Category Archives: Simply

Bookends

BCP and Beads

BCP and Beads

My day is bookended by Laud and Compline. Laud starts with the glorious words, “Let my soul rise up to meet you . . .” and Compline ends with ” . . . And asleep I may rest in peace.”

Advertisements

Joy & Happiness vs Fear & Scarcity

In The Gifts of Imperfection Brene Brown says that we don’t fix (fear of) scarcity with abundance but with sufficient (enough).

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I’ve been drawn to voluntary simplicity for a decade now. It began as a spiritual practice and has influenced all areas of my life. I had never considered that I might be drawn to it as an answer to fear of scarcity.

However in reading through this section, again, I noticed that I often feel a lack of . . .sleep, time, and health. So while I’ve gotten control of fear of scarcity concerning money and possessions, I’ve never addressed these other more nebulous areas.

I think it is easy when dealing with an auto-immune disorder to chalk a lot of feelings up to how you’re physically feeling each day. It does seem that days when I wake up achy, dull, and swollen that is much harder to express courage, compassion, and even connection with others. I often just want to curl up into a ball and have the world go away. And on those days when I wake up feeling great everything just seems to fall into place and it’s easier to be the authentic me.

I’ve been working for a little over 4 weeks (at the time I’m writing this) with an Ayurvedic counselor. The work has been enlightening from a purely physical viewpoint, but also because it brings to mind so much of what I remember from this book. Physically I am feeling better than I have in a very long time. The dietary and lifestyle changes put into place were difficult at first, but as I began to build routines and habits they are becoming almost second nature. As I have felt better and better, I’ve noticed that all that soul work really laid the groundwork for this endeavor.

I’m learning how routine creates a sense of “enough” in the areas of food, sleep, time, movement, and health. As I sense “enough” in these areas, I feel the gifts of happiness and freedom flowing back into that area of my life again. My story continues to include this disorder, but slowly it is being pushed into a corner where it can inform but not control my sense of well-being.

Since happiness is an emotion based on circumstances, I realize that it was never my joy that this disease was taking. It was my happiness. When I ask myself what would make today awesome and then when I journal what made that day joyful, I think I have been focusing more on happy than true joy. As I read back through my journal I noticed these were all things that effected my emotions.

Happiness comes and goes, but true joy is a bit like a light in my soul. It is there just waiting for a chance to shine. So starting today I’m going to work on having two lists. One for what would make me happy. The second for where I saw true joy displayed in my life. I think the distinction is important and this is one way I can acknowledge that distinction.

The Gifts of Imperfection, part 2

Part 2 of my summary of The Gifts of Imperfection.

Garatitude and Joy:  Both gratitude and joy are spiritual practices. This means they are not attitudes (which are just ways of thinking) but practices (which are ways of being). Happy (emotion based on circumstances) is not the same as joy (which is often felt in spite of circumstances). You must choose each day to be grateful and joyful.

One way I do that is in my journal. Each morning I ask what can I do (realistically do, not dreamily wish for) to make today joyful — it helps to phrase it “What would make today awesome?” Then as the day progresses I check in and incorporate those things into my day. Each evening I list those things that made the day full of joy. Sometimes my morning list and my afternoon list are very different. Joy comes in surprising places. I’ve always kept a gratitude list in my journal. Most people say you should write your list down each evening. I prefer to start my day reviewing the things I am grateful for from the day before or even things from the middle of the night.

Brene Brown says the opposite of joy is fear (and specifically fear of scarcity). We see this in our lives as worry, anxiety, fearfulness . . . and we don’t fix scarcity with abundance but with enough. For the past 10 years I have been practicing voluntary simplicity. I have found in it a realization that enough is more than adequate.

Intuition and Trusting Faith: Intuition is a rapid fire, unconscious associating process. Observe-scan for existing patterns-reach conclusion; occasionally this is so fast it just seems as if you know without knowing how you know. Sometimes the answer is clear and sometimes the answer is more input needed. Anne Lamott says, “The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty”. I think what this means to me is that some things are a mystery and I just have to have enough courage to to believe what I cannot see.

Creativity:  I don’t normally think of myself as a creative person. I can’t draw, paint, sing (well, I can sing, but nobody wants to hear it), write a novel, or any of those things that are typically thought of. What I can do is cultivate and curate meaning. I like to make sense of things — not like science facts, just life. I like to see the patterns in life and express those patterns. For me this often takes the form of journal type entries on this blog,

The biggest hinderance to creativity is comparison. Comparison is all about conformity and competition. And I have to say I am NOT into conformity or competition. So I was thrilled to learn that my cultivating and curating meaning is a form, my form, of creativity. It has opened doors of freedom that I’ve kept pretty close to the vest all these years. I’ve even been doing the Headspace meditation pack on creativity. Some pretty interesting thoughts come out of my head. Thoughts that I used to let others squash or ridicule me for are now embraced and given a voice.

Play and Rest: Play here is defined as purposeless. In other words, we play for the sheer joy of play, not to learn something, not to get in our exercise. Rest is downtime. Rest is not necessarily sleep, although we definitely need to make sure we are getting in enough sleep. I’m pretty good at the rest aspect of this — because of my auto-immune disease I make sure my day has time set aside to just rest and renew.

Play isn’t something I’m very good about doing though. I’ll romp through the yard with the puppy (I really need to stop calling him that; he is 18 months old now). I love a good bike ride, but only if someone else is riding with me and talking. Does binge watching my favorite shows count as play? I’m really asking here. . . .

Next up: Calm and Stillness; Meaningful Work; Laughter, Song & Dance

Auditory Processing & The Gifts of Imperfection

In September, during my morning walks, I listened to the book _The Gifts of Imperfection_ (by Brene Brown). I listened for the “outward” stretch of the walk (and thought about it on the “return” stretch, occasionally accompanied by some pop/rock music). In the afternoon I’d sit down with the book version and reread the section I had listened to earlier that day.

This turned out to be a pretty good system for me. I process a lot of information audibly. I think that’s why I get so distracted in a classroom setting. I hear you sniffling, I hear you shuffling the pages, I hear you getting your cell phone out of you pocket — I hear you. This “hearing you” means my attention is split between you and what I’m trying to process.

This “hearing you” comes along with being a HSP (highly sensitive person) and an introvert (quiet people, I just need some quiet). This combination can make it difficult to stay on task, or to be honest, even think if the environment is loud enough/chaotic enough/over stimulating. For example: I once worked for a company that played music through the whole building. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love pop music and keep a selection on my phone for helping me power through the second half of my walk, but I don’t listen and do anything mental at the same time. Just does not work. Not. At. All. One day the same song played on repeat and loud (that Lego song: Everything is awesome) for over an hour. In attempt to maintain my sanity, I put in my earbuds and tried to listen to the Bach cello suites. I ended up frantic, in tears, and unable to do even the easiest of the tasks assigned to me.

This particular day left me with a sense that I was imperfect, I was flawed, and my boundaries were not important. Almost two years later I can still feel the shame I experienced that day. No adult wants to be brought to tears by a stupid Lego song.

So the book _The Gifts of Imperfection_ was really encouraging for me to read. The book talks about Being Enough and the three daily practices or tools that we need in order to set boundaries and know we are enough: courage, compassion, and connection.

Courage: to speak (and live) my whole heart’s truth openly and honestly, putting my vulnerability on the line, and owning my own story. Contrast this with hustling, performing, pleasing, and proving.

Compassion: to recognize our shared humanity, dignity due a person simply because they are, and maintaining boundaries.

Connection: the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued. Contrast this with being communicative and self-sufficienct.

Authenticity: letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are. — This is the key for me. Being an INFJ, HSP, and auditory means I am going to experience life in my own way. Knowing this can help me set boundaries . . . I.e.: if you’re going to play that song on repeat for over an hour, I should probably go home or at least hide in the bathroom.

Self Compassion: Be slow to judge yourself, there is no such thing as perfect, and I am not what I accomplish or perform. A second boundary for me is knowing that I can not handle violence in movies or tv. For a long time, I assumed it was simply the visual image that disturbed me, but an incident the other night showed me the music and the sound effects have a lot to do with how intensely I perceive the violence.

Resilient Spirit: resilience is the ability to overcome adversity. The single biggest factor in my resilience is my faith. In the Anglican Communion I find faith, love, support, connection, meaning, and reliability. There is something incredibly comforting in knowing people all over the world are praying the same prayers and reading the same Scriptures. This comfort allows me to “feel all the feelings” and sort through them.

Other sections of the book include: gratitude and joy, intuition and faith, creativity, play and rest, calm and stillness, and meaningful work, laughter song and dance. Thursday I’ll take a look at each of these and talk about the lessons I learned from each.

a living alleluia

Augustine: A Christian should be an alleluia head to foot.
From A Year with God, Day 88

Alleluia = Hallelujah; praise the Lord

What does it mean to be a living alleluia?

We’re just a few days from Palm Sunday. A few short days from remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey. He’s coming not to conquer, but to gather us up like chicks to a hen. This is a compassionate entry. It’s clear that those present are moved to worship him as he deserves to be worshipped. He says even if they didn’t, nature herself would proclaim his praise.

I want to be part of the crowd praising him; I want to be part of nature praising him; and I want to be one of those who worshipped even at the cross. A huge crowd of praised when things seemed be going right . . . In other words, when it looks like he is going to fulfuill their expectations. Yet, they all seem to fade into the woodwork when the hard part comes.

Am I guilty of this? Do I fade into the mist when it’s a difficult day to proclaim him? This seems like a good time to ponder the question.

In the Episcopal Curch we “bury the Allelulia” for Lent. We cover it in our sanctuaries and we refrain from saying it during our services. This lends itself to reflection upon the suffering of Christ and a sense of waiting for Easter. Since we are usually dismissed with a double Allelulia, I’ve noticed that I leave the service feeling a bit incomplete.

Easter Sunday sees the jubilant return of Allelulia and the joy I feel when hearing and speaking the word is profound.

This year I want to remember that joy and I want to worship fully: fully when present for corporate worship and fully as I go through each day.

cows

I was huffing along this morning moaning to God about the state of things (namely my firewood supply — or lack thereof, the world in general, and my inability to “master” a certain yoga pose that I’ve been working on). As I came around the corner, the hill and the cows came into view. They looked so peaceful. It was chilly enough that their breath came out in great clouds of steam. They glanced up, mooed and grunted, and meanandered toward the bottom of the hill.

I need to be more like the cows . . . ackowledge the intrusion of fear, doubt, and inability, but not get stuck there.

I need to be more like the cows . . . trusting my needs will be provided for.

I need to be more like the cows . . . remembering that my yoga is to become not to forceably master.

Grace, it seems, is still at work in me.

morning office

Even though it is August, which should be steamy, hot and humid here in southern Indiana, the mornings have been cool and brisk. I’m not complaining, just observing.

My morning walk used to start at 6:00 and the sun was rising. Now I’m sleeping an extra half an hour just so I can say the words of the Daily Office, “O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.” as the sun begins to appear over the horizon.

It puts my day in context. It reminds me that the most important things in life are my faith and the gift of a brand new day. A new day to move my body, eat good food, and drink amazing Chai Lattes.

By the time I reach the road, I’ve moved on from greeting the day to confession. I like getting that out of the way. Mostly I like getting to the line, “So that I may walk in your will and delight in your way to the glory of your name.”

Ah yes, this sets the tone for the day that awaits my return. I have a couple of miles to think through my tasks, pray for those that come to mind, and simply take in all the beauty of my neighborhood.

As I leave the road and walk back down the driveway, the collect comes to mind. “Almighty and everliving Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day. Preserve us now, by your mighty power, so that we may not fall into sin nor be overcome by adversity. And may all we do ever be the fulfilling of your purpose.”

One more reminder that I am not alone in this day and these tasks. I’ve been brought here and given a purpose. I acknowldege that sin and adversity are part of life, but admit that I prefer not to fall nor be overcome.

This simple rhythm brings such comfort and stability to my life. I am ever grateful for the faith community that has brought these words into my life. I need this structure. I need these prepared words.

I’ve been asked if simply reciting these prayers and words doesn’t feel contrived or like I’m slacking off in my prayer life. On the contrary, I have discovered that these words lead to a greater depth of faith. They have become the starting block of a conversation that sustains me as I go through the day. A day framed by Laud, Sext, Vespers, and Compline. A day that comes back to God at regular intervals. A day that I know is mirrored in a multitude across the globe.

———————