behind-the-scenes adult who serves as an integral part of the magic-making.  He moves forward physically in these tasks, because he understands logically this is what he is supposed to do. But spiritually, he is struggling because he realizes perhaps some of these traditions no longer suit his purpose. The Hanged Man knows something needs to change. He is just trying to figure out what it is, and how he can make it work for his higher self.

And that is why we are here on this earth plane. This is a beautiful place to be, and there is so much to experience and enjoy. It would be a shame to waste this opportunity. However, our souls know we are here to use these experiences only temporarily to learn and become more enlightened. If we stay in a situation that no longer serves us at a soul level, our growth slows to a crawl and we can even backslide. This explains that nagging feeling we get in our chests that urges us on when it is time to make a change. Even though it might be familiar or comfortable to have things stay as they are, we know that can’t happen if we are to evolve from one season of our life to the next.

It is at these points in our lives, we become The Hanged Man. Just like a child’s experience as he matures to see the real magic of the holiday season, we must mature on our paths in life. If we don’t, we cannot grow and we will never assume our true power.

As you head through the holidays and into 2015, use the reflective energy of this month to see exactly where you need to grow, and identify ways to become an active participant in your progress so that you can reach greater heights, and can live the live you were truly meant to live.

Happy holidays! Blessings to you so that you might experience a healthy, positive and powerful 2015. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Keeping it Simple during the Holidays and Beyond

I had planned to write a special column all about gratitude for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I had great ideas, too. I would cite the wisdom of ancient sages and modern mystics. I would add profound quotes and detailed segues with enriching examples of the value of appreciation. Ah, yes, I had it all mapped out in my mind.

Don't take anything for granted
But then I gave it more thought, and decided in keeping with the wisdom of this month’s Tarotscope and its warning about not getting lost in the grandiosity of our ideas, ADD LINK HERE a less-is-more approach would be much more effective - especially at this busy time of year.

So instead of adding a bunch of superfluous and unnecessary fluff, I will very simply provide an explanation of the importance of expressing gratitude as well as some easy ways to do it this season and throughout the year.

With that in mind, here goes:

Why should we show gratitude all year - throughout the good times and bad?

1. Regardless of how bad things are, there is always something for which to be grateful. Don’t believe it? Look around. You may think you have it bad, but chances are you would not change places with 95% of the people whose life you observe on a daily basis. Why is that? Most likely it is because at some level you realize the extent of the blessings in your life.

      2. Studies show that people who express gratitude regularly are better able to handle stress, have healthier immune systems and feel mentally more alert. So, if you can’t be appreciative for simple reasons, then do is with selfish motives. I have faith that eventually, you will start to feel its power.

      3. Gratitude activates positive thoughts within us and raises our energy vibration. When we elevate our energy, this allows us to attract better situations into our lives.  It’s a positive revolving cycle.

      4. Gratitude pulls us away from a “me-centered” approach to life and into an outwardly-focused life. When we are grateful, we realize life isn’t all about us, our wants and needs. We then connect with a reciprocal energy that shows us how others experience gratitude, and reminds us of our power to bring happiness to others.

      5. It’s just the right thing to do because it connects us with the productive energy of the Universe.

How can we connect with gratitude in everyday life?

      1. Remember the little things are really not that little in the big scheme of life. We tend to prioritize our careers, our possessions and the things we think we need to make our lives better. We forget that the real reason we want these items is to enhance the true gifts of life – our family/friends, our inner spirit, and our health.

2.  Create gratitude moments throughout the day where you stop what you are doing and thank the Creator for the things in life you often take for granted. These can be big things like our well-being and our loved ones. It can also be less-obvious things like a safe trip to work, a warm-bed to sleep in or a walk on the beach on a pleasant afternoon.

3. During stressful situations, attempt to shift your focus to any possible underlying gift this issue may bring. For example the loss of a job could be an opportunity to begin a new career path that fuels your true passion. Or, helping someone combat an illness may allow you the chance to slow down and really get to connect with that person on a deeper and richer level. This is not meant to be a ‘Pollyanna’ and unrealistic approach to dealing with a problem. Instead, connecting with gratitude this way allows you to experience some control over a situation that may cause you to otherwise feel very powerless.

      4. Remember the Law of Attraction tells us that we attract that which is like ourselves. In order to attract ‘good’ things, we need to stay positive and show appreciation for something – anything - regardless of how horrendous the circumstances may appear. Our ‘attitude of gratitude’ is exponential, and is a powerful tool for bringing promise into our lives.

      5. Contact someone who needs a pick-me-up or who would benefit from kind words, and tell them how much you appreciate them. It could be as simple as a text, a phone call or email. If you want to be extravagant, go to the store and grab a card. When you talk, give a specific example of something they did that meant a lot to you. Your sentiments will be a nice surprise and are sure to produce a ripple effect in the world.

      6. Create a gratitude jar. Everyday list one thing for which you are grateful and put the paper in the container. At the end of the week, review the comments and feel a renewed appreciation for all you have been given.

      7.  Be open to the wonders of life, and observe things from a new perspective on a daily basis. Allow a childlike enthusiasm to swell in you as you look for, and discover situations you have never experienced before.

      8. Make every stranger a friend. This does not mean letting your guard down and walking blindly into trouble. Rather it means to greet people in the eye. Smile at them. Say hello. Realize that the vast majority of people are just like you – trying to make their way through the struggles of the world; grateful for any kindness and assistance that is offered to them.