LOVE AND QUICKSAND

heart

 

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Aristotle

 

What else would I talk about this week, but love? As the quote would indicate, love is a practice, not a gooey feeling. But, what kind of love are we practicing? What is excellence in love?

 

Love can be a super- power, because it can erase fear, and not much else can.

Love can be freedom, because it can create an expansion in our spirit and open us to a whole new perspective on the world and a host of unexplored possibilities.

Love and intelligence combined can result in wisdom.

But love without detachment, can be quicksand for the giver and the recipient. Love that is not detached from judgment is entirely conditional, and can make the giver a puppeteer and the recipient resentful. Love not detached from the fact that we are not anyone’s saviors can ruin our health, take us off of our own path and ultimately take our loved one off of theirs. We can’t save anyone from all pain or consequences, even our children. Any and all efforts to do so only result in the erasure of us.

Love with detachment, gives us the ability to be compassionate and forgive. It allows us to love from the appropriate distance, so we don’t get stepped on for putting ourselves between someone else and their destiny.

Love is an attitude, an intention practiced daily, or even more often, to see others as a gift, a blessing, and a lesson for who they are right now at this instant.

 

 

7 WAYS TO TAKE FLIGHT IN YOUR OWN LIFE

flyingbirds

 

 Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you…

Lift up your eyes all around, and see

and be radiant;

your heart shall thrill and exult.

Isaiah 60

 

Image supplied with permission by David Eyestone

 

Thank God my friends don’t treat me like I treat myself!

My friends somehow see the me I don’t see.

Why do so many of us find it so difficult to have compassion for ourselves?

Where do we get the idea that driving ourselves relentlessly towards perfection and flogging ourselves for our failings is the best way to go?

I had to finally break wide open to finally let up on myself and discover that gentleness works. The above quotation is the beginning of the cure for this spiritual malady because it stands in stark contrast to the lie at the root of it all: I AM NOT ENOUGH.

Here are some tools to take the weight off your wings:

 

1) Let yourself take off and soar and realize that the belief that it is wrong to do so, is lie #2. If a loving God created you, then hobbling yourself is denigrating something that God made and loves. Quit judging yourself. It isn’t your job. Fire your inner critic and run him or her out of town.

2) If it is true that nothing can separate us from our loving creator, it must also be true that there is no mistake I can make that will separate me from Him or the flight plan he has set out for me, and if that is true, then a host of wonderful things follow:

  1. a) There is no such thing as too late. There is no such thing as too old. There is no such thing as technologically obsolete. There is no such thing as too young or inexperienced. These things do not apply to your Plan. You can be what God wants you to be, because you already are. He doesn’t make mistakes.
  2. b) God loves me unconditionally and he made me. If that is true, then he has compassion on me. If that is true, then I am deserving of compassion and gentleness from everyone including myself. This concept was so alien to me; I had to teach myself how to do it, with the following exercise. This may seem ridiculous, but this daily practice has transformed me by teaching me compassion and love for myself: I face myself in the mirror every day, look myself directly in the eyes and say, Baby girl, God loves you and so do I. I see you. I hear you, and I will never let you down again.

In other words, I treat myself as a loving Higher Power would. If I was created by something divine, I have a purpose, and am worthy of love and affection and joy right now- not when I finally have mastered Everything.

3) Dare to suck and forge ahead. Redefine success as daily progress, not perfection. I haven’t seen Shakespeare’s first poem, but I bet it probably sucked. Those on their deathbeds regret the things they never dared to say or do, not the things not performed perfectly.

Remember the 10, 000 hour rule. I read a book recently that pointed out that behind each and every singular, supposedly unique success story like Bill Gates or Steve jobs was a common trait: each of these geniuses and stellar successes had spent 10,000 hours practicing and honing their craft before they reached critical mass. None was truly an overnight success story.

So keep going, keep practicing, keep singing, playing, writing or programming. It is impossible to fail as long as you are still learning, growing and trying.

Embrace joy instead of perfectionism. The two are almost mutually exclusive. Leave perfection for living saints, dead martyrs and maybe Martha Stewart. Psychotherapy is expensive and treating yourself like a machine will eventually require a major tune up.

4) Ask God instead of beating yourself up. Even if you don’t believe, ask God to change you, instead of using willpower to try and change yourself. In any event, it takes the fear out of your head, and puts it someplace where you can forget it, pause, and shift your attention to what is great in the present moment.

5) Want to be popular and well loved? The kindest thing you can do for your fellow man is be gentle with yourself. If we are rigid and unforgiving of ourselves, imagine how we might judge others. In any case, the constant ” I am an undeserving worm ” recitations are a pain to be around and, as the philosopher, Dr. Phil says, you teach people how to treat you.

6) The past is just a story we tell ourselves (from the movie, Her) The fact that you weren’t perfect in the past doesn’t mean that you aren’t exactly where you are supposed to be right now. Regret is premature. We don’t know how everything is going to work out. Miracles are the things that happen outside of your carefully prepared plan. Take a forensic look back on your life, looking for God’s breadcrumbs. How many “ mistakes’ and detours turned out to be blessed course-corrections?

7) If God never wastes a hurt, as I was told when I was in a great deal of pain, then maybe C.S. Lewis was right. Pain is the megaphone of God. Might as well ask, what is the gift or the lesson in this situation?

I will never be old enough to stop making mistakes, and if I look back with objectivity, those ” mistakes ” were the catalysts to growth, and a necessary change in direction. Labeling myself unkindly is libeling myself, because it isn’t true. Clipping my own wings, hurts me, doesn’t help anyone else and doesn’t glorify my Creator.

 

 

6 WAYS TO BE RICH EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE

grasshopper on top of world

1. COMPILE YOUR BUCKET LIST NOW– NOT WHEN YOU ARE SERIOUSLY CONTEMPLATING YOUR OWN MORTALITY.  This is the best way there is to discern and get clarity on where your priorities really are and to what hidden parts of you have been denied all of these years. Then, start doing those things now. Guess what? You are now living the dream.

 

  1. REDEFINE “WEALTH” ACCORDING TO PRIORITIES FOUND IN # 1. For me, wealth is discretionary time and freedom. It’s the likelihood and ability to do the things I want to  now, not “when I retire in 40 years.” The truth is our friend, and the truth is that there are no guarantees. Do you really want your life to begin decades from now?

 

  1. REMOVE THE CLUTTER. It affects your attitude and potential. If I hang on to every purchase I’ve ever made, “ because I might need it someday” or “ I might lose everything”, it creates an attitude of scarcity and fear. I’m the worst about this. Every object has sentimental value, but I live in a small house, and if I don’t get rid of the things I haven’t used in a year, my precious living- space becomes an episode of Hoarders. There is another reason: Even though I tell myself I’m a disorganized artist, the clutter affects my mental clarity, discipline, and peace. I don’t want to have to double the size of my house every 10 years simply to store my “ things.” Think of all of the people living in huge warehouse- type houses, who are under water on their mortgages.

 

  1. LIVE A LIFE THAT ALLOWS FOR MORE OPPORTUNITY AND CHANGE. What if the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself today? Could you pick up and go follow it tomorrow?

 

  1. AS A COROLLARY TO NUMBERS 1-4, LIVE A LIFE THAT IS FREE. Debt- free, cage- free, worry- free, clutter free. It’s freakishly weird, but almost every adult in my extended family growing up was a banker.  They all said the same thing: “If  you don’t have the cash to buy it, don’t buy it.” Obviously, I am not suggesting going off the grid.   For anyone not Amish, that could present an obstacle or two.  But, it’s a matter of degree, isn’t it? One or two credit cards may be necessary, but 6-10, may be quicksand.

abundantfruit

  1. LOOSEN THE GRIP. I have my first dime, and my second and my third. I want to be ready for emergencies, so I tend to not spend, even if it might be critical for my long term well being. This stems from the delusion that if I am cautious nothing bad will happen. But, while I’m trying to control everything, I’m not discovering, learning, or living. It helps me to remember that my material possessions aren’t really mine. They come from the Source of Infinite Wealth to be funneled through me to go where they need to go, and eventually replenished. If God doesn’t call the equipped, but equips the called, I will have what I need when I need it, as I continue on my journey of discovery. My job is to stay limber, stay ready and await further instructions:)

 

Do Christians Have Free Speech Today?

daisy-detail

 

I like to live life in the cracks, because that’s where the light comes in.

Leonard Cohen.

 

On this day in 2015, do we have more or less freedom to speak than 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago?  This Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King was a living example of the power of speech, particularly, the power and the right to use speech to protest injustices and inequality.

I can’t help but wonder if there is still freedom of speech when the thing spoken about happens to be religion. Do we still have the right to speak in protest of religious inequality or other practices? With Charlie Hedbo, we saw the dangers of freedom of speech about someone else’s religious beliefs. But, what about Christianity? Right here, today in America, a land that ridicules theocracies, do Christians really have free speech? Are Christians really allowed to speak honestly or even critically about their own religion without losing the moniker of “devout” or “faithful?”

The most common observation my non-Christian friends make about we Christians is that we don’t seem to practice tolerance or grace to each other or even like each other very much. Case in point: the YouTube uproar resulting from a Victoria Osteen sermon. A video clip from a sermon preached by Victoria Osteen seemingly saying, “ come to church for you and your own happiness” was played with a predictably vehement series of responses. She was called a heretic. I’m not surprised that some people vehemently disagreed with her. I even disagreed with some of what she was saying. But, what really caused me concern as a Christian was the vitriolic claims of heresy not because of what she said, but because she was a woman saying it. One YouTube commentator said she was a heretic because the Bible does not allow women to speak with authority over men. So, she was a heretic because she was a woman speaking in a church? 

Another case in point: Rob Bell. The Huffington Post recently ran a great article recounting what happened to him as a result of writing the best-selling book, Love Wins. It recounted how Mr. Bell fell from grace, lost his flock and had to completely re-invent himself after publishing the book. Fellow Christians labeled him a heretic. Heretic? Apparently, Christian commentators did not know what to label him; was he a Christian Universalist or something else? I’m wondering why that is important in a theology that stresses grace?

These two events happened before the cyber- attack pending the release of The Interview, and the subsequent attack on Charlie Hebdo. Where at first, I was concerned, now my blood is running cold.

 ~                                                                   ~

 I have a question or two. Do we find wonder, authenticity, or miracles in rigid dogma? I haven’t. I haven’t found compassion or tolerance resting there either. What about grace, the hallmark of Christianity? Doesn’t grace only occur when we fall short of the absolute rules and someone loves us, anyway? I have been unsuccessfully trying to be as perfect as Jesus all these years, and found these spiritual prizes in the cracks between the dicta, the dogma, the all or nothing commands.

When we decry any work or statement we don’t’ agree with as heresy, aren’t we limiting our own ability to speak out in the future?

Owe no one anything except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Just saying:)

DIGITAL GOD

IMG_2819

He sits on the couch beside me

tending his Digital God.

She stops mid – word

heeding her Digital God.

I schedule my Tweets and Posts

to serve Him or Her,

fearing I’m not fast, witty or prolific enough.

I travel only at the Navigation Minion’s behest:

Siri is a power- lusting bitch.

She leads me to the middle of nowhere then, according to her whims, says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. Did you mean Istanbul?”

The Memo Pad barks its commands

and I spring into frenzy while

the owl outside succumbs to sleep.

I can see it now:

Death by To Do List

I am absolutely in love with Twitter. Nothing but death will part me from it. It stimulates my creativity and my intellect, and I love its brevity and immediacy. One can get involved and informed immediately. But I fight being a slave daily. Without the proper mindset, I become nothing more than the agent of my digital tools.  The  infinite totality of digital access (Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Vine, and all of the others) makes me twitchy and affects my creativity. It says, Hurry Up. I’m never going to catch up- ever. .

It’s like the proverbial Lays potato chip: there is no such thing as viewing only one cat video or vacation photo from someone I met 10 years ago at a conference, at least not for me. I love that I can keep up with friends and family quickly on Facebook. Sometimes getting a window into someone else ‘s life is thought provoking, inspirational, and a blessing. But, it’s like quicksand.

image002As an artist, I need the digital media to get my works and myself out there, but, without balance or a limit, it stops me from creating. Ultimately, it’s what draws me closer to my higher power that must be my treasure and my priority, for, without that link to infinite intelligence, love and creativity, I will be dominated by external criteria ultimately having nothing to do with me. That divine link is sparked by the act of creating, even if no one sees the creation.

It makes me joyous, and that draws me into my ultimate creator’s arms.

So, I’m going on a digital diet. Not a complete fast, just a daily time limit for all things digital.:) If you need to get in touch with me, tweet or call. I’m running a little behind on my e mailJ (5000 unread messages).

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21

 

 

 

DIG

6 SCANDALOUS PRACTICES I’M USING IN 2015

good fireworks

 1) Serenity first and foremost. There is nothing and no one on this earth worth sacrificing my own peace of mind. Getting myself in a mental muddle won’t help anyone or make the world any better. I will engage in any practice necessary to preserve my serenity, no matter how unusual or subversive, including the following:

 

2) Brazenness. I simply will not accept shame from anyone, including myself. Shame is a tactic, not a truth. I’m also going to refuse any guilt that I myself haven’t earned.

3) Keeping an open mind. As unlikely as it may seem, there may be a different point of view even from my most dug- in perceptions and beliefs.

As Voltaire said, I’m going to enjoy my ability to make up my own mind and let others enjoy the dignity of making up theirs. How could I ever hope to earn someone’s respect, if I don’t try to respect his or her thinking and beliefs?

Practicing # 3 will inevitably lead down the slippery slope ending in # 4.

4) I might have to utter the dreaded phrase, ” you might be right.”

5) I’m going to re- learn the now seemingly extinct practices of consensus and compromise, and ask myself, “how important is it?” before endeavoring to assist anyone to get back on the side of the Angels. Am I really sure I’m on the right side? A difference of opinion isn’t a personal attack. The more emotional I am about something, the more likely I am to have distorted perceptions, which may lead me away from the solution or resolution I seek.

6) In law school we learned the rule of reasonableness: what would a reasonable man or woman do in the same situation? It’s kind of bizarre that with all the lawyers roaming the earth, I never hear this word. I’m going to attempt to resuscitate this all but extinct practice, and use it as the criterion in my interactions, instead of my feelings and perceptions.

Who knows what will happen? I’ll keep you posted.

In your small way, you can shake the world.”

Gandhi