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Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Category

Have you ever felt like a cactus, you know, able to thrive in the harshest of climates with very little sustenance?  Perhaps we all feel that way from time to time.
This insight came to me recently when, in the midst of accepting many requests to professionally link with others, responding to numerous emails, and reading through countless tweets, I realized that it was all meaningless, empty activity pretending to be “connections with others.”
My Twitter followers probably never actually read my tweets; the ratio of personal email messages to professional and/or junk is minimal, and most of the people in my professional network honestly would probably not even notice if I dropped out of their network and stopped posting in discussions.  Furthermore, because I am one of the many people who has put herself out in the public domain so to speak, like others, I am subject to attacks.  It is perfectly expected and reasonable that not everyone will agree with me professionally and/or will know more than I do; however, when the attacks become personal and are without provocation, that is where I draw the line.  Lastly, it sometimes seems arbitrary how these professional and social networking sites impose rules.  I had one message on Craig’s List that was posted under “Books – For Sale By Owner”  flagged and removed because it was too commercial – really?   And on Twitter, people like Guy Kawasaki can post a tweet literally every 1-3 minutes, yet my account gets suspended because I posted one “thank you in advance for reading my book” message [without any links] to 50 or so different book clubs on Twitter.  By the way, that same day, I received a direct tweet from one of my followers asking me if I “wanna f*ck?” but apparently, that is allowed.
There are many positive aspects to social and professional networking sites, but there is also a downside and a dark side.  Many recent stories about young people committing suicide in large part due to cyber-bullying is one stark example of these negative sides.
My life philosophy and approach is to be kind.  It’s just sad when someone with good intentions who strives to be kind while earning an honest living by sharing inspirational writings can be persecuted, attacked, and blocked.  So, to answer the question that was posted at the beginning of this post, ‘Yes,’ sometimes I do feel like a cactus, but I am deeply grateful for the handful of people in my life with whom I enjoy genuine, loving relationships who provide enough sustenance to thrive in this harsh environment we call life.
May we all find our way to be kind, accepting, forgiving, and compassionate as we navigate our way through social and professional networks.

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Recently, two bombs struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon turning a beloved event into a bloody scene of destruction.  After this recent bombing in Boston, Massachusetts USA for which there was constant and extensive media coverage that continues to this day, a colleague pointed out that a near identical situation also occurred in eastern Afghanistan, without so much as a blip on our American conscience.

My colleagues’ point will no-doubt resonate with many, and will also serve to once again highlight the fact that we Americans can be quite ego-centric.  The perception is that Americans tend to focus on what happens to us and how we suffer, without much thought about the suffering of others in the world.  While we rally after an earthquake in Haiti or a tsunami in Japan, our attention and concern is not long-sustained.

On the other hand, it would be emotionally painful and ultimately unhealthy and counter-productive to focus our attention on all the pain and suffering around the world because it is heart-breaking and never-ending.

Do the people of other countries focus their attention on the pain and suffering of everybody in all other countries around the world?

Do people in Afghanistan worry about the Americans who were affected by the bombing in Boston?  Probably not any more or less than the people in America worry about the Afghanis in Kabul where insurgents killed six police officers at a checkpoint and a suicide bomber killed three civilians at a shopping bazaar in separate attacks.

Perhaps the best people in any country can do is focus on that for which they can do the most good and with which they have the most connection – which is focus their concern on people and events closer to home.  And that does not make us insensitive or uncaring.  It just makes us human – with limitations and imperfections.

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Hey – if you like this blog, then you’ll love the book!

Finding_Your_Way__Cover_for_Kindle

                       

Finding Your Way: Lessons from Life

by Valerie Galante, Ph.D.

From the Introduction:

If you have ever found yourself asking, “Is this all there is?” or “What is my purpose?” then listen carefully because that inner voice asking those questions is the whisper of your spirit trying to awaken you.  Your spirit is always present, guiding you through life and reminding you of lessons yet to be learned.  How can you hear and listen to your spirit calling?  And how do you respond to this calling?  The answer is by Finding Your Way…

Book Description:

Finding Your Way: Lessons from Life serves as a guidebook to navigate the path of life by providing inspirational, insightful, and informative lessons from diverse sources to the reader for the purpose of encouraging, engaging, and empowering you to make the most of yourself and your life.

Building upon her background as a highly experienced Licensed Clinical Psychologist and ordained Interfaith Minister, Dr. Galante uses humor, cultural references, and every day events to enlighten readers about the nature of being human and how to live their lives with meaning and fulfillment.

From the Publisher:

We are proud to announce the publication of this new book, Finding Your Way: Lessons from Life by Valerie Galante, Ph.D, which is now widely available in two hard-copy versions from Amazon.com – a Black & White Edition and an Exclusive Full-Color Collector’s Limited Edition.  The electronic edition is available from Kindle.

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Hello and Welcome to Another Beautiful Day,

Though it has been a while since my last column, I wanted to share an inspirational event with you…

Message from my Mother

It was two days before Christmas and I was in my office at work, biding my time until I could hit the road on my way home to visit with family for the winter holidays.  Feeling bored, as I had no clients scheduled for that morning, and seeking a constructive way to fill the time until my departure, I began perusing my bookshelves for something to occupy my mind.  As I scanned, something caught my attention – a piece of paper sticking out of a book.  This finding was curious to me because I have read through this particular book several times over the years and never before recalled marking a particular passage or seeing the piece of paper.  The book was M. Scott Pecks’, The Road Less Traveled, and it seemed an especially appropriate selection for me to read both because of its inspirational content and the fact that I was about to embark on a long road trip.

And then it happened…a Christmas miracle.

As I arose from my chair, moved toward the bookshelf, and stretched out my hand to reach for the book I felt as though I was in a dream, enveloped by a feeling of tremendous expectancy.  After pulling the book from the shelf, I could see the top of the paper sticking. The letterhead read, “Zurbrugg Hospital/Rancocas Hospital” and displayed the emblem belonging to the Center for Women and Health.  This was curious to me because Rancocas Hospital/Center for Women and Health is located in the town where I lived with my family as a child.  It is also the hospital where my mother was treated for cancer.  How odd, I thought, how coincidental, that a piece of stationary from that hospital would be sticking out of my book.   Being an avid book addict and bargain hunter, I distinctly remember acquiring this particular book from a used book store somewhere along my life travels, but definitely nowhere in the New Jersey or tri-state area, which is where Rancocas Hospital is located.  I opened the book to the page from which the paper was sticking out, and much to my amazement, I saw my mother’s handwriting.  There was no mistaking that the handwriting was definitely hers.  How did a note in my mother’s handwriting end up in this book and why had I never noticed it until now?

Excitedly, I read what she had written.  It said, “Most people don’t take full responsibility for themselves.  They blame other people, circumstances, and even God for their problems.”  Isn’t it the truth, I thought, and was filled with a surge of pride that my mother had realized this truth because I would not have attributed such an insight to her.  Given that my Mom was known for marking up books and writing in the margins, I painstakingly searched through the entire book hoping for more insights into her mind on the pages.  What I found was bittersweet.

On the first blank page under the cover, she had written “p 128 129,” so I immediately turned to those pages.  This is what Dr. Peck wrote that obviously had resonated with my mother because she underlined the following passage:

            Since true listening is love in action, nowhere is it more appropriate than in marriage.   Yet most couples never truly listen to each other.  Consequently, when couples come to us [psychiatrists/psychologists] for counseling or therapy, a major task we must accomplish if the process is to be successful is to teach them how to listen.  Not infrequently, we fail, the energy and discipline involved being more than they are willing to expand or submit themselves to. Couples are often surprised, even horrified, when we suggest to them that among the things they should do is talk to each other by appointment.  It seems rigid and unromantic and un-spontaneous to them.  Yet true listening can occur only when time is set aside for it and conditions are supportive of it.  It cannot occur when people are driving, or cooking, or tired and anxious to sleep or easily interrupted or in a hurry.  Romantic “love” is effortless, and couples are frequently reluctant to shoulder the effort and discipline of true love and listening.  But when and if they finally do, the results are superbly gratifying.  Again and again we have the experience of hearing one spouse say to the other with real joy, once the process of true listening has begun, “We’ve been married twenty-nine years and I never knew that about you before.” When this occurs,  we know that growth in the marriage has begun.

Sadly, my mother and father never got to experience true listening with each other, nor did my siblings and I get to witness true listening between our parents.  My mother has been dead for ten years as of this writing, and regretably she and I also never had the joyful experience of truly listening to each other.  But today, it is as if my mother has reached out to me from the grave to share her wisdom and insight, and to help guide me in my own life journey to find that which was so elusive to her.

Thank you, Mom.  I am listening, and your loving message has been received. 

My body is still tingling from this supernatural experience, for it happened only moments before I began writing this column.  A Christmas Miracle – I can think of no better gift.

Merry Christmas to all!  May you find your way to truly listen.

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Hello and Welcome to Another Beautiful Day,

To start the New Year off well, apply these 22 Laws of Wellness from cancer survivor Greg Anderson:

  • The Law of Esprit: The joy you feel is life!
  • The Law of Personal Accountability: If it’s going to be, it’s up to me. – Robert H. Schuller
  • The Law of Unity: The part can never be well unless the whole is well. – Plato
  • The Law of Physical Activity: Use it or lose it.
  • The Law of Nutritional Frugality: A little with quiet is the only diet. – Scottish proverb
  • The Law of Minimal Medical Invasiveness: The art of medicine is generally a question of time. – Ovid
  • The Law of Stress-Hardiness: It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do about it. – W. Mitchell “survivor”
  • The Law of Emotional Choice: Learning to be aware of feelings… is an essential lifetime skill. – Joan Borysenko (author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind)
  • The Law of Developmental Motivation: Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. – Henry Van Dyke
  • The Law of Human Dignity: God created man in His own image. – Genesis
  • The Law of Win/Win: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. – The Golden Rule
  • The Law of Present-Moment Living: Be here now. – Ram Dass
  • The Law of Mindfulness: The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven. – John Milton
  • The Law of Creativity: Imagination is the eye of the soul. – Joseph Joubert
  • The Law of Lifetime Growth: We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden. – Goethe
  • The Law of Life Mission: He dies every day who lives a lingering life. – Pierrard Poullet
  • The Law of Purpose Through Service: Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. – Albert Einstein
  • The Law of Stewardship: If you want happiness for a lifetime, help the next generation. – Chinese proverb
  • The Law of Forgiveness: Forgiveness restores our hearts to the innocence that we knew – an innocence that allowed us the freedom to love. – Robin Casarjian (author of Forgiveness: A Bold Choice for a Peaceful Heart)
  • The Law of Gratitude: Affirm the good things.
  • The Law of Personal Peace: Without inner peace, it is impossible to have world peace. – The Dalai Lama
  • The Law of Unconditional Loving: … and the greatest of these is love. – Saint Paul
  • May you find your way to wellness.

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    In honor of the spirit of Christmas, I share this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with you…

    I heard the bells on Christmas day
    Their old familiar carols play
    And mild and sweet the words repeat,
    Of peace on earth, good will to men.

    I thought how as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
    Had roll’d along th’ unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good will to men.

    And in despair I bow’d my head:
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said,
    “For hate is strong, and mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good will to men.”

    ‘Til ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
    Of peace on earth, good will to men!

    first published in 1863

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    Hello and Welcome to another Beautiful Day,

    There is a difference between compromising and settling.  In my mind, a compromise is an agreement in which each side gives up some demands or makes concessions without negating one’s own integrity, values, rights, or hopes.  The two parties arrive at a figurative place somewhere midway between their two positions without neglecting the things that matter.

    Contrastingly, when one settles, one accepts something in place of what is hoped for, requested, or desired and this settling often involves giving up something of great intangible value such as a principle, or one’s integrity, values, rights, or hopes. Don’t settle; don’t sacrifice yourself.

    Think of the difference between these two concepts as an analogy from the SAT’s…

    Compromise is to settle as assertive is to aggressive. 

    When a person behaves in an assertive manner, s/he acts in a positive, confident manner that empowers her/him to achieve the result or outcome s/he desires without compromising her/his own or another’s integrity, values, or rights.  Whereas, when a person behaves in an aggressive manner, s/he acts in a negative, bullying manner that ultimately disempowers her/him and the other person even if s/he achieves the short-term result or outcome s/he desires because her/his actions violate her/his own or another’s integrity, values, or rights.  Being aggressive is not worth it.

    In my experience, aggressive people are unassertive and insecure with a limited repertoire in their behavioral bag of tricks from which to choose.  Sometimes, if you can reach their hearts or soul, they will see the light and change their ways by expanding their behavioral choices to include kinder, gentler strategies for expressing themselves and achieving desired outcomes.  Sadly though, many aggressive people do not have this insight into themselves and they are firmly locked into their behaviors thereby lacking the motivation to change.  They’re trapped.

    Aggressive bullies who ‘force’ you to settle and who disregard your integrity, values, or rights will only contribute to your unhappiness (and their own).  As you find your way in life, do not settle for a bully as a friend, colleague, or partner.  Find people who are able to be assertive and who are willing to compromise, for they will contribute to your happiness by respecting your integrity, values, rights, hopes, and dreams.    

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