Thursday, April 28

A Spiritual Awakening, Part II. What It Looks Like, and Balcony People: We Need Them If We Want to Thrive ....................4/28/11


      How was your day? Today's topic, a Spiritual Awakening follows these gratitudes.
My Gratitudes for Thursday:

1. I'm thankful I was inspired to tackle unpleasant tasks Wednesday. I made twelve business-related  phone calls that were intense and emotionally draining.  I prefer tranquility and serenity. Afterwards, I was worn out. That night, I went to bed, early.  I'm glad I exercised perseverance; the actions I took yesterday met my need for support and effectiveness.

2. I'm grateful for books. I know that reading reduces the chance of getting dementia,

Wednesday, April 27

Emotional Safety: Using Verbal Aikido: Taking Care of Self (Not letting others trigger our vulnerabilities.) ..4/27/1


      How is everyone? I'm glad seeing visitors from Malaysia, Iran, Brazil, Russia and Singapore dropping by. Today, we have newcomers from Australia. Welcome!. I'd enjoy hearing your gratitudes. The number of visitors from Malaysia have grown over the past week. Happy to see you here; I'm glad that this inn meets your needs. Of course, I'm glad to know that my friends from Canada and the U.S. also visit this inn, too.

Taking Care of Ourselves 
       I just got in. I spoke this evening on growing in our personal power and integrity versus whining. Afterwards, I spent time with friends who showed up to hear my talk.  The time in a cafe with them reminded me of my collegiate days. I sipped on steamed milk while taking part in an animated conversation with a woman that encompassed the subject of her unfaithful boyfriends, death, sociopathy and using verbal Aikido.

Tuesday, April 26

Bringing Back to Life What Was Once Dead: Community


 
        Good afternoon everyone,

The holiday just celebrated, Easter, reminds us of an important truth. God delights in bringing back to life what once was dead. Let me say that again: God delights in bringing back to life what once was dead.  Perhaps some readers are not enjoying or experiencing community, that's a dead part in your life. Connecting with others is vital for a zesty life filled with enthusiasm. It feels good to find unconditional acceptance among others.

Monday, April 25

The Vision of This Inn.................. 4/25/11

Welcome
          Can you think of a better way of going through your week than considering your gratitudes? Neither can I.  Know that this place is here to encourage you.  Please have a seat.  Relax from the pressures of your world.  Here you'll find hope, and support for an optimistic, staying-in-the-solution week. 

      Dwelling on life's complications only makes them loom large and more disturbing.  Where's the growth in that? Exactly. Progress doesn't occur when we live in isolation. We were meant to live with healthy, affirming relationships. You'll find that here. You sign the registry to this inn by posting your gratitudes. This room exists to help you as you journey towards your goals.

Sunday, April 24

Easter Thoughts and Putting On Spiritual Armor



       For those who celebrate Easter, I hope you had a meaningful, rewarding holiday with friends and family.  I  hope you basked in the richness this special day offers.  I started the morning with my Quiet Time.  During this portion of the day I meditate, pray, practice silence and solitude while studying material that nourishes my spirit; I also journal. These spiritual disciplines armor me for

Saturday, April 23

Gratitude for God's Gift of Grace and Forgiveness


    
      Here it is, the day before Easter. This holiday is not about bunny rabbits, chocolate candy, easter eggs or Easter Baskets.  Nor is it about wearing fancy clothes to church, collection plates or stained-glass windows in churches or cathedrals.

      Sorry, but that is not what this special holiday, central to Christianity's claims, is about. Easter relates with something grander, the resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  Over the past week I saw a commercial touting Buzz Lightyear balloons for this holiday. Now, I like Buzz Lightyear. But, he has nothing to do with Easter. How tragic, something deeply significant for the Christian faith has degenerated into a time where cultural icons are celebrated, that have nothing to do with spirituality, and Christianity in particular.

      When I was in college I encountered Senior students, at a world-famous university,  who did not know who were Adam and Eve. So, I won't assume everyone is familiar with the holiday celebrated tomorrow by many Christians and others who practice other faiths. Suffice it to say, Easter commemorates Christ's resurrection from the dead. What I write, I ask you to take what you like, and leave the rest. It's not my intention to convert you----that's not my job. I simply want to inform you about some basics about this central day in the Christian calendar.

      Christ made many claims, one of which, was that He was God and the Son of God. He staked all He taught on one test. He told those who listened to his teachings, twenty one hundred years ago, to one proof.  He said, that after He died, he would arise again, after three days.  In Christian literature---the Bible----we read that Christ was crucified on a Friday, after a trumped up trial done at night.

      Roman Centurions were posted at the tomb, where Christ was buried. The soldiers were to guard his tomb, at the penalty of their own lives, if they failed. They were to prevent anyone from stealing Christ's body. The Jewish rulers asked the  Roman authority, the Governor Pontius Pilate, to assign this guard.  They were aware of Christ's claim, and desired to prevent any rumor of Christ's resurrection from occurring. They did not want anything to validate the teaching of this man from Nazareth.

      On Sunday, three days after his death, Christ's tomb was found empty.  Shortly afterwards, Jesus of  Nazareth appeared to 500 witnesses. Just as important as his resurrection is the significance of it. Christ conquered the power of death, but for three days he was dead. Christ was God's sacrifice, the Lamb of God.

       On His shoulders, while he hung in agony on the cross,  the sins of all mankind were placed. These sins, past, present and future were paid for, in His death. Christ had to be man, so that he could empathize with our frailties and needs. He also needed to be God, so that his death would be worthy substitution for the multiple millions who place their faith in Him.

My gratitudes for today:

1. I'm humbled that Christ died for my sins. I'm grateful for His sacrifice on my behalf. I rebelled against him, as a youth. That did not stop Him from wooing me. I'm in awe of his patience with me, overlooking my arrogance, when I thought I could live by my power alone. There is no humility in self-will. 

2. I'm thankful for the spiritual power available to us when we rely on His strength. In our own strength we are unable to live the life we want, nor overcome the areas where we struggle.

3. I'm thrilled that Christ rose from the dead, over two thousand and eleven years ago.He overcame not only physical death, but spiritual death as well.

4. I'm glad that all who call upon His name, can share the same experience as the many multitudes who believe in Christ. Any new believer will discover the power of His resurrection.

Simple Pleasures & Lessons Learned from Alexander the Grey(t). One of my favorite posts ....................4/23/11

Where the San Francisco Giants Play
       Hey, thanks for dropping by.  I usually write before midnight, until a few minutes ago, it was Friday. It was a busy night. I wedged in

Thursday, April 21

Restoring my Soul: The Value of Emotionally Healthy Friends ................................ 4/21/11


      Here I am, getting in my gratitudes before the day changes its name:

1. I'm thankful for spending time with a dear friend.

     He took time off of work to visit with me. That was a touching gesture: niiiiiiice, but unexpected.  I was not aware how he made the time for our visit, until the end, before we parted ways. It humbles me, having friends like him.
2. There's a joy in celebrating time together, with a kindred spirit. I was blessed to have such a time today. This friend I've known since I was twelve. See my previous post for more details.
3. I met with friends tonight. It's a regular routine. I posted this observation at another place, this week, but I'll share a paraphrase here, too.

      When I'm with supportive, safe friends, I hear others express out loud what I'm thinking inside. I'm grateful that the more I share secrets that I thought were so awful, with emotionally healthy friends, the more they are drawn to me and I to them.  I experience true intimacy. These dear ones love me unconditionally and are what I call my Balcony People. They are in the grandstands of my life, cheering my on, as I run the marathon of life.

       Life is more bearable when I experience encouragement, support, acceptance and understanding, something I have with my personal community. I drive 18 miles, to be with the friends I visit on Thursdays. I could meet with others who are a mile or five miles away, but being with this group of friends is worth the drive. It  boosts my spirit, enhances my sanity and feed my soul.

        How about the rest of you? What restores your spirit, when with friends? I'd love hearing  your thoughts on this subject, even if it's months later.  What do ya say?

Making Amends & Being Gentle Towards Self ....... 4/21/11

     I hope this post is helpful.  It deals with an important subject----making amends. This is different and more effective than apologizing, which is merely

Wednesday, April 20

A Tasty Meal of a Different Kind

My meal while visiting with my son
          It's still Wednesday here, on the Left Coast.

 I'm posting my gratitudes for today:

1. Lunched with my oldest son, today.  (He and I share the same name of my great grandfather, grandfather and two of my grandfather's sons.)  It's a joy seeing the terrific young man he's become.  From 2:15 p.m. until 4:45 p.m we visited and took pleasure in our midday meal.

    Our food was more than that of the morsel variety. We imbibed in the goodness taking place in our lives, we dined on joyful memories as a family. The cornbread bread of gratitude, baked with the warmth of  hope for our family's future, was tasty.  We finished off our time with the dessert of  laughter, generously sprinkled with the love we share for one another.
 
     We stood by our cars, as we were about to part, completing our visit with heartfelt prayer. The time sped by.  But the memories of today's lunch will be etched in my heart, forever.   Am I lucky, or what?

2. Tomorrow, Thursday afternoon, I'm visiting with my best friend, Alan. I mentioned him in yesterday's post. I'm thankful for the stability of this friendship. We've been friends since we were twelve. I'm thankful for Alan's discernment, wisdom, spirituality and kindness. It great to go back in time with someone who's known me during times of weal and woe, who's been there for me, and I, for him, in our times of need. It's restorative to be with someone with whom I enjoy a shared history of several decades.

3.  I relaxed tonight. I slowed down.  I stayed home, an unusual occurrence for me. I took time to take life in and bask in its blessings. I reflected upon fond memories of time enjoyed with a remarkable young man today. I also thanked God for allowing me to see a dear friend tomorrow, at 1:00 p.m.

          Have a terrific Thursday, may it be a great and grateful day, for you.
                                                                    
                                                                 The Innkeeper

Tuesday, April 19

Courage: Speaking Truth with Kindness & Courtesy (also, Seeking God's Will Amidst the Clutter of Life's Demands.) .....4/19/11

Thank God for beautiful flowers!
       My gratitudes for today, while it is yet Tuesday:

1. Someone strayed from general principles that are foundational for Al-Anon Family Groups.  Unfortunately, her influence disrupted the unity among members. I spoke with her privately this evening, after a meeting we attended.  When I finished, she wrinkled her nose and said, "Thank you."

      It was clear she was annoyed.  That's okay.  I'm glad I spoke calmly and courteously.  How she chooses to respond is up to her.  I spoke from my perspective, how I felt about her actions.

     I mentioned the need for unity, harmony and fellowship.  After I shared my concerns, I let it go.   Her response was not my focus. Time will tell.  The results are in God's hands.  I "Let Go and Let God."

     I'm thankful for the courage I exercised this evening, this person has an aggressive personality.

3. Cooperation is always great.  Healthy, considerate communication invigorates my soul.  I'm glad I spoke my truth with this woman after the meeting. It's important for me to understand others and to be understood.

4. Early this morning, before the day got started, I listed my priorities.

        I did so, prayerfully.  I submitted these tasks before God, asking for His guidance.  It's a great,  getting many tasks accomplished.

       What was more satisfying, was operating from a perspective seeking His Will.  What I did today was not a result of hustling, making things happen, in my own strength alone.
"The mind of man plans his ways but the Lord directs his (man's) steps."   Prov. 16:9
"Commit your ways to the Lord and your plans shall be established."    Prov. 16:3
Time With Family
       I'm meeting with my oldest son tomorrow, for lunch.  It's overdue.   Nothing is greater than investing in family.  I pray God blesses our time.

       My son is a gift from God----a considerate young man.  He's working hard, finishing his degree at a nearby university.  I'm convinced the best thing I can do for my sons is to let them know how proud I am of them, love them and be available, if they need me.

5.  I appreciate the time my son and I will have to connect

6.  One of my best friends I'll see this Thursday.

     I was his best man when he got married and he was mine, when I got married. We've known each other since the 7th grade. We went through school and sports together.  Meeting with him allows me to enjoy mutuality, terrific conversation, deep love for each other, stability, and the support that only an old friend provides.

     Thank you, everyone, for dropping by.  May I ask you to share your gratitudes?  I know many of you are still getting used to this place which is essentially a gratitude journal for Blogger's cyber community.  Don't you think now would be a good time to exercise your gratitude muscles?  I hope and believe so.
     

Please check in: the Innkeeper is concerned. I value your answers

Irises, Saint-Remy, c.1889 Art Print
Exquisite, isn't this?
      I want to thank each of you for dropping by. In our first month we've had 1500 viewers.

Lately we've been getting views from Malaysia. Welcome! Please feel free to post. I hope you do. I'm here to encourage. Sudah saya senang melihat minat anda pada blog ini. Apa yang paling anda sukai tentang hal itu? Terima kasih, sangat banyak, untuk mampir. Akan saya senang mendengar daripada anda. Jika anda mahu, anda sebuah tulis dalam bahasa Melayu, jika yang lebih mu-dah untuk you.Thanks, sekali lagi, untuk lawatan anda. Pemilik penginapan itu. Jika anda menulis dalam bahasa Inggeris, itu bagus juga. Selamat Rabu indah!

Today, we had a visitors from Brazil and Iran. I wish I knew Farsi. It would be great to have you come back and visit again. Thanks for checking out this place.

For my South of the Boder friend from Brazil/ Brasil: Seja bem-vindo. Obriga-do pela visita. Acho que você pode saber Inglês. Se assim for, eu espero que você encontre incentivo nos posts que temos neste quarto. Se você tiver alguma dúvida, pergunte. Que você tenha um ótimo resto da semana. Espero que o que estou escrevendo faz sentido, eu não tenho escrito em Português, antes.

CindyR, how are you?  Does your new granddaughter live nearby? Isn't your son getting married soon?

Coop, how you be? How is your business going, how can we support you? Have you had time to get away wth your lovely bride? Please drop off a note. I look forward to you holding up the Michigander front and hearing from you.

Lisa, something new is coming here, soon. It's somewhat SSS related. What have you liked best about this week?

Odie, I haven't heard from you. I respect your opinion. I trust your business is treating you well.

PCF, I look forward to lunching with you this week. I bet your dad can still beat you at playing pool.  What do you think?

Paul, how can I support you? Can you check in, please?

Phyllis, I'm happy you hear others say what you reading here. Thank you for your friendship. I love your humor. Congratulations on being elected presi-dent for the fine organization you serve----they are lucky to have you. Stay the course, regarding your goals, as you have. Reaching them far exceed the temporary pleasure of giving in or up.  Have you thought of mapping your progress, regarding your daily walks? I've bet you've at least have made it from your place to South Carolina, what do you think?

Stuart, I look forward to hearing from you. I enjoy your in-depth perspective on any subject.  I got your mail. Thanks. I'm glad you had a terrific time in Oklahoma. What did you learn, while you were there?

Thag, thanks for holding up the Canadian front. I look forward to enjoying a conversation with you, soon. You've my prayers. You're doing some of the most important work a person could do; it's also a privilege: being a parent. How come you don't care for ice cream? How long have you had this prob-lem? : P

      I wrote last night about a good friend of mine, and our getting together. It looks like we will meet this Thursday. It looked like we have to wait until the end of May. Alright, I have to get ready for work. Please continue to share your responses to what's written here, as well as your gratitudes!  Thanks.

Sunday, April 17

Acceptance and Difficult Others 4/17/11

In a previous post about acceptance, Thag said:
"Try doing having acceptance when your almost 8-year-old makes weekly mass an exercise in humiliation!"

     Dear Thag,
I imagine it must, at times, be frustrating, raising two young daughters, especially if one is strong-willed.  I'm not sure your oldest is, but she might be.  Fortunately, none of mine were.  I lucked out.

     There was a time, when I fathered  three teenage sons. That season required grace and wisdom I often lacked.

     Fortunately, they've turned out to be three magnificent sons.  I'm thankful for God's help.  I did my best and left the results to Him.  I find the following quote from Marshall Rosenberg helpful, I hope you do, too:
'Everything is in a constant process of discovery and creating. Life is intent on finding what works, not what's right'       Margaret Wheatley
It may be best to not look for the "bad," "wrong," or devious motivation for our children [or anyone's,] behaviors.  Our children are only and always trying to meet their human needs.  I train myself to look beneath the behavior for the need they are trying to meet, addressing that. In this way I will get to the reason they are doing what they're doing, and I'll also be able to help them choose actions that better serve their needs.
'Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mis-takes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible.'  
 Virginia Satir states: Parents are sometimes afraid to empathize with their children out of fear that they will then have to 'give in' and give their child what they ask for.  However, empathy doesn't mean you agree to do anything your child asks. It simply means 'I care about what's going on with you.'
As we know, the message we send is not always the message received.
Sometimes when we make a request, we can pick up on verbal cues or body  language to determine that the message we sent was received the way we intended.  But other times you can tell that whatever you said was "Greek" to the listener. 
To ensure a smooth exchange of information, try getting into the habit of asking the listener to reflect back what they heard you say.  They don't have to give a word-for-word recitation, but simply state what they think you said.  Incorporating this into your conversations, upsets and misunderstandings can be avoided.
It's important expressIng appreciation when your listener tries to meet your request for a reflection.  Answering with "That's not what I said" or  "You weren't listening to me" will have the opposite effect.  A simple, "I'm grateful to you for telling me what you heard, I can see I didn't make myself as clear as I'd like. Let me try again." No Greek there!
******************** 
A Helpful Practice

       I ask others if they can tell me what they've heard me say.  Reflecting back what I hear, helps, too. It removes confusion. Again, what is communicated may not be what is heard.

       How many of my readers would like to join me, in exercising reflection this week?  May it be a great and grateful one, as a result!
Related Post:
Responding, Not Reacting

Friday, April 15

Getting What We Want: Going Beyond Disappointment ......................4/15/11

     I attended a business meeting today that has strong consequences for me.  The unsatisfactory outcome didn't surprise me, there's a lot of room for improvement on this employer's part.  (I work for several.) 

      I stated what I needed. The powers that be, are responding to my request. One thing I've learned over time is that I need to take responsibility for life's disappointments, even if someone else causes them.  Yes, I'm the one responsible for coping with them.

       If I say to a person who upsets me, "until you change from doing x,y and z, I'll be angry, unhappy, (put in your anticipated negative response),"  I'm surrendering my happiness and serenity over to that individual.  I've just stated that my joy is based upon their reaction.  Not a good deal.  


        This person may not have the ability, or consciousness to meet my needs.  In today's meeting, I was assured that I'll get an answer to my request within a few days.  Good, I like that response.


        When facing unsatisfactory circumstances, I consider my options.  Applying positive alternatives is crucial for my mental health.  If I'm discouraged, I can spend time with good friends.  Exercising provides an additional outlet for stress.  


         I can listen to music I love or call a Balcony Person for a supportive ear.  Praying, journaling or walking in the countryside are other ways of nurturing myself when frustrated or my nerves are frayed.

        There are many things I can do to have the serenity needed, in order to personally thrive.  I'm less exasperated when I'm aware that happiness is a choice; it's not based upon what other people say or do. Focusing on troubles and disappointments only makes them loom larger and more disturbing. 


        Staying in the solution allows me to have an Attitude of Gratitude. Taking constructive action towards overcoming a disappointment allows me to create a better today.
"Acting like a victim is a choice, not a destiny."
         Here's to making healthy choices,

Thursday, April 14

Empathy: A Doorway to Stronger Connection (plus more questions from the innkeeper)

       Did you know it's usually not the best idea, sympathizing with a person who's struggling or depressed?  You didn't expect this friendly writer to say that, did you?   I've learned awhile back, that usually, the best thing I can offer a distressed person, is empathy. What's the difference?   It's the difference between somewhat connecting with that person, when using sympathy, versus a strong, more sensitive connection with that individual when I empathize.

     When I'm with someone who's going out of their mind with anxiety, depression, or any other negative emotion, the last thing they need is sympathy from me.  (This post is not going in the direction where you may think it is.  I'm not suggesting that we ask others to tough it out, like John Wayne.) When I sympathize with another, I'm sharing my story, how I relate with their problem, their issue. I'm prone to say something like:

"I know I was really mad, when something like that happened to me....."

     The problem with this approach is that this statement's focus is on me. That's not what the upset person needs. I find empathy is preferred, especially if they are emotionally fragile.

     I usually use the following way of connecting with the troubled person:

      "Are you frustrated that the results you expected did not pan out? 
        I know you really hoped for a better outcome." 

     I'm just giving one scenario, demonstrating empathy, but I think you get the idea. The focus is on them, and them alone. I get out of the way.  The don't need a story about me.  I believe when we give of ourselves to others, we, in turn, receive. I don't count on it, nor is it my motive, and the results may not be immediate.

         "Cast your bread upon the waters and
            in many days it shall return to you."
                                              Ecc. 11:1.

      We'll enjoy a song in our heart when we partake in supportive, caring fellowship. We'll find ourselves with an attitude of gratitude: one of the deepest joys is connecting with family, friends, co-workers and others in a meaningful, empathic way.

**********************************

 Welcome to the reader from Malaysia.  Thank you for dropping by several times this week!

Kelly, welcome to the Attitude of Grattitude Inn. What are you doing to encourage yourself?
PCF, you've my prayers as you are about to embark on a new journey this summer. You've my support. When we visit, your wisdom and grace impresses me. I want to be like you when I grow up. Please let me know how I can support you.
Phyllis, thanks for posting your gratitudes. I enjoy our correspondence and I'm happy to hear about the success you're enjoying regarding your goals. Has your walking buddy dropped weight? By the way, what's her name?

    By the way, please continue sharing your gratitudes: you're investing in yourself.  It's hard to be frustrated with self or others if you have an attitude of thanksgiving.

Wednesday, April 13

Boundaries: Defining Who I Am

Trees at Coyote Hills.    Shot in the dark of night, lit from street lights.
This place is near my home.
      How are you? Have you had a good week? I hope so. The past few days I've been getting a visitor from Malaysia. Thanks for dropping by! Thank you, for the private letters some of  you readers send my way.  I enjoy hearing from you, and your honesty.

      Studying, I'll do this morning, before work. I'll do so while listening to the rhythmic, hypnotic sound of rain striking the patio. I thought I'd check in with you, first. I enjoy learning your gratitudes. Let me know if there's a topic you'd like us to cover in this inn of thanksgiving, positivity and praise.
My Gratitudes for Today:
1. I'm happy when I meet adults who desire to develop their abilities in dealing with conflict and difficult, agitated people. I spent time last night with someone who was terribly violated by her landlady.  We discussed some things she can do, to maintain her sanity, keep her dignity and have her needs met.  I love the work I do.

2. Yesterday, I met with another person who faced a crushing disappointment. It was fulfilling going over alternatives that allow her to overcome her depression.  It was encouraging seeing her spirit brighten, as we focused on ways she can stay in the solution.

3. I'm grateful for the action that helps me deal with issues I am confronting.

4. I delighted in the homemade split-pea soup I concocted yesterday.  I have some left---yum!  Cooking yesterday, chopping celery, red potatoes, green onions and the other stuff that went with it was an opportunity to experience a Zen moment, it's similar to when I play pool, knocking in twelve or fifteen balls in, in a row.

5. I enjoyed a meeting I had with an employer. We discussed goals and expectations in a pleasant way. The person struggles with his temper.  Before we started our meeting,  I mentioned we had to relate as equals, using courtesy, respect.  Yep, I said that.  He agreed with my request.  A productive meeting ensued.

6. I'm happy I've learned to exercise boundaries.

       I don't have them for others to adhere to. They're for me to adhere to.  They define for others who I am; they allow others to know what I will and will not accept.

      I enjoy healthier relationships when I don't give away big chunks of who I am simply because I want the relationship.  If I have to be more than what I am in order to be accepted by another, I bless that person.  And, I send them on their way.  Yep, I do, and as a result, I'm happier, enjoying more sanity and serenity.

      Those relationships requiring me to prove myself are not God's gift for me.  The friends God gives me, love me as I am and have my back.  I'm blessed. I have such friends. Fortunately, my sons are in that group.

7. I'm excited. Today, I'm working out on my gym before working.

     May I ask you to share your gratitudes? Remember, this is your gratitude journal, too.  Sharing yours meets my need for reciprocity, equality, communicating and fellowship. I like it when you do.

Please have a great and grateful day,

Tuesday, April 12

Grace: The Antidote to Bitterness Towards Others and Self Loathing ......................4/12/11

           A feature in this inn of support will be that, from time-to-time, I'll bring out a post from the past, will go down memory lane.  Grace has been key for my serenity, mental and emotional health. Many tell us to have acceptance when facing difficulties.  Usually, we interpret this as acceptance with resignationLike, "okay, I guess I have to accept my circumstances, there's nothing more I can do."

          It's better having acceptance with grace towards self and others. What good does it do, beating ourselves?  That's right, none.  When I'm gentle towards myself in areas needing improvement, it's more likely I'll experience success in those doggone areas.

          Kicking myself doesn't work.  Having grace towards annoying others also benefits me.  It  prevents being shackled to them with the chain of resentment.  Forgiveness is the bolt cutter that cuts the links that has me attached to them.  It has been said, "Forgiveness is not forgetting, it's letting go of the hurt." (Courage to Change, p 178)

          Now, I can wear cowboy boots. Yep, those pointed boots that Roy Rogers and John Wayne--wore in movies.  Back in my teens, twenties and thirties, I couldn't wear western footwear.  If I did, I'd have dimples all over me from kicking myself.  Not so, today:  I thankful I'm patient----towards me!
Condemning my imperfections has never enhanced my appreciation of  life nor has it helped me to love myself more. Courage, p 19.
           It is one thing knowing this fact in my head.  It's another to experience it resonating in my heart.
"It is never too late to start doing what is right."  Charles Swindoll
         Isn't it great knowing that if we slip, it's okay?  It's one thing if our behavior is a snap shot.  It's another if our vices are a video.  Now, I'm gentle towards myself.  How about you?  Wearing cowboy boots without self-imposed bruises, a pretty good deal.

         We help ourselves when using God's support, healthy alternatives and the assistance of friends.  This is living in a way that is healthy for us, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.  Remember, we were meant to live in relationship with others, staying-in-the-solution others, those who encourage us, our Balcony People.

         If lacking such a network, we can grow them.  Enjoying a community of friends take work; requiring an investment of time, needing character discernment.  But it's way worth the trouble.  


My Gratitudes for Today:

The Healing Power Of Grace.  

     I'm grateful for grace. No, I'm not talking about a woman with that name.  Grace helps me love myself.  It comes from God.

     It's not something I can manufacture by gritting my teeth, by dint of will. No, it's the result of recognizing my spiritual poverty----realizing that my best thinking and behavior has not been enough for me to become the person I want to be.  When I receive grace from others, it's because He's breathing through them.
1.  I appreciate the love and comfort available when connecting with the God of my understanding.
2.  I'm happy knowing God's forgiveness.  I'm in a loved position with God.  Knowing His forgiveness enables me to be gracious towards others and myself.  I can't give what I haven't received.
3.  I'm encouraged knowing that life is about enjoying and staying in the present moment.  Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn't here.  The only thing I can focus on is "right now" and the gifts of love, joy and peace that I experience today, when living by healthy principles and I'm undergirded by my loving supportive network.
4. I'm thankful for the gifts and treasures life bestows on me.  I'm grateful for the thoughtful, kind deeds I experience from others----I consider them as kisses from God that remind me that God sees me as valuable and lovable. 

Monday, April 11

Food for Thought


My gratitudes for today:

1. I'm thankful for a healthy fear of food. Yep, food. Many commercials on the tube show gigantic pictures of hamburgers----they are loaded with bacon, cheese, maybe even two patties of beef---to be accompanied with sugar-laden soft drinks and a large size of fries. Some nutritional seductions from Madison Avenue entice us with all-we-can-eat shrimp, lobster or what-have--you, for only $10.99!  No kidding, no thanks.

2. I'm thankful that awareness of the fat, sugar, carbohydrate and salt content of food allows me arrive at a healthy weight. It prevents weight gain, mainly by rejecting excessive portions of food, or other edible goodies that are detrimental to my waist, heart and longevity.

3. I appreciate drinking water, exercising, eating sensible portions and straying from junk food. It's a terrific way to make amends to years of eating unhealthily. Goodbye Whoppers (chocolate malt balls), adios pizza, and toodle-loo milkshakes, sugar and potato chips. Welcome to eating sanely!

4. On a non-nutritional note,  I'm enjoying terrific weather, here, on the Left Coast.

5.  I had a business meeting with another person that went swimmingly.  I was glad to experience cooperation, teamwork, harmony, tranquility and humor, especially in light of what I witnessed last Thursday night.

     How about you, what gratitudes do you have? By the way, I want to welcome the person from Malaysia who dropped by to visit this room. Keep coming back!

Sunday, April 10

Compassion: Focusing on Our Loved One's Feelings and Needs 4/10/11

"If we want to be compassionate we must be conscious of the words we use. We Must both speak and listen from the heart." 
********************************************* 
When we keep the spotlight on the other person's feelings and needs, we support their personal growth. Their motivations will come from a desire to connect rather than to please others, being rewarded or avoid criticism.  
We also support others in evaluating for themselves how well they are meeting their needs, rather than encouraging that they look to others for their evaluation. 
Celebrating successes is an opportunity to connect with another. Instead of offering an evaluation such as "Great Job" or "You're smart," empathize with the feelings and needs that are met for the person you're relating with: "Are you glad because you solved the problem?"        
                     Marshall B. Rosenberg
                              ****************************

 
      What ways do you have in encouraging others?  Do you like it when someone says, "Good job," to you? Is it just me being finicky? But when someone says that to me, often I feel as if they've put themselves in a one up position with me, something that I don't like, nor asked them to do. 
      Thank you for dropping by.  May God bless you during what could be a busy week, if we lose our focus.
      The guy from the Left Coast,

A Spiritual Awakening, Part I. Appreciating Life's Gifts, Staying in the Moment, Not Distracted by Fear, Sadness or Resentment 4/10/11

The glory of Christianity is to conquerby forgiveness. Wm.Blake
Forgiveness is freedom. Tony Dailo  To forgive is God-like, and
 one of the greatest uses of our free will. Anonymous. Forgiveness
 is man's deepest need and highest achievement. Horace Bushnell
The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the
 strong.  Mahatma Gandhi   Unforgiveness is the burning of the
 bridge we must cross ourselves. Tim Blessed   Forgiveness is the
 price of Happiness. M. Pilbeam
   It's easy, let-ting the burrs of life distract us. It is not hard, losing touch with the joys each day offers.  May the following pas-sage awaken your desire to celebrate life.  It offers nug-gets of rich-ness.  This is true in spite of the bleak pro-nouncements given in the news.  Here's the excerpt:
 A Spiritual Awakening
Getting the Most From Life  
  Life has many treasures if I'm willing to accept them,but none can do more for me than learning really to live in the pre-sent.  That means being more aware of myself and of small happy things that often dramatize themselves into importance as I observe them with enjoyment. [For more about what it's like, being in this state, please read here.] 
        No matter how grim the situation may be that has troubled all my waking thoughts, there are shining nuggets of plea-santness all around me to distract my mind from its cares. But I must be on the lookout for them so they will not be lost to me!  
        Someone said it this way: 'For every man, the world is as fresh as it was the first waking thoughtswaking thoughtsday, and as full of untold novelties for him who has the eyes to see them.'  This is a con-structive and rewarding way to achieve the detachment necessary from the urgent but unimportant demands of life. 
"God make me receptive and aware; restore to me my capacity for wonder." 
*********

         I know the upcoming week can meet our need for celebrating life.  Yes, it can.  During whatever season, we do ourselves a favor when making time to delight in beauty.  In the winter, it may be nature drap-ed with snow.  Or the rare sunny moment.  Perhaps it's beholding the loveliness of barren winter trees. 

          In spring, there are many wonders: the crack of a baseball making contact with a bat.  It could be playing cricket.  It may be taking in the chirping of birds or the blooming flowers.  It can be even the buzz of lawnmowers sprucing up the neighborhood lawns.  A breath-taking moment may be involve the roar of rain-swollen rivers, while hiking.  

        Fall offers delightful moments.  It may be sitting in a warm living room,  immersed with a good book.  It may involve enjoying the cool, crisp air while out for a walk.  Kind deeds nurtures us, any time of the year.  Whether we perform or receive them. 

         Being aware of these moments is staying present. It increases our joy. 

         Looking for the many mini-vacations the day provides is celebrating life.  It is savoring its richness.  Appreciate lovely clouds.  Luxuriate in the purr of a cat.  Delight in the day-dreaminess that pop up during "mindless" moments.  

         These are little gifts life provides.  Sometimes they happen while frosting a cake.  Or while pulling weeds, sewing, nailing a board or doing dishes.

         I've learned to breathe in these moments.  I'm inhaling life riches when I do.  The process of living is often fulfilling.  Sometimes more rewarding than any tasks performed.  

        What does it cost?  Perhaps five minutes.  Sometimes these beautiful moments are more brief than that.  They are tiny vacations available throughout the day.  

        It's worth having a heart of gratitude.  It nurtures our soul.  It increases our capacity for wonder.  We are allowing songs of thanks to reverberate within our heart.  We're seizing gifts God offers each day.  We're also developing an Attitude of Gratitude.
 
        Please share your thoughts about capturing wonder.  I love hearing your gratitudes.  Doing so meets the vision of this inn. 
 Image: "Cumbria: Mountain River"  by Tim Blessed © all rights reserved, used by permission

Friday, April 8

Nonviolent Communication: Best Way to Get Needs Met. A Tale of Two Approaches ...................4/8/11

    One Approach to Conflict
 Not Advised:

      Last night was interesting, almost entertaining. I cer-tainly didn't need to watch TV to witness drama.  I attended a business meeting for a non-profit organiz-ation.  Initially, the meeting went pretty well.  Attending sessions like these I've done for more than twenty years.  We covered the agenda items. 

      A budget issue was brought up; one person suggested setting aside money for an upcoming expense that will require more money than is normally spent.  Fair enough.  Before the vote, there was discussion about the motion.  

        This is where it got exciting.  The only thing missing was the popcorn and the seats with cup holders for drinks. We tabled the issue until we could get information about the projected expenses, a reasonable conclusion. 

         It's amazing what reason can do, or so I thought.  One member became agitated, the conversation turned for the worse.  This person, the one who had made the recommendation, stood up, raising his voice.  It was “ridiculous” that we didn’t take action, right then, we were emphatically informed.   Others disagreed. The issue didn't need addressing until October.

         I mindlessly reached for the bag of popcorn, but it wasn't there.  Darn.  But, I was glued to the unfolding theatrics. The chairman bolted from the room, insulted.  The distraught person continued lecturing, the veins in his forehead standing out, his body shaking. 

         Wow, this was pretty good.  I didn't even have to pay to view this performance. Two committee members listened to the tirade, their bodies turned away from this angry guy.  A third member faced the agitated individual, a defensive smile screwed onto her face, but uttered nothing.  
   
         Me?  I took it all in.  I didn't dare go to the bathroom, seeing the conclusion of this stage show was a must. 

         I don’t argue with a drunk person.  This agitated person was emotionally intoxicated.  Knowing that allowed me to relax, not taking his actions personally. 

        The climax came when he stated this situation was like his family.  When he was a kid, he was never listened to.  Yep, he actually said that.

        Striding to the door, he yelled his resignation. It would be a long time before he ever came back.  I waited for the credits to show and the curtain to close.  Instead, the meeting ended in stunned silence. 

A Better Approach to Conflict: 
Nonviolent Communication

        Blame, shame, fear, guilt and judgment don’t help, when making a point. They are forms of life alienating communication.  Every one of these negative techniques were used this evening.  These techniques are a form of violence: emotional coercion

        It’s best expressing the needs beneath our feelings.  Followed up with a request for meeting them.  In tonight's case, his need may have been effectiveness or being heard.  We listened; we simply disagreed. These are principles from nonviolent communication, you can read more about it here and here

My Gratitudes: 

1.  I’m glad for seeing the humor in last night's event.     

2.  I didn't pay an admission price other than the slight annoyance of hearing someone rant.  The ineffectiveness of using anger to make a point was vividly displayed. 

3.  No longer get triggered---agitated---during times of conflict adds greatly to my serenity and equanimity. What a relief it is, staying present, responding and not reacting.  

Take Two
Using A Healthier Approach To Conflict

       Yesterday, I took steps towards improving a relationship with a client, addressing uncomfortable issues.  Being patronized doesn't work for me.  My concerns were mentioned, my need for dignity in our interactions.  My point was made without making an enemy. 

       The outcome was positive.  The concerns were heard; this person will change how he relates with me.  

      Speaking respectfully, while disagreeing is one form of spiritual weightlifting.  It requires effort and can be awkward, especially in the heat of an emotionally charged moment.  It's easier to fight, I know. 

      But the consequences of conflict are usually dire: tension, resentment and anger.  I've learned that the more I do relational weightlifting, using nonviolent communication, the stronger I get, like any other habit.  The best part is that it gets easier with practice.  This is placing principles above personalities, including mine. 

      I'm happy that---during emotional times, like last night----when we replace default reactions with healthier responses, characterological growth occurs.  We are eradicating unhelpful, established patterns----yelling, blaming shaming, etc., that contribute to discord.  I'm thankful that, by responding instead of reacting, healthy dialogue possible.  "Let it begin with me."

      We may not be able to control our circumstances, but we do have control over our responses.  Harmony is no longer contingent upon others or external circumstances, but where I choose to focus.  This realization provides plenty of gratitude.

      Today, while relating with a difficult client, harmony prevailed.  That's not guaranteed. Thankfully, the other person heard my concerns.  Am I’m glad.  Our relationship is improving.  I'll take victories where peace reigns, anytime.

How About You? 
What do you do when you need to address a need of yours? I'd love hearing your response.

Related Post: 
Expressing Feelings, Part II

Thursday, April 7

Expressing Myself: Creating an Opportunity .....4/7/11

Image: "Ooh!" By Tim Blessed. Copyrighted photo. All rights reserved, used by permission. (I'm a lucky guy!)
     Hi everyone,
The weather is on the cool side today----55 degrees. I just got in from work.  Soon, I'll meet with some friends, at 8:00 p.m., Left Coast time. As most of you know, I ask the visitors to this inn to please share at least three gratitudes. For those who are new to this site, I ask you to share only one gratitude.
My Gratitudes for Today:
1.  The work I do is deeply satisfying  Someone recently needed help in her interactions with her estranged husband----it was satisfying seeing the light going on in another, them seeing healthy alternative actions that allow them to address their needs.
2.  Another woman I worked with was besides herself because she was the victim of gossip among friends.  I explained to her that when we need the applause of others to feel good about ourselves, we're giving them power over us. We have value simply because we breathe the breath of humanity.We learn to say our truth and leave the results up to God.
3.  We don't need to accept unacceptable behavior.  We can share what troubles us and do so with kindness and courtesy. We say what we mean, mean what we say but we don't say it meanly.It's important taking the time to decipher our needs, feelings, values and behavior.
Being With Friends, Speaking the Truth, Gently
It's Less Frustrating, When We Do

      I luxuriated in a relaxing time with a friend last night, at a cafe, for a few hours.  It was nice unwinding after a busy day, spent with many people. Days like that put me on sensory overload. I was grateful for the opportunity to decompress.
"A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway."
~ Jerome Cummings
       I'm thankful that, when I was visiting with this person I took care of myself. This other person spoke for 10 minutes. I couldn't get a word in. 

     I said, "I need to interrupt you.  I'd like to say something." Then I did. I never did this as a child or young adult; I wasn't allowed to. I'm happier, having a voice, and expressing it. It's entirely different way of relating from how it was when I was young. By the way, the other person didn't mind.


  I like the saying:
"If you feel like a doormat, you need to  get up off the floor." 
4. I'm thankful for respecting myself and my needs while still being polite and courteous when with this friend.  

5. Yesterday,  I received a pleasant surprise in the mail. I got a letter and photo from a friend.

   With the opportunities we have at isolating, be it using iPhones----texting, messaging, or searching the web-----with hours that can slip by, exploring the Internet, or other ways that prompt us to tune out the world, whether it be living in a cocoon of music---iPods inserted in our ears,  or by  watching TV or streamed-to-our-home movies from Netflix, or playing video games, its encouraging when we connect with others, through personal visits or old fashioned, using-a-stamp mail. 


     Believe it or not, I use fountain pens. Imagine that.  I find there's value in having a 20 second vacation in the midst of my day, as I take the time to write a word in Uncial, Italic, or Gothic script, just to make that word leap from the page as I write that memo or fax cover sheet.


      I look forward to hearing your gratitudes. Please let me know your response to this post, even if you read it months later. I learn from your insights. I love it when you post your gratitudes!

Questions from the Innkeeper .......................4/7/11


  Good evening everyone,

A moment ago I got in. Tonight was terrific. I shared with others about what we can do to grow in those areas where we struggle.  You know, areas like anger, resentment, isolation, depression.  Other than that, I didn't cover much ground. Crazily busy was this day, but good. I had in-depth meaningful conversations with people I never knew until I met them today.

    Okay, I have questions for my friends.  What, you weren't expecting this? You should know by now, I enjoy mixing things up. I hope to hear from those I address and those of you who know me from SSS and drop by as Silent Readers.

     Here I go:

In general:

Any SSSer's like to say hello? I'd love receiving a comment from you.  Many are dropping by. Could you leave a housewarming gift for this inn, by posting a quick comment?

In specific:

Alan, are you there? I hope you're enjoying your trip. Congrats on your anniversary!
CindyR, are you there? How's your precious newborn grandchild doing? Have you been able to stay true to your SSS meal plan?
Coop, how you be? How's your business going? How is your daughter doing, the bride of 12 months?
Daisy Duke, how is your volunteer work going, what is the biggest surprise you've received as a result of you spending time there. A belated happy birthday to you and your hubby.
Dexter, I enjoyed our delightful and surprising conversation. What subject would you like me to cover in this place? Happy Birthday to you!
Kira,  I'd love to know how the  gulf is doing since the big spill.in your neck of  the woods.
Odie, what has been your high point for this week? Thanks for your enlightening comments on Monday.
PCF, what do you think? Let's arrange a time to have lunch. You've my prayers.
Paul, Scooter,  How is the business going? You've my prayers. Will you ever have any direct contact with John Maxwell? I interviewed with him back in 1997, for a position overseeing small groups.
Phyllis, what was the biggest surprise you experienced this week? Are you enjoying continued success with achieving your goals? How can I support your efforts? You probably know I responded to your comments in the comments section of the post.
Rendy, are you lurking around this inn? I'd love to hear from you. Congratulations with your daughter graduating from college, soon. Has she decided where she wants to go for grad school?
Thag, would it be possible for you to share a turning point in your life? Thanks for the mail. It was great! I could learn a lot from you that would help me improve this place. I could use assistance.

Here's to communicating,

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.

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