L.I.S.T.E.N. is an honest, creatively inspiring account of personal experiences that will encourage you to chart your own positive blueprint to live each day more joyfully. It can motivate you to l.i.s.t.e.n. (let your inner self teach you enlightenment and newness), and discover for yourself your own life lessons. Suggesting continued study, positive action, and trust in God, L.I.S.T.E.N. also includes abstract drawings and strengthening poetry to move you forward with more acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness
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By Ellie Van Arsdale
Balboa PressCopyright © 2012 Ellie Van Arsdale
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEvery second of every minute of every twenty four hour day that you live in this world is a second that is giving you life. Every precious breath emanating from your lungs is bringing you the gift of love beyond measure. Each one is providing you with an amazing opportunity to live your days with increased awareness of your individual path and partnership with God. Each one is gifting you with a positive affirmation to love yourself, to know yourself, and to reach out to the world in which you live in accepting, compassionate ways. If you are willing to see your breaths as tiny miracles of enlightenment, you will find strength and guidance in each breath as you courageously take action to move forward in your life. Let your inner self teach you enlightenment and newness. L.I.S.T.E.N. It takes only one breath to voice the affirmation, "I am loved beyond measure."
Open my eyes that I may see. Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me Place in my hands the wonderful key That shall unclasp and set me free Open my ears that I may hear. Voices of truth Thou sendest clear And While the wave notes fall on my ear, Everything false will disappear Open my mouth, and let me bear. Gladly the warm truth everywhere Open my heart and let me prepare. Love with Thy children thus to share. Silently now I wait for Thee. Ready my God, Thy will to see Open my eyes, my ears, my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!
Christian Hymn from Psalm 119:18 H. Scott 1895 Clara H. Scott 1895
It does not matter who you are, where you are, or what life has brought to you in this present moment of your journey. Forgiveness and a loving willingness to move on to a happier, healthier world for yourself is a decision only you can make. Finding your way to positive change with a knowing and a trust you are being led to new truths and increased awareness, is the result of your decision to have the courage to look within and do your necessary work.
Each of us has a difficult journey. Not one of us is exempt. You will never get it all accomplished. In the final realization of what life is all about, this is okay! Continuing to plan and to dream keeps you positive, active and brings joy into your life. Your willingness to begin a new journey for yourself, and to emerge with a more mature awareness, and a new compassion for yourself and the world in which you live, is the first step in releasing blame of others, and blame of God. L. I. S. T. E. N. Let your inner self teach you enlightenment and newness.
'There is growing quality in everything; thus we all go on our way, different in many experiences, common enough in others, to make us all children of one plan, which most of us come to see is divine. Whether we laugh or cry as we come to the light and dark places, those of us who do recognize divinity in our lives, go forward with praise and thanksgiving."
Abbie May Palmer 1929
Willingness to enter the black, starless nights of our inner selves is scary. It takes our trust, our time, our courage, and most importantly, our faith. It is true that no one can fully understand what you are going through or how you are managing to live it all out. No one sees inside you, no one feels what you are experiencing emotionally, physically or spiritually. No one sees how you are coping, how you are getting through this day. Perhaps no friend or family member knows how desperately you want out of a relationship, out of your loneliness, out of your chronic pain, or out of your financial catastrophe.
Our negative thoughts often pop up unexpectedly shocking us and others. They act as astonishing wake up calls for us to see the reality of our behavior. They show us how we are expressing our despair, and our anger with our negative actions. Strong responses to our bad behavior from those we know and from strangers, can be gifts of new knowledge, if we are not defensive, and think we are always right. In order to recognize the positive in us, it is necessary for us to see the negative. It is only in seeing both that we can make a conscious decision to be more positive, more loving, more accepting, The gift is in accepting both sides, in owning both sides. We cannot see our beautiful aurora borealis lights until we have experienced our dark, starless nights. Give yourself permission to hear without judgment. As my mother has written, "recognize divinity" in your life and move forward "with praise and thanksgiving." Affirm this knowledge and accept its healing presence. L.I.S.T.E.N. Let your inner self teach you enlightenment and newness.
What are you hearing now? What has been unheard until now that is re-emerging stronger and clearer than ever before? Is there a new song? Hear its loving message surrounding you with new hope and a new dream. Open your mind and your heart to the music playing for your ears only. Tune to the channel that is coming loud and clear with positive lyrics of love beyond measure. Re-affirm to yourself that you are listening and providing for yourself, that you are taking action, being nurturing and re-storing your spirit. Trust your music. Listen to its vibrant melodies and affirmative words for new and better days. See the positive messages that are everywhere, not only in song. Welcome the new discoveries you are hearing, seeing, feeling. They are here to help you help yourself.
You might decide to create mantras of your own making. Select a song, a quotation, a phrase, a picture, a scene from nature that speaks to your ears alone and brings comfort and joy to you. For instance, take a word that means something to you and make an acronym with it. Here is S.T.O.P.:
Stay True to my Own Peace
I like the word smile because I want to do a lot more of it! Here is another meaningful acronym that I have made for myself from S.M.I.L.E.
See Messages of Inspiration and Love Everywhere
You might want to write a haiku of five lines which has the formula of: line 1: 5 syllables line 2: 7 syllables line 3: 5 syllables line 4: 7 syllables line 5: 7 syllables. A haiku that brings meaning to me is:
My heart is a well, Never dry, but sometimes low. Come rain and fill it. To joy overflowing so Laughter and peace reign again
My mother loved to write poetry and I have kept her words as inspiration for my own writing. She wrote this about breathing:
In the trees, shrubs, everywhere The birds are singing songs That vary in tone, length, and rhythm All of them so full of the joy of living That I lift up to Heaven Eyes filled with gratitude For my joy of hearing music That environs me like the air I breathe
Abbie May Palmer 1930
You are creative, and can choose what makes you happy; just start doing it. Whatever you choose to create will be yours alone and will bring special recognition to your days. Try it, it is fun. It keeps the mind active, positive, and loving.
In addition to writing your words, also sing with them, dance with them, paint with them. etc. and connect with their positive, loving messages. Feel new inspiration as you detach from your negative voices. Know that you are being heard and that from your intuition, the answers will be yours to live with new maturity and wisdom, when you are ready to receive them.
In your living space, you might want to give yourself a wrap around hug. I've done that for years every place I have lived. I have placed plants, pictures, travel treasures, etc., objects of all sizes that bring meaning and contentment to me around the room. When I am home and living in each room, it feels like a wrap around hug that makes me feel safe and loved.
Nothing has to be costly or expansive. What is important and what works, is that your home brings you a warm, cozy feeling and a calming atmosphere. My home, whether it has been a studio room, an apartment or a house, is my retreat. When I walk in my front door, I feel thankfulness for the space that shelters and nurtures me.
The answers we seek so desperately can never be rushed and seem to arrive one at a time, often unexpectedly. They arrive as truth, filling us with a new understanding, a new compassion, a new clarity. In the interim, continue your journey, continue your study, continue to trust in the Divine. One day, seemingly, out of the blue, you will get it. Your answer will be there for you, has always been there for you, but finally, you have been prepared to receive it! Listen to the positive change in your attitude, to the gratitude of new discovery in self. You are never alone even when you think you are.
Believe you have what you need at the time you need it. Believe, trust, and most importantly, be brave enough to go inside yourself to ask your questions and give praise for the wisdom you are receiving. You are loved beyond measure.
My husband and I married five days after he graduated from college. He had been in the Army during the Korean War and had finished college on the GI Bill. After college, he accepted a position with a national telephone company that would teach him the business from the ground up. He began by following telephone line gangs throughout the country and digging the ditches for the telephone poles. I had been a scholarship student and completed two years of college before we married.
After purchasing a mobile home, moving every two years, becoming parents to two beautiful sons, we finally found ourselves in a permanent location, buying our first house after six years of marriage. Nine months after moving to our new home, my husband was hospitalized with severe, acute pancreatitis. When I was told he had a 50-50 chance of living, I put his health on the up side of his making it, and staying with us. I refused to accept what the doctors were telling me between the lines.
Not knowing the end was so close, but feeling an urgency to take the boys to the hospital, I dressed our sons in their Easter outfits on Good Friday and took them on a surprise visit to see their father in the hospital. The nurses and I were not certain if we could lift him into a wheelchair, but luckily, we did it. In nine weeks he had lost fifty pounds and was so frail that I worried what reaction the boys would have to him.
There was no need to be concerned. When I wheeled him out to the reception room, other people gasped, but the boys embraced him. This was their daddy. The older boy said, "Daddy, you're not wearing your glasses." That was the only change he saw. His father smiled a wonderful, loving smile and tried to hug them both. Everyone who heard the statement was touched by our son's words of love. That sentence spoken by my not quite five year old son on Good Friday remains one of the most loving and beautiful sentences I have ever heard.
Early on Palm Sunday morning, he passed away. I was with him and although he was in a coma, I hope he felt my hand touching his, and heard me tell him how much I loved him, how much I wanted him to stay. Almost a week later, he was given a military ceremony and buried at the top of a lovely hill under a beautiful, maple tree in Arlington National Cemetery. Following the military ceremony my mother-in-law, a close friend whose husband had married us, my mother, my husband's boss and his wife, and our sons grieved with me in our home as we shared happy stories about his life.
Two days following the funeral I found myself alone with my sons. Everyone had returned home to Florida and it was assumed that we would follow in the near future. Because I had no siblings, no other family except my mother, it seemed inevitable that I would decide to move back to Florida in due time. I was told that was where we needed to be.
After six years in a small 8 wide, 35 foot mobile home, we had moved to a house with a yard in a beautiful neighborhood and within walking distance to excellent schools, our church, and a good shopping area. We were happy and felt this was where we belonged. This was where we would build our future. Even though I understood nothing, and felt everything, the answer was intuitively loud and clear to me. The boys and I would stay in Arlington, Virginia.
There were countless unanswered questions. What would I do, how could I keep the house, the car, bring clothing and food and emotional loving sustenance to my precious sons? I asked my questions in faith with no answers forthcoming immediately.
One night, soon after the funeral, after reading the boys a story and hearing their prayers, suicidal thoughts suddenly engulfed me and within minutes, had drowned all my hope. As I rose to enter the bathroom, a sudden and immense wave of overpowering love, stopped me and I could not move. Breaking through my bereavement, dislodging all barriers of despair, a voice whispered in my ear, "It's not time, you're needed here." Tears of guilt exploded. Fortunately, there would have been nothing to take in the medicine cabinet. When I could not sleep for much of those nine weeks, I had asked for something to take to help me sleep. However, the doctor denied my request. He told me that he and the nurses had observed me, thought I would make an excellent nurse, and felt that I had the strength to face whatever happened, on my own. This statement of confidence strengthened me, and helped me to know that I could do it, with God's help.
The first long cry alone since my husband's death took precedence over sleep that night. In the days that followed, the tears flowed just as freely every night, but I had begun to depend upon that inner whisper. How could I want to take my own life when my two young sons whom I loved and adored were sleeping in the next room? I wanted to love them and guide them, I wanted to see them grow into fine men, I wanted to share with them every step of our journey together.
Oh God, if ever I am to become what I want to become Help me now.
Fear has tiptoed into my mind and stolen my reconciled thoughts Decision has turned to negative thinking Confusion engulfs my being Hope seems distant And despair too near
Oh God, if ever I am to become what I want to become Help me now My soul lies dormant remembering past joys My mind takes shelter in what was Help me now to awaken lost hope And trust all to Thee.
Eleanor Van Arsdale
In my intense moments of desperation, God lovingly taught me that I was not alone, had never been alone, and would never again feel spiritually alone, unloved, unguided. I had felt His love surrounding me and enveloping me with new hope. In the years that have followed living out my life, even in times of despair, illness, betrayal, abandonment, and physical loneliness, I have never felt spiritually alone. From that moment after Al's death to this moment, I still know and feel God's love for me. Even though my personal journey has dramatically changed in the years that have followed, God's blessed assurance to me that night continues to be my pilot light for strength and courage. With a willingness I had never known before, I started to hear, to see with an open heart and a knowing inside of me that I was safe, regardless. I became willing to venture down a new path to forgive myself and to forgive God.
Every day it seemed I searched for answers and none were there for me. One night, again unable to sleep with my worries, I felt a presence in my bedroom that permeated the entire room. The air was thick, someone was there. Intuitively, I knew that the God who had told me "Ellie, you're needed here" was in my bedroom proving to me that I most certainly was not alone. I became so scared that I jumped up from my bed, ran into the bathroom across the hall, turned on the light, and immediately felt shame! God had come to me again, and I was not welcoming. Where was my faith, where was my trust, where was my courage? I was all bluff; I had no courage.
I have never felt remorse as much as I did that night in that bathroom with the light on. I turned off the light, and returned to bed beating myself up for being so stupid and fearful! I started to pray and I remember saying, "Please forgive me, I know it was you. I just got so scared. I know you came because I am so alone, feel no support, and am facing everything without knowing any answers. I was feeling so abandoned when you came to reassure me! Please come back again, please come soon. I promise I won't be scared. I will just lie here and thank you for loving me. I promise to trust that if You have something I need to know, you will tell me and I will hear it. And if you don't say anything, I will just know that you love me and You are here to give me the reassurance that I am never alone." Believe me when I tell you, I felt I had really blown it and wondered if God would ever return. It helped to write these words:
For all the moments in my day When thoughts are inconsistent and confusing Help me, Lord, to learn patience Give me the courage to stay positive Guide me to restore the vitality I have lost.
Excerpted from L.I.S.T.E.N. by Ellie Van Arsdale Copyright © 2012 by Ellie Van Arsdale. 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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