How Tranquility Works

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“Peace is the tranquility of order” – St. Augustine

Sometimes we encounter definitions of everyday things in extraordinary ways. In the priest’s homily this past Sunday, the explanation of St. Augustine’s definition for tranquility created one of those powerful moments for me.

According to St. Augustine, “Peace is the tranquility of order.”

In his explanation the priest addressed that most of us believe tranquility occurs when everything stops, but that is exactly the opposite of what St. Augustine teaches. The priest’s example calm cooperation was that of the human body. The mind, lungs, heart, organs, and skin they are all working together even in our most restful moments. Even those moments we consider tranquil. Tranquility happens when everything is doing what it is supposed to be doing in that very moment resulting in peace.

Wow! What a powerful definition!

These were the exact words that I needed to hear Sunday morning as my prayer list seemed a little longer than usual.

Two days earlier my father-in-law Andy had open heart surgery and was struggling in his recovery. That explanation of how peace and cooperation can bring tranquility was the perfect inspiration driving my prayer for my father-in-law and myself. I prayed that God would bring tranquility to Andy’s heart and body so that he may heal quickly and peacefully.

For myself, I asked God to help me embrace each element of the chaos in my life as a piece of puzzle in my daily search for peace.

Continue reading “How Tranquility Works”

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Changing Someone

Changing Someone

When we begin to change someone,
the change is not always noticeable.
The changes rarely happen instantly
or make a huge racket.
An extra giggle in our laugh or a sweet curl at the corner of their mouth,
an higher hop in your step or a wider swing in their swag.

When we begin to change someone,
the change is not always noticeable.
An extra plate becomes a common setting next to yours.
Everyday the shoes by the door number a pair more.
Schedules shift.
Your circle of friends decreases, blends, expands.

When we begin to change someone,
the change is not always noticeable.
Lives start to melt into a schedule in sync.
Habits begin to form hand-in-hand with routine.
The dishes may start to make it to the sink;
the laundry may pile itself in the right places.

When we begin to change someone,
the change is not always noticeable.
When the changes start to make themselves known,
Those that have changed are not always happy with how they have grown.
The deviation from their norms can lead to bitterness.
They did not want to change, but they wanted to be with you. Continue reading “Changing Someone”

The Leaves of Change – Monthly Positivity Challenge

Season of Change 1

While the leaves of fall turn their colors naturally, change does not come so easily to rest of the world.

For this month’s positivity challenge, I want you to consider one change that may allow you to enter into a new season of beauty in your life.

A season of beauty doesn’t necessarily have to do with changing your physical self. It can include changes in faith, patience, humility, acceptance, or simplicity. Choose to do something that brings a more beautiful light or outlook to your existence. Brighten your daily encounters with a more hopeful view or a greater appreciate for the diversity that you experience in others.

Some simple but significant changes to consider for your spiritual or emotional self include:

  • Practice quiet meditation for 5 minutes each day; select a mantra that will bring about the change you seek, such as “I appreciate the good in others,” “My time is a gift and valuable to myself and those whom I share it with,” “Peace begins within me, let that peace find me here.”
  • Smile, greet, or politely acknowledge all you meet, especially those who you don’t normally pay attention
  • Compliment others on jobs well done or their appearance; make note of it
  • Be conscious of the words you use when speaking to your family, spouse, or coworkers; keep a log or jar of unkind or impatient words. Making note of the not-so-nice things we say forces us to select less “noteworthy” negativity when we speak.
  • Schedule time for things that will reduce futures stress:
    • pick out your clothes the night before
    • make a grocery list before going to the store and stick to it
    • make a budget and stick to it
    • plan a game night or movie night with your loved ones
    • share your schedule with your spouse or significant other
    • clean as you cook allow yourself to enjoy time with your family after dinner
    • fold each load of laundry after taking it out of the dryer (this way you don’t have mountains of laundry to fold later)
  • Pick up trash or use recycling bins, even if the refuse isn’t yours
  • Reduce time spent on social media
  • Increase time telling stories or sharing memories with friends and family
  • Clean out cluttered drawers
  • De-clutter your desk
  • Clean out your car
  • Say an extra prayer each day for someone or something other than yourself
  • Keep a journal of positive things or share one positive experience from the day with your family members each night

Season of Change 3We can’t consider change without including a few healthy, physical progressions. With physical change, gradual will get the job done most every time.

Continue reading “The Leaves of Change – Monthly Positivity Challenge”

Cave

person walking on rock formation under cloudy sky

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It’s only when we fail to stand our ground that we cave.

Only when we fail to be true to ourselves, we cave.

When we fail to be honest, we cave.

We fail to believe; we cave.

Fail only when we cave.

 

The times when I have felt least successful are those when I felt I caved to insecurity or scrutiny of others. It was in allowing the foundation of what I knew was right to crumble. I let my emotions cascade in an avalanche of uncertainty around me. I caved.

One instance from junior high, where I personally caved, still haunts me.

In 6th grade, recess changed the social dynamic for everyone at my school. The 6th grade girls were assigned the parking lot between church and our grade school along with the 7th and 8th grade girls for recess. There were no soccer goals, basketball hoops, or kickball fields in this lot. As someone who always loved sports and being active, this move was not an exciting one for me. The other girls seemed perfectly happy to sit on the steps next to church and clump in tightly knit circles gossiping away our precious free time. Recess was not much fun as far as I was concerned, but I made the most of it floating from group to group, checking to see what the topic of conversation might be, or if there was a chance of athletic ambition from anyone.

One day I ran to talk to one of the 8th graders, who played basketball on the school team with me. She was talking to two others girls and I was excited to see if they wanted to talk basketball.

As soon as I entered their circle, one girl took me by the arm and turned me around. “You are like a wart. We want to burn you out of here,” she said and pushed me in the opposite direction of their conversation. Continue reading “Cave”

Energy Walked into a Room…

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We all know the joke: A man walked into a bar…. he said, “Ouch.”

Well, the same holds true for when our energy enters a room. It speaks for us. Hopefully what our entrance energy says is much less painful than that of the man and the bar in the joke.

Keep in mind as you step into each space that your confidence, joy, sadness, insecurity, positivity, energy, or exhaustion debut just as you do.

Don’t let the energy you expel zap others. Continue reading “Energy Walked into a Room…”

What Would Your Things Say About You? – The Narrative Assignment

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My sister and I in our rocking chairs. Circa 1982

What would your things say about you?

The narrative assignment for my COM 101 class is not an easy essay. And I LOVE it! It is my favorite assignment to give and to grade.

In this assignment students are to compose a narrative of their life story as told by one object from their life. They are to personify one thing, and, from the perspective of that stuffed animal, tree, table, or whatever item they choose, the students are to share their defining moments from birth to present day.

This is a daunting task for students because some don’t have any one item that has been present for their entire life. Some claim that they haven’t done anything worth remembering. And still others whine that they can’t even remember what they had for breakfast, how are they supposed to remember what they did in grade school?

My response: It’s your story to tell. You better do the research. Your stuffed animal isn’t going to do it for you.

Rocking Chair

My childhood rocking chair today

To help them get started, I share a roughly drafted intro to my life, as told by my childhood rocking chair. I give them a glimpse into what my life was like in the beginning and how to narrate using an item that arrived after my birth. Many find the example helpful.  Some try to copy my words and plagiarize by changing the item and dates. Whatever their approach might be, they all have the same task: Tell their own story while bringing to life a special object.

Have you ever tried to tell your story?

At 19, 39, or 89 it is not an easy task. I have to say, the particular group of students I have now moved me with the tales they told. The stories of self-discovery, loss of loved ones, and the ways they conveyed hope for the future exposed me to raw talent, emotion, and understanding for who they are as individuals.  Continue reading “What Would Your Things Say About You? – The Narrative Assignment”

Karma’s Corner

Karma's Corner

Frequently we hear warnings about karma, but rarely to we heed those foreshadowings. Well, this week karma came right around the corner and whacked me.

Our dishwasher sits under the peninsula of our kitchen counter. When the dishwasher door is open, I always tell the kids to quit running through the kitchen; somebody is gonna get hurt.

Wednesday evening was a particularly persnickety evening in the Peters’ household. No one seemed to have their positive pants on. The kids could not and would not stop fighting. I begged, screamed, and threatened torture, if the laundry did not get folded and put away. Constant was the need to say, “Stop fighting! Stop hitting! Stay out of other people’s space!” (It was a rough night.) 

All that crabbiness came to an abrupt halt as I stomped my way back into the kitchen (for like the hundredth time) to try and get the dishes done. That darn Karma was waiting to waylay my shin. And, boy, oh boy, did she get me. I ran smack dab into the dishwasher door.

As the blood immediately gushed from my leg, so did a four letter word from my mouth. I grabbed a towel and shouted for a band-aid. Eager to get away from folding laundry, my oldest son ran to the hall closet and brought two band-aids, just in case. Continue reading “Karma’s Corner”

What’s Comin’ Will Come… – Wise Words Wednesday

 

Hagrid

Hagrid is a trustworthy, gentle giant in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. He is the caretaker of Hogwarts and has a soft spot for creatures that most would consider terrifying or hazardous, but when it comes to standing up for what is right, no one would ever doubt which side Hagrid would be on.

HagridIn the books Hagrid, Harry, and the people of the wizarding world faced some pretty treacherous villains and situations. With each challenge came the opportunity to be steadfast and brave. As a reader, it was breathtaking to encounter the harrowing battles and escapes. Always fighting the fight between good and evil, Hagrid and company were perpetually prepared to face what came next.

“What’s comin’ will come and we’ll meet it when it does.” Continue reading “What’s Comin’ Will Come… – Wise Words Wednesday”

Only Angels Can Wing It

Only Angles Can Wing It

In February of 2002 I took a long-term substitute teaching position at a small, Catholic school in Loose Creek, Mo. That position sealed my understanding that God was calling me to be a teacher. In August of 2002, I began my teacher education program only to receive a call in October that the same small school needed me. A teacher had quit. I rearranged my newly laid plans and went back for another long-term subbing.

At the end of that second year, the school secretary gave me a framed saying, “Only angles can wing it. The rest of us have to work at it.” 

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That saying sits on my bathroom counter today. Every morning it is my motivation to get going and work on making my day count. Every night it is my reminder that even the most imperfect days are days I did my best to keep up with the angels.  Continue reading “Only Angels Can Wing It”

You Can’t Rush Peace

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You just can’t rush peace. Clearly mankind has not found the means for bringing serenity to the world in the millions of years that we have inhabited it, so why should we expect peace to come quickly and quietly into our daily lives?

As I sat down to write this post, all three children stormed into the office after me. One wanted to talk about a homework assignment. The second wanted to watch baseball. The third wanted his second supper for the night. (I literally JUST finished cleaning up the first supper, where he ate three helpings.) All three kiddos laid guilt trips on me because I had gotten home late and went straight into making the first supper. This post clearly wasn’t going to get written without a fight. Continue reading “You Can’t Rush Peace”