(Dedicated to my mom who loved Thanksgiving and who taught me to be thankful for the truly important things in life like family, love, nature and Heavenly Father.)
It seems appropriate to be discussing blessings during Thanksgiving. The above song is from the movie “White Christmas”, but the words are timeless. It was during an especially difficult day that I remembered this song. As I listened to it, the words were like a lullaby soothing my soul. I used to watch this movie with my mom and it has grown more dear with each passing year.
As I have struggled with the daily challenges of life, I have tried to remember to “count my blessings” or look for the positive in my own life. Even on my worst days, I will look up at the stars, and be thankful that I can see them. When “my bankroll is getting small” and other events are worrying me, I take this day to simply remember all the positive that I have in my life: joyous memories, the ability to see a sunset or watch a storm roll in, to travel to incredible places, to hear exquisite music, to taste delicious food, to have friends around the world and most of all, to share in the warmth of family and loved ones.
Dear friends, I hope you will do the same. On this day, let us be thankful for the good in our lives. It takes only a few moments, but it will bring a smile to your face and a lift to your soul. Even when your cares press in upon you so much that you feel like you can barely breathe, if you stop and think about it for a while, you will begin to find the blessings. They are there, like small gems waiting to be discovered.
So tonight, as I lay there falling asleep, I will be counting my blessings instead of sheep…and I’ll fall asleep counting my blessings.
(Though this post was written a few years ago, it’s been changed just a bit and the message is just as important now as it was then.)
Just recently I saw the movie “Moana” by Disney for the first time. I put it on while I was working and found myself drawn into the story. The symbolism of the journey of Moana, both physical and spiritual, reminded me of so many parallels in my own life. Then came the climax of the movie where Moana confronts the demon Te Ka and she sings these lines…
“They have stolen the heart from inside you But this does not define you This is not who you are You know who you are… Who you truly are…”
I couldn’t understand why, but I sat there with tears streaming down my cheeks. The lines “they have stolen the heart from inside you” shot straight through me like an arrow piercing my soul. I thought back to the numerous rejections I’ve had from relationships or through other experiences and I realized that yes…they had stolen my heart.
As I sat there, I realized that because of so many painful experiences, that my heart had closed itself to love and to life in order to “protect” itself. I was hiding from the world in every possible way, rarely letting the real me out to be seen. I had arrived at a state where opening myself to a new relationship or even a new dream seemed beyond my power or strength. The fear of another heartbreak, another rejection, or another failure and the resulting searing pain from it held me in its tight grip. How could I possibly try again knowing it would likely end in the same result?
But then the lines from the rest of the verse whispered through my mind “But this does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you are…who you truly are.” Those lines seeped into my soul…lovingly, tenderly and quietly, melting the ice that had surrounded my heart.
The gentle voice reminded me that I was someone worth loving…that I was of great worth. That I was a woman who had many good qualities and that I had much to give, not only as a romantic partner, but in so many other ways as well. I wept, but the tears seemed to melt away the last tendrils of ice around my heart. I took a deep breath, brushed away the last remaining tears and felt calm and peace.
I know who I am…who I truly am. And though the world will still try to shout at me and tell me that I can’t possibly succeed, there is a quiet voice inside reminding me that I will.
I was in the vitamin aisle wondering if I had enough money to buy my vitamins or if I should wait until I had a secure income. I knew I was going to have to borrow money to make rent and wondered if the vitamins went on the necessity list or the “want” list. Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw her. She was sitting on the metal bench at the pharmacy. She was in her pajamas, talking on her cell phone and trying her best to wipe the tears away so others would not notice.
It was the day after Thanksgiving and shoppers were rushing by trying to get the best Christmas sales. There was a general air of jolliness as the people passed, scurrying to get their errands done. But there was no happiness in her face. Our eyes met and for that brief moment, I saw the pain, the sadness, that desperate air of wanting to do…something and not knowing what to do. It tugged at my heart. I recognized that pain and that look in her eyes. I have known it all too well.
Feeling shy and indecisive, I turned away. Wasn’t that the polite thing to do when someone was hurting? I mean, you don’t just walk up and hug a stranger. I turned and looked at her again and then made up my mind. There are times when you need to reach beyond your comfort zone.
Walking over to the flowers, I purchased a bouquet and then quickly made my way back hoping she was still there. She was pacing in front of the pharmacy waiting for her prescription to be filled. Nervously, I walked up to her and handed her the flowers and said “Whatever it is, I hope it gets better soon. Merry Christmas.” And then suddenly feeling a great deal of love, I reached out and hugged her and she hugged me back. “Thank you,” she said quietly. I looked in her eyes and though there were tears, I also saw surprise and something else…hope. I turned and walked away and as I did so, she called out “Merry Christmas!” I smiled and disappeared. For the rest of the day, the memory of her brave smile and sudden “Merry Christmas” stayed in my mind and I felt as if my own worries and burdens had somehow been lifted.
I do not tell you this story to make myself look like something I am not. I tell you this story as a reminder that the best thing we can do to feel better about our own situations in life is to reach out and offer love, compassion and service to others. If random acts of kindness were the hallmark of our society, there would not be so much sadness, so much anger and so much hatred.
So when you feel as if despair has taken hold and you can’t see outside of yourself, do me one favor…look around, find someone who needs a hand of compassion and reach out with love. I promise you that your own burdens will seem lifted in return. Love sent to you all…
This was written long ago and originally meant to be a song, but it turned out to be more of a poem. I might turn it into lyrics someday, but for now, I felt it should be appreciated for just being what it is. I think there’s a metaphor in that somewhere…we should all be appreciated just for what we are. 🙂 Love to you all…
Turning, whirling, around and around Painted masks dancing To a chaos of sound Dawn comes, your face fades away The fantasy ends In the cold light of day.
How is it possible That you still invade my dreams? You flash upon my life Like an unwanted memory An unfinished painting gathering dust Still waiting on the edge of my reality…
Please let me go Please let me mend Tear your soul from mine Please let this agony end
With you I first tasted passion Embracing on the callous streets Soulmates at our first caress Strangers after lies confessed
But if I let go of my tight control I will lose this mask of sanity I have tried so hard to hold. Even with the passing years, You are still the Broken part of my soul.
Please let me go Please let me mend Tear your soul from mine Please let this torment end
When will your tender touch No longer caress my skin? When will your soft voice No longer echo within? When will your words fade from my mind? When will I put your love behind?
Please let me go Please let me mend Take your bittersweet memories And please, dear God, just let this love end…
I used to be embarrassed by the fact that I was a hopeless romantic. When I was a child, it was fine to believe in love at first sight, romance, soul mates, and happily ever afters. I loved dressing up in old dresses pretending that I was Cinderella at the ball and my Prince Charming was about to sweep through the door.
In my early teenage years, I would sit quietly in the corner during class and lunch and devour romance novels. My favorite author at the time (Emilie Loring) was a woman who had written more than 30 books from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. I loved her characters: the heroines were always beautiful, graceful and elegant. The heroes were always true gentlemen that would fall in love with the wholesome, positive and courageous women. The books were full of optimism and adventure and sprinkled with just enough romance that they thrilled my innocent heart. I firmly believed that my own hero would find me someday and I would have that relationship that I so yearned for.
Yet, as I grew older, I discovered from many of my peers that believing in these things were considered immature and childish. It was fine to seek a relationship, but I had to do so with a sophisticated, cynical veneer. I had spent so many years as a child being bullied that I was afraid of not fitting in, so I adopted the cynicism and mocked silly romantics with the best of them. I found it was easy to do since so little romance came my way. It was easy to make fun of it and pretend that it didn’t matter to me, when inside my heart was crying out for that tenderness, affection and passion that I had believed in as a child.
As the years passed and the gulf widened between my secret hopes and reality, I began to truly believe in the cynical viewpoint of relationships and love. My own marriage had failed and I have never experienced the love I had dreamt of all those years before. Did anyone have good relationships or was it all just a show? My own graveyard of broken hearts had just about convinced me to give up altogether. I found it ironic that the woman who had written a book about hope was feeling the complete opposite.
But then the universe stepped in yet again. One night, as I watched a documentary regarding a motivational speaker, I felt a little tug at my heart. He spoke of dreams and possibilities and the passion required to accomplish them. Facing my own stark reality, the floodgates in my soul opened and I sobbed. Was there really a possibility that my dreams could still become reality? I had buried those hopes so well after so many failures. But it was as if a little pixie dust from a passing star seemed to sprinkle itself on me reminding me of who I am.
I am a hopeless romantic. I love flowers, nature, beautiful clothes and soft music. I love mystery, adventure, romantic movies and above all…happy endings. I can honestly say that I still believe that my “one” is out there somewhere seeking for me and that one day I will have that relationship I long ago hoped for. And best of all, I can say that I have found faith in my dreams again and in myself.
For all the hopeless romantics out there, embrace who you are. We remind people to believe in magic and miracles and to hope again. Through music, art and words, we help others to find that indescribable “something” that lift souls above the ordinary. And most of all, we believe in love and the power it has to change lives.
Keep staring at the stars, romantic one, and maybe…just maybe, one day you will finally be able to touch one.
On Saturday night, I was privileged to attend a beautiful women’s conference. It was focused on reaching out to serve others, especially the 60 plus million refugees in the world today. It sunk deep into my heart.
I am a woman who has been greatly blessed in her life. I have seen many amazing places in the world. I’ve always had people who loved me and whom I loved. I have never known intense poverty. I’ve always had shelter, food and clothing. I might have been poor by American standards, but not by other countries in the world. I have always had enough.
My family was never forced to flee for our religious beliefs. I’ve never had to watch someone I love be killed because they chose to believe in a different God. I’ve never had to walk hundreds of miles just to find a safe place to call home. I don’t know what it’s like to watch your world torn apart as you become an orphan at a young age and must flee the horrors of war.
AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEKATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images
(Photo courtesy of The International Business Times)
Yet I understand pain, sorrow, grief and tears. I understand the shock that comes from having to start over again and feeling overwhelmed. I have witnessed disaster, intense poverty, fear, hunger, deep grief, tragedy, violence and death. But I have also witnessed relief, compassion, unconditional love, kindness, charity, and so much more.
As I strike out to go forth in the world on another adventure, this time I plan on giving back. I see the tears of the children and adults and my heart aches for them. I have so much love in my heart to give, why can’t I give back to those who have so little?
And this is why I call this post “A Call to Arms”…it is time for all of us to give back a little more. My situation is unusual as I will be able to travel to another country and do it there, but you can find grief, pain, fear and more right in your own backyard. The best way to resolve some of your own problems is to get outside of yourself and serve others!
The lyrics and song below are my own call to arms. Read and listen…let it sink into your soul…then PLEASE go out and help in any way you can…even if it’s just an extra smile and hug. Together we can all bring more light and love into this dark world and just maybe, make a real difference in the lives of those who are hurting. Let’s give back hope together. “Can you hear the pleas of the refugees for safe harbors of the heart?”
Safe Harbors – Michael McLean
“There are refugees among us That are not from foreign shores; And the battles they are waging Are from very private wars. And there are no correspondents Documenting all their grief, But these refugees among us all Are yearning for relief.
There are refugees among us. They don’t carry flags or signs. They are standing right beside us In the market check out lines; And the war they’ve been fighting It will not be televised, But the story of their need for love Is written in their eyes.
This is a call to arms, To reach out and to hold The evacuees from the dark. This is a call to arms, To lead anguished souls To safe harbors of the heart.”
If you wish to find a place to start helping, the site below is a great place to start!