Thursday, December 27, 2007

lovely holiday

i haven't taken the time to blog lately, don't really know what that means, but i did want to mention that we had a wonderful holiday together as a family. i worried that i might be "homesick" because my sister was headed to wisconsin to be with my dad and aunt, but upon talking with them on christmas day i realized i was right exactly where i wanted to be.

amazing pecan waffle breakfast, tapas lunch and a prime rib dinner re-embraced the joy of communing around our table. i feel a lot of peace now that i blogged through that last bit. maybe it's your prayers - thank you.

we've just been tucking in here. liam is off for the week and we are doing small projects and hanging out together. we've had mechanic trouble (he's just been so slow at getting everything fixed on the volvo) but it's done now, and computer issues that have seemed to work themselves out. now that the car is back we're heading to the city tomorrow or saturday to do some thrift store shopping - liam has lost at least 40 lbs. slowly since summer and i have dropped a size (i fit into my honeymoon lingerie the other day!) and don't think i've had this body since we got married 20 years ago. sitting with empty really is working. it has somehow become my friend.

i am not weighing myself though as that scale messes with my head. i'll be happy enough to put a size 16 pant on tomorrow and enjoy some clothes that fit again. i told liam that he needed a new wardrobe because he looks like a holocaust victim if he doesn't shave and wears his big baggy clothes. he's dropped at least two sizes. it's amazing how eating one serving and nothing between meals helps me to enjoy the food i do eat and not obsess about it otherwise.

it feels really good. hope all is well in your holiday world!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

counting on me

sue from my father's house asked how it was going with buck's JD. i have tried to get words together and onto the blog, but they just haven't come yet. maybe this time they will. i loathe the math that has forced it's way into my life. it is exhausting me mentally. i know that we'll get past this onerous stage, but right now the calculations, counting and numbers make me angry, resentful and tired. i verbalized this at lunch yesterday with my family. i tried to explain the frantic way meal prep feels again. it used to be cooking that overwhelmed me. since moving here i have found a wonderful groove in the kitchen. we have become great cooks and have a lot of healthy, rich, wonderful meals together as a family.

we are making out own instead of pre-packed, reheated grocery store prepped food. it feels so good. but that is part of the problem. prepackaged food comes with this lovely little chart on the side that tells me how many carbs something has. casseroles do not. meat and potatoes is an easy meal to figure out, but much of our menu isn't that lush. we have a budget and mixed up meals are hard to calculate.

each carb has to be counted and treated for buck to function at his best. i told them in tears yesterday that i am so tempted to just hand him a box of lunchables and say "done" (he would love that for a season - lunchables are the be-all and end-all of lunching extravagance in my kids economy). i said if there were breakfast-ables and supper-ables i'd give them to him too - just to be able to have a meal that isn't so freaking exhausting.

it makes me angry that the joy of communing together has been stolen from me (and the level at which this stresses me out steals the joy from the rest of my family...) pre-packaged crap food would be so much easier to feed him. that is why atkins prepackages everything - people who count carbs get tired of it too. yes, there are websites and places like recipezaar give nutritional info on their recipes - but portion sizes are still so random - never does it say "each serving is 1 cup" or 1/2 cup has 12 carbs... the math is basic, but numbers have never been my friend. if i am interrupted at any point in the calculations i have to start over (and over, and over) and i haven't yet found the flow that i know will one day come - but for today it is mind-numbingly frustrating.

the other thing that happened last week was that buck had 2 low episodes at school. they weren't life threatening or even scary - but that means that he is starting to respond to the insulin - and that changes all of the ratios and we have to be much more aware and alert. that level of alert is so tiring. he got up to pee at 3:00 this a.m. and i hopped out of bed to make sure he was okay. i didn't get back to sleep until about 5:30 and had to get up again at 6:30. hyper-vigilance was something i was able to let go of in recovery about 15 months ago - having to re-engage it makes me mad and feels like going backwards.

i told liam this a.m. that it felt like a sick joke that i have just begun to let go of the obsession i had been feeling towards food in the past couple of weeks (it's been amazing btw) and now i'm forced to think about meals and food nearly 1/2 of the day. i'm not obsessing, but i am forced to plan and engage with food like it's my new job.

my recovery is sweeter than it has been in years though and i am reaping the benefits from that. i just need to put some elbow grease into getting some meal plans charted out and have some "thought free" breakfasts and lunches written out so that i'm not spending all of the mental energy i have in the day before 8:00 a.m. when the kids leave for school.

liam and i have both been sitting with empty for quite a bit lately and we are both seeing the changes in our bodies. he's dropped at least 2 sizes and i am feeling so much better in my skin. i am so tempted to weigh myself, but that always does me in, so i am saying no to that scale and allowing my own body to measure itself instead of some random number on a scale. i feel healthy and mostly serene (except when numbers creep into my day!) :)

thanks for asking sue - buck is doing so well. he's amazing and such a sweet kid. it's been such a joy to learn from him as he faces this challenge. he's teaching me so much. i'm thinking about starting a blog for parents with kids and JD - i figure there must be tips and tricks we can learn from each other, and i'd hate for all of this work i'm doing to get organized just to be for me - i just need to think of a catchy name - anyone??

Thursday, December 06, 2007

officially freaked out... - updated

at 2:00 today i go to buck's school to talk to the teaching team to get them on board w/ his care. this is totally freaking me out. i'm not sure if it's the exhaustion or just feeling like things will get lost in translation or just that i don't know most of these people other than his homeroom teacher (who i love) - and feel insecure and inadequate or what... but i just want to crawl under the covers and hide.

i'm all fluttery inside and can't even identify what is next. i actually think i inherited liam's anxiety this morning over his open house tomorrow. he's not doing so well either... actually even worse than i am. i know that this is good and rescuing him is not helpful in the big picture, but in the small picture my latent co-dependent genes want to kick in. i committed to only doing what i was asked to by him, and only if i wanted to - and so far he hasn't really asked, so i'm not really helping. his lone-ranger act is going to wear thin soon though. he's sick and got all of the family stress on top of it all.

i just wish i could calm myself down. i figured maybe writing about it might help... and a shower... :)

i am up to this time with the staff - it's teaching and i love to teach. and i don't have to be a diabetic expert - i'm the "buck" expert, right? i want to bend their hearts to my son, and that i am prepared to do. i think more than anything is that i'm afraid i will cry. these are total strangers (mostly) and i go too deep too fast and don't want to leave myself out on a limb i can't climb back from gracefully...

please pray if you are the praying kind. much love!

UPDATE: i don't know what i was so freaked out by... well, maybe i do, but it wasn't the meeting, or at least it shouldn't have been. i think it was the fact that this was the next stage of letting my baby grow. educating the school meant he had to go back. the meeting went so well, it was only the teacher and the resource center teacher who handles this already for a 3rd grader. the plan of care is wonderful, he's monitored well and has ample help and support if/when he needs it. it made me feel like it was actually possible to let go.

buck went to school today and all of the details were a bit overwhelming, but i managed it well and he did fine. he posted the lowest numbers he's had yet at lunch, so there was a bit of concern - but it was handled well and he self-identified not feeling "normal" and went and asked for help.

he has walked to and from school this year and really enjoys it. he has a good friend and really wanted to join him again coming home tonight. those last 10 minutes before he got home were a bit anxious for me, but i saw him come up over the hill and slide around with his friends in the back driveway and it brought tears to my eyes to see him being so "normal" again.

we've got a three day weekend here so the doctor is going to get a bit more aggressive about bringing down his blood sugar to normal levels. we should be able to manage by the end of the weekend. we've still got 2 checks in the middle of the night, but i'm sure i'd be up worried like a new mom the first time her baby sleeps through the night if we didn't right now.

thanks so much for your prayers!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

home and exhausted

hi all, don't know how many know as i blogged mostly on my named blog and updated on facebook, (and i can't remember what i wrote here and am to lazy to look) but my son buck is now juvenile diabetic and has a team of incredible doctors/nutritionist/nurse working on his case.

we're home, safe and prepared, but the mental energy it takes to not forget anything is exhausting and i haven't gotten the needed sleep to face even a normal day, let alone this kind of day. i have been writing every day for the past two weeks and my food/abstinence is still good. i'm only eating at meals and have made it through the worst of this storm i think.

hope told me the other day that she could see my recovery was solid because of the way i was able to face this. that meant the world to me. i told her that i have avoided counting and measuring my whole recovery life, so it makes me smile to think i get to do it now out of love for my son instead of out of obligation or legalism for myself. i am learning much.

other than the exhaustion and i fell flat on my butt walking to the house yesterday just was we got home everything is going well. liam is a bit more stressed than normal, but i can't work his program for him, so he'll have to find a way through this all himself. thanks for your prayers - please don't stop. and if you could add pink into the mix we'd appreciate it. she's the only one who really doesn't have anything to "do" for this, so she's feeling a bit left out, some survivor guilt and just the plain old emotions of an 11 year old girl. she's the emotional barometer of our home - and lets us know when we need to be communicating better and spending more time together doing less and being present more.

anyway - i don't even know if this is making any sense, but after lunch i think i'm going to do some good self care and take a nap. much love!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

where the rubber hits the road...

remember last week when i said that sitting with empty wasn't the hardest thing i had done and that i figured it was going to get a bit more difficult. well... it has.

i have lost my five pounds of comfort/safety fat and am feeling sexual and feminine again AND (and this is a HUGE AND) my son buck is starting to show signs of something being REALLY WRONG with him physically.

i have always known how blessed we are to have healthy kids. i have watched good friends sit with their own when they are not well and i have regularly counted myself in the "lucky" column on this front. but for the past couple of weeks i have watched as my son adds to the list of symptoms that culminated last night with me scratching his back and feeling his spine and his ribs through his shirt. i had noticed his face had thinned out a lot recently, but chalked it up to a height shift that moves the weight around. it's winter, his clothes are fuller and i honestly can't say that i noticed anything other than that until last night. he's nine. he's growing. but last night i realized when i felt his back that he was loosing weight and not gaining height. i sent him to the scale with directions to call me if his weight was below his marker. 7 lbs! gasp. nine year old boys don't loose seven pounds unless there is something wrong.

i said last week that his uptake in fluids made me concerned as my father is type I diabetic, and it is hereditary (skipping every other generation) - liam brushed me off and i knew that if it was true it wouldn't be the only symptom. the weight loss shows me i'm probably on the right track. liam still thinks i'm making something out of nothing. i know in my heart of hearts i'm not.

these past few nights have been hard not to let my imagination go down some really ugly paths and to stop my anxiety from overtaking my serenity. it's not that diabetes would be the end of the world. i know leaps and bounds have been made in treatment and it is a truly manageable disease. it's the lack of doctors here in this corner of canada that really has me bothered.

buck is the most responsible 9 year old i've ever known. he rarely needs reminded to do anything that he is asked. he is self aware and incredibly confident in asking for what he needs, identifying boundaries that are crossed and explaining himself. i have no doubt that this will be something he can live with and live well with. i just have a concern that he won't get the medical care he will need to face this here.

it is truly my only complaint about living here. this isn't a social medicine thing. i have had the best medical care of my life in canadian hospitals and from canadian doctors. it is a location thing. there just aren't enough doctors. the only one taking patients at this point is incompetent and i refuse to endure her inadequate care for such a large diagnosis and maintenance regime that is necessary for juvenile diabetes.

so today i am going to begin to change the thing i can change. i am contacting the established doctors in our community who would be capable of treating buck to see if they can find the grace to open their practice to let our family into their care.

it's not my favorite thing in the world to do, but i am up to it. but empty and facing this is going to be a true test of my daily commitment to this new abstinence. just for today, right? just for today.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

when the light turns on

i spent many years at our last church teaching a sunday morning class to middle schoolers. up until the point that i did it was a dry, dreary, confirmation-type class. the kids hated it and the teachers resented the duty they felt having to be strapped with the obligation to cram these heads full of the information they needed to grow up. i committed to the class only when i got full reign of what i was able to teach and how i planned on doing it.

it became 4 years of real joy. i found a groove with those kids that we all loved. i treated them like they had brains and wanted to learn and they gave me a place to begin to verbalize big thoughts and deep theology in a way that we both could understand it and grow. i loved those kids and they loved me. many stayed in my class once middle school was done because they enjoyed it so much. it wasn't the most popular class, but the kids who came really wanted to learn and knew that i could teach them.

it's one of the only things i truly miss about our last church. i knew i left those kids prepared to own their own faith, ask difficult questions and be okay with answers that weren't all about their heads and not their hearts. i still keep in touch with many of them to this day.

upon the entrance of my very own pink into middle school this year i realized that she was the age of the girls that started in my class years ago. i knew there really wasn't the kind of class that would help she and her friends prepare to own their faith in a real way that would help them navigate through their teen years. liam and i volunteered to do the middle school youth group on wednesday nights and i volunteered to teach sundays for the month of november.

the learning curve for mid-high is L.O.N.G. those boys have the attention span of a common house fly and earning the right to be heard with these young hearts was going to be the biggest challenge that i would face. it took me a week to understand that small tables wasn't going to be the best way to keep their attention. week 2 i circled the chairs and brought out 'the paddle of power' (sarcasm necessary) - a ping pong paddle that you needed to hold if you wanted to share your story with the group.

i decided that i might only ever get these four weeks with them, so i needed to pick my topics well. what were the things over 42 years of life that i would die for? what were the things that i believed were the most important.

i realized that giving them tools to help them build their own spiritual lives with god was what i longed for each of them, especially pink, to know. the first week we talked about being still, silence, solitude and even did a short ignatian gospel reading together. it's the most interactive, talkative class and it's like herding cats sometimes, but i know that there were real, live tools that these kids were taking into the future with them.

the second week we talked about the daily examen. highs and lows and what we can learn about ourselves and following god through listening to our best and worst. it was so lovely to sit with those 8th grade boys, new this week, who had no interest in being in the class, begin to share their highs with the class, then they felt safe enough to share their lows, without me even asking, and they unfolded their lives and stories before me. it was a sacred honor.

last week wires got crossed and i was given "relief" (that i really didn't want) but had planned on talking about confession, and following it up this week with forgiveness. so today i talked with them about both. i pray each week for a word picture or story to help me begin each class with. they always come and are so beautiful and rich as they help the kids engage in the process before they've even realize why i am talking about these things. today i brought a garbage can and a recycling bin into the middle of the circle.

they sat there for a few minutes ignoring them until finally one curious girl finally asked "what are these doing here?" we spoke of the gift that god has given us to be able to clean up the messes we make with confession and forgiveness. the garbage can was used in so many different ways to talk about what happens when we ignore our messes, or what happens when someone gives us their garbage to carry by hurting us.

i saw lights turn on in eyes today. bright beautiful lights. in bright, beautiful eyes. what a gift to be able to help these young souls understand the gift that confession and forgiveness bring to their lives.

i had a father come up to me after the class. he's a former pastor who's been through his long, laundry list of abuse by the church, and tell me how much his two kids like having me for a teacher. it's nice to hear from him, but i could see it in their own eyes today. i have missed that light.

years ago i thought that i was given children to teach because others thought i wasn't skilled enough to teach adults. what i found out was that i loved it. those young minds are such a joy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

seeing the size of the cloth

a reader of this blog and a new friend just sent me this poem - i thought it was so beautiful i should share it here:

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and send you out in the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shehab Nye

via - tikkun

Thursday, November 22, 2007


for those of you following my empty journey or taking one of your own i give you these words that were given to me this morning.

i have been reading praying with jesus by eugene peterson. i got off track during school so i'm a bit behind. that always seems to have a purpose, and today's entry (which was really november 12th's entry) is well timed. i have had three good days of sitting with empty. being satisfied with my one serving at each meal and not eating anything between meals, and then sitting with the feeling after each meal as the fullness starts to fade and the empty starts to rise, and letting that be that and not panicking and stuffing it. it's not the easiest things i've ever done, but it's not the most difficult thing either.

i know there will be days it will be harder than these past few have been. but i feel like i'm back on the beam a bit more fully than i have been in a while.

the readings have been in john 14 and are very timely as i mentioned. yesterday's was about jesus not leaving us orphaned and promising us the spirit of truth. today's was titled "in". john 14:20-21:

"...I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."

"In" is the preposition of intimacy and one of the most important words in the gospel. It is later picked up by Paul and used in his famous formula "in Christ." Jesus sets us in a relationship of intimacy with himself by which we experience the fullness of God.

PRAYER: Jesus, I know that you will not leave me empty or orphaned. I thank you for the promise of your presence. Invade, invigorate, inspire by your Spirit. Amen.

if anyone remembered my angry, angry, angry post you'll know that parent junk and empty junk is a lot of what i'm processing right now. the promise not to be orphaned or empty (linked together) is pretty incredible for me and i hope it might be for you too.

today being an uncelebrated thanksgiving for me (in the usual, lots of family, big turkey dinner sense) seems fitting to my orphaned, empty state. but it isn't driving me to stuff myself. it is helping me to know that those two things are not true, and even if they were i would still be okay. i am really missing my extended family today, but i am thankful for what i do have and for where i am. in.

Monday, November 19, 2007

my new corner of the world

my computer and desk have a new home, it's quiet and lovely. i am enjoying it immensely, but it is really quiet. like i don't know if i can hear the doorbell or the telephone ring quiet.

no television, kids playing noise or anything. i'm almost worried i'll miss something.

but i guess the kids know where i am and so here i sit, under my eaves, at my little desk and type.

i treated myself today. i had some blueberry coffee beans i bought from benbows of bar harbor and enjoyed it in my 2 cats mug, lit my patchouli candle and savored my solitude (my son called home from school sick, but he was far away in his room).

this is definitely a place to find "empty"...

i wrote an email to my therapist and told him that i no longer wanted to make friends with empty. i wanted to hunt it down and beat it with a stick. this is harder than it sounds.

anyway, i leave you with a picture from my new office.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

making friends with the enemy

i saw my therapist today. he's also a friend, one of my pastors and a professor in the program we're doing. it's great because he knows much of my story already so there isn't a lot of time needed to fill him in.

i went to talk about finding better tools to deal with the anger i was feeling so that i didn't become any more destructive to myself or the people around me.

i had two papers due for his counseling class and i used them as opportunities to process some of the stuff i'm going through. i'm sure most of his students don't go so deep or so personal, but i figure if i'm going to do the work i might as well use the process to pull at this tangle of emotions and memories i'm dealing with. it also helped because he knew in advance a lot of what i wanted to talk about.

he's such a gentle, peaceful person. unflappable and even. i really like that about him. his ability to listen and tug at the threads of the story i share really helps me to unravel a lot of the knots.

at one point i talked about how i didn't even care if i ever worked out the anger i had toward my mom because what i really wanted was for it not to push my buttons any more. i said "is it any wonder (after talking about the purging she did to me) that being full is so important to me?"

he listened and then circled back to that place. asking me questions about why full is so important and how empty feels. at first blush i said that empty feels like panic. i know i'll get more from sitting with the word, but right now empty is this place that feels like there won't be enough. that the need will go unmet, so i must fill it myself. that full stops everything from being unmanageable (how we delude ourselves in addiction, eh?) and stops the panic.

he asked if i have ever sat with empty before. he talked of how many addicts find that through their sobriety they find that the thing that was once their enemy becomes their friend - they know that when they begin to feel the emotion/feeling that had set them off before now becomes an indication that their sobriety working, instead of their addiction winning. (i hope this is making sense - it does to me at least). so if i can begin to see empty as something that helps me to know i'm healthy and on the right track, instead of something wrong or broken i might be able to turn it from an enemy into a friend.

that was a tool i had never, ever thought about before. making friends with the enemy...

he also talked about the peace that follows empty - if i can ride out the wave of the panic to the other side, peace waits for me there. i'm not sure i believe him, but he has proven himself to be quite knowledgeable and very trustworthy so i guess i'll give it a try! :)

he also helped me to identify some times in the day when things are the most difficult and begin to make plans to change them. to figure out how to find pleasure in the things i do eat instead of the counterfeit pleasure i have in feeling full (which usually brings with it shame and guilt). to enjoy and savor the things i do eat to their fullest instead of feeling the need to stuff myself full to sate the feeling of empty.

finding something to do that "fills me up" after supper instead of having seconds (or thirds) because i'm so drained and dragged out by that time of the day. creating some space that gives me the ability to read and enjoy myself away from the living room and the television and the chaos that evening usually brings to our home. and maybe directing our family's attention to something more life giving and whole than just sitting and watching that stupid television that steals and stupefies instead of gives and inspires.

anyway, lots to think about and some better tools to work through these part of the tangle.

Friday, November 09, 2007

i'm not sure what this means

Your Aspie score: 117 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 103 of 200
You seem to have both Aspie and neurotypical traits

i'm not exactly sure what this means, but i have wondered about this for some time especially in watching my daughter interact socially and knowing it is so very like myself.... anyone know a bit more about this??


angry, angry, angry

i have been blindsided by anger these past couple of weeks. absolutely blindsided. the murder of my girlfriends daughter by her husband awoke such violence within me. it gave me a face to hate. a face to channel my rage toward. that ugly, mouth-breathing, festering rot of a human being awoke a place in me that i really thought i had worked through. i did deep anger work a couple of years ago - and i'm not naive enough to believe that i wouldn't need to circle back, but dang this has spun me back so fast and so furiously that i can't seem to catch my breath.

i wrote to a blogger friend last night about some other issues i'm dealing with. i'm just going to quote it here because i am crunched for time today.

the deepest places in me want to be stuffed with food to make everything better. i know it's not better, ever with this stupid way of coping, but anything else just seems stupider. hurting and not doing anything about it seems senseless. at least anesthetizing the pain feels like i'm doing something...

i have been so angry and reactionary lately. i did some deep emotional work during the ignatian prayer class and realized that my mom gagged me twice in the bathroom. once because i ate baby aspirin and once because i ate maraschino cherries - both times out of the liquor cabinet - just a kitchen cupboard, but where they stored their booze - and both times because i was too old to take the nap she tried to make me take so she could pass out on the couch, i got bored and when she woke up and saw the empty jars she was ashamed/angry/scared and took it out on me by inducing vomiting with her nasty cigarette stained fingers as she me held over the toilet.

both of these times were right after the rape, in the same bathroom with the same exact motion. i realized that basically i was raped three times that summer, twice by the woman who was in such denial that she didn't protect me the first time and perpetrated it two more times. is it any wonder why feeling full is so important to me? empty means scary, lack of control and violated. full means safe.


i am so angry at her. and at my stupid father for not doing anything about it either, and for talking at his birthday party this summer about that very same party where i was raped with jokes and laughs about how drunk he was and how at the end of the party he and another guy ran down the road to the lake and jumped in and he lost the $200.00 my grandfather had just given him. i sat there and thought "old man, you lost way more than that that day" - he knew too. he knew i was raped that day. we have talked about it before. and then on my own birthday he never even bothered to call. i am so angry. so very angry.

sorry to unload on you, but i just have to get this junk out and now that i've started i just can't stop. i think i'll probably clip some of this into a blog post.

i just keep snapping at liam and the kids. i have no patience at all. i know i need to start therapy again. dang i hate winter. i can feel it creeping in on me already. i don't want to go outside because it's so cold and so i'd rather just isolate myself. i hate it.

i love this community and everything else is going so well. i just really need to get some closure on this junk i've mucked up. i can't do it on my own.
okay, now i have to go and get this day started. thanks for listening.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

don't miss this blog post

thank you sarah louise for linking to this. i laughed until i almost threw up - it hurt i laughed so much:

Strap in, Shut up and Hold on: We're going in

Monday, November 05, 2007

it is well with my soul

have you ever made a really big mistake that costs more money than you can afford? we did last month. it was stupid. innocent, but stupid. it cost us $700 that we just did not have. it put us in debt and broke our hearts. it didn't have to happen. we could have avoided it. but we really went on the best information we thought we had.

public health care in canada is a lovely thing. not as wonderful on the rural, east coast as it is in major urban centres of ontario, but i am still so grateful i don't have to keep a job i hate to keep us insured. supplemental insurance in canada is a wise thing to add - prescriptions, optical & dental can be had as a small extra, private plan. we finally got to the place last spring where we could afford this and started the plan. we had a six month waiting period for dental and optical coverage. we figured that we had waited 2 years, we could wait six more months. and here the big, dumb, innocent, yet dumb mistake happened. we thought the waiting period was over in october and i scheduled the whole family for full optical and dental exams. the co-pays coming all together were a lot, but we finally had coverage - we were going to use it.

actually though the six month waiting period didn't really start until november. we never checked. either of us. we just went on the assumption that we had coverage. $700 later every claim was rejected and our hearts were broken. do you know how far we can stretch $700?? that's a huge amount in our economy. i was angry, so angry with myself and liam that we hadn't checked. it was a stupid mistake and we were heartbroken.

liam called our insurance guy and asked him to plead our case. he half-heartedly tried and said "nothing i can do". i figured that $700 is over a weeks pay if i was to go out and find work, so maybe i could put some effort into being the persistent widow and find out if our insurance company had one just judge among the many. i prayed that i could stay calm and level headed. that i would own my mistake and plead my case as honestly and heartily as i was able.

on friday i got the standard call center response "i'm sorry, we can't waive the waiting period, it's non-negotiable" - i explained to her that i realized that she probably didn't have the power to make a decision like this, but that i knew that there would be someone in her company who might be able to. i thanked her for her time and asked to speak to her supervisor. i received the standard "no one is here who can help you, but i can take your information and they will contact you" line. she was professional, but clearly i was asking far too much. she assured me someone would call me monday to discuss this. i figured this was only the first link in a very long chain i would have to endure to earn the right to be heard by the right person.

at 9:01 this morning the phone rang. i said to liam jokingly "yah, that's the insurance company calling" and you know what? it was. i got on the phone expecting to plead my case again and said "we have made a huge mistake. we feel horrible and we aren't trying to get one over on anyone..." she cut me off. i expected the worst when she said "i was just calling to tell you that the company has decided to pay all of your claims." i'm still tearing up 4 1/2 hours later as i type this. i was shocked. i am not sure, but i don't know if i have ever felt as heard as i felt at that moment. i truly felt heard by god and heard by this company and that mercy and justice had moved to meet our need.

we try so hard to live simply and generously and within our means. this $700 means we are not in debt and are able to celebrate the holidays without that horrible pressure on us. i am so grateful. i wept before god for a good 20 minutes. i am moved again to tears. justice is a beautiful thing.

in one of our classes our professor talked about the difference between the "right answer" and the "beautiful answer" - it would have been right for the insurance company to make us pay for our mistake, but it wouldn't have been beautiful. they clearly could afford to eat this more than we could. it was so kind of them to realize that and step in for us. it is the beautiful answer and i am so grateful.

i have battled insurance companies since my mother's death back in the 80's. i have never had an outcome like this. i couldn't have been more surprised and shocked by this.

i wrote a poem the other night at the sacred writing workshop. he taught us about repetition in poetry and asked us to use a phrase that had been sticking in our heads to engage creatively in this process. still pondering the theme of bread i had been stuck on the line "what father gives a stone when his child asks for bread?" i wrote about six lines feeling the joy of god's provision and then it shifted, right there, in the middle of the room with 20 other people, and i thought about all of the stones i had been given along the way. anger boiled in me. instead of the joy of receiving bread i began to think of all of the rocks. it stuck in my throat and i couldn't write another word. we were then asked to read our psalms out loud. i panicked and realized how much of myself i was going to show to this room of virtual strangers. there was nothing else i could do.

what father gives a stone when his child asks for bread?

i was one of the last to go and the whole time i kept saying to myself, "it's okay, some psalms are angry and full of lament - maybe someone else will connect with this emotion instead of sugary, sweetness" - it was enough to get me to open my mouth. it was over quickly and i tried not to think about it anymore. i figured i could make more of it than anyone else would. afterward a woman i had never met before came up to me and told me that she could tell there was lots of emotion behind my words and that she appreciated them.

today is a day for bread. i am grateful. it is well with my soul.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

To Be a Great Poem

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning god, have patience and indulgence toward the people, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul--and your very flesh shall be a great poem.

Source: Preface to Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman


Wednesday, October 31, 2007


one of the books we're reading for school is interior castle by teresa of avila. i brought a book i had picked up to work through devotionally to class one day last week, praying with teresa of avila, companions on the journey by rosemary broughton - and opened it in class between thoughts or when my mind was wandering. what i read made me gasp because it has so much to do with what i've been processing and working through on this blog these past couple of month.

the forward starts like this:

"Companions for the Journey - Just as food is required for human life, so are companions. Indeed, the word companions come from two Latin words: com, meaning "with," and panis, meaning "bread." (gasp) Companions nourish our heart, mind, soul, and body. They are also the people with whom we can celebrate the sharing of bread."

how is jesus like bread? it takes on a whole new meaning now doesn't it? thank you for being my "companions" here at emerging sideways. it means so much to me to know i'm not walking through this alone.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

bread, not a stone

thoughtful christian has an amazing post that ties into much of what i've been thinking about these past couple of months and i didn't want to loose the link:

bread, not a stone

Friday, October 26, 2007


well, we finished our final class for this module today and it feels so good to be done. the trauma of the death of my girlfriend's daughter on top of everything else just threw quite a bit into an already full cup. i think i went deeper in the times of silence and contemplation than i might have gone without it, but that too adds some intensity that depleted my supplies even further. i am happy to be done. it was amazing and i loved the process. i had a hard time engaging into a lot of the social aspects as so many times it required another sitter and i think the fact that people were coming in and out again made me not want to really have to say goodbye. it's different to be living in the place everyone comes to, instead of being transplanted myself.

it feels good to be home and know that all that is required of me is to top some home made pizzas and enjoy a movie with my family.

hope you all had a great couple of weeks, i'll post more soon, really.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


i was finally able to connect with my friend yesterday. it was like no time had passed, but we both knew so much had, and terrible time too. but our souls were still very close. i had prayed much for the words of life and light. so many things said at these times hurt and wound more deeply. i didn't want any of my words to be hurtful. i pray they weren't. i rest in the assurance of the love with which they were spoken.

details are still so sketchy and confusion and questions are large, but there is peace in the storm and clarity when needed. generosity is being offered on many fronts and they have a safe bubble for the time being.

i have been trying to tap some friends to work out a flight and travel arrangements so i could attend the funeral, but my own exhaustion, my daughter's sadness and just too many details in too short a time seem like this may not happen. she understands and knows her support will be full. i think a trip later might be better timed, and we'd like to bring them here to rest and get away when things get hard.

i'm not sleeping well at all. my brain just won't seem to shut down in the early morning hours. i really need a jammy day. i'm spent. there went the alarm. i guess it's time to start the day. thanks again for your prayers and support.

Monday, October 22, 2007

disjointed thoughts

the roller coaster of emotions that were this weekend have left me exhausted. i am mentally exhausted from school as i haven't had to think this hard and this much in 20 years. now i am emotionally exhausted too. it is also affecting my sleep, so physically i'm pretty tapped out.

somehow in the calendar of things i miscounted days between cycles and thought for sure that i was supposed to get my period last week (sorry guys) but have since realized (after i panicked at being 4 days LATE) that i jumped a week and it really isn't due until this week. it screws with your head at that point and not just with your body.

pink is the emotional barometer of our home and she is letting us all know that we're not functioning at our peek at the moment. there's a lot of changes taking place this past week, and this week to come and i am so glad that we don't have to pull this off 24-7-365 - we would crash very quickly.

hope reminded me on friday to maintain really good self care through all of this. so instead of getting organized yesterday for this week we went to the coast and beach combed. we all needed it, but we definately paid the price this a.m. for not taking the time to get our act together yesterday... oh well, it's just one more week.

back to the horror. i got an email from my friend yesterday and a facebook prayer update for a support group for her ministry. she is broken to her core. we did not talk, but i spoke with her mentor last night, the woman she is staying with, and she reassured me that she and her daughter are finding peace amidst the storm. i am praying for a big bubble to encompass them and that god will reveal himself to them in a brand new way. the theology of my youth meant that god ordained this to happen - and that sick twisted version of god will never get her through this. he was also a silent god - so i am praying that he breaks through that too.

there is a memorial service on saturday. it would allow me to finish this week at school and maybe get to toronto. i'm overwhelmed just thinking about this right now. the financial implications and family implications are great, but i'm leaning toward knowing it is important i am there. i'll know more soon.

the ickiest part of all of this is that it has raked up my own story and my own anger and rage. i have spent the weekend with a face to loathe, with a person to hate and it has brought me to a very ugly place. hope's reminder helped so much because i realized as i was tempted, more tempted to give in to my addictions that i think i have been in years that choosing that path could wind me up into exactly what he had become. there but for the grace of god go i. the shame and rage i feel toward myself in the middle of my addiction could so easily turn me violent. 8 years ago it could have been me.

so the muck of it all brings me back to today. just for today. god save me from myself. i am powerless to do it on my own. just for today.

thank you for your prayers.

Friday, October 19, 2007

senseless violence

i can hardly type because my hands are shaking so badly and i can hardly see because the tears just won't stop. my best friend from college is facing the most horrific thing a mother could ever face. her husband turned himself into the police for the murder of their youngest daughter.

i hated this man long before this. i begged her not to marry him. i stood up as matron of honor at their wedding only because of my great love for her and her insistence that he wasn't who i thought he was.

i am so angry. i am so confused. i hate the theology that keeps a woman with a bastard of a husband who threatened her and i have always believed was sexually abusing her daughters.

it's splashed all over the front pages of the news. the home i sat in with her. helped her hang her curtains in is cordoned off by police tape because their beautiful, angelic daughter lie dead inside. if i could i would kill him myself. why didn't he kill himself? he threated to kill her once before. she swore the counseling worked. oh god why? they were involved in their church, he worked for a huge christian retailer in their city and all of "their" best friends knew him from childhood. how could no one stop this?

i can't get in touch with anyone so the only information i have is off of the news websites. i'm so broken. i begged her not to marry him. damn it all. bastard. i can't understand why he didn't kill himself. their girls have played with my kids every time we were in the city. how do i tell them? what do i tell them?

i had already left for school this a.m. and liam got a phone call from one of the youth we worked with decades ago. he came to tell me before class. we didn't have very good information and i thought originally it was the older daughter. she has struggled with emotional problems her whole life. i was positive it was because he was abusing her. i thought when it was her that at least she didn't have to live with this her whole life. now to find out she does and worse makes me sick within my very soul. how do you recover from this? how can this be redeemed?

i called her house number thinking it was her cell and the answering machine had the young daughters voice on it. i could hardly leave a message. that is all she has left of her now. that small voice on a recording, so happy and cheerful. oh god, please, please help in ways i can't even imagine. please pray. pray for wholeness to be brought from these horrible pieces. and for a bubble to surround them so they can't be injured any more through this ugliness. and that it wouldn't kill their hearts. the god they serve is still that hard, cold god from my past. pray that he becomes more real to her through this and that the ugly theology we were raised with can't make more of a mess of this than it has already.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

i am so loving this

sarah louise asked if i took a picture in front of the house for my first day of school. i was actually thinking about it - but knew that i couldn't post it here anyway, so i didn't (and i was a bit distracted getting the kids to where they needed to be so that we could walk to class). we live 1/2 way between our church and the university so we can walk to everything. it's so cool. some of our classes are at the church because our group is bigger than it's been before so the rooms there are better for most of them.

one of the best things about this program is that they specifically build spiritual formation into the schedule. one of our four classes is ignatian prayer. we had our first time with that today and it was incredible. our spiritual director is such a gentle, lovely woman. i just adore her.

i am also just so tickled that 1/2 the class is women like me and that this community isn't at all threatened by our voices. there is no jockeying for a place at the table, no preference given to the males in the room and such an openness to hearing our story, even our difficult ones. i can tell some of the men in the group aren't this used to women fully participating. it's wonderful that the profs love this too and that god can use their uncomfortableness to crack their hearts open.

gotta go liam made dinner - god bless him. i have no energy to hardly even type. the mental exhaustion is overwhelming. i'm journalling tons, so i'll have lots to share later.

love and miss you all!

Monday, October 15, 2007

first day of school

i feel like i'm twelve. anxious and excited, dreading and ready to quit. oh well, here i go.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

birthday reload

i felt so much better after i blogged yesterday. i was able to let go of the expectations and just be. liam and i sanded the drywall in the office - it's so close to being ready for primer - very exciting. the angled walls have been so hard to get the corners right on and good enough and that'll do just isn't for me any more. it doesn't have to be perfect, but it does need to be our best. out of all of the things i could think of to spend my time on yesterday that gave me the most joy. well, it was a pain, but the thought of getting that room finished gave me joy.

so today we are really celebrating. there is a renaissance worship in one of the cities close by and it kicks off the shakespeare festival - it's in a historic old church and i have wanted to participate since i heard about it a couple of months ago. so we decided to skip church today and head up there. if the rain lets off we're going to find another lighthouse we haven't seen yet and say hallo to the ocean and then we're heading to a matinée of the seeker - i am so excited. i have read the susan cooper dark is rising series so many times i just love it. i know this is a far more modern version of the story, but i can't wait to enjoy it again.

it should be a wonderful day filled with fun and relaxation. we're really looking forward to being together "out and about". thank you for your well wishes and supportive comments. they mean so much to me!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

it's my birthday and i'll cry if i want to...

no party here. i wanted a low key weekend before we start school on monday. just not nearly this low key. i am not the kind of person who needs presents and gush, i just like to be remembered. we have a family tradition in our home for the choice of a big breakfast. it's something that we always do. liam had a discussion with the kids on thursday night while i was at my OA meeting and they decided that greek food would be a great thing to make for my birthday too. i don't do cake, so a real meal is a nice surprise for me. i wouldn't have thought of it or asked for it, but when it was suggested i was grateful.

it happened last night, but with begrudging resentment and passive aggressive attitudes on the part of my husband. he realized too late that the mess he made last night would follow him into this mornings breakfast without the clean up fairy in between. liam is a full participant in family chores and cleaning. nothing is below him and he models this beautifully to our children. i am very blessed. but he makes a huge mess in the kitchen when he cooks and hadn't considered that he was going to have to follow this up this morning with the crepes i requested for my birthday breakfast. he realized at about 10:30 last night that this was going to happen. he's had a long week at work and i knew he was spent. he just didn't realize the emotional impact it would have on me when he asked if the birthday breakfast could be bumped to sunday.

i guess i didn't either. i have spent most of the morning in tears, hating celebrations because they are usually a disappointment to me. somehow i think that maybe this year i will be understood and somehow remembered and honored as i hoped to be. again, even the conversations i had with myself this past week didn't prepare me enough for the disappointment i felt deep within that my father didn't call or send a card. that my mom was gone and that our family tradition was being bumped a day. i've never been good at holding things back. never. if i feel it i can't hide it. curse or gift, i'm not sure most of the time, but i wear my emotions on my outsides most of the time. so everyone knew i was sad and a bit hurt.

feeling the emotions and processing them with liam, my sister on the phone when she called, and even here are really the best gift i can give myself today. such clues into that child of my early years. i told liam about those birthdays that play so deeply in my story. those hurtful times i remember so vividly. i don't know why they are the ones imprinted on my memory, but they are clues to how i feel about myself today. i hate myself sometimes because i'm just not able to muscle through things and suck it up. but for today i need to be okay with that. it is my birthday and i have cried. feeling my feelings and owning them is the gift i give myself today. happy 42nd birthday self.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

brain too full... can't fit any more in...

okay, it's official. i am overwhelmed. too much reading. too much to fit together. too much unknown. i'd love to have the posts i wrote in my head on the way to and from the dentist the other day. they were beautiful. now? zip. nothing... nadda.

maybe just typing will clear away some of the haze. maybe not...

classes begin on monday. monday. it's real. really, really real. of course i just found out on sunday that my two kids have PD days on monday and tuesday. so instead of having some gallivanting time with my kiddos i have classes and they have NOTHING. getting childcare lined up is one of the things i loathe about parenting. it's probably why i didn't re-enter the work world. i hate asking people for help. my kids are 9 & 11 and other than a week in the year i or liam look after them. sure there are baby sitters from time to time, or they spend a weekend with friends occasionally - but really this is pathetic. it's not that i don't trust other people with my kids, it's just because i hate asking for help. it feels like i'm shirking my duties as a mom. i know that's not true and this is important and finally i am doing something for me - but dang i hate asking.

i have called the after school club and found out it's just $6.00/day/per kid and $18.00 for the full day. they make all meals and give the kids snacks so it's a very reasonable alternative (and saves me from having to do the dreaded ask). but of course this is the least popular alternative with pink and buck. i've told them a couple of times to just suck it up, but that isn't seeming to help. (well, not in those exact words...)

speaking of buck. i just got a phone call from the principle. seems my non-violent son who rarely gives us a minute of trouble picked a book off of a girl's desk today at school and it was apparently a bad idea. she grabbed his ear and took him to the floor. in retaliation he grabbed hers back and eventually kicked her (he said probably to get her to let go). the principle said buck admitted it and apologized but he'll still be spending the whole day in the resource room... i explained that there is no greater way to punish buck than to deprive him of people. it will be a torturous day for him being alone. i can imagine he will never make this choice again. poor kid.

so i'm doing all i can to avoid all of the reading i have to do. there is no possible way i can have it all done in time for classes as we signed up very late in the game. this is fine with all of the faculty, they know us well and we have a whole year before our next actual module because the spring module is a travel one. we won't be traveling until spring 2010, so we'll have lots of time to catch up, but i definitely would get much more out of the classes if i put my nose back into a book. i just hate the deadline. there are so many things i am loving reading - but have to skim because i can't read and relish the thoughts because i have to actually move on to the next thing. and then there are those dinosaurs that i loathe reading and am trying to plow through just to get them done.

and then of course i can't even enjoy the lovely fiction i can't live without because i feel so guilty reading it instead of assigned reading that it's screwing with everything. and then i think... dang. i'm paying for this. shut up, stop whinging and suck it up.

speaking of paying for this... the financial aid director advised us to apply because she felt we were good candidates for grants. the provincial office said that we should have figures tomorrow. it would be amazing if there were funds available to us that weren't loans. if you are a praying sort any lifted for governmental generosity would be amazing. back to the books... oh and i don't mean facebook...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

because they know his voice

one of the greatest hurdles i have had to overcome in the theology of my past is the silent god theology. looking back i can see how it caused so much devastation in my soul. it is insane to think that this teaching can survive the test of the very scriptures they claim to take so literally. "my sheep hear my voice and they know me" - i can remember feeling deep within my heart that i longed to live in a time when god wasn't silent and that he must have loved those in bible times more deeply and dearly than this time because he talked with them.

it was also the time when i began to feel crazy. there were times when i knew i heard god's voice. times i fought the fears of the voice in my head and the diametrically opposed experience i was having to "the truth". many would chuck the teaching they received in church and follow the truth of the voice. i was so trained not to trust myself that i just couldn't. i blamed myself. i was the broken one. i was crazy.

psalm 23 and john 10 are working deeply in my soul right now, weaving together to replace the lies with the truth. i have blogged, journaled and written about this before - but it feels like a second pass, that my theology is being re-formed (gosh i hate that calvin got to co-opt that word!) and allowing the division i have always felt between my spiritual life and my physical life to rejoin and find healing together.

i have searched my blog for the psalm 23 i re-wrote for me personally years ago that idelette encouraged us all to write. mine was violent, angry and jagged. but so honest and expressive of where i was at that time. i am going to search again for it, through my journals so that i can see how far i've come. i think that one of the reasons that psalm 23 never resonated with me before was because i truly never felt like one of those beloved sheep. the voice and the sheep are intricately tied together. only those who can hear the shepherd's voice are those who feel like a part of the fold. i think i deeply resented that others (in biblical times, i brushed off any contemporary christians who "heard god's voice" as being delusional and skitzo and far too big for their britches, because really, who did they think they were that god would talk to them? sigh...) got to hear god's voice and i didn't.

i have been free from that ugly theology for years now, but i still hadn't allowed it to infiltrate into my reading of the bible. for too many years the bible was all i had, and it left me cold most of the time. i spent 4 years of my life devoted to learning how to rightly divide the word of truth, but all that did was make me a self-righteous know it all. i have spent the past couple of years in the gospels and finally the two are coming together - and both are healing the dry, broken places those heresies left behind.

the sacredness of many of the parts of the bible are returning to me. it has been a long, slow journey and at it's start i couldn't even imagine that it would bring it back to me. i am surprised and pleased. it's not all there and i don't know if it ever will return. i still have deep difficulties with so many parts of scripture (i even despise that word, it sounds so fundamental to my ears) - but those red letters are coming back to life for me. breathing new life into these parched places.

i am finding that my soul, my mind and my body can be friends again. it's slow, sometimes painful work, but so worth it. especially when i take a glance over my shoulder and see how very far i've come.

Friday, September 28, 2007

20 years!

liam and i celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary today. we're headed to a lovely island coastal town for the weekend and so looking forward to getting away together. happy, happy, happy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

breaking through to certainty

i have so many thoughts and ideas to write on, but so little time to do so - so today i will leave you with the conclusion of bonhoeffer's life together. i am so amazed that this whole book seems to have made so little difference in the modern church. i think it should be mandatory reading for anyone who uses the word community. i really could highlight 100 different things, but this one has so much to do with recovery and the 12 steps that i thought it needs to be here:
In confession a man breaks through to certainty. Why is it that it is often easier for us to confess our sins to God than to a brother? God is holy and sinless, He is a just judge of evil and the enemy of all disobedience. But a brother is sinful as we are. He knows from his own experience the dark night of secret sin. Why should we not find it easier to go to a brother than to the holy God? But if we do, we must ask ourselves whether we have no often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God, whether we have not rather been confessing our sins to ourselves and also granting ourselves absolution. And it is the reason perhaps for our countless relapses and the feebleness of our Christian obedience to be found precisely in the face that we are living on self-forgiveness and not a real forgiveness? Self-forgiveness can never lead to a breach with sin; this can be accomplished only by the judging and pardoning Word of God itself.
it's the part on relapses that just jumped off the page at me... lots to ponder. i can't recommend this book more highly to those in recovery or longing for community. it's only about 230 pages, but it's kicked my butt through the whole thing.

have a great day!

Monday, September 24, 2007


at least 4 humpbacks, and at least another 3 finbacks - no breaches, but an amazing day with three different humpback flags (tail waves) and incredible beauty. i had a great chance to talk to the captain of the boat and tell him of my 30 years of dreaming and we stayed out for four hours. it was a dream come true.

lots more pictures posted in my facebook and my other blog. if you prayed, thank you!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

i'm going whale watching tomorrow!

tomorrow liam and i get to fulfill a lifetime dream i've had - we're going whale watching! liam bought the tickets for me back in the spring at a silent auction for sick kids hospital. i've held on to them with trembling hands until the late season because now is the beginning of the best time to see them. we've spoken to the tour operators and they told us that they've spotted them all summer, but the babies and pods love the late season and if you can hang on until fall they're a bit more dramatic and the humpbacks return. we're also beginning the celebration of our 20 years of marriage that happens on the 28th and we'll be celebrating in bar harbor.

they've been spotting minkies, fin whales and even the rare humpback. i was disappointed to find out that the right whales are usually only visible in open water and not in the bay where we'll be tomorrow. so maybe next year we'll start off the island and head out into the deep.

many of you will remember this post of pigs, cows and whales and the older global girl meme where i stated that it was one of my top three things i wanted to do in my life.

i have been in love with whales since i was holding bake sales with my friends for greenpeace to "save the whales" - that was 1978. i never dreamed growing up in land-locked wisconsin that one day i'd live on the bay of fundy, the summer birthing area for all of these species. they are gentle and beautiful and are threatened by the development that is taking place out here. this is a dream come true.

if you are a praying type, please pray for a breaching humpback and lobtailing and slapping. i also really want to be warm enough. some of you know that i have a problem with debilitating chills. this would be a really bad time for that. i'm layering like crazy and praying that fundy fog stays far away!! will post any pictures we're able to get.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

it's YOU lydia!

gasp - out loud - stunned, complete revelation - my friend lydia just left this comment on how is jesus like bread and another penny dropped:
What came to my mind as I read your ponderings about bread - you are comparing something tangible with something intangible: a slice of buttered bread which we can see, feel and taste with our physical bodies/and Jesus who we can only experience on a spiritual level. Your question "Why did God pick these two addictive elements (bread and wine) to remember Him?" jumped right off the page at me and made me wonder if maybe it is actually the other way around - we become addicted to these substances BECAUSE they symbolize God to us and we are desperate in our need for Him.
i am so thrilled to have you in my life lydia - face to face - you are a deep, deep well! i LOVE the way your mind thinks!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

dangerous women

when the comments weren't working the other day i panicked and wanted some feedback on what i had written. i sent off two emails, one to dan brennan of faith dance, who is writing on male/female friendships and intimacy and one to one of my new friends here in my community - lydia. she and i are connecting on many different levels. this was her response (that i post here with full permission hoping that it helps others who are connecting too with these thoughts):
Thank you so much for saying you feel safe trusting your inner person with me. Those are words that mean the world to me and I will do all I can to see that trust is not broken. I wish I had some answers for you but I think this goes deeper than either of us and I think it has more to do with the society we were raised in and the whole masculine/feminine thing than it does with you (or me) personally.

I don't think that you are alone in those feelings. I think every one of us as women are battling with those same feelings in ourselves - those of us who are in touch with our feelings and are honest enough to admit them even to ourselves. And if we have been unfaithful to our true self in any way (and there is not a woman alive who has not been untrue to herself in one way or another) we find it next to impossible to ever fully trust ourselves again.

First I think we have to FULLY forgive ourselves for surviving this patriarchal world the only way we knew how, congratulate ourselves for growing enough to choose a healthier path for ourselves and then reassure ourselves that we will never HATE ourselves again - no matter what mistakes we make along the way.

Remember that every second you spend torturing yourself with these fears and concerns is time that robs you of being fully present to the beautiful life you have now and the beautiful people you have in it. LOVE YOURSELF and even love those terrible mistakes that fill you with shame now. It was all a part of finding the right path for you. And the burden of guilt rests with all of us for creating the society we live in. All we can do now is forgive ourselves, love ourselves, and do our best to make a better world for those following in our footsteps.
an email friend sent me this poem she wrote:

My Protector.

A source of external strength.
My source of internal strife.
She keeps me safe.
She threatens my life.

This physical weight.
This emotional baggage. Ties me to this earth.
Ties me to my life.
Keeps me safe.

From what, you say?
From me, I say.

The me, that given to self-discovery and indulgence
may lead me down a path I don’t want to go down.
That leads to a life of exhilaration, passion, love.

A place I long to be.
A place I cannot go.

Are we all two in one?
Does everyone need this protection like I do?
If so. Why don't they wear theirs like I do?
Where do they hide?

Me. I sink down in safety.
Warmth and safety.
Like wrapping up in a down-filled comforter.
Layers of soft, warm feathers (flesh).
Layers that cushion the blows of all their hurtful words...all my possible actions.

How do I let her go?
How do I expose myself?
How do I turn loose of my Protector?

Why do I need a Protector?
Who threatens my life?
I threaten my life.
I created my Protector in childhood.

I had no other constant by my side.
You say I did have a constant by my side?
God was by my side?
Yes. He was and is there.
My brain knows it to be so.

Ever so often my heart catches a
glimpse of his Love.

But still my heart questions.
Answers to questions I need not ask?
Questioning. To know.
To need to know.

What is it I need to know?

I need to know how to retire my Protector.

She's old. She’s heavy. She's tired.
She's holding me down, back.
I want to want her to go.
Lord, please help me let her go.

Lara N.

my friend anj left this in the comments:
This concern/fear/terror feeling of being dangerous is often part of the impact of sexual abuse as children for both women and men. It is as if we internalize that we are dangerous, as we, in our childish naivete and wanting to make the adult be ok, take on the responsibility for the abuse. In our heads, as adults, we know it is the responsibility of the abuser. In the heart and soul of the child inside, we call ourselves dangerous and bear the cost. That is why a man's admiring glance triggers shame.

I think a huge part of this damage done is the negative label it gives to being dangerous. Jesus was dangerous, and, I believe, as women of God we are called to be dangerous too. Of course, that means coming through seeing yourself as sexually dangerous.
dangerous. yes - that is truly it. dangerous. how i long to be dangerous in the way jesus was/is dangerous. now, how to get from "a" to "b" to "d" (as in dangerous, like jesus and these amazing women!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

i will fear no evil

how many times have i heard those words? i will fear no evil... 100's? 1,000's? it's one of the most familiar phrases from one of the most well known psalms - i will fear no evil. it plunged so deeply into my soul yesterday during worship that it made me gasp, then cry and then bite the inside of my cheek so hard as to stop the depth of emotion rising. i knew if i allowed it to it would have reduced me to a keening, weeping puddle on the floor.

long time readers of my blog will know that i am an addict and my two most difficult drugs of choice that i deal with are food and sex. in less than a month i will celebrate an abstinence of 8 years from the most debilitating of those behaviors. it has been an incredible 8 years. the growth and serenity (and sanity) i have been given because of this abstinence edges on to the miraculous.

there has also been a wall or a ceiling that i just cannot seem to break through though. i have been able to maintain a solid 30 lb., sometimes 40 lb. weight loss, during these 8 years. i can wear normal clothes and would be happy to be this size for the rest of my life - but that 10 lbs. limbo has such an extreme effect on me. for the past year (at least) i have been sitting with the emotions that well up in me because of this limbo.

at the 40 lb. place i feel so healthy, so good in my skin, so much more of who i find myself to be. the tipping point happens though when i am noticed. there is such a deep, quivering wounded place inside my soul that panics when that happens. i have only been conscious of it during the moment for about the past 3-4 months. previous to that i only realized it after the fact. during these past few months i have begun to identify the emotions while they are happening. i haven't really been capable (or haven't figured out how to be capable) enough to do anything about it, but i am at least conscious of it happening. there is a choice being made. i am not compulsive about it any more. and herein lies the rub. this is why these posts on bread have become so important to me.

i know when i am taking that first bite that i am choosing to comfort myself apart from my daily provision or allow myself to be inconsolable. the panic is so great deep within me that nothing matters except replacing those pounds that keep me invisible.

i have told hope, and talked with liam, and even shared last week at my OA group that this is my greatest fear - but i don't remember if i've ever written about it here. somewhere deep within me i am terrified, and yes, terrified is the right word, that i am going to slip sexually. not just in the hidden, private way i used to participate in my addiction, but publicly, exploding and imploding all that i love and hold dear.

i know this is so deeply rooted in who i believe myself to be that any time i begin to feel sexual, sexy or even feminine i crash. and liam and i have spoken of this candidly and it's not usually in the context of our marriage and sexual life, it seems to live outside of me/us. something is broken, something i believe to be true deep in my soul is a lie, someplace in me has been crushed and wounded and shamed so deeply that i am unable to believe anything else to be true.

somehow i have convinced myself that i am like a dog in heat - that any offer i am given will be acted upon and i will wreck everything. i know in my head that this is probably highly unlikely, but in the terrified place in my soul i doubt the truth with all of my being.

this is fine when i am house mom and only in community when it's safe, but life is opening up before me now and the level of terror i feel is palpable. i have sat with these emotions and the reassurances of my best friends and husband that i am not this woman for months now but the fear still causes me to zip on that parka of fat and project a person to the world who is unnoticeable and safe.

the slightest comment, even from a stranger can send me into a tailspin. crossing the border on friday i was just sitting in the volvo alone, reading bonhoeffer and minding my own business and a 60 year old man was crossing in the opposite direction on the bridge. i hear "hello gorgeous" and look up to see he is talking to me. it was sweet and put a smile on my face, but in the back recesses of my mind it started to erode me again. maybe i should just return to that no-makeup, disheveled sweatpants wearing woman i used to be so that i can navigate society as invisibly as possible. maybe doing my hair, wearing bright colors and looking my best is me somehow seeking attention that is wrong.

how can so many of my beautiful female friends looks so sexy, wonderful and confident all of the time and not be riddled with insecurity, shame and confusion like i am? i leave the house feeling so good about myself now and then bam, someone says something like this and i am so confused.

this community is also a wonderful place of real friendship. interaction with my peers and deep conversations abound, many of them with men, or couples and it fills something deep within me. i love my new friends, and i am loved within this community. people think big thoughts here and we have some incredible times of connection. it's so much of what i have ever wanted - but it terrifies me. i have never had true male friendships before like i have here. the church culture i was raised with forbid male/female friendships and i was told repeatedly that they were dangerous.

i was dangerous. the messages that i have been programmed with through ugly theology, abuse and misogyny have rendered me incapable of trusting myself in community. i am so broken. and bread has been my comfort. that 5 lbs. of safety somehow has made me more able to engage. but i know soon 5 lbs. won't be enough. no bread will be enough. this will escalate and my serenity and abstinence will have been lost if i don't connect these dots.

one dot was connected for me during worship yesterday. we sang an unfamiliar song and those are always good for me to engage me in new thought as i read the lyrics. one of the lines was so familiar - but fresh and new all the same. (living and active possibly???) i will fear no evil. i am not a dog in heat. i have and will be able to continue to say no to things that are not good for me. fearing some kind of affair or escapade is not helpful to my serenity. i will fear no evil. god is with me - now - and will be with me if and when some very unlikely offer was ever made that my mind has me exploding my life with. i will fear no evil. living a life not manipulated by fear is where i want to be. just for today i will fear no evil.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

bread for the world

more thoughts on bread...

Hulling My Heart...Making Room for a Dream

Today in an early morning dream I was addressed by a voice. It asked, "What are you doing?" and I answered, "I am hulling my heart."

The voice asked, "Why?" and I answered, "I have need of a hulled heart."

I awoke, as I have so often this year, knowing that in my sleep I was at work on my life, convinced that if I dug in its soil long enough, deep enough, it would yield me a liberating truth. Is that truth in the metaphor 'hulled heart'?

I think only of pulling off the green leaves of strawberries that the fruit may be eaten. But hulling means more than that. We strip corn and peas of husks and pods to reach the inner fruit. What are the hard, protective casings around my heart that must be stripped away to reach the hidden grain? What must I give up to lie all bare and exposed like peas in a pod or corn on a cob? What are the wrappings that keep the essence of my life from becoming bread for the world?

Elizabeth O'Connor


Friday, September 14, 2007

it's official

well, minus the financial transactions liam and i are officially enrolled to begin our masters degrees as of today. it hardly seems real. i have been up to my eyeballs in amazon searches, used books and tons of reading. we're doing the module program here, even though we're local it is the best alternative for our family and liam's work. lots of reading and writing on our own and the first of the two weeks intensives in october. i'll be blogging this from my 'named' blog instead of here, but i just wanted to explain in case things drop off severely due to the fact that i should (even now) have my face firmly planted in a book (non-fiction, ugh) :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

trading my inheritance for a bowl of stew

my friend here not knowing anything about the place i am in writing on this blog lent me a book yesterday to read a chapter on sabbath & food - she knows of my struggle, but did not know her timing was so perfect. it's called The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan and in chapter eleven, "Feast - Stopping to Taste the Kingdom" he makes some profound points about our relationship to food as Christ followers.

he begins by telling a story about watching girls on a ride called "the mad hatter", three enjoying it and one turning greener and more ill with every go-round. she eventually was sick. he writes:

"That happened a long time ago, but I've never forgotten it. I wish I could. It's become a kind of metaphor for me, that Whirligig, that Mad Hatter. It's become a symbol of the power of amusement to make us sick. Pleasure can be like that: a thing that spins you round and round, faster and faster. Some people enjoy it immensely, at least for short bursts.

They lean into it.

Others aren't doing so well.

Of all the ways our culture spins us dizzy, its obsession with food is one of the most glaring."

he then quotes Dorothy Bass, "Without a fast, It's hard to recognize a feast."

it is his contention that the sabbath was made for feasting, and because we feast continually in our culture we are rarely able to celebrate the sabbath because we are so stuffed all of the time that we are never truly hungry. he then unpacks about 4-5 stories about food and people, some of them biblical. the conclusion he draws from the story about the jesus and the women at the well and his solution to this is off for me. i was really tracking with him up to that point, but i don't believe that when jesus tells the disciples after his interaction at the well that 'he has food they know nothing of and it's to do the work of his father' that work is the solution to over-eating. i have seen work abused and traded for eating, even the good work of god - my own husband stands as evidence for this, and i too can loose myself in the work of god much to the abandonment of the present i am called to.

but it did broaden the breadth of my thinking on this. buchanan ends each chapter with a sabbath litury and in this one he uses the story of esau and jacob and what he wrote didn't pull at me as much as just thinking about that story in the context of my own story. what am i trading for my inheritance? how is food becoming more important to me than what is truly precious? how can being hungry and doing without teach me more than being full and stuffed to the gills? i know that i have "misplaced hunger" and an "appetite gone awry" - so today i am thinking about my "mess of pottage" and what i'm trading it for.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

how is jesus like bread?

it has been far too long since i have sat here with time, without interruption and with the level of emotion and depth of thought i have here today. i have put so much into this for the past couple of weeks. like i said in the posts below, this just will not let me go. i know there is a key here that will unlock something for me that i have yet to understand.

as a compulsive overeater i have found/find comfort, safety, friendship, solace, energy, consolation and satisfaction in food. it is a sick, twisted relationship that is broken at it's most basic level. food for me has been used to replace or fill those broken things in me and my world that little else could seem to come close to. and no other food for me more than bread. i have given up chocolate for almost 8 years now, and added sugar for probably about 5, but a life without bread is unimaginable for me. it's not about the carbs (well, not only about the carbs) or the affect this has on my physical body because there is something deeply emotional about this that i just can't seem to figure out how this all weaves together.

comparing jesus, not communion, the lords supper or the eucharist to bread just pulled at me like little else. i knew that there was a deeper truth here that i wasn't understanding. i'm not sure i do even yet, but i'm praying that as i type things become more real and i am given a clearer understanding of why this is so 'elemental' for me.

to those who commented and posted, thank you - your thoughts are precious to me, your involvement so meaningful. and it has helped me think in ways and from perspectives i had not considered. i have always stumbled through my thoughts on 'communion' because it consists of two substances that my addictive nature is wary of. bread and wine. i have never been an active alcoholic, but know that if given the chance to make that choice i would abuse alcohol in the same way i can abuse food. why then did god pick these two addictive elements to remember him?

the nature of the communion elements - bread and wine - is truly transformational - such simple, basic ingredients - grain and grapes - squished, ground and pulverized into something they were not before - reduced to their most primitive state and then such small efforts and time turn them miraculously into something they were not before. and such lovely things. a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou... is this not what the best of life is made of?

erin brought up the idea of the bread coming from the grain being ground - i began to think that bread cannot be bread without violence and transformation. the mortar and pestle crushing, the muscles kneading, the deep heat of the oven baking - you can smell it, can't you? is there a better smell in the world? maybe the top of a baby's head, but little else can compare. your mouth begins to water. your stomach begins to growl. butter, homemade jam or peanut butter? what can compare?

how is jesus like bread? how can i find such mouth-watering satisfaction in the person of christ? i have been pondering this for days. i wrote above "comfort, safety, friendship, solace, energy, consolation and satisfaction in food jesus." that is true in my head, but in my heart i know it to be different. i would rather turn to a buttered piece of bread in an emotional crisis than i would to turn to prayer. i live this out. if prayer, regular prayer, not the sublime moments i have from time to time, filled me like this i wouldn't be where i am. how do i make the true, real transition from that first bite to finding these things truly in jesus?

being empty physically is terrifying for me sometimes. the absence of physical form of jesus being like bread just doesn't seem to fill the void like chewing bread does. the picture hope used of using wonder bread to fill the cracks in our selves was so powerful for me. it was so visual. i loathe wonder bread - sliced white processed bread isn't ever what i'm looking for - i want the loaf, the kind you have to saw through - that's the real thing that does it for me - but i know most of my childhood was patched up with wonder bread. but the missing link memory isn't there yet.

i made the emotional connection to many of the binge foods i have struggled with in the past - understanding why a certain food is so powerful helps me so much. raw cookie dough was an instant link to my maternal grandmother. when she came to visit things at home were good - my parents were attentive, grandma was so comforting - i associated that feeling with that gross, disgusting binge food. i ate more raw eggs and butter in a month than should ever be consumed in a lifetime. when i understood this i was able to set it aside. i can have those wonderful memories and understand them now without needing the food to make me feel. i can't seem to find that link with bread yet.

my mom didn't make bread, i don't think i can associate it with anything yet, but i know it's there - and i know that when i am able to understand it more fully it will have less power over me. so how is jesus like bread?

tying communion into this complicates it for me - i know that is a huge part, but i think the metaphor is bigger than just communion. he never said "i am the wine of life" - but he did say, apart from communion:

John 6:48-51 - "I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread-living Bread!-who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live-and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self."

i think that this plays into some bad theology that i need to re-form. the "get out of jail free" kind of christianity i was raised with concerned itself only with conversion and the glory of heaven one day - and the in-between real life and kingdom were non-existent. our real lives didn't start until heaven. we were just putting in time and making more converts, just dying to have that rapture and get on with it already. i now believe that this 'live-and forever!' means NOW, HERE AND NOW.

so how is this 'bread of life' giving me life today? how can it satisfy me at the most basic of times when i am feeling exposed or unsafe? it just doesn't seem to comfort me like a mouthful of buttered bread. (just being completely honest here). dang. i had hoped that by typing it would all magically fall into place. i still don't get it - it still feels just a tad beyond the reach of my fingers - but i'm sitting in the tension of not knowing. of not fully understanding yet.

erin also mentioned that "'Aysh' is the Arabic word for both bread and life." and patchouli reminded me that "Christ as bread--it reminds me of manna in the desert. Pure, daily, just right to nourish us--and we have taken that and turned it into "Wonder Bread" filling, but without the nourishment. I want manna from Heaven."

manna is part of this too - and it is LIFE - and it is trans-cultural. provision is there if i take it, i know. i can be full without being stuffed, but somehow it just doesn't seem to translate yet. manna for the day. too much taken gets moldy the next day. just for today... enough.

jesus goes on to say:

John 6:53-58 "But Jesus didn't give an inch. "Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always."

a hearty appetite - who more than the alcoholic and compulsive overeater has this hearty appetite? i know it is meant to be filled and satiated with far more than our drugs of our choice though. i know this is settling for bait instead of a feast. i'm tired of bait. i loathe the counterfeit. i long for the "meal of christ" he speaks of here. i just can't seem to truly find it's equal in this temporary place in between.

the satisfaction and completion i long for hasn't yet been found in communion with christ. all that is within me wants it to be true, but i can't honestly say that i'm there yet. and i feel so inadequate - why? am i fundamentally discontent? insatiable? i truly do not know. i pray it is just that my understanding is lacking. that the penny hasn't dropped yet. that what seems just out of my reach will one day be grasped. until then i will be sitting with this, living in the tension and begging for god to make this real and understandable to me.

my not-yet-met friend steve tells of a sacred communion time here (thank you steve, this still makes me tear up when i think about it): Thoughts on Commuion, Jesus as Bread