Do what you love

I finally dusted off the old blog and decided to write an entry today. It has been on my mind along with 10,000 other things of what I would like to do one of these days. Last year I was reflecting on the tragedy in Boston and how we need to love more than we fight. In so many ways that intention rings true in my daily life and not just on a grand scale like terrorist attacks and war. Today I have a 6 month old baby. She is my everything: tells me when I need to wake up, when I can shower, eat, sleep, when she needs to eat or wants to play, when she is bored or when she is upset and needs comforting. And as much as that can drive a person crazy to be depended upon 24/7,  it also makes me love her more. In the beginning, and still on some days, I was so conflicted by this change–who was I now? I hardly knew before she came along and now it’s like my head exploded. All I could see was this little person demanding all of my attention and sparing none for myself. But the more I fell in love with her the more I realized I do these things out of love for her. Instead of fighting the gremlin I had to love her.

Now that she is six months old I feel the shock and awe just starting to wear off. It is like I am coming out of anesthesia  and can see the lights. Okay. I am still here, I have two cats named Adam and Simon, I like to sew and listen to music and watch DWTS. I like to wear other clothes besides yoga pants and sweatshirts. I have family and friends who I like to talk with on the phone and books that I would like to read. I have yummy foods that I like to eat. I will make time to do these things because I love myself, and at the end of the day I am the only person responsible for that job.

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April 15, 2013

April 15. My sister’s birthday. Also known as tax day for the U.S., and this year it was the day we learned of exciting news for her, as well as the bombings during the Boston Marathon. It’s a lot to digest in a 24 hour period. The amazing thing about social networking in all of this is the sudden change in mood from hour to hour. A few days earlier my dad had posted his annual distaste for paying taxes to Uncle Sam, quickly followed up with birthday wishes for Kristy…to which she responded to later with a Beyonce song reference and more celebrating…and finally postings about the tragedy in Boston. Just several days later FB now has postings of the manhunt going on to find these suspects, intermixed with sentiments from around the globe of how tough Boston is and how we must stop these senseless acts of violence. I have refrained from commenting on the marathon because honestly, what does it do? How does it make it different? Yes I stand in solidarity with my community of online “friends” that this is awful and there is another way, but that is not who needs to hear this message. It is everyone else. Everyone else who is part of a different community, hearing a different message about life.

For some reason I couldn’t get The Prayer of St. Francis out of my head:

Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love,
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt true faith in you.
Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.
O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul!
Make me a channel of your peace:
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.
It was one of my favorite church songs growing up even though I never appreciated the lyrics until much later in life. In the midst of these tragedies we tend to ask ourselves and each other, what do we do now? How do we “fight” this? It’s by doing the opposite. And doing it better. When someone is so angry that all they can do is yell and scream, they need to be understood and loved MORE than they are angry. When we are so down and out that all we can do is cry and feel sad, we need to have an experience of hope that is stronger than that sadness. That is not to say all will be better overnight. We know life does not work that way. But the more we are surrounded with the sentiments of St. Francis, the better chance we have of “fighting” this thing we cannot see but know is there.Peace to the city of Boston. And a prayer for my sister and her husband.

Holy Week (actually today is Holy Thursday…)

Yesterday marked the beginning of Holy Week, the last week of Lent as we prepare for Christ’s death and his ultimate resurrection. I was really, really bummed that the snow had canceled all services including Sunday school because I have fond memories of Palm Sunday at my grade school church in Cincinnati. The priest would invite everyone to process into the church with him carrying palms, just like it is written in the Bible. (John 12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”)  That sense of tradition, of community, was really awesome to me. And so this Holy Week has started off completely different, with me in a cranky mood over the late arrival of spring among other things, and the growing anxiety over important news that will arrive later in the week. I ask myself today: what have I done to prepare, to observe Lent this year, that will reassure me of the coming of Easter Sunday, no matter the circumstances in my own personal life?…

Well first there is abstinence. Whether truly wanting to or not, I have not had Starbucks, or any coffee treat for that matter, since mid-February. It’s funny because I have WANTED to want it; I miss the pleasure I get from having it. But yet even today, I know my body does not need it as much as it needs other nourishment right now. I am trying to wrap my brain around the idea of missing wanting something, and the only thing I can think of is that it was part of my identity, my routine. But, Starbucks is not who I am; it is something that I relate to comfort and free time and yes on some days total gluttony. Do I really need a latte everyday??

Second there is prayer. I have found myself meditating and praying quite often these days, to the point where I would say it is starting to become part of who I am..I find when I do not make time or forget to do so, there is something missing. There is an edge to my emotions that cannot be quickly forgotten or replaced with another “treat” whether that be Starbucks or some other distraction. There is no replacement for meditation and prayer.

And finally there is penance, the most challenging of all Lenten practices. While I have not formally been to confession in a long, long time, I realize that everyday is an opportunity to practice penance. Whether it is through volunteering your time to help others, forgiving someone or asking for forgiveness, or admitting to yourself or someone you love of something you are not proud of, that is penance. I feel like I have just begun to appreciate the idea of penance in my own life, and realize that at times you may not truly be living if you’re not practicing penance. It is such an honest, humble, and pride-less way to be. God knows it is hard so that’s why I call it practice.

Tomorrow is Good Friday and for as long as I can remember, wherever I have lived and no matter the weather report, Good Friday turns out to be a solemn, grey, rainy day. My prayer for the close of this week is to remember that I have done all I can do leading up to this point, and the rest is in God’s hands. See you all on Easter Sunday.

Normal day memories

T is a big fan of Taj Mahal and yesterday I couldn’t get this song out of my head. Big fan. I love how songs, scents, clothes can bring back strong reminders of just about anything. Last week I bought Herbal Essences shampoo because let’s be honest my $25/bottle Aveda shampoo was hardly justifiable on my youth group director income, plus I am far from being a hair model. Anyways, the minute I opened the bottle and smelled its contents I could picture myself in Swig Hall as a college freshman at Santa Clara University. I remember we had this theory that the smell was so wonderful it masked the smell of cigarette smoke. ha! Another scent that reminds me of college is Eternity perfume because my roommate wore it all of the time.

So this song by Taj Mahal tends to bring up memories of driving around with T either running errands or heading somewhere for dinner…nothing crazy special or memorable, just comfort and contentment I guess. Don’t know how or why this song got stuck in my head, but it seemed appropriate on another manic Monday: dog tired after work, dreading making dinner because of course it was this complicated lasagna thing that I had promised to make two weeks ago, AND T had a miserable day at work. What better way to leave the funk behind than to focus on the days that are not necessarily super blissful, but just normal. It seems like everywhere you turn there are articles or reports on “how to be happier” or some iteration of that sentiment. However, coming from a person who has had some not so happy days in the recent months, trying to work on being happy was just weird pressure. As if not being happy was another goal to work towards. I decided that I would start with loving the normal days instead. The routine stuff. Herbal Essences shampoo was normal for college. Taj Mahal signifies normal, as well as fires during cold winter nights, running in the morning to get ready for my 5K, and terrible reruns of Gold Rush on Friday nights.

 

Turn off the Floodlights and Return to your Trust Circle

Happy February! Today I spent most of the morning reading more of Daring Greatly. I am not kidding when I say I am taking my time with this book. Just got through Ch.4 and I had to stop because my brain was processing too much with the uh-huhs, yes, totally, and oh my god that is so true. The part where I paused was when she introduces the difference between connecting wholeheartedly with a trusted person, and floodlighting. She defines floodlighting as sharing too much with someone you don’t necessarily trust or know, and they are left with big eyes staring into a floodlight, a hand covered over their mouth, or a screwy face because they are taken by surprise. I was laughing out loud because I started to think of all the “crazy” people I meet at the store who during the five minute interaction of paying for their clothes, have casually shared everything from “my daughter is addicted to heroin” to “my husband doesn’t like it when I attract attention to myself at these parties.” Then I started reflecting about myself, and recalled how I have done this myself to unsuspecting people, whether knowingly or unknowingly. I think when moving to a new place, it happens more frequently because the one thing you’re looking for is connection. With someone. Anyone. And then later you look back and realize, oh so I SHOULDN’T have shared that I was once prescribed Ambien to sleep because my depression was causing insomnia? Too much information too soon? 🙂 Of course that didn’t really happen, but what did happen was a lot of shame about even admitting that I was unhappy to my own family and friends.

To put herself in check, she goes through a list before sharing: Have I entirely worked through this issue with my loved ones before sharing? Why am I sharing this now? Is it to show connection and help another person? If so, go for it. If not, re-think if this person is part of your trust circle. I love that she even carries around a list in her purse of the people she trusts the most to remind herself not to overshare.

I would say that today I am more confident about my trust circle than ever before, and it feels good to be aware of that. At the same time, I am also building awareness of those who are not yet there. So find your circle of trust! Today! And don’t lose sight of it just because you have a new zip code. Love and support can be felt from miles away.