“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given.”
--- St. Francis of Assisi
Today, I can say what I could not say at the time I was growing up. I was blessed to come from a family that was focused on loving me and taking care of their family, friends and even strangers in need. As a teenager I started to emotionally distance myself from my father. I did not like the idea that they could not provide the financial support for the social events and lifestyle I wanted to pursue.
I was born with a different agenda, fueled with ambitions and desires they could never imagine for themselves. I was determined to experience life to the fullest, to travel and to be financially successful. At a very young age I decided I would get a part time job to start achieving my goals. By the age of eighteen I was earning more money than my father. I was not aware of the major circumstances that influenced much of the man my father had become. When he was still a young boy his mother and the baby died as she was giving birth to her eighth child. Some of the children stayed on the farm with my grandfather, and others were sent to be raised by several different family members. Survival was the priority, not education. My Dad never went to high school because every able body was needed to contribute to the income for the family. I suppose I always thought he was not very ambitious. However the one thing that made a lasting impression on me was how he was always responsive to the needs of his siblings and extended family. He and my mother generously shared their limited resources. We often had family over for Sunday dinner. Then of course those were the days when families visited each other on the weekends and stayed in touch and aware of family needs.
The last five years of my dad’s life he was dealing with kidney failure from cancer. This was a very stressful time for me as I struggled to balance working and seeing to his various needs. My mother didn’t drive. She also depended on me when any medical decision had to be made. Unfortunately there never seemed to be the time or privacy for my Dad and me to talk. I do think he would have probably felt very awkward with such a conversation.
I was blessed with a remarkable connection and healing experience with him years after he passed. I had a Soul reading with a spiritual intuitive. I had never met her prior to my appointment, and she lived outside of the city. When the reading was almost finished, she said “Your father is here, and he wants to let you know how much he loves you.” I felt like I melted in his arms. I was totally surprised that he had this message for me. Then months later I was attending a group meeting with the same intuitive and again he had a message for me.
This week two events centered around St. Francis of Assisi. I found myself thinking of my Dad. He reached out to poor family members, fed them and even housed them. He enjoyed the simple things in life like perch fishing and having a fish fry for the family every Friday. Weeks before he died, he planted tomato plants in his garden, He told my son he probably would not live to see the tomatoes, but other people would get to enjoy them. When he and his brother-in-law had a family grocery store, they allowed families in need to put the charge on the books and pay when they were able. Most of that money was never collected. My dad’s birthday on October 3 is the date St. Francis of Assisi died. My dad passed on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis. I do think this is more than happenstance.
This week you may want to reflect on one quality of your parents or a family member and send them a note to let them know that you appreciate that quality in them. Many of the blocks in personal and spiritual growth often occur when we have not healed the relationship we had with our parents. Once this is done it is much easier to develop an adult to adult relationship.
"For God does speak—now one way, now another--
though no one perceives it. In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds."
As I continue to focus on my fourth quarter review it has been helpful for me to go over the topics I listed in last week’s posting to be assured that I am practicing what I am encouraging others to do. The topic Dream Work immediately caught my attention. I remembered a significant dream I had the previous week that I had failed to write down in my journal. I often encourage our grandkids to jot down their dreams and then we can work on understanding them together. I was disappointed I was remiss in noting and interpreting this dream of mine.
Following is what I would consider a very significant dream. “My wife and I stopped over to visit my mother at her house. (My mother has been deceased for fourteen years.) I was so happy to see her. She looked terrific and had prepared several desserts for us. She opened the refrigerator and there was nothing but desserts in it. When it was time to leave, I felt sad that we had to leave and at the same time, I was very happy that we had taken the time to visit her”.
I use several books along with the website dreambible.com to look up the symbols in dreams. The following are the symbols I deemed important in that dream and the interpretation of them.
Mother. Anything your mother says in a dream sheds light on what awareness or intuition is guiding you toward in your life.
Refrigerator. The continuation of goals, plans or situation. Restarting something.
Desserts. Indulging in celebrating your success. Something worthwhile is happening.
I will be very brief with my interpretation of the message I got from the symbols and also the confirmation I received. My mother knew how I always would be so enthusiastic about my goals in life. She was encouraging me to pursue my goals, was preparing me for something worthwhile that was getting ready to happen and that I would celebrate my success.
The week following this dream I felt very enthusiastic about keeping my focus on my goal of lighting one candle at a time. I did not want to let this become a “numbers game.” I have always envisioned inspiring others to live a positive life of their dreams. It has just become very motivating to me to realize that touching just one person is an amazing miracle. Then out of blue I started receiving personal letters confirming the connection my blog is having with readers. The following correspondence touched me at a soul level and is a condensed version of that “testimony.”
“I wanted to let you know how inspiring your last blog about the “Fourth Quarter Review” was. After I created my dream board back in January, I tried to create the things I wanted, Then I read your post and I sat down and took a good look at my board and really focused on it. That’s when I realized that I’ve been creating more of those things than I thought. For example last month I started exercising (again), but this time I really created a routine. In a short period of time I’ve noticed my strength and stamina are increasing. (For me this is huge!) You’ve inspired me to finish strong this quarter and that’s what I intend to do. I am also considering what I want to accomplish for 2020. Thanks for all of the positive advice-keep posting.”
I truly believe we continue to connect with our loved ones that have passed. They are cheering us on to the finish line and want us to achieve our goals and dreams in life. This was definitely confirmed to me by what happened following the dream I had.
It has been my experience that having a notebook and pen on your nightstand is key to jotting down the symbols of your dream as soon as you wake up. Once you get up and start doing other things it is easy to forget about important parts of the dream. This week you may want to take positive action and get that notebook!
“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”
– Winston Churchill
In my previous posting I discussed the benefit of a fourth quarter review of goals and achievements for this year. Perhaps that could also include a look ahead to possibilities for 2020. If this is something you have decided to do, I would also recommend that you combine the following three tools to achieve the fastest results in accomplishing your goals. When I experience success, I have more courage to try new things to continue achieving my goals in life.
For the weekly readers of my blog this is a story you may have read previously, and it was a major example of courage to pursue your dreams. A few years ago I posted pictures of a 21-day River Cruise in Europe on our Dream Board. We would celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary on this wonderful tour. This was a very expensive trip and I realized it would take planning to make it happen. My Dream Board gives me a constant visual of what I want to attract in my life.
It doesn’t make anything occur magically, but it serves as an important part of the roadmap to get where I want to go.
The next step was to review our Success Budget spreadsheet and increase our monthly travel budget to accommodate the cost of the trip paid in full by our date
of departure. In our case, it was necessary to reduce income sourcing in some categories to increase the travel budget.
The third step was using daily affirmations to support success in meeting our goal. The affirmations have to be stated in a way that the words support our belief that this is indeed happening in our life. I have my affirmations on the first page of my grateful journal. I review them every morning before I begin my writing. The one I said daily to create our dream of a lifetime trip was, “ I am looking forward to spending 21 days in Europe to celebrate our 50th.”
I have to be honest and admit that doubt crept in after I made the deposit to confirm this trip. I was caught off guard when we were notified that the final payment was due almost one year in advance of departure. It was at these times I frequently looked at the itinerary that was posted on the Dream Board and would repeat my daily affirmations. This trip celebrating our 50th Anniversary will always remain one of our fondest memories.
These three tools of Dream Board, Success Budget, and Affirmations may be worth your efforts for 90 days. The odds for achieving your goals will be in your favor. Much of this is backed up by scientific data in a book I am currently reading Discovering Happiness by Shawn Achor.
“If you don't know where you are going,
you'll end up someplace else.”
Before retirement I worked in marketing for a major corporation. The fourth quarter review was twofold, and the process took an entire day. We first had to report on year-to-date sales. If the numbers were less than the forecast, we were expected to justify the decline in shipments. We then had to submit an estimate on projected sales for the following year. Management always pushed to get us to exceed our own estimate. There was something about this process that succeeded. Top performers always met and often exceeded their goals.
For those of us eager to achieve our goals in life, we are now in the last quarter of the year. This is a good time to review your goals and achievements for this year. This could also lead you to initiate ideas and set your sights on what you would like to accomplish next year. As I stated in the beginning of this year, most New Year’s resolutions fail within the first 60 days of a new year. If they are thought out in advance with an action plan and determination to meet the 90-day challenge, the goals will be achieved.
I have covered many topics since the first of the year. The goal is to enable each of us to live life to the fullest. To do that it is essential that we seriously examine the major areas of life that tremendously influence our success or failure to experience abundance and fulfillment on a physical and spiritual level. The major areas are finances, relationships, optimal wellness of body, mind, and spirit. I truly believe positive thinking, goal setting, and personal growth resources greatly influence the success in these areas.
The following topics have been covered in my blog this year to help the readers achieve their dreams and goals in life.
If you want to get a jump start on achieving your New Year’s goals start now by selecting one or two of the above topics and make a 90-day resolution to Implement the practice into your life now. If you would like recommendations on resources in any of these areas that I covered in my blog, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comment section below. I will give you information on resources I have personally used with success. For example my Dream Board is something I have been doing for years. This year’s results have been amazing. My fourth quarter personal review of this one tool of goal setting indicates that 80% of what is posted has been achieved.
“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the
courage to press on to your destination.”
Who is driving your car and what happens when the road you are traveling on comes to a dead end? Today we depend so much on technology that often making a choice from our own life experiences becomes a challenge. This happened to us when we were going to a funeral in an unfamiliar area. Before technology we would have attained accurate directions before we left home. But we never gave it a thought. We just assumed our GPS would get us there with no problems. The dependence on this technology failed us. It led us to a rural road and an impassable bridge that was being rebuilt.
When I have such an experience, I am drawn to recall aspects of my life that reflect similar experiences. I have to ask myself who is in the driver’s seat. Am I habitually allowing outside sources to direct me to my desired destination? Am I prepared to get past the dead end should it happen? Have I strengthened my inner resources on a daily basis?
My resources are quite varied. My curiosity has led me to much research and discovery of tools to expand my horizons and strengthen my ability to move forward to achieve my goals in life. Since I started this blog, I have received inquiries about finances, budgets, helpful books, and many other avenues for personal growth opportunities. I have been blessed to receive many success stories. In most cases interest in creating a positive change occurred when faced with a roadblock or dead end.
The one common factor to achieve our desired destination is to apply the 90-day rule. Try a new practice or discipline for 90 consecutive days and then it becomes a habit in your life. Fifteen years ago I started a daily grateful journal. My notebook and a cup of coffee are the first things I grab in the early morning.
The first 90 days it seemed like another discipline. I had to get up a little earlier and put aside the daily newspaper. It is now something I look forward to doing to get my thought process focused on the positive things happening in my life.
I suggest you spend some time this week working on your road map and your plan to get to your desired destination in life. It could be in the area of finance, budget, spiritual growth, career, family life. Give it a try; you may be surprised with the results!
“Even the slightest Deja Vu are supernatural incidents.”
A few weeks ago I posted on my blog about Mary Jo McCabe’s book Learn to See and how I use the principles taught in this book to seek signs to support any major decision I make.
I am doing something I have never done before. I am submitting a follow-up to a posting I released on August 16 entitled Tools to Defy and Define the Darkness. I would not want to confuse you or lead you into thinking you are having a Deja Vu moment. The events that followed that posting make it important to me to share them with you. That posting not only enticed the attention of many readers, it also confirmed its relevance by the many additional signs I received in the following days.
Four years ago our son gave us a book entitled Pope Francis in the U.S.
My wife had taken the book off of the bookshelf to read and had it placed on the table in the Living Room. I randomly opened it and saw a highlighted message, "The Prophet Isaiah can guide us in this process of ‘learning to see.” Throughout the years Mary Jo has held many classes teaching on the messages from the "Prophets of Isaiah," which is how her spiritual teachers identified themselves to her. She was inspired to write the book with that title Learn to See. She has always said we are all capable of receiving answers to major questions in our lives by paying attention to signs.
The second confirmation came from another powerful sign. A few days ago I opened the blinds on our side door and the first thing that I observed was a feather that seemed to be adhered to the glass of the door. Looking at it closely it looked as though a spider had made a small web that caught the feather when a breeze had blown during the night. I immediately opened the book Learn to See to understand what the symbol feather represents.
Feather - Gift from your guidance coming soon.
This is where the small feather is attached and has remained for several days now.
When I receive such a sign, I am like a kid anticipating Christmas morning. The gift to me is the confirmation that guidance is always there for us. Where is it leading me? That remains to be seen, but just having the awareness is a gift in itself.
This week you may want to jot down any signs you receive. Signs can often be discounted as coincidences. Don’t discard them too quickly. Awareness of your guidance can change your perspective on many things, can positively influence your choices, and can certainly enhance the abundance in your life.
“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and a richness to life that nothing else can bring.”
Today I am writing this message especially with our grandchildren in mind so they will know that this is a milestone event for Granny and Pops. The celebration of our 52nd. Anniversary. This is something that our parents or grandparents never had the opportunity to experience. They had a lifetime of marriage together but did not live long enough to celebrate that many years.
The number of years is impressive but more significant is the realization that we still enjoy one another’s company. We have a deep level of friendship, passion for our relationship and life, unconditional love, and support of one another…all true gifts from God.
Many of the principles I have written about to achieve a life of abundance were used to attract a lifetime partner. I carried a list in my pocket of the qualities I wanted in a spouse. I dated quite a few girls, but they didn’t meet my expectations until I went on a blind date with Jeanne. At the end of that evening my friend told me I said to him, “That is the girl I’m going to marry.” Two and a half years after that first date we got married.
We were blessed in the first five years. It was all romance and very little disillusionment. We went on a Marriage Encounter weekend after our fifth anniversary. On that experience we were asked to become a presenting team and a leader to spread the message to others. It was a weekend structured to make good marriages better. Our training in that experience certainly strengthened our relationship.
For five years we practiced what we taught to other couples on the Marriage Encounter Weekend. We would spend ten minutes every day writing a love letter to each other sharing our feelings on many different topics such as money, our children, relatives, work, leisure time. The true gift of marriage is to have someone that loves you, supports you, and is always in your corner. Such a relationship encourages us to always be the best person we can possibly be and that benefits everyone whose lives we touch.
The advice that we have for each of our eight grandchildren is to pray that you meet a partner that will love you unconditionally and celebrate life with you. Coincidentally or providentially we both were in the same church praying to meet a lifetime partner before we went out on that blind date. We would also encourage you to seek personal and spiritual growth experiences together so that you will grow through the years individually and in your relationship.
It has been helpful for us to learn on that Marriage Encounter Weekend that committed relationships go through three phases throughout the years. These are Romance, Disillusionment, and True Joy. It is also important to keep in mind that “Love is a Decision!” Too often we equate love with “a feeling.” The “decision to love” when feelings certainly aren’t loving or kind can get us through some difficult times and can strengthen the foundation of our relationship again and again.
One of our great teachers was a Jesuit priest, Fr. Chuck Gallagher. His priesthood was dedicated to the elevation of Matrimony. He inspired us to see our relationship as a true vocation. He was responsible for getting the Marriage Encounter movement introduced worldwide. His book Embodied in Love reflects his passion for the sacrament of Matrimony. He deeply touched our lives. Here’s a quote from that book. “In all of our human encounters, we are to be credible symbols of the Trinity. And we become those symbols by being each other’s intimates, by living a passionate, self-abandoning concern for each other in every moment of meeting. We Christians are to be remarkable, noticeable, credible, for the way we love each other, and for that love for each other is our intimacy with God.”
You may want to set aside ten minutes this week to write a love letter to your significant other letting them know what you most appreciate about them. Spend some quiet time together as you exchange your letters.
To our grandchildren: You may want to practice this powerful experience by writing a love letter to your parents or a best friend letting them know what you appreciate about them.
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
Whenever I am starting something new or making a major decision, I seek a sign to support my endeavor. Once I receive the guidance then I can move forward with confidence with a plan of action to achieve my goal.
I attended several workshops given by MaryJo McCabe on “Learn to See,” an approach to your inner voice through symbols. After she gave these workshops, she published her book using the title of the workshop. One of many comments about this book came from Dr. Laura Herission, psychologist, “In our busy world and our busy lives, we all need time to slow down and to connect with our higher power and inner light. Learn to See gives us a roadmap, a way to get there.”
The following quote is a powerful message from the first chapter of the book.
“Michelangelo once had been commissioned to carve a statue in a courtyard. A young boy came by and watched him begin to chisel the huge stone for a moment. Then the puzzled boy asked the great sculptor why he was hitting at the rock. Michelangelo replied, ‘Because there’s an angel inside, and it wants to come out.’ There is an angel inside you, pressing against the windowpane of your consciousness, wanting to get out and lead you in your quest for life. All we need is a method of releasing this angel from within. The use of symbols from your higher self is the key to unlocking this wealth of timeless information and awareness. This is a logical part of God’s plan. We were not put here to struggle in isolation.”
The following was a powerful sign I received using the tools I learned from the workshops and this book. The other day my son sent me an email with an inspirational daily reflection. I responded with the comment. “Great focus for me today! Despite my efforts to let go of evaluating ‘success’ by the numbers I still find myself doing that very thing with the blog, eagerly checking the number of readers.” He replied immediately and said, “Dad, it’s not whether 1000 people have read your message. It’s whether at least one person has read your message and changed their life because of it.”
The night of that email exchange I had a dream in which I heard very clearly the words Luke 15 vs: 4. I had no idea what that was telling me, so I looked up the Bible passage when I woke up. Here it is, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, doth not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after that (one) which is lost, until he finds it.”
The message in my dream was a confirmation of what my son said. If I am sharing my story on my blog and it touches the life of one person, it is of value. The number one in symbols talked about in the book represents new beginnings, move forward. This lesson is one that is not easy for me to learn but I immediately accepted it because of the powerful sign I received.
You may want to pay attention to signs you are receiving this week to assist you in significant decision making. Once you receive these signs share your story with others. This may help them light their candle and this can help change the world into a more positive focused place one person at a time.
“If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations,
you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goal.”
---Norman Vincent Peale
When our friend Roy who now lives in Tennessee retired from his teaching career, he started spending much of his free time capturing the beauty of flowers, wildlife and nature in beautiful still life photography. He does this as a hobby and has no interest in marketing his artwork. He generously offered me availability of his artwork for use on my blog postings. His work stirs in me the same positive feelings as when I walk in nature. In the beauty of nature I am assured that there is surely a God that connects me to the Universal God presence in all things. The title he gave to the photo above is, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. That says it all, doesn’t it?
When we are in a positive environment of nature it is easy to see everything in rose colored glasses. Many readers of my blog have mentioned that they are amazed that I can see the positive perspective of so many things when we are living in such challenging times.
I have already written about several of the things I do daily. As I reflect over past years, there were many turning points that helped me achieve this state of mind. When I was in school, I had no interest in doing any more reading than what was absolutely required.
Once I started my career in marketing, one of the very first books I read and have kept on my bookshelf is The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. It was published in 1952 and remained on the New York’s Best Seller book list for 182 weeks. The message is as pertinent today as when the book was first published 67 years ago. It certainly whetted my appetite for inspirational reading and that has been a passion of mine since.
I am not going to go into detail about the book. I do want to say that it greatly influenced me to start thinking, acting, and reacting positively. It is the way I want to encourage our grandchildren to think and process situations in their lives. Every positive thought and action taken will make this world a better place for all of us!
Listed below are a few of the titles of the chapters in this powerful book. You may want to reflect on them to see if they offer something you have already implemented yesterday or plan to do so today or tomorrow.
“Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
-- Helen Keller
Making a positive shift in the way we approach life is not always easy. When challenges occur, they become the main focus and we cannot even think of moving forward. The disappointment totally absorbs our energy and discouragement sets in.
The force of negativity in the news that we read, and view is powerful. It often becomes an acceptable fact of life. Just a minute ago I turned on my computer to write and a message instantly popped up on my screen regarding, a major explosion in another state in which several people were injured and one person was killed. These types of heart wrenching messages pop up on my iPhone throughout the day.
In order to prepare ourselves for these negative influences we need to spend some time focusing on positive possibilities. That is why I work at it daily. It helps me to surround myself with people who are also working on making positive changes in their lives. We have been blessed with many people in our lives that are doing that very thing.
Yesterday I read about the value of “community” in one of my daily resource readings and it said: “When I am open and vulnerable in community, I reap blessings beyond my imagination.” The power of this kind of support was also quoted in a scripture passage “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
When I retired twelve years ago, we were blessed to connect with a couple’s social group which has now have evolved into a positive community experience. In participating in and witnessing the support we have been to one another I can confidently say I know we are making a positive difference in the world.
Last week we attended the funeral of our good friend Carol. She had dealt with many adversities, but always amazed us with her positive attitude to affirm her faith in God and renew her determination to move forward. The evening of testimonies was about how she made such a positive influence on so many people’s lives.
Carol’s Memorial Service touched us deeply. At the Church the entire altar where the urn with her ashes was placed was covered with affirmation cards that she had written and placed throughout her home. She prepared her mind daily to think positive wherever she was in her house.
The evening of testimonies was inspiring and uplifting. Her son-in-law shared beautifully on Carol’s ambitions in life which were always motivated by her desire to make other people’s lives better. The contractor that built her state-of-the-art day care center gave a beautiful testimony. He said when he met Carol, he was 45 and was already looking forward to the day he would retire. He was amazed that Carol was 60 and retirement was the farthest thing from her mind. She was tremendously excited about having a million-dollar building built to start a business that would house 350 children for her early learning development center.
Three weeks before she passed at the age of 86, she met with the pastor of her Church to lay out an entire program to get an early learning center established in the church community. At that time she was having challenges with her breathing and was dependent on portable oxygen. Once again, despite these health issues she volunteered to work with him to get it started.
Unfortunately any such positive happenings will not pop up on our computer screens or iPhones, so it is important to have resources of support and encouragement to assist us in seeing the positive possibilities every day. Each day is a fresh start. Life is too short to get bogged down in negativity. Put yourself in those places and around those people who are pursuing life with a half-full cup. You will be amazed at the boost this will be to your energy and enthusiasm which will in turn affect your contacts and continue to change many lives!