Collection

Even though I am not a genius or wise guru, I’ve decided to put together a little collection of my favorite blog posts into a book. I’ll probably self-publish with Book Baby or another self-publishing service. It’ll be a while before it’s ready but I’ll keep you updated.

Anyway, what I wanna know is, do you have a favorite post that you think I should include? Message or comment! Thanks!

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Thanks! I won’t.

Yesterday, I did a chalkboard drawing. I do these once in a while ranging from every few weeks to every few months. The chalkboard I use for this hangs in a fairly prominent place in my home and I have to see it a lot, so I often use it as a sort of ever-changing inspirational poster, like a physical inspirational meme.

The drawing I did yesterday was a fairly simple one, I’ve done much more complex ones in the past, with only an open door in the corner and large letters sharing a bible verse.

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Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. ~ Matthew 7:7

I’ve been on a journey, seeking out God for much of my life. I’ve always loved the spiritual world and it’s mysteries. Even when I was little before I met Jesus, I was always looking for the mystical and magical all around me. The world filled me with wonder and I loved it.

For the most part, religion tried to scare that out of me. Religious people want you to love Jesus and forsake the mystery. The mystical and magical seem to have little place in the world of organized religion. This is because, unfortunately, we’ve all been domesticated to think dualistically.

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To a dualistic mind, questions and answers are separate, opposing things. Something cannot be both a question and an answer. In this way of thinking, Jesus is an answer to a question, not both the question and the answer. In this way of thinking, if I have found Jesus, I have the answer not the question.

But, lately, I’ve been trying to shed a dualistic way of thinking. It’s definitely not easy but it’s the direction I’m going.

Dualism, by its very nature, is an “us vs. them” reality. It calls for us to categorize and separate everything in our world, even people. And, honestly, I don’t want to do that to people anymore. I don’t want to try to categorize people and fit them into neat little boxes in my mind. I don’t want to be categorized by others so why would they want to be categorized by me. I know that I am categorized by other people, though, because, by and large, people are dualistic thinkers and they can’t help but put me in a box. But if I can somehow work towards no longer boxing people up in my own mind, then that is what I’m going to do. It’s a work in progress.

And so, on this path, I have decided it is ok to see the mystery of God, Jesus and the Divine, and to appreciate that not only are they the mystery but also the answer to that mystery. And it’s ok if I never have “answers” to my questions. The point is to keep searching and seeking. Because God loves to be sought after just as much as we do. We were made in God’s image, after all.

So I made my little chalkboard drawing, Seek and Find in big bold letters, and I wrote a little caption underneath to sort of explain where I’m at on my journey.

I woke this morning to find a very long comment on my post. An old friend I haven’t seen for years seemed to be in disagreement with some of the things I had said. They disagreed with my use of him/her in reference to God because they believe God prefers to have themself identified with male pronouns. And my friend seemed to take issue with me saying that I was dropping the need for right and wrong, saying, “if we drop the need for right and wrong, morality also becomes murky waters”.

My first thought, after reading all of that, was, “Oh no! I’ve offended my friend. I need to clarify what I meant!” That thought and all the feelings that were tangled up in it lasted about 2 seconds, if that. My next thought was, “No, I don’t.” And I’m still dining on that second thought, hours later.

Mixed into the first thought was worry that my friend was angry, hurt and offended. I don’t believe God has a gender and I don’t believe God cares if we call them he or she or it. When asked by Moses what God’s name was, it replied, “I Am.” I think God is a lot bigger than gender and social construct. God is “I Am”, something outside of name and category. So, in those first 2 seconds, I wondered if I should tell my friend these thoughts. Would my viewpoint ease their obvious discomfort?

I also wasn’t referencing morality when I said I was dropping the need for right and wrong. I simply meant I was dropping the need for me to be right and you to be wrong. I don’t want to leave morality behind. I just want to leave behind my own superiority and start to empathize with people, rather than try to fix them with my own ideas of what is right. So, in those first 2 seconds, I wondered if I should tell my friend what I really meant about right and wrong. Would this help them feel a little better?

But I realized quickly what I was doing. I was assuming my friend was angry, hurt and offended. I was assuming my friend was coming at me from a place of attack. And I realized that I actually didn’t know what my friend was feeling. Maybe they were concerned for me. Maybe they thought what I wrote was an indication that my soul was in danger. After all, I’ve definitely been the person who thought someone’s soul was in danger because of something they posted on social media. If I’m honest, I’m still there more often than I want to be.

And so, I went from feeling attacked and upset to feeling kind of flattered. If my friend was, indeed, simply trying to save my soul, well, I appreciate that. How kind of them! Perhaps, in the eyes of my friend, I am careening down a path that inevitably leads me over a cliff into the abyss of hell. Since they care for me, they are trying to stop me from going to hell. And believe it or not, I don’t find that offensive. I think it’s kind of sweet.

I do not believe my soul is in any danger. I’m not worried that God is offended by what I said on instagram. So, why should I take offense at what my friend said to me? They were simply trying to help.

It’s like when a child comes into the kitchen and their mother immediately yells, “Don’t touch the stove! It’s hot!” The child came into the kitchen to get a treat, not to touch the stove. But the mother doesn’t know that and loves her child and doesn’t want to see her child burned. The child can react two ways. Either become offended and say, “I know not to touch the stove! I’m not stupid!” and storm out without the treat they came for. Or the child can simply appreciate that their mother loves them and say, “Thanks! I won’t,” and continue going about getting their treat. More often than not in life I have reacted the first way and shouted, “I’m not stupid!” and left without my treat. But I’m trying a different approach these days. I’m trying really hard to see the love in situations like this and simply say, “Thanks! I won’t,” and continue getting my treat.

And so, I replied to my friend.

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And now, here I am, telling all of you about this. Why? Well, I don’t think my motives are really all that pure. I’m writing this because I’m really proud of myself. I still haven’t reached the place in my spiritual journey where I don’t need to celebrate personal victories. This is a personal victory for me!

I don’t handle conflict or confrontation well. My normal tactic is to run away. Lol. I’m usually terrible at standing up for what I believe in. I often let others fight my battles for me.

But for several months now, I’ve been working on my conflict resolution skills. I wish I could tell you that I read a great book or listened to a great podcast that has helped me with this, but it’s just not true. Instead, I’ve been trying really hard to stop feeling personally attacked and start trying to see things from someone else’s perspective. This isn’t the first time I’ve had comments from people on my social media that have felt attacking, far from it. But this may be the first time I have switched perspectives so quickly. That is why it’s a personal victory for me.

Normally, when I receive negative comments, my adrenaline starts pumping and I feel scared and worried. It can take days for me to stop thinking about it. It can also take days for me to reply, if I even do. This time, 2 seconds of worry and it was over. That feels really good. It feels good to realize that no matter what my friend was actually feeling when they wrote that, I can still appreciate it and be thankful. Thankful for the care and concern. Thankful to them for taking the time to write to me. And I’m just proud of myself for getting there more quickly than usual. Lol. I hope to someday get to the place where I don’t need to pat myself on the back for handling conflict well, but I’m just not there yet.

So, to my friend, I just want to say, I see that you were warning me not to touch the stove. I appreciate you trying to keep me from getting burned. And to anyone out there, lovingly shouting at me, “Don’t touch the stove! It’s hot!”, I say, “Thanks! I won’t.” And I love you.

 

Triangle

There I was, sitting in Starbucks, feeling really shitty about myself. I was, admittedly, having a wonderful little pity party.  Then a friend sent me a message. They were going through something really hard, something I’ve been through before but it’s been a while. Now, I was hurting for my friend. And I felt so stupid for my self-indulgent little pity party. I just wanted to find a way to help my friend. But there really wasn’t much I could do except offer support and pray.

I wrote the word PERSPECTIVE in bold letters in my journal and underlined it.

Still sitting at Starbucks, I decided to spend a few minutes in prayer and meditation. I grabbed my coffee cup and wrapped my hands around it, holding it sort of chest level and stared off into the distance at a knot in the woodwork. I asked God to help my friend and asked him to speak to me. I breathed in. I breathed out. Then I glanced down at my coffee lid.

I saw a triangle.

This was not a heaven sent triangle. It was just your ordinary, run of the mill, recycling triangle that you see on all recyclable plastic.

But immediately upon seeing the triangle, a spark popped in my brain and I thought, “Everything is a triangle.” Obviously, everything is not a triangle, but what I really meant was, “everything has a cycle and needs balance”.

Then I remembered the time Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment. He said to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. And the second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. I pictured a triangle formed by loving God, loving others, and loving myself.

IMG_4749Every time I’ve ever read those verses I’ve totally seen the “loving God” part and “loving others” part, but somehow I have missed the “loving yourself” part. But it’s right there!

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40

News flash! You can’t “love your neighbor as yourself” if YOU DON’T LOVE YOURSELF!

The idea of loving myself has been evolving for me. To be honest, I have taught against it in the past. (This is why James said let not many be teachers. Because he knew we’d eff it up.) I always believed it was ok to have healthy self-esteem but I thought the idea of putting yourself first was just an excuse to act like a b*tch to people. And maybe that’s the case with some people. But as I’ve come to see, putting yourself first can also be extremely healthy and life giving. As I’ve been on this journey of self-discovery/uncovery/recovery, I’ve been seeing the need to stop doing things that hurt me even if those things help other people.

IMG_4750Sometimes, we do need to put others first, I won’t deny that. There are times when we have the strength, ability, resources, gumption, whatever, that others don’t have and as Amanda Palmer said “if you can, you must”. IF I have it to give, it’s ok to give. And I should give. IF.

But there are certainly times when I do not have the strength, ability, resources, gumption, whatever, and were I to give to my neighbor, not only would I be without, I would have a negative balance. And now I would need someone to come and give to me.

So there are absolutely times when I must be at the top of the triangle.

IMG_4751And even if what I am doing is so very beneficial to others, if I’m dipping into a dry well, I NEED to stop.

These last two years, I have started a class for middle schoolers at church that I then stepped away from. (But only after there were other teachers to take my place. I’m not a monster.) I have volunteered to clean at church and stepped away from that. And my husband and I have led a life group at church that we… can you guess? Stepped away from. I carry a huge amount of guilt about all of these. In all my years, I have not been a person who just stops helping. Usually, I am the person who adds more volunteer work to their schedule.

But I have been dipping from a well that is dry for far too long. And I’m so lucky to belong to the kind of church now that really doesn’t want people to do that. Most of the churches I’ve belonged to have been the kind that believe you “give until it hurts and then give some more”. But the church I belong to now believes in healing and wholeness for everyone. Even if that means stepping away from things for a season.

Back to Starbucks. I finished meditating and put my mystical coffee cup down. I picked up my journal and drew a triangle, writing “self, God, others” in the three corners. I wrote the word BALANCE boldly and underlined it. And I realized that to have balance in my life I must love God, others and myself equally. I must give time and place to each equally, never letting one become unbalanced and unhealthy.

It’s funny how concepts you’ve been thinking about for years (like not dipping from a dry well or having balance in your life), concepts you thought you understood and had some kind of mastery over, how suddenly they take on a completely new meaning and understanding for you in the blink of an eye. It’s funny how, even when you thought you knew what loving yourself meant, you find out, you didn’t completely and you have to keep learning.

Oh well. I’m gonna keep working on myself and my triangle and I guess you, dear readers, get to have a front row seat. Lucky you.

Go out and have a balanced triangle for yourself. Whatever that looks like for you.

 

 

The elephant in my blog

IMG_4672Hello, lovelies! I need to purge my brain. I have things and thoughts I need to share.

Let’s start with the elephant I invited into my blog: dropping “f-bombs” in my last post. I’m sure many of my readers were, frankly, shocked by my casual use of the word “f*ck”, not only in my writing but, also, in my music. Well, the simple truth is, I say that word in my every day life. And if I haven’t used that kind of language in front of you, it’s because I worry I will offend you or that you will judge me.

Most people who know me tend to view me as “the good one”. My sisters even call me that. It’s not my favorite appellation. In fact, I hate it. People regularly apologize to me if they swear or talk about sex in my presence. It is assumed that I am a delicate flower of innocent purity and nun-like piety. (Ok, that’s probably an exaggeration but you get the point.)

That kind of treatment tends to make me feel like an outsider. It’s clear that I don’t fit in because if I did, no one would feel the need to apologize to me. And it tells me that they don’t really know me. If they knew me, blah blah blah.

But, the thing is, I don’t think it’s really their fault.

Not to brag, but I keep a lot of myself hidden. I know I’m not some special snowflake, everyone keeps parts of themselves hidden from others. And, really, there’s no way of knowing how I compare to your average Jane on the street. But if we’re going by feelings – always a good way to go – then I feel like I hide myself a little more than most.

People think I’m “the good one” because the only parts of myself I choose to reveal are tame, neutral, and non-offensive. People know I love Jesus because I reveal that part of myself. And I let them fill in whatever blanks they want to after that. I don’t tell them my true views on certain theological points or politics because those things would offend them and they would judge me. And those two things – offending people and being judged by them – scare me. A lot.

The last thing I posted here was a song called Awkward Kid. It’s not just a song, it’s my whole fudging life. (See what I did there?) I’m really not exaggerating when I say I haven’t had many close friends in my life. In the past, I have tended to be just weird enough to keep people at bay. In school I always ping-ponged between having one close friend and having no friends at all. When I was 12, we started attending church regularly as a family. Church is “supposed” to be a place where everyone is accepted and part of the “family” but let’s be real honest here, that is not often the case. And so, once again, I was on the outside. I was the weirdo at school and the weirdo at church.

But, honestly, I think being the weirdo at church was a good thing for me. I sat alone a lot. And with no friends to distract me, I paid attention. I met Jesus. And I don’t mean, I learned some stuff about him. I had real spiritual experiences. I discovered a connection with the Spirit that hovered over the deep and called life into being. It was good. That part of my church experience stuck.

I also learned a lot of bullshit at church. And still wanting to fit in somewhere in this universe, I learned to talk the talk and act like I walked the walk. I figured out what was acceptable and I tried to present myself to the world as someone who did and said the acceptable things. I learned to hide myself because when I was hidden, people liked me.

A little part of me was always trying to escape, though. The part that swears and likes magic and sex and zombies and tattoos. The older I got, the more those things began to become “acceptable” to “like” by my church friends. And so, if they showed their cards, I’d flash a peek of mine.

I kept the mask up, though, for the most part. If you had spent your whole life trying to make friends only to be too weird to keep them, you would too. You’d make sure you were as tame and neutral and non-offensive as possible. Someone everyone likes.

It’s really effing exhausting, though. I’m so tired. I am still soooo in my head, second-guessing every text message, social media post, conversation, outfit, hairstyle, accessory, reading material, music I listen to, food I eat, word I say, blah, blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah.

For the last few years, I’ve been working hard to do the things I want to do instead of what will win me “least offensive person of the year”. I’m trying to be more authentically me and giving less of a damn if I lose people’s respect or friendship. I STILL WANT IT THOUGH! Curses! I want people to like me, respect me, and think I’m basically amazing. How perfectly banal of me.

I am slowly and painfully removing the mask. I’m still not transparent about all things and I doubt I ever will be. After all, some of this has to be earned. But I don’t want to be so mentally exhausted anymore trying to keep up appearances. I want to just LIVE. I want freedom. I want to feel good in my skin. And I don’t want to wonder if people actually like me or if they just like the mask I’m wearing.

I know as I go through this process I am going to lose some people’s respect and friendship. That really does sadden me. I HATE hurting people. I HATE offending people. And I don’t want to be judged. But I NEED this. I need the freedom this process brings. I need to love myself and feel alive in my own skin.

So let me apologize now. I am truly sorry if I’m not who you thought I was. I’m truly sorry if I hurt you or offend you. And if you are judging me, it’s ok, I forgive you.

All this mask removal is leaving me raw all over. I’m so glad I’m doing it but I know after I hit “publish” on this thing I’m going to second-guess myself, just like I did after I posted Awkward Kid. So if you’re not offended or hurt or judging me, can you please let me know that you love me? And be patient with me. I’m a 38 year old new-born.

 

 

A coffee story with absolutely no point

My office is in our garage. There’s a little side room just off the garage that was originally a workshop but we turned it into a small “apartment” for a while and now it’s just my office. There’s a sink and a fridge and a little counter for the “kitchen”. And it has a very small water heater just for that sink and the bathroom. Since no one lives out there we keep the water heater turned off, otherwise the hot water gets a weird smell from having sat for so long without being used.

There is also a little one cup coffee maker out there for me. (I use the “re-usable” filter pods instead of the single use pods, so you can stop judging.) It’s really nice not to have to walk all the way back into the main house to make coffee.

The only problem I have is that I’m sorta lazy at the end of the day and I will typically just leave my coffee cup on the sink unwashed. So the next day when I want coffee I have to wash the cup before I can use it. And since the hot water is turned off, I have to wash the cup with cold water.

So I’d say I spend a good amount of my coffee drinking time just trying to warm my hands up again after washing the coffee cup with cold water. I’m saying all of this because I just made coffee and even though it’s a nice day and I’m not cold at all, I’m hugging my coffee cup like it’s the dead of winter.

And I’m probably not going to stop doing it.

The End.

Bendable

“Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.”

“What truth?”

“There is no spoon.”

“There is no spoon?”

“Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

I think most people are on a quest to change the world around them. Some people know they are but most don’t. I think most people go blindly through life trying to bend the world and other people around them to their ideals and they don’t even realize they are doing it.

But control is an illusion. It’s impossible to really bend people to our ways. Anyone who can be convinced of your ideals by your persuasive words can be convinced of someone else’s later with their persuasive words.

We must stop trying to bend people to our way of thinking and our ideals. Stop trying to bend the spoon. That’s impossible. We must realize the truth. There is no spoon. Control is an illusion.

Once we let go of control, live and let live, stop pushing and manipulating and bending, the most amazing thing will happen. The world around us will change! The spoon will bend, as if by magic. People will be kinder. There will be more love and harmony between us and our family and friends. Real deep discussions will take place. Love will abound and flourish. The spoon bends.

How did we bend the spoon then since we let go of control and realized it was impossible to bend the spoon?

We didn’t. It was not the spoon that bends but ourselves. The world around us didn’t change. We did. We became more loving which led to more loving relationships. We became more harmonious which led to harmony in our lives. We stopped being judgmental and trying to manipulate and shape people and that led to deeper discussions about real subjects that matter to us.

My plea for myself: stop trying to bend the spoon. Let go of control. Let myself become fluid and bendable, loving, harmonious and accepting of others.

Peace, my friends.