April 4, 2021
Good morning friends. Happy Easter Sunday! I wish you all a blessed and beautiful day filled with happiness and love. Easter rekindles childhood memories of coloring eggs, chocolate bunnies and baskets of goodies. It also reminds me of attending church with my family and celebrating what this day truly represents. Similar to Christmas, todays celebration of life can often be swept to the side by commercialism. It’s a wonderful day to spend time with our family and friends. There’s nothing more fun or exciting than watching children on Easter egg hunts, search for hidden treats. The significance of today is centered on much more than chocolate bunnies, decorated eggs or marsh mellow chicks. Celebrating this day should be for a vastly different reason. Easter is one of the most important days in Christian religions. This day celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It ends the season of Lent and repentance for all people. Today represents new life; for us here on earth and in the afterlife.
I’m not writing to sway your religious beliefs or preach to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or not. Please take a moment to contemplate the new beginnings of Springtime and the glory of Easter. It’s a magical time, that creates a renewal and rebirth of all living things on earth. “Fat Tuesday” and “Ash Wednesday” began the season of Lent over six weeks ago. Easter seemed so far away in mid-February. Now it’s here! Take time to enjoy life; remove your foot from the gas pedal, slow down and pull over. Get outside, relax, breathe and bask in the glory of the universe. Allow its energy to empower and boost your soul, bringing clarity to your thoughts. Open your heart and spirit to the possibilities and goodness around you. Life is truly a magnificent creation. It’s up to you to be happy and enjoy it.
I was raised in an Italian Catholic household. My family, heritage, traditions and religious beliefs are strongly embedded within my soul. I believe in God and pray daily. I’ve struggled with various religious interpretations of God’s word. I haven’t always agreed with the decisions of religious leaders. My issues with the church, and various aspects of religious institutions, have only intensified over the years. My transition away from organized religion began after my first divorce. My family encouraged me to seek an annulment. I met with the parish priest to discuss the process. I learned my personal life and the amount of my monetary donation seemed to be the most important issue. I gracefully declined the process. More questions were aroused when the abuse scandal began in the late 1980s. I recall a conversation with my Mom, when the church was involved in many lawsuits. She told me, “Our priest is asking each family to donate $2,500 to help them.” I told her, “Don’t do it!” Then I explained why. Several years later I visited the Vatican, in Rome. The ornate wealth and opulence of this symbol of Christian faith was both magnificent and disheartening.
I’ve attended a variety of spiritual and religious celebrations with different denominations and faiths. Many religions share similar beliefs in God. These institutions seek their parishioners to give money for their financial support. I witness this as a double-edged sword; from requesting aid, to increasing wealth and power. A compilation of past and present events discouraged attendance to religious services. I distanced myself from these structural institutions, but my faith and belief in God have remained steadfast. I hold all people, and religions, who celebrate God, in the highest regard. Religious leaders of all faiths, (priests, ministers, rabbis, evangelists and all those who oversee or direct services), need to be role models for truth, honesty, hope and faith. Many of them are leading examples for good. Unfortunately, we are all human beings, and we’re all subject to the same temptations of evil. There’s a wonderful quote from the Bible, John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.” I am definitely no one to cast any stone.
My perception of Easter Sunday is centered in gratitude for life and praise to God. Life is truly a precious gift. Our time on earth is limited. It shouldn’t be wasted, controlled or stifled in fear. I believe we were placed on this earth for far better reasons than social controversy, economic issues, interpersonal struggles or world wars. Our happiness is the key to our success. It’s taken me many years (and some difficulties) to make this revelation. For many years I was consumed by my ego and drive for success. That nonsense didn’t relate, assist or correlate to my personal happiness. Life isn’t centered around greed, wealth or possessions. When I generated the courage and fortitude to open my heart and soul to the universe, this is where my self-discovery began.
I’ve discovered my internal happiness, by changing my attitude and focus on life. I’m content with who I am; excited to greet each new sunrise and be grateful for life. I do my best to live each day in the present, with passion and love. I’m not perfect and never will be. I’m just me and hope you accept me as such. I’m grateful for my many blessings; including family, friends, health and lots of love. I look forward to sharing my joy with others, exploring new places, living a balanced and healthy life. My life isn’t about stuff, but more about living through experiences and joy.
I’ve been fortunate to visit some amazing countries and interact with incredible individuals from different cultures. These experiences have provided vibrant life lessons. The education and knowledge learned from other people can be a source of energizing power. I recall my first visit to Italy. It’s a stunningly beautiful country; with friendly people, amazing food and incredible history. The landscape and food are widely diverse; contrasting between regions and areas. The country ranges from the snow-covered Alps, to the tip of the boot, dipped in the Mediterranean Sea. Each region boosts breathtaking scenery; as well as varieties of delicious cuisine and delectable delights. Businesses; including restaurants, shops, stores and banks, close near or after lunch. People go home and spend quality time with their families, friends or just to rest. Many businesses don’t reopen until late afternoon. This phenomenon occurs in many European countries. At first, I thought it this was crazy, but then realized it’s an ingenious social institution. It makes sense why these people have less stress and enjoy life.
When I visited Peru, I discovered an amazing and spiritual land. The majority of people are not wealthy in material possessions. They are however, among the happiest, most fun and incredibly grateful people I have encountered. Visiting Machu Picchu, located in the Sacred Valley, has always been on my “bucket list.” The 15th century home of the Inca, at nearly 8,000 feet, is both spectacular and beautiful beyond belief. Everyone I encountered along this journey; from locals, to transplants, tourists, and everyone in between were simply wonderful. I spent the majority of time in a lodge in Pisac. The people of this small town are welcoming, hospitable and kind souls. The festival of the Virgin of the Carmel, took place while I was there. It was a fabulous cultural gathering of people, food, drinks and celebration of life like no other. A contagious type of happiness provided an amazing boost to my spirit. Their wealth extends far beyond the confines of currency or possessions.
I can share a similar story and experience when I visited Bali. It’s a beautiful island of Indonesia. The people are very friendly, grateful for life and extremely spiritual; respecting their culture, land and ancestors. The people many not be wealthy in terms of money, but are rich in heritage and happiness. They are deeply religious, devoted to the land and traditions. I visited this beautiful island to complete my yoga teacher training. The month-long instruction took place at a facility outside of Ubud. I often walked next to the rice paddy fields during breaks or after meals. If workers were close by, they never hesitated to say hello or begin a conversation. This was true in Ubud, where I spent several Sunday’s walking the streets, or out sightseeing in the nearby countryside. People I met along my path, were always interested in greeting me and sharing conversation. That was a bit odd at first, because walking the streets at home (our in most US cities), people hesitate to look at me, let alone start a conversation. It didn’t take long for me to realize the genuine goodness of these people. I settled in like a local, talking with anyone and everyone. It was an incredible and amazing journey.
The world is filled with incredible and grateful people. They share a similar trait; knowing how to live a relaxed and happy life. In America, we seem conditioned to the fast-paced life style. It offers little time to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. We are a nation pushed, where having more is the object; rather than taking time to enjoy what we have. We work longer hours, drive faster vehicles, always in a hurry or rarely slowing to enjoy simply being present. Social media outlets and some news sources drive and condition our society to fear, outrage, anxiety, depression and anger. I refuse to adhere to this lifestyle or associated madness. I’m in control of my own life, happiness and have no intention of relinquishing it. You have the same choice. Happiness is a conscience decision. Life is short. I refuse to be bullied or manipulated to follow what others dictate. It’s time to live a happy and healthy life.
The encounters, experiences and lessons learned have given me a new outlook on humanity and life. There are many incredible individuals that inhabit our world. Happiness, success or contentment have nothing to do with material possessions. Start respecting life and the many simple rewards it provides. Change your perception of the world and how you relate to it. Learn to resolve the stresses encountered along your path with positivity and goodness. We each have our own individual expiration date on this earth. We don’t know when that day or time will come; but it is a certainty. Don’t allow your ego, or societies drive for possessions and greed, to consume you. It would be wonderful if we could all learn new lessons from other cultures on our planet. Let them be your motivational force to happiness. As I continue my journey, I urge you to live your life with courage, integrity and respect. Have faith in the empowerment of life, as you reach for your passions and dreams. I’m sending you energy and love for a healthy and happy life. Life is a daily choice. You can live in happiness and love, or not. Choose wisely.
Please tune in and join me again next Sunday for more! The healthy life puzzle is always in rotation. Let’s be healthy and strong mentally, physically and spiritually!
Thanks for your love and support! Embrace Life! Be sure to get outside and enjoy nature!