Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday night, I introduced you to my Love Dare challenge and asked you to join me on my journey. However, before we go any further, I need to explain myself: The reason I asked you to join me on my adventure is actually a totally unselfish one. Originally, the Love Dare project was a diary; a text intended to be written and read by my eyes only. Yet, as I began to write, I found myself overcome with the sense that I needed to share my experience. However, I second-guessed my feeling and continued writing my journal. (I mean…really, who cares what I have to say?) Yet a pestering, ever-present nagging feeling persisted the more I wrote. Still, I ignored it. Twenty minutes went by. Suddenly, I found myself overcome with a nasty case of writer’s block – and for a journal entry, that’s pretty sad. I was sitting at my desk, staring at my cursor, furrowing my brow, chewing on the rear end of a pencil when something remarkable happened.  

Out of the blue, I got a message from a friend; a deeply personal note about how even though I didn’t know it, I inspire people. I was touched. I replied back and we had a lovely conversation. And still, the idea that I needed to share my whatever-this-is was still there. And so was my writer’s block. Begrudgingly, I looked up at the sky, somewhat irritated, and said, “Okay, I get it.” From this, the Love Dare was born. My writer’s block lifted and the words flowed. It was almost too easy. When the blog entry was complete, I trepidatiously shared it. And then, something else remarkable happened.

Moments after I posted my entry, my inbox was flooded with warm sentiment, kindness and stories from other people who were (or who had been) traveling a path quite similar to my own. I heard from several individuals experiencing their own struggles; cementing my belief that listening to that still small voice in my head (or at least one of them) is still oh-so-important. I was reminded, ever so subtly, that we are all connected, even if it is in the most remote and virtual of mediums. I was also reminded that I need to listen to my still small voice more often…because it makes for an incredibly annoying bedfellow when I don’t.

But First…
I need to say THANK YOU. Thank you for your kind words, your love, your understanding, your prayers, your friendship and your courage to share things with me. Thank you for your trust. I am proud to have it, even though I have done nothing to deserve it. Yet, anyway. So now that we have that out of the way…

Day 1: The Love Dare…And Why I Need Staples
My lesson for my first day (Monday) was avoiding the temptation to use harsh words when loving ones will do. I was about 99.9 percent sure I would need to staple my mouth shut and superglue my fingers together – ye who have been on the receiving end of one of my virtual tongue lashings should appreciate that joke.

The Lesson: Go an Entire Day Without Saying Anything Negative to Your Love Dare Recipient
Without staples, without superglue, I did it. I completed the challenge.

Believe it or not, the lesson I learned in church on Sunday was my saving grace. The lesson I learned in church this week was three fold:
1.   As often as you think of someone, pray for them.
2.   Love imperfect people, perfectly.
3.   Pray for the right things at the right time, in the right way.

But it seems like every time I try to do something right…something goes wrong….
Every time I get inspired to do better, be better, or think more positively, some asshole comes along and throws a dinosaur sized monkey wrench in my plans. Monday was no exception.

I Had to Remember, All Anger Stems from Pain
I was cast aside. My feelings and opinions sloughed off. I was put down, sized-up and told I wasn’t genuinely making changes. I was faking; I was being brainwashed. Instantly, I found myself with a wellspring of anger.

“How dare they treat me like this when I was trying to do better; while I am working so hard to extend an olive branch! How dare they! Even after a year of steady improvement, how dare they question me now when I need faith the most!”

I. Was. Seething.
I was on the verge of an explosion that would have made the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption look like a grade school science project. Then, suddenly, I got it.

Help Me Love Imperfect People, Perfectly
Instead of getting into a screaming match with my recipient and essentially not even completing the first task in my book, I said a quick prayer:

“If it is your will, please let their heart be opened by what I am trying to do. Please help me maintain the patience I need to see this through. Please help me love imperfect people, perfectly.”

And I was still. My anger ebbed. The floodwaters receded. I was at peace. All the same, I repeated that prayer several times that day. I needed to. And yes, it’s thanks to my time in church, but it’s also because of everyone who took the time to respond to my initial post. For you, I am grateful.

Wait. What?
I’m getting to that. You readers are so pushy. I am grateful to close out day one thankful I succeeded, but also knowing that I didn’t succeed on my own. Sure, the Universe, God, something up there helped me (I’m still working through this, please be patient with me), but you helped me too. Yes, you. The person reading this. The person who sent me lovely messages, good vibes, positive wishes and tender responses to my love dare launch. You. So, for you, for me, for whatever it is up there that is helping me, for patience and for a day of clarity, I am grateful.

Overall, I’d say that Day One, Lesson One was a smashing success.

Now, to return the staples and the super glue. I’m so glad I kept that receipt….
Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 7:50 PM No comments READ FULL POST

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I will preface this post by saying that the reason I haven’t been blogging much lately is because I have been on a deeply spiritual, very personal journey. And so far, it’s been a journey I’m not entirely ready to share all of the details about just yet. However, as opposed to my normal sarcastic, sardonic style (don’t’ worry, we will get back to that), I am undertaking a 40-day challenge that I hope will help me become a better person and maybe even help me make some huge (overdue) changes in my life. As I document it, I hope that it will help others out there become inspired to do the same -- Which is, in essence, why I am doing it. This might shock you, but I do have a heart, and the truth is, it’s a big one. 

A Little Backstory
Over the last few weeks, I have been attending church. This is a huge step for me (since I have been an Atheist for a long, long time), and is something I haven’t done in over 15 years. What prompted my sudden supernatural wakeup call? A series of unfortunate events three weeks ago led me to say the first prayer I have said in as many years. And the result shocked even me. 

Strangely enough (or I guess you could say through an act of kismet or serendipity), when I said my prayer, it was answered within five minutes of my uttering it. I was in a bad place that night. It was 3 o’clock in the morning and I was on a dark highway. I was begging, pleading and in tears, asking, no, begging for help. You see, someone in my life was lost and hurt; and I was desperate to find them. Once I said the prayer, the call came a few minutes later; they had been found. I rushed to the destination. And even though the initial result left me with a bad taste in my mouth (based on how my prodigal lostling treated me) I began thinking about how everything played out. I could only conclude that the Universe (or God) works in mysterious ways, and that maybe it was time for me to open myself up to something new. 

So, I did. I reached out to a friend of mine and asked if I could go to church with her. 

Back a Little More
Yet it wasn’t just this solitary event that prompted my change. For the past four years, I have been living my own personal version of hell. I have been unhappy. I have been angry. My anger was directed at the world, at everyone, at myself, at life in general, for plethora of reasons that don’t matter to anyone but me; just know that I have been consumed with a deep kind of rage that made me both bitter and cynical. It turned me into a dark, clouded version of who I am at my core. I was tired of it. I was tired of being angry all the time, and I was finally ready to admit that to myself. 

The initial impact of church, for me, was an emotional one. I found myself in tears, or on the verge of tears, for most of the service. The message that day was all about forgiveness and mercy. I needed to hear it. My soul craved it. Finally, for the first time in a long time, my heart opened up a little that day, and I began to forgive…everyone, even me. 

Skipping Ahead
Of course, I still slip and fall. I am, after all, just like you; a work in progress. All the same, I find myself trying a little bit harder every day to be a little bit better me than the me I was yesterday -- even though you might not see it. That’s the beautiful thing about working on myself from the inside out, I get to see the benefits of that transformation inside my own personal cocoon first. And hopefully, you’ll be able to see it soon too. 

Moving Forward
That brings me back to my original point: this 40-day challenge bit. I have been reading a book, “The Love Dare” and while I will not disclose who I am practicing these newfound tactics of love, patience and kindness on, I will say that it is with someone who my relationship has been horribly strained for a very long time. My goal, however, is not to fix this relationship, as much as it is to impart a lesson in my own heart. The cards, for this, will fall where they may. But perhaps the reason things have been stagnant for so long is because I’m not making the right moves to push things forward. More is possible through love, I think, than is possible through anger. 

So, I lend myself to something bigger than me and trust that I am doing the right thing, for now. After these 40-days are through, the answer will be clear, and the forward motion inevitable. Each day, over the next 40-days, I will be blogging about the challenge I have accepted for that day, and what I struggled with when working on that challenge. 

Funny thing is, since I began attending church again, I feel as though the message I get each week is tailor-made for me. The message is something I not only need to hear (even if I know it anyway), but something I need to work on applying a little better in my own life. Even more than that, amazingly enough, something I can track back to all of my relationships, and even, this Love Dare project. All I can say is that, like everything else, I am taking it one day at a time. I will do my best. There will be times I will fall, moments I will struggle and I might take a few steps backward. That’s okay. The joy is in the journey. So, I hope you choose to take this journey with me, starting tomorrow. 

With love to you all,
Posted by Shauna Zamarripa On 8:08 PM No comments READ FULL POST
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    Shauna made her mark in blogging starting in 2008 and has been on the front page of major publications such as Yahoo!, Realtor.com, MSN Money, CNN Money and more. Her finance and real estate expertise are world renowned and free to the average user. Shauna also runs a marketing consulting company and is the team lead for one of the largest teams in San Antonio, TX - Rockstar Agents and RE/MAX North. 


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