Thursday, December 31, 2009
I hope the new year brings you health, happiness, and hope. Enjoy today!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I've been enjoying days of quiet stillness. I've been tearing through my pile of books. I've caught up with some housework. I've slept well and wake feeling refreshed and ready to get up. I've spent hours on the couch with the cat on my lap. I've been extremely lazy and even - gasp - bored.
It's been lovely.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sometimes people ask me what my faith in Christ means to me, and why I align myself with a religion that has been the instigator of pain as well as joy, and why I put belief in something so ridiculously intangible and frankly, unbelievable. I would have to say, that my experience with this gentleman can perhaps serve as an illustration better than any theological argument. Simply, my faith means acting out love and relationship the way Christ modelled.
It means coming alongside someone who is hurting, and walking with them as they struggle with life's blows. It means loving them in person and through prayer. It means acting in faith that the nature of the relationship and support that is provided will be enough. It means persevering and trusting God even when I am exhausted and emotionally drained and feel like quitting and wonder why in the hell I ever agreed to this in the first place. It means showing up and prepping and planning and schlepping and attending meetings even when all I really want is to be at home with a good book. It means struggle and victory and using my talents and stretching my weak points. It means serving others without expecting anything in return (although to be acknowledged, is icing on the cake). It means living every day as if the most important thing there is, is love.
Most of all, though, these verses help sum up why I am a Christ-follower, and why I rejoice at Christmas:
We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us. But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do: trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (from The Message, Eugene Peterson's translation).
May you love extravagantly! It is the best gift.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Scholars aren't exactly sure of the date of Jesus Christ's birthday, the first Christmas. "In the early years of the Christian church, the calendar was centered around Easter," George Washington University's Yeide said. "Nobody knows exactly where and when they began to think it suitable to celebrate Christ's birth as well as the Passion cycle"—the Crucifixion and resurrection depicted in the Bible.
Eastern churches traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 6, a date known as Epiphany in the West. The winter date may have originally been chosen on the basis that Christ's conception and Crucifixion would have fallen during the same season—and a spring conception would have resulted in a winter birth. But Christmas soon became co-mingled with traditional observances of the first day of winter. "As the Christmas celebration moved west," Yeide said "the date that had traditionally been used to celebrate the winter solstice became sort of available for conversion to the observance of Christmas. In the Western church the December date became the date for Christmas."
Early church leaders endeavored to attract pagans to Christianity by adding Christian meaning to existing winter solstice festivals. "This gave rise to an interesting play on words," Yeide said. "In several languages, not just in English, people have traditionally compared the rebirth of the sun with the birth of the son of God."
The light comes.
Friday, December 18, 2009
What is your empathy button, you say? So glad you asked. The empathy button is that part of me where I suspend judgment and extend grace. It's that part of me that holds back before I rush to hasty assumptions about people's motives, or what they meant when they said that specific comment that sounded really rude/ignorant/selfish. It's the part of me that doesn't swear at drivers who cut into my lane, and the part that stays calm in the face of a student's frustration, and the part that forgives that snappy clerk at the store. It's also the part of me that sets kind boundaries, that becomes angry at injustice, and the part that speaks up to correct those who need correcting.
Yes, my empathy button needs a little refreshing.
Any early resolutions on your mind?
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Next week this will get transformed into garlic soup.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Shocked? Me too.
I blame it on my CSA box, which has yet again delivered a bounty of beautiful veggies, ready to be chopped, peeled, roasted, boiled, simmered, and sauteed. I have bok choy that I want to make into soup for next week's lunches. I have older veggies that need to be boiled into vegetable broth, then used as the base for other soup. I have winter squash to roast with apples and onions. I have a bag of luscious greens to simmer up with some ham hocks. I have spinich to saute and mix in with pasta.
And I have random vegetables like watermelon radish and tat soi, and some delectable treats, like mandarin oranges. TH, the regular cook in our house, better watch out.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Know what I realized? I'm not really interested in whipping-my-butt-into-shape anymore. I'm happy with my run/walk technique of finishing 5K races. I like going for a brief mile or two, then coming back home. I'm tired of "whipping-my-butt" and pressuring myself to reach some outwardly created goal of running 3.1 miles in one stretch, when I've already reached the most important, inwardly created ones, which are to: participate in fun runs again, feel more balanced, invest in my own health, and be stronger.
Needless to say, this was a fairly obvious, yet elusive realization. Have you been struck lately by anything you want to change?
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I feel very thankful this year, and as has lately seemed to be the case, my thankfulness is tinged with a sense of loss. Not dramatically so, no need to worry about me. But I have lost enough loved ones and borne enough pain over the years that all pain is now shadowed with joy and all joy whispered with pain. I know when I'm grieving that I will feel joy again (indeed, sometimes I find joy in the depths of the sorrow; there is a beauty to the grieving. It's difficult to explain in words, as you can tell by reading this post. The next great American writer, I'm not.). I know when I'm joyful that pain will find me again in the future. I accept this. So it goes.
It seems to me that awareness of this joy/loss juxtaposition is both a good thing and the bad part of being a grown-up. As a child, your sadness and your happiness are pure and unmixed; as you grow older and you come to understand more about the world, you see things differently. Some counseling theories suggest that emotionally healthy people are comfortable with this type of ambiguity, this dark/light juxtaposition.
But anyway. As I consider this Thanksgiving, I find myself reminiscing past Thanksgivings. I am thankful for all the times I've shared with loved ones, and I remember the Thanksgivings spent alone or in potluck with the nurses at TH's work. I miss the old Thanksgivings I remember at my grandparents' house, or at my aunt's house. I will miss the family that is not at my table. But I am so thankful we get to host the family this year.
While thinking about Thanksgiving today, I also realized that this holiday season, I want to live with greater intention ("be the change you wish to see in the world" - as Gandhi once said). I want to say what I think, I want to be present with my feelings, I want to speak up for myself and be more aware of when I need to speak up for others, I want to keep juxtaposing ideas and people and events. I don't want to add to the losses of my life by wishing I had lived differently. I want to fully inhabit this being of my self. There's always more growing to do.
So that's my juxtaposition jumble of Thanksgiving thoughts. I wish you all a lovely holiday and many more blessings than you can count.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
- In another life, I would love to work for the FBI or another law enforcement agency as a behavioral profiler. When I was about 13 years old, my family and I took an extended vacation on the east coast. Officially it was the historical tour; unofficially it was the hysterical tour. Lots of great family stories in that time period...I'll have to blog that one later. But I digress. One of the things we did was visit the FBI and take a tour. I was fascinated by the forensics lab, the idea of behavioral analysis, and the combination of this stuff with law enforcement. Right then and there I decided I wanted to work for the FBI someday. I'm not really sure when that decision fell away, but every now and then I still wish I was a badass profiler and catcher-of-bad-guys.
- In another life, I would like to be a dancer/performer on Broadway. I don't really know that this needs a lot of explanation for those in my family, but in case I have any lurkers, I'll explain this a little. Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I've loved music, movement, and Broadway show tunes. I loved to perform in my ballet recitals, school plays, etc. I still love dance movies, shows, and live theater. I decided in college that I didn't want to spend my life fighting for parts, waiting tables in the meantime, and dealing with the lack of security and constant rejection that seems to come with being a performer. Ah well, I can still be a star in my own mind.
- In another life, I would like to be a translator/interpreter. I love language and learning new languages comes fairly easily to me (although I'm not fluent in anything besides English). I think it would be amazing to know another language inside and out, and assist others in communicating. And, who am I kidding, I would love to eavesdrop in another language. It's still one of my life goals to learn another language.
- In another life, I would like to work in publishing.
- In another life, I would like to work in a small bookstore/cafe.
What would you do, in another life?
It is our nature to seek certitude and resolution, but life is messy and untidy, doesn't always fit neatly into the boxes we build for it. There are days when being staunch offers no clarity, days when certitudes feel like platitudes, and you can no more grab resolution than you can grab smoke.
From our trenches of fixed opinion, we thunder at one another so readily that it is disconcerting when you are forced to wander the gray places between, to acknowledge complexities our certainties don't always allow us to see. It can give you pause.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Here are some quotes.
"The soul is not an idea or belief; it is an experience. It may awaken in us through dreams, music, art, or work or parenthood or sometimes for no reason at all. It overtakes us at times in the midst of daily life."
"Many times when we help we do not really serve. ... Seeing yourself as a fixer may cause you to see brokenness everywhere, to sit in judgment on life itself. When we fix others, we may not see their hidden wholeness or trust the integrity of the life in them. Fixers trust their own expertise. When we serve, we see the unborn wholeness in others; we collaborate with it and strengthen it. Others may then be able to see their wholeness for themselves for the first time."
"The process of turning pain into wisdom often looks like a sorting process. First we experience everything. Then one by one we let things go, the anger, the blame, the sense of injustice, and finally even the pain itself, until all we have left is a deeper sense of the value of life and a greater capacity to live it."
Friday, November 6, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I also am not opposed to watching Simon Baker, who plays "psychic" Patrick Jane on The Mentalist.
Be still my heart
Who's your TV star crush?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Marina Marks, a psychic by trade, suddenly becomes truly aware of her gift, but not after becoming entwined in the lives of several needy people. I enjoyed this book, with its combination of cynically hopeful and fragile characters, its safely spooky elements of dreams and visions, and its conflicted heroine. A mystery, a romance, and a view into the minds of people, it's also a really great read that I couldn't put down. Recommended!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
- I look most like myself....
- I act most like myself...
- I feel most like myself...
- I feel least like myself...
So how would you answer these prompts? Here are my replies.
I look most like myself.... having fun to the point of laughing uncontrollably; or, concentrating on something until I understand it.
I act most like myself... when I listen to others, listen to myself, and access the love in my heart.
I feel most like myself... in motion.
I feel least like myself... when I get lost in busy-ness and forget human-ness, my own and others'.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Pelosi stated, “I’m in my place, I’m speaker of the House... And I’m in my place because the House of Representatives voted me there. That language is something I haven’t even heard in decades.”
Damn straight. A woman's place is in the House. A woman's place is using her leadership role to speak out about concerns. A woman's place is up to her to define. Suck on that, GOP.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I think he had some important things to say about getting involved. As you know, I'm all about the power of community, and he talked about that. He debunked the idea that people get to be successful solely on their own power or their own abilities. It's true, individual effort makes a difference, but so do the factors we don't control: being born into a certain country, a certain family, a certain skin color, a certain gender. Individuals can decide how to impact their world, but there also needs to be some sense of what is best for the group, not just what is best for ME. Communities need to come together, to decide together what is important, what is an investment, and influence their legislators.
He also talked about the power of forming a relationship over time, in communicating with your lawmaker. Protests are all well and good, but it is also the ongoing conversation about issues that has an impact. It is tenacity and contact and communication. It is an ongoing awakening to what is happening in our daily lives, in our communities, and then talking about what can improve and how we can get there.
What have you done for your community lately?
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
(Dusts off hands.)
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
This week has been like water torture. Aside from one major student problem (which in itself has been taxing), I have been dealing with one small issue after another. Phone calls to that student, emails to that worker, more requests for services, running out of workers and having to hire some more, finding out I didn't forward a tutoring request to the right person, showing up at a club meeting to find I had the wrong week...it just goes on and on. Each of these are small hurdles to my work, and problem-solving is a big part of my job. Ordinarily, I don't mind. But taken all together, it is wearing.
I'm holding on for the weekend, and hoping things will get better.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
According to a 2007 Gallup poll, percentages of people who won't vote for specific groups:
(read the data to yourself like so: 53% of respondents said they would refuse to vote for atheists)
53% - Atheists
43% - Gays
42% - People over 72
24% - Mormons
12% - Hispanics
11% - Women
7% - Jews
5% - Blacks
4% - Catholics
Wish I had seen the questions/script for this survey. Are we talking voting for President, or voting for congresspersons? Mayors? School boards? Also wish I knew more about the sample of this survey. What was the sample size? Average age? State of residence? Political affiliations? Surveys can be deceptive. (Always question what you read!)
But still. Interesting look at our prejudices, eh? What does this say about how people make assumptions about others? Where do your biases fit in these categories? My prejudices - I would be less likely to vote for an old (70+) male from the South, for example - because I would assume he is 1) a "good old boy", 2) an ultra-right-leaning Republican, 3) anti-feminist, and 4) racist, to name a few.
I wonder what some other categories would be. What about, percentage of people who wouldn't vote for someone who is not a parent? Or someone who was an addict? Or someone who was once on welfare? Or someone with a disability?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
So now, my questions for you:
- What do you do to focus your mind? Meditation is one powerful way, but I find exercise also focuses me, or prayer, or cooking, or creating music.
- How do you open your heart?
- In what ways would practicing more compassion change your daily life?
- And how can I prescribe meditation sessions to Congress?
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Let's hope for 1) or 2).
Thursday, August 27, 2009
- PUNGENT (adj) - Affecting the organs of taste or smell with a sharp acrid sensation. Alternately, pointed or sharp.
- THWART (v) - to prevent the occurrence, realization, or attainment of.
- CURMUDGEON (n) - an ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions.
The curmudgeon wanted to buy a pungent cheese for lunch, but the grocery store's low inventory thwarted him.
Don't you love words?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
All for me.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Truly, the smallest act of kindness can make the biggest difference.
In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.
-- Mother Teresa
Sunday, August 16, 2009
45 minutes of propelling myself along the glittery river, watching flocks of geese fly over, laughing at one awkward yet effective duck landing, seeing fish jump, and saying hi to other friendly kayakers and river folk? Fantastically rejuvenating afternoon.
Friday, August 14, 2009
The main exhibit I went to see was titled, With Malice Towards None. It is the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition, from the Library of Congress. This display is one of only 5 in the entire nation.
Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. -- Mr. Lincoln.
All this, for $8.50.
Next I walked over to a Sacramento institution, the Fox and Goose pub. This one-of-a-kind restaurant serves amazing pub fare, but also yummy breakfasts, and is the site of a vibrant live music scene. Today's meal: poached eggs, a crumpet (with lots of butter, of course), and a grilled tomato. Delish. All this, for $10.00.
Continuing my travels, I passed the fortune cookie factory, and stepped in for a bag of rejects. Yummies, for $1.25.
My last stop? Beers Books. My fave used/new bookstore, this place has a resident store cat and 10% off book purchases during the lunch hour, M-F. I found several great books in the sidewalk sale bins, and, browsing, also found my next book club read: Pascali's Island by Barry Unsworth. Score!! 5 books, for $8.32.
A great day, supporting local economy, enjoying all the things I love, for less than $30.00. Gotta love it.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
According to the New York Times, "Lawmakers of both parties agree on the need to rein in private insurance companies by banning underwriting practices that have prevented millions of Americans from obtaining affordable insurance. Insurers would, for example, have to accept all applicants and could not charge higher premiums because of a person’s medical history or current illness. All insurers would have to offer a minimum package of benefits, to be defined by the federal government, and nearly all Americans would be required to have insurance."
According to some Americans (who shall remain nameless, but include a former Alaska governor), the reform would mean mandatory euthanasia, the end of Medicare, and depriving people of health care.
Let's just all slow down, take a deep breath, and find the common ground. What do you think about all this? Here are some of my thoughts.
- Our knowledge about health and medicine is quite good, even superior. We know that prevention is less expensive than treatment. We also sometimes know when treatment or intervention is more costly than its results. Why is this information not available to everyone?
- A person has the right to be healthy (whether or not they squander that right, is an issue for another post).
- The government already has its hands in health care for its citizens (Medicare is one example). Therefore, their involvement is a non-issue. Let's talk about the quality of their involvement.
- The rising costs of health care, to individuals and to businesses, is burdensome to many.
- The provision of medical care as a perquisite to employment makes health care a class issue rather than a quality of life issue.
- HMOs are not equipped to continue providing services in the same way (ie., opening emergency rooms to all, including the uninsured; 15 minute appointments for the insured). Health care workers in the current system are overworked. Overworked workers lead to un-well workers. Who will take care of us when our doctors are sick?
- There are other countries in the world whose governments sponsor health care for their people, and these countries are not full of evil commies (or maybe they are, that could be an issue for another post).
- [This space open for other ideas which have not developed but are percolating as I consider different viewpoints.]
This is not an issue that can be solved immediately, but if we can make some changes, we can get on the road to better health. Give it a chance. And stop yelling at each other; you're raising my blood pressure.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I've come to the realization (again) that I do not exercise well in the mornings. I first reached this conclusion in college, when regular morning workouts ended in painful mornings. I'm not really sure why I thought it would be different (better) now, 16 years later. I only knew that there is no way in heck I would be running at noon in 90+ degree heat. But now, experience has taught me that there is no way in heck that I can keep running first thing in the morning.
I have to say that sometimes, I really did enjoy the morning run. At that hour, the air is sweet and fresh, there's no one on the streets to witness my dripping, staggering self, and it gave me a good feeling to start the day so virtuously. However, a lot of days I couldn't complete the workout. I struggled with feeling sick partway through (for various reasons), sometimes actually getting sick partway through (dry heaves are not fun, and I've had more than my share this summer). Getting up at 5:30 to run at 5:45 meant going to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 at night.
I feel strongly that exercise should be something to look forward to, to anticipate and to enjoy. Running in the mornings is something I dread. Working out at the hotel gym in Louisville last month reminded me how much better I perform later in the day. I'm strong! I kick butt! I don't feel sick, ever! And it's a great way to beat that afternoon slump that hits me every day at 3:00. Running at lunchtime is ideal because it breaks up the workday, and running after work is a great way to burn off the day, and give me a good appetite for dinner. But neither of these preferences is possible. So I have to figure out a plan for August and September, until it cools enough for me to return to lunchtime runs.
Whatever that plan turns out to be, I do know that I have benefitted so much from my running and workouts that there's no way I'm giving it all up just because I'm a weenie in the morning.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Just back from a work trip to Louisville, KY. While there, I attended a professional conference, but I also had the chance to see some sights. Louisvillians are a really friendly bunch. They were all eager to see that I had enough to eat, that I knew what to see while in town, that I was going to "come back and see us, now." Truly, I was a friend they hadn't met yet.
Eggs and grits for breakfast. Add a biscuit and coffee and I'm in heaven.
This is a Kentucky Hot Brown. Toast, turkey, tomato, bacon, Mornay sauce, and mushrooms. AKA heart attack on a plate.
I spent some time wandering in the beautiful Cherokee and Seneca parks. I dabbled my feet in the creek and listened to the bugs and birds. I enjoyed all the green. I imagined this must be what it looked like in Daniel Boone's time.
Cherokee Park. Beautiful. GREEN.
One night I went to a true neighborhood dive - no a/c, just big fans going; beverages were listed on the greasy menus as "coke products." I ordered the fried chicken and I swear they went out back to kill it, it took so long to get to me. And, they served me up half that bird. It was pretty amazing. "Baby, when you want chicken, we give you CHICKEN," cracked the sassy waitress before going outside for a smoke.
I found a fantastic little cafe with the most amazing fresh baked bread, sweet iced tea, and soup.
Not to mention the peanut butter and ganache "sin bar."
I enjoyed a personalized tour of amazing architecture in Old Louisville. I also survived the summer storms.
I didn't get to drink any bourbon, but according to all my new Kentucky friends, I'll be coming back for another visit.