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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


"Be not the slave of your moods, but their master. But if you are so angry, so depressed and so sore that your spirit cannot find deliverance and peace even in prayer, then quickly go and give some pleasure to someone lowly or sorrowful, or to a guilty or innocent sufferer! Sacrifice yourself, your talent, your time, your rest to another, to one who has to bear a heavier load than you -- and your unhappy mood will dissolve into a blessed, contented submission to God." (Attributed to Abdu'l-Baha) 
The above quote was shared with me by a friend who who in turn was given it by another friend. I am trying to find out where it actually comes from, and have thus far been unsuccessful, but I promise to update this posting once I do so that you will know. 
Irrespective of the source, I love the sentiment it is expressing, and my coming across this quote, in combination with a number of things that have happened in the last 24 hours, has made me reflect on something that I just had to share with you! 
I know I said I would not be talking much about the past anymore, but indulge me here for a minute if you will! While I was studying on Prince Edward Island in Canada I would occasionally reach the end of my tether. Too much stress. Not enough sleep. Or "I have no idea where my life is headed and WHY did I move to this godforsaken place where the temperature drops to 35 degrees below zero in the winter again????" Yeah. You get the picture. Anyway...when I would reach this place, my dear friend Alanna would say you me: "You know what you need? You need to go visit Linda. She will fix you." The first time she said this I wasn't so sure. I mean Linda lived in Shediac, New Brunswick -- I tiny little town on the eastern coast of Canada that was so small that it made PEI look urban, and it wasn't like it was any warmer over there than it was on the island. But Alanna is one of the most convincing people I know. She could convince anyone to do just about anything. So I packed my bag and before I knew it Alanna was driving me (this was before I owned my own car) to the Confederation Bridge where I caught I shuttle bus to the New Brunswick side of the frozen landscape, where Linda loaded me into her little car and drove me back to her warm home for the weekend. During the weekend Linda and I cooked healthy meals that we enjoyed with her husband Jacques, made and drank lots of tea, shared many morning and evening prayers, and sat and talked for hours on end. She was wild and crazy, loved to laugh, had incredible stories from living in the South Pacific and Africa, and yet at the same time was deeply wise. She also was (and still is) an excellent listener. 
At the end of the weekend Linda bundled me, happy as a clam, back into her car in my long underwear, down coat, wool hat, gloves, scarf, two pairs of socks and boots, and drove me back to the bridge, where I took the shuttle back across to the island where Alanna met me, saying (triumphantly) "see? I told you Linda would fix you." And she was right. Linda had fixed me. I never knew quite what Linda did, but over the next six years Alanna shipped me off to be fixed at Linda's home many, many times, and after I graduated and bought myself a car, I would drive myself to Linda and Jacques' place for the weekend. I'd like to think that I also went to visit because over time Linda and Jacques had become very dear to me, but I think that even when I was there on a social call, Linda was working her magic -- re-fueling my soul well, making sure I was laughing at life and myself, taking the time to pray, and staying true to my heart. 
Last night I was feeling very blue indeed. It was just one of those nights, and I found myself lying in bed wide awake long after I would have liked to be asleep wishing that there were somewhere I could go....a place I could get away to for a few days to clear my head, gain a different perspective, laugh a little, and take a break from the never-ending job search. Lying there in the darkness I realized that what I really wanted was to visit Linda. "To be fixed," as Alanna would say. I do not know anyone here that I have that kind of relationship with. When I am feeling unsteady I am just feeling unsteady, and I just have to deal with it myself. I am on my own. 
Knowing that I could not take off for the weekend to see Linda because she is on the opposite side of the continent, I decided that perhaps I could write to her. So I pulled my computer onto my bed and wrote her a nice long letter. I still haven't heard back from her, but in the meantime I came across the above-mentioned quote, and I realized that there is a reason that Linda is so far away right now and it isn't just because I got in a car and drove to the opposite side of the continent. I recently read Man's Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl, in which he speaks about the fact that no matter what our circumstances, we always have a choice how we respond to any given situation we find ourselves in. In circumstances that are unpleasant or challenging, we can choose to remain fully present and use the circumstances as an opportunity to learn something new and grow beyond our former limitations, or we can ignore the chance we are being given to ask ourselves the question "what can I learn from this?" and instead vegetate passively. It is wonderful to have a supportive community of friends that I know I can turn to when and if I need advice or support or someone to go for a walk with or sit down for a long chat and a good laugh--a community where every time I am struggling with something someone is always there to help me get through. But it is also important to know both that I can fix myself, and how to go about doing so. 
This morning I did Ruhi book 2 with a good friend of mine. We studied the life of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith. We also said some prayers together, and prayed for a friend who has cancer. Focusing on our learning process and on sending out healing energy to my friend was the best "fix" I could ask for. After Ruhi I met another friend who needs some help with the social media marketing campaign for his business, and I spent my afternoon working on ways to help him achieve his goal. This evening I helped my mother prepare the house and then host a group of women who come here twice a month for a women's devotional gathering. Tonight the woman who was leading had chosen as the topic "tests and difficulties." The readings that she had chosen were perfect, and the discussion that followed was lively and full of laughter, tears and wonderful rich stories. By the time the women left I felt completely "fixed" and I realized that I had turned my state of mind completely around simply by being present and focusing on serving those around me. 
It is a gift indeed to have people in my life who support me when I need a little support, but I am thinking that all of my relationships with the incredible people that I am blessed to have in my life might just be even more fulfilling once I master "fixing" myself, so that my time with my friends can be spent more fully savouring the joy of each other's company.
I came across a blog entry today that spoke to this very topic. The title is rather crude, but the content is spot on. It was called "When shit happens, turn it into fertilizer." You can read it (and I highly recommend you do) here
It is interesting to me that when I am paying attention and being conscious (and willing) to ask the question "what can I learn from this situation?" there is always something that I could be learning that would improve my life and the lives of everyone around me. What about you friends? When you are in a situation that is challenging or painful what do you do to turn yourself around? Do you have a particular question that you ask yourself? A quote that reminds you where you are headed? A meditation or yoga practice that re-centres you? If you do, I would love to hear your approach to "fixing" yourself in the comments section below. 
Have a great Thursday, friends!

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