Trumped Up!

About TrumpLike a lot of people I tend to avoid confrontation. I was raised not to talk back or speak my mind if it might upset people. I was a “good girl.”

As I age however, I find it less and less possible not to speak up when things are wrong. As a minister I don’t want to get too political on Facebook or emails. I tend to be liberal, but as with my studies of various religions, I also can usually see both sides of a political issue. So I keep still until something really fires me up.

It takes a lot to get me to that point. It takes some form of injustice or ignorance. It takes evil, mean actions, hateful speech. It takes Donald Trump!

Every night on the news is a new episode of the circus/reality show of the Donald Trump candidacy for President. There is so much hateful nonsense coming out of that man that I could laugh at him if not for one thing. He has so many followers supporting his spewing of racial, misogynistic, hostile slurs. He appeals to every fear and prejudice that these people have and they clamor for more.

As far as I know I don’t know anyone personally that is backing him, but if I do, I imagine we won’t be friends for long. My husband and I have actually started looking at other countries to move to if he gets elected.

While I don’t always agree with my conservative friends, I also know that my real friends are kind and loving people. People that would give the shirt off their back if I needed it. People that wouldn’t turn away a hungry or homeless person because of their race or nationality. People who don’t take their love for their religion or their country lightly.

What scares me most is that the people following Trump must never read about or do any research on this man and his history. He does not represent any American or Christian values that I have ever heard of.

He crossed a really big line for me when he called Pope Francis “disgraceful” for doubting his (Trump’s) “Christianity.” The Holy Father simply said a real Christian doesn’t build walls. He builds bridges. I suspect Trump’s Christianity just came on in the past few months to suit his political ambitions. After all, anyone can carry a Bible and wave it around. That doesn’t make him a Christian. I have never seen anything in him that represents what Jesus would do.

I read a blog on Huffington Post that better describes what I am feeling. The title is Since When Did Scapegoating and Taking Revenge Become American and Christian Principles. It’s  written by David Mochel and is really worth your time to read the whole thing. Here is a quote that resonated with me:  ”I propose that the privileges of being Christian come with the responsibilities of showing compassion and generosity for those in need and mercy toward those who have offended. …Uncertainty can trigger anxiety and self-defensiveness. We can respond by being reactionary, rigid, and exclusive. But this is not our only choice. We also have the choice of compassion, inclusivity, and peaceful resistance. … I am tired of ‘American’ and ‘Christian’ being used as descriptors of what is happening in the popular discourse. …I am tired of letting the loudest among us be those who call for un-American behavior in the name of patriotism. I am tired of letting the dialogue be monopolized by those who pass off prejudice as faith. Compassion matters. Dignity matters. Exercising self-discipline when we are scared and angry matters.”

I know that Trump appeals to people’s pain, fear and ignorance. I know that most rational people see through his twisted rhetoric. I also know that if we let him rule our country (And that is what he wants to do, rule like a king not govern like an elected official.) then our country will lose a lot of respect from the rest of the world.

I say that our religions and country matter too much to let Donald Trump lead us to disaster. Please get out there and vote! It is the only recourse we have to end this tidal wave of nonsense!

 

 

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Good Grief

Go ahead and cryFor the past few months I have been taking a class on Grief Recovery. At my age I have lost several key loved ones from my life and thus have had my fair share of grieving opportunities. I will say I have not always handled the losses very well. I thought this Grief Recovery class could be helpful for me in my personal life and also give me another “tool” in my counseling work. It was an amazing healing experience for me

In our culture, we are encouraged to suck it up and not show our grief in public. Even at funerals, people laugh and talk and if anyone cries, they are encouraged to “Be strong for others” or told “It will be okay” and with that they are expected to dry their eyes.

Because we are human and love people and pets in our lives, we are going to feel sad when they leave us. Crying and talking about it is a healthy, natural part of the grieving process. Unfortunately that sometimes makes other people uncomfortable. The best they know how to do is try to make you feel better when in reality what most of us really need is to just process our grief with someone who will listen.

Grief is like forgiveness. It is a process that is unique to each individual and each loss is different as well. You may have lost a parent and I have lost a parent but our  grief experiences will be totally different from one another. Those people who say, “I know how you feel.” may think they do but they can’t possibly.

Be kind to someone you know who might be grieving a loss, whether it is due to death, divorce, job loss or something else. Often all they need is someone to listen while they process their feelings. It takes a strong person to sit with someone in sadness but you might find you have the strength you need to do so. The favor may be returned one day when you need someone to listen.

If you are dealing with your own grief issues, Crossroads Hospice in Kansas City/ Gladstone, MO. offers Grief Recovery classes for free.

 

 

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Being Authentic

be-authenticWhen I do my prayer and meditation in the morning, I usually get a word to dwell on from Spirit  while I am meditating. This morning the word was “authentic.” Almost immediately my mind came up with several people in my life that seem authentic to me. Unfortunately I was not on that list.

Later in the day, I decided to look up the definition of the word “authentic.” According to Merriam Webster, one of the definitions is:
“true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.”

It doesn’t matter if we agree on theology, politics or anything else, I can hear if a person is speaking their authentic truth. It is obvious to me if they really believe what they are saying or are just mouthing the words they heard from some minister, politician, conspiracy theorists or hate group. If a person is speaking truth from their heart I have respect for that even if I don’t agree.

I hurt my own feelings by not putting myself on my imaginary “authentic person’s list.” But I don’t think I belong there right now.

I call myself a writer but I have let numerous things keep me from dedicating my life to writing. Well I was taking care of my aging dog who finally passed on, then came the holidays, then the cold weather and I have pain when I sit too long at my computer. Oh and there’s always those social opportunities that I can’t say “no” to. I usually make my yoga practice a priority, so why not treat my writing the same way? I have actually made a little bit of money from my first book but have I made the moves necessary to promote it or start the next one? Not really.

I did a lot of work to get ordained as an Interfaith Minister and I will tell people that’s what I am, but have I taken any steps to work on my ministry or further cooperation and discussions in an Interfaith situation? Not lately.

I have recently decided I want to do some work in grief counseling. While I took a class in Grief Recovery, have I done any work in getting certified or even volunteered at a hospice to get some experience? Well I looked up classes and got discouraged because some of them are pretty expensive. There’s nothing authentic about having a dream and letting fear or worry stand in your way.

If being authentic is showing your true self to others and standing up for what you believe is true, then I have been lacking in those areas too. I don’t post controversial material on Facebook even if I believe and support what it says. I have a diverse group of friends and something might offend someone. Well I don’t see too many other people holding back when it’s a message of hate, racism or judgement. I want to be a force for understanding, peace and love.

I am going to work on my authenticity. I won’t beat myself up because I think for the most part I’m a pretty good person, but if I don’t believe me, then why would anyone else?

What do you think about yourself? Are you being authentic in your own life right now?  I think that is something for all of us to consider, but be kind in this journey! Too many others will pick on you. You don’t have to pick on yourself. Just make some small changes toward becoming your authentic self.

 

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Meditations From Behind the Bathroom Door

Toilet-MeditationThose of you that know my husband will understand that he is the funny one. I am his “straight man” or comedic foil most of the time. I am his George Burns which would make him my Gracie Allen. Maybe not a good choice for comparison but it does sort of suit us. According to TV Tropes.org, “Somebody has to set up the joke so the funny guy can deliver the punchline. That’s the Straight Man. He rarely gets the funny lines, but has to have impeccable timing and delivery so that the comic (the other half of a comedy duo) can hit it out of the park.”

That being said, Rick and I fulfill those roles even if there is no one else around to laugh. I am sitting on the bed the other morning, and I hear from the other side of the bathroom door. “Oh look a Rorschach test!”

“What? What are you doing in there?”

“Wiping my butt.”

“Oh my!” I started laughing out loud. How does he think of this stuff?

The next morning, same scenario and I hear (again from the other side of the bathroom door), “I wonder how blind people poop.”

“I would say the same way the rest of us do.”

“No, I mean how do they know when they are wiped clean if they can’t see the toilet tissue?”

A few minutes of silence, then he says, “I guess that’s what the dog is for.”

I am just shaking my head at this point, but I have to ask. “You mean the dog sees the toilet tissue and somehow signals the blind person that it is finally clean? Or does the dog somehow clean the blind person?” Man! That is way more than I want to think about that subject!

I love my husband but living with him is a great adventure. He has a way of seeing things just a little differently from the rest of us. He observes a lot and will burst out in a made up song or a line from The Big Bang Theory with no apparent rhyme or reason for it. Very often people look to me when he isn’t making sense to them, and I just say, “I don’t know what he’s talking about most of the time.”

He makes me laugh, shake my head and roll my eyes a bit, but he also enhances my life and helps me lighten up a lot.

His musings in the bathroom made me think that little room is a very good place for meditation. Who says you have to be in a certain pose or room or do a certain ritual to meditate? The bathroom gives you privacy and often you sit there for a while in the quiet (well in most people’s homes).

Meditation is a very personal thing to most of us. I know people who consider playing their music, doing dishes, hiking in nature as meditation. I think whatever stills your mind and feeds your soul can be meditation. Sure you can sit cross legged on the floor with your eyes closed, but why not go put your feet in the grass or your butt on the toilet. Who says you can’t meditate anywhere that suits you?

 

 

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Bitchy vs Bossy

I love encountering new and unusual people. Yesterday I was shopping in our local grocery store and went to look at meat. I am not big into meat much anymore but we still indulge once in a while. There was some sausage on sale and a tall, slender older lady (maybe 80 something) was holding a package and contemplating it. She noticed me looking at the same things and said, “You know this stuff isn’t good for you! It will make you fat! And it makes some people sick too.”

I said, “Yes, I know.” put the meat down and went to finish my shopping. After finding the few things I came in for, I approached the check out area. There was a bin with Butterfinger Reeses Peanut Butter Cups at 3 for $1. I am briefly tempted and reach to see what they are made of.

Suddenly I hear this same voice saying, “You know those will make you fat!”  I look up to see my “friend” from the meat department.

I don’t know how she got to the other end of the store so quickly, but I thought “She’s right” and put the candy back.  Seems I had my own nutritional guardian angel following me.

As I was leaving the store I smiled and wondered when do we get to a point where we can be bossy to strangers and get away with it. Is it a privilege of age? Should we always say everything we think? As an Introvert I think we should think about what we want to say and maybe censor ourselves a bit. But what about honesty?

I was glad the lady didn’t say, “that will make you fatTER” but still it stung a bit. Now I may not have bought either item anyway. I don’t think she influenced me that way but her behavior made me think. Is it okay for an 80 year old woman to be bossy? What about a 20 or 30 year old woman? If she becomes a strong leader very often she is considered bossy.

Where is the line between “bossy” and “bitchy”?

Of course opinionated men are looked at differently than women with the same quality. When writing my book I found studies that showed that girls in a co-ed environment will tone down their intelligence and leadership qualities so as to not appear to be bossy or bitchy. What is that teaching our young women about their own worth? While researching this I came across this video.

Check it out and let me know your thoughts and feelings.

 

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You did WHAT for Easter?

Sand Mandala 2015

 

I love Easter! I love everything about it, from Ash Wednesday, the 40 days of Lent, and Holy Week to the new Easter outfits on the little girls in church. I love the eggs and bunnies and the pastel colors coming back. Although I’m not much into candy any more, I still love the Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs that seem to taste better than the regular Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.

The whole season is very special to me! Those of you that know me might think it odd that an Ordained Interfaith Minister would be especially fond of such a traditional Christian holiday. It might have something to do with the fact that it also signals springtime for me. Living in the U.S. , Easter falls in early spring here when the grass is becoming greener by the day, the trees are budding and early flowers are popping up. It is quite beautiful in the Midwest in the springtime.

For me Easter is all about the Resurrection. It reminds me of new beginnings and shedding the old self to be reborn into something new and beautiful.  I love giving back and giving up something for Lent, reading and reflecting daily on Bible selections and getting back to my Christian roots. Unlike some folks I know who have rejected their Christian upbringing, mine was not traumatic or disturbing. I was raised to love and respect Jesus with no fear. No guilty, wretched sinner was I!

As an adult, I chose to be confirmed in the Catholic Church and had a wonderful teacher, who also made me feel safe and peaceful as we learned about Jesus and his teachings. I have come to understand more of Jesus’ life and what he was trying to show us. I have picked through the man-made dogma and rules and come to peace with my relationship with Him. Not all would agree with my ways, but it works for me.

Since Holy Week is a special time to me, I had planed to attend a beautiful Holy Thursday service with a good Catholic friend of mine. We did that last year and it touched me so much I wanted to make it a tradition. However on that day my body decided I would be sick. I started coughing and it got so bad that evening I was sure I couldn’t sit through a Mass without embarrassing both of us, so I begged off. I was very disappointed but knew Good Friday and Easter Vigil services were ahead. Well that cough turned into something deeper into my lungs and I knew sitting quietly in church was not an option. So I missed both of the those events. But Easter Sunday was coming! Then I woke up that morning feeling worse than ever. Now I have missed all of the traditional Catholic Holy Week events.

All of this week I had very little energy but still made myself move around a bit. I wasn’t sick enough to be bedridden, but sick enough to feel sorry for myself about it. I was depressed and tired of feeling bad.

Then something unexpected happened. By chance I heard that some Tibetan Monks were coming to Kansas City to build a sand mandala to promote World Peace and Interfaith Understanding. And they were doing it literally five minutes from my house!

Several years ago, I saw them create a mandala and it is really something to behold. The patience and love they pour into their masterpiece, only to sweep it up and give the sand away, teaches us all a lesson in non-attachment. They work for four days to create something beautiful and then bless it and release it. I cried the first time I saw that and I saw others in the audience crying this time too. It is quite a lesson for our western minds. We are taught to acquire more and more and hold on to it tightly, when in reality we never know when those things will be taken from us no matter what we do.

This event was in a coffee shop/art gallery. We went for the opening ceremony and visited every day to see their progress on this fascinating project. With the monks chanting and praying in addition to the coffee shop noise, my cough was not even noticeable. I could sit and sip tea and not feel too bad while I was there. I even made friends with one of the monks. He said they are doing this to encourage Interfaith understanding because too many people are killed in the name of God. Although they never once asked for money, this event and all their other ones are to raise money for their monastery in India. But it feels the mission is bigger than that. It seems they are trying to get people to realize that World Peace is achievable only if we start learning about and respecting all spiritual beliefs and religions.

So this year my Holy Week was spent observing a different sort of spiritual awakening. Watching the Monks creating the symbols of each major religion circling a globe with a dove representing World Peace. The next layer had tiny men and women of all different colors holding hands circling the symbols. Another layer had pictures depicting the four seasons and the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Each grain of sand making up this intricate work of art was placed carefully and purposefully by these patient, sweet spirits of the Drepung Gomang Monastery from Southern India. Just being in their presence was a healing for my soul.

Once they blessed the beautifully colored mandala they calmly just swept it up, put the sand in little baggies and handed them out to anyone who wanted one. Strangely enough, when all of those beautiful colors are mixed together, they just look like a neutral brown. In the end they are all part of the same One and you can’t tell the difference from one grain of sand to the other.

I may have missed my traditional Holy Week activities, but I feel so blessed to have some new ideas to ponder. Peace, acceptance and non-attachment came to visit me for Easter. Maybe I can get them to stay around for a while.  I think Jesus would like that!

 

 

 

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Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater!

A couple of years ago, we divorced our church. We had been active members there for nine years. Baby and bathwater (1)Unfortunately, we became aware of too much hypocrisy and lack of integrity on the part of someone running the show. It became unbearable to be there so we left. We told the “powers that be” our reasons but it made no difference. In our minds at the time the only solution was to remove ourselves from the situation.

We had occasion recently to go visit in order to see some dear friends that were in town for just a short time. I was nervous about how we would be received, but as soon as we hit the doorway, we were hugged and welcomed by a lot of people. I didn’t realize until I saw some of these folks, that I had been missing my community so much.

Was it wise to leave because of one or two people and miss out on what was happening with everyone else? I don’t have a good answer for that. Thanks to the “miracle” of social media, we do keep in touch with some of those people but nothing beats face-to-face contact. I have been missing the hugs and camaraderie.

In my past I have been guilty of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” I have been hurt by friends and walked away. Some of them I miss. Some not-so-much. But still, is that a grown up way to deal with people? Just stay away if they act like asses?

There is a point where bad behavior is abuse and it is important to protect yourself from that, but sometimes misunderstandings can be corrected and forgiven. I have long since forgiven the church situation and certain ex-friends, but the relationships will never be the same.

Maybe my lack of coping skills is the problem. Maybe I sometimes pick “friends” who are manipulative or controlling and it eventually comes to light. For whatever reason, the pattern keeps repeating in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally grateful and appreciative of the great and loyal friends I have around me now. There are lots of good people who have stayed by my side, but maybe there are some who could have stayed had we just had one more conversation.

Any of you who know me well, know I can be a bit stubborn. (Now quit laughing about the “a bit” part!) My reflection today is on where I might have handled situations differently and if it is possible to make amends at this point.

Seems like just when you think your forgiveness work is done, something pops up to be looked at again. In this phase of my life, I intend to ask for forgiveness when I have hurt someone and practice forgiving others for any perceived hurt I feel.

How many times did Jesus say to “turn the other cheek?” I don’t expect to keep up with Him, but at least I can head in that direction.

 

 

 

 

 

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Find Comfort in Rituals

Create Rituals

 

Human beings need rituals. You can deny it, but I am willing to bet you have your own private rituals. Those things that you may not admit to doing, but somehow give you comfort. Now I’m not superstitious, but if I spill salt, I will flick a bit of it over my left shoulder. I don’t really believe in the devil but you can never be too careful!

Even dogs have their rituals. If you doubt that, watch your dog as he turns around three times before lying down or hunts for that perfect spot in the yard to “do his business.” My big dog has her routine when getting into our bed. She has to pull the blankets up in a bunch just perfectly before she can relax and lie down. There is ritual around all of that.

Humans need rituals to celebrate happy events and also to sooth themselves from the not-so-happy ones. None of us think twice about attending a wedding or funeral, but have you thought maybe it would be nice to create a ritual to signify the importance of other transitions in life, such as divorce, job loss, changing where you live, or beginning or ending menopause?  In some cultures they celebrate the “coming of age” of young men and women. Why can’t we create rituals to commemorate any important event in our lives?

I believe one of my callings as an Interfaith Minister is to help people peacefully and happily navigate life’s transitions. Too often when big emotional upheavals happen in our lives, we are told to “just get over it!” When someone important in your life dies, you have a funeral or memorial service. Why don’t we have a ceremony for any major life transition?

It doesn’t have to be sad. It can be very comforting. For instance when an important relationship dissolves or we lose our job, why not have a ritualistic burning of the old and embracing the opportunities the new void in our life will bring to us. Of course crying and venting can come along with that but the focus should be on re-affirming life and the gift that changes bring us.

I have never been one to enjoy change that is thrust on me. If I choose it, that is fine, but the ones that drop in your lap without invitation are very disturbing.

When I lost my job, I was stunned. Never mind I had been secretly wishing to get out of there, but when the decision was taken away from me, I didn’t react too well. When I got over the shock and realized it was a wonderful opportunity for me to move on, I did better. A lot of us lost our job that day. I know some people are still angry about it even after 10 years. I wonder if we had banded together and had a ritual for this major event, then we would have recovered quicker.

According to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, “This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn’t have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet. If you bring the right earnestness to your homemade ceremony, God will provide the grace.”

We can create our own rituals for any event. My father died on February 10 several years ago. In the past, I was always sad on that day. Then I created a ritual to remember the love between us. When he was alive, he would always send me flowers for Valentine’s Day no matter where I was and even after I got married. My Daddy was always my Valentine! On the anniversary of his death, being just a few days before Valentine’s Day, I now buy myself flowers. It comforts me somehow to remember him and feel his presence through the flowers. That was our ritual when he was alive and now it is my ritual in remembrance of him.

Your ritual can be as simple as that or as elaborate as you want to make it. I often tell people who have lost a pet, that we can do a memorial service just like we would for any other member of the family. So often once your beloved pet passes away, there is no comforting ritual like when a human dies. You are just left to deal with your feelings of loss on your own.

I know when we lost our jobs if I had created a big piñata of the manager that fired us, people would have stood in line to take a bat to the effigy. But rituals should be something more positive and optimistic. They are meant to bring closure to the past and look forward to the future.

Think about your major life transitions and what sort of ritual you can do to celebrate and sooth yourself. If you need any help or ideas, I am here to serve.

Many blessings to you all!

 

 

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Advice From an Unlikely Yogi

A couple of years ago I decided to try a yoga class. Some friends of mine were doing yoga and I met a teacher who had lost 100 pounds with yoga, walking and changing her food choices. She convinced me that the time to start was now. Not when I think I am thin enough to do yoga. I took her at her word and it changed my life. Pose_Salutation_Yoga_Fat_Lady

I started with a Restorative Yoga class which is a healing and gentle type of yoga. After almost 20 years of being obese and unfit, I had a long road ahead of me. At the time I started I could not get up off the floor without crawling to a wall and using it for support. I could not raise my right foot up far enough in the shower to wash it because my hips were so locked up.

I had at one time been a thin person and I knew how some people view overweight people, even when they are trying to do better things for themselves by exercising. I quickly learned there were “yoga snobs” who viewed anyone unfit as sad and the use of props as below their “dignity”. So I would come into class keeping my eyes on the ground. I would not look around because I knew I would see someone looking at me like “How dare you come in here with that body! You’ll never be able to do yoga.” Through trial and error and just being determined, I found a teacher that was supportive and a few classes where I could feel safe from the judgments and do my practice in peace.

Surprisingly enough, even in  the first class, I realized there were things I could do….maybe not perfectly, but at least I felt like I was getting a stretch and a bit of a workout. I have been sick, fatigued and in pain for years, but the funny thing was I felt better when I finished a class. I went from Restorative to a Chair Yoga class, which has some of the same moves as Basic Yoga only with support from a chair. We don’t just sit and move our arms around in a chair. We really work all parts of the body.

Now yoga is not for everyone, but all of us, especially people with plus size bodies can feel better with exercise. I was thinking the other day about it and wrote down some advice I would give to anyone wanting to start an exercise class.

  1. Stop calling yourself “fat”.  When my yoga teacher said it bothered her that I kept calling myself “fat”, I remembered the power of the spoken word and stopped doing that. I don’t deny the fact that I am overweight, I just don’t need to label myself that way.
  2. You can’t care what others in a class think of you. If you worry about that, you won’t ever set foot in any exercise class. You know, they might not even be thinking about you at all.
  3. Don’t skip class because some part of you hurts. If you skip class because of aches or pains, you might never do it. Suck it up and go! Do the poses or exercises as well as you can without injuring yourself. Very often if I go to a class with some pain, I come out feeling a lot better.
  4. Don’t think too long about how much work is involved in a class. Just go! Some of it is challenging but you will feel so proud of yourself when you accomplish things you didn’t think you could.
  5. Keep trying those challenging poses that you weren’t able to do last week. One day you might find you are able to do them.
  6. Don’t use lack of time, money or energy as excuses not to go to class. Of course if you are sick or injured, you should use your common sense as to whether to go or not. Just don’t make excuses. Find a class time that will work with your schedule and reserve your energy for it, making the class your priority. As far as money goes, a lot of instructors will work with you on a fee schedule that you can afford. There are community education classes and classes at the YMCA that are reasonably priced as well. If you save money by avoiding junk food, fast food and over-priced coffee drinks, you can probably figure out a way to afford your classes
  7. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. I started yoga without the intention to lose weight. I just wanted to feel stronger and fight some of the pain that I always have in my body. As a nice side-effect, I have lost my taste for fast food. After a yoga class, I feel like putting something healthy in my body, so I drive past all of the fast food choices along the way and go home to eat something organic and healthy.

Anyone who has been around me lately knows how I am into my yoga practice. I go now four to five times a week and don’t feel right if I don’t have my “yoga fix”. If you had told me three years ago that I would be a yoga fan, I would have laughed at you, but it has changed my life! It has given me a mind, body and spirit connection and, along the way, I have gained a loving, supportive community in my yoga friends.

I don’t weigh myself but I know I have lost several inches off my body since starting yoga. My clothes are fitting better. My energy level is gradually increasing.  I am being kinder to my body, realizing I didn’t get this way in a few weeks and I may never have that 30 year old body again. At least I don’t feel like I am dying every day any more.

Thank you yoga and all the people who encouraged me along the way. I hope I serve as encouragement to others.

Namaste!

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The Illusion of Separateness

Illusion of separateness

 

One night on the news, there was a story about a young girl in England  who wrote a note, put it in a bottle, and tossed the bottle into the sea. I assume she put her contact information on the note, because a grandmother in Australia found the bottle and responded to her message five months later. Now they are Facebook friends.

After I heard this story, it made me think about how small the world is nowadays, but there was hardly enough of the story to write about. That was until I saw a Ted talk the other day about a virtual choir. Voices from all over the world were brought together by a conductor, Eric Whitacre. Eric talks about how transformative his first experience in a choir was for him. He said “My entire life I had seen in black and white and suddenly I was seeing in shocking technicolor.” He described how amazing it was to participate in singing with a “shared vision” and how it made him feel that he was a part of something larger than just himself.

The idea stayed with him and he ended up recording a 2000 voice choir from all over the world. They all sat in front of their own computers at home and recorded themselves singing a part of the music Eric created. His technicians then pieced together all of these voice recordings into one great composition. He described the singers as “souls each on their own desert island all sending electronic messages in bottles to each other.” Here is a link to the YouTube video:  http://youtu.be/6WhWDCw3Mng

Eric concluded two things after this experience. One is that “Human beings will go to any lengths necessary to find and connect with each other” and that “People seemed to experience an actual connection, not just a virtual one. They have become friends electronically even though they have never met.” He also commented, “Aside from the beautiful music, it’s great just to know I’m part of a worldwide community of people I never met before, but who are connected anyway.”

The last time I checked he had 4000 people from 73 different countries in his virtual choir. His latest endeavor is a piece called Cloudburst where he unites voices from three college choirs live on stage with 30 voices performing remotely from all over the world in “real time.”

One of the guys in our coffee group complains about how people are so connected to their electronic devices that they don’t even talk to each other any more. Although I used to feel that way, I think he is missing the big picture. If they are communicating with someone from around the world, maybe they are contributing to world peace. I know it is a stretch to say that, but I feel if we learn more about other cultures, maybe we will be less likely to blow each other up.

Maybe learning more about someone who is from a different race or religion would help us to embrace our differences instead of being afraid of them. Granted some of these folks are playing games or checking Facebook, but even Facebook is connecting us in new ways. I have Facebook friends from other countries that I am not likely to ever meet in person. I have learned more about their cultures just by reading their posts.

So I have changed my view on being connected electronically. Even at my age, I can decide to be more open and embrace change.

While there is no substitute for a face-to-face relationship, I think there is also room for the virtual ones. Life is a balance. Why not have the best of both worlds?

 

 

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