Way back when my daughters were in elementary school, more than 30 years ago, I noticed a difference in the way one of my husband’s uncles and one of my uncles treated the children in our families. My uncle, Ray, paid attention to what children said. He really listened. You could tell by the questions he asked. He also genuinely enjoyed playing board games and engaging in contests with them. He watched as they did magic tricks, twirled a baton, and performed other skills they were learning. My husband’s uncle, Spike, did not relate as well to children. In fact, sometimes he was dismissive and gruff toward them. So I judged him in this regard as “not good enough.”
One summer day we had a serious plumbing problem in our home. The basement in our century-old Victorian farmhouse was filling with sewage back-up. As soon as he heard about it, Uncle Spike showed up in hip boots, prepared to help drain and clean the basement. He showed no reluctance or reservation about dealing with the mess and the stench. Again, I compared the uncles. What I saw led me closer to accepting and appreciating people as they are. While my Uncle Ray was great with kids, he could not fix a thing and he would not have been willing to enter that basement and try. The memory of Uncle Spike in his hip boots reminds me that we all have different personalities and skill sets. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We’re all doing our best. And we’re all still learning.
I included this story in Touchstones: Stories for Living The Twelve Gifts, which was published in 2012. I’m posting it here and now, in part, because my Aunt Angie, my last relative from my parents’ generation, died last month. I almost didn’t go to the funeral because it required a lot of travel. But when I thought of all the love and lasting life lessons I received from her and from all the aunts, uncles, and grandparents in both my family and my husband’s–as well as from our parents–I knew I had to attend to honor them all and to be with all my cousins as we step up to be the elder generation. I hope that the way I live my life leaves some lasting life lessons on the children in the generations coming up behind us, especially the lesson to love and appreciate one another without comparisons and judgments. I also want them to know that the practice of this principle should not be limited to family, nor to just family and friends. It’s a wise and powerful lesson for all to be applied to all.
“Walk like a lion, talk like pigeons, live like elephants, and love like an infant child.” ~ Santosh Kalwar
“Be fearless,” the quote begins.
Breath and bring out the best of you,
It’s easy to picture walking like a lion:
proudly, with confident grace.
I understand loving like an infant child
and laughing with joy like a toddler,
An elephant? She too loves in a way that’s good to follow,
quite like the child but more deeply than freely.
Remember well; forgive easily;
and stick together the women and children do.
I’m familiar with pidgin talk but not pigeon talk.
I’ve heard them coo and sort of warble.
I’ve heard they can carry and deliver messages.
That’s a valuable thing too.
There’s strength and beauty in all creation.
And it’s smart for us to look for it,
and wise for us to see it
in ourselves and all others.
When fear is present,
take deep breaths,
and be you.
Know that you have all that you need.
Just Published, available now as an e-book from Amazon at .99
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Want to enrich your life with more beauty?
Sweeten it with deeper love?
Soften it with kinder compassion?
Brighten it with higher joy?
Refresh it with renewed hope?
Empower it with boosted courage?
Start each day by opening these natural gifts in you with the help of a message from Today’s Touchstone. Like a miniature box of chocolates, this exquisite little book offers a sampling of Today’s Touchstone messages for you to try. Read a few. Then a few more. Get a taste of them. Notice how you feel.
“It’s like a box of sampler chocolates. Delicious!”
This book is dedicated to my readers. Thank you for your comments, questions, personal stories, smiley faces and more. I love hearing from you.
If you’re not yet a reader or familiar with THE TWELVE GIFTS, I published this with you in my mind and heart too.
I hope you will treat yourself to this new book and enjoy the samples so much that you’ll want to receive the full assortment. One freshly-made message is sent each morning at dawn. Each Today’s Touchstone is intended to enrich the day of all who receive it by touching upon one of the 12 gifts celebrated in The Twelve Gifts of Birth and by nurturing that gift in each reader. The day’s featured gift might be strength. It could be courage or compassion. Joy is often celebrated. Some days the focus is faith. Talent, imagination, reverence and wisdom are all highlighted at times. Whatever gift is showcased, each Today’s Touchstone message is life-affirming and nourishing for the mind, heart and soul.
To all… May you recognize your gifts and help others to see theirs.
“Promise me you’ll always remember:
you’re braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think,”
said Christopher Robin
to his best friend, Pooh.
I now wish
to say the same thing to you.
You’re also more beautiful
than you know
and more talented too.
You’re all this and more.
If only you knew,
you’d feel light, bright, and shiny
like a penny brand new.
May the love in your heart
help you know
this message is honest
and really true.
I believe, do you?
“I find that the very things that I get criticized for, which is usually being different and just doing my own thing and just being original, is the very thing that’s making me successful.” – Shania Twain
It takes courage to be ourselves. Self-love and respect too.
Along with a likelihood of leading us to success, being authentic can lead us to better health and more happiness.
For these and other reasons, let’s summon courage, love and reverence today and allow our true selves to show up in all that we do. Let’s encourage authenticity in others too.
Surely there will be greater hope for peace in our world when we recognize the beauty of everyone’s uniqueness.
Holding hope and faith,
“You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on Earth by the Master Craftsman.”
– Max Lucado
You are a gift to the world. Please believe this. If that seems hard, stretch toward this. Make room for the possibility. Aim to believe and feel the truth of this as best you can. Value yourself. Your gifts and talents. Your unique appearance. Your personality. Your dreams. Your life experiences. Your lessons learned and lessons yet to be learned. All that makes you YOU.
Today, let’s say “Thank you!” to the Master Craftsman for the gift of our beauty-full beings.
PS – Even worse than thinking one is an “accident,” is being told, “You were a mistake.” Some children actually hear that. No wonder they feel unworthy. Let’s send waves of love around the world. Imagine every hurting child washed by those waves.
“The sixth gift is Joy. May it keep your heart open and filled with light.” – from The Twelve Gifts of Birth
I find that sincere gratitude always opens my heart to the joy that is naturally there. The blossom of joy that follows gratitude may or may not bloom into happiness. Happiness, of course, follows more readily when our hearts are not covered with a protective layer due to deep hurt, sadness, fear, grief or worry. In such times, we may feel as if we will never feel happy again.
But even at the dark and heavy times in my life, when I allowed authentic gratefulness for something–anything–to bubble up from my heart, some joy seeped through with it and gave me a small yet pleasant uplift.
Sometimes joy is like the Rose Bowl Parade of floral floats and marching bands. Other times joy is like a gentle, fragrant breeze on a summer night, barely there, so subtle one might not even notice it. Ahh. But when we do, that little petal of joy is soothing and sweet.
I am recalling times when I was seriously ill or heartbroken. I found that if I sat still, slowed and deepened my breath, and stayed in the present moment, some appreciation always emerged. It might have been for the color of my bedroom walls, or that my digestive system had worked easily, or that my back felt comfortably supported by the pillows behind me. Or, I noticed beauty in something in the room or in nature, outside the window. Or… the possibilities are endless.
I am offering this because I know that among us, always, there are people we know or friends we haven’t yet met who are experiencing one of those dark and heavy times. In particular, a comment to a post on one of my Facebook pages prompted this writing at this time. I think we’ve all known times when inspirational messages and encouraging suggestions might seem like well-meaning but empty platitudes.
I suspect we’ve also experienced at least one time when the energy of someone’s robust joy felt painful upon our fragile state of being. Bright light joy upon a hurting heart can be like driving into the late afternoon sun in Arizona. It’s so blinding that you have to shut your eyes, look away, or turn to another direction. Have you ever felt like that?
At fragile times, I believe that loving acceptance, along with compassionate kindness and reverent listening to understand, is the most wise and caring thing we can offer to one another. Although, I admit that sometimes I have offered advice instead of giving the gift of simply being there. But we live and we learn, yes?
What’s your experience? Both on the giving and the receiving side? And with joy itself?