Shame on Me

I never understood the phrase “what kind of fool do you take me for?” As a child it was strange to think there might be a variety of ways one could be a fool. Now I know there are innumerable ways, incomprehensibly vast are the possibilities.

A young fool, an old fool, a stubborn fool, a blind fool, an optimistic fool, a lovesick fool… You get the idea. I suppose it should be a comfort to us that we all will embody at least one of these fool archetypes in our lifetimes.

It isn’t. In fact, my ego bristles at the thought. The mere implication that I’ve been had sends me reeling. Yet, I rush in. I take people at their word. I believe love always wins. I’m a textbook fool.

Maybe it’s not that I mind being foolish. Maybe I just don’t like having it pointed out to me. There’s the rub. It’s embarrassing to have egg on your face and worse to have to clean it up yourself because the loud accusing voices have gone eerily silent.

Fools are hopeful, generous, and sometimes make stupid choices – but I always think they have great intentions. I want to open myself up and expose my intentions. Then I wouldn’t be called a fool. I’d be called a humanitarian. Maybe if I was understood I’d be better loved.

No… Foolish to think.

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Jon Favreau, Spiritual Guru

“…the future is beautiful, alright? Look out the window. It’s sunny every day here. It’s like manifest destiny. Don’t tell me we didn’t make it. We made it! We are here. And everything that is past is prologue to this. All of the shit that didn’t kill us is only… you know, all that shit. You’re gonna get over it.” – Rob (Ron Livingston), Swingers

I’ve been thinking a lot about destiny. What it is, what it means, how it works.

Every day when I pull a tarot card or cards for the day, I journal them.  Sometimes at night I just play with the cards, trying to get a feel for them and for reading.  Last night I pulled some cards not to journal, but because I wanted an answer about something.

One of the cards that popped out was the Wheel of Fortune card (from the Wild Unknown Deck).  It’s a gorgeous card, messy and colorful and full of meaning.  At the top, a crescent moon and stars. The man picture of the card resembles a Native American medicine wheel that’s been made from yarn and twigs.  A colorless sun shines beneath the wheel. An owl sits perches atop the highest twig branch.

The meaning of this card is heavy. As a 10 card it represents completion – the end of a cycle. The Wheel itself represents change rolling in, sometimes good and sometimes uncomfortable, but always necessary. I see this card as a positive one, as change brings growth and growth leads us to our highest good.  In the guidebook, it says the Wheel of Fortune is the card of Destiny.

wheel-of-fortune-wild-unknown
The Wheel of Fortune (image from Google)

Long after I’d pulled the cards and studied them, I kept thinking about the concept of Destiny.  Is it something that happens, or something that just is?  Does it happen to us or for us?  Do we all face our destiny, do we create our destiny, do we have the power to change our destiny (because free will is obviously a thing).

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the truth of the wheel is much simpler than that. I hopped out of bed, grabbed my journal and a pen, and scribbled:

“What if it’s less about finding destiny or destiny happening to us? What if I AM destiny?”

Boom.  Lightning moment for me.  What if I – what if we all – have much more power than we believe, or were told, or have ever imagined possible, over our future and how our lives play out?

Maybe destiny is something that, on the path to spiritual enlightenment, we begin to meld with?  To have the thing, we must BE the thing, right?  To have joy, we must be joy.  To have love, we  must first be love.  This is how we match vibration and allow things to become true in our lives.

So… what if to activate a certain destiny, to realize our fate, all we have to do is become it?  Similar to a choose your own adventure novel, where one path leads to page 24 and another leads to page 116 and we get to decide our own ending.  What if that’s been the point all along?  Through shadow work, meditation, visualization, inspired action, learning, teaching, growing, loving, laughing, experiencing, and believing before we see, we both sketch out or own future – which is fluid and in motion, like the Wheel – and then step into it?

What an epiphany. That’s destiny, manifested.

 

Losing My Religion

I’m working on a book.  It’s a pretty involved process, and I am learning a lot as I go.  Thrilling, exciting, and … anxiety inducing.  Talking about the anxiety that used to run my life kinda makes me jittery.  I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a relapse, as much as it is recalling some of the old triggers that sent me into a tailspin.

The last few days I have been thinking a lot about religion in my life.  Growing up Catholic and attending a Catholic school, I took it all very seriously. I took for granted it was all true.  Even later, as an adult in the Southern Baptist church, I was a player in an elaborate game of Follow the Leader, even though many times I had no idea who that was or where we were supposed to be going.

Eventually my  husband and I had a falling out with our church – or, more specifically – our faith.  I have read accounts of others who have moments in their lives similar to what we had – an awakening, a change, growth, transition, you might even call it spiritual death, triggered by a great trauma or catastrophe.  For others, it’s the opposite, and such an event actually moves them towards the church.

Seeking answers, seeking truth.  Looking all around us for anything that makes sense when all that is comfortable and familiar has crumbled.  I think it’s human nature to want to assign a higher meaning to things that are tragic, and I certainly did.  When what I call the Terror came into my life, I learned pretty quickly what Christians do.  My friends, my Sunday School mates, they supported us.  One bought us groceries, one encouraged me to read my Bible when I was afraid, another class donated money so that our bills would be paid.  It was lovely to feel so encouraged in a hard time, and it lasted about two weeks.

The Terror would last much longer than that, and as our time of hardship wore on, the Christianity wore thin.  Our friends lost patience with us.  They withdrew their assistance.  Life goes on, right?  Some of them encouraged my husband to take the kids and leave me.  Some said to have me committed.  One person told me, quite matter-of-factly, that the things that were happening to me would not be happening, were my faith only strong enough.  Pray more.  Really mean it.  If it doesn’t help, you don’t really mean it.  Suddenly, I felt all alone in this “family”.  It was as if I had spiritual leprosy, and the entire community took a collective step back from me so as not to catch it.

Looking back, it was a gift.  These people who removed themselves from our circle, and pushed us out of what was known and comfortable, forced us to explore other possibilities than the ones we had blindly clung to for so many years.  I started reading things that had previously been “forbidden” to me, started considering possibilities that I had always dismissed as impossible and ignorant.  I used to pity people like me, people who didn’t worship Jesus and meet up at church to talk about all the ways we were going to save the world.

Out of necessity and desperate for relief, I began researching alternative therapies.  There’s actually a pretty thin line between medicine and religion, and as I learned about healing the body I also found out a lot about alternative spiritual practices.  Meditating, EFT, chakra balancing, crystals, astrology, numerology, reiki, essential oils, burning sage, prayer bowls and beads and moon ritual and tarot cards and more have made their way into my consciousness and I am a better woman for it. I walk barefoot and talk to the moon if I feel like it.  When I talk about animals and spirit guides, no one makes fun of me.

The irony is, by taking the first step into a spiritual truth that feels so much more aligned with who I am, for the very first time I am actually changing the world.  If everyone had the courage to be their authentic, unapologetic selves, the world would be a different place entirely.  Now, I feel free.  I am growing in new and exciting ways, without limits and without guilt.  New and trustworthy friends have filled the voids left by the people who couldn’t deal with our pain.  Best of all, by dipping my toes into a spiritual ocean I had never been allowed to visit previously, I feel united with every other person in the world.

Losing my religion became the catalyst for finding myself.  I’m a better wife and a better mom because I no longer operate from a place of “not enough”. Instead of trying to force myself to fit into someone else’s box, I’ve broken free of all the boxes and I make my own way.  I am more than enough.  I am everything I was created to be.(Yes, I still believe in Creator/Source.)

The path I am on is one of total joy and truth. I have met so many fascinating and kind people. I continue to learn about other beliefs, world religions, and I feel connected to my fellow man.  There is no judgement or pity in me for them.  Instead, there is love.  REAL love.  Unconditional love.  I am stronger, genuine, and aware.  Where once my life was a nightmare, it’s now a dream.  I am finally awake.

Moon-Goddess-moon-4701545-428-500

X-Ray Vision

My son sprained his ankle yesterday at school.  He didn’t tell anyone and the teacher didn’t see, so no one called me.  When he got home, he told me all about his day but he didn’t mention his injury.  In the evening, when he was winding down, he finally mentioned his foot pain.  After some interrogation I got the story and proceeded to perform Mommy Triage.  Everything seemed ok, just a bit swollen, so I gave him Motrin and an ice pack.

Everything was fine.

Until.

An hour or so later, my son walked over to me and began to cry, almost inconsolably.  He was cold, he said.  So cold it hurt and he couldn’t get warm. I took his temperature, expecting a fever, but what I saw was the opposite.  His temperature was dropping.  His skin was cold and clammy to the touch.  I carried him, still crying, back to his bed.

As a mom I feel like I’m constantly walking a line between not reacting ENOUGH and TOTALLY FREAKING OUT.  There is not much in between for me, unfortunately for my calm, collected, level-headed husband.  Husband, of course, thought our son was overreacting, but I had a feeling he was telling the truth.  His tears, hot and streaming down his face, were real.  The fear on his face was real.

Externally, I tried to comfort him by saying things like “It’s going to be OK”.  Internally, I was making a list of who to call, what to ask, and what to pack for the hospital.  I called my mom, who is a nurse, and with her guiding me, checked his pulse, his temperature, examined his body for bruising, and put a heating pad in his bed to help him get warm.  After watching a couple of episodes of Transformers on Netflix, he fell asleep. I took out the heating pad and left the room, still feeling some anxiety in my gut.

I checked on Emmett every two hours until the morning, taking his temperature, feeling his skin, and watching him breathe.  I felt very strongly that he should get x-rays, since he just sprained this same ankle a month or so ago.

Early this morning we arrived at the Pediatric ER. The staff was courteous, if a bit incredulous that I wanted x-rays on what was obviously a sprain.

Fast forward to lunch time, and my sweet boy is in a splint.  He has a distal fracture of the fibula that, due to the location of the break, did not present as such.  The break is on the growth plate, which means we will see an orthopedic doctor next week to discuss next steps.  His “just a sprain” turned out to be a broken leg.

[On the bright side, his cast is red and festive.]

This was a sneaky break.  A painless fracture.  There is internal damage on a pretty important part of the body.  Fluid has pooled in his ankle and heel. The fracture wasn’t visible, so no one I talked to believed it was there. Only after looking inside did they realize how seriously he was hurt.

Considering this, I am reminded to be more conscious of others.  What I can see with my eyes doesn’t often betray what’s going on underneath.  A person may look like they have it all together when they are crumbling on the inside. They may not look to me like someone I could befriend, when we actually have a lot in common.  NOTHING is  ever what it seems on the surface. While I don’t have X-Ray vision, I do have opportunity to dig deeper. I have an obligation to look deeper.  To investigate.  To find out what’s going on in the heart, the mind, and the spirit.

Finding out about an injury is the first step to healing.  Knowing a person, really understanding them takes time, but it is the first step to helping them heal and grow.  Stepping out of comfort zones, crossing invisible lines we’ve drawn for ourselves, choosing to let go of old beliefs in order to embrace new friends.  These can only lead to good things – things like love, peace, and community.

I am grateful for this awareness, particularly at this time of year.

This holiday season, and always, may you see others –  and may you be seen – for the magical, powerful, gorgeous creature that you (we, they) truly are.

Say Geronimo!

I went running this morning at one of my favorite parks.  It’s close to my house and the scenery is breathtaking, so when the stars align and I am able to get there for a workout, I feel grateful.  These days I’m trying to be outdoors more (and on the treadmill less) in order to improve my fitness and raise my vibration.

This park has several miles of woodland trails for running and mountain biking.  I normally run the mountain bike trails because they’re wider, and because there’s a nice canopy of trees that shields me from the sun a bit.  The downside is that there are tons of giant tree roots, and the canopy seems to hold in all the humidity, so some days it feels like running through a giant sauna obstacle course.

Today I decided to run a different route, to challenge myself and keep the ol’ neurons firing.  I parked at the exit, grabbed my pretty pink pepper spray and my cell phone, and set off down the road.  Little did I know, spiritual growth was waiting right around the corner for me.

Having grown up in this city, one might expect that I know a thing or twelve about this park.  The number of trails, the length of those trials, elevation, length of the road, etc.  Useful things.  I don’t actually know any of that.  The positive to this is that so far I have learned something new on each run, which I actually find exciting, so I’ve decided to stick with this “discovery-running” strategy.  I have heard that there are 5-7 miles of trails in this park, though it’s also possible that I have made that number up completely.  (A quick Google search did nothing to help clarify.)  Anyway, I started running knowing I had somewhere between 5 and 7 miles of road to go on, and I wouldn’t make it that far anyway, so my plan was to run as far as I wanted and turn around and run back to my car.

Running through a gorgeous park on a Saturday in Georgia is a glorious experience. I said “hello” and received similar greetings from walkers, runners, bikers, kids, grandmothers, disc-golfers, and a lady carrying a casserole in one hand and a baby in the other.  I could hear country music coming from the speakers of a pickup parked down by the lake, kids laughing as they played in the waterfalls, and friends encouraging each other as they cycled up a steep climb.  The whole place was abuzz with activity, and I was buzzing along in the middle of it.  I felt like I was in a movie, in one of those opening sequences where the camera starts out in space, and slowly zooms all the way into the town where the story takes place, until the focus is on the main characters.  That thought made me smile.

As I was making my way up and down the hilly pavement, mindful of cars and trying to keep my breath steady, I thought about how far I might run today.  1 mile?  If I turn around then, it would be 2 when I reached the car.  It was pretty hot out.  Maybe 1.5?  That makes 3 total.  Maybe I’ll just go .75 and then turn around, but I’ll run it faster than I’m used to.  I have to go to work tonight and I don’t want to be tired and sore at the beginning of my shift.  I knew I couldn’t run the 5-7 miles to the entrance even ONCE, let alone do it and turn around and run all the way back to my car.

Suddenly, just as that negative “I can’t” thought was forming, other thoughts popped up, as if to banish it before it planted roots in my brain.  These other thoughts were encouraging, motivating thoughts.  For example:

  • The story about Bruce Lee and his friend running 5 miles, and Bruce’s philosophy on life. (The story can be found HERE.)
  • Kathy Freston’s book Quantum Wellness, in which she says you should always go farther than you believe you can.
  • The reality that part of me was trying to give up before I’d even truly begun.

What happened was simultaneously anti-climactic and miraculous:

I simply decided to run the entire path, from exit to entrance. My legs felt strong, my breathing was pretty good, and even though I had never done it before, I decided that I would do it.

That’s it.  Hardly worth mentioning, right?  And yet, in that millisecond that I made the choice to “just do it”, my life changed a little bit.  My mindset rotated from “can’t” to “will”.  There was never a question after that whether I could make it, just a quiet, confident knowing that I would.

The rest of the story is that yes, I ran it all.  Guess what?  The road in it’s entirety ended up being a little over two miles, beginning at the exit gate and going “all the way” around the the entrance.  Yep, this thing that I had negated and barred myself from ever doing was only two miles.  I had never taken the time to find out the actual distance, because I already believed it to be further than I could run!! I had counted myself out of the race without ever starting.  This got me thinking – How many times in my life have I done this?  With work?  With friendships and relationships?

Here’s a funny thing about enlightenment, acceptance, and finally letting go of old beliefs:  oftentimes we are standing on the precipice of greatness, and once we step off the edge, we can finally see the beauty of where we are headed.  Before we take that first step, though, all we see is the edge.  We see danger. The unknown. The unattainable.  We see the can’t, won’t, shouldn’t signs all around us that discourage us from trying.  So we don’t.  We don’t try, we stay safe, and we continue to live our lives as we’ve always lived them, because that’s comfortable.

I’m writing this blog today to encourage you to GET UNCOMFORTABLE. Whatever edge you find yourself standing on today, take the leap!  Take a step.  Do something outside of your comfort zone and just see what happens.

Small picture, I ran 4 miles. This, in itself, is not a big deal, I know.  The bigger picture is that I came away from this run with just a smidge more enlightenment than when I entered.  A mental barrier was overcome.  My perspective was significantly altered.  What is can’t?  What is too hard?  What in life is truly unattainable?  I learned an invaluable lesson about belief, ability, and being willing to say “Geronimo!” and jump off the edge, even and especially when I can’t see what’s coming next.

Book Excerpt – 2

count your blessings.
Literally. Count them. Use your fingers, use your toes. Chances are, whatever you are going through right now, your blessings still outweigh your troubles. That was Bonpapa’s attitude. He lived with an attitude of gratitude that began with the Lord. If you know the Lord, if you know who he is, what his word says, and that he loves you, what else do you need? The way Bonpapa saw it, if nothing else in his life was going right, but he still had God, he was doing alright – better than many, in fact.
My husband and I went through a situation recently where I was called to put this into practice. After a long and faithful run, my husband’s car had finally gone ‘kaput’ on the side of the highway one night as he was driving home from work. Financially, we were unprepared. Practically speaking, we were down a vehicle that we needed desperately to function in our everyday lives. Spiritually, we knew what to do. We began to say ‘thank you’ to God in prayer.
We thanked him for my husband’s safety and that the ‘blow up’ happened close to our home. My husband works out of town, so the situation could have been much worse had it happened further away. We thanked God for the other blessings in our lives: Our home, our children, our friends, our health, our full bellies. There was much to be grateful for, even in this circumstance. We thanked God for the times he had brought us through challenges, reminding him and ourselves of all the times we have been rescued. Lastly, the hardest thanks to muster was appreciation for the lesson. It went something like this: “ Lord, whatever you are teaching us or whatever you will accomplish through this event, we thank you in advance for it. We praise your mighty name for allowing us to be a part of your plan, and for molding and shaping our hearts through challenges such as these.”
Thirty minutes later, a brand new car was delivered to our front door and all was right in our world once again. Ha! Not exactly. Not even close. Thankfully, though, daily scripture reading had prepared us for what we faced. In the next few days, two Bible verses played over and over again in my thoughts: Hebrews 6:19, which says we have this hope (relationship with Christ) as an anchor for our soul. Christ in our hearts keeps us steady, even as we go through life’s storms. The second verse, 2 Corinthians 4:7, says we have this treasure (relationship with God) in jars of clay, to show that power belongs to God and not to us. We humans are fragile, like delicate clay jars, and God within us is where our true strength lies. It is no coincidence that these verses both begin with “we have”. Bonpapa was right. If you know the Lord, if you know who he is, what his word says, and that he loves you, what else do you need?
One final verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9, says that the Lord’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Only when we admit we are broken, do we allow God to take over, take control, and take care of us. If we can be grateful without needing explanation, we experience spiritual growth.
Being grateful doesn’t always fix the trouble, but it does prevent us from being overcome by our troubles. Recognizing that God’s ways and purposes are higher than our own gives us something and someone to lean on when times are tough. God never guarantees the ride will be easy, but he does assure us that we are never alone – never without hope – even as we walk the highway on a dark night. For that, I will say ‘thank you’.
We have this hope as a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:19
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah  Psalm 46:1-3
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9