Hair In A Bun Friday: Taking Time For Reading

I may cry ruining my make up.  Wash away all the things you’ve taken.. and I don’t care if i don’t look pretty…Big girls cry when their hearts are breaking – Sia

As a spiritual seeker, I’m always interested in finding new authors who describe their interpretation of the spiritual world.  I’m finding that everyone has a different take on the journey but there are common threads that tie them together.  Last Friday, I tied my hair up in a loosely fitted bun and started listening to Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.

9780470907757As a former religious person and continuous detoxer of the shame and guilt I learned from it, this book was a breath of fresh air with its little bits of wisdom shared throughout.

One of the more enlightening points I learned from the author are the words shadow boxing.  From our birth it is necessary to build a container or ego structure that will get us through the first half of life.  Richard Rohr believes the first half is from about birth to around 35 to 40 years of age.  The second half of life is all about dying to ourselves by letting go of the false self we created during the first half of life.  That includes past hurts, trauma, fear, insecurity and all the other structures the ego creates.  Not only does he use the bible as a resource but he also includes Native American tradition as well as Eastern Philosophy to back up his claim.

The term shadow boxing is used as a metaphor to describe the sometimes painful experience of having to look inward.  And if anyone knows what I’ve encountered when I’ve looked inside it’s sister Angelina.   The author even goes as far as to say that religion gets it wrong when it uses the word sin to describe our shortcomings; sin is a necessary evil that we create as human beings because we are just that – human.  Instead of trying to merit a future heaven by praying away the sin, or acting like it doesn’t exist by sitting in a church pew every Sunday, we miss the opportunity to do shadow boxing with ourselves to face our weaknesses and heal and learn from them.  In return we learn true compassion and love.

This book was a breath of fresh air especially having experienced the tiring effects of running from my own sins.  What religion taught me was to hide in shame and guilt over actions that were deemed hell – worthy.  But when I look around the world I live in and the people I intermingle with everyday, they’ve done the same as I if not worse; why was I holding myself up to such a high standard when all I was doing was being human? Religion teaches to be part of a group or sub culture that’s separate and better than everyone else, when the reality is, we’re all humans fighting the same fight.

I recommend this book for anyone who is going through a divorce, losing a job, depression or facing a death in the family.

I also recommend Sia’s latest album 1000 Forms of Fear to go along with your own personal shadow work.

sia-1000-forms-of-fear-650Because sometimes we have to ruin our eye make-up in order to set ourselves free of the pain.

“I come home
On my own
Check my phone
Nothing, though
Act busy
Order in
Pay TV
It’s agony”

The Great Spin Out-Part 2 of 2

February 28th marks the one year anniversary of when my car spun out in the Cajon Pass and kicked off a spiritual awakening. Ed & I have named the event The Great Spin Out, because our flare for the dramatic dictates that we make a huuuuuge deal out of every event.

As I talked about in Part 1 of this series, on this morning I was in a spiritual place of beginning to be open to knowing there was more out there. I was still unsure of what that was or what it looked like, but I had finally come to the place of acknowledging that I did have faith in something.

On this particular morning, I left to work early because I knew the weather would cause me to drive much slower than normal. It was uncharacteristically pouring. Hard. This is abnormal for Southern California and our drivers are not known for their ability to navigate this type of weather.

The rain was pounding outside, but I drove slow and tried to stay calm. I kept my hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel and tried to stay present.

The road was getting more slippery and flooded. I still felt calm and alert and I stayed in the slow lane. I went about my normal morning routine of praying and setting my intention for the day.

For whatever reason, that morning SURRENDER was on my mind. I begin telling God that I was finally ready to surrender to it. I begin talking through my ideas of my SURRENDER, my resistance to it and making the decision that I did in fact have faith and would SURRENDER to my doubt, logic and reasoning.

The minute I said, “I SURRENDER” I hit a huge puddle of water and I lost control of my car. I begin to spin and spun off the road, down a hill and into an embankment, which is what finally stopped my car.

The amount of time I spent spinning must have been short, but it felt a long moment in time. I remember first feeling panicked, then I felt calm. I had this moment where I was sure I was going to die and I felt OK with that.

spin out 1 spin out 2

After I stopped spinning, my dramatics picked up. I panicked for a moment and cried. Then my logic kicked in, I calmed down, called my husband and then called Triple AAA to tow my car home.

Once I finally got home, put on dry clothes (I was soaked from standing out in the rain and trying to get my car out) and turned on The Golden Girls for comfort, I stopped to think about the significance of what happened.

My first thought was, what this a good or bad sign? Did this mean God heard me out or did it mean I was being a complete fool? Did it mean anything other than poor weather conditions? Why was I so at peace with dying? Was God testing my commitment to SURRENDER? Was my faith being put to the test?

Naturally, I started texting Ed to process this all the way through. I also talked extensively through it all with my husband and a few strangers in bars, because that seems like a natural place to explore these topics.

Although I do not have any for sure answers to some of these questions, I do think I have come to a personal understanding of the meaning of this event.

To me, it was about SURRENDER. Surrendering to God and developing faith. Surrendering to death and being at peace with the inevitable. Surrendering to my heart and acknowledging that my logical brain does not know everything.

A pose of surrender

A pose of surrender

Once I finally came to that place of surrender, I have been more open to a spiritual journey. This past year has been more about me exploring that faith. Continuing to question, but mostly, beginning to believe. I have been so much more at peace and I feel more open to exploring all facets of spirituality and letting God speak to my heart.

Have you ever had a spiritual turning point?

 

 

Spiritual Sidebar ft. Ric

Spiritual sidebar is a weekly interview featuring the spiritual practices of our readers and friends.  This week we are featuring Ed’s friend Ric.  Both of them attended Catholic seminary in 2000.  They have remained friends ever since.

  1. Tell us about yourself.  I’m a 37 year old Latino Male who migrated to the U.S when I was 10. I’m the first in my family to attend and graduate from college and I’m now working on my Master’s Degree on Clinical Psychology.
  2. What do you believe spirituality is? Spirituality is a connection with a higher being, in my case God. Through this connection I can ‘talk’ to God and at moments without even realizing that I’m doing it. There is a constant connection from my soul and it nourishes me as a person. When I am in grace I find myself more accepting of others, willing to help in whichever way I can, and I fill fulfilled/complete because my life has a purpose.
  3. Did you attend church? Did you identify with a specific religion? How was it presented to you? How did you relate to it? I attend church on a regular basis, and I am Roman Catholic from birth. I have come to learn and build on my Roman Catholic faith
  4. Did your spiritual views change as you entered adolescence? As an adolescent I drifted away from anything religious. My foundation was not solid in my faith and I wanted control over my life. There was conflict as I tried to understand why I was so naïve and why my parents only gave me a superficial teaching of who God is. It was this constant conflict that kept me from anything spiritual. Instead of searching for answers I took the easy way out and ignored everything.
  5. Has your relationship with spirituality shifted as you entered adulthood? There is a constant “shift” in any relationship as one matures. I believe that I now have a better relationship with God and I’m able to better communicate through my prayers. Although at moments I wish I had the innocence of a child when it comes to spirituality, I know that one must mature.
  6. What is your spiritual life like today? Whenever I lose that connection with God I get a feeling of emptiness. Recently I have been so concerned with the direction of my life and career, that I have set aside my prayer life. As much as I try to use my commute time to pray and meditate, it is extremely difficult to stay focus, since attention has to be on the road. I try to dedicate the first few minutes of my day to prayer, but I soon find myself wondering off and planning my day. I have noticed that my lack of spiritual life makes me angry and I become frustrated easily.

Next week, we’ll feature a friend of Angelina’s.

Love,
Ed

Music Monday: The Love Bizarre Edition

Krush Groove is the first movie that I remember registering in my consciousness as a kid.

krush groove

 

I do not know how old I was when I first watched it, but it must have been before the age of 5. My cousin lived us and was constantly watching it to get new break dancing ideas. I became entranced with hip-hop and break dancing and that spell has still not been broken.

Most of all, I loved Sheila E.

She was a fierce girl doing amazing things. She was not just a back-up dancer or singer for a male artist. Sheila had her own thing going on, her own talent, stage, songs and dancing.

I watched this performance and sang this song over and over again. Who at some point has not wanted a Love Bizarre?

Hair In A Bun Friday: The Oscars!

Many people worry so much about managing their careers, but rarely spend half that much energy managing their LIVES. I want to make my life, not just my job, the best it can be. The rest will work itself out.  Reese Witherspoon
As the upcoming weekend winds down, many of us will be sitting in front of our flat screens with our hair tied in a loosely fitted bun while eagerly anticipating which of our favorite actors gets to take home the golden prize.  The Oscar show is always fun to watch whether you’re sitting alone enjoying a glass of wine in your pjs, or making a small party of your own with a couple of friends.
Here are a couple of the movies I saw which I believe to have a spiritual twist to them.
The Imitation Game and Benedict Cumberbatch are both nominated for best picture and best actor.  Although this movie was no where near my radar, I’m glad a friend suggested we watch it.  It’s a historical movie about five men who are asked to decode Hitler’s secret language used to deploy soldiers during World War II.  Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of a recluse mathematician who eventually breaks the secret while keeping a deep dark one of his own.
Angelina and I saw Wild with Oscar nominated Reese Witherspoon for best actress.  Read about our review here in our Field Trip Edition.
Selma is nominated for best movie and although Angelina and I didn’t see it together there is one thing we both agree on – Weeee Loooooooove Oooooopraaaaaah!!  The real life tale of Martin Luther King before he was assassinated was produced by the queen of talk herself.  This definitely is a must see!
Two Days and One Night has Oscar nominated Marion Cotillard playing a barely hanging on to reality female in this little known movie from across the pond.  Read about my review here in Hair In a Bun Friday Edition.
Hope all our sisters take time this weekend to see one of the best picture nominations before the big night.
Have you seen any of the above movies or one not mentioned above?  If so, we’d love to hear your review!
Peace,
Ed

Field Trip: Agape International Spiritual Center

This weekend, Ed & I visited Agape International Spiritual Center. Ed has been a few times before, but this was my first trip and from what he had described to me, I was very interested to see what it was all about.

Agape is described as practicing “New Thought-Ancient Wisdom tradition of spirituality” and transcending denominations in it’s love and honor of God. There were aspects of various traditions that I recognized and it made so much sense to me.

My first introduction to Agape was as we entered from the parking lot, and saw some vendors in front of the building selling food and artifacts. The energy could be felt immediately and I sensed a kinetic connection.

I was surprised and pleased to find vegan options immediately, and fresh juice being sold. I have always been of the opinion that spirituality and health go hand in hand and I have been perplexed at (some) churches lack of discussion about the body and mindfulness of what we put in it.

vegan food After we perused some of the art of mandalas, we decided we better feed our physical selves before we worked on our spiritual selves.

mandalas I ordered a deeeeeeelish vegan quesadilla with tons of veggies and pico de gallo.

vegan quesadillapico de gallo

After we ate, we headed into the building to settle in and prepare for meditation. Each service begins with an optional 30 minute meditation. This also made SO much sense to me. I feel that I hear God best when I have quieted my mind and settled in to be in tune. I have never meditated with such a large group of people before, there was easily hundreds present and it was amazing that even amongst such a large group, there was audible silence.

After mediation, the service begin with uplifting music, affirmations and a message from turning things out of sight, into insight.

The day's affirmation

The day’s affirmation.

The message really resonated with me and made sense. It was about truly tapping into the God within us all and using that to deal with hardships. The analogy was given that we should not dread or feel that we have to face a hard circumstance, those circumstances have to face the God within us. Another aspect that stood out to me was the referencing of God as “it” or “they” instead of “he” or “him,” which has felt problematic to me, in the past.

After the service, we continued our worshiping at Venice Beach and basked in the beauty of creation.

sun worshipping sistersVeniceVenice

In love & sisterhood,

~Ang

“Stop looking outside for help. You’re sourced and fuelled and funded by a renewable resource, which is within you. It never runs out. It is your Essence. It’s your life.” – Michael Bernard Beckwith

I’ve been to Michael Beckwith’s spiritual center on several occasions and one of the things that always strikes me when I go is the pureness of diversity.  There are no mission statements or forced pictures on the wall which state this sanctuary welcomes all, only to see the congregation is a prominent race or color.  When I looked around at the participants who celebrated alongside me, there was a mix of everyone.

The first time I went, two men, an interracial couple, sat next to me holding hands throughout the ceremony.  There were no uncomfortable stares or glances; everyone appeared ready for the meditation rather than concentrating on who was sitting next the them.  Last Sunday we were able to see some of the workshops that are available to the public; workshops that actually help and empower people in their daily lives rather than condemnation.

Each time I leave the sanctuary, I feel as if I’ve accomplished something spiritual; I leave with a sense of wholeness and oneness with myself and others.

IMG_0477 IMG_0478IMG_0518 IMG_0522

Peace,

Ed

 

 

Music Monday: The Want to Dance Edition

The past week, the unthinkable happened.

I got sick. Deathly, feverish, shivering, coughing, incapacitated sick.

I like to brag that I never get sick. And although this is generally true, this particular bug proved me wrong.

I felt more frustrated than anything. I was annoyed that I could not live my normal life. I had to let my work pile up, skip my workouts and yoga classes. I could barely eat and taking a shower was an enormous chore.

The fevers have now passed and although I am still coughing, the worst of it is over.

All the energy I stored up from lying in bed for days on end, is finally kicking in.

I feel alive again and have a whole new appreciation for my health. What an amazing gift it is to feel whole, and all I want to do is DANCE!

This is my go-to song when I need to dance. I just love this version of Whitney. The sweetness, the super fun hair, the bright clothes…how can anyone sit still?

DANCE with me into this Monday and please keep praying for Bobbi Kristina!