Today I am Turtle

*I wrote this last Friday.  I’ve been resistant about posting it, but ultimately have decided to.  I’ll explain more on that after you’ve read it.*

We don’t have HBO so over the last couple of years we have watched Entourage on DVD through Netflix.  The long awaited season 6 arrived in the mail on Wednesday and we watched the first four episodes.  This season is thus far not nearly as exciting as the previous seasons, but I do love all the characters.

First you have Vince who is the center of the Entourage universe.  He moves through life with ease and optimism.  He is incredibly generous, showering his friends with lavish gifts.  Even when things go south he always believes they will improve and of course they do.  He can charm the socks off of anyone, male or female.  And when he says farewell to yet another one-night-stand, the word “jerk” never enters your mind.  He’s lovable and enviable almost every step of the way.

Next you have Eric (E).  Eric is the first of the three guys riding on Vince’s coat-tails.  He is responsible, honest, and ethical.  He struggles with the playboy lifestyle because he can’t seem to shake the romantic side of himself.  In relationships with women he wears his heart on his sleeve.  He’s Vince’s best friend and manager.  He does an incredible job for Vince but can’t seem to build up his own business by managing anyone else successfully.

Drama is Vince’s brother and also an actor.  He is a struggling actor though, who finally in season 5 gets a gig on a TV program.   As long as I’ve been watching the show I’ve thought he had missed his calling.  The character seems happiest when he is making a gourmet meal for his friends.  He prides himself in being well-groomed and put together physically.  He is however, socially awkward with some serious anger management issues.  He is more than happy to let his brother pay his way if need be.

The last character I’ll mention in this post is Turtle.  Turtle is Vince’s friend, driver, and errand runner (basically).  He has some really great ideas, but lacks the follow through.  When he’s not taking care of Vince or hanging out with the boys, he’s smoking pot and wishing he could make something happen.  Meanwhile Vince treats him wonderfully and on the most recent episode we watched even bought him a Ferrari.  In this particular episode Turtle is in the midst of a “crisis” because he turns 30 and realizes that everything he has is really Vince’s.  He wants to make something of himself.  He wants to be able to give back.

I realized as I watched the show this week that I relate to Turtle so much.  When I am not taking care of and spending time with my family, I am goofing off online (my version of Turtle’s pot).  I have this amazing, wonderful, Ferrari of a life that I am so grateful for…but I have it because of my husband and all his hard work and success.   My grandest achievements (Bella and Callee) wouldn’t be here without the help from my husband.  So I am feeling the itch.  I want to accomplish something great all on my own.  I want to give back to my family in the ways my husband has.  I don’t yet see the clear path to that, but I do so long for it.

Perhaps it will take becoming a “Vince” to see it through…

*So this post has really been bugging me.  Something about writing it made me feel…guilty.  I knew for starters that it sounds very narcissistic and maybe a touch ungrateful.  But tonight after meeting with a friend/spiritual companion I realize how ego-rific it is.  There’s nothing spiritual here…just little ole me vying for some validation from this world we live in.  I must get back to my regular meditation practice.  I really need to reconnect with Spirit.*

A Unity Lesson

I talk about my church, Unity Eastside, a great deal on this blog.  A few people have asked about Unity or made remarks about wishing they could find a church or minister like mine.  There are Unity churches all over the country.  If you visit their website you can see if there is a church near you.  Over the next year I am going to be teaching the kids at my church and Unity lesson plans are going to be on my mind a lot (particularly on Sundays).  I thought it might be nice to share some of those lessons here for anyone who wants to learn more about Unity.  So here goes my first such post…

Sunday morning,  I taught my first real lesson to the 5-8 graders in my group at church.  Our first unit of study is on the Unity Basics.  I find myself getting stumped when I try to explain the beliefs and ideals of my church to people so I am really excited about the opportunity to learn as I teach.  Although I feel that most of the time I live the Unity principles, I couldn’t quote them for you if you asked me.

Yesterday’s lesson was an introduction and overview of the 5 Basic Unity Principles.  They are as follows:

1.  There is only one Presence and one Power active as the universe and as my life.  God the Good.

2.  Our essence is of God, therefore we are inherently good.  This God essence was fully expressed in Jesus, the Christ.

3.  We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in mind.

4.  Through prayer and meditation we align our heart-mind with God.  Denials and affirmations are tools we use.

5.  Through thoughts words and actions, we live the Truth we know.

The lesson quoted the scripture Matthew 7:24-27.  This is the section where Jesus talks about building your house on a foundation of rock verses sand.  The house built on rock withstands winds and floods, the house built on sand does not.

How does this relate to the 5 principles?  Well because in Unity, those principles are the rock on which we build our spiritual life.  Basically if we face difficult times in life and we know that at our core we are connected to God, that God is the only real power (Omnipotent), then we will take the time to get quiet and make that connection.  We will listen for the still small voice or the inspired idea that gives us the answers we need.  Another illustration of this is to imagine a lost child in a grocery store.  The child goes into full-on panic mode.  They are running, calling for their mom or dad as tears stream down their face.  But usually the minute an employee or helpful bystander stops them and reminds them their parents are still in the store and they will find them, they calm down.  If your spiritual life is built on the idea that God is always there and all you need to do is be still and experience it, life will run more smoothly and effortlessly.

The other very important aspect of this foundation that Unity offers is the idea of paying attention to your thoughts.  Like I’ve said in here before and it is also a song we sing at church…our thoughts are prayers.  Whatever we give our energy and belief to is created in our life with God’s help.  God is more or less the Super-Conscious.  If we give enough energy to a thought it goes from our conscious or unconscious mind out to God’s and pulls to us, like a magnet, whatever it is we are focused on.  So when your egoic mind (which is as close as you get to a Devil) is thinking crazy thoughts, it is good to say “No that’s not real” and replace the thought with something that brings you feelings of peace and love.

I’d say that the most important of these principles is number 1.  All we really need to know is that.  If that is where our thoughts lie, life will be easy breezy.  Even when things are tough you can get through.  The other principles, in my opinion, reiterate that one and give you tools that help you get to the place where you are living number 1 to its fullest.

Childhood Dreams

I think I said in an earlier post that last week I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  The book was an easy and wonderful read.  Every chapter either moved me to tears or made me laugh.

A major theme in the book was the importance of childhood dreams.  Randy presented his childhood dreams and then went on to show how all of them (with the exception of one) came true.  Even the absurd dream of wanting to be Captain Kirk came true in a round about way.  It got me thinking about my childhood dreams.

Being a wife and mother were definitely on the list.  I’ve accomplished those.  For a time when I was a kid, we had a ping pong table.  We found that when the table was pushed up and stored it could be used as a chalkboard.  We spent time playing school.  Perhaps it was then when I decided I wanted to be a teacher.  I did become one.  Although I feel I am done with my time in the traditional classroom, I do not feel I am finished teaching.  I know that I dreamed of being a published author, although I think I also dismissed that dream as being “impossible.”  I also went through a phase where I desperately wanted to be a model.  I’m not exactly sure why seeing as I wasn’t tall or thin enough…or even pretty enough for that matter.  But I wanted it enough to give up a vacation to Hawaii so I could attend John Casablanca’s modeling school.  I guess I just craved the spotlight somehow and that was the only way I could imagine being in a spotlight.

Except for the fashion model fantasy, I don’t think I really dreamed BIG.  I loved my life just the way it was and never really longed for much more.  When I think of the activities that were my absolute favorite…those that defined my childhood it would be three things.  I loved being a cheerleader and showing off my cheers to anyone who would watch.  I loved playing Barbies and could spend hours on end in this fictional world of my imagination with Barbie and her friends.  I loved drawing and coloring.  The funny thing is except for cheerleading (which I participated in from 2nd grade through 12th), I’m not sure how often I did those other things.  Maybe it was only a year that I was taken with Barbie and maybe my drawing obsession only lasted a few months.  Maybe there were other things I did better and for longer, but those are the things I remember.  When I visualize my childhood I see the Barbie Dream House, the spiral notebook in which I drew portraits of  Strawberry Shortcake and all her friends, and my Godmother’s laughing face as I “perform” for her.

Randy’s book definitely has me reflecting once again on my childhood dreams, talents, and hobbies.  I do believe that what we are drawn to as children gives us clues about our future careers and lives.  The dreams of our children should not be dismissed.

Selfishness…

Tuesday was a busy day.  We had new carpet put in to replace the nearly 20 year old carpet that was in our bedrooms.  We spent the day moving around furniture and belongings.  I blinked and it was dinner time.  After dinner I went to see Eat Pray Love with my friend, Kelly, and it was during the movie that I realized I hadn’t written or scheduled a blog post for Wednesday.  Luckily I was watching a very inspiring movie.

I read the book Eat Pray Love over two years ago.  I remember liking it, but not loving it.  The spiritual aspects of it spoke to me, but I’ve never dreamed of being a world traveler so with the exception of the ashram in India I didn’t feel any envy on that front.  That being said, I LOVED the movie!  I don’t know if I’m just in a different place now, but it was moving, funny, and I really loved Liz and the whole cast of characters in her life.

That brings me to the title of the post.  Last week I read a scathing review of the movie.  Pretty much had I never read the book and just read this review, I might not have paid to see the flick.  The overall criticism of the movie was that the main character was selfish and narcissistic.  I’d put the link to the review here if I could remember, but I can’t.  The reviewer was so convincing that she even had me vaguely remembering the self-involved nature of the author in the book.  But guess what?  It was a memoir.  The purpose is for the author to write about her life experiences and her personal reactions to those experiences.  Of course it would have self-involved overtones.

So I went into the movie with this review still in my head and plans to pin point all those horribly narcissistic moments on the big screen.  The thing was, I didn’t see any.  I saw a woman with her own problems, dealing with them in the only way she could.  A big argument made by detractors is that she “had it all” and was so selfish that she left it to find something else.  It was made clear in the movie that her big dream was not to be a wife and mother, so how can we say she had it all.  Sometimes we make decisions based on a mold created for us by our families or our culture, sometimes we make decisions for ourselves and simply change our minds.  It was mentioned that Ms. Gilbert so thoughtlessly left behind her family and loved ones to travel the world, but all I saw was a woman who was given the perfect opportunity to have an adventure.  There was no one in her life that NEEDED her in order to survive and thrive.  In fact, the people who thought they wanted her went on to find more success and happiness once she was out of the picture.

I think it’s sad that people tend to jump on the label “selfish” every time another person does something specifically for their own well-being, sanity, and happiness.  We have no idea what other people are actually thinking and feeling.  A small problem to us may be a devastating obstacle to someone else.  A person who appears to “have it all” may in fact have not one thing that makes them feel good about living.

I, for one, find Elizabeth Gilbert inspiring and no more narcissistic than anyone else in the world.  (We’re all a little narcissistic and selfish right?)

Forgive Me…

Today has been one of those really, crazy busy days.  Despite the hard work and running around it’s been great.  I love being so caught in the moment that I’m not paying attention to the time or the internet for that matter.  Since I was too busy to be online very much today, I also completely forgot to write a blog post.  So tonight (Tues.) at 8 minutes til midnight I am writing a quick apology paragraph for neglecting the blog schedule today.  I will put great effort into coming up with a real post for you all to read tomorrow!!

I’m Teaching Again…

Over a year into my spiritual endeavors, I got the idea that I wanted to teach what I was learning to teens.  In my own life, I had been presented with Religion as a guiding tool to get you successfully through to your Judgment Day.  Whether it was valid or not my interpretation was everything that I do should be so that when I meet God, Jesus, or whoever one day they’d go through my list and it wouldn’t be so bad and I’d earn my ticket to Heaven.  Nothing I learned in Sunday school was applicable in my actual life.  If I wanted to do the many things teenagers tend to want to do, I was just supposed to NOT do them.  God didn’t want me to.  End of discussion.

What I learned as an adult on a Spiritual journey on my own terms is that God isn’t keeping a score card of my sins.  God isn’t even somewhere far off in Heaven watching over me.  God is actually an energy that moves through me and through everything around me.  If I am connected to and aware of that energy I am led to the best outcome for myself.  Instead of obsessing about what the God “out there” might be thinking of my choices, I simply pay attention to how I feel about my choices.  If I am on the right course I feel at ease, if I am not I feel stressed.  I am learning how to live now.  My spirituality has been the ultimate self-help.  Now, if I feel legitimate guilt I understand it is because I have done something that is not characteristic of who I really am.  I can let it go and remind myself of the goodness within me.

One thing I’ve said since I first found this path is if only I’d known this stuff when I was a teen.  I could have made better grades, been more organized, been better capable of dealing with conflict, and had more self-confidence.  But everything I did as a teen and young adult has brought me to the place I am now.  If I’d meant to “wake up” any earlier, the teacher would have arrived.

So back to the teaching thing.  Over a year ago I volunteered as the teacher’s assistant in the Uniteens (6-8 graders) program at my Unity church.  I did that for several months before the program fizzled due to teacher changes and low attendance.  Last Winter, our Youth Director returned after Maternity Leave and was ready to start a new program.  Again, I felt called to take it on.  I resisted for a while, but eventually stepped up and volunteered to lead the program starting August 15.  Since I made the commitment, I’ve been planning the year with my co-teacher.  During this time I’ve had a lot of feelings of uncertainty and fear.  It reached a peak the other day and I actually dreamed that 24 kids showed up for the class and not one of them was cooperating with me.  I woke up thinking what have I gotten myself into? And then I picked up the book “The Last Lecture” and read the whole thing over the day.  By the time I was finished I was reminded why I had gotten myself into this.  I want to help kids understand how valuable their dreams and ideas are.  I want them to know that they are divinely guided.  I want to give them the spiritual tools that will carry them successfully through middle school, high school, and into adulthood.  I want them to know that “God” isn’t an entity waiting to judge them after death, but a spirit that is within guiding them to live the most joyful and productive life they can.

Yesterday, I had 8 kids show up who are apparently ready to “awaken.”  And I’m going to do my best to teach them how….

Bone to Pick

Last week I caught a segment on a news show about Joe Vitale.  I was extremely interested as I recently read his book and wrote about it on the blog on Monday.  Well after watching the segment I have a bone to pick with the reporter as well as with Joe himself.

I’ll start with the reporter.

The basis of what Joe teaches is that we are responsible for our life experience.  This also goes hand in hand with the Law of Attraction.  From my own experience, I believe in this law.  It is obvious to me that my life is a reflection of my beliefs about myself.  It’s also easy to say this because my life has been by far a positive experience.  So during Joe’s interview he was asked the common question that is always used to “take down” LOA teachers.  What about people who are suffering?  (He used Haiti as the example.)  The thing is there are people who are born into horrid conditions and spend a lifetime existing there and there are also those who escape and make new and better lives for themselves.  No one wills this suffering on themselves.  It is not their “fault,” most people are completely unaware that their thoughts or attitudes create their existence.  I’d say even that a lot of people unconsciously never expect more or different from what they already have.  So in cases people who are born into poverty stay poor, some people face crisis after crisis or one tragedy after the next, and some deal with lifetimes of health issues.  I do not think any teacher of the Law of Attraction is ever blaming people for their own suffering, they are simply bringing to light that each person is responsible for improving their own lives if what they truly desire is an improvement.  In today’s society we are inclined and encouraged to look to other sources to save us.  It really is politically incorrect to admit that life really is one big self-fulfilling prophesy.

Now for Joe…

The book I read that he wrote was based on something called “Self I-Dentity Ho’oponopono.”  The only thing he could really share about the technique is the mantra because the rest of it is confidential.  In order to get the full technique you must attend a training conference and sign a confidentiality agreement.  I didn’t look into it b/c those two ideas were enough to turn me off immediately, but I’m sure the training cost thousands of dollars.  Now I get that he has risen to a certain level of fame and that there are countless people trying to get access to his teachings, but I don’t think healing and spiritual growth of this kind should be limited to  wealthy people.  If something is legitimate and true it should be accessible to the masses.  Which brings me back to the news story.  A woman was interviewed and she had paid $5000 to spend an evening with Joe.  $5000 for a few hours of one on one time with him?!?!  In that moment I realized why the Law of Attraction and related movements get a bad rap.  With price tags like that placed on spirituality it hardly appears that the practitioner is in it for the joy of helping others.

Needless to say as I watched the news program in between my dad and my sister I didn’t dare mention that I had read and LOVED Joe’s book.  It quite saddened me that he had fallen from my pedestal almost as quickly as he arrived there….  Fortunately though I can keep the mantra and I believe there are some resources online from the original teachings on “Self I-Dentity Ho’oponopono.”

I should end this with “I’m sorry, I love you, Please forgive me, Thank you” as I acknowledge there is quite a bit of judgment here!  It definitely struck a nerve with me…