love means…

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills –
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

-Czeslaw Milosz

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shaking things up

Balance is shaken again. A little shock this time, not the kind of devastation that is described in this beautiful piece on The Goddess of Never Not Broken, but the kind of unsettling that leaves you shaken for days and thoughtful for weeks, that rewrites your past and gives you a slightly different, brighter perspective on your vision of the future.

I am sad, but at the same time, that resilience within me that I thank my parents for is already seeing the sunny side of this cloud. I’d been in a slump lately (winter blues, loss in vision, whatever the cause), and this has shaken me out of it.

Things had been troubling me since last summer, things that hadn’t been worked out and that I couldn’t see a solution for, and so I moped. But the best kind of answer has been provided, and although the delivery was a bit rough and heartbreaking…I’ve got a little bit of peace and a bit more hope for my own future. Forgiveness is a beautiful gift.

 

I’ve got some thinking to do over the next few days. I think I might be posting a bit more frequently than I have in the past months.

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inner balance, external chaos

The last Chalice Circle (okay, I’ll be honest, it was ten days ago, and I’m only getting around to writing about it) was on the theme of finding balance in your life. I came into the circle with a certain idea of what it means to have balance, and I left with a somewhat different idea – an indication that the circle is working, I think!!

Coming in, my notion of balance was based on having external stability and stillness in my life. I rarely have external stability and stillness – this is not a bad thing. I am a big believer in change and growth and have nightmares of my life becoming boring and safe and complacent. But coming into the circle, I thought that equilibrium in my life is based on what is going on around me. Not entirely false, because I know that when I have a lot of changes in my life (like recently), I tend to get flustered and overwhelmed and need space and time to assimilate.

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circles and covenants

Hello, hello! I’m back! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks (or has it been a month at this point?). In the midst of all this time that has passed, I’ve gone to DC for business, attended my sister’s wedding and the subsequent emotional wringer, dealt with the stress of both grandmothers going in and out of the hospital multiple times within two weeks space, got new exciting projects at work, got another part-time job that I’m super-excited about, and I’ve suddenly discovered myself on the precipice of a career that accidentally found me. Mind-blowing stuff.

Meanwhile, how have I fared spiritually in the midst of all this wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) chaos? Coming out of this tunnel, I am pleasantly surprised. My desire to seek more meaning and mindfulness and peace seems to be earnest and will stick around. And part of this, I think, is due to the Chalice Circle that I’ve started attending at the local UU church.

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deep breath and….GO!!

I’ve taken on a lot recently, and it’s starting to stress me out quite a bit. My job is stimulating, and I love it, but it’s challenging and keeps me working non-stop and doing research to keep up after hours. I volunteered to take over the Facebook of a local service organization, and started working on it just this week – that means planning, finding resources, doing research, figuring out what my audience wants. Again, all things I love, but also time-consuming and work-intensive. Another blog project that I’m part of got a little more complicated recently when we decided to open to guest bloggers – love the different voices, but ppl are not using systems as expected and I need to do considerable work to get things copacetic (what movie does that word remind me of?). A conference in DC this weekend for the job, and then my sister’s wedding next weekend. Finally, I’m not a social butterfly, but I have friends who expect things of me, and I’m trying to honor our bonds.

All this, and I am trying to remember to breathe deeply, to live mindfully, and to keep in mind the spiritual and moral lessons I have been learning. :-/  I need to be more strict about meditation in the mornings. Although I do have to say, taking our cat for a walk after I get home from work is quite…not relaxing, per se (you can’t actually “walk” a cat), but it reduces stress levels.  😀

 

Any suggestions from all you equally busy modern folks about how to maintain balance in a world gone nuts-o?

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learning

I am learning patience. I am learning compassion. I am learning to listen to that voice of reason that lives deep inside of me.

For someone so educated and intelligent, I have lived my life very impetuously, heeding my emotions and my basic needs over those higher needs. Struggling against my desire to do everything now now now, struggling against my tendency to judge quickly and for good – these are not easy things for me. So during meditation, I focus on bringing peace into me and expelling compassion into the world. So I’m offering to help others. So I’m remembering to care for that one friend who is no longer as close as she was but who still wants to be friends.

I also like beginning and ending each day with Universalist Prayers. :)

“A multitude of gifts, dependent upon one another, a multitude of hearts, like the stars, we shine; let us shine in hope, in peace, and in love.”

 

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agony

Heartbreak. He broke off the one connection we had. Trying to accept that this one action, this one thing, is all that defines me in his eyes. I’m not a bad person. And yet I did this unforgivable thing. I did this thing, not out of any desire to be devious or cruel or to play games. I was scared. And so I lied to myself, and I lied to him, and the result is this. The result is this utter misery and heartbreak.

I am so sorry, Aaron. I am so very fucking sorry. I never meant to hurt you.

How do you find peace in the midst of this heartbreak? All my pretty words, all my courageous cheer…it was just me trying to make the best of this situation. I will never be the kind of person who admits my heartbreak openly before hundreds. I will always hide it, inwards, cradle it desperately in the deepest part of my being.

I am not a bad person. And yet…how is this the sum of my actions? How is this utter agony all that I am left with at the end of my day? How is this one, single action all that I can remember as I think back over my twenty-five years of life? How do I live, how do I learn, how do I go on, knowing that in this important moment, I completely and utterly failed? How do I live with this betrayal to him and towards myself?

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blessings

So many blessings today!

  • Woke up to an email asking me to set up an interview for a job I really want.
  • Got a voicemail & an email out of the blue from a company that I had interviewed with months ago, telling me they were very interested in me for a new position. I am committed to my current position so I said no BUT I passed on contact info of a friend who would be perfect for that position.
  • A former mentor got in touch with me today, offering support and best wishes.
  • Several ppl were quick to write really nice and wonderful things about me for LinkedIn recommendations.

It was, essentially, positive affirmation day! My job is not quite everything I wish it to be (the pay is too low, the hours not enough, no benefits, etc), but it’s the first step to what could be an amazing, fulfilling career. Funny — I never thought I’d find fulfillment in a career, but here I am, and it’s very possible!

It’s nice to have good things in life again…

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not what, but how you believe

I started writing this yesterday. And then I got distracted by minestrone and pudding and potlucks and stimulating conversation. Community is good to have. :)

 

I very much enjoy Sunday services at the local Unitarian Universalist church. They’re always so uplifting, so focused on positive affirmation, on encouragement and support, on doing good in our own, small ways as opposed to being good according to someone else’s rules, on the search for our own truths and our own beliefs and our own moral codes rather than merely following the text unquestioningly.

Something that has intrigued me for some time is how a group of ppl as diverse in their beliefs as Unitarian Universalists could find anything to agree upon. What binds this group together? In a congregation where you are encouraged to find your own path, what common beliefs and principals bind the community together? Today’s service, which focused on tradition and the passing on of this culture of UU beliefs to the next generations, helps to answer that question: it’s not so much about what you believe as how you believe.

Paul Woodruff’s book on Reverence recently raised this interesting point: doubt and questioning are actually necessary for reverence in religion. About Tennyson, who never explicitly says what he believes in, Woodruff writes, “Doubt supports faith,” and “that he was more religious in his doubt than in his faith.” Then later, in discussing Confucius, Woodruff mentions the sage’s reluctance to state what he believes of Heaven: “Confucius would not resume to speak on behalf of the divine. After all, Heaven itself is able to rule without a word to those below.” Woodruff writes all this to say that reverence is possible across religions, without religion, because of doubt, etc.

And that brings me to my final thought: reverence for the faith of others and reverence for the outwards actions binds this community together. It doesn’t matter what anyone believes in, it matters how they practice their faith. And in the UU community, that means with respect and compassion for others, with service to the community, advocating for social justice, all while searching out the truth for oneself.

It’s funny: I began my quest by questioning the external virtues (see the the beginning of the third paragraph) and focusing on the internal ones, only to discover that the way we act outwards towards our community affects our internal virtues in a crucial way. Always nice to prove myself wrong. It means I’m learning!  :p

 

On a side note, I like the way I began and ended today:  a meditation in the morning and reflective reading and writing in the evening. It’s like surrounding my day with Oreo creamy goodness. :)

 

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we’re all part of the network

I spent the day doing research into social service organizations and charities, especially local ones (a while back I reached out to a local service org to do social media for them, and it looks like that ball might finally start rollin’), and I end the day amazed and awed at the wide range of resources and services offered to ppl, even just within our small community. All these ppl, working hard to selflessly provide others with support, with funds, with manual labor…it just blows my mind.

Until recently, community service has been a rather foreign concept to my mind. I was raised in a community of very insular immigrants who prided themselves on living separate from the rest of society. My parents’ religion was focused more on individual piety rather than on charity and good work and love to one’s neighbors. But upon coming to UM School of Info, I gradually got sucked into this idea of one’s community, of participating in it, and giving to it what I got from it. You see, SI is big on “connecting people, information and technology” (it’s part of their motto), and basically, all classes repeat the same lesson: we are all connected to each other, information does not exist independently of its medium, technology is only useful if it provides connections (whether between information and people or between people and people). Everything is part of a network, every single thing is connected to something else (huh, I never realized that SI had a religious/spiritual doctrine until now, in this context).

And so, while I was learning about communities, connections and networks, I gradually realized my own need for community and the importance of the communities around me. And there was kindled within me the desire to participate within these communities and to provide a little of myself to others, to give something of the very privileged education that I received, the practical skills that I have learned and the love and compassion that I was raised to feel.

I am not doing this entirely selflessly, I’ll admit. By giving, I receive support and human connection from the ppl I work with and for. And in a world where I feel increasingly alone, separated from my family, losing friends as they move across the country, that sense of connection is priceless.

 

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