Category Archives: Joy

2014: My Year of Good Cheer

2014 marks the sixth year I have named my years. It provides an interesting focus for me throughout the year as I remind myself (via a post it note on my desktop) my name for the year and gives me something to live up to. To strive for.

2009 was The Year of Hesed (lovingkindness)

2010: The Year of the Tao

2011: The Year of Living Simply

2012: The Year of Forgiveness

2013: The Year of Living Sustainably

2014: The Year of Good Cheer

Have I achieved any goals with these years? I don’t set out any goals, per se, it is just a reminder of ways in which I can adjust my thinking.

In The Urantia Book (a spiritual endeavor that I have studied since the early 1970s), whenever Jesus encountered one of his disciples, the first words out of his mouth were: “Be of good cheer!” This is in the Bible, too, John 16:33.

Words to live by, those. What good does it do us to be critical, to add negative thought-energy into the world, to hate, hold resentments, argue, and live our lives in cynicism?

Why not be happy? Happiness is a choice. Only we can choose whether or not to be happy. No one on earth can make us happy if we do not want to be. Conversely, nobody can make us feel bad if happiness is our chosen state of being.

Only we can choose to put cynicism aside. Only we can choose to focus on the right side, the light side, the good side of things instead of the ugly. Only we can choose to see the successes in apparent failures, to view the future with excitement instead of dread, to banish depression and decide to be of good cheer.

I was privileged to deliver a sermon last summer, the topic of which was how we can change the world with our thoughts.

It starts with a single decision to lighten the world with positive thoughts, thoughts of happiness and gratitude and love and light. There are enough people who add the darkness to fabric of planetary thought with their thoughts of greed and anger and me-first-ness.

It is a mighty challenge to change the balance from dark to light, but we can do it, one day at a time, one person at a time, just by being of good cheer.

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Filed under Discipline, goals, Goodness, Joy, peace, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, The Urantia Book, Uncategorized, years

The Tao of Yarn

Anyone who knows me knows that I knit. In fact, I’m kind of a knitting maniac. Not a day goes by without yarn handling of some sort. I make yarn, spinning it out of beautiful, silky fibers. I knit garments and things. Warm things for children and old people, fashionable things, utilitarian things, things of beauty, filled with the peace that I feel when I’m knitting.

For the last two years I’ve been knitting and/or spinning twice a week at a yarn shop in town, Textiles A Mano, run by Laura Macagno-Shang, a delightful woman of amazing expertise and artistic talents.  Inspired by her and the other spinners and knitters, my knitting has gone from mundane, meat-and-potatoes knitting to creating incredible laces, intricate cable networks and dozens of warm things for the Relief Nursery, a local charity that helps out parents and their children from newborn to six years old.

Most of the things I knit are given away to family, friends, or charitable organizations. I keep a few special things, of course, but it seems as though the minute I cast on a project, a person comes to mind and I begin to think about that person, meditate on his or her situation, and pretty soon that warm garment becomes first a thing of comfort for me and then a thing of comfort for the recipient. But this is not a blog post about what a great knitter I am. It’s about how we can all do little things to enrich a life.

Something as simple as a warm “chemo cap” for those going through treatment. Something as simple as a pair of baby booties for a friend’s new grandson. Something as easy as a set of felted coasters as a wedding gift. These are not items of great value, but I believe that they send good, healing heart-energy into the universe that is multiplied over and over and over again. When we give gifts from the heart, from our creativity, we affirm the recipient’s worth, we spend time in creative contemplation, we engage in constructive prayer.

And that is always a worthwhile endeavor. It adds love to the planetary consciousness.

What can you do today to make the life of a loved one — or even an acquaintance — better?

 

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Filed under Beauty, Joy, knitting, peace, Prayer, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Stress

Every Season is Cranberry Season

I should write a cranberry cookbook. I love cranberries, in all forms. I almost wrote that I like them even more than blackberries and raspberries, but that’s not entirely true. They’re so different, with different characteristics, moods, and creative potentials.

After Christmas, I buy cranberries on sale and stock up the freezer. I have lots of cranberry recipes.  In fact, cranberries are very versatile and can be chopped and added to lots of different things for a tangy surprise. I make juice, cookies, breads and scones, but most of all, I just like a good cranberry relish. There’s nothing new or different, particularly, in these recipes. They’re just designed to bring out the cranberry flavor.

Here are two recipes, one of which I just made. I love both of these, and we eat them year round.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1 package cranberries (I chop them in the food processor while they’re still frozen so they don’t turn to mush)

1 whole navel orange, skin included

A good inch of fresh ginger

1 cup sugar

Chop the first three items together, add the sugar, mix and store, covered, in the fridge overnight to let the flavors blend.

Here’s another. Similar, and yet oh, so different:

Cranberry-Jalapeno Relish

1 package cranberries (I chop them in the food processor while they’re still frozen so they don’t turn to mush)

1 whole lime, skin included

1 jalapeno, seeded

1 bunch of cilantro

1 cup sugar

Chop the first four items together, add the sugar, mix and store, covered, in the fridge overnight to let the flavors blend.

Yum!

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Filed under Goodness, Joy

2011: The Year of Living Simply

I’ve been naming my years now for a while. It’s more than a resolution, it’s a reminder to bring more lovingkindness, more awareness, more sweetness to life. In naming my years, and in holding those thoughts in my head and in my heart, my outlook changes.

In 2011, I vow to live more simply.

What does that mean? To travel less for business. Maybe just travel less.  To only go where my dog can come along. She’s not getting any younger, either, and every day in a boarding facility is just that. To make fewer commitments. To acquire less stuff and to give more stuff away. To appreciate what I have rather than spend time and energy thinking about what I want. To not busy my schedule out a year in advance. To do more of the things I really enjoy and fewer things I dread. To not please people, but to please God instead. Pleasing people is exhausting. Pleasing God is simple.

To do more art. Both in writing and knitting and living. I heard not too long ago that if we, by our countless tiny decisions, make each day a work of art, by the time we’re finished, we’ll have created a masterpiece.

That’s for me. That’s what I want for 2011 and beyond. To build a simple masterpiece, day by day.

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Filed under Aging, goals, Joy, knitting, Possibilities, Prayer, Reading, Spirituality, time, Writing

Rightmindedness

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to that word: Rightmindedness.

We have a thousand opportunities every day to choose our mindset. If we get our minds right, we can choose happiness, joy, freedom, love, light, loyalty, sunshine.

Or, if something we don’t like happens, we can allow it to color our whole day, our month, our year.  A moment’s temptation can throw us off a diet, for example, and in a few days, all the good hard work that’s been done is erased. Or, we could choose to not let that happen. We could choose to put our minds right again, and not let a small slip throw our world into chaos.

The same goes for fear and anxiety. We can let it run our lives, or we can live with self-forgiveness and let old conflicts go. When new situations arise, we have the power to choose our reaction to them. If we behave ourselves, what do we care if others misbehave?

I read an article about how human minds seek out similarities. We like finding coincidences. We match up things that go together. We say things like: He looks just like so-and-so, except for…”  And that also goes for series of events. In one day, we could have a flat tire, have to wait so long at a professional’s office that we miss another appointment, get some bad news and have to deal with a miscommunication. Each of those things has the potential to ruin our day, if we let it, especially if we run down the litany of everything that went wrong to the spouse or loved one.

Instead, we should run down all the great things that happened. All the miracles that we’ve bunched together, all the coincidences, all the moments of synchronicity and delight. All the good things that people did for us, all the nice things people said about each other.

We’re not in control of much in our lives, but we are in control of our attitude. I know people who are negative, and I know people who are positive. I’d rather hang with the positive folks. The socially fragrant ones help me enjoy life.

I’m working on getting my mind right, one decision at a time, because that will make life a lot more fun. And it will also make the world a better place.

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Filed under Beauty, connections, Discipline, Friends, Fun, goals, Goodness, Honesty, Joy, peace, Personalities, regrets, relationships, Spirituality

Love Knows No Bounds

This makes me cry every time. I’m sure the music has something to do with it, but then again, maybe not.

http://www.youtube.com/v/rqhJuwUukX8&hl

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Filed under Joy

Two Keys to My Kingdom

Many years ago I read an essay that said, “If you have more than two keys on your key ring, your life is too complicated.” At the time, my key ring was so heavy I was afraid it was going to damage the ignition of my car.

Today, for the first time ever: Two keys. One for the house and one for the car. 

And I have to say, my life is a lot less complicated.

I’ve had keys to storage lockers (the last one surrendered this afternoon), to my mother’s home, to post office boxes, to other peoples’ houses, to other vehicles, on and on and on.  Lots to keep track of. Lots of responsibility. None of it necessary. The only other key I employ on a regular basis is for my bicycle lock, but I keep that in my bicycle ditty bag. It doesn’t count because it’s not on my key ring.

Another indication of a life too complex is the amount of mail that arrives on a daily basis. There was a time when it took me an hour a day to process the mail. If I left town for a ten-day writing conference or retreat, I had ten hours worth of mail waiting for me when I got back.

Made me want to not come back.

Today’s mail brought one bill and an advertising flyer.

A life simplified.  Nobody owns me any more.

And because I don’t have all that flurry of questionably meaningful activity and responsibility, I have the time to concentrate on the important things. Study. Family. Leisure!

How many keys on your keyring? What would you have to give up in order to get down to two?

It’s a worthy goal.

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Filed under goals, Joy, peace, Possibilities, Stress, Symbols, time