the sochi effect

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9e95b9c5460c816b632aab3d6c605c73 it’s time for the olympics. the winter ones, of course. and i’m semi-excited. ok. i’m not really excited at all. but, i know me. and as soon as news networks and twitter and Facebook friends begin posting stuff about the olympics, i will climb on board the olympic excitement train and get all caught up in curling (who knew that existed before the previous olympics?), figure skating, snowboarding, speed skating, and other events. and, as i do every olympics, the opening ceremonies will cause a tear to fall down my cheek. that is always a great moment of global unity, in my opinion.

but, this year, there is much, much more on my mind as well. and, maybe i will not climb on the olympic spirit train…

i suppose you could say that it’s hesitation. and concern. now, i’ve never been to russia so i know nothing about it first-hand. and i try not to judge a country i have not visited because they can be so completely different than expected – in good and bad ways. at least that’s what i’ve experienced. but, i must admit it, i am worried. scared, even. and, of course, i am angry.

right now all of the news seems to be about whether sochi is ready to host the olympics or not. can they handle the crowds? will there be violence or terrorism? on the news today there were reports that the accommodations for athletes are not up to par. the photos they showed were of fairly bare rooms, with toilets that you cannot put toilet paper in. instead, you use the trash can for the paper.

my first reaction to the “sub-par” conditions at hotels and such is this: suck it up. you are in another country and things will not be like they are at home. that’s what happens in different countries. and it is one of the beauties of travel – experiencing different cultures and ways of life, seeing how other people live, discovering and exploring. but, you must do this with an open mind. and with the expectation that things will not be the same. this is an adventure, and you will have stories galore to tell. not to mention, you will learn so much about yourself.

now, there is another issue that hits much more closely to home for me and you all have heard about it, i’m sure: LGBT rights. in russia, it is now illegal to be gay. and, from what i have read and seen, it is completely acceptable to bully, attack, and beat up any gay person or ally. it’s just horrible. ridiculous. and sickening.

and so, i am having a hard time reconciling the olympics (a global, unifying event) being in  this country where not all people are accepted. i could go on and on, but instead, i am going to leave you with a video. a very, very, very disturbing video. it is very graphic, so if you are sensitive, do not watch it. instead, read this article from gq:

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but, if you think you can handle it, here is the video. it is so important for us to be aware. warning! graphic & disturbing!

peace, love, and equality. xx

paradise! (2014′s word of the year).

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it’s word of the year time! and, as you can tell by the title, my word for 2014 is paradise. it came to me one day in december during one of my fika meet ups. it was something i read, a message to me in a random horoscope i picked up. when i saw the word, “paradise” laying on the page, in black and white, i knew that creating my own paradise – as the text suggested – was perfect. it stated exactly where i am in life as this new year begins. then, a few days after christmas i received my “message from the universe” email in my inbox which said this:

“I want you to know, Liz, that I’ve ordered up another year for you. Think I’ll call it 2014. 

I’m going to put most of the same people from 2013 in it, since you all think so much alike. But there’ll also be a few new, very cool cats coming to play – give them some time to grow up though. 

And I’m going to have things start off pretty much exactly where they left off in 2013, for continuity’s sake. Flips folks out too much when I don’t. 

All in all, 365 more days in paradise… and only one request of you: DREAM BIGGER.”

unbelievable, i thought. seriously. the word paradise showed up again, screaming at me that this was my word for 2014. but, i sat with it, not claiming it as my word of the year until the day before new year’s eve…

in order to hammer down and commit to my word for the year, i needed a little self-retreat evening – ‘cuz that’s how i roll. so, on the 30th of december i did just that. thanks to a link from an instagram buddy, i found the perfect material on susannah conway’s blog to help guide me through this process of claiming my word for 2014.

i went into our studio, lit a bunch of candles, got my journal and some pens, and a glass of wine and some music, and sat down for about 2 hours. what happened during that time was a literal letting go of and saying farewell to 2013, and preparing my vision for 2014. and, in the end, it came to be that paradise was exactly the word that fit my vision for the upcoming year.

so much has happened in the past year. so many amazing things have begun, that i felt my soul telling me to grab onto the things that have begun, and dig in. work hard. bring those dreams, which have only begun to peek out of the ground like little seeds sprouting, to fruition – this is the heart of me creating my own paradise.

so, it’s not a new year of chasing new dreams. instead, it’s a new year of working on the dreams which have already begun to come true. it’s a new year of creating that paradise, that way of life that i yearn for and crave. things that only just started in 2013… now’s the time to really make things happen. no more searching and seeking. no more trying to discover who i am (though every day is a learning process and reveals more & more of who we are throughout all of life). no more just being and asking for my soul to reveal its hidden secrets to me. no, now is the time for living. and i mean living life to the fullest. now, is the time to grow and build and become. now is the time to do things.

with a blank slate before me, i have been thinking about what paradise would look like for me this year. i went to handy dandy pinterest and my journal to gather images, words, and symbols that speak to my soul. i suppose it has been my version of vision-boarding. anyway, here are some of the things that i hope to make part of my paradise in 2014:

a wild year.

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a spiritual year.  tumblr_mytb84NEhf1t0zh2ao1_500

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a magical year.tumblr_myt99tcIBS1rp1pulo1_500

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a simple year.tumblr_myk7twl9a31rp1pulo1_500tumblr_m7ru0mxtuZ1qlkvz1o1_500

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a healthy year.

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a wandering year.

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81333fb503c2ab74329829eb27dc94dba passionate year.

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one more thing about paradise: yes, the word inspires and challenges me to make my life exactly how i want it to be… to live the life i want to live and to actively make that happen. but, it is also all about understanding, realizing, and be aware that paradise is already right here, right now. it is within. it is only a matter of opening my eyes, slowing down to breathe and recognize the beauty in the present moment – and celebrating every single day.

so, ultimately 2014 is about creating balance – and that creates paradise. it is a balanced life of staying connected and grounded (and for me that is through mediation, etc.) and staying active (using the inspiration i receive through meditation, etc.) to create the paradise i dream of.

what about you? have you chosen a word or a phrase for 2014? what is it? share with me… let’s inspire each other! wishing you the happiest, most adventurous, and beautiful 2014!

peace & love. xx

my response to your response.

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whoa. i am overwhelmed by the response i have had after telling my story about my experience with the UMC and LGBT issues. you people are truly amazing.

thank you!

more than anything, though, i thank you for sharing and spreading my post – on Facebook and twitter and your blogs. keep sharing! but, not to up my readership, in order to get my story out there in an effort to bring about change. i seriously want to speak up for the other LGBT candidates for minister, ministers, and individuals who also find themselves alienated and confused with their home church. so, i’m going to keep writing and posting as much as i can, in as many places as i can. i am going to do what i can, in my way, to bring about change. i promise that.

as for me, just so you know, i am very satisfied and happy with my life right now. i am not pining away, crying in the corner because i am not ordained. while all that has happened surround my inability to be ordained in the UMC has been painful and difficult, i am so certain of the path that i am on. i have left the idea of ordination behind, not so much because i can’t do it = others have kept me from doing it; but i have left it behind because i have taken time in the past few years to search my soul, listen to the silence, and discern my calling to ministry. and what i have come up with is that i do not feel that i must be ordained in order to do ministry. and that comes from my evolving definition of ministry.

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at one point, a long time ago, i learned about the idea of the priesthood of all believers, which is simply the idea that all people all called to ministry of some sort of another. that each of us have passions, gifts, and things to offer to the world that we can use, and are called to use, to make this world a better place, to spread love. all of us. each of us, you and i, have amazing things about us that make a difference to others. why wouldn’t we discover them and use them? and when we do, then we are engaging in ministry – no matter what: faith or no faith, UMC or any other denomination, religion or no religion.

and, since i believe in the idea of the priesthood of all believers, then i am called to ministry every day, and i take part in doing ministry every day that i am being true to myself – and for me that includes writing, mentoring, talking, listening…

ordained ministers are ministers just like everyone else, in the sense that they are called to ministry. what makes them different (in the UMC point of view) is that they are ordained = “set apart” for a lifetime of ministry. and by that, i mean that they have been educated, supported, encouraged, and felt a call from within to live and serve the church with their entire lives. something that i felt and experienced, up to the ordained part. however, after much thought and reflection (and based on my experiences), for me, ordained or not… i am called to a lifetime of ministry no different from my ordained brothers and sisters. i am called to share my gifts, talents, passions throughout my whole life. even though i may not be “set apart” as someone to work in a church, my ministry is something that exists beyond the church organization. this is just something that i have discerned for myself, i am certainly not knocking ordination or my ordained colleagues. this is simply how i hear god calling me at this point in my life.

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there is one thing that i do want to do, though, that might make my ministry more “professional”. something that i have felt called to for a while now. it’s something that i have been considering since i was in seminary 6-7 years ago. one of my professors brought it up, and it resonated so deeply with my soul, though i had no idea how it fit into my life. and haven’t had any idea how to incorporate it into my life… until now.

i want to seek certification as a spiritual guide/mentor. i want to attend a 2 year program, exploring all kinds of spirituality and counseling techniques, so that i can be certified and able to offer my ministry of presence, writing, and mentorship to others in a more professional setting – even through my own practice, perhaps. as i said, this is something that i have felt inside of me for a while now, and i seriously want to consider beginning a program in the new year. mind you, i am not certain that i want to be connected to any denomination or faith, but i also do not want to just be flying about out there on my own.

so, for now. ordination in the UMC is not possible. and by principle, that is totally not ok. but, it is ok in my life right now. it is also not time for me to consider ordination in another denomination that allows me to be ordained, though many people have suggested that i “switch” churches.

what does feel right is to explore the possibility of becoming a certified spiritual direction/guide/mentor. so, that’s what i am going to do.

and what more can i say to all of you, than, i appreciate more than you will ever know, your support, your encouragement, and your presence in my life and on this blog. thank you from the bottom of my heart and my soul for journeying with me as i seek to be faithful to who i am called to be, learning more and more as each day passes.

LOVE AND PEACE.