Giving thanks in Confusing Times

Consider this column a holiday public service.

family reunion

Consider it an aide memoire of what really matters. Consider it anything you wish. However, I wanted to take these moments, particularly at this time of year, to remind us — me — of some reasons to offer up thanks. After all, despite what sometimes passes as common belief, Thanksgiving is not a caloric competition.

With beheadings and renewed violence in the Middle East, an exaggerated Ebola scare; a frightening escalation of global warming; vitriolic hyperbolic, unproductive, childlike exchanges among “our leaders” about everything from affordable healthcare to immigration; a still-shaky standard of living for far too many; gridlock in Government, and — oh yeah — the worst drought in centuries here in California, we’re having quite some time of it all.

In times such as we find ourselves, it is vital to recall the words of Francois de La Rochefoucauld,

“Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.”

The future will be better; be assured. Yet, while we are still chopping though the rough seas of today, some reminders might be in order.

Nonetheless, what really matters is that many of us will be surrounded by family and friends, people who support and guide us.

When we are off course, they redirect us. When we are on track, they congratulate us. When illness ravages our body and beats our spirit, they, like angels, sit by our side and heal us. When we are overwhelmed, they hold us near. When infused with joy, they join us in song. What a blessing, in the midst of seas of swirling, chaotic, pandemonium, to find islands of protection where we can have a rest and reclaim our souls. To say to them, “Thank you,” is woefully, pitifully, inadequate. Yet, it can do no harm.

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Celebrate Your Age

Celebrate your age!

Yes, it can be frightening growing older.

old coupleAfter all, we’re entering the great unknown.

As I heard someone say long ago:

“Yes, there are people who are older than me, but this is the oldest I’ve ever been.”
A few days after my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I asked her how she felt about knowing that she didn’t have long to live. My mother, who always believed in “The Greatest Good at All Times,” did not changer her life-long philosophy because of her fate.
She said,
“I’m frightened and I’m going to miss you and your sister. But, I have to believe that the greatest good is at play and I cannot give it up here. Besides, it’s kind of like life’s last big adventure. I’m curious to see where it goes.”

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Check Your Body Language Regularly

If you’re not smiling, make an attempt to do so.

woman-looking-at-self-in-mirror

Negative moods are caused by “stuck thoughts.” When that happens, get up for a few minutes and change your environment. Spend some time walking or call a friend or just breathe deeply. Change your focus – even if it’s only for a short time.

You’ll notice that your mood lifts almost immediately.
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Join the Seven-day Positivity Challenge!

Every Monday for the last several years I’ve sent out the Monday Motivational Memo (“MMM)”. It’s designed to help you move forward with whatever is holding you back and always offers some small piece of advice.

For the first time in the several hundred MMMs that I’ve sent out, I’m changing the format.

I’m asking YOU to spread a very positive message.

Please join me in making this go viral. The details are below.

My friend, mentor, and Zumba instructor, Greg Parnell, inspired me with this idea. He posted on my Facebook page, three items for which he was grateful and then he challenged me to do the same for seven days.

I accepted this, and I thought

“With all the negativity in the world right now, wouldn’t it a great way to remind us of what’s going well?”

Thank you so much.

What am I asking you to do?

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Yes, it Could Go Badly…

Two huge news stories rocked my world this week.

The first involved a powerful video featuring CNN’s senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, as he reported from a helicopter flying to Mount Shingal in Northern Iraq. Their mission was to drop supplies to those trapped there. Upon touching down, the aircraft was besieged with hordes of people, so desperate to escape that they were throwing children on board in what Mr. Watson accurately described as “chaotic” and “crazy.”

As they flew back over the front line, with the rat-tat-tat of machine guns firing at the enemy below, the civilians on board were covering their ears, many sobbing uncontrollably, eventually changing to tears of joy as they reached their destination.

Roll forward a few hours.

My son texted me,

“I know you are a big Robin Williams fan. He passed away apparently due to suicide. Beyond sad.”

Again I was surprised as I felt tears well up. [Read more…]

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