Shamans, gambling and throwing bad energy

Last winter, I’m on the massage therapists’ table, and the big, bespectacled man says, “I’m feeling something like grief…right here,” as he touches a part of my foot. He traces “a line of grief” he says, and asks me if something has happeShaman picned but quickly says I don’t have to tell him anything, only noting “that it’s rising to the surface, so that indicates it’s been in the last few months and you have been suppressing it.” Shocker. Not me.

At that point in my life, I’d only had one item of grief to note, and it was my dog dying (cue sad country song as you dig deep and try to empathize). For those without dogs or children, think about it as the closest living being that you have spent more time with than anyone save yourself, and if you like yourself even a little, you might get the picture. In any case, I feel rather stupid, but I tell him my dog. This begat silence as he worked my body “Through the pain,” as he called it, which meant that I was emitting physical and emotional pain for the rest of the session. It hurt. It was exhausting, but I felt like a million bucks when I left.

As a part of this experience, I asked how he knew, because this wasn’t the normal massage-therapist “I felt something in the muscles,” experience. “I’m an energy worker,” he answered. My response was more than an understanding. I immediately guessed he’d been working with Shamans, or those that in the US, are typically of Native American descent, but can be from anywhere in the world or any race etc. Over the course of his life, he’d trained himself to be more receptive to the energy forces around him. He revealed he could tell something was up the moment I entered the room (by something is up, he meant that he knew I ‘was bottling negative energy and a lot of pain).

Fast forward a few months, I have a conversation with Susan, a woman of Native American descent who is in fact, a Shaman. From her early years, she could see and speak to spirits on the other side (they don’t call them spirits, they are called ‘ancestors,’ for they came before her, not those who are yet to come). We got to talking about my latest book and I was asking her if some individuals who are gifted in the area of energy use their talents for evil.

“All the time, unfortunately,” she answered, catching me by surprise. She then told me of a man who, like she, was born with natural gifts. Apparently it is rare that a male can retain these gifts as they age, because ego and passion get in the way- and when it does, the energy talents are used for self-benefit. Me being me, I ask- “Like what can/did he do?” She told me that as a youth, he would throw bad energy on his classmates to ensure they failed a test and he got better scores (by this time, apparently the elders were onto him and had to watch his every move). He would take a bet and then throw energy on two guys who were friends but suddenly get into a fight and he could win a bet. This graduated into full on stealing (a passerby would grab a woman’s handbag out of the blue and then drop it a block later), and this guy would pick it up. She kept detailing a life of progressive crime that eventually landed him in jail, and I was fascinated and appalled.

“How can anyone protect themselves?” I wondered. She basically said that a person has to have a strong internal core: immovable values and a pure mind, not one that is easily swayed by outside influences, and generally good.

“If a person has a persuasion to live life on the line, or can be moved to tell a white lie now and then, or realize that an item at the store wasn’t paid for and they don’t go back, that alone is the crack in the exterior. It makes then vulnerable.”

I’ve since used this general theme in my latest book (the time/travel action adventure series), but I think about it often. “Just a crack” is all it takes, but doesn’t that apply to so many things. Give me a bite of chocolate and I want the whole candy bar. Give me a kiss and I’ll take the whole body. So many temptations, so much discipline required.

Outside the Faith: the doubled edged compliment & criticism

BJ was over today, a surprise event, given that the married father of two, engineer by day and hobbiest-inventor by night, just showed up with his long-bed truck about thirty minutes after Rog left to go skiing.

“What are you doing?” I ask him, noticing the top of his truck is up and his lawnmower is sticking half-way out the back.

“I’m going to mow your lawn and cut down the blackberry bushes while Rog is gone,” he said, already unloading the push-mower. I try to stop him, hobbling toward him as fast as my crutches will allow, telling him he won’t.

“What are you going to do?” he laughs, continuing about his business. “Stop me?” He’s smiling broadly, the face-wide grin on his square face, atop his squat, muscle-bound body that attests to his state championship title when he was in high school, when I first met him. I’ve watched him evolve from young man to father, our relationship maturing along the way, from a boy that wouldn’t look me to one who barely acknowledged my presence and now today, both adults. It is in this state that the still uses a respectful tone with me, but now its sassier, more like a brother than an associate.

“Beside, I like Rog, even though he’s outside the faith.” Before his last comment registered, I responded that I liked him too, which is helpful, and then as I stood watching, the gravity of his phrase hit.

Outside the Faith. How interesting. How many women (or men) are married to a person ‘not of the faith’ and are looked upon as different. In this case, BJ, who has know Rog as long as I’ve known him, looks at Rog almost as a mini-idol. I’ve gathered this over the years from the things he’s said, his aspirations: “I’d really like to show Rog my truck. Is he around?” to “I invented this wake board that is jet propelled and can lift you ten feet off the ground. I want Rog’s opinion” and so on.

I’m off pondering how many Jewish, Baptist, or whatever people “of faith” of had family, friends or acquaintances say something like this, because it’s such a double-edge sword, sort of like “she’s not bad, for a red-headed dwarf” or something strange. Thanks, I think.

“You know, he’s a better father and family guy than most of the men who come to church,” BJ tells me, getting ready to pull the cord on the lawn mower.

“He’s a pretty good guy,” I agree, then add, “and I’ve had a few people in the church say that to me as well.” What else am I supposed to say? This is why Rog doesn’t bother go to church- because he thinks half the men in my church are hypocrites, who espouse family but then spend more time doing their own things. Nope. I keep my mouth shut, take the compliment, and tell BJ that I’d still like to pay him something for just showing up.

“You can go back inside now,” he politely suggests, his mind made up, completely ignoring my request. I found it ironic. That’s exactly what Rog would say to me. Maybe he is of the faith after all.

The secret to living longer: Leaving the past behind

Do you ever meet a person that tilts your world? By that, I mean that what’s said stays around, seeping in layer after layer?

Two days ago I had the opportunity to interview a master yogi I’ll call Roberto. His actual title could be that of doctor, former police officer, father, husband and motivational speaker, because he is all of those things. He’s also one of the most successful network marketing professionals in the US. I won’t tell you his name though, because he’s going to be profiled in the current business book I’m writing on the subject of people who succeed and why.

The yogi told me this: “The majority of doctors agree that most medical issues are stress related. The media has it wrong. It’s not diabetes or cancer or heart failure that causes death, it’s stress. Those are simply manifestations of the cause.”

His words of wisdom that have been on my mind for the week?

Did you know that yoga practitioners
teach that hair is an extension of
wisdom, and that’s why a lot of men
don’t shave/cut their hair & why the women
have longer hair? I just learned this after 20
years of doing yoga!

“You can’t change yesterday and you can’t control the future. Live in the present.” Translation: do the best can on what you can, appreciate the little things (you woke up, the sun was shining, or if it’s grey and raining, that it’s raining because moisture is good).

Roberto then told me about leading a group of millionaire/billionaire hedge fund managers through a session on meditation. He’d been called in because the CEO of the group was worried about the suicide rate (can you imagine being the boss of a firm that has those kind of personnel issues? It’s not like we’re talking grumpiness about uniforms).

“Half-way through, I have several 35-ish type guys break down sobbing,” Robert tells me. The men are suddenly “aware” to the fact that they have zero purpose in life other than making money. And the majority of that money is derived from taking money from the pockets of others, who more often than not, know that it’s a grandkids college education or a retirement that’s being put at risk, and/or lost. The guilt of earning money on the backs of others who lose it was, in the words of the CEO, “literally killing then.”

Robert then said “people who live longer haven’t won and don’t win. Those who live longer in peace and comfort are the ones who win. You can still make a lot of money and have peace,” a motto, by the way, that Robert whole-heartedly believes in. “Who doesn’t want to make money? We all have a right to do that. But it has to be done in the correct way.”

This is my summary of the Master Yogi’s living in peace:

1. Guided by principles. Is what one does guided by a set of principles that stand the test of time.
2. Founded on good intentions. I like the word intention, because it means one is not setting out to screw another human being. The good intention is to put people to work, and if this is supported by principles, that work isn’t going to happen in a schloppy factory somewhere.
3. Leave the past behind. To err is human. That happened yesterday. Today is different. Today is for learning and for making difference decisions.
4. Look to the future, but don’t try and control it. The results of the your decisions today will show up tomorrow. The results may have unintended consequences–some good, some ill. Yet if the decision is based in solid principles and guided by good intentions, then the probability of a bad outcome is much lower. Even so, don’t worry about tomorrow. You did your best now let it go.
5. Daily meditation. A firm believer in meditation, Robert stressed that meditation can be moving (yoga, or even walking or Tai chi) but the goal is ‘quiet.’

I would modify the last line only slightly. I grew up repeating the phrase “do your best and let God do the rest.” You can substitute God with the God of your choosing, Karma, the Universe, or whatever force you believe it. It all comes down to the notion it’s I’ve taking it from my hands and put it in the hands of a higher being, and I’ve given all the stress and worry and angst that goes along with it.

In my kitchen, I have this phrase that says (in summary), thoughts becomes actions, actions become habits, habits become character etc. Robert started me thinking again…being more conscious of my every thought, action etc. And with that, I’m off to have a great Saturday.

Appreciating the Bad Times

I crack open my journal and see it’s been two months since my last entry. It’s different than my blog. More personal. Full of details that won’t see the light of day until I’m dead, if anyone cares to read it Still, I believe journals fill an important purpose- self reflection, paper to cry on. It’s also unadulterated truth. While my dear readers have read about my thoughts and goings-on, there is a backstory…and it is this.

  • I’ve been further from the Lord than I would have liked.
  • I prayed to walk closer to Christ.
  • Our dog developed t-cell lymphoma.
  • My daughter started losing her hair.
  • My movie project was beset by challenges.
  • I got what I asked for: a true sign God loves me (for he chastens those He loves) so we may go through the refining process…e.g. humility, prayer, repentance, change etc)
  • My dog (Daisy) had to be put down.
  • Porsche had to get shots all over her head.
  • For Mother’s Day, Rog got me (us) a new puppy we named Trudie
  • Porsche’s hair is partially recovering, but she still needs more shots.
  • My movie project completed its fundraising this last Monday.
  • The last six weeks have been non-stop trials, including faith.

Is my faith perfected? No. It was strengthened, for the mantra I repeated over and over was “trust and faith” in the Lord. I found myself telling others of my philosophy when they asked how I was handling it.

“How can you say that?” asked one friend, implying that good things should happen to those who have faith.

Not so. God has known what was good for me then. Now. Tomorrow. Of all the hardships I’ve had in life, that seemed insurmountable at the time, each had a purpose– a reason for being– and from each one I learned much. I wouldn’t take back the divorce, the financial ruin. None of it. I’m really grateful for knowing that bad things can produce really good outcomes. For instance…

  • All I care about is the health of my children.
  • I’m really grateful for a husband who will literally do anything for us.
  • I didn’t see or care or even respond to trivial things in the middle of a crisis. I should probably be more like than when all is well.
  • I asked more about others during this time, and found myself listening a lot more. Also a trait I need to nurture.

When I replayed this to an acquaintance, he chastised me.

“Don’t you know you should never, ever, ask to learn more or have your faith strengthened.” He went on to say, essentially, ‘you are asking for trouble.’ Sure. I knew that might be an outcome, but that is part of having faith. Who knows what I need better than the person who created me? Next time, however, I may just wait until the end of summer.
 

Tips for Getting out of your Rut

Get out of your personal ditch

When I wrote the piece on getting out of the rut, I “failed to provide any useful tips,” griped my friend, Holly, from California. Huh. Tru dat. “Why don’t you put in all the things you tell me about?” 

Like what? I ask. She reminds me. Oh, that. Ok. Here’s me. Trying to be useful, talking about changing patterns.

  1. Early morning workouts. I referenced extending my network by working out at oh-dark-thirty in the morning. That helped. It was so disruptive, everything changed. To wit:
    1. I had to change my sleeping patterns. No more staying up till midnight writing. It meant I went to sleep with my daughters, or no later than 10. this forced me to:
    2. Be more conscious of my time during the day. Not that I wasn’t before. I found I could do more with limited time. The early morning time also meant I had to:
    3. Change my eating. No more late night eating (and hence, no more snacking, weight started coming off). I then ate a bit of protein before working out, giving my metabolism a boost, which meant:
    4. Ate breakfast with the family. Never did this. Usually cooked, not ate. I was so ravenous, I plowed down oatmeal and eggs, eating with my girls.
  2. Self-imposed Internet regulation. My on-line rut isn’t playing with an ipad. It’s waking up in the morning, turning over and checking out the news on my phone. Or having it beside my bed, or in the car, or in my purse. Rog found this great app for limiting time on the Kindle and other devices. I pretend I have it on my phone. I give myself 5 minutes an hour. Seriously. If I can’t read it or do it in 5 minutes, forget it. I hustle through as many lines of news as I can possibly fit in, and then when I see the clock turn to 5, I’m done. I turn it off.
    1. This has begat a whole lot more happiness. News is generally depressing. One link leads to another, then another, and pretty soon, I want some good news to counter the bad news. Then I’m going to health sites, author sites, good news sites…it’s a rathole. How I turn it off before I get sucked in.
  3. Switch up my friends. Not permanently, just periodically. This sounds harder than it was. Some friends always want to eat out when we get together, others want to workout, yet others just want to talk about religion, others politics— Rog’s friends go golfing, fishing, skiing– but not all the same ones. I took a lesson from him. Isolate the friends with the interest, and don’t try and force-fit someone into a role that doesn’t work. Instead of making plans weeks out (or days) I’m more ad-hoc, and fit it to where I’m at during the time.
    1. This has led me to spend more time with people who I am interviewing with books. I find cultures interesting, different views on spirituality and enlightenment fascinating, and I’ve given myself the time expand in circles uncommon to my daily life. This is how I’ve come to know an Indian Shaman, a Siberian spirit-man, and several others who open my eyes wide to things in this world.
  4. Throw out the old. Clothes have memories. Old books take up space. I found that when I actually physically remove something from my life, my countenance changes. My outlook improves.
  5. Wear something new or different. This is a great one and applies to everyone. A good friend, the VP of HR for a global consulting firm, never wears jeans. Well, I suppose he does, but in five years, I’ve never seen him wear them. “People treat me differently,” he explained, referring to his observations. He likes the distance and the formality that dressing apart gives him. Others are exactly the opposite. My husband Rog, lives in jeans. He likes the informality. The challenge, as he’s noted, is that people underestimate him, they think he’s a former athlete who doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together. He likes this. (I think it’s a bit irritating), but who know his philosophy? “I like to see how people are going to treat me.” There is truth in that of course. If a person is going to look down his/her nose at Rog, then that’s probably not a relationship he’ll pursue.
  6. Pray and list (outloud) 10 things you are grateful for every day. This changed my world, particularly the latter. My level of appreciation and gratitude sky rocketed, my relationship with Rog improved- there was no downside, and it’s free. How can that be bad? 

Inspiration and Revelation

Who doesn’t want to be smarter, filled with brilliant ideas that rush forth like water from a fire hose? Steve Jobs used juice diets to eliminate contamenants in order to have a clearer mind, other practice Buddhism or yoga, providing examples of ideas that have sprung forth doing meditation or down dog, others seek revelation through prayer. Authors gives example after example of story ideas coming through dreams.

I think many inspirations paths exist that lead to the promise land of enlightenment; dozens for each culture. (Of course, if I were inspired every time I went to yoga, I’d be an prolific and Daniel Steele, as rich as John Grisham and as famous as Kim Kardashian (well, maybe not that last one…). Nonetheless, my own path of enlightenment has taught be a few things….

Seek it. Ask for it.
An answer can’t be had if the question isn’t ask. (I know. Socrates has nothing on me). Oprah believed in “putting it out to the Universe,” and the bestselling book “The Secret,” basically touted that once a desire is communicate verbally, it hits an untapped, all-powerful part of the brain that essentially wills the body to make it a reality. Proof points are many, including two former street people who went on to own and run investment banks (both who are black, one male and one female. Maybe I need to go be a street person for a while, or is that asking too much??).

Is it food or is it mental?

Will this happen to me if I live on
a diet of carrot juice? (clothed, I hope)

Steve Jobs sought enlightenment through abstinence of food (preferring juices) and I have a dear friend who has practiced Buddhism for years. Both made boatloads of money. My friend, a woman now in her late fifties, has owned two PR firms, and sold both, but she was already rich before then, as she wisely took stock in her clients’ companies. She attributed her good choices to the “peace and calm that accompanied my business decisions.” If she felt bothered by a prospective client’s manners or had a “bad feeling,” she’d walk the other way, no matter how much money was offered. Jobs, on the other hand, gave credit to his enlightenment and brilliance to a diet that was free from contaminants. (A notion that I subscribe to, by the way. When I’m all jacked up on processed food, I can’t think as clearly, my words are jumbled-be it written or oral, and I’m easily distracted).

Figure it out and act on it.
Here’s an interesting side-bar subject I could write about for pages and pages. There are times in my day/week/life, that I’m “unsettled” for lack of a better word. My stomach will hurt, or my arms will tingle, and I’m uneasy. When this happens, I immediately start searching for the reason. In the past, when I’ve gotten (and ignored) these vibrations, it’s been to my detriment (a cheating boyfriend, a dishonest client or something less dramatic, but equally important–a friend suffering a miscarriage, a cousin in a car accident)…so what I do is a go through a mental checklist of people, place and things. During this exercise, I visual with perfect clarity, the person, the thing etc. on my list, I pause, and I “listen,” for what will come next. If nothing, then I move on. 10/10 times, I will experience a “hit,” and I will act on it. That “act” typically involves a call/email or outreach. Other times, it will mean I replay an interaction, and resolve my feelings about it (again, usually by reaching out, if it means I’ve inadvertently offended someone, or might have). In one instance, I “thought” I’d offended someone, and when raising the situation, the other person identified she wasn’t offended, but she had a bigger issue she wanted to discuss with me pertaining to her personal life. The action meant for me was to call her.

Patience and willingness go hand-in-hand.
An open mind is a must-have. Can’t ask for a “thing” if you are unwilling to accept what is given in response. How often have I asked for one thing, and in fact, been “given” or faced with something entirely different. When I was younger (e.g. stupid and dense), I was blind to the answer. Over time, I started “seeing” that the answer, so to speak, had been given, but it wasn’t what I expected. Furthermore, it wasn’t that night in a dream, it might have been six months later, out of the mouth of a friend’s errant observation.

So many examples on this one, so personal. I got pregnant (unintentionally, right after marrying Rog), I freaked, he was calm. I couldn’t handle it, and cried myself to sleep. The next morning, he awoke and told me not to worry. He’d had a dream that it wasn’t my time and that I wouldn’t keep it.

I basically responded, “WTF” sans the bad language. I mean, a) he’s not religious, b) that meant to me he was uninspired and not worthy of revelation (see what I mean about young and dense) and c) most of all, if anyone was going to get some sort of enlightenment, why wouldn’t it be ME? I was the pregnant one.

As you can imagine, I kept crying, ignored him, but did feel a little better for some mysterious reason. The next day, out came a bunch of blood etc (I’ll spare you the gory details). It was over.

Bottom line: when we (I) can’t listen, other voices are put in our path to tell us.

Shamans, Screenplays & Throwing Fear off the Balcony

No one in their right mind would necessarily put screenplays and shamans in the same sentence. But, to what do I live for, other than to surprise and delight (and sometimes mystify, but that’s another story).

Last Thur, if you recall, I submitted my first crack at a screenplay for Chambers. Upon receipt, the producer could only muster “wow. OK. I’ll see what evil you have wrought.” He was being kind, for, in my idiocy, I submitted Act 3 only, due to the fact that I’d printed that section, and so when I went to PDF the thing, it captured only my latest file. Cue the air in the balloon whizzing out, a long, drawn out sigh of deflation, ending with me on the ground, holding said wilted balloon. Cut to Monday, wherein I’ve passed way too much nervous gas, wondering about his thoughts on my baby, when I’m informed
“well, an Act 1 and 2 would be helpful.”

File:SB - Altay shaman with gong.jpg
Russian Shaman

So it was that I re-saved and sent the entire thing. Note to self (and all other wanna be screenwriters, double check your file). And on a side note, yes, I’ve gone through self-flagellation as I embarrassed the home team.

But, as I am wont to do, I pick myself up, dust off the speckles of shame and sally forth, this time, right in to the proverbial Shaman’s den. Book 2 in the series, you see, has the Native American world as the backdrop. As such, I’ve got all kinds of cool Earth, nature and life spirits that are with us, guiding us (aiding or abetting) as I see fit. Since I’m neither NA or Shaman, I have been writing what I imagine to be the nature of things (pun intended) but have no factual data. (You would not believe the dearth of resources on the NA view of things. History yes. Oral traditions and deeply-held spiritual beliefs, no. Don’t get me wrong. My action adventure book is still just that. It’s the overlay on top of a cool world where things do go bump in the night.

“I just had a vision of you from my Shaman,” said the woman I was with. Her spirit has a name, but I won’t reveal it here. It’s special, and I respect that. But trust me, I love it. I’ve got to come up with something as cool. Now, I know you want to know the vision she had, but I’m not comfortable sharing it, since it has to do with me (sorry, you People-reading-Enquiring-minds-want-to-know). BUT, the good news, is that there were several communicating with her at the same time, and they had other almost-as-cool things to say.

File:Chaman amazonie 5 06.jpg
My Shaman was blond,
and wore cute leggings

I’m now back at the library, classical music playing on my iphone so I can take the themes and parlay then in to something that’s readable.

I won’t leave you empty-handed however (I’d hate that myself). The Spirits had two worlds of wisdom.

1. Stay in your feet.
Translation. Be present. The Shaman liked that I was present, open, vulnerable. I was willing to be completely honest, holding nothing back. She could tell, and evidently, so could the Spirit.

2. Let go of your fear.
The Shaman told me the story of having a fear. Hold out your hands, place the fear inside, walk to the door (or balcony, or window) and let it go. Once you let go of your fear, you are free to explore, embrace and move forward (I actually didn’t know I had any fear that I needed to throw off the balcony, but I’ll save my further enlightenment for another blog).

I was then introduced to another Shaman, which I am incredibly excited to meet in person. I spoke with her on the phone, ever so briefly, and when I got off, Shaman 1 said, “you don’t need to say anything. She probably already knows all about you.” Huh. If only marriage were so easy.

Spiritual Fitness

Today, whilst I was running on the treadmill, contemplating what topic to write about for ‘workout Wednesdays’ it struck me that I have thus far focused only on the physical aspect of health. That’s only half the equation, for what is the body without the spirit? (so said the Mrs. Steve Jobs in the bio I read over vaca). What indeed?

I’m no swami, but have a strong faith that serves to carry me forward through dark times, enlightens my mind and keeps me focused on family. I was taught at an early age that the spirit, and all aspects therein, must be exercised or else it grows weak, just like the flesh. Over the holiday, I read the Jobs bio on my Kindle (it was darn depressing, I tell you), yet it had a few redeeming qualities. One being the eternal search Jobs had on the Zen part of his existence, searching, striving, and seeking more. Of course, searching is not enough. One must apply what one learns. Through the school of hard knocks (e.g. choice and consequence), I’ve developed a few daily exercises or I grow weak spiritually–my energy ebbs, my outlook on life is grey rather than blue, I’m not listening (or receiving) promptings to help others etc.

1. daily prayer. Obvious, I know, but when I say daily, what I’m really saying is ‘meaningful’ in a way that requires me to verbalize my thoughts outloud. As a writer, I find it interesting that concocting words in my head is one thing. To say them outloud is another. Any good writer (and all books on becoming a better writer) council to speak the written word outloud. It’s requires thought. It carries meaning. The clarity quotient skyrockets.

Daily also means ‘whenever I want’, not just in the morning at night or at mealtimes. It means before a big meeting or presentation. I was seriously praying (silently however) backstage before I was to go on live TV with a movie producer from LA during the launch of my book last year. (I ramble, I get confused. I just asked for calm, peace and the ability the articulate my thoughts). My prayers were answered. My responses were short and concise (a miracle in itself). I smiled. I was calm.

2. Study-not just read-the scriptures. It’s strange. Sometimes I get nothing from reading the scriptures and other times I get a lot. Know the difference? Reading is just that–a straight through reading while on the treadmill or couch that I do. This is good (how can this activity ever be bad?), but not the best. About 2 years ago, I found my ability to truly learn and grow in the experience was found by following a 5-step process.
1) pray before hand that your mind will be enlightened while reading.
2) plan a specific time every day. Dedicate this time and have a routine.
3)have a pad of paper and pen to take notes, write down questions (therein is the studying part)
4) search/answer above questions. It doens’t have to be more than a verse (I used to set goals for reading–five chapters or 15 minutes type of a thing). Searching and answering can be much more or less.
5) pray upon completion that the words read (messages, meaning, understanding) can be remembered and applied.

Once I employed the above guidelines, I found the effort of scripture study much more enjoyable (and yes, it is still an effort), but interestingly enough, I began to look forward to it instead of dreading it like an obligation (like the treadmill).

3. Open your heart to being a help to another. This element of spiritual health brings benefits to others as well as yourself. Have you ever been inspired to call someone and done so, finding that the call was ‘just what was needed,’ to the person on the other end? What about writing a note of thanks for a job well done, then later learning your hand-written card (or email) was much appreciated? These little promptings are called ‘tender mercies,’ but also fall in the category of running God’s errands. Opening your heart to the prompting is the first step, but acting on the prompting is the fulfillment for both you and the recipient. I’ve found that the more I act on these promptings, the more I hear.

As with my own physical health, my spiritual workouts are stronger some days than other. The key is to keep moving forward, even if a bit at a time, to be as strong spiritually as one is physically. Ironically, the body will get weaker over time. The same cannot be said for the spirit.