Mantra Monday: You Are So Worth Loving

you are so worth loving

You are so worth loving.

Did you know that? Did you forget it somewhere along your journey? Have you lost hope that it’s true? There have definitely been times in my life when I did not believe I was worth loving, or not as much as I used to be.

I had a few conversations this week that showed me I am not the only one who has felt this way. I was able to share and connect with some important women in my life who have also felt unworthy to be loved. I am sure men feel this way, as well, but I think this is particularly a problem for women. Particularly, around the experiences we have had that have caused SHAME, and subsequently translating into feelings of diminished worth and an overall “no-good-ness.”

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we let other people do this to us? Why do we let societal expectations, gender roles and religious norms dictate the way we feel? As logical, intelligent beings, we often realize that these thought processes are harmful, but as emotional beings, all those expectations (and failing to meet them) can be extremely hurtful and led to feelings of unworthiness.

Other people’s stories of diminished worth have been on my mind and heart and led me to reflect on times I have also allowed my own light to dim. I think about times when my SHAME has held me back from speaking up when I needed to, held me back from moving forward in relationships, career and personal growth, led me to make destructive, unhealthy choices because I was “no-good” anyways.

The time in my own life when I felt the most SHAME was after my divorce. I married far too young and was a divorcee at the age of 26. I was oh, so embarrassed that my poor choices were on display for everyone to see. I was ashamed of my lack of good judgment. I was afraid that people would think I did not hold marriage sacred. I was worried that I would never love again or be worth of love.

Slowly, I begin to heal and re-build up my worth. I learned from my mistakes and caught myself before I made them in future relationships. I got real, ugly, gut-wrenching, in-my-own-face-honest with myself about my own pitfalls and hang ups and starting working through them. I meditated, cried, journaled and continued to call myself on my own bullshit.

I realized I was still worth loving.

And, so are YOU.

Music Monday: Heal the World

I venture to say most of you have heard about the tragic massacre in San Bernardino that occurred last week.

I am pretty gutted by this one, especially because I have to refer to it as “this one,” to distinguish it from so many other mass shootings that have occurred in the United States.

I live in San Bernardino. My house is not far from where the shooting occurred. It has not hit too close to home. It has hit home. It felt so surreal to see my city all over news outlets, with familiar streets and sites.

The sadness and outrage I feel in no way compares to that of friends and families of the victims, the injured and those who were present, in fear of their own lives.

I cannot believe this happened again, but, of course I can, it’s an issue that is still not being addressed. I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that it happened in my city, but why should we be exempt? UGH. I HATE (and I do not use that word freely) how common this has become. I HATE that it has hurt my community. I HATE that more families are hurting, scared and shaken.

I do not want to rant about my personal political views, desires for policy change, speculation for motives or personal feelings about implications and aftermath. There is enough of that going around and I feel drained.

What I need to process through in this space and maybe along with you, is HURT and HEALING. When I feel like my head will explode if I ask myself one more “WHY?” question, I have to look back on my own personal experiences of hurt and healing for support.

These tragedies of course strike up personal chords. I can empathize with what it feels like to lose someone to gun violence. Certainly not in this magnitude, and I will not pretend to understand the pain of these loved ones, but I I can sympathize somewhat. A violent loss is different from other loses. I still deal with the loss of my father to gun violence and crime. I still enter court rooms and sit feet away from the accused. There was fear, anger, nightmares and profound sadness that followed and emotions that I still, and always will, encounter.

At the simplest level, I think it comes down to “hurt people hurt people.” This phrase has helped me not hate. This phrase has helped me let go of valid anger. This phrase helped me not be scared anymore. Most importantly, this phrase helps me be mindful of the way I treat each and every entity on this planet.

I know I am an idealist. I know I have far-out-head-in-the-clouds-hippie ideals, with bleeding heart liberal values and can be too idealistic. But maybe, if we all treated one another a bit kinder, or at the very least, not go out of our way to hurt one another, well, maybe we would stop giving others the motivation to want to hurt us.

I am not saying the shooters did this because someone called them names. But, I cannot help but wonder what level of hurt they experienced in their own lives, to motivate them to so viciously hurt others.

If I had it my way, everyone would have enough to eat and their food would be affordable without additives, preservatives or dyes. Every animal would have a peaceful, happy life and every child that wanted a puppy would get one. Everyone would do yoga and practice preventative medicine. No one would liter. We would all have open and peaceful communication and solve our issues through conflict management practices. No one would own or need a gun. Hunting would be thought of as a past barbaric practice and protection would be unnecessary because no one would not want to hurt each other.

I know this will never happen, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder…

At the very least, can we just stop being so mean to each other? Can we not go out of our way to say an unnecessary comment, post a spiteful reply, give a dirty look or let our FEAR take over?

I feel that fear is the true motivating force behind those types of mean behaviors and I feel that it is running completely rampant right now. I sure do not blame anyone for feeling fearful, but it bums me out to see how pervasive and dangerous it is becoming.

Can we make the conscious effort to not be afraid?

It’s hard. Really hard.

My dad was shot and killed in March of 2012. An arrest was not made until July 2012. The first fews weeks, I was fearfully obsessed that “the shooter was out there.”

I remember suspiciously looking at people. I remember creating stereotypes in mind of who this person must be that pulled that trigger and when I saw someone that fit that description, I would look them in the eye and think, “was it you?” I remember feeling my intestines quiver. I remember constantly feeling anxious and fearful. I had a hard time sleeping and woke up multiple times per night from nightmares.

Somewhere in my grieving brain, logic kicked in and said, “you have to stop!” I accredited this to my yoga and the awareness that I had been starting to practice on my mat.

It had to be an extremely conscious decision to not be afraid anymore. I had to take deep breaths when I went out in public and be completely at peace with the knowledge that the person who killed my dad was somewhere free. I had to separate the justice and legal process from my healing process and VERY consciously re-focus on my health, sleep and heart.

Can we all make that commitment to consciously practice awareness of our fear? Can we try not to stereotype, blame, argue and fight? Can we agree that maybe we disagree about many things, but be OK with not changing minds and proving ourselves “right”?

Can we just for a moment, stop pushing our personal agendas and speculations and just support one another? Seriously, can we just give one another a hug? We really need it.

I have been listening to this song. MJ has comforted me through many times and helped me make sense of some pretty trying situations. I know it seems like a childish notion to simply be nice and loving, but maybe that simplicity is what we need to return to. Be nice. Treat others how they want to be treated. Be OK with being wrong. Don’t let fear win.

I wish I had better answers. I wish I knew what to do to stop the hurt. But maybe, can we start with healing and letting go of fear?

There Are Ways
To Get There
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
Make A Better Place…

Mantra Monday-“Just Like Me”

I am happy to introduce my new series, “Mantra Monday.” Each Monday, I will be exploring my mantra for the week. This may be a particular phrase or word that I have been working with to keep my grounded, or it may be a  yoga pose or piece of spiritual guidance. It may still even be a song that is inspiring or motivating and reminding us of Music Mondays.

This week’s mantra is one of my favorites, it is “Just Like Me.”

One of my yoga teachers taught me this mantra and how powerful it can be in shifting perspectives when we find ourselves frustrated with others.

When I am tired, irritable or stressed, I find myself getting easily irritated with others. However, this mantra causes an immediate shift in my heart and way of thinking, when I remember to add it on to irritable thoughts.

For example, if I catch myself judging someone or thinking something negative, such as, “he really doesn’t get it” or “she drives like an idiot,” I add “just like me” to the end of that sentence.

There have been many times in my life when I am sure I have been on the other end of someone’s annoyance. I have been the person who “just doesn’t get it” or “drives like it an idiot” and it reminds me of the connection I have with others. It also reminds me that we are all on a journey and while I personally do not want to be judged about where I am in my journey, I should judge others for where they are in their own.

I intend to use “Just Like Me” this week to help navigate new horizons. Will you join me in exploring if this causes a shift in your own perspective?

In love and sisterhood,

~Ang

mantra monday

Music Monday: The Crazy Version

I have been thinking lately about moments of crazy. I have been thinking about how no one, no matter who you are, what your career is, what degrees or accolades you have, is above those moments of crazy.

I have also been thinking about that word “crazy” and the way that it gets applied to women.

Are they in fact, a little crazy, or do they outwardly display sometimes, all the pain of the people they love, that they tend to carry for them?

Generally speaking, women often support and hold others together. They do what needs to be done so their partners and children can thrive. They support others in the workplace and also try to find some balance for themselves.

All this is a little “crazy”-making.

I am currently listening to Iyanla Vanzant’s audiobook during my crazy-making commute to work (which has increased to 90 minutes, one way, on some days).  Ed loaned it to me, it’s called Peace from Broken Pieces, and he told me to make sure I tell him when I get to the part about the broccoli.

I had no clue what he meant at that time, but now I completely get it.

Iyanla is talking about the grief she feels in the months following the death of her daughter, whom she lost to cancer. Iyanla describes a day when she walks into what she refers to as an “affluent, organic grocery store” and sees broccoli in the produce section. Her daughter loved broccoli and for no and every reason, this triggered all her pent up grief. She had a complete breakdown, cried and threw herself on the broccoli and made a HUGE scene.

I am imagining that she was at Whole Foods, with all these white people looking at this African-American woman crying and wailing over broccoli. It must have been quite the scene, but was it a moment of crazy? Or, was it completely appropriate for the profound loss she had just experienced and the task of trying to keep it all together?

Ed & I have both had our share of moments of crazy. I no longer feel embarrassed to text him in the middle of those times. He does not judge me for them and doesn’t make me feel like there is something wrong with me, because I am crying for no describable (at least at the moment) reason, or because I cannot get off the floor of my bathroom. (Two things that both happened this week. Don’t worry, I am OK.)

I love Patsy Cline’s song, Crazy. I think most of us women can relate to feeling like they wasted too much time on the wrong man.

But, is it really fair to describe yourself as “Crazy” for feeling lonely, feeling blue, crying, trying, worrying, wondering or not knowing what to do? I think these are pretty normal feelings in the development and growth of a woman. I still struggle with society’s view of woman as emotional, and therefore, mentally unstable beings. And yet, I understand and view it in the lens of my own reluctance to share my moments of “crazy” from this past week.

Either way, I love this song and can imagine myself singing it in produce section, into a stalk of broccoli.

Spiritual Sidebar: Kristin B

Kristin B is an infectious ball of light and love. She is one of Ang’s fellow yoga teachers and a overall lover of life. We definitely wanted to know her spiritual secrets! You can also follow her blog Sorta Enlightened for more inspiration!

KB

Hello! I’m Kristin Booth. Wife, dog-mama, yoga teacher, sandwich-lover, lover of travel and pretty things.

I grew up in a small town in Southern California and was introduced to ‘church’ at a very young age. My father, mother, sister, and I went to The United Methodist Church in my hometown every Sunday and were highly involved in activities and happenings going on there. It was not uncommon for us to be at the facility two to three times a week for various events and my parents could often be found cleaning up after spaghetti dinners and other gatherings late into the night.

The United Methodists are a denomination of the Christian church with the belief that Jesus is the son of God and through his death on the cross we receive the grace of God, should we accept it. This belief, and others, was taught to me through Sunday school, youth group, summer camp, and Bible Studies. I memorized scripture and was an acolyte- bringing the lit candles to the church altar during Sunday service. I met some of my best friends in my church home and credit them with keeping me out of trouble during most of my high school years and well into college. ‘Spirituality’ wasn’t a factor during this time- ‘religion’ was and I accepted all of it at face-value.

During my college years I didn’t go to church. I wasn’t used to not being in ‘my church’ and felt uncomfortable exploring other options on my own. There was the occasional venturing out, but nothing felt right. I felt guilty for not being involved in a church and felt ashamed that it wasn’t a priority for me to find a new church home.

It was during this time that I traveled out of the country for the first time, started practicing yoga on a regular basis, and started to develop my own opinions about who I am and who I want to be. It was on my yoga mat and in the outdoors that I started to feel more spiritually connected than ever before. I came to realize that my connection with the Devine did not have to be facilitated in a religious service- it can be anywhere- and that my relationship with the Holy Trinity, the Devine, is an actual relationship.

As most relationships go, they need to be cultivated and nurtured. Relationships go through highs and lows, they experience distance and extreme closeness and connection. My spiritual life right now consists of having a small space in my home that serves as a retreat where I can go to pray, practice breath work, and be. In addition, I have been become a student of the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and A Course in Miracles. Both have given me fresh ideas and principles and have been building blocks to the foundation that my early church upbringing gave me.

It has been a long time since I have been in a traditional church service. In the meantime, I have been blessed by a Buddhist monk, skipped work to go hear the Dali Lama speak, prayed in the Sistine Chapel, seen heaven over the Alps, and experienced the greatest peace riding an elephant in a forest in Thailand. I feel like my spiritual practice is…practice. It’s sometimes easy and sometimes complicated. It takes effort, but sometimes is effortless. My practice is not pretty, but I cannot help but whisper a prayer of thanks when I’m surrounded by beauty.

KB1

My greatest recommendation is to soul-search to discover your own connection on your own terms. If you spend all of your time in a church only surrounded by people who agree with you and never allow you to question your own beliefs, you miss out on the world outside its walls and challenges that will help you grow. This big universe was created for YOU- to enjoy, to explore, to love, and to cherish. Enlightenment is not a destination, it’s a journey. There’s so much joy in the journey!

spiritual sidebar

We are interested in hearing about your spiritual journey! If you would like to be featured on Spiritual Sidebar, please email us at spiritualbahana@gmail.com or comment here!

Spiritual Sidebar: Leslie

Today’s Spiritual Sidebar is featuring Ang’s homie, Leslie. Leslie and Ang have been friends since they met while planning their weddings in 2006. Their conversations have evolved over time from candy buffets, to literature, to comforting and relating each other when they both lost their fathers. Ang has always found Leslie’s description of herself as a “Recovering Catholic” amusing and was very interested to hear her take on spirituality.

rosary

1) Tell us about yourself. 

My name is Leslie, and I’m 35 years old. My Instagram bio describes me this way: Woman, writer, wife, mother. I’m many other things, too, but I move through the world with these descriptors most firmly anchored to me.

 2) What do you believe spirituality is? 

Spirituality to me is a relationship with what’s divine in the world. I believe that everything is, or has the potential to be, divine. Cheryl Strayed writes about this in one of her Dear Sugar columns, describing this phenomenon as “the ordinary miraculous.” I think mindfulness is a key aspect of noticing and appreciating the divinity in all things – if we have our heads buried in our iPhones, we will miss quite a bit of the ordinary miraculous.

I also believe very much in mystery, that there are many things in the world that do not have answers and never will. These things without answers range from where we came from to where we go when we die to the complete meaning of T.S. Eliot’s poem “Ash-Wednesday.” We can speculate, we can write treatises and books, but we cannot really know for sure. That uncertainty, that unknown, is something to be respected. For me, respecting mystery and my own lack of answers reminds me of how small I am. I can’t help but feel humble in the face of the unknown that surrounds me.

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 was raised Catholic and went to Catholic Church for my entire childhood. (I also attended a Christian school from kindergarten through 5th grade.) At the age of 16, I was confirmed into the church, and shortly after, I stopped attending. Church was boring to me. Sunday school? Snoozeville. I’d been listening to talk about Jesus my whole life, but none of it resonated with me. And that made me feel guilty. I wanted to believe, but there was nothing in my heart but guilt. There was a fair amount of disgust for myself, too – it’s really difficult to approach the subject of sin with a sensitive child (as I was) and enable her to understand such a deep and complex subject.

I have no doubt that my teachers and elders within the church had the best intentions. I actually loved my church and my private school, all my Christian friends and teachers – none of them were bad people – but the things that I was taught about God did not feel true to me. Oh, how I wanted them to feel true. I tried so hard.

church

4) Tell us about a significant moment that caused a shift in your spiritual development.

When I was 18, I met someone who called himself an agnostic, a term I’d never heard before. He explained agnosticism as a “don’t ask, don’t tell” type of thing, which didn’t make much sense to me. However, meeting someone who had a different viewpoint on all things God paved the way for me to really begin asking questions, reading different texts, and exploring what it was I actually believed – not what I was told to believe, but what I, as a free thinking individual, actually held to be true. This coincided with my first semester of college, which in its own right is a time of huge growth, change, and evolution.

As I grew into my early 20s, I started reading more philosophical and spiritual texts. I was in the process of working on my English degree, so I was introduced to many writers – the cool thing about studying literature is that you are essentially studying life. I read up on Christianity and Buddhism, Atheism and Kabbalah. My favorite book was the Tao Te Ching (translated by Stephen Mitchell) – as I read it, I felt its words sink into the very core of myself. “WOW!” my heart said. I experienced the same feeling when I read Joseph Campbell, who studied and wrote about comparative mythology. Through all of this reading and exploration, I began to really embrace the idea that there are many paths up the same mountain of life. I do not believe in absolute truth – or that any one religion or spiritual path is the right one for everyone. I completely respect that others might feel differently, because they are following a different path. For the majority of my 20s, I thought of myself as an agnostic with Taoist leanings.

love one another

 5) What is your spiritual life like today?

My beliefs are still in the process of evolving. I’m still reading and learning and trying to undo some of my own fears and prejudices. I still struggle with saying the words “prayer,” “worship,” “religion,” “faith,” and “church.” (Even touching on the subject of divinity like I did earlier made me feel strange.) These are such loaded terms, and I’m slowly unpacking them and finding what they mean to me. Someone described me recently as someone who doesn’t know what she believes, and I would say that may be partly true – and I actually don’t think it’s a bad thing to not know. Remember, I’m a big believer in mystery, so I accept the unknown as a teacher and a guide in my life. I don’t need to know the answers, though they are very nice when they come.

My family attends a Unitarian Universalist church, which is a free, liberal faith with an emphasis on community service and social justice, and I find it to be a safe place to examine myself. I also think it’s a wonderful faith to expose children to, because they get to explore and learn about different faiths in their Religious Exploration classes – something I wish I’d gotten to experience as a child. I don’t read spiritual books with the rabidity that I did in my early 20s, but I do still explore through journaling, thinking, and attending church – and it’s not as if spiritual lessons are only gained through those avenues. Reading poetry, listening to music, washing dishes can all be spiritual experiences – remember the “ordinary miraculous”? As far as spiritual reading goes, though, I have carried a pocket-sized copy of the Tao Te Ching in my bag for many years, and I also have a Christian app called She Reads Truth on my iPhone. I love Anne Lamott’s essays on faith, and I find Pema Chodron to be one of my touchstones.

My main hopes for my spiritual journey are that I will remain open to possibilities, miracles (yikes, another heavy term), and truth; that I will grow in my mindfulness; that I will remain respectful and kind towards others; that I will embrace what feels right to me, even if I’m told it’s wrong; that I will continue to help others. I’m looking forward to where life will take me and how my spirituality will unfold. I know I have an infinite amount of things to learn with a finite amount of time in which to do it – but that is one of the beautiful things about life: it’s fleeting and thus it’s something to be cherished.

spiritual sidebar

We are interested in hearing about your spiritual journey! If you would like to be featured on Spiritual Sidebar, please email us at spiritualbahana@gmail.com or comment here!

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?