Ahimsa: Nonviolence

I’m a yoga teacher on the weekends. As part of my goals for this year, I wanted to take time to think through some basic principals of yoga, as well as take some workshops for continued education. In yoga training, I was introduced to the yoga sutras, yamas and niyamas. No, you don’t need to know what those things are to reap the benefits! Basically, they are guidelines for living a meaningful life. Who doesn’t want that?

This month, I’ve been focusing on something called Ahimsa. Ahimsa is respect for all living things and avoidance of violence toward others. Obviously we don’t want to go out and punch the next person that frustrates us (I’d be in trouble if that was allowed). The idea of nonviolence is to treat yourself, and others with respect. It is to understand that when you say harsh words, or are inconsiderate, you are not only hurting the person you’re speaking to, but also hurting yourself by hardening your heart.

Ahimsa means something different to everyone. To me, it means thinking kind thoughts about people around me, assuming the best, loving the unlovable, recycling and loving the earth God gave us, leaving a place better than you found it, spreading kindness and goodness, not speaking poorly behind someone’s back, being open to new adventures, and for me it even means not eating meat.

Do I actually do those things on a regular basis? Probably not. It is something I work towards and try to be very conscious of. Each week, I focused on new questions surrounding ahimsa from the book The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele. The book has challenged me to mull over questions throughout the week. I did this every week for the month of January. Some of the questions include:

  • Practice courage by doing something you normally wouldn’t do. How does your relationship change with others when you courageously step into unknown territories?
  • Guard your balance. Think of the things you need and be ok with them. Do you base your decisions on what you need or what you THINK you need?
  • Are you a fixer? Do you run interference on other people’s lives? Discern the difference between help and support. Are you avoiding something in your own life by involving yourself in others?
  • Pretend you are complete. Don’t criticize or change. Do you need to offer yourself more grace or kindness?

Each of these questions were a good mental exercise in being kind/fair to myself as well as others. Sometimes my introverted-ness means I’m not courageous in stepping out to help others. Many times, I’m not kind to myself and often criticize the things I do. Those bad habits can be mentally taxing, soI enjoyed spending my last week of January loving the person I am. Now to make that a daily habit!

Learning something new can be wonderful. Next month I’ll be studying a different yama on my own time. If any of these questions were helpful try assigning them to your mental free time. How can you be more loving? Maybe it’s thinking kind things and sending warm vibes in the office, maybe it is taking a day of rest for yourself and family. Whatever it is, give it a try! The root of non-violence (ahimsa) is love after all.

Courage

Have you ever thought about the word courage? This word has repeatedly forced it’s way into my path since 2019 has started. My phone background has a quote that says

Let this be the year you go after courage.

I’ve been hearing it in bible verses and in songs. I’ve been reading in my yoga book about ahimsa, and the courage to be kind to yourself; the courage to say no or the courage to be kind to all can be easier said than done. Quotes from one of my favorite movies (#disney4life) says

Have courage and be kind.

But what does it mean to HAVE courage. As I began thinking about it, the times I can reflect back on ‘having’ courage were times I felt the least courageous. Courage often comes at times when you feel low, insecure, or afraid. So for me, I don’t always remember the courageousness of my actions, but the fear that caused them in the first place.

That’s a mindset I know I’d like to change.

Having (taking/using/being of) courage is an action. When you’re fearful, you have a choice to slink away or a choice to be courageous. Saying what you’re really thinking is courageous. Standing up for yourself is courageous. Asking for help is courageous. Being a light for others is courageous.

In the midst of my husband job searching, both in our state and out, I find myself being courageous by waiting. I’m a doer; waiting for God’s plan is incredibly hard. I also find myself showing courage as I take time to work on my weaknesses and value my own strengths. Using this idea of ‘having’ courage is something I’m mulling over in my head. Courage will never be something you wish you didn’t have.

As I was scrolling through Pinterest last week I came across a quote that says

You can have courage, or comfort, but you cannot have both.

I think about how hard many of us work to be comfortable. To me, being comfortable always meant not worrying about paying bills or letting money be a source of anxiety. Being in a place where I’m comfortable, I see myself longing for more; surely there is more good to be done, more adventures to be had. Finding courage in our comfortable places is how we grow. It’s something we must work for. If courage was something that came naturally, we wouldn’t need to choose to do it.

We should all be choosing courage!

As I continue this week, mulling over how to find courage in the comfort, I’m curious to see what can happen. How can I be courageous at school? How can I push my friendships by being courageous? How can I influence my students?

How will you be courageous?

2019, it’s time for a change. It’s time for courage.

 

Related imageImage result for have courage and be kind cinderellaImage result for verse courage

A Lesson in Authenticity- Rupi Kaur

Thank you Rupi Kaur, for yet again having me stop and think.

It’s crazy, but true to think we spend many years trying to be the person we think we SHOULD be. That ‘should’ word can be dangerous.

It’s only in the past couple years that I’ve realized the peace that comes from acknowledging my own interests, talents, skillsets, and self.

It’s also the last couple years that have been hard to become that person, defying what others mental image of me is. Some friends and family may have you pegged as one thing, but don’t be afraid to show them something else. Authenticity is worth it.

The truth is, since day one you’ve had the strength to be you. It’s worldliness, and lies that teach you other wise.

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Educated

This December I had the privilege of reading Educated by Tara Westover. I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into. Thinking it would be more about the education aspect of Tara’s life than her life growing up without it, I was shocked and in awe of her courage as the story unfolds. Her memoir tells of her life growing up without education and how she breaks away from her eccentric family, going to college and eventually getting a PhD.

When we read books we often picture ourselves in the shoes of the main character. I found myself identifying with her desire to believe everything her family said growing up and struggling to realize their beliefs didn’t have to define her. Education, and I would throw in travel as well, opens your eyes from what your small world is to what it could be. Wrestling with changing your beliefs as an adult is an internal struggle that is almost impossible to verbalize.

Two quotes in her book struck me. First:

“It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you.”
Tara Westover, Educated

The people you love, the people you spend your time with, shape who you are. What do you do when you find yourself in an unexpected disagreement with a friend? How is it possible this family member can think so differently than me? Perhaps the hardest part of growing up is realizing that all the people you hold dear won’t always agree with you. People that you work with with and meet might not even LIKE you.

This can either be your greatest defeat, or greatest asset. The ability to love someone despite your differences is powerful. The same goes for yourself. You must still love and believe in yourself; you must be ok knowing that you might be different than the people you hold love.

Tara found that in her book. She found a way to respect her family without condoning their behavior. She has not cheated what she believes to be right, even though it meant losing people she thought would be there for her forever.

The second quote I loved was:

“We are all of us more complicated than the roles we are assigned in the stories other people tell”
Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir

The truth is, no one in this world can know you like you do. Family, friends, colleagues know us for different reasons. So what happens when you start to grow or change? I like this quote because Tara describes something many of us have felt. Growing up, learning, and molding into the humans we want to be might mean changing what you previously agreed on with friends.

Just because someone has assigned you as a specific role in their head does not mean you are obligated to fulfill that role for them. Ultimately you must be confident in what you know, strong in how you do it, and have faith that you are on the right path. For me, that’s learning to listen and wait for God’s direction. For you, that might mean simply believing in yourself and not what others tell you is true.

As we move into 2019 I’m encouraging myself and others to be the best authentic version of themselves. What’s the point of people pleasing if it means losing yourself in the process? You can do this!

Happy New Year

~Shelby

P.S. Read Educated.  Grab a glass of wine. Enjoy!

Magic

I love magic. **All people that know me rolls their eyes** My favorite books are Harry Potter and The Land of Stories, my favorite show is Once Upon a Time, and growing up I had recurring dreams about my twin brother and I saving the world… with magic (obviously!)

To me, magic is something that fills you with awe. It’s the unexplainable and beautiful things when we are often surrounded by quite the opposite.

I watched an episode of Charmed yesterday, a show about 3 sisters that find out they are witches, that sparked something in me. Not only was I grateful that watching Netflix all afternoon proved to be useful, but I also found myself thinking about the lesson it taught.

In this episode, the Halliwell sisters use their magic to teach a man, who’s dog keeps doing doing its ‘business’ on their driveway, a lesson. The premise of this show is that they are not supposed to use their powers for personal gain or for punishing the guilty; only to protect the innocent. The episode takes them forward in time to see the consequences of this one instance where they used their powers in the wrong way. In their futures they were wealthy (but lonely), had a child (but divorced), and one sentenced to death for killing a man that hurt someone she loved (punishing the guilty).

So I thought, “What would it be like if I saw my future?” Will I be successful at the expense of my health (I have an ‘over doing it’ problem)? Will I have skimmed through many wonderful experiences and only remember how anxious I was about everything being perfect? Or worse yet, will I be still searching for the person I want to be because I’m afraid to commit to the role God has laid out?

The lesson for me was two-fold.

1. Everything we do now matters. Everything you say, every way you react, every time you apologize (or don’t), every time you listen to the ways of the world and fall into temptation of worrying, money, shopping, busyness, rudeness, or being inhospitable, matters. Planting one seed of sin can grow very quickly. That’s not to say apologizing or asking God for forgiveness can’t wipe the slate clean, because it can. But when your pride and self righteousness gets in the way there is no room for growth, only for that sin to spread.

2. We can’t figure this out on our own. Today in church we read about James chapter 1. We talked about how your faith must not waver; you won’t have all the answers, but believe and true FAITH that you are making the choices God has laid in front of you helps you keep moving forward. You can ask God for help in your unbelief, but you cannot expect to live as the world wants you to and also be on God’s path. The road might be rocky, but James 1 explains steadfastness and strength comes from our trials. We will have things that are hard and seem wrong, but a lesson is being learned in everything we do.

Magic is defined as something influencing events by using mysterious forces. God is a mysterious force. To many people, the peace and understanding you have in God is mysterious and strange. When you’re at peace knowing the adventure you’re on doesn’t have a visible destination and yet you trust and wake up grateful for each new day, people will want a part of that. You are the magic in someone’s life. You can show others that there is a more peaceful and promising way to live.

I want to be magic.

I may not have sparks coming from my finger tips, or have the ability to move things with the wave of my wand (yet), but I do find something magical in finding strength in my abilities, confidence that I am an adventurous path, and faith that I have a guide along the way.

We all have the magic within to believe in the unseen, to love the unlovable and to change lives.

~Shelby

You go, girl.

Have you ever had those days where you think to yourself, “Man, I’m on a role!”

Today I had one of those. I LOVE those days. There were things I’d been wanting to do before school starts back up in August, but hadn’t really let myself think about so I could enjoy a couple weeks of summer without extra tasks. As previously mentioned, I have a problem over employing the word ‘yes.’ But the truth is, I do love to accomplish things on my task list. I’m learning to find a balance between feeling overwhelmed and feeling accomplished. It’s important to note that those are not the same thing.

So this afternoon after summer camp, designing a wedding invite, planning part of a bachelorette party, buying shoes for a wedding, running errands, picking  gifts for a shower, walking Moose, cleaning the dishes and watching an episode of Super Girl, I was feeling that to-do list high.

But with every high there comes a low.

I started overthinking it….was I overdoing things? Am I falling into my old trap of doing too much? It’s a blessing and a curse to have a brain that can run with 15 tabs open.

Then I had a friend text me. She shared about some awesome things going on in her life and reminded me that when you let go, when you accept and experience what is going on in your life day by day, you’ll be on track. When you knock on God’s door for help, he answers. I like to believe that if I write enough reminders in my planner I can keep everything under control. Let’s be real though friends, we can’t control everything.

It’s hard to free fall, but it’s exhilarating to let go of the constant worrying, lists and overthinking. Think of something that you struggle to let go of. Imagine picking it up off your shoulders and setting it to the side. Imagine setting it in God’s hands. Do you feel lighter? There are thoughts, worries and burdens we don’t need to carry just for the sake of carrying them.

I always relate to the memes that say “I’m anxious because I’m not anxious.” It sounds silly, but in all honesty it is true for many of us. When things seem good it can be hard to accept it for fear of something going wrong, or forgetting to do something on your never ending task list. Today’s the day to let that go. To release and to trust!

After accomplishing all those tasks this afternoon I decided to go on a little jog around the neighborhood. I started breathing heavy, overthinking the things I did today, analyzing the level of productivity and wondering what else I could accomplish. Maybe I wasn’t as awesome as I was giving myself credit for…

Then someone drove by with their windows down. Without stopping a woman yelled out her window, “YOU GO GIRL!!” I didn’t have time to wave, but there was an immediate grin that spread across my face. Deep in my own thoughts, the little reminder that she yelled out her window brought me back to the happiness I felt earlier. You know, I think she may be right.

It’s time to be proud of our accomplishments, thankful for our experiences and encouraging to others. Text a friend, write it on your hand or yell it at a random jogger. Shout it from the rooftops! When we are humble enough to know we can’t do things on our own, but strong enough to accept that we are all worthy of great things, nothing can stop us.

You go girl.

~Shelby

 

2nd Corinthians and…Harry Potter?

Over the past two weeks it’s finally begun to feel like summer. Un-shockingly to everyone, but myself, I have managed to make every waking moment of my tech-teacher summer break full of one to-do or another. (It is continually on my list of goals to stop saying yes so often…pray for me).

Since summer has begun I decided that, along with 1st and 2nd Corinthians, it was time to start rereading Harry Potter. I’m up to my eyeballs in all my favorite Harry Potter quotes, reveling in the victoriousness of Harry’s ultimate weapon- LOVE.

I finished preparing for our Wine Women and the Word bible study today. As I was looking through the beginning of 2nd Corinthians I tried to pull the main points that can make this week’s study as applicable as possible. What knowledge we don’t put to use is just wasted information (spoken like a true Ravenclaw, am I right?)

Second Corinthians was written about a year after the first letter to Corinth church. In this letter, Paul praises those that have repented and urges the few remaining members in obstinance to follow their lead. He is giving them one last chance before he returns to rebuke those that still reject his faithful message about Jesus Christ.

*[SPOILER ALERT]*

In the last book of the Harry Potter seriesHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we find some similar messages. In order to bring down the dark Lord Voldemort Harry approaches him prepared to willingly give up his life. This willingness and love for others (among other things) help him overcome the curse that was supposed to lead to his death.

In the final chapters, Harry and Voldemort prepare to duel. Harry gives him one final chance to show some remorse, to be in touch with his humanity, and yet Voldemort’s greed and wickedness cloud his judgment and he is vanquished.

In the end love wins. It is the light that darkness can never overpower. Light and love is something darkness and sin will never understand. There is always a time to turn things around. No one is too far gone. Whether you’re a rebel from the corinthian church or a crazy wizard, there is #Always an option to choose the light.

And if that isn’t enough HP for you, I have a parting gift. Perhaps my favorite verse from this week’s She Reads Truth study is this:

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14

Just as Harry was The Chosen One, called to snuff out darkness, so are we, chosen by God to put on kindness, humility, meekness, patience and most of all LOVE. Love snuffs out darkness. It took Harry until the end to understand what Dumbledore meant when he said he had a type of magic that was unbeatable. So often we forget that simply loving is a powerful tool. Love is fierce. It’s caring for a family member when they are ill….it’s talking to a friend that has been acting poorly and encouraging them…it’s sticking with what you believe….it’s what God has called us to do to every person that we meet.

How fun is it to know that we all have the ability to use that magical force? I’m looking forward to making more nerdy connections to HP as we are finishing up 2nd Corinthians.

Go out today friends and use your magic! Let’s work together to defeat the darkness.

~Shelby

 

Seeking the Good of Others

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, bearing this inscription: The Lord knows those who are his, and let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.

2 Timothy 2:19

This week the Wine Women & the Word bible study read week 2 of the She Reads Truth study. It continues to impress me how blunt and straight forward Paul is. I know it’s true in my own life that sometimes the most obvious things can in fact not be that obvious at all. Or worse, we know the truth and choose to believe it doesn’t apply to us.

I’m enjoying imagining myself as a student of Paul’s. I’ve considered greatly what it means to imitate Christ and to have Godly wisdom guide my decisions and actions. He gives good instruction on keeping my marriage healthy by fully dedicating myself to it. His advice on living well, so as not to lead my fellow friends and family astray, is important.

The way we speak (or don’t speak), the way we act (or react), the things we dedicate our time to (or waste our time doing), the kindness (or hostility) towards others…all these actions speak volumes.

I encourage you to go through your week and think about what kind of example you set. I know we can all be a beacon of light, servant hearted and loving to all because everyone we meet is worth receiving that.

 



1 Corinthians Chapters 6-10

(spark notes edition)

  • Settle lawsuits among Christians and before the righteous
    • 1 Corinthians 6:12 Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. (The Message)
  • Live in Peace
    • Words to the married and unmarried. Finding peace together so you may work it out in the hard times. Pleasing each other in your marriage, working on all things together.
    • What to do when it doesn’t work out.
  • Don’t cause your brother or sister to fall
    • Living in a way pleasing to God and being a good example for young believers.
    • 2 Timothy 2:15-18 Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know. If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul. (The Message)
  • Imitate Christ
    • 1 corinthians 11:1-2 It pleases me that you continue to remember and honor me by keeping up the traditions of the faith I taught you. All actual authority stems from Christ. (The Message)

 

 

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Love Thy Neighbor

I came across this shirt today and thought it summed up the idea of true LOVE for others (picture below). How often have we heard ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’ or ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The concept seems simple right? First, you must love and respect yourself. You must be kind in your thoughts, gentle to your shortcomings and give yourself grace on the hardest days. Sometimes it’s hard to do that, but when it comes to loving ourselves the concept is much easier. We strive to feed ourselves, fulfill our basic needs, necessities and fulfill general duties to our families and friends.

Even at the most surface level, this concept should be easily applied to anyone else you come across. Being kind, respectful, providing help if you can, giving grace when people mess up should be our default…and yet it is so easy to judge and be hateful. This is where many people get it wrong. We were not put on this earth to judge. We all make mistakes, sin and fail. We are called to live a life of love. To serve others the way Christ did. How many stories are there in the bible that has Jesus talking to tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners? Do you see him segregating himself from those he deems unworthy? No. So why do we?

To the clerk at the grocery store, the homeless person you pass on the way to work, the hateful family member, other professions, beliefs, nations, religions, nationalities, prostitutes, sinners and tax collectors….we owe love. We teach by loving and caring.

Something Marshall, my husband, and I often talk about is that respecting someone’s point of view, listening to their thoughts and validating their thought process does not mean you have to agree with it. You can kindly listen and not agree. You can respect and have different views. You can love without jeopardizing your own beliefs. Why is this so hard to grasp?

So remember today:
Love thy foreign, homeless, prostitute, imprisoned, disabled, gay, straight, transgender, enemy, blue collar, white collar, old, young, black, white, lonely, jewish, muslim, christian, atheist, male, female, racist, addicted, rich, poor, liberal, conservative, different from you __________ NEIGHBOR.

Love+Shirt+Main

What identifier do you need to fill in the blank so you remember this? Go out today and LOVE. Be kind, be strong and be loving to everyone you meet. Maybe pray a little too.

~Shelby

 

Images property of https://cyny.org/all/loveshirt. Also- go buy this shirt.

“Be a first-rate version of yourself, not a second-rate version of someone else.”

—Judy Garland

When we see people being successful it’s hard not to feel envious. It’s hard not to wonder why my life isn’t working out the same way their is.

Remember you don’t want to be a copy of someone else. You are meant to be completely unique and serve a totally different purpose on this earth.

Be new, be YOU, be innovative. Don’t be afraid to be different or like what you like. You excel and be bold in who you are. Be first-rate today.