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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Your Feelings are Real

dog-emotions

Whatever you are feeling, whenever you’re feeling it – is real.

Your emotions are as real as your limbs and they have vital functions.

Of the four “primary colors of emotions:”

  • Sadness cleanses
  • Fear and Anger are each designed to protect
  • Happiness builds community and enriches your life

It’s no one else’s right to change what you feel or to tell you you’re wrong. [Read more…]

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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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Are you Sure You’re Really Angry?

The anger you feel might not be real.

4-primary-colors-of-feelings

The four “primary colors” of emotions are:

  • Sad
  • Mad
  • Glad
  • Afraid

Virtually all other feelings come from some combination of those.

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Celebrate More Often

Find a way to celebrate more often.

CandlesYes, sometimes life can be dull. Yes, it can be dreary. Periodically, it is even painful.

However, that’s probably not the majority of time.

So, when things aren’t bad – even if life isn’t a “party” – find a way to celebrate what’s going well.
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