Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Hmmmm. Are you talking about me? I wonder. It is a confusing time as I well know there are people who blog about their personal lives in infinite detail and enter into many a ‘conversation’ without aforethought to crossing personal boundaries. Still, I sit back and listen to my peers—some old, some new—discuss this topic that is heartfelt to me. One newcomer tiptoes into the dialogue stating that their spouse does a bit of blogging about their family—principally posting new pictures of their child and momentous occasions such as graduation. Another suggests possibly putting controls onto that blog so that only invited guests can see what has been posted.
I have heard this conversation before. It is a recurring theme and an important one to consider. I stay silent for this one. A trusted colleague who knows my heart (& my blog) smiles at me from across the room. I cannot imagine limiting who can or cannot read what I choose to post. I think of all of the life and connection I would have missed had I not chosen to “go public” and open myself up to the world around me. Neither can I imagine posting about details of my life which I consider too intimate or mundane to be spread across the blogosphere.
I consider what it would be like for a student to see that my dog has died or that I am having a bad day or a good one. For them to consider that I have struggles and joys. That I am married and have children and go on road trips alone. What if they found out that I am (yikes) HUMAN? Oh my, would that be the end of our professional relationship? I wonder about all of this because we are asking students to be more authentic and be in touch with who they are and what brings them alive. How can we ask them to do something we are not willing to do ourselves? Somehow I see my most authentic self coming out on these pages. Still I do not hand out my website or make a big deal about this space and my alter ego gets all of the credit ☺, but if someone were to run across this page by accident…I wonder…
"mesa is new to the brace-face look...she wasn't too happy when she had to get "grills" last month and is still adjusting. on sunday, after taking communion at church, she leaned over and whispered to me "mom...jesus just got stuck in my braces." try staying reverent at that moment."
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
wishing you your own glorious, magical week! i leave you with this thought:
by his way of attending to things,
what sort of universe
he shall appear to himself to inhabit.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
1. i have a bachelor's degree in accounting.
2. i grew up in bethany, oklahoma.
3. i love to be in bed by 8:00 p.m. or at least in my p.j.s by then.
4. i prefer popcorn & tortilla chips over chocolate.
5. i am the youngest of 3 children from a middle class family.
6. vanilla milkshakes win out over chocolate every time.
my low energy level (& my rebellious nature) keep me from tagging the requisite six bloggers, so you're on your own to decide if you want to play. please let me know if you do!! thanks for the fun, patty!
photo found here at flickr
Saturday, September 20, 2008
You Are the Guru
You are a naturally good counselor. You are inspiring, encouraging, and compassionate.
You are eager to help everyone who crosses your path, even those who don't want to be helped.
You are a natural healer. People feel at peace when they are with you.
You are so good for people, in fact, that they go through withdrawal once you're gone.
You quietly do your own thing, without openly resisting. You secretly try to fix every problem.
Your biggest regret is not being able to help as many people as you'd like.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
This past week I was blessed with such an honor as friends joined together to help me celebrate my birthday. At the risk of tooting my own horn or Never #4 "boasting of my own accomplishments" (even though I'm not sure being born is considered an accomplishment), I wanted to share the tender words sent to me by a very precious woman.
9.11.08 "On this most blessed of days not too many years ago, a beautiful baby was brought into this world. No one really knew what her path would be, especially this child who had many 'parents' in her Mom & Dad as well as her much older siblings, to guide her path with right & wrong, good enough or not, proper life path, direction, whew! Enough to wear a kid out!
But inside this shiny star, her truth waited for her, patiently. And this girl, young woman, woman, grew & grew and even when she smiled and followed a path not of her choosing, something inside simmered and waited. Through rocky paths and broken promises and choices that hurt her heart. Through the trials and thrills of children, the joy and frustration of marriage, she bravely marched. And inside, still, something asking questions, something waiting to burst forth. And to her great surprise, through the toughest period of her life, the path of destruction and resurrection of her son, came IT. A path that was created and worked on and walked by herself, Lucy, and no matter the hurdles thrown up, inside or outside, She knew, finally and forever, that she is of great value to this world, and what she offers and puts forth is pure and lovely.
And she is loved by her friends and the people whose lives she touches every day. And that feeling in her gut? Well, that's a belly laugh that is full of hope and very contagious! And she spreads that feeling with her heart and her voice and her eyes.
That is my birthday story of Lucy, and I'm stickin to it! I wish for you a day of belly laughs, surprises and knowing that you are loved, by many, including me. :) signed by "Precious"
mixed media collage by lucy
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Now imagine this…a little scooter next to a giant smelly garbage truck. Now close your eyes and take a big whiff. Can you smell it? Nice, huh? So, what do you think my instinct was? To get away from the garbage, of course! And so we played this cat and mouse game for a couple of stoplights until I found myself giggling to realize the imagery (& reality) that I was 'racing the garbage.'
Oh, what a metaphor for life!!! Isn’t that what we do all of the time? Race around trying to get away from the garbage!! Sometimes we feel as tiny as a scooter next to a mammoth pile of you-know-what and we go to great lengths to get away from it rather than consider “smelling” things in a new way. And my giggles? Well, I decided to enjoy the sunshine and laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation rather than putting myself in harms way or letting the “smell” ruin my day. I am still chuckling and I have an amazing collage brewing in my mind ☺. hee hee hee.
So, what garbage are you racing today? How will you choose to smell it? Plug your nose? Inhale deeply? Laugh?
I hope you have a grand week. I will be off doing my Soltura thing. I have a couple of posts that will pop up over the next few days, so please stop by. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to respond to comments until I am back, but I will be reading them so please say “hi!”
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Clutching tightly not one has fallen
So many years I've shaped each one
Reflecting my heart showing who I am”
Yesterday I wrote about being alive and inside that post were many questions about what holds me back. This morning as I awakened really early I could feel the promptings of the still small voice. I lay in bed with images of art and activities pouring through my mind. Finally I surrendered to the morning and got out of my cozy bed even though it was still pitch dark outside. I gathered my journal and tiptoed downstairs so as not to wake my sleeping husband and then I began to write. The lists of the day tumbled onto the paper mixed in with all of those questions of why I hold back when it comes to art—to MY art.
I have great plans. I have books to help me, supplies to use, ideas in abundance, but still I wait. “It will be a waste of time.. money…effort.” And then there is the flip side of the story. I am impatient. I want to hurry the process…to get to the end result and not let the art create me. Yikes! Sometimes I feel like such a mess!!
And so, I wrote and wrestled and this little voice kept saying, “Go paste the page onto the board.” (Several weeks ago I bought new supplies for creating and have tentatively been considering working with them. The board has been painted in a couple of colors and a few days ago I started considering adding text.) In the midst of all of my wrestling was another train of thought to “practice saying yes”--a theme I have been enjoying in Patti Digh’s new book. So, even while I am writing about “saying yes” I am ignoring the prompts to “paste the text on the board”. I am saying “no” to my art—again! And then God in all of her creative graciousness prompted me a little more directly—my pen ran out of ink—my last words being, “Go paste the page…” ☺
Now God gets even pushier here. I went to the book that I have designated as my “practice” pages (i.e. I can tear it up with great abandon.) It is a really heady book (not), called “The Devil in the Junior League.” ☺ I recalled it contained a few lists and since lists seem to be a theme for me these days I hopped right on it. Not paying much regard to the list content, I tore out a page and then pared it down to a manageable size and began to apply acrylic medium. When I flipped it over to paste the back, this is what I found:
“Unwilling to share any of that, I launched into the points that my mother and the charming women at Little Miss Debutante had drummed into my head, otherwise known as the Four Nevers:
1. Never dominate a conversation.
2. Never speak in a voice that can be heard more than three feet away.
3. Never do anything that anyone would notice if they were more than three feet away.
4. Never boast of your accomplishments.”
It might as well have included one more that said, “NEVER MAKE ART!” It was like all of the voices of my past (and evidently present) were rolled into one and printed on that page that I had chosen “by accident.” And so, after a few deep breaths, a couple of tears and a good laugh with God, I tiptoed back upstairs to get my computer so I could record this little encounter (and capture the words of “the page”, because you never know what may happen next with that little piece of art.)
And, the promptings did not end there, of course!! My computer screensaver is a nifty little thing that randomly displays album covers from my i-tunes list. I noticed a cover by Barlow Girl and wondered what music she sings. (I have lots of music given to me and rarely do I remember artists or song titles unlike my dear husband who can recall every song he has heard since 1960 ☺.) So, I found Barlow Girl’s one song I own and it, of course, is titled “Surrender.” Need I say more?
I would love to hear your response to my morning’s events or even better your own encounters and wrestlings with the inner critic, God, art, whatever! Or maybe you would like to share your personal “Four Nevers?” I hope you will say, "Yes!"
photos from pere lachaise cemetary--paris, 2.08
Saturday, September 13, 2008
What does it take for us to believe that being alive is the special occasion? That each day is a gift—each moment? That I am special? That my wrinkles have been earned? My body has been well worn? That I am fortunate to be getting out of bed each day—aches, pains and all?
So, what gets in my way? Mind chatter. Laziness. Ego. Outside and inside messages. I let it happen. I let another’s attitude dampen my day. I allow too little sleep to make me tired and cranky. I buy in to the voices in my head that I often don’t even hear speaking.
Why don’t I put myself out there? What keeps me from creating? From stepping into the process? Lots of the time I won’t allow myself to enjoy the process of art making. I jump to focusing on the end result. It won’t be valued. What will I do with it? There’s no room to store it. It’s a waste of time…resources…money…blah blah blah.
Forget about the end result! It is a process. Just like life. Just like my blogs. When I focus on "productivity," I make my own destiny, because I worry about the end results. Again, what will others think? And so I don’t even put anything out there and then of course readers quit stopping by. I quit creating and the world—the universe—one person even has lost the opportunity…And, there I go again jumping to the outcome. I don’t know what happens when I don’t create.
Do I know what happens when I do create? I am learning I really don’t KNOW much of anything. Wonder if I can be o.k. with that? Will I allow myself to go with the process rather than focusing on the end result (which I can't determine anyway)!?!??!? I sure hope so, because one thing I do know is that being alive is the special occasion!
Now go on, get out there and be alive!!!
Friday, September 12, 2008
The sun was shining in its perfect Seattle 70 plus degree way, just calling for the convertible top to be down. A friend visited without knowing it was my birthday. We had overnight company, great conversation, etc. regardless that it was Sept. 11. I love my life!! I love that I know who I am. I love my family—all of them—frustrating as they can be!! Just a minute ago, my husband looked at me and said, “You have good friends.” No doubt about that!
I have friends who sent me text messages at 5:45 a.m. Friends who begged to be first in wishing me happy birthday. People who sang when they really cannot sing—and it was lovely!!! Gifts arrived in the mail. Breakfast was shared with a soul sister. “Guys” sent me flowers and brought me wine. Cards. Gifts. Messages. Oh my goodness. Ask and you shall receive. Thank you thank You thank you!!! I don’t know what else to say, except that I feel extremely blessed and not an ounce of sadness resonates that I am a year older.
Who could ask for anything more?
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
So, here I sit on the eve of 9-11, as it has come to be called, and consider what one does when their birthday has been “hijacked”. What do you do when the date of your birth is associated with pain and mourning for the country…for the whole world even? When celebrating seems like heresy? When people hear your birth date and groan? When they say, “Oh, I could never forget that birthday” and then they do.
My friend & talented writer, Peggy, wrote a very poignant story a few years ago about Sammy—a 7 year old who doesn’t understand why he can’t have cupcakes at school on his birthday of September 11. It is a story to which I can totally relate, because if you haven’t figured it out…my birthday is 9-11 ☺.
I struggle a little with what to write here. The therapist in me has lots of deep analysis of what this all means. The magical thinking of a child and my own personal ego kick into play and say the Twin Towers crashed because of me. Yikes! Do other people’s minds go off in crazy directions like that? Add to this the fact that my father died in a truck accident the day after my 19th birthday and you have a whole lot of crashing going on around my special day. So, it’s no wonder I have some pretty strong feelings surrounding these days! (Fortunately I have amazing support & years of therapy under my belt or I could really be “off to the races” on this one! ☺)
There is so much “stuff” that surrounds our birthdays anyway. People seem to either love birthdays, hate them or pretend that they do neither. If you really think about it, however, doesn’t the kid in each of us really appreciate a little celebration? A little recognition? (And, in case, you are shaking your head and saying, “Nope. Not me.” The therapist in me would challenge you to ask yourself why you feel that way ☺. What kind of “stuff” surrounds your birthday?) So, why do I write this post? It is not for a pity party, because I don’t feel pitiful. Maybe it is just my own way to say, “Happy Birthday” to myself and to even agree with Sammy’s dad that yeah, even though the Twin Towers did not crash to punish me, it “really pisses me off” that they had to crash at all, much less on MY day!
9-11 is a day of notoriety and in my own sweet selfish Lucy way, I want it to be all about me. However, the more compassionate and thoughtful Me commiserates with our country and grieves the tragedy that this day remembers. (The Painted Painted Prayerbook had a thoughtful post earlier this week which you might enjoy.)
I am very blessed to have a wonderful group of supportive friends who have chosen to celebrate 9-11 a couple of ways. They have set the goal of each home and business displaying a flag tomorrow to represent unity. In addition, they have committed to light a birthday candle for yours truly. I hope you will consider doing the same. I plan to ☺.
p.s. I hope you will come back tomorrow and wish me a real "Happy Birthday"!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
I have a new schedule. Two groups of students to meet with individually (17 in all—double what I have done in the past). My birthday is this week. What shall I do for that? I have two workshops in the next two weeks. There are two soccer teams to put on my calendar. The high school calendar arrived yesterday with more dates to fill. My husband is confirming his “away” dates. My daughter has a complicated schedule that I often need to be involved in. I still miss my dog.
Time seems to be filling up. Precious time. Precious space that I cherish. And I cherish the moments that I spend doing the things I love. Being with friends. Being with family. Being with students. All good stuff, you know? I am someone who cherishes solitude AND I am energized by my work. I consider myself a balanced person. I find myself irritated with people who say, “I don’t have time for…solitude, writing, play, you fill in the blank.” And here I sit with my heart pounding and my mind racing because my list is so full.
And then I have to smile, because God is so great. I opened up my morning devotional and today’s title was “Too Full”. Hmmm. Sounds like I’m not alone ☺. And that really irritates me, because today I don’t want to be the cliché. I don’t want to be like everybody else. I don’t want to be ‘too full’ of stuff! I want my nice little serene existence. Ha!
This definitely feels like a season. It all comes back to me now. It is the beginning of the school year with checks to write and calendars to coordinate. It is a new beginning and I love new beginnings. So, for now I think I will breathe deeply, make a list of things that must be done. Attempt to enjoy this season rather than just get through it. I am grateful. I am grateful for so much and even if I find just 10 minutes for solitude today, it will be enough. I will be enough. Amen.
This is why I love writing…I have just talked myself down from the ledge and remembered all of those little spaces of quiet and serenity I have reserved for myself (even if they only exist in my mind). I have remembered to be grateful. I have found a little place to stop the ‘racing.’ Now if I can just keep my mind from firing the starter gun again! ☺
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Today's thoughts from Hazelden are:
Formula for failure: trying to please everyone.
The elevator is broken; use the steps.
You are the problem, but you are also the solution.
Reason to be grateful #863: you learn to wake up instead of coming to.
Improve your memory -- tell the truth.
Numb is dumb; feel to heal.
You are reading from the book:
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I just finished reading David Sheff’s remarkable book, “beautiful boy.” I hesitated for many months before reading this book, because I did not know if I could stomach it. If I could survive it. If I could relive it. But alas it kept popping into my consciousness and finally someone handed me the book and said, “it’s o.k. to read.” (I was also inspired by Sunrise Sister’s thoughtful book review here.)
You see the book is my story. It is my son’s story although the names have been changed as well as the drugs…well some of them anyway. It is a remarkable book. At times I felt like I was inside the pages. In fact, I had been inside the pages. Again, the places had been changed but the memories and emotions were the same. And as I read the quote above from Patti Digh’s 37 Days, I thought of my son and how many people deemed him along the way “unlovable.” I think of the judgment that has come our way. Of the many people that said “I would have given up on him long before now. How do you do it?”
And, today I think of the amazing gift that my son has given me. Because, yes, he is my flesh and blood and that alone (at least for a mother, I think) makes him lovable, but for many years and many moments he presented himself to the world as unlovable. And so I return to Patti’s questions: “What would loving them (the unlovable) look like?” “How would it change you?” and I return to my response: It is an amazing gift. It is worth the risk to love.
I am in no way the same person I was that gave birth to my own beautiful boy just over 19 years ago. I am not even the same person who bought him a puppy on his first day of grade school or the one who home-schooled him when he was 12. I am not even the same person who woke up this morning. Because, you see, my son, “the unlovable”, shook me out of my complacency. He taught me about pain and anger, about hatred and forgiveness, about fear and love.
He sent me on a path (unknowingly) toward wholeness. Loving him looks like a miracle. It looks like new breath…new life. It has changed me profoundly and taught me how to love the unlovable, beginning with myself.
I returned to school at nearly 50 years of age to pursue a career totally opposed to my ‘prior life’. (This kind of change was something I never dreamed I would do while I was “sleeping.”) I latched onto a verse. “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” I learned that I had to start with myself and that God would be alongside me in ways I never could have conceived. Before I could love my neighbor or my son or the unlovable, I had to learn to love myself. And so for me, “loving the unlovable” began a circular journey back towards myself and toward the 'unlovable.' And, the circle grows larger and larger every day.
And so, today I thank my own beautiful boy. I honor him and love him and am so grateful that I never gave up on either one of us.
So, I pose to you Patti’s questions: "What would it look like to love the unlovable? How would it change you?" Would you be willing to find out?
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Oh man, the river of emotions that has been running through me over the last few days! I had hoped today to write more generically about “the river” as it is something so universal and intriguing to me. I see this river everywhere in people I meet and pass on the streets. It is a great topic and one I will return to...But not today.
Arising in the morning I look out the door to see if Curry slept outside. I walk into the house at the end of the day expecting to be greeted. I look in the backyard over the fence and hope to see that slobbery smile. I miss my old yellow dog. It is too much AND it is not.
I know it was time, I tell myself. The house will stay cleaner now ☺. I have slowly started to put away his things: bowls and medicine moved downstairs, but not totally disposed. I will remove a rug today that we used to keep him from slipping on the hard wood floors. My husband cannot bring himself to scoop the last bits of poop in the yard. A bag sits stuffed in the Adirondack chair—waiting. “I don’t want to do it,” he says. It is not the complaining, “I don’t wanna,” but one filled with sadness that this will be the last time.
So, no more poop scooping, no more balls of fur throughout the house, no more slobber on the walls. When will I clean the kitchen door? The brown smudge where Curry used his nose to push it open and let himself in? Not today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe after I have looked for him on the rug or after I have noticed he is not on the back porch and my heart has stopped a little because I know he won’t be there. It all happens in less than a second, I think, maybe a couple of seconds, but the memory, the routine, the pattern of our life is still there.
Oh, it is too much AND of course, it is not. I will go on living. Maybe some day I will allow another furry creature to enter my heart, but not today. Today I will allow myself to feel all of the feelings. I will go about my routine. I will send my daughter off to her first day of 10th grade. I will enjoy the sunshine that is here. I will take my walk and go to my dance class. I will dance for Curry and for me.
I know he will slowly start to take up less space in my thoughts. Less space on this blog. But not today.
p.s. The “river of feelings” started flowing today as I read sweet Riley’s post and the subsequent comment by Geezer Dude. So, check it out if you so desire ☺.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Curry. A big gentle soul. Has left this world as we know it. He is gone. Dead. Asleep. What do you even call it? I don't know what to do with myself. Wandering. Unable to settle down or think of anything except him. It has been a good day. A sad day. He went peacefully. I feel numb. Curry. Beautiful old dog. I already miss you so much my heart is breaking.
A gentle kind doctor gave him the injection a few minutes before 7:00 p.m. My best friend was gone in less than a minute--less than 30 seconds even. Quick & peaceful. Bill, Janey and I all petting him and holding him until the last breath. He was ready to go.
Time to go and now he is gone. No more to lie beside my bed. To greet me when I return home. To miss me when I am gone. It is my turn to miss him, but he will not return. We have said our final farewells. He is at peace. I believe that. I see him running & romping through fields of green. Sniffing & smelling. Whole & pure. His legs healthy & strong. Bounding across the open space. Snow. Water. Chasing geese and taking flight. The smile is on his face, tail fully wagging...not the meager thump thump of recent days.
Brave until the end. Making it up a full flight of stairs as little as a week ago. Coming to sleep beside me. Not knowing what to do with his aging body that responded in unfamiliar ways or responded not at all. His appetite was good until the end although I did not buy more dog food this week even though he was almost out. I knew. We all knew. He knew the time was here.
Dog is God spelled backwards. How do you say good-bye to someone who has shown you the face of God--been the face of God--on a daily basis for 13 years? Faithful. Non-judgmental. Always glad to see me. Protecting & guarding me. Loving me. Playing with me. Sharing hours of joy as we walked miles and miles together. Digging in the garden. Watching movies. Bounding through the snow. Taking road trips and raising kids. Putting up with costumes & baby strollers. Show 'n tell at school.
A puppy your whole life. Always the greeting committee. Always the well-mannered gentleman. Always the love. I will miss you, old man. Yellow dog. Best old boy. Curry dog. You have been beside me through thick and thin. Waiting through long dark nights. Laughing in the best of times. Faithful always. The most consistent presence in the last 13 years.
I love you, Curry. I will miss you forever.