Tag Archives: Religion

The Mess We’re Making

I shake my head a lot at current events. There are things happening in this world that don’t make sense to me. Many of these happenings I can’t and won’t ever understand. Yet, they still make me wonder and cause me angst.

I’m sure the world has experienced this before. However, in my almost 30 years of existence, this is my first, front row seat to it. The world I see is very black or white, both figuratively and literally. Whether it be race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation and list continues, we don’t want to listen to each other, let alone respect each other.

It all seems very one-sided: I’m right because I’m _________. You’re wrong because you’re _________. When people hear someone identify as ______, they make a world of assumptions. A personal example: I am Catholic, I go to Mass on Sundays, don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent and pray often. I’ve experienced sharing this and others making an almost immediate assumption that I believe a whole swirl of ideas that I don’t personally agree with. Before I can even share this, I was dismissed. This person doesn’t know a thing about me, my faith or what I believe and don’t believe.

Now multiply that by the 327 million Americans walking around like this. No wonder we have these types of problems on our hands. We all do it, it’s part of our wiring as humans. The trick is to cultivate an awareness around what you’re doing, which ultimately means slowing down to participate in dialogue. When was the last time you have a constructive (not necessary positive) conversation with someone whose identity is different (and maybe you don’t agree with it) than yours? Make that your mission over this holiday weekend.

I’m surrounded by extraordinary individuals, whose experiences are much different than mine. I personally feel like that counts for something and still feel like there are more perspectives out there for me to learn about (there always will be). I also know that if I didn’t take the time to get to know these life-changing humans, I would have dismissed them because we’re more different than alike or because they once said something that I didn’t agree with. I’m shaking my own head as I type.

These issues are complex and deep rooted. I’m not suggesting that

  1. I understand all of the dimensions to these challenges
  2. I’m an expert – just a woman sharing her perspective
  3. I’ve gotten it right – believe me, writing this was a serious reflection about times when I got this so, so wrong. Can’t get stuck there.
  4. talking to each out and listening more will fix everything. But to quote Michelle Obama, “it’s hard to hate up close.”

I don’t have a nice, neat, bulleted list on what to do next. Stay curious – ask questions, start conversations and be open/responsive when people engage with you. Try new things because you’ll likely meet people who aren’t like you. If you want to see a change in this world, start by looking within and then accept that for change to occur, you’ll need to be uncomfortable.

Find Your Church

You know the phrase: Don’t talk about religion or politics are the dinner table. Well, I enjoy challenging rules and this technically isn’t 1) a dinner table or 2) a post solely about religion.

I’m sure most of us have experienced how the word religion and the word church can be triggers for people. I know when I say I’m Catholic and attend Mass regularly, I get a range of interesting reactions. Shock, amazement, admiration and disgust are a few I’ve seen on people’s faces recently. It’s a personal topic for sure, but if we don’t talk to each other about it, how will we really know what we each believe? I’d argue that organized religion is one form of church.

In the last three years or so, I’ve reconnected with my Catholic faith. The catalyst for this was my sister’s Confirmation as I was her sponsor. I’m grateful that opportunity arose so I could examine my belief system. Yes, I go to church most Sundays, I don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent and I get ashes on Ash Wednesday. Does it mean I believe everything the Catholic Church preaches? Nope, not one bit.

One size does not fit all when it comes to church. I got to Mass on Sundays as a form of meditation and to express gratitude for the beautiful life I’ve been given. It’s not the only form of church I participate in. Listening to Jen Hatmaker earlier in the Fall and similarly, listening to Michelle Obama last night, I felt connected to something bigger than myself. That, to me, is going to church. It’s about connecting to a higher power and having your faith restored in some capacity.

Becoming

Faith, hope, love and peace are somewhat abstract concepts. Yet, when I go to church, whichever kind it is, I can feel and even embody those words. I am repented, I am renewed and I am ready. It’s a part of my spiritual well-being that must be replenished so I can show up each day at 100%. It also helps to build my resilience muscle so when things do go wrong, I have a place where I can draw strength from. It’s powerful and necessary in my life.

No one should tell you what or who to believe in. AND there is something powerful and almost magically about faith. It gets you through the toughest situations and brings peace. Faith, much like church, can be found anywhere within anyone at anytime. You just need to be paying attention and open to receiving it as a gift.

Regardless of how you were raised, I encourage you to pause and reflect on your spiritual well-being. How do you renew in that space? What does going to church look like to you? It only matters what you think and where you find faith, hope, love and peace. Remember, there’s no right answer and it can be a combination of places, people or things.

Book Review: Normal Gets You Nowhere

Note: This post contains explicit language

While on vacation, I read Kelly Cutrone‘s Normal Gets You Nowhere. This is her second book after the wildly popular If You Have to Cry, Go Outside. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, so I’m glad the opportunity presented itself on vacation. I was not disappointed; I couldn’t put the book down and finished before the cruise was over.

Normal Gets You NowhereCutrone’s straightforward attitude shined in this book, as she offers insights on topics including religion, empowering young girls and death. She holds nothing back and provides a fresh perspective on ideas that aren’t frequently challenged. Below are my favorite de-normalizing thoughts from Cutrone with my opinion mixed in.

  • Cutrone starts by telling everyone to figure out how they are sacred, magical and special. This is an individual truth that all must nurture and develop. In her words, “I want you to fuck the Earth with your energy.” We are each responsible for the energy we put out to the universe so we might as well put positive energy out there.
  • Next, she discussed the media and how society is overstimulated with ridiculous distractions. We should be challenging what is fed to us via the media, whether it be through traditional, digital or social channels. People are programmed to not dig deeper; we should ignore that programming and push the envelope.
  • In speaking about empowering young women, Cutrone talks about sexual repression and how we teach young girls to be coy but not how to be honest. Amen! All women should be comfortable talking about sex and empowered to say what they feel versus doing the norm.
  • I LOVED the chapter about holidays: Why celebrate and spend money on days you don’t believe in? Tailor holidays to your personal belief system and only back ideas you firmly believe in.
  • She describes life as a bank account: random acts of kindness and telling truths are the deposits. Kelly CutroneBeing stupid and messing with others are withdrawals. If we give more than we take, we progress. I couldn’t agree more with this concept. It ties back to the energy we put out there – the more good we put out, the more good we shall receive.
  • Your “no matter what” club: The people who you would do anything for, not because they’d do it for but because you want to; because your life would not be the same without them. Sometimes, these people disappoint you and don’t progress as quickly as you do. That is not a reason to discard them. Do not let your ambition get in the way of this group of people.
  • Lastly, Cutrone approaches the topic of death with clarity and vulnerability, speaking about her grandparents’ and father’s passings. As someone who is still grieving, this chapter was hard but necessary to get through. You should plan your death, who’s there and how you want your life to be celebrated. That’s the key – death should be a celebration of someone’s life.

I could write another 500 words about Normal Gets You Nowhere and all of the examples Cutrone provides about why being normal isn’t the best way to live. To that end, I want to thank Kelly Cutrone for putting it out there and challenging the stereotypes. I also want to thank all of the women in my life: my mom, grandmothers, girlfriends and colleagues, who have embraced being different and have lived their lives on their terms versus others.

I highly recommend Normal Gets You Nowhere – you’ll feel inspired to think and live in a more authentic way. If you have read the book, please share your opinions in the comments section!

Family Fridays: Opposing Views

The older I get, the more distinct my views become on certain topics. These views changed over time and can be influenced by the life phase I am currently in: young adult just starting her career with a significant other or children. I’ve also noticed that my views, at times, conflict with what my family believes or has taught me. The next three Truth Challenge prompts address some of these views:
Marriage-Equality-Words
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Marriage is a commitment between two people in love, regardless of their gender, race or anything else.  No one has the right to dictate who you should love, marry or spend the rest of your life with. I have met plenty of gay couples who support one another, have completely healthy relationships and are raising children better than some heterosexual couples. I firmly believe in marriage equality for all.

Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Have you heard of the phrase, “Religion and politics are the two things never to discuss at the dinner table?” Well, my family has broken that rule multiple times. Religion and politics are two very personal, sensitive topics. Again, no one has the right to judge your personal choice like how you practice your religion or who you vote for. I was raised Roman Catholic but have an issue with the man-made rules of the church, like annulments. However, I do believe in God, who has blessed me with all of the amazing things and people in my life. Because of this, I try to go to church as much as possible to say thank you.

My interest in politics has grown immensely over the last couple of years. I think this is partly becausevote I’ve been able to vote during the elections. I enjoy watching the debates, hearing the proposed plans of candidates and educating myself on our nation’s issues. My biggest issue with people and politics is that people will vote just based on opinions or appearances rather than facts. Please educate yourself before voting!


Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
My views on drugs and alcohol has changed drastically in the last year since my family has been personally affected by addiction. I try not to judge people because addiction is a sickness that requires medical help just like any other disease. I do have a hard time with people who don’t take accountability for their sickness and do not fully grasp how their actions affect other people. That being said, it is your body so do with it what you’d like. Since alcohol is a legal substance once you are 21, I am all for enjoying a cocktail every now and then. Everything in moderation!
One challenge of growing up and forming my own opinions is that my family members don’t always agree with me. Some can still have intelligent conversations even though our views are different. Others are so militant and stubborn that it becomes a streaming match when any of the above are discussed. In the end, everyone, including family, needs to respect one another’s differing viewpoints.
How do you handle opposing viewpoints with your family? Is it a challenge?

Motivation Mondays: Being Blessed

My apologies for being M.I.A for over a week AND for posting a little too late tonight. I was in California for work this week, so in my head, it’s only around 8pm. Much like the first time I worked this event, I came home with more insight about myself, how I work and who I work well with. I also built new relationships, some I’d even consider friendships with amazingly talented individuals. While I have a list of blog post ideas generated from my week away, today’s post is probably the most important lesson I learned in California.20130428-130305.jpg

One of the many amazing views in California

When I hear the word blessed, I immediately think religion. The priest blessed you, Jesus gave his blessing to the disciples, you get the picture. After a week of reflection on the current condition of my life, I felt overwhelming blessed. I have an amazing job with allows me to travel and work with the best of the best. My family is usually super supportive and I have the best friends anyone could ask for. I am truly blessed.

I could use the words fortunate or lucky but to me, those are feelings. Blessed is a state of being. Blessed is a mindset, a way to think about all the wonderful pieces that are part of your journey. As I headed out this morning to an overcrowded train on a rainy Monday, I tried very (and I mean very) hard to bring back the blessed state of mind I was in while away. At least I have a job to commute to.

I am not saying don’t complain. Everyone needs to vent; it is part of our human nature and is healthy. But, try to remember how blessed you are for the life you have. Even on the worst days, there is something to be thankful for. I know I am going to try harder to be humble and remember how blessed I am. I hope you will too and please keep me in check!

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