Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: May 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

Today Megan and I took the morning slow and easy. She made blueberry pancakes and then we headed over to the zoo in the afternoon. I hadn't been to a zoo in I don't know how long, it was really fun! They have a special exhibit there where you can feed the birds, it was a highlight for both Megan and I. I also loved the elephants and monkeys. We later went out for beer, cheese curds and stuffed mushrooms. It's been fun to taste the food Wisconsin is famous for, particularly the beer. Though according to Megan, I'm a lightweight. She works at Mo's Irish Pub so she should know. I think we're going out in a bit with one of her friends.

Since her "e" key is rather broken on her keyboard, I'm going to add pictures since typing e's is a bit of a hassle. A picture is worth a thousand words anyway.

365-09 #151

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Day in Madison

We are at Megan's apartment resting before going to Mo's Irish Pub. This morning I accompanied Ian and Sara to a pilates class. It was quite fun and a great workout. The teacher was encouraging and gentle. I really appreciated that.

Megan and I went to Madison and walked State Street between the University and the capital. The lake was beautiful as well as the baby ducks. The capital itself was also amazing, four floors covered in marble and art work.

I'm going to go cuddle up in her easy chair now, I'm tired.

365-09 #150

Labels: ,

Friday, May 29, 2009

Not Allowed to Take the Bus After Dark

What a day! This morning I got to sleep in until 8 am and had a leisurely breakfast with Sara made up of tea and toast. Megan picked me up at 10:30 and we drove to Lake Michigan so I could see it in the daylight. I saw it that one night I spent in Chicago and last night after dark, but I had never actually seen how you can't see to the other side of the lake. Megan told me it was seventy miles to the other side and that you can go out in the middle of the lake and feel like you're in the middle of the ocean because you can't see any land. Imagine that! Looking at her in the car, I can't put my finger on exactly why, but she looks older. She looks and acts like an adult. When did that happen?

If I did a quote of the day, this would be it: "I don't do poop." Thanks for that goes to Megan as she was explaining her experience working as a speech pathologist in the hospital. Cracked me up.

So after she picked me up, Megan drove me down to the park and I took pictures, it was so much fun! Then we walked around Marquette's campus and looked at a chapel from the 14 hundreds Joan of Arc supposedly touched. My love of Christian history went wild on that one. Megan showed me where she used to live and we drove through the Historic Third District. For those who know Portland, think the Pearl District. By that point, both of us were really hungry so we went to her apartment for lunch. My sister is a very good cook. While we ate on her balcony, I told her about the cookie dough post and she retorted in relation to her never letting me have any cookie dough that I could make my own. She was never very sympathetic in that department.

Megan dropped me off at the art museum before she headed to work, it's the art museum you see in all the pictures of Milwaukee with the giant wing span and yes, it is that cool. I took lots of pictures inside and then proceeded to wear myself out walking through the exhibits. It took me several hours. At one point, I turned a corner and saw a painting then proceeded to jump up and down a bit and cover my mouth. Eagerly, I hurried up to it and I was right- it was a genuine painting by Claude Monet. I had seen an exhibit of his work when I was in high school but it was still exiting. They also had a copy of the "The Kiss" sculpture and a Rouse. They EVEN had some icons I got very exited about and a gallery of Georgia O'Keeffe though I didn't see anything of hers I particularly liked. I felt like I was walking through a physical expression of my art appreciation class from college because they had a lot of the modern stuff there as well such as furniture and exhibits the viewer literally enters into.

When I wore myself out from walking around there, I headed down Wisconsin Avenue for dinner finding a used bookstore on my way. This was one of the coolest bookstores I've been in. It was two floors of books that just seemed to keep going and going. Some of the bookshelves were tilting this way and that and I have no idea if they have EVER weeded through their bookshelves, it's one of the most eclectic selections I have come across. They even had a whole section on Vietnam War fiction. One of the coolest things was that their religion section took up a great deal of room on the first floor so I found a volume by Robert Benson who i have very much enjoyed before, "Boundaries" for my spiritual direction library, and another book of writings about the soul's journey which I also thought would be good to read and then place in my spiritual direction library.

Dinner took me quite a while to find but I finally settled on the the Jame Hawke's Pub right on the the Milwaukee River. I sat at a table with the river flowing past and ordered beer and a fish fry-Milwaukee classics I am told. When I got back to where I'm staying, Ian, Sara, and I went into the hot tub. It felt so good to be in the hot water after all that walking around.

Milwaukee, I am told by Ian and Megan, is one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. After my experiences with the Diversity conference and my time with the editorial board where the emphasis was on togetherness and unity in our differences, to be in a city where differences divide and separate, i'ts a startling contrast. As I was trying to locate a bus stop for the #10 to catch back to Ian and Sara's tonight, a black man asked me what I was looking for and he pointed me to the right one, To whoever you are, thank you. Thank you for holding out that hand of help and kindness to let me know that skin colors are not dividers, attitudes are.

P.S. I'm not allowed to take the bus after dark. Ian, Sara, and Megan all say so.

365-09 #149

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Enjoying Milwaukee

I got to Milwaukee safe and sound. The flights here were completely uneventful-just how I like them. When I talked to my sister tonight and confirmed I am here, she exclaimed, "Yay!" That meant so much to me.

I spent the flight getting overdue thank you notes written, journaling, and reading two books I brought along. From the Milwaukee airport, I worked my way through the public transit system, finding my way to the Harris' house where I am staying the night. Ian and Sara have been wonderful hosts. While Sara made home made pizza for dinner, Ian took me down to the Milwaukee River which runs behind their house through the woods. You would NEVER know you're in the middle of the city down there, it looks so peaceful. Ian has worked down there in the wildlife preserve a lot, cleaning things up, working on encouraging the forest growth. It's actually been a project for their whole meeting as their meeting house is also next to the reserve. (I got a tour of that too.) It was the most beautifully placed meeting house I've seen. One curved wall is lined with floor to ceiling windows that look out over the forest, so pretty.

After dinner, (which was incredible), Ian and I drove to another part of town for custard, like ice cream but with a lot more egg, it's much smother. He recommended the butter pecan cone which I loved. While we were at it, he took me all over the city and gave me a tour. We looked at the architecture, he pointed out buildings, told me stories, and took me by the lake where we stopped and listened to the water lap on the shore. (And yes, you really can't see the other side.) I got to see the downtown skyline from both the north and south sides and we talked about how much snow they get every year.

Tomorrow Megan is picking me up at 10 and we'll hang out until 2. I may play around downtown after that, not entirely sure about that part actually. In the evening, I'm going to the pub where she works and will go home with her. Maybe I'll go to the art museum. Ian says I should at least go inside and see the building but I'd like the art too.

On an entirely different note, I've been dealing with some of what I call "life" this week. The particulars are not important, suffice it to say I was quite upset with what happened and with myself. Then today, I learned some important lessons from it. First, I need to forgive myself. I find forgiving others is easy, it's myself that's hard. I'm on my knees before Jesus, waiting for judgement like the woman caught in adultery. One by one, I hear the rocks fall around me and I hear him ask, "Has so no one condemned you?" In wonderment I answer, "No one my Lord." "Then neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more." At no other time in my life have these words been so felt, so powerful to my heart, or gone more deeply than tonight. Though there is still difficulties to be dealt with, the interesting thing is, I was asked to say the same thing. I was asked to turn around to my fellow soul who is in the same position of angst and say, "Neither do I condemn you." What happened still hurts, but it hurts a lot less when condemnation is no longer there.

365-09 #1148

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Place I Can Paint

I am just about to head up to Portland to stay the night at a friend's house before flying out in the morning. I'm even checked in already. I'll try and keep up everyday with the blog, let you know how everything is going.

This afternoon, I was leaving the school I substituted at when a lady I know from another church I belonged to saw me. She works there in the office. We got to talking and confirmed we are both at the same churches we were at the last time we talked. She said, "There is a place for everybody." I agreed there was and told her, "I'm glad there is a place for me." Even with my frustrations of churches in general, I am really glad I found a group who gives people room, who gives them open space to stretch out their own roots and branches. I've been like a painter, painting many colors on my spiritual canvas. It's a beautiful picture, God and I's creation, but everyone needs a place to pull out their brushes and make some brush strokes. I'm glad I found the places where I can paint.

365-09 #147

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Packing for Milwaukee

I've spent a good deal of my day getting ready for and packing for my trip. Most of the packing is now finished, the stuff I will need to work on tomorrow are the things I want to have done by the time I leave. We'll see how I do. It's been my lesson in you can't do everything. Some things will just have to wait for when I return. It just makes me nervous because then I think I'm forgetting something. It sounds like Megan and I are going to have a lot of fun. She is not working on Friday morning so we are going to get together then too then I'll meet up with her in the late evening at her work and go home with her then. Until then, I'm staying with some gracious Quakers who I am looking forward to meeting. Megan is thinking of us going for a day to Madison where she has never been before. It would fun to see it together. But no matter what we see, I am just happy I get to do it with her. Most of our visits since she left the Northwest in 2003 has been for a few hours at most once or twice a year. This trip is a real treat. I will still be blogging and letting you know how it's going.

365-09 #146

Labels: ,

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hearing the Earth

Today my friends Julie, Shawn and I went hiking in the Columbia Gorge. It was a beautiful day, perfect for a hike and we picked a good one to do. For those in Oregon, you start just west of Multnomah Falls and go up two miles of switch backs to the top of the ridge. Then you go for a mile toward Multnomah Falls then two miles of switch backs going down. It's 5.5 miles in all. I'm sure I will be sore tomorrow.

Today particularly reminded me how much influence my Native American roots has over me. When I live in the city, I feel like I'm suffocating and every so often, I just have to get OUT. Out into the woods with creeks, lakes, small trees, and wild flowers. MOUNTAINS. It's like hearing the song of my soul in discord among buildings but when I go into the woods, I hear the harmony of the earth and of God in perfect sync with the beat of my heart. The earth speaks to me in a way I can't explain, water, especially like the creek I drank from today, sings to me and touches me deeply. I feel like myself out there in the wild, I feel free.

Particularly on the second half of the hike as we stayed close to the Multnomah Creek before it reaches the famous falls, I saw all these wonderful places I would have loved to stay at and just talked to God. Sunlit with shade, the water flowing past, it looked like Heaven to me. I wondered if that is what it will be like after I die. That God and I could take a walk through this beautiful and wild garden, talking, sitting, just being together. It sounds wonderful to me. At one particularly beautiful and inviting spot, I said, "It looks like you created this place, designed it like a gardener would." He simply replied, "I did." He did indeed. I will be (hopefully) hiking a lot this summer.

365-09 #145

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Personal Finances: A New Approach

I've mentioned before I am working on my personal finances. Though I have never been a big spender, I am much more of a saver, I have been watching what I buy even more carefully and am working on new ways of managing of my money. In this particular part of my life, I feel like I am making a new tower of marble works like I did when I was a kid. There were all these pieces you could put together in different ways that guided the marbles through things like pegs, wheels, grooves, slides, all kinds of things. I would make it really tall and then dump a lot of marbles in at once to see them all go down. It was dreadfully noisy, one of my favorite toys.

I am now back with all those pieces in my hands, learning about them, trying them out in different combinations, preparing the tower bit by bit, level by level. So far, I've talked to both banks I have accounts at and learned exactly what those accounts are and the limits that go along with them. Between business and personal, I have eight accounts in all so the discussions were lengthy. After school is out, I am going back to both banks to discuss investments with their financial advisers. That is a step I am taking down the road but hopefully pretty soon.

One of the first steps I am taking now is to put most of my smaller purchases on my credit card every month. This includes gas, if I go out to eat (which is not that often), groceries if they take credit cards, and my recent airline ticket purchase to Milwaukee. Then, at some point in the month, usually just a few weeks, I go online and transfer the money from my checking to the credit card balance. I really don't like having that balance out there so I always have it back to 0 well before they send any bill. At first reading, I bet you're shouting at me to stop doing this immediately, to not rack up credit card debt. First, I would like to say it is a system I am trying out. Secondly, I am so adverse to owing anybody money, including credit card debt, that I am in no way concerned I will not pay it off even before the money is due. It is precisely my practice of saving up for something before I buy it that I am using my credit card. I've only had them for two years. I got them so I could build up a credit history which is why I am using them now, so there is history of me paying things off if I ever want an auto loan or mortgage. The other reason I've been using this method is to make it easier for me to keep track of how much is in my checking account. I haven't been good about keeping track of that for years so this way, I have less to keep track of at first. It's a good step. I would NOT advise anyone who does not completely trust themselves with a credit card to use this method. But even just in the short time I've been using it, it's been working for me. I just need to get on a regular schedule of checking it and paying it off every month.

After I get a better idea of what I do spend money on, I am going to create a new budget and use some form of the envelope method. I am still figuring all this out. So far, I am taking it piece by piece, adding a bit here and there, thinking about my immediate and long term goals. Some systems works for me and some I have found just haven't. Or maybe the system is a good idea but needs to be implemented differently. These are the things I am working on.

(Thanks go to Adria and the U-Turn Challenge participants for giving me the example of posting about your personal finances on a blog. )

365-09 #144

Labels: , ,

Drunks are Funny

I've decided that drunk people can be pretty funny. I was out last night with a friend and her husband at a karaoke bar with a larger group and then we went to another bar because her husband wanted to dance. An acquaintance from where I used to work saw me there and was surprised to see me as I "didn't seem the type". I admit, I'm not the type to go to the bars and dance till two am. You will far sooner find me at a pub with a micro brew in my hands talking with a few friends in a place I can actually hear myself think. Lately, to be quite honest, and depending on the friends, I would rather be home cuddled in a quilt with a good book. But every once in a while, about once a year or two, I get curious and a little rebellious and go to a bar with a friend. Inevitably, my eyebrows raise at people's behavior there. They can be quite rude, cross boundaries that should not be crossed, and drink way too much.

After careful observation, I reached the conclusions that drunk people become very friendly with each other. You can have just met someone and you are suddenly a great friend. They also get much louder. Of course, that could be because they are trying to make themselves heard above the music. Drunk people also hug each other a lot. Maybe it's their sexual frustration trying to find out who would be receptive to further approaches.

So I did my annual bar time, doing what many other young adults my age do. Well, mostly. I only drank one beer and used the excuse of needing to drive for the rest of the night. I also didn't let the one guy I danced with, besides Melanie's husband, stick his hands on me. When he took a step forward on the dance floor, I danced a step back. We moved over two yards that way.

This morning at our discussion group before church, we talked about a quote of George Fox's where he instructed his readers to be the same person wherever they went. After my experience at the bar last night, that struck home to me. I want to be the same person wherever I go. I don't want to go to a bar, drink too much and let a guy grope me when I don't do that during the day. I also don't want to present myself as someone who doesn't like to go out and have fun because I do. I like having a beer, I just like good friends and good conversation to go along with it. Very much like the time four of us spent to celebrate Stacey's birthday.

Please do me a favor when next year when I start getting curious and rebellious again and think of going to a bar and tell me that I would far prefer a book. Still, it was fun to get to know Melanie and her husband better and to spend some time with them. That was awesome. And yes, I did get up and sing one song. The beer and chocolate covered strawberries helped.

365-09 #143


Friday, May 22, 2009

Servant Leadership

A few posts ago I told about a talk I heard on servant leadership. Today I saw it in action. While working in an elementary office this morning, the music teacher asked me to cut out these giant nautical wheels, nine in all. I was thinking after completing the first one, the other eight were going to take me all day if I even finished. But while starting the third, I stepped away from my desk and came back to see a third completely cut out with the other two. The principal, seeing the time intesive work I was doing helped me cut them one by one. It took us a while to do it but we finished them all in the early afternoon. Most principals don't even see the substitutes, some, along with vice-principals, will say thank you for coming. One even offered to let me keep my things in her office. But I have never, in all my time substituting, met one who helped me do my job. Substitutes often get the menial tasks, things adminstrators never do. I commented on this to the other lady in the office, who had also been very kind, and she confirmed my observation, the principal helped out wherever he was needed, even if that included emptying the trash cans. Many leaders feel they are above such things and they think that gives them power. But I have been learning what gives things like power, freedom, and life are quite different than I have believed. In fact, they are often quite the opposit. True leadership is among equals, an acknowledgement of every soul's worth, and a willingness to walk with them. That is true power.

365-09 #142


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Looking Forward to Milwaukee!

I am getting very excited to go to Milwaukee next week. It will be fun to send out an itinerary for myself and not someone else. Imagine that! I have a lot of planning that needs to be done, the details like which buses to take where, where is that Irish pub where my sister works, finding luggage I can borrow from someone I can use as a carry on instead of checking a bag in, that kind of stuff.

This afternoon I talked on the phone with Megan about the trip, I'm looking forward to seeing her. We talked about what we are going to do while I'm there and one of the things is going to be a drive outside the city. I want to see what the countryside looks like. I love traveling and seeing new places, especially when it includes someone I love. Now that the tap show is over, I can focus on other things like this trip. It's such a gift to myself and her to be able to go. Ahh...

I have been reading too, taking time for myself which has been very much needed these last few months. Though I have a very long to-do list, I have been taking the time to lose myself in a good book. I take whatever delicious pages of goodness I'm reading out on the porch, sit in the comfortable chair with my feet on the railing, the sun shining, and my flowers smiling. I like where I'm at.

365-09 #141

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm All Booked Up

Step by step, item by item, I've been going through things, cleaning them up, getting rid of them, making straight the way. One of the things I did was go through my bookshelves. This would have been a hard process if I had discarded more than a few. :) But how can I? They are my friends! My only collection is my library. I love adding special books to my shelves, especially when they are signed by the author. And no, I have not autographed my own books for myself in case you were wondering.

I like finding the messy faith classics. You know, the incredible writers of the last 2000 years most mainstream Christians have never heard of. Yeah, I love those. These include Mechthild of Magdeburg, Therese of Liseux, Kahil Gibran, and Karl Rahner. They are the cloud of witnesses around me, my spiritual ammas and abbas, my guides. I also have collections around Ireland, English Literature of the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, poetry (of course), photography, and Christianity and faith in general. I have some Janet Oak fiction, The Boxcar Children, and a lot of the American Girls collection books from growing up along with Mr. Pudgins, Pete's Dragon, and The Three Bernstein Bears and the Spooky Old Tree which I understand my mother had to read to me A LOT.

I am proud of my library. The books are like stepping stones speaking to where I have been, what I have learned, and to where I am going. They are voices I hear in my head. "Live the unanswered question," Rilke says. "Self-Knowledge is like the unfolding of a lotus flower," Gibran tells me. "Don't bother with the Caterpillar pillar," another goes. My friends at seminary and I came up with a fantastic excuse to buy books, we needed to have our own libraries and resources for our future directees to borrow from. So I am really being quite unselfish in developing my library. (Wink, wink.)

When I was growing up, books were my escape. I would take my backpack, fill it with books and snacks, and climb the tree in the front yard as high as I could go and I would sit up there all afternoon reading away. Sometimes, books can still be an escape for me but they have become more of a place to go than a place I go away from. I love what I learn. I love the worlds opened up to me through books. But most of all, I love who I become because of them.

This afternoon I took most of the books I no longer wanted down to the Book Bin, a used bookstore I really like to see if they would want to buy any of them. They surprised me by taking most of them and I was thrilled. In return, they would either give me $10.05 in cash or $16 in store credit. Which would you have chosen? Yeah, even with all my personal finance work and need to save up for auditing classes in the fall, I went with the store credit. It was so fun to pick out my books! I felt like a kid in a candy store! First, I selected a copy of, "The Four Agreements", a book I have told you about before that was a paradigm shift for me in my life and thinking. Then I chose another book I have wanted to have in my library for some time, "Kitchen Table Wisdom" by Rachel Naomi Remen. This book and it's companion, "My Grandfather's Blessing", which I already have a used copy of, should be, I believe, required reading for every spiritual director, counselor, and anyone in the health field. They are amazing, filled with truth books that have taught me so much about caring for the human soul. I treasure both volumes. To round it off, I bought a book by Anne Lamott. I have read one book of hers but it was enough to make me really like her as an author. She is so honest and frank, she is real and I appreciate that and can relate to her in her humanness. They are all books I will be happy to have in my library. Leaving the bookstore, I figured we were both happy. I got rid of several books I didn;t want in return for a few I do that take up a lot less space. They got some books they can sell for a higher price and make some money. It's a win-win. I love win-win. I think I may go through my bookshelves again to see if there are any I would be willing to sell to them. I am sure there are other books I would rather read. But that will wait till down the road. I have other things to focus on in the here and now. Like all those books waiting at the library for me to read... So many books, so little time.

(A quick note for fun. A friend took me out to eat after photographing a play tonight and when the waiter asked me how I wanted my steak, I said, (after a full night mind you), without thinking, "over-easy." Trying to translate that into meat terms, she askes me, "Medium-rare?" (Me slightly embarrassed and greatly amused) "Yes, please, medium-rare. Thank you." Apparently, funny things can come out without thinking.

#365-09 #140

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cookie Dough Anyone?

You know you've gotten to know your new(er) roommate when you are well aware that the new package of cookie dough in the fridge will never see the inside of the oven. Growing up, I loved sticking my finger in the bowl for the cookie dough. I thought it was so much better than the cookies. Sure, you had to put up with a smack from the spoon trying to get your finger in, but hey, it was worth it. When my younger sister was old enough to make cookies, I thought she would be more understanding, more on my side, you know? Apparently not I realized after a couple of smacks landed on my hand from her. The betrayal was deep. So when I finally got a place of my own, I instituted the "cookie dough tax". If cookie dough is made anywhere on the premises, I get a small portion from the bowl, preferably at least one of the beaters. Katie happily obliged. It was always a huge compliment to Katie when I told her I liked the resulting cookie better than the dough. My roommate now will probably never make cookies. She makes the dough and stops right there. Actually, she doesn't even make it, she buys it. I like commercial cookie dough well enough, but homemade is still my favorite. I will make cookies on occasion now just for the dough. Any baking is an afterthought. Though I have enjoyed baking the cookies too, did that the other day in fact. The dough wasn't as good, however, I'll have to work on that. The big exception to my homemade preference was when my mom bought a whole huge box of Mrs. Fields macadamian nut and white chocolate pre-shaped cookie dough. The perfect size for me to reach into the freezer in the garage and grab one, day after day. I wonder if she ever realized how much of that I ate? Yum... I love being an adult.

365-09 #139


Monday, May 18, 2009

Thank you Saint John of the Cross

Phew! I just finished my monthly editing for Western Friend. It's my favorite issue so far! Great articles.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the movements of my life these last five years. Between the reunion, dance show, reading, and small group tonight, I have new language to think about, to ponder on. Our life with God is so mysterious in many ways and you see whole new aspects to it as life gives you a different point of view. Whatever this current process is, whatever it brings me or takes away, I welcome it. I know even the darkness doesn't have to be dark and that the light is not always revealing. Dark can be light and light can be dark. And when the dark does come, I welcome it like a deep pool of prayer, somewhere I can soak and be touched by his hand. Thank you Saint John of the Cross for explaining what my heart cannot.

365-09 #138

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Photo Published

As you know, I take photographs for the Pentacle Theatre. Last week, I took this one particularly for the Statesman Journal to advertise Hot Flashes. Here is the link to the article. Short and sweet and they don't give me credit, but that is my photo they used. Anyone have a copy of today's paper they can save for me?

365-09 #137

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Real Power

The reunion at George Fox was fantastic! I didn't really know what to expect but was thrilled with the break out sessions they had. After the meeting all together downstairs, you had the choice of professors you could go hear speak about various topics, take a break, and go to another. Many of my friends were there and we all chose different professors to start with. After the first session when we ran into each other in the hall, we all grinned and exclaimed, "This is SOOO cool!!!" We loved getting to hear our favorite professors speak again about topics of great interest and relished in the feeling of being there together again like we were years ago.

For the first session, I went to hear MaryKate Morse speak on her new book, "Making Room for Leadership", the book I'm waiting to read until I fly to Milwaukee. For the second, I went to hear Dr. Laura Simmons talk about her experiences of reconciliation when she went to visit Ireland, South Africa, and Rwanda. We all were choked up by the time she finished. Going to those two presentations was an interesting juxtaposition. MaryKate spoke about leadership, power, and servanthood, including a lot on how we physically carry ourselves, expressing or not expressing our power. Then Dr. Laura told us stories deeply heart breaking and others of forgiveness that made us cry. It made me think, there is a lot of power in forgiveness, a lot of opportunity to be a leader and a servant. It seems to be all three rolled up into one. Power like that moved us so deeply we could only silently cry. Power is how you carry yourself and how you physically weild that power, power is also in what we do, it is in forgiveness and in love. In fact, love and forgiveness is the most powerful force of all.

I had only been there mingling for a few minutes when Dr. Laura approached a group of us and gave us all fliers for a class she's teaching as an intensive in the fall, "Contemplation and Reconciliation" which any alumni who has taken her reconciliation class can audit for $50. She certainly knows how to take advantage of getting the word out! I think several of us will be joining her for that. I know, if I audit all I want to this fall, that will be 5 credits. But if I do, I will be getting all the book lists well beforehand so I have time to read a bit ahead of time. Besides, I really need the intellectual and spiritual challenge. I know I've said this before, but that part of me just feels like a shriveled up plant that I haven't bothered to water. I have started a book, "Dark Night of the Soul" a psychologist's look at the relationship between darkness and spirituality. (I finished the personal finance book this afternoon.) It's really good so far. The author is right, John of the Cross not only states the feelings I'm feeling, but he explains them. I love that. His book made a world of difference to me when I was going through my dark night. I can hardly wait to go back to the library and exchange these books for some more!

(Happy Half-Birthday to me!)

365-09 #136

Labels: , ,

How are you, really?

I almost gave myself a night off with the promise of catching up tomorrow afternoon but decided to go ahead and post instead. After all, I won't get a lot of sleep as I am supposed to be up at the seminary at 9:30 in the morning. No, I am not auditing another class, that will be in the fall. I am attending the George Fox Evangelical Seminary / Western Evangelical Seminary reunion. For the 61 years they have existed, they have never held a reunion so I am really looking forward to this one.

As I am one of the more recent graduates, I am hoping there will be a lot of people I know. And I need to remember to bring MaryKate's book that I ordered from a bookseller so I can have her sign it. I think that book is going to be going on the plane with me to Milwaukee. But for now, I am really looking forward to spending time with people and in a place that speaks to a depth of my soul that I have neglected for far too long. It will be nice to be reminded it's there and to talk with others about it. It's like the question my friends who are fellow spiritual directors ask me, "How are you, really?" When they ask like that, the question seems to go beyond polite conversation and I give them a frank and real answer because I know they actually really want to hear how I'm really doing. I love people who listen and I love being that person who listens for others.

365-09 #135

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Put Love First

I'm always a bit nervous when I buy airline tickets, especially when it involves a public transit system on either end. (I'm staying with a friend the night before I leave and leaving my car at her house.) Still, it is a relief to have those tickets bought to go see my sister in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the end of the month. I always like to see a bit of a place if I'm flying there so I've planned some extra time in my itinerary. Milwaukee, as it turns out, has no hostels, so I looked up the local Quaker meeting and called the clerk. She called me back this morning with the names of two nice people who are willing to host me for two nights. I spoke with them tonight and am looking forward to meeting them in person. They have invited me to their meeting of course but I want to spend as much time with my sister as I can while I am there. Though she has been in Texas and Wisconsin for six years, I have never visited her. I am looking forward to changing that and to seeing the place she calls home. It will be a lot of fun to see her as the adult she is in her context. After talking with someone on facebook, I was reminded all over again how important it is to put our relationships with God and each other first. When everything else fades away, the love we have shared will be what is left in the light. I can't get so busy that I forget about my sister. If I do that, what is all that busy stuff for anyway if I forget the important things, the things that matter? We need to put love first. I need to put love first.

365-09 #134


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The U-Turn Challenge Video

Here is the video I told you about.

Bail Out Buckets from U-Turn Challenge on Vimeo.


Technological Parenting

I live in an age where computers are common for the middle and upper class. Last night, I realized how much so. Last night I got a voicemail from my dad at 10 pm. (He didn't know I wasn't sleeping but was actually at a bar celebrating a birthday. So don't worry Dad, it wasn't that late. :) My parents had noticed I hadn't been on facebook or blogging for the last several days which was quite unlike me and they were concerned. Parenting through technology, you got to love it. I was both amused and touched.

The reason I have been rather scarce from the internet world is I have too many irons in the fire and I go from one to another throughout the day and anything besides poking my head in for a quick look on facebook and e-mail was one of the extras I let go of for a while. This has also been true of the blog but if I miss a day or two, I always somehow get them in, even if just a beautiful picture or video.

I've also been reading books I borrowed from the library to get my mind off everything else and to learn lots of new and interesting things. "Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading", while not what I thought it would be, did turn out to be pretty interesting if academic. Now I am working through "Personal Finances in your 20's and 30's". I have quite a bit to learn in this area and it has been an enlightening experience coupled with the First Tech U-Turn challenge. (Which by the way, Adria posted a fun video. I'll see if I can repost it here later.) It's given me a lot to think about, especially as I have been reading through the investment section. I remember being taught some of this in high school and college, but it certainly has been fascinating to read it all again, especially when I am in a better position to do something about it. I now find myself wondering what my friends do for their personal finances. Like many other things, everyone does it but we rarely talk about it. At least, when you're this age we usually don't.

I'm off to go shelve some more books. I got called in for Richmond Library today, (happy dance!), and am thrilled to be here. God always knows what I need and a day here with Adria and the books was definately that thing. It's the balm of Gilead for a frazzled soul.

365-09 #133

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

I don't remember who told me this would happen, whether it was Adria or Katie Skurja, but they said once I became more comfortable with my lion side, I would be quite the wild and untamed lion until I learned to direct it. I don't know how much this has to do with what is going on now, but it certainly feels lion-like. As I have gotten to know and become more comfortable with the power inside me and my ability to affect the world around me, be the actor and not the acted upon, I say what I'm thinking a lot more, I use "no" a lot more, and I candy coat my words a lot less.

I've read that when you are working on your boundaries, it feels like you are being rude and mean, at least at first until you used to setting and having boundaries. But tonight, I think I crossed the line and really was rude and for that I'm sorry. I need to learn to watch my words more, especially when I'm already stressed and have a lot going on. That is when those words just come out before I think much about how they will affect others and I get frustrated a lot faster. Grrr... The lion roared and is going to sleep tonight.

365-09 #132


Sing Out!

Today is my friend Stacey's birthday. I think she would like this clip from Celtic Woman. I sure do!

365-09 #131

Labels: ,

Monday, May 11, 2009

Celtic Woman... WOW!

Do you ever get dropped into something absolutely wonderful for no particular reason? Something that comes as a complete surprise out of the blue? A couple of weeks ago an acquaintance e-mailed me letting me know he was given two tickets to see Celtic Woman for Christmas and asked if I would like to accompany him to the concert. When looking for someone to take, a mutual friend suggested me as someone who would enjoy seeing it.

Though I have probably heard of Celtic Woman at one time or another, I was not familiar with the group but he had me at Celtic so I said yes. Apparently, they are very well known and it is a very popular show. I didn't realize how lucky I was or what a treat I was in for. It was also my first time seeing the Hult Center in Eugene. It took my breathe away when I walked into the building. A lot of people were already gathered which only added to the impressive nature of the architecture. Over four stories high inside with an open ceiling of skylights, the staircase winds upwards with balconies overlooking the main floor below. Watching people go up and down the stairs with more looking over the railings, I felt appropriately small. The man I was with was very excited in his quiet way as he had looked at a map of the concert hall online and realized what good tickets we had. When they opened the auditorium, I was struck with the cozy yet light feeling of the room which can seat 2,500 people by using three balconies. We found our way to our seats, the sixth row past the orchestra removable seats. My companion was on cloud nine. The stage was draped in white fabric hanging above the instruments and multi-level set which they moved up and down and used as screens for various pictures and ligths for the various songs.

The four women came out in evening gowns along with their violinist in white. The violinist danced with that 300 year old violin throughout the show with fire in her feet. And the singers were incredible. The whole show was a mix of them singing together or doing solos, some songs I knew and some I had never heard before but have had in my head since. I loved the spirit of the show, the other-worldly, ethereal sound of it. Oh, and don't get me started on all the lighting effects they used which only heightened the music. For someone who rarely goes to concerts, I was amazed. Celtic Woman has a new fan. And I have never seen so many standing ovations in one show. Thank you to everyone who made me getting to go to that concert possible. I am grateful. Here is a video of Celtic Woman I found on youtube. You can bet I will be looking for more.

365-09 #130

Labels: ,

Friday, May 8, 2009

Simple Clarity

365-09 #129


Quotes to Think About

I've stayed up once again, way too late. Tonight's excuse was making all the calculations for a quilt I've been hired to make and then laying that all out for the woman/friend who has hired me to do it. It's a very good thing I like math. I really don't have many deep thoughts for you tonight but tomorrow is Saturday when I'll have more time to think and get a bunch of those "little things" done. Our house is very gradually not looking like boxes were haphazardly dropped from the sky. Allie and I have both been working on her unpacking and my cleaning. It feels like my life right now, too much out on the floor with items stuck here and there. Tomorrow I'm promising myself some relaxed time. Perhaps if it's nice enough I can take paper and pencil out to the porch and write there amongst my flowers. That would be fun. Here are some of the quotes I keep on my desktop. They always give something to think about.

-"The wound that can only heal with the sword that inflicted it."

-"I do know that we are not to fear, facing who or what pursues us . . . standing our ground through the presence and power of Christ."

-"It turns out that I already have everything I need to be successful; I just have to do it. The necessary brains, courage, and heart are already present."

365-09 #128


Making the Choice on Pain: Part 2

Today at Richmond, I was working on the inventory while Adria was showing her classes a video about the book fair. One of the lines in the video is, "Sometimes you have to step into the darkness to see the light." I really liked that quote as it is exactly one of the things Adria taught me in our time of spiritual direction. By the time I met Adria, I was already in the dark night and clinging to a stump in the storm. Eventually, she convinced me to let go of the stump and let the storm tossed sea throw me where it will. I was terrified to do it, the pain looked so overwhelming to me that I couldn't bear to turn my head into it much less go through it. But then during one of our sessions, I saw the pain in me on her face and it brought me to tears without a single word. I had been so stubborn up to the point, still guarding my defenses but that day, really feeling and seeing the pain for the first time, I just had to let go. Weeks later, I remember being utterly lost in the blackness when she passionately assured me, "There is a thread of hope in the darkness!" I choked back, "I can't see it!" and she informed me, "I will hold it for you. Don't let go!"

Four years later I can tell you that turning around and facing into the pain was one of the very hardest things I have ever done. It feels utterly overwhelming, like it will never end. When Adria and I were talking about entering what I called, "the black water", I claimed it would never end, that once I let the black water go over my head, I would never return. It felt like death to me. But she made sure I heard there was life on the other side and though nearly all my feelings said it was all darkness, I trusted her. I am glad I did. I am glad I let go of the shore of safety and let the water go over my head. And I was right, it was very much like dying. I felt like God brought me one inch away from emotional death and then brought me back to life. But listen friends, listen. It was worth it!!! The life I have now, what I feel and think, my belief in the importance of joy and hope, is because I walked in the pain and like a purifying fire, it cleansed me. I laugh again with my whole heart, I love because I let pain make the room. And I have joy because sorrow left carved spaces where the black water used to be.

When I left the library yesterday, Adria thanked me for the work I did. But in truth, she already had. Helping was more my thank you to her.

365-09 #127

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Making the Choice on Pain

Next week is my friend, Stacey's birthday. She has brought so much joy into my life and she has taught me a lot about the attitude in which to live it. This lesson has been very important to me because I had been living my life from a very different perspective than joy and love. A few months before I met her, I went through a very transformative time, and coming out of it, I realize now that in addition to the many other gifts her life has brought me, teaching me to focus on joy and live out love has been one of the most important.

I have learned that in each of our lives there is pain. It comes from different places and expresses itself in different ways, but in everyone's life, it's there, underneath the surface, ready to jump out at different times. The way I see it, we have a choice. We can't go back and take away the pain, the past cannot be changed. What happened may or may not have been our fault. We may have been victimized, we may have been the persecutor, we may have been the one with our heart broken because someone we love was hurt. We may have been all three. Either way, the past cannot be changed. What can be changed is our future. Are you going to let the pain of the past dictate your future? Are you going to let the one who hurt you have such a hold on your life that you choose to let them be a continual shadow blocking out some of the sunlight on your face? By not forgiving, by holding onto your hate, by living your life according to what has happened in times past, that is exactly what you are doing. Yes, when they hurt you, you did not have a choice. But now it is past and whatever hurt is still in your life, that choice is entirely yours. Harsh but true. I wish I could say forgiving is easy. It's not. It's not even an either/or, black or white choice. Forgiveness is a journey. But as you make the journey, you learn to see things you never thought you would. And as you go, the chains surrounding you fall away.

In Quakerism, there are questions called, "Queries": questions for you to think about. Here are a few of my own for you.

-When you think of someone who hurt you, how do you speak about them, think of them, treat them?

-How does God see this person?

-Why are you holding on to you anger? What purpose is it serving in your life now? (If it wasn't serving a purpose, you wouldn't be holding onto it.)

-Imagine your life without this anger. What does it look like?

-What gifts are in the pain?

Thanks Stacey, among others, for teaching by example.

365-09 #126

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Drawn Into God

I wish I had a pensieve I could pour thoughts out into like Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter. My journal is like that if I would just take the time to write in it! Working with my photography tonight, I am struck with how this one conveys so well my sense of God.

365-09 #125

Labels: ,

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Healer

I had forgotten I even took the quiz, "What was your profession in a past life?" on facebook while I worked on other screens. Then as I happened to click back onto it, there was the result in plain language. The answer to my questions of what am I here for, what is the true beat of my heart in this seemingly crazy life?


That word knocked me off my feet and I sat there stunned. It made sense- the spiritual direction, the writing, the speaking, it all works together under that one word: "healer". I feel like I've set my healing tools in a trunk in a dusty upstairs attic and closed the lid for awhile. That maybe I was, in some deep unconscious place, even running from the role because I feel scared of the power there inside me and inadequate way deep down, deeper than I will even admit to myself. But there it is. God called it. He's kneeling by the trunk, opening the lid, and excitedly exploring inside. Occasionally, he gets really happy about one tool in particular and shows it to me (who is sitting a couple of feet away trying not to show how interested I am). He's throwing around what I had so carefully packed away in my soul and showing me how much I need these things, how much putting those tools away handicapped my own heart. Then you have several other people who join him at the trunk shouting, "Hey, I remember this! Why don't you use it anymore?"giving me questioning looks as they lift up and dust off one tool after another. They hold the tools with loving hands. Excitement is in the room, shouts are shared, joy is present as they rediscover what I've tried to forget. Then there is a moment of awed silence as God lifts out of the trunk a beautiful violin and bow. They all look at it with wonder in their eyes as one man bends down and cradles it in his hands, tears running down his face. I think he cries for the memory of the music and for the artist who won't play it anymore. He turns and silently stands before me, holding out the instrument, waiting and hoping. My soul cries out to take the bow in my hand yet I'm scared of where the music will take me if I play once again. I'm scared of what people will hear. He won't stop looking at me, none of them will, and God is right there with them looking me straight in the eyes calling me to be the musician of souls that I am. Sobbing as I look at him, I wonder what choice is there? I am terrified to play the notes within myself and at the same time, don't understand what I'm terrified of. I long to take the violin in my hands but don't understand why it feels like the very heart of me, why I am incomplete without it. My shaking arms, at last, reach out to the violin as a drowning swimmer gasping for air. I connect with the wood, feel it reverberate beneath my hands. I know every turn of the grain. Trembling, I lift the violin to my shoulder and hold the bow above the strings. I can do nothing but play for I am quite sure now that though it may cost me my life, life is held no where else for me. Before I release the first notes into the air, I look above the bow at all the expectant faces before me and I see God's smiling face at the center of them all. The violin is reflected in his tears. I am the healer.

365-09 #124

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 3, 2009


This morning we met before church to talk about community. This is one of the quotes we looked at:

Parker Palmer – "In a true community we will not choose our companions, for our choices are so often limited by self-serving motive. Instead our companions will be given to us by grace. Often they will be persons who will upset our settled notion of self and world. In fact, we might define community as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives!" (Pendle Hill Pamphlet #212, 1977 pg 20)

As much as I like this quote, I think we do choose our community, at least our deeper community. We do have the community we interact with every day or even every week and in places like where we work or go to school, Parker Palmer is right, those companions are given to us by grace. They are not the ones we would have chosen, but were chosen for us to make us grow. Then there is our deeper community we do choose, the ones who are there for us, with whom we share those close bonds.

This afternoon I attended a benefit concert given by my friends Christine and Rob. As I sat there and listened to Christine sing, (she has an exquisite voice), I was remembering all the times I've spent with her in rehearsals of one kind or another. I was in both the bell choir and adult choir for years. I learned so much about music, singing, and coming together under her teaching but more than that, was her heart. I loved her heart. I still do. I started house sitting for her not long after we met. Sasha, her dog, and I became buds. She is a dog after my own heart and has been there for me through my darkest moments. The day I fell to the floor and truly entered the dark night, Sasha was at my side letting me hug her. Then when my family cut way back on celebrating holidays together to accommodate my siblings other family obligations, or postponed them altogether, Christine, Rob, and the Hellers, have always been there with open arms welcoming me to spend holidays with them.

I remember the first time when I realized what a "community" we had become when Christine's dad was visiting and shared his concern about leaving Sasha behind as they went on vacation. Non-chalantly, Christine reassured him that Sasha considered me a part of the family and that she would be fine. Since that time, I know that Christine too, considers me like family, and that touches me deeply. I really appreciate them and the friendship we've shared. Some of my best memories of my 20's has her in them.

So what is community? I think it is those we choose to walk with and who we find walking alongside us. It is grace and it is a choice. My community is much like the quilts I make. Some people from here, some people from there. They are the people I have met in my life and who stayed, who touch me so deeply, my community is not the same without them.

365-09 #123

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I quite honestly don't have a lot to write about tonight. There are things I could write about, but I'm very tired which is very unusual for me this early on but I am thinking of heading to bed with a book in hand. I'm rather overwhelmed with all I have to do and pulling the covers over my head sounds appealing.

365-09 #122


Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day Lights

This month and the next few have been and will be very focussed on our three upcoming tap shows. They will be fun AFTER some more practice! This picture is my reminder for myself and you all that there are lights in our lives that glow brighter than the sun. May Day flowers to them both.

365-09 #121