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We Start With Suffering, Then We Turn the Page

We Start With Suffering, Then We Turn the Page

Suffering is just the jumping off point. It is the kick in the butt to do something different. We hurt. It motivates us to look for ways to relieve our suffering. We don’t always choose the best fixes. Some are dead ends. Others, however, lead us to places we never imagined going. Surprises await us at every turn. Miracles are born. Veils are lifted. Our sorrow grows into purpose and a broadening of our perspective. We discover there is more buried within than we ever knew. This is the miracle of transformation.

Suffering to Transformation

Yesterday, I read a post by author/memoirist/blogger/writer/friend, contributor to Voices of Wisdom series, Kathy Pooler. The title captured my attention when it appeared on my Facebook page buried among the endless political posts and a reminders of the recent act of terrorism. Turning the Page: A Memoir Moment smacked of hope, at least for me.

TURN THE PAGE

Suffering turn page“Turn the page” became my mantra not all that long ago, when I was at a crisis point in my life. While listening to REO Speedwagon’s song Roll with the Changes on headphones, hoofing it on a health club treadmill, I decided to face my fears and do what I always wanted to do — write. It was time to make some serious changes in my life and each time I heard “So if you’re tired of the same old story, Oh, turn some pages”, I knew I had to accept things I didn’t want to accept and move forward. It was a call to loosen my grip, let the winds of fate take me somewhere unexpected and to risk the journey.

There are things in life we can not change. The past for one. Physical disabilities for another. But, it doesn’t have to be the end of the story.  In fact, it can be the very beginning of a new adventure. Kathy describes with depth of experience and understanding her journey to acceptance and it is more than clear to the reader how much richer her life will be because of it.

We have limitations. But, they need not break us or ruin our lives.  We may start with suffering, but we can end with transformation.


HOPE MATTERS

Finding Hope quotes

Earth Day ~ “It’s Not Nice to Fool with Mother Nature” ~ #ScienceMarch

Earth Day ~ “It’s Not Nice to Fool with Mother Nature” ~ #ScienceMarch

Earth
Click on photo to watch video on YouTube

Earth Day brought this infamous quote to mind today. Do you remember the old Chiffon Margarine commercial famous for the one liner, “It’s not nice to fool with mother nature!”? Of course you do! The actress Dena Dietrich delivered her lines with such style they lasted longer than the commercial, or the margarine!  A classic commercial, you can still hear the one liner spoken today, at least by our generation!

These are crazy times. It’s a pleasure to escape back in time for a moment and revisit simpler times. Old movies, classic music, and even commercials remind us of simpler times when our world seemed safer.  Back then we weren’t afraid to eat Chiffon Margarine or drink out of a hose.  Drug stores did not sit on every corner and we didn’t even consider that the food our parents served us might be harmful to us.  Most of us grew up in a world in which a visit to church or synagogue was a part of week.

THE GIFT OF THE EARTH

earthRomping in the woods was a natural part of my life as a child, and Earth Day gives me an opportunity every year to reflect on the value of the natural world. For me, it’s not just about global warming and National Parks, although it is that, it’s about the restorative life energy nature gives to each of us when we seek it out.  It’s the interior value of a walk in the woods, or watching a sunset or the waves as they crash on the shore. There’s nothing else like it.

I can easily imagine life without Chiffon Margarine, which had a long an interesting history. It seems those who created it first began selling it in 1954. A corn product out of Texas, it was the first soft tub margarine to come on the market.  My family used it, did yours? I never liked the taste. Butter was infinitely better in all respects.

Chiffon Margarine sold to Kraft in 1985 which became a part of Nabisco in 1995, and then became a part of Con-Agra in 1998. Con-Agra stopped distributing Chiffon in the United States and Canada in 2002. It can still, however, be purchased in the Caribbean. (Wikipedia) So went the fate of Chiffon Margarine. We are healthier for its absence from our diet, that is, if we ignore the rise of fast food restaurants and snack foods!

THE GIFT OF SCIENCE

The events that gave rise to the Science March on Earth Day this year have given us  an opportunity to reflect on what really is good for us, as individuals and as a nation. Like the earth, we have taken so much for granted in our lifetime. We were so busy with our lives we lost sight of the bigger picture. It wasn’t that we weren’t doing our best and contributing to the betterment of our corner of the world, we just became a little too self-focused.

We’re a nation of individualists. That has its advantages. The disadvantage, however, is the tendency to believe that everyone else thinks like we do, and that everyone else’s life is like ours. Being self-focused may get things done day-to-day. It doesn’t mean things will continue as they are in the world unattended to. We became so accustomed to our government watching our backs about everything, from the quality of our food to the quality of our earth. We trusted them implicitly. There didn’t seem to be any reason not to. After all, the government managed to impeach Nixon when he crossed the line. They generally know what they’re doing. They will keep building National Parks, and maintaining our highways, and protecting the environment from big business.

The upside of the political nightmare is that we are now taking the time to revisit our values as a nation, to remember and restate exactly what it is we stand for.  We had forgotten who we were. Complacency had taken up residence.  So lost in the minutiae at election time, we stopped paying attention to whether or not the people we elected shared our deepest values. Furthermore, we assumed that we were all, more or less, on the same page, but without open dialogue and communication we can’t know this for sure.

POLITICS & MARRIAGE

Our political world is much like a marriage. Communication is foundational and without it, problems will and do arise. It is time for us to collectively restate our values, beliefs and goals as a nation. Only then can we unify, stand together and work together to keep this country great. It’s up to us. It’s not just up to our leaders. So I say march on scientists! March on women! I am thrilled you actively voice your values, not only to the listening ears of our leaders, but to the people who elect them.  The majority of us are cheering you on and stand to benefit from your tireless efforts to make the world a better place.

The earth is a gift. Science is a gift. Freedom is a gift. Let’s never forget it, and let us continue be vigilant and stay informed. As we work together to get our already great nation back on track, know that we are becoming stronger than we were before.


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The Resurrection of Hope

The Resurrection of Hope

The hope of EasterThe symbolism of Easter belongs to all of humanity. Death and resurrection, or rebirth, takes its cue from nature and the change of the seasons. It’s a potent symbol that describes an aspect of existence that is difficult to describe in any other way.
 
Death comes to all of us. It comes in the form of loss, disappointment, change, and the passing of time. Easter points to the universal truth that when we open ourselves up to profound loss and trust the process of life something new will be born. It is in that heartache and brokenness, and through our most profound losses, that we are given new life, new opportunity, a new awareness, a new hope. We can’t imagine what that looks like when we are standing before the empty tomb, but when morning comes we will see what we could not see in the dark.
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”  ― Mahatma Gandhi
 
Easter is about the hope that is our birthright. We all are guaranteed hope. The deepest hope, the greatest joy arises in us after our darkest night; a hope that exists within the human spirit at birth that refuses to quit, refuses to give in to the pain, refuses to give up on life . . . it is a hope that quite often defies reason. Like an ember that never dies, it waits quietly for us to blow on it again and again until it once again ignites.
 
My the love of life, of love, of rebirth and renewal live in you and overcome your sorrow again and again. 
Dorothy
 
“When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning.” John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

WISDOM – WHAT IS IT? #WisdomWednesday

WISDOM – WHAT IS IT? #WisdomWednesday

As a young adult I admired those individuals who emulated wisdom. I read voraciously the words of great writers and teachers who seemed to have an inside tract on the meaning of life. From Kierkegaard, Tillich, C.S. Lewis, Kahlil Gibran, Jesus, Reinhold Niebuhr, Jung, Martin Buber, to Camus, Sartre, Herman Hess, Samuel Beckett, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Virginia Woolf, I soaked in what I could.  I leaned in hungrily to the words of my professors of philosophy and theology, hoping to find a nugget or two of wisdom that would free me from my suffering. Wisdom . . . a thing I longed for. . . even as it eluded me.

What is wisdom?

Forty five years later, I think I have finally begun to understand the true nature of wisdom. It is not just the gift of insight, although it is that. Nor is it something that shows up on our doorstep, like a Fed Ex delivery. It shows up  in its own time and is something that one recognizes in oneself only in hindsight.

Wisdom
“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Wisdom, I believe, is a byproduct of suffering. It is not an award for endurance, although endurance is necessary.  It’s something more. It requires yielding to suffering and allowing it to become our teacher.

Wisdom comes to those who allow the fires of hell to burn down walls of protection in order to see the truth. It does not come to those who insist on wearing masks of denial or pretense. A fundamental ingredient of the wise is the ability to see and speak the Truth regardless of the consequences.

“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace   

The wise learn to see themselves and the world through the eyes of truth, not the eyes of their ego.  Wisdom begins to show up precisely when a person sees how much they have left to learn and when they have begun to be willing students of life.  Not a goal to be achieved,  it arrives precisely when one no longer care about being wise.


FINDING HOPE, Quotes for Midlife and Beyond is packed with quotes to guide and support you as you gather wisdom. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it. If so, please leave a review on Amazon and recommend it to a friend! It also makes a great gift for Mother’s Day and special occasions. Thank you, as always, for your support. DS

THE PERFECT STYLE OF YOU #WednesdayWisdom

THE PERFECT STYLE OF YOU #WednesdayWisdom

style
This is a portrait of JEANNE LOUISE CALMENT (1875-1997) who was the darling of the media, back in 1995, when she reached her 120th birthday and became the oldest known person in the world – she would further become, by another year, the oldest documented person ever to have lived.

Online quizzes attract me like a kid to a cookie jar. Their popularity is a good indication that I’m not alone. Modern humans seem fascinated with the subtleties of their personalities and figuring out who they are, really. We want to know our hidden gifts and most attractive qualities. I’m no different. Many days I feel like a giant Rubik’s cube.

WHAT’S YOUR STYLE?

Over the weekend, the women in the Aging Abundantly Circle Meet UP group on Facebook had a lively conversation about our wardrobes, what we like to wear and why. Most had a pretty solid idea of where they stood on the subject. Unfortunately, I flip-flop from one style to another and am rarely consistent about anything I buy or wear.

Consistency confounds me in all areas of my life. My clothes are no exception. Some days I gravitate to free-flowing and colorful. Other days I want nothing more than the comfort of jeans and a sweater, figuratively and metaphorically.  It makes shopping difficult and having what I need available when I need it challenging. I whine to any of the Gods who are listening to please help me find a single, unmistakable style that I can embrace. I want to be me 24/7, and what I’m wearing is important! (Silence.)

My frustration was met by this  answer from one of the participants in the conversation: “You’re a mood dresser!” She seemed excited by her declaration, but what I heard was that I was moody and there’s no denying that. It just makes matters worse. I said such and she laughed and responded, “No! Not moody“, she said, “you dress according to your mood! That’s who you are!”

FINDING OUR COMFORT ZONE

styleBINGO! The unsettled blocks in my brain went click, click, click and my sense of identity fell into a new comfort zone. She was absolutely right! I want clothes that match my mood. Just like I want a coffee mug that matches my mood at any given time. But, could I embrace this about myself?

It’s not that we don’t know who we are, we just want someone to tell us its okay to be ourselves. We spent a half a lifetime, if not more, living according to other’s definitions of who we are and our essential self has seemed wrong for so long, that we could use a little reinforcement. So we take quizzes.

As I reflected on clothing styles and personality quizzes it occurred to me that what lies beneath the surface of both are one and the same. On the surface, what we learn is interesting if true, but so what? Beneath the surface the question remains, “what are we really looking for? What are we hoping to learn? Why do we need so desperately to know the answers?

If you look for the truth outside yourself, 
It gets farther and farther away. 
Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step. 
It is the same as me, yet I am not it. 
Only if you understand it in this way 
Will you merge with the way things are.
~ Tung-Shan

SELF-APPRECIATION IS HEALTHY

Most of the time I believe we are looking for one or two very fundamental things. We are looking for self-acceptance and/or affirmation of something we already intuitively know to be true about ourselves. We really don’t need the quizzes to tell us what we already know, we just want someone out there to say “yes, you are this”, isn’t it wonderful? In other words, we want permission to be who we already know ourselves to be.

My search for a style of clothes all my own is one of the least important things on the planet to me. What I believe I really want is to be okay with being me; to be okay with my idiosyncrasies and out-of-stepness. We all want affirmation, for someone or something to say, “hey, you got it goin’ on”, I like you!

We need this more than we might because a “mean girl chorus” hounds us to be like everyone else and to not dare be who we are. This very vocal and personal collection of people, made up of mom, sister and great-aunt Betty, has been with us for a lifetime. To send them packing is to open up a whole lot of space in our head that in the beginning feels really strange. As we begin to embrace the void, however, and fill the space with our own thoughts, appreciation and enjoyment of who we are, it gets a whole lot happier in there.


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