Posts from the ‘simple lifestyle’ Category

Turmoil

Turmoil – Great confusion; extreme agitation. (American Heritage Dictionary)

 

Sometimes, it takes turmoil in life to be able to live as intended. It takes confusion and agitation to wake up a soul, to appreciate the little things and to understand what is meaningful in life. To slow down to the speed of now, and realize that now is all there is. To understand the fragility of everything else and its immensity, as well as its simplicity. To understand divine connection between all and between one moment and the next.

Sometimes, it takes turmoil to shake us to the core so we can center our being once more. So we can forget about purpose and become purpose, so we can indulge in being for the sake of being, and listen to the poem of life whispering its verses as we are and we become.

Sometimes it takes turmoil to realize that divinity is just a veil away, and that veil is always wrapped around us, and within us. Sometimes turmoil is all it takes.

Simple Beginnings

The other day, I was looking outside at the first signs of autumn, looking for an amber or red leaf here and there, while enjoying the silence that surrounded me. I could only hear the birds outside. The cats were sleeping, so the silence embraced the home. I love the green-yellow color of the grass as it is getting ready for winter to come. Autumn is a transition for nature, just as people have their own autumn seasons in life.

As I glanced at the tiny winding dirt path going from my neighbor’s home to her next door neighbor, I realized that I missed those early childhood signs of friendship and closeness between neighbors. The paths that were created by the frequent walks to a neighbor’s home, all natural friendly foot traffic. After living in New Jersey USA, for so many years, and closer to the city, I had forgotten those tiny paths crossing lawns that were so common in my childhood.

I understood that life has changed, and that the tiny dirt roads I admire so much in paintings depicting country settings had become my reality and a symbol of simple beginnings – unpretentious, serene, simple beginnings. I found myself reminiscing, with a smile and teary eyes. Sometimes what we view as the ending is just a new beginning.

Sweet Familiarity

As much as we plan our lives, unpredictability may knock at our doors at any time and we are forced to answer. Life is happening every day; life is every millisecond that unravels and it is continuity whether we understand it at the moment or not. Whether we measure life in heartbeats, brain function, hours, years, or the moment we open our eyes in the morning to mark another day, life goes on, and is, all the time. We may hope for better days but we are constantly living; we cannot hope to start living.

We take many things for granted – jobs, material things, water, electricity, a home, food, and unfortunately, even people. It is in the absence of any of these things (or all at once) when we realize their value. Have you ever thought of the possibility of losing any or all of these? How would you react? If the safety of your everyday routine were to be shaken and threatened, would you appreciate life more, however you measure life? Think of these things for a couple of minutes – from your basic needs to your more sophisticated needs or wants, and the people who make up your life circle.

To quote Forest Gump – “Life is like a box of chocolates … .” However,  we don’t expect to find the box empty. Our challenges in life determine our level of strength. Our perception of these determine our level of sweetness many times, but it is up to us to add the sugar. Maybe tomorrow may start and be similar to today, but it is when this sweet familiarity disappears that we miss it the most.

Simplicity

Simplicity – The quality or condition of being simple.

Simple – Easily understood or done. Plain and basic or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design.  (Oxford English Dictionary)

 

Over the past few years my quest have been to embrace simplicity. It seems that it may be part of human nature to make things less simple. We take something basic and we build or design other things around it, whether material or non-tangible such as rituals, ceremonies, celebration, protocols, and so on. We are embellishers by nature. We may become obscure, and sometimes obtuse, for the sake of completion, in our search for becoming whole. We attach rituals and a series of steps to spirituality, and even tools and other gadgets to complete the package.

Many times, all the preliminary stuff diminishes the joy and meaning of our intention and makes our target feel farther than it is. Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it in the name of wholeness, greatness, status, or self-preservation? Is it the nature of being, and therefore inescapable? Of having the experience in the material and the spiritual? Our entire civilization, society, speaks of it. We have taken the concept of shelter or the basic need of eating, for example, and built around it. Hence all the gadgets and toys we enjoy, the mansions, the fine cuisine, and all the emotions and meaning that we attach to these things. Even in the search for simplicity we overdo or complicate things – meditation groups and techniques, lists and journals, gadgets, rituals … .

Do we go back to find simplicity because we had enough or because we lost that part of us, the sense of it? Is it because without it we do not feel whole? At any point of our lives we may try to return to it, and the quest begins (sometimes with all the bells and whistles that we may attach to it). Is it the beginning or the end? Or a circle, a cycle of life?

This post is an example on how to take a simple concept and make it complicated.

Finding Peace in Who I Am

Peace – The absence of war or other hostilities. An agreement or treaty to end hostilities. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Peace. We like the word. We hope for peace on earth. We dream of peace. We pray for peace. However, we see peace as something outside ourselves. Something that happens in the outside. Seldom do we relate to peace within, or when we do, we attach it to spirituality.

According to the above definition of peace, the absence of war and hostilities is necessary to achieve peace. There must be an agreement, a treaty, for peace to be possible. To achieve peace within, the same agreement with oneself must happen, not out of spirituality, religious beliefs, or a third-party (although those could be a door/a catalyst for some people) but out of acceptance and understanding. How can I find peace in who I am? And without involving third parties?

It is a question I’ve asked myself many times. It is an evolving question. As individuals, we grow and evolve. We fight outside wars and inner battles. We deal with feelings, emotions, and facts. We dream, we imagine, we hope, we love, we hate … . We embrace complexity, many times in the quest for simplicity, in the search for truth. I’ve come to the realization that for truth to be found there must be inner peace, and for inner peace to be present, there must be acceptance and understanding of my self, of the one who I am, the one who grows and evolves.

How do I find peace in who I am? By not fighting the process. By not being at war or resisting the inevitability of evolution. By agreeing to take every step in the journey in acceptance and understanding. Whether the battle originates internally, or is a result of focusing on the fire being directed from outside sources, the only way to achieve peace is by looking at my truth objectively, and understand, accept, that I am in the moment. The past I am is no more, and the future I am is an illusion. I am now, and as long as I understand and accept that, then I am at peace.

Crescent Moon, Rising Sun – On little by little, one step at a time.

This post is a reflection on my experience. At one point, I had become fully engaged in multiple goals, personal and professional – maybe too many. I had always been a dreamer, and the type of person who felt guilty if there was a slot of time not filled with something productive. Multitasking sounded more than acceptable, and I engaged in it as well. It was right of my alley. I put a lot of pressure on myself over the past 10 years to accomplish everything that I thought “was due.” Some things I did not accomplish, some I started and decided to stop because the time was not right for them to be fruitful, and others, I decided to put aside for good. At times, it felt as if I was swimming at high-speed not to miss the boat that was already gone, or so I thought. I tried to catch up with my dreams and with time. It was a matter of time before the crash.

I had to learn to slow down and live one day at a time. I discarded the word multitasking and adopted a new philosophy of living – one thing at a time, one day at a time. I stopped blaming “others and the situation” and accepted the truth – that I am the only one in control, and the one who sets the pace. I had to go back and retrain myself in various areas. I also learned to depend more on God and less on my vision of things, although I don’t consider myself a religious person in the popular meaning of the word. This process strengthened my faith and patience. I saw that I could express more little by little, step by step. I enjoy the task at hand more, and am able to widen my vision; I see more now. I trust God’s process more.

I was a heavy planner and I thrived on multiple lists both short-term and long-term, many times as far as a 10-year plan. I am not suggesting that planning is bad, on the contrary, it is healthy; obsessive or too much structured planning is not the best choice. I had to understand that life’s plans can change in a split of a second – it is called life. Life doesn’t get in the way, it just is. It is called living. I plan now for living, not for the sake of achieving. Some of you might argue that part of living is achieving, and I agree. I say that achieving without living is pointless.

Now, I look at a crescent moon slowly gaining its fullness. I look at the rising sun after the darkness, and I know that all happens one day at a time. All.

 

Divine Organization – Prayer and Theology Journal

On a earlier post I talked about getting back on the saddle and renewing my work/life vows. Another step that I am taking is starting a prayer/theology journal to organize my thoughts and study different sacred works, starting with the Bible and following with other sacred texts and authors . Of course this will become a lifetime activity, as I have felt the need to learn more about different faiths on this planet. I am not pursuing a degree in theology but instead want to learn as much on my own. After all, our time on this planet is so short, I think not enough to learn and enjoy everything that we want to experience.

This journal is divided into three sections – Journal – Theology/study – Prayers. Of course being creative, it cannot just be a regular journal, so I took my time to find the perfect one for me and did some decoration to its pages as well. This particular one I found at Staples, the same day I went looking for the huge binder for my Home/work/life Management System (see earlier post). The cover art couldn’t have been more fitting for this type of journal. I find that taking a bit of time in the morning to meditate and learn helps me become more productive during the day, as well as setting the mood.

Here is what it looks like.

Prayer/Theology Journal

Prayer/Theology Journal

Decorated pages

Decorated pages

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Of course, as I continue this part of the journey, I will end up needing more journals, but I am happy to combine my regular journal-writing practice with the study of the sacred texts, and into a devotional time. It works for me. In searching for a better way to do the study part, I will keep some points in mind.

  • Start the study with my faith (Christianity/Bible) before moving on to other faiths
  • Pay attention to the title, time, and writer or writers, as well as language (original) and how translations have affected the book. In addition, how different groups have adopted variations on interpretation (for example – Christians and Jews interpret the book of Jeremiah differently).
  • Note any main topics/ideas of a particular book, chapter, or passage and cross-reference.
  • Note my interpretation and application to my life

One thing that I am not doing is following a particular study program/system because I don’t want to rely on a sole interpretation, but will use any material that will enrich my understanding or offer cross-reference points and enhance the learning experience.