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Let’s Just Drive…Away

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Happy Wanderer.”

It’s time…actually it’s way over due. A road trip is the only thing that can cure this need for escape; this lust for adventure; this hunger for new vistas; this thirst for conquest; this drive to nowhere; this drive to everywhere. To the land where clocks and calendars and phones have no power, to distract, to cast and reel the breath of life out of me.

I need to get in the car and drive…away…fast…without a rear view mirror. Where will I go? It doesn’t matter…north, south, east, west? Pick one. What? Only one? I want them all!  What shall I pack? I don’t need much…my joggers, a GPS, some music, gas in the tank, money in the wallet, pedal to the metal…away I go in a cloud of dust. Destination? Nowhere just yet, anywhere but here. Time of arrival? Depends on when I run out of go; out of drive; out of stress. It depends on all those things that push and propel me to get in the car and drive away. How many hours? How many days? Oh what luxury to drive to anywhere for weeks on end before being recalled to the place of my beginning. Such fantasy!

One of these days…perhaps soon. I’m going to get in my car for no other purpose than to drive; and I’ll say to myself…today is the day. Let’s just drive…away.

 

Rituals, Routines and Religion

My morning ritual is one that I especially look forward to: rise, eat banana, make coffee; sip coffee; read my devotions; be quiet…listen…wonder…listen…pray…jot down the ideas or inspirations that have been piqued during my morning quiet time. I will write about these things; I will think about these things as I prepare  for the new day. So now you know my morning ritual…for waking up and for making a connection with the Divine One.

Now I’m ready for my morning exercise routine; I’ll have some toast or half a bagel and get ready to go for my morning run. On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays I head out the door for a 3 to 8 mile run, depending on the schedule for the day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I put on my Zumba fitness garb and lead an hour long group fitness class. Saturday or Sundays are reserved for long runs of 8 to 10 miles or a mountain bike ride with my husband. My exercise routine is so well entrenched in my body and on my calendar that I feel completely out of sync when I miss a morning run or class.

But that’s the value of having and using rituals and routines. They help us stay connected and in touch with those activities that are important for us to do every day. Do these things long enough and they become a part of you, of your subconscious.

However, rituals and routines do have their downsides. Rather than keeping us on track, they can become a source of  great boredom for us…in other words we can feel stuck in a rut by the very routine that once gave a us a firm sense of being or accomplishment. If I ever feel stuck or bored in my routines, then I know they have outlived their purpose. It’s time to recycle or reinvent a system that will continue to propel me in a positive, forward frame of mind and/or way of going.

We should not hold a ‘religious’ attachment to rituals and routines. Even though their very existence in our daily life provides a semblance of structure, this framework should not be allowed to solidify if it is no longer useful for its original purpose. If our rituals and routines fail to motivate us to engage in the desired behaviors or actions for which we initially employed them, then it’s likely that they have become a religion of tired belief rather than a reflex of purposeful action.

Are your rituals and routines working for you? If not, don’t be afraid to change things up for yourself. Your creativity, your fitness, your personal goals or spirituality can only improve when you reset your rituals and routines.

 

No Longer an Exile

Death is no longer banishment, it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell.
We are not far from home–a moment will bring us there.

(Morning & Evening ~ Spurgeon)

I love the image that is conjured in my mind when I consider Spurgeon’s description of death being our return from exile. I strongly identify with being in exile because that’s what I so often feel like as a resident of O town ~ exiled from the larger world, from so many friends and family. And yet, these feelings perhaps are not too far from true if I view them in perspective of eternity.

If I believe that I am a created in the image of the Living God, then while I exist in this world He created for us to inhabit, it only makes sense that I feel like I am living in it as a foreigner; this world is not my home! While I clearly delight in the natural beauty of His creation, my heart tells me that there is so much more to life than what I experience through my senses. This world is not my final destination! I was created and designed to live in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the only possible explanation that makes sense to my heart; this can be the only explanation as to why everything here on Earth feels so other worldly. So while I live on Earth I live as one with dual citizenship. A resident of Earth, but a native of the Kingdom of Heaven. This world is not my home!

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:2-4 NIV

So as Spurgeon notes, “we are not far from home — a moment will bring us there”, my dual citizenship allows me great privilege indeed. I may access the Kingdom of Heaven while living in the Kingdom of Earth when I practice the native tongue of my homeland: LOVE. So then, I am indeed something like an Ambassador…a representative of the homeland, and as such I live closest to my homeland when I live in LOVE during my exile. And while I simultaneously straddle today and eternity, I find comfort and joy knowing that my days in exile are not so long as to make me forget from whence I came. Because, in a moment, in the not too distant future, I will close my eyes and awaken again…no longer an exile.

Puzzle It…For Brain Power

Returning to the simple games of our childhood is yet another way we can enhance brain power as we progress in age through the decades. Improved language skills can be realized by doing crossword puzzles. Likewise, spatial awareness is advanced when you put together a jigsaw puzzle. If you already engage in puzzle activities, you can improve your mental powers by undertaking more challenging puzzles.

Not a puzzle person? Remember there is brain strengthening power for you when you engage in novel activities. So perhaps an easy word search or Sudoku puzzle will whet your appetite for further puzzling. If you enjoy using a computer, you can find word search and crossword puzzle applications for your computer or smart phone too. Don’t wait for a rainy day to have puzzle fun. Schedule regular puzzle breaks into your daily routine; think of puzzling as exercise for your brain. So be creative and puzzle it today to strengthen your most important muscle…for brain power!

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Pray…For Refreshed Perspective

Prayer is the filter through which we view our worlds. Prayer provokes us to see the life around us in fresh, new ways.

To pray in the midst of the mundane is simply and strongly to assert that this dull and tiring day is holy and its simple labors are the stuff of God’s saving presence for me now.

Wisdom from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today ~ Joan Chittister

Sharpen Your Senses…for Brain Power

You probably have to be around 50 years old or so (plus or minus a decade) before you actually begin to notice that some of your physical senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell) are not as keen as they used to be in the decades that have passed since your youth.

Whether the diminishing of our senses is from overuse, disuse or abuse, it really doesn’t matter; however, we do have some recourse when it comes to maintaining or improving our current sensory switchboard. If you have been reading the brainpower posts, then you already know that our brain is plastic, meaning, it is capable of learning new things, making new connections, and crisscrossing hemispheres to perform new or novel tasks. Yes, even in middle age, thank goodness, neural-plasticity is our friend, and we can help our brain stay healthy and dynamic when we perform old tasks in new ways.

So what follows are some ideas for you to use in the coming days. Perform these ‘exercises’ with some regularity to make your neural pathways strong and dependable.

For sight – Blinking frequently, palming, eye-tracking exercises

For hearing – turn the volume down and listen with intent; listen to different genres of music and try to  identify specific instruments being played

For taste – eating with the eyes closed and think about taste and texture; chew your food thoroughly to unlock more flavor molecules

For touch – Close eyes and attempt to sort coins by touch; give and receive body massage; with a friend, practice writing the letters of the alphabet using your finger as pencil on your friend’s arm, hand or back

For smell – every day smell deeply some specific item whether it be food, or flower, or fragrance; then use words to describe the scent. Performing these two activities regularly will help sprout new scent receptors.

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Know Your Source

Let us make daily use of our riches, and ever repair to Him as to our own Lord in covenant, taking from Him the supply of all we need with as much boldness as men take money from their own purse.
Morning and Evening ~ Charles Spurgeon

Peace is my continual gift to you. It flows abundantly from My throne of grace. I have designed you to need Me moment by moment.  I can meet every one of your needs without draining My resources at all. Jesus Calling ~ Sarah Young

Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.
  A Course in Miracles

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most
. Hebrews 4:16 ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation