Wake Up To Your Life

Posted by Harriet on

LavendarFarm-6.23.16 052Meet it, embrace it, look at it straight in its face and do what you have to do to make it the best possible life you have.  Given what may come along over which you have no control, it’s still your life to carve and shape-  to make of it something good, something of value, meaning and joy.

The days will come and go.  The gorgeous sunrises and sunsets will mark yet another day.  How will you meet the next one, the new one?  How will you live it?


On autopilot, going through the motions of living – of habit and routine-with your head down racing to the next and the next,  unaware?

With mindfulness – attention, awareness and appreciation?

With passivity?

With initiation?

With blame and victimhood?

With responsibility and choices?

With curiosity and interest – being open and engaged with what comes your way?

With boredom, staleness?

With enthusiasm, awe?

With helplessness?

With renewal and control?

With stagnation?

With growth?

With resilience and get-up?

With failure and give-up?

With dreams and goals?

With openness to possibility?


The choice is always yours.  There’s a lot of living to do!


Watch and get inspired!




Concentration Camps, Elie Wiesel and Goodness

Posted by Harriet on

It all seems to be coming together in some strange way but I’m not sure to what end.  Last month I went on a week-long  history trip to Poland to visit the new and old of Jewish Poland.   We went to the concentration camps  of Treblinka and  Auschwitz-Birkenau, the forests which contain  the mass graves of horrific numbers of tortured and shot bodies of babies, children and adults, the Warsaw cemetery, the new and beautiful Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews which stands in what had been the Warsaw Ghetto, and many small towns depicting the complete wipe-out of a people.  We also visited farm houses tucked into a beautiful countryside where some incredibly humane and brave Polish gentiles hid Jewish families at the risk of their own lives.  Hearing a first-hand account from a 90 year- old Polish woman of how her parents (she was about 18 at the time) had saved  a family of eight Jews was a most poignant highlight of the trip.  The little boy that her family hid is now a grandfather living in Israel.   A few years ago this same woman spoke to a group of students from Israel  whereupon a girl came over to her at the end of the talk and said, “that’s my grandfather you saved!”  We can only imagine the tears and emotions that flowed into the wee hours of that night.

“He who saves a single life, saves the world entire.”  Talmud

Needless to say, it’s pretty hard to take all of this in. 

Releasing Yourself From Your Pain

Posted by Harriet on

082615_Overcoming-The-Tyranny-Of-VictimhoodWe often have no control over a lousy circumstance.   A death, an illness, an accident, a breakup, a job loss – these things can just happen to us, without any responsibility on our part.  (Although we need to always check ourselves to see if and what our part may have been, from which we can then learn and grow)

We can control how we move through and beyond the pain of the situation.

The big question is: do we desire healing?  This seems so obvious.  Of course, we all want relief from pain.  But often it seems like we become a victim of our pain.  We remain focused on the other, on what someone else did to us, on what God did to us, on what the world did to us, and we remain feeling connected in a reproachful way.

A  key to healing is to look to yourself, to “sweep in front of your own house”, to defocus on the offender and decide how you’re going to recreate your life.  In this regard, self-focus is needed.

It is all too easy to stay fixated on blame and offenses done to us.  That keeps us stuck in our lousy situation and certainly in the drama of it.  We need to disconnect to begin to heal.

How do we look towards peace and healing?

We “can’t heal what we don’t feel”.  (David Kessler, grief specialist)

  • So feeling is the first order – let yourself feel the pain.  Feel all the sadness, rage, shock, jealousy. 

Living With Pain And Hope

Posted by Harriet on


How do we find our way back into the world after an awful and painful life situation?

After a divorce we wonder if we’ll ever love again.  After the death of a loved one, we grief so deeply and wonder if the blackening sadness and excruciating pain will ever go away?  Dealing with an illness, we question if we will be able to overcome our health challenge.

We come head-on into lousy circumstances, And we can choose our response.  We receive something bad And we can determine what we make of it.  We can’t necessarily pick what we get but we can choose how we deal with it.

Responsible – response +able = we are able in our responses.  We may have little to no control over certain external happenings but we have control and ‘ableness‘ over our responses to our happenings.

This awareness of our ability to do something with an adversity that’s smacked us in the face can be the difference between succumbing or rising.

As Viktor Frankl (Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor; founder of logotherapy- therapy of meaning, and author of world renowned book, Man’s Search for Meaning) famously stated, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.

Learning Resiliency Gets Us Through Life

Posted by Harriet on


I’m sure we’ve all, at some point, looked at someone going through a difficult time who appears to be handling it fairly well and remarked, ‘I could never be like them, they’re so strong.’  And we think they’re just naturally strong and can handle anything.

The truth is (according to the latest research) that although some people may come pre-wired with what appears to be more innate strength, a half-full glass attitude and better coping skills, this ability to manage life challenges and difficulties involve skills that can be learned and increased.  Resilience, a concept that is certainly not new but has become a buzz word and quite popular lately, as we are seeing the make- or- break affect it’s having in dealing with life’s inevitable storms that blow through all our lives, and often at high stakes. It stems from the Latin word resilio which means to jump back.

And it’s more.  It includes the ability to:

Cope, persevere, grow, learn and be open to new ways.

It is the antithesis of succumbing, remaining flattened out and crushed by failure and disappointment, or shutting down and shutting off the valve of life.

Resilience helps us move through the challenges and adversities of life.  We need to be able to go through the darkness of job loss, illness, divorce, death of a loved one, and emerge into the light as a survivor and eventually a thriver.  As the writer and Holocaust scholar, Terrence des Pres wrote about survivors, they are “as stubborn as the upsurge of spring.”

Everything comes back in full bloom in the spring.  

Being With Our Emotions

Posted by Harriet on

scan0003People sometimes say, ‘Don’t just sit there, do something.’ But we have to reverse that statement to say, ‘Don’t just do something, sit there.’”  Thich Nhat Hanh


The introduction and now prevalence of the concept of mindfulness into mainstream society (not just up on mountain tops with monks and spiritual gurus) has brought with it the action of {just} ‘sitting’.  It usually refers to sitting in meditation.

But let’s take ‘sitting’ a step further to the idea of ‘being’, as opposed to doing.  We know we’re all about doing.  And the more we do the seemingly better off we are.  We’re productive, accomplished and busy with the business of life.  But we’re losing something along the way.  We’re losing our way towards that rich, meaningful and engaged life.

Mindfulness is here to help bring us back a wee bit and center us from the over-shoot and over-emphasis towards all that doing.  It’s focus is on being with life, taking it in, feeling it, observing it.

More specifically I’m looking here at emotions and how mindfulness, or being with our feelings, plays out.

We’re all naturally quick to want to rid ourselves of any negative emotions.  Nobody wants to feel bad –  be it fearful, worried, anxious, angry, frustrated, sad, jealous and the whole gamut of disturbing feelings.  We want to run from them as fast as possible by numbing, distracting, negating, fixing.

What would happen if we just sat with those uncomfortable feelings for a while?  What if we became aware of them and stayed with them, observing and feeling, before we tried to change and purge them from our being? 


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