Friday, February 17, 2017

One of 365 Life Shifts...

 I wrote here a lot last year about the Buddhist idea of the debt of gratitude we owe to the people who support us on our journeyIn this context, “debt” doesn’t have its usual negative connotation: This debt is an honor, meaning we’ve received the amazing gift of someone else’s time, love, advice, financial support, food, shelter, career-mentorship, spiritual teaching, or whatever as not just a gift, but as their investment in us as valuable contributors to society. I also took this writing beyond my blog and into print, for my first contribution to a mass-marketed daily inspiration book, Jodi Chapman’s and Dan Teck’s 365 Moments of Grace.

I had the opportunity to do this again late last year, when Jodi emailed me to say some unexpected space had opened up in the book’s sequel, 365 Life Shifts, which I had missed the initial deadline for because more difficult stuff happened in my life that derailed me from being able to focus on writing anything other than my blog posts about what I was learning from using my Buddhist practice to create value through overcoming my challenges.

Back when I was a Baha’i, long before I ever thought I’d become Buddhist, I found myself in some serious life-challenges, and needed all the help I could get because I didn’t know then what I know now. The most frightening was the threat of homelessness during the recession in 2008. Most people I know don’t realize it got that bad for me, but it did. For two months, I was, by the legal definition, homeless.

Thankfully, it was by legal definition only. I was assisted out of that hole by two of my most beloved friends, Cristina and Housein Cornell. These two, in addition to being two of my closest friends, were also my role models as Baha’is and as a married couple, so any time I spent with them was as inspiring as it was delightful. They are both kind, funny, deeply spiritual people who are sincere and dedicated in their faith, and I appreciate them just as much now from my Buddhist perspective as I did from my previous Baha’i perspective. While it’s been over eight years since they moved out of Michigan, the impression they left on my life and in my heart is as strong today as it was almost a decade ago when I lived with them for the last two months they were in Michigan.

After they moved to New York and I moved into a rented room (I had since finally gotten a job as a student employee at Madonna University), I had the idea of thanking them in writing by getting a piece published in their honor, that described my experience about not just how they helped me, but what I learned from them in the process—particularly about realigning my life-priorities and not equating my loss of my apartment with failure as an adult.

I wrote my experience and submitted it to Guideposts Magazine, and received a rejection letter. I had the feeling that Guideposts wouldn’t accept my non-Christian story regardless of any edits I could make for re-submission, so I tabled the idea of getting it published in print, until eight years later when I sifted my memory of inspirational experiences from my life that I could submit for the book 365 Life Shifts.

Here’s my chance, finally!, I thought. And what a marvelous opportunity to have it published in a spiritually-inclusive book which potentially has a far wider readership pool than a primarily-Christian magazine! So, I copied the original story into a new Word document, and brought it into the present by revising it from my Buddhist perspective thinking back on one of my best experiences as a Baha’i.

While its predecessor 365 Moments of Grace is a collection of stories from over 200 contributors from various spiritual backgrounds expressing what grace means to them, 365 Life Shifts is a collection of stories by many of the same people—and some newcomers—about experiences that not only changed our lives but changed who we are or how we see the world.

365 Life Shifts comes out on February 21, so please stay tuned for my next two posts about it! On February 21, I’ll post the actual story as it appears in the book, and on February 25, I’ll post the unabridged version (which includes the full narrative I wanted to convey that I didn’t have the space for in the 350-word allotment in the book).

Thank you for reading! <3

Image: "November Clouds" by Karla Joy Huber, 2011; oil pastel

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