The Art of Giving

Eleanor Leonard

Potatoes; a pocket watch chain; a pair of decorative combs; a plastic crucifix. Are any of these on your gift list? We may turn up our collective nose and scoff at the quaintness, yet each in its own way could stand in for the grander definition of “gift”. The 14th century Persian Sufi master and poet Hafiz, in a poem entitled The Gift, wrote: A hunger comes into your body / So I run to my garden / And start digging potatoes. Six centuries later, American writer O. Henry published his now-beloved short story The Gift of the Magi. In … Continue reading

Stressing the Importance of Stress, How mental distress is a signal to make a change in your life

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Physical or mental distress can be challenging at times. We certainly don’t go out of our way to acquire it, and we generally try hard to prevent it, but like Murphy’s Law if something can becoming challenging and distressful it will, and probably at the most undesired time. Just the idea of distress is frequently distressful. Our minds act in concert with our bodies in how they handle or respond to our specific environments. When our bodies are perceived to be under attack from, say, a virus, the hypothalamus – the area in your brain that acts as your body’s … Continue reading

from the publisher “We hold these truths…

Julia picture of her

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Between the time I write this and when The Phoenix goes to press, millions of Americans over 18 will have cast their votes in favor of one candidate or another, springing from amalgamations of internal convictions, biases, perhaps even confusion. It’s been a political year festooned with muckraking and dodgy ethics. But it’s what we have done in the midst of this political environment that … Continue reading

Can I Leave my Partner After Years of an Unfulfilling Relationship?

John Driggs

Our greatest life decisions are always made on the basis of incomplete information. ~Sheldon Kopp, psychoanalyst and author Probably the most difficult decision we’ll ever make in our lifetime is deciding to stay or leave a life partner when the relationship has been continually unfulfilling. Certainly the right decision is generally unclear to us. Most of us can’t even stand the thought of ever separating from a loved one even when we are continually unhappy. We automatically put our own happiness on the back burner and stay loyal to the bitter end. We deny how bad things really are. This … Continue reading

Ordinary Goodness: The Surprisingly Effortless Path to Creating a Life of Meaning and Beauty

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Ordinary Goodness: The Surprisingly Effortless Path to Creating a Life of Meaning and Beauty By Edward Viljoen TarcherPerigee Do you think that wherever you are, you can create meaning and beauty in your life and the world? Viljoen does. He shares personal, heartfelt stories from folks who have done just that. He’s a New Thought minister and offers stories that exemplify the process, regardless of life’s circumstances. He provides exercises and practical tips to help readers fill their own lives with “ordinary happiness.” Viljoen breaks the book into five parts: Ordinary Goodness, Ordinary Kindness, Ordinary Compassion, Ordinary Faith, and closes … Continue reading

Dharma Parenting: Understanding Your Child’s Brilliant Brain for Greater Happiness, Health, Success, and Fulfillment

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Dharma Parenting: Understanding Your Child’s Brilliant Brain for Greater Happiness, Health, Success, and Fulfillment By Robert Keith Wallace, PhD and Frederick Travis, PhD TarcherPerigee Would any parent turn down groundbreaking scientific research that could help their child develop to their true potential? Wallace and Travis are researchers and neuroscientists who recommend parents use Ayurveda to help recognize and nurture their child’s unique attributes. The book reviews the different Ayurveda brain/body types. It includes a website parents can access to determine their and their child’s type with recommendations to help them understand and connect with their child. In the book they … Continue reading

Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships

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Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships By Kira Asatryan New World Library Wanting to feel close to someone is a universal goal. Not everyone achieves it easily as social media, technology, and myths may actually make it harder to do. The first step is to understand what closeness is and what it really means to you. After all, loneliness is not a character flaw. Understanding that makes the problem easier to handle. The second step is mastering the art of knowing oneself and others on a deeper level. The third step is mastering … Continue reading

I Am Here Now: A Creative Mindfulness Guide and Journal

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By The Mindfulness Project TarcherPerigee Readers may recognize The Mindfulness Project, a platform for teaching and spreading health and happiness through mindfulness exercises. They do this through a variety of workshops and online programs. In this easy to carry book, The Mindfulness Project wants readers to learn that they have the potential to be creative and mindful by paying attention to what is happening here and now and writing or drawing about that awareness. The book includes journaling suggestions and ample space for doodling among the many exercises. For example, the drawing of a simple tea cup encourages the reader … Continue reading

Love, Joy, Peace and Hope – Give it Away

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“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ~ Kahlil Gibran It is better to give than receive. We hear it all the time—especially this time of year. But sometimes I wonder if we really believe it. We say the phrase as if the generalization is a forgone conclusion. We print it on bumper stickers and billboards. We teach it to our children. And we mutter it under our breath when circumstances don’t go as expected. But in reality, the axiom is difficult to live out. We … Continue reading

Keeping an Eye on The Big Picture

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I very much enjoy my new home group, and I don’t particularly mind that they wind up with The Lord’s Prayer instead of the Serenity. The sound of human voices in worship is always stirring, and the prayer is poetic, its rising cadence leading up to the climactic phrase about power and glory forever and ever. I can’t, however, make myself say The Lord’s Prayer, because it’s a Christian prayer and I am not, either culturally or spiritually, a Christian. I understand that we are human, and live human lives, so our spirituality is likely going to be determined by … Continue reading

Gratitude: Focusing on the Bright Side

If you count all your assets, you always show a profit. ~Robert Quillen I can get so frustrated with my life some days that I allow my thoughts to make me feel as though nothing is going my way and nothing ever will. While I was doing the dishes this afternoon I made a mental list of all the things going wrong. My daughter is getting ready to move into first apartment while attending the college and the change-related stress due is causing tension between us. My grown son has been especially busy lately and doesn’t seem to ever return … Continue reading

How was Your Harvest?

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The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny. James Allen Late autumn has me in the garden bringing in the last of the vegetable harvest, clearing out the profligate remains of annuals and the overflowing growth from perennials. I reap several garden carts of dried stalks, soggy leaves and sprawling roots. The tiny seedlings I planted became full spheres of blossoms and now return to the soil via my compost bin. This is … Continue reading

The Next Step — Rediscovering the Whole Person

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The landscape for alcohol and substance abuse recovery has been dominated for 80 years by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its guiding principles The Twelve Steps which became the gold standard for recovery. While the program is credited with helping millions of people around the world, the gold is losing some of its luster. The National Academy of Sciences in a 1990 report to Congress noted AA’s “lack of well-designed and well-executed studies that can be cited to support or negate the validity” of its claim to be “the most successful treatment for persons with alcohol problems.” To date, that scientific … Continue reading

Staying Sharp: Q&A with Doctors Henry Emmons & David Alter

Mindfullness

By Women in Recovery In their new book Staying Sharp, doctors Henry Emmons and David Alter have combined the latest neuroscience research with ageold wisdom about resilience, mindfulness, and stress reduction to show that vibrant aging is within reach. Together they demonstrate how to blend the best of modern science and Eastern holistic medicine to form a powerful drug-free program that will maintain a youthful mind and a happy life. We posed some questions to the doctors on how to live more joyfully, age more gracefully, and build intimacy in our relationships, no matter what our age. Q. What happens … Continue reading

Do I Really Need to put up with my Crazy Family

John Driggs

It never fails. About this time of year every year I start getting a pain in my gut and dread with no clear explanation why. Upon later reflection I realize why. It’s because I have to see my family — who are incredibly crazy… and the holidays are coming. I feel guilty thinking this way. Shouldn’t I feel grateful for even having a family? Doesn’t everybody have to put up with relatives they don’t like? Am I not responsible to love them all no matter how they act? After all, my relatives are family. They are the only family I … Continue reading

Sometimes, Ya Just Gotta Laugh

BobPerkell

I’ve come to the conclusion that God put me on this planet to make people in sobriety and recovery laugh. This is the story of my journey to sobriety/ recovery. I was the attention-starved middle child of a typical middle-class family. Dad was in sales so we moved a lot. I learned how to make friends quickly by being the class clown. As an adult, I started using drugs so I could drink more. I never thought I had a problem. My Dad, having been an alcoholic, was in the program later in life. I remember my dad taking a … Continue reading