Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

“Some days are like that…even in Australia” were the wise words of the mother to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. It’s good advice. This mother empathizes and reassures Alexander that life will go on and tomorrow will be better.

This message in my inbox this morning:

Type Four EnneaThought®

What would happen if you stopped trying to understand yourself today? Would your world fall apart? 

This morning is a new day, and I’m not feeling as sad or overwhelmed. I won’t chew on my heartstrings all day today. I have children to teach. This is what I am telling myself anyway.

Grief is a weird thing. We all have it in our backpacks that we carry through our lives. Sometimes, it stays back there, weighing little to nothing. You think you’ll be fine. Hey, look what I am carrying with little or no effort. Aren’t I the strong one?

Then someone hugs you, touches your shoulder, gives you that look of empathy, and you crumble. Yesterday our choir master was back at church after a few months away. His mother had been diagnosed with end stage cancer and after she died, his father willed himself to follow her. They had been married over 70 years. This is not my story to tell, but it may give some context for why my own grief hit me hard yesterday. I was overjoyed to see him, but as soon as I hugged him, the tears welled up.

I wanted to understand these feelings. It was Sunday and all the while I did my Sunday chores, yard work, laundry, and so on, I wanted to understand and the more I tried to understand, the more I cried.

Today is a new day. I am breathing. I have a plate full of things to do. I will be OK.

Without even knowing what was going on with me, my friend texted me this affirmation:

I offered my best self today.
It doesn’t matter if I did everything perfectly.
The day is now past and I will let it be.
I am looking forward to the morning.
I have the power to make tomorrow a great day.
I will feed my strength with sleep.
Tomorrow I will grow further.

Source unknown

Today is a new day, a new week, and I don’t have to understand myself.

My hand gathering strength from a tree, Women’s Wellness Retreat, Lake Fausse Pointe

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

On my list of priorities, self-care often takes a backseat to family care. When the opportunity came up to attend a weekend at a nearby campground for an all women’s wellness retreat led by yoga instructors, I didn’t grab the opportunity. I texted Susan on the final call and signed up just for Saturday and only if I could find a friend to ride with. Then last week when my daughter told me she was taking her kids to the zoo in New Orleans “Surely you don’t want to miss a day with your grandchildren!” I sent another text. “Something has come up with my family. Can you find a replacement?” I was, as they say around here “Crawfishing my way out.”

On Thursday when I stayed home with some vertigo symptoms and took a Covid test convinced I would have a medical excuse to do none of it, I tested negative and my husband urged me to go on the retreat. “You deserve this.”

Here is a photo walk through the woods with 20 women tuning ourselves to the sounds and peace of nature. Mother earth was speaking, “Come home. Come home.”

Rewild Yourself

Tree hold me
to my

Margaret Simon

After a yoga flow session we headed into the forest for a “forest bath”. The instructor Tiffanie encouraged us to find a rainbow in nature. Green was all around. Not to mention poison ivy and signs warning of cottonmouth snakes. I powered through. I chose my colors from fiddle head fern to an unripe red blackberry. My favorite find was the orange heart-shaped leaf which I have pressed into my journal to remind me to love myself.

Nature struggles
each day–
a yellow leaf
the earth
into rebirth.
I find myself
behind all the others
holding on
to this solace
this song.

Margaret Simon

Our lunch was all vegan with a detox salad, sweet potatoes, and a lentil and rice dish I forgot the name of. Susan had soaked chia seeds in oat milk for a pudding-like dessert. We were all asking for recipes. I relaxed and rested and made new friends. At the end of the day, Susan washed us in a sound bath. I held one of her singing bowls. It felt heavy at first, but as I relaxed and let go, the bowl became lighter and part of me. I realized that burdens may seem heavy for a while, but they eventually become easier to hold and part of the well-loved person we are.

*For information on Susan and her sound bath therapy, go to Bayou Lotus Studio.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

You’d think by my age I would know myself well, have it all figured out, and be sitting with confidence. I’ve got news for you, folks. You are always becoming.

During the labor for my newest grandchild, my two daughters convinced me (we had a lot of time for talking about stuff) that I am a Four, not a Two, on the Enneagram.

I decided to try on the Four for a while. I signed up for EnneaThought for the Day from The Enneagram Institute. The teachings of a Four have been pretty spot on. My mother-in-law told me she had me written down as a Four when we took the test years ago. I’ve always thought I was a Two.

A Two, to be brief, is a person who is seeking out love. She selflessly does things for others hoping to gain love. She usually does so many things for others that she loses herself and doesn’t take care of herself. She’s the one who will deliver a casserole to someone whether or not they asked for it or even need it. I’ve been taking care of three daughters for a long time. Pride is the negative trait of a Two, and I could even relate to that.

Now I’m trying on the Four and it fits better, feels better, is not as stressful as the constant attention on others. A Four is a romantic, often an artist or poet. Fours are commonly introverted and focus on their feelings. They need to get out of their heads and into their bodies. One of the recent posts from EnneaThought resonated with me: “Remember to stay calm. Emotional volatility and moodiness are not the same as real sensitivity. Keep this thought in mind today.”

The words “real sensitivity” stung. Is my care and concern for the way others feel real? Is my moodiness obvious to others? This message made me want to crawl into a shell and sleep on it.

I think it is a positive thing to keep open and discovering who you really are. Enneagram has to do with your most inner spiritual self. From what need do you function from? Do you need safety, love, a sense of accomplishment and success?

People are complicated. I’m not finished yet and don’t think I ever will be. And while I stew on whether or not my sensitivity to others is real, I read today’s thought:

Your key defense mechanisms are introjection, displacement, splitting, turning against the self. Notice if these impulses arise today. ( Understanding the Enneagram, 90)

EnneaThought® for the Day

Yikes! Maybe I don’t want to know my true self.

Photo by Ju00fcrgen on Pexels.com

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Some time ago a blogging friend suggested subscribing to The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad. At the time I didn’t know who she was, how amazing, how she has written a book, married Jon Batiste, and that she battles leukemia every day. All I knew was her writing felt like a letter from a friend. Her prompts compelling.

Prompt 230 came from The Renunciations by Donika Kelly. I wrote from the line “Let this be a moment of remembering”

photo by Henry Cancienne

“Let this be a moment of remembering” Donika Kelly

Let us be bird and nest. Let
me curl my toes around this
threshold to flight. You’ll be
waiting with your net of comfort, a
reason or two why this moment
shouldn’t crush me. Eyes of
love, we’ve been here before–remembering.

Margaret Simon, Golden Shovel for Jeff, my nest for 40+ years

This post is also the first Thursday of the month Spiritual Thursday gathering. Today Karen Eastlund is hosting. She suggested we write about “words to fall back on.”

Over and over I fall back on Mary Oliver’s words. The line “You do not have to be good” from Wild Geese gives me the confidence I need to plow through. There will be days that I mess up, say the wrong thing, write something shitty. But we don’t have to “walk on (our) knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.” We can embrace our soft animal body and let it love what it loves.

This Lent I have started writing in my journal using a line from the Bible as a jumping off place. This morning the verse I turned the page to was “You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created.” Ezekiel 28.15.

My response:

Guilt lives in my backpack.
I carry it with me wherever I go.
I’ve never done enough according to Guilt.
I’ve been selfish and without purpose.
Guilt is heavy and wants to break me.
Some will say, “You’ve done everything you could.”
I wish I believed them.
Where weeds grow, more will come
until you decide
their simple beauty
is within their blamelessness.

Free stock photo from Pixabay

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Welcome to Day One of the 2023 Slice of Life Challenge. This challenge occurs every year during the month of March. Writing every day is good exercise for a writer. This challenge is sponsored by the Two Writing Teachers, a blog site for writing teachers. They post essays about the teaching of writing, but in March, it’s all about the teachers themselves who understand that being a teacher who writes strengthens the teaching of writing. We are a community of peers. Comments are welcome and encouraged. Comments are the sideline cheers for a marathon runner.

I decided for Lent this year I would read a page in the Bible and then write. I’m not committed to sharing each of these journal scribblings, but I’m starting off today with one.

I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and I will make for you a great name.

2 Samuel 7:9

Azalea Lane

I have planted you
in the clay soil of Louisiana.
Most of the year, like Persephone,
you are perfect, leafless, waiting.
You look dormant, dead, but
on the first day of March,
you blossom
and shine
like a pink sunrise
saying to the world,
“I’m here!
I’m wonderful!
I’m beautiful!”

I welcome March, a month of transformation from winter to spring, transformation through the daily practice of shared writing. Thanks for reading.

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Today, Ash Wednesday, feels like a day for an open field, a sunrise, a few clouds. My body is tired. As they say around here, I Did Mardi Gras. Every day– Saturday to Fat Tuesday. I welcome the rest, the coming down from a party hearty high to a calm cloudy Lent. I invite you to peacefulness, to look to the fallow fields for solace and grace.

Sunrise Field by Margaret Simon (You may use this photo.)

am still
staring out
toward the field,
fallow and fertile
whispering to the wind
secrets of stillness and peace
believing that time can heal wounds
believing strong faith starts with good soil.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday is hosted today by Carol at Beyond Literacy Link

I feel like I chose the wrong One Little Word this year. I’ve grappled with it since I decided. What is the purpose of a One Little Word? Is it a guide or an affirmation? Should you pursue it or let it comfort you?

Every day I choose a quote-of-the-day to post on a Jamboard for my students to write a response to. Lately, I’ve allowed the students themselves to take over this routine. I have a few quote books that they use. We select a photo background and use the text box or sticky note feature to write in. One of the quotes this week was this one. Avalyn chose a background to this Mark Twain quote that was both day and night. It made me think about my OLW: Purpose.

I decided to play around with an acrostic form using Purpose. And this poem emerged:

Until you
Purpose is
Step at a time
Every day.

Voila! Poetry led me to the answer I had been searching for all along. Life is a journey. There is no destination. It’s a constant discovery day by day. I cannot choose a word like Purpose and magically feel satisfied with myself. It is a word that I will search for the rest of my life. Unlike Mark Twain’s idea that there is a day when you will discover why you were born, I’ve come to the realization that why you were born is a daily march. It’s what we do. And every once in a while, someone or something will knock you off the path and that’s when you need a different word: Grace.

These days I need Grace more than Purpose. I need to let myself feel what I feel, but not get attached to those feelings. Not let the feelings define me. I received this message from EnneaThought of the Day:

Remember that your cognitive error is to identify with your changing feelings and emotional states, especially negative ones. Since your feelings constantly change, your identity does as well, undermining many of your psychological needs. Notice this tendency in your thinking today.

EnneaThought of the Day,

I’m going to keep Purpose around for a little while longer. It’s only February, but I’m hoping to relax a little and let time do the telling. Maybe another more appropriate, more calming word will emerge.

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The Spiritual Journey First Thursday is gathering at Bob’s site.

For this month’s Spiritual Journey posts, Bob asked us to use the theme “Colors of My Life” Ever since my father died in April, the color that reminds me to think of him is yellow.

One day in early June as I recovered ever so slowly from Covid, a male prothonotary warbler came to my window. He flapped his wings, showing off or defending his territory from his reflected invader I’m not sure which, but I internalized it as a visit from my father’s spirit.

Recently I was in an antique shop with my daughters, wandering as they shopped and I found a little ceramic yellow bird with a sweet succulent in it. Now it sits on my kitchen table. Do we need these little things? Probably not, but in some small way, they give comfort and hope.

My cat Fancy overlooks a succulent plant.

Yellow Through My Days

In a terra-cotta pot, daffodil
bulbs sprout, ones my dear friend
nurtured and planted for someday.

Someday, a yellow blossom
will pop open like a sparkle
of light welcoming spring.

Someday, a yellow prothonotary warbler
will find a house perched
at water’s edge, ready for nesting.

Someday, the yellowed pages
of a scrapbook will break
my heart.

But today, yellow is hiding
inside a bulb, on a southern shore
and in a cardboard box

for someday…

Margaret Simon, draft

Daffodils sprouting

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Grab the 2023 Spiritual Journey image for your blog posts.
Image by Henry Cancienne.

Do you select a One Little Word for the year? For years, I’ve been choosing a single word to guide my spiritual journey. Last year’s word was Enough. This word kept me in check. Whenever I questioned myself, I remembered “You are enough.” But as 2023 approached, I thought I wanted a more active word. I follow my good friend’s daughter on Instagram. Faith Broussard Cade has become an influencer under the name Fleur de lis Speaks. I clipped this recent post:

My new word for 2023 is Purpose.

What is my purpose?

Does this activity fit with my purpose?

Can I live each day with purpose?

I have been having mixed feelings about the word, so I talked it over with a friend. She offered me the wisdom that my purpose is with God, to bless others with my own faith.

My daughter got an oracle deck for Christmas. She said, “Just for fun, ask the oracle a question and pick a card.”

I kept the question to myself, but the card I picked was “Dancing Spirit” with a beautiful butterfly as the image. The main tenants were “Honoring Oneself”

*Build self-esteem

*Feeling the sweetness of life

* Sharing your inner light in a centered way.

I believe that purpose will continue to show up in my life. Funny how that happens.

I love to share the practice of choosing a word with students. I found some word beads and elastic string at Target, so my students each chose a word and I made them a bracelet.

Students share their one little word bracelets.

I asked them to write a post about their words by choosing a quote and writing about what the word means to them and why they chose it. It’s a fun way to greet the new year.

If you are joining the link up today, please click on the InLinkz below. If you’d like to join our group and host a month, follow this link to our google spreadsheet.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

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Poetry Friday is with Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core.

Today is the first Friday of the month. Time for the Inklings challenge. Molly challenged us to write a poem that answers an unasked question in the spirit of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem Answer. I was intrigued by the way that Mary Lee responded to this prompt by writing after Joe Cottonwood’s Because a Redwood Grove. I wanted to borrow the form and use a repeated because.

Because a Poem

Because upon entering
your breath is taken away
into aha,
me, too.

Because breath has power
to stop your heart
and fill it up again.

Because words seem to know what they are doing.

Because alongside stars,
rivers flow capturing refracted light.

Because something holy
happens here.

Because a poem
is enough.

Margaret Simon, draft

Other Inklings Responses to the Challenge:

Mary Lee

If you would like to join the host round-up for Spiritual Thursday 2023, fill out this form.

The first week of the month also brings Spiritual Thursday. This is a roundup of bloggers writing about their Spiritual Journey. Bob Hamera has the gathering at his blog. He selected the topic of Acceptance and Change.

I follow Faith Broussard on Instagram. Faith was a classmate of my daughter’s and she currently lives in Atlanta. On Instagram, she’s become an influencer known as Fleur-de-lis Speaks. I loved her message today, and she used my 2022 One Little Word, Enough.

My family has changed in the last year. We lost my Dad, and this month we will meet our newest granddaughter. I once had a mentor who told me that God is Change. I actually believe that God is the constant in change. God does not leave us where we are, ever. There are changes that are hard, and changes that are good. Whatever the change, our acceptance, our open arms, our breath is enough. I am enough.

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