Lent Vignettes: Some mindful changes for this Easter Season

  For this week of Palm Sunday, the Lent Resources from Creation Justice Ministries gives us a helpful guide to seek a greater understanding of the many ways we can become more involved with our carbon footprint on the Earth, as well as the many diverse issues that make up the environmental footprint we create. A Mother Lode of information at The EPA Website   For example, there are more than 16 categories of different topics that the EPA-the Environmental Protection Agency, lists that serve as guideposts for those who want to learn more on environmental issues that impact us. The topics listed include: Air/Climate Change/Environmental Justice/ Health/Mold/ Radon/ Land& Waste Cleanup/ Water Topics/Pesticides/Emergency Response/Greener Living/Lead/Science Topics/ Environmental Information by Location. So you can well understand that when we simply say we would like to learn more about the environment, there are so many different areas of interest that could include! Some mindful changes for this Easter Season   As we are heading into Easter season, there is a site that helps us understand Fair Trade issues impacting developing countries. Go to Equal Exchange Coop and learn more about the different gifts you might give, including chocolate and fruit. There is also a site on the EPA governmental website to help educate us on the impact of food waste and how to reduce the amount of food we throw away. Small changes in our lives, such as choosing reusable water bottles instead of disposable ones, can also impact the environment over time. Brown Bag Organics At 6 Degrees, we are also mindful of the many changes that are needed in this time of change and upheaval. This includes a war that makes us think about fossil fuels and trying to reduce our own energy needs and carbon footprint. We have a Brown Bag Organics page on the website, as well as the Brown Bag Organics magazine and Facebook page. They are all designed to help educate our followers about the many varied topics that make up the issue of Climate change and our environmental impact on Earth.  And as we are also approaching Earth Day on April 22nd, we are even more mindful of the changes we can make as we work together to plant trees & change hearts & minds! Creation Justice Prayer Here is a prayer from the Creation Justice site that helps us understand the needs of those who are praying for change: Like Job in the whirlwind, or Jonah in the storm at sea, we come before you in awe of your power, God. We recognize that today’s storms and whirlwinds are not your judgment on your people, but the distortion of natural systems through our own sin and hubris. As the storms and whirlwinds of the climate crisis accelerate around us, may our sanctuary be a place of refuge and resilience, where all of God’s creation might be protected and sustained, and from which we, People of God, might be sent forth to bring healing and justice.

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Five Favorite Things for April!

We should really start off with April Fools Day! April Fools is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s tailor made for those of us who are inclined to not take ourselves too seriously…And last month we honored those funny people we love most on “Let’s Laugh” Day. The theme for April is Green Shoots and Simple Abundance. This month, as with every month, it’s hard to narrow it down to just five favorites…but here goes: Number One: Library Week & Book Day! April 4th – 10th In April, we are kicking off the month at 6 Degrees thinking of books. Those books we love the most, and the ones that we never have enough time to read! On the website, there are 6 Degrees books of course, but also the books from Reverend Philip Lee. Reverend Lee wrote the much revered authoritative book on the Christian Right: “Against the Protestant Gnostics.” Another Canadian author and environmentalist is Philip Lee Jr. His newest acclaimed book is “Restigouche: The Long Run of the Wild River” There’s a  friend from my Church days, Sarah M. Bonnema, who has written a fantastic children’s book called “The Color of God.”  And there are some books offered from my mentor, Gretchen Rubin, who writes about happiness in “The Happiness Project” and also has a best-seller called “The Four Tendencies.” Oprah, of course, has her famous book club, and Gretchen Rubin does recommend a list of books to read on her site. We have started The Sunday Reads at 6 Degrees, and it features monthly book recommendations, but also a list of articles and long reads that are diverse and interesting as well as topical!   Number Two: World Health Day April 7th World Health Day is a time when we remind ourselves of the resolutions that we were going to make or the ways we were going to try and eat more veggies! So the new Brown Bag Series of Posts will help remind you that we can’t always be perfect, but it pays to stay informed, especially as we are all trying to find a balance of the new ‘normal’ in a post-COVID world!   Number Three: National Pet Day is April 11th I had a good friend who would tell me that every day was National Pet Day at our houses, because we loved our dogs so much! No matter what kind of pet you have, we celebrate them all…This month, we are most excited about the new Facebook page: My Dog Journal, and the website page offering a chance to send us pictures of your favorite pups to highlight on Tee-Shirts, on Mugs, on Totes or even on your Journal. We also offer a Pet Memorial Album, to download for sharing pictures of your beloved pooch that has traveled over the Rainbow Bridge. Here’s a link to the origins of that familiar phrase we pet owners use to acknowledge when our animals are ready to cross over to the other side.   Number Four: Easter Sunday is April 17th Easter Sunday is April 17th this year, and each week we have discussed in our Lent series a few topics that tie in to our Easter theme this year of Simple Abundance.  Not only do we suggest simple ways to become more mindful of what we eat, but also the things that we need to focus on in our everyday lives. They are the Green Shoots that give us hope and make us grateful for all the abundance we have here in America.   Number Five: April 22nd is Earth Day at Brown Bag Organics That brings us to Earth Day! This year, not only are we excited about the Brown Bag Organics tie -ins, with Green Resources and Carbon Footprint trackers, but also the Earth Day Products we can enjoy! Those practical items that will help us  be not only mindful of our planet, but also offer solutions as well as statements of how we plan to act in our everyday lives.   April is a time for grace and celebration, for fun and laughter as well as family and fellowship. In other words, we will enjoy the times we gather together as well as those times when we work and plan and look forward to the good times yet to come!   Have a wonderful Easter Holiday, all my friends who follow us at 6 Degrees. We are always planning new adventures here and look forward to hearing from all of you… Like and follow us on Facebook at 6 Degrees Writer and now at Brown Bag Organics and 6 Degrees of Film pages.   Don’t forget to download some fun Freebies like your 2022 Mini Planner and Self Esteem Journal. And check out the Earth Day line from Brown Bag Organics….Tee-Shirts/ Mugs/ Totes & Journals!   “Tell me what you pay attention to & I will tell you who you are”-Jose Ortega y Gasset   Check it out: Sunday Reads on Facebook Vignettes : April is Pale Fawn Fluff & The Serenity Prayer for the not-so Serene 6 Degrees of Film Round up: Monthly Film news and weekly updates on FB Lent Series: Brown Bag Organics Facebook Page My Dog Journal on Facebook

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Lent Series: Reminder to all on the Judgment of Nations

St Augustine: God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. If the center is everywhere, it is where you are. You are the center of the universe, the center of God. Somehow, I’m not seeing this as a self-centered and narcissistic statement.  Instead, I believe it’s a view of the notion that we are God-Centric. And with God working to create a better world, we must begin within ourselves. Neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, families helping other families in need, and so it goes that in helping others, we can begin today. That is the way that we can create a better world one step at a time. Thinking of the people in Ukraine, and the ones that we need to help who are in need, it suddenly makes more sense to hear Jesus’ voice in scripture talking about the Judgment of Nations: “Just as you do to the least of these…so you do it for me..” Matthew 25:40 On April 22nd, on Earth Day, you can sign up to become part of the members who will invoke the National Climate Prayer. Here is an excerpt from it: …We pray that love & wisdom might inspire my actions and our actions as communities so that we may look into the eyes of brothers and sisters…and truthfully say we are doing our part to care for them and the future of the children. May love transform us and our world with new steps towards life.

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Lent Vignettes: On Denial & Affirmations

The practice of Lent has often been associated with denial and giving up certain things in order to remind Christians of the sacrifices that Christ made for us. In the practice of Lent, there has been an emphasis on fasting, on denial, and on taking things away. In a different pattern, the idea of Lent can be practiced with mindfulness. Tracking your Carbon Footprint Instead of thinking about ways to fast or to give up, the idea of  simply drinking a glass of fresh water and saying a prayer of thankfulness for clean water can be a new practice. And visiting the site where you may track your Carbon Footprint may lead to new ideas about ways to ‘green’ your home. These are affirmations, and positive ways to declare your intentions of living pro-actively and mindfully going forward. In keeping with the practice, the Book of Genesis in the Bible begins by telling us that God asked his newly created human to tend to the Garden and till the Earth! (Genesis 2:15) We are keepers of the Garden and the little blue dot which is the beauty of Earth. Think of a list this week of affirming actions you can take to help become a better steward of the Earth during Lent.

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Lent Series: The Revival of Lent

Lent is often seen as a revival of sorts. It is the time when the northern hemisphere moves from winter into spring. We see green shoots coming up from the ground. And when we see new growth, we think of the rebirth of spring. And so with Christianity, it’s a time of contemplation and renewal. We renew our vows to serve and often pledge to give up those things which we cherish. It’s a reminder of the sacrifices that Christ made for us. The kind of yin and yang, the push and pull of the Lenten spirit and season is part of our continuing quest to try and live our lives in spiritual harmony. As we seek to revive our own spirits, which are at times weak and can be low if we lose faith, we look inward to heal and to revive our souls. That is the spiritual necessity and the power of Lent. In this time, we are seeking to revive our flagging spirits and to restore our souls. “The Fewer words, the better prayer”-Martin Luther For the week: On Monday & Tuesday: On Prayer & Giving When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-6 For Wednesday & Thursday: On Sleep I will lie down and sleep in peace for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in Safety. Psalm 4:8   Friday & through the Weekend: Turning your mind to higher thinking Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

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Five Favorite Things for March!

The month of March is filled with fun and happiness. 6 Degrees website is celebrating all month long with ways to “Find your Laughing Place.”  Our Irish heritage is able to sync with the fun and spirit of Mardi Gras as we begin the month on Fat Tuesday, March 1st this year! We will continue the party with friends & family who have always loved celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. This year, the fun begins on Wednesday, March 16th (My Mom’s birthday!)….and we continue the celebration on Thursday, March 17th the “official’ St. Patrick’s Day Holiday!. Here are the dates and some more of our favorite things in March to count down the many ways to find your own personal laughing place! Number One: Mardi Gras! Tuesday, March 1st begins the month right with Mardi Gras! Celebrating the spirit and energy that is unleashed each year in the city of New Orleans, we will be following along on Facebook, so join us at 6 Degrees Writer…And remember to sign up for our Lent series each Sunday: Spiritual Signs of Spring. Number Two: Hug your Dog Day  Hug your Dog Day is Thursday, March 10th. And of course, we hug our special pooches every day we can! This is an exciting new page and special Facebook page for 6 Degrees also. We will feature the downloadable Memorial Journal, for those of us who remember and never forget our friends who crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  And along with our monthly magazine, “Doggie in the Window,” our new products page will also have a special place for mugs & T-shirts & Totes that our personalized with pictures of your favorite Fido! After all, our dogs are always the gateways to find our true laughing place!   Number Three: Let’s Laugh! National Let’s Laugh Day is Saturday, March 19th. I don’t know about you, but some of the best things in life for me are those moments when I can laugh with friends and think of the good times we’ve shared.   The International Day of Happiness is also celebrated that day! So let’s remember to laugh and celebrate…and join us on Facebook and Social Media as we are looking for stories about some of the funniest women you know in your life (I have some doozies!). Of course there are funny men and women…but we are honoring women this month with National Women’s Month too!   Number Four: Mindfulness comes with World Water Day World Water Day is Tuesday, March 22nd. Brown Bag Organics will be launching our special page dedicated to celebrating our abundance of water. One of our many blessings living in a country with so many abundant things is our land, with water as a precious commodity to be shared and conserved!   Number Five: The Oscars are here! Sunday March 27th It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year for those of us who celebrate film and love all the trappings that go with the Oscar Presentation! At 6 Degrees of Film, it’s hard to believe our book is nine years old this year! And the blog posts we present monthly of film round-ups, plus our weekly Facebook posts and the E-book of “The 100” are all a part of the ongoing celebration of film! Check out our new products pages where you can order special T-shirts, mugs & totes with 6 Degrees of Film logos as well as those featuring some of your favorite movie posters and stars from the past! And don’t forget to sign up for the latest in film right here… I am remembering that old poem that goes something like, “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” (Robert Louis Stevenson) And though we all face trials and tribulations in our lives, there are some moments that need to be carved out to celebrate and enjoy and simply have fun and laugh! Here is hoping that March brings many such days to your doorstep, friends, and that you will look for more ways to find your “laughing place!”   “Part with self-conceit, for it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows”– Epictetus

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Monday Muse: Letting Go

Letting Go We all have heard that glib and pat phrase when someone hurts us: “Just let it go!” And you of course, say or feel-“That’s easy for YOU to say!”…Because when you are hurt or wounded by life and feel down, it’s not easy to dismiss feelings of anger or bitterness or depression. It’s particularly hard when we think of the unjust things that have been done to us in the past. The phrase, “I could write a book!” comes to mind. If we let our hurt feelings and anger just take over, we can keep going and nurse those bruised feelings forever. But we know that, for our own good, we need to move on at some point. And after we have chosen to release and to let go, to think of other things, other people, we may often find there was a reason behind some of the things that happened to us,  and we can choose to forgive.  When we know we are living in God’s world, in a kingdom of a higher power where no man is infallible or without sin and pride, then we can also begin to surrender the outcome that may occur. Our highest expectation and what is later seen as our “highest good’ in our own lives may not always intersect! We may begin to worry less when we realize that we are not the final arbiters of our own destination. When we hear the existential saying that “Nothing is written” we can respond that yes, nothing is written that we can understand or comprehend in our lives. But everything is written to a script that we cannot see or read, but we can trust our highest good and positive outcome when we learn to let go of those things in our lives that we cannot always control. Blossom During the spring, we take heart in the fact that blossoms begin to appear. And so it is that we talk of ‘green shoots’ appearing at the end of a long period of economic downturn or even after the pandemic is ending. And if someone has begun to mature and to look and act in a new and positive manner, we say they have ‘blossomed.’ We need to learn to recharge and to blossom each day. In times of prayer or meditation, we connect spiritually with a higher power that can lead us away from dark thoughts and bad experiences.  If we learn to rejuvenate and to blossom in our love for others and for ourselves, we can put down roots that will spring up ‘green shoots’ everywhere in our lives. There is a promise of a better tomorrow when we learn to blossom in our spirit today. Evolve For those of us who have had to let go, and for those of us who have learned to blossom and evolve, we know that the world is a changing universe. As a child of God, and as we live in an ever-changing world where we seek and trust in our highest good, we also know that we are going to experience a spiritual evolution in our lives. Through understanding, wisdom, time, love, faith and strength we will evolve and grow as spiritual beings. This is at times a gradual experience. Although some may have experienced an evolution of faith “on the road to Damascus.’ During this season of Lent, we can understand the need to celebrate our own spiritual evolution and recognize the lifelong journey we take. Mantra: This week I will practice the idea of letting go of things in my life that I cannot control and have caused me pain. From there, I will think about the ways I can blossom as a human and a spiritual being, through my own creative thoughts and in my life, perhaps helping others as I go. Finally, I will recognize the journey I’ve taken myself, and that of others who have evolved in a positive way in their lives and their habits. And I will concentrate on the joy of the positive energy I can create when I continue to blossom and evolve in my life!   It is like a mustard seed that someone took & sowed in the garden; it grew & became a tree-Luke 13: 19  

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