This the Mountain Taught Me

•May 6, 2010 • 1 Comment

Getting to the top was a miracle!

The plan all week had been to repeat last week’s feat of running to the top of Echo Mountain, but I woke up last Sunday morning, groggy, a bit dehydrated maybe, with a slight headache, and it was cloudy – perhaps about to rain??  Should I bag it, stay home in bed, reading and drinking coffee, meditating, getting around finally to that long-awaited face mask?  But I had made a promise to myself, so I felt compelled to follow through on my resolve.  Once at the trailhead, I fumbled around with my iPod, trying to find the perfect mood music for the ascent – something upbeat, high-powered and fast, as I needed as much motivation as I could get – African High Life! 

THE JOURNEY

Those first foot falls were painful on many levels, including the left “bad toe” that inevitably kicks in when I forget to shave down the callous that constantly forms and reforms on it.  My breath was short, my heart already pounding, as the climb began from the moment I got out of the car!  God’s little reminder – acceptance, we’re not interested in anything even resembling perfection here, this is about the path toward your best self – the journey-with-no-destination!

RELENTLESS RECOVERY

In addition to the physical discomfort, every time I looked at the path ahead I was overwhelmed – how would I ever get there, would I make it? I just re-focused my attention on the next step, nothing more than the very next step.  Then it occurred to me that this uphill run was a metaphor:  The climb is relentless, but I’ll only make it worse if I think ahead to what’s coming, how long it will take, when will it be over, why is it so hard, so painful, so unrelenting…. Better to turn it all over to my Higher Power, one day, in this case, one footstep at a time, being present to all that is around me, enjoying the scenery, not looking too far ahead, trusting that my Higher Power will get me there in Her time, not mine!  Just like my recovery – one moment, one thought, one meal, one day at a time!  I also noticed on the trail that there were people way ahead of me, and others behind me; we were a constant stream of humanity, each on their own path of discovery, each moving at their own pace.  I realized that I didn’t have a problem with this, and that I wasn’t angry or annoyed that everyone wasn’t running right along with me the whole time.

A MIRACULOUS OUTCOME 

Well, I made it to the top, savoring the African rhythms emanating from my iPod, and (after a celebratory pee!), I looked out in awe at the landscape unfolding below me.  It was miraculous – I could never have done it alone – I was much too weak, defeated, desperate.  Alone, I kept slipping back into the fear that I didn’t have what it took to get there, but my Higher Power got me to the top, when I remembered each and every time to just turn over the outcome!

MY GOD IS A TENOR

For the journey back down I chose Luis Miguel’s  “Amarte es un placer, mujer.”  Well, suddenly his crystalline, velvety, romantic Spanish tenor became the loving voice of the God of My Understanding, singing unconditional love for me.  As I started my descent, heart full and eyes tearing up – I felt God’s presence and love from deep down in my heart and soul at that moment!  I felt victorious for overcoming a morning of sloth to get out and lovingly nurture my own physical, emotional and spiritual recovery, learning along the way that anything is possible, as long as I put one foot in front of the other and let my Higher Power do the rest.  I must surrender the outcome to God’s will, trusting that things will turn out just as they are supposed to be, right at this moment.  My road to abstinence has not been without pitfalls, and at present is far from perfect, but I am learning about myself, about life, and about the beauty out there in the world that is there for me, as long as I keep my eyes and ears open, so that I can be of loving service to God and humanity.

It Takes a Village to Fill a Soul

•April 24, 2010 • 2 Comments

I feel God's presence in Nature

Do you find yourself, once middle age is upon you, returning to those unanswered questions from your childhood?  For me, this has been the case, especially in my search for a spiritual identity.  I remember as a child always being curious about the fact that there were other religions out there.  Did each religion think they were the only “right” one?  Or were they all ultimately compatible, each telling the same story (creation, monotheism) in a slightly different way? 

TWELVE SPIRITUAL STEPS

Over the years, I tried out different belief systems:  In college, I was the Atheist Philosopher, open to the great thinkers and their discourses on the Big Questions, as well as the hypothesis that God is dead.  Later, I would explore a spiritual, yet non-theistic, anti-religious path – a search for a sort of unifying, universal vibration, if you will – through vegetarianism, yoga and meditation.  Basically, I was trying to be spiritual, and look good while doing it!  This practice ultimately led me back to God, by way of the Twelve Steps, where I discovered that the reason no spiritual path had ever made sense to me was because I had not faced my own inner demons.  The beauty of the Twelve Steps, for me, was the discovery of a “road map” for how to leave my addictions, clean up my past, accept myself as worthy, learn to love myself and others fully and completely, while learning to live my life a little better each day. 

UNITY IN DIVERSITY

Recently, I have been investigating the Ba’hai faith, and I love it for the same reason that I find the Twelve Steps so invaluable:  it is accepting of all peoples, cultures and religions, and professes “Unity in Diversity.”  The belief system is that all of the prophets – Moses, Buddha, Christ, Muhammed, etc., were all manifestations, every one thousand years or so, of the one and only God.   According to the Ba’hais, our purpose here on earth is to know God and to grow spiritually, and we are called to that end by speaking and acting in accordance with selfless service to humanity, namely, the quest for peace and justice between peoples and nations.  This religion really speaks to me, because it adheres to the Universal Wisdom, while at the same time applies the principles of the Golden Rule, on a practical level, to the world we live in.  At all of the spiritual meetings that I have attended, where I am typically surrounded by people of various ages, cultures and ethnicities, I have always felt welcomed and loved. 

THE GOD OF MY UNDERSTANDING

My moment of liberation came with the notion that I could choose my own God – the God of my understanding.  I didn’t have to either accept or refute the God of the intolerant religion I grew up in – I could come up with my own God!  So my God is a forgiving God, perhaps more mother than father, who is always there for me, and loves me unconditionally.  My HP is also my inner voice, my intuition, my source of strength and wisdom.  Taking it one step further, I believe the prayers from throughout the millennia are still resonating and reverberating in the world today.  In the continuum of souls, both living and dead, in this world and beyond, there is a village of entities who are helping me, encouraging me and standing beside me as I weather life’s trials and tribulations.  The people in my life right now, who are guiding me on my spiritual quest, are their messengers.

Think, Pray, Act: What does your potential look like?

•April 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

Ever suddenly do something so out of character that you hardly recognize yourself?  This morning, I got up and went for a trail run, iPod blasting African music in my ears, exalting in the beautiful day and thankful that I was mentally, spiritually and physically able to enjoy it completely!  This instead of what I would usually do on any other Sunday morning:  read in bed, eat breakfast in bed, meditate for 20 minutes, read spiritual books.  A few months back, lost soul that I was, I would even pine away, wishing I was in bed with the perfect mate, reading side-by-side, or even making passionate love together!

THINK AND PRAY   

The beginning of my call to action, the period I call think, was the acknowledgement that something was wrong, that I had missed something in my development, that I was not realizing my full potential.  The pray stage manifested itself in two years of intensive self-reflection and humility.  The result has been a state of gratitude for a loving Higher Power who has guided me to a spiritual path and a religion that are both based on traditional wisdom, though grounded in the reality and culture of the contemporary times we live in.  They are void of empty ritual, emphasizing good deeds, responsibility, integrity, respect for oneself and others, and selfless service.  This is the flavor of spirituality that best meets my needs.

INTO ACTION

The action phase, beginning now, is all about meditation in motion, nature, getting the heartrate up, as I steel myself to tackle the challenges – spiritual, physical and emotional – of starting a new business, while continuing to keep my connection to God through abstaining from all addictive behaviors.  I want to stay focused, present and aware, ready to hear the recommendations of the divinely inspired who are among us, without letting myself be swayed by either my own judgmental inner voice, or the negativity in the world around me. 

POTENTIAL FOR HAPPINESS

So what does my potential look like?  Well, I have advanced degrees in music (and an eleven year professional career as an orchestral musician behind me). I am certified as a personal trainer, with three years of experience, I have won a bodybuilding title and I am also a competent nutrition counselor (I love to cook and collect recipes).  I speak three foreign languages, I have a valid bilingual teaching credential, grades K – 12, and I taught in the public schools for seven years.  I am well-read, have a vibrant yoga/meditation practice, and aspire every day to become a better person, in whatever way that may present itself on a given day.  I have lived in France, Germany, Spain and Costa Rica and even worked as an interpreter and personal shopper on a cruise ship for two years!  I have been told that I am a very good writer, and I look forward to continuing to read, study, and hone my craft.  What is left for me to do, if not start my own web-based business, which will bring all of my talents together?  Eureka!

DEVIL MAY CARE!

The beauty of the mountain experience this morning was that I allowed myself to just run, be in the present moment and enjoy.  There was no competition, no “should” or “I did it wrongs!”  That in itself was a loving act of self-acceptance, a true gift from my Higher Power.  The best part was when I was able to look out over the vista, with Angelique Kidjo singing “Mama Africa” in my headphones, raise my arms in joyful abandon, and sing it out while running, devil may care who saw me!  That was memorable…..

The Spiritual Awakening

•April 15, 2010 • 2 Comments

Dear God,

I am grateful, right here and now, for the enormous revelation of your love which was there inside me all the time!  Now I see how the essence of who you are, as I am getting to know you, is that you are my intuition – the voice inside that already knows, after all the lives led ahead of this one!  I have learned and grown in the spirit over the centuries, and now I am able to use that wisdom and knowledge about who I am to finally see.  This morning you opened my eyes to my own reality:  My vision board and everything on it is a title for a blog entry.  I know that as always, when I sit down to write, you will be with me and will guide my fingers to your truth – the truth of who I truly am.  This blog will lead to the speaking, the book, the travel to distant lands; with spoken and written skills in a few languages, I will be able to take my message to many places!  The confusion I had about how to blog, what to say, who to be – my persona on line – now I get it!  You have guided me to the vision board, and it in turn has brought me the answers!  All I need to do is to take one slogan each day and use it as a title; I know you will do the rest!  All of my searching, as a woman in middle age, on all levels – spiritual, physical and emotional – will be the content of my life led in the light of the spirit, as well as the subject of my blog, my book, my career and my life’s work and purpose in loving service to you. 

MOUNTAIN TOP INSIGHT

The insight on the mountain top this morning was this:  my life’s purpose is to get to know God and to apply the Twelve Steps to every aspect of my life. So what I am doing in the present moment is enough – I just need to know that, accept fully and humbly God’s love and forgiveness, then lead my life forward in an attitude of surrender, humility, love, kindness and respect for myself and others.  In the past, that seemed like not enough, somehow, yet now I realize that it is the basis for my life and my life’s work from this point onward.  My work with the Twelve Steps, the guidance of my therapist and sponsors, the editing, journaling and blogging – are all means to the same ends. 

GOD IS MY EMPLOYER

A few days ago, when my sponsor told me that “God is my employer” I first thought, “How does she think that mindlessly spouting off Twelve Step slogans will in any way help me find my true calling in life, let alone pay my bills?”  My insane inner voice continued, “I sure hope I don’t do this to my sponsees – simply repeat pat answers in the form of slogans when I can’t think of anything else to say!”  Then, this morning after my trail run, the spiritual awakening came, and I realized that this life I am leading is enough – God is my employer!  Of course, that very slogan, which I dismissed last night as empty and patronizing, has now become, just twelve hours later, words to live by – the Steps and my Higher Power are the solution to finding my life’s work and eventual financial security!  Who knew! 

I AM ENOUGH!

Funny, just yesterday I was thinking that I wanted to find a subject, like the story of Henrietta Lacks, that I could research and write an amazing book about. But now I see that that was just my typical “I’m not enough” scenario!  If I just accept God’s grace, forgiveness and endless love for me I don’t have to do anything else but just be me!  I am enough!  Living the Twelve Steps to the best of my ability in every aspect of my life is my life, my life’s work and purpose, and the subject of my blog and book!  I am humbly thankful to you, my Higher Power, for this insight!  My heart is light, my trials are few, I am focused, happy and free!  Being of service, I am enough!

Death and Renewal

•April 12, 2010 • 2 Comments

We return to the next world

Yesterday morning I finally hit the mountain for a trail run – the first one in almost a year – and I saw the remnants of the devastating fire of last spring: the scorched earth, replete with Manzanita skeletons, charred black. But at the same time I was inspired by the message of hope: green shrubs and grasses growing all around, the smell of wildflowers in the air. Nature was doing what it does best – cycling back from despair, devastation and suffering to renewal and new beginnings.
OUR ROCK
Death and renewal had been on my mind, as Saturday was the memorial service in memory of one in our fellowship who passed away a few months back from pancreatic cancer. Through all the trials and tribulations of her life, she attended five noontime meetings a week, without fail, unless she was sick or out-of-town. Unshakably abstinent (her term!), she was still human, and shared with us all of her fears, resentments, jealousies and temptations to control the lives of those she loved most. One day she arrived in tears, announcing the anniversary of the worst of times – discovering her house-sitter’s body, hanging from the rafters of her second home. I learned that even people who can afford second homes in beautiful locations are still not immune to real, human suffering! Our fellowship was her rock, and she was a rock in our fellowship. We looked up to her, respected her, were inspired by her, laughed and cried with her, until one day she simply didn’t come anymore.
THE GOOD NEWS
But the message of renewal was in this story from the beginning. From the time of her diagnosis, her family dropped everything and rallied around her, determined to spend the remaining time cherishing each other, no longer taking for granted the beauty of nature, the feel of the sunshine, the smell of the roses. This is how I picture the ending to a life well-lived – people wanting to spend time with me as I lie suffering and dying, finding it more important than any other activity! The family rallied to renew their love and appreciation for one another, helping the dying woman – the mother, the wife – on her transition to the next life.
THE WISDOM OF CREATION
She was able to attend one daughter’s wedding, but missed the birth of her first grandson by only days. Of course I have my own interpretation of the latter: I think the baby waited for her in the other world for her blessing, before being born. The Baha’is believe that when we die, the soul leaves the body and begins its journey through the other spiritual worlds. Baha’u ‘llah explained the next life this way:
“The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that
of the child while still in the womb of its mother.”
She saw him first, and all was well – they crossed paths, one ascending, the other coming to us. That’s how I imagine it anyway. Just as her illness renewed the love of that special family, so was she able to wish her grandson well on his journey; at his birth, we in turn felt renewed by the beauty of his newness. As above, so below, as the body, so the soul, as nature, so the spirit – proof of the continuum of God’s never-ending love and compassion for all of creation.

New Year, New Laptop, New Life!

•January 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment
Joshua Tree Landscape

Joshua Tree Landscape

PRACTICING MINDFULNESS

Two years before the big 5-0 I am finally updating myself, from the technological to the ethnomusicological, and everything in between.  Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but the idea here is to finally enter the blogosphere, the hemisphere, the now-you-are-here.   What better way to practice mindfully accepting the miracle of the present moment than by starting a fresh decade with a beautiful new laptop, full of all the romance of Microsoft 7, Skpe and all my iTunes organized in a row, ready to entertain and inspire me. 

GETTING CONNECTED

Ah yes, a year of romance, devoid of empty on-line dating experiences and casual sexual contacts.  Finally, the chance I have been longing for:  to focus my passionate nature on my work as a personal trainer, while writing on topics of health, fitness and spirituality right here on my very own blog!  To be of service while reaching out to friends and family, in cyberspace, outer space and……..space-space…..Space to live, grow and breathe forward, away from a distracted past, toward a vibrant, loving, connected future. This is the beauty of an online persona – I get to learn how to connect, grow and live in a community-at-large which is as it should be – all parts of the whole, joined whether we like it or not, influenced and inspired by the thoughts, actions and talents of each other.  What a gift!  Happy New Year!

Hello world!

•January 17, 2010 • 2 Comments

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!