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Spirituality Posted on Mar 05, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Spirituality or religion in general was a confusifing concept to me. In my elementary years I lived with my dad who is agnostic and my stepmom at the time was Jewish. My mom went from Wiccan to non dominational Christian. So in elementary religion just meant different holidays. 


When I moved in with my mom the summer before middle school she was transitioning from Wiccan to Christianity. During that time was some of my happiest memories of my family. My mom would teach me about the earth and have me meditate on listening. To me it didn't matter what religion she was following but those moments were peaceful for me. 


But when she started becoming more of a Christian, got a divorce from that stepdad, and became ill (she is still alive today, but at the time we thought she was on her deathbed) things changed. This all happened around the end of my 7th grade year. My mom slowly began to be sick, not able to work, cook, clean, or really take care of us. People tried breaking into the house and overall I was scared. I watched over my little sister (she's two 1/2 years younger than I), did homework, cleaned house, cooked meals (mainly stuff like sandwiches or stuff that could be put in the microwave), cleaned, walked to my sisters school to pick her up, and took care of my mom the best I could. At this time religion did not play much a role in my life. It was not talked about. But when my mom found a bag of basil under the bed she freaked and thought it was marijuana. I tried telling her it was basil or bay leaves (at the time I forgot which herb I put in the bag) and that it was suppose to protect us from negative things. She didn't believe me until a friend of the family, who I called uncle and had not seen in years, popped up out of nowhere. He told my mom it was basil, said hi to me and disappeared. I probably would have thought I imagined him coming if it wasn't for my mom also loving to tell that story.


My mom got better and my current step dad came into the picture. My mom became non dominational Christian and say things like Wiccan and divination were against God. Around that time I looked into Wiccan, Druidry, and a little bit into Buddism. But felt like it was wrong to look into them since my mom was against it. I followed Christianity and became more involved in the church. I joined the committee board of the church at the age of 15 (the youngest to join) and went to the women's bible study. Not long after joining the committee board they disbanned and after going to the bible study for 6 months I was asked to leave because they felt I was too young even though they recognized I was mature well beyond my age. A lady from the bible study group took me home and was left with the task for telling my mom what went on. My mother is very blunt and knew that me being kicked out had hurt me, though I had not made that known to anyone at the bible study when they told me. She gave the lady an ear full about the actions of the bible study. That lady then became my mentor and would hold one on one bible studies with me. She is a really kind hearted lady.


In college I was still going to a church near my college campus and to a bible study on campus.

But after a bit I felt that I was following Christianity just to follow it and that I did not truly believe. At that time I was also questioning my sexuality and wanted to follow herbal studies instead of getting a masters in Botany or Horticulture. 


So I called my mom and said, "I want to go into herbal studies after graduating instead of Plant science."


My mom said, "okay."


"Then I said that I was questioning whether I was gay or straight. And that I was agnostic."


Out of all that my mom was upset the most by me being agnostic. She asked if I was agnostic because of my sexual orientation. I told her that wasn't the case. 


After I graduated from college and moved around I was able to spend more time finding myself. I looked once again at Wiccan, Druidry, and Buddhism. As well as Shamanism. My great grandmother was 1/2 Native American though she refused to acknowledge that side of her ancestors. So I had done a little research into that. I have been fascinated by many cultures and thought it was time to take a look at mine. But after a bit I took an online class about Buddhism and decided that it was this spiritual path that feels right to me. 


So for a few months I talked about it a lot as I explored new topics. It amazed me how much of Buddhism went with what I already believed or at least thought about at some point in time.


I was staying with my grandmother at the time (not my great grandmother that I mentioned earlier) and we would talk about all sorts of things. But when I tried talking with my mom about Buddhism, she would say that it's not her religion. And when I tried inviting her to honor your parents day at the local monastery she repeated that phrase. I tried explaining that Buddhism is more of a spiritual path than religion but she would not listen. The monastery had asked if I would write a speech for my mom on honor your parents day, I said I would if we were able to go. But since my mom would go I didn't go (that and the monastery was over an hour away and I was having car troubles). At that time my mom and I were having a rocky relationship so I decided to still write the speech. That way I could see my mom in a positive lighting instead of focusing on all the negativity at that time. 


To this day I can not share my view of Buddhism with my mom and at first that was hurtful but now I am working through that.


I have been following Buddhism since about June 2013 so I am still growing in many ways. 


If you have questions or wish to talk about anything I mentioned feel free to post comments. Or if you want to talk about your spiritual journey feel free to post comments as well. I like hearing about other peoples journeys too.

Hopes and Dreams Posted on Feb 21, 2014 at 11:30 AM
Hello all,
Ever since I was little a toddler I loved nature. My mom and I were walking across an empty parking lot when I let go of her hand to chase after a foam cup. I picked it up and threw it into a trash can and said, "Mommy, I want to clean up the world." I had big dreams and hopes for the future. I did not understand how vast the world was for my world was my family. 
In middle school I decided I wanted to either study Horticulture, Botany, or Herbalism. I used the computer to look up herbal schools and. I guess at that point in time the herbal schools didn't have websites up so I narrowed what I wanted to do to Horticulture or Botany.
The high school I chose had an environmental career path, meaning I would take environmental related classes on top of a normal high school curriculum. This is where I took a Horticulture class and fell in love with it.
This led to me attending college and getting a degree in Horticulture. So upon reaching that dream I looked towards the internet again to search for an herbal school. I went to one herbal school for a month, I mainly helped do odd jobs like chopping wood, gathering plants for food (loved that part, I was able to identify native plants for food), and helped to cook on their wood burning stove. It was an awesome experience and I learned a little about herbalism. Then I moved to Florida and attended three classes (one weekend class a month) at a Tradition Chinese Herbal shop/school. One day I may go back there to continue the classes but do to life's twists and turns I had to leave. 
Now I work in a plant research lab and I love working here. Almost everyday I am learning something new, but for me if I am not striving for a new goal then I feel stagnant. Which is why if I say I will do something, I find away to do it. Like in high school another dream was to do plant research in the jungles of Africa. Though I have not obtained that yet, I was able to travel to Dominica and study their tropical rainforest plants. But that is a story for another time.
What are your dreams or hopes?