Monday, June 16, 2014

Katie Gets Philosophical

I’ve been on a spiritual journey these last few weeks. I think, at some point, many of us experience a period where we start to question our beliefs, who we are, and why we’re here. And lately that just happens to be where I’m at.

It started with yoga. I know I joke about a broadening of perspective that many people claim when they begin practicing, but in my case it’s true. I started to feel different. And I began to desire a closer relationship with something. Something big and important and imperative to human life and happiness.  (I am Catholic and I’ve always believed in God, but I wanted something beyond religion)

I began by reading The Secret. I’ve read it before, and while I believe in the Law of Attraction and thoughts creating our world, I still felt there was more to it than that. Something deeper.

Then came Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein, which has been on my kindle for a long time and I’ve read before, but never really ‘got’ it. Now, however, the messages were breaking through and this has become pretty much my go-to manual. Everything she has to say rings true for me,-- but while I felt and agreed with all of this on an intellectual level, the desire to feel it on a skin deep level remained.

Then our yoga book club started reading The Four Agreements. Even though this book didn’t have the same effect on me as Positive Magic, there was one thought, one idea that stuck with me and for which I’m so grateful. And it happened. I finally began to ‘feel’ what I’d been looking for.

This is going to sound trippy. Don’t be frightened. I’m still wearing shoes and haven’t purchased any white robes yet. No plane tickets for any deserts.

But the basic idea is--there is something inside me. A force, an energy. The universe is made up of it- like one, huge, perfect diamond. And each of us are shards of this diamond, smaller but equally perfect and equally priceless. And this piece of me, at my core- it is also in each of you. We are made of the same thing. When you can look at others and see that part of yourself staring and reflecting back, recognize the sameness in every living thing, and acknowledge it, well, you can’t help but love it as you love yourself. Because that is the force, the energy, or at least what we call it down here. It’s love.

Many people have said it in different words and different ways but only now have I really ‘felt’ it.

I think this force is positive and that is why we are constantly striving to be happy and joyful and grateful and see this life as a pursuit of happiness--, because those emotions are more closely aligned with where we came from.

But between positive and negative polarities, everything hangs in the balance. All life.

Without one or the other, there would be nothing. Therefore, we need the negative. The key is learning to appreciate it and be thankful it is there, helping hold everything in place, without letting it take hold of us, our thoughts or our lives. It is possible.

Whew! *sigh*

I think it’s time for some coffee.

Any of you ever had a spiritual awakening that threw you on your ass?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fight for your Right to Party

Like the United States, France adheres to a strict separation of church and state.

Except, not really.

For instance, today is a national holiday. Why? Because it’s Pentecost weekend. And last week there was no school on Thursday… because it was the Ascension. The Monday after Easter is always a national holiday as well. 

If you ask a French person why these are national holidays, when technically, Catholic (not necessarily cultural) holidays aren’t supposed to be sited or celebrated by a government when there’s a true division of church and state, they just shrug. Doesn’t seem to matter much to them, as long as they get their long weekend. To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me, either. I figure, at least, the government is honest about the true nature of their holidays, and don’t try to cover it up by calling it something else or putting emphasis on a non-religious reason for the day off…

Minor Catholic/Pagan holidays are also celebrated in lesser degrees that aren’t official national holidays but are widely-known cultural traditions. Like the cutting of the ‘King’s Cake’ containing hidden figurines on the day of the Epiphany. The exchanging of ‘lily of the valley’ flowers on May 1st. Or the Chandeleur when everyone makes and eats crepes. Then there’s Mardi Gras, of course,- a time to pig out or go drinking to get all your vices out before the beginning of Lent. Some of these are internationally celebrated holidays. Others are only celebrated in France or French provinces.

In deeper, more rural parts of France, there are carnivals and festivals and traditions that date back to before Catholicism even arrived. Bon fires, the throwing of fiery disks, lanterns, parades and masquerades, etc…rituals that managed to remain intact despite the passage of time. How do I know this? The national news covers them regularly, during their afternoon broadcasts dedicated to cultural heritage. And I have to say, it’s interesting stuff!

So, as bummed as I was yesterday, when I realized the kids had yet another day off school this week, I have to say I’m grateful to live in such a culturally and historically rich nation.

What are some of your favorite low-key holidays? I noticed an increasing excitement about May 5th in the U.S. these last few years, even though I don’t remember celebrating cinco de mayo when I was younger because... we’re not Mexican, but what the heck… Sometimes any reasons a good reason to party:)


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