Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

A new year is on the horizon.

For this new year, may we all find our dreams, our peace,
our perfect right place in the world.

May our world also grow in peace, in love. and in acceptance of all,
both human and creature.

And may we always remember that peace begins with us.

Here’s to you and your dreams fulfilled.

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This little phrase is bandied about all over the place nowadays; it’s on mugs, tee shirts, posters and more. And like so many sayings that become pop sensations, there is an undeniable element of truth in it.


I was reading, (kind of re-reading and reflecting on, actually), Deepak Chopra’s small volume titled The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, which are, according to Chopra, really the same as the Seven Spiritual Laws of Life. In the chapter about the fourth spiritual law, the Law of Least Effort, he writes about how easily we can fulfill our desires by learning, as nature can exemplify, how to do less and accomplish more. There are three little lessons within this law, and the one that reflects this post’s title is the one I am currently pondering.

The idea is to accept people, events, and situations exactly as they are in this very moment, versus what we would like them to be. Sounds so easy, but it’s not always the case. So much of our unhappiness comes from our disappointment and frustration that people and situations are not what we’d hoped, expected and/or planned. Think about it. We did something nice and so-and-so didn’t even have the courtesy to thank us, or didn’t thank us enough, soon enough, or whatever. We planned so carefully for a party and it rained. In addition to that, some people didn’t show up, and they never called or texted, etc. And we become miserable. The variations are endless, and of course, run the gamut from day-to-day occurrences to life-changing events.

7SpiritualLaws-DChopra2Life is filled with all kinds of disappointments and we have a choice to accept them and let them go … or not. When we don’t, and we grab on like the proverbial dog on a bone? we become yet more miserable. We can make ourselves crazy. This accepting of “It is what is is” seems to me to be a lifelong lesson, to be learned again and again in different circumstances and at different levels of awareness. While expending less energy on what isn’t or what might have been, we gain so much more for other things.

Chopra makes analogies with nature, such as fish – they just swim, or grass – it just grows. Imagine if grass worried if it would be mowed or chewed on by cows or destroyed by weed killer. It doesn’t — it just grows. We can do that, too. Accept this exact moment as it is. It’s not to say we can’t intend for things to be different in the future, but right now? It is what it is.

It can be easy. Or a worthwhile challenge. Or the ruin of our day. Our pick.


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Pierogies-MichalZacharzewski2At first that may sound like a wacky idea, but who could argue with teaching tolerance to kids and who doesn’t like food? The idea is not mine*, and actually I’m focusing on just a part of the author’s three recommendations to remove judgment, be aware of your own behavior, and diversify your life as a way of inspiring your kids. The third idea is about broadening a child’s frame of reference so that those kids who might seem “different” can seem “normal.” (their words.)

The recommendation was eating out at international restaurants or creating a regular family event that features different ethnic foods while learning about that culture. This is really genius to me. Unless you have a super-picky eater, you can generally find a dish in almost any culture that is tasty and palatable, even to children. Think about starting with your own heritage. For example, I have six different nationalities between my grandparents and great grandparents. That’s where I’d start, right with one’s own family.

DimSum-xiantianmi2Let’s pick one … how about Irish? It might not be easy to find an Irish restaurant nearby, (although there is at least one in Manhattan), but we can cook up some Irish goodies at home. There’s lots of ways to cook up potatoes and cabbage, and if you eat meat, there’s corned beef for starters. Or …. Irish soda bread anyone? And perhaps some stout for the adults. These are the obvious choices, but exploration reveals greater variety in any country’s cuisine. Meanwhile, you could learn about Ireland’s history and of the Irish when they came to America, what they ate in the past and what they eat now.

Today we are seeing more different cultures than we did even a decade ago, between immigration, (the very same way so many of our own forefathers got here), but also in increased adoptions from overseas. Our children now go to school with Russian, Vietnamese, African, Chinese, Korean, and Colombian children, among others, all adopted. Understanding what these children eat in their native culture and serving something from it at our house while learning about that culture is to help them be understood and accepted.

Chimichanga-JavierArmendariz2Depending where you live, you can also visit restaurants of different cultures. Skipping the chain food restaurants, it’s still possible to find authentic Chinese, Mexican and Italian foods in many places. It’s now becoming easier to find Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, and Korean for not too long a ride. Without leaving my state, you can also find authentic Hungarian, German, Ukrainian, Polish, Szechuan, Portuguese, and Cuban food and more. The key is to learn about the culture as well as enjoying the food.

Maybe your kids have some new students in their class. They’d like to learn more about them but are feeling shy in reaching out. Let’s find some facts and enjoy their food! It’s often been said that knowledge is power, and in this idea, that’s half of it – knowledge AND good food can be the power of tolerance. Bon appétit!

* My post is inspired by one segment of the Better Homes and Gardens‘ series called The Good Kid Project which explores the qualities that are key to a happy, well-adjusted child. Their January  column is devoted to tolerance. Visit their website for more info.

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Recent events have me pondering … journaling … rather than recording my thoughts in a public forum. As you are well aware, there are times in our lives when we have to take certain events and look at them from every angle, trying to get them in some comfortable spot so we can live with them, especially since there’s nothing we can do to change them. And aye, there’s the rub.

I am not good at helpless. I am particularly not good at helpless watching another – in this case, an animal – who is suffering, and for whom I can do nothing. There are times when we really have to come to grips with whatever it is and accept our own limitations in action regardless of how our hearts are reaching out. In all the years I have been involved with animals, rescuing and healing them, and, depending on the circumstances, finding them homes, those situations that have been the most painful have been those where I could do nothing.

I have been told many times along the way that it was not/is not my responsibility to save everyone .. or every animal … that each of them, like each of us, is on his or her own journey, and I can only do as much as I can do. Whatever the issue is, and it may be different for many of us – animals, children, the elderly, loved ones, those persecuted unjustly for any reason, anyone suffering – if we have a heart, we want to do something … make it better.

But sometimes the change has to be within ourselves. To accept our limitations and to understand that our inability to alter one circumstance does not mean we are failing … it only means that sometimes, despite our desire, it is not ours to change.

So I have found myself thinking a lot of the Serenity Prayer, written by twentieth century American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr. As short as it is, it is brilliant and to the point. I’m sure you are familiar with it.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I believe that sometimes we need to accept that just being who we are is enough. And that sometimes, achieving that may be a lifelong lesson given to us again and again until we finally know it to be true.

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Can you name two things that don’t go together? There they are. Happiness and control.

As long as we are trying to control an outcome, we’re never going to be happy. Imagine right now … say to yourself, “I would really be happy if …” and I’ll tell you that inevitably it will mean that if something or other would just go differently than it is, i.e. how you would like it, you could be happy. This is a lesson that comes up again and again and again. And in every area of one’s life.

Right now for me, both of my animals have serious medical problems, one just discovered within the last week. I would be happy if … this weren’t so; if … I could alter the outcome; if … what ails them could be turned around. None of this is reality. I can do the best I can to comfortably extend their lives for as long as possible. Who knows how long that might be? Surely, not me. And I can enjoy their wonderful company for as long as that is. I can do my best and that’s all I can do. And if I can get my head straight – it seems to come in and out of this – I can actually be happy right now as they have so far lived wonderful, happy lives and given me so much joy. And they will continue to do so for as long as they do.

We all have circumstances in our lives we wish were different. They often involve others, no? But what we need to always remember is that we are all living beings, of one species or another, on our own journeys in this lifetime. I’m not here to control yours. Nor you, mine. I don’t believe it’s our job to keep trying to control how things turn out. We can do our best to be a force for good, but beyond that, we need to trust that the Universe is in order and all is happening exactly as it should.

And there’s the happiness. Not saying it’s easy, but in that peaceful, trusting state of mind, it becomes much easier. Be happy. Me, too.

p.s. The photo is of the happiest plant on my porches. This was not the year of the thriving plants and flowers, but for some reason, this coleus, in a spot I considered probably too sunny, just gets more rich and beautiful every day. Perhaps that’s what I’m talking about.

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