Shalom!

Welcome to the adventure of the new (and unusual) year of 2021.

If you took an Advent Journey with me before Christmas, I’m excited to announce that I plan to turn those daily posts into an eBook for sale sometime this year. Stay tuned for more info!

2020 gave us, globally, some particularly challenging things to face. Early in the year, the novel corona virus upset a world that in many ways was already broken. Political systems, elections, power struggles, and racial tensions dominate the news.

As with everything in life, we must choose how we will react to change. Some of us are angry and rebellious believing that this discomfort is a plot for someone to gain control. Others live in fear of what will happen next and many of us aren’t sure what to think. Or even what to do now.

I live alone in an apartment building and as I look outside today, the rain is coming down heavily and everything is grey. Some might say that I have the perfect life with no family responsibilities, a small pension, good health and lots of free time but as with all of life, there are downsides.

I have to motivate myself to do something productive when I only feel like lying on my couch with a murder mystery! There is loneliness lurking at the edges of my days and often I have to fight my feelings to pray for others, or reach out to find friends who might also need support.

This series of emails will be filled with hope and encouragement and maybe some suggestions for what choices you can make to find shalom this year.

In Hebrew, shalom means much more than peace. It is used every day in Israel by shopkeepers and friends on the street to say “Hello” or “Goodbye”.

“Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace.” (www.myjewishlearning.com/article/shalom)

When our circumstances are blemished by lockdowns, quarantines, pandemic illnesses, and deaths, shalom can feel as if it is an impossibility. Notice the above quote says, “Shalom is… a manifestation of divine grace.” It is an undeserved blessing from God.

For the next few days, look for opportunities to say “Shalom” to the people you are with. “Shalom, friend! See you next week.” “Shalom…how are you?” “Shalom. Have a good evening.”

If you really mean it, you will begin to feel the peace coming back to you.

Shalom in 2021 is possible. Claim the blessing and choose peace every day!

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The Path to Shalom

Did you know that it is possible to live your life with peace and fulfillment – every day? 

I don’t mean peace that looks like a quiet beach or a calm shady forest. I also don’t mean peace all day, every day. However, I believe it is a process that anyone can learn.

In Hebrew, the word peace is translated “Shalom” which includes harmony and tranquility.

The two hardest places to find real tranquility are at home and in the workplace. That’s because people are typically the cause of our lack of peace.

The Shalom that we all want (and need), can occur in the middle of an argument with your spouse, in the chaos of a classroom full of children, or when deadlines are looming at work.

When you are living a life of fulfillment and taking steps toward how you want to live,
you can choose to let others do – or say – whatever they want,
without taking it personally.

Sound impossible? It’s not as hard as you might think. You can begin to flourish with an inspiring life now. It takes a lifetime to get good at it! Why not start right now…choose peace today, instead of waiting for tomorrow!

Take a long slow breath in and hold it for a second or two then slowly let it out. When you feel yourself spiraling out of control, remember to breathe. Now find something that makes you thankful in this moment. Maybe the weather, your home, the person who annoys you…

In my years as a principal and teacher, at board and staff meetings, in my marriage, raising children, and in many friendships, experience taught me that I can choose my reactions to others. Through both failures and successes, I am finding my own path to peace each day. 

“Are you actively making choices for the life you want, or are you drifting along hoping someday things will get better? Or somebody else will fix it?”

It is my life purpose to help others to:

  • live a life of gratitude
  • find ways to forgive, and,
  • learn to accept others, without trying to change who they are.

I wrote a book called: Flourish in a World Full of People that is full of wisdom and experiences shared from my own life-long journey. You can find it here to read on your Kindle or why not send one as a gift to a friend?

To Flourish or Human Flourishing is defined 
as an effort to achieve self-actualization and fulfillment within the context of a larger community of individuals, each with the right to pursue his or her own such efforts. (Aristotle)

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Shalom!

What the world needs now…

This time of the year can be very difficult for those of us who don’t have a romantic love interest. The stores have displays of chocolates and flowers and today I heard an ad for soft pajamas that a man can buy for his lady. Couples buy each other gifts or plan romantic outings but the rest of us can feel that we aren’t included. It can be like “who will you be kissing on New Year’s Eve?”

Love isn’t just for lovers though, because it is one of the basic requirements for life, right up there with food and shelter. People who don’t experience love every day soon become depressed, feel hopeless and eventually get sick. Babies need to be touched by loving hands in order to thrive.

Whether you are part of a couple or not, you can reach out to the people around you in very simple but profound ways. Have a conversation with someone and really listen. Turn off your phone and make eye contact. Make it your purpose to hear what is behind the words of the other person. What are they feeling? Can you hear a need or pain in what they say? You don’t have to solve any problems, just listen. In fact, please don’t try to solve their problem. Listening carefully can help them to find solutions that will be much better.

Maybe for someone on the street, saying “Hello” or even just smiling can make a stranger’s day. The guy begging for money wants more than just spare change, he wants to be noticed. The money is easy to give but making eye contact and the gift of a greeting will mean a lot more.

The people who need your attention the most probably live in your home or are close family members. Instead of giving a box of chocolates this year, why not try a gift of time…uninterrupted time. This goes for the children, the aging parents, an aunt or uncle who lives alone, a neighbour…

If you have a “significant other” express your gratitude to them and for them. Maybe she is longing to know if you really see her. He may wonder if you know how hard he works for you and your family.

“What the world needs now, is love sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”

Songwriters: Burt F. Bacharach / Hal David. What the World Needs Now Is Love lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management, Royalty Network

May this month of love be a special time for you as you find others to thank, encourage, listen to, and bless. I bless you with much love!