Long Time, No Blog

Long time, no blog! (No rolling the eyes please…) No, you are not seeing things, promise. No world, physical or otherwise, has frozen over. The last time I looked, no animals have unexpectedly sprouted wings to fly over the horizon.  I am here with a new blog!

It was never my intention to let things go so long, but as the popular saying goes: Life is what happens when you are making other plans!! I could go on with a long list of things that have taken place over the last several months. It started with getting sick for over a month back in late March, early April. Suffice it to say that I have learned that my body has a wisdom all its own and if I would just listen to it, I would have a much easier time of it. Just let me say that when the body tells you to go to the doctor, there are to things to keep in mind: one,  if you get a message to voluntarily go to the doctor, you really do need to go and two, get out the door and go already!!

The whole “listen to my body” thing used to fill me with dread but I think that is because it wasn’t really the body talking but the ego. C’mon, would your body really tell you that it really is ok to eat a few cream filled donuts for breakfast on a regular basis? I don’t think so. Funny thing is, as I work to clear and heal by baggage, it becomes easier to tell what is really guiding me. It is my choice to decide if I follow that guidance.

Having said that, I find it interesting that it is much easier to listen to that negative, ego side than to listen to the higher divine voice. I often wonder why it is we seem to be so enamored of the less than divine. Perhaps it is due to the more traditional religious view that we are depraved, immoral creatures, unworthy of divine favor. Or, is it just that it is easier to go along with that voice that says we are “less than” instead of digging deeper and realizing that being peaceful, happy and/or joyful is not something to be afraid of? I don’t have an answer but I do know that over the last several months I have found the value in asking the question.

Namaste Friends!

P.S.

Enough of my rambling on. I promise I will do my best to not let it go so long before I blog again.  In case you wish to know when the blog is posted, you can subscribe by just entering your email address. If you want to be friends on Facebook and see my relatively unimportant status updates.

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Lessons from the Great Lent Experiment

As many of you know I decided to celebrate lent this year by giving up coffee and sodas for Lent. I christened my adventure The Great Lent Experiment because I felt like it really was an experiment, only I was the subject and the lab rat! Well, I learned a few things from this little foray into giving up some things I really enjoyed and found a few gifts along the way:

Gift #1: It is possible to survive life without a vanilla double shot latte most mornings.
Gift #2: Pizza tastes just as good without a soda.
Gift #3: Not having to buy lattes or sodas saves me money to buy e-books for my Nook. (my Nook, a subject for another blog!)

Seriously, though, I have gained some insights into my own head that have been interesting to say the least. It also gave me some food for thought about my life overall. The further into this I have gotten I began thinking what the difference is between a habit and an addiction. When I looked up the definitions, it was a surprise to me to find there is a very fine line between the two:

habit: a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance; an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.

addiction: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance; persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.

I guess this fascinates me because what I thought would happen is that I would not go a day without a latte. However, what I discovered is that I did not miss coffee all that much. In fact, I did not coffee miss it at all. As I thought back, I realized that often times I would stop for a latte and not really want one but get one anyway. I realized that I would buy one without thinking too much about it. I know I will drink a latte again but I also know that I will never go back to being a mindless robot about it.

On the other hand, I had a craving for a soda almost from the first moment I decided to give them up. Which is interesting because soda was not something I drank everyday. I did last about 3 weeks before I gave in and had a soda. Even when I go days and not drink one there is still a part of me that feels the desire for one. The desire has never gone away, I just ignore it most of the time. I did make the choice to drink a soda earlier this week but I refuse to drink them again regularly. I am finding with the soda, I have to be more conscious, more aware. I have to choose carefully when I have one, I have to choose with awareness.

The common denominator here is awareness, in order to avoid a habit there has to awareness to avoid the same pattern. In order to not be constantly giving in to an almost compulsive desire, you have to be aware. I have started thinking about my life and wondering what other areas am I operating in an unconscious way, just doing things from routine, without much thought? Areas where I am doing things out of compulsion without thinking? How can I bring a level of awareness to those areas as I have had do with drinking sodas and coffee? I guess the next question is, does it a make a difference, this level of awareness? I say yes, it does, it makes all the difference in the world. It is the difference between being a passive bystander in your own life and taking responsibility for it. In other words, I always have a choice!

If this had happened two years ago, I would not have lasted a day, probably not even an hour. To be honest, this idea of giving something up for time would have been too scary to me, I would not have even attempted it. I have been encouraged by this little experiment of mine. It shows me there has been progress, I feel empowered, more aware of my body, my thoughts and how they can work together. Don’t get me wrong, I have a ways to go here but I feel like I have learned something that goes beyond just coffee and soda. Something that I always intellectually understood but now is very real to me, possibly, the greatest gift of all: I am now an active participant in my own life.

Go figure, who could have known a little thing like giving up coffee and soda could lead to such a shift in perspective? To think all I wanted was try and not drink so much coffee, soda was just sort of an after thought. It just goes to show that sometimes the small things in life are our greatest teachers.

Namaste 🙂

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Coming Out of the Spiritual Closet

You ever have one of those mornings where you get out of bed, something quickly goes wrong and you wonder why you bothered to get out of bed, didn’t just throw the covers back over yourself and sleep all day?

That is how I can best describe coming out of the spiritual closet. Going against the grain spiritually, even in our more liberal times, is a bumpy ride. Our society speaks of tolerance and acceptance, yet unspoken are the conditions under which that tolerance and acceptance is given. I am outside the box of what could be considered “traditional” religion. I have been very cautious about sharing because of my own fears about what would happen if I did. Facing the value judgements of others and having to convince them of why I am quite ok with where I am at. Then it occurred to me that it isn’t really my responsibility to convince anyone of anything. That insight freed me to begin sharing more openly about my journey. Starting the blog was the beginning of that process. My next step was bit more bold. (At least for me)

Last week, I took what is for me a very bold step: I edited my Facebook profile. Now at this point I suppose you are wondering what the big to-do is about changing a Facebook profile and may be tempted to stop reading right here. However, I want to challenge you to keep reading. I promise I am going somewhere with this. Albeit, probably not in the most direct route so just hang in there.

A few weekends ago I added my blog link to my Facebook profile. Prior to posting the link I would send a private message to a few select friends, letting them know the blog was up and ready. Putting the link on my profile was a huge step for me, it was putting myself out there in a way I had not done previously. This blog is more than just a place where I try to come up with some clever topic every week. I am sharing a part of myself that would probably remain uncovered if not for the blog. Putting the link on Facebook may seem a small thing but it is giving people a link to me, an invitation to step into my world and that is  sometimes a scary thing.

Then one night last week something came over me, a moment of courage (or craziness, it’s all a matter of perspective), I went for broke. I updated my profile in Facebook and edited the whole darn thing! Now on the surface what I added is inconsequential. Really, when you look at, it just words. However, those words to describe what I am exploring, what I find interesting, open a door. The door opens and allows me to breathe, to quit hiding away a part of myself that I have kept hidden, to finally be myself. On the other hand, opening the door also means being vulnerable. Vulnerable to what others think about you, what you are doing, judging whether it has value. The door works both ways, it can heal and it can hurt. I am the one who has to chose which it will be.

I am choosing that it will be an invitation. An invitation to be myself, my true self. Not the masks that I show to the world, but really me. It would be easier to go back to the more traditional path I was on but it wouldn’t be honest. I would be putting a mask back on that never really fit right in the first place. I felt like fraud then and I refuse to go back to that. Some may think I am lost, some may think I have just lost my mind but I assure you I am neither lost, nor insane. For the first time I am being…………me.

Namaste

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The Weekly Round Up

Well I was going to give another installment continuing on with what I began last week but events of the week have changed my course as they often do.

Let’s see there is my ongoing angst about giving money to panhandlers, my decision to celebrate lent by giving up soda and coffee, in addition to my realization that I did have an abundance of money to get an oil change done on my car. Now maybe these issues have nothing to do with anything but I think in some ways they are all marks of some sort of spiritual growth.

The Panhandler

My route home from work takes me under an overpass and at the end of the over pass is a stop sign and a place where the homeless panhandle for money. Sometimes months go by and no one is there and other times, there are varying groups or individuals there every day for weeks. Lately there has been this older guy with a bike. His little sign says he is a homeless veteran.

Now I have given money to panhandlers in the past. I work downtown and sometimes there is one (or several) on every street you walk. There is one street that is especially busy because it is a major high traffic area. There have been times I have been moved to give. Usually I do what everyone else does, just ignore when they ask. Some are more aggressive than others and sometimes you just give out of fear. Unfortunately, there have been people who have been hurt when they have said no to a homeless person asking for money. One time an elderly homeless guy asked for change. I had a change purse bursting at the seams so I just pulled out my change purse and emptied it in his hand. He was pleasantly surprised and I got rid of extra weight in my bag, a win-win for us both!

I am troubled though because I wonder if I am really helping them out or I am just enabling a person to continue down an already bleak path. Sometimes I wonder if I am working against some greater work if I give money and I wonder the same thing if I don’t. I consider myself a somewhat compassionate, caring person so this whole issue does trouble me deeply at times.

It occurred to me today as I was out and about that maybe I need to re-frame my thoughts about this issue. Maybe I don’t have to worry about if I am helping them at all or if I am part of a greater work of the universe. In other words, forget the big picture and just focus on the moment. Maybe in just that moment of giving money to a homeless man, it can be a meditation to remember that whatever wrapping we come in we are all on a journey and in the end we all wind up returning to where we came from. Maybe I can view it as a moment of mindfulness in an otherwise routine day. A reminder that we are all expressions of the Divine. After all it really isn’t about the money, as I will explain later. I am coming to realize I have plenty of money.

The Great Lent Experiment

I was raised Catholic. My mother was and is a devoted Catholic. Fortunately, she never forced me to follow her into the faith and in my later teenage years I become a born again Christian. For many years I didn’t really think about things like Lent. Most Evangelical Christians don’t celebrate lent but in the last several years that is changing to varying degrees. Several years ago, I felt moved to attend an Ash Wednesday service and I enjoyed it so much, I began trying in small ways to observe this season. Some years I do very little and other years a lot. This year is one of my big ones.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Lent, let me give you the basics. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts until Easter. Giving up something for lent is seen as a way of identifying with the sufferings of Christ, I guess you could say that it is a sort of active meditation. On Easter Sunday you can then go back to doing whatever it is you gave up. Simple enough unless what you decide to give up is something you really enjoy.

So this year, I had not really planned on doing anything, but on the spur of the moment I decided to do something I had been entertaining for awhile now.  I decided to give up coffee and soda for lent. Yes my friends, I am walking away from my Vanilla Lattes and Diet Pepsi in the intention of giving them up for good. However, I am just focused on lent. Lent is 40 days and most of us can do something for at least 40 days. Right?…Hopefully?….Maybe??

I think there is very powerful spiritual energy related to lent. After all it is a season of reflection and hope for renewal so why not use that energy to help myself give up two things that I need to cut back on at the very least. I will never say that I will never ever have another soda or drink another coffee. However, I do not want to go back to drinking them as regularly as I did. Oddly enough, I miss the soda more than the coffee which is a bit of a surprise. The Great Lent Experiment continues, I don’t think it has been a week yet so I will have to keep you posted on the progress.

On a side note, I am drinking more tea and so I went to Hina’s Tea here in downtown Sacramento and asked about a tea for those transitioning from coffee. The owner was there and recommended a tea, as soon as I try it I will let you know how I like it. If you like tea please give Hina’s a bit of your business.  Independent business owners need all the help they can get. They have a fan page on Facebook and a website. Check them out.

Money & Perspective

So on to a subject that has lately twisted my brain in ways I never thought possible.  It all started because I wanted to get my car into the shop for routine maintenance. I thought, ok, no worries I will take in over the weekend and get it taken care of. The next thought that took place was a quick little vision of my bank balance and I thought, I can’t do it, I don’t have enough. All of a sudden it occurs to me that I do have a savings account and there is more than enough money to do what I need to do. Then a battle gets going about how I shouldn’t spend the money, I just need to leave that money alone. Then I realized “well, isn’t this why I have a savings?” I have this reserve to take care of things like car repairs. I wasn’t spending the whole thing, just a small portion for car repairs.

It got me thinking about my perspective about money and how I view it. I started thinking about my overall financial picture. I realized that I am actually doing responsible, good things with my money. I have two savings, an IRA, 401K and my checking account. When I looked at that, I realized I really do have a nice amount of money saved. Now can I book a whirlwind cruise around the world? No, but can I get a small car repair done? Yes! Not only that but if something came up, I did have the resources to help take care of it. As it turns out I could have probably paid for the car repair without the savings but I was glad that I was able to pay without stressing about where the money would come from.

Do I still have some debt? Yes. Could I be doing things better? Yes. However, what I realized that I may not be able to finance a whim like a whirlwind vacation but I can take care of what needs to be taken care of and even have a little something left over to have a little fun with. In other words, my needs are provided for and even a few of my wants so why am I stressing about it?

If money is truly energy, I have a good amount of energy going on so my ongoing dilemma is how do I get what I know to be true to be a more natural mindset than the “I don’t have enough” mindset that I tend to default to. This is where my brain starts to hurt! Truth is I don’t know other than whenever I think of myself as not having enough, I need to remind myself that I have more than enough. Not sure if this means I will give to the panhandler but I would hope that if I do, I can see it as a illustration of the abundance I do have rather than stressing about if I have enough.

Wrapping Up

Well, that is my rather eventful week. Some insights that may or may not be profound. However, I find it a sign of growth that I am asking questions that need to be asked and trying to find answers that transcend the reality I see with the naked eye. I may find myself raiding the local CVS for every diet Pepsi on the shelf or I may just sit with my discomfort and see what happens. Who knows I just may give some money to the panhandler and find that I don’t miss or notice what I give, I just give. Whatever happens I find myself filled with gratitude that I may have taken some important steps forward on my journey.

Until next time friends, Namaste.

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Happy Anniversary To Me!

Two years. Yes, two years ago this month I began what has become a journey, an adventure, a challenge, a paradigm shift. Two years ago I asked myself a seemingly simple question and actually got an answer back. I mean most of the time when I had asked myself a question it was more in the rhetorical sense, know what I mean? I was a little surprised to say the least.

At that time in my life I was frustrated with everything. Nothing was what I thought my life would be. I simply asked for help from God (keep in my mind my idea of God was the pretty traditional Judeo-Christian at the time) and asked how could I change what was wrong.  The answer was “Ordering Your Private World.” A book by Gordon MacDonald that I was never quite able to get through. I sighed in complete exasperation and thought to myself, “a book, I don’t need another book.”  Then I got an explanation, “no silly, not a book, true change only comes when you change from the inside out, not the other way around.”

Seemingly a duh moment but something about that inner conversation sent me on a journey that still continues to this day. It sent me exploring topics that I was drawn to (Metaphysics, Angels, Reiki, New Age, Shamanism, etc.)  but had avoided because my traditional spiritual upbringing had told me that those things were strictly forbidden. However, something told me that I was not just changing my life but saving it and if I really wanted change I would have to take that path rarely taken. The path that leads to a paradigm change and true freedom.

So Happy Anniversary To Me! This blog is my anniversary present to myself. Just sharing what I have discovered, what I am challenged by and sometimes what ticks me off and whatever else floats through my brain.

Until next time, Namaste my friends.

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