If you could wish somebody happy, who would it be?
“You can’t wish somebody happy, Rae.” 

I can, I want to tell him. I do. Every day. Not that it works, as far as I can tell. But it’s something, the only response I can make to the heartbreak and suffering floating around in the emotional atmosphere.
— I Wish You Happy

 Rae, the empathic, animal loving main character in my new novel, I Wish You Happy, makes special trips to the river so she can skip stones into the water, each one carrying a happy wish for someone who needs it. 

In honor of Rae's belief that maybe wishes really can alter the reality around us, even just a little, I'd like to introduce a different kind of contest - one in which you enter to win a prize for somebody else.

Here's how it works.

Between July 1st through 7th, I will give away one signed physical copy of I Wish You Happy daily. To enter, just post a picture of yourself with your copy of I Wish You Happy (ebook or physical), to Twitter or Facebook, hashtag it #mywishyouhappy, and also tag the person you will give the book to if you win. Multiple entries encouraged - just put up a new post and tag a different person!

Each evening between July 1st through 7th,  I will randomly choose a winner. The person who was tagged by the winner gets the book. The participating winner will be entered into a grand prize drawing. On July 8th, I will choose a grand prize winner out of the seven finalists for this prize:

GRAND PRIZE: $500 to go to an animal rescue or mental health nonprofit of your choice, PLUS this beautiful little wishing pot for making your own wishes.

wishingpot.jpeg

Pre-order now so you have a book in your possession for photo opportunities (or borrow one from a friend) and be ready to start wishing the world a happier place on July 1st! Don't forget the #mywishyouhappy so I can find your entries!

Inevitable Fine Print, left big enough so you can read it: International participants welcome. Must be 18 or older to win. I reserve the right of determining whether the non-profit selected fits the designated limits, and will mail the money directly to the organization. Purchase not necessary to enter. All winners must respond to notification within 7 days or forfeit their prize.

Easy Entry Giveaway - CLOSER HOME

Kerry SchaferComment
Epic #LakeUnionAuthors Twitter Party

If you are a Twitterer, you might just want to put Tuesday March 7 on your calendar.

Why?

I'll tell you why. 

Over 30 amazing authors (including me) will be hanging out on Twitter under the #LakeUnionAuthor hashtag, and each one is offering up a giveaway!!

As if that wasn't awesome enough all by itself, these authors are fun. They are smart. They are witty. They come from all walks of life and will be there to entertain, interact, and answer questions.

The festivities begin at 4:30 EST. I'll be showing up diva late at 8:15 EST, or at least that's when I'll be around FOR SURE. I'll probably pop in and out before then, for fear of missing out on the fun.

I will be giving away winner's choice of a signed paperback copy of Closer Home or an audio MPE copy or a CD Boxed set.

If you don't Twitter, you still have a chance to win. Check back here on the 7th for entry details. Or, you know, start twittering! I'm @kerry_anne_king. Come find me.

Mama Gena's Five Day Receiving Challenge

I stumbled across a post over on Facebook that snagged my attention. Here's what caught me:

As women, we struggle with receiving praise, love, and acknowledgment.

Whether we...
Avert our eyes and deflect the praise...
Respond with self-deprecation...
Or sabotage our own happiness because we don’t feel worthy of it...
— Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts

Sound familiar?

She goes on to explain some of the reasons why we so frequently fear our own power, and then invites us to join her in a five day challenge where we will "take one action every day that teaches you how to graciously receive love, praise, and goodness into your life (and encourage other women to do the same)."

I'm in! Anybody else want to play along?  Sign up here.!

Chronic Shock and What You Can Do About It

Last week I posted a screening checklist for chronic shock. We had some discussion about results over on Facebook. There were several instances of, "Hey, I score high on a couple of these things. Isn't that just temperament? I don't feel like I'm in shock."

Of course there are personality differences. From the time kids are little bitty some of them are more driven and some are more laid back. This was one of my excuses when I did the shock questionnaire. OF COURSE there are a million things on my To Do List. I have to do a ton of things in order to get where I want to go.

And there is truth to this. It's possible to be busy and still be connected, fully present, and mindful about what you're doing. And then there's the state I was in, which is not so healthy. I felt like a hamster on a wheel. My To Do List felt like Everest, and I was trying to climb it - alone - without any climbing gear. I felt disconnected, disenchanted, flat, and a little hopeless. Also, bone weary.

I've realized, now that I've moved out of shock, that I'd lost the ability to enjoy any one thing. If I was sitting and talking to the Viking, I was thinking about all of the things that HAD to be done. I felt disconnected from people, family and friends alike. I moved from sympathetic shock - running around like a headless chicken while trying to do ALL THE THINGS - into parasympathetic shock - exhausted, depressed, falling asleep while trying to write or drive or pretty much any time I was actually sitting still.

At bedtime, I'd crash for an hour or two, and then my body would wake back up and not know what to do with the whole concept of extended rest.

Who is most at risk for shock?

People who tend to be "care giver" types are at high risk. First responders, including therapists, counselors, and medical personnel, are continually inundated with intense emotions and life and death situations. They are often too busy caring for others to take care of themselves. Individuals who have had personal tragedies, been diagnosed with a serious illness, or had to deal with a financial crisis, may move from stress into shock.

When life comes at us too hard and fast, we move into a fight or flight mode, (sympathetic shock) and/or a freeze mode (parasympathetic shock) and some of us get stuck there. 

What can you do?

  1. Become Mindful. Notice what your body is doing. Is your heart racing, your adrenaline pumping, your brain trying to perform gymnastic feats? Or are you dragging yourself around and constantly hitting caffeine and energy drinks to try to get things done? Are you hitting the sugar or the chocolate by early afternoon? When do these things happen? Are there triggers that send you one way or the other?
  2. Meditate. Meditation calms the body and the mind. It begins to balance out the brain-body chemicals that get out of whack when we are in shock. Five minutes a day can make a big difference.
  3. Practice Yoga or some other form of mindful exercise that includes breath work. Again, just a few minutes a day has profoundly healing effects.
  4. Take a walk in nature. If you're a city person, find a park or a place with trees if you can. 
  5. Drink water. This is legit! Drink water slowly. Focus on it. The water is good for you, but the experience of mindfully drinking it helps move you out of shock.
  6. Heat or ice packs. I scoffed at this. I'll admit it. We were watching videos of some intense, highly emotional hypnotherapy work, and an assistant came to me and offered an ice bag. I declined and said I was fine. Truth is, I was sitting there with tears pouring down my face, my body clenched tight. Not so fine. Next time the ice bag offer came around I accepted. It helps. Especially when I'm drifting off into parasympathetic shock and my body is trying to just shut down.
  7. Essential oils. This works like the ice and heat. Find something grounding and comforting, or something that wakes up your brain. I'm fond of peppermint.
  8. Be fully in the now. Breathe, slow and deep. Focus on being aware of your body. Feet on the floor. Hands on a desk.  
  9. Take a good long social media break. I'm amazed at how much I was being impacted by my Facebook and Twitter feeds. It's important to be informed and connected. But having all of that emotion coming at you all day long can be pretty overwhelming. 
  10. Consider finding a mind-body therapist. This could be hypnotherapy, massage, acupuncture, Reiki, or a number of other modalities.
A Thought for Friday, Thanks to Lao Tzu

This quote found me this morning, and I'm carrying it with me to work today. I thought I'd share, in case it resonates with anybody else.

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will be blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.
— Lao Tzu
Chronic Shock and How it Affects Your Life

Shock.

It came to my attention during my recent six day intensive training in heart centered hypnotherapy that I've been living in a state of chronic shock for years. 

Stay with me, here.

I see you flitting away to go look at something else because you're too busy or this doesn't apply to you. Guess what? 

Divided attention, crazy schedules, overflowing to do lists - these are all symptoms of shock. Who knew?

Certainly not me. When our teacher asked us to turn to the shock questionnaire you'll see below, I took one look and burst out laughing.

"What?" she said.

"You're telling me people have less than three things on their To Do List? Like, for real?" said I.

She smiled at me, very kindly. "Yes," she said. "People do."

I probably rolled my eyes. What sort of functional person doesn't have an overflowing, insane list of stuff to do?

So I did the little screening test you'll see below, and guess what? I'm insanely high on the sympathetic shock scale, and I flip over into parasympathetic on a regular basis. I'm going to talk about this more, but for this post I want to gently suggest that you take a deep breath, and then either read through this check list or print it out and actually check the boxes and score yourselves. 

I'd love to hear from you in comments how you score.

I'll be writing more about this, so stay tuned. You can also buy the book and go straight to the source. 

I'll be writing more about this, so stay tuned. You can also buy the book and go straight to the source. 

Natural Food Mood Boosters That Actually Taste Fantastic

As it turns out, not all foods that are good for you taste bad! 

Last week I ran across this fantastic list of ingredients to boost and brighten your mood. You know what's on there?

Chocolate.

Maybe you already knew about the chocolate. But also cinnamon. Cardamom. Vanilla. 

Just writing these words makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Acting on this information, I added cinnamon and cayenne to my morning smoothie. It zinged. It woke up my mouth. It tasted maybe a little too good to be healthy. And I'm all about it when the healthy things are pleasurable, because I also believe in Vitamin P.

When I say Vitamin P, I'm not talking about the actual factual Vitamin P. I didn't know there was such a thing until Google pointed it out to me right this minute. In mental health, sometimes we talk about PLEASURE as Vitamin P. A lot of us are so caught up in the daily grind that we don't treat ourselves nearly often enough. Pleasure is healthy, so long as we find it in ways that are not destructive.

When Pleasure and Things That Are Good For Me line up, I'm a happy camper.

As for the turmeric sun tea referenced in the article above, I'm a little more skeptical. Oh, I have no doubt at all it would be healthy. I'm just not so sure it's a thing I want to put in my mouth. But hey, maybe I'll try it.

After I get home from this fabulous six day Heart Centered Hypnotherapy training I'm at this week.

In the meantime, be well. And hey - if you happen to try the turmeric sun tea, please be my guinea pig and let me know what you think.

Ten Thankful Things - by Virginia Franken

Today's guest is a brilliantly funny and insightful author friend who has the sort of attitude toward life I am always seeking and falling short of. Seriously. As you'll read below, she has the capacity to be thankful for dental pain. Yes, you read that correctly. DENTAL PAIN. GRATEFUL FOR. Maybe she'll inspire you to make a daily gratitude list of your own. (You'll probably also want to read her delightful novel, Life After Coffee.)

Virginia Franken was born and raised in the United Kingdom. She currently lives in suburban Los Angeles with two kids, a dog, an overweight goldfish, and one bearded dude, in a house that’s just a little too small to fit everyone in comfortably. She gets most of her writing done when she should be sleeping. Life After Coffee, is her first novel.

Virginia Franken was born and raised in the United Kingdom. She currently lives in suburban Los Angeles with two kids, a dog, an overweight goldfish, and one bearded dude, in a house that’s just a little too small to fit everyone in comfortably. She gets most of her writing done when she should be sleeping. Life After Coffee is her first novel.

Today's Ten

I found planet earth a bit of a difficult place to be last year so to pep 2017 up a little, I thought I’d try and turn my perception around by writing about some of the things that WERE working out.

So in 2017 I’m writing down ten things every day that I’m grateful for.

Here are today’s TEN:

1.     Dental pain. That’s right, I’m grateful for the dental pain I’m currently experiencing. I had braces fitted a few months ago and they are THE WORST. According to my dentist, my crappy British teeth are all misaligned and sunken in like an old horse so unless I wanted to be sucking on grey gruel at the age of 57, braces are needed. They’ve been on for months and nothing’s happened. My teeth appear to have roots of cement. However, she recently put a bunch of springs in there, like I’m some kind of defective clock, but now those suckers are shifting…. Finally. Hence the pain. And hence the gratitude. More pain = fixed teeth.

2.     Change. I’m grateful for change. Most people hate change as is the way of the human, but I like it. Change can be rough (see 2016) but it can also be transformative – which of course is all kind of tied up the in the word CHANGE. In the 1900s teenaged girls were dying after getting burned in cotton factories with no fire escapes and crap, but now they have iPhones and medication to help them with their acne. The world today always seems like it’s a bit useless. But really, stuff is changing and mostly for the better.

3.     I wore a black bra to work under a pale pink shirt today. I didn’t realize this would be an issue until I saw it in the mirror in the bathrooms. And why is this on the gratitude list? Because I realized I didn’t care… Because I’m almost 40 and I don’t care if people are judging me for a poor choice of dark-colored bra. I just don’t.

4.     I’ve been watching with a kind of sad caution recently as my eight-year-old turns from child to tween before my very eyes. It’s cool but also (like every parent on the planet) I wonder where the time went, and most of all I wonder if I spent it in the right way. Again, like many parents I work full-time and I often feel like I missed a good chunk of my eldest’s childhood. I’ve been off and on glum recently that I’ve missed it. It’s gone. And I was too busy working for the man to really dive in appreciate it. However, this weekend at the play place filled with toddlers and train sets and stickle bricks and princess costumes he played like a toddler too. Except minus the black tantrums he used to throw when he was three. All in all, it’s all good. He’s still a little boy. Even though he’s a big little boy. 

5.     The pizza guy rang the door bell this evening and the explosion of activity that went off in the house at the sound of the doorbell actually seemed hilarious instead of highly stressful like normal. The dog yapping, eldest child yapping too, the youngest screaming “POLICE!”. Instead of alarmed, I could see it how the pizza guy must see it and I was mildly amused. 

6.     I dyed my own hair today and managed to cover the grey without ending up looking like a tabby cat in mourning. My sister is a color technician at a fancy hair salon in London so the fact that I’m coloring my own hair is a straight up betrayal of blood. However. It worked out fine. Birds did not fall from the trees. I was not struck down by the angry zap of the hair goddess straighteners in the sky. It was fine. I covered the grey and it looked ok and cost about 1/8 of the price of the salon situation. Just sayin’…

7.     Steam-free mirrors. I don’t have steam-free mirrors and every morning when I have to wipe a little hole within the steam cloud to put on my makeup I think, hmph. However. I know that some people in this fine world do have steam-free mirrors (I’ve been told this happens in hotels in Japan) and for them I’m grateful for the saved convenience. Also my great grandchildren will probably have steam-free mirrors as a matter of course so I’m grateful on their behalf too.

8.     It’s been cold. I love a bit of cold. Chilly at night, putting on an extra blanket, snuggling between icy sheets wearing long sleeve pajamas. And the reasons I love the cold so much are A. It makes me nostalgic for my English boarding school childhood where we would wake up with ice on the inside of the windows, Jane Eyre style - I’m not kidding - and B. It’s such a blessed contrast to the roaring heat of the summer that attacks the valleys of Los Angeles at the first hint of the June. Yay global warming (not not not not not.)

9.     Eldest child is hot on the case for me to buy him seaweed. He traded some at school for a pack of Fritos and now he’s mad for the green stuff. I love that my eight-year-old is even aware that seaweed can be eaten. I lived on an English diet of boiled potatoes and chicken till I was about 18 and I didn’t even eat an avocado till I was about 28. Progress people. The human race is progressing.

10.  Us LA folks get very excited about rain and it’s been raining a lot here recently. I should really live in Seattle or really anywhere other than LA as too much sun makes me miserable and itchy. But anyway – today the clouds were sitting halfway down the mountain like a bunch of smug cotton balls and I swear it was like Buddha had farted and wrapped it up in a puff of smoke and stuck it on the hillside. The whole thing was transcendent.

What everyday transcendent experience did you have today?

Want to hang out more with Virginia? You can find her here:

Blog: http://www.virginiafranken.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/virginiafranken

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginiafrankenauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/virginiafranken/

 

 

Surviving and Thriving During a Kerfuffle

My dears, we are living in a kerfuffle, which is a fun and fluffy sounding word describing a state of affairs that is anything but:

Kerfuffle: a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views

I love words. This is the main reason I became a writer. And kerfuffle is a nugget of awesome. It also happens to be the perfect word for all of my social media feeds and the world at large right now. (Hold tight, this isn't going to be a political rant.)

Now, while I love the word kerfuffle, I'm not so fond of the situation it defines so nicely. I'm a lover of peace and harmony. I'm a little bit like Rae, the main character in my not-yet-released novel I Wish You Happy. Rae is an empath who is nearly incapacitated at times by the intensity with which she feels people's emotions.

I don't think you need to be an empath to struggle with that problem right now. Raw, dramatic, emotions are blaring at us every time we open Facebook or Twitter.  They are on every street corner, on the news. They are coming at us from family and friends, co-workers, and random people in the grocery store.

Unless you stay home, turn off all of the electronics, avoid all of the people, and stay curled into a ball in fetal position it's pretty much impossible to avoid the splatter. Even then, there's a problem, because chances are good that you too are having some messy emotions right about now.

So what are we to do?

I'm still working my way through the answers. But I believe the answer lies somewhere along the lines of the old saying: be the change you want to see in the world. Maybe we could switch it up a bit, and go with this:

Amplify the emotion you want to feel in the world.

This is NOT to say that we should just sit in our ivory towers and try to feel love and believe that's going to change anything. Love in action is important. I think we need to also DO things. Contribute to causes that matter. Join with others for peaceful demonstrations. (The women's march is a fantastic example of this. No violence. No arrests. But an incredible display of solidarity and HOPE.) Use the political channels. Do fact checking. Circulate facts. Donate time or money to causes that matter to you.

But emotion is what drives us to do things. Or keeps us from doing things. Or gets us so tangled up that we can't work through the conflict of WHAT to do. So let me suggest a few guidelines and then we can work it from there.

1. Negativity doesn't generally motivate change. It just tends to amplify into a mass bitchfest. I've been falling into this trap on Social Media. It feels good to retweet or share a post that is snarky and sarcastic, and if it's slamming something (or, I'm ashamed to say, someone) you think is wrong, then you also get to feel good and a little self righteous. There. I've done something positive to share the truth. Um, not so much. When we retweet and repost these things, I think we're preaching to the choir and promulgating ugly emotions. Nothing is accomplished. No purpose is served.

2. Maybe the best place for our messy and difficult emotions is in a private journal. Write them out. Allow yourself to feel them in all of their wide, glorious, and sometimes difficult intensity. Talk to a close friend. Engage a counselor. Emotions are important and need to be tended much like gardens. Take the time. Do the work.

3. Choose, consciously, what you want to project out into the world. Do loving kindness meditations. Radiate positivity. Amplify hope.

4. If you're just plain angry and your anger is justified, direct it somewhere. Anger is an incredibly powerful and useful emotion if it's harnessed. Not so much if it's just spinning aimlessly like a hamster on a wheel. Point it in a direction - not at people - and run with it.

In case anybody is wondering, I'm talking out loud to myself here. I do that. Feel free to hold me to these principles if you should happen to see me stray. Because I will. I'll need to check myself over and over again. I'm like that. Life is like that.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, and how you're all getting on. 

Sleeping Better

Sleep heals us, body, mind and soul. Unfortunately, insomnia is a wide spread problem. All sorts of things can interrupt sleep:

Pain, kids, cats, worry, stress, noise, electronics, light.

Cats. I mentioned the cats, right? Jumping on your head. Attacking your feet. Running insanely through the house at 3 am howling and knocking glassware off the counter...

Personally, my sleep has been fragmented ever since my first child was born, twenty-five years ago. Somehow, I've never been able to regain the ability to sleep through the entire night, even though the kids have all moved out of the house. Of course, there are the cats. And now there are also hot flashes. I should mention that once you've flung all of the covers off so you can bask in the tropical paradise of a 3 a.m. hot flash, your bare feet are now fair game for the claws of a playful cat.

Of course, there are sleeping pills available, all of which have side effects and drawbacks. Most of them interfere with the normal sleep cycle, what is called the Architecture of Sleep. A lot of them leave you feeling hung over in the morning. Some carry the potential for addiction or at least dependence.

Seeing as I'm all about natural health whenever possible, I've tried most of the standard sleep advice (with the exception of giving up caffeine. They will pry the last beautiful mug of coffee out of my cold dead hands). These are all things that have helped:

  1. Yoga
  2. Relaxation breathing
  3. Keeping a regular sleep schedule for bedtime and waking
  4. Dark room
  5. Cool room
  6. White noise
  7. Valerian root (warning: this stuff stinks. We call them the Cow Pie PIlls at our house)
  8. Melatonin
  9. Cutting out electronics for at least thirty minutes before bed
  10. Keeping a worry list
  11. Meditation

The latest experiment is working with a CD using what's called "the Aurelis Method" by J.L. Mommaerts. This is from the Aurelis Project website:

"The purpose of the AURELIS project is to use autosuggestion as a means to communicate with the subconscious and to direct its tremendous power in order to gain better health and well being."

In practical terms, this method seems to be part auto-suggestion, part guided imagery, and part hypnotherapy.

I've had the Mommaerts CD sitting around for years and never bothered to try it. I'm not sure why. This last week I pulled it out and loaded it into my iTunes. I've loved working with it, and even though I'm still not sleeping for more than 4 hours at a stretch, I'm sleeping more deeply and have more energy.

Mommaerts has a lovely voice, a delightful accent, and the endearing trait of sometimes using English words that are not precisely right. For me, this adds charm to a system that does seem to work to invoke better sleep. 

I tried to find a place where you could buy this CD or the MP3, and all I can find at this point is a subscription to the Aurelis site. But, there are a lot of other guided imagery sleep CDs here, at Health Journeys. I plan to try a few of these in the very near future.

Next week I'm off to a week long training in heart-centered hypnotherapy, a practice that I hope will bring better sleep to me, as well as allowing me to bring better sleep to others. I'll be sure to share my adventures here, as well.

For now, I wish for you sweet dreams and a good night's sleep. Please feel free to share your sleep experiences in the comments.

 

Just Start Somewhere

Decision making is not my strong suite.

I can hear my Viking snorting as I write these words, even though he's not even in the house at the moment. He's all about making decisions, and they are generally good ones. For him, the world usually flows in direct lines from cause to consequence. He's boggled by my difficulty. 

My Meyer's Briggs temperament type is INFP. Some of you will know what that means. If you don't, let's suffice it to say that my brain prefers to ponder the whys and wherefores of the universe rather than the common sense realities of the world around me.

Making decisions? I'm like a kid in the proverbial candy store. So many choices, and I'm never allowed to choose them all. Making a decision is like closing a door on possibility.

Big door. POSSIBILITY in all caps

Take this blog, for instance. I've been meaning to blog regularly here for months. But every time I sit down to blog my brain immediately goes into the realm of POSSIBILITY and I give up and walk away to do something other.

Maybe I should blog about books

Maybe I should blog about my own, personal, day to day growth

Maybe I should have guests.

Maybe I should blog about mind, body, spirit health

Maybe I shouldn't blog at all, because my life is already hectic and maybe nobody will read any of this and my time would be better spent elsewhere.

Fortunately, I've developed an ability to compensate for my indecision over the years. I function well in my day job as a clinic RN, making decisions as I go and getting my work done. At home, I manage the day to day household operations just fine. And for other stuff that feels too overwhelming, I've developed a mantra:

Just start somewhere, and take it from there.

Getting started is the hardest part. Once things are in motion, it's easier to keep them going. It feels a bit like a game I used to play with my older brother when we were in boring situations (like driving for thousands of miles in a car. Or at least it felt like thousands of miles.) He would take a long string and tie it in a ball of knots. And then I would untie it. The hardest part was finding the right end to get started; after that it was all a matter of time and patience.

So, today, I'm starting somewhere with this blog. I have some ideas I'd like to implement. Mondays as personal growth days. Wednesdays, guest posts by writer friends. Fridays, information about various aspects of whole health. Maybe these things will happen, maybe they won't. 

One way or another, it's time to take the ideas out of my head and start putting them on the page.

What about you? Do you like decisions made or to leave all those doors of possibility open? 

Book Love: Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness

I just finished this book and loved it. So, in the spirit of holiday giving, I'm passing it on. There may be some thematic similarities to the book I am currently writing - which is, of course, all a big secret as of yet.

The Survivor's Guide to Family HappinessThe Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Utterly charming! I inhaled this book, and wish it hadn't ended. Let's begin with the wonderful characters. I love them all, but Nina and Indigo are two of my favorite ever book characters to date. Nina, the narrator, is so delightfully funny and flawed and irrepressible. I want to be friends with her, honestly. I want to read her grocery list. Basically, I'd read anything written in this voice. In addition to the fabulous characters, this book has mystery, romance, tragedy, hope and healing, all in the appropriate dosages. Highly recommended. In fact, I read on Kindle but I'm going to require the paperback for my shelf.

View all my reviews

 

 

Kerry SchaferComment
Where there is hatred...
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.
— Saint Francis

It's cold this morning in my little house in the big woods, the kind of cold that paints frost crystals all over everything and sharpens the air. Winter's coming. 

But I have coffee and a fire in the wood stove. Mark Knopfler is singing to me. I have words to write.

I also have heart work to do. 

So much hate in the world right now, swirling in from all directions like snow in a blizzard. Hang out on social media for a minute and it swirls so thick I lose track of which direction it is coming from or which way it is blowing.

It's easy to get lost in snow like that.

And so I keep coming back to love as an anchor. 

I don't mean love in the casual way I say I love bacon. More like the way I say I love coffee. As in, I will walk three miles through snow to get a good cup. I will haul a hand grinder and good beans with me on a cruise, forage for half and half during the day, and play games with room service hot water in a quest to brew one perfect mug of coffee.

I'm talking about the kind of love that has action behind it, an activated love that changes things.

And that is where I have work to do. Hate and fear are a taint, like cream gone bad in a cup of otherwise awesome coffee. 

I've been meditating on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis this week, and I've realized that much of it is beyond me right now. I've decided to break it down and take it one line at a time.

So for today, my challenge to myself and to you if you'd like to join me, is to hold this line in your heart:

Where there is hatred, let me sow love

I plan to carry these words with me, making them the focus of my day, and I invite you to join me. Look for opportunities to speak from love, to act from love, to show love. Not only where it is deserved, but in all places, at all times, and with all people.

Sound like too much? As I write these words I have all sorts of objections clamoring within me. But what about... and what about... These people, these ideas, these actions, deserve hate, surely?

The answer, rather than my usual conflict, is going to be met, again, with this phrase:

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Kerry Schafer1 Comment
If You’re a Weed, Feed the Bees

These weeds are growing all over my yard.If it was up to me, we probably would have killed them all a long time ago. They are ugly. Worse, they grow tenacious, nasty little burrs that stick to shoe laces and pet fur.I asked the Viking why they were still standing after he came in from weed whacking one day.“They have flowers,” was what he said.

I pointed out the burr problem and he just shrugged. “They smell wonderful and the bees love them.”Once he’d pointed these salient facts out to me, I observed this for myself. The tiny red flowers on these plants are bee magnets. Bumble bees. Honey bees. Bees of all shapes and sizes. And they do have a beautiful fragrance. All of this makes them worth keeping around, even though they are not the most beautiful plant in the world and they manufacture burrs.

Me being me, I then went on to think that maybe some of us are put in this world to be weeds. To some people sharing space with us we might come across as annoying or prickly. But we are here for a reason. Possibly not as a sweet smelling bee attractant, but we have other strengths and strong points. Those who are “our people” or our tribe if you will, can see and appreciate us for what we are.

So, my thought for this Wednesday is to go ahead an embrace my weediness, and hope that you do likewise. Be the plant you were put here to be. Stand up straight, let your roots run deep, and feed your bees, whatever that means to you.

Eric C. Wilder