Are you Living a Life of Purpose?

innerfireDiscovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you, and bigger than your circumstances. And to find them you must get off that couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than you, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without you.

“What do I want to do with my life?” “What am I passionate about?” It’s a struggle almost every adult goes through. You even come across people in their 40s and 50s having no clue what they want to do with themselves. They could be highly qualified, having a great job, making plenty of money, but just existing.

For most of us, our day begins when we wake up, go to work, return home, prepare dinner, watch TV and hit the bed. Everything is routine, and you find your life is far from perfect because you are stuck in a rat race.

So when people say, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” what they’re actually asking is: “What can I do with my time that is important?” Discovering purpose in our lives can be something that’s fun and interesting, not a chore. Let’s find out;

Firstly, learn to be self-aware

It’s the very first obstacle you face when you want to live a more meaningful life. People tend to overrate their strong points and belittle their weak points. This prevents them from seeing the real picture. However, it is important to be realistic and not be afraid to face your drawbacks.

Everything involves sacrifice. Everything includes some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time.

So the question is: what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the rough patches and ride out the unescapable rotten days.

If you want to be a brilliant tech entrepreneur, but you can’t handle failure, then you’re not going to make it far. If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected, then you’re done before you start. If you want to be a teacher, but can’t stand the 80-hour workweeks, then we’ve got bad news for you. What unpleasant experiences are you able to handle? Are you able to have people laugh you off the stage over and over again until you get it right? When you know your personality you have better chances to figure out your purpose and stick to it.

Find your passion

What are you passionate about?   What excites you or what makes you think, that I could do this all day and every day? That’s what really gives us the sense of purpose. What do you love to do most? Your passion makes your life worthwhile and meaningful.

What is true about you today that would make your 18-year-old self cry?

Soon after college, I started working, but I remember, after I returned from work, I would sit in my room for hours and make satin flowers, wedding centerpieces and lose myself making them. Not because I wanted to impress my parents or friends. But for the sheer joy of it.

And then, for some reason, I stopped. And I don’t remember why. We all have a tendency to lose touch with what we once loved to do. And it wasn’t until now, that I remembered how much I enjoyed creating art with my hands — something I did in my early teens, just for fun.

The funny thing though, is that if my 18-year-old self had asked me now, “Why don’t you make flowers or centerpieces anymore?” and I replied, “Because I’m not good at it,” or “Because nobody would want it,” or “Because you can’t make money doing that,” not only would I have been completely wrong, but that 18-year-old teen version of myself would have probably started crying.

Living a life avoiding embarrassment is akin to living a life with your head in the sand. Great things are, by their very nature, unique and unconventional. Therefore, to achieve them, we must go against the grain. To do that is scary, embrace embarrassment! Feeling foolish or failing is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful.

Keep things simple

Train your focus on the bigger picture you want to attain. Tending to trivial things can greatly complicate your life. Keep it simple. Screen through the petty things in your life and prioritize that what’s important. Not only will it help you to feel less overwhelmed, you’ll also see the path of your goals more clearly. It will enable you to lighten stress and be more contented with your life. Don’t be dictated by what other people think about you and don’t pretend to be someone else.

What makes you forget about yourself?

We’ve all have had that experience where we get so wrapped up in something that minutes turn into hours and hours turn into “Gosh, I forgot to have dinner.”

When making the satin flowers or centerpieces for the weddings, I would sit and place all attention and time to what I was making instead of doing more important things like cooking dinner or even speaking to my family.

It wasn’t until I gave up art that I realized my passion wasn’t in the making of the flowers or art pieces (although I do love them). My passion is for beauty and being good at it, and improving and making it better, and then trying to make it even more beautiful by blending it with themes. Just making flowers, centerpieces were cool, but I can easily live without them. It was the competition — with myself — that I thrived on. And when I applied that obsessiveness for improvement and self-competition to my creating art, well, things took off in a big way.

Whatever it is, don’t just look at the activities that keep you up all night, but look at the cognitive principles behind those activities that enthrall you, because they can be, easily applied elsewhere.

Make use of goal setting

Recognizing your goals isn’t enough, you should learn to decide the right goals. They should always be well-defined, realistic and set by timelines. Setting short-term and long-term goals can add a great meaning to your life. When you see the direction, it’s easier to stay motivated and determined. Your goals are the driving force that makes you get up earlier and work hard. Moreover, you’ll be able to use your time and energy more effectively, making you more productive and closer to realizing your dreams.

Surround yourself with people who make you feel better

Try to avoid toxic people who are constantly complaining, criticizing, nagging or negative. You know that habits are contagious and even if you don’t intend, you adopt the behavior of those who are around you. So surround yourself with people who can teach you something useful and spread positivity. Use every opportunity to communicate with a smart person and learn something new and helpful and stay motivated.

Stay inspired

It is hard to stay inspired each day. Pat yourself for little achievements, read inspirational books, or get in touch with your friends. You can find a lot of things out there to always stay inspired. When you are focused and your efforts are steady you will avoid getting stuck in day-to day activities and look for alternate solutions. Traveling and learning something new are also great inspiration boosters. Try to draw inspiration from within you.

Never underrate the role of your family and your close ones

While thinking about your ultimate goal, many people imply only their job and underrate the importance of their family. However, family was and always will be your biggest support and help. You may become a first-rate professional, but if you fail as a parent or child, your life can hardly be called meaningful.

When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them, and they don’t know what their values are. And when you don’t know what your values are, then you’re essentially taking on other people’s values and living other people’s priorities instead of your own. This is a one-way ticket to unhealthy relationships and eventual misery.

If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered?

Most of us don’t like thinking about death. It freaks us out. But thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and insignificant. It pushes people to really think about their lives in a different way and re-evaluate what their priorities were.

How would you like if your headstone will read: “Here lies [Insert your name] (you), she/he watched every episode of “Desperate Housewives”… twice. What a wasted Life!”

What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? Is there anything to say at all? How can you start working towards that today?

A meaningful life will give you the feeling of fulfillment and you’ll feel happier and look forward to every day. To live your ultimate dream, you will find it difficult to begin, and will have to put in great efforts and have a lot of thought, but you can start with small steps and gradually incorporate all the habits into your life. Regardless of your purpose, strive your best to achieve it.

Falling Leaves

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I stare in a trance, watching

the leaves twirling in their last dance!

They twist and turn, fall to the ground

gliding ever so gently

Some still clinging to the trees

their beauty alluring!

Flaring their true colours, our days grow long

red, yellow, gold or brown, the wind blows

They fall twirling in their last dance!

Each shade to match the sun’s glare

whispering shadows in moonbeams

So much beauty, just one season!

Colourful memories of gorgeous hues

amazing how quick we forget

the beauty they give, as we rake them away

while They fall twirling in their last dance

Don’t Just Be Thankful…Be Grateful!

IMG-20141215-WA0034At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Albert Schweitzer

Time flies doesn’t it? Hard to believe it’s December already. It’s a nostalgic mixed bag for many of us — a roller coaster of highs and lows. Some succeeded in work, others struck-out, some hearts fluttered, others broke. Families joyfully said hello to little additions, and tearfully bid farewell to loved ones passing.

It’s a time when reflection and contemplation is unavoidable. Coming to the end of anything causes us to look back on the journey. But it can be a powerfully therapeutic practice if we’re intentional. We’re the sum total of our experiences-reflection allows us to sift the good from the bad, to be thankful, and to grow and transform.

I am told that there is a difference between being thankful and being grateful.  Being thankful is appreciating something you already have, while being grateful is appreciating something you have, and that you don’t, but have faith that it is coming.

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts. ”

Henri Frederic Amiel

Whatever the designation, there is abundance in life and we should appreciate everything with which we’ve been so richly blessed. If it helps someone in their own personal clarification process, that’s certainly cool. I believe that being thankful, appreciating something and having gratitude for that which we already have as well as for that we desire gives it continuity to our existing state.

I am thankful for my family and many friends that motivate, support, inspire, comfort, champion, fight, push me forward, and have gratitude for the beautiful ‘Life’ experiences we have been blessed with and all the fine things we have ahead of us.

Being in a state of gratitude keeps us mentally and emotionally connected to our goals.  It sends out a very different vibration than if we think “I want it, but I don’t have it yet.”  When we think this way, the dominant vibration is one of “not having” rather than have the faith that it is coming, Believe me, it is a fantastic feeling.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

Melody Beattie

So when you think of a goal, do you ever feel grateful for it coming, or do you think “I will be grateful when it gets here.”  Do you think there is a difference?

Give it a try~ think of something you really want to have or do or be.  Then try feeling gratitude for having it; try to feel how you will feel when you do have it.  Do you notice a difference?

I agree, it is REALLY hard to be grateful for something you don’t yet have, but with practice it gets easier and the vibration attached to that gratitude does some amazing things.

As we reflect on how others have poured into our lives, we’ll think of ways we can pay it forward.

  1. A “People” List. New friends and old — networking connections that turned out to be so much more. Think through the people who really impacted your life this year, those who encouraged you, those who believed in you, those who gave you a massive break — acknowledge them, and those who let you down, betrayed, backstabbed, etc, be grateful for all those opportunities, cos that only made you stronger.  I for one, was overtly happy because I re-connected with my college friends, after almost 29 years. Yet to meet some of them in person, but all the same, thanks to Technology and Networking we are in touch every day.
  2. A “Personal Achievement” List. Whether it’s professionally, spiritually, physically, intellectually, or relationally, write down the ways you’ve succeeded in these areas. Perhaps a promotion at work, or finally breaking free from your job; becoming more committed to your beliefs; increasing your fitness levels; spending more time with your partner. You’ll be surprised at how much you were able to accomplish in one year. It’s healthy to give yourself a pat on the back, and it’ll be fuel and motivation to progress in your goals.
  3. A “Mistakes And Lessons Learned” List. The only failure is in failing to learn from the experience. Everyone’s a little bruised and battered from falling flat on our faces throughout the year. Make a list of mistakes for the sole purpose of drawing a valuable lesson from each one. Our trials can be our greatest teachers, if we take the time to sit and listen.
  4. A “Laughter” List. Humor is incredibly healthy. Laughter is not only a unique human experience, but something we can never have too much of. No doubt there were plenty of incidences that would’ve gone viral had you caught them on camera. At least you can put them on paper. This will be a difficult list to put together as you’ll keep interrupting yourself with a good ol’ belly laugh. More than just releasing happy chemicals, it’ll remind you not to take life, or yourselves too seriously.
  5. A “Contribution” List. This list is typically the most difficult to put together, because it often uncovers the extent of our selfishness. But, no pain no gain right? Make a list of ways that you’ve given without any expectation of return: a random act of kindness, a generous donation, or helping someone out at work.

The good news is, the year isn’t over yet, and this is one list we all want to grow.

By being truly grateful in this moment, in this second and in this breath, in and out, will you release yourself and others from pain and suffering, allowing you to live the life you were always intended to live.

There are literally many reasons why being grateful is of huge benefit, with just a mere few being listed below:-

Being grateful  —

  • Changes your life for the better
  • Causes you to feel good about everything
  • Allows you to understand everything is ok
  • Releases fear from your soul
  • Helps to let go
  • Makes your life happier
  • Restores your sense of freedom
  • Restores your confidence, self esteem and self control
  • Gives you a more positive attitude and brighter outlook on life
  • Reduces unnecessary levels of stress
  • Allows you to be grateful for life itself
  • Allows you to focus on all the good things in your life
  • Gets you to realise you have far more good things in your life than you perhaps first thought
  • Directs you to look at what you do have as opposed to what you don’t
  • Attracts people and things into your life more in alignment with who you are and what you desire
  • Helps you become more effective and advance in a manner suitable to you
  • Provides you with a greater sense of health, well-being and inner peace
  • Allows you to realise your full potential is always accessible to you, when you wish to exercise it
  • Opens your mind to the true nature of abundance and possibility
  • Gives you the power to be and do anything
  • Frees you from the limits of your mind, your past and thoughts of doubt and negativity
  • Allows you to see that what’s right, wrong, good and bad is only your perception
  • Frees you from judgment — both that of yourself and others
  • Wins back your life setting you free

What are you thankful for?

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”

Buddha

The ONE Question Winners ALWAYS Ask?.

WinnerTakesIt All

Over the few years I have had my fair share of successes and losses, along with obstacles and setbacks, opportunities and luck too. I was contemplating upon this recently as I stumbled into a block. Hundreds of emotions raced through my mind as the reality set in that my dreams were far from reaching my goals.

To say that I was disheartened would truly be an understatement. Just A few days earlier I had an intuition that victory would surely be mine, the excitement pulsating in me of my visions that would soon be manifested. But my bubble burst and the reality raced in doubly fast that my dream was not to be, I felt so let down.

So close……… Yet so far.

“The difference between winners and losers is that losers don’t fail enough.”

When life does not go as planned, I have learned that I have choices, I can wallow in self-pity and make up stories to justify the experience or try and convince myself that this was not really that important or take a step forward and ask that one powerful question.

Any guesses on what you think the question is?

“What is it that I can learn from the experience?”

This question turns my focus around 360° in a heartbeat and before I know it I can see infinite solutions, opportunities, prospects, breaks, openings, probabilities, beginnings, leads, …… Success is inevitable for those who confront setbacks and disappointments with this simple question. The only failure in life is not learning anything from your experience. You stop your success from not acknowledging your failure.

“What is it that you can learn from that experience?”

I suggest that you carry a pen and notebook along with you after you ask yourself this question. You will be amazed at how empowering this simple exercise is.

Be careful with what you agree on!

Winners believe in what’s possible and don’t focus on the impossible. They may see the obstacles but that doesn’t allow them to give up, they actively look for solutions. Losers see the difficulties and give up, for the problem is so big that it has blocked their vision, they can only see the darkness, end of the road.

Friends, you either possess the DNA of a natural born achiever or that of a sorry loser. Your attitude and ethics will take you places you want to go, to soar or plummet.

Lets figure out which category is your home. Take it as a self-assessment exercise. Below I will illustrate the traits of a natural born achiever as well as the characteristics of a loser. If the trait applies to you, put a check beside it. After you go through the list, calculate the number of checks you have in each category, category with the most checks is your home.

Let’s begin…

winner vs loser

Do you have the DNA of a Champ or an underdog?

Keep it real.

If you find yourself to be in the wrong category, shift your focus to the right category so that you can end the game of life as a winner.
Turn your dreams into reality. Be the one that steps out of the box. Be the Winner.

Our Fight To Stay In Mediocrity

Mediocrity Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds, Sun Rays and Sky.

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker.

This should serve as a stinging rebuke to most of us, as we sputter and hesitate, stuck in an endless loop of starting and stopping. We disengage our commitment as soon as we hit a rough patch. The problem is we lack the disciplined consistency to truly follow through to our living our dream life.

Have you ever followed someone in a car because you didn’t know the way? You attentively kept your eyes focused on the other person’s tail lights so you didn’t lose them. There was no break in your concentration. You didn’t stray to looking at the scenery. Instead, you consistently focused your eyes on the car in front of you. This is how you made sure of reaching your destination. Why then do you think you’ll be able to achieve when you allow yourself to be easily distracted?

It is confounding how we know that we have to plan in order to achieve something. If we want a better job, we have to work hard to develop the skills that will get us there. We’ll go to school, find mentors, and study all we can to better ourselves. If we want to retire financially well off, we calculate the money we’ll need to save each month in order to reach some magic number that will allow us to feel secure. When we go on vacation, we map out the route, make lists of what to pack and organize all our travel documents. Everything we do requires a plan to get it done. Yet when it comes to living a life of greatness, we seem to think it will just happen magically.

How many of us take obstacles to be the path, or recognize problems as doors instead of walls? Maintaining that perspective isn’t easy. It takes lots of support, and a great deal of clarity, not to succumb to mediocrity.

Mediocrity is an epidemic slowly but surely spreading across the nation. No one is safe anymore. I believe the main reason, many take the mediocre route is because from a young age we are encouraged to be careful and not to take risks. Also we’re told it’s better to be safe, and so we play it safe until the day we die.

The biggest roadblock to experiencing our greatest lives is, and always will be, is the need for life to be comfortable, safe and easy.

And then, just when we think we are safe, well settled, the talons of mediocrity latch unto you with a cruel force. You remember – once you were a lively, creative student of life but now you’ve fallen into the trap of complacency.

The highlight of your day is watching TV in the evenings. You lounge on the couch and think how contented you are. You work at a job just to pay the bills, dream of having grandkids, and die with money in the bank. Everything is slotted and organised.

Then one day you wake up to realize that you are in a perfect breeding ground of…you guessed it…mediocrity Ah, yes, mediocrity. You thought it would bypass you if you took the safe route in life. You wonder where the holes are in your life that allowed your big dreams to slowly seep out of you unnoticed.

At this point, you finally clue into the fact that the “happiness” you’ve been in pursuit of, in all these years cannot be found through more schooling, a better job, a bigger house, etc. No, mediocrity keeps rearing its ugly head after every significant life change so ultimately you realise that the problem is inside you. That’s how mediocrity has secretly acquired you.

It’s time to switch into the driver’s seat of your life and take control of the wheel. You’ve been coasting for way too long. You know it and I know it. We have to stop waiting, to reclaim our dreams and to start living the exact life we want to live (i.e. not the life that your parents or society inadvertently pushed on you). Living your life on your terms is your ticket to success.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a big undertaking. You have to be committed, but the payoff is worth it. Ready to pledge to conquer your fears, break free of the comfort zone and live the life of your dreams?

Here’s what you have to do “Fire yourself up and give mediocrity the boot”.

Stop thinking mediocre thoughts.

Mediocre thoughts breed 100% mediocre results. A mediocre thought leads to a mediocre choice which results in a mediocre outcome. As this cycle repeats over the years, the mediocrity in your life expands until it violently implodes and becomes the black hole in which your entire life gets sucked into.

Now you’re on the edge of your seat wondering: What is a mediocre thought? Mediocre thoughts are those that begin with phrases such as…
• I can’t take a risk that big at this point in my life.
• I don’t have time to start a side business.
• I won’t ever be able to make enough money to sustain myself without a job.
• I couldn’t imagine letting my family down if I fail.
• I’ll never be able to quit my day job.
• No one will ever care what I do.
Sounds familiar? Come on, admit it. We’ve all had our fair share of mediocre thoughts. And we’ve even said them loud sometimes.

Come to think of it : Have these thoughts ever lead you to a positive or worthwhile outcome in your life? Think hard before you answer. I’m guessing probably not. So why are you still thinking these thoughts? These types of thoughts only hold you back from living your life of greatness. They crush your dreams. They keep you from living a life of freedom. The bottom line—they do not serve you.

If you don’t make an effort to shake these types of thoughts, you can press the snooze button on your life right now. You’ll be chugging towards conformity, compliancy and mediocrity. And it might be decades before you find an exit route.

So how do you escape? Well, the common thread is that all of these thoughts are rooted in fear. Mediocre thoughts are fear-based thoughts. Understanding this simple fact allows you to get a handle on them.

The first step to overcoming fear-based thoughts is to become aware of them. You can’t see the elephant in the room if you’re constantly staring out of the window. Turn your awareness inward. Pay attention to the thoughts that are popping up in your brain repetitively. Are they thoughts that will guarantee a happy, fulfilling, passionate life? Or are they thoughts that are keeping you stuck in a rut? Don’t judge them—just pay attention.

The second step is to recognize fear-based thoughts for what they are—they’re merely distracting voices inside your head that are trying to keep you safe in your comfort zone. That’s it. They have no power. They’re just left over from the caveman days when getting out of your comfort zone meant getting eaten by a tiger waiting out on your doorstep. Now that would be a serious problem! Fortunately, the local people have told me that there hasn’t been a sighting around these parts for last 100 years now. Whew! You’re safe.

Step three is to replace these negative thoughts with positive ones. You don’t have to get rid of your mediocre thoughts—you just have to replace them with better thoughts. For instance, if you’ve been watching the News Channels your whole life (i.e. negative, fear-based), it’s time to flip to the Discovery or National Geographic Channel (i.e. interesting and uplifting stories). You don’t have to eliminate the News channels, you just have to change the channel. Same with your thoughts—when those repetitive mediocre thoughts pop up like virus, your job is to eliminate them with a positive thought.

If you stop thinking mediocre thoughts, you will be free to start living the life of your dreams. You will be fearless. You will be happy. You will be successful. But it all starts in your mind. It’s time to take the power back in your hands.

We have the “choice” to be incredible and to do incredible things. Why do something that’s not, or take the easy way out? Challenge yourself to live life exactly how you want. Greatness refuses to be limited or controlled in any way by fear. Greatness is fueled by one’s highest purpose and deepest passion.

There can be no consistency without a plan. You must know where you are going, how you are going to get there, and then execute those steps every day. There’s no right or wrong formula here; just do it. Consistency is the key. Don’t let yourself settle for mediocrity. Take a step today.

What Does It Take To Get Unstuck?

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“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” Viktor E. Frankl.

We have all experienced the feeling of “being stuck” some time or another in our lives. No matter what we try and do, nothing seems to work. We spin our wheels and expend our energies, but don’t seem to get where we want to go. …if decisions made in your recent times have landed you in a place of broken relationships, or emptiness, or depression, know this: it all began with your perspective. The trouble of being stuck began with your thinking.

When we are stuck, we often see our situation from a particular angle. Our focus is on our specific planned approach, a particular outcome we want to achieve, and how we want others to think of us. When things do not go as planned, it can be frustrating. Sometimes we try the same approach over and over, hoping for different results. We are stuck. We often are stuck on an approach that, frankly, isn’t working and probably won’t work no matter how many times we try it. So we are working to a point of madness, as Albert Einstein rightly defined: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So when this happens, one of the easiest ways to get unstuck is to change your perspective, of the situation. When, stuck in the middle of a situation that isn’t going as you’d hoped, it can be difficult to think of another approach, but when you change your perspective, you are able distance away from the problem and your position of being stuck reduces. This allows you space to come up with creative solutions which might work.

Sometimes this involves just taking a break from it, walking out of the problem to give you enough time to breathe and reflect on what is working and what is not. Take a break; sleep on it.

You can also distance away from the problem by imagining yourself floating above the situation in which you are stuck, and viewing it from a “bird’s eye” view. When you “rise above it” you are able to see both the situation and your role in it differently. You are less likely to experience intense emotion from far, and that allows you to think about an alternative approach.

Another approach is to give yourself the distance of time. Imagine yourself to be five to ten years in the future, looking back on this time in your life-when you were in the situation where you were stuck. As you look back on that time in 2003, try and remember what was it that changed things for you? Try to remember how your feelings about the situation changed as well? As you remember back then to that time when you were stuck, remember what you did that, helped yourself change. And if you had such a situation now, how would you deal with it now? Once you have a clear idea of what changed, come on back to the present, bringing yours solutions back with you. Are there any helpful ideas that can help you get unstuck now?

A further approach to getting unstuck through a change in perspective happens when a life event changes everything. Unexpectedly, something we think of as priority changes because of a crisis which puts everything into an altogether different perspective. We realize that those feelings of being stressed and stuck don’t matter as much because something else has assumed greater importance.

I had the opportunity to experience this first hand when I was constantly harassed at my job, that I was expending a lot of energy to do things right, to make seniors happy only to be ridiculed further, to a time that faded into the background because suddenly there was no job to go to. When this sort of a thing happens, the reasons for being stuck tend to evaporate because they suddenly are of little or no importance. While creating a catastrophe is definitely not a recommended way of changing your perspective, when one occurs, you can take advantage of it to get rid of feeling stuck. At least some good thing can come from that experience! I got a job that was so enriching and motivating, that you then tend to think, why I wasted so much of my energy, trying to improve, instead of looking beyond my situation.

So…take a different way home, talk to someone different, read a new book, check out that different website, pick up a new magazine, walk the other way around the block, go buy a different style of fashion wear, start changing some of your small habits and see what happens. See if you all of the sudden don’t feel so stuck anymore. Even small changes can change your perspective.

Today, you have a choice. You can keep doing the same thing, repeating the same patterns and never getting off the ground. Or you can embrace your power right now.

Travelling on a Pilgrimage

basilica of santa maria degli angeli

Blessed Pope John Paul II said that vacation is a great time to grow in our faith.

We’ve always loved visiting Catholic churches and pilgrimage sites, and admiring the art, architecture, and history behind them. Being fortunate to be born in a family with many priests and nuns we were blessed with the legacy that kept us all in strong spiritual faith. As I travelled any country, I always gravitated toward Catholic places, because, while I might have been in a foreign state or country, a Catholic church is always home.

When we travel for business, we’re usually focused on our business purpose, and when we travel for vacation, our goal is often relaxation or sightseeing. Pilgrimage can be those things and so much more. We learn while on pilgrimage, about a saint, for instance, like when you visit a shrine dedicated to him or her, or about a Catholic devotion, or that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We can soak in the energy of a place, like when we sit in a beautiful cathedral and let the light from the stained glass bathe us in peace, or when we reflect on the statues and think about the lives of the saints, or on the crucifix and think about God’s great sacrifice for us. Sometimes just touching the place or ground, where there was a vision or maybe Jesus walked, etc, makes it awesome, you feel overwhelmed by it all.

We step out of our comfort zones and make sacrifices and acts of reparation during pilgrimage, and doing so, definitely gives our visit so much more spiritual lift. Of course, some of us do that whenever we travel for any reason—driving in the car to work, dealing with long lines at the airport or grumpy travellers we might encounter. There are so many opportunities to offer things up. But pilgrimage is a perfect opportunity when we have the time to devote to God and his wonders. Many pilgrims will walk long distances to a shrine, sometimes even barefoot or on their knees! There are many traditions associated with pilgrimage that include sacrifices, and many times, pilgrims make a pilgrimage to ask for favours or a healing. What is amazing is that people from all over the world, from different walks, cultures, all visit these places with one intention that is to experience God and his saints and his wonders.

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When we were returning after a candle light procession at the Lady of Fatima Church, we were with a group of people walking back to our hotels and what we exchanged was so very beautiful, “Some from India, Some from Dubai, Some from Indonesia and Some from America, praying the rosary together in Fatima Portugal, in many different languages possible. There are no borders when we pray together”.

It’s just so wonderful to be among these pilgrims, who have such faith and who don’t give up on prayer, even if it takes years, decades. They trust that God hears them, and that our Blessed Mother will help them by bringing their prayers to her Son.

St Augustine said it best when he said, “our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” We have a colossal hole in our hearts, and a pilgrimage helps us fill that hole in a concrete way. We leave our homes, we travel a distance, and we arrive at a spot that, for one reason or another, makes us feel closer to God. As Catholics, we know that God is as close as our nearest church, where He waits for us in the tabernacle, body and blood. He is in everyone we see and meet, but there’s something special about visiting a magnificent place that does nothing but glorify God in its art and architecture, or that represents an important historical event or person in our faith and tradition, or people, children He has touched.

We were blessed to visit many amazing places, all of which helped us grow in closeness to God and His saints. The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, Vatican City, or the Cathedral of St Anthony, in Lisbon, or the Our Lady of Fatima Basilica, Portugal, or the Grotto at Our Lady of Lourdes, France, etc. These are houses of God, built to honor Him, His Blessed Mother, and the saints, to thank them for everything they do for us. Just stepping inside of them raises my heart and mind to God, and I never want to leave when I’m there or think I have to come again.

I’m blessed to have lived so close to a church, that I woke up to the Angelus Bell in the mornings. My Sundays were spent in listening to masses in different languages, while we did our chores, ate our meals, etc.

Travel is so much more beneficial, you get so much more out of it if you know what you’re looking for! Remember always when you are a pilgrim, you are a witness of Jesus Christ and His Church.

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The month of May is traditionally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which is marked by the practice of many beautiful devotions and customs in her honor. We were so fortunate to be present in Lourdes and participate in the candlelight procession, which is led by pilgrims bearing a replica of the Cabuchet Statue of the Virgin Mary. The focus of this procession is the rosary. All five decades are recited, usually in a variety of languages. There is a final blessing in Latin, and then an invitation to exchange the “Sign of peace” with fellow pilgrims

St Josemaria Escriva explained that, “Seeing how so many Christians express their affection for the Virgin Mary, surely you also feel more a part of the Church, closer to those brothers and sisters. It is like a family reunion (Christ is Passing By, 139).”

Pilgrimage gives us so many opportunities to give thanks to God, to be good, and to make sacrifices. It gives us the opportunity to behave like the Christ-bearers we claim to be. It also gives us a wonderful opportunity to meet people who experience God and the Church in ways that are different from ours. There’s nothing like attending Mass in a foreign language, and yet still knowing what is being said (aside from the homily!). It always reminds me of the universality of the Catholic church. The Mass is the same everywhere, in Philadelphia, in Rome, in the Philippines, in UAE and in Africa. And I absolutely love that. I also love the devotion people have, the silence they maintain specially inside the church, the reverence, the faith, it just is so very amazing.

Lourdes

A Pilgrimage also gives us many wonderful opportunities to grow in holiness by practicing the virtues of charity, patience and humility. I love to learn as much about a place or an event before I go somewhere—I see it as a sign of respect. I find that humility in all things brings great benefit. When you approach a stranger in humility, you’d be amazed at the wonderful things that can come of that meeting! In my travels, I’ve met with kind and generous people as well as mean and intolerant people. You never know what you’re going to get. But it always helps to remember that other people are always a great way to grow in holiness—they either inspire us or challenge us. How we respond is up to us. By behaving in a manner that is devoid of expectation and pride, we can allow others to see Christ in us, and we can see Him in them, and that, I think, expands our view of the Church to include everyone, while simultaneously making the world a smaller place by bringing us closer together in faith.