Nicci Morris

Posts Tagged ‘Introspection’

See What Needs Your Attention Before Things Are Broken

In Lifestyle, Love/Relationships, Spirituality on August 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I was lying in bed Monday morning, somewhere between sleep and thoughts of what I was going to wear to work, when I heard a loud crash in another part of my apartment. Stunned and shaken, I jumped out of bed and stumbled from room to room, trying to figure out what had just happened. I saw nothing out of place in the kitchen or the dining area. The laundry room was all clear. I went to my living room and there it was: My orchid was on the floor, the green pot in which it sits broken, exposed roots everywhere.

My first reaction was frustration. (I’m still working on not becoming frustrated over things I can’t control anyway.) I knew Bijou, the kitten I recently adopted, was the culprit behind the mess on my hardwood floor. I’ve had this plant for more than a year. I wanted it to bloom again and had grown frustrated with the stalled shoots that never reached maturity, in spite of my regular watering after I bought it. As I picked up the shards of pottery and the parched root system from the floor, I saw the lesson in that moment.

In my frustration with the growth of my plant, I had neglected it in recent months. All an orchid requires is warmth, a bit of sun each day and a few ice cubes one day a week. Sounds easy enough, right? Yet, I had not watered it in weeks. It is still green and gorgeous and sprouting new leaves, but the shoots didn’t grow and they certainly didn’t come close to creating that beautiful arc that they do before they grow blossoms.

How often do we do that in other areas of our life? Perhaps we become weary with our relationships, our health, our finances or the absence of those things. It’s tempting to neglect areas of our lives that require more time, effort, patience, vulnerability and understanding than we are willing to give. When it comes to relationships, that can manifest in the form of failed friendships, family feuds and lost loves. We can also become frustrated and complacent with ourselves and deny our bodies the nourishing food, regular exercise and spiritual care we all need and so deserve. That often leads to literal and figurative brokenness and a dry, parched existence, making it unlikely that we will ever achieve the growth we say we want.

Imagine how different the world would be if we tended to the important things in our lives, rather than waiting for things to break, relationships to end, people to die, lab results to arrive or doors to close.

What in your life requires your attention? What can you do today to further engage so that you can see the growth and manifest the changes that crave you just as much as you crave them? The only thing we have is this moment. Right here and now.

Don’t wait until things break before you realize what needs a fix.



Your Mind, Body And Spirit Know When It’s Time For A 21-Day Detox

In Food, Lifestyle, Love/Relationships, Spirituality on May 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

We all have things that we feel are necessary for our existence. Beyond water, oxygen and food, we have physical and spiritual needs. It is important to meet them in healthful ways and on a consistent basis. When that does not happen, disorder can easily settle into your mind, body and spirit. I recently did a 21-day detox (no animal products, alcohol, yeast breads or any processed food) and I felt wonderful. There is a direct correlation between contentment and perceived success and the level of connection you have with what keeps you grounded.

There are three major things that ground me and keep me focused.

Walking with Bella does more than get my heart rate up and my blood flowing. It also gives me an opportunity to clear my mind and to commune a bit with my furry baby, the trees and the grass. There is something very zen-like about the rhythmic sound of my shoes hitting the ground… Bella’s leash jingling occasionally. On those walks, the sun and wind feel like old friends and I love to reconnect with them.

But my true exercise love is Bikram – or “hot” – yoga. This practice consists of 26 yoga postures done in a humid room heated to between 105-115 degrees. If that sounds like torture to you, please trust me when I say it is just the opposite. I use each 90-minute class to sweat out toxins, to increase strength of every muscle in my body (including my heart) and to release stress. For me, it is akin to a full-body massage in terms of how relaxed and balanced I feel after each practice. With each drop of sweat that hits my mat, I feel stress and worry leave my body. At times, the classes are so intensely cathartic that I weep as I move through the postures, grateful my face is already flushed and wet so not even I can tell the tears from the sweat.

I also do traditional gym workouts to mix things up a bit. Plus, there are times when I enjoy the buzz of working out with other people amid the whir of 50 treadmills and elliptical machines. But I am gentle with myself in the gym during a detox program.


This is now far more simple for me than I ever realized. The reality is I feel, look and generally live, act, react and think better when I eliminate all animal products (including eggs and dairy) and processed foods (soda, yeast breads, etc…) from my diet. When I explain that, people often say, “If I did that, what could I eat?” The answer is plenty. Did you know spinach contains protein? Quinoa, legumes (for those who can properly metabolize them – I, unfortunately, cannot), avocados and nut butters are rich sources of protein, just to name a few. Note that I didn’t mention tofu. While it is a great source of nutrition for those who choose meat-free nutrition, I avoid soy for my breast health as a result of my family history.

On my detox days, I remove coffee and tea (yes, even herbal and decaffeinated tea). The only thing I drink other than spring or distilled water is coconut water and vegetable and fruit juices and smoothies I prepare at home. I eat oatmeal, rice milk, fresh and cooked fruit and vegetables, lots of simple salads (like cucumber and tomato with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper) and homemade soups. The first couple of days can be a little trying, but after that I feel so good that it’s easy to keep going.

As I have mentioned before, these two practices are unique yet I feel they are symbiotic. For me, both are necessary for clarity and a balanced mind. It is not about praying to or for anything in particular. The most powerful changes come into my life when I use meditation and prayer to turn the focus inward, not up to the heavens. The miracles multiply in my life when I focus on gratitude for what I have, not on asking for what I think I or someone else needs.

This time around, I am also cutting out television and social networking for 21 days. I would rather use the evenings during my fast to meditate, pray and catch up on my reading.

Toxins come in many forms if you consider it. They are ingested into us through food and drink, but they are also introduced into our minds and spirits through what we hear and what we see. If your mind, body and spirit are telling you (as mine is telling me right now) that it is time for a detox, do it. It’s only 21 days and it will fly by. I start today and I will do my best to track what I eat, drink and do these days in case it inspires you to do a detox when you are ready. As always, you should definitely check with your doctor before making any drastic lifestyle changes.

Give up the common things so you can focus on what you truly need most and be amazed by what uncommon goodness comes into your life.


Sunday Sunset: The Power Of Positivity And Silence

In Lifestyle, Love/Relationships, Spirituality on January 23, 2012 at 1:48 am

Watch this with your eyes but listen with your soul. Do you see yourself within this? If you find that you are often a bearer of bad news or your instinct is to criticize, try something new right now. Let’s do it together and see the difference it makes in our lives.

Make it a wonderful week…


Do you G.L.O.W.?

In Lifestyle, Love/Relationships, Spirituality on January 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Compliments are nice.

It feels good to hear words of approval from other people. Perhaps someone loves your shoes, the way your hair looks or the way you led a project at work. Many of us want to be acknowledged when we do something well.

The compliment I have been receiving as of late is, “You have a glow about you…” I love that. Not because they are stroking my ego. What I feel when I hear someone say that has nothing to do with vanity. In fact, it has nothing to do with my external appearance at all. I have found the key to that glow is a simple approach to life:

Give love, omit worry.

When you learn to “give love” and “omit worry,” your perspective on everything changes. You no longer obsess about minutiae or try to change other people or circumstances over which you have no control. Let’s break it down into two parts.

Give Love

When it comes to people and situations that agree with us and our opinions, this is pleasurable and, as a result, easy to do. But what of the people and situations that challenge your spirit? Analyze how you give love during those times. I have had to make a conscious effort to do this when dealing with two people in particular. I have known one of the people for years and once considered the two of us to be extremely close. I have only known the other person for a matter of days. This reveals challenges in life know no boundaries because it is all the same. It is all energy. Rather than allowing hurt inflicted by others to infect me and shape how I move about the world, I consider that they, too, have been hurt at some point in their lives. I consider that the situations in which I felt hurt were not truly about me. It was about them. I have come to terms with things and decided that I will not give either of those people more of my precious energy. Returning their negativity would be futile and it would only drain me and leave me with less energy for my purpose and my path. Instead I give them love them from a distance and move on with my life.

Omit Worry
The most we can achieve is control over ourselves. Our speech. Our thought. Our actions and reactions. Why concern ourselves with anything else? Does this mean that you don’t have to deal with the typical issues of life? It could mean that for you. Many people give up earthly pleasures, careers, money and the like in the quest for truth, choosing spiritual over material. That could be your path.
I had a conversation about this with a wonderful man I know – a man more brother than friend. “But what about bills?” he asked me. Great question. It is also, I believe, an easy way to stifle your spiritual evolution. The unwilling mind says, “I don’t have time… I don’t have energy… I don’t have…” I don’t believe you must forfeit everything to seek truth. You must simply understand bills aren’t everything. Your career, your spouse, your children, your responsibilities, your likes, dislikes, and more are not nor should they be everything. That is the point. When you understand this – not with your head but with your spirit – worry is alleviated.
Like anything else in life, there will be an ebb and flow of your G.L.O.W. There will be times in your life when it dims and there will be times when it burns beyond bright. Give love, omit worry and allow it to come out of you. Just beware of a side effect: Doing so will encourage others to shine, too. Be ready for the light to fill your life!

Image: dan /

Awaken Your Senses and Change Your Life

In Beauty, Fashion/Style, Lifestyle, Spirituality on January 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Do you rely on your senses when you interact with other people? If you are fortunate enough to have one, a few or all five of your senses, do you make good use them?

I encourage you to hone your senses, exercising them to strengthen them to help guide you through your journey through life. Today we will delve a bit into how we can do that. Tomorrow we will analyze what we can manifest when we approach life in this way.

Sight – Pay careful attention to what you watch. Take an inventory of your spirit and how it is affected by images you encounter while moving around the world, watching movies, television or even the words you read. Most of us don’t have the ability to shut out all negative images, but you can limit them. You can also combat them with positive images. Take a walk outside and observe nature. Notice the beauty of the world around you. Complete a project that lends beauty and positivity to your home. This is a picture of a photo frame collage project I did a little over a week ago. I purchased the frames at Ikea ($1.99 ea), ordered the 5×7 prints in black-and-white from ($1.79 ea) and picked them up in the store within a hour or so. I also bought the pots from Ikea ($5.99) and filled them with moss and greenery from Michaels ($6). For less than $50, I created something that makes me smile many times a day, especially when I see the pictures of my precious nephews. Fill your space with things that make you smile from the inside out, too.

Hearing – I often discuss the power of words. Thoughts are things, only in the very early stages. Think of them as the blueprint for your life. The words you think and speak might as well be bricks and mortar. The life you build will be a direct reflection of the plans you draw in your mind and the words you conjure and put out into the world through thought and speech. Choose your thoughts and words with care. If you find yourself in the company of people who speak negative things into their life and into yours, cut off those relationships. It might not be easy, but it is imperative to your spiritual well-being.

Taste – Have you ever done a detox and limited meat, sugar, and processed foods? If you have, you can attest to the fact that your cravings and taste buds truly can change in just a matter of days. Within days of eating a clean diet, you will notice something might be too sweet or you can taste the chemicals in a processed food product. This is your body’s way of directing you to eat what you need. If you have never been one to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, be patient with yourself as you become acclimated to different foods. Juicing and smoothies is a great way to incorporate the benefits of healthful food into your diet. I will share recipes for some of my favorites in the weeks to come.

Touch – Human beings need touch. We crave it. From the time that we are conceived, our neurons are designed to know pain from pleasure. Without touch, newborns face more health challenges and delays. That need never fades. Be open to giving and receiving hugs when you see family and friends. Use those moments of intimacy to reconnect with them and with yourself. Another great option is to schedule regular massages. You can also find providers who specialize in healing touch. You can find a certified practitioner online. Here is one search option to find one near you.

Smell – Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians burned incense and wore fragrant oils. All of these years later, I do those things, too. There is something soothing about the swirl of sweet scents. Scented oils can calm or exhilarate depending on which you choose. They also provide  a layer of protection to your skin against cold and sun. I recommend adding essential oils to shea butter and using that to seal in the moisture of your hair, skin and nails in the winter. If you have fine hair, you can still use this on your locks. Simply do so sparingly, using a small amount every few days as needed. For thick, kinky-curly-coily manes such as mine, use as much and as often as necessary to prevent dryness and breakage. I use shea butter daily.
When you fine tune your senses, you will notice a change in how you perceive the world as well as a change in how you are perceived. Rather than just subsisting and going through the motions, wake up your senses and experience your life to the fullest.




Thoughts Are Things: Do You Think Good Ones?

In Lifestyle, Love/Relationships, Spirituality on January 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm

When you consider where you are in your life, what words come to mind? Take an inventory of those words. Do you see a pattern? Are they negative? Are they positive? Do they tear down or build up your self-worth?

How you talk about yourself in your mind and the words you use to describe yourself to others correlates with everything that you experience in your life. Thoughts truly are things and regardless of whether you choose to fill your life with words that uplift or defeat, the outcome will be exactly what you create.

Here are some ways to turn up the positive thoughts and to shut down the negative one:

Put a Pen to Pad — You have probably heard this advice many times. Keeping a journal is a great release for many. It also requires consistency and discipline, two things required to make any lasting spiritual or physical changes in your life. Don’t think that you have to buy a special book to jot down your thoughts if you’re not ready for that. You can also create a Google document or a Word document and express yourself there. Another option for people who have the spiritual gift of writing is to create your own blog. Yes, there are tons of them, but so what? There are also lots of people but no two are exactly alike. Blogging is cathartic and can help other people at the same time.

Pass Notes — Grab your sticky note pad and a black marker (a medium point works best) and write down EVERYTHING you want out of life. Put one expectation on each sticky note. Put the notes on your bathroom mirror. Read each one each time you are at the sink to brush your teeth or wash your hands or your face. For an even more powerful experience, read them aloud. I do this and  meditate on them while I get dressed in the morning and while I get ready for bed at night. I promise the transformation you experience as a result of this exercise will amaze you, even before you think you are ready for the changes. See that picture up there? I did this spiritual exercise toward the end of fall 2011 when I was going through a major life change. It allowed me to re-focus and take the necessary (but painful) steps to get to the next level in my journey.

Reach out — When was the last time you took a moment to write a letter to someone? Not a text, no e-mail, no pre-written card on which you’ve scratched your name. A true, handwritten note. Try it today. Draft a letter to a loved one and express to them how much they mean to you and why. This is a powerful exercise because it allows you to give positive energy away which in turn brings so much goodness back into your life and your spirit. Send your love to your mate, a grandparent, a parent, a sibling, a friend, or anyone else who has had a positive impact on your life today and you will both reap the blessings tomorrow.

None of this is magic. The definition of magic is “The power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” There is nothing “mysterious” about this.  However the rest of that definition applies, in case you had any doubt. You do have influence over your life. Reclaim that power and don’t allow anyone else or any set of circumstances to dictate who and what you are. The power belongs to you.

Always remember your word is your wand. Wield it with precision and create the life you envision for yourself.



Another day and another year to evolve

In Lifestyle, Spirituality on January 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm

The first day of any new year seems so special, doesn’t it? We plan for it, take off from work in honor of it, and tend to create traditions to celebrate it. But I think there is something unique and even more special about today. Do you feel it? Something has shifted within my energy and I am so glad for that change. Now, more than ever before, I see all people – be they “friends” or “foes” – as teachers and all circumstances – be they “good” or “bad” –  as lessons. Every interaction is a chance to learn if we only “get out of our own heads” as a very wise woman and dear friend puts it.

Some say that whatever you do on New Year’s Day is what you will do for the rest of the year. I believe that is true, not because I’m superstitious but because I believe in Charles C. Noble’s observation: “First we make our habits and then our habits make us.” This morning, I made some healthful, traditional food (black-eyed peas and sauteed collards) and took Bella for a long walk. NoiPhone. No music. Just me and my girl enjoying the sound of leaves rustling on a sunny, brisk day. It was so peaceful and so perfect. I found my center, and focused on gratitude. I felt grateful for breath, mobility, a free spirit, family, friends, purpose, energy, and so much more.

As I reached the halfway point of my walk through my neighborhood, I noticed an older woman standing in the driveway of a home up ahead. She seemed to wait for something or someone as she stared into the garage. I then saw a man who I suspect was her husband. He brought a bike down the steep driveway, guiding it by the handle bars, and placed it next to her. It was a three-wheeled bicycle. I don’t know why, but there was something about it that was so endearing. The woman climbed on the bike, sat for a moment to get her bearings, I suppose, and pedaled on to the street, heading toward me as I walked in the opposite direction. The look on her face was pure joy. Her crinkly eyes sparkled in the January air and her wrinkled, speckled face and hands soaked up the sun. It seemed as though she had been waiting for a long time to get back on her bike. It was so obvious that she appreciated it. The man who brought the bike out of the garage to her stood in the driveway and stared at the woman as she rode off down the street and around the corner. I waved hello to him and saw that he, too, had a kind face with sparkling, crinkly eyes. It made my heart smile.

I don’t know that woman or that man and I don’t know their story. But I do know that what I witnessed this morning was a special human experience. They were both teachers and the lessons I received were: 1. It is never too early in the day (or the year) or too late in your life to appreciate the beauty of simple things. 2. Find joy in helping other people find their joy, even if you aren’t meant to tag along for that part of their journey.

This year and every year, I pray that you and I relish all that this life has to offer. Let us be observant and conscious of how we move in the world because we matter and we will leave a legacy, whether or not we try. We will all inspire something in someone today. Make it something positive. Why not make a habit of that, while we’re at it?

Happy New Year to you. Do and be well today and the rest of your days.


Image: Sura Nualpradid /


Pack well for life’s journey

In Lifestyle, Spirituality, Zaftig-Approved on September 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

The one thing you can depend on is change. Whether it is for better or for worse, change is inevitable and we must prepare to face whatever may come our way. That is easier said than done, I know. I would never suggest dealing with the challenges of life is a breeze, but it is possible if you prepare for the journey. Think of it as an expedition. Take it head on and discover your life’s purpose along the way. Here are some things to take on your trek:


Do what you must to power and sustain yourself on your journey. Fill your satchel with nutrient-dense people and experiences and remove the junk from your stash. There will be no room for people, places and things that do little more than entertain and weigh you down. While junk can sometimes entice and provide a quick boost, it will never sustain you. Surround yourself with individuals who add to the richness of your life and who allow you to add to their lives. Fill up your time with spiritual activities that increase your emotional intelligence and nourish your soul. If you find that you’ve gorged a bit on junk, step back, breathe and reassess. Re-pack your satchel and begin again now.


We all know how important water is for our bodies to function as they should. Dehydration quickly results in undesirable physical changes and, ultimately, death. But what about our emotional hydration? Examine your heart to see if it is plump with understanding and compassion or wrinkled and cracked, yearning for a swim in the waters of grace and forgiveness. Like all things that wax and wane, emotional hydration needs regular assessment. The tide will surely rise and fall. Work to keep your heart soft and full, able to absorb and release the joy and pain sure to come.


You will have to stop along the way to rest and regroup, so pack a tent and a blanket. At times, you may feel disappointed at these rest stops. You might think, “I’m not where I wish I were and I’m just sitting here. I need to get moving…” Yes, you do and you will. But take time to rest and regain strength. Build a fire in your belly at each stop to spur you on to the next leg of your quest. Remember: This is about endurance, not speed.


There is no unchartered territory and nothing new under the sun. Look to people you admire for encouragement, inspiration and direction as you walk, run and rest along the way. Be bold enough to take the road less traveled when you should, but don’t be so foolhardy that you reject words of wisdom and warnings.


This is not something you hold in your hand. It is something that dwells in your heart. Follow your intuition and trust your inner rudder. No matter which direction you go, you will have no regrets if you remain true to yourself.


Image: Evgeni Dinev /

What my dog, Bella, has taught me

In Lifestyle, Love/Relationships, Spirituality on July 20, 2011 at 7:49 pm

My Bella has been with me through thick and thin (no pun intended) for the last four and a half years. She’s been my literal roll dog, hitting the highway with me across town and across the country. She has soothed me during heartache and heartbreak, twisted ankles, colds, unemployment and more. She is sitting right here at my feet as I type this, per usual. She is my baby.

Although she can’t speak, she has taught me plenty of lessons since she was a crazed puppy, all paws and legs with the most adorable wrinkled forehead. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned.

Sometimes it’s best to walk away when you make a stink.

Bella has a habit of letting a real serious one rip and then… she walks away. She usually gives me a look that says, “I wouldn’t keep sitting there if I were you!” And she’s right. It’s best to move away at that point.

Bottom line: Know when to walk (or even trot) away. There are some situations in life that get stinky, to say the least. It really doesn’t matter who stunk up the place. Just know when to make a graceful exit.

Never be afraid to ask for what you want, even after someone has told you “no.”

No matter how many times I tell Bella to beat it during dinner, she always manages to creep back around. She doesn’t whine, she doesn’t get too close, but she is nonetheless relentless. Her undying love for my cooking (who could blame her?) draws her in each time, and her big brown eyes and sweet spirit makes me break down every now and again.

Bottom line: In a world full of people who will love nothing more than to tell you “No,” you will still manage to find all the yeses you need. What matters is that you seek and recognize those green lights when you come across with them. I have met people and I have been the person who doesn’t feel like they deserve more than “no.” Like Bella, I know how to carry myself and how to respect others, but that doesn’t keep me from asking for the sun, the moon and the stars. Ask and ye shall receive. At least some of the time.

Run until you feel like throwing up. Cough. Breathe. Repeat.

Give Bella an open field and you will soon see little more than a black flash and a pink tongue racing around you. She’s a nutcase. But her zeal and passion for life is enviable. She runs until she is spent and coughing, all but throwing up. At that point she sprawls out (whether it’s in sand, mud, snow, grass or mulch) and takes a breather. With her ears flopping, tongue  lolling and chest heaving, she has what can only be described as a huge smile on her face. Once she regains her composure, she’s right back up and at ’em.

Bottom line: Life is short. Why not go hard? I have found the power (and even the pleasure) of getting up before the sun does so I can walk, run, bike… something. It feels so good to move and I’m so blessed to do so. Why not revel in my blessing and run until I heave?

Follow your passion and find the sunny spots along the way.

I know where Bella is at any given moment of the day in my house. You can always find her in the sun. She’s like my own little furry sundial. In the morning, she’s lying in the dining room, working her way across the floor as the sunny spot moves. In the afternoon, she’s in the family room. Heading into the early evening, she’s in the breakfast nook to soak up the last few rays of the day.

Bottom line: Find what brings you joy and make it your business to seek it. Daily. Even if that means you have to up and move around a bit or change your plans.


(and Bella)

Gratitude is the path to zen

In Lifestyle, Love/Relationships on March 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm

It is easy to exude positive energy and to seem balanced when times are good and all is well. But how do you deal with stress? Do you withdraw? Do you become angry and lash out at others? How you react to stress indicates what drives you. Consider a piece of fruit. If you juice it, you will only and always get the juice of that fruit. It doesn’t matter if you use a commercial juicer, a handheld juicer or a mortar and pestle. It is imperative that we pay careful attention to what is inside of us. This ensures that no matter what happens in our lives and no matter what comes or goes, we can remain steadfast in our positive energy and receive the blessings and lessons that fill our lives.

How do we achieve this? Two things in particular have been saving graces in my life: Meditation and gratitude. I consider them grounding elements and they have allowed me to be introspective, steadfast and compassionate.

I have been on a path to inner peace and enlightenment for as long as I can remember. I experienced many things in my childhood that muddied my mind, body and spirit and made it difficult for me to find balance in anything. A sensitive person by nature, my true self and spirit were tainted by events early in my life that left wounds that have only begun to heal in the past two years. Abandonment, sexual and physical abuse from relatives, and other painful events had misshapen the girl I was meant to be and that eventually deformed the woman I was. For many years I carried with me more than any child, teen or woman should have to bear. Like millions of other people who endure abuse as a child, I faced each day and formed every relationship with an undercurrent of fear. Fear of abandonment. Fear of being abused again, in one way or another. As a result, I subsisted on surface relationships and instincts that pushed me to lace-up my shoes and run at the first sign of discomfort. Although Nicci the Child had no recourse, no protection and could not fend for herself, Nicci the Adult was mad as hell and she was never going to allow anyone to get close enough to hurt her again. Sometimes I look at pictures of me between the ages of 5 and 30 and I hardly recognize that little girl… that teenager… that shell of a woman. Those are my dead years. Many survivors of abuse can identify such a period in their lives.

What I discovered is there is no life without risk of pain. In 2009, I faced a decision between life and death. I could continue to subsist and move through this world as someone who sees without seeing and breathes without living, or I could dig deep into myself, do the work required and be whole again.

I chose life.

I meditated, prayed and fasted for much of that year. Battling a physical health issue and incredible emotional stress, I took a leave of absence from work and never returned to that office. I ended my marriage to someone I thought I would be with for the rest of my days. I lost the home we bought together. I dropped about 15 pounds. I stopped going out and talked openly only to my sister and a few close friends. It was a physical, emotional and spiritual sloughing off of everything and it was the most painful year of my life. Beyond that, it was necessary, and through it all, I had gratitude for so many things.

I was grateful for the small savings I had that allowed me to buy fruits, vegetables, grains and good olive oil and salt.

I was grateful for the cool nights that summer which allowed me to save money on air conditioning.

I was grateful for the time when my friends came to my house, long after the cable was off, and just sat with me while we listened to music and I prepared a simple dinner.

I was grateful for the mother bird who built that nest right outside my front door that spring. The sound and sight of that process (from start to first flight) reminded me of the size and scale of life.

I was grateful for my amazing father who helped me financially and made sure I was able to pay off and insure my car when I was on the verge of losing that, too. I was grateful that he never once questioned me or made me feel bad about being in need and to this day has never uttered a word about it.

I was grateful for my sister and her husband who made me laugh when I didn’t remember how to smile.

I was grateful for my nephew who came into the world in August of that year. His first cry reminded me of how precious breath is, and with his warm little body in my arms and his head cradled against my neck, he felt like promise and possibility.

In 2009, I had the least I have ever had from a material perspective, but I was rich in all of the ways that mattered. I surrendered to the loss, the pain and the hurt and centered myself and truly focused on what it means to be what I was made to be. Today I no longer want for any material thing and that has nothing to do with my household income and everything to do with my heart and spirit being whole. I don’t necessarily believe you have to go through times of hardship in order to find your purpose and to settle into yourself, but such tests are inevitable and there will be more for me as there will be for you.

My prayer is that you will have a mind of meditation and heart of gratitude and be prepared for whatever comes or goes in your life… That, I believe, is the path to peace. That is the path to zen.