December 2014 archive

God is Kinda Not that Interested

I heard Pastor Furtick from Elevation Church say this (and I’m heavily paraphrasing) the other day:

If you aren’t giving when you are living in scarcity, then God is kinda not that interested. Because it is when you are living in scarcity and STILL giving what little you have that it is proving you’reselfish_fish living by faith.

Now, we can very easily translate this into non-Christian terms for those of you who start to tick when someone mentions the word “Jesus.” (Don’t worry, I still do, too.) The point is this: for the most part, folks who have a whole heap of money won’t learn very much if they give of what they already have, now will they? A millionaire who says they’ve donated $500 is all well and good, but did they give in faith or did they give because the money was there and it was easy to give and no big deal?
I’m not saying the INTENTION behind giving changes when you have lots of money. I think giving $500 is great no matter who ya are. But the FAITH that is required to give when that $500 could have been used to pay a bill or do something else more fun than giving…

Speaking of something else more fun…

Here’s something else Pastor Furtick said, (words in no particular order):

When we really want something for ourselves, we have no problem going outside of our comfort zone to get it. We will literally SCHEME to get it.

How many times have you wanted a new TV or computer or car or house and you’ve put together all your resources, all your smarts, all your ideas and figured out a WAY to make it work? I know I have partaken of Best Buy’s credit card deals. I have dipped into the savings you’re not supposed to dip into to get the car I wanted. I have gotten a letter from my fourth grade teacher regarding my trustworthiness to secure a bank loan for a new house. And so have you, amiright? But when is the last time you bent and stretched and shuffled all the coins together in order to GIVE something to someone else? In order to make a donation or give someone a gift? I’m willing to bed you do the former FAR more often than the latter.

We’re selfish by nature. We’re born little need-machines in order to survive because we do LITERALLY need other people to survive. But at a certain point (and don’t ask me to pinpoint the age), you no longer NEED other people to survive. You need your God-given skills and a faith in your path. That’s it. Whether you’re called to woodworking or astronomy doesn’t matter. Once you are able to survive on your own (whether you’re actually choosing to do it or not), it’s time to stop being selfish and start to give. And that means, fortunately and unfortunately, trusting that when you give from a place of scarcity that it will be replenished when you need it.

Anyway, I went ahead and had a little nervous breakdown about money yesterday and now I’m back on the giving train. I’m ready to re-focus my energy and remember that I’m never going to go broke by giving. I’m sure this happens to you, too, so please remember my favorite Kundalini Yoga-ism – “Begin again tomorrow.”

If you screw it up today, begin again tomorrow. Without stories. Without lamenting. Just start over. You’re gonna be fine.

 

 

 

Speaking of Stories… (a leg update)

join_gehealthcare_2It took months to get my health insurance worked out so that I could see an orthopedist to determine whether or not my leg is healing. Once my “married” insurance was cancelled, I had to settle for a less-than-helpful insurance plan that gave me no choice in doctor. I got the insurance and waited until 2 months for referrals to be approved and doctors to be chosen. FINALLY just before Thanksgiving I had an appointment with a new doctor, Dr. Busy.
I waited 30 minutes in the waiting room, 10 minutes for x-rays, and 45 minutes in the waiting room before Dr. Busy walked in and spent NEARLY 7 MINUTES with me. During this 7 minutes in heaven, he determined that my bone had not fused, this is a big problem, and I would need to have the ENTIRE titanium rod surgery done over again. Snap. Just like that.
“But…what? You have to do the whole surgery over again?” I asked with tears in my eyes.
“I wouldn’t worry about it too much,” was his response. Seriously. Don’t worry about us opening you back up, removing three screws and a titanium rod, re-boring through your bone, and then adding a new, larger titanium rod. Just…don’t worry about it.
Dr. Busy ordered a CT scan and an MRI to get “all the facts” and ordered me back in 2 weeks. And he was gone.

I. Was. Hysterical.

I called Bear from the parking lot and immediately he rejected the diagnosis. “Why on EARTH would he not learn more about your injury and your experience healing? Why is he jumping right into a major surgery? There’s got to be another answer.” Of course, the idea that there could be ANY other option available to me was so far from my scope of thought that it took me a few days to really hear what Bear had said to me. And once I did, he suggested, “What if we just go pay out of pocket for a second opinion from Dr. Fabulous?”

Dr. Fabulous did my surgery in the ER 8 months ago and also provided my follow-up care for 4 months. He’s amazing. Fabulous, even.

But in the time between Dr. Busy diagnosing me with “Everything’s Wrong but Don’t Worry” disease and getting to sit in a room with Dr. Fabulous…I’ll admit it. I told stories.

Story #1- I will be unable to participate in the Yoga Teacher Training I signed up for because I will be going through the ENTIRE surgery over again.
Story #2- I will not be able to be with my son for Christmas because this Dr. Busy has told me that I will be needing this surgery and that I’ll be needing it soon. I have decided “soon” means before Christmas, which means Christmas will be ruined and I will be alone. Probably forever.
Story #3- I will never be able to exercise properly again. And I’m going to get fat.
Story #4 – Even after this next surgery, my bone might not heal and I will have to do this whole thing again and again and be in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most titanium rod replacements in one lifetime.
Story #5- No one likes me. (This isn’t totally related to the leg bit. Just a sort of general story that floats by whenever I’m telling other stories.)

So I had my “second opinion” appointment last night, stories in my back pocket. Dr. Fabulous had my CT and my MRI (but not my x-rays before Dr. Busy was too “busy” to get those to me in time), except he didn’t look at any of the scans before he walked in. He just sat down and asked, “So it’s not healing?”
“I guess not,” I said. Bear was sitting next to me.
“Alright. Well. I don’t think you have to take the rod out.”
“No?”
“You might. It’s possible. But first, I think it’s easiest to take the screw holding the rod in place out of your knee. It will force the bones together and then they’ll probably just fuse after that. Let me go look at the scans, but that’s probably all we need to do and then wait a few months.”

Dr. Fabulous glanced at my scans in the office room next to my room and promptly told me they were kind of worthless as they pertained to my bone. All he needed was an x-ray.
“I don’t have the x-rays. Dr. Busy couldn’t get them to me in time.”
“Well, then we need to take some,” he said, in his always-matter-of-fact way.
“I…” I cringed. “I can’t afford to do that today. You aren’t covered by my insurance.”
“Then we won’t charge you. Whatever. Go get x-rays,” and he shooed me off.

I mean. Free x-rays. Seriously? HOW FABULOUS IS DR. FABULOUS?

When we reconvened in the office area, he confirmed his initial suggestion. “I think it’s as simple as taking out that screw and allowing the rod to retract a little bit so the bones touch when you walk. Just tell Dr. Busy that. Tell him you googled it or something…”
(Ha!)
“And what about my knee? How are all my tears and rips around my knee?”
Dr. Fabulous pulled up my MRI on the screen. “Honestly…everything is fine.” Bear squeezed my hand and whispered Yes! “It’s all going to hurt for another year or so because these kinds of injuries take a very long time to heal. But your knee in general…well, it’s a pretty good-looking knee. No surgeries or anything there unless radiology can see something I can’t.”

He shook my hand and chuckled at me, because for whatever reason he always chuckles at me, and sent me to the front desk for payment.
“Ok, so you’re self-pay, right?”
“Yes,” I cringed again. I had called ahead to learn my appointment would be anywhere from $60-$240, depending on what went down. I was ready for the worst.
“So you’re total after the discount is $27.”

The discount.

THE DISCOUNT?!?!

I took a deep breath. “Holy cow. That’s…that’s amazing you guys.” The two women at the payment desk smiled. They knew what Dr. Fabulous had just done for me, but no one would say it out loud. And all I could say was, “Thank you.”

I go to see Dr. Busy next week to find out if he can just take the screw out of my knee without much of a fight so I can move on with my life. Let’s toss up some good thoughts that Dr. Busy will be too busy to argue. 🙂

Have a beautiful weekend.

Habits – Stupid Stories

Stupid stories.

They’re a habit.

They are habits that you don’t even realize are habits.

Stupid stories are these little tales you tell yourself about your life. (From here on out, I’ll refer to them as “stories”, but don’t let that fool you. They’re still stupid.)

69feb80068bce2dbfc70c35cbb6cc27cFor example, here’s one: There is unexpected traffic. This traffic is going to make me late. If I’m late I’m going to be stressed out and I might miss my appointment. They could give my appointment away. Then I’ll have to reschedule it for later and I don’t know when I’ll have time and this entire afternoon will have been wasted because I have no other reason to be on this side of town.

That may seem like an exaggerated story, but you know you’ve told yourself something similar. Stories can be based on past experiences or a fear that we’ve written entirely on our own without the help of reality (typically it’s the latter). We tell stories about what might happen if we skip a meal or if we eat too much, if he calls tonight or if he waits three days, if we buy the red dress or the black dress.

In short, stories are predictions about life with no guarantee that the prediction is anywhere near what reality will be and usually causes agita.

Our stories are almost always based in the negative. They include What-If Monsters and sometimes even out-and-out INSANE mini-biographies. These self-stories are filled with examples of ways in which we are not enough or just plain losers. Self-stories are really the most destructive habit I can think of.

The Stupid Stories we tell about OTHER people, especially while dating, are especially hilarious:
He didn’t answer his phone. He’s probably not interested in me. He is avoiding my calls and wants nothing to do with me because he didn’t like the fact that I brought up religion on the first date…

I told myself a good story the other night…
Bear texted me a picture late at night of him and a friend at a party. I couldn’t BELIEVE he was still out partying! He was never out this late! But as long as he was having a good and safe time, I guessed I couldn’t complain. I called him a little while later when I was going to bed and his phone was off.
I called a few minutes later. Nothing.
As I laid in bed falling asleep, I COMPLETELY designed the other woman he’d swept away with from the party and taken home, and so OBVIOUSLY he had to turn his phone off so his GIRLFRIEND wasn’t calling in the middle of his romp with the other woman.

Guess what?

I found out the next morning that he’d sent me the picture right before he went to sleep. The picture was taken at 8:00 and he sent it to me at 11:00pm as he was drifting in to dreamland to make me laugh. He didn’t realize that his phone wasn’t plugged in, and so it died shortly thereafter.

That’s the whole story.

COMPARE THE STORIES!!!!!

The one I wrote is daytime drama. The actual one was…well…it was real life. Like normal, everyday real life.

The first remedy against stories are to actually play the story out to the bitter end. Really give yourself the worst-case scenario. So often the stories we tell ourselves end in “death.” Obviously, I don’t think a traffic jam is going to kill me. But because I don’t finish the story with a realistic possibility, my brain is operating on the only information it has: something horrible has happened and we’re all going to die. It’s like fight or flight. The end is unknown. And there have been so many times that I felt UNREAL anxiety until I played out a story I was telling myself and realized that even the worst-case scenario really wasn’t that bad.

The second is to learn how to stop the stories, and in order to stop them you have to begin to RECOGNIZE them. Maybe you start to feel anxious, tighten your fists, breathe faster, or just generally feel agitated. Ask yourself, “What is disturbing me right now?” Let’s use the heavy traffic as an example:

There’s heavy traffic.
I was not expecting heavy traffic.
My chest is tightening and I am very frustrated.
HOWEVER.
I have no control over this traffic.
So I am going to put on my favorite song or a funny podcast and enjoy this moment alone.
When I arrive, I have NO CONTROL over whether or not they cancel my appointment, so I will choose not to be angry about it if they do.
And hey, if they do cancel it, I will spend that time doing something nice for myself because it’s surprise free time.

It’s possible. I swear. I do it everyday. I kill stories. Not all of them, but a lot of them.

So, my friends, start a practice of killing the Stupid Stories. When you find yourself talking about things that haven’t happened or things about yourself that are not constructive, kill it. Just stop it right there, wise guy. Start a new story, or just CANCEL the old one. You will have to do this over and over and over and over again…but with practice, breaking this habit gets easier. I promise.

Habits – Don’t Think about Red

It’s habit week on the blog, and so far all I’ve talked about are daily practices. So, if you’re confused or annoyed or giving up on me…well, stop it.
You know I’m going SOME WHERE.
Here’s why having a healthy, positive, daily practice (even if it does become boring and monotonous and lame) is so important: because as you begin to add healthy habits to your life, the habits that don’t serve you (but are far more addictive) will naturally fall away if you focus your attention elsewhere.
Yeah. I know. You don’t believe me.
But think about it.
When you try to eliminate a negative habit from your life, what do you do? You focus on NOT doing that thing. But that’s like saying, “Don’t think about the color ‘red’.” What did you IMMEDIATELY think of?
Don’t lie. You thought about red.
Maybe you thought about blue or mother of pearl second, but the first thing you thought of was red.
That’s because our brains naturally attract to us the thing we focus on, EVEN if we are focusing on that thing in order to stop focusing on it.
HA!
7df2183826a5f4f626a439fd0de9a5abIn simpler terms, no matter the intention of the focus – you’ll attract to you what you think about. That’s why it’s so important to begin practicing healthy, daily habits without worrying about the stuff you want to stop doing. Just turn your attention to something better for you.
Confession: before I broke my leg, I was smoking cigarettes. A good amount of them. Maybe half a pack a day. I never felt physically addicted to them. But I did love them with my morning coffee and to fill the holes in the day that felt like I may drown in because of the pain and sadness I carried around all the time. When I returned home from the hospital, I didn’t really want a cigarette. I had more important things to do like learn to walk. But AFTER I learned to walk…I missed my old buddy cigarettes. I didn’t ever begin smoking the way I did before the accident, but I smoked more than was necessary. So instead of trying to quit, I focused on reinstating my daily writing practice. I started getting up earlier to get my coffee and my journal and write. And then my daily yoga practice followed. Now, I begin every day with coffee, journal, and an hour of yoga. I didn’t THINK about dropping cigarettes. And I actually smoke less and less and less as time goes by…
You don’t have to stop a bad habit. Just start a good one. It works for just about anything really…
Except story-habits. Story-habits are the only habits that require thinking about them in order to change them.
“What are story-habits?” you ask.
Read along tomorrow.

Habits – Starting and Stopping

This week…we talk about habits.

The habit that likely bothers those around me MOST is my habit of leaving cabinets and drawers open. I can leave a room with literally (or, if you watch Newsroom, figuratively) every drawer and cabinet open without so much as a second thought. I can run my face IN TO a cabinet corner and wonder why I’m so aggravated without ever having noticed it’s because I Ieft the cabinet open and I’m bumping my face into it. There’s not been a single roommate of mine in 10 years who hasn’t asked me why I leave everything open when I leave the kitchen.

That’s the kind of habit that, at the very least, could be considered endearing and at the worst, could be just annoying.

Then there are the habits we really want to stop. Habits that could be damaging to our bodies and minds.

Smoking.
Drinking.
Gossiping.
Biting our nails.
Late-night snacking.


Overspending.
Lying.
Judging.
Yelling.
Speeding.
Interrupting.


Missing deadlines.
Texting while driving.
Giving up.
Panicking.
Trying to control.
Denying.

 

Habits can go pretty deep.

9e01ab75cc7ddbad2cd0f96486de5ecbIf you reference science, you’ll find the answer to the question “how long does it take to break a habit?” can range from 14 days to 30 days and beyond. We’re told to stop cold turkey. We’re told to replace a bad habit with a good one. We’re told to have an accountability partner, a daily journal, pray about it. There are a MILLION articles on how to break a habit. I even wrote one a few years back in which I pointedly explained, “If you want to break a bad habit, then just stop doing it. And if you don’t just stop doing it, then you didn’t really want to break a bad habit anyway.” I stand by that idea, I do. But I’ve learned some new things since writing it that I think add to that idea.

We’ve got everyday habits that are good for us. We shower. We brush our teeth. We eat something healthy. There are habits engrained in our lives that are just a given, not because of how long we’ve been doing them but because we refuse to go without them. I MUST have a cup of coffee in the morning. MUST. It is a HABIT and I refuse to give it up. I MUST shower everyday. I just have to. I CANNOT go a day without checking my Facebook unless I’m on a Kundalini Yoga retreat in Maui where they do not allow internet and then I will go on and on about “how peaceful it was not being attached to my cell phone” and “how enlightening it is to see life without all this technology” until I take one step into the airport and immediately immerse myself in my Facebook feed and start writing status updates before I get onto the plane and I have to turn my phone off. Again.
It’s those daily good-for-us habits that I’d like for you to focus on and find more of.
Every. Single. One of us has committed to daily work out, walk, meditation, prayer, or journaling practice at one point or another in our lives. We’ve ALL committed and then given way to the excuses for not continuing. I have done this 8 billion times. You know why? Because a healthy daily practice is just like a relationship: it will feel VERY good in the beginning and you will tell everyone about it and then it will begin to bring up resistance and disturbance SO great within us that we will quit…only to experience the same VERY good feeling in the beginning when we start again. We are addicted to the very good feeling, but unwilling to stay committed when the yoga practice gets hard or the meditation practice gets boring or we can’t think of anything to write about that day. We start thinking about all the OTHER things we could be doing if we weren’t working out, or the relatives coming into town for the holidays while we’re reading. The healthy practice isn’t fun, and so we stop.

Ask yourself this question: why did I stop my most recent healthy daily practice?
If you haven’t stopped one recently, ask yourself this: did I pat myself on the back just now when I realized I’m engaged in a healthy daily practice?
If you’ve never had one: why not?

More tomorrow…and it’s gonna get a little awesomer as I tease this all out with you. (I’m invoking my poetic license to use that word, get over it.)

Give a Little Bit

“Abe, we’re going to the store to buy a toy for a little girl that doesn’t have any toys. Isn’t that special?”
“But, I want a toy, mom.”
“You have toys, Abe. But this little girl has no toys and no money. We are going to do something nice for her.”
(Tantrum ensues.)
“Abraham, you’re very lucky. You have enough. Some people don’t have enough and some don’t even have anything. You may not understand it now, but someday you’ll understand why it is so much more important to give than it is to receive. Now stop crying.”

Replace Abraham’s name with my name in that last line and repeat it ten thousand times.
Please.

heartI’m wrapping up money-week here on the old blog. It started with me sharing with you that I’ve been called to donate a big amount of money.
If you’ve not been reading along, I’m terrified of donating money.
I’m scared to let someone have a bite of my lunch let alone give someone my money.
I’ve never donated a large sum of money before to ANYTHING. So no matter how this weekend goes when I write that check, it’s going to feel scary to me. But as I see it, there are three possibilities:
1. Something good will happen and I’ll gain that same amount of money back and be no worse for wear.
2. I’ll donate the money, nothing will happen, life will go on, and I’ll be very unsure about whether or not I’ll ever donate in the future.
3. Stuff I can’t really even imagine yet will happen and it will be so amazing/beautiful/abundance that I’ll never again what giving really means and does.

I really have no idea what the outcome will be. I know the weeks leading up to this big donation day have given me a run for my…ahem…money. But I am ok and I am safe and I have enough. I’m trying to teach myself the same damn lesson I was trying to teach my four-year-old the other day, and it seems we both have the same reaction to the idea of giving instead of receiving.
Tantrums.
If I am EVER to teach Abraham to be a kind, compassionate, giving human being, I have to BE one. Faith, compassion, and trust are all involved, and I’m not great with any of those three. I’m better at other stuff. But as Dr. Dave Martin said last weekend in church, “Giving is like lifting weights. Start small and work your way up.”

No matter how little you have to give, I challenge you to give with me this weekend. Start small. Give a little. And if anything happens that’s worth sharing, email me and tell me about it.
Erin.Salem@gmail.com

A Mini Accident

This week was JAM-PACKED. I went over a week without seeing my son during the Thanksgiving holiday, so I had lots of fun things planned for us this week. I also had tons of work, lots of laundry, and a Christmas list the length of my arm to shop for. (Oh, and $500 to give away on Sunday.) Tuesday morning I scooted out into the world after dropping Abe at school to get the oil changed in my car. When I arrived at the dealership, they told me I really didn’t need one for a while (I drive a Mini Cooper and they can go FAR longer in between oil changes) so they sent me home.

On the phone with Bear discussing some travel plans, I stopped at a red light and watched a woman across the street waiting to cross the busy intersection. Suddenly my car lurched forward for no particular reason at all and I screamed. “What?” Bear asked.
I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a young woman with a very mournful look on her face in the car behind me. Ooooooh, I thought. She hit me.
“I just got rear-ended,” I said, getting out of the car.
“Are you kidding me?!!?!?” he yelled, only with the “f” word.
“No, I gotta go.”

My bumper was partially pulled away from the body of my car, covered is dents and scratches. I approached the car behind me.
“I’m so sorry,” said the driver.
“Are you ok?” Her passenger leaned over and looked at me, also a young woman.
“I’m fine. Are you two ok?” I asked.
“Yeah,” both responded.
“I’m really sorry, can you just not call the cops?” she said.

That was clue #1 that this was about to get interesting.

So as I was calling the cops, a state trooper pulled up behind us. I’m going to call him Dick. (What? It’s a name.) He advised us both to pull into a parking lot nearby. I got back into my car and called Bear to say I was OK and Dick were there. The “f” words continued but when Dick walked up to my car I had to cut Bear off and hang up again. “License and insurance, please.”
I handed it to him and asked, “Does she have insurance?” I only asked this because the brief glimpse I got of her through her car window…well, let’s just say I made a snap judgement.
“I don’t know yet,” he responded. He was one of those state troopers who had that condescending swagger no matter how fast or slow he was walking. I watched him swagger up to her car as both women got out. The driver had a bird’s nest of hair on her head, a very thin, almost gaunt, frame, wearing a tube top and jeans. Her passenger…well. She had one leg.

Clue #2.

I got out of my car and approached the other car hoping to find out if they had insurance when Dick sternly advised, “Ma’am, you need to stay by your car. If you’re nervous or worried, then it would be best for you to sit down.”
“Ooookaaaay,” I responded. I moved back to my car and rubbed my neck. I couldn’t tell if it hurt from whiplash or from the killer yoga workout I’d done the day before.

Eventually Dick took our information to his car, got in, rolled up the window, and from there I can only guess he downloaded old Atari games and played them for 20 minutes because what else could he be doing in there? I sat by my car as the driver and her passenger walked over. We’ll call the driver Tweak and the passenger Peg.

“You can sue me, you know,” Tweak shouted as she walked towards me.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“You can sue me. You can call Farrel and Farrel and sue me if you want to,” she exclaimed.
“I don’t want to sue you,” I responded. “I want my bumper fixed.”
“I know alllllll about accidents,” Peg then said.
“Ok,” I responded.
“You know, if you’re hurt, like rubbing your neck, you should call an ambulance. Like now,” Tweak said.
“I don’t need an ambulance,” I said.
“We didn’t even hit you that hard,” Peg said.
“Ok,” I responded.
“You’re probably not even that hurt,” Peg said.
“You should go to the hospital,” Tweak said.
This is when I entered the ACTUAL twilight zone.
“I hate hospitals,” Peg said to me, straight into my eyes.
“I’m sorry about your leg,” I said having NO idea why it was coming out of my mouth while it was. Maybe it was because I felt on some level I could relate, having broken a leg. Maybe I was nervous that two strangers appeared to be trying to trick me into suing them. Either way, I regretted it immediately.
“Oh, I’m fine. I don’t need two. I get around great,” she smiled, revealing that one missing tooth.
“Good, I’m glad to hear that.” I wasn’t.
“I’ve been without it for years,” she went on.
“How many now?” Tweak asked.
“Let’s see…four.” This means she had to do the math problem 2014 minus 2010…AND IT TOOK HER A MINUTE.
“Wow,” I said.
“But my accident was in 2007,” she said.
This made no sense to me. “They took your leg off three years after your accident?”
“Yeah, well, they might have taken it off sooner but I got pregnant.”
Of course, you did.
“And then after my son was born they were going to fix it but I got pregnant again.”
Of COURSE, you did.
“So once I had my second kid I was like, you know what? Just take the whole thing off.”
“Ok,” I responded.

“Erin?” Dick called from his car.
I walked straight over to his window and he handed my ID and my insurance card. He didn’t say anything else.
“What do I do?”
“Hang on,” he said, super annoyed that I had QUESTIONS.
Tweak and Peg lingered nearby, trying intently to listen.
“Ok, you just take this report and call your insurance. They’ll tell you what to do,” he said.
“MY insurance? Does she have insurance?” I asked, terrified that I was about to find out that I DEFINITELY should have bought the uninsured motorist policy.
“I. Don’t. Know,” he said. “Call your insurance company and they’ll tell you what to do.”

I started to walk back to my car when Tweak ran up to me all…tweaky. “Did he say I could go?”
“He didn’t say anything about you.”
“Do you think I can go?” she asked.
“I have no idea.”
“He didn’t say I should stay?”
“Does he have your license? You’ll probably want to get that back.”
“I don’t have a license.”
Of course you don’t.
“I mean, I have one but I lost it.”
“Well, I don’t know if you should stay.”
“He has my ID card,” Peg shouted. “We can’t go yet.”
“Do you think he’ll search my car?” Those were Tweak’s parting words to me.

I drove straight to my insurance company because they’re really nice there. I told them I was rear-ended and a woman who looked like my mom only older (you’re welcome, mom) gave me a hug and brought me into her office and helped me call Tweak’s insurance company.

As it turned out, it wasn’t her car. It was her mom’s. She lied to her mom and took off with the car. It took about a day to find her, but once they did, she confirmed the accident. Her mom’s insurance company called me and got me a rental car. The whole debacle took up two days of my very busy week, but I’m not hurt and my car is getting fixed. I’m alive and I’m fine. I’m not totally sure what my lesson in this was, so I’m hoping this was a rock-bottom for that young woman or a wake-up call or SOMETHING. Maybe I was just the vehicle (no pun intended) for her growth.

Or maybe shit just happens and now my whole week is thrown off. I don’t know the answer. All I know is I’m loving my Kia Soul.

 

Faith – A Mini$eries (3)

At the beginning of 2014, while in a very meditative, spiritual, intuitive state after a week-long kundalini and personal growth retreat in Maui, I realized I’d booked my trip for one day longer than I meant to. THEN the storm of the century swept through the states and cancelled all flights out of Hawaii for two days. So I was staring down the barrel of 3 nights in Hawaii in a hotel room.
Hotel rooms in HAWAII.
Ever been to Hawaii?
IT AIN’T CHEAP.
But, because of my peaceful and lovely state of mind, I pulled out my credit card and said, “Ok, God. Figure this out for me, please. And thank you.”
Later that day one of the members of the group mentioned to me he was renting a condo for three days after the retreat was over and that several of the girls were going to stay with him. I asked if I could stay with him and he gleefully agreed and welcomed me into the rental condo with open arms for three nights. For free.
Oh hey thanks, God.

GIVESo when Molly, my lovely friend in Los Angeles, mentioned she had a few old clothes for me to pick through, I didn’t think much of it. I certainly didn’t think that I would eventually relate it to my Maui trip. Then she pulled out a stack with more clothes in it than I currently own. Shirts, blouses, dresses, slacks, jeans, skirts, shoes…you name it. She had it. All in my size. And she was getting rid of all of it. And she was giving it to me.
She even let me borrow a suitcase to bring it all home.
Seriously.

It was about 3 days before I realized that I’d been given the very gift I told God I wanted (new and cute clothes), and that all of this happened before I even penned the check I’d promise to donate. I couldn’t help but think that EVEN just CONSIDERING taking a leap of faith was already creating upheaval and change in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. It ain’t all wine and roses. I’m continually being challenged every day (several extra bills I wasn’t expecting, a minor car accident yesterday, Christmas presents to buy…) with regards to money, but I guess because that’s the sort of spiritual button I pushed. I pushed the God-Money button. And if it wasn’t enough, I walked in to yoga this morning and was offered a teacher training program next summer for $2000 instead of $3000. I’ve been saying I wanted to become a yoga instructor for years and there was some crazy pull within my body that said, “Hey. Now. Do it now. Put down your credit card and we’ll figure the rest out later.” So, I did.
UUUUUGH.

I’m terrified and invigorated. I am practicing trust EVERY DAY that these things are all going to pan out, there will be enough money for all of these things. Hell, I’ve already been rewarded in a BIG way with a whole new wardrobe!! Who knows what else is coming?
I don’t.
(See? I’m practicing not being in control all the time.)

So my challenge for you, if you struggle with money issues or fear, is to give instead of ask. Give what you don’t have to give. Give what you don’t THINK you have to give. Every minute of every day, think of things you can give. Give smiles. Give love. Give money. Give kindness. Give compassion. Give food. Give hugs. Give time.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
Anne Frank

 

Faith – A Mini$eries (2)

Shortly after I agreed that I would donate my medical bill money (which you should know is a LARGE amount of money to me, but I won’t tell you how much in case it’s not a lot of money to you because then I’ll feel embarrassed), Bear and I sold some of his old furniture and came into a little extra cash. I was so excited! I turned my eyes up and said, “See? That money is already coming back and I haven’t even written the check yet!” I felt so proud and impressed with myself. Bear handed me $100 cash as a thank you for helping him to sell it and I put it in my pocket.

found-moneu-112629207296_xlargeLater on I met Bear for lunch and to run some errands. As I walked back to my car, I slapped my hand onto my thigh.
The money, I thought. Where the hell is the money?
I opened my car door and searched every crack and crevice. Where the hell is the cash he gave me??? I stood up and looked around the car. I called home to ask my roommate if I left it on the counter (even though I knew I didn’t). I searched the bushes. I walked back to the restaurant. I drove home and searched the walkway, drive way, grass, trees, THE SIDING ON THE HOUSE. I searched everywhere. One hundred dollars that I NEEDED was gone, fell out of my pocket. GONE.

Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire.

As if everything else happening this year hasn’t been enough, I lose $100 ON THE GROUND.

Forget it, I thought. I’m not donating the money now. That’s ridiculous. What do I get for listening and donating money? LOSING MORE MONEY? I’m out.

I threw a fit that day. I stomped around and huffed and puffed and was generally just pissed off with the world and with God and with everything. I thought they said in church that God will repay you IN KIND and IN ABUNDANCE whatever you give to him. And instead I lose a wad of cash. I mean, I just kept repeating the circumstances to myself over and over again, reliving what did or didn’t happen. I was sick to my stomach. Finally, my roommate (MB) stepped in. She asked, “What if your agreement with God is being tested? What if your faith is being tested? Just like all the other times you’ve been tested and come out ahead or stronger. What if this is one of those times?”
“Yeah, so, what if? I give. I needed that money.”
“What if you don’t control the money?” she asked. “What if you don’t actually control anything?!”
“Eff you, I control everything,” I quipped. “Although…Bear has mentioned to me that perhaps I have some issues with control.”

So maybe this whole faith thing I’m trying out is going to push me around a little bit? Maybe it’s going to try and get me to quit to prove I can’t hang, like spiritual hazing? I walk in, I declare I have faith, and then all the people who have been in the club for a WAY long time are like, “Oh yeah? Prove it, suckah.”

“So are you still going to donate the money?” MB asked me.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m still going to donate it.”
“Good,” she smiled.

I was on my way to Los Angeles for a Kundalini Yoga weekend and to see tons of amazing friends. Before I left, Bear bought me a new pair of jeans and some new shirts because he knew I wanted to feel a little new and fancy. I felt SO honored and grateful that this man took care of me in this way, and I felt so good wearing my new clothes that I decided: After LA, I’m going to buy mySELF some clothes. I deserve to feel new and fancy, and I deserve to give that to myself. No matter what the money situation is, I’m going to stop scrimping on myself. I trust God will figure out the rest.

I had an absolutely AMAZING weekend and my darling friend Molly paid for nearly every meal and gave me a free place to stay. I felt so blessed and like Hey! Look! I barely spent any money! IN LOS ANGELES! Tell me this donation stuff isn’t coming back around! Go ahead. Tell me!!

Oooooh. Oh but it gets better.

Faith – A MiniSeries

I’ve been trying to determine how and if my blog was going to continue to evolve, or if maybe it was naturally coming to a close. I took a week off from writing before a weekend trip to Los Angeles for Kundalini Yoga with a tribe of women I spent a week with in Maui.
During a meditation, I felt the block against writing come up and then I saw the resolution: Miniseries.

So often I can’t fit everything I want to say into a single blog, and so I don’t write it. Or I start to write it, realize it’s too long, and never post it. But it came to me this weekend that I will start sharing some of the longer stories/ideas in PARTS, like short books here and there. I just thought you should know that I made this discovery about my blog because it’s kind of true for most things: they either evolve or they die…but you do have to give them time to do one or the other.

 

Since I started going to an awesome church a few months ago, I’ve been super stoked to see how and if I would be able to apply much of what I’m learning. Just having FAITH has been a huge shift for me. The further from faith I get, the more “control-ly” I get, and the more Bear tiptoes around me for fear putting a glass away in the wrong cabinet will send me into convulsions.
About two weeks ago, the pastor began to describe a vision he’d been having about the future of his church. It involved a much stronger, but larger youth program. He said that he felt as though he was going to war against negative influences social media and the internet can (and do) deliver straight into young people’s homes, and he was bringing parents with him. He wanted to arm parents with information, have the honest conversations with teens about porn and sexting and pressure from peers, and he needed US (his congregation) to help him start this venture. He asked us to pray about how much we could give to the church at the end of 2014 in a final contribution to get this program up and running in 2015. We took a moment to pray and, fortunately or unfortunately, I got the answer pretty quickly.

Give the money you would have put towards your medical bills in December towards the church.

I shooed the thought away with a wink and a smile like, “Ha. That’s cute. That can’t be what He meant.”
It was then silent in my head. You know, sort of like God was looking at me the way my mom would when I was a teenager right after she told me I was grounded and I couldn’t figure out how to refute her because I knew she wasn’t going to budge…and she was silently waiting for me to even TRY.
Ok, so like giving half of it is probably more than enough, I thought to myself. Surely He doesn’t mean give the whole amount. That would be a lot. And God wants me to have a nice Christmas. I’m sure we can work something out here. There’s an easier way to do this!
More silence.
Crap.

In the car on the way home I told Bear what God said. I have to give the money I was going to pay to my medical bills to the church in December.
“Ok,” he said.
“That seems excessive, don’t you think?” I asked.
He shrugged.
Apparently EVERYONE was going to be silent on this issue. Like horrible, quiet-room-full-of-people peer pressure.

I sat on the idea for a few days, knowing in the pit of my stomach it was what I was being called to do, and also knowing I didn’t want to freaking do it. I played lots of games about how I could give half of it this month and half of it next month, etc. etc. But eventually I kind of gave in, like an over-nagged husband who just gets up and takes the garbage out despite it not being half-time yet.

Alright…I’ll go. I’ll go. I’ll go.

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