Peace Prayers

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

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Peace, solitude, tranquility

Peace, solitude, tranquility, regardless what you call it, I believe the best way to offset any turbulence in life is to become a homing pigeon led to a space that may not necessarily be your physical home, but present an undisturbed place of respite.

Over these last thirty years, one of my refuges is Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Brookfield, Connecticut.

Whether I am in praise, joy, anguish, exhaustion or discourse, I come here to realign my thoughts and spirit and awaken my soul.I have never witnessed a burning bush experience, magically cured an ailment or miraculously transformed in some way. But I am always removed from the stressful boom of the secular. Humbled, I feel peace at my core, and I am ready to return my higher self to the world. That is, the selfless self that can stop ruminating about ME, turning the “M” into a “W” and forming the word “WE” and actually giving completely of myself to someone else.

Though the grotto is as solitary as its brick edifice, I have never come here without being overwhelmed by the sense of union that I feel as I kneel before the candles, religious statues and personal mementos that others have left, and I discover. This is another way that I get unstuck from my own navel gazing and feel part of a larger whole.

Oddly, over these many years, why others don’t flock here like they would a rock concert, I can’t figure out. Rarely, have I seen one other person visit the grotto while I was there.The grotto is off a busy road, buzzing with motorists that accelerate a good ten miles over the set speed limit. I always think how ironic that these motorists don’t see “it.”

Upon leaving, I always want to call to them.“Eureka!” I want to shout. “Look what’s here!”

But that is like asking a stranger to take a road without surface or form.That would be like something akin to faith.

That would be like saying to the passing motorists, “Come feel how small you are and how little true control you have.”

Most of them would likely rather attend a rock concert.

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

touched by an angel

touched by an angel

How to be a prayer warrior, one line at a time

prayer for strength and courage

prayer for strength and courage

I hope you are still with me on our spiritual journey as we meditate on the long version of the Serenity Prayer, which breaks down to 6 lines of thought for 6 easy, but effective days of prayer.

We are not moving in chronological order, so please join us as we continue.

Line 4, Day 4 is: *

“Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it”

Sin has gotten such a bad rap, it’s sad. When you examine sin, you examine consciousness. The only time sin imprisons us is when we disown our dark side or disengage from it. No matter what we do to look and feel wholesome, pretty, innocent, smart, handsome and savvy, we are sinners. We comprise the world. If we don’t accept this, we fight a lost battle.

The good news is the first step, acceptance, is the hardest, but it is the answer to everything. The most courageous thing we can do is see ourselves the way we really are, not the way we would want to be. We don’t do this alone. God works through people. God works through you. He is the ever-present anchor. He wants you to hold your head up, look squarely at yourself and reckon with the fear. Only at that point can you embrace change. And when you change yourself, the world shifts for the better.

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

* Yesterday was a day off, so I skipped a day!

Strive to be happy

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 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hears be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
There is a very special non-denominational chapel at High Watch Recovery Center in Kent Connecticut where I spent a good deal of my younger years. In that very place, a mishmash of everything religious and spiritual, for the very first time in my life, a life filled with pain, desperation and sadness, I felt true faith because it came from within. One of the things that influenced me so much was what was printed on the wall…”Desiderata….Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” desiderata_by_striveforpeace
I left High Watch on a venture; to sing my unique song fully as my heart cried in despair; to fail in the eye of defeat—get up, fail again; to love without reserve, on an uncertain, sometimes unsteady path, step up, trudge forward, head up, eyes fixated on a mustard seed of hope.thCAHUMSUY
Stay tuned!…until next time…faith forward!
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10-tips to help you cope with crisis

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Whether you have lost a loved one, a job or you find yourself trying to live through some other sudden unplanned event that has caused major turmoil in your life, here is a tip sheet highlighting 10 points that I hope will help you.

  1. On those days when you think you won’t make it through the day, tell yourself that all you have to do is make it—only for that very second that you have at that moment. Being mindful of the environment around you is helpful when getting through the tough days. For instance, when you are sweeping the floor, tell yourself: “I am now sweeping the floor. I am now grabbing the dustpan. The dustpan is silver.”
  2. Cut yourself slack. Buy yourself flowers or that new lawnmower you have been obsessing for months about. Sleep in…but….
  3. Force yourself to get out of bed and face the day ahead even though sometimes it can feel so unbearable. Don’t overdo unhealthy behavior like hiding in bed or over indulging on sweets and carbs. These kind of things may feel so good momentarily, but are no good in the long run. For example, eating ice cream is permissible, but after you devour the first gallon full, keep the lid on the next gallon and find something healthier to replace your impulse. For instance, get outdoors for a walk. If the weather is too hot or too cold or too rainy, the neighborhood mall is always an option for some strolling, jogging or people-watching, but leave the plastic at home; overspending can be another quick elixir that can nip you in the bud in the long run.
  4. It may be difficult to swallow, but even though you clearly did not create the hapless circumstances, and were not in charge of the circumstances, you ARE in charge of YOU. Referring back to #3, put the ice cream down. Try and keep the temper tantrums at bay. Steer away from the negative thoughts, the stinkin’ thinking.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. In the darkest of times when you have had a power surge, borrow their light and get a good dose of recommended Vitamin D.
  6. Chart your own course of healing. Whether partaking in therapy, support groups, aromatherapy, attending church services or talking a walk in nature, only you know what will help heal YOUR wounds the best.
  7. Chart your own timeline. Likewise, even though there are documented “stages” of healing, you YOURSELF are the true navigator of your route to recovery—whether it takes days, months or years, don’t compromise your healing timetable for anyone. That would be like squeezing into someone else’s pair of pants. Find your natural and organic North.
  8. You alone are the writer of ACT II in your life, which, after you have experienced a crisis, will obviously be different from ACT I. If you can, try and not label your circumstances as negative occurrences, just as “different” situations. With this in mind, plot your ACT II with an overdose of creativity NOT macabre! Start the brainstorming and come up with a great future plan, whether signing up for classes, embarking on an exotic travel adventure or a simple reunion with an old-time friend for coffee.
  9. Realize no matter how scary it all feels, you are NOT alone! Most people have been through earth-shattering events—no matter how “sane” they may look! Don’t compare your outsides to someone’s insides.
  10. Have faith. Refer back to #5. Bask in someone else’s faith long enough until you risk living and loving again!

Until next time…faith forward!

A break for freedom

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1freedom

In the fall of 1984, I had hit bottom for the final of the final of the final time (but really final!) and unchained myself from all addiction, including, one year later, a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. I don’t want this post to be about my alcohol/drug past, which reared its ugly head in adolescence.  I want it to be about freedom. Oddly, without a bit of pre-planning, this topic came to me on Independence Day, but to me, every day is Independence Day. The one thing that no one can ever take away from me is how hard I worked—and spent every last dime—to earn my freedom. It took me ten years—my debt paid in 1994—finally to finish paying my rehab center in New Hampshire. I also feel proudest of the fact that no one ever paid a dime towards my years, and I mean, years of therapy. Sad people view therapy as a taboo. (I have discovered that the more someone equates therapy with a dirty word, he or she is the one who needs it the most!) Anyway, much like a recommended yearly physical on the body, I think people should have a regularly scheduled look-see on the mind too. At this point in mid-life, I can say, no one, absolutely no one, knows themselves better than I do. I owe this not only to hours of therapy, but also support groups, retreats, seminars and everything, including the kitchen sink stuff that I have done to peel every stinkin’ layer (ouch!) off me and uncover myself. ME.

As a young child, the real ME never emerged. Like many, I was polluted by adults who tried to carve me in their own image. Their paddles of shame bludgeoned my God-given spirit and left me flat. Thus, I had an instant love affair with anything outside myself that lifted me up and allowed me to be my authentic self–or so I thought. Of course, these outside things ended up, ironically, enslaving me until I broke free.

Freedom comes not from fancy cars and good-smelling perfumes, it comes from being who you are and having at least one good friend who will accept you on the days you look like you rolled around a dumpster!thCAHCR5FDfreedom2

Three years ago I experienced crisis in my life.  I held onto my house with bloody fingernails. I attempted to hold onto my marriage. I held onto everything that I thought defined me, but the truth is, I was holding onto a world that enslaved me. Crisis stripped me of so much again, but, paradoxically, gave me back myself. I am far greater than a house. Far greater than the car I drive or the job I do. Sure, a lot of “friends” who opted out of a stressful situation, dropped me cold, but I have a total of two friends today that have been my glue; a wonderful boyfriend who accepts me as I am. I have been gifted by co-workers who sometimes prove to be my lifeline. I have my children who know me perhaps too well and whose presence has allowed me never to have a bucket list to meet, because the unconditional act of mothering, to me, supersedes everything else in life.

Bondage, whether to money, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, people, places or memories scares me and robs my faith. Lately, with a birthday looming over my head, I’ve had a hard time fighting the bondage of aging too. I’m afraid that my body will fail me.

God willing, if my body does not fail me, I may end up pushing around a shopping cart with my belongings on the streets one day when I am seventy, but I’ll tell you one thing, I’ll be free of mental anguish, which you can have regardless of what you do or where you live. It all started so many years ago in New Hampshire, walking down a very long hospital corridor towards the exit door, fearful of the life I knew I had to go back to and revisit so many demons outside those walls. Of course the official motto in New Hampshire is “Live free or die” and to me that means peeling off the chains, inching forward, breathing, first shallow, then with practice down to your diaphragm in a place where every last tad of you, down to the wart hidden in the nape of your neck, has found a peaceful home.thCAFTUKWWfeedom3

Until next time….Faith forward!

Angst of Anger

The tongue has the power of life and death.

–Proverbs 18:21

MH900282861  Crisis has brought out the volcano in me. I erupt, cover the landscape with lava, emit smithereens of debris on my warpath. Fortunately, I am over exaggerating. In retrospect, I could have striven through my world these last two plus years in volcano form. However, being a seeker of self-truth all my life, I have become an expert in knowing myself. I know my motives at all times. My self-truth. My vulnerabilities, in particular. With this type of knowledge, I have reaped a good bounty of self-control.14555 MH900282861I remember in my (pre-therapy) younger years, I was a volcano. This out-of-control characteristic gave me a self-centered, fake sense of control. A meltdown would give me an instant of relief, but the consequences far outweighed the cheap moment of gratification.

One of the best depictions of the different types of anger is compiled by Roger Fritz, MS, Life Coach in downloadable form.

Living through crisis can be a cheap copout for volcanic behaviors, but is it really healthy, productive and proactive? Yes, it can be a period of sleeping less, doing more; certainly feeling less than optimal, but does that give a license to deliver poor behavior to those around me? Years ago, nearly thirty to be exact, I started working very hard at being responsible for my own behavior. In the end, or somewhere in the middle of this very intense period of self-discovery, I decided that I wanted to inspire people from the inside out and NOT kill them—despite what I was going through or feeling at any given moment. Since I had spent my adolescence in darkness, I promised God that I would walk for the rest of my years, to the best of my ability, spreading light. In essence, I made a conscious decision to become the mirror of my world.

To bring this idea into the present, a couple of weeks ago, I had a doctor’s appointment. I had rushed to the office, arrived fifteen minutes early in the hopes that I would get out early and meet up with the “gals” for some needed downtime. Well, nearly an hour later and too late to meet my social plans, the receptionist finally called me into the office. The minute I walked into the room, admittedly, I was ready to tear into the ultrasound tech whom I encountered. In no uncertain terms, I told her I was mad as hell.

She started to apologize, saying, “I’m sorry. I know you are mad. You have every right to be. We are running behind…it was out of our control. Every patient had unforeseen problems that we had to deal with.”

Then full-knowing that I did not want to bust this woman with my lava outpour, I said, “Look, I don’t want to explode. It’s not your fault. It’s been a tough week…weeks…actually, it’s been a couple of really tough years.”

“Yeah, me too,” she responded to my disbelief.

This began a intense dialogue between us, reminding me that I wasn’t the only one in the world having to deal with crisis.  As it turned out, not only was she falling apart physically—knee replacement and so on—mind you she was only in her 40s—but she had been on the brink of homelessness! Imagine an ultrasound technician who couldn’t find employment for five years. What a sad state of affairs. The more this woman revealed, the more I realized that God constantly was at work in my life. Instead of having a cheap moment of exploding at this woman as if she were a punching bag or other object to use selfishly, I got to know her for who she was—a mirror of my own vulnerabilities, my own humanness, my own weaknesses—and strengths. Our intense encounter brought me hope—and faith. We faced life’s loaded gun chambers and didn’t flinch. We stood up to them as victors not victims.

MH900229149Although I had to nix my evening plans, I walked out of the doctor’s office with a bounce. I realized how this woman had strengthened my faith with her honesty and empathy. For the ninth hundredth time, I learned that I was not doing the arduous journey alone; that I did have the company of fellow travelers. One of the tricks, though, to meet these voyagers is to just be myself…in human terms, not volcanic proportions; the payoff is by not getting stuck in darkness as deep as lava, I am able to move forward on a path lit with superabundant light.

Until next time….Faith forward

I hate blogging and other true confessions

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comAnd you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John—8:32

As much as I feel like penning these posts can be an intrusion on my life and my privacy, I seem to be motivated to write them each week. A dual dilemma it is for me. On one hand, I am a painfully private individual. Whether from my own choosing or making or not (still not sure about that!), my life has always reeled in front of me like a made-for-TV, sometimes blockbuster movie, and, I suppose, that under the heartbreak, the soil, the sadness, sorrow, and the pure adventure of it, anybody could discover a lot of gossip to skewer. Needless to say, I have fallen victim to the backlash of blabbermouths.100707lostinheaven

On the other hand, I have found that my life stuff has given me an overload of empathy for others. I am willing to tear down my walls, expose my soul, and share my authentic self for the pure motive of helping someone else. I mean, a few folks have done this for me, and because of their generosity of truth, I pass it on. So I feel an obligation with this blog to pass it on, despite what readers think or say.

As I mentioned before, my friend and co-worker Aileen O’Sullivan helped spearhead WTF, Where’s the Faith.

“Do it for me,” she had said at one point, which ended my more than two-year mental debate of whether I should make this blog a reality or not.

So, at least for now, as much as I hate blogging and confessing (especially from a public platform), I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. When I start creeping myself out (thinking too much about the critics around me and inside my mind), I promise I’ll just blog about my feelings and have a little faith in the process. After all, my mission for this blog is to help and inspire you to move through this critical time in your life. As I said previously, “If I can give a wee bit of hope to just one person, my mission is complete.”

What it boils down to is, no matter what I put out there, if I do it with humility, an open heart and soul, and have a little faith then why over think it—or think at all—it is a no-brainer, and my life, whether perceived as good or bad, no doubt supplies an abundance of fodder for a blogger’s think tank.

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