Category Archives: My Blog

Salvation is Free

salvation follow jesus and god to be rescued save your soul icon button

I have a number of spiritual friends ranging from Agnostics to Zen Buddhists.

Even though I am a Christian, I respect all their belief systems and hold many of these people in the highest esteem.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a Catholic friend who was telling me about her wedding plans. Her fiance is a lapsed Catholic and in order for them to be married in the Catholic Church, he has to take a lot of classes to gain his needed sacraments to be worthy of having their marriage sanctified by the Church.

As it is, they have two kids already and it’s not enough that they wish to be married, they have to prove they qualify for it.

I came to learn that if a Catholic wished to be married to a non-Catholic, these courses would not be required for that kind of union, but because they are both of the same religion, they must abide by the tedious hours of classwork otherwise it’s considered a ‘sin.’

Because they have children out of wedlock, that too is considered a ‘sin’ and as such, neither is allowed to take communion.

Since her parents are divorced, they [mom and dad], are not allowed to sit together through church services because divorce is a ‘sin’, and you can’t flaunt your sin in church. My friend wonders, what will happen during her wedding since her parents will be in different locations so as not to offend God or the powers-that-be.

To say my mind was blown is an understatement. I confess to not knowing much about the Catholic religion, other than coming to the conclusion that it takes A LOT of work to be one.
Hats off to those practicing Catholics that adhere so strongly to these tenets. I, personally, would have given up a long time ago, seeing the hoops that must be jumped through in order to keep the faith.

Looking at my shocked face, I was asked, ‘Why? What’s it like for Christians? What do they have to do?’

Still reeling, I said the first thing that popped into my head. ‘Nothing…We believe salvation is a gift….A free gift… and all we have to do is accept it.’

She stared hard at me processing what I had just said, then after a short while, she nodded her head and replied, ‘That makes sense.’

Turning to another friend that was half listening to our conversation, they spoke quickly in Spanish, turned back to me and both agreed, ‘That makes a lot sense. It shouldn’t be this hard.’

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No, it shouldn’t.
Salvation is a gift.
A free gift.

And it breaks my heart that such a profound act as taking communion is withheld because one side deems the other unworthy.

It breaks my heart that so many believe a church body has the power to decide if you are good enough, or deserving enough, or faithful enough to be part of that said body.

Yes, I have friends of all persuasions. And of all of them, from the Atheists to the Pagans, Druids to the Wiccans, Jews to the Animists…it has only been those closest to my own faith that break me open repeatedly for various reasons.

In case you didn’t know it,
You ARE worthy
You ARE loved.

Peace be with you.

Who moved my cheese?….(2/04/2012)

who_moved_my_cheese

From the Archives
Who moved my cheese?….(2/04/2012)

Is there something you’re still holding on to?
Is it time to let it go?

My youngest son and I read a business fable called, ‘Who moved my Cheese?’ It was a story depicting four main mice characters living off of a large cheese wedge they find in a giant maze where they make their home.

One day, some unseen force moves it and the tale progresses by showing how each one reacts to this major life change. Two of the characters take this sudden life change in stride and begin the hunt for new cheese, venturing off into the maze to seek out new sustenance.

The other two characters don’t take it so well. They dwell in abject misery for awhile, rail against the heavens, complain, wonder ‘why me?’, and finally one of them makes a life altering decision to enter the maze and start the hunt for new cheese because sitting down waiting to die is no life at all. The remaining mouse refuses to budge because he feels he is owed something for a lifetime of doing things the same way and will not change.

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Last week, I read that Eastman Kodak, in business for over 131 years, declared bankruptcy, owing creditors in excess of more than $658 million. The camera company that was a mainstay in the lives of so many generations had their cheese moved and refused to enter the game to bolster their product and look for a better way of running their company. As a result, smaller, more determined rivals jumped head first into the digital age and gained the upper hand that by all rights should have belonged to the century old business.

Eastman Kodak didn’t see the writing on the wall until it was too late. Now, playing the catch up game only helped push them into debt and then bankruptcy. They held on too long. That’s not always a good thing.

People seem to have an innate desire to stick to their ways even when it fails to serve them. Then we cry out about the unfairness of life and the woes that befall us. Hoping for a change of luck, a celestial bone, an answered prayer….but maybe, just maybe, if we looked for change within ourselves, we would break the cycle of redundancy and move forward with our lives. There is nothing that says we must hang on for dear life to that which is no longer working.

The question for the day: What are you holding onto that no longer serves you and when will you let it go?

Boundaries (2/3/16)

sandheart

I wrote this post several years ago when I was dealing with some ‘stuff.’
I am revisiting it to say I am in a much better place yet the words still hold true and are worth looking back on…

Boundaries pt I…(1/30/2012)

I read an article in an OC magazine about a man whose house is directly on the boundary line of Los Angeles County and Orange County. Because of this discrepancy, he gets his water from one county, electricity from another. Mail is often lost because his zip code denotes one county but the delivery system doesn’t recognize it as the correct county code in which he resides. God help him if he ever needs emergency services. Which county will respond?

His life is in constant upheaval because of this. And while on some levels it could be considered the best of both worlds, living in two great cities, it mostly describes a chaotic system that has no rhyme or reason.

It can be said that without clear boundaries in place, our lives reflect this man’s frustrations. Without clear boundaries, we live our lives in a state of discord.

Cities/states/countries/governments all have clear, concise areas delineated so that order can be maintained. Cross them and there are consequences. We know this. We accept this.

Try crossing a North Korean/Iranian/Iraqi border and those consequences can be fatal.

Trespass, ignore traffic signs, enter restricted areas, it could lead to criminal charges.

Yet, in a society so accepting of these ‘laws’ of order, we find it difficult to apply these principles on a personal level.

We find it hard to tell friends or family, ‘You crossed a line,’ or ‘No! That is not acceptable.’ Why is that? There has to be more than an implied manner of acceptable behavior. But how do we draw that line in the sand without risking the loss of said relationship?

It is not wrong to stand firm and say, ‘I deserve to be treated with dignity.’

Part of my reinvention this year is to find my voice, speak my truth and set my boundaries. I do not know how to do this yet but writing this will hopefully set those wheels in motion.

Here is my line in the sand. It is in the shape of a heart to remind me of what needs protecting. I’ve set my boundaries not to hurt others but to help me.

Boundaries pt II…(1/31/2012)

After careful consideration as to the importance of boundaries and how I wish to define them in my life, I came up with the following.

I will not be spoken to badly. I deserve respect and in return I will speak with responsible consideration to you.

Just because we are related does not give you the right to make unnecessary demands of me or my time….in return, I promise not to do those things to you. (Note: if you are unsure what are unnecessary demands, ask me and I will tell you in love with kindness.)

I refuse to be held hostage to the emotions of others. If I upset you- come to me and we can talk about it. But I will not allow myself to be bullied into an act of contrition because you are upset.

I have the right to protect myself. If that means I have to limit my time around those who are emotionally draining, demanding or needy-Then that’s what I must do. If that makes me appear insensitive in your eyes, well, that’s just how it will seem…to you. I can’t change how you feel or think, I won’t even try.

I have the right to add to or change my boundaries as life dictates. This does not make me indecisive- It means I am open to growth and change. After all, that’s what life is all about.

2016 Word (1/27/16)

welcome

I have written about my word of the year before, (here), and then a revisit of 2015 here, as I looked forward onto a new year.

Last year my word of the year was ‘Focus’.
I was so sure that by choosing this word it would help me narrow in on my aims, while helping me to get my act together.

Unfortunately, that was not to be the case.
2015 found me wallowing through most of the year unable to gather my thoughts into one narrow channel.

No sooner would I focus on one area of my life in need of attention that everything else would fall by the wayside.

I was in the position of a juggler, balancing on a large ball while trying to keep everything else hanging midair.

It was difficult and I was so far out of control that it took most of the year for me to realize- maybe some people can’t be focused.

Maybe the Wild Creatives such as myself cannot tame that spirit within us, that screams for freedom as the rational brain side of us tries shoving it into a neat little box.

How do you compartmentalize ideas that need the open expanses of the ether to breathe?

Once I released the guilt of not following through on my word, (this past December- yes, I am a slow learner), I came to terms with the idea that not everything goes according to plan despite our best efforts.

Keeping this in mind, when my new word surfaced with the new year, even though I was a bit hesitant, I still embraced it because when it works, it works well!

So, 2016 brought with it, ‘Welcome.’

That’s my word this year.

It is a noun, a verb an adjective and an exclamation!
It is an action and receiving word at the same time.
It means to meet, to greet, to receive.

I quietly put this into action at the start of January, and one month in, I am pleased so far.

This year, I welcome new experiences.
This year, I welcome new adventures.
This year, I even welcome new lessons.

I welcome people into my circle of friends which being my typical, wallflower self, has been closed in for far too long.

This year, I will be more engaging instead of retreating into the cozy safety zone of my introverted shell.

This year, I will stretch myself to learn new things, even if it takes me out of my comfortable, little life.

I’m not sure if we are all meant to live BIG lives, but for at least one year out of my life, I can try it on, wear it for a bit and see if I like it.

That is the beauty of the ‘one’ word.

If it doesn’t work out, nothing has been lost, but if it does…think of the possibilities then.

To this, I say, Welcome.

Focus (9/8/15)

focus

My, my, my, where does the time go?

Here we are in the fullness of the year, most of it gone already.

Strange how when you are trying to focus on your life, Life tends to get away from you.

My word of the year at the start of 2015 was ‘Focus’ because that is what I thought I needed, but now it seems, the harder I focus on one area of my life, everything else fades into background colors.

That’s not always a bad thing, but it can lead to things slipping by the wayside that would have been better off being addressed.

I suppose at one point I naively thought all my energies directed in one direction would refract into a colorful prism of ideas bringing some kind of life altering enlightenment.

Yeah, didn’t happen.

Often the things we want in our lives are not the things we need.

I thought I needed focus.
What I needed was a target.

Focus gives laser like precision in a singular direction.
Targets give something to aim for, but can be approached from a variety of directions.

As with most of you, I tend not to learn my lessons until after the fact.

“Experience is what you get when you need it and don’t have it.”

I am a firm believer that our word of the year chooses us, and maybe in January, this was a sound concept, but now, I’m not so sure.

And once again, I am forced to re-evaluate my life and the decisions that have led me to this point.

Some of it is with pride, some of it with regret, but the good thing about my word- I am the one that get’s to choose where I set my sights.

That will be my focus from here on out.

What If…

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What If…[1/13/16]

My husband is an avid comic book collector. When we first started dating, I made fun of him for it. Back then, he didn’t read books but he knew about every Marvel character and story-line ever written.

One day, tired of my mocking attitude, (I’m sure), he gave me a
Dr. Strange comic to read. Oh, my goodness~ It was so complex. I felt as if you needed to be a scientist/physicist/mystic just to understand it, not to mention the need of a dictionary close by for reference defining all the big words used in it. I never made fun of him again after that.
I got it. Comic books are serial novels with amazing pictures that bring stories to life, and have since become a multi-million dollar industry.

Shortly after that Dr.Strange introduction, I started reading them myself, collecting them, making up my own characters in my head. Once you slip into this nether world of graphic novels, you find your own preferences, your own genre that you become loyal to. And there are plenty to choose from.

One of my all time favorites was a series called What If… Basically, the stories would follow a premise of the title using comic book characters in its story-lines, but think of it like this,
What if….We never bombed Japan? or …Lost the Revolutionary War? or …The Russians made it to the moon first? I loved it! The thought of endless possibilities and opportunities appealed to me then and still does now.

When you think about it, our lives could be considered a giant What If question.

What If…. I had married someone different?… Quit my job?…Chose a different career?… Had more kids?…Didn’t have kids? What If… I had paid closer attention to that knocking sound in my car a little bit sooner? Paid more attention in school? Tried harder? Listened better?

Looking over my past, I can see lot’s of areas to ask What If’s about. But it doesn’t stop there.
Turn that spyglass around and point it towards the future. What if….
What If… I couldn’t fail? What if… I was the person I really wanted to be instead of who I am? What if… I wasn’t afraid to take a chance? Pursue my dreams? Live out my passions? Live my life fearlessly?
What if… I embraced life with arms wide open, declaring at the top of my lungs, Here I am! Take my talents! Take my heart! Take everything I am and use it as you see fit? I’m ready!!!!!

what if…?

49 Truths [1/4/16]

face of 49

Today is my 49th birthday. I can remember clearly a time when I thought 30 was old, that as teenagers looking at our parents, we thought they were ancient and that none of us could imagine being anything but the young age that we were.

Yet time seems to catch up with us all at some point and the naivete I reveled in back then has now been seasoned by life lessons I have picked up along the way, mostly as an unwilling or unwitting participant. .

In honor of my venerable age, I have written some [49] of those truths down, that have now become a milestone that I take with me into the future. In no particular order, here they are.

1 Time is never ending yet there never seems to be enough of it, but if something is important enough to you, you will make the time for it.
2 Don’t worry about the ones that don’t appreciate you; Appreciate the ones that do.
3 It’s okay to feel broken. Nobody is perfect.
4 Do not negate the power of anger; It serves a purpose.
5 Little things add up; Everything matters.
6 You are capable of much more than you can even imagine.
7 Deep down, you know what to do.
8 My opinions matter.
9 Own up to your mistakes
10 Never stop dreaming
11 Forgive yourself
12 Keep a journal; It is a written record of your growth
13 Try new things
14 Don’t pigeonhole yourself
15 Do your best to curb your debt
16 Find people that resonate with you; then make time for them
17 There will always be a rainy day, an emergency, an unexpected expense, so try hard to save for the unexpected.
18 Have goals; work towards them; celebrate their completion
19 Make a Want To Do List. Not a bucket list. Not a resolution list. Not a Have to do, Honey do List. But a list of things you Want to do. Then find a way to do them.
20 Read a book. A biography. A classic novel. A graphic novel. Just read.
21 Learn something new.
22 Meditate.
23 Make time for spiritual beliefs.
24 Create something
25 Give thanks
26 Give compliments
27 Strive to be kind.
28 Listen to your body, it’s telling you things you should take note of…
29 Feed your soul.
30 Help others.
31 Observe people, you can learn so much from watching others.
32 Strengthen your weaknesses.
33 Better yourself
34 Speak your Truth
35 Watch your Words
36 Find your balance
37 Rise after a Fall
38 Control your breathing
39 Find a mentor
40 Ask for help
41 Give back whenever and however you are able
42 Receive gratefully
43 Accept your weirdness
44 Life is a marathon, not a sprint
45 Expand your palate
46 Watch foreign films and documentaries
47 Halt the negative, intrusive, internal chatter going on in your head
48 Strive to be kind, especially to yourself
49 Celebrate yourself. All you have done and all you have yet to do.

At the age of 87, Michelangelo spoke the immortal words we all should take to heart.
‘I am still learning.’ At any given time, each of us is the oldest and the youngest we will ever be in our given life times, use that as a stepping board, compile your own list of truths and share your story with others. You may be surprised by how far you have come in your own journey and what your truth reveals. I know I am, and I also know…I am still learning.

I am content

korowai-tree-house-0[6]I AM CONTENTJan, 1, 2016
(Original post, Sun 1/1/12)

Revisiting a post from 2012…These words still hold true today, and I have yet to learn these lessons.

Yesterday, I caught the tail end of a NatGeo show depicting people living in extreme conditions around the planet. I only saw the last two dramas, the final one being a showcase of the Kombai tree people in Papua, New Guinea.

They are the only tribal people left in the world to live in the the canopies of trees.
They use only primitive tools to fell the trees. Neighbors come to help build the new homestead. Everyone works…hard!

When it’s completed, the tribe members carry all their worldly goods plus animals to their new place, high above the earth, where a fire is lit and they settle in.

At the end of the show, the leader is talking to the camera(man), looking out over the view. He is near tears as he looks out from this new vantage point. He says, “Look at this view. Who could want for more?” After a moment of inner reflection, he quietly says, “I am…content.”

I kept rewinding those last few moments. This seemed so alien to me, to be so content; to not want for more. I glanced around at all the “trappings” in my life and admit, I still can’t say those words.

A short while after it finished, my son, Damien (19) came home and I was telling him about this show. He has a way of raising his eyebrows when thinking deeply about something, and when I saw this, I knew I’d struck a chord. He did exactly what I did- looked around, pointed to his Itouch, said, ‘I have this, computer, ‘and this’, cell phone, ‘and this,’ Tom Brady jersey, ‘and this.….And I’M STILL NOT CONTENT!

I haven’t decided if we are unhappy, dissatisfied, malcontents or bad Christians…or are we just being honest as to the kind of people we really are and the conditions we find ourselves in.

Some people have a marker in their heads that say something like: When I make [X] amount of money- I will have made it, or when I lose [X] amount of weight – I will finally be happy with myself, or when I land that next deal, take that next trip, buy that new gadget, afford that next (?) whatever –I will have arrived.

I think of that little tribal man with wonder and hope that I, too, may one day be able to say, “I am content,” and mean it.

I will be adding this to my Life List and ponder it much this upcoming year. Maybe by next New Year’s Eve, I will be able to utter those same words. I have 365 days left to arrive.

Stories

Story

I love stories.
I love reading them.
I love writing them.
I love telling them.

We are all made up of stories. Stories we live out, share and believe in.
The best ones are enjoyed and retold.
The bad ones are buried.

Sometimes, the line between fiction and reality gets blurred leaving us with horror stories we believe to be true, but they are only a hack job in disguise. These stories get embedded into our psyche, taking root as they burrow deeper into the fertile fields of our soul. Like insidious weeds, they intertwine with our central cortex, strangling our courage, our innate talents, our creativity, our spirit and our drive.

Here are some works of fiction I was raised believing in that has affected the trajectory of my life.

~ You can’t do that, you’re a girl.
~ Only rich kids go to college.
~ You will never do better than that.
~ (someone once told my kids…) ‘Your parents could own a home and have nice things too, if they stopped wasting their money.’
~ You need to have more faith
~ Money doesn’t grow on trees.
~ Try being more grateful

The problem with belief systems is that they usually belong to someone else, imparted onto impressionable young minds, ingrained into the consciousness of a culture.

Just because everyone believe it, does not make it right…or true.

Our beliefs are handed down to us part and parcel whether they make sense or not, and in ignorance, we perpetuate the cycle.

It is easy to say; challenge your beliefs, get a new story, break the cycle...but how do you know what beliefs need to be challenged, changed or broken when they have been carefully woven into your being? Where do you start the untangling?

I don’t have the answers but I keep searching.

I am starting by looking at the things that aren’t working in my life.

Front and center, once again, are my finances.

I must ask myself, Why aren’t they working?
Answering this means taking a good, hard look at how they came to be this way and then an even deeper look into the underlying causes that allowed it in the first place.

And this is but one of my issues!

Here are a few more of mine, and some from friends, so I know that I am not alone when I say there is much to work on.

~Hypochondria ~Low self-esteem ~Perpetually late ~The need to correct others ~Always interrupting ~Overeating ~Emotionally distant ~Never satisfied ~Perfectionism ~ A sense of neediness ~Overly critical
(what keeps cropping up again and again in your life?)

On the surface, they may seem like minor infractions, but delve a bit deeper and there can usually be found an underlying cause that gave rise to these issues in the first place.

In my previous life as a dental assistant, people would often come in with a toothache wanting only something for the pain. Try explaining that unless they get to the root of the problem, using only pain killers is like putting a band-aid on a gushing wound. It is only a temporary fix, a stop-gap, until the actual problem is resolved.

I am convinced our internal problems are the same way. Do some mental work, figure where and when these problems began. Face the fear. It is uncomfortable but once it is uncovered, the unweaving can begin. True healing begins from the inside.

As you watch me flounder through my journey, maybe it will encourage you to question what is not working in your life and if there a reason this is happening. What stories have you been telling yourself? Maybe it’s time to start a new book.

I wish you Peace and Light and the Words to write your new story.

Your Own Path

arrows

I am a self-help junkie — At least, I was. For the longest time, I would grab the latest self-help book in hopes that secrets would flow from their hallowed pages revealing how I could change my life, becoming something better than I could ever achieve on my own..

All these books start off the same way. A forward by the author who was in the pit of despair, then the change in mindset to do something about their situation, then the actual change itself, outlining the steps taken to climb out of their hole. Each author took different actions which eventually landed them on the publishers desk, chronicling their journey.

Some of these stories were very good.
Some of them weren’t.
Some helped. Most didn’t.

What has taken me an absurd amount of time to learn is that I alone walk my own path.

Just because something worked for one, doesn’t mean it works for all.
There are many paths up the mountain.

If you are fortunate enough to have been blessed with resources, knowledge and assistance along your way, you are indeed, lucky.

For those not in that type of circle, we must rely on our own wits, scappiness and courage to claw our way out of the hole of our own making before finding our way to the top.

Some swear by the Law of Attraction. It may even work for you and work well, but I have found that wishing and positive thinking only get you so far. The hardcore followers of this would view that statement as me putting too much negativity into the world and not having the right ‘vibration’ to attract good things into my life. I equate that along the same lines as the Christian beliefs that I haven’t prayed hard enough or I do not have enough faith for God to work good things in my life.

Both may be true or both may be merely opinions such as those expressed in all those books I have read. There are many paths up the mountain. Who has the right to say which is the right one for me?

What I have learned is this: You have to do the work!

I finally tired of putting money into the pockets of those selling snake oil promising good returns if I would only follow their formula. If it didn’t work out, I must have done something wrong.

You alone walk your own path.

Many of you may have your own gurus, mentors, and people you admire. I know I have mine. I listen to people. All people. I take heed of the lessons they have learned in their own personal journey and I apply what I can of those lessons to my own life.

Some of your favorites may say some really good things, and some of your favorites, Christian or not, may have chinks in their armour. That’s not always a bad thing. We are all human, but it is something to take into consideration when deciding what and whose dictates you decide to follow.

There are many paths up the mountain. Find the one that is right for you.

Believe me on this one: The road you travel is only as difficult as you choose to make it.

As for me, I am finding that with age does come wisdom but there is also a weariness that seeps in somewhere along the way. It is for that reason that looking for a gentler climb isn’t a bad idea. It may take longer to get where you are going but this isn’t a sprint, it is more like a marathon. Pace yourself.
Just something to keep in mind.

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“Never put an age limit on your dreams.” – Dara Torres, (2008),12 time Olympic medalist, at age 41