Enlightenment

It amazes me how God can, and often does, choose to teach us His truths using whatever method or tool that we are open to at the present moment. In the three decades that I have been a Christian, God has guided me through His Word, His Spirit, and His people teaching and preaching his truths. Through books, magazines, music, strangers, friends and even in business meetings, I have gleaned life changing insights.  First and foremost this is because I choose to put my faith in the person of Jesus Christ and He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. I believe that this promise is why He chooses to guide me using any and all methods. The most recent avenue of His guidance has been through the authentic teachings of yoga. I imagine He is utilizing this teaching avenue because He knows all too well that I have closed myself off from many of the traditional models that served me well for many years. I am no longer interested in following anyone who seems to lead with their ego. Men and women who make their decisions through the lens of their emotions, feelings, traditions and the past teachings of previous mentors, while blatantly disregarding God’s Word as the final authority. Leaders that leave their followers questioning if they have any worth when it comes to the ministry or christianity, or in life period, have, in my opinion, failed to recognize Christ’s teachings on leadership. Authority figures that act as if the position Christ has allowed them to fill grants them all power and all insight.  You can discern quickly if you have been asked to follow this type of person. This leader cannot answer the hard questions. In fact, they behave as if you have no right to question them in the first place. They will avoid the question. They will attempt to divert from the question. They will simply ignore the question. But, if all of this fails and you push for an answer they will rely on some version of the response “because I said so”, “because I’m the Pastor” or “because this is my church”.  In my 48 years on this planet, history has proven that when an authority (whether in the secular field or christian) gets to this place, their business or ministry is decaying rapidly. I am not judging these folk. Christ has said that He has sheep “that are not of this fold”, and I am content to leave it with Him. I am not willing to subject myself or loved ones to these people, after witnessing time and again the havoc that they wreak in the lives of the righteous and unrighteous alike.

I seek enlightenment. My Saviour has promised this very thing in His Word. He promises in Matthew 11 that if we come unto Him He will give us comfort. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Enlightenment. To ease the burden. To cease to carry the heaviness that this world has to offer. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Yet, many Christians are bent low under the weight of life. Worries, fears, and anxiety does not sound very enlightened to me. I am on a path to enlightenment, but not in a mystical way. Daily I am being taught how to reduce the burdens that I have been carrying. Moment by moment I am learning to be enlightened as Christ is enlightened and many of my lessons are coming through the teachings of authentic yoga.

I invite you on my journey to enlightenment. How great would it be to reduce some(if not all) of the burdens that you now carry? Authentic Yoga is like Christianity in that the principles work for anyone that will apply them. Regardless of your religious affiliation to this point. Regardless of your history. Regardless of how another human being has made you feel.

Today, start by repeating this mantra to yourself:

I HAVE WORTH! I CAN FIND BALANCE! I HAVE AMAZING THINGS TO OFFER OTHER PEOPLE AND THIS WORLD! I CAN BE LIGHTER, AND MORE BALANCED!

Next: Follow my blog below,  and join me on the path to enlightenment.

NAMASTE

 

“WHAT IF” YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND

I rarely wade into controversial subjects on social media, quite often it seems like a fruitless endeavor that leaves me having to decide whether to “die on this mountain”, or more often than not, attempt to exit gracefully.  This morning, however, I was sent a link to a YouTube video that requires me to put voice to my thoughts and “pen to paper”, so to speak.

In my opinion, the video was well done and poignant. It shows several people from all walks of life being asked their view on abortion after which they are shown a video depicting abortion procedures. They are then asked to review their original responses.

Let me share with you what I saw in this video.  You see, I recognize it because I saw the same look on my husbands face over 20 years ago. These people, who considered themselves, up until that moment, to be pro-choice,  {i.e. for a woman’s right to choose to abort her unborn child}   at least in theory, came face to face, possibly for the first time, with humanity.  Look at the terms they chose after watching the videos: “It’s inhumane”, “It’s murder”, “Wow, it’s brutal”, “I’ve changed my mind”.

I am married to a very bright man. When I became pregnant he was with me every step of the way.  He attended every Dr’s appointment, was there for each ultrasound and listened to the heartbeat on many occasions.  I have on video the moment that he actually realized that we had created a human being. The day I gave birth, as he stood at the end of the bed waiting to cut the cord, the Dr. turned our son over and my husband saw his face. With my mom recording you can see the full spectrum of his emotions as what was just a thought became a reality. My six foot tall 250 pound husband gasped, and as his eyes and mouth grew with the impact of what he had just witnessed, this big guy, this larger than life man, hit his knees crying like a big baby. It would be hours before I would get to bond with our son and those two have had a love affair ever since. Up until that moment, everything for him had been theory. When the viewers of the video turned from theory and were exposed to the reality, they could not stomach the “inhumanity”. Meaning, evil was being enacted on a human being.

The argument for abortion rests completely on one issue, is a baby from conception a person?  The viewers of the Live Action video were asked to witness what they had been supporting in theory. Theory is often so simple. Don a sign screaming for a woman’s right to choose and yell louder than the next guy. Reality, however can be much harder to stomach.

So,  the reality is my mother is getting older, she has Alzheimer’s and no real quality of life, and I am not equipped mentally or financially to provide for her, therefore, I will be severing her head from her body tonight with a pair of scissors, or maybe I’ll try burning her to death with acid first, which do you think is more humane? I’m guessing that  you like most people would want me jailed or committed for such an evil plan, because, after all, she is a person. However, this is an accurate description of two forms of terminating a pregnancy which sounds better than killing a baby.

The responses to this video became what they always become.  What about the girl who was raped? What about incest? Unplanned pregnancy? It sounds so noble, does it not?  Why should a girl exposed to these kinds of acts be punished further? Yes, noble indeed…

You see, if you want to discuss the fact that babies can be conceived in selfish and even evil ways, we are in agreement.  If you believe that it is unfair and unjust for a man to get a girl pregnant and leave her, I’m with you. If you wish to stand against the atrocities that can be enacted on women resulting in unplanned and often unwanted pregnancies, well darling, I will storm the gates of hell with you! I have three amazing daughters and I would use any tool available to me to protect them, to prepare them, to provide for them. What I will not now, nor will I ever let them believe is that when an unjust act has been perpetrated against them it somehow gives them the right to turn around and treat others unjustly.

Perhaps you have become pregnant due to rape.  Maybe the child you carry was formed in what you believed was love, and the man you put your faith in has deserted you. It might be that you carry a child of incest or just unplanned sex.  It might be that you grew up in an environment that never placed any value on you as a human being, so you wonder what the big deal is if you get an abortion. What you know is that you feel dark. You feel ashamed, disgusted, unable and unready. Even if this was just an unplanned pregnancy, why should it ruin your life? You feel an aversion to this baby, the pregnancy and the circumstances so why not just terminate the pregnancy and be done with the pain?

I can offer only one answer that is true for all people regardless of religious, political or economical beliefs. This mountain, I will die on. When a human being, in an act of evil and selfishness, gives himself/herself permission to force what he/she  wants on another human being, whether that be in the form of rape, incest, abandonment, or just because they place no value on you as a person, it is unfair, it is unjust, it is wrong, and it is inhumane.  For a pregnant woman to turn around and in an act of selfishness and placing her needs above that of another human being, choose to kill an innocent baby you become the very thing that you hate. You become no better than the rapist who forced his will on you, the uncle that violated you for his selfish desires, the lover who walked refusing to love you, and the family that devalued your life. You are repeating their very acts of selfishness.  You will find no victory in that path. You will spend the rest of your life trying to convince yourself that what you did was justifiable just as all criminals do. Or, you will one day come to terms with what you did to your child and have to carry that burden as well throughout your life. But I believe you have another choice…

You have a secret power that no monster can ever take from you.  This is the only possession that you must choose to give up willingly.  You can choose to defeat your enemy by refusing to let him/her continue to have control in your life. You can scream “I will not become like you!”  You can choose to be unselfish, to put your child’s needs above your own; you can choose to love and not walk out on that baby; you can choose to place  a higher value on your unborn child’s life than you place on your own. You can choose to carry that baby to term and then decide if adoption is right for you. The only thing any of us own that cannot be taken from us is our capacity to love.  Love is the only thing that will overcome evil. Love is the only thing that will counteract selfishness.

Yes, this is in-your-face harsh. I truly wish that no girl ever found herself in any of these circumstances. But we live in reality.
There are enough people out there who are telling you that it’s OK, they understand and its your body so you have the right to choose. They are not giving you the statistics of women who never recover from having an abortion emotionally. I talk with women all the time that wish someone had stopped them. They think back on the day that they killed their baby (their words, not mine) and they play the “what if” game. What if they hadn’t gone, what if one of those crazy religious nuts had just been there to stop them? What would their son/daughter be like today. If I can keep one lady from having to play that game then it will be worth all of the backlash I am going to receive from posting this article.

You had rights, and in some form or another they have been violated.  You will not recover, or find wholeness by violating another’s right to live, to laugh, to love, to learn. That path only offers more darkness. I implore you, before you decide: watch the videos, talk to those who have had to find a way to live with having an abortion. Take the time to get a differing view.  Really consider the consequences that your choice will bear. Reach out to someone who will answer your questions and withhold judgement. We exist. Do not let yourself believe that an unborn child is only a human in theory.

I only ask that you look inward. If you find there any doubt, reach out to someone. Consider. In my own life, choosing to love others, and choosing to live my life in a way that allows me to look myself in the mirror and respect what I see there are the only tools that have helped me to defeat my demons. If I can be of any help or answer any questions ever, regardless of what choice you make, you can contact me at heather@made-to-thrive.com.

For everyone I wish you to LIVE< LEARN<LAUGH<LOVE

Namaste

Heather

 

She Bloomed~A lesson in Worth

My husband recently took a business trip to Arizona. One of the many pictures he sent me on his journey was this:

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His caption read  Flowering Heather.

My response was “A weed…with blossoms, that sounds about right.”

To this he replied, “A beautiful flower, finding a way to bloom, even on a granite surface.”  Now this was very sweet of him and what I consider to be a great compliment.

Now look at that picture. It absolutely amazes me. Not because it is the most beautiful plant that I have ever seen. Not because it bares my name and not due to any outward aesthetic. Look at the seemingly harsh environment that surrounds  this plant. Out of a bed of granite, all alone and judged for her beauty or lack thereof by all who pass her, she blooms. Everything that she needs in order to become the plant she was made to be, to complete her purpose on this planet, exists inside. And she is fulfilling that purpose, seemingly, against the odds.

Do you think this little flower is thinking:

Well, that guy didn’t think I was pretty enough to pick.

My life is too hard, other plants have it easier.

These granite rocks don’t like me.

As soon as the weather changes or the sun shines more or this soil quality improves, then I will become a better flower.

I need to go to the bookstore and get a self-help book on how to see myself as a pretty plant not just a weed.

If I can just change how the others see me I can finally be the flower I was meant to be.

Yes, I know, as far as science has discovered thus far, plants don’t think.  But, truth is truth.  An acorn has everything that it needs to become the mighty oak. Flowering Heather, regardless of her environment has everything that she needs to complete her purpose, and she has it already contained, on the inside. Life is designed that way.

You were designed that way. You have, contained with in you already, everything that you require to be everything that you were designed to be.

Self-worth is the belief that you are complete, that you are more than enough exactly as you are, right now, today. Your ability to succeed is unchanging and unconditional. Yes, you will have to grow and adapt, much like the mighty oak that leans toward the sunshine in an effort to stay mighty and the flowering heather that must push roots deep into the soil to reach the life giving water beneath the granite rock.

When you truly embrace your capacity for an abundant life on a daily basis, you, like the acorn can grow into the purpose you were created for, a metaphorical oak. However, when you let your circumstances, fears, conditions and surroundings dictate your capacity you render yourself unworthy.

If you feel that you are broken, needing to be fixed then you are looking outside yourself for something to strive for and attain in order to reach your potential.

I suggest that God designed you already containing everything that you need to live your purpose. To live a fulfilling and contented life, to be great, to have true self worth is already available to each and everyone. God designed everything that way. How do I know this about God?  Because, I too have struggled with fear, failures and the opinions of others. I too have allowed those things to keep me from embracing all that God had for me.

I have been down the path.

At times I have allowed circumstances to keep me from my greatness. I, like you, like everyone else, had to make a choice. Am I worthy or worthless?

When you leave this world will people say of you “Out of a bed of granite, all alone at times, judged harshly at other times, facing the realities of this world she recognized her own greatness and she bloomed!

Your greatness, your worth, is already there. Are you ready to believe? Are you ready to bloom?

Colorful purple summer heather
Colorful purple summer heather blooming in a crevasse in lichen covered rocks, close up view

 

When a Path Becomes a Rut

We go through life, more often than not, trudging along a path that was determined years ago.  A path that we chose before we understood life, before we understood ourselves fully.

As children, our parents, if we were blessed, taught us good habits. These habits were their way of setting  us on a path to a healthy and productive life. Healthy habits such as: go to bed on time, get up on time, brush your teeth after every meal, make good grades, go to church, wash your hands after you use the restroom and don’t pick your nose and eat…Well, you remember. These habits were our norm. As we grew, so did our habits: Get good grades so you can graduate, go to college, pick a career, get a job, go to bed early,go to church, get up on time for work, work hard all week so that you can relax on the weekend, and for goodness sake don’t pick your nose and eat…Well, you remember.

Now, I’m not bashing habits. Many habits are good and even necessary to a healthy and productive life. Mom and dad were right all along. However, when our habits become habits, we turn that trail that we started blazing all of those years ago, well, we turn that trail into a rut.

A while back I was asked to sit on a “Career Panel” at one of our local colleges. My job was simply to answer any questions relevant to my career and current position in life. The purpose of this particular job fair was to scout potential candidates for hire while allowing these fresh college graduates to learn from those who have “gone before”. For two hours I fielded questions from students ranging in age anywhere from 18 to 60. For two hours every question, regardless of age, regardless of circumstances, regardless of chosen career, boiled down to a variation of three questions. How do I get a job in my chosen field, How do I keep a job in my chosen field, What do I do when my chosen field is not hiring?

Now, it wasn’t surprising to me that all of the young graduates were asking these questions. The surprising thing and perhaps more telling is that even the thirty and forty year old students/graduates were asking the same questions, albeit worded more eloquently.

When the same questions were posed yet again, directed to me, with nothing but the career field altered I concluded that the time had come.

How do I get a job in my chosen field, How do I keep a job in my chosen field?  What do I do when my chosen field is not hiring or has become obsolete?

My answer: You adapt. Next question.

Yes, the room fell quiet. Yes, they apparently needed me to expound.  Here is my response in an abbreviated form (you’re welcome). “It would be naive indeed, to think that at 18 years of age we could choose and embark on a career path that will never need to be revisited. Just in the time that we have been here responding to these questions the medical and technical fields have already made advancements and you fresh graduates are already behind the curve. In fact, just since we arrived today smart phones and computer games, computer graphics, and even art have advanced yet again, so if any of you have chosen those as a career path…you best get cracking. We no longer live in the day where we graduate, pick a field and retire the ‘Learned Professor’. Beyond that, the employee that every company desires is the one that brings people skills and professionalism to the table. NO credential behind your name can make up for lack of relationship skills. If you are part of the population who thinks, “Well, this is just who I am’ you are already not attractive to employers.  In this day and age, if you are not continually learning and continually growing, you will, without a doubt, get left behind. If your wish is to be marketable in twenty years, you must decide now to continue growing. You must be willing to adapt.  My advice to you is: be open to change, be willing to grow, embrace the altered path.  I am a credentialed Respiratory Therapist, and yet I have not chosen to work in that field in over twenty years.  But, oh, how I have enjoyed all of the doors that have opened up to me because I refused to be boxed into a particular path.”

These concepts apply to every area of our lives: careers, marriages, health, friendships and child rearing.  It would be naive indeed to think that we could at (fill in age here) embark on a career, marriage, friendship,or hobby that would not need to be revisited or altered. If you wish to stay marketable in your career, attractive (whether physically or emotionally) in your marriage, relevant in your friendships, healthy for your family or relatable to your kids…YOU MUST ADAPT!

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We have all heard it said that a rut is just a coffin, with the ends kicked out. Is there an area in your life where you are stagnating? Do you stubbornly hold to paths that are no longer offering enjoyment or fulfillment? What are you actively doing to climb out of that rut before it really does become the coffin for your dreams?

Yes, you have the right to plant your feet. It is within your rights to refuse to grow, change or adapt. But, if you yearn for something more, if you still believe somewhere deep down that life is to be lived to its fullest and enjoyed; then might I suggest that you take any step to alter your journey.

Embrace the altered path, and Please don’t pick your nose and eat…well. you remember…

 

Namaste

Books, Books, Books

 

As anyone who knows me can attest, God has, on many, many occasions, used not only His Word, but the words of countless others to offer up answers to my seemingly, never ending questions.  To what am I referring?  BOOKS.  BOOKS.  More BOOKS!  Relationship issues, child rearing questions, health concerns, financial planning… the list is truly limitless.  Allow me to share one such example.

In 2002, I found myself in a health crisis.  I was heavier than I had ever been.  I was experiencing chronic shoulder and back pain with daily headaches and pain in my hips so bad that it was everything I could do just to walk from my bedroom to the couch in the living room. Watching my oldest daughter, who was then in about 8th grade, try and run a household while nursing her ailing mom was just too much for this mama’s heart.  My search for answers began.  Space will not allow me to share all the details of trying to save enough money to pay for one blood test (we had no insurance at the time), just to be told that my “blood work looked good,” and that I should come back when I had saved enough money for another test.  I cried all the way to the car.  I just wanted answers. Many tests and heartaches later I  found myself sitting in a Doctor’s office with a diagnosis.  Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.  The physician’s recommendation?  Antidepressants.  I informed her that I didn’t think I was depressed, I was just tired and in a lot of pain. I explained that my life was actually quite rewarding, that our family was very busy with life and helping inner-city Chicago kids; she nodded and then wrote out a prescription for an antidepressant…

Then and there I made a choice (the important things in life always come down to a choice).  You see, I wanted that diagnosis.  I wanted to believe that there was a reason I felt so bad. I wanted to grab it and make it my baby and yell, “You  see world, this is what’s been wrong with me!”    That moment is when I knew that if I leaned into the safety of that diagnosis… from then on… that disease would become my identity.

To this day I can’t tell you if I had the disease that the doctor diagnosed.  What I do know is that I decided, have it or not, I was pushing for quality of life.  I would read and study and treat every symptom.  I would not go quietly into the night! I would not go down without a fight…sorry…I got off topic there with a favorite movie quote.  But the truth is, it was an Independence Day for me.

A week later my friend Jennifer and I were walking at a local park  when she handed me a book written by Smokey Santillo. She felt it had some good nutritional information and that could be the next  step toward my healing. I love a new book.  I love the smell, the texture, and the knowledge contained between two pieces of cardboard.  That being said, I gotta tell you, the first chapter of this book left me underwhelmed.  I kept reading through point after point on just how polluted our planet really has become.  Water pollution and air pollution; well, that I could handle.  Next was electro-magnetic pollution.  Yup, that is when Smokey lost me.  I was sitting there thinking, “Now I have to be concerned about the very light bulbs that allow me to read this book?”   I wanted health, but seriously, how much could I be expected to change.

Except…there was one little line that seemed to leap from the page.  Scientific studies had shown that some people are very susceptible to certain electric cycles.  This sensitivity had been known to lead to many ailments including miscarriages in women who were exposed to certain computer monitors for longs periods of time. HMMMmmm…Some folks apparently are even sensitive to things like T.V. consoles and …wait for it….ELECTRIC BLANKETS!!!

(My family had, in 1999, moved from the warm state of Florida to attend college in the very cold state of Indiana.  Would you like to take a guess at what one of the first items we purchased had been?)

I stopped… I thought, “It really couldn’t be that simple.”  I walked to the bedroom, I pulled that electric blanket off the bed, I went to sleep and  I awoke the next day.  Yes… the very next day.  I got up and walked virtually pain free to the kitchen and made breakfast for my kids.

As I said, I cannot honestly tell you whether or not I have chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  What I can tell you is I continue to read, I continue to tweak, I continue to reach for a quality of life physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I believe that God can heal all that is broken.  I also believe that he can choose to heal through a book… or perhaps, even a blog…