It is the season of giving and receiving, and both are blessings that build upon each other. Giving often comes naturally, but receiving a gift is incredibly humbling. In many religions and cultures, we are taught that receiving is a form of selfishness. We may question why we are receiving such a gift, or feel unworthy of the presentation. Learning to receive is a difficult lesson to learn. Because of our discomfort in receiving, we offer dismissive responses such as, "You shouldn't have!" or "This is too much!" When we are stunted in expressing our gratitude, we deny the giver their value. Expressing gratitude means allowing the other person to feel the complete joy of giving. There is much vulnerability when we yield to another. We may feel beholden to respond with an equitable present. Reacting out of obligation actually takes away the blessing. Simply showing appreciation completes the cycle of giving and receiving, and it adds a dimension of trust in th


Greed has such a negative connotation and emits a very low vibe. We immediately associate greed with money, and from an early age, we are taught to treasure our money. Wealth is not necessarily a bad thing. Earning money to meet our basic needs and a few luxuries fuels our independence and also provides a sense of security. When we fear a lack or have extreme financial insecurities, we tend to hoard our money and possessions. Those who have gone without, or grew up during the Depression Era, may have ingrained suffering equated with financial resources. The body remembers the feeling of scarcity or loss, and it is difficult to think in terms of abundance. Those concerned with social status may be preoccupied with materialism, which is a close relative to greed. Greed is not limited to money or to an individual person. We see greed in societies worldwide: Someone may take the credit for the work done by a group.  Someone may make false business expense claims.  Someone may take g

Holiday Grief

There is so much pressure to make the holidays the most wonderful and magical time. While we feel the energy of the season, for some, our body remembers the pain from years past.  We drift into activities that are pain points and triggers such as songs, smells, and even nostalgic ornaments.  For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, even the loss of a pet, the holidays can be difficult. Some may be revisiting the loss of a loved one's anniversary or birthday. There is a void at the table where a chair was once filled, only accentuating the loss. We have every intention of embracing the love and joy of the season, but the mind and heart hold contradictory feelings. Grief does not take the holidays off. So, whatever you are feeling, it's okay. It's okay to laugh and cry in the same sentence. And it's okay to feel the vortex of grief. Grief is not a permanent state of being. It's okay to feel moments of strength and faith and joy. You are not being disloyal


Everyone goes through times when the bad exceeds the good in our life. Everyone experiences brief moments of anguish. Or maybe everything seems to go very wrong very quickly, and doom and gloom overshadow our ability to be positive. I'm not talking about depression; I'm talking about situational sadness. We may feel justified for throwing the pity party of the century. One bad day does give us room to process and deal with our feelings and reality. You are allowed to cry, scream, and pout in privacy. Tears are a natural process. This doesn't change your circumstances, but it does placate the soul. When you give yourself permission to cry, you are processing and physically releasing negativity. Just don't stay there because the negative thoughts are not helpful. Negative thoughts underscore your resentment and despair. This does nothing to change your circumstances. In terms of crying, society places this unrealistic burden of guilt, shame, and judgment. It is vita

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue is best described by Charles Figley, a Trauma Therapist: "We have not been directly exposed to the trauma scene, but we hear the story told with such intensity, or we hear similar stories so often, or we have the gift and curse of extreme empathy, and we suffer. We feel the feelings of our clients. We experience their fears. We dream their dreams. Eventually, we lose a certain spark of optimism, humor, and hope. We tire. We aren’t sick, but we aren’t ourselves.” Compassion Fatigue is most widely experienced by caretakers, educators, social workers, nurses, doctors, emergency responders, veterinarians, and animal rescue workers. Basically, anyone who helps people or animals in distress can fall victim to the secondary traumatic stress caused by the preoccupation with the damaged subject. Caring too much can hurt. When the focus is on others, and self-care is disregarded, destructive behaviors can take root. Do you consistently wake up tired in the morning? D

Honoring Veterans

 Most Americans have come to know Veteran's Day as a day for store sales and parades and free food for veterans. But for some, this day resonates with a deep bourdon note of a church organ. So many innocent years lost. We celebrated the life of my Uncle Carl, a former teacher and a proud veteran who served in the Army in Germany during the Vietnam War. Later his work with the Immigration and Naturalization Service eventually led to lead the National Firearms Unit in Altoona, PA, for several years. His last post before his retirement was serving in Washington, D.C. as a Deputy Director of the National Firearms and Tactical Training Unit. My Uncle Carl pursued his lifelong passion. He was a marksman and a competitive shooter, and he achieved the highest rating of High Master in the Police Pistol Combat competitive arena. He then represented the United States at the World Police and Fire Games in Calgary and Germany. To add to his accolades, he was on the Border Patrol (and later


My neighbor clearcut his property a few years ago, mostly tall white pines, which had an impact on the vegetation of my property. For example, my shade garden became a heated hotbed, roasting my hostas. The increased exposure and sunlight boosted the regeneration of shelterwood, where food and shelter are an abundant supply for wildlife: squirrels, deer, fox, birds. I have to continually manage the regrowth to avoid overgrowth. His clear-cutting approach also imposed much vulnerability to the winds. I now have a lot of deadfall as only the sturdy and windfirm trees stand the test of time. Although my neighbor tried to convince me to do the same clear-cutting method, the white pines that have stood for centuries still stand on my lot. Despite the emotionally charged conversation, I approached the situation with logic and reasoning, weighing the pros and the cons. Vilifying the land or my neighbor was not an option. Sure, piled with the heavy snow and ice, the limbs come crashing down,