Thursday, July 21, 2016

Soul Beauty

Is there really anything in the world that can compare with a beautiful soul, the kind of soul that  immediately lights up a room?  Even if you combined all the most beautiful sunsets, the most beautiful flowers, and the most beautiful art in the world, they still wouldn't hold a candle to the person who radiates warmth, love and compassion to everyone around them.

What does it mean to have a beautiful soul?  A person that possesses a beautiful soul has the ability to see what is beyond the surface and call up from the depths another person's inner beauty; they possess a kind, caring spirit that seeks to heal and not destroy, that empathizes but doesn't pity.  Beautiful souls understand the huge impact of simple things, like listening, a kind word, and a gentle touch.  They are more than willing to share what they have with others, and are on the front lines in a time of need. 

The person who has a beautiful soul can take a hard look at the violence and ugliness of the world and instead of despairing, finds a way to make it better.  They possess monumental strengths - strength of character, strength of integrity, strength of will and strength of dignity.  Beautiful souls withhold judgment and embrace all the unique differences that make us all the same, without regard to gender, skin color, religion, background, nationality, age or income, because they know those superficial things are only a small part of what makes us human.

How much better off would the world be if more people had beautiful souls?  They are rare treasures that most take for granted because beautiful souls are not motivated by fame or fortune or notoriety.  What they do, they do out of love and compassion for others.

"For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you will never walk alone..."
~Sam Levenson, In One Era and Out the Other, 1973

Monday, July 11, 2016

37 Days of Beauty

The 37 Days of Beauty project has been on my list since I first started on this journey of living a more positive life.  Consciously looking for beauty in unexpected places is a small reminder of why life is worth living every day; beauty helps dispel darkness and negativity. 

In the past few days, this has become abundantly clear to me.  When I heard the news on Friday about the shooting of police officers in Dallas, preceded by the shootings in Louisiana and Michigan, my heart sank and I immediately felt down and depressed. I'm an emotional empath and I feel things from my environment very deeply, so for that reason I don't regularly watch the news; I can literally feel bad news in a physical way.  The one thing that stuck out in my mind as the saddest was the killer's statement, "I just wanted to kill white people".  He had no conflict with those individuals whatsoever, other than their occupation and the color of their skin.

On my way home that day I stopped by an art museum.  I felt compelled to surround myself with beautiful things so that I could dispense with the darkness that I felt. I walked through every gallery and stopped to look at every painting. I drank in all of the colors and minute details, read the moods of the subjects and marveled at paintings so lifelike I felt as though I could step right into the picture. The museum was having a special event to advertise three new exhibits.  One exhibit was by an African artist, one was by an artist from the Middle East and one was by a local artist.  Each artist portrayed beauty in their own unique way, with sculpture, colorful fabrics, photography, videography and huge canvases covered in paint. It was a celebration of multiple cultures, of people and places that make up our planet.

The tragedies and ensuing racial tensions also inspired a strong desire within me to spread peace and love in whatever way I could.  Surrounding and recharging myself with beauty made me want to radiate beauty to others.  Since I've been spending a lot of time contemplating on my passions, I realized that my natural gift and passion for helping others is one I have been running away from for a while. So I volunteered at an urban mission that feeds the poor and homeless and provides clothes, social services and spiritual teaching. I made sandwiches and helped serve food to people coming through the line. I gave out hugs to people who were smelly and bedraggled. On the surface the scene may not have been very beautiful with its line of poor, hungry souls, outfitted in dirty, mismatched clothes, uncombed hair and often missing teeth.  But during the church service I looked around and looked past the poverty. What I saw was a beautiful kaleidoscope of skin colors in every possible shade, from the midnight dark skin of a Sudanese man, to the warm caramel of a Latino woman, to the milk white of one of the children. I saw untold stories of those who were often the victims of circumstance or mental illness; people who were somebody's child, brother, sister, parent; people who had much to offer if anyone bothered to ask.  Seeing all of those people together, rich and poor, clean and dirty, black and white sitting elbow to elbow with one another was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen and gave me hope for our nation plagued with racial violence.

Right now I feel as if it is more important that ever to seek out beauty. It's not a way of turning my back on the ugliness of the current climate, but rather a way to cope with it so that the negativity doesn't drag me down. Beauty inspires me to spread more beauty to others, whether it is by showing love towards those different from me, standing up against hateful speech, or just spreading messages of peace. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Still Learning

Every day I learn something new, but some days I relearn an old lesson.  I have noticed that sometimes when I get out of line, the universe sends me signs to point me back in the right direction.  That happened today, and since becoming more consciously attuned to my intuition and environment, I sat up and paid attention.

I've been at my current job for about 6 months.  While it's far from being a challenging or personally rewarding job, it did happen to come along at a time when I needed to slow down and get my feet planted on solid ground.  However, I've been having a problem with one of my co-workers.  Not an outright conflict, but just an undercurrent of discord due mainly to some personality clashing. I'm very laid back, and she's very rigid; I'm more of a people person and she's very analytical.  Sometimes the way she says and does things grates on my nerves because I perceive them as being harsh and insensitive, but to her credit, sometimes I am overly sensitive and read too much into small matters.

When I arrived at work this morning, she had left a note on my desk asking me to see her first thing in regards to an email that was sent out yesterday.  She had already followed up that same email with a personal visit to my desk to ask if I had any questions, to which I responded that I did not.  So when I saw the note, I felt as though she was on a power trip and trying to beat a dead horse.  Instead of going straight to her, I went to my supervisor to vent my frustrations. Six months of pent up frustration came tumbling out and in the course of the conversation, I learned why my co-worker does what she does, the history of some incidents that occurred in our department and better insight into her personality. After my supervisor and I finished talking, I went to my co-worker with the note and was mentally prepared to discuss our conflict with a level head and without resentment. As it turns out, all she needed was my signature on the email. I felt like a big fool.

Not only was I "making a mountain out of a molehill" over the email, but I caught myself thinking on the way to work negative thoughts about my co-worker and my job.  I learned long ago that whatever your mindset is becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you think bad things will happen, they will, and vice versa. Essentially I was setting myself up for a conflict that didn't exist because of two main reasons:  first I allowed myself to let negative thoughts creep in, and second I didn't address the personality issue sooner.

As soon as I sat back down at my desk, the Bible verse that is delivered to my inbox every day came from Matthew 7:7:  "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  The answer to my problem with my co-worker was there all along, I just didn't bother to ask for clarity. Instead, I let the seed of negativity be planted and then by not addressing it, I let that seed grow and thrive.

Wisdom comes from learning from your mistakes. Hopefully this is one lesson that I won't have to repeat.