Freedom is Not Free

 

Here in America, July is the month we celebrate the birth of our country, our freedom and our republic. But as that wise saying goes, “Freedom is not free.” There is a cost to everything in life, and freedom is no exception.

 

What happens when your freedom to express your opinion conflicts with a dear friend or family member’s freedom to express theirs? Do you listen to each other, giving each other respect and room to be who they are, or do you condemn them, shut them out, tell them they are wrong?

 

Right now in our country we have such a divisive attitude occurring. Regardless of your viewpoint, it seems to me that most people are troubled by this divide. The positive thing is that we do live in a country and era in which we can technically express our beliefs. However, practically speaking, it is becoming increasingly difficult for not only our politicians to disagree, but the public, families and friends as well.

 

The hard thing is that I’ve heard of friends or family who have allowed their beliefs to divide and separate them. Last night I heard about a daughter and her Mother who no longer speak because the Mom is a liberal and the daughter is not. Really?

 

Is this really enough to split up families? I know people can say and do things they later regret in the heat of the moment, but to allow these things to break up long-standing and deep relationships is tragic.

 

Before this happens to you, or if it has happened to you, do all you can to prevent this or repair it. Life is so darn short, and we don’t need to spend it justifying our position on something or putting political beliefs before our bond with another.

 

Here are a few quotes I found that I believe will help. Meanwhile, celebrate your independence and your right to believe and express yourselves (hopefully with tact and courtesy!), and remember that freedom does not mean you can say and do anything you want, but that wisdom and intuition should be employed to guide you on when you make a stand and when you don’t. The “Golden Rule” applies here when you have respect for others and their beliefs just as you expect and demand respect from others.

 

Our church has a great motto: “There is more that binds us together than separates us.” And that is the truth of it and what we can focus on when we are with our loved ones and disagree on issues: there is more to bind us together in relationship than separates us.

 

 

“​​​​​My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

Jack Layton

​Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”

​​​​​​​Roy T. Bennett

HIS-story, HER-story and the BACK-story

Bleeding Hearts

One thing I love to hear are people’s life stories. I once started a book on women’s stories but it lost its energy due to the overwhelming energies in my own life and never got picked up again. Someone wiser than I and a better writer than I will do it and meanwhile, I continue to be fascinated with the uniqueness of people’s valiant struggles and how creative so many are in overcoming obstacles. Those people are such inspirational figures and have taught me so much.

One of the common obstacles we each face is in the area of forgiveness. This can range from a small slight to a huge burden such as assault, abandonment, abuse, and other horrendous issues. Still, the challenge to us is the same: to forgive the offender while not condoning the offense, and bringing some measure of peace back to our lives while releasing our need to cling to our righteous anger at being victimized.

I’ve written quite a bit about forgiveness over the years. If it’s true that we teach what we need to know, it might also be true that we write what we need to hear. In my case, I know this to be true. I am one of those who has experienced “righteous anger” for everything from someone who steals my parking place to much bigger human interaction situations.

In the interest of anonymity, I will not mention specifics but be assured that my life has been filled with these incidents. It would seem one of my big life lessons has to do with learning how to truly forgive.

Over 30 years ago I experienced one of my forgiveness lessons and was in so much emotional pain over the betrayal of a friend that my Mother, who rarely said anything in the form of advice, quoted Mark Twain who wisely said “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

She also said, “Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels.” This quote is attributed to Fannie Brice but there is some discussion around where it originated. Regardless, there is truth in this quote and in my case, with those two quotes ringing in my ears, I was able to release my anger and hurt over time and even reached a place of forgiveness. It was not easy. It took time. But I also realized that holding a grudge or hanging on to my firm belief that I was “done wrong” by a trusted friend was hurting me and not affecting the offender in any way.

So this is my HER-story: I was wronged. I hurt. I suffered. I floundered in the land of not understanding why this happened. I hurt and suffered some more. But slowly, by repeating those quotes and understanding the wisdom in them, I was able to move from being crushed to flying free.

The reason I am writing this is because I see some of my loved ones suffering from being hurt. They didn’t deserve this. But there is some learning in these experiences that will expand their being and their awareness and their consciousness that will benefit them in the long run. For me, I am much better at forgiving. I understand the boundary between forgiving and condoning. “Love the sinner but not the sin” is a quote that I understand and live by.

People who hurt others are hurting within themselves. They need healing too: perhaps more than we who are victimized by them. Their HIS-story and HER-story almost always have a BACK story that include horrid things that have happened to them.

I’ve learned that praying for others is a powerful action. I’ve learned that holding onto a grudge and my anger does nothing for me and does not affect the offender in any way. I’ve learned that in every case there is a lesson for me in there somewhere if I but take the time to explore it.

Here is a small almost silly example from my own life: Last week I was just about to pull into a parking space near the door of the store I was going to. All of sudden out of nowhere, this young woman does a quick U-turn and pulls into it, almost hitting me in her manoeuver. (Anyone ever see Fried Green Tomatoes? “TOWANDA” came to mind!)

I was startled, and then I was mad. How could she? She is young and I am obviously not and she can walk, darn it, and I limp, so come on….where is the fairness here?

Well, first I remembered that I can always use the exercise and even often park far away just so I can get the extra steps in. Second, I remembered the days when I was young and under so much time stress and thought maybe she was so harried that she needed that extra time that that space afforded her and after all, I was not in a hurry and the extra steps would serve me.

Next, I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer for her, parked far away, and walked to the store. I had a delightful encounter with the wonderful cashier. As I walked out of the store with a smile on my face, I realized I had not thought again of the incident and was actually surprised that I hadn’t and that by releasing it so quickly I was able to then enter into a pleasant exchange with the cashier, making both of our days better. And hopefully that young woman who was in such a hurry can find some peace in her life so she is not living in such a harried fashion. Been there, and it’s not good.

As I said, this is almost a silly example, but it does give you an idea of what forgiveness can do in releasing us from the burden of carrying anger over a wrongdoing.

I’d love to hear from you ways you have released your own anger in order to free you from carrying a grudge around. Those grudges get heavier with every day don’t they…..

There is a lot to be said for moving on. Staying stuck in the past gets us nowhere, but releasing and moving on opens up limitless possibilities.

Take it from one who knows. And one who spent too many years stuck in her righteous anger. Move on. And live a wonderful life free from anger and finger pointing. You won’t believe how much better you will feel!

The Two Magical Colors of March: Green and Gold

Detail from Indian Sari, Great Thaar Desert, photographed by Diantha Harris

(Originally published in Conscious Design Ezine for March 2017)

In this month of leprechauns and rainbows, two colors seem to emerge that represent this month of March: gold and green. Green is of course the signature color of St. Patrick and leprechauns, whereas gold is that color we seek at the end of the Rainbow! So let us take a moment to explore these two happy colors that accompany the anticipation of spring.

Green is, of course, the color we most associate with nature. It represents growth, life force, and movement forward. It is also the color of the heart center and is the fulcrum in our body’s energy system. There are three warm color centers below the heart (red/base, orange/sacral, yellow/solar plexus) and three cool color centers above it (blue/throat, indigo/third eye, purple/crown). It is from the heart that we seek to live our lives, but we often get pulled upward and live in our heads, or downward and live in our bodies. Still, it is a worthwhile effort to settle into living from our hearts for when we do, we can more easily assimilate our mission in life and live out our life’s purpose.

The challenge side of green is envy. When green is out of balance it can cause us to have feelings of envy and jealousy. It can cause us to be inflexible and bitter. It can cause us to waver off our path and be distracted from our purpose.

To keep a color in balance you can wear it, eat it, see it, smell it (essential oils), or hold it. Green is easy as it is readily available in all these ways. A nice green oil is cedar, which will also keep your space smelling fresh and clean.

 

Gold is a color that lies between our sacral center (orange) and solar plexus (yellow) and so contains both of those colors in its makeup. Orange contains yellow and red so we have a heavy dose of yellow in gold along with a dash of red. Yellow is the color of happiness but gold is the color of deep joy. Yellow is also the color of the ego while gold is the color of our soul’s purpose. Red is the color of energy and passion while gold is the color of dedication to our soul’s reason for being as it brings the energy in to fulfill that purpose.

Gold is the area of the body, which, in color therapy, we refer to as the Dan Tien or center of the body. It is that area that holds the treasure of who we are in the very depths of our being. It is the “gold” or treasure of who we are.

In the gold is our worth, our value. It is indeed a treasure, for each of us is unique and each of us has something of value to contribute to this world. In its challenge it can mean unexplained fear, but when it is in balance it is deep, gut knowledge, that knowing that we get that is also unexplained but we just “know”. We must pay attention to this “knowing” for when we do not, we always pay a price.

When you are unbalanced in the gold you may have a feeling of worthlessness, or be disconnected from your soul and your “knowing”. You may be deeply worried or fearful of something. To rebalance the gold you can do as outlined above in green. A nice gold oil is mandarin but I also love using frankincense.

 

When we mix these two colors together we get a brownish color that reminds us of our foundation, or being grounded and practical. Using these two colors in March will enhance our entire lives as the green will keep us heart centered and on track, and the gold will keep us connected to that deep knowing and to the core of our being.

Enjoy this prelude to spring and reinforce your life and your mission by using these two wonderful colors in concert with each other.

Rainbows, Leprechauns and GREEN

GREEN

Since St. Patrick’s day is associated with green, tell me what you think of when you think of that color. Is it nature? Money? Being green with envy? Green beer?

All of those associations go along with green. It is also the color of the heart, of making decisions, and of your life’s path. It is the color of balance in the chakra system being made of a warm color (yellow) and a cool color (blue), and lies midway between the first and last 3 chakras.

How will you be using green this month? In my hometown of Chicago where everyone claims to be Irish on St Patrick’s Day, the river is dyed green, and green beer is served everywhere. There are Irish jigs heard round the city and brogues are thick. I’ve never seen a “greener” celebration but perhaps you have. Send me a photo of the one in your area!

Enjoy March, the color of green, of rainbows, and of Color Therapy Month!

I Love Me, I Love Me Not…..A Valentine to My Self

As I write this month’s newsletter, I find I am in the middle of a miracle. We have all experienced miracle in our lives whether or not we have recognized and/or acknowledged it. Perhaps it is the birth of a child, for others it’s passing a class when we know in our hearts it is a gift that we did pass, for others it might be getting to a loved one’s side just before they transition giving us time to say good bye. For me, today, it is the miracle of accepting, truly accepting, my earthly body just as it is, which is the missing piece for me with the idea of self-love. Self-love, in the midst of this month of love, is finally becoming a reality.

What has shifted? This is not an overnight wonder believe me. I’ve spent at least 65 years searching for a form of self-acceptance, especially acceptance of the body I have been gifted with. My body is sturdy (a nice way of describing a short, stocky physique!), strong, healthy and has taken me all over the globe. It has given us three amazing children, allowed me to enjoy great cuisine, laugh, swim, play with grandchildren, talk and share with friends. It is this wonderful, amazing body that has allowed me to experience this life with you, and that has carried me many a mile along the path of life.

I have just taken an amazing course with Pippa Merivale (www.metatronic-life.com) who works with the energies of Metatron. In this course, Physical Vitality, I became keenly aware of the miracle of the body. Each system is so precise, so wonderfully perfect in its functioning. Yes, we each have our physical challenges. Maybe our ears don’t hear well enough, or our eyes don’t see well, and for some of us we have great challenges such as auto-immune diseases, mental challenges, and other debilitating issues.

But the body, as it is designed to be when all is working as it should, is brilliant in its design and function. Wow. Think of it. Think of all the things our bodies do for us: our hearts beat without our thinking of it. Our livers and kidneys, pancreas and reproductive systems, nervous and digestive systems, endocrine system and brain, …all go about their business 24/7 without a vacation, a break, or a rest.

In the class I took with Pippa, (Physical Vitality) she examined our body’s systems and created a meditation of sorts that explained how complex and miraculous each system is. I particularly loved her description of the digestive system when she explained that light is absorbed by our foods and then we eat the foods, effectively ingesting the light! Imagine, then, the light flowing from our foods into our cells and blood, into our organs, the brain, and throughout the entire physical container that we are. Isn’t that just a miracle? We eat light and it then spreads throughout us. It takes my breath away to imagine that.

This Valentine’s Day I will be celebrating a new love: my body. I have ignored it, abused it, hated it, yelled at it, despaired of it, cried over it, said hateful things to it and hidden from it. And it has been nothing but loyal to me. It has served me for 70 years. It has never asked anything more than that I consider treating it as well as I can.

So now when I exercise and when I eat consciously, both of which I have been doing for a long, long time, I will do them with more love, more awareness, more prayerful thought. I will tune into my body more, honor it more, and listen to its needs. My head will not be separate anymore from the rest of me. I will be incorporated into one, into one amazing miracle.

How about you? Are you loving your self, your body, you as much as you can? This is what I wish for you on this day of love: that you look in the mirror and say truthfully, “I love you.”

“The Universe is not outside of you. Look inside of yourself, everything that you want you already are.”  Rumi

“It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love.” Voltaire

“I think the most important thing in life is self-love, because if you don’t have respect for everything about your own body, your own soul, your own capsule, then how can you have an authentic relationship with anyone else?” Shailene Woodley

Ding Dong Merrily on High

xmas-bells

 

We are just about the two luckiest people on the planet. We live next door to two very artistic people, one plays the oboe and one is a painter/pastel artist. The other night we were invited to a little Holiday concert in their home and one of the songs was the Christmas carol, “Ding Dong Merrily On High”. Its jaunty little tune is one that sticks with you and lifts you up over and over.

A few nights ago, Bill and I actually did “ding-dong” for two hours as we stood outside a local grocery and rang the bell for the Salvation Army. We had such a great experience. First of all, I am floored by how generous Americans are. There were by far more givers than not. Even the ones who had little to spare would chuck in a little change. We could tell that they could very well use that change for themselves, but no, they chose to give.

Most folk, even if they couldn’t give or chose not to, were very friendly. Of course there are those who walked right by not acknowledging our “Merry Christmases”, not daring to make eye contact or even crack a smile. There were those who smiled and said “I already gave today” or who would greet us back with a hearty, heartfelt greeting. We had no expectations that everyone would give, far from it. But by the end of the two hours, the pot was full to bursting with the generosity of our community.

There is something wonderful about how giving blesses the giver. Last month we spoke about gratitude and how it prepares us to give. Gratitude begins to open our hearts to all the blessings we have received. Remember the story of the Fleas from last month? And how even seemingly bad things can end up being blessings? Well, with feeling thankful comes the added benefit of the heart opening. When the heart opens, even a crack, it lets in the Light and the blessings begin to enter. The more this happens, the more our beings want to pour out gratitude and generosity to the world. It is a beautiful cycle.

The energetic pattern behind this is so amazing. You can find images on the internet of what this looks like: the energy forming a big figure 8 of the in and out movement of energy through the heart, out into the universe and back again. The idea is that the more we give, the more we receive. Isn’t that just the most amazing thing? What a blessing.

Whether it’s the familiar Salvation Army red pots or your community charities, or any one of a number of worthwhile charities, I encourage you to give whatever you can. The gift of giving blesses the giver at least as much or maybe even more than the recipient. It is a wonderful way to open your own heart, and feel the blessings rush in.

The Blessings of the Season to you……..

Gratitude Begets Generosity

img_2812

Gratitude and Generosity

Inspired by One Simple Act by Debbie Macomber

 

I have written extensively about gratitude over the years and have had a gratitude practice for ages but it wanes at times and I admit to being inconsistent with it. By inconsistent, I mean I don’t always do it the same way day after day but I vary it. There is rarely a day I don’t do something at all about gratitude, even if it is only giving thanks for our food.

But Debbie Macomber writes eloquently about how important it is to have an “attitude of gratitude” before we even begin to think about generosity. Because to her, it is the foundation of giving.

FLEAS:

In the first chapter she mentions one of my all time favorite books, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten-Boom. In the book Corrie tells us of how she and her beloved sister hide escaping Jews in Holland and are eventually found out, placed in Ravensbruck, and end up in a barracks designed for 400 people but jammed with 1400. They have a forbidden Bible with them hidden in their barracks and it is this Bible that they all turn to and read from to sustain their spirits while in this horrid place.

Of course the barracks becomes contaminated with fleas, who bite and chew on the inhabitants relentlessly. It is Corrie’s sister who insists they all be grateful for the fleas because their presence is what keeps the guards from inspecting the room, thus preserving the presence of their Bible. Corrie resists this for a while but later realizes her sister is right, and begins to give thanks for the fleas.

“Fleas” in our own lives can be any one of a number of inconveniences, disappointments, things we don’t like or want in our lives. But to Corrie, and to Ms. Macomber, “Fleas” are things that appear in our lives to help us, not hurt us. We are not meant to judge the wisdom of nature or the will of God but find the silver lining in things and trust that all in the end will be well.

 RESEARCH:

Ms. Macomber highlights the research on gratitude by R.A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and M. E. McCullough of the University of Miami. These researchers found that those who kept a gratitude journal “exercised more regularly, reported fewer illness symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week…..” p. 14

She also states on pp. 15-16 the findings of Stephen Post, PhD. and professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine. He found the following 5 things that gratitude does:

  1. Gratitude Defends (increases your body’s natural antibodies)
  2. Gratitude Sharpens (helps our brain focus and helps avoid depression)
  3. Gratitude Calms (which in turn helps our blood pressure and heart rate)
  4. Gratitude Strengthens (helps us in stressful conditions: think of the Fleas)
  5. Gratitude Heals. (when we are sick, we can heal faster when we focus on gratitude)

Ms. Macomber states: “When gratitude becomes a habit, then generosity seems to follow naturally.” P.15 So giving becomes a natural outgrowth of our gratitude practice.

GIVING AND GENEROSITY:

Here is a basic truth about generosity:

“Cultivating the habit of good deeds will not only affect those around us, it will improve our own emotional well-being” p.49

TO BE CONTINUED……

We will address GIVING in the December issue of our newsletter. Meanwhile Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your gratitude practice!

 

 

 

Lifting the US Presidential Meditation from James Twyman

Special notice: On Sunday night, November 6 at 7pm Eastern there will be a world wide meditation led by James Twyman to uplift the US Presidential Election. Everyone on the planet will be affected by who is elected President, so please, join in to uplift the energy, and to meditate for the highest good of all to be served. Leave behind your judgements and opinions and join us in creating miracle.

https://youtu.be/Ix9pECPsthA

peace-frog

 

 

What the Heck is Going On?????: Understanding the Chaos in Today’s World

buddha-altar

Has anyone else noticed what a challenging time it is? My goodness. So many people facing truly big issues. My heart has been aching for so many people. And my head keeps saying, “What on earth is going on?”

What can we do when there is nothing we can do? There are many people I know and care about for whom I can do precious little. People with whom I can’t interfere for one reason or another from distance in miles to distance in relationships.

This makes it even harder to bear the burden of wanting to help but being unable to do so. And so I took this question into the Akashic Records today, when I had a reading myself by a good friend and fellow colleague. What came out of it was brilliant. Here is the jist:

Akashic Record Message:

“Part of what the world is experiencing at this time is a clearing. Clearing can be a very intense process when we are unable or unwilling to let go of the status quo, when we can’t choose another way of reacting to challenges, when we keep getting attached to the drama of what is unfolding before us, when we focus on what WE want rather than allowing for all possibilities.

In fact, that is when clearing becomes a hammer that comes crashing down on us creating an even bigger problem. When we avoid, disregard, or run from change and clearing, we up the ante in what happens.

But when we stay in faith, in love, and in compassion, the clearing process becomes much easier. As the Course in Miracles (https://www.acim.org/) teaches, there are two ways of living: in fear or in love. When we choose fear, problems become insurmountable. When we live in love, our lives unfold in a more manageable manner. When we stay in love, redemption happens. When we offer compassion, we can draw others into this state of love when they are unable to do so for themselves and remain stuck in fear.”

Summing it up:

When we get attached to the drama, and the pain, we ourselves become disempowered to help. We have to rise above the drama and hold a place of compassion. If we want to help, it is vitally important that we ourselves reach the space of love, peace and compassion if we are to have a positive impact on anyone or anything.

There was more, but this is the jist of it. I don’t know about you, but this helped me put so much into perspective. I hope this helps you as well.

God’s blessings to all.

 

 

Fall Colors

Fall Colors

“How beautiful leaves grow old,

How full of light and color are their last days.”

John Burroughs

Even though we are now full time Floridians, there is still anticipation in my heart for fall, my favorite season. I have so many wonderful memories of fall and fall colors while growing up and then while raising our family. I always loved the return of cooler temperatures, the chance to wear a sweater again, the bright cheerful fall leaves, the crunch of walking through fallen leaves.

One of the best things is, of course, the colors of the leaves as they change from green to both vibrant and subdued colors. These color changes inspire people to travel to northern climes to take “color tours”. When we lived in Northern Michigan we saw scores of tour buses meandering the area taking in the colors, stopping to purchase apples of all colors and bright orange pumpkins, and sipping cider to wash down delicious warm apple doughnuts fresh from the kitchens of the roadside stands.

Some of the most vibrant colors of fall are in the red-orange-yellow part of the spectrum. The Evergreens provide a beautiful backdrop for these vivid colors and the brown of the oaks and other trees provide a lovely counterpoint to the vividness of their more showy neighbors.

The explosion of color in fall, this effusive display of color, comes just before winter, when things are quieter, the colors muted into whites, grays, dark browns and blacks. But most people greet fall with an excitement inspired by this array of warm colors that appeals to the eye and the soul as well.

Have you ever thought about why this is? The colors themselves, being in this warmer end of the spectrum, are indeed imbued with the ability to excite our nervous system. Our bodies literally react to these bright colors with an increase in heart rate, and a rise in our body temperature. The warm colors speed up our systems and elevate our spirits. It is no wonder that many people say fall is their favorite season. For the most part we feel more alive thanks to the effect warm colors have on our bodies.

 

FALL COLOR FAMILIES:

As you yourself experience fall, think about what each color family in this warm spectrum means:

Reds: This color connects us to the earth, helps us to ground, assists us in manifesting, inspires passion, and excites our systems more than any other hue. There are many shades of red in fall colors from deep reds even into purples and into the bright, bright reds of sugar maples.

Orange: This color against a cobalt blue fall sky is one of my favorite sights. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of photos I have taken over the years of orange leaves against a clear, deep blue sky. Perhaps that is because over the years I have learned to love orange, the color of community, creativity, connection as well as the color we use to heal trauma and overcome challenges. It is a juicy color that just makes me happy, and rightly so as it is the color of bliss, very Joseph Campbell like.

Yellow: This hue is associated with fall in my mind as the color of school buses and goldenrod. As a child I hated to see goldenrod bloom because it meant those carefree summer days were coming to an end and we would soon be back in school. I liked school, but I loved summer. Yellows make us happy too and they help us assimilate things from foods to knowledge. Adding yellow to a student’s environment will help them remember what they are studying.

Green is not strictly a fall color, but it is present in the fall as the backdrop for the bright colors. Green is the bridge from the warm to the cool colors and in our chakra system it is also the color of the heart, the center of our energy centers. As such, I decided to include it here as I find it a great part of the Divine plan that in the background of all the fall’s feverish colors, green provides the base, the grounding if you will, for all this energy. Green provides the heart beat of the season, the steadying influence. In spite of all the frivolity of fall colors, green is still there, still steady, still the frame for the scenes in front of our eyes.

We may as well speak to Brown as well for fall colors do contain this earth color. They may not take center stage but brown is even earthier and more grounding. It doesn’t scream for attention but rather goes about its job as being the anchor and the more serious influence doing its job well but quietly. It is friendly and doesn’t care if the colors around it create a fiesta, for it knows well enough that those colors need their quiet backdrop in order to shine more brightly. Just as a star or a politician needs a quieter partner, someone to steady them, someone to keep them grounded and anchored, so, too, do browns provide this for their showier sisters and brothers. After all, if everything were a bright vibrant hue, with no contrast, we could not appreciate the liveliness in those colors. And if everyone were a star or politician, there would be no one to watch or hear him or her. Our friend brown provides this contrast brilliantly.

With this in mind, then, I hope you enjoy your fall and seeing the colors as you move through each day.

© Diantha Harris

October 2016