No Defense

I have literally sat down at the computer tonight without knowing at all what I would write about.  A few days ago I re-read The Four Agreements and I definitely want to touch on some of that in a post eventually, but not tonight.  What popped into my head after that was something I read in A Course in Miracles this week.  Here it is:

Truth needs no defense.

In this world of polarized viewpoints in so many aspects of our lives, but especially in Politics and Religion, this is something that if I can take down to my heart just might set me FREE!  I don’t need to argue why I believe what I believe.  I don’t need to attempt in any way shape or form to pull you to my side.  At the end of the day Truth stands whether we’re there with it or not.

Next time I start to argue my point of view, I’m going to ask myself why I need to do that.  If my ideas are so shaky that they need me huffing and puffing, then maybe I need to go within and ask to see the truth.

What I have decided is that when I get to a place, especially with Religion, where I can hear a different viewpoint and not feel attacked, then I have truly begun to live what I know.  In the end, what you know intellectually can only get you so far, it is only when you are changed by it that you know it is Truth.

Facing Fears

I am writing this on Halloween afternoon/evening.  I have exactly 30 minutes to crank this out before getting the girls ready for trick or treating.  It seems like an appropriate day to talk about fears.

Today at church the title of this post was the theme of our lesson.  First I had the kids write down their fears on a slip of paper and put them in a basket.  We went around the room and drew slips, reading each fear.  We put the fears into two categories – Real or Irrational.  Our list looked a little something like this:

spiders, roaches, being trapped, falling out of a plane, losing all my friends, heights, failing in school, missing school

With only one exception (which I could argue still didn’t necessary belong in the “real” category) we put all of the fears into “irrational.”  We decided that even the ones that seemed very real, like losing all our friends or failing school, were still very much within our control.

I had chosen the bible verse Isaiah 33:6

And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.

I had spent some time with this verse trying to decipher what I felt it meant.  This I think is an excellent way to read the Bible.  Instead of counting on those newer editions which include someone else’s easier or shall I go as far as to say “dumbed down” translation, try to come up with your own.  I’ve been doing this myself for the past two lessons I’ve taught and I’ve had the children do it in small groups.

To me this verse means that using my wisdom and knowledge will bring me stability.  I can save myself a lot of anxiety if I apply logic, common sense, and history when I am facing a fear or worry.  When I’m in tears driving over a high bridge (because I’m the one who listed fear of heights), I can logically remind myself that it is incredibly unlikely that my car will suddenly tumble off.  When my husband forgets to call while he’s on a business trip, I can settle myself down with the thoughts of all the times he’s traveled and returned home safely. I can find strength in that as well as the respect I have for the Omnipresent and Omnipotent force guiding my life (fear of the LORD).  I know that whatever comes my way is a bridge I’m meant to cross that will make me stronger.  The divinity within will lead me through.

So much of what we fear is change itself.  We’re often afraid to make a move because success or failure are equally as scary.  But I do think that in many cases our fears are meant to be pushed through.  We can either dive into them and make those life-changing decisions or we can sit back and wait until we are dragged along.

So take a moment to let go of one of your irrational fears, imagine it inside of a balloon and release.


Grateful Kim’s Click 2

Kim is one of the friends I made through Twitter and Owning Pink.  I love her.  She is inspiring, uplifting, and just plain wonderful.  Since she last wrote for my blog she has gone Zumba crazy!  I’d love it if I lived in her town and could take her classes because I’m quite sure they are fantastic.  Please enjoy the following click from Grateful Kim!!!  (The picture here is from the opportunity she explains in the post.)

 

Several months ago I clipped out a 3″x2″ piece of paper out of a magazine and put it on my bathroom mirror. It reads: “Starting small can lead to some really big things.” I suppose at the time I clipped it out I was struggling for change, so the words appealed to me. I needed something bigger, something better. As usual, however, I had no idea what it was. The feeling is always a yearning, a desire for more, a knowing that I am capable of something extraordinary, coupled with a voice that says I’m too old, too inexperienced and much too incapable. Any chance you have that same voice in your head?

I see that little piece of paper everyday. It has been splashed on, crumpled and probably even has sprays of toothpaste on it, but it faithfully greets and reminds me of what to do. That tiny little piece of paper serves as my reminder that I don’t have to have all the answers and all the tasks of life completed by end of business day….today! Just take a step….a baby step…then wake up tomorrow and take another one. And pretty soon, all those steps will have lead to something that thrills me.

Today is one of those days that thrill me.

Without going into a whole lot of background (you can read my Zumba experience right here), I will tell you that I fell in love with Zumba Fitness less than a year ago. I became certified to teach Zumba back in February 2010 and took additional training/certification to improve my teaching just this past August. Simply put…I love Zumba. I love the dance, the music, the sharing, the classes and the connections I have made with people. Finally I feel at home in something, and can use my gifts and talents to enhance my life and the lives of others just by doing something I love.

I received an email a little over a month ago with an opportunity to audition for a new set of Zumba DVDs, that I assume will be sold as a home fitness package. That little voice? Yeah…he TOTALLY told me I was too old and not good enough. But my friends, acquaintances and family told me otherwise, which gave me all the encouragement I needed to go for it. Amazingly enough, my audition went well and I was selected. The words in this blog cannot fully express my joy and excitement and how I feel.

As a bonus to being selected, I have been invited to take a Zumba class with the creator of Zumba, Mr. Beto Perez. It’s tonight. It’s in Hollywood. It’s unbelievable to me that this is happening. As I write this blog it’s 4:45 in the morning because my adrenaline is flowing and sleep is just getting in the way of experiencing all the joy. Tonight can’t come soon enough, but one thing is for sure, I’m going to need a nap at some point today to refuel my energy. I’m excited, but I’m not a machine. LOL!

So much is happening. I’m taking a class with Beto-friggin-Perez. I’m in the midst of planning a Zumbathon for Breast Cancer that, so far, seems to be touching a lot of people. In one week and three days from today I’ll be in rehearsals and filming for a Zumba video. This is some crazy stuff people! I’m a 45-year old suburban wife, mother and realtor for goodness sakes! And sometimes when success comes (MY version of success, just for the record) I get this strong desire to pull back the reins and yell “Stop! No, no, no…it’s too much. I can’t handle it. I’ll never pull it off.”

This time, I’m not stopping. I’m going to dance my way into the unknown, go for the experiences and share the joy with anyone willing to listen. Because what I now understand, is when you love something and give it 100% of your energy, there’s no way you can fail. The journey itself is one hell of a ride!

What are your dreams? Can you take one small step toward them today? Because you know what? “Starting small can lead to some really big things.”

Roles

I have been thinking quite a bit about healing relationships lately.  There are relationships in my life that need to be healed and there is also a need for healing in a few relationships of people close to me.  As I began to think of how to initiate the process, I realized I first needed to look at the cause of the rifts.  I think that more than anything it has to do with our roles in relationships.

I believe we have a slightly different way of being with each person in our life.  In some relationships we give more, in some we take more, in some we feel more confident, and in others more insecure.  With one group of friends we may be a boisterous leader and with another a shy follower.  For the “seasonal friends” or the people that come and go throughout, our roles don’t become that vital.  If we change, it’s OK, we move on and let go.  With our life-long relationships any change in our roles can become make or break.

Change is inevitable.   We outgrow ideas and shift our perspectives.  But change like this is threatening to relationships.  If a subservient wife starts reading The Feminist Mystique, it might just scare the hell out of her husband.  If a straight A student starts getting C’s, alarms go off.  If the middle-aged chubby guy buys a convertible and starts hitting the gym, there’s a good chance his wife might start to question the motives behind these actions.   In these moments we must realize the change has nothing to do with us and everything to do with the path the other person is on.

I thought of a couple of examples to use to illustrate.  I know there are a lot of families or friendships that thrive on gossip.  So say you have two sisters who talk often and almost always share stories about what the other family members are doing.  One sister makes the decision that she wants to be more positive in her thinking and speaking.  This isn’t something she discusses with others, but just decides to do.  In the following week she gets a call from her sister, Sally Sue.  The very first thing Sally Sue says is “You won’t believe what our brother, Bob did this week.”  And goes on to tell the story.  The sister responds with a simple “that’s interesting” and then asks about the weather.  When the conversation is complete Sally Sue is left feeling hurt and confused.  She and her sister have always connected this way and she immediately begins to think her sister is mad at her and pulling away from their relationship.  In reality her sister is just trying to make positive changes in her life.  Now it is up to the sisters to shift their relationship or allow it to sink.  The roles have changed whether they both wanted them to or not.

There is also the parent/child relationship.  A father may raise his son always under the guise that he is the adult and he knows what’s best.  Eventually the son grows into a man.  As a man he is very educated and knowledgeable.  He learns a lot about his father’s interests and tries to offer advice.  His father is unwilling to see his son’s perspective and refuses the advice.  He is trapped in his role of “father knows best.”  This refusal to shift his role puts a wedge between him and his son.  The son was only trying to help and even gain respect but is instead was left feeling belittled and unimportant.

There comes a point in everyone’s life where they want to do things differently.  It may come as a response to growing resentful of some of their roles.  A caretaker may become exhausted by always giving and reach a point of feeling they deserve to be taken care of for a while.  It could be an answer to a calling of wanting to have a bigger life, be a better person, or contribute to society.  That kind of calling will shift the personal relationships because it forces a person to pull away and examine their essence.  But if we truly love those that are closest to us, those who hold these life-long positions in our life, we must be willing to seek to understand the change and hopefully embrace the new roles that are created (knowing that those roles may not be the last either).

Faith

I got back from vacation today and checked my email.  I have a great cyber-friend who challenges me from time to time.  Being the kind and respectful person that he is he never does it in a comment on the blog.  He had read yesterday’s Sunday quote from Notes from the Universe and just didn’t get it.  He expressed that the quote sounded like blind acceptance without any logic behind it.

I read back over that quote and sent an email back to him regarding what it meant to me.  I wanted to talk about it a little more here though.

I titled this post “Faith” because that is basically what it comes down to.  I’d say some people get put off by that word because they equate it with religion.  But the truth is we all have faith in a lot of stuff throughout our days.  We get in our cars to go to work in the mornings and we have faith that they will start and carry us safely to our destinations.  We have faith when we get our paychecks that we will cash them and they won’t bounce.  We have faith that our children will be safe when they are at school.  If we didn’t put our trust and faith in some things outside of ourselves we would probably go insane.  If we applied logic to every step we were about to make and thought intellectually about all the various ways that things could go right or wrong we’d probably be unable to actually take action on anything.

When things are bad we have to believe they’ll eventually get better.  I’d say most suicide cases happen because the person simply can’t step out and trust that their conditions will improve.  Change is inevitable.  Nothing is fixed.  Last week when I found that quote, I was having a particularly insecure day.  I was thinking about losses in the past and worrying they might happen in the future.    I was thinking logically.  Isn’t it logical that if one person I love leaves forever that another one might?  The effect of those thoughts was that by the end of the day I was curled up on my bedroom floor sobbing.  I’d let my monkey mind’s chatter trump my faith.

I do understand why my friend would have a hard time swallowing the whole “forget logic” idea.  For me the quote meant to stop over thinking things.  But I don’t think we should leave behind our common sense and intuition.   I think of my intuition and common sense as the navigation system for my faith (if that makes sense).  I trust that they will guide me and keep me out of trouble.  If someone calls me and offers me a “free” vacation my intuition radar goes off.  There’s no way in Hell I’m getting something for nothing and I’m not willing to sit through a sales pitch. It’s usually then that I use my common sense and hang up the phone.

I’m not going to re-post the quote, but to me it was just about having faith that even though I don’t see exactly how things fit together now that doesn’t mean they don’t fit together.   I do think that I am a “Being of Light” or expression of love.  I might not feel that way every day and especially not when I’m crying on my bedroom floor.  But it gives me peace and comfort to know that I can, have, or will make a positive difference in this world regardless of how small.  Every little bit counts.

Out-Numbered’s Click

I’ve been following @OutnumberedIsMe on Twitter for some time now.  I read his blog from time to time and it falls into the category of blogs that make me laugh out loud.  He is a much-loved personality in the blogosphere and Twittersphere so I decided one day to send him a request for a click story.  He quickly replied with a yes and sent me a few links later that day.  This was, to me, the most moving in a personal way of those he sent.  It truly caught the essence of the “click moment.”  So thank you, Mr. Outnumbered, for allowing me to publish this post and for the talent, humor, and generosity you send out into the world.

For my family…

The bathroom in my bedroom has a window right behind the toilet.

This morning I was peeing and staring out into the yard.

I spotted a bumble bee crawling across the roof.

Spring.

The seasons can signify many things. I suppose it depends on who you are.

For most, I would imagine they bring hope, change or inspiration. Perhaps all three.

But not me.

I don’t think I’ve ever needed the Spring as much as I do now.

The sun is like an awakening of sorts. Its bright light can change everything in an instant. There’s something about the warmth, the light, the smell of green.

So I’ve heard.

I’ve needed a change for quite some time. So long, that it’s hard for me to explain. It might be easier for me to speak in metaphors. I’m not quite ready to talk about all of this. But I need to let it go.

Suppose for the past 30 years you had been walking in the cold, gray, Winter. What if you’d watched countless seasons come and go but the Spring had always eluded you?

What if most days seemed as if they were filled with dark clouds and rain? So much rain. Imagine the Winter never left and Spring never came.

What would you do?

What could you do?

I can feel the Spring today. I can feel it for the first time in a long time.

For 30 years, I’ve carried a huge burden with me. I’ve harbored a lot of anger. I’ve tucked years of resentment so far down in my soul that I had forgotten it was even there.

But it was there.

Hardened.

Rotten.

Resentment has been the foundation for a wall I’ve built so high that I couldn’t even see over the top of it.

Concrete. Brick. Mortar. Repeat.

Mom, Dad, Wife, Children, Friends.

All on the other side.

My parents got divorced when I was 9. I remember the night they told me. I think that was the beginning. That night I locked the door to my heart and threw away the key. I wouldn’t ever talk about it again. I wouldn’t bother anyone. I wouldn’t listen to anyone.

I wouldn’t do anything.

I spent the last 30 years avoiding contact. I did whatever it took to stay at an arms length away. I wouldn’t let anyone even remotely close for more than a moment. I was afraid.

What could a 9 year old boy be so afraid of? What could a 39 year old man, with a job, a house and a family, be so scared of?

It’s simple.

I was afraid of being disappointed. I was afraid of being let down. I was afraid that it would happen all over again.

I was angry at my Father for leaving and I resented my Mother for letting him go.

It’s amazing what the mind will do to preserve one’s own sanity. Or maybe it’s just tragic.

I would take care of myself. I would wedge anything and everything between me and anyone who wanted a piece of me.

I would use alcohol, pills, food, whatever it took to numb the pain. I would self medicate for 30 years. I even used this blog. Especially this blog. It’s the perfect form of contact. It’s indirect. It’s not real. It’s safe because you can’t get too close to me…

Until now.

I’m changing.

I can feel it. For the first time, I’m starting to let go. I’m turning over the reins to a power greater than myself. I’m letting the resentment go and I’m inviting the ones that I love back in. I’m putting trust in faith. I’m having faith in trust.

These past few weeks have been hard. But not nearly as hard as all of the weeks prior. Over a thousand weeks gone for good. So much wasted time.

I must do this. I will not waste any more time.

I’ve taken some big steps to make things right. Things I’m not ready to talk about right now. Not here.

Today I felt the Spring for the first time in a long time.

It’s never felt so fucking good…

Georgia’s Click

I went to school with Georgia from 7th through 12th grades.  We recently reconnected on Facebook and I was amazed to discover what she had overcome this past year.  It was much more than a “click moment” and I couldn’t resist asking her to share her story on the blog.  I am so honored that she agreed.  Now, I’ll let her tell you the story….

I have a new anniversary to celebrate…April 8th.
A day that I can celebrate as a day of survival.

It’s true what people say- tragedy often comes with no warning, no notice, no symptoms…it just hits and within seconds, a life changes. I know people are curious as to what happened, so I will tell my story.

I was on Spring Break from school last year and expecting a move, I got up early to start packing. As I bent down to feed my cat, I started to have a headache. The headache was so awful I called my husband to tell him. After about 30 seconds of explaining how I felt- I hung up and dialed 911.  Waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I tried to stay conscious. Little did I know, what I was experiencing was a hemorrhagic stroke.

In the emergency room I was given an MRI, which revealed a ruptured AVM (artreveinous malformation) in my cerebellum. I had no symptoms nor had I even heard of an AVM! The doctor preformed emergency surgery to dispose of the brain tissue that had been “bled on” as a result of the rupture. I was in a drug induced coma for over a week and hospitalized for almost two months.

Because the AVM destroyed much of the brain tissue related to my gross motor skills, I had to spend nearly two weeks in an in-house rehabilitation center just to learn how to stand up and walk across a room(among other things).

In June, I had brain surgery to successfully removed the AVM from my cerebellum (called a craniotomy). He later described the AVM as the size of a bouncy ball.

The most important lesson learned from my experience is not what occurred, but the spiritual message I learned about life as a result, and the person I hope to become.

My family, friends, doctor -practically everyone- told me that I was at deaths door . . . maybe I died and came back to life . . . I don’t know- all I know is that not even a year into marriage and Chris was almost a widower. The thought breaks my heart.

Chris was with me no matter what the results and I love him dearly for that. Now, more than ever, the bond between us has become stronger . . . not necessarily as husband and wife, but between our spirits. I think this situation has only confirmed our belief that we married for the right reasons.

I do not let little things bog me down as much. Sometimes my egotistical-self will start to hark on minute problems, but my husband is always there to remind me “life is too short”. . . I figure he would know.

I have read a lot of books about my condition and it seems to be very rare. Knowing this makes me feel that all of this was so purposeful it’s scary. I have to say, the familiar clichéd quotes helped me to see this situation for what it truly was-not a tragedy but an enormous blessing. I believe that I have not yet fulfilled my spiritual destiny and it’s up to me to move forward and seek out my future with Chris.

I see this incident as an obstacle in my life that I have almost physically overcome, but the learning experiences gained from this event will guide me forever.

Quotes to Consider:

-If God brings you to it he will bring you through it
-God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight
-God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way.