Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Lost and Found in the Rhythm

After finishing at the fair, neither Randy nor I felt like spending our evenings at home by ourselves so we decided to go somewhere. But where? It had been a warm afternoon at the fair so a place with water became a requirement. I wanted to go to a mountain lake but we didn't have enough time for that. Champoeg State Park was too much in the valley for my tastes besides the fact the Willamette would be the water form for that park and as my sister says, that river will deform your feet. It was then I had the brilliant idea, (or was it God whispering in my ear?), to go to North Fork. I hadn't been there since I was a young teenager but looking it up, discovered it was less than a half hour away from Salem. Amazing how some things just work out isn't it?

When we arrived at the park, it was to a nearly empty parking lot. The sun was lowering on the horizon casting the trees and pathway in a golden light, bringing out the bright tinge of the leaves along the path. Berry and pine aromas filled the air and we could hear the water running over the rocks. When we arrived at the river's edge, we found a playground of stones and rivulets of water running between them. One particular spot was especially beautiful to behold as the water fell over a rock ledge into a basin below. I stepped into the current and played around climbing over the rocks and letting the water cool my soul. While trying to get back to shore, I slipped on one of the smooth stones and fell half way in. After picking myself up and seeing a large turn in the river, we walked further along to get a better view. It was beautiful. Crystal clear in the shallow pools, the water was a deep shade of emerald green in the depths. Wading in the water, feeling a part of the earth's rhythm, I handed over my glasses to Randy and joined in the river's drumming. The water took me into it's heart, swallowing me whole, birthing my body anew. Carried by the life blood of the earth, I at last emerged renewed, cleansed, once more in sync with the spirit that bore me, the spirit through which I breath. Being in the trees, rocks, and water, I feel more myself, can sense my unbreakable bond with God more clearly, than I can ever hope to anywhere else. I go to the ocean shore to find God, I go to the mountains to find myself.

365-09 #241

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why Now?

Which comes first? People asking about your story or your willingness to tell it? I don't have the answers but I sure have been asking the questions. It's actually only a part of my story. Not only can I never fully even know my own story to tell it, but there are parts that have faded into the background of my perception, where they rightfully belong and I am happy to leave them there. But the more recent part of my journey, inquiring minds want to know and I have recently found myself in the middle of conversations with people who want to know more.

Last night at the fair, another author friend and I spent a lot of time talking about our views of God and faith. Because of our discussion the day before, I brought with me and let him read a piece I've recently written and this spurred our conversation on for the rest of the night. He asked good in-depth questions about my experiences with God and we covered ground I've only walked with one or two other people. Some parts I haven't really stopped to ponder myself and now I'm asking questions of myself I haven't asked before and finding some answers that make sense but that I did not expect.

Why now? Why think about this now? I don't understand that. But this has been coming up in my thoughts, my writing, and people I trust enough to talk about it with are asking about my story. The timing isn't off, I'm just wondering why it's right.

365-09 #240


We Can Tell the Truth...

Last Sunday I pulled a card out from the "Box of Truth" at church. It's a shoe box with an opening on top and quotes on cards inside. You can take a card out and think on it, even take it home if you so desire. Sometimes, the quote is errily apporopriate for the person pulling it out. That was certainly the case with this one.

"We can tell the truth. Lying about what we think, how we feel, and what we want, isn't being polite - it's lying."

I tend to sugar coat what I say, to be polite, to not risk what I really want. But as is often the case in such matters, God decided I was ready for the lesson and that I needed a good teacher. Enter the teacher who does not sugar coat anything and who says precisely what she means. It is incredibally refreshing. Thinking about it, I reallized I love people who are characters, who stand out for who they are. They are a flavor in themselves and are fully comfortable living out of that. I want that quality in myself. So I am learning to not be so polite, to say precisely what I mean, and to take up space. Not everyone is going to like me. That is fine. We all don't have to like each other all the time. Being true to myself is more important than your good opinion of me. This is a big part of being free.

365-09 #239

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Oregon Authors

I have come up with a new button for all authors: "Anything you say or do can be used in my next book!" My fellow authors at the "Oregon Authors" booth at the state fair really like the idea. We agree that we should come with a warning.

My friend, Dolores, lives a ways away so I was filling in at her booth so she could get home at a decent hour. When I arrived at the booth, (all the authors are together), MaryKay, the one in charge of "Oregon Authors", looked at me and exclaimed, "You've really grown!" You see, I've grown up making at least one round around the author's tables every year since I was a girl. I have always loved reading and writing. I hadn't realized MaryKay remembered me from that far back in addition to all the years I stop by to see all my fellow author friends. It was one of those moments when you see two pictures of yourself side by side and are amazed at where you stand. Sitting there under the "Oregon Authors" sign is a humbling experience, feeling the weight of the role on my shoulders type of humbling. I know the looks people give me and those sitting by my side. I am used to that. I am comfortable being in the spotlight. Still, it's always nice to take the "hat" off at the end of the night and go home.

Dolores has my second and third books for sale as well as her own as a thank you for filling in so I was there in my own right as well as selling hers. It was fun talking with the other authors about our books. We understand each other in that respect. The community is why some of the authors do the fair, to be with each other. The two authors sitting on my left are friends of many years so we spent our time between talking with the public discussing religion, God, and how he could love each of us so much when we are so small. One of the them is not religious and doesn't usually discuss it, the other I'm not sure about but knowing my writing is spiritual, I instantly became the one to ask. The big question on the table was if the universe is SOOO BIG and we are sooo small, how could God care about us? It was one of those moments I felt God laid the answer in my heart. I told him God is not limited by space and time so it doesn't matter how big or small we are, it doesn't make a difference to Him, he loves us just the same no matter our size. He liked that answer. I did too.

365-09 #238

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Riches Beyond Compare

I was thinking yesterday about how blessed I am to have such rich relationships in my life. People who love me and whom I love. They are worth more than any amount of money or material possessions, so much more that it makes the comparison look ridiculous. Talking with a friend last night on the phone, she said the same thing. While going through a really difficult time, the love of her friends is helping her through. Whether we are in the valley or climbing a mountain, the friendships in our lives are the physical representations of God's hands holding us up.

I wrote this poem years ago; I found it in a file of work I've never published. I think it captures what I'm trying to say quite nicely.

Unexpected Joys

When one plus one
Equals so much more than two,
When putting two together
Gives birth to something new.
It’s the light of heaven
Shining down on me
And it’s the fire burning deep inside
God alive to see.
What miracles he’s wrought
Like diamonds in the sky.
What unexpected joys
Now that we have learned to fly.

365-09 #237

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Personal Finances: What Do You Think?

Since this last spring, I have been following the participants of the U-Turn Challenge hosted by First Tech Credit Union. It is one of those times when God provided teachers precisely when I needed to learn the lessons. In the month before I found out about the challenge, I had become determined to study personal finance and improving my own. I was even looking around for someone to talk to about it. Then, in God's perfect timing, this challenge that four "teams" are going through dropped into my lap. Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk to my friend about how the challenge is going for her and it begged the question, how is my challenge going for me? I've blogged about this topic before but not for a while so I thought I would give you an update and ask for your input.

In one of my previous posts, I told you how I tried using my credit card for smaller expenses and then paid it off at the end of the month. Quite frankly, I got out of that habit after two or three months. I haven't decided whether or not I want to continue using the credit card. Financially wise, I should use it to build my credit score and my credit history for a time in the future when I'll need to be approved for a loan or some such thing. At the same time, I feel really uncomfortable with outstanding debt. I know I have the money to pay it off every month but still, knowing I owe money does not sit well with me. The only debt I have is my school loan which though hefty, is consolidated into one amount.

Willis's most recent post on the U-Turn Challenge website is about their tax rebate they're getting back this year and their process of deciding what to do with it. Do you pay back debt or save? (By the way, I feel okay writing about their experience since they blogged about it first.) It made me think about what I have decided when I myself have been in that very position and how those decisions have affected me today. A few years ago, I had several smaller debts I owed various people. That year I was given back a, for me, large tax rebate and after listing out and thinking over my options, I decided the most valuable way to use the money was to take care of all that debt save what I owed my mom to whom I was making payments. Another year after that, I already had enough money in my account to support myself for a month when I got a full time job so I used part of a month's paycheck to completely pay my mom off the rest of what I owed her. That was a huge relief and it felt great to have that off my mind. This year, when I got an even larger tax rebate back, it didn't take me long to decide what to do. I used a bit of it to pay for my plane ticket to Milwaukee to see my sister and placed the rest in a savings account where I haven't touched it since. Especially in this economy, knowing I have enough in savings to fall back on if I really need to is really nice. My goal once I find a job with a regular income is to keep saving and to open up a Roth IRA where I can invest that money.

I have read in my research that people are usually either spenders or savers. I am definitely a saver, I don't really like spending money. Couple that with my belief that I have more than enough stuff in general, and I just don't go shopping all that much. In fact, I find that if I stay out of stores until I need to go into them, I am not tempted to buy what I don't need and when I do go in, I only buy what is on my list. This works well for me.

Still, I admit to you I am terrible about keeping a running balance on my checking account. I keep a general eye on my accounts online so I know I'm not going to overdraft, but it still feels really good to know exactly what is in there at any time. I do know I have enough in there to cover what I spend, but I am not disciplined about writing it down. I did well for a while and then stopped. I also really like the idea of having a budget but without a regular set income, my general rule is to not spend a lot of money and to be frugal about what I do spend. (Coupons and bartering are my favorite techniques.) Thus, the budget I do have written up does little good.

I once had a great discussion about what self-discipline really means with one of my directees. I think it may be time to turn that conversation around on myself and explore why I have such difficulty with record keeping in this area. I love math, I love working out problems. Graphs, equations- these are fun for me and I'm good at it! Why can't I connect these two?

Maybe this is like most things in life. We just have to keep trying. We walk for a little ways, fall down, dust ourselves off, and try again. It may take a while and several times falling down, but I am holding onto faith in myself that it will come to be easier and easier every time and that this is indeed, something I can excel at.

I know there are a lot of you who read this blog so I would love it if you would chime in with your own experiences: what works for you, what doesn't, what you think of all this or any questions you have for me. Personal finance is a topic we usually don't talk much about but I have learned from my friends, that it is indeed, important to discuss, especially in this economy when we need to remember these valuable lessons of saving and wise choices. It's important to share our ideas. I look forward to hearing what you think.

365-09 #236

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Places We Treasure

Yesterday morning at church Bob brought a message about how in everyone's life are places that we sometimes put aside without realizing how important it is to us. What is more, this place we've cast aside is a way we talk to God. Without this piece of our hearts, we miss some of the relationship with God that we so value. He urged us to go and reclaim those places, to remember who we are.

There are several places in my own life I've left aside. I don't write much poetry, the language of my soul, I don't often see my seminary friends with whom I share a language and a deep experience, and I haven't spent much mystic time with God. No wonder I haven't felt close to him in recent months. I had actually been thinking about this very thing when Bob spoke up and then last night at small group, the same idea was brought up by one of the other women that we share intense experiences with people, experiences others can't fully understand or appreciate and that we need to acknowledge these places within ourselves and share them with those who do understand. Everyone has these places and it is perfectly natural for us to have them. The important thing is to keep nurturing them.

This is something I have been working on in my own life and it feels good. The piece I wrote for the book project was a very mystical one, it was like hearing the heartbeat of my relationship with God once again, like opening a door to a much beloved room. We need to grow and change but we cannot forget who we are and where we've been. Who we've been is a part of us and those places need to be treasured as we live our lives and decide where to go.

365-09 #235

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My Fair Lady Outtakes

Part of the fun of taking the photography for the theatre is goofing around with the cast and crew who, let's admit it, can be downright silly. I learned early on how well it can work during head shots to have them make silly faces so I can get a real smile out of them afterwards. Then I started doing it in their group shots- more for my entertainment than theirs. Sometimes I'm laughing so much, it's hard for me to hold my hands steady so I can take the picture! But I love taking the silly shots, especially when they do it on their own like Heather when I was photographing her as Eliza or Slade who does silly so easily and who is a joy to photograph (he was the Cat in the Hat in Seussical), and usually in the dressing room, I turn over the camera and join right it. I hope these make you laugh and smile, they sure bring up giggles in me! (By the way, you can always click on one of my photographs to bring up a larger version.)

365-09 #234

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Life: Priceless Treasure

Tonight I was driving up to Portland for our small group meeting listening to my music and letting my mind think and wander where it pleased as I drove. I was just switching lanes to let someone who wanted to go faster than me pass by when I saw everyone was slowing down ahead of me so I changed my mind and stayed in the far left lane. I noticed about two cars had stopped in each direction and people were out on the road when a second after that, I saw a billowing black cloud starting to rise up to the sky and then burned into my eyes was a sight I won't soon forget. A white truck was upside down in the grassy median facing south, a pleasure boat was leaning against the truck facing up as if it was about to go over a really tall wave. The WHOLE scene was engulfed in bright orange flames high into the sky. I could feel the heat on my face and arm as I passed. There were no emergency vehicles around the scene, it had JUST happened. I thought to myself, "There is no way anyone could have escaped that upside down truck before it exploded." The flames were already all consuming. How could anyone have made it out alive?

For the rest of the drive, I thought about a truth in a book I've been reading that talked about how precious life is and how we need to treasure every moment as if we could be called home at any time. Having tea with a friend, walking a dog, reading a book, how uncomprehendingly priceless those moments are! What a beautiful gift is every breath we take, every person we touch, every sky we see. Our hands are full of treasure and we don't know it. What a miraculous thing life is and how quickly it can be gone. Please see it for what it is worth.

After I got home, I checked online to see if the paper had anything about the accident. It turns out, an older couple were driving northbound to Portland after vacationing at Detroit Lake, (their truck must have flipped backwards as well as over), when the boat they were towing started to fishtail. They tried to correct it, but their vehicle slid across the traffic lanes and flipped into the median. Their daughter was driving in another vehicle behind them and must have seen the whole thing. She was probably one of the people I saw on the side of the road. It turns out, someone else was there too for while the passenger section of the truck was already on fire, two people pulled the couple out 25 seconds before the propane tank exploded. The husband is being treated for serious burns and the woman got a ride with her daughter.

So tonight I am on my knees thanking God for the lives of people I will probably never meet and for the lives of whoever pulled them out of that truck. And I am also on my knees thanking God for my own life and the lives of those I love. Seeing that scene tonight certainly deepened my awareness of how precious just being alive really is.

365-09 #233


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Warm Fuzzies

Hannah, the little girl I went with to the Enchanted Forrest, gave me a carnation that night at her house. It was very kind of her and it is a beautiful flower, light pink with deep purple edging on all the petals. When I came back home after house sitting, I placed the flower in a pretty vase filled with water and set it on the window sill next to my computer. For the last several days as I have been working on writing my two pieces for the book project, editing my biography, editing someone else's article, and putting all the submissions in an ordered flow within the chapters, that single beautiful flower has been there looking out at me, a constant reminder of how beautiful the world really is. It is saying, "There is great joy in your work however seemingly difficult at times, you are gifted for this work and it is beautiful just as I am beautiful." It is a reminder to me that I am well loved and that there is a far larger world out there than my computer screen full of beauty and light. Perhaps that is why I like having my desk in front of a window, even as I am working, I can see the wide sky with people laughing below and I remember what it is all for. That flower reminds me of God.

Isn't it amazing how one little thing can make such a huge difference in our lives? This flower reminded me of that truth today, how it is often the little things I hold close to cheer me. There are memories in my life that are huge warm fuzzies in my heart. A word said, a touch given, a look shared, these memories warm my soul and I believe they always will. These memories are a fire I sit by when I need to warm my spirit. No matter what cold pricklys come along, the warm fuzzies are far greater. When it comes down to what is good and positive, full of compassion, genuine regard, and love, these things will always outlast any sorrow or pessimism.
Fire melts ice after all, not the other way around.

Thank you God for those moments, those memories, the seemingly little things that are so priceless to me given by you, that make such a gigantic difference in my life.

365-09 #232

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Planting Word Seeds

This afternoon, I am working on putting submissions for the Quaker Youth Book Project into order within the chapters and as I work, I've started thinking about what our editorial board is doing. For me, it seems that lately I've been concentrating so much on all the little things that need doing for the book that I loose sight of the larger picture. As I reread the pieces, unknown faces have started coming into view and I've gasped at the again realized importance of this book. While reading the introduction Angelina sent and the pieces themselves, I've seen what a diverse group of voices are represented and how important they will be for people to hear. People are waiting for this book, they're excited and like many things of God, I've come to believe this project is a lot bigger than the ten of us and a lot bigger than our dreams for it ever could be. I think this book will go into places we've never heard of and will effect things we can't imagine. It's like planting a seed knowing it will produce a great return. We have something with a life of it's own in our hands, something we believe in. When I think of that, it's a whole lot easier to accomplish the little things and have joy in doing them. It has been an honor to work on this project and I am treasuring it, knowing every other board member around the world is holding their light together with mine so that we may shine on all the faces and voices needing to be heard today.

365-09 #231

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Truth in the Dawn

This morning I woke up very early to the sunlight just beginning to seep it's way through the thick cloud cover. Figuring I was awake for good, I thought the early morning would afford a nice opportunity to write in the quiet dawn. I gathered up my quilt, put on a cup of tea, and settled down at my desk to write a piece I've been working on, a piece that means a great deal to me. Though I would love it if the people I am close to like it, even more so, the people included in the story, it is my truth, it is my story so it really doesn't matter who likes it or appreciates it. It is an expression of my heart and my passion and that is what matters. I listened to the voices of others and in turn, when the time was right, I lifted my own. I was true to what I have been given. It is a great feeling.

365-09 #230

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Question of the Age

Yesterday morning I got together with a friend for coffee and the conversation turned to dating. Not a terribly easy topic to write about, but I am supposed to be working on another writing topic and am having a hard time doing so because this is on my mind. Not the dating part, the single part. Quite honestly, I go back and forth between being very interested in the possibility of getting married and just staying single. There are benefits to both. By being married, you have a companion, someone to be with, to talk to and argue with, to go on trips with, and so on. Being single, I have a lot more time and freedom to live my life as I choose and to invest in my writing and other projects not to mention all the people I can spend more time with as well. It's a common conundrum a lot of single friends my age are dealing with. Do you pursue new dating pools, do you actively look or do you choose to be happy with where you're at? Neither answer is wrong. The individual really has to make this choice for themselves based on who they are and where they're at in their emotional health and life.

In my own experience, I have realized to a deeper and deeper extent how important the faith of my maybe someday husband is to me. While working on this other writing project, I've become even more aware of how God is the core of me, how closely fused and bonded we are together and how important that relationship is to me. Being torn apart from Him is not even possible. My soul is utterly His. So my husband loving God and actively growing his own faith is vital to me, a non negotiable. But I have become frustrated with the other singles out there who don't care about faith or who's religion is just about morality. And I'm not saying all singles are like that, many aren't, but I haven't seen them around. There are other aspects I want as well, but faith is the most important and I haven't found those qualities together. It is a frustrating business.

Lucky for me, I am quite happy being single most of the time. I like the freedom inherent in it, I like having the time to invest as I wish. I like being able to develop friendships with a wide variety of people. I wish this question of dating was a bit easier, I wish I could give some answers to all my single friends who are just as frustrated and questioning as I, but life is a lot messier than that. The only thing I can tell you is to be happy with yourself, by yourself. Learn to rely on your own strength and resourcefulness. If that life partner does come along, wonderful, but if not, you still have two wonderful someones with you: God and yourself. In the meantime, give me a call and we can go do something together.

365-09 #229

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Fair Lady Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos I have taken this week of "My Fair Lady". You can buy tickets at www.Pentacletheatre.org. Another post of a few outtake photos is coming as well!

365-09 #228

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God Help the Outcasts

When the "Hunchback of Notre Dame" movie came out when I was in high school, this song deeply resonated with me. As I have told you before, I was teased and trampled on in my later school years when I didn't know how to stand up for myself, glad that has changed, but at the time, I went on my knees to God often for reassurance. I loved this song then and I love it now. I found it on youtube today to hear it again and thought you might enjoy hearing it as well. God loves the outcasts.

365-09 #227


Project Week

I have spent most of my day either straightening the house where I was house sitting or working on the Quaker Youth Book Project. Most of the time went to the book. It's just one of those weeks when I get very focussed on the projects at hand and put other things off until the projects are done such as grocery shopping, buying a pair of sandals or flip-flops as mine are now all broken (the last pair lasted several years), and cleaning out the fridge. Though I haven't gone swimming in a while, I did manage some self-care by going to the movies with my friend, Stacey, tonight to see "Every Little Step", a documentary on the auditions for "A Chorus Line". We both really enjoyed the film and it was fun to hear her reactions in addition to the joy of simply spending time with her. Tomorrow I am working on some writing, getting "My Fair Lady" photos selected and printed as well as actually putting them up, and my self-care of the day, having tea with Cheryl, another friend I love spending time with. I'll post photos for "My Fair Lady" very soon. If you are interested in seeing it, go to www.Pentacletheatre.org. Do it now, don't put it off; 80% of tickets are already sold, we haven't even opened yet, and the other tickets won't last long.

365-09 #226

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Monday, August 17, 2009

The Living Bible

Sometimes how we act and what we do speaks a lot louder than anything we could ever say. I may not remember things you've said to me but I will always remember what you did. Reading this in my e-mail in-box was a beautiful reminder of that for me today.

His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans, and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college.

He is brilliant. Kind of profound and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students but are not sure how to go about it.

One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.

The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now, people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything.

Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet.

By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.

About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill.

Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves that you can't blame him for what he's going to do.

How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy.

The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do.

And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty, he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won't be alone.

Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control, he says,'What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget.'

'Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.'

365-09 #225


Turning Back the River of Sludge

Yesterday afternoon I attended my friend's church's picnic out at Willamette Mission Park. I had been sitting at a table writing in my journal when I became aware of a man and woman talking about six yards away. Actually, the man was monopolizing the conversation and doing all the talking, the woman just nodded a lot. Wait, did I say talking? I meant complaining. This man jumped from one topic to another and in the whole time I was sitting there, I didn't hear one positive comment come out of his mouth. He bashed everything he spoke of, negativity oozing out like a toxic sludge. Watching the woman, I wondered why she stood there and listened to what I thought of as poison. When Deborah came over to introduce me to a friend's baby, we talked for a minute before I said "Let's move out of hearing range from that man." I had more than enough time nearby him. Shortly after, while standing in line for the potluck, I thought about what I hoped I would say to him if he tried that with me. "You seem to be very negative about many things. Isn't there anything positive and joyful in your life that you would like to talk about instead?" That's the polite version. Here is the more outspoken one, "You know, being so negative about so many topics is not healthy for you or those listening. You create your own pessimistic reality by doing that. Why do you want to live in such a dark place?"

The more I learn about keeping an optimistic and positive outlook, the more I see a negative one as poison. A Ghostbusters movie made in the 80's illustrated this beautifully. All the negativity in New York was feeding the river of sludge running underneath the city that started coming up through the sewer and attacking people. Negativity is a lot like that river of sludge. The more we think about the negative in life, the more it will influence us. Knowing the reality of things is important but what you choose to look out of that reality is entirely up to you. I certainly don't want to be around those who complain and dwell on the negative, that's unhealthy for me. I try hard to be around those with a more cheerful outlook. The next time I am around someone like that, I'm speaking up.

365-09 #224


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Looking Back: A New View

A friend of mine and I were driving back tonight from a play in McMinville we had attended with others from the Pentacle Theatre. On our way home, he asked about my story and what has made me who I am today. I shared with him some of the process of transformation and healing that has taken place these last several years, how many things about me have changed and are now very different from what they once were. I am much more gregarious, outgoing, outspoken, and when I laugh, I really laugh and when I smile, my smile lights up my eyes. Though it was true for me in the beginning, it wasn't always the case and I feel whole to be able to laugh once again with my whole heart. It was one of those conversations when I'm asked to stand on a cliff, turn around, and look back at where I've been and the paths I've walked. It's been a great journey and one I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.

At the end of our conversation, I thought of the person who walked the hardest roads with me. I don't have words to adequately describe what those times and what those roads meant to me, but I hope she sees who I am today because of them and I hope she's proud.

365-09 #223

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The Middle Ages

Today was my once a year visit to the medieval reenactment group I used to be a part of. I had a good time and it was nice to see some people, but it was also a good reminder that it was great for a certain period in my life but that I am at a very different place now. Like an old coat, it just doesn't fit me anymore. Most of my closer friends in the group weren't there so that didn't help either. Still, it was fun to see the fighting and I enjoyed being outside. In the late afternoon, I even found a sunny patch of ground by the fighting, laid down, and took a nap. I certainly learned a lot from participating in the group and I am grateful for that. Sometimes, we have to remember that even though things and people we knew yesterday may not fit into our lives now, they certainly helped make us who we are. The SCA is one of those things for me.

365-09 #222

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Enchanted Forrest

Yesterday, I re-experienced the "Enchanted Forrest" through the eyes of a child. My friend, Randy, and I took his granddaughter, Hannah, there as a summer treat and we had a fantastic time. Like many men and women my age who have grown up in Salem, I have fond memories of visiting the "Enchanted Forrest" many times. It was fun to rediscover it and how it really hasn't changed all that much. The Tudor village was just being built the last time I was there, (I was in college when my sister and I took some exchange students there), but other than that, everything was pretty much exactly as I remembered it. There is still the crooked house, the maze, Humpty Dumpty is still sitting on that wall, and all the scenes you can see through the windows in the western village are the same exact ones I looked at twenty years ago. Even some of the souvenirs are exactly the same. It's nice to have a part of my childhood still alive and well.

I will admit to you, even though I had Hannah in my care and I was a responsible adult, I was the responsible adult who got to go on all the rides with her. We both jumped in fright in the Haunted House, (though I had to help her be brave), we both went on the Frog Humper, Bumper Cars (she slouched in the seat to push the gas pedal and I steered), the little train, and the log ride and Ice Mountain (twice each). Randy had the camera for most of the time though I took pictures of Hannah when she was on a ride by herself. Hannah will talk to just about anybody so we talked to the staff sweeping the walks, serving lunch, running the rides, and everybody in line with us. The second time we stood in line for Ice Mountain, the people around us got an impromptu concert of, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart to stay!" In short, we had so much fun! Here are some of the photos we took.

I finally found the honest man I've been looking for. He's a keeper.

365-09 #221

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Friday, August 14, 2009

A Really Awesome Night!

Tonight I had one of those totally unexpected really awesome nights. I called my friend Deborah and asked her if she wanted to go to a concert in the park with me. It was one of those times when we could both go so we were already excited. As I waited for her, my friend Christie saw me and told me where she was sitting. As it turns out, she was singing with the band. What fun! Deborah saw others she knew and we even hooked up a friend of hers to try and be the male vocals for the band in the future. Talk about God using you to arrange meetings of people you hardly know... The music was great and it was an enjoyable, a relaxing way to spend a summer night.

Afterwards, I ran into another friend's husband and ended up back at their house (a block away) sipping an Italian soda and playing the new version of Clue. Nathan, age 7, was my partner, and we played his sister, her friend, and my friend's husband. (My friend was at a rehearsal.) we had a lot of fun! Mrs. Peach, by the way, was the guilt party and we found her at the fair. (Nathan and I won!) It was such a fun way to spend time with them and I like those kids. I did get to see my friend, in case you were wondering. We talked when she got home which was also great because I've missed her. Sometimes, God's plans for our time turn out so much better than our own. (I was just going to go home after the concert which would have only made the dog happy.)

I have been trying to fit a lot of "summer" in between the two theatre shows I'm involved in (on top of the photography). In late September, I'll start running lights for "Stop Kiss" so until then, I am thoroughly enjoying all the fun activities summer has to offer. I've met up with friends, gone hiking, played games, went swimming, picked berries, played disc golf, and in the coming days I'm going to the Enchanted Forrest (amusement park for young children), attending a medieval event, a play, and I'm going to a church picnic on Sunday. I just know that come late September and October, my schedule is going to tighten up between work and running lights at night. In September, I'm going camping!

365-09 #220


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Respect Your Food

Last night I drove out to my friend, Lorna's, farm to deliver the pitchfork she lent to the theatre as a prop for "Comic Potential". I had perfect timing as she was just getting ready to start her evening feeding chores. I first walked with her into her new barn to feed the male goats. They were crying and wailing in a very vocal chorus that sounded almost human. She showed me how you can hold handfuls of corn and let them lick it out from between your fingers. She pointed out who was who, names and how they were related, as we gave them alfalfa. It was one of the cutest things to see them, seven at least, all lined up at the feeder chomping away. We did the same with the girls except this time, Lorna feeds them in the far pasture so she always has a large goat herd behind her which is particularly entertaining when she plays with them and runs. Next we headed to the old barn to check on the two male studs who stink because they pee on themselves. Lorna doesn't know why. Our next stop was the chickens which she will be selling half of and restocking with the ones growing in the next coop. Onto the pigs where I learned what the term, "squealing like a stuck pig" really means. They are LOUD!

Lorna and her family sell the goats, pigs, and hen's eggs and eat the rest themselves, though her girls won't eat the goats. I spent several years on a farm myself and saw a goat being born and a goat skinned. I was also in charge of feeding the cow, Bessy, and getting her back into her pasture when she got out, which she did on a regular basis. So a farm life is not new to me. I'm used to squeezing between the pasture gates and stepping in poop. It doesn't bother me. What did make me ask a question or two was how it felt to take care of an animal knowing it was going to end up on your plate. We didn't eat the animals we raised. She told me that is what they are there for, it is a way of life for her. She also treats them very well until they go off to be butchered and I saw that first hand myself. She treats them with dignity.

Last week I saw the movie, "Food Inc.". It is the most recent lesson I've been learning in "Where our Food Comes From". Do you know how many of our foods have corn in them? Nearly all the processed ones. Look on the ingredients! And those pictures of meat processing are burned into my eyes. They do not treat those animals with dignity. It was an interesting comparison to see videos of a large scale operation and then a small town farmer. I am still thinking about how this affects my own eating habits but between the two, I think God would prefer us to treat the animals we eat with care and dignity.

365-09 #219


Sunday, August 9, 2009

What is Wisdom?

Sunday afternoon at women's group, we decided to skip the Revelations reading and look at the second chapter in Proverbs. Proverbs is my favorite book of the Bible but I've never stopped to think about one of the most basic questions until Angie asked if anyone had anything they noticed or wanted to discuss. I asked, "What is wisdom?" One woman said wisdom means knowing right from wrong, another said it was knowing the will of God. Good answers, and I am sure they are part of the truth but I have a different one. I think wisdom is how we see the world, our viewpoints, compassion, love, how we act toward others, ourselves, God, and the earth. It's the eyes we see through, our reactions, and how that shapes our behavior. Wisdom is not what we do, it's who we are. Wisdom can be studied but some things I think can only come with life experience. We have to be open to the voice of wisdom all around us, take it in, and let it change who we are.

365-09 #218


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dog Mountain: Most Difficult

The upside down sign, "Most Difficult", should have been my first clue. The 36 degree upward trail should have been my second. Deanna and Jessica, who are both quite fit, blazed their trail while my smoldering ember of self lagged behind. About three switch backs into the hike, my legs were already tired. About five, and I was holding Deanna's hand. Six she was pushing me from behind. Around that time, she offered to switch packs. I really need to learn to pack lighter on hikes but if my camera is with me, so is it's backpack. So she took the camera and backpack and I took her little camelpack. That helped a ton, until...

We met a man on the trail with an Australian accent and I asked him with great hope if the trail leveled out a bit at some point. He said, "Not a bit, it's brutal!" Then he grunted. My face blanched and Deanna's eyes shot lethal lasers at him. We continued on anyway finally reaching the split in the trail for the "More Difficult" hike up the mountain and the "Less Difficult" hike up the mountain. Note they both use the word "difficult". At one point, Deanna turned around and simply said, "You're going to kill me." With the steep mountain side, it would have been easy enough to do.

More huffing and puffing, a lot of breaks, and we finally reached a lookout point looking out over the Columbia River. It was beautiful and incredibly windy. We took some pictures, quite a challenge in itself with our hair blowing in our faces. Stopping in the forest, we snacked for a nice LONG break then continued up the trail. After a while, I truly thought I didn't think I could go much further when Deanna turned to us and said she was ready to turn around. In that one moment, she completely redeemed herself.

What I did not fully comprehend was that the trail going down could be as every bit as "difficult" as the trail going up. I figured at this point, having my own pack back was useful as the weight on my back might add to the gravitational pull and get me down faster. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, down we went on the steep trails. Every time we passed someone coming up, I had to fight the instinctual urge to grab their shoulders and beg them, "Please, for the love of God, turn back now!" I held it in though and am now sure some of them are asking themselves why I didn't say anything.

When we finally did get home, Deanna served strawberry rhubarb pie. It was delicious so I'm letting her live. Next time, moderate is the name of the game. Dog Mountain is for the dogs. (But it was fun, just don't tell Deanna!)

365-09 #217

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Fancy Free in Portland

I am currently reading a book about a family's eight month trip around the world. Reading about all the other countries has taught me a lot. This afternoon as I was heading up north to Portland and Vancouver, I thanked God for the roads, for my car, my bed, good food, and a cushioned seat. It's those little things we take for granted and we don't realize how privileged we are.

Why was I headed up north? Tomorrow my friend Deanna, her friend Jessica, and I are going hiking up a mountain in the Columbia Gorge. Since we wanted to get an early start, I drove up today to meet friends for lunch and coffee. It was fun to catch up and spend time with those I enjoy. Being in Vancouver with some time on my hands, I then surprised my sister and niece by stopping by their house. I didn't actually expect them to be home, they always seem to be doing something, but I was so pleased they were. We decorated a sheet with Madison for her start at preschool telling a bit about herself. It turns out, her favorite food is cheese. Now who does that remind me of? When I was her age, I used to sneak into the fridge for cheese. Forget the chocolate, I wanted cheese. Oh, and she even rocked back and forth in a chair just like I did in the video posted yesterday. It's strange to see a child who is your close relative and see a family resemblence. But special too. While we gluing little gems to the jewell shape, we counted corners of the shape to them on. Silently, I thought, "Oh, it's an octagon!" when Madison proclaims, "It's an octagon!" Did I mention she's three? The vocabulary and grasp of concepts that comes out of that child's mouth is more advanced than many I've seen at the elementary school level.

She showed me her playroom where we read the belly button book, "belly bo" as the book says it about three times. I got more expressive with each successive reading. I of course, tickled her feet and gave her a big bear hug before leaving. I think I will always melt when she says "I love you too."

The evening I spent seeing a musical from the Tin Pan Alley Theatre Company. I really enjoyed this show and will be writing more on it in the next day or two. For now, here is their website. http://www.tinpanalleytheatre.org/home/ Check it out, go see the show. It's in Portland. Oh, and on the poster, it says "Free sex". I honestly have no idea why as that doesn't correspond to the show. The show itself is free, they are doing it on a donation basis. I'll explain more about that in the next post. For now, I'm heading to bed. Early morning you know!

365-09 #216

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pure Joy

I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of this particular accomplishment. Some time ago, my sister put our home videos when we were small onto a DVD and she gave me a copy. I didn't even know these videos existed and it was truly life altering to see them. I especially watch them when I need to remember who I am, to remember to live out of the core of myself. Taking this clip and saving it as a file so I could share it with you is one of those moments when I want to shout to the sky, "I can do it!" I love this clip because I think it shows my true nature that was always there inside me. My joy-filled, mischievous personality was there from the start and I have greatly enjoyed watching it come to full bloom, finding a place of it's own once again these last several years.

365-09 #215


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

When God Grinned

A few months into learning to tap dance, I was lying on a friend's couch where I was house sitting and asking God, "Why tap dancing of all things?" The answer he gave me that day inspired this story. It's one of those stories that is true in the deeper sense, the kind where it is deeply true for me.

When God Grinned
By Sarah Katreen Hoggatt

Lying in bed in the early afternoon, my mind wandering over the things going on in my life, God touched my hand and said, “I have something for you.” I looked over at him in interest for he had been sitting silently by my side for quite a while. After helping me sit up, he reached down to the floor, and lifted a yellow box into his lap. He then looked at me, searching my face with eager eyes.

Nervously, for I had seen some of God’s surprises before, I returned his gaze then watched as he lifted the lid and withdrew a pair of black leather shoes. Confused, I looked back up at him and seeing my question, he responded,

“They’re tap shoes. See?”, as he turned them around so I could see the metal taps on the toes and heels. “You use them for tap dancing.”

Having been unable to walk for months, “Nice,” was the only reaction that came to mind.

Giving me a serious look, he tenderly said, “I’m going to teach you to walk again, and this is how we’re going to do it.”

My mouth dropping open, I inquired, “Are you sure God? I haven’t been on my feet in months, let alone my lack of athletic prowess and physical coordination.”

“I know, but you are ready. Your stamina may yet be weak, but you are strong and I know you can do this.” He paused, then added, “Sarah, it is time.”

Yet in disbelief I asked, “But why tap dancing? I mean, I like watching people dance, but I never thought to take that form up myself.”

“You won’t understand all the why’s right now, but this is something I want you to do. You will understand why in time. Besides, you will have a lot of fun learning how.”

“Uh-huh. I’ve learned to dance before God and while it was fun, my feet don’t always listen as well as I do.”

Seeing the mischief in my eyes, he reflected some of his own, “Well, maybe now is a good time to teach them.”

“What if the people think I am an idiot for not doing it right?”

“Do you remember your time at the nursing home and watching those people walk up and down the hallway?”

Curiously, I answered, “Yes.”

“Did you laugh at them? Did you think any less of them for not being able to walk as well as you did?”

I shook my head no.

“Neither will they. You’ll be fine. Sure it will be hard and you will get frustrated, but that is a part of learning and I will be there to help you. The important thing is to keep at it. “

Looking down at my hands I thought about that for a minute. Tap dancing did sound like fun and if He would be there beside me, no matter how hard it was, I would be okay, he would always help me back up. Besides, he thought I was ready and he would be the one to know. It was then I realized I had been getting anxious to do something new, something that fit the person God had just recreated me to be. Raising up my head again and looking into his expectant face, I said, “Okay then, let’s do it. I’m ready.”

That is when God grinned.

365-09 #214

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Monday, August 3, 2009

My Fair Lady Sneak Peek

I have been wondering how long it's going to take to get the lines of Comic Potential out of my head. It seems when I see a show so much, lines come into my thoughts, make themselves at home, and stay for quite some time. I'm going to miss them. The cast I mean. Well, the lines too actually. Though, I must admit, My Fair Lady has started pushing for room as well. Here is a sneak peek at some of the photos I've taken for their show.

365-09 #213

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