Wednesday, November 19, 2014
I tried to blog every day in November, but life happened, including a family member hospitalized, an unexpected funeral, the router at the manse is on the blink, and I am trying, trying, trying to keep my head above water. I did get to the gym a lot. There's that. some pretty fantastic meals, too. I've thought a lot about our presbytery's desire to look ahead with hope and the resolve to do some things differently. We got very bogged down with the title of "community organizer" for a new staff position, the job description for which was overwhelmingly approved. The title bothered some and excited others. For that exact reason, I was intrigued by the title, because it engaged folks in immediate discussion. Pretty brilliant. As an assembly, we granted the search committee permission to choose the title for the position. I can't wait to see what they decide. So, I've failed at writing a bog post every day for a month, but what I've learned is that having the right tools is important. I think I could have maintained a nineteen day streak if the computer at home were behaving. I'm shaking the dust off that failure nonsense. I didn't meet the challenge, but I blogged consistently for the first half of the month, which is better than I've done in a long time. That's not failure. And I have beautiful new additions to my yarn stash. That's never a fail.
Friday, November 14, 2014
here and here and here.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
So, hanging out in doctors' offices and hospital waiting rooms and grocery stores and the gym, for heaven's sake, are teaching me in new ways that we're just too busy as a society. We are pressed by deadlines, billable hours, insurance requirements and the need to Get.Things.Done. In addition to being busy, or crammed full, we're not very patient as a society. It's a little bit scary, because impatience or inattention can lead to error at the worst, or inefficiency, frustration or wasted time, at the least. Prescribing medication for the second time, when the doctor has been warned that the patient does not tolerate it well, leaves everyone comprised. When the patient representative asks someone four times in the span of ten minutes if they have a living will or advance directive, it makes for inside jokes and smiles, but really, it's just an example of inattention and not listening to oneself or others. No, really, what it does is leaves people feeling that they haven't been listened to. And honestly, there's nothing quite like the sting of feeling unseen or unheard. And there's nothing better than those increasingly rare occasions when someone listens well, sees clearly, "gets us". I wish it didn't feel so rare and exotic. Image from here.
Our church office is closed today, but Veterans' Day is one of those funky holidays. Some businesses and schools observe it; others do not. Bank holidays are considered church office holidays where I serve, kind of a planned snow day. It's great for staff morale, but today three of us showed up to take advantage of the phone ringing less frequently, so that we could catch up on some writing with deadlines attached. Hilarity ensued when the phone rang no less often, and we couldn't ignore it. We yelled into the air, "We're closed" and then answered the phone as usual. Folks stopped by and rapped on the door to be let in. We should have been clearer, and we will next time and swap our outgoing voice mail messages for some "office closed" words and place a sign on the outer door indicating that we are closed. Then it really would feel like a quiet day.
Here's what I started and saved before our home computer crashed. (I really have blogged every day this month. I've just been unable to post.) Tomorrow is quickly filling up with errands, which is part of what a day off is meant for. We'll be up earlier than usual to get my beloved to the hospital for a test, then back quickly for a furnace inspection. After that, the day will be less scheduled, but the to do list will keep me close to home. On days like tomorrow, I enjoy setting some goals to weave into the day. I'm planning to knit a little, read a little, exercise a lot, and make butternut squash soup. This, friends, is the prescription for a perfect day, in my book. Let's hope.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
I spent today doing errands, a little shopping, made some good chili for supper, and had plenty of time for walking, reading and knitting. It was a nice day, doing a little of this and that. I'm feeling ready for a full day of churchy stuff tomorrow.
Friday, November 7, 2014
When I was 35, I thought nothing of staying up late and then getting up early. I ordinarily worked long hours and was a mom to young children and walked the dog and danced at wedding receptions. I had a lot of energy.
I don't need any reminders that (my)life is stressful. Most of us lead stressful lives. Some of the stress is positive and life-giving. Some of it is draining, soul-sucking.
I have a friend who sets a beautiful table and cooks healthy, vegan fare, just for herself. She posts a picture on her Facebook wall, and they are a sight to behold and cause envy, at least in me. Supreme self-care.
Susan, and the Mini-Marathon.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
The sequence of events unfolded in this way: This past summer, several members of the congregation I serve saw this video on YouTube, which led to a conversation about creating backpacks to distribute to homeless neighbors in need. Our Vacation Bible School project took shape and many contributed backpacks and useful items to go in the backpacks. Last week, the topic of our second hour intergenerational education offering was loving our neighbors and one of the options to attend was a great presentation by one of our members on what she was learning about being a thoughtful responder to homeless people in our midst. Her involvement was prompted by good conversations she and her husband had been having with their children about how to respond to the need. She shared the video above, as well as this one and some great tips on having conversations filled with compassion and dignity with people we encounter. The backpack project took shape for us, with assembly and note writing, so that recipients would receive a warm and supportive message along with tangible items such as socks, hats, gloves, food items, personal hygiene products and more. Folks who attend the class that morning were invited to take a filled backpack to offer, if they wished, or allow other volunteers to take any remaining backpacks to our local shelter.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
I learned a mindfulness technique earlier this year, in which one is still and listens for ten distinct sounds. It has become my favorite thing to do while waiting. I walk the dogs and collect sounds. I ride the train and scan for conversation, music, train wheels, babies cooing. I sit in doctor's office waiting rooms and collect the sounds around me.I collected sounds as I walked down Michigan Avenue today. I am calmer because of this practice and I know I am less anxious. I love this practice.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Like many, many people, I voted today. Like many, I went to work. Like so many, I got a lot done, but none of it was on my to do list.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Here's a story of a trip that ended differently than it began. George is almost nine months old now. He's part Azorean Cattle Dog and part American bulldog. One winter day earlier this year, our daughter and son-in-law, C and B, went to a Golden Retriever adoption event near their home in suburban Cleveland and a small, black puppy caught their eye.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Saturday, November 1, 2014
It's All Saints' Day and it's also the start of National Blog Post Month, and I care about both. November 1 is one of my favorite holidays because I have long loved the notion that "we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses." We are all the sum of our experiences, our genetics, and our relationships. I am so very grateful for the people who have shaped all of those for me. Tomorrow morning in worship we'll attempt to create some space for remembering those we've loved who are part of the Church Triumphant by offering people strips of fabric in autumn colors on which they can write the name or names of those who have died. We'll collect them, and tie the strips to the branches of a shapely, bare tree in the church yard. It'll be a prayer tree. I hope it's well received. There is no shortage of names to write down. I'll likely write down Betsy's name tomorrow. Not a day goes by that I do not recall her smile and zest for living or quote her, recalling her tenacious hold upon recounting that which is of good report. I met Betsy in 2003. She was the clerk of Session at the church I currently serve, and was deeply involved in almost every part of the life of the congregation. She was a dream of a church member and a person who loved deeply. When she passed away, so many women claimed her as their best friend. She made everyone she encountered feel loved. She packed so much living into sixty short years. here. Path image found here