Before the song is over.
Recipe for a
Happy New Year
Take twelve whole months.
Clean them thoroughly of all bitterness, hate, and jealousy.
Make them just as fresh and clean as possible.
Now cut each month into twenty-eight, thirty, or thirty-one
different parts, but don't make up the whole batch at once.
Prepare it one day at a time out of these ingredients.
Mix well into each day one part of faith, one part of patience, one
part of courage, and one part of work.
Add to each day one part of hope, faithfulness, generosity, and
Blend with one part prayer, one part meditation, and one good deed.
Season the whole with a dash of good spirits, a sprinkle of fun, a
pinch of play, and a cupful of good humor.
Pour all of this into a vessel of love.
Cook thoroughly over radiant joy, garnish with a smile, and serve
with quietness, unselfishness, and cheerfulness.
You're bound to have a happy new year.
Trust transcends hope, as the space beyond transcends the atmosphere
below. When the mind clings to a thread of hope, it is
anchored to earthly bounds. The thread snaps, and the mind
looks up and sees nothing more than the open sky. All limits
are gone. That is Trust: When you stop suggesting to your
Maker what He should do. When you are ready and open to
surprise and miracles.
A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman
New Eyes of Understanding
real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but
in having new eyes.
How have we felt when we return to our
hometowns, childhood homes, old playgrounds, or high schools after
years of absence? Suddenly each place isn't as it once seemed
because we're looking through the eyes of someone older and changed.
Where we once saw our high school through the eyes of students, we
now look at it through the eyes of adults--in a much different way.
So it is with all areas of our lives: our jobs, homes, families,
friends, or partners. Many of these people and places haven't
changed for a long time. Yet, we change every day.
Instead of seeing our job as the same old job or our home as the
same old home, we can start to look at them differently.
Tonight we don't need to change things on the outside to feel better
on the inside. We can change how we look at things from the inside
out. We can start to see who and what are outside of us as if we
were looking at them for the first time. Tonight the ho-hums in our
lives can turn into ah-has just by changing the way we see them.
There may be many things in my life that haven't changed, but I'm
not one of them. Tonight I can see them all with new eyes.
Copyright © Amy E. Dean 1986
Change your thoughts
and you change your world.
Norman Vincent Peale
We learn from the Program that all of
our lives are made up of changes. Life for us can be like the
seasons of the year. The uncomfortable blizzards of winter will
pass. Spring brings flowers. Chattering birds fill the air with song
where once there was wind, snow, and ice.
We know summer will follow spring. We learn to take the bad with the
good. Hardships can make us stronger. Suffering cannot last forever.
The key is to see life with optimism. We know that the changing of
the seasons is like the changes in our lives.
When we use the Serenity Prayer, we may occasionally lose sight of
its meaning. We need to concentrate on the differences between what
we can change and what we can't.
I trust and I believe that the changes in my life are like the
changing of the seasons. They are necessary and good for me.
From the book "Easy Does It "
Goes To Heaven
The day finally
arrived: Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven. He is at the
Pearly Gates, met by St. Peter himself. However, the gates are
closed and Forrest approaches the Gatekeeper.
St. Peter says, "Well, Forrest, it's certainly good to see you. We
have heard a lot about you. I must inform you that the place
is filling up fast, and we've been administering an entrance
examination for everyone. The tests are short, but you have to pass
them before you can get into Heaven."
Forrest responds, "It shore is good to be here St. Peter, sir. But
nobody ever tolt me about any entrance exam. Shore hope the test
ain't too hard; life was a big enough test as it was."
St. Peter goes on, "Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three
Here is the first one: What days of the week begin with the letter
Second: How many seconds are there in a year"?
Third: What is God's first name"?
Forrest leaves to think the questions over. He returns the next day
and sees St. Peter, who waves him up and says, "Now that you have
had a chance to think the questions over, tell me your
Forrest says, "Well, the first one how many days in the week begin
with the letter "T"? Shucks, that one's easy. That'd be Today
The Saint's eyes open wide and he exclaims, Forrest, that's not what
I was thinking, but you do have a point and I guess I didn't
specify, so I'll give you credit for that answer." "How about the
next one?" asks St. Peter. "How many seconds in a year"?
"Now that one's harder, says Forrest, but I thunk and thunk about
that and I guess the only answer can be twelve."
Astounded, St. Peter says, "Twelve! Forrest, how in Heavens name
could you come up with twelve seconds in a year"?
Forrest says, "Shucks, there's gotta be twelve: January 2nd,
February 2nd, March 2nd ... "
"Hold it, St. Peter interrupts, I see where you're going with this,
and I see your point, though that wasn't quite what I had in
mind either, but I'll have to give you credit for that one too."
Let's go on with the next and final question. Can you tell me God's
"Sure," Forrest replied. "It's Andy".
"Andy!!" exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated St. Peter. "Ok, I
can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two
questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name
of Andy as the first name of God"?
"Shucks, that was the easiest one of all", Forrest replied. I learnt
it from a song. "ANDY WALKS WITH ME, ANDY TALKS WITH ME, ANDY TELLS
ME I AM HIS OWN".
St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates and said, "RUN, FORREST, RUN".
Charge of Self
powerlessness lightens our burden. Coming to believe that we
are not responsible for solving anyone else's problems or making
anyone else's decisions frees us to pursue our own dreams and
aspirations with greater concentration. But it's not
easy to give up our control of other people. It's how we thought we
were supposed to live. Their burdens had become ours.
We surely have lots more time to take care of ourselves now that we
have begun letting others be in charge of themselves. But we have to
watch out for slipping back into our old controlling behaviors.
Ingrained habits are hard to change. We have to learn how to savor
the extra hours in our day now that we only have ourselves to
control. As our accomplishments multiply, we'll find that letting
others take care of themselves will be easier.
I am in charge of myself. What do I want to accomplish? I can begin
Copyright © Karen
The familiarity of isolation is both haunting and inviting. In our
separateness we contemplate the joys of shared hours with others
while seeking the freedom from the pain that likewise hovers on the
heels of intimate relationships. The question eternally whispering
around our souls is, "Do I dare let you in, to share my space, to
know my heart's longing, to feel my fears?" Only when we trust to
say yes will we find the peace our souls long for.
Passage through the doors that separates us, frees us to change, to
grow, to love ourselves and others. We must plant our feet in the
soil of shared lives to quiet our longing.
Copyright © Karen
I must love the
questions themselves...like locked rooms, full of treasures to which
my blind and groping key does not yet fit.
We have many questions
and few solutions. We are sometimes faced with problems that seem to
defy fixing. When an answer finally appears, we are not left to rest
on our laurels as new questions and personal mysteries challenge us.
Happiness is really to be found flowing in between the lines of
life, in the weaving of our day-to-day tapestry. When we learn the
sweetness of yielding and non-resistance, we steady and enrich our
It has been said the pain is not in the change but instead in the
resistance to the change. Our life continues to be a series of ups
and downs, questions, answers, and more questions. It is made up of
change. When we resist change, we resist life itself. Learning to
relax and enjoy the experience is the key to joy.
Today, let me know I am always protected and on a right course.
Copyright © Salley
Coleman and Maria Porter 1994
I Am What I
I exist as I am, that
If no other in the world be aware, I sit content,
And if each and all be aware, I sit content.
When we're feeling low
and we're afraid we aren't good enough, we can practice
self-affirmation active, positive self-acceptance. We can affirm,
"I am what I am."
Daily doses of "I am what I am" therapy is an antidote to the poison
of perfectionism. Many of us grew up believing that approval
depended on what we did. And we could never do enough, good enough.
So today, we still worry that we aren't acceptable, that we are
never finished, presentable, good enough.
As we practice self-acceptance, we let go of that old anxiety. The
more we tell ourselves we are fine just the way we are, the less
worry we have about what others think. We become less
self-conscious, more relaxed. We discover that people like us just
the way we are.
All day long, whether I am conscious of it or not, I will receive
positive messages that say, "I am perfect today in every way."
"The Color of Light"
by Perry Tilleraas 1988
When You Can't Smile
On those days when nothing's right
When sorrow seems to be your plight
Give a thought to me, I'm always there
I'll lend a smile, you know I care!
If happiness seems far away
And dark clouds cover up the day
I'll send you something you can't find
A lovely thought to ease your mind
Life's journey may not be so smooth
But friends can lighten up your mood
Reach out to me, you'll find me there
When you feel lost and life's unfair
I'll lend this smile and helping hand
Knowing you will understand
One day I'll be reaching out to you
When it's my turn for feeling blue
So on this journey that we share
I'll keep you close in thought and prayer
May angels guard you all the while
But let me know, when you can't smile.
Copyright © Karen
Shaw Matteson 2001
Roots nourish, give us
life and bind us safely to earth. Plant them well.
All trees have
different root systems. The pine grows quickly, with shallow roots
that spread in every direction. A maple is a slow-growing tree,
whose roots run deeper, seeking out moisture far into the earth.
Both root systems give life, but when the weather turns stormy and
the wind howls through the branches, the maple, with its deeper
roots, will hold fast. Though the pine grows faster and needs only
surface moisture, it cannot withstand the storm as well.
We often want things immediately. We want to play the piano, but
only if we can learn it fast. We want others to love us right away,
or we'll give up on them. If something we're doing doesn't go just
so right from the start, we give up.
But the permanent things in life take time to develop. If we want
our relationships, our skills, our accomplishments, to resist the
storms we all encounter, we must allow time for them to grow and
deepen within us, and marvel, in the meantime, at how much we can
learn from the world around us.
What deep roots am I setting down right now?
Wonders of the World
A group of Geography
students were asked to list what they considered to be the Seven
Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the
following got the most votes:
1. Egypt's Great Pyramids
2. Taj Mahal
4. Panama Canal
5. Empire State Building
6. St. Peter's Basilica
7. China's Great Wall
While gathering the votes, the teacher noticed one student, a quiet
girl, hadn't turned in her paper. So she asked the girl if she was
having trouble with her list. The quiet girl replied, "Yes, a
little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so
many." The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and
maybe we can help." The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the
Seven Wonders of the World are:
1. to touch
2. to taste
3. to see
4. to hear
5. to run
6. to laugh
7. and to love
It is far too easy for us to look at the exploits of man and refer
to them as "wonders" ...
May you be reminded today of those things which are truly wondrous.
If the only prayer you
say in your whole life is "thank you", that would suffice.
"An attitude of
gratitude," we sometimes hear, will help us on our path. There
certainly are enough things for us to worry about, grieve over, and
complain about. They have their place. But as we mature and no
longer use addictive escapes, we learn that joy can exist side by
side with grief.
Gratitude is a tonic for our self-pity. Saying "thank you" actually
opens us to receive more of life's blessings which sit there waiting
for us to notice. In a pleasant moment we can look around and
say, "Aren't we lucky!" That's a kind of prayer, and it connects us
with our Higher Power. No matter how painful or worrisome a day may
be, we can be thankful for our growth. Gratitude is so simple we
sometimes dismiss it while looking for a more complicated answer in
our lives. We can say "thank you" for all the simple things like
trees, cool air, food to eat, and love between people. It is a risk
to be so grateful. Who will be in control? Perhaps God.
God, thank you for all
that comes to me without my efforts.
Touchstones by Anonymous 1986
In our quiet moments
we dream of the gifts that accompany being loved and imagine
ourselves as always filled with laughter, a glowing warmth, a serene
perspective. But how short-sighted our vision. Love promises us
growth as well, and growth may mean a loved one's choice to depart
for a time, or a struggle for agreement about future directions.
Tears and fears are commonplace when we enter the realm of love.
Let's not forget that all experiences, even the dreaded ones, are
meant for our good. We are never given more than we can handle, and
we will be given a balanced set of circumstances. A measure of joy
will follow a period of sadness. As experience has shown, quick on
the heels of the fear of loss is the realization that in the
spiritual realm we're secure and all is well.
How grateful we might become that love offers us so much to grow on.
From "Worthy of Love"
by Karen Casey
Once upon a
time . . .
Once upon a time there was an island where all the feelings lived;
happiness, sadness, knowledge, and all the others, including love.
One day it was announced to all of the feelings that the island was
going to sink to the bottom of the ocean. So all the feelings
prepared their boats to leave. Love was the only one that stayed.
She wanted to preserve the island paradise until the last possible
moment. When the island was almost totally under, love decided it
was time to leave.
She began looking for someone to ask for help.
Just then Richness was passing by in a grand boat. Love asked,
"Richness, can I come with you on your boat?" Richness
answered, " I'm sorry, but there is a lot of silver and gold on my
boat and there would be no room for you anywhere."
Then Love decided to ask Vanity who was passing by in a beautiful
vessel. Love cried out, "Vanity, help me please." "I
can't help you", Vanity said. "You are all wet and will damage
my beautiful boat."
Next, Love saw Sadness passing by. Love said, "Sadness, please
let me go with you." Sadness answered, "Love, I'm sorry, but I
just need to be alone now."
Then Love saw Happiness. Love cried out, "Happiness, please
take me with you." But Happiness was so overjoyed that he
didn't hear Love calling to him.
Love began to cry. Then she heard a voice say, "Come Love, I
will take you with me." It was an elder. Love felt so
blessed and overjoyed that she forgot to ask the elder his name.
When they arrived on land the elder went on his way. Love
realized how much she owed the elder.
Love then found Knowledge and asked, "Who was it that helped me?"
"It was Time", Knowledge answered. "But why did Time help me
when no one else would?", Love asked.
Knowledge smiled and, with deep wisdom and sincerity, answered,
"Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is."
There is an intuitive
core at the depth of your being.
Deep within ourselves,
we know everything. We haven't yet learned to tap this inner source
of wisdom, but now that we have found this spiritual program,
lessons will be forthcoming. This means that each of us is fully
capable of understanding the best way to attain a serene life.
Within our souls lie all questions and their answers. Our
self-centeredness commonly blocks the information that's trying to
rise to our awareness. However, when we can keep our ego small, our
humility large, we'll understand clearly why we are here, what we
need to know, what we have to do.
When we are frustrated, it's hard to believe that we have the wisdom
we need within us. We race from one meager option to another,
finding no solution. But if we still the mind, the information we
seek will bubble forth. Hard to believe? Not once we've tried it.
Hard to remember? Not with enough practice.
I am wise. The knowledge I need today will rise to my mind's eye.
Copyright © Karen
No Doubt The
Universe Is Unfolding As It Should
When we begin to think
all is wrong and out of control, when we think our troubles are
insurmountable, perhaps we should stop, acknowledge there is power
greater than self, consider those blessings we do have, realize we
never were in control, find out what part we have played in our own
troubles, turn over all things outside of our control, become
responsible for what we are able to change and then get on with our
Richard G. Shuster
There are two approaches to healing.
One is to find whatever has been weakened and damaged by illness,
then repair and strengthen it.
Another is to find whatever remains viable and healthy, and support
and strengthen it. Since it is one body, fortifying one aspect
brings healing to all the rest.
So too, the healing of the spirit. One path is to grab the
weakness by its horns and fix up your act. Another is to focus
your energies on the spiritual resources that are working well.
Since it is one soul, when one area is enriched, the rest is
elevated with it.
So, too, in repairing whatever is amiss in your world. When you see
others are not doing their job, important work is being mishandled
and valuable opportunities passed up, it is not a time for anger or
despair. It is a time for you to strengthen many times over
the good work you are doing in your own sphere.
And since we are all one, the energy you invest in your little
corner of the world pays off in every other portion as well.
A Daily Dose of
Wisdom from the Rebbe
words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman
13 Tevet, 5762 * December 28, 2001
Courage is like love;
it must have hope for nourishment.
Courage never operates
in a vacuum; we are always courageous about something. And we need
to believe that there will be some consequence to our acts of
bravery. We are looking at the long term for some kind of salvation
for ourselves and for others.
Love, too, needs a sense of future, time to develop and flower. Only
passion lives for the moment, and passion, like the flame-red rose,
often doesn't last out the year.
So love and courage are similar and often work together for our own
good and the good of others.
In our life's travel we prize love and courage as we gain more
wisdom and serenity. We come to believe in the long term and in
things that endure.
We know we can't change in a day, but with love and courage, and the
hope on which they depend, we can do wonders.
I believe in my courage to change day by day.
a Higher Power Changes Everything
Faith in a Higher
Power doesn't come easily for many people, particularly those for
whom the past has been painful. Acting as if there is a God is the
best many people can do at first. And that's good enough.
What's to be gained from believing in a Higher Power? Peace of mind
comes first. Knowing that we're not alone, that we have a companion
to share every burden with, makes any struggle easier to handle.
But belief doesn't mean that we'll no longer have problems, that
we'll be guaranteed happiness. Life is ebb and flow, good and bad,
up and down.
Nothing has to destroy us, though, and that's where our faith comes
in With our knowledge that God is present always, we can move
through troubling experiences, confident that we'll survive
confident, in fact, that we'll grow from the experience.
With my Higher Power's help, I will get hope and relief today in all
my experiences, no matter how troubling.
Copyright © Karen
a Faith Lift
"The journey to a new
way of life physically, mentally, and spiritually includes the
joy of rediscovering a faith that had been lost."
Louise A. Rice
What does it mean to
have faith? How does having faith make our lives different?
Having faith doesn't make us into totally new people. Our
pattern of speech may not reveal our newfound faith, and our daily
routine may remain much the same.
But there are subtle differences. We tense up less often.
We seldom experience excessive fear over how something will turn
out. We enjoy more energy. We are more at ease with the
people in our lives. We come to believe that all things are
working out for the best, and we trust that we will be given the
information we need to make decisions or new choices when the time
Faith gives us serenity and frees up many hours that were previously
consumed by tension. We can fill these hours creatively when
we trust the outcome.
Surely this is the program's best gift. I will let my faith
work in my life today. Nothing has to upset me.
Copyright © Karen
Why pick thorns, when
you can pick roses?
We've all known
unhappy souls who seem to spend their whole lives collecting
insults, searching for proof that the world is a terrible place.
"What did he mean by that?", they wonder suspiciously. Expecting the
worst, that's usually just what they find.
Bad things happen, but something positive can be found in almost
every situation. Sometimes it takes close looking, but it's there if
we're willing to apply faith, time, and elbow grease.
Life is like a jigsaw puzzle; we see only one little piece at a
time. Who knows what wondrous things may come from today's
misfortune? Mold growing in a pan of water turned out to be
penicillin. A drug invented for use in dentistry was found to
control schizophrenia. And the same rain that ruins our shoes grows
our food. Unhappiness, misery, insult, death, and destruction come
to us all. But so do goodness, beauty, decency, love, and comfort.
We find what we look for.
Today help me be patient with bad news and annoyance. Help me pick
the roses instead of the thorns.
Copyright © Body,
Mind, and Spirit by Anonymous 1990
An Inside Job
The trouble is not
that we are never happy - it is that happiness is so episodical.
Happiness is our
birthright. The decision to be happy is ours to make, every day,
when confronted with any experience. Too many of us grew up
believing that life needed to be a certain way for us to be happy.
We looked for the right lover, the right job, the right clothes. We
looked outside of ourselves for the key to happiness. In time, we
even looked to alcohol, drugs, food perhaps to no avail.
Happiness lies within. We must encourage it to spring forth. But
first we need to believe that happiness is fully within our power.
We must trust that the most difficult circumstances won't keep it
from us when we have learned to tap the source within.
Life is a gift we are granted moment by moment. Let us be in awe of
the wonder of it, then revel in it. We can marvel at creation for a
moment and realize how special we are to be participants. Happiness
will overcome us if we let it. We can best show our gratitude for
the wonder of this gift by smiling within and without.
That I am here is a wonderful mystery to which joy is the natural
response. It is no accident that I am here.
Copyright © Karen
Several times my
daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the
daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a
two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. "I will come next
Tuesday," I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next
Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove
When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my
grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road was
invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world
except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive
My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time,
"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then
I'm heading for home!" I assured her. "I was hoping you'd take me
over to the garage to pick up my car."
"How far will we have to drive?"
"Just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this."
After several minutes, I had to ask, "Where are we going? This isn't
the way to the garage!"
"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of
"Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around."
"It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself
if you miss this experience."
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I
saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a
hand-lettered sign that read, "Daffodil Garden."
We got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and I followed
Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I
looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It
looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it
down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted in
majestic, swirling patterns-great ribbons and swaths of deep orange,
white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each
different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled
and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were
five acres of flowers.
"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn.
"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property.
That's her home."
Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and
modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked ! up to the house.
On the patio, we saw a poster.
"Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline.
The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read.
The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two
feet, and very little else."
The third answer was, "Began in 1958."
There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a
I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty
years before, had begun one bulb at a time to bring her vision
of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. Still, just planting
one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world. This
unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She
had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and
The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest
principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our
goals and desires one step at a time often just one baby-step at a
time and learning to love the doing, learning to use the
accumulation of time.
When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily
effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We
can change the world.
"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I
have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five
or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time'
through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to
My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct
"Start tomorrow," she said.
It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way
to make living a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret
is to only ask, "How can I put this to use today?"
With thanks to friends who have sent these wonderful thoughts.