Drive. Align. Shift. Spirit Driving Institute Blog by Leila Johnson

17Apr/14Off

I Am Blessed, Not Obsessed, with Victory

I had a fabulous time last night! Sometime last month I was invited to speak at the last service of the Lenten season for the Grant Chapel African American Episcopal Church in Albuquerque. It was my spiritual coming out party of sorts since this was the first time I spoke under my newly acquired title, Rev. Leila Johnson, M. Div.

So, onto the title of the post. My topic was Victory. I created a custom presentation for the event called "I Am Blessed, Not Obsessed, with Victory". It was all about realizing that victory is a state of mind that we should all embrace in order to lead successful lives. Also, victory involves helping others by using your gifts. I gave examples from my life, quoted some bible passages, and left the congregation with some takeaways that they can apply to their life.

The response was phenomenal. I really felt divinely inspired. Plus, it was a great honor to sit in the pulpit in the pastor's chair. I was thrilled because my husband, daughter, mom, mother-in-law, and father-in-law were there and it was the first time that they had heard me speak on a topic like that.

I felt so at peace and humbled afterward. My Spirit was definitely driving the entire day today. It's a feeling that I can't quite explain, but want to replicate at every opportunity. I look forward to being able to speak again very soon. In fact, I added the retitled version of this presentation to my Speaking page: "I Am Blessed, Not Obsessed, with Success". Contact me if you're interested in having me speak at your event.

27Jan/14Off

I Did It – Received My Masters of Divinity!

What a fabulous way for me to start 2014. I turned in my Master's thesis in November and heard back this month that I passed with flying colors! I now hold my Master of Divinity and am an ordained reverend through Wisdom of the Heart Church.

This accomplishment holds a very special place in my heart because I have been working on it off and on for 3 years and wrote my thesis about my daughter. It is titled, "Sharing Spiritual and Religious Beliefs with Your Preschool Child" and includes a nice library of research showing how parents of different religions and spiritual backgrounds share their beliefs. I weaved in my family story and the ways that my husband and I help our daughter to explore her world.

What a wonderful journey it's been. I have learned so much about myself and my place in the Universe. If anyone is interested in taking a similar journey, I highly recommend attending the University of Metaphysical Sciences.

I feel re-energized now and have relaunched my Spirit Driving Institute Website. You'll see some new Drive. Align. Shift. services for couples. I look forward to working with you and your partner to support you in your health & wellness, career, and spiritual journeys.

26Mar/12Off

Have You “Gotten Lost”?

I was watching Joel Osteen's Sunday service this week with my family like we do on most Sunday mornings. The message title was "#533, Go After the Prodigals" and focused on bringing back those who have "gotten lost" and are no longer going to church. I'm usually tuned into his messages of prosperity and abundance, but this one rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe because I felt like he was talking to me and I disagreed!

You see, I used to be an avid churchgoer. I went through a good part of my teenage years proselytizing and witnessing to others about the word of God. I'll spare you the details, but somewhere along the line I decided to take a different, more spiritual path not connected to a particular religion. I think of myself as a freelancer when it comes to religion, taking philosophies and approaches from different beliefs in order to shape my world.

5Nov/10Off

A Dedication

To my grandmother,
who inspired me spiritually;

This is part of the dedication from my book, Driving to Success: Let Your Spirit Take the Wheel. Today would have been my grandmother's 100th birthday. She was a big part of my life since she lived with us from a little bit after I was born until I was 16.

Also, she had a strong influence on me spiritually. Here's a short passage from my book to give you a window into her Personality:

...I grew up attending African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church services. My grandmother was devout and a regular church-goer. She also taught me a lot about the Bible and how to lead my life in a spiritual way. Even though she was was dedicated to the AME church, I can remember her opening the door for Jehovah's Witnesses and purchasing their kid's books for me. They were colorful, fun, and quite accessible for a young child. Her simple act taught me to be open and accepting of all spiritual beliefs.

It would have been wonderful to have her live to see this day when her "little baby" published a book. I know that she continues to watch over me.

I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge my grandmother. It's also a great time to give yourself a chance to reflect on those who have had a positive influence on your life.

Love & Light,

Leila Johnson

8Sep/10Off

What’s Wrong with Burning the Koran?

NOTE: This isn't a "polished" blog post because I wrote it late at night after seeing this story. Please pardon the ramblings, but I think you'll get my point. :)

If you haven't heard yet, check out this Nightline story about a small Christian church congregation in Florida whose pastor plans to have an International Burn a Koran Day on 9/11. I was moved to tears after seeing this.

I tend to remain neutral in my discussions about religion because I don't want to alienate anyone. This story really made me want to say something. I've been lucky, I guess you could say, to have been a part of mainstream religion most of my life. By mainstream, I, of course, mean Christian.  I haven't faced the public persecution that others have, largely because I have kept my beliefs private. There were times in my life when I wasn't so mainstream. I participated in Wiccan practices. It wasn't something that I shared with too many people because their first response was, "You're a witch?!". This tends to conjure up Halloween-ish images of cauldrons and wands. Now, my beliefs are a combination of several things with Christian, Eastern, and pagan influences, although I wouldn't classify myself as a part of any particular religion.

I can remember having a conversation with someone about the whole "Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas" thing. You know, when it's November or December and you go to the mall and an associate says "Happy Holidays" because they don't want to offend anyone that might not celebrate Christmas. Or, you get someone saying "Merry Christmas" because they assume everyone celebrates it. The person I was speaking with had the nerve to say that they were tired of hearing "Happy Holidays" and complained that it's time for Christians to have more rights.

Are you serious? If any religion has had all of the "rights", it has been Christianity. That tends to be the default religion and some Christians assume that everyone else has the same beliefs. This brings me back to the Burn a Koran day. It is pretty ballsy for a pastor to arrange something like this when I'm sure he would take issue if people from another religion started burning the Bible. He feels that he has the right to do this because he is part of the "right" religion (as in 'correct', not 'right wing'). After hearing this story, I found myself saying, "What the heck is wrong with some Christians?"

This reminds me of 9/11 when many people were fearful of anyone with Islamic heritage. There are so many times that we judge an entire race, religion, or other type of group based on the behavior of a minority from that group. I understand that 9/11 was a scary experience even for those that didn't know anyone who perished during the tragedy. However, it doesn't make sense to hate an entire group of people because of it. As an African-American, I have dealt with this on a much smaller scale. Yes, it's 2010, but I'm still cautious about the way I behave in stores for fear of someone thinking I'm trying to steal something. And again, we go back to the pastor in Florida. How many Christians would want others to think that they believe the same thing this pastor believes?

My husband and I love Persian food. I remember the week after 9/11, we noticed that a few of our favorite Persian restaurants in Denver had significantly fewer patrons than prior to that day. We decided to show a small gesture of support by dining out at some of those restaurants. I don't remember being scared or thinking that anything bad would happen. We're not heroes, by any means, but it was important for us to do that.

So, the title of this blog post, "What's wrong with burning the Koran?" is a philosophical one. I don't think anyone has the right to destroy someone else's holy book. As an author, I think about people that have burned others' non-holy books because they didn't believe what they said. I do think that we need to look deeper and discover what would drive us to participate in something like this. What are we afraid of? What are we trying to stop from happening? Or, what are we hoping to accomplish?

Although it sounds corny and is overused, I keep going back to Rodney King's statement of "...can we all get along?".

Your thoughts?