not a destination

i just feel so lost lately. actually, i started to feel lost when i started nursing school. the past year and a half has been really tough on me. it’s been blow after blow to my self-esteem and i can’t figure out why it is that i can’t do as well as i know i can. what happened? i just got so good at faking being fine and then falling apart occasionally, picking up enough pieces just so i can manage to more forward. every little thing gets to me. i think back to when i quit my job, went back to school and moved out on my own. i was so much stronger, so much more courageous, so much more clear about my future. and now i’m just struggling with my life, my relationship with gibius, my family, his family, my friends, where i’m headed and always always struggling with where i’ve been. i hold everything in and it’s too much at times.

reading about a little bit about cat stevens and listening to this song has been inspirational. it at least gives me something to look forward to… a reflection of where i was headed before, where i want to be headed now.

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spirituality in nursing school

i had a good discussion with my spirituality class today. i even got to bring up the following:

“If you take the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible IS the wind and the rain.”

~Herbalist Carol McGrath as told to her by a Native-American woman.

and this concept from one of my favorite books, going home: jesus and buddha as brothers:

The same thing is true in Christianity. From time to time, you feel that you are very far away from your Christian brother. You feel that the brother who practices in the Buddhist tradition is much closer to you as a Christian. So Buddhism is not Buddhism and Christianity is not Christianity. There are many forms of Buddhism and many ways of understanding Buddhism. There are many ways of understanding Christianity. Therefore, let us forget the idea that Christianity must be like this, and that Buddhism can only be like that.

We don’t want to say that Buddhism is a kind of Christianity and Christianity is a kind of Buddhism. A mango can not be an orange. I cannot accept the fact that a mango is an orange. They are two different things. Vive la difference. But when you look deeply into the mango and into the orange, you see that although they are different they are both fruits. If you analyze the mango and the orange deeply enough, you will see small elements are in both, like the sunshine, the clouds, the sugar, and the acid. If you spend time looking deeply enough, you will discover that the only difference between them lies in the degree, in the emphasis. At first you see the difference between the orange and the mango. But if you look a little deeper, you discover many things in common. In the orange you find acid and sugar which is in the mango too. Even two oranges taste different; one can be very sour and one can be very sweet.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

a lot of people decided not to take this elective because they thought it was going to be hard. i actually wanted to take this elective because i know it will be beneficial. i hope to gain a better perspective and to grow because of this class.

a good way to end this post:

que sera, sera

so i haven’t been fasting for ramadan. i wish i could say that it was simply just because i can’t deal with the hunger. it is because i could not think of anything but the hunger. and when i’m fasting just for the sake of doing it, then my motivations are wrong. i’m not having the clarity of mind that i need to have and i don’t want to view fasting as a form of punishment. it needs to be something to which i look forward. it needs to be something that helps me grow.

the semester begins tomorrow and i think the challenge that will help me be the person i want to be is to learn acceptance to changes and to things i cannot control. life will be life, people will be people, i’m going to be who i am supposed to be when it’s time. there are things i can do to help me move forward but i can not move faster than i am… and the same things can be applied to my expectations of others.

a friend reminded me the other day that just because i see the potential in others, it doesn’t mean i have the right or it’s fair for me to expect them to live up to it. people are doing the best that they can and it’s not my responsibility to hold them to the same standards that i hold myself.

this is quite a tall order for me but i will get there when i get there. and that’s how i will begin.

Change the fabric of your own soul and your own visions, and you change all. ~Vachel Lindsay~

dear diary…

april has been a trying month, to say the least.

on a whim, i began to go through some of the folders on my computer and stumbled upon one called “spiritual diary.” three years ago, i kept a diary to chronicle my road of spirituality. most of them are deeply personal but in anticipation of my fast this coming friday, i will share one of the less personal ones on here:

October 9, 2006

I’ve falsified to say that I’ve found God.
Several years ago, that’s how I used to sing that line in one of Jason Mraz’s songs.
For several months now, I’ve listened to almost nothing but Christian music and I do quite regret not being able to see Chris Tomlin last night at CityFest. However, today, as a change of pace, I listened to some of my old music. It might have been an effort in re-living some of the more familiar moments in my life. Things were not less hectic, but at least then I had gotten a grip on how to manage.
I popped in an unmarked cd on the drive home and it was a mix of Jason Mraz and Matt Wertz. Now, I like Matt Wertz but between the two, my heart will always belong to Jason Mraz. His style is much more experimental, his music much more innovative and lyrics incredibly more thought-provoking. It’s the writer in me that draws me to him. Jason Mraz is a wordsmith and a way with words is a quick way to my heart.
So often, I write about my struggles with my faith which is unfortunate because one of the functions of this diary is to recount every step in my journey—the hardships as well as the times of clarities. To depict only one side would be unfair and unbalanced, which certainly will not do. After all, I’m a Libra. I want to read this years from now and have a complete picture of my experiences.
On Love, In Sadness” speaks to me in so many ways, especially with what I’ve learned these past few months and what I’m trying to learn now. The measure of love isn’t loss, love will never be lost on me.
Anyway, that is not how the song goes, y’know.
It’s not falsified to say that I’ve found God.

first friday fast… take two

Last Friday was my second stab at my First Friday Fast. Let me just say that when I started this, it never occurred to me how essential fasting was for my spiritual growth. At the time, I always saw it as one choice among many, that while I chose this, I had other alternatives. However, around the two or three weeks after my last fast, I found myself not only looking forward to it but needing to have this experience again. The clarity and state of mind that I attained as a result of my previous fast was unable to make it through the entire month. It was such a struggle to maintain that attitude and I don’t think that I did it successfully near the end. so when the day for my fast neared, I was excited to go through it.

humility

humility

Unfortunately, this fast was not quite as powerful as the first one. Because it is the middle of the semester, I had at least one exam for each of my classes. Not to mention, I was doing some preparation in the days leading up to the day after my fast, which unfortunately, included the first Friday of March. I was too stressed and had too many things on my mind to focus on my spiritual and personal growth. To be honest, I was just trying to get through the past two weeks.

However, there were some key enlightening moments. While I spent the entire day of the fast glued to my Macbook studying for upcoming exams, I was able to use my study breaks for some serious thinking. Unfortunately, I couldn’t commit to them fully because I would have run the risk of losing myself in heavy thoughts and not completing any of the work I had. I broke my fast by having dinner with my friends. One of them, Amal, found out about my fasts and we were able to briefly speak about the fasting experience. It made me happy to be able to share this with her considering that not many people can understand my reasons for doing it. In fact, save for several people, I haven’t really openly spoken about my fasts.

Another of these very few people was someone I met last Thursday. The day before my fast, I went over to a friend’s house to offer a helping hand, or rather, a pair of helping claws (post about this to come tomorrow). While at his house, I met his father. In size, he was intimidating but in personality, he was very calm and serene (for this reason, he’ll now be known as the Silent Giant). I had the honor of having several conversations with the Silent Giant two days later. That fact alone was odd because I typically do not talk to my friends’ parents, much less their fathers, as a result of my home environment. However, what’s more interesting is that this man left such an impression on me. We talked about spirituality and church and humility and charity and I felt as though everything I’ve felt about those things was coming out of SG’s mouth. It was as if the universe found a way to give me what I missed during my fast through him and I’m so happy that it happened. 

Knowing that these two people know the things that I want to experience gave me what I needed and what I missed. Part of the humility that I’m seeking is knowing that I can learn and grow through my experiences with others.

I’m not the best at opening up to people but lately, it just seems that  I’ve been doing so with so many of the right people. And to the person that’s responsible for encouraging me to do it, I’m very grateful.

Image from the article Observing Ramadan

Image from the article "Observing Ramadan"

first friday fast…first

This past Friday was the first of my First Friday Fasts. The night before, I put aside some time for some prayer and meditation. It was a good way to help me get in the right mindset for my fast.

The next day, I woke up unusually early and figured that sleeping in during my fast wouldn’t be the best use of my time. I spent the day studying, running, and whenever the mood hit, I would think about the world, its people and God. Friday was a particularly good day for this because I found out that morning that two of my friends have relatives going through major health problems at the hospital. Rather than just having a general prayer for the world, I was also able to think of specific people in mind at the same time, which I believe helped me more than I helped them.

During my prayers, I thought of how millions of people around the world go through unbearable hunger and that this was a way of holding out my hand to them and sharing in their experience. I was also humbled by the thought that for me, this was strictly voluntary and would only last for a day. Unfortunately, they do not have the same choice.

I also thought of the importance of sacrifice and discipline. I read somewhere that while people think that suppressing one’s sexual desire is the hardest thing to do, it is actually the desire to eat that can prove to be the greatest challenge. The reason for this is that unlike one’s sex drive, whose onset is around the teen years, the drive to eat has always been there from birth. Learning discipline and sacrifice, I believe, is essential to gaining humility. Understanding that the only right one has is the right to live is a product of discipline, sacrifice and humility.

The last thought I had was one that came as a surprise. Around late afternoon, when the pangs of hunger were at their greatest, I suddenly realized that this body will give up. With no nourishment, it will die and the only real strength I have is one in spirit. I quickly became aware of one of the greatest aspects of what I’m doing: fasting will reveal the truths in me and about the world.

I can’t wait until next month!