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“We all have a spiritual purpose, a mission, that we have been pursuing without being fully aware of it, and once we bring it completely into consciousness, our lives can  take off.”  This sentence found in the last 3rd of the book just about sums it all up for me.  We have a spiritual purpose for this life.  I know I do. I know I was called to, or whatever you want to call it, at a very young age.  I know that I have spent my entire life “chasing it” trying to figure out “where to go from here”…”what I want to be when I grow up”.  I know that I have spent a great deal of my life trying to “control” it instead of letting it flow to me.  Living in the flow, instead of forcing the issue.  That is the only way to have it come to me.  But I guess I wasn’t exactly ready for it, that is, until this year.  Not until doing this 52 books in 52 weeks project.

This book has been on my “to read list” for YEARS!  I have seen the movie, but never got around to reading it.  As a matter of fact, it was on my list to read this year way early on in the year, but it has taken me to number 48 at week number 52 to actually get it read.  But ya know what?  It came at the perfect time!

This book reinforces much of what I believe spiritually.  It talks about energy, personal conflicts and why we have them, about coincidences and how we pay attention to them we realize they are not coincidences rather our intuition talking to us!  The idea (in this book) is that there are 9 insights left to us by the Mayans, and these 9 insights show us the way to evolve and become more spiritually connected and in tune people.  The insights give us a better way to live..a better way to understand what the Christ was teaching us through is life…..  It is so beautiful!

Like usual, I underlined and dog-eared every other page.  This book was that profound.  However, like the story itself, I think I will let you discover the insights on your own..the way you are lead to them.  That is the only way you will truly understand them.

I will tell you to pay attention to “coincidences” in your life.  For example, let’s take a look at how I became employed at Bogus Basin as a cashier in the Simplot Lodge.    I did NOT want to work in the Simplot Lodge. It is the busiest lodge and can get quite messy.  It has been my perception that it can be very loud with lots of screaming teens and children.  In the past I have been very sensitive to that many people.  It did not sound enjoyable to me.  Then as my son Nate was trying to apply for a buser’s job on-line for Simplot Lodge, I was trying to help him and accidentally clicked on it and applied for MYSELF for a busser in the Simplot Lodge.  A busser!!!!  So totally NOT what I wanted.  I tried and tried and tried very unsuccessfully to remove this from my on-line jobs profile for Bogus. Even though the button said “unclick” or whatever, it would not allow me to remove it.  Ah well.  Then, I got the call from the Simplot Manager wanting me to interview for THAT position.  I told the manager (Gary) that it was an accident and I didn’t want the job.  Instead, he asked me to come in any way just to start the process.  I agreed.  I got called for the interview, Nate did not.  I felt horrible.  I was getting a job, that I didn’t even want, and Nate wasn’t even getting called at all.

I went to the interview; as we talked the subject of Nate came up.  Gary wrote down his name and said he would call him.  He did.  Nate went to the interview and said that if I had not gotten called first, he didn’t think he would have ever gotten called.  Yay!  Then I got the job offer, and so did Nate.  I took the offer, but still hoped the other 5 jobs I applied for would come through.  I only got interviewed for ONE of the other jobs.  I didn’t get that job.  Instead I ended up with a cashier’s job in Simplot Lodge (even though I applied for busser, Gary said he wanted me as Cashier).

It turns out, it is PERFECT!!!!!!  I LOVE  my job, and miss it when I’m not there!  I love the people I work with.  I love the guests I get to serve. I love everything about it.

Great…so that is one coincidence.  It is ONE example of how following the coincidences all the way through will lead  you to wear you need to be and maybe  even help other people at the same time.  So what is my next step in following these coincidences?  On our first work newsletter there was a section about taking your own professional growth into your hands.  If there is someone at work who has the qualities or experiences you would like to learn from, then talk to them.  Well, Bogus is a non-profit recreational facility.  In my job, I get to see all the ‘big wigs” who run the mountain and talk to them on a daily basis.  My next step is getting to know them better and make a date to have lunch or dinner with them and see if I can learn how to go about getting my non-profit recreational facility (roller rink) up and running!

This is what The Celestine Prophecy talks about… one of my favorite quotes says:  “The universe is energy, energy that responds to our expectations.  People are part of that energy universe too, so when we have a question, the people show up who have the answer.”   I have followed the energy to the right place for the universe to provide me with the people I think will be able to help me!  I ask the questions, and the universe gave me the answers!

Here is another great quote.  Beside it, I wrote, “My work!”.  During this part of the book, the main character describes a dream he was having about being in this raging river and if he fights the river it would drown him, but if he didn’t fight against it…”It woudl have carried me to the key.  What are you saying?  That if i don’t fight against this situation that I  might still get the answers I want?”  His friend replied, “I’m not saying anything.  The dream is saying.”

Why do we fight against what is right, even when at first glance it looks wrong.  If we stop trying to control our lives and live in the flow and be OPEN to what the universe is sharing with us, we will wind up right where we are supposed to be and life will be bliss!  When we are filled with energy and living in the flow, all of our questions will be answered and we would feel like a fish out of water trying to gasp for our next breath!  It’s beautiful!

I will leave you with one more great quote that sums up not only this book and the lessons learned from it, but also my year…..

“I guess I’ve woken up and seen the world as a mysterious place that provides everything we need, if we get clear and get on the path.”

Blessings!

I bought this book when it first came out (some time at the beginning of the year).  A group of my Facebook friends were going to take the class that was offered via Oprah I believe, and I was going to do it with them.  Ya.  I bought the book, but I never made it to the classes, and I didn’t read the book until now.  And as with everything else in life, there is a timing for everything and I truly believe I needed to have a few more experiences before reading the book.  It is perfect for right now!  Exactly what I need at the exactly the right time.

This book intrigued me.  As a trained storyteller, I learned a great deal about “the shadow” as it pertains to archetypes in storytelling and how to use storytelling in healing the psyche.  This book seemed like a natural fit into my life and what I have already learned; it seemed like it would be a natural extension.

C.G. Jung tells us that our shadow is the person we would rather not be.  Marianne Williamson says, “We feel if we take a deep look at ourselves, we’ll be too exposed.   We don’t want to look at our own shadow, because we’re afraid of what we might see.  But the only thing we should actually fear is not looking at it, for our denial of the shadow is exactly what fuels it.”

Debbie Ford asks the reader, “Are you ready to embark on this journey of reclaiming all of yourself, the light and the dark, your good self and your evil twin?  Are you ready to return to the love of your true, total, authentic self rather than stay trapped in the judgmental angst of a disjointed human ego?”  If so, “Your job is to learn from the shadow, to integrate it, and allow it to evolved your thinking and expand the boundaries of your self-created persona.  Your challenge is to find its value and to bring the light of forgiveness and compassion so that you can defuse its ability to dismantle your life.  Your job is to bring its complex characters out from the shadow, and to use their power and potency as sacred fuel to become who you were meant to be in this lifetime.”

Wow!  That is a pretty big challenge.  There is a reason it is called “the shadow”.  It can be a bit scary to take an honest look at what we are feeling and why.  Isn’t it easier to sit in judgment and blame someone else than to take 100% responsibility for our own thoughts and actions?  Ya, I think so too!  But I have realized in recent days,  months, years that I need to take 100% accountability for everything that happened or continues to happen in my life.   Whether it’s the abuse I endured as a child, the issues in  my marriage, or what I perceive to be happening within the roller derby league I was practicing with.  This book reiterates what I already believe and that is that “thoughts are things” and we create our own world based on our thoughts.  When I think, “Well they don’t like me and are ignoring me and leaving me out because they don’t like  me” then it sets that “wish” into motion and sure enough I get more of what I perceived to be true.  This just shows  me that I am feeling separate from others….separate from my self…separate from God/Love.  Where there is separation, there is fear.  Where there is fear, there is the shadow.  Where there is shadow, there is dis-ease, pain, sadness.

There are so many great thoughts in this book that really helped me look at things in different ways.  If you are struggling with addictions of any kind, fear of any kind, lack of success…if you feel as though something is holding you back, then pick up this book and give it a good read.  At the end of the book there is a test to see how the Shadow Effect is playing out in your life.  I am happy to say that the shadow is not controlling me completely, and yet there is room for growth :).  My eyes are opened now, and that is a good thing.

I will close this entry with this last statement from Marianne Williamson:

“Ultimately, the healing of the world will emerge not from our changing and correcting others, but from our willingness to change and correct ourselves.  Since all minds are joined, our ability to self-correct has a corrective influence on the entire universe.”

Blessings!

Admittedly, what I know about Maya Angelou is very little and mostly from Oprah’s TV show.  I have read a couple of her poems, which have touched me.  But until I picked up this book, I have never spent any quality time with Maya Angelou’s thoughts or words.  The title of this book spoke to me because I have always thought about the books I would gather and hand my daughter as a gift as she transitions from girl to woman.  This book is now one of those books that will be passed down.

This book is a quick one day read of 28 short stories/essays and a few poems about life as an African American woman, pregnancy, rape, being a daughter, coming of age, spirituality and so much more!  I  had some very profound moments while reading this book, and I found quite a few parallels with her thoughts on racism and my thoughts on the discrimination of LGBT individuals.

I spend a great deal of my time volunteering, and I donate money when I can.  I have never spent any time looking up the word “philanthropist”, but thankfully Maya Angelou has.   “The word philanthropy was taken from the two Greek words.  phil–lover of; and anthro–mankind.  So, philanthropists are lovers of humanity.”  She talks about how they show their love through large sums of money and how she would classify herself as “charitable”.  “The charitable say in effect, ‘I seem to have more than I need and you seem to have less than you need.  I would like to share my excess with you.’  Fine, if my excess is tangible, money or goods, and fine if not, for I learned that to be charitable with gestures and words can bring enormous joy and repair injured feelings.”

She finishes her thought by saying, “I may  never be known as a philanthropist, but I certainly am a lover of mankind, and I will give freely of my resources.  I am happy to describe myself as charitable.”

I loved her thoughts on this.

There is a chapter called “Morocco” where she tells a story of her trip to that country.  She was a young naive 25-year-old woman who was not versed in the ways of the Moroccan people.  She tells a humorous tale that reminds us to learn about the customs of the countries we want to visit.  This story actually had me laughing out loud.  I may never look at raisins the same way again!

A lesson in gratitude:

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas.  The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising.  Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude.  If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.  Today I am blessed.”

A thought on strangers and friends:

“I learned that a friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.”

There was another story she told about her life with  her ex husband.  “Within two days of our meeting we knew were in love together and had to be in life together.”  To me, the thought of being in love together instead of in love with each other, was so beautiful and such a great way to express what love truly is.

Then as I was finishing the book, in the last “chapter” called “Keep the Faith” she describes a persons spiritual journey as this…”It is in the search itself that one finds the ecstasy.”  And so it is!

Imagine being a very young elementary school girl and liking boys.  Sounds about normal, right?  Now imagine being a very young elementary school girl, liking boys AND liking girls.  Sound a bit confusing?  Ya; that’s the understatement of a life time!  Hi, I’m Martha Saathoff Spiva; I’m a 41-year-old married mom of 3 AND I’m bisexual!  This is my story.

One of my earliest childhood memories was attending a church with my mom.  We met in a 2-story office building just off of the LBJ Freeway in Dallas, Texas.  It was made of all black glass with cement pillars.  The minister was a woman.  We met in a big, square room with a stage/podium up front.  I was 5 years old.  There was an altar call…a come to Jesus moment.  And I KNEW I was being called to start my spiritual journey.  I went.  I asked Jesus into my heart.  From that moment on, my spiritual journey was the most important thing in my life.  This was a defining moment for me!

After we stopped going to that church, we started attending the Richardson Assembly of God Church.  After that we moved to the Lakewood Assembly of God Church 30 minutes away in (almost) downtown Dallas.  This is where I spent my formative years.  This is also the time my parents put me in a Baptist private school.  Needless to say, I grew up in a very conservative, right-wing, Texas, god-fearing home.  I knew my Bible backwards and forwards.  More importantly, I had my very own spiritual walk with God.

And this is where things got confusing……….

Like I said, I liked boys.  I have always liked boys.  When I was in kindergarten, I had a HUGE crush on “Talky” the 6th grade crossing guard and friend of one of my brothers.  In 1st grade, I had a boyfriend named Tracy Lewis (not the same Tracy that I married).  As I got older, there were always crushes on new boys and those crushes grew longer and more serious as I became a tween.  All the while, my spiritual conviction grew stronger and deeper.  But all the while, I LOVED girls.  I crushed on my girlfriends.  I would rather look at the women in my brothers’ girlie mags than look at the men.  Finally, at 11 years old, I couldn’t take the confusion anymore.  I needed to talk to someone.  And I thought my mom is the person I could talk to.

This is how it went………..

The car had just pulled up and parked in front of our home.  I asked my mom if we could talk.  “Mom,” I said, “I think I’m gay.”

Her reply:  “That’s impossible!  Besides, you don’t even know what that word means!”

“Yes, Mom, I do.  It means that I like girls.”

“But, Martha, you like boys, don’t you?  You have boyfriends don’t you?”

“Yes, Mom, I do.”

“Well, see!  You aren’t gay.  Besides, It’s impossible.  You are a good Christian young woman and it’s impossible for a good Christian young woman to be gay!  It’s a sin!”

With that she opened the door, stepped out of the car, and the conversation was never brought up again.

Just because the subject wasn’t brought up again, didn’t change what I felt inside.  Only now, it was worse.  I knew I was a “good Christian young woman”.  I knew I had a spiritual calling.  At 11 years old, I had already read the Bible once all the way through.  I prayed every day..a couple times a day.  I even prayed for these “urges” to go away.  They didn’t.  But I buried these feelings and didn’t mention them again for 11 more years!!!!

What happened in those 11 years?  I  met my husband at 14 years old.  I knew the minute I saw him that I was supposed to marry him.  And when we turned 19 years old, we did get married.  The crushes I had on my girlfriends became more serious, but I never mentioned them.  They fantasies I had about women became more intense, but I never mentioned them.  I became even  more confused.  I knew I was supposed to marry Tracy.  I knew I loved him.  Yet, what do I do about these other feelings?  Who and what the heck am I?  Somewhere in there, I learned that indeed I wasn’t gay/homosexual/lesbian.  By then, my vocabulary had grown.  I was bisexual.  Talk about confusing!!!!!  Great, so I know what label to wear, but where does that leave me?  How does that reconcile with  my Christian beliefs?

I became very suicidal for a number of reasons.  I felt like I had no one to talk to.  I wanted to come out to Tracy, but what if he left me?   We were, according to my intuition, supposed to get married!  I didn’t want to screw that up!  I couldn’t tell my girlfriends; we all belonged to Baptist Schools and Assembly of God Churches, and by now and I was also attending a Seventh Day Adventist Church with my boyfriend.  There was NO WAY I could tell anyone from any of these places!  I could be expelled from school.  I was already in enough trouble with the people in the SDA church for being too affectionate and intimate with Tracy.  And my girlfriends, I thought, would feel uncomfortable undressing in the locker room when I was around if they knew (not that I was lusting after them in the locker room…I was too busy  trying to cover up my hickies from the make out session the  night before!)  I was scared with nowhere to run!  The only person I could talk to was God…and I did that all the time!  I prayed.  I read my Bible.  I asked to be normal.  I WANTED to be “normal”.  I cried myself to sleep at night while praying for God to fix me.

At the same time, I remembered a time when I was in elementary school.  I was bullied all the way through my school years…elementary through high school.  I remember feeling like a piece of trash.  And one day after praying and reading my Bible, I sat in my room and drew a picture….more of a poster really.  It said, “I’m not junk, because God don’t make junk!”  This was the message that God gave me when I was a little girl.  I am a Special Creation and I am LOVED!!!!  This is how I survived!

Finally, at 22 years old, after being married for several years and having 2 boys, I found the courage to talk to Tracy.  “Tracy, I have to tell you something.  I hope you don’t get mad.  I hope you don’t want to leave me.  But I am bisexual.”  His response?  “Martha, I could have told you that.”

I’m sure there was more conversation after that, but I don’t remember that.  I just remember feeling so loved and accepted in that moment.  He knew me (and still does) and loved me for who I was even if I wouldn’t admit who I was to myself.  He loved me for who I am long before I loved me for who I am!  My intuition, the Grace of God, that Still Knowing….it was right!  I WAS supposed to marry him!

From that point on, I only came out to a few people where I felt I was safe.  With the invention of the internet and silly role-playing games called MUD(s)…Multi User Dungeons…(kinda like Dungeons and Dragons on-line) I was able to just be myself.  It was freeing. It was anonymous for the most part, but I did make some life long friends from that silly game and they are even friends with me on Facebook now…crazy!

We left our Christian churches behind.  I knew I was made the way I am and I could NOT belong to a faith/church/dogma that said God hated me (or my actions) and that I would be sent to hell for just being me..when I KNOW (from the message I was given as a little child) that God made me just as I am and I am NOT junk!  I never let go of my spiritual faith and personal walk with God.  Finally after all of these years, my husband and I have found the perfect place for our spiritual faith and walk, and it is one that is inclusive to all walks of life: gender, orientation, religious beliefs, races, colors!  It’s a beautiful thing and EXACTLY what Jesus the Master Teacher taught about love!

Anyway at the age of  30 I started feeling the need to really live my life and be “out”.  I was out to a select group of people who were also in the LGBT community.  But I longed to be out to my every day friends who I hung out with every single day.  So, at first, I told Anne and Kim.  Our sons were in Cub Scouts together…they were in Kindergarten together…our lives intertwined.  Anne’s hubby was the Pack Master for our Cub Scouts.  She told him.  I was able to remain a Den Mom..as long as I didn’t make a big deal about it and tell the boys.  But then, when my oldest son moved to a boy scout troop and that particular troop practiced severe gay bashing, I could no longer stand by quietly and keep my boys in a program that taught them that their mom was a freak of nature.  So I wrote a letter explaining why I was pulling my boys out; I sent it to the people who needed to know (including Anne’s husband).  The next thing I knew, Anne was threatening me.  She had taken this so personally (even though her husband was NOT the one I was complaining about..he is a very good man and I totally respect him).   She threatened to out me to the principal of the elementary school our children attended.  She threatened to out me and cause a ruckus in my life and ruin my reputation at the school.  I was on the board of the Family Teacher Organization.  I was very involved in the school.  And she was going to venomously out me and cause issues in  my private life.  I was scared!

It was at that point, I felt I needed to come out to two more of my very close friends…..Beth and Annelle.  They served on the FTO board with me.  I told them EVERYTHING.  They love me…even today!  Thank you, Nell and Beth for loving me and never judging me (or if you did..for doing it quietly).  *laugh*

Shortly after the “near shoving out”, we decided that it would be better if we moved to Idaho.  My husband had a job opportunity here, and I felt like I could use the fresh start without having to look over my back all the time.  I wanted to live my life as “out”.  We moved here, and I immediately got involved with the LGBT community here.  The problem is, I am still bisexual.  Bisexuals not only get grief from the  straight, closed-minded people; but sometimes they also get it from inside their own community.  Sometimes homosexuals don’t like or accept us because they feel as if we just don’t know what we want and are just confused..we are just straight people playing around…or gays who don’t know it yet.  Yea….not so much!  After being shunned by my own community, I went back in the closet (for the most part).  I went back to feeling alone…even from within my own community.

Eventually, I got over all of this.  I was even given an award by The Community Center (the LGBT community hub I looked to when I first moved here) for being a good example of the LGBT life and my community service!  I received the award during Pride week!  FINALLY, I was being recognized  and ACCEPTED for who and what I am…and being awarded for it!!  I AM OUT!!!!!!

This year, in the after shock of 12 gay young men committing suicide because they could not stand the bullying brought on by their orientation, I am stepping up in a very public way.  I am coming out on Facebook and in my blog.  I am standing up and coming out for these 12 young men who couldn’t come out and stand up for themselves.  I am coming out and standing up for all those who are still in the closet, afraid for their lives, afraid of the rejection, afraid of the religious god-fearing haters who would tell them they are hell-bound sinners.  I am coming out LOUD and PROUD for all of those people being bullied..whether by children or adults, by the straight or the gay community…I am standing up for them!

I want those who are still hiding in their closets peeking out from behind the cracked door to know that it is okay.  It is more than possible to come out and do more than just survive out here!  Sure, there are still some haters out there, but things are so much better than they used to be.  There is a community out here that loves and supports you.  Please, if you are feeling scared and bullied, reach out to those of us who have been there..we are here for you.  We love you and want to support you.  There are so many resources for you.  You are NOT alone!

For more information and support, please check YouTube for “It Gets Better” project http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcVyvg2Qlo   and The Trevor Project http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

This is a picture of my 17 year old son Nate and I at the 2010 Boise Pride Parade!

This is me right after I was awarded the Willow Award from The Community Center…a Community Service Award given to a person of the LGBT community.

This is me and my amazing hubby, Tracy!  He loves me just the way I am!

I have read hundreds of books in my life, and there are very few (thus far) that I believe can totally change your life..or at least have changed mine!  This book has done that!  It explains so much!

It is written by the founder of the Religious Science faith, Ernest Holmes.  His writing is definitely old-fashioned, which simply means it is written for college level reading.  Now a days, books are written for a 3rd-8th grade reading level.  Getting used to reading his books takes some time.  Once you do, you are in for a pleasurable and life-changing read!!!

I believe thoughts are things and they create our life.  That is a very simplistic way to describe what I feel and believe.  Based on this, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I have created the knee pain that I am feeling in my left knee.  How do I know this?  Well, as soon as I felt the slightest “negative difference” in my knee, I started to focus on it.  Then when I felt a pain, I focused even more on that pain.  Soon enough it was bad enough and not going away; I had to stop skating and see a physical therapist and a sports medicine doctor.  Surgery has even been brought up.  Great!   So, I have been wondering, “If my thoughts create my life, then how the heck do I *change* my thinking and reverse this seemingly physical imperfection?”

I found the answer in this book!  Seriously, I did!  I wasn’t even looking for it!  Let’s keep in mind, though, that once you ask the Universe/God/Creator/Source a question, It has to answer.  And it did!

You might be wondering why I picked up this book in the first place?  No; it has nothing to do with the title of the book, though I do love the title!  I am taking Science of Mind II class at church.  It is a required class to become a lay minister/practitioner in the Religious Science faith.  This is one of my dreams/goals :).  This book is one of my text books for the class.

I have only taken one week of the 10 week course, and we were only required to read 2 chapters of the book so far.  However, like all other books, once I start reading, I need to read all the way through so I can blog.  Besides the fact, it was a fascinating read!!!!

In Religious Science our prayer is called Spiritual Mind Treatment.  In Science of Mind II, we are focusing on daily spiritual practices which include prayer and meditation.  This book is all about that!  Prayer!!!!!!!!!  Ever since I was a little girl, I have prayed daily.  The difference between then and now is I no longer pray to a God up in the sky and ask him to do something for me.  I now pray an affirmative prayer realizing that God is not up in the sky somewhere, but right here and everywhere and I am part of God.  My prayers are realizations of the perfection in my (and others’) life that has been covered up by some limited belief I have held on to or created….usually brought on by some sort of fear.

Once again, I have gone through and underlined passages that spoke to me, and I found myself dog-earring most of the pages.  (Not helpful for blogging.)  I will tell you that chapter 2 is my favorite chapter in this book!  I kept underlining passages and writing notes beside them like “This is a great passage for Nick!” (Nick is my 21-year-old son.)  Here is an example of that, “Science of Mind and Spirit bears the same relation to religion that natural science bears to the laws of nature.  It is a science of mental and spiritual phenomena, and, as such, it appeals to adherents of all religious beliefs, as well as to those who have no particular religions conviction; it appeals to all students of life.”  My son, Nick, loves to study the different religious beliefs out there; he believes in science and questions the reality of a god.  This particular chapter discusses the marriage of religious faith and science :).  Here is another great quote from this chapter:  “The birth of spiritual ides into the human consciousness meets with three distinct reactions:  the orthodox say that God never intended such things to be, else He would have revealed them through His prophets; the materialist laughs at them; the child-like are receptive.”  This simply reminds us that Christ said in Luke 18:16, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

There really are some great thoughts in this book, and I have sooooooo many notes referring to some of my marriage challenges, my knee challenges, prayer, how your thoughts create your life…so much more.  So I will leave you with two more thoughts from this book…one is from the very beginning of the book and the next from close to the end…..

This particular thought was very appropriate to the title of this blog “The God Project”…

“But we must not go searching after God.  God is in you and in me.  therefore we each must penetrate more deeply into our own nature, and just so surely as we do, we will have a very marvelous experience.  We will find a dept to ourself that we have never realized.”     This has certainly been true of this blog and what I have experienced through this deep soul-searching through pages and pages of books and the opportunities I have experienced!

“If God is in every place there can be no place where God is not.  So in the midst of the storm there is a calm; in the center of every person’s life is pure Spirit.”  This was pure bliss to me!

Peace and blessings, My Dear Readers.  Peace and blessings!

Let me just say that I think I am in love with Christopher Moore’s writing!  When a friend of mine first suggested I read some of his books, I had my doubts.  Can a writer really be THAT good?  I have since discovered, that “Yes, Virginia, a writer can be that good!”  He can be serious and witty all at the same time.  His writing sucks you in and will make you want to sit in one place until you are done reading the book.  THEN…you will want to rush out and buy another one of his books!

I seriously think that if you are in a bummer of a mood, then you should just pick up one of his books and settle in for a good laugh.  They will certainly lift your mood :).

So…Lamb, The Gospel According To Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.  Really?  Christ had a childhood pal?  Who’dathunk?  In all of my Bible school classes, I never even thought about Jesus having a regular childhood filled with the joys, pranks, and heart breaks of a regular child.  But why not?  I  mean, in church we were told that Jesus was sent here to earth to live a regular life and be the example of what a perfect sinless life would look like, right?  So in order to do that, wouldn’t he need to have friends/relationships that would tempt him?  Maybe that was Moore’s inspiration when he wrote this book.  I have no idea, but I do know that this book was amazingly funny and insightful.

At the very back of the book, there is a section that is almost a disclaimer i.e. “The names and identifications of the people in this story are fictional but the story is based on truth.”  Okay, that is not what this says, but you get the idea.  Moore does say that he didn’t write this to change your mind on what you believe, but if you do..well then…that’s up to you.  He does say that no one really knows what happened to Jesus  when he disappeared at the age of 10 or so, and that is what Moore says happened is his story.  He did borrow from other religious beliefs and from some of the stories of the Bible.  And from what I know from my studies, he did a great job!  In my opinion, this book while not meant to change our thinking or to prove a point did have some very profound statements and quotes and did make me think a bit about things.

On page 10 of the book, I found one of my most favorite quotes, “Children see magic because they look for it.”  From my studies in Wicca and just from my observations from raising 3 children, I know this to be true.  Children believe in the impossible and are fearless because that is the way we are inherently created.  It isn’t until an adult tells them otherwise, that they stop believing in magic and start becoming afraid of things!  Now think about the Miracles Jesus is said to have done and think about him as a child learning to perform these miracles.  What do you think his friends thought about that?  Then think about the way the ADULTS in the Bible stories reacted to these things….”IMPOSSIBLE!”  If we could only live and see life through the eyes of children!

On a personal level, one of the funniest thoughts/arguments in this book was whether or not Jews should eat Bacon.  When I was younger, I belonged to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and they ate much like the Jewish people (minus the Kosher part).  We ate only “clean” foods which meant no pork.  So I gave up eating pork  for a couple of decades.  In Lamb, there is a conversation about different types of sin where Joshua (Jesus) basically said that God had a change of heart and we are allowed to eat pork but all other sins like adultery, stealing, lying, killing…..those were all still wrong.  I just thought this was funny.  This subject is mentioned a couple of times in the book, and each time I just got a huge chuckle out of it!  If you were one of those  people raised to believe this way, I’m sure you will get a chuckle too :).

Then there is the serious side of this book.  A big chunk of this book tells the story of what happened when Joshua disappeared between the ages of 10-30.  I don’t know about you, but I have heard different things, like he went to Egypt to learn the Mysteries there.  I guess Moore heard these stories too, because he takes Joshua on a journey to learn how to become the Messiah, and on this journey he studies with different people.  And this is where some of the seriousness takes place.

“The three jewels of the Tao:  compassion, moderation, and humility.  Balthasar said compassion leads to courage, moderation leads to generosity, and humility leads to leadership.”  This isn’t the first time I have heard that to be a good leader you must be humble.  Actually, I had just heard a speaker during a leadership meeting for Junior League say the exact same thing!

Here is another one of the passages I loved:

“What does the Tao value above all else?”….”inaction.  Contemplation.  Steadiness.  Conservatism.  A wall is the defense of a country that values inaction.  But a wall imprisons the people of a country as much as it protects them.  That’s why Balthasar had us go this way.  He wanted me to see the error in the Tao.  ‘One can’t be free without action.'”…”The compassion, humility, and moderation of the Tao, these are the qualities of a righteous man, but not inaction.”……

“Confucius is like the Torah, rules to follow.  And Lao-tzu is even more conservative, saying that if you do nothing you won’t break any rules.  You have to let tradition fall sometime, you have to take action, you have to eat bacon.”……

“Change,” Joshua said.  “A Messiah has to bring change.  Change comes through action.  Balthasar once said to me, ‘There’s no such thing as a conservative hero.’ ”

He’s right.  I can’t think of one Hero that was conservative.  To be a Hero you must take radical change.  Go against the grain.  Take chances.  Takes risks.  Break the mold!  Even let traditions fall….You have to realize that sometimes rules or agreements or whatever are created for a good reason BACK THEN, but that doesn’t mean that those reasons still stand.  Once we realize that something is “wrong” or not sitting well, it’s time to take a good look at why we do those things and really consider whether those decisions are still serving us.  If they are not, then make the change…even if it means ruffling a few feathers.  For that matter, on a very personal level, be your own Hero!  What in your life isn’t serving you?  Where are you just coasting by doing the same old things living the same old way and know that it’s not serving you?  Take a risk today to do something different and make your life better!  Stop being “conservative” and live your life OUT LOUD!!!!  EAT SOME BACON!!!!

Here’s another great thought and passage:

How many times have you heard this from someone in your life…..”If you already know everything, then how will I be able to teach you?  You must empty your cup before I can give you tea.”  LOL.  Right now I am taking a class called Science of Mind at my church.  And Rev. Jackie (our teacher) told us to take everything we ever learned in Sunday school or in other churches or other religious beliefs and forget about it for the next 10 weeks.  You can’t learn something, if you already know everything.  Then once you have gone through this class and have completed it, forget about it and get out there and start living!

“When you sit, sit.  When you breathe, breathe.  When you eat, eat.”….”Without the past, where is guilt?  And without the future, where is the dread?  And without guilt and dread, who am I?”  So many of my own spiritual teachers and even the books I have blogged about in this blog have said the same thing……..

Here is another thought that mirrored what I think and what I have been learning in my Science of Mind class:

“Love they neighbor as thou lovest thyself”….”for he is thee, and thou art he, and everything that is ever worth loving is everything.”  In other words, God is everything!

This thought just made me laugh:  “It’s very difficult to stay angry when a room full of bald guys in orange robes start giggling.  Buddhism”

A thought on compassion, and it describes the way I feel most of the time, “He loved constantly, instantly, spontaneously, without thought or words.  That’s what he taught me.  Love is not something you think about, it is a state in which you dwell.”  I  just thought that was a beautiful sentiment and description of the way we should all live our lives.  I know so many people who live their lives this way, and let me tell you from personal experience…..It is bliss.

There are so many great laughs and profound statements between the covers of this book.  But I will leave you with one last one, “What I am, is in you all.  the Divine Spark, The Holy Ghost, it unites you all.  It is the God that is in you all.”

One more thing before I end this blog.  There are alot of great nuggets of wisdom in this book.  These nuggets come from a few different spiritual traditions.  If you decide to pick up this book and read it, please realize that this is not supposed to be a true story and it is not supposed to be taken seriously!  It is satire, people!  With all of the wonderful insights I found in this book, you will find even more sex, scandal and plain silliness!  If you are easily offended, this may not be the book for you.  And if you don’t take yourself or your spiritual beliefs too seriously and you have a sense of humor about life, then by all  means, pick up this book and get ready for a great time!!!

I picked up this easy to read 135 page book when I went to see His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar while he was here in Boise.  Until recently, I had never even heard of him but all of a sudden, I have seen him twice in 2 days (1st a major public appearance and 2nd at a private gathering at my church) and now I have read just one of his books.  When I went to the resource table at the big event, I looked around at all the books and all the cd’s that were there.  The title of this book is why I ultimately chose the book.  I can always use a little more fun in my life.

This book touches on the topics of fun, true intimacy, the four approaches to practical and spiritual life, real laughter, dealing with feelings, the nature of God and being a fool.  When I picked up the book to check it out, I noticed these topics and thought, “Wow!  This should be a fun read…..fun, laughter, being a fool!  That’s right up my alley!”

I have to say that when I started reading the book, I kept hearing Sri Sri’s voice as if he was saying it to me instead of me reading it.  It made reading this book so much more fun.  I saw his gentle smile and heard his laughter in the words he wrote.  I saw the mischievous look in his eyes when he cracked the jokes.  It really did make this book that much more enjoyable.  But even without that first hand experience with Sri Sri, the book is a very easy and enjoyable read.  It does get into some very deep thinking, and I did have to re-read things on several occasions.  This is definitely a book that will need to be read a couple of times.  Good thing it only takes a couple of hours to read to begin with!

So what did I learn?  It is more about what I re-learned.  I take things too seriously.  Reading this book just reminds me of that.

  • I learned that God loves fools and that being foolish is really being more like God than being this serious person is.  The chapter on being a fool was very enlightening!
  • I learned more about laughter!  I have taken laughter yoga classes, and this just reiterated what I learned from those classes.
  • He also talked about observing our feelings; this is something I was working on in therapy.  This is also something I read about in Geneen Roth’s book.  So here I go again, re-learning it in this book.  Being mindful of my feelings, allowing myself to feel them, and then let go.  Sri Sri suggests taking the feeling to its height (which may mean feeling at your lowest) and once you have done that, you have  felt and experienced all there is to feel with that feeling and it will just disappear.  How cool is that?  He says to feel it, but not to act on it.
  • Stop paying attention to happenings.  When we are attached to happenings, we create opinions, then we are stuck and attached to them.  We are living in the past and we will never remain open to new experiences and live in NOW.
  • “An enlightened person may not say, “I love you so much.”  In the very presence, you can feel the love.  In the very breath, you can experience love.  In the very look, you can experience love.  In any word spoken, you will hear that it is full of love.  The very existence is love.  That is enlightened love.”
  • “True intimacy is not in a hurry; it’s not anxious.  It relaxes, it knows.”
  • I am you.  You are me.  We are God.  We are all one creation/mind manifesting itself in different bodies.  This brings a whole new depth to the belief that we are One.  The book explains it so beautifully :).
  • In most of our problems, the biggest issue we have is the fight we have with our mind.  This is so true.  When I am miserable or depressed or stressed, it is because of an issue/conflict I am having within my mind.  It is MY experience, my THINKING that is causing me so much distress.  Sri Sri talks about letting go and surrendering.  and Forgiving myself.
  • This is one of my favorite paragraphs in the book:  “Thinking is like chewing gum.  It doesn’t produce anything.  You can think about only those things which you know.  and once you know, what is the need to  think about it?  And you can’t think something which you don’t know.  How can you?  It is not possible.  Ultimately, thinking is useless!!!”
  • Here is a great strategy for life:  “See life as a game, as a play.  You are God, you know it.  I am God, I know it.  So let us play. And when you come from that level of consciousness, there is nothing to teach.  Only being.  Come and sit, be with me for a while.  That is enough, for you and I are one.  This is love,  isn’t it?  That is what God is telling you every day, ‘I am doing everything.  You come and sit with me.  Whatever needs to be done, I will get it done through you.  You simply stop existing.'”  I know I am guilty of taking life too seriously..always looking for a connection to God..always learning..always searching.  It’s what I do.  Yet, I have found recently that all I want to do is do things that make me smile, feel joy and live.  I find myself wanting to PLAY and be joyful.  Not only am I WANTING to do this but I AM DOING this.  It’s pretty darn cool!

I will close with this last quote found in the chapter about being a fool.  “George Bernard Shaw said somewhere, ‘Cricket is a game where eleven fools play and eleven thousand watch.’  It is true.  All games are foolish acts.  A game is a game because it is foolish.  If you find meaning, purpose, aim and competition, you destroy the whole game.”  How about we just stop looking for the meaning of life, and just in-joy it!  Have fun!  Play!  Laugh!  And just BE!

“Your well-being is reachable, for its maximal potentiality has never left you.  You have simply forgotten where it lay.”  This quote can be found toward the end of Hanle’s book, but it states very simply what can be found in the pages of her book.

Last summer when I started on my weight loss journey (for the umpteenth time) I decided that I really needed to see a therapist.  I have done the yo-yo dieting since my teenage years.  I have done so much spiritual studying.  I knew that this wasn’t just a matter of the scientific method of eat fewer calories than I am expending.  My up and down weight issues are the result of something deeper.  Therapy worked to a degree.  I learned alot.  But there is still so much more to learn.  It was a great starting point.  This Blog project picks up where it left off.  And then this book comes my way.  This book talks exactly about what I have been feeling.  It takes the reader on a journey of awareness to the realization that our thoughts create our reality.  Yes, that means that our thoughts have created our obesity!  MY THOUGHTS HAVE CREATED MY OBESITY!  In the very last chapter she actually states that “obesity is a choice”.  It  may be an unconscious choice, but it is a choice I have chosen none the less.  Once we have this awareness, we can now begin to get to the root of the issue and change our perceptions!  Fantastic!

Hanle admits “this book will surely challenge everything you  have heard or read about weight loss.”  Well isn’t it about time that something/somebody does that?  Look around, America, obesity rates in adults and children are on the rise.  With all the diets, all the gyms, all the resources in this free country, we are STILL getting bigger and bigger.  What’s the definition of insanity?  Well it’s about time we start doing and thinking things differently!

Beyond Fitness contends that to really start changing our lives and living healthier lifestyles, we must first understand 4 Universal Principles.

  • The Core Thought Principle:  the beliefs on which we make our choices.  There are only 2: Love or Fear.  If all of our choices are coming from a Self belief of Love, then our choices will be healthy (physically and emotionally).  If our choices come from a Self belief of Fear, then the result will likely manifest in health issues such as being over weight.
  • The Cause and Effect Principle:  “Choices create actions.  Actions create reactions.  Actions and reactions are consequences.  Desiring another consequence implies choosing differently.  choosing differently implies creating new possibilities of thinking.”  This section also talks about how addictions are created and you really start to see how the yo-yo dieting is perpetuated by your thoughts (or at least I did).  I also started to see that I have to really take responsibility for my own actions.  I can’t blame my parents for this.  I can’t blame anything or anyone for this.  What I do and what I see are direct effects to the actions to make based on my beliefs.
  • The Common Denominator law:  Many of us tend to live our lives in victimhood.  Why do I always end up with a broken heart?  Why do I always get involved with the “bad boy”?  Why is it that these diets just never work?  So take a look at your failed relationships (whether romantic or platonic) and take a look at your diets.  What has been the “common denominator” in all of them.  YOU.  Or when I look at myself…”ME”.  It’s not the relationships that fail me or the diets that fail me.  Its ME that fails me.    “What happens to you belong to you.  You are either the unconscious or the conscious creator of your perceptual reality.  Nobody can claim this ownership and no one can undo what you  have done.  So, embrace your creative power and start to make the changes in your Life that will make each of your days a blessing……Be the one who makes the difference in your life the one who makes the difference in other people’s lives.  Let your example of courage inspire others on the same path.  Be this someone who experiences a Life that is free of the burden of misery.  this existence that we all deserve is success, and peace will lie within.”
  • The Impermanency Law:  Life is fluid and always changing.  NOTHING stays the same.  We can choose to follow the flow of the current evolution.  We can decide that we like what we see right now and continue to make the same choices every single day that perpetuate the state of living that we are living now…OR..we can decide to make a difference choice that completely changes the path of our own evolution.  Which would you rather?  “Life, in some ways, repeats itself, as long as the need for understanding remains.  but a wider consciousness can lead our hope for happiness to a great level, by opening doors to a multitude of possibilities we previously feared.”  When I read this section of the book, I thought about the cycle of physical, emotional, sexual abuse in my family.  I decided when I found out that I was pregnant with my first child that I would break this cycle of abuse.  Well my family also has a cycle of obesity; and I have decided to break that as well.  Plain and simple.  What kind of life do you choose to live?  What in your life needs to change in order for you to live the life of your dreams?

This book also comes with a practical guide to help change your beliefs.  This process is called the F.A.C.T. Factor Strategy:  Forgiveness, Attitude, Courage, Time.  Hanle suggests that you read through the book before doing the exercises she gives you…so that is what I have done.   In this section of the book, there are numerous deep thoughts and amazing quotes, and I will leave you on your own to discover them for yourself.  They will mean more to you that way :).

“The energy we use to create our Life can not be destroyed, but its movement can be redirected.” In her chapter called “The Modus Operandi of Empowerment” she shares with her readers all of the things/beliefs she felt were important for her own weight loss journey:  Faith, Visualization, Affirmations, Repetitions, Prayers, Synchronicity/Coincidence, Curiosity, Meditation, Finding a Mentor, Relaxation, Discipline, Water Intake, Breathing, Muscles, Flexibility, Food Intake, and Books.  (BTW…I LOVE her list of suggested reading :))

Hanle also talked about the power of your words.  This is the same kind of concept as discussed in The 4 Agreements.  Your words are how you create your world.  Be careful with them.  Mean what you say and say what you mean.

When she talks about the differences between creation and limitation, her words created a beautiful vision for me, and I would like to share that with you.  “Fully express your self by being free of limited paradigms and limited perceptions.  the beauty of our reality lies in its impermanency and its endless possibilities.  reveal the limitless resources within by setting its boundaries out of sight.  Empower your very center and build your body like a cathedral.  Be your own architect and design the temple you foresee.  Enjoy the journey.”

She ends her book by talking about our future…..our children.  Let us not pass on our own fears and insecurities to our children.  Let’s leave them a legacy of  physical and emotional health.  Let’s break the cycle of Obesity in America!  It starts NOW.  It starts with you and me!

There are so many great quotes and thoughts in this book.  I swear Hanle was writing my life story in her book!  It truly spoke to my heart.  (Is it  just me, or do I say that about all the books I blog about. *laugh*)  She continuously says that this book is filled with Truths, not THE truth by A truth. You get to decide if it’s Truth for you. As for me, it is absolutely Truth.

All of my life, I have either been over weight for FELT like I was over weight.  Why?  Because my mom told me I was fat.  My dad told me I was fat.  My brothers told me I was fat. And the kids at school told me I was fat.  When I look back at my high school pictures, I see a completely different story; I was gorgeous!!!!  I have spent my entire life believing this story.  Which means I have spent my entire life (from time I became a teenager to now…at nearly 41 years old) on some kind of diet or thinking about being on a diet or thinking about how fat I am or that I would feel so much better if I was thinner.  I would say that I became conscious of my body shape and size at the age of 5; 36 years is a very long time to not like yourself/body image, don’t you think?

To try to change things I have been on numerous diets.  As a teenager, I would take dexatrim like it was candy.  I would binge eat then exercise like crazy to work it off (exercise bulimia).  As an adult, it started with “Medical Weight Loss Plan”.  I lost 60 pounds on that, I think.  Then I joined Jenny Craig; didn’t do so well with that one.  Then I took Phen/Fen; thankfully my heart was unaffected.  Then I tried just the “good” part of the Phen/Fen; that didn’t work at all.  Then I did Weight Watchers…..twice.  Then I just did my own thing; eating healthy and exercising; it worked great.  I even saw a therapist.  I felt great.  I even became a Beachbody Coach and started selling workout systems and coaching other people.  Yet, I gave up the eating healthy part and even my exercise routine has dropped.  I have gained back 10 of the 40# that I have lost.  Now what?????

This is where the email from Oprah came in.  She suggested everyone read Women Food and God.  Now I’m not one of those people who drops everything and does what Oprah says to do.  But this one intrigued me.  Probably because I was already on my 52 books in 52 weeks journey; and this book sounded interesting.  Besides, it might actually help, right?  So I ordered it…..

I have to be honest and say that before I started reading the book I felt pretty jaded.  What is a book going to say to make that much of a difference in my eating/weight issues?  I have been through almost every diet out there; at least every type anyway…except surgery (and that is only because that scares the heck out of me).  But I read it anyway…  And what I found was spot on!  This book is such a worthwhile read.  It’s not just for those of us with weight/food issues.  It talks about Compulsive eating, but I think this book would help anyone with any kind of compulsive behavior like smoking or drinking.

“Compulsive eating is an attempt to avoid the absence (of love, comfort, knowing what to do) when we find ourselves in the desert of a particular  moment, feeling, situation.”

One of the biggest concepts this book talks about is “Bolting”.   “Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron writes, ‘Never underestimate the inclination to bolt.'”   Bolting; this is something (I realize now) that I  have learned from my father.  Whenever the going got tough, he ran.  He ran from churches, from places of employment, and from his emotions.  Me?  I have bolted from friendships, emotions, and sometimes even volunteer work.  When things don’t go my way, I have been known to throw a temper tantrum and run.  How does this pertain to food?  Well, when things go bad, I like to eat..and eat alot!  This is “bolting”.  It’s the way we run from our emotions or “stuff” them as some people say.  Instead of staying present and feeling what we feel, we “bolt”.  This was a huge Ah-ha moment for me.  I have done this alot in so many ways.  But it stops here!

Like I said, I have done alot of diets..some were very successful it helping me lose weight.  But it has never been about the weight; well okay part of it is.  Mostly its about what caused me to put on the weight, until I could figure that one out and go from there, I would also put the weight back on.  Figuring out that I use Bolting to “protect” me is a big step in figuring out why I eat the way I do.  “Saying where you are with what you are feeling or seeing or sensing is the first step in ending the obsession with food.”  Yes, indeed it is.  “Staying requires awareness of the desire to bolt.  Staying requires being curious about who you actually are when you don’t take yourself to be a collection of memories….When you stay,….anything becomes possible.  Even living through the extraordinary pain.”

Roth says it’s not about the weight.  We spend so much time in what she calls the “When I Get Thin (Change Jobs, Move, Find a Relationship, Leave This Relationship, Have Money) Blues”.   We wait for something before we start living our lives.  I am so guilty of this.  I say, “When I get down to my perfect size, I’m going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.”  Well you know what?  I can do that now.  Sure, I will pay a bit more, but I can do it now!  I don’t have to wait!  What does jumping out of a perfectly good airplane represent to me?  Freedom. When I say I will do it when I lose my weight, I am saying that I am STUCK.  Well I’m not stuck, and what a horrible story to tell myself.  My weight may make it uncomfortable to do things, but it certainly isn’t going to stop me from  living a full life!  And it shouldn’t stop you!  Yes, get healthy!  Yes, use food as nutrition to fuel your body.  But STOP putting things off until you get to whatever it is you think you want to get to.  This kind of thinking has you believing that you are not worthy of your dreams right NOW…and You are..I am.. WE ARE!!!  Start living today..stop waiting for that perfect time.  If we can start living today, the rest will catch up!

I loved this quote; “Because until you understand who you take yourself to be, true change is not possible.”….”The shape of your body obeys the shape of your beliefs about love, value, possibility.  To change your body, you must first understand that which is shaping it.  Not fight it, Not force it.  not deprive it.  Not same it.  Not do anything but accept–and, yes, Virginia–understand it.”

This is what I was saying earlier.  Until we understand who we are and what shapes our beliefs, our body will not change.  We need to understand what is making us run, hide, stuff and eat compulsively.  The same can be said for alcohol, drugs, smoking……..  “Truth, not force, does the word of ending compulsive eating.”  We can’t force it with a strict diet, by counting points, by eating premade frozen meals, by taking shots, or swallowing pills.  We must find the truth..by being curious, by inquiry.  Asking ourselves, why we feel like eating.  What is that food going to “fill”.  Where in our body are we feeling?  What does it feel like?  What color is it?  Once we can recognize this, give it a name and sit with it in truth instead of trying to run from it or stuff it, we will realize that it’s not going to kill us..and guess what..we don’t want to eat anymore!

Just when you think you don’t want to feel those things that hurt, comes this quote from Roth: “the medicine for the pain is the pain.”  Last weekend, when I did a Firewalk, I heard myself say, “you need to feel the pain.”  So I let myself feel the hot coals beneath my feet.  Walking fire can be “easy” and painless, or you can choose to make it  hard and or feel the pain.  I chose to make it easy AND feel the pain?  Why?  Because I need to feel the pain in my own life.  I need to recognize when I feel sad, lonely, hurt and FEEL it instead of stuffing or bolting from it.

One of the ideas in this book also blended well with The Fifth Agreement by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Ruiz says to listen and be skeptical.  He was talking about doing this with others, but you should also do it with yourself.  According to Ruiz, we have been “domesticated” from the time we were children.  It was important to be thus so that we could learn not to put our hand on a hot stove.  We were domesticated for our own safety.  But these teachings also went further than this.  These teachings also taught us who we think we are based on someone elses’ perceptions of who they think we are.  Roth suggests the same kind of thing with the practice of Inquiry.  Be still and listen..be curious..ask..but don’t believe everything you hear.  Remember that what your mind tells you is what you have learned from the past..from other people..  Inquiry is body based.  What is the Body feeling..not the mind.  Listen..and be skeptical.

Roth calls this banter inside our heads “The Voice” (what Ruiz calls domestication).  The Voice has been running our lives.  Telling us that we are fat, our thighs have too much cellulite, we are quitters, we are losers..yadda yadda yadda.  Those are lies!  We are so much more than that.  We are the very essence of GOD; we are LOVE and JOY.  When The Voice talks, tell it to shut the heck up!  And get back to feeling what you feel in your body.

Another practice Roth suggested in this book is to meditate…..ON YOUR BELLY.  Think about what you belly feels like.  Now I know that as women, we try very hard NOT to think about our bellies..  But if I told you NOT to think about your belly, what is the first thing you think about?  YOUR BELLY!  So instead of pretending not to think about it, embrace it.  Your belly is your place of personal power.  It is your 3rd Chankra..your solar plexus.  This is what balances you and gives you power to speak your truth.  You NEED to focus on it, and love it and listen to it.  It is where you intuition resides.  It is an amazing part of your body, and by ignoring it, you are mistreating  it and yourself.  You deserve better than that :).

There is so much more to this book than what I have typed, and I have typed ALOT!  She goes on to talk about whether you are a Restrictor or Permitter when it comes to food (or even life).  She goes on to talk about the Sufi’s 3 ways to God and how that pertains to our eating.  And she gives us her Guidelines for eating, remember that you can eat anything you want and still get to your NATURAL weight.  To learn more about these, you will want to read for yourself.  I just can’t do it justice.  But I will leave you with a couple of quotes…..

“Bliss occurs by arriving where you are.  When we are not reconstructing the past in every nanosecond, what is here is so satisfying, so loving, so unbelievably simple that once tasted, it changes everything.  because then you know what’s possible and you refuse to settle for anything less.”

“There is nothing like having chocolate cake three inches away to reveal your fear of chaos or your desire to melt into it.”

“Once ou realize that it’s possible to feel good by not eating certain things and including others instead, the compulsion begins to fall away because you’ve found something better:  getting your life back.”

So earlier this week, my friend Forrest posted a link on Facebook about a Firewalk that Wytomi, The Elk Shaman, would be holding on Friday night (last night).  As you might recall from my profile here or my first post, that Firewalking was definitely on my “to do list”.  Knowing this, you would think that I would JUMP at the opportunity.  Ya, I thought so too, but I was wrong.  I found all sorts of reasons/excuses NOT to go.  I don’t have enough money.  I am suppose to go snowboarding the next day, and what if my feet are blistered?  I am suppose to go out dancing the next day, and my feet are blistered.    Then Friday morning, Forrest, had replied to 2 of my Facebook statuses (that had nothing to do with Firewalking) about the Firewalking, and he replied to one of my friends’ facebook statuses (that again had nothing to do with Firewalking) about the Firewalk.  As I was complaining about this to  my husband, he simply said: “Martha, you need to go.  Call Wytomi and make financial arrangements.”  I did; then I found myself crying from fear.

All day, I was a bit worried about this.  Walking on fire.. HOT HOT coals… the possibility of blistering one’s feet while walking across something hot enough to cook a steak on is quite real!  I know I have been told its a “mind over matter thing”, but what the mind knows and what it feels are different things.  Of course, that is why people do these kinds of exercises…to get over the blocks that keep you from living the life you want.  So okay, I went through the day working through things.  My mind still came up with reasons not to go, but my heart kept coming back with reasons TO go.

I have to tell you that I started reading a book Thursday night called Women Food and God.  Yesterday, I got to a chapter that talks about “Bolting” .  “Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron writes, ‘Never underestimate the inclination to bolt.'”  Let me tell you, that if ever I had an inclination to “bolt” it was yesterday!  Not only did I feel this way all day, but as I was driving there, the traffic on the highway was horrible.  I was going to be late for the 7pm start time.  I kept telling myself, “I don’t want to disturb anyone by arriving late; I should just turn around and go home.”  I was following the directions on my iPhone, and I have to admit to being a bit scared of driving out there.  The Firewalk was on a farm out in the middle of nowhere with country/dessert roads that twist and turn and have a propensity for getting people lost!  When I drove by the place where this farm was suppose to be, I watched the dot on my iphone directions passing the place I was suppose to be…yet I didn’t see the farm or the house or the dirt road I was suppose to turn on.  I was RIGHT THERE!  It was 7:05pm.  I kept telling myself, “You can’t find it. You are late.  Just turn around and tell them you couldn’t find the place.”  Finally, I looked out into the distance, and I saw an old farm house with lots of cars out front.  Sure enough, it was the right place!  Okay, so I won this battle!  I didn’t bolt!  In the book, it talks about Bolting as being one of the roots to compulsive eating.  We bolt by eating food to avoid whatever it is we need to feel.  But by staying, we allow ourselves to feel, listen and grow.   When I was reading the book, I “understood” the way you understand book knowledge.  But by the time I found this farm house, my friends, and completed the Firewalk, I had a completely different understanding of the term bolt and what it means to stay!

The farm was beautiful.  It was right on bank of the Snake River.  It had a sweatlodge, a medicine wheel, a tepee, and regular fire pit, another meditation/teaching spot, and a big pit that is perfect for Firewalking.  Randy is the owner of this beautiful farm turned spiritual retreat.  As soon as I stepped out of my car, I felt the healing energy wash over me.  I knew I was suppose to be here.  I greeted my new and old friends with hugs.  I was among people who loved me whether they knew me or not.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Randy(the owner of the property) building what I thought would be the fire that would create the coals for us to walk on, but I couldn’t figure out how that was suppose to work.  I was wrong……

THIS is the pit and the stack of wood that will be lit up for the Firewalk 🙂

The Buddah just outside the medicine wheel

The Medicine Wheel

The tepee

And the sun sets as the transformation and the real work begins….

Now that the sun was setting, it was time to really start this thing. Wytomi walked us to the Firewalking pit and began to lead us in a meditation of sorts.  It wasn’t the kind of “sit on your butt cross legged and be quiet” kind of meditation.  It was more of a storyline that we followed. The drum began to beat, and 2 of the men lit the big fire that would later become our coals.  It got HOT.  We were there to set an intention, find a purpose and use this walk to really set it out there and bring it to fruition.  So what was MY purpose?  What did I want?  Wytomi sent us out into the corn fields to listen and find out.  I went.  And I found I couldn’t get the heck out of my head.  It was like I “knew” this already.  I was fighting it.  I wanted to have “all the right answers”.  I wanted to be able to go back to the pit with all the right answers and be the “star pupil”. (This “star pupil” mentality came from working with James Arthur Ray…afraid of his wrath if I didn’t play full on and do what he thought was right….more Ah-ha moments and healing for me.) I found myself shouting at myself, “Oh my god! What is wrong with me!  Get out of your head, Martha!  Let Go! Stop fighting.  Stop bolting!”  I sat down on the previously harvested stalks of corn and finally quieted my mind.  The same ol’ stuff just kept coming….”Lose weight, get healthy, transform the world, community centers for youth…..”  This is just great.  I felt like these were “old stand-bys” and not genuine goals or purposes.  I was judging my thoughts.  Can’t get out of my head.  It was time to rejoin everyone at the fire…..

Wytomi, the Elk Shaman, by the Fire

Standing close to the fire but lined up against the cement walls in 2 lines facing each other.  Wytomi goes into what we will do next and he starts talking about transformation.  Honestly, truthfully, I can’t remember what he said.  I remember him asking if we all had our intention, and I thought to myself, “Shit!  What am I gonna do?  I don’t have mine.”  Then all of a sudden, there it was..clear as day!  “Transform myself so that I may help others transform”.  That was it..I felt it in the marrow of my bones.  Great..now I can go on with this exercise and support the others in their intentions.  What happened next was a very intimate, loving exercise of support for the my fellow walkers.  It was beautiful, and I cried.  (big shock there, huh?)

We stood closer to the fire..She was HOT HOT HOT!  Flames were jumping high..15 or 20 feet!  She was beautiful.  There was more meditation, then Wytomi sent us back out to the fields to find the animal guide that would help us walk this Fire.  We would not be walking this Fire alone.  I left the pit and didn’t get very far into the fields (like maybe 5 feet from the pit) when it came to me.  There was no questioning it.  Hawk would be my guide through this journey on this night.  She represented Freedom, Vision, Sight, Strength.  I immediately returned to the Fire.  Wytomi was playing his big drum, and I stood close to the Fire, feeling the heat wash over me and through me.  I felt Her in every cell of my body.  I loved Her and She loved me.  The vibrations of Wytomi’s big drum hit the pant leg of my jeans and they vibrated and I felt my own blood ripple and pulse in rhythm with the vibrations.

More meditations and movement…then face painting.  3 symbols that were given to us..one for our intention/purpose, one for our animal guide, and the one that Wytomi  had set for the Fire.  We found partners and painted our faces….my intention was the symbol of the Goddess with the spiral in Her belly (transformation)…my animal guide were wings and a tail of a spiral….and the intention of the fire set by Wytomi was courage symbolized by an arrow head.

Now we were ready!  We gathered together at the edge of the coals that were all laid out.  Wytomi lead us in more movement and meditation…bringing the Fire  from outside into our bodies.   We were one with the energy of the Fire.  Our energy had to  match that of the Fire, or this Firewalk would not happen.  He instructed us on the “how tos” of walking the Fire.  He told us again that until the Fire is “cut” (I think that is the term  he used) by the first walker it would be very very very hot and intense.  He asked if anyone wanted to be first or if we wanted him to do it for us.  I heard the whole group say, yes they wanted him to do it for us…but in my head I heard…”No one will cut the way for you, Martha.  It will not be easy.  You have to do it for yourself.”  Wytomi kept talking and kept the energy building.  Once again, he asked, “Who is walking the Fire first?”  I heard myself say in a voice I don’t usually hear myself talking in, “I AM!”  and I stepped forward.  “Che Ho!” I heard the group reply.  I stood at the edge of the Fire, felt Her heat.  She loved me and I loved her.  Wytomi was at the other end, clapping and chanting.  My friends were behind me clapping and cheering.  And I took that first step and kept on walking…my bare feet upon the coals.  It felt like stirofoam beneath my feet.  I walked steadfastly towards my purpose shouting at the top of my lungs, “No body but me will do this!  It’s all me!  I AM THE ONE!”  Having crossed the goals, I found myself in the arms of Wytomi squeezed in a big bear hug from the Elk Shaman, and I heard him shout, The Fire IS OPEN! Let the walk begin!  I turned to watch my friends start their journey across the Fire and I greeted them with hugs on the other side.

Together, we walked these coals several times.  The coals were refreshed 2 more times, each time making the Fire hotter, and we walked again!  I remember feeling the heat beneath my feet.  I heard myself say, “You need to feel the heat and discomfort..you need to KNOW that this is painful and difficult.”  So I allowed myself to feel the heat and the pain as I walked across.  We clapped, we cheered.  I stood against the cool cement wall and laughed until I cried.  I cried some more.  Peace.  Love.  Determination.  Healing.  Joy.  Power.  Health.  Transformation.  It was all there……

It was time to put our shoes back on and take some pictures…and get going….  What a celebration.  No one wanted to leave..well okay, some people did.  But the first timers, we wanted to stay beside those coals all night.  *laugh*  But we didn’t.  In the end, I decided to join a group of them at IHOP for “dinner”.  There was no way I was going to make the hour drive home in the dark alone without eating and grounding myself.  The fellowship at IHOP was so much fun..10 of us walking in with faces painted, all very loud and making quite the scene.  It was awesome!  So much fun!

The Fire after all the walking was completed

Face still painted..shoes back on…standing beside the Fire as She cools down

I am very glad I did this.  What I learned about myself was HUGE.  I’m still not very grounded, and that is okay.  I was replying to an email about Especially Me!  and had to send it 4 times to get all the information in the email; I kept forgetting the attachment.  *laugh*  Yup, its a good thing I am not heading up the mountain to snow board today!  And by the way, my feet are perfectly fine!  See…

My feet this morning after my shower, but I didn’t scrub them clean.   Some of the soot came off in the shower, but I still need the soot on my feet, I still need/want that sacred feeling.  And YES I need a pedicure BADLY..just ignore that :).