Archive for the ‘Gratitude – Thankfulness’ Category

Why are we here?

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Deer and Tree at Sunrise-v.1








We did not come here
to this planet of deep mystery
to fix what we think is wrong

We did not come here to suffer
though surely we can do so

We came here to look at the stars
and remember where we came from

We came here to look into each other’s eyes
and see ourselves

We came here to thank the flowers
for showing us that we are blossoms, too

We came here to Love

Drama grows like weeds
in a world of duality
so we root ourselves in oneness. . .
which is acknowledging
who we really are

Love is always On Time

Everyone Has Ancestors

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Mayan ceremonial fireAs we approach the holiday season I am moved to share some of what Lisa and I learned during our ancestor studies with Mayan spiritual guide, Don Rigoberto, in Guatemala last month.

The Mayan vision of the cosmos is based on relationships – relationships between people, between people and ancestors (or lineages), and between people and the universe. The first focus is on relationships with ancestors, for everyone has ancestors – this is universal. We all have roots.

There is an infinite line of generations and we don’t know how far back (or how far forward) it goes. Our parents have (or had) beliefs and customs and maybe we don’t like them. But in this chain of generations what is passed on is not the passer’s fault. Or perhaps we are gifted with creativity; we don’t know how far back that attribute entered our lineage, either.

When we don’t respect our ancestors we isolate ourselves from the line of ancestors and are without harmony. This is the origin of evil – when we don’t respect the values, beliefs, and principles of our ancestors.

When we cut ourselves off from our ancestors, we cut ourselves off from a part of our self. If we sever communications with ancestors, we are isolated and stuck, we are like a tree without roots. When we remain connected with our ancestors we retain our roots (values, beliefs, principles). It is also our responsibility to pass along what our ancestors gave us.

There is a chain of reincarnation. Some of each ancestor’s essence reincarnates three to four generations down the line.  If we don’t have kids we pass along our lineage through our siblings’ children or through other children we have a connection with. It’s a tying together of energies – the fruit of our exchange. Our togetherness is not a coincidence.

We contact the ancestors through sensitive, delicate ceremony. We can also make connections with ancestors through meditation and dreams. Holding onto our ancestors’ values is way to retain connection with them. The first step is to recognize and accept that we have ancestors, then we venerate them. We thank them and say prayers for them.

Facing the west at midnight is the best time to contact ancestors. We sit in a meditation pose with eyes closed and think about them. We take a journey back in time and pray they reveal themselves to us in our dreams. This is an active search for  our ancestors – and they are looking for us, too, their descendants, for when a person dies energy remains.

In addition to Don Rigoberto’s wonderful teachings, Lisa and I were blessed with an ancestor fire ceremony that he led us through, and the photo above is of that fire at an ancient altar in Momostenango.

All Is Right

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Blessed sunrise on sacred mountain warms the soul with gladness

Light the candle and lay out stones at lakeside in honor of communion

This place an altar of earth and sun and spirit

Brings the heart into its temple

And all is right


(photo by James K. Papp at Garnet Lake in the California High Sierras)

Happy Black Friday! by Barry A. Dennis

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Thank you to our friend Barry Dennis for this timely and thought-provoking post. Barry is the author of The Chotchky Challenge – Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind…and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul. He is also a musician, inspirational speaker, and coach. We loved attending a service at his Coexist Celebration Church in Oregon where Jim was asked to speak on Kindness. We took “The Chotchky Challenge” and have benefited greatly. Will you join us?


Happy Black Friday!

by guest blogger Barry A. Dennis

To date, I have received 3 e-mails celebrating the joys of Black Friday. Not one wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. Each one of these e-mails came from some entity doing their very best to convince me that I will be happier if I buy more stuff.

I know this may sound crazy, but I had no idea what Black Friday was until 3 years ago. I overheard someone say, “Black Friday is my favorite holiday”. I asked them “What’s Black Friday?” They looked at me like I was crazy. And, well, maybe I am. Really. This is a distinct possibility. I might be certifiably nuts.

Or maybe, just maybe, our society is a little insane. It could go either way. The jury is still out.

Despite what you may have heard, the term Black Friday began in Philadelphia in the early 1960s by the police department referring to the chaos that ensued the Friday after Thanksgiving. Later, retail employees picked up the term. And, let me assure you, in both instances it was not an endearing label. An employee who worked at a department store in the early 70s wrote the following…

“The dire warnings came from the sweet older women that took me under their wings at John Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia shortly after I was hired as temporary holiday help in October 1971. They warned me to be prepared for the hoards of obnoxious brats and their demanding parents that would alight from the banks of elevators onto the eighth floor toy department. The feeling of impending doom sticks with me to this day. The experienced old ladies that had worked there for years called it ‘Black Friday’. I’m quite sure it had nothing to do with store ledgers going from red to black.”

I titled my book The Chotchky Challenge because it is very challenging to change how we see the world, to question it. To most literally… change our mind. And yet, in order to evolve, change is required.

I submit to you the possibility that the “hoards of obnoxious brats” referred to by the employee from the department store were not inherently obnoxious or bratty. But, through the slow and steady process of entitlement that is not only accepted in our society but also encouraged, the kids became what we want them to become. Good consumers full of “wanting” which can make anyone a little obnoxious.

You see each email I received exalting the joys of black Friday were attempting what is called “the creation of wanting”. This is the goal. To actually create in me a “wanting” that can never be fulfilled. They are trying to bring about in me a feeling that something is missing.

The goal is not to create thank-fullness. To do so would help me in my journey to know my inherent “fullness”. And if I know my inherent fullness, I will never feel the need to acquire in an attempt to fill some emptiness.

We all know, in our heart of hearts, we cannot continue doing things the way we have. It’s time to evolve. To change. To question everything. And so, I have a “Chotchky Challenge” for us all. This Black Friday, fill your “soul ledgers” from red to black. Here’s all you have to do. Be deeply grateful for everything you already have! Give from your abundance. “Let go” instead of “take in”.

And, if you do go into the chaos, I challenge you to consider your “soul hero”, that being the one you feel most embodied the Divine. Maybe Buddha, or Jesus or Mother Theresa or Paramahansa Yogananda or..? And then ask yourself “is this what they had in mind?”

Isn’t it strange that the holidays (holy days) are the most materialistic time of the year?

Isn’t it strange that the holidays (holy days) are the most materialistic time of the year?

But please, do not take my word for it. Remember…

I might be just be crazy!

~ Barry A. Dennis

Author of The Chotchky Challenge – Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind…and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul.

Chotchky_Challenge Barry Dennis

The Chotchky Challenge book by Barry Dennis

The Productive Power of Gratitude. What are you grateful for?

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Giving thanks for all we have in our lives…and the related feeling of gratitude…is one of the most powerful tools we have to use as human beings.  Maintaining a grateful disposition improves virtually everything in our lives, including our health and well-being, and our relationships with others. Being grateful opens our hearts and displaces emotions, such as greed and envy, that do not serve us.

Being grateful for your partner, for your health, for anything important to you…even another day to live on this Earth…will make you happier, more at ease, and more peaceful with those around you.  We can find so much to be thankful for when we look at our lives honestly, gently, and without judging.

A simple, powerful way to practice gratitude is to regularly write down what we are grateful for, big or small.  This exercise helps us realize the fullness of the gifts and blessings we receive and gives our lives more meaning and depth.  It helps us realize the “why” we need in order to wisely choose what we do and how we do it.  A variation on this is to regularly verbalize in affirmation or prayer what we are grateful for.  Cultivating gratefulness also helps us through periods of instability and chaos to a more serene and peaceful inner landscape.

The fundamental challenge to living in gratitude is the lack of awareness of our interconnectedness.  So even if we know about gratitude, we don’t feel the value in practicing it.  This lack of awareness is a result of many things: scarcity caused by competition instead of collaboration, an “us versus them” survival of the fittest mindset, and the idea that humankind holds dominion over nature rather than being part of nature itself.  Our modern culture is operating with an uneven balance by focusing on materialism over spirituality which can breed fear…fear of trusting, of growing, of dreaming, of trying.  This can make it hard to open our hearts.

Gratitude is a feeling we build over time which creates positive momentum in our lives and  opens our hearts. This is critical, not just for personal growth and finding our balance, but because each of us relies on others in order to live. Through practicing gratitude we realize our profound connection with and appreciation for one another and the world that supports us.  Then harmony follows.  And through humble, intentional gratitude we may find happiness.

What are you grateful for? We would love to hear your stories of gratitude, if you would like to share in the comments section below.

Thank you! We are grateful for you.
~ Jim and Lisa

Why Kindness?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Celebrate Kindness Hosts Jim and Lisa Papp with Emcee Deb Slater

There may be nothing on Earth each of us wants more from others than Kindness!

I was recently thinking about the Celebrate Kindness! free community event Lisa and I hosted in our town of Bellingham, Washington last July 23, 2011. We have discussed whether or not we would host another Kindness event in 2012. We planned the 2011 event to coincide with a talk I gave entitled “Why Kindness?” inside Village Books in Bellingham. We don’t necessarily think we’ll host regular Kindness events, but rather, we wanted to highlight the importance of being kind everyday…kind to yourself, kind to others, and kind to the earth.

Here’s a recap of that July 2011 event…

We rented the beautiful public outdoor park/community space called the Fairhaven Village Green right outside Village Books. I gave a short talk on Kindness. You can watch a video of my talk on the home page of this site.

We were happy to have a great group of people presenting at the event and helping behind the scenes:

  • Robert Bates, our fun and very talented teacher of  Qigong (“chee gung” – easy Tai Chi), led a Qigong demo showing how you can be kind to yourself by reducing stress and staying healthy with this simple, easy-to-learn and very beneficial practice. Qigong can boost your immune system, help reduce blood pressure, and may help prevent against everything from colds to cancer. Robert’s website includes many free videos and blog posts on Qigong practices and his class schedule: .  He also has two Qigong DVDs for sale which are both available at Village Books or from him…Fun With Qigong – Five Flows Set and Fun With Qigong – Delightful Dozen.

Celebrate Kindness attendees doing Qigong with Robert Bates, Qigong teacher

  • KVOS’ Marla Bronstein shared “Gimme a Minute … on Gratitude”.
  • Zoe Schackel, 2010 Bellingham Battle of the Bands winner, sang.
  • Deb Slater, host of “Community Extra” on KVOS TV, was our fabulous emcee:
  • Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike helped us welcome people and spoke about how fortunate we are to live in an area with so many kind people, companies, non-profits, and government agencies.
  • Audience members shared the mic to tell stories of acts of kindness they performed or had observed. We heard great stories about kind neighbors, kind strangers, people giving up a seat on the bus, and other nice stories.
  • Participants helped make paper chains of kindness. Thanks to for the inspiration.



Paper chain of kindness


  • Lisa had a lot of help creating and managing the event. Thank you to fabulous Bellingham/Whatcom County event planner Cantrice Hiler (contact:, John Palmer, Bob Ridgely for sound (, James Bauckman and Kyle of Revolutionary Productions filmed the event (, and Copy Source helped with flyer and sign printing (

How can you be kind to someone today? Don’t forget to also be kind to yourself and to the Earth!

We would love to hear from you. Please share your stories of kindness. (Comment section at the bottom of this post.)

We also had fun giving away gifts from our generous and kind sponsors:

  • Delicious, healthy, and kind-to-your-body Goodies (Breakfast Cookies, Brownies, Granola) from Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods in a reusable Erin Baker’s shopping bag –

  • Personal Training Session with Patti Guarino, ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist, at her private training studio in Fairhaven –

  • Gift certificate for a hair cut and “kind to you and the Earth” Loma hair and body products from Hair With Julie. Julie Hiler is at Tropix Salon in Fairhaven –

  • Buethorn Watercolor Studio – Bellingham artist Candance Buethorn’s beautiful watercolor prints on gift cards, a mug,  and a journal.

  • KIND Healthy Snacks  provided us with boxes and boxes of yummy and healthy KIND Bars to give out.





  • Do-it-yourself Henna Art “Tattoo” Kit from Jamie Olson –
  • Robert Bates – Fun with Qigong Five Flows Set DVDs and our Inquire Within books were given away.

How can you be kind to someone today? Don’t forget to also be kind to yourself and to the Earth.

We would love to hear from you. Please share your stories of kindness here…

A Bit About Prayer

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

The only thing we really need to know about prayer is that it works. Everything in the Universe is made up of the same energy – the plants, the trees, the rocks, you and me, thoughts, diseases, moons, stars; everything you can think of is made up of the same universal energy.

When we send out coherent thoughts, wishes, or prayers, they emanate into the entire universe and that energy has an effect.  Prayer is extremely powerful.  It is unbounded by space and time and unaffected by distance.

Prayer is generally a worded address to Spirit – whether spoken aloud or voiced in thought only.  Prayer may be communicated through images and symbols as well.  It is an act of communion commonly including hopes or requests.  When prayer focuses on a single theme – like peace – it comes near to the act of meditation.

Prayer is made in so many forms.  For some, it is conversation with God.  For others, it is making requests.  For some, it is asking for integrity or strength.  And for others, it is a giving of thanks.  Many people never pray for anything specific in life; they are simply drawn to a regular, daily saying of thank you in their prayers.

Prayer, according to Michael Bernard Beckwith, Founder and Spiritual Director of Agape International Spiritual Center, is the most powerful technology we have today.

Whatever you pray for, leave the means to the desired end in Spirit’s hands.  Spirit works in mysterious ways and we do not want to limit how what we’re praying for may occur.  If we limit ourselves by being too specific, we cut ourselves off from the unlimited, infinite creativity of the Universe.

Prayer is often reserved only for emergencies when no other “normal” means of assistance seem to have worked.  This indicates how materialistic our culture is, since prayer is not commonly included in our society’s tool bag we carry with us to work on our everyday challenges in life.

Prayer as an ongoing practice of gratitude, of affirmatively yet humbly asking for that which we are entitled to – because we are one with Spirit – puts us  in a place where we are swimming in the natural abundance of the universe.  Communication with Spirit gently and lovingly works the garden of our soul so we may heal and grow.