Thoughts to Ponder

“Burn every bridge but love.”

Martha Beck*

That statement shook me to my center when I first read it. Does this mean I cannot feel anger, frustration, disappointment…? Do I need to turn into a Dalai Lama clone overnight.

Not at all. We have a range of emotions for a reason. We’re born with them and we need to know how to use them for our highest good. Let’s look at an example:

The city announces it is going to build a highway through our neighborhood. Most likely, we are going to feel anger, resentment, a need to get even…. Are we going to act on those feelings? Or can we go to the next city council meeting to ask questions: who, what, when, where, why and how? We can ask questions in a respectful, yet firm tone and quietly listen to their answers. Or, we can yell and denounce the board before they have a chance to respond.

Which would gain us the greatest amount of information and understanding? Once we have that information we can begin to plan our route to stopping the highway. Or, we may decide their reasoning is valid and prepare to sell our home for the best price possible, which might be the contractor’s offer, and start looking for a new home.

You can see that at each step we felt the emotions, but responded respectfully. Or, we could have reacted angrily and felt every moment of stress (high blood, pressure, chest pains, headaches) until we give up the fight, or carry our resentment into our old age.

By facing the situation thoughtfully and acting respectfully to all concerned, we are showing ourselves love, as well as those responsible and our neighbors. Our resentment becomes acceptance. Acceptance becomes love.

Living in love does not mean that we won’t feel the normal emotions. It merely means that we examine and accept or change our situation as we are guided by our conscience. We take action according to what is the highest good for us, and others.

Spirit, Please guide me to look at the situations in my life as opportunities to grow into a better person. Show me how to discard old, and new, resentments and angers. And, so it is.

  • Compass Points by Martha Beck, July 19, 2018,

Love Yourself

Thoughts to Ponder – June 7, 2016

 “Live today by the Buddha’s words: ‘You could search the whole world and

never find anyone as deserving of your love as yourself.’”

Martha Beck*

Many of us grew up with the idea that we shouldn’t brag about our accomplishments or show off in any way. That is true to a certain extent, but often we take it to heart and become people who turn a compliment into a put down. For example, some might say, “I like that dress/shirt/haircut.” In return we respond by saying, “Oh, see this tiny spot on the sleeve,” or “I really wanted my hair cut this way.”

Not only are we devaluing the sincere compliment, but also we are telling ourselves that we are not worthy of receiving a compliment. Over time we begin to think that we are not quite as good as everyone else. That insecurity shows itself in every facet of our lives. We settle for jobs that don’t use all our talents, loves who don’t respect our true selves and friends who like us because we aren’t competition.

Living by Buddha’s words is difficult when we first start to implement them. However, we find that each attempt comes easier. Eventually, we find that we are getting hired for better jobs, meeting potential love partners who honor us and actually trusting that we are worthwhile humans who have friends who respect our talents and choices.

Even after learning that we deserve our own love, we can slip back into old behavior. I did this recently. A man complimented my new hair style and I replied by saying something about not liking the way my hair looked that day. Then I chastised myself for negating his comment and learned from the mistake. A few days later another man mentioned he liked my new hair style. I just said, “Thank you,” and smiled. That felt much better and I’m sure he felt better than the first man whose compliment was rebuffed.

That’s a long way of saying that when we learn to love ourselves we also show more sincere love to other people. We can only reflect what we feel about ourselves.

Spirit, Please give us a gentle reminder each time we fail to love ourselves. Remind us that we are the best we can be and we need to honor and love ourselves. And, so it is.

*Beck, Martha, Daily Inspiration,, June 7, 2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, June 7, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon,, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by Available in print and e-format at

Love and Hate, where do they take us?

Love and Hate, where do they take us?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Recently we celebrated Dr. King’s birthday, each in our own way. Some went to memorial services or marched a few blocks to recall the difficult times of the 1960s. Others used the three-day weekend to go skiing. Some ignored the whole event. How did you celebrate or not? I used the time to complete some tasks at home while thinking about how my life has been impacted by this man’s teachings.

Opinions about Dr. King’s legacy vary, but not as widely as they did when he was prodding the United States conscience. I heard him called a leader, peacemaker, hatemonger and Communist (the ultimate epithet). I heard rants when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

I was not a part of the Movement, just a watcher, but have my own thoughts about that time. I hope you’ll indulge my memories and reflect on how your life has changed since Dr. King’s time on Earth.

One summer my family traveled south in our rattle-trap car to visit relatives. At one point I had severe urgencies. My dad stopped at a gas-station with outdoor facilities. The white restroom was closed for repairs. I ran to the other one and was turned away by a kind Black woman who told me I would need to go down the street a few blocks to another gas station. If she let me inside she would lose her job. This made no sense. A bathroom was a bathroom and I needed one – immediately.

At church I was learning about the dignity of all God’s creatures, but was seeing cruelty and hate on television. I saw bus boycotts, marches and sit-ins, fire hoses, church bombings, police dogs attacking marchers and masses of people crammed into tiny jail cells. These sights and sounds found a home in my mind.

I did not participate in any of these activities, but watched with a heavy heart. As a teen at home, my parents feared for my safety and forbade me to participate. Later as a young wife, I did not participate because I feared that an arrest would mean a pay-grade reduction for my Army husband.

Then 1968 arrived, and I thought the end of the world had arrived with it. We experienced the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, Dr. King’s assassination, riots and shootings, Robert Kennedy’s assassination and more riots and shootings. I was terrified. I “knew” this was the end. Just as television news terrified me, television also saved my sanity by airing the irreverent Smothers Brothers Show and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in.

Many years later I had the opportunity to interview for The Madison Times, Dr. James Jones who watched Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” from his office window while drafting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Not long after that Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for Congress, granted an interview for the same paper. They were both gracious and kind to this white woman who sat on the sidelines during the movement’s worst days.

Even now events occur that lead to riots and marches. We’ve come a long way but have a long way to go. We see interethnic strife not just in our country, but around the world. Attacks and murders by militants who think everyone should believe as they do are becoming all too commonplace.

I understand that as humans we are contentious creatures who tend to believe that someone needs to be the lead dog and it should be ME. However, we need to remember the words not only of Dr. King, but also of other leaders: Jesus, crucified; Ghandi, assassinated; and the Dalai Lama, forced from his homeland.

For a different perspective we can look at comedian Flip Wilson who portrayed Geraldine, a character whose catch-phrase was, “What you see is what you get.” We laughed and adopted the phrase as our own. Later I realized that along with Flip, the leaders I mentioned were saying that if you expect hatred, you will experience hatred. If you see love, you will receive love many times over what you expect.

Those people gained notoriety and fame for teaching peace. However, we internalize what we learn from those close to us: family, friends, and people we meet. I’ve learned that even though the news constantly bombards us with violence and hatred, most people I meet are kind. I see love in their eyes. Occasionally, I see fear, but a soft voice and kind actions turn the fear into appreciation.

Do you choose to see darkness or light?

© Sharon D. Dillon, January 21, 2015

I am not alone

 Since my mother passed several people have asked if my siblings helped take care of her and make funeral arrangements. When they discovered I am an only child they look shocked and say, “You went through all that alone! I’m so sorry!”

While I know these comments are offered in love, I have no idea how to respond. I was not and am not alone. Although my parents were supportive, some things were mine to handle. I learned early how to entertain myself and handle difficult situations.

One advantage of being an only child was that I had no “discussions” with siblings about what Mom would want. She rejected delaying actions such as surgery and chemotherapy. She had a living will and a prepaid funeral and burial. Her wishes were clear.

Family and good friends called or texted me frequently during the two months I was many miles from home. They offered love as well as advice and care packages that brightened those weeks. A special Mother’s Day gift was a video my daughters made of mom’s great-great grandsons.

Other visiting friends provided laughs and comfort. My best friend from our school years still lived in the area. She listened to my woes and shared what she had learned when her dear ones passed.

During the last couple weeks at her apartment three cousins and a volunteer sat with Mom while I went shopping or did laundry. Her neighbors visited and did small favors to make Mom’s last days easier. This support gave me the opportunity to do what needed to be done. My home meditation group supported us through prayers and assurances that life on the other side will be wonderful. Two pastors answered questions about the afterlife. Mom listened while I humbly offered my beliefs about that subject. It seemed to comfort her.

I can never express enough gratitude for the fantastic Hospice staff both at Mom’s apartment and at Hospice House. They listened to my worries and offered comfort as they provided optimal care for Mom. When she breathed her last Earthly breath, they were there with hugs and kind words. They and the funeral directors took care of all the details. All I had to do was to notify family and sort Mom’s belongings, a daunting task.

My school friend went along to make final arrangements. On Memorial Day she made sure I was busy and entertained. Other friends and cousins provided their loving presence and delicious food. My children drove several hundred miles to attend the visitation and funeral. They helped sort Mom’s belongings and gave lots of hugs.

The morning following the funeral my daughters and son-in-law left with the mementos they had selected. The next morning my son left with his car full of chosen items.

Then I felt alone. I couldn’t wait to leave that tiny, empty apartment and be home. The apartment complex manager agreed to handle what was left.

The next morning I hopped into my overstuffed car and headed home. Once here I was able to relax and enjoy hugs from my family and friends. I feel sad that my mother is no longer with us, but I am too surrounded by love to ever feel alone.

 © by Sharon Dillon, August 1, 2010