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The Art of Non-Conformity

30 Dec

I’m really blown away by Chris Guillebeau’s book and website called “The Art of Non-Comformity.” This guy is all about living on your own terms and not being sucked into the way society feels you should be living your life. This makes me want to shut down my computer for a few hours and take a walk in nature or make five dozen cookies, wrap them up and drive downtown and give them away. We need to enjoy life, people. Just take matters into your own hands. You can do it.

Dear, Anne Rice

13 Aug

Dear Anne,

Thank you for being a voice of reason. I’m with you. As far as being Catholic, I’m out too. To be clear, my decision was a long time coming. I’ve been in and out of the church so often and for so many years, I was never quite certain what my place was or where my faith was hiding. I was looking for it like a lottery ticket or a valuable heirloom earring. But the reality is that I can not be a part of it any more. I was mystified, confused and downright pissed off about so many things the Catholic Church was involved in and “up to.” I would listen to Catholic radio and be inspired and enchanted by the mesmerizing reciting of the rosary. I would nod my head in agreement when a priest talked about the evils of war. I would feel in my right mind when I listened to the saving grace that prayer provided to someone who was ready to end it all. I would think fondly, even romantically about the gorgeous cathedrals in Venice and how I openly wept in that church of St. Francis in Assisi when I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit push through me like life-giving air. I recall a moment of grace in a cathedral in San Miguel surrounded by old women on their knees with the sweetest smiles on their sunworn faces. I recall the intimate conversations with the Virgin Mary after my mother passed away. I would find a church in every city I visited just to light a candle for her. I recall the overwhelming moment of joy when my son, only four months old, was raised high above the head of an Irish priest after the moment of his baptism. I recall the smell of burning votives and incense and the taste of the Eucharist. I remember lying flat before a hanging crucifix and Jesus in an empty church pleading with him to help me understand myself and what my purpose here on earth really is. I was twelve. I did again when I was 18. Again when I was 26. I would watch “A Nun’s Story” and “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” over and over fantasizing of a life devoted to God and prayer, but knowing in my heart that writing was my truer calling.

My home is full of crosses, sacred hearts and pictures of Mary and little statues of my mother’s favorite saints. When John Paul II died, I cried for days recalling a moment during midnight mass on Dec. 31, 1998 when our eyes met briefly as he slowly walked to the magnificent altar in St. Peter’s Cathedral. I felt changed and came to the church after a long departure. And in the last three years, I have learned more about the presence of angels and the divine guidance and intervention of the heavens than I ever dreamed possible. There are so many things to love about the mystery, magic, artistry and ancient wisdoms of the Catholic Church. And knowing that I could be in Dublin, Rome, Mexico City or Boston and have access to my dearest spiritual tools by just rounding a street corner was extremely comforting to me for many years.But it’s not enough. Not even close.

I think Christ is real. But what the Catholic Church is doing now is destructive. I have not self-identified as a Christian for some time, and I was never quite sure why. But it has become clear that they are not delivering news from God. They are firmly implanted in the world of man under the guise of spirit. And to me, that is wrong. Perhaps that’s why I have felt so disconnected. I went to church to hear God. But all I kept hearing was man’s feeble interpretation with an ever-increasing emphasis on politics. The bottom line is that I can not be a part of a religion that treats women, gays and lesbians with such unapologetic disdain and cruelty. I do not believe anyone, in good conscience, can participate in a religion that systematically denounces condoms in Africa. It’s ridiculous . I can not condone a religion that puts saving face over the safety and gentle care of children. I can not be a member of a church who indoctrinates its most devoted messengers — priests and nuns who have holy callings— and tells the spiritually dedicated that sex, marriage and children are obstacles to living a spiritually awakened existence.

I wish I could tell you how difficult my spiritual journey has been. But in all honesty, I must admit that being Catholic at least gave me an awareness and a language for understanding the universe and cosmic laws in a way that was rich and beautiful and memorable. I believe in God with my whole heart. I believe in powerful human messengers that have delivered some of these universal truths designed, essentially, to save us from ourselves. I believe in divinely-inspired music that can lift my soul out of my chest and helps me to meet the angels halfway. I believe in sincere contemplation, stillness, meditation and prayer. I believe that humans sometimes need artifacts and rituals and a common history to absorb and understand spiritual truths. But I believe, above all, that love is the answer to everything. So, Anne, I feel your pain. I understand your confusion and how pissed off you’ve been. I get it. I just want you to know that you can take the girl out of the cathedral, but you can’t take God out of the girl.

Take care and God Bless.

Love,

Jennifer

The Gift of Clarity… from Big Sister

2 Jul

Christine Mason Miller

My birthday was last month and my big sister Marisa couldn’t get up here to celebrate. She was busy getting ready for a business trip and preparing for a big trip to Puerto Rico with her family. I miss her sometimes, but I’m glad that I have an amazing group of  “sisters” that I meet with once a week to talk about matters of the heart and soul.

This week we talked about the power of meditation and prayer, as well as the definition of happiness. Is happiness the same thing as joy, gratitude, authenticity? We wrote about it a bit and there was a magical consensus of sorts. Happiness is about a return to your true self, and the power of that self exists in each moment. Wherever you are.

So yesterday my father delivered a present from my sister. It’s an art collage with writing created by Christine Mason Miller. It reads:

“The deepest joy exists in those rare instances of CLARITY when there is no wanting, no yearning, no clinging to some idealized life we believe exists somewhere other than exactly where we are.”

I love it when themes emerge. Don’t you?

Soul Lab Radio: Scott Blum, Daily OM founder and author of “Waiting for Autumn”

25 Jun

ScottBlumSometimes when I do a radio interview, thirty minutes seems like just the right amount of time to get to the bottom of something. Today was not one of those days. I wish my interview with Scott Blum about his new novel Waiting for Autumn could have gone on for another hour. But alas, even in thirty minutes, I managed to learn a thing or two. Specifically, we got to the heart of why intuition should be relied upon for life’s big decisions, instead of intellect. We also dicussed the dynamics of shamanic soul retrieval and what inspired him to write this novel in the first place.

Scott is the co-founder of DailyOM– one of the premiere on-line destinations for non-denominational inspirational content, products and courses from some of today’s best-selling authors and luminaries. But before that, Scott was a pioneer in the interactive Internet entertainment industry where he was one of the first American Nintendo programmers and eventually entered the music business producing Peter Gabriel’s critically acclaimed “Eve” CD-ROM. He then founded and was president of iMusic in 1995 and has worked with bands including Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt, and Ben Harper.

In 2004 Scott and his wife Madisyn Taylor founded DailyOM (www.dailyom.com) after wanting to merge their personal interests in spirituality with their professional lives.

In “Waiting for Autumn” we follow the inquisitive main character, Scott, as he finds himself in a parking lot in Ashland, OR where he meets a cardboard sign-toting homeless man named Robert— who would soon become Scott’s spiritual navigator and guide. In the tradition of novels like The Alchemist and The Celestine Prophecy, “Waiting for Autumn” is about a man embarking on a spiritual awakening and attempting to heal his past by confronting the spirit of his dead fiancée, learning the power of nature, exploring the spirit plane, and discovering the power of universal laws.

Download the first three chapters for free…

Supercool Blogs That You Should Read

19 Jun

People have been asking me lately which blogs I really love to read. I know I need to mention these guys more, but here you have it. Here is a list of blogs and other stuff I dig– similar content to Soul Lab, but also very unique indeed.

Idol Chatter on Beliefnet.com combines the latest pop culture news with sort of a spiritual spin on TJI_REV-RUNthings. Yes, it totally makes sense. Recent posts have talked about stupid antics that Christians on reality shows have been caught doing (yeah, we’re talking about you Speidi); The Jon & Kate Plus 8 dilemma asking readers to share heartfelt advice– remember this is Beliefnet, not E! News; and an enlightening post on the 10 most inspiring celebrities using Twitter in positive ways… from Rev Run to Paulo Coehlo.

On YogaJournal.com, there are a couple of areas to check out. First, let me just say that I absolutely do not do Yoga (I’ve tried– Lord I’ve tried), but I probably will some day again and I really like the idea of it. So, what the hell, I get into Yoga Journal when I can. Check out the Yoga Buzz blog and you’ll find posts about Janice Dickinson trying to find natural laxatives in the jungle on an episode of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” Then there’s the hysterical web series, “Ogden: The Inappropriate Yoga Guy.” Check it out:

rainn-wilson-the-rocker1Spearheaded by Rainn Wilson, Soul Pancake is an uniquely cool site where life’s big questions are just put right out there for spiritually-minded hipsters (or seeksters as I prefer calling them) to dicsuss. There is a great emphasis on the relationship between spirituality and creativity which I appreciate. A recent post asks the question, “Is fear learned or inherent?” accompanied by a video of Spike Jonze trying to freak out his son by wearing a prop head from his latest movie, Where the Wild Things Are (coming out in October). I have to say that the quality of the comments in response to some of these questions is refreshingly thoughtful on the most part. In another post, the question is posed, “Are you a social chameleon” trying to understand the concept of putting on various personas to meet the expectations of variety of audiences in one’s life (I talk about this in another earlier post). They showed this cool video with that question:

Soul Lab Radio: Interview with “The God Theory” author Bernard Haisch, PhD

18 Jun

bernardhaischI spoke with Bernard Haisch, Ph.D. this morning on Soul Lab Radio regarding his latest book, The God Theory. Haisch is an astrophysicist, author of over 130 scientific publications, and was a scientific editor of the Astrophysical Journal for ten years. His professional positions include staff scientist at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, deputy director of the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, and visitingGod Theory scientist at the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestial Physics in Garching, Germany. He was also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Prior to his career in astrophysics, Haisch attended the Latin School of Indianapolis and the St. Meinrad Seminary as a student for the Catholic priesthood.

He writes: “I offer a genuine insight into how you can, and should, be a rational, science-believing human being and at the same time know that you are also an immortal spiritual being, a spark of God. I propose a worldview that offers a way out of the hate and fear-driven violence engulfing the planet.”

Well-being Q&A: Liz Mitten Ryan

2 Jun

www.lizmittenryan.comLiz Mitten Ryan talks to the animals. But not in a Dr. Dolittle sort of way. The animals she communicates with have messages about their experiences and ways of being that are meant to transform the way we see ourselves and the lives we lead. To Liz, they are messengers, friends, and unique individuals.

Liz’ first book One With the Herd won five Independent Publishing awards at Book Expo America in 2008. She is also the author of Truth According to Horses, Life Unbridled and Sabbatical.

She has enjoyed an illustrious art career and worked with conservation groups throughout the world raising awareness and money for animals in need. At her ranch in British Columbia, a small group of visitors are allowed to participate in workshops each year which illuminate the interconnectedness of the environment, the animals and the people who live there. Mitten writes, “It is in nature that I find life’s answers. It is there, that one can interface with the wisdom and truth behind all creation; a vast ocean of information that nourishes all who bathe in it.”

JHR: How did you first begin communicating with animals and why?

LMR: I was a bit dazed and confused and half way through writing One With the Herd I began to realize it was all about the animals and their message. I then began to ask them questions about their involvement and message.

JHR: For many years you’ve committed to lead a life without the influence of modern culture in order to connect more deeply with the environment and the animals who share it with you. How has this decision transformed your life?

LMR: Magically! I have come to understand that when we leave the confines of Human Mass Mind Consciousness and the mind shaping mass media we begin to resonate with the All as my animals describe God and connect and communicate with a higher perspective that is the one consciousness in all life.

JHR: In your book One with the Herd you write: “I now send and receive messages telepathically,and I’m beginning to know a whole new reality through the eyes of my herd.” Can you describe what this process is like for you and what sorts of messages come through from the animals who live there?

LMR: The new reality that I now live in is one of wholeness, oneness, allness and interconnection with all life. My animals are in a sense like contemplatives whose path and message is about higher consciousness and one consciousness, no matter what our physical form. Animals are no different than people and share the same diverse interests from sports to mysticism -my animals are mystics.

JHR: What can we learn from animals on a spiritual level?

LMR: I believe animals have some important things to teach us. First of all to be in our truth -you will never find an animal in a lie -they are always absolutely honest. Secondly to listen to our intuition. Animals always listen to their instinct, which is the same as intuition for humans. How many times do we get important nudges and then refuse to listen to our detriment.

JHR: How similar or different are humans and animals?

LMR: We are all one consciousness in myriad form in matter. In that way we all are made of the same substance and have the same possibility to allow that substance to flow through us and contribute individual gifts through our unique attributes. We are different in that humans have drifted off to their own special island, apart from and disconnected from the rest of life. Animals are one with that life.

JHR: You conduct retreats at Gateway 2 Ranch to help people experience a new way of being with animals and themselves. What can visitors expect when they visit the ranch for a week-long workshop?

LizMittenRyanLMR: The life changing workshops on Gateway 2 Ranch are designed to be just that. An experience of connection and oneness like you have never experienced before. The energy and vibration here in the land and the animals will tune and elevate individuals to a place where they will resonate once again as higher spiritual beings -co-creators with the ALL. When we reach that level of connection all is given and we remember who we are, our path and our place in the cosmos.

JHR: What books have influenced your work and life that you would like to share with readers?

LMR: I absorb books -anything spiritual, about animal communication, horses, quantum theory. One for everybody that will change lives and help people discover their true path is Your Heart’s Desire by Sonia Choquette. The others are on my site, co-authored by my animals at LizMittenRyan.com. If you click on the orange titles you can read most of their message. Together the four books have won eight independent publishing awards and are guaranteed to change your understanding of life forever!

Soul Lab Radio: Interview with life coach and author Gail McMeekin

12 May

12 Secrets of Highly Creative WomenDo you want to know more about the power of creativity and how to overcome obstacles like fear, negative self-talk and stress? Listen to my recent interview with author and life coach Gail McMeekin!

Gail McMeekin is a national career and creativity coach as well as a licensed psychotherapist and writer located in Boston. She has over 25 years of experience helping people vision and achieve their personal, professional, and creative goals. She is the author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor which sold out its first printing in 8 weeks and a new book The Power of Positive Choices. Her company, Creative Success works with individuals and groups to maximize creative self-expression and positive living. I’ll be talking to Gail about developing and nurturing creativity, and achieving your personal best.

Soul Lab Radio: Interview with author John Randolph Price

7 May
abundance-book1Listen to my latest interview on Soul Lab Radio with John Randolph Price. He is an internationally known lecturer and bestselling author of 18 non-fiction books which have sold in the millions. He is a graduate of the University of Houston with a degree in Radio and Television, and later became executive vice president of a Chicago advertising agency and president of a Houston-based agency serving Fortune 500 companies. In 1981, he left the agency business to form, with his wife, Jan, The Quartus Foundation for Spiritual Research, an international non-profit organization. That same year he wrote his first book, The Superbeings. His other titles include Angel Energy, Living a Life of Joy and others published by Ballantine/Random House. Published by Hay House are The Abundance Book, The Alchemist’s Handbook, The Jesus Code, The Meditation Book, Practical Spirituality, The Workbook for Self-Mastery and more. Join me as I ask John about living with an abundance and no limits mindset.

Good Vibes: Free Online Inspiration

27 Apr

yogi

My colleague Pamela Theresa Loertscher Ph.D. showed me where I can read a free online copy of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda at Ananda.org. They have a nice section there where you can read a variety of inspirational books free of charge online. Check it out!

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