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Posts tagged ‘kindness’


the path of happiness is measured by human kindness

So the Academy Awards are decided.  I enjoyed the show and agree with the outcomes.  I don’t care about the fashion or the best or worst dressed – everyone was beautiful as far as I’m concerned.

But, I’m so sorry that a wonderful, wonderful film was not on the award list. The wonderful movie, Happy, (, may not be Academy Award material, but it’s material that says a great deal about the meaning of life.

Happy is a documentary about the meaning and the search for happiness. When I saw the film recently, it reaffirmed for me that the path toward happiness is measured in human kindness.

To be happy, to find happiness is what we all want as human beings.  The filmmakers – psychologists and other professionals, tell us that the pursuit of happiness requires us to live a life in which performing acts of kindness is so ingrained in us it comes naturally and happens often.

When artists create, or writers write, they enter what’s best described as “the zone.”  That zone is where happiness happens and is measurable.

Depression, as we know, is an illness that is talked about, and talked about, and talked about. Depression is measured, diagnosed and medicated.  Acts of human kindness result in elevating the brain chemicals and systems that produce “happy endorphins and serotonin messages.”  When the brain is stressed-out and the happy chemicals in our brains go haywire on us, leaving us low, sad – depressed, medicine can turn it around.

Scientists and psychiatrists measure the level of depression and attempt to cure it with medicine that stimulates happy brain chemicals once again.   Granted, there’s much, much more to mental health – it’s serious and important and I don’t mean to make light of the topic… Instead, I wish to illustrate what the filmmakers of Happy tell us about how to create happiness, and that it can be measured and improved, too.

The main message of this film (for me) revealed a truth that simple human kindness, being grateful, sharing and giving to others, is a critical reality for living a life of happiness.  It’s all wrapped up in empathy, compassion for others; giving of ourselves, serving others, being passionate givers and knowing the return on that investment is our happiness.

In our daily lives we hear and read about hate and ugliness constantly.   Sadly we don’t hear about happy things such as examples of giving and compassion often enough. Rather, we hear and read news reports filled with politicians and criminals spewing hate.  They seem to embrace negativity and hate with a real passion.

Nearly every day this blog is used for people to talk about the Casey Anthony case.  Remember the Casey Anthony trial?  It was about determining who senselessly murdered a beautiful little child – Caylee Anthony.

In this Orlando, Florida case about the death of little Caylee Anthony, it was pretty clear that the toddler’s mother, Casey Anthony, single-highhandedly murdered her own daughter.

But, Casey Anthony was found not guilty by a jury of twelve people.  Granted, that was not a verdict anyone expected, least of all me, the reality of the trial’s outcome is something I’ve completely accepted.

Casey Anthony is not guilty of murder in the eyes of the law.

No one can punish or try her with this crime ever again.  No one…. That includes Federal entities, too, for those who are petitioning the government to try Casey Anthony in Federal Court.  It will not happen. And we need to thank our lucky stars that our justice system gives Casey Anthony that protection.

There are too many cases of truly innocent people punished by our system, and that is wrong, too, clearly.  The facts are these: The application of our state laws and our constitutional rights are often abused by over=zealous lawmakers.  There are prosecutors and law enforcement agencies out there who don’t always care about the innocent, they want to solve cases by any means possible.  It is up to us to VOTE for lawmakers who RESPECT the HUMAN Rights of all people, who apply the LAW evenly to ALL people.  That includes immigrants AND all ARAB human beings, by the way.

There are people in this country who believe in an eye-for-an-eye justice, like in Biblical times.  There are lawmakers who feel this way, too.  In fact, there are people with political power in this country who are so twisted, they’d like to give angry mobs the ability to hold be-headings, or hangings.  There is one GOP lawmaker in North Carolina who’d very much like that to happen. Republican Representative Larry Pittman says, “Let’s round up the (so-called), abortionists, rapists, kidnappers and murders and hang-em high.”  More specifically, Pittman said:

We need to make the death penalty a real deterrent again by actually carrying it out. Every appeal that can be made should have to be made at one time, not in a serial manner,” Pittman wrote in the email. “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.  via North Carolina GOP Lawmaker Calls For Bringing Back Public Hangings, Starting With Abortion Providers.

As America gets dumber it’s reflected in the people WE VOTE into office.

There are Americans who feel just as Representative Pittman does about forms of punishment.  There are people who want Casey Anthony dead. These angry and sick people would like nothing better than to see Casey Anthony face the ultimate punishment, and no doubt they’d like it to happen publicly.

God help them.

God help us all if haters, in the name of religion, seek justice their way.



Here’s to everyone out there looking for a new job, or any new opportunity in life.

Remember this:

























her baby, she told me….

She lost another one.  Another baby.  This was the third one she’s lost in three years, she told me.

She has two other children.  A 9 year old, and a 3 year old.

Her two children were looking forward to having a brother.  After the pregnancy got far enough along, at about the fourth month, she told the children about the baby.  They were over the moon about it!   So was she.

The three of them, mom, and two children, talked about the baby every day.

The kids began to plan, as kids do, for the eventual arrival of a new brother.

The kids wanted to name their brother; wanted to pick out his clothes; they drew pictures for his room, and talked incessantly about the baby, she told me.  When the baby came, the kids wanted to take turns doing baby chores like giving the baby a bottle, or holding or bathing him.

What about diapers, she asked them?  No, that was not on their radar.  Kids their age don’t think diapers – baby’s don’t make messes in their world.

There was a mess, though. The mess occurred when the baby was nearly six months in her womb.

She is single, poor, young, no health insurance.  Without health insurance, the doctor visits during pregnancy were inconsistent.  Well, she’s stretched thin, what with two kids to feed.

And, when you’re busy trying to survive moment-to-moment, when your amniotic fluid is slowly leaking from your womb to the extent the baby becomes endangered, you may not pay attention because you have two mouths in front of you to feed.

So, you ignore it until you can’t anymore and you push out a dead baby.

But you still have to work and take care of the kids the day you pushed out the baby.

The hospital tells you the baby needs a funeral, or should be cremated.

You opt for cremation.  But, before the baby is taken away, you take pictures.

You show the pictures to people. You show people the pictures of the dead baby you just pushed out of your body?

You showed them to me.

I was looking at pictures of two beautiful children – live children.  And then there were pictures of a dead baby.  A lot of pictures.

She didn’t see the look on my face because I held myself in perfect check.  I didn’t want to be rude, but I had to turn away.

I was able to maintain composure but I am haunted by it.  The baby was still very pink.

I was overwhelmed at seeing those pictures and suddenly felt as if I was under water.

I can’t get the images out of my mind.  It haunts me.

What made her think that I would want to see that?

She is of a different generation, a different culture.  Is that it?   I know in my heart that she showed them to me because she trusts and likes me; I am kind to her.  I go out of my way to be kind to her.  Not everyone is.  Kind, I mean.

A week prior to the day she showed me the pictures, she told me she had picked up the Urn with her baby’s ashes. The children, she said, refused to believe her baby was in there.  The children saw the pictures of the dead baby, she said because she wanted them to understand.

She told me they are too young to understand.  Yes, I said, I imagine that would be true. What could I say? 

She’s a strong girl, though.  She is fine.  I guess if she’s able to look at her baby’s picture on her cell phone, it means she must be doing fine?

I don’t know.  I know she has to survive.

She has other business to attend to.


Here’s my heart

It’s a Wednesday evening.  (Two more days until the weekend.)

I am exhausted from a long day of teaching, and it’s late right now.  I didn’t eat dinner (I forgot to), and I’m sitting here writing because, I am committed to the WordPress Post a Day challenge for 2011.  I have made a promise to myself to write every day until the clock strikes 2012.

I won’t try to convince you that it’s been an easy challenge because it’s not at all easy, but it’s never drudgery.  That’s because I love blogging.

As a result of signing up for this Post a Day challenge, WordPress sends bloggers different ideas about topics to write about.  Since I never had a problem deciding what to write about, I didn’t need the suggestions – I wrote about the Caylee Anthony murder for nearly three years and there was always something to write about!

A day or so ago WordPress sent out a suggestion for a post that I liked.   The  suggestion was to write a post about why we became bloggers and why we gave our blog its name.

Image Credit: Saper Galleries

The main reason I started this blog was to prove to myself that I could really do it, first of all.   And secondly, because I really really needed to vent about the Caylee Anthony case.  I never thought anyone would read my blog.  I didn’t think it would become anything other than a place for me to rant about the Anthony case.   I called the blog “only dreamin”  because it was my dream to begin a blog, I was only dreaming about anyone “liking” the blog.

It took a while for me to figure out what I was doing, and how to do it. It also took some time for me to figure out what my “voice” was on the blog.

My first blog post was July 11, 2009.  I had no idea what I was doing; no idea how to blog, or how anything worked on WordPress.  I didn’t know what “tags” were, I didn’t know anything and had no idea about “hits” either.  (Hits refer to people “hitting” or landing on your blog.)

I’ve always wanted to start a blog, but didn’t think I could write anything people would read.  In short, I never expected much, but my dreams were bigger than my doubts.

And then, I began to meet and chat with other bloggers, and friendships started in this little community of ours.  We all have grown to respect and like one another, too.

It was Sherry who was the very first commenter on my blog.  And when I read what she’d written it nearly made me cry, and I prayed she’d come back often.  She did!   One of the sweetest notes she wrote to me was:

God bless you in all of your endeavors! May all your dreams come true and when they do may you say, Am I dreamin’?

By the time I decided to commit to the Post a day challenge for 2011, so many new people began to visit and leave notes!    That has been the real blessing.

So, that is how this blog was born!  I thought it was a dream on the one hand, and on the other hand, it was an avenue for me to discuss my dreams (about happiness, gratitude, justice, and many more things).

I love blogging.  There is nothing more satisfying than to finish a post and press that “publish” button!  My heart stops every time I press that button.

I have not missed a single night of writing a post!  The grand total of posts for 2011, after this post is published, is a total of  222 posts.  (Yup, we are 222 days into 2011 already!)

I think this is a good time to tell my fellow-bloggers how much they mean to me.

It was in 2008 when I met Kitt in a chat-room about the Anthony case.  When Kitt came to visit for the first time, I couldn’t believe it!  I always learn something from Kitt. (Heart out to you, Kitt.)

Weezie aka Louise, has been so kind from very early on, when I first started the blog.  I have grown so fond of Weezie, and I delight in the support she constantly gives me. (Heart out to you, Weezie.)

Hilde, dear Hilde was one of the very first to visit.  Always so kind and supportive, and I love it when she “vents,” because her passion is divine.  (Heart out to you, Hilde.)

Knight Owl and Louie have been visiting for a while now, too.  No cat can hold a candle to Louie!  And Knight Owl has always brought so much knowledge and insight.  (Heart out to you, Knight Owl & Louie).

Jon is old faithful, but I think he’s so bummed about the verdict that he’s given up on blogging, and I miss him.  Jon has made me laugh so much!  (Heart out to you, Jon.)

Off-the-cuff is has incredible insight and analytical skills.  OTC tells it like it is, no holes barred, which I appreciate so much.  (Heart out to you, OTC.)

Rob is another old faithful and is another one with great insight.  Rob writes thought provoking comments – he’s pretty funny, too.  (Heart out to you, Rob.)

I love it when Venice visits, although she has a busy life, she pops in on occasion to make us laugh.  (Heart out to you, Venice.)

Kim, dearest Kim.  She has a blog, too, listed in my Blogroll.  Kim has the best spirit and more courage than I think I could muster.  My dear friend, Kim is always there.  (Heart out to you, Kim.)

EDRN and Kim and I became buddies when we tried to hula-hoop.  I never did it very well, but EDRN got pretty good at it.  Miss you, EDRN.  (Heart out to you, EDRN.)

CptKD, my dear friend, another Kim.  What a writer she is!  CptKD wrote a post for me, too.  That was a lot of fun, and a good learning experience for both of us. CptKD is another very courageous soul; and she brings an LE insight, too, which we love. (Heart out to you, CptKD.)

The fact that Dee visits and leaves such wonderful insight from a lawyers perspective is incredibly valuable and enlightening.  Dee is very generous about sharing her knowledge, and I am so grateful for that!  (Heart out to you, Dee.)

There is no better cheerleader than RahRah!  A loving and generous soul who has so much to share. Love her insight into the case.  (Heart out to you,  RahRah.)

Mainstreamfair, dear heart, has her own wonderful blog, too.  It’s on my blogroll.  If you’ve not visited her blog, you’ll love it.  Thank you for your support, Mainstreamfair.  (Heart out to you.)

Marinade Dave is someone I am honored to call friend.  What a writer!  He has been so generous with his vast knowledge about the Anthony case, and about Orlando.  We were all so pleased that Dave was hired by Orlando Magazine to cover the trial.  He did an incredible job, too. (Heart out to you, Dave.)

Nan11 doesn’t have a blog of her own (I don’t think), but she’s a wonderful writer.  Maybe she’ll start a blog, too – hint hint!  (Heart out to you, Nan.)

Humble Opinion’s blog was the very first blog I ever read on the Casey Anthony case. What a great job she does and has done, to record the events leading up to the trial in the Anthony case.  I don’t always have the time to visit her blog, but love it when I do. (Heart out to you, Humble.)

Damaged Pets is a writer who has great insight about the Anthony case, especially.  I get blown away nearly every time a comment is left because you get right to the core issue, Damaged Pets. (Heart out to you.)

Although I don’t always agree with GasCanGeorge, the comments give me a different perspective to consider, a different point of view.  The beauty of living is that we all think differently.  How boring it would be if there were no diversity of thought!  (Heart out to you.)

Faith is very kind and  knowledgeable and I always look forward to hearing from her!  Like her name, her faith is so great.  She is a true believer. (Heart out to you, Faith.)

Shyloh has been following the Anthony case, like most of us had, since day one, and her insight is rich, too.  I love the name “Shyloh” too!  (Heart out to you, Shyloh.)

And Lona1 is hysterical and always finds the best You Tube videos to share!  I love to laugh with Lona!  (Heart out to you, Lona1.)

Whistler’smother is another blogger with terrific insight who I love to hear from.  Thank you for all the time you visit!  (Heart out to you, Whistlersmother.)

KatyDid always has something kind and thoughtful to share…. I enjoy her visits so much!  (Heart out to you, KatyDid.)

Linda, NancyB, Colleen, Addie, Another Andrea, Darlene, Michael D, Marcie, Margaret, Brandon Bob…. You continue to teach me so much….. (Heart out to all of you.)

And lastly, Sherry, who I mentioned earlier as one of the first to visit and write lovely and encouraging things to me, has been such a dear friend to me.  Sherry, I think the world of you and I thank you for all you’ve given to support me these last couple of years.  (Heart out to you, Sherry.)

I am sure I have forgotten to list so many….  It’s not that I forgot you, it’s just that I am bleary eyed and my mind is mush, mashed mush to be exact.

In closing, I’m not only dreamin’ any longer because so many lovely people have jumped into my heart and filled it right up!


faith hope and love

I’m feeling a little under the weather tonight – exhausted mostly.  And, I just lost all the data in my iPhone as I was trying to update the software.  I figured out how to restore it, I think.  The phone seems to be righting itself.  It’s taking a long time, though.   I’d be lost without my iphone…. I have faith it will straighten itself out….

Anyway, I don’t have the energy to write tonight.   So, I’m leaving you with a passage from Corinthians, that I have loved since I was a child.

One of the bloggers here, Faith, shared this passage today.  And, I remembered how much I loved it, and how it made me feel to read it.

I am not one to read the bible, or go to church, or pray very much.  But I do have faith – in love especially.

In truth, I have only read pieces here and there from the bible, never the whole thing.

My bible is Shakespeare, poetry, and good fiction.  My personal God lives in everything and everyone, and of course, in Nature.

The interesting thing about this passage – no two versions of it are alike.  There is a vast differences from one version to the next.   I kind of like this version:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.   ~ 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

I have a great story for tomorrow, by the way…. you’ll love it!



The clock in an Orlando jail struck midnight and the bars opened and out she walked with her freedom fighter, Jose Baez.

She is free. Casey Anthony, according to the laws of this wonderful country, can now walk into freedom unburdened by the fear of retribution or hate or those who would do her harm.

It is beneath us as citizens to spew hate at a free American citizen.  We are better than this.

It was a few minutes after midnight, exactly three years from her initial arrest, and Casey Anthony took long and quick strides behind Jose and into an awaiting car and toward freedom.

I watched how she walked as she left the jail.  As I watched the replay of her release from jail, I thought to myself, this is the first time Casey Anthony has been able to walk without chains and handcuffs!

Seeing her dart out of jail behind Jose, I noticed that her arms were not keeping time with her strides as she walked.  It was if her arms were stuck to her sides.  And then, I realized, she has not been able to walk like that in three years!  No wonder she seemed awkward.

Leaving the Jail Behind. Photo Credit: Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel

You can see in this picture just how odd her posture is as she walks.

It’s as if she’s not sure how to walk, and is placing her arms behind her body to be handcuffed.

This is not the same nimble girl we saw in so many trial-pictures.

Besides that, look at the guy in the uniform with the big gun!

Who did he think he might have to shoot with that gun?

Casey was found not guilty – how bizarre it is that her first taste of freedom happened with guns all around, helicopters in the air, law enforcement on horseback, the general public screaming, “MURDERER,” and the paparazzi click, click, clicking away, dressing the dark, hot night with continuous bursts of light.

Freedom is something I take for granted. I hardly think about it.  Tonight I am thinking about it and realize how grateful I am for my freedom.

How do we define freedom when we are already free?  I guess, the only way for me to define freedom, really, is to define what it is not.

Not being free is to not have keys to the bars on your door.

Esoterically speaking you could say that freedom means being alive.  Aside from that, three years in jail is the absence of freedom.

If my windows and walls were made of bars, I would not be…:

  • going to Target
  • taking a bike ride
  • getting a new car
  • eating toast with guava jelly
  • having a beer
  • wearing a hat
  • eating ice cream with chocolate sauce that becomes like a hard chocolate shell, then heaping whip cream on top of that
  • kissing my dog making loud smooch-smooch sounds
  • tasting warm chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven
  • falling asleep on the couch
  • chatting with neighbors and their kids
  • laughing when my dog yelps and moves his feet in the air during a bad dream
  • eating eggs with grits for dinner
  • eating chocolate for breakfast
  • playing dominoes
  • eating blueberries one by one
  • taking pictures of butterflies
  • playing solitaire on the computer
  • extra pickles on a hot pastrami & cheese sandwich
  • seeing a ballet
  • getting a tweet
  • meeting friends for lunch
  • going thrift-shopping
  • eating Filet Mignon medium rare
  • wearing a new outfit
  • eating a baked potato – loaded
  • loving the smell of fresh bed sheets
  • yawning because someone else did
  • hearing children laugh
  • blogging
  • painting my toenails black
  • paying bills and having money left over
  • getting a goody-bag from mom
  • reading Shakespeare
  • going to the theatre with friends
  • Googling
  • looking at old pictures
  • wearing pearl earrings with matching pearl necklace
  • having seven pairs of flip-flops
  • putting a banana, with strawberries, and blueberries and ice in a blender and then drinking it
  • watching a movie in the middle of the day and not worrying about things I should be doing or need to be doing
  • listening to James Taylor
  • watching my dog eat a treat
  • going to “Butterfly World”
  • enjoying a cold diet Dr. Pepper when it really quenches my thirst
  • finding a lost earring
  • having thai food
  • Seeing Degas paintings up close
  • getting a new Netflix movie in the mail
  • seeing a rainbow
  • falling asleep outdoors
  • brushing my teeth when ever I want to
  • voting

I could keep this list going.

I am so grateful for the little things.


Happy 2011!

My goodness, the year 2010 just flew right by!  It was not a great year for me, so I’m glad it flew by and will soon be history. 

I am not one to party on New Years Eve, and usually am in bed while the new year sneaks in.  Tonight I’m cooking for my folks – it will be an early dinner – because they’re cooking tomorrow to celebrate the New Year.

I have enjoyed this holiday more than most.  My two grown nieces came to town to visit, and we had a ball together – they are beautiful and talented young women, one is an artist, the other, a writer.

It’s been so nice to have this week off, too.  The university I work for closes during the final week of December, and the employees are so grateful!

I wish I could say that I accomplished a lot over this past week, but I really didn’t do too much.  Well, I did do a lot of writing on the blog, which I enjoy so much, and wish I could do more of.  And, I did watch quite a few movies (thanks to Netflix streaming movies through my Wii player!).  And, I did clean house.  And I did shop. And I did visit with friends and family…. and, well, I guess I did accomplish a lot after all!

As far as resolutions… well, I am not very good at keeping New Year resolutions, are you?  However, the older I get, the more my waist grows, and grows and grows… So, a diet is part of my game plan for the new year.  I also want to do more photography, perhaps try to do a little free-lance photography work, too.  I want to keep writing, of course, and want to start a new blog dedicated to Training and Development, which is the work I do for a living.

But, my main goals for 2011 are to write as much as possible, loose about 50 pounds, and loose myself in photography.  If I can accomplish this, I will be happy!

Oh, and for fun, I’d like to go to London for the vacation my friend Kathy and I have planned to do for a couple of years now. It will be nice to take a real vacation!  Also, for fun, I need to be kinder and gentler to myself…. in the mad rush of life, I oftentimes forget me.  Do you do that too?

So, I propose that 2011 will be our year for great happiness and prosperity!  Yeah, I think that’s a good plan!

I have enjoyed chatting with everyone who posts and reads on my blog.  What a great bunch of folks you are!  I wish you so much happiness, prosperity, and joy in 2011 and beyond.

Big hugs to you all!



This is a short, but powerful, video featuring one of the most famous speeches by Harvey Milk, given in 1978.

Listen to Harvey Milk.  Listen to his message of  hope, peace, equality and justice for all.

We are all one people in this wide world.  Let us stop bullying each other.

Our classrooms are filled with children who, because of ignorance on the part of their parents, condone Gay hatred and thus we have young people committing suicide.  Young people who were born Homosexual but are too young to understand what it means to be Gay.  They are too young to know that being Gay is RIGHT for them.  Children who are too young to appreciate that no one should care about an individuals sexuality because it belongs to the individual.

There is no right or wrong in being Gay or Straight.  One is not better or worse than the other.  Believe this.  Live this for the sake of our children.  For the sake of children who will grow up to be lovely human beings, not necessarily because of their homosexuality, but because they will have grown up with a sensitivity that will become a lovely sensibility.

Believe this.  Stop the hatred.  Stop the bullying.  Condone kindness, empathy, and appreciate the different colors and the different sexuality that others own.

Live your own life without fear or judgment.

Just.  Live.

Say no to fear.

Somewhere in Des Moines or San Antonio there is a young gay person who all the sudden realizes that he or she is gay; knows that if their parents find out they will be tossed out of the house, their classmates will taunt the child, and the Anita Bryant’s and John Briggs’ are doing their part on TV. And that child has several options: staying in the closet, and suicide. And then one day that child might open the paper that says “Homosexual elected in San Francisco” and there are two new options: the option is to go to California, or stay in San Antonio and fight. Two days after I was elected I got a phone call and the voice was quite young. It was from Altoona, Pennsylvania. And the person said “Thanks”. And you’ve got to elect gay people, so that thousand upon thousands like that child know that there is hope for a better world; there is hope for a better tomorrow. Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s: without hope the us’s give up. I know that you can’t live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope. -Harvey Milk, 1978


the work of forgiveness

Thanksgiving weekend and the air around us seems to literally sing as our friends and loved ones gather around us – as we give thanks that our loved ones joyously grace our lives.

The ability to feel thankful rises from one’s ability to be truly grateful, this goes without saying. But, what about forgiveness? From where does that rise?

When one cannot forgive is it because gratitude and forgiveness are inexorably weaved together via our near-perpetual state of humanness? Is it due to our being human and thus imperfect, that we can not always forgive? It seems to me that choosing to not forgive is the ultimate negative emotion. Think of all the negativity involved in the act of refusing to forgive!

Often we hear people cry, “I just can’t forgive this”, or “I just won’t forgive that….” We nod and say, “I hear ya’, you need to just walk away from that.” And, yes, it is true, there comes a time when, to save our sanity, it is necessary to “walk away” when we feel put upon, abused or used. That is a positive first step. But I think it’s only the first in a long series of steps in the work of forgiveness.

But, do we always walk away with an intent to forgive eventually? What does it take to forgive? Is it necessary to forgive?

When one thinks of what it takes to forgive, really forgive, can that also include a murderer on death row?

Who among us could forgive a murderer? I don’t know if I could, but I have read about people who have been victims of murderers who go to the prison, face the guilty, and forgive them – right in the face of the murderer they say, “We forgive what you did because we know you are sorry for what you have done.” (Will forgiveness work only when the wrong-doer is repentant? I tend to think that is the case.)

Think of the redemption in the act of forgiving like God would forgive! Does the thought of such deep forgiveness stir something in you, as it does me? I want to believe that I could be such a forgiving person should a murderer kill my loved ones, but, to be honest, I don’t know if in reality I could be so forgiving.

I say so often, “Well, we are only human.” In the case of forgiving a murderer, I think it applies – we are not God, right? Well, this is indeed true, but can’t we be “god-like” in our actions and reactions?

I write about the Casey Anthony case because I have so much vested in the case – I’ve followed this case for so long and though I tire of it at times, I am fascinated by it, as many of us are.

And I often think, who is left to forgive Casey Anthony?

Her parents and family can’t forgive her and this is why they choose to believe someone other than Casey killed Caylee.

Can we forgive Casey Anthony? Does it even matter if we choose to forgive her or not?

I don’t have the answer to that. However, here’s a short passage from a little book I treasure. It will not answer the question for us, but may get us to think about what it really means to forgive and live with a grateful heart.


The following is taken from the text: “Attitudes of Gratitude”, by M.J. Ryan., pages 111-113.

Nothing blocks feelings of gratitude more than anger and resentment. That’s why the practice of gratitude requires the work of forgiveness. We can’t feel grateful to our parents for what we received from them when we are still angry about their abuse, self-involvement, insensitivity, alcoholism, or neglect. Nor can we receive the gifts of a relationship that has ended when we still feel hurt over betrayal, angry over deceit, sorrowful over abandonment.

Nor should we. Trying to force ourselves to feel grateful when such strong negative feelings exist only compounds the injury. We have been hurt. Let’s not deny our woundedness on top of everything else. Healing, in the form of acknowledging the grievance and grieving the loss or wound, needs to happen first.

However, there comes a time in the process of emotional resolution for forgiveness. For only forgiveness can move us out of the victim stance and free us to move on. Depending on the kind of wound you have suffered, this may be deep psychological and spiritual work. No one can talk you into it. No one can do it for you. Only you can come to the place where you want to forgive.

What helps the forgiveness process is to understand that resentment is a second-hand emotion, a cover for underlying feelings that have never been expressed….

….At some point you realize you are a better, stronger, more loving person than you might have been if you hadn’t been so hurt, and you recognize the gift in your particular suffering. In that moment, you move from victim to victor, from victor to venerated teacher.

Forgiveness leads to gratitude, and not just gratitude in general but, in a beautifully healing movement, to an outpouring of appreciation for the very things that caused such pain in the first place. Thus is our suffering redeemed.

There are many ways to victimize people. One way is to convince them that they are victims. ~ Karen Hwang


What I am thankful for…

Oh, my Thanksgiving eyes see thankfulness and joy in everything.  I have so much to be thankful for; so many people to be thankful for….

I have a blessed life and want for nothing.

I work at a great University.  I have a close-knit family (I say a prayer of thanks for my mom everyday). There is unspeakable joy in that.

I have a brother, Sister-in-Law, and niece who live in close proximity to me.  I live for the joy my five year old niece brings me.

Children are walking wonders – miracles.

Last Saturday, as I do many weekends, I babysat for my five year old niece, Elizabeth, and I asked her the same question she asked me.  “What was your “high” today, Elizabeth?’  She answered, “You, Andrea!”   To which I silently gasped with joy.  And my Sister-in-Law said, “Andrea, when she knows you are coming to babysit, she starts talking about it in the morning and asks us over and over, “When is Andrea coming, is it soon?”

I cried inside when I heard that.  I cry now to recall it.  Oh, the greatest gift of all is the love of a child.

I am blessed and blessed and blessed some more!

I am blessed to have you, my dear friends who are reading this.

I am blessed and thankful to have been given an ability to write, and a love of writing.

I am blessed and thankful to have been given the gift of creativity.  The art of creating is akin to touching God.

God is perfection – there is joy in creating that perfect and lovely sentence, or that perfect photo, or that perfect story.

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for so much.  I am honored to be alive and honored to have so much joy in my life.

Thank you to God and to each and every Higher Power in this rich universe for putting me right here. Right now. Right where I should be.

Thank YOU dear reader.

If the only prayer you say in your life is “thank you, ” that will suffice.  ~ Meister Eckhart



Life changes every minute of every day. You lose friends. You gain friends. You realize your friend wasn’t ever really your friend. And that person you used to hate can make a really good friend. You look for love. You find love. You lose love. You realize that all along you’ve been loved. You laugh. You cry. You laugh so hard that you cry. You do this. You do that. You really wish you hadn’t done that. You learn from that and are glad that you did. You have your ups. You have your downs. You see good movies. You see bad movies. You look at others and wish you were them. You then realize who they are and are glad that you’re you. You love life. You hate life. In the end, you just find yourself to be living life no matter what’s thrown at you.
~ Source: x3bbycakes


a daily dose of inspiration, and then some….

I know very little of Eileen Caddy, the person to whom this quote is ascribed, but am very appreciative of the message.  The photo was one I took on a rainy September day in Fern Forest, in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Dwell not on the past. Use it to illustrate a point, then leave it behind. Nothing really matters except what you do now in this instant of time. From this moment onwards you can be an entirely different person, filled with love and understanding, ready with an outstretched hand, uplifted and positive in every thought… and deed.

Eileen Caddy
1917-2006, Spiritual Teacher and Author


and I said thank you

Today I am choosing freedom from anger.

I hate myself for even wondering what people – rude people – say about older geeks like me in the workplace.  They talk and talk and I wonder why they, in their little sophomoric cliques, shoot wayward glances at certain people, including me, with such enjoyment.

A quote I just happened across is apt for this post.  It’s by Sandor McNab.  He writes:

Nothing determines who we will become so much as those things we choose to ignore.

So, as of now, TODAY, I choose not only to ignore, but I choose the absence of ignorance!

A blissful ignorance?  Yes, in this case a self-imposed ignorance is indeed bliss. (I abhor any kind of ignorance and hardly think it is truly bliss, but in this instance, I make an exception to the rule.)

Doesn’t it make perfect sense to never get to the place of ignorance in the first place?  That, to me, is empowering.

You see, by not even getting to a state of ignorance, we avoid giving terrible people (who do or say awful things), any power whatsoever.

They have no power over us unless we give them power.  Ignoring them is a choice, yes, but will we eventually get to a place where we won’t need to “choose” to ignore them – they will “be” ignored?

I think so.  Two negatives do not make a positive.  My mom always told me – you surely heard this one too – “two wrongs don’t make it right.”  Anger breeds anger.  Hate, hate.

It is far more powerful to choose gratitude rather than anger.

If negative thoughts derive from the negative actions that are witnessed in others, instead of dwelling and wallowing in the anger of it, can we choose to be grateful instead?

Yes, I believe so… but, how?

It’s about thought process.

  • If I hear something negative about me or others; I could choose to turn my attention to something beautiful like the sight of Herons, butterflies, or, the sound of a child’s laughter; what the waves sound like and what the sand would feel like between my toes at the beach.
  • If a loud and aggressive person talks over me and ignores me in a meeting, I will be thankful for the time it gives me to sneak a peak and re-read a lovely email from a friend; glance at a photo that I love, or daydream about an upcoming event.
  • When somebody is loud and unruly in the office and it’s difficult to think; I won’t care because it’s the perfect opportunity to listen to a brand new CD.

This is what I did today:

I noticed the sky outside my office window was steel-blue and the clouds were so enormous and made delightful shapes in the sky.

So, I said “thank you” out loud to no one in particular.

I felt (as I often do) that I have more work than I could ever finish; so I said a little gratitude-prayer  because I have a job when so many are unemployed.

So, I said “thank you” out loud to no one in particular.

I got a new project today that will be a bear.  I allowed my fingers to enjoy how it felt to flip through the mountains of reports that I must read.  I let the paper feel good in my hands and I enjoyed the smear of color that my highlighter made as it painted a splotchy yellow swipe across words that I found to be important on each page.

I said “thank you” out loud to no one in particular.

I found a piece of Orbit Peppermint Bubble Gum in my suit jacket from the last time I’d worn it.  My mouth literally watered in anticipation of chewing it.

And I said “thank you” out loud to myself in particular!

Do you see what I mean about gratitude?


inspiration made of sand and stone

Sand and Stone

This story tells of two friends who were walking through the desert. During some point of their journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, she wrote in the sand:


They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath.

The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but her friend saved her.

After she recovered from the near drowning, she wrote on a stone:


The friend, who had slapped and saved her best friend, asked her, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now, you write on a stone, why?”

The other friend replied: “When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it, but when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone, so no wind can ever erase it.”

(Learn to write your hurts in the sand and carve your blessings in stone.)

Author Unknown


Happy Mother’s Day

Coming home

Coming home

How lucky are we who can celebrate our Mom’s today.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

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