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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Connection, Honesty, Inner Voice, Inspiration, Spirit, Truth

The Clues Along the Way…

Paying attention to the little things.  That instant in time when you think something might have happened but you are not sure…. did you hear something, feel something, did something grab your attention, wake up, it all means something.

This came home to me again tonight when I found the milk leaking all over inside the refrigerator. As I was cleaning it up I remembered a moment on Friday. The milk hit something, I don’t remember exactly what. I remember thinking “hmmm wonder if that cut the carton”.  But I didn’t check, I just moved on. And today I found out well yes, it did.

We get clues all the time, little clues, big clues. We have to pay attention.  Life moves fast and it is easy easy to overlook what we don’t want to see. Way easier than dealing with it. I remember dating a guy once and finding a cut straw in his kitchen. If you have been around drugs at all you know what that means. I knew what that meant, but I choose to ignore it. To believe it was meant for something else, or leftover from a previous person. Or whatever lie I told myself so I didn’t have to deal with it. But eventually the truth came out. it all blew up and I could have avoided all of that angst and drama if I had not chosen to be asleep. But the lesson in that was learned and I never forgot it. The truth is the truth, even if I turn my face from it.

People drop clues all the time to who they really are.  I do it, you do it. It is human to do it. We want to tell our story, we want someone to know us, really know us. But it is hard to be transparent, sometimes it is not safe. So we test the waters and we see who cares enough to find our truth.  And those people, those precious few people become our safe place in the world.

I need to look at myself and see how am I doing. Am I being that person, that safe place?  At this point, I get it. It is not about the fancy house or car.  It is not about the power job. It is not about the social ladder. It is not about the money in the bank or the vacation. It is about people and how we make each other feel. All the money in the world, all the trappings, cannot take the place of compassion, kindness and awareness.

My job is to be awake.  My job is to be gentle with the world. My job is listen to the answer when I ask how you are. My job is look past the smile into your eyes and see the truth. My job is to be aware of your body language. Are you shut down, are you in pain?  Do you need a hand? What are your unsaid words saying? The part you leave out may tell me more then the spoken words.  My job is to to listen past the “good morning” into the knowing of how you really feel.

I don’t have to have every detail to give a kind word, a smile or pat on the shoulder.  I don’t have to bleed with you to be compassionate with your pain.  A hug, a smile, a “I know how that feels’, a shared thought, can go so far in today’s crazy hurry up world. We are all so busy and so fragmented that we rush past each other. And I am guilty of that also. And I need to be honest. . If I have had a hard night, say it. If I am a little sad, say it. I don’t have to expand,  but I can be real about who I am. And maybe that gives you room to be honest also. Or maybe it gives you the opportunity to practice compassion, which is awesome.

And my job for myself, stay awake. Listen to what the Universe is telling me. Because that is where Truth comes from. The truth of who I am. That inner all knowing voice inside has only  my best and truest intentions and will never lead me down the wrong path. I can trust that voice.  I cannot afford to close my eyes to what is uncomfortable, scary, sad,  or challenging.  It won’t disappear because I don’t pay attention. It will come back, messier than ever.

It is time to live with my eyes and my heart open.  To gather the clues I am being shown and work with them to make a better way of life. No more stumbling through life, saying I should have known.  The truth is I did know and I did not pay attention.  Everything means something.  Most of the time it is so far removed we cannot see the connection, but it is there. So pay attention to the world. Pay attention to the signals the Universe gives.That inner knowing will warn you of pitfalls and the Universe will always guide you to Love.

Namaste

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Daily Life, family, Inspiration, Spirit, strength

My Grandma is Amazing

I am so inspired by my grandmother.  Today I watched something amazing.  A little background, my grandma will be 95 in June.  She has lived alone since my grandfather died 20 years ago.  She is tiny, shrunken down to 4’6″ now, maybe 100 pounds. She has always worked, as long as I can remember, She worked when my mom was a child.  Grandma has always held an outside job. She was never the traditional stay at home mom. Up until this last year she was still working, 3 days a week at the Senior Center. She is active in her church and her women’s group.  She has a ton of friends and more of a social life than I do.

But things have not been easy.  She is oldest of 6 siblings and they have all passed away now.  Many many of her friends have passed.  Her husband is gone, her daughter, her beloved son in law and so on. She has watched one person after another leave and she is still here. She has this amazing will.

And today I got to see it in action. Because now she is in a convalescent/rehabilitation hospital.  And she is fighting to get well enough to go home. She is not giving up.  This little tiny ball of fire will not give up.  There are medical things going on she cannot fix.  She has heart failure and water retention.  She is on oxygen.  And still she moves forward.  I watched her today on a walker go up and down the hall with her therapist. She wants to get better.  She is working hard at therapy, trying to prove she can be well enough to go home.  And if anyone can do this, grandma can. I am rooting for her.

And amazingly she is making progress.  They are working her off the oxygen, her swelling is there but better.  And her mind, oh my gosh, she is sharp. She sees everything, she knows everyone and their life stories now.  She is engaged in life, in the midst of struggle, in the midst of a place that is sad, that most people fade away in, she shines.  And I am blown away.  I have known her all my life, I should expect nothing less, but come on, she is 94. How do you find strength, energy and resolve at that point?

I asked her when she turned 89 what were her rules for a long life,  Here is what she told me.  Eat right, keep moving, be kind, but don’t take any malarkey. I love that.  I have it pinned up at my desk. I try to be kind, but I don’t take any malarkey.

So I have no room to complain.  I don’t get to say life is too hard, I don’t get to give up. I don’t get to check out, I don’t get to quit caring.  My life is easy.  I am blessed,  I bounce out of bed, jump in my truck, do a days work.  I am healthy, I can walk, I can think, I can see.  I get to go home at night. Maybe that is the biggest thing, I get to go home. So tomorrow when I am bitching about something, I am going to think of Lillian Maxine Hennigan in her walker working her way back home.  If you are a praying person send up one for my grandma. She is an amazing example of living life every minute you can.

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Change, Gratitude, Inspiration, Love, New Year, Relationships, Self, Soul, Spirit

Intentions, 2015 and Beyond

So I want to share my intentions for 2015 with you. I believe that stating this out loud to the world gives my intentions even more strength.  So this is an indulgent post, It is all about me.  But maybe something will come up for you that says I want that too.  Because you can have whatever you believe you can have.  And that is the key. The knowingness, the belief, that these things belong to you.  Whatever is yours will appear. So here are mine, for now: This or something better……..

2015 Intention 

In looking at my life I realize there are ways my life can be better, ways I can be happier and have a fuller life.  In recognizing that, I also recognize my role in manifesting these changes in my life.  I have prayed and treated around these ideas.  I am ready to acknowledge and set my intentions for 2015 and beyond.

I want a life that is full of love and community without limiting my need to recharge with time to myself.  I am a loving, caring person and I want that returned to me by those I come in contact with.  I accept nothing less than balance and equality in my relationships. I welcome friends, family and lovers into my life while still keeping my self respect.  I will no longer chase anyone or allow anyone to make me feel my life is secondary. My intention is to live lovingly, happily and fully with those who are likeminded.  Equally, my intention is to allow those I love to walk their own paths with my support, without any fear of loss of love from them.  My intention is to not cling so tightly, but to have mutually respectful and loving relationships.

My intention is to welcome financial abundance in my life.  I recognize that I have been willing to live with lack and I release the belief that this is natural in my life.  I know that the Universe has an never ending supply of whatever I need and I need money. I am now living with the intention that my finances will be multiplied in a way that will enhance my life and the lives of my community.  I see this, I believe this and I welcome this.

My intention is to  live in a healthy body.  This includes living at a healthy weight.  I no longer need to fill any lack in my life with food.  My intention is to wake each day in with a healthy mind and a healthy body.  I see myself growing healthier each day and as a result of clear minded thinking I will reach a healthy weight. I release any need to fill voids with food or drink. I accept and love my body as it is and I am willing for my body to grow healthier.  My intention is to move through my life with grace and ease no longer fighting a battle with my weight.

My intention is to welcome a loving committed relationship into my life.  My life will become enhanced by a singular love which will expand my life.  I release any fear around commitment or settling. I know the love coming into my life will only make my life better and more joyful.  I am ready for this, I no longer need to walk alone. I know a loving relationship is the next step in my growth and I welcome this.  This relationship will not take away from anything and I will not have to “give up” anything that is valuable or important in my life. I have an open honest heart and I welcome the same. My intention is to receive love and commitment in a way that multiplies my joys.  My intention is to say yes to Love.

2015 Treatment 

I know that there is one God, one Designer of the universe and of my life.  I know that God is in everything I do, every thought, every breath.  There is no part of me or my life where God is not.  And knowing this Truth, I know that my stated intentions are the word of God. I know each and every thought of mind and desire of my heart is supported by the Beloved.  And knowing this, I know my life is good.  I know my life will only grow, will only get better and is fully supported by the Universe. I am so grateful for this knowledge.  I am  grateful for light in me that works with God to co create my life.  And as I know this for myself, I know this for everyone.  Everyone is connected, everyone is loved, everyone is supported.  And feeling this deep connection I release my words, my thoughts, my desires into the Mind of God, knowing as I do, the work is already done.  And I let it be so, and so it is.

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Change, Daily Life, friendship, Gratitude, Honesty, Inspiration, Love, New Year, Self, Soul, Spirit, The Past

Living With Intention

So we have reached a new year.  However we got here, in whatever state we have arrived, we made it to 2015.  And there is a lot of energy around that.  Happens every year right?  Even for those us (me) who do not make resolutions it is hard to not see this as a fresh start.  This is the year I am going to ….. fill in the blank.  It is different for everyone. We are always reaching for something or someone to jump start us.  Looking outward instead of inward. And so each year those resolutions fade away and our real life steps up.

Resolutions work when they come from our soul.  When we can look inside and have a knowing of a need for change. I was cleaning out my computer last week.  Getting rid of old files and I came across something I wrote in 2010.  It was “My 2010 Intention”. Wow, what an interesting read.  I had forgotten all about it. And what I know is that my life has followed the path of those intentions.  Let’s take romance:

” I am ready to receive the gift of love, knowing it may be fleeting or transitional..  I do not expect or even want forever.  Forever seems way too big at this point.  But I want now, and I deserve that, and I am making room and going for it.”

That pretty much sums up the romantic adventures I have been on.  I said it out loud, I do not want forever. And yes, that is what I received.  But now, 5 years later, I can feel the shift in my soul and I do want forever. I have to set that intention.

How about how Spirit worked out?  I studied for years with a teacher who took me down paths of Shamanism,  Spiritual healings,  Mind, Body and Spirit connections. working with the Sacred Wheel.   It opened a whole new world for me and I am forever grateful for that, those lessons still serve me well.  But at some point I felt it was not my true path, and I was lost. My 2010 intention spoke about that:

“I need to find a spiritual balance in my life.  I ask for a teacher to arrive.  The student is ready.  Great Spirit, help me to keep my eyes open and see the gifts you are giving me.  I feel a shift in my body, in my mind, I am ready, show me the way. ”

And oh my gosh, did I find that.  I not only found a spiritual teacher, but a spiritual teaching that has filled me beyond  anything I expected.  It fits so very well into who I am  I walked in 5 years ago and found my place.  I know that this teaching has made my life better. Of all my intentions this grounded me the most.

I am giving a couple of examples but there was more to it.  About being more present, feeling worthy, new friendships, letting my light shine. All of this has come to pass in some way.  So it was really interesting for me to take a step back in time and then see how all of that has manifested in my life.  Some good, some challenging, but all valid and important.

Because the last 5 years have not been a piece of cake for me. I let go of so much.  From deaths, to lifestyles, to dreams, to friends, to my home, my pets.  If I looked at all this without love, without seeing the gifts, it could be very depressing.  None of that has been easy, and at times I was less than graceful about letting go. But always, even in the midst I knew that this too is God, and here lies a lesson.

And the gifts of the last 5 years.  I cannot even count the amazing people that have walked into my life.  Some fleeting, some forever, all have touched me and helped me on my path.  I am so blessed.  I have more freedom, that came from letting go.  I am confident, I no longer ever wonder if I am worthy. I am absolutely worthy. Do I let my light shine? Usually it lights up without me even trying.  Sometimes I keep it low because I need the light for myself. I have learned to take care of myself and love myself.

So I stand here at the door of a new year, looking ahead to the next 5 years and what will come my way.  I need to set some new intentions.  Because another part of rereading those the 2010 intentions is that most of them have come to fruition and I can intend for more, more of what is needed in my 2015 life.  2010 no longer fits me, I have outgrown it, how wonderful is that?

“Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world.”
Brenna Yovanoff, The Replacement

Intention works better for me than resolution. Intention is something I work with, it is fluid.  It is a combination of my mind and my actions working together to manifest what I want to create in my life. For some reason resolution feels a little limiting, not fluid.  Life is going to take many paths during the next few years  but if we can hold our intention we can see our way through everything.  The intentions we have set support the lessons sent our way.  The path is not always easy, but it is always good.

So I am going to spend the next few days looking at what I want in my life.  How do I want my life to appear? What is working? What is not working?  What blocks need to be removed?  Some things really jump out at me, but I want to give them time to ferment.  Because however I set my intentions, that is what I am going to have, at least until I have outgrown them and need to reset.

And I kind of want to stay with the 5 year plan. It is accidental that it worked out that way, but really nothing is accidental.  1 year is fast, it is hard to get a perspective from 1 year.  But 5 years, it is a little lifetime.  If I had just looked at the last year I would not really have seen the bigger picture.  How I have arrived here in this moment.

So it is a brand new baby year. And we can decide what we want.  Actually we don’t have to wait for a new year, a new week, a new anything.  We can make a change, a decision, an intention at any time. The Universe does not really care that the date changed.  But we do have a new year, and it is a good time to look back and to look forward.  I encourage you to set some intentions.  To look at your life and decide where you need to grow, what you need to bring in, what you need to let go of.  What is working for you?  What is holding you back.  Write it down, speak from your heart. No one ever has to read it, this is about you and your life.  You are the designer.

I am telling you this, if you do not state what you want and need in your life you will be living by default.  Stuff is always going to show up, make sure it is there by your desires.The universe will respond to your thoughts, whether or not they are conscious thoughts. .  Do not live unconsciously, be awake and aware.  Invite the good into your life. Make it known.  As Rumi says:

“What you seek is seeking you.”

Because the Universe will respond to your spoken and unspoken words.  Make them the words of your heart, of your soul.  Create the life you want.  This is our moment, this is our time. Don’t live by default, make your words, your thoughts and your desires known.  And live your best life.

May the next year bring you gentle lessons to take you to the life you intend to live.

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Change, Daily Life, Gratitude, Honesty, Inspiration, Relationships, Self, Spirit, The Past

Tradition and Letting Go

We are winding up the holiday season and I have been thinking on tradition lately.  What works, what doesn’t, why it so important to us, and how to let go of it.  So lately, I keep bumping up against tradition, my friends share their traditions, my family talks about ours, it seems to be very prevalent right now. And so many things have changed that I don’t even know which traditions are left. Is that good or bad?

Let’s just talk Christmas for a minute.  Traditionally my family celebrates on Christmas eve.  My family gathers, we eat and exchange gifts.  I do love that tradition (so I guess I have one), but the feel of that has changed over the years.  My family is small, we have no children, the excitement level is way calmer.  But we love each other and we want that sharing to happen.  However, all the traditional food we used to make for the dinner, gone.  This year we had Mexican food, it was wonderful.  Easy, everyone loves it and its healthy.  Is it a new tradition? Maybe….. I know we had fun, I know we laughed, I know we shared gifts and love with each other.  I know it felt good to all of us to share balance

the evening.  I think that was enough. We are evolved into a new way of coming together.  All we really want is to be together.

Everything changes with time, and traditions can either be a beautiful coming together or a expectation that no longer serves our well being.  When tradition changes to expectation or obligation, we need to make an adjustment.  As beautiful as some of traditions are sometimes holding them up is forced and feels sad to me. My holiday season is totally different than 20 years ago.  And I had expectations on how I wanted that to play out in my life. My family was supposed to be bigger, I was supposed to have grandchildren, I was supposed to have a partner, we are all supposed to share large Christmas Eve’s and Christmas day dinner. Traditional dishes, Grandma’s stuffing, my other Grandmas duck. The smells filling the house.  Much singing, cooking, laughter, all of that was supposed to happen every year.  It would be tradition.

Fast  forward to my life now.  Every year my sister and I go to this little lighted parade.  This year for some reason she did not go.  I went with other friends, had fun, enjoyed myself. At first I said to myself  “but we always go”, then I realized things change.  I can change with it and have fun, or I can be miserable.  Maybe we will get back to it and this will be the year we didn’t go. Or maybe that is just over and I can make it into something new that fits my life now. On my sisters birthday this year we baked cookies for Christmas.  That could be a nice new tradition, or maybe it was simply the perfect day, a one time thing.  I can be okay with that.  Traditions are built around time and circumstance.  Last  year a friend of mine and I spent part of New Years day walking out at the lake.  This year we plan to do the same.  Is this becoming tradition?  Maybe.  If we are still doing it in 5 years, then yes, this is our tradition. But if in 5 years one of us has moved,  circumstances have changed, whatever, that does not take away from this time. We should both be celebrating the New Year in the new way, while still remembering and honoring our times together.

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.― Gustav Mahler

So tradition is a lovely way of remembering the past, the places and people that brought us to today. And I love those feelings. The remembering keeps me connected to not only myself, but where I came from.  Honoring traditions is one way of doing that.   I want that for myself, my son, my family, my friends, my world.   But I want more.  I want to love today, just as it is.  I do not want to sit in tattered memories and worn traditions that only make me feel sad and lacking.  I want to remember my past and carry it into my future.  I want to celebrate today and make new traditions (or not) that fuel the life I live today.  I cannot live my life around outdated traditions that just don’t fit. And I don’t want that for those I love.  This is my life, not the remnants of anyone else’s.  I get to choose what I bring in.  I get to make my own traditions, and I get to let them go when the right time comes
“The human soul can always use a new tradition. Sometimes we require them.”
Yesterday, (Christmas day,) I sat on a rock for an hour listening to a guy play his guitar and sing out to the water. I was all alone, it was totally random, I can never repeat that moment, and I was absolutely at peace.  I felt connected to Spirit, to all those who have passed.  I felt such love for my people and my world. I was whole, perfect and complete in that moment.  I could have been elsewhere, (upholding tradition)  I was invited places, but followed my desires and found a perfect moment.  My wish is that others had that moment in their own ways.
So don’t do anything that feels forced.  Don’t say :well I have to, we have always done it this way”. No you don’t have to.  You get to choose what works for you now, without guilt. If someone says “well we have always done it this way,it is tradition” ask yourself this:
Does it feel good?
Does it feel right?
Do I want this?
Does this have meaning for me?
If you are not answering yes, then maybe it is time to rethink the act.
This is your life, live it.  Take the traditions that work for you and celebrate the hell out of them. Honor old traditions as it feels right for you, and make new traditions. But be ready to shift when life calls you elsewhere.  Life is going to change, be ready. Embrace it. don’t sit sad and alone because things are different.  Get out there and live.  We are the past, the present and the future in one breath.  We are one with the whole, and that includes time. But here in our humanness we have today.  And it is ours, so make it your own, dance your dance, sing your song and live with joy.  May all the traditions you choose to keep bring you joy, peace and a sense of rightness within your world.
Namaste
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