Thursday, March 27, 2014

Listening

This is a multiple-choice test. Pick the best response to these scenarios:

1) Two women are having lunch. One says to the other, "I feel like I'm in a whole different world than my friends. They're talking about the thread count of their sheets and the best place to buy quality towels. I get my sheets and towels on sale at Fred Meyer!"

A) Fred Meyer? I get my sheets and towels at Bi-Mart!

B) At least you get new sheets and towels, you should see MINE!

C) Tell me more about feeling like you're in a whole different world.



2) Two friends are having coffee. One says to the other, "I'm really worried about my son. He's not acting like himself. He's angry, sullen, I wonder if he's using drugs."

A) That reminds me of my friend whose son was on drugs and he....

B) At least your son is in college. My son is...

C) Tell me more about what's going on.



3) Two friends are on the phone. One says to the other, "I'm losing it. I can't remember anything, I'm not sleeping well, my heart is racing all the time, I feel like I can't even breathe."

A) Me, too! Let me tell you all about the symptoms I'm having, they're much worse than yours!

B) At least you're rich.

C) Tell me more.


How'd you do?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Christmas Card

I have a dear friend named Laurie. Actually, I have more than one dear friend named Laurie, so, for this post, let's call her Laurie G. I love Laurie G. and everything about Laurie G. Laurie G. is pee-your-pants-funny, and not enough can be made of someone that makes you pee your pants laughing. Laurie G. is a homemaker to the nth degree, she puts me to shame in all regards.

She, however, does not, and never has, sent out Christmas cards.

I know this about her, and in fact, admire it. I recently dreamed that she had me over to her home, and she pulled me into the hall to show me 135 beautifully "wrapped" Christmas cards. Each and every card was inserted into one of those drawstring fabric bag thingies like this:


Though she never said it, I knew that not one of the 135 beautifully bagged cards, was for me. I wasn't asking to be named in her will, but out of 135 people, I didn't make the list? I was hurt. I was crushed, actually.

I woke up the next morning and e-mailed Laurie G., told her about the dream, and that I couldn't stop being pissed and hurt by her slight. She laughed (of course) and wanted me to probe deeper into the dream. Of course, the dream has nothing to do with Laurie G., but parts of myself that I slight, that I do not "gift."

I've let her know in the weeks following the dream, that I'm still a little pissed. Really, 135 people and I'm not ONE?

Last night I saw Laurie G. and she handed me this:


I about peed my pants, and then I opened it and found this:

(It says: Every day is Christmas when I'm with you!
All love,
Laurie)

I'm feeling much better.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dragging


For some reason, I'd never heard this Zen proverb until just a few days ago. Now, naturally, I'm obsessed with it. That kind of defeats the whole purpose, as obsession comes from attachment, and to let go and not be dragged, one must free oneself from attachment.

One thing I spend a lot of time doing, but not a lot of time writing about, is transporting my mother-in-law to and from the doctor. I sit in with her during her appointments, and for the most part, keep track of what's what.

We go to the same clinic over and over and we're not the only ones. Three floors of waiting rooms are filled with mostly the geriatric crowd. What seems to be happening, is they are spending the time they have left on this planet, in search of a cure that will stop them from dying.

Eckhart Tolle says, "The secret to life is to die before you die." Just another way of saying we, eventually, are forced to let go, to "die," and the sooner the better. We all know the feeling, the anxiety, the futility of holding on - of being "dragged," because the fear of letting go is so powerful.

Terry Whitaker, The Truth Teller, and I, have been talking a lot about how to go about that - how to die before you die. We think it starts with self-awareness. I believe that unless we have someone(s) that serve as "grit" in our life, to brush up against us, challenge us, really refine our own understandings of ourselves, then it's very difficult to die before you die. This, of course, is no fun at all, and would explain why most of us avoid it all costs.

Let go.

Or, be dragged.








Friday, March 14, 2014

Eventiently

As I said, I've been laboring over 1% problems such as pillow choices, trying to bring some new color and life into my house. I believe that everything has energy/qi. The qi in my house needed to move. We are a couple of over-fifty-somethings and a couple of late teenagers. Our house needed to reflect a different era of our life.

Down went all the school-age art.

Down went all the family portraits.

Down went all the pastel colors.

Out went to tired, dirty, cheap and wrong-to-begin-with, carpet.

Slowly, slowly, and I mean slowly, we've been re-shaping it. The paint took months to choose, the carpet, even longer. This whole process has moved much slower than I would prefer, yet at the same time, I have felt it's moved along at just the right pace. I am one to act in haste, repent at leisure. One to measure once, cut twice. Hang a picture just eyeballing it, then have three or four holes behind the picture because I wouldn't take 2 minutes to measure.

A word Wil uses all the time, and it makes me smile each time, is "eventiently." He means eventually, but he never pronounces it that way. "I'll do it, eventiently," he'll say. Today he told me that his friend, Lauren, was going to bring him an ice water from Starbucks when she went to get herself a white chocolate mocha. "But you know Lauren," he said, "she might forget. Eventiently she'll remember."

"Eventiently" has been the theme around here.

One thing that did not take any time at all to decide upon, was the plan to commission our friend, Candace, to do a painting for us. Candace has the perfect pairing of degrees: art and theology. Her art is infused with prayer, with love, and indeed, miracles. Things "show up" when she paints - surprising even herself. We knew that whatever she ended up with, would be just perfect for us, and it is.



My photography "skills" don't do this work-of-art justice. You probably can't see the faint Hail Mary written in there, nor the Buddhist temple, nor the Buddha, the Lady of Guadalupe, a Chinese symbol, the Holy Family, the blue angel with white wings, the glowing Mary and more. Believe me, they are there. 

Eventiently, more will be revealed.

Eventiently, more is always revealed.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chop that Wood, Carry Water

)

I've written, or tried to write, rather, several blog posts lately, then deleted them. Just not coming together. I'm better suited to go to Cost Plus World Market on a frequent basis, and spend my energies debating on pillows for the living room.

I'm in a place where I am very content chopping wood and carrying water. The mundane, repetitive, "brainless" tasks of the day, fill me up. It's nice spending hours in quiet with time to let my mind wander, better yet, be still.

My Lenten goal to give up worrying has not been 100% successful, but if I worry even 20% less than I had been, then I will consider that a step in the right direction. I read recently (sorry, can't remember where) that worry is an act of defiance. It's a loss of faith.

Did you know that a recent study shows 21% of all Americans believe faith is unimportant? I find that statistic shocking and depressing. I understand all the valid reasons to be fed up with organized religion, but to have nothing at all to believe in? No faith, and thus, in my opinion, no hope? Wow.

I just learned WIL OF GOD is being considered for an award given to a book that either illuminates, progresses, or redirects thought. I am deeply honored. It's funny, because just as I was deleting yet another post because I didn't have the oomph to hit the same points I feel like I make all the time,  notification of my book's consideration, popped in my inbox. Say it with me, there are no accidents.

So, I guess if I can in any way illuminate, progress, or redirect your thoughts on faith, then I will get my ass out of Cost Plus and back in the writing chair.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spread the Word to End the WORDS


Years and years ago when we were in the brainstorming and dreaming big phase of creating a program for Wil when he entered high school, we said we'd love to see the day he could go on the same 3-day spiritual retreat Woohoo had so greatly benefited from. It seemed like a long shot. At that point he'd never slept away from home except for Grandma's. What, when and where would he eat? When and where would he sleep? When and where would he ___________, _____________, and ____________? It was mind boggling to think about, yet, we continued to hold that up as a dream to one day realize.

Fast forward to this year. Wil is in a program that is in its third year of operation. The kids he started out with are now juniors - the year the school typically takes kids on the 3-day retreat. The decision was made to take all of the kids in his program on the same retreat, rather than splitting them up throughout the year. It made the most sense to the program to have them all be gone at the same time, and the staff could be made more available to assist if they were all together.

Word caught on that this group would be attending, and spaces quickly filled amongst the "typicals." They knew it would be a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Staff and student helpers were enlisted. I had e-mail exchanges, one-on-one meetings and phone calls for months prior to the retreat. All the what-and-whens were addressed, down to the very last detail. I couldn't have dreamed of better "customer service." I could and would go on and on, but the details of the retreat are to be kept secret and sacred, as to make the experience special for each new group attending. I will leave you with the the simple fact that if I'd made a list of everything he wanted and needed, then padded the list times 10, it wouldn't have come close to how perfect blessed it was.

One of the very best things about the retreat, was the under-statement of the fact that this was the first one of its kind. Before, during and after, it was not a "thing." 60 juniors went on a retreat, and several of them just happened to have learning differences. It gave me great hope that there is a dawning of a new day. My dream is that one day it will be as politically incorrect and unimaginable to point out which percent of a group is "special," as it is to point out which percent is gay, of any particular race, or any other marginalizing distinction.

Tomorrow is the national Spread-the-Word-to-End-the-Word Day. Let's grab hands, sing "Kumbaya," and pledge to end all words that are disparaging, hurtful, hateful, and create division.


Monday, March 3, 2014

All Shall Be Well


“All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Julian of Norwich (ca. 1342–ca. 1416), in her Showings.
I've been giving a lot of thought and time during prayer, on what I want to do during this upcoming Lenten season. At Mass on Sunday I was seated next to a friend, someone I've known a long time, but not as well as I'd like. The homily was based on the readings of the Gospel, my favorite verse being Matthew 6:34: "So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."When we were getting ready to leave the church I turned to my friend and asked, "So, what are you thinking about giving up for Lent?" She answered, "Well, after that, I'm thinking I should give up worry!""That's exactly what I was thinking," I said. We made a pact right then and there to do it together, to turn it all over for 40 days, agreeing that if we missed it, we could pick it right back up after Easter."Don't borrow trouble" is a favorite expression of mine and one I'm quick to offer others, when so clearly that is exactly what they're doing. It's almost as though we believe we are jinxing ourselves without expression of every possible way things could go sideways. And while I believe in the futility of "borrowing trouble," I'm prone to do it myself, mostly out of habit.They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I've got 40+. I not only have enough time to break a habit, I've got time to spare.Breaking from the habit of worry is really a practice of mindfulness, being in the moment, and only in the moment, actively and attentively. When worry begins to creep in, I am going to chant the mantra, "All shall be well."I cannot imagine that I'll be excited to wake up Easter morning and commence with a full day of worrying, to make up for lost time.All shall be well.