dreary. rainy. and full of purpose.

as i click my computer keys, the rain pounds on the pavement outside. it has been doing so for the past 24 hours. it’s cold and dark and dreary. as if spring has gone into hibernation today, just in time for this day of intentional pause.

as you may know, i have been celebrating lent in my own special way – successfully and unsuccessfully. i challenged myself to 40 days of being in a cathedral, but i have not been there every day. what i have committed to, and followed through with, is some time for mediation and prayers for others every day – and i have done that successfully. but, it’s been two weeks since i stepped through the doors of the cathedral downtown. my last day there was during a memorial service for a woman i had never met. (read about it here).

in any case, successful or not, i have learned a lot. and one thing is that, for me, my connection with the divine energy/force/love/god is not found only in a cathedral (which i already knew, but it has become profoundly more apparent to me throughout lent). the days that i was not in the cathedral, i was outside. or with others. or in a time of meditation  by my private altar at home. all that to say, i do not feel guilty for not accomplishing my challenge of 40 days in a cathedral. in fact, i feel more free in a sense. especially after this past week…

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on monday of this week, i started a 21 day meditation series. and, so far, so good. i have intentionally sat down on my amazing pillow (made from a woman’s wedding dress from india), lit candles, and begun a series of meditations on “finding purpose.” to be honest, it was a topic that i didn’t think i needed. but, i did need committed silent meditation time, so figured: “what the heck.” little did i know that this just may be exactly what i need right now.

i realized that i don’t have a specific goal right now, that i’ve been feeling disconnected from myself, ungrounded, undisciplined, and a little bit without direction. i’ve been thinking about money and jobs. and i’ve let my dreams go a little, chalking it up to practicality. i mean, last fall and winter, my life was crazy awesome with all of these amazing dreams coming true. i was making shit happen all over the place.

but, right now, even though there are plenty of beautiful, amazing moments, i’m tired. weary. unmotivated. and, somehow, without purpose it seems.

and then, i started meditating this week… noticing that everyday i was focusing on what i have already within me. security. love. power. happiness. creativity. wisdom. it’s all there. and i’ve known that all along, but i needed to truly meditate on it. experience it, instead of just say it. and, it was these meditations that revealed to me that i am not living in a calm, peaceful state of being right now. and here’s the key thing: that i’ve also been blocking, or holding back, my unique expression of life, of who i have been created to be at this time in this moment. i have failed to live the life that i dream about. 

now, i don’t now why or how this happened. perhaps (most likely) it has been a necessary bit of blah-ness, in order for me to move forward in my journey. all i know, is that this is not me. i am not the person who just sits and wonders what comes next. and i’m tired of being that way. i have a life to live, more dreams to chase. now, it’s time to discover what they are and make some shit happen again.

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today is the day before easter in the western christian church. it’s the last day of lent. to be honest, i just let good friday slide right on by yesterday – without taking part in any death/cross/jesus rituals that have been part of my life for as long as i can remember. and every now and then, for a few moments, i thought about that. but, then i realized that that is not who i am right now. another thing i’ve noticed throughout lent is this move from christianity to an exploration of all religions. now, christianity is and always will be my foundation to spirituality, but right now i need to embrace some other forms of spirituality along with christianity.

in any case, today, unlike yesterday, i have found myself drawn to the christian focus of the day – the day of waiting. of nothingness. jesus is in the tomb. dead. and others are weeping. and we all pause. they journey is on hold. lent is over. but it’s not quite the day of  the celebration of life.

so, this rain that’s falling here in asheville… it’s appropriate. and the fact that i am still in my pjs and in bed writing and reading, as i have been doing all day long… it’s appropriate too.

i soon realized that i was making this day a personal retreat day, which felt perfect. and wouldn’t you know it, i came across a little holy saturday reading this morning that touched me deeply. according to biblical scriptures, joseph of arimathea is the person who took the dead body of jesus to the tomb and laid it there. such a huge task, and this man is only given about 3 sentences in the whole bible. much like a few other biblical characters. he comes, does his thing, and leaves. never to be mentioned anywhere in scripture before, or again.

that got me thinking: just like this man, joseph, who had a specific task and purpose to fulfill in that moment, we do too. and this is exactly what i meditated on this week:

we are each created and living in a particular time, in a particular place, with a particular purpose – to express our unique selves through our true selves. to live an authentic life, expressing our specific passions and gifts and desires.

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and today is the perfect day to reflect on that i realized. in honor of joseph of arimathea who lived out his truth. and jesus, who was willing to die in order to stay true to himself. how am i doing in that department? have i been true to my self? and, if i haven’t could that be the root cause of my unsettledness?

perhaps my disconnected feelings have come from the fact that i have not been rooted in my true self. i talk about it, i write about it, but i haven’t been living it. however, there is no need to worry: meditation has reminded me that everything i need is already within me. the spirit of god dwells within. the universe, the light, the love, everything i could ever need is already with me. it’s just up to me to tap into it and to let it flow freely. because you and i, we are here today, in this specific time in history, to share our lives with one another and to live our lives to the fullest expression of who we are.

“be yourself. life is precious as it is. all the elements for your happiness are already here. there is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. just be.” – thich nhat hanh

yes, today, life is dormant. just like recently, my life has been dormant. but, perhaps, it’s actually just been sleeping; like the winter, simply waiting to give birth to something new.

we pause and wait a little while longer… new life is coming.

namaste.

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lina’s life anniversary ♥

i remember exactly what happened one year ago. in fact i wrote down every single moment in my journal. it was the day that my love decided to take her life back by admitting herself to the hospital for intense treatment of anorexia.

i could not have been prouder. and yet, i was terrified. nervous. sad. and so very scared.

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just 2 years ago, lina was sent to the hospital – committed – because she was dying from this eating disorder that was slowly taking every bit of life from her. but, she somehow managed to fight through those (almost) 3 months in the hospital and came back to life some – though much of it remained a struggle.

last year, exactly one month from today, she and her counselors (and i) decided that it was time for her to go back to the hospital for more intense treatment. she had to get this under control and fight to make her dreams come true – which was to move to asheville and study graphic design. so, we packed her bags and headed over to check her in – knowing what lay ahead for us both. a long, hard fight for lina. and time all alone again for me. even though she did not want to do this, something inside of her was stronger than the disease. and she did it.

we knew that it had to be done. but, neither one of us wanted to be separated. it was so tough to admit her to the hospital, and then leave her there – though i saw her frequently and she was even able to sleep at home some near the end of her treatment. and i can’t even imagine what it was like for her – being stuck there to face her fears and figure out how to live. while she was there, i spent lots of time, sitting with her, watching her do puzzles, and just hanging out with her. but, she did all the work. i suppose i’ll never know the fight that she had to fight – and all that she had to face.

luckily, and amazingly, lina had lots of incredible professional people surrounding her and helping her through it all – challenging her and comforting her. and our dear friend, nicole, flew from ireland to be with me the first few days that lina was gone, so i wasn’t alone. i also relied heavily on this blog as a means to process and help me focus – both last year and two years ago.

it ended up being about two months of treatment in total (from april 12 – sometime in june), just before we moved to asheville, that lina stayed in the hospital. but, she was determined. she fought her demons. she had amazing help. and, with all of that help and pushing, she took her life back.

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so, today i celebrate life – most specifically my love’s life. i cannot imagine living without her – and it came close to that at one point. but, my lina, my amazing lina, kick anorexia’s ass (though she still is recovering and fighting today – it is a lifelong process) and chose to live life. and i’m thinking… if my love can fight her way back to living her dream, and finding happiness and peace within herself, then anyone can do anything.

she is my inspiration. the love of my life. my best friend. and the whole world to me. i am so blessed to be able to share every single moment of living life with her. i’m not sure that i can actually express in words how she makes my life beautiful and meaningful. and i cannot begin to tell you how we have now dedicated our lives to celebrating every single little moment we encounter – i suppose as a way to celebrate how much we now understand about living life to the fullest.

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for us, for me, life has become about those little moments that we find ourselves giggling. about enjoying the simplicity of just sitting together. of soaking up the sun, listening to the radio, riding with the windows down, sipping on a cold beer outside, sharing that first cup of coffee in the morning, dancing around our apartment… just regular, little, amazing moments with lina. that’s all i need to be truly happy.

what an incredible fight. what an amazing person. i am overwhelmed with love and admiration.

congratulations, baby! you have no idea how proud i am of you! xx

you can read lina’s thoughts and reflections on today on her blog…. click here.

wednesday wisdom: rules of living #8

isn’t it amazing how things just happen serendipitously? like they were meant to be? it’s been a fairly regular occurrence in my life that, when there is one thing on my mind, it surfaces everywhere i look, or comes up in many conversations i have. the one message/idea/thought that i seem to be dealing with most at any given moment, just pops up all over – reinforcing that same message/idea/thought. i suppose it has to be a mystical way of the universe at work, combined with my attentiveness to something, that heightens my awareness…

interestingly enough, it happened today when lina pulled today’s “rule of living” out of my cup. if you don’t know what i’m talking about, i have printed off the dalai lama’s 18 rules of living on 18 separate slips of paper & put them in a cup. every wednesday morning, my love pulls one out, and that is the topic (rule) for the day – what i am going to write about on the blog for this wednesday series i am doing on the 18 rules of living.

so, just as i have been battling with thoughts of a being a bit of failure here & there – work-related, dream-related, and cathedral-related (see my cathedral series here), this was the rule that was randomly chosen for today:

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

there’s not much more to say than that, i believe. no matter what mistake has occurred, the best thing to do is to reflect on it. learn from it. reconcile with anyone (including ourselves!). make a change. and move on. aaaand, we must never forget… there is no need to be perfect. we are flawed and imperfect and beautiful just as we are. besides, often our mistakes, and the lessons we learn from them, are the things that make life colorful, exciting, adventurous, and amazing.

now, here are a few other little morsels of goodness to consider:

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now, let’s get on with it, friends! take risks, don’t be afraid, give yourself a break, don’t be afraid of failing, and follow your soul. and, if you screw up, well… then just keep on moving! here’s to you and all of your amazingness!

namaste. xx

40 days in a cathedral: week four.

i was gonna do a whole post on failure and my worries about a potential job getting in the way of my flexible lifestyle. basically, blah blah blah. poor me, poor me, poor me. poor almost 40 year old who has had a chance to chase her dreams and has honestly squandered some of her time – successfully making some dreams come true, but not working her ass off to make even larger dreams come true. all in all, a post about being sad that it’s time to get a “real” job to supplement the dream job. and then, i was going to berate myself for only spending one day at the cathedral last week.

but, then, our friend’s husband died.

in sweden, i worked with an amazing woman, the other minister at the church where i served, who soon became a confidante and a friend. last spring, she had to take a long time off of work because her husband had a bone marrow transplant. he had been in & out of the hospital the previous sixish months, with a disease that doctors couldn’t quite figure out. but, the bone marrow transplant was a hopeful answer and the promise of a new beginning. of course, he had to be isolated afterwards for many months as his immune system rebuilt itself. so, my colleague was home and at the hospital a lot. and in sweden, you are given lots of time of to care for a loved one. needless to say it was very tough for them for the past year and a half.

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last year in sweden, at the same time my colleague’s husband was fighting for his life, my love was in the hospital fighting for her life – for the second spring in a row. i worked throughout her hospital stay, unlike my colleague, but i was able to juggle my schedule and be with her. however, her sickness was a bit different, and staying away while she worked on getting better was the best thing i could do. so, my colleague and i had a lot of worry and fear in common, as our loved ones fought for their lives, while we did all that we could to help them in any way possible. mostly, all we both could do was let the professionals do what they are supposed to do.

last year, my love came home from the hospital and kept recovering. since then, she has only gotten better and better, though some days i know it is still tough. however, she has battled the worst of the monster that is anorexia -and is thriving and living her dream now.

my friend’s husband battled and battled, but has been in and out of the hospital continuously, even after the transplant. unfortunately and devastatingly, he passed away this weekend.

two people. two diseases. two lives. two different outcomes.

my heart is heavy today, and i am reminded, once again, of the shortness and fragility of life. my love could have died. in fact, she almost did die. there were days and nights that i wondered if i was going to lose her. i feared facing life without her – the light of my life, my inspiration, and my everything. but, she survived. and today, we are happier that we have ever been. there are not enough words to express my gratitude.

our dear friend, my colleague, does not have the same ending as i do. and we mourn with her, from afar. i wish i could see her and hug her and offer her words of comfort, or even just my presence. but, an ocean separates us.

what i can do, though, in her honor and in memory of her husband, is to share this message that we all know, once again:

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life is short. fleeting. and we only have one. so, why the hell would we spend any moments of this life complaining, feeling like a failure, being lazy, and/or giving up? why would we not spend every second doing the things that we love the most and being with the people that we love the most? why would we not chase every dream that ever crossed our minds? why would we not spend every single bit of our energy making the most of every single second of life – regardless of what others thought about us?

because, let’s face it friends, life could end at any time. and i want it to be said that i lived life to the fullest, that i made other people happy, that i inspired others, and that i wasn’t afraid of doing something new. i want to live from my soul, be adventurous, try new things, connect with people, and spread my own kind of light in this world. i want to feel, and laugh, and cry, and be excited.

i want to travel. and blog. and talk. and relax. and work. and make a difference. and enjoy my family. i want to eat good food, see beautiful art, experiences different cultures. i want to suck every little bit of life out of life – and live my life with a kind of contagious passion.

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now, back to my cathedral commitment. it didn’t happen this week. i went and spent some time in silence on wednesday. and it was very peaceful. and i thought about each of you who have been a part of my daily prayers and meditations – there are even a few of you who have just popped into my head and i’ve added you to my list. so, while i have not been in the cathedral, my commitment to thinking about you has continued.

but, dear readers, i ask something of you this week… will you keep our friend and colleague and her family in your thoughts this week? i just want to send her all of the love and light and beautiful vibes that are possible – because she is an incredible, amazing, strong, and inspiring woman. but, even women like her have difficult times. we all do.

this week, as i spend my time thinking of you and sending out love to the far corners of the world, i ask you to join me. instead of rays of love this week, i envision a circle of love. i would be so humbly appreciative.

and, you know what? screw that sense of failure i had in the beginning of this post. screw my guilt and worry. i may have messed up, i may not have lived up to my expectations, but those days are over. today is today. and it’s a new day. and i have dreams to fulfill. so, my friends, it’s onward. upward. and forward.

namaste. xx

sensory overload. part 10.

hi folks! i don’t have much time to write today, so i’ll be brief. the past week was quite fantastic with lent beginning and our first european visitors coming to town! they’re still here now = why i don’t have much time to write. i’m spending all my time having too much fun. so, i’ll just give you a post of lots of photos of moments that overwhelmed me and made my soul sing. hope you enjoy!

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wishing you a beautiful week!

peace & love. xx

40 days in a cathedral: week one

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it’s only been three days and i already feel quite settled into my little lenten practice. to read more about how i chose the practice of visiting a cathedral for 40 days in lent read yesterday’s post here.

i’m not really sure yet how i want to share with you all my experiences. i have decided to post every saturday in lent, reflecting on the past week (or in today’s case, three days). other than that, i know nothing. i suppose i will just let it come. i am taking photos every day and spednign some time writing while i am there. so, i’ll let my images and words lead the way, trusting that i’ll know if i want to just share the photos, or if i want to write a lot. it all depends on the experiences and inspiration i feel.

so, let’s get on with the first week!

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day one

i had no idea that this was going to be a 40 day challenge on ash wednesday, my first day. i just went in so i could have somewhere to spend a few moments in silence as a way to mark the beginning of my lenten journey.

IMG_9782it was while i sat in the cathedral, in the silence, and yet part of a community of individuals who had all gathered for one reason or another, that i felt the challenge rise up out of me. it just came to me. and it felt right. so, on that first day, i committed myself to returned every day, monday through friday from now until good friday (april 18).

IMG_9789i also thought a bit about my mortality – which is what we focus on on ash wednesday. it’s a great day to ask some questions:

  • am i living my life to the fullest?!
  • am i living as fully as possible as who I am, true to myself?
  • how should i best live?
  • am i connected to that spirit that connects us all?
  • how can i best be true to me and my calling/destiny/dreams?
  • how can i best love and serve others?

day 2

IMG_9835i arrived midday and there was a noticeable difference. while there was no service going on, there were people everywhere. a few groups of 4 or 5 people. individuals. tourists. it was still silent, but that was a little buzz of activity and voices. it felt very active and alive. i sat down in the pew, but i soon felt drawn to the far left corner down front, a little to the side, off of the sanctuary. i saw candles burning and without hesitation, i gathered my things and went to  this little chapel area.

IMG_9834i was first struck by a statue of a woman. it read “fatima” on a engraving beneath the woman. and then, as i looked around, there were images of women all around me. it felt powerful. holy. divine. i stood in front of the fatima statue for a while, and then moved to a chair in front of an altar. sitting there, i realized that i heard a woman’s voice, singing the lyrics, “no turning back, no turning back.” it was a woman working in a room off of the chapel, someone who was part of the congregation i suppose. i never saw her emerge from whatever room she was in, though. she just sang as i sat by the altar. so peaceful.

i wondered what the message might be that i might be receiving. but, i don’t know what it is yet. i am certain, though, that something will be revealed.

i turned back to the statue of fatima, bowed to her, and then turned and left. completely inspired. knowing that this little corner in the sanctuary is a place i will return to during my challenge. there is much more for me there.

(fatima is a title for the Blessed Virgin Mary based on reported apparitions to three shepherd children at FátimaPortugal, on the thirteenth day of six consecutive months in 1917, beginning on May 13. lúcia , one of the children, described seeing a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun”. it is believed that the visions of mary hold secrets, callings, and inspiration).

day 3

day three was friday. it was very, very quiet in the cathedral. there were people scattered about, but all were sitting, standing, or walking individually.

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my intention was to do the stations of the cross on fridays, but when i sat down, i didn’t think of it… until, I looked forward and saw some white shadow boxes on the walls. turning around, I realized that they went all the way around me, in a circle. and that there were 14. these were the stations of the cross, the story of good friday, of jesus’ betrayal and execution before me.

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so, I got up from my pew bench and made my way down front, looked up to the left and assumed it would be the first station. it was. so I spent about 20 min walking around the circular sanctuary looking up at each one of the 14 shadowboxes. one at a time. letting the story sink into me, open to hearing whatever the universe wanted to say to me.
what I heard in my soul, as I looked at the statues of jesus walking, falling, helping, and walking again, as he was led to his execution was a reminder to never give up, to never give in. in the midst of all of life, to always extend a hand to others, to always love extravagantly. to be true to my calling, to always fight for who i am.

i noticed a man in the chapel to the right of the sanctuary. sitting in a chair, quietly, and alone. as I was at the last station, he got up to leave and I noticed he was crippled, dragging his right leg behind him and unable to use his right arm. he was of hispanic origin. as he made his way down the center aisle to leave, he turned and walked between two pews just to the left of me (I was now sitting in my pew bench again on the right side of the aisle). and then I realized something…

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while I had been circling the stations of the cross, I noticed a crutch leaning up against the wall. i snapped a photo of it because it was so simple and yet so poignant. this man that  I watched, was going to get his crutch on the way out.

I turned back to the front of the sanctuary from my seat and my eyes began to tear up. and it hit me strongly… everyone here is seeking something. we all are seeking something, aren’t we?.
the clock in the bell tower struck 11 and I finished up my meditation time. yes, I have come to seek something myself. I suppose it is to seek to nurture my connection with the divine, which lives within each of us.
today, i feel that i have done just that. and it has been amazing. I walked. listened. watched. felt. i’ve been comforted and inspired. i am certain that these 40 days in a cathedral will be a beautiful gift of inner reflection, which will lead to an outer transformation.

namaste. xx