Friday, March 29, 2019

Getting Grounded: A Meditation

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This week’s topic was inspired by a priest who got me thinking about grounding. And while I'm going to tell you about a priest, this isn't a religious post, but I will touch on some themes of a greater metaphysical nature. 

But let me start with a tiny bit of background, first.

I recently visited my parents for a couple of weeks. When I’m there, I attend their church in the Myrtle Beach Area. I really like their parish. For one thing, people are very nice, and the music is good. For another, the church building itself is giant and beautiful! The outside has a very light, almost Spanish architectural feel to it, with the light stucco exterior and red tile roof. The interior has the traditional cathedral-like layout, basically in the form of a cross, where people can sit on three sides of the altar. There are also balconies on each side, as well.

Here’s a picture I took from the lobby looking in during Christmas 2017 (which doesn’t nearly do it justice, but you can see additional photos on their website).

Taken by Beth Wojiski December 2017
©Beth Wojiski, 2017-2019
Their parish seems different from churches here in the Pittsburgh area, though. The thing I’ve noticed over the years both here and elsewhere is reduced attendance at Mass. Big, beautiful churches are sparsely populated, it seems. The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has been forced to close churches and schools, combine parishes, and send priests traveling between several churches to say Mass in many different places instead of just serving at one.

Not so at my parents’ church! Not only are they packed to the gills every time I go, but they’ve actually had to add Mass times to the weekend schedule to accommodate the burgeoning need.

Now, this can probably be attributed to a few things, including people leaving communities like Pittsburgh and other cities in order to move to the South in their retirement years. Pittsburgh may be losing attendees while the Myrtle Beach area is gaining them, but they’re the same people. And I will say the majority of the parishioners in my parents’ church do appear to be retirees. But I also see many younger families and people in their twenties, too.

I don’t think that changing population statistics are the only thing to explain the jam-packed attendance at this place. The type of attendance that if you want to go to 5:00 p.m. Mass on a Saturday, well, you’d better get there by 4:15-4:30 to get a parking spot!

No, I think at least some of the draw is the priests who serve there. Their sermons are always entertaining and engaging! They’re great at telling a story, and I always walk out of there smiling.

Let’s take the priest who inspired this post as an example:

He started his homily (this is the Catholic name for “sermon,” by the way) by calling it his “meditation.”

Not his sermon.

His meditation.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
I liked this descriptor. It seems humble, doesn’t it? He wasn't preaching at us. He meditated upon the week’s readings. He had a spiritual message to share. It seemed more of a mystical experience shared in a moment of human-to-human interaction, like you'd go to someone's house and just have a deep conversation. But then he did something incredible:


Right there; right on the steps leading up the altar, he sat down and took off his shoes, then stood up and started speaking while walking around in his stocking feet. He wandered in and out of the pews, making sure he got to all sides of the church, getting up close to people as he spoke. He’d look at someone up in the balcony from time to time and speak directly to them. It was dynamic!

He was having a huge impact. . .and he was just this one, tiny guy in his socks.

Now, before I hear some of you go “Ew!” or “Disrespectful,” hear me out.

He explained that growing up where he did, he didn’t even wear shoes til he was 17. He also talked very earnestly about the importance of taking your shoes off. Of letting your feet touch the ground. About being in physical communication with the earth. I’m totally paraphrasing, here, but he basically said to touch the earth with your feet and understand how beautiful and connected it all is. How connected we all are! He then continued his sermon about serving in any way you can and how every single person has something to share with the world, no matter their stature, age, means, or anything else.

Guys, this priest basically just taught us the principles of grounding, humility and service right there in a packed church at about 5:30 on a Saturday night, and I don’t know if anyone else thought it was weird that he was in his socks grounding the whole time, but for me, well, I couldn’t stop smiling. In my 47 years and growing up Catholic, I have NEVER seen this in a Catholic church before, but I liked it!

We all know about how lightning will travel to the ground, essentially connecting heavens to earth. Well, take that idea and apply it to a more metaphysical level: grounding is when you connect with the earth through your feet and let that connection calm you, center you, and give you a feeling of stability. Some people believe it creates a connection between heaven and earth, through you. Now if you’re religious at all, you can translate that much in the way that I think the priest was trying to tell us: we are all pieces of the larger picture, each of us has our connection to each other, the earth, and God. He even created a hashtag for his homily, guys. (#777HereIAm). He was 100% engaged and connected.

Photo by Justin Groep on Unsplash
Now this isn't a religious blog, but the greater messaging was not lost on me. There is a spiritual connection between us all, and sometimes we lose it. We're tired, distracted, overwhelmed, and overworked. All of these things can make us feel negative.

So how do we regain that sense of connectedness and get positive again?

Well, we can start by taking off our shoes.

Have you ever felt warm sand between your toes at the ocean? Or cool blades of grass as you wandered barefoot in your backyard? How did it feel?

Doesn't it feel good to feel the earth with your feet?

Next time you’re feeling stressed, disconnected, frazzled: try it. Kick off those shoes, roll those socks off, and let those little piddies feel the earth, or the sand, or the grass, or the dirt, or the ocean. As you do, let the stresses fade away. Settle yourself down outside and take 5 minutes to JUST BE. Breathe in and out slowly and let your body’s natural rhythm take over, instead of letting anything or anyone else (boss, family, your to-do list) set your pace. JUST BREATHE. As you take those 5 minutes, let any thoughts just pass on through. You don’t need to shove them away, but just acknowledge them, say hi, and let them pass on by.

This in and of itself should be a start to help you disrupt any negativity you may be feeling today or any other day. In addition, there’s something very humbling about taking off your shoes. You are no longer defined or constrained by what you have. It is just you, connecting your humble self to the earth, while the earth is connected to the rest of the world.

You are literally free to just be you.

You may be but one small part of the infinitesimal, brilliant universe, but your connection to everything and everyone around you is important. By grounding yourself, you help bring peace to your own life, and by extension, to those around you.

To me, that thought is both humbling and awe-inspiring. The act of grounding is, on its own, a simple, positive act of service.

I hope it’s given you some things to think about as you go into the next week.

Peace be with you... πŸ’›πŸ

 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Friday, March 22, 2019

Fortune Cookie Friday: Impatience

This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures

Hello everyone, and happy Friday! I hope you are going to take some time to relax and recenter this weekend, enjoying the moments fully—and here’s why:

Any impatience you show will only create more stress. 

I love today’s fortune, because if I’m honest, I can sometimes be a bit impatient. Were I to examine this further, I realize that I often want to get to the "good stuff," whether that’s the feeling of accomplishment when finishing a project, or wanting to start my vacation already and get to my destination. I’ve done a lot of work in recent years on slowing down, taking stock, breathing, and living more in the moment, but I tell you, it’s sometimes a struggle!

If I manage to slow down, though, I find that I can enjoy where I am fully and presently, and it’s a lot more peaceful. The alternative—impatience—leads me to more stress, because it creates within me a constant yearning for something. I mean, isn’t that what impatience is? It’s a yearning of some type, wanting something to be over in order to get to something else. Think about it: have you ever spent all week hoping for Friday? All day waiting for the work day to end? Weaving in and out of traffic so you can go faster and get home or to your destination?

How do any of those—or similar—scenarios make you feel?

Hang on... Let’s consult my go-to, Merriam-Webster, on this:

Definition of impatient:
1a : not patient : restless or short of temper especially under irritation, delay, or opposition
b : INTOLERANT sense 1
impatient of delay
2 : prompted or marked by impatience
an impatient reply
3 : eagerly desirous : ANXIOUS
impatient to get home

There it is, folks! Item #3: “eagerly desirous : ANXIOUS”

Now who wants to be in an anxious or stressed-out state all the time?

Not me. Not any more.

I’ve recently started some new practices in my life to try to slow down. For instance, while I’ve been good at meditating on an ad hoc basis, I haven’t really made it a regular part of my day. That changed nearly two weeks ago, when I started a 21-day meditation series that came free with my Audible membership, and it’s really made a difference in my life already! I find by taking 10 minutes to get calm every day, my breathing gets more regular, I don’t react to stressors as easily, and I’m feeling pretty good about things in general. And it turns out, there’s a scientific reason for that!

This reason is described in a book I recently started reading that was recommended by a friend of mine. I’d planned on doing a full book review here when I’m done with it, but why not let you guys know about it now so you can start it, if you want? I’ll still do the review later.

It’s called Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson with Richard Mendius. I love this book so far because it discusses in very plain terms why our brains are more wired to hold on to the negative experiences and the stressors, and how suffering is caused by yearning. They then offer solutions to help you rewire your brain, including explaining why, scientifically, things like breathing and meditation WORK. But they do it in a way where it isn't difficult to understand. Neuroscience for regular people...gotta love it!

Better yet, I just found out yesterday that there is a companion audiobook, Meditations to Change Your Brain: Rewire Your Neural Pathways to Transform Your Life. Since I had an Audible credit, guess what I just downloaded? I’ll start it after I finish my current 21-day meditation cycle, and will let you know how it is. (Note, it’s available on Audio CD, as well, if that’s more your thing, and you can always buy the MP3 outright instead of having an Audible membership.)

Suffice to say, I’ve been thinking about impatience and suffering, lately, and I have to simply agree with this fortune. Impatience will only create more stress...but there are ways to avoid that.

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash
I hope this post has helped you consider ways in which you might be impatient in your own lives, and how that may be influencing your outlook, world view, or basic state of being. I hope you are inspired to shift that state from one of unhappiness and stress into one of calm, joyful, self-fulfillment.

I hope you’ll share this with friends and family who may need to read it. Please share far and wide!

Be well, and have a wonderful weekend! πŸ’›πŸ

 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Friday, March 15, 2019

Looking Out For Neighbors

This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures

As spring gets ready to make an appearance, many people are still experiencing those last snow events of the season. While yesterday it was in the 70s in Pittsburgh, we got some snow only last week. How about you? It feels like such a slog any time it snows when you know you have to go to work or an appointment, doesn’t it?

Now imagine the anxiety that must come with any major weather event when you know your life depends on being able to get out of the house!

Natalie Blair of Parsippany, N.J. was faced with just that scenario, and were it not for the teen boys in her neighborhood who made sure she could get to her dialysis appointment after it snowed one night, she might have been stuck.

Patrick Lanigan and several of his friends were up and out there around 4:30 a.m. on a Monday (on a snow day, when they could have slept in!) When Ms. Blair looked out the window at 6 a.m., the entire drive was clear. You’ll see in the video below that it is quite a big driveway, too!

Here’s video about the event (and more sources will be at the bottom of the page):

This is a really good reminder to look out for our neighbors, especially those who are elderly or infirm, not just in snow events, but any time. We have a neighbor we like to check in on every so often (as does much of the neighborhood). If you notice you haven’t seen someone in a while, or you know they have frequent medical appointments, consider helping out, stopping by, or calling to see how they're doing. If you want to help neighbors with snow removal, perhaps your community has a program you can volunteer with? The City of Pittsburgh has a Snow Angels program that you can sign up with if you live in the area. Maybe where you live has something similar.

I hope this story was inspiring to you. Stay warm if winter decides to pop up one more time, and have a great week!  πŸ’›πŸ

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Other sources:
Daily Record

Friday, March 8, 2019

Fortune Cookie Friday: Compromise

This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures

Greetings, fellow fortune seekers! I trust this Friday has you feeling great about your week. If not, at least it’s the weekend, and tomorrow is always a new day!

Today, our fortunes have a new topic than the last few fortune cookie posts, that is!

Compromise is always wrong if it means sacrificing a principle. 

Wow. This cookie is taking no prisoners.

As usual (in case you’re new here), when I post a fortune cookie, I intuitively let its message guide me to say something that I think may help us disrupt negativity around us.

One of the reasons I started this blog is because of social media and its effects on our (un)happiness. I can’t tell you how much fighting I see on social media on a regular basis. That’s what comes to mind when I see this fortune, because it got me thinking about how people communicate about their differences.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
If you read this cookie at face value, it would seem that we should be unbending, but I think Victor Hugo, author of Les MisΓ©rables, had an interesting take on the concept of compromise in his Intellectual Autobiography, Ideas on Literature, Philosophy, and Religion:

 “Change your opinions, keep to your  principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”

It basically says the same thing as today’s fortune, but in a way that gives a possible pathway for polite discourse.

Come to think of it: trees shed old leaves and grow new ones. So how can we put this concept of compromise and principles into place when we feel tempted to get into a rollicking good fight with someone on the internet?

Drop me a line with your thoughts on this topic, or let me know your interpretation of this fortune! After all, just because this is what came to my mind when I saw it, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to look at it!

Have a great week! 🐝

* * * 

Want to read Hugo or other books in e-book format? Amazon is having a sale on the paperwhite, and Kindle Unlimited is a great way to read copious amounts of books and magazines and listen to audiobooks for one low monthly cost. 

 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Friday, March 1, 2019

When Scammers Struck, Someone Saved the Day

This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures

Happy Friday! I hope your week went well. Drop me a comment and let me know how things are going! We’ve had a decent week here at Chez b.e.e., for which I am very grateful.

I’ve been getting positive feedback from readers that they really like posts about acts of kindness  because it gives them hope for a better world. With that in mind, please enjoy today’s story coming from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Photo by Louis Smit on Unsplash

Most people have heard of Dave Chappelle, the famous stand-up comedian. He has been touring again after a hiatus, and tickets are at a premium.

Unfortunately, scammers are getting better and better at victimizing people seeking tickets for big acts such as Chappelle’s. When one couple was scammed out of $500 for tickets to his show in Charlotte, North Carolina, Chappelle stepped in.

Deidra and Eddie Dickens wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day by seeing one of their favorite comedians. Since Eddie sometimes uses a wheelchair, Deidra wanted to ensure tickets they purchased would be at the end of a row to allow for that. She found tickets on Craigslist and paid $500 for them, but it turns out the seller wasn’t legitimate, and she never received them.

What happened next is amazing:

(If you prefer not to watch a video, there are links to other sources at the end of this post.) 

What a stand-up guy Dave Chappelle is, isn’t he? He didn't have to do that for them, but he did, and by doing so publicly, he brought awareness to the issue so other people would hopefully not get hurt.

What do you think of this story? Let me know in the comments, below! I hope it’s given you a smile, and that your week ahead is fabulous. See you next week!


Other sources for this story:

 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Reflections on 2020

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See  Disclosures  for more info.  It’s finally...