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The Sacred EarthApr 22, 2016

 

by June Cotner, editor of Earth Blessings

As a child I was always drawn to the outdoors … as an adult, I still am! Some of the most memorable times in my life have been spent surrounded by nature. To this day, I continue to hike regularly—and I honestly don’t know where I would be without the solace of wilderness.

But we don’t need to be in the wilderness to experience the beauty of nature. At home, I continue to be astonished by the everyday marvels that surround me—birds, plants, animals, sky, sunshine, and moonlight. These things serve as reminders that we can carry nature with us wherever we go.

It was the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson that first drew my attention to the fragile nature of the environment. I read it in college and her words opened my mind to the notion that human actions could affect the very ecosystems upon which our lives depend.Where would we be if we did not have Mother Earth to rely upon? How can we view humanity, if not through the lens that is the world around us? And what does the state of the world today say to our communities and to our children?

It is my belief that the sacred can be found not in things abstract and ethereal, but in the earth itself. I hope that, by reading Earth Blessings, we may all come to realize what a vital place the earth holds, not only in our relationships with one another, but in our relationships with the world we live in.

Many books have been written on the practical aspects of living green, but only a few focus on the spiritual. I set out to create a book that would be an ecological celebration, complete with inspiring poems, interfaith prayers, and spiritual prose. In Earth Blessings, I have chosen selections from over ten years’ worth of collected material, pieces that authentically speak to the earth and to the intricate ties that bind us to it.

As Henry David Thoreau said, “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” I hope Earth Blessings will encourage us to look more deeply at our unique planet with a global awareness and respect, to gently remind us to do our part in sustaining an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, and to cherish Earth for the presence of the divine that appears to us through the natural world.

~

You can order Earth Blessings here. Happy Earth Day!

 
 

Let Go and Let the Laughter FlowApr 19, 2016

 

by Allen Klein, MA, CSP

In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang on to the past is holding you back from a new life.

—Mary Manin Morrissey, spiritual teacher

It had been an incredibly frustrating morning. When I got to my office, I received a call from my credit card company. They informed me that my card had been compromised. Someone attempted to charge a large purchase to my account. Because of this, they wanted to cancel my account and issue me a new card. I didn’t want that because I had a similar experience the previous year and it took a lot of time to contact all of the merchants who automatically deduct my monthly payments. After the first person refused to let me keep my card, I spent about forty minutes on hold, waiting to speak to a supervisor. I finally made a deal with them to keep the card but get a new one if a fraudulent charge happened again.

Then I attempted to stamp a letter that I had written the night before only to find that my stamp machine had a “lockout” message. Usually it is only a matter of minutes to clear the lockout, but every time I tried it this time, it didn’t work. Finally, after several attempts and more frustration, it finally cleared.

Right after that, just as I thought things were running smoothly again, my attempt to back up my computer didn’t work either. Again, it took a number of tries and mounting frustration against technology that wasn’t cooperating that morning.

On days like this, in an attempt to get a little levity in the situation, I often tell myself, “The moon must be in tapioca.” I have no idea where I got that phrase but it always brings a small smile to my face. Perhaps that is because it parodies astrologists who sometimes attribute not-so-great stuff happening to such things as the moon being in retrograde.

But that morning, with some many things going wrong, my usual mantra of “the-moon-in-tapioca” didn’t help much. What did help was the Daily Word, a Unity publication. I normally don’t get much laughter from the wisdom the magazine provides me everyday, but that day I let out a big laugh when I saw what the word of the day. It was “surrender.”

How very appropriate for what I was experiencing that morning. How appropriate anytime. “In the midst of disagreement,” it said, “I may be tempted to give in to frustration. Yet, no matter what happens outside, I have the ability to choose how to respond.” With the help of the magazine, I was able to let go of my frustrating circumstances, and let laughter save the day.

~

Allen Klein is an award-winning professional speaker and best-selling author. His latest Viva Editions book is You Can’t Ruin My Day: 52 Wake-Up Calls to Turn Any Situation Around. More information about Klein and his work at: www.allenklein.com

 
 

What do you do when bad things happen?Apr 12, 2016

 

New from Viva Editions, When Bad Things Happen to Good Women is a guide to dealing with all of life’s tragedies, from losing a job, to house destruction from natural disasters, or deaths in the family. Carole Brody Fleet, an expert on grief and the author of two previous books, explains the best way to deal with over 40 common situations, and also tells you how to comfort those around you who may be experiencing these events.

when bad things happen to good women

 


Excerpt:

Beginning a book of this sort with a chapter intended for people not directly affected by a bad thing is kind of like trying to frost a cake that has not been baked—you just don’t do it that way. However, I also believe that the more urgent a message, the sooner it needs to be heard. So as I am wont to do, I am breaking from convention by beginning with a chapter dedicated to the people who surround the “warriors”; the survivors of bad things…loss, life-challenges, adversity and situations that we all dread ever having to face.

We begin with the “Don’ts”:

The Biggest “Don’t-Say”

The absolute, no-doubt-about-it, definitive, number-one thing that you should never say to anyone who has just shared any kind of bad-thing news with you is:

“I know how you feel”
(also occasionally disguised as “I know what you’re going through”)

Little does more harm to a person in need of compassion, sympathy or actual support and help than hearing “I know how you feel” or “I know what you’re going through” from the people around them. A seemingly innocuous phrase, and commonly used in an attempt to relate to the pain of another person, this sentiment has the capacity to create very hard feelings. No one knows how someone else feels, and to say otherwise is presumptuous at best and can be devastatingly hurtful at worst.

Let’s explore the reasons why this phrase needs to be immediately eliminated from our sympathy lingo and blasted off of the planet (along with phrases like, “Aren’t you over it yet?” and “Everything happens for a reason,” both of which you will see recurring many times throughout this book).

Reason # 1

It is not your turn. Leave the spotlight where it belongs.

I have spent many years in service to the bereaved. I have written about, been interviewed regarding and spoken about a wide variety of loss and life-challenge experiences at great length. The stories that I have heard are countless. Moreover, when it comes to loss and life-challenge, I unfortunately also have a great deal of personal insight and experience (that includes widowhood); far too much overall for my liking.

It might then surprise you to learn that not once have I ever looked at anyone who shares their story of loss or challenge and responded with, “I know how you feel.”

Why?

Regardless of whatever news has just been shared, whether you have been through the same or similar experience or not, the minute you say, “I know how you feel,” you will inevitably follow those words with, “because I…” and then you are then likely to fill in the blank with your own tale(s) of woe. There is then an unspoken and automatic shift in the focus of the conversation and the person who has just come to you in need of sympathy, compassion, advice or perhaps just a shoulder to lean on is now being forced to focus on your story, your feelings and how you were affected by your situation. Whether intended or not, the emphasis is now on you and at this particular moment in time, the emphasis is misplaced. It is not about you right now. The focus needs to remain on the person who has opened a conversation with bad-thing news and is looking to you for compassion and reassurance. They should not have to be in the position of consoling you. Leave the spot-light where it belongs—on the person in immediate need.

Reason #2

Most of us have experienced at least one traumatic or challenging situation in our lives. While you may think that you are compassionately empathizing with someone by letting them know that you have had what you perceive to be a similar experience, what you may be unintentionally doing is trivializing their loss experience by making impossible comparisons. For example, imagine the horror of a mother who had recently lost her young child and in the guise of consolation, was told, “I know exactly how you feel because that’s how I felt when my [105-year-old] great-aunt died.” While the loss of a 105-year-old great-aunt is sad and the loss should be mourned, this is not only a violation of the spotlight-shifting rule, you cannot and should not compare loss experiences—particularly those that are simply incomparable.

Reason #3

You are you

As stated earlier, I will never, ever look another widow in the eye and say, “I know how you feel,” even if that widow lost her husband to the same illness as the one that claimed my husband’s life. I will never look at someone who has lost their father and say, “I know how you feel,” even if they lost their father. You really can’t compare apples to oranges (…or one situation to another situation)to cancer mere months after they lost their husband, as I did. I will never look at someone who had to euthanize a beloved pet and say, “I know how you feel,” even though, like so many, I too have taken part in this very sad good- bye process with our own furry family members. I have had every single one of these experiences (and then some), yet I refuse to utter that phrase. Why?

Because I am not the other person who is sharing their life challenge or loss experience. I am me. I am individual. I am unique.

(…And the world breathes a collective sigh of relief.)

If I am unique, it then follows that everything surrounding my experiences is unique. Even if I have lost a loved one, a job, a relationship or anything else in what appears to be the exact same manner as another person, the fact is that my circumstances, the people who surround me, my reactions and my relationships to what has been lost or challenged are each unique. So how can anyone else know how I feel? How can I know how someone else feels during their time of loss, when their own loss experience is unique and individual to them?

It’s impossible.

~

Order the book here!