Category Archives: connection

What I’ve Learned by Being Alone

Before sitting down to write I did a quick Google search on the following words: loneliness & alone.

The results were just as I’d expected.

There were tons of posts on the growing public health concern of loneliness, Psychology Today articles on combatting it as well as the human need for socialization. What I didn’t see in my quick search, however, was what I want to write about here — what I’ve learned and the benefits of being alone.

For the past year and half I’ve been contemplating the concept of being alone. I moved to Long Island in 2014 for a dream opportunity. I packed up my belongings and transplanted myself in a locale quite culturally foreign to me. I came here without a network of friends and only some limited family nearby. I was, for all intents and purposes, alone.

Before I came out here I had a vibrant social life and a unique circle of friends of all ages. I’d also never truly been alone before, at least not in the way that I have been in this new setting. Here I have not been able to call up a friend and announce that on a moments notice, I’d be at their door. I’ve always had friends to explore and hangout with. So, as you can imagine, this change was pretty abrupt and harsh for me.

At first I rejected the area and its inhabitants. I assured myself that it was time for me to put my head down and to work hard — harder than ever before. If I threw myself into my work, I wouldn’t have time to feel lonely. This was partially true. The first few months I was here, I worked like a dog. I tried to push the loneliness out by working so hard that the weekends could only be a time for rest, relaxation and recuperation. But as expected, feelings of loneliness would creep up on me when I least expected them. There I was again – at the beach, in random parking lots, in my kitchen, on the phone, in the car – crying. I had never been so lonely, and for so long, in my entire life.

When I sat down with the purpose of writing about being alone out here, my intent was to explain the life lesson that I’ve been learning and not to make anyone feel bad for me…or worse, for ME to feel for myself. Just so I’m clear, loneliness does not necessarily equate to unhappiness for me.

Sure, I have days where I feel melancholy and nostalgic and wish I had my best friends nearby. I’ve even had extended periods of time where I’ve felt this way. However, what I’ve been feeling recently is more balance between being a social butterfly and being alone.

Before I moved here, there were many things I didn’t know about myself. I never needed to ask myself questions like Who am I? What do I want most? Do I love myself? I had a barrage of social reinforcements that I defined myself against, and our collective mentality was supreme. I was able to be a unique part of a whole, but I never felt truly whole myself without my friend group.  But now that’s different, and I am different. I have more insight now that I didn’t have before, and I know myself better.

I have a better understanding of my social patterns and tendencies.  I know that when I feel alone I use Instagram and Facebook as a crutch to to feel connection. Or that I pursue romantic possibilities even when I’m not fully keen on the person.  And I know that I will pick up the phone and dial everyone in my ‘favorites’ in order to hear a voice on the line who can reassure me that I am still awesome.

These patterns and tendencies are hard to admit because they go against one of my core values–give to yourself what you would ask of others to give to you. To simplify what I mean by that would essentially be to say, “Hey, go connect with yourself. Be your own best friend. Fall in love with yourself.”

But I am only human. And I frequently forget that I am one with everyone and everything — I am never truly alone.

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So what, you may ask, is the benefit of being alone for this long? For me, it has been having enough time to take a good look in the mirror. In the past two years I’ve been able to shift some of my most negative patterns in a more positive direction because I’ve had the time to look within. None of this means that I’ve perfected my ways, but I’ve definitely made progress.

I’ve learned to value myself and my time more. I have learned to be non-judgmental and kind to myself when I am having a off day. I’ve learned that meeting new people takes time and requires lots of patience. I’ve learned to be more patient. I’ve learned that connection is all about quality and not about quantity. I’ve learned to be more aware of my time spent on social media and handheld devices. I’ve learned to get out there and do things that interest me. I’ve learned to kick box and to tango. I’ve learned to be more grateful for the things that I do have. I’ve learned to relish a quiet Friday evening at home, and most of all I’ve learned that “me time” is a necessity.

So while it’s been a bumpy ride over the course of the past few years here on Long Island, I’ve learned a great deal about who I am as a person and what I am capable of manifesting all on my very own.

 

 

 

 

 

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The sacred company of books

Upon stepping through my front door a visitor will discover that I am a hoarder of the sacred. Over the years I have taken great comfort in things that recall my memory to moments of growth and connection with spirit–to places I have lived, and to people and experiences that have touched my heart.

I build alters from stones and feathers found on nature walks. I collect maps from cities I’ve travelled to and postcards written to me from loved ones in far off distant places. I have prayer beads, glass angels, hand carved statues of the Buddha, hamsas to ward of the evil eye, pictures of friends and family, inspirational quotes and journals.

And I have books.

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All kinds of books. Novels and non-fiction, young adult books (yep.), history books, language acquisition books, spiritual self-help books, books on how to be financially conservative, books on how to have difficult conversations, books about war, books about peace, books about love, books about travel, books about yoga, books in French. I have second-hand bookstore books, books from Amazon.com, books I’ve read eight times and books I’ve never read at all.

All of my books are sacred. Each one of them containing a small and profound universe.

My bookshelf represents spiritual potential. As if in a trance or deep meditation–here, physically on my couch or in my bed or on the train–I achieve what the gurus call awakening when I open a book. I am fully engulfed in the present moment, devoured by a black-hole I soar through time and space. I inhale the scent of the pages and I am reborn with each new plot as I dance with both primary and supporting characters alike. I experience the ascent to the climax and come back to this earthly plane only upon pressing a bookmark safely between the book’s pages.

As I near the end of a book, I usally slow down. My curiosity for the summation is over-taken by a feeling of impending nostalgia. Like the feathers and statues and candles and rocks on my alter, I both mourn and celebrate their memory in these words,

The end.

The last page of a book is the sweetest kind of meloncholy. It’s a journey travelled from beginning to end, experienced through my lens and knowledge of self. The experience is highly spiritual and, most importantly, it is mine alone, no matter how many book clubs have read the same work.

Not all stories have happy endings, and I would venture to say that I’ve rarely come across a spectacular book wtih a happy ending. For me, the best books evoke an emotion, which I seek to savour, as if it were a beautifully aged bottle of wine. The conclusion of the best books leaves the reader reflecting on the lessons learned and the growth they have gained as if they lived through the eyes of the characters.

Reading is an act of spirit. It infuses Self into pages filled with words written by another. In that connection between the reader and the author’s text, the walls of illusion fall down and unity is achieved.

As a church is to a Christian, a mosque to a Muslim, a synogogue to a Jew, a temple to a Hindu or Buddhist or the forest to an outdoorsman, so is a library is to me.

Within the walls of a library I am surrounded by a community of seekers–those who crave the unity of written word and spirit. A cohort who worship authors and their works of creative genius and who come back time and again for that unique and individual connection to the divine universe of a good book.

 

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Slow down for what?

Recently the days, weeks and EVEN months have been passing as quickly as a flip book. If I dare to blink, I risk missing it all due to the sheer velocity of which the pages travel.

It’s October now, and I can hardly even recall the past four months. I could blame it on work, and the hectic nature of our busiest season, but ultimately I am the one to blame for letting the present moment slip away from me so effortlessly. I recall sitting at my desk at 8pm on a Wednesday night and wishing for there to be more hours in the day, just so that I could complete everything that needed to be done.

However, because I believed there was not enough time to get everything done, every action that followed this thought came with a sense of urgency. I began to eat my meals standing up in the kitchen…because let’s face it, who has time to sit? I stopped working out…because that’s a luxury for people with time. Writing? Who has time for something you love when you have no time to read all of your emails? Meditation? Ha! Sit still for fifteen minutes everyday?! You’ve got to be kidding me.

I could feel myself burning out and kept telling myself, “push through, next month will be better.” But as the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months, I realized that it wouldn’t get better unless I slowed down. What’s more,  I was solidifying a dangerous pattern into my psyche that is very hard to unlearn.

I began to think in terms of lack rather than abundance.

Not only was there not enough time, there wasn’t enough money, not enough love! On this slippery slope, I began to slide. The slide wasn’t fast and it wasn’t without resistance. I saw what was happening to myself, but I ultimately couldn’t control it.  Until I finally took a deep breath.

(INSERT DEEP BREATH HERE).

AH, there it is, the key to it all. A conscious deep breath is an acknowledgement of the present moment, in which we always reside whether we are aware of it or not.

So now that I am breathing again, how do I make a 180-turn around from lack to abundance? Here are a few steps I am taking to bring myself back into alignment and achieve abundance in all aspects of my life.

1. Fake it til you make it. When we have functioned with the idea of lack in the back of our heads for a significant period of time it is hard to believe that you are enough and will always have enough. So, fake it until you begin to see some results.

If you don’t think you have enough money, give away the last 5 dollars in your wallet.

If you don’t think you have enough love, send someone you love a handwritten note proclaiming your love.

If you don’t think you have enough time, sit down and, as slowly as you can, drink a hot cup of tea.

2. Give thanks. Gratitude is a huge factor in how we perceive abundance in our lives. A gracious mentality will shift our energy field from negative to positive, and in doing so attract like-minded thoughts, people and events into our lives.

Today I am grateful that I was able to sit down and write this post. The satisfaction I receive from writing is so much more than than the satisfaction of checking off items from my daily to-do list. Laundry? Sure it needs to be done, but hey, I’ve got time …and 2 more pair of underwear until I actually NEED to do it.

3. Take a time out from your screens. I, like the rest of humanity these days, am addicted to my cell phone, my computer, my social networks, etc. etc. etc. Commit to powering down every now and then. It will help you to manage the sense of urgency that technology creates for us to be (in the words of Daft Punk) harder, better, faster, stronger. The world will not stop if you turn your phone off periodically. In fact, by taking some time away from our handhelds I would argue that we will increase our productivity. The world will continue to spin and we will be more present to the beauty and opportunity around us in the moment.

4. Make yourself a priority. When everyone else’s needs come before your own, you can be sure that you will become resentful. Do specific things for yourself everyday that contribute to your mental health and well-being.

Go to the gym. Read a book. Cook a healthy meal! Go for a nice walk in the woods. Create something beautiful. Meditate. Dance. These are just a few things that make me happy and restore me. Ask yourself what makes you happy, and make doing it a priority!

At first, slowing down means more routine, because it takes a bit more planning and commitment. However, the ultimate goal is to turn it into ritual–the more positive and spiritual counterpart of routine.

Slow down for what? 

Slow down for your health, Slow down for your well being. Slow down so you will reap the bounty of abundant gifts from the universe.

lil john\

Lil Jon agrees.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 39: Manifesting In the Light of the Moon

The potent energy of the full moon has the ability to amplify not only our emotions (if you’ve been reading this week, you’ll certainly be able to tell that I’m a moon child) but also our desires. With tonight’s blood moon eclipse, these lunar energies are 10 times the strength of a regular full moon. So how can we use our energy for positive manifestation? It is my firm belief that the things we bring forth into our lives are a direct result of the energy we put into them. Be they negative or positive, the energies we release into the universe resonate and we will experience them in their karmic form in one way or another.  The key to manifesting what we want, is being grateful for what we already have.

I have a friend whose negative attitude about finding a job has rendered him incapable of actually finding a job! He is a smart, qualified and competitive candidate, yet every time he submits an application, he tells himself that he won’t get the job. He kills his oppotunity before he allows the universe to let it manifest,  because, I believe, he is afraid to be let down. What he doesn’t realize he is doing, is directing negative energy right at his chance of actually landing a job, and thus, he remains forever in cover letter purgatory. And by purgatory, I actually mean the fiery pits of the comedic inferno. Seriously.

But alas, this a lesson my dear friend must learn in stride, because negativity is as much of a choice as positivity. I for one, stand firm in my conviction that my practice of gratitude has made me see the bright side of every new moon, and I am a happier and more positive being as a result. I can’t help but sound a bit boastful here, but my positivity has had an infectious reaction. I can’t stop meeting amazing people, falling into serendipitous happenings and attracting fabulous things into my life. All I can say is that my life is so bountifully blessed with good health, loving friends and family, a wonderful education, an incredible career and a globe that has my footprints tread all over it’s soil.

I am beyond grateful.

I am sublimely happy.

And yet, it is my human nature to have it all and to want more. Not more in the consumer sense. No, I don’t have a burning desire for money or fame (though there is nothing wrong with those who do desire those things). What I desire most, and what I am asking to manifest in this lunar eclipse is the shiva to my shakti. I want to unite the femine and masculine energies in my life so that I can find a harmonious balance in love.

Love is who I am. I have a natural spring that flows from my heart, and a well that will never run dry. Yet, the balance of the shiva and shakti remain a mystery to me. Under the light of tonight’s blood moon, I sit.  What comes out as audible may sound like a faint whisper as it is swallowed by the howling winds, but to the Universe, my heart roars the question, where is my shiva?

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Tonight, I will go the extra step and give thanks to him before he even exists. In my gratitude, I emit a ray of positivity and happiness that will be seized by the lunar eclipse and my heart’s call will echo across the universe so that I may manifest him into my life.

Can you hear me now?

Good.

How ’bout now?

Good.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 27: N-om-ad

I don’t know how I made it through 26 days of gratitude without being grateful to the place I inhabit in the deep, dark enigma we call cyberspace. This blog has been one of the most surprising and delightful projects I’ve ever taken on. It has been a place for me to chronicle my travels, reflect on my life and grow as both a writer and a human being.

When I began this blog in August of 2011, I was preparing to move to France, and to live abroad for my first extended period of time as an English Assistant in a small French village. At that time, my blog was more for the people at home than it was for me. It was a way of letting my Mom and her friends know I was alive and for perhaps making some snarky comments on the differences between French and American culture.

By 2012, my blog started to become a place for me and my more academic thoughts, as I began to use it to make social commentaries on my new foreign home, Morocco. Here I found a place for me to carefully construct posts about Moroccan culture and identity. At this point, my blog developed into a space for me to hone my writing skills. Being recognized for my post, Mi-chemin; At the Intersection of Tradition and Modernity, by WordPress gave me a boost in my confidence, and ignited a passion for writing that I never knew existed. As my readership sky-rocketed I began to feel like my writing was reaching the far corners of the earth, and I knew that I was achieving what I always wanted, connecting with people far and wide, and sharing some of my learned wisdom on them.

When 2013 rolled around, I had soundly developed my social and cultural commentary, which lead to my spiritual growth spurt. In this time, my blog morphed itself into a house for my spiritual reflections. In the first three months post walking El Camino de Santiago, this blog became a crutch for me. It was the a place for me to purge all of the thoughts in my head into a word processor, and hope that said processor had caught each and every thought and transformed them into something cohesive. There were so many posts that came from the depths of my soul in that time, especially, Falling or Flying; Uniting the Yin and Yang of Life, which ultimately made its way into the Elephant Journal and solidified my quest into blogdom. This post was written as fast as my fingers could communicate with my head and my heart, and the result is something that I am incredibly proud of.

2014 started slowly, with blogs few and far between. My passion for writing remained, but my creative juices had become stagnant and I lost some perspective as I struggled to navigate a very vague transition with a very limited idea of my direction forward. At this time, my blog became a space where I could re-read and re-live. I was not creating, but I was living off of my creations. All of my thoughts, which had been so diligently saved in cyberspace, were easily a click away, and I often would revisit them in order to reap the boon of their wisdom. I also used them as a comparison from the then to the now.

My current project, Attitude of Gratitude, was taken on as my Lenten promise in order to reconnect with my Catholic faith, to get me back on track with my writing, and ultimately, to practice what I preach. These past few weeks have been unique and fulfilling,  as a result of the thanks I’ve offered daily. This blog and all of the gratitude I’ve expressed have helped me process an incredible life transition. These daily acts have increased my over all happiness and are steering me forward from this present moment into future present moments.

Thus today, I am grateful to my blog, N-om-ad, for it has provided me with a canvas to create my art, as well as a place to reflect and grow. I am also grateful to all of my readers; whether you are strangers, friends or family, thank you for taking the time to get to connect with me!  Fun fact:  N-om-ad has been read in over 110 countries and is followed by 333 (and counting) bloggers! And last, but not least, I am thankful to my ever changing life. Each day is a journey, and just as nomadic tribes navigate across deserts in search of fertile lands and watering holes for their herds, I, too, have been navigating across countries and, of course, across my soul–Can you keep up?

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 24: Unexpected Connection

Yesterday, after work, I went with some colleagues to have a few drinks at the bar. Being that I am just visiting the Boston office, and I am new to the team, getting to know people in a more casual setting is a nice way for me to put faces to names and build my connections. The night took an unexpected turn towards amazing, when I struck up conversation with a young woman named Bethlehem.

As our conversation evolved from the typical, what’s your name? where are you from? chitter-chatter, we both began to recognize that we “read from the same book.”  Our conversation was a journey of self-discovery and the bar around us faded into the background. The only indicator I had to denote the length of our conversation was the 3 empty glasses of Malbec. Our conversation flowed from travel to spirit, spirit to conflict, conflict to identity, and finally identity back to spirit. We discussed books and critiqued philosophies; we talked about religion and about God and our role prophetic models, Carl Jung, Christ and the Buddha.

As the after work crowd began to dwindle, we came back into our surroundings and mingled back in with our remaining colleagues. Together, we felt like a force of wisdom, strengthened by the old age of our souls. We began to talk with one of our co-workers about relationships, and we completed each others thoughts and nodded vigorously as the other spoke. Upon leaving, Bethlehem, a stranger two and a half hours prior, said to me, “I feel like I am talking to myself seven years ago.”

Upon hearing this I to stopped and acknowledged the feeling of unity and oneness of all beings. If she is me, seven years my senior, I am excited for all of the spiritual growth yet to come. And thus, I am grateful for an unexpected connection, and the reminder that continuing to feed the soul with deep analysis and discussion is how I will ultimately continue to grow. I am thankful for my spiritual community and for all the people in my life who nourish and push my spiritual boundaries.

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Attitude of Gratitude — Day 12 : The Moon

Though I’ve previously posted about connection, I see fit for a bow of gratitude to today’s full moon and how it emphasizes connection in my life. As a Cancer, my ruling planet is the moon and when it is full my energy field is hyper sensitive on many levels. As the moon symbolizes many things, including femininity, fertility, emotions, maternity, sensitivity, memory, death, decay and connection, I often feel a strong pull to one or many of these symbols when she is baring her full form. As the waxing gibbous moon transitioned to her full form today, I began to connect and reconnect with friends both new and old.

From yesterday afternoon until late this afternoon I drew people in close like the gravitational pull of the earth draws the moon into orbit.

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It started yesterday in the afternoon when I met Ed and his son Jordan on the train into Manhattan. What could have been a very brief encounter as I asked for directions on the train platform, turned into an hour and a half long train ride and a subsequent exchange of contacts. As this exchange was taking place, a seemingly quiet stranger across the aisle of the train was drawn into our conversation.  She made a joking remark about me picking up strangers on the train and then asked if I wanted her business card too. My attitude, perhaps contrary to what we’re taught as young children is ALWAYS talk to strangers, because you never know what kind of beautiful addition they might give to your life. Thus, I quipped that if she had one, I would surely take it. As it turns out my new friend is a yoga teacher on Long Island and I now have a weeks worth of free classes at her studio, Always at Aum in Babylon. Big time win. New friends and free yoga…I like everything about that!

While yesterday was full of new connections, today was a day meant for reconnecting with some old friends. The morning started early in Brooklyn as I called one of my dear friends and former USF classmates, Allie. We met for coffee and talked, as only the two of us can, about our emotions–of which we have many. Our conversations are always very cathartic and we ended up lifting each other’s moods significantly. Following my java break with Allie, I met up with another USF classmate, Sarah. Sarah and I had multiple classes together in the International Studies major, but never had the opportunity to connect whilst in SF. She recently reached out to me via Linkedin, when she saw that I was living in New York. Today I met with an old face, and connected a story to it.  I’m genuinely excited to have her as a “new” friend here in New York. Following my hang out with Sarah, I met up with James and his girlfriend Anne. James is, perhaps one of the most influential human beings in my life. He was my inspiration for El Camino and a person, whom I was absolutely certain upon the first time we met each other, that our souls new each other in a past life. Being in his presence  always makes me feel like I am celebrating the very best things that life has to offer, and being around such a dynamic couple was the very best way to end my brief jaunt to the Big Apple this weekend.

Thus, today, I am very grateful to the moon for illuminating some beautiful connections in my life, both old and new.

Goodnight moon.

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Attitude of Grattitude — Day 4 : Putting Down Roots

Bearers of the astrological sun sign, Cancer, such as myself, are known to be very domestic beings. They like their house, and the comforts of their possessions gathered in closely around them. I have felt the urge for years to own a bookcase, my own queen-sized bed, and to hang pictures of my friends and family on my walls. But since I left “the nest” 7-years ago, I’ve hardly had the time to lay some roots. I’ve lived in college dormitories and a smattering of foreign counties, and have never lived close enough to home to warrant more than two 50-pound suitcases full of possessions.

Whilst living abroad, my cancer crab self hoarded little nick knacks with the hope of some day placing them neatly on an alter in my very own sacred space. I’ve collected tapestries, rugs, soap dishes, hand towels, place mats, etc… and have finally (FINALLY!) gathered all of my belongings in around me into my little shell, and have started the process of growing my roots.

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Today, for the first time ever, I have begun to weave my nest in a location that has the potential life span of 2+ years. The feeling has been mildly overwhelming, as roots are the antithesis of my nomadic lifestyle, but I am excited to embrace the transition from drifter to bed owner, and sigh knowing that from here on out (unless I join an order of monks) I will be hiring a U-haul truck to move me from one shell to the next.

But the feeling of change and rootedness are the things I am grateful for today. Not to mention my stellar family and friends who helped me transport and carry my entire life into my new apartments.

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So much gratitude! Let the nesting begin!

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Attitude of Gratitude — Day 2 : Community

Today I am grateful for community

Growing up in a small town. my family, teachers and fellow community members helped me to build a strong foundation and have positively impacted the way I move through life. They taught me that if I’m in need, to reach out for help. Conversely, they also helped me hone the skill of unconditional giving. When I sense that others are in need, I jump quickly at the opportunity to give back to the communities that have supported me through and through. From an early age it was instilled in me that a strong sense of community is paramount. I recall the words of a song we sand in elementary school vividly,

“What makes a community, is all of us together. Night or day –work or play– in any kind of weather, we’re all birds of a feather.”

From sports teams to marching bands, drama productions to community service projects, the notion of the collective was always emphasized. 

I have been so blessed to feel such a strong sense of community in the many different places I’ve lived. As my journey has unfolded before me, I have made communities of faithful supporters  and friends in Vermont, San Francisco, France, Morocco, Spain and most recently New York.

With all of the enormous transitions I’ve been making into my new career, I have felt so deeply grateful to the people in my life who have been there for me as cheerleaders and role models. Feeling so deeply embraced by all the different communities in my life, I am given the strength that propels me forward and has consequently been responsible for the enormous successes I have achieved. 

In the words of Tupac Shakur, “I am a reflection of my community.” 

When I look in the mirror I see so many things I am proud of. So many successes and achievements, so much growth and development. All of this is a result of the communities who have supported me during critical periods of life transitions.

Thank you for pushing me outside of my comfort zone, thank you for listening to me talk through my thoughts, thank you for the encouragement, thank you for the financial support, thank you for the infinite inspiration. 

Love, 

Lizzie

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40 Days Catholic: My Lenten Promise — Attitude of Gratitude

I’m Catholic.
I’m Catholic?
I grew up Catholic.

Catholicism has been a label attached to my identity since my infantile baptism. It was not a choice I made cognitively. Nor were the wrote memorization of prayers, Sunday school, or First Communion. It wasn’t until the 10th grade that I took any leadership in my Catholic identity. By this point I had been a Catholic for 15 years, and the decision to proceed with my confirmation was one of blind acceptance. No internal questions were asked; I did it because I wanted to, and because it was the next stamp in my Catholic passport.

Church in my family was a regular Sunday event growing up. It was never any fun, but I went and I followed all the rules. I stood up, I sat down, I knelt, I sang, I prayed. After church I got to eat donuts…so that was cool. If I wasn’t scraping the nail polish from my nails, I was playing interior decorator and imagining how the sacred space could house my four-poster bed, comfy plush couches, dressers, lava lamps and a closet that would make Cher from Clueless jealous.

Let’s face it, I was there because I had to be, not because I wanted to be.

As my journey with religion and spirituality progressed I drifted away from the Catholic church. I felt disenfranchised and unsupported. I equated the church with intolerance, patriachy and greed. I disassociated myself with the term Catholic. There was too much guilt attributed with my identity and I wanted to purge myself of it.

This is when I disovered Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco’s Ternderloin District. It was a place of acceptance, tolerance, and most importantly LOVE. Their weekly celebration uplifted the community through song and praise. They talked the talk, and they walked the walk. With liberation theology as their underlying tenet, they work to combat social injustices caused by poverty and social inequality.

Finally feeling connected to spirit and Self for the first time, Glide became my primary sacred space to worship in. As my journey into yoga started around the same time, the two spiritual practices began healing me of my Catholic guilt and began molding me in the spirutal being I am today.

Many years later, the concern about my catholic identity still lingered. Catholicism was my foundation. I can still recite the prayers and take comfort in the hymns, though it has been many years since I’ve stepped foot into my local parish. My journey along El Camino started with the intention of reconnecting to my Catholic identity, and in preparation I attended mass all summer long in France and Spain.

And then I walked.

I walked through all the questions and I came to recognize that my spirit is not Catholic, but that my identity is. My identity is also many other things now. As a result of my travels abroad and my daily practices I now identify as a yogi, a buddhist AND a muslim…and so much more. I see myself as part of everything and follow my own religion, the religion of my heart.

With all that being said, I can now explain my 40 day lenten promise. This practice was something that I grew up with as a Catholic, and I’ve given up everything from chocolates and candy to Facebook over the 40-day fasting period leading up to Easter Sunday.

This year, however, I have a new lenten promise. It’s not to give up anything, but rather to take up something. I racked my brain over and over and came to the conclusion that there are many things I want to do more of. In order to not overwhelm myself and to stick to my promise I’ve decided to write every day for 40 days. But not just to write about anything, I want to write on the theme of gratitude.

So, for the next 40 days I will be posting one blog a day about something that I am grateful for.

Attitude of Gratitude — Day 1: I am grateful for Glide Memorial Church for taking me in, opening my heart and allowing me to see that religion is not about intolerance and greed. Rather, it is about community, solidarity, radical inclusiveness, truth telling, hope, celebration and love. I am eternally grateful for that sacred space of worship as I consider it to be the catalyst of my higher spiritual journey. Thank you Glide, Reverend Cecil Williams, Janice Mirikitani. Rev. Karen Oliveto and all the beautiful souls who regularly accompanied me to Sunday service — Jessica Roach, Allie Thompson, Zannah Herridge Meyer and Erika Myszynski. I am grateful to your sources of inspiriation and your spirit!

lizzie

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