Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ The Breath of God

Ever since I was a very little child I had a sense of there being something greater out there, some higher power, that some may refer to as God.  I seemed to innately believe in a higher power, but was not being taught or told to believe or think in a certain way.  My own mom had been born in Salt Lake City, Utah, into a long line of Mormons.  She departed the faith in her early twenties when she had disagreements with the racism that was apparent in the church at that time.  Somehow my parents managed to take some community college courses while they raised six children.  Both had grown up quickly and had to raise themselves during parts of their childhood.  They essentially were both on their own at about sixteen and seventeen years of age.  I have recollections of my mom taking a course about world religions.  I was fascinated by the subject and at a very early age picked up one of her books called The Religions of Man by author Huston Smith.  

I can still also recall, at about age six, waiting at my friend Nancy Sanchez's house on the way to school. The Sanchez family were Catholic and originally came from South America. Nancy's mom informed me very matter-of-factly that since I did not attend church I did not believe in God. I know that upon arriving home later that day I told my mom what Nancy's mom had said to me.  It had upset me and I didn't know why she would say such a thing.  In my young mind it made no sense.  It was about this same time that I came to learn that some people believed that their God was different from the God other people worshipped, but they knew with certainty that their God was the only true God.  Again my young mind thought they were all confused, because I had already figured out that they were all worshipping the same God, that really there were many paths to God, each just as good as the other.  

These deep thoughts I had as a child held true for me throughout my life.  While in college I had some wonderful roommates who were Christian and very active in a Christian fellowship on campus.  I attended gatherings and events with them and thoroughly enjoyed their friendships and activities.  There finally came a point though when I attended the lecture of a visiting minister.  My question to him, one that I struggled with, was how could they say that a good person who was Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist would go to this "hell" that Christians believe in.  It made no logical sense that a loving God would sentence good and kind people to some hellish afterlife simply because they were not Christian.  They tried to explain that while it seemed harsh it was the truth.  

I knew, knew absolutely, in my heart, that this was untrue.  I knew then that I could never be a Christian.  I could never embrace a belief system that did not allow for other paths to God.  I have met Christians who have chosen their faith for their own heart and soul because it is what calls to them, and they do so without judging others.  I admire them for choosing their faith for their individualized path and then respecting, and accepting, that others can choose another path, that has just as much merit as their own.  

Yet I also know that it is not uncommon for some people in religions to be absolutely convinced that their way is the only way.   I know that this approach of believing that there is only one way is not limited to Christianity, but also permeates many of the other faiths as well.  There are Muslims who believe the only true way is to follow Islam.  Certainly there are Jews who believe they are the only chosen people.  In the world there have been great conflicts and wars between people of different faiths.

Because of my inner sense that there are many ways to reach a higher power, in recent years I have been more drawn to Buddhism.  I always feel a kinship when I read the writings of practicing Buddhists.  I so love the many messages of the Dalai Lama, especially when he stated "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."  I believe that if everyone could agree that each path of spirituality and religion is equal that there would be much less conflict in the world.  There would also be less conflict if we all shared a common creed of kindness and respect for one another.  I have often struggled with what seems to be the arrogance of those who are so certain and smug that their way is the only one true way to connect with God or that following their religion is the key to being a good and moral person.  

A few years back I was entranced by a documentary by National Geographic called The Judas Gospel.  I am still surprised that more people have not watched this video or read about it.  I know my love of history leads me down such roads, yet this is fascinating historical research that is providing new insight into the past and even biblical history.

My long held interests in spirituality and faith recently led me to a fascinating novel called The Breath of God by Jeffrey Small.  The author graduated summa cum laude from Yale University and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. In addition, he holds a master's degree in the study of religions from Oxford University.  He is also an acclaimed speaker on the topics of rethinking religion in the twenty-first century and the common spiritual themes in the world's religions. 

While the book is a novel, author Jeffery Small, did draw the inspiration from an actual historical event that took place in 1887.  A Russian journalist named Nicolas Notovitch made a discovery in a remote Himalayan monastary.  He had been traveling when he fractured his leg and stayed and was cared for in  a Buddhist monastary.  While there Notovitch had the chance to see manuscripts that documented the life of Jesus and his travels through India and Tibet.  Notovitch tried to share these findings with the Christian religious community but was ostracized.  He did write a book anyways entitled The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ.  

The fictional novel The Breath of God is a story of a contemporary young man who also suffers a leg injury while in search of these lost documents about Jesus.  The author does a fine job of weaving a a thrilling story.  Here is a fun book trailer that you might enjoy:

I was also intrigued by some of the quotes that the author includes at various chapter beginnings.  It does lead one to consider more deeply the ties that could well exist between faiths, ties that some do not choose to recognize.   

For example here is a quote from The Tao Te Ching, 6th Century BC  

"In the beginning was the Tao.  
All things issue from it; all things return to it.  
Every being in the universe is an expression of the tao.  
The Tao gives birth to all beings, nourishes them, maintains them."  

Now here is a quote from The Gospel according to John, AD 1st century 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  
All things came into being through him, 
and without him not one thing came into being.  
What has come into being in him was life, 
and the life was the light of all people."

Here again is another example as quoted from The Bhagavad Gita, 5th century BC

"I am the source of all things, and all things emerge from me...
Infinite are the forms in which I appear.  
I am the self, seated in the heart of all beings; 
I am the beginning and the life span of beings, and their end as well...
I am the source of all things to come."

Then there is this from The Book of Revelation, AD 1st century

"I am the Alpha and the Omega who is and who was and who is to come."

Lastly I was interested to discover that author Jeffrey Small also writes a column for the Huffington post.  I have read several of the articles and each one has left me thoughtful, intrigued, and feeling in alignment with how this man thinks about religion.  Here is one example called Faith Is Trusting God, Not Belief in Doctrine that was published on January 19, 2011.

Are you a believer?
Have you ever been asked this question before? Did the question and your search for an answer make you uncomfortable? Did you wonder to yourself what does this question really mean? For me, the answer to all these questions is "yes."
When I was growing up, I often heard the popular refrain in Christianity that to be "saved" all one needed was to have "faith." When asked what "having faith" meant, the reply was typically "believing that Jesus is the son of God." In other words, all we are required to do in order to have eternal life is to believe a certain set of facts about events that occurred over 2,000 years ago, and whatever else we do in our lives (cheating, stealing, murder, etc.) is irrelevant.
I struggled with this issue because logically it didn't make sense to me. Why would an all-powerful God, who created all of existence, care about a single belief we held? Anthropologists would say that for the vast majority of us, our beliefs are culturally conditioned. Is the Hindu raised in India with little exposure to Christianity who lives an exemplary life going to hell because she does not believe what an American who grows up in the Bible-belt is taught from a young age? What happens when an article of faith (for example, that God created the world in 6 days 6,000 years ago) contradicts what we know from other disciplines like science, history, and archaeology?
The more I thought about this issue, the more it seemed that the formula of "believe in the doctrine of XYZ" and "you will be saved" was little more than a carrot and stick approach to encourage people to conform to the doctrine of whatever authority was making the proclamation. The history of politics has shown that this exact strategy has been employed countless times (often to terrible results) by authoritarian regimes to compel conformity and thus solidify the power of the institution.
The modern view of believing in Jesus in order to be saved has its roots in Martin Luther's Reformation which responded to the Catholic practice of selling indulgences (paying the church for salvation) by substituting the doctrine of Justification by Faith as outlined by St. Paul. According to this doctrine, we cannot be saved by our good works because at heart we are all imperfect sinners -- our works will never be good enough for God. We are only saved through our faith in Jesus.
However, as Luther's doctrine has evolved over the centuries, it has been distorted so that "faith" has become synonymous with "belief." What has happened is that a new requirement has been substituted for good works. Making belief a requirement for salvation is just replacing another kind of work -- the mental work of belief in something -- as a condition to salvation. It is trying to bring in through the back door the type of human action and interference in God's salvation that Luther objected to with the Catholic church selling indulgences.
So what is the meaning of Luther's justification by faith? This means simply that we are already saved. We don't have to do anything for our salvation, and this includes believing in a specific doctrine. When we combine this theory with the conception of God (which I have outlined in earlier posts) as the creative power behind all of existence (instead of a supernatural being who judges our actions like Zeus from the top of Olympus), we can begin to understand how we are already part of the infinite and eternal power of being. The "Kingdom of God" is already present and real because it is the basis that underlies all reality. However, we do not realize that we are already saved -- we do not experience this salvation in our day-to-day lives. We live lives in which our egos dominate us and in which we live apart from the ground of reality that is God. Using an analogy from science, we experience only one side of reality -- our bodies and the spaces around us -- but if we were to look at reality at the molecular level, reality looks very different -- what appears solid is actually made up mostly of space and the empty space around us is filled with particles.
The path to salvation thus becomes more like an awakening, an understanding, and an experience of what is already here but we cannot see. The spiritual path (prayer, meditation, fasting, worship, etc.) becomes a mechanism to peal back the onion layers of who we are and what we think the world around us is, so that we can examine the power of God within ourselves, within others, and within existence itself. Salvation is an opening of our eyes and hearts, a new way of seeing the universe.
Faith then is not belief in a certain doctrine about Jesus, but a trust in using him as an example of what it looks like to live a God-centered life. Through the stories in the Gospels (whether or not the details are historical are irrelevant), we can understand the nature of God's presence within the world and what a God-centered life looks like: a life of humility, compassion, love without boundaries, a life which experiences suffering and doubt, but a life that ultimately participates in the eternal power of God that transcends death.
We've all heard the expression "Try it on faith." This doesn't mean, "Believe me" but rather "Trust me, and experience it for yourself." Faith is about testing, questioning, and doubting. In science these qualities lead to greater truths, why shouldn't the same apply to religion? For me, religion is about embracing the unknown and the difficult -- a journey of exploration that never really gets there because ultimately I am finite. Faith is about being comfortable with my doubts because doubt is part of my search for truth. Faith is not a closing of my eyes and mind to the real world, to science, to modern knowledge, or to experience, but it is the opposite: an opening up and a new way of seeing.
Understanding evolves and changes with information; it is open and dynamic. The history of science shows us that whatever our beliefs and theories are today, they will probably be proved wrong over time, and we will then adapt our theories to the new information. Yet in religion we often hold onto cherished beliefs in the face of contrary facts. I think we should borrow from the model of science and allow our religious beliefs to evolve with time as well. But we should be cognizant of the difference between scientific knowledge and understanding through faith and religious experience. I view faith as another form of knowledge that is based more on insight and wisdom. It is using intuition as a way of understanding versus pure reason. But it should not be in conflict with reason, science, and experience. Therefore when I pose the question at the top of my blog "What do you believe?", I do so as an invitation to explore your beliefs, to question them, and to engage in a deeper search for meaning that may mean confronting uncomfortable facts and evolving your views.

What do you believe?
Are there any thoughts or emotions that have been drawn out by the post?
Were you raised with a particular religious faith?
Is it one you still practice?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ The Gift Giver

I normally ignore the ads that show up in the side column on Facebook.  A few weeks ago there was one that drew my attention.  The title was The Gift Giver.  I was so drawn that I clicked the link.  I found myself on a new page that described what happened to be a book called The Gift Giver by Jennifer Hawkins.  From the moment I began to read the premise about this true story I was hooked.  

"What if you were to wake up one morning and find that the person you were closest to in this world had died? With no notice, no goodbye, nothing. What would you do? Where would you turn? How would you live? What would you believe about life, and death? How would you go on? As an accomplished athlete, businesswoman, and mother, author Jennifer Hawkins believed she had everything until one morning she woke up to find her husband lying lifeless in their bed. Shaken to her core, Jennifer struggled to put her shattered world back together, rebalancing relationships with friends, family, and her own children as she came to grips with the vacuum left by the loss of her husband. Jennifer teetered on the brink of despair, until she heard a voice - a voice she never thought she would hear again. It was the voice of her husband, who in six simple words told her of the tragedy that would have occurred had he stayed. How his leaving saved a life, one whose loss would have had ripple effects that were inconceivable. Few memoirs deliver such an inspirational message of loss and redemption, of sorrow, mercy, and reawakening. Jennifer's story suggests that love never dies. That our world is not as distant from the afterlife as we now believe, and that life is meant to be lived and lived fully in the moment. Her story shows how love can bridge the gap between our world and the vast nurturing universe that lies beyond. And that most of all, there can be a reason for every single thing that happens, even if in the moment a reason seems impossible."

I knew from reading that introduction I needed to learn about those six words she heard her husband speak to her from beyond.  In my life I too have had to wrap my mind and heart around death, loss and grief.  Back in 1984, when I was 15 years old, my brother Tom, only 21 years old, died in a motorcycle accident.  In 2001, my 41 year old brother Jim died from AIDS related lymphoma.  There is one other death though that took place in 1995 that also shifted my world.  It is like that when you lose your fiancé, as well as all the dreams you had for the future you would share together.

On May 7, 1995 I received a call.  I thought it was my fiancé Khalid who was still residing in southern France.  We had met in the spring of 1994 while I was living and studying in Aix-en-Provence.  I had been living in Aix since August of 1993.  We met at a Moroccan restaurant that was hidden down a winding narrow alley of a road.  The streets in Aix seemed like a maze when I first arrived.  Even I was impressed when after living there for over a year that I could walk those cobbled streets without getting lost.

Me and Khalid in Marseille, France 1994
Normally Khalid would have been hidden back in the kitchen were he worked his culinary magic.  However, on this particular day, the owner/waiter was out running an errand.  When my roommate and I arrived at the restaurant we were immediately identified as Americans by the owner's wife. Assuming we might not speak French she retreated to the kitchen to get Khalid.  In reality Khalid's English was not very good, but what he lacked in ability he made up for with enthusiasm.  Back in the states I had previously dated two Moroccans.  My relationship with Mohammed had lasted three years, but ended prior to me departing to France.  I wasn't looking to get involved again, but my heart had other ideas.   I honestly tried to keep my heart guarded and the relationship light, but as things developed I realized I had never met a man so loving and open with his emotions before.  We were also very much alike in many ways, which was both a blessing and a challenge at times.  

When the time grew near for me to return to California and complete my final semester of university we both found that we couldn't bear to part.  We simply couldn't imagine our lives being lived apart.  We visited the US embassy to see about obtaining Khalid a visa.  Unfortunately the embassy representative explained that he would not be a good candidate to receive a visa to visit the USA.  She recommended the only way he would ever get to California would be through requesting a fiancé visa, which in turn required that we get married within 60 days of his arrival in the states.  We both knew right then that there was no question of what we would do.  Khalid proposed and presented me with a ring.  My departure in January 1995 was tearful due to parting, but also because we did not know when we would see one another again.   Months passed after filling out copious amounts of paperwork on my end and he had to travel twice to Paris for physical exams and interviews.  We had to prove that the relationship was real and not about just getting him a green card.  During those weeks and months we sent many card and letters to one another.

Khalid and I in Cassis, France
Finally in April Khalid received the long awaited visa. I began to make wedding preparations ~ dress, flowers, location and so forth, as our time frame would be tight upon his arrival.  He wrapped up business in France and planned a trip with an aunt and uncle to Morocco prior to joining me in California.  Their plan was to caravan through Spain by car, cross the Straights of Gibraltar on a ferry, and arrive in Morocco for an overdue visit with his family, who he had not seen in almost 8 years.  The day before they were to depart Khalid made one last trip back to his apartment.  On the way there his car crashed head on into a tree and he died at the scene of the accident.

That call I received on May 7th was from someone calling me to tell me the news.  So many things changed in that moment.  The life I had envisioned sharing with Khalid in California was not to be.  Initially one of the thoughts that helped me to cope was that everything happens for a reason.  This thought is much like what Jennifer Hawkins experienced after the death of her husband.  Today I am not always certain that this is true.  A part of me thinks that sometimes bad things simply happen with there being no rhyme nor reason behind it, and that really the only thing within our control is how we choose to respond to those events.  

What I definitely love is how Jennifer Hawkins, the author of the Gift Giver is taking her difficult and tragic experience and is sharing it with the world.  I am certain that her book, her blog, the articles she continues to write on the subject and the interviews she gives will help others who are journeying through the grieving process and feeling deep loss.  

I also applaud her courage, for Jennifer Hawkins was aware that not everyone would believe her story of communicating with her dead husband.  Fortunately she was brave enough to share her story anyway.  In fact there is a special note to the reader at the beginning of the book:

I believe these events happened to me…
And are true.
But truth is a very personal thing.
And my truth may or may not be your truth.
My intention is to share with you the experiences,
lessons, and insights
that changed my and my boys’ lives forever,
in the hope that they will deeply enrich your life.

I wrote this book for you.
- Jennifer

Jennifer Hawkins
Here is an article author Jennifer Hawkins wrote in July 2011.
“On February 4, 2009 I woke up to find that my husband had died in his sleep from an undetected heart condition. He was forty-nine years old. I was thirty-nine. It was the biggest shock of my life. The first two hours were a blur of emotion, pain, fear, shock, and denial. The next two and a half years have been a lesson in living life much more openly, deeply, and presently.
In the immediate aftermath of his death, I discovered I had two choices. I could either surrender to what had happened, or instead, choose to fight the reality of it all.
Initially, I fought the reality and life was hard. I felt alone, afraid, hurt, angry and even guilty. With Mark gone, I was instantly and solely in charge of our home, cars, finances, and children. I thought ‘Til death do us part?’ Well, what if I wasn’t ready? I felt abandoned, and could not overcome the thought that Mark was supposed to be there with me to help me take care of everything. Deep down I knew he couldn’t be there, but accepting that meant accepting the fact that he really was gone. And I wasn’t ready for that, so the battle continued.

A few weeks after Mark died a close friend said something to me that changed my perception at the core. She said, “Jennifer, no matter what happens in the future, you will always have lost your husband. There is nothing you can do about that. For the rest of your life it will be a part of who you are. You don’t have to ever ‘get over it.’”
I realized with those words that I didn’t have to act any certain way. I didn’t have to get rid of my grief. I didn’t have to be anything I wasn’t. I was a widow and nothing would ever change that. Not even my deepest thought that it wasn’t true. It gave me the long-term view I needed in order to let go of the pressure I was putting on myself to be ‘fixed.’
After I heard those words I began to surrender to all of my emotions, including grief. In these moments of surrender, there were glimmers of hope, love and life. For lack of a better way to explain it, angels took over and miracles began happening. Almost mysteriously, life began taking care of itself. The right person walked in the room at the right time, needed items appeared without even asking. It was as if the universe was saying, “Yes, this happened, and yes, it will all be OK. Because no matter how hard it seems, there is something right about this.”

Upon surrendering, I was able to acknowledge all of the people who appeared who wanted to help me with my kids, my home, my work…everything. And, more importantly, I learned how to let them help. I’d always thrived on handling everything on my own, but because of my new life I had to let go of that independence. It was impossible for me to handle everything Mark and I had handled before. I HAD to let people help me. I even had to ASK for help. It was an entirely new concept. Like no other time before I saw that there were lots of people in my life who wanted to help, who even felt helpless if I didn’t let them help. So, I started to let them; and in the process I became closer to them. I really felt their love and energy in my life.

After my world started to smooth out a bit from the huge turbulent waves of the first few months, I knew there was another step. I had to rely entirely on myself for one thing—taking care of me. Nobody else could do that in the long run. So, each day I began to do something for me.
I quickly realized that it didn’t have to be anything big. I could make a cup of tea and breathe in the steam for a few minutes. Or, take a short walk around the block with my dog. Or, listen to music that made me happy. Or, go to a funny movie. These little ‘me’ moments kept my spirit afloat at times when the alternative was to drown.
Even now, after years have gone by and times still sneak up on me and grip my heart and gut like nothing else can, I breathe and remember to surrender and feel everything I’m feeling. Because one thing I know for sure is that Mark is still a part of my life. Sometimes it’s just a glimpse of something that could have been, which leads to sadness in missing him. But I know that the sadness is simply a reminder that I’m human, alive and can love. And that reminder is a blessing that I will always cherish.”

The author's husband with their sons.
Her most recent article is this one published on February 17th in MindBodyGreen

6 Lessons in Learning to Live Life Without Your Loved One

My world crumbled when I lost my husband unexpectedly. The morning that my children and I discovered his body and realized that he had passed on, is one that will be forever engrained in my memory. At first, it was a memory that brought pain, grief, and sadness. And while two and a half years later, his death is still difficult to face, I’ve come to peace with his passing and have learned to live life well, and even joyfully without him.

There comes a day when every person will face the reality of losing someone close to their heart. Drawing on my own realizations of surviving without my husband, here are six tips to learning how to live life without your loved one:

1. Surrender: As long as you fight the feelings or the reality that your loved one is gone, the longer you will feel pain. Pain comes from resisting the truth, stop resisting and start going deeper into the real feelings. You will hit grief, sadness, anger, confusion, and many more emotions you may never have experienced as deeply before. Those emotions are perfect.

2. Know that you don’t have to ‘get over it.’ Loosing them is part of who you are now. That won’t change. There is nothing you have to fix. There is nothing you have to change. There is nothing you have to do. Nobody expects you to be anything you aren’t. That includes sad, angry, confused, all of it, for however long you want or need to feel those things. That may be until the day you die. And that is okay.

3. Lean on people who care about you. Look around you, there are most likely people who love you and who want to help; family, friends, even co-workers. Understand that they don’t just want to help; they may actually feel helpless unless you let them. Even if you’ve never been able to ask for help before, it is crucial within the first few weeks and months to allow others to support you. You may find that there are more people than you ever imagined who love you and want to help. This is a valuable reminder that you are not alone.

4. Take care of yourself. Once the initial shock wears off, it is important that you take care of you! Try your best to work yourself into a new routine; it doesn’t have to be anything extreme but enough to get used to a new ‘normal.’ Drink tea and read a book, go to the gym, see a funny movie, listen to music that is happy and soothing, and, perhaps most importantly, interact with positive people. As you start to formulate your new routine, stay away from negative things, like alcohol, drugs, the news, and people who bring you down.

5. When the grief pops up, let it! Feel it. Drop to the floor and let it wash through you for as long as it is with you. Savor it. Let it tell you that you’re alive, that you loved that person, and that he or she is still in your life even if only through the feeling of grief.

6. Find your joy. Whether it is coloring, singing, dancing, or just experiencing the beautiful tree in your back yard, dig deep and find out what makes you tick. Then, do it without abandon. Let the lesson of death teach you that life is magic, wonderful, wondrous, passionate and simply alive. 

Enjoy every moment you are able to enjoy. Live like there really is no tomorrow, because after losing a loved one, that is the one fact that is absolutely clear.

Jennifer Hawkins and her two sons
Jennifer Hawkins is an accomplished athlete, businesswoman, mother and author. Her most recent book, The Gift Giver, is the true story of the sudden death of her husband Mark, and the surprising conversations she had with him during the year following his death. 

Twitter: @JenHawkinsLight

What are your experiences with death?

If you have experienced the death of a close family member, spouse, child or friend was it difficult to release the pain and the loss?  Were there things that helped you through it?

Do you have beliefs about what happens after death?  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mojo Monday ~ Honey In Your Heart

Writer and artist Mary Anne Radmacher shares that people have asked her over the years how she maintains a cheerful outlook in the face of clear and occasionally discouraging circumstances.  Her response is that her latest book, only just released on January 24, 2012, called Honey In Your Heart: Ways to See and Savor the Simple Good Things is her visual, concise, inspiring answer to that question.

Here is an excerpt of the introduction: “My days are fully occupied.  The many commitments and tasks in each day would happily fill my minutes from dawn to dusk – if I let them.  I get to set aside time for the sweetest things in life.  I make room in my heart for ‘honey,’ those things which are sweet, healing, and restorative.  At the end of the day, these small sweetnesses make up the taste that lingers.  These become the real treasures that bring richness to life.”

The book has three sections.  The first is called Ways to See.  This is where Mary Anne explores “some practical actions that create space in her heart and life for the more gracious activities, the small celebrations.”  

The second is called Savor.  Here is where you “will find many invitations to celebrate and savor the sweetness, that festive firework of a ‘Yay!’ that explodes in your soul when something seems a bit like a holiday.”  Here she “shares phrases, poems and thoughts that might inspire you to see the honey in your day that you’ve yet to notice.”  

The third section is called Simple, Good Things and this is where Mary Anne shares things that drew an audible “yay” in her experience.  She shares that she wants her list “to be the inspiration for you to begin your own list.”

Honey In the Heart is a beautiful book filled with the inspirational writing and colorful art of Mary Anne Radmacher.  Here is an example of beautiful word art that appears in the book.

She poses thoughtful questions ~ "What is the first things you set your sights upon in the morning?  And how do you invite yourself in to a day that you intend to savor?"

She shares some of her poetry.  Here is a poem about releasing pain from the book:

My pain stays in my wardrobe.
To wear it is always a choice...
The painful lyrics line my shelves.
Each page gives pain its voice...

My pain is in my history,
Giving impulse to my present view
It's brought me where I'm standing and now
I'll tell a bit to you -

For in the telling of the tale, pain feeds its weary soul.
In the space it takes in telling are my hours and
minutes - stole

From the freshness of this moment, from the truth of
this day's dawn, pain steals and rakes and rolls upon the
soiled beauty I garden on.

My pain's been ever with me.
But I tell you this time, clear,
It may have some this far with me,
but today - I'll leave it here.

The book closes beautifully with these words in the Afterword from Mary Anne.

Mary Anne Radmacher has touched the hearts of tens and thousands with her popular cards, books, posters, journals, and gift books.  She conducts workshops and writing seminars on living a full, creative, and balanced life. 

She is the author of the following books:
Lean Forward into Your Life
Us: Celebrating the Power of Friendship
May You Walls Know Joy
Courage Doesn’t Always Roar
Live with Intention
Live Boldly

Please visit her website: