Spirituality

5 Stories to Test Your Goose Bump Meter


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You and I get goose bumps.  Call them goose flesh, goose skin, or even one of several scientific terms, piloerection (don’t go there, people!).

Over the years, I’ve developed what I call a goose bump meter.  When I read, see or hear something that strikes an emotional chord in me, I can feel the hair standing up on my arms.  When something is really good–like a couple of Sundays ago when our church choir was outstanding–I stick out my right arm and exclaim, “Man!  That was fantastic!”

Sharing my goose bumps

For this edition of Mindful Monday, here are five pieces that rang the bell on my goose bump meter.  Each of them reflects a bit of how I’d like to show up in life and all of them share a lesson.  Check them all out today or savor them one-at-a-time throughout the week (spoiler alert:  the fifth one is a YouTube video that will knock your socks off!).

The other four are in not in order of significance; each one rests on the strength of an incredible message.

If you like this Mindful Monday edition, let me know in the comment section because I’m considering putting it in the monthly rotation.

Have fun, enjoy, and B INSPIRED TO B YOU!

Just for you . . .

The Bridgemaker, Healing the Broken Ones http://www.thebridgemaker.com/healing-the-broken-ones/

Alex is one of the first people I connected with in the blogging community.  We’ve corresponded via social media and have spoken over the phone but never met in person (although we will one day since he lives in the metro area I visit several times each year), but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Alex is in my corner.  He’s that kind of guy.

This post is a sweet picture into his heart and soul.

Hannah Brencher, Maybe No One Ever Told You, But Yeah, You’re Kind of Deep  http://hannahbrencher.com/2013/06/04/maybe-no-one-ever-thought-to-tell-you-but-yea-youre-kind-of-deep/

I first stumbled across Hannah when she did a TedTalk about this little idea she had that blossomed into MoreLoveLetters.com.  I love this post because I’ve never seen anyone describe me in quite the way she does.  I am the person who sucks at surface conversations.  I jive and thrive on the gutsy talk that connects two or more people in a string of God-moments.  Like Hannah, that’s the person I want to be, and I suspect many of you want to join us.  Come on down!

Danielle LaPorte, The Real You is Waiting. In Here. Not Out There http://www.daniellelaporte.com/inspiration-spirituality-articles/the-real-you-is-something-that-emerges/

Danielle is gritty in a no-bullshit kind of way and I love reading her stuff.  When I think about authenticity, she pops into my mind.  This quote from the post is a gem:

The real you emerges.
When you are courageous enough to be still. When you act on your inclinations.
When you …
Put your preferences on the altar of your life and say, “THIS. THIS is what compels me.”

Kathy Kruger on Tiny Buddha, Life is Practiced Rather Than Perfected http://tinybuddha.com/blog/life-is-practiced-rather-than-perfected-balance-is-good-enough/

I’ve followed Tiny Buddha for years (even been published there!) and the posts are always first-class.  I love Kathy’s guest post because it addresses a subject I struggle with and maybe of you do as well:  Balance.  She gives me permission to look at my life at the end of any given day and say to myself:  “I’m good because I may not be perfect, but I am good enough.”  Sleep tends to come much easier that way.

The Mariachi Kid With Perfect Pitch and a Perfect Attitude http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=CFIyUJHEaSE

Finally, this video and story about 11-year-old Sebastian De La Cruz from San Antonio, has made national news, so you may have heard about it.  I love his voice and talent, love the outpouring of support he received from NBA heroes on down to everyday people, but most of all, I love his attitude about the persecution he received on social media following his performance at Game 3 of the NBA Finals.  Be sure to watch through to the end.

Much love and goose bumps of joy to you this week!

Photo courtesy of matthew_hull

Heartwood: It Grows in Layers


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Heartwood:  “It grows in layers, like the spirit does.  That’s what Grandpa Sam used to say, anyway.  You just got to keep the roots in a clear stream and not let nobody taint the water for you.”  ~ Billy Bob Holland’s father in James Lee Burke’s Heartwood

As a lifelong tree lover, when I stumbled across the above passage in Burke’s book over the long Memorial Day weekend, I was fascinated by the idea of heartwood.

So I dug a bit, if you’ll pardon the pun, and did a little research via two well-known online resources:  Google and Wikipedia.  With the word heart in my Google search for heartwood, y’all know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Wise old Wikipedia

“Heartwood is wood that, as a result of a naturally occurring chemical transformation, has become more resistant to decay.”

Apparently the formation of heartwood is spontaneous and doesn’t occur in all types of trees.  And some trees, like chestnut and mulberry, start forming a heartwood core early while pine and maple wait until the tree is older before beginning to form heartwood.

One thing is for sure, rings of heartwood are strong, solid and nearly impenetrable.  In his novel, James Lee Burke writes that saws tended to bounce right off a tree with a heartwood center.

How cool is that?

Can humans grow heartwood?

I suspect many of you already carry a nucleus of heartwood.  You just might not know it until the proverbial saw strikes you, maybe in the form of a job loss or a death in your family.  It might not even be something quite so catastrophic; I know that strife in my life commonly appears as hurt feelings or perceived injustice.

Wouldn’t you like to think that the saw will deflect off the strength of your inner being when pain or worry or major fear strikes you?

For anyone who has been knocked down by significant change in her life and risen again, I submit that you do have a thick core of heartwood.  Good for you!  That means you’re resistant to decay just like the mightiest of stately trees!

I wonder if, like the trees, we have an inherent chemical disposition that causes a similar transformation in us?  I believe transformation is possible for anyone, but it’s certainly easier when we recognize the existence of the chemical disposition, a.k.a., a spiritual connection.

For those of you who believe that everything is created by a loving and gracious power of the universe, why wouldn’t we humans receive a similar heartwood composition like God gives trees?

This weekend when you’re on the nature trail or maybe just relaxing in your backyard, give a mental shout out to the trees.  Heartwood:  it’s the trunk of life.

Photo courtesy of Alvimann

You Are Loved and Chosen


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Anne Lamott spoke in Fort Worth a couple of months ago; I really dig her work and the sheer nerve it takes to reveal her thoughts, feelings and passions.

She is the real deal.

Anne said many, many cool things that night, things like, Jesus says “this is a come-as-you-are” party.  She also said, in referring to the traumas in our lives, “I don’t think we ever get over anything.”  In other words, the history of our past stays with us, even as we learn to move on around it.

There were three words she said, though, that have stayed with me, running through my head at random times like intermittent rain showers in south Florida.

Loved and chosen

In her book, Grace Eventually, Thoughts on FaithAnne tells the story of gathering kids for Sunday School and beginning with the “loved and chosen” game.  One by one, she picks a child, seemingly (to the child) at random (“Does anybody know somebody wearing a Texas Rangers t-shirt today?”) to come sit beside her.

She welcomes each of them with the words, You are so loved and chosen.  No one is left out.

It’s true.  Everyone–absolutely everyone–is loved and chosen, because as she explains, “God loves.”

When Anne spoke those words in Fort Worth, I had just been let go from my job and I thought to myself, “My boss?  Even her?  She’s loved and chosen?”

Stepping on God’s toes

A few years back, I got into a tiff with a friend over another friend’s callous and rude behavior.  I dropped into my perverse, gossipy self and said in my best holier-than-thou voice, “Well, just who does she think she is?”

Can’t you just picture my stance?  Feet firmly planted 18″ apart, hand on hip, lips pursed and nose in the air?

My friend looked at me and said in a drop-dead calm voice, “You better be careful, my dear.  Sounds to me like you’re making a judgment and on the off-chance that you are, you’re acting like you know more than God because God loves everybody the same.”

Ouch.

The point is that we all have stuff.  We all have days when we show up with our C, D or F game instead of our A game.  And we are much harder on ourselves than anybody else.  Am I right?

Before you take one more step on the day when you’re reading this post, think about this:  You Are Loved and Chosen.

When you forget to put the coffee in the basket and pour the water through the pot, you are loved and chosen.

When you back your car into the cart-corral in the grocery store parking lot, you are loved and chosen.

When you forget your anniversary, you are loved and chosen.

You know, there would be no need for forgiveness if you never screwed up.  And forgiveness is a beautiful thing; it brings healing and growth to your inner world.

Now, go on about your day, and if at any point it turns south, stop where you are and say, “Do I know anybody wearing jean shorts, a Ft. Lauderdale t-shirt and no shoes today?  You are loved and chosen.”

Photo courtesy of lisafanucchi

Happy Birthday to Me and B Here!


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B Here Today is three years old today.  Like a toddler testing her legs, I’ve had fun writing about all kinds of things from goats and crickets to beach vacations and grieving the loss of my mom.

What started as a blog for recording my recovery journey has morphed into a place to tell stories of all kinds.

I’ve discovered that I love to tell stories and many of them are recovery stories because that’s my life.  I’m a person in long-term recovery from alcoholism; in fact sobriety for me began 22 years ago today.

8,030 Days

On May 20, 1991, I was a month into my 30’s, had just bought my first house and was really living the good life.  I had a job that allowed me to travel on an expense account, a loving relationship and all the outer trappings of success.

The problem wasn’t my life.  It was me not living my life.

I didn’t know that I didn’t know how to live my life until I was sober.  Sometimes it feels like it’s taken every one of these past 8,030 days to figure it out.

Somewhere between the time I had my first sips of my dad’s Budweiser when I was old enough to open the refrigerator and when I quit drinking in 1991, I crossed the line into alcoholism.  Was the line when I had my first alcoholic blackout at 15?  Maybe.

Was it when I drove drunk on snow-packed roads, ran over an animal and didn’t stop?  Perhaps.

Had I crossed the line on the Saturday afternoon when I fought off a potential rapist, found a pay phone to call for help but didn’t know where I was?

Probably.

It doesn’t matter when I crossed the line, though.  Nor does it matter what I still had in my life or what I had lost.

What does matter is that I came to understand that my soul was drowning in alcohol and the only way to save it was to stop.

I am blissfully and blessedly grateful to the Higher Power in my life who guided me then and now.

God knows I couldn’t do it alone!

First B Here posts

From the inaugural post:  Boil sobriety down and what’s left in the bottom of the pot is a glop of daily moments that sometimes needs seasoning, sometimes tastes just right and sometimes needs to be tossed in the trash. 

From a post quoting my sponsor:  Recovery is about living life differently but it’s not expected that you’ll wake up one morning and Shazam!, you have all knowledge. 

From Why Did God Create Sponsors?I believe God knew there would be sober children–and I’m not referring to chronological age–who would be regularly blustery and dumb-founded when it comes to living life without alcohol.

From Bug LessonI have jammed myself into many corners without realizing that my escape route is behind me. 

From Waiting for a MiracleI’ve been known to say in 12-step meetings, “If all I am today is sober, somebody please shoot me.”

From Dog Therapy:  For me, animals, and dogs in particular, offer a haven against the complications of being human and in recovery.  They live simply and serenely and for the most part, get their needs met on an as-needed basis.  They show me what it’s like to languish and live and love in spite of what may be happening around them. 

For all of you who have contributed to the lessons and the beauty of the last 22 years, I give you my heartfelt thanks.  To all B Here Today  readers who have given me your time and your responses, for connecting your heart to mine, I wish you peace.

Photo courtesy of kakisky

Trust the Process


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Sunday was an exciting day for me; two of my friends who are Unity ministers as well as a married couple, debuted at the major church near where I live.

The husband in the duo is the former minister of my old home church in Missouri; he’s also a trusted confidante and dear friend.  I have a huge amount of respect for his wife, although I don’t know her as well (something tells me that’s fixin’ to change).

We had a terrific reunion today, lots of hugs and grins and you-look-greats.  As we chit-chatted a bit before the service, Rob mentioned the title of Aliza’s talk:  Trust the Process.

My insides went mushy, my face contorted and I heard myself groan, “Ewwwww.”

Rob said, “Just wait.  You’ve gonna love this.  It will blow you away.”

I did a mental toe stub.  Okayyyyyyy.

An overused phrase

Trust the process.  Geez, it seems like that’s the default phrase for every self-help guru and masterminding group on stage today, not to mention the mantra-like repetitions of people attending 12-step groups.

I mean no disrespect, but as word strings go, this one has jumped the shark.  I believe it’s lost some of its punch simply because people say it in response to everything.

Had a flat tire?  Trust the process.

Can’t decide which running shoes to buy?  Trust the process.

You’re going to have brain surgery?  Trust the process.

Praying for strength and wisdom, for God to lead you?  Trust the process.

See what I mean?  When someone tells me to trust the process, I have the same regurgitating reaction as when someone shrugs and says, “It is what it is.”  Don’t even get me started on that one.

Because I love Rob and Aliza, I decided to trust the process on trusting the process.

I listened and I heard.

Not surprisingly, Aliza’s church talk had a twist.  She told a story about a guy telling God that he wanted to do something of significance, so God said, fine, go outside and push that rock.

The guy happily pushed the rock for days and weeks and months until, in frustration he cried out, God, I’ve been pushing and pushing and pushing and nothing has happened!  I quit.

The poor guy mis-heard God.  God said push the rock.  The guy heard move the rock.

The process that he failed to trust was realizing that he couldn’t take all his steps at one time.  In other words, the guy needed to get really good at being in the presence of pushing the rock (or any other singular activity) before he could move the rock even one inch.

During Aliza’s talk, I sat there thinking about my most recent life challenge.  I lost my job then decided the time was right to launch a freelance writing and communications consulting business.

The time is right.  But I keep pushing the rock expecting it to move.  Like the man in the story, I want to meld a whole bunch of steps into one giant leap instead of being with one step at a time.

Why?  Because I need to feel secure.  I need to have financial assurance.  I need to blah, blah, blah.

Aliza spoke about putting aside our needs aside and trusting the process of being where we are.  I listened and I heard.

Today, that is enough.  Today, I’m going to trust the process and commune with my rock.