Why I Believe

deeclarknz.comSee that smile? That is the look of joy.

After a week like this one where our hearts get snagged by such deep heartbreak and loss of life, it becomes easy to lose our hope and faith in humanity. Yet, I choose to believe. I choose to see that even the smallest amount of good can bring light. I know it does. Just look at that smile.

It’s prizing-giving time in New Zealand. Prize-giving is a school award ceremony. Many deserving children are recognized for their efforts and accomplishments for the year.

But there are a limited number of prizes and not every child’s efforts can be acknowledged. A fact of life. We don’t all get to stand in the winner’s circle with confetti floating down on our heads. Yet, that does not mean that we didn’t give our best or put in effort.

When our name does not get called, it can feel like we failed. Especially when we have less-than-perfect circumstances surrounding our lives.

Zane was one of those kids who did not hear his name called at school. But he had a tutor who recognised that there was something very special about this young man. She made a special effort to celebrate him using “some pretty important stuff” she learned about him while supervising his homework.

Here is the list of prizes that his tutor awarded to Zane with the important information she learned (according to his foster mum):

1. A friend of the Tooth Fairy.

Zane’s birth mother didn’t find his tooth under his pillow when he was little which meant that because the tooth fairy didn’t show up, Zane didn’t believe she was real. Mrs G (the tutor) got him a little friend of the tooth fairy to prove she is real.

2. Light bulb box with some slime in it.

Zane was sometimes bright on the outside but his brain was a bucket of slime some days during study time. (Boy, I can relate to that, can’t you. Try as we may, somedays the lightbulb is dim.)

3. Body wash to stop him getting stinky.

Bodies and attitudes sometimes need a good scrubbing. (I’m sure this is all about showers, right, Zane? No stinky attitudes at your house!)

4. Sardines

Zane stole Mrs. G’s favorite, comfy chair on some days and well, sardines seemed a fitting reward for stolen chairs.

5. Chocolates

Zane is a sharing person so Mrs. G made sure that he had something that he could share.

6. Hand Cream

This prize was something he could give to his foster mum to show that he cares about her.

7. Lemon Honey Spread

Well, just because thats his favourite spread.

Zane told us that the personal prize-giving ceremony made him feel special!!! And of course, it shows all over his face, doesn’t it.

These sweet gestures between a student and his tutor meant a lot to Zane and to his foster family.

Recognition (for both effort and encouragement to grow to be the best we can be) speaks volumes to our hearts. The fact that someone has taken notice of our existence and valued the fact that we have crossed their path gives us a feeling of significance. The gestures can be small but when they speak to the heart…the impact is huge.

If I listened only to the news on TV, I think hope might fall through the holes created in my heart by all the bad things in the world. Yet, when I open my eyes to the wonderful people all around me making a huge difference in people’s lives…I believe!

I believe that there is more good in the world than bad.

I believe that good overcomes evil.

I believe that love never fails.

And I believe that in order to make a difference, all we have to do is see people with eyes of love; get to know “important stuff” about them; encourage their hearts to keep trying and moving forward; and reach out (even in small ways).

I believe.

And Mrs. G and Zane are just another proof that I should never lose hope.

Keep reaching out to each other! It matters!

D

Zane, keep up the good work. You won’t regret it!

Mrs. G, you continue to inspire and the world is blessed to have loving, caring hearts like yours!

This Is Your Journey To Walk Your Way

IMG_7209.JPG
My son is in college and beginning the process of making huge life decisions. He has dreams in his heart for how he wants to travel his journey. His journey looks completely different than mine. And I’m fine with that. He worried that his family would be ashamed of him or disappointed in him. I want him to know that there is wisdom to follow along the way but he must be free to walk this journey in a way that will bring him happiness and fulfilment.

No one can walk our journey for us.

We must walk the path of our purpose without fear that it won’t meet the desire others have for us.

My hope for my children is that they walk in a safe and healthy way.

My hope is that they reach for wise counsel and guidance.

My hope is that they find what makes them happy.

My hope is that their journey is traveled in a meaningful way.

And my hope is that they walk confidently, unafraid and boldly.

A friend of mine recently preformed his daughter’s wedding. He told her that as her parents, he and her mother wanted to give her two things in life: roots and wings; a place to belong and wings to fly.

Allowing my children to spread their wings and fly is not always easy but it is one of the most rewarding parts of my journey.

And for you, it’s the same: This is your journey to walk your way.

Journey on, dear readers.
D

I would like to welcome a new contributing photographer. My cousin’s son, Jarek Bagley, took the photo featured in this blog today. I just l love the brilliant colors. Well done. Welcome, Jarek! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photo with me and my readers! You rock!

Cee’s Black and White Photo Chalkenge:Glass

IMG_7059.JPGSea glass has become one of my favorite reasons to walk our beaches.

IMG_7065.JPGSeaglass forms as shattered glass is rolled and tumbled in the ocean for years until all of their edges are rounded off, and the slickness of the glass has been worn to a frosted appearance.

IMG_7064.JPGLife tumbles us, too. Mine smoothed a few of my rough edges. Hopefully, I’m better for it. And I’m probably not as slick as I thought I once was either. I’m sure that’s a good thing. 😜

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Glass

One Word Photo Challenge: Mahogany

IMG_0021-0.JPGWhen my dad retired, he bought some horses to eat the grass on his 10 acres of land and gifted them to his grandchildren.

IMG_7056.JPGThis beauty belonged to my son.

IMG_7058.JPGI assumed we could rock up, saddle her and ride to our heart’s content. I know. I know. Clueless.

IMG_7052.JPGChristopher needed to build trust in her before he could think about riding her. He had to begin slowly with gentle touches and quiet coaxing.

IMG_7053.JPGShe needed to get used to the sound of his voice and his smell.

IMG_7054.JPGA couple of days passed before she was willing to eat from his hand.

IMG_7055.JPGThere would be no riding on that visit…but a young boy fell head-over-heels in love with his first horse. A mahogany beauty he called Rose.

Thank you and Appreciation

deeclarknz.com

Have I told you lately how much I appreciate you?

No, actually, I haven’t.

Today,

I want you to know that I am so thankful that you are one of my blog readers.

Thank you for being so faithful to stop by and read the insights from my heart and view my attempts at my passion for photography.

It means the world to me that you are a part of my blogosphere.

Also, I am always so excited when I receive your comments.

Do you remember when AOL first started and when an email would appear in your email mailbox? It would say, “You’ve got mail.”

I loved hearing that.

And I look forward to hearing from you when you share your hearts with me in the comments.

Welcome to all of my new followers. It’s so nice to have you with us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I’m sending big hugs and hopes that your journey is enriched.

D

The World I Want Begins With Me

deeclarknz.com

There is so much pain in the world. The murders displayed on the news breaks my heart and reduces me to tears.

It can feel overwhelming on many levels.

Yet, the world I want begins with me.

Anger can be a useful emotion as it directs me to a core issue that is out of balance in my life. It is destructive when I allow it to cause me to react in a way that is devastating to the lives around me.

Anger is the core issue in murder. Period. Uncontrolled, unresolved anger drives a person to act dispicably. Taking someone’s life occurs along way down the pathway of angry emotions. Often, it begins with contempt. Contempt directs our thoughts and attitudes toward fear, negativity, prejudice and hatred.

You must first look within yourself to eliminate the fear, the anger, and the imbalance in your life.

Then and only then can you move forward to create peacefully and powerfully the changes needed in the world.

Today, following the news of 4 killings in Israel, I read that a young Israeli woman called for acts of kindness in response to the murders. This cry for good only comes from a heart that is at peace from within and an understanding that an eye-for-an-eye does not create a better world.

Yesterday, as I was shopping for some treats to have at home, I came across a woman and her grand baby that I had not met from my community. They were retrieving a small bottle of chocolate milk  from a cooler in celebration. The child had recently been weaned from her mother’s breast. I stopped and celebrated with them. I cheered for the 2 year old and congratulated her.

I introduced myself to the grandmother and her face beamed with happiness. It kind of shocked me, really. Who am I that meeting me in the grocery store and sharing a few kind words would make any real difference in this woman’s life? But we all know how it feels to have someone appreciate our children or our accomplishments, don’t we?

The woman told me that most of her time was spent working at a local restaurant and she asked me to stop in and visit her. I will, too.

That is how we change the world. I can not fight terrorists in a foreign country but I can…I CAN…work on my heart so that it is open to the people in my community. I can work diligently on the big issues in my heart that prevent my life from being worthwhile. I can also learn self-control so that my issues do not spill over onto the people I meet.

There was a day in my journey that I may never have given this woman the time of day. It might have only been the fact that I was preoccupied with my own world, my busy schedule or that I was exhausted from a full day at work.

People matter. People are what make the world – the world. So, it matters that we relate to each other in meaningful ways, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.

The world I want begins with me.

I must be a person who makes life worth living, first, in my own life and then shared with those around me.

I have failed many times in my past at this. I whisper a prayer. I get back up. I look inward. I follow wisdom and truth until the values I want to see in the world are firmly planted in my own heart and behaviours.

How about you? Will you join me and peacefully and powerfully create the changes needed in the world – beginning with yourself?

Be kind to someone today and demonstrate a better way of life.

Journey on, dear reader,

D

 

 

What’s Your Angle?

deeclarknz.com

What’s your angle?

deeclarknz.com

When we make a move in life, it’s important to understand what is motivating us?

Do you do what you do out of compassion?

Or

Do you do what you do to manipulate?

We choose different angles for different reasons.

Before you act, stop and ask yourself…

What’s my angle.

Choose compassion.

It’s powerful.

Journey on,

D

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week is Lines and Angles.

Enjoy!

10 Principles for Strong Relationships Found in the 10 Commandments (even if you are not religious)

IMG_7028.JPG
Have you ever experienced the pain of a failed relationship? Walking through each day numb, until a tidal wave of hope or rage or fear hits and sends you to bed, shivering, crying, and staring into space in terror. It feels like your heart has been ripped from your chest and put through a meat grinder.

If you have experienced a failed or failing relationship of any kind (marriage, dating, parent/child, friendship, job loss, neighbours at war, church splits or issues in a community), I have great news for you today. There is a framework for successful relationships. Although relationships can be difficult, they do not need to be doomed to failure. We can do the work of love that makes them enriching and abundant sources of joy and delight.

IMG_7026.JPG
Not like a Disney movie where everything ends in happily-ever-after. We dream of fairy tale endings but they aren’t real. Real life relationships and a life worth living requires work and decisions and heart changes. It produces joy and real joy has nothing to do with the butterfly feelings we call love. Joy is the settled assurance, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice of gratitude in every situation.

I have made a mucky mess of most of my relationships: love found and lost; friends who disappeared for no apparent reason; family holidays that ended in disastrous feuding; jobs that ended long before reaching a successful tenure, and an ugly divorce. All leaving me with the burning question, “What is it about me that they could not like or love?”

In still, quiet moments truths emerged that were hard to face. Yet, changes were necessary if I were to gain any hope of finding lasting relationships. Changes that needed to be made from the inside out.

I want to share 10 elements I found within the 10 Commandments that can change, heal or mend struggling relationships even if you are not a religious person.

Have you heard the story of the 10 Commandments? I remember watching Charlton Heston as Moses in the movie produced in the 50’s? (You can actually watch it on YouTube if you are interested. Just click on the link.). 

This may seem like a strange place to look for relationship advice. Instead of looking at the 10 commandments as a list of rules, I’ll ask you to give me a few minutes where you consider the principles behind the list.

My hope is that you will find some practical ways to enhance your quality of life starting immediately.

IMG_7027-0.JPG
Let’s have a look, shall we?

The 10 commandments state:

1. You shall have no other gods before me.
The first element of long lasting relationships is the decision and commitment. Commitment is the glue that binds long term relationships together. Therefore, before committing to a relationship careful consideration should be given. Commitment is not contractual. Contracts provide escape when things do not go as planned, do not go our way or when they become uncomfortable. Commitment actively works to find solutions, makes necessary changes to one’s behaviours and does not quit when things become difficult. Contracts encourage an attitude that “nothing lasts forever”. Commitment demands an attitude that never gives up. You will have to burn some bridges: your will might have to die, you can’t have your way all of the time, you will have to forgive, and you have to let past things go. You must be committed to your commitment more than you are to selfish behaviours. And sometimes that can feel like you’re dying. 😜

2. Do not make for yourselves any graven images.
The second element of long lasting relationships is to not do relationships by substitution. There can be a tendency to substitute giving things instead giving ourselves especially when things are hard or difficult. You can not work long hours and provide a house, car, or vacation as a substitute for coming home and working through the big issues of life. Strong relationships require that you show up and be present. Do life face to face and in person.

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Did you know that when you love someone, the way you say their name is different? Just saying. The third element of long lasting relationships is communication. You can build a strong relationship with the words that come out of your mouth. You can also destroy a relationship with the words that come out of your mouth. Counsellors will tell you that one of the top reasons that relationships fail is due to poor communication. All of us are vulnerable. We want to be loved, accepted and valued. There is a dangerous pathway that you can travel when it comes to communication. The first step is criticism. You can read more about the criticism pathway by clicking the link. It is so important to speak kind words that allow hearts to grow close together.

4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
The fourth element in long lasting relationships is time. In a busy world we often refer to quantity and quality time. In order for quality time to emerge, there must be an adequate amount of time provided. You can’t just make memorable moments happen. In the process of time spent together, the special moments appear. Invest time in your relationship and watch it flourish. Schedule time that is non-negotiable. Commit to show up and be fully present without distractions.

IMG_7032.JPG
5. Honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land.
The fifth element of lasting relationships is honour. There is an element of humility and respect involved in honour. When I think of honouring my country, I realise that I did not gain the freedoms I enjoy by my efforts alone. The same is true in relationship. Honour in relationship is a statement that you can not do this alone and respects the other person’s contribution as well as your own. The best way to cultivate honour is with gratitude and forgiving. Acknowledge the good and forgive what didn’t work out so well -striving to improve along the way.

6. You shall not murder.
Murder definitely would have a detrimental effect on your relationship. The sixth element of lasting relationships has to do with how you handle anger. You have to create an environment of peace. Yelling and throwing fits do not accomplish closeness. Learn to speak like a human-being with kindness and grace. And…learn to listen to the response. Do not hold on to your anger…in fact, before the day is finished work to deal with angry emotions so that they do not fester into infectious behaviours. Create a peaceful atmosphere and you will build a lasting relationship.

7. You shall not commit adultery.
Adultery is another relationship killer. Seriously. However, the seventh element of lasting relationships is self-control. The issue here is lust. Oddly enough, lust does not only relate to sex. Excessive indulgences feed lust and often are displayed in addictive behaviours. Lust drives you for more and more and more -it is insatiable. Lust will cause you to become discontent and dissatisfied with what you have. Self-control is an essential element to behaving appropriately in relationships.

8. You shall not steal.
The eighth element of lasting relationships is trust. You can not build a strong relationship with someone that you can not trust. Period. Trust lost is very difficult to restore. It is imperative to be trustworthy.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour (lying)
The ninth element of lasting relationships is honesty. Respect people’s reputation especially those that you desire to build a permanent relationship with. Guard their reputation as your own. Always be honest and truthful.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s “stuff” (paraphrasing there a little.)
The final element of lasting relationships is contentment. You know the old saying that “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?” the truth is “the grass is greener where you water it”. I’m not sure where that originated but it is wisdom. There will always be something or someone sunnier, shinier, prettier, or offering more benefits on the surface. Finding contentment requires that you take good care of what you have been given and cherish it with all of your heart. Work through the difficult times and build together something what can unfold into something great.

IMG_7025.JPG
These 10 elements can be applied to any level of relationship that you desire to remain permanent; marriage, family, friendship, business, career/job, community, church and yes, even a relationship with God. Make a careful decision and commit to it with every fibre of your being. Show up and deal with the big issues of life face to face. Communicate gently and effectively. Invest time so that special moments emerge. Cultivate an attitude of honour with gratitude and forgiving often. Deal with you anger in a healthy way and don’t hold onto things. Exercise self-control over the drive for more and more. Be trustworthy. Be honest. And finally take good care of what you have been given so that you have the opportunity to enjoy your relationship for a lifetime.

I would like to add one caution: we all know that no one person can make a relationship work on his/her own. Not even God could do that in His desire for a relationship with us. You can hear the pain in His voice through Jeremiah in Jeremiah chapter 2. It takes two committed people or a group of committed people (in families, business, churches, and communities) working through the big issues with honest effort to see great relationships as a result. In cases where abusive behaviours have emerged, always, always seek safety and help from a trained professional.

Many times (excluding abusive relationships) making changes to your behaviours, as I have mentioned in this article, can provide the first steps to getting your relationship back on track, keep it healthy or restore broken relationship. It can also help remove the charged atmosphere that ignites tension and stress.

Do you think these would work in your relationships?

Happy journeying!

D