Something Worth Sharing

This recently appeared on a blog with infrequent, but deeply interesting and thoroughly researched posts:

I don’t enjoy debates. Nothing comes of them. Just greater and greater polarization. The “winner” isn’t even necessarily the one with the best “facts.” Gary Taubes shared this quote with me recently, which I find really insightful. Dallas Willard, a well-known ecumenical pastor and theologian, was often invited to debate the existence of God and other matters. These invitations included Richard Dawkins himself.  His response: “I don’t debate, but I am glad to enter into a joint inquiry. We will seek the truth together.” That’s the attitude I like.
                                                         The Eating Academy - The Personal Blog of Peter Attia

The post is entitled "Success versus Failure:  a stark juxtaposition" and is on a topic near and dear to me -- obesity.

I appreciated the entire post, but this paragraph sang out to me as something worth sharing. 

Treacherous Dichotomies

I, like many people, started out life with a childlike assumption that things were either good or evil.

Heaven or Hell
Conservative or Liberal
Choice or Limitation
Reward or Punishment

The problem with these black and white categorizations is the hardened views that people come to have of one another because of labels popularized or demonized by society and the media.  Instead of taking time to find out the why and how, they see the shallow interpretation presented by an oversimplified group mindset.

I now believe that if people with different views could see their connectedness instead of dwelling on sensationalized conflict, we have a better chance of getting past the conflict itself while focusing on education and genuine compassion and love.  Imagine if decisions in governments, schools, businesses and homes were all made from love instead of good intentions spoiled by greed and self-preservation.

I am seriously in danger of sounding like a hippie, but that would be a popular label, wouldn't it?

In my own life,  reaching beyond conventional labels and old stories allowed me to see a more complete picture of the true nature of things.

For example, when I was a little girl I loved church, patent leather shoes, joyful singing and clapping, and fried chicken lunches in the church basement.  More importantly, I loved knowing that I was "good" and there was a clear and narrow path to being "good."

Then my family moved to the Chicago area when I was in middle school and my view of the world and my earthly role as a spiritual being began to dissolve.

Major life travel...depression...confusion...(read that story here)...

20 years later my faith had all but evaporated until I met some Mormon friends in Arizona as a mom of three young kids with a penchant for asking penetrating questions.

They gave me a lot to consider.  Perhaps the very narrow version of Christianity I knew as a child, wasn't the truth.  The shame and guilt that followed me around everywhere I went led me to believe that I was not and never could be worthy of love.

I now know with every fiber of my being that it's actually about the love.  Whether the particular brand of protestantism I knew had brandished a vengeful God's anger too much, or I had let it loom too large in the big picture, I was missing the true heart of spiritual teaching: simple, pure, whole love.

With this more complete understanding of mistakes and perspective I now see our time on Earth as a circle, or perhaps even an upward spiral.  We spend it either drifting away from our true selves or gravitating toward a more complete existence.

Managing Stress vs Reducing Stress?

I think this is one of the most important distinctions a person can make.

First, I love Carol Tuttle's messages of healing.  She teaches about energy profiles and lots of other interesting techniques for changing the way people see themselves and their life purpose.  Her teaching has planted lots of seeds in my mind that have later grown into life goals and "standing in my own truth" as she would say.

I read the phrase "how to live a stress-free life rather than how to manage stress" in one of her recent works and I instantly thought of all the choices my family has made to eliminate sources of stress rather than try to continue dealing with them:

Radical Diet Change


Moving back to the Midwest

Living True to Our Personality Types

I have said before that once we made the first change to our diet, it was so empowering that we were not willing to tolerate any other blatantly unhealthy parts of our life.  It was as if we had been living with blinders on.  Once they were off, they were off.  You cannot "un-know" truth after you know it.

So, instead of spending so many futile hours trying to hem in anxiety attacks, or using various techniques to calm myself.  I started letting life happen.  I got raging angry, utterly sad, and then decided to do something about the sources of that anger and sadness.  It took time, reflection, a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them.

This blog is the latest big move I have made to remind myself and to help others navigate mood disorder, parenthood, eating well, self-care, homeschooling, risk-taking, and changing perspectives on life.

Thanks to all those who have visited and commented so far.  The feedback has been immensely encouraging!

Life of a Tree - Part 2

In certain situations, it has been easier for me to think in terms of symbols before I'm able to speak the sacred truth.  When something is so revealing, it's like pulling off a band-aid.

Also, asking awkward, seemingly random questions is my trademark amongst family and friends.  I've been told it's annoying and off-putting.  My goal is to find out how a person thinks, but they usually walk away feeling like I put them on the spot.  I try not to do this anymore, but sometimes I can't help myself.

I feel a force out of my control blurting out the question.  Sometimes it surprises even me.

When I asked someone what kind of tree they were recently, the answer I received was so amazing.  The response said, "I see your symbolism, and I raise you another layer of symbolism."

          What kind of tree are you?

          I was a tree that was diseased and had to be cut down to a stump.  Now I'm a healthier 
          kind of tree.

After his response, he suggested that my question was a little too airy and might not be taken seriously.

Of course he's right.

What I mean to say was this:

Life is a series of symbols.

Will you see them, seek to understand them?

Will you accept that there is more at work in your life than your physical and emotional existence coupled with the randomness of interactions between you and other people?

For me, the answer is that it is more hopeful and more fun to see an armadillo on the side of the road and treat it as a sign that I will need to protect my inner self in the coming days.  Otherwise it's just a bizarre little roadside creature and I have no control over what is happening in my life or anyone else's.  And there is little point to our lives other than to survive until we die.

Nope, that’s too bleak for me.  In fact, it’s my worst fear – that we, that I, have no higher purpose.

The possible negative consequence is that some will consider me a little kooky or ungrounded. 

Pssshhh…These side effects are not important enough to keep me from fulfilling my purpose, which is to reveal more light in the world by articulating and sharing stories.

At the very least I am painting a picture of interconnectedness, joy, and what I believe to be the meaning of life.

So here I am as a writer with the final filter of fear removed -- fearing what others will say, fearing being wrong, or not good enough.

The Life of a Tree

Consider the sapling, working overtime to establish roots and gain a foothold in its place.  It's vulnerable, but positively brimming with hope.

The more mature tree is fed by sunlight, air, nutrients in the soil, relying on those roots and shoots to convey what it needs and grow even healthier.

The fully grown tree rubs shoulders with venerable neighbors and maybe even rises above them.  It is still relying on the roots it worked to create as a sapling, but it is now solidly a part of the environment, a respected landmark, a reliable feature in the landscape, sure of its strength and worth.

What kind of tree are you?