Cracks

One of my favorite ceramic coffee cups has a crack in it. It’s visibly stained with coffee which sticks out on the white surface. My parents have tried to dispose of my cup on more than one occasion. They point out the crack, like it’s no longer useful, as if it’s purpose has come to an end. Each time I tell them to leave it alone and to place it back in the cabinet. Although the cup has changed, it does not mean it no longer serves a purpose.

In 2017, I found myself amidst major life changes. My marriage of 15 years was coming to an end. I was preparing to enter a period of transition. Moving myself from a wife and mother, to a single working mother of two. I had brought these changes upon myself. I accepted my path and moved forward.

Throughout that time, I kept thinking back to a book I had read, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser. One thing that stuck with me was the idea that some times we have to fall apart in order to put our pieces back together. When we rebuild ourselves, we aren’t the same, our cracks are growth, not permanent damage. Although I had essentially broken my life into pieces, I was giving myself the opportunity to rebuild in a new way. (A process that I am still working on in 2019.)

My ceramic coffee cup still holds coffee despite its crack. It has become a reminder of my journey. A reminder that my cracks are actually a part of my growth. I gave myself permission to break. I learned that my cracks were beautiful. I know I still serve a purpose.

Personal Does Not Equate Selfish

Throughout my life I have been a supporter of self-care. I personally believe that in order to be of service to others, we must first be of service to ourselves. Healthy soil is needed to produce healthy crops, the same goes for us.

I frequently hear the tones of jealousy when I am headed to the beach or to see my massage therapist. The same thing occurs when I discuss my annual yoga trip to Mexico (@yoginirixie). Rarely does someone connect with my self care, which leads me to believe that they do not have a practice in place for themselves.

Unfortunately, self-care comes across as being selfish. I choose to see it as a boundary I set for myself. Yes there are more important things in life than my mani-pedi, but I have personally chosen to set aside time every three weeks to visit the spa. I do yoga a couple of times a week, I workout every morning, and I make arrangements to visit the beach at least once a week. I do all these things for my own personal well-being, so I can be the best version of me for the other people in my life.

The more I take on in life, the more self care is needed. Just like a car, a standard oil change is every 5K miles, it may take 6 months or 2 months to reach that. It all depends on how far the car is being driven each month.

Women, mothers in particular, tend to lack self-care. Especially when they are tasked with caring for family members. There is a false idea that there is no time for “selfish en devours”, but in reality these are the times when self-care is needed the most. I know my 19 year old self did not need monthly acupuncture sessions like I do now. I have much more on my plate these days. I gift myself with health and personal care on a regular basis.

Bottom line, take care of yourself, love yourself, and respect yourself.

 

 

Sit With It

Along my spiritual path one of the best pieces of advice I ever received was in a class at Unity of Fairfax. I believe it was a study on metaphysics, ideas involving human existence. I clearly remember another participant feeling strongly about a concept. Once she was able to verbalize her understanding, our facilitator told her to, “Stop talking and sit with it.”

At the time, I did not know how important that instruction would become in my life. That same instructor said those exact words to me many times in the years to follow. Although I have not seen her in years, her words still ring through my ears.

I have been analyzing the idea of working through life’s challenges. So much of what we are taught is contradicting. Don’t dwell, move one. It’s in the past, remember where you came from. Let it go, hang on. I use to find of all it confusing and exhausting. Then I discovered that these contradictions led to a balance in my life. The act of working through the past to create a healthier future brought me back to the present moment.

When something negative happens, it is tempting to ignore the frustration and pain, but I now know it is not helpful. When I dwell on the past, I start to create a future based on those false truths. My mind bounces back and forth between the past and the future. I completely overlook the present moment. I lose my energy and myself to moments and thoughts that are not truly there.

My current process to cope with unpleasant feeling is to sit with them. This does not mean to dwell, it means to allow them to have an affect. Feel the feelings rather than avoid them. It is unpleasant, but necessary for my spiritual development. This can take minutes, days, or even weeks. I know I am ready to move on when the feelings no longer arise. Not that I forget, that I have allowed my feelings to become memories rather than full on emotions. I am able to accept my past, so that I can envision a future based in truth rather than creating once out of pain and fear.

However a person chooses to deal with life’s unpleasantness, they need to face it in their own way. Dwelling in the past or creating an unrealistic future takes energy from a person and the present moment. I have discovered a profound balance in this process. This journey has led me back to the present moment, which is all there is.

 

Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go. ~Unknown

 

Season’s Expectations

My maternal grandmother passed away a couple of months ago. She was ill physically, mentally and spiritually. I was not upset when she made her transition. In fact, I was happy that she was able to find the peace she never had while on earth.

Throughout my life my grandmother equated money with love. She would be sure to send the most cash for gifts. I was only eight or nine years old when she gave me $500 for my birthday.

As I grew older my grandmother’s financial means dwindled. The last years of her life she relied on her miniscule social security each month. Every holiday and birthday she would say, “I am sending a check, I wish it were more.”

My general reply was, “We do not expect anything, it is not necessary, but thank you.”

At the time, I honestly meant what I was saying. Until a few days ago, I did not realize that despite my words, I was expecting a check in the mail.

While thinking about the holidays, I realized that I would not be receiving a holiday card with a check in it from my grandmother this year. It was not the money I was thinking about; it was the fact that for as long as I could remember my grandmother would send a gift. It became an expectation, a part of my life. With her passing, this act passed away as well.

I found the lack of my grandmother’s monetary gesture saddening. Until that moment I had not truly missed her from my life. I have heard people say that the holidays are hard after the passing of a loved one. I think it has to do with our expectations and traditions at this time of year.

Every year I order my father fruit cake from Swiss Colony, my mother puts up the tree, and I put a wrapping bow on my dog’s head. One day, these simple acts will pass away. I do not think it occurs to us that traditions and expectations change as our lives change. That is one reason the holidays can be challenging.

In honor of the expectation I once associated with my grandmother, I will create a new tradition. The opportunity has not presented itself yet, but I will be on the look out. It will be about creating a new expectation for someone. An act that someone will look forward to year after year, even if they do not recognize it until I have made my transition as well.

Married, But Spiritually Single

When I was younger, I assumed that I would meet someone with similar spiritual interests. In my mind’s eye we would attend conferences together, read the same books and grow spiritually as a couple. Thirteen years ago I married my husband; our spiritual paths appear to compliment each other, but rarely do they coincide.

My husband is actually educated in a number of religious beliefs and practices. We share an attraction to Buddhism, although I have yet to see him meditate. Over the years we have shared in a couple of events, such as our children’s baptism and hearing His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak. Overall my spiritual endeavors have been in solitude.

I certainly appreciate my husband’s support of my spiritual path. I am fortunate that he understands my spiritual needs and quests. As long as our needs are being met, he is at ease.

Still there are times, particularly when I travel, that I wish he were there. Of course, I notice the other couples in attendance and I think it would be nice to share the experience with my husband. I know that we are together for a reason and I accept that our spiritual paths are very different. Without this acceptance I would not have experienced the other opportunities that have come my way.

At a recent training conference, I met another woman in a similar situation. We instantly formed a bond and spent the week together. If my husband or her husband had been in attendance, that opportunity would not have presented itself in the same manner. I am grateful to have had the experience of making a new friend.

With my husband’s support and understanding I have been able to meditate in the Great Pyramid, visit New Grange, travel to Iceland and each year I enjoy a yoga retreat in Mexico. Along the way I have gathered invaluable experiences and made unforgettable connections. I have been able to add to my holistic practice and I am going to embark on a year long transformational experience with the Tarsia Center starting next month.

These experiences have led me to believe that spiritual preferences and endeavors do not have to be experienced by both sides of a couple. At times those paths may cross, but as long as there is support within the relationship things will work out. I cherish the time I spend working on my spiritual growth apart from my husband. I also look forward to the times and adventures I share with him when we are together. Being spiritually single as helped me grow on my spiritual path and I am thankful for the experience.

 

Fear: Building My Career

When it came to aptitude tests, I was always well rounded. My scores never provided definitive answers to a college major or career. Basically I would be good at anything I tried. That would have been excellent, but I am 35 and still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

Generally, I have excelled at my work endeavors, but I have yet to find one I truly loved. The closest I came was working in a full service Marriott; at the time it was great and I enjoyed the work tremendously. Now I have two young children and working in an industry which never closes is far less appealing. Regardless of my job placement, I have always felt that I was in the right place at the right time.

Earlier this year I decided to create my dream job. I created a mission statement and vision statement, I even created a space for my new career. All I needed was a dream and I would be ready to embark on my new adventure.

In the twenty plus years since those aptitude tests I was no closer to a dream job. I could tell you what I didn’t want, and I knew I wanted to make own schedule while helping others on their spiritual paths. I was also fearful to lose any income while embarking on my new endeavor. 

Feeling a bit lost, I turned to speaker and author Jon Acuff for guidance on building the career I wanted. Through personal experiences and humor, Acuff helped me to understand myself better. For the first time in my life I had some sense of direction. Right now I am in the phase of not quitting my day job, so I can build my dream job. I  have found this step to be very important because it practically illuminates the fear I have about creating my own career. 

Today I feel as though I received an unlabeled box from Ikea. I have all the pieces and tools, but the instructions are vague and I don’t know what the final product will be. I can’t tell where my heart lies; am I to build a chair or shelving unit? The one underlying theme throughout all my career research goes back to the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it they will come.”

I need to stop worrying about the outcome and start building my dream to see where it takes me. I know that if my spirit, mind, and body are in the right place then my dream will unfold. I also know that in time my dream will change and that will be okay too. Today is the day I punch fear in face and get on with my life.

The Meditation Process: Formative Years

I am often asked about how to teach children to meditate. Most parents do not like my first question, “How often do your children see you meditate?”

Personally, I feel that so much of what people are taught about spirituality is external. It is easy to forget that we are spiritual beings having physical experiences. Life is not the other way around. With this in mind, I find it simpler to teach a child to meditate than an adult. Let us not forget what Yoda said about Luke before agreeing to train him, “He is too old.” (Star Wars reference, just in case you missed it.)

I first began to observe the silence when I was about 3 or 4 years old. My father would tell me to be still, generally I would try. By the time I was 8, my mother began to teach me about meditation. She bought a children’s meditation cassette tape with a dolphin on the case. Sometimes it was a struggle, but eventually meditation became like second nature to me.

In addition to the cues from my parents, as a child I was still young enough to feel a strong connection to God. Therefor it was not too difficult to find my way back to inner-peace and stillness. Most individuals forget this awareness as they grow older. I was also able to draw on a number of past lives when I had mastered meditation. Even if you are the parent of a soul new to meditation, you can still teach them this invaluable skill.

  1. Meditate While Pregnant: I recommend that a mother meditate as often as she can throughout her pregnancy. There will never be another time when you are that physically close to your child. Take advantage of that opportunity. Your baby will notice the shift in your body and become accustomed to the energy of meditating.
  2. Keep It Up: As a parent of 2, I understand how chaotic it can be once a newborn baby arrives. Continue to meditate with your infant. I found feedings a good time to meditate while holding my daughter.
  3. The Terrible Two’s/Three’s/Four’s/Etc.: These are the “baby step” years. Encourage your child to sit still for a few moments; seconds at first and then increase as they grow older. Do not ask them to think about anything, just have them still their body. (I do not recommend using time-out as a punishment because it can create a negative attitude towards sitting still, but do what is best for your child.) Also use this time to talk to your child about their dreams. Meditation and dreams go hand in hand.
  4. They’re Finally in School: Go easy on yourself, if your kid is not meditating on clouds by now, you are still doing great! Keep up the dream work, this does include daydreams. Find other sources for your child to learn about meditation. Perhaps at church or through yoga. During this time, I waited for my daughter to approach me about meditation. I explained my thoughts about it to her and I listened to how she understood the process. Occasionally she will join me in meditation.
  5. Lead by Example: Children mimic behavior. If your child does not see you meditating, then how is she suppose to know that meditation is important? (I will write about keeping up spiritual practices with a growing family in another blog.) Take the time to meditate. My children know my meditation chair and understand that I appreciate their quietness while I am in it.

Once your child has taken an interest in mediation, allow her to create her own spiritual practice. Meditation is about recognizing your connection to an infinite source. It is not about meditation chairs, mudras, incense or music. Observe and listen to your child about their needs. Encourage their development and accept that it will probably be different from your own. These steps will give your child the tools to grow up appreciating the benefits of meditation.

Acceptance: It Is That Simple

Being a product of co-dependency can create some interesting relationships in a person’s life. I am speaking from personal experience of course. While pondering a decision I made regarding boundaries, I asked myself if I was lacking compassion or protecting myself?

My inner voice began to rationalize my actions based on past events. As I was working through the details another voice came through. This is the voice I know as my Higher Self, the direct personification of a higher consciousness. The voice said, “Accept the truth, not the personality. Accept that person as a child of God. It is that simple.”

Apparently I was over complicating the situation. I was relying on falsehoods, not truth. The decision to not accept a person’s negativity was sound, but the idea not to accept the person was incorrect. I had not thought of the person as a direct reflection of God. I was caught up in the worldly emotions of the relationship.

Any healing process involves acceptance and forgiveness. This is not to condone or excuse anyone’s actions. The recognition that each person is a reflection of God is a way to heal. I am able to accept a child of God much more easily than the personality a soul projects. (Myself included.)

I am never given more than I can handle. Each difficult person is a lesson in acceptance. I will need to remember that I do not have to accept their falsehoods, only their true selves. I need to allow myself to see them as a child of God. And accept that they are a reflection of a higher power.