Spirituality

Anne Lamott’s 3 Essential Prayers

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Well-written, thought-provoking books are like air and water to me.  They’re necessary for survival.

There are certain books that I’ll happily read on my Kindle or iPad.  Then there are books that still require the sensory stimulation that only touching them and reading them can provide.

It’s sort of a joke at my house, maybe at yours too, when I reference a desire to own a new book.

“Okay, now is that a book-book or the e-version?” as if the e-version isn’t a real book.

Help Thanks Wow is definitely a book-book

I received Anne Lamott’s new book Help Thanks Wow for Christmas and dove in immediately while sunning on the beach in Cancun.  If you’re familiar with her work,  (Imperfect Birds, Grace (Eventually), Plan B and Traveling Mercies), you know her irreverent, yet deeply spiritual style.

Lamott is the real deal.  She writes stuff that seems like something your or I would say.

In the book’s prelude, she writes that saying to God, “I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don’t like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You,” is an honest and truthful, albeit prayer.  I think so too.

I sort of see her as the regular person’s prayer counselor.

Lamott says her three simple prayers are all variations of three words.  Help.  Thanks.  Wow.  “That’s all I’ll ever need,” she writes.  “besides the silence, the pain, and the pause sufficient for me to stop, close my eyes, and turn inward.”

The back of the book’s jacket reads, “I do not know much about God and prayer.  But I have come to believe, over the last 25 years, that there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple.”

Help.  Thanks.  Wow.

I took those words into my journaling time this morning.  Here’s what went on the page:

Please, God, let my thoughts be infused with light and love today.  I am weary of packing around the heavy ones.  Help me to see them differently.  

Thank you for your guidance to slow me down, to be right here.  This is my one sacred moment, distinct from any other.  Help me to let now be now.

Thank you for the breath that gives me life today.  Whatever approaches my attention, whatever requires my focus, help me remember that today is a present to the present me.

Thank you for Wow stuff, God.  I love looking for the Wow in everything I see and experience.  

Wow is pure You, God.  The mosaic of shells lying on sand in the sea shell-shaped plate on my coffee table is 100% WOW.  Each shell is unique in color, shape, mold of form–how can it not be Wow?

Your Wow fills me with the exuberance of a child.  I can feel my heart swelling with love for the Wow.

I relate to the Wow.  I want to be the Wow, emulate it and exude it because Wow is joy brought to life.

I think there is nothing cooler than whatever causes Wow.  

Please check out Anne Lamott’s Help Thanks Wow and let me know your impressions.

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Empty Your Bucket List!

Dolphinaris Cozumel 4 Empty Your Bucket List!

My dream is to have a house on the beach, even just a little shack somewhere, so I can wake up, have coffee, look at dolphins, be quiet and breathe the air. ~ Christina Applegate

One of my favorite television shows as a little kid was Flipper, a fictional story set off the Florida Keys, with a dolphin, a game warden and his two sons, Sandy and Bud.

In the late 1960s, I was a long way from building a bucket list.  But I knew two things about the far-off some day:  One, I was going to run fast across the yard, throw my arms open wide and fly with the eagles and two, I was going to swim with dolphins.

I feel pretty happy about my .500 record.

Swimming with the dolphins

Have you ever seen or experienced something in nature that leaves you tearfully giddy?  I’ve seen some pretty awesome sights in my half century of living but few things match the experience of touching a dolphin for the first time.

Imagine the softest, most supple leather you’ve ever felt.  Swallow and Mancurio, the team that joined us in the pool at Dolphinaris in Cancun, graciously allowed us to touch them as they swam by in introduction.

Under the close watch of the trainers–each armed with high-pitched whistles and small Igloo coolers filled with fish–we kissed their bottle noses, shook their fins and held them like a baby on its back.

One look into Swallow’s onyx-colored eyes and I was a goner.  Over the moon.  Couldn’t feel my toes I was so elated.

And moved.  I was moved beyond words when he swam close and let me hold him.  Eyes closed, his jaw slightly parted, I think we were both transfixed in that one ethereal moment.

At least I’d like to think we shared a moment of timeless wonder.

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I remember thinking, “How great thou art, you noble creature.”

The culmination of our time at Dolphinaris was a very fast swim with Swallow.

One by one, the members of our group swam out to nearly the far side of the pool and turned back to face the group.  We were instructed to stretch both arms out to our left and to be ready.

All of a sudden, a 300-pound mammal whooshed beside me.  He was on his back and I grabbed hold of his flippers and rode his belly–Oh My God!–at a 25- to 30-mph clip across the pool.  The ride only lasted only about six seconds but it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.

Savoring life’s experiences

You must try new things, take yourself on adventures and yes, even create a bucket list.  The feeling of  living, of connecting, with God’s creations, thrills your mind and captivates your heart in ways that are unimaginable when you only think about them.

You have to be present to experience the grace.  It can’t happen any other way.

Refuse the role of bystander in your life.  Reach up, reach out, and grab on to every morsel of living that life tosses your way.

And if any of your adventures take you swimming with a dolphin, please kiss that bottle nose for me.

 

 

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Rebirth: Three Synchronistic Events

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We spent the Christmas holiday in paradise this year, splurging on six-night, all-inclusive stay at Cancun’s #3 resort hotel.

It was first-class all the way.  We figured if the world was going to end on the day we began our trip, then we were going out in style!

Our time in Cancun was a synchronistic crescendo of events:  The celebration of the birth of Christ, the end of the Mayan 13th Baktun on December 21 and the last few days of a month and year that saw the final perfectly numbered day (12-12-12) that my generation will experience.

A quiet December 21st in Mexico

You’ve already heard plenty about the non-event of the Mayan Apocalypse; in reality, the Mayas never thought the world would end.

Stories the world over reported much ado about nothing; some schools in Michigan actually cancelled classes because of the rumors’ “distractions,” (although to be fair, the cancellation probably had more to do with the school shooting in Connecticut).

The Maya calendar to which everyone referred is the Long Count Calendar, one of three calendars the ancient Maya used to count time.  It gets a little complicated–one baktun equals 144,000 days total, or close to 400 years–but the Maya believed that 13 baktuns represented one full cycle of creation.

They did not predict the end of the world, only the end of a creation cycle.

Trust me, we were relieved; we didn’t want our days in paradise cut short!

On the morning of December 22, the Mexican Caribbean edition of USA Today reported that residents and tourists alike were simply looking for “the chance to mark epochal change” in the Yucatan Peninsula.  Diverse ceremonies were conducted on all four sides of El Castillo, the main pyramid in Chichen Itza, closest to where we stayed.

One 55-year-old man said, “This world is being reborn as a better world.”

The symbolism of the Christmas birth and the beginning of a new year

History’s most celebrated and worshipped miracle birth–attributed to December 24–always fills me with a magnificent sense of being reborn. The meaning we attribute to Christmas, that of infinite love, compassion and forgiveness, gives you and me the ultimate Do-Over.  In the parlance of 12-step programs, it’s the penultimate 10th step.

Like the man in Mexico, we get to be reborn into a better world, a world we create through our intentions and perceptions.

This time, these final hours of 2012, call for reflection and thoughtful decisions.

Take a look back over the year.  What has worked for you and what hasn’t?  What or who needs forgiveness?  Where can you let go of troubling situations?

A blogger colleague of mine writes a letter to the year about to pass, pondering what she’s learned and experienced.  She also expresses thanks for everything.

Then she writes a letter of welcome to the new year, letting her ideas and aspirations be known.  She invites the year into her being like she would a cherished friend, excited about the things they will create together.

She then offers both letters to the universe–her way of letting go of the outcomes of each, I believe–by burning them ceremoniously in her fireplace.

In the transitional moments of old to new year, my friend chooses a word for the year, a verb that will serve as her active mental talisman for the entire year.

I’m going to take up the practice of choosing a word for 2013 and invite you to do the same.

I’m also going to think and meditate about what I can leave in the dust of 2012.  There’s plenty of baggage to unload, wouldn’t you agree?  Let’s decide not to drag it into our pristine new year.

Where will you start?  If you choose an action word for 2013, I’d love to hear it!  Please share too any baggage–figurative or literal–that you’re going to toss off the 2013 train that rolls into your stations tonight!

Thank you for a fabulous 2012 and here’s to a happy, healthy and joyous 2013!

 

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End of the World As You Know It

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If you believe the doomsday interpretation of the Mayan calendar, our world will cease to exist tomorrow.

On one hand, if the prophecy is true, I’ll be kind of bummed because we’re headed to Cancun for our annual Christmas on the beach.  I’d hate to miss the beach.

On the other hand, I’m super-pumped about the world ending and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Do you suppose we’ll finally get peace on earth?

Don’t give up before the miracle occurs

I do think the world as we know it is ending, and I’m grateful.  It’s my fervent hope and prayer that we’re ushering in an era of love and peace but in order for the new world to exist, old thoughts of hatred, violence and war must be eliminated.

We’ve been working toward this new world.   Even as the harsh present day realities pierce our hearts, we see glimpses of goodness too.

Remember the New York City cop who bought boots for the homeless man?  Never mind that the man wasn’t homeless, the officer’s intent was selfless and honorable.

Recently, in my metropolitan area, a suburban cop stopped a driver for an expired vehicle registration.  The driver explained that he knew he was behind on paying for the registration sticker, but, in his words, “It was either feed my kids or get my registration done.”

The officer handed the man a citation, folded, and tucked between the folds was a $100 bill.

Stories like these  are plentiful and help stave off headline horror.

The stories are the reason I believe the miracle of a new world is occurring.

Four days before Christmas

Is it a coincidence that Dec. 21st is four days before the day Christians celebrate as the birth of Jesus? An ending before a beginning?

Actually the present cycle of the world as we know it has been nearing its end for quite some time.  Endings must occur before new life can burst through.

Think of it as humanity sloughing off its old skin.

Four days before Christmas and you can set your intention for the next phase of your life.

What will it be?  My intention is to show up in my day-to-day world as love.  Please hear that this isn’t a goal or a resolution.

Love is who I am and love is who I shall be.  It’s the same for you.

You and I are children of light, not darkness.  When light shines, there can be no darkness, no evil.

As you finish your holiday preparations, please ponder this thought:  There is tremendous freedom in simultaneously giving and receiving light.  Pulling light to yourself–from others’ good deeds or from special feelings brought on by something watched or read–gives you the power to recognize darkness for what it is–the absence of light.

A shift is happening, of that I have little doubt.  It’s a blast to watch the events as they occur and to realize it’s all a part of the glorious Universal Plan.

I could be completely wrong, of course, but I don’t care if I am.  I sure do like the feelings I have right now.  And right now is all that matters.

 

Hey, faithful B Here Today readers!  I’m taking some time away to celebrate the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and to recharge my batteries.  I pray that each one of you has a beautifully peaceful celebration of your own, wherever you are.  Here’s to a light-filled 2013!

Photo courtesy of duane j
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Soul Clarity: Help Another

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I discovered a new way to work with Jodi Chapman’s Soul Clarity Cards.

I drew the card after I finished writing my morning journal pages.  And I was oh-so-shocked-and-amazed how the two synced!

The card read:  Help another.  Offer support and love.  Unconditionally without expectation.

My writing went a little like this:

The true meaning of Christmas

Every year, we hear the admonition to remember the “true meaning of Christmas.”  Every year, I ponder the true meaning with varying degrees of satisfaction.

But this year, I think I nailed it.

How, you might ask?

Somehow, thanks to the gift of grace, I find myself on the right side of the spiritual balance beam.  I’ve moved away from anxiety, frustration and worry to sit on the beam with acceptance, serenity and peace.

From my vantage point on the spiritual beam, I can see that the true meaning of Christmas (for me) is about going home.  “I’ll be home for Christmas” has never rang more true for me.

Like so many of us, my life has shifted from an old perspective to a new.  Christmas Past found me rushing, stressing and ultimately, dreading gathering with family.  Some yearly celebrations were good, some not so good, but we never really knew how they would go because my family filtered everything through the disease of addiction.

Please hear that statement as merely a fact, not a judgment.

My family dynamic has changed dramatically.  These days, it’s me and my sweetie and our dog, Jazzy.  The Christmas holiday this year will find Jazzy at her Pete and Mac’s spa and we’ll be wishing new friends Merry Christmas on the beach in Mexico.

How does Christmas and going home fit with today’s Soul Clarity card?

Soul clarity:  Help another

Do you believe that in order to be of service to someone else, we must first care for ourselves?  My soul is really clear that I am included in helping another.  In fact, when you first offer yourself unconditional love and support, helping another person comes much easier.

Right now, my sweetie is going through a bit of an emotional rough patch.

For perhaps the first time in our relationship, I am actively not trying to help her by offering ideas or suggestions for potential fixes.  That’s not what she needs from me.  What she does need is unconditional love and support.

I can be a soft landing place for her; the comfort of home that her soul craves.  I can fuss less over her and open my arms more.

One of my Christmas gifts for her this year is allowing her the grace to simply be, to figure things out on her own.  Trust me, for this control-freak, that’s a big-person step.

My gift that comes from Soul Clarity is to help her find her way home for the holidays.  To her soul home, to the place within her that breathes a little easier and rests a little more where she is.

I love Christmastime, don’t you?

Photo courtesy of clarita
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