Life and Trees, Huh?

Jessee Tree.jpg

Trees are pretty darn amazing if you think about it. The roots, the trunk, the rings, the branches, leaves, and even fruit that grows on it, flowers, pretty amazing.  Trees are also a great metaphor for life and faith life if you think about it, and apply it to living.  How, well let’s explore that.

The trunk, the trunk is strong, rooted deep in the ground firm, and goes deep, quite deep and could be seen as the unconscious self, the part that hold much of our hidden memories, even suppressed anxieties etc…, also that innate search for something, that intangible something we can’t quite discern what it is we are looking for, that all encompassing love that we can’t quite define, that tugging at the conscience even when society says yeah do what you want, but deep down we know better.   It’s the storage area of all the memories and lessons hopefully wisely learned in our lives, the place where God was able to touch us, make an impact initially.  Then you have the branches and leaves that tell of all the external stories in our lives, all the fruits we have born, have created, the arms extended, what we have carried, the storms we have weathered, the rings tell of the years gone by.  Carvings can tell of who and what has visited us, left their mark on us literally.  

If I am going to be a tree, what kind of tree do I want to be?  What kind of roots do I want to plant what kind of fruit do I want to produce? These are all important questions as I journey through the second part of my life being at the slightly over 50 mark age wise.  I need to determine this and then make it happen with the Lord’s help, be a fruitful Tree of Jesse, one that produces good fruit, not only for myself, but also for others. 

Amen

Overcoming Faith with Fear

Christ Consciousness

In traditional homes, our children have been taught to fear the unknown. While the adults have been trying to prepare the children for world problems, they have been unintentionally performing a negative programming. I don’t speak this for everyone; however, some of us know what it is like! We have been continuously taught to fear the unknown. We have made ourselves nervous of what might happen or how worse the things may get. While some may argue that it is this approach that prepares us to handle the unknown easily. What if I told you this is the approach that makes us afraid of change? What if that change is spiritual or positive? Then without doubt, this fear of unknown is what is stopping us from experiencing what God has planned for us.

A thought may occur in your mind. Isn’t being afraid nowadays a good habit actually? The fear lets us prepare for worse which lets us avoid it. And who can argue right?! I mean look at this crazy times. Political upheaval, natural disasters, diseases breakouts, economic crisis etc. just to name a few… It is very easy to be shaken all the times. It seems very impractical to be not worried. I support you. However, you also must know the adverse medical effects of depression which is sole consequence of fear. Bible suggests that in Christ we live unshakable. It didn’t say wrong.

Note that I am not asking you to give up worries. They let you prepare beforehand for disasters. However, what I am suggesting is that you must let go of fear of unknown. Fear of unknown is impractical. You must fight your fear with faith of everything happening in best manner. Belief helps! It lets you put your hope in future. We have greatest gift of present which we can utilize by living in moment. How can we live in moment when fear of future prevents us from doing so? Faith helps in this obstacle.

The battle against fear is a something which we can only win through our faith. What we want to accomplish in life can never be won through constant worries and fear. As the scripture suggested, “Fight a good fight of faith”. This is achieved by knowing the fact that we are spiritual beings having temporary existence on earth. Our Lord loves us. He sent us here for a reason. He sent us so that we could live up to our fullest potential. He has sent us so that we could fulfill ourselves spiritually and physically, thus ascending to our higher selves. By acknowledging that every cloud has a silver lining, every trouble comes with opportunity in disguise, we can get through this. I know some of us have lost relatives; some of us have suffered heavy losses, and how is there a silver lining in this? Well, trust me. God loves you more than your own mother. If something was taken from you, it was only for purpose of letting you grow. Over the time, you will get something even better. It is coming despite of your attitude; you just have to prepare yourself to receive its fullest by practicing faith.

Expectations, Blessing or Not?

Garden

 

Expectations, we all have them, not necessarily a negative thing, is it? well depends.  Depends, depends on what, either you do or you don’t have them?  Either they’re good or they’re bad, work or they don’t?  Well, no, not that simple.

We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.

Sheryl Sandberg 

Let’s start with expectations of self.  We can be our own worst critics, our harshest taskmasters.   Shouldn’t we have expectations of ourselves, goals?  Yes, but at the same time, what should they be?  We all have innate gifts, talents our creator gave us, and understanding the needs of humanity, understood we could not all be given the same gifts and even within the category of those gifts not at the same level of capacity.  What should we expect from ourselves?  When I taught ESL one of the mottos we gave students was KISS, Keep It Simple Sweetheart.  In the case of personal expectations the best expectation is to discover what your God given talents and gifts are, find constructive opportunities to develop them and use them in your lifetime to your benefit and benefit of the greater society, one where all have the opportunity to develop their talents etc…  Also, give yourself space to stumble and fall, get up again, wiser, stronger than before, with greater faith than before. 

Whatever happens in the world is real, what one thinks should have happened is projection. We suffer more from our fictitious illusion and expectations of reality.

Jacque Fresco

What about others, expectations of others?  Often we go back to what others should have done, over and over.  We put high expectations on others, very specific laundry list on them of what they should do to prove themselves to us etc..  What if we just had the same expectation of them that I spoke of having for ourselves? What if we expected realization of potential and might I add for self, no victimization crap, accepting that yeah life has moments that really frankly are YUK, and UGGHHHH!, cry, scream into the pillow, beat up the pillow, go to the gym and punch the punching bag, exercise, get it out constructively, make changes to life, behavior etc.., be an example to others of expectation on how to handle tough moments. Expect them to learn and move forward, process and move forward with what was learned, keep growing, learning, realizing their full potential, be a better person.  What if that was the basic expectation we had, nothing more, and relayed that clearly, all we expected was develop and live up to your full potential, which I know exists, just have to find it and cultivate it, through thick and thin, be there for them to do so?  Something to contemplate. 

Amen

Why Sing Out Your Stress?

soaring eagle

This is a follow up to the previous article.  We all have stress, rejection so on and so forth at some point.  One reason I love to sing and write is it helps me to navigate the stress of fibromyalgia.  When I came across this article, it resonated and I wanted to share with you.

Top 5 Reasons to Sing Out Your Stress

When people find out that I’m a music therapist, the comments I hear most often are “I wish I could sing!” or “Oh, I love to sing, but I’m not good enough to do it in front of anyone”. Some of these people tell me that, as children, a parent, teacher or someone else told them that they should just mouth the words because they didn’t have a good enough voice.

Singing is our birthright! Singing is a natural and pure expression of how glad we feel to be alive, and the way we show our love of music. Here are my top five reasons to sing out your stress:

1. To connect with your body: We sing with our whole bodies. Because singing is so connected to closely with breath, singing helps us “be in our bodies” and let go of the thinking (or worrying) we do much of the day. Singing can be a joyful activity and can release endorphins (those feel-good chemicals that the body creates).

2. To connect with yourself: Meditative toning, singing along to a favourite song or simply humming to yourself are all ways to tap into your inner landscape and see what’s going on in there.

3. To connect with others: Singing with other people – in meditation, prayer, at a sing-along, at a concert, or even over the telephone or Internet – helps us experience in a very deep way that we are all truly connected.

4. To express your feelings: Many times a singer, songwriter or composer has expressed our feelings in a way we could never have – if there’s a song that expresses what you want or need to say, try singing along (keep in mind that this is just for you and it’s not about “sounding good”).

5. To boost your good feelings: Whatever you focus on, you’ll invite more of into your life. You can choose uplifting, joyful and celebratory songs to sing.

So sing out! Be proud of your own unique voice. Experiment with what works for you – keep a journal of what you notice in your mind and body when you sing specific songs. Then you can choose the right song for the right moment and make use of the power of singing in your own life.

Core Beliefs, What Are They?

Garden Path

If you look at this garden path, it seems to be leading up to a memorial of some kind, or a central monument, something, a centerpiece, well as I looked back on my life I realized that what makes me me is not a church, or a building, membership in any particular one, though community matters and I am sure there is one that reflects who I am and these core beliefs.  I realized for me to be well, I had to get straight what they are and then focus on honoring them very constructively.  What are they?

The Universal Moral Laws/Noahoide Laws =  1. One God,  2.Respect the creator one God (do so even when nothing seems to make sense around you and you are ticked off at him for how he allows things or manages things), 3. Respect life (doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to defend self, family, community property, nation if attacked, you do), 4. Respect the institution of marriage. (one man and one woman as instituted by God, don’t mess with that dimwitted humanity!), 5. Respect the rights and property of others and honest in all your business dealings. 6. Respect G‑d’s creatures (life is precious, so respect it, never take a life in cold blood, and never out of vengeance),maintain justice.  7. Justice is G‑d’s business, but we are given the charge to lay down necessary laws and enforce them

Christ, Anointing and Prayer – I believe Christ was begotten, not made and that he had a very special anointing, to give a very particular example of sacrifice for others in away that others were not for a particular purpose, that he did not come to abolish the Nohaite Laws, but rather to reinforce them for Jew and Gentile, bring all together under the Nohaite laws.  I believe that prayer whether a Mass or reading of scripture and prayer from the heart, wither way is pleasing to the Creator, one creator of all things.

Metaphysics and the branch of metaphysics in various forms can be very informative and helpful in spiritual and personal development

Prayer and the Arts – The arts is the greatest form of prayer there is, when it is sacred and beautifully presented and from the heart.  

Charity and Welfare – If we truly want to bring welfare then let’s bring all of the above and let’s help people to help themselves to prosper in all ways, on all levels including financially discovering and focusing their gifts.

I realize now that I need to create a life that focuses on these things, and activities that will allow me to work in a group setting, perhaps a a c0working space, rent that monthly and have that sense of community, but still focus on the arts and doing workshops online, things of that nature, maybe there even create a spiritual meditation circle.  I need to do what I need to do to honor this core of who I am and live it on a day to day basis.

The Slice or The Pie?

pie chart

It finally dawned on me, where the clash came from.  The pie or the pieces of the pie?  Huh, what the heck?  What am I talking about? Perspective.

I am approaching something from not only the aspect of keeping my word, but also having taught for over ten years the point of the whole pie, no matter what role you play in any organization, group, project, you look at the whole.  Though the ESL Lab TA’s were not the classroom teachers, we still had to teach the lesson plans given and at times we were asked our opinion, and when we taught after, we had to give holistic feedback to the classroom instructor.  If we thought there was anything outside of the academics that needed addressing, we made our voices heard on that, yours truly every time without fail, and firmly, to where the supervisors would tell the instructors in regards having me as TA for their class, just don’t mess with her babies, with what she cares about, she is fierce in fighting for and protecting that.  I was and in the sense of the whole picture, even in my advice to them, never to look at anything piecemeal, to always look at everything from the entire pie approach, even as they focused on their individual assignments.  I always told them to look at how this was going to benefit them in the long run years ahead and their children, everyone in their lives long term, never think only of now, of today, of this one class, how things tie together.  For our advanced ESL classes we paired up with other departments to teach things in broader context, as we realized nothing is ever in isolation and we were not the only ones responsible for teaching ESL, the other departments were also responsible in assisting in this and we also had to take responsibility for expanding their horizons.  

As I reflected last night on things, on recent events with a colleague I realized what was going on was the Pie and the Pieces.  He is one who does not look at things long range,  or from a holistic perspective in regards to his role in the parish.  He feels that things ought to be dealt with one piece at a time, worry about that piece then move on to the next piece then the next piece of the Pie Chart, keep doing that, no connection to the whole pie, no responsibility for the whole pie the baking of it, keeping it warm or cool or anything, just the Pieces of the Pie.  I on the other hand am looking at the whole Pie, how do we bake a whole pie, pay for the cost of the whole pie, then the pieces fall into place and how is our pie connected to the major baker, our mother Basilica and how do we cooperate and collaborate with them to grow.  For my colleague my pie approach, looking at the whole and being willing to do so, and put that forward is a bit overwhelming since Pieces of a Pie are a lot easier to work with at any one time than a Whole Pie, as some see it.  However, others that are to collaborate with the organization, project etc…often get frustrated if the approach taken is Piecemeal and only Piecemeal, if things are not coordinated among all related entities and for the long range, so while I understand that some, like my colleague prefer to work according to the Piecemeal approach, if one is asked to present a Whole Pie in order to save the organization, project etc.. and if those who are to collaborate also would require attention to the Whole Pie as well as the Pieces of the Pie, to dismiss that and ignore that is highly dismissive to everyone involved.  Holistic, long term shows seriousness and maturity, and when asked to move forward with that approach and not to do so, it says to those in authority who make that suggestion, screw you, could be viewed that way.  I will leave it to my colleague to take a piecemeal approach, though it has not worked so far, and will assist as best I can.  At the same time I will keep my word to put forth a holistic plan and pray for that to be a positive tool to be used for the organization to move forward for the long haul and to thrive.

Amen