Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spiritual Growth Stall

In my effort to grow as a person, I pull from many different sources. Books on meditation, prayer, self help guides, open discussions, good cleansing cries, venting, music...all of it has been part of my routine at various points in my life.

I will confess that lately (the last week or so), I have been skipping meditation and devoting about five minutes a day to prayer. I've reverted back to checking e-mail before I get out of bed in the morning. The morning routine is spent thinking about my to do list and upcoming meetings. The commute is the same and I am even checking e-mails every time the traffic slows to crawl. I'm walking into the office with a million things on my mind and find myself overwhelmed at various points throughout the day. On the weekends, I find myself focusing on what is going wrong with my health and not on getting better. I am bratty and short with Hubby and our fur babies. I am conscious of it but finding it hard not to go there. I'm finding it harder and harder to find the place of peace that came to me so easily when I was meditating and praying/journaling every day.

With all of that on my mind, I woke up Sunday and virtually attended church at The Potter's House (read: I watched online). T.D. Jakes sermon hit home for me. It was about a lot of things but what stood out (besides my own shortcomings when it comes to prayer) was the message about how we really want everything quick, fast and in a hurry. We are hesitant to focus on meditation and prayer for extended periods of time because we are busy mentally rushing off to the next task or seeking entertainment. We often talk about not having enough hours in the day but will take an hour for a hair appointment, a meeting, a commute or a TV show. Most of us don't take an hour to pray or meditate. If we do, we find our thoughts wandering off and before we know it, we are checking the clock. Additionally, most of us have been trained that we should pray for things or solutions or alternatively to meditate with a focus on what we want (a la The Secret). We are looking for the genie in the magic lamp and not for our centered, at-ease selves. We are looking for a winning lottery ticket and a bigger house and not for how we can best fulfill out purpose on Earth. Ultimately, the message was that peace and anointing are "expensive." You will be pressed or tested with trials and tribulations but you can pray, study and meditate your way through it. You just have to take the time. Answers and peace don't come after 3 minute distracted snippets of time. The sermon hit home for me because there is a lot going on and I am trying to be present everyday and not get lost in the what ifs. That said, I have totally abandoned my focus on meditation and have thrown myself into work. I do pray but in the past two weeks, it's been in short distracted clips before bed and when I wake up. It hasn't helped me focus on my well-being at all and I've turned to work to drown out the world. I've been down this road before. I really don't want to go back there.

After listening to the sermon, I decided I was going to try to get back on a regular meditation schedule but also spend real time praying about my health. I also want to devote time each day to reading or listening to spiritual material (whether the Bible or otherwise) and journaling. With that in mind, I listened to a Joel Osteen sermon during my commute today. It just so happened that it was about taking the time to seek God rather than seeking stuff. Seeking the best way to serve and help others rather than seeking the bigger house and the better job. Seek the blessor not the blessing. Talking to God about everything and not just what you perceive to be the biggest things. This leads to a more peaceful state where we aren't constantly thinking we can control it all.

I've heard this message in so many forms over the last two weeks--all while I ignored it and spiraled down to my current pity-filled bratty state. I will say that I am going through some health issues this week that are preventing me from sleeping and that is not helping with focus, energy or temperament but there is still a need for an overarching change before I revert back to the woman I was when I started this blog. The universe has been screaming at me from every faith. For whatever reason, I wasn't ready to listen until Sunday (after being particularly short with Hubby over nothing). I listened and it opened my mind to hear everything in the sermon during my commute today. Ironically, it also fit in nicely with Sunday's sermon, which had already opened my mind to getting back on track. So, here I am again trying to re-focus but this time, I have a plan and some renewed motivation. I'm starting with my gratitude journal and resuming my read through the Bible in a year plan. I'm also going to start trying to work my way up to an hour a day of prayer and/or meditation starting with 15 minutes twice a day. Place of peace, here I come.    

Monday, May 14, 2012

Motherly Love

Mother's Day has taken on a bit of a different meaning for me this year. Well, maybe not so much different as multifaceted. It is still a day for me to honor and celebrate the mothers in my life for all the love and support they give all year. I try to make a conscious effort to do that throughout the year but I do take time on Mother's Day to show how appreciative I am for a superhero rock star mom, a stepmom who loves me like her own and a loving and doting mother in law.

At the same time, I am grappling with my own desire to become a mother. This year has been interesting (read: complicated) so far. Last year, I started planning for my first child and really thought I would be pregnant by now but we all know what they say about making your own plans and expecting God to laugh. He must be having a giggle fit with me and all my plans lately. That said, I've had time and motherly counseling to work through all of this and I am at peace with where I am. If I am to be a mom (and I have faith that I am), I will be--no matter how the children get here.

I armed myself with that thought and used it as a mantra as I moved through the world yesterday. I remembered it as I called my mom and my step-mom to wish them a Happy Mother's Day. I repeated it to myself as I went to dinner with my mother-in-law (who is craving grandchildren and talking about the possibility of them non-stop). I drew on that peace in the mantra as I saw pregnant moms and moms with new babies. I thought about how each of those moms to be has a story of how she got there and how she's doing. Then, there are those around me dealing with a similar plight...wanting a baby and quietly moving through the world repeating their own mantras every time they see a child with its mom. It's comforting to know I am not alone.

The famous "they" say that women all turn into their mothers eventually. I don't believe that is true for everyone but I do see it happening in my own life and I love every moment of it. Over the years, my mom has become my peace guru and an amazing counselor. She loves with a sense of compassion that has helped me get through health issues, work issues, financial issues and everything in between. She helps my mind stay on the positive side and reminds me that nothing is impossible with God. If I can be half the mother she is to the children that I pray for everyday, those are going to be some lucky kiddos...and they'll have the added benefit of having her for a grandmother. Love my mom!

If you are a mom or a mom-to-be (or both), I hope you had a wonderful mother's day. If you are pressing towards being a mom, I'm with you. We will get there.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Know How--The "35 is Coming" List

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Know by the Time She's 30 by the Editors of Glamour and Pamela Redmond Satran. I enough past 30 that 35 is in sight but I love the idea of the list they put together. I love it so much that I thought I'd start my own list. Some of the things on the list were part of my life before 30 and some after. Some are a work in progress. Whether 30 or not, I hope you'll share your additions in the comments section or create your own list.  

Here's my Know How List (so far)

Know how to…

1. Dispute a bill
2. Haggle and work out a great deal
3. Check your oil, change a tire and how to use roadside assistance (or know your way around mass transit if you don't drive)
4. Ask questions of medical providers, service providers, etc. and hold them accountable to answering
5. Take a compliment
6. Check your credit score (and actually check it yearly)
7. Have a meal by yourself and enjoy it
8. How to eliminate toxic friends from your life
9. Calm down (breathing, meditation, prayer--whatever works to get you out of the anger zone)
10. Tell people when they have hurt you without being defensive
11. Fight fairly
12. Advocate for a raise or promotion
13. Say no
14. Trust your intuition
15. Create and stick to a budget
16. Move past fewer and try new things (food, experiences, travel destinations)
17. Cook at least 1 thing well (even if it is Top Ramen or a mean cup of coffee)
18. Recognize when you are being disrespected and do something about it
19. Volunteer
20.  Dress for your body type

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Life Happens For Me Not To Me!

By now, you all know that I am a Lifeclass fan/student. Last night was the season finale of the 6 week touring version of the series and so many things in the lesson stood out for me. The focus was on gratitude and the various ways to move through life from that source.

At the start of this blog, I was working on becoming a better version of myself. I was making a conscious effort to find something to be thankful for everyday and even listing them but it wasn’t taking me out of my depression. Ultimately, I was pulled to volunteer my time to a local charity based on my own life experience. I enjoyed it and appreciated the distraction. Truthfully, I thought the distraction was the reward and the reason for the pull. Now, it has led to something so great in my life that I realize the pull I felt back in 2009 was towards my purpose and not just towards a distraction.

The perspective you gain from looking back at all of that is also something to be grateful for. I can see now that my life has happened in the way that it has to uniquely equip me to help others going through similar experiences. Realizing that has helped me find gratitude for the ugliest experiences and the result is that I’ve moved past fear of judgment and more into my truth.

This was all summed up in a Lifeclass moment for me last night. I feel bad because I can’t remember which teacher made the comment but it formed the title of this post. “Life Happens For Me Not To Me.” The point of it all is that we ALL have experiences that we wouldn’t want to re-live, but if we step out of our pain and look back, we can honestly be thankful for the lessons learned and more importantly for the strength we gained. We become better people and servants by surviving adversity. Being thankful for the opportunity to grow rather than lamenting the pain you felt in the moment frees you from the pain and lets you move from gratitude. When I am feeling victimized or stressed, I am going to try to repeat “Life Happens For Me Not To Me!” like the mantra it is.

I hope this didn’t come off too preachy. Thanks for checking in.

On another note, look for an upcoming post on the things to do and know by 35. I started working on the list as a follow up to my last post and they just keep coming.