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

Advertisements

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.

 

New Home

Wow, what a crazy couple of weeks. The kids and I are very happy to say that we have purchased a home and we moved in the first weekend of October.  The move went really well and I’m very grateful for everyone that was able to help us get settled in.  It’s a small place, a three bedroom townhouse, but Continue reading

My Dog

I have a dog.  Her name is Galaxy.  She is a medium-sized black lab/something mix and we brought her home with us early 2008.  She is crazy…not just crazy, she is neurotic.  She is head shy and doesn’t seem to like men very much.  My guess is she had a heavy-handed male owner for a bit before she was placed for adoption.  She is lazy too.  I have never seen a dog Continue reading

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!

 

Vanity of vanities…

Most people are familiar with that song from The Byrds, Turn, Turn, Turn.  And many people know it is taken almost directly from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.  The lyrics for the song don’t begin until the 3rd chapter of that book.  Have you read the whole book?  It begins, (in verse 2), “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity”.  Depending on your translation it may say futility.  All is futility… not necessarily a hopeful message.  🙂

The text is traditionally thought to be one of the wisdom texts of King Solomon and the entire book, including the chapter that has those popular song lyrics, talks about the futility of live.  I reread the entire book yesterday…I guess I have been feeling futile.  It can be a dry read but if you have never read it, you should.  It is very profound.  A great King who talks about how his wisdom has given him nothing more than any other man because of the futility of live.  We “chase the wind”.  In chapter 1:18 it says, “Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain”.  I think that is where the idea of ignorance is bliss came from.

I find I can relate to King Solomon.  Not that I am wise but that I search for meaning and am not always able to find it.  I ponder questions like; what am I doing, why does this matter and have a hard time finding a satisfying answer.  The reason for that is actually very simple, but no less profound.  And Solomon speaks of it in the text too.  The meaning is to spend as much time enjoying what you have been given for that is all that you have.  Rich, poor, king, slave, man, woman, wise, foolish.  We “all go to the same place.  All [come] from the dust and all return to the dust” (Ecc 3:20).  Good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people and all is futile so don’t measure your happiness against it.  Instead spend your time making each moment as beautiful as you can.  Instead make choices each day that bring you joy.  I guess the trick would is to be aware enough to know what will bring you joy in every moment.

This period of transition I find myself in right now is I suppose a blessing in that I am discovering those things that bring me joy.  It isn’t pleasant really, but I’m certain I will find myself looking back at this time in gratitude.  It’s hard to remember that as I go through my days trying to answer big questions with little answers.  Simple answers.  I suppose that is a good place to start.