Good morning, everyone ~

All seems quiet in the neighborhood at this early hour of the day (2:30a.m.). It is an illusion, I know. Likely, and likely somewhere nearby, someone is arguing with someone else. The environment of today’s world has shaped every cell of our being. Bathed in constant threat from multiple sources, our entire being has been reshaped, inside and out. Call it ‘stress’ and you’ll instantly grasp that concept. It’s the root of every argument, I suspect.

Because of relentless stress, our stomachs churn with acid … our sleep patterns are disrupted … our diets, habits, desires, self-control … everything has changed. Which has changed how we behave. Which has changed how we so often misinterpret one another. Perhaps we find ourselves crying more frequently. Or, apt to snap at those we love, even when we don’t mean to, and when we do. Or, look for danger where we used to feel safe.

We must refocus our attention if we are to bring a sense of health and well-being back into our lives. It won’t happen instantly. It takes time to reshape every cell in our body, every ‘molecule’ of thought, our feelings — from ‘stress’ to a point-of-balance. It won’t make all the bad stuff disappear or magically transform into nothing but sweetness and light. The change it will make is only inside our own self … first! From there, it spreads outward. We do want to feel happy, safe, at peace … don’t we?

“I keep hoping tomorrow will be a better day,” my sister recently wrote in her email to me. Yes! I do too, and perhaps so do you. The day is made up of moments. We live moment-by-moment. There might not be anything we can do to create “a better day” other than do our best one moment at a time … and gently forgive ourselves for any moments we do not or cannot.

Remember in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” how Dorothy was all alone in the Witch’s castle, separated from her friends and even her beloved dog, Toto? How frightened she felt! And yet, how elated she felt a short while later as Toto led her friends in a valiant rescue effort! And later — happy to be going back to Kansas and Uncle Henry and Aunt Em; yet, so very sad to be leaving behind those she had come to love.

Nothing is ever anything but a dichotomy of opposites. Every day is made up of moments; no two are exactly the same. Some sad or frightening; others, glad and hopeful. If we cannot create or discover an entire day of “better”, maybe we can at least count how many good moments each day holds. Those moments don’t get nearly enough of our attention.

I’m glad, then, to announce something good:  our Group sessions have been approved by the Program Manager at the Senior Center to resume our weekly meetings. 🎉 🎶 🎼 (How’s THAT for an improved moment?) We have been assigned our same day/time/space: Fridays, 1-5:00, the Dharma Room, starting August 12th. I am still physically limited in stamina/strength/ mobility/flexibility; however, every cell in my being is responding positively to this happy anticipation.

Having a goal to strive toward is once again proving to be an elixir for the brain-body partnership as well as the mind-spirit partnership. Setting a goal in the near Future is beneficial to this current moment in time, and makes it all the more worthwhile when we achieve that goal.

It won’t stop the madness unfolding in the world; surely, though, it will assist in transforming some of the chaos of our own thoughts/feelings. Bit-by-bit, cells reshape. Moment-by-moment, we can experience a sense of well-being despite outer stressors.

Last week I posted that I’ll be hosting two small-group sessions here at my home: Tuesday, 9th August, 1-3:00; and Saturday, 13th August, 1-3:00. That schedule remains intact. This allows a chance to attend a Pain Management Support Group session for those who cannot attend the SenCen Group session on Friday, 12th August, 1-5:00.

Setting future goals. A grand and happy Group gathering, and equally grand-n-happy small-group sessions. All recovery is done in celebratory baby-steps … moment-by-moment.

And there sat Dorothy, back home in storm-ravaged, poverty stricken Kansas … Toto curled in her loving arms, surrounded by familiar faces and shadows of new ones left behind on the other side of the rainbow … discovering in a flashing moment that what’s most important in Life is love, loving and being loved.

Outside matters do shape us, right down to the very cells of our being. Whether that outside matter looks like a fairy-tale wonderland, an Emerald City, or a stark-n-dark castle atop the highest mountain, or a poor dirt-farm community of hard challenges and little joy — it’s love, loving and being loved that brings health and happiness flowing into every cell of our being.

One thing I’ve noticed — everyone needs a sanctuary. A place to go where we can park our words of worry-n-woe, release our fears-n-tears, express our angers, admit our confusions/short-comings/failures. We dump it all there; then, walk away feeling “better day” hopeful. Toto was Dorothy’s sanctuary. Her safe place.

Have you ever wondered about the sanctuary itself? How is it possible for a sanctuary to keep being dumped upon and yet remain capable of restoring peace/hope/a sense of “better day”? How did Toto manage to stay so faithful/loving/loyal/brave? Perhaps the answer is: The sanctuary does not hold onto the dump-stuff. It does nothing with it, including storing it.

Can we each be a sanctuary for one another? Can we be the place where another can dump and walk away feeling “better day” better? Can we learn to do nothing with the dump-stuff? Can we learn how to be our own sanctuary, instead of seeking an escape from it all? I think we can. I know we should! I’m in the process of learning how to be my own sanctuary, and I promise to teach others how to do likewise. This is what I know thus far:

Be honest with myself about how I feel, what I think.

Observe how I feel and what I think in the moments following that honest admission.

Deep breath, and with a long, slow breath out

(as if blowing through a straw),

let all that dump-stuff go.

Let the dump-stuff go. The sanctuary remains intact. The sanctuary doesn’t have to go anywhere. You are the sanctuary you’ve been looking for. It’s right there, always ready to acknowledge the honest dumping of stuff. Always able to let it go.

Both Dorothy and Toto got away. Both Dorothy and Toto came back … and they came back to even more work to do than before they got away. Getting away turned out to be more trouble than pleasure at times. Other times, it was more pleasure than challenge. Moments are like that; yes, they are! Each remained a sanctuary for self and each other.

What have you learned, my Dorothy/Toto friends? Perhaps if asked that question today, Dorothy’s answer would be: “Let a moment be just a moment, not forever.”

We will have much to share at our Group session on August 12th, and in the small-group sessions on the 9th and 13th. I look forward to hearing what you have learned during our hiatus, and most especially to feeling “home” amongst my Tribe!

Stay safe. Stay in the new moment. Stay an important place of sanctuary in someone’s Life, especially in your own.

Gentle hugs/much love,