I Like Christmas

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Photo by Christian Mosemann

Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
Washington Irving

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

To me, Christmas means beautiful lights, music, food, and laughter; the look of anticipation in the eyes of young children. My church will have it’s Christmas breakfast. We’ll sing the wonderful old traditional songs. Our minister will remind us of our reasons to be hopeful and that giving blesses both the receiver and the giver; that love and compassion still exist and that we can, with help, be transformed into compassionate, loving people.

But it can be a lonely time of the year. Avoid loneliness by joining people who are helping those in need. Find a way to help a religious group or a community organization assist those in need. Let them enjoy Christmas too. Consider the gifts and abilities you have and what the community needs from you. You’ll feel more connected as contribute. It feels good to contribute to the well-being of others. Isolation only leads to bitterness.

The focus of the season is still love, peace, and giving. You can be part of this. You can choose to compassionately love and give to others. The amazing thing is that we can choose to give no matter what our circumstances might be. You can know that you connected, helped someone else, and in the process, helped yourself.

Christmas is a reminder that we can find beauty and good in this world of ours. May you have a truly merry Christmas.

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Photo by Christian Mosemann

There’s A Way Out of Loneliness

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Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.  Mother Teresa

“There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.” G.K. Chesterton

Loneliness thrives when you’re disconnected with yourself and others. Today, as a culture, half of Americans live alone. Many have given up on the religious communities whose work it is to lovingly give us, wisdom, help us find a sense of purpose, and help connect us with others and God. These are places to celebrate our joys and to find compassion and comfort in our time of sorrow.

We need community and we seem to do better when we sense a connection with an ultimate sense of being that many call God. We have known this for millennia.

Loneliness can have it’s roots in the past. For example, some of you may have experienced –

Neglect. (Why would anyone want me?)
Chaos. (Who can I depend on?)
Bullying. (Why can’t I be defended?)
Rejection. (Why wouldn’t I get rejected again?)
Isolation. (How could I fit in?)
Disappointment. (Why would things work out now?)
Aloneness. (Why would someone look out for me now?)

These lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and hurt. Sometimes you can feel so hurt that you feel consumed by it. Beauty, truth, and love may feel far away. You’re not good enough; others, including God, aren’t good enough. Therefore, why would you try to find a friend? To avoid rejection, you might tell yourself that happy people live in fantasy; that they have nothing to teach you; that there’s no hope for you. But, inside, you know you need and want a friend.

There is hope –

There are people who choose to be compassionate and loving. You can be one of them.

Good, wise, people can help you be a friend and find a friend. You can choose to focus on what is good, beautiful, and true.

You can move from judgment to compassion.

Consider compassion toward yourself and others. Everyone has his/her own pain to deal with. Some had deal with the results of war and natural disasters. Some may be been deceived and think that alcoholism, drug abuse, intimidation, compulsive devotion to work, etc., are good for them. We’re all in the process of learning to live as we go along.

Connecting with yourself and others, of course, is the only way to reduce loneliness. To do that you have to be compassionate, loving, and graciously firm about what is and is not acceptable to you.

1.Learn to know yourself and be compassionate and firm with yourself.

2. Get comfort by expressing your pain to a compassionate person.

3. Give up demanding that life be your way; it doesn’t work.

4. Accept that it’s a struggle to be a person with kindness and integrity. Work at it.

5. Find compassion for others. They have their own challenges.

6. Live in the now. The past is gone; the future’s unknown.

7. Accept that nothing in life stays the same. Appreciate what you have.

8. Learn to be a good judge of people.

9. Join groups with kind people of integrity.

10. Move from self-focus to asking what the world needs from you and contribute.

Dealing with loneliness may seem like a daunting task. It can take courage and strength. You don’t need to work on it alone. Be willing to allow others to help you. This is a worthwhile task. You owe it to yourself to truly live.

My Contribution to a Happy Home

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Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.
Mother Teresa

I love to come home to the warmth and laughter there. I want to do what I need to do to maintain a happy, healthy, home. A garden needs water, fertilizer, and someone to remove the weeds. The atmosphere of a home also needs tending to. Here’s what I work at –

1. Sound ethics and morality. I work at following the teachings of my Christian church, the professional ethics of the National Associations of Social workers, and the regulations of the Social Work Board of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Noble ethics and morality are life giving to everyone.

2. Control issues. I want to remember that I only have control over my attitude. That’s about it. I can’t control others or the world I live it. I make my decisions and so do others. It’s good to remember that.

3. Self-control. Only my self-control will allow me to live out noble ethical and moral ideals. Only my self-control will provide the opportunity for others to live with me safely. I want people to be safe with me and to trust me.

4. Healthy rules. I can avoid chaos with a few rules that I kindly and consistently enforce. I learned this when my wife and I trained my dog. I also learned that rewards help my dog to live by my rules. Rules and rewards are something to consider.

5. Growing up. I want to be a more mature, loving, compassionate person. My support for this comes from my family, church, prayer, and my professional life. I’ve learned that I need the wisdom and support of others.

6. Appreciation. I work to verbalize and demonstrate my appreciation. I know that lack of appreciation can be discouraging.

7. Freedom. I want to be free of obsessive-compulsiveness behavior, complaining and resentment. I want to relax and enjoy my life as it is. War, corruption, illness, poverty, abuse, and erupting volcano’s aren’t new. I want to help people as I can and then shift my attention to what is beautiful, good, and true. Is this uncaring? I don’t think so.

8. Shared resources. I want to share my money, skills, and time. It feels good to do something significant for someone else. Altruism is a good thing. I want to help people realize their dreams.

9. Celebration. It’s a good thing to celebrate success. I want to celebrate the successes of others without envy and jealousy.

10. Excellence. I can choose to work for excellence and humbly accept that perfection is impossible. I don’t want to expect perfection of myself and others. It’s discouraging and a waste of good time.

Our homes and gardens take work but they’re worth it. What can you work on to develop and keep warm loving relationships in your home?

Think About Coming Home

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Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home. Mother Teresa

I will forever associate home with my wife’s parents and their spirit of hospitality, graciousness, and generosity. It was the epitome of a warm and loving home. Good company, good humor, and delectable food. It was a place where we could relax. They’re gone but their descendants still take gracious interest in each other and support each other. My wife and I have worked to provide the same kind of atmosphere in our home.

So what are the characteristic of a home that will allow us to thrive? Here are some that I think are important –

Safety. I can relax here because I’m physically and emotionally safe. I am safe to be around.

Intimacy. I belong here. I’m listened to; I have influence. My thoughts and feelings matter. I listen to and give my partner and children influence. I can be emotionally close to them and them to me.

Communication. I can hear and be heard with a spirit of honesty, kindness and generosity. I can hear and be heard without fear of ridicule.

Fruitfulness. I can develop my abilities and interests; I can experiment, fail, and learn. I support my partner and children as they develop their interests and abilities.

Ecstasy/joy. My family and I can find joy in people, pets, nature, projects, and privacy.

Neighborliness. My family and I honor the needs of others in the community and we accept the support of others.

I believe the above characteristics can help me have a home like my in-laws. A home that exudes a spirit of hospitality, graciousness, and generosity. That’s very important to me.

Think about these characteristics; talk about them with others. Perhaps you could send the post to a friend and see what he/she thinks. A good home is worth working for.

Photo credit: 123rf.com. Image ID : 24704393