Hello God, Buddah, Allah, Brahman, Mother Earth, it’s me Lori…. part two


…the next thing I know I am sitting outside of a Catholic church.  Can you believe that they lock churches during the day?!  Seriously?!  Who would steal from or vandalize a church?  After all isn’t God watching you?  Lol…

So, there I am, sitting on a bench in the middle of a beautiful petite rose garden, staring at a statue of Jesus and listening the calming flow of water that is coming out of a beautiful rock fountain.  Since I have not been Catholic in quite sometime, I am not really sure how to proceed.  So I started with the Our Farther, a.k.a, The Lord’s prayer.  For the first time in my life I am listening to what I am reciting.  I say reciting because I just always said the words robotically.  Suddenly every word had meaning to me and I understood what the prayer was about.  It was like my mind and eyes were opened for the first time to this prayer.  After sitting for about a hour I went home, showered and went back to the church to go to mass at 5 o’clock.  I sat way in the back right in front of the women’s bathroom so I could make a quick get away if needed…I didn’t want anyone to see me crying.  I actually cried during church those first several times.  I was having a lot of conflicting feelings and didn’t know how to deal with them.  That very first time going back to church solidified for me that I really do believe in Spirits.  At that moment I started believing again in The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I felt the homily was written just for me, for what I was going through at that moment and it helped me with the negative feelings I was having toward someone else who was also in church that day. I decided on that day that it was not my place to judge someone and their history.  Also during that mass my TWO favorite church songs were played!  So between the homily, the songs and that person randomly being there, I thought to myself there has to be some truth to all of this right?!

I started to get involved at church.  Attended mass regularly every Saturday at 5pm.  I took up the bible for the first time ever, checked out a bible study and bought cross earrings.  I was totally devoted.  I even went to confession!!!  The priest at my church was very nice and took the time to listen to me.  I met with him on a couple of occasions just to talk.  I had SO MANY questions about me and my faith.  I read devotionals, prayed in the chapel at the hospital where I worked and spoke with others who were devoted like me.  Pope Francis really made a difference for me too.  He practices love and acceptance and says he doesn’t judge.  I know he isn’t perfect.  Hopefully he’ll discover that women should be priests too!

But…. in the back of my mind and in the deepest depths of my heart I knew something still wasn’t fitting just right.  I STILL believed that there is more than one way to pray.  That people in India pray to Krishna and Brahman, people in Japan pray to Buddha, Muslims pray to Allah, Native Americans pray to The Great Spirit.  I kept asking myself, “Why do so many Catholics believe it is their way or the highway?”  How on earth or heaven for that matter (I don’t believe in hell) could I discount someone else’s peaceful spiritual beliefs?  The bible did not make any sense to me either.  I may make a few people angry when I say this but the bible has been written and rewritten and edited for a couple thousand years.  I just can’t accept it as the final word.

Now, there were several times during that emotional year that I just wasn’t sure if I mattered to anyone or even mattered to myself.  I was in the depths of a downward spiral of self deprecation.  I knew I would make it through this and come out happier.  I always believed in the happy outcome.  I had friends and family that loved me and cared for me but I needed to love myself.  I remember sitting in bed one day crying so loudly and feeling so low.  I was in the middle of an “oh woe is me” fit.  Then suddenly out of NOWHERE I felt the most loving reassurance.  This feeling of unconditional love came from another realm.  It wrapped it’s love around me and I completely stopped crying.  I can’t explain it any better than that.  I stopped going to church on a regular basis sometime this past April.  I will fully admit that I kept running into people that I didn’t particularly want to see.  So I started church hopping.  I still haven’t found one that embodies what Sacred Heart did. I am still looking and I only have a few more weeks left in this small town.

I remember having a conversation with my dad about how I don’t believe in everything that the Catholic church says.  He said he doesn’t either but he believes in The Lord and takes the good part from Catholicism.  I always thought it was an all or nothing deal.  Believe in it all or get out.  This opened up another door for me on my road to spiritual awareness.

Also during this time of trials and tribulations I discovered Deepak Choprah and the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.  Self awareness, karma, silence…  I was feeling guilty for starting to believe yet again in another spirituality.  Oh the Catholic guilt.  Ever hear of the saying about guilt…”The Jews invented it and the Catholics perfected it.”  Hahahaha…

Call me what you will...but I believe in “love.”  I don’t hate.  I may not understand and I may not agree but I don’t hate.  I do believe in another world.  Heaven if you will.  I do believe in karma.  You get back what you put out there.  I do believe in people like Jesus and Buddha etc…  I believe that there is that kind of love out there.  Maybe I believe in it a little too much.  I also believe that “God” presents her or himself in different ways to different people.  Yes I said “her.”   I don’t discount those feelings or epiphanies I had during my early struggles over that past year.  I just accept them as a warm and welcoming starting point for belief in something bigger than the physical world again.

I will always be on a spiritual journey.  I was on a super scary flight once and I said to my sister afterward that I would have prayed to a wooden spoon had that been what got us to the ground safely.  I did however say to God and myself on that flight that I would become Catholic again if we were to land safely.  I did keep that promise but it wasn’t until years later that I rejoined the Catholic church.  Now here I am again, embattled in an inner religious dilemma.  But I don’t think that “God” would be upset with me for challenging and exploring my religion or others.  As of today I still belong to Sacred Heart Catholic Church on a technicality… I became a member a year ago.  But today, right now, I consider myself a member of world religions.  Of the peaceful, loving and giving ones.  I accept and love the good in people.  I pray for everyone.   I have found that if I let my spiritual self go, my life starts to become harder and more complicated.  So I am trying to put “Gods” first and me and my needs second.

Peace, love and exploration,

~Lori

“Give what you have, to someone it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hello God, Buddah, Allah, Brahman, Mother Earth, it’s me Lori…. part one


This is something that I have been wanting to write about.  These are my thoughts, my feelings and my own self discoveries.  I respect all religious beliefs that are peaceful.

I am a cradle Catholic.  This means I have been Catholic since my days hangin’ in the womb.  Both of my parents are Roman Catholic.  I did attend Catholic school for the first 3 years of my formal education.  I only had a nun for a teacher once.  In second grade I had Sister Mary for a half a year when we moved from E. 72nd in Cleveland to the suburb of North Ridgeville.  I went to Sacred Heart of Jesus and then finished out my second grade year at St. Mary’s in Avon, Ohio.  I loved all my teachers at Sacred Heart.  I loved the school, the Polish festivals that my siblings and I partook in, running cross country, I even loved going to mass.  Most of all I LOVED my first communion dress!  My sister had worn it before me and I couldn’t wait to wear it and the veil that went along with it.  I remember feeling like I was marrying God!  When we moved to North Ridgeville in April of 1985 we eventually joined St. Julie Billiart Parish.  I was NOT a fan of the priest at this church.  He didn’t seem to relate to kids well and quite frankly I didn’t feel like I was in church because this new one was so….not churchy?!  There weren’t any pews and zero stained glass.  Plus it was bright and airy.  On the inside it looked more like a place you would have a wedding reception than an actual wedding.  My parents continued putting us into to PSR (Sunday school) until the day we graduated high school.  I even helped teach special needs kids in Sunday school. Well, pretty soon after I started high school, my friend Kathy and I would skip Sunday school to go by cigarettes and pop at Polly’s.  Polly’s was a tiny mom and pop store that someone ran out of the bottom of their house.

I didn’t get much out of PSR…well not when I was older anyways.  Everything that was taught was very much on a surface level.  We didn’t delve deep into anything really.  It was more of this is how it is and this it what you are suppose to believe…Now GO!  I remember telling my dad that I didn’t want to make my confirmation in the 10th grade.  That I wanted to explore other religions.  He said, “Too bad.  As long as you’re living under my roof you are getting confirmed.”  Now, even at the young age of 15 or 16 I knew there had to be more to this world then my own little area.  Different people, beliefs, cultures, etc.  I wanted to study those.  Actually, I wanted to travel and live among these foreign concepts.  But alas, I was to be confirmed.  I remember having to write letters (I forget what about…something heartfelt I am sure) and go to confession.  What do you say in confession?  Crap about your siblings, school, parents, but was I really going to get down to the nitty gritty with all of my thoughts, feelings and actions?!  Hell NO!  At least not with the priest who was at the parish at the time and certainly not without in me being in my own little stall and a sliding screen window between us!  Not gonna happen!

But something DID happen one night during my confirmation journey.  We all opened up and read our letters and I started crying as most of us did.  It was an emotional evening but in a good way.  From that point on I was a good Catholic girl.  I wanted to marry a good clean-cut Catholic boy.  We’d get married, attend church and live a happy little life.

LOL….then life happened.  I fell in love with a boy in high school and we dated for 4 years, moved down south together and moved back to Ohio 11 months later.  Oh to be young and stupid…lol!  It was around then that my faith strengthened in ways that only one who is going through a life crap storm can experience.  I would sit in an empty church and cry until I couldn’t breathe.  My world was falling apart around me and no matter how many people surrounded me with love and advice, I needed to walk this journey alone.  With The Lord.

I believe being in the wrong church can be like having a guidance counselor in high school (ah hem!) who doesn’t really truly care or support you.  Fast forward a few years.  I am now in my early 20’s now and really listening to the homilies.  They all had a reoccurring theme…MONEY.  It made me sick.  What also made me sick was the “it’s the Catholic way or the high way” rhetoric that came at me almost every Sunday.  Call me crazy but when the parish priest is driving a beautiful new car and eating from the fattened calf while members of his congregation are suffering, that is bull caca! By this time I have jumped from parish to parish trying to find one that truly embodied the way and life of Jesus.  My searches fruitless.

At this point I decided to go explore other religions.  There had to be one out there that was gentle and didn’t look down upon other religions.  That is when I discovered a book titled, Black Elk Speaks.  It opened my eyes to Native American spirituality.  They didn’t make fun, cast aside or discount other religions.  I found my inner foundation of my beliefs!  I even made a pilgrimage if you will, to the Badlands.  I walked the entire Crow reservation in Montana.  But it’s not like you can roll up to a sacred spot and join in the fun.  I didn’t know how to get in the door.  So after a few more years of worshiping Mother Earth I was still at a loss for a belief system.

Truly I believe that God presents his or herself in different ways to different people.  I don’t think that there is a right way to pray.  Through my years of religious searching, I would still find myself entering into empty Catholic churches and just sitting there. In quiet stillness.  Feeling completely at peace.  Maybe this is because it is where everything religious in my life started.  It was my religious home base.

After moving home from California I became very quickly involved in a relationship that I knew in my gut I didn’t want to be in.  I wanted to establish myself first.  I remember telling my friend who set us up, “I don’t want to be with anyone right now.  My God I have only been home for 12 days!”  But with everyone pushing me to just give it a whirl, I digressed from my original plan and entered into the relationship.  So here I am, unexpectedly living back in Ohio, in a relationship, and wanting to scream from the top of my lungs but could not get the sound out.  Him and I went to midnight mass that first December and I remember telling him that I believe the Catholic church is political and money hungry and that is about all it is.  By this time I had been away from Catholicism for about 10 years now.

From time to time during our relationship I would find him kneeling at the bedside in the morning before he left for work, holding my hand in my half awake/half asleep state, praying.  I could not for the life of my appreciate this at the time it was happening.  I never bothered to ask who he was praying to or what he was praying about.  Communication and respecting each others beliefs and choices were not our strong point with each other.  I cannot tell you how many times during my first year and a half being back home from California, I felt incredibly alone.  Alone in my beliefs, thoughts, actions, hopes, dreams….  I would be tucked in his arms every evening feeling completely alone.  It was not one person’s fault over the other that ended that relationship.  The aftermath of that relationship was one of the biggest lessons in my life.

Shortly after moving out of his place, I awoke one afternoon from a nap and found myself on my hands and knees SOBBING and calling out to anyone “up there” who would listen…

To be continued….

~Lori

“Give what you have, to someone it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Going off the radar for the day…


Good Day, शुभ प्रभातम् (Sanskrit) Aaaahhhhh…..

This morning I feel as if I have a million topics running through my mind!  First, lets start off with the atmosphere of the local coffee shop here in town.  Love the decor and the vibe, the coffee is nothing special but I didn’t feel like writing from home and the other coffee place in town (McDonald’s) is way too cold on the inside.  The great thing about The Slow Train Cafe is that is has a BIG COMFY COUCH.  I decided to be the first one in today so I could call dibs on it! 😉  I woke up this morning feeling a little too preoccupied and a little too uncertain.  About what?  Everyday things I guess.  So when that happens I know it is time to put my phone on Do Not Disturb and hone in on my needs and not really worry about anyone else today.

I have been juggling too many people, places and things lately.  This combined with a set back due to a wretched sprained ankle has put me in a “what the heck is going on” place.  So I am going for ZEN today.

I took this pic at Joshua Tree in California.  This is what transpired when I developed the film.  (Yes...film..lol)
I took this pic at Joshua Tree National Park in California. This is what transpired when I had the film developed. (Yes…film..lol)

The above picture always brings me back to center.  I close my eyes and remember hiking that day with friends.  We camped there a couple of nights and it was breathtaking!  Joshua Tree is a really magical and mysterious place to me. Actually, I feel that way about most of the desert places I visited here in the U.S.  The Painted Desert in Arizona is by far my favorite desert.  That place is …. I can’t even think of how to explain it.  GO VISIT!!!

This morning my friend Patty is coming over and after that I am going to get some things in order and then dedicate the rest of my day to myself.  Meditation, yoga and quiet.  (Until I go to work at 3..maybe…)  Even if you have a million things going on today, make room for 10 minutes just for you.  Lock the door and give yourself 10 minutes of quiet.  When I am at work I often have lunch in my car (not now because it is so darn cold) just so I can get away from work and have peace and quiet. When it cold outside, like it is now, I go down to the meditation room/chapel because I KNOW it will be quiet in there! Pandora has a great station called Calm Meditation Radio.  Love it… sometimes I just want music without words…

This post is short and sweet…

Be good to yourself, take time for yourself and love yourself…Go get “lost” somewhere that brings you peace…

Go get "lost" in the woods...
Go get “lost” in the woods…

~Lori

“Give what you have, to someone it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Balance and my dharma


Hello!

What a week it has been!  I put in way too many hours at work this past week.  I basically woke up, went to work, came home, slept and then repeated it all again for 7 days.  Which totally explains my state of pure exhaustion today.  For the most part work was really good,  I love my co-workers and my work keeps me consistently busy but it was an emotional work week.  I work in healthcare and I am normally very good at detaching once I leave for the day but this week was a little different for some reason. I came home a couple of nights last week and cried and cried.  It is so hard to know and accept that no matter what you do and how hard you try that you can’t help/save everyone.  Sometimes you feel as though you don’t even make a small dent in the situation.  Sometimes I lose my emotional balance…

 Highliner Guy Ruyssevelt.  Image from  www.dailymail.co.uk
Highliner Guy Ruyssevelt. Image from http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Here is where the honest part of this blog comes in…. like I said it will not always be sunshine and butterflies.   I struggle with where I am at right now in my healthcare career.  What direction I want to take it in.  I feel that if I am not able to impact everyone, then maybe it is not the role I am supposed to be in. The “all or nothing” trap!  I know I want to take a different path then the one I am currently on.  I am very good in the role I am in and there is an endless road for advancement.  However, I have been in this role for so long now that I am pretty sure I want to see the other side.  The prevention not invention side of things.  I was having a conversation with someone the other day and they said to me, “Why can’t they just invent something for it?”  I responded, “It’s not about invention, it’s about prevention.”  That is when I had kind of an “Aha” moment.  I am always preaching to my family these words of wisdom.

My amazing older sister said to me once, “What the hell are you doing? Start doing what you are passionate about!”    But how??????  (The last time I did that I ended up in the E.R. with a CT, spinal tap and concussion!  Whitewater rafting guide school anyone?!  I don’t regret it for a minute!!)  Deepak Chopra says we should concentrate on finding our dharma.  Well I started this blog for one, and two, I am studying for my NASM test to be a personal trainer.  So those are two things right?!

Roads are not often paved smoothly and they are often long, winding and have TONS of detours.  I have road tripped across this country several times mostly without a destination.  The best places I have EVER been are because of detours, side roads of curiosity and the occasional bossy state trooper…LOL.  (I could do a whole post related to that one!..haha!)  My other amazing sister, my little sister, bought me a beautiful necklace years ago that is engraved on back with a quote from Beverly Sills, “There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.”  The front of the necklace is a compass.  So appropriate for me 😉

quote2  quote1

Everyday that goes by I am become a happier and happier human.  I am constantly learning and growing and I also develop more and more confidence in my abilities.  This blog is my road tripping buddy 🙂

With that it is currently 73 degrees in Cleveland so I am off to the park!

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone it may be better than you dare to think.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Question:  What is your passion?  Your dharma?

Messages and more stairs ;)

Ciao tutti!  (Hello everyone!)

I want to start today’s post about messages.  Not voicemail, email or text messages but messages that come to us in totally unexpected ways that answer the tough questions we may be contemplating.   So over the past several days I have been seriously contemplating putting something off because I feel that I want to take my career in a different direction.  I’ve been thinking a ton about it and while I was at work I felt as if my question was answered.  I don’t know if I like the answer but I’m just going to roll with it. 😀

http://moroccanmaryam.typepad.com
http://moroccanmaryam.typepad.com

I was sitting with someone who needed an ear to listen and a calm presence (that’d be me!) to soothe their mind.  In talking with this person and with no poking or prodding from them I feel that my answer came in loud and clear.  Now I had just met this person and they had absolutely no idea what has been on my mind. BUT… it was as if they did!   Now do you believe in coincidence?  I don’t really….hmmmmm….just more to contemplate now!

In other news…!   I work really long hours and when I’m at work I need to find a way to de-stress and get some exercise in.   I try to find a quiet room to sit in to meditate for 10-15 minutes or maybe do a few quick yoga poses.  But when I need to get my heart rate pumping I turn to the stairs!!!  I know you may be thinking I have a weird fascination for stairs but I don’t!  I promise.  But stairs are everywhere and they work your lower body extremely well. We aren’t suppose to have our phones on us at work but I sneak mine to play for my mini workout.  I take the elevator down to the basement, throw on some B.O.B., Jay-Z or Katy Perry and then climb 11 flights back up to the floor I work on.  I do that a couple of times a day at work.  If you ever feel sluggish at work and need to get your blood going stairs are the answer my friends!  Plus it releases enough endorphins to get you through the rest of your work day!

Now I’m off to bed after a 15 hour day!  Glad I got to spend my evening talking to you 😀

Tell me though… Do you believe in signs?

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone it may be better than you dare to think.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfelllow