Patriot Day

This morning as we were getting ready for school my daughter mentioned that it was Patriot Day and needed to wear some specific clothing.  This made perfect sense but then she said, “what would be Irish?”.  After asking her about this a little more she told me that her school had encouraged the kids to wear any country colors they wanted to show support for the events of 9/11.

Now I’m not sure what your opinion of this is but I was really impressed.  Way to go school!  I realize that the events of that day happened on American soil, and that this is an American holiday but wow – what a powerful and profound statement.  We are all in this together after all.  It made me feel good to know that in some way my daughter is learning to support people – not a nationality.  Tragedy happens every day all over the world, uniting should be uniting.  Without regard to boarders and race.  I’m paraphrasing a close friend here but we are all put of the HUMAN race and so should act as such.

Last night for the Unity World Day of Prayer, my church shared prayers of peace from every major religion. They were all the same my friends…the people in the world are the same.  We all come from the same Creator even if we call it different names.  We all want love, joy and happiness.  We all want peace.

So this Patriot Day while you honor the events of 9/11 in whichever way you choose remember – this isn’t only an American tragedy….it’s a HUMAN tragedy.  And as a united race we can support and uplift change so these events don’t happen anymore – anywhere.

Blessings

Abundance

I’ve been thinking about this post for a few weeks.  Since I decided to visit a local flea market actually.  I’m sure you have been to a busy place before.  A mall, a parade, a market.  Whatever the place the amount of material there is immense.  I was surrounded by clothing, glassware, furniture, food, jewelry, toys, just to name a few.  This was a place that could be overwhelming and indeed after a few hours I found I needed to find some space.  The colors, sights, smells and sheer numbers were uncountable.

The experience got me to thinking just how much STUFF there is in the world.  Which is interesting as most people (myself included) run on the assumption that their isn’t enough for them.  For whatever the reason the idea stuck with me and I found myself contemplating it for several day.  Have you every really looked around at how much is in existence?  Just look around your house, the material needed to make your furniture, your fabrics (clothing, rugs, curtains), what about the plastics?  What is the plastic composed of?  The glass, the numbers of grains of sand it took to make the glass?!  The food in your pantry?  And that, that right there was what brought up the next thought I had.

How can we have people with so little when there is so much?  Follow through on the thoughts here.  Let’s say you bought a shirt at a store…Target, JCPenny…whatever.  How many shirts just like the one you got were still hanging on the rack?  How many shirts were in the store?  How many stores are there?  Think about the amount of cotton it took to make all those shirts (not to mention any other material it might be made of).  Now let’s take it a step further, how many shirts do you already have?  How many thrift and second hand stores are in your neighborhood?  How can there be that many shirts??

And of course the next question is how can there be people that don’t have shirts?

This is just an example but so far I haven’t been able to think of a single thing that there aren’t huge numbers for.  I can’t understand numbers that large.  Food….yes, there really is that much food.  Distribution is the problem.  This isn’t a new idea and in fact I have read a lot about it from many places.  But this last week or two I became aware of it in a profound way.

In addition to this I have been watching some fascinating documentaries and the shear abundance of our world staggers me.  I’m not sure there is any real purpose in all of this except awareness.  Becoming more aware of exactly what is available makes it easier to remind myself in times of lack to remember, there really isn’t any lack…I just need to be directed to another source.  It’s comforting to remember that when I get stressed or distracted.  And it can be used in lack of any type.  There is plenty enough of everything for everyone.  With that knowledge I can do as Jesus directed John the Baptist to do while in prison, look over the limitation of the prison wall.  See what else is happening and available around you.  Be open to possibility and don’t get lost in appearances….cause there is always enough.  Enough love, faith, hope and yes even food.  🙂

Confessions of an Emotional Junkie

If you are over the age of 25 then you have probably noticed patterns in your life.  We all have them, a way of thinking or doing things that we have just assimilated for some reason.  The details of the pattern are really the only difference.  Where mine might herringbone yours might be chevron, or gingham.  I have found a lot of patterns in my life, some are positive ones that I’m glad I have.  Others are negative and end up taking me down a road I don’t want to be again.  It is a slow and agonizing process every time I discover one too.  I would think that there are probably those of us who wake up one morning with perfectly clarity on their pattern but alas, that has yet to happen to me.  It seems like a never-ending path to find the start of a pattern so that I might choose a different road for myself.

One pattern I am beginning to discover is this emotional addiction I seem to have.  It’s weird to think about actually.  How does one have an addition to emotions, but I can’t find a better word to explain it.  I have a need to feel intensely, good, bad or ugly.  And this is not due to an inability to be emotional.  I am actually very empathetic and emotional.  So much so that for most people I turn the emotion button off and they just don’t see that side of me.  It’s too much to be available emotionally like that to everyone.  But man if you are close to me look out because I feel really deep.  And I think I became so used to those feelings (particularly the negative ones) that I started to create situations where I would keep experiencing them.  Cause you know – that was “who I was” or “what I did” or “what my life was like”.  Do you know what I’m talking about?  Does anyone else out there get this?

I became so accustomed to this emotional roller coaster of a life, from my teens on, that I am finding myself on eggshells without it.  I truly almost don’t know how to react to things right now because they are so different.  And the other thing I have discovered is that with the changes in my life that have removed that emotional high I still find myself missing something.  I’m coasting around wondering what am doing and why am doing it.  I have been in this low-grade depression for a while now and the lack of anything to blame it on is what has caused me to stumble onto this pattern in the first place.

My life – is really great.  I have a great job, fabulous kids, a nice home, enough income to be relatively comfortable, companionship and family.  I’m trying to grow a social circle and am active in my church.  Dude – “It’s a Wonderful Life!”.  So then what is causing this feeling of disconnection?

The only thing I have been able to come up with is that without the drama life is sort of boring.  Stable doesn’t necessarily mean exciting.  So I’m missing the emotional roller coaster.  My relationships without it feel different and so I don’t know how to act.  I’m trying to learn to not be a martyr and so I don’t know how to act.  I’m trying to find real intimacy and love and relationship and it is so different from what I believed it to be…so I don’t know how to act.

I’m struggling.  I will have days when I want to pick up on an old pattern and walk down a familiar road just so I will feel something besides this mild indifference.

But I guess those old patterns are being replaced with new ones.  Like crocheting I just haven’t got the rhythm down for the pattern yet so it feels a little awkward.  But with a stable pattern real beauty is created.  With a slow and steady rhythm fewer mistakes are made.  I’ll keep fiddling with it and know that at some point the new will become more comfortable…and I will know how to act.

My Spiritual Thanksgiving

I know, I’m a week late on this topic which isn’t supposed to be good for bloggers. Timeliness online is critical – but the realization only hit me this morning so what the hell.

I was up early, like 4:30am early, and contemplating my life.  I do that so often it’s a defining part of my personality.  I guess Socrates’ quote of the unexamined life is at least true for me.  I’ve been struggling with depression this last year and this morning I started out with those questions.  We’ve all had them; what am I doing, why am I doing it, is this all there is?  When I find myself drowning in those thoughts I turn to prayer and meditation.  I meditated a long time this morning on acceptance, peace, love.  All those amazing attributes that I find lift myself up.  After awhile I headed downstairs to make coffee and breakfast.  My mind still swirling with thoughts from my time with God and they weren’t necessarily more positive yet.

This is the time where I need to get a little metaphysical and risk opinions.  See, God to me is the process by which life functions.  God isn’t a “he” or a “she” to me, God just IS.  God is process, God is law.  I also believe that all of existence has God in it.  I am expression of God, the rock is an expression of God, the stream, the bird, the bacteria….everything is a unique expression of God.  So at my base level I am God expressing as Jennie, the single mother of 35 living and working in NC.  I also believe that God doesn’t pass judgment, God allows consequences.  If A, B, C happen well then God (natural law) means D will be the consequence.  And of course this is horribly simplified because God is way bigger than anything I can begin to truly understand.

Ok now with that background my thoughts as I’m making coffee went something like this:

God is timeless, there is no time.  Everything happens through Divine order and as such is perfect.  God is the process of life, the how and why of all things.  God allows every form of creation to express through Love.  My deepest self is also part of that process, God, and so I am timeless.  Each moment is as it should be always which means I am always given what I need/want/ask for in a certain sense – right about then I began to pour my coffee.  That’s when this powerful perspective of Thanksgiving hit.  The coffee is an expression of God.  God allowed the coffee to be created, and travel to my home so I could drink it.  And I really love coffee….Wow, Thank you God for the coffee!

That beautiful and simple reminder this morning, which of course also was a gift allowed by God, was magnificent.  I was thankful for my bowl and hot water.  I was thankful for the stove and spoons and electricity.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude for everything.  God, thank you for allowing my expression of you as Jennie, the single mother of 35 living in NC.  🙂  Cause you know what, Jennie is pretty cool.  And I’m honored to be expressing God in this way, as me.

I hope that all of you have similar moments of gratitude in your life.  That they come often and last long.  What a wonderful experience.

Thank you.

 

Labels And Why I Don’t Like Them

Have you ever sat and thought about the labels you use in your life?  I’ve heard it said that labels don’t matter but I have decided that is an all out lie.  Labels DO matter.  We might not want them to but they do matter.  And I hate them….I hate them all.

My life, like everyone’s is full of labels.  Some of my labels include; mother, Christian, autism, introvert, codependent, people pleaser, kind, shy, funny….etc.  My kids have labels.  Labels are how we communicate ideas to one another.  Language is essentially just a complex series of labels made out of symbols that we use every day to explain, interpret, understand and engage with each other every single day.  The problem of course is how our brain uses labels and the limits generated by that.

When I was in school and studying psychology, I had a professor that discussed how the brain organized information.  You may have heard about it; schema?  Well a scheme is basically the map we use in our brains to short cut thinking.  I think of it like little boxes; you have an experience with a person and you notice or learn things about them.  Each piece of data you learn about them is tucked safely away into a little labeled box in your mind; man, woman, mother, single, daughter, white, black, funny, arrogant, and the list goes on.  Each of those boxes has been conditioned with attachments to previous experiences and feelings, some good, some bad, some completely indifferent, and from those attachments and labels we determine quickly what we know about a person or situation.  It happens so fast we are usually not aware of it.  It is way for our brains to be efficient with the huge amounts of information it comes across every minute.  It’s a huge advantage so we can quickly make decisions about safety and other flight/fight circumstances.

Here’s the thing, we forget that people are more than labels.  Even ourselves.  We have an idea about labels; i.e. she is shy so she doesn’t like going out with people.  But that idea isn’t always right; in fact, I’m finding that it often isn’t.  Take a few minutes right now and think of one person you know kinda well…an acquaintance.  Pick one thing you know about that person, it can be anything; the kinds of clothes they wear, their race, their sex, where they grew up, whatever.  Now say a statement about that person you “know” because of that label.  For example: “She lives in a big house so she has lots of money.”  Now, is that really true about them?

Do this same exercise for someone you know really well.  A close friend, spouse or family member.  State a label, they are kind, funny.  Then create your statement.  Is that true for them?  Was it true when you first met that person?  Pick several labels; positive ones and negative ones.

Someone you don’t like?  Is it true for them?

What happens when you do that exercise for yourself?  I’m an introvert.  Introverts don’t like to go out and have a good time – that is not true for me.  I do enjoy going out and having a good time…but wait, I’m an introvert?

My son has autism.  People with autism don’t like to be touched.  But wait – my son would crawl back into me if he could?

I’m sure each person will have a different experience with this but what I found out about myself is that I try to live by my labels instead of allowing myself to just be who and/or what I want to be.  I found that I was acting in some ways because of what I thought those labels expected of me.  I found I was judging myself by those labels and they were definitive.  They were the be all end all of who I was, and in some cases, the other people (and situations) in my life.  And ironically, or unfortunately, finding out that they weren’t right or that I could change them wasn’t necessarily empowering.  It was terrifying.  Who am I if I’m not this??  Right now I’m just scared that I have to take myself out of the boxes.  Boxes are safe.  Labels are safe.  But when we look at our world and we remove labels we must be more vulnerable to learn anything of Truth.  We have to Love (capital L) enough to open ourselves to the possibility that something or someone isn’t limited to the label we have given it.

I want very much to be able to be the person that bravely meets the world that way but right now I just feel like I’m hiding in a corner.  Right now that just looks like a bunch of pain and disappointment and I’ll be honest – I don’t want to hurt anymore.  I’m closer than I have ever been to just turning myself off emotionally to the whole world because I just don’t want to hurt anymore.  I told someone once I didn’t want to live that way, then I hurt again.  I have faith that since my thoughts and prayers have brought me here I will transcend but well, I’m not over the mountain yet.

I would love to hear what those questions brought up for you if you are willing to share.  Maybe we can get rid of the labels together and it will feel less scary.

 

 

Freedom Takes Courage

My children and I spent the fourth of July holiday at the beach this year.  So very different from my Independence Day’s as a child.  What I remember about July 4th growing up are small flags hanging from light posts in a one street downtown area.  There where corn boils in the summer and parades.  I used sparklers and we could see the town fireworks show from our backyard (which by the way, backed into a huge corn field).

This year July 4th was sand and surf.  Small carnival rides like the carousel and Ferris wheel and fireworks on the beach.

We read the Declaration of Independence this year, an idea started from my good friend Andrew Odom, and talked about the meaning behind it.  Why it was important.

All the while the gears in my head are turning and then on church on Sunday our talked focused on how that document can be used as an example of how to make change.  It was very interesting and the impact on my current life was equally interesting.

I imagined what living in that time must have been like.  Not everyone living in the colonies wanted to be separated from England and even those that did, I wonder if they knew what they were in the process of creating?  So many people with different ideas on what to do and after the Declaration was written so many ways to move forward.  The challenges that must have been overcome while something so completely new was brought into manifestation.  It wasn’t just a day of independence or a day of freedom it was a day of courage.

My life is so new…and the challenges that have been overcome to create it are more than I thought myself capable of.  The challenges I still have yet to face, I’m not looking forward to facing them.  Like many colonists, a completely new way of looking at life is staring back at me and I must find the courage to take action to have that life going forward.  I still stand on the brink of something I don’t quite understand.  But I know it is different, so very different I am sometimes afraid of it.  My previous life and ideas stand over me like the King of England and at the same time secret ideas being to gather and make plans for moving forward in a new way.

I think we miss the challenges that must be overcome when change like that happens unless we are living it.  Can you imagine the courage it must have taken to take up that pen and sign your name to a document that said, I will live like this no more?

I am so grateful for that courage in others.  Not only because it brought forth the United States, but also because it inspires me to find that courage within myself.  To take up my own pen (or sword) and say, “I will live like this no more!”.

Go live courageously!

 

Two worlds

I stand in the ocean
Between two worlds.

To my left
A sun. A world of
Light
Happiness

To my right
A moon. A world of
Darkness
Loneliness

I move left and see
Intense heat
Fire

I move right and see
Peace
Refreshment

Puzzled I look to the sky
It is not two worlds
It is one.