Oct 9, 2013 - Uncategorized    No Comments

What do I want to spend my time on?

Sundial

Photo credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/juditu

Dear Pope Francis,

I was talking to my mom yesterday. She’s my go-to guru when I’m stuck or need to look at things a different way. Both my parents, actually, are great sources of wisdom.

Anyway, I was expressing a sense of overwhelm I’ve had lately. It just seems that I have so many things pulling me in so many directions right now, it’s hard to figure out what to focus on first.

After listening, my mom said, “What do you want to spend your time on?” This struck me profoundly. I seem to spend my days worrying about how others want me to spend my time. To some extent, this is a fact of working for a living. I need to make money to support myself, so I need to incorporate the needs of others into my life. But, I think that where I can be more careful is how I apportion hours that are truly mine. I’m only at work for a certain number of hours a day; the rest are mine to do with as I see fit. That may seem like a simple idea, but, for me, it’s something of a profound realization.

Hand-in-hand with that is the idea of being more present and mindful asI go about my day. Every moment I have the opportunity to choose my focus and my intention. This, too, is a powerful insight.

As I was thinking about all of this, I saw this quote from Pema Chodron’s most recent book pop up on Facebook. It spoke perfectly to where I am right now and I thought I’d share:

“At some point, if you’re fortunate, you’ll hit a wall of truth and wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. At that point you’ll feel highly motivated to find out what frees you and helps you to be kinder and more loving, less klesha driven and confused. At that point you’ll actually want to be present—present as you go through a door, present as you take a step, present as you wash your hands or wash a dish, present to being triggered, present to simmering, present to the ebb and flow of your emotions and thoughts. Day in and day out, you’ll find that you notice sooner when you’re hooked, and it will be easier to refrain. If you continue to do this, a kind of shedding happens—a shedding of old habits, a shedding of being run around by pleasure and pain, a shedding of being held hostage by worldly concerns.”

What all of this means for me, I think, is that I am going to pay more attention to how I’m spending the time that is mine, and my intentions for what happens during that time. I may not have 24 hours in a day all to myself, but I do have a good portion of them.

Your friend,

Kevin

(By the way, the link to Pema Chodron’s book goes to my affiliate site on Amazon. If you purchase the book through that link I get a bit of money.)

Oct 8, 2013 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Paula D’Arcy

Dear Pope Francis,

I had the privilege of meeting author, speaker and retreat leader Paula D’Arcy at this year’s Sophia Summer Institute.

I first encountered Paula through a CD recording she did with Richard Rohr titled “A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.” I picked it up from Rohr’s merch table when he visited Sophia during one of my weekends there. From my first listen, I was immediately struck by Paula, her story, and her humor. She has an amazing ability to reveal bigger truths through he words.

Paula is someone I deeply admire, and, so, I was looking forward to hearing her speak at the Summer Institute. From the start of the Institute I’d been trying to come up with a way to approach her at some point. Maybe I’d come up after she spoke? Maybe I’d catch her in line for food? I just knew I wanted to meet her and say hello. But, I just didn’t know how it would happen.

On the second morning of the Institute I made my way to the cafeteria. I got my breakfast, grabbed coffee, and then scanned the room for somewhere to sit. People were still getting to know each other, so it was a bit of a dance as to see where open spaces were, who might be receptive to company, etc… I chose a table with an open chair and made a beeline, not even looking at who was sitting there. After I put my plate down and looked up, people started to introduce themselves. One woman with mid-length black hair said her name was Paula.

“Paula D’Arcy?” I blurted out.

“Yes,” she said.

And there I was, meeting Paula D’Arcy, just out of the blue and without requiring any of my plans. The Divine works in mysterious ways, indeed.

During my vacation, I brought one of Paula’s books with me to read. To be honest, my brain wasn’t really up for “serious” stuff. I must have finished about 7 novels during the trip. But, one day, I picked up Paula’s book, took it out on the deck, and began to read. Her words, as always, comforted and inspired me.

You might want to check out some of Paula D’Arcy’s books.

Your friend,

Kevin

(BTW, any books you buy through the links on this page will give me a little commission from Amazon.)

Oct 6, 2013 - Kind of Random    1 Comment

The best laid plans…

Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Photo credit: Kevin Aschenbrenner

Dear Pope Francis,

So, I didn’t mean to disappear on you. Not really. You see, I’ve just returned from a 10-day vacation, touring the Canadian Maritimes and also New England. It was amazing. The photo at the top of this post is the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. Truly a remarkable place. I’ve never been to the Maritimes before, and it was a great experience. It really brought home how big Canada is, and how different the various regions are.

When I was planning for my trip, I had everything set in my mind for how I’d handle being away from a computer and a reliable Internet connection for 10 days. I wanted to keep up the daily posts, and so I thought I’d just write extra posts ahead of the trip and set them to go up automatically while I was away.

That, however, didn’t quite work out. I got sick before I left, and things got very, very busy. I also came to realize that I desperately needed a break and some real re-charging time. So, I decided not to push my limits before my vacation and to just let some things slide for a bit.

I had also planned to write while I was away, taking time out each morning to journal and maybe jot down some poetry. That didn’t happen either. I just did not feel the urge to write. And, by the second day of the trip, I’d made peace with that too. I’ve been writing constantly for more than three years, working on this blog, another blog, my Masters program assignments, and other writing. My day job also involves a lot of writing. And, so, it was kind of a relief to not have to put fingers to a keyboard for awhile.

I think that was a good thing. At the beginning of my trip I felt rather empty. I didn’t have much to write about. The well was dry. And then, a couple of days before the end of my vacation, ideas started to bubble again. I was almost giddy as blog post topics and poem themes rose up from wherever they come from. I jotted them down and you’ll see some of them in the weeks ahead.

So, Pope Francis, I’m back, and ready to resume my daily posts. How I got here isn’t how I planned, but it was a perfect journey.

Your friend,

Kevin

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