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I’ve been away and working on my novel and books, however, a reflection I read the other day during my morning prayers struck me with it’s profound message and I wanted to share.  It was written by Elizabeth Duffy and published in Living Faith, August 12, 2015.  The gist of it is this:

When someone hurts us, we often react with indignation, and our pride is wounded.  We want to assert our human dignity and may carry anger and resentment as badges of honor.  But this baggage hurts us so we must forgive.

Making peace is not retaliating in kind.  It is not shaming, not trying to mold the other person to our own image, not demanding perfect contrition.  It is rather an opportunity for reconciliation and mercy, gentleness and peace.  As we have been forgiven by a merciful God in spite of our own unworthiness, we too must forgive without strings attached.  We are all imperfect.  We all hurt and sin.  We all need forgiveness and reconciliation.

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Over the years I have read the same saying from various religious faiths,  cultural beliefs, and philosophies, namely, that “we become that which we think”.  In other words, the beliefs and accompanying feelings that we hold true and “feed”, tend to grow and spread.  If we are full of hate, anger, jealousy, pride, judgment, and disgust we will continue to “find” things, people or events to grow and prove these feelings.  When we focus on negative and/or destructive things, they gain strength and will eventually crowd out other beliefs and feelings that are more positive, empowering, and nourishing.   Slowly but surely we get sucked into the same behaviors that we originally were opposing.  We are appalled at the destructiveness of a terrorist and then we find ourselves responding with hate and violence too.  We must respond to evil with good, to hate with love, to violence with kindness, to intolerance with tolerance, and so on.  This is not to say that evil doesn’t exist or that we turn a blind eye to it.  But it does mean that we do not become a part of it and do not feed it.

Changing our thinking and behaving isn’t easy, but it is possible.  We can begin to accept the humanness of people and to try and find the good in them.  We can reach out into the world with love and compassion and we will find the same.  It takes a commitment to an attitude adjustment and then to a behavior change.  Good branches bear good fruit.  It sounds trite, but it isn’t.  Feed that which you want to get in return.  Be the change you want to see in the world.  All spiritual thinkers and writers have known this for thousands of years.

Consider the Prayer of St. Francis and make a decision to be a force for good and healing  in the world :

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;where there is hatred, let me sow love;where there is injury, pardon;where there is doubt, faith;where there is despair, hope;where there is darkness, light;and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;to be understood, as to understand;to be loved, as to love;for it is in giving that we receive,it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.  Amen

So it is in dying to self-serving interests, judgment, violence, hate, anger, greed, pride and all other destructive thoughts and behaviors that we are truly born again into Life, a life of peace, purpose, healing, love, compassion, service, and happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  I pray for the  healing of all divisions that threaten to tear our families, communities and beloved country apart.  Lets all be a part of the healing not part of the destructiveness.  Each one of us can make a difference.  I pray that you will be blessed with love and peace this holiday season and all through the year.



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ODE TO MY IPHONE: random thoughts about our seeming obsession with our phones.

You remind me of a needy child, always following me around, attached to my hip, and begging for attention with your swooshes, beeps and bells.

I lay you down and try to leave you alone so I can let my ears and senses rest, but soon the pull on my heart and mind draw me back for more.  What’s happened while I was away?  Did you call out to me?

So I come back, all ready for more.  Maybe I’m the one who is needy – for the affirmation that there is someone out there who wants me to play, talk, and to connect.

**A happy and peaceful Thanksgiving.  Let’s unplug and connect in the good old fashioned way this year.  Blessings to all.  NDR

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“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” Matthew 22:37-39.  “If you judge people, you have no time to love them,” Mother Teresa.  “All you need is love,” John Lennon.  It may sound trite, but it is true!  Love does no harm to self or others.  Lately it seems to me that we are spending too much time judging and too little time loving.   Judging comes from ignorance, hurt, or fear and is antithetical to Love.  It is destructive of self and others and there is too much destruction in the world.

How can we move from a state of ignorance, hurt or fear?   It isn’t easy, but it can be done.  We can be transformed and in turn be happier.

1. Desire to Love.  Choose to think and change – Make a conscious choice to think and behave in a different way even if it is initially an act.  Step out in faith and it will become reality, a positive habit.

2.  Act – Take an action to do something differently – give to a person in need, volunteer to help someone, forgive or pray for another, clean up your “side of the street”, reach out to connect personally with another, get to know someone who is different than you,  pray to God, the Universe, or a Higher Power for self-healing and forgiveness, etc.  Do a little at a time and soon it will change the way you think and act.  Have no fear…what have you got to lose?

3.  Repeat – do these things until they become a habit, become a part of you.  It will change your life.

4.  Self-examine –   Ask yourself questions and honestly answer: What am I afraid of?  Where did my hurt come from?  Why am I threatened by others who are different?  What good comes from my judging, anger, fear, hate, hurt, etc?  Who do I need to forgive?  Why do I hold onto old beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve me?

5.  Let Go – Release negative, hurtful emotions to your Higher Power and trust you will get relief and healing.  Release old behaviors and beliefs and replace with new, positive ones.

6.  Be Open – Be alert to the people, events, and things that come into your life and touch you in positive ways.  They are gifts.  Be grateful.  Expect good things.  “What goes around comes around.”  “You reap what you sow.”  “Give and you shall receive.”

7.  Repeat – This is a life-long process.  Be patient, gentle and loving to yourself.  Trust and be transformed.  LOVE IS AN ACTION VERB.  Peace, Joy and Love.  Dr. Aquarius

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Creative Writing Fun

Todays words:  worship, fast, lazy, produce, symphony, finger.

My creation:

Unlike the beautiful music of the SYMPHONY, the grocery store’s loud speakers played a mixture of elevator music and new hip hop tunes that went from boring to jarring in a matter of minutes.  I drew a LAZY FINGER slowly over some PRODUCE checking for ripeness. Around me shoppers moved by FAST in a near WORSHIP of commerce.  I focused back on the pears, inhaling their sweetness and quieting my mind.  The End.

Would love to see your creative endeavors with these six words.  Peace, Joy and Love.

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Yesterday I saw 5 eggplants floating on Lake Michigan’s shoreline north of Chicago.  As I watched them ride the current I thought how peculiar.   Where had they come from? How far had they traveled?  Where will they end up?  Eventually, two traveled north and disappeared out of sight.  Three floated on another current and surprised people on an adjacent beach.  The event reminded me of life.

Lake Michigan is the world and we are the eggplants.  We are taken on individual journeys and in different directions by unknown currents or circumstances that we may or may not have chosen consciously.  Sometimes we travel together to keep each other company and give support, and sometimes we go it alone.  We may float aimlessly or land on firm ground bringing a surprise of joy and pleasure to others.  Either way, we touch people’s lives in ways we can’t even imagine.

If we land we might be of use to someone else – feeding their lives.  If we drift aimlessly we may wither and die and all evidence of our existence sinks away.

Eggplants on Lake Michigan – what a fun, surprising gift that sparks our imagination, fuels our curiosity and leaves fond memories behind to share.

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Stagnant Ponds

Stagnant:  not growing or changing;  not circulating or flowing.  When something or someone stops growing they begin to die.

Minds and hearts are like ponds.  If they are open, growing, and circulating with new information and experiences, they thrive and nurture other life.  But if they are closed off to new thoughts, new experiences, and new relationships, they decay, and become stagnant, thereby sustaining no life.  If we are rigid and fearful of change and new possibilities we die to love, compassion, empathy, and truth.  NDR ’14



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Creative Writing Exercise – Just for fun!

RANDOM WORDS FOR THE DAY:  shadow, gone, eternity, friend, garden, beat.  Use these words in a story, fable, etc.  Share yours if you want.

My example:

A SHADOW of depression hung over me.  My FRIEND and fellow soldier killed in a senseless war, a war that was started on a lie and kept going long after there was any logical reason. Destruction everywhere, and now my FRIEND was GONE for all ETERNITY.

When I got back home I decided never again would I lift a sword or weapon against another. I was going to “BEAT my sword into a plowshare” and bring life to the Earth, not death.  The Friendship GARDEN was the result of my efforts and those of the community.  It has brought people together in a common goal, and with a common enemy – the weeds!  We feed and nurture others instead of destroying.  Finally my soul and spirit are healing.  The End.

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END THE MADNESS by Nancy D. Rossow, Ph.D., LSSP, NCSP

For the “Christmas in July” theme that seems to be upon us in the commercial world, I repost the following essay from Christmastime, 2012.  Sadly it still remains relevant today. I wonder if we have learned anything.

**12/2012  I sat down to write a cheerful Christmas season blog and couldn’t.  Instead I am writing a piece that addresses the recent school massacre in Connecticut.  This isn’t just another opinion, nor just a plea from a distraught parent, but it is a research and experience-based essay that I hope will inform and persuade action.

My credentials are numerous – a mother, step-mother, licensed school psychologist and public health educator, former school teacher, bible-reading, church-going Catholic, Independent voter, whose doctoral research was on the social-emotional development of children.  For over 30 years I have worked with adolescents and children with every type of problem, dysfunctional family systems, parents wanting to improve their parenting, teachers, administrators,  anti-bullying experts, mental health professionals, and clergy.

The problem of violence in our society and world is not a single-issue, single-cause problem, and it will take a multi-prong approach to solving it.  I’m going to take the issues one at a time:

*Violence begets violence; hate begets hate and so on…:  Long-term exposure to violence in video games, media, within homes and among different groups of people such as in war-torn countries contributes to an increase in violent behavior.  It tends to desensitize a person and contributes to insensitivity to the pain of others.  When societies model war as a solution to differences and problems, they send the message that violence toward others is acceptable.  We tend to glorify war and hold up fighting and killing as a symbol of strength.  We need to re-think this and bring civility, collaboration etc back into favor.

*Self-rightousness:  “My way or the highway.”  “I’m right, you’re wrong.”  These are absolute, grandiose statements that may contribute to the mentality that I am better than you are…you are worth less than I am…we’re not in this together…you’re different and different is bad…only my rights are important…  This type of thinking, of categorizing “others” through prejudice and intolerance can set the stage for future violent events or at the least indifference toward the suffering of others who are different.  Bullying occurs in  homes, schools, churches, workplaces – no place is immune to it’s destructive impact.

*Fear:  Fear corrupts.  It can drive a person to acts in ways they might not normally behave.  The fear of not having enough  can lead to greed.  The fear of differences can lead to prejudice and hate.  Many times, groups who claim to have the strongest religious beliefs can appear to be the most fearful and less tolerant.   Fear of rejection, loss of esteem…I could go on and on.  Fear is contagious and multiplies when like-minded individuals get together and feed off each other.  This can occur at the local level as well as at the societal level.  One doesn’t need to go much further than the examples of ethnic cleansing in numerous countries throughout history.

*Disrespect:  Sadly, at the highest levels of government and institutions, the level of disrespect for the dignity of others, opinions of others, differences of others, etc… are often modeled.  We seem to have lost our ability to be respectful, kind, generous, thoughtful, charitable, understanding, etc.  If our leaders are incapable of compromise and working together for the good of all, then the great Judeo-Christian values that we espouse verbally, are no more than hot air.  Some reality shows on TV depict back-stabbing, cheating, deceit,  lying, etc as those behaviors and virtues that are encouraged and judged worthy.  Politicians and others in the public eye use slurs, violent sayings, and other destructive comments to further their cause while depicting their opponents as evil and “less than.”  Is this the message we want to send?  If a person has no empathy for others – that person is deemed a sociopath.  Do we want to raise more sociopaths?

*Parenting:  I am an optimist.  I believe in the goodness of people and I believe after all my years of working with families that most parents are trying to be the best parents they can be.  But just wishing and trying doesn’t make it so.  We have neglected parents…have not provided them with the education and support they need to “get it right.”  We train people to be plumbers, accountants, athletes, teachers, doctors etc…but we fail to provide the rudimentary training and help that parents need.  Biology makes a person a mother or father, but it doesn’t guarantee that person will be a good parent.  Researchers have known for years that what is important is the “goodness of fit” between parent and child.  Children have different personalities, needs, styles of interacting, etc… and a parent may need help meeting those needs.  In our society too many men especially walk away from their responsibility as parents and we do not seem to care or realize the devastating impact on the children.  Domestic violence is real and children who are abused often grow up to be abusers.  What may be seen as harsh punishment by one child may work with another will no ill effects.  It has been shown, however, that emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse at the hands of a parent figure is highly correlated to aggressive, suicidal, and anti-social behavior in children.  Let’s help our parents.

*Mental Health:  The stigma of mental health problems is finally being addressed, although for some it still is something to be ashamed of and to hide.  As a society we have not given priority to the mental health needs of individuals.  When mental health facilities closed their doors years ago, the mentally ill did not successfully negotiate integration into society…many are homeless, underemployed, ill and addicted.  We send our young men and women into harms way in war-torn countries and then ignore their serious mental health problems when they come home.  We cannot expect to expose others to violence and destruction with no resulting psychological problems.

*Guns and gun control:  Stricter access to guns and bullets, especially those not associated with hunting, makes sense as we already limit access to the use of automobiles, and dangerous equipment.  Regulations will not prevent the collector or hunter from pursuing their passion.  Nor will they infringe on 2nd  Amendment rights.

*Tougher enforcement of laws and stricter treatment of criminals who use guns:  While  few would argue that criminals need to be held accountable, only focusing on criminals, as though that is the solution, is short-sighted.  A person becomes a criminal after a  crime is committed.  PREVENTION is far better than reaction after the fact.  We do this in disease prevention, and violence should be treated like a public health problem.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here.  If you think that something needs to be done to stem this madness, to end the violence, share this with others and take action yourself.  There are many groups dedicated to stopping the violence.  We need to unite in one voice and demand that all facets of the issue be addressed.  We need to respect the rights of all – and we can do that while ending the madness.

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