protective

“I don’t have to like the actions of others in order to love my journey.”
– Today’s card

Over the weekend I heard an interesting thought experiment about the weight of our pasts. It went something like—

Imagine that when you woke up this morning, you’d lost all memories of your past. You don’t remember anything about who you used to be or what you were like before today. No memories of the experiences you’ve lived or the people you’ve known. You wake up and who you are right now is all you have to go off of in terms of determining your identity.

How would that make you feel?

When I think about this, there is an unexpected sense of relief and freedom from the would-should-could’s that tie to my mind and spirit from the days gone by.

As I deal with the sudden abrupt change to my identity after my health trauma these last few years, points of comparison have sprung up in nearly every corner of my life. Whether it’s thinking about how I used to move physically, or how I used to react to certain situations, my life has become a perpetual play of that game we used to play in kindergarten of “Spot the difference between these two pictures!”

So the idea of not being obligated to stay connected to who I used to be does free my mind. I can breathe a little easier not having to explain or justify the way I am to the people and voices of the past who haunt my present.

Who you are now and in this present moment, even after you’ve figured out how you got here, is all that should matter for the decisions we make for tomorrow. I don’t owe my past self anything but respect, love, and gratitude.

I’ll probably take more time this week to think about this concept. To maybe pause once in a while and ask if I would be making the same choice or feeling the same emotion if I didn’t have memories of my past self.

Sometimes our past protects us. But it doesn’t distinguish wisely from the ways and times to protect us. That’s the part I’m still trying to figure out.

prayer of protection

“I allow myself to receive all the fulfillment I’m willing to give.”
– Today’s card

I’m not sure how much good juju I’ve been putting out into the universe. If anything, lately my spirit has been feeling more protective, on edge, and tentative.

I remind myself that the flow of energy from me to the life around me is an inspired feedback loop, and when I put the right vibe out there, I often end up not caring if I don’t see returns to me. The action was still the right one in the moment.

As we near the halfway point of 2022 I wonder if this is what life is. This, in all the messy uncertainty, in every heart push forward. I love this life, I love where I am and who I spend my hours with. Still, some days, it feels like I’m waiting for something to begin.

Today, lately, my soul is apprehensive of falling back into too-familiar spaces where thorns threaten from the shadows to suffocate the glowing light within me. The state of the economy and rumblings of the rearing head of a recession closer to home are beginning to grow.

A prayer of protection, of healing. A prayer to grow and be open to life, to love beyond my current limits. For an expansion of the mind and soul.

the ask

“There is only what life is asking of me.”
(Today’s card)

Am I listening to what life is asking of me?

Sometimes it sounds like it asks me to be still, quiet, to rest.

Other times it calls me into action and when I know what to do it’s easy to put myself in motion. But if I hear the ask and don’t know how to respond, I am momentarily disoriented.

We spend lifetimes releasing ourselves from the expectations of others. I read about minimizing the things (and voices) that reduce you and feed your weaker self. Strengthening the parts of you that enhance and deepen you.

I think Life asks me to delight and enjoy the good. To love myself and open room for blessings beyond my imagination. To have faith, act in faith, to rest in faith.

Progress in love, spirit, and mentality. Have a safe and happy weekend.

body

“It is safe to be in my body.”
Today’s card

What a loaded statement.

Because the truth is, there are lot of times I don’t feel safe in my body. I’ve experienced weird diagnoses, unexpected wounds, and the gradual progress of my leg. All of these things happened outside of my control, and the recovery has been unpredictable. I do my best, but there’s no guarantee that what I do will bring back full use of my leg or ward away other weird diagnoses. Like, I can contribute to my overall progress (i.e., if I hadn’t gone to PT I doubt I’d be where I’m at today)… the rest is up to God, fate, the universe.

I think I’m being honest when I say I rarely wish I was in someone else’s body. There are times I think about how much easier something would be if I could move my leg fully, or how making plans would have less contingencies if I didn’t go through my medical hell. But I’m not the type to be jealous when it comes to the life I live. Maybe because I also know that everyone has their own issues and challenges in their lives. Everyone is really going through their own shit.

My friends have often told me that they feel dumb complaining about something when they knew I was in the hospital hooked up to four IVs. My immediate reaction to that emotion is usually compassion first. I know life is hard and we all have our different limits. I tell my friends to never feel like they can’t talk to me about what they’re going through, because that’s what friends do. We don’t have to earn the right to complain. I get that when life is hard for you, life is hard.

Now, are there people who complain TOO easily without actively addressing their issues? Yes. Do I fall into that category? Not always, but sometimes I do. And that’s on being human.

To tell myself I feel safe in this body, I find that I have to base this sentiment on the premise that The body is not the soul. When I am secure in where my eternity is, where my spirit and soul ultimately stand, then it’s not a matter of feeling safe in my body as it is knowing that the body will not last.

This body, wonderfully and carefully woven by the Creator, it carries me through these days of grace, and I will treat it with respect and gratitude. It has been through a lot. But it is home for now. Until then, I draw my comfort from the eternity waiting beyond.

awake

Today’s card:

“Each breath confirms how awake I already am.

What does it mean to be awake?

To breathe in love and breathe out gratitude.

To remember what brought me here, but to keep my eyes steady on the good ahead.

I remind myself that I am alive, in these moments that I wished for, prayed for, all those nights in the hospital. These days where I am here, whole, walking, taking care of myself.

Like the fact that tonight I’m sitting at my desk, writing on my laptop, with my salt crystal lamp (c/o DL) emitting its soft warm glow as the evening sky darkens outside the window. There’s a flourishing Monstera plant on my desk, its leaves swaying once in a while to the rhythm of my typing. My dog is curled up on the floor a few feet away from me, snoring as she waits for me to get up and go to bed.

This scene is lifetimes removed from a couple years ago, when I was immobile, bedridden, tubes and ports and all kinds of IVs hooked up to me. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without asking for help.

And here I am, privileged to have the kinds of problems I consider problems today. Yes, there will always be the background hum of medical anxieties that will remain a constant in my life from here on out. But the other questions of – do I want to try to change into a new kind of career? Do I need to think about when to start shopping for shoes for my friend’s wedding? Do I want to order more juices for the month? Will we find a reasonably priced home to buy one day, any day, in this ridiculously over-priced housing market?

Even this fact – I spent so many months unable to gain weight, to the point where I was about a pound away from needing an NG feeding tube inserted. And now I have to watch what I eat because if I don’t I’ll be gaining TOO much weight! Whenever I realize this it’s a moment of – Aw man- to YAY NOT SKELETAL!

These are the days of Better Problems. Of being awake. Of breathing. Life.

I wish you better problems, every day you live.

worth

Today’s card: “I feel worthiness filling every cell of my body, and it feels amazing.”

It is unfamiliar to feel worthy.

Growing up in church you learn weekly that you were not deserving of the grace bestowed to you. That you were made worthy by substitution of the Cross. When I was younger it was easy for me to gleefully embrace the idea that God loved me, as I clapped my hands and sang my heart out to Sunday school songs.

Somewhere along the way it got a little hazy, and the pervasive thought that I was unworthy started to weed through the joy. By grace I didn’t fall irreversibly down that thought abyss, but I admit it’s something to guard myself against because it can be easier to believe that the Cross was not enough than to believe I am once and for all saved and loved.

Sort of like forgetting that the sun exists when you live deep below the ocean waves. Adapting and changing to fit the surrounding darkness, getting by on memories of distant gold flashes of what I must have only assumed was sunlight.

So untrue. So insidious.

I try to keep it more simple now than I did ten years ago. Instead of inhaling books on theology and hermeneutics and doctrine, I remind myself in the moment of grace and peace. And I strive to understand that my mind, a human mind, will never quite grasp the fullness of Love that encompasses all manners and possibilities of wrong.

Worthiness is never as important as that which we assign to ourselves in love. To feel like you don’t deserve to be loved as much as you do or want to be is heartbreaking. I think most people experience this emotion. And all we can do is keep reminding each other that we do deserve this love. From others, from ourselves.

Today I’ll think about this statement of worthiness filling every cell, every fiber. To feel that God and the universe is on my side, all working for only the best in my days ahead.

I pray the same for you, to allow yourself the possibility to believe in good things for yourself. Because since we are to live these days, why not choose to live with peace of mind and freedom in spirit?

do be do be do

“I can be and do – all at once.”

My profession deals with risk. It’s based on the science of weighing risks and benefits. And when I think about it, it’s in line with how I am as a person. I like to put in serious thought when I’m considering a major decision and to assess possible outcomes before deciding how to act.

In more recent years, and particularly this past year, I’ve been leaning into acting on my instincts faster, allowing me the ability to do things without pausing to evaluate. A part of that is also letting go of levels of fear that I’ve built up. And still another part of mustering the courage to act even when all signs point to danger.

The greatest balance of being and doing, it’s a homeostasis that I am working towards. I think it requires pure trust in my intuition, wisdom gained by experience, a good amount of guts, and an empathic heart. Ideally, to act in the kind of love that is in harmony and attuned for myself and others around me.

Loving myself is hard. I spent years disrespecting myself, either by neglect or active diminishing. I was ignoring my inner child’s voice for too long. So I’m learning to listen and amplify it now. As I get older, it’s interesting to see what becomes important and what eventually fades into the background…

in spirit

One of my goals is to write more (whether privately or publicly). Someone suggested I try a writing exercise where I choose a card from a mantra deck (I got this one), and use whatever’s on the card as a prompt.

Today’s card:

“My intuition flows whenever I am still.”

When I have a lot to think about, I end up buzzing like a busy bee. My thoughts will bounce from one to the next to the next, landing each time on an already moving thought before jumping over to another one as it flies by. I’m usually releasing this nervous energy by doing a few things at once, manifested in multiple tabs open on my laptop browser, each tab pertaining to a different project or train of thought.

It’s not always the healthiest or best state of mind to be in it long-term, but I need this momentum where everything comes to a calamitous orchestral swell, in which I may finally reach a moment of sudden. Silent. Clarity.

Then, in that quiet epiphany, I feel the waves of intuition rising and falling around me. Rising and falling.

And I surf.

My intuition is constantly flowing, surrounding me, embracing me, pushing and pulling me. I’ve been learning, all these years, how to ride it. To gently coast above the noise and stormy weathers.

It’s been an interesting year so far as we near the halfway point. I’m actively putting in work to different areas of my life, and although questions that lingered prior years are still sorting themselves out, I look back on my posts from a year ago and see the progress I’ve made, both physically and in spirit. It is a good place to be, and a good life to live.

an evening over soup

Last week we decided to grab dinner while we were out on a random weeknight. We ducked into a local mom and pop restaurant we’ve been meaning to try out. It was nearing the end of a busy dinner rush and we were seated quickly as people were starting to leave for the evening.

Our table was right next to a young couple whose conversation caught my attention, since the quarters were close and their voices were loud.

They were friends, probably in college (or at most, a year or two post-grad). The two of them were talking about how people didn’t seem to be engaging at their church as much anymore. The waning interest in joining cell groups, the lack of attendees on weekend events. These two were more involved with the church given their behind-the-scenes perspectives.

The reason, one of them concluded, is because church service had been on Zoom for too long. People are starting to consume church as content. The solution was obvious to the both of them. We need to get rid of Zoom and force people to be back in the same building. They’ll be a community once they start interacting in person again.

I remember when I was younger and full of similar “obvious” solutions for challenges at churches. Then you get older and you realize that the problems run fundamentally deeper than you’d think, the answers are a shade more elusive than we’d hope.

I wondered how they’d react if I turned around and asked them, purely out of curiosity and for sake of discussion, Do you think people might be less interested because they feel like something is missing from the church? Do you think the pandemic may have effectively wiped out any remaining motivation that may have been in people’s repositories usually? Do you think families with kids may find themselves exhausted by the weekend, full-time workers overworked by Sunday, drained people who are figuring out how to live their lives in one piece and Zoom is really all they have the energy for connection these days? Do you think consuming church as content is limited to Zoom services on Sundays, or have we packaged the church and all of its components a little too much over the years through curation and copyediting across all social media and planned scripted discussions?

I wondered if their opinion would change in any degree if I shared with them how I would not have been able to attend Sunday services had it not been for the option of Zoom last year, when I was still in the early stages of learning to stand and sit and walk without hurting myself. People rarely consider accessibility in the average day-to-day, and I don’t know if many churches would have ever put in the effort to implement Zoom if there wasn’t a global pandemic that affected everybody at the same time.

I wondered these things on my own, thinking about my own journey of learning what it means to be part of the Church without being a part of a church. I reminisced when such simple answers came to me much quicker than they do these days.

The night went on. Our food was ordered, two bowls of soup and side dishes were presented.

It was delicious.

soultracks

I always feel at home when I hear seagulls in the morning.

Some of my favorite memories involve waking up near the ocean. In college I would often drive over to the beach, just minutes down the road, and spend time walking around along the shore. The sound of seagulls is a comforting accompaniment to my reveries.

Even though I live further away from the ocean now, I still catch a glimpse of a seagull once in a while, and on the rare occasion I hear one’s cry pierce through the morning, I return briefly to the oceanside. Somethings you feel have been adorned into the state of your soul, and the sounds of waves and all things along with hold true to that idea for me.

Other sounds that are similarly found on the same soundtrack for me:

golf balls methodically hit at a range in the evening hours

a warm summer day of kids laughing and shrieking in a playground that is beyond my line of sight

coffee grinding and milk steams in the morning cafe bustle

crackles of a bonfire