Monday, September 03, 2012

Let Me Roll It

My new book club friends and I have begun exchanging emails every day. We either share our "G's" in the morning (what we are grateful for) or our "V's" at night (our victories for the day). It has been amazing how such a seemingly simple thing has changed my outlook and helped me to see the positive in even the worst of days.

This is my quote for the week. I've written it on my inspiration white board to remember...

"Mind is like dough, which means you can mold it into any shape. 
You can roll it into suffering, or roll it into ultimate happiness."

- How to Be Happy by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Nice to Be Alive

One of the VPs at my company - who is the coolest guy ever and someone I consider a friend - shared this video on Facebook. So uplifting and true.

That is all.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thoughts in Motion

On the bus home from a night over with my family. It's so weird to read my old blog posts and compare what my life/family/world was like then and how it is now.

I used to live here, in this house on Staten Island, amidst what I affectionately refer to as the "chaos." I would take the express bus into Manhattan for work, summer internships, or just to hang out with my friends. Manhattan was the island of dreams! To think that one day I would be living a stone's throw from my beloved Union Square, my beloved Strand Bookstore. It is unreal. If I had known it then, I would have been shocked and excited.

So many things have changed from when I started this blog in 2005. I can remember sitting in the front room of my family home, excitedly writing up and publishing my blog posts. Seven years ago, and so much has changed. I'm married now. Father is gone, another man in his place. Kid Sisters #1 and 2 are starting junior high school.

There's that famous question, "What would you tell a younger you? What advice would you give, based on your perspective in hindsight?" I don't even know what I would tell my younger self about the future. She couldn't possibly imagine what it would turn out like and would have a hard time believing me if I told her. The good, the bad and the ugly. Could I tell her, "Hang in there, things get better?" Yes, and it would be true. Could I also tell her, "You are going to go through so much more pain that you went through before?" Yes, and she wouldn't find it possible, but it will happen. "You will gain perspective and understanding of what it all means eventually." Sort of. Yes. Sure.

Who knows? Maybe the me in 10 years has a better answer to that one!

Monday, August 13, 2012


Every time I read old posts in this blog, I feel the following (in no particular order):
  • Nostalgia - So good to have all of these moments kept neatly together years after I've forgotten them.
  • Pride - I used to be a good writer once!  I was interesting and funny. I read it and it's like I didn't even write it.
  • Discouragement - Will I ever be this clever again?  It doesn't feel like it.
Does youth equal wit?  I hope I haven't lost it. I read over these posts and they actually make me laugh. I can't imagine writing like that now.

But I'd like to try!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Letting Go, Part 2

We had a great book club discussion.  Different people enjoyed different aspects of the book and ideology.  The concepts of nonattachment and "letting go" made the largest impression.  I spoke about how we are so used to trying to control outcomes.  It's part of the American Dream - you are responsible for your own future. You succeed or fail by your own hand.  By the same token, if you suffer, it means that you should have prevented it by taking a different course of action.  This has caused me a lot of stress personally, trying to analyze all of the things I could have done differently after a tragedy.  We want so much to think that we control everything, but we don't, and the concept of detaching and acknowledging what happens in life without fighting it can help with that (theoretically).  In the book, Lama Surya Das mentions a sign he once saw that said, "Let Go, or Be Dragged."  That image stuck with me.

If you could detach in a healthy way, who/what would you detach from?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Letting Go, Part 1

Happy Sunday, friends.  I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but you know how it goes :)

Last month my book club finished Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss and Spiritual Transformation by Lama Surya Das.  We met a couple of weeks ago to discuss the book.  It was a small turnout - only four of us total - but we had a great discussion about the book and an overall great time.

This was my first experience reading Lama Surya Das and I just loved it.  The Dalai Lama calls him "The Western Lama," and I found that be one of his greatest strengths as a writer - to be able to make Eastern thought clear and relevant for a Western audience. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

The philosophy of nonattachment is based in the understanding that holding on too tightly to those things, which in any case are always going to be slipping through our fingers, hurts and gives us rope burn. This is the secret of letting go. 
Inner detachment, remember, is not synonymous with indifference. We do still care about others ... but we are far less invested in desirable outcomes.... We can flow better and roll more gracefully with the rollicking punches and weaving bumpy roadways of life.
Many of us have been conditioned to believe that another person is going to "save me." Be honest now, don't we all want to believe the following myth? "All I have to do is find the Prince (or Princess) Charming of my dreams, who will complete and satisfy me in every way, then my life will be perfect." Recognizing the emptiness of this illusion and living in solitude opens up space for the inner face of divinity to emerge within one's own heart-mind. Then one begins to find God and the beloved everywhere in everything, always. Life becomes your lover.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My book club hasn't met yet to discuss the book we've read but just reading it has kickstarted me into a Buddhist phase.  Aside from that book, I've purchased How to Be Happy by Lama Zopa Rinpoche and The Art of Meditation by Matthieu Ricard.  I visited the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery, where I took a tour and a meditation class for beginners.  I also bought a mala for practicing meditation - it's only a wrist mala for starting.  I used to have one when I took Hindu meditation classes years ago, and it was the long standard 108-bead mala.  I don't know where it ended up when we moved, but I miss it.

So what's my angle?  I was raised born again Christian, departed from the faith in my early adult life, and remain interested in spirituality but from a safe distance.

I have always been drawn to images of the Buddha because he looks so peaceful.  I tried reading the Buddhist texts years ago but was put off by the idea of detachment.  Buddha taught that we suffer because we are attached to things - people, possessions, etc. - and if we detached from them, we would find peace.  I can understand a healthy detachment from your possessions, but from your family or friends?  That always threw me off and prevented me from taking Buddhism seriously.

Even now, when I meditate, I am not "praying."  Buddhists don't really have a deity they pray to.  The meditation class teacher explained to us that the different bodhisattvas (Tara, etc.) represent different aspects of the mind.  Seems like a religion an intellectual humanist can get into.  

I like the stress management aspect of Buddhism and meditation.  I am so amped up on stress every day of the week.  This is partly my personality and partly my living in one of the most stressful cities in the world :)  Either way, it needs to stop.  These books and practices have been helping me to slow down and calm down.  Breathe a little.  Pay more attention.  I'm not very good at it yet but it takes practice.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Be Present

I have so much to catch you up on. In the last month, I went from no interest in spirituality to joining a book club, practicing meditation and visiting a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. How did I get here?

My troubles have always led me to faith in the past. This is not surprising. I've had a lot of troubles in the past year, so I began reading books on self-improvement and meditation.

One day, I got an email about a new book club in my neighborhood focusing specifically on books about personal improvement and spirituality. Those were exactly the types of books I was reading at the time, so I joined.

We had our inaugural meeting a month ago and I joined the most interesting group of ragtag misfits - a Tarot reader and consultant, an Orthodox Christian high school English teacher, an elderly retired philosophy teacher, a young Christian woman close to my age, and a young man highly interested in "energy" as it is depicted in The Celestine Prophecy. We each brought a book near and dear to our hearts to share who we are with the group. My book? The life-changing A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, of course.

At the end of the meeting, the Schoolteacher, who organized the group in the first place, chose our first book: Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be by Lama Surya Das. I read and really enjoyed it. More on that later.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Yesterday I visited Namaste Bookshop. But maybe I should back up here. Why would I, someone who has not seriously considered religion in 3 years, willingly visit a store filled with Buddha statues, healing crystals, and books on meditation and yoga instruction?

Over the past year, I've been reading a lot of self-help books. I know self-help books get a bad rap, like the people who read them are miserable, pathetic souls who can't handle their own problems. I disagree with that. Self-help books are amazingly helpful, written by doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists with years of experience and research under their belts. I am also a big fan of therapy for everyone, not just "crazy people." (We are all crazy.) But that's neither here nor there.

I also began rereading the manga series by Osamu Tezuka on the life of the Buddha. I first read it in 2008 and loved it. As I was rereading it, some of the precepts of Buddhism called out to me and made sense.

Serendipitously, at this time I received an email about a new book club beginning that would focus on self-help type books that are spiritual in nature. Naturally, I joined. I'm currently reading our first book by Lama Surya Das and really enjoying it. More about that later.

So all of these things came together to spark my interest in going to Namaste bookshop. I had never been there before but always vaguely considered it to be a new offshoot of East West Books, which used to live around the corner from Namaste and sadly closed down.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Comeback

It’s funny how life changes. People change. Everything changes.

Seven years ago I started this blog to wrestle with the questions about faith and spirituality that had plagued me for a long time, and were especially potent at that particular time.

I kept on with it for years, even as I drifted away from its original purpose. I lost interest in spirituality. I got tired of it. I stopped reading books about it, attending religious services, talking to friends about it. I moved on to other things - love, travel, career, intellectual pursuits. At a certain point, the blog’s name didn’t even make sense anymore. I started out on a sojourn (journey, adventure, trip, voyage), but was I even on one anymore? If so... towards what?

Then it died off. Why? For a number of reasons. I had shared it with friends, so there was only so much intimately personal info I could put here. I had not shared it with other friends, so very few people knew it was still here or being updated. I ran out of interesting things to ponder under a pseudonym that was not so pseudo.

But life is funny and I’ve learned that it comes in stages and phases and can wrap around like a boomerang. Just as I’ve been vegetarian, then meat-eating, then vegetarian, then vegan, then somewhere in between again, I keep coming back to places in my life where I have been before.

All of a sudden, I’m reading spiritual books. I’m talking to spiritual people. I thinking about this stuff. A lot.

With that, I bring back Sojourner’s Truths for its original purpose. Some of you will have no interest in this, and that’s okay. Some of you will. There may be people out there who never read before who are interested now. By reviving the old, I am making this new and freeing myself up to share even more.

Welcome. Or welcome back. I hope you’ll stay a while.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Where does the time go?

Can't sleep. Suffering from Day 4 of the mega-cold from hell and have a lot on my mind.

So many intense things going on in my life right now that I feel I can't share on the blog. Sometimes I wonder if I should scrap this one and start anew, truly anonymous, without telling any of my friends. Though I doubt many of my friends still read here - I mean, I post once every other month!

Do you ever get nostalgic? Like big time? I do it a lot - I mean, I think more than most people. I live in the past or the future, generally... never the present.

Tonight I'm thinking about 2005 me, sitting in the front room of my parents' house, typing away at this blog. Six years younger - wow! Both parents still alive, my biggest concerns were getting a boyfriend and getting an A in my college courses.

Time flies.