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Monday’s Random Thought: Neither Here nor There December 30, 2013

Filed under: From The Heart — heartwriter @ 11:06 pm
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We are in that in between place. Christmas is over but New Years has not happened yet. Lights still decorate our streets, Christmas fudge crumbs are still in the tin, but our minds are on the future. Thoughts of what’s around the corner. We are thinking of what’s ahead and perhaps not in the moment at all. I am quilty of that quite often. Completely lost in the future that the present gets ignored.

This Christmas I really operated with one intention, to be in the present. It paid off. I enjoyed the holiday because I was mentally, physicallly, emotionally and spiritually present to it. But now in these days in between I am wandering back to old habits of not being in the present. Thinking of 2014 and I still have a few days left in 2013.

I want the kids back in school, I am ready to take down the tree, ideas for work are percolating, I am ready to start fresh and begin again. Bring on the New Year.

When I am not present to what is in front of me, trouble begins. I get grouchy, things don’t flow smoothly. Today our power was out for three hours. I felt frozen at first. Then I realized these circumstances were just circumstances. With WiFi down I couldn’t work. I lit candles instead and played Monopoly with my kids.

Nothing else mattered. Nothing else does matter when you are fully engaged in the moment. I got there by surrender, deep breaths and being aware to what was in front of me not out there in an unknown future.

I didn’t get grouchy and everything flowed just fine.

What helps you when you are in that in between place to get back to the present? For in the present is where our life is, this is where the living happens.

 

Monday’s Random Thought: Light December 23, 2013

Filed under: From The Heart — heartwriter @ 9:12 pm
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I share with you my blog post from December 25, 2012 below.

This year the adults in my family will receive homemade chocolate not a candle. I had totally forgotten about writing this poem even though it was just last year. I offer this light to all of you, this year as well.

This Christmas all the adults in our family are getting a candle and the poem written below. I share this with you and invite you to light a candle and send out love into the world. If you are unable to light a candle, light one in your heart and ignite the fire of your soul. May the Spirit of Christmas, whatever that means to you, fill your heart today and always.

Light
by J.G. McGlothern

A single flame fills a room with radiant
wonder.
That simple flame ignites my soul with hope.
As I light the wick I surrender
my prayers to the heavens, give up control,
trust in the mystery of it all
and
choose to believe in the power of one
small bit of
light.
The changing power
of one
flame.
The beauty and possibility of believing in love.
This Christmas may the light of your candle bring you exactly what your soul craves,
as you ignite its flame,
with a moment of quiet, a handful of tears, a spark of joy…
May it fill your entire being with gratitude and peace.

 

Monday’s Random Thought: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood December 16, 2013

Filed under: From The Heart — heartwriter @ 4:46 am
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I share with you my blog post from December 18, 2011

There is something of yourself that you leave at the meeting of every person. Mister Rogers
Yesterday walking through the Pittsburgh airport for the first time in my life I was delighted to discover by the glassed display in my path, that this is the home of Mister Rogers. The sneakers wearin’, sweater changin’, big hearted man, coined many phrases and touched numerous souls with his authentic living. He didn’t just want children to feel loved and special, that was his hope for everyone.
I took a moment to look at the display in the airport then caught up to my husband. In the airport restroom as I washed my hands I noticed a lovely white haired woman dressed in a festive red coat about to depart the restroom with toilet paper on her shoe.
Excuse me mam, you have toilet paper on your shoe. Together with my cowboot wearin’ foot , we removed the t.p. from her Mary Jane loafered heel. You would think I just handed her a diamond broach. Her face lit up with gratitude. Exiting the airport, my husband and I passed a security guard behind a desk, Merry Christmas, the young man greeted us. I stopped in my tracks and paused at his desk. Touched by his spontaneous Christmas Spirit I responded in kind, Merry, Merry Christmas to you too
It’s the little gestures, the small acts that get us to the beautiful places. I am going to remember the words of Fred Rogers that I accidentally discovered yesterday. I will try to leave my best self with those I meet and I will embrace the sides they share with me with a bit of Christmas Spirit and an open heart.

by J.G. McGlothern
December 18, 2011

 

Monday’s Random Thought – Faith in Santa December 9, 2013

Filed under: From The Heart — heartwriter @ 2:16 pm
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Good Morning and Happy Monday,
Instead of writing and posting a Random Thought I would like to share with you a piece I wrote and shared here a few years back.

Who is Santa for you? What does Christmas mean in your heart? I invite these questions to stir inside of you this Monday….

Faith in Santa by J.G. McGlothern

One Christmas Eve when I was four years old my eleven year old sister told me in the dark of her room in one long breath that there was no Santa, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy.  Lying in bed that night I still tried to hear Santa’s sleigh bells but when the sound never came, I stopped believing.  Then in grade school, friends’ parents would ask me to “pretend” that Santa came to my house because their children still believed.  I remember Tanya’s dad from the yellow house up the street pulling me aside and politely telling me, “Santa comes to our house, so please, for Tanya’s sake, pretend he comes to yours too.”

Christmas began to take on a sleigh load of negative feelings and with its imminent arrival every year I grew to fear Christmas. Raised Catholic my mother did a wonderful job to teach our family Christian beliefs about Christmas.  I learned about Jesus being born in a manger, the gift of peace, and the joy of giving love to others.  Sitting in church on Christmas Eve nights I would imagine that I was part of the manger scene.  Sometimes I was Mary, absorbed in the true beauty of it all.  And sometimes I was one of the Wise Men traveling from afar, following the star with great anticipation of meeting the Messiah.   This part of Christmas gave me peace and kept my faith alive.  Back in school after Christmas break, the anxiety started all over again, I had to invent gifts that Santa brought.

Years later, as a parent with the birth of our children, I struggled with how to celebrate Christmas without bringing Santa into the whole thing.  How does one raise children to focus on the beauty that Christmas offers, when the commercialism of it all is shoved in your face?

Four years ago, when my children were four and one and a half years old, I received a precious gift.  I met Santa. On the morning of December fourteenth as I collected the morning paper from the front porch I found a small poinsettia on our door-mat, wrapped in gold tissue and tied with a red ribbon. In meticulous printing our last name was written on a tag in unfamiliar handwriting. Opening the tag made of silken, creamy white paper, I searched for the giver’s name and only found the words, ‘On the first day of Christmas the McGlotherns received one poinsettia…’   Who could this be from?

The next morning, a bit earlier, as I opened the door to collect the newspaper sitting right next to The Seattle Times sat a beautiful gift bag bearing two delicately wrapped hand-dipped, off-white candles. I placed them in silver candlesticks next to the poinsettia in our front window.  The same precise manuscript indicated the gift was indeed for us with the message, ‘On the second day of Christmas the McGlotherns received two glittering candles…’   Were the three dots a sign? An indication of a promise?  Perhaps more to come? I ran to the calendar and counted.  Ten more days until Christmas. The twenty-fifth would be the “twelfth day.”   Not knowing any history about a “twelve days of Christmas” tradition, I was curious.  Is this a celebrated tradition I don’t know anything about, similar to the “Secret Santa” tradition some celebrate in the workplace?   On the third day of Christmas “three tinkling bells” waited on our doorstep.  Hanging them from the tree, in the front window, I wondered who could be doing this. I never heard a car, voices or footsteps. 

Our four-year-old daughter, started coming into our room every morning with the question, “Have you checked the front porch yet, mama?”  I was trying really hard to curb my enthusiasm and wait until she could be the one to check the door. If I woke first I would avoid the front room and busy myself with undone dishes, cleaning fingerprints off the refrigerator, anything to keep myself from going to the front door and turning the knob.   Each morning continued to greet us with beautifully wrapped surprises; candy canes, homemade molasses cookies, walnuts the size of small apples, Satsumas as sweet as summer, and chocolates that were too irresistible to stop at just one.  On the fifth day of Christmas we opened a box with a photograph glued to the lid.  The picture made me stop and look closely.  It was a picture of a handprint in the snow, a child’s handprint, with the five digits perfectly imprinted into the white, glistening snow. Inside were five homemade snowflake ornaments hanging from delicate pink thread.  I knew the giver was creative, thoughtful and most of all believed in Christmas.

Soon my friends and family all knew about it and would brain storm with me to decipher who these thoughtful surprises were from.  My neighbor even volunteered to stalk my front porch every morning. Although I was mostly content not knowing the giver, I was still curious.

Through all of this excitement, I forgot I didn’t believe in Santa. I forgot I hated Christmas.  Each day was offering me a new joy besides a surprise gift at the front door.  I discovered the great delight of baking sugar cookies with our four-year-old daughter. In years past, the baking was a chore.    Christmas shopping wasn’t a burden, our list was short and family received homemade gifts.  Our friends received a Christmas card with a handwritten message.  Even the cold, grey weather was comforting.  I didn’t long for the colors of springtime; instead I found solace from the dark sky and consolation from the light of a simple white candle. I never once turned on the television, so I wasn’t aware of the Christmas sales, hot items of the season or the temptations of the last minute shopper.  Evenings were spent reading Christmas books, listening to the Nutcracker, playing games and coloring.  I taught our children about my childhood traditions of putting evergreen on the fireplace mantel, straw in the manger and hanging mistletoe in doorways.  My husband strung lights, hung wreaths, and helped our children hang their stockings. He helped our daughter write her letter to Santa. I saw how Santa could be brought into the season without being the main focus and without corrupting my mood or Christmas spirit.  We talked about Jesus’ birth, buying a goat through the Heifer Project, making gifts for family and what color of sprinkles our friends would like on their cookies.  All our daughter wanted for Christmas was a pants belt and for her brother to have his own doll.  Santa’s job would be simple. 

By the tenth day of Christmas, the day we received ten walnuts and a silver nutcracker, all of our friends and family knew about our morning doorstep surprises and wished they had done something like this. They all responded with passionate wonder.  I want to do that, they all echoed.  Without these exact words their responses were saying: I want to reach out, I want to give, I want to believe and share in the spirit of the season.

On Christmas Eve, I went to bed listening for sleigh bells believing that if I was supposed to find out who was behind the mystery I would.  At five in the morning our son, hollered out in his sleep.  His cries woke me and although he fell back to sleep easily, I lay in the dark, tossing and turning.  Like many children around the world that morning I hopped out of bed, unable to keep still.  I went into the living room and turned on the tree lights, lit the off-white candles in the window and sat down with a cup of hot tea and my journal.  The tea went cold before I had a sip and my journal remained unopened.  I went back and forth to the window, peering out into the dark morning, I kept opening the front door.  I even stood on a chair to peer out the window at the top of the door.  Nothing.  I wrote a note to the mystery elves, telling them that if I never found out who they were I wanted them to know they changed my Christmases forever.  At eight o’ clock, when my family was awake pulling a pants belt and baby doll out of their stockings I checked the door one more time.  Empty except for my note.  Did they forget?

Forty-five minutes later, with Christmas wrapping strewn around the room our coffee mugs empty, I heard singing outside.  “Honey”, my husband said gently,  “You are going to want to answer the door.”  The caroling was coming from our front porch.  Opening the door, I was surprised to see my new friend Erika, her husband and their three sleepy daughters. I collapsed into Erika’s arms, “I’m so glad it’s you.  I never even thought of you being the ones, “I wept softly.    We wiped each other’s tears of joy.  “You helped me to believe in Christmas again,” I whispered.

That morning and now, Santa for me is just another way to bring giving into the Christmas season.  Not getting, but giving.  We can teach our children the beauty of simplicity by example.  The following Christmas, we did the same for an un-expecting family a few blocks away.  And the smiles on their faces told me I was helping to carry on a tradition that was drenched in love and sprinkled with the true spirit of the season.

Jenny Gwinn McGlothern is a Certified Transformational Life Coach, Retreat Leader and Writer. You can find her on FaceBook, http://www.FaceBook.com/MamaNeedsARefill or visit her website: http://www.mamaneedsarefill.com

 

Monday’s Random Thought: Preparation December 2, 2013

Filed under: From The Heart — heartwriter @ 6:05 pm
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Yesterday was the first day of Advent, the four weeks before Christmas. In the Catholic tradition I was raised in, it is the time we prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus.

In our house, the four of us are practicing working, living, loving and being a family of four. We get lots of practice. We stumble, we get back up, we hurt each other, we forgive, starting all over. In a sense we are preparing to be the best family we can be, the highest version of ourselves. The prep time could probably go on forever.

For the last couple of years we have used Advent as a time to practice kindness to each other. We draw a name out of a hat and that is the person in our little family of four that we are especially kind to for these four weeks. One could say we should be kind to everyone, every day, but sometimes a focused agenda helps. I drew my son’s name. No surprise to me. He is the one I have the hardest being patient to and showing consistent kindness. He is my mirror. I also have a challenging time being kind to myself.

This preparation time, regardless of how I feel about Jesus being born in a stable is about opening my heart up to receive. Receive the gifts of abundance so that I can continue to work, live, love, be and give back to my little family of four. For it all starts with my family. If I can’t love them deep enough to prepare my heart for them, every day, not just during the four weeks before Christmas, then I am not able to share my heart with the rest of the world. Then I am left holding a shattered mirror.

Jenny Gwinn McGlothern is a Certified Transformational Life Coach, Retreat Leader and Writer. You can find her on FaceBook, http://www.FaceBook.com/MamaNeedsARefill or visit her website: http://www.mamaneedsarefill.com