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Drive Yourself Happy Newsletter 6/27/07

Move Your Feet

Hello Friends and Traveling Companions,

Last night I carved out time to see An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary featuring Al Gore created to raise our awareness about Global Warming. It did for me in a powerful and practical way, and left me with hope rather than despair. I felt it was well done for many reasons, and I encourage you to see it, but lengthy discussion of that I will leave for another time.

What has stayed with me the most today was a short quote included in the credits that caught my attention:

When You Pray, Move Your Feet.

— African Proverb.

Some of us remain paralyzed by inactivity and trapped by depression. Others move our feet to break free of the trap, but feel like we are running in place or are making good time but don’t know where we’re headed. We are overwhelmed by what is on our plate and we attempt to get it all done at the expense of family, friends and our own health. Or, we misuse our time looking busy and focus on everything but that which makes us truly happy.

I myself am an evolving woman with a renaissance soul. I love to learn, explore, stretch and serve, and one of my greatest challenges is to focus. There is no doubt that there is value in having diverse interests and being able to multi-task. But, there is equal value in taking it one thing at a time offering total attention. Discernment, our ability to listen within to our true calling and choose wisely, is what is essential to know if we are on or off course.

A few weeks ago I saw a rare interview with Oprah Winfrey in which she was asked how often she prays. Once a day? Twice a day? Oprah looked almost amazed by the question. She responded by sharing that prayer is her way of being. She never stops. Everything she does and every decision she makes is made from a lifestyle shaped by prayer. I have to say I, too, more times than not have realized the benefits of praying on your feet, being prayer in constant motion. It means to stay conscious, appreciate the present moment, and apply what you can in a loving way with the intentions of making a meaningful difference.

One of my most valuable teachers lately is my niece, Alicia. She is most definitely an example of prayer in motion. She did not choose the circumstances of her life right now, does not have the luxury of sitting for very long, is constantly exhausted, and could easily see herself as a victim. Despite the challenges that come one after another, she makes the time to maintain a web of connection with and appreciation for loved ones as she supports her 2 year-old-son, Connor and traverses with him at least a year-long journey of healing his leukemia. Although it is hard for her to acknowledge her own grace, I marvel at how she manages the curves as they come, balancing not only Connor’s needs, but also those of baby Carson who is 5 1/2 months old and dad who is working back in Alaska. What could tear others apart, she has opened herself to letting it make her stronger.

Very few of us are immune from the unexpected rough spots that appear along the way. Hopefully yours will not ever be as huge as hers. Hard times seem to come at inconvenient moments, and often times reveal inconvenient truths that call for our attention. All are opportunities to grow and deepen. This is a challenging lesson to grasp, that it is not the size or texture of the circumstances that really matter. What matters most is the grace with which we face them. Herein lies our freedom. Herein lies our happiness.

I offer another excerpt from Alicia’s journaling as an update of Connor’s progress as well as a template for handling un-imaginable things with grace. Alicia offers us a remarkable example of what prayer looks like when you are moving your feet. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “I am trying to … trust that we are exactly where we are meant to be. I have never had to do anything this difficult before, I keep waiting for it to get easier, to become more routine but it seems like it just gets more challenging. I have so many things to be thankful for and I feel as though I am being selfish to want more. We had a wonderful visit with Steve… It seemed like his visit was never going to get here and now it is already over and we are back to counting days till he can come back.

Connor had to go to the emergency room on Monday night because he caught baby Carson’s cold and his fever just wouldn’t go away. After a blood test and a couple of hours at the ER they sent us home. Connor’s ANC (white blood cells) are almost back to “normal” so he is able to fight the viral infection without needing to stay at the hospital (yeah!). He seems to be doing much better today. The Dr. said he looked good and she doesn’t need to see him again until next week unless he his fever goes back up.

Connor’s hair was falling out from the chemo and he was getting some bald patches so while Steve was here we decided to shave his head. He now looks like all the other kids here. Bald is beautiful.

Staying at the Ronald McDonald House a lot of the kids look the same as him; big cheeks from the steroids and bald little heads. It is not until we go to the store that I realize just how different he looks. When you hear people make comments about his appearance I feel like I should explain the reason he looks the way he does, but if it doesn’t bother Connor, it doesn’t bother me.

Carson seems to be feeling better, finally over his cold and his thrush seems to be going away. He will be crawling any day now. I am OK. I have good days and moments when I can’t wait for the day to be done. Overall I am keeping my head above water, trying not to be overwhelmed and pushing forward. We have been here over a month now and pretty soon the months will turn into us being able to go home. I appreciate all the love and support from everyone. It amazes me everyday how lucky I am to have so many people who care about us.

Please pray: For lower than 1% on Connor’s next bone marrow test (6/28/06) We will all get over this cold That even though there are miles between Steve and I we stay connected” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In big and small ways we each can make a difference. Everyone is called in some way to pray while or by moving our feet. All that is called for is picking up one foot and putting it in front of the other motivated by a clear intention even when we may not want to, or even when our steps feel imperfect. With your heart wide open and acting from a place of love, with a willingness to recognize happiness regardless of your circumstances, joy and grace will be your steady companions, in spite of small bumps, huge hurdles, or inconvenient truths.

In Joy, Rhonda ***************** Money Desn’t Really Buy Happiness Ode Magazine 24-Aug-2004

It may not seem like it to us, but research shows that money doesn’t buy happiness. Another ongoing controversy is whether it’s hard on children when their mothers work. Scientists have found this is true—but only for wealthy women!

On a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 means “not at all satisfied with my life” and 7 means “completely satisfied,” the people on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans average 5.8—the same as the Inuit people in Greenland and the cattle-herding Masai of Kenya, who live in dung huts with no electricity or running water. Calcutta’s slum dwellers score only a little lower, at 4.6.

Psychologists Ed Diener and Martin E.P. Seligman analyzed more than 150 studies on wealth and happiness and found that “economic indicators have glaring shortcomings” when it comes to determining how happy people are. They report that, in many countries, “although economic output has risen steeply over the past decades, there has been no rise in life satisfaction…and there has been a substantial increase in depression and distrust…Economic success falls short as a measure of well-being, in part because materialism can negatively influence well-being, and also because it is possible to be happy without living a life of luxury.”

Also, people who say they’re happy usually go on, years later, to earn higher incomes than people who say they’re not. We would think that being discontent would inspire people to succeed, but the opposite seems to be true.

Government policies that promote economic growth, while shortchanging workers on things like vacation time, family time and health insurance, will not produce happy citizens. Since World War II, the per capita income in the U.S. has tripled, but life satisfaction has stayed the same. The same thing has happened in Japan and Western Europe. One reason may be that a rising economy, and the aggressive advertising that accompanies it, makes people desire even more things; therefore, they remain discontented.

A new study shows that most mothers who go out to work do not harm their children’s development—unless they earn a lot of money. While 90% of mothers work during their child’s first nine years, only 15% put in more than 35 hours per week, but women in high powered—and high paying—jobs often work longer hours. And the study showed that an extra 20 hours of work a week among high income mothers did significant damage to their children’s performance in school.

Why would this be? One reason could be that lower income mothers bring in money that buys necessities and thus is vital to family happiness, while upper income mothers mostly earn luxuries that do not make up for the lost time with their kids.

***************** Drive-By Quotes (and Reflections) To Carry With You on the Journey

“Rivers know this: There is no hurry, we shall get there some day.”

— Winnie the Pooh

“We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”

— Ethel Barrett

“The worst sin – perhaps the only sin – passion can commit, is to be joyless.”

— Dorothy Sayers

“Fun is about as good a habit as there is.”

— Jimmy Buffett

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