Tag Archives: spirituality

Fearless to Forty

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Tomorrow I hit a new decade, a “milestone birthday” as some like to call it.  I turn 40.  Yep, it’s my turn now as I have watched others over the years hit this number and survive the change.  So why is turning the Big 4-0 such a huge deal for our society?  Maybe because when you are entering your twenties or thirties, there seem to be prescribed “rules” as to what needs to happen for your life.  You might get a job, finish college, start a career, get married, have kids, etcetera, etcetera.  But no one really has a prescribed roadmap for your forties.  You are supposed to have already achieved all these other things in your life, right?

I look back on the last decade of my life and contemplate what I feel I have “achieved” as an individual.  And I have to give myself some space for self-reflection.  My thirties have been a ride, let me tell you.  I had babies, lost a parent, discovered friendships, and experienced quite a bit of personal heartache.  But I also learned a load about myself and the person I want to be as I enter into a new phase of life.  When I hit 39, I wanted to wrap up this decade by stretching myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  I called it my #fearlesstoforty journey.  Because I chose to look things I have always “feared” straight in the face, I gave myself the gift of personal growth and new relationships.  I became a part of movements and organizations that have opened my eyes and changed my viewpoints about how I see things in this world.  I grew deeper in my faith with Jesus and let go of what I thought it meant to be “religious.”   

In the last ten years I have learned to let things slide off my back more and to not try so hard to fit into some ridiculous mold prescribed by society.  I take social media with a grain of salt because I know it’s not the end-all, be-all in how I live on a daily basis.  I have learned how to listen to my body; to know when to back off and when to push harder.  I see things through such a different lens than I did when I was 29, I couldn’t ever go back in time and be the same person.  The challenges I faced in my thirties have given me a jump-start to the personal growth many people think they will have when they hit their forties.  It’s like I am painting my own canvas with as many colors and brush strokes imaginable in my mind.    

When we look at our own lives, it’s wise to not try and compare it with others around us because no one life is the same.  We all have our own battles to forage through, and we all respond differently to the environment around us.  But what we can do is look at ourselves as pieces of artwork in the making.  We are journeys of expressions and experiences, hidden diamonds underneath the rubble of life.  And one thing I want to remember as I go forward is to respect and love myself, to not let inner demons try and determine the level of my worth in this world.  Because I know what drives me, what irritates me, what makes me happy, and where I am the most vulnerable.  That, my friends, is what turning 40 means to me.

Cheers!

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Listen to Your Heart

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Okay, I’m not talking about the song by Roxette. I’m talking about, “if your heart could speak, what would it say?”

I think we forget how important our hearts our to our health, and not just in the physical capacity. It’s important in the mental capacity too. The human heart is the beginning for a lot of things in life-how we feel, what we think, the way we live, and even our ability to lead others. When our hearts are out of balance, our entire being becomes out of balance.

This weekend I attended a Christian women’s conference called the “If: Gathering.” This conference covered a lot of areas that affect women, from recognizing our self-worth, to understand our heart, and it was all based within an awe-inspiring spiritual platform that was extremely motivational. Our spirituality, however it presents itself in us, determines the way our heart functions. Spirituality is so important when it comes to listening to our hearts. So this weekend I listened to mine over and over again. I listened to what Jesus was trying to say to my own heart. That I am worth it, that He loves me, and that I need to play closer attention to my heart. I need to do this because everything flows from our hearts. I feel like I need to type this again…EVERYTHING FLOWS FROM OUR HEARTS.

When we guard our heart, we implement a protection mechanism against the world around us. But we also have to be very careful that we don’t shut things off completely and isolate our hearts. How we think about ourselves, or our ability at self-awareness, can change our entire biological make-up. It is the mind-body connection we hear often about from health guru’s like Deepak Chopra.

Have you ever thought about happiness? Did you know that just by being around someone who is a happy person, you increase your own happiness by 15%? And if that happy person you are around chooses to surround themselves with happy people, regardless if you come into contact with them or not, you can increase your personal happiness by another 10%? Crazy, right? But Deepak Chopra has the science to back this after years of studying well-being and the mind-body connection to this concept. So as I sat in this conference for two days, surrounded by people who were filled with the love of Jesus, of course I felt that energy inside me!

Americans tend to hold onto existential happiness, meaning we might feel happy right now in this monument, but we tend to focus on how miserable we could feel an hour from now, or how unhappy we were in our youth. And that doesn’t bode well for the heart because that type of happiness isn’t deep and it isn’t genuine. To change our ability for our hearts to remain healthy, we have to change our thinking. Again, it’s a mind-body connection that can make our break our health.

So what can you do to begin listening to your own heart? The first step is to be open to change. Be open to the idea that you have the power to transform how your brain functions. Nothing is set in stone, and you, my friend, are in the pilot’s seat. Find your spiritual ground and let that love and acceptance pour into your own heart. Never underestimate the power of Spirituality. I never underestimate Jesus, and when I stop and listen, it blows me away how He impacts my heart.

Break negative patterns that bring you down and place a blanket of heaviness over your heart. Negativity and anxiety will tear down a healthy body brick by brick if you allow it. Examine your relationships and find people to be around who are happy. I’m not talking about existential happy, I’m talking about that person that can sense the joy in just about anything. They CHOOSE happiness, and by surrounding yourself within their positive energy, you too can become happier. It’s okay to let relationships go that pull you down. Sometimes it’s the healthiest and safest thing we can do to guard our heart.

Our bodies are information and energy fields, so how we process information and where we place ourselves in life can and will determine our body’s ability to be healthy, balanced, and happy. Loving up on others creates happiness within us; giving attention and appreciation to another person will automatically induce happy hormones within your body. So go out today and just pay someone a compliment out of the blue. See how their facial muscles change in an instant. You will reap the benefits, I promise.

Our hearts are something we need to guard and protect because it determines the path our health can follow. But we also need to recognize when it’s okay to let it open and let people in. Let in love and happiness, find ways to fill your mind with things that will leave a lasting impression on your heart, not just a temporary sense of elation. Once you begin to listen to your heart, I believe you will be amazed by the way your body responds.

Until next time,

Cheers

Cracks of Imperfection

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I love to run outside.  There is something therapeutic and detoxifying about running with nature all around you.  With music pumping in my ears and the wind in my face, a cacophony of melodies one can’t find on a treadmill is suddenly formed all around me.

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The other day I was running, and when I do run I let my mind open up freely to explore all kinds of thoughts and feelings. One thing that kept popping up in my brain was all the cracks and crevices I run beside on the streets.  It made me think of how we, as in our inner self, are cracked in just the same way as that pavement.  Pressures of life often break through our concrete wall of self-assurance and positivity.  We are all imperfect people striving to lead a perfect life, and along the way we acquire some pretty big potholes to show for it.  But there is beauty in those imperfections too.  They are learning curves, they are life experiences, they are tears of pain and joy.  But most of all they are the things that make us who we are today, right now.

Self-Reflection is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves because it permits us to look at those “cracks” we have made over time, see the good, the bad, and the ugly with them, then try and heal from it.  Whatever you see when you look in the mirror, whatever “cracks” you have staring back at you, know that those are teachable moments in life.  They might be mistakes made or things that happen to us which are out of our control.  But remember that Love and Hope are greater powers than Negativity and Self-Destruction.  Know that something higher out there is holding you up (for me that is Jesus), helping you along the way through this crazy thing we call “Life.”

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(Photo by Becca Lavin on Unsplash)

So the next time you see a large crack in the pavement, recognize what it took to get there.  And relish in the fact that, even though the crack exist, the Foundation is still standing strong and holding up to the environment around it.

 

Until next time,

Cheers

The Juxtaposition of Jesus’ Love

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Do you have a favorite wall in your house, apartment, room, or whatever?  A wall that displays pictures, paintings, or trinkets of some kind which hold value to you?  I have a favorite wall in my house.  It’s in my kitchen and I catch myself stopping to look at it every once in a while.  Adorning the wall are pictures of me with my parents, my kids, my husband, and his extended family.  It also has a framed collage of wine labels I have drunk with my dad in years past.  And to round it out is one of my favorite bible verses, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

I love this wall because I feel it describes me, the things I cherish in this world, and the memories I have to hold onto for the rest of my life.  As we are knee-deep in Holy Week, I have given thought to a lot of messages on the love of Jesus and how it is THE most important thing in this world.  And I completely agree with this-I know it to be true. Sometimes it is so hard for our human minds to even fathom that kind of love, but I am learning to trust in it and to follow it whole-heartedly.  I sometimes feel like my children, who learn religion in school every day.  I am taking faith one day at the time, learning to not overwhelm myself.  Not growing up in a house that attended church regularly, sometimes the concepts I hear coming from scripture boggle my gray matter.  So I do this; I journal and flesh things out on my laptop.

I have heard some preach before how things in this world are just that, things.  They are objects we can’t take with us to Heaven.  Spending too much time focusing on them separates us from Jesus because we open ourselves up to harboring love and adoration for simple objects.  And apparently the same can be said of the relationships we hold close with people.  They do not come before our relationship with Jesus Christ.  So as I look upon my favorite wall and gaze on those things I do hold dear in this world, I find myself wondering how am I supposed to separate those loves?  How do I distinguish between the love I have for Jesus and the love I have for my family?  Are they one in the same?  Am I loving one more than the other?  Do I feel Jesus gets angered when we extol love for those blessings He gives us?

No, I don’t think He gets upset, but I do find myself constantly thinking about how I am supposed to reflect upon this notion.  It becomes a cycle, much like the convection cycle my daughter is learning about in science class right now.

This process stirred last night in my head as I again passed by my favorite wall after cleaning up dinner.  And then I realized I am not being forced to choose here.  I am not being forced to love one over the other.  Instead, I am to know that my blessings bestowed on me are given BY Jesus.  It is my responsibility to acknowledge thanks and praise for the “objects,” it is my duty as a parent to raise my children in a Christ-centered home, and it is by grace that I have so many wonderful memories to smile fondly upon, especially when some of those people are no longer with me on earth.  The love of Jesus endures for me because of what He did this particular week.

As I tend to do, I get encompassed in thought and over-analyze myself.  It’s what made me so good at figuring out the meaning behind speeches, books, etc., in college.  But just when I get too close to the edge, something in me stirs and says to “Be still and know that I am God,” so don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.  You see now why that’s my favorite verse because it keeps me grounded, makes me stop and listen instead of barreling ahead with ideas and notions.

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If you are celebrating Holy Week this month, perhaps you can relate to this constant internal struggle when it comes to growing in faith and growing in knowing ourselves.  If not, this can certainly be applicable to other areas of spirituality.  Because, you see, we all have moments in life that make us stop and ponder, no matter what spiritual place we call home.  If we are really looking through the right lens of life, we should see our kismet, or destiny, a little bit clearer.

Until next time,
Cheers

Seasons of Change

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I recently listened to someone talk on how life is very much like the seasons we experience during the year.  They change, and with those changes come good moments and hard moments.  As I sat there listening to this person speaking, I couldn’t help but think about the seasons of my own life and what I learned from each change.  I am about to honor a very tough season of my life, the season where I lost my father six years ago.  February 15 will never be the same for me because my life was altered so drastically.  I can’t honestly say I learned very much during the first few years of that “season.”  I was grieving for the loss of someone I loved dearly and relied heavily on for advice and guidance.  But now that season has passed, the pain has dimmed a bit, and now I can survive the day and smile when I think of all the awesome memories my father and I shared together.

I also thought about the season of entering a new decade.  As I approach 40, I get a little nostalgic about my thirties.  It has been an amazing decade, full of highs and lows that make up the river of life.  But I can honestly say, as I come upon the crest of  a new season, I lived life well in my thirties and I hope to continue to do the same during my forties.  I know the road will have potholes, but there will also be periods of smooth sailing.  It’s life, and not every season is going to be full of promises.

As I sat in my seat and continued to reminisce on days gone by, I felt challenged by my faith to ask myself how God has worked through me and in me during these various seasons.  Was there anything I learned to help others through their own seasons?  Did I find out a little more about myself?  Do I fully comprehend who I continue to evolve into as time marches on?  I may be none-the-wiser based on the triumphs and tribulations which have made up my life, but I do know my own seasons have molded me into the wife, the mother, the daughter, and the friend I am today.

I think we all need to stop and surmise about our life, how we are living it, and what we can do to change things we see wrong.  Let’s celebrate with others when they have successful seasons or shore up those whose seasons leave them crumpled on the floor.  It’s amazing what you can discover about yourself when you engage in a little self-reflection.  Sometimes the biggest epiphanies can happen when you stop and take in the season.

I remember what my father used to tell me growing up; he would say to me, “Sweetpea, life is full of choices.  So make sure before you make a choice you think about how you will feel when you look at yourself in the mirror.  If you can look your own self in the eye and be okay with what you see, then you must be doing something right.”  So, that is how I live each day, keeping myself in check with who I want to see staring back at me as I maneuver through life’s seasons.  What season are you experiencing right now and what are you learning from it?

Until next time,

Cheers