By 9:00 AM, July 6th, 2007….

By 9:00 AM, July 6th….

July 6th, 2007 was the start of my second weekend. I walked in having completed my goals and asking myself did I play too small. Were those goals really the goals that would have moved me forward the best? What else could I have done? What else could I have chosen instead?

I was also questioning whether I played full out or not. One of my teammates and my buddy did not come back for second weekend. What could I have done, what did I miss that could have gotten them there? How could I have made it happen? I totally owned that as I walked into second weekend. It is typical of how I looked at life, always judging myself not by what I did but what I could have done. No breaks for me, no rest. It doesn’t help that when I take all that onto my shoulders I go into complete rebellion mode and don’t want to do ANYTHING. And… I made my goals.

I also learned something else. The week and half before second weekend I was sending out daily e-mails with anything I could think of to get my teammates over the wall. Inspiration, encouragement, questions, visual aids, anything that may be that one last thing that would have it all drop into place for them. What I learned about myself during that week and half was that my words could inspire. I learned that no matter what I believed, my creativity still lay inside of me – waiting for the spring sunshine and rainfall to emerge into life again and blossom without. I learned that my talent was not confine to paint and canvas but flowed out of my pores and into what ever I choose to touch. I learned to breathe again.

That was one year ago. One complete orbit of the earth around the sun, back to the beginning of the circle for yet another loop. Here we are again and what’s changed? Was it worth the money, time, tears, frustration and revelations that came? Would I ever choose to go back to who I was before? What is different? What is the same? Who am I now?

I can never go back to who I was before. Sometimes I can pretend that I could go back. Inside I know the truth. I can never unlearn what was learned then. Awareness is the first step and once I have that awareness I can never undo it. It’s that little rock that you get in your shoe but don’t want to stop to take it out. Once you feel it you can not ever forget that it’s there. So whatever happens from now on out – I can never go back.

Nor do I want to you, although there are times that this new me scares me and confuses me. Some of what I learned and some of the beliefs I am exploring make me wonder if I am crazy. But I smile more and laugh more and sometimes I am more tolerant. That is awareness I am still cultivating and expanding. I said to my husband a few days ago, as we lay in bed and I finally realized what I had been feeling inside of me for a while was, “I’m having so much FUN!” Both during my camp and during my training as a team leader I was given the “task” of doing something fun for me. And, man o man, both times it was challenge to come up with things. Now I don’t have to because I’m having fun with life. It is an amazing feeling – freeing and grounding at the same time. That in and of itself was worth the price of admission.

I did not transform the most in camp. No, that happened later, during my time as a team leader and training for that part. However, camp set that ground work. Within my camp experience I learned to challenge my beliefs and learned to allow myself the room to say “No” to what I choose not to accept into my life. I learned to be grounded into my truth and to allow others to be grounded in theirs. I learned that I matter, that what I want matters. I learned that my voice and my wisdom could make a difference in someone else’s life. I learned to say “I don’t know and I am still here to support you.” I learned to ask for support and that doesn’t mean I’m weak and helpless, it just means I need help. And that my asking for that help was a way to bless someone else. That was a huge revelation for me. By allowing myself to be supported I was giving a blessing to someone else. I learned that my husband lived his life in true choice while I took all the responsibility for our lives and as weight upon my shoulders because “someone had to do it”. (OK. Still working on that one. I freely admit I get totally pissed off when he still chooses not to pick up after himself or has to be told to help out around the house. Yeah, I KNOW – “What can I shift into?” So chalk that one up to one of things that didn’t change as much as I would have liked.) The biggest thing I learned in my camp experience was this. My life is what I choose to make it. Every day. Every moment. And I am always, always, always exactly where I need to be.

Have I “arrived”? Hell, no and I don’t want to. If it’s this much fun going through the journey why would I want to arrive at the destination? “Arrival” is just one more step, one more layer pulled back to reveal something else, one more thing to learned, one more growth to take. One next step. Who knows what will come my way next? It’s all good.

I can’t say that after camp I thought truly camp was worth it. One year later I can. Financially we are still the same and I am choosing something different for the years to come. Emotionally, spiritually and mentally things are so much better for me. So much more, well… solid. Rock solid you might say. On the way to being unconsciously competent, you could also say. Like I said – well worth the price of admission.

So… one year later I ask myself did I play small? Did I play full out? Maybe and maybe not and I choose to let myself off the hook if I did not. I played the best I knew how in that moment, at that time. I can honestly say as a team leader for 14, I played completely and totally full out and the ground work for that was, again, set in my own camp. Was there some other goals that would have served me? HA! That I asked that questions then shows how far I still had to travel. As with everything in camp – I got exactly what I needed. Exactly. You’ve come and long way, baby, and got a long way to go! Life is camp and camp is life.

Well worth the price of admission

I am. This is my spirituality.

There are no coincidences. I was told my purpose. I use the word told here intentionally. The words were spoken clearly to me, as if someone was standing besides me. “Show them the Way.” Less than 48 hours later, we were given an Aikido demonstration and a sheet with the words of “O Sensei” regarding his budo or “the way”. Sometimes I don’t see the possibilities and I need to be hit upside the head with a 2 x 4 to get the message. The red/black game comes to mind. Not this time. This time I got it. I just didn’t act upon it.

I had a big black gaping hole in my life. My spirituality was lacking. I believed I was spiritual but it wasn’t a defined spirituality. “I believe in God but I just don’t believe in religion” was my typical respond when asked about religion. I love the community aspect of church, the feeling of belonging. I want that back in my life. I just wasn’t to keen on the philosophies of the religions I had been exposed too since childhood.

The god of my childhood was a relentless, avenging spirit. One who was forgiving but who thought everything was a sin. If you weren’t in church and you were enjoying life you were sinning. If you ask for forgiveness, it was granted but if you did the same thing again it was ten times worse. God was a weapon of guilt and shame to use against child to get them to do something that they didn’t want to do, clean your room, eat your vegetable, don’t argue with one another. It was a restless, avenging god who saw everything and was waiting for someone to screw up so he could prove how much he loved you by forgiving you. No. I didn’t want that god back in my life.

After much and many annoying discussions around goals and the goals behind the goals, all well needed I’m sure, it was decided my goal would be to attend 8 Aikido classes. The physical act of Aikido was not what I was looking for, it was the spiritual beliefs. However, sometimes you have to sing the song and do the dance before you actually understand the music. So I signed up for lessons and purchased a book on the spiritual foundations of Aikido.

The beliefs of “O Sensei” have only been hinted at in my classes. I see it in the way the Sensei moves. I see it in the dance between the one doing the technique and the one receiving the technique. Both parties learn in this give and take and are essential to moving forward in the art. However, what I have learned so far about the spiritual aspects of this art has come from a book. Sometimes, however, you still need to do the dance.

So here I am, 9 weeks later and 9 classes attended. What have I gained? What have I learned? I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to make myself go to class. I never guessed how sore my body would be and how physically drained I would be those first few classes. I didn’t think I would resist it so much. I resist the time it takes from my life. I resist the demands it puts on my body. I resist the reality it makes my face about where I am in my life. What have I gained? What have I learned?

“O Sensei” has said that Aikido is a way of aligning the mind, body and spirit, a way of bringing them into harmony. This has also been reinforced with other things I have been learning. I have started the practice of “Primordial Sound Meditation” as recommended by Deepak Chopra. The practice is to align the mind, body, soul and spirit. There are no coincidences. This alignment has been hinted at and referred to by all the teachers that have been coming into my life lately. Dr Wayne Dyer, Dr Deepak Chopra, Dr Doreen Vitrue, Rhonda Byrne and, of course, Klemmer and Associates.

But what does that mean for me? All these teaching and learnings and insights are meaningless unless I can apply them to where I am in my life. What is the way? What am I to show and how does that relate to my spirituality? What do I believe? Where does my faith lie? All these questions. I have been in the questions and have not tried to force an answer. Well, for the most part I have not tried to force an answer. I’m ready now to try and crystallize what this way means for me.

My belief is that “The Way” is one of peace, harmony, balance and beauty. These are the aspects that I need to bring into my beingness, therefore bring into the world, for me to show the “The Way”. Which is stupendously wonderful but what do these words – peace, harmony, balance, and beauty – mean to me? How are they going to be defined in my life? How will they transform my beingness and my actions? Ok. One at a time

Balance. I believe there are five areas in my life. One is the physical and material. This is my health, my body and my possessions. Another area is my career or my work. This is, for right now, my job and my art which I want to make into my career. The next area is service or contribution. This is what I can do for others and for my world environment. Another area is social. My interactions with others, my relationships, and the things I do to have fun and be entertained. The fifth is intellect. This is what I am learning to help my growth. It is my mind. It is the logical part of me. The spiritual aspect of my life is what lies beneath all of them. It is the palm of a hand that binds together the fingers together and makes the whole work as one. Balance, for me, is when all of these areas are equally important and when I’m doing something for each daily. That’s balance.

Harmony. Harmony is when all the area of my life come together to serve one purpose. It is when what I am inside and what I show to the outside world are this same. Harmony is knowing and accepting where I am, at this moment, in this world and in my life is exactly where I need to be.

Peace. There are so many definitions of peace now, the most prevailing being the absence of war. Peace is more the just the absence of something. It is something that is felt inside. I feel it when I look at the ocean or the night sky. What is that feeling inside representing? It is when I am in balance with my world and when I am in complete harmony with myself and my environment. It is being completely present within myself and the world. That is peace.

Beauty. How to describe beauty? How do I say what it is, what it means to me? Again I know it. It is a feeling in my heart but how do I describe it. How do I tell someone what beauty feels like? I’m at a loss. I know it and can show it but I can’t describe it. Maybe it is the combination of balance, harmony and peace manifested into the physical world. What I feel is my spirit echoing the combination that has been made real. I will have to leave it as described as a manifestation in the physical world of the combination of balance, harmony and peace. That is the best I can describe beauty to me.

So how does all this relate to my spirituality?

Dr. Wayne Dyer says in his book “10 secrets for success and inner peace” to live your life without judgments and labels. No judgments on yourself and no judgments on others. Are not beauty and peace also judgements? As I pondered this I thought “What is left when all the labels are stripped away?”. After all, if you think about it, even your name could be considered to be a label that defines you. Celina Brooks is the daughter of Ted and Mary Brooks, sister of Chris. Celina McMahon is the wife of Jim McMahon. So what is left when all labels, definitions and judgments are gone? What is truly left?

I AM. I AM is what is left. I am. I have always been. I will always be.

There is no need for labels. There is no need for approvals, for being right, for being wrong. There is no need for frustrations and angry. There is no need for struggles and hardship. I am. All I need to know is inside of me; it has been since the first moment of conception. All I need to know will still be inside me when this physical manifestation of my spiritual being falls to dust around me and I move towards my next beingness. All I want is already there in my spirit and is awaiting my will to be manifest physically. I am.

My spirituality is the knowingness that I am a piece and part of the Divine being that is God/dess. It is the knowingness that all people are a part of that Being. We are all connected energy, connected spirit, connected souls. When I pray, I bring all that I AM back into alignment with this Being. When I meditate then same thing happens. When I look into the eyes of a stranger and see myself looking back, then I know I am truly walking on “The Way”. Balance, harmony, peace and beauty are the guide posts I will use to see my steps. I will follow the stirrings of my heart to keep to my path.

That is peace. That is beauty. That is harmony. That is balance. The knowingness, to the depths of soul, that I AM.

My cathedral will be the open sky and the earth beneath my feet. My alter will be the slender white birch trees and the gray hard rocks. My hymns will be the call of the birds, the song of the river and the voices of my neighbors. All whom I meet will be part of my congregation and my God/dess will have no judgments and labels. He/She will accept all who come forward. All who try and learn who and what they were meant to be, all who strive to become one with the Divine being. All who walk the path of goodness and light will be welcomed and embraced.

I AM. This is my spirituality.

In love and light, Celina