"Enlightenment is intimacy with all things."---Dogen Zenji

Forgive yourself for what you think you've done or not done. At every moment, you had your reasons for all of your actions and decisions. You've always done the best that you could do. Forgive yourself.---Doreen Virtue

It was so quiet and peaceful in the neighborhood when I took Zack for a walk yesterday. Despite my objections to the commercialism and madness surrounding the holidays, it was nice to imagine the children waking up to find their presents under the Christmas tree, opening them up, or already playing with their new toys. Halfway through our stroll, chimes started to ring out from a local church. It started playing Christmas songs, and I sang or hummed along with them.

When I went to mass, the priest reminded us that Advent was about waiting and patience. The week before, he told us that his biggest pet peeve is standing in line to check out his one item, while the person ahead of him has a ton of stuff, paying with a check. During the Christmas Eve mass, a parishioner told him another story about patience. He was waiting at the toll bridge, and the driver ahead of him was taking forever, talking to the toll taker. He wanted to honk the horn but thought of the Monsignor's story from week before, and decided not to so he could set a good example for his young daughter that was in the car with him. The car finally drove away, and when he pulled up to pay, the attendant told him that the first driver already paid for his toll. I loved this story! This year, there were also anonymous Santas paying off layaway bills at stores, especially KMart.

In November, the Church changed the responses and some of the prayers during Mass, so the translations would be closer to the original Latin. The priest also said that in this year's series of Christmas masses, there were changes so the readings highlight that Jesus' birth equates with the arrival of His Kingdom on earth. Everytime we perform small, random acts of kindness, then we are becoming Christ-like and building our own kingdoms. The kingdom of God is within, after all.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

"As the Sun grows with each passing day, may your heart and Spirit be filled with Light."---Hands of Serenity Healing

"Dear Love Actually,

It’s Christmastime once again, and this year I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I love you. I really do. To be honest, I love you all year round, but especially during this time of year. Whenever I’m feeling sad or cynical about the world or about love, watching you always reminds me of the good in people, and how beautiful life can be.

Your writer and director, Richard Curtis, is a bloody genius. But I’m sure you already know that. He’s behind some of my other favourite films of all time, but he especially did a brilliant job on you. He filled you with so many characters and moments that are so memorable and beloved, it’s easy to lose count of them all. I recently asked some of my friends (who also love you, by the way) to share their favourite memories of you with me. This is what they said.

Crystal loves the scene when Jamie and his Portuguese housekeeper are having a conversation, each in their own native language, and neither of them comprehends what the other person is saying.

Emily loves the surprise rendition of All You Need Is Love during Peter and Juliet’s wedding, when David and Natalie are kissing backstage at the Christmas concert and the curtain goes up, and when little Sam runs through the airport after his first love, Joanna.

Jonathan loves the moment when the Prime Minister, David, finally tells off the President of the United States.

Shanna loves John and Judy, the timid porn stand-ins who shyly flirt with each other whilst enacting illicit scenes, and when Billy Mack realises that his manager, Joe, is the real love of his life, and they spend Christmas together rather than partying it up, rock star-style. She also loves the funeral for Daniel’s wife/Sam’s mum. Although she’s never actually on-screen (other than in photographs), she’s her own character, and the love, tenderness, and humour associated with her, Daniel, and Sam (and later, their evolving father/son dynamic) is just beautiful to watch.

Brooke loves when Jamie goes after Aurélia to tell her he loves her, and then proposes to her in broken Portuguese in front of her family as well as the patrons and staff at the restaurant where she works.

Shaw loves watching David dance to Jump (for My Love) by the Pointer Sisters inside 10 Downing Street when he thinks he’s alone, and the powerful, raw emotion of the scene when Karen is by herself in her bedroom listening to Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell, trying to process how her husband has betrayed her. Her pain is palpable, and the performance by Emma Thompson is stunning.

As for me? Well, I love when Sarah asks Karl to excuse her for a moment after they finally kiss, and she slips around the corner in her flat and silently does her happy girl dance. And my most favourite part of all: when Mark shows up with those heartbreaking, romantic signs to tell Juliet how he really feels about her.

Can you feel how loved you are, Love Actually? Can you? I surely hope so.

In closing, thank you. Thank you for being one of those rare films that I can watch again and again at various times in my life, never growing tired of you. Thank you for the laughter through tears. Thank you for getting Christmas Is All Around, All I Want for Christmas Is You, and God Only Knows stuck in my head for days on end after I watch you.

Most of all, thank you for giving me hope. You see, despite my proclivity for sarcasm, I’m really a sap and hopeless romantic at heart. And I’m quite sure it will seem ridiculous to some that a rom-com of all things could actually give someone hope, but I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. You do that, and so much more. You illustrate so beautifully the ebbs and flows of life; our losses and triumphs as human beings, our sadness and our joy, our weaknesses as well as our strengths. Most importantly, you remind us that love truly conquers all. Sometimes, in the midst of this crazy world we live in, it’s easy to forget.

I’ll leave you now with the profound words of your Prime Minister, David. Um, not Mr Cameron, but rather, the one charmingly played by Hugh Grant:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there—fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends… If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”

Best wishes for a very Happy Christmas. Mine will be happier because of you. And thank you again. You’re lovely.

Much Love (of course) and Affection Always,

Amie xx"---Amie Taylor from Anglotopia.net

"It takes two to speak the truth, one to speak, and another to hear."---Henry David Thoreau

"A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge."---Thomas Carlyle

Should you be an optimist or a pessimist? Well, life will support you in either choice. So the question isn't whether or not the optimist or the pessimist is right, but what kind of life experience you want. Be a pessimist and be right. Be an optimist and be right. Which do you prefer?
~ Soren Lauritzen

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."---John Muir

...that within each heart is a spark of the Divine. These sparks of Divinity and love can reach into the darkness and transform it. However, there may be times when you need to shine your heart extra brightly because others may be struggling to keep their spark alive. Let your light bring hope to a situation that feels dark and hopeless.

I had the weirdest dream yesterday so I thought I would document it because it was strange and fun. I was trying to decide if I should wed Jason Segel but Kris Jenner was mad at me because I wouldn't marry her son. I don't even know who it was, or how many sons she has. I just remember thinking I would never become a Kardashian. Anyway, all of a sudden, I was in my lovely wedding gown at the venue. I see Jason and I told him it's bad luck to see each other before the wedding. He told me it was OK because I wasn't completely ready yet. (I still had to do my hair and make-up. Why I would wear the gown around without getting that done first is beyond me.) So my high school classmate Dr. Iris does my make-up, and tells me she doesn't have a veil or tiara or whatever headpiece I should have on my hair. I try to reach one of the Jersey Shore girls (again, I don't know who it was) so they could get me one. I remember wanting a tiara at least, something Arwen, Elrond, or Galadriel would wear. I notice that I'm wearing flat brown shoes and mismatched socks. Actually, the left one was a sock, and the right one was a stocking but it had a run in it. I wasn't concerned about getting hosiery that matched. So now I'm looking for one without a hole in it. I didn't even want different shoes. I decide to wear another dress instead, like the one Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy wore, but in blue. As I'm in the room getting ready, Jason's co-star on "How I Met your Mother"Josh Radnor professes his love for me. I figured it was time to wake up at this point. I woke up with the sense that Jason was the right husband for me. Probably because he loves Kermit the Frog and the Muppets.

Before anyone thinks I'm a lunatic or reality show junkie, I THINK I can totally explain everything. I had watched The Muppets movie this past weekend, and saw Jason Segel's interview on Conan. We were also watching The View at work when Barbara Walters revealed that the Kardashians were on her list of Most Fascinating People of 2011. Along with her co-hosts, I reacted violently to this. (I'm hoping for a time when they will not be on the news ever again.) Then later that day, one of our patients was talking about the dastardly Kardashians again, then went on to her other favorite reality show, Jersey Shore. I found out that Snooki's friend Caitlin Ryder works where I work ( I see her all the time but didn't know she was Snooki's gal pal.) As far as the wedding, I had been looking at Facebook wedding pictures of my brother-in-law's niece. Or maybe because I saw a picture of Bella with Edward at the altar, showing the details on the back of her wedding dress. Socks? I have a teenage patient who always wears mismatched crazy socks, and thinking how fun that is and wondering why I never did that. "How I Met your Mother"? I never watch it unless it comes on after our FX movie at work, and even then, I'm not really watching.

I still have no idea why Iris was doing my make-up. Does anyone think I need psychotherapy?

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."---William James

"Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling."---Margaret Lee Runbeck


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