Vibes UP! Spiritual Alchemy for (R)evolutionaries on the Path

Loving wisdom words and insights about the death, rebirth and life of a criminal justice professor turned transformative justice and spiritual talker and walker. We are on this earth plane to give and receive LOVE, to play and experience JOY! It's really all about the journey of the HEART and the process of becoming the beautiful Truth of who we are: LOVING VIBES IN ACTION! Elevate and vibrate your Lifeforce! Be LOVE! Namaste!


February 2011

Weather… fine tuning ones spiritual practice

Ever have those conversations about the weather?  You know, the ones where your parents will ask you, “So, what’s the weather like?”  For some people, this is just conversation filler.  For my parents, they really want to know!  At least I think they do.  I guess in some people’s lives, the weather is really important.  If your employment depends on it–say, road conditions– then yes, it would be important.  For me, the weather became significant when I bought my house.  Living in a community at almost 4,000 ft. elevation and in a home surrounded by tall trees, I knew that I needed to be concerned with things like snow, ice, and wind.  So, before we moved in, I subscribed to the Weather Channel’s online email updates.  I did this specifically because we needed to get a new heater installed, and the company said that in order for them to put in it, they needed to have our roof clear of snow.  That particular winter, Pollock Pines witnessed storm after storm.  I was beginning to think that we’d never get that heater installed!  But, lo and behold, we did.  The snow storms paused for a moment to allow the heater guys to come in and remove the old heater and replace it with a real nice one.  It took awhile, but it eventually happened.

And that is the thing about weather.  In  a way, it is like Step 1 in 12-Step Programs: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol….”  In this case, we can admit that we are powerless over the weather.  However, in admitting that powerlessness, we claim our power.  Our power lies in the choices we make, each and ever day.  Despite the weather, we can choose a peaceful, patient attitude or one that is grumpy and gloomy.  I have met some people whose attitudes change with the direction of the wind–literally.  If it is warm and sunny outside, they are cheerful, relaxed, and enjoying life.  But as soon as the rains move in, forget it.  It’s all doom and gloom.  “Ah, the weather totally sucks!”  they’ll say.  I’ll cop to it; I used to be one of those people, to some extent.  If it rained, my attitude would be a little darker than it would be if it were a bright sunny day.  But now, I am realizing that the weather has no power over me, my mood, what I am feeling, what I am doing…. There is choice in every moment, and like Ernest Holmes, the founder of Science of Mind says, “We can always choose again.”  I just love that!  So, yes, in life, there are ‘rewinds’ or ‘do-overs.’  An abusive ex-girlfriend once told me that in life, there were no second chances.  Once you did or said something, it was ‘out there,’ and you couldn’t take it back.  You couldn’t press the rewind button.  To a certain extent, that may hold some truth, but in life, there ARE second chances; and third and fourth and so one.  We always can choose– again.

The weather–like life itself–is a wonderful teacher.  I did not pay much attention to this teacher in my youth and early adulthood, as I viewed it something that influenced my mood and my life, generally.  But now, I see that the weather, like everything else around us, is made of the stuff of life.  Just like weeds in a garden that we try to eradicate.  Once we get to the point where we realize we can choose our attitude, that we run life and not allow life to run us, that we have unlimited power at our fingertips.  In the Buddhist tradition, specifically in the Four Noble Truths, they teach the notion that attachment is suffering, and the way out of suffering is detachment or non-resistance to ‘what is.’  Applying this concept to the weather, we can accept what is and then make a choice.  We realize, in that very moment that the power is with us and by not resisting the stuff of life, that we do not have to suffer anymore.  Sure, I prefer the sun over endless days of rain–or snow, for that matter–but rainy days no longer make a difference to me in terms of how I am feeling.  My choices around the day’s activities may be different than they would be if it were a sunny day, but the point is that I have the power to choose.

So, let the weather be your teacher. It is a remarkable mentor.  Patience, acceptance, non-resistance to what is, self-empowerment.  Those are all wonderful tools to have in one’s spiritual toolbox, assisting us along the journey of life.

Namaste, Sue



Training runs…

Okay, so some of you know that I have committed to run CIM (California International Marathon), which is held annually in the greater Sacramento area in the beginning of December.  This will be my very first marathon ever!  I think the longest I have ever run was a half marathon (13.1 miles) in March 2007– the Shamrockn’ Half.  To be completely honest here, I did not run all of the 13.1 miles… I ran about 10 of them and walked the last 3.1 across the finish line.  My partner, Sylvia, completed it with me, though I think she could have actually finished it, running all 13.1 miles.  I am always sure to add that .1 in there because, hey, we runners want to account for each every mile, down to the 10th of a mile!  It matters, okay 🙂 Since that half marathon, I had not really done much running.  In mid-late 2007, I had turned to cycling as my exercise outlet, while still occasionally going to the gym for strength training with the weights.  I decided to join the local Leukemia and Lymphoma Team In Training to do my first century– the Tour de Tucson (which actually turned out to be 109 miles, but hey, who’s counting, right? Yes, you know… ME!  Those extra 9 miles really mattered to my brain and my butt!).  That was a phenomenal experience, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Though I no longer keep in touch with any of my cycle team members, I recall each of them fondly as I reflect back on those training and fundraising days.  I really challenged myself on so many levels.  Even thinking about it now, I am still in awe that I raised over $3,700 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society AND I road proudly across the finish line, sore butt and all!  It was an experience I will never forget, and if anyone out there reading this is considering a challenge like this (there are others: Susan G. Komen 5K run for breast cancer and the NorCal AIDs Ride (cycling), to name a couple), I encourage you to do it.  You CAN do it!  You do not have to be a star athlete, or even athletic for that matter, to do it.  Just a little heart, soul, and some grunts and Gu and you’re on your way 🙂

Just after I finished Tour de Tucson and the hype and celebration had calmed down, I embarked on another adventure into real estate, where I bought my first house in Pollock Pines, which is at 3,980 ft. elev.  The story of this house will be saved for a separate blog, but pointing out the elevation is relevant to this post on exercise, running, and cycling specifically.  Moving to the mountains, albeit beautiful to the eyes and clean air to breathe, has not been too enticing to me in terms of exercising for the first few years we lived here.  I had done some cycling around the area in Pollock Pines and in Apple Hill (Camino), but to be honest, it was not enjoyable.  I mean, sure, the scenery is spectacular of course, and who wouldn’t enjoy a pit stop at Boa Vista Orchards in Placerville for some freshly made apple cider, a tri-tip sandwich, and/or fresh fruit?  What gets to me is the perpetual ups and downs of the ride.  It is nothing like the long rides along the American River Bike Trail, that’s for sure!  (plus riding up here makes the AR Bike Trail seem like nothing)  I will say that riding up here is good for hill and resistance training, but for everyday rides, no way.  Sylvia says she enjoys the hills.  I say, rock on, er, ride on, sista!  I will do it, but not often.  I’ll have to swallow the ever-increasing gas prices and just truck on down the hill to the Sac State Aquatic Center or old town Folsom…. which is fine with me.

As for running, well… recall that I have not done much running at all since March 2007.  I never did any running up here in the ‘Pines until last year.  But hey, it is a new year, now 2011, and I have begun a different kind of journey– the running kind.  After being inspired by my friend Carolina and her participation and completion of CIM this past December, I decided, that day, to commit to training and completing it in 2011.  For my birthday, Carolina, Tamara, and Liezel bought my entry into CIM as well as some essential gear for my training journey: a new water bottle waist pack with a place for my phone (I can now run with tunes and still not have to wear those stupid ear buds.. does anyone else out there despise those things? Anywho…), socks, and vaseline and blister band-aid thing-ies.  Now that I am all ‘geared up,’ my training has begun in earnest.  I started out slowly, doing my usual loop along Pony Express Trail, which is about 4 miles round trip (up and back).  I have now expanded that to 7 miles!  I even took Brady, our golden retriever, on my recent 7 mile trek this past Saturday, and it was a magical run…. He did so well, trotting along beside me and in front of me, and then he passed right out when we got home that night!  Sylvia wanted to know how soon we could both do that again.  We’ve been dealing with his nuisance barking for awhile now… another issue for another post.

This week, we’ll be having a lot of rain and maybe some snow, so the outdoors running will be a little tricky.  I am thinking I will have to go ahead and brave the elements and get out there and do it.  Considering that CIM is in December each year, one never knows what the weather will be like.  Some years, that day has been absolutely gorgeous: cool with sun; other years have seen torrential downpours.  It’s kind of like life: expect the best, prepare for the worst.

Probably the best thing about this whole running experience though has been how it has influenced my spiritual growth.  Running for me is meditative.  It takes me out of any mental rut I might be in and puts me into my happy place.  I can meditate on a mantra with each step, whether it be ‘Om’ or whatever, and the run just seems to zip on by.  Being out in nature also does wonders for my soul.  With each step, I feel God’s presence around me, supporting me as I move along my path.  I connect in Oneness with the trees, shrubs, everything around me.  It is a wonderful feeling.  I am feeling stronger each time I venture out, and I am enjoying my runs in the hills for now.  I truly enjoy the physical challenge each run brings, and I am looking forward to more.  Bring it!

Namaste, Sue

Hello world!

Hello everyone! Well, this is my very first adventure in blogging. I am not sure if the world needs yet another blogger, another blog, more things to read on the internet, but I have been thinking, what the heck?!  As many great thinkers, past and present, have written, it does us and others no good to live our lives small.  So, here I am, living out loud, living my life boldly, by putting stuff out there: my thoughts, my musings about my life in Pollock Pines with our now 8 animals, and my path from the darkness of alcoholism to the light of sobriety, and a slow, loving, compassionate process of spiritual awakening.  On that, to me, enlightenment, or a Great Awakening, is more or less a journey of the soul, not a final destination.  Many of us are a part of the wider evolutionary process of expanding out our consciousness.  But, to be honest, I do not think we reach an end point.  It is kind of like death.  When we die, we begin again, and again and again and again.  At least that is how things look on my map of the world.  Not right, not wrong.  It just “is.”

So, to tell you a little about who I am and why I have decided to create this blog…. Okay, well, for starters, I am a Professor of Criminal Justice in the Division of Criminal Justice at California State University, Sacramento, where I have been teaching since 1999.  It was my first real job, and I have decided to keep it.  I left for a brief period of time to try out what life was like in an “8 to 5” State kind of job, but that was not working for me.  I am a “color outside the lines” kind of grrl; I like my flexibility, and I do not appreciate having someone breathing down my neck, more interested in whether I am 1 or 2 minutes late than my progress on the project.  So, I left that after 6 months to return to university life where I felt more at home.  I love working with students, seeing them grow and learn, and then finally graduate.  Sure, the job market is not “all that” right now, but things are cyclical, as I believe, and the jobs will be there when the time is right for the graduates to enter them.  I also enjoy working with my colleagues in various capacities, whether it is research, personnel issues, assessment, our graduate program, and on and on and on.  Though it can be stressful, university employment has served me well, and the bottom line is that I really have no complaints about it.  Well, I COULD complain, but what good would THAT do?  Well… hey, maybe that is why I am blogging! Haha!

Right now, I am on sabbatical for the entire Spring 2011 semester, and I have to say… why did not do this sooner??!!  We faculty can apply for a sabbatical after 6 years, so typically, once one becomes tenured and then promoted to Associate Professor, one will go on sabbatical.  Well, my version of that sabbatical was to take a professional leave of absence and work for the great State of California, to which I alluded to above.  I worked for 6 months as a Research Analyst II for the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, beginning in February 2005.  I had recently become sober in July 2004, and thought for some reason that this job was “my destiny;” it was “meant to be.”  Well… not exactly.  Suffice it to say, it did not work out, but I learned A LOT: about myself, about working in a state office, being a state employee, what “8-5” feels and looks like (not my kind of ‘art’), and I learned all about methamphetamine and other drugs, drug treatment programs and databases and the like.  So, all in all, it was a great learning experience.  I also met some really wonderful people in that department and in my office!

For this current, and real, sabbatical, I am working on a manuscript which I plan to submit to a peer review journal sometime in the spring.  It focuses on animals as victims and their absence from the field of victimology and past and current victimology texts.  More on this later in another post, but that is what I am working on… for the most part.  With this sabbatical, I also have time for other pursuits, more spiritual in nature, which I am truly enjoying.  I will also elaborate on this in another post, but I am currently taking courses to become a Licensed Religious Science Practitioner, or spiritual counselor, which I find to be a more accessible term.  I feel as though that this is my true calling in life and did not realize it until sometime in April 2009 when I began searching for a place, a church or center, I could call my spiritual home.  After some searching in the El Dorado County area, I found Mountainside Center for Spiritual Living, and ever since coming to that Center and meeting the minister and people there, my life has not been the same.  I am now on their Board of Trustees and volunteer every Sunday in some capacity.  I just love it.  The “religion” is Science of Mind (or Religious Science), which is a faith, a philosophy, and a way of life according to founder Ernest Holmes.  It supports the notion of Oneness, that we all may be on different paths but are headed to the same Source (Many Paths, One God).  Anyway, for me, this teaching works, and I will speak more about it in future posts, primarily how it is helping me in my daily life.

Well, I guess this is it for now for a welcome post!  I wish all of you well and bless you on your path.  My goal for this blog is to get out, in hypertext (I almost said “on paper!”), a lot of thoughts I have had and currently have about all sorts of things and, hopefully, have a dialog with others who are interested in what I have to say, are on a similar path, or have some words of wisdom to offer me.  I truly am a student of life as well as a teacher; we all are, every one of us.  There is something to be learned from each person we meet, from each experience we have on a daily basis.  I am looking forward to this new adventure in cyberspace!

Namaste, Sue

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