Wednesday, May 30, 2007

a heart for service

this week has gotten busy again. i've got too many projects on the go and feel like my brain is just getting pulled in too many directions. i need to sit and make some lists to calm my thoughts down and i just don't have the time or energy. maybe tomorrow. i got another chance to talk with my dad and he feels better than he has in ages. i think his appendix has been bothering him for longer than he realized.

today i head to the foodbank to help them organize all of the donations for their garage sale friday and saturday. liam and i took all the overpriced leftovers from our church garage sale over on monday and i think that should give them a good base for theirs along with the stuff from their basement. D (what i'm calling the director there) said that they've never had such a good handle on their stuff before - knowing where it all is and having quick access to it. it will be even better when we can get that stuff cleared out and i can re-shelve that space so it will be more workable for them throughout the year.

god is doing something amazing here. liam's position has been integral in allowing him to get the pulse of our community, in the town and the county as a whole. he has been leading our areas non-profits in gathering together to network and begin to get their ducks in a row for the provincial liason who is coming in june to meet with them. she is hosting listening meetings all over the province to hear what the area non profits need and will take those talking points back to the provincial government and seek to begin to meet the real felt needs of the communities. the liason is an incredible woman who has been working for the poor for decades.

what has happened here in our county is that because of these breakfast meetings the non-profits have begun to dialog and interconnect in a way they haven't before and when they meet in a couple of weeks they will be able to all ask for "one list" of workable plans instead of 40 different lists all looking out for their own work - and this list is brilliant. little on the list costs anything - it's mostly about permission. clearing red tape, opening access to things the government is doing already. it is so intuitive and inspired i just know god is in it.

D told us while we were there monday how encouraged she was to see everyone working together and how important it was to have someone new to help gel them and overcome the personality pitfalls that have plagued many of them for years. i am so proud of liam and the work he is doing. these people have no advocate, they all work so hard to care for the forgotten. it is incredible to see how this is all coming together and how excited people are in working together. coming into this with a heart for service instead of looking for power has really been a living witness and the kingdom is breaking through in places that we could never imagine. it's very exciting.

Monday, May 28, 2007

phone calls in the night

liam woke me up and told me my aunt called to let me know that my father was rushed into surgery yesterday for appendicitis and that he was recovering okay.

i wish he had woke me with the phone instead of the information, but i guess he was a bit in shock too.

my dad is healthy. yes, he's got RA and is a type 1 diabetic, but other than that he's fit - 70 years old and plays (wipes the floor) basketball with the highschoolers he helps coach. i can't say this was expected. but then it never is, is it?

i found my lungs frozen. i couldn't get a full breath. it took me a bit to process the thoughts. wisconsin is so very far away. i lay there in bed for about 30 minutes wishing i was by his side, what if something horrible happened? what if? what if? and then i realized that i have said everything. yes, it would be horrible, but there is nothing unspoken. we have a wonderful relationship now. there was nothing i could do last night to make it any better than it already was.

it gave me great peace and i was able to return to sleep.

i'd ask if you might pray for his recovery today. i'd love it if this didn't stop his hook shot or float fishing. he brings a smile to everyone he meets (and a lot of fish) and is so very special. we are planning on meeting at my sisters in july and i would really treasure having time with him again. please also pray for my sister, i know she's going to have a tough time with this one. thank you.

UPDATE: just spoke with my sister, my dad & my aunt (thank god for flat rate phone bills!) and everyone seems to be doing well, especially my father. somehow he was convinced his appendix was on the opposite side it was - so he was convinced it wasn't appendicitis... so thankful my aunt (who he lives with) insisted he go to the hospital. i guess it was just in time - he had 104 temp before they took him into surgery. he lived with us for 5 years before we moved here - so i know how very stubborn he can be about getting help. my aunt deserves a medal for this one! :) thanks for your prayers!

the daily examen - ignatian prayer

frequent reader and world traveler judi (no blog) has asked in a comment about what the examen is. i am not the expert here, but will attempt to do a bit of research and use my own take on this ancient practice.

here is a short history i was able to glean from the web:
St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491 in northern Spain. He was the youngest of 13 children. As a young man, he served as a Page of the Treasurer of the castle, and loved wine, women and song! He was reported to be addicted to gambling and was described as contentious.

At the age of 30, Ignatius was wounded in battle defending Spain against France. During his long recuperation, he read about the life of Christ. He was drawn to Him and the profound effect Christ had on His followers. At the same time he was drawn to a noble lady he loved, and to fame and glory. As he reflected, he found that his daydreams of the woman resulted in feelings of restlessness while his reflections on Christ brought peace. This marked the beginning of his conversion. It also marked the beginning of his profound teaching on developing spiritual discernment through the examination of emotions, feelings and thoughts. Ignatius taught that the work of the spirit is revealed not just through the intellect. God is found in everything including our emotions and feelings.
i think my first introduction to the examen, or ignatian prayer, came about a decade ago through mike & mark yaconelli's "practicing the presence of god" critical concern course at the national youth workers convention. it sounded like a wonderful idea that i wasn't nearly "spiritual" enough to practice regularly. it always seemed like a special discipline reserved for really special people who had lots of time in their days to be spiritual (nuns and old people i guess??) i knew i never thought that i could really carve a place in my life where this could happen daily. (such an optimist...)

my next contact with the examen was angie york-crane and her blog "living at both ends - an exploration of best and worst" i don't know who linked to her years ago or how i found her words but i was drawn to them and quite soon found a kindred soul whose depth i have come to love dearly. reading her words has helped me understand the grit and grist that the examen can and should be. that busy moms and everyman can benefit from this daily practice. it left the monastery and entered the every day for me. i still didn't think i was disciplined enough for it, but i knew that it wasn't just for the chosen few anymore.

i think it was my spiritual director (who i only get to see once a year) beth from youth specialties who recommended "sleeping with bread" - it only took me three years to actually pick up the book. but i know it was timed perfectly to when i was actually ready to use this special tool to help me see the sacred in the everyday, to find god's love for me and the desires of my heart in the things i am already doing instead of the big dreams i have yet to dream and do.

commenter becca posted this yesterday:
Judi... examen, as my housemates and I practice it, is a time of reflecting on one's happenings in the last day, and pondering about what the "leastest" and "mostest" moments have been. There are no right or wrong ways of expressing this... It is excellent for creating openness about one's journey... and for recognising patterns that one may not be so conscious of... and then actively working towards betterment... and praying with and for each other...

We practice a variation of "examen". We use fairly broad, sweeping terms of our "leastest" and "mostest" for the day...
saddest - happiest
most confusing - most clarifying
"on the wrong path" - "journeying towards wholeness"
most frustrating - least frustrating
least friendship-building moment - most companion-edifying time
least sure of God - most aware of God
most afraid - most secure
most outraged - most amused...

the list is obviously expandable... find a word that describes a feeling, and then think about the antonym... actually, they don't even have to be antonyms... it is perfectly ok to have "most challenging" with "most hilarious"!
As a side note, we frequently find that certain happenings are *both* of our "mostest and leastest" for the day, which is mysterious and intriguing... for example, a while back I discovered some old photos of my lil' brother when he was a sweet-natured, happy-go-lucky kid... which is evidently a mostest... but this was juxtaposed with my knowledge of how utterly sad and hopeless he has been feeling in recent times... and thus my obvious leastest.
do share with us what you explore about examen if you do so...
thank you becca! i appreciate your addition to both judi's & my journey!

here is a link that explains another way to do the examen:

  1. Ask God to help you identify the moment today for which you are most grateful. Recall that moment in as much detail as possible. What made it so special? "For what moment today am I most grateful?"
  2. Ask God to help you identify the moment today for which you are least grateful. Recall that moment. What made it so difficult? "For what moment today am I least grateful?
  3. Follow this with "When did I feel most alive today? When did I most feel life draining out of me today?"
  4. Try to keep the Daily Examen as consistently as possible. At regular intervals look back over your journal entries.
  • What do you notice? Any patterns? Themes?
  • What might these writings be telling you about how God is speaking to you?
  • What do these writings suggest about your identity? Your purpose? Your direction?

here are some more links you can follow for more information:

An Examen - Review or Daily Review by the Canadian Jesuits
Ignatian Prayer
St. Ignatius - Spiritual Exercises

Thursday, May 24, 2007

$3.00 a day

amazing article in the washington post about a congressman who rose to the challenge to live on the $3.00 a day food stamp recipients are forced to subsist on:

Washington Post - Pangs of Hunger - and a Bit of Guilt

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

stephanie is making lace

my dear friend stephanie is making lace over at just etchings - i encourage you to go read her wonderful story:
Loose Threads - Exquisite Lace

Monday, May 21, 2007

consolation and desolation

i am finding great depth in these two words this past week. i have tried to "do the examen" for years - "do" as "oh this sounds like a great idea" or "anj gets so much out of it, i want that much out of it too"... blah, blah, blah. i don't know if the timing wasn't right, of it was because i didn't have these words.

i have said that as a family we have done "highs and lows" at supper for years now. it is a great way to get your kids talking about their day, but it lacks the spiritual impact of the true examen. and anj does "best and worst" - and so i tried that too - but neither of those word sets really helped me to fully understand the examen like these words do. consolation and desolation are so graphic, such emotionally loaded, picture words that i immediately can feel them and identify the times in my day when i am brought to those places.

desolation speaks of a desert to me, dry, barren, lifeless. consolation is the warm, strong, safe embrace or a cuddle on the lap.

what i am realizing is that i spend so much of my life trying to console myself. trying to fill those desolate places i find i comfort myself with "consolation prizes" - instead of real, true, consoling consolation. this tool is giving me so much to think about and consider.

Friday, May 18, 2007

counting to 12

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Pablo Neruda - Source: translated by Alistair Reid in Extravagaria

via - inward/outward

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


found these while looking for some big-book quotes - and i thought they were too funny not to share:


sleeping with bread

i'm only on page 20 and i could quote 10 paragraphs here. you have GOT TO get this book! it is linking together so many areas of my life and my journey and giving me the tool that will change everything. i know that sounds like a wild claim - but i truly believe it.

if i never teach my children anything else this will be the one thing i want them to grasp. on page 19 they quote st. ignatius' the spiritual exercises where he writes:
It is wisely said, "Experience is the best teacher." ... The primary and most obvious reason for this is that revelation is not over, God is constantly revealing himself to us in our experience... Of course, the Bible is divine revelation -- no one denies that. But so is life! It is precisely because God is present to life and available to human experience that we have a divinely inspired story to tell, and that the story once told is revelation."
(emphasis mine)

the part i want to highlight here is where it all connected for me - my story, my recovery, my personality and my strengths and weaknesses. sheila fabricant linn writes on pages 14 & 15 a bit of her story - she is telling about a meaningful father-type relationship she had with a professor that meant everything to her and evaporated one day. she tried quite a few times to reconnect with him and he wasn't receptive. by working the examen and telling her experience of this pain to others she realizes the following:

Because my mother was mentally ill and unable to connect with her children, I learned as a small child to feel ashamed of my needs and desires, especially needs for connectedness with other human beings. It was this voice of shame that told me I should give up on trying to heal my relationship with Alex. When I considered giving into this voice, I felt desolation. When I got in touch with the consolation I felt each time I told the story of Alex, it showed me how to find healing: by asking to be heard.

The pattern I have described in myself, of feeling ashamed of my needs and desires, is an aspect of co-dependency. I behave like a co-dependent whenever I orient myself around the reality of others rather than living in my own reality and honoring my needs. Many people working in the field of addictions are saying that co-dependency and the core emotion of shame underlie all other addictions.

I need the examen to help me in my recovery. I her book, Co-Dependence, Anne Wilson Schaef says that for a recovering co-dependent "even the smallest lie can plunge us back into our disease." In other words, distorting the truth of who I am in any way (to please others, to meet my expectations of who I should be or what I should feel) is like an alcoholic taking that first drink. I need the examen each day because it helps me get better at telling the truth about who I am and what I need."
insert hallelujah chorus here.

here is the definition of consolation and desolation they give from st. ignatius:
"He expected that God would speak through our deepest feelings and yearnings, what he called "consolation" and "desolation." For us, consolation is whatever helps us connect with ourselves, others, God and the universe. Desolation is whatever disconnects us. Ignatius recommended returning to our deepest moments of consolation and desolation." - pg. 19
it's all starting to make sense! yippee!

have to get to the food bank as i'm helping out there again today! hope you're all well!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Of Pigs, Cows and Whales

Being a large woman I have always had an affinity for any animal that is used derivatively to describe an overweight person. There were probably only a few times in my past where those words were ever said to my face by others, but I found that they wove their way into the tapes in my head and came out my own mouth when looking at my body or my reflection in the mirror.

“Such a fat pig,” “Big cow,” or “get your whale of a body up and moving” - things like that regularly run through my mind and my self-talk and bring me much shame and my self-loathing to the surface. I now know that when I am using these terms that my self-care or program are faltering. Instead of being just darts and arrows I have thrown at myself for years, I’m beginning to use them as “red flags” to identify destructive behavior and try to turn such negative behavior into something I can use to signal me into better health. It is my deep wish that one day these words will be erased from my tapes and vocabulary, but until then I am trying to turn these weapons into tools. Swords into plowshares as it were.

I can remember hearing my best friend abused by my next door neighbor in the halls of our school. He’d grab her breast if no teachers were around and say “How now brown cow?” to let her know that her quickly developing body was a playground for his overactive, perverted imagination. Cows were aplenty in our small Wisconsin town. I rarely could see them without being reminded of that abuse. And if her body and development could bring so much shame and abuse, then my own wasn’t far behind. Instead of growing into our bodies with pride and joy they became scary and foreign to us. We were both much more physically mature than most of the other girls in the playground. 12 going on 17. The boys in our class wanted nothing to do with us, but we sure turned the heads of older boys and every dirty old man in we came in contact with. How now brown cow? Not very well thank you.

Porker, piggy and fat hog were regular retorts I heard thrown regularly at others who battled with their weight. Looking back at old photographs I see now that I was never fat as child or even a teen - I was big and womanly, but never as fat as I had pictured myself to be. I loathed my body and punished it with exercise as often as I was able. The cruelty of those words was my motivation not to have them lobbed at me. But somehow they frequently came out of my own mouth, and played all of the time in my own head.

In 1978 we began to understand that our 7th grade world was far bigger than our small town in Wisconsin. We heard about brutal seal hunts and saving the whales. We found that we could do very little about our own situations, but maybe, just maybe we could make a difference “out there”. Our little passionate hearts knew that something had to be done and so we would hold monthly bake-sales and send all of the money to Greenpeace to save the whales. How far away from the Midwest they seemed, those big, beautiful oceans, filled with big, beautiful wildlife. Whales were the only animal that I was able to not mind being called. Even though the whales were huge they were still so graceful and beautiful. I loved them with everything in me. Never did I imagine that one day I would live just minutes from one of the largest birthing areas of some of the largest whales in all of creation. Standing at the lighthouse last summer and watching a pod of Minkes surface filled my heart with joy and my eyes with tears.

I remember hearing bits and pieces about the movie Whale Rider. When it came to video in 2003 I was almost afraid to rent it because I knew it would change me forever. Paikea’s story of overcoming the restrictions of her culture and fulfilling her call was very close to home for me. Tying that into my love for whales made it almost unseeable because I knew that the emotions I would be facing and the story I would be confronting would teach me much about myself and touch deep places where I rarely wanted to go. It was an incredible experience to see her rise out of the waves and know that her grandfather was watching her. I am brought to tears even now as reminisce about the depth of emotion that rose out of me. It has changed me forever.Pigs, cows and whales have always told me their stories. Living across the street from a dairy farm in my high school years allowed me to stand at the fence and commune with those Guernsey cows. When life was confusing and loneliness was at it’s peek I would speak to them, feed them and look deeply into their beautifully lashed big brown eyes. I told them many secrets I had been carrying for years. They always listened and never judged me.

I can remember one Christmas living in southwestern Ontario we took neighbors up on their regular invitation to our children to visit and see the neighbors baby piggies. Little did we know the level to which these farmers practiced their craft. Room upon room of growing pigs, level upon level of heat and stench that was almost unbearable. It would have been comical if we all weren’t so shocked by the intensity of the conditions. I remember though that what I hated most was that the one mother sow rolled over onto one of her little piglets. When I heard the scream it let out I wanted to jump the fence and free it. Instead ran to find the farmer to tell him that one of his herd was going to die. He shrugged and said nonchalantly “oh, we loose lots that way” and went on with his work. I was appalled, and unable to shake the sound of that screeching piglet for weeks.

I tried to process it with my husband who never understood the emotional connection I had with those animals and he proceeded to tell me about other pig stories that would only add to my pain and difficulty. He spoke of a farmer who he had known who had to remove a piglet from it’s family because of sickness and when re-introduced back into the herd it was attacked by the mother and left to die. I found that these stories resonated so deeply with my own pain that I was unable to exercise them from my mind.

So it was with these floating in my distant memory that I came upon this prose today and found myself reduced to tears and remembering the level of connection I feel for these animals. I have been slowly reading Anne Lamott’s new book, Grace (Eventually) and began the third chapter, Bodies in the quiet of this morning. I treated myself after our Lenten spending fast and purchased it full price from the bookstore across the river. I know her books move me like little else and so I have been portioning it out like a rich box of candy, piece by little piece. Savoring every word. It took me by surprise and I know it is well timed for my “centering” theme this year.

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow,
and the sow began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
Galway Kinnell, “Saint Francis and the Sow”

Where does this self-blessing come from? I truly don’t know. But I long for the ability to self-bless and nurture this bud into a flower.

Monday, May 14, 2007

5 minute update power post

  • mother's day was grand - the best ever as my kids truly within themselves and motivated by love each shopped for a gift for me, with their own money (not that gifts matter, but this was just so generous and sweet) and made cards, and prayed for me before our lovely crepe breakfast my honey made for us.
  • we stood for peace at the international bridge yesterday for five minutes of silence to remember the true meaning of mother's day. it was beautiful.
  • we then took a walk over to the states and liam took me out for lunch as the kids had musical practice all afternoon and we had a lovely meal in a newer, really good restaurant (in short supply here) - so we will have a place here to take visitors and hang out at with friends. great atmosphere and good pub food. they even gave me a beautiful pink rose when the meal was over.
  • i have had so much fun volunteering at our local food bank. i am cleaning out and organizing their basement - it uses a lot of my experience and skills and i think it is really encouraging my new friend who runs the place. i'm also getting to meet some really wonderful co-volunteers and breathing some life and energy into areas that needed it. i was also able to share some of the generous gift money my former boss had given me and got some much needed cordless phones and a headset (as the phone never stops ringing there) for her.
  • the documentary that i have blogged about here sometime ago is completed and from what i hear quite moving. i am so excited to hear if they are being accepted into any of the film festivals around north america - hoping they make it into the toronto film festival as i think i could swing a trip there and stay with friends and actually see myself (on the big screen - yikes) . it is very strange to know that "my story" is being seen by 100's of people that i don't know and may never know - and to not have a clue what it looks like is really freaky... it was filmed in HD - so i'm sure being larger than life is really not as fun as i once imagined! :)
  • the weight i lost most likely had to do with the sickness and not me "working my program" like i had thought as i have gained it back and haven't changed anything... sigh. this has taken it's toll on me emotionally and given a swift kick to my self confidence. i don't think it would have bothered me to go into the summer as i was, but now to have had a weight loss and then gain back i am regularly disappointed when i see my reflection instead of just the acceptance i had come to before the loss... trying to find the way through this and understand what it was that brought it all back, but i'm not sure where to begin...
  • i have way too much to do, life has filled up - not to a crazy point, but enough that i am not getting as much down time as i normally have. that is probably a good thing.
  • liam is almost done with the drywall in my NEW OFFICE - i am very excited to get painting in there soon!
  • on that note i best go and get things done for the day. hope this finds you all well!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Stay-at-home Moms Are Priceless

happy mother's day!

Stay-at-home Moms Are Priceless: "Reuters has this report yesterday - Stay-at-home mother’s work worth $138,095 a year. Given today’s current salary levels, mommies are earning even more than top-level corporate honchos. Now would you look at that. A six-figure salary!

According to moms are the real pros, working at least 10 jobs that include:

housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist."

Outright Mental Defective: Saving Our Souls

Outright Mental Defective: Saving Our Souls: "Friday, May 11, 2007"
"I came to A.A. to save my ass and
I found out that my soul was attached to it."

Friday, May 11, 2007

parental bootcamp

i am hating this stage of parenting my daughter. she just turned 11 last month and we have begun to navigate hormones, mood swings and puberty and i am not doing so well. more than anything i want to raise a strong, capable, kind daughter - i don't want to crush her or bend her to my will - but dang, this is really tough to navigate.

as we did the examen last night as a family i shared that my worst was having 20 years of experience talking with young girls and helping them through this stage of their lives and being unable to do so with the one that i love the most in the world. i know it's time for her to have other adults in her life. i know that is why i had success with so many other tweens and teens was because i wasn't their mother. i was just a lady in their church who taught their sunday school class or was married to their youth pastor, or just plain cared. i know i'm not supposed to be everything to her - but i would give quite a bit to be able to not be the brunt of all of her frustration, the one she can't seem to stand and the one who she scratches at when she just can't figure out what she's feeling.

and i don't know if it is true for other mothers of daughters, but she is a window into my own soul and a flashback into my own growing up years. i know she is not me and i more than anything want her to be her own person, but dang, she is so me in so many ways - far too many ways that i hate in myself. i keep thinking "oh, if you're going to pick a way to be like me, please don't pick that!"

i realized when my kids were in their "terrible 2's" (which for me started at about 30 months and went until they were about 3 1/2) that this was more about me and liam than it was about them. this was boot camp for parenting. we were learning how to parent our children.

i looked at liam the other day and went "duh! THIS is bootcamp for the teen years". that's why this is so hard. we are now learning how to parent teenagers. and i'm sure at about 16 there will be a "boot camp for parenting young adults" too (hopefully i can remember that one is coming instead of being stuck dead center in the middle of it feeling like i'm drowning)...

i am learning how to parent my daughter as a teenager - it's supposed to be hard. it's supposed to take effort and intention. i can almost hear my own mother say "hey, if you're going to take anything from me, don't take shutting down, don't take pushing away, don't take withdrawl and feeling like your own failures are insurmountable here" - because, dang it all, i am so much like her too.

she smoked to make me go away. when things were hard and we were all nails and teeth with each other she would light up a cigarette and it would push me away. i hated them and she knew it. it was her way of controlling the situation. i never understood it then - but i do now. and yesterday i realized that i am using the computer as my cigarettes. i turn my head and loose myself in the screen and say to her "you can't ignore me, i choose to ignore you" - god help me. this is something i want to give back to my mom and not carry with me into my mothering of pink.

on sunday my counselor spoke at church about his father who had just passed away. it was a beautiful eulogy as he unpacked the wonderful things his father has handed down to him. he also was wise in speaking of the things that he didn't want to carry forward into his own life, the places where he saw weaknesses. he used this verse to explain that once we identify what those things are we are then able to choose to live a different way:

"In those days people will no longer say,
'The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge.'

Jeremiah 31:29

i know this is an opportunity to choose life and a new way. i don't know what that is yet, but i know what it isn't. it isn't easy. it isn't comfortable. it isn't natural. maybe i do know one thing that it is. it is worth it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

where did spring go?

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sleeping with bread

i just received 'sleeping with bread, holding what gives you life' by the linns in the mail today.

i ordered it when i decided to add the examen to my daily disciplines. it's a lovely little book full of child-like illustrations and exercises that individuals, families or groups can use to explore this rich tool.

i knew i needed something instructive as the tapes in my head keep playing over the time i am taking each day to reflect.

the title concept is based on a metaphor child care workers used to help orphans after WWII. the book explains it this way:

During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, "Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow."
what a beautiful, life-giving image - i need that as i walk into this discipline - a constant reminder that this is remembering what gives me life.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

in sickness and in health

i awoke early this morning - too early. the kind of early you lay in bed and think "please god, let me fall back to sleep, i'll never be able to face the day if i don't get more sleep" early. no more sleep for me. my mind started whirring. that is always the beginning of the end of sleep for me. i can sometimes read myself back to sleep, but i didn't even bother. instead i laid in bed and worried.

i tucked my son in last night fevered and ill. he was like fire, cheeks red and little body hot to the touch. i awoke this morning remembering that some in our community have been exposed to scarlet fever. that has such a depression era sound to it for my ears. i think one of my aunts had that when she was a little girl. scarlet fever. what if it is scarlet fever? what does that look like? what does that mean? my mind whirred into quite a spiral. it hasn't done that in a while.

other than that nasty bout of stomach virus we had we've all been incredibly healthy. lucky? blessed? sheltered? i don't know - but i know i drew the long straw here in regard to having healthy kids. i have watched so many parents deal with their own children being sick, enduring surgeries and even sometimes the death of a child.

this morning i spun myself into quite a swirl of 'i knew it, it couldn't last' - somewhere deep within my heart i feel like i'm waiting for the other shoe to drop - like i'm just putting in time before the big, ugly diagnosis hits and something tragic happens to one of my kids. it's sick, wrong and very unhealthy, but i'm hoping that writing about it will bring some perspective and peace.

it's 24 hours later - buck has a head cold. fever gone, no scarlet fever. he even chose to go to church and play practice yesterday. all of that worry and energy spent for nothing. hope posted a great nugget of truth yesterday on her blog:

I was reminded to use my energy to work on real problems, not the imaginary ones in my head. That was the nugget of truth I took with me as I left the meeting.
liam told me something he heard the other day - "worry is the misuse of imagination" - and i have far too little energy and way too much i want to be creative with to waste it on worry, right?

if i'm honest i'd have to admit that i also am waiting for a diagnosis for myself too. my friend anj and i have been dialogging about her new diagnosis or RUPUS (a rheumatoid arthritis form of LUPUS) and how that has brought a lot of emotion with it because it was what my mother had (minus the RA). i am 41. my mother died at 43. no one in my family makes it past 40 without a diagnosis of some sort. no one. RA, type 2 diabetes, cancer, etc - i come from a long line of very unhealthy people. if i am completely honest i would have to say that getting a diagnosis would at least feel like i'm past that part - like i know what's headed my way. it sounds so stupid, but i'm being honest. it's like knowing the name of the train thats going to hit you. what does it matter? is there even a train? i have never imagined that there wouldn't be. i have always, every day of my life imagined that i would not live a healthy adult life. yuck.

back in college i took the MMPI and the president of the college, who was teaching the class we took the test for said "if i didn't know you lived with a very sick mother i'd be worried." i guess i scored off the charts on "hypochondria" - it used to be a lot worse than it is now - but i think it is still a deep seated (seeded?) fear that i don't think i've acknowledged "out loud".

i know my father didn't think he'd live past 35 when his own father died (he was killed in a quarry accident) - so maybe this is "normal" (whatever that means) - or maybe i need to really talk about this and think about it and bring it into the light. my mom has been gone for 19 years. i was 21 when she died. my conscious memory with her is shorter than my conscious memory without her. in much of my active memory of her she was very sick.

being sick was a great way to get attention in my house growing up. it was also a good excuse to get out of work. i used sickness to cope for a lot of years. finally one day after i began to achieve some better tools and stronger mental health i realized a lot of the damage that was doing. "it wasn't working for me" anymore. so now i find i can hardly trust myself. am i sick? do i really feel horrible? or am i just trying to avoid something? i'm not a very good judge anymore.

but one thing i do know is that the energy i am burning up worrying about sickness, either in my loved ones or myself is a definite misuse of my wonderful imagination. energy i'd much rather pour into creativity, writing, art and life.

thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

garage sailing

yes, sailing, as out of here - away from my way too many projects on the go - it's been a great week, very disorganized and my flat is in chaos - and i am going to leave it all behind in great amounts of denial and sail outta here.

the sun is shining and i am going to write here again, i promise - but it's just necessary to escape and be free from the confines today.

hope this saturday finds you all well!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

making amends to ourselves

i awoke at 4:44 this morning knowing that was probably all the sleep i was going to get last night. liam was snoring and my mind was whirring away already. it's that time of the month for little sleep, but also a fertile mind. it's a trade off i can live with. yesterday i blogged on the daily examen and after i did i began to do some research on it. i found out that i had spelled it incorrectly "examin" and so my google search was lean - but i did find a beautiful exercise on the "small boat big sea" website that i sat with last night. it's a postmodern church in australia and the exercise begins half way down the page here:

Small Boat Big Sea: Bells

i think the exercise is meant for children, but i enjoyed it and was struck by how much of my day i truly did remember when i sat down to really think it through. as part of my recovery i sent an email to my friend at the end of the day or at the beginning of the next. far too many times i can't even remember what i ate for meals - so i was skeptical that i would be able to review my day.

the thing that stuck out to me the most was a conversation i had with hope. she called in the middle of a painting project i was doing. when we replaced the washer and dryer i took that opportunity to quickly paint the little closet that is my laundry "room" - more like a laundry hallway - two doors pass through a space large enough to hold a washer and dryer on one side and a hot water heater and an electric panel, and under that i tuck in a little shelf i store pantry goods on (which of course i had found at the curb...)

i got the walls painted but was waiting for the patch to dry on the ceiling so i could paint it too - and i thought "well, while i'm waiting i can take a quick hour and paint this sad little shelf". hope caught me at the end of the priming stage - there was this tiny little red dot of some mysterious substance that WOULD NOT be covered in primer. it kept bleeding through (no it wasn't blood) and i knew that when i tried to use my off white paint it would keep poking through. i remembered that i had a quart of kilz primer in my back room for another project and while i was chatting away went to grab it and gave it a good shake, opened it, got a small brush and touched up the red blot.

this whole time hope is getting filtered running commentary amongst our conversation. as i wash out (try to wash out) the brush i realize too late that this is OIL primer and not the latex i had been working with. i now have white oil paint all over one hand and no mineral spirits in the house. this is not the point of the story, but the backdrop to explain that hope said something like "hey, you're really hard on yourself and have a lot of negative self talk here" (i can't remember her exact words) but all of a sudden i heard myself. i realized she was right. i verbally beat myself up all the time.

it's subtle - i used to be 100 times worse - standing at the mirror and saying horrible things to myself. i don't do that anymore - but i didn't realize how much i did this other running commentary, criticizing myself, berating myself for mistakes made or dumb decisions.

the day before at church i was speaking to a couple of the women who would have been my mom's age about menopause. one of the women said she had been getting acne as part of her 'stage of life' now and i said "oh, don't talk to me about bad skin - i have the worst skin of anyone i know". both of them looked at me like i had a hole in my head. i used to have lovely skin - peaches and cream my mom called it. kids, hives treated wtih hydrocortisone for decades and rosacea, adult acne and scarring due to all of these things. without makeup i say my face looks like a road map.

these women were incredulous - "you have lovely skin" they said - i challenged them. for about five minutes. i said, "no i have lovely make up, not lovely skin..." i really feel like every time anyone looks at me in conversation like they are staring at the road map of my face. one of them had been at a going away party for a mutual friend the evening before and i said "when you gave me a compliment for my earrings last night i thought i had caught you starring at my face and you covered by complimenting my earrings". she looked me straight in the eyes and said "i thought your earrings were beautiful, and you are beautiful. your skin is beautiful and i have never once thought what you think or been distracted by it."

i think i might be dealing with a bit of a self image/loathing problem that i hadn't recognized. i guess because my self loathing used to be at 100% the 50% i've been living with seems non-existent. but it is still causing me a lot of damage. i am still so broken in this broken place.

anyway - back to this morning. laying in bed i recalled my examen time yesterday and thought about my day and realized god had answered my prayer to recall any amends that i had forgotten to make. i had forgotten to make amends to myself. i didn't know what that would look like, but i needed to take some time to figure that out and that step 10 and the daily examen will help me to keep my own self-loathing list short and checked.

so self, i begin today by saying sorry. i have beaten you up (both verbally, emotionally and even sometimes physically) far too often. loathed the very existence of you, the reflection of you and the inadequacies of you. please forgive me. i know this is broken and somehow we need to find a better way. together i think we can do it.