Comforting Words: 03/2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Work It!

Years ago I heard this phrase and it evoked mixed feelings in me.

“It works if you work it!”

The cynic in me at the time thought it was just one of those things that people say to feel good. I was supported in this thought by my then partner who scoffed every time it was said or I brought home a piece of reading material that made reference to the idea.

However, after my first months as a regular attendant at the Universal Centre of Truth for Better Living in Kingston, Jamaica back in 2000 the idea “it works if you work it,” started to make sense to me on all levels.

Johnnie Coleman, founder and then head of the parent church – Universal Foundation for Better Living – was credited with espousing this idea. Several publications were, and probably still are available, with her testimonies as to how she worked “it.”

Initially, I was not too sure what the ‘it’ was. It took several months of literally sitting at the feet of the senior minister, Reverend Sheila McKeithen, and a woman who would later become not only my Bible teacher but mentor and woman-friend – Reverend Dr. Phyllis Green.

What these women, and others over time, taught me was basically what has become a fad for some in the last couple of years.

The Secret – was no secret to me by the time it was on Oprah. The Law of Attraction – the basic principle of The Secret is what Reverends McKeithen and Green taught me. The ‘it’ I learned was the law of “what you think about, you bring about.”

Ever since learning that principle, I have tried to be mindful of my thoughts (a Buddhist approach to life that I also learnt at this Christian church). My rate of success varied from dismal to overwhelmingly wonderful.

Many a stories I could tell about my ‘working’ the principle, not least of which would be how I got my permanent resident status to Canada against what then seemed like insurmountable odds. All I will say is that that was the first time two years after learning the principle that I was spooked!

For almost 8 years now I have continued “working it,” and it has never failed me.

Even in those moments when my life experiences could not seem more horrible – I was working it. You see, it is true that what you think about you bring about. Maybe it would be better to say whatever you think about – healthy or unhealthy – it will most certainly be your experience. I have proven and continue to prove that.

On the night of December 31, 2006 into the morning of January 1, 2007 I decided to do a collage. Being a somewhat visual learner, making a collage of my goals and desires for the New Year was my way of focusing my thoughts on a picture of new life for myself.

Regular readers might easily recognize this period as the first festive season after the traumatic and devastating end of my then 16-year relationship. While most people were out partying, I was at home literally struggling to make sense of my life. How to reconstruct a future from the heap of rumble that I was in the midst of was the biggest question facing me.

With limited reasoning ability, a weakened physical state having lost over 30+ pounds in less than two months and emotionally and mentally broken, by December 2006 I was slowly beginning to turn my full attention to the teachings of my spiritual reawakening for guidance.

Visualization is a major part of ‘working’ the Law of Attraction and so early the morning of January 1, 2007 I had a poster board and all the ‘O” and Chatelaine magazines in my house spread out on my bed.

I, my health, a home, a career, friendships, travelling and relationships were the main themes for me. I cut and pasted every picture and word that resonated with these parts of my life that I wanted to rebuild and/or nurture.

Fast forward to December 31, 2007 and I was doing the same thing – ‘working’ the Law of Attraction. I took down the collage I had made a year before and reviewed my journey in 2007.

Some things had manifested among which were:
• I was experiencing the best state of health in over 14 years. I am diabetic, have thyroid disease and have struggled with my eating habits (rather addiction) for most of my life but particularly throughout the years of my then relationship. By December 2007, my doctor was saying that my sugar levels remained the best ever in 17 years!

• I had ‘accidentally’ landed into a career path that would have been my last prediction. Prior to migrating to Canada, I had decided that after 10 years in communications and marketing it was no longer the path for me. My sense was that ministry, particularly spiritual counseling was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. So soon after ‘settling’ in my new country, I entered that stream by enrolling for my second Master’s degree in Theological Studies. However by January 2007, Life was leading me to deeper involvement in the criminal justice system with a semi-permanent job at a women’s correctional facility!

• With a break up you lose relationships and even communities. This was probably the hardest part for me – saying goodbye to people who had played a role in my life over the years and to fairly new friendships. What I received in their stead however was a core group of friends who had encircled me during what was the most emotionally challenging period of my life. Those people – women, men, gay, straight and in-between – wiped my tears and kicked my butt through 2007 and for them I am most grateful.

As I reviewed my 2007 collage, I realized that there were things that were still outstanding and even with those that had manifested additional ‘working’ was necessary. So I decided not to re-invent the wheel but refine the collage for 2008.

Though not as spooked as I was back in 2002 when my visa was ‘miraculously’ delivered 4 days after I was told it would take at least 9 more months, the manifestations to date remain awesome.

Not only have I continued to remain in good health, my friendships continue to deepen and widen and my career is taking me to unanticipated places. Over the last few months, I have travelled to a few cities across Canada both on work related training and for my volunteer positions.

Some of the most notable manifestations have been the major improvement in my relationship with my mother, the level and depth of self-love and healing that has occurred within me and the beauty of my personal space.

Possibly the most ‘spooky’ manifestations have been the appearance of Robert in my life and the new job that I will assume next month (April 2008) that will have me moving from Edmonton, Alberta. What is breath-taking about these (and all of the others manifestations) is the ease with which they came once I stopped obsessing about them and surrendered to the Higher Power.

Those who have read or seen the DVD of “The Secret” will understand that this “it” – the Law of Attraction – does not require any religious conviction but only a belief and an understanding that whatever you focus on – consciously or unconsciously – will be your experience.

For too long, I like many of you have lived my life unconsciously, believing that my experiences and the manifestation in my life were the luck of the draw. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are truly no accidents in life – even the abuse that I have endured. This is probably the most challenging aspect of the Law for many people. I know it was for me – understanding and accepting that all the forms of abuse that occurred in my life were learning moments for the journey.

What I have come to learn is that 'choice' – my power to choose – is what makes the difference. I could choose to focus on the anguish and hurt that occurred in my life or I could choose to acknowledge and accept that harm was done to me and then use the experience as fodder for my growth.

That is a hard lesson to learn – no doubt about it. The last column in Oprah’s magazine is entitled “What I Know for Sure,” and what I do know for sure, after years of experimenting is “It works if you work it.”

Nothing I have written here – and at any time – is meant to brag, boast or proselytize. Explaining her mission, Reverend McKeithen once said her role is to lay a buffet, with all the teachings she has learned and invite us all to the table. It was our choice to take what we wanted and leave the rest.

As Reverend McKeithen modeled for me, I too am merely setting a table with my experiences. Take what you will. My only addendum is that I honestly believe in personal testimonies and this is mine.

“It works if you work it!”



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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Meet Marley

I know this might seem silly but who cares!

After a leisurely morning and breakfast, Robert and I decided to drive out to Bruderheim, a small town about an hour outside of Edmonton to meet Angello's children.

Regular readers will recall the story about Angello's first and only encounter.

Well that produced 4 offsprings - three girls and one boy.

The deal with my friend, the gentle giant whose name incidentally is also Robert, was that the pick of the litter would be mine. "If you decide not to keep it, then you will get whatever amount of money it's sold for," Robert assured me.

At the time of making this deal, I had mixed feelings about whether to keep my pup or sell it. "The money would be nice," I thought, given how much I had recently paid and continue to pay for medical/veterinary care for Angello.

Abigail, my daughter, from the outset thought I should keep the pup. In fact, she toyed with the idea of taking one herself but quickly realised that she could not - her apartment does not allow pets and she really is not up to the responsibility.

As the mother went into labour, the gentle giant called me. "Sapphire is having puppies," he declared. For the next 5 - 7 hours, I called every hour on the hour, just as I did the day Angello was trying to get the deed done.

After the first two were born, I declared to my friend, "the third one is mine."

Well fate would have it that the third was not only a male but the only one in the litter. To top it off, of the four pups the mother finally delivered, the third was the only one that totally resembled Angello!

In that moment I knew my boy was not for sale.

Few weeks passed and my career path begun to take a curve - with the possibility of me moving to another town increasing. Robert and I have been discussing the implications of this on our relationship - some days practically and on other days emotionally charged.

With things still up in the air - "living in the grey" I like to call it - we decided to drive out this afternoon to see the dogs.

Just as it was 8 years ago with his Dad, once I laid eyes on him I knew that he was coming home with me - wherever that will end up being.

Robert obviously felt the same way as he took so many pictures and was cooing over him (and the others) like he is the Dad!

On the drive home we talked about names. I had come up with Junior - got it? Angello Junior? Abigail did not think it so cool a name and Robert shared her opinion.

So I allowed myself to be overruled and Robert named him Marley. His argument for that is that the pup is part Jamaican and that name is almost synonymous with my country of origin. Please forgive him - he's fully Canadian but he's cute :)

Meet Marley. He is cute too.

Life is good and miracles do happen.

And we are going shopping for the puppy next week :)



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