Listening to Your Inner Voice

After my quasi tornado scare last evening, I remembered something that happened to me a few weeks ago. We’d had wind and tons of rain the day before, and I was due to go into town. As I drove, a thought popped in my mind – what if a tree falls and blocks your way home? It appeared out of nowhere, and I dismissed it as such. I took me about an hour to complete my errands, so I drove back home. When I was getting close to home, I saw a large tree across the road. It was too large, so there was no way I could move it out-of-the-way. There was a field to my right where they plant crops, and if I attempted driving through it in my small car, I was surely bound to get stuck. To my left, there were two  houses, people’s front yards mostly planted with large trees, one of which that tree came from. My dilemma was that I only knew two ways to get home, both ways now blocked by that tree. I have not been living here too long and had no idea if there was another way. In the end, I decided to cross through the front yards, weaving my car through trees until I came out ahead of the fallen tree. Later on that day, I learned that another large tree had fallen in front of that one, right where there was the only way to come out if crossing through these front yards, the rest was heavy woods. This is not the first time I have not listened to my inner voice, which has become louder these days. When I have listened, I have not regret it.

Your inner voice is very protective of you. It has many names – guardian angel, intuition, God or the Divine … . It seems to be in you, but outside as well, discernible from my own thoughts or gut feeling; however, I have learned throughout the years, that it is very easy to be dismissed by the mind/thoughts. It seems to be a loud silent/non-audible voice that will be firm, insistent, and sometimes, annoying. I have learned that the more insistent and annoying it becomes, the more serious the warning seems to be. I’ve had many instances in which I thank God that I listened to it. Despite that, I think that it is in my human nature to attempt dismissal, especially when I am focused on a task. When I look back at different instances where my inner voice was right and I was wrong, I thank God for it. Eventually, I will become a better listener. I hope you do as well.

 

The Great Revelation – A Square at a Time

Imagine that your life is a canvas or a screen, a picture made of pixels divided into tiny squares that come together to reveal the big picture – the wholeness of it. Sometimes, life feels as a series of squares, of compartments that are not related. We keep a home life, a work life, a church life, a secret life (in some cases), and so on. We disconnect ourselves from the big picture, and end up feeling anything else but whole. We lack continuity because we have compartmentalized our existence. In the process, we have separated ourselves from the source of it all, the divine force of our existence.

Sometimes, it takes a step back or a few steps back to change our perspective from a square by square or pixelated vision to a wholesome perspective. It takes many times, more than a few steps back, to realize the connection between all the squares, all the compartments of our life, and in the end, they disappear and all we see is continuity, neither beginning, nor end, but continuity. That is more than the big picture; it is the great revelation.

Leave Behind What Does Not Fit

Life is a cycle. We are born, grow up, mature, age, and die, but during that time, we are being reborn over and over, not only physically as our organism regenerates, but also, mentally and spiritually. We go trough many experiences that shape and mold our thinking, our souls, leading to spiritual growth while developing our humanity. This growth is as personal as it can get, individual and unique. What may seem unfair for someone is what the person/spirit needs to advance to the next level.

Imagine a perfect life where everything is in balance at all times, where there is no conflict and things always work the way it is expected. How can there be growth? Many times, we observe the person who seems to have the perfect life according to our definition of “the perfect life” and that person seems to be going through a rough patch. Immediately, we put on our judgement glasses and we cannot understand how is possible for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect Life to even feel challenged in her/his environment. Our human minds cannot accept or comprehend it. However, if we take off our judgement glasses and put on spiritual glasses we see that the person is going through his/her own growth cycle and the experience is unique, and at a different level than our own. What that person feels and experiences is what is necessary for the spirit to move along the journey. Sometimes there is growth and sometimes there isn’t, and that is a decision that every soul in the planet has to make according to the choices presented and the opportunity to choose. The adage, “To each, its own” says it well.

When we are experiencing the challenges of life, the opportunities to grow spiritually and humanely, we get the chance to reevaluate our lives, the challenge, past and present experiences, and look into the future with new eyes. We are given the opportunity to leave behind what does not fit anymore, and change armor. We all do it throughout our lives, at our own level and pace. In order to grow, it is necessary to leave behind that which does not fit our Now.

Why We Follow? Why We Lead?

Why we follow? Why we lead?

The fact that we are social and gregarious might seem to answer the question, and to a point it does; however, whether you consider yourself a follower or a leader is only important because of the Why. I think we are a bit of both throughout our lifespan. Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow. If we discard the image of the big leader followed by a multitude we do ourselves a favor. Many people aspire to be leaders; other people get offended if they are labeled as followers, almost as if one would cancel the other, when instead, we must be open to be both if we want to grow our humanity, and our spirituality. There will be times in our lives when we will have to step as leaders, and other times we will yearn to follow, and even the leaders will find themselves after the path of teaching by learning the yearning of the followers. We have been taught that one is better than the other, or greater than the other, when it is just a different side of the same coin, a different tonality of the same color. The only thing that will decide which side it is at a particular moment in our lives is the Why.

Why we step to lead or yearn to follow? In the Why we found the meaning, and it must be powerful enough to move us, otherwise, we end up pursuing illusions whether we lead or follow. Whatever we look for, the nourishment we need, or need to give, becomes the reason, the fuel, the dream … Somewhere in the process, what developed inside us, and has been there, we manage to transport it outside ourselves, and the search for it starts, and we lead, and we follow, and we keep searching, and leading, and following – and living.

Intellectual Filth

A poem.

 

 

Intellectual Filth

 

Hate, war, pestilence, blood, deceit …

The legacy of human beings.

Oh God, why create such intellectual filth?

Nature does not need this sickness within.

 

The more I think, the more I see,

Faith slowly morphs into pain, hopeless disbelief.

Thin needles slowly prick a cold blue heart,

Bleeding its love, ice melts divine.

 

Oh God, why save such impure hearts?

Isn’t Earth better without virus-man?

Why not clean Earth, wipe us all out?

Have you ever thought of taking us out?

 

With a heavy heart a true voice I heard,

Buried deep in ice, breaking through mind’s cares.

“Many times I thought of doing just that,

Then I saw the one carrying a just heart.”

 

“Oh Child, there I saw

My early gifts bestowed,

Love, peace, compassion, trust, hope…

The pain and desire for a better world.”

 

“Love thriving in one changed a multitudes fate,

Then the one I sent with divine intent.”

“Pure love made flesh, the ultimate gift,

Myself wrapped in him to wipe all the sin.”

 

Oh God, nothing changed, I still see the same.

Destruction, pain, and so much hate.

I close my eyes to not awake,

Hoping not to see another such day.

 

Oh child of mine, your cares I see.

I see the pain, the heart within.”

“If only you would let Him in,

The love you need will pour right in.”

 

Oh God, you know the world is not me,

The love of one enough won’t be.

Maybe it is best to let me be,

I close my eyes; I rest in peace.

 

“Oh child of mine, did not I say,

That for the one my love remained?”

“The virus-man Love inoculates,

Today I listened, and you I heard.”

 

On Falling Behind and a Carton of Eggs

Today, the dreary feeling that has haunted me for weeks grew stronger as I made my morning cup of coffee. The thought blinded my conscience as if plastered in large neon green letters all over my head – I AM BEHIND! Worry settled in another day and inspiration took cover behind my wishful thinking. One thought led to another and before I was aware a feeling of guilt creeped inside my heart. Desperation fluttered inside my gut and I gasped for air as I stared at the carton of eggs that I had just emptied. Somehow, the printed cursive blue letters called on me, and I read – “This is the Day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24  What an oddity, I thought, printed on the inside of the egg carton I found the perfect words that I needed to hear. I decided to make those words my inspiration today and every time I might feel that I AM BEHIND. Because it does not matter if I am behind or not, or my perception of it – my truth is that behind or not, “this is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And that is what I decided to do.

I realized that my perception of time and reality has nothing to do with God’s timing and plan; and that even when I might feel that I am behind (on work, on chores, on projects, on life … fill the blank) I might not be at all – I might be just where I am supposed to be on my journey. Although I have heard and read these words many times, it took a carton of eggs at the right time to make them meaningful when I needed them. I grabbed the scissors and cut out the words from the egg carton and placed them in front of me, at eye level near the computer screen, as a daily reminder. Somehow, breakfast tasted better. Here is a picture of the cut-out. I hope it inspires you as well.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Life Mapping

If you are a goal-setter you might like the idea of life-mapping. Life-mapping can be done in many ways. It represents the big picture of your many goals and dreams and what you would like to carry out in the long run. It is a healthy exercise as long as you use it as an inspiration to enrich your life, and it does not become an obsession, meaning that one might focus on it solely and not live fully because things are not happening the way one intended them to happen. Many times, especially if you believe in Divine intervention, things might not work out the way we want or plan, but in the end, it was all for a greater good – a better ending.

I have practiced life-mapping for some time. I have used time lines, picture boards, and even a treasure map style to highlight long-term dreams and goals. One thing I can say is that a lot works out as planned, but many other things do not, despite putting the work and walking the path. However, I still like the idea of life-mapping and practice it to keep me inspired and on track. Right now, I am using a different style that I thought about, and is easy to post anywhere and is more portable than a picture board. You can carry it on your planner, and it gives you an overall glance of your dreams and goals. I believe that you are never too old to do life-mapping. It is never too late to enrich your life and enjoy it more, so in my eyes, this practice stops at your death-bed.

The idea was inspired by my icon to-do-list. It is life-mapping by using icons that represent what you want, and you can do this as a time-line or as a step by step map to guide you. Here is the life-map I came up with, and I can share it here because the icons mean something to me, and not necessarily mean anything to anyone else, so in a way it is still somewhat private. A picture or an icon can have as many meanings as you give it. The meaning is up to you. This life-map was done using Microsoft Publisher. I started using footprints and changed to cat prints because after all, our family includes 6 cats, so they are in the journey as well. In addition, I left empty fields at the end to fill as needed, and these are represented by a potted plant with an interrogation sign. I used two pages for mine, but you can make your icons smaller and fit them on one page, or use as many pages as you would like. You can also use only a few icons to represent the important points only, and not necessarily every detail. It is a good idea for visual people. You may also do it in 3-5-10 … year increments or overall. Other ideas include drawing your icons if you are artistic, or painting them. In addition, if you want to make it more detailed you can dedicate a journal or planner just for life-mapping. Mine is just a more general approach. Life-mapping is ever changing, but it serves as visual inspiration, and it can be adjusted as necessary.

Life-Mapping

Life-Mapping

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I hope you enjoy this idea.

 

 

 

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

002 003

 

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.

 

 

Ouch and Developing Hind’s Feet

Life is full of serendipity and synchronicity, and although time (timing) plays a role, it truly does not matter how long it has been, how many years have gone by, because when life, God, the Universe … fill the blank — wants to convey a message to you, everything comes to a halt so you may listen and pay attention. It has been my experience.

As a quick update, and following my earlier post, I broke my right arm near the shoulder, so it has been painful and I am undergoing physical therapy. I have not been able to tend to my writing as it was painful to write, but I am feeling better now. During this time, I have done a lot of reading. Right now I am reading a book that I read about 20 + years ago – Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard – an allegory dramatizing the journey each of us must take before we can live in “high places.”

The book was given to me by a priest. I read the book when I was younger (much younger) and I loved it. It inspired me then, but little did I know the difference that the span of 20+ years makes when you read it again. I had forgotten about the book. I had lent it to a friend, years had gone by, and out of sight out of mind. Recently, I got a package in the mail from my dear friend, and in it I found the book with a lovely note that expressed how she was organizing her home and found the book and was returning it to me “since books are like children and should not be separated from their parents for too long” (her own words).  When I saw it, I became excited since I had forgotten about that book entirely. Then I thought, “there is a reason why I should be reading this book now, and I believe that there is a message in it for me.” Little did I know that the book contained the wisdom I needed at this moment, but moreover, the words were new to me; a different kind of understanding developed this time, as I read it. Is it the wisdom of years and experiences gone by or the need for those words at this moment? Maybe a combination of both, but I am grateful to my dear friend and I believe that she was inspired to send me the book that my soul needed now while many of my systems are being tested. How beautiful and amazing life is despite the many tests and situations it presents us with, when we least expect them. It all ties in and we are all connected in this beautiful reality and beyond.

We live in a material and dimensional reality which many times we measure by L (long) x W (wide) x H (high) but when we halt, listen, and yearn for more we can start living by another reality L (life) x W (wonder) x H (heights/new heights) and experiencing existence at another level, more meaningful, more magical, more divine. Here I leave you with another inspirational picture – a flower from my garden that may seem simple at first glance but which contains a whole universe when we look at it closely.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

In Between the Lines – Good vs. Evil

The topic of Good vs. Evil fascinates me. Since I was a child, this idea has evolved being shaped by my upbringing, religion, stories that my grandmother told, urban legends, books, Hollywood movies … in short, by how my mind made sense of all this, and how it interpreted it in the material and spiritual. Although good and evil might seem as black and white, I suspect that there are many shades of gray in between, and our human nature battles in the midst, making sense of it all. If anything, we deserve credit for that. This theme is present in my novels as well.

As a species we thrive in the material contributing to the good and bad on this planet. As spiritual beings we strive to do better. Whether you believe or not in the concept of good vs. evil, of God and the Devil, yin and yang, polarities … or however you want to explain this duality or antithesis, the reality is that we all get sucked in by its allure and fascination, even if you practice atheism – engaging in a hot topic. Good vs. Evil captures the human mind since the beginning of the Homo Sapiens (wise man) or Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, if you prefer that version.

According to one of the most influential books in history, Adam and Eve were seduced by evil, and disobeyed God. But before this, Lucifer had become the devil, and taken a few fallen angels with him. Cain ( son of Adam and Eve) had a bit to do with evil as well. And this is where the concept of evil gets interesting and were shades of gray start painting shades of humanity. When we think of Cain, immediately, we process in our minds (if you know the story or read it in the Bible) that his sin was the act of killing his brother Abel. Yes this was a horrible offense, and so far the first murder in the Bible, since mankind was born. However, the book of Genesis tells a more interesting story – what happened before the murder. What was it?

This is what the book of Genesis tells us about the sin before the sin (in short). This is from the New International Version.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4: 3-7)

 

It seems that Cain got upset and jealous of Abel because God liked Abel’s offering better than his. Why this? Upon reading this passage it shows that Abel offered God the fat portions from the first-born of the flock, in other words, the best of the best. While Cain gave “some of the fruits of the soil” or in other words, a good-enough offering, but not the best of the best. And this is what God saw, and I guess that he read both brothers hearts in the offerings, and why he liked one offering better than the other.  This made Cain angry and jealous of his brother, but God, being God and all, gave him a warning of things to come, if he continued with this attitude (If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” ). This is profound. When I read this, I saw Cain’s sin issue in respect to his brother, in a new light, and it made me think of the layers of depth in the concept of good vs. evil. These few verses have so much to chew on, but it was this prelude to Cain’s sin of murder that fascinated me the most. Then, I thought – Why did Cain give a mediocre offering? What was going through his mind? It was this thinking that started it all. Then, I came up with a possible explanation. Since Cain worked the land very hard to yield some crops, must likely he knew that his goodies were hard to come by and with much effort (after all, this wasn’t Eden anymore and he had to work for it) therefore, he gave “some.” In other words, he was being stingy with the one who gave and made all – his God. Again, this is so profound because it reveals another layer. In venturing to read Cain’s thought and personality, I think that he had a trust issue. He lacked Trust. Cain was not so sure that God would provide for him, therefore, he was a bit stingy with his offering, and this was in my opinion, Cain’s first offense. He did not trust his Creator and he did not show his trust/love in his offering like Abel did. This attitude was the catalyst that opened the gates that caused Abel’s blood to flow by his hand.

Pondering the shades between Good and Evil may help us to write better and deeper characters, and to craft a story that would give the reader more layers to peel. As writers, we should not be stingy with our offering to the reader, and always try to give the best of the best, according to our ability.

 

Next In Between the Lines topic – Trust