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Focusing on the Good Stuff

Posted by Jennifer Mata on March 14, 2016 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (1)

I get Ripples: pebbles, boulders and ponders from Paul Wesselmann, The Ripples Guy, every Monday. This Monday, I really liked the Ponder he shared and thought I would share it here with you. It resonates with me so deeply, both in the way I tend to view life and the way I feel others tend to view me. 

 

Ponder

 

It's an unfortunate fact of life that the bad stuff stands out more than the good stuff. The small errors sometimes scream louder than pages of flawless text. The awfulness of the candidates we disagree with seems much larger than the awesomeness of the candidates with whom we agree. We can complain about the rainy Saturday far longer than we can delight in the sunny Sunday. It's not exactly because we're negative; it actually makes logical sense that our minds would focus attention on potential concerns; it's just that this focus will likely distract us from the good stuff.

 

If you've been confronted with a limitation or a restriction or an ending of some kind, it might be useful to let yourself be disappointed for a short while and then when you're ready to move forward, you can guide your attention towards possibilities that exist, perhaps even new ones that haven't even reached your dreams.

 

Limits exist, and they need to be acknowledged. Think of them not as restrictions, but as defined boundaries within which we can unleash our best work and our best selves.

 

Peace,

Paul

 

P.S. Thanks for reading Ripples, and thanks for the times you've done more than just ponder. Each action you take, whether it is sharing these splashes with others, or simply shifting your thoughts or behavior because of a particularly useful nugget, it helps to keep the Ripples flowing....  


Good News People

Posted by Jennifer Mata on March 10, 2016 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)


As the Lenten season was about to begin, I received an email from my parish, offering a Good News People experience for those interested in participating. It's a 14-week experience in which we meet once a week, with a small-group of others also interested in renewing their faith and in being good news disciples. I thought it might just be what I've been looking for, in terms of rekindling my connection with the spiritual realm and refuiling my faith. So I decided to join. 


We are currently on week 4. Each week we work on a virtue. Thurs far we have worked on Love, Something and Faith. For this week, week 4, we were working with Humility. I'm not sure if I have shared this here before, but I came to the realization, some years back, that my overall learning goal and perhaps spiritual homework, was to be more humble. Thus I was excited that I serendipituosly had signed up to share my story this week, the week we explore humility. 


We have been exploring other, saintly people's stories. We have watched videos and read about their troubles and how they reinvented themself, some through redemtion, into people of good news. And from week 3 forward, we were called, each on a different week, to share our own stories. This week, I shared mine with them and now I'm sharing it here with you as well. This is my story, at least one of them.


"My story is the story of a little girl, the little girl I used to be and the little girl who still lives within the woman I’ve become. My story is more of a memory, a recollection, than a story. My story is a little piece, or perhaps a brief summary of what my life has been about. If I had to sum up my childhood experience, I would say it was overall pleasant. That’s how most around me would remember it anyway. For me though, my childhood was intricate, filled with questions and discoveries, filled with wonder and wondering about the bigger, more significant questions in life, at least significant to me. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Why? Why? Why?


As a little girl, I kept to myself a lot. I have an older sister and she was there, but not really. She wasn’t much of friend to me back then. She is a very good friend of mine now, but when we were growing up she was a bit mean and unkind and didn’t really want me around. So I kept to myself. You might already know this about me, or perhaps not. I am an introvert. I like to be alone. Me, myself, and I, kind of scenario. But you see, as a child, I was never truly alone. I lived and played in an imaginary world I had created for myself. I had invisible friends; not one clearly constructed one, but random “others” I talked to.


The adults around me found this amusing. They would try to “catch” me talking to myself. So when I noticed that, I hid it more so than before. I came to understand it wasn’t something considered “normal”, so I kept it hidden. The thing is, my imaginary companions and my conversations with “myself” were not only with random “others”, they were more often than not with something grander, an entity wiser than I would ever be. And the conversations with that entity, which with time, I called my guardian angel, were enlightening, soul touching and helped me cope with, and understand life as it was happening around me.


As an adult I still have that connection with that “otherness”. I think there are more entities that just the one “guardian angel” I had as a child. I now can “talk” to God directly, to the Virgin Mary and to whomever really I would like to access in the spiritual realm. It doesn’t come as naturally to me as it did when I was child. It sometimes does not fit into my work-filled days, and tasks-ridden evenings. It’s not something my husband, with whom I’ve spent the most of my time these past 6 years practices, or finds “normal” either. Thus, I’ve stopped doing it on the regular.


I miss it though. I miss my insightful conversation. I miss my “aha moments” when I needed them the most. I miss talking to those “others” who are much wiser than I will ever be, and show me the light and the way out in situations in which I feel myself in doubt, uncertain or just plain drowning. I miss the little girl I used to be, before adults around me tried to, unknowingly, cripple that connection with the spiritual realm.


As an adult now, I’ve felt my task in order to better myself spiritually, is to learn to become more humble. Which makes this week’s theme of Humility so fitting. In being humble I was able to connect before. In being humble I am able to connect today at a physical level with others. In being humble I grow as a human being and as a spiritual being. But I have a long way to go back to the little girl, who had the gift of connecting to the otherness that is Spirit. Thus, humility, which I am not great at, is my goal, my journey, my life."

Strengthen your Faith and Let go

Posted by Jennifer Mata on September 23, 2013 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

  “As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.”

 

― Emmanuel Teney

Children's Books: War

Posted by Jennifer Mata on September 13, 2013 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been meaning to get working on a project I have had in mind, for sometime now: writing children's books on spiritual topics. I have a list of topics, and a preliminary draft mostly in my head, of what I want the books to be about, but I still need to develop a character, of course a young child, and then delve into writing the grabbing and thought provoking stories.


I bumped into this article in the New York Times today, about a new picture book entitled ‘Year of the Jungle,’ by Suzanne Collins, the same author as the trilogy Hunger Games, and thought it could be interesting and perhaps enlightening for my own project. The story is about a little girl who's father goes off to war, her struggles to understand and cope with his absence, and hold down the fort, sort to speak, until he returns.


I really like this quote from Danielle Trussoni's article reviewing the book: "At the end of the year, Sue’s father returns, “tired and thin,” his skin “the color of pancake syrup.” He “stares into space. He is here but not here.” “Some things have changed,” Sue reflects, “but some things will always be the same.” In other words, bad things happen, but life goes on."


Trussoni ends the article by stating "Maybe some frank discussions about war, ones that involve more than stories about courageous dragons, will help children better understand what military service entails. “Year of the Jungle” brings up big questions. Parents will need to provide the answers." Which is great food for thought: How do we talk about war with children? How do we help them understand why, as citizens, we let war occur? Are there other options aside from war to resolve out international problems? It would be very interesting, and I'm guessing also enlightening, to have these conversations with children.

September 11

Posted by Jennifer Mata on September 12, 2013 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (0)


Remembering September 11 still makes me sad. It's been 12 years and I still cringe at the thought of it. The opening to my book's chapter 1, begins with referencing  "past and recent terrorists attacks", and then moves to the more currents threats of war and how killing others because we want to overpower them and impose our points of view, is at the root of not living a spiritual life (remember the topic of my book is children's spirituality, so this is one of the ways I make a case for it).


We shall not forget. We shall be sad. We shall be angry. Yet we shall be better for getting up and moving on from this. But we shall also make headway in ensuring this never occurs again, not by defending ourselves and living in fear, but by making sure we do not nurture, as a society, those who could grow up to be terrorists and kill innocents in the name of an ideology.


September 11, may you give us the grounds and push we need to be better, and to create a better world for all.

 


Questions to Grow Spiritually

Posted by Jennifer Mata on August 6, 2013 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I came across this video today and thought the questions possed were interesting. In the video, Oprah interviews three spiritual gurus and asks them to pose questions we should be asking ourselves on a daily basis to gain spiritual growth. The questions are:


1. On Intentionality and how intentions impact our journey:

What do I want to accomplish in my spiritual life? What are my intentions?


2. On being happy:

Would I rather be right or would I rather be happy? Am I ready to accept life on its own terms? How can I let go and relax with each moment? Can I accept this moment as it is?


3. On giving ourslves to others:

What gifts lie within me that I promised myself to share that I have not dusted off for a while?


Watch the video here on Oprah's videos section, on her website.

Catholicism

Posted by Jennifer Mata on February 4, 2010 at 6:02 PM Comments comments (0)

I've been thinking lately about what it means to me when I say I am Catholic. If I try to contextualize it, I understand that being Catholic here in the US, in Venezuela and in, lets say, Rome, means very different things. And even within those cultures there are degrees and variations of what is categorized as Catolic and what it really means. If I compare myself to traditional Catholics, I know they would say I am not one, at least not one of them.


I came to embrace Catholicism late in life, inspite of my grandmother insistance that I do it sooner, and by doing so I have adapted bits and pieces of it to my life. I have taken that which makes me feel good, that which works for me, and left the rest to be. I know for some that seems odd, a sell out of sorts, but for me it simply works and that's why I keep it around. I do worry about it now and then, and feel the need to explain what "kind" of Catholic I am when people inquire about my religious background and practices, and sometimes feel like I should give it some serious thought and come to terms that maybe I am not what people consider a Catholic after all, and should possible rethink my definition and maybe look for a different more selfexplanatory label for myself. And then today I came across this:


"The aim is to come to a deeper understanding and appreciation of spirituality, not to reject it entirely. A derivate aim, enormously important in itself, is to understand that we need not believe everything attached to a particular view or group in order to commit ourselves to it. We may be critical adherents, advocates, friends, or supporters." (Noddings, 2005, p. 84)


So there you have it. I guess I can still call myself a Catholic and just keep on explaining to others, who may need to know, what "kind" I tend to be. And that, will be ok, at least for me, for now.

Letting God drive

Posted by Jennifer Mata on June 11, 2009 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (2)

I'm trying to stop the urge to control, direct, over think, reason and understand everything that happens and that which I want happening. So when I bumped into these yesterday and this morning, I thought they were a great place to start my change process.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3; 5-6

"Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek and you shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asks receives;
and he that seeks finds:
And to him that knocks,
it shall be opened."
Matthew 7; 7-8

I need to let God drive me to my path and then through it. I need to let go and let God. Please help me let God take the wheel.



What about Atheists?

Posted by Jennifer Mata on June 3, 2009 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (1)

I've been reading this book called "Secrets" by Paul Tournier. It was written in 1965 and provides examples and cases which seem quite outdated and sometimes too stereotypical and biased. But I guess the author could only portray the view of an educated, White, heterosexual man living in Europe in a post IIWW era. 

Tournier posits that a child in order to truly develop into an individual, separate and unique from the parent, needs to learn to keep some things to himself; the child needs to learn to have a secret. It is not until this moment, in which the child decides to keep a secret that he is not a true individual.

Phase two of this personality development theory, states that later on with the development of friendships and trust the child grows confident enough and decides to share this secret with someone else, not necessarily an adult or his parent, but someone he confides in. Once this secret is shared the child can be consider a true person.

Later on Tournier explains how this keeping and sharing secrets continues throughout a person's life and plays important roles in the relationships he builds, as in marital relatioships, and patient-therapist relationship.

The last phase mentioned by Tournier consist of the ultimate sharing of secrets. In this phase the person shares all secrets and thoughts with God. The sharing with God makes the person a person in the full senses of he word.

Tournier summarizes it as such "The first stage in the formation of a person was a withdrawl, becoming an individual by the cretaion of a personal secret. The second stage was the free communication of this sercret to someone else freely chosen, and out of it the experience of love and the interpersonal relationship with another. And the third stage is to have this double experience in our relations with God, to feel ourselves distinct from him, to choose him also freely, to tell him our secret and to know thereby the interpersonal relationship with him, the experience of the love of God." (p. 62)

I thought the propositions were interetsing, although I know there is more to making and individual a person than keeping and sharing secrets. What struck me and made me think hard was the notion of inclusiveness and how would it be possible to generalize this theory to everyone, especially now a days when people are opepnly so different. What would Tournier say of people of other beliefs, or people who share everything, or the extroverts who don't keep secrets? Would they not grow to develop into individuals and persons? What about Atheist? Would they never come to their full personal potential because they have nothing to share with God, since they don't believe in him? And then, furthemore, when thinking about spirituality specifically could Atheist be spiritual even though they don't believe in God? Or is spirituality a notion tied to the belief in something grander than us from which we stem?

I'm still thinking about these questions. What do you think? I would love to hear your opinions.

Hmmm, what do you think?

Posted by Jennifer Mata on February 3, 2009 at 9:49 PM Comments comments (0)
I'm reading Sylvia Browne's book "If you could see what I see" and just bumped into this "While you may have fulfilled that horrendous learning curve, it's what you do with it that brings about spirituality." (p. 50)

After reading this, I could not but start asking myself some questions: Is spirituality brought about? Prompted? Is it a result of something? What? Can it be willed to happen? Does it happen or is it felt? What about spirituality product of happy/good moments? Is it the same thing? Or are there subtle differences in what we experience?

I'm still pondering. I thought I'd shared, because maybe you have some answers?

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