Hey friends! And happy Monday!
So last week, I posted about the Enneagram Test, and WOW, you all sure did have a lot to say about it! I had absolutely no idea it would be so divisive and polarizing!
I’d say it was about 50/50 pro/con for the personality test. So thank you all for sharing your perspectives on it.
I’ve got to say, that was one of the most fascinating comments sections I’ve read in a while. And there was a definite theme that resonated throughout the responses.
And reading them, a particular quote came to mind that I’ve always loved. It’s by George Bernard Shaw, perhaps you know it: “Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you see the world.” It’s kind of the secular version of the Philippians 4:8 Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
If there’s been one shift in thought that has made the most impact on my life, it is precisely that.
And although this is particularly pertinent to recovery, it is something that makes a huge difference in every day life too.
Something that I’ve really started doing diligently in the last several years, is guarding my mind and guarding my heart.
They say “garbage in, garbage out” — and that’s incredibly accurate. We are a product of what we consume, and hello — we are living in a time when we’ve got information and influences and opinions and frankly, crap, being hurled at us constantly, all day every day. For better or for worse.
And what we take in — it colors our perception on reality. It filters how we think, the way we speak, what we believe.
We wonder why we can feel depressed, or anxious, or overwhelmed…it’s like…why don’t we stop for a minute and consider our intake.
Are we listening to depressing and emotionally-manipulative news on TV? Are we spending all day long scrolling Instagram, and comparing our lives to those of celebrities or other unattainably perfect models? Are we watching crap on TV that belittles our beliefs, or — probably more accurately — completely disregards them?
We are literally a product of that which we absorb around us.
And when we really stop and take an inventory of what those influences are — let’s just say, it can be a sobering exercise. At least it was for me.
Our soul is the most precious part of who we are. We are a temple of the Holy Spirit. And when we approach life, grounded in that monumental truth, it kind of puts things into perspective, and makes you really think twice about what we allow into our temple.
So, I thought I could offer a couple positive influences that have really been helpful to me, as I’ve tried to keep a “clean and bright window” for my life.
Fr. Mike Schmitz – He has two podcasts: UMD Newman Catholic Campus Ministry broadcasts the homilies from the week. And The Fr. Mike Schmitz Podcast through Ascension Presents, offers short clips on various life-applicible topics.
Do Something Beautiful with Leah Darrow — And fun fact, I was interviewed on an episode, which I’ll link here. But Leah has an incredible podcast that will leave you feeling good!
The Happy Hour with Jaimie Ivy — another feel good podcast!
The Case for Christ — this is an oldie but a goodie, but I actually found myself recommending this to someone just yesterday. Because it is POWERFUL. And will really reaffirm your faith! (It’s also a movie!)
Captivating (for women) or Wild at Heart (for men) — this husband/wife duo created these companion books that truly rocked my world and I believe is MUST READ material for literally every person who is breathing. I have never read anything that spells out my worth in Christ, and the sacred beauty of femininity quite like this.
And Bloom — written by Yours Truly, because, hello, I couldn’t not put it on this list. But I truly believe that the interactive, introspective aspect to it really makes it a transformative read.
Keep a prayer journal. There’s something really beautiful about the physical act of writing down your prayers, so that you can look back and re-read the spiritual journey you’ve taken. Plus, it really helps keep you focused, and accountable.
Christian Music — there’s nothing more positive and uplifting than a powerful, moving song, with a positive message. When I’m not listening to a podcast, I’ve got this music going. Pandora and Spotify offer great playlists that are Christian music only, and offer great variety!
Having phone or Skype dates with people who lift you up, or even a spiritual advisor! There’s nothing more beautiful than connection with people who know and love you, and who you know and love in return. They keep you grounded, remind you who you are, and plus — it’s good for the soul!
Having religious images around the house. Now look, I’m not saying you need to turn your house into the freaking Vatican gift shop with kitschy nicknacks, but a tastefully placed cross, or a magnet of Jesus’ beautiful face on the fridge — it goes a long way. Take it from someone who lives in a studio apartment in NYC. 🙂
So there you have it — those are just a few of the ways I’ve tried to “keep bright” the influences I allow in my temple.
Hopefully they help you too!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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63 responses to “Clean and Bright”
I am soooo blessed that my youngest attends UMD and gets to go to Masses with Fr. Mike every day! Peace.
Oh my gosh HOW LUCKY ARE THEY!!!??? That is literally amazing! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox
I always look forward to seeing a notification that you posted a new entry. Always a good read. Keep it up. Very inspiring, cheering you on from the other side of the states, haha.
Aww you’re kind to say that!! Thanks so much for the cheers! 🙂 have a great night Hugs and love xox
You have a good night as well!! I do need to start watching your YouTube vlog. I’ve just been guilty of reading your work for the past 3 years. You’re welcome ✌
Awww you’re amazing!!
Thanks 🙂 you are too!!!
Girllll! I NEEDED this! I’ve been letting a lot of musical garbage in, and you’re right, it colors the way we see the world and what comes out of us in speaking, etc. Trying to find lit Jesus music, I found Josh Garrels (very folky) and Jaisua (a remixer who does more dancey EDM stuff). God is good 🙂 Thank you for your post!
Oh good! I’m so glad this resonated with you!! Ooh I’ll have to look those artists up! Thanks for the recco! Hugs and love xox
I thought about chiming in on the enneagram post but i took the quiz and thought it was waaaaayyyy off. These things can be fun but i think you raise a good point that these quizzes arent how we measure thd value of our lives. Clean and Bright is a good way of putting it. Fr Schmitz said in a video: “what are you eating?”–are you consuming crap? Its not a coincidence that every sunday we literally eat God, who is perfection. Another way of saying it came from a colleague: if you keep putting in what youve been putting in, you’ll keep getting out what youve been getting out.
All this to say: enneagram or not, lets look at who we are and who we want to be and what we’re consuming to fuel us from A to B.
Thanks for these thoughts tonight!
Thanks for sharing your thought! Oh my gosh leave it to Fr. Mike to really put it in a *digestible* sound bite! Haha get it?! Haha jk but for real. Love that guy. Hugs and love xox
Powerful words Caralyn! I love that you guard your heart. It’s so important to do this (for me) in every moment of each day as you never know from where the next arrow will come from. Hugs and be well! ❤️😎
thank you so much John! Yes! We’ve got to guard it, because those arrows are always flying! glad you stopped by! big hugs xo
Your posts resonate with me even though I am not a Christian. I vibe with you because I am in lifelong recovery from anorexia and also because you just make so many great points. So true about the garbage out there. If we let the news overwhelm us with its constant negativity and cynicism, life can seem so dark and hopeless. We must step away! ❤️
I’m still mulling over my enneagram results. Thanks so much for posting that test… such a revelation for me. 🙂
Hi Paula! Oh i’m so glad they resonate with you!!! You’re so right — we must step away and embrace the light!! Cheering for you in your recovery! 🙂 It’s always nice to know that there are friends out there who know what it’s truly like, and can encourage on the journey 🙂 sending big big hugs xo
I like the Shaw quote! Like Philippians better!! I’m surprised there was so much divisiveness re. your last post. Having dealt with these when I taught management courses, I’ve found them to be a useful, objective “observer” of oneself. It’s a proven technique. I can’t imagine anyone getting upset. Unless they took the test and didn’t’ like what it told them!
I’ll have to look up the two podcasts. I’ve started getting into those lately. Wild at Heart was a revelation for me and the first time I ever heard someone express a plausible theory on why God made everything. He was after doing something epic! Anyway, beats “I dunno…”
Yeah…Bloom is pretty good too! 😊
Hi Jeff!! Yes! I like the Philippians one better too. I had a beautiful mosaic mirror growing up that had that verse — written in Scrabble letters!! — on it! Oh gosh – John and Stacy Eldridge have given such a gift to the Christian community through those books. Yes! Hope you enjoy they podcasts! they’re really uplifting! hahah thanks Jeff 🙂 Hope your week is off to a great start! hugs xox
Clean and bright! Amen. I’m feeling more positive already. Blessings from a fellow sister in Christ!
Oh good!! I’m so glad 🙂 There’s something powerful about positivity! thanks for stopping by! hugs xox
The world has become increasingly toxic, faith is one of, if not thee best mechanisms to fight it. While i agree we are a product of what we consume, increasingly we are becoming products of our environment. So many people out there dont have faith, youre blessed to have it.
You’re so right – it’s the best mechanisms to counteract the chaos! thanks for sharing your thoughts and for stopping by! hugs xox
Amen, your words remind me of a book that really helped me through depression through simply rewiring my mind. Being mindful of what I’m watching, listening too (including inner voices), and overall speaking over myself. The book is called Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Myer. God bless ❤
Hi friend! ooh, i’m excited about looking up Battlefield of the Mind! Sounds super intriguing! thanks for passing it along! hugs xox
I am glad to read a follow-up here. That was definitely quite a comment section! You are so wise to guard your heart. My youth pastor used the “garbage in, garbage out” phrase, too, and it’s always stayed with me. You present a lot of great ways to keep yourself centered on your walk with Christ. Blessings to you!
Thanks so much! Yes! it was fascinating to read everyone’s thoughts! the garbage phrase is a really powerful one – not only because of the stark visual, but becuase it’s so true! thanks for stoppin gby! hugs xo
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Thanks Tonya for the link up! hugs xo
As always, love you, beautiful friend. Positivity is great and helps us think straight in a polluted world. Truth of the Bible is far more important and invaluable to purity and wisdom/discernment. And prayer always helps us keep our thoughts in check. Hugs!XO😄❤
Hi Tonya!! You’re so right — positivity is a great defense in this chaos! And how blessed are we to literally have the GOOD News right at our fingertips! And I agree — prayer is a biggie! so important! thanks so much for stopping by! hope your week’s off to a great start! love you friend!! hugs xox
Thank you, you too! May God enhance your peace and joy today!😄❤
Thank you Lisa!!! I’m so glad!!!! 🙂 hope your week is off to a great start!! big hugs to you xox
I have read The Case for Christ and Wild at Heart. Great books. I saw the Case for Christ movie as well. It was different – not what I expected, but not horrible either. 🙂
And you’re right – we have to be on guard against what we put into our minds. Even then, for me who struggled with depression for most of my life, it can be hard to put one step forward despite all the positive assurances that God loves you and that your friends and family love you. I can believe with my whole heart and mind that Jesus loves and died for my sins, and still have days where I don’t want to get out of bed and go to work.
Aren’t they such terrific books!? And the movie too! so powerful! thanks for sharing your thoughts and your story. Hang in there. I’ve found that reading the actual Bible has helped with those feelings that I have definitely DEFINITELY dealt with before too. There’s something about His sacred word that moves in your heart, just simply by being with it. hugs xo
You are such a bright spot on my internet. I love it that you are learning all of this at an early age and living it too. I have been interested and have been learning for the past 10 years many of the Christian walk items you are discussing lately. I wish I had you as a real-time friend. We could talk for hours and never get bored.
oh my gosh, what a kind thing to say!!! thank you so much 🙂 Oh my gosh I agree — well I’m grateful for our virtual friendship!! 🙂 The beautiful thing about the Christian walk is that a) we’re always learning, and b) we’re on it together! 🙂 I appreciate you stopping by! big hugs xo
Shaw has a good idea, but keeping our “windows” clean is only 1/2 the story. A clean and bright window isn’t worth much when the scenery is well.. “crap”. Lets be honest, there is quite a lot of crap out there. From world disasters to climate change to the Democratic party.
However, One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. You often find hidden gems in all the filth. That’s where the quote from Philippians comes in. I guess that why my social media feed is full of my gorgeous friends and cute cat videos. I choose to focus on these things.
To the “realists” out there, Just focusing and thinking on the positives sometimes is seen to be like living in denial, like an ostrich hiding its head in the ground when it senses danger.
I prefer to think of it as choosing to have an attitude of gratitude. Grateful for the tiny blessings I have accumulated along the way. I look outside my window and see a dark world, growing ever more so darker. But I am safe because I have a light shining inside. Hopefully my torch will shine through my window and draw in others, lighting their torches.
We are the light of the world after all.
Wow what a powerful extension of the analogy! thanks for saying that. it really makes me think. Amen – shine that torch! hugs xo
Amen! This is so precious and powerful! Such a great reminder. Lately the Holy Spirit is asking me to focus on what is most important… my communion with the Lord… everything else should be following these principles. Still being led and filled with the Holy Spirit. Amen 🙏🏿 Philippians 4:8 Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. God bless you sister in Christ ❤️🙏🏿
Hi Dydy! Oh thank you so much for stoppin gby and sharing your thoughts on this! Amen – communion with the Lord is #1, and it’s awesome that you’re focusing on that!!!!! cheering for you! hugs xo
Beautiful message, Caralyn. Since I started following you, that is one thing I’ve always been impressed by from you. Not only do you speak your mind, but speak it kindly. Not only do you answer all the comments (which blows my mind), but you do so with light and love no matter the feedback. I love people who share light! Thank you for being one of them ❤️.
And p.s., my favorite radio station is Christian Rock 🎶!
Thank you so much Jenny!! Oh my gosh what a kind thing to say, I am truly humbled and touched 🙂 Oooh I love Christian Rock too!! Especially when I go for a jog — it really is motivating both physically and spiriatually!! 🙂 hope your week’s off to a great start! big hugs xo
thanks for all those suggestions; I like your comment that we are what we absorb around us; how true.
Thanks so much Jim! Yes! We are a product of what we absorb! Hugs and love xox
Great post 🙂 Everything you wrote here is so inspirational. I especially loved how you quoted George Bernard Shaw as well. Speaking of religious items, what do you think of this beautiful Angel with Baby Jesus Statue? 🙂 Here is a link to it below and keep up the great work as always 🙂
Hey John! Oh gosh thank you so much! I love images of Baby Jesus! And what a beautiful statue with the angel. Thanks for sharing that!! Hugs and love xox
Great message again! ❤️
Aw thank you so much! Hugs and love xox
I am trying to balance my life these days since my wild college party years. I do watch my share of reality television and Youtube videos featuring the requisite kittens wrestling grizzly bears, so I try to balance things by listening to classical, jazz, and going online to look at French Impressionist paintings. In addition, I have been reading some classic novels again. As Mark Twain once said (I love that house in Hartford) “you can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” As a paid freelance writer, amateur songwriter and poet, I have to work hard to get over that dreaded writer’s block. As Rush once sang “if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.” We have so many positive as well as negative choices these days. It’s easiest to fall into what I call a “a loop of negativity” if one let’s their mind wander too much.
Hi John! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Yes! There’s something really centering and powerful about music. And yes! Hooray for the classics! Amen to that. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox
Keep shining! How do VIPs suggest a topic?
Hey Benjamin! Thanks so much 🙂 You can email me! email@example.com ! Would love to get your topic! thanks! hugs xox
Sweet! Will do now.
It’s good to hear… 🙂
Time for romance; and also more of the good influences
Thank you Caralyn. So true! Appreciate your writing which I found both inspiring and convicting. Thanks for the encouragement ~ wishing you well. Take care.
Thank you so much Suz! I’m so glad it resonated with you!!! Hope you have a beautiful evening! hugs xo
I am so glad God’s voice is always louder than the critics and negative voices. This is such a great article. Especially as we close 2019, we can start great habits to take into 2020 and the new decade. I love the Skype date idea. That is a great idea. Seeing someone makes all the difference. Thank you for this blog. Happy Thanksgiving!
I agree Ada! Seeing someone makes all the distance! Thanks so much for stopping by! And happy thanksgiving!! Hugs and love xox