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Ten Gifts

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When one of the century's greatest floods devastated her town, Robin Silverman went looking for the personal peace she new she and tens of thousands of others would need to restore their shattered lives. In her search, she discovered the Ten Gifts: powerful inner resources that have been within us since birth-resources that can transform crisis, create opportunity, and deliver lasting fulfillment. The gifts have familiar names: faith, love, dreams, courage, unity, joy, trust, character, thanks, and intention. ...
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Overview

When one of the century's greatest floods devastated her town, Robin Silverman went looking for the personal peace she new she and tens of thousands of others would need to restore their shattered lives. In her search, she discovered the Ten Gifts: powerful inner resources that have been within us since birth-resources that can transform crisis, create opportunity, and deliver lasting fulfillment. The gifts have familiar names: faith, love, dreams, courage, unity, joy, trust, character, thanks, and intention. Using stories of real people, Silverman beautifully illustrates new and exciting ways your gifts can be defined and used to provide the security you want when you need it the most. In addition, she offers practical exercises so you can put the gifts to work for yourself. For anyone wanting more satisfaction from life, The Ten Gifts lights the path to personal peace.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312252298
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 212
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin L. Silverman is an inspirational writer, public speaker, and consultant whose career is focused on discovering the good in all people. She has been widely published in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul. She lives in Grand Forks, North Dakota, with her husband, two daughters, and the family's collie.
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Read an Excerpt




Chapter One

Discovery


MY RIGHT HAND moved instinctively to the center console of my Mazda, reaching for the coffee cup that wasn't there. I needed something hot and full of acid to burn a hole through this bad dream and wake me up.

    "Boy, what I wouldn't give for a cup of really strong coffee right now," I said through gritted teeth.

    Erica, my fourteen-year-old, stared vacantly out the window at the black, lifeless fields. "Everything's closed, Mom. The flood. Remember?"

    I nodded. I wish I could forget! We were headed south on County Road 18, refugees from the worst flood in modern American history. The Red River of the North had claimed our town, Grand Forks, North Dakota, and its sister city, East Grand Forks, Minnesota, just two days before. We escaped with our lives, our cars, a few items of clothing, and the family photo albums, which was more than most people from what we gleaned from the television and newspaper reports. I had also grabbed two boxes of Passover matzoh from my kitchen counter as I ran out the door, ironically thinking I would be celebrating the Exodus, not living it.

    Despite community sandbagging efforts that went on twenty-four hours a day for weeks on end, the river won, cresting a full five feet above predicted levels. Now more than 60,000 of us were off to strange and distant places for the foreseeable future, since the mayors of both cities said it would be weeks before we could even return home to survey the damage.

    The two-lane road was pockmarked with scarsfrom the brutal winter that had caused this tragedy. More than 110 inches of snow had fallen on our region in eight blizzards that had already caused enough suffering for a lifetime. We were still recovering from Blizzard Hannah, whose ice and winds knocked out power up and down the Red River Valley for the first few weeks of April, when the flood hit with full force. We had been struggling to stay ahead of Mother Nature for almost a month, and now she not only caught up with us, she forced us out.

    I could barely see my husband's teal-green Jimmy up ahead, which was leading our five-car caravan. My Mazda, heavily burdened by the merchandise and materials we managed to scavenge from our family's menswear store, scraped the crumbling asphalt with each bump and bounce. Thankfully, our retail store was dry when we last saw it, although we knew our downtown warehouse probably was destroyed, We filled my car, Steve's, and that of our seventeen-year-old daughter, Amanda, both inside and out, tying box after box of merchandise onto the roofs and shoving merchandise, tape measures, pins, and financial records into trunks, cargo areas, and spaces between and under the seats.

    Amanda was plugging along behind Steve in her aging red Tempo. The other minivan and car in our little parade, also packed with goods from the store, belonged to the Haugen family, who had given us refuge over the weekend when the dikes were topped and the lift stations, which kept the city's water flowing normally through the sewer system, failed. We'd left our collie, Lady, on their farm twenty miles west of town as we moved what we could to Fargo, where we had a small, as-yet unprofitable satellite store. We had reservations at the Holiday Inn Express for just five nights, all we could get. After that, we were on our own, since every hotel, motel, bed-and-breakfast, and truck stop was filled to overflowing with evacuees and incoming rescue workers.

    I looked in my rearview mirror and could see a line of cars stretching all the way back to the Forks. Ahead of me the picture was the same. Dust- and mud-covered vehicles snaked their way south, filled with grim-faced drivers and passengers. Some were carrying household goods, but most were not. Although the mayor had given those of us living in low-lying areas three days' warning of a possible evacuation, most townspeople thought they were safe from the river, as their homes were well out of the hundred-year flood plain. When the water came bubbling up out of sewers and began pouring down the streets, most escaped with only the clothes on their backs. The road heading north was eerily empty, almost as if what was once there had ceased to exist.

    In spite of my lack of caffeine, my hands shook. I gripped the steering wheel so tightly that my knuckles turned white. What will happen to all of us? How are we going to live?

    It wasn't just the raging waters we were fleeing. A monstrous fire was engulfing the downtown area of Grand Forks. As we watched it on television from the home of friends, it seemed almost surreal. One of our business districts was burning up, even though it was filled with water. No one knew how the fire had started; the media's best guess was that something electrical had shorted out before power was cut to the city.

    The fire had already devoured one city block, and its sparks were quickly igniting buildings up to two blocks away. The town's major newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald, had already burned to the ground, and our bank was on fire as we left town. Our house was less than five blocks from the fire's last location. The firefighters had no way of battling it, as there was no water pressure from the hydrants due to the failure of the lift stations. They tried dumping chemicals from the air, which didn't work. Last we saw, they were attempting to airlift the floodwater itself and release it on the fire, their only hope of getting the blaze under control.

    It felt as if our whole world were coming to an end. Don't look back, I said to Steve that morning as we hit the highway. But even though my car was facing south, I couldn't help but look in the rearview mirror every few seconds. Anxiety strangled my desire to make simple conversation with my daughter; fear clouded my vision of what might lie ahead. I just want to go home....

    Our Fargo store couldn't support our family; it was barely paying its bills. And with our Grand Forks store closed for the foreseeable future, our main source of income was cut off. The winter had already knocked the wind out of our profits, as we were closed or business had been minimal for almost three months. Now it would be weeks, maybe months more before the main store would be open again. I tried to remember how much we had left in our checking and money market accounts. I started to sweat, in spite of the fact that there was still snow on the fields.

    "What's wrong, Mom?" Erica asked.

    I didn't want to scare her with my fears. I couldn't bring myself to tell my baby that not only were we now homeless, but her father and I were basically jobless as well. Even though I was a writer and public speaker, my income from those activities had come to a halt as the river rose. I hadn't written a word in weeks, and all my regional speaking engagements had been canceled as sandbagging efforts escalated.

    "Nothing, sweetheart," I said. "I was just thinking."

    Her enormous brown eyes looked sad. "About what?"

    My best and only defense was to answer her question with another question. "What are you thinking about?"

    "My friends. I wonder where they are right now."

    "Probably doing the same thing we're doing—trying to find a place to live."

    She bit her lower lip.

    "Hey," I said as cheerfully as I could, "I'll bet Emily and her family went to their lake cabin. You can try calling when we get to Fargo, okay?"

    She nodded.

    "And this isn't so bad—we've already had two days of home-cooked meals, and now we'll be eating in restaurants in Fargo. No more Salvation Army truck food," I offered.

    "I like Salvation Army truck food," Erica replied. "I don't care that you can't tell what it is; it tastes good. Besides, I haven't had to do dishes in a while."

    I tried to laugh. "Yep, I guess that's true. I'm kind of fond of their hamburger hotdish myself."

    For the weeks we worked to shore up and patrol the dikes, the Salvation Army and Red Cross had provided all our meals and snacks. You could always count on their trucks to pull up just when your longing for a sandwich or a cup of coffee was greatest. I looked in the rearview mirror now, just to see if there might be one behind us. Even watery coffee was better than none. No luck.

    "What are we going to do when we get to Fargo, Mom?"

    Finally: a question I could answer. "Unpack the cars and get something to eat. Dad is going over to the store to try to get the Grand Forks computers up and running. I'll take you girls to the hotel so you can rest."

    Initially, on our escape, we were euphoric that we survived the disaster. We were grateful to be safe, happy to be with friends, and relieved to be in a peaceful place where the air was not cut every few minutes with the sound of emergency sirens or the relentless buzz of patrolling helicopters. We were physically and emotionally exhausted but upbeat, feeling lucky.

    But now reality was starting to set in. There will be no rest for you, dear. You'd better start making some calls, fast. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. You're making yourself sick with worry. Stop it! As one who taught the creative power of thoughts and emotions in my workshops, I knew I wasn't doing myself any good. So I tried some positive thinking: You've been working night and day for weeks, and now you'll get a much-needed vacation! You won't have to go grocery shopping for a few days, and all the cleaning will be done for you. There will be lots of Grand Forks people down in Fargo—you could have a great reunion at the store!

    But the more I tried to find the silver lining, the worse I felt. As my brain tried to conjure up pretty pictures, my gut instincts were screaming Liar! Fool! You're a mess, and you know it! This is the worst trouble you've ever been in, so get ready to suffer, babe! No place to live, no job, no money—it's your worst nightmare come true! The fact was, I didn't need a vacation. I had been barely working for weeks. What I wanted was to go back to my work. I would have loved a reason to buy fresh groceries, as I was sick of eating high-fat, high-salt processed stuff. And what kind of reunion would it be with people who were as upset and disoriented as we?

    I knew I didn't want to feel the way I did, so I tried a different approach to shake my fear: distracting myself, looking around for things in my immediate environment that brought me pleasure or peace. Usually just being with Erica could do that, as she is one of the most calm and contented people I know. But today even she was holding back a combination of fearful tears and rage. School had been canceled for the rest of the year, which meant that she and her sister had lost six weeks of coursework. On top of that, there was little chance they would see most of their friends for weeks, and such reunions would occur only if they managed to both escape and return safely.

    Looking around, I just got gloomier. The fields, which burst with the promise of new life every summer as the crops hit their peak, were nothing more than hard lumps of black mud at the moment. The trees were bare of both snow and leaves, and looked dead. Alongside the road, there were still some toppled power lines remaining from Blizzard Hannah. The sight of the downed lines deepened the sense of isolation I was beginning to feel. I cracked my window for some fresh air, but only the frigid wind spoke; it was too early for the snow geese to return.

    The sight of all this emptiness reflected my feelings that my world, indeed, had come to an end. The 115-year-old home we had painstakingly restored for almost eighteen years was unreachable for the foreseeable future, or might be gone altogether, swept off its aging foundation by the rage of the turbulent water. My marketing job with our store was suspended, not only because our Grand Forks customers were gone but because it was obvious that we would need a separate source of income, and I would have to provide it while Steve tended to the family business. The synagogue over whose board of directors I presided was in one of the worst-hit neighborhoods. Our children would have to be sent to my parents until we could reestablish ourselves. Overnight, everything I owned and all the roles I played were gone. Beneath my worry, strangely, there was something appealing about that. I had nothing to do and nowhere to go but to be where I was, doing what I was doing at the moment.

    I craved life, music, joy—anything to shake off the gloom I was fighting. I instinctively reached for my CD player. Whitney Houston's "The Preacher's Wife" burst forth from six speakers. I started to hum, and as I did, I could feel a warm buzz of energy return to my brain. I started to make a mental list of all the tasks I'd have to do to help Steve, take care of the kids, find writing work and more, but it soon became far more than I could remember. As restlessness crept back in, I knew I was going to need more than simple faith to face what lay ahead. What I desperately wanted was what some call "the peace of God," that absolutely sure, comforting certainty that this, too, would pass and all would be well again. Without that peace, I doubted I would have the emotional, spiritual or even physical stamina to rebuild or replace my home, help restore the synagogue and double my income.


The Search for Peace


How do I find peace, God? I took that question to bed with me that night, and slept more soundly than I expected to. In the morning, nothing had changed in our situation, but I felt different: lighter, as if my body was half its weight. I pulled on my sweats, went down to the hotel lobby to get a cup of coffee, and felt almost invisible. Although it was before seven, the seating area around the breakfast buffet was packed. Every table was filled with people talking, mostly, it seemed, about their escape from the flood or what they planned to do next. As I slowly stirred cream and sugar in my coffee, I stood by the counter, listening. No one seemed to notice I was there.

    Everyone has a story, I thought. Some were full of faith, including the woman whose character would not permit her to abandon the family cat. She stayed behind on a tiny island of dry land until a helicopter could rescue them both. Others spoke of unity, where hundreds of volunteers worked through a day or night to sandbag a home in an attempt to save it from destruction. Still more shone with the purity of trust, as they laid their personal comfort and lives in the hands of total strangers who took them in after National Guardsmen evacuated them.

    I quietly retreated back to our room, thinking about what I'd just seen and heard. Character, unity, trust ... I'd seen them all before, in the hundreds of real-life stories I gathered for my writings, workshops, and lectures. Until that moment, it never occurred to me that there might be something more inspiring than the stories themselves. It wasn't just a matter of saving a cat or sandbagging a house. Instead, I had the feeling that the peace I craved lay in the discovery of some divine force that motivated these people to their life-enhancing actions while keeping their fear at bay.

    I thought, too, of all the lessons I'd learned in the hundreds of books I'd read on motivation, creativity, spirituality, and metaphysics. Everything starts as a thought.... Your feelings determine what kind of experiences you will have, as energy is attracted to that which is like itself.... Your life experiences are a result of your attentions, intentions, and beliefs.... Somehow the people I was observing were able to sustain a peace of mind and heart that was making things go their way. How did they do that under these conditions?

    As the weeks went by, I heard more and more stories. The people who seemed to be the most comfortable and unconcerned—in other words, the most peaceful—were those who used a combination of spiritual qualities to frame their thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

    "I worked so hard, I slept right through the sirens and bullhorns!" one man roared, totally unconcerned with the danger he faced. It was obvious that his peace came from somewhere deep in his character. He had poured all his physical and mental energy into being a tireless sandbagger, which kept him from fear.

    "Our house is a goner," another woman said, "but there were so many people who tried to help us save it, right up to the last minute. I wish I could thank them and tell them that even though we'll have to move, we'll be okay." Rather than dwelling on her loss, her attention was on blessing others with her gratitude and love.

    I wanted both to tell the stories I was discovering and make better sense of them. I started by picking up the phone and calling every editor I could. Within forty-eight hours, I had an assignment from Ladies' Home Journal for the story of a woman who had lost both her home and her business in the flood. In spite of her losses, she was remarkably confident, and I knew that by interviewing and following her over the coming months, I would learn a great deal more about personal peace.

    As the days and months went by, I observed some other common threads among the people who were recovering the fastest and the best. Not just from the flood itself, but also from the inevitable financial reversals, divorces, and illness that surfaced after the water retreated. I kept notes, comparing them to the real-life stories and the spiritual lessons I already knew. These people have a gift, I thought. Then I looked again. No, not a gift. More than one....

    And it wasn't just tragedy that brought out the gifts. Sometimes it was opportunity, revealed in something like a letter to the editor from a reader challenging our city government to broaden its vision of what our town could be. Other times it was the most ordinary moments that made a gift shine, such as the time I could see the joy in the eyes of an elderly neighbor as he paused from the work of mucking out his basement so he could pet Lady, our collie. At that moment, what was probably the most horrible afternoon of his life was made sweeter by the simplicity of noticing the beauty of a pet. I soon discovered that the lessons of the flood were not about trying to hold back water but, rather, what it allowed us to unleash in ourselves.


The Gifts


In time, I could see that the most peaceful people actively used ten gifts. I made a small poster of them on my laptop computer, and put it up near the kitchen table in our temporary apartment, which I was using as my desk. Whenever things got tough, I'd look over at it and ask aloud, "Okay, God, which one should I use for this?" I eventually discovered that there wasn't any situation that the gifts couldn't improve or correct. What was even better was how peaceful I felt when I used them.

    So, rather than wait for more trouble, I started using my gifts proactively to take control of my life. The gifts became sources of safety in times of danger; the next step needed to move a dream forward; visions of love that opened my frightened heart to the beauty all around me, especially that in other people. Using my gifts delivered me not only to my newly emerging life but also to a better part of myself than I had ever known. The more I used my gifts, the more my restlessness, fear, and discontent started to disappear.

    The best way to describe the gifts is to call them spiritual verbs, life-enhancing abilities given to each one of us at birth to create the outcomes we desire. In spite of their names, I do not consider them nouns. The results that are produced by using your gifts are certainly tangible, but the gifts themselves are unformed until we use decide how they are to be used and take action. You may doubt you have them, but I assure you that you do. If you were faced with trouble, you would set one or more of yours in motion. I noticed that some people use theirs all the time not only to benefit themselves but also to be of divine service to others.

    The ten gifts are:

    The gift of Faith, surrendering any problem or fear to a higher power. I call this loving resource God, but you may call our Creator another name. The gift of Faith answers the question "What problem do I wish I could surrender to God?" It enables us to release our doubts, resistance, and limitations without hesitation. This gift also can be used when no trouble is around, as it instantly creates possibilities far beyond the scope of our current experience. Used this way, it answers the question "What's the most wonderful thing that could happen?"

    The gift of Love, expressing our tenderness and splendor by noticing and helping to bring it out in others. The gift of Love answers the question "What beauty do I see in the people and things around me?" Although it can be expressed intimately with a lover, the gift of Love is better used to create something other than romance. It is the conscious choice to reveal the best in any other living being(s), whether another person or group of people, an animal (such as a pet) or a plant, a field, an ocean, or forest. Using the gift of Love eases our self-consciousness and delivers us to one another in ways that uplift all involved.

    The gift of Dreams, cocreating with God by focusing on what inspires or uplifts us. This gift is unique to the human species, as we are the only life form capable of both forming a good intention and actually carrying it out. The gift of Dreams answers the question "What would make me happy?" It is God's way of constantly inventing new and better things here on Earth through us.

    The gift of Courage, taking physical action toward the object or objectives of our love and dreams. This gift answers the question "What am I willing to try?" It is the gift that makes change fun and exciting rather than frightening. While the gifts of Love and Dreams launch the process of creation, the gift of Courage is the force needed to move things forward.

    The gift of Unity, multiplying our gifts by one, two, a thousand, or ten million. This gift reminds us that we are not alone in our life quest here on Earth but, rather, part of a huge tribe known as the human family. This is the gift that will deliver you to what feels like your soul mates, like-minded spirits who will willingly join forces with you for the sake of a vision higher than any that could be accomplished alone.

    This gift is often linked with the gift of Faith, for once a problem has been surrendered, the best possible person or team for its resolution often shows up "coincidentally" or "miraculously." The gift of Unity is our guarantee that we will have the strength and resources necessary to carry our gifts of Dreams and Courage forward to their best results, for the good of the whole. It answers the question "Who can help me?"

    The gift of Joy, taking abundant pleasure from what we have created with our gifts. This gift qualifies the other nine, suggesting that we are not meant to use our gifts simply to survive but to satisfy our souls and to inspire others to do the same. It answers the question "How can I best share or express my happiness?"

    The gift of Trust, connecting to our higher selves. This gift is the God-given internal radar system that aligns our thoughts and actions with the divine will for our ultimate growth and freedom. It helps us feel comfortable, both with ourselves and with other people. The gift of trust also keeps us safe, as it alerts us instantly by making us feel bad whenever we think, say, or do anything that could be harmful. It answers the question "When do I feel good?" because it is constantly guiding us toward people and situations that help us grow and be free.

    The gift of Character, understanding who we are now and who we want to be in the future. This is the gift that reminds us that each of us is totally unique and necessary to the life of the world, which is why we're here. The gift of Character allows us to reinvent ourselves over and over throughout our lives. It keeps us in constant harmony with the expression of our other nine gifts, so that we are able to "walk our talk," as they say. It answers the question "Who do I want to be now?"

    The gift of Thanks, blessing whatever we've created with our other nine gifts. In the book of Genesis, God acknowledges the beauty and perfection of his/her creation by saying "It is good." This is pure contentment, the ultimate peace. The gift of Thanks makes it possible for us to do the same and enjoy the same peace, if only for a short while. When we use this gift, we pour positive energy into the lives of others, making it easier for them to use their own gifts. The gift of Thanks answers the question "Who or what can I bless?"

    The gift of Intention, the ability to choose a new direction or return to an old one, regardless of current circumstances. This gift makes it possible for us to leave the past behind or trade something good for something even better. It's the assurance that no matter what happens, "It ain't over till it's over." Intention allows us to start fresh or take a quantum leap forward at any time. It answers the questions "What now? What next?"

    Since the flood, there has never been a day when I have not thought about or used the ten gifts. I often start my day by asking "Which gift will help me be my best today?" I use them daily to enhance my work and interactions with others, and see them expressed everywhere I go. I know without any doubt that they do not belong to a "worthy" few. You can't buy them at a church, temple, or mosque. There's nothing you need to do to "earn" them. They're already yours. The only thing you need to manifest them is desire, making a conscious choice to do so.

    Weeks after we evacuated, my family and I went home. Miraculously, our house was still standing, and thanks to its position on a small hill, only its basement had flooded. We mucked out our lowest level, which had filled with seven and a half feet of poisoned water, and emptied our garage, which had taken on three feet of toxic sludge. Although we lost a great deal of personal property, we eventually felt redeemed, not burdened, by the whole experience. Much of what we had been saving was actually holding us back from creating more growth in our lives, and once rid of it, we found we had less to maintain, insure, or dispose of. Literally and figuratively, we were lighter, freer.

    We also discovered the joys of Unity as we worked with our employees to reinvent our stores. We used our gifts of Love to see their magnificent strength of character, as they did everything in their power to make our Fargo operation profitable while reinventing the Grand Forks store to meet changing market conditions after it reopened. At a time when their own lives had serious challenges, they helped our third-generation family business recover.

    Our daughters gained a new level of maturity and self-confidence from the experience, and Steve and I, liberated from old roles and beliefs, began pursuing our dreams—he in photography, me as a full-time writer, consultant, and speaker. I left my marketing position at the store and struck out on my own, something I would have been too afraid to do before the disaster.

    Although our house withstood the flood, it is in the path of the proposed dike, so in 1998, Steve and I decided to voluntarily sell it to the city and move to a spacious town-home on the opposite end of town, far away from the river. Although our new place is architecturally simpler than our old one was, it is also a lot easier to own and maintain. And we were able to create one thing we never could in our pre—turn-of-the-century house: a full-size photography studio for Steve, one of his dreams come true. So when people say to us "What a shame; you lost your house," we add, "And started having more fun than we've had in years." More than anything else, we have learned to treasure our lives, each other, the people connected to us, and our work far more than any possessions in our care or any roles we play. So far, so good.

    In April 1997 I wanted God to make me a miracle so I could calm down and feel better. At the time, I was thinking along the lines of something spectacular, such as rolling back the water or having someone deliver a suitcase full of cash to my hotel room with no strings attached. But now I understand that, indeed, God did make me a miracle. And you, too. God gave us life and the ten gifts. With them, we all have everything we need to create peace within ourselves and our world.


PEACE PROGRESS STEP 1

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Defining Peace


    Jot down your answers to the following six questions, enter them in your computer, talk them over with a friend, or record them onto a cassette tape. You'll use them as a benchmark to gauge your progress as you experience the gifts, proof of your ever-increasing peacefulness. Your answers also will serve as a practical guide for you in your progress journey, giving you people, places, and circumstances you know you can count on to enhance or celebrate your emerging peacefulness.

    1. Why do you want personal peace now? Try to go beyond answers like "Because I'm stressed to the max," which indicates little more than you want some immediate relief. Instead, ask yourself how you and your current life would be different if you were peaceful now. Would you experience more kindness? Have fewer headaches? Get married? Try a new job? Close your eyes and try to imagine what you are both giving up and getting by becoming peaceful.

    2. What do you think personal peace feels like? If you can find the feeling by closing your eyes and calming your current level of fear or discontent, fine. But chances are, you'll need a reference point. Try reaching into the past, making note of any setting, sound, texture, aroma, or flavor, if any, of a peaceful moment you remember. In other words, if you always felt peaceful at your grandmother's house, replay your memories of how her house looked, sounded, and felt, and see if you can remember how you acted, including what you thought about and/or said to others. In other words, bring it back to life in your mind. Here's an example:


Sitting in the living room of my grandmother's house was like taking a warm, pink bath.... She liked pink roses, hung pink curtains, and had a Victorian loveseat made of real cherrywood with a dusty pink velvet cushion that was overstuffed with goosedown. When I sat on that loveseat, the cushion would puff up around me and I would disappear in its cleavage ... and as I sat there, my little legs swinging, unable to reach the floor, I could smell a pan of her famous brownies baking in her old, white enamel oven.... I could hear my parents and my aunts and uncles laughing on the sun porch at something they saw on television, and I remember asking my brothers and my cousins if they wanted to go up into the attic after supper and dig around in Nanny's big steamer trunk full of yarn. I was excited when they said yes, because I was too young to be allowed to go up there alone to treasure hunt, and because I knew Nanny would knit me a new scarf, sweater, or hat, depending on how much matching yarn I could find.... and I remember feeling happy and ready for some fun....


    Or try to get a sense of the feeling by thinking of something that makes you feel relatively safe and comfortable now, including sleeping in your own bed, stroking a pet, or listening to your favorite music. Again, you can write, think, or speak your impressions out loud.

    3. When do you feel most peaceful in your current life? Although your immediate reaction may be to say "Never!" if you give yourself thirty to sixty seconds to think about it, you'll probably come up with a time of the day, week, or month that is relatively painless for you. Maybe it's the moments just before you fall asleep, or when your toddler cuddles up beside you to take a nap on a Saturday afternoon. Perhaps it comes after you've paid a few bills or cooked an especially good dinner. The peace might come in prayer, while reading, or when you're staring out the window on your commute to work. Another way to approach this is to ask yourself "When am I the least annoyed or upset?"

    4. Who makes you feel peaceful? It could be anyone from today's circle of family, friends, coworkers, or acquaintances, or it could be people from your past, even those who are deceased. If there's no one in your life experience who has ever made you feel peaceful, try to imagine meeting someone who will. Again, it's helpful to go beyond a mere list of names to noting one or two reasons why these individuals make you feel peaceful. Here are some more examples:


Uncle Eddie, because he makes me laugh.... Rocky, our miniature Schnauzer, because he'll sit quietly on my lap and let me pet him while I watch TV.... Mom, because she makes me warm milk and stays up to talk to me in the middle of the night.... Dad, because he likes to play and have fun....


    Again, if you're feeling negatively, a different way to approach this is to ask yourself "Who doesn't upset me too much?"

    5. Where do you go to find peace in your current life? If the answer "nowhere" pops up, think again. We all have special places that feel right to us. It doesn't have to be a retreat-type space, such as your bedroom or a secluded beach in the Caribbean. Think of peace in terms of nonresistance, when you experience the least number of negative thoughts.

    It might be when you're working on a hobby and lose track of time or when you're actively involved in caring for your family, your garden, or your pet. When I was a girl, it was lying at the top of the one hill in Echo Lake Park, which was not far from my house. There I'd lie on my back and make pictures out of cloud formations, an activity that could go on for hours. Now I have a large, hunter-green velvet wing chair in our living room that I use for meditation. When I sit in it, I know I will feel peaceful, even when I'm not meditating. It's comfy and sturdy, and when I sit in it, I feel safe.

    6. How will you know when you've achieved peacefulness? What do you imagine you will be like? If this question seems too abstract, start looking for examples of other people who have some measure of peace in their lives. It might be your elderly neighbor down the hall who laughs off small stresses, or the coworker who's just made it through a serious illness with her sense of humor intact.

    If you don't know anyone who fits your definition of peacefulness, take a mental romp through history until you can think of someone who does. If you choose a religious figure such as Christ or the Buddha, be sure to ask yourself if you believe you can achieve similar results. Otherwise, all you' re doing is creating conditions that ultimately will make you more stressed, not more peaceful. The point of this question is to help you fashion a definition of peacefulness that is right for you, not anyone else.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xv
1. Discovery 1
Peace Progress Step 1 Defining Peace 16
2. The Gift of Faith 20
Peace Progess Step 2 Using Faith 36
3. The Gift of Love 40
Peace Progess Step 3 Through the Eyes of Love 54
4. The Gift of Dreams 57
Peace Progess Step 4 Creating Dreams 65
5. The Gift of Courage 72
Peace Progess Step 5 Just One Thing 84
6. The Gift of Unity 87
Peace Progess Step 6 Many Hands, One Heart 97
7. The Gift of Joy 100
Peace Progess Step 7 Journaling Joy 114
8. The Gift of Trust 120
Peace Progess Step 8 A Minute of Trust 134
9. The Gift of Character 140
Peace Progess Step 9 Haul Out the Mental Trash 154
10. The Gift of Thanks 158
Peace Progess Step 10 Bless You! 172
11. The Gift of Intention 180
Peace Progess Step 11 "I Feel Good!" 193
12. Epilogue: A New Life 197
Peace Progess Step 12 A Prayer for Peace 209
For Further Information 211
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2000

    Finding the answers to inner peace,

    In 1997 A massive flood in Grand Forks, ND & East Grand Forks, MN caused the evacuation of 60,000 people including Robin Silverman and her family. Robin knew it would take more than hard work to get back on track after this life changing event. She looked for what gave people the core of inner peace and in time discovered. 'The Ten Gifts'. I found answers I had long been searching for while reading the stories of how these gifts were and can be used.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2000

    This book is truly a GIFT you give yourself. WONDERFUL

    THE TEN GIFTS is so beautifully written it feels like a treasure in your hands as you savor each page. Ten wonderful 'gifts' that we ALL possess, yet do not always use... This book helps us recognize, appreciate and utilize each one, and that truly is the most precious gift of all. My spirit is uplifted and nurtured every time I open this book and I thank Robin Silverman for sharing HER grace and loving wisdom with us. 'Thank you Robin! Your book has made me realize that we are ALL blessed with TEN most precious GIFTS, and richer than we had ever imagined!'

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