Tag Archives: love

Love Lifts You

loveliftsyouI have heard it said that there are only two emotions in our universe, not good and evil, love and hate, but Love and Fear. Fear is the source of hatred and prejudice, as man fears that which is different from him. How do we rise above fear? I’m reminded of the Scripture in 1 John 4:18 which says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives away fear. … The one who fears has not been perfected in love.”

Love lifts us above our fears. Love is like a hot air balloon that lifts us above all our earthly and imperfect fears, doubts, hatreds and prejudices. Love is fueled by our actions.

I had the joy of taking a hot air balloon excursion several years ago, and I can be afraid of heights in some situations! For some reason, I had no fears at all while in the passenger basket, even looking straight down at the treetops thousands of feet below. I think one of the reasons was that the whole experience felt totally surreal and as if I was floating in the heavens with angelic creatures! 2-14-2017-treetops

 

In this case, the most important angel was the pilot who was in charge of controlling the fuel that kept us aloft! The balloon has fuel and the pilot adjusts the fuel according to the situation, the winds, the temperatures and the atmospheric conditions. Likewise we need fuel to keep our emotional hot air balloon aloft as we sail through the clouds of life.

2-14-2017-balloon-fuelWhat is that fuel? Daily acts of love. Humanity tends to sink emotionally with the pull of the gravity of the circumstances that surround us from day to day. (You’ve heard that phrase: “The gravity of the situation.”) When we receive daily acts of love that act puts fuel into our “hot air balloon.” Likewise when we give daily acts of love, we get the fuel as well. Remember how good it feels to give as well as receive?

Today is Valentine’s Day and the media pulls most people into the “buy flowers, candy, jewelry, etc. routine.” But what about the other 364 days in the year? Valentine’s Day is not about making up for what failings you think you may have had the rest of the year. I read a blog today where the author said that her idea of a romantic Valentine’s Day was to clean the garage with her spouse! She wrote: “True love is getting up in the middle of the night to take care of sick kids.” Yes, isn’t it the small things in life that really count? All those little things that you do for your partner, friends or family on a daily basis. Being there 365 days a year is “true love.”

Hey, I’m certainly not against taking a day to orchestrate some romantic evening  (or morning) – but does it necessarily have to be on Valentine’s Day? That’s when it’s expected! Sometimes a surprise on a random Wednesday evening (“Hump Day!”) or any non-holiday can really put a smile on a face. And please, yes, more than once a year!

The love fuel is not necessarily restricted to doing for family and friends. Some of the best fuel can be when we do good deeds for others, especially anonymously. Today I was sitting on my patio drinking my morning tea and writing my blog, completely out of sight behind the wooden slat privacy fence. A sudden breeze gave me a sudden and very loud sneezing fit! Then I heard a voice from a passerby on the sidewalk outside the fence call out: “Bless you!” That put a smile on my face! I have no idea who it was, but she was inspired to call out a sneeze blessing! I smiled thinking, this is exactly what I’m writing about. Anonymous gestures.

So before the day is over, when you are driving on your way home, let that car ahead of you into traffic. Say a prayer for that person driving erratically (they may need it to save their life!). Tomorrow, hold a door for someone who looks different than you, and may not expect it. It may make a big impression. On Saturday, if you see some trash on the ground, pick it up. (I had to do that today, as I have no idea how a candy bag wrapper got in front of my gate – blown by the wind?)

Make it Valentine’s Day every day. Put some fuel into your hot air balloon of love and soar above all the fears that would drag you down. The air is great up here!

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Make Every Moment Count

damien-miller-79-16When was the last time you contacted your friends? I don’t mean write them via Facebook Messenger app, although if the person lives overseas that Messenger sure comes in handy! When have you actually spoken to them or seen them? “I need to call so-and-so, it’s been a long time since we have been in contact.”

I really don’t believe in text conversations unless they are necessary for a valid reason, but on the night of January 11, I was having a VERY funny text conversation! Then my phone beeped with a Messenger alert. A close friend from the Bahamas, Elbert, had written me, “Sad news.” I thought, what now? I figured it was something mildly “sad” – but not tragic. He then proceeded to write that the body of a mutual friend of ours, Damien, who I’ve known more than 10 years, had been found beaten to death in Nassau! What??? I immediately texted my first friend that I would continue our conversation later! I went from giggling to being stunned, shocked and overcome with grief. Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I dialed Elbert for more details – this situation required real conversation! Messaging was too cumbersome.

I met Damien Miller years ago, as we were both members of Toastmasters International’s District 47, composed of Florida and the Bahamas. Damien is from Nassau, Bahamas, a sweet young man whose smile would light up a room, a business owner, and a dynamic, award-winning speaker and leader in his Toastmasters District. I hadn’t seen him in a few years, since a past Toastmasters Conference, but we were in contact during October 2016 when Hurricane Matthew ravaged both our countries.

damien-at-eyeJust before Thanksgiving weekend, Damien contacted me to say he would be in Orlando that holiday weekend, so let’s get together! I was preparing to leave town so I didn’t have much time to spare, but we got together for a few hours on the afternoon of Sunday, November 27. Damien was so excited to see me! There seems to be an extra joy when visits happen unexpectedly. I wanted to take him to Universal CityWalk that night, but I did not have the time. Now, I wish I had made the time. He said he would come back in 2017 and we’d go! We also talked about some of his future plans and he said that he wanted to wait on some until his financial situation was better. I said, why wait for life? Seize the day! We parted ways with hugs, promising each other to go to CityWalk on his next visit.

Damien celebrated his 37th birthday on December 20, 2016. He was last seen on the morning of December 28, 2016. I don’t know when they found the body, but it was decomposed to a point that identification took until the second week of January 2017. Thanks to Facebook and other means, the news was spreading among Toastmasters friends the night of January 11, 2017.

I have known people who have died from cancer, but that you can see coming and prepare for. I have known people, actually two co-workers, who passed away suddenly from health issues, two weeks apart. Talk about a department being traumatized, we found out about the second death on the day of the first’s funeral! But to know a young, healthy person in the prime of life cut down by violence, was more than my spirit could take. I found myself sobbing over the senselessness of it. What made it even more bittersweet was that I had just seen him only six weeks earlier! I am grieved that he suffered this horrible death and hope for the guilty to be caught.

I am so glad that I saw this young man in November. The irony was that we had been talking about future events and future plans, that now were not going to come to pass. I regret not somehow finding the time to go out to CityWalk with him.

damiens-memory-bookDamien’s funeral service was yesterday and Elbert, along with many Toastmasters District and Regional leaders, attended the service. Elbert shared with me the pastor’s sermon message: “Make the most of your time on this earth for a fruitful life! Make every moment and day count. Live every day as if it’s your last.” Damien did that for sure.

I echo this message and remind you now: cherish everyone and every moment every day and not put off the joys of life until a future day that may not come. Seize the day!

I also learned that I need to check Facebook more often. This past Thursday night I logged in to discover that another friend, a former hairdresser of mine, had been found dead of a heart attack last Saturday! I had missed his funeral service, which was during the day on Thursday. Rennie would have been 59 next month.

What??? This is not the way to start a New Year!

I decided last night to call one of my friends to see how he was and tell of the recent events. My New Year’s resolution: I’m going to be making a lot more phone calls!

Take time to appreciate your loved ones and make every moment count. Seize the day. It is a gift and why we call it – the present.

The Present of Presence

12 31 15 ChristmasIf you participated in the whirlwind season of shopping malls and traffic jams trying to find the best present to give, or if you got smart and let Amazon.com do all the hard work, I’m sure on New Year’s Eve you are breathing a sigh of relief! Bought it, wrapped it, gave it, done!

Did you get what you wanted? Were you like Ralphie in the 1983 holiday classic, “A Christmas Story,” yearning for his Red Ryder BB gun? Did your wish come true?

I had a thought today while I was debating, “What will I eat today?” It occurred to me that some children are probably wondering, “Will I eat today?” Their daily diet probably consists of the same food, while here I was thinking chicken, fish or beef?

Not everyone is concerned about the latest video game, the biggest, curviest TV screen or the hottest fashion. Some on this planet are more concerned with the basic necessities of life.

A girlfriend of mine sent me a birthday card this month that was the most unique card I’ve ever seen. Made by “Me to We,” the back of the card read: “This card makes a positive impact on the world. We Give Farm Seeds. Because of you, a farmer in a Free The Children community was given the seeds to grow food, helping ensure their family is nourished and healthy.”

Also on the back of the card was a numeric code. One could enter the code on a website and it would show you where the life-changing gift was delivered. I logged in and saw that my card’s gift went to the Narok South District of Kenya. Reading the story of the life of a typical farmer, I felt a sense of connectedness and joy. We can buy gifts for those we know, but how often can we positively impact the life of someone we will never meet?

Actually we can impact people every day, with a smile, a kind word, holding the door open for a stranger and yes, letting the car that has been waiting patiently into our traffic lane! (Remember, someday we are going to be the one wanting to get into traffic!)

Sometimes people don’t realize the impact they can have on another simply by their presence. Or conversely, by their absence over the holidays. Mariah Carey says it perfectly in her classic Christmas song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” She didn’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree; she just wanted to be with the man she loved.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk, author and activist says it perfectly:

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When our mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

When it comes down to it, sharing the love of family, friends and loved ones is the true spirit of the season. Presence not presents.

Last year, my friend Susan and I had visited a nursing home on Christmas Day to bring cheer and song to the residents. This year, my friend Josh and I visited an ailing friend, Joseph, who was in a nursing home after suffering a stroke. As I clasped Joseph’s hand upon leaving, I could sense that he didn’t want to let go of my hand. The visit probably meant more to him than I realized. I felt a lump of emotion welling in my heart. As we walked out, I said to Josh, who happens to be one of my will executors, “Don’t ever let me end up in a place like this alone!”

Presence not presents.

Give love above all. If you make any resolution for the New Year, remember to love yourself and then to let that loving kindness spread out into the world every day in every way.

Happy New Year 2016!

P.S. Update: Five days after visiting Joseph in the nursing home, I received a text from a mutual friend that Joseph had passed away that morning. My reaction was, “What?!” I was stunned. It had not seemed that he had only 5 more days to live when I had seen him. I immediately called Josh to let him know, as this was breaking news. Josh and I both agreed that it was certainly kismet that had led us to visit the week before. It felt so gratifying to know that we had brought a little bit of joy to his last days.

This only reinforces my message. Don’t wait to reach out to your friends. You never know what they are going through, and they need the “present of your presence.” Love NOW.

 

True Freedom

7 4 15 FireworksHappy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! As we celebrate the birth of our nation and our nation’s freedoms, after the burgers are eaten and the fireworks have lit up the sky – let’s think about our inner freedom.

How free do you feel? You might not be in a cell behind bars, but what prison bars have you created for your spirit?

Self-doubt
Low self-esteem
Fear
Bad habits
Unforgiveness
Hatred

It’s time to release those things that are not serving us. To choose to love, starting with ourselves.

The Bible says to love our neighbor as ourselves, but if we don’t love ourself how can we then love our neighbor?

It’s that airline “put the oxygen mask on yourself first” principle. I had a hard time understanding that principle at first because I am such a giver! But I understand now.

Do you ever talk to yourself? What do you say?

Do you say, “Oh, I’m stupid! Why did I do that?” If you wouldn’t say something to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself!

What are your inner voices telling you? There is a good movie in theaters now for you to see, and take your children to! “Inside Out” is a story of the voices inside a young girl’s head: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Great lessons to learn here!

Make sure you listen to your positive voices!

Be good to yourself. Start by scheduling 5-10 minutes in the day to pause, reflect, meditate, be thankful. Acknowledge a skill that you have and be thankful for it.

Look in the mirror and say, “I love you.” More than once. And mean it. It might be harder than you think!

Self-care is not selfish, it is vital to our physical health and wellbeing. When we love ourselves, work on our personal growth, and free ourselves from the fears and doubts that hold us back, then we will have even more love to give.

So this weekend, make a choice. Start setting yourself free from those things that hold you back. Love yourself enough to move forward.

Louise Hay’s favorite quote is, “Life loves you.”

Feel the love today and every day, and be free.

The First Love

2 14 15 i love meLove is a special and complicated emotion, probably because we use the word “love” in so many ways: I LOVE my boyfriend; I love my mother; I love Rocky Road ice cream. And last month I really loved my personal car mechanic! The Greeks had four different words for love:

Eros: is the passionate and intense love that arouses romantic feelings; the kind that makes you say, “I love him/her.” It is simply an emotional and sensual love.

Storge: is family love. The love that parents naturally feel for their children and vice versa; the love that members of a family have for each other.

Phileo: is affectionate, warm and tender platonic love. This is the love between friends who are there for each other when the friend is in trouble.

Agape: is the highest form of love, an unconditional love that sees beyond the outer surface and accepts the recipient for whom he/she is, regardless of their flaws, shortcomings or faults. It’s the type of love that everyone strives to have for their fellow human beings. Although you may not like someone, you decide to love them just as a human being. This kind of love is all about sacrifice, as well as giving and expecting nothing in return.

All this talk of love, but maybe we are missing a key type of love. Self-love. In the Bible, Scripture says, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” – but how much do we really love ourselves? Have you committed some self-talk that you would never say to your best friend? Do you ever say to yourself, “Oh, that was stupid of me!” Watch your self-talk! Watch what you say to yourself!

If we don’t love ourselves, then really how can we love others? Remember, even on airline flights they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so that you can then help others. I always had a hard time understanding that!

Here are some tips to help you develop a healthy self-love:

Have self-respect. Self-respect means acting and believing that you are worthy. Because you are. If right now you don’t feel you deserve to be treated with love and respect, start acting like it any way. Do not allow people to talk down to you, degrade you, disrespect your time, energy, body, life, home. Respect yourself and respect others.

Healthy Boundaries. Boundaries are key for healthy relationships and a healthy life. Don’t exhaust yourself always trying to please other people. Say “no” when you need to. Say “yes” when you mean it. Honor your truth.

Vision. Vision helps bring more passion and focus into your life. What’s your vision? Set a daily goal to work towards bringing that vision to life. Vision allows us to stay on track. Pour some energy on your vision. It gives us purpose and self-worth.

Take care of your health. You only have one body – be nice to it and it will be nice to you! Drink water, eat clean and healthy and move your body! Dance alone in your living room! You are the only one who can take care of your body, so don’t abuse it!

Set simple morning and evening rituals. In the morning, meditate, listen to some favorite music, write an intention list for the day. In evening, light some incense or candles, take a relaxing bath and say a prayer for others and the world.

With these tips, you will become a healthier and happier self. With a stronger sense of self, you have deeper self-love, and with deeper self-love, you make more conscious decisions that will create a more peaceful life for yourself and for others.

Oh, but wait a minute. Every February comes along a holiday known as Valentine’s Day. Some love it. Some don’t. For those who may not have a “Valentine” it may bug us when we receive Facebook posts or calls from our friends gushing about what flowers or gifts they received from their sweetie. But don’t let this bother you.

A relationship does not define you. It can complement you, but it does not define who you are

3 tips for getting through the Valentine holiday:

  1. Consider Valentine’s Day as just a day on the calendar.
  2. Recognize that not all relationships are the same. Just because you don’t have a date today doesn’t mean that you will be loveless forever. Great love is out there, but it might not appear until you let go of your past.
  3. If you don’t have a date – make a date with yourself! Do something you love! Indulge in a favorite pastime or better yet, do some volunteer work, visit the lonely in a nursing home or help out at an animal shelter.

Remember, you have to love and respect yourself, before others can really love you in a healthy way.

Choose love, and don’t forget to love yourself first.

 

Season of Light

12 22 14 SolsticeYesterday marked the December Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest, darkest night. It makes me think of the phrase, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures are getting lower. The winter nights become darker and longer, yet December points us towards a season of light, hope and renewal. The coming of a new year gives us incentive for recommitting to our goals.

When a year is ending, we focus on new hope, and our homes and cities become adorned with lights that celebrate this hope.

Since ancient times, this pivotal time in the heavens has been cause for celebration, even for the mere fact that daylight would become longer each day. Depending on your culture or faith, there are the celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and others.

But no matter what your culture or faith, we can all partake in a time of quiet and stillness to find the presence of our inner light. No matter how small or insignificant we may feel, we have the power to brighten the path for others whose experience of darkness may be even deeper than our own.

How can we shine our light this season to brighten the lives of others?

We can do so much more than we think. Just the simple act of a smile to a busy cashier (especially during the holiday!), letting that car into traffic, holding the door for another shopper, all these have ripple effects. That person is going to feel so much better for your kindness and will most likely pay that forward.

It doesn’t take money to express the spirit of the season. Respect, kindness and love are the best gifts.

It’s not all about the lights we hang on our tree, our house, our city streets and parks. It’s the light that we bring to others – now and into the New Year.

Let your light shine!