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Do you ever have moments when it seems like nothing you do is good enough, or right? I’m kind of stuck in one of those periods now…it seems like everything is blah and gray, that nothing good is happening, and that nothing will ever change. On one level, I know this isn’t true, but on the emotional side it sure feels that way.

Take teaching my class for example…I started off out the gate slow – I lectured (god forbid), and then made the mistake of lecturing again. If you’d asked me after my second class period about how the class was going, I would have told you, “awful.” Things have improved some – I’m bringing in discussion and we did a movie today along with some lecture on APA format. The hard thing is, I still feel like I’m an imposter and that I completely, totally suck at this. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been teaching, but I honestly don’t ever remember feeling this unsure of myself in the classroom. Still, I’m muddling through. We did “early alert” evaluations for new faculty today – I’m scared spitless about how they’re going to come out, and whether or not I’ll have a job next semester. Am I catastrophizing? Probably – but it’s also where I’m at emotionally here.

My work on the private practice is another area of angst – I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and that I’m trying to ride with one wheel missing – I don’t have an “advertising budget” and I’m working the resources I have as much as I can, but still – nothing is happening and it’s very frustrating. No clients, no group…nothing. I keep wondering if I’m just not meant to succeed…but then I think, “Dang it girl – hard work and keeping this going is what will pay off!” So…I keep on keepin’ on here. I call people, I send out flyers, I leave messages on voicemail, and I keep praying and hoping something will happen. In my dreams, the phone rings and I get a therapist on the other end saying, “Hey, is your group still open? I have three people I’d like to refer to you…” Ok, I admit it probably won’t happen like that. The bottom line is that I have to “do my homework” to make this work…and realize that it WILL take time. Great on the “brain” level, but still hard on the “heart” level – emotionally I feel like I’m a failure again.

And then there’s finances…oh heck…I’m worried if I’m going to be able to pay my bills, given that nothing is happening with the practice and that my teaching job pays very little. It’s a good thing I generally love what I do in the classroom – I’m certainly not doing it for the wonderful paycheck. I think that’s what has been hardest for me with the teaching – I LOVE teaching psychology, and I’m very frustrated that I don’t seem to be communicating that or the material very well. Instead, I feel pressured, anxious, and incompetent. And I’m NOT used to feeling that way in my classroom!

So where do I go from here? I really don’t know. I’m frustrated, feeling down, and more than a little nervous about the student evaluations and upcoming faculty evaluation. I’m scared about what’s not happening with my practice and am wondering if I can make it work. I’m overwhelmed about the finances as a result, and feel like if I think too much about it, my head will explode. I just hope it gets better – that I find my footing again in the classroom, and that something “clicks” with the practice end of things. If not, that I can find work that will help me pay my bills – no small undertaking in this economy. As you can see, I’m great at judging myself – so one of the things I’m trying to do is be gentle with myself and not judge myself so harshly. Chances are, I’m judging myself much harder than anyone else is. So…I try to be nicer to myself and keep on keepin’ on. I keep hoping, praying, and working to see if I can make any of this happen.

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Lately, I’ve been taking many leaps of faith. I quit my job as the nursery coordinator at my church, and have started teaching again at the local community college. That alone was a leap of faith because I’m worried about being able to pay my bills (as we all are, I’m sure). Community colleges aren’t known for paying well – and this one is no different. It’s a great place to work though, and I really enjoy being around people who care about learning. So, my leap of faith here is that I’ll somehow be able to make enough to pay my bills.

But wait…there’s more! That’s right, folks – more leaps of faith. I’ve been blogging on and off about starting my own private practice for psychotherapy and groups. I’ve set a date and time for my first group – without anyone in the group yet. I’m taking that leap and trusting that the people who need it will be there. Now, I’m not just sitting on my tush and waiting – I strongly believe also that God helps those who help themselves. So, I”m talking to therapists in town including my training program, and will make and drop off flyers with the local behavioral hospital as well. So hopefully, between word of mouth and active marketing, something will happen. It’s still a leap of faith though, and I’ll fully admit to being nervous about falling flat on my face.

Sometimes, the leap of faith can involve letting go. As an undergraduate student I learned in nearly exclusively lecture-style classes until I went to Whitman College. While there I also had lecture classes, but also had classes and experiences that stretched my mind as well as my conception of what a “class” should be. Today, as a teacher, I have trouble letting go of the lecture style, and it’s a leap of faith to me that i can do this, and it will be all right. I can let go of stuffing information and allow the learning process to happen in its own right and natural way. This leap of faith is a process for me, but my faith is in the process and in the fact that others have done this and that it’s turned out all right.

It’s a leap of faith to leave the secure (whether in the classroom or in my life) to follow my dreams…and will continue to be a leap of faith when I move beyond where I’m at now to another dream or goal. Every step, every breath, every interaction is a leap of faith that the safety net will be there, and that even if I do fall on my face, I can stand up, dust myself off, and begin again.

So what is the “net”? In this case, leaps of faith can be literal as well, though…every day, I say a prayer that is a literal leap of faith – faith that God is there, that God listens, and ultimately, that there is a God. This faith guides my life – based on experiences I’ve had where I’ve known God not just as “ultimate cosmic power” but as a Friend. This sense of God as Friend is my litmus test for all things religious and spiritual – if it feels like something my Friend would say or do, then I trust it. It’s a true leap of faith, and requires my attention to my spiritual development on a daily, sometimes minute-to-minute basis. As a result, though, I continue to feel and have this friendship, something I value as strongly as I value life itself.

My dreams, my goals….my voice and my acts – doing these involves taking the leap as much as listening for the guidance as to when and where to do them. The listening is a much if not more of a leap of faith than the doing – I’m trust that what I “hear” is valid and reliable and trustworthy. So far, it hasn’t let me down.

I consider myself a spiritual person. I belong to a certain faith tradition at the moment, but I consider myself more a person who wants to learn about and find commonalities in as many faith traditions as possible. I wasn’t always this way – for a long time, I was furious with God, and then after that was not even sure that a deity existed. Now, I fully believe that there is deity, and that connection with the divine is not only possible, but is offered freely if we’re open to it.

This journey began with a child’s faith – I was taken to church (sporadically, but taken) and went to Sunday school like most kids in my area. I didn’t even begin questioning differences until I invited a Jewish friend to one of my youth group get-togethers. You have to understand – I didn’t even really know he was Jewish, and had I known I probably still wouldn’t understand the cultural consequences of what I’d done – I invited him to a Yule log hunt and hot dog dinner. (Yeah, I can see the cringing – I still cringe too). He taught me a couple of lessons her – first, that there ARE differences and second, that it’s important to understand them so you can respect them. I still had a ways to go, but I was at least started on my journey.

In the course of my wanderings, I’ve been Episcopalian, Latter-day Saint, Wiccan, agnostic, and Lutheran. In my teenage years, I flirted with Catholicism out of the sense of calling to be a nun. The gist here is that I’ve been all over the board when it comes to organized and not-so-organized religions. In my darkest periods, I wondered if there was anything out there at all. As much as I doubted, though, I still had the sense that there was, even if I didn’t want to believe it. That’s where Active trust came in. During this period (the time after I left the LDS church and while I looking at Wicca), I doubted the very existence of deity. My experience in the LDS church was that God had been made in the image of man – and I use “man” deliberately. Women, especially feminists, were marginalized or even ostracized. I found I didn’t fit the mold, and that there wasn’t much tolerance for that. (One bishop told me that it was too bad I’d been born with the mind of man stuck in the body of a woman.) I was burned out on male domination and religion in general.

Gradually, though, my sense of the divine around us came back. My heart didn’t want to see it – I was still smarting from the earlier experiences. In this case, although it may seem illogical to some, I let my head overrule my heart. I let go of my religious prejudices as best as I could and tried to trust in the Divine. This trust led me to experience the Divine as feminine through Wicca, and later as both male and female (indivisible from each other). It also let me experience faith and even religion to some degree as a supportive environment. However, that’s not to say I fit any real mold of what a “religious person” looks like – I say that I’m more spiritual than I am religious.

These days, I say there are as many religions as there are people.
Now before y’all bomb me with fire and brimstone, let me explain. Our organized religions are about community – shared beliefs and the sense of belonging. However, each one of us interprets our faith traditions through the understanding of our own experiences. My experiences are different from yours, and yours are different from every other person. Ideally, we’re able to share our experiences, find meaning in them, and maybe put them in the framework of our religious beliefs.

I find as I’m getting older, though, that I’m wanting to find the common ground in all the different traditions. The more I read, the more commonalities I find. My active trust these days centers on believing and trusting that understanding and peace can come about, in spite of our differences. My heart tells me that it may not be possible, but I let my head overrule that lack of trust and fear. It may not happen – but by using my active trust I can do my part to work for it happening. I may not always succeed, but I do try to live my ideals and by living my ideals bring others joy and hope as well. I don’t push my beliefs on anyone – I believe that my acts and my life are my offerings and that if I live according to my beliefs I won’t need to push them on anyone. Finding commonalities, building trust between each other, creating community and peace – all of these unify us and help us understand and celebrate each other. To me, that’s the essence of love and of relationship – caring for and about each other, and that’s what I work for and try to live.

Idealistic? Maybe…but without ideals and hope, regardless of whether it’s religious or not, where would we be? Hope, in my opinion, is the embodiment of active trust and hope is where I want my heart to be.

Pine Cone Spiral - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Pine Cone Spiral - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Hearing my kidlets laugh and playing with them
Helping others
The ocean, the shore, and Connecticut
Beachcombing
Listening to the sound of ocean waves
Traveling to new places
Adventures
Bright, sunny days and cool rainy days
Autumn
Spring
Sun sparkling on untouched snow
The smell of fallen leaves and ripe fruits
The smell of bread baking
Soft blankets and warm quilts
Hot cups of tea
A really good, engrossing book
A clean home
Good humor and jokes
Teaching
Learning – always, always learning!
Working for peace, unity and justice
Playing with art and office supplies
Knitting
Making Art
Photography
Writing and Journaling
Watching football all snuggled up
Swimming
Snuggling!
My spirituality
Learning about new religions and faith traditions
Quiet time
Good music
Appreciating art
Singing
Found and spontaneous art – chalk, PostSecret, guerilla art
Being creative in any way

What makes YOU happy?

Roses from Grandma's Garden - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Roses from Grandma's Garden - copyright 2009 by Laura Burlingame-Lee

Something happened to me tonight, that I’m sure has happened to millions of other large – fat – women worldwide. I was verbally assaulted, on the basis of nothing more than my appearance. I am visiting my mother in Orem, UT and I was unloading our van, when a truck full of teenage boys roared by. As they leered out the window, they took it upon themselves in all their righteous ignorance to yell out, “Fat Rear! Fat Rear! Fat Rear!”

I was shocked. I was hurt in a way that few people can do to me anymore – this was sheer violence, expressed in a verbal way. Now one of my areas of expertise in psychology is peace and violence. Violence is expressed in two ways: direct and indirect. Direct violence is an attack, whether it’s physical, verbal or another form. Structural or indirect violence is the structure in society that allows the direct violence to occur – these are our prejudices, our stereotypes, our discriminatory actions and our “isms”.

Tonight, I was victim of direct violence – a verbal attack that was meant to be cruel and hurt. Even more harmful, though, is the fact that these young men felt justifed in making the attack. Fat prejudice is so ingrained in our world, that we don’t even think twice about denigrating someone who doesn’t fit our idea of conventionally attractive. Women who are fat, who have deformities, who are different-looking from the norm are all considered fair game. This is wrong, in any uncertain terms. Women in general are paid less than men – fat women are paid even less. One study examined hiring biases and pay biases. Men in general earned more and were hired more often than women, but here’s the really interesting part: Fat men were hired less and paid less than thin women, and fat women were paid the least and hired the least often of any of the groups. The students who participated were divided into groups, and each group was given the same resume – the only difference was the picture attached to the document.

Fat women were judged to be less intelligent, less competent – not to mention completely unattractive. Being fat in this society is bad enough – fat prejudice is one of the last “acceptable” biases there is. We are seen as “fat and ugly,” “fat and smelly,” “fat and lazy,” or “fat and stupid.” The point is that no matter how you justify it, no matter how righteous you feel in believing that it’s a matter completely under control and that if “you only exercised more and ate less, you’d be fine”, no matter how “helpful” you think you’re being by mentioning someone’s size – even if commenting on weight loss – you are engaging in fat prejudice. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? It is – and imagine what it’s like being on the OTHER side. Think about what it would feel like if someone said to you, “Wow – you’ve gained some weight! You were starting to look like you were starving…remember those concentration camp survivors? I was wondering if you were one.” Insensitive, clueless and prejudiced, isn’t it? Point out what seems to be a good thing – weight loss – often reminds the person of how unattractive s/he used to be perceived.

I’ve had people say to me that I’m making excuses for looking the way I do. Here’s my question back – Even if I am, SO WHAT? What business of anybody else’s is it if I look different from the norm? Ok – some of you are going to say, “Well MY insurance premiums and health care costs are higher because of you” – is that REALLY true? If you say this to me, I’ll first tell you that a) I”m healthy and have the medical records to prove it, b) that I DO eat well and exercise, even if you don’t want to believe it, and c) Mind your own f***ing business. Frankly, there are so many conditions, so many socioeconomic reasons – including the pharmaceutical companies’ greediness, so many people in poverty that being larger than normal is a drop in the health care bucket.

I’m not talking about morbid obesity, or fetishist obesity – those are problems, and in the case of a lot of involuntary obesity honestly beyond control (and don’t even get me started on voluntary – or fetishist – obesity.) The bottom line – if you’ll forgive the pun – is that we, as a society need to move beyond our prejudices and discrimination. We consider it a hate crime to use certain terms about people of color and people of Jewish descent – as a society, we HAVE accomplished some things.

So, why – WHY, WHY is it acceptable to do the same to large women? This is every bit as much a hate crime, and should be treated as such. And here is where my struggle comes in.

Being the kind of person I am, I realize that these young men at their root are more empty, more lost than I ever will be. THEY are the ones who are hurting – and they express their insecurity, their immaturity, and their emptiness by hurting others. I, at least, have a sense of myself as a warm, caring, intelligent, helpful, and yes, beautiful human being. I hope these young men eventually grow out of their immaturity, and I’m praying that they do. If I have to be honest, there’s a part of me that wishes they would somehow experience the hurt that they’ve inflicted on others. I’m sure I’m not the only one who they’ve hurt. There’s a part of me that wants vengeance, that wants to crack their empty heads together.

But…the part of me that values who *I* am really doesn’t want to do this. That part of me wants to use this experience. That part of me will use it – to help me understand the people who end up seeing me in my office, who I end up working with as colleagues and as students, and who I encounter when I’m not feeling my nicest. I pray that I remember this when *I* feel like being hurtful or cruel, or when I feel angry. I pray I remember it as I move on, and I pray for those young men – and everyone else – who can’t see past our physical bodies to see the wonderful people we are inside.

Something really cool happened this week – Aidan lost his first tooth. I know I wrote about that earlier, but what’s amazing to me, and where I learn so much from this child comes from what he did later.

Now you all know that the tooth fairy is a pretty cool gal, right? Leave your old, fallen-out tooth under the pillow and she gives you MONEY for it – sounds like a golden exchange in MY book! And inflation has affected the exchange rate since when I was a kid…I used to get a dime. Kids nowadays get more. I’ve heard of as much as five dollars…but in our world, the tooth fairy is an activist that shares a little with each kid so (ideally anyway) every kid gets something. So, in our bleeding-heart liberal, activist house the tooth fairy gives the kids a dollar.

Now some kids would be saying, “ONLY a dollar? C’mon, Mom…you can’t buy anything with just a DOLLAR!” Aidan with his autism really doesn’t have any real idea about what quantity means with money, just that money means you can buy things. And Aidan didn’t want the tooth fairy to leave paper money – no, he wanted COINS.

Aidan likes coins…they’re shiny, you can line them up, you can count them, stack them, roll them…they’re a lot more fun than a piece of paper you can’t even color on. Aidan also knows that you can buy things with coins and “cards” ( or “plastic fantastic” as one tour guide I ran into called them.) Paper money really doesn’t mean much to him – coins are more substantial and have a lot more meaning.

For days after the Tooth Fairy came, Aidan held onto his coins with a vengeance. NOBODY was going to touch his coins. He either carried them in his little fist, or had them neatly lined up on the kitchen counter. Yesterday (Saturday) he wanted to take them to church.

Now I run our church nursery during all the services on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Aidan is friends with one of the pastor’s little boys, and I assumed he wanted to show Gabe his coins. Gabe wasn’t there that night – in fact, there was no one in the nursery so we went to sit and enjoy the service. Becca doesn’t do too well during these, but Aidan loves to go. He’ll listen and try to say the prayers, sing the hymns and generally do what everyone else is doing. It’s not just imitation, though – Aidan seems to genuinely “get” church and spirituality. I learn a LOT from this little guy.

So when offering came, Aidan pulled out his four quarters from the tooth fairy, and put them in the offering plate. The usher looked at me, and I shrugged. I whispered to Aidan, “Honey, if you put these in, you can’t take them out again. Do you know that? He nodded and the usher went on. After the service I checked in with him again: “Aidan, did you want to get your money back? I’m sure they’d let you get it.” He shook his head, and I said, “Are you sure, sweetie?”

This is the moment where, yet again, Aidan blew me away. “No Mommy. I give it to God.”

Wow. How many of us, thinking about everything else we can do with money, think of God last? And here is this little 5 1/2 year old boy, who knows he can buy things with coins, giving literally every bit to God.

I like to think of myself as a giving person, but that day, in that room, I saw how little I actually do give. This little person, who gave everything he had, has given far more than I ever will. Most importantly, he gave to me – the lesson of giving, and of God.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you who love your children…the single mothers taking on both roles, the new fathers, and the fathers with children who are growing up…the fathers of grown children and the grandfathers…the men who are fathers in every way except for biology, the men who realize that “fathering” is a verb that goes WAY beyond conception, and most of all, our Father and Creator.

I’ve noticed lately that there are a lot of blog posts devoted to why and how people have lost their religion and/or their faith. Reading these has got me thinking about why I still believe. First, if you’re expecting me to quote scripture and expound why my religion (or any other specific religion) is God’s one and only way for us, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. Second, I’m not going to condemn people who don’t believe – it’s their choice, I haven’t walked in their shoes, and I wouldn’t presume to know what they’ve experienced. Their views deserve as much as respect as anyone else’s, and I intend to honor that. Third, I’m not going to spend time trying to convince why I’m right and you’re wrong – I don’t believe that’s true, for one thing, and I also don’t believe talking to people in that manner is respectful or convincing. It just creates defensiveness. Finally, this is MY opinion and only my opinion – I don’t claim that this is God’s word for everyone, or that I”m right and someone else is wrong. This is my personal faith and my personal journey.

Ok, now that the caveats are out of the way, the obvious statement is “I believe.” I don’t believe in a thunder-wielding, lightning-bolt-throwing vengeful deity; the deity I believe in might hold back from controlling us, but is there and is involved in knowing what we’re up to. If you’ve read, “The Shack,” you know the kind of god I’m talking about. I also believe that scripture – no matter which religious group we’re talking about – was developed to meet the needs of the culture in which it appeared and was also penned and filtered through the minds of the men who wrote it. (I say “men” deliberately here, because most of the world’s scripture was penned by men.) In fact, I read, respect, and appreciate many culture’s scriptures and holy writings as being inspired by the same Presence that is with us all.

My faith is that we are all on many many paths. Some of those paths are closer to others and some are further away, but if we’re all oriented toward the goals of creating peace, increasing love and understanding among us all, and helping each other along the way, then we’re all headed toward the same goal. The destination of that journey -whatever you want to call it – is a great goal, but to me, it’s how we travel the journey that counts. Do we help our fellow travelers? Do we try to do the best we can to follow our own? Do we try to become closer to that Presence that guides us – whatever its name may be?

For me, I believe because I simply can’t NOT believe. That’s my experience though, and I respect others. Let me tell you a little about my journey to this place. I was raised an occasional Episcopalian, and then converted to the LDS church. I was looking for security and answers, and the LDS and their theology provided that. For me, though – I don’t stop questioning because it’s in my nature to keep exploring, to keep learning, and to keep growing. The LDS encouraged this, but my experience was that it was encouraged only within certain boundaries. For me, the answers I was hoping to find weren’t there – and yes, I still believe that Book of Mormon was inspired scripture. (and for the record, I believe the same of the Bible, the Koran, the Divine Principle, and all other holy books and wisdom.) After leaving the LDS, I became agnostic with pagan (Wiccan) leanings for a long time. This split and change allowed me to reconnect with the missing female side of deity that I felt existed but had not encountered up to that point. In the end, none of these answered all the questions I had. One point I want to make here is that I may have “lost my religion,” but I very much kept my faith. I’ve had some experiences that have led me to this point, and have helped me keep my faith even while turning a skeptical and sometimes cynical eye toward religion.

The difference to me is that faith is what you believe, religion is what you do. I’m currently a member of the Lutheran church, and their rituals and activities are what I “do.” I’m not at all convinced that I’ll always be here, and am open to what my journey brings me. I do pray, although I don’t always pray in a way that is traditional. Sometimes, after experiencing something good in my life or in the lives of my loved ones, I’ll simply say, “Thank you, Friend.” I also believe that prayer is as much what I do as it is what I say, and I try to make my life as much of a living prayer as I can. In one of my other posts, I talked about “Doing Love” (this was an article in my church’s newsletter, so it takes a specific focus: https://lauraburlingame.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/doing-love-originally-posted-in-oslc-signal/ ). Sometimes, it’s a simple, “Please…I need help getting through this. Please be with me, and those we all love.” (As you can tell, formality and distance are not things that work for me.)

In the end, I believe because I’ve always felt the Presence around me of something benevolent and loving. I wasn’t raised in the most stable of homes, so it’s not that I was insulated from the problems that “other people” have. In fact, it was just the opposite – we WERE the other people. It wasn’t that my parents took me to church religiously, either (pardon the pun) – again, in fact the opposite. We were “occasional at best” Episcopalians, and I often asked to be taken. In spite of all this, I have always felt the presence of “something” that has been with me, even through my darkest moments (and I have had those too, trust me.)

Whatever name you call it, whatever religion you attach it to – that constant presence is the reason I still believe. I call it “my Friend,” and it’s always there. At my lowest, when I begged to be able to die, because I was too chicken to do anything myself, my Friend was there – horribly sad that I’d want to do that, but understanding and wishing I’d make another choice. That presence is WHY I made the choice to want to live, through all it’s painful and joyful moments.

That presence is why I do what I do – I’m called to be where I am. It’s complicated to explain, and it has absolutely nothing to do with any church or any religious doctrine. It comes from within me, and from my Friend, and I trust that. Because of my life experiences, I don’t trust any person fully – but I trust my Friend, even when I’m frustrated by the answer, “Be patient and wait. It will all work out.”

I’m not out to argue theology, and I’m not out to convince anyone that God is real, a church is right, or that anyone else is wrong. I am simply explaining why I believe, and am hoping to offer up a contrasting perspective to the very valid expressions of un-faith. The truth is that horrific abuses, both physical and pyschological, have been perpetrated in the name of God, religion, and churches. Small every day abuses and judgments from “believers” continue to be perpetrated, and I try to separate myself from that.

We spend a lot of time in our society arguing morals and theological discourse – the nuts and bolts of religion. For me, I believe God works in the world through us and through the natural processes of the cosmos (and that’s just “The Gospel according to Laura” – my opinion, in other words). Even so, I can’t presume to know what S/He wants or thinks, because it’s so much greater than our perspectives. I am skeptical of anyone who claims to know “God’s will” or “what God wants.” For me, it’s pretty simple – we’ll be ok as long as we’re doing the best we can, are kind to and nonjudgmental of the people we’re with (not necessarily what they do – I can’t condone child abuse, for example – but I can work to help the abuser) and are mindful of the Divine in and around us (whatever you want to call it).

In the end, I believe because I feel my Friend close. It’s that simple. I try to live my life in a way that exemplifies the love and acceptance I have felt from my Friend toward me – I don’t always live up to this, but I try. I do what I do out of a pious need to “do right” or out of a sense of obligation – I do what I do because it’s the right thing to do and for me, is an example of sharing the love I’ve felt from my Friend. I don’t do this because I want other people to “know God” or “be saved” – my belief is that everybody’s journey – their path – is their own. I may try to help others along theirs – but not in a way that that tries to make them believe as I do. I don’t think I have the right to push other people to believe as I do, but I welcome respectful discourse from anyone. Please note: Respectful to me means NOT trying to convince me of the rightness of YOUR beliefs. I will respect your right to believe what you want, and I only ask the same of you. That said, I think we can learn a tremendous amount from each other, and hope to do so.

Part of my path is being a seeker, and I realize that truth is found in many places and in many ways. My guiding compass is my relationship with my Friend, and I’m willing to see and find truth in other places. I respect the people who do not believe, and wish them luck in their search and their choices – their path is separate from mine, and I’d like to hear more about their journeys. I also respect the people who are sure in their religion and in their fath – I believe I have a lot to learn from them as well.

The bottom line for me, right now, is I believe. My faith guides my actions, helps my heart, and fills my soul. And that’s enough for me, right now. I believe.

Rainbow set in the clouds

Rainbow set in the clouds

A friend on Creative Awakenings (http://creativeawakenings.ning.com) sent me this prayer; on this Memorial Day weekend, I want to share it with you. It comes from another blog: http://joybringer.gaia.com/blog/2007/1/healing_prayer_the_terma_collective

Thanks to EagleWoman for sharing this Healing Prayer from The Terma Collective.

May our eyes remain open even in the face of tragedy.
May we not become disheartened.
May we find in the dissolution
of our apathy and denial,
the cup of the broken heart.
May we discover the gift of the fire burning
in the inner chamber of our being –
burning great and bright enough
to transform any poison.
May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service
of something greater than ourselves.
May our guilt not rise up to form
yet another defensive wall.
May the suffering purify and not paralyze us.
May we realize the greatness of our sorrow
and not run from its touch or flame.
May clarity be our ally and wisdom our support.
May our wrath be cleansing, cutting through
the confusion of denial and greed.
May we not be afraid to see or speak our truth.
May the bleakness of the wasteland be dispelled.
May the soul’s journey be revealed
and the true hunger fed.
May we be forgiven for what we have forgotten
and blessed with the remembrance
of who we really are.

~ The Terma Collective

May we remember those who went before us, and those who died to protect us. May we appreciate their lives, their sacrifices, and their work/duty to bring us a safer haven within our world. May we live our lives remembering and honoring theirs, appreciating the freedom, joy and love they worked so hard to protect, and may we never take for granted the blessings which are ours.

In memorium: Howard Charles Burlingame, WWII veteran, 02/28/1924-05/11/1999.

Daddy and Laura

Daddy and Laura

Reflections of Reflections…

Other Facets of the Mirror