(Insert Your Name Here)ism

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with my friend, Ray, and he brought up an idea he had presented me with before.  It was the “ten years from now plan” and in his picture he saw me as a minister.  I responded by saying that I do kind of like the idea of it, but I don’t really think I fully align with any one particular church or religion.  I mentioned a comment from an old post where someone said I was trying to create my own religion-Lesleeism.  I told Ray that if it was the church of Lesleeism, I could definitely be the minister, but otherwise I’d just have to go with the flow and see where it leads.  He responded with the idea that we all have our own personal religions, he has Rayism, and everybody else has their own “isms.”

Some people might disagree with me on this.  They will promise they are true to their religion.  But what I see when I look out into the world is that most of us straddle the line instead of walk it.  People pick and choose what works.  It’s all about Jesus’ birth at the Christmas Eve service and all about Santa Clause on Christmas morning.  We “forgive those that trespass against us” until we come face to face with someone with different political or religious beliefs.  We remind those around us of the importance of upholding the commandments, as we break them daily or hourly in our minds (which if I understand correctly the bible says is the same as actually breaking them.)  We teach of the power of forgiveness through salvation from Jesus, but we hold grudges that often follow us to the grave.    (It seems all my examples are from Christianity, sorry about that, it’s all I know.)

So what is my answer to this seeming hypocrisy?  OWN IT!!  Admit that religion is not a “one size fits all.”  I don’t think any one person can mold themselves to perfectly into one religion and trying to is simply putting you out of integrity with yourself.  When I was young and was taught about Hell, it absolutely broke my heart.  I just couldn’t rationalize it.  I didn’t get how an evil person could recite the words “I accept Jesus into my heart as my savior” and be admitted to Heaven, while someone good and charitable who may not know or get the opportunity to say those words would burn for eternity in Hell.  It didn’t make sense.  The world is too big and there is too much diversity for that to be true.  Because of this idea and others, I left God behind for years.  When I learned new ideas, one being that we all experience the same thing when we die no matter how “good” or “bad” we are, I could embrace God and spirituality again.  What rang true for me was the idea that our human existence is like school.  We are here to learn and evolve and we keep coming back until we meet the goals and can graduate and return to “God.”  But that one idea, that feels right to me, could absolutely assault the sensibilities of someone else.  And that is OK!  I am not asking anyone to take my words and beliefs as truth, I am suggesting you simply ask yourself what YOUR truth is.  It will probably not be the same as mine and if you’re completely honest with yourself it may not even be the same as your religion’s.

So I encourage you to find your own truth…create your own religion, one that makes you feel loved and happy!  Grab a plate and partake of the buffet of spirituality!

Sylvia’s Click

Sylvia is someone I met through the Owning Pink Posse.  She is one of those inspiring souls that strives to bring out the best in others.  She is a writer, yoga teacher, artist, photographer, gardener and “blissed-out” babe!  I am grateful that she answered my call and shared this personal click story, that I know will touch many.  If you would like to hear or read more from Sylvia you can find her wonderful blog about living blissfully here, on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

My click story starts in January 2001. My husband and I had heard from
my OB/GYN that the test they had done earlier that month showed that a
long treatment for restless cells in my uterus was finally successful.
We could finally work on getting pregnant.

I drove home with some mixed emotions. A little more than two years
earlier I started on a hormone treatment, and immediately got plunged
into a major depression, and gained about 30 kilo’s in weight in the
months that followed after.

So there I sat, deeply depressed, feeling utterly lost, and with a
moon cycle that was completely out of whack and very painful. A uterus
that was so cramped up I could hardly sit up straight and walking
around became more and more difficult. And my doctor told me that I
could get pregnant.

Two months later I was rushed to the hospital with what could be an
appendicitis. After a day of waiting for the two hour emergency
surgery, it turned out to be an ovary with a really bad cyst.

That surgery and the recovery from it was my click. It came in the
form of one single thought: is getting pregnant worth this suffering?
It didn’t take me long to say no. I felt like a crippled person, stuck
in 9 days out of 24 periods, and the rest of the time I seemed like I
was stuck in an endless seeming PMS cycle. I didn’t get pregnant, as
my wish to have sex had completely diminished. I felt a bloated up
mockery of who I really was.

Soon after what was the second surgery of the year I sat in the OB/GYN
office again for a routine checkup, still not pregnant, and even more
worn out than I was back in January, and I burst out in tears. I said
with a trembling voice I could no longer live like this, and that I
was ready to give up the dream of becoming a mother. It got replaced
by a much stronger dream, a will to survive, and to truly get to live
my life.

The doctors discussed my request, and it got granted. In June of that
year I went into surgery again, it turned out my ovaries could stay
but my uterus was removed. The uterus was tested, and the OB/GYN told
me that the cells were back to their restless state, and if I had
gotten pregnant, I would have had a baby and full blown cancer. The
moment he told me my decision was the right one, it felt like victory.

It has taken me a couple of very tumultuous years, stumbling, falling,
getting up again, to finally get to where I am today. I had a hard
time accepting the fact I no longer had a uterus, and struggled hard
with femininity issues, but I climbed out of it, and became the
strong, independent woman I am today.

I have no doubt that the journey I went through was one of saying
goodbye to my old self, to the dreams of that woman I used to be.

What I did gain though, was finding my passion. I had been a writer
ever since my early childhood, but lacked the confidence to do
anything with it. I found that strength again in the depth of my
depression, and for that I am forever grateful.

Popular

Nearly every teenage themed movie has some variation of an unpopular kid trying to be liked.  One of my favorites of those movies was “Can’t Buy Me Love” which centered around a guy paying the prettiest and most popular girl to date him.   She scoffs at his plan at first, not believing that her cool friends would be so easily fooled.  But sure enough, all it takes is him showing up on her arm, for him to earn a new spot on the high school status ladder.  There are a few problems and in the end he falls from glory, but of course still wins the girl.

When I was growing up, I was always just on the perimeter of the popular circle.  I had plenty of  good friends, but spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to cross the threshold into the circle.  I was friendly acquaintances with most of the kids in the circle, but not enough to call them friends.  I often regret that I spent so much time wishing to be somewhere that I wasn’t.  I probably missed a lot that was right before my eyes.

These days I still feel that pull.  Wherever I am there seems to be the “cool kids.”  When I used to take Bella and Callee to Babytime at the public library there were certain moms that just had “fabulous” stamped across their foreheads.  It was obvious to me that I wouldn’t fit in with them seeing as my clothes were wrinkled, my face make-up-less, and my daughters didn’t own a single big bow.  But that didn’t stop me from wondering what life in their world was like.  I feel the same thing at church sometimes.  There are wonderful  members who are embedded in the very fabric of the church.  They’ve volunteered their services and taken every class at least twice.  They could recite the Unity principles with their eyes closed and hands tied behind their backs (I suppose they don’t really need their eyes or hands for that huh).   Me, well I still have to read our church motto on the wall behind Rev. Jean just to remind myself.

And then there is the blogosphere…

What I really want is to just be content with where I am here.  The reality is my ego gets the best of me and I find myself still walking the circle and desiring more popularity.  I try to figure out how to get more readers or Facebook Fans without being a pest.  I wonder if there is a certain kind of post I could write that would lure people in and keep them coming back for more.  I question myself on the days when the numbers are down.  I worry about offending people and causing them not to like me.  Even as I am bravely sharing my deepest thoughts, I am scared to death that someone somewhere is laughing at me or turning folks against me.  And worst of all I read other people’s blogs and I see their popularity and I wonder how I can be more like them.  I don’t move on those thoughts, I just acknowledge them. I know deep down that this is not what life is about.  I can’t make myself into what other people want.  I don’t even know what other people really want.

So I keep moving on my path.  I remind myself to feel good as I am, to be grateful for this amazing life I am blessed with, and not waste the precious time I have wishing for that ever evasive “more.”

Also, I must say as I conclude this post, that has been more or less a confession of a life-long weakness, I feel a little like “Ronald” as his drunken “girlfriend” announced to an entire room of party goers that he had paid her to go out with him.  But before I go crawl under a rock, I decided to share these feelings in the hopes that I’m not alone.  Maybe some of you reading this will totally get me and we can both feel a little less alone on the journey.

Jill’s Click

I’m not sure where I first met Jill, whether it was Twitter, our blogs, or Owning Pink, but I know that I read whatever was the current blog post on her page and added her immediately to my blogroll b/c it spoke to me so strongly.  I have enjoyed tweeting with Jill and she is always so very supportive of my blog and writing.  She sent me the following post in response to my request.  It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.  An essay about moving past fear as I was stuck in a fearful place, worried about rejection.  Thank you Jill, for the following wise words.  You can follow Jill on Twitter here and read her blog here.

When I was asked by Leslee to write a Click story I was momentarily panicked.  I instantly heard a voice in my head say, “No way! You can not do that. You have nothing to say. You don’t remember any click moments.”  It was the voice of fear.

Fear has often stopped me in my tracks. To be honest, it has not only stopped me, but it has knocked me down and pushed me into a deep hole and then shoveled dirt on top of me. Ok, that is a little dramatic, but that is exactly how my life used to feel. I would be wandering along happily and then BAM!! Something would bring fear into my heart and I would fall to pieces.

Since January of 2009, I have been on an interesting journey.  I don’t remember the specific date, just that it was a Saturday in January. I was at my baby sisters house and we were discussing the spiritual journey she was about to begin. She had recently quit a job that was sucking the life out of her and she was feeling drawn to California. I remember sitting there seeing how happy she was and how she was much more relaxed than I had ever seen her before.  I wanted what she had. Then a thought came into my head from nowhere that turned me upside down.

“You get to decide. You get to choose who you are.”  With that thought I was brought to tears. These were tears of joy.  It was like my life had never existed until that very moment. I was so excited to finally get to live my life on my terms.

I chose a few things that day. I chose to no longer accept that I was an addict of any kind. I had recently left a 12-step group for compulsive overeating, and while in that group I had also accepted that I was probably an alcoholic. On that cold, January day I gave those labels to the Universe, and I was happy, joyous and free for the first time in my life.  I chose to let my past be my past.  I chose to allow myself to be happy and beautiful, even if I was overweight.

It was very much a spiritual experience, but I had a long way to go.  I was coming out of the depths of my own living Hell, so there was much more work to be done.  Over the next year I had my ups and my downs, but I never lost sight of the fact that I get to choose.  I spent numerous hours reading all things spiritual. I also spent many hours in the therapist’s office.  The day came when I decided that I no longer needed a therapist. I was ready to go it alone.

My life continued to get better. My heart opened in ways that I didn’t think were ever possible. I learned how to love myself and others fully. I recognized that I had been sharing my Spirit with a bully and got some help to get rid of it once and for all. Happy, joyous and free had continued to be my destiny.

I can’t possibly remember all of the defining moments I’ve had over the past year and 3 months.  There have been many.  The next one that struckme came sometime in November (or was it December). I honestly can’t remember. I was on Twitter and in my Twitter stream came a Divinely inspired tweet. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was about giving up “chicken behaviors” and living bullet-free.

I decided at that moment in time that I wanted to be bullet-free. I wanted to live fearlessly, out in plain sight. So I committed to facing my fears and not letting them control me any longer.  You see, even though I was happier than I had ever been in my life, I was still letting fear live a part of my life for me. I was still holding back because I was afraid of what people would think of me.

So starting in January 2010 I dedicated my year to living it free of fear.  If something puts fear in me I know that that is something I need to do.  I have faced a number of fears through my blog. I found my voice and now I let it speak. I no longer deny my spirituality. If someone wants to know who I am I tell them. I started homeschooling some of the Littles again because I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, even if others didn’t think so.  I sang karaoke for the first time recently, because it has always been something I wanted to do, but was too scared to try.  And when Leslee asked me to submit a Click story, I knew by the fear I felt that I would be writing that story.

My decision to live a fearless year has not been easy. I still have fears that I have to face. I have avoided some conversations with loved ones. I have a phobia of the dentist that I will be facing soon. I have kept my truest self hidden from certain people.  These are all fears that I have, but I know that each one will be dealt with. I know this because, I get to choose. And because I have chosen to live free, I know that I will face all things that make me want to run and hide.  I’m done hiding.  I’m living out in the open.  Happy, joyous and free.

Ramblings

I have had no burst of inspiration today.  There’s no words of wisdom or deep questions I have for myself or you.  I’m writing this on Sunday, April 25.  The 25th of each month is no longer just another day.  The 25th will forever be the date that signifies one more month without Amy in my life.  Someone wrote the other day on Facebook that they think of her everyday.  I paused for a moment realizing that I don’t think of her as much anymore.  Everyday seems like a lot, but compared to every minute it is not.  For so many weeks, maybe even months, a minute could not pass without a memory or thought of Amy coming to mind.  But yes, like the friend on Facebook, I do still think of her everyday.  Yesterday I was on the couch reading and I stopped for a moment to think of her.  I looked up from my book and on PBS was a commercial for a documentary about frogs.  Today the girls brought me yet another mysterious toy frog that they found in their room.  She’s still sending me signs.  I hope she never stops.

I used a gift certificate and bought two books yesterday:  Love Without Conditions by Paul Ferrini and The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. I started reading them both yesterday.  Apparently The Master Key System is a 24 week program.  You are supposed to read each chapter over a week period and apply what you are learning.  I’m excited about it, but hope that I can stick with it.  I’ve bought and read several books like this one and never treated them like a class, but instead just devoured them and placed them back on the bookshelf.  Intellectually I understand a lot of what (I think) is going to be presented in this book, but it is really time to take it to the next level.  The best way to get to that next level is to use the book as suggested.

The other book, Love Without Conditions, is just wonderful.  Seeing as I had my belief in Jesus shaken a bit a week or so ago, this book is just what I needed.  It is not a channeled book specifically, but the text comes through the author from Jesus.  Ferrini says in the introduction that we all have access to Jesus and can commune with him and get the same information from within our consciousness directly from him.  I believe that because I have experienced it!  I have realized through some of the comments I received on that post, some answers I received within, and from what I read in this book that I really don’t need absolute proof of Jesus’ human existence on this earth for me to know that he is a spiritual teacher for me.  His words and lessons will not change.

Happy Monday everyone!  Have a great work/school week and for those of you who might be wondering…I did sign up to give a talk at church this summer.

Play (A Poem)

So just pulled the “play” card from my Sonia Choquette Trust Your Vibes deck.  Now lets see if I can write a poem….

Play (4-23-10)

The wind in my hair

screaming as the coaster

twists and loops

the giggles

filling the room

as baby girls run

from the tickle monster

aphids for the ants

Uno, I win

walk to the pond

bread in hand

fish flipping

fighting turtles

for just a nibble

writing my life

reading pages that feed me

lighten my soul

lift my burdens

stop to hear the sounds

birds singing

invitations

in the form of

kisses

come dance

let joy move through

me

oh the ways