Category Archives: Lent

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 3–Productivity

With all of the winter weather we’ve been experiencing these past few weeks, it has felt impossible to accomplish anything. This week was the first week we haven’t had a disruptive snowstorm to throw a wrench in my workweek since the end of January. It took me a week to catch my breath from the full throttle around the clock work schedule I have been working for nearly a month, but today was one of those days where I planted myself at my desk and got some actual work done.

There is nothing as satisfying for me than the feeling of being productive. The last few weeks have taken a toll on my emotional health, and I was about to throw my hands in the air, and say to hell with this. But things moved forward today in a manner that I can truly be grateful for, and I am glad to feel some relief from the emotional havoc and fatigue caused by the massive disruptions to my routine.

Today I am grateful to my laundry list of things I’ve been wanting to get around to, and even more grateful to say that I have made some good headway into them. I can thoroughly enjoy the weekend with a light heart!

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 33: Lightening Our Loads

Today I was supposed to write about self-sacrifice, but I decided that sounded a little too heavy as far as my day goes. However, something that I can be grateful for, which directly relates to self-sacrifice, is teamwork. If you think about it, self-sacrifice means to give up your own convenience (for lack of a better word) for the benefit of a group. Teamwork, is this and more!

Working in a team means that the groups functionality must take precedence over our own convenience. Sometimes when we work as a team, we have to make compromises. But in a team, we can accomplish so much more than as just one person. Therefore, we ultimately make everyone’s life less burdensome by spreading out the weight of a hefty task upon many shoulders.

The idea of lightening our load through teamwork is what I am grateful for today. Whether it is a physical or mental task, a personal issue or a collective issue, sharing it with others makes it easier. Today in particular I have two very different examples of how teamwork has worked to my benefit. The first is very evident, as it happened in the work place–a common space for teamwork. Today my staff and I sat down together and re-divvied up our tasks. We will be working together over the next few weeks to train each other on how to do the new tasks. The goal of re-delegating was to freshen up the environment and breathe some enthusiasm into what had become wrote and mundane. We all agreed that this would take some work to learn our new tasks, but that ultimately the team would function better once we had our new routines mastered.

My second example relates more to emotional teamwork. I don’t know if this is even a thing, but I’m sure somewhere in a psychology journal someone wrote the obvious: sharing an emotional burden with a friend, family or stranger helps take the pressure off of ourselves. Today, I am grateful to my best friend, Kaitlin, for being my sounding board. My friends, in general, are always there to listen with an open ear whenever I have something I want to talk through. They’ve helped me lighten many a burden, just be giving me the space to analyze and get things off my chest.

As I lighten my mental and emotional burdens, I am of course lightening my physical burden through this cleanse. I feel much lighter from the juice already! And in case you were wondering if  I was hungry as a result of the juice cleanse, the answer is YES!  But, I’m more hungry for wisdom, and the mindfulness component of this cleanse is filling me up.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 32: Humility

Today, I’ve committed to writing my gratitude post about humility, though, admittedly, I am not 100% clear on the definition of the word itself. Perhaps because it’s one of those multi-faceted words that, as you begin to define it, evolves.

For me, humility often is associated with the quieting of the ego. It’s the force that de-puffs our chests and softens our footsteps and accepts our limitations. Being humble is also an act of gratitude and appreciation towards ourselves and others. A humble persons pays a compliment, lauds the successes of others, practices radical listening and does not make comparisons. What’s more, a humble person remains open to their surroundings. They embrace each moment with a sense of awe and wonder. They are connected to the gentle ebb and flow of the universe and remain in child-like wonder of the big picture.

Practicing humility is not something that I often think to do. In our culture we’re not taught to be humble. We hoard and brag and strive to get ahead at the expense of others. Paradoxically, we’re taught from a young age not to hurt each other’s feelings so we feign humility by disguising our accomplishments. But this too, is an act of comparison, because it stems from the belief that my success will make you feel inadequate. The result is often times a silent party full of self-approval and the simultaneous down-putting of another person.

In order to fully comprehend humility, however, we must fully comprehend the source of all things–love. I chose Christ as my role model, as we are in the Lenten season, but anyone who truly preaches a message of love can fully grasp the concept of humility. The source of all things is love–and when we can look behind the cloak of illusion, when I can love a stranger, as I love myself or those close to me, is when I break through the surface of humility. As I delve deeper below the surface, my humbled human form realizes that there is no separation between myself and another, myself and the beautiful flower on my side table, nor the things that we consider ugly and oppressive. The particles in me are the same particles spread through everything in the universe.

Today I am grateful for renewed perspective; I am a part of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. I am small and humble, yet undeniably significant.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 31: A New Take on the Last Supper

Maundy Thursday (the celebration of the Last Supper, which took place on the eve of Good Friday) is a little less than two weeks away, but tonight I partook in a “last supper” of sorts. Tomorrow, I begin a 5 day juice cleanse, in which I will drink all of my nutrients in order to purify and reboot my digestive system. Combining the, “you are what you eat” philosophy with some Eucharistic theology of Christ’s Last Supper, the aim of my juice fast is to forgive,  purify and raise myself up in humbled grace.

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According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the last supper symbolizes. among many things, Christ’s humility; refusing to prove himself the Son of God, he humbly chose self-sacrifice over exhibiting external, miraculous powers. At supper, he broke bread with his disciples whom he acknowledged as his friends. The breaking of bread being the symbolic foreshadowing of Christ’s broken body, and the wine, the blood he shed to forgive the sins of humanity.

And though Christ may have expunged our sins upon his crucifixion, we continue to sin nonetheless. It is my belief that one of society’s greatest sins is our utter lack of appreciation for our vessel–the human body. In the United Sates in particular, where nearly 1/3 of children and adolescents are considered overweight or obese, large agricultural and pharmaceutical  industries are doing their best to make us sick.  Our diets are now scientifically linked to the sharp increase of  obesity related diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  We are encouraged/ duped to mindlessly consume processed sugars, foods pumped full of chemicals and preservatives, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and growth hormones; as a result, our generation is the first expected to live shorter lives than those of our parents! I find it outrageous, gluttonous and sinful that we actively disregard our privilege and participate in our own systemic demise.

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Thus, tonight, after my “last supper,” I began to think of a juice cleanse as being my way of offering some forgiveness to humanity for what we have done to our bodies as a result of our consumptive attitude. The Christ-like qualities I would like to embody–humility, self-sacrifice, friendship, love and divinity– will be the subsequent themes for my next five gratitude posts, as well as each day’s meditative intention while I fast.

Tonight, I give thanks to my belly full of  curried tofu and vegetables, roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potato wedges, and I look forward to revving up the Vita-mix, and experiencing all the challenges and rewards of purifying my body, mind and soul!

Amen, right on, shalom, salaam, namaste!

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 29: Leggo my ego

Like any self-driven human being, I set standards, expectations and goals. It’s a way for me to measure my successes and to track my personal growth. Though the legitimacy of my progress is evident with just the slightest bit of self-reflection, I often run the risk of not living up to my own expectations. What’s more, I am also frequently let down by the actions of others whose standards, expectations and goals do not match my own.

Today I’m writing this post for multiple reasons, though particularly as a chance for me to acknowledge the fact that yesterday I failed to write. Not writing yesterday isn’t something I feel any panic about, though I do feel a sense of self judgement and disappointment because I didn’t complete my task sans flaw. I know I could just write two posts today and call my guilt good, but I’ve decided against that course of action because I want to reflect on the validity of leniency and letting go.

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Every so often we need to cut ourselves some slack. I once had a yoga teacher who said, “I don’t make my classes hard because I want you to push yourselves beyond your limit. I make them hard so you can recognize where your ego is telling you to do more than you are capable of on this day. When you find your personal limit, you are not weak for backing off, you are strong for telling your ego to let go.”

I remember being wowed by this statement, and it has never left me. I needed this reminder while I was walking the Camino. One day I pushed myself too hard and walked 40km. My tendonitis flared back up and, though it killed me to do so, I had to let go of the idea of walking every kilometer of the trail. It wasn’t going to be possible in the time frame that I had so I took the bus. GASP. But the lesson I learned that day was perhaps more valuable than the walking itself. I had to tell my ego, which wanted to boast that it walked EVERY SINGLE STEP, to be quiet. On that day, I couldn’t physically walk and I was stronger for recognizing this and taking the necessary measures so as not to hurt myself any more.

This lesson can and should be applied to ourselves as often as possible, but it is also very useful in relationships with others. I’ve had relationships, both friendly and romantic, where I’ve pushed myself to my limit in the search for perfection. My ego, is the part of me that registers disappointment in others. It’s a comparison of my desire with theirs that, when unequal, generates hurt. When my ego rears its head, which it does every so often, it takes the strongest part of me  to tell it to back off. My ego wants to attach itself to a story of disappointment, but my higher Self is so much bigger than that.

Letting go in relationships is probably the most challenging thing we, as humans, can do. In an attempt to control and perfect, we fail to see that everyone is on their unique journey through life. I’ve seen this with parents who push their children to be something they don’t want to be for the sake of monetary gain and “success”. I’ve also seen this with friendships and romantic relations where, though their paths have diverged, one or both of the people cling desperately to the past out of fear for the present.

What I’ve learned through both observation and experience is that the healthiest relationships are those grounded in non-attachment. This doesn’t mean that we don’t  care for and communicate to our friends, families, and partners, rather, it recognizes that their journey is transpiring simultaneously alongside our own. In order for them to live out their personal truth, they must go forth, alone, with your blessing, support and love. Attachment stunts those we love. Ego is attachment, love is its opposing force.

So today, my dose of gratitude is for yesterday’s non-post. I am grateful, once again, for the life lessons I’m learning through this writing experience. Sometimes these lessons come from a place of quiet awareness and non-action, and I’m grateful that I was attentive enough today to see this. I am truly grateful to my higher Self, which took the opportunity to learn as opposed to judge, and I am grateful to my ego for letting go of its self expectations.

 

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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 19: Bittersweet Transitions

There are multiple moments in my life where transitioning from something comfortable into the unknown has been electrifying, yet all together bittersweet. Leaving behind people and places in order to embrace the unfamiliar is never easy, and I have done this multiple times throughout my late teens and early twenties as I moved away from home and subsequently made my way all around the world.

Though I feel that this transition into some semblance of an “adult” life is well underway, it has brought up lots of of reflections on all the people and places in my life that were once brand new– all the strangers that became friends, places that became home.

I always think back on these people and places in fond reminiscence, and there are so many little triggers that quickly jog my memory of them. I can smell Burkina Faso. I can dance San Francisco. I can drink France. I can hear Morocco. I can walk Spain. These small things, which act as portals and transport me through time, if only for a minute or two, so that I can relive a beautiful moment, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by beautiful friends. And when I come back to the present, it’s always with a smile and a sigh. A smile of thanks for all the day’s that have been seized, and for all of the amazing people whose presence has graced my life. But also, a sigh of longing for the days gone by,and the people who are now so far away.

Thus, today I am thankful for the smiles and sighs, because I have been blessed with countless opportunities to discover the world and to befriend genuinely amazing people. They are a reminder that each one of my fond memories was once an uncomfortable new beginning, which blossomed into something worth longing for when it passed.

And if I am able to remain aware through discomfort of the new life chapter I’ve begun, I can let the wave of bittersweet memories wash up on the shore of the present moment, and offer up some gratitude to those people and places who have made my life so meaningful.  I must continue to breathe myself back into the present moment, so that I am able to create new memories here and now that will ultimately be worthy of a smile and a sigh sometime down the road.  There-were-some-memories-1024x884

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Attitude of Gratitude — Day 15: Cleanliness and Order

After a few weeks of what feels like a chaotic shift from my routine schedule, I sensed a glimmer of hope that sometime soon I will have things more organized. Disorder = my least favorite thing–ever. And this week, my life has made very little room for me to do me, leading to complete and utter dysfunction in my personal space.  Leaving for work this morning my bed was left unmade, my sink was sink full of dishes, and my laundry strewn across the floor. I haven’t worked out in weeks, and I’ve had no less than one glass of wine every single day. Let’s just say that I haven’t been feeling at my personal best, as my daily organized routine took the back burner in order for my brain and body to show up and be present as I learn the ropes at work.

However, today I was able to make a small dent in the things that make me feel better put together. I worked in the office long enough to get one of my new projects underway, and then I went to the gym. I came home and ate a nice healthy meal, cleaned my dishes and organized my laundry. Thus, it’s the little things, like cleanliness and order, that I’m feeling grateful for today.

Keeping my personal space clean and organized is also quite metaphorical, as I can work at ridding my mind, body and soul of the clutter that inevitably piles itself on through time and space. According to the yoga sutras, saucha (cleanliness) is the first niyama, or guide for yogic conduct. It is thought that through yoga we work continually to cleanse ourselves until we are nothing but light. While today I’ve made time to cleanse my environment, I also hope to thoroughly purify my body and settle my mind in the coming weeks so that the chaos and clutter in my life can subside.

I’m making small, but valiant steps!

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Attitude of Gratitude — Day 13 : Letting Go and Letting Long Island

Today I was given a very valuable insight, which came in the form of an improvised mantra–Let go, and let Long Island.

For a little bit of context, my recent move to Long Island is probably the biggest culture shock of my life. I’ve traveled to, and lived in places that many people can hardly pin point on a map, let alone pronounce. Ouagadougou anyone? However, the contrast of my lifestyle and where I am now living  has never felt more stark and pronounced as I feel it here. Pretty much everything from the accent to the driving etiquette is a foreign to me.

I can honestly say that I am SO grateful for my new job and all of the opportunities for self-growth that it is affording me. However, I have felt myself resisting this culture shock deep down in my DNA. Upon analyzing it, I see that the resistance is coming  from my ego.

What do I mean? I mean that my whole story, everything that I identify as me, contradicts the Long Island stereotype. I wear my travels like badges of honor and boast my Vermont roots proudly.  Seriously,  I’ve been drinking my water from mason jars since before it was hipster, and today I wore my clogs because they are comfortable AND I think they’re cute.

Something about being here has brought out the crunchiest granola parts of me, as if my identity feels the need to hyper exert itself as a defense mechanism against the drunk Rangers fans on the train, the inconsiderate drivers and the mile long strip malls filled with Starbucks and nail salons.

So this evening, when I wound up with my colleague, Caitlin, at a Miller’s Ale House chain restaurant in an Outlet Mall, I could feel myself about to go all judgmental on the place. Intuitively sensing this within me, she said, “Let go, and let…. Long Island.”

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I laughed, partly because it was really funny, but mostly because the mere thought made me incredibly nervous. To be honest, though, I was instantly humbled by the advice. So much of me has been actively trying to make myself feel at home in my new apartment and with my new staff, but I hadn’t quite accepted the fact that Long Island (in all its glory) is going to be my home for the next few years. I kind of just assumed I’d delve head first into my job, make friends with my staff and escape to New York City  when I needed a healthy dose of culture and entertainment. No part of me had even considered giving Long Island a chance…OK, well maybe some vineyards on the North Fork or a swanky day in the Hamptons, but aside from that, no way.  Fortunately, as we pulled up to Miller’s my ego awareness switch flipped on and I realized that if I wanted my life here to be pleasant, I would need to nip the ego in the bud,  drop the judgement and adopt the mantra, “Let go and let Long Island.”

So today, I am grateful to Caitlin for the humbling, to my awareness for recognizing my ego and actively choosing to let go of the judgement. Furthermore, I’m grateful for the reminder that resistance to change amplifies negative energy and that it’s healthier to go with the flow.

I’ve learned this lesson a million times over, and somehow throughout every period of change in my life I have to continually be reminded to let go. Let go of your ego, let go of your story, let go of expectations, because if you can you can approach each situation from a place of higher consciousness. When we are in tune with the Self that is within all of us, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

So I am going to get down with Long Island and embrace all of its quirks. The non-judgement will be a practice, but I think I can honestly say I’m up for the challenge of going with the flow, and of course, adding some Lizzie flair to Long Island!

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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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