Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two Sundays ago, I went to church for the first time in a long time. Back in Minneapolis, I went to a crazy Catholic church where we prayed to "Our Mother Who Art in Heaven" and danced in the aisles while we sang old hippie songs. All believing Christians were welcome to take communion in both forms. All were welcome in that place, in every way. Ordinary people spoke from the pulpit more often than priests.

During the years I went to St. Joan's I heard homilies from a Native American who spoke of the time when it became legal for his worship services to be performed, a man celebrating the birthday of the young woman whose heart saved his life, a fitter of prosthetic limbs in Southeast Asia, and a park ranger who believes trees hold the secret to life. I watched a man perform a Hawaiian sacred dance through the aisles and at the altar, his movement a sacred message. I saw three Palestinian women -- one Christian, one Jew and one Muslim -- defiantly hold hands and beg us to hep make sure their sons and daughters did not have to shoot at one another.

I miss St. Joan's as much as I miss anything about Minneapolis other than my daughter.

And then I discovered Unity Village Chapel. It's not quite the same, but it's closer than anything I've found. People stand and dance in place to old hippie music and the message is one of peace and love and hope. Of joy.

I have to miss services this week, and I'm sad about that, but it feels so good to have a church to miss again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

No Sweetness In the Sorrow of This Parting

A member of my cyberspace work team died this weekend. Far from home and family, far from understanding, far from everything, really.

We don't know many details. We can't know for sure how accurate the story as we've heard it may be. The one thing we do know is that a brilliant and beloved young person is dead. The tragic waste stuns me.

I pray for peace for the family. I pray in thanks for the person's young life that was and in sorrow for what is not to be. I pray Light surrounds all who feel darkness.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My memory is like Swiss cheese: solid in some places and nothing but air in others.

Thursday I needed to call the guy who services Paula for me. (She needs new tires. Can you believe she's already four years old?) I just picked up the phone and dialed the number from memory. I call the auto shop two or three times a year, but I remember the number. That's the solid.

The air is so much bigger, though. Yesterday I started the day on the treadmill. After several days of watching TV while I dragged my sorry butt along a path to nowhere, watching the seconds crawl by and feeling like the allotted time would never end, I dreaded more of the same. For some reason, I pulled out my iPod.

How could I have forgotten? How could I lose track of how much I love to pound along to the rhythm of my favorite songs? In my early 40s, I ran every morning, just me and Jimmy Buffet. Same tape every day. Same corner, singing, Yes, I am a pirate, 200 years too late. The canons don't thunder, there's nothing to plunder... Same joy rising as the world twirled by, and I got stronger and thinner. Every morning, I shouted over Jimmy's "I'm an over-40 victim of fate, arriving too late" with defiance -- "I'm no kinda victim of fate, never too late...NEVER TOO LATE."

Yesterday, it was the sound track from the Country Strong movie. I'm country strong, hard to break. Like the ground I grew up on.... and Even on my weakest day, I get a little bit stronger and After all these years of running round, flying high and falling down, well the time has come at last to rest my heart and ease my past.

Singing and pounding down the miles, joy rising with every step, I felt stronger and happier and more alive than I have in many months. How can I let inertia take over when that feeling is possible every day? Why can I remember rarely used phone numbers and forget that I actually like to exercise once I get going? How can I forget that feeling?

Crazy, but I stayed so long I was five minutes late to Paula's appointment. She really needs new tires. We've got so much adventure ahead.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

64 and Sunny

It's 17 degrees and snowing like crazy here in KC, but it's 64 and sunny in my heart.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to do a project, which I can't really name or discuss because it's confidential. I can tell you the project was more trouble than it was worth to me in dollars and cents. I can tell you I agreed to do it because I thought I could help.

I can tell you I hoped the project might lead to good things, and it has.

I spent a truly ridiculous amount of time getting the details right on this thing. I made myself crazy, and several times it seemed like I was making the people in charge crazy, too. But all my obsession with details made them believe I know my stuff. It also made them ask me to be on set for a video shoot. Or maybe a bunch of video shoots.

In a place far from home -- a place where it's currently 64 and sunny.

I'm going on an adventure!!!!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Small Miracle

Teagan stayed with me for a few hours today. It's snowing, so I swapped my Paula for Evan's Jeep when I picked T up. Then when Evan got off work, I picked him up and drove the two of them home.

As we crept through the snow, Evan mentioned that Kristin's car doesn't drive well in the snow. He also said it breaks down a lot and is kind of small for T's car seat.

And then...IT happened. He said, "I feel so lucky to have the Jeep."

Evan is 28 years, 7 months, and 11 days old. I have never heard him say he's lucky about anything. Ever. I couldn't count the times I've heard him moan and groan and even yell about how everything bad happens to him, how his life is so hard and so unfair, but I've never heard him call himself lucky.

I laughed out loud. When he looked at me funny, I said, "I've never heard you say that before." He sat quietly for a moment and then almost whispered, "I'm lucky about a lot of things, Mom. I just don't admit it to you."

You'd be so proud of me. Not a single tear spilled until I was back in my own car on my way home.

Evan feels lucky.

I feel blessed. So very, very blessed.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Where Is the Line?

Like everyone, my heart breaks for Gabrielle Giffords, her family, and the families of those injured or killed in the shooting in Arizona. A 9-year-old child was murdered. A 9-year-old child!

Like many, I wonder about Sarah Palin's map with crosshairs and her exhortation to "RELOAD." I ask myself when and where we, as a nation, will draw the line.

I also ask myself where I should draw a line. From time to time, I work in a coffee shop close to my home. Nearly every time I'm there, so is a small elderly man who continually rants and raves about politics and the government. He's convinced "9-11 was an inside job," a statement he repeats to everyone he can engage in conversation. He is so loud and his views so ignorant, so vile, that I usually leave when he arrives.

Thursday, I needed to finish what I was doing when he showed up. In that time, he began to carry on to anyone who would listen about how Scott Roeder is his hero. Yes, Scott Roeder, who killed Dr. George Tiller because he performed abortions. This little man considers Roeder a hero and martyr to a vital cause.

I've long believed this little man to be unbalanced. Thursday I began to wonder if he's also dangerous and whether I should tell someone in authority. But what would I say? It's not illegal to be stupid. It's not even illegal to make a hero of a murderer. He doesn't make overt threats against anyone, or at least I've never heard him make any.

The suspected shooter in Arizona was well known to have strange views. He repeatedly disrupted a community college math class with "nonsensical outbursts," according to someone else in the class. He talked about "mind control" and "brainwash methods."

The words of that news story echo so loudly in my head this morning, I can think of nothing else. The little man disrupts the whole coffee shop with talk about how Americans are "brainwashed" and how their minds are controlled by the liberal media.

Did anyone speak up about this young man in Arizona? If not, could anything have been done? Can I do anything here? Should I? If anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them.

All blessings to those killed or wounded in Arizona, and to all who love them.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Herd of Snowmen

Mom and I cook at a homeless shelter the first Monday of every month. It's easily the best day of the month. I love hanging out with these terrific folks having big fun doing good work.

Mom and I have gotten into the habit of making special treats for the children. This time, we made cupcakes and marshmallow snowmen with Fruit Roll-up scarves and gumdrop hats. Making six dozen of them took almost seven hours, but the kids' reaction was worth every single second.

And when I downloaded the snowman pics, I found this one. I'd forgotten taking it, but how great is the look on T's face?

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Line of Demarcation

At what point does "I haven't shaved my legs" become "I don't shave my legs"? I glanced down at mine this morning and for just a moment thought a hobbit had borrowed my nightgown.

In one or the other of her recent books -- I've read both and don't remember which. Like Nora, I feel bad about my neck, and I remember nothing, which makes things confusing -- Nora Ephron talks about spending eight hours a week on "maintenance." I don't think she's talking about sinks, but that's the only maintenance I've done lately.

We don't need to go into the gory details of my decision to replace the kitchen faucet and garbage disposal the day before hosting my entire extended family for Christmas dinner. It's enough to tell you I could have shaved my legs, arms, face and head in the time I struggled with that mess. I could have had a manicure, a pedicure and maybe even cured a minor disease or two. I could have had my hair highlighted, if only I still highlighted my hair. Lord, I could have had a facial. I remember facials. Dimly.

Instead, I have a permanent crick in my neck from lying under the sink for hours, trying to connect faulty connections. But eventually, I had a faucet that doesn't drip and a garbage disposal that reliably disposes.

And very, very hairy legs.

Note: the photo is Mo'nique, not me. My toenails don't look that good.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Light

I can barely believe it's been more than a month since I last posted. The time has flown, filled with work and my granddaughter and the holidays. But here is January 1 and here I am, wishing us all the happiest of new years.

A few weeks ago, I came across a study done by the London School of Economics. Researchers set out a box of tacks, a candle and a book of matches and asked each subject to secure the candle to the wall in such a way that it could be burned without dripping on the wall. (They were testing the value of incentive programs, but that's not the issue here.) Quite a few people tried to tack the candle to the wall, which didn't work.

Fewer, but still a reasonable number, lit the candle and poured melted wax onto the heads of the tacks or onto the wall and tried to stick the candle to the wall before the wax hardened. That didn't work, either.

A precious few people dumped the tacks out of the box, tacked the box to the wall, melted some wax and poured a puddle to secure the candle to the bottom of the box. That worked like a charm.

Fascinated by the task, I asked a dozen people how to complete it. Only one, my sister, ever figured it out, and she got it in about five seconds. I'll never know for sure because I read the study, but I doubt I would have seen the box as anything other than the holder of the tacks.

Having coffee with Mom and Deb the day I was going to put up my Christmas tree, I mentioned that I wished my son would come over and bring up the tree from the basement. The tree box is heavy and getting it up the stairs always is a pain. My sister looked at me oddly and asked why I didn't bring the tree up one section at a time.

Sixteen Christmases. I've put up my tree alone for 16 Christmases. For 15 Christmases, I've struggled to drag the whole box up the stairs and then back down again. It never, ever occurred to me to bring the tree up one section at a time. Probably never would have.

So, in this new year, I resolve to see alternatives, to see old things in new light, to open my mind and heart to possibilities.

May this year be one of possibilities for us all.

And may we see them clearly.