YOUR IDEAL LIFE

Fireworks

As we welcome a new year, many people are making resolutions. I prefer to set goals rather than make a laundry list of “should do’s” that I will probably give up after a couple of weeks because they are just so dull, tedious and uninspiring! I promise you that the exercise I’m suggesting in this post will be a lot of fun and you’ll probably really enjoy doing it!

What I want to encourage you to do as 2018 begins is imagine your ideal life, the life you would want to live right now, if you had absolutely no restrictions. This is the time to let go of any limitations, such as money, time, circumstances, age…anything. The only rule is that the life you imagine must be a life that would suit YOU as the person YOU are. It has to be believable for you, or it won’t work. In other words, it would be of no use to picture yourself as the President of the United States if you have no interest in politics and would never run for public office, or to imagine that you are another person entirely (i.e., your favorite celebrity or public figure). This would be so beyond the realm of possibility that you would not be able to really get into the whole exercise. You can imagine your fondest dreams, but they need to be YOUR dreams; they need to be something that you can really believe!

Give your imagination free rein and ask yourself: If I could have any situation I wanted, what sort of life would make me happy at this time?” I specify “at this time,” because our idea of what constitutes an ideal life changes and evolves as we do. Don’t worry about whether or not you might change your mind one day…this exercise is for now.

Here are some suggested questions to guide this imaginative journey. Jot down your answers in your journal or a notebook for further development later on. Take as much time as you need to formulate your answers. This should be an enjoyable, relaxing and uplifting pastime – no pressure. Do not get bogged down or discouraged by thinking about what your life is right now. Just let yourself dream!

In your ideal life:

  • Where would you be living (town, state, country)? Near the ocean, in the mountains, in a big city? Warm climate, a four-season climate, a colder climate?
  • Who would you be living with (if anyone)? Would you have a spouse, partner, any children, any pets?
  • What things would be in your environment that would make you happy (furnishings, vehicles, other possessions)?
  • How would you look? What would you be wearing?
  • How much money would make you feel secure and comfortable?
  • What would be your ideal job/career?
  • If you are retired or don’t prefer a career, what is the ideal way you would spend your time most days?
  • What talent or skill would you excel at?
  • Would you travel, and if so, where would you go?
  • What would you love to accomplish?
  • What would you like to leave behind as your legacy to the world; for what would you most like to be remembered?

One effective way to come up with answers is to imagine how you would feel if you found out that you only had another year to live. Suddenly, all those unachieved goals, latent talents and unresolved issues would become front and center in your life. Use this as a jumping-off point to discover what really matters to you.

Now that you have your answers written down, it’s time to develop them into achievable goals. Take each answer from the preceding questions and tweak them so that they become realistic enough to become an actual goal. For instance, if you answered that “a billion dollars” would make you feel secure and comfortable, honestly ask yourself if you really would need that large an amount. Would you feel financially secure and be able to live comfortably with $1,000,000? With $500,000? Would an extra $100,000 or $50,000 give you peace of mind? This is a personal thing; everyone’s needs and comfort levels are different. It’s true that some people will never feel secure no matter how much money they have; but most of us have a “magic number” that we feel would do the trick.

If your dream is to be a Broadway star or a famous singer, this could be a possibility for some of you, but could you still be happy if you performed in community theatre, or sang with a band at local venues? Sometimes all we want is a chance to share our talents and shine a little bit, even if we never become superstars. After all, we know that fame and fortune do not always equal happiness.

After you have gone through your list of answers and come up with versions of them that seem believable to you, the next step is to formulate them into actual goals. I heard a great quote recently: “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Dreaming alone will never help us achieve anything; we need to unite dreaming with planning and action. Some of these goals will be short-term; others might take months, and still others years. It doesn’t matter; all that matters is that you create a plan that will bring you step-by-step closer to your dreams.

In this post, we’re going to take the first step in the plan to transform your dreams into achievable goals: Create a visual representation of Your Ideal Life. You can choose one or more of the following – or even do them all! It’s your dream, so do whatever works:

  1. CREATE A VISION BOARD: Get a large piece of poster board or foam-core board, or even one of those memory boards that people use for photos. On this vision board, you will post at least one picture for each aspect of Your Ideal Life. You can write “My Ideal Life” at the top of the board if you wish. Cut pictures from magazines, print out online pictures, or draw your own. Attach the pictures to your vision board, and in the center of the board put a picture of yourself, smiling and looking happy. Put the vision board in a place where you will see it every day.
  1. MAKE AN “IDEAL LIFE” SCREENSAVER: This is similar to the vision board, except that you will save the pictures to your computer as a screensaver. This is a great way to keep your goals always before your eyes! You can also post them in the image gallery of your smartphone where you can look at them every day, or make a collage of them in a photo-editing program and use them as the home screen on your phone.
  1. MAKE A TREASURE BOX: Buy an attractive box with a hinged lid, or use a decorative photo box with a lid. Embellish it any way you like with beads, glass gems, stickers, paint, etc. Inside the box put pictures and symbolic objects that represent each aspect of Your Ideal Life. For instance, if you want better finances, put some money in the box. If you want to live by the seashore, find a pretty shell and place that in the box. You can also write down each aspect of your dream on  slips of paper or index cards and place those in the box as well. Keep the box in a prominent place of honor where you will see it often. 
  1. CREATE AN “IDEAL LIFE” SCRAPBOOK: If you enjoy scrapbooking, or simply are the type of person who feels more connected by holding a tangible object like a book, buy yourself an attractive scrapbook and mount Your Ideal Life pictures inside it. Have a separate page for each aspect of Your Ideal Life. Give the page a title, and decorate it with appropriate stickers, or draw designs on it that represent your goals. Keep it in a safe place but where it is easily accessible to you.

Keep whatever visual representation you choose handy and look at it often. You do not have to have it in open view if you are afraid that other people will make fun of it or otherwise discourage you. Sit in a comfortable place when you have enough time to give it attention. Let the images, designs, objects and words permeate your consciousness. Smile as you immerse yourself in this visual representation of Your Ideal Life.

Another excellent way to impress your ideals on your subconscious mind is to visualize Your Ideal Life every night as you are falling asleep. It’s a way to put yourself in a positive mood at bedtime, which also can lead to better sleep.

Once daily is enough time to spend with Your Ideal Life exercise. Do not obsess over it. You must live in the present at the same time you are visualizing your future. If you get obsessive about your goals, constantly comparing your dreams to your current less-than-ideal situation, you will get depressed and discouraged about how far away you feel you are from them. When you do get disheartened because your dreams seem unattainable, just remind yourself that although you are not there yet, you are getting closer every day to a better life.

Also stay open to the idea that you might get something different from what you expect will make you happy right now, but it will be something that is actually better and more appropriate and attainable for you. Hold your dreams, but hold them loosely. Think of them like a little baby bird you have in your hand who will get crushed if you squeeze it too hard. Only if you hold it gently will it grow strong enough to be able to soar one day.

I have used all of these methods at one time or another. The first one I tried was the scrapbook. I was amazed a few years later when I came across the scrapbook again and saw that every one of the goals depicted in it had come true!

I want to close this post by apologizing for not having posted in quite some time. The reason is that I was reassessing my own life and formulating some new goals. One important goal is wanting to do more with my artwork. Art has always been a passion of mine since childhood, and although I have drawn, painted and done commissioned portraits for many years, I feel that at this time in my life I want to give it more attention, a more prominent place in my life.

Part of my plan for my own Ideal Life involves taking more commissions, doing much more artwork, and making people happy with it. I have spent the last several weeks making a new website for my art, and also creating more artwork. I do not intend to give up this blog, but I am working on balancing the various aspects of my life in a harmonious yet productive way.

If you’d like to visit my new art website, it is: http://gloriapinskerportraits.com

In my next post, we’ll explore more techniques to bring planning and action to your dreams to create Your Ideal Life. Happy New Year! I wish all of you the best in 2018. May all your dreams come true!

The Smiling Man

With love and praise to the Holy Spirit on this Pentecost Sunday

Whirly Sky.3

Originally posted in 2016:

The 1990’s were for me a time of spiritual searching. I had always believed in God and had always been able to speak to Him as a Friend and Father. However, at this time I had many unresolved questions about destiny, my purpose, life in general. I was at the time of life that many of us eventually encounter, when we search for deeper meaning and purpose in our existence.

In church one day, during this period of questioning and searching, I found a prayer to the Holy Spirit written by Cardinal Mercier, a Belgian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, who lived from 1851 to 1926. The prayer was short and simple and promised to be a life-changer if said faithfully every day. The prayer card quoted Cardinal Mercier as follows:

“I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to all the noises of the world. Then, in the sanctuary of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him:

‘O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me know only Your Will.’”

Cardinal Mercier went on to say that if you said the prayer daily, you would receive the serenity, consolation, grace and strength of the Holy Spirit, even in the midst of trials.

I didn’t know much at that time about the Holy Spirit, except for what most Christians know: He is the Third Person of the Trinity, He came to the Apostles at Pentecost, and at Confirmation He infuses us with His gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (awe). But all of these were only facts I had learned in Catechism class, not truths that I felt or understood on a deep, personal level. However, I decided to say the prayer every day and see what happened.

What gradually did occur when I put my trust in the Holy Spirit transformed my life and my relationship with God in ways I never imagined. I didn’t get all the answers to every question I had, but insights started to emerge – not the faltering human attempts at reason that the conscious mind produces, but serene, gracious, perfectly wise and loving answers that I knew were coming from a Source far greater than anything in my own power. I knew with deepest certainty that they were the true answers, because they reflected only the highest values and motives that I knew to be Truth, even at times when my human, conscious mind had been thinking just the opposite or had no answers at all.

Other changes began occurring. Because of the loving wisdom I was now perceiving in my life, God’s love became truly personal to me, a tangible thing, not merely the abstract concept I had grasped only partially before, which had consisted of thoughts like, “Yeah, I know God loves me. He has to love me, since God is Love and He created me.” Now God’s love and guidance became a real, vibrant force, not an idea or theory. Now when I heard Scripture being read or a sermon being given, I was grasping them with an understanding that really related them to my own life. I became aware that I was surrounded by love, protection and guidance from unseen sources that were as real as anything that existed in the material world – actually, more real! The gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit took on meaning as powerful graces that were alive and working in my life and were mine for the asking, not just words to be memorized. I entrusted my life and my future to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and asked Him to bless me with the gifts necessary to do whatever work God had planned for me.

SpiritDoveBlue

At this time, I was also doing a lot of dream work, studying about dreams and keeping a dream journal. Many times, I would pray and meditate upon a question at bedtime and see what insights I might receive in my dreams. I was a vivid dreamer, and would often have detailed dreams full of personal symbolism and meaning, which I faithfully recorded and worked on interpreting (more about dreams in a future blog article)!

In March of 1995, I began praying to the Holy Spirit at bedtime, asking Him: “Please help my unbelief, and show me what serving You will mean to me.” I also requested that the Holy Spirit would show me a way to visualize Him that would be more personal than the customary depiction of Him as a dove, tongues of fire, or wind, which were hard for me to relate to. I asked Him to send me a “Divine dream.”

On the night of March 25, 1995, I received an answer in the form of the following dream, which I call “The Smiling Man:”

In the dream, I am in a building that resembled an office building. I don’t know where or why I am there. As I walk through this building, I pass a man who is looking at me with a big, friendly smile. I don’t recognize him as anyone I know. I am wondering who he is. He certainly seems to know me, since he is smiling at me in such a familiar way. So I ask a woman nearby who that man is. She replies, “Oh, that’s the Holy Spirit!” I am thrilled and awed to be seeing Him, yet I’m surprised that he looks like a mortal, human man.

ID-100379192

I don’t recall now exactly what He looked like, but the thing that stands out in my memory was that radiant smile He was directing at me. He looked like an ordinary person – no fanfare, no great rays of light beaming from Him, no resplendent garments, nothing “biblical” in the least – just an ordinary man with a beautiful smile.

In the next scene of the dream, I am starting a new job in that same office building, and I am introduced to the group of men for whom I will be working. They all look like the man who had been identified to me as the Holy Spirit! I remark to someone standing nearby, “Well, since they all resemble the Holy Spirit, at least I’ll get a chance to see what it’s like to work for Him! I’ll see what kind of a boss He is!” There the dream ended.

Upon awakening from this dream (it was the middle of the night), I immediately closed my eyes again to see if I could get back into the dream or see some imagery to expand upon the dream. After a few seconds of lying there with my eyes closed, I suddenly saw an image of a page with writing on it that looked like a piece of verse. I barely had time to read it before it faded and I woke up completely. I grabbed my notebook and wrote down the words of the verse:

“Every time you hear selfless human words,

Feel loving emotions,

Or help another soul,

I am there.

My Truth is in everything you do with high motives.

Live your life with spiritual Light –

You will know Me.”

These beautiful words made clear to me the meaning of the dream: The Holy Spirit had looked like an “ordinary person” because He wants me to know that God is within every person we meet. We don’t always recognize Him  — as I didn’t recognize the man in my dream as being the Holy Spirit — but He knows us intimately and loves us with an unsurpassed love, symbolized by the man’s bright, beautiful, loving smile.

In the dream I was working for men who also “resembled the Holy Spirit” and I was curious to see what working for Him would be like, what kind of “boss” He would be. To me this part of the dream symbolizes that when we serve our fellow humans, we are serving God as well.  The opportunities to serve God are often disguised as ordinary tasks of daily life.  This answered my bedtime prayer of asking the Holy Spirit to “show me what serving You would mean to me.” (Thank You, Holy Spirit!)

As Pentecost Sunday approaches, I share this dream as an encouragement to anyone who has not yet discovered what a wonderful Friend (and “Boss”) the Holy Spirit can be.  I urge you to seek Him out, ask Him to manifest in your life and draw you closer to Him. He will enlighten and guide You and share His marvelous gifts with you, if you will only open up and let His light in. As the dream symbolized, by serving our fellow humans and living in the light of the Holy Spirit, we will find true happiness and peace, and we will know God.

Happy Pentecost!

002-pentecost

 

 

 

 

The Smiling Man

With love and praise to the Holy Spirit

Whirly Sky.3

The 1990’s were for me a time of spiritual searching. I had always believed in God and had always been able to speak to Him as a Friend and Father. However, at this time I had many unresolved questions about destiny, my purpose, life in general. I was at the time of life that many of us eventually encounter, when we search for deeper meaning and purpose in our existence.

In church one day, during this period of questioning and searching, I found a prayer to the Holy Spirit written by Cardinal Mercier, a Belgian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, who lived from 1851 to 1926. The prayer was short and simple and promised to be a life-changer if said faithfully every day. The prayer card quoted Cardinal Mercier as follows:

“I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to all the noises of the world. Then, in the sanctuary of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him:

‘O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me know only Your Will.’”

Cardinal Mercier went on to say that if you said the prayer daily, you would receive the serenity, consolation, grace and strength of the Holy Spirit, even in the midst of trials.

I didn’t know much at that time about the Holy Spirit, except for what most Christians know: He is the Third Person of the Trinity, He came to the Apostles at Pentecost, and at Confirmation He infuses us with His gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord (awe). But all of these were only facts I had learned in Catechism class, not truths that I felt or understood on a deep, personal level. However, I decided to say the prayer every day and see what happened.

What gradually did occur when I put my trust in the Holy Spirit transformed my life and my relationship with God in ways I never imagined. I didn’t get all the answers to every question I had, but insights started to emerge – not the faltering human attempts at reason that the conscious mind produces, but serene, gracious, perfectly wise and loving answers that I knew were coming from a Source far greater than anything in my own power. I knew with deepest certainty that they were the true answers, because they reflected only the highest values and motives that I knew to be Truth, even at times when my human, conscious mind had been thinking just the opposite or had no answers at all.

Other changes began occurring. Because of the loving wisdom I was now perceiving in my life, God’s love became truly personal to me, a tangible thing, not merely the abstract concept I had grasped only partially before, which had consisted of thoughts like, “Yeah, I know God loves me. He has to love me, since God is Love and He created me.” Now God’s love and guidance became a real, vibrant force, not an idea or theory. Now when I heard Scripture being read or a sermon being given, I was grasping them with an understanding that really related them to my own life. I became aware that I was surrounded by love, protection and guidance from unseen sources that were as real as anything that existed in the material world – actually, more real! The gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit took on meaning as powerful graces that were alive and working in my life and were mine for the asking, not just words to be memorized. I entrusted my life and my future to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and asked Him to bless me with the gifts necessary to do whatever work God had planned for me.

SpiritDoveBlue

Photo courtesy of dan at freedigitalphotos.net

At this time, I was also doing a lot of dream work, studying about dreams and keeping a dream journal. Many times, I would pray and meditate upon a question at bedtime and see what insights I might receive in my dreams. I was a vivid dreamer, and would often have detailed dreams full of personal symbolism and meaning, which I faithfully recorded and worked on interpreting (more about dreams in a future blog article)!

In March of 1995, I began praying to the Holy Spirit at bedtime, asking Him: “Please help my unbelief, and show me what serving You will mean to me.” I also requested that the Holy Spirit would show me a way to visualize Him that would be more personal than the customary depiction of Him as a dove, tongues of fire, or wind, which were hard for me to relate to. I asked Him to send me a “Divine dream.”

On the night of March 25, 1995, I received an answer in the form of the following dream, which I call “The Smiling Man:”

In the dream, I am in a building that resembled an office building. I don’t know where or why I am there. As I walk through this building, I pass a man who is looking at me with a big, friendly smile. I don’t recognize him as anyone I know. I am wondering who he is. He certainly seems to know me, since he is smiling at me in such a familiar way. So I ask a woman nearby who that man is. She replies, “Oh, that’s the Holy Spirit!” I am thrilled and awed to be seeing Him, yet I’m surprised that he looks like a mortal, human man.

ID-100379192

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at Freedigitalphotos.net

I don’t recall now exactly what He looked like, but the thing that stands out in my memory was that radiant smile He was directing at me. He looked like an ordinary person – no fanfare, no great rays of light beaming from Him, no resplendent garments, nothing “biblical” in the least – just an ordinary man with a beautiful smile.

In the next scene of the dream, I am starting a new job in that same office building, and I am introduced to the group of men for whom I will be working. They all look like the man who had been identified to me as the Holy Spirit! I remark to someone standing nearby, “Well, since they all resemble the Holy Spirit, at least I’ll get a chance to see what it’s like to work for Him! I’ll see what kind of a boss He is!” There the dream ended.

Upon awakening from this dream (it was the middle of the night), I immediately closed my eyes again to see if I could get back into the dream or see some imagery to expand upon the dream. After a few seconds of lying there with my eyes closed, I suddenly saw an image of a page with writing on it that looked like a piece of verse. I barely had time to read it before it faded and I woke up completely. I grabbed my notebook and wrote down the words of the verse:

“Every time you hear selfless human words,

Feel loving emotions,

Or help another soul,

I am there.

My Truth is in everything you do with high motives.

Live your life with spiritual Light –

You will know Me.”

These beautiful words made clear to me the meaning of the dream: The Holy Spirit had looked like an “ordinary person” because He wants me to know that God is within every person we meet. We don’t always recognize Him  — as I didn’t recognize the man in my dream as being the Holy Spirit — but He knows us intimately and loves us with an unsurpassed love, symbolized by the man’s bright, beautiful, loving smile.

In the dream I was working for men who also “resembled the Holy Spirit” and I was curious to see what working for Him would be like, what kind of “boss” He would be. To me this part of the dream symbolizes that when we serve our fellow humans, we are serving God as well.  The opportunities to serve God are often disguised as ordinary tasks of daily life.  This answered my bedtime prayer of asking the Holy Spirit to “show me what serving You would mean to me.” (Thank You, Holy Spirit!)

As Pentecost Sunday approaches, I share this dream as an encouragement to anyone who has not yet discovered what a wonderful Friend (and “Boss”) the Holy Spirit can be.  I urge you to seek Him out, ask Him to manifest in your life and draw you closer to Him. He will enlighten and guide You and share His marvelous gifts with you, if you will only open up and let His light in. As the dream symbolized, by serving our fellow humans and living in the light of the Holy Spirit, we will find true happiness and peace, and we will know God.

Happy Pentecost!

002-pentecost