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Archive for February, 2011

Sabbatical Summary

Well, as my sabbatical comes to an end, I have to say, it’s one of the best things I have ever done for myself (see Sabbatibal Update 1 for what I’m talking about). I actually didn’t know why I was doing it other than I felt God was leading me to, and to be honest, I was afraid to do it.

Tomorrow I’m going to church and it will be the end of my week to myself and God alone. Brandon will come back home and life will pick up where it left off just over a week ago, and I’m ready for it. I did some profound thinking this week, and I feel so much more prepared to enter back into day-to-day life.

I shared with you guys the email my former professor sent me. What actually ended up happening when I replied to the email was that we spontaneously decided to meet up. He invited me over to his home and I spent almost the entire day Thursday soaking in his wisdom. He is probably one of the most significant spiritual mentors I’ve ever had in my life and he doesn’t even consider himself a Christian. But his love for God and his love for other people are so inspirational they leave me with a craving to learn from him. Executives of fortune 500 companies pay a lot of money to have 30 minutes of his time a week (he’s  a life coach) and yet he joyfully offered his time to me for about 5 hours Thursday. We talked in great length about meditation, finding your life purpose, connecting with God, showing unconditional love to everyone, and many other life topics. I should have brought a recorder, but I just sat curled up in the recliner of his living room intently listening and asking more questions. That day will probably go down in my life notebook (as if I have one) as one of my favorite life experiences. I am so humbly thankful.

I was left with a myriad of questions to ask myself. Confession: I drove from there to Ikea and spent a couple hours sitting in random furniture just thinking about all kinds of things. And of course walked out $60 poorer, haha. That evening I called my BFF Meryl. I needed to talk to someone and I needed an update on her life anyways. Long phone conversations with Meryl have been food for my soul for years now. Thank you God for blessing my life with her.

Friday I woke up an took care of emails and obligations for about an hour and then shut my phone and laptop off for the rest of the day. I found a quiet place and tried meditation for the first time. It’s going to take me years to develop the skill (if that’s even how you phrase that??) but there’s a first time for everything. I found out that the list I copy pasted in my last update was a list he developed for his personal life over the last 20 years, so mine really shouldn’t look the same. That list is his 21 values. Those are the principles he wants to live by so each morning he asks himself if he is living by those values. I’ve decided to use his example and pick a few of those that are really important to me and start there. I don’t think I’m ready for 21 yet. I also learned what a mantra is. Here’s the wiki for it if you don’t know. I have to work on finding mine.

Also on Friday I was cleaning out some things around the house and found two old copies of Relevant Magazine. I spent my afternoon reading them each cover to cover and it was astounding how much they were full of what I feel I needed right at that moment. I don’t think they put the articles they publish in print on their website, otherwise I’d link you guys to some of my favs.

By the end of the night, I knew two things.

1. For a year I have been talking about making a dream board. I need to do it.

2. I can’t figure anything else out about my life until I find my purpose because all other decisions are dependent on that.

I started writing my dreamboard list. (If you don’t know what a dream board is it’s like taking your goals and making a visual poster of your goals.) I asked myself “If you came to the end of  life, what would you be disappointed that you never accomplished?” It helped me filter through some things that I want and would be nice, but in the end wouldn’t create disappointment. And it also helped me find some really small things that don’t seem like a big deal, but I realized were a big deal for me. Asking myself these questions ultimately started showing me what was really most important to me. Then I realized that I think I do have a purpose. I believe my purpose in life is:

To help others grow

Bam. It may mean absolutely nothing to you, but I realized it meant everything to me. I love helping other people discover themselves, grow in their spiritual walk, do better in school, or simply find confidence in being themselves. We were all created completely different and I love helping other people find themselves and have confidence to go in the right direction for their individual path.

That being said, I had to face a serious fear. About 10 years ago I started feeling a calling towards the self-help/motivational speaking world in some realm. (There are THOUSANDS of people who help on ENDLESS subjects). I’ve been afraid to admit that’s what I want because I feel like it’s really easy to fail and not achieve that. I feel like it’s a BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL that’s easier to not admit is inside my head. But I’m ready to lay it out there. I’m ready to not be afraid of it anymore and to start making decisions in my life that will lead me in that direction.

If that was the only thing I got out of this week, then it would have all been worth it. But it’s not. I feel like such a stronger version of myself now. I no longer feel spiritually starved. I no longer feel drained and exhausted by the world and life. I feel in control of my own destiny and fully ready to pursue God’s will for my life, whatever it may be.

By the way….after a year and four months of the same item sitting on my to-do list, I finally finished my dreamboard. I posted a pic of it on my 365 blog. I don’t mind sharing the list with you. I put it on a cork board because I wanted the ability to add and take away as I grow and learn. I feel like what we want out of life is always changing, so I didn’t want to create something that was permanent. But I feel REALLY STINKIN’ GOOD about the fact that I finally checked this off my to-do list. Here’s what my dreamboard reads (in no particular order, just typing it from the random order I stuck it to the board):

  • Backpack through Europe
  • Read the entire Bible
  • Read 20 books in one year
  • Take a Key West vacation (I’ve never been…)
  • Find a philanthropic cause to put my heart into
  • Run a 5k in less than 30 minutes (I’ve done 2 around 43-45 min)
  • Become debt free
  • Have a retirement plan
  • Grow old with Brandon
  • Start a family: invest in the next generation
  • Take a photo I’m truly proud of
  • Live somewhere else. MOVE!
  • Have a flat stomach (a.k.a get my butt in shape!)
  • Beat my sprint-triathlon score
  • Help my sister plan her future wedding one day
  • Mentor someone
  • Have a full time job helping others’ enrich their lives (maybe that looks like a full time blogger/speaker/DVD series/life coach?)
  • Get my nose pierced
  • Help Brandon achieve his dreams (Two of the ones I put up there were for him because I know two things he really, really wants are: 1. DP a feature length film and 2. become a member of the American Society of Cinematographers [there’s only like 50-ish living people in it at any given time. REALLY REALLY high honor in cinematography])

So yeah. In case you didn’t realize it, I just openly poured my heart out. I have spent a week isolated in my house eating only raw fruits and veggies, reading, seeking, and occasionally taking care of some necessary tasks. At the conclusion of my week’s soul searching, these are the things I discovered about myself. I realize not everyone can take a week off of their lives (actually, I don’t even know how I did and what repercussions I’ll deal with next week), but at least start taking some time to think about who you really are, why you’re doing what you’re doing, and where you’re going in this life. Are you doing it with purpose?

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Sabbatical Update 2

Sickness is almost completely gone. Hallelujah!

I was planning on sleeping a full 8 hours but was slightly awoken at 6:45 am when my husband stopped in to grab some stuff he needed from the house for his presentation this morning. But right after that I got a text message and that was it. I was awake. I tried to fall back asleep to no prevail, so crawled out of bed at 7:30 a.m.

My plan was to begin the day with exercise, but some alone time with God sounded better. I ate a grapefruit and mango and decided to start the morning off in prayer and scripture. As I sat on the couch I started dosing in and out of consciousnesses around 8:30. Don’t you hate when that happens! But regardless, it was a very peaceful start to my day.

Brandon got back with my laptop around 10 am and there were a couple emails I was waiting on with some files I desperately needed to get to print asap, so I took an hour or so break to see that project through. The awesome part about checking my email was that my professor had replied. SWEET! Perfect timing as I had spent my morning trying to conquer this prayer thing. Here was his reply:

Re: Meditation Question
Good to hear from you, Sophia. After calming with my mantra, I run through my 21 values 1-3 times in the 30+ minutes I meditate. Each one is kinesthetically anchored to a finger. I hope this helps.

Compassion
Clarity
Creativity
Confidence
Courage

Peace
Abundance
Unconditional love for everyone and everything in my life
Health, Vitality and Energy
Both Happiness and Joy

Meaningful service to those I come in contact with directly and indirectly
A stronger realization of God in my life
Focus to do God’s will
Humility
Gratitude

Generosity
Integrity
Presence to live in the here and now
Forgiveness
Balance

Wisdom

————————-

Needless to say, it definitely helped! (Note to self, I still owe him a thank you reply!)

You see, before my prayers always felt like either a teeny bopper fillin’ my friend in on what was going on in my life, or a child reading Santa Claus his wish list. Of course there have been times I really connected to the Lord in prayer but I hate when it feels like I only go to him for wants and needs. I can certainly say that never in my spiritual life have I connected with God in prayer on a REGULAR basis.

I practiced what he sent me and it was so powerful. I went through the list twice. Praying about each area of my life and turning it over to Him. There’s something so releasing about admitting you have no control over any of these areas and asking for help. It was also humbling to look at areas of my life that are so important yet I was completely neglecting. I hadn’t really stopped to think about what I was doing to live humbly, compassionately, with gratitude and generosity. At certain times I apply those characteristics to my life, but I have never evaluated myself on a daily basis in a lot of these areas.

I started my morning with this soul-searching evaluation, read some scripture, then headed off for some exercise. My afternoon and evening were spent handling some projects and I’m looking forward to what tomorrow shall bring.

Goodnight.

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Sabbatical Update 1

Last Sunday as I was listening to Bobby’s message at Element I really was feeling God moving in my head. It just seemed that everything Bobby was saying was clicking in my brain. (P.S. It was the last message in a series he did called “why do we do what we do?) I started asking myself why I am doing what I am doing and where the heck I am trying to go and where I have been allowing and not allowing God to play into this.

By the end of the service, only one thing seemed really clear to me: I felt an extremely strong urge to shut myself off from the world for a week. (minus one hour a day of having phone/email one) I realized that I have not STOPPED in TEN YEARS! I have been over-committed and running in too many directions since I was 14. I need a week to disconnect from everything and re-evaluate where my life is at and where it is going. I also stink at the whole prayer and reading thing, and I wanted to really refocus on that area of my life too. I decided it was now or never, so I finished out last week and then made preparations to begin my sabbatical the following Saturday (I even asked my husband to go stay with friends for a week so I could be completely isolated)

What I didn’t plan for what to fall hard on my tail and get sick as a dog on Thursday. I spent almost all of Friday, Saturday and Sunday in bed. Sunday I’m pretty sure that I slept for 16 hours in a 24 hour period. I felt terrible and sounded terrible. I had to call Allstate about an account error and the Indian woman on the other end of the phone instructed me to go to the hospital!! She said I was doing myself a disservice by self-medicating and that I needed to see a doctor! haha! I believe in good olde fashion sleep, chicken soup, nyquil and as several people instructed me this go-around, zinc.

So, as Monday comes to an end, this is the first day I have actually stayed awake all day, though it was almost noon before I woke up. I feel much better now. So, back to the sabbatical thing.

Between Saturday-Monday, I feel like I can say I’ve had one solid first day. I’ve been reading a lot of scripture and doing a lot of thinking. I’m still not really good at the praying thing. My prayers seem to all be short and kinda the same thing. I’ve been a Christian for half my life but I just can’t seem to get that spiritual aspect of my life down. I emailed an old professor who used to talk about meditating to get some advice from him.

What have I done so far? For starters, I thoroughly cleaned my house. I knew I couldn’t sit in here for 7 days if it was messy. Friday I stocked up at the produce market and I’ve been eating only raw fruits and vegetables. I figured I might as well cleanse my body. Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.

Recently I read this post on Donald Miller’s Blog. He talked about figuring out what he did and did not like in his life over the last year. It was rather eye-opening for him so I decided to try it for myself. I thought really hard about a lot of the things I did and didn’t do in 2010. I realized that so many, if not all, of my dislikes about my life were things I had full control over. So clearly, I need to make some changes in my actions. I won’t share them all, but here were some of things on my list:

Likes:

My daily photo blog (which is almost 2 months behind and I plan to catch up this week)

traveling (went to D.C and Denver and spent a lot of time in TN)

5k’s

having a clean house

TV series with hubby

coffee dates with friends (I feel like so much of my life growth in the last year occurred over great conversations with intelligent people)

chopping my hair off

photoshoots

dates with hubby (which were not often enough)

and several others

 

Dislikes:

gaining wait (like 10 lbs this year!)

oversleeping (did this quite a few times. it’s an embarrassing apology to make)

gossiping (i feed off of it when it’s around me but it makes me feel gross inside)

procrastinating

most of the concerts i went to (i’m getting old i think….)

A certain person in my life who breeds negative energy

not reading books

over-committing myself

eating bad foods

not exercising

and several others

 

I’m glad I took the time to think about this list over a couple days. All of the things I don’t like are really, really easy to fall into but yet so easy to control. It showed me that even though I think I really love that Publix ice cream and should buy it to make myself happy, I’m actually not making myself happy because it doesn’t make my body feel good and contributes to the weight gain I disliked about myself.

So yeah, that’s been my sabbatical so far. I plan to update again. I realized that there are a few bloggers I follow who openly share about their lives, even the painfully honest truths, and their writing inspires me. So, another thing that has come out of my time away has been that I was to share more about what I’m thinking and experiencing. Maybe someone will read it, maybe not. But if reading others’ experiences has influenced me positively, the least I can do is try and give some back to the world 🙂

 

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