WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND

“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”
Wayne Dyer

We’ve all heard the popular wise sayings, you reap what you sow and what goes around, comes around. Growing up my mother was a bit more frank with me. She’d say things like, “You better be careful what you say and do because it might come back to bite you in the ass.” This was just her way of saying you get back whatever you put out thands-1150073__340here in the universe.

But how true is this? Today, I went to my local Shoprite to do my weekly food shopping.  Rain fell in the damp air outside as I shopped.  As many of you know, I had surgery on my right Achilles tendon in April 2016.  I’m still recovering and the pain seems to worsen whenever the weather is rainy.  Today was no different and, honestly, I could not wait to go home, take some Advil, and put my feet up.

As I was in the checkout line, the cashier was chatting with the boy who was bagging my groceries. She explained that after 13 years of marriage she was getting divorced.  I could clearly see how upset she was but didn’t say anything at first.  But then she went on to say that she had been both verbally and physically abused by her husband.  “Everyone told me I deserved better,” she said.  “My friends would tell me that I was a beautiful woman and shouldn’t take that from anyone.”

Sensing how upset she was, I couldn’t resist the urge to talk to her.   “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear what you were just saying,” I said.  “Yes, you are a beautiful woman and, no, you don’t deserve that.  No one deserves to be abused.”

I’m sure the other customers who were waiting in line were not happy with me at this point but I continued. I told this woman about a friend of mine who was in an unhappy marriage for a long time.  I went on to repeat to her what I had also told my friend, “It’s not over until you say it’s over.”

She nodded in agreement as a smile warmed her face. “You will find the happiness you so desperately want but you have to first let go of toxic relationships,” I added.  “When you let go of all the bad, you will make room for all the good.”

I’m proud of you, I told her. She looked at me seemingly stunned by my words and reached forward to take my hand.  “Thank you,” she told me.  “I really needed to hear that.  People don’t usually listen to me like that.  Thank you so much.”

I said goodbye and made my way out of the store. When I reached my car, the rain continued to fall and so did the pain in my leg.  I’m guessing I was limping a little more than usual.  Suddenly, a woman came up behind me.

“Here,” she told me, “let me help you.” I looked at her a bit dazed as she helped me put the rest of my bags in my trunk.  Then she quickly took my cart and walked it over to the holding station for me. “Thank you,” I said.  “That was very nice of you.”

I got in my car thinking of the kindness this woman just showed me. It made my day a little brighter despite the dreary weather and ache in my leg.

The Law of Attraction is one of 12 Universal Laws. The law basically states that like attracts like.  Our thoughts, words and actions give off energy which, in turn, attracts like energy. So, in other words, you will harvest whatever you plant in this world. If you want good, you have to do good.

Today, I witnessed the truth of this law. I helped a stranger and, in turn, a stranger helped me.  I begin and end this blog with one of my favorite quotes by Wayne Dyer, “Loving people live in a loving world.  Hostile people live in a hostile world.  Same world.”

True, same world. One world. The choice is ours.  Why wouldn’t anyone choose love?

BE WHO YOU ARE

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. Neil Gaiman

The Disney cable network decided to offer a free month of movies. Yesterday, my family and I opted to watch the Disney classic Aladdin.  In the 1992 film, a street urchin named Aladdin happens to meet a beautiful girl (Jasmine) who has run away from home.  The two become fast friends and fall in love.  But when Aladdin realizes that Jasmine is actually a princess in disguise he understands that he is not worthy of her.

3_wishes_by_kevomacWhen Aladdin later comes in contact with a magic lamp, he is told by a Genie that he has three wishes. Thinking it over, Aladdin’s first wish is to be made a prince so he can then marry Princess Jasmine. But in the end, Aladdin’s true identity is exposed.

The Genie then tells Aladdin that he has one final wish left and can be made a prince once again in order to marry the princess. But Aladdin decides to keep his promise and free the Genie with his third wish instead feeling that he cannot continue to pretend to be someone he’s not, not even for the love of his life.

This movie may be a Disney animated classic. But it’s not only legendary for the story.  More importantly, it’s legendary for its simple, yet timeless message.  Always be who you are. In the end, as in the movie, true love will prevail.

But if the message is simple why is it so hard for us to be true to ourselves? There are several reasons.  For starters, maybe you are in denial and really don’t know who you are and what you want. Maybe you are still trying to find yourself.

As in the case of Aladdin, most times we deny who we are in favor of acceptance. Think about it. How many times have you denied who you are, how many times have you buried your true feelings deep within in order to satisfy or please someone else?  How many times have you kept quiet for fear of being ridiculed?

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, said it perfectly when he noted, “Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive—the risk to be alive and express what we really are.”

We all crave acceptance. We all want to fit in.  But we shouldn’t have to lose ourselves in order to get there.  In a society that is constantly trying to make us something we’re not, it has become increasingly difficult to be true to ourselves.  For many, it’s a constant struggle.

Being who we are means having the courage to turn a deaf ear to what others expect of us and tuning into what we expect of ourselves. It means reaching within and being totally honest with ourselves.  It means not only being aware of but also listening to our deepest desires and being true to our own personal values.

By the end of the movie, Aladdin’s three wishes are granted by the Genie. They are:

  1. Make me a prince.
  2. Save my life and
  3. I wish for your freedom.

Likewise, I wish for your freedom. The freedom to just be you.

Call a Christmas Truce

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”

Joyce Meyer

World War I was one of the most brutal wars ever fought.  Beginning on July 28, 1914 and ending on November 11, 1918, the war claimed more than 9 million lives and wounded another 21 million.  Soldiers for the most part fought the war in trenches and the area in between both sides was known as no-man’s land.

During the weeks leading up to Christmas in 1914, German and British troops began shouting Christmas greetings at one another.  By the time Christmas Eve came, solders on both sides began singing Christmas carols and soon staged an unofficial truce as many met face to face.  Some German and British soldiers exchanged gifts while others played football.  Roughly 100,000 soldiers were involved in the truce along the Western Front. In some areas, the truce lasted until Christmas Day but in others it reportedly lasted until New Year’s Day.

The following year, commanders on both sides forbade collaboration as many continued to fight a war they did not want to fight.  Over the years, this legendary ceasefire has become known as the Christmas Truce. Historians have noted that it was the close proximity of the trenches that made the truce possible as both sought peace during the holiday season.

Many suffered from shell shock and post-traumatic stress due to all the horrific traumas brought on by the war.  Today, 102 years later, we are luckily not in the midst of a world war.  But for many the holidays are a time of heightened stress and anxiety.  For some the holidays are a reminder of all we have to be grateful for but for others it is a reminder of what is missing in their lives.  Still others fall somewhere in between.

2016ericaandliabemerry

My daughters, Erica (left) and Lia Varga

Regardless of where you may fall or how you feel about the holiday season, I’d like to propose a Christmas truce.  In 1914, soldiers decided to let go of grudges and all the pain of a senseless war and instead focus on brotherhood and the spirit of Christmas.

Let’s face it we’ve all been hurt.  We’ve all been wronged in one way or another by the people who mean the most to us.  But this Christmas, give yourself the gift of forgiveness and let go of all the grudges.  Call a Christmas truce.  This is not always easy, I know.  But what most people don’t realize is that forgiveness helps the forgiver more than the wrongdoer.  It doesn’t mean that you are saying what they did is OK.  It doesn’t mean that you are condoning the act.  It means that you will no longer give the wrongdoer control.  Rather than focus on the negative and be miserable, you choose to instead let go and focus on the positives in your life.  Here are some tips on how to do just that:

  1. BE HONEST.  You can’t let go of ill feelings if you are in denial.  Be honest and recognize what you are feeling.
  2. MAKE A “POSITIVE THOUGHTS” LIST.  Write down some of the things you have to grateful for in your life.  No matter what is going and no matter how bad things may seem, you can always find something to be grateful for.
  3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU HAPPY.  Spend time with the family and friends who bring out the best in you.  If you have no choice (such as family gatherings) and have to be in the company of negative people or those that I call “soul suckers,” try to limit the time you spend with them.
  4. ACCEPT THAT WHICH YOU CANNOT CHANGE. Accept what is and let go of what isn’t.  In other words, don’t dwell on the negatives and the things that can never be.
  5. LOVE YOURSELF.  You can never find peace and happiness until you love and accept yourself.  In my book, Make Up Your Mind to Be Happy, best-selling author and happiness expert, Debbie Gisonni, explains, “If you accept and love yourself, you’ll naturally be at peace inside. Peace enables you to respect others beliefs, even when they’re different than your own, or walk away from arguments.    Next time you’re around that one relative that always pushes your buttons, don’t argue with them, don’t disagree…just let them be.

Just yesterday I went to the mall and came across a sign that read “Be happy.  It makes the haters miserable.”  It brought a smile to my face as I thought about the unfortunate truth to those words.  Honestly, though, the only person who can make you happy is you.  Likewise, the only person who can make you unhappy is you.

It makes no difference what is going on around you and all the difference what is going on inside you.  What you focus on—both good and bad—expands.  So this holiday season, call a truce.  Focus on the positives, let go of the negatives and be merry.

Wishing you all a joyous holiday season!

The Good, The Bad, and The Compassionate

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

It’s a pretty scary world we live in these days.  This month alone we’ve seen attacks on police officers in the United States.  We’ve seen unspeakable acts of terror in Germany, France and Turkey.  This week a priest had his throat slit by terrorists at a church in France.  And the other day in Japan a man wielding a knife killed and injured several disabled individuals because he felt they were not fit to serve in society.

We live in a world with both bad and good.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Every sweet has its sour; every evil its good.”  But when we are overwhelmed with all the bad, it’s hard to see the good.  It’s hard but more necessary than ever before for all of us to remember that despite all the terror in this world, there will always be more good than evil.  Evil will never prevail because good will always be stronger.

I once read an interesting post which said evil and suffering is actually a necessary part of God’s design.  The writer’s point was if everything was perfect in this world, we would not learn the true meaning of such virtues as forgiveness, courage, kindness, justice, mercy, remorse, generosity and self-sacrifice.

True.  But I would add one other thing to the list and that is compassion.  I’ve read many differing definitions for compassion.  Some state that it literally means “to suffer together” while others claim it means the ability to understand the emotional state of another person and having sympathy for the misfortunes of others.  All are correct.  However, the most important part of compassion in my opinion is that it involves the willingness or desire to help others and alleviate their suffering in any way possible.

I was born with a disability known as cerebral palsy.  On April 12 of this year, I underwent surgery to my right foot and Achilles tendon area.  For several months, my leg had become increasingly spastic and painful.  I was told that my Achilles tendon had begun to fray pretty much like an old rope and I was also shown that I had a huge bone growth.

Removing the bone growth would require extensive surgery and a serious recovery so instead I found a doctor who is known for a procedure he pioneered known as SPML (Selective Percutaneous Myofascial Lengthening).  In addition to lengthening my tendon, several holes were drilled into my bone growth in order to increase blood flow to the area.

procarephotoTruthfully, I was not prepared for the extent of my recovery.  I am now suffering from nerve damage and cannot feel part of my foot and leg.  Hopefully, the feeling will come back sooner than later. I am currently going for physical therapy and have pretty much had to learn how to walk again.  According to my physical therapist, a wonderful-caring man named Dean, my muscles are not working properly so I have to pay attention to every step I take so that my brain makes the connection.  I can hear his voice now, “Heel, step, back…heel, step, back.”  Has it been tough?  Yes, absolutely.  But one of the things that has truly helped me through this ordeal is the compassion I’ve been shown not only by my family and friends but also by complete strangers.

Complete strangers have let me lean on them as I walked through parking lots to my car or have offered to put my bags in the car for me at the supermarket.  Friends have left food and goodies at my door anonymously and have sent flowers and cards to brighten my day.

There was one older woman that I remember most of all.  For some reason, walking on the hard floors at my local Shoprite would cause me a lot of pain and with that pain came more limping than usual.  On this particular day, I could barely make it out of the store.  I only had a handful of items to buy so I didn’t bother getting a shopping cart.  This was a mistake as I didn’t have anything to lean on.

As I made my way slowly out of the store, a woman came up to me and asked if I was OK.  “You look like you’re in pain,” she told me.  To this, I replied that I had recently had surgery on my leg and would be fine.

“Oh,” she replied, I can see the pain on your face.”  Then she reached forward and took the two bags from arms.  At first I tried to refuse her help but she was insistent.  So finally, I smiled gratefully and led this beautiful soul to my truck.

When we reached my vehicle, she put my two bags in the back and reached forward to give me a much-needed hug.  I was all teary-eyed as I thanked her for her kindness.  “God bless you,” she told me.  “We all have crosses to bear but everything will be alright.”

I stood there as she walked away shocked by her words and her compassion. As I got in the truck, the tears flowed.  Unbeknownst to her, I had been feeling so sorry for myself and her words and encouragement gave me a much-needed boost.

Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t even ask for her name.  But what I do know is that her compassion will forever stay with me.  Her kindheartedness will forever remind me that despite the immoral things that may be happening in this world, the good will always outnumber the bad.  It is this good that we all need to focus on.  As the Bible states, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 ESV)

Your Memories Can Be Your Cure

“One of the best ways to make yourself happy in the present is to recall happy times from the past.”

~Gretchen Rubin

By: Emily Sorrentino, Guest Blogger

memorieshappinessWhen we are young, our minds are a blank canvas. We hold the paint brushes, and the paint. We have the opportunity and the power to create whatever we want. We add color to our own lives. As we grow and as we discover our worlds, the picture grows and it changes us. The beautiful thing is the memories that form as a result of what we experience.

Memories are the most powerful product of our incredible minds. They have the ability to change how we act, how we feel, and who we are. Psychology has proven that mood and memory go hand-­in-­hand. Experiencing good moods and forming happy memories will work together to keep you happy in the long run.

This can happen in two ways. The first is known as state­-dependent memory. This is a method of memory retrieval in which we are more likely to recall a certain memory when it involves the specific mood that we feel at the time. In other words, we will likely remember something happy from the past when we are happy in the present.

The other way this can happen is called mood-­congruent memory. It is a similar concept that states when we recall happy memories, we will, as a result, replicate those happy feelings experienced in the memory. This is an even more efficient way to lift your spirits if you feel upset, angry, or weary.

So, how can this information help someone? If you are diagnosed with depression, or if you are experiencing a mild case of a depressive disorder, one recommended method of treatment is going to be therapy. In this type of therapy, it is likely that your therapist will take you through exercises including recalling happy memories. This is one way that they will try to help you conjure a happy feeling in the hopes that it will stick and help with recovery.

This can cause a chain effect. If happiness is present, then more positive memories are likely to come flooding back. In some cases, this, often along with medication, can lead a patient to full recovery.

So, if these simple methods can be used to soothe depression, why should it not be used to prevent it? I understand hopelessness, and I know it can make you feel weak and powerless, but we should all know that happiness is a state of mind. Happiness should never be a destination that we try to reach. We should never believe that we need to base our happiness on how much we achieve. We can’t go through life only being happy when we’ve reached socially predetermined goals, like getting married or having kids. Happiness is a state of being. We can be happy at any moment of any day. It’s up to us to make it happen.

If all it takes to brighten our day is a good memory of a happy feeling, I think it’s extremely important to make sure we have those memories in our minds. I’m 18 years old, and I realize now more than ever that this one life that we are given is meant to be lived. I’m actively trying to take every opportunity I can to get out and live life to the fullest. I want to remember all of the important moments. When I wake up at the beach and smell the fresh, salty air, when I drive around town with friends with the windows open and the breeze in our hair, and when I am surrounded by my entire class dressed in blue graduation robes and I realize this is the last step. I am coming up on my last week of high school, but I won’t be sad because I have everything I need to remember. I am prepared to leave and not look back, but I know that I will look back some day. At least I know I can be happy about it.

So, simply live your life. Make memories that you will want to look back on and remember that those memories are your keys to happiness. They will take you far, if you let them. And when you don’t feel as good, they will be your cure.

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.

 

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.