Angels Among Us

Angels Among Us
Image result for angelsIt is a little more than two weeks before Valentine's Day, a day which many people may find a bit stressful, but by the time one is well into their 60's or 70s, it becomes less so. We elders do not have to worry who will send us flowers, take us to dinner, or provide some chocolates demonstrating we are indeed loved. The theme of the day is love, but it is a time I like to think of others who are filled with love and those who make this a better world in which to live.

I would like to honor and share the extraordinary lives of four women whom I have had the privilege of knowing the past few years. They are not well known, paid well, or even acknowledged publicly for their endeavors, but their loving ways have not gone unnoticed. They are indeed the angels among us.

I woke up this morning with all four on my mind. I don't know how that happened. I haven't seen all of them in the past week, but I have felt their positive impact.

Let's call up the first amazing woman. She is Native American and filled with grace not only for her own family, but for other individuals who do not have the security of their own family. She embraces her children's friends and anyone else needing a place to be loved. She "adopted" an extraordinary young man and absolutely changed his life. She went out of her way to provide a celebration for an elder's 70th birthday. She gives and gives and gives with no thought of what she should get. This most selfless woman is the epitome of an angel among us. The world is a better place because of her. She is a very spiritual woman and I am grateful to call her friend.

The second woman who has made a deep impact on my life is a young woman who has had no children, but in her 40's, found a family that direly needed a mom. She has tirelessly adopted the role of mom to several teens and their dad. At first glance, one would think this woman has had lengthy experiences parenting teens. She is kind, loving, and patient - qualities one would only expect at such a level in angels. She goes above and beyond leading this family of lost souls. Her life is a model of what a mother should be. The family is beginning to thrive because of her tireless efforts. I am honored to know this young woman who is devoted to her church. She is indeed an angel among us.

Another woman is a neighbor with whom I've had a long and loving relationship. We may not see each other for months and, yet, if I needed her or she needed me, we could connect at the same level as before. This woman is a mother of ten, yet calls many more young adults her children. She is relentless in praising the Lord and inviting others into his kingdom. Her energy rivals that of the energizer bunny. She is constantly learning and spreading her positive message. Now she is even spreading her message of love through the air waves. She provides for people's temporal needs as well as their spiritual needs. It is a distinct honor to call her friend, another angel among us.

Lastly, but not least by any means, is a young Hispanic woman who is blessed with faith. Faith in her family. Faith in her church. Faith in the world. This young woman also extends her motherly bond to children not born to her. She encourages, praises, and disciplines others in order to help them begin to want success - education, spirituality, and not necessarily in that order. Her vibrant personality embraces the world and tries to make sense of it. She is passionate, sensitive, and hard working. I am proud to call this angel among us, friend as well.

All four of these women work so hard, not only at day jobs, but as leaders in their families. I really don't know the husbands well, but if I did, I would tell them to shower their ladies with love and appreciation. Tell them how proud you are to be their husband. I am so humbled by these women and grateful that they are part of the world and that I am a small part of their lives.

Happy Valentine's month to all of you. May you go out and find the good in others. May you inspire others with your gentleness and leadership. May you find serenity in all you do every waking  moment of your life. It would be appropriate for you to share thoughts of other angels among us in your comments....

Modern day shunning, shaming, and shouting....

The Lord speaks of peace
  to his people.

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

For those of you who are practicing Catholics, you will hear those words in this coming Sunday's gospel. It speaks to us today, just as it did centuries ago to the peoples of the earth.

We hear a lot of talk lately about bullying, particularly in the schools. Less discussed is the subject of painful interactions among adults. I'm not going to even go down the path of political hate speech and the depths of ignorance, spite, and hurt permeating the world political culture today, especially in the United States; however, I am going to zero in on to the most basic groups - families, churches, and workplaces. A growing trend is modern day shunning.

Yesterday a young woman told me that because she chose to marry outside her religion/culture, her own mother has been, in fact, shunning her. The good news is that this mom is slowly coming around to accepting her daughter's decision to pick her own husband. What exactly does shunning look like? Have you ever shunned someone or even been shunned?

The dictionary definition of shunning is to:
avoidevade, steer clear of, shy away from, keep one's distance fromhave nothing to do with; snub, give someone the cold shoulder, ignore, look right through; reject, rebuff, spurn, 

You'd better believe....

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For some time now, I've argued with my inner demon about the reality of a heaven and hell and a God above who created all this mess. As a cradle Catholic, this has been more than disconcerting. But, in my defense, I want to believe. I want to with all my heart, but evil resides within all of us, hopefully, in balance with goodness, but sometimes the evil seems the reality. 

As a therapist, I try to help others battle their inner demons - be it anxiety, depression, or some other mental crisis that prohibits that person from living a joyous life - or even one void of negativity. Enter family. Yes, family can present us with our greatest joy, as well as our deepest hurt. We must overcome. We must strive to treat our own flesh and blood as we would our clients, our patients, our students, our neighbors. In other words, most of us take our family for granted and bestow expectations on them that we would never think of laying on others.

Today was one of those inexplicable days when the Holy Spirit did her thing despite my frailties. When a new client failed to show up for our session, I began to explore my seldom-used laptop and found articles I'd written more than five years ago. I emailed my daughter-in-law one long lost article I wrote about my perception of daughter-in-laws - this was way before she entered our family.

Since I am privileged to use the meeting rooms at the Broadway Coffee House on the 2nd floor until I get a new office (that's another story for another time), a new group was waiting to come in. I asked what they did and their answer floored me. They said they met daily at 3 pm to PRAY for Portland. Living in Salem, I could understand that, but I mentioned that Salem needed prayers as well. We got to talking a bit and they asked if they could pray for me. Oh, my goodness! Of course. I will humbly accept the prayers of any and all. One lady got up, came over to me and began to hug me. Okay....The gentleman sitting near me grabbed my hand and began to pray. I got the impression they might be charismatic, as they weren't all praying the same words together. That's okay by me.

When they were finished, I was crying. Bob, the one holding my hand, handed me a book and I asked what I owed him and he said nothing. "Just read it and share with a friend." I was overwhelmed. I uttered words of thanks and left quickly. The book is Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge. Now I don't know Bob Sorge, but I like his style. I drove to Great Harvest, got some spendy bread and then on to Jamba Juice for a healthy cooler (each one was $8.99 - not an every day expense, mind you). Then I drove to my sister's house. She was low key and mildly uninterested. I tried to fuse my enthusiasm to her persona with little success. I came home and thought about sharing with you all. Perhaps my sister was touched. Maybe not. But I surely hope so. I just wanted to share that moment of complete love and peace with someone.

Evidently this Bob guy has been a pastor for twenty-some years and is not able to speak due to a vocal injury, so he writes books - many of them and has a ministry aptly called The Oasis. You go, Bob! Your followers are truly kind humans who love humanity. At least that is what I witnessed in a small upper room of a beautiful coffee shop on a beautiful summer afternoon in Oregon.
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Image result for sorrowful womanIt was a gray, cold Easter morning and she sat at her desk, tears running down her cheeks. Her mama had always told her she would regret not marrying someone of her faith. But what did Mama know? SHE had married someone of her faith and he never went to church, so what was the difference? 
Years had passed and she had several children. The boys and girls were good children and made both of them proud. The children, however, grew up and drifted from their faith. Their new families did not embrace the same beliefs. She sat and listened to inspirational songs. Meanwhile, the tears slowly fell down her cheeks. Was she going to sit there and allow her loneliness to envelop her once again? Would she feel like a victim for the ten thousandth time? 
She surveyed the room and began to feel immense guilt that she was thinking about herself. She had many things others did not. She even had a spouse where others did not. Deep breath, silent prayer, and she readied herself for Mass. Alone. Again. But this time would be different. She would pray for the negatives in her life. She would pray that she could find goodness and truth in them. She would not cave to the depressive cloud that threatened to envelop her. She would smile and go on with life.
She was alive. They were alive. Christ had risen from the dead to save HER and all others. Why would she lament the day that was not the picture perfect image she had once had of life? She began slowly to accept reality. It is what it is. Do what you can. Do what you will. Her refrain was to make the best of a not-so-perfect life.
And, that taught me today that she is a survivor. She is a child of God and He loves her. She just needs to believe. Blessings to her and all of you who read this. You are worthy. You are good. You can lift your soul up to the heavens and rejoice. Goodness abides in this world despite the media and the songs that threaten to push us further into the abyss of self pity.
Rise up! Praise the heavens and embrace the day ahead! Happy Easter!Image result for happy easter

Healing Hugs

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We peoples of the earth are all searching for one thing in common - inner peace. Without that, life can be extremely daunting and, at times, downright stressful. At my tender old age, I am revising my old tapes of thought and incorporating new strategies to achieve what ancients called Nirvana. Can Nirvana be found on earth?

We want to be pain free - both emotionally and physically, or at least, diminish the quantity of pain we experience. As I sit here at my computer attempting to share some new to me techniques that really work, I want to describe what technique I am using. I am plugged into this small electrical (run by batteries) device that stimulates my alpha waves in the brain, which means I am increasing wellness throughout my body. I am also told that those delta waves are decreased. I am a novice. I am not a scientist, but I am an avid learner. Therapists today have options to dispense prescriptions and use technologies most are just beginning to use. The Alpha Stim is the one I am testing. So far, I feel a little prickly on the site of the connection to my ear lobe. It does not hurt, but is more like a little tapping. I feel light. I am comfortable. I translate that to mean I am relaxed.

In this harried world of to do's, my only to do right now seems to relax and share with someone - anyone - 'cause what makes me happy is to help others learn to find their happiness. Maybe it's not happiness I'm feeling, but more of a lack of stress. A balance. A feeling that life at this moment is good and comfortable.

I've used this device three times and each time have learned that it works. It does relax me and it does allow me to think clearly. Well, you be the judge of that. Has my writing been clear?

If we can just manage to slow down and enjoy the moment, surely we are then able to focus and be more efficient. I will be sharing this technique in my office now. I will also share with you somatic healing and brain spotting - techniques that are natural, physiological, and healing for the body. Learning so much more about the body enables me to increase my satisfaction with life quotient, and, hopefully, will allow me to help you embrace that same philosophy.

Until we meet, happy hugs to you!


Where do we begin? Where do we end? What does it all matter? As I sit in my warm, comfy office with a full stomach and no real problems to complain about, I wonder about the state of our journey. What is important and how do we communicate that to others, or do we? Are we lost multi-tasking so that we can't focus on one thing for more than a few seconds? Lately, I've begun to see that the flooding of thoughts that enter my mind crowds out any meaningful discourse I might have with myself, not to mention my interaction with others, and impedes fulfillment of tasks that need (or at least I thought they were a necessity) to be completed. I need to sort out what is going on - this unrest. This unsettling thought that perhaps it's all for naught....

Many of you have shared with me that you, too, feel this dark cloud of gloominess. Indeed it is the mid of winter. Rain, dark clouds, and the absence of sunshine for more than a few minutes might explain part of our discomfort. Another reason (as if we ever need a reason to be anxious and/or depressed - it comes quite naturally to a lot of us) might be the social media flooding of negativity. Avoiding that is not as difficult as I anticipated. I learned a few new to me FB tricks - hide post, unfollow...easy enough to do.

I'm reading as much as I am able, trying to balance my emotions. Trying to understand and trying to be more productive. I've done those self talk conversations.

What works for you? Is your mind your friend or foe? We are all seeking validation. Growing up, I was always uplifted by my dear mother. She thought I was amazing. She constantly praised me, as did her mother, my Oma. Then I met many a naysayer. If I cooked a great meal, they would say, "It's ok. It's just food." It can be in others' repertoire and family background to point out frailties and faults. Doing good? That's what we are supposed to do. Why praise someone? A paradigm shift, for sure, was due me. I needed to figure out how to validate myself. I did so by trying to be the best in my field. Always struggling to do my best....

When is it enough? Or is it ever for some of us? I have no easy answers today. I have many questions. . . .
Image result for questionsWhat are your questions? Do you have any answers?

Politics and Kids - STOP Scaring our Children!

The other day I had a conversation with a young child. She was drawing a bright and sunny landscape. When I asked  her how she was feeling, she said she was scared. Not what I expected from what she drew. I asked her to tell me more, and she replied, "The world is so sad and gloomy." Really? "Yeah, my mom and dad say the world is going to end soon and I'm so scared."

Turns out the parents had been Trump bashing and the child's world imploded with fear and uncertainty. Children should NOT be part of those adult conversations. This type of exposure makes children feel unsafe and becomes part of the thread of trauma that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, if, indeed they live a long life. Even adults have become sodden with tension, anxiety, and depression about the state of affairs of the world. This is on both sides - liberals and conservatives. And it must be stopped! Common sense needs to make its arrival on the scene immediately!

Common sense used to be more evident in our lives in the past. Yes, people griped about the leaders, no matter what their political affiliation. Something went wrong in their lives and folks blamed the government. Makes me kind of smile. I remember the hate and venom spewed towards Ronald Reagan, but today, one would think he was a minor god. Yes, I was a teen when I heard these things, but, as a small child, my world only consisted of my home, my neighborhood, church, and school. I wasn't made afraid until high school, when I, too, thought the world might end during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Being afraid became part of my psyche as we practiced nuclear war drills in my school - sitting under a desk was certainly not going to save any of us and I knew it. I prayed for a bomb shelter in my back yard....

Fast forward to the 2016 election and many of us will remember this as a pivotal time when, as adults, we were afraid. Afraid to speak. Afraid to say what we felt. Afraid we would be labeled something perverse. Afraid of being afraid. How did I diminish my fear?

  • I deleted as many political posts on my Facebook age.
  • I stayed away from Twitter.
  • I didn't even go on Instagram.
  • I dropped out of groups where grown women used negative & punitive political language at small, intimate dinners and mocked other women not of their political persuasion.
  • I stopped reading the newspaper.
  • I stopped listening to the news.
  • I let folks know I did not want to hear any of it.
Image result for bright and sunny landscapeAnd, so now am I feeling better? You betcha. If the world is gonna end soon, I will go happily. My life is filled with good things. I am helping immigrant children learn English. I am helping them understand concepts they thought were indecipherable. I am slowly adding back friends I shunned for a while, and I am filling my life with positivity. Don't knock it. It works for me. I wish it would work for many others. Life is simply too short to spend it in a shroud of negativity. 

Take out your art supplies and draw that bright and sunny landscape and, then, better yet, live in that world. It's your choice.