Category Archives: Spiritual Life

A New Direction

The winds of change are blowing.

Two months into my new job and I have finally found my feet – my balance. It’s not been the easiest transition, I must say. The Power that Is sent some terrific challenges my way personally, knocking me off balance just when I was most precariously perched. I’ve shed some tears the past couple months and I’ve exercised my faith…’tain’t been easy! It has, however, grown me as I so like to grow. And now, with my feet firmly grounded, I’m ready to feel the sun shine on my face as I start in a new direction.

One of my favorite things about my new boss is his voracious appetite for learning. He will learn from anything-or-one he’s the opportunity to learn from. He reflects on the way he builds his company, his business and his community impact. He encourages me to do the same. Due in part to a leadership podcast he’s turned me on to, an idea he has I think’s worth building and my thoughtful hubby’s cautionary reminder I don’t loose sight of my dreams, I find myself pulled in a new direction and I want to share it with you.

I recently thought hard about what I’m good at, what I believe in and what brings me joy. I reflected on these things in an effort to boil my professional aspirations down to a one sentence job description; something on which I can focus when I start to “spin”. What I landed on has excited me and I find my mind racing with ways to make it happen.

I want to encourage and inspire people to do business mindfully.

I want people to go out into the business world with ideas that encourage generosity of the spirit and collaborative thinking. I want to broadcast awesome resources/ideas like TED and Netweaving to influence anyone I can reach. And (this is where the joy comes in;)), I want to do this by written word. I want to learn and reflect on my learnings in such a way as they might inspire others to their own reflections.

It just so happens my boss has interest in doing much the same. Jason created a social platform a while back called the Noodlehead Network. Envisioned as a place where business minds can gather and share, it sits empty and waiting…like a carnival in a ghost town:(

So it is here I find myself. An idea rooted in passion and a vehicle for it’s launch. I’m ready to focus my attention and efforts in a new direction and I’m excited to see where this path leads me. I’m going to re-commit myself to regular writing and do the best work I can at the same time.

I worry only about PLM. This blog is so very special to me. It’s very name has become so much a part of how I see myself. If I choose to focus my writing time on Noodlehead Network instead of here I will miss it so…

But we’ll just see what happens, shall we? I hope those of you with an interest in this new project will join the conversation. In fact, I’d love to start it right now.

What ideas/information/people have you been exposed to that/who influence the way you work? The way you build the relationships in your lives? The way you go forth?

The Harvest

I’ve spoken before about tending your spiritual gardens. For the last few weeks I’ve been fortunate to celebrate a harvest. I went away on holiday to my family’s other homeland in South Africa and our days were filled with a bounty of spiritual food. I enjoyed the company of friends and family I rarely see, tasted food I eat often but enjoy the most in South African sunshine and allowed myself opportunities to learn and grow – so wonderful! I want to share some of these experiences with you along with my reflections – I hope you get something out of them!

  • Effort: On our second night in South Africa a friend, hearing of our arrival, dropped everything at 9 pm on a Friday to drive an hour to visit with us. What an expression of love! It makes me think about the times I’ve foregone visits with friends for simplicity’s sake. Yes, I still think it is sometimes the wise decision to make (especially if you’re taking into consideration the needs of a spouse and/or kids) but I’m reminded just how much love you can show by setting aside your own convenience to feed a relationship. Thanks, Thea, for loving me so well.
  • Hospitality: Next we went to Cape Town for a few days. When we landed the deal on that flight we contacted a friend to find out whether we’d be able to stay with her when we visited. Thinking she and her new hubby would be in a larger home by then (theirs is a small garden flat), she extended her hospitality. As our arrival neared, she contacted us to let us know she had everything arranged for our visit. She and her hubby had not moved yet, but would stay with friends so we could have use of their home. Shew, what a friend, huh? Fortunately, we also have other friends in Cape Town. Upon hearing her arrangements, my hubby’s childhood  friend’s parents insisted, rather, that we stay in their guest apartment – on the beach – with a view of Table Mountain. In short – the hospitality of our friends in Cape Town brought me to tears on multiple occasions and is due much credit for my rekindled obsession with moving there:) I thought about it the whole visit and took note of all the little touches of hospitality I found in our quarters. I want to be more mindful of the hospitality I extend to guests. I want to do as much as I can to make them feel as at home as I was in the Cape. Baie dankie, Rheeders en Nagtegaals!
  • Worship: What better place to worship than on the beach; wind and waves in your ears and salt in your breath? Our first morning in CT, I practiced my yoga with my toes in the sand and Table Mountain in my view. As I grounded, I gave thanks for all God created. I watched kiddo lead hubby across the crest of a dune (“c’mon, Papa!”) thank you. I watched dogs and people run thank you. I let the waves and the wind shift me, move me, change my direction thank you. God is so good!
  • Consciousness (kind of): After listening to some of my increasingly out there views on wellness and spirituality, a friend asked me if I would be interested in checking out an alternative healing therapy. I was:) I’m not going to try and explain the theory or the session but I do want to tell you what it did for me. The session afforded me the opportunity to settle my mind, calm my body and skim my sub-conscious for issues that were bothering me. I was reminded again how powerful a tool visualization is for me and I learned practices I can do to focus my thoughts and energies where they ought to be focused. I am so thankful God has led me to a place in my life where I am open to new ideas and interpretations…each time I explore my relationship with God in a new way another path is forged. I find each emotional or rational path I take these days leads me to a seat, in a garden, where he waits to be with me.
  • Moderation: Though natural to many, moderation has never come easily to me. I exercised moderation in my indulgence of alcohol this trip and am so thankful to hold all my memories – in full – of precious time and conversation with loved ones. This particular crop is my asparagus – it took a few years to cultivate. Hot damn and hallelujah!  😉

Do you understand why the word “harvest” comes to mind? Such fruits! I feel so blessed, so loved, so full. And I must be. Because I never know when next I’ll return to that particular, familiar table…I only know that I will.

When was your last harvest? Where were you and who were you with? Do you carry pieces of that harvest around with you, chipmunk style?

An oozing, gushing mess of Spirit

The first thing I did this morning was plunge into cold water and stretch and move my body fully with the rhythm of it; dogs gliding along at my side and a crane perched on the roof of a dock in the cove. I felt God everywhere. I swam early: 6:20 on a Sunday morning. I swam before hubby or kiddo were awake; before anyone could ask anything of me. I swam with enough time to shower and go to the early service, even! After I had my swim I lay a towel on the dock and practiced yoga, moving my body on it’s various axles and then pushing my energies in one direction…another…grounding. Directing focus and praise physically, mentally and emotionally as the birds sang their good morning’s and the lake breathed thick veils with the air above it. I thought of all the blessings that’ve touched me lately and I thought of the promise of those yet to come.

And then I went to church. On Pentecostal Sunday. Can’t say I knew much about this one going into it. In fact, just last week Sonskyn mentioned my ma-in-law was at church on a weeknight and asked me what season we were in. My response after looking it up was “huh, Pentecost…nope, can’t think of anything special that time of year!” Huh, is right! I’ve since had a realization that I have somehow missed entirely the liturgical calendar event most closely matched with my personality!

But let me back up. I sat in the pews at my parent’s church (and nearest I’ve to one for my family at the moment) this morning and listened to a young mother called to the Episcopalian pulpit early who now loves that congregation with a joyous and genuine heart. She preached to us of the Holy Spirit and shared an interpretation of the Trinity she’d enjoyed and embraced. I want to share it with you now because it is just so lovely.

See most folks aren’t up for talking about the Trinity. God is good – we get him. He’s Big Papa, up there hugging or coaching or teaching. Sometimes he disciplines us; thwarts our plans. Jesus is the peer. He’s liked by gals because of his sensitive heart but still loved by many a guy because of his manly-likeability. You know you can see his hippy ass coppin’ a squat on the grass, whittle-wood in hand, ready to talk shop on life and carve something cool. The Holy Spirit or Ghost or whatever you want to call it, though…that one’s a little harder to personify…

So the idea Mary shared with us this morning was the Holy Spirit as the embodiment of the love between Father and Son. This “oozing, gushing” extra loveliness that spills out from them and into our world, our hearts, our lives…this is the Spirit. This is what I pressed my energy toward this morning as I stood with my feet planted firmly on a dock in an empty cove…What a beautiful conceptualization of the Holy Spirit, huh?

I leave this home in a couple of days to fly to our other one. South Africa, our “other” home, currently involves living in others’ houses and adjusting our child and selves to a culture that, though familiar, is different from the one we share now. We will disrupt the lives of friends and family there and impose ourselves on them for rides, beds, company and laughter. My family will spend two and a half weeks living a life so different from the one we live here…ahh, vacation:). I feel this opportunity, this privilege, so acutely today. I’ve spent the last two days preparing mentally and emotionally for the journey we’re about to embark on with a now very chatty child and I find myself strengthened for the path by an idea that resounds so firmly in my own head and heart: I can tune in to that Spirit anywhere I need to do so.

Should travel plans derail, I’ll thank God for the laughter the story will bring later…or the conversation enjoyed while we ride the bus (Pitlochry to London ’02 reference, Sonskyn and Thea…;)) Should family not always see eye to eye on those booze-laden evenings, I’ll thank God we want to share ideas and views with one another we feel passionately enough about to yell. Should absent friends leave us feeling sad and neglected, I’ll thank God for those who go to any length to remind us we’re home.

Get ready, South Africa…I’ve got a suitcase full of oozing, gushing Spirit with your name on it! I’m planning on documenting the heck out of this trip, too. I want to capture footage on SA food culture to piece together into a series for www.vikingtogo.com at the least or PBS at the best;) I’ve even downloaded an application for my phone that will allow me to stream video live to qik.com/potluckmama. I’m going to throw some footage up there while I’m away so feel free to visit and see what we’re getting up to. I may or may not post while away, dear readers. Rest assured, though, that I will be pushing my energies in one direction – then another – grounding all the while. I’ll direct my focus and praise physically, mentally and emotionally on the Spirit wherever I can find it – giving thanks.

I hope you catch the pentecostal spirit, too, friends…it’s a happy place to be:)

You may want to check out 1000 Awesome Things while I’m gone…that should get you started down the right path! 🙂

’til next time!

Pot Luck Kindness 2010: The Big 3-0

Yay, I'm 30!

Yay, I'm 30!

Last month I read Robyn Bomar’s How I Celebrated My Birthday (aka 38 Random Acts of Robyn) and was inspired. Have you seen this yet? Robyn decided she would spend her 38th birthday doing 38 random acts of kindness. She made a list and spent the day running around town with several members of her family doing random acts of kindness. What’s more, she asked her “friends, readers, Facebook fans and fellow Twitter-ers to each perform one Random Act of Kindness and to let [her] know about it throughout the day”. What good stuff, man! I wanna put some goodness like that out there!

So here I am, a few days from my thirtieth birthday and I haven’t gotten my act together. I actually considered doing a belated Earth Day post this week because the work involved to pull together something like Robyn pulled together is not work I want to be doing this week. Can you believe I would let lazy beat out good karma on an occasion such as this?

I do feel like it’s a special birthday. I own it, I love it and I feel somehow as though I’ve turned a corner in the past few months and I am so very excited for the me walking into my thirties. I had a lovely meeting today for the Netweaving Pay It Forward Week and this evening I spent $28 on $50 worth of groceries – a milestone in frugality. Two for two, man…can’t I make this idea work for me somehow?

Well, maybe with some help;)

Here’s the deal. The one thing I didn’t care much for on Robyn’s project was that so many of her random acts involved money. As I read through her list I was tallying the costs and the project felt less and less practical for my personal situation. I also really don’t need to take Monday off…I’m in the middle of some very cool projects and would rather spend my birthday working on them:) So, I’m going to rip off Robyn’s idea and dilute it down to my taste…throwing just a little bit of good stuff out into the world is better than not throwing out any, right? 😉  So…

Pot Luck Kindness 2010: The Big 3-0

  1. I ask that anyone so inclined to celebrate this milestone birthday with me perform a random act of kindness. I’m going to do as many as I can on b-day and I’ll tweet them out as I do them.
  2. I ask that you make every effort to perform a ROAK that doesn’t cost you money or at least doesn’t cost you much. Let’s put a $5 cap on it, ok?
  3. I ask that you let me know about your RAOK somehow. You can comment here, text me, FB me, tweet me; whatever. I’ll post any messages I get from other channels here later. My hope [read: gift] is that this post will collect a long string of creative RAOKs, inspiring anyone who stumbles on this post in the future to perform one themselves or perhaps celebrate similarly on their birthday.
  4. My birthday is Monday 5/3 but I’m not going to attach the request to the date. You can do it the day you read this post, the next day, a week later, whenever. I will certainly be pleased if some of you think about me day-of but I’ve been stretching out my birthday for years so I don’t know why I’d stop now;)

That’s it; my birthday wish. I hope you want to celebrate with me and I hope you have fun doing it. Thanks for reading, too…I can’t tell you how much this outlet – this regular writing – has done for me. And your attention, dear reader? It’s speaking my love language🙂

Tending the Gardens

Spring is sprung on my side of the world. My perennials are popping back up (as are weeds) and I’m sorting through my seeds figuring out what vegetables to plant in my square foot garden. Long days are upon us and I know I will soon neglect the house and the laundry in favor of the yard and gardens. This will go on a couple of months before the heavy heat of Georgia Summer chases me back in to the air conditioning where my boobs don’t sweat. Then the yard will be on it’s own until the temperatures moderate and I’m ready to venture out once again.

The yard won’t wow anyone these next couple of months. Though I will toil, my greatest rewards will be limited: the rediscovery of plants I’ve already cultured as I pull back weeds, the potting of purchased (not nursed) plants in my patio containers. I’ll kick myself for not planting more bulbs last fall and applying pre-emergent weed treatments to the lawn. I know because it went down like this last year and I made few changes to my routine to alter the outcome.

It’s hard to believe it was Easter on Sunday. This year is flying by. It seems just yesterday I was beginning my spiritual preparation for Lent, thinking about my relationships and my self…trying to identify ways I can improve both. Now here I am, a chorus of “he is risen, indeed” echoing in my head and still I find myself wondering what I’ve actually accomplished. Fortunately, my spiritual growth is not regulated by the same seasons as my gardens. I do not have to wait for next Lent to plant my bulbs. I may find the heat of introspection chases me back to my comfort zone from time to time, but those seasons are my own and I have more control over them than those that guide my physical planting.

Knowing this, I have made some conscious decisions about my yard and gardens – both physical and spiritual.

1) I will not neglect the yard just because I value the fruits of my gardens more. If I make the effort with the yard (weeding, edging) I will have to mow less frequently. I will not have to deal with the shame an unkempt yard evokes. This behavior is neighborly. My body is my yard and my soul is my garden. Though I value the fruits of the soul, I will do the hard work necessary to get my body in good shape so that I may be free of the shame an unfit one elicits. Once the hard work is done, I’ll be able to work less frequently. I’ll take pride in my healthy body and my next door neighbor (hubby) is bound to appreciate it;)

2) I will wait for the rain before I weed. There is no sense busting ass digging at roots in solid ground. That behavior only leaves me frustrated and unsatisfied. Similarly, I will not force spiritual growth on myself when my soul is not ready. Much like rain, circumstances for growth are beyond my control. There’s no sense kicking myself for not scaling some grand spiritual staircase this Lent. I’m better off working on something else until that slow, steady rain comes in it’s own time.

3) I will prioritize and make the time. No one becomes a master gardener overnight (nor a master of anything else, for that matter). I will sometimes set aside laundry or other housekeeping responsibilities to work in the yard when weather permits. For my soul? I will tear myself away from a work project to go to the Wednesday noon church service or miss a self-imposed writing deadline to play with my son. Also, as my gardens are shared with my husband’s, I will make time to tend them together – even if that means doing the “tasks” he wants to do rather than those I’d like to do.

4) I will make every effort to learn. I will identify my trusted sources, open my mind to positive influences and make every effort to soak up ideas.Through this I will achieve growth.

5) I will not be afraid to try new ideas, even if they are foreign to me. Nor will I be afraid to cast aside those that do not suit my soil, plants or climate.

6) I will share. Just as many plants can be split and rooted to grace a new space, so can positivity be shared and fostered to grace another soul.

7) I will compost. I will not cast aside scraps of food or life lessons. Instead, I will allow them to ruminate and culture, applying them when the time comes, that I may grow beautiful vegetables and the fruits of the spirit.

So there you have it – my gardening plans. I hope the exercise of writing them down helps me stick with them:) I find sometimes the best gardens are those that require little effort (thank you, zinnias!) but even when the grandest of my planting plans are left unrealized I can at least see the outlines of them to guide me the next year. Here’s to a happy season (whichever yours may be) and a yard and garden to be proud of! What about you? Have you ordered your seeds yet? Which plants will you share with friends?

Spiritual Preparation

In the summer after my sophomore year in college I chaperoned our church’s youth group pilgrimage to the UK. Hot on the heals of heartbreak, that summer was a pivotal one. I got in shape, I got the travel bug and, on that trip, I started to feel like a grown-up. We visited standing stones and cathedrals alike on that journey. The experience strengthened my conviction that my God, by any other name, would smell as sweet.

For all my self-asserted openness, I’m still looking for the church I grew up in. I like knowing when to stand up, sit down or kneel. I like a Sunday School class that’s “meaty”. I want a sermon – not announcements. I want love and comfort and growth. I want a religion that’s tailored to my spirituality. Maybe that’s why I’ve prayed more during yoga practice and less in the pews of late. Or, maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough for a new church. Whatever the reasons, these days I find myself experiencing the bulk of my spiritual growth outside of my comfort zone – and it feels good.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and I may not make it to a church service. Lent begins whether I’m there or not, anyway. Lent begins for those who observe it not because it is on the liturgical or civic calendar, but because they choose to observe it. They choose to prepare themselves to strengthen and celebrate their relationship with God.

I don’t want to use this space to talk about my personal Lent commitments; I want to share this idea of preparation. I encourage those of you who have observed Lent in the past to consider your decisions this season. This is not about giving something up. This is about preparing for a relationship. Self-denial is only effective in Lent if the thing you’re denying yourself distances you from God or if the time and energy spent doing it can be redirected to your preparation. Don’t give up chocolate. Instead, make a commitment to spend thirty seconds in prayer every time you want but don’t have a piece of chocolate in the hopes that this regular prayer will become a part of your daily routine. Put some thought into your commitments. Tailor them to your spirituality.

For those of you who haven’t observed Lent before, I encourage you to consider experiencing some spiritual growth outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to start tomorrow. You can run your Lent from May 17th to June 1st for all anyone else has to do with it. Call him God, call him Allah, call him her – it makes no difference to me. Just prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for a relationship with your God and do so thoughtfully – the rewards will be greater for your efforts.

Here’s a prayer I learned on that pilgrimage that I have turned to time and again. The strength of the words never fail me. I find them even more poignant with my Lent approaching. They help me prepare. I hope they have a similar effect on you.

Standing Stones: Killen, Scotland

God, thanks for welcoming me again. I look into my heart, and I am not proud of what I see there. I look into my mind, and it is cluttered with worries and concerns and important business. I look at my hands and they are full of the things I think I need for my comfort and security. God, you welcome me before I am ready, while I am still in a mess. But you do not care about the mess. You can see deeper into my heart, to the beauty and potential you have made there. You know what my mind will be like when I have learned how to stop being so serious and worried about life and work. You know what my hands will hold when I have learned how to empty them for you to fill. You love me and you love each one of us with the same enthusiasm and hope. You know what we can be. Help us to empty our hearts and minds and hands of all that is unnecessary and teach us how to care for and welcome one another every day with the same affection and generosity with which you welcome us.

Netweaving: Why I don’t Mind Attending Events

The novelty of networking wore off quickly for me. All it took was a few of those people. You know them – they’ve handed you a card before a word has been uttered. Three flights up in your elevator pitch they’ve already checked out – scanning the room for their next card receptacle. They’re gross and they make me wish I were at home with my family. What a waste of my time.

When an esteemed colleague urged me to join her at a WINN meeting I only agreed out of respect for her. WINN (Women in NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) Networking). Whew! That just sounds complicated, right? I was in a sorority in college and enjoyed it, but I’ve been exposed to enough caddy, female politics to steer clear. You can imagine my surprise when I walked out an hour and a half later feeling like my time had not been wasted. These women were incredible! They shared ideas and resources for growing and improving business. The fluff was minimal. I was hooked.

Early on in WINN’s evolution someone introduced us to Netweaving. Catchy word, huh? Wanna know more? Well, I’m happy to oblige:)

Have you ever seen or heard of the movie Pay It Forward?  Well, Netweaving is a pay it forward approach to business. Instead of walking into an event thinking about who you can meet to benefit you, you walk into one looking to meet people who interest and impress you. Then, as your black book of resource contacts grows, you begin to connect people. You connect them because they have a common interest or it benefits them to know one another. You help people with no known personal gain.

Frankly, I don’t believe Bob Littel, Chief Netweaver, has invented anything new. What Bob has done is give a name to an exercise that some business people do naturally and suggest a practice for this exercise so that those who do not can. It’s brilliant in it’s simplicity. Bob is teaching/reminding business people to be good people. Yes, part of the concept is a belief that good things happen to those people who make good things happen, but the payoff is not guaranteed and it’s not a motivator. It must not be.

The WINNers took this concept and we began applying it to our group at every opportunity. One such opportunity was Christmas. We opted for a non-materialistic gift exchange. After drawing names, we contacted our giftee and set up a time to get to know her better. Then, after learning more about her business, her personal professional goals and/or  her personal aspirations, we worked on gift ideas. Leslie sent me links to resources for marketing a blog and building readership. My giftee asked me to spend a couple of hours helping her set her new computer up. Some women hosted a Netweaving meeting,  introducing their giftee to someone it behooves them to know.  The gifts were specific and meaningful – we enjoyed the exchange so much!

We shared our stories at a meeting last week. Bob Littel (an Atlantan) even joined us to celebrate the efforts. I have rarely been in a room that oozed satisfaction like that one did:). When it was all said and done we had each gotten to know two members better (she we gave to and she who gave to us) and we had exercised our creativity generously. What a project!

I still guard my time. I don’t rush off to every event that crosses my inbox in the hopes that it will be another WINNer. Still, I’m glad I went to that meeting. I’m glad I’ve invested in a group of people I admire and enjoy. They’ve inspired me, supported me and befriended me in the past year and I value those relationships. They’ve replaced a hated chore (networking) with a healthy and welcome practice (Netweaving) that I can do every time I’m in a group of people. They’ve helped me grow, and that’s worth my time.

Ok, enough soppy stuff; here’s the fun part:)

WINN never did land on the right thing to call our little project. What we’re doing isn’t Netweaving, that’s just a gift some of us chose to give and an attitude we’ve adopted. Here are the names we came up with. If anyone can come up with something better I’ll give them a “whatever the game is called” gift.

  • Secret Santa with a Twist (this one had legs until “secret” made the getting-to-know-you pregame confusing…)
  • Netweaving Santa (yeah, we just went over all that…)

There’s been talk about doing this quarterly, by the way, so taking the “Santa” out of the name is welcome.

ALSO GOOD TO KNOW: Netweavers are doing an event this April (more info to follow). The original plan involved people flooding local restaurants to have their meetings. I actually think that’s a great idea (can think of a few places I’d like to support), but the event has grown exponentially to include so many different meanings now (inter-office communications and the like) that it it has opened up to any(one/where) they can meet. Think about this…one day when all these people (who are more like you than they are different) are exercising their nice muscle right along with you…I wouldn’t mind sharing in an energy like that.