21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 2: Meditate #yogagirlchallenge

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Elements of Meditation:
1. Closed eyes
2. Nostril breathing
3. Observation of bodily sensations
4. Letting go of thoughts

I first learned about meditation when I took a Buddhism class in college in 1988. We met for group meditation and tea in addition to classes. It was a little awkward and uncomfortable at first. It was hard to sit still with my eyes shut without feeling self-conscious.

Since then, I’ve mainly meditated during yoga classes. I also try to incorporate it into my life by doing lying down meditation before bed and taking advantage of the peace and quiet in the sauna and steam room at the gym to find some meditative moments.

Going along with this challenge and my experience at the yoga retreat in Aruba last week, I am working on keeping my morning yoga habit and ending it with seated meditation. It’s a peaceful, calming way to start the day.

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Buddha sat under a bodhi tree until he reached enlightenment.

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To do seated meditation, cross the legs and put the hands on the knees. Hands can be in an upward position for receiving or in a downward position for grounding. Or the hands can make a mudra or shape of some kind. Quiet the mind. Let go of thoughts without judgement. Bring attention to the breath. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly. Repeat a mantra, count breaths, or think of nothing like still water. As thoughts enter the mind, let them go like ripples in the water until the water is still again. Or let thoughts go like clouds drifting across the sky. No judgements, just acknowledgement and detachment. Stay silent and still for a few minutes to start then increase over time.

There are many benefits of meditation. It calms the nervous system and helps develop a sense of inner peace. It helps balance our active lives and allows us to be present in the moment, not in the past, not worry about what’s happening next, fully present in the moment. Meditation connects us to the energy in the universe and allows us to open up chakras, energy centers, in our bodies.

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Thinking about not thinking is a paradoxical practice that leads to a healthy, happy , calm, zen mindset. Meditation helps us find our center and be grounded. It’s a useful exercise every day and prepares us to handle stress in our lives.

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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Inspired by These Female Celebrities

rachel pinterest

http://rachelbrathen.com/

Rachel Brathen is a yogi living in Aruba, spreading her love of yoga each day over her social media accounts.  She travels the world to teach yoga and inspires me every day to look up to the sky, be humble and grateful.

laurenrudick

http://blog.backtoeden.ca/2013/09/11/the-365-day-handstand-challenge/

Lauren Rudick is the yogi who inspired me to start the #handstand365 challenge.  I only did 29, but I tried. And I felt inspired. I am still inspired daily by her pictures, her messages, and I also love her yoga jewelry that she hands makes with care.

Jennifer-Aniston-Sedu-Hair-Styles-Icon

http://www.jenaniston.net/

Jennifer Aniston. Where do I start? I love her. She is probably my favorite actress. And she does yoga too.  I think I’ve seen every movie she is in.  I think my favorite role was when she starred in the Good Girl.  She is regular and ordinary, yet cool.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZXynl7z4hU

gwyneth-paltrow-435

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwyneth_Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow became my idol when Brad Pitt asked her to marry her.   I also love how classy she is and how she can adapt to various accents in her acting roles.  My favorite movie she was in was Shakespeare In Lovehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Zi2N1Q8-Y

Leelee-Sobieski-016-1280x800

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leelee_Sobieski

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wknrgJlv_Y

Jewel-Closeup-In-T-Shirt

www.jeweljk.com

avril

http://www.avrillavigne.com/us/home

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 21 Calm

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This is a picture of a meditation spot in my room. I love this Buddha holding a lotus flower, and there are several bamboo plants like that one around my house. The unscented white candle represents pure light, and it makes me feel calm to sit and meditate, clearing my mind of thoughts and worries and inviting light into my being. I try to meditate every day in some shape or form, and I love the calm feeling I get afterwards. I first learned about meditation when I took a Buddhism course in college. It’s harder than it sounds to clear your mind of all thoughts and just be!

 

31 Day Music Challenge: Day 24 A Song That You Want to Play At Your Funeral

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space (Photo credit: Sweetie187)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiypaURysz4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfLI1l_Pda4

“Holy Now” by Peter Mayer is a song that I would want someone to play at my funeral (preferably on the acoustic guitar).  I got stuck on this question because funeral songs are usually about saying goodbye or religious songs in my experiences.  Goodbye songs would be for other people to pick I think, so I picked this song because of the essence of the meaning behind the poetry is an outlook on life that I would like people to remember about me and carry on to their own lives.  It’s not a religious song per se, but it references religion and contrasts the childhood experience of going to church where we learn that once a week we worship to the idea of seeing every day life as worship and finding the divine in everything around us.  It very clearly sums up my religious beliefs.  “Wine from water is not so small, but an even better magic trick is that anything is here at all” is one of my favorite lines from the lyrics.  I’ve written before about my experiences with religion and my scientific philosophy. If you’re interested, here are the links:

Science Saved My Soul

What Does Christmas Mean to You?

30 Days of Truth: Day 5 Something You Hope to Do in Your Life

The lyrics to this song are a reminder to look at the miracle of life with humility and to see the beauty everywhere around us.  I don’t know what happens after death, but I do know that life goes on.  It’s amazing to think about the vastness of the universe and the diversity of life on this planet.  If our spirits do transcend to other realms or reincarnate to new beings that will be incredible.  It’s all a big mystery, and I would hope to leave behind that feeling of awe and wonder in those I knew and loved.

“When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don’t happen still
But now I can’t keep track
‘Cause everything’s a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything’s a miracle

Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn’t one

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven‘s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child’s face
And say it’s not a testament
That’d be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it’s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can’t be done

This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now”

See the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Fiction Friday #18: Good Enough

debiehive.blogspot.com

debiehive.blogspot.com

My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week,Tammy Soong at World’s Worst Moms provided the prompt. This is episode eighteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first seventeen episodes, here are links:

7. Love
__________

“Perfect”

Sometimes is never quite enough

If you’re flawless, then you’ll win my love

Don’t forget to win first place

Don’t forget to keep that smile on your face

Be a good boy

Try a little harder

You’ve got to measure up

And make me prouder

How long before you screw it up

How many times do I have to tell you to hurry up

With everything I do for you

The least you can do is keep quiet

Be a good girl

You’ve gotta try a little harder

That simply wasn’t good enough

To make us proud

I’ll live through you

I’ll make you what I never was

If you’re the best, then maybe so am I

Compared to him compared to her

I’m doing this for your own damn good

You’ll make up for what I blew

What’s the problem…why are you crying

Be a good boy

Push a little farther now

That wasn’t fast enough

To make us happy

We’ll love you just the way you are

If you’re perfect

Alanis morissette

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_1BQRAkcyc

Alanis sang the lyrics that took Amanda back to her childhood and the constant pressure to be better, to be perfect in her parents’ eyes. Despite being divorced and living in separate states, both her parents were disappointed with her for various reasons. First, she was born the wrong sex so that put her at a disadvantage in her father’s estimation from the beginning. First born sons get the respect in Korean culture. Second born children, especially girls are not as valuable to aging parents. Then she didn’t accept the right religion (her mom’s fundamentalist Christianity) or get accepted to the right college (where her father worked) because she didn’t get “good enough” grades. Instead, she rebelled against their advice and set out to create a family of her own that accepted her for who she was.

Looking in the mirror, she saw the same eyes of that young girl and mentally hugged her, saying her mantra to herself. You’re perfect the way you are. Written on a neon green sticky note with a black sharpie, it was hard to avoid seeing it as she went through her daily beauty rituals. Her eyes were the same, but everything else grew up over the years. Her worries, joys, and experiences all carved into wrinkles on her tan skin. Instead of looking for her flaws, she observed with her mind and kept her focus on her golden brown eyes. Another sticky note written by Richard told her, “You are beautiful.”

sticky note

She dabbed concealer under her eyes and on her other imperfections then brightened up her eyes and face with fresh color and black mascara on curled lashes. Careful not to overdo it, she preferred a natural healthy look, plus at this point it was difficult to find the energy to go through her routine. Her counselor suggested it as part of an overall self-care program, starting with basics like hygiene and appearance. So, she woke up early just to take a shower and do her hair and makeup before starting her day. She liked the effects of enhancing her natural beauty with feminine touches, but as with everything in life there is a law of diminishing returns. Too much concealing and too much color makes a woman look fake and desperate for attention. It calls more attention to the flaws instead.

If only it were so easy to conceal imperfections in our lives.

So many things weighed on her mind…Richard, Ella, Anderson, Richard’s affair, life as a single mom, her boys, her granddaughter, her mom in the hospital. Taking care of herself was literally the last thing on Amanda’s mental list, so it really did take effort. Mother’s Day was just a few days away, and she hadn’t had any contact with her mom since her suicide attempt.

Amanda was learning to let go of guilt, and she felt especially guilty that her mom was alone and suffering. Knowing the perfect daughter would fly into town and visit in the hospital with flowers, Amanda gave herself permission to be less than perfect, to be good to herself even if it meant staying away from her mom. Even though it was sad her mom did that, it was even sadder she blamed it on Amanda instead of accepting her problems as her own and attempting to work on those problems with professionals. She certainly wasn’t being and hadn’t been a perfect parent.

I will send her some flowers and a card. That’s something. Better than nothing.

She loved her mom but knew that engaging with her would be toxic, so she stayed away. It was not a utopian mother-daughter relationship. No sense falling prey to a nirvana fallacy. The more Amanda let her mom into her world, the worse she felt and the more stressed and upset she was. Being a mom to her own children took all her energy.

She was thankful for her life and her family and needed to try to stay in a positive place. It was her daily practice to let go of the negative and appreciate the positive. She knew life can change at any moment, and she learned the hard way to love fully while there is the opportunity. Her life was still full of love, and although it felt like the end of the road in many ways, she knew there was beauty in the world. Dwelling on the positive was the best way she knew to keep herself from sinking into deep depression and activating a stress response in her body.

GratitudeYellow

Richard and the boys always made Amanda queen for the day on Mother’s Day. This would be the first time she would celebrate it alone. This year, she would have to see the positive in celebrating it with her boys and her granddaughter. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be good enough. Keeping everything in perspective, at least she had three handsome sons and a gorgeous little granddaughter to celebrate.

People in the world are suffering way worse than I am. I am fortunate to have Cassidy and the boys. I am a proud mother and grandmother.

Because of her tense relationship with her mother, Amanda vowed to be a different kind of mother to her own children. And having Cassidy as her granddaughter felt like another opportunity to raise a little girl, one she missed out on when Ella’s life ended unexpectedly. She made it her priority to attend regular therapy and took medication for depression, unlike her mother. She told her boys all the things she loved about them and complimented them for qualities unique to their personalities. She encouraged them to follow their dreams and to believe in themselves. She and Richard tried not to fight in front of the children, and they showed affection in front of them. As far as the kids knew, everything was fine in their marriage except the grief. She tried to shield the kids from her troubles. And she never blamed them for anything going wrong in her life.

I am not perfect, but I’m perfect the way I am.

Feeling Good

____________

Here is the prompt:

Let your characters work through the old saying, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
Visit my Friday Fiction Friends to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

http://www.clearlykristal.com/
http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/
http://www.bulamamani.com/
http://www.susannenelson.wordpress.com/
http://www.debiehive.blogspot.com/
http://neargenius1.blogspot.com/
http://www.mollyfield.com

Follow us on Twitter:

@clearlykristal
@worldsworstmoms
@BuLaMamaNi
@SusanneNelson1
@DeBieHive
@neargenius
@MollyFieldGrassOil

Follow us on Facebook:

DeBie Hive
World’s Worst Moms
Susanne’s World
Bulamamani
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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!
Related articles

Shattered Dreams

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“I was weeping because Richard Parker left me so unceremoniously.  It broke my heart.” ~ Life of Pi

Every two years, our high school runs a program called Shattered Dreams. Today is the day again. I’ve been seeing the signs around town giving notice there will be a mock accident scene this morning. I attended the program in 2011 when my oldest daughter (19) was a senior at the high school. Here is a link to some information about Shattered Dreams.

http://www.coppellisd.com/site/Default.aspx?PageID=939

Juniors, seniors, and parents assemble in the gym to begin the program. The student media center KCBY made a movie depicting high school seniors going to prom and partying, and it ends with a car crash. Then students, faculty, and parents quietly walked outside to the parking lot where a mock accident scene was enacted, crashed cars and all. EMS arrived on the scene, sirens blaring, and a helicopter landed in the parking lot. It was all very dramatic, as if it were a real accident scene. Onlookers watch while bodies are extracted from the cars. Survivors act out the scene; it’s projected on loud speakers. Some of the kid didn’t survive. They were covered in white sheets and later taken away in hearses. The others were taken from the scene via the helicopter and the ambulances.

It’s a hard-hitting simulation aimed at scaring kids out of drinking and driving during prom season. While the Shattered Dreams program lasted a few hours in the morning, other students were removed from class throughout the day in fifteen minute intervals by the grim reaper and pronounced dead. They painted their faces white, put on black t-shirts and returned to class and remained silent all day, in class and in the hallways. They serve a visual reminder of ‘what if’ that person suddenly wasn’t there anymore because of an accident. There were fake obituaries, written by pre-selected students’ parents hanging in the hallways. and read out loud. It’s like giving the students a chance to think ahead to what it would be like if suddenly a chair in class goes empty because of a student death. It’s a way to show the kids how serious the consequences are and how much those people would be missed by their loved ones and the community.  Here is a link to a slide show:

http://www.scntx.com/articles/2009/04/22/coppell_gazette/news/50.txt

Unfortunately, this town has seen its fair share of teenage deaths, and while they haven’t all been attributed to drinking and driving, there is an epidemic of tragedy here that warrants all the effort that goes into Shattered Dreams. I have utmost respect for EMS officers who respond to the scenes of emergencies and do everything they can to save people. In just six years since we’ve lived here, our town has lost many young people:

Veronica Sheer died sixteen days after she was hit by a car crossing the street. She was fourteen years old. Now there is a fence there to keep high schoolers from crossing the street there after school. 2006 http://www.mydeathspace.com/article/2006/10/27/Veronica_Sheer_(14)_died_sixteen_days_after_being_struck_by_a_car_while_attempting_to_cross_the_street

Carter Jackson died when he was eighteen years old, and his little sister was friends with my oldest daughter at the time. I took her to the funeral during our first school year here. It was heartbreaking seeing all the pictures from his life and to see his lifeless body in the coffin wearing a Hollister jacket. It didn’t seem right that someone so young was already gone. 2007

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=17795354

carter

Travis Masters died instantly when his car went under an 18 wheeler. He was a nineteen year old college freshman. 2008

http://www.scntx.com/articles/2008/05/13/obits/masters0507.txt
http://www.star-telegram.com/2008/04/25/604344/man-dies-in-crash-on-texas-121.html

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Cristina Coker was found hanging from the swing set at an elementary school. She was an eighteen year-old college freshman and died within a few hours of Travis. 2008

http://www.coppellgazette.com/articles/2008/05/03/coppell_gazette/news/01.txt

cristina

Adam Hartwick drowned when he lost control of his truck and flipped upside down in a backyard pool. He was just nineteen years old and one of my good friends. Out of all these local tragedies, he is the one person I knew and was close with. We met after I took College Algebra at the local community college in 2007. He texted me the night before his accident, and I never answered him. It was so hard to believe when I heard the news about what happened the next day. It all went by so fast, I’m still trying to get used to the idea that he is gone forever. He would be 24 now, finished with college and moving on with a career and perhaps a family. Adam was good friends with Travis and grieved his loss just a few months before his own unexpected and untimely death. He also knew Carter and was at his funeral a year earlier. He went to the Shattered Dreams program when he was in high school. Little did he know just a few years later, EMS would arrive on his accident scene, unable to save his life. 2008

http://www.mydeathspace.com/article/2008/11/20/Adam_Hartwick_(19)_drowned_when_his_truck_flipped_into_a_swimming_pool

http://www.scntx.com/articles/2008/09/10/coppell_gazette/news/48.txt

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Ryan Sullivan was 22 when he died/ His little sister is friends with my oldest daughter. 2009

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/obituary.aspx?n=ryan-sullivan&pid=133287315#fbLoggedOut

Justin Henry died when he was nineteen years old. I met him once with a mutual friend. 2010 http://coppell.tributes.com/our_obituaries/Justin-Lee-Henry-89594969

justin

Corrine Peters died when her mother, our mayor, shot her (before she killed herself). She was nineteen, about to be a college freshman and was on the high school drill team with my oldest daughter. 2010

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/coppell/headlines/20100715-friends-say-corinne-peters-never-had-a-frown-on-her-face.ece
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/14/texas-mayor-teen-daughter-shot-dead-home/

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Taylor Storch died after a tragic skiing accident on spring break. She was just thirteen years old. Today, I got a “Taylor Blue” manicure to support organ donation. 2010

http://www.taylorsgift.org
http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Teen-Dies-During-Ski-Trip-87961662.html

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Keifer Smith died of mysterious causes, found in a decorative pond in his apartment complex. My oldest daughter knew him from high school. He was eighteen years old. 2011

http://www.tylerpaper.com/article/20110715/NEWS08/110719839

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Jacob Logan died from cliff diving at Possum Kingdom Lake. It took three days to find his body. He was a seventeen year-old football star. My oldest daughter knew him through the high school. I saw a boy at the middle school yesterday wearing Jacob’s shirt. It’s blue and it says “the hybrid, the legend, the guardian angel.” 2012
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/coppell/headlines/20121018-body-of-coppell-football-star-jacob-logan-recovered-from-possum-kingdom-lake.ec

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Jonah Blackwell shot himself just a few days after Jacob’s accident in a local park. He was also a high school senior. 2012 http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2012/oct/18/coppell-teen-shot-death-park-carrollton-jonah/
http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/dallas/Two-deaths-in-three-days-devastate-Coppell-HS-174663651.html

jonah

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I’d like to take a moment to remember all these young people whose lives were tragically cut short. Unfortunate accidents and events shattered their dreams in an instant. May they rest in peace forever. And may the future be bright for those still lucky enough to have their lives.

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“In the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go,

but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.” ~ Life of Pi

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Self Care Sunday: Things happy people do differently.

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I found this list and think it offers many ideas on how to take care of ourselves. A few points resonate with me as things I am working on these days.

1. Express gratitude: We can always find reasons to complain, but it’s more of a challenge to be thankful for everything we do have instead of always wanting more.

Looking back over the years since I became a stay home mom, this idea helps me to appreciate the opportunity to stay home instead of going to work and being stressed out all the time. When I have laundry and dishes to do, I feel happier when I look at the chores with gratitude. I am thankful to have a family to take care of and the time to do it. Many women wish they could have children but can’t. Many women wish they could stay home and not work. Although I feel pain most days, I’m thankful I can walk, talk, see, hear, swim and do yoga. Other people have physical problems way worse than mine.

3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparisons: Man, that’s a tough one for me. I’m definitely an over-thinker. And I’m definitely aware of social comparisons. Even when I try not to think that way, someone else will remind me how I am different from most people. And the over-thinking? Well that’s one reason I have a blog. It helps to get my thoughts out so they aren’t just bouncing around in my brain. I’m also a deep thinker, so on a daily basis I have to remind myself not to worry about the unexplainable mysteries of life and to try not to worry about all the horrible things that could happen to me, my husband, or my kids. I infer things when I probably shouldn’t. I get my feelings hurt easily. And once you’ve crossed me, things are never the same. (See #7.)

5. Nurture social relationships: I am a social being. I knew that a long time ago. Since I moved to Texas though, I’ve been suffering from square peg in a round hole syndrome, so to speak. Although it’s easy to isolate myself, I’ve been making a point recently to nurture more relationships with my girlfriends. Spending quality time with the few friends I do have is important to me and gives me things to look forward to.

7. Learn to forgive: It sounds easy in theory and always makes sense. Taking the high road is always the answer no matter what the problem. But there are certain relationships where I have difficulty walking the walk. I know I should forgive, but I have to work past my pride and hurt to do it. I have to learn to forgive although it doesn’t mean the other person was necessarily right. But I do see that holding on to grudges can be toxic, so I am trying one day at a time.

8. Increase flow experiences: I love this one. It’s so important. And I’m happy to report that I do find myself caught up in the flow with certain experiences. It doesn’t happen as much as I’d like it to, but hey one little step at a time, right? When do I experience going with the flow and get so immersed in the activity that I don’t think about anything else? When I’m playing guitar, riding my bike, doing yoga, meditating, and tutoring math. There is nothing like getting caught up in an activity that brings happiness.

11. Practice spirituality: I don’t really practice religion because it pushes buttons from my upbringing when I had Christianity shoved down my throat. But, over the years I’ve learned to appreciate other ways of thinking (like Eastern religions) and have developed a universal view to our existence. I do understand that we are tiny specks of life in a planet in a universe surrounded by space. I’m humbled by my place in the universe, and I do realize that while my life seems so important to me, that I am just a miniscule part of life in the bigger picture. Instead of professing that I know the answers to life and death, I’m learning to accept not knowing. I am learning to trust that life is a process that will continue long after I’m gone, and it brings me some peace to know it’s all part of a bigger picture that I have no control over. All I can do is focus on living my life one day at a time and hope to make some kind of difference in the world while I am here.

What items on this list resonate with you? How are you taking care of yourself today?

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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My Experiences with a Ouija Board

Have you ever used a Ouija board? Although its a cardboard board game made by Hasbro, it claims to allow users to commune with the Spirit world. There is a game board with every letter of the alphabet as well as numbers, hello, goodbye, yes, and no. Players touch a plastic piece, and it moves around the board to spell out answers to questions. People use them to talk to the dead. Ouija boards open up a door to the world beyond ours, and people can supposedly communicate with spirits.

I played with Ouija boards when I was in college. I played with friends at school in Lexington, VA, and I played with friends on visits to my childhood home in Springfield, VA. I was open to the idea but recognized the probability that of one of my friends pushing the plastic piece around.

Things changed for me when one particular spirit consistently started talking to me. It kept spelling out SUSU (I went by Susie back then). I would ask, “who is this?” And it would answer, “SATAN.” Freaked out? Yes. But I thought my friends were probably messing with me. Then the same thing happened with different friends in Lexington while I was at college. I played with entirely different people and didn’t tell them about what happened at home. I didn’t understand how the same thing could happen with entirely different people. And I know I wasn’t doing it.

Then one night, I woke up with half my bedroom on fire. I fell asleep with a candle lit. It was on top of a speaker with a bandana under it like a little table cloth. Don’t hate-I was in college. I also had a tie-dyed tapestry hanging from the wall and some dirty laundry on the floor by the speaker. All of it was on fire, speaker and everything. Adrenaline pumping, I called 911, woke my roommate and got out of the apartment. I think four fire trucks arrived on the scene. It was quite a scare.

The next time I played with the Ouija board was the very last time I ever played or will play again in my life. Again, ‘SATAN’ contacted me and called me ‘SUSU.’ Then it said, “FIRE LAVA HAHA’ over and over again. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

I packed it up and went to the back of the apartment building and threw it in the dumpster.

Real or not, it freaked me out. I can’t explain what happened.

I’m not sure if I believe in ghosts, but I also don’t think there is evidence against the possibility of ghosts. So who knows? I just know I’m staying away from Ouija boards!
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Life of Pi

I saw Life of Pi again today. My oldest daughter hadn’t seen it yet, and my two younger kids and I wanted to see it again. After reading the book and seeing it twice, I wanted to write a response to the story and what it said to me.

I loved how it mixed non-fiction with fiction and all the spiritual metaphors. It’s an incredible, unbelievable story told by the main character who survived against the odds. The story is framed as one that will make people believe in god. He is narrating the story to a friend of a friend, an author looking to write an incredible story.

Pi said we don’t know god until someone introduces him to us. Pi is born Hindu, but is also inspired by Christianity and Islam. His dad tells him to start with rational thinking and what science has proven. Believing in everything is like believing in nothing.

A common theme was appreciation of the diversity of life. Pi’s family owned a zoo with a plethora of creatures. When he survived the shipwreck during his family’s move from India to Canada, he found himself alone at sea with a tiger, hyena, zebra, and an orangutan.

Pi had compassion for animals and saw their souls in their eyes. His father told him he was only seeing his own emotions reflected in the animals’ eyes. He saved the tiger from drowning and said sorry to a fish he killed to feed it.

The tiger, Richard Parker, ate the other animals. He and Pi learned to coexist during their twenty seven days at sea. They faced life threatening hunger and thirst and were overwhelmed by the power of the stormy seas.

Pi surrendered to god, having lost everything. He didn’t give up hope.

Once he surrendered, the storm passed and the boat washed up on a carnivorous island. Beautiful and teeming with life during the day, it became acidic and brought death to the animals at night. After some rest, hydration, and nutrition, he decided to get back on the life boat. He didn’t leave Richard Parker behind because it would have meant killing him.

They finally washed up on a Mexican shore. Pi was so weak he could barely hold his head up. Richard Parker jumped off the boat, walked to the forest, and paused for a few moments and gazed into the forest. Pi hoped the tiger would turn around and look at him and was disappointed when he didn’t. After everything they endured together, he wanted some closure, an end, before he disappeared so unceremoniously into the forest.

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Daily Prompt: Un/Faithful (Tell us about the role that faith plays in your life – or doesn’t)

To me, faith is wishing, hoping, positive thinking.  I don’t think it hurts, but I also don’t think it helps.  In a religious context, I’ve struggled with faith over the years. In fact I wrote a blog entry the other day explaining my position on religion and faith.  Here is a link in case you haven’t read it yet.

https://susannenelson.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/what-does-christmas-mean-to-you/

I don’t have faith that prayer works, but I don’t think it hurts to pray (to wish and hope for a desired outcome).  But over and over, I’ve seen prayers come back with tragedy (especially in the case where someone dies and people have been praying and praying for healing).

Thanks for reading. Peace out.