Thursday, November 17, 2011

where am i again?

when my family and i left our hometown so my dh could start medical school, i had been working at my children's school. a really cool private school that included kids from 18 months to first grade. it was such a great place to send my kids, that i really, really wanted to work there. the staff was, well, awesome. they were sad to see us go. and one of them gave me a card that i said, "sooner or later, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. the true joy of life is in the trip." (robert j. hastings) i knew this would be a theme of the next eight years. (i also knew "i can do all things through christ who strengthens me" would be a theme...but we'll save that for another blog...)

there is no one station to arrive at once and for all...i have learned this...i think. or at least, i've begun to understand it. there a baz luhrmann song called "everybody should wear sunscreen" of the lines says "the race is long...and in the end, it's with yourself." and it doesn't end until we die. and even then, i'm not so sure it ends, but i'm pretty sure it changes, so we can definitely say it ends as we know it. lol. anyway. the road goes on forever, and the party never ends. (that's a robert earl keen line...why am i suddenly channeling all of these musicians?) i'm starting to "get" that every time i think i've made it through one challenge, another comes. that life doesn't really go back and forth, like i used to visualize it. it is always forward. just side to side, so to speak. like kids, life vacillates back and forth between equilibrium and disequilibrium. (and let me tell you, sometimes it can almost fall the hell off the charts, it gets so far off on the disequilibrium side...)

the true joy of life is in the trip. this is easier for me to understand. we're a road tripping family. we road trip well. we know what you need (beef jerky and comfortable pillows...and small electronics with extra batteries). we know how to enjoy each other when we're confined in the small space of our car. and we know how to shut up when we're getting annoyed. we like similar music, so we can fill irritating silence with tunes that bring us back together. we enjoy the same books on tape, so there's that. and we all seem to have about the same sized bladder. we are one perfect road tripping family, the more i think about it... so yes, we have had our vacations where one of the best parts was the drive. and i get that. i really do.

but i like consistency and predictability. and i think one of the hardest things about life for me is that it is not very rhythmic. at least not when you're wishing it would get somewhere, get to a place and stay that way. now, i've definitely had my times where i think to myself, "oh dear god, PLEASE, don't let it stay here...whatever i have to do, PLEASE don't let it stay this way." but i admit, i would like life to get good and stay good. is that so much to ask? as i sat outside last night, a cold front was still blowing in. the most wonderful breeze would blow and knock a few leaves down. it occurred to me that even if winter blows in somewhat predictably each year, that you could never predict the patterns that the leaves would fall down in....that it is unique each year. and for some reason, that just cracked open this whole realization that we have to change...that the very nature of life is change...and that part of my problem, my BIGGEST problem, is fighting that change. (no WONDER i'm so damned tired and overwhelmed and stressed's like i've been trying to make the world turn in the opposite direction using my BARE HANDS...doh!)

so i'm just going to sit with this realization for a bit...let it do its work...because while i know a new day of understanding is dawning, i also know there are more days to come i want to give myself a chance to absorb this, lay a good foundation. i guess when you realize how much longer the race truly is, that there is no end in sight, have to pace yourself differently. so that's what i'm going to work on...finding a more natural pace.

(as well as realizing i do not have to run or be propelled from good to bad or happy to sad...that this journey all moves forward...that really helps me, you know what direction i'm traveling...)


Friday, November 11, 2011

ask, even when you don't know you're asking, and ye shall receive

last night, i was pretty wrung out...feeling emotionally drained, like really. emotionally. drained. in a way i haven't been that i can recall. and it made me defensive...and suspicious. i don't know that defensive leads to suspiciousness...i just know that when i feel defensive to the bone (yes, it usually comes with weariness)...i also start finding suspect the motives of all around me. it's a vicious, awful cycle. and that pretty much sums up my last night. the hubs was not my friend. the teens were extra selfish. even the baby didn't love me much, to be honest.

but i made it through the night (and i must admit here that it is really only recently that i've learned to have faith that i will, indeed, make it through these evenings of intense negative emotions). the kids eventually got their homework done and their teeth brushed (it was a late night due to piano recitals and visiting cousins) and the baby eventually reliquished the "boo" and drifted off into sleep. and i sat down with my book (the one i was doing really well and actually looked like i might finish...but then it sat untouched for a month...sigh). and here are a few excerpts from what i read...

"Do you ever think about dying? Whenever I am confronted with the reality and inevitability of death it heightens my awareness of how brief and precious my time here on earth is. Sometimes it is the death of a friend, at other times it is a news story, or perhaps it is just a bumpy ride on a plane. These events help me to treasure my own life more and more with each passing day. But they also challenge me to reassess the way I am spending the time, effort, and energies that are my life. I am more intimately aware than ever before that we all waste life. We waste it one day at a time--a day here and a day there--or an hour at a time. We waste time drowning in unforgiveness. We waste time immersed in frivolous or irresponsible activities. We waste time being lazy and procrastinating. We waste time. Life is passing us by."

and there was this one, one of my absolute favorites...i've used it in a talk and i'm going to put it up in my kids' is a marianne williamson quote...

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, Who are you not to be? You are a child of God. your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

it occurs to me as i type this that often my defensiveness does beget defensiveness in others. so i guess it can work both ways. it also occurs to me that beauty companies really want our population to believe only a handful of them will be glorious. the knowledge of how amazing each person is would devastate their profit margins.

and the last passage, words of john henry newman (no, i really don't know who he, here i come...)...

"God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my missions. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good--I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments. Therefore I will trust him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve him. In perplexity, my perplexity may serve him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me--still, HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS ABOUT."

and since it's from the same book, much further back that the stuff i just posted, but because it so eloquently states how i feel about being catholic. and because i've been writing more from that part of my life...i just wanted to share this quote from mother teresa, who is a person who inspires me deeply....

"Religion is not something that you or I can touch. Religion is the worship of God--therefore a matter of conscience. I alone must decide for myself and you for yourself, what we choose. For me, the religion I live and use to worship God is the Catholic religion. For me, this is my very life, my joy, and the greatest gift of God in his love for me. He could have given me no greater gift."

i know some people have had the experience of being around christians who tell them the state of others' souls based on how they are living. (ie..."if you don't believe x, then you're going to hell.") but i've been reading the bible lately (yeah...i'm really going there...and yeah...i've really never gone there before), and i am pretty sure that the bible is a self help book, and only a self help book. it is about how to make your soul right. there is not a lot about how to judge others' souls. as a matter of fact, i came across this verse last night, warning against living to follow the law instead (and the false sense of holiness that comes with that) of being lead by the law to live in faith for the soul...

You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace. --Galatians 5: 4

i was so consumed by the end of last night by the negativity of this one agent i have had to work with on buying what i am pretty sure is going to be our dream home. i will permit myself a moment to dwell on that is just a beautiful, beautiful place...wild and open and lots of room to explore and breathe and run and get your hands in the earth and feel the sun and wind...and a lake, too...if this works out, i will cry at amazement of our good fortune. but i guess the road to eden must have some brambles to keep us humble? because this one woman's personality has enough brambles to humble a small army. she has shaken my faith in people, in myself so many times. but, there are other folks that have come into my path that have given us comfort, given us counsel, helped us find our confidence and our faith again. and for those people, i so, so grateful and amazed at our good fortune already.

anyway...i was feeling pretty lousy and these are the things i read. because that's how god rolls.


ps--for the sake of full disclosure (have you ever bought a house? were you so sick of the word "disclosure" by the end? this deal has been like that...times ten...), the book i'm still reading is "rediscover catholicism" by matthew kelly.

Friday, November 4, 2011

stay on target...

geez i have such a hard time focusing these days! (example: i originally typed "geez i have fuch" brain was already jumping ahead to focusing, i think)

buying a house that you intend to do a whole lot of renovation to requires nerves of steal and the patience of job. and some faith. as well as a general lack of concern with how your actions are received by the sellers and their agents. it is ridiculously difficult. i have never second and third and fourth and fifth guessed myself so much in my life. my emotions have stretched so much from one direction to the next that now they are a huge pizza dough of emotions, not a perfect circle or anything, but coating everything in every direction in a sticky, heavy, gooey, doughy mess. or something like that. god willing, it will be over and decided by the end of the year...that's what i'm telling myself today.

i was reading about wisdom today. (yes, awfully ambitious of someone so emotionally spread out, huh? but seriously, i needed something besides these crazy emotions to guide me...and you know what they say about the truth will set you free? first it will piss you off?...anyway...)

"But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity." james 3:17

just writing that made my tension headache relax.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

sitting and remembering

this is kind of cheesy after that last post i made...but whatever...when have i ever let that stop me?

there is this step stool i have. it was my grandmother's. i think she bought it with these stamps they used to give out at the local grocery store...for every increment dollar amount you'd spend, you'd get a stamp...collect them in books and redeem them for stuff. i also think this is how she got her china set that my mother just gave me. she was one thrifty grandma. so this step's carpet covered. and it has four legs...which, by the way, makes it a horribly unstable step stool. but it's a good little sitting stool. which is what i used it for. lots. i watched so many cartoons sitting on that stool at my grandmother's. so i asked for it at some point, and everyone gave it to me. (i am good at asking for things that no one else's a specialty of mine...haha)

so this morning, after scrambled eggs and piano and playing, my littlest asks for blues clues and settles herself on that sitting stool, ready to watch...just like me so many years before.

it has been a really hard time adjusting to a daughter that is so very different from me. there have certainly been lots and lots of other challenging things going on around the development of this new relationship...and i'm not even going to list any of them. but i just feel like she and i are so different...she is so much pushier, more assertive, LOUDER, not afraid of rocking the damned boat...hell, she'll flip it if that'll get her what she wants.

but this morning, when she looked up at me, smiling, waiting for blues clues, sitting, it was like looking into a mirror...a mirror that links exact images from the past and present. the girl she is and the girl i was...we aren't SO different, i guess... it was profoundly sweet.

as i type this, she is dancing to the blues clues song, doing the motions so earnestly, it's cracking me up...and she's just fallen off of the stool. i guess it's not necessarily stable for all sitters, either.



i read this to my family two nights ago...

"The most powerful and influential position in any society is that of the storyteller. Storytellers are not just the mythical cultural icons who dress up on Thursday afternoons and read stories to your children in local libraries and bookstores. Musicians are storytellers; politicians are storytellers. Screenplay writers and business leaders are storytellers. Teachers, preachers, nurses, lawyers, priests, scientists, salespeople, artists, mothers, fathers, poets, philosophers, brothers, sisters, babysitters, grandparents...we are all storytellers.

The future belongs to the storytellers and it belongs to us. What will it be like? Well, that depends very much on the stories we tell, the stories we listen to, and the stories we live."
(from Rediscover Catholicism, p. 136)

there was more, but that's the gist of it. and it's something i've been thinking a lot about the last couple of days.

yesterday, in my religious ed class, my thirdborn wrote this on a piece of paper he put on a poster for the souls we were remembering on all souls' day..."jeanni...she died of cancer, surrounded by friends and family." i often feel that emotionally, i have gone over to the dark side. or if that's too dramatic, i've definitely gone over to the whiny, self-centered side. but somehow he learned that story. the picture he drew was sad but peaceful. sad faces, but a slight smile on jeanni's face. it was kind of crazy. like i was looking at a picture from a story that was so beautiful. and then i was like, "hey! that's me in that story...i remember..." a couple of the kids in my class stated that they couldn't participate because no one had ever died in their families. after pointing out that yes, someone has died unless their family has the secret to eternal life on earth, they clarified that they'd never KNOWN anyone who died. and i was surprised that they hadn't heard any stories of those they didn't know...those who went before them. my oldest son loves to tell his younger brothers about an uncle he knew that they were too young to remember. i can tell it makes him feel connected to the past in a way he doesn't understand but still feels compelled by. i tell them stories of my grandmother that helped raise me. i caught myself telling them a story about a grandfather that died when i was five months i was handing down a story i'd been told because i never knew him either.

anyway, this is what's been on my mind lately...well, when it's not screaming in frustration, anger, exhaustion...but that's a story for another day.