Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Church of Oprah; a Modern Day Spiritual Leader

I have some writing to do. It feels a little bit like crunch time in college when a procrastinator, like me, needs to catch up on her work because the papers are due. I started to have feelings of guilt because I have spent much of my time working and much of my spare time painting. (I am an artist and a photographer... as well as a restauranteur) So, I wonder to myself... why these feelings? This spirituality project is simply for me. It's my journey. I don't even have any readers (I don't think). So why am I beating myself up because I have two church essays to write?

SO, I sat down to write this essay this morning on a bright sunny early summer morning. My deck was loaded with freshly potted flowers, plants, and herbs, and I sat amidst this magnificence and wrote the first paragraph about how I have been putting off this project because I had so many other things to do. Boom. An enormous thunderstorm just swooped in, and I just barely made it inside when the rain came down with a crash and the lights went out.

Wow. I regrouped. Poured a little more coffee. (Still hot) and grabbed my laptop. It was running on batteries anyway, and I was in the mood to write.

So, it's now. The lights back on, the rain dying down, the warming color in the distant sky, and the far away sounds of very benign thunder. I sit in stillness and in the glow of recent energy surge and think of the way the last two weeks went for me spiritually, and how I am to tell about it. Is there a significance to the sudden storm as I ponder spirituality?

I attended a Unity church two weeks ago, with my dear friend, Kelly, and her partner, Jeff. They have invited me to join them many times in the past, knowing that I have been on my own spiritual path, and many times I had reasons not to go. What if I liked it? Was I ready to commit to a new community, when I was still grieving from my old one? What if I didn't like it? Was I able to hurt the feelings of my dear friends because I didn't connect with the community they hold so dear? The answer was to put off going, to keep busy, to continue to grow spiritually in solitude.

As I said in my first post, when I declared that I was going to start going to church, and that I was going to explore different religions, and write about my experiences, and how the teachings were intertwined with each other, and how connected they might be to what I have come to believe; I decided to finally check out the Unity Church.

I will tell you more about that experience, but I need to now tell you about what happened a few days later. I made mental notes about my experience at Unity, and some of the deeply powerful words and connections I felt. I also made mental notes about some of the ways the experience forced me out of my comfort zone a little bit, and challenged me to engage more than I knew how. I will get to that later.

Oh, and by the way, before I forget, the "drink" of this post is consistently: Coffee... First, on my way to Unity I realized that I didn't have my morning coffee. I had left yesterday's take out container in my center console, and it reminded me and teased me that I really, really wanted a cup. "Could I bring a cup of coffee to church?" Nah! So I "jonesed" for coffee throughout the service. I am also drinking coffee as I write right now. But, thirdly, and finally, I was drinking coffee the other morning when I watched the DVR video of Oprah: The Final Episode. Ripe with church, art, spirituality, my work with the law of attraction, I watched this episode and wept. I hadn't even written about Unity yet, but I knew then that this was more meaningful to me at the moment, more powerful, and just the thing I needed to see now, in my life, in my journey. She began to speak, to talk to us, her congregation, she spoke lightly of the joys and the journeys, and the power of what it has meant to be Oprah. I listened. Enthralled. Suddenly, I realized that she was, indeed, speaking to her church. Her fans whose lives and actions in everyday circumstances are shaped by the lessons she has taught us. She began talking deeply about life; about my life, my journey, my spirituality, my growth in the "Oprah generation". The church of Oprah. Me. The things I search for. The things I've found. My favorite things.

So, my experience at Unity has been trumped by my powerful journey into the heart of Oprah in her final episode. First off, I have to say that at 46, I grew up with Oprah. My girlfriend in high school and then my roommate in college and I watched Oprah through our "chubby" years, and remember distinctly watching Oprah cart out pounds of fat behind her while she wore her "Calvin Klein Jeans". During my mommy years, I watched Oprah as often as I could. I used my VCR and then my DVR and was truly, one of her "ultimate viewers". In "Oprah-speak" that means someone who has watched Oprah since the beginning, and knows all about her evolution, her passions, her spirit, her values, her humor, her humanness, her philanthropy, and her ways of honoring others and those who paved the path for her to shine.

I am a devoted Oprah watcher, and in the 25 years she has been on the air, and in the 46 years that I have been here on this planet, and a childhood tv junkie, I wrote Oprah my two and only fan letters. I wrote an email years ago that simply stated something like this, "Oprah, if God were to send his only child to our planet to do his/her good work. Would he be a barefoot middle-eastern Shepherd, who was the self proclaimed son of God? NO! Our generation would lock him up. If God were to send his message of eternal peace and goodness; Of Energy, and life; Of Doing good deeds for the planet and humankind, by showing leadership in the things that our society values, and taking action to better the planet. No pressure, Oprah, but it is you. You come from humble beginnings, and often show the world your human vulnerabilities. You lead us to be better people, and show us books to read, and people to honor. By example, Oprah, you have made the world a better place. Thank you." I heard nothing, but thought to myself that she probably thought I was some Jesus-Freak and didn't want that kind of pressure. Who does? Years later, when Oprah was struggling publicly with her weight again, and I had felt empowered by having strengthened my own connection with my inner athlete and conquered my battle with weight, I wrote to her again with a little strategy. Anyway, in this letter I let her know that I had recently seen an episode where they were cleaning our someone's hoarding den, and created a place full of good chi. Oprah had said that she could never function in a home that wasn't orderly, neat, and a sanctuary. I wrote to Oprah and suggested that in her weight-loss struggle, she remembered that her real home is in her body, and that if she couldn't live in chaos at home, to remember to take order of her health... and look at it that way.

Why did I just tell you this? Wow, I get so ADD sometimes. Suffice it to say. I am a huge Oprah fan.

SO I apologize to the Unity church, because their story is going to have to wait as I am compelled to speak about the Church of Oprah this week. Her words filled me spiritually in her final episode. So, the subject of today's blogpost... is The Church of Oprah..

Oprah began her "service" with the description that the hour was not a typical Oprah show, there would be no frivolity, no surprises, no give aways, no make overs, no music, no tearful reunions. No, today's last and final episode was a "Love letter to you". Us. She was talking to her people. Her flock. Me.

Here are some of the powerful statements she shared with me, (with us).

"Use your light to change the world." I ask everyday for this direction.

"you are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself... and you are responsible for the energy that you bring to others. All life is energy and we are transmitting it at every moment." Yes! That is it! That is the understanding I have of the divine spirit, that it is life energy flowing through you and others in each moment, whether you are conscious of it or conscientiously working with it for your good in your life. Oprah is so my church. Take responsibility for your own energy and for the energy you bring to others. Ok, I will, Oprah, I will think more responsibly about my own energy.

Oprah quoted Newton, " For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
She went on to say that "we all need to learn that we are responsible for our lives. We are not to let anyone save, fix, or complete us, and that when we understand that we are all responsible for our lives, we get free." Wow. In my roller coaster of a post divorce life, that statement was powerful to me. I am just learning that I can be alone. I can like who I am. I can be a creative, active, giving member of society. I will take that little nugget of a suggestion and think about how I define myself. After you are part of a "we" for such a long time, it is a challenge to remember that it is ok to just be a "me."

"There is a common thread that flows through all of our pain and all of our suffering; Unworthiness" Such a powerful statement, and I can honestly say that from my experience, and in my insecurities, I define myself often as "unworthy". As Oprah would say, "Aha!"

"Even people that feel like they deserve to be happy and have nice things, often don't feel worthy when they have them." She went on to say, " There is a difference, you know, between thinking you deserve to be happy, and knowing you are worthy of happiness." Knowing my worth is a daily effort. I listen to Oprah and agree with her language about our connection. How does she know I needed these little kicks in the pants? How did she reach through my television, describe how I feel about my connection to spirituality/God, and then she socks it to me about unworthiness, and gratitude. Lessons I consciously work on in my own life. How did she know?

I am a student and sometimes teacher in the application of the law of attraction and how it applies to our spirituality, our purpose, and our daily lives. I believe in the power of our life energy and our connection to it and to each other. I ask for guidance in the areas of my life where I may feel unworthiness. I ask to be shown my path to my best self.

In this journey I have found painting. I picked up a brush and paints when my marriage broke up a few years ago, and have been painting ever since. If you are interested in seeing my most recent stuff.. go to to see my latest collections. My Goddess Collection represents my spiritual connection to other women and to myself.
They are extensions of who I am, and who I have been, and who I wish to be. Thank you to Oprah for encouraging me to find what brings you joy and to share it with others. I love to paint. I love to write. I love to learn and think and discuss. This blog is a fun action based exploration of who I am in relationship to the divine in humankind.

Spiritual energy fills my everyday life, and is a daily focus for me as I continue on my journey to find a new spiritual path. Last year, I wrote an essay on "2012: predictions" in my other blog: "Energy, Spirituality, and the Law of Attraction", and in it I talk about the world shifting in a more positive and modern spiritual way. I believe that we all can feel the growing need for a new spiritual movement. One that incorporates a more modern day way of looking at our planet, our connection, and our path. I thank you again, Oprah, for being a leader to so many of us for 25 years. I wish you peace in your journey foward. Many blessings, my friend.

Look soon for the details of my visit to Unity. Sorry for putting you on the back burner.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

I went back and read my first post, and cringed that I announced that I was going to be able to attend church each week. I shouldn't have made such unrealistic goals, because I know that life is going to get in the way.

I work in my family restaurant business, and Easter, like Christmas, like Mother's Day, like New Year's Eve, and Thanksgiving.. is a work day for me. I had good intentions of getting up early, and finding a local sunrise on the beach sermon before work. In fact, I woke up in time, only to see rain.... so I rolled over.

SO... Easter Sunday comes and goes...and the newbie determined blogger has failed on a major religious holiday. A day that should evoke volumes of discussion, fashion statements, children, spring, hope eternal, rebirth.
Instead, I rolled over. I got up a little later and realized that I really should have made a more determined effort. I was due at work shortly, and traditional churches got out too late. So, I practiced a little yoga (my personal church), got ready for work, and indeed enjoyed the fashion show of Easter at the restaurant.
In many ways, the Easter crowd at a fine dining restaurant is like a religious experience. Families gather. Children dress adorably, and have been forced to sit still in church, and then in the restaurant, all while exploding from a "Easter Morning sugar rush".

Great-grandmothers big day out. Bonnets. Moth Balls. Smiles. Family. I looked around, with church on my mind, and saw a melting pot of belief systems around the restaurant. Passover is observed at the same time, and we had many Jewish families, Irish Catholic families, WASPy families, Same Sexed families, Sisters, 4 Generations of families, Greek families (Greek Easter was same day... although we didn't get many... Greek families tend to gather in the home on holidays), and they all came in different shapes, colors, and sizes. There was an interesting diversity that day, but I marveled at the church of my family restaurant, and all who gather there on the holidays. The common denominator was family, tradition, and food.

At first, I was giving myself a pat on the back, for trying to salvage Easter Sunday from the truth of my laziness.
I thought I could get away with writing about My church... my restaurant and my yoga, I even ended my shift with a glass of wine, and some fabulous lamb with slow cooked demi glace. (I had my Eat and Drink part down) Then I thought... LAME! Cop out, Kristin! Suddenly, I remembered the internet! Youtube. I searched for Easter Sunday Sermons, and so many sermons popped up! I was in business! There just may be redemption.

I set aside an evening during the week, and pulled out my notebook. I poured myself a glass of wine, and made myself a nice meal. (Pan Seared Salmon with early spring lettuce salad and a lemon caper beurre blanc) (Yes, I LOVE food) I sat comfortably in my office with my meal and found my online church. This could get to be a procrastinator's dream, I thought to myself.
Although habit could easily form with this church method, it contradicts my initial goal of traveling close to home and discovering local pubs, community, and food. However, I am certain that this online church experience won't be my first. Doors were opened here, dear reader, you will never know what you are going to get. (Do I even have a "dear reader?") It sure will make it easy to play catch up for me, when Sunday's have other plans for me throughout the year.

So, seated at my desk, I chose a Born Again Christian Church in Washington, DC. I smiled. Never in my life, (aside from film), had I ever imagined myself witnessing such a service. I smiled and took a sip of my beverage. This is pretty cool.

The service began with a handsome young man initiating some group prayers. I guessed him to be a student on the path to becoming a minister. He was as passionate as a young idealistic man should be, and I loved listening to him. (He looked like a young Denzel)

I took some notes as the sermon began. The Reverend was an older, very dynamic, if not stereotypical, black "preacher". As he began to speak, I was easily captivated by his attention getting voice, well placed pauses, and enthusiasm while making his point. He commanded his audience, and it was great!

I wished I could have seen the parishioners, but I could hear them. Constant shouts of "Amen!' sprinkled throughout the hour long video. I also wished that I could have spent time in the community. The best laid plans, right? Hey, who knows where this journey will take me, though. Washington, DC isn't that far of a road trip for later in the year, right? Ok, we'll see. Right now I am simply enjoying another style of worship.

Some bullets of doctrine, followed by my thought process:

* He lives in my heart, so I live above sin. ( I really agree with this statement. If you live life according to the rules you set out for.. If you live to your highest self, and all that you set out to be as a person, you feel most free and energetic, and that is when you feel God in your heart. You feel your healthiest, your happiest, and your most productive)

* God gets Glory in his Kingdom (I wasn't sure what that meant, so I am going to guess. Hmmm. Nope, I've got nothing.)

* "After you believe in the church, then what do you do?" The Reverend went on to explain that although while at church, a parishioner may feel Godlike, and make promises, and praises; it is what he/she does after church that matters. (I liked the message here. The truth that every person needs to be held to their highest self at all times… or as much as humanly possible, and that basically we should all "do the right thing".)

* The truth shall make you free. (Of course, I had heard this before, but I pondered it today along with my Reverend du jour. I always believe that the truth is freeing. The energy flows much more freely through the body when we are at peace with our spirit. Truth is essential to that flow)

* The Child understood God; When he became a man, he had to put away childish things." ( I believe that we are closest to our spiritual connectivity when we are children. We are in tune with the laws of the universe, and joy is a birthright we often naturally feel closest to when we are children. Staying in that alignment is the challenge as we age, and life's challenges weigh on us.)

* Don't look down on other people; we are all sinners. (Now, I need you to go back and reread that last statement, and animate it in your mind. The Reverend was mighty, his fist was firm and raised, his voice boomed, "Don't look down on other people, " He commanded, "we are all sinners." He let that statement sit in the air. There was a moment of stillness, and then someone broke the moment with an, "Amen!" Followed by a string of "Amens!" that the Reverend joined in on after a few seconds, "can I get an Amen?" and it was like watching and listening to a well choreographed dance, as he absorbed the power of his parishioners after hearing his word.)

*Lust of the Flesh... vs. Pride of life. The Reverend went on to talk about judgement, and sin. On the heels of not looking down on other people, he began to discuss the recently passed Elizabeth Taylor, who had been married several times in her life, was the object of much desire in her lifetime, and made choices of the flesh, instead of taking pride in what the Reverend thinks is an honorable life. "She is now sitting in judgement." he stated. (I had an issue with the implications here. Here was the Born again stuff I was worried about. the belief that if you don't get saved from your sin, you can never reach the kingdom of heaven. I agree in the pride of life statement, that one should feel proud of the choices and decisions that one makes in his/her life. But who is he to say that Elizabeth Taylor lived a life of sin and was not saved? She had much to be proud of in her life. She was outstandingly philanthropic, and suffered as one of the pioneers of the "papparazzi-life-in-a-fishbowl" hollywood star. Who is he to judge her life, her loves, and her spirituality? The point of the statement intrinsically makes sense. "lust of the flesh vs. pride of life" can be understood to mean that oftentimes we fall into temptation and veer off of the goals we set for ourselves. Lust of the flesh can be simply the cookie we eat after we begin a diet. The goals we set for ourselves, be they commitments to each other, our jobs, and even our blogs, are often challenged by temptations and distractions. We gain pride in our lives by sticking to our goals and resisting temptations.

* Saved to Behave. (Lastly, I wish to comment on the theme that flowed throughout the sermon. You have been saved to behave. Now, I am not "saved", but I guess I never felt that I needed saving. Thinking of this statement, however, and applying it to my own understanding of spirituality, I guess it means that a person needs to exercise forgiveness, both of him/herself and of others, and then to stick to the goals set before them in their path. Make peace within yourself (the saved part), and behave in life the way that makes you maintain that peace.) (I am pretty sure the Reverend was talking about the resurrection of Jesus as an act of our salvation.. it was Easter Sunday, after all.)

In closing, and I apologize for this lengthy post, I want to express my thanks to the many ways I was able to enjoy Easter. From my church of my yoga practice, to my parishioners at my family restaurant, to my online energetic Easter service, which opened my eyes to many global possibilities of understanding worship. The spirit of Easter Sunday, the message of rebirth at this time of year, after last week's message about being a time to plant, was ever buzzing within me. I do feel saved in a way. I do feel that I am creating some kind of rebirth in my ever changing life. So as I birth myself forward in my own life, I thank the Reverend who told me to behave, and that I should seek a power in my life. I am and I will.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The first Sunday

Initially, I intended to highlight and identify the churches I visit, but I changed my mind. If I am to be honest, and sometimes challenge doctrine, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings in the process. If I poke fun at the woman who smells like moth balls, and sings hymns off key, I don't want that woman to know it was her. Therefore, I think I will talk freely about the church, without divulging where it is. I reserve the right to change my mind about this as the blog evolves, but right now, I think I will talk about my experiences with the church and honor the parish's anonimity.

Rigid doctrine is hard for me. I feel like I am pressing against the religion when I disagree with some of their rituals and beliefs, but that is why I am doing this, right? To push the limits of what I think, and what I feel is the balance between humankind and spirituality. I am looking for a fit for me, but in so doing, I want to educate myself with different and sometimes challenging beliefs and practices. So my first week... I chickened out and went to the Unitarian Universalist church nearby. I always wanted to check out a service, and gave myself permission to dip my toe into this project.

Unitarian Universalists hold a very "hippyish" reputation. I guess I expected tie dyed shirts, dead head stickers on fuel efficient cars, and rainbow flags everywhere. I had expectations of new age music, flax clothing, and the scent of pachouli. What I found was a traditional New England church.

I entered the sanctuary alone, and looked around at what I can only describe as a traditional New England Protestant church. High ceilings, tall windows, elaborate moldings, classic pews, and soft organ music welcoming us to worship. Minimalistic decorations (no statues, stained glass, etc). There was a choir, a pulpit, balconies, and parishioners who were not dressed as the hippies I imagined, and quite a few singles like me.

The format of the service was very familiar to me. The church bulletin, white, with a pen and ink sketch of the church on the cover, announces upcoming community events, thanks the hosts of the coffee hour, and recognizes the family member of whom the flowers are in memory. The format of the service looked familiar, too. We opened with welcome and announcements, we listened to a hymn, heard opening words and repeated in unison, the prayer that accompanied a chalice lighting, "
We gather this hour as people of faith
With joys and sorrows, gifts and needs.
We light this beacon of hope,
Sign of our quest
For truth and meaning,
In celebration of the life we share together.

Then a patriotic hymn. I belted it out. (Sing as if nobody is listening?), Followed by another unison prayer:
Love is the doctrine of this church,
The quest of truth is its sacrament,
and service is its prayer.
To dwell together in peace,
To seek knowledge in freedom,
To serve mankind in fellowship,
To the end that all souls shall grow into harmony with the Divine-
Thus do we covenant with each other and with God.

I liked this. I pondered the prayer, and then its applications to my life. I wondered what differentiated this church from so many others. I flipped over my program to read the answer. It was spelled out in detail on the back of my Sunday bulletin.
Historical Affirmations of our Unitarian Universalist Faith. (Talk about ask and ye shall receive... I was stunned.).. and also about to be educated. It read:
1.That God is a Unity as opposed to a Trinity (sure, I see it as an all encompassing force, but a Unity.. ok)
2. That all human beings can hope for salvation (even middle aged divorcees?)
3. That there is in each human person a spark of the divine. ( absolutely... even the rude ones..)
4. That relevant and meaningful statements of belief are personal statements. (Wow, did I stumble upon one and done? This fits me to a T)
5. That truth grows and changes
6. That people should be free to judge whether or not to accept the pronouncements of the church. (totally)
7. That a broadly inclusive tolerance in religion is preferable to an enforced uniformity. (Rock on!)
8. That religious assertions must be reasonable if they are to be accepted as valid. (subjective..what is reasonable?)
9. That doubt can help to winnow truth from untruth. (honestly I had to look up "winnow".. it means to free (grain) from the lighter particles of chaff, dirt, etc., especially by throwing it into the air and allowing the wind or a forced current of air to blow away impurities.)
10. That a person must develop a trusting reliance on him/herself and his/her own capacity to make sensible life improving choices. (still in progress)
11. That religion ought to be concerned primarily with this life. (I am not sure what this one means... is religion over when we die? The jury is out..)
12. That answers to questions, solutions to problems and comfort from discomfort- to have any real or lasting effect-must come from the person, not from the outside. (That is 100% true! Easier said than done, but true!)
13. That God is in the world, not outside the world. (Isn't God everywhere... including other worlds, infinity and beyond, and all that stuff?)
14. That suffering is part of Life, not punishment for a way of living. (Still all changeable from within. How much we suffer is our own decision. )
15. That religious literature gives symbolic, rather than literal, truth. (YES, that is for me. I believe in symbols and messages, rather than absolute truths)
16. That religion ought not to involve only ritual, but also reflection and action for goodness. (this statement brings me peace, and reminds me why I am on this quest.)

So the sermon began, and it was a perfectly appropriate parallel between life and the seasons of the crops. I particularly liked this, as I was beginning this spiritual journey. "A time to plant" was the name of the sermon, and I felt it speak to me. I am planting roots for my own future. Some of my garden needs replanting. My garden had many hearty plants from seeds I planted earlier in my life, but some of them were suffocating other plantings. I weeded, thinned, and tilled. I, too, am ready to plant. To grow, to offer my fruits.

Fast forward to the drinking portion of the Eat, Pray, Drink blog. I had lofty goals here as well.. discovering local pubs, tagging them in my blog. The first day of my church commitment, I was invited to play laser tag with friends and their kids, after which, we went out to a nearby Chilis, where I had a margarita and a rather fattening appetizer. Maybe not the culinary direction I had in mind for this journey, but as I looked around the table, and thought about planting my garden, I realized that I have friends. Friends who will water and nourish my seeds, and friends who will stand by me as I grow my new garden. This is where I will begin.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Journey into Religion; Divorce, Enlightenment, and other fun stuff..

It is my intention to start going to church. I don't know what church it is going to be. What I do know is that I am on a spiritual journey, and I am looking forward to attending a different church each week and blogging about it, after, of course, I grab a Sunday afternoon beer or glass of wine, and eat a nice meal.

Almost three years ago, I had a strange experience happen to me on the beach one beautiful moment. I think I saw God. It was in that moment, and I describe it in detail in my other blog "energy attracts", that all things I had come to understand.. science, nature, our connectivity to each other and the world around us came together in this instant. There were more coincidences in that moment, but suffice it to say, I suddenly became aware that this connectivity, this very thing that I was connected with, and held inside me, was God......and it was ok to call it God.

I choose the word God because it is familiar to me, but often switch it out to say, Spirit, Energy, Great Force, because sometimes the word, God, conjures up childhood images and beliefs. As a child in Sunday school class, where we colored pictures of shepherds, and humanized God to look a little bit like Santa Claus. I had doubts. I knew that if there was a God, he didn't make things happen, like natural disasters. I never believed that God was an angry or jealous God, I didn't believe that it was necessarily a "he", and did I believe that Jesus was the son of God, or the Spirit, or was he highly evolved, a born leader of his time; a man? And what about science? What about other religions? What about reincarnation? Superstitions? the law of attraction? I didn't know. I wasn't even sure if there was a God.. I mean.. my parents, after all, turned out to be Santa. (literally, although I will save that story for another day, but my dad actually does play Santa for charities at Christmas.. sorry, I digress)

So, very long story short, I saw God. Or Spirit, or Great Force, or whatever, and gained a sense of peace and inner joy. I felt that I understood the energetic connectivity among all living things. Then I got divorced. Although I could get into the details of this, and talk for hours, I will not. I will say that it was a careful, heartbreaking decision, that broke both of our hearts, and left us each on a different path. A path I am still seeking.

So, God on the back burner, I channeled my inner Bridget Jones, and moved into an apartment by myself. My kids are both in college, and for the first time in my entire life. House. College. Marriage. Boom, boom, boom. I was alone.

As in all things, there is a balance, a Yin and a Yang, and divorce is absolutely one of those things. There are days of freedom. Days I want to throw my hat into the air like Mary Tyler Moore, or live independently like Marlo Thomas, and sing how great it is to be me. My daily motherhood tasks, my cul-de-sac life of dinner parties and socializing are long behind me. I was off of that treadmill. Who was that? I feel free. And there are days of bitter despair, insecurities, loneliness, tears, and depression. (Is it hormones? I am 46..) This roller coaster has brought me to today. Or rather to an idea I had about the exploration of religion.

It is time for me to crawl out of my shell a little, and dip my feet into the life after divorce thing. I have decided to make the appropriate changes to focus me on that path, and thought it would be an absolutely great thing to explore religion. I don't know what kind of religion I am now. I was brought up in the Congregational Church, and my parents were semi-active participants. So, basically, I am a New England WASP, and have the guilt to prove it. I figure I will try them all out. Even if I don't connect with the doctrine, I intend to attend at least one service and be open minded, and pay attention to the people, the rituals, the music, and the communities, and learn about spirituality through the experiences of others. I seek the underlying truth that all religions have in common. I don't know where this will lead, but I am excited to begin my journey.

I loved the book, "Eat, Pray, Love", and truly honor the author, Elizabeth Gilbert. In honoring the book, and Liz's spiritual, humorous, and human journey, (I also can't believe the parallels in our lives), I thought the title, "Eat, Pray, Drink" would be catchy, and show my human side, too.

So my year long journey begins. Gulp. I live in Massachusetts. I will be attending churches within an hour of my home for the next year (as often as I can). (except for the weekend I have planned in Vegas... attending church there ought to be will hear about it!) and will blog about my experiences. I will attend churches both alone, and occasionally, with friends and family. I encourage suggestions for day trips around spirituality, natural beauty, and great communities. I also would love recommendations regarding local pubs, and places to explore while spending the day in different communities. I am a yogi, an artist, a photographer, a foodie, and a lover of travel. I encourage responses from readers with ideas for me that coincide with the things I love. My ultimate journey would be to travel abroad to explore cultures, food, and religion there! Someday. Until then, my journey starts close to homel Will I end up finding the perfect fit? Stay tuned.
Next post: My First Sunday