Why I Am Religious (Even Though Religions Do Bad Things)

My friend is pretty bold in claiming religion–a word I shy from in my own practice of Christianity. But she has a great point. I’ll need to think about this more…

Becoming Bethany

I ease my back into the old wooden pews. Tall candles flicker just above my head. The cedar garlands draped above the altar and the small fir trees decorating the foyer release a spicy-sweet smell. Deep old sounds emanate from the organ. Ancient words are intoned by a man in a deep voice and a woman invites us to meditate on peace in a time of division. The voices of the choir join together to meld harmonies that have been sung in churches for 350 years.

I exhale deeply and close my eyes. Grateful to find a moment of peace and reflection in a busy season. I feel comfortable in religious spaces. I think I always have. But it’s not very popular to be millennial and be a practicing religious. Only 27% of millennials report attending a weekly religious service.

I get it. Religion has let us down over and…

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By Increments

I find meditation and running very similar.

The first 20 seconds last about 10 minutes, every time you look down time surely having stopped while you weren’t paying attention.

Slowly, you get more adjusted, if you keep with it. Eventually 5 minutes of meditation may come to feel like 2.

(I wouldn’t know about running. I’m currently only netting 5 minutes over the course of an hour.)

Funny enough, it seems like those first 20 seconds are as long as ever when you first come back.

I think this is actually the way a lot of fresh changes work.

When you first sit down to a sewing machine, getting it threaded feels like it takes an hour, when it’s only a few minutes. When you first quit sugar, you think about cookies and candy every few seconds instead of a few times a day.

That’s why I run programs that start off in baby steps.

When Recovery Mode launches next week, the first two days will be really short. To those who aren’t used to taking that time out to only take care of themselves, it will seem like an AGE of not being productive, or watching their show, or getting back to their mother about holiday plans.

And getting past that initial drag of inertia isn’t easy, even if it’s only a few seconds.

That’s what you have me for.

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Check out the sweet package included in Recovery Mode! You still have time to get in on time to take care of yourself in 5 minute increments for the first 3 weeks of December.

Recovery Mode

Are you a subscriber? If you sign up, I’ll send you a sweet discount code for 20% off Recovery Mode and other future programs!

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Complicated Gratefulness

Things are not simply “grateful” or “blessed!”
Sometimes we are blessed in areas where we haven’t got other things we wanted, and we are learning to love lives that we didn’t ask for.

(btw, this is my friend Bethany W., not me! We both like our names.

Becoming Bethany

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I am standing on top of 2,500-year-old temple ruins in southern Mexico and my breath catches in my throat. I look out over the green grass and the rocks and the perfectly blue sky with a smattering of clouds and as happens so often when I see something unspeakably beautiful, I can feel tears welling up in my eyes. The moment is so brief but holy and lyrics of a Gungor song come to mind:

I see it all like a hymn
The constant refrain of the echo and change
And all is beautiful

There is no giving without any taking
There’s no love without any loss
Everything everyone building and breaking
Oh I see the grace of it all
All is beautiful

I did not travel here on some spiritual pilgrimage or even a vacation. I am actually here for work and we took an hour break from panels…

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Expectations, and Surviving them.

The other day, my friend couldn’t order a London Fog to try because the shop was out of Earl Grey.

“What a disappointment!” I heard myself say, with good cheer.

And that was profound.

Because for whatever reason, I grew up feeling like disappointment was THE WORST EMOTION you could possibly have. Or incite in others. Or observe being had.

I mean, some part of this is that I am highly sensitive to other people’s emotions, so. Any negative emotion wasn’t great. But disappointment? THE WORST.

To be avoided at all costs.

This leads to a rather obvious decision: don’t expect anything.

EXPECTATIONS ARE THE GREAT KILLER.

or whatever. I mean, maybe no one died of merely expecting something and not getting it, but why risk it?

We moved across the country when I was 9, and at that point I cottoned onto a concept of deliberately holding no expectations of a new place or environment. When we moved to Japan about 4 years later I was quite determined to not be at all anticipating anything, because it was so outside my realm of experience.

It worked, on one level.

But fast forward to now–and learning about how helpful making a concrete vision for your life is. How necessary it is to acknowledge your emotions.

Even disappointment.

And I also have realized another thing: if you think you don’t have expectations, you are probably fooling yourself. Now, it is possible to not know what to expect of a new place but when you are preparing for it you need some information going in.

Working with your expectations, consciously, means you can also work with your disappointments–consciously.

Not to say that I was wrong to arrive in Japan with a blank slate. There was literally nothing a 13 year old girl could do to prepare for that.

But it’s a survival mechanism I no longer need.

New Blogging Sketch Practice!

For a person who loves blogs and all their facets, I do avoid blogging quite a lot.

I’ve got a new campaign! I’m going to write for about 20 minutes every day, and if I’m not finished with it, I still have to publish it.

YAY SELF-COERSION

The thing is, daily practice is the only way to get better.

I may be doing some vlogs as well.

What’s today’s blog going to be about? Well, that is the question.

I could post about the fantastic time I had at the Sirens conference or how much I’m looking forward to next year.

I could post about the fact that I’m upgrading what I offer my one-on-one coaching clients.

I could tell you all about the amazing steam train that stopped in Claremore yesterday afternoon, or the way the fog was amazing this morning on my walk.

Instead, though I think I’ll wrap this up after a linkbloggity and 10 minutes to give myself an icebreaker and a chance to improve tomorrow.

Till then, nerdlings!

 

~ Bethany, Your Friendly Neighborhood Health Coach

Draw That Demon

I attended and was part of programming ReaderCon last week! One of the panels was titled “Challenging the Coercive Muse”.

During the discussion, there was an interesting breakdown on muses as demons vs. as true inspiration.

Since I don’t really have much of an investment in the muses idea, I hadn’t thought about when the inner critic gets bundled up with it.

Maybe a lot of people consider that a lump deal.

That makes it seem like an internal critical monologue is a necessary part of the creative process (which SEEMS true, I have experienced that).

I no longer think it is. Should you apply critical thinking skills to your artistic process? Absolutely. The emphasis being on “thinking skills”. Because the Inner Critic is just trying to minimize risk, not improve your art.

I’m going to be doing an online workshop on Tuesday called “Quash Your Inner Critic”, about just this!

Here’s a preview video I bust out today:

Quash Your Inner Critic Teaser

Get in on the Facebook Event for reminders: Quash Your Inner Critic Event

or be ready to get on at 7pm Central on Tuesday the 19th at this Marvelous Link

Replays available eventually!

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How do you distinguish your inner demons from your inner genius? Haha. Let me know in the comments!

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A second session of MoJo – a Month of Journalling is coming up! Check it out.

Joy and Disassociation – a disaster story

When I was in Germany doing a bike tour a few years ago, I witnessed one of our group wipe out and get hurt badly.

I didn’t only witness it–I took point and administered first aid.

I should remember how this feels, I thought vaguely, fingers holding warm, bleeding skin, mind in a tunnelled state of purpose.

While this member of the group was ambulance’d off with her husband, the rest of us had hostel reservations at the other end of the day’s ride.

As we pushed through, a fine rain chilling fingers and faces, I felt surges of anger toward my helmet (she hadn’t been wearing one), despair that we were still bicycling, and vivid recall of moments after the accident.

I should remember how this feels, I thought, when I could back up from those surges and laugh at myself.

I knew what I was going through: trauma. (Thus the power of fiction: I recognized the state more from being inside the head of fictional people than from any textbook description.)

And I thought, maybe having an authentic experience will help me write these kinds of things vividly myself.

Also, I am clearly disassociating. Cool.

It was my first time to feel that outside-in perspective on a bad experience that many writers have discovered.

But what amazed me about this experience wasn’t so much my ability to act in an emergency, or the part of me scrutinizing my experience from outside.

It was how happy and hopeful I had been in preparation of the trip–and how happy and hopeful I was even as I rode out the first two days post-trauma.

Because honestly, my emotional baseline used to be so different.

I went into The Artist’s Way arguing with the text about being blocked as a writer (I was still writing!), about being depressed (I wasn’t sad!), but not about the importance of clearing out emotional junk.

When I finally looked back on my depression as something in the past I couldn’t tell you when it had started, or if it had ever stopped.

And I came out the other side of the Artist’s Way’s 12 week course, I had begun shedding a shell of pessimism about my potential for happiness, for healing. I had my work cut out for me, still. But I’d taken a light to that mental attic where core beliefs warped my experiences and ability to handle setbacks.

Part of the journal entry from two days after the accident, which had been the last thing I wrote about:

Sept 14th

Seems forever since I wrote that last entry, and yet jut moments ago I was in that particular hotel, writing it…

Today’s journey started in sunshine on a balcony, meeting–we had döner and wine the night before, up there.

Two more days! Of riding anyway… This is a trip I’m going to be sad is over and think about and wish for, for a while to come, I think.

To be honest, I’m surprised even now by the joy I was able to experience. At the end of the trip I saw our friend again, on the mend, and had a physical “crisis over” reaction that made it clear I’d been holding a lot of tension and worry.

It was another thing that a part of me sat back, observed, and laughed at.


The MoJo workshop is my way to pass on what journaling has given me.

 

When a few months after this incident I decided to study with IIN to become a coach, I knew I’d be taking what I already had learned from The Artist’s Way, Women Who Run With the Wolves, and other resources to be part of what I did.

I would like to invite you to join me.

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