The Wednesday Word is: CHERISH

Fifteen years ago, when we were picking out wedding photos, I chose this unassuming, candid shot from our wedding reception to frame and give to my husband as a gift. When I gifted him this framed picture I wrote in the card: “I hope we always look at one another like this…”

A picture says so much – however, it is open to interpretation. No one, not even the DJ, or the photographer, would remember this picture was snapped while my new husband was trying to uncork our sparkling wine and was delicately struggling to remove the cork and not spray said wine all over himself or his bride. I looked into his eyes, and he into mine… both of us saying without words, “Please open safely…” What came of that funny, and somewhat stress-filled moment was this beautiful picture of two beautiful souls intertwined in gleeful joy, speaking without words to the depths of how cherished one is to the other.

Living in this moment each time I see this picture reminds me of how devoted we are to one another and how blessed I am to love someone and in return to be loved like that. Cherish those you hold dear. Life is too short to accept anything but…

The Wednesday Word is: BELONG

“She’s a loser and trash because she lived in a rundown house on the wrong side of the road…” – but I played with them anyway.

They said, “She’ll never move off that road…” – but I traveled far.

They said, “You will always be a statistic because you came from uneducated people.” – but I studied anyway.

They said, “She’s kinda weird and quiet, but seems like a good kid.” – but I harnessed my creativity, and focus, and used it to write, and paint, and help people.

They said, “She is a fool!” – but I chased my crazy dreams, regardless.

They said, “She is crazy, you know…” – and she proved them right.

They said, “You are academically rusty and at age 35 and would will likely never graduate college now.” – but I persevered and graduated with a 3.0 and received my BLS at age 40.

They said, “You’re not likely succeed…” – but I continued to learn what I didn’t know, continued to grow, and defined my own success.

They said, “What the heck is she up to now?” – and I said, “Stand back and watch!”

I have wanted to give up on myself so many times. I have overlooked success and believed I was never going to amount to anything. Then, one day, I changed the narrative.

That narrative did not come easily or without wallowing. From the earliest memories I can recall longing to be accepted. I never felt like I mattered or was wanted or appreciated or cared for. I started caring for myself more than others seemed to care about me, and it helped, for a while. Yet loneliness and rejection lay upon me like a heavy, wet blanket. Something was missing, besides self-esteem. A sense of family, community, companionship.

As a kid, I would wander and explore, to escape what was happening at home. Gary and Jane Bushers became my surrogate parents when I was about five years old. I adopted them. They didn’t know that, then. I would hang out at their house until I was forced to go home. Over the years I lingered longer, eventually wearing them down. I stayed at their house in high school probably more than my own. Their kids, my friends, became my brother and sisters, and are, to this day. I appreciate that love more than they may ever know. Gary and Jane gave me guidance, love, compassion and care. I needed it. I longed for it. And, to this day, love them immensely for it. It’s that love I cling to on days like today when I do not feel I matter much.

I just wanted to belong.

I still do.

The Wednesday Word is: Frog

Frogs? Nora, have you lost your mind? That’s unlike the words you usually give us. Frogs???

I said the same thing after meditation this morning. And like any good writer, I did research. I looked up information on frogs and learned quite a bit.

Frogs represent so much in spirituality. It is a symbol of making a leap between your hopes and reality. This makes so much sense as I begin to record my lectures here at home that I was supposed to give in Vegas in a few weeks. (Darn you, COVID…) My hope was to give these lectures in front of my colleagues in person and get that experience. Instead, I am giving these lectures in my hometown to a small, selective audience, for whom I am grateful, and recording it for the Vegas conference. It will be wonderful and I have done it this way numerous times, but my hope is not my reality. Next year… next year I hope to make that leap a reality.

Not frogs, but turtles, were an animal which I always felt a kindred spirit connection to. Maybe because my dad hunted turtles and I always wanted to go with him to rescue them and help them escape. I learned in my research this morning frogs, like turtles, are similar in symbolic in meaning. If either show up on your path, and turtles have been in my path for YEARS, it means it is time for you to speak up and be heard. That makes a lot of sense, since recently I stepped out of my comfort zone and accepted appointments to not one, but two local boards, in hope of making a difference and speaking for portions of the population which I feel is often overlooked and largely unheard. I’m listening, God. I’m as ready as I am going to be to do your work. You have been molding me for this purpose my whole life.

Also, when frogs show up on your path it is about doing self-work, learning how to jump across the distance into reality, leaving old baggage behind. I think God needs me to do more practice of what I preach. Again, I am listening. It’s appropriate the frog symbolism would appear today, as a good friend of mine is asking me to proof her new self-help journals, which makes me have to do the work to give her appropriate feedback. Writing has been speaking to me a lot and God has been making me aware my niche in my work and my writing. I’m excited to know this purpose so clearly.

I also learned the frog is like the bat, the BAT? I loathe the bat, but after today I will learn to let go of that feeling. Frogs and bats are animal signs of renewal. So, I guess I am coming into anew. Letting go of the past completely, letting go of disappointment, fear, resentment and just loving and living my life from today and for the rest of my life. I have no idea how long my life will last, but I can feel God preparing me these last few weeks for something. After getting the frog symbol this morning it is clear my work is not done yet.

God sent me the symbol in my meditation this morning because God knew I would look into it. God doesn’t always send us signs which makes sense. God wants us to do the work, to understand it is not always going to be easy, but in the end, absolutely worth it. Meditate today and see what unusual signs and symbols you get. It might be the very thing we would overlook is the thing we need to pay attention to.

The Wednesday Word is: MASK

There are a few four-letter words which entice such passion. I am certain you can think of one or two. Never, not in my lifetime, did I think MASK would or could be one such word. It’s become an expletive to some people. It’s the elephant in the room. The thing no one wants to have a real discussion about… wait, isn’t that most EVERYTHING anymore? We have become a nation pissed off about our constitutional rights on everything. Even things which are not covered by the constitution are somehow now bearing one’s constitutional rights. I must have missed that lesson on the right to wear or not wear a mask in Mr. Denos’s Ohio History class at Norwalk Middle School or in Mr. Allen’s Government class at Norwalk High School. Perhaps that Bill or amendment was passed after 1989-1990. Certainly, if it was in the state Constitution, Mr. Denos would have covered it, or in the U.S. Constitution, Mr. Allen would have covered it.

I think people mistake personal rights for Constitutional rights. What is right for you is not right for all. I practice meditation, daily. I know a lot of people who would rather have their toenails ripped off one by one than to sit still for 30 minutes of meditation. Yet, many of the same people ask me what am I doing as of late to be so “chill”… I choose to meditate. It works for me. It is a personal choice. However, my right to meditate is a Constitutional right, though I do not always call upon the Divine in meditation practice, freedom of religion is covered in that much referenced First Amendment. Many people, especially as of late, have assumed a variety of interpretations of the First Amendment to match their desires to fit their rights and freedoms as U.S. citizens. Still, wearing or not wearing a mask, verbatim, is not covered in the U.S. Constitution. You can interpret the law however you want, it doesn’t make it so. If I get a ticket for drunk and disorderly, can I use the Constitution to get out of my charges now?

“The officer has no grounds to arrest me, your honor. I was intoxicated, yes. However, it was my right and freedom of religion, to consume wine, as it is communion and since I cannot get to church, I take communion at home. And disorderly, I was celebrating the Holy spirit…” Don’t get any ideas. I doubt it will fly.

Sure, as a writer, I can interpret scenarios to fit my needs and make my points. However, this doesn’t make what I write true or lawful, just because I say it is. So many people have used these last four months to become well-educated in constitutional law. They have no problem educating everyone on how right they are and how wrong you are. I’ve yet to have one such scholar cite the area of the constitution that covers mask wearing.

No one is taking away your rights by telling you to wear a mask. Wearing a mask protects others in the event you could be a carrier of COVID-19. If you feel your rights are infringed having to wear a mask, imagine how someone might feel if you choose not to. Your right to not wear a mask is more important than my right to health. Actual rights and personal preferences/choices are NOT the same things.

Here is the other thing: before judging someone for wearing or not wearing a mask, how about doing one more thing? Mind your business. I am not obligated to tell you why I wear a mask no more than you are obligated to tell me why you don’t. Certain people are exempt from wearing masks. Certain people feel safer wearing them. It’s not your business. Some people feel they are as ineffective as the soccer ball wearing one in the picture above. Others feel they are quite effective. Statistics show when we obliged the efforts to keep spikes low, we succeeded. But we all know statistics, like the Constitution, are open for interpretation.

Bottom line, make smart choices for yourselves. You cannot predict how your choices will affect someone else. Mind your business and be safe. But also, be kind. I won’t judge you for not wearing a mask, don’t judge me for choosing to.

Be well. Be kind. Be you.

The Wednesday Word is…

Sometimes a word comes easily. Sometimes I have to meditate on it longer, rest within it and let it be. Sometimes I pick a word and hope something insightful happens. Today, nothing. Not the word nothing, no words came to me to meditate upon, no message…

I thought about complacency.

I thought about injustice.

I thought about inhumanity.

I thought about my family.

I thought Jesus himself is probably shaking his head at how our world hasn’t changed much.

Then, I thought about nothing.

Eventually, the thoughts wafted away.

Nothing. Not quiet. Not words. Not stillness. Not clarity or tranquility.

Just. Nothing. In a way only nothing can be.

Nothing I thought seemed significant, yet quite significant at the same time.

Nothing I felt seemed significant, yet significant at the same time.

Words are just words.

What matters is when the dust settles,

and you’re alone with it the nothingness,

and you accept the nothingness,

and it quiets the storm within and beyond, for the slightest of a moment…

and you know alone isn’t lonely.

Alone let’s you know you.

Alone let’s you be ok with how you feel, what you feel or let’s you do none of it, and that is ok, too.

Without thought.

Without feelings.

Without judgment.

Just being.

Nothing.

And, it’s not nothing and I am not a nothing.

But this…this is everything.

In. This. Moment. Now.

And, for now, that’s all I need.

Experience nothing today.

The Wednesday Word is: BIRTHDAY

This morning, during and after meditation class, I was thinking about my husband’s birthday this week. Despite still being under COVID restrictions, I managed to take him to lunch (our first time out to eat together since March), to the beach and for a nice drive, to get away for a while. Then we came home and I did something I never had done before. I used his pellet grill to make him surf and turf for dinner. He got phone calls, video chats from our daughters and other family and friends, and a quick, socially distanced visit from our youngest daughter and her boyfriend. All-in-all, I think he had a good birthday.

Birthdays were something I always cherished. I remember, despite a lot of my childhood being filled with fear and angst, my mom used to try to make a point to make my birthday matter. I can still remember my very first birthday party with classmates at McDonald’s, when I turned 6. I remember some of my favorite gifts: a ceramic bunny, a water/hoop game, SpeakNSpell, Barbie dolls. I remember going ice skating once. I remember going to dinner with boyfriends over the years, and dinners with my husband. Each year, for my kids, I used to make them their favorite dinner and dessert. We went away from that when they got older, as they wanted to start new traditions. Yet, I find myself yearning for those birthday dinners these days. I hope those dinners are among my daughters’ favorite birthday memories. I remember having a cake fight at my grandson Drew’s birthday party one year, too. And a huge water balloon fight at my grandsons’ Eli and Jeb’s birthday party. Such fun!

For me, birthdays took on a greater significance when I was diagnosed with my first serious health condition at age 12. Seems I have been dealing with something all my life. I had no idea if I would overcome scoliosis. No idea if I would run again or if I would lose the ability to walk or something more serious. I came through it ok. Later in life I would be diagnosed with cancer. And while caught early, birthdays took on a strong purpose, for me. I celebrated my 28th birthday with my brother and friends, all the while no one knowing I was having surgery and starting treatment the following week. I didn’t celebrate my 29th birthday because depression set in. I didn’t celebrate much that year. When I turned 30, I took myself and my roommate out to the fanciest restaurant. I even ate escargot! I decided on my 30th birthday that from this moment on I would celebrate my birthday in some meaningful way, and make sure each of my children understood how precious their lives were, as we celebrated theirs each year, too.

While how we celebrate has changed, I meditate on their birthdays now, sending them love, light and health through the next year and honor the gratitude for being blessed by their lives. Same with my grandkids.

We are only given so many birthdays. Some people are given a spirit and are lost in utero and their families celebrate their short lives in special ways. Others may only get a few seconds of life and their families still celebrate their lives, too. Still, others may get many seconds of life (there are apx. 22,075,000 seconds in a long lifetime) and take each one for granted. Or, as sad as the reality is, life can end in a second, and this birthday could be the last. We never know how many birthdays we will have. So my advice is celebrate each one. Celebrate half birthdays, too. Live the life you deserve, and even if you have a birthday where you just do not feel like celebrating you, make a point to do a random act of kindness for someone else. It will lift your spirits and give new meaning to celebrating life every day. Heck, for that matter, treat each new day like a birthday. Why not?

Happy Birthday! <3

The Wednesday Word is: QUIET

For years I have been a community advocate and stood for the rights of others – mentally ill, developmentally disabled, Veterans, LGTBQ+, homeless women, children, human rights, and countless others. For me, it is my way of honoring the process of my journey. I have empathy and compassion, which helps me help others. While I may never know what your life experiences are like, I can speak up for you as a human being with rights. If you feel I cannot speak for you, then I supportively stand next to you, using my tools when called upon. I tend to be the quiet in the storm, but my quiet is always percolating.

Ironically, by some in my community, I am called ‘The Quiet Lady’. This is because I teach meditation. That once quieted voice now speaks out against injustices to all and equality for all, yet is also the restorative centering people need in order to heal. I am beginning to understand it is because of my history that the world needs me. The world needs the boisterous, soul shakers, too. They make sure the world is listening. So, are you listening? Or have you tuned us out?

I used to be a boisterous soul shaker. At age 12, I picketed the proposed site of a dump, which I am happy to say still has not been built. For all the rebellious luster I had within, one day God said to me: “Be quiet. Be still. They will come. They will need you.” And I said recently, “God, I am mad! I’m angry. I need to scream!!! Why are you doing this?” I even told God I didn’t like people. No answer. I felt like He too was ignoring me. Today, in the quiet of this morning God whispered to me again. “Be quiet. Be still. They will come. They need you.”

So, I wait. I am quiet. Fuming inside at the injustice, the inequality, the outrage, the chains which still bind and hold others back. I’m quiet. I’m still. Uncertain, but trusting. I’m praying. I’m holding signs, but saying no words, because cannot adequately address the injustice and hatred. I’m at a loss for how to help. My voice may not vibrate out with words, but my soul is radiating love, compassion and kindness, hoping people will be called to my light, knowing in me and my practice, the quiet is the tool needed to heal and my four walls are the sanctuary to restore your shaken soul.

Lastly, never let anyone silence you. Never.

No one knows your heart except you and God. If someone is interpreting your words a way which was not of your intention, have a conversation with one another, or choose to ignore their ignorance. If your actions do not match your words, the conversation which needs to be had takes place in the mirror. God already knows. You stopped listening.

-My Prayer-

May your voice find the freedom you deserve.

May the quiet never silence you.

May the quiet with in you bring resolve.

May the peace in your heart bring balance to the changes our world needs.

Amen & Namaste

The Wednesday Word is: HUG

A common phrase often heard at Haven Hypnosis was: “Are you a hugger?” Sometimes by me, sometimes by clients. If it warranted, hugs were accepted and given at Haven Hypnosis. Truth be told, sometimes people just stop by, hoping my door is open, because they need a hug. It is the one free service Haven Hypnosis offered. My, how times have changed. I miss those hugs most.

Some people, who I might surmise are NOT huggers, have said things like: ‘so you can’t hug…what’s the big deal?… Well, my friend, for huggers, not hugging is a pretty big deal. Not only is there this amazing transfer of energy in the reciprocity of a hug from someone mutually engaged in a hug, but a hug is the most basic form of communication. A hug says things you don’t have words for. Did you know hugging has health benefits, too?

It is said that you actually NEED hugs for adequate survival. As it goes, you need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance and twelve for growth. I don’t know who came up with those statistics, but I have received less than four hugs a day before the pandemic and am doing ok. Hugs do have their benefits. Perhaps if I received more hugs I’d be even better.

Hugging releases a hormone, oxytocin. When released, this powerful neuropeptide hormone goes into action. Oxytocin is the hormone which affects our social bonding, and more intimate bonding, like that of a loved one or close friend. Oxytocin is released during and after childbirth, which greatly influences mother/child bonding. The reciprocal energy in a hug causes a reaction, which causes a reduction in blood pressure and a reduction in the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine. Just a 20 second hug is so very therapeutic. Within that 20 second hug and release of oxytocin is not only a feeling of love, admiration and appreciation, also an eating of stress, anxiety and fear. There is a reason oxytocin is called nature’s antidepressant. This reaction allows your body to feel more relaxed, feel more connected and allows your nervous system to find balance.

There is a wonderful article on the Mindful website that discusses a study from 2014 about oxytocin and healing, and another study I read by UCLA in 2011, showed raised levels of oxytocin promote optimism and self esteem, and hugging increases our ability to control our feelings and generates happiness.

You see, hugging is a very powerful tool. So the next time you say, ‘what’s the big deal’ re: hugging, it is a HUGE deal, and you, I might assume, have not been hugged enough.

Hugging is different now. I have no idea when or if I will be able to hug my friends and clients again. Just know I want to as much as you do, and it hurts me within, the same as you. We will find other ways to heal and be well. Huggers are sensitive, yet resilient people. As you can see in the second picture in this article, huggers are finding safe ways to hug again. Stay well, stay strong. Together, huggers, we will get through this.

The Wednesday Word is: CHASTISE

Not often when I meditate on Wednesday mornings, do I receive a word I don’t want to work with. However, today was one of those days. At first, when the word began to slide into my awareness, I thought I was getting the word chastity, and I laughed. Immediately I asked, “Why chastity?” Then, I recognized the word was actually chastise and laughed again. Not only at my misunderstanding the message being delivered, also at my immediate chastising of perceived message. Then I asked myself why I was so quick to push back. The answers surprised me, at first. Since I know my heart and so does God, I was quickly assured the negative warning in my head was just in my head. Yet, my heart told me differently. The push back was no one wants to be told they are wrong. I am known for my positive, upbeat messages. I had to be reminded I am also known for truth, authenticity and transparency. So here we go…

When I meditate on Wednesday mornings, sometimes I have to ask for a word. Even when I ask, I don’t always get one. Sometimes, if I am stumped about what to write, I’ll ask my husband for a word. Just a word, no insight. I need it strike a chord within me. Before I take the task of writing the blog I design the art. It usually helps me with needed imagery to form my thoughts. As I perused the royalty-free stock photos for something to go with chastise, I realized I could fill up 1000 or more blocks and not cover the sum of the word. I also am quite mindful, or purposefully attempt to make my imagery diverse. And, while searching for imagery it dawned on me I could be chastised if I use an image of a Black person and the word chastise, before anyone read a word. Then, when I continued to search, I thought, I could as easily be chastised for not using a Black person’s image, and the same could be said regardless of race of the person in the imagery I choose. Though God and myself know my heart to be anything but racist, in these moments this morning, while searching stock photos, I began to question how I might be viewed. I chastised myself before anyone else could, or even might.

This made me realize, as society, we tend to chastise what we know nothing about. I had no idea what would happen, but perception gave me pause. We let fear and ego lead our perception, which distorts reality. There are a lot of opinions about how people feel other people should live. They chastise them, not just cowardly, behind a keyboard, but blatantly, and outwardly, in the general public, when they know NOTHING about said person or their circumstances. Yet, hatred, bigotry and violence reign in a world where I work to cultivate peace.

Now, I feel strongly about a lot of things. I, too, have opinions about how life should look. I feel I am mature enough and experienced enough of life to have rational discussions about tough subjects and agree to disagree. Not everyone can. I look at myself as an optimistic realist. However, in my life, I have been shamed and chastised by a former supervisor for being “too positive” – and told, “The difference between a positive person and a realist is the realist has life experience.” The audacity of this person to pass judgment on my good mood! Sadly, it happens. Some people like misery or get delight watching people they perceive as underlings, squirm.

I don’t always maintain compassion over composure. I am passionate about my stance, at times and I will fight for the best outcome for the majority of the people. That being said, as a business owner, I understand the need to open America. But I have said it before; not one dollar is worth one life. No one should be considered expendable.

People I consider very good friends chastise me. We have had discussions and agree to disagree their opposition to me wearing a mask to protect myself or at least feel like I am doing all I can to help myself be well. Somehow, in a matter of two months, we have a slew of medical mask experts with no medical background. I have medical professionals in my family who have varying degrees of opinions on wearing a mask, how long, etc. Everyone has an opinion about how everyone should live. It is no more anyone’s business today than it was in 2019. Do you. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. I will until I feel I don’t need nor want to. But do not go into establishments where they have a mask protocol and demand your face be naked because it is your constitutional right. Go home. Actually read the constitution, then perhaps, stay home. I choose to do what I feel is best for me, and I do so with my doctor’s advice. Did I just chastise? Yes, yes I did.

Chastising people for something you know nothing about is how fights begin. Wars have started over chastising another based on perception and ego, rather than facts. If you THINK something MIGHT be true. Stop. You’re more likely to be wrong. If you persist to argue, if you’re looking for a fight, how many heart attacks will it take for you to realize THAT is a grave waste of your time?

Society chastised and condemned far before COVID-19 began. We will likely find something else to chastise and condemn after this, too. The majority of the population has never experienced a global pandemic. How is it we all know so much in such a short time about something we never experienced before? Don’t waste your time fighting over who is more wrong. Do what is best for you, for your family. You know those needs better than anyone. Rest assured, when you need more professional input there are professionals out there who have only read about this in text books. Just because they are doctors or nurses, they too have never experienced a global pandemic before. They too are doing their best to provide you with the best care they know how. And at the end of the day, when they return to their families, they are human beings under their masks. Just like you. Remember that before you chastise them for following a protocol and work under circumstances they have never experienced.

At the end of the day, was it worth it? Was your need to be right worth more than someone else’s self-worth? Does your opinion have merit or is it just an opinion? Know this: just because you do not understand something, are afraid of something or perceive something to be true, doesn’t mean it is. Before you chastise or apprise– realize… every finger you point, three more point back at you. You perfect yet? No? Me neither.

Be well.

The Wednesday Word is: THANK YOU

Each week before I begin to write this post, I meditate. People assume that because I meditate I am always even keeled, mellow and calm. While that is true, most of the time, I get fired up when I hear of people being treated inhumanely, unjustly or if people are being manipulated and tarnished by others. As I meditated today, calm and resolve did not come. I, like many of you who meditate, allowed the images, words, voices and thoughts to flow. What came at first troubled me. Images from news stories I permitted myself to read over the last few days and details, which I will never understand. Then, there are stories which read differently. Like the stories my friend, Erin sponsors on our local radio station, “feel good news.” I started to think about that, instead.

With a the protests, disgusting death threats and vile things said to and about people on the front lines trying to do their jobs, trying to help people live their best lives possible, there are moments of grand humanity. If you dare to peak through the filter, you will see those moments. For those moments, I say: THANK YOU! For it is in those moments I regain hope for humanity. There are things I will never understand and these moments of heart amidst chaos are ones I choose to embrace.

Before Day 1 of the pandemic, the people who are givers showed up for their communities anyway, because it is just what they do. Thank you — for caring enough to give the best of you especially in the worst of circumstances. Thank you to the leaders in our communities who put others first. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, police, fire, EMS and other staff deemed essential, for staying with us in these unprecedented times. Thank you to leaders looking out for small businesses and all businesses. Thank you to all business leaders and non-profit leaders. Thank you to my friends, Erin, Chip, Marlane, Heather B., Heather T., Stacy, Shaunda, Lanny, Rob, Courtney, Heather W., Krista, Mickey, Patty, Lorainne and others, for giving of your time, talent and treasure to help others who need it most — for joining in the true sense of community. Thank you to area pastors bringing church to the people, and attempting to restore faith and hope.

If you made rules and laws to protect us, even if some of us didn’t deem it necessary…thank you. If you made meals, activity kits for homeschooled kids, bought and raffled gift cards from local businesses, held food drives, sewed masks, donated services or meals, or offered prayers…thank you. If you worked your job and kept America going…thank you. If you were laid off, stayed home and kept me and others from getting ill, or helped deliver food, groceries or other necessities to neighbors. .. thank you. If I did not mention you or a category you fit into, know you make a difference by being you.

We may never agree on how to best handle this pandemic problem, but we can agree to be respectful, kind and compassionate to one another, especially when we disagree. And for those of you doing so, thank you.