Monday, February 23, 2015

Tool One: LOVE Times Four...



Happy first Monday of Lent 2015

As promised, here is my first post in my Lenten Series. I have never done anything like this before; and to be honest, it's hard.  I like to remind myself, you have to make yourself uncomfortable. You have to push out of your comfort zone.  So Eeek, what nerve it takes to say, "I've got my life all figured out and I'm going to tell you how to fix yours."  Anyone who knows me; knows I really don't. I'm just like you. Truthfully.  What I have been told consistently is; Jeffrey and I share skills as a couple and as individuals that have allowed us to live a beautiful and happy life, in spite of our struggles.  We don't often get down and when we have problems, we have the ability to right our ship.  We of course maintain that a big piece is due to our faith life.  We are resilient as individuals, as a couple, and as parents.

Along with an active faith life, I think the most important skill we try to teach is resilience.  We need to own this and teach it in our daily life.  We choose how we are walking in this world.  We tell our Beauties daily; life is flipping hard and you have to have tools and skills to make it through the tough times.  That's resilience.

As we work through the Lenten season, which traditionally is a time for reflection and sacrifice, maybe it's also a good time to share my/our ideas on compiling the tools to live in this big old crazy world and make you and yours more resilient.

What tools do you need in your tool box in order to build a resilient life?  Over the next few weeks, I will share my thoughts on several of the tools, including; Love, Community/Tribe, Faith life, Sense of Humor, and Vulnerability.  I will do my best to keep the posts topic based.  But, this is new for me, so we will see how it goes.  Let's start with the most important tool:

LOVE

We are built to love.  Hopefully, you do it daily without much thought, to be honest.  But, often it is just on the surface and superficial.  We need to dig a little deeper.

We know in scripture there are four types of love: The Greeks they love BIG. A quick review includes the following types of love:

 Storge: Brotherly love, familial love.
 Philia: Friendship.
 Eros: Passionate/romantic.
 Agape: Unconditional/selfless love.

I'm not an expert in Greek; I'm not trying to offer a new thesis on the biblical uses!  We are going to keep with the simple; Us Weekly/People magazine worthy definitions.  Nothing heavy here! I'm good with easy.  I'm not looking to footnote with scholarly definitions.  I'm not even going to go into each one.  I just ask you to consider how do each of the four touch your life?  And I don't think you need to have all four; what I do believe is that you can never have too much!

No one dies thinking I wish I had loved less... I think everyone wishes that they had loved more.

That leads to the first series of questions:

How do you LOVE?
Are you a consumer of love or a generator of love?  Do you make room for love?  Do you close yourself to loves' invitation?  Are you not good enough to be loved? (that is the lie so many say to ourselves.)  Do you love yourself?  Your imperfections, your weaknesses and strengths?  Do you surround yourself with lasting relationships that include love?

There are no wrong answers here.  It's the opportunity for a wee bit of self reflection.  There is no scale at the end to rank your "love quotient".

Also for this reflection, please take Eros off the table and the Agape form of unconditional love for your children.  If you have it, more power to you.  But, you don't need it to live well, to have fulfillment or frankly to love fully.  Keep the Agape in your heart and mind for the Divine's love for you, though.

The relationships that include service to others; that is Agape too.  When you give of your time and talents to others, you serve, you are knee deep in others, wanting nothing in return.   It is this ability to be selfless that fills your love bank.  It does the heavy lifting in good times.

You have to put your money where your mouth is. You have to work on filling your love bank on the sunny days.  When you are at your best.  Do you send that text, do you call when you have five minutes (or 2 hours) when you're needed?  I try my best, but can always do better.

I got one this week. I got a text that told me to "call me when you get up!"  It was all that I could do not to call immediately at 1 am EST.  Do you have folks that can count on you?

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that in my darkest, darkest times.  There was ALWAYS someone who had it worse than me.

And that is the grocery store moment.  Have you ever been in line at the grocery store at 5 pm on a weeknight gritting your teeth for the one flipping item you need to pull dinner together.  Have you ever looked around at the folks surrounding you?  Everyone has struggles, some are big and some are huge.  For the love of all that is good in the world... Stop judging people.  It's the surest way to cut an enormous hole in your love bank.  Everyone has a "cross."  Be grateful that you don't have theirs. And when you can, reach you hand out and offer it to another.  It will make all the difference; I promise.  Because no matter what my trial; I have always had someone who could take my hand and walk with me.  Who loved me, even with all the Kathryness of it all.  And that makes the journey so much more beautiful.

I have held out my hand so many times to find someone else holding mine.  Just this week, I've been worrying about the blog.  Is this really what the Spirit wants me doing.  I guess you could say my love bank was running a little low.  I don't feel my best, my Jeffrey is traveling.  And what do I have to offer?  Does it really resonate with anyone?  And that's when the email appeared in my in-box; the email that made my heart sing, the one told me that I helped them, that my words "resonate FULLY" and that my writing is a "blessing to them."  Now that is some good love and it was just what I needed at that moment.

So that is what this post is asking:  How well are you loving?  How well are you allowing love into your life?  Who are you holding out your hand to?  And have you welcomed, accepted and allowed yourself to feel the glorious light of someone elses love?  I promise it makes all the difference.

When you love, it keeps your scales balanced, it keeps you giving and receiving love, and with a little love everything's easier.  The good days are great and the tough days are tolerable because you can feel the love and you've got a whole bunch of folks holding you up!

If you feel that your "love bank" is more than half full, then take a second to pat yourself on the back. That's the first step to mastering this crazy thing called resilience.

Till next week...

Love,
Kathryn
PilgrimageGal


photo credit: Love via photopin (license)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ash Wednesday and the Beginning of a Journey...



Today is Ash Wednesday.  An important day in the life of Christians. If Christianity isn't your tradition, no fear; just hang on for a teeny weeny second. I'm burying the lead. I promise.

Lent in my world is a journey.  A journey that includes some token sacrifice, that this year includes giving up sweets.  And ends in the gloriousness of Easter morning, rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ, his triumph over death, a beautiful Mass and finally a really good chocolate bunny washed down with a glass of champagne.

As always I digress... Today we wear our ashes and are reminded:

 "For you are dust, and to dust you shall return".

For some it may come as sobering words; for me not so much.  Every Ash Wednesday the words remind me to get busy.  As I love to say; "GET to the GETTING." I still have much to learn and much to do!  So with that I commit to you every Monday, look for a post from me! This weekly post will help us work on our toolboxes together. I'm reading all the blogs, and spiritual resting spots for suggestions; then I'm going to toss it into the Kathryness of it all and make it work for us.  So for my Lenten sisters, just punt on the heavy lifting; I've got ya.  For the rest of you, the weekly posts will help us get on track and stay there.

The goal: find that seemly elusive rainbow, that place of balance.

I don't separate faith from daily living, it would be like removing my lungs from my body. And with my shady lungs, I kind of need them for living.  My tools therefore are part life skill and part spiritual conditioning.  If Lent isn't in your faith tradition; I encourage you to join me and tag along for awhile to see where we go. Think of this as a nondenominational detox or spiritual cleanse; minus the Hollywood foolishness.

You need not make a sacrifice or give up anything.  Just read with me and nosh on the Girl Scout cookies calling your name. Hopefully together we can re-frame some old habits and rethink assumptions and come up with some new ideas.  Besides I need folks to talk with along the way... I'm missing my chocolate and the foolishness of the gossip websites that I consider very important reading!  (another dirty little secret out of the vault!)

I look forward to sharing this Lenten Spiritual cleanse with you...

Lace up your shoes, we will walk just a little farther than usual.

Until Monday,

Kathryn
PilgrimageGal


photo credit: Lent votives via photopin (license)