From the Ashes….

I remember when I started this blog how excited I was. Never did I realize that life would get in the way. When I say get in the way I don’t mean small stuff, I’m talking life shifting changes. Unprepared was an understatement.

I went from being a stay at home mommy to a full time office worker mommy. Gone are the days that I can read a book, cook all of my meals and workout all in the same day. Now I have to chose from one of those options, all the while getting in time with my kids and attempting to check my email daily. It’s an adjustment to say the least, especially for my husband and I. Our role switch has been tough on our relationship and my main priority has been focusing on how to not let our marriage fall apart. Oh, and I sprained my ankle which led me to wearing a very large boot and not even being able to take the stairs at work.

Talk about starting from the bottom.

Honestly, I hadn’t worked out since December, gained about 20 lbs from reduced mobility and sitting on my arse for 10 hours a day, moved out of my house because it was THAT bad at home and had to deal with the stress of learning a new job.  I know that was a very long and poorly written sentence but I think it suites the tiny pity party I just had for myself.

There were a lot of times over the past couple of months where I’ve cried myself to sleep missing my kids, feeling like shit as my jeans began to not fit the way I like and getting frustrated as I’d hit the 10 hour mark at work.

The good thing is that transition is only a small part of life. Already things are getting back into place. My husband and I are strongly working on communication and I’m home again enjoying being driven nuts by my sweet kids. I’ve been able to work around my injury and have started working out again. My job is also going decently well even though I have felt so lost learning the in’s and outs of it all. It feels good to know I help people on a daily basis.

My kale life is back on track, despite being thrown through multiple loops at once. I’m excited to experience my life in a new way. I do believe greater things are ahead and anticipate what I will be sharing with you. Who knows by the end of the year that Drake song may be my anthem.

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Cheers!

Julia

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Unexpected Change

What a week it has been! Here I thought my lifestyle changes were progressing smoothly, little did I know my family would be flipped upside down. This Tuesday we received the news that my husband, the sole provider of our family, had lost his job. This came as a shock to me and I panicked. All of the usual fear based questions streamed through my head like a fast paced assembly line. I tried to be strong, knowing in my heart that this is Gods will, yet the human ego in me scoffed at such a claim. I felt so weak and afraid of what the future would hold.

In a couple of days I was expecting to go to my local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group which I love (because who doesn’t love childcare, fellowship and food?) but now I was unsure as to whether or not I would attend. I knew if I went I’d probably break down a little, I wasn’t sure what they would think. Would they judge me or my husband? Would they think we are irresponsible? I only wondered because this very situation has happened to me before, where I reached out to a different community of women and they made me feel ashamed because my husband stepped out in faith to leave a previous job.

Finding a group of women who will love you unconditionally can be really tough. I’ve tried a few times and failed which can make it harder to want to open yourself up. I decided to go anyway because I just needed some support. I decided to trust instead of shy away. This was probably the best decision I could make.

The leaders relayed a question to the group, “what makes you brave?” As fellow moms began speaking words of confidence I felt myself breaking down inside. I felt ANYTHING but brave! As they spoke I could feel the tears warming my eyes, these women are strong and courageous, I don’t belong here. But as I continued to listen I realized something. I realized that bravery is not something you are born with. Bravery is a learned behavior.

Bravery is shaped through the deepest and darkest places in our lives. It is molded in the moments where we have no choice other than to be strong because people are depending on us to do so. That night I heard stories of women living in courage to get them out of unthinkable things. Tears fell as love and admiration flowed through the room. We spoke of our fears, our triumphs and how as mothers and women we can change the world for the better.

It felt so good to be in a room with women of all different ages and lifestyles knowing that there was absolutely no judgement of each other. There was only love, encouragement and a deep desire to help each other if ever one us needed it. I believe God was in that room, showing us what it means to have community. This is what it is all about.

Suddenly my problem seemed so small. Don’t get me wrong, the fear still pops its head up. What I do know is that I can count on my community if I ever need them and someday I will be honored to return the favor. It is such a gift to have people to support you when you feel so broken. Not everyone has that. I will never take it for granted. It is one of the most beautiful things a person can experience and I am so thankful in these moments that I have it.

I Underestimated My Kids

Around 6 pm in my house on any given night you will more than likely find me in the kitchen making dinner while shouting at my kids to stop hitting each other, to share their toys or to find another activity. You’ll see me put my head in my hands and force a few deep breaths as I push the dog off of the counter. You’ll hear my kids yelling, me yelling and my dog barking with My Little Pony playing in the background. You will feel the chaotic energy when you walk in.The scent of something delicious will hit your nose (or maybe the smell of veggie dogs). You will see messes building up all over the living room and bits of fluff from dog toys in every room of the house.

Sometimes in the throes of toddlerhood, I forget what I felt the first time I saw my children. The way I waited so patiently for them to arrive, the way I loved them before they were conceived. I forget the first time I held them and felt emotions that cannot be explained so simply… a mixture of joy, bliss, fear, worry, love and extreme tiredness. Well, I suppose I don’t forget the tired part.

I went to bed the other night after a long and stressful day thinking of how this is not what I want. I don’t want to think of my kids as just another obstacle to getting my chores done. I don’t want to feel angry every time they make messes, I don’t want to feel defeated every time they pee their beds. I don’t want to not enjoy my children anymore.

Does this mean the stress of it all has gone away? Not even close. They still pee their beds, scream at each other and this week I was made aware that my son doesn’t love me because I served him an apple. What has changed though, is the amount of time I spend focusing on the good instead of the bad.

I’ve learned that I under estimated my children. That in the midst of trying to get them to behave in a way I deem acceptable, I’ve missed out on seeing bits of their intelligence and glimpses of their true nature.

I’ve learned that my daughter loves vegetables even though I assumed she didn’t because her brother doesn’t. She doesn’t like to build with blocks, but loves to clang them together to make songs. She’s creative and artistic, loves making people laugh and smile. She isn’t afraid to be silly. She has a need to be the center of attention and won’t hesitate to get yours, whether in a good or bad way. She is a performer at heart.

My son on the other hand thinks like his father. An engineer in the making. He is extremely kind hearted and just as stubborn. I’ve learned that he has a way with words, using phrases like “quite interesting”, “as well”, and “I noticed”. Not bad for a 4 year old. Also that he loves books and has an eagerness to learn. I was reading and he asked me about my book, what is it about? Who wrote it? Can you read it aloud? He is somewhat of a perfectionist, getting frustrated when he cannot do things right (he’s vocal about it too) but isn’t afraid to ask for help.

Parenting is hard. Especially for someone who has had previous mental health issues. It is one of the most mentally taxing things you can do, raising or working with children. Kids can be pretty thankless which can be hurtful if you allow it.

The most important thing I’ve learned, is that my thanks does not come from my kids. My thanks comes from God in the form of learning the character, personality and potential of my children. I have the opportunity to nurture their passions and give them a chance that their dad and I never got. This, in its own right, is a gift.

Book Review: Jesus in the Lotus

Reading is probably my favorite thing to do in the entire world. The story in a book can take you into a different dimension. The words can exercise your imagination like nothing else. My kale life includes lots of reading of all different kinds of books. Old, new, fiction, non-fiction, romance, memoir…. I love it all! So here is my first review.

I’m definitely not a pro book reviewer, my plan is just to give a little background and share what I loved or didn’t about the book. This book review will be mostly made up of quotes that I love.

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In the Christian world there is a controversy about what practices are deemed “acceptable”. I’ve been told that as a Christian, I shouldn’t practice yoga or meditation because they come from different religions and can open you up to evil.

Well I have a problem with this. I have a personal belief that all paths lead to God. How can we all be made differently yet be expected to only have one true path?

Russill Paul shares in his book his personal experience of interspirituality. He was called to a monastery where he became a benedictine monk and was taught under Bede Griffiths. There, he was taught and practiced elements of Hinduism and Buddhism. He feels that including practices such as yoga can be beneficial to a Christ followers practice. The book gives another side to the debate of Christian yoga as well as giving a look into the experiences of a man within the monastery.

I figured a great way to give the book the justice it deserves is by sharing some of the quotes that really spoke to me.

“Both viewpoints — Eastern and Western — have value. While the Bible shows how one can engage with the world while transforming the ego, the Eastern scriptures teach how to disengage with the world and awaken to spiritual reality beyond the ego. The individual who can embrace the two and hold these seemingly paradoxical perspectives in balance may be the prototype for the future.”

“…While Yogis may know intellectually that God is love, within Christianity there is a palpable sense of love by grace, a love that transcends karma and reaches out despite it, and this can offer a refreshing balance to, even respite from, the emphasis on effort characteristic of the East.”

“The Yoga of Jesus is to love, despite the other’s ego, despite their karma, despite their ignorance, for the power of love can transform their ego and their karma and their ignorance.”

“Most important, in marriage one does not quit the relationship on a whim, but stays the course because each partner is aware of the other’s shadow even while remaining committed to the other’s life, liberty, and right to happiness. This is the kind of relationship that the spiritual traditions of the world must commit to, and the success of such relationships lies not only in the hands of religious leaders but also in the hands of individuals.”

Again, these quotes really spoke to me as a lifelong Christian. Russill speaks much more on different spiritual traditions as well in this book. If you’d like to check it out I found it on Amazon.

Personally I highly recommend it for anyone who is curious about how yoga and/or meditation can further your relationship with Christ.

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Monthly Missions

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This time of year is so lovely in the Pacific North West. I’ve been looking forward to it since surviving the sweltering summer we had. October was a rough month for me, spiritually and physically. Already I feel good about how November is beginning and can’t wait to share with you through posts.

Here is what I will be doing this month in my continuance of the path to self discovery.

1. 21 day meditation through the Chopra Center. It’s free and everyday there will be access to a free 20 minute meditation based on the energy of attraction. It starts November 3rd, so if you’d like to join in click here.

2. Daily Bible reading and devotion time in the New Testament. I kind of like to do my own thing with this. I just read what I feel like and if something speaks to me I’ll write it out or pray it out. I haven’t done this consistently in awhile so I look forward to seeing what comes out of it.

3. Workout more consistently. I have a gym membership as well as a For the Glow membership that I haven’t been using enough. The amount of stress I build up throughout the day is intense and I can tell the difference of how it affects me when I do not work out. Sweating is also a great way to detoxify after binging on Halloween candy…. just saying.

4. Eat pure foods and try some whole food recipes for Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving, it’s such a great way to connect with family. I’d like to focus on having a healthy holiday even if my family doesn’t eat my food! The more for me the better 😉

That’s all I’ve got! Here’s to a new month and to making the most of every moment!

Cheers!

The Importance of Being Human.

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Fall has been a haze of colour to me: all I seem to remember is waking to work. I’ve kept God in my thoughts, prayed, been aware of His presence, longed for Him and asked Him questions not at all expecting to be answered (or at least answered the way I’m looking for). On the other hand, I know I have sipped the punch that reality is pouring all around me and I’ve started to submit myself to the world, selling my soul for the  buck the world has told me it’s worth. I come home every night feeling like something’s taken a bite out of me. Doing this life routine goes against what I’ve always thought I was, however, there is some reason for it even though I cannot distinguish what that may be. Instead of being more alert to the present, I have opted for soothing one-hit fixes that keep me fogged from…

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My Spiritual Journey Thus Far…

I grew up Christian. I was dedicated in a Christian church as an infant and spent my youth in a Christian pre-school. As a family, we didn’t do church often and although I knew who God was I wouldn’t say I gained a relationship with Him until I was a teenager.

At around the age of 13 my mom and I started attending a church ritually. This church is where we found relationship with God and His people. We learned and dedicated our lives to Him. I learned to pray, read the quote-a-man-who-was-completely-innocent-offered-himself-as-a-sacrifice-for-the-good-of-others-including-mahatma-gandhi-67972Bible and also that I needed to hold myself accountable for my actions. I was definitely a wild child growing up, having done things that are cringe worthy and hurting people who didn’t deserve it along the way. I dealt with a lot of shit without anyone to really guide me through the emotions, until we found this church.  This church is where I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I honestly believe this is when I truly became saved. In terms of other religions, this is where I believe I had my spiritual awakening, developing an ability to open myself to the Divine in a way I never had before.

The Dark Night of the Soul

I believe it was after I received the Holy Spirit that I experienced what I have learned is called the dark night of the soul. I think Eckhart Tolle describes it well,

“It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness.  The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression.  Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything. “

 

Although at that time I was already considered depressed, having taken anti-depressants for 3 years, the depression got to the point of being so bad that I didn’t want to live anymore. I took drugs, self harmed and cried a lot.  I truly felt as if there was no point to any of it. I gave up on my relationship with God, thinking that God couldn’t exist.  I spent weeks in an inpatient unit to try and get my medication where it needed to be so that I could be stabilized mentally. So why do we go through all of this?  Again in my opinion Eckhart Tolle describes it damn near perfectly,

“They awaken into something deeper, which is no longer based on concepts in your mind.  A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life that is not dependent on explanations or anything conceptual any longer.  It’s a kind of re-birth.  The dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die.  What dies is the egoic sense of self.  Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there – only an illusory identity.  Now it is probably the case that some people who’ve gone through this transformation realized that they had to go through that, in order to bring about a spiritual awakening.  Often it is part of the awakening process, the death of the old self and the birth of the true self.”

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My dark night was the hardest time in my life, but from it I gained much. It took me a couple of years  to turn back to God but when I did my heart was open. At the time I  developed anxiety and panic attacks. I felt I needed Him above all else to get through it. If He could bring me through and out of the worst time in my life, how could I not repay Him with my devotion. When I cursed Him He showered me with love. He was protecting me the entire time although I didn’t see it.

As I was being brought out of the dark night I met my husband. We were immediately connected on a spiritual level. We like to joke that we are an arranged marriage. I will never forget a moment in one of our first dates, we walked around the bus station and I bent down to feel the petals of a beautiful flower. He seemed surprised. He said he’d never seen anyone do that before, let alone seen someone notice something so small. I felt he could see things other people couldn’t, and he felt the same about me.

I believe God was prepping me in my dark night to meet my husband, and in order to gain a true relationship with him I had to grow up fast. I had to lose the ridiculous ego I had created to hide behind. My husband is much older than me, but mentally and spiritual we connect so amazingly. We were baptized together in a non-denominational church where we spent about 5 years. We certainly weren’t the perfect christian couple from then on. We were two people who met in years of brokenness that were just starting to finally heal. We certainly have needed each other in order to do so.

Questioning my Faith

The church is an imperfect place because it is filled with imperfect people. Being apart of this church I learned of the politics of it. I learned that many Christians have view points that I not only disagree with but go against the teachings of Jesus Christ. I began to understand what Gandhi meant when he said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians, they are nothing like your Christ.” My husband and I felt extremely alone and unaccepted. It was so hard.

I began to question my faith. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in God and the Holy Trinity. I don’t believe at this point that Christianity is the only way to have that relationship. As a Christian I find it becomes easier to judge people and harder to love people when in fact love is the greatest commandment. I believe that eastern practices can help to develop my faith in a new way. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to love God and express your devotion and if there is, I’m sure He will let me know.

 

My spiritual practice is extremely important to me, so I share with you. A big part of creating my kale life is finding a spiritual path that feels right to me. I look forward to the journey.

 

Cheers!