Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why Putting My Life in His Hands?

Over the years I've had people asking me about my beliefs. For some reason they haven't been able to figure me out. I don't blame them. I can blend into a prayer to Jesus, chant a mantra while holding a Mala, practice the Sufi’s dhikr, listen to the advice of a Shaman, or cast spells aided by nature. I can refer to God as feminine energy, the universe, the divine creator, or the pure spirit of it all. I don't consider myself religious but spiritual. Religion, like government, is for the masses. It involves control, routine, believing blindly in what others say.

As a spiritual being, I honor and respect all beliefs and those who practice them. I am free to experience the presence of God/Goddess day in and out in my life. In choosing to allow this presence to guide my every day doings I have witnessed those everyday miracles unfolding only when we surrender to it. I don’t go to a building to praise the divine nor confess my “sins” to another human. I don't feel the need to show others what I am doing to earn my ticket to heaven because heaven is here where I can enjoy and be grateful for all the gifts life has to offer; where I have been given the opportunity to use my talents and learn how to read the signs.

For those who have asked me before, I am clarifying here the whys’ of my surrendering to life, God, Energy, Maya, or whatever other names you use to refer to the manifestation of creation.

This is the portrait of a life surrendered to life – mine anyway.

1.       Peace: That sense of calmness I feel no matter the circumstances because I know that nothing last forever so nothing can disturb me enough to bring me out of balance.

2.       Patience: There’s a perfect timing for everything in life. Desperation leads to frustration. There’s no point in wanting to control what is out of our control. There’s ALWAYS something better at the end of the road.

3.       Compassion and understanding: My levels of tolerance used to be very low until I realized that we all have our own demons to fight with. Everyone is fighting his own battle and we should not judge if we haven't walked their path.

4.       Security: Chaos is everywhere but faith keeps us grounded and confident. For every bad there are many more goods.

5.       Self-Love: Contrary to popular “religious” beliefs, we are not here to become victims and martyr neither to be humiliated or diminished. Practicing self-love get us closer to who we are; expressions of the divine. By loving ourselves we can give that same love to others.

6.       Laughter: Writer Steve Brown once said: “If there’s no laughter, Jesus has gone somewhere else. If there’s no celebration, there is no real worship.”  Laughter helps the spirit to grow and flow. It is contagious. It is the best way to celebrate life.

So this is my non-religious manifesto. Put all these together and you can understand my life’s theme; live life out loud. Yield to her; experience what she has to offer. Put your life in her hands. 

Spirituality is meant to take us beyond our tribal identity into a domain of awareness that is more universal. - Deepak Chopra

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blind in Mount Adams

Originally known as Mount Ida, for Ida Martin as washerwomen and later turned into a vineyard, today, Mount Adams rises east of downtown Cincinnati. Reminding me of colorful and vibrant European villages, it is surrounded by lushly parks; a city within a city, removed from the hustle of the big town below. From above, the visitor can enjoy the best views of the Ohio River and downtown. Its streets offer a variety of bars and restaurants many of them honoring the ancestors, Germans and Irish settlers.  At the end of Guido Street, facing the river, the Immaculata Church emerges as a resting and pilgrimage sanctuary guiding residents as well as travelers.

As it usually happens, my visit to Mount Adams was not planned which took me back to Lao Tzu words, “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” This is a little piece of paradise worth the visit. Being there although for a couple of hours reinforced my belief that seeing new places is one of my endless love affairs. 

I am sharing that affair with you. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Stop the Maquiladora Life

Maquiladoras are Mexican assembly plants that import materials on a duty-free basis. These corporations are owned by non-Mexicans who take advantage of the low-cost labor and pay taxes based on the value of the finished product. They are spread all over the Mexico-USA border. Close to 570.00 women and low income families work 40 hour a week, under awful conditions earning 3.40 per day, not enough to sustain themselves and their families. 

Imagine a room with no windows where you are confined to a strict clock in and out, no safety equipment, poor ventilation, or excessive cold or heat. There are too many cases like this and worst around the world.

I spent a week doing some teacher related work. Even though the environment wasn't quite the same, at some point I was reminded of the maquiladoras. At some point I was asking myself why was I there doing exactly the opposite of what I enjoy doing; working around a tight schedule, enclosed in a cold room, sitting for eight hours, swallowing my food without savoring it, allowing other people treating me like a little child who needs to be controlled. I have been doing this for six summers as a contribution to my students but never before I have felt this ugliness in my stomach. We should improve our human nature with time. I guess that’s not always the case.

I am sharing this with you because although there are times when we engage in some activities with the best of intentions, we should never forget that our peace of mind and well-being comes first.

·         Pleasing others at the expense of our happiness is not the best way to go through life.

·         It is healthy when we learn to say no and when we teach people to respect our say; when we stand up and say enough because we have realized what we are worth.

·         We must always shine our light, respect and love who we are, find that which makes us feel fulfilled, and accept only what makes us more human.

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. “  –Nelson Mandela-

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Walking Among Sacred Weeds

In every day there’s a new place and new beginnings; that’s the flow of life. So here I am surrounded by a little piece of heaven, surrounded by nature; my grounding spot. Born and raised in the country, few people know about my love for herbs and the mysteries of nature. I recently discover that I am surrounded by dandelions.

It is said that these wild weeds blooming in spring and fall, have more intelligence than most humans. Its yellow flowers have always been associated with the mind; clarity and communication, growth and joy. Old stories say that when blowing the seed, whichever direction they blow that is the direction in which you should follow your fortune.

For years now I have been drinking dandelion root tea instead of my coffee-not that I have forgotten about the latter. Elders say that drinking the tea promotes psychic powers and, if a cup is left by the bed spirits come as you call upon them.  Now, I have a whole bed of beautiful “dent-de-lion” in my yard, growing naturally and free.

If we look closely into nature and its patterns, we are able to understand everything that surrounds us better, including ourselves. Hans Christian Andersen once said: “Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. “ When you've found all, you are indeed blessed. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Two Guys and a Girl in Bremen

If you read my post from yesterday, I made a list of things to do after a casual conversation with my flowering buds.  One of them reads: get to know my new surroundings. Well, meet Frank and Ron, two retired citizens of Bremen who shared with me some of the history of this small town southwest of Georgia.

According to Frank, the city was name Bremen to honor another city by the same name but in Germany. Long before this, the area as many other in the state was the home of the Creeks, who used to rekindle the sacred fire every year during the Green Corn Festival to express gratitude for their harvests.  There used to be a time when the city was booming, economy flourished thanks to the rail lines routed through the city and an exclusive textile industry. A travelling salesman with a drum arrived to the city around 1905 turning Bremen into the headquarters of the famous Sewell Clothing Company “Former President Jimmy Carter had his suits custom-made here.” – Frank shares. “Those were the good days were you could see 300 people around the square at any given time. The city was vibrant.” Ron added.

Today, the Sewell Company is still standing and the railroads are the home of the coal trains going north and south and Amtrak and freight trains traveling east and west. Through my eyes, I saw a southern town pleading for another chance. Most businesses are closed around the square. Most people share one destination, the church ministry hoping for some help for their families. Still, people like Frank and Ron stick to their traditions. Every morning you’ll find them sitting on the same bench across the water fountain on the square. “Life goes in circles and the good old times are coming back to Bremen.” These were Ron’s final words before I left.  

Wishful thinking? Maybe, he is right. After all everything is connected in this great circle of life!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What Happens When You Listen to Your Words?

The other day I planted a big batch of wildflowers. Heard that hummingbirds love them and I love them back so it was my way to say welcome to my sacred space.. So, what does wildflowers has to do with words? I learned from an early age that talking to plants is beneficial for their growth- ours too. Yes, if you are caught by the incredulous, you’ll be carrying the mentally disable label for the rest of your life but, who cares? There I was in a deep morning conversation about life, changes, dreams, and places I am visualizing to visit in the next couple of years. Then again, I am not a long term planner so the two years turned into 6 months. No, the small buds didn't answer but they made me think about what I was saying out loud. It made a difference.

You see, it often happens that we need these moments of out there solitude to realize what we want, need, what could be or must be discarded, and that which must be a priority in order to move one step forward into our destination.  So here is my short term list of things I need to do according to the flower bud:

1.       Travel back home to spend time with my family and dig deeper into my roots.
2.       Get out there and get to know my new surroundings.
3.       Take some time to read and write more.
4.      Research and get my budget planning together to take one of my beloved nine hours plane ride.
5.       Learn something new and out of my comfort zone. 

All this planned to be accomplished before the bells ring to a new year. Not that bad, right?

Whether in nature or the quietness of your room, pay attention to what your words are telling you. Follow the bliss, your instinct will always give you the answers you are looking for. 

"Listen to your own voice, your own soul, too many people listen to the noise of the world, instead of themselves." ~Leon Brown~

Sunday, June 1, 2014

About Your Wild and Precious Life...

Photo by: Rinat Abdullin

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver

She said it and I repeat it. How many times do you ask yourself the same question? When was the last time you did something about it? There is so much time lost in trying to find the answer that in the blink of an eye life has gone by, we look back, and there’s no more time to even pop the question again.

This was my day today. Woke up, walked, came back, enjoyed my coffee, and sat down listening to the birds in the yard while watching the dogs playing around. Noon caught me reading. Just then, I realized the list of household chores stuck to the fridge; completed almost all – accomplishment feeling. All day I had been visualizing the tub, the candles, a glass of wine, and total relaxation. Why? Because we all deserve to have our wishes granted. Our daily living, even in the best of circumstances, is not a piece of cake so why denying ourselves the little pleasures of life that in the end could change our whole perspective of it? Every thought is a prayer. Every wish from the heart goes straight up.

So, let’s revisit the question again, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Think about it but don’t waste too much time in the thinking. Act upon it. It could be something as simple as enjoying that foaming bath or as complicated as beginning or completing your life’s project. The time is now because there’s no better time. Dance your life because you are the music.


Airfares Around The World

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

AdulteryAdultery by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great story by Paulo Coehlo. Real life down to earth characters struggling to find the meaning of life; a mirror of what we all go through day by day. The amazing story of Linda makes us ponder and question. What's life's ultimate purpose? What force moves us? What is it that we should all strive for?

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