Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My favorite saying....for the new year :)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And 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.”

-Marianne Morrison

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


2010 is almost over, and with it, a bittersweet reflection of the last year. I'll be glad to say good riddens to this year, but I'm excited about all the wonderful things that 2011 has in store. This holiday season brings more nostalgia and hope than I've felt in a long, long time.

The great thing about difficult periods in your life is that they always have an end. Time does not stop for anyone, even if it feels like it when you are stuck in a bad place.

One way to get over difficult times as they are happening is to remember what you are thankful for.Thanksgiving is a great reminder to focus on the positives in your life. If you have to, make a list. Nothing is too small. A chocolate bar, for example, may seem a silly thing to feel thankful for, but there are many unfortunate people out there who don't have chocolate in their lives (can you imagine?!)

Since I like to practice what I preach, I've made my own list below. Have a great holiday :)

Just a few things I am very thankful for:
  • The clouds outside my office window - blue skies in November!
  • Christmas trees, and all the symbolic, memorable treasures we decorate them with.
  • My boyfriend, who renewed my faith and trust in goodness.
  • My best friend, who bought me a wedding-designer expensive cake for my birthday.
  • Hot chocolate with marshmallows, especially after frolicking around in the snow.
  • Moments when suddenly everything starts to make sense.
  • Knowledge - the quest for it, the acquiring of it, and the eye-opening aspects of it.
  • People who surprise you by how well they know you.
  • My mom, for packing up everything in my home when I was too despondent to be of much help.
  • My dad, for spending tireless hours upkeeping my house and yard this summer.
  • Days when you get unexpected good news.
  • Laredo and Lexi, and the unjudging, loyal love that animals give so easily.
  • Peace and safety. Mostly in my personal life, but in general too.
  • Meijer moose tracks chocolate ice cream.
  • My realtor, for her persistence and her empathy.
  • My lawyer, who charged me less than half what he usually charges, and the friend who sent me to him.
  • Little kids' laughter and how they remind us that happiness is a natural state.
  • Lounge pants and chamomile tea, green tea, black tea....oh, any kind of tea, with my tea buddy ;)
  • Short weeks at work. 'Nuff said.
  • The therapist I saw for a while during my ordeal, and her painful but necessary honesty.
  • White sand beaches, shells, and sunshine.
  • The jail clerk who slipped me a free copy of my police report when he was supposed to charge me.
  • Students who thank me for my help.
  • The friend who drove my Uhaul and moved every piece of furniture into my apartment this summer, put together my bed, and carried in my new TV.
  • My classmates, who supportively witnessed the tumultuous story that is the past year of my life.
  • The judge who refused his request that the protective order be released early.
  • Famous Dave's tasty array of barbecue sauce choices :)
  • My boss, for toughening my skin and teaching me how to speak up for myself.
  • Spinach salad with strawberries, bleu cheese, and almonds.
  • Being more than halfway done with my masters degree.
  • My iPod Touch that I won this year.
  • Redefining life, which can encompass some or all of the following: New realities, turning points, and not looking back. All are good things in the end.
  • Laughing really hard with someone who totally gets the joke.
  • Notre Dame healthcare and benefits.
  • Honesty. Honesty. Honesty. Sweet honesty.
  • My grandparents, who have been married more than 60 years.
  • Student workers who do all the typing and filing.
  • The power of self-love.
  • People who push you to be better people and hold you accountable.
  • Sleeping in, with coffee to follow.
  • Comedic TV shows: The Office, 30 Rock, Modern Family, Conan on TBS
  • Learning to not sweat the small stuff
  • What it feels like after a long workout and hot shower
  • Giving of yourself, and knowing someday it will come full circle

and so much more....

Friday, November 5, 2010

This is the air we breathe....

This morning, driving to work, for the tenth time since I started listening to the song Breathe, by Michael W. Smith, I was brought to tears. Something about that song speaks to me in a way that no other Christian music ever has.

And it made me realize something else pretty significant that came out of the tough times of the past two years of my life: The strengthening of my faith. It's not really the song that brings me to tears, it's the power of my faith.

You would not have caught me crying to a Christian song three years ago. Not to say I wasn't a Christian, or that I didn't believe in God. I was, and I did. I've always felt I had a strong personal relationship with God due to being raised in a religious household and attending Catholic Schools since kindergarten.

However, I don't think I fully understood my faith. It had been fed to me in a steady diet since I was a child; too young to know exactly what it was. It hadn't developed due to my own needs or feelings. Plus, I gotta admit, Catholic mass doesn't do the best job of evoking emotion or passion towards God. So, I was taught, and I ran with it. I believed it. But did I have a strong, emotional connection to it? I don't think so.

I knew God was there for me, I knew I could fall back on my faith, but I didn't interact with it. I didn't have the awe and reverence for it that I do now. I definitely didn't comprehend its power.

There were times before the divorce - a year before - where I was so miserable I didn't know what to do anymore. I didn't want to come home after work because I knew the day would be unhappy from when I walked in the door until I fell asleep. There were times I got in bed really early - like 8 p.m. - just so that I could usher the next day in quicker and walk out the door again.

Other times I would summon up some optimism and say "it's going to be okay!" running home full of hope and denial, cooking big dinners while he laid on the couch and Blackberry messaged with his girlfriend.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Lately I've found it hard to write.

I wouldn't call it writer's block or lack of creativity, but more of a calm serenity that doesn't quite lend itself to art.

I don't know why exactly, except for the fact that I'm happy. Sometimes pain can provide just the artistic poison to fuel some really great writing. But it can also provide some really cliche sappy stuff too (Believe me, I've thrown out many a pathetic poem from those times).

Last night, however, in my groggy half asleep content state after class, I wrote something I really like. And it was fueled by the absence of pain. Or rather, the journey of going through the pain and still landing in a painless place... if that makes any sense at all.

Basically, sometimes you have to go through the pain and mess to be able to get to where you want to be. When people make the joke "You can't get there from here!" There is actually a lot of truth to that. I couldn't have gotten to where I am now without going through what I did. I didn't even know I wanted to be here back then, so I certainly couldn't have mapped out a route.

To get to the place of your dreams you may need to take an alternate, unplanned, sometimes painful way. The twisted way.

But when you get through it, suddenly the darkness subsides and the place you were looking for appears. So that is what this poem is about.

I didn't believe this harbor existed.
I thought it a myth, a fable.
But I can see it now that I've arrived.
This is more than a soft place to rest,
more than a passing whim.
I'll drop anchor in this place I thought hopeless.
I'll dive into the blue-green shimmer below
And leave the rest behind.
The sun itself seems cold and distant compared to this.
I'll put down my compass,
Take off my life jacket and surrender.
This place would not be possible without you.
Stay here and swim with me.
We can believe the unbelievable, and walk on water.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away....

Mara almost got me yesterday. I must admit I spent at least two hours of my day pretty much destroyed.

Today is a new day, and everything will be fine. unfortunately there is no turning back to the day before yesterday. But yesterday taught me a lesson.

Sometimes it is when you are comfortable and happy that your personal Mara gets stronger. It finds the weakness, the loophole ... simply because you have let your guard down.

One thing I had to remind myself is that there is no ignoring or forgetting about what happened in my life almost a year ago. I can and have moved on, but it will still touch me in some way, shape, or form, for probably the rest of my life.

Yesterday it touched me in a way I didn't see coming, and that shook me pretty hard. But I have to keep reminding myself that I have moved forward, beyond the evil that was an everyday part of my life. There is no longer a hand around my ankle while I'm swimming up for air. Although I let that hand drown me for far too long, I've wrestled free. It's gone - for good. And I thank God every day for giving me the strength to get out.

Yes, I will feel the ghost hand's presence in the water. I may be affected financially, physically, emotionally, for longer than I anticipated. But all I can do is keep moving forward, keep making good choices about who I let into my life, and keep my head above water. Keep growing, and learning from my mistakes, and being the loving person that I am. I can only move upward from here.

I also did a couple of strategic things that helped me when Mara was present yesterday. I prayed for what I have, rather than what I had lost. It was really hard, because I was feeling horrible. But I sat down and looked around me, thanking God for things like a roof, a cat, food, water, my faith, the unyielding love of those around me. I forced myself to focus on a small ray of light above me while sitting in what felt like a rock-bottom hole. And it helped.

With everything else I've been through and the fact that I'm still here, I knew that I would be okay.

I found the below quote at Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, a bible website I stumbled upon. It's within a passage about God never giving you more than you can handle.

"Your Father loves you. Your Father knows what you can handle. He knows what He can trust you with. There's something much bigger, something much more eternal going on here than you can possibly imagine, maybe even a contest over you between the devil and God Himself. Carry your burden faithfully, with undiminished allegiance to your Lord and daily downloading of the mighty grace of God."

A contest over you between the devil and God himself!


I've heard the idea of God not giving you more than you can handle, but never thought of the grand plan in that way. Sometimes life really feels like just that - like you're caught in the middle of the war between God and the devil.

These periods of love and pain interspersed. Like a cyclical tug and a pull of beauty and pain going back and forth with the times. Such is life.

I know one thing - If there is anything at all I can do, I will not let God lose this battle. And I still consider myself very incredibly lucky, for the angels he's sent to fight by my side.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just another poem about love

What I was waiting for is here, it’s now,

And all is well.

The clock has stopped ticking in this quiet room.

It’s not attention-seeking, or your looks, or any other convoluted reason to conjure up love.

Although every bit of you is beautiful.

It’s your kindness that never wavers.

The way I see myself reflected in your eyes.

The electric pulse I feel in my stomach when I hear your voice.

Or how when I first glimpse your smiling face,

I feel like I’m home.

It’s the grace I feel in wanting to make you happy,

because of this happiness you create in me

And the peace in knowing

The soft skin of your cheek will touch mine

For as long as I let it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just Smile :)

I'm really happy lately.

You might be thinking, well, good for you. But as I'm in this happiness, I've been studying it. Like I overthink and pick apart everything else, I also pick apart my own happiness.

And what I've realized is that happiness is not at all purely a biological emotion. Happiness is an attitude, a behavior. You can CHOOSE to be happy, and something about choosing to be happy on your own and having control over it makes that happiness even more delicious. It makes you feel on top of the world, like nothing can touch you.

I also think it's a skill that has to be learned, and a lot of it is learned through adversity. There is nothing like hitting rock bottom and knowing you have nothing else to lose, and then pulling through it, to show you that everything's going to be okay no matter what happens. You've lost everything you thought you knew, yet God is here, and he's been here all along. You are still here. So why sweat anything from here on out? All that is accomplished by worrying, anger and depression is making yourself sick and spreading that sickness to others. Choosing to smile through rough times is a beautiful thing. It is a human representation of God's beauty. I believe people need to embrace it more often.

A few days ago I was getting ready to get on a plane for a work conference and as soon as I walked up to the counter, three airline representatives with stern faces greeted me with "we have bad news."

It was obvious  that they were there as a unified front to take a beating from however many passengers they would have to inform about our canceled flight. Having traveled quite a bit for work, I've often had to deal with canceled and delayed flights. To tell you the truth, having delays while traveling is a minor inconvenience when you are traveling alone. When you are with 30 teenagers (how I often travel for work), it's a much more frustrating issue (but still, not the end of the world). So if it happens when I'm alone, I always feel blessed that it's just me. And to tell you the truth, I would rather airlines cancel flights due to weather or mechanical issues rather than put passengers in an unsafe situation. Weather happens, mechanical failures happen - it is simply a part of life.

Plus, I just don't see the point in getting worked up and angry with airline representatives. It's not their fault your plans are delayed. And being angry does not magically make a new flight or plane appear out of the clouds just for you. It does not solve anything. Suck it up, and rearrange your plans. You will live.

Monday, August 30, 2010


I haven't had much time to write, as I'm gearing up for the academic year at work and about to get on a plane to California for a conference, but I've decided to share some thoughts I've been having lately about trust. I wish that when I was a young woman someone would have had a talk with me about trusting myself and my own intuition.

Trust is something I've wrestled with in my lifetime - trusting my gut, trusting people I've just met, and learning how to trust again after that trust has been given and destroyed. I've improved on all of it through the years, but one thing I think people struggle with the most is trusting themselves.

This idea of "trusting your gut" is actually very valuable. I never used to pay attention to my gut feeling, but now it's my bible. It's not some spacy notion or telepathic ability. It's a feeling, a judgement, a perception. We are all intuitive in our own way, it is built into us as a defense mechanism. We often know something before we even know we know it, because of this "gut" feeling.

Ever been in a place you don't feel comfortable - like something is just "off" but you don't know why, and then something bad happens (you get mugged, a fight breaks out, etc.). That uncomfortableness you felt was your gut trying to tell you something. Ever been in a dating situation where things were just a little not right....not enough to be bad, but enough to be wary? I don't have to ask how that situation ended, because I've been there myself. That time, I didn't trust my gut and ended up hanging on too long to something that was too wrong.

I've learned to hone and sharpen my "gut" instincts now. I make myself pay attention to it. I look for the flags, I feel the feeling, and I pick it apart. I have literally stopped what I was doing and taken a moment to say "Okay, what is going on here? What am I feeling exactly, and why am I feeling it?"

Sometimes it takes a minute to get to the root of it. Other times you don't figure it out right away, but you have to trust your gut anyway. But trust me, it's saved me from a lot of tricky, dangerous, awkward, and just plain unneccessary situations!

Listen to your intuition. You'll be glad you did, I promise.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I turned 30 years old today.

A milestone such as this makes me reflect upon my life, where I am and where I'm headed. What have I learned thus far? What kind of ideas, habits, things should I leave behind in my twenties?

Last night I went to see the movie "Eat, Pray, Love," based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert. I've read it twice, as well as the sequel ("Committed"), so not surprisingly I enjoyed the movie as well. But there was a part I had forgotten about in the book, a particularly emotionally intense scene about forgiveness that I found rough to watch.

I tend to be a pretty forgiving person and have heard a lot about the powers of forgiving others. I'll never forget a Joyce Meyers sermon I saw once on forgiveness. She said that we carry those we haven't forgiven around on our backs every day of our lives. Until we learn to forgive them, we walk through life hunched over, lugging around the incredible weight of that resentment. We'll never stand tall and get where we want to go until we release them. I find that to be true and work hard to forgive people who have hurt me.

But an even trickier psychological feat is learning how to forgive ourselves. Some people carry the luggage of their own mistakes around for far too long. You can tell the first time you meet them -  shoulders hunched, eyes cast downward...tired faces showing the pain of their struggles.

I don't want to become that person. In fact it's very important to me that I don't become that person, and that is what I've realized on this 30th birthday. I've been through a lot in the past couple of years, but it's time to stop carrying the weight of the two people I haven't forgiven; myself and my ex-husband.

It's time to forgive him - the person I spent nearly ten years of my life with. And it's time to forgive myself for whatever part I may have played that could have contributed to the end of our marriage.

The emotionally wrenching part of Eat, Pray, Love was where a man at an Indian Ashram talks of his struggles to forgive himself for his alcoholic past, as he assists Gilbert (the author) in working to forgive herself. Gilbert sits on the roof of an Indian Ashram, meditating about forgiveness and in the meantime picturing the happy days of her marriage, before her messy divorce. Except she changes the memories. She pictures herself in her wedding dress dancing with her ex-husband, who talks to her kindly about the divorce as if they were friends. And through this she gains forgiveness for herself.

Watching this I realized it's time for me to stop picturing that wedding dance and feeling horrible about it, even when the song plays on the radio. It's time to stop having flashbacks to good memories that hurt; like those ten days stumbling around small towns in Mexico with no plans and broken Spanish...dance parties by ourselves at home late at night.....our off-the trail hikes through thick woods and creeks with the dog, the way we'd make fun of the crazy people they interview on the local news, flying kites on the beach, the awesome halloween costumes we'd come up with every year....etc. etc.

It's time to delete the late night message he left on my phone when he was on vacation, rambling for five minutes about how much he adores me and is so in love with me and is so lucky to be my husband. The message I keep saving because I can't seem to let it go...because it's proof that I wasn't crazy, he was someone else when I married him.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cherishing the little moments

Last night, it was super hot and I worked and had class until about 9 p.m. It was one of those evenings where the air was thick and humid and the crickets were playing a symphony all around me. I had a hard day...actually a hard week, dealing with a multitude of difficult things that included conflicts at work, cram time at school, people I care about talking behind my back, personal/legal issues....etc. etc.

Yet, after a hard day and a hard week, on a dark, hot, night, I left class, rolled down the windows, drove down an empty road and sang "Two Pina Coladas" at the top of my lungs. That country song is not particularly a favorite song or even a favorite artist of mine, (tell you the truth I don't even like Pina Coladas), but it happened to be on the radio, and it worked in the moment.

You know the song..."Bring me two pina coladas, one for each hand, let's set sail with captain morgan, never leave dry land....troubles I forgot 'em, buried 'em in the sand..." etc .

Picture this: I had no traffic, a beautiful humid night, hair flying in the wind, and a fun song on the radio. It was all I needed to cherish one little happy moment of my day. Even if it was the only one.

You can often find me singing out loud in my car. It's something I do. I also sometimes talk to myself, working through the issues of the day, thinking out loud. Other times I may have a Dane Cook (comedian) CD playing, laughing out loud to stand-up that I have heard several times before but still find funny, or intently listening to an audio book.

I am one of those people who enjoys driving time by myself. It helps me to unwind, and I love music so it gives me a moment to just "be" and enjoy some tunes. A break to reflect. I often drive an extra block or two just to listen to the end of the song. (I've sometimes accidentally driven an extra block or two just because I was so intently thinking about something...lol)

But when I had my drive last night, I had a mindful moment where I stopped and realized how important what I was doing really was. I realized that it's moments like those that keep us alive. It's in those moments when we (badly) sing at the top of our lungs and enjoy the little things in this God-given life on earth, that we know that we will presevere.

It's in these moments that we are most un-reachable, the most un-touchable, by Mara or any other negative influence in our lives.

Speaking of negative influences, I have found recently that some people really don't like it when someone is strong, and happy. My students like to call these people "haters." Say what you will about me, but I love this world, I cherish my life, and I will continue to do so regardless of the things that have happened to me. I have no choice but to move on and try to be happy. I ask anyone who has a problem with it - what would you do if you were in my shoes? 

Do you know someone right now who may be having a hard time? What can you do for them? Are you doing anything negative...what kind of comments might you be making that could make the situation worse? What if someday you find yourself in that situation? How would you want them to treat you? Remember this always: Love your neighbor. So there's my two cents about the negative, gossipy people out there.

And, fellow car-singers - belt it out. It's good for ya.

Monday, August 9, 2010


At the time I wrote this poem, I thought I was writing it for someone else. Reading it now, I've come to find out it was actually about my journey and the light I've found within myself.

This is a strange place, our galaxy.
Feels like deja vu, think I've been here before.
It's here I saw the supernova,
the explosion of my star.

It lit me up like fire,
and shook me to my core.

The secret is my soul is lighter,
in pieces up here.
In white silence it floats without gravity,
It knows not time or fear.

I follow your glaring brightness,
though it has its high's and low's.
I wish I could catch it,
like a firefly in a jar, it glows.

When darkness tries to take me,
Your light pulls me even more.
Yet you sleep soundly on the tail of a comet,
Riding out its roar.

By daylight what I see in the mirror
is like magic or something taboo,
My reflection is different
And the scars, they faded too.

Next time I sleep,
I'll look for the light.
I'll hold on to the fire,
I'll put up a fight.

I'll float without gravity, uncontrolled
In search of that thing you have
That glitters like gold.

Monday, August 2, 2010


One of the most daunting aspects of Mara is fear. The thing about fear is that its very nature causes us to run from it. Fear is naturally built into our biological psyche as a way to preserve the human race by evading predators and other potentially harmful things.

So when we experience fear, our first natural thought is to avoid it. Which is good, it keeps us from jumping from buildings or driving at 100 mph. However, the human mind tends to run astray and experience fear when fear doesn't necessarily need to be experienced to protect our lives. Or its dial gets stuck on "fear" after something bad happens and we can't get back to normal.

We sit around and hide from things that we don't need to be hiding from, and because of this, we miss out on opportunities and don't live up to our potential. We are running from Mara, instead of inviting it to tea.

In the past year of my life I experienced fear in a way that I never had before. I had to experience fear on many levels-physical, emotional, financial. Fear of emotional well-being, fear of being attacked, fear of losing my job or of not being able to make ends meet in my new life. Fear of being alone. I had days where I was afraid to walk the few feet from my car to my house in the dark. Any of these fears on their own can be potentially devastating, and here I was getting the package deal all at once.

I was lucky to be raised in a very safe environment - two loving parents, strict curfews, etc. I've always had enough food to eat and the trust that the people around me had my best interests at heart. When you live in this sort of safety bubble it can be especially excruciating when your bubble gets burst.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Tao

I just realized I'd be completely remiss if I didn't mention the Tao, (Tao Te Ching: The New Translation from Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition (Tarcher Cornerstone Editions) because this book has had a major impact on my life and my current state of mind.

It sits on my nightstand, next to my bible. It is worn and tattered and underlined and scribbled. In the introduction, translator Johnathan Star says "this book will change your life."

It's the truth. Get it. Now.

Mara disguised: Always looking for answers

According to my dad, when I was little I used to ask "why." Alot. I was one of those pesky toddlers who was always like, "why, why, why?" I wanted to know the answer to things like "why is the sky blue?"

I don't really know why I always asked why, except that obviously the answer was very important to my young fresh eyes. (And why is the sky blue anyway? Does anyone know?)


I've realized that I never completely lost that habit and even into adulthood I find myself asking why quite often. These why's are not always verbalized as they were when I was a child, but they are often swirling around my head like insects to a flame, searching for answers.

I am a naturally curious person, probably the reason why my career goal in college was to be a reporter and why I worked as a reporter for three years at the beginning of my career. The biggest part of my job was asking why. If you failed to ask a "why," you might miss a big story. (One time I followed a teenager into the woods looking for homeless people. I also knocked on doors in crappy neighborhoods and got chased to my car by a pitbull...all for a story. And those are just a couple tidbits)

Something happened just last weekend that caused me to get stuck on why. It didn't matter the fact that what happened was really a good thing, it was meant to be, it needed to happen. And the why wasn't going to change anything about the outcome. But I still couldn't get past was the why.

In the confines of my worried mind I must have come up with five fictional, sometimes fantastical, and a couple even a little paranoid stories on why exactly this thing happened. Although I have moved on, I still found myself just this morning wondering why. Then something else crazy happened today at work that caused me to scream WHY? at the universe.

The problem is that sometimes answers don't want to be found, and that's when the why's turn into anxiety -- secretly masquerading as Mara. That's when we get a case of the why's in the wee hours of the morning.

The fact is -- a fact I personally have a hard time with --- is that sometimes the why doesn't matter.

Sometimes there isn't a definitive why.

Sometimes it's better not to know why.

Sometimes the universe, or God, or Whomever, keeps the why from us until we need to know it.

Today, I release the why to Mara, accepting that there is no answer. You should try it. Peace.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Hope is one of my favorite virtues. I remember first being able to personify hope as a little child, hearing about the Greek fable of Pandora's Box, in which Pandora unknowingly unleashed all of mankind's evil contained in a box; a gift from angry Zeus. At the bottom of this "box," however, contained hope...in some stories translated as a bird chasing the evil shadows out of the box. Other versions say hope stayed behind in the box.

"...Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house..."

Anyway, hope is the bird that chases away our evils. It is what carries us through. If we think about it hard enough, all of our lives are an intermixed box full of blessings and evils, yin and yang. Without each other, neither can flourish.

But I will get to the point.

The real reason of my post today is to direct you to a wonderful web site. If you have not yet heard of Gives Me Hope, you need to go there and check it out. Chances are if you are reading my blog you will really enjoy that site as well. It's an optimists playground. Sometimes if I'm having a bad day I go there to read the posts and feel lifted up as if I've been given wings.

Created in 2009 by University of Notre Dame alums Gaby Montero and Emerson Spartz as a reaction to the negativity on the website F MyLife, GMH has really grown in popularity in the last year and sparked a sister site, Love Gives Me Hope.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recommended Reading

As I've been talking about some authors and concepts here, I thought you might like to know where to go for further information. The books/CD's shown below I have all read/listened to and highly recommend. They are helpful on the journey to defying Mara.

Before Change

Becoming Comfortable

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
the Psalms cry.

What then, happens when we get to the top?
Do we listen for your voice?

Does the sun set on us,
glorious in its orange warmth,
The lion's breath in our ear?

Should we stay steady,
cool and dewey,
Laying in wait, our hands cradling our heads?

Will it be too late when daybreak comes?

And how do we descend without slipping, knowing that precarious doom
that lies below?

Poetry inspired by Mara

Come to Tea

I see you Mara-
I feel you in my heart.

Before I woke this morning
You crept into my dreams
like dawn on the horizon
I fought the urge to draw the curtains

You joined me in my closet, uninvited
Chiding my outfit choices
and hiding in the bathroom
While I showered

You brought along your friends:
Doubt, Anxiety and Self-loathing.
They are your biggest infantry,
and you know it.

But I did not ignore your red-eyed threats.
I did not run out the door, disheveled and shaken.
I did not brood.
In fact, I had been expecting you.

I had invited over my friends: Faith, Hope and Love.
I put on my suit of armor.
Smiling, I cooked eggs for two.
I invited you to tea.

In the brightness of the morning,
sitting at my table
You were not so scary.
You even looked kind of boring.

Facing you, I could move on.
I reminded myself how lucky I was to have eggs, a shower, and a closet.
I made it known that you were welcome
But your friends would have to go after a while.

I would need to get on with my day.


Have you ever been down, plagued by doubts, insecurities or habits of the mind that seem to follow you around?

Ever felt like no matter what you do, you are always running from Mara?

Well, I've been there. That's why I'm sharing how I've learned to live with Mara and love my life regardless of what goes on around me. (Look to the right for what "Mara" is)

I should explain a little about why I've taken this journey of defying Mara. I've recently struggled with some major life changes and the subsequent emotional, financial, and at times physical & safety problems that accompanied them. I won't get into details due to legalities, but let's just say that it was a horrifying time, and I struggle with it to this day. But it's changed me and made me who I am -- someone I am proud of, someone who is much stronger than she was.

So who is she?

She is a young woman who laughs in the face of change (like the above pic, although that is NOT me), and in fact she reacts back to change things even more. Defying Mara is similar to making lemonade out of life's lemons, or knowing how to play the cards you've been dealt. And it's about accepting the fact that we will all get lemons and bad hands sometimes. It's about using this to our advantage rather than running from our fear, or our personal Mara.

It's important that I give credit to Tara Brach, author, Buddhist teacher and clinical psychologist. I first heard of the concept of Mara and "inviting Mara to tea" a couple of years ago from Brach and her incredible books, podcasts and guided meditations. If it wasn't for her, as well as Jon Kabat-Zinn, (also Buddhist author/teacher), my family, friends, faith and hope, I really don't think I would have pulled through the tough times with my sanity intact. There are many different translations on what exactly Mara is, but I use Mara the way Brach does, explained in my welcome at the top right. I wouldn't say that I am a "Buddhist" or fit in any other strict religious category, although I was raised Catholic. On a side note, I should mention that Buddhism was never meant to be a religion and the Buddha himself never claimed to be a God. It is just a way of living. Many practice it because it is healing. It has only recently gained popularity in the western world. I wrote a research paper on the healing process of Buddhist practices such as meditation in my first masters level class in 2008. I am still reading and learning about the many inspirational Buddhist concepts. I won't call myself an expert because Buddhism itself has depths upon depths of historical concepts, but I will say I once checked out every book the Indiana University library had on it (17+) and read them all, in addition to all of Brach's and Kabat-Zinn's books and guided meditations. So at least I can claim to be well-read on the topic. I've gotten pretty good at meditation as well. (Which, by the way, if you do right is really friggin hard!) Because of my Catholic gradeschool roots, I will also be sharing some other healing concepts that are similar to defying Mara, but with a Christian slant.

Basically, I am a spiritual person who believes in God and keeps faith as my foundation. I also love to learn and delve into things that peak my interest.

I am sure there are many thousands of people in tough situations right now, which is part of the reason I've decided to share what I've learned. My ex-husband once called me a "hopeless, hopeless optimist" (hence, the tagline at the top of this blog). Not sure if he meant it as a compliment (probably not, given the context of the conversation we were having and the fact that it is a complete oxymoron), but I took it as a compliment, and I am proud of it, because this personality trait is needed to overcome adversity. But I want to make it clear that I am human and have weakness, depression, and uncertainty just like everyone else. I've learned to counter these times with my optimism, all the while re-negotiating the terms of my life when facing change. In other words, I've learned to accept the change and even accept my weak moments, and in the process I've learned how to defy Mara.

This blog will be somewhat of a way to continue my healing journey, but I want to reach out to others on their journey. I will also be posting other resources similar to the defying Mara theme. I should also mention that I am a writer at heart, and I love to write and read poetry. I recently become close with a friend who I knew for a short time. As change goes, this time was shorter than I'd hoped. But he taught me how to share my poetry, something I've never done before. So, I am going to try and continue that here and will be posting poetry that may have something to do with defying Mara.