Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To Strive Not To.....

I never wanted to get to the point where my only posts were the Friday Fives. Not that there is anything wrong with that in and of itself, but for a long time my blog was my main creative outlet. There was a time there when I was pretty prolific and rarely had a thought that didn't lead to a post of some sort. Now I find that my main writing energy is going into sermons that I mostly don't think are worth posting, and "five things" each week on Friday, I can't help but wonder if my creative juices, at least in the writing department, are running a little low.

Or maybe it's just that balance thing again. The inner life and the outer life and getting them in sync seems to be a particular challenge for me. I have certainly never been happier and more surely and certainly content with life as a whole than I am right now. Marriage and life with R agrees with me! Some other aspects are a bit challenging (there is always something, right?) like work issues and the irklings that come and go just in the living of life with other people whereever we encounter them (yes, church, too....imagine!) But as I have shared with C on more than one occassion....I seem to struggle with how to have a decent spiritual life in times of goodness and joy. God tends to seem more present to me in times of struggle and difficulty. I rely more, turn more....remember more who and whose I am when I am floundering and falling than when I am coasting along in joy or even in neutral.

I was actually thinking about this on Sunday as I sat in my little red kayak for the first time. As in all things I had pushed and struggled to "get it" immediately, expecting that I should get in that boat, pick up those paddles and row myself perfectly out into the water. Umm, yeah....And after the laughter (good-natured of course) stopped, and my companions R and Soul Sister C pointed out 1) the numerous errors of my paddling ways and 2) my "frowny face," I was able to stop and relax a bit and see that I was er....maybe expecting a little bit much of myself for the first time ever doing this. So I stopped struggling so hard to be the perfect kayaker..... played around a little, got the hang of it just a little bit, and found myself at one point out in the middle of the pond, just drifting. It was quite lovely. And when I was ready to go back in, it was a little easier to take myself and my boat in the general direction I wanted to go...without quite so much effort, without quite so much struggle....I did not need to sufffer or strive to kayak...who knew!

I am by nature a striver. It is where I go first....in paddling, in life and with God. The hard way seems to be the way I know how to do it. Something in me still resists ease. Resists even joy? That is hard to admit, though I think it might be true. I think there is some small part of me that still believes that there is some virtue in suffering and struggle, though my post-modern, liberal self scoffs loudly at this notion. I have gone round in this little circle of my own making far too many times to count. And its getting old. I know that God rejoices in my happiness....is in fact the creator of it. Maybe love will teach me....or the small red kayak, or perhaps God in God's time and patience will get through. Or perhaps I will surrender. Miracles happen all the time! There is, at least in the meantime, a blog post.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Five: Hot Fun in the Summertime?

Songbird says: "It's possible I may have a bad attitude about the arrival of summer. On the eve of the Solstice I left for a mission trip to a town in Maine bordering Quebec. Beset by a swarm of bloodthirsty black flies, and a "classic allergic reaction" according to the PA at the Urgent Care, I had to return the next morning to a week of Benadryl and ice packs. (If only I had known about Bug Band *before*...)But I don't want that to ruin summer for the rest of you. So I invite you to share five things you love--or don't--about summer. The tone is up to you!"

Ooooh poor Songbird! That's terrible...BAD flies.
First of all I have to say I LOVE summer!!! There are way more than five things, but I will try to contain my enthusiasm!

1. It's HOT! That might be kind of self-evident you say? Well remember, we are blogging from the great North here....and really, it's not always that way (even, to be entirely honest in summer). But I love it the most when it is. Hot and steamy is my weather. I know...people think I am strange, but it energizes me when the temps and the humidities are hovering a-waaay up there.

2. SUN and LIGHT. Again....something we don't always have in large quantities. Add that to the heat and the steam and I am just the happiest lil ol camper! I love the light lingering on into the evening so we can play longer....walking, biking or just reading on the porch swing without turning on the lamp. It's all good.

3. I feel freer in the summer than I do in the winter. Maybe it's the fact that there are far fewer layers of clothing required to keep me from freezing. Or that I don't seem to worry so much about setting out for somewhere....I don't have to think about sliding off the road or having to find my way through a blizzard or a white-out. But at any rate, I have a much greater spirit of adventure and willingness to go and do...even new things that push my edge. We are getting kayaks this weekend...and I am excited about learning to paddle that little boat! For a girl who really likes looking at water more than being on and in it.....this is a stretch....but a good one!

4. One of the things I have come to really cherish about small town life is the community celebrations. Band concerts in the park, the annual summer community theatre musical, July 4th parades and fireworks, summer festivals in our town and the little towns around us....the community shows up and plays together and we are kind of at our best. At the band concert the other night a group of little kids in great variety were dancing to the community orchestra. Laughing and jumping and falling down and rolling around in a joyous little puppy pile of all sizes and types and colors....it was so wonderful to watch them....just a little bit of summer heaven.

5. Food. Summer food....fresh veggies straight from the garden, ripe fruit from the farmer's market, grilly things, R's potato salad (which I love second only to my dear late mother's), and of course....ice cream! And everything seems to taste better when you eat it outside.

My only "complaint" about summer would be its brevity. It's just way too short and moves too fast. So, as an antidote, I am trying to stay in the moment and savor each beautiful day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Five: Running Late

Jan says: "As I opened up my computer this morning, I directly went to my blog and RevGals to see what the newest Friday Five would be! Nothing was here, which seemed odd. Then I went to look at the calendar and counted the Fridays, and it is the THIRD Friday! How did that happen so quickly? It's my turn, so here's a quickie:"

1. Do you tend to be a late person or one who is timely, arriving on time or earlier? I have always been a pretty "on-time" person, usually arriving just before or at the appointed time. This has all changed since I started hanging out with my now husband, also known as "the early guy." I got a hint of his stance on the time thing when he arrived for our second date when I was barely out of the shower. At that time I thought maybe it was just because he was so eager to see me. But I soon found that this is a life long pattern. My beloved wants to be early for everything. And thus it is, and we are.

2. Have you forgotten anything of importance lately? If I have, I can't remember it !

3. Is procrastination your inclination? Why or why not? Only for big and overwhelming projects. Then I have to do a certain amount to build the requisite tension. It's almost like my little ritual. Wait....wait...wait...ok, I'm tense enough now that I can have my (also required) meltdown about how it's all too much and I can't do it and it will never get done....and then I settle in and produce. Yep all very predicable. I figured this out in grad school to the point that I actually scheduled the meltdown on the project timeline! It has to do with anxiety over my ability to do it "well enough" which gradually I am chipping away at in the dance with the inner critics.

4. Do you like schedules or spontaneity? Which works best for you? Looking at #3...it appears that I am a bit of scheduler..."Friday, 10:00-10:15-meltdown" Yeah.....not too spontaneous. But on the other hand, since R came along, I'm getting more playful and that does involve some ability to just let schedules fly sometimes...so again, both/and.

5. How do you stay on track with the various things you need to, people you must meet, etc., etc.? I used to have a big paper planner book, now I have a phone calendar. The line is "if it's not in the phone, it doesn't happen." And the great advantage of the phone over the paper, besides the fact that it's a lot smaller to tote around....it has an ALARM!

BONUS: Whatever comes to mind about forgetfulness or lateness. It really does irritate me when people just don't show up for stuff or are really late for no good reason, especially when they are chronic about it. There are some people in my life who have this issue and I find I am kind of chronically ornery with them about it. It feels disrespectful and uncaring and like they just don't give a rat's patoot about me or whom or whatever we are all engaged in together. And I don't want to hear their dreary excuses. The rest of us managed to get up, on the bus, in the car, through the traffic, whatever.....get over it! There....got that off my chest...thanks for listening.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Five: Workout Edition

Mompriest Says: "Recently I started an assertive exercise regime thanks to my daughter who convinced me to join her gym. Truth be told I've been pretty good at working out most of my life. Usually these workouts include walking my dogs, bike riding, swimming, or a yoga DVD. I thought I was in good shape. That is until I started using the machines and taking classes at the gym with people half my age.During this same time frame I have spent several nights a week watching hockey. As the oldest child with three younger brothers I grew up with hockey. Then it was played outside on rough ice and in freezing temperatures. Now I have been captivated by the Chicago Blackhawks and their quest for the Stanley Cup. Wednesday night I sat through a nail-biting game that culminated in the win Chicago's been waiting for. Also going on this week is the NBA playoff and the World Cup Soccer games in South Africa. Lots of sports to distract us from the problems of the day.As if that weren't enough I am recultivating my practice of silent prayer and meditation. This has been a long practice of mine but one that sometimes goes by the wayside of life's distractions. Sadly though I have also just moved far away from my Spiritual Director and will have to try and find a new one in the future.There have also been occasions in my life when I have seen a therapist to help me work out one or more issues in my life. Sometimes these sessions have required more grueling intense internal work than any physical workout I've done. For this Friday Five let's ponder the various ways we work out (or not), physically, spiritually, and/or psychologically."
1. Do you work out physically, spiritually, or psychologically? (I'll let you define what that might mean to you) I have to equivocate on all of them, I fear. The first is the most inconsistent of all, though. I really don't like exercise, especially in its pure form. I have had gym memberships, Y memberships, CURVES memberships and the same thing happens....I start strong and soon and very soon, I am not going. Same thing with home exercise equipment...bikes, treadmills, balls...soon in the corner gathering dust and clothing. I will walk...if someone takes me (even if that someone has four legs and a tail). And I will exercise if it's disguised as play, like a walk through even less than tame terrain disguised as geocaching. But I keep falling for the idea of exercise all the same. Just last night as I was sitting in the hair salon I saw a new "toning and tightening" routine for those trouble spots. in a magazine..."Just 15 minutes three times a week, and...." Well I have that magazine on my shopping list.

And I keep promising myself to get back to my morning yoga practice. For almost TWO YEARS....every single morning....then it stopped, and I just can't seem to get there again. That one is physical, spiritual and emotional. In general, the spiritual & psychological workouts come and go with more or less intensity at various points in time. Right now I seem to be in cruise mode with both. And I'm ok with that. R and I are playing a lot, having fun together....hey we're newly weds, why not! But my church schedule is heating up come August and I have a feeling my spiritual "workouts" will have to keep pace. Who knows maybe my physical and emotional ones will too, just to have enough energy for seven Sundays running and a day job!

2. Are you more inclined to join a gym, or a book club? Right now, neither. I am not in "joining" mode. I go through phases where I really don't want my life scheduled and I'm in one. Unfortunately, my life doesn't seem to be cooperating.

3. Are you more inclined to read self-help books like Gail Sheehy's "Passages" or spiritual books like Richard Rohr or Theresa of Avila? And if so, what is your favorite? I tend to the spiritual. If I'm going to read something psychological it better be pretty good, I'm kind of a snob that way. Spiritual folks.....Parker Palmer, Richard Foster, and do like Rohr and Theresa too.

4. Are you a loyal fan of a sports team? Or do you join the bandwagon when the local team is winning? And, if so, which one? Living in MN almost have to have some Viking and Twins loyalty, but I'm far from rabid. Would like to get up to see the Twins play outside yet this summer. But watching games on TV confuses me and tends to result in nappage.

5. Or do you lean more toward having a favorite theologian/Spiritual writer or self help author and if so, who? And, why. Spiritual. Self-helpers sometimes can be a bit self-promoting...."do my method and be a better person...." and it is often trendy and superficial. The other side....time-tested!

Bonus: What was the last play-off series you watched and did your team win? Ummmm....I think I watched the Superbowl back in the 90's sometime when the Vikings played. I don't remember, but the commercials were fun. Yep. I'm a BIG sports fan!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Patience and persistence- Friday Five...

Sally says: "As I write this I can see out over our newly set up veggie plot from my study window. When Tim and I moved here in August last year he set to work clearing the ground, this spring I began planting seeds indoors and out, and now the beds are full of leaf and promise. We have harvested some spinach and lettuce, but still have to wait for the main crops....Patience is something that sometimes comes easy and sometimes doesn't, in the case of the garden it is easy, I can see the growth and know that waiting will produce good results. With other things patience is more difficult....Along with looking forward to eating our own veggies, we are also looking forward to seeing four of our children graduate with Bachelors degrees this year, they have worked hard over the three years and stuck at it through some difficult stuff. It would have been easy for them to give up, but they haven't..." With all that in mind I offer you this Friday Five:

1. Is patience a virtue you possess? If it is then does it come naturally, if not how do you/ did you work at it? Sometimes and sometimes not! I'd say I am more patient when it comes to people than to things. I have been waiting on changes with some of my clients for a very long time now, understanding that hurt and fear stands in the way and makes it hard for them to take even the smallest steps sometimes. But if my necklace chain tangles I have about one minute for that and I am DONE! My patience has been getting mightily tried this week as I have been attempting to get our wedding picture CD to cooperate. Technology is another thing I have NO patience for. I want it to work and work NOW! There are over seven hundred pics on a DVD and apparently this is way tooooo many as the programs I've tried keep telling me...to album, to organize, to file, to upload, to print....what's a bride (without a lot of patience) to do! So I just keep trying to be more patient....talking to myself and breathing. Humor helps, as does my sweet R who tells me to take breaks and "just take em all to the store and print 'em...what the heck!"

2. Being patient with ourselves can be a huge challenge, we are often our own worst critics; is there anything you need to be patient with yourself with at the moment? Well...see #1. Yes there is always something...my inner critics have some notoriety on my blog. My biggest self-criticism/lack of patience with myself of late is my lack of self-discipline in a whole host of areas. But then playtime has also increased dramatically (and that does require patience too when it involves geocaching) so maybe it's a wash.

3. Are you the kind of person who can/ will persist with a difficult task? How much of this is personality related? Yes. Despite what I said above about the people vs things business. I can and will do what needs to be done. Looking at the folks I know and thinking about some conversations I've had of late....I think this is pretty much part of us....whether by nature or nurture or tightly knit combo. I don't think it's something that changes much about us once we are much into our lives.

4. Can you spot when persistence turns into pig-headed-ness, or do you never get there? Oh I get there....I get there. Just ask anyone who knows me, they will be glad to tell you this.

5. Post a song or a poem that chills you out and helps you to re-group, re-focus and carry on?
This was somewhere on the net during Lent and I posted it on my computer to use for my morning meditation....I like it....it stayed and I still find myself going there to remember.....

Let Your God Love You
by Edwinna Gateley
Be still.

Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves youWith an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Let your God—
Love you.

Bonus, a picture or a photo that speaks to you of patience or persistence....It was a long time coming......