Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Perfect Oregon Morning, Finding Treasures in Old Words, a Forever Hello to a Forever Sara, and Randomness in Pictures

It is an absolutely gorgeous morning in Portland, Oregon today.  The kind that goes down in the books as perfect in my book:  blue skies, a crispness to the air, the smell of fall in the air, falling leaves, and a "just so" angle to the sun that is a sign of an approaching winter/settling in season.  Then add sleeping kids, hot coffee,  a quiet house, a morning after some much needed time with a best girlfriend and a conversation with a dear friend, and time alone with my thoughts and an old journal and you have a simply perfectly peaceful start to the day.  

I found this journal on my shelf yesterday when I was looking for a book to write some things down that I want separate from my other journal. This book was never lost, but along with all my other journals, it just sits on my shelf collecting dust and holding pieces of my life and heart. I'm so glad I took it down yesterday because looking through it has been such a slice of peace for me.  It is a book that was given to me by my dear soul sister of a friend, Jenny back in the summer of 2000.  It is a book that I originally started keeping quotes and pieces of writing that touched me deeply.  Almost immediately, it became a place where I felt free to try my own hand at writing poetry or pieces that came to me but I was too embarrassed to share.  And now it is a beautiful book that has all sorts of writing stuffed into own, old letters to me, poetry written for/to me from long ago, quotes and snippets of writing that have touched my life, etc.  What began as a start to healing and furthering my spiritual journey after such an abusive experience with religion, grew into a collection of "Written treasures" and I'm looking forward to adding to much left to this book.  

Here's the beginning entry that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with my views/thoughts now (although, not entirely, I've worked through so much of my issues that came from being in an abusive church/religion) but were so real back then.  Funny how our life goes in circles...more often than not we come back to the root of the person we once were at some of the most powerful times in our life even when it means taking a long journey around before we return.  I'm thankful that I've always written my heart down and that I can go back to reread...we can always learn from ourselves

7-22-00 (age 21)
"I am starting this journal as a step--a new step to taking me further on my spiritual journey.  I am so very hungry for spiritual food right now and I'm starting to realize more and more that I can be CLOSE to GOD....without religion.  God is in me and it is up to me to seek that love out in myself, the people given to me and the life that surrounds me.  So many wounds have started to heal and that feels so wonderful to me.  Each new friendship, each new life song and beauty, that comes into my life for the first time just reveals more and more of God's love.  Thanks to my sweet Jenny C--my friend, my soul sister, I have this book to fill with things of my choice--things that touch my heart, heal me, and draw me closer to God without the pain and judgement that has come from religious abuse...and things that make me more aware of life...the here, the now, and the life ahead of me.  The life that is so very simple and intricate at the same time."  

I'm sure I'll offend some with my words about religion and God.  But it is what is and that's where I was when I wrote this.  There are still parts of me that are overly cautious about religion and the place that church holds in our world (even though we do attend a church and want to raise our kids in a church ).  Such a tricky subject for me and one that is forever evolving. A subject I'm not afraid to be open is part of me and people can judge if they want...I'm at a point in my life where I feel free enough to say how I feel without giving power to how others will judge me...I don't want those people in my life...not enough room for that.  Thankful for a constant love in my life no matter where I am with religion.  I choose to embrace is everywhere. This is the essence of God to me. 

As if this post isn't random enough, I think I'll add some more random in pictures and captions to go with this beautiful Wednesday that is so full of hope:

My sweet friend Sara. Amazing, Beautiful, Brilliant, Gifted YOU Sara! Dying of Brain Cancer.   Can't possibly put Sara into words that would do her justice or that would show how many of us that have breaking hearts right now with the realization that Sara will no longer be with us on this earth soon.   A friend to so many.  The world will never have another person like Sara.  In her 30 some years she has already done so much to give to the world...more than most do EVER.  Beyond gifted....teacher, friend, musician, daughter.  Exceptional is an understatement.   So sad for all that know Sara and have to say goodbye (but such a joy we have all had to have been blessed with her friendship that we will FOREVER hold on to)  and all that haven't had a chance to know her.   I gave her my "forever hello" 2 days ago and I know that will be the last time I will see her on this earth.  Heartbreaking.  But even in her last days on this earth, Sara continues to bless us all with the extraordinarily beautiful soul that she is.  
"Sara, you are an incredible gift to so so many of us. YOU, beautiful you. Thank you for giving so much to the EVERYTHING around you YOU. Thank you for making me laugh today. I left, as always when I leave you, feeling beyond blessed to know you. I love you."

One of my recent goals is to start reading more often like I used to.  So good for the brain and in just being still with ourselves.

Running is going really great this week!  My feet are starting to feel better...they still hurt a tiny bit but my body is responding well to the easy runs that I've been making part of my days.  Sunday was a reflective slow 7 miles in the forest with my friend Nicole.  I would take trail running with my girlfriends over pedicures and shopping ANY DAY! 

I miss getting REAL mail in my mailbox:  letters written and sent...waited for with anticipation, opened eagerly like a gift, savored, and tucked away to read again someday.  So glad I saved the special ones.  

If only we all could see the world more like children.  Especially in the way we make friends and accept love as it comes.  Most of the time it is a simple "Will you be my friend?" without judgement or assumptions.  Somehow, somewhere in our life, we become guarded (often for good reason) and we lose this innocent connection with other humans.  And when we do connect so freely and perfectly and find love in unexpected ways, we are quick to assume that something is wrong with it so many of us look for flaws/holes that don't need to be part of the big picture.  

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  1. I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head after reading this. I feel like I always need to have a cup of coffee in my hand when I read your blog, and unfortunately, that is not possible right now.

    First of all, I appreciate your honest thoughts on religion. I used to be very "religious" and now consider myself spiritual and do not participate in any organized religion. There are many reasons for this -- some are obvious and others, not so much. Thank you for sharing that journal entry with us. Isn't it so neat to go back and read what your 21 year old self wrote? That is why journaling is so wonderful. Speaking of -- I think it is time for me to buy a new journal. :)

    Second, I am so sad to read about your amazing friend, Sara. I can't even begin to imagine what she is dealing with and what her family, friends, and loved ones are going through. I can't help but ask, why? Why does a wonderful person like Sara have to be taken so early on?

    Finally, kids are so beautiful and open. Although they are just children and can't do much on their own, they are so free! Free with their thoughts, words and feelings. It can be eye opening to watch children interact and play. We grow up and put up walls up too fast. If only we could keep some of that childlike innocence.

    1. I love your comments Kate. Thank you for this. Yes, so fun to go back to read what I wrote. But also embarrassing at times. Ha!

      Been asking Why a lot with Sara. Such a brilliant person. Gosh, I love who she is. So sad. :(

      Thanks for your words Kate.

  2. Oh wait! I wasn't even done.

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all time favorite books.


    You are making me want to move to Oregon! I am tired of this heat and would kill for some crisp, cool air and a forest run!

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about Sara, Amanda. I know your heart and I know that's got to hurt. I used to write. I used to write my heart through school and would hide it in my closet. I was too embarrassed for anyone to ever read it so I threw them away. I completely got rid of them and I'm sorry about that. I'm no longer sorry or embarrassed of what is held in my heart whether it is right or wrong.

    Religion - I know some people won't get what you wrote. I get it. Our lives aren't about what religion we are. Our lives are about the relationship we have with God and what we are here on earth to do for His purpose. No church/religion can teach you how to live out your specific purpose. Abuse in our church, in our labels of religion? Absolutely. It is everywhere. Fellowship is important, don't get me wrong, but the abuse and the "business" of it all in most places is damaging in more ways than one.

    I'm happy that you got back to some roots.

    1. Thank you Tayarra! Thanks for getting me. :) So glad you have come to this place with loving yourself and giving yourself as it is. You are so beautiful.

  4. My perfect day here was Monday. Fall is so great for perfect days.

    So sorry about your friend Sara.

    The older I get the more I find that I prefer to be spiritual and I don't find what I need in a church. I find it with self reflection and being outside with God.

    1. And now looks like you've got snow...crazy! Thanks Christy.

  5. You have such a centered approach to life. It is evident from your writing that you love hard and truly care for and find value in the people that enter your life, even if only for "seasons" sometimes. I am very sorry to hear about your friend, Sara. I know that you will hold that relationship close to your heart.

    And in regards to religion, what religion and God are for your decision. This is YOUR blog and you have the right to put your thoughts and feelings about your ideas here. Who cares if people agree with you or not? :) You have to be YOU.

    PS - YOU is pretty great!

    1. Ah, thank you so much Katie. Such a sweet comment. Yes, I do love hard and greatly value and care for those in my inner circle...thanks for such a thoughtful comment here.

      Yes, it is my decision..thanks...glad to have a place to be ME. And people like you that are encouraging about that. :)

      HOpe you are well. Excited to move to your neck of the woods. :)

  6. Dear sweet Amanda: Oh!!!! this post lifted my heart as much as it made me sad. I applaud you for speaking so openly about sensitive issues...just be you, be true and be free. All of which you are. Religion/spirituality is what you want it to be, what you make it, what works for you. I cried when I read about your sweet friend Sara...she's so young! So beautiful. so full of sparkling life. My heart goes out to you. to her. to her loved ones. Life is so full of...uncertainty. Sending you much love + hugs. xxx

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet words here. so nice to read. Yes, sad. She is a gem in every way. Even in her last days here she has maintained such dignity, wit and charm....blessing all those that she knows. Such an example of someone who is true to themselves. So good to hear from you.

  7. P.S. I agree with katierunsthis...YOU is pretty great:)xxx

  8. Reading your entry puts a vivid image of you in my mind- a 21 year old Amanda! Trying to imagine what you might have been through, I would love to talk one on one with you sometime just to hear about it.

    Sorry about your friend. :( I am glad you were able to spend some time with her NOW though. She's been given a gift if she even has a little time to share with others. It brings to mind a few situations I know close to home where things were very sudden and children left without moms, moms without daughters. Make the most of this life while you can. :) We all have our day coming. So weirdly related, but two men locally died on the same day here. I was asked to sing at the funeral on Friday for one of them, so little time to prepare for a day when his whole LIFE will be honored/remembered.
    Anyway, sorry for the email comment.
    Love that you and Nicole got to run trails :) I choose that over the pedicure too!

  9. Truly great to have all those old journals and probably pretty emotional to go through them (at least it is for me when I go through mine). Nice to see how much you have grown and the strong and wise woman you have become in spite of all the challenges.

    So sad about your friend. Such a good reminder of how unpredictable life is for all of us, and how important it is to not delay our dreams from becoming reality.

    And pedicure? What is that? I might have had one some 12 years ago, ha!

  10. Your thoughts on organised religion and spirituality seem to mirror mine. Yesterday in the predawn light running along listening to bird song made me feel closer to God than I ever have in church. And talking to the psychologist about my mother - how she felt she could only talk to her family about some really heavy issues and not the ladies at the church for fear of being judged - confirmed why I don't go to church anymore.

  11. Sorry to read about your friend Sara, but otherwise, glad you're enjoying Oregon. Take care.

  12. Ok, I can't comment all that I want to b/c I'm about to be late for work. I just read this post, not once, but twice b/c I love it so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. I literally have tears running down my face, and your writing has touched me in a way that I can't explain. You know your friend will be with our Eternal Father, but prayers for her loved ones are being said. Thank you, Amanda.

  13. i was 'raised in a church' myself. i still struggle with religion/God a lot but i like to think that's not abnormal. my dad always said "it's not about the religion, it's about the relationship". it is unfortunate that most emphasize religion which then turns into hypocrisy over one thing or another.

  14. I always have to prepare myself for reading your posts. I know they are going to leave me thinking. Today's post is no different.

    I can't help thinking about your friend Sara. We loose so many amazing people and for those of us who never got to meet Sara, all I have to do is read your post and I realize just how amazing she must be. The way you love her is huge. My aunt is also dying from brain cancer and I feel many similar emotions.

    About 6 years ago, I went through a similar spiritual journey. Growing up catholic, it wasn't a choice for me, it was the way I was raised. But I realized at somepoint that I needed to figure out what it was about spirituality that I liked,and that I needed. Coming out the other side of that journey gave me more clarity than I could've ever imagined. It was hard and very emotional at times but I know you are going to find it to be such an amazing journey.

  15. First, I am so sorry about your friend Sara. It is so hard (impossible, really) to understand why some people have to leave this earth far too soon. It seems so unfair, especially when it is someone so close to us and who has such a beautiful soul. I am so happy you were able to spend some time with her and I am sure a piece of her will always be in your heart.

    While I have never had any real negative experiences with religion, I completely agree with your feelings about the essence of God. Without a doubt, I experience my "religion" out on the running trails. (How can you not find the wonder of God in Forest Park?!) But I also want to raise my kids with the structure of church so we go at least a couple times a month. In the end, though, it is more about what is in your heart and what you do in your daily life than how often you go to church or how much money you give.

    And just to echo the others, YOU is pretty great! ;)