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Showing posts from April, 2018

Rainbows and Relaxation

I'm grateful today for rainbows and relaxation. It rained a lot today and as I was driving home I beheld the most beautiful rainbow. It was a full bow that seemed to cover the entire Wasatch Range.

I thought about how the Bible claims that the rainbow is a sign God gave to Noah as a promise that he would never again destroy the Earth by water. Next time he destroys the wicked, it will be with flames. I wonder what kind of sign he will give his people after that epic event that will be his sign that he won't ever scorch the Earth again?

And I wonder which is worse, drowning or burning? Reminds me of Robert Frost's poem Fire and Ice:

Some say the world will end in fireSome say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate to say that, for destruction, ice is also great and would suffice.
Additionally, the scriptures claim that in the year of the bow, the Lord will not make his secon…

Hamilton

Today's gratitude post will focus on Hamilton because how can I write about anything else? The Broadway play was fantastic! We were able to attend at Eccles Theatre. There is just one funny story I have to tell. It was funny 10 minutes after it happened but quite disheartening at the time of discovery. Long story short, my kids LOVE Hamilton so I told Luke that if he could find us tickets where we could all sit together, I'd buy them. Well, he found them and I went to buy them and the kids felt a little sad that they couldn't see it with their father as honestly, he's the one that first introduced us to Hamilton. I knew that the price of tickets would preclude their father from taking them so I suggested we buy him a ticket and take him with us. We texted and asked him if he'd want to go and told him to grab a ticket for his wife Nicole.

He said he'd check with Nicole and let us know. We decided to hurry and grab the 5 before they sold out, knowing we could add…

Cato and Speech

I'm grateful this morning for the Stoics, particularly Cato's quote about why he rarely spoke. His reply:

I speak only when I'm sure that what I have to say is better not left unsaid. 
Cato's quote reminded me of the Jewish wisdom called The Three Pillars of Speech. Basically, you should only speak if what you are about to say passes the following:

1) Is it true
2) Is it kind
3) Is it necessary

If what you are about to say cannot pass the 3 pillars, then don't say it! These are wise words that I'm constantly trying to remember and apply. Additionally, I loved many other Stoic teachings that graced my ears as I climbed my triple hills this morning on my road bike. It was the first time this year that I pulled out Doc and pounded the pavement.

Another thought I enjoyed was Marcus Aurelias's analogy of the family banquet. He cautioned against the impertinence of reaching across the table to grab the dish of food you want or serving yourself up heaping amounts …

Bikes, Burritos, and Basketball

Today I'm grateful for bikes, burritos, and basketball, and in that order.

I took my foldable bike to work today and it made my warehouse runs super more fun. I was seriously able to cut my time finding products in half. And it was SO fun to pedal through the warehouse. I turned heads aplenty. I was bobbing and weaving between the 30-foot high product aisles and dodging forklifts and workers left and right. Such a blast! One of the things I love about myself is that I do things my way. I had so many people just think I was the coolest and honestly, I wasn't trying to be cool, I was just doing what sounded smart and fun.

Then, after arriving home, Luke and I mounted my Yamaha Zuma and ran errands. It was my first time pulling out my scooter since October. It was a warm day so the cool air felt epic as we cruised to Smith's and Cal Ranch. We had a blast trying to balance all the groceries and supplies we purchased. We were definitely over the prescribed weight limit of 250lb…

Clean Water

What am I grateful for today? Clean Water!

I'm also super grateful I discovered Charity Water. That organization is stellar! I decided to donate $10,000 because that is all it takes to provide an entire village with a well. A well makes it possible for women and young girls to do something other than haul water all day long. Not having to haul water all day means they can go to school. Girls going to school makes my heart sing. And hauling water is only half of it, the water they are hauling is contaminated. They drink dirty water and get sick. So I'm not only excited about helping girls get an education, I'm excited about saving lives!

Charity Water sent us a link to watch an 8 part video series on how our donations help bring clean water to the world (Charity Water 8 Part Video Series).  We have been watching the 5 min clips each night for our family devotionals and they are so inspiring. I decided tonight that I want to give more. I am so enamored with this organization…

Meeting of the Minds

I'm thankful today for my mindfulness meditation mentoring group. It's my cohort that meets bi-monthly to discuss our Power of Awareness course. Several in my group were also accepted into the 2-year Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher Certification Program so I'm looking forward to getting to know many of them better over the next few years.

Anyhow, today we had some extra time to discuss whatever we wanted so I decided to take advantage of the cumulative wisdom and asked if anyone else had found their mindfulness and meditation practice to be a doorway leading them out of their current faith culture. I wanted to know how others in our group were able to negotiate the awareness that there is no one right way and every religion is fundamentally the same? I was especially eager to get everyone's take considering we have a Quaker, a Jew, a Buddhist, a 12-Step Devotee, a Shaman, and who knows what else, in our group. I am keen to know how they are able to remain devout--if…

Baseball and Errands

I'm digging my gratitude posts as it's pretty easy to verbalize what I'm grateful for each day. Tonight, it was all about baseball and errands. Now that I'm not so stressed running multiples businesses, I can actually head to my kids' ball games and not worry about all the work waiting for me at home. I so enjoyed walking with the kids along the park stream and then making small talk as we watched Luke's ballgame. It didn't stress me out too much either that after the game we needed to run to Dick's and get baseball pants, softball pants, and batting gloves. I even picked myself up a new pickleball paddle so I can look less ghetto in our upcoming tournaments.

And when we still needed to stop at Walmart to grab some groceries and face wash, I wasn't worried about time either. Since it was already 8:30 pm, and we still hadn't eaten dinner, we grabbed some frozen burritos (kid's choice) and frozen peas to cook upon our return. We had a blast di…

Monday Night

Monday night is family night, but honestly, every night has always been a family night for us! My kids and I have always enjoyed mealtime and evening games. We play catch, shoot hoops, or go on family bike rides. We always end our night with a family discussion and a word of prayer. But one thing I love that is different now is that I am 100% there. My mind isn't thinking about work. I'm able to leave my office, set the work aside, and be fully home. 
I haven't had that kind of division between work and home life for years. I really miss working from home, but this is one of the trade-offs of going to the office that I'm super grateful for. 
Tonight, we enjoyed pork loin and roasted potatoes, played poison and lightning, rode our bikes to Dairy Queen for dessert, and then came home for a lesson on gratitude. I'm thankful for the Monday night family night tradition and that my family and I have made every night a family night! 

Grateful Realizations

I subscribe to the Mindfulness Magazine and one thing I'm noticing is that serious meditators all advocate keeping a gratitude journal. I have always expressed my gratitude in my thoughts and prayers, but I've never been consistent about writing them down. I imagine keeping a daily gratitude journal would be an interesting experiment. I'm going to keep a daily record for one week--starting today--Sunday to Sunday.  I'll write my daily post about what I'm grateful for and see what comes of the practice.

Today, I'm grateful for my physical health. I have such vigor for life. I love getting outside, walking, running, playing sports, breathing the fresh air, and taking in the beautiful sights. One of my greatest fears has always been becoming paralyzed for I felt I wouldn't be able to "be active" any longer. And while I wouldn't be able to play basketball, run, do yoga or any of those activities in the way that I'm used to doing them, I would …

The Power of Pausing

Have you ever considered the power of pausing? Think of the benefits of pausing before speaking, pausing before eating, pausing before firing off an email, pausing before rushing off to your next activity, pausing before getting out of bed.

These are just a few examples that came to mind. Some of the benefits I imagine each could have for me would be:

Pausing before speaking: I might realize that what I'm about to say doesn't really need to be said. Sometimes I feel like I simply talking to fill the void. As if silence needs to be filled. Silence is beautiful.

Pausing before eating: I should probably practice pausing before each bite. I know I would enjoy whatever I'm eating more. I tend to multi-task when I eat. Many times my last bite is what causes me to wake up to the fact that I just ate. I should stop robbing myself of the experiences of enjoying each and every bite.

Pausing before firing off an email: This would be helpful if it was a heated exchange. Essentially, paus…

Disparity

Why am I so blessed? I'm not sure how to explain the disparity I see. I just visited 3 friends in the ward and I can't help but wonder what determines placement, propensities, abilities, advantages, etc. in this world. Why are some born into poverty with terrible home lives and others born with a silver spoon in their hand? Is it random chance? Is it based on pre-mortal performance?
I haven't found any explanation for current conditions to satisfy my intellect. Nor can I create an explanation that I find acceptable. If there is only one earthly experience for each human being, then it doesn't seem fair that some have better birthplaces and benefits. Conversely, if there are multiple lifetimes, then I'm feeling like I must have been pretty epic because I was born with so many advantages. I'm not a white male, but I am a white woman who was blessed with a loving family, fantastic parents, incredible health, access to clean water, food, education, opportunities, a…

I See You

I ran into Smith's today to deposit a check and on my way into the store, I noticed a man holding a sign asking for assistance. I made a mental note to help him on my way out. As I was driving out of the parking lot, it wasn't convenient to stop--he was on the other side of the road and I was in a hurry to get home, so I drove on by and glanced the other way. Why do we do that? I know why. When we look away, we can pretend we don't see their suffering. And if we don't see it, we are off the hook to help or don't have to feel guilty for not helping. 

Well, I didn't get too far before turning my car around. I wanted that man to know "I see you!" "I see your suffering and your suffering is mine!" I pulled up to the curb and rolled down the passenger side window. I was now close enough to see his cardboard sign that read, "Working on getting my situation worked out." He stammered, "I'm working on getting back to work and I'…

Spiritual Explorer

I'd rather be a spiritual explorer than a spiritual seeker. At least that is what Tami Simon of Sounds True Audio said this morning. I liked her explanation. Seeker implies that something is missing. Explorer connotes a sense of adventure and excitement. Exploring truth also implies that there is a lot of truth to be found and enjoyed everywhere. . . it comes from a place of abundance. Seeking feels like there is a lack of truth and one must scour the planet to find it. It reminds me of the scarcity mentality and seems to imply that there is only one right way. You and I know that this just isn't so. What Sounds True to you, may not ring true for me. Can truth really be relative? Now absolute vs. relative truth is another post for another day. For now, this explorer is headed to bed--to dream up a mix of adventures!

Wellness and Illness

Tara Brach shared a thought by a psychologist who explained the difference between wellness and illness. It boiled down to this: Illness is all about I. Wellness is all about We

We are all interconnected. You cannot separate parts from the whole. This concept of being one was further illustrated by a woman who asked what she could do to help her autistic son. She said it was so hard for her to watch him suffer the pains of rejection and not fitting in with others. She wondered if there was anything she could do to alleviate his pain?

Tara's reply was profound. She said that there is no such thing as individual suffering. We suffer collectively because we are all interconnected.

This thought touched me immensely. The mother of the autistic son, her suffering, and his suffering are mine also to bear. I feel great sadness for him, her, and any who feel socially isolated. Additionally, I suffer for Lindsay, Tyler, and any other being who has battled cancer--my mom, my sisters, my ne…

Street Signs

I'm not sure who controls the street signs over the freeway, but today it made my day when on my way to work I saw the "Go Jazz" and "Zero percent chance of Thunder!"Whoever was so clever to program such a fun daily message, thank you! It made me smile and was a welcome change from the usual "29 deaths so far on Utah roads."

Some reason, whenever, I see the daily death toll, I calcuate how many people were killed first quarter, which leads me to calculate the rolling rate for the remainder of the year. I don't like thinking that by end of Q4, we will have had 126 deaths on Utah's roads. Much better to think of the Jazz walloping the Thunder Wednesday night.

What kind of street sign are you? Do you share daily messages of dread? Or do you send daily messages of hope, love, and fun? I don't want to be a Debbie Downer. I want people who read me to feel inspired.




Don't Confine Me To A Quarter

I just had a thought today as I was on my walk. I was thinking about last Sunday when Tyler and I decided that our sign--after his passing--would be a quarter. You see, one of my favorite songs that Ty's band, Nine Spine Stickleback, sang was about a quarter, an alien space ship, and a call home. Everytime I see a quarter I will think of Tyler and I told him to leave quarters in random places for me to find so that we can continue to communicate with each other.

And then today as I was walking a guy came skating by me on his longboard and I thought of Tyler and how he gave me my epic longboard for my birthday. My mind was then flooded with all the things that remind me of Tyler such as kites, diabolos, juggling balls, pristine hair cuts, classic toys,  CrossFit, rowing, burpees, shoulder presses, Italian food, Italy, pizza, pasta, KickFire and so much more, and my mind screamed, "Don't confine me to a quarter!"

A quarter cannot contain all the ways Tyler will continu…

The Pathless Path

Sometimes I just get strung out on the beauty of certain words in a certain order. I mean how beautiful and paradoxical is the pathless path?

It not only sounds poetic, it feels true. What if there is no one right way? What if all roads do indeed lead to Rome?

I can't help but think that there is some kind of plan, but that may just be because of my cultural indoctrination. I was born believing in a divine plan and it made sense simply because that is what I was told from the day I was born. Quite naturally, whatever a child is told will make sense, until the child grows and starts to question what they've been told. I guess some children never question till they are adults and others accept whatever they are told. I never had any questions or doubts till I--like Truman from the Truman Show--started seeing that everything I had been taught and told was possibly not true or real.

That realization is exhilirating and scary. If what you have always believed is not necessarily so,…

The Wizard of God

This post was going to be titled, The Wizard of Oz, but since I plan to talk about the consuming search for God, I figured the title should be The Wizard of God.

Now I haven't seen the Wizard of Oz for many years, but if memory serves, there is this young girl named Dorothy who ends up in Munchkin Land after a Tornado steals her away from Kansas. Her house crushed the Wicked Witch of the East, which causes the Wicked Witch of the West to swear vengeance. Fortunately, Galinda the Good Witch bequeaths magical red slippers to Dorothy, tells her to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Land of Oz, where the Wizard will help her return to her home. Along her way to Oz, Dorothy meets many friends. The Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Lion, whom she convinces to come with her to Oz so that they too can receive their hearts' desires. In the end, the Wizard turns out to be a ruse and Dorothy realizes she has the power to get home on her own. Equally important, the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow …

Half Measures Won't Due

The title of this post in my mind was Half Measures Won't Do but when I typed it the title came out Half Measures Won't Due. The Freudian slip is revealing so I decided to keep it.

I was accepted into the two year mindfulness and meditation teacher certification training being offered by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. There was an application process, and while I'm pretty sure they won't turn anyone away who is willing to pay, I was pleased that I was offered a place as a "strong candidate."

When I received the notification of my acceptance, I was excited and then I was like, "Do I even want to do this?" I mean I know meditation is beneficial, but I'm more of a yogi than a meditator. I think about some of the retreats and assignments and I'm like, "this just is not my style." But then again, I haven't really ever committed myself to a dedicated meditation practice till now and I may not know nearly enough about the art to decid…

Failure of the Dream

I was reading an article by Amrit Desai wherein he discussed optimal disillusionment. A few paragraphs really caught my eye:

We tend to believe that love ends when dreams are demolished. In reality, the shattering of dreams is the opportunity for the emergence of true love. . . in these situations, what is perceived to be the failure of the relationship is, in reality, the failure of the dream . . those who are committed to spiritual growth are determined to use the failure of the dream as an opportunity to enter into an authentic relationship. 
We all let each other down. Institutions and organizations, like people, can disappoint. Ideally, we get let down softly, gently. This is what psychologists call "optimal disillusionment." It's a gradual process. Not as painful as say "ripping off a band-aid," or some huge, shocking revelation.

I like this idea. Burn down the dream so you can build on reality. Since reality is the truth, why would you want to build your…

A True Teacher

What is the role of a true teacher? I think I know. A true teacher has the independence of the student top of mind. The goal is to get the student to where they no longer need the teacher.

Additionally, I feel a true teacher is free of ego and pretense. They don't want their students to idealize them. In fact, they prefer to be authentic. By being vulnerable and human with their students, they create connection and prevent any disillusionment that would result if the student felt the teacher was perfect and later discovered they are not.

I am a teacher. I have some ego to edge out before I can confidently claim that I am a true teacher. I still enjoy the spotlight and relish admiration. My focus is always on "how may I serve," and helping my students is paramount, however, much pleasure is still derived from being seen as "the expert" and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I appreciate the financial remuneration.

I am going to further explore and purif…

The Shortness of Life

Today we found out that Lindsay's tumors have spread. Considering I spent the evening before with Tyler as he winds up his epic life, I found it no coincidence that I had bookmarked a blog post by Tim Ferris on The Shortness of Life. The thoughts shared by Seneca express these sentiments:

It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well investedIn guarding their fortune men are often closefisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, in the case of the one thing in which it is right to be miserly, they show themselves most prodigal.You will hear many men saying: “After my fiftieth year I shall retire into leisure, my sixtieth year shall release me from public duties.” And what guarantee, pray, have you that your life will last longer? Who will suffer your course to be just as you plan it…

Riding the Wave

I came across an excellent technique for handling difficult emotions taught by renowned psychoanalyst Stephen Cope. The 5 step process is called Riding the Wave and is based on prana and the concept of where attention goes energy flows.

Step 1: Breathe 
The softest of stuff in the world
Penetrates quickly the hardest.
Insubstantial, it enters
Where no room is.                                ~Lao Tzu
When we consciously redirect our attention to breath, we immediately enter the world of energy, of movement, of arising and passing away, of constant change. There is no distance to travel to this world. We are right there. According to Stephen Cope:

Since the breath is the switch that integrates the emotional-prana body with the physical body, conscious breathing opens parts of the body that may have long been shut off from the life force. And when the save of breath moves into these exiled areas, the results can sometimes be instantly dramatic.Step 2: Relax
The goal is to ride the wave, not …

Equanamity

I'm intrigued with equanimity. I want to exude equanimity. For those unfamiliar with what it means, here is the definition:
mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation The author of a book I'm reading talked about how his cat so perfectly displayed equanimity the other day when a dog came charging at it as he was outside on the front lawn. The cat didn't bolt. No, the cat simply sat tall, eyes fixed straightforward. The dog stopped it's charge and skidded to a stop with his front paws in the face of such equanimity. Tail tucked, the dog wheeled around and darted for home.

That, my friends, is the power of equanimity. The dog was taken aback by the cat's majestic response. Cat's aren't supposed to exhibit such coolness of character in the face of threat. Because the dog expected the cat to turn tail and run, he didn't know what to do when the cat didn't react instinctively.  We too, like that cool cat, can s…

Transcending vs. Embracing

I'm trying to decide what the balance between transcending and embracing should be? I mean if our purpose is to fully embrace and experience life, then do we really want to transcend our experiences? I would think it would be better to relish the experience rather than try to escape or overcome it? For example, when I gashed open my shin, I told myself it wasn't pain. I used my mind to "transcend" the experience. I told myself that the surge of sensation I was feeling in my shin was simply that, sensation. I was really amazed at how effective this method was in helping me deal with the pain. But now, I'm wondering if the same effect could be had by coming at the pain another way? What if, in this shin situation, instead of seeking to minimize the pain, I had instead moved toward the pain? Could looking pain in the eyes and embracing it with open curiosity have been equally effective in helping me deal with the pain?

Why do we immediately assume pain is bad and to…

Mistaken Meditation

I was reading some words of wisdom from the Buddha tonight wherein he used the image of a boat to describe the role of meditation. To him, the meditation practice is the boat that helps us cross the river of delusion, the river of suffering. When it the boat brings us to the other side, we can safely discard it:
The boat is not the opposite shore--it is just the vehicle we use to get there. How many have mistaken meditation as the end game? How many of us confuse means and ends? Perhaps it's helpful to see meditation, prayer, scripture study, sutras, mantras, chanting, ordinances, tithing, and oblations--to name a few--as transitional objects. Sacred observances we cling to as they work their marvelous wonder--we become wholly transformed. The scriptures we so diligently studied, the mantras we so religiously chanted, we become them. Like a boat, they've carried us to our destination and they are ever with us. They are our being, no longer our doing.

Cognitive Dissonance

Tonight I taught my children about cognitive dissonance. I asked them to tell me what they thought it meant. They correctly deduced that "cognitive" had to do with the brain and dissonance had to do with sound. I told them that they were on to something as dissonance in music occurs when chords clash or the playing of non-harmonious notes.With that, I was able to help them understand that cognitive dissonance occurs when your thoughts and actions are not in harmony. Basically, you will experience cognitive dissonance when your behavior and your beliefs do not align.

For example, if you believe that stealing is wrong, when you steal, you will feel wrong. If you believe you should go to church on Sunday, you will feel bad if you find yourself not in church on Sunday. Obviously, no one wants to experience cognitive dissonance as it doesn't feel good. So how do you eliminate cognitive dissonance? It's simple. You either change your belief or your change your behavior so …

Living in Mystery

What if not knowing is the greatest gift God has given to man? Consider with me these words penned by one of my favorite female poets, Emily Dickinson:

The deepest need of man, is for the unknown--for which we never think to thank God. Pair that thought with these, penned by the same insightful hand:
Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea,
Past the houses--past the headlands--
Into deep Eternity--  Bred As we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand,
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?  The divine quest is the best, and truly intoxicating. I love the idea that living in mystery is all part of the Divine cosmic plan. Were we to know with absolute certainty, sailing for distant shores would surely lose its allure.

So off into Eternity, goes my inland soul to sea--replacing all my egocentric sailings with the currents of divine humanity.

Reincarnation

I know I've written about this before, but I really do like the idea of reincarnation. Here's something striking I just discovered: Reincarnation was once an accepted belief of the Christian church. The only reason they got rid of the doctrine is that the leaders feared it would weaken their ability to command obedience in their members. If Christians believed that they had multiple lifetimes to work out their salvation, then perhaps they'd be less motivated to strive for perfection in this one?

Here is the section that blew my mind from the "Autobiography of a Yogi:"

The early Christina church accepted the doctrine of reincarnation, which was expounded by the Gnostics and by numerous church fathers, including Clement of Alexandria, the celebrated Origen (both 3rd centurty), and St. Jerome (5th century). The doctrine was first declared a heresy in A.D. 553 by the Second Council of Constantinople. At that time many Christians thought the doctrine of reincarnation …

Yogis

I'm really enjoying learning about the great yogis and yoginis of India. I had no idea that yoga was a spiritual practice. That helps me understand better my affinity for it.

I'm trying to figure out what to believe about Jesus. I'm pretty sure he existed as a historical figure, but what I'm no longer sure of is his divinity. I mean, yes, of course, he was divine, we all are, but was he really the literal son of God, born of a virgin mother, offered as a sacrifice to redeem the world?

It's such a stereotypical story. As I study world religions, I'm intrigued by their similarity. They all seem to feature an all-powerful creator, an evil antagonist, and a divine intermediary. The "Savior" possesses special powers, performs various miracles, protects the obedient (aka righteous), and destroys the wicked.

Jesus isn't the only being who has performed miracles. Saints, yogis, and other great men and women have been performing miracles since the dawn of …