Tag Archives: spirituality

Tough week = yoga

20 Aug

This week has been tough so far. Apparently the universe hates me this week. Or my biorhythms are just way off. Who knows. But I decided to do a bit of yoga when I got home to try and clear the brain and body.

I have a subscription to YogaGlo which is awesome. yoga galSo many videos to choose from, so many ways to filter. I chose a basic one for 30 minutes that focused on stress reduction. I’ve used yoga before for that and it’s always worked well for me. I haven’t been in a habit of it for the last year or so. I’m hoping to focus on getting back into it after I get running on a regular basis again. (One step at a time!)

A strange thing happened when I started it today. It sounds weird (although not if you do yoga)…I felt the energy moving. I felt it going into places in my body that have just been closed off and tense. I felt my breathing deepen – far deeper than it has been in a while.

And it’s made me realize a few things. One, yoga really helps me. Even 30 minutes helps me. And two, boy have I been stressed. You’d think running would beat a lot of that out of me but apparently not yet. So I think this weekend, I’m going make a list (yay lists!): what am I so stressed about? And what can I do each day to help counter that?

Besides cocktails, of course. 😉

manhattan-cocktail

A comma makes all the difference

28 Oct

I was struck by something in church on today.

Are you familiar with the Nicene Creed? I think most Christian faiths…or at least a lot of them…use it. Or some version of it. I know the Catholic Church uses it as does the Episcopalian Church.

One line struck me. In the Episcopalian church I go to, one line reads “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.” But in the Catholic church, the line is “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died and was buried.”

Do you see what a difference that one comma makes? And how having it or not can totally change the focus?

In the Catholic’s version, Christ suffered, then died, then was buried. In the Episcopalian version, he suffered death and was buried. The suffering prior to death is almost downplayed. Not really, but the suffering and guilt don’t have nearly the importance in the Episcopalian church that they do in the Catholic church. Christ’s suffering is important, but there is not the strong guilt and groveling.

I like that. I still have a lot of Catholic guilt that pops up. And I don’t like that the guilt is such a strong part of the Catholic faith.

So I’m happy with the Episcopalian church so far. I know it’s not perfect, but it’s feeling very comfortable for me. And I like the church I joined. I’m so happy to be back in a faith community!

Oh, and commas are important in other ways too…

Starting yoga

4 Oct

I started to do yoga in the mornings.

I only do 20 minutes, because I’m not willing to get up any earlier than I already do. But instead of hitting snooze for 20 minutes, I get up and do yoga. Last week I did it on two days, and I’ve done it every day this week so far.

Yoga places are so expensive, and I knew I wouldn’t go to enough classes to make a membership worthwhile. But my friend KB told me about a great website that for only $18 a month, you can use the videos anytime and for as much as you can. They had a 15-day free trial, so I tried it last week. The videos are great! I tried a video that was probably a bit above my level, but I did OK. Kinda like when I did the yoga class with KB before. I have a Facebook friend who is a yoga master, and she said this was a really good website too.

Why am I doing yoga, you ask? Well, I like the stretching and increased flexibility you supposedly get from yoga. I also like the centering and peacefulness it can bring. Plus it will be really good for me as I get old. But mainly, it will really help my dancing. Same reason I work out as much as I do. Which isn’t that much but is much more than I used to do.

So far, it’s going well. I know it will get easier over time – not easy but easier. Let’s hope I can stay with it!

I think I found a church

30 Sep

I tried a new church today, and I think I found the one I want to go to. What a relief.

I’ve been trying a few here and there although not too many to be honest. I wanted to go to one that was in my neighborhood and was Episcopalian. I talked before I think about why I’m not comfortable going to a Catholic church anymore, even though there are a few progressive parishes here. Episcopalian is the close relative of Catholicism, so I thought I’d try that.

I went to the 8:00 service (service? mass? I don’t even know what they call it in the Episcopalian church) today. Right away, I was greeted at the door by the pastor who was very welcoming. The church itself is very old (1881 I think?) and is beautiful. The service was very similar to a Catholic mass but slightly different. The sermon was fantastic and really gave me something to think about.

I’m anxious to try the 10:00 service which has music and is a bit more modern I guess? I’m not actually sure of the difference, and Google is letting me down and not giving me a clear answer on that.

Overall I was very pleased and happy to be there. I left feeling that my soul was fed, which is a great feeling and one I haven’t really felt in a while. I actually can’t wait to go again and take care of that side of me which I’ve been neglecting for a long time.

 

Weekly roundup

24 Sep

Last week, I…

*Had an awesome birthday…with homemade cake!

*Determined that I’m doing really well and am in pretty good mental health.

*Had lunch with a friend from college that I haven’t seen in probably 15 years. It was so much fun catching up. I’m amazed at the woman she’s become.

*Did not go to the gym. Fail.

*Made another great cocktail.

*Had round two of birthday dessert.

Because why not?

*Enjoyed dancing again this week. So glad I’m remembering to have fun with that.

*Went to try a new church. I drove up about 5 minutes before the service, and there were literally 4 cars parked there. No one was walking in. It felt a little deserted, so I didn’t go in. To be honest, it felt a bit creepy. Oh well. The search for a church continues.

*Had brunch with my parents at one of my favorite places.

Beginning to simplify my life

16 Jan

I was really confused on what simplifying life meant.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I asked my friend Brittany at the Gentle Home to write a guest post on it, because she’s been doing this for a long time. Her posts (she actually did two for me, part I and part II) really helped me define it, at least for my life.

To start, I need to focus on my space. Decluttering it. Going through stuff, especially clothes, and purging what I don’t use and don’t need. I started this today by sorting through all the clutter in my room, throwing some stuff and finding a place for the rest. Because most of my stuff is in storage, I don’t have a lot of stuff to go through. But the stuff that I do have here needs some attention. My books are in random piles in the basement. My craft stuff is in bags and different bins in the basement. Because I’ve lost some weight recently, I need to either alter some clothes or donate them.

I need to focus on me again in terms of my physical health. I need to get my cholesterol checked. (I’ve been meaning to do that since August.) I need to – SIGH – get my first mammogram now that I’ve turned 40. I need to work out. And I need to refocus on my eating again.

I mentioned before about my money struggles and how I want to learn to stay totally within budget every month. Doing that will also simplify my life.

I’d like to focus on my spiritual life too. While I haven’t found a church to join yet, I can still pray and read the Bible and try to connect with God that way.

I also realized that part of simplifying life should be really using every moment wisely. To that end, I need to not use the TV for background noise. I do it less than I used to – a lot less – but I would like to not use it unless I had something I really wanted to watch like “Masterpiece” or “The Big Bang Theory”. (Have you been watching “Downton Abbey”? You should. This season is another great one.)

I think I’m coming to the conclusion that a simple life for me means one free of clutter – physical, mental, financial, spiritual. So I will try to work towards that. Do you think I’m on the right track?

Guest post: Thoughts on Living Simply Part II

15 Jan

Guest post by Brittany from The Gentle Home (check out part one here):

I love simplifying. I love cleaning out closets and bedrooms and filling up my car with things to give away to the thrift store. I (and my home) feel lighter, freer and more energetic. Once you begin simplifying, I have a feeling you’ll love it too! Here are my thoughts on how to simplify the different areas of life:

Home
Clutter is anything that does not belong, serves no purpose and has no benefit. In our homes (apartment, dorm or whatever living space you are in) especially, it is easy to store up clutter. We all have those secret places we hide things we don’t want to think about, but it’s time to bring them out into the light! The light is where it is exposed for what it is, whether it benefits and builds us up, or whether it steals life and drains us of precious energy. A beautiful, simple home has everything it needs and is enjoyable to live in. In the Bible, God’s home is often described as His “resting place.” I love that. Our homes too should be places of rest.

To begin to simplify your home, go through an overflowing closet or bedroom. Start creating piles: TRASH, KEEP, GIVE AWAY, or FIX. If you come across something that you want to keep – you must find a place for it in your home! Ask yourself some questions:

Do I need it? Will I use it?

If I want it, where will I put it?

If I keep it, will I maintain it?

Can someone else use it more than me?

If you cannot find any good place where it can be enjoyed or used, there is a good chance it needs to go on to another family who can make use of it. I’ve kept so many things over the years, and finally realized I didn’t need them and didn’t even have a place where they could be enjoyed! It was a little difficult, but now I’m glad; I have much less clutter and another family has a chance to make them a part of their home.

No one has a perfect house all the time – especially me, but we try to make it easy to keep organized. We keep a trash can by the front door to easily sort through junk mail. We have a “to be filed” bin that holds papers we need to file but can’t or don’t want to go through at the time. Because closets tend to attract random “things,” I try to organize them regularly, and I almost always have a “give away” pile going in our house.

This is a process, and sometimes a long one! Don’t lose patience or get discouraged. Go through your house a couple of times a year, at least. Eventually clean out and organize every area of your home, throwing away trash, broken and expired items, shredding and recycling mail and papers, giving away clothes and household goods that you don’t use, cleaning or repairing items and organizing the things you use and love. Don’t forget to go through your cleaning supplies, pantry, bathroom cabinets, garage, clothes closets, coat closets, desks, nightstands, dresser drawers and refrigerator!

Food
Meals ought to be simple as well. This is very helpful on our budget, waistlines and peace of mind. My husband likes simple meals. Usually a protein with a side of vegetables and maybe some bread or potatoes. I have to admit, this used to bother me. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t want to try something new and exciting, but now I see what a wonderful blessing this is! In this country where food is everywhere in abundance and we can have anything our eyes desire, I think we have forgotten that food is for strengthening us in our work and for refreshing us at the end of a long day. It is does not need to be fancy or complicated to be satisfying.

Time
Our time can be spent simply as well. When we slow down we are rewarded with simple joys that many others overlook… Taking a walk or going to the park (even on your lunch break at work!) Noticing the change of the seasons, the birds, the trees, the clouds. Playing with your kids. Watching them learn and tinker with their toys. Catching that sweet smile or loving glance. Cooking a meal from scratch. Investing time to create something satisfying and life-giving. Turning off the TV, radio or phone. Letting your mind and body rest. Learning a new craft. Making something with love. Using your time with a conscious effort not to get lost in the busyness of life.

Budget
I have learned (the hard way!) to be purposeful about my spending. When I go to the store I ask myself “Do I really need this?” Most of the time, the answer is no. I also ask myself:

What can I use instead? Can I make it instead of buying it? Do I already have something like this at the house? Why do I want it? Clearing up the clutter from my spending habits has allowed my husband and I to pay off our debt, save more, and give more. We’ve learned that the true joys in life don’t come from anything we can buy.

These are just some of the more practical ways I’ve learned to simplify my home and life. I am always learning and always growing in this area, and will never really be “done.” Simplifying can be a small project or a big one, either way it restores rest and balance to these hectic lives we often lead, and is well worth the effort!

[Editor’s note: Brittany is a blogger who likes to write about her days as a wife and new stay at home mom. She loves to share her faith, thoughts, crafts, recipes and photographs. The gentle home is all about slowing down, consuming less but having more, and finding purpose in even the smallest things in our day. She has amazing stories and ideas. Check out her blog at The Gentle Home. Thanks, Brittany, for guesting on my blog!]

Guest post: Thoughts on Living Simply Part I: Emptied…to be Filled

14 Jan

Guest post by Brittany from The Gentle Home (part one, watch for part two soon!):

All of us are being filled with something. At the end of everyday we must fill our nights with sleep, and every new day with food and work. There was a time when that was enough – food to nourish, hard work to fill the hours of the day and sleep to replenish. But that simplicity, it seems, has vanished from many of our lives and homes. And about the time we notice the piles of things looming in the corners of our houses, the bills crowding our mailboxes and the time commitments invading our calendar, we cry out for simpler, stress-free lives, wondering if it’s even possible.

This is a busy, modern, complicated world we live in. It rushes and races and is ever on the go. It relentlessly begs us to consume more and more, and is never at rest. But beneath all this hustle and bustle there is a quiet place called contentment. It does not shout for attention or attract with flashy colors. It is often found in the most unexpected places, and only if you are willing to go out of your way, past all the noise, to find it. I believe at the heart of living simply is contentment. A discontented heart will always be striving for more – more things, more money, more recognition, more love, more affirmation, more acceptance and more meaning…But a contented heart is quiet, confident and at rest.

We must remember this when we are attempting to outwardly simplify our lives, homes, closets, eating habits, budget or calendar. The things we can see with our eyes are always reflections of our heart. A discontented heart living in an uncluttered home will find ways to fill it up once again with things that cannot satisfy. And a discontented heart is never satisfied.

In my own life, simple living means slowing down and making a conscious effort not to get lost in always being busy or stuck in the cycle of constantly consuming. My definition of a simple life is this: It is a life that has meaning. God, family, service to others and in that order give my life meaning. My heart can rest because I know my worth comes from my heavenly Father’s love for me. It is a life that has order. Everything has a place and everything in its place and a purpose for everything. This is difficult to accomplish in a world bursting with excess. It is a life that’s inviting. People are attracted to the person whose heart is at rest. It is a life that has joy. True lasting joy and not fleeting momentary fun.

A simple life must also remember to have balance. There will be times of busy outings, events, parties and celebrations. This is, without a doubt, an important part of life. But an over-filled life or home is out of balance. It cannot welcome new experiences, new gifts, or new people into it. There may be physically no room for it, or no mental or emotional energy to sustain it. A contented heart is open and grateful, whether having abundance or just enough.

I think living simply is much more than just knowing how to organize a closet, but many times that is exactly where the journey must begin. In order to embrace all these simple treasures, we must first empty ourselves of many other things that no longer benefit us. That is where simplifying our homes, schedules and budgets come in. It is an outward change that reflects new inner attitudes and desires.

Everyday all of us are being filled with something. What are you filling your life with?

[Editor’s note: Brittany is a blogger who likes to write about her days as a wife and new stay at home mom. She loves to share her faith, thoughts, crafts, recipes and photographs. The gentle home is all about slowing down, consuming less but having more, and finding purpose in even the smallest things in our day. She has amazing stories and ideas. Check out her blog at The Gentle Home. Thanks, Brittany, for guesting on my blog!]

Thinking beyond myself

24 Oct

I read a blog yesterday that got me thinking. The blog was about “think global, act local” and thinking beyond oneself.

As I try to reinvent my life and make it what I want it to be, what am I doing to help the world around me? Am I doing anything? What is my role in this?

Does helping friends count? Part of me feels like it matters to make one person’s world a bit brighter or to help out one person. But is that enough? What else should I be doing?

I try to be environmentally conscious. I recycle as much as I can. I reuse things a lot. I try to buy organic much of the time. Is that enough?

Is it about being part of a spiritual community like a church? I do miss that, but it’s hard to find a new church by yourself.

Or does it require a bigger effort like volunteering? Or is it just a balance between the reality of your life and doing what you can? Maybe the question isn’t am I doing enough but am I doing what I can?

This kinda put me in the thinky place but in a more philosophical way. I need to keep in mind the world around me as I make my life what I want it to be. It’s not just about me; I can’t just look inward and build my life all about me. I need to do my part to help improve the world around me.

And, to keep this from being too serious….

You know you've done it!

A message from the universe

26 Sep

I think the universe is trying to send me a message.

OK, not THAT kind of message!

I checked in with my awesome nutritionist KT today. The good news: I’m still making progress towards my weight loss goal! I was convinced I would have lost ground, but not so! The last few weeks have been a bit crazy so I’ve been off my eating plan. Plus, I’m really good at sabotaging myself. I was talking to her about why that is and some strategies on how to get around it. Step 1: Schedule workouts into my calendar. I’ve been missing them lately due to my schedule being nuts. Maybe treating them like a meeting or a commitment will make me go when I’m supposed to. Step 2: Try not to take one slip-up as validation that I can’t do this.

Which made me start thinking. (Let’s be honest, what doesn’t make me start thinking?)  I realized that while I intellectually believe and know that this eating/workout plan will allow me to reach my weight and diet goals, I think I don’t emotionally believe that to be true. I can look at others, including my friend AW who did this same work, and see that it works for them. I just have trouble believing that it will work for me. So I interpret slip-ups as proof that it doesn’t work for me. I wonder why that is? And how do I change it? It reminds me what my dance teacher says about my dancing: the biggest problem with my dancing is my lack of belief in myself.

Then this evening, I stopped at Cheeky Monkey for dinner and ran into my friend SH. He was telling me about a class he did about 10 years ago at Landmark Education. In this class, he learned about how everyone has stories of their past and that you can change your story and be more open to possibilities in life. He realized that the story is just the story and it doesn’t have to impact you today. The past is in the past…learn from it but don’t let it dictate your future.

Hmmmm. I think these two apparently random conversations are actually part of the universe telling me something. Whatever it is in the past that makes me not totally believe in myself is in the past and should stay there. I need to be more open to the possibilities of what I am capable of achieving. My issues from my past do not need to dictate my future. Sure, I should learn from the past, but I don’t need to let it command how I live my present and future.

So I think this is starting to sink in…very very slowly. I need to remember this message from the universe. I need to believe that I am capable of achieving most anything I put my mind to.

This could be my new mantra.

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