Youthful Decisions and the No Clue Blues: Part 3

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Aristotle

There comes a point in life when life itself becomes the classroom.  There are no classes, lectures or degrees one can attend or attain in order to by-pass the hard lessons that need to be learned.

As I move forward, I’ve decided to keep all the spiritual practices I’ve learned along the way and apply them into my daily routine.  There’s still a lingering temptation to go back to the one dimensional way I use to worship which feels more comfortable and familiar, but then I’d be going back to something that really wasn’t truly me.

There’s also something about walking the thin line between heathen and saint; when I walk the line of Mary Magdalene, I feel fully human, full of imperfections and mistakes.  When I walk the line of sainthood I feel the peace that not even the world can bring.

Love,

Ed

I spent most of the earlier parts of my 20s working hard to achieve goals. I was constantly working towards the next thing and trying to be better. Once I finished my Bachelors, it was on to my Masters and working hard at an internship to hopefully land a great job. Then, it was working on my credential and pursuing a more secure career. Once that was set, my attention turned to running and I started training for marathons, racking up miles and tearing up my knees. I strove to run faster and longer. I averaged running 3 marathons per year for about 3 years.

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I realized later that so much of the motivation behind all of the achieving and working was fear/anxiety based. I felt that I had to work hard so I had a secure future. I felt that I had to do something productive and impressive with my time. When I really stopped to think about it, I realized that I was dealing with anxiety for so many years and keeping myself busy was a way to keep my anxious thoughts at bay.

What was I anxious about? Everything and anything.

There was mostly this underlying fear I had that something bad would happen. There was no true basis for this fear, but I would create fearful scenarios in my head and lead myself into a full-fledged panic attack, thinking about all the bad things that could happen. My family could get in a horrible car accident. I could be struck with some terrible disease and die a slow, painful death. The list of horrible thoughts I put myself through goes on and on. As I reflect back, I realize it was fearfully clinging to everything I was attached to and afraid to lose.

I had been working on my anxiety and seeing small improvements. When I was 28 years old, my father was shot and killed. This event was a turning point in my life for so many reasons, but I bring it up here to explain how strangely enough, it freed me of my anxiety.

I was always so fearful of “something bad” happening, and then something very bad did happen. It was absolutely the worst and a difficult time for my family. However, it was how I death with this event that released me from my anxiety. I used yoga, meditation and lots of friend/family support to get me through. I realized that something very bad did happen…and, I got through it. I was able to live through the pain, fear, anger, sadness and grief. It is possible for bad things to happen and still come through the situations.

Although I still struggle with anxiety, it is much more manageable and identifiable. I recognize when it’s creeping in and use some of the coping mechanisms that have worked before to address it, before it gets out of control.

In love and peace,

~Ang

 

Religious Roots: Part 2

In Religious Roots: Part 1, we explored our religious upbringing and the reasons we broke away from that path and found a new one. In part Part 2, we would like to delve deeper into our current path. In our many conversations on this topic, we have found the important realization that we are most definitely on a journey, we realized we have not arrived at any one destination or profound conclusion. We know that we are still learning, exploring and growing and want to simply share what we have found out along the way and what has worked for us. I have realized that my current relationship with God has nothing to do with religion. I feel that is a part of my past that I do not want in my present or future. I thought for a time that I did not want anything to do with God or faith, but I realized more and more that it was still very much apart of my life and certain beliefs would always be in my heart and soul. I would still find myself praying during a stressful moment or giving thanks to God in a moment of gratitude. I realized there were beliefs that I could not, or did not even want to shake off. I went to a faith based college for my graduate studies. Going to Christian grad school helped me come to see some beliefs in a new light. I was able to see the intersection between faith and education, something that I felt was seriously lacking in my own upbringing. There were still some things I definitely did not agree with, but I also met professors and other classmates who were more open-minded and used critical thinking when describing their faith. I begin to find new ways to connect with and draw closer to God. I soon realized that I found a deeper connection when I was completely away from church and out in nature. Nature became my sanctuary to worship and as I started exploring more and more of this beautiful earth, I found my gratitude for all of God’s creation increasing and a shift happening inside my soul to be more open to the unknown. DSCN5819 Strangely enough, the largest catalyst to helping me reconnect with spirituality has been yoga. Yoga, I believe has helped me find God more than anything. I first started doing yoga for all the physical benefits to my outside body, but once I started learning and opening myself up to the benefits for inside my body, a big change occurred and I felt my heart opening up more and more to all things spiritual. You can read about how yoga helped me through grief and loss here. 100_0991 The tenants of yoga and Eastern religion make so much more sense to me and although my knowledge is still very shallow, I am coming to see there are many parallels between Eastern and Western religion, but the similarities are convoluted with legalistic barriers. I now strive to live my life with compassion, gratitude, kindness, love and peace. I hope to embody all those qualities and share them with the world around me. I constantly fail. However, the fearful and anxious feelings previously associated with failure are no longer present and I am at peace with being imperfect, with falling short, with not knowing, with questioning and with discovering new information that challenges my previous/current ideals. Thank-you for reading and sharing our journey, thus far. In love & sisterhood, ~Angelina “I love being a mother. My children fill me up in many ways, and inspire me in many ways…” Madonna As I venture forward toward the beginning of my own personal spiritual path, there are some wounds from the past that I’ve had to deal with in order to heal.  I use to hold a lot of resentment towards my parents (who hasn’t) due to their lack of direction in life.  Although we grew up with all the basics to live well, I wish they would have prepared me better for life.  But there came a point when I realized that they couldn’t teach me what they didn’t know.  Today, after having experienced my fair share of heartache and disappointment, I completely understand why my mom used her religion as a coping mechanism. Life Can Be Difficult My mom probably made the best choice when she couldn’t handle my ADHD brother, diabetic sister and me – she picked up a rosary rather than a bottle. In that one little act, she showed me, without knowing, how instrumental faith can be when life becomes difficult. As a teacher of a low socioeconomic neighborhood, I see the difficulty parents go through when trying to support their kids in an education system that’s completely foreign to them.  They’re so busy trying to pay the rent and put food on the table that education unfortunately takes a back seat in their list of priorities. I see my parent’s struggle written all over the faces of the parents I work with today.  How could I judge my mom and dad so harshly when they did the best they could with the abilities they possessed? Like Angelina mentioned earlier, my knowledge of God is still shallow in a universe that’s surrounded by the Divine; I had to strip myself of the old in order to experience my new.  It can be very challenging at times and a bit scary but there’s one thing I know for sure: if my mom could do it with the help of the Creator – so can I. Love and sisterhood, Ed

On Sisterhood: Part 2

In our previous post On Sisterhood, we discussed how important sisters have been in our development and how we have been blessed by sisters both given to us by our parents and given to us by God. One of my daily prayers and desires is to be a good big sister. I feel very fortunate to be in the position where I am the oldest of four, besides by two sisters, I also have one younger brother. I often reflect and question if I am being a good example, if I am giving enough, have I been there when I needed to be? In these reflections, I often find I am have been coming up short and it is a great reminder to not take my siblings for granted. I also find myself in the unique and fortunate position to be somewhat of a big sister in my work capacity. I work as a high school counselor and have found myself drawn to this career because of my desire to help others. Although this is a huge responsibility that I often feel sorely under qualified for, it is also an amazing privilege and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to help out the next generation of women and quasi-little sisters. In my position, I have talked with some girls about anything and everything. I respect their confidentiality, and because of this, they often share things with me that they have not told anyone else. If appropriate and helpful, I also tell them things about myself, if it can help their situation. I have shared with them my struggles with anxiety, and how I have (and am) working through them. I share about the murder of my father, and the up and down relationship we had through his life. I share about growing up with little money, but not letting this situation define me. I tell them all about my dashed dreams of being a professional break dancer, my love for theater in high school, alllll about the college application process and what it was like to attend a university and work full-time. I try to be as open as possible, when it can be of a benefit to them. Sometimes, it is hard to tell, but I do hope I am making a positive difference. My commitment to my little sisters also extends to being the Co-Advisor to our schools Peer Leader Program, the advisor for the Dance Team and the Vegan/Vegetarian club. My life and schedule are certainly full, and although it can be tiring, stressful and hectic, I feel it is incredibly important to give my time to have a (hopefully) positive impact on this future generation. There are many, many, proud and rewarding moments being a big sister. For example, seeing one of my Peer Leaders help out another student in distress, or talking to even younger sisters (i.e.-freshmen) about the importance of representing yourself respectfully. Also, seeing my Dance Team girls KILL it in their Beyonce performance, and all of their hard work paying off. 15095504009_3768da7ff9_o I do not take the position I am in for granted. I have been given so much in my life and have truly been blessed. It is the least I can do to try to pass that on to others. (PS-I try to help the boys, too.) In love and sisterhood, Angelina

“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”  Maya Angelou

A visual presentation of the role women have played in helping me connect with the feminine spirit:

Family sisters, work place sisters, deep sisters:sisters6

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Sisters of the World

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Sister friends from long ago

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Love and peace to all my sister friends, past, present and future.

Ed

Welcome to The Sisterhood

Welcome to Spiritual Bahanas (Spiritual Sisters), a place where two sisters share their journey of exploration in their spirituality.

I am Angelina, one half of this sisterhood. I also blog at Angie Eats Peace, but have teamed up with my spiritual sister to create this space of exploration and curiosity.

My spiritual journey has evolved and shifted throughout my 30 years on this earth, as I am sure many of others have. I have found that it is not something that is often openly talked about. Fear, doubts, curiosities, or perceived flaws in your own beliefs are not always welcome by those who share your beliefs. We wanted to create a space where that could be explored and safely discussed.

I was raised going to a non-denominational Christian church (consistently, 3 times per week) and stopped attending when I was 18. At the time, I thought I was done with God and the church. I had my struggles as I got older and older with some of the attitudes and teachings I was experiencing, and that finally came to a head when I was officially an adult and able to make the decision to no longer attend.

However, as I felt out adulthood more and more, I realized that there would also be a spiritual side to me that did have faith, beliefs, values and ethics. In the past 4 years, I have been exploring what that now means for me and where that road may take me.

I am at the point in my life where I am OK to not have all the answers, but there is a few things I have learned along the way. Along this path, I have not found many who are comfortable talking about questioning beliefs or exploring new ones, but I have found one particular person to connect with and explore alongside me.

My spiritual sister and I were born to different parents (but incidentally with the same last name, which I guess for our ethnicity, is not all that uncommon), but found each other at a pivotal time in our adulthoods. We have been by each other sides as life has taken unexpected twists and turns and we have talked about how our beliefs have changed and evolved within those events.

You are welcome here to explore alongside with us on this journey. Please join us on this spiritual path as we continue to learn, grow and explore as sisters.

In love and sisterhood,

Angelina

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“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” Eckhart Tolle

I’m Ed, the other half of the sisterhood.  When I graduated college and successfully completed a masters in Education, I waited for Samadhi to arrive.  By my mid thirties, after all successful attempts at living the American Dream had failed, I found myself in a familiar space I had often experienced in the past: paralyzing fear.  It was through that fear I started to explore my faith in God again, and at the same time, challenging all the worldly structures I had a hand in creating.  As a gay thirty-something year old male, I could no longer practice a faith which excluded parts of me; parts that were important in finding wholeness.  That’s when I decided to start seeking the Creator on my own terms.

I’ve blogged about the last twenty years of life and all the lessons I’ve learned along with way in The Details of My Spiritual Journey.  I was inspired by my friend and sister Angelina after she started her own blog Angie Eats Peace.  As my blog started to evolve, Angelina and I found we had many life lessons in common; and after The Great Spin Out of 2014, our spiritual sisterhood began.

My hope is to find oneness with everyone who encounters our blog.

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