Hope is not the closing of your eyes
to the difficulty, the risk,
or the failure.
It is a trust that –
if I fail now –
I shall not fail forever;
and if I am hurt,
I shall be healed.
It is a trust that
life is good,
love is powerful,
and the future is full of promise.
By Mark Schmitz
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” – Prov. 17:22
When I am gloomy and melancholy I seem to walk around in a black cloud. I find that I attract other disheartened people to me and soon it’s as if we are marching along in a funeral procession.
To be permanently gloomy seems an insult to life. After all, there are many people who are worse off than I am, and yet they manage to find the energy and love to reach out and express joy. Why then, should I coexist in the gloomy minority?
Often, I find that my thoughts dictate my mood. Most vividly, I recall the gloom that appeared when I used to do a great deal of acting out, leading a double life with half of it rooted in fear and shame. It’s no wonder that I was “down”, and that I sometimes still carry this habit and attitude with me now, along my path of personal and spiritual growth.
Part of my growth is in the regaining of a sense of happiness that reaches into the deepest part of me. I can hear myself laugh and learn to play. What a tonic it is, to be happy! Joy is a vital part of life and I want to feel it deep inside me and bring to my face a smile!
- Joe Robinson: The Secret Key to Happiness (huffingtonpost.com)
- Personal Growth (retrohousewifegoesgreen.com)
- “It Really Is Just So Much Easier To Be Who You Are.” (happiness-project.com)
“If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley
I live in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. For those not familiar with our desert climate, we do in fact experience a period of winter weather. We can experience some very cold temperatures during the month of January; lows can dip to below freezing at night and only reach the low to mid 50’s during the day and a relative humidity in the negative. There remains however plenty of green and flowering plants to trick the mind when the eye shoots a quick look out the window and sees the majestic palms and the deep blue sky with seemingly unending sunshine. Occasionally those of us who grew up in the winter grasp of the Midwest begin to long for that time of hibernation. I know I do. I miss snow, bundling up with hats, coats, mittens, boots, scarves and more. I miss warming up the car and days when no one goes anywhere because the snow has us shut in for a day or two.
I have learned that we do not need to be afraid of winter. In winter nature lies fallow in preparation for the New Year. All life needs rest in order to grow with greater strength and winter is the time of withdrawal that precedes renewal.
Sometimes, it may seem that our lives have become dark and hopeless and we can’t see a way forward. I felt exactly as I’ve just described, many times over. Perhaps, it came when a relationship failed and I thought, “This really has to be the end”, or my business was going badly; money became a problem, or the loss of family ties or connections. I became lost in my melancholy and felt that things would never get better.
I knew that I could draw some strength from the wisdom of the seasons. Bare trees will become clothed in green and the hard earth will again yield harvests of plenty. I learned to appreciate this transformation as it happens every year and I take hope from it. I can see my life also as bound to change! From this wisdom of the seasons I grew this affirmation which is ready to be plucked from my jar of affirmations when the time is right: “Nothing in my life need defeat me, since I know that spring and summer will always come again”.
- Snowy Winter Photography (noupe.com)
- Gahl Eden Sasson: Christmas Grinch and Mercury Retrograde (huffingtonpost.com)
“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.”
“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.” — 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.”
- Have a Good – Not a Goods – Holiday Season (mint.com)
- 8 Easy Ideas to Help Others During The Holidays From Gift Basket Village (prweb.com)
- Christmas with a Capital C: A Heart-Warming Christmas Movie on GMC (susanheim.blogspot.com)