Profound Sadness with Hope

Profound SADNESS. Gut wrenching OUTRAGE. Questions with no satisfying answers. These are my reactions when faced with the horrific atrocities my fellow human beings to do each other.

I try to distance myself from the violence by reminding myself that I am a good person, that those who I love are known as kind and loving human beings, and that it’s only a small percentage of the seven billion people on earth who commit extreme acts of hatred. Distance, however, is mollifying and numbing, not contributing to changing anything.

I want to MAKE A DIFFERENCE for the GOOD. I want my life to count on the side of LIFE ENHANCING VALUES AND BEHAVIOR. I do not want to annihilate anyone who disagrees with me or is different from me. Yet, I recognize and have to admit the instinctual human tendencies in me toward angry flare ups and murderous thoughts. What can I do? First CONTINUALLY TRANSFORM THE TERRORIST INSIDE ME, then CONTRIBUTE TO ALL THE GOODNESS in the world.

Please consider my NEWLY PUBLISHED EBOOK, Five Key Strategies of Thriving, a SHORT READ that tells my best practices based on 1011 years of accumulated wisdom from 20 thrivers interviewed on what it takes to THRIVE THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES. It is available at Amazon Kindle store and, I am proud to say, it became a BESTSELLER in its categories.


Be a Placeholder for Love and a Beacon of Kindness.
Joyce Ann Tepley


Take a Problem Solving Approach to Life

This is an excerpt from my upcoming course called Master the Art of Thriving.

Life is a series of problems to be solved. That is stating the obvious. Our brains are hard-wired for problem solving. It’s our brain’s main function; that and regulating our body’s systems. If the pre-frontal cortex of a person’s brain is not damaged he will be able to solve problems with logical analysis. The scientific method is based on logical analysis. We were taught in school a step-by-step process of how to solve math problems, how to analyze biological and chemical data from research and experiments, how to analyze poems and stories in literature classes, and how to debate an issue using logical progression. Feelings and intuition were not a part of the equation. Many people spend their whole lives working in careers that utilize the skills derived from the executive functioning parts of their brains. The ‘left’ sides of their brains are said to be highly developed.

The thrivers I interviewed for my study thought of themselves as competent problem solvers. They expected themselves to be successful at whatever challenges they encountered or put themselves through. They did not consider failure as an option. Failure was reframed as a solution that hadn’t been discovered yet. They never thought of themselves as deficient by nature; something that could not be changed. Any deficiency was considered to be a lack of skill that could be acquired if one chose to. They spent little time looking for someone to blame for their problems, though they may have identified others who were part of the problem and needed to be addressed as such. For example, Peg Nosek created a health care program for disabled women who use wheelchairs. Part of the program is advocating with health care workers to create better resources to accommodate women in wheelchairs, such as encouraging gynecologists to purchase an examination table that adjusts to a height for easy transfer from a wheelchair.

The following are the necessary bare bone steps to problem solving you can use on your own or in a group.

4 simple steps to problem solving
• Succinctly identify the problem
• Brainstorm alternative solutions
• Create an action plan
• Implement the plan with support
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My Father

Joe Tepley Portrait

My father would have been 101 years old today. I miss him. This is a picture taken when he entered the Navy at the end of World War II. He was given a job in the engine room of an LST taking supplies to the Philippines. He sent my mother many pictures with endearing notes on the back. I treasure those black and whites and the memory of his humor, his playfulness, his strong sense of devotion to his family. He left my brother and me a legacy of purposeful living.

Happy Birthday, Daddy

What Was the Last Supper?

white flower

Many people are under the impression that Jesus and his Jewish Disciples had a “Passover Seder” as the Last Supper. The problem is that the Passover Seder as we know it has been in development over thousands of years. It has a basic form which will be explained in a future article. The point I want to make is that the form known today did not exist during Jesus’ lifetime.

Even though synagogues were part of the historical landscape before the common era (BCE) and afterwards (CE-AD), while the Temple stood, it was the Religious Center of the Jewish People. Judaea was a Roman province run by the Priesthood. Synagogues were places of assembly and study. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple during the Great Revolt 66-73, synagogues became religious worship centers as well.

So, what was going on in the upper room? Jewish Teachers and Masters were not called “Rabbis” until a later time, but it already was a tradition that when your teacher or master finished studying a section of Scriptures, Rabbinic Teachings (Mishnah) and later Talmud, the Rabbi would make what’s called a Siyyum (a public reading and explanation of a concluding passage which has been completed). In this case, it would make sense that, Jesus the Jewish Teacher and his Jewish students completed teachings about Passover which was going to begin that evening. A Siyyum is a se’udat mitzvah, a Festive Meal. It is also the last time for the duration of the holiday that one is allowed to eat “Chamets“, leaven. I don’t have the exact menu, but there are descriptions of meals from that time and they probably ate olives, bread, salt and drank wine. Jesus, like any other Jew from that period drank wine, no Welch’s Grape-Juice!! In those days, everyone mixed wine, which was 80 proof with water, otherwise after two cups, you’d be face down in your chicken soup.

If you truly want to understand the Real Y’shua, you must look at his culture, his language, his customs, and read his Bible, (Torah and Prophets). These things put him in his Jewish historical context in which he lived — and they help clarify his messages and teachings. Acquiring this knowledge enables us to recognize our bond through the Values we share. Watch for my next blog in this series about the Seder and Spiritual Lessons of TOV at Passover.

Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor

A Different Kind of Valentine

Blessing Butterfly

Running late for my doctor’s appointment I headed for the door to her office, took a deep breath, and paused to gather my strength to pull open the heavy wooden door. This usually takes some effort because I use an electric scooter to get around, due to being paralyzed from polio before there was the vaccine. It’s tricky to get the scooter in place, reach across the handle bars, grab the door handle, manipulate the scooter controls with my left thumb while I hold onto the door handle with my right hand, slowly inch backward to pull open the door just enough, then quickly gun the scooter forward, crossing the threshold before the door hits me.

While I was focusing my mind to the task in front of me and griping to myself about how difficult ordinary things can sometimes be, feeling already stressed from being late, I didn’t notice the woman who walked up behind me.

She said, “Let me get that door for you.”

Suddenly pulled out of my kvetching, I turned to her and saw an angel of a person whose smile enveloped me in its glow.

I replied, “Oh, yes, please.”

“Before I open it,” she continued, “let me give you this.”

She handed me a hot pink piece of paper in the shape of a butterfly with the word ‘Blessing!’ written on it from a stack of other butterflies made in different colors. How did she know my favorite color is pink?

I’m looking at that sweet treasure now as I compose this article. It reminds me of how many serendipitous acts of loving kindness I have received in my life at just the right time to keep me thriving through life’s lessons. May I be a blessing to others as she was to me.

Beatitudes and Gratitudes


 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I am grateful for all that has been given to me; for my family past and present steeped in the values of duty and service to others, for my Catholic education emphasizing living a life of integrity before God, and for friends along the way who support my very being. For all of this, I am humbled.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.

I am grateful that I am shy. It keeps me from being too egotistical. I’m just one of many who hope to inherit the Promised Land, who seek meaning and purpose beyond money and power.

Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.

I am grateful for the grace that comes with sorrow, the time off from busyness, and the solace offered from those who care for me. It is not easy to grow old and live with seemingly perpetual mourning.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice: for they shall have their fill.

I am grateful for my desire and pursuit of social equality for those less able to advocate for themselves. I hope my life makes a difference for the good. That is my fulfillment.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

I am grateful for all the times I have been forgiven for my misdeeds and mistakes. I strive to be a person who takes absolute responsibility for all my thoughts, words, and actions. There is no need then to forgive others.

Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.

I am grateful for the promise of “seeing God” in the completion of the heavenly kingdom, but being clean of heart alludes me. I am human. I carry rancor, disgust, complaining, despair and ill-will in my heart. Is good intention enough?

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

I am grateful that I learned diplomacy and peacemaking in my sometimes chaotic family life. My parents were rarely at peace. Our world does not respect or encourage peace. There is a Department of Defense but why not a Department of Peace among our United States government agencies? This beatitude implies we cannot be the progeny of God until we make peace with each other.

Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I am grateful I have not suffered outright persecution for being a woman, for my race, for my disability and for my beliefs. However, I have felt persecution in sympathy with others in my work as a counselor and disability rights advocate.

Jesus, the Christ, laid out before us a plan for perfection and a promise of heaven on earth if we practiced these blessings. May you be especially blessed during this holiday season.