Blessings, Choice, daily practice, Gratitude, happiness, Inspiration, Uncategorized

My Happy Box

This is my Happiness Box. The plan is to take time on New Years day and remember the things that brought me joy the last year.  It has all kinds of events, moments, thoughts, big things, little things. Basically it is snapshot of the happiness in my life.

2016-09-03-08-07-05My friend is doing this also.  Same plan, filling her box with notes to look at New Years day.  But she has been in a dark place this last couple of months, and the Happiness Box was moved to the side. As dark times do, hers peaked and passed. And she was left to pick up the pieces and move ahead. But the box, still, was moved to the back.

Until one day we were doing something fun and I said “this goes in the Happiness Box. How is yours doing?” And she realized hers was forgotten. So she found it, and wrote a note. One note led to another. She remembered from the summer that brought her happiness. She started filling in the blanks, and life shifted a little bit for her. She started looking for happiness, and found it.

Today we were talking about this and I said “you forgot to be happy”. And that my friends, is the heart of the matter. How often do we forget to be happy?  We get wrapped up in the moment and forget that happiness is a choice too.

There are times in life where happiness is not to found. I have had those times, particularly around deaths. But other losses as well….divorce, foreclosure, job changes, empty nest, lost loves. There is a list of events that happened and I cannot pretend any of that goes in the Happiness Box.

But here is the thing, even within those dark moments there were small glimmers of happiness. Seeing a child laugh, a friends hug, a blue sky, a kind act and on and on. Those glimmers lead us home. Those glimmers are the “don’t you dare give up” support from the Universe. And we have to look for them. We have to court them. And then they come and then they stay.

I can visit the dark but I need to live in the light.  I need balance of seeing both in my life. Having some trouble, sadness or feeling lost teaches me to grow past that.  It teaches me to choose.  It makes me  remember and be grateful for the good in my life.

This is not a lollipop world where everything is wonderful. But having my Happiness Box grounds me to the virtues I want in my life.  It commits to seeking out that which gives me joy.  I physically name my joy and give gratitude.  It is a Spiritual Practice, and it is good.

So whether you make box, write in a journal, post it on social media or sing it to the world, celebrate everything that makes you happy. Because what you call into your life will appear and multiply.  So make that be your joys.

Be Happy

 

 

 

 

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Connection, Daily Life, daily practice, friendship, Inspiration, Love

Love is An Action Word

There are a million quotes on Love:

Love what is

Love makes the world go round

All you need is love

You love me? Real or not real? Real.

I could go on and on and on. Love is the most talked about, written about, sang about thing in the history of all time. But I was thinking what kind of word is love?  Is it a   verb or a noun? Or even an adjective? So I look it up..it is a verb, a noun and  an adjective. How really all inclusive love is.

But Love in Action, that is what I am thinking about right now. To really recognize when I do something, I am showing Love, in action.

When I water my plants,  Love in action.

When I listen to my friend, Love in action.

When I go to my friends sons baseball game, Love in action

When I text someone to say good morning, Love in action.

When I make my home clean and comfortable, Love in action.

When I help out a co worker, Love in action.

When I pray, Love in action.

When I greet a stranger with a smile, Love in action.

When I am welcoming to my lover, Love in action.

When I support my community, Love in action.

When I step up and help a friend who cannot ask, Love in action.

When I share food, Love in action.

This list could go on and on. All of this are actions that have happened in my life in the last 4 days. All of this love in action. And this is how I want to live. To recognize all these acts of love that are not called love, but are Love.

We speak much of love. We write songs, we tell each other I love you. There are poems and sonnets. And that is all amazingly beautiful and necessary.  But let us not overlook the million simple ways that love is shown.  Because these ways are simple and part of our daily living perhaps we tend to not give them the importance and acknowledgement we should. Yes, a song is lovely and I will enjoy it. But a meal made and shared with a friend, that will live in the heart long after the note of the song has faded.

 

 

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Choice, Daily Life, daily practice, Growth, Inspiration, Religion, Spirit

Spiritual? Religious? Do We Have to Choose?

I keep hearing this comment and question.  Are you spiritual or are you religious? Like you must be one or the other.  This is a question Oprah likes to ask a lot on Super Soul Sunday of her guests.  Most of them say spiritual. But what I think is there is room for both, inside me, at the same time.

We were in a discussion in class last night regarding practice and devotion.  How do you see that differently? Is it different? And for me what came up was spiritual vs religious. I cannot separate the two, I need both.

For me spiritual is how I live my life. It is the inner work that I do. It is my personal connection to something greater than myself. It is in the decisions I make, it is in how I view myself and others. When I decide I want more love in my life and so I stay in a place of love, that is Spirit.  When I realize I am judging someone else, and stop, that is Spiritual. When I sit out in nature and listen to the call of the birds, that is Spiritual. When I read a book that moves me to tears, that is Spiritual. When I say I want peace and joy in my life and go out with the faith it is already so, that is Spiritual. So spiritual, for me, is my personal daily connection to God (or whatever your name is) and how I take that into my world.

Religion, I thought I didn’t need it. I thought I could basically wing it. I’m all about God, I’m all about Love.  And that worked for a long time. But all the humanness became mixed up in that and I didn’t have structure to help me through the happenings of my life. Yes, it is fine to sit on a hilltop and feel the Grace of God. But now, I have to go down into the world and try to live my life with grace and ease.  And I need support around that.

So I get that through my church. I go almost every week. And I go because I need the lessons that give me support during the week.  I attend the Center for Spiritual Living, which is a Religious Science church. I found this belief system works for me. We do a lot of work around the here and now. You can look it up more if you like. I am not saying it is the only way, I am saying I have found this to work for me.

So religion, why do I go?  I need the structure around me.  I am reminded each week to do my daily practices. I am inspired by the lessons I hear. I am given tools to help me maneuver through my emotions. I am reminded over and over that I am worthy, that I am loved. There are classes to help deepen my knowledge, of both myself and the Creator. There are people who are like minded that remind me why I am Spiritual.

I know I need both. I think they go hand in hand. If I am simply religious and not taking that spiritual connection into my life, I am missing the whole point.  If I am spiritual, but not including religion, I am not grounded and supported enough to sustain it.

Am I spiritual?  Am I religious? I am both.   What I am is whole. I use everything available to stay that way. I can’t separate them and I don’t need to.  Why would I?  I have the best of both worlds.

Namaste

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Daily Life, daily practice, Growth, Humanity, kindness, Love, Spirit

Kindess Matters, Always

Kindness: a simple word, almost overshadowed by the big actions.  There are so many more dramatic and noticeable things we can do.  It is almost like a childhood word, a learning word,  Be kind, play nice, be nice.  But what if it is the most important word?  It is simple, it is easy and maybe that is why we tend to not give it the respect it deserves.

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” ― Henry James

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

All of our great Spiritual leaders and teachings speak of kindness. The love of humanity and ourselves began with kindness.  We should be kind to ourselves as well as others. The world and our planet need our kindness. So where can I start?  Start small and recognize kindness in myself and others.  Soon the habit will become natural and from small acts of kindness we build into large ones.

Here are some of the ways we can be kind during our days without even trying too hard:

Hold open the door for the person behind you.

Smile at babies and children.

Let others go first at stop signs

Let someone go in front of you at grocery line when you can see they are rushed or frazzled.

Listen to their stories, even when you have heard them before. Their words are important.

Pet dogs whenever possible

Make eye contact with strangers. Smile!

Don’t turn your eyes from the homeless person, smile at them. See them.

Call your mom, call your family.

Say I love you

Give a compliment, a simple “that color looks good on you” can make someones day.

Say thank you, use your manners.

Give up your seat when you see others need it.

Be patient with older people.  The world can be fast and overwhelming to them.

Buy your co worker coffee for no reason

Remember birthdays and other special days.  Just remembering people helps them feel acknowledged.

Receive graciously. Let others feel their own kindness is appreciated.

And a million more, I could sit here all day and list kindness or I could go out and do be it.  When in doubt, let kindness be your guide.  When you are not sure of the next move, what is the kind thing to do?  How can we help our world be a better place, start with kindness.  Let this word be your important word.  Join with others and do the random acts of kindness.  I promise you, what you put out is returned immeasurably, so be kind, be loving and my friends your lives will fill with the blessings of kindness returned.

Namaste.

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challenges, Daily Life, daily practice, Growth, Honesty, Inspiration, Self

Flexing my Spiritual Muscle

It seems like there are 2 types of people around me these days.  Like minded and challenging. Sometimes (often) they are one in the same.  Human’s are complex, when I am in agreement in one area I can be polar opposite in another. It is those opposites that strengthen.

When I am in class, in church, among like minded friends I feel loved and supported.  I feel like my beliefs are solid, I can expand them.  I learn how to deepen my faith and my core beliefs.  There is no challenge, I hear thoughts and comments that support the path I am on.  And this is good for me, it is a safe place to grow.

But then I go out into the world. And that is where I get stronger.  Because the world does not necessarily agree with me.  I am constantly challenged by different belief systems.  Some of those challenges come from people who I love and respect.  This is where I step up or step out. Can I stand in my truth and not be afraid to share that?

It is pretty easy to take an anonymous stand.  It is pretty easy to say some headline news story is horrible.  We can mostly be in agreement when comes to global disasters, we can all be aghast at kidnappings, human slavery, famine.  This is when we are wonderful as humans who come together for a common good cause.

But when it comes down to individual beliefs we are different.  I was talking to a friend the other day and he was on a little rant against one of the recent police/black deaths that seem to prevalent these days.  We stand on opposite sides of this.  I didn’t want to argue, I didn’t want to have separation between us.  But I couldn’t agree and feel good within myself.  So I simply said “I have to believe that in the end Love will win”.  And there we found a common ground.

I have another friend who I love dearly.  We have common beliefs but we veer away on others.  There was a post the other day I disagreed with.  I tried all day to avoid it.  But I couldn’t let it go.  For me, if I stayed quiet, then I was complicit. I had to speak up, I tried so hard to be respectful.  I was not trying to change them. But I have to be willing to stand behind my beliefs.

And that is where I strengthen my muscles.  It is in the trenches I get stronger.  I believe in being kind.  I say it, I post it.  I’m all about kindness.  What about when it is not easy?  Can I still be kind?  When I am in line at the grocers and your baby is crying and annoying me…can I still be kind?  Can I see you are tired and simply trying to get home to feed the baby.  Can I just see the humanness and be kind?  When you cut me off in traffic can I bless you instead of flipping you off?  Can I see you as distracted or hurried rather than arrogant? When you snub me in the hallway at work, can I smile anyway?  Can I know a bigger truth about you, and not see you as rude?

Those are some simple daily actions that strengthen my muscles.  Life is the classroom.  Life is where I do the work.  Life is where I put into practice all of the beliefs that develop when supported by like minded people.  So my challenges are my greatest blessings.  They show where I have growing to do. I can meditate till the cows come home, but if I am rude to someone, feel anger, or impatience then I have more work to do. If I am afraid you won’t love me if I disagree or stand up for my beliefs, I have work to do.  And I am not going to see that in my little bubble of bliss.  I have to go out in the world and flex my muscles.

So thank you world, for making me strong. Thank you challenges for letting me see where I have work to do.  Thank you humans for showing me I truly believe my talk and am willing to walk it.  Thank you like minded people for giving me a safe place to grow.  Thank you Universal Spirit for this amazingly complex classroom we call life.

Namaste

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Choice, daily practice, Growth, Healing, Love, Relationships

Go Where the Love Is

You know how phrases get caught up in your mind.  You could call in an affirmation, a mantra, or simply something that is stuck in your head.  For a few days now this is mine….Go where the love is.  I have struggling lately trying to get my footing again in the world.  I make a few steps forward and then life comes along and blows me down a different path.  And I need some healing, some way to stay in my center.  So, go where the love is.

Love is everywhere.  It is not a person or a place.  It is that and more.  Love is a feeling of being wanted, being welcomed.  Whether walking among the redwoods or laughing with a friend, there I find love.  Love is a feeling of peace in my heart, I can find that in a sanctuary or by the water.  I can find love in a good meal, a good book, watching a little league game or while writing this. Love is a state of being, a calmness within that allows me to recognize I am supported by the Universe and that God wants only to give me my good.

And my good is love.  So why not go where the love is? Why spend any time in places or with people that do not support this?  Sometimes I am strong and I can go out there and be the love of the world.  I can take on the haters and show love anyway.  I can let their opinions and negativity roll off my back.  I am armored in love. I can lead the way.  Those are amazing times.

And there are times like now, I am more fragile, I have broken pieces.   I love this practice from Japan.  How they fill the cracks with gold and the piece becomes even more valuable.  I want to fill my cracks with love. That is how I will heal myself. fill with gold I will be richer, more valuable and have more depth in my soul.  I will let these jagged pieces smooth with love.  I will patchwork myself back together with love.  I will breathe in love  and I will breath out peace. Love is the strongest force in the Universe.  Love always wins.  Love is stronger than hate, sadness, fear, despair, anger, apathy.  So letting love heal, I will be amazingly strong.  My cracks and fissures full of the most valuable energy ever known.

So I have to go where the love is.  And that means listening to the call of my heart.  That means saying no to the people, places and things that do not love me.  In those circumstances where I know I am out of balance I have to step away.  I must close my ears when I hear things that do not support loving me.  When I feel uncomfortable or anxious I have to look at what I am doing and who I am with. I have to be willing to step away and say this does not support my healing.

That can mean letting go of people or circumstances already in my life. Although I am pretty careful about who I let in,sometimes someone comes in through a crack. Perhaps I am lonely or emotional.  Maybe I think they need me, my ego wants stroking.  It could be an outgrown job or social connection.  Old friends, who somehow have hung on.  And it  is mainly me, holding on to fears and outgrown ideas.  Hanging on to the past to avoid the future.  Clinging to today because tomorrow seems scary and unknown.

So right here and now this is my mantra, this is my daily prayer…..Go Where The Love Is.

And when that moment is done, again, Go Where The Love Is.  and again and again.  Stay where the love is. Only accept love.  Fill myself body and soul with love.  Seal those cracks with love. Be Love. Live Love. Breathe Love. Stay where there is Love. Because that is what will save me, Love will save me. Love will make me whole.  And then, armored in Love,  I can step out as warrior for Love.  So then, when you need to “go where the Love is,” I am here for you.

Namaste

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challenges, Change, daily practice, family, Growth, Relationships

It is Time to Release the Mantra

I don’t even really know where to start.  2 weeks ago my grandmother passed away and I have so many feelings about it.  They are all mixed up.  She was 94 and lived every day of her life.  Her illness was not lingering, she was not suffering.  She basically lived up until the final day.  The day before she died she sitting up in intensive care talking to me, loving me, and living life. The next day she was gone. That cannot be a bad thing.

But for me, I miss my grandma. And now I am looking at another loss.  I see this news headline and 7 children died in a fire.  How do parents survive that?  I mean, that is a tragedy.  That is a loss.  Everywhere I look I see losses that seem to me greater, more significant than mine.  I think for me, it is just adding them all up. And I feel like it is wearing me down.

My life feels so different now. Quick view:  3 years it looked like this:  I was living in my home of 20 years, I had a mom, I lived with my son and our 2 dogs, my sister lived on the next street, my sister was healthy, I was healthy, I liked my job,  I had a grandmother.

Now much of that is gone, I lost the house, my mom died, my son moved out, we had to put one dog to sleep (old age) and re home the other.  My sister and I live miles apart.  My sister had a health crisis and our relationship is changed.  The stress comes out through a variety of health issues. One of my best friends moved away. The work environment has changed and I am unhappy at my job. I tried to have a romantic relationship, that failed. I am trying to get on feet financially and help my son, it is a constant daily struggle. Now my grandmother has died. It is all adding up. I did the lifestyle stress test, I am in trouble.

And I can feel all of this in my body and I have to fix it.  I am starting to have more nocturnal anxiety attacks. My hair continues to shed, I am tired, I have gained weight.  Everything feels like a struggle and I have no emotional reserves.  I was so drained from the whole losing my mom, my home and all that went with that.  I was just starting to get it together when my sister had a big health crisis last summer.  She is my best friend, and now it has changed so much.  And now a few months later my grandmother is gone. Could all of this just please stop?

I can tell you I am trying to mitigate the stress as much as possible.  I meditate daily, I take long walks to clear my head.  I pray.  I try to spend time with friends but it seems that laughter and fun are missing these days.  Everything seem intense. I really just need to fucking relax and let it go. If you have to work at relaxing is that really relaxing?  I don’t think so. But I have to start somewhere.  When I see my son, what I say is “are you having any fun?”  Could I say that to myself?  Because apparently I am on a roller coaster ride these last few years. I guess I need to learn to love the ride.

I keep thinking of losses, I have lost this, I have lost that. That feels sad, that feels pathetic.  It is a pity party.  The truth is I have lost nothing.  I still have a mom and a grandmother.  They are not in physical form,  but I will always be a daughter and a granddaughter.  The souls we share lives with are never away from us. I know that to be true. And that goes for every being, human or not, that I have loved. Everything else is simply stuff.

I still have a home, a different home.  My relationship with my sister is different, but perhaps there can a deepening from the shared journey.  My son, he loves me, but he lives his own life. Isn’t that what i raised him for? Friends?  Well, even the ones I don’t share my time with now, I can love them and I can know they love me.  And I can welcome the new relationships into my life. Work?  I can keep in front of me the knowledge that I can only do my best, I am not in charge of how others respond.  Because at the end of the day if I have loved some, laughed a little, relaxed, been honest with myself and others, prayed, meditated, had a good meal, took a walk and breathed in nature, and laid down my head safe in my home, what more can I really ask for?  That is life, that is the good life.

So I have to accept change again.  I am doing this guided meditation with Deepak Chopra and the end he says “it is time to release the mantra”.  My mantra has been ” I have lost so much.” It is time to release that mantra.  Because it is not about loss, it never was.  It is about change, and change will always happen.  Change causes me to grow, to stretch myself, to look inside, to be honest, to be brave, to be compassionate.  Change makes me better.  And I will always ask for that, to be better.  And if change is the price, than so be it, I am willing. So no more loss, this is about growth. This is about life. And I am grateful.

And so it is.

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