Posts Tagged ‘faith’

What to give up for Lent? How about complaining

February 16, 2010

It’s Fat Tuesday and I’m thinking about the most difficult things to give up for Lent. I was raised protestant, but my friends were mostly Catholic so I adopted many Catholic practices. (And now I am converted and married to a Catholic – but that’s another story.)

In high school I gave up material things I loved, like chocolate or sweets altogether. One year I attempted to give up swearing. Every time I swore, I would do ten pushups or sit-ups. By the end of Lent I had great abs and arms.

Learning about Catholicism during nine months of required adult education provided a better insight to Lent and what it means to me. Personal changes can be made in any season, regardless of religion. However, Lent prompts me to look at myself honestly and the changes I need most.

I’ve found that as difficult as it might be to give up – gasp – beer, it’s much harder to renounce a negative trait. (And since I quit sugar in January, I have very few drinks anyway.)

Instead, I will continue to attack serious downfalls in my spirit and attitude – the areas in which I do not behave like Christ (or Buddha or any enlightened being). I’ve learned that you’re not supposed to announce your Lenten plans, so I’ll talk about past years instead.

Two years ago, I gave up complaining. Yes, complaining. I can’t say that for 40 days I never thought or voiced a complaint. Who could? But I learned to catch complaints in thought, ask myself what good the complaints served, and then keep most of them to myself.

It’s amazing how many complaints our heads come up with in one day. I get out of bed and complain that my back hurts. Then I complain that the cat puked on the floor. The shower runs out of hot water mid leg shaving and I complain again. Plus, there’s always dishes in the sink, traffic is bad, and on and on.

I caught myself complaining about good things like a messy fridge filled with too much food. Or the sun was too bright. Or there was too much work to do (who would have known I would loose my job). I needed an attitude adjustment and it started with being aware.

Why was I complaining? How could I be grateful instead? How much of this could I just turn over to source and let go?

It turns out that most complaints are not warranted and serve no good purpose. I still complain, but a lot less. Even my husband notices the difference and catches me if I start complaining.

This year, I’m tackling a pretty huge lineup of issues. If I have success, I will find peace and joy in every day. For anyone who wants to keep chocolate and give up something hurtful, this little reflection is from one of our church bulletins last year. I cut it out and it’s still on the fridge.

Give up complaining … focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism … become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments … think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry … trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement … be full of hope.
Give up bitterness … turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred … return good for evil.
Give up negativism … be positive.
Give up anger … be more patient.
Give up gloom … enjoy the beauty that is all around.
Give up jealous … pray for trust.
Give up sin … turn to virtue.
Give up giving up … hang in there.

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Don’t wait for cancer to ask for a miracle

December 30, 2009

I was the typical person complaining to everyone about all my struggles until I starting taking responsibility for them.

We all have struggles in our lives, whether physical, financial, spiritual or mental/emotional. Instead of lamenting about my struggles, I ask myself if I am willing work on them – or simply feeding them.

Because I read a lot of spiritual/positive books, I am certain that thoughts attract similar thoughts and events to our lives. I also know that thoughts make our reality. (Olympic athletes improved their races by visualizing wins. The brain didn’t know the difference.)

I have been trying to catch my “whoa is me attitude” before it spills out of my lips. I ask myself, “Are you willing to work on this?”

For example, I have gained weight since I was laid off, and was never thin before, so I don’t like way it feels. My old reaction was to stand in the closet and bawl, complain to others and resent skinny people. But today I ask myself “what are you willing to do to change?” I am willing to walk more and try to eat less. I am thinking seriously about hitting the weights, but I’m not ready yet. So, I focus on making small improvements and BANNING negative self talk. (I tell my reflection I’m looking thinner whether it’s true or not.)

Most people have genuine reasons to complain. I used try to solve their problems until a life coach suggested another approach – ask people what they could do for themselves.

Since I don’t always have immediate answers for my issues, you might not either. However, we must keep asking how we can change, improve or ease the struggle.

Now I am going to pick on us a little. Friends lament to me about their horrible jobs, bad relationships, financial strife and health issues. They don’t know how to fix these issues, won’t seek help and don’t make even the smallest changes in themselves.

This describes decades of my life. It seems we want to wallow in our self-pitying, whoa-is-me attitude. Every time we complain, we bring more of the same crap into our lives.

Irritated? When the mirror was in front of my face, I didn’t like it either. But, I didn’t want to be a crying, complaining, fearful victim of the world. So I started making changes; first in my thoughts, then in my reactions and now in not trying to solve others’ problems.

Want to really feel like a whiner? Listen to this. A friend has a successful business and beautiful family. He is caring and does much for others. You know what he got for Christmas? He got three tumors on his beautiful wife’s brain; cancer in the worse degree.

In their daily journal this couple talks about reasons to be positive, seeking knowledge and support everywhere possible and multiplying their faith exponentially.

This woman could be sobbing all day over her struggle, yet she seeks healing by praying for others.

I am not saying that because other people have bigger problems, ours are somehow easier or overshadowed. I am saying you don’t have to wait for cancer to ask God for a miracle.

Do you really want relief from this burden? What can do to ease the struggle a tiny bit? Ask the Universe for help and expect it.

Today I will concentrate on what I DO HAVE, what I LOVE and ways I am BLESSED. I expect a miracle.

My 10 favorite habits, so far

December 12, 2009

A chat with my little brother reminded me how much I enjoy saying “love you” rather than good-bye. This habit started in my early teens and is a rewarding life change. It tops my 10 favorite habits.

1) Telling people I love them – today. Possibly I read too many romantic novels in which the character lost someone and didn’t get to say it. I don’t wait until tomorrow to say “love ya.”

2) Build a positive outlook. If I said “keep” a positive outlook I’d be a liar at least some times. I keep constructing a solid positive foundation one brick at a time.

3) Be honest, but not harmful. Both parts are crucially important. A boss once said I am honest to a fault. He thought the fault kept me from selling. Much worse, the fault caused me to be rude and hurtful. I try to be candid, yet not blunt or inappropriate.

4) Laugh at myself often. A best friend knows when to laugh with me. So should I. When I do something silly, I chuckle. In the middle of disaster, I laugh. Of course I snicker and snort at my own stories. I just can’t help it.

5) Talk to myself, and listen for response. It runs in my family. My brothers sing little made-up songs or hum all the time and my mom states her next move before she does it. Dad’s not so obvious, except the little remarks to the air.

Naturally, I talk to myself (the cats, the plants, the garden and nearly everything). I recently began listening for a reply. An answer could lie in my words or body language. What is my heart really saying?

6) Strive to be a better listener. Quick with a word on anything, I had to learn to listen. Instead of letting my mind race ahead in the conversation, I try to focus on what’s said, not said and suggested. I can only improve.

7) Seek adventure/try new things. I do something new for my birthday every year. I also taste new things, listen to different music and join people in unique adventures. Even more significant, I give childhood dislikes a second chance. I still gag on sweetened squash, but adore little oysters on the half shell.

8) Read, read, read. I’m not Oprah, yet I do cram a lot of text in the noggin. Reading is one of my oldest habits. It connects me to fantasy, truth and people. Most days I wish I had more time to read from my pile of books, RSS and social media.

9) Always ask the question. Whatever the question may be, I typically ask it. I’m an outgoing, natural speaker, but crave stories and knowledge from others. So my philosophy is “ask and you shall know.”

10) Smile as often as physically possible. My face is literally tired at the end of a good day. I like to smile at people. I visited New York at 17 and was perplexed because everyone looks down and walks fast. A New Yorker friend explained that there are too many people to attempt connecting. Thankfully I live in Portland, because I like connecting.

Could my four-leaf clovers change your life?

December 7, 2009

Believe

Four-leaf clovers in resin-filled bezels dry in the sun on my kitchen table. I see them and am encouraged.

You see, I married a beautiful musician who had never seen a four-leaf clover and therefore did not believe in them. I insisted they exist because I found one on my 14th birthday. I wrote him a poem seven years ago that began like this:

Searching for a four-leaf clover
to prove you are an angel
when you sleep
and dawn fills your mouth
Music is conceived in your veins
A pin prick and it
will drip laughter and sorrow …

But with no proof, he had a hard time believing. Then a few months ago, my friend and I plopped down in the yard and I said “you should sit by those clovers because I know there are four-leafed ones out here.” And there were. She found two that day. I found a third the next day. Three times since I have been in the yard crying and begging for a sign that everything will be okay. I found 11 more four-leaf clovers.

Now I believe and others do too.

Our beliefs create our realities. My reality is formed by these beliefs.

Angels surround us and conspire on our behalves at all times. You can call them out in an emergency or just realize most coincidences aren’t. (Example: the day you are late for work for some stupid reason. Racing toward the office, you come up on a horrific accident that could have been your fate.)

Miracles happen, AND can happen from “bad” things. In hindsight, it is easy to see how traumatic events opened glorious doorways. Not so easy in the moment, I know. So I ask, what good can come from my struggle today?

We all get second chances … to start over, to say I’m sorry, to love, to achieve a failed goal, to be a better person. On that note, I also believe that people want to be good and do good things, yet sometimes it is easier to act poorly, do wrong or simply look the other way. If we don’t believe in luck, angels and miracles, then how the hell are we going to offer kindness to strangers? Please, just get out of my way so I can pick two lemons and go home.

I believe today has something for me. You have something for me; a smile, a message, a blessing – a parking spot! And I have something for you; a heart full of wonder. I wonder how I can help you, warm you or heal you. I wonder if you believe in my four-leaf clovers, could that change your life? I believe so.

… So with fingertips stained
like lawn-mowing shoes
I part leaves
Searching for your solace
Proof
of what I smell in your skin
See in glacier eyes.

Happy? Not always. But Larque every day.

December 1, 2009

I might have been born happy but cannot recall those early years. Thankfully, I don’t recall my mom and biological father fighting for my first six years either. I do recall a surly teenager who bore my name and thought life was a miserable waste of time. Yikes!

“Happy as a Larque” is a personal trek in boots that don’t always fit right and the disregard of blisters caused by life friction. I haven’t discovered a magical way to disregard the friction itself, so I am not always happy. On the worst of days I go to a terrible dark place and think the worst of thoughts.

My adventure is about gathering wisdom so I may experience bliss and help others. I stash these tools in that dark place so I can navigate my way back. Every time it gets easier.

My goal is to amass strategies and reasons to be happy so that I may be a beacon of light to others. I have already experienced countless paths to happiness; some little jaunts and others grappling, scraping, gut-wrenching climbs. I hope to share with you both types of excursions. I hope that sharing some of the painful points on my journey will comfort you and further strengthen me.

When you pass me on the street and I look deep in your eyes and smile (which I will), don’t assume I am some Pollyanna, Gandhi or Einstein. I am merely one girl who desires to be a mix of the three … optimistic, loving and brilliant.

Cynics around me who scoff at my “fairy dust” education might want to look a bit closer. The sprinkles of faith, trust, belief and passion that glitter around me are bling you can’t buy with money. You have to earn this stuff the hard way – one lesson at a time.

(NOTE: This is the first blog in the Jumping Duck Media 30 Days of Blogging Challenge. http://bit.ly/6bUdVx)