Category Archives: Resolutions

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 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!

ImageOk, not judging starting………………………………………………now.

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Attitude of Gratitude — Day 5: Camino Magic

Today, as I nested in my new apartment, I felt twinges of nostalgia and melancholy. While I neatly organized  7 years of photographs and items I’ve collected in my travels, I thought long and hard about each adventure and its respective boon. The grand picture that came into focus today was of the series of events in my life that have led me to where I am now. Each step and each decision has a cause and effect as well as an alternate reality of what could have been. Looking at all of my things, I recognize that they are not me, just mere symbols of my identity. However, the purpose they serve is to remind me how far I have come. 

To me, though, gathering all my things together is not just about how much I’ve done and how many “successful” moments I’ve lived. I believe, rather, that these belongings are filled with energy, and they release it into my present surroundings in order to elevate my own personal energy field. 

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As I crafted my symbolic ode to one of my life’s most significant experiences, El Camino de Santiago, I began to feel emotions of deep gratitude. El Camino changed my life because it taught me to trust the unknown and to faithfully believe in the mantra, “the Camino provides.” As a metaphor for life, El Camino showed me that it’s crucial to take your time and to open your eyes, ears and heart to the energy of the Universe. The feeling of magic, which pilgrims experience whilst walking the camino is difficult to describe. The only way I can explain it is that each day, the collective energy of past, present and even future pilgrims pulses along the trail bringing to each person a valuable lesson or gift.

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With my shrine put together and the camino on my mind, I began to radiate the magic, and the energy was felt world-wide. 

This afternoon I spoke with a dear friend of mine from the trail. He is someone whose brief sojourn into my life changed everything I knew to be true about life and love. Every discussion we’ve ever had has given me deep insight into my Self. Speaking with him today, we talked about the fact that had I not walked, I wouldn’t be in the exact place I am at this very moment–nesting into my new apartment on the eve of my new job. I explained to him how grateful I was for the series of heart-opening events that has led me here, and how, even though I’ve been feeling a little nervous about this transition, I am confident that I am capable of taking on this huge responsibility. 

As the evening came round, I received an email from a woman whom I had met at the airport departing from Santiago de Compostela. The day after I reached Santiago, I was scheduled to fly. With almost no time to process that I had completed my pilgrimage, I took off for the airport hustling to get to Barcelona. That early September morning, everything seemed like a blur. I couldn’t actually believe that after a year of preparation and 33 days on the trail, that this portion of my journey was coming to an end.

As I stood in line to grab a croissant and a juice, I crossed paths with another pilgrim. I asked her if I could eat breakfast with her. As we began to chat our hearts opened and poured out our stories to each other. Though we were complete strangers, we both desperately needed each other’s company on the brink of transition off of the trail. I told her how I had fallen in love on the camino and was flying to Barcelona, she told me about her son and how he was experiencing a rough patch in his life. Then she showed me photos of the people she walked with and told me stories of her journey. As we walked to security she asked me what seat I had on the plane. “34C,” I said. She was in seat 34D. We laughed at the serendipity, though we both knew it was the Camino’s magic. When we landed in Barcelona, the song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros played softly over the speakers. I hummed along thinking about the times me and my best friends danced in the kitchen to this song and thought about the perfection of their lyrics. 

Upon our arrival in Barcelona, I gave her my email address and we parted ways. 

Every so often I thought about her, wondering how she was, but she had my email, I did not have hers. Today, as my phone chimed to let me know I’d received a message, I imagined it was one of the hundreds of e-newsletters I’m subscribed to. I didn’t recognize the name, and there was no subject message, but when I opened the email, this is what I read: 

Hi Lizzie,

 
You remember…on the airport of Santiago de Compostela… we both had to cry..
Today i was thinking about you, I heard the song from the airplane in Barcelona, you were in love..
How are you?
 
Kind greetings from Ineke (Holland)
 
I burst into tears feeling overwhelmed and in disbelief. Not only had I spent the entire day thinking about the camino, I had also spoken  with my friend from Barcelona for the first time in a long while, and now I was receiving this message from Ineke. It seemed to me, that the energy I was putting out into the Universe was that exact kind of Camino magic we had felt on the trail–pure love. Her message came to me in a time of self-doubt and transition as if to say, “Remember how strong you are? Remember how far you’ve come? Remember all of that trust you’ve cultivated?” Her message shouted to me to keep my heart open and to proceed slowly with alert awareness of my surroundings. If I do, it seems, the magical lessons and gifts will keep presenting themselves for me; there will be more peace, more generosity, more kindness, and above all more love. These are the real things of value I want to gather in around me, because with them, I can make my own magic straight from the divine source . 
 
Grateful to Ineke and her timely reminder of the Camino’s magic. Lots of love to you and your son, my dear! 
 
 

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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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Enough, already! I’m Already, Enough.

The dawning of a New Year seems to spark in everyone a consciousness and awareness of their physical creation – the haves and have-nots of our manifestations. I like to take the time to look back on my year and laud myself for the triumphs and pat myself on the back for wading through the breakdowns, the losses and the “failures.” Each new year, I set goals and intentions, make plans, dream my wildest dreams and then settle back slowly into the present, filled with optimism that this year will be as good, if not better than the last.

However, this year, I’ve decided to go a slightly different route with my New Years intentions. I am starting from a place that I’ve never started from before, and it’s a place that needs nothing. No superlatives! I don’t need more money, I don’t need to be skinnier, and I don’t need more love in my life.

I am simply enough.

With this new mantra in mind, there is one thing that I do want to accomplish this year. I want to let go of old patterns that no longer serve my personal growth.

I plan on doing this with the help of one of my most powerful resources—my awareness.

This year I want to dedicate my focus to my awareness, to the “me” beyond me, to the observer.

But really, how can I get myself to a place where I can actually believe that I am enough? The power of thought is not to be underestimated, but I honestly believe that one needs to dig down deep—to really go there. My inner archaeologist wants to unearth some dinosaur bone patterns.

Consider your life to be like geologic formations. At a granular level, our solid form is but a mere collection of the material possessions, our name and reputation, physical body, and our mental thoughts. These collections build upon our past and make up the solid form we see as our “self”, though no one can claim to be their iPhone5 or their trek through the Andes or their curvy thighs. These are simply our sedimentary identifications, to  some we are very attached, and to others we’d rather pretend they didn’t exist at all. But all these attachments, whether we see them as a positive or a negative are not truly who we are.

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Thus, this year, I will be examining all my attachments: my memories, my physical possessions, my inner dialogues, my relationships, my body, and my health. And I will begin to look at the foundations that they were built on. I can tell you already that some of these attachments seem like they were laid with cement foundations, while others maybe are more talc-like and easily degraded. Where are there cracks in the foundation? Where am I solid and sturdy?

With this one intention of mindfully observing where I am, I must constantly come back to that place of enough. It is the one place that doesn’t need to add any layers of attachment, though paradoxically it allows me to whole-heartedly embrace all of them.

I am who I am, I am love itself, I am Lizzie.

A blessed New Year to you all!

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Twenty-13

Dear Lizzie,

I was about to wish that your every dream come true. That you find yourself surrounded by friends, laughter and good times. I almost wished that your every cup runneth over financially, romantically, spiritually, and creatively. That good health be your faithful companion, peace your guarded ally, and love your perpetual guide. When suddenly, it dawned on me that as an infinite, powerful, fun-loving gladiator of the Universe, with eternity before you and the power of thoughts to shape it….It’s you, Lizzie Guerra, who will be granting wishes this year.

10..9..8..7..6..

The Universe

Dear Universe,

Thanks! I appreciate your eternal support and confidence in all of my endeavors. I will continue to place one foot in front of the other with a smile on my heart and swagger in my step. I can’t wait to find out what kind of wishes I will be granting this year!

Always and forever,

Lizzie

Happy New Year to all my friends, family and fellow earthlings. What are your New Years resolutions, reflections, conclusions, new beginnings? This year I am going to take to the kitchen and concur my fear of grocery shopping!

Facelifts all around, starting right here with my blog…I’ve revamped the layout and the title so that they better reflect my current life style. Though don’t be misguided by the photo either. I’m not living in the sandy dunes of the desert. The new cover photograph was taken on a trek through the Sahara last year. My subject was our Berber guide; a fitting picture to go with the title Nomad–emphasis on the OM.  I will continue with my posts, but expect more music and photographs, and (inshallah) some recipes of the new cuisines I will be learning to cook!

P.S. If you liked my note from the Universe sign up to receive them yourselves from tut.com! They’re amazing!

 

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