Memorial Day

I recently read a Marianne Williamson book that talked about holidays and how in today’s world they are not really honored and celebrated the way they were meant to be.  She touched on each one and for Memorial Day she said that it has become more about bbq’s and mini vacations then it has about remembering our soldiers.  As I look on Facebook, I see several status updates reminding us of the true reason for the holiday.

Often times when I am watching the news and see images of war, I am completely detached.  It plays like a movie and although my mind knows it’s real, I can’t seem to feel what one ought to feel.  Mostly I think the media in America shields us from the most grotesque and raw images.  The pictures we are shown are not much different from what Hollywood shows us on the big screen.  I can’t imagine myself in those scenes.  It is something, I believe, one must experience to understand the true impact of.

Over the years though, I have watched various programs about soldiers.  I watched the PBS show Carrier that was a reality show that documented men and women living and working on an aircraft carrier.  A week or two ago I watched a Frontline episode about men who returned from Iraq and committed terrible crimes (arguably b/c of their PTSD) that landed them in prison.  It is this kind of documentation that allows me to understand the sacrifice of our soldiers.  It is one thing to see the quick flashes of war and quite another to hear a soldier tell his or her own story.  There are so many emotions and so much pain.  I’m sure many learn to push it down, cover it up, but it is there.  Our soldiers and their families sacrifice so much for the freedoms we enjoy.  They sacrifice for me so that I can write this blog.

So today I want to truly honor the purpose of Memorial Day.  I want to send out my gratitude to those who have served for this country and for my freedoms.  We are lucky to have people willing to do this job for us.

On this day I invite you to click on the link below and take 25 minutes to watch the episode of NOW provided.  It should open your heart a bit and allow you to feel true compassion for our service men and women!

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/547/index.html

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What’s Missing?

This week I read the book Spiritual Economics by Eric Butterworth.  I’m currently in the middle of the last chapter and have to say it is a very powerful book.  In it, Butterworth debunks a lot of false ideas and (for me) shined a light on how we got to where we are.

I do believe that, in America, we are currently watching the tower crumble.  At some point in history there was a shift from giving to getting, from country and community to me and mine.  My entire life has been one immersed in consumerism and materialism (not by my parents but by media and society in general).  As a kid I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons and getting as excited about the toy and cereal commercials as I did the shows.  I’d beg my mother for those items I saw on TV.  At Christmas time I’d take the Sears catalog and circle everything I wanted from Santa.  I’d say my generation grew up with the “collect them all” mindset.

So now we are all grown up and out in the world searching for MORE MORE MORE.  A few years ago I decided I wanted a bigger house.  It wasn’t a logical desire considering we are a one income family, but I wanted it.  I thought that more space would make me happier, and I knew people who were living in 3000+ square feet houses, so why couldn’t I?  We started going to Open Houses and shopping around.  It was the peak of the market here in Florida.  Most of the 4 bedroom homes were not within our budget.  But still we took the next step and interviewed a couple of real estate agents.  It was only then that reality hit me and I realized I didn’t want to leave the small home that I love.  Since then, I’ve embarked on this spiritual journey and have realized what that “more ” is I was searching for.  I know that I wouldn’t have found it in a bigger house.  And nearly everyday it crosses my mind how grateful I am for my great neighborhood and my home, even it’s smallness.

And that brings me to the answer to the title question.  From what I’ve learned of our history, I’m pretty sure that in the beginning America was a nation founded on gratitude.  People who came here were so happy to be free from the hardships they left behind.  They were thankful for the opportunities to build a life.  The American dream was raised on people everywhere saying thank you, thank you, thank you.  I am so blessed to be here.  It is wonderful that I have this home, freedom, opportunity, and abundance (not in terms of things either).  The “God” that blessed America in the beginning was the Grateful attitude of the people.

But over time, as the nation prospered and life became easier, people stopped saying thank you.  I think that some people began to feel resentment and some gained an attitude of entitlement.  And from that was born the mindset of competition and getting ahead at all costs.  So for a long time now, we’ve been “keeping up with the Jone’s” by spending money we don’t have and running our businesses without ethics.  We do it because we are supposed to have the American dream.  It was promised to us by all those folks that were grateful!

Currently, tons and tons of oil is making it’s way to our shores, men and women are dying in battles in other countries, people everywhere are losing their jobs and homes, animals are being brutally slaughtered, our roads and bridges are weakening, and many of our once thriving communities have turned into ghost towns or war zones.  I can’t help but wonder if we’d be in this position if we hadn’t stopped saying thank you or if we could turn it all around by starting now to live with an attitude of gratitude….

The following video is pretty interesting and speaks to what I talked about when referring to my own childhood.

Attitude Adjustment

I’m in the middle of reading a book called “Living with Joy” by Sanaya Roman.  Like so many of the books I read, a touch point in it is the power of our thoughts.  Today in church we sang the song “Our Thoughts are Prayers.”  We are all spiritual beings in physical bodies.  The thoughts that flow through our minds have energy attached to them.  The more emotion we feel along with our thoughts, the more power they have.  The combination of our thoughts and emotions work together to create our life experience.

I am currently in need of an attitude adjustment.  There are certain areas that I’ve been halting my own progress by holding onto negative thoughts.  I signed up with my sweet and inspiring friend @meganmonique to join her on a journey to health.  I’ve written two posts about my struggle with weight and now I seem to be back in the boat of trying to lose again.  I never made it to my ideal weight and then during the holidays I added a few more pounds to the scales.  I’ve been making wiser food choices and working out for over a month now.  I’ve lost three pounds.  I expected to lose that much the first week.  This time around I’ve chosen to be quite hard on myself.  I tend to beat myself up when I eat a little too much or skip a workout.  I overlook the beautiful aspects of myself and focus on the flaws.  I tell myself it’s just not working this time.  I think constantly about how slowly these changes are happening and how it seems I am taking one step forward and two steps back weekly.  If my thoughts are prayers than I can tell you I am getting EXACTLY what I’m praying for.

The other change of attitude I need is in the area of my creative writing.  I’ve been talking about that novel idea I have since I started this blog.  I even started posting the “click stories” in order to give myself more time to write fiction.  The pessimist in me tells me often that I don’t have enough time or resources to work on that novel.  The research seems like a daunting task, one that I don’t feel capable of taking on.  My hope is that it would be the first novel in a series, but how do I pull together the overarching plots and themes and still come up with an exciting subplot and storyline for this first book as well as the other three I’d like to follow it.  I say the time isn’t right just yet, but am so lovingly reminded by a friend that I could just be procrastinating.  So again, I send all of these negative thoughts out into the Universe and what returns to me is a form of writer’s block.

My goal for this week is to turn my negative thoughts into positive ones.  I completely understand the value of focusing on the good.  I have watched relationships turn around.  I’ve accomplished things I never in my wildest dreams would have guessed I could.  I’ve been able to feel peace in moments that would have devastated me years ago.  I do, in fact, have the time, creativity, intellect, and ability required to write those novels.  I’ve done it before, so why in the world would I create a self-fulfilling prophesy that says otherwise?  My highest intention is to be mindful and appreciative.  There is so much good in my life, yet I am often too busy to stop and say thank you, thank you, thank you.  The more that I recognize the good and  embrace that there is an endless supply of it just waiting for me to dream it into reality, the more joy and peace I will experience in life!!

Giving Thanks for Rebirth

I am writing this on Sunday night, November 22.  It will post on Thanksgiving day.  My intention was to write a post of gratitude on this day named just for that.  It’s been a difficult past couple of months though.  There’s a lot in my life to be grateful for, but it’s hard to write about on a day when I’ve found myself in tears three times, missing my friend.  So instead I’m chosing to express thanks, not for what I have, but for what is happening to me now.

In October I had two life-changing events.  The first was a reality check in the form of some tough criticism.  It should have shaken my foundation, but for some reason it didn’t.  It was a truth I always suspected, that had hidden itself under a pretty package and lots of sugar coating.  The second event was, of course, losing one of my best friends, Amy.  The person I was died the day she did.  I’ve tried, in moments, to venture back to the thoughts, desires, and ideas I had before that day and they’re gone.  I’ve tried to have the same conversations I had before that day and I can’t.  I know this is all meant to be.  It is a huge wake up call.  I’m hitting the snooze button right now though.  I’ve always been one of those people who sets the alarm an hour before they really need to get up, just so they can snooze for an hour.  Right now, I’m trapped in the hour.

I haven’t started “doing” anything yet, but my internal guidance system is hard at work.  When I sit mindlessly lurking on the internet, I get that uncomfortable feeling in my gut.  Today I finally listened.  I closed the laptop and I picked up “Class Lessons” by Joel S. Goldsmith.  Reading it, I was reminded of my nature, of the reality of who I am, who we all are.  I thought more about how I’ve lost my way somewhat.  I don’t study and meditate the way I once did.  To some extent, I’ve let my ego take the wheel.  Losing Amy shined a light on that (which is funny b/c during a conversation she once said to me…”this is all about ego, nothing else”), but in the aftermath I’ve been too numb to make the necessary changes.

I read Joel S. Goldsmith’s teachings and I am reminded not to judge the situation.  Today I received an email that made me very happy.  I was torn between dancing or crying(happy tears).  Later on I thought more about it and realized it was also kind of scary and intimidating.  It was only then that I had to stop myself from judging.  I want to let go of the duality.  I want to let go of the concern for myself.  Before Amy died, I had a g-chat conversation with my cyber-friend Biswajit (who has become a sort of spiritual teacher for me) and he asked me what I was looking for (on my spiritual journey).  My response was something like  “to have a true realization that I am taken care of.”  No sooner had I typed that into the chat box, did he come back with a big NO! He then said “your purpose here is not to be taken care of.  It is to take care of others.”  I knew he was right.

Now I am in the midst of a rebirth.  I am discovering a new life.  I am working my way through the grief and fear.  I am hoping to initiate the changes I am being pulled to make.  I know that it takes silence and clarity to hear my inner voice, but it is that voice that will guide me to my rightful place.

 

Dear Amy (my stuff)

I’ve allowed myself one week to write to you and about you on the blog.  Tomorrow I’m going to tell your favorite story and then go back to the old routine, well with the exception of the click stories.  (I’ve received four already and plan to post them on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)  For my last letter I just want to tell you how I’ve felt.

I guess it was nearly a year ago when I made my “25 things about me” list on Facebook.  One thing I thought about including in the list and did say in a comment was “I am not who I used to be.”  I wanted to make it clear to everyone who knew me when I was younger that I was not proud of a lot of my choices.  When you read that though, I think it hurt you.  I can’t exactly remember (see that’s why I need you) if you actually told me or I just got it via Kristin, but I’ll never forget the gist of what you said.  It made you sad that I felt so much regret for that time in my life, because for you it was a wonderful time.  You were right beside me on that journey, picking me up when I slipped, helping me laugh when I wanted to cry, and just simply having FUN!  Somehow I’d forgotten all that fun and chose to focus on the “bad” stuff.  You wanted me to remember it the way you did.  The funny thing is, once I was told what you really thought of me not being who I used to be, I DID start to remember it differently.  I chose to reflect on the good and I began to change.  I started to accept and embrace the past, letting go of all the guilt I’d held onto.  Those little steps of self-acceptance and self-love opened my heart.  Over this past year I have begun to love more deeply and more passionately and I believe you had a big role to play in that.  I thank you so much for the gifts you have given me over the past 18 years.

I also want to tell you that I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for moving so far away.  I’m sorry for missing so much over the years.  I’m sorry for crawling into my own little world and forgetting to reach out to those of you who had invested in me for so long.  I’m sorry that you only met the girls a few times.  They would have loved you so much and you them!  I’m sorry for not sending pictures of them.  I’m sorry for not staying with you when I’d come to NC for visits.  I’m sorry for not expressing enough gratitude for all the lovely gifts you sent me and my family over the years.  I’m sorry for not telling you I loved you enough, but glad I at least said it recently.  I’m sorry for dumping my drama on you and not taking enough time to ask you how you were doing.  You have taught me so much about living and I’m sorry I am only realizing it now that you have made your transition….

Here are a few things I’ve learned from your example:

1.  When you find people you connect with, stay connected.  TALK ON THE PHONE to the people you love! (I’m easing in to this one, you know I’m not a phone person.)

2.  There is nothing wrong with asking for what you want and expecting to get it!

3.  Be generous and helpful.  Reach out to people in need.

4.  Life is short, make the most of it.  Have things, do things, and be with people that feed your soul!

5.  Seek your own answers, make up your own mind, and don’t let anyone ever pressure you or guilt you into doing/being something you DON’T want to do/be.

I’ll probably think of more lessons later, but those are the ones that stand out to me now.  Thank you for the biggest gift of all (that came in the tiniest little package): YOU and your beautiful friendship!!!

I know you loved 80’s music and singing Karaoke.  This is the first song we ever sang at Rainbow Deli!

Messages

A few weeks ago a new member joined the Owning Pink Posse and wrote a blog post introducing herself.  Kim told the story of her oldest daughter’s death.  She discussed how she has remained connected to her daughter in spirit throughout the years.  I was fascinated by the post seeing as I believe very strongly in this idea of remaining connected to loved ones who have died (I even wrote my second novel about the subject).  I commented on Kim’s post and she replied that her story was actually published in a book called “True Stories of Messages from Beyond.”  She offered to send me a copy and I immediately sent her my address.

On Friday I started to wonder what would be the next topic for my blog.  I have a lot of ideas in the vault but so far I haven’t needed to open it.  I’m always given at least one idea, but on that day I was not sure something new would arrive.  Around 4pm I checked the mail and found a package.  I had completely forgotten about my book request, but when I saw the return address my memory was jarred.  I pulled out the book, flipped to Kim’s story and began to read.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read about her daughter, Elizabeth.  Kim shared the details of the day they found out Liz had died and her experiences of connecting with Liz with the help of a medium and on her own.  The one thing that struck me and inspired this post is that on the day of the funeral one of Liz’s friends, Cassie, approached Kim and told her that Liz had come to her with a message that she was at peace.  Kim’s reaction to Cassie was gratitude and total belief.

It was that part of the story that made me realize I should share a story of my own and hope that others would feel the same kind of gratitude.  You see a year and a half ago, one of my sorority sisters died.  I’ve written about her before in the post called “Funeral Songs,” but failed to share what happened one day weeks after the funeral.  Suzy’s closest friends had set up an account for her children.  I had been by the bank that week and made a deposit of $175 into the account.    I was at the YMCA in a spin class when the song “Soak up the Sun” came on.  It was the song that had been played at Suzy’s funeral and I started thinking of her.  The moment I did this amazing energy washed over me.  I was covered from head to toes in goose bumps.  In my head I heard “Thank you for thinking of my children.”  I continued to pedal as tears streamed down my face in between the beads of sweat.  Silently, I told her I was sorry for not keeping in touch and not sending her a message on her caring bridge page (even though I had read it most days).  She told me it was OK.  She also let me know she was at peace.  I don’t know if she actually told me or if I just felt her peace but I was so consumed by the energy that I realized my heart rate had reached 200 bpm and I was not even tired.  I am certain that Suzy came to me that day and there was a part of me that wanted to tell everyone who loved her she was OK.  I wanted to call her friends and get a message to her husband, but I didn’t.  To be honest I didn’t think I deserved to be the one and I didn’t think anyone else would either.  I told Mark, Teresa, and Kristin about it and after that quietly filed the experience away.

I’m still not quite sure about sharing it here, although it seems right and I am a true believer in this stuff.  We are all capable of making these kinds of connections.  I am certainly not special, at least not anymore than anyone else is.  So thanks for letting me share…I’d love to hear if anyone else has had this type of experience.

Gratitude Fix

So today I’m in a mood, feeling a little down without good reason.  Like I’ve said before the closest fix I’ve got for a mood like this is to simply count my blessings.  So this will be another one of those gratitude posts!

I am grateful for Mark and how much he loves the girls and me.  It meant so much that he went with me to take them to their first day of school.  I love that he said to me while in Bella’s kindergarten classroom “Let’s just stay until the teacher starts kicking the parents out.”  I reminded him that I was a teacher and I know from experience that the teacher does not want to have to kick us out.  But it felt good that he said it and that leaving his little ones at school on their first days touched his heart in that way.  (I was also the one to pull him away from Callee’s school’s playground.)

I am grateful for spending a few hours with the ladies in my women’s group last weekend.  I am so lucky to know all of them and am just in awe of their talents.  I had been thinking a lot recently about taking a dance class and sure enough we talked a great deal about Jenny’s tremendous dancing skills and the various classes available in town.  I even discovered there is a studio here that offers pole dancing classes (which I totally want to do after reading Lissa Rankin’s post…the one I linked to yesterday).  I am also looking forward to Kamala’s upcoming workshop on healing.  I can’t wait to get a dose of all that she has been learning through her travels and studies this past year.

I am grateful that this first week of school has gone smoothly.  I am so pleased that we live in walking distance to Bella’s school.  I might have had a completely different reaction to the first day if I had had to wait in a car line or put her on a school bus.  It is very comforting to be this close and the exercise I’m getting walking an extra 2 miles a day certainly is appreciated.

Finally, I am grateful for the way my world is expanding.  It is quite amazing how blogging and tweeting has opened up so many doors and invited new people into my life.  I chatted today with a fellow writer in India and bought a book on Tuesday to send to my new friend in Texas.  I connected with someone else in Virginia and may have just gotten my first official writing gig.

Like always, I could go on and on, but I won’t.  It seems this was just enough to get me feeling better.  Life truly is good.  Someone replied to a blog post I wrote today and said “Ain’t it fun to be on this trip?”  When I first read the question I hesitated for a second, but then realized it was just the reminder I needed.  Yes it is fun!

For the sake of fun, laughter, and needing to be cheered up…here’s a pretty funny video but probably NSFW since a thong wearing woman makes an appearance (if you’re at work and can’t watch it, come back later for the laugh.)