24 August 2006

I feel... Indefinable

Aren't our feelings, our emotions, supposed to fit into categories? We're raised knowing what "happy" means. I'm happy. I'm sad. I'm mad. I'm whichever thing. Pick the category. The problem that I've discovered (Deepak would say, "Challenge. Not problem.") is that emotions don't fit into the boxes. The boxes are too little, and the emotions, too big. When too many different things are warring inside your head, and someone asks you how you are or if you're doing alright, what do you say? I guess you say what my friend Rohil says, "GREAT!" and just make it so by the power of the spoken word. (He's quite wise, beyond his two years-of-age.) So I may feel indefinable, but I'm doing GREAT!

"Mine ears hast thou opened"

There's a little phrase stashed in the middle of a verse in the middle of Psalm 40 that hit me today. "Mine ears hast thou opened." I find it interesting that a man who is known across the centuries for his words, King David, stuck this phrase in the midst of all of it. Not my mouth, not my eyes. My ears. It made me start thinking about just how teachable I am. I've been working closely with a business mentor, and one of the things that he looks for in his mentees is teachability. Apparently he saw it, to some extent, in me. I value learning, highly, and I endeavor to always be a student, in some manner or another, but how teachable am I, really? Are my ears open? In all the noise of life, are my ears open? Can I hear what it is that I'm supposed to be listening for?

There's another portion of scripture that comes to mind with this, and it is in Revelation. It's something that's repeated 7 times in 7 verses throughout 2 chapters. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Ya think that might be important? I don't have my Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with me at the moment, but I know that there are many verses regarding hearing, being slow to speak, etc. If I look back over my life, I can see many times when I spoke rashly, out of anger, out of frustration, out of many things, but when I do that, no one can hear me say, "I love you." I realized, not too long ago, that I was beginning to mature as an adult, because I take more time to think before I speak than I ever have before. When someone gets my dander up, it's so easy to lash out, and it takes much more to stop, listen to what they're saying, and respond lovingly.

There's a verse I keep in my cubicle that I've heard my mother say over and over in my life.
"I have wept through the night
for the shortness of sight
that to somebody's need made me blind,
but I never have yet
felt a twinge of regret
for being a little too kind."

I find myself tempering my words a little before they escape me. I find myself re-reading my emails time and time again before I hit send to make sure that the tone of my words is one of love and kindness. I find it more and more important, as the days go by, to convey to others the way I truly feel, and more and more, how I feel is compassionate. I look at people and see beauty. I try to place myself in others' shoes, and I try to hear what they would if someone said my words to me. I can't say that I'm successful in this, yet, but I will be.

I'd like to think that my ears are open. I'd like to think that in all the noise, the everyday circumstances, the hardships of life, I can hear the whisper of God amongst the rabble. This is a skill that I am trying to develop, daily.

As my friends and family, I'd like to ask this of you: Please keep me accountable. Please let me know when I'm not listening. Please help me as I try to become more teachable.

Much love,

14 August 2006

Where does the time go?

Do you remember back when you were a little girl and time just seemed to creep? I do. I remember when mom used to say we were going to leave in five minutes, and it felt like HOURS before we left. Now I think, "OK, I'll leave in 5 minutes," and twenty minutes later, I glance at my watch thinking I've still got 3 minutes to spare. Why is it that time seems to go so much more quickly now? You always hear that. At least, I always did. I always heard adults say things like "Time flies" or something of the sort, and I never believed it. I have this theory that one of the reasons why the elderly move so slowly is because to them, they feel as though time is moving more quickly, so they're under the impression that they're really trucking. Random meandering of thought.

The reason I ask is this: About 5 minutes ago, I moved to Arlington, VA from Olathe, KS. Of course, it's actually been a whole year, but it feels like it's been 5 minutes. My sister's been married for a year. My car was totaled a year ago. I lost my karate academy a year ago... It just doesn't seem like it's been that long, but it has. On the other hand, if this last year has gone so quickly, then the next one will probably go even faster. A year from now, I'll be moving back to the Midwest. A year from now, I'll be getting back into the dojo. A year from now, my new car will be paid off... Ah, the things that can happen in a year.

I guess the thing is that it's so easy to not live in this moment. It's so easy to define yourself the way you always have. It's so easy to look forward to something so much that you miss all the moments until you get to that point, and then that thing goes screaming by... I like the way Professor Harold Hill puts it in the Music Man. He says, "Pile up too many tomorrows and you'll find that you've collected nothing but a bunch of empty yesterdays." Of course, then there are also the people who do the opposite, the people who live in the past. There's a poem on the wall in my dear friend Terry's house that talks about this very thing.

I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was Speaking:
“My name is I am”
He paused.
I waited.

He continued.
“When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard.
I am not there. My name is not I was.
When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard.
I am not there. My name is not I will be.
When you live in this moment it is not hard. I am here.

My name is I am.”

I think that maybe the reason time goes so slowly when we're children is that we haven't developed a past in which to live, and we haven't yet been taught to be anxious over the future. If we could un-learn these two time-thieves, I think we could slow down and live more fully in the present. I like the two following quotations... now I just have to learn to live them.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return. ~Mary Jean Iron

It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis. ~Margaret Bonnano

Much love.

08 August 2006

A Serious Topic-- Breast Cancer

I used to say, "The only 2 things that I'm scared of are shots and spiders." Well, that's changed. I'm no longer scared of shots, due to the fact that I'm a regular blood donor, now. (I was going to put some joke about tequila here, but decided against it... I don't like tequila, anyway. And if my mother is reading this, I've never touched the stuff.) I still have no love for spiders, and I'd prefer to live in an entirely spider-free universe, but I'm not really afraid of them (unless they're the really, really big ones from Harry Potter). My two little fears have been replaced and surpassed by the terror that strikes deep into my heart when I think of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a scourge. While it mainly exists in women, men do get it as well. No one is completely risk-free when it comes to this illness, though some are at a much higher risk. The thing about it is this: breast cancer affects everyone in some way. It does not limit itself to touching only those it infects. The effects of breast cancer reach into the lives of those without it. Breast cancer is an unseen monster that reaches into every life with millions of mile-long tentacles . One in every seven-- you read that right, SEVEN-- women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. Think of the women you love. Not all the women you know, just the ones who really mean something to you. Divide the number of women you love by seven, and that's how many times you should be touched by breast cancer, in your life.

See, breast cancer is a demon that must be fought by the person carrying it, but for those who don't have it, it's Harvey-- an unseen force, but unlike the rabbit, this one is waging war against someone you love, leaving you helpless in its wake. Nothing you can do will make a difference. The war is waged on the inside of someone you love, and there's no way to help fight. It's a personal battle. It's a battle of wills, waged with molecules.

Sometimes I wonder if it's harder on the family than it is on the fighter, simply because of the fact that there are things that you can DO if you are diagnosed. There are drugs you can take, foods you can eat, things you can learn, and you have the ability to fight the demon mentally, each day. But your family? Your family gets to sit and wait. They get to watch your hair fall out as the chemo takes its toll on your body. They get to "be there for you" and bring you things, but there's nothing they can do to help you win the daily war, no matter how much they may want to. The battles fought by the loved ones are those for sanity, mental fortitude, and strength. Your family holds you up. They can't let the strain of watching your condition, moment-by-moment, affect them. They must stay "up", happy, helpful, concerned, but not worried. They get to hurt for you, but they don't get to help you fight. That is a road they must watch you walk alone.

Breast cancer terrifies me. What terrifies me most is not getting it, though that would be bad enough, but watching those I love be diagnosed and fight for their lives. I think of those I know who are left without a mother, wife, sister, friend, and my heart just breaks. I think of the children who grow up without a mommy. I think of the man who grows old, alone. I think of the parents who ache for a daughter that's not there, the brother who wishes that he could have had just one more moment to tease his sister... And then, I think of MY parents, MY brother and sisters, MY Aunt Polly, MY nieces and nephew, MY friends, and I hope and pray that I never leave them that way.

I will be walking the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in DC, next May. My prayer is that God will use me in the lives of those affected by breast cancer, directly or indirectly, and that those I love will be shielded and helped throughout this war.

One final thought: Check your breasts. Do your breast self-exams (yes, men, too...). Get your mammograms. Learn about IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer-- no lumps, cannot be detected by mammogram). Eat properly. Don't smoke. Love your family and friends. Talk to me, if you'd like to donate money for my Avon Walk or click here.

Life's too short, people. Hold the ones you love.
Much love.

03 August 2006

Neat trick

Click on the "E" below, and drag it to the "u."

Even though you can't see Him, God is there for you.

Sister Sia

So, my sister, Sia, came to see me last week. For her graduation from high school, I flew her out. This was her first solo flight, so it was quite the adventure. The flight was delayed for 3 hours, and when it finally came in, I was at the wrong terminal*!! Well done. We had such an absolute blast together. I can’t even tell you how much fun it was to have her here! We crammed as much as we could into the time we had. She got in after 1 Saturday morning, and we didn’t get to bed until after 3, but we were up and getting ready before 8. Saturday, we went driving around the National Mall, and finally settled on a parking spot near the Capital building. We got tickets for a tour*, and then moved on. We went into the Botanical Garden*, and Sia showed me all kinds of plants that she used to know in the jungle of Africa. It was really neat. It’s different doing that kind of thing with someone from another world. Then we went to the Native American museum* and had lunch. The cafeteria there (Thanks for the tip, Aunt Jill!!) has all different varieties of American Indian food. Most of the meat is buffalo and fish varieties. We had all kinds of wonderful things, and decided that our mutual favorite was the flat bread. Mmmmmm. After lunch, we watched a movie in the museum that shows different American Indians in their lives today. Then, we bee-lined it back over to the Capital building for our tour. After the tour, we were going to go to Eastern Market, but by the time we found it (there should be signs, seriously.) they were closing down for the day. So we headed home, by way of the grocery store and Blockbuster, and had some sandwiches and watched a couple of movies. Sunday, with just a few hours of sleep under our belts, we got up in time to go to the early service (7:45a.m.) at my church. Sadly, our Commander-In-Chief and First Lady were not in attendance. We went home to change and then headed for Eastern Market. I think we made a serious dent. There’s only one section that we didn’t see, and we didn’t realize we’d missed it until we were headed to the zoo*. We did the zoo thing (yes, we saw the baby panda—he was up in a tree and looked really uncomfortable. He was napping strung out between 2 little branches, looking like a fat, fuzzy hammock), and then headed out for home. OK—here’s the fun thing: the zoo is free. Parking at the zoo is $4/hour. We paid 12 bucks for PARKING!!! Grrrr. I went to work Monday morning, and left Sia catching up on her beauty rest. After noon, I came home and we set out again, first to get the car inspected (2 parking tickets* in one day were plenty), then to Chinatown for lunch, then back over to the National Mall to stake out our place on the lawn for the movie. There is something called “Screen on the Green”* that happens on Monday nights during the summer. It was a blast! It wasn’t too insanely hot, and we got a great spot. We could see the car (maybe a 10-second walk from it) from our blanket, and the movie was Band Wagon with Fred Astaire. After the movie, we drove around the Mall again so that Sia could see the monuments lit up at night. Tuesday, I went to work for the morning, and then picked up Sia for more tourism. We had some lunch (KFC) and then went to Arlington National Cemetery (changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknowns, Kennedy gravesite, etc.) where parking was much more reasonable than it was at the zoo. Then we went over to the Mall and walked amongst the monuments and souvenir stands. We hit Lincoln, Vietnam, WWII, Washington, the reflecting pool, and a few softball league games. We headed back to Arlington in time to pick up Darla for dinner, and ate at Bangkok 54*. We visited with Darla for a bit longer, then headed back to my place to get ready for bed. Sia’s flight left early Wednesday morning. All-in-all, it was a lot of fun. We had some really interesting and meaningful conversations, and saw lots of new thing, (Asterisks indicate things I’d never done.) and we have a whole list of things to do when she comes back, again!

01 August 2006

The poem

The poem in the previous post just started coming to me, and I felt as though I needed to set it down on paper. It's the age-old question-- should I let anyone close to me after being hurt? or, as Minnie Driver put it in Grosse Pointe Blank, "Should a once-broken-hearted girl give a guy a second chance? First caller, you're on the air."

Any thoughts?

The Risk

This heart that beats but barely,
Like the broken wing of a bird…
It lifts no weight to be carried;
Too bruised by the tone of a word

Yet another may heal what is broken
And may touch the wound without pain.
But too close he must come without knowing;
He may break what is broken again.

When he puts forth his hand to touch me,
Do I trust in the look in his eyes?
For if guised his intent is malicious,
To let him too close is not wise.

But who can tell from a distance
Whether demon or doctor is he?
Should it quietly bear the inflicted,
Or with the healer, be “we”?