tests

Tests

“Either we are tested or we are testing in every moment of our lives.”  — Sheryl Miller

Yes, I was looking for just the right quotation about tests, found none and made up my own. Isn’t that the perfect example of a test? When you are looking for something and cannot find it, what do YOU do?

I think about the ubiquity of social media and how it has made each customer’s contact with a business an important test. If the pizza delivery arrives late, the restaurant fails the test, and its score is posted on Yelp within minutes.

Are we tested by the Creator? Yes, constantly! How do we respond to inconveniences? How well do we reach out to others for help? How quickly do we come to someone else’s aid? What do we do on those days when absolutely nothing goes right?

My point is that life is a series of tests. Tests are normal. They teach us about ourselves. They teach others about who we are. We are constantly testing other people and being tested by them. Tests are how we gather information about our world, just as a teacher uses a test to gather information about how well his/her students learned the material.  Tests aren’t positive or negative. They are simply one of the best tools humans have for learning. Pass or fail, it doesn’t matter. The point is we must use our tests to learn, to grow, and to be the best souls-in-human-bodies that we can be.

Namaste, Sheryl

Love is Grief is Love is…

You can’t breathe. You can’t sleep. Thoughts of your dear one consume every moment you’re awake and asleep.

GRIEF comes slowly. It knocks softly on the door, at first. Then, it becomes more insistent as the weeks and months go by, until it hits you in the face: It is Grief, and it is here.

Grief comes quickly. You are walking along, minding your own business. Everything is fine with the world, and then, Bam! There is Grief. It is shocking in its intensity. You try to deny it, but all the signs are there, and it cannot be denied. Sudden Grief can only be accepted, and only by those who are strong enough to handle its bombshell.

Grief affects every single cell in your body. You can’t breathe. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat (or you eat more than you should). Thoughts of Grief and of the one you Lost consume every moment while you’re awake and while you sleep.

Grief makes you think you’re going crazy. Your thoughts become irrational. You think of the past and of the future. Even when you want to concentrate on the moment, the enormity of Grief makes it difficult.

Why Grief, you wonder? Why Grief now? Is this really real? This feels too horrible to be true. The intensity of Grief stops you in your tracks. It wants your undivided attention. No longer can you spend time on the mundane. Grief must be dealt with—must be processed—first.

You who can process Grief can move forward into a new, peaceful coexistence with the one you Lost. You who deny Grief are stuck in its grasp. Even though a tranquil life is ahead, it is around a bend in the road. Processing Grief places you at the bend, and that is where you can see your new life. The one you Lost is there and brings beauty to your life. You can breathe and function again. And yes, there is Love off in the distance when the time is right and not a moment before.

Grief is what it is. Accepting and embracing Grief make it real. When Grief arrives, invite it in. Let it stay as long as it wants to. Don’t speed it up. Don’t slow it down. Let it take you on the journey you need. Grief is not an anomaly. It is not abnormal. It is not an exception to Life’s rules. It is not to be denied. Whether Grief arrives slowly or quickly, it is meant to be embraced and integrated. Grief will forever change you for the better, if only you will let it.

 

LOVE comes slowly. It knocks softly on the door, at first. Then, it becomes more insistent as the weeks and months go by, until it hits you in the face: It is Love, and it is here.

Love comes quickly. You are walking along, minding your own business. Everything is fine with the world, and then, Bam! There is Love. It is shocking in its intensity. You try to deny it, but all the signs are there, and it cannot be denied. Sudden Love can only be accepted, and only by those who are strong enough to handle its bombshell.

Love affects every single cell in your body. You can’t breathe. You can’t sleep. You can’t eat (or you eat more than you should). Thoughts of Love and of the one you Found consume every moment while you’re awake and while you sleep.

Love makes you think you’re going crazy. Your thoughts become irrational. You think of the past and of the future. Even when you want to concentrate on the moment, the enormity of Love makes it difficult.

Why Love, you wonder? Why Love now? Is this really real? This feels too wonderful to be true. The intensity of Love stops you in your tracks. It wants your undivided attention. No longer can you spend time on the mundane. Love must be dealt with—must be processed—first.

You who can process Love can move forward into a new, peaceful coexistence with the one you Found. You who deny Love are stuck in its grasp. Even though a tranquil life is ahead, it is around a bend in the road. Processing Love places you at the bend, and that is where you can see your new life. The one you Found is there and brings beauty to your life. You can breathe and function again. And yes, there is Grief off in the distance when the time is right and not a moment before.

Love is what it is. Accepting and embracing Love make it real. When Love arrives, invite it in. Let it stay as long as it wants to. Don’t speed it up. Don’t slow it down. Let it take you on the journey you need. Love is not an anomaly. It is not abnormal. It is not an exception to Life’s rules. It is not to be denied. Whether Love arrives slowly or quickly, it is meant to be embraced and integrated. Love will forever change you for the better, if only you will let it.

Namaste,  Sheryl

lifeismessy

Life Is Messy

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.” – Haruki Murakami (1949-)

What’s the difference between happy people and troubled people? It’s the way they process the messiness of their lives. I used to know a grown woman who was very unhappy and walked around feeling jealous of the happy people she met. She complained that life had handed her a miserable existence, and it wasn’t fair that other people didn’t have problems like she did. I was a child at that time, and so I took her assessment to be the truth.

In case you’re one of those folks who thinks those of us who walk around with a grin have an exemption from life’s storms, maybe I can help you join the ranks of the happy. I am a people watcher, an observer of life, and I have an insatiable curiosity about people and how they go about their lives. What I have noticed is that The Creator exempts NO ONE from pitfalls, tragedies and serious problems. It’s the people who, when their lives are a mess, ACCEPT that their lives are a mess who can walk out of the storm, as Haruki Murakami writes above.

I have two good friends, both of whom lost their husbands — one to choices on his part that ended the marriage and one to death. The first friend is struggling to believe that he did what he did and that her marriage is over. She wants the pain to end. She wants the storm to be over. She wants everything to be like it used to be. The second friend came to peace with her husband’s death within a few months. Yes, she had lost, but she immersed herself in her grief and then, she was able to see what she had gained. You can guess which of my friends is now experiencing happiness.

So, what are the steps to turning the messiness of life into happiness?

  1. Acknowledge your losses. Talk or write out them out. Get help from a professional counselor; the good ones help you acknowledge your pain at a rate that won’t devastate you.
  2. Grieve your losses. Some of your dreams will never come true. Some people will not be in your life, or at least, not in the way you’d like them to be in your life.
  3. Make your losses matter. Use them to do something positive for someone else. American TV personality John Walsh turned the abduction and murder of his son into a crusade which contributed to the capture of more than 1000 fugitives. Use your losses to shape your character in a way that softens you and makes you empathetic to others.
  4. Walk through your losses into your new life. Your life will never be the same. It’s not supposed to. You are more empathetic now. You appreciate sunrises more. You don’t take for granted that you will be alive tomorrow. You consider any day without a tragedy a beautiful one, and guess what? That puts a smile on your face!

Namaste,  Sheryl

giving

Giving – Our Natural State

“We may give without loving, but we cannot love without giving.”  — Bernard Meltzer (1916 – 1998)

Quotations about giving and love, like this one above, bewildered me for most of my life. I didn’t understand them. I was raised to believe that I might be worthy of love, if I fulfilled some condition. The process of giving was akin to a currency system. Giving meant I might receive something. Receiving meant I would give up something. In my house, we kept score, and giving for no reason or purpose was unthinkable. My family was the embodiment of the first phrase of Meltzer’s quotation.

I had no idea that this thinking was unhealthy and that I was broken. But the Creator of All,  in His/Her wisdom, created and then recreated troublesome scenarios in my life so I could question, “Why is this happening again?” I found people to help me. Wayne Dyer’s work was a start. Deepak Chopra’s books were life-changing. Brene Brown leaves me speechless. Two counselors and several social  media communities provided the insight I needed. And now, ten years along this journey, I am profoundly different.

Giving with love and without conditions is our natural inclination.  It is one important reason why we are here. Please, pause a moment and ask your soul if this is true.

Raise your hand if asking this question put a smile on your face and brought peace to your heart. (Wow, that’s a lot of hands!) Can you give without expectations or conditions? If yes, then continue to do so as much as you can. Every act of giving, no matter how large or small, brings peace to the world. If no, then practice; it will come naturally after a while. You can start little: slip money into the tip jar when the cashier turns his head or give more credit to someone else than yourself on a group project.

Finally, let’s talk about giving in, which I think is one of the most beautiful ways of giving with love. Giving in is about unconditional acceptance of differences in people, in their ideals, and in their ideas. Loving people so much that you will not argue with them is an expression of respect, and it recognizes their individual importance in our world.

I apologize for rambling on. It has been a while since I blogged, so my writing is a little loose. But hang in there with me; it will get better. With love, I give you my best, and I wish you peace and success on your journey.

Namaste, Sheryl

Do Mistakes Really Exist?

“Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

You may have to read this quotation a few times to fully understand it; I sure did.

Let me tell you about my three biggest mistakes: 1) I stayed in an abusive relationship for over four decades; 2) I moved to Hawaii; and 3) I worked too hard to try to keep a mentally-disturbed foster child in my home.

Now, I can’t tell you about my biggest mistakes without telling you about my greatest accomplishments: 1) After discarding my abusive relationship,  I discovered a scared, sweet child inside myself who needed a lot of coaxing from me to come out. I made for myself what many people take for granted: a safe home, surrounded by family and friends who love and respect me in the healthiest sense of those words.  2) My move to Hawaii ended up being my greatest unselfish act, as it allowed my husband and his grown son to reconnect and mend their broken relationship in the months before my husband unexpectedly died. 3) I wanted so badly for my foster daughter to become my adopted daughter that I took her to multiple medical and psychological professionals to figure out why she hadn’t settled into my home. Child Services didn’t want recorded that she had a serious attachment disorder, but because of me, they didn’t have a choice. Because of me, that little girl received the mental health services she needed. She didn’t stay in my home, but because of that mistake, I learned how important it was to provide immediate and gentle care to babies; and I needed that education to become a healthy mom for the babies I would later have.

What got me through all three of those mistakes was the knowledge that a greater power existed. There were times when I cried out in agony to the Creator. There were times when I felt completely abandoned by the Creator. But as I discovered the accomplishments, I could not deny the fingerprints of the Creator on my life.

Thank you, Creator of All, for providing great wisdom in great mistakes.

Namaste, Sheryl

Life Is Hard

“I can handle anything life throws at me.”

Not long ago, I came upon a quotation I can only now paraphrase. It said that this life is full of problems and struggles, and that acknowledging that fact can bring us peace.

How many times are we fed the nonsense that we must always feel good? Life has too many down moments. I have met some truly happy people, and none of them are without significant problems and events. They are happy, because they know that life brings them positive and negative moments, and it’s easier to feel peaceful during a tough situation when you know it’s  temporary and soon to be balanced out by easy times.

Accepting the pain and yes, agony, of tragic situations helps us to grieve our losses. Washing ourselves in authentic anguish brings to the surface our pain and causes us to release emotions which, if trapped inside, would otherwise incapacitate us.

In the welcoming of the agony of life’s losses, we can also welcome the new opportunities and blessings that come with them, too. And in those moments, we find joy in knowing we can handle anything life throws at us.

Namaste, Sheryl

It’s Never Too Late

In the world of the 1% — the world of material things we can touch, see, taste, feel and smell — deadlines abound. There are deadlines for filing taxes, for store coupons, for events, and so on.

In the spiritual world — the other 99% — there are no such deadlines. The dreams for our souls are not really tangible goals, as we would consider a goal for running a marathon. So, when you wish “to see the world,” “to become more compassionate,” or “to overcome an addiction or a lifelong struggle,” it’s never too late to work on those dreams.

When you choose to work on your soul, you start down a path of growth and enlightenment. There is no finish line. Rather, there are many forks in the road, and it’s the journey along the path that molds your character or feeds your soul.

It’s never too late.

Namaste, Sheryl

A Trusted Friend

Has this ever happened to you?… You meet someone you like. You get to know her. You have a lot of interests in common, and you start hanging out together. You learn about him, and he learns about you. And when things are going so well that you are sure you can pour your entire heart out to this person, you find out that you have a fundamental difference with her. Maybe it’s a difference in politics or his stance on abortion.
 
This is so disappointing, right?
 
Unless… Unless, you can know this is to be expected. Always! 
 
Yes, you will find lots of people who will support and love you and with whom you can make fun and wonderful memories. And yes, you will have at least one fundamental difference with every one of them. Even your life partners! Especially your children!
 
There is but one “person” with whom you have every single thing in common, with whom you will never find a fundamental difference. The Creator of All created you in Her/His image, and for that reason alone, you will easily be able to discuss any and all subjects with Her/Him.
 
Aren’t you glad you’re one of the millions of people who has a direct connection with The Creator of All? I am!
 
Namaste,
   Sheryl

In the Silence

“Silence is the true friend who never betrays.”

– Confucius

This one little sentence seems to hold many meanings. I wondered what Confucius was trying to teach in these few words, and so I researched it. Two items surfaced for me.

First, Confucius taught about the merits of recollection, introspection and deep thinking – he used the word “silence” to describe this process.

Second, Confucius taught that actions are much more powerful than words. Silence–not saying anything–was just fine, as it is our actions which define us and make us more or less valuable to ourselves and others.

Combining these two items could mean that using recollection and deep thinking can bring us to the truth of situations and help us to devise reactions and/or solutions. Staying silent and acting out those solutions makes our reactions unmistakable. Spoken words will not interfere with actions that can be seen and felt.

Confucius intrigues me! I will be reading his wisdom more regularly.

Namaste, Sheryl

be an example

Be an Example

“The master is content to serve as an example

and not impose his will.” – Tao te Ching

Good day to you! Before you read any further, let me start by saying that if you believe the above words to be true, you will get a lot out of today’s blog. If you don’t, then hit your “back” button, and hopefully, I’ll have something wiser for you in the next segment.   🙂

This saying really resonates with me. The teachers in my life with the most profound effect taught me with their examples and not their words. I remember my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Kirby, whose passion for Texas history drew me into wanting to learn about the early days of my home state. Recently, my son’s martial arts instructor taught me through his example how to raise my expectations of discipline and polite manners from three-year-olds while still having a lot of fun with them. With perfect form, Master Kim delivers a front kick to a training bag, and while he doesn’t expect his littlest students to do the same, he DOES expect them to listen respectfully to him and to work hard.

Just as these words apply to humans, I believe they apply to The Creator, too. I believe The Creator serves as an example to us in many ways:

  • Plants and trees are The Creator’s example of teaching us patience. All flowering and growth happens at just the right time, in the right season.
  • Young animals and children are The Creator’s example of teaching us to treat life with wonder and a playful attitude.
  • Storms are The Creator’s example of teaching us that the toughest of situations do not last very long, and then there is peace afterwards.
  • Birth and death are our strongest examples of The Creator teaching us about change and transition, a recurring theme in our lives on Earth.

Does The Creator, the ultimate Master, impose His/Her will? I don’t believe so. I believe we have free will, that we will live much of our lives in expected ways because we are human, and that The Creator wants to be a partner in our lives. Hoping for us to consult with Him/Her and imposing His/Her will are very different from each other.

Namaste,  Sheryl