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STOP! Making New Year’s Resolutions

2018

We’re four days away from the new year.  Soon we’ll move out of the old and into the new.   Along with the parties and fireworks, this is an opportunity to reflect on life.  To look at what is going well and what about ourselves and our situations is not going as we want them too.

Often I think we make a plan for how we’re going to change with the New Year through a list of resolutions.  We sit down with paper and pen to jot down all the things we want to change, about ourselves and our life. But is that the best way to achieve our goals? Honestly that never worked for me.

To be truthful, I no longer make a list of New Year’s resolutions.  For way too many years I set myself up declaring all the things I was going to change about myself, yet did not stick with them long enough to actually achieve the change I wanted. Then I would spend the next eleven and a half months beating myself up for not keeping the resolutions I made.

I learned it is super productive and also a real boost to our self-esteem when we narrow our focus. So this year join me in breaking the habit of making a long list of resolutions. Let’s identify one thing to concentrate on, one thing we can master to the point we make it a consistent part of our new 2018 life-style.

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I Bet Jesus Thinks Presence is More Important than Presents

Christmas tree with fire place

I have a love/not love relationship with the holidays.

I love the multicolored twinkling lights that adorn homes and offices. I adore the aroma of warm cookies and sweet treats baking. I get teary-eyed at the sounds of carolers as I am taken back to pleasant childhood memories of doing the same with my friends. I cherish the tinkling of the Salvation Army bell that reminds us of those less fortunate.

I like the confused look on my little dog’s face when I snap a photo of her in reindeer antlers. I love spending a week writing holiday cards, reinforcing my connection to treasured people in my life. I appreciate the Jewish tradition of lighting the Hanukkah Menorah for the Festival of Lights and the heart-based motivation behind the Christmas tradition of God-consciousness being birthed in the form of the man Jesus.

Yes, I love the reverence for spiritual enlightenment, festivities, fun, food and gatherings for the holidays. And I don’t love the consumerism that is so pervasive this time of year.

It used to be well past Thanksgiving before holiday ads started to appear. Now I am still roaming around in my Halloween costume when the relentless assault begins. The twinkling lights, tinkling bells, and carolers are a mere whisper among the roar of ads for the countless “things” we should wrap up for our loved ones to show we care.

When did what we buy become more important than standing by?

When did presents become more important than presence?

When did “things” become the most important things?

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Love Is Truly a Many-Splendored Thing

love

I sobbed in a homeless man’s arms.

I did not know the man. Most likely I will not see him again, but I will never forget the moment our hearts touched in the intimate dance of raw truth: he lives on the street and I in a warm apartment.

I wanted to take him home with me.

It began when I commented on his dog. He smiled very proud and said, “Yea, she’s great. I’ve got her back and she’s got mine.”

As he spoke, gently petting the dog, I reached into my wallet and took out all the money I had. Without counting, looking, or caring what he would do with it I handed it to him. He hesitantly took it. As our hands touched my tears began. The young man reached out, wrapped me tight in his arms and said, “It’s okay. We’re okay out here. Thank you for caring.”

As I turned to leave he said, “I love you.”

I looked him in the eyes and said, “I love you too.”

Until then I’d never said, “I love you,” to a complete stranger. To someone with whom I’d only met and exchanged a few brief moments. Yet, when I spontaneously responded to the man with “I love you,” I meant it from the bottom of my heart and with every part of my being.  There was no thought. My heart was simply wide open and spilling out came the pure, honest emotion of caring deeply for him.

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NOW, is Where Your True Power Lies

Drop of water

Have you ever considered your past is no longer a real moment in time that you can influence or change? The past only holds memories of your life as it was. Returning to fond memories brings you great joy, but the past officially ended the instant you stepped from the then into now.

You and I cannot go back in time to change the choices we made. Reflecting on the past and our previous choices is the way we learn. But, allowing our mind to dwell on what we think should have, would have, or could have been in the past takes our attention away from the present. However, only in the present is it possible to apply what we learned from the past and create a better outcome for the moment that is now.

The same is true of the future. Regardless of how badly we may want the future to come, we cannot rush ahead and live in a time that does not yet exist. The future is not real; it is only the next moment’s present, over and over, infinitely.

Permitting our mind to race ahead and attach itself to worries of what may happen disconnects us from the present, the only time possible to purposefully get ready for a future event. So, one key to living a fulfilled life is to patiently surrender to the truth: Life is only real now.

You and I have a conscious choice to make. We can live disconnected from the present while convincing ourselves we are actually plugged in, or we can slow down, remain patient, and focus our attention on immersing ourselves in the moment at hand.

One truth is that there is something wonderful hidden in every moment of life. Another is that our contentment comes from slowing down to find it by mastering our attention to stay right here, right now.

Each moment your mind is flooded with thought. You are constantly processing information. You are not without power over your mind and the thoughts it creates. You are not your thoughts. You are the conscious, present heart-self that is responsible for remaining aware of what you think so you stay present in the moment.

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