Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

You Know You House Sit A Lot When...

I wrote this from my own experience...

You Know You House Sit A Lot When:

1. The pets think the owners are the house sitters.
2. Your client’s keys stay on your key ring all the time.
3. You know everyone else’s kitchens better than your own.
4. You never have to go grocery shopping because food is already provided.
5. You don’t remember what’s in your closet, but you know what’s in your bag.
6. You regularly chat with your client’s neighbors but don’t remember the names of yours.
7. Your roommate introduces herself/himself to you when you come home.
8. You arrange all of your contact information, cell phone, PO Box for your address, and e-mail, so you are reachable wherever you may be living at the moment.
9. You don’t plant anything in the spring because you won’t be around to water it anyway.
10. Going home feels like a vacation.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Anyone up for a game?

Today felt like a brief visit from autumn, a hint of those cooler nights with hot chocolate, wrapped up in a quilt and listening to the rain fall. I love every season for it's own reasons and once in a while, while enjoying one, it's nice to be reminded of the beauty of another. It was peace giving and quieting.

This week I have been trying to get back into writing but am reminded that writing is a lot like exercising. It's hard to be happy with it when you haven't done it in a while. But as I hang out with friends and walk this earth, there is a reminder over and over again, (I'm suspecting it's God), that I am born to write. That is my gift and I am meant to pour it out. Sometimes I wish I could show what's in my head in other ways, I feel I often fall far short of the best of myself , except in my writing. It's much purer and more open. Then again, we are usually our worst critics. Still, I wish it was easier. I wish I wasn't so concerned about writing for the next book. The best poems, the ones people really connect with, are the one's I had to write or, as a neclace of mine says, I must "throw a hissy fit". It's gotta be one of the two and the hissy fit in words is what usually comes out well.

So just be warned. My poetic mind now has free license to actually follow through with all the ideas that run through my head. And as my friends know, anything is up for grabs when it comes to inspiration. Anything. Anything at all. In fact, if anyone wants to play this game with me, give me a subject to try out and I'll see what I can do. It's great exercise for me and quite fun. Two friends and I did this at a bazaar last season and one of the poems at least, is going to be published in the next book. So go ahead, try me...

Labels: , ,

Balloon Man-God

Lately, I have felt like a balloon animal twisted and turned and unwound all at the same time. Last week was extremeley busy and by the end of it, I was completely drained, I didn't have anythingleft to give, I felt tight and all twisted up inside. Enter the balloon master. Out of his bag, he pulls out a greeen balloon and blew it up with his breath. I thought this odd and a bit troublesome until hestarted twisting and turning it in his hands and when he was finished, there was a beautiful balloon tree he held out to me as a gift. Surprised and pleased,I took it from his hands and started unwinding myself. I love it when he gives me exactly what I need when I need it. I feel cared for and loved.

To put this in layman's terms, I was given a housesitting job out in the country after just finishing another one that had taken place during my busy week. At first, I thought, "I've already been gone a week!" Butthen I started realizing the benefits to being out in the country for a rather unscheduled week and I took a deep breath,enjoying where I found myself. In a beautiful setting, out in the hills, what a great time to write and relax,to refill myself when that is so desperately needed.

In this endevor, I am not alone. I am surrounded by several animals and I do believe this takes second placein the amount of animals I have house sat for at one time: 4 dogs, two cats, three chickens, one rooster, threegoldfish, and a rabbit. Fifteen llamas, one dog, and three cats is hard to beat. There is actually someone who comes in the morning for the rooster, chickens, and two of the dogs and I do the rest of the day. Let me describe some of these animals for you. First we haveGhita. Think of a Tazmanian Devil Mop and you have a great picture of her. She's pretty cute and usually hassome small beloved stuffed animal in her mouth that she carries around. For her compatriot, think of a small stuffed black sheep inthe shape of a poodle and you have Peanute, the distance runner. That dog has speed. Luckily, she also listens, mostly, so I don't lose her. The bunny, I am quite sure, is possesed. Every time I reach in it's cage to put food in its bowl, it lunges for my hand. I am thinking of getting it on some kind of mental medication as it is the most frightening part of the day.

That is, is was frightening until I discovered I have been harboring killers in the household. Last night when I went into to thebathroom before going to bed, I came upon a gruesome murder scene. There was blood and guts, a severed head,and the killers I am sure were still lurking. After plucking the bloody eyeballs off the floor and the scattered feathers while managing not to retch, I fell asleep hoping I was too big for the cats to pick on me.

The house itself is on a wooded hill and there are so many stairs going from one room to the next, I feel like I am going through one of those staircase mazes all the time. A great workout. Being out there on my own could be a littlefrightening except for the fact that my friend and her husband live just up the hill. Knowing they are nearby ifI needed help is comforting. The owners also have several books by Kahil Gibran, one of my favorite poets and a hottub soI am a happy camper. Still, it will be nice to get home next week but who knows for how long. Meanwhile, I will be out herein the woods taking some time for myself and writing for the next book. Have a great week!


Monday, July 28, 2008

Snake Skin

It has now become a running joke amongst my small group in Portland. We meet once a month to talk together about spiritual and emotional growth and for the past several months we have been focussing on the enneagram which we have loved looking at together. For those who know the enneagram, I am a four - the individualistic artist. Makes sense doesn't it? If you don't know the enneagram, I know how you feel. I went through many of my years at seminary hearing my friends bat their numbers around like they were doing religous algebra. "Well, I'm a seven with an eight wing moving on to the five." Hello? What is that supposed to mean? So I took a class on the subject from Katie Skurja. I would recomend her workshops to anyone by the way. Her material was one paradigm shift after another for me. Still is, actually...

Anyway, our homework has been to work on something characteristic of our number. I admit, I sort of fell into doing it without really meaning to follow through on the assignment. Oops. As you know if you've read my previous posts, I've been doing a lot of inner work with my body, even getting massages. (Another good recomendation for anyone in the Salem area.) Then one month, I show up with short, spikey hair. I had had worn my hair in a style I call "a bob with a twist" since I was in my early twenties so this was actually quite a big change and LOOOONNNGGG overdue. I loved it!

The next month, we're sitting out in the backyard and I turn my face to show them my nose piercing. It was something I had thought about doing for years but never had the courage to do it. But, God has a great sense of humor and he placed me in a job where I talked with a body piercer and asked her all my questions. She is one of those people who you immediately feel deeply at ease with and very safe as if you could tell her anything. A priecious find. So to her I went and she was great. She actually made sticking a needle through my nose a fun experience! I can see why she calls her shop Addictions. (Recomendation #3). Showing my small group my piercing was particularly fun as one of the members has been a mentor and friend to me since my early twenties, someone who has seen my journey first-hand.

The women started teasing me at that point what I was going to come with next month. So here is the answer - red hair. And spikier too! I think I may have to get a tattoo or my eyebrow pierced for month number four...

So I've been thinking about this and as a good poet, have come up with a good metaphor. Snake skin. As I've been growing and learning these last few years, like a snake, I outgrew my skin. Who I was inside didn't match who I looked like on the outside. It feels so freeing to finally have all parts of me congruent with integrity. It's one of the things fours tend to do. They have a whole world inside them and though that is still true, I am much more open to sharing it and sharing who I am by how I look. Also, something fours tend to do. It's important to be comfortable in your own skin and I admit, I enjoy breaking the boxes people tend to put me in. I imagine God likes doing that too. One of the best parts is, I don't think I've been carded for a drink since I cut my hair. I know I will enjoy being carded one day, but I have tended to look far younger than I am so I see this as a great accomplishment. Cheers!

Labels: ,

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quaker Worlds: Mind, Hands, and Heart

As I've already posted, the day after I attended North Pacific Yearly Meeting, I attended North West Yearly Meeting and these experiences got me thinking about all the times I've spent with other Quakers and what that has been like for me.

North West Yearly Meeting was an entirely different experience from the previous day. For one, NWYM is my Quaker home. It's where I was educated, where I grew to love the best in Quakerism, and within it are the flavors that drew me toward it. NWYM is also filled with many of my friends and mentors so I could never get very far the whole night without seeing and talking with someone I love. There was lots of hugging. It felt good to be back where I am comfortable and feel like myself.

You see, my Quaker life is very disjointed. I am a part of three Quaker groups and though they are side by side in some respects, I have never seen them interconnect. It's rather odd, but so it is. Relationships in one are completely different from relationships in another and so I live between three worlds. Each one offers me a gift. By themselves, they are not enough, but together, they have helped me grow in ways I could not have foreseen. Through one, I was born and raised into Quakerism, I have been stretched by another, and put to meaningful work by a third. I have come to call these worlds "Mind, Hands, and Heart".

In one place is the church I attend. It is the mind piece, my "growing edge" and though I love it, I haven't known them for that long - just shy of a year. We are a very diverse group and usually focus on ministry and life-style. I do like it because those are areas where I'm growing and need that space to learn and try my hand at doing things within the church. We don't discuss spirituality or the heart much, though, things I love to talk about. The gift in that, is that I am free to explore God in whatever way I want, personal faith is not asked about in the way I'm used to and there is no one there to tell me differently. (Not that I would heed them if I disagreed anyway.) This may be strange sounding to some of you, I'm still getting used to this style of church myself. The church as a whole is focussed more on the visible outgrowth of faith. It engages my mind. The church is like North Pacific Yearly Meeting in that respect. When I need to talk about spirituality, I just go to my mentors. Still, coming from where I have, a church that doesn't talk much about our relationship with God can get lonely.

My second Quaker life is with the Quaker Youth Book Project and Quakers United in Publishing. This is my forte', my hand piece, this is what I love doing in the Quaker world. It combines art, spirituality, writing, creativity, ecumenicalism, and a bit of travel, many of my favorite things rolled into one beautiful project. It has been so much fun and an honor to be a part of. I feel like I have brothers and sisters all over the world in my fellow board members and I cherish them and what we're creating. I love having something I am passionate about to promote and to discuss with others who are also excited about what we're doing. However, as much as I am enjoying it, I also need faces nearby, a community around me.

My third and biggest Quaker life is in the North West Yearly Meeting, my heart piece. Everything and everyone that brought me to Quakerism are there. I spent the whole evening last night running into one person after another and with several I am acquainted with but don't know well, I had to ask to be reminded where I knew them. George Fox? Reedwood Church? Silverton Friends Church? Rivers Way? Women's Theology Conference? (My small group is also NWYM.) Out of context, you know... But I had a ball! I could hear "the song of Quakerism" I first learned to sing sung throughout the evening and I cherished hearing it again after so much time of hearing other music. Some of the people there have known me for many years, others, even since I was a child. I feel grounded and accepted exactly as I am when I am with them. They know my story, who I have been and the journey I have taken to who I am now. In fact, many of them have had a good influence on the person I am and what I'm intrigued with. It feels like coming home for Christmas when I'm around them. And though the evangelicalism can sometimes aggravate me, I've known it since I was small in the Nazarene denomination and it can be comfortingly familiar even as I want to protest some finer theological points. It's not something I would want to be immersed in all the time, I need the space my church gives me, but like being wrapped in a beloved blanket for a while, it feels very safe and warm.

I am sure others share in my experience of having different faith groups so close together that may even be interrelated but still separate. Personally, I would like to see them a little more integrated as it can be tiring to go between three. Still, I wouldn't give any one of them up, I need each: mind, hands, and heart. It will be interesting to see how they play out in time to come.

Labels: , , ,

North West Yearly Meeting

The next afternoon, I geared up for round two. North West Yearly Meeting, the other for our area, was just starting their Yearly Meeting at George Fox University in Newburg, the Evangelical Quaker Meca. I thought it would be interesting going to the meetings back to back for comparison's sake. I had arranged to attend the Young Adult Barbeque in the evening, 30-40 Quaker young adults in one spot, I couldn't pass that up. What a fantasic chance to let people know about our project! I was also thrilled to see my friend Krissi from seminary. We met when we shared a room at the retreat where I had decided to become a Quaker. It was nice to see a friendly face and to catch up with each other over dinner.

Finding my way around George Fox, like OSU, was not a problem as I earned my Master's at their Portland campus, and had visited the main campus a handful of times. Most of their meetings took place in Bauman Auditorium so display in hand, I found the spot reserved for me on a table near the end of the hall. A friendly looking woman stopped to talk with me about the project and as soon as she found out I was from Freedom Friends Church, she started laughing. Not giggling, but out right, head thrown back laughing. Puzzlement roamed my face as I tried to figure out what I had just said that was so funny. Seeing my question, she slowly recovered and explained to me she had been "out" for several years and that attending yearly meeting was difficult for her as they were not accepting of that. She had visited us before, even knew Alivia, and liked the church. Finding out we were both artists and spiritual directors, we got along well and she invited me to sit with her for the evening worship and talk.

After sitting beside her, I busied myself looking around the auditorium and felt very much at home. Unlike the other yearly meeting, this group are Christians and there was a candle in the front with some quote about the kingdom. It reminded me a bit of the church I grew up in and perhaps for that reason, I felt more open to entering into the experience. We sang great old hymns I have loved since childhood, words that resound deeply in my heart. I also knew a row of friends from a church I enjoy attending in Portland were sitting a few rows back which included one of my closest friends from seminary.
I managed to get through the talk without getting horribly wriggly. (My attention span is not wonderful and I noticed others around me also shared this affliction after two hours.) And at that point, it could have ended as an interesting night. But North West Yearly Meeting is the meeting through which I became a Quaker, it's my Quaker home, and so I know a TON of people who were there. For the rest of the night, I could never get very far without seeing another friend. I got to talk about the project with many who were interested in what we were creating and I got to hand out a lot of writing submission guidelines. Seeing all my friends was the best part though and I am really glad I went. On Wednesday, I will be attending all day so am sure I will be writing about this Yearly Meeting again.

Labels: , ,

North Pacific Yearly Meeting

The place was extremely familiar to me, the event I was going to was not. For weeks I had been talking with people and making connections before attending the North Pacific Yearly Meeting for Quakers. I was looking forward to the event. I had never attended either yearly meeting for my area but was excited to promote the Quaker Youth Book Project and to talk about the Editorial Board I'm on. As I approached the south side of the Oregon State University campus where it was being held, I thought to myself, "How am I going to find this group?" Then I realized, "How hard can it be to find 200-300 Quakers?" and I replied to myself, "Well, I don't know, they're pretty silent." Pulling into a parking lot, I figured I would just drive around until I saw all the peace bumper stickers. It didn't take long. Fully loaded down, I then found my way to the main auditorium where I used to sing on a regular basis with the University Singers when I attended college there. Even just walking around brought back lots of memories.

People were still in their worship groups when I arrived so after commandeering space for my display, I found the registration room where some Friends were working away. After hearing it was my first time attending, they assured me they were very friendly and as if to prove the point, an aquaintance from the Women's Theology Conference started taking me around and introducing me to the people she thought I should know, the main one as it turns out, I was already acquainted with. At lunch, I found the "Young Friends" table, also not hard, and talked with their clerks about the project. They were a friendly group and very nice. We even compared our nose piercings.

The adult yearly meeting folks were polite though I did feel a little awkward as I only knew a few people there and their way of speaking and their theology is something I have only really heard about and rarely experienced. Sitting in on a meeting about the Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice, one man stopped the discussion, and started in on a clarification of Quaker Practice. Inside, my jaw just dropped and I thought to myself, "You REALLY talk like that? I thought that was just a charictature. Apparently not." I was suddenly very glad the Quaker church I attend has consciously worked hard on not using language like that. Not so much because it's wrong, because it's not, but it just keeps things so much simpler. But they were nice people and I enjoyed seeing the few I knew. At business meeting they introduced me, and for most of the rest of the meeting, I looked through the Friends Journal of which my friend is the editor. It was something fun to do in the midst of hearing minutes on war and the environment.

The thing that impressed me the most was after dinner when I joined the young adult business meeting to talk about the book and answer any questions they had. I really liked how they handled the meeting and at the end, they invited me to join them for their open worship. This was the part I liked the most, young adults choosing for themselves with no older adults to sit quietly together and to speak the truth to each other. It was a beautiful thing.

My highlight of the day was the "Community Night", the yearly meeting's talent show. It was hillariosly funny as they displayed their talents and made fun of their Quaker Ways which was particularly humorous to me as I'd seen those ways all day. My favorite was the rock band with invisible instruments singing about "Foxy George".

Altogether, it was a good day and I gained yet another perspective of the Quaker I hadn't yet seen. Thank you for having me! I look forward to seeing you all again!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We Took First!

The quilt I made for Stacey took first in its class at the Marion County Fair! I am excited other people get to see it and perhaps have creative ideas of their own. I called Stacey right away to let her know and to say she was BEYOND thrilled would be a vast understatement. As she says, the quilt has taken on a life of it's own. I learned so much from making it and still enjoy learning ever more deeply it's message of taking the chance on really living your life and treasuring the friends who walk, and dance, with you along the way.

Labels: , ,