Reclaiming Christianity

I know many of you have been sometimes taken aback by my use of the label Christian in not so endearing ways. I’ve had several conversations and read a few books lately that have reminded me of central message of human imperfection and love that forms the basis of the New Testament. I still believe strongly that true people of faith need to reclaim Christianity from those who have hijacked it for power and political gain, and I renew my faith in that possibility when I read thoughts like this (original source unknown):

“I am a Christian.

Actually, it’s more accurate lately to say that I am still a Christian.

I now say this with much trepidation. I say it with great fatigue. I say it somewhat begrudgingly. I say it with more than a good deal of embarrassment—not of Jesus, but of so many of his people and so much of the Church who claim to speak for him.

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Getting out of a negative rut

If we worry, creating more unease and anxiety, we become stellar worriers since our brain is responding, making it easier for us to worry each time we do it, thus creating our default mode living.

While I’m generally someone who finds silver linings in almost any bad predicament, I know I can get stuck in a negative rut (especially when it comes to our current politics!)

We all need a good rant when people and situations challenge us. The danger lives when these rants become our daily outlook.

The safety in being right

“It is very interesting how the human mind works. We have the need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe. We have millions of questions that need answers because there are so many things that the reasoning mind cannot explain. It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself makes us feel safe. This is why we make assumptions…We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions…We have agreed that it is not safe to ask questions; we have agreed that if people love us, they should know what we want or how we feel. When we believe something, we assume we are right about it to the point that we will destroy relationships in order to defend our position.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Amazing how this cuts across so many different aspects of life.

No room for pride

I recently read Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh cover to cover on a flight from Chicago to Austin. Its basic premise is that clearing the noise from our hearts and minds is the only way to be truly present and find the greatest joy in our lives.

Achieving this presence is also the way to healthier relationships that can be expressed in four mantras:

  1. I am here for you.
  2. I know you are there, and I am very happy.
  3. I know you suffer; that’s why I’m here for you. 
  4. I suffer, please help.

I woke up thinking about the fourth mantra and the author’s words surrounding it.

“Don’t rush into saying this mantra. When you’re ready, go to the other person, breathe in and breathe out deeply, and become yourself 100 percent. Then say the mantra with all your heart. You may not want to do it. You may want to say you don’t need the other person. Your pride has been deeply hurt, after all. But don’t let pride stand between you and the person you love. In true love there is no room for pride.”

The Code

I wrote 12 words on a chalkboard on my bedroom wall. They are the 12 words I see each morning when I open my eyes, before I speak, before I reach for my phone to check in with the world.

THE CODE. These words, imperfectly scribbled by my own hand, are a reflection of not only who I am, but more importantly what I aspire to be. They are my intent. My values. My ground truth. Read More

Renewing myself at Emiquon

March has been a month unlike any other.

My work responsibilities have expanded and new opportunities for professional growth appear daily.

I’m helping guide a group of 10- and 11-year-old boys as they learn what it means to be leaders as Boy Scouts.

I’m doing my best to give my son my undivided attention when we’re together.

I’ve been intentional about being present and investing in those relationships that I hold dear, those close and across the miles.

I’ve even been able to dabble in the world of garden speaking, presenting three workshops to Illinois gardeners whose senses have awoken at the hint of spring.

I’ve never felt more engaged in life, yet I’ve fallen down when it comes to taking a moment to recharge myself in the best way I know how — getting outdoors and allowing Mother Nature to fill me with renewal.

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Finding awesome in the garden

I’m an early riser in general, even on the weekends. It’s just me and my coffee for the first hour or so on most Saturday mornings. Sometimes, I’ll use the time to write and reflect; but more often, I take this unhurried time to learn something new or find inspiration in the stories of others. My favorite place for doing so is TED.com, whose simple tagline is “Ideas Worth Sharing.”

This weekend, I found a TED talk called “The 3 A’s of Awesome” by Neil Pasricha. In 17 minutes, Neil tells the story of how he overcame adversity and disappointment through attitude, awareness and authenticity. Please take a little time to watch the video below, as only he can do his own story justice.

I’ve spent much of this weekend cleaning up the garden I’ve so woefully neglected since August. As I filled yard waste bags and tore out cold-damaged annuals, I had plenty of time to roll the concepts of attitude, authenticity and awareness around in my mind, internalizing and understanding them more clearly with each revolution. I kept asking myself, Why did I give up on the garden this year? Read More

Butterflies and blooms at Chicago Botanic Garden

I have always been fascinated with butterflies. There’s something about their unique morphology and dance-like flight that mesmerizes me. Last month during my visit with Shawna Coronado to Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG), we were excited to get a sneak peak at the new Butterflies and Blooms exhibit that opened on June 2. Butterflies and Blooms joins the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden as the newest attractions at the garden and supports CBG’s continuing effort to educate visitors both young and old.

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