Friday, December 16, 2011

United by the Light

I have been absent for a while due to a death in the family. I just haven't been able to get myself to do much of anything other than the most basic necessities ... 

But as the year draws to a close, I felt the need to post something so I've decided to share with you the very first article I ever had published in a national magazine way back in 1998. (And I even got paid for it!) 

I originally entitled it There's Something about Christmas but the publication, Unity Magazine, retitled it United by the Light. I hope you enjoy it ...

Having been born and raised Jewish, I can remember as a child always feeling that I had missed out on something when the Christmas season arrived.  Our only acknowledgment of Christmas was a family dinner on Christmas Day.  And the only reason we did that was probably because everyone was off work on that day.

There was something so special about all those lights and decorations and gifts and special songs and Christmas trees ... excitement seemed to hang in the air and was so thick I could almost feel it ... but around my house we had no part in any of it.  OK, we did celebrate Hanukkah and light the candles of the menorah, and we even received some gifts ... but it just wasn't the same to me.

This year I seem to be in the midst of some kind of internal shift, because I am having a new and special awareness of both of these miraculous holidays of the winter season.  Everywhere I look, I am finding stories and articles about Christmas and Hanukkah and the spiritual and metaphysical significance of each.  It's amazing how many things they have in common.

I feel as if for the very first time I am seeing both of these celebrations as special and wonderful, and I'm proud to have reached the point in my life where I can choose to celebrate both.  Interestingly enough, a non-Jewish friend of mine went out and bought her first menorah this year, just because she wanted to have the opportunity to celebrate this holiday of lights. 

What I have found particularly significant is how both of these holidays seem to center on light ... the lights of the menorah and the lights of the tree and other Christmas decorations.  Without even considering the more religious aspects, I find it interesting that at the darkest time of the year, when the days are the shortest, both of these holidays focus on light as a beacon in the darkness.  What that means to me is that both of these holidays are about a recognition and celebration of the spiritual light of divinity which lies within us. 

Whether it be the lights on the Christmas tree or the brilliant reflection created by the candles of the menorah, it's all about honoring God by letting the light shine through us ... honoring the quality of our hearts ... honoring our divinity.

There's something about all these lights and the magical quality of the holiday season that fills children, in particular, with a sense of awe and wonder.  May we all remember, as well, to look at the world at this time of year (and every day of the year for that matter) with those very same "childlike" eyes of wonder ... seeing things as if for the very first time ... as beautiful and fresh and new.

Let us celebrate the true spirit of this season which brings us together, which unites us in the light.  As James Dillet Freeman once wrote of it, the Christmas Spirit is all these things:

"the spirit of faith in life,
a sense of the joy of living,
the Spirit of goodwill,
the faith that life and light will win the ultimate victory,
the love of God in the cradle of our hearts,
the heavenly light by which our mind is lit, and
the truth of our divinity."

May we live each day with that Spirit in our hearts. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Different Look at Thanksgiving

It has been something of a tradition of mine to write an article about gratitude every November. I’ve been thinking about it for several weeks … have made several vain attempts … and now, here it is Thanksgiving Day.

I was awakened today by Public Radio on the alarm clock/radio. (It’s the least annoying way I’ve found to get me up.) Any way, every day at exactly 10:55am EST, Garrison Keillor does a 5 minute segment called The Writers’ Almanac. Today he talked about the history of the Thanksgiving holiday … and I found it fascinating …

For those of us in the US, one of the first things we learn is school is about the 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving among the Pilgrims and local Indians that we have deemed “The First Thanksgiving.” It was prompted by a good harvest that year. The practice of holding an annual harvest festival did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s.

That we all know, but I learned something new today and in my inimitable way when I learn something new, I feel moved (more like compelled) to share it.

For many years following that first gathering, Thanksgiving was only celebrated in New England. Each state picked its own date for the holiday, some as early as October and others as late as January.  It was almost unheard of in the South.

It’s fairly common knowledge that it was Abraham Lincoln who established Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1863. What I was totally unaware of was that it took 17 years of advocating … and the force behind the effort was one single individual, a woman by the name of Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (October 24, 1788 - April 30, 1879)

An influential editor and writer (she authored the classic children’s nursery rhyme “Mary had a Little Lamb,” Sarah began her efforts in 1846. She wrote letters to five Presidents … Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln. Her initial attempts failed to produce any results, but finally after 17 long years, her letter to President Lincoln convinced him to support legislation establishing a national holiday of Thanksgiving. That was in 1863.

With the intention of fostering a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states, Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November. Prior to this, the only National holidays were Washington’s Birthday and Independence Day.

It was not until December 26, 1941 that the date changed to the fourth Thursday (and not always final) in November - - this time by federal legislation. It was President Franklin Roosevelt who agreed to sign a bill into law with Congress, making Thanksgiving a national holiday on the fourth Thursday in November.

And so, here we are … the article this year quite different from those in the past … but maybe not?

It would seem appropriate to me to take a moment and “feel” a sense of gratitude in our hearts for this tenacious woman .... Sarah Josepha Hale ... without whom we wouldn’t all be gathering together today to celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday at all.

P.S.  Hale was also an advocate for education. She believed and supported the idea that play and physical education are important learning experiences for children. In 1829, she wrote that "Physical health and its attendant cheerfulness promote a happy tone of moral feeling, and they are quite indispensable to successful intellectual effort."

She was also an early advocate of women's education, particularly higher education for women. She helped in the founding of Vassar College in 1861. Vassar was the first of the Seven Sisters colleges, higher education schools strictly for women and historically considered sister institutions to the Ivy League schools.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gifts and Seeds

In February 2006, I started my own radio show that I entitled The Empower Hour. Along with that I created a blog by the same name. Many of the posts dealt with the Guest of the Week and the associated themes. Others were just thoughts or ideas that struck me. Such is the case with the post below ~ ~ I hope you find it interesting.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

"We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us."
- - Romans 12:6 

I'm sure you are all well aware that just as there are no two sets of fingerprints that are alike, no two snowflakes that are alike, and no two sets of DNA alike, each of us, as what I would like to refer to as Spirit-Beings, on this physical Earth plane, are unique, one-of-a-kind, unlike any other.

It would then follow, that each of us would also have our own set of unique talents and abilities ... our gifts, if you will. Of course, it is up to each and everyone of us to determine and choose how (and if) we want to express those gifts to the world.

And just as the seed carries the potential of each living thing in nature, so we, too, each carry the seeds of our unlimited divine potential, as well.

Make note of the word potential (Coming from the Latin root meaning To Be Able.) For anything on earth, potential must be nurtured, perhaps protected and supported, in order to blossom and to bloom. Without the proper and necessary conditions for growth, seeds could very easily remain dormant, forever.

On the other hand, under the right conditions (whatever they may be) it is the simple, magnificent and natural way of life for seeds of every kind and variety to take root, sprout, grow and ultimately bloom into their full glory.

P.S. The Empower Hour blog in it's entirety can be found at the top of my Favorite Links on the sidebar.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This piece was written more than 10 years ago but the phrase the US in TRUST has once again been running through my mind. Many things have changed in my life and in the world since then but it’s always interesting to notice that some things don’t really ever change all that much. 


Did you ever notice the word US sitting inside the word TRUST?

For some unknown reason, that thought popped into my head in the middle of the night last night and kept running around my mind like a broken record.

In the morning, I was awakened by a phone call telling me that a 38-year old woman I knew had become seriously ill without warning, was on life support and not expected to live. The news shook me to my core. I called a Prayer Line for support for the woman, her husband and myself.

Then I began contemplating … about life and death and the US in TRUST.

In recent months, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that I have some major issues … deeply-rooted issues … around the idea of trust and for any number of reasons tend for the most part … Not to trust … myself or anything/anyone else for that matter.

The result is to always be filled with a certain sense (sometimes more, sometimes less) of doubt … uncertainty … separation … to never actually feel that I walk through life with any sense of surefootedness but rather cloaked in this wobbly, shaky, isolated, tentative feeling. Just another way of saying FEAR, I guess.

But now with this middle of the night message followed by the early morning call and my call for prayer help … I am sitting here overcome with a strong sense of calm and the seedling of a thought germinating within me that there is indeed a divine partnership of which we are all part … there is most definitely an US in TRUST.

And I can cloak myself in that feeling if I choose. I am not alone … unless I 

choose to see it that way. I do not have to live from a base of fear and uncertainty … unless I forget to remember the Truth. And it really is not a very complicated thing to do … to shift my perception … to refocus my gaze. It can be done in a moment … in the “blink of an eye.” But at the same time … it is not always such an easy thing to do either … with this life as it is … with all the challenges it brings.

But do it I can … do it we can … and do it we must … it would certainly seem to be God’s will for us in the first place …

And although the world at large seems to be very much in that wobbly, tottering isolated position at the present time … as each one of us … one by one … moment by moment … remembers the US in TRUST … we can all relax just a bit more … let go just a bit more … and the world can begin to be a lighter, brighter, more surefooted place for all of US.

©2011 Susan Schanerman

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Act As If !

taken from Idea Champions

Do you know what the opposite of a "professional" is? 

A "con-fessional." 

And, at the risk of being unprofessional, here's mine: 

One of the great secrets to manifesting anything on planet Earth is to act as if -- to proceed in the spirit of already having succeeded -- or what Steven Covey refers to as "beginning with the end in mind."

Why is this important? 

Because you already are what you profess to be, even if it's not apparent yet.
This state of mind, which is the polar opposite of doubt, could easily be construed to be some kind of con game. But it's not. 

In a con game, the intention is to deceive -- to manipulate others by pretending to be something you're not. 

When you act as if, you are simply being that which you already are, but hasn't manifested yet.
You are, as described in the introduction to Awake at the Wheel, the IDEA of something not yet fully embodied. 

The intention, always, in the game of creation, is never to deceive, but to CONCEIVE -- to bring into being a positive, life-affirming outcome.When you, with integrity, act CONFIDENTLY (from the Latin "con-fide" -- meaning "with faith") you are not playing a "confidence game" -- you are jump starting the creative process. 

Got it? Good. 

1. Suspend all doubt.
2. See your BIG IDEA as already manifested.
3. Fully express yourself from that place -- with authenticity, style, and a good sense of humor.

Excerpted from Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an uphill world).