How to Practice Honesty

Good morning everyone, and top of the day to you on this lovely Memorial Day Weekend! The search term was “how to practice honesty,” and today I’m going to address this and the ways in which honesty can show up for you in your life.

When I refer to honesty, I am certainly including being honest and not cheating, lying, or stealing. Yet, I want to address the ways in which to practice honesty with yourself and others about who you really are, what you really feel.

Do you avoid looking at yourself and owning your behavior, both positive and negative? This was me for my life until I had many years in sobriety. The issue was, I just couldn’t be honest with myself about who I was and what I’d done. I was terrified to do so, and too ashamed. And I certainly couldn’t see my good points.

Gradually, as I learned to manage my fear, I began to be able to take an honest look at myself, owning my behavior, my actions, my words, owning my greatness. Can you relate? Am I describing you?

Consider this… do you shrink away from practicing honesty about who and what you really are because of fear of what you will find, because of shame, or because you just don’t know that’s your job? If you are doing these things, I suggest there’s another way…

I suggest there is the way of looking yourself right in the eye, in the heart, and openly admitting to yourself exactly who and what you are. Some of this means admitting to your strengths, your beauty, your good points, your greatness. No more pretending to be small. Practice honesty!

Spend some time making a list of all your strong traits, all the things that make you a grand person. Don’t play small. Really sing your praises. Sit with that list when you’re done and just “be” with who and what you are at your core. Then, take a period of 3-4 days and track every good thought, word, and deed you had during that 3-4 days. Practice honesty about who you really are. Revel in your kindness, your goodness. Know that no one can take that away from you.

Then make a list of your not-so-good points, the times you were selfish, or arrogant, or unkind to others. Spend time being honest about this. Then, take a 3-4 day time period and consider all the unkind and mean things you thought, said, or did during that time period and list them out. You will have a list of areas for improvement.

This is an excellent time to practice honesty, as you list out even the things for which you hold shame or embarrassment. Apologize for harms done to others in order to set the slate clean. Then, move forward and try to improve upon that part of yourself.

So, practice honesty by performing a self-appraisal and really looking at your positive and negative points. When you are done, you will have an honest appraisal of yourself. You will discover more peace as a result of this appraisal.

 

 

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Are Inner Strength and Spirituality the Same Thing?

Good morning to each of you and welcome to another day! May it be a great one for you! I had an interesting search term this morning. It was “are inner strength and spirituality the same thing?” I want to speak to this today.

Spirituality is defined by Webster as being of spiritual nature and spiritual is defined as of the soul or spirit, sacred, devotional. It does not need to be connected to religion or the church to be considered spiritual. For example, I consider myself very spiritual, believing in a higher power that guides all that is, but I do not adhere to or practice any religion.

Inner strength I would describe as the strength of character, the strength that comes from within me to sustain a peaceful existence. I see, or consider, that my spirituality enhances and adds to my inner strength. When I am not feeling strong within, I pray to my higher power and I receive inner strength.

Given the way I am defining these two terms, spirituality and inner strength, I see them as two separate and distinct things, yet intertwined. I think that people who practice some form of spirituality have more inner strength, as they have more faith upon which to draw.

There are my thoughts on spirituality and inner strength. What are your thoughts on these? Are they the same or distinct? I invite you to leave a comment and let us know.

I want to let you know that I have a new video on my home page about my new free 3-module video course on finding inner peace through forgiveness. The video course consists of three tips on how to forgive. If you are struggling with lack of inner peace, head on over and get the videos. I believe they will benefit you for the rest of your life.

 

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Feelings of Grace

“Feelings of Grace” was the search term many times over this morning, so I will write about grace. I invite you to look up the meaning of the word in the dictionary or in wikopedia, as the description is lengthy. Just to recap, though, it is a pleasing quality, a favor, or thanks. It is an attractive quality, feature, or manner.

For me, grace is something that comes to me, that is a gift. Here are the image and verse that are in my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. 

Sweep of Grace

“Gently, quietly, an unearned favor of great beauty and pleasure is bestowed upon me.”

 It swoops down on me and does things like give me the ability to show true compassion for another’s plight, another’s sufferings. And I mean at a very deep level. And grace allows me to offer understanding to that other through my words of solace and comfort. Grace is that gift that came to me in the form of a book that has allowed me to even know what words of solace and comfort are actually comforting and which are not.

I got that information, btw, from The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Edition, by John W. James and Russell Friedman. This book is appropriate for any of us because they deal with all losses that we experience, such as the familiar – due to death or divorce – yet they expand the scope of the need for grieving by adding losses due to moving when we were children, or even adults, to moving or losing a job, or losing a pet. They define it as any loss and we all have endured many losses during the course of our lives which they contend we have not addressed and which continue to affect our feelings, and, thus, our actions and behaviors in the world.

Grace is that pleasing favor which descends upon me and allows me to write these blogs, to share about my past, my personal life in a desire to  be useful to you. It just quietly shows up. I feel knowingness deep within when it does, and that’s what part of being in grace is for me. Deep knowingness, abiding peace.

Grace is one of the multiple gifts I have received as a result of my sobriety. I’m sure I felt grace before getting sober, yet, I didn’t recognize what it was, probably thought it was my due right and something I caused through my efforts. Not that getting to grace doesn’t involve action on your part – it does – yet, I am referring to things that occur in my life due to the Universe’s grace, or God’s grace, that I set in motion the energy from which it evolved.

This is getting very deep for me and I will close by saying that grace is one of those things that brings a slow smile to you face, a deep contentment to your heart and soul, and I invite you to let it in by relaxing and seeing what flows into your life after you take action on a need, want, or dream.

May you have joy and peace on your journey.

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The Gift of Choice in Sobriety

Once we have realized the realm of possibilities open to us, we discover the gift of choice in sobriety. Like the little man in his top hat pictured to the left, we can raise our arm high and celebrate the choices that we have.

The reality is that we have a choice about everything that occurs in our lives. Even when we think we have no choice, we do.

When I was in the throes of my healing work, I thought I had no choice about my feelings of angst. The fact was, I was exercising my choice, allowing those feelings to overcome me.

At the same time, I was choosing to heal, simply because I chose to get sober, and because I chose to do the healing work.  If we are working on self-improvement, then we have made the choice to heal and to grow. Even if we’re not consciously aware of it, we have made a choice.

All choices have consequences. For example, I chose to stay in a dysfunctional marriage in which I was bullied, demeaned, and criticized continually. It took me a long time to choose to leave it behind, and even then, I wasn’t acting consciously with purpose.

The consequence of me staying in that marriage was a wounded self-image and esteem. I was accepting an assault against my being, rather than getting out and moving away from the relationship. That was a choice I was making.

When we look at the choices we are making, consider the consequences to ourselves and others. In the journey to serenity, peace, and a strong sobriety, we want to make choices that are in our highest good. Sometimes the consequences of those choices are difficult, yet, if they’re for our highest good, we will get help from our Source.

Today, look at all the choices you are making in your life. Are they in your highest good? If not, what is keeping you from making a different choice that IS in your highest good? Walk through your fears with faith and courage, and consider making a different choice. See the gift of choice that is yours, and exercise it.

 

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Serenity Can Be Yours

Balance of Serenity

“I am serene, carried by the winds to places where I am held in balance with great beauty and strength.” This is the verse that accompanies this image in my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart A Journey of Healing.

Serenity is defined as the art or state of being serene, which is defined as un-troubled, calm, and tranquil. It is a space we find ourselves living in when we go through the process which has been presented in this blog.

When living a life of serenity, we find ourselves unruffled by calamity; instead, we are able to take things in stride. We do not become freaked out, or “wigged out” about things in our life when they go awry.

We are able to calmly assess situations and react with assuredness and certainty. Certainly, we are still concerned about difficult things that arise, but they no longer throw us off-kilter.

To get to this place of serenity, we have looked at ourselves and have begun to heal old wounds through the practice of acceptance and forgiveness.

We no longer attract to our lives the drama that we were involved in before, thus allowing us to remain serene through difficult times. Our ability to be in that space of serenity strengthens our sobriety, and the more we stay sober, the more serenity we experience. 

All of this is achieved through using the process that has been described in this blog, from the development of trust in a power greater than ourselves, to courage. Then we throw in honesty, openness, willingness, and humility, and we are able to look at ourselves through a self-appraisal, in order to discover things that need to be corrected, righted, or changed.

Once this occurs, we are able to offer kindness, gentleness, tolerance, and respect to others and to ourselves. We learn the art of forgiveness and we are set free to live our lives, fulfill our dreams. 

Today, look at how far you have come on your journey to serenity and peace. Be humble, yet commending of the actions you have taken to get to this point. Notice how your sobriety is strengthened. Enjoy your serenity today.

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How to Cultivate Our Differences

Thank you for joining me on today’s post about cultivating differences. This is a very important piece on the way to living a sober and peaceful life.

Cultivation of Differences

Cultivation of Differences

We ask, require, demand that those around us be like us, share our attributes, our beliefs. And in so doing, we compare… one to another. In that process, do we not squash the spirit of one who is different from us – one whose thoughts and dreams and talents lie in a different place?

“We are like the gates. Although similar in design, what thrives in one spot does not grow in another. On one, there is corrosion or patina, while on another is mellowed brass.

“One is not more beautiful than another. Each has beauty in its own right, if we will only look… if we will only see.”

I wrote the first and third stanzas in my journal in 2002 as a result of my work and healing around the issue of always having been compared to my sisters and always having been found deficient. In 2004, when I photographed this gate, I added the stanza that starts “we are like the gates…”

Certainly, the message is clear about color, and cultivating the differences with people of different color. There are many other differences among us that can also be cultivated. There are different talents, dreams, and occupations. If we would stop comparing each other and instead cultivate our differences, the world would be a gentler place in which to live.

How do we do that? We become secure about ourselves first, secure in who we are as individuals, strong about our beliefs of who we are. Then, we approach others with a sense of curiosity about who they are – their beliefs, their customs.

We applaud their uniqueness, recognizing that our differences make our lives more rich, more full. We respect them for these differences, even if we believe someone has more “value” as a person if they go to college, for example. We dispel that myth, because each of us has a calling, and we respect and encourage everyone’s calling. We recognize that what we do is not who we are.

How do you cultivate our differences? Do you compare, one to another, or do you celebrate our differences? Today, show respect and encouragement to those who are different than you. Become curious about the customs and beliefs of those whom you will meet throughout the day. Notice how good that feels in your heart, your soul. 

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Getting Past Sorrow and Despair

Good morning. Today I will deal with getting past sorrow and despair. In the book, they are separate topics, yet, today I am combining them as they often go hand-in-hand.

Face of Despair

Sorrow is defined by Webster as a mental suffering or anguish caused by loss, disappointment, or regret. It can include grief, which is a more intense anguish related to a specific misfortune or disaster.

When experiencing sorrow and/or grief, one’s thoughts can get to those of despair, defined as being without hope, being hopeless. All of these emotions are quite debilitating and, in my case, were accompanied by depression.

Sorrow and despair left me with no will to live and, in fact, I was praying to God to let me die, as I felt there was no purpose to the pain I had endured during my life-time, that my experiences were just a torment to me.

When one feels these emotions, it is a common tendency to want to numb the feelings by drinking, eating, shopping, or various other activities that we do obsessively. This only enhances the sorrow and despair.

In my case, I felt the sorrow and despair into my sobriety, up until I was about five years sober. At that point, I had an experience that dispelled both of these emotions. I had the opportunity to discover my purpose in life, and I felt needed, valued, and  that my experiences were valuable to others.

Quite by accident, I realized I could help others by relaying my story. Suddenly, my life had meaning and purpose. I no longer felt that deep hopelessness that is characteristic of despair. I no longer felt sorrow and grief over my life.

I was not able to do this alone. I sought counseling, took medication for my depression, and joined a support group to deal with my drinking issues. Then I set about the arduous and scary task of looking at my emotions and dealing with them. I started to take responsibility for my healing.

If you are feeling sorrow and grief from a loss of something or someone in your life, know that there are stages you will go through before you gain peace. Allow those stages occur; don’t fight them. Know that you are working your way to eventual peace.

It may be frightening for you to face your emotions; be gentle with yourself as you look. Most importantly, get help. Talk to someone – a trusted friend, clergy, a therapist.

As you deal with your sorrow and it lessens, despair will also diminish. Most of all, stick with it through the tough times, for your life has value to others in your world. We each have value in one way or another. It is up to you to discover what your value is. This will happen naturally as a result of dealing with these difficult emotions.

I wish you well as you deal with getting past sorrow and despair. Remember that your life has value. Know that eventually you will get to the bottom of your emotions and life will begin to turn around. Commit to yourself to stick with it, and ask for help from others and the divine forces of the Universe. Remember, you are working toward finding inner peace. 

 

 

 

 

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At A Crossroads

Good morning. We are at a crossroads. We have completed all the topics in the book. I will start over with fear and progress through the book again. And I am requesting your help.

The whole idea of this blog is to acquaint you with my book’s topics, which go from fear, worthlessness, and despair through self-awareness and discovery, to joy and peace. I can do this in one of four ways and would like you to tell me what you, as the readers, would like to see.

I can: 1) go through the topics again and talk about how I learned and grew from them. 2) I can talk in the “we” voice, about how each of these topics relate to us in general, in my observation. 3) I can talk about sobriety and what I have experienced and learned about each topic while sober. 4) I can intersperse my writing with video. Just bear in mind, I am much better writing then when in front of a camera.

Those are my options. I would love to take this blog in the direction which you would like to see. Please provide me feedback. It would be most helpful. Please include if you would like to continue to see the picture associated with each topic. Thank you!

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