Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year, New Opportunities!

In looking for a quote to summarize my past year, I came across one in M. Scott Peck's book The Road Less Traveled & Beyond:  Spiritual Growth in an Age of Anxiety.  It reads:

"Once a mind is truly stretched, it never returns to its former dimensions."

I just love that.  This has been one of the most difficult years of my entire life, as I have grappled, for the first time in earnest, with the Deep Questions about life, the universe, and everything.  I have cried.  I have yelled.  I have shaken my fist and I have heaved my shoulders, finally yielding to the Truth that what I had previously thought to be the Only Truth was instead a V.I.M.  That stands for Very Important Metaphor.  When one has lived their entire life taking a metaphor as the literal truth, one is in for quite an awakening upon finally becoming conscious! 

I now recognize my true, complete freedom in this world.  Without someone else insisting that I behave and/or believe in a certain way, I have total liberation - and total responsibility.  Whether I succeed or fail in my endeavors is totally up to me.  It is both daunting and thrilling at the same time.  This has been my first real year of adulthood, as I see it.  It only took me a full 40 years to get here!

Weight gain.
Marital crisis.

Getting our dog!
Camping with friends.
Realizing that I no longer believe what I once did - and that I am all the richer for it.
Redefining my marriage, and finding that it is better than I had ever imagined it could be. 

Continued growth mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
Old and new friendships.
Enjoying full health!
More time with family.
Changing careers - scary and exciting!
Performing with my band(s) and loving every minute on stage!

This New Year not only signifies the end of 2010, but the end of an entire decade.  This is significant.  Take a minute to ponder your life and how it has changed over the past 10 years.  Amazing, isn't it?  Over the past 10 years, I have moved numerous times; re-entered the work force; taken up a new career; transitioned my children from homeschool to regular school; and had my eyes opened on numerous occasions.  As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans."   How true!

The New Year, and the next decade, will doubtless bring many obstacles your way.  My challenge to you (and to me), is to instead see those same obstacles as opportunities.  The next 365 days will pass, regardless.  The question is, will you use them to grow?  To work towards new goals, refining them as required?  Pay attention when the Universe seems to deny your requests.  You may need to rephrase them, or otherwise adjust your course. 

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

I am thankful for the passing of this year into the next.  I am thankful for the pain as well as the joy; for that is where true growth occurs.  I recognize that I am part of all that is in this Universe, and that I am able to share in its collective abundance and wisdom.  I give thanks for the breath which has sustained me, and for the unseen forces that have guided me safely through another journey around the sun.  I receive with gratitude the lessons to be learned in the New Year, and will do my best to learn them quickly.  And so it is.

May 2011 exceed your hopes and expectations! 
- Rev. Jan

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time Of the Year!

As the song says, this is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, Christmas certainly does seem to be the time of year that brings out the best in people.  Despite the frazzle and frustration of trying to stretch those dollars just a little farther in order to get that *perfect* gift; despite the lack of parking spaces at the mall; and despite our lack of will power to resist yet another butter tart and glass of eggnog, there is still a joy peculiar to this special time of year.  I have noticed extra patience shown by drivers and shoppers alike.  I have seen folks who don't have much throw a little something into the Salvation Army Kettle to make Christmas merry for someone else.  I have been blessed to see some who don't normally practice volunteerism   don an apron and serve turkey dinner to those in need.

So, even though at times throughout this season I have felt more Bah! Humbug!  than Merry Christmas, on this Christmas Eve I do find myself reflecting on the joys that are present (pardon the Christmas pun) in my life all year through.  I have been blessed with friends, family, and good health.  I don't have much money, but I certainly have more than many who live in other parts of the globe.  If I need medical care, there is a hospital in my city.  We can afford insulin for our daughter.  Our car is still running.  Blessings abound, if we look for them.

My Christmas wish for you is that you will know deep, abiding peace, regardless of your current situation.  If I have learned anything in this life, it is the truth of the statement that "This, too, shall pass."  You may be broke today, and a millionaire tomorrow.  The only constant for us is change, so we'd better embrace it and learn from it.  As I look out at the stars twinkling above Canada this Christmas Eve, I am sending thoughts of peace and joy out into this beautiful world.

Rev. Janice

Saturday, December 4, 2010


In truth, I do feel that this has been a year of incredible, bittersweet growth.  I have "let the genie out of the bottle," as far as my former belief system goes; and I cannot cram it back in no matter how much I might like to.  I miss some of the comforting formalities of the religious services I grew up with, and truly had embraced as my own.  I miss the music, the much-loved hymns, and the warm fuzzy feelings that came with them.  I miss the feeling of belonging to The Club That Is Going To Heaven. 

What I don't miss is the anxiety about thinking outside of that prescribed religious thought box.  When I first started to doubt that my own belief was the Only Way, I snuck into the Metaphysical Room of Ted's Books across from my house.  I felt guilty just being in that room, surrounded by books written by folks who I was somewhat sure were not only bound for hell - but who wanted to take me with them!  Did I dare even take books off the shelf and leaf through them?  Which one looked the least dangerous to my soul?  That first day, I couldn't even bring myself to buy one.  When I returned, I did find one that looked "safe" - or could at least pass for educational (In the Path of the Masters, by D.L. and J.T. Carmody).  I bought it and literally snuck it into my house, terrified that my eager young God-fearing children would ask to see my purchase, requiring an explanation that I could not give!

It is one thing for an adult to undergo a crisis of faith; quite another to have to deal with all of the feelings that come with explaining the same to offspring.  The guilt, fear, and feeling of something lost can sometimes feel overwhelming.  I confess that I still struggle with this occasionally, especially since we have our children attending a religious school.  We feel that it is a safe and loving environment for them; but I am pleased that both of them have confided to me that they simply don't believe that a Loving God could condemn people to hell.  I have told them that I no longer believe in a literal hell; and have even gone so far as telling my oldest child that I no longer view the Bible as completely literal.  I have told her that I now read it as part history, and part metaphor.  My youngest one is not yet ready for that revelation, but we are gently moving in that direction.  I have also told them both that regardless of what anyone else in their life believes, it is up to them to determine what they will believe.  We have discussed the importance of open-mindedness and compassion, especially when they each asked me: "Mom, I know our Way is the Truth - but remind me again how we are so sure?"  I assure them that every devoted adherent to every religion in the entire world is pretty sure their way is the right one; thus the need for respecting all.

I am sure there are times when my poor husband just about chokes when he hears my discussions with our children, and I do try and keep that in mind.  I never want to be the cause of any division between my daughters and their Daddy, who loves them so.  And he has remained very respectful of my journey; asking questions occasionally, and never mocking or even freaking out.  He is also a Soul Pilgrim, just trying to find his way.

Growing up largely requires one to let go and move on.  There can be no going back, only going forward.  I sometimes miss the ignorant bliss of childhood and indoctrination; of not having to think for myself what is right or true, but only adhere to a set of rules.  That is easier, to be sure - but, in my opinion, much less rewarding than finding my own way.

Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries, when they wrote these books. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, November 22, 2010

Religion vs. Spirituality

For most of my life I had a very specific religious world view.  It colored everything that I thought and did, whether for good or ill; based largely on fear and obligation.  Of course I felt that I was living righteously: loving others, being charitable, etc.  I somehow managed to gloss over the fact that my religion only had room for one viewpoint (The Truth, you know!), and was more than a little bit judgmental for that very reason.

However, there came a point for me where everything came crashing down, and the only one left to pick up all those pieces was me.  I don't know what I expected:  Angels? Jesus?  "The Church" to come and pick me up and dust me off?  But none of that happened.  I felt shocked, disappointed, hurt, and dismayed.  Where was all of the love I had heard about for so long?

I was finally forced to take a long, hard look at not only WHAT I had believed for my whole life; but WHY.  And it turned out to be mainly because that was how I had been raised.  Not a good enough reason to maintain an entire world view!  It was time for some deep soul searching. 

As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears:  Enter my beloved Louise Hay, with her excellent book You Can Heal Your Life.  "Aunty Lou," as I am fond of calling her, dared to write that "Beliefs are nothing more than a thought - and a thought can be changed!"  With that simple, profound sentence, I heard the chains of my religion drop to the ground with a wondrous CLANK!, and I stepped out of the prison that I had made for myself. 

It took a great deal of courage to give voice to the doubts - and then to my new found freedom of thought, especially as I was (and still am) married to a man who remains devout to that same worldview that I no longer espouse.  In addition, the majority of my friends were also still quite happily entrenched in the same, with no desire to change and a great deal of dismay over my apparent "backslidden" state.  But, having taken the lid off that Belief Box, there is no getting back inside it!  My thoughts are now truly my own.  I am free from the need to judge others, instead seeing that all are on their own journey of self-discovery.  I am free to explore absolutely EVERY belief system, with no fear or obligations holding me back!  And let me tell you, the freedom is deeelicious.

Do I still believe in Jesus?  Absolutely.  Do I still believe in a literal interpretation of the  Bible?  Not on your life.  I view it now as part history, part metaphor.  A terrific guidebook, along with many others that have been left behind for us all to encourage healthy living.  HERESY, you say?  That's okay.  I can live with that.  I prefer thinking of myself as a soul pilgrim, a seeker of truth and proponent of love and wisdom; but if others have a need to protect their own worldview by pointing fingers and judging, it bears no reflection upon me. 

I wonder if any of you have come out of mainstream religion to find your own place in the world of spirituality?  Jesus was all about the love - and so am I.  I finally can truly say that I love my neighbor REGARDLESS of their own beliefs, and that I love myself.  I will do my best to love, serve, teach, and learn with the rest of the days that I am given on this beautiful planet. 

In summary, I have found that the difference between Religion and Spirituality can be summed up in this one precious word:  FREEDOM.

I give thanks in the knowledge that I am one with the eternal Divine Intelligence, always working within me to reveal wisdom, give me peace, and fill me with unconditional love.  And so it is!

-Rev. Jan

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Who Knew Weight Loss Could Be So Dangerous?

Namaste, my friends.  Thank you for taking time to join me once again.  This entry finds me continuing just a little more on my own journey so far, giving you a better idea of how I came to be Rev. Jan.

After the most difficult year of my life serving as a pastor's wife in small town Sk, I began letting go of a few things which were no longer working for me.  The headcovering was gone; the makeup was back; and THANK GOD so were the pants!!! Brrrr... have you ever tried -40 in a dress?  I'm sure my long-johns added to the mystique... and that all of the women in that small prairie town new that I did not belong there!  We beat a hasty retreat back to civilization, which in our case meant Calgary.  It was during that year that I also gave up homeschooling, which was truly a sacrifice for me.  I loved every minute of homeschooling my eldest daughter, and it was hard to let that time in my life end.  However, finances dictated that I had to start helping with the family income, and I decided the best way to do that was becoming a medical transcriptionist, so I could work from home. 

It was a lonely year, a good year, and a hard year.  Again.  But not nearly as hard as the preceding one, and we were a whole province closer to my hometown and beloved mother, which helped.  Sometimes I would look out at those beautiful Rocky Mountains and just send her my loving thoughts, carried away on those Chinook winds.  How I missed her, and longed to return to my native Okanagan Valley!

I completed my course.  My marriage continued to unravel.  Eventually, we made our way back to BC!  This was a very difficult task, though it could have been a simple one.  Suffice it to say, when our primary relationships are not doing well, all things suffer.  When we do not learn the easy way, we must learn the hard way.  And when tied on this planet legally and spiritually to another, we suffer right along with them if we are not strong enough.  I wasn't - but I was getting there. 

After a brief and nightmarish stint in the wrong part of BC, we eventually landed exactly where we were meant to - back in my home town!  I should have been ecstatic, and part of me was.  However, I had not had time to heal from the tumult and pain of the previous several years.  My emotional pain had lead me to unhealthy habits, for which there was a price.  On this particular day I was very happy and proud:  My dear mother was receiving the Governor General's Award!  Our family has never known such honor.  We gathered for pictures with the mayor, who was awarding that day.  Imagine my surprise when the photos came back and there was a great fat woman standing with her arm around my mother - wearing my outfit!  Imagine my horror when I looked closely and discovered that the great fat woman was me.  I was wearing all of the pain and stress that I had been carrying for the past decade or so. 

This actually turned out to be quite wonderful, as it prompted me to take immediate action by taking my weight loss seriously.  Within about a year I lost over 60 pounds, and went from a size 18 down to about a 4.  It was crazy!  I never looked so good!  And I managed to stay that size for a full 3 days.  But I digress...  Along with the weight loss came a true awakening of my spirit.  I gained confidence I had never felt before.  I had a sense of power that seemed foreign to me.  I began to realize, for the first time, that ANYTHING is possible if you are willing to do the work for it.  This was a huge paradigm shift for me.  I began to see that I deserved more happiness than I was receiving from my marriage - which lead to a whole heap of new problems.  I entered marriage counseling and started reading many, many self-help books.  It wasn't just the outer me that was changing - the inner me was awakening!  I felt vibrant!  I was itching to get off the sidelines and into the game for the first time in my life.  The only problem was, my significant other did not have the same desire.  What to do, what to do.

Now in case those changes weren't quite enough, our eldest daughter, my home-schooled pride and joy, had taken up with "the wrong crowd" in public school.  This was causing a great deal of upset and pain.  However, this was soon eclipsed by the failing health of our youngest daughter, who began having terrible stomach pains.  There were other symptoms which prompted me to take her to our doctor out of fears that she had diabetes.  The doctor assured me such was not the case, so my daughter went on suffering for another six months.  As her health deteriorated, she started falling asleep in class; was emotionally labile at home; and started losing her vision.  After countless trips to our own GP, docs at Walk-in Clinics, and even the ER of our local hospital, I finally found a doctor who listened to me and BINGO - we entered the terrifying world of life with a type 1 juvenile diabetic.  This on top of incredible financial strain and a marriage that was crumbling.  Aaah, life. 

This time was important to me spiritually, because it increasingly distanced me from the faith I had grown up with.  For the first time I was confronted with the possibility that the "God" I knew didn't exist.  This surpassed all of my other crises.  This was the one that shook me to the core.  And yet, I wasn't afraid.  I felt that the answer was there; just not in the form I had always thought it was.  Enter Louise Hay and her incredible work "You Can Heal Your Life."  My eyes were suddenly opened, and I saw that all was surely NOT lost; all was simply different than it had appeared to me before.

This is more than enough for today.  I believe you are getting a glimpse of what has lead me to the very place I am at today:  A place of peace and joy, a place of simplicity and trust.

I know that there is Universal Intelligence, and that I am part of it.  I delight in my ability to receive wisdom, healing, and joy from the Universe - and I do so now, with gratitude.  I release these grateful, powerful words, knowing that I have already received what I need.  And so it is!

Rev. Jan

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Virgin Blogger

Phew!  Who knew it could be so daunting to set up something as simple as a blog?  Maybe I should have titled this blog "Technically Challenged!" And yet... here you are, reading my writings!  Amazing the age that we live in, my friend.

As a newly ordained minister with the University of Metaphysics, and as a Soul Pilgrim myself, I welcome you to join me on my journey of discovering what this life is all about.  I can assure you that I don't have all the answers.  Heck, I don't even have all the questions!  But I have learned a thing or two during my lifetime on this planet, and it would be my pleasure to share that knowledge with you.  Live, laugh, and learn with me!

I have been employed as a medical transcriptionist (that's a stenographer, for you old timers) for the past five years or so.  I've always been intrigued by the human body, but didn't quite feel up to spending all the time and money required for medical school - so typing out medical reports seemed like the next best thing!  In addition to now knowing more than I'd ever wanted about all things icky relating to the human body, I have become increasingly fascinated by our body's ability to heal itself!  Thus began my journey into the realm of metaphysics.

I grew up as a born-again Christian of the Pentecostal variety.  Attending church on Sundays was nonnegotiable.  While there were many positive things about this upbringing, it hardly left me wide open to dialogue with those who had religious views differing from my own.  In a word:  DOGMA.  It dragged me down.  I now feel that a great deal of who I truly am was hijacked and stuffed into an ill-fitting package for so many years.  I was certainly devoted, including going ultraconservative for a number of years.  This involved getting rid of all jewelry (didn't even wear my wedding ring), makeup, pants; and perhaps most radical of all, donning a "head covering" for a few years, too.   No one forced me to do those things; I felt it was the logical next step in my journey of faith.  I believed what I believed so strongly, I did not want there to be any doubt in the minds of those who saw me as to whether I was pious or not.  It has been pointed out to me since that I do tend to be a rather "all or nothing" type of gal...

I will say, my friends and family were exceedingly gracious whilst I took this little spiritual detour.  I am sure some of them were scared to death, wondering what sort of cult I had joined!  In fact, I took to referring to myself as a "Mennocostal," which sounded more human than a "Pentonite."  My poor husband!  Look up longsuffering, and you will find his picture, for more reasons than one!

At any rate, after spending several years with my husband while he attended a conservative Bible College, it was time for us to step into ministry, pastoring a small church in a very small Canadian town.  More of a village, actually.  Quite a change for this city gal, I assure you!  And what a miserable year it was.  It turned out to be a pivotal one in my life, however; and for that, I am grateful.  During that very difficult, lonely, thankless year as a pastor's wife, a number of calamities took place in my family of origin.  This caused me to look harder than I'd ever wanted to at what I believed, and why I clung to it so tenaciously.  Another very important step on my spiritual journey, to be sure!

Well, that's enough for this introduction. I am so pleased that you've joined me, and I hope you come again!  It is my intention to publish at least once weekly on this blog.  Let us reflect, learn, and grow together!

This I know:  God is love, and I am ONE with God.  All that I need to know is already inside of me, as part of my communion with God.  I am growing in wisdom every day, even as I grow in love.  For this I am thankful.  I release these powerful words back into the Universe, knowing that it is already so.  And so it is.