Integrity

The integrity of this flower is easy to see. I see its wholeness. In nature, I see integrity all around us. With us humans, integrity is more complex. I often have choices in many things and situations. How do I keep my own integrity, particularly in regard to those things that are important to me and act consistently, to be honest about who I am in own life?

In the past, I stayed in situations, relationships, and even jobs longer than made sense. I was not fully aware that I was selling myself short when I was doing that. When we need work to live, that is very understandable. However, I also became very good at adapting myself to relationships that were not the best for me.

Recently with the help of my source, friends, and family, I healed an important part of my past. In doing so, I also became more aware of what I can and can NOT make work for me in my life. What I denied in the past about a situation, I can NOT lie to myself about anymore. My own integrity and clarity about what I need and feel I can not pretend to NOT hear anymore. This is helping me to let go of situations that go against my own values and beliefs.

“Nothing is, at last, sacred, but the integrity of your own mind.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I have integrity, I find it is also easier for me to respect others. When I acted with less integrity, I did not feel that good about myself. It is hard to be respectful of others when you are stuck in your own self-loathing. Often you aren’t even aware of it because so many other people around you are doing the same thing. This did not give me an excuse. I had to wake up and start standing up for what was important to me. I had to learn to know myself even if that meant facing some old demons.

I have choices about how I choose to show up in the world. Every day I must choose to live in integrity with every choice I make. I have also learned to forgive myself for not always choosing well. Old patterns die hard. I am also learning to watch and wait longer before I act. At times, I risk and jump into something new. I take risks or I will be living in fear about every choice I make. That is not living either. I must maintain a balance.

I try to have more compassion for others and myself because most of us are truly in the same boat on this planet. As humans I know we aren’t perfect, that way I can cut slack for everyone including myself.

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Flowers, Nature’s Beauty Queens

dogwood tree's flowers

dogwood tree’s flowers

I love this flowering tree. I remember the first time I saw dogwoods in the spring, I lived in the eastern USA. I was thrilled.  The flowers on a dogwood are like special butterflies on trees. The white dogwoods are lovely, but too me, the coral dogwood is heavenly. Once dogwoods lose their flowers, they become very ordinary small shade trees. I am thankful for dogwoods and particularly for the flowers. When I moved to the west coast, I was a  little sad because I thought there would be no dogwoods here. The first spring here, I was proven wrong, and I was joyful.

dogwood flowers

Dogwood flowers close up

snowball bush

snowball bush flowers

I like these flowers because they are fun. If you ever had a snowball fight, sometimes a hard snowball was almost like a rock. This flower would make a gentle snowball fight. For peace loving people, it is a kinder, warmer, more beautiful version of a snowball.

Here is an interesting TED talk about flowers from  Jonathan Drori.   It includes gorgeous photos of flowers and explains about how flowers deceive and attract pollinators.

"angel plants"

“angel plants”

I call these “angel plants” (which I know is not the correct name) because the entire bush when it is full of these flowers, to me, it looks like angels’ wings.

Columbine flowers

Columbine flowers

Flowers are so important to our lives. They tend to make me feel happy, are great as gifts, some smell great.  Although many people have allergies (at times, even me), somehow seeing flowers makes the suffering worth it to see amazing natural beauty. And flower’s nectar feeds birds and insects including our friends, bees, which we humans in turn get honey from.

flowering plants

Rose garden with flowering trees and plants

This is a small portion of a local rose garden, even before most of the roses have bloomed.  The combination of colors delighted my eyes. As usual, my simple digital camera did not do it justice.

“The earth laughs in flowers.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daphne bush

Daphne bush

This is a new flowering plant to me. I have already sung its praises in my blog from mid February. It blooms early (this year earlier than normal). I have never smelled a more fragrant flower. It even outshines most roses, even those not grown in hot-houses. Thank you Daphne and all flowers for all that you do to adorn our world.

“The Amen of nature is always a flower.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

What is (are) your favorite flower(s)?

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A Spirit of Generosity

For me generosity is about giving. It can be financially, as well as giving from the heart (no money involved).

open hand

open hand of giving

I have always deeply respected people like Paul Newman who founded his Newman’s Own Foundation in 1982. Since it started the organization has given over $400 million to thousands of charities around the world. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are other people with wealth whose philanthropy and generosity for the whole world has been and continues to be phenomenal. Their generosity is NOT about controlling politics, rather it is about truly helping people in dire straights or changing bad situations. I am very grateful for their generosity.

I do NOT fit into the Newman’s, Gates’, or Buffet’s category of wealth! However, I can give from the heart.

heart from necklace

Giving from the heart

What does that mean in action?  I can give an hour of my time to an organization that I know is helping people. For example, I  read with children for an hour a week at a public school. Or I help a neighbor or friend who needs a ride to the grocery store or to a doctor’s appointment. It is simple. I can CARE. We can CARE. If we are able, we can give a little of our time.

“True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possessions you can share.”

– Suze Orman

I’ve noticed as a people we seem to have much greed for stuff in the USA. In the past I’ve gotten caught up in it, too. When we buy more, then we have to work harder and longer hours and have less free time because we have to pay for all the stuff we thought we needed! In the USA we have been speaking and writing about this very thing since the 1830s. Then it was called materialism; today we call it consumerism.

“There are other measures of self-respect for a man/ woman than the number of clean shirts he/she puts on every day.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I know I’m tired of it. Stuff and buying the latest whatever does NOT do much for me any more. I respect that we all have choices, and that is everyone’s right to buy what they want. I’m wondering whether the tide of buy, buy, buy is turning for some or even a lot of Americans?  Have we switched that tide of buy more to GIVE more of our time to others, including animals, and to our own families?

Please take this poll and be heard.  Is the spirit of generosity alive and well?

Thank you for giving your opinion.

 

 

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Our Beautiful World, Including US

What stops you from being willing to get to know people from other cultures and ethnicities? Or do you have ideas how we can be more accepting of ALL people?

coral tree

coral color tree

Nature and the beautiful changes that our trees display each fall has always given me great joy.

tree from fall

multi color tree

What disturbs me is that we often don’t seem to see ourselves as beautiful as the world we live in, no matter what culture we come from.  While I was teaching people from all over the world of all ages for 23 years, I learned how beautiful we ALL are with all our DIFFERENCES. Our beauty comes from each of our spirits and how we treat each other and ourselves with kindness and respect.

kamie photo

from Ghana, Ireland, Spain, Jamaica, Cherokee Indian, and
Seminole Indian

If we do not accept ourselves, could this contribute to making us unable to accept people who look different from ourselves?

mom and son contrast

from England?, Ireland? Nigeria, and Osage Indian

One of the oldest quotes which appeared  on the wall of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece more than 2000 years ago was: “Know thyself“”

Learning to do this requires compassion for ourselves, as well as self-reflection, which we can do with discipline and humility, one day at a time. And when the going gets rough,  as we tell the truth about ourselves and our lives, we may have to reach out for help. Knowing yourself is worth it and changes your life!

What are some other sources of our lack of acceptance of people from other cultures?

children from Iran

from Iran, Turkey, England, and France,

From the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology the idea of ethnocentrism might be another explanation.

“Ethnocentrism is a belief that the norms, values, ideology, customs, and traditions of ones own culture or subculture are superior to those characterizing other cultural settings. The term was coined by William Graham Sumner in his Folkways (1906) and has long served as a cornerstone in the social analysis of culture. ”

girls from Japan and USA

from Japan, England, France,  and Switzerland

I ask myself, what emotion encourages some one to be ethnocentric? I think it could be the emotion, FEAR, which can be helpful to us at certain times, but not when we are dealing with people who just look different from ourselves.

women from Mexico, Somalia

from Mexico, El Salvador,
 and Somalia

“Fear defeats more people than any one thing in the world.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Also about fear Emerson said:

“He/She who is not everyday conquering some FEAR has not learned the secret of life.”

Thank you, Emerson!

What stops you from being willing to get to know people from other cultures and ethnicities? Or do you have ideas how we can be more accepting of ALL people? Please share them.

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