Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy to say Good-Bye

This evening my husband and I were invited to a picnic that was a surprise going away party for our young friend who has been a much loved member of our community theatre family. His name is David and he has been actively involved both on and off stage with Hamilton-Gibson Productions for about 2 1/2 years. He is completing his last semester of college (a music major) and will be student teaching beginning next week. Although we expect to see him for visits, our regular exposure to this extraordinary young man will be much less.

After a delicious picnic meal, our host asked if anyone had anything to say in tribute of our young friend. One by one, we each spoke sharing our gratitude for his help on various projects, compliments for his superb acting and musical talents, his genuine desire to do whatever was asked of him, his humility in accepting a compliment, his spontaneous joyful attitude, his natural ability to work with kids, his optimism about everything, and also how much we would miss him.

It's funny how sometimes in our human experience, when there is someone we truly love to be around, we sometimes want to keep them close and not let them go away. As I spoke my acknowledgment, I truly did not want to hold onto David. Instead, I am happy to say good-bye, since farewell in this case means he is moving on with his life. He has so much to share with his future students and so many others that will have the pleasure to get to know him as we have, I want to send him off with love and joyful anticipation for many more adventures.

So rather than feel sorry for us that we are losing David, I am happy for all those that have yet to have the pleasure to know him.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Competition...Why not just do your best?

I have often wondered why retailers or professionals that are selling their services see themselves as competitors to others in their field as they compete for business. Why don't they just do their best in providing whatever services they sell to the public and trust that business will come to them? After all, we can't do any more than our best, right?

I am non-competitive. I love to do well, but somehow when I am holding my intended gain as a competition with someone else, it doesn't feel so good. It doesn't bring out the best in me. It's like running in a race, looking over my shoulder watching for my competitors catching up to me, or looking ahead at those out in front and wish I was doing as well as them. Either way, it doesn't feel's not much fun and I am not enjoying the process.

What does someone's best have to do with me, unless I am watching them to learn how I can improve? What glory is there in seeing myself as ahead of someone else, unless my ego is running the show. It truly means nothing to me to be ahead as part of a comparison. If others seem to have more success than me, I may learn more about how I can make my best better, but competition does not have to be part of the formula.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the waiting area of my friend's office. She's an attorney and has a pretty hectic and stressed work life. I always notice that when I am in the vicinity of high pressure and stress, I always feel a bit uncomfortable. That kind of work environment is unfamiliar to me now, which is why I notice it so readily, although in my past work, I worked with high tension on a daily basis.

As I was waiting, I noticed something on an end table partially covered by magazines. When I looked closer, I could see it was a small sign about eight inches in length and two inches high, spelling out the word RELAX. I was so drawn to it, I picked it up to get a closer look. It was handmade from old fashioned long carpenter nails, creating the letters. The nails were soldered together in a way that the word RELAX, could stand on its own. As an extra little decorative touch, there was a small bit of yellow stained glass in the peak of the A.

First of all, I admired the creativity of the artist that created it. I also loved the simplicity, yet appreciated the power of the reminder to relax. I imagined someone carefully fitting and soldering the nails together and imagined their state of mind as they would have created it.

As I sat admiring the sculpture, I could overhear the voices of people inside the office. The conversation was filled with frustration and agitation. I couldn't help but think this sweet RELAX sign was not being appreciated and maybe not even noticed. Viewers of this art would have to be open and willing to take in its message. Buried under magazines, no one was even seeing it.

Later, when I told my friend how much I loved it, she said I should have it because I would give it a good home and appreciate it. Although I resisted at first, I really did want to accept it. Eventually I did and am very grateful for this little piece of art.

RELAX is now resting in a place of honor in my Family Room. I look forward to its reminder whenever I forget to slow down or find myself upset. It's amazing what one little word can do when you are open to receiving it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Forgiveness....Easier Said Than Done

We all have had the opportunity to forgive. In fact, we frequently have the opportunity to forgive. I think it may be one of the most challenging spiritual acts that we can be called upon to execute.....especially when we have a really good reason to be angry, hurt, resentful etc. etc. etc.

As difficult as it may be, it is necessary to forgive in order to have true peace. As long as we are holding on to anger, hurt, or resentment for someone else, we are held captive in the land of suffering. When we hang out in this land, we will typically be complaining about the person or situation we blame for whatever wrong occurred. Although we typically feel justified in this, we are essentially putting our joy on a shelf as we wallow in our well deserved right to be angry, hurt or upset.

Let's face it.....hanging out in the land of anger induced suffering does not change any of our past, but it sure does put a cloud over our present and threatens the potential happiness of our future. It does not punish the person whom we are reluctant to forgive, but it does have that affect on ourselves.

Some people confuse forgiveness with saying that whatever was said or done to you is okay.....that it is excused, and that is not the point of spiritual forgiveness. It is more about seeing beyond the act of the person to the spirit of the individual. It would be seeing beyond their choices, their actions and their words to see the beautiful spirit that is within. It is in essence, a choice to focus on the beauty of that person, rather than their mistakes.

Forgiving does not mean you stay in a dangerous relationship or continue to do business with a dishonest merchant. It does mean, however, that you can see the person that hurt you beyond whatever occurred and choose not to carry the hurt with you as you walk away.

The wonderful side effect of forgiving others is that as we practice this beautiful form of love, we are also forgiving ourselves at the same time. When we begin to see beyond the mistakes of others, we gradually see beyond our own. The ultimate end result is to be able to always return to the pure spirit within. It is here that peace is present now and always will be.

A favorite quote of mine is "To forgive is to set the prisoner free and then discover the prisoner was you". When I remember that I am punishing myself when I refuse to forgive, it helps me to choose how I want to be in the peace or victimized.

The Hard Road or the Easy Road?

I am learning from experience that I have a choice to take the Hard Road or the Easy Road to get to my destination. The metaphorical destination is my goal. It is something I am wanting to create or accomplish in my life. It can be in completing a simple task, working on a relationship, building my business or any other challenge that life can present.

It seems that most of us automatically see many of those goals in our lives destined to be difficult and challenging. We frequently anticipate inevitable suffering. We set ourselves up for an uphill battle, discomfort, probable frustration and possible failure.

What I have learned is that where I hold power ( as we all do) is in my attitude and choice in the road I choose to get to my destination.....the Hard Road, or the Easy Road. I know I will eventually get to my destination, so the things needed to get there are still necessary. For instance, if I am creating a workshop there will be many things needed to get it done. Where the difference lies is in how I hold I feel about the process. If I am optimistic, ideas will naturally flow and I feel inspired. All of the needed particles fall into place. I can create a fun way to move through my list and soon I am complete with the process.

On the other hand, I know from experience, if I see a project as too big with not enough time or with many elements that will be huge challenges, I feel sluggish. My energy is low, my enthusiasm is low, coming up with ideas is like looking for a needle in a haystack and the whole process feels HARD. To me the Hard way feels unnatural.

I believe without question, the path intended for us to choose, is EASE. There are no true roadblocks, with the exception of the ones we create ourselves in our minds. We have all heard stories of people that have created amazing things with huge challenges and moved from point to point, trusting that they will be successful, and they are.

What is important to distinguish in this article is that challenges are likely to often be present and if we are called to move through them, why not choose an attitude of lightness, of humor, of optimisim. After all, when we get there....(to our metaphorical destination), our enjoyment will be that much greater and our gratitude that much more profound.

When you have a choice to have a pleasant, enjoyable trip or an unpleasant and challenging one, which will you choose?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Power of a Whisper

Have you ever noticed how you can tend to tune out someone speaking in a normal tone of voice, but if there is a whisper, you lean in closer to hear what is being said?

There is something compelling about the gentleness of a whisper. It isn't demanding our attention, yet we naturally open up with greater curiosity and interest in listening. Is it because we generally communicate with those around us in a fast and often loud, demanding way, that the softness of a whisper pulls us in? What we think of as normal conversation can be chaotic, causing us to process many things at once. It can be challenging to keep our focus with multiple streams of information streaming in around us, yet the whisper gently commands us to slow down and pay attention.

When I slow my thoughts, or better yet, still my mind completely, I hear whisperings that remind me of who I really am. This voice from within which I believe is God's voice, reassures me that all is well and that I will always reconnect with peace when I stop and listen.

I have trained myself to notice how I feel. If I feel confused, lost, scared or upset. I slow down and listen for the small, still voice....the whisper that always leads me back to peace.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Adults At Play

Although I live in a small town....a rural community, far away from busy highways and cities, there are many opportunities to PLAY. In fact, I believe my husband and I enjoy more fun-filled activities in our quaint community than we would if we lived in a large urban area.

The latest of our PLAY opportunities is to be part of a large Murder Mystery Dinner evening at our local hotel, The Penn Wells, on September 7th. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness, as well as some funds for Haven, our local domestic violence protection organization. We are part of the planning committee and will be playing parts in a 1920's based mystery. I will be Madame MeMe and my husband will be Don Wannabe.

Earlier today we met with a roomful of other community players working out the logistical details for the evening. As I looked around the table at the players involved, I laughed to myself. These folks are all respected community members coming from various areas of expertise and backgrounds. They are lawyers, doctors, business owners, counselors and educators to name a few. If one was listening in and could not tell the stage of life of the "players" they would probably think it was a bunch of 10 year olds planning a play to be presented in somebodies garage. It was the energy, the playful attitudes, the creativity, the made up voices, talk of costumes and the witty ad libs that one would typically associate with children at play.

The wonderful thing about this event is that it is happening because so many of us are open, willing and ready to play. We make our own fun....just like kids on a rainy Sunday afternoon. We are not complaining that it is a five hour drive to New York City.We are creatively creating a project where we can dress up, play a character, raise awareness and funds for a great cause and enjoy a wonderful evening.

Afterwards, we will drive the two minute drive home from downtown Wellsboro, turn onto our peaceful streets, come into our warm inviting homes, and will reflect on a wonderful evening of play.

Eventually our thoughts will turn to the next "fun thing" we can create. I have no idea what it may be, but what I do know is, that our adult play....just like child's play, will be joy-filled.