Happy Halloween! Leaving: It Doesn’t Have to be Permanent

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Happy Halloween!

When I think of this day, I vividly recall the excitement as Mom would take me and my siblings to the store to purchase costumes.  Sometimes, we’d cobble together our own unique costumes from parts of others we’d worn in previous years.  I can remember being a skeleton, a clown, a pirate, and a hobo.

Once I had a home and children of my own, I looked forward to helping the kids with their costumes:  a Panda bear, a cat from space, a fairy princess, and the all-time family favorite of a Math Wizard.   I also enjoyed seeing the neighbor kids in their costumes–so creative and inventive!

These days I’m more of an observer as my kids have their own lives now there aren’t many kids in the neighborhood anymore.  Just because I’m not a child and my kids are grown, this doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the holiday.

I can enjoy my memories, I can enjoy the decorations that people have up, I can enjoy overhearing kids in the grocery store as I’m shopping as they excitedly talk to their moms about the candy they’ll get and their costumes and who they’re going to walk around their neighborhood with.

And I can enjoy the happy surprises that come along.  On my way home I drive by an elementary school and last week the school’s parking lot was packed.  Parents were holding their kids’ hands as they walked to their cars; the kids were all in costume!  I found myself smiling as I remembered my own excitement when I was a child and taking part in my school’s Halloween Parade each year.  My kids’ school did the same thing.  And it was such fun to see the kids now still enjoying this same event!

This got me to thinking….

Although we leave things behind, we move on, and we let go of things in our past, that doesn’t mean that we can’t we visit them in our memories and still enjoy them. It can be great fun to make these trips down Memory Lane and visit the happy times, the pleasant events, and the people who cared for us.

What are your Halloween memories?  Feel free to share.  Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Leaving: How?!

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I don’t know about you but sometimes I fight tooth and nail to hang onto something that’s leaving–or has already left–my life. Sure, I’ve heard the quotes about how each ending is really a new beginning and that no matter our success and achievement in the past, our best days are ahead of us.

 

But our thoughts go into overdrive:

What if our best days are behind us?

What if this new beginning is worse than where we had been?

Even though the people here maybe jerks, what if they’re worse at the new job or in the new neighborhood?

What if there isn’t enough money to pay all the bills?

What if we don’t like anyone in the new place and no one likes us?

 

Instead of giving in to these worries and fears, think about times in the past when you’ve left situations, even if you did so unwillingly. You’ll probably find that what got you through it was finding the benefits, the good stuff, in the new situation and focusing on this rather than glorifying the old situation and thinking it wasn’t so bad and you probably should have stuck it out after all.

Whether you’re the one choosing the leaving or if the decision was thrust upon you, give yourself the gift of honoring. What I mean by this is giving yourself understanding and compassion. Accept that this is a difficult time–even if you’re very excited about your future, there may still be some bittersweet feelings about moving on. Honor the old by recognizing that in its own way, it helped you–there were good things about it. But now, you’ve outgrown it.

Then, take the time to note the benefits of your new situation, even if you don’t want to be in it: What opportunities for personal and/or professional growth and development will you have in the new situation that you wouldn’t have had if you’d stayed in the old? For instance, if you’re moving from the country to the city, the rush and noise may be overwhelming and scary, however, the variety of cultural activities, the exposure to different ways of thinking and living are all benefits for expanding yourself that you wouldn’t have had if you’d stayed in the country.

Find little things to be excited about regarding this phase of leaving.

And, remember that leaving is a phase and that it, too, shall pass.

Feel free to share your thoughts as well as the tips, tricks, and techniques you use to make leaving easier on yourself. Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Leaving: 9 Thought-Provoking Quotes

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Whether we like it or not–or realize it–we’re constantly leaving. For instance, here in the US, this coming weekend we’ll be turning the clocks back an hour, signaling that we’re leaving Daylight Savings Time.

There are big leavings–significant leavings–such as leaving high school to go off to college, as a young adult leaving home to start a life of your own, and leaving your single status to become married.

Every day, though, is filled with leavings and, because they’re so small and we don’t fully appreciate them, these leavings slip by unnoticed. For instance, we leave each moment as it passes into the next. We presume that there will be a next moment and it’s sobering to remember that for a number of us, this is not always so….

With the topic Leaving in mind, here are a few quotes that will help us think about what leaving means to each of us and how it continues to impact our life.

If you are brave enough to say goodbye, then Life will reward you with a new hello. ~Paul Coelho

There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit’. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over–and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying it’s validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry; that we are moving up rather than out. ~Ellen Goodman

When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits–anything that kept me small. My judgment called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving. ~Kim McMillen

Try to learn to breathe deeply; really to tase food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough. ~Ernest Hemingway

Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future. ~Daphne Rose Kingma

When we…go back into the past and rake up all the troubles we’ve had, we end up reeling and staggering through life. Stability and peace of mind come by living in the moment. ~Pam Vredevelt

Just remember–when you think all is lost, the future remains.   ~Bob Goddard

People always find it easier to be a result of the past rather than a cause of the future. ~Unknown

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It’s the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here’s a happy one for you.
~Dale Evans

 

Stay tuned as we discuss the topic of leaving this week. As always, feel free to share your thoughts. Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,
Lauren

Pilgrimage: From the Comfort of Your Cozy Armchair

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Perhaps you find yourself in circumstances that don’t allow you to go anywhere for a pilgrimage.

No worries! You can enjoy one from the comfort of your cozy armchair!

Your library or favorite bookstore is loaded with memoirs with the theme of “A Year of…” These are a few that I’ve enjoyed:

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock,
365 Thank Yous by John Kralik
Thrive by Arianna Huffington
Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower by Tom Krattenmaker
Holy Rover by Lori Erickson

The Internet is filled with images of Holy Sites, Shrines, as well as photos and videos of the wonders of the natural world. Here are a few websites to check out:

American Religious Sites

Huffington Post’s suggestions 

BBC’s suggestions

National Park Foundation

National Parks in the USA 

 

Also, you can refresh yourself with an afternoon of surfing sites related to activities and hobbies you enjoy. Here is one I’ve enjoyed surfing:

YouTube.com

Let me know the interesting pilgrimages you’ve taken from the comfort of your favorite cozy armchair! Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,
Lauren

Pilgrimage:  Recent Ones I’ve Taken

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Pilgrimage: How to Do This in Every Day Life

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All week we’ve been talking about pilgrimages.  What if you aren’t able to make any kind of pilgrimage?  Perhaps finances are a concern, or maybe your family responsibilities or work obligations prevent you from traveling anywhere.

No worries!  You can always incorporate a pilgrimage into your everyday life!

It sounds weird to go to the grocery store or the cleaners or picking up a few items at the hardware store as a pilgrimage, but it can be done.

It might be better, though, to visit a place in town that’s special to you in some way.  For instance, you might hang out at the library or go to a park in town that you don’t normally visit.  You might find it very interesting to visit different places of worship not only during services (check first to make sure it’s okay for visitors to attend), but also when there are no services going on (check to make sure there are hours when the house of worship is unlocked and open to visitors).

Going to a store that specializes in supplies for a hobby that you enjoy could be a special treat.  For instance, I have a good friend who loves knitting and it’s great fun for her when she visits yarn stores—she treats them as pilgrimages.

Once you’ve decided the pilgrimage you’re going to make in town, here are a few things you can do:

Create a Clear Intent – ask yourself:
~Why is this important to you?
~What do you hope to gain, to learn–how do you hope this changes you?
~What do you want to let go of, release?

Attention and listening:
~What are you noticing through your senses—the colors, textures, scents, sounds, etc.

~What’s the same as you’ve experienced in your everyday life; what’s different?

Allow meandering:
~explore!

Reflect:
~How will this help you?
~How will this move you into a soul-prospering life?

Gratitude:
~Even if it seems like you haven’t experienced anything new, be grateful for the experience anyway.  You’ll probably find that in the coming days and weeks, something will connect with your pilgrimage experience.

Leave an offering:

~Is there something you can offer/give as a thank you for the pilgrimage?

 

Give this a try and please share your experiences in the comments below.  Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Pilgrimage: Secular Pilgrimages, Are They Possible?

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The answer to the question posed in today’s post’s title: YES!

When we think of secular pilgrimages we think of people who are fanatics about a particular thing such as intrepid Elvis fans who visit Graceland with awe and deep reverence.

But there’s more than trips like these for those who want to make a pilgrimage but don’t want to “get involved” with anything religious or spiritual. If this describes you, you’ll be glad to know that you aren’t alone. The travel industry studies report that there is a significant increase in secular travelers making pilgrimages to holy sites across the globe.

In fact, I have a co-worker who loves to visit holy places because of the stained glass windows and other works of art at these sites. Even she, a firm non-believer, appreciates that these shrines  seem to be infused with a  sacredness that keeps the racket of the world at bay.

Still sound kind of iffy? Consider this: going on a pilgrimage may not give you a religious enlightening or any type of epiphany, visiting new places always “broadens your horizons” as my parents were so fond of saying to my siblings and me. For a time, you experience life through the filters of different customs and routines, different foods, different sights, sounds, and smells. Visiting new places has the potential to give you a different perspective that you couldn’t have gotten by staying in your old familiar place and routine.

The important  point about a pilgrimage is it’s to connect with that piece within you that is profound; that is more than, and bigger than, all the rush and hubbub and frenetic activity of the world. It’s a way to reach inside yourself and have a deeper more meaningful experience here on Earth.

Stay tuned for my upcoming post of resources that might help you choose a place to visit.

Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Pilgrimage: Why?

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Why make a pilgrimage either secular, religious, or spiritual?

Because of the following reasons:

Healing

Discovery

Connecting

Re-connecting

Closure

Letting Go

New Direction

Inward Focus

Fulfillment

Refocusing

Uncluttering

Simplifying

Groundedness

Remembering

Seeking

Finding

Community

Solitude

Encounters

Opening

Embracing

Wisdom

Self

Others

Endings

Beginnings

Limits

Limitless

Revitalize

Rejuvenate

Just Because

You Have No Idea Why…

 

The motivations are as varied, as individual, and as unique as you. There is no right or wrong explanation just as there is no right or wrong way to “do” or to “have” a pilgrimage. What ever, where ever, and how ever is meaningful–even sacred–to YOU is all that matters.

What are intentions for a pilgrimage that appeal to you? Feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Pilgrimage: What Is It?

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When we say or hear the word pilgrimage we think of some sort of religious or spiritual journey. We may think of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or the medieval practice of visiting Camino de Santiago de Compostela and other Holy Shrines, or we may have images of people of today crawling on their knees up steep hills and along sheer cliffs as they follow in the footsteps of their prophets, sages, and holy people. Also, the word pilgrimage may conjure images of travel to Israel, India, Asia, or other distant lands.

As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, going on a pilgrimage does not have to be religious and you don’t have to travel anywhere, either domestically or to foreign lands. Your pilgrimage can take place in the midst of your every day life. In fact, there are websites dedicated to digital pilgrimages.

I also think that you don’t have to prepare for your pilgrimage–there is no elaborate practice or ceremony or blessing required.

To me, a pilgrimage–whether you stay where you are or if you travel to a far-flung place or if you visit a Holy Site–is all about the inner journey and how it opens your mind, spirit, heart, and soul to discovering and connecting with and honoring the Divine within. And, in so doing, you discover, connect with, and honor the Divine within all creation.

In other words, you can start right here, right now, right where you are. I encourage you to do this now.

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Pilgrimage: Quotations from Pema Chödrön

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This week we’ll be talking about how the life each of us is living is one big soul-prospering pilgrimage.

 

Recently, I came across a few quotes from Pema Chödrön, an American Tibetan Buddhist, that are relevant to this week’s topic.

 

Without loving-kindness for ourselves it is difficult, if not impossible, to genuinely feel it for others. ~ Pema Chödrön

This quote sums up the underlying theme of the lives of each of us. On the days when we find it’s really tough to be understanding, compassionate, and kind to others, this is our spirit’s error message telling us that we, ourselves, need loving-kindness. We need to care for ourselves–that piece of us that feels deprived or neglected–so that we have a spirit overflowing with loving-kindness that then we have plenty to share with others.

 

Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world. ~ Pema Chödrön

It’s the little things in life that we need to focus on in order to lead a soul-prospering life of joy, peace, loving-kindness, and abundance. We wish and hope for, and intensely focus our stare and wait for the Big Stuff that we’re sure will bring us happiness, peace, and fulfillment. Sure, sometimes the Big Stuff comes along, but those times are few and far between. And the happiness we derive from it does not last.

Taking pleasure and satisfaction from the little moments and letting those simple joys infuse us is how we step into our soul-prospering life. The really fantastic news is that we don’t have to worry about sustaining joy, contentment, and peace because every moment of each day is brimming over with little pleasures and happy surprises so we’re continuously renewed and refreshed.

 

We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering, we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is we only become more fearful, more hardened and more alienated. We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole. This separateness becomes like a prison for us – a prison that restricts us to our personal hopes and fears, and to caring only for the people nearest to us. Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet, when we don’t close off, when we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings. ~ Pema Chödrön

It’s when we uncover our hearts and spirits–those tender, vulnerable places within us–that we begin to see through, beyond, and underneath the heartbreak and travail of the world and can experience Creative Intelligence that nourishes and sustains all in the cosmos, both seen and unseen.

 

This is why this week we’re going to talk about pilgrimage and what it means to each of us personally.

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Crafting a soul-prospering life.