“I Respect” and Other Affirmations

 

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Affirmation: 1) the assertion that something exists or is true. 2) emotional support or encouragement.

Life is beautiful. Courage is easy to find. Peace is possible. I trust life’s process. I will accomplish. Each of these statements is an example of an affirmation. My husband and I often fall asleep to wisps of moonlight and affirmations sifting through the darkened room. The affirmations of motivational author Louise Hays—who also authored the Power Thought cards I’ve kept here or there for years in whatever home I’ve been in—have been regulars for the week.

Affirmations are something I have been using throughout my life, intuitively, before I was ever able to give it such a definition; more than likely, everyone has been. The orderly, optimistic patterns of praying or affirming seem a natural function of the human mind, an inherent action driven by that sweetly mysterious place of us that many refer to as soul. Soul or spirit, immaterial yet fully operable essence of us consistently seeking meaning, purpose, and connection to some source greater than ourselves, greater than all of this big, glittery, growing, blinking, complex universe holding us.

What is the power of an affirmation? Simply, the power is within the positive emotions and motivation evoked by the repetition of sayings that remind you to do, think, and believe good things.

If you don’t believe in God or soul, believe in this one thing, at least: energy. Energy (elusive itself because it has no one specific form, but rather converts to different types and inhabits various forms) is what we run on, our thoughts and bodies bundles of energy. Energy is needed in all of our physiological processes, including neurogenesis. Previous thought in the biological sciences was that we are born with a finite number of neural cells, and once they’re gone, they’re gone, leaving us in the state of development they left us at. We were a species that peak and then plateau in emotion, ability, or behavior by the age of 40. The ability of brain neurons to reorganize throughout the human lifespan, now known as neuroplasticity, was first suggested 120 years ago by an American psychologist and philosopher named William James. Since the time of publication of James’ book, Principle of Psychology, studies into neuroplasticity have shown that new neurons can absolutely be generated—neurogenesis—and new neural pathways created that allow us to adapt ourselves to new skills at any age, including into advanced age.

Believe in energy. By using the energy it takes to think and take care of how our thoughts are physically affecting us, we have the opportunity to clear stress from ourselves, physically and emotionally, and recharge so we’re able to jump out into the world with renewed interest and motivation.

What do you have to say to have an effective affirmation? The beauty of positive thought is that it just has to be positive, it should lead you into positive visualizations and goals and it doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it. There is no one formula. The universe is a vast place of creation, and therefore creative energy. You use your creativity to fit your beliefs and needs.

You can say your affirmations aloud or let them resound in your mind, quietly away from the external world. You can take a break from background music and select audio affirmations on CDs or from Youtube to fill your aural space. You can also bring your attention to them more regularly by making them visual. Try carrying them written in a journal or on notecards you can bring out and use the extra concentration necessary for reading to keep you focused. I once met a woman who wrote out affirmations on brightly colored sticky notes that she placed along her dashboard to read at red lights or while sitting in her car on break at school or work. Some people tape them to their refrigerators; inside of folders or binders that hold their work or school assignments; onto walls next to a table, desk, or couch they frequently sit at. Others tape them or simply write them on the mirrors they stop in front of most.

I’m a fan of the mirror affirmations; the bathroom mirror is one of the first places that sees the start of my days as I splash water on my face to refresh, brush teeth and hair to feel ordered. A look up, and there are the words chosen for the day, the week, maybe the month. However long they need to stay. Lipstick is easy enough to write with and to clean; window markers are wonderful inventions and just right for mirrors also.

Affirmations are natural for us as seeking, thinking and orderly beings. Positive thinking is a must for us if we are to stay motivated and hopeful and good. Whatever it is you need to put into your collection of thoughts is what is right for you to use as your affirmation, whether thought up on your own or learned from someone else, or a combination thereof.

The mirror in our home for now greets us with a collection of “I respect” statements, some repeated from the affirmations of Ms. Hay and some inspired by the way we’ve learned to give blessings after Kundalini meditation. Whatever “I” does can be positive and healthy and good, all it takes is commitment, and a reminder that “I” is part of a greater whole. You can write these particular statements into your own life word for word, or with any revisions and additions that fit you. Like air or sunlight or compassion, positive words are infused into the world as elements meant to touch all of creation.

I respect myself.

I respect other people.

I respect animals.

I respect plants.

I respect all creation.

I respect this community.

I respect this country.

I respect all countries.

I respect this world.

I respect this universe.

I respect Source.

 

What do you need or want to think about each day to be and feel your best?

Happy affirming and positive energy to all. ✿

 

Official Website for Louise Hay

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Holidays are for Happy

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It can be difficult to mix and match cultural, religious, and personal preferences during this December time of year when holiday traditions abound, especially in this Western part of the world where the majority of people with religious beliefs follow the Jewish and Christian belief systems. For those who are not religious, the secular society is also very attached to the Christmas season for its ideas of peace, magic, generosity, and family. Who can argue that a sense of magic and an unusual beauty exist this time of year, especially amidst all of the holiday lights strung over homes and throughout the public areas of cities, lighting our world in a way that just doesn’t happen other times of the year?

Certainly there are some who remain unmoved by the aesthetic qualities of the Christmas season, and others who could argue that reindeer, Santa Claus, penguin, snow globe, candy cane, and elf lawn decorations are unusually annoying, but that is their right and they can decide not to love holiday living as they wish. We all have our reasons for either loving, hating, or remaining indifferent to the holidays.

It can be an especially sensitive time of year, especially given the confusion over what to actually say to people this time of year; with more acceptance and sensitivity in society toward religious and cultural differences–which is a very good thing–it can be easy to get tripped up in deciding if “Have a Merry Christmas” (a definite Western tradition) is okay to say when thanking a cashier or postal carrier or chatting with a coworker, neighbor, or anyone really, or if they might fall more into the “Happy Hannukah,” “Happy Kwanzaa,” “Happy Yule,” or the non-religious or even non-holiday categories. We don’t want to inflict any offense on others and risk feeling rude and ignorant, or risk an evil eye in response that takes away a little of our own holiday cheer. So, very often, “Have a happy holiday!” suffices if we choose anything at all. It’s safe call.

The key words to the holiday greetings are happy and merry and peaceful. Whatever your beliefs or traditions are, whether you are a holiday practitioner or spend the day (and the season, roughly most of December) as any other, the wishes are for you to be happy, be merry, have peace. Go out of this year with a positive sense of life, and go into the upcoming year with that same positive sense.

This year marks the first Christmas/holiday/merry-peaceful season I am sharing with my family and my husband. We married in late January of this year, well after the menorahs, midnight Masses in Catholic churches, hymnals about the birth of Jesus Christ, yule logs, reindeer, Santa, wrapping paper, and cups full with eggnog had come and gone. Although I haven’t celebrated Christmas from a Christian perspective for many, many years (a perspective I still highly respect), my husband has never celebrated Christmas from this or any perspective. He hails from the Holy Lands–Jerusalem his place of birth–and so also has a compassionate respect for not only his faith of origin, Islam, but other faiths as well, especially the two other monotheistic religions of the Western world, Christianity and Judaism. He also knows of Papa Noel–the name for Santa Claus in the the Arabic culture–but not so much of the Grinch or of “going buckwild” (one of his favorite expressions) with the gift tradition.

He seemed a little nervous at first, and I felt a little nervous as well in not wanting him to be nervous. I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying to convert him into any buckwild holiday traditions that have been a consistent part of my life. I love gift-giving, and Christmas lights, and the religious Christmas music that has resonated with me emotionally since I was a child, and the otherworldliness of an evergreen tree (real or artificial) all lit up within your living area. I love the decorations overtaking homes and shopping centers and whole cities, and the holiday packaging on foods and drinks. I never asked him to get into it, I only asked that he wouldn’t mind a tree in the living room, some stockings on the wall for my daughter and the gerbil, and my personal favorite of finding gifts for the children of the family and my parents.

Thankfully, the holidays have that type of peacefulness and magic about them that make it easy for most people to adapt to. Not only has it been fun for him, but he even got a little buckwild with the idea of gift-giving and so I’ve wound up with (already, since he’s not so much accustomed with waiting until the morning of the 25th) a holiday/Christmas/merry-peaceful/loving gift or two straight from him. And he seemed secretly thrilled that I had one for him. After all, it’s never about materialism or what a gift is, it’s about, simply, having fun with each other.

The holiday season begs us to have fun, happiness, peace, and love with each other, and you really can’t go wrong with that. When the season is difficult and hurtful because you’ve lost someone, or lost a relationship, or in general are feeling lonely or out of sorts or even disagreeable with so-called holiday cheer, it’s quite alright to avoid making a big deal of the season, but if you really want to there are many people willing to open their hearts, homes, and arms to others to ensure the true “reason for the season” is passed along to others as it should be.

Nothing has to be made too difficult in life, especially those things that are meant to convey a sense of happiness, merriness, peace, and all around positivity. Holidays are for being happy, something everyone deserves.

*Picture courtesy of California Indian Education. http://www.californiaindianeducation.org/community/christmas/2010/PeaceOnEarth.gif

A Friday In October: Plans, Purpose, and Reminders of How Things Can Change

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On a Friday afternoon in October, I picked my daughter up from school early for our own special “homeschooling.” Which means I had a half day at work and wanted to spend extra time with Maya but her dad is a little less casual about a school absence in the absence of necessity, and so after writing up a note to the school secretary asking that she be excused in the afternoon, then ferreting her away, I told her it would be possible to explain she was still benefiting from an educational format, considering:

Our first stop was to return a clothing item and replace it with something different, while maintaining a budget (economics); on the way out, Maya sent a text to her good friend, April, to see what her plans were later that night (interpersonal communication); we then picked up lunch from El Basha, a restaurant of Arabic food with photographs from Lebanon, the owners’ home country, placed on the walls (social sciences/culture); we ate lunch at the condo my husband was renovating for work, and afterward pitched in with the work day by brightening up a weathered mailbox and its stand with glossy white paint (business/home ec); and in the background as we worked, my husband and his coworker spoke to each other in their native Arabic, and I pointed out words here and there to Maya (language/culture).

Then we had our psychology/spiritual/life-coaching period of the day. I opened up discussion on life plans and her direction in school now, as a high school sophomore, and in the upcoming two years as she prepares for college. We talked about grades and success, and how grades are not the only indicator of success, yet it certainly doesn’t hurt to maintain a good GPA for admission opportunities to colleges, or for basic personal reasons–if it’s important to you. She had been worried because (like her mom, sorry dear) she’s a good student unless math is involved. And in an educational system where As and Bs and an occasional C create an aesthetic landscape on a report card, those other remaining letters tend to make a look like a war-torn city or a really bad work of art. We are very conditioned to feel awful at the sight of a D or an F on the landscape of our grade world.

Look at the world world, I asked of her. When you get into it, this whole, big world with more diversity than that within the walls of the high school world you are used to, you will find that what stays with you is the knowledge you gained and keep gaining, the intellectual skills you have developed, and most importantly, an understanding of how to synthesize information, skill, and responsibility. Or, even more importantly, you’ll find you have more confidence to set out into this world and let your already compassionate soul grow with more beauty and understanding. Grades do not make you good or bad, smart or stupid, superior or inferior. Some of the most responsible people I have met have perfect grades, and some of the smartest I have met have had average to well below average grades. And vice versa. Likewise, some of the most creative, successful people I have met have a history of high GPAs, and some of the other most creative, successful people I have met have had horrible school histories of inconsistent grades and even dropping out of high school or college. You will find all kinds of people with all kinds of grades, making all kinds of exceptions to the expected rules. A low grade doesn’t mean you didn’t learn, just as a high grade won’t ensure you did. School prepares you for life in many ways, studying is about building skills and increasing knowledge doesn’t mean only showing competency in subjects.

We talked in the cool October afternoon sunlight, painting a mailbox, observing through an open garage door and front door the hard work taking place inside the condo: carpets removed, wallpaper stripped and walls freshly painted, lighting and wiring reconfigured, doorknobs and other fixtures replaced. A worn-down former home transformed into a new, lively, and welcoming warm place destined to be a home again. All through dedicated, time-consuming, hard work.

Life is about experiences, work, progress, transformation. School takes dedicated, time-consuming, hard work; learn to work in school, and you learn to work outside. Also learn to work outside, and you will learn to work in school. Be successful in school, is my belief, for the sake of finding personal accomplishment and joy in it, but not for the sake of pleasing others. Be proud of what you accomplish and don’t judge yourself or anyone for how much or how little the accomplishments seem. Learning is like life–a journey, one you should love and find joy within, not a race! You never know what might change, for better or worse, so find an understanding of success that is meaningful to your life.

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It was a lovely afternoon. I was thankful for a good talk, the time together, the slow but purposeful pace of the day. Later that night, while making a cup of tea before bed and talking to Maya about her evening out with friends, there was a lapse in conversation from her. I looked out from the kitchen to see if she had gotten lost in text messages or tweets, and she looked up at me with an expression of sadness and disbelief, saying Mom in that way that alerts you, as a mom, to some type of hurt in your child.

What she had discovered from friends, now that the news was out and passing among teenagers from the uniquely interconnected Catholic school community in our city: three students from two of the area Catholic schools, if not known by everyone personally then at least known by name, had been in a car accident earlier in the evening while driving across a highway to the entrance of a pumpkin patch, a place that many families and teenagers in the area visit each autumn. Two were in critical condition; one had died.

Nate, a fifteen-year-old, less than a month away from his November birthday, and a passenger in a vehicle his girlfriend had been driving, did not survive the accident. The two girls in the car, very thankfully, have been recovering over this last month, one of them having overcome a precarious period of being left in a medically induced coma due to internal injuries. Many in the community offered support and the girls stayed strong, and they have inspired others with their strength. In the wake of the accident, there were a number of stories in the news sharing the life of Nate, and a number of responses about how inspirational the stories had been.

He had been a fifteen-year-old sophomore in a Catholic boarding school for boys, where he was active in school activities, a successful student, and a role model. He was energetic and focused and positive. He had wanted to be a Navy SEAL and was given the chance recently to meet Navy SEAL members. He had impressed them with his motivation and his love of life: On November 5, 2013, his 16th birthday and nearly a month after the accident, a presentation was given in which Nate was named an honorary Navy SEAL and a SEAL pin and an American flag that had been flown overseas were given to his family.

Earlier on the day he died, early that October afternoon, he had been at home studying. His parents explained how he had been released from the hospital a day earlier following surgery to remove kidney stones and was devoting his time to staying caught up with school work. He was a good student because he wanted to be, he seemed naturally motivated to not just succeed, but to truly learn and go forward. Even if at fifteen he maybe didn’t know exactly where he would end up going in life, it seemed he knew exactly the best way to get anywhere meaningful: with focus, devotion, love, and immersion in what you are doing.

Many people left comments on articles or other places online to say that though they hadn’t met Nate, reading about him had inspired them and they just wanted to let his family know he had truly had an ability to inspire others in his short lifetime.

That was something I had forgotten to mention to my daughter on that October afternoon when we talked about life plans, which can be altered in a minute, a few seconds: life is also about inspiration. Let yourself be inspired by others, by their energy, their positive outlook, their kindness, their adventurousness. Don’t try to be the inspiration, because we don’t always know how we will inspire others. It will happen naturally, in its natural give and take manner. It’s all a part of our interconnected existence, the unavoidable ways we will affect each other, sometimes in bad ways, but so much more often in good.

Let existence inspire you also. Look around. It’s sort of crazy to stop and see everything for what it really is–a world of interconnected, organized, holistic systems. A world of amazing acts of creation that we can’t fully explain. A world of natural beauty that we for some reason have the intellect and the emotions to recognize as such.

Life is a learning process and a living process and a process of immeasurable beauty. Life never asks for us to be perfect, it only asks us to look around and find a place in it where we feel we most belong.

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Baby Cicada

Look, they’re hatching! Cicadas!

I love how children get so excited when they make a new discovery about their world that they don’t mind calling out the news to perfect strangers. In this case, I’m happy that the two children standing almost nose-to-tree-trunk impulsively called to me as I jogged back onto the aparment grounds, because although I am thirty-seven years old, I had lived thirty-seven years without actually having watched the hatching process of a cicada. I have gathered their crumbly, sheer nymph shells from the trunks of trees many times throughout the years, and have almost as many times held a cicada in my hand until it grew bored, or annoyed, or frightened, and lifted away on its wings. Until now, I had missed out on the silent, delicate way the cicadas emerge from their previous nymph forms, and this final step in the transformation of nymph to adult cicada was, for me, an art, a beauty, and a reminder of how effectively structured our existence tends to be.

What a wonderful thing, to know that no matter how many years I spend living, there will always be an opportunity to witness something new in the natural world. There is so much taking place from sea to earth to sky to greater universe that we can only scarcely comprehend how much there is to experience.

My only disappointment was that I had no camera access for this moment. Even the webcam on our laptop was not functioning, as I discovered after carrying a newly hatched “baby cicada” into the apartment and arranging it for the webcam. (With full intent to return the insect outside, of course). There was at least some consolation in having a new animal to wake my daughter with; it’s usually a gerbil in the face. It can be fun to mix things up.

Any animal is beautiful, I fully believe this, and this is why I am so compelled to stop at times, pick them up, investigate, and not worry too much when other people give me a funny glance. Animal lovers, including the bug lovers of Kingdom animalia, can understand this. Earlier in the summer I was honored that a large Cecropia moth let me lift it from the ground at the tennis court and then sat in my hand long enough to let me see each line, spot and color grading of its pattern. It even let me trace its scaled wings of modified hairs with a fingertip. The baby cicada–or newly altered nymph–also didn’t offer much protest to my presence, allowing me to appreciate it until returned to the tree it had been clinging to along with a number of other hatching cicadas.

Later, I looked up the basics of the cicada lifecycle, out of curiosity and a little concern for the small, stubby outgrowths I had seen instead of the usual body-length wings cicadas have. If its wings were so underdeveloped, would it survive? From a website featuring cicada photography, I learned that the lack of wings was illusory–the correctly designed, effective wings the cicada uses for its short lifecycle start all folded up and minutely contained, but they are there and they will open up and fulfill their role.

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What a relief to know that the small creature I was giving back to its place in nature would most likely be among the other cicadas filling the upcoming nights with their song.

Cicada Photography: Shared from kozmicdreams.com.

All About Cicadas: Visit cicadamania.com.

A Thought On People

As quoted by author Markus Zusak:

“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.”
― Markus Zusak, I Am the Messenger

I will jokingly say at times that people are my favorite animal, but there is truth in it. Often, I do look around at all of us, notice the things about us that make us beautiful creatures despite any ugliness we are capable of, as individuals, as a species. There is an unlimited beauty underlying everything. Us included. Sometimes we watch each other with suspicion, hate, fear, envy, negative judgement.

Other times we see each other and are reminded of our human beauty.

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Image courtesy of Beliefnet.