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Susan's Blog

What is your Burning Bush Moment?

Susan Marek

July 4 represents freedom for all Americans. We have freedom of choice in our daily life, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.  For example, we may not FEEL free to leave our jobs or bad relationships, but we ARE free to make different choices around both, which could then free us from the circumstances that are binding us mentally or emotionally.  But today is not July 4, you say.  It has taken a few days for thoughts in an email I read to percolate in my head and then take written form.

I receive a daily meditation from Richard Rohr, an American Franciscan friar, and the one that appeared in my email inbox on July 4 was especially profound for me.  In this excerpt, Rohr is speaking about Moses’ experience with God at the burning bush:

Immediately after Moses had his heart-stopping experience, YHWH said to him: “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt. Now, go! Tell Pharaoh to let my people go” (Exodus 3:7, 10). God gives Moses an experience of an unnamable Presence, and it has immediate practical—and in this case socio-political—implications and direction. Rather than invite Moses to worship or attend a church service, God says, “Go make a difference, Moses!”

The fire burned for him, then in him, and finally through him.

It’s the last sentence above that really struck me.  “The fire burned for him, then in him, and finally through him.”  Because of the work I do with Someday (see my book “Make Everyday Your Someday: The Guide to Living With Passion and Purpose), I have come to trust that there will be a moment, several moments actually, in your life where your heart will say, “No more!” and you will begin in that exact second to change your thinking in order to save your soul.  Now that sounds dramatic, but it’s true.  Our divine purpose, known by our hearts and craved by our souls, will make itself known to us, and we will, in that split second, declare that it is time to move in the direction of our passions and will no longer accept the false life that ego has been feeding us.  Do we always stay on the path? Nope.  There are many reasons for that that I won’t go into here.  My focus today is on the burning bush of our lives.  What is your burning bush moment?

The fire burned for him.  A powerful cause or some unrequitedpassion of yours is unearthed or revealed to you. Your soul is stirred.  You listen. You watch. You are affected profoundly.  It could be a pivitol occurance: a death, a birth, a life-changing event. 

Then in him. You begin to study it, read about it, talk about it.  It occupies your thoughts, and you feel compelled to change aspects of your life because of it.

And finally through him.  You have started to change and realize that is not enough.  In order to live authentically and honestly with your life’s purpose, you begin to teach what you have learned.  You give the gift of yourself to others through your passions.  And that original fire, that burning bush moment, has now burned all the way through you and is igniting passion and hope in others.

My work with Durga Tree Int’l has been a result of a burning bush moment.  The horror of human slavery was the bush, igniting a fire in my soul.  I was profoundly moved by the plight of the millions of women, children, and men enslaved around the world.  They have no fundamental freedom, no choice in their lives.  It burned in me and then finally through me as I knew I could no longer just read about it and wring my hands, thinking how terrible it was and someone needed to do something about it.  I became one of the someones.  It is part of me now to speak to others about the atrocity of human trafficking and do what I can with my gifts to help abolish slavery.

What is your burning bush moment? What ignites passion and purpose in you? Are you allowing it to burn in you and then through you or are you extinguishing it with excuses and fear?  I promise you that if you allow that bush to start that fire in you which pushes you on a purpose-filled path, you will not regret it.  The interesting thing is the burning bush is never consumed.  It just keeps burning brighter and brighter, illuminating your purpose.  As it burns within you and ultimately through you if you let it, your accomplishments can become the burning bush for others.  Your choice to let the fire lead you to a passion-filled life is because you have freedom. Even though July 4 is behind us, celebrate your freedom everyday by choosing to live full out and be an example to others to do the same.

 

Who are you not to be Fabulous?

Susan Marek

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
~ Marianne Williamson

 

A few days ago, I was at my computer scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook feed and procrastinating doing some work on one of my Somedays. Then the above quote came up in a Durga Tree International post, probably in between a recipe for some million calorie dessert and pictures of puppies. I read it and smiled to myself. The Universe always knows when I need a little inspiration. It is one of my most favorite quotes because it reminds me of who I AM and where I need to be going.

 

Marianne Williamson hit it right on the head when she said that playing small does not serve the world. Or yourself. Every person, at some point in their lives (probably many, many points), argues with his or her greatness and divinity. Who am I to think that I can make a difference? Who am I to think that I can do something great? Who are you not to? Divinity and purity of purpose are your birthright. God/dess, The Universe, Spirit, the Field, etc. didn’t put us in these human bodies for us to sit around watching cat videos. We are here as divine instruments to learn and serve. We may all have a different way of going about it, but the why is the same: we are here to experience life to its fullest. We are not meant to shrink into ourselves so that others won’t be intimidated or insecure. That’s just…silly. We are meant to expand and live joyously. Some people are said to have an infectious laugh. I want to have an infectious life. Not in a Typhoid-Mary-exposure-will-kill-you sort of way, but in a WOW-look-what-she-is-doing-I-want-to-do-that sort of way. Shine your light so others can see their divinity through their own darkness. Expose their heart to your infectiously joyful way of living and hopefully they will catch something life changing. Because if everyone was infected with the love and joy of living with divine purpose, then our world would be quite a different place. It would be one full of love, divine service, bliss, fulfillment, and probably still cat videos.

 

 

Elige Magistrum

Susan Marek

The New Year often is followed by our commitment to new outcomes for the coming months.  We resolve to eat healthier foods, exercise more, take on new projects.  We clean our homes, de-clutter, create a clean slate on which to build our new year.  But usually by the end of January, things go awry.  We are back to old habits and one would think we hadn’t committed to anything at all.  Should we even bother to do better?

Many years ago, someone introduced me to the saying, “Elige Magistrum.”  Translated from the Latin, it means “Choose your master (or teacher.)”  It reminds us to focus on what we want our end goal to be, how we want to feel and who we want to be moving forward.  Each day we are making choices as seemingly trivial as breakfast choices (which for some, may be an extremely important choice) to life-changing choices like leaving a job or making a move.  Each person has their own struggles and goals, and thus choice is relative to the person.  There is not one blanket rule for all people regarding food, job, housing, school, etc.  But what is universal is our desire to feel necessary, desire to follow our soul’s purpose, and I would argue, be of service to others.

When we are able to remove ourselves, even for a few minutes, from the chaos of everyday life, we have an opportunity to connect with our heart about our purpose and the direction we want our life to go. This allows us to choose our master.  Will we choose to be governed by fear, and from that place, make choices influenced by anger, sadness, greed, and revenge?  Or will we choose to be governed by love, making choices from a place of peace, happiness, hope, and gratitude?  One choice, two masters, two totally different outcomes. 

In the case of New Year’s resolutions, we are constantly choosing a master of our resolutions.  Will our commitment to healthy eating be sabotaged by an angry and fearful ego, who encourages us to quit since we were never able to do it before, so why think you can now?  Or will our commitment be surrounded in love by solutions that support our desire to be healthy and happy?   Will your choice to volunteer to help others less fortunate be discouraged by the master who thinks it’s a waste of the little bit of free time you rarely get or will it be bolstered by the master who praises your unselfish act as needed, appreciated and making a difference?  Both outcomes are equally probable.  YOU are in control of what master you serve and how it influences your life.

Who will you choose to serve, not only for your resolutions but for your life?  I choose happiness, love and service.  I hope you will join me.

 

You May Be Too Busy to Read This

Susan Marek

Caution: This post is somewhat long (a 2 minute read), and you might think you are “too busy” to read this right now.  And that is the very reason you must.

I have started this blog post about 9 times now.  Each time, I think I know what I want to say, but the words come out sounding too gruff, too flowery, too shy, or too much.  So I am just going to say what is on my mind:  I am tired of people telling me that they are too busy.

I’m exasperated, really, and a bit discouraged.  I think “busy” is a misused and abused word to make excuses for not doing what we are born to do.  I catch myself saying it, too.  I cringe when I realize it and then correct myself.    I hear things like, “I wish I could do that, but I’m just too busy.” Or “I could never do what you do.  I’m too busy!”  I call bullshit on busy because, most of the time, when you get right down to it, busy is code for afraid.

Let me explain.  I have just finished my third book, Make Everyday Your Someday: Living Your Life with Passion and Purpose.  And yes, that is a shameless plug*. This book helps people cut through their bullshit and fears to live their life in the way they were meant to.  It helps people to resurrect their dreams and get on the path to living a life they love.

I can tell when someone is using an excuse to not live life to the fullest.  Busy falls into the bullshit category.  Here’s why:  You will make time for the things that are important to you. That said, sometimes we postpone things related to our happiness because we are afraid of them coming into our life and changing it.  You will have to trust me on this because, to the casual observer, it can sound crazy that we would intentionally sabotage our happiness and purpose. There is a deeper and more thorough explanation in the book, but suffice it to say that a part of us doesn’t want ourselves to succeed in breaking out of the status quo.  Busy is just the thing that that part of us uses to keep us from changing things up.  If we would allow our lives to be full of the things that really matter, then we would have much more fulfilling and enriched lives.

So next time, instead of saying something like, “I couldn’t go back to school, I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time to help you. I’m too busy,” substitute the word afraid for busy and see how it challenges you to reach higher and calls you out on your bullshit.  For example, why are you afraid to go back to school or why are you afraid to give some time to help others? Remember: we make the time to do the things that we feel are important in our lives.  Perhaps the things in our lives are keeping us from true happiness by keeping us “too busy” to include the things that would be truly life changing!

I recently was given an award from Durga Tree International for my volunteer efforts.  I do their press work, writing and sending press releases, maybe creating an article here or there.  Also, I am president of the Oregon Chapter of Durga Tree, so I am doing research and planning fundraisers, among other things.  My day is filled with phone calls, errands, emails, laundry, research and my own writing for my next project.  I shuttle my kiddos to and from activities, and schedule my dinner prep around pick up times.  I chase after my 3-month old puppy, and like a new mom, try to get some concentrated work done when she naps.  I collapse into bed around 9 and fall asleep reading a book.   I love what I do.  My life is full, NOT busy.  I know what I am doing is making a difference in my life, my family’s life, my community and the lives of slavery survivors that are touched by the work of Durga Tree.

I am not afraid of filling my life with to-dos.  I choose my to-dos based on what makes me happy, not what makes me busy, aka afraid, of moving forward.  And service is a huge part of what I do because I believe that sharing ourselves and our gifts with others is part of our purpose in this life.  I can’t imagine my life without that.  If there is ever a time that I am “too busy” to be of service, that is the moment I must look at my life and figure out why I’m afraid to use my gifts to help others.

So I challenge you to look at the busy in your life and see where it is blocking you from happiness.  Evaluate each to-do and remove those that are taking the place of those things that truly matter.  Add in those things that bring meaning and joy, even if they bring change into your life because it will be those to-dos that you will remember and be remembered for.  (Like service. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.) Thanks for sticking with me and not being “too busy” to discover that you might be “too busy” right now to live your life full out.

*Make Everyday Your Someday will be available November 2016 from www.susanmarek.com.

 

 

Pikachus, Eevees, and Psyducks… oh my!!!

Susan Marek

“Excuse me!” I chirped as I speed walked through the casino toward the frog fountain.  Head down, eyes focused on the phone, I frantically swiped my screen again and again and again.  I was oblivious to the people around me, who I’m sure were staring at me as I exuberantly touted my achievement to myself.

“Got it!” “YES!”  I cheered myself on as I swiped and walked, then swiped and stopped abruptly in front of a store.  “Where is it?” I said aloud to no one in particular.  “Not able to use the gym? Why not?  What level am I?”

I must have sounded like a crazy person.  Frustrated, I closed the app and put the phone in my purse, ashamed that I let myself get sucked into that world so easily.  I’m not a big game player, but this one had me intrigued and obviously distracted by the augmented reality aspect.

I originally loaded the app because my kids were playing Pokemon GO. Actually, everyone’s kids were/are playing Pokemon GO.  I needed to find out what this was all about as I do with many apps that they are in to.  I can now Snapchat with the best of them, and I’m almost a filter pro.

As it turns out, it’s not just kids who are out and about searching for these little monsters.  Adults of all ages and kinds are playing.  Parents, college students, respectable older folk. All searching for strange little virtual creatures. They are battling each other in virtual gyms in front of stores and homes, parks, and even my bank branch.  I have been trying to figure out how this addiction works.  Hatching eggs, evolving the Pokemon, how to get more balls, Pokestops and more.  All harmless fun.  So far.

Until this point, I was worried about the kids getting hit by a car, running into to something or falling off a cliff because their phones were in their faces.  Nothing new for a mom.  But as an abolitionist and someone who is aware of the types of dangers to kids in terms of human trafficking, my “mama bear” alarm went off when I heard of something called a lure.  Lures can be dropped in the Pokemon world by people who are trying to call Pokemon to a particular spot and, therefore, other players.  My first lure I found in the airport.  At the kids’ playground.

Sounds harmless?  Perhaps.  Kids like to play the game.  Maybe it was dropped by another kid.  Or maybe it was dropped by a pedophile.  My mind went all ‘worst case scenario’, and I immediately started looking around.  Everyone looks harmless enough.  But isn’t that what they all say?  My own children drop lures to bring Pokemon to them so they can keep collecting.  But more Pokemon also bring more people.  Could our children be unwittingly bringing unsavory characters to their doorstep?  Definitely a possibility.

Now, I’m no expert in Pokemon, but I definitely can see where issues could arise around personal safety.  Since the app was released, adults have trespassed, been robbed, had car accidents, and have even been murdered while playing the game.  I do see the benefits of this game, as it has the potential to get sedentary kids and adults moving and interacting.  But I see the dark side of this as well because of my involvement in the abolition movement.  Based on what I have experienced and read about, I offer you the following tips to reduce the risk of your child (or you) becoming a victim of Pokemon accidents or foul play:

  • Always play in groups. The more the merrier and the safer! I personally wouldn’t let any child under 14 play without adult supervision, but you know your child and their maturity level, so proceed with caution.
  • Always stay on your own property or in public areas. No trespassing and good manners always come first when approaching a location that may be a Pokestop or gym or has a Pokemon you are trying to catch.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. No playing in dark alleys, creepy abandoned houses, and other locations that could be straight out of a horror film.  There is no Pokemon in the world worth your safety or life.
  • Always remember the ‘stranger danger’ rule. Never leave with or follow a stranger to a Pokestop or location where they say there is a rare Pokemon, or any Pokemon for that matter.    Why would they be giving you a Pokemon? All stranger danger rules apply here: don’t take candy, puppies, toys, or Pokemon from strangers.
  • Always have fun! I encourage all adults to make a Pokemon GO account and play as a family!  It is safer, more fun, and makes some great memories.  Except for the time I almost fell into the fountain trying to catch a Pokemon.  Shhhh!  Don’t tell my kids.

An Interview with Tim Tiger

Susan Marek

In honor of Father’s Day coming up this month, I chatted with Tim Tiger, amazing father to five equally amazing children, who also happens to be co-founder and CFO of Durga Tree International. I was eager to hear his story from a male abolitionist point of view. I work with so many women volunteers who instinctively gravitate toward this cause because of their “mama bear” nature. I wanted to hear his “papa bear” story and his thoughts on the abolitionist movement to eradicate modern human slavery.

Me: As a father, why did you become involved in this movement?

Tim: As a father (after my divorce), I became acutely aware of what my children think of me. Before I did something, I would think, “If my kids found out, would I be proud (of what I had done)?” You have to have a quality of life you believe in and it trickles down into the way they (children) live their lives and protect their family. I became involved because we (Beth and I) had a feeling that there was a huge unfairness in what was going on at the shelter in India. When we looked into it a bit deeper, we had to get more involved. The more we found out, the more our eyes were opened, the more I realized we had to become completely involved (in the abolition movement).

Me: What is the man’s role as an abolitionist?

Tim: Men should be more involved directly. Men feel that they can say, “Here’s my check.” They don’t feel being involved is important. The man who went to Guatemala with us saw the difference between being involved and writing a check. We need their checks, but also need their actions, too. There are more women involved because it’s more of a nurturing organization. Since men are a large part of the problem, they need to be a large part of the solution.

Me: What can men and women do to help?

Tim: Everybody, men and women, men especially, need to realize their purchasing power and knowledge, paying a little bit more (for well made, fair trade items) is a better deal than buying super cheap. As a man moving forward in life, being conscious on where things come from is very important. Having children, we realize moving forward, it (human trafficking) can affect them more than they realize, that their children could become involved in it.

Me: Why are you excited about Durga Tree’s Bloom program?

Tim: I’m really excited about this new program and giving people coming out of this horrible cycle an opportunity to be part of a program that will help them have a better life down the road. As a male abolitionist, it’s exciting to give the kids in Guatemala a chance to have their own opportunities. It was very intriguing to see someone have that (opportunity) and exciting to see it come full circle and how quickly she could better her life style. As a business owner, giving people a shot to be part of the business and have profit sharing and ability to grow with the company is satisfying. A lot of people should have that opportunity!

Me: Do you have any words of advice for people?

Tim: Stop being so damn selfish!

That’s some great “papa bear” advice! When we come out of our shells a bit and give a little of ourselves to others, whether it be fighting against trafficking, volunteering at school or even paying for the order for the person behind us at the drive-thru, we are gifted right back through the gratitude and love received. And as a father and abolitionist, Tim knows that first hand. Whether you are a “papa bear” or a “mama bear,” you can make a huge difference in the lives of others just by giving the gift of yourself.

Twenty for Tubman TM

Susan Marek

Twenty for Tubman™

$20 – It can buy you a movie ticket and a small popcorn.  Or four grande Starbucks beverages. Or an illegal sex act with a minor in some cities.  It can pay for 100 hours for an indentured garment worker’s time in Bangladesh or for a portion of a survivor’s education and healing. I find it both ironic and appropriate that Harriett Tubman, escaped slave and heroine of the Underground Railroad, is replacing a slave owning president on the $20 bill, the same bill that can both fuel enslavement and assist in freedom of trafficked humans.  Now I have nothing against President Jackson.  I know very little of him except what I remember from high school (basically nothing) and what I have read in the news these past few weeks.  I just think it’s time for a change, one that highlights the issue of modern slavery and how neglected women have been in the telling of our nation’s history.   She will be the first woman on paper currency in over 100 years.

I have to pause for a moment because I am kind of blown away by those facts.  I knew them, but seeing them together really bring home to me how much good (and not so good) $20 can do.  I believe strongly that we are here to support each other, to collaborate and to lift each other up. I am choosing to focus on the good things that $20 can do.  It is wonderfully fitting that a $20 bill with a former slave on it will be used to support freedom for those who are still enslaved.  Until then, I will happily give up a few days of choices between a mocha frappuccino and a chai tea latte to make a difference in the life of someone who doesn’t have the ability to choose anything.  And I will do it with a piece of currency that has a slave owner on it until the late 2020s.  How perfectly ironic and satisfying.  I will still enjoy my frappuccinos and my movies, but I will also enjoy the knowledge that each month, my “Twenty for Tubman™” (how I LOVE alliteration!) will be supporting survivors in their journey to becoming free.  And that is something Harriet Tubman knew a lot about.

Sign up here to give your Twenty for Tubman™ each month with Durga Tree International!

Gifting Your Gift

Susan Marek

Gifts are wonderful.  They bring to mind brightly wrapped boxes with frilly bows or colorful bags with tissue paper flowing over the sides. I get so excited when someone gifts me with something special.  A gift can be a noun or a verb!  Isn’t that clever?  We may think gifts are only for birthdays, anniversaries or other holidays, but really, gifts can and should be given with reckless abandon everyday of the year!

 

I have a gift for writing.  I have had this since I could hold a crayon and my writing has grown from a comic book about a superhero car to books, articles, essays and blogs.  The point is, I never stopped sharing my gift of writing with the world.  Whether my readers were my parents, teachers, clients or the whole world wide web, I knew it was my mission to share my writing.    

 

When Beth Tiger, executive director of Durga Tree Int’l, asked me to help write material for Durga Tree, I immediately said, “YES!”  I could use my way with words to help share the message and mission of Durga Tree with others.  I am able to volunteer for a cause that sets my heart ablaze and “gift my gift” to help others.  And that in return, is quite a gift to me.

 

What kind of gifts do you have that could be shared to help others?  Some people give the gift of money, some their time; others gift goods and/or services.  Perhaps you are an artist who could give their talents and time toward a cause you are passionate about.  You could be an accountant who could gift their time and expertise with numbers.  You might be great at organizing, party planning or baking.  Whatever your gifts, they certainly can be used and would be greatly appreciated by a cause to which you are devoted.  You, too, could “gift your gift” and that is something that doesn’t need to be brightly wrapped or in a colorful bag to be the best gift of all.

Me? An Abolitionist? Yes!

Susan Marek

I never thought I would say, “I’m an abolitionist.”  I might say, “I’m an author” or “I’m a teacher.”  Even “I’m late for dinner.” But never “I’m an abolitionist.”  I think that’s because I didn’t really understand what that meant.  I’m a 40-something woman with three teenagers, an awesome husband, 3 dogs, a cat and a rabbit.  I am president of the junior high parent organization, chauffeur for my non-driving teens and expert whisky drinker.  I love to travel, exploring ancient sacred sites during the day and drinking a nice glass of sparkling in the evening.   I have authored children’s books, novels (I promise they are coming!) and a book for those of us who need to get off their status quo asses and do what we were meant to do (That last one I wrote for me.).  I am busy most days riding (and surviving) the waves of teenage hormones mixed with angst mixed with know-it-all-itis.  I make professional phone calls in yoga pants and write while sitting on a couch with dogs piled on top of me. 

 

I am one of the nameless people you see in the grocery store, trying to figure out how you know an avocado is ripe (hint – remove the stem like thing.  If it’s green underneath, it’s ripe). I stand in line with you at the DMV and commiserate about the long lines and short tempers.  I worry about my kids, wonder if I can wear sparkly eye shadow as I approach 50 (the answer is YES!) and try to come up with new home decorating ideas by spending hours on Pintrest.  I might seem ordinary, but my life is anything but.  My life and I are made extraordinary because I don’t settle for mediocrity.  I say YES to things that challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone.  With a mountain of fear, I said, “Let’s do this!” when asked to help end human trafficking.  I had no idea how but I did know why. So how can someone who seems so ordinary, become an abolitionist?  A Change-Maker?  Simple.  I had my eyes opened to the fact that slavery is alive and doing very well throughout the world.  I listened to an enslaved young woman tell the story of her life in clothing manufacturing.  I saw that children who were the same ages as my son and daughters were being sold as sexual playthings 20, 30, 40+ times a day in this country and other countries.  I heard that a young child, barely out of diapers was rescued from life as a sex toy.  She had the DNA of SIXTEEN MEN inside of her when rescued.  I want you to stop for a moment and let that soak in.  4 years old.  SIXTEEN MEN.  I nearly threw up when I heard that.  I wept huge tears full of sadness and mama bear anger.   I wept for those children bearing children from rape, for the individuals forced into slavery by lies and greed, for the families torn apart by traffickers.  Some things you can never unsee, unhear or unknow.  My eyes were opened and I was angry, frustrated, appalled.  You don’t have to be a parent to understand that this is so very wrong on so many levels.  It’s not just my maternal instincts that get me fired up.  It’s my humanity and my heart saying, “No more!” 

 

I began to educate myself more on the trafficking issue.  I donated. I read endless articles about the plight of the modern human slave.  When my friends Beth and Tim Tiger and Jess Hoertel started Durga Tree International, I knew this is where I wanted to give my time and energy.  I still donate, I still read and now I use my gift for writing to help educate people on this horrific crime against humanity.  In this way - in MY way - I have become an abolitionist.  A Change-Maker.  Using my gifts, I am making change happen. Try the word “abolitionist” on for size.  I’m sure it fits.  One size fits all in this struggle for freedom for all.  We ordinary people can have an extraordinary life when we stretch ourselves and live from our hearts.  So I confidently now proclaim, “I am an Abolitionist, a Change Maker.” Who’s in?  Who will say YES with me in helping to abolish human slavery? It requires nothing but your passion to help others have choice in their lives, some for the first time ever.  Use your gifts, whatever they are, to make this happen.  And you can even do it in yoga pants. 

 

Think about your gifts and talents because I am coming back to this one…

 

 

Spring Cleaning on Steroids

Susan Marek

Spring has finally sprung here in the Pacific Northwest, and we are finally getting some gorgeous days full of sunshine!  The plants are awakening from their long winter naps, and animals are basking in the warm rays of the sun.  I am enjoying spending time outside, also soaking up the sun and seeing what new plants are in bloom.  I have always loved this time of year because it feels like the whole world is shaking off the doldrums of winter and coming back to life in their projects, their relationships, and their  missions.  Personally, I find myself at a place in my life where I am shaking off more than the winter blues.  It is a time for shedding of old ways that no longer are serving my highest good and incorporating new challenges into my life that allow me to grow and learn so I may "be all that I can be."  It is Spring Cleaning on Steroids. Just when you get comfortable and think you have done all you can do, WHAM!, God gives you something else.  I am still getting clear on the something else and keeping busy with the cleaning.  All of us are experiencing a purging of sorts right now.  We could be physically changing, adjusting our diets or activities.  We might be discontinuing relationships that have run their course. We could be releasing old habits and beliefs that no long feel true to our divine selves.  EVERYONE is doing some kind of Spring Cleaning on some level.  It is unavoidable with these energies that are catalyzing the change.  Clearing away the old to make room for the new.  So since we are all in the same boat, be kind to your self and others.  We are getting rid of some pretty old stuff that was near and dear to our hearts, no matter how bad it was for us, and that process is challenging.  You have the energetic Spring Cleaning on Steroids to thank for it and it's ALL GOOD!

I have some awesome things in the works and over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some very exciting news with you.  Stay tuned!  In the mean time, enjoy the sunshine.  Allow yourself to succumb to the cleansing energies that abound and discard what is no longer serving your highest and best good.  
One prayer that I love that really helps to anchor your mind in a place that will encourage you to allow these changes to occur is this:


          Today, I will allow myself to be surprised by God.

          I will invite and welcome the miracles which are so effortless to the Divine Mind.

          I will be open to the greatness and generosity, to the unparalleled imagination.

          I will respond with gratitude and dwell in the light of wonder! 

          By Kathleen McGowan

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Susan :)

So the world didn't end. What do we do now?

Susan Marek

So the world didn't end.  What do we do now?

Many of us were holding our breaths all year, waiting for that magical date of December 21st to roll around.  Some were expecting the apocalypse.  Some were expecting ET to take us away.  Some were expecting a major earthquake, tsunami, avalanche, flood or other natural disaster.  Me, I was on a rooftop overlooking the pyramids on the Giza plateau eating Egyptian food and chatting with friends.  I figured if the world was going to end, I might as well do it in style.

But it didn't end, and we all got up the next day and continued on with our lives.  But now what do we do?  Well, we usually sit and wait for something to happen TO us instead of creating something to happen FOR us.  I am guilty of it.  We wait...and wait...and wait. Then we whine about how nothing good ever happens to us and why don't we ever get to ___________.  That is sooooo 2012.  2013 is about harnessing the energies that entered into our lives in December (Oh yes they did.  In a HUGE way!), and using them to propel us forward in our missions.  Yes, you have a mission.  It might seem as though your mission is nonexistent, but never fear.  It's there, waiting for you to catch up or catch on.  Once you do, you are in for the ride of your life.

If all this seems a bit daunting, then take some baby steps.  Make a list of things your heart wants to get done this year.  Not your wallet or your ego.  Your heart.  Your heart knows where you are supposed to be, and it can help you to create something FOR you instead of waiting for something to happen TO you.  After you have made your list, commit to doing one thing that brings you closer to something on your list.  Maybe it's reading a new book or taking a class.  It could be researching a new job or spending time with friends. Whatever small step you take will bring you into the energy of creation instead of the stagnation of waiting.  So let's not waste any more time waiting for life to come to us.  Or waiting for the world to end.  Because it's not.  It's just beginning.

Hands-On Divine Guidance!

Susan Marek

Who wants to join me?!!?  This is my favorite workshop to do as we have so much fun doing readings for each other and discovering more about our own gifts!


Sat. June 30, 10:30-1:30 pm, $30, New Renaissance Bookshop, Portland Oregon


In this hands-on workshop, you’ll learn a variety of tools and techniques for using your “clairs” (clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, and claircognizance) to experience Divine guidance. Learn and experience chakra clearing as a tool for opening your clairs. Use guided exercises to become comfortable experiencing guidance reception through each clair individually and in partner format. Also, learn to use and read oracle cards and pendulums. Please bring an oracle deck or purchase one at NRB.  


Contact New Renaissance for more information or to register. 503.224.4929

New Children's Book (or two...) in the Works!

Susan Marek

I am a writer.  It has taken me a long time to truly embrace that title, but there, I've said it.  Publicly, in fact.  So now it must be true, right?  I have been making the transition to full time-writer for a while, but now that I have recovered from jet lag from my recent trip to France, Spring Break with my children, and the frenzy of the Easter weekend, I can embrace this idea of writer/author with enthusiasm.  

I am currently working on a few projects, one of which is a new book for children on clairs.  I am excited to introduce these gifts in a fun and easy-to-understand way.  It will be a nice compliment to my first book, "A Children's Guide to Chakras."  Look for more on that soon!

Thank you to all of you who supported "A Children's Guide to Chakras" during About.com's Readers' Choice Awards in March.  It was an honor to have the book nominated and to have received second place this year!  Congratulations to the book, "Chakra Awakening," this year's winner.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting about my recent trip to France.  Stay tuned for some stories and pictures of some of the amazing, sacred spaces I visited!

A Reader's Choice Nomination for "A Children's Guide to Chakras"!

Susan Marek

A few days ago I found out my book, "A Children's Guide to Chakras," had been named a finalist in the About.com's annual Reader's Choice Award competition.  What an honor!  I am so thankful to my readers for their support!  Voting begins today through March 21 for the awards.  I appreciate your support of this book!  It was a joy to write, especially since my children did the illustrations, so it is somewhat of a family affair.  You can vote here once a day.  Thank you voting and sharing the news!


Life is like a box of chocolates...

Susan Marek

This morning, a line from the movie, Forrest Gump, popped into my head. "My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."  "Hmmmm," I thought to myself, "Is that true? Do we really never know what we are going to get?"  Have you ever had a Whitman's Sampler?  You know, one of those big, yellow boxes of chocolates with the box top printed to look like a cross-stitched cloth?  Inside the lid they have a cheat sheet, a diagram of the chocolates and their flavors.  You could overlook or even completely miss this guide and be surprised - in a good or bad way - by the chocolate you choose.  Or you could look at the map of chocolates and choose according to your own preferences.  You wouldn't know exactly what they tasted like unless you actually picked it up and ate it, but you would have a heads-up as to what's awaiting you inside that luscious, sweet morsel.  Now that I've made myself hungry, I will finish my thought about life.  If we had a roadmap to our life, one that had some hints to where we are going, would we enjoy it more?  In my "work," and I use that term loosely because what I do is never a chore, my passion is to help others re-member their path and their connection to the divine.  I used to do that through readings, but am now called to help others see the roadmap for themselves, to teach them to read the signs that mark their path.  We don't always read the signs even if we see them, but we have a choice, free will, to decide how we want to proceed.  Do we eat the chocolate, or go for a different flavor?  Do we skip them all together and eat cake instead?  So life may be like a box of chocolates, but if we know what we are looking for, we may just know what we're going to get.  

Keep your eyes open!

Susan Marek

I have started this blog entry many times over the past few minutes, waxing poetic and sounding all fancy and knowledgeable.  I decided to backspace over all that and start again, this time in a more casual voice.  Not that I am not poetic, fancy, or knowledgeable.  I like to think I could run in those circles if I chose to.  Today is not a fancy day and instead I grace you with my random thoughts on 2012.  You know you have thought about the 2012 jibber jabber and prophecies that run rampant out there.  I have.  To me, the crazy energies of 2012 started about mid-2011 and will continue until the year finishes out.  It has been and will continue to be a roller coaster, with ups, downs, loop-de-loops and hairpin turns.  Hint about roller coasters, which I promise has a point:  Keep your eyes open when you go upside down.  I used to be scared out of my mind by those until one time I decided to try it with my eyes open.  Om My God!  (The Om was a typo, by the way, but I like it.  Perhaps it was God's way of inserting humor...) What a difference!  Keeping your eyes open the entire time is the way to go!  So to the point.  This year, don't close you eyes when you get tossed upside down by the crazy energies.  Keep them open because you will see where you are going AND where you have been.  What an opportunity for learning and growth! This year is all about YOU.  Not about your significant other, your best friend, your children, your cat.  It is time for YOU to re-discover who YOU are and why YOU are here.  Selfish, you say?  Not a bit.  Like the flight attendants always tell us, "Put your oxygen mask on first, then help those around you." Think of it this way.  If you are taking care of yourself, learning more about what makes you happy and finding your joy, won't everyone who matters to you in your life be happier?  Your happiness will make them happy, but more than that, it is INSPIRING to them as well.  We are meant to live in joy.  We are meant to share joy.  Find your joy this year, despite the ups and downs that will come your way.  Be the inspiration for others and never close your eyes to the miracles that are awaiting you around the hairpin turn.


Nothing is too good for you!

Susan Marek

Yesterday, I was re-introduced to the writing of Florence Scovill Shinn by a dear friend.  She posted a quote on her Facebook page that I happened to see.  It was exactly what I needed to "hear' at that moment.  Quintessential divine guidance. I just "happened" (an accident?  I don't think so...) to have Shinn's book in my bookshelf and began re-reading it.  It was like I had never seen her writings before.  I have changed so much since buying the book last year that I was looking at it with new eyes and a new heart.  I want to share the quote that was shared with me yesterday.  "Nothing is too good to be true, nothing is too wonderful to happen, nothing is too good to last; when you look to God for your good." - Florence Scovill Shinn.  You may be more comfortable inserting Spirit or The Universe or something else for God, but in any case, you are looking beyond your human ego self and toward a Higher Power.  Then, be open the miracles that come because you are declaring that nothing is too good for you.  And that's powerful!

The Pieta of Saint-Sulpice

Susan Marek

Saint-Sulpice stands at the corner of two small rues in Paris, not far from the Seine.  Her towering exterior, although lovely, pales in comparison to the mysteries and beauty inside.  There are gorgeous sculptures, paintings and stained glass wherever you look.  There is even a copy of the shroud of Turin in one chapel.  There is one piece of sculpture that caught my attention and continues to frequently occupy my thoughts. 
Pieta in Saint-Sulpice

Pieta in Saint-Sulpice


This piece is located in the Chapel of the Souls in Purgatory.  Purgatory, by the way, no longer exists, as decreed by the Pope. It is no longer a place, so much as a state of being. Wonder what happened to everyone who was there? The official guide book just lists it as "Pieta by Clesinger (1868).  Masterpieces of Saint-Sulpice, another book put out by the church, says, "Over the altar was set a stone Pieta between two angels, Clesinger's work." No sign. No plaque.  The books don't even have a picture, but they do dedicate about four, large, color pages to the church organ. Come on!  I am appalled by the obvious disrespect that is paid to this magnificent sculpture.  It is purposely overlooked for obvious reasons.  Look at the way Mother Mary is embracing both Mary Magdalene and Jesus.  Really take in the facial expressions of the Mary's.  It moves me to the core whenever I look at it.  Notice Mary Magdalene's hand under her beloved's.  It is both beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.  It brings up so many layers of thought and emotion in me.  Human mortality. Nature of Love.  Types of Love. Death. Life. Mother-in-laws. Church doctrine. Heresy. If I could find one, I would buy a reproduction of this for my home.  It is that powerful.  And it just one of the many wonders of this church. 

Chartres - Not just another pretty façade

Susan Marek

With breathtaking towers that reach toward heaven, Chartres Cathedral sits as a living monument to love.
Chartres Cathedral

It is truly a living, breathing embodiment of eternal love and divinity, as it was built by people who imbued each stone and piece of glass with these ideals.  One of the only places to withstand assault by revolutionaries and war and survive intact, its beautiful stained glass and intricate carvings tell stories of the devoted that laid the foundation of faith.

Chartres Cathedral
At first glance, one would think that Chartres was just another pretty church, but upon closer examination, you will find layers upon layers of stories woven into the stone, beseeching the pilgrim to go within and investigate his truth.  It was this way for me when first arriving in Chartres.  Entering through the north portal, overseen by the wise Saint Anne, I literally caught my breath when I stepped into the body of the church.  The glow from the windows coupled with the sheer size put me in sensory overload.  I began to walk from chapel to chapel, trying to take in the statues, pictures, and information.

Chartres Cathedral - Look who greets you above the door!

Some of the church is being restored, so a portion is covered in scaffolding and shielded from public view, which is probably a good thing for me since the I was already at maximum information capacity.  The first evening, I made my way around the cathedral, experiencing and feeling the energy.  I saw amazing statues (A Black Madonna!) and Mother Mary's Veil.
Black Madonna, Chartres

Notre Dame sous la terre
Mother Mary's veil

Tomorrow, we were going to walk the labyrinth, and I didn't want to be distracted by all the things Chartres had to show me. 

On most Fridays, the Chartres labyrinth is cleared of the blemish of chairs, and pilgrims are allowed to walk its path.  I was a labyrinth virgin, having saved myself for Chartres.  For years, I have wanted to build a labyrinth even though I had never walked one.  Past life memories, I think, were pulling on me to remember the magic and sacredness of The Walk. I knew the first time needed to be in Chartres.  I felt like I was coming home when I stepped inside the cathedral Friday morning and prepared to enter the labyrinth.  Giving a nod to Mary Magdalene in her window, I began my journey to the center.  Each person will have a different experience when they walk the labyrinth.  I had unique experiences each of the four times I walked it that day, with deep reflections and personal epiphanies.  It was interesting to watch people walk it as well.  People walked slowly, quickly, absentmindedly, purposefully.  Children ran down the paths.  One adult did cartwheels.  Some stopped every few steps to contemplate, while others were in a hurry to reach the center.  I wondered if the way they walked reflected the way they lived.
labyrinth, Chartres


My time in Chartres was not long enough to discover the sacred secrets that she holds, but did give me a brief introduction to the mysteries that have yet to be solved. 

Vezelay!

Susan Marek

The drive to the north of France was lovely.  We passed chateau after chateau as we wove our way down country roads and through small villages toward Vezelay.  Our mission:  another church with mystery!  Vezelay is a small town with a quaint main street that leads uphill to the church.
Vezelay

This town is very much steeped in the Mary Magdalene traditions, with sea shells (one of her symbols) on buildings and embedded in the street.

The church has interesting carvings above the imposing doors and even small rats carved into the foot of one column!


Inside, the inner portal to the main body of the church has an intricate carving of Jesus along with the astrological symbols.  Unexpected and fabulous!  Who would have thought Jesus would share space with a Capricorn?

There is a chapel to Mary Magdalene across from the crypt.  She is holding the alabaster jar against her abdomen.
Mary Magdalene, Vezelay

Imbedded in the pedestal is a piece of her thigh bone.
Mary Magdalene reliquary, Vezelay

In the crypt is a beautiful reliquary containing a larger piece of her thigh bone.  Don't you think the reliquary looks Egyptian?
Mary Magdalene reliquary, Vezelay
The Crypt, Vezelay

There are beautiful statues of saints throughout the church, as well as some painted saints on the columns.  In addition to the Mary relics, one of the most fascinating things was something that wasn't on display.  It is the "host holder" that holds the sacred communion host for adoration.  It caught my eye on a sign in the church.  I think my jaw dropped open when I saw it.
Ankh, Vezelay

The holy Catholic sacrament is displayed in an EGYPTIAN ANKH!  LOVE IT!  In many of the shops in town, there are references to the Church, Egypt, Freemasons, and paganism.  What a unique and mysterious combination!  I love Vezelay!

After  brief visit, we left and made our way west to Chartres...