Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Iota of Forgiveness

Escorted by a uniform officer, the three of us from the streets arrived at our meeting room at the prison amidst cheering and clapping. Every week we are greeted by this magnificent welcoming committee as we join our fellow LibOrators for the regular weekly meeting of Toastmasters, LibOrators at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

The Sargeant-At-Arms brought the meeting to order. There was a joke to bring the house down; there were the requisite reports from the officers, which included the word for the night: "iota" and any synonym which could be substituted to mean small. Then a hush fell over the room as the educational portion of the meeting got underway.

The first speaker was a seasoned orator. He has held every office, he has gone through every manual and he hopes to hit the streets soon. This was billed as his last speech to this club. He spoke eloquently of forgiveness. As he talked, I thought to myself how glad I was NOT to be his evaluator. His evaluator found himself in a place where it would be difficult to find anything in this speech to correct. He got a standing ovation when his 7 minutes were up. He was modest but you could see by his face that he was pleased to be recognized for his abilities to charm an audience with good content and confident presentation.

Speaker #2 was amazed to discover that Speaker #1 had chosen the same topic, unbeknownst to one another. He approached forgiveness in a completely different way. We felt his nervousness; this fellow is a novice who accepts responsibility for club leadership and prepares carefully for each speaking project in his manual.

There were other speeches, too; each was unique. We heard a man's first speech, The Ice Breaker, and his story wrenched our hearts. A veteran talked about the Viet Nam war-this man is very close to earning his first Competent Communicator Award. He made me so proud.

Even the evaluators did a great job of lovingly pointing out where improvements could be made and they impressed the Timer by using their alloted time but not taking too long!

The Table Topics Master invited some seasoned speakers, then some visitors and those visitors were positively inspiring to those of us who have done those nerve-wracking 2 minute thinking-on-your-feet exercises!

During our break I had a most interesting conversation about forgiveness with a man who is serving a life sentence. His attitude is remarkable. His life is a complete lesson for others to emulate, if they want to become their best selves. I marvelled to myself that I would hold in such high regard a man who will never leave the prison. At one time I would not have dreamed it to be possible. This man has decided to change the way he thinks, the way he behaves, the way he lives his life. He told me that it took a tragedy and this trip to prison to bring him to this place in his life. Now that he is IN prison, he can be a role model for other incarcerated men. How noble is he?

Even one iota of forgiveness could help any of us.

One way of addressing forgiveness is with The Healing Codes . If forgiveness is an issue for you or someone you love, I offer to you that you might seriously consider The Healing Codes .

Connie Baum

Friday, February 13, 2009

Another Greeting Card?

I peeked out our living room window to watch a soft mid-February snowfall. Imagine my delight when I was greeted by a snow-covered lawn completely blackened with a huge flock of robins! It was pretty clear that those red-breasted beauties were picnicking before the snow became too deep and the wind got too boistrous for lawn activities!

It made me grin and think again that I had received one of God's famous greeting cards. And just in time for Valentine's Day! Lucky me.

Those little robins were simply living authentically. The only way they will survive is to follow their instincts and eat live, whole food. What happened to humans that we began to box up food, pretend it was edible, advertise its "virtues" and sell it to other human beings?

Oh. Now I remember. It had to do with PROGRESS. Yes, and greed.

Yesterday I was treated to the stories shared by a folklorist, Kay Young. She has interviewed very elderly Nebraska people who fondly recalled the many times from their early childhoods when their families hunted, gathered, and ate the foods that grew naturally on the native prairie. Is that what contributed to their longevity? It couldn't have hindered it.

Incidentally, Kay Young's book, "Wild Seasons - Gathering and Cooking Wild Plants of the Great Plains" is available from the University of Nebraska Press in Lincoln and London. It is a great read with marvelous illustrations done by Mark E. Marcuson. I'd have to say that it is a must-have for anyone serious about vibrant good health.

Kay Young is much wiser and much more knowledgeable than I am about a great many things. She is all about goodness and love and nature and she related a comical episode she and her neighbor experienced. They have been absolutely PLAGUGED by squirrels. In fact, squirrels chewed through the belts of her car as it sat in the garage! This kept our friend from arriving at our home the week prior! She and her neighbor trapped a collection of squirrels and took them to a nearby cemetery for a new life and fresh start. Alas, Kay declared those silly squirrels beat the women home!

So, the robins have their autheticity nailed; the squirrels are eating raw, with the exception of those belts, and we are eating stuff we saw advertised on television. Does this give credence to the idea that raw foods are for the birds and those who eat raw foods are squirrelly? I dearly hope not.

Here's hoping you will enjoy Kay Young's book as much as we have at our house. We also hope you will check out some tasty ideas from Kristen Suzanne as well as Leanne Ely .

Connie Baum

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Who Is Watching?

We drove to our tiny country church in gleaming sunshine. As our little car turned off the paved highway onto a rock road leading to our house of worship we were thrilled to observe a Bald Eagle! He was vigilantly keeping watch from the top of a very tall tree.

We occasionally see eagles, but whenever we do, it is a special treat. As we made our way, my mind wandered to the observations my good Mohawk friend, Ralph Brown has made about eagles.

He once wrote about character...Ralph says that character is the way you live your life when you think no one is watching. Most people are good. When they look into a mirror, they want to see a good person reflected in that mirror. People, generally, want to work at self improvement so they can become their best selves.

But we all suffer from the human condition. Sometimes we let go of our good intentions, our best selves and fall into behavior that is less than stellar.

So, this begs this question: How do we hang on to our good intentions, our best behaviors? How do we keep from falling short of being who we really are?

Consider the eagle. The eagle has a wonderful built-in feature in his talons that keep him from falling or being blown off a branch, even as he sleeps. There is a pair of tendons that have ratchet-like teeth the eagle can lock into position as he sleeps. That very mechanism stays closed when the tendons are locked. This is the eagle's way of holding fast.

We humans have a mechanism for holding fast to our ideals. That would be our AWARENESS. We must be as vigilant as the eagle concerning our behavior. We would be wise to make virtues and values a part of our being. As we grow, develop and mature, our ideals will grow with us and we will have greater understanding of our selves and ways to apply our new found wisdom in daily living.

Be vigilant. Be as watchful and steadfast as the mighty eagle.

If this gem from Ralph Brown interests you, his website will certainly strike your fancy. Please visit his site and see for yourself what tremendous wisdom this man has expressed through his pointillist art work. Be prepared to be astonished! http://www.mirroredwindows.com/

Connie Baum