Archive | December 2012

2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

A New Year’s Theme


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Here we stand on the brink of 2013 – the year that many thought would not exist. But really, it is a wonderful year to be approaching. For me, 13 is my favorite number. My birthday is August 13. I turned 13 on Friday the 13th, and 13 has always come as a lucky number for me. I’m excited to enter 2013!

I am not one to make broad sweeping resolutions – those do not seem to work for anyone I know. But I do have a New Year’s practice. As many do, I reflect on the year that is passing and try to take in the parts that have changed me or altered my life. But I don’t concentrate on that very long – the past is gone. A lesson, an experience, a fleeting set of moments that have moved me forward.

What I like to do is focus on what energy and spiritual theme seems to be drawing me into the new year. I’ve had various themes throughout the years – I’ve had years focused on freedom (and finding mine), learning/exploration, empowerment, etc. Each year I have been able to reflect back at the end and see the theme as it weaved its way throughout my days, weeks, and months and actually come alive.

82964818106098376_3LmOcdCX_b2012 was about VALUING MYSELF (and my gifts). It wasn’t about ego but rather about trying to see what others see as the value that I bring to relationships and situations. It was about quelling the self-doubt and self-criticizing and allowing my gifts to be appreciated by me. It wasn’t  just about identifying them, but using them and seeing what I uniquely bring into the world. It has been both liberating and an awesome responsibility. It has been a year of growth for me. It has been a year full of “I AM” statements that have turned into “I DO” actions. It has been a fulfilling year and one that has strengthened my soul.

So what is next? This year – 2013, is a big one for me! It’s the year I turn 50. I’m starting a new job in my company. My son is getting married in July. My daughter will be away at a co-op for 9 out of the 12 months while planning her wedding for 2014. Big changes and shifts are at play and I must take that into consideration. But the theme of my year is never really about the changes others are living through, but rather, what my spiritual journey is taking me through.

549456_337409909654335_1145065317_nNow it is time for me to declare my new year’s theme. This year, for 2013, my theme is DISCIPLINE. Believe me when I say that this is not the word that I “want” to be drawn to. But I know, in this moment of my life, this is the right theme for me. It will help me prepare for the changes on a physical, financial, emotional, spiritual and intellectual level. And so I prepare over the next couple of days to fully appreciate my gifts at the close of 2013 and align my heart and actions toward discipline in 2013. I’m excited to see what comes alive for me on this new year’s  journey.

Choose your New Year theme and be blessed!

A Special, Precious Moment …


Jesus-Mary-Joseph-manger-sceneWe live all year for these moments – these special Christmas moments. Whether in the hearts of children looking forward to Christmas plays, cookies, and visits from Santa to load the tree and stockings. Or whether in the hearts of compassionate adults looking forward to time with family and friends, special songs, and thoughtful giving to those who are less fortunate. These longings, traditions, and special celebrations are what we measure a year by sometimes. The waiting makes them both fleeting and precious. Sharing a smile and a surprise is the fun part. We spend time in labors of love by baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, and random acts of kindness.

All this joy, and yet it is not enough.

Because Christmas, while it is celebrated in these and many other ways, is not complete until we reflect on the TRUTH. Take a moment or two as you hustle and bustle about your day to remember why we even have this holiday at all. That tiny baby, born so long ago with one purpose – to redeem and save the souls of mankind. With reverence for the season, I share with you 2 great songs – from a parent’s perspective.

With all you are and with all you do and believe, I pray that you be blessed. Merry Christmas!

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I collect beauty …


rose-garden-9-bo-liI am a collector of sorts. No, not the expensive art or priceless jewels, although I appreciate those things as well. What I collect is simply described as …. beauty.

I see the beauty in the smiles and laughter of my loved ones so I collect joy.

I see beauty in the intelligence of teachers and mentors so I collect thoughts.

I see beauty in the hearts of those who forgive so I collect compassion.

I see beauty in the product of artists and crafters so I collect talent.

I see beauty in nature and the created world so I collect inspiration.

I see beauty in the hands of volunteers and those that serve so I collect mercy.

I see beauty in the acceptance of friends and loved ones so I collect appreciation.

I see beauty in the passion of those who create change so I collect motivation.

I see beauty in you so I collect friendship.

These are just a few of the things that I see and collect every day. I am enriched by the beauty in this world. Life is infinitely more precious because of the beauty that surrounds me.

Find your beauty and be blessed!

Keep moving …


helping-handThere are so many days and so many ways that I need reminded that I’m on the right path. I know what I believe, what I feel, and what I desire. And yet those things seem to find ways of falling short of what others expect or want from me. And sometimes, they fall short of what I believe God calls me to do and be.

And so, I stand humbly reaching out my hand in love, in friendship, and in faith. I seek to balance the spiritual life I live with the physical life I’m leading. What I know for sure is that is not an easy task. It stretches me to places I don’t expect.  I sometimes need to choose something that is greater than the things I want. I must choose the things that align with a greater purpose.

To those I disappoint or hurt, I apologize.

To those I inspire, I pray it is enough to encourage you to keep moving on your positive path.

And for me, I will pray more, listen harder, and continue to seek to move in the “right” direction.

Pray for me, pray with me, and be blessed!

Mourning on the morning after …


Why-do-women-cryThe morning after the tragedy in a Connecticut elementary school and I find myself, as many others in our society, mesmerized by the question “why?”

I see commentaries on the gun laws and I know there are valid points on both sides. Isn’t that true of most polarizing issues? Guns in our society are too easy to get and yet they also have prevented other tragedies because someone used them to stop additional harm. No matter which side of the debate one sits, in the end, it isn’t the weapon but rather the hand that it’s in that matters.

And so I look at the hands and hearts of those who create such terror in this world. I notice it’s often not the one that people suspect would do such a thing. They are quiet or intelligent or otherwise anonymous people who turn in some moment of madness to a violence that not only shatters their life but the lives of innocent people existing within their reach.

If we peel the onion a little deeper I’m sure we will find that once again this is a person who suffered a life where they didn’t fit in. Their heart wasn’t raised to hate but rather learned to hate by the subtle ways that people were cruel to them or shunned them. And the why becomes clearer. Not the why of the choice of victims – that we will never know. But the why of the hatred and destruction of their soul to a point that slashing the love of anyone else seems like the only way to fight back.

Our society doesn’t seem to care about why until the tragedy strikes. In spite of the previous tragedies, we still tolerate bullying. We still applaud reality shows that egg on fighting and ridicule. We fill movie theaters and game stores to flood more and more violence into our daily lives. We become callous to the violence that we let in until the unthinkable, massive violence finally hits our consciousness. And for a time we step back and love more and forgive more as a momentary way to soothe our pain.

The why isn’t that some madman hated children. The why is that he felt hated.

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And what do I think we can do about it? Love. Love is always the answer. Love the children who are different. Love the people who create positive role models and positive toys, and positive consequences. Love enough to accept differences vs. fighting against them. Love people so that they see a different answer to how to end their sorrow. We haven’t arrived at this morning after quickly. We have arrived here over years of degrading the support systems of love in our way of living. We take love of neighbor out of our way of living – heck many of us don’t even know our neighbors anymore. We teach intolerance of religions vs. acceptance of religions. We tolerate the hatred of symbols of love instead of sharing any and all symbols of love. We tolerate the degrading of our societies support systems. We value the dollar more than we value the help for those who are sick – mentally or physically. We choose to punish vs. forgive. We choose to strike vs. listen. We find ourselves here today because a little at a time we loosened our grip on values that put people first. We stopped loving in order to do what? Own more? Not offend? Compete? I don’t know why we let this happen but I know that our society has.

If that man had known that he was loved, in my heart and soul I believe this morning would have been very different. And now his heinous act makes it intolerable to think we, as a society, could have played any part.

And so I pray that love returns. I pray that we finally get it. I pray that I remember in my day to day life to no just love those I choose but those that I see who appear unlovable. May my conscious choice to love in some way ripple into the world to save someone else from creating or living a personal day of mourning on the morning after.

Let us pray. Let us love. Let us be blessed!

Heartbreak in Newtown, CT


jesus-holding-girlHeartbreak abounds today … again, as we hear news of the school shooting in Newtown, CT at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The evil that overtook the heart, mind, and soul of the person (or persons) who perpetrated this horrific crime is so complete that it is unfathomable to most. I cannot stop tears from welling up at just the thought of the horrific scene and the terror that was in the hearts of those children and adults on the scene. And my heart aches even more when I think of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and extended family and friends who are finding out that their unimaginable loss is real.

What must we do to heal this nation of this blight of violence? We must join together to love and to heal. We must surround these families with prayers and acts of compassionate comfort. The world needs those of us who carry the light of love to shine – brighter, bigger, and with more power. We must hug our children and loved ones even tighter. We must let no parting go by without saying “I love you.” We must love completely in this moment because we have no promise for tomorrow.

I feel so utterly crushed by the knowledge that this level of hatred and evil exists in the world, and even more so that it exists in this country. This pain is magnified by the timing – just 10 days before Christmas when we celebrate the joy and innocence in the eyes of children. There is no time of the year that loss of children is felt more deeply.

I fall on my knees in prayer. Join me … and be blessed!

12/12/12 Celebration!!!!


12-12-12Well I’m seeing it all over the place – 12/12/12 is the last triple number date we’ll see in our lifetimes. It’s been a fun little quirky thing to see 01/01/01, 02/02/02 ….. 11/11/11 all come and go. Nothing big unless you are into numbers. But firsts and lasts always seem to be significant for people so I thought for this one – the last, I would “celebrate” 12/12/12 in my own way.

And what is my way you ask? The same way I like to celebrate everything else – by spreading the love, sharing positivity, and making the world a little better. So today, in honor of this auspicious (well, okay, maybe not auspicious, but certainly unique) date in history, here’s how the celebration is going to go in my world. I will have a “12 Things Party” that lasts all day. I will:

kindness21 – Share 12 smiles

2 – Do 12 acts of random kindness

3 – Pray for 12 additional people

4 – Give 12 hugs to people who need them

5 – Give 12 compliments that are genuine and real

6 – Donate 12 items to charity

7 – Listen to 12 joyful songs

8 – Send 12 thank you notes to people I appreciate

9 – Deliver 12 positive quotes on my FB page

10 – Give 12 “gifts” to strangers

11 – Recognize 12 people for their hard work

12 – Encourage 12 people to see their true worth, beauty, and value

That’s alot of celebration – I best get to it! I hope you find 12 wonderful ways to improve your world today. And along the way … be blessed!

A Holy Moment


angel praiseToday I was in the office and my cube-mate was playing some holiday music by consent of our small group. Most were happy and light and it was fun to hear them. Then one song came on that made me stop. I’ve heard it many times but for some reason in that moment, I found myself really, really listening as if for the first time. It was Josh Groban singing  O Holy Night. His voice reverberated all the way to my soul and I was engulfed in a wave of praise and prayer. I had goose bumps and I could almost see every angel drop to their knees and join in the song. It was a tender, precious, holy moment in remembrance of an even greater holy moment.

I couldn’t pass up the chance to give you the same opportunity. And for my non-Christian friends, I hope you can simply enjoy the instrument that is his voice.

Enjoy and be blessed! 

Little Angel Abby


15984_10200119711252767_96737377_nUnfortunately in life, it becomes so easy to forget the simple little miracles and memories that are part of being around a baby. It’s been so many years since my kids were little. They are grown and making their own lives in the world. I am ever so proud of who they are becoming and the people they are choosing to bring into their journey with them.

IMAG0234And even though I enjoy who they are today, I do sometimes try to recall the details of their infancy. In so many ways it seems like just a short time ago, and yet the mind only remembers their lives in flashes and snapshots. I wish I could watch the movies I took when they were small but unfortunately those tapes were accidentally taped over years ago. That was a stunning loss and I never got back into the habit of filming them. Now, I wish I had.  And so I look at pictures and try to recall the details – how they sounded, the smell of their sweet little heads, their smiles, and the good and silly things they did along the way. Those two children have been the delight of my existence and my greatest gift to the world. (And I know yours have been that for you as well.)

Today I was finally well enough to get a chance to spend some quality time with my newest little niece, Abby. Oh she’s an adorable little angel! It was a pleasure to feel the weight of her tiny body in the crook of my arm as she fell asleep. I giggled at her ever-changing expression while she was in dreamland. To hear that tiny little voice give a cry to shake off the hiccups and coo a bit here and there was a treat for my heart.

There is nothing better than the emerging expression of a new little human being awakening to the world around them. They are full of wonder and unbridled potential. Just being in the presence of this sweet little angel brought a sense of awe to my heart. I am blessed.

I pray you be blessed too!

Strategic Disengagement


office_fun_MichalTaliStrategic Disengagement. It’s not a term you hear much and I remember the first time I did. I was working for a wonderful HR director who had at the core of her intention, the creation of a better culture in the workplace. We work hard in my company – just like people do everywhere. And one other thing we do is become too serious, sometimes too internally focused, and always intensely focused. The culture can quickly turn to too much stress. What I know about over-stressed people is that they go into survival mode, can become territorial, and collaboration can suffer.

That’s when I learned the term, strategic disengagement. It’s a simple concept really – it’s deliberate downtime even during the work day when the intention is to connect as people and not as co-workers. It’s sharing a bit of fun. It’s getting to know each other and our values, hobbies, families, and sense of humor. It’s a release valve for the pressure cooker of an overly focused workforce. It’s also a brilliant concept when trying to re-boot the culture.

The beauty of it is that it can be spontaneous or planned. Planning a work group outing or lunch to celebrate successes, acknowledge people’s accomplishments and milestones, and just have some fun is key to shifting the energy. But so is that spontaneous practice of a mid-day chat over coffee or a quick trip to the ice cream parlor or a walk around the building.

tacky-sweater1-290x284It may not seem intuitive but it is true that sometimes you have to “go slow in order to go fast”. That means, if you build in the down time in order to re-energize, you’ll come back faster. If you take the time to get to know the people as you go, you’ll have the foundation of collaboration when it’s time to solve a crisis or business challenge. I haven’t seen a team or work group yet that didn’t come back from some strategic disengagement with more energy, more focus, and a clearer vision. If it’s not part of your business practice you might consider starting small to test the waters. And this is a great time of year to test it. Laugh a little. Add a bit of holiday cheer and fun to a group meeting. Challenge each other to a “tacky holiday sweater” contest or some other little way of breaking up the monotony of the work day. Do this for you and for your organization and you will all reap the rewards.

Disengage and be blessed!

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme ….


This year I find myself in quite the different holiday mood. I have several friends that I have always enjoyed the sharing of Christmas gifts with. We don’t spend a lot of money but we do try to find the “right” something for each other. We top off our little celebration with the “breaking of bread” as we share a lunch or dinner to catch up and enjoy the holiday lights and music. It makes for a really pleasant spreading out of the holiday and is probably a part of your routine Christmas as well.

0912_money-gift_485x340And yet, this year, something feels to be different. My soul’s yearning to make a bigger impact in the world is growing. And the only thing I can think of is that I feel I have too much this year. I certainly have all that I need and I have enough of the “I wants” to satisfy my heart. So this year I’m shifting out of the usual mode of the gift giving tradition with my friends. I’m still sharing the gift of time but I’m asking them to forgo the shopping for some nice little gift that I don’t actually need and I’d like them to make a donation to the poor as their gift to me instead. I want to play a little part, even if it’s just a catalyst part, in helping us all help someone in need. And the beautiful thing I’m finding is, that at my suggestion for my gift they are delighted to not shop for a trinket and to also not receive one. They are asking me to do the same thing on their behalf. I love my friends – they see the best and brightest intentions and they magnify them. I am blessed.

So, to all my internet friends, in addition to any regular charitable giving this year that you are inclined to give, I ask that you consider joining us to exchange a different kind a gift. A gift of generosity. A gift that can change a moment in someone’s world. Give the gift of charity, request the gift of charity, and be blessed.

Music that Moves Me ….


rockefeller-center-christmas-tree-nyLast week I was watching a TV program with the lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in NYC. That tree is an iconic symbol of the season in the US and over the years the lighting ceremony has turned into quite the celebration with the songs of the season. I saw some favorite singers and some newbies that come from the various singing competition shows that are ever so popular these days.

What struck me that night was that this time of year is even more joyful as it allows for songs of faith to ring out from every corner of our culture. What a blessing when I hear praise and glorification going on by some of the most famous of people.  Some even unexpected people.

Recently this video has been going around FB and I wanted to share it here for your enjoyment as well. I must say the ending gave me shivers and my heart was moved – be sure to stick with it until the end!

Enjoy this medley of lovely Christmas songs and be blessed! 

 

Comments Help Charities


For each legitimate comment I receive on my blog for the month of December, I will be donating 50 cents to Heartprints charity in Cincinnati. Comment away and help me help my favorite causes each month! I’ll choose a different charity each month. Thanks and be blessed!

See this month’s blog about HEARTPRINTS.

Comments for a Cause – HEARTPRINTS.ORG


Hi all,

Today I heard about a totally cool idea and have decided to jump in with both feet. A fellow blogger that I follow, Beth Ann shared this with me. Check out her blog “It’s Just Life”. She’s been doing this for many months and feels the gratitude of her giving. I can’t help but catch the idea and carry it on.

So here’s how it works – the first day of each month I will pick a charity or cause and write about it here on my blog. At the end of the month I’ll count up all the legitimate comments I receive on that one blog and donate 50 cents per comment. I’m a day late to start but promise not to be a dollar short.  :-)

DECEMBER 2012 CHARITY is:   HEARTPRINTS  HP_mark

Heartprints is a wonderful, fledgling charity started by my friend Brian Siegel here in Cincinnati. I met Brian a couple of years ago by accidental connection. Well, I don’t believe in coincidences but I do believe in God and I know this chance meeting was at His hand! Brian had a vision to eradicate poverty of education. And as a pioneer always does, he put his money and actions where his mouth (and heart and dreams) is. He started this charity as a way to change lives of poor children – with a 3 pronged approach – tutoring, charitable giving, and job assistance.  After our connection Brian asked me to be on the Board of Directors. I did that willingly and with all my heart. I loved being a part of the early days.  And while my schedule doesn’t allow me to be as involved as my heart wants to be, I certainly can spread the word.

Heartprints is growing and evolving and I’m proud that he is bringing his dream to life. Check out the website, and donate your time, talent, or treasure if you so feel called.   www.heartprints.org

And in the meantime, don’t forget to leave your comments here on the blog so I can give the maximum donation with your help. Every comment counts so rack ‘em up folks and help me, help my cause.

Be blessed!!!!