Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘lessons in life’

Giving with an Open Heart

Giving with an open hand and open heart makes all the difference! How many times have you heard someone tell you all they have done or given to others. The list seems to get longer every time you listen. There is a pattern here to be discovered. This type of ‘giver’ seems to be fixated on the dollar amount of the give…missing the emotional impact and significance behind it. They may even be complaining that the needs of others never seem to stop. Exactly! As you begin to observe their lives it seems they, indeed, are constantly being called upon to open their wallets. Until they break the cycle of feeling put upon it continues. If each time they are called upon to help out someone and they see it as an imposition and are mentally calculating the dollars involved the Universe gives them more lessons of the same. How can we break this cycle?

When we truly give from our hearts in time, concern or money it has no price tag. The value of doing for others can’t be bought or sold. It is one of those rare intangibles that just is… it makes the world a little better place. Amazingly, when you find joy in doing the little things that results in a brighter light in someone’s world, the light shines brighter in your own. Knowing that is powerful.

The next time we are presented with an opportunity to give of ourselves and we don’t feel we have the time or where-with-all to do so maybe we can remember that this, in fact, is the exact time, the perfect time to put our own schedules aside and just make it happen. You will know if you have achieved the true joy of giving because you will feel a smile radiating from inside out. You will feel a sense of purpose and positive energy because you adjusted your own schedule to help a fellow traveller on his journey. This ‘inside out’ kind of feeling is the spark that makes all the difference in the world.

It is not the size or amount of giving that makes the difference but where the feeling originates from – our heads or our hearts. When it is from the heart it is pure love – the highest form of energy. This is the season that brings out the best in all of us. Let’s envision a time in the future when we will be able to manifest it for more than the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now that is truly something smile about!

Have a great few days!

The Art of Resiliency

Resiliency is created when we think past the primary thing we want to have, do or be and add possible options to our thinking. It is all about having a strategy – liken to playing chess – thinking ahead for possible moves in case the most obvious or desired one simply doesn’t work out. Simply put, the more options we create as possibilities in our life (plans A, B, or C) the more confident we become because we are prepared for the never ending list of changes that are inevitably thrown at us.

The author, Bill Bryson, has written many books about travel. His writing is engaging and his trips exciting – even hair raising at times. Recently, I have read two of his books, ‘Sunburned Country’ which is about the amazing continent of Australia and the other entitled, ‘A Walk in the Woods’ a story about the 2100 mile hiking trail from Georgia to Maine – the Appalachian Trail. Resiliency seems to be his first and foremost trait. Reading Bryson’s work we can live vicariously through the mental, emotional and physical challenges that continually confront him on his journey. We realize that what we know on an intuitive basis – that gut feeling of ‘this is the way to go for now’ gives us a flexibility when viewing life’s hurdles and offers us a greater sense of peace. If we are forced to take the longer road to accomplish something, we may not, at first, be happy but we know we can survive – maybe even thrive in the process. It is true, life is about the journey along the way.

I have never met anyone who hasn’t had curve balls thrown at them in their lives. In fact, some of these balls may cause serious injuries to our minds, bodies and hearts. Yet some people just seem more adept as the lyric in the song says of ‘ picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and starting over again.’ What makes these individuals different? Are they bigger, stronger or smarter than others? Probably not. But they do have a secret ingredient involved in their thinking – a survival mentality – that is the crucial difference. They have learned simply through living that rarely do things work out exactly as planned. From their life experiences they have learned the art of resiliency. They do not demand that things be different or fall apart when the ball goes far afield. They run, jump and reach higher to attain their goal. They may slip and fall along the way but they continue on – for the love of the game and themselves. They remind me of the famous saying by Winston Churchill. ‘Never, Never, Never, Never give up!’

Developing the art of resiliency is something worth considering.

Have a great few days!

What’s Your Purpose?

” 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..” This statement was written by Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning in 1946 after being interned in a Nazi concentration camp and losing his family to the brutal hands of others. In 1991, 45 years later, his book was selected by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the -Month Club as one of 10 most influential books in the U.S. Truth is, indeed, both ageless and timeless.

A salient point he made was that when we have a purpose in life, something greater or bigger than ourselves to be concerned about we can endure whatever life presents to us. It helps us keep perspective on the day to day events in our lives as we keep our eyes focused on a more expansive vision of possibilities for tomorrow.

Frankl also reflected on the topic of happiness and its relationship to a purpose driven life. We constantly hear the message about the importance of being happy. Makes sense since positive energy is involved in happiness. However, there is something much bigger than simply feeding the beast inside of us that says,’ I want… and then I will be happy. Do this, buy that and then I will be happy.’ That approach may fuel our economy but it doesn’t fuel our soul.

The idea of purpose, of making a difference in our families, friends and world is what keeps excitement in our lives and helps us develop into more fully functioning individuals. Simply doing things to make ourselves happy requires more and more fuel (things, money, experiences) to keep going. Having a purpose in life, however, gives us a never ending supply of energy because it comes from the Universal Source. We have all heard of the adage, ‘You get out of life what you give – no more no less.’ What a simple and elegant truth to consider.

Show me a person whose purpose is to be involved in life, seeing tomorrow with possibilities and helping others along the way and I will show you a person who has a happy AND meaningful life. They look forward to tomorrow with excitement, appreciation, and hope. That is a powerful elixir for life.

We are all here to learn unique lessons in this lifetime. Learning to move past simply making ourselves happy and into a purpose driven life is the answer to our own personal fulfillment and to a life well-lived.

Have a great few days!


A dear friend called to talk about the blog from Wednesday. She said, “I can accept what you are saying in the blog … all, that is, but the last statement, All is as it should be.” She went on to explain that we may have free will but the lack of ownership by others for their life and their lessons have a compounding effect on those of us close to them. I agreed, but once again repeated, what do YOU need to learn from these situations involving others. She made a great point. I know what I mean when I repeat the statement, “All is as it should be,” and those of you who have read my book, Just Behind the Door, understand that this has been THE ongoing statement that my son, from the other side, has communicated for over a decade. It makes so much sense to me but I have lived through this communication with Ronnie for so long that it is natural. So to be clearer about the intent in the phrase let me explain.

I believe each of us agrees, pre-birth, on the lessons we will work on in this lifetime. The themes are numerous, but to list just a few: emotional independence, overcoming feelings of powerlessness or unworthiness, overcoming our fears, forgiveness, gratitude, unconditional love, the list goes on and on. We agree to experience situations in our life that will help us learn the lessons we have chosen to learn. The challenges that are presented in learning these lessons can take us to the brink of denial, anger, rebellion, withdrawal even total helplessness until we finally get it, recognize it and learn from it. Remember no one but YOU agreed to work on the lessons that you are dealing with in your life. It is, as if, first God/Universal Energy whispers, (this is the first time the lesson is presented) then speaks ( a similar, more dramatic experience presented a second time) then shouts with an even more difficult, challenging situation the third (or more) time the lesson surfaces. The experiences just keep adding up, causing us tremendous hurt and challenge until, one day, we GET IT. There is no one to blame, no one to rail at because we chose to work on the particular lesson(s) until we internalize the learning.

I have experienced the death of two husbands, my son, two sisters, mother, father and close friends. In addition, I have experienced divorce – more than once. For each experience, I railed at the Universe. Why me? What have I done wrong? I demanded that the situation be different. I felt I should be able to fix it, if I just tried hard enough. Gradually, as I learned more, an “aha” happened. Now, I realize that my life is about accepting that I cannot control everything, to have greater faith in God/Universal Energy and, along the way, to learn to love myself. I guess I was a remedial learner who needed to experience many losses to finally get it!

So, when I say, “All is as it should be,” it is. When we look back – hindsight is always 20/20 – we have a greater awareness, if not acceptance, as to the why.

What lesson are you working on?

Happiness from the Inside

Last night I was talking to a friend and said, “I am happy from the inside out.” Having lived through many life traumas, most recently the suicide of her husband, she said, “Wow, I never thought about happiness that way.” Those of you who have been following my blogs or who have read my book, Just Behind the Door, understand that I have also experienced many, many losses in my life. I do not talk from theory but from experience.

It may seem strange to talk about happiness on a website dealing with loss but it is something worth considering. Research has found that prosperity, health and physical attractiveness are only MINIMALLY related to one’s overall happiness. True, genetics does play a part in the happiness level of each person but ONLY a part. In fact, researchers have actually written a book on the topic of our “happiness set point.” Their work concludes that beyond circumstance and genetics, each of us has an additional 40% that we control in reference to our happiness index. Just think about that for a moment, 40% control – totally at our discretion – to determine how we will live our life. Amazing, isn’t it? We have the power to determine if we will be happy or sad, kind or offensive, giving or taking. The choice is always up to us.

The loss you may have had in our life will not be made easier by seeing your cup as half-empty for the rest of your life. Please think about how the loved one that you lost would want you to live the rest of your life; in sadness and remorse or ultimate happiness because of what you had the opportunity to experience.

We hear daily about the importance of having an optimistic attitude. Realizing that we CHOSE this life, with these lessons, takes away any possible issue of blame. It simply is what it is because we chose it. Accepting that allows us to forgive ourselves and others for the events of the past. We then can develop a sense of wonder – amazement even – for the people and opportunities in our future.

Make tomorrow a great day and remember, “All is as it should be.”

Signs From Our Loved Ones

We know that when we ask our loved ones for a sign that they are with us, the signs come in various forms. It may be a phone call and their name shows up on caller ID, lights that flicker, something out of the ordinary happens in your life that only you and the person who has passed on would relate to – the signals are too varied to list all of them. When I just wanted reassurance that my son was close, I would ask him to send me a sign and I even specified the sign that I wanted, “Just show me a penny so that I know you are near,” I would think to myself. Within hours the pennies would start showing up. In my kitchen drawers (which I do clean out regularly) on my floor or carpet that I had just cleaned, in front of a chair that no one ever sits in, in my car and on and on. One day, I was at the car wash and was getting out of my car when the attendant asked me to move my car to another bay. No problem, I thought. As I opened the door to get out of my car once it was in the open bay, there is was – a penny. I naturally looked over to the first bay I had pulled into and there was no penny to be found. If a day is unusually challenging, sometimes I have found 4 or 5 pennies. It puts a smile on my face and I just say, “Thanks, Ronnie, I needed that!”

My daughter-in-law knows of this thing with pennies and recently sent me a poem about them. I googled the poem to be sure I gave the author proper credit. It turns out there was no known author. But imagine my surprise when I read a story from a man that said after his 18 year old son had died he was walking out of a store and started seeing pennies. Not just some – but many. In fact, he said by the time he picked them all up, filling both of his pockets, he had $6.00 worth of them. There were many other stories about the topic of signs on this website as well. Makes me realize how hard our loved ones are trying to get our attention and open the lines of communication with us. My son has proven to me that he always around. I am humbled and grateful for his unconditional love and ongoing communication.

The Angel and the Penny

I found another penny today
Just laying on the ground
But it’s not just a penny
This little coin I’ve found
That’s what my Grandma told me
She said angels toss them down
Oh, how I loved that story
She said when an angel misses you
They toss a penny down
Sometimes just to cheer you up,
To create a smile from a frown
So don’t pass by that penny
When you are feeling blue,
It may be a penny from heaven
That your loved one tossed to you!

Have a great few days and watch for signs from you loved one!

I have 2 book talks coming up for anyone that can attend: Kazoo Books, 2413 Parkview, Kalamazoo – 6:30 PM and Michigan News, 308 Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo – 5:00 PM