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Smile!

When You’re Smiling
By Larry Shay, Mark Fisher, and Joe Goodwin
Made famous by Louis Armstrong

When you’re smilin’ keep on smilin’
The whole world smiles with you
And when you’re laughin’ oh when you’re laughin’
The sun comes shinin’ through

But when you’re cryin’ you bring on the rain
So stop your sighin’ be happy again
Keep on smilin Cause when you’re smilin’
The whole world smiles with you

Oh when you’re smilin’ keep on smilin’
The whole world smiles with you
Ah, when you’re laughin’ keep on laughin’
The sun comes shinin’ through

Now when you’re cryin’ you bring on the rain
So stop that sighin’ be happy again
Keep on smilin Cause when you’re smilin’
The whole world smiles with you

The great big world will smile with you
The whole wide world will smile with you

Recent studies have shown that smiling changes the way your brain works and may even change other people around you. Different postures help you create your image of yourself. Since this song was first recorded in 1929, it seems that songwriters understood the power of a smile before scientists did.

What kind of Power does a smile have to create Peace and Nonviolence? As normally happens, it starts with Us and what we do as a group of individuals. But the real Power seems to be that smiling is contagious. If enough of us are smiling, then “the whole world smiles with you”. With the whole world smiling, it would seem that Peace would be at hand.

I have to ask myself what everybody is smiling about. Is it world Peace? I’d like to think so, but history indicates otherwise. But it might put everybody in the willing frame of mind to talk about it. Through that Willingness, Faith in the possibility is increased. Through that Faith, Acceptance of that “Reality” of Peace is made possible. Through that Acceptance, the “Reality” of Peace is achieved.

REMEMBER – I AM Smiling to change the world.
And So It Is!

~ Inspired by the Season of Nonviolence.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Judge Not…

There’s always something or someone that bothers you. That jerk in the office that really gets on your nerves. The @$$#0]^ that cuts you off in traffic. The &^!%@$$ that makes the embarrassing mistake in public. Well, as my Granma used to say, “That says more about you than it does about them”. That’s because your reaction to their behavior indicates what you believe. You might dislike that jerk because you think people should be recognized for their work without having to boast about it. By the way, those words you call “boasting” could be called “Marketing”. Just because somebody doesn’t follow your traffic rules (Rules that have nothing to do with real traffic laws, probably. And that you’ve never told anybody else), that doesn’t mean they saw you. It’s quite possible that you are dismayed by or laugh at or disdain that person making the mistake because YOU believe you just aren’t good enough.

There’s a couple of verses in The Gospel According to Matthew that say, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”. That King James English is sometimes a little hard to follow. Here’s the same passage from The Message. “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.”

It surely does. Because the way we judge others is the way we judge ourselves. Put another way, the way we judge ourselves is the way we judge others. Yes, you read that right. It’s not really 2 separate yardsticks. It’s one yardstick applied the same way with multiple measures on it that mean the same thing. That yardstick comes from our Personal Mythology. It’s how we see the world. It’s how we see ourselves. Even if you cut yourself a lot of slack while holding others to a firm line, you’re probably doing it because you think you can’t or don’t measure up.

In our competitive world, we are constantly measuring ourselves and others against this yardstick that we have created unconsciously. It may be the measurement of a stern parent. Or an abusive one. It might be the biased opinions of a teacher who has their own challenges. Religion, culture, and politics all can have unconscious effects on our mythology. Ultimately, however, it is our responsibility to create the way we see the world in a conscious manner.

This responsibility is manifested by action. First, by letting go of all of the old, unconscious stories that have created this judging aspect of our existence. At the same time, we have to seek out new stories that help us create the Life we want to Live. Ideally, you write your own stories, using your Intentions. Then you go about Living your Life based on both a conscious Personal Mythology and a consciously created set of Intentions.

REMEMBER – I AM letting go of the old stories, and writing the epic story that is MY LIFE.
And So It Is!
~ Inspired by being irritated by all the sound and fury, then realizing that irritation is with myself.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Courage.

This is the first day of the Season of Nonviolence. I first ran across this campaign in Science of Mind Magazine, when I read a piece on Arun Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson. The following excerpt from the website explains the event.

“The Gandhi King Season for Nonviolence (SNV) commences on January 30, in cities across the globe. The annual 64 day campaign, co-founded in 1998 by Dr. Arun Gandhi and The Association for Global New Thought (AGNT), is an educational, media and grassroots awareness campaign spanning the January 30th and April 4th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

One of the programs of the SNV is “64 ways in 64 Days”, a program that presents 64 ways to practice nonviolence and to live in Peace. There’s an interesting Peace Mandala that is an interactive way to be a part of the program.

The first day’s practice is Courage. Practicing Courage can be a challenge, especially with all of the sound and fury we can see in the world today. There’s an interesting quote on the Peace Mandala from a little known, but often quoted, writer with the pen name Ambrose Redmoon. “Courage is not the absence of fear; but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” Do we speak up when confronted by aggression, racism, or greed? Do we speak up with our own versions of those beliefs, or do we speak up with Love? It takes Courage to speak up when friends and family are the bigots, the narrow-minded, or the selfish narcissist. Sometimes it takes more Courage to speak up with those we know than with complete strangers. I thinks because we don’t know how to deal with bluster and BS, especially when it’s wrapped up in an aggressive personality.

It’s easy to say, “respond in Love”. But what does that mean? First and foremost, having a Peaceful mind and a Forgiving heart. If you’re not wound up about everything yourself, it’s easier to let all the sound and fury flow past you with minimal effect. And if it does hit a little close to home, not taking it personally. That means realize that his/her comments and behaviors speaks volumes about them, and nothing about you. YOUR response is what you’re all about. That doesn’t mean passive. Love, in all its forms, is a strong state of being. It can manifest in Fierce and Powerful ways. Love is always wielded with Understanding, Creativity, and Goodwill, along with a thick skin and a strong sense of self-esteem.

Even if the person you’re dealing with has taken, in your opinion, or in fact, a false or even silly approach to the situation, it’s important to keep a sense of Compassion about you. Don’t be condescending or judgmental. Since even a sincere smile can be misinterpreted, a good poker face is always an asset.

Why do YOU have to do all the work? Because you’re paying it forward to cover the next time you lose it. Or maybe paying it back, but the point is, we’ve all lost it from time to time. Hopefully, somebody helped us. So we should help someone else. That’s Love. And Love sometimes takes Courage.

REMEMBER – I AM a Courageous, Loving Soul.
And So It Is!

~ Inspired by the Season of Nonviolence

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Change The World

Abundance is a big part of Who We Really Are, whether we see that or not. We Live in a world that is tremendously Abundant. When we see our world that way, we share. This may surprise you, but we have enough when we share. When we don’t see the world as an Abundant place, we hoard and worry over everything we don’t have. And so many of us go without. It really has nothing to do with resources or population or economic system. It’s us. It’s how we view the world. It’s what our Personal Mythology tells us about our world. More correctly, it’s what we tell ourselves about how we see the world. The poverty, pollution, and paranoia are manifestations of those stories we tell. The Prosperity we have, whether it is material or Spiritual, comes from the stories we tell ourselves, too.

How do we get from all of the sound and fury to the Abundance so many of us want? How do we change the world? It begins with me. I change my world. I consciously and Intentionally see how I want to be. Not how the world should be, not how others need to be. Me. I can change me. I can let go of all of the toxic stories from the media. I search out stories of Love & Creativity & Prosperity. I stop listening to music based in rage and heartache. I revel in the tunes of “a heart full of Grace, a Soul generated by Love” (MLK). I look for the Good in My Life. I work to change the bad. In doing this, I begin the process of changing the world I Live in. As enough of us do this, we do, in fact, change the world.

As our world changes, we can help others as well. Not to force them to change into what we want, but to assist them in creating their own world. I’m not so naïve that I think there won’t be conflicts. But if we come from a place of Love and not “my way is the only way”, who knows what we could accomplish?

I can hear the cries of “What a Pollyanna!” I’ll remind you, as I have before, that the namesake of that story changed her world through positive thinking and gratitude. We can too. It starts with me. It starts with you. It starts with us.

REMEMBER – I AM the Conscious Creator of My Life. I AM the Conscious Creator of My World. WE ARE the conscious Creators of Our World.
And So It Is!

~ Inspired by turning off the “bad news” and sorting through some thought and feelings

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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I’d Love To!

Competition is all around us these days. Sports, business, and politics are all about competition at some level. I heard a politician* make this comment Sunday. “I’d love to compete against ____________.” That thought surprised me. Even after 7 years of working in politics, I’d never thought about enjoying the electoral process. An area where competition is especially prevalent is, of course, sports. One of the NFL quarterbacks takes such a great pleasure in the game. Last Sunday, I saw him smile even as he was knocked down after he’d thrown a pass.

And it’s that Joy that I think is the point of Life. Too many of us don’t enjoy Life. We may enjoy some parts of it, sure. Our circumstances can certainly have a dampening effect on any pleasure we might feel. But much of our misery and suffering comes not from circumstance, but expectation. We’ve been taught that life is hard. We see bad things happen, so we believe that life is, in fact, a bitch. That’s what we expect, and that’s what we see. Too often, even when something good happens, that’s dismissed as the exception that proves the rule. Our Personal Mythology gets written as, “Life’s a bitch, and then you die.”

But let’s go back to those earlier examples of the politician and the athlete. There are lots of politicians out there. I wonder how many really enjoy the competitive process we call elections? As near as I can tell, not too many. Are the folks that enjoy that stuff the successful ones? That’s a good question. Success in politics certainly doesn’t seem to be predicated on being positive. But if you reveled in the election process, you’d have an awful lot of what I’d call “positive” energy around you. I mean your joy in the rough and tumble would mean you’d come across as a much more energetic candidate. That energy might be positive or negative, but it’s there. And energy in politics attracts a lot of attention.

What about that quarterback? Competitive sports takes LOTS of energy. Enjoying the game gives you that something extra that makes such a difference. You play harder, giving more, taking more risks, reveling in the success. In sports, playing with that abandon, giving that something extra, seems to correlate with success.

A few years ago, I was at a music festival, and the band was really cookin’. And the dancers and spectators were really fired up, which fed the musicians even more. That pumped up the crowd more. It wasn’t a big name group, and there wasn’t a big crowd on the dance floor. Still, the energy was amazing! “Why don’t we put this kind of energy into everything we do?”, I remember thinking. We certainly could bring that level of energy and Joy to Life. I believe we should do that. Notice that I combined energy and Joy. We have plenty of fear, anger, and frustration in the world already. Let’s not add to that.

So how do you bring Joy to all of your Life? The simple answer? Do the things that bring you joy! I’m not kidding, either. Doing the things that make you happy is a fairly straightforward way to a Happier Life. Sometimes it’s hard to do those things. You might be in a tough situation financially or emotionally. You may have lost somebody special. You might be homeless or in a war zone or a survivor of a tragedy. I’ve not had to face all of those circumstances. But I’ve had a few things happen. I’ve had to choose Joy. I had to make the decision that I AM a Joyful person. It hasn’t happened overnight. But as I work on being that Joyful person, I’ve discovered that I AM, in fact, Happier than I used to be. I did that with the Intention, “I AM Joy”. I wrote stories into my Personal Mythology that reinforced the Intention, “I AM Joy”. I act as if I AM a Joyful person. And that’s what I AM. That’s Who I Really AM. Now to work on bringing that Joy to all parts of my Life.

Bring that Joy or Peace or Patience or whatever you want into your Life. Set that Intention, “I AM Joy” or “I AM Peace” or “I AM Patience”. Repeat that phrase several times a day, feeling Joy or Peace or Patience, You may have to act as if you are Joyful for some period of time, especially if you find yourself in less than Joyful circumstances. It can be hard to do. But that’s why you practice. To be a Joyful person, even when your outer circumstances ain’t so hot. That way, your Joy, your Peace, Your Patience isn’t dependent on circumstance. It’s just Who You Are.

REMEMBER – I AM _________.
Fill in the space with your choice of feeling. Use that in your practice.
And So It Is!
~ Inspired by a random comment, that I guess wasn’t so random after all.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

*I’ll let you decide who’s who when I’m making reference to politics, sports, or any endeavor that generates that kind of passion. That’s because the who isn’t important; the what is. And in all the sound and fury of modern life, arguing over personalities obscures the experience of LIfe.

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What If?

What If?
A Poem by Ganga White

What if our religion was each other?
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?
What if the Temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water—the rivers, lakes and oceans?
What if meditation was our relationships?
If the Teacher was life?
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
If love was the center of our being
©1998 Ganga White,

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It’s A Myth

If you asked folks the meaning of the word myth, most folks would say “something that isn’t true”. Over the years, we’ve taken that to mean it’s a lie. And that’s how most people use the word today. But as Joseph Campbell said,

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical”.

So does that mean myths are true?

Frankly, I don’t care if they are or not. Myths are loaded with so much TRUTH that the veracity just doesn’t matter to me. I see myths as the stories that form our life. They teach us how to get along, how to be adults, how to do just about everything. We tell them as fairy tales, family tales, and folk tales. Appropriate behavior is identified, often by what not to do. When my girls were growing up, I used to tell them stories about a character named Pinhead, who was always getting into trouble because he didn’t listen to his Uncle Plato and Aunt Alene. This was a combination of family history and folk tale. It taught family history and proper behavior. And it’s a part of our family mythology. It’s a story loaded with metaphor, a few pieces of “fact” and a whole lot of Love.

We each have a Personal Mythology, too. It consists of the stories we’ve heard growing up, the beliefs we held then, the stories we tell ourselves now, all mashed together into our perceptions of the world. I’ve referred to this Personal Mythology as your thoughtforms and as your personal consciousness. But it’s really our mythology; the stories that help us form our world.

What are the stories that are part of your Life? Are they the stories of childhood? Do they still apply to your life today? Are you still using beliefs from elementary school? Do they help you live your Life?

Those stories and beliefs may, in fact, be accurate and helpful for you today. But they may not be. They may be helpful your entire life, or they may not. As a person who had every thought, belief, and perception of his entire Life challenged at one time, believe me when I say it pays to take stock of your mythology on a regular basis. Not necessarily on a regular schedule, but when something in your Life ain’t workin’, see what is behind it. You just might find a childhood belief behind it.

REMEMBER – I AM consciously living my Personal Mythology every day.
And So It Is!
~ Inspired by a Soul School assignment.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Be Who You Are

I’m teaching a lot of classes on farm business this semester, and as usually happens, I’m learning as much, if not more, than the students. In this case, I’m learning more about how Intentions work by teaching about business planning.

For those of you that have no experience with a business plan, it serves as a kind of road map for a business. It lays out how to get a business started or expanded. It can also be a way to get a project accomplished as well. I’ve written several business plans for myself or for other people. I’ve done complex plans complete with spreadsheets for cash flow, enterprise budgets, and balance sheets. I’ve also done a business plan on the back of a dirty napkin. Every one of those plans worked, to some extent. What determined the success rate was how the plan was implemented. That’s where the learning has been for me lately.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the reason for the successful implementation was the Intention behind the plan. What I mean is, the more I saw the idea as a present tense kind of thing, the more effective I was in executing that idea. If you see yourself as a successful farmer, for instance, the more likely you are to behave as a successful farmer. “How else would you act?”, I can hear you saying. You could certainly act as an unsuccessful one.

I’ve listened to farmers (and other business owners) bitch and complain about how tough it is to make a living. This happened to me once at a farmers market, while standing beside another farmer who’d just finished telling me how much money he was making. They were selling the same products at the same market to the same people. The second grower is no longer farming, the other one made a good living. So it’s in acting as a successful farmer that you are a successful farmer. The right frame of mind produces a different set of actions, which produce different results. In this case, successful results.

That’s why Intentions are so important in Life. Intentions are the “I AM” statements that allow you to manifest Who You Really Are out into the world. “I AM a successful farmer” is a much different statement than “I want to be a successful farmer”. The first says that’s what you ARE. The second puts that off into some other time and place. “I AM” means you do this thing or that thing as what you are. In this case, anything that promotes you as a successful farmer is what you do. Anything that doesn’t promote you as successful or as a farmer? Don’t do it.

“Well, that’s obvious!” It may be, but too often, our actions don’t follow what seems obvious. If you aren’t used to being successful, you won’t necessarily always behave that way. If you haven’t been farming long, you may not see yourself as a farmer. It takes time to train our minds to do those kinds of things. How do you do that training? By acting the way you want to be. It’s called acting “as if”. Act “as if” you are successful. Act “as if” you are a farmer.

Sometimes that’s easy to do. Sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself, “Is this what a successful person does?” If the answer is no, then change the behavior. That doesn’t mean you should spend money you don’t have, or do something that makes no sense. Because what a successful person would do is have a confident view of their ability to handle a situation, regardless of how the situation played out. This confidence allows you to create from a positive frame of mind, a successful frame of mind, if you will. You’ll see opportunities instead of obstacles, challenges instead of problems, and freedom instead of limits. Your viewpoint creates results as much as your action.

You might find yourself doing something that you think a farmer would never do. If you identify yourself as a farmer, you’re quite likely to change your behavior, and act as you think a farmer acts. Just as in acting like a successful person creates a successful person by changing the way you feel about yourself, acting the way you think a farmer does will make you into a farmer.

This isn’t hocus-pocus or nonsense. Like the earlier example, you’re creating a mindset that seeks out the information you need to be a farmer. You might take classes with a farmer or an extension agent. You’ll seek out people and situations that bring you farming knowledge and experience. That’s what a farmer would do if they wanted to find out about an enterprise. “I AM” a farmer, you’d say, and so you behave that way.

Our minds see us as how we think we ARE, not how we think we want to be. So consciously see yourself as the way you are. Consciously behave as the person you are. Consciously BE.
Remember – I AM.
And So It Is!
~ Inspired by my students

Peace, Grace, And Love,
Jeff

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Let Go Of The BS

Star Wars has been a part of our culture for decades now. I’m no exception. I skipped class to see the first showing of Star Wars: A New Hope on the first day of release. And yes, I’ve seen the latest episode.

I was in a bookstore/coffee shop in the little town of Floyd,Virginia, recently. I ran across a book I’d heard about but had never seen, The Dharma of Star Wars, by Matthew Bortolin. I try to always buy something at any locally-owned bookstore I walk into, so I picked it up. It’s an interesting read, and if you’re interested in the ties between Buddhist philosophy and Lucas’ work, you should take a look.

In the very first chapter, Bortolin writes about what he calls the “should game”, the creation of all of the suffering we put ourselves through with all of the unexamined thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions that create all of our unconscious expectations of Life. In other words, it’s an unexamined, unconscious Personal Mythology that generates so much of the misery we experience.

If you think of your Personal Mythology as the stories you tell yourself that you use to create your Life, what do YOUR stories say to you? Have you ever taken the time to sit down and think about why you do something, why you believe something, why you see things the way you do? Most of us don’t. I know I didn’t til I was faced with a personal crisis. I’ve come to understand this is a common occurrence. Based on my experience, a conscious examination of all of our stories is a great way to start creating a Life based on Who You Really Are. It’s hard to be that person if your Personal Mythology consists of stories from other sources.

As you start this storytelling marathon, you find the word “should” comes up a lot. “I should do this because ______________. I should be in this profession because _______. I should wear certain clothes at certain times because _______.” Any of those sound familiar? As a gifted songwriter, Amy Steinburg, once sang, “Don’t should all over yourself. That just a lot of Bull-should!”

Joseph Campbell writes about the need to overcome all of the “shouldy” stuff in our Lives. Campbell states that one of the greatest pilgrimages in our lives is the quest to overcome the dragon, “Thou Shalt”, on whose scales are written all of the limits we place on our Lives through our unexamined mythology. That quest can be won through struggle, or it can be experienced as an adventure by letting go of all the “bullshould” in our Lives.

Letting go is not being resigned to whatever happens. Neither is it an acceptance of the limits of what is happening at the moment. Letting go is detaching from all of the expectations we have of our Lives. It’s ignoring the limits that we so often place on ourselves.

Detachment is Abundant thinking. It’s Faith that letting go of this attachment to whatever will allow you to be Who You Really Are. Freedom to be the Loving souls we came to Earth as. Opportunity to be the Creative beings we are as little kids. The ability to Thrive as the Abundant people we are.
The Mythologies and religions of the world are all concerned about this quest of Becoming Who We Really Are. In all of them that I am familiar with, the pilgrim on the quest succeeds only when he “wakes up” to what’s right in front of him. As the father of a son and two daughters, let me assure you that while the myths & scriptures may have a gender bias, Life does not. The quest is the same. Though the stories are centuries old, the quest is the same. Written on parchment or in pixels, the quest is the same.

It’s a part of our DNA to go on the quest. I think it’s why Star Wars is so popular. They are great stories. Use them to inspire you on your own quest. Start by letting go of all the bullshould in your Life.

REMEMBER – I AM a being of Love, Creativity, & Abundance. My quest in Life is to manifest that Being as Who I Am in this Life.
And So It Is!
~ Inspired by Matthew Bortolin, Amy Steinburg, Joseph Campbell, and George Lucas

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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What Is Abundance?

I Live with a psychology of Plenty in a state of constant Thanksgiving.

In the sentence that begins this post, I’m paraphrasing the words of Laurence Boldt, author of The Tao of Abundance. This is a really concise way to think of Abundance. Essentially, we are saying that we Live our Lives in Faith that we will always have enough, “a full measure, pressed down and overflowing”, and we are very Grateful for that full measure. Obviously, there are places where you may not have enough. Whether it’s a question of the scarcity of food or a scarcity of safety, this is a very real issue. So how do we have a psychology of Plenty in a world where so many die from the very absence of Plenty?

The answer is fairly straightforward. Share what you have with those that don’t have. It really doesn’t matter whether individuals or governments do this. It’s getting to the point of sharing that’s the issue. As a culture, we have this thinking that the world is a limited resource, and all of our economic systems turn on that premise. It’s because we measure Abundance, Prosperity, and Plenty in material terms. If I have money, health, power, relationship, or any of those external things, then we consider our Lives Abundant. I was thinking in those terms as I began this post. But that thinking is backward. As Boldt says, “It is not the world that is insufficient. It is the way we relate to the world, to one another, and to the deepest parts of ourselves.”

We have an unlimited Imagination that we can use to create a better world. We can imagine stories that remind us that by our very existence, we have access to unlimited ideas, regardless of our external circumstances. We can develop beliefs that support our ideas through telling stories that affirm those ideas. So we shape how our mind “sees” the world. And our perceptions drive our creative energy, the actions that create our world.

While that’s a simple set of statements, it takes Intention to make them a part of your Life. It also takes a good bit of Faith, and no small amount of Gratitude. What it takes most is Love. If you have Love and Compassion and Empathy toward All of Creation, then you’ll find it easier to share with those that don’t have enough. If you have confidence that you will always have enough, then it’s much easier to share. A sense of Gratitude gives you the incentive to share your Good. And that’s where the solution to the issue of spreading Abundance is found. Manifesting Abundance out into the world by sharing ideas through action. Money won’t necessarily change hands, But action will change Lives.

We ARE Abundant. In ideas. In Compassion. In Action. In Love. Share them all.

REMEMBER – I AM Living with a psychology of Plenty in a state of constant Thanksgiving.
And So It Is!

~ Inspired by The Tao of Abundance and Galatians 5:22-23

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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