You Are Your Passion

EmilyRecently, I was asked to participate in a mentorship program for graduating seniors at a local high school.  The program would allow me to mentor an intern for a period of five weeks.  When I agreed, I must admit I did not expect to work with someone so passionate and wise beyond her 18 years. 

 

Emily Sorrentino will be attending the College of New Jersey in the fall, majoring in English and Journalism.  I am an honored to have the privilege of working with this amazing young woman and am extremely grateful for her help.  She will be my guest blogger on this site over the next four weeks.  I hope you all enjoy her wisdom as much as I do.   

“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.

Thomas Foxwell Buxton

When I was eight, most girls my age either danced or played a skilled sport. Being without passion for any particular activity, I was in search of a new hobby. Sure, I had danced, but I was never really good and I didn’t feel like my world would end if I gave it up. So, after I inevitably quit, I set off to find something new. I was never like every other girl I knew, so I wanted something unlike what every other girl I knew did. Time and again, my mind landed on karate. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to give it a try. There was a local dojo that seemed credible and fairly priced. I begged my mom for weeks to let me give it a try. I can still remember her making a deal with me. She would say “I’ll let you try it, but you can’t quit. You have to stick with it”. And that was ten years ago.

Yes, it has been ten entire years since I started studying Isshinryu karate. It turned out to be a completely different experience than I anticipated. I expected the stereotypical showy art of jumping really high and kicking boards. I figured I would be taught by a chiseled, burly creature of a man whose muscles looked like over­inflated balloons.

karateemilyBut I remember my first class quite clearly, and I remember meeting my teacher for the first time. I remember the warm greeting and smile that I received when I walked in the door. I remember being clueless but feeling secure and welcomed. My teacher, despite having a full class of kids, guided me through the early learning process and helped me to feel comfortable in a room full of strangers. I didn’t realize it then, but it would be that safe and caring environment he created that would encourage me to dedicate my time and energy to improve and work hard at everything I did.

Most people think that karate, and martial arts in general, is about beating people up and breaking wooden boards and flashy kicks. Well, I’ll admit that I can break boards and I could hold my own in a physical fight, but that’s not what’s important. While my technique has improved over the years, so has my ability to retain information and think critically and ask intelligent questions. I know more about how the body works and the history of karate than I ever thought I would. Karate is about stamina and subtlety. I could be flashy if I wanted to, but I know better. I know that crazy punches and kicks look cool, but they are not as effective. I know that the body works in a certain way and, if I wanted to, I could manipulate it to my advantage. There was a sign hanging by the door of the dojo when I first started. It said “this dojo instills self-­confidence, self­-control, and self- discipline all while learning self-defense.” (A dojo is a place where one studies karate).  I’ll always remember that because sure, I can defend myself, but it is the other three traits that I see in myself every day. They help me be the kind of person I like to be.

Today, my teacher and I have a great relationship and I have been deeply involved in helping and learning at my dojo. I met some of my best friends in my ten years there, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have to go to college and say goodbye for a while. Luckily, I will always carry with me the confidence, strength, and intuition that studying karate has given me. Everything I’ve learned is not just important while I’m at karate; it is applicable in every aspect of my life. I am a better student, teacher, friend, and overall person because of my experiences at my dojo. I can even say that my years at karate got me into my dream college. I wrote my essay about karate, it was an important part of my resume, and my teacher wrote a personal and positive letter of recommendation. To simply say that karate is a big part of my life would be a colossal understatement. I see traits in myself that I love, that others around me don’t have, and I feel grateful for the choices I’ve made. I wish everyone could feel about themselves the way I feel about myself.

That’s not to say that everyone out there should get up and join karate. I got lucky; I found a one ­in­-a-­million dojo. I was in a very special environment and, unless everyone plans to move to Madison, New Jersey to take some karate classes, I don’t think anyone could replicate my karate experience. That’s not the point I’m promoting. I hope that everyone can someday find their “karate”. Everyone deserves to have something that they will always remember and that brings them to life­long friends and that changes them for the better. Though it could be found just by chance, like it did with me, I encourage everyone to go out and look for it. Explore your options and explore the world until you find your passion. Once you find it, if you’re that lucky, let it change you. Work hard and commit to loving whatever it is you do. Commit to loving yourself, and then, you will find, life gets easier.  Because in finding your passion, you’ll find you!

 

 

 

WHY HAVEN’T I RECEIVED A SIGN?

“They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it.  Death cannot kill what never dies.”  William Penn

VisitsHeaven-HROur loved ones are very eager to let us know that they are around after they pass. People always ask me why they haven’t received any signs. But, truthfully, it’s more likely than not that you are receiving visits from heaven or signs and just not noticing them.

Very often, the signs are so subtle that they are overlooked. Oftentimes we are so immersed in grief that we shrug things off as mere coincidence. Let’s be honest, not all signs or dreams are visits from heaven. But if you are not open and alert, you’ll miss them when they really do occur.

So the number one rule is to make sure you pay attention. For example, you hear your loved one’s name three times in one day. You see her name on signs, etc. If you are not paying attention, you may not even notice. Keep a record of anything unusual that happens. Have you been noticing more coins around the house? Have you been smelling a familiar scent?

And if you’re in doubt of whether or not something was a sign, ask your loved one to send you another sign. Talk to them. Ask them.

Also, pay attention to the thoughts that seem to just pop into your head. Since those on the Other Side are in spirit, they communicate telepathically (mind to mind).

Our loved ones are very much aware of what is going on in our lives. They are still with us and want us to know they are around. Often you may just have a feeling that someone is with you. It’s similar to walking down the street and getting that feeling that someone is following you.

Again, our loved ones are very eager to let us know they are around. But if we are immersed in grief and negative emotions, it is often harder for their messages to come through to us.

Try focusing on a positive memory before you go to sleep, for example. Then ask your loved one to come to you in your dreams. In fact, dreams are one of the most common ways that our loved ones come through to us.

My book, Visits from Heaven, is packed with numerous examples of these signs. In fact, every story is backed up by some sort of proof. So try not to doubt what you already know in your heart. Love never dies.

For more information, please visit http://www.josievarga.com.

 

No More Pain

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” Ronald Reagan

josielegbrace

Me and my dad.

I was born with Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy (SDCP). Basically, this means normal muscle tension is disrupted due to problems with brain-to-nerve communication. This leads to blockage of effective muscle movement and causes muscles to become spastic and tense. Cases of Cerebral Palsy are mild to severe. I am fortunate in that my case is mild.

Having a mild case does not come without pain, however. Over the past several months I have been experiencing extreme pain and stiffness in my right foot and Achilles tendon area. One doctor after another seemed to have no answers for me. After taking anti-inflammatory medicine and and wearing a corrective boot for almost three months, one doctor asked how I was doing. When I responded that I did not feel any improvement whatsoever, his response was, “Well, this is very difficult to treat.”  He then told me to continue taking  the same medicine and wearing the same boot.

Needless to say, I realized that he had no idea how to help me and went elsewhere. Fortunately, I visited with an orthopedic surgeon this week who specializes in Cerebral Palsy named Roy Nuzzo in Summit, New Jersey. Dr. Nuzzo will be performing two surgical procedures on April 12. One is a procedure he pioneered known as SPML (Selective Percutaneous Myofascial Lengthening) which is a non-traditional, minimally invasive procedure used to lengthen and release the affected tendon. He will also perform an additional surgical procedure to increase blood flow to the area to help treat my calcific tendonitis.  Of course, I am not happy about having to have surgery but I am happy to finally find someone who can help me.

This week, while having dinner with my two daughters, the pain in my leg was making it difficult for me to even stand up. My daughter Lia noticed my distress and helped me to a chair in the kitchen. “Mom,” she told me, “I wish I could take your pain and divide it among everyone else in the world.” I looked at her quizzically.

“Why would you do that?” I asked.

“Because,” she cleverly told me, “if everyone in the world takes a little bit eventually there will be no more pain.” Tears formed in my eyes as I reached over to hug her. I am so proud of Lia; she is wise beyond her 14 years.

Her words reminded me of the first universal law . . . the law of divine oneness. Everythingoneness in the universe, though perceived to be separate, is connected. And everything comes from the same source. Whether you call that source God, Jehovah or Allah doesn’t matter.

Since we are all part of this universal consciousness, everything we do, say or think will affect everyone else. Like attracts like.

My daughter Lia is correct when she claims if everyone could just take a little bit of pain there would eventually be no more pain. If we could all just do a little to make the world a better place, we would do more good than we could ever imagine. As Ronald Reagan once said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”

Our actions, both good and bad, create a ripple effect. Every act of kindness for example, no matter how small, helps someone else. Think of it this way, kindness and goodwill increase tenfold when shared.

THE HEART. . . THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE

“None of us can hold someone we love in our arms forever but the one thing we can do is hold them in our hearts.”

safestplacetobeLast week, I was asked to help a woman who just recently lost her son.  Admittedly, requests like these are the hardest part about what I do.  The truth is while I strive to help the bereaved find comfort in the knowledge that love truly doesn’t die, I can’t bring their loved ones back physically.

People ask me all the time if dealing with the loss of a loved one is easier for me now that I know there is life after death.  It’s definitely easier but it’s in no way easy.  When I lose a loved one I find comfort in knowing that life does go on and that I will see my loved ones again but at the same time I miss the physical contact.

The other day I came across a quote that has really stayed with me, “It hurts when you love someone in your heart but can’t have them in your arms.”  I got to thinking this may be true but isn’t the heart the safest place to be?  None of us can hold someone we love in our arms forever but the one thing we can do is hold them in our hearts.

No matter what happens, death cannot take that love away.  No one can.  That love is always there.  It transcends death.

That being said nothing can prepare us for the death of a loved one.  Grief is very personal and individual.  In other ways, it’s our own.  There’s no right or wrong way.  There are no right words.  There are no proven healing methods.  We all grieve in our own way.  What works for some does not work for others.

The word bereaved literally means to be torn apart.  So the way we eventually put the pieces together is our choice.  The one thing that does make a difference is time.  Not to say that the pain is not still there but it certainly helps to have time to reflect and get passed all those “firsts.”  For example, the first birthday without them, the first Christmas, etc.

On Grief and Grieving, a book by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, describes the five stages of grief.  They are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.  It’s important to note, however, that not everyone goes through all of them, nor do they necessarily occur in this order.  As I said, grief is a deeply personal and singular experience.

No one can tell you how you should feel, how to get over it or how long it should take.  The only person who can understand and deal with the emotions you are going through is you.

According to Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD, grief is the internal expression of loss whereas mourning is external. In other words, grief is how you deal with it on your own while mourning is what you do in public.

There are no easy steps in dealing with grief; no magic tips.  But I would like to mention two things.  First, don’t hold in the grief; let it out. Be honest with yourself about what you are feeling and find ways to express them.  For example, talk to a family member or friend.  Or if you don’t want to talk about it publically, write how you are feeling in a journal.

I once wrote back to one of my readers suggesting that she write a letter to her deceased husband.  She did and wrote me sometime later explaining how therapeutic it actually was for her. Many of the bereaved feel like they never got to say goodbye or say one last I love you.  Well, you still can.  Write a letter.  Talk to your loved one.  I know I have said this a zillion times in this blog and elsewhere but our loved ones are very much aware of what is going on in our lives and they can still hear us.  They are still there spiritually.

Second, find ways to keep their memory alive.  My friend Nancy bought herself yellow roses on her wedding anniversary, for example, because this was something her deceased husband always did.  When you do little things to keep their memory alive, you will be forever reminded that their love has never left you.

Getting back to the quote I mentioned earlier, “It hurts when you love someone in your heart but can’t have them in your arms.”  Yes, it certainly does but when they are in your heart, no one can ever take them away from you.  No matter where you go and no matter what happens in life, in your heart they will remain.

 

Appreciate the Value of a Moment

“Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

-Dr. Seuss

Don’t you just wish you could know the importance of a moment exactly when it happens and not when it’s too late?  But let’s be honest most of us don’t realize the significance of a moment until its gone or even grasp how much someone means to us until we don’t have them anymore.  And sometimes this can’t be helped.

The last time I spoke to my friend Ray he told me he wanted to get together for dinner.  One thing led to another and I was busy working and finishing my book, Divine Visits.  I figured there was no rush; we had plenty of time to do dinner.

Except that time never came because Ray died soon after from complications from a stroke.  As I think back, I wish I had taken the time to go out to dinner with Ray.  Obviously, if I had known Ray was going to die, I would have acted differently.  I would not have taken so much for granted.

But often times, it takes a funeral or a tragedy to stop us in our tracks and get us to cherish the value of a moment.  It takes losing a friendship before we truly understand how much joy that friend added to our lives.

drseuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Obviously, we can’t possibly know when the time we spend with someone is our last time.  But one thing we can do is make the most of every moment. How?  Well as Dr. Seuss once said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple.”

  1. Practice Gratitude:  Appreciate your blessings and share your thankfulness.
  2. Let everyone know how much they mean to you:  Tell them how you feel.
  3. Show Your Love:  Don’t just say I love you, SHOW IT. Everyone needs to feel loved.
  4. Be True to YOU!:  Don’t change who you are for anyone. Respect yourself enough to be true to yourself and be who you truly are.

Renowned children’s author and cartoonist Dr. Seuss published over 60 books.  Some of his most famous works include The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.  His first book, Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times before it was published in 1937 by Vanguard Press.

His catchy phrases, brilliant rhymes and visionary characters won the hearts of both children and adults alike.  My favorite quote by Dr. Seuss is “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”  Wise words by a very wise man.

Getting older is not all that bad.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate these small moments in life more and more.  Getting older has taught me priceless lessons that unfortunately only come with age.  It has introduced me to the person I truly am.

So looking back, although I’ve come to recognize the value of countless memories of years gone by,   I wish I had done so while they were still moments more often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unleash the Power of Intention in 2016

“In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent, and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link.”

Carlos Castaneda

intentionTomorrow millions of people will wake up with their usual New Year’s resolutions only to be looking at last year’s list and likely next year’s as well. Actually following thru on these promises to yourself is not about willpower or even drive. Rather it’s about the power of intention.

Less than 10 percent actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Most people give up in just a few short weeks and go back to their old ways. Why is that? Everything that we do is shaped by our intentions, not our actions. In other words, it’s not about what we do but the force or desire behind our actions. Our intentions not only shape who we are but also create our destiny.

Thousands of years ago, the sages of India noted that our destiny is ultimately shaped by our intentions. The classic Vedic text known as the Upanishads states, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

Merriam-Webster defines an intention as “the thing that you plan to do or achieve: an aim or purpose.” It is this aim or this attitude that guides our actions. I can remember when my husband John and I were dating a year, my Dad demanded to know what John’s intentions were. Did he plan to marry me or was he just “fooling around” as my father put it.

The power of intention is different than the law of attraction. In an interview with Successful Living, the late Wayne Dyer described it this way, “The law of attraction is this: You don’t attract what you want. You attract what you are.

“Most people’s mistake in trying to apply the law of attraction is they want things; they demand things. But God doesn’t work that way,” he said. “It’s all about allowing.”

There are three easy steps to unleashing your intentions for 2016:

  1. Release: Release your intentions and thoughts out into the Universe.
  2. Detach: Let go and detach yourself from those intentions. In other words, don’t constantly think and worry about the outcome. Allow your destiny to take shape.
  3. Trust: Trust in the power of your intentions. Without trust, relationships and friendships end. And without trust, our intentions are fruitless.

Light travels at a rate of 186,000 miles per second. Although impressive, thoughts practically travel instantaneously. These thoughts precede every action. And our intentions or desires precede every thought. As I’ve said many times, these thoughts create our reality. Once released, these thoughts become waves of energy which then become part of a never-ending force which shapes our destiny.

Deepak Chopra once said, “Intention is the starting point of every dream. It is the creative power that fulfills all of our needs, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening or love.”

When you mean to do something, you release your intention. Where there is no intention there is no fulfillment.

Failing does not mean being a failure. You are a failure only if you choose to be one. There are lessons to be learned regardless of the outcome. So don’t let fear stop your intentions.

Energy flows where our intention goes. Release. Detach. Trust.

 

The Miracle on Market Street

“For we walk by faith, not by sight…” II Corinthians 5:7/KJV

pope_3bfa667b27bc658015031b8542dc81c6.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000 (1)

Joey and Kristen Masciantonio are devout Catholics.  But they were losing faith.  Their 15-month old daughter Gianna suffers from juvenile xanthogranuloma, a rare but serious blood disorder. Gianna had suffered through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments during her young life.  So much so that doctors from the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital told her parents she would likely not survive any more of them.  And because the brain tumor has not been shrinking, they should just enjoy their final months with their baby daughter.

They were sitting at home one Saturday morning when their friend, Donny, who happened to be an FBI agent assigned to security detail for Pope Francis’ Philly visit, called and told them to hurry downtown, as he was fortunate enough to get them passes to see the Pope up close.

Joey initially resisted, thinking that with Gianna’s weakened immune system, bringing her into a large crowd was probably not a good idea.  His wife, however, persisted and they finally agreed to go.

When the Pope’s motorcade was nearing, Joey held his baby high above his head, so that Donny their FBI friend, could spot them, and signal to the head of security, who swiftly took Gianna from Joey and brought her to the Pope, who leaned forward and kissed her on the head and granted her his blessing.

“We believe it was definitely a divine moment,” they said.

Six weeks later, Gianna’s latest  MRI results came back and showed the the tumor had significantly and inexplicably  shrunk to where it was “virtually invisible” and the doctors are now saying she will likely survive.

The Masciantonio family and their friends were calling it the “Miracle on Market Street”, referring to the downtown Philadelphia street where Pope Francis’ healing kiss took place.  Their faith now fully restored, they openly and loudly proclaim that God’s work saved their baby’s life.

Faith is a remarkable and amazing thing.  With it, nothing is impossible.

Recently, I attended mass at my parish.  It was the start of a new series called, “The Promise.”  Fr. Michael stood up before the congregation and immediately had my attention as he told us, “A little faith goes a long way but you must trust.”  We’ve all heard it before, empty promises, empty words.

I swear.

Believe me.

Trust me.

I promise you.

I will.

We’ve all been broken by broken promises.  I promise is such a heavy word but far too often it’s taken too lightly.  People say it without giving it any thought.  We’ve all heard them and, quite frankly, we’ve all done it.  I’ll be there for you.  Just call me.  You can trust me. I care about you.  I love you.  How many times has a friend promised to call or promised to get together but never followed through. These are what I call fleeting promises. They are short lived and have little substance or weight.  They are frequently made but infrequently kept.

These promises may be taken lightly but they often have heavy consequences.  Broken promises lead to broken relationships.  Our level of trust in any relationship is based on our experiences with the other person. These experiences build our level of trust.

As I sat there in church, Fr. Michael’s words seemed to fill every crevice of my heart.  I recognized myself, my life in his words.  The truth is like everyone else, I’ve been hurt.  I’ve been let down.  I’ve felt the brunt of empty, broken promises.  Lately, I’ve been having a hard time trusting again.  It was almost like Fr. Michael was speaking directly to me; everyone else in the church was seemingly nonexistent.

If it’s hard for us to trust the people in our lives, then how hard is it to trust in the unseen?  How hard is it to trust in God’s word and His countless promises in the Bible?

So many things, Fr. Michael noted, get in the way of trusting God.  So many things get in the way of taking God on his word. But he strongly reminded everyone that we must trust in the unseen.  Because life is much more than you can see with our eyes.  “Broken hearts become brand new,” said Fr. Michael.  “That’s what faith can do……God says, ‘I have.  I will and I can.’”

I got to thinking about everything Fr. Michael said.  So many things get in the way of trusting someone.  True, it is sometimes hard to have faith in God’s word.  But isn’t that true for any relationship?    True, it is hard for us to trust in the unseen.  But, honestly, to me God is not really unseen.  God is everywhere and in everything.  Below is a short story that explains this well; unfortunately the author is unknown.

A small boy once approached his slightly older sister with a question about God. “Susan, can anybody ever really see God?” he asked. Busy with other things, Susan curtly replied: “No, of course not silly. God is so far up in heaven that nobody can see Him.”

Time passed, but his question still lingered so he approached his mother: “Mum, can anybody ever really see God?”

“No, not really,” she gently said. “God is a spirit and He dwells in our hearts, but we can never really see Him.” Somewhat satisfied but still wondering, the youngster went on his way.

Not long afterwards, his saintly old grandfather took the little boy on a fishing trip. They were having a great time together—it had been an ideal day.

The sun was beginning to set with unusual splendor as the day ended. The old man stopped fishing and turned his full attention to the exquisite beauty unfolding before him. On seeing the face of his grandfather reflecting such deep peace and contentment as he gazed into the magnificent ever-changing sunset, the little boy thought for a moment and finally spoke hesitatingly,

“Grandad, I—I wasn’t going to ask anybody else, but I wonder if you can tell me the answer to something I’ve been wondering about a long time—can anybody—can anybody ever really see God?”

The old man did not even turn his head. A long moment slipped by before he finally answered.

“Grandson,” he quietly said. “It’s getting so I can’t see anything else.”

I love that story.  If you look long enough, much like the grandfather in this story, you will see God.

He was clearly present in baby Gianna’s miracle cure, but He is also present in the air that we breathe.  He is present in the roar of the incessant ocean and the beauty of the lone rose.  He is everywhere and in everything, especially the love that you feel within your heart.

 

This blog is dedicated to baby Gianna Masciantonio.  May God continue to bless her with his miracles.

 

 

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers