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I was an odd child, I think. I remember sitting with my mother as a small child and really worrying about the state of the world. I wondered how people could be so mean to other people just because they might be a different religion or race. I can remember telling her how senseless I thought this was and asking her what could I do to make the world a more peaceful place. I felt so small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I believe my mother sensed my almost unnatural worry about such things.
Her words to me were simple. She told me that we can't change the world, but what we can do is make our little section of the world a better place. We can start with ourselves. We can choose to be kinder and gentler in the way we treat ourselves. Then, we can branch out to our immediate family and practice patience and understanding with them. We can really make an effort to see the good in other people. After-all, we are all connected and though the details of another person's life may be different from our own, we all have the same basic wants and needs.
It made me think. How could we achieve a world where people appreciated themselves and also the diversity around them? What steps could we take to make our little piece of Earth more peaceful, joyous and loving? I came to truly understand that in order to change the world, we needed to change our own attitudes and perceptions. We needed as Ghandi said, to "become the change you wish to see in the world".
If we want to see more loving behavior and kindness in the world, we need to be more loving and kind to ourselves and those around us. When we create even small changes in ourselves, those positive changes radiate out into the world like concentric circles. Our new insights and behaviors can bring new light to those around us and ultimately change our world for the better.
Throughout time, people have looked for happiness, peace and even God, somewhere outside themselves. Many don't realize that all happiness, peace, power and indeed God reside right within all of us. In fact, I believe it is our purpose in life to journey through our days learning, growing and seeking joy. In doing so, we can come to the realization that this is the essence of peace.
"A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes." -- Ghandi
Loving One's Self
So many times, growing up, I would criticize myself. I was either too short or too fat or too loud. The list could go on and on depending on what day of the week or my current mood. Although my mother, thinking she was helping, would certainly mention if she thought I was gaining some pounds, she was also my biggest cheerleader. If she would overhear me criticizing something about myself or calling myself a derogatory name, she would tell me to stop all those negative comments about myself. She said there are far too many insecure people out there that are willing to agree with anyone else's negative views about themselves.
Though mom was not super religious, she was very spiritual and had a firm belief that there was a God. God wasn't some man in a throne judging us all, but my mother used to explain God to me as an energy, like electricity. She used to say that although you can't see electricity, you know it is there because you can observe its effects. And she always stressed that we were all a part of this energy; that our body was our temple here on Earth, the house of our soul. With that in mind, we should do everything in our power to take good care of our bodies and to love them because doing anything less is doing a disservice to your soul, your spark of divinity. We are all perfect reflections of God.
So, as I matured and started to understand more of what my mother was trying to impart to me, I began to realize that if we didn't love ourselves, we could not truly love others. It started to make sense that loving one's self is the first step to peace on Earth. We make peace with ourselves, and then we can find that peace in our own external world. Appreciation of self leads to inner peace which eventually translates to outer peace.
Now, think for a moment about how you talk to yourself. Are the voices in your mind kind to you or do you habitually find fault with yourself and others? Our self-talk can either serve us or not, but one thing is for sure, we get to control it. We are the only ones in our own head! Our thoughts are so powerful and the thrilling thing about this realization is that we are the masters of them!
One of my favorite modern day teachers is Louise Hay. Her affirmations and writings have helped me through many tough times in my life. I think one of the most powerful tools for self-empowerment that she recommends is called mirror work. It is a great, yet simple means for fostering approval, appreciation and acceptance of one's self.
Mirror work is an easy process. Simply find a mirror and look yourself in the eyes and tell yourself, "I love you. I really, really love you." You can continue on with more of your positive aspects if you are so inclined. When you first begin the process, it will probably feel very strange to you. So, my suggestion is to start small. Talk to yourself in the mirror in the morning and evening and keep it as brief as you feel comfortable. Really make a conscious effort to do this every day and give it enough time to make it a habit. As time goes by, I bet you will really come to enjoy your chats with yourself.
What I found amazing as I began this work is the amount of negative chatter about me that I had going on in my brain! I always thought I was such a nice person, so how could I be so mean to me? Think about that.
As you continue your mirror work, simply observe your inner voice without judgment. Don't beat yourself up for any negativity you might notice. Remember, you have the power to shift your thoughts at any moment to those that feel better and are more soothing and beneficial. Over time, being kind and loving to yourself will become easier. As you become more aware, you can catch your not-so-nice thoughts quicker and flip them right over to more positive, loving thoughts.
Soon, believe it or not, you will find the predominance of your thoughts is much more beneficial than when you started. As you continue to practice, you will find positive changes occurring in your life. The wonderfully "magical" thing about this is, you begin to attract from life all the beauty and goodness you deserve!
Love your body. Study nutrition and experiment with healthy foods that taste good and nourish your body. Drink lots of pure water and move your body. It was built for movement. As you consciously show yourself love, your body and soul will thrive.
Surround yourself with positive people. Be available to help them, but also allow them to offer assistance to you too if you need it. Giving and receiving love and support are important acts of self-love.
This work is so important. How does it help to bring about a more peaceful planet for all of us? People that feel good about themselves do not need to try and control others or make others feel badly. In other words, when you are connected to that beautiful force that is God, or the goodness of life, you cannot do harm to another. So, when we truly love ourselves, we can then achieve more constant inner peace. And then, we can create a more peaceful environment around us. This leads full circle to a better more peaceful world for all.
The greatest part of all this work, for me, is that now, when I look into the mirror and tell myself that I really love me, I can see my mother smiling back at me. I think she knows I am starting to get it......
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice." -- Meister Eckhart
Mom set a good example for all of us. Every morning, she would awaken and open her bedroom shades uniformly. She would stretch and thank God for another beautiful day. She lived her life with a sense of gratitude and grace. She knew that riches didn't mean just financial abundance, but that abundance was all around us in the sunsets and the children laughing and the people we love. After her diagnosis, I believe she became even more aware of the little things in life and how much they meant to her. Even when those close to her knew how she suffered physically from the effects of her illness, she always said (and believed) that she was "doing fine.... better every day".
As I began to face my own dis-ease, I realized quite profoundly, that she was onto something big. When I was diagnosed, I knew that despite what the doctors said about my prognosis, only God knew how much time I had left here on Earth. I knew, innately, that if I gave the word leukemia the power, that I would surely live up to the doctor's morbid expectations of me. At that point, I had two preschoolers to get raised. There was no way I was going to leave them.
I had to start focusing on living each day as a thank you. Every moment, we have the opportunity to focus on things that give us pleasure or things that bring pain. When we focus on all the things, big and small, for which we are grateful, we send out a beacon to the Universe that says, "I like this ... send more, please!".
Each morning since my diagnosis, I awaken and the first thought in my head as I stretch is, I am healthy and strong. Then, before arising, I make a mental list of everything in my life that I appreciate and for which I am so grateful. Sometimes my list is very general, like being thankful for being alive or being able to sit up, stretch and get out of bed. Other days my list is quite specific, like being thankful I found that great shirt or that I have such fabulous people in my life or had that great meal.
Each night before bed, I write in my gratitude journal. I find at least five things for which I am thankful. Sometimes I simply rattle off a list and sometimes, if I am feeling creative, I write a "brief" essay. This very simple act of being grateful and appreciative brings more wonderful experiences into your life. The more you graciously appreciate all the things in your life that are going right, the more things start to go right for you!
There is so much in life for which to be thankful. Try this process in your own life. It's another simple process with seemingly magical effects. Each night before you go to bed, sit quietly and breathe as you review your day. Then, either in your journal or at least consciously in your mind, make a list of at least five things for which you are grateful. Feel free to list more if you can. Some days it may feel like a struggle, but dig deep and do it. The more you practice observing the positive aspects of your days, the easier it gets. If you find you can rattle off more, keep going. List as many as you can and if you're on a roll, stay with it!
The more you can create an attitude of gratitude in your life, the more you will see your world turn around for the better. As if by magic, things will start to go easier for you. Life will become your friend and together you will create a truly magnificent reality!
Appreciation for life's blessings opens a valve for more and more delicious, delightful splendors. Start now! You will not regret it!
"Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny." –Unknown
Excerpted from Things I Wish my Mother had Said ... (or maybe she did) by Genie Lee Perron. Copyright © 2013 Genie Lee Perron. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted May 19, 2013
An excellent, quick read!
It has a beautiful message.
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Posted October 22, 2013
"Things I Wish my Mother had Said (or maybe she did) written and illustrated by Genie Lee Perron was a treat to read. Each chapter highlighted a unique illustration that introduced each segment. This is one of those books that reminds you how precious life is and how valuable mothers can be. It reinforces that we need to appreciate them while we still have them or, if they are gone, to remember them and cherish it.
Perron covers themes like keeping a gratitude journal, changing the way we phrase things, looking for the positive spin in life, and taking time for ourselves. I have to say that my favorite was telling your story the way you want it to be, or intention writing. This is a strong envisioning of where you want your life to go. Not in an untruthful way, but in a directional nudge that is healthy.
The author was easy to relate to and this novel wasn’t “fluff” in any way. It was a realistic portrayal of a normal woman who has had challenges in life, lost a mother, had children and made the best of everything that has come her way. Things I Wish my Mother had Said (or maybe she did) is a powerful message and an inspiration to read." TBR - TopBookReviewers