21 Day Yoga Girl Challenge Day 8: Manifesting Dreams #yogagirlchallenge

Now that we’ve practiced having an attitude of gratitude, today’s challenge was to share something about our dreams.

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I’m working on these three yoga poses: grasshopper, scorpion, and royal pidgeon. Rachel taught us how to access the arm and forearm balances so now I can incorporate them into my practice. One day, I will be able to do them.

I am working hard on my core and hope to have six pack abs one day. Not just because they look good, but also because core strength is such an important component of overall fitness, posture, and ability to advance athletic performance.

Thinking about my next tattoo and loving the idea of a lotus flower. Not necessarily this one, but this one is cool especially with the om symbol (the symbol of universal vibrations). The lotus flower grows in the muddy water and blooms when it reaches the light.

I’m keeping Aruba and the lessons I learned there in my heart and dreaming my way back there. Definitely plan to return as soon as possible.

I’m focusing my energies on gratitude, love, and being myself. The law of attraction says that we attract what we think about. So, I’m thinking positive. I’m thinking that life and love are pretty darn awesome.

Following my passion for math and taking calculus this fall after years of wanting and wishing. Never took it in college, took college algebra (pre-requisite) in 2007 and trigonometry (pre-requisite) spring 2014. Finally making it happen at 46 years old!

Have been keeping up with previous days of the challenge as much as I can. In addition to focusing on manifesting dreams today, I started my day with hot lemon water, did a long yoga class with meditation, spent some time outdoors being grateful for the lovely weather, was on time for yoga class, and walked my dogs.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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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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Fiction Friday #13: Life: From Lion to Lamb

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It’s Fiction Friday with the Friday Fiction Friends, formerly the Friday Fiction Femmes Fatales. We have a new (male) writer now. We all write different stories based on the same prompt, given to us by Molly Field at Grass Oil. March’s theme is luck and renewal. This is the thirteenth episode in an ongoing series. If you missed the first twelve episodes, here are the links:

7. Love
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Just like expression goes for the month of March, “in like a lion, out like a lamb,” we all come into this life crying and bloody and leave it in silence and peace. We are born alone, and we die alone. Life is a journey we share with others but ultimately, it’s a journey we take alone. With the promise of every new birth, every new life, there is the certainty that life will end. When, where, how, and why we never get to know in advance. That’s the game of life. Enjoy it while it lasts because in geological time, it’s a fleeting moment in the vastness of space. What matters the most is what happens in between birthdays and deathdays. That’s what we call life.
Richard Keilsth left this earth suddenly and unexpectedly. He didn’t get to say goodbye to anybody, and Amanda and their boys, Steven, Brad, and Robert were left behind to pick up the pieces. Somehow, they had to accept the facts and move on with their lives without a husband and a father.
He also left behind a broken-hearted mistress, Amanda’s so-called best friend, Amy. Amanda told her not to go to the funeral and didn’t really care about talking to her for a while. She had more important things to think about, specifically saying a final goodbye to the love of her life.
Even if he was cheating on her and not a perfect husband, Richard was the love of her life. She met him while she was still in college, and they got married soon afterwards. He built a family with her and shared history with her. Amanda was working on taking the high road and forgiving both of them. What was the point of being angry with Richard when he was already gone forever? As she reflected back on their lives together, she felt that their true love outweighed all the ups and downs in their relationship. Amanda appreciated everything they experienced together during their twenty years together and couldn’t believe their love story had come to an end.
Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio

Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amanda went to the funeral home with her boys early and stayed late to have some personal time with him. They were all dressed in black suits. The boys were sullen, with freshly brushed hair and matching ties. She hugged each of them and fought back tears. Amanda dreaded the idea of everything that was about to happen. After losing two children already, the funeral home was a far too familiar place for the Keilsth family. First there would be the visitation, long lines of people to greet, then the funeral and burial followed by a reception. She knew she had to be strong to get through the next couple of days, stronger than she’d ever been before because this time her sons only had one parent to guide them through their loss.
Her final moments with Richard were breathtaking. The last time she saw him was in the hospital, and then there he was in the coffin dressed in his favorite suit, peaceful, and silent. Make up made him look surreal. He truly was gone. What lay before her was the shell of the man she loved. His spirit and his energy were already long gone. There he was, the man who had saved so many people’s lives with his hands, the man who laughed boldly and loved intensely, lying there still in repose, gentle as a lamb. Never again would he surprise Amanda with flowers after work or jump into the pool. Never again would he betray her when she wasn’t paying attention. Their entire life together flashed in her mind as the reality sunk in.
She thought of a video she saw on Facebook earlier that day and took some deep breaths.
The message of appreciating all the ordinary moments before they are gone resonated with her soul. How true were those words, how little do we truly appreciate the day-to-day beauty present in our lives? Had she truly loved Ella and Anderson while they were here? Did Richard know how much she loved him that fateful day? Losing them so quickly and unexpectedly taught her an important lesson. We never really know if tomorrow will come, and we need to take the time today to tell people we love them. We need to take the time every day in all those ordinary moments to treasure and appreciate the lives we have. For just as it is certain a child will one day grow up and move away from home, each and every one of our loved ones will leave us too, and we never know when it will happen.
She said her final goodbyes and laid him down to rest the next day in their family plot at the local cemetery. The funeral train extended for miles as everybody who knew and loved Richard, except his mistress Amy, came out to pay their final respects. That night, Amanda dreamed of Richard, Ella, and Anderson.
Nobody spoke any words, but she clearly remembered their three figures standing there holding hands. She woke up with the feeling that he was at peace on the other side with their two children. While she wished they had exchanged words or that she could remember more of the details, it gave her a soft feeling in her heart to know that they were together on the other side. She felt empowered to watch over her boys on this side, and the memory of the dream was so vivid it made her feel like they would be there waiting for her when it was her time to go. He was truly a part of her, and his spirit would continue to live through her and their sons and grand-daughter.
She got out of bed and resolved to start a new day in her new life. No more guilt, no more anger, no more fighting, just peace. She pressed play on her iPhone and this song by Rascal Flatts came on:
“It wasn’t long enough together, but it was long enough to last forever.” ~Rascal Flatts
RIP Richard Keilsth
1961-2013

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Here is the prompt:

March, “in like a lion, out like a lamb” —
for our writing: to be deflated, belittled or humbled after the failure of a daring or boastful act.

I’m putting a couple of restrictions on this one though to sharpen your lion’s writing claws before we submit to our kinder, gentler lamblike selves: 1,000 words max and no dialogue, all description. *Show* not tell: how your character has softened, deflated from the beginning of his/her intro in even one post? to now.

Visit the other blogs to see what they wrote with the same prompt:
http://www.clearlykristal.com/
http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/
http://www.bulamamani.com/
http://www.itsadomelife.com/
http://www.debiehive.blogspot.com/
http://www.mollyfield.com/
http://neargenius1.blogspot.com/
http://the-suds-box.blogspot.ca/
http://www.quirkychrissy.com/
http://www.katbiggie.com/
http://theincompetenthausfrau.wordpress.com/
http://temorgan.blogspot.com/

Follow us on Twitter:

@SusanneNelson1

@clearlykristal
@worldsworstmoms
@BuLaMamaNi
@ItsADomeLife
@DeBieHive
@MollyFieldTweet
@monsterNbox
@chrissawoj
@Near_Genius
@katbiggie
@uncwisdom
@incompetentfrau

Follow us on Facebook:

DeBie Hive
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No Holding Back
Unconventional Wisdom
The Incompetent Hausfrau

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

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What are you afraid of?

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Do one thing every day that scares you.

But I am scared! I can see the value of scaring yourself for a challenge. Pushing limits and broadening horizons are worthwhile pursuits. But I prefer not to scare myself at my age.

I don’t even want to think about what scares me, much less do scary things.

What scares me?
Snakes, spiders, slugs, crickets, anything that will cause pain/injury, closed in spaces, death.

Today, I went to a movie without being scared that a crazy gunman might kill me. How about you?

Thanks for reading. Peace out.

Aside

“What does Christmas mean to you?” A friend asked me recently during a religious debate on Facebook. She and I think very differently and frequently have discussions on the topic of religion.

I respect all religions, even if I don’t believe them. If something in your chosen faith works for you, great.  It just doesn’t work for me. We are all entitled to our opinions.  In explaining the meaning of Christmas, I also have to explain my history with religion and how I came to think the way I do today.

At first blush, Christmas is about Jesus’s birthday.  I can get on board with that.  But do I believe the story of a virgin mother etc? No, I don’t.English: Oberhausmuseum ( Passau ). Nativity (...

I was born into a fundamentalist Christian (Methodist) family. My mom chose Christianity  for me. My ancestors include a Bishop, preachers, and my mom was a missionary in Japan for three years.  My family expected me to get on board and give my life to Christ.

Jesus H. Christ

My mom is/was a church organist. I spent every Sunday morning at church (three services) and attended hundreds of weddings where she played.  I went to vacation bible school in the summers and attended Sunday School and services every single week.  My mom baptized me Christian, but sometime between then and confirmation (around twelve years of age), my critical thinking mechanism kicked in.  I remember sitting through sermons and doodling on my program, wondering to myself, “How does he know that?”  about whatever it was the minister was saying.  I endured countless Sunday afternoon discussions about the sermons.  Every Christmas, I sat through bible readings and church services reluctantly to show respect to my elders.  But I never bought the stories. Never.  I didn’t go through with confirmation. I didn’t accept Jesus Christ as my savior. Why? Because I didn’t believe all the stories.  Nobody could answer my questions about how they know all that is true.

While most people are accepting of whatever religion they are born into, I wanted to make my own choices and find answers to the mysterious questions of life and death on my own.  After all, human beings created religion to address and answer the big question and in an attempt to explain natural phenomena all around us.

I never understood the connection between Christmas being Jesus’s birthday and Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer etc.  Nobody could explain that to me either.  Now I get it that these are characters involved with winter, and that Christmas was actually a replacement holiday for the pagan ritual of celebrating Winter Solstice.  It’s kind of like how Easter means Jesus’s resurrection to Christians, but it’s also based on a celebration of the spring, and a time of new life in the natural world.  From my understanding of history, Christianity adopted these holidays to attract Pagans (who celebrated the Earth long before Christianity came about.)

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Esperanto: Patro Kristnasko kaj malgranda knabino Suomi: Joulupukki ja pieni tyttö (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My family treated me like ‘the black sheep’ because I didn’t accept Jesus as my savior. My grandmother told me I wouldn’t go to heaven and participate in the family reunion in the sky, and I wouldn’t go to hell (because I wasn’t a bad person), but that I would float endlessly in the void after death.

Yes, she really said that.  Fast forward to today, and it’s no wonder I have death anxiety.

In college, I studied eastern religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Japanese Shin Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and Chinese Philosophy).  While they don’t believe in an outside God, they believe we all have a divine spark within us and that heaven and hell are right here on Earth. Our thoughts and actions (karma) decide what kind of rebirth we will have, and we continue on the wheel of life until we reach spiritual enlightenment.  Eastern teaching made more sense to me, although I would not call myself a Buddhist or the like.  I like the ideas of going with the flow of the universe and the focus on living life in a kind and compassionate way toward all living things.

Buddha

Buddha (Photo credit: eschipul)

As a new teacher, I taught a unit on world religions. It was eye-opening to learn so much about how the other cultures in the world think, their traditions, and the similarities and differences.

English: World Religions by percentage accordi...

English: World Religions by percentage according to CIA World Factbook 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The scientific revolution occurred long after the many authors wrote the books of the bible .  We now have evidence of early humans, dinosaurs, and billions of years of geologic time.  We venture into space and continue to explore the farthest reaches of the universe.  We understand a lot more about life on this planet than we did back in the days of Greek Mythology or early Christianity.

Like it or not, it's true.

Like it or not, it’s true.

I studied science in college.  I’m fascinated by the Earth and Space.  Science has shaped my world view.  Over time, I’ve started to feel very humble by my place in the universe, and I can honestly say that I don’t know all the answers. I don’t think anybody else really knows the answers either. Have you seen the movie, Religulous yet?

Again, if it works for you great, but Christianity takes faith to believe.  When I press any of my Christian friends or family members for answers, the answer is ‘faith.’  I can’t have faith in stories that read like tall tales and there is scientific evidence against. I just can’t.  Maybe that is a fault of my intellect, but I’m  comfortable calling myself an Agnostic.  I think there might be a greater power, but I don’t know.  I don’t know where I was before I was born. I don’t know where I will go after I die. But I do know in the meantime, I will be a kind and loving person and have respect for the diversity of life on the planet.  To me, we are all human beings – brothers and sisters sharing this amazing Earth.  Religion inspires some, but it also divides people and cultures. Killing in the name of God is something I don’t understand.  I wish everybody could just get along, but I realize that is idealistic.

Coexist

Coexist (Photo credit: pbyrne)

As a child, we celebrated Christmas and Easter every year, and I still do so with my husband and kids. However, I give them a wider perspective on the holidays and on religion in general.  I teach them that Christianity is one of the major world religions, and even though it is the predominant religion in the U.S.A. Christians make up only one-third of the world population.  I teach them to ask, “how can one religion be right and all the other ones be wrong?”

To get back to answering the question, Christmas means the following things to me:

1. Time together with family. Let’s face it, that’s the best part of Christmas. 

2. A celebration of the winter. The celebration of light returning after darkness, snow, evergreen trees, wintry wildlife etc.

3.  The practice of giving to others to bring them joy. My son asked me the other day if Christmas is about giving or getting. Of course I said giving. He said no, it’s about getting. And isn’t that exactly what we teach them as kids?  As a kid, it is about getting lots of presents, and as adults we grow into the role of giving.  Again, that is where the Santa/Jesus stories are not very consistent.

4.  The opportunity to help others who are less fortunate than I am. We always adopt ‘angels’ to provide for.

5.  A chance to recharge, reflect, and reconnect. Our lives are so hectic with work, school, and extra-curricular activities. It’s so nice to have time to get back to being a family and get in touch with our true selves.

6. Abundance of food and joyous spirit. Happy children, aging parents, surprises, wishing, hoping, delicious meals and desserts.

In case you are wondering why Christ isn’t on the list, it’s because the dogma turns me off.  Here are a few specific examples:

1. Non-believers will go to hell after death (or in my case float around endlessly in the void).  Who are you to judge me and damn me to hell?

2. People who are dead are in a better place.  I think that is impossible to know.  And from what we can see from our side, it sure doesn’t seem better.

3. There is only one God.  Not according to the other religions.

4.  Jesus died to absolve us of our sins. I really don’t understand how that works.

5.  All the tall tales that people take literally – like the creation story, the talking snake in the garden of Eden, God created woman from a man’s rib so she could be man’s happy helpmate, 900 year old Noah filling the ark with two of every animal, the destruction of the tower of Babel so humans couldn’t reach too close to God, that different languages developed so we couldn’t conspire against God, the virgin mother, etc. The list just goes on and on.

6. The idea women are inferior to men, that men make all the decisions in the house. I think not.

7. The idea that humans should have dominion over all of nature. That idea is to blame for much of the destruction of the natural world.

8. That Satan exists.  Why can’t we just leave it as human nature having good and bad sides? Why do we have to make up a red demon character with horns and a tail?

9.  That you must have faith to believe all these things even though they make no sense at all. It totally reminds me of the spiritual message in the movie, Life of Pi, where the story is so unbelievable and he draws a comparison to all of religion being that way in the end.

10. The Rapture.  We should all live our lives in fear of judgement day?  What kind of loving God would be exclusionary of good people even if they haven’t chosen Jesus as their savior? What about innocent children who haven’t had a chance to choose for themselves yet?   And on that note, why does an all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful God let bad things happen?  Why does he allow  people to murder innocent people?

I do like much of what I understand Jesus’s teachings. For example, loving one another, and helping the sick, elderly, and the poor.  But I think these are concepts that are present in all religions.  In fact, love is the one thing that all religions have in common.  If Jesus came back to life today, he would be seen as a peace-loving, long-haired, sandal wearing hippie. I think he would like me just fine.

“I heard Jesus, he drank wine, and I bet we’d get along just fine.  He can calm the storm and heal the blind, and I bet he’d understand a heart like mine.” ~Miranda Lambert

lifeofpi

Thank you for reading this entry. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts in the comments. Peace out!

What Does Christmas Mean to You?

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Thank You

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Thank you for visiting me in my world. This is a place where I look inside and out at the world around me and share my thoughts with you. I truly appreciate you taking time out of your day to stop and read my blog entries.

I started my blog in an effort to build a writing habit. It’s a place where I tell the story of my life and share my thoughts and opinions on topics that interest me.
And it means a lot to me that you are here for whatever reason you came.

I’ve always been a thinker, and it feels good to have a safe place to share my thoughts. I hope I can offer you something while you are here. We are all in this life together.

Peace!