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Bread and Butter
A Self-Directed Discovery to Your Desired Life
By Deborah Liverett
Balboa PressCopyright © 2014 Deborah Liverett
All rights reserved.
Personal growth begins when self-examination becomes a necessity for change.
I chose to start a quest for meaning and self-discovery with a spiritual journey rather than a specific religious ideology. I studied many religions and have very clear ideas about what works for me based on study and reflection. The two merge at times, but I set myself on a course of understanding what was right for me. I encourage you to understand what is your internal Source and how it impacts your daily life.
How do you depend on your Source?
How does your Source support you?
Are you part of your Source, or do you exist outside of it?
These answers become your foundation for support and growth on your way to having bread and butter. If you can't answer these questions right away, that should not concern you. This book takes you through several series of questions within each chapter and provides lists at the end of the book. Each answer builds awareness that can help you know yourself better. As you learn more about whom you are, the once-difficult questions get easier.
My spiritual journey, which is very different from my religious upbringing, was set in motion as an adult tired of struggling against the tide of my life. From adolescence to early adulthood, I carried around a patriarchal image of God, my Supreme Parental Figure (SPF). He could sit in His big chair from on high and survey the entire world in milliseconds. A nod of His head granted a wish for a healing miracle, or a finger pointed in your direction could take away your most loved person. My SPF could prevent a teenage pregnancy on Monday, but if one pushed her luck, maybe next Tuesday a new life would be conceived. My mental picture of God blurred between Charlton Heston as he played Moses in the 1956 movie The Ten Commandments and my biological father. I took my imagery seriously, thinking it was part of the connection I needed to survive. As I look back on that image, it is amusing, because before these men died, my dad was a five foot ten inch African American, and Charlton Heston was the national spokesperson for the NRA.
Is your image of your Ultimate Source any different from your childhood deity or religious instruction?
How do you define the Ultimate Source in your life?
(Note: Use of the term Ultimate Source is to respect the many different names people have for the entity they believe in. When referring to my belief I will interchange the words Universe Energy (UE) and God.)
Like most children, I learned the concept of supplicative prayer at bedtime: "Now I lay me down to sleep and ask the Lord my soul to keep." Shortly after my parents' separation, when I was seven years old, I expanded the request from protection to a plea for what I came to understand to be wisdom. In my little girl mentality, if I could understand what was happening, I could ward off future pain. It was a simple prayer: "Please Lord, give me whatever it takes not to make the same mistakes twice." You see, as many children do, I thought somehow I was responsible for their breakup; if only I had been better behaved, they would have stayed together. It seemed to me that the pain from the mistake of that breakup was too intense to repeat. My survival philosophy became: "Be as good and perfect as possible—in secret hope that my SPF would grant favor over my days and nights." Twenty-seven years after my parents' separation, my own marriage failed following twelve years of me trying to be a better wife than June Cleaver. (For younger readers who may not know, June was the quintessential television wife to husband Ward and mother to sons Wally and the Beaver on Leave It To Beaver from 1957 to 1963.) I was spiritually and emotionally lost. I felt as if I had failed at marriage and at being a woman of wisdom. The pain that I desperately wanted to avoid was deadening. Yet the possibility of freedom to regain myself was the bright resurrection light that kept me alive.
What I learned is wisdom is not obtained by knowing what is right. Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right within your soul. Pay attention to what happens inside you when you succeed as well as when you fail. Wise people do not have to be certain about what they believe before they act. They are free to act, trusting that the practice itself will teach them what they need to know.
I came to understand that part of being an adult is examining the beliefs we were brought up on to see if they still serve us well as we live the life of our own design. If a belief is hindering your fulfillment, can you tweak that belief to serve you better? Some beliefs are big and some are small. All are meaningful enough to examine. We analyze the past to help us answer what is happening currently. It's the interpretation of life experiences that gives us insights beyond the way we were raised. Our beliefs shape our worldview and create the life we are living.
I wrestled with my old way of living because I was good at it. That way of living, however, wasn't enough to ward off heartache. What I realized was the very thing I was frightened about came into being. It was as if I had to face my fears to learn that I could survive them. I couldn't see that fact without first looking at my definition of Source. I needed to redefine my concept of God and my relationship with that God. Could these bad events help me learn new life lessons that could carry over to a life of my own design and desire? The answer turned out to be yes—for me. You can answer what it will be for you as you review the beliefs you carry today and what you decide to believe in as you go forward.
Examine your long-term beliefs about your relationship with your Ultimate Source.
How do you rely on your Source?
Who told you what you believe?
Has your thought changed over the years?
Have your thoughts about your Source expanded or contracted?
In a deliberate way, I began examining the thoughts that were going through my head. Were the thoughts supportive of the life I wanted or in conflict with what I desired? To move beyond the old thought process, I began giving myself permission to try on new thoughts for an hour at a time. If I didn't self-destruct, I could extend the new thought into days, always giving myself permission to go back to my original perception. I began experimenting with expanded ideas about God by asking myself questions like these:
What if He isn't a punishing and rewarding figure?
What if He loves without condition?
What if our eternal souls stand by to whisper ideas of greatness and we could choose to do something with those ideas or not because of our Free Will?
What if all desires of the heart are God's pleasure to fulfill?
Could I be blocking my own desires?
If yes, in what ways could I be blocking my own growth and desires?
What if God's ability and grace are larger than anyone or anything I could imagine?
Answer these questions for yourself, and more importantly, as the designer of your desired life, create some of your own questions. The ideas are yours and as personal as your relationship to your Ultimate Source.
Some people report that they are uncomfortable examining what they were taught to believe about their Ultimate Source. They believe something bad will happen. All those emotions are real. This process takes personal courage. We use courage to listen when the Universe calls upon us to do something different from what we would normally do. That courage frees us to be who we were born to be. It shows us the beauty of a life lived well and sometimes off the beaten path. Self-examination does not equal self-deterioration. Growth implies change, and self-awareness gives you an informed choice.
Through my examination, I began to see my own vision of God's support as the world's energy. Everything is energy, and it pulses continually. God's influence is impersonal and unparalleled. It is Universal Energy, and it is Love. Identifying God as Universal Energy reminds me that love is everywhere and in everything. I let go of my beliefs of a man in a heavenly chair with an authoritative finger pointing and punishing. If the ultimate is love, and UE loves us no matter what our own dastardly deeds, then ideally there can be no need for punishment or judgment. Man has created laws to govern our behavior. All I really needed was self-reflection and personal responsibility, because humans are capable of good and evil actions. The majority of us are not operating at either extreme but somewhere in the middle—hurting others' feelings in one minute and conducting a random act of kindness in the next.
Describe your vision of your God's support.
The notion of UE presented me with calmness and support that gave me a deep assurance that I would be all right. My thoughts tapped into a rhythm that assured my bills will get paid, my children will grow into decent people, and that I can experience joy no matter what is happening around me.
I began noticing what was happening in my life that supported my new understanding of my relationship with UE. One night three years after my divorce, I opened correspondence from my attorney. The letter stated that I had been paying fifty dollars a month, yet I still owed thousands of dollars. I cried uncontrollably. When the sobbing stopped, I thanked UE for clearing up the debt, as I knew somehow it would be. I didn't try to determine how the debt would be covered. I merely trusted it would be resolved. I continued to pay the monthly fifty-dollar allotment and affirmed that the debt was "paid in full." Approximately three months later, I received a letter explaining that my attorney had left the practice, and they were no longer going to bill me. No one ever explained why the debt was forgiven. All I know is that my understanding of the power of UE and my relationship to it created my desired result. I believed in the unbelievable without trying to figure out the details. I did the right thing, and continued to make payments. While making the payments, I aligned my belief in an energy that could move a financial mountain.
How resourceful do you view your Ultimate Source to be?
How capable is UE of creating change in your life?
Can you believe in that which you do not see currently?
How would you describe the foundation you want to build your true desires on?
UE provides me with a strong and wondrous foundation. I feel my closeness with UE with gratitude in every spring breeze and Chicago winter wind. The relationship blankets me like a down comforter. The energy swirls in me, bringing to the forefront an understanding that it was my responsibility to harness my energy to create the life I desire. It is the Universe's great pleasure to give me the desires of my heart.
List a personal desire that you have been afraid or unable to actualize. For three months, practice thanking and trusting your Ultimate Source for its manifestation until it or something better materializes in your life. Thoughts contradictory to your desire have no place in your belief system. Return always to thankfulness and trustfulness.
A minister challenged her congregation to pray without ceasing, as instructed in the King James Version of the Bible. I practiced praying, but felt I failed miserably at the without ceasing part given my numerous responsibilities at the time, including working and raising children. Formal prayer all day and night just did not seem possible. To accompany my newly expanded vision of God as UE, my understanding of prayer also needed new ideas. I returned to the examination of my beliefs. I invite you to examine for yourself:
What if our thoughts are viewed as our prayers?
How would you view your thoughts if you thought of them as your prayers?
What if listening were a viable component of prayer?
How are you affected if you don't believe in the possibility of an answer to your prayers?
If you dismiss answers because of a lack of trust in yourself or the wisdom of the Ultimate Source, do you prolong the pain or unrealized desire?
I'm not suggesting we force a specific outcome or that we try to control the way we get to an outcome. We can, however, decide to accept and be grateful for any outcome when we trust its design is to teach us something spiritual about ourselves. I am grateful for all that I have and do not have in this moment: grateful for the people who didn't work out in my life, and equally grateful for meaningful current relationships and a purposeful vocation. We may not be propelled into a completely new life right away, but with each answer we can begin with small steps toward new outcomes.
So the prayer (constant affirmation) to eliminate the attorney's bill was answered and returned fifty dollars a month to my pocket. It didn't change my financial picture right away. What it did do was increase my awareness of UE's ability in my life and in the lives of others. I learned our thoughts coupled with our emotions reinforce and create life situations and solutions that teach us more about ourselves. That kind of knowledge gives us clarity and awareness of our own greatness.
Having redefined my concept of God, and seeing how my thoughts as prayers could be answered, I was ready to step boldly into my spiritual journey. How to continue the journey wasn't immediately clear to me. My uncertainty did not seem to matter, as UE was capable of divinely establishing a next step without my direct intervention or immediate awareness. It was, however, set in motion by my desire and my belief system in UE's ability to change the way things appear in our lives.
On a warm spring day, I sat in the park with a bottle of water and some fresh fruit. Intuitively, I removed my shoes to straddle my toes between the bare ground and small patches of grass. Staring at a tree full of singing birds, I began to feel my connection with the pulse of the Universe. Instinctively, I was meditating at a similar vibration as the Universe. An awareness of trees and their life cycles prompted a shift in my thought process: We don't worry when leaves begin to fall from the trees because it is understood that this release signals the automatic processing of new leaves. We also don't worry when the forming of new leaves can't immediately be seen with the naked eye. Just as in our own lives, this process of falling away of the old so that something new can emerge is rarely immediately visible. We accept that birds have branches to hang onto with or without the leaves, just as our own spiritual foundation exists with or without our awareness. Birds raised their voices to be heard as part of the cycle. A comforting inner voice showed up and convinced me to be still and hang on long enough to find my own voice through continued meditation.
The first time I found meditation was in a yoga class during my sophomore year in college. I got special permission to take twenty-two credit hours a semester; I also worked fifteen to twenty hours a week and took an evening yoga class that introduced me to meditating on the third eye. Close your eyes and feel yourself lift your eyes under each eyelid so your eyes are looking up toward the middle of your forehead. The third eye is described more under chakras a few paragraphs below.
The results of the meditation were magical. I sailed through the work and class assignments with no worries or stress. The following semester I did not take the yoga and meditation class. I struggled and often vented emotionally-triggered bad-mouthing toward anyone within reach of my stressed voice. I admit it was the middle of the semester before I put together what was different and realized I wasn't regularly practicing meditation.
Another component of meditation that some people employ is the use of a mantra. Mantras help you quiet your mind. Mantras have energy. Mantras can be one word or a short, positive, uplifting statement. Concentrating on a mantra can keep you focused, which is very helpful when your mind wanders (a normal occurrence in the beginning) and you are having a hard time bringing it back to a relaxed state of being.
There are many books dedicated to the methods of meditation. I recommend you experiment with what is comfortable for you, thereby creating your own path to enlightenment. I'll explain a few of my methods merely as examples, because this book is about you figuring out what works for you.
All of my meditations begin with three deep cleansing breaths that signal my mind and body to calm down. The ritual is important to me because it presents an automatic response similar to Pavlov's experiment; my body registers the sequence of events time after time, telling my system it is time to relax. In meditation the breath is very important. The deep breaths signal the brain that it's time to return to calm. You can think of the breath in as peace being brought in, and the outgoing breath as disruptions going out. The symbolism helps your mind, organs, and being to slow down. The quiet makes a space for new thoughts, ideas, and ways to live in this world. It opens the door to new ways of coping, and it gives us clarity. It's a sacredness we all too often run from, as if being in a state of flux were normal. As you can tell from the Preface, I am a great believer in personal choice. I choose how I want to experience the day, and often it is in calmness. If flux and mayhem appeal to you, stay there, and by all means don't meditate.
Excerpted from Bread and Butter by Deborah Liverett. Copyright © 2014 Deborah Liverett. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Spiritual Journey, 5,
Free Will and Divine Order, 41,
Living from the Heart, 51,
Your Voice and Your Path, 61,
Possibilities and Potential, 71,
Additional Life Discovery Questions, 83,
Reference Books Read and Recommended by the Author, 93,
About the Author, 95,