Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Walking the Line Between Religion and Freedom

 

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I don’t own the rights to this photo but I wish I owned the rights to this guy in it.

 

Last night I went out with a friend to see Australia’s Thunder from Down Under. And this made me think, I am just kidding, I wasn’t thinking about much of anything at the show except how good looking those men were and how much fun I was having. I screamed the entire evening. Conversation and laughter, food and the flirts from the opposite sex, none of my same race, but thankfully of the human race (same race lol ) was quite refreshing. A bit bewildered as I was definitely rocking my natural zig zaggy coiled red hair. Not society’s definition of good hair or beautiful hair. I decided to post some photos and my whereabouts. Anyone who truly knows me, which are few, know I like to take walks on what I call the wild side. My wild side is pretty tame compared to most I suppose. I have no need to compare though others do. Shrugs.

So, I know that social media is a rumor mill, gossip train, for the small minded and the super religious. In my world, you don’t get to do too many things and still be called a Christian by Christians or by non-Christians. I find that amusing. I know there is a definition and in keeping with a Christ like spirit but, do we blot out and mute our own spirit until we are martyred? Solemn? Sad? Unhappy? Blank slate? Dull? Robots? Mindless Sheep? Then why give so many diverse personalities, life journeys, backgrounds…woosah.  I am 43. I have taken a few intentional journeys since turning 40. And the more I clear my own path I have no need to be called anything by anyone. I have no worries if I will be able to speak at a church, in a church, do work in a church, etc. and etc. The burden of “Oh, if you do that, you may mess up someone else’s walk or you could lead someone else down the wrong path” has been given a TRUE revelation to my eyes.

Hey, I like rules in relations to right and wrong. Do no harm. I don’t think all rules should bend to fit one person’s religion but, society as a whole.  I don’t like being confined. I don’t like being bound. I don’t like others defining me. I like to tell you who I am and what I am about. I think God knows me better than anyone and reveals myself to me throughout life. I am right on the edge of being completely free. I wasn’t happy at the larger nondenominational church I was at but, I was being fed good spiritual food for my soul at that time. I was called back into a time warp the last year to help my home church and I am there now. I am there to assist, plant seeds, serve in and the community, to grow more in patience, grace, and mercy and to eventually leave the church but, never to leave God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. It’s the only way I’ll be able to live a life of freedom without religious chains. I prefer worship in spirit and in truth.

~Nikki

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Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Suicide, Self Love, Love for Others and The Creator’s Love

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With two people I admire in the world, Kate Spade for her vibrant fashion and Anthony Bourdain for his honesty, adventurous spirit, and good looks, gone through the chosen vehicle of suicide, I had to speak up and out just a little bit louder.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say and what I wanted to share. Let me start by saying from experience, depression is hard to live with. From experience, anxiety is hard to live with. From hands on experience with mentally challenged adults, bipolar disorder is very hard to live with. I feel as though people who “just don’t understand” it, don’t want to understand it. They don’t want to take the time to understand it because Google is right at their fingertips for everything else they don’t understand. If they can read, comprehend, then they can understand depression and anxiety. There are different types of depression and anxiety.

I’ve attempted suicide at least three times in my life and I use to think about it all of the time. Society didn’t make it better. Being African American made it worse. Anxiety and Depression is “crazy talk” in my community. We are slowly coming around to understanding that many of us, many African Americans, many people in our family, past and present, lived with untreated depression and anxiety. All because of the stigma that African Americans are strong and we don’t get depressed or have these mental issues that White people have. This is the dialogue I was fed for years. I think to myself, “Right, because slavery alone couldn’t have carried any long term, generational, mental and emotional consequences. And not to add just being a part of the human race alone and living life…nah, we couldn’t possibly show any signs of mental and behavioral disfunction. We made it through slavery, civil rights fights and Jim Crow laws, of course none of that affected any of us. And if we can make it through that how could we have depression and anxiety. Right?” Wrong.

There is so much I could I delve into but, the main things I want to convey is how I stay anchored to this Earth living with depression and anxiety. I went from not knowing I had it, to denying that I had it, to acknowledging I had it but, dealing with it on my own for years to finding a good psychologist that helped me understand depression and anxiety. In the midst of all that I took a journey of self love. A true and growing, deep, deep dive into self love coupled by actions that proved I loved myself that moved beyond manicures, pedicures, and shopping. It involves making choices that reflect my love of self and always remembering that “Self love is self preservation.” Self preservation also involves preserving my peace of mind and body.

Somewhere in this journey I began to understand and to feel God’s love for me. Oh I song it as a child, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” But, could I feel it? I couldn’t. I couldn’t understand it either. How could God possibly love me and allow all of these bad things to happen to me? It was not until I began to understand love from a Higher Power is different from this earthly love. It wasn’t until I began to make sense out what it is to have life and what is life. I am talking about what makes sense to me and not what others have fed me. I gathered my own information about life from a spiritual perspective and learning hard lessons from my own poor choices and just life experiences. It wasn’t until I started looking for my purpose. It wasn’t until I realized that my perception of life and it’s meaning was personal and universal. It wasn’t until I realized my idea of life will change and broaden. It wasn’t until I had a solid perception of death. It wasn’t until I understood that in order to feel God’s love I had to have a personal and deep relationship with God and that my relationship with God wouldn’t look like the church or others told me it would or should look like. God, the Creator, the Universe, loves me and that love is greater than the love I have for myself and the love that others have or do not have for me. Other’s not having love for me, falling out of love with me, does not give me a right to take my life. My precious life. Nothing, no pain, no tragedy, none of these illusions that make me think I can’t handle it, gives me a right to take my life. Not anymore. I didn’t say I don’t think about it, I said it does not give me a right. I choose life.

But it gives me understanding, why others do.  It gives me compassion for their souls. And I do not see them as weak. I see them as strong, fighting all of this time. I see them as not understanding things as I do or as others do. They are not me. I am not them. We do not, did not, will not, have the same experiences and carry them in the same way. We have other factors that weigh in. It is not my call. It is not my trial to judge. And I don’t do sending people to hell well either for suicide.

All of the love, all of the sadness, all of the inspiration from these two souls, that touched people from all over the world, they couldn’t see it or feel it. They couldn’t see it or feel it from their own friends, associates, and family. I couldn’t either. So, I understand what it’s like to be blind to all that is around you, to walk empty and to smile, to go through life like a robot. I understand how pain and not knowing how to deal with it, manage it, thinking irrationally, can send you to the edge over and over and over. So many things factor in. Too many unseen and unspoken for me to judge.

I anchor myself with love for myself (which includes therapy!), love for others, and love from God. I unhook that anchor sometimes…I get out there in the deep, but love…one or all of these loves bring me back in.

~Nikki

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Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: My Free Spirit vs Church, Religions, & The Conscious Crowd

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Contrary to popular belief, the free spirit does abide by rules and understands the need for rules in society and other entities. However, I can’t tell you how difficult it is when those rules confines your spirit, puts out your fire, and makes you reel with anguish. Almost, on the verge of quitting or ending a commitment. I think about quitting church quite often. When I make this statement, religious people go nuts and the conscious crowd cheers. I think to myself, hey,  I’m not too fond of some of your rules either.

I don’t think I am without some biases. I don’t think I am perfect. I think I am just myself. I’d rather worship God in spirit and in truth whether that be in a building or nature or at home. However, a free spirit needs community and community needs the free spirit. If only to set others free. I am labeled not a free spirit but, a rebel of some sort most of the time. I can see that! I own that. Especially, when I challenge a rule or break a rule. I am “making trouble” they say. I say I am just trying to “make sense” because you are really cramping my style, productivity, freedom, well being, happiness, and creativity.

Some rules should never change and some rules are meant to be changed as society or an organization changes or supposingly grows. I often think the reason a church or business may not see growth is because they are stuck on outdated rules (principles) and this is the way we have always did it. But heck, if it’s putting us to sleep or the competition is doing better…what in your mind doesn’t prompt you to CHANGE THE RULES OR CHANGE METHODS? Pride for the church and holding on to positions. Mindset of those in charge for businesses and holding on to positions. Change is good they say but, change can be slow and painful and some changes will not take place in my lifetime on Earth. And some changes make no sense s we have seen on a job coming from the higher ups that seem to be high when they make these “changes” the workers no will not work. Obviously, they are too high up to consult with us lowly workers (rolls eyes here). No way we could be smarter than they are due to our position.

So, here I am on a Sunday morning debating on whether to go to church or not. And it’s not just the church I attend (I have to state that because some people read my blog are members and ex members and they like controversy).  I get a phone call in the middle of this post asking if I can bring the highlights of Sunday School. Well, let me go get dressed.

~Nikki

 

Morning Self Pep Talk: You Can’t Turn This Train Around

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Illustration by Megan Hess

Morning Pep Talk to Self: “Ain’t no turning this train around. Where you gonna turn it around at? On the side of some mountain (problem/situation)? To turn this train around in the midst of adversity would be disastrous. To lose faith, give up, right now, right here would be a major set back. Power through baby. Full speed ahead.” -Nicole to Nicole

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Daily Readings & Reading to Keep Your Mind

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Reading while sipping a morning coffee

If you seem to be off track in your thinking and emotions, if you are questioning life, if anxiety is running wild and depression is on the prowl, I am going to ask you what was asked of me: Are you reading anything that keeps you grounded or growing? Well, it wasn’t asked of me like that but, that’s how I took it. And my answer was: “No. I haven’t “felt” like reading.” This coming from an author and avid reader.

Well, pick up a daily devotional and take a moment to read it and as you go about your day reflect. If you are like me, one with a heavily distracted mind as of late, I have to read it a few times through out the day. I feel like I am cleaning the cobwebs out of my mind or third eye. I also have a really good thought provoking book that I want to get into and I am going to after getting back into the routine of daily reading and meditating more.

Each year God or Spirit directs me to books to buy and some I just find interesting. I never know when I am going to read some of them but, I know when the time is right those books are for me. This year, the one I am using as a daily devotion  and for my “43: All is Well Within Journey” is this one:

God's Healing Power

I also have decided to start back taking key points that resonate with me or I want to remember and put them on my mirror. I can focus on them as I do my morning routine or nightly routine. Reading something significant helps improve your mind and spirit.  If you can improve your mind (mental state/health) and spirit, you can improve your quality of life.

~Nikki

Turning 43. It is Well Within Me.

Yesterday I turned 43.

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For the past 3 years I have been struggling, wrestling with life and gaining this invaluable wisdom. I often have to create happiness and it doesn’t come easy in the trenches of this journey. However, something about 43 seems promising and that in itself makes me feel effortlessly really, really good about 43. I feel this easy optimism concerning my life. There has always been a light at the end of the tunnel and as I say I am the light in the tunnel. I think I am just closer and I can feel fresh wind. I can breathe fresh air. Soon, I will have a 360 degree view of a better life and more work to do as I build something new.

And what I also feel about 43 is the fullness of the responsibility and freedom of this is my life. I choose. You don’t choose. My religion doesn’t choose. I choose. I get to boldly live it. I get to boldly do it. Psalms 43 talks about a vindication by God. I am feeling I just may very well be vindicated by God and if I can be vindicated by God then what would I need with anyone’s approval? Whew….

43. This odd number. This oddly refreshing stage. This reset. This work of manifest destiny. This optimism. This love by design and choice. This freestyle. This get all back and make some more. This nope, I don’t want that. This nope, I don’t want to do that. This nope, I change my mind. This yes, above all things I prosper and be in peace.

I call 43-“The Journey is Well Within.” Enough soul work has been done so that I might LIVE peacefully among myself. Yet, until we leave this realm there will be more to do.

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~Nikki

Meditation

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Meditation means focusing my attention on aspects of eternal truth. -Jayanti God’s Healing Power,  Finding Your True Self Through Meditation

~Nikki