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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

I trust that your January is off to a glorious start. Very soon, I will lead a seminar on “Resolutions” for the New Year. Rather than the usual definition of resolution—to make a promise or an oath—I will invite people to consider the musical definition. Mount Rainier - reflected in lake

In music, resolution means to bring something that is out of tune, discordant, or inharmonious into a state of being harmonious & in tune. In order to bring our lives back into a state of harmony, sometimes we have to let go of something else. Perhaps we need to let go of old habits, negative thinking, too many things or possessions, or life-draining relationships.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is out of tune, or out of alignment, in your life right now?
  • What do you have to do to bring your life back into harmony?
  • What small step can you take today to resolve the discord in your life?

When you take a step away from discord, you take a step toward harmony.

May you enjoy the blessings of letting go, so that this year you can move in the direction of your dreams.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about your resolutions in the comment section below or let’s start a conversation on Twitter! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue the conversation! Twitter: https://twitter.com/gloriaburgess Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drgloriaburgessPhD. And feel free to learn more about me and Jazz, Inc. by checking out my website: http://gloriaburgess.com/index.html. Have an wonderful week!

Pass It On!

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To Celebrate Life, Love, Moms, Motherhood, & Valentine’s Day

Letter to My Mom, Mildred Blackmon McEwen

Give her roses while she can still enjoy them. ~ Earnest McEwen, Jr. (my father)

Dear Mama ~

It isn’t your birthday or Mother’s Day. Christmas is over. Epiphany, too. It’s the beginning of a glorious New Year… and I’m writing this letter to honor you. I want to thank you for the singular blessing you’ve poured and continue to pour into my life: you!

You are that blessing. Your life is a poem, a mighty spiritual, a testimony of gratitude, faith, and love. And this letter is a celebration of you.

Your road has been long; your journey has not been easy. Bigotry and prejudice fortified you, teaching you how to love even more deeply and how to see not just with your anatomical eyes, but also to see with the eyes of your heart. Greatest of all, you relied on God’s love and strength rather than your own. In this you gave me the gift of faith and unconditional love for myself and others.

You also gave me what my sister-friend and fellow poet Nikky Finney would say is the gift of being “a woman with keys.” A woman with keys moves in a particular way and she has a responsibility, an obligation to help others find theirs, help them move through their rooms, cross their thresholds, unlock their windows and doors on the journey to claim their promise.

I remember as a little girl, you gave me the precious gift of encouragement. When you said over and again, “Be all that God intended you to be—no matter what, come what may.” I now offer that gift back to my daughter, other family members, my students, clients, and friends.

I remember your humility and sacrifice. For many long years you and Daddy toiled and sacrificed so that my sisters and I could have a better life than the ones you’d known. I remember your and Dad’s Mississippi stories of struggle and strife, of Dad’s deep longing to go to college to better himself and improve our lot, of him working as a janitor at Ole Miss and there, by the grace of God, William Faulkner came into his life and paid for Dad to attend Alcorn A&M College, with no strings attached. I remember you working as a teacher and cook in the nursery school to help make ends meet, Dad’s working at low-paying jobs even with his college degree. I remember you both standing on your rock-solid values of hard work, gratitude, faith, love, and integrity.

I also remember the profound lessons you taught me—to lend others a helping hand, to be of service to others… your constant reminders to do something with my time, to make myself useful. Even if I was already occupied doing something! Today your words echo in my soul as the voice of legacy. Early on, you taught me, Doris, Annie, Debbie, and Vera that you make a living by what you choose as your work, and you make a life by what you do for others.

I remember when I asked what compelled you to go along with Daddy’s “impossible” dreams, you said, “I loved your father and I believed in him. More importantly, we had an abiding faith in Almighty God, and He never gave us more than we could handle, and His grace always saw us through.” Even when you didn’t have any idea of how our family would make it, your love and faith sustained you.

Thank you for giving me a legacy that values education, character, as well as loving, lifting up, and helping others with no strings attached. Thank you for painting on the canvas of eternity with your unshakable belief in the nobility of the human spirit, for painting with a palette imbued with the qualities of humility, faith, love, triumph, and the capacity to treat every human being with dignity and respect. Through you, I have a small glimpse of God’s magnificence, devotion, and triumph.

Because of you, I know—deep in my bones—a few things: if you want change, you must stir the waters and be willing to get out of the boat. If you want change, then you have to invest your heart and soul in the generations to come. I also know that each person must live the legacy that God has intended just for him or her, which means that you can’t hide your light under a bushel. You have to dare to wear your soul on the outside, and keep on keeping on—no matter what, and we have to pass it on by building sturdy bridges for others to cross.

Mother, thank you for being a diva in my life, for not merely talking about blessings… but for being the blessing, and for passing it on!

Love and honor, your daughter Gloria

Pass It On!

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In just a few days, we will pay tribute to an American legend – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Around the world we will celebrate his legacy, even as our own legacies continue to intertwine with his.

Even now, I imagine Dr. King’s presence… and I hear his marvelous voice beckoning us to lean into our deepest calling, which is to serve. “Anyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

Storyteller and author Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us that “One of the most calming and powerful actions [we] can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show [our] soul.”

In our ever-shrinking global village, standing up and showing your soul is not a luxury. It is an imperative.

In my latest book, Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside, I discuss what it means and what it takes to stand up and show your soul… so that we might co-create the kind of world that we want to pass on to our children and our children’s children and beyond.

As we remember Dr. King and celebrate his legacy, let us also remember to celebrate ourselves as we stand up, serve, and be the change that we want to be in our world.

Pass It On!

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This holiday season, we are blessed once again by my daughter’s presence. Now that she has launched her career, we are even more grateful that she still delights in the simple pleasures of hanging out with me and her dad.

Last year about this time, I asked her what I should write about for my “Feel Good Tuesday” post. She said, “Oh, you should write about family—how wonderful it is to spend time with family members, the importance of appreciating one another, and sharing our love, especially older family members while they can still enjoy your presence.

Family matters. As I get older, I appreciate and celebrate family more and more.

On Christmas Eve, my husband, daughter, and I piled into the car and headed to Vancouver to see my mom, niece, and two younger sisters. We enjoyed a few joyous hours snuggled up on the sofa sharing stories and photos, catching up on each others’ lives, playing games, and dreaming about the year ahead.

Before my daughter returns home to Boston, we’ll gather around the fire, piece together several jigsaw puzzles, and take a few walks in the misty twilight. We might even round up our instruments to make music together, creating wonderful new holiday memories.

As you reflect on your holidays, may you be blessed with the warmth of family, blessed by love given and received.

Sending you and your loved ones Warm Blessings for a Joyous New Year.

Pass It On!

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Gratitude. God is awesome. As 2011 closes, I give thanks for the many blessings received & shared with you, my community of family and friends. In May, I celebrated with my daughter as she completed her MFA at Boston U. She now enjoys a wonderful position as head of a Boston College’s costume shop, and she continues to expand her portfolio  of exquisite designs. I’m blessed that she’ll be home for the holidays.

Joy. I continue to lean into my ministry in communities near and far, and at my home church and others that call. This summer, I was blessed to visit Ghana, a ministry of learning and teaching with 23 seniors and juniors from University of Washington. My latest book, Pass It On!, will be released next year. It’s my first book for children, and I look forward to writing more.

Light.  In this holy season, I pray for those who are without shelter, food, or a community of loved ones; I pray for those ravaged by war, trafficking, famine, dislocation, flood, sickness, and spiritual darkness. As well, I pray for our service men and women who have returned home from Iraq, specifically for their smooth re-entry with family and community. For some this can be a most difficult transition. I also pray for those who are still serving us at home and around the world, those who are unable to be home with their loved ones during this special time.

May God’s glorious grace, love, and mercy enfold and comfort you during this Holy Season and throughout the New Year.

One Heart ~ Love and Joy, Gloria

Pass It On!

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Fall is my favorite season, a time of bounty, beauty, turbulence, transformation, perpetuation, and possibility. It’s also a season that invites solitude, reflection, and gratitude.

During this season of Thanksgiving, give thanks for persons who have called your name, even if you weren’t aware of them doing so. When others call your name it is a way of acknowledging you… all of  your unique gifts, skills, and talents, which comprise your signature presence.

When others call your name, it is part of a larger pattern of recognizing the importance of an individual and the collective of which we’re all a part. It also recognizes our interconnectedness to one another and all of life, as well as our responsibility to care for one another and our planet.

As we’ve learned from so many cultures where hospitality and harmony are of utmost importance, I cannot exist with you, and you cannot exist with me. In many African cultures, this kind of innate interdependence is an aspect of the spirit of “Ubuntu.” 

When we deeply understand our interconnectedness, we understand the soul of leadership. In Western culture, we sometimes call this stance servant leadership.

As you prepare your heart for your Thanksgiving celebration, reflect on and count your blessings. Be sure to include persons who have come into your life – however briefly – who have extended a kindness to you… a loved one, a friend, or even a total stranger.

This week, take time to fill your heart with and reflect on these questions: Whose am I? Who supports me? Who do I belong to, and who belongs to me? Who has extended graciousness and blessings to me? Who do I extend graciousness and blessings to? Whose name will I call today?

Pass It On!

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As the golden days of autumn give way to auburn, rust, and brown,  we lean toward Thanksgiving, a season of deep gratitude.

Today and always I give thanks for my many blessings – family and friends, children’s laughter, angels and prayers that come into my life, bidden or unbidden, even my breath, which I so often take for granted… but which for some is an immense struggle.

Aunbance is Yours

Abundance is Yours

Many years ago, I wrote “Sanctuary,” one of my many poems of gratitude. I share it with you now as an offering of thanksgiving for a faithful, stout-hearted woman of God… my  mom, Mildred McEwen, and to two amazing men whose legacy of generosity and gratitude changed my life… my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.,  and William Faulkner.

Who has been a blessing in your life? Have you expressed your gratitude?

SANCTUARY

for William Faulkner and my father, Earnest McEwen, Jr.*

Between the brush of angels’ wings

and furious hooves of hell, two mortal men

fell down. How you must have looked—

white shirt stained, khakis fatigued,

smelling of sweat and smoke,

hair at odds with itself and the world.

At the threshold among your restless dead

in echo and shadow of ancient oaks,

providing sanctuary, offering shade,

you had many worlds behind you,

few yet to be born: stories of insurgence,

scorn, decay—theme and variations

of a vanquished South.

Leaning against a jamb

of antebellum brass, you watched, waited,

raised weary arm and hand, saluted

the familiar stranger. Come. Enter. Sit. Sing.

You reached each other across the grate.

What you two must have known of heaven and hell.


* William Faulkner was my father’s benefactor, paying for him to attend college at a time when he had little

prospects of earning enough money to pay for it himself. This was Faulkner’s way of dismantling institutionalized racism long before desegregation was mandated in the South.

__________________________________

Harvest blessings.

Pass It On!

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