Speaking of spirituality and religion, here’s some original thoughts of mine from May 2009.

Note from me, 12.13.2019: Getting in the spirit of Hanukkah and my need to talk about Judaism reminded me of something I wrote 10 years ago, and so I wanted to share it. I think this list had been snowballing since the Columbine Shooting when I started really discussing and picking apart my faith in my journal at the time. I wanted to understand the way that I felt and come to some understanding. The below notes were originally written in 2009, the only editing I’m doing is if I repeat myself a thousand times. This is actually the first time I’ve re-read through this in many, many, many years since posting it online at some point, so I might have to give an updated note at the end.

2009:

If you’ve read me a while, you would totally know I’m not anywhere near RELIGIOUS in a certain denomination. I’m only spiritual. I wasn’t exactly born in a religious atmosphere (as in the home). My relatives, however, has introduced me to all kinds of religions [pilgrim holiness, nazerine, baptist, free methodist, christianity]. While I’ve appreciated all of the religious experiences I have had going to several different churches and learning in classes about several religions, I still have to come to a conclusion about what I personally believe in. I think I’ve always longed to learn about reglions but always have settled (happily, that is) in being just spiritual especially with the impact of taking Native American Literature in 1st year college of where we discussed the jest of believing in spirit AND of spirit of one soul to nature. That’s about where it all began for me. In absolutely no order, I will explain what I believe in with describing situations with main words.

FAITH: Standing up for what [you] believe in and standing strong to those morals and not letting someone change your mind. Faith is about believing in what you believe in, regardless of what happens. Faith, for me, is not letting go of the fact that I have hope – and sometimes it is hard… even along the road of wanting to give up, I still believe that everything happens for a reason. Faith is me standing ground for all of this below that I believe in and will continue to believe in until my dying day.

HOPE: Hope is hoping for the best, believing positive things will happen and will happen for a reason as it was supposed to… HOPE is living life — rather it be a rollercoaster ride or not, you’re up or you’re down, but you’re still positive for the majority of the time and find the glass clearer at the end. HOPE is living each and every day knowing soul purpose and reason why you’re hoping and having hope.

LOVE: Even from way back when, I knew this was the best gift in the world. Love is free, love is absolutely amazing when you find the right person, love is loving and being able to accept all of the personal flaws in another human being and loving them for who they are…. Love is doing stuff you’ve never done before, love is getting butterflies even after being with someone for a long time, love is holding hands, laughing… etc. Love is a big great adventure… if you are with the right one.

KARMA: When someone does something really bad to someone or makes fun of that person, I totally believe they’re going to get it back twice as bad when it comes back around and bites them. This is also for the ones who lie and steal, too. I also believe that possibly in a past life, those people that walk in and out of our lives (for reasons of bad) & needed to fulfill some requirement of karma… this goes for ex-bfs and ex-gfs… they just served a sole purpose of & you learning some kind of a lesson to move on with life, then that karma is over and life moves on.

DREAMS [telepathy thru dreams]: The dreams that completely have to do with a situation and then that situation happens. I believe are to be dreams that are made to make you prepare to hear the news and to be extra cautious of something in case it does happen. It’s the reality in dreams prior to whats going to happen. Take for instance, back when we first got Peaches (lhasa apso dog that passed away in 2008), I had a dream that she ran away from us when we were out walking her. A couple days later, we really did go walking, she really did get loose from her collar and she was running out in the road. Luckily there wasn’t a car coming, I took off running after her and finally caught her. She was ok. The other dream I had was about being in E’s old classroom and the teacher replacement telling the class that E wasn’t coming back to school. I was screaming YES SHE IS, SHE IS COMING BACK! That very morning Momma pulled me aside in her media class and told me that E was retiring. Since those situations, I have still had numerous dreams that gave me prefeelings before a situation. Usually, spot on.

GUT FEELINGS / FEELINGS AROUND SOMEONE: We all have our different feelings about if someone is creepy [bad vibes] or something’s going on with that person and we shouldn’t be friends with them [doing something shady]… then it usually is. I’ve dealt with that a lot working in retail. There had been several times when I and the managers talked about certain people being shady or if they were weird, and they usually were, and they eventually got caught doing something or weeded themselves out. I highly believe in vibes, too. I guess that part just comes with being human…. but it is also a gift because some people don’t have gut feelings or get vibes from the bad people.

EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON: I stroooonnnnggglyyyy believe in this! If it all falls into place and it happens out of good — it was meant to be and it was totally for a reason…. as if it was already pre-planned to happen but we just had to make it happen by taking risks. An example of everything happens for a reason would be when back in 2004 December there was this dog that just happened to be outside when my parents came home at night. We ended up putting Doggie Stares into the backyard, we kept it until the vet could come and get it. She was too wild for us but I grew attached to the idea of having a dog. Next thing we know, a week or so later, we were handed Peaches because a neighbor couldn’t take care of her anymore. Having Doggie Stares at our backyard and taking care of her prepared us to get Peaches.

DIVINE SPIRIT / POLAR OPPOSITES / TWIN FLAMES / SOUL MATES: I believe that everyone has a soul mate and, if it’s the right match, those two people will be inseparable. Those people will be completely polar opposites with some things in common so the two will get along. One mate will pick up on things that the other mate isn’t good at and vice-versa. These people will be greatly in love and feel like they’ve known each other forever. When united as one, it is a feeling so close to heaven that those two people that share this feeling will never forget… and will always be known to each other for future lives and past lives.

MAKING WISHES AT 11.11, FINDING CANADIAN COINS ON ACCIDENT, EVEN NUMBER TOTAL AT REGISTER CHECKOUT: These things are all good luck for me…. When I worked in retail, I’d find canadian coins and have good luck to last for a while after having found it. After not finding too many coins, I went to another conspiracy of mine that just came about… was having a customers total ring up completely even after tax. I knew it’d be a good day if I got one of those (and it would be).

STARS/ FORTUNE TELLERS /  FORTUNE COOKIES/HOROSCOPES: I believe all of these have significance to truth to it. I have a feeling that it has a lot to do with being closer with nature and the universe, feeling as one with world — unity of everyone and everything around. If the sun is in align with the planets (which is for astrology signs) – everything is fine. Also, I believe that mood rings (even though, yes, I realize this is fake) plays some role in the human body/emotions and feelings… and it is relevant to me because I believe in  the mood ring function. I believe on wishing on shooting stars.

LIFE LESSONS & PREDESTINED: I sooooooooo believe that each one of our lives has been written/predestined right before we’re born. Something somewhere or someone has written a plan IN THE STARS (the sky, universe) to be given to the world / to us as we are born and grow up. There are things that we do in our lives that brings us to the right path and serve us the life lessons that will guide us to who we really are and what we’re really supposed to be doing. It’s already in us – but we have to meet certain qualifications of life lessons before we really figure out life… and what we’re supposed to do. Or the big plan, that is… and then it is only up to us of how far we’re going to go.

PEOPLE YOU MEET: I believe that the people you meet in your life will help you among the way to becoming what you really are… sometimes they’re great, sometimes terrible, sometimes just people that came quickly in and out of your life… each serves a purpose in your life and then they’re gone. Old friends, people that have died, etc. Just like I believe I was meant to meet E just for the sole purpose of finding HOPE and starting to believe in that. I met Momma for the very reason of trust, to have my moment of ‘packing up the memories’ and to have someone that cared. I was meant to meet Sherrie online through OpenDiary several years ago, to have her to talk to me and help me when I’m struggling with something and to give me advice (since E passed away)… and she continued doing that until she passed away.

NATURE / WITCHERY: I’m all about nature, all about being connected outside with the world with the universe with the stars and everything… All of my life, I’ve felt sooooo alive when I’m around water and the ocean and sea. I just feel like it’s meant to be that way for me… calming, etc. Witchery has a lot to do with the outdoors and spiritual… I’m not a witch now (even though I strongly believe that I was in a past life), but I have dipped my toe into wicca/paganism several times.

PAST LIFE: I believe in this, too, as stated about. In a way I also think that I was a renaissance woman… one of those women that didn’t want a family but wanted a lover and a career…. one of those girls that stirred it up back then when women didn’t really work. I don’t want kids… so that has to the be the only explanation is that about my absolute need to want to work.

What is luck when it’s common? Canadian coins if they’re close to the Canadian border, it’s not so uncommon. Good luck is definitely something that someone thinks up for themselves. Just like when I worked at Goodys, I’d ALWAYS find canadian coins in the register. When I moved to other stores, it was really uncommon… so I had to think of something else that would be good luck. Canadian coins were good luck for me at that period in my life because (it’s all about the mind) when I found them, I constantly had good luck. I probably have over $1 of pennies and numerous other change in Canadian Coins. I still have them all, tucked away, in a box… for safe keeping. Also, anytime my managers from Goodys & I would eat Chinese food together, they would tape the fortune cookie message on their desk at work (data office). When I still lived at my parents, I taped the fotune cookie message to my desk there as well (and then I carried out the tradition of just keeping the fortunes with me in my bag).

UPDATED 12.13.2019 NOTE: Despite the personal catered-to-me sort of thoughts because they happened to me and that’s what I experienced, almost everything about this is pure Judaism or a piece of it or something. It’s crazy to me… all along, the one religion I never even thought about looking into is the perfect one for me. I guess G-d didn’t want me to find mine until I was in my 30s… so it would be my own, on my own at the right time, not shoved down my throat at a young age, and where I could fully appreciate everything about it and all of my experiences that goes with it to happen at the time it was supposed to happen. Fate. Luck. Whatever you want to call it… destiny.

The Beginning: A preview of the 2017 Hanukkah that lead me down the path towards Jewish conversion.

TODAY marks the two year anniversary of seeing the light that lit up my soul. Wow. Two years, and a lot has happened in those two years. Once again I am writing this from memory and pictures. I almost feel like it’s more authentic in a way. Here goes:

I don’t really remember what time it was, but it was getting dark. I remember lounging on the couch reading The Gabber and reading that there was going to be the lighting of the menorah at the park by the local synagogue. I noticed the time and I only had a few minutes to get there if I was going to go. Something within me told me that I absolutely needed to be there. So, I put on a jacket and walked out the door. (Mind you: I remember feeling lost and unhappy with life and like something was still missing…and Christmas hadn’t felt like it belonged to me for a few years at that point. Something was amiss.)

When I arrived at the park, I stayed back a good distance because at the time I knew nothing about being Jewish or Judaism, and I didn’t know if it was kosher for me to even be there. A few people said hi to me. They said the prayers, sang, and lit the first (outdoor) candle.

I still can’t explain it… but, that first candle being lit? It lit up my soul. I was never the same after that.

I stayed there for a while collecting my thoughts as to what I just witnessed–both inside and out–as I was listening to them sing. Then, I headed home thinking to myself: get home fast, girl, you’ve got some research to do.

This is me… with purple hair… and oh how I miss my long hair… this is also a face full of “what just happened?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?” and a boost of inner happiness.

Can you believe that I still have the screenshots of what I researched on my phone? Here’s what I looked up:

-Jews by choice: in relation to reincarnation of where in Judaism the Jews-by-choice were once Jewish but born into a non-Jewish family and then finding way back to Judaism.

-Kabbalists / Reincarnation

-You might be a Jewish soul, if: G-d felt more real and made more sense than any other, related to Jewish people more, reacted more towards the Holocaust than others, the values are what you possess…

-Becoming Jewish is like falling in love (an essay)

-The Pirate Rabbi Samuel Pallache (for fun, because I was really into Pirates in 2017, ha.)

-I also took a screenshot of some books from someone that was also studying Judaism so that I knew some titles to read.

Also that same day, I started following every Jewish magazine and newsletter that I could find… including Lilith and Jewish Currents and some others I can’t seem to remember. The Jewish Currents that I ordered sent a calendar as well and it was JAZZ and POETRY. It was such a beautiful calendar. I cried when I saw it. (YES I am super emotional about all of this, thank you very much.) I still love it. Very much art. I also looked up Jews and Jazz and found Paul Shapiro. I looked into what was Jewish in the area, and what schools would possibly have Jewish classes. My research lasted forever.

So, that was basically the very beginning. That first night changed my life forever.

Fast forward though the year: I didn’t tell anyone about my finding of Judaism for the longest time. Aunt Patsy was the first one I told, and I absolutely felt like I had to, before she passed away (so that was all in Jan 2018). Also in Jan 2018, I discovered matzo ball soup. I didn’t attend synagogue until June 2018 (with the exception of attending a random one down south while at a boat show in April) and that is where I bought my chai necklace. I started my class in Oct 2018. In Dec 2018: well, you’ll just have to wait for it.

REFLECTION: Okay, so I’ve deleted what I wanted to say about twenty times now because I clearly can’t form a sentence or even put into words how I feel about this. Simply put: I just can’t imagination my life without Judaism. It’s been the highlight of my last two years. It’s kept me going, and when I converted, I finally felt complete. After 32 years of feeling incomplete and like something was missing…it’s a really good feeling, feeling whole. And it’s almost like being born again. In a way, I feel as if I went from old soul to a younger soul. Can that even happen? It’s hard to explain that.

So anyway, I’m going to post below a piece that I wrote in Feb 2018. It’s a poem that explains better in-depth explanation of how I felt. Also, if you read the previous entry, I was talking about making changes and being scared and knowing it’s the end of the line sort of thing… I took my first step towards that changing today. And tomorrow, I’m going to take another, and another, and another… . and march forward until..

The Very Beginning

Nearly every single day of my 31 years of being an old soul on this Earth:
I have been searching endlessly for what my heart wants,
where my soul belongs, and what my life’s purpose really is.
Reading and questioning everything. Why this, why that? What if this, what if that?
I’ve created this realm of philosophical thoughts that led me
to wondering why this often ignited flame inside me dies out?

I am in a much different place than where I was born..…
I broke away from those roots at 21 with a different mindset
by walking down the road less traveled, and I never looked back.
Growing older—supposedly wiser—only harmed me in some way.
My soulfulness of my wondering youth and the youngness of my mind
was nearly erased by the every day menial problems.

Last year in December, around Hanukkah, my soul was screaming.
After not being successful to distract myself with anything else,
I walked down to the local Menorah lighting ceremony on the first day.
Something about being there was magical—I saw a flame that didn’t die.
A million of my dreams as a teen have been realized, but why, I ask:
during the most fulfilling moments of living….there’s still something missing?

The night before my aunt died, I told her a secret: I discovered Judaism.
I told her she no longer had to worry about my soul. I finally found where it belongs.
This is my journey, the one that I will wholeheartedly embrace,
the one that I will choose to carefully walk—not run, skip, jump, hop—and practice
often, for this is something that deserves my true attention and patience.
I cannot ever take this moment for granted because I have found my spiritual home.

My aunt, being of a different religion, replied “A good place to start your spiritual
journey is Judaism. Jesus was Jewish so you can’t go wrong starting there.
Follow your heart and look to God. He will answer all of life’s questions.”
That answer provided me with the stamp of approval.
I sent my letter out to the universe, to the world, to God himself
that I was ready to take on this new responsibility of finding out who I am.

I’ve spent so much time being blinded and sidetracked by the clutter in life,
and in turn, I have missed some of the best moments that could have been.
There are years shaved off my life that I can never get back.
Depression swallowed me whole in the darkest days of my life,
and what I would have given at that time to close my eyes and never wake.
But, I had forgotten: both the good and bad in life serve us with life lessons.

Just this week, I cut back on TV shows, and looked to finding synagogue feeds online.
I found one in New York and I instantly fell in love with this Rabbi’s sermon:
“Gam zeh ya’avor. This too shall pass.”
How true it is that with every breath we take and move along the day, the moments shift
from bad to good and good to bad, back and fourth like a pendulum…
always leaving room just enough for an action or a reaction.

Time is sometimes a lie that we rarely take seriously, and living in the moment
just doesn’t exist anymore when people’s hearts aren’t pure from distractions.
We think we have time to say what we need to say, or do what we need to do,
but we don’t… and we’re almost always gone, even if we’re there in present day.
I’ve had many people—and moments—taken from me as I’ve come to love them.
It’s the constant reminder that nothing is ever permanent.
And to trust the thought that everything happens for a reason, no matter what it is.

These last few months–My discovery of Judaism and the beautiful Jewish Culture–has lit my life’s candle so full of love and light. It’s such an intense feeling that I’ve never felt or seen before. When a person knows, they know. I know I have a whole lifetime worth of catching up on, but embedded deeply in this soul of mine, I feel like I already know it…that I’ve walked the path before in another lifetime. It brings up a lot of loaded questions, and I’ll still be searching for answers come as they may. I can’t even begin to explain how it has completed the largest missing piece of my life’s puzzle, even in this short period of time, even with as little as I recognize I know, right at this given moment.

Visualize this: it’s like when you read a very good piece of literature and the words start lifting off the page, turn into music, and suddenly, you’re singing a song you felt like you’ve known your entire life….but you don’t know how, because you can’t place ever singing it because it just doesn’t make sense how you would have known it…and then, suddenly, the music turns into the most beautiful piece of artwork that you’ve ever seen–like a sunset–and you’re just so much in awe that you stand there for hours upon hours just staring at it because it takes your breath away. And you just want to grab some glasses, pour a drink or two, and make a toast screaming TO LIFE at the top of your lungs….because you’ve embraced life like you’ve never done before and you truly never, ever, ever want it end. That’s where I am. And, that’s where you’ll find me.

~ Karen Maeby 2.21.18

TO LIFE – TO LIFE – TO LIFE