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The Priceless Gift of Personal Growth

“We live each day with special gifts that are a part of our very being, and life is a process of discovering and developing these God-given gifts within each one of us.” – Jeanne Dixon

As I continue along my path of personal growth, I discover ways to share myself with other people. I feel the want to act on things I’ve learned and to apply them in my relationships. This way, I can pass on to others the awareness and knowledge I have been given.

This wonderful urge to take action should be followed, not resisted. A spiritual awakening is just that – an awakening of the spirit, which then seeks to be part of all life itself.

When we discover our talents, whatever they are, we will be true to them and look for opportunities to use them. The challenge of doing this lets such qualities as integrity, courage, self-discipline and compassion to rise to the surface, where they become part of our daily practice. The alignment of who we are on the outside with who we are on the inside is a priceless gift that is received as the result of hard work toward personal growth.

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The Gifts of Peace, Simplicity and Reality this Holiday Season

“Celebration is a forgetting in order to remember. A forgetting of ego, of problems, of difficulties. A letting go.”        – Matthew Fox

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I find holidays to be a real test of my personal growth. I had always been glad I didn’t have to face the holidays alone. Christmas was always spent with my best friend Keith, my sister and her partner. Until this year I was never as acutely aware of how hard as it has to be especially hard for those that have no one.  This is a good time to take care of myself and it is best to be honest, rather than jolly.  For those of us that struggle during this time of year, we can refuse to lose ourselves in old behaviors. We can focus on finding other healthy people to be around.

This holiday season has already offered me the chance to reflect on the impact my mental health issues have had on my relationships and how much sharing these special times with others really means to me.  I am also able to appreciate what I already have, and to better recognize my blessings because I have known the pain and deprivation of my illness.

Peace, simplicity, and reality all are ours this holiday season.  By letting go of expectations, and by choosing an attitude of hope and gratitude, we will soon come to know that there is much more to celebrate than we anticipated.

“A Letting Go” for the Holidays

 

“Celebration is a forgetting in order to remember. A forgetting of ego, of problems, of difficulties. A letting go.”  — Matthew Fox

 

Holidays can be a real test to one’s personal growth. That’s the case particularly for me. I struggle anyway on a day-to-day basis to stay emotionally and physically healthy. I can’t imagine those that must go it alone.

But I find this to be a good time to focus on taking good care of myself. I can reach out and invite my healthy friends, acquaintances and members of my “family of choice” to my home, keep up with phone calls, and try to be honest, rather than jolly. I can refuse to lose myself in my former unhealthy behaviors. I can find other healthy people to be with.

Perhaps holidays offer all of us the chance to reflect on the impact our former unhealthy ways have affected our relationships and how much sharing these special times with others means. We are also able to appreciate what we already have, to better recognize our blessings because we have known the pain and deprivation of our former, negative ways.

The path toward personal growth is my holiday season, offering to me peace, simplicity and most of all, reality. I can choose an attitude of hope and gratitude. In letting go of expectations, I find much more to celebrate than I could have anticipated. My affirmation for today is, “I have enough, I do enough, I am enough.”


 

See Yourself as Changing

 

“The absurd man is he who never changes.” — Auguste Barthelemy

Lately, I find myself feeling sick and tired being me, because it seems I am always the same, never-changing.  My emotional life often seems like a treadmill, never varying in its fantasies or rituals.  I haven’t acted to alter things, I’ve only acted out.  And in acting out I am driven by a compulsion to repeat actions that gave me little pleasure and no joy.

I am beginning to realize that the same feelings come up all the time and throughout the course of each day.  I find myself thinking or saying, “Everything’s just the same.” Or, “I’m just not getting anywhere.”  My day-to-day life seems about the same; nothing dramatic has happened, nothing special is going to happen.  Inertia.  Despair.

If I look around at others; in my community, in groups and check things out, I may be able to see more clearly the changes that have taken place.   Yes, I begin to become aware that “Alan” is different, and less negative, and “Justin” is energetic and outgoing.  Change may take place slowly, but it does happen.  For sure.


A Gift So Rich This Holiday

 

“To eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death.” – – Pearl S. Buck

This holiday season is one of little financial means for me and void of certain family and friends. I am beginning to feel an emptiness creep into my preparations for the holiday season.  Without the usual seasonal hoopla and extravagances, a feeling began to evolve inside of me – a feeling of hopelessness. I quickly realized that if I continued to exist without hope I would surely lose my hold on life. I know from experience that without some form of love and intimacy I would move step-by-step into despair. I would retreat into my little world of selfish gratification and eventually forget what it means to be alive.

With this awareness, I have made great efforts to make this upcoming holiday special with plans to surround myself with my closest friends. When I look at these people whom I know to be on a strong path toward personal growth, I am struck by the sparkle in their eyes, the color in their cheeks, the spring in their step. They have come back to life. They have learned how to care again and to be unafraid of closeness. They have found life again in all its vibrancy and promise of change and renewal. That is what I strive for, and work towards.

This kind of energy is contagious, and forms one of the many advantages of building a network of other people working on their own spirituality and personal growth. I see people change and come back to life. Their growth touches my life and inspires me to come back out of the darkness of my dysfunction and unhealthy ways of thinking and into the clear light of the day. That is a gift so rich, yet so within reach. There is no need now for the exchange of material gifts when such special gifts have already been given. My life has changed through contact with my friends and “family of choice” and by developing my own traditions.


 


Desire Realized is Sweet to the Soul

 

“Desire realized is sweet to the soul.”  — Proverbs 13:19

Christmas is approaching. I can recall as a child, every Christmas Eve coming home from church and running up to the Christmas tree, seeing presents – mounds of them, four huge stacks, one for each sibling, towering as high as the top of the tree itself. But even with that kind of excess, one can still experience a lifetime of deprivation. If we were deprived as children, we may still live with emptiness inside. Of what were we deprived; love, security, validation, acceptance, caring, or compassion?

I know that I like many others compensated by learning to bear the deprivation and survive. As an adult, I find myself still surviving. I settle; I don’t ask for things because I believe I don’t deserve anything. But making do with life’s crumbs has brought me to resentment, self-pity and feeling deprived. I remain a child, instead of becoming an emotionally healthy adult who feels competent and worthwhile.

I am learning where the balance is between wanting nothing and wanting everything. If I can continue to work on broadening my thinking to include such words as “plenty”, “fulfillment”, “pleasure”, and “satisfaction”, I know that only then will I start to believe there is enough of everything. It is then that I will become aware of the fullness of life around and within me. Living in the present helps me realize that I actually have everything I need in the moment.

This realization helps me feel worthwhile, competent – and even fulfilled. My prayer to the Universe today will be, “Please take away my fear of satisfaction and pleasure. Grant me an awareness of how good life is, whether it brings me what I expect.”