I have been making friends with impermanence. It may sound silly, but after a profound meditation experience, I came face to face with the realization that I am a control freak, and while that control has helped me in some ways, it has also caused me much suffering. I’ve opened up to the reality that everything is in a state of impermanence — the seasons change, each day is different from the previous one, all living things grow, relationships change, the years go by.
At first this was rather scary to me, as it brought up all of my fears of the unknown. I wanted to hide in my usual pattern of planning in order to maintain some power over the future. Then it dawned on me: My life is in a much better place than it used to be, and that is due primarily to the moments over the past few years when I let go and went with the flow.
Love isn’t the same thing as romance. Romance is one way to express love – but we can express love in so many other ways, too.
Love isn’t just a feeling. It’s not just an emotion. Love is a commitment to putting your partner at the top of your priority list. Love is intimacy at every level.
The cold winter months are a good time to delve within to decide where you want to invest our energy, what you want to hold onto, and what you want to let go. This is always a very exciting time for me because although every day is a chance for a new beginning, I love the energy around this time of year. Everyone is open to the possibility of change and the boundless opportunity found there. To keep the momentum going, it is important to stay connected to your goals, your inspiration, and your belief in yourself.
This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to start having a sizzling affair. Not the way you think, though — I want you to choose your closest soul mate, the one who’s been there for you during all the ups and downs of your life and the person who has never, ever left you, and never will.
By The FIRM Master Instructor Leslie Perry Duffy
Nothing says “I love you” quite like a gigantic box of chocolates, right? Hardly! This special holiday symbolized by hearts and celebrated with high-calories treats can be anything but heart-healthy. However, there’s no hard and fast rule that requires us to celebrate with sugary candy and foods saturated with fat. Celebrating Valentine’s Day in a healthy way does not mean that you can’t enjoy your favorite treat in moderation. Or, forget the treats and celebrate in a unique way that’s special for you and your loved one(s).
My first taste of volunteer work came when I was 12 years old. It was 1976, and McDonald’s restaurants were encouraging kids to host carnivals to raise funds for muscular dystrophy. Though I had little understanding of muscular dystrophy, I loved a backyard party. My philanthropic mother had planted a deep seed in me regarding helping others. “To whom much is given, much is expected” was our motto.
I received my carnival kit and recruited the neighborhood kids to help. We had a fortune teller, sno-cone table, games of chance and more, raising about $70. But the major payoff was that I fell in love with good causes.
Since then, I’ve volunteered as a swim buddy for kids with spina bifida and worked with various organizations that focus on environmental issues, homelessness, poverty and AIDS. These days, I volunteer weekly at a soup kitchen, washing dishes and passing out fruit (when we have enough) to the down-on-their-luck men and women who come inside for soup and community. I also chair an eco-committee at my kids’ school. And though it seems counter-intuitive — after all, I’m a busy mom of three — I find myself with more energy to tackle my other commitments.
Life presents itself in a vast array of cycles: the cycle of the moon, the cycle of the seasons, and the cycles of the sun and tides. Celebrating these cycles with some type of ceremony is such a profound practice and one worth considering.
This past New Year’s Eve, rather than hit the town with friends, I was snuggled up by the fire holding a ceremony to close the cycle of 2013 and welcome the coming year.
For our ceremony, we found a little shop that sold a variety of stones. We picked out stones based on their traditional meanings. Each one represented something we wanted to cultivate or bring into the new year. We included stones like carnelian for passion and obsidian for letting go.
One by one we placed each stone in a little wooden box. We spoke about each stone’s meaning and specifically how we wanted it to infuse our lives in the coming cycle around the sun. We closed the box and put it outside for the night.
The next morning, we brought the box inside and imagined bringing all the things we had spoken about the night before into our lives. The box now sits open on our mantel to help us remember our intentions.
Does this sound familiar? A reader wrote:
Once my sons are on the computer or playing video games, I can’t get them to come to dinner or practice piano. They say they aren’t hungry, or that they have to use the computer to do their homework. What can I do?
Tech’s Taken Over
In the middle of 2013 I met Julia, who told me a story about a voice that woke her in the middle of the night. She wasn’t scared when it asked her, “Do you want me to heal your heart?” Julia had had a congenital heart problem since she was a child. Now pregnant, this heart problem rendered a natural childbirth unsafe for her as well as her child. So when the voice asked her, “Do you want me to heal your heart?” Julia said “yes” without hesitation.
Our Spiritual Cinema Circle film program for January is inspired by new beginnings.
The short film Chronophobe asks the question: How do we use our time?
Pink Balloons is the story of two strangers learning to understand one another with compassion.