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Commentary | March 24, 2009

Taking care of your spirit

By Airman 1st Class Sylvia Olson 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Imagine a pie chart divided into different life priorities. For most, there is a slice dedicated to family and friends, one for work and another for clothing, food and other life essentials. Some may have a slice devoted to hobbies and passions they follow after. 

My chart consists of all these areas. The biggest slice on my chart, however, is one that a lot of people I've met don't seem to include. For me, it's a top priority that affects everything in my life; it's my faith and spirituality. 

I had to break down the word spirituality step by step to truly understand what it meant. I took the dictionary definition, and applied my personal experiences to create my own meaning.

Spirituality is defined as the quality or state of being spiritual, as pertaining to, or consisting of spirit. Spirit is defined as the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between the body and soul. 

To me, spirituality is the foundation of my life. My spirit is what gives personality, spunk, spice and gusto to my body. Without my spirit I'm just a mindless drone, following orders and seeing the world on a grayscale. 

Spirituality then, is how I nurture my spirit. As vibrant as it is, my spirit is fragile and easily waylaid by different situations and any troubles that arise. I nurture my spirit by attending church and reading the Bible daily. Prayer has also become a big part of my life and a source of solace and comfort. 

I was raised in a Christian household but sometime during my teenage years, I cast my faith aside. In my angst-ridden and moody teenage mind I believed the Christian faith had been forced on me and I resented it. 

Yet even though I resented the Christian faith, deep down inside I knew I believed in God.
Becoming an active- duty member in the Air Force put me through a lot of new and different challenges. Just recently a lot of good and bad things have happened in my personal life as well. I was overwhelmed and wondering what to do. 

All these issues helped me turn to my faith for support. Just when I least expected it, spirituality made its way back into my life. I learned that everything happens for a reason and that there are no coincidences in life. 

For me, it's vital to incorporate spirituality into all I do. When I take care of my spirit, it enriches my body and mind and the all the other slices on the chart. Without it, I feel emptiness in my core. 

As an Airman, regardless of what faith you choose to follow or not to follow, it's important to include some form of spirituality into your career and personal life. Spirituality can help you through any challenges, whether it's an upcoming deployment, new orders, a break up, or a death in the family. 

Just as it took me several steps to learn the definition of spirituality, it will take time and effort to learn what spirituality means to you. These days, I take everything with a grain of salt and a little prayer. When you take care of your spirit, everything else follows.