Hope, Life, Love, Moments, Relationships

Happy Valentine’s Day

It has been a long time since there has been a true Valentine in my life and this morning’s Sunday Paper, by Maria Shriver, hit all the notes, sentiments and thoughts that I am sure many of us are feeling and I thought I would share her piece on love.

Rest In Love

By Maria Shriver

Does hearing that make you smile, or does it make you weep? Are you looking forward to today, or are you mad that you aren’t where you want to be when it comes to love? If your answer is the latter, let’s take a walk (not a real one, of course, although I’d love that). Let’s take a moment to simply connect and be.

After all, that’s what love is really all about. It’s about being wholly yourself with another human and feeling loved for who you are. It’s not about a fancy dinner, a piece of jewelry, flowers, sex, or chocolates. Don’t get me wrong, those things are great, but they don’t define love on their own.

Love is deep. It’s varied. It’s complex and yet also simple. It’s romantic but also platonic. It can fill your heart up, and it can break it into a thousand little pieces.

I’ve learned a lot about love over the years—what it is and isn’t—and much of what I’ve learned has come from a painful place. That said, it’s all helped me get to a more loving space in my life.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Love is about acceptance. It’s not about changing someone to fit your needs.

Love is about feeling fully seen and understood. It’s also about loving yourself deeply and wholly first. Don’t try to alter yourself to gain love. It doesn’t work.

I wish I’d known about all the different love languages (they are really important and useful). I wish I’d known that every single person speaks love differently and needs something different from you. Challenge yourself to learn the love language of the people in your life.

I wish I’d known the importance of clearing up and cleaning up your attachment issues before you unconsciously throw them onto someone who has no idea what they are responsible for.

I wish I’d known that love can go slow. It doesn’t have to be fast, exciting, or on the edge. As a friend once said to me, contentment is underrated.

I wish I’d known that some people simply want to rest in love. They just want to be, not do. Be courageous enough to rest with love.

I wish I’d known that a deep friendship and a deep love can go together. I wish I’d known that conflict was inevitable in love, and that learning how to argue effectively is an art form that can actually bring people together.

I wish I’d known that everyone has triggers, and everyone has trauma. Be informed about both, otherwise you are going to keep tripping on land mines.

To be good at love you have to be courageous enough to apologize. Ask for forgiveness. You have to make your relationship a priority. Get good at continuing to make it so.

And, if you come to find yourself feeling less than, gaslit, or scared, know that is not love. Value yourself enough to get up and go even if you don’t know where you are going. And if you are scared to leave for any reason, seek help.

I wish I’d been better prepared for the ups and downs of love and life. Actually, it turns out I was prepared. I just didn’t know it.

When it comes to love, I feel like I’ve learned a lot and like I’ve also learned nothing at alI. I feel like I’m really good at it, even though I’ve made mistakes. Today, my eyes are wide open to love. I see love in me that I never saw before. That makes me happy.

I also see it in people and places I never even noticed before. That makes me grateful. My heart, though bruised, is also wide open. Leonard Cohen wrote that the cracks are what allow the light to get in. I would add that the cracks are what allows the love to get in as well.

Not too long ago, I had a dream that had a profound impact on me. I was out in The Open Field. I was very much alive, and music was playing. I was happy. I was dressed like I was in high school, which is to say like a flower child. I was surrounded by people who have loved me, and even those who have broken my heart. I went to each person and thanked them for being there. I thanked them for loving me, supporting me, and teaching me what I needed to learn. I told them how grateful I was for the love and the lessons. To me, the fact that they were in my dream signaled that the love we shared was still there. It signaled that love had endured even though I didn’t think that it had.

I also took a moment to apologize to those who loved me that I couldn’t love back. I was struck by that; sometimes you can’t love someone who loves you, and sometimes someone you love can’t love you back. It’s usually for a whole bunch of reasons that have nothing to do with you. Remember that.

I’m sharing this with you now just in case you find yourself alone today. Just in case you find yourself dealing with a broken heart today. Just in case you don’t have a date tonight. (I don’t either, lol.)

You see, I believe that everyone who ever loved me, and who ever loved you, still does. That’s true regardless of whether they are still around or not. Their love lives on in you.

That’s the thing about love. The person who loved you may no longer be here. They may have broken your heart, ghosted you, or passed away. But the memory of how you felt when it was good, when your heart felt full, that’s yours. They can’t take that away. You can bring that forth any time you want. You can make your heart feel full even if they are no longer looking into your eyes.

And if you find yourself today still in the midst of a relationship that is challenging or traumatic, then give yourself extra love. If you want to leave, know that you have the strength to do so. Dig deep. You can find it. I know that when things are bad, it can be hard to see the way out. But get quiet and ask yourself what you need. Maybe it’s the courage to speak up, or maybe it’s help from someone else. Believe that you can get there. You can.

So on this day when the world is celebrating what feels like one kind of love, go easy and know that love doesn’t only come in one shape or size. If you don’t have a valentine, don’t despair. Be open today to other gestures of love. Let them in. If someone tells you today that you have made them feel loved—a friend, a child, whomever—let it land. That’s love too.

And if you are in love, if you have your person, count your blessings. Celebrate what you have and be gentle with it because love is so very fragile. It’s the greatest gift of all, and nothing else compares. That’s the truth.

Today, also be mindful of what you say to yourself. Be kind, be loving, and focus on filling your heart up. That’s not someone else’s job. It’s your own. Don’t worry about the cracks. Those that love the best have lots of cracks. Those that love the best have told me there’s no one big secret to enduring love. It’s just lots of little decisions and choices along the way that keep you in conversation, in connection, in commitment, in forgiveness, and in acceptance.

Know that you are worthy of being loved fully, wholly, and completely until the end of God’s time. Believe me, it’s true. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love,

Maria

So, this Valentine’s Day, I am grateful for every love that has passed through my life and I remain hopeful that the best is still yet to come in my life. And I hope we all find the courage to let love shine through the cracks of our lives.

Simply Deborah ❤️

Faith, Family, Hope, Legacy, Life, Love, Moments, Truth

A Legacy Filled With Truth and Hope

Today is the big day…65 and officially, a senior citizen and a Medicare recipient. It is a birthday where I had totally different thoughts on how I would celebrate it and my life. I had visions and dreams of an all-out disco birthday bash (DJ, big hair, ‘70’s attire and all) to eating, drinking, wandering, and maybe even falling in love, all while exploring every inch of Italy. But here I am, smack in the middle of a pandemic, with the rest of the world, and I find myself struggling with the number because the reality is, I most certainly have less time left here, than I have lived. And along with questioning, I also find myself reflecting on my legacy, and wondering what it may sound and look like, from the inside out.

They say everyone leaves behind a legacy after they die but only a few leave behind one worth talking about. No matter who you are, leaving behind a legacy is important. It is not a monetary one but one that is harder to define, and it certainly is far more important. I have thought long, and hard about my own legacy, and what it would really sound like, look like and feel like. What were some of the things I did, the places I went, my accomplishments, my failures, and my lasting words? Is my legacy filled with a lifetime of relationships, truths, values, and will they live on in the lives that I have touched? What mark did I leave that would help people in making decisions, and life choices on what to do and not do? What were some of my positive and selfless acts? What example have I been to behave in a good way, and to avoid making the mistakes I had made?

For me, I am even more driven by the urgent desire to find a larger meaning to my life. I find myself struggling, reflecting, reviewing, and thinking about ways of giving back. I also find myself assessing, and sorting through my past, and the contributions I have made, and the memories I will leave behind, and I still question, was it all enough? It is so easy to remember all of our mistakes and the less than desirable moments in our lives, and I am not sure I will ever know if my life was enough or if it left a lasting impression on the lives I did touch, but these are the truths I know for sure, along with my hopes.

I know I have loved hard and unconditionally. I know I made many mistakes, some twice and maybe even three times but I have learned something from each one of them. I know there have been many people, who have passed through my life for a reason, a season, and some for a lifetime. I am grateful for each one of them and what they may have taught me or what they have brought to my life. I learned that determination could chart your own course, it paves your own way, and there is nothing wrong with going it alone. I have learned in those times when you do feel all alone, it is important to recognize you have so much help around you, and all you have to do is ask for it. I have learned you can survive all of the cracks, struggles, and flaws of life with a strong faith and belief.

I hope that the good values instilled in me were profound enough that they have trickled down to the generations after me. I hope my work ethic was visible enough that it left a lasting impression. I hope my commitment, and determination was prevalent to the lives I have touched. I hope that my message that life can be so simple, and most of the time we complicate it has been heard, and always remembered. I hope I am remembered for knowing the importance of taking a pause, taking a breath, and being in the moment. I hope my example that you are never too old to learn is one that encourages others. I hope that my life story has taught the lives that I have touched that no matter how many times life knocks you to the ground, there is always hope, and another chance to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and to just keep moving. I hope that I have taught many that we all have choices, and the importance of taking responsibility for those choices.

I hope that my children and grandchildren will always know they were my life, and I hope that they each know how they were individually loved. I hope that they have learned and know that their individual uniqueness was something so powerful in my life. I hope that they learned that it is okay to stumble, and when you lose your footing, trust in yourself, and whatever outside force you believe in. I trust they will know God was mine. I hope they know I did the best I could financially when the going was good, and I did even better in the worst of times. I hope they know I would have gone to the end of the earth for each one of them. I hope they know that they had a voice in me, and one they could trust, and a face they could turn to in their time of need. I hope they know that they could always count on me. More importantly, I hope they know how grateful I am for their tolerance of my own flaws.

I hope they know that they were each a beautiful gift to my life. Raising them and watching them grow had its tough moments, and I hope they know the joyous moments, by far, outweigh the tough ones. I hope they know I did my best to dream for them. My dream has always been for each of them to see the world, and that they discover their purpose in life. My hope is that they never settle for anything less than the best version of themselves. I hope they remember me as the kind of mother and Nana, who would lift cars, and fight bears to keep them safe. I hope they always know exactly who they are, and as life marches on, I hope they know some dreams will change, and some will go away but I hope they know I will never stop dreaming for them. And no matter what happens, I hope they know I will love them forever.

I hope my vanity and high maintenance obsessions were not inflicted upon others but remembered as ones that were more about the importance of self-care, health, well-being, and feeling good about yourself…mentally, physically and emotionally. I hope I have taught others the importance of being kind to your body and to learn to love it, take care of it and that the body keeps score and it always wins. I hope my very real obsession with lipstick is remembered with a lot of laughter, and the true understanding, power and relationship behind lipstick and its possibilities. Those who really know me will fully understand this.

Life has taught me many things, and I hope I have passed on some knowledge that hard work, diligence, perseverance, persistence, tenacity and a commitment are all ingredients for the making of a successful career. I hope my message was clear, to all who knew me, that you will know when it is time to move on, and part ways, and to never take anything personal when it comes to business. I hope they know that while corporate America was good to me, I was even better to it.

I hope I have been an example of how to believe in your own abilities and to never be afraid to fall. I hope I have been an example that your best usually comes out when you are facing the worst. I hope I have shown many that amazing things can happen when you turn things over. I hope they remember that I had to learn patience, and tolerance, and I hope my example has taught those close to me that life is only as difficult as you allow it to be.

I hope that my passion for cooking, and food is one that has touched many, and more importantly their palates and bellies. I hope that my legacy and belief that presentation is everything, along with taste is one that is carried on for many generations to come. I hope that the stories, and the experience of being in the kitchen with me and sitting at my table are ones that will be remembered with a heart full of love, laughter, and one that makes every mouth salivate. I hope that I have taught many that following your passion and your dreams are always attainable, and achievable when you have a commitment to the passion and the dream.

I hope my passion for creativity, whether it is writing, designing, dancing, drawing or gardening encourages many to always follow their heart. I hope I have taught many to never let the negativity of others get in their creative space or any part of their life. I hope I have taught many that being a free spirit can have its magical moments. I hope I have taught many that even when you fail, you should always stay humble. I hope I have taught many that you can speak your mind but to always be respectful. I hope I have taught many to be mindful of personal boundaries that should never be crossed.

I hope I leave a lasting memory of knowing it is okay to sometimes be silly, and that believing in your creative abilities, dinosaurs, dragons, singing and dancing in the rain, playing in the dirt, laughing at yourself, eating a meal with the people you love, and the gift of your imagination are just some of the simple things that will bring your life everlasting love, and years of amazing memories. I hope my love of Manhattan, and the days spent exploring the city, its museums, Broadway, the food experiences, Central Park, shopping on Fifth Ave and Rockefeller Center Christmas’ are memories that are fondly remembered, and I hope those memories have been contagious enough to live on in others for years to come.

As Springsteen said “age brings a perspective and a fine clarity. It has a way of teaching you many things, and one day, it dawns on you rather quickly that there is only so much time left. There are only so many star-filled nights, snowfalls, brisk fall afternoons and rainy mid-summer days.” I have learned that it is always the smaller things in life that remind us of what truly matters. From the leap of a grandchild into your arms and they wrap their little arms around your neck to a Facetime call from your grandson that you thought would be a five minute call and it turns into nearly a two hour call to a hand reaching to hold yours to being recognized for a lifetime achievement to someone’s warm embrace and whispering in your ear that they love you to a gentle kiss on your forehead. You see, some things have a way of imprinting themselves on your life and they never let go. They are a life sentence of some bad, many good and an enormous number of great memories. That is your reward. Being here to witness and feel it all.

As I celebrate a 65-year legacy (so far, that is) …it is one that reminds me I am lucky to be alive. Lucky to be breathing in this world of beauty, and hope. Because this is what I am presented with each day, a chance. A chance in a world where I am lucky to love, and to be loved. I hope I continue to dance through life, and more importantly, I still remain hopeful that the best is yet to come for me and my soul’s purpose.

Simply Deborah ❤️

Awareness, Courage, Forgiveness, Hope, Inspiration, Life Experiences, Love, Shame, Thoughts, Voice

Your Voice

“Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth, and your heart for love.”
~ Anonymous

First my disclaimer, I published this piece over a week ago, then I took it down. I edited it. I published it a second time, and I took it down, yet again. Fear of exposing myself and wondering if my story would be met with ridicule and judgment took over my decision. Then this quote by Marcel Proust crossed my path, “We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.” This story is very personal, and it is a journey that no one could ever take from me. If this past year, and actually, my entire life, has taught me anything, it is that I need to get better at surrendering and accepting God’s will. So, I took the advice of someone I admire, and I closed my eyes. I put my hand over my tender and broken heart. I breathed in and out. I recalled all my life’s teachers, even the ones that hurt me because hurt teaches you something too. I looked at them one by one and I thanked them for the life lessons they taught me, and I thought maybe it is God’s will for me to share my wisdom, my voice and my story.

So, who is this person I admire? Maria Shriver but she is in a cast of many writers who I admire. She captured my attention, many years ago, and there have been times, her voice has made me pause, and reflect on my own thoughts, my own life, and my own words. Quite often, her voice has given me hope. She has been that person who has inspired me to write, to own my story, to find my voice, and to attempt to feel heard. Then, there have been moments, after I have read her thoughts, that I truly know, and believe, I am exactly where I am supposed to be in life.

She once wrote…” sometimes it might feel like you’re speaking to just a few people, or maybe no one at all, but if you don’t write or use your voice, then you will never know how it feels.” Years later, I am still writing, and if I reach one person, that is a good thing, and at the same time, it does not really matter because I still own my story, and I am doing exactly what I want to do, and that is finding my own voice.

During a year that has already been filled with so much pain, suffering, and confusion for anyone to absorb, comprehend or digest, someone shared their personal story of pain with me. It was about how they feel as though they are constantly verbally shamed with extremely hurtful and scaring words. I listened very carefully, and some parts of their story caused me great pain, as it did them. I was not sure how to respond or if they were even asking for my advice because more often than not, people just want to be heard. In that moment, I could hear how deep their pain was and how they were searching for the answers to the “why”. While I hung onto every word of their story, I felt a maternal responsibility to encourage them to try and find the courage, and strength to rise above the hurtful words, to always stand true to themselves, and to always know that I am here for them. I felt a deep disappointment that someone that close to them thought it was completely within their right to hurt someone that badly, so unnecessarily, and over something that had no real importance.

Their story reminded me of an interview I had once heard with Dr. Robin Smith. She said that shaming never changes anyone, but we certainly live in a shaming culture. We are raising our children to be shamed, and that it is totally acceptable for them to shame others. Many of us, were often raised by shaming. Generation after generation, believe shaming a child in front of friends or family will teach them next time not to do whatever wrong you believe they may have done. It might but trust this, it will not change the inside of a child. It actually will start to shave away at their spirit and confidence. Shame is most certainly a spirit killer, and we all do it, we all use it, and it was probably used against many of us, including myself. Shaming is not exclusive to children. Bearing witness to an adult, who is being shamed and ridiculed, openly and publicly, is just as hard to watch. As with a child, it also kills their spirit and confidence. It diminishes who they are as a person, spouse, parent, grandparent or sibling.

The shaming story is one that I am only too familiar with, and it dredged up old ghosts from my past. I grew up with a father, who thought shaming and ruling with an iron hand was the only way to discipline. His disciplinary ways, and his inability to handle, calmly and rationally, unplanned and unexpected life events, forced me to leave my home, to find comfort, compassion, and shelter with family, and eventually, married at a young age. It took me many years to completely forgive my father, but it was after his death that I gained a better understanding of who he was, and why he disciplined the way he did. It was a different time growing up during the 60’s and 70’s, and he was not equipped with the knowledge or resources to guide him with understanding and adjusting to the changing world. I like to believe, I was the rebel, who eventually changed him, and it gave my sisters a better life during the remainder of time that they lived at home. The real turning point in our relationship were the times, over the course of many years, where he verbally, acknowledged and recognized his faults, his mistakes and apologized for all the hurt and pain he had caused. This I know for sure, he loved me, unconditionally, and his ultimate goal was to always protect me, and he only wanted the best for me that life had to offer.

I went from a shaming father to marrying a man, who shamed me nearly every day that we were together. His words cut like a knife and hurt more than the physical abuse. His harshest words imaginable, left internal scars that took years to heal, and overcome. With every opportunity where he felt his power and control over me were being threatened, he used the most degrading words to diminish me as a person, a woman, a wife, and a mother. He too was ill equipped with the knowledge, and the resources for change, and he did not have the ability, the courage nor the will to recognize, and change, who he really was as a man and as a husband. With being a mother, the territory sometimes comes with making difficult choices, for yourself and your children. Nearly 36 years ago, I walked away from that life, and while I forgave him, internally, the scars, deeply remain. Forgiveness is a process, and it is one that may have to be repeated several times. But each time you do, you become more and more free. Letting go and moving on from your first true love is never easy, and it was a difficult and a painful decision, I was making for my children to be without a father in their home. But my choice with ending the marriage came with knowing, I needed to end the cycle of verbal and physical abuse against myself. It was destroying me as a person, and I knew it was affecting my children on many levels, and I walked away, confidently knowing, the cycle of witnessing, learning, and believing this was the way people were supposed to be treated had ended. It was not easy, it took a lot of courage, and it took years for me to find peace with walking away from that marriage, with never having one ounce of regret. I eventually found comfort in knowing that I never had to go home to him or that pain ever again.

The hardest shaming words to forget or get past are from the people we think would never utter such hurtful words. The words said out of anger, and in the heat of the moment. The words you try to move past but remain deep rooted in your soul. How do you heal that? I believe we all are dealing with some type of internal struggle and maybe we should stop trying to skip the struggle because that is where character is built. Maybe we should embrace it, learn from it and grow because of it. Each day I strive to become a better version of myself and becoming that version is all about character. It is said that the building block of character is virtue. Becoming a better version of yourself is about being more patient, more generous, more compassionate and having more empathy for people who may be suffering. If sharing my story, helps one-person move past the hurt and heal the forever scars, then I have used my voice for a good cause and maybe it is helping me get closer to a better version of myself.

Shaming is huge, particularly in this country’s current state of mind. Maybe we all need to get a better sense of our shame self-awareness and check our own shame barometer that we live with. I live with it. You live with it. We all live with it. We all need to become more aware of how often we use shame to manipulate people, to control people, and to silence them.

As a parent, we all slip from time to time, but it is our responsibility to keep ourselves, and the people around us in check, and to address all shameful attacks on our children and ourselves, no matter who they are coming from. We would not tolerate it from a teacher or school principal. We would not tolerate it from a coach or co-worker. Why would we tolerate it in our own homes, under our own roof, with the people we call family. When we do not address them, they embolden our children, and others to continue to be cruel, and disrespectful to each other.

So, here is my thought, I wonder what kind of content we are feeding our heart, mind and soul, that allows us to believe it is perfectly acceptable to harshly shame others, openly and publicly. I wonder if we realize that our own cruel voices can cut like a knife, and they can leave scars that last a lifetime. How you conduct yourself matters. Your behavior matters. Your character matters. Your words matter. How you treat your friends, your family and your lover matters.

Maybe it is time that we all improve our own self-awareness on how various things impact our character, our emotions, our joy, our anxiety, and the people around us. Maybe it is time to reevaluate how we use our own voice. Maybe it is time for all of us to find our kind, respectful, and compassionate voice. Maybe it is time to stop using our own voice to shame, demean, judge or ridicule others. Better yet, maybe it is time to use our own voice to encourage, to be compassionate, to support truth, to help those in need, to inspire the people around us and to promote a real need for change, in and outside our homes, with respect, and with an open mind and heart.

This piece took a long time for me to write. It is personal and it took me to places that are deep rooted in the core of my being. So much of what has happened this past year has shown us the cracks in our lives. We got to know ourselves in new and different ways, and that was scary for many of us. As I sit here, fully exposed, I genuinely believe in Matthew Kelly’s words, “Our lives change when our habits change, and who we become is infinitely more important than what we do, or what we have, and the measure of your life will be the measure of your courage.” And this I know for sure; it took a lot of courage, strength, and character to move past a life that was hurting me, and one that was killing my spirit but more importantly, it took more courage to write about it. I hope that by sharing my story, you too, can find the courage, strength, and character to rise above, any and all, hurtful attempts of shame, and to use your voice to express your unwillingness to accept and tolerate a behavior that may be killing your spirit.

As we say goodbye or maybe even good riddance to 2020, I hope we all take a moment to find our own voice and to be thankful for those we recognize as having a significant presence in our life, or for their tremendous support, encouragement, and guidance in our life, or just thankful for their generous, and unconditional love.

As Matthew says, “sometimes life requires us to sort through our hearts, minds, and souls to recognize what truly is part of who we are and what baggage and burdens have been heaped upon us by others along the way. Spring cleaning our hearts, minds, and souls is a process that takes time, it needs to be revisited regularly, and it’s always worth it.” I hope we all take time during 2021 to check our connections with ourselves, with God and with the people that truly matter to our lives, and sort through our hearts, minds, and souls, and rid our souls of the baggage and burdens. I hope the many blessings of the New Year and life fill our hearts and homes with love, kindness, compassion, unity, peace and renewed hope.

Happy New Year and may we all choose to flourish, and grow in unimaginable ways.

Simply Deborah ❤️

Awareness, Believe, Compassion, Easter, Faith, Giving, God, Goodness, Grace, Hope, Inspiration, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Mindful, Moments, Real, Spiritual, Thoughts, Truth

Moments, Truths and Promises

 

 

Another year, another forty-day journey and after these forty days, yet again, life has taught me even more about myself, people and the world. As I came off this journey, I found myself reflecting on what my initial intentions were, what had I learned and the realization that the journey never ends. This year, I wanted to understand more about moments. Holy Moments, that is. So here goes my story on how I got to my moment that was filled with truths and promises.

There are some things that I read or hear that just hit home and Day 8 of my journey began with listening to Matthew Kelly talk about the state of our current world and how it is filled with many blurred lines. He says that for most, it is much easier to live in the gray than it is to admit there is a black and a white. He went on to say, there is not anyone who likes being lied to and yet in today’s culture, many have an increasingly casual relationship with the truth. But here was my moment, there is a connection between truth and happiness and as our relationship with the truth becomes more casual, more slippery, as we continue to cross that line, for whatever reasons and whatever excuses we make for ourselves or justifications, not only are we erasing the line between the truth and lies, but we are also actually erasing the line between happiness and misery. Let that sink in for a bit, along with an honest and real look at the current state of the world. There certainly is a direct connection between truth and lies and happiness and misery but it was the questions he asked that really made me think. What role are we willing to give truth in our lives? Do we want to put truth on a throne in our lives when it is convenient and throw truth in the closet when it is inconvenient? It reminds us of the importance of living in truth, especially when it comes to our happiness.

For me, it took a life changing moment where my personal relationship with the truth became something that eventually would define me. It became something I am consciously aware of and sometimes consumed by it. Some say, at times, I can be brutally honest and other times, mute and maybe there is some truth in both. Sometimes I will call you out on the lie and then there are times I will not give the lie any life and I just walk away, silently. A casual relationship with the truth does not have a place in my life. Maybe it did once but not anymore. For me, when it comes to the truth, there is no gray, it is simply just black and white. To some, it may seem harsh, but I just like keeping it real. I like living life in that space and fake or being untruthful just does not work for me. But here is the thing, it was the thin line between happiness and misery that made me think even more…if you are living a life of misery, does that mean you are living a life of lies? Hmmm…

Then in the middle of my journey, something unexpected happened to someone that not only matters to me but to a lot of other people. There were moments of some chaos, a lot of concern, a little panic and a bit of confusion. There were moments where I felt challenged and I thought I was being called upon to show my strength, courage, leadership and capabilities. There were moments where the people that surrounded me showed the true colors of their character. There were moments where some showed that they cared and were supportive. There were moments where some showed how selfless they were and just rolled up their sleeves and stepped up and stepped in.

Unfortunately, there were many who fell into the category of the selfish and the self-centered. You know, the group we call, “it’s all about me”. There were moments where I felt they were waiting for me to fail. There were moments where they tested my patience. However, it was in those moments of pure silence, where I knew this was not about me, it was about taking care of business for someone else. Each day I would sit quietly with my thoughts and I would ask Him to please give me the strength and guidance towards what was right. I felt he was telling me I had to rise above it all. I had to stay focused. I had to push myself to get through it all. I had to dig in and take control. I just knew I could not fail someone, who never failed me, but I found myself wondering, am I being tested? Would this be considered a Holy Moment?

It was during Holy Week where I found myself reflecting, quite often, about people and still not fully understanding what a true Holy Moment was. And there it was, in just the right moment and in black and white, a story about how Holy Moments have an incredible power. It said the definition of a Holy Moment is where you set aside your self-interest, where you set aside what you feel like doing and you have a conversation with God and you say, “Alright, God, what do you want me to do in this moment?” And then you do exactly what you feel God is calling you to do in that moment. That is a Holy moment. And they tend to be filled with kindness and love and generosity and patience and thoughtfulness and courage. Holy Moments are filled with all of these things and they are so incredibly attractive. It is when you keep doing this over and over again that people realize…” Wow, this is a part of who this person really is.”

When I read those words, I recognized that not only did I have a few Holy Moments over those days and weeks, I also had many over my lifetime but still I felt this moment was not about me. Here is the thing, those words described and reminded me of a few people who have touched my life in many ways. From where I sit, those few, touch everyone’s life with nothing but good and greatness and most certainly, they do it unconditionally. I am forever grateful for their kindness, generosity, patience and more importantly, their presence in my life. I can only hope that from where they sit, they see me and my life in the same light.

Needless to say, I survived those days and weeks and, in the end, when you receive a simple card of thanks that says, “For some people comfort is just a word, for you, it’s a way of life. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do. You make life warmer and more meaningful in so many ways. There will always be a warm spot in my heart for what you did for me and my family in our hour of need.” It is in that moment that you realize this is a moment…a Holy Moment.

Today, this I know for sure, even during life’s most challenging moments, we can all find the strength to rise above the blurred lines, to move past our casual relationship with the truth and strive towards being more kind, loving, caring, generous, patient and courageous towards all of humanity. It is in that place that you will find that Holy Moments happen more often and trust this, when you surround yourself with the people who genuinely care about you and they grace your life with nothing but kindness, love and unconditional support, be grateful for each and every one of them. They are a gift of promise to bring good to your life and it is when you just silently stand still, grace with find you. Promise.

Awareness, Believe, Faith, God, Grace, Hope, Inspiration, Life, Love, Mindful, Moments, Peace, Relationships, Self Care, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Holding Patterns

“I am choosing to show up and nurture every part of me that needs love, healing and support.” ~ Alex Elle

I have always been a firm believer in the poem Reason, Season or A Lifetime and it was the Daily Encourager email about Holding Patterns, which ironically, I received on my birthday, that only reaffirmed my belief that things, circumstances or people often come into our lives for a reason, maybe for a season and sometimes for a lifetime. I now begin each day by reading the passage and saying the prayer at the end. I share it with you and may we all journey wisely and never lose our faith when we encounter a holding pattern season.

Namasté.

Holding Patterns

Many times, God will allow a painful situation or a painful circumstance in our life to “swallow us up.” This season in our spiritual growth is a “holding pattern”. We can’t move to the left or the right. All we can do is sit, like Jonah sat in the belly of that great fish, so God can have our undivided attention and speak to us.

God put Jonah in a “holding pattern” because He needed to speak to his heart. Jonah was all alone. There were no friends to call, no colleagues to drop by, no books to read, no food to eat, no interferences, and no interruptions. He had plenty of time to sit, think, meditate, and pray.

When we’re deep down in the midst of a difficult situation, God can talk to us. When He has our undivided attention, He can show us things about ourselves that we might not otherwise have seen.

A few of God’s holding patterns:

• When you are sick in your physical body and you have prayed but you are not yet healed, you are in a holding pattern.

• When you are having problems with your children and you have put them on the altar, but God has not delivered them yet, you are in a holding pattern.

• When you have been praying for a loved one to return to God, and they have not come back yet, you are in a holding pattern.

• When you are in a broken relationship and you have given it over to God, but it has not been restored yet, you are in a holding pattern.

• When the doors slam shut before you can even knock on them, you are in a holding pattern.

When we are deep in the belly of a difficult situation, there are no interruptions. God has our undivided attention. All we can do is sit, think, meditate, and pray. Like Jonah, we cannot run from God, because there are no mountains that are high enough, valleys that are low enough, rivers that are wide enough, rooms that are dark enough, or places that are hidden from Him.

We must remember to praise Him while we’re waiting, remember three things:

• The pattern has a purpose.

• The pattern has a plan.

• The pattern has a process.

So stop struggling and start listening, praying and trusting. He’ll keep you right where you are until you can clearly hear Him say, “I love you.”

Suggested Prayer: Father, forgive my unbelief. I know you love me and I will come to see the benefit of everything in my life, even this holding pattern, and the manifestation of my Good is assured through You. You have planned nothing for me but victories and I am ready to receive them regardless of how difficult the path.

“When you follow your heart, you follow God, and you’ll find your own path to your own deepest peace and happiness.”

– R Hauser

Awareness, Believe, Easter, Faith, Family, Giving, God, Hope, Life, Love, Thoughts, Truth, Uncategorized

A Forty Day Journey

“Time directs, heals, teaches and leads hearts to love. Be patient with yourself and with others.”

~ Matthew Kelly

For the last few years, I have participated in Matthew Kelly’s, The Best Lent Ever. Forty days of absolute awareness, being present and working towards becoming the best version of yourself and learning how to be perfectly yourself. To be honest, some days were more challenging than others and there were days where I failed miserably at becoming a better version of myself and I have not quite found my perfect self. It is not perfection that I am looking to attain, it is being perfectly happy with being who I am and not how anyone else wants or expects or wishes me to be. The last week was probably the most challenging and yet eye opening and extremely telling. It was Holy Week and it started off with the passing of my 94-year-old aunt (my mother’s sister), who went home peacefully to the Lord and her husband on Palm Sunday and the week ended with her burial and a celebration of her life on Holy Friday. It was a week of reflection, along with constantly reminding myself of the importance of being in the present moment, shutting out the chatter and being fully aware of my surroundings. I believe the readings at her mass, at the luncheon and in a booklet her children put together truly summed up who Aunt Josie was as a person, a sister, a wife, a mother, an aunt, a grandmother and great-grandmother and as a friend but more importantly, a devoted child of God and the church. The piece that struck me the most was talking about how non-judgmental she was. She lived a life without any judgment of anyone and she would extend her hand of kindness, love and support to anyone and everyone who crossed her path.

I sat at her funeral luncheon thinking about all of the opportunities where we never take advantage of telling the people we love, while they are alive, how thankful we are for all the guidance, love and support they have added to our lives. Aunt Josie is one person, I am not sure I ever properly thanked for all of her love, support and non-judgment of me. She was there for me many times, guiding me with her kindness and her unconditional love. My heart tells me she just knew how I felt but I did take the opportunity that day, to sit with my Aunt Jean to talk about our family and some questions I had about the past. We also talked about how over time, the dynamics of our family has changed and the realistic reasons as to why change is just a natural progression of life. The conversation at one point became emotional but I knew I could not walk away from her without taking a moment to thank her for her role in my life. She was yet another person who never let judgment be a part of her words, feelings and thoughts, especially about those she loved. She is from the generation of those that understood family loyalty, respect, trust and unconditional love. They believed being there for those that you love was just a given and something that was never questioned. I call them “the just do” generation. They understood boundaries and truths. More importantly, they understood the meaning of being a true confidant and if it was not their story to tell, it was never to be repeated. I walked away from our conversation maybe not getting all the answers to my questions but with a new-found respect and admiration for my aunt and the code that she continues to honor…it is called family loyalty. Maybe some things in life should never be questioned and maybe there are no real answers and maybe you just need to respect, honor and accept what was in the past and hearing anything different, really would not change a thing.

Then this morning, while reading my favorite Sunday Paper blog by Maria Shriver, there it was, yet another reminder talking about how we should honor people while they are alive and letting the people, we love, know they are enough. The article asked questions that made me think…why do people in life rarely see themselves as others see them? Why are they rarely recognized for their powerful legacies while they are still alive? Why are they rarely told how much they are genuinely loved? Then there was Matthew Kelly’s final video, from The Best Lent Ever, he spoke about resurrection and some of his thought provoking questions and thoughts. What part of your life needs resurrection? What part of your life needs to be resurrected? Because we all have one, every year. You might have the same one three years in a row. You might have the same one ten years in a row. You might have the same one twenty years in a row. He goes on to say, some of our biggest challenges, some of our biggest problems, some of our biggest crises, some of our biggest obstacles – they take more than a year to solve, to change, to heal. The real question is: Do you believe? Do you believe that it is possible? Do you believe that whatever mess you have got yourself into or however bad the situation is in your life or whatever tragedy or challenge it is that needs to be resurrected in your life…do you believe that God is willing and able to resurrect it? Whew, a lot more to think about beyond these forty-days.

My original plan for this forty-day journey was to make time each day to be still, silent and in solitude. I wanted to use the time to reflect on my life…one moment at a time. Each day, I walked away from those moments with a word or a thought. Something that had personal meaning or reflected something about me or life in general. I knew I wanted to take those words and thoughts and do something with them. Something simplistic and not complicated and out of that came the video below…My Forty Day Journey.

Today and every day, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the real meaning of life. I hope you get the opportunity to thank someone who has had a significant impact on your life and to tell them how grateful you are that they have graced your life with their presence, their love and their understanding. I also hope you come to believe and know that you are enough and celebrate life every day…your own life and the life of those that you love and who truly matter the most to you.

Happy Easter and as Matthew says, if you are to find lasting happiness in this ever-changing world, it will be as your own wonderful self…the best version of perfectly you.

Believe, Faith, Hope, Life, Love, Relationships, Thoughts, Truth

The Gifts From The Love I Lost

Who knew nearly a decade later, the love you lost could possibly be your last sweet love and yet today, it is still one that is so difficult to talk about without getting emotional, without your voice cracking and without stumbling over your words. Who knew the person, who some questioned as you possibly selling yourself short, would turn into that love you find yourself, regrettably, thinking you should have worked harder at mending and one you should have never walked away from. It is in those quiet moments that the memories of that kind of love show up unannounced and there are times those memories come back with a haunting vengeance. There is no clear history button and there is no shutting the emotion out. You start to pointlessly replay events in your head, ceaselessly analyzing, obsessively scrutinizing your actions and wallowing in some regret.

While I utterly understand, I only have the power to change the present moment, I often think incessantly about the past and start wondering if I only had the awareness of being in the present moment back then, would it have turned out differently? It took me years to learn and I am still learning the importance of being present to receive love, and to feel appreciation and gratitude. In those moments of reflection, I now realize so many opportunities were lost because I was not living in the moment. I have learned that being present is about getting real and continually digging out the buried wounds that are hidden under layers of a very protective shell. With every life encounter, I am learning how to become still long enough to take a pause, to breathe and to ask myself an important question, “What is this life experience here to show me or to teach me?”

While I still have a lot to learn and a fair amount of life left to experience, today, this is what I know for sure, maybe it is after a good cry and when you stop feeling sad that you are able to see clearly as to what that relationship revealed to you and what it taught you. You are able to see the relationship for what it was and as you walk away, you choose to remember the gifts the love you lost gave you. It is the gifts of their good qualities, their good character and their vulnerable side that no one else knows or has had the privilege to witness or experience. It is the gift of knowing you will love them always. It is the gift of the positive influence and memory that they have left behind with those that you love. It is those gifts that you choose to hold near and dear to your heart. It is those gifts that you will always cherish with gratitude. It is those gifts that keep you in that place of hope with believing that one day you will get to feel that love, again and it is those gifts that you have learned from. But the true gift is knowing that “once love” gave you the ultimate gift of words,” you deserved better.”

So, you see, it is not about the love you lost, it is about the love you shared and always be grateful for that love. And it is that gift that I choose to always remember and cherish, we loved each other. ❤️

I wish you joy, peace, health, love and hope in 2018. Happy New Year!

Simply Deborah

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhtFzdpudOk&feature=share

Believe, Christmas, Compassion, Faith, Family, Giving, God, Hope, Life, Life Experiences, Life Lessons, Love, Relationships, Thoughts, Truth

We All Forget

Outside there is a fresh blanket of the first snow of the season and inside, I am embraced by the warmth of my pajamas, a hot cup of coffee and my Sunday morning reading. I am reading stories about what you need to do to prepare the way to what is really coming during this season by Matthew Kelly to getting your priorities in check by Maria Shriver, but it was the one-minute video by Tony Robbins regarding “what really living is” that caused me to pause and remain still as I absorbed his words and thoughts. While all of their words were not anything that I had not thought about before, it was when I pulled all three of their thoughts together that really made me pause and reflect on the where, the what, the was, the is and what is coming with my own life and I share with you some of their telling words.

Matthew talks about the season and the preparing and somewhere in the midst of all of this, the true meaning of what is really coming has gotten lost or maybe even forgotten. There are weeks of preparing, along with the menu planning, getting the house ready, straightening everything up and making sure everything is right for everyone who is coming. The questions I read are the ones that were so thought provoking. What do you need to do to prepare for the coming season? What in your life needs to be made straight? Are there habits you need to begin or maybe end? Are there some relationships that need a little cleaning up? Do you need to look at how you use your time or how you use your money? Maybe, just maybe, now is the time to take a step back and reflect on what is really meaningful during this season and focus more on spending time with those that are really important to your life.

While reading my next piece, Maria reminded me of all of the people who lost everything during this year’s hurricanes and wildfires. She wrote about the many people who lost everything they own. Everything they worked their whole lives for. In a moment, they lost it all. In a moment, everything can be gone, and everything can change. A moment can make all the difference. She wrote about prioritizing in those moments and it made me think about what my priorities would be. What would I grab first and who would I call? Do I know what I would say if I only had a moment? For me, this was probably the biggest question, do I have someone who will check on me and be there for me? I would like to think and hope that I know who they are and that they would be there for me in a moment’s notice. I know what I value, and I know what I would grab first. For me too, it would be the things that have the most meaning to my heart. It would be the things that remind me of my family, love and hope. Her words just reinforced in me that life is a series of moments and we should never wait for those devastating moments to remind us of who and what is important to our lives. Do not wait for those moments to say the things you need to say. Do not spend a lot of moments accumulating a lot of stuff because in those moments, they really are not going to matter.

And lastly there were Tony’s words, “When do people really start to live? The answer…when they face death.” He goes on to say it is only then that all of a sudden everything in your life gets reprioritized. You start thinking about who you would call. What would you say? What truth would you tell? What would you share with someone that you never shared before? What kind of gratitude would you have for one more day? How would you treat people? What would you cherish the most if it were the last week of your life? The most eye opening and yet simplistic statement he made, “We all forget that there is something coming for all of us…it’s called death. And rather than thinking of it as gruesome, maybe it can be a counselor.” Wow!

Their words hit something deep within me and reminded me of one of my favorite Oprah lines, “I have less time left here on this earth than I have lived.” Those profound words have taught me I have no time left to waste on people nonsense or chatter that is none of my business. I have lost a lot over the years and at the same time, I have gained a tremendous amount too. I have gotten to a place in my life where I know and believe that God has something more in store for me and I am curious and excited to find out what that is. When I think about how much of my life has been spent on the not so important stuff, it is time lost that I will never recover. I cannot change any of the mistakes I have made and this I know for sure, even with the many mistakes, I know who I was yesterday, and I am good with who I am today. In the last few years, I have spent quite a bit of time in the classroom of silence with myself and God. At first it was uncomfortable because it forced me to confront both myself and the pain head on. But it has been through that solitude that I have been able to find hope in the little moments and I am able to see hope in the bigger pieces of my life.

I find myself asking quite often, why anyone would what to live life any other way than with a heart filled with gratitude, peace, love, grace and hope. Maybe, just maybe, more than ever before, we all need to make that call of gratitude, hope and love. Because life is too short, and we never know when it is going to end. That is what I am thinking about on this beautiful, snowy Sunday morning. And before we all forget, it is the season of giving, of love and of hope.

Peace

Simply Deborah

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Hope, Dreams and Love

This past week, I found myself surrounded by some disagreements, the spitting of hurtful words that included disgust, annoyance and hate, along with many stories about violence, sexual harassment, death and a lot of lying. The thing that really throws me off balance are the avoidable hurtful words and actions that come from the people you love and care about the most. You find yourself struggling to find answers and peace within yourself. I am not sure about you but for me when I am off my game it effects every part of my being and it is hard to hide and move past the hurt.

It is only in the quietness and the stillness that I able to find the answers and forgiveness that work for me and this Sunday morning is no different than any other Sunday morning. It is about reflection. It is about stillness. It is about being present. It is about hope. It is about dreams. It is about love. It is about the season. Sometimes life happens and sometimes it is tricky to navigate the unexpected and sometimes we forget everything we do have in our life to be grateful for.

This I know for sure, in a world that sometimes feels like it is filled with such hopelessness and in the midst of life’s many ups and downs, be kind to one another. Be aware of the importance to pause, breathe and understand boundaries. Be respectful of one another. Be loving to each another. Be mindful that it is in those trickier life moments when the unexpected can take away those precious moments to be all that we can be to each other. We were all given the gift and ability to hope, dream and love. Maybe, just maybe we need to plant them deeper in our hearts, in our thoughts and in our words.

That is what I am reading and thinking about this Sunday morning. Hope, dreams and love are the greatest gifts God gave each of us. Spread and give of them, freely and generously. After all, it is the season of hope, dreams and love.