Friday, December 31, 2010

A Christian Journey: Part 6

I wanted to share with all of you a new and exciting spiritual development in my life--I have found a church where I can finally "belong". I thought I'd share it with you over Christmas in several short posts instead of one big long one. I can't wait to hear what you think. I'm hoping you'll be excited for me, and perhaps encouraged about finding spiritual community for yourself, if you've not found somewhere yet. 

Part 6 of 6:

(...continued from Part 5)

One belief in particular will cause many (mostly my family members, but that's okay) concern, but I love this belief: 

Invitation to Intimate Commitment: The experiences and insights of laypersons are nowhere more needed than in the area of intimate human relationships. We believe that the gift of sexual union is a source and celebration of love for couples, which allows for the special and safe sharing of intimacy. We consider it a danger to marriage and other intimate relationships to be denied sexual sharing. This has significant implications for Catholic practice, particularly as it applies to divorce and remarriage.

I am not sure of all of the implications of this, but I know that one thing it implies is that sexual unions between people are holy, and are to be respected. Another type of holy sexual union (and more) is marriage. These are two different things, both to be honored, both very holy. I have acted upon this belief, which I have held for others and even for myself at times, while “officially” believing something else. But deep down in my heart, I believe this. 

I know that there is something very, very holy about sex. It is the act itself that is so holy, and so abused in our culture. But not by all--some people do honor and respect their union--and oftentimes before marriage have sexual intercourse or even live together and share their lives in a way that eventually leads to marriage. I believe that this is much more sincere than serial marriage. Or the game that many Christian couples play of engaging in sex while purporting not to, feeling guilty, thinking that no one knows, and doing it all over again. Everyone knows and we all pretend not to. At least in the Christian cultures I’ve been in, this is what we do. 

So I've been going to this little church for the last few weeks. There is a male priest and a female priest and a very small congregation. It was intimate and lovely and very welcoming. I got to receive communion. I participated in the service. I felt good about being a Christian for the first time in a long time.

I feel like I've found a spiritual home, at last.  

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christian Journey: Part 5

I wanted to share with all of you a new and exciting spiritual development in my life--I have found a church where I can finally "belong". I thought I'd share it with you over Christmas in several short posts instead of one big long one. I can't wait to hear what you think. I'm hoping you'll be excited for me, and perhaps encouraged about finding spiritual community for yourself, if you've not found somewhere yet. 

Part 5 of 6:

(...continued from Part 4)

So that means that I also believe in an open communion table. This means that I believe that all Christians should be able to come and receive communion, whether or not they belong to the particular church. This is quite controversial in some faiths. 
I don’t belief in original sin. I believe that people are just born. Not born good or bad, just born. I learned this from my wise nephew. So that means all kind of unorthodox spiritual things to some people. It leads many to call me “not a Christian”, which is okay, I suppose. There is nothing much I can do about that. I know that many people don’t believe in original sin and don’t let it bother them if their church believes in it and derives its theology from it. This is too hard for me to do, and it leads to many other beliefs I cannot accept. 
I have a love for liturgy and for mystery, and I love communion especially. I sound like a Roman Catholic; however, I object strongly to aspects of the Catholic Church, like papal infallability, strong demarcations between religious orders and laity, and annulments. I also object to women not being allowed to be priests, to the taboo on most methods of contraception, and many other things. So I wouldn’t make a very good conventional Roman Catholic. 

However, recently I came across some information about a "renegade" Catholic denomination called the Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC), which they say is  “an alternate way to celebrate your Catholic faith”. I know that the term "renegade" is pejorative, but to me in this case, being renegade is delightful. The ECC is gay-welcoming. It does not accept the authority of the pope, but of a local bishop. It allows congregations to choose priests, not be assigned them, and the priests work with the people together in the congregation.  And the priest can be a woman, too, married or single, gay or lesbian. It does not require annulments for divorce and remarriage, although it grieves the breakup of any marriage. It allows contraception to be decided privately by the couple involved. It is concerned with justice issues. It has an open table for communion.
It accepts the orthodox Catholic creeds, and the orthodox Catholic faith, even if not the ways the faith is lived out today. 

I'm guessing you can tell how much I like this church :)

(To be continued...)

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Christian Journey: Part 4

I wanted to share with all of you a new and exciting spiritual development in my life--I have found a church where I can finally "belong". I thought I'd share it with you over Christmas in several short posts instead of one big long one. I can't wait to hear what you think. I'm hoping you'll be excited for me, and perhaps encouraged about finding spiritual community for yourself, if you've not found somewhere yet. 

Part 4 of 6:

(...continued from Part 3)

LoveHubbie and I have always tried to attend church together, no matter how hard it was for one of us to compromise with the other. But recently, events have changed so that I’ve decided to venture out on my own. My first criterion in a church, the most important one, other than that it is Christian, is that it is gay-welcoming. Not gay-accepting, but gay-welcoming. I want a church that is really excited about having gay people there. And having other people there who are also marginalized in our culture. A church where all are welcome. But especially gays. Because when a group welcomes gay people, they tend to have a lot of other values that are the same as mine. 
Jesus welcomed everyone. He wanted everybody there. He did criticize the Pharisees--the righteously religious people of his time, and didn’t seem to like them too much. But I’ll bet if they had dropped their self-righteous stance he would have liked them too. He was attacked up one side and down the other for hanging out with tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, women, the poor, the downtrodden, and others...and he himself was homeless. 

I have many, many reasons for believing this, but overall, I figure that it’s good to be like Jesus and just accept everybody. It’s what feels right to me. Some faiths are exclusive but Christianity wasn’t one of them. 

(To be continued...)

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Christian Journey: Part 3

I wanted to share with all of you a new and exciting spiritual development in my life--I have found a church where I can finally "belong". I thought I'd share it with you over Christmas in several short posts instead of one big long one. I can't wait to hear what you think. I'm hoping you'll be excited for me, and perhaps encouraged about finding spiritual community for yourself, if you've not found somewhere yet. 

Part 3 of 6:

(...continued from Part 2)

Now that I have thought about this for a few months, I realize why. I’d have to change myself too much to be accepted and approved of, and I just can’t do that anymore. I am who I am and I believe what I believe. And I just don't enjoy being around people who don’t think I’m a good or decent person or who don't think that my opinions or beliefs are valid. I don’t want to waste my time or theirs. 

It has taken me a long time to give myself permission to accept what I truly believed deep in my heart. The Bible can be interpreted in so many ways. For me it's important to take the Bible as a whole, then select the interpretation that seems to us to resonates most with who Jesus was and who God and the Holy Spirit are. It is always a gamble as to which interpretation is correct, but we gamble with our lives then, don’t we--all of us--and with our eternal salvation too. I know I’m gambling, but so is each and every person, when they choose what they believe. So this year I allowed myself to figure out and then accept  what I really believed in--first--and then tried to find a church that was enough like that set of beliefs that I might find some community there. 

(To be continued...)

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to Everyone!

I wish each and every one of you a lovely holiday and a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christian Journey: Part 2

I wanted to share with all of you a new and exciting spiritual development in my life--I have found a church where I can finally "belong". I thought I'd share it with you over Christmas in several short posts instead of one big long one. I'll be traveling unplugged (as in without my computer--yippee!) for part of the holidays, so I'll be auto-posting and responding to your comments later when I return. I can't wait to hear what you think. I'm hoping you'll be excited for me, and perhaps encouraged about finding spiritual community for yourself, if you've not found somewhere yet. 

Part 2 of 6:

(...continued from Part 1)

Then I went to Maui in March. I heard a sermon on the beach. I remembered something...I knew deep down inside that I did want Christ, even if I didn’t want to belong to the group called “Christians”. So I rededicated my life to Jesus and enjoyed the very loving church in Lahaina. That was great. But then I had to leave Lahaina eventually, since my vacation ended. I found a nice church here at home, had a hard time adjusting to it, and joined a Life Group (a subset of the main church--small group of up to 15 people in which everyone can get to be more like community to each other than in a huge church). I kept trying to fit in. 
Eventually I had that extreme withdrawal reaction I get in many different social situations. I just could not force myself to go to Life Group, and eventually, to church. I didn’t want to go at all, even though I longed for spiritual community. I really wanted to fit in, but I could not. I wanted to belong. To me, “fitting in” is when you twist and contort yourself to meld with a group. Belonging is when you discover a tribe that thinks like you and values what you value. I couldn’t "belong" to this Life Group, as nice as they are, and as much as a part of me wanted to. 

(To be continued...)

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christian Journey: Part 1

I wanted to share with all of you a new and exciting spiritual development in my life--I have found a church where I can finally "belong". I thought I'd share it with you over Christmas in several short posts instead of one big long one. I'll be traveling unplugged (as in without my computer--yippee!) for part of the holidays, so I'll be auto-posting and responding to your comments later when I return. I can't wait to hear what you think. I'm hoping you'll be excited for me, and perhaps encouraged about finding spiritual community for yourself, if you've not found somewhere yet. 

Part 1 of 6:

For a long time, I’d wanted to return to Christianity, but the attitude of many Christians stopped me. I knew that I had done a lot of personal work since I’d been away from any formal Christian group (about five years), including discovering a peaceful lifestyle and beliefs, and coming to cherish the values of kindness, tolerance, and love. I had no desire to affiliate with anyone who promoted hatred in any way. 
Most people I’m related to one way or another are Christians of various types. There are nominal Catholics, Pentecostals, mainline Christians, non-denominational Christians, etc. Not all of them, but to be honest, quite a few of them, are some of the most backward-thinking, emotionally repressed, uneducated (no matter how many years of formal education they have), bigoted, and just plain nasty people I know. I would never want to be lumped in with them. I would never want someone I cared about to assume things about me that were inaccurate, and especially things that were hateful, simply because they discovered I was a Christian. 
I don’t think that these family-type folks are accurate representations of Christ or of Christianity in it’s normal form. I think that our American culture distorts many things, plus lots of hurting people find Jesus (yay!) but never grow up (boo!), and in addition my family is also unusually dysfunctional. I think these people are caricatures of Christianity that have been twisted and tweaked and I’m not quite sure who or what they are. But you know that you have met people like this, right? Haters. And then they say they are Christians and you just know you never want to be that. 

I definitely never wanted to be that. 

(To be continued...)

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Saturday, December 18, 2010

To Companies That Trust, To Companies That Care--Scottevest!

I rarely if ever return anything, thinking that I can either find some use for it or donate it. I also rarely buy anything that doesn't work or that has anything wrong with it. This year I bought two nice things ($65-$100) that were defective. The way the companies each handled it were so different.

The first thing that I bought was from Scottevest. It was two of their travel vests for $200 total. We took these to Brazil with us to carry our valuables on our person because of the high crime in Brazil. They were great! Mine was fine, but LoveHubbie's ripped out the ID pocket on the first day. I "knew" that everything would be okay because I trusted Scottevest, a company I found out about from word of mouth (from Patti Digh). I follow the founder of Scottevest's--Scott Jordan--YouTube videos and know that he cares about his company. No worries.

As soon as I arrived home from Brazil, I called Scottevest. I got a cheerful customer service person immediately who told me she'd send a new one out right away, along with an envelope for the defective vest so that I could send it back. No worries. Easy-peasy. A couple of days later, the new vest was here, the old dirty one went out (so that they could see how it failed). They trusted me, and now they have a customer for life. For life.

I will gladly pay for a product that is backed up and handled this way.

I never told Scottevest how happy I was with them. So this is to remedy my oversight. I am thrilled with you, Scottevest, and with how you stand behind your excellent products. I will buy from you for the rest of my life, and recommend you to everyone I know!

Then I had a customer service nightmare. I bought a hyped-up product from a company that is US-owned, higher priced, and touted in professional videos and with claims of artisan-level workmanship. The owner is a young entrepreneur who uses social media to distribute their products. His company is very successful--like Scottevest. Trendy. Very well-respected. It is a very, very cool product also endorsed by celebrities, but intellectual, socially-aware celebrities. I ordered their product for $65 to go with a Christmas present I was taking on an upcoming trip. The product was defective, grossly so. It was like something made overseas, of inferior workmanship right out of the box. No worries, I thought.

First bad sign: no phone number to call. This is a bad sign, people. Email only. I looked everywhere. Searched the web. Nothing. So I emailed them. A really long email describing the problem in great detail. After a bit they responded, writing me that I needed to send pictures to back up what I had written. They didn't seem to have read the email, or else were ignoring key parts of it. It seemed to be a template response. They needed pictures, although the problem didn't lend itself well to that.

I didn't have a camera available at the time, so I made a video. After a while, when there was no response, I made the YouTube video public. After several days I emailed them again, since it was getting closer to the trip. They said that they would refer the whole issue to what sounded like a committee who would evaluate it to decide if I should get a replacement, and if so, what I should pay. I send back an angry (but nice) email telling them that I was tired of jumping through hoops and that they should stand behind their product; they had my money and I had no usable product.

This email was not answered. I tried again. And again. Eventually the customer service person emailed me and said that a replacement was being sent out. But she ignored the other emails I'd sent. At least I'm getting a replacement, I thought. I waited for ten days. I emailed again. No response.

I then became more aggressive and tweeted about my "customer service nightmare". I was fortunate in that the company owner is also their main twitterer. In our correspondence,  he first blamed UPS. I asked him to read the ticket trail of many, many interactions so that he could see what had transpired. He told me he wanted to call me.

We talked, and he was concerned that I was a "disgruntled customer", but he was also full of excuses as to why I still didn't have a working product. He blamed the holiday season, my high expectations in ordering the first such product they'd made in "pink", communication problems, their company growth, etc. He ended up sending me a working product overnight in the pink color I'd ordered. I was satisfied, but the problem was that I'd worked way, way harder than he did in earning my product satisfaction.

I will never buy from this company again, and I will encourage everyone I know not to.

I wanted to encourage everyone to value those companies who are truly outstanding and who make a difference in our lives. Not every company is like that. Today, thank a company that delivers what they say they will...we all need to appreciate those companies who work hard to be excellent...and to care about their customers.

Is there a company that has made a difference in your life?

Divine Mercy

"There is probably no other way to understand God's nature except to daily stand under the waterfall of divine mercy and then become conduits of the same flow." ~Richard Rohr

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark taken in Kauai

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How I Really Lost the Weight

Based on the comments on my post from yesterday, I wanted to clarify a few things about my weight loss.

I do highly recommend Marianne Williamson's new book--A Course in Weight Loss--if you are metaphysically oriented. Otherwise you will not enjoy the book. I was talking to LoveHubbie about it and he thought things like "being in your body" were "mumbo jumbo..." "Where else would I be?", he wondered, and could not understand it no matter how I tried to explain it. It is a very metaphysical book from the perspective of the "A Course in Miracles" (ACIM) study path and is excellent. If you like ACIM, you'll like the book. For me, though, the book alone would have not been sufficient. I own most of the best weight loss books that exist--I'm convinced of that.

My very favorite book is "Transformational Weight Loss" by Charles Eisenstein.  See some of my TWL posts from two years ago here. Here is another book by Charles Eisenstein called "The Yoga of Eating". These are great. I had lots of insights and changed for a short time. But the net result of a "bibliotherapy alone" approach for me was no substantial change.

For me, it took more than just books.

I knew I needed support as well. I had a diet buddy--Kat--and four people who followed me and offered support on my private diet blog. I had to be accountable to post my weight every day. And blog about my progress or lack of progress. And some of my feelings, too, which was as important. Was I dealing with my feelings by eating? I knew I couldn't cheat and not have to discuss it the next day. Which I did--cheat and then discuss it. But there were people coming along with me.

In addition, the people at the chiropractor's office, including my chiropractor and his receptionist were doing the diet along with me, so I would phone my weight into them weekly as well. This was support for me.

Plus I did the new form of tapping that I am studying intensively called "faster EFT". At first I did it very little and had enormous resistance to using it. Now it is a spiritual practice for me. This has been a great side effect of the diet. It is a life skill and spiritual practice that I want to be permanent as it is a great emotional management tool and spiritual centering tool.

Using fasterEFT, I would tap for cravings. And tap late at night when I usually eat. And tap for troubling emotions during the day. So I was dealing with my feelings instead of avoiding them.

Lastly, the homeopathic drops. I needed physiological help. Most of you who are readers of my blog know that I am ardently anti-diet. At the same time, my metabolism was messed up. Plus I was hypoglycemic and couldn't eat any less than I was already eating. I was hungry most of the time anyway, and would often get hypoglycemic and sick when I would try to wait to eat. I was eating very cleanly, low glycemic, sugar-free and as little as I could anyway---that was my eating style. Still, I felt tired and starving and was filled with cravings at 220 pounds! So I needed some type of "metabolic reset", and for me, for some unknown reason, the homeopathic hcg drops worked. At least today, on the second day of maintenance, my metabolism feels healthy, I don't feel tormented by cravings, I am not obsessed by trying to hold myself back from food, and I feel good. I have felt good for weeks.

People say, "It's easy to lose weight; it's keeping it off that's hard." Well, for me, losing weight has been hard my whole life.

I have tried many other diets over the years out of desperation and couldn't lose weight on them even when I was much younger and thinner. When Nutri-System first came out I was in college and tried them for a month. They ended up refunding my money because I didn't lose weight! At that time, I was playing women's ice hockey and only eating their food at a price I couldn't afford. And they had a nurse who monitored you to make sure you stayed in ketosis. I still couldn't lose weight. So this has been a lifelong problem.

I cannot imagine being successful without this multi-pronged approach. Each part was essential. All of them worked together and any one alone would have been very nice and interesting and helpful but not sufficient. 

Some more helpful components:

  • The strict protocol on the hcg diet, and my following it for the most part, even on Thanksgiving.
  • The example of LoveHubbie who is diabetic and my friend Akoni who is dying of diabetes--I saw my future, since I am pre-diabetic.
  • Getting caught in the bus turnstile in Brazil. And barely fitting in the plane seats. Knowing I was almost "too fat to fly". 
  • Not fitting into my 2X (size 20W-22W) clothes...not being willing to special order 3X clothes. 

For me (since I have so much more weight to lose--I weigh 193 but I fit into blue jeans!) this is just the start of a journey. I am doing what feels like "repatterning" (a Marianne Williamson word)--changing how I do many of the things in my life one step at a time. The challenge before me is maintaining my new weight or pretty close to it at a much higher calorie level, through the holidays and a vacation--and then later in the spring tackling the next round of the homeopathic hcg diet.

~Photo by Roderick Lee Dail 30 years ago

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wellness Wednesday: I Lost Some Weight

Well, I'm very happy to report that I have finished the diet I've been on since November 1st--the homeopathic hcg diet--which is actually more of a semi-fast and a detox than a diet. I lost 27.4 pounds in 44 days, so I'm very happy with my results. I also felt terrific once I got used to it. I've gone down several sizes and feel energetic and happy.

I used the semi-fasting and the detox as a time to work really hard on various emotional issues that have affected my being overweight. I did this by journaling, reading (including Marianne Williamson's "A Course in Weight Loss"), and especially by "tapping" using fasterEFT, a type of emotional acupressure that is a combination of regular EFT, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnosis.

If anyone is interested in finding out more, I do have a private blog that you are welcome to read if I know you, i.e., if you are one of my regular blog readers. There's not much about the diet itself on there as far as instructions and such, just extreme detail about me and my daily eating and feelings, following the diet, and various personal issues. I blogged every day I was on the diet and will continue to blog about maintenance, just not daily. Email me or comment if you're interested.

I'll now be on a maintenance plan that I've customized to fit my needs (basically a whole foods healthy lower glycemic diet) for several months. Then in the spring (probably March) I'll go on it for a second round. I won't lose as much, but since I'm still quite overweight it will make a difference. I'm hoping to be able to maintain the weight loss until then; it will be a learning process, I'm sure.

Now that I'm not blogging on my diet blog as often I hope to be more available to blog here, so you'll be seeing me around a bit more!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Delving into "The Space Below"

This is a YouTube video that I made in response to a creative challenge from Kate's ning community called  "The Queen of Creativity Castle". It is a response to this poem:

the space below

 there was a whole world inside of her filled with stars and caves and  demons and gold. she tinkered and played in that world - but it was
in the space below - in the depths of deep - that the real stuff was.
and it was there she needed to go. 

~terri st. cloud

The video is 9 minutes long.  It was somewhat challenging to make, and from now on I plan to break it up into shorter portions. I also plan to stop saying "umm!", sorry for the annoyance. I had to redo it 3X because YouTube has increased their video quality so much since the last time I did a video that you could read every word I wrote in my journal. Thus huge portions were cut out, and the editing is a bit crude. Still, I wanted to share this with everyone, and I hope you like it anyway!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For Book Lovers

Does this blow your circuits like it does mine? Almost hard to believe. I looked around the room at all of my books and wondered what life would be like in a bookless house. Or alternatively, with just a little bookshelf. It was hard to envision. Life is changing.

I have a Kindle (I got a new Kindle 3 for Christmas and LoveHubbie got my old Kindle 1) and I really enjoy digital books. I still enjoy hardcopy books too though; I just read more. Yet this is a step beyond.

What do you think?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Life is Short, Let Go of Striving

I wanted to share with my happyluau readers something from my private homeopathic hcg diet blog, edited and enhanced here, because it relates to life in general, and some of you may find something to encourage or inspire you in it.

I mean this in a good way, that I'm not going to be trying to figure out what my body is doing with respect to weight loss, but just doing the very best I can, letting my body do its thing and not worrying.
I wrote about something in a comment about self-beatings. I grew up being beaten up physically (and verbally) almost daily by my mother. I got used to this. As part of my personal growth journey, I've tied the way I've used food to these beatings. I would overeat and feel badly and then punish myself with my thoughts. This deeply held pattern was carrying on my mother's horrible legacy in a particularly mean way. I don't want to do this to myself! So my goal now is to either: Choose to eat, to enjoy it, and not beat myself up about it; or choose to tap*, or not eat, and not feel deprived either. Just choose. And be gentle. And enjoy.
Overeating, though, is not really enjoying. Eating what my body wants is.
At 53, I probably will only live (at most) 17-40 more years. That's not many to me! And that's if I don't get hit by a bus or have an aneurysm or something like that. I continually remember what happened to Chani--my very intimate friend who died unexpectedly at 58. I don't want to carry on my mother's legacy or do anything more to myself or to anyone else that isn't kind, gentle, and loving. I don't want to abuse myself anymore by overeating, but instead use food for what it was intended--health, delight, celebration, joy, fuel--in quantities easily handled by my body. Sometimes I won't get it right, but that's okay. I want to be a good healthy weight. So that I can move around and not hurt so much in my remaining years. 
No one will be looking at me in my coffin knowing or caring if I was 176 or 183 or 192.8 pounds. (Actually I'm going to be cremated so no one will be looking at me period.) And no one will care what I did on the hcg diet--if it was 24 pounds I lost or 28 or 34 or 40. I don't even care too much now, although I do want the hard work and missed good meals to pay off. 
I just want to be GOOD to myself. As good as I am to everyone else, better even. Gentle, kind, sweet. That's all, now.
PS. I am tapping a lot lately. Really getting into it as an almost meditation practice.
PPS. I was highly, highly inspired by Patti Digh's post yesterday on "Letting Go of Striving". What wisdom! I think/hope I am doing this with respect to my weight. Years ago...I was 24 years old...a prophet "had a word for me" (this was someone who didn't know me at all, and the only time this ever happened), and it was "Stop striving!" So it has taken me almost thirty years, but I think I am finally learning how to do this.
*"tapping" refers to "fasterEFT" the protocol and philosophy of EFT (a type of energy work combining a sort of acupressure with neurolinguistic programming and hypnosis)  I am now learning.

This "letting go of striving" that Patti writes about is probably the biggest lesson I wish I'd learned when I was younger. Knowing what really matters.

Today, let go of striving. Be gentle with yourself and with others. Accept yourself and enjoy your days. Remember Chani, who thought she had forever--she didn't and neither do you. You have today, so celebrate and be good to yourself, my dear sweet friends. Enjoy this day, which is filled with blessings.

~Photo is old photo of Chani of when she was much younger, one that she especially liked, edited by me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sacred Life Sunday: Surrender

"Surrender" was my "word" from Lori-Lyn's card pulling--she did one on Facebook on Thursday and it was so right on. Then I read this on "The Mercy Blog: Pax et bonum":

Jesus does not demand 
great actions from us 
but simply surrender 
and gratitude.

(St. Therese of Lisieux)

Words to live by.
Perfect words for this Sacred Life Sunday.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lessons From Brazil: Lesson #5: People Are the Same Everywhere

As many of you know, I got back recently from a whirlwind trip to Salvador, Brazil for the wedding of my beloved nephew and his wonderful wife. I was only there for a short time but it was life-changing. So I decided to start a short blog series called "Lessons from Brazil" to share about this trip, to help me to process it, and to inspire you.

This may be obvious to you, but it was refreshing to me to discover that I had so much in common with the Brazilian people. There were some differences, of course (like the Brazilians being far less likely to be obese people, being darker skinned, and more family oriented), but other than that, I was surprised to find that despite the language differences, communication was easier than I'd thought possible (despite my knowing no Portuguese). The Brazilians very warm and interested in us as visitors to their country. They were very proud of their country as well.

It felt as though despite the dramatic differences of distance and locale and culture, the people were exactly the same. Different bodies, different everything, yet so much the same--in a good way.

I feel that often when I travel--so much is different and so much is the same. People are kind and warm and loving and have many of the same values everywhere. It was a delightful re-discovery, and a reminder of how we are all connected.

Love is the same in every culture!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sacred Life Sunday: A Sunday Adventure

This is a belated Sacred Sunday post!

I was inspired by Kelly Kikipotamus' visit to a church a few Sundays ago and wanted to do the same. I've felt more and more as though my church and I are not a match. I've been going since April, so for seven months, and what worked in the beginning no longer fits who I am, if it ever did. I no longer belong and I don't want to fit myself in. As much as I do enjoy Rick's Church of What Works, I want to go to a church IRL as well. Something in me keeps wanting that tangibility and physicality.

Sometimes I wonder if I ever will find the "instant community" that Kelly spoke of--anywhere. I change and grow so much. Yet still I long for friends who are local and for like-minded people with whom I can share common values.

This Sunday I was excited to try a place that is the closest match I've could imagine. But then I slept in, right through the service start time (10AM). So I decided to have a Sunday adventure instead.

LoveHubbie and I decided to go every weekend to our local Farmer's Market and fresh fish shop. But he chooses to work every day, even on weekends, and rarely has time. So this weekend I went alone. It was so fantastic. I decided to wait and see what I would see and what I would discover, and just let the day unfold. This has always been one of my favorite things to do.

First of all, I heard some bagpipes playing, quite a few of them. So I followed the sounds and saw this:

Olympia is an interesting place, but this was unusual even for here. It ended up that they were a group of bagpipe players rehearsing for a big holiday parade. I usually avoid such things (crowds), but for some reason I was up for it on Sunday. I didn't stand and watch the parade, but walked all around while it was going on, meeting people's eyes, everyone, connecting in small ways, sharing love. It was a delightful time. Hard to believe I could have such a nice time around a large group of people.

At one point I encountered an arts & crafts street fair. I bought a necklace and a small "baby" purse to go in my "Momma"purse, so I can offload what I need for a given stop and leave the Momma in the care and load the baby for the trip.

Here is the necklace. The pendant is made of felted wool by a local artist:

Here is the purse, also felted wool by the same artist. I'll show you my Momma purse so you can see how it fits:

Making the street fair come alive was a busker. He was playing in the freezing weather, and he was so joyful. I dropped a dollar into his guitar case and he smiled a big smile in gratitude. Then I noticed that there were only three one dollar bills in his case and a little change and the fair was almost at its close. As I walked away I thought of my wonderful friend Dwight, who is an Australian librarian and web designer turned traveling busker, and felt very wistful. A voice kept telling me to go back, go back.

So I turned around, went back and put all the cash I had left into his case, which was only about $7 or so. But still. I wanted him to know he made a difference in my day. He was overjoyed and received my message, I could tell.

I had a great Sunday adventure.

I was aware that it was the first day of Advent. I am entranced by the Church year, intrigued by the idea of darkness and waiting and the beginning of a season that culminates with a spiritual highlight--Christmas--that I don't really understand. This year the whole season means something different to me, something spiritual, but what exactly, I don't know. I feel as though this year I'm going to discover what it means and it will be something new.

In past years Christmas has been a painful time. I've written about my mother's suicide attempt and LoveHubbie's children before, so you know that I don't really celebrate Christmas much. We all know that Jesus was born we all are glad but the idea of a day to run around and give each other gifts because of it never made much sense to me. This year is different. The pain is behind me, the past, all of the old stuff. I don't know what this Christmas means, but I am excited to find out.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Blessing of Warmth

The brutal cold and harsh weather helps me to appreciate the beauty and softness of the other seasons. I am not a big fan of winter.

I am a bit down on this weather after having something like two weeks with either minimal heat or no heat. The repairman came over and over again (5 times) and the system would be fixed for a few hours and then break again. Apparently it is a complex computerized system with many components and the mother board is bad.

On Thanksgiving night, a different repairman, the manager, and the owner of the company came out to fix our system, and they did. We now have both heat and humidity. This coming week, an expert from Honeywell will come out to permanently fix the system so that our thermostats and zones will work as well, and to repair or replace the mother board. The owner of the company has a lot of integrity; he apologized for the big mess, for all of the problems that we've been having. It was a great Thanksgiving gift.

This time of coldness and personal discomfort taught me to be grateful for blessings. When you are freezing cold, it's hard to think, hard to be grateful for anything. Everything in your world narrows down to one thing--getting warm. Survival. The longer you are cold, the harder it becomes. I am glad that our time was short. But now I really feel for all of the people who have no way of getting warm at this time of year, and there are many. Homeless people, for one. But also the working poor, who can't afford heat. There are many people our country and around the world for whom being cold is the norm.

We are so blessed it so many ways. Ways that we take for granted much of the time.

Today I am grateful to be warm.

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark, edited by me

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Love is the Answer

I wanted to write about a comment that Kim left me about my post from yesterday, which was about how Love is always the answer. She wrote that I could love: 

(1) My hurt parts,
This is in fact a blessing because I wouldn't hurt so much if I didn't love her. I can focus on the years of betrayal and my discombobulated sense of reality or I can focus on how much I love her and how grateful I am to know the truth and be closer to her in her pain.

(2) Through what she [Calley] is going through,
She has been suffering for years and will continue to suffer no matter what--if she chooses to stay where she is and suffer the consequences--or if she chooses to recover. I can love her and support her no matter what, while I at the same time take care of myself.

(3) The courage she had to muster to finally live in the truth,
Every time someone chooses the truth over lies it is a cause to rejoice. And choosing authenticity is choosing a lot of other good things as well.

(4) The fact that she has me to love her.
I am glad to be there for her and that I have a love for her that is stronger than this. I will stand by her close or far-away (if it comes down to that). I hope that I can stay close. 

Thank you for this great writing inspiration Kim Queen of Big Love, for reminding me that Love is Always the Answer

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Peace in the Drama

One great side benefit from the homeopathic HCG diet I've been experiencing is a general sense of well-being, a great difference from my normal base state of generalized anxiety. That has been the best benefit so far. The sense of peace and empowerment has been valuable this month as different personal stresses have come up.

I had written on my diet blog that someone told me a secret that shook up my world and my sense of reality. Someone I'm close to, we'll call her "Calley",  told me that she is in fact an addict. All of a sudden all of the stories she has told me over many years that previously didn't make sense and sounded oddly convoluted now make sense. She is an addict and has lots of other problems too (obviously). She was honest with me after lying to me (and everyone else) for years, which I am very happy about, but now I need to decide how to be around her--where I need new boundaries and how to stay safe. Spiritually, my life is now all about letting go, so I need to determine how to let go in this situation. I'm not sure where I'm going to go with this as I am still in shock and a bit dazed, but I have prayed about it and am confident that I'll know what to do as time goes on. Lots of addict drama here, but all is fine. Again, that peace and empowerment sense is most helpful.

Peaceful feelings--knowing that God is control--and feelings of empowerment--knowing that I will indeed be able to do whatever I need to do--these are so vital to me today.

I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spiritual Changes in November

Since I've been on this HCG diet, I've been more assertive and more interested in pursuing spiritual community. We belong to a lovely church. I have tried my best to fit in and just can't. I am always so different from everyone else and as nice as they are, I seem to have some sort of block in that I cannot relate to anyone without feeling as though they find me hopelessly strange. I find myself making excuses for being who I am. So I have decided to listen to myself and to God about what to do next.

Just today I joined two new online groups. One has been started by my blogging friend Heather Plett and is called Sophia Leadership. Actually it is not a group, but a web site, and much more. Visit Sophia Leadership here at the main site or also here on Facebook. It is a place for anyone who wants to explore the idea and the experience of feminine wisdom. My particular Christian tradition teaches me to not trust myself or my own wisdom, but to only trust Jesus. I disagree. I believe that in learning to trust myself, I use one of the greatest gifts I have, given to me by God, and in doing so I learn how to become closer to Jesus. I even believe that it is He who leads me to know and honor my feminine wisdom. This is a very radical idea to some, but I have come to believe this wholeheartedly.

Sophia Leadership is also for men, for anyone who wants to participate in feminine wisdom.

I really love Heather's logo. It beautifully embodies and expresses feminine wisdom. As some of you know, I am fascinated by the labyrinth. Heather's logo of course is not a labyrinth, but it is a spiral that is reminiscent of a labyrinth in many ways.

Another group I joined today is based upon the book "God in the Yard" by L. L. Barkat. It is a small group of women who are reading the book and doing the exercises together. I love the idea of going into my backyard and listening to God. I know that I will enjoy this process, no matter what answers I get. If I don't make a point of doing this instead of being wistful about it, I will never make the time for it. Find out more about this amazing book here.

I know I'm joining quite a few groups lately. I am doing this HCG diet and have a private blog for it (let me know if you want an invite), plus I am studying faster EFT, I've joined Kate's The Queen of Creativity Castle, and now Sophia Leadership and God in the Yard. All are so important to me right now. I know that it may end up that I don't have time or focus for all of them, but I'm hoping that there will be a good fit for me in as many as possible.

At any rate, I am in a spiritual growth mode. I don't know where it will lead, but I trust God. And myself.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sacred Life Sunday: Accepting Others For Who They Are

When we don't give ourselves permission to be free, we rarely tolerate that freedom in others. ~BreneBrown

Saturday, November 13, 2010

If You Want More On Homeopathic HCG

If there are any of you regular readers of happyluau who are greatly interested in my progress on the homeopathic HCG diet, I have a separate blog for that which is private. I write in minute detail about the previous day--what I ate, how it made me feel, problems and issues, etc. Only people really interested in this would want to read at such length about someone's weight loss journey, but if you do, please let me know, and I'll send you an invite.

I may make the blog public at some point, but for now it feels better to just keep it this way.

I'll be posting general updates here, if and when there is anything to report.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lessons From Brazil: Lesson #4: I Need To Write

As many of you know, I got back recently from a whirlwind trip to Salvador, Brazil for the wedding of my beloved nephew and his wonderful wife. I was only there for a short time but it was life-changing. So I decided to start a short blog series called "Lessons from Brazil" to share about this trip, to help me to process it, and to inspire you.

When I traveled to Brazil a couple of weeks ago and fasted from technology, I wrote every single day, almost all the time I could, up to 6 hours a day. I wrote on all the planes, I wrote in my hotel in Miami, I wrote on my balcony in the posada in Brazil. I wrote every second I could get. I processed everything that happened.

I got a new Moleskine just for the trip, stamped it up, put washimatta tape all over it, and wrote in pencil. Writing in pencil is a pattern-breaker for me and so much fun. I'm definitely a fountain pen girl, so it was exciting to just write with an old-fashioned school pencil and keep sharpening it. I have continued this since I've been back, for much less time of course. I processed everything that happened to me, journaled about it all and asked myself other questions too--questions that would just pop up as I was writing. Here are some:
(1) What does it mean to live life as "valid" versus as an invalid?
(2) Will I go to ___'s funeral? Why or why not?
(3) Is it better to stand up for this person when they're railroaded by a bully when the bully will be offended and retaliate or is it better to handle everything privately behind the scenes?
(4) Do I confront ___ and ___ when they lie to me? Do I just let it go? Do I laugh and move on?
(5) What would it mean for me to "die with my song inside me"?
(6) How do I totally let go of my need to be a victim?
(7) Why does someone choose to live to hate? What do they get out of devoting their life to hate?

I would go back and answer those questions when I ran out of things to write in the main part of the journal.

Some of these questions are things that Chani and I would talk about. Now I journal about them.

I overdid it a bit on the trip but I'm glad that I did, because I have been resisting making time for simple journaling. I missed it. I do believe it is a need for me and not a want. Whatever it is, it is something I will continue to make time for.

Do you journal regularly, in addition to blogging?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lessons From Brazil: Lesson #3: Technofast

As many of you know, I got back recently from a whirlwind trip to Salvador, Brazil for the wedding of my beloved nephew and his wonderful wife. I was only there for a short time but it was life-changing. So I decided to start a short blog series called "Lessons from Brazil" to share about this trip, to help me to process it, and to inspire you.

When I traveled to Brazil a couple of weeks ago, I went on a fast from technology (a "technofast") for almost a week. This means no Internet, no texting, no Facebook or Twitter, no Kindle, no iPod, no television, no radio, no camera, and no phone. It was quite difficult in many ways. Mostly that I missed everyone. But I also experienced many "fasting" benefits.

The best part of being disconnected from the techno world was that I wrote like a banshee for up to 6 hours a day in my Moleskine in pencil. I wrote on the planes, I wrote in my hotel in Miami, I wrote on my balcony in the posada in Brazil. I wrote every second I could get. I processed everything that happened. I thought a lot. I could really be present with people, just be there without being interrupted by anything. I really experienced the sights, sounds, and smells of Brazil. I was really calm and peaceful much of the time. It was delightful.

I think we all need time to be unplugged, even just to enjoy being plugged in! Consider taking a technofast. For some people it may be just a day, or even just a few hours. Let me know what you experience. I'm betting that your time back online will be even richer for it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sacred Life Sunday: Blessed

On this beautiful Sunday morning, I am wishing you all a day of rest, peace, fun, play, delight, joy, and love. I am blessed and so are you. That alone is reason enough to have an amazing day!

~Photo by Sabrina Moran edited by me