SoulFully You: 2015 in Review

Happy New Year from SoulFully You!butterfly no logo Thank you for subscribing to and sharing my posts during 2015. Your comments and feedback have been encouraging.

Thanks to you, SoulFully You was viewed 6200 times by over 2500 readers in 39 countries during 2015. Readers have found SoulFully You through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, SoulCollage, Becoming Minimalist, Jumping Tandem, Abbey of the Arts, St. Benedict Center and Google. It’s been a serendipitous blessing to connect with people around the world and to stumble upon new readers in my hometown, Lincoln, Nebraska.

SoulFully You, the name of this blog /hobby/ business/vocation /passion /endeavor is about my own pursuit of a creative, spiritual  and authentic life and my desire to accompany others on that journey. It’s about listening and praying and living a creative, purposeful, passionate life.

It’s about becoming SoulFully You. So thank you for accompanying me.DSC_0323a

There is no formula for what and when I share. There are no strategically-planned weekly posts (who would want notifications or email from me every week?). It may seem a little haphazard to the reader (and even within the writer, ha!), but it’s important for me to wait for inspiration and to listen for guidance about what to write; to be soulful about what I share.  I know when it feels right; and I know when it feels forced or unnatural. I’m not going to “leap ahead of grace” (quoting Sr. Helen Prejean) when it comes to SoulFully You.

SoulFully You, the blog, was birthed to connect with others who find DSC_0730SoulCollage® a creative and prayerful form of self-expression and to share information about retreats and workshops. 

But it has transformed into something more for me: a way to reflect, grow spirituality and express myself creatively. Both words (writing/reading) and images (SoulCollage®) resonate with me; I surrender to the synergy that is greater than either practice alone; I listen and learn and follow my intuition.   I write about what I am passionate about, often prompted through SoulCollage®I am one who” statements; send it out into the universe; and hope that it resonates with a few people.  I have faith that what I create will be a spark of light for the right people, at the right time.

WordPress, the blog platform used for SoulFully You, prepares an annual report, basically a report card, for every blog they host. The cool thing is that it’s just about my blog…no comparisons, no goal setting, no pressure to increase blog traffic…just a good old-fashioned report. It honors what IS and I appreciate that. 

According to WordPress, the top 5 posts on SoulFully You were:

1. Giving up to Gain: Selling, Decluttering and the 68506

2. It’s About Time We Start Sharing the Same Breath

3. Selling Our House: Surrender to Surprise

4. Decluttering: Taking Off the Top Layer

5.  A Picture Can Reveal the Soul: Using Images in the Classroom

Decluttering and selling our house was a defining element of 2015. Writing about it was tonic, and accountability, for the soul…and it seemed to have resonated with others–Google search brings a new reader almost daily for those posts. I haven’t written about our move (and the downstairs storage room that affirms the decluttering process as yet unfinished), but I hope to bring this theme back to life in 2016…life just got complicated during the process.

In the midst of moving to a temporary dwelling while our new house was finished, my mother-in-law (pictured) became ill, was hospitalized for several weeks and then suddenly passed away.

Our hearts are broken. Perhaps the greatest stress and loss in our lives, combined with sending our senior-in-college daughter to Washington DC for an internship, IMG_8622starting a new school year myself and then finally moving for the last time, has thrown us into survival mode for the second half of 2015. Lots of tasks are still on the list of things-to-do.

Creating and writing about other topics has been helpful and healing, but likely a bit of avoidance as well. I hope to write about my mother-in-law when the time feels right. In the meantime writing and reflecting about spirituality and Soul Collage®, creativity and country drives, friends and family has been a balm for my soul.

Some of my favorite 2015 posts

love and marriageSome of my favorite posts are about my husband and daughter. Joe and I celebrated 30  years of marriage this year and Jessica is just one semester away from being a college graduate.  See A Marriage Made of Moments and Jessica Becoming.

Driving country roads is contemplative prayer for me. I get lost in the beauty and I know I am in the presence of God. See Country Road Contemplative (also shared on Abbey of the Arts Monk in the World guest blog), The Same Two Trees, The Grandeur of God, Signs on Country Roads.

Using SoulCollage® to honor and remember friends and family is not just an option for me….I have to, I am compelled. This year I created cards and wrote about Cece, a grandma collageneighbor who was like a grandma to us (See Cece: A Snow Day Reflection); my own grandma Helen Blazek (pictured) and what I learned about faith from her (See Images of Faith); and about my friend Judy, part of our Circle (See Circle of Friends), who also passed away in 2015.

Reading “Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are” by Deidra Riggs was a surreal experience. Being neighbors by chance, and having as much in common as different, brought the exciting opportunity to be on the launch team for her first (and likely not last) book. (See It’s About Time We Start Sharing the Same Breath and Every Little Thing).

And of course, writing and reflecting on the power of images and creativity is my afavorite topic to write about–in my job as a teacher, in my spiritual life, leading retreats (especially Full Moon retreats!) and in reflecting on nature and the environment. (See We are Moons, Not Suns; Living in the Fullness of God; Praying with Scissors; Why I Teach; Earth Gratitude; We are Made in the Image of God;  A Picture Can Reveal The Soul)

Some of the topics I hope to write about in 2016 are Benedictine spirituality (including obedience, stability and conversion of life….and what all of that really means for a “monk in the world“), Lectio and Visio Divina prayer practice, creating and reflecting on Community Suit (friends and family) SoulCollage cards®, being a Catholic-Come-Home, the on-going decluttering process and using SoulCollage® to celebrate Earth Day! Whatever it is, I shall wait for the Divine nudge and then hit PUBLISH. We’ll see how it goes.

Thank you for following SoulFully You! May 2016 bring you joy, reflection, peace, creativity and love!  Blessings, Jodi

For the official WordPress report card, see link below.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,200 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

SoulFully You 2015 in Blogging Annual Report

 

It’s about time we start sharing the same breath.

prayer beautiful 2“You say a prayer in your religion, and I will say a prayer as I know it. Together we will say this prayer and it will be something beautiful for God.” -Mother Teresa

 When it comes right down to it, we pray the same way. All of us meet God in our breath.

“Sometimes breathing is the only prayer we can pray, and God hears our sigh and once again breathes the breath of life into us. We exhale, and it seems like such a little thing. But some days it is everything. It is communion—intimate and more than breathing oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. It is sacred and it is holy: this agreeing with God that we need God, for all of everything, and his joyful entering into our lives and ourselves and our very souls to make us one with him. We are gulping and breathing and sighing and gasping, and we realize our deep, deep hunger inside.” –Deidra Riggs, Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where We Are

One of the many troubling aspects of this week’s terrorism is the reminder of how little control we have in our life. Our first instinct is to build up walls of safety in our mind or our world—we plan, we change plans, we compulsively think, we reconsider. We realize we cannot control terrorists or anyone else.

We grieve this lack of control.  But, unless we want to travel down the road of fear, spinning circles in our own angst, we have to come to terms with this illusion of control. It is not something we have ever had. We cannot know when we will take our last breath.

Keep death daily before our eyes, Saint Benedict writes. (RSB, 4.47).  Being aware of and honoring our mortality may seem morbid, but it ultimately gives us freedom from fear and brings peace. This is the moment to moment surrendering of control that becomes our prayer.death before your eyes

We just need to breathe. This surrendering takes time; it is a practice.

“The breath is a primary example of how we cannot control our happiness despite our best efforts. Our bodies breathe automatically, without contrivance, clinging, over-thinking. The air is freely given. We can only realize our dependence upon the air that surrounds us and surrender to the gratuity of air coming and going….The Jews did not speak God’s name, but breathed it with an open mouth and throat: inhale–Yah; exhale–weh. By our very breathing we are speaking the name of God. This makes it our first and our last word as we enter and leave the world.” –Richard Rohr

We have in common that we breathe the same air, the “Yah-weh” breath that comes from God. We breathe the same air as the refugee, the terrorist, the Muslim, the Hindu or the Christian. Republican or Democratic. Liberal or conservative. Protestant or Catholic. We breathe the same air as those we disagree with and those we live with (and sometimes they are one and the same.)photo

It’s about time we start sharing the same breath. A beautiful example of this shared today- 
Five religions in Thailand send powerful message to people of Paris.

What can we do to stand next to the one who believes, speaks, looks differently? How can we in our ordinary lives honor that same breath of God in others?

My friend, Deidra, writes about her experience of growing up in a black church. “One of the richest traditions in the black church is what is known as call and response. When the preacher preaches, it is not one-way
communication. Preaching, in the black church tradition, is a beautiful dance between the pulpit and the pew with the Holy Spirit orchestrating the sacred exchange…Words like Amen or Hallelujah or Thank you Jesus or Preach are shouted out.”
#EveryLittleThingEveryLittleThing-DeidraRiggs-BookReview

Her church may be different than mine: call and response versus incense and sacraments; silence versus shouting. But what we both have in common, what we ALL have in common is that every little thing we do is for the benefit of the Body of Christ, the whole world, everyone who breathes the breath of God.

We are here to make a difference. 

I’ve been Catholic, charismatic, United Methodist, Benedictine and a Catholic-come-home. I practice contemplative prayer in the style of Zen. I am a Benedictine Oblate. I’ve been to Tarot card readers, psychics and mediums. There have been years where I gave God little thought. I’ve explored the writings of authors from a variety of perspectives and traditions: Buddhist, new-age, self-help, Catholic, Sufi and more. I write this to say:

This journey is my own. We each have our own spiritual journey, religious tradition, opinions, beliefs, family dynamics, traumatic experiences, country of origin and so on—but we all breathe the same breath of God.

We may not have control, but we hunger for peace despite our differences.

We want to make a difference, despite our differences.

Perhaps this can be one little thing we can do to help tear down walls and build peace.

Breathe in “Yah”. Breathe out “weh”.  And let there be peace on earth. May we honor the breath of God that flows through each of us.

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.”
~ Gandalf, Lord of the Rings

 

 

Every Little Thing!

Little things matter. A bunch of little things can make a difference, especially if it’s all the candy we eat in the weeks leading up to and following Halloween, which bumps into the weeks leading up to and following Thanksgiving…and then there’s all the Christmas parties… you get the idea. All the fun-sized, little snacks and treats can just plain add up on the scale.  Little things matter.

But little things can add up unexpectedly in big and good ways, too. The little things we do to take care of our physical, emotional and spiritual health can make a difference. The peaceful inhale and exhale of a contemplative prayer or meditation practice can sustain us when times are stressful. The little things we do for others can give comfort or show appreciation.

There are lots of little ways to make a big difference in the lives of people that we work, play and live with.

My former neighbor and friend, Deidra Riggs, wrote a book called Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are. Deidra found herself living in Nebraska, having moved here for her husband’s job, but not liking it one bit. Right where she was, was not where she wanted to be.

I started planning my escape. I wanted out. Not through. As far as I could tell, Nebraska was the very worst place to live in all the world”, she writes. Continue reading “Every Little Thing!”

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