Saturday, October 23, 2010
Earlier this summer, my eldest was making plans for her 21st birthday. While most new 21 year olds are out proving they can get as drunk as any idiot, taking all the free drinks the bars offer, my daughter chose to spend her birthday with her family. My daughter chose to spend her 21st birthday with her dad, mom and little sisters. I just had to say that again.
In spite of the mistakes I've made - and they were numerous - my daughters love their family. Having my daughter choose her family to spend her special day with instead of partying with friends might be enough to carry me through for the next 50 years. I don't have any special awards to put on the walls, no public recognition, but my children actually like me and want to spend time with me, and that is all I need. Beats awards all to heck.
And what does that have to with turning 50? Well, as I was pondering the fact that my daughter was turning 21, I turned my mind back to the day she was born. My first pregnancy, my first labor, my first baby. All those memories. Then I thought about how we hadn't rushed into parenthood. In fact, I was a few weeks shy of 29 before my oldest was born. HUH! HALT! Back up there a moment. If I was almost 29, and it's been 21 years, (silent mental math going on here) that makes me a few weeks shy of my 50th birthday.
50? How in the heck did that happen. I knew it was coming, yet it really had not registered. I don't feel 50. I have to force myself to do the computation. Yes. 50. If I went off what I feel, I would guess I'm still in my 30's. Ah! The cruelest joke of all must be time. I'm not depressed over turning 50. More than anything, I'm in awe that it happened so fast. It feels it happened without me being aware of it.
Well, the day has come and gone. Hannah and her boyfriend, Rachael and her husband, Tim and I went out for lunch to one of my favorite sandwich shops. I spent the day with my husband and children. It was quiet. Rather like me. The way I like it. Then it was all over. It just was. Nothing was any different. Yet everything is different.
I remember my dad talking about when he was 50 and how far off 80 seemed. Yet, here he was at 80, and it happened so quick. That cruel trickster again. Have my priorities changed? No. I still want to treasure every moment. I want to not miss a chance to love my family, smile, laugh, cry, enjoy this one wild and precious life.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Twenty-eight years my husband gave to that company. A year after Hurd became CEO my husband finally got cut in one of his massive lay-offs. Bitter? Surprisingly, I haven't been extremely bitter until today. There were so many people losing their jobs, that I never took it personally, and for some reason, never felt bitter. Today is a different story. I am beyond bitter. Just totally ticked off is more like it.
I want justice. Who wants to join me in demanding justice? Anyone?
Oh well. While I'm waiting I'm going to have an icy gin and tonic and a bowl of guacamole.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I hate wearing pantyhose.
I hate hair gel, hair spray, curling irons.
I hate business/office clothes.
I love my jeans.
I love loose, full, long skirts.
I love cotton blouses.
I love being barefoot.
I love Birkenstocks if I must wear shoes.
I love walking barefoot through the dewey grass in the morning.
I love drinking coffee in my orchard.
I hate arguing, debating.
I love discussions (both sides open to learning).
I love people.
I hate crowds.
I LOVE my children.
I LOVE my husband.
I love walking with my husband, holding his hand, brushing my shoulder against his.
I love thunderstorms.
I love laying in bed with the window open while it rains.
I love laying in the orchard at night with my husband.
I hate discontent.
I hate that we have so many divisions that cannot be put aside for friendship.
I hate touching and looking at raw meat.
I hate warm milk.
I love cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce from my garden.
I love salads and eat a big one everyday.
I love books.
I love rearranging my books.
I love snuggling.
I hate violent movies.
I love fresh baked bread with butter and homemade peach jam.
I love the feel of a freshly laid warm egg.
I hate fast.
I love slow.
I hate traffic.
I love taking my time.
I love daydreaming.
I hate most sitcoms on TV.
I HATE arguments over religion. Hate, I say.
I love star gazing and letting my mind wander - the possibilities.
I love roads I've never traveled.
I LOVE the ocean.
I love daisies.
I love my home.
I HATE consumerism.
I love finding things I don't need.
I love getting the last itty bit of toothpaste out of the tube.
I love Tolkien.
I love hobbits.
That's all for now.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
All the recent news about sexual abuse in the Church is difficult but most difficult is the news that hits home. Over the past few years I've been sort of following the news about Fr. Maciel, the Legion of Christ, and particularly, Regnum Christi. Over the years I've been closely involved with people in RC; in fact, no one knows how close I came to joining. I've always been a person that needs to belong to something. I need a tribe. So I go looking. That's how I found RC. For whatever reason, thankfully, something held me back from taking that final plunge. It was that something that never settled quite right with me. Plus, Tim had no interest whatsoever in it, and they were always after both of us although I think they would have taken me alone.
Anyway, for years I've been very closely involved with RC people even though I never joined. I helped with their groups, meetings, etc. My children were involved with their groups: Kids 4 Jesus, Familia, Challenge. I attended their women's meetings for some time. They were my support group even though I stayed on the sidelines. These people were my friends. I care about them. And what I see now absolutely sickens me.
They refuse to acknowledge the truth. Of course, RC still controls what goes into their minds. They read the RC communiques carefully and do whatever they're told. When they're told not to read certain authors, newspapers, blogs, they don't read. Still! How can you overlook and excuse the truth. One family still has Maciel's picture prominently displayed on their dining room wall. I was just reading a blog entry by another friend who was stating how much they still loved and respected Maciel for all the good he had done. Another friend was writing how we're not in a place to judge as we're all sinners. (Yes, we're all sinners but how many of us sexually abuse children, take money of people we've hoodwinked and build an empire?) Many are still hanging onto the fact that John Paul II loved Fr. Maciel, and of course, JPII could never be wrong.
Where does all this take me? Back to religion. The power religion has over people. I'm beginning to think that religion is the most powerful influence that has ever existed. Religion doesn't just deal with life here on earth; it deals with your eternal life. Hell or Paradise with God. Think of that power. Incredible. For several years I've viewed religion as neutral, neither good nor bad. It's power can go either way - great good or great evil. There has been great good done, and there has been great evil done. The deciding factor is human nature. Humans use religion for their own purposes. If there wasn't religion, humans would find some other means to get what they desire.
I'm beginning to wonder now if religion is as impotent, on its own, as I've made it in my mind. Now I wonder if religion, by its very nature of separating and dividing, doesn't tend to bring out the negatives in our nature. We desire to be right, for our truth to be the Truth, and for that to happen we need to be able to point to those who are wrong, whose truth is not the Truth. Religion does that for us.
These are my own personal experiences. How I experienced religion. When I said I was sickened by behavior of friends, what truly sickened me was the knowledge that behavior was my behavior and could still, very easily, be my behavior. I see myself so clearly in them. That is what appalls me and frightens me. I feel as a recovered alcoholic might feel: one drink might land me right back in the gutter. I do not want to fall of the wagon.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
What I hate hearing most at times such as this is 'it's God's will' or 'it must have been his time'. Doesn't work for me. God's will. What a damn cop out. Life is full of tragic accidents, illnesses, untimely deaths. Let's just blame some God that sits up there in heaven for everything. It's just life. The good and the bad. For those people who believe it's God's will, I hope it is a balm for them, that it helps them in their grief. When I have tried to find answers for suffering, unhappiness, grief, it has driven me crazy to the point of depression.
More and more I'm feeling at peace with just letting it be - letting the mystery be. Suffering is. Death is. At the same time happiness is. Joy is. Instead of wasting precious time, of which I don't have enough, in trying to figure out why there is suffering or tragic deaths, I would rather spend my time living each day fully. Enjoying and taking pleasure in EVERY SINGLE MOMENT I HAVE HERE ON EARTH. I want to spend my time listening and being with people/God (same thing for me). No need to go looking for sacrifices - they will present themselves in a way you will not be able to say no to. They'll come.
The one thing funerals seem to scream at me is: slow down, simplify, live slowly and fully, love fully. There is enough in the world that needs love to keep you occupied until the day you die. Actually, Tim and I are doing pretty well. I think we are. Our lives move rather slowly, we don't need a lot, we're a pretty simple couple. We have time - so much more now that's he's not working. Time. Once you sell it, it's gone. All you've got in exchange is the amount for which you agreed to sell it. What a poor substitute. This is my own private revolution against our culture. I will fight it tooth and nail. They can keep their high standard of living, their big, gas guzzling SUV's, huge homes and all the rest of it. And I'll keep my time.
Funerals do have a way of keeping life in perspective.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
I've been feeling down lately. There has been more nastiness going on in my extended world. Why oh why do people have to look for reasons to exclude other people? And what gives you more reasons than you need to exclude someone? Religion, of course. Every time it happens, I feel as though I've slugged in my soul. How do you get away from it? Or how do you become immune to it?
On a much happier note, my daughter and son-in-law are here. It looks as though my daughter will be staying and looking for a job. As soon as she finds a job, her husband will be moving here; he is currently a long-haul truck driver. They were planning on moving here by this summer anyway since my daughter will be starting school again in the fall, but if she has a job, it will be much easier for her hubby to quit.
My beautiful daughter and handsome son-in-law. I love them both so much. Isn't it wonderful the way families grow?
My two oldest, beautiful daughters (actually I have five beautiful daughters). Sisters and best friends. I do feel proud and accomplished. Plus, I really like them. A couple of wonderful young women.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
My mom and dad had this bowl for as long as I can remember. Perhaps they used it in the restaurant they owned at the time I was born. I have vivid memories of my dad eating popcorn out of this bowl. This is the bowl he always used for his sourdough pancakes, and it is now used for my sourdough pancakes.
My dad's grill. My newer grill burned out, but his old grill still cooks up a good batch of pancakes.
And we will eat the pancakes on plates that belonged to my parents on a table that was in their kitchen. This is the table where my parents argued over the crossword puzzle every morning: mom always got it first so she could get her few answers in before dad finished it up. This is the table where I ate the last dinner my mom ever cooked. This is the table where I sat with my dad, crying, the morning after mom died.
See what I mean? They have stories. They have memories. These are sacred items.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Recently there has been a flood of religious posts most of which end up getting closed. I think the moderation is a little strict, since we're all adults, but it's their message board. In the past, in religious threads, I have identified myself as a Catholic Christian. I've also been involved in discussions where I've talked about my journey. Yesterday, someone asked non-Christians (Pagans, Buddhists, Wiccans, etc.) to talk about their beliefs. Well, I did it. I posted about the quiz I took and little about how my belief in 'God' has changed over the years.
That might seem like a little thing, but it was a huge step for me. It was with anxiety and some fear that I clicked submit. It's not at all unusual for the 'louder' of the conservative Christian group to jump in and, not discuss, but argue. It goes without saying that they are absolutely, without a doubt, right, and everyone else is wrong, so having a enlightening discussion is a forlorn hope. Just to say I'm feeling rather proud of myself right now. One step at a time: first, be honest with yourself and branch out from there.
One other thing. Last night we went to another parish for Mass (due to the main road being blocked heading north). The pastor of this parish has the reputation of being the most liberal priest around - with our regular pastor coming in second. The main point of all this is: I loved his sermon. In all my years I had never heard the parable of The Prodigal Son explain in such a way. I felt full of love when I walked out. Even more than that, I felt so full of love and felt so sure that God is Love that I even went to communion which I haven't been doing for some time. I'm going to quit here before I start talking about something that will depress me.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
This week this same survey popped up in a thread I was involved in. I clicked over there and stared at the questions. I was nervous. I think my clicking finger was shaking. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and clicked. This time, not the ‘right’ answer, but my answer, from my heart. Moved on to the next question and did the same. It wasn’t easy. I felt cold all over. Is this how a traitor feels? But I did it and clicked submit. My eyes were squeezed shut because I was still afraid to see the verdict. Would I pass or would I fail. Or would I be able to recognize failure as my own personal victory? I opened my eyes slowly, and there it was before me. My feelings were all over the place. There was no going back. I must move forward. So I will publicize it. Tell the truth to the whole internet world, which is relatively safe, since my entire internet world here consists of a handful of people. Braver than I was a year ago.
100% - Neo-Pagan
98% - Liberal Quaker
And at the very bottom…
Eastern Orthodox and
I think they both had around 2%.
So, what do I do with this? Neo-Pagan? Hmmm. I know some very nice Pagan people on line. This helps. My favorite sister-in-law is a liberal Quaker, and I don’t think there is a nicer, more compassionate, respectful person walking the earth right now. Okay. Pretty good company so far.
This time I was honest, or as honest as you can be with multiple choice answers that don’t quite pinpoint you. Still, it wasn’t the answer I wanted. You see, I want to answer the questions honestly, from my soul, but I want the answer on the bottom to be on the top. But it doesn’t work that way. If I’m honest, I don’t get the result I want. To get the result I want, I have to ignore my heart, my mind, my reason. Is that what belief and faith amount to? So I felt sad.
Then I felt happy. I had passed a big hurdle. I had passed a personal test. It took courage and resolve and faith. Faith in myself.
I’m moving forward.
Friday, February 26, 2010
There’s this movie that we’ve watched on several occasions. Each time I have nothing less than a spiritual awakening. The movie is The Straight Story. Richard Farmsworth (Matthew from Anne of Green Gables) plays the part of Alvin Straight who is making a trip ‘his way’ to see his estranged brother. It’s one of those heartwarming movies that makes you cry, smile and laugh all at the same time, and leaves you feeling uplifted for days afterward. But it’s much more than that for me.
Alvin is no-one important, at least by our culture’s measuring stick. He not well-educated, a common laborer, maybe not even the nicest man around. He admits he used to drink and he was mean when he drank. But his story, for me, is the epitome of human spirit.
We watched the movie this last weekend, and this time it finally dawned on me why this movie always leaves me feeling I’ve had a spiritual epiphany. It’s a movie about God. Alvin is on a pilgrimage – a pilgrimage to honor God, to honor the human spirit. That’s it. The human spirit, that something that can never adequately be described with words: the passion, emotion, conviction, courage, lust, desire, love, hatred, determination, that spirit. That is God. Human spirit is God. God is human spirit.
Have I just raised man to the level of godhood? Or have I lowered God to the level of manhood? Or is there any difference?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
We understand each other so well.
Friday, February 12, 2010
From "The Voices"
The rich and the fortunate do well to keep silent,
for no one cares to know who and what they are.
But those in need must reveal themselves,
must say: I am blind,
or: I'm on the verge of going blind,
or: nothing goes well with me on earth,
or: I have a sickly child,
or: I have little to hold me together ...
And chances are this is not nearly enough.
And because people try to ignore them as they
pass by them: these unfortunate ones have to sing!
And at times one hears some excellent singing!
Of course, people differ in their tastes: some would
prefer to listen to choirs of boy-castrati.
But God Himself comes often and stays long,
when the castrati's singing disturbs Him.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Always on Groundhog Day, we watch Groundhog Day. Every year. In our room with the girls on the floor. They expect it. I expect it. Husband expects it. One of life's anchors.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
One nice thing about a blog that almost nobody reads is that I feel freer to write my thoughts on some very controversial subjects. I do not care to debate. I don't have answers. I have many, many questions. Writing it out helps me.
It became clear to me, after participating in the Right to Life March and listening to the speakers this year, that there is a huge divide between what being pro-life means to me and what it means to many who wear the label pro-life. This has been eating at me all week, and I’ve finally decided I need to sort it out – for my own sanity, you know.
Over the last five years or so it has become more apparent that many pro-life people (the vocal ones) do not speak for me. First off, I want to say that I am PRO-LIFE. However, I’m beginning to think that many of the pro-life people are more anti-abortion than pro-life. I’ve come to this opinion based on attending pro-life marches and rallies, being on numerous e-mailing lists, reading the writings of pro-life leaders.
Anyway, I want to get down what I mean when I say I’m pro-life.
Pro-life is huge. See the word LIFE in there. That is from beginning (conception) to end (death). Taking life as a whole, the time in the womb is the shortest part. Extremely important, but very, very small compared to the rest of life. Pro-life is supporting life. Inside the womb as well as outside. When we narrow pro-life to being anti-abortion, we remove the largest part of life. (I can already see arguments and problems with my reasoning, but I’m still working on it.)
So let’s address abortion by itself. I don’t believe we will ever see Roe v Wade overturned. In fact, I’m not sure that is the best way to fight abortion. We would probably end up with more people accused of crimes (according to the law) than our already overloaded court system can deal with. Women aren’t going to stop seeking abortions, and there are doctors who are going to provide them. Making something illegal doesn’t solve the underlying problem. What is the underlying problem? Wish I knew. The pro-life answer is probably a lack of respect for human life, not seeing the sanctity of human life. I see a definite lack of respect for humanity – worldwide – from the unborn to the aged and everything in between. It’s more than that. On a practical level then, what do we do? Try to reduce the number of abortions. Envision a world where abortion is rarely used. How? A few starters might be:
Education. Girls and boys educated about sex. Not just on a physical level, but on an emotional level, too. Teach respect. Can you even do that? We could try. I have personally seen much negativity being taught about sex among conservative Christians, but that’s for another time.
Contraceptives. Make them easily available and affordable. My insurance doesn’t cover contraceptives. Part of me thinks: why don’t you just use birth control? It’s so easy. Maybe it’s not so easy, though. Then I know people who have said they would be more upset and concerned over their child using birth control than having pre-marital sex. My daughter was getting birth control from PP, and it didn’t seem that cheap to me – especially for a young woman who doesn’t make much money. Again, boys need to be taught that they are also responsible for contraceptives.
Support. That young girl that is pregnant? She needs your help. From health care to maybe shelter, food, work, and a shoulder to cry on. I keep hearing about crisis pregnancy centers. Those are great, but I don’t know of any locally that provide health care, probably due to a lack of funding. They have clothes and referrals, but those girls need health care, during and after the birth. And I swear the next time somebody spouts off personal responsibility, I’m going to smack them.
I’m willing to listen to other thoughts. As long as it's not preaching.
Last week I spent an hour listening to pro-life speakers. Their main (only ?) concern this year was that we defeat health care reform. I heard nothing about education (many are opposed to sex education in schools), I never hear anything about making contraceptives more available (there would be problems with the Catholic and some evangelical pro-lifers), and I hear little about support. It’s always political.
Another thing. The pro-life movement seems to be a Christian movement; in fact, a conservative, evangelical Christian movement. While they were decrying health care reform (will increase abortions by the millions and elderly people will be dying off by the thousands), they didn’t miss a chance to encourage people to spread the Gospel of Jesus while they were campaigning against ‘Obama care’. I personally have met several Muslim and Jewish women, over message boards, who would like to be part of a pro-life movement, but find it impossible due to religion. I’ve even met a few non-religious people who self-identify as pro-life but want nothing to do with Christian groups. Shouldn’t we be reaching across the path to the other side? Is life only important to Christians?
With all the flack going on about Tim Tebow’s ad during the Super Bowl, I did a little reading. His mother was in the Philippines while pregnant with him. I think abortion is illegal there, so I’m not really sure if abortion would have been a legal choice. I’m positive even if she were here in the US, she would not have chosen to abort. I admire her choice. That’s fine. But. Just because everything worked out fine for her, there are many women in similar circumstances (major health issues) where things didn’t work out so well. Not everybody gets a miracle (regardless of faith, religion or how hard they pray).
While abortion is severely restricted in the Philippines, many women choose to abort and many end up in the hospital due to lack of proper care during and after the abortion. I found an article about a woman who went to an older woman for an abortion. She performed the abortion through massage (crushing the baby???). This lady bled for a week afterwards. She was begging God to forgive her. Why did she do it? Because she didn’t know how she was going to feed another baby. The one thing that becomes more and more apparent as I get older, is that life is not black and white. It’s rather a beautiful color of gray. I didn’t sleep well after reading that article. No-one should sleep well after reading an article like that. Especially pro-lifers.
Then there was the woman who found out that her baby was developing with only a partial skull and no brain. The answer I read? That we (including her) needed to learn to love sitting at the foot of the cross with Christ. Somehow, that just isn’t a good answer. This woman and her husband did decide to abort. Answers to these problems are not easy nor are they always black and white. I know what the Christian pro-lifer says about this, but I’m not clear what God is saying. The one thing I think both sides could agree upon is creating a world where abortion is rarely chosen. But to do that, you truly have to support LIFE.
Pro-life also means to me:
I’m opposed to the death penalty.
I’m opposed to war (although this appears to be a pipe dream).
I’m opposed to oppression, by religions, governments, the rich. Remove oppression, and we might be a good way towards eradicating war.
I believe people have a right, simply due to their humanity, to basic health care, clean water, food, simple shelter.
I believe in personal responsibility. I also believe in responsibility for the whole of humanity. I am responsible for my own actions. I am also responsible for humanity. I am inseparable from the whole of humanity. When humanity suffers, I suffer.
I would love to go to a pro-life rally that truly supports life.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
My brother-in-law from China will serve tea to family and friends when he is here. The process is quite detailed and takes time. There is no rushing tea. When he has served me tea, I feel special, cared for, honored.
Tea at our house is nothing as elaborate as his teas, but they are still sacred. Even a cup with a tea bag and some boiling water is special. Every day I try to take time to have tea and let my mind clear for a few moments.
When I drink tea, I am drinking tea with several generations of women in my family. I am not alone. The last thing I ever said to my mom was, "I'll drop by tomorrow and we'll have tea". And we do.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
All my life I was told to stand on my own two feet, make my own decisions, think for myself. I come from a long line of very strong women. Women who made their own decisions and made their own way. Liberated before their time women. Yet, when it came to matters of faith, I never heard that lesson. Yes, I was told I had to make my own decisions and that I had free will, but underneath those words you fully understood that the decision of faith had only two outcomes: truth and the right way or lies and the wrong way. So in the end, you weren't really free since if you made a choice other than the true one, you would find yourself headed to hell. It's so easy to say 'you need to follow your own conscience but if you choose anything else than our way, your damned'. Yeah, lot to choose from.
Add to that the belief that I was flawed, weak, given to sin, easily led astray by any temptation, and that the only way I could ensure my soul was safe was to follow the teachings of the church, irregardless of whether I understood or believed them, I'm pretty much crippled when it comes to trusting my inner voice. The last time I discussed this with another person, his strong suggestion was that I find myself a spiritual adviser, and quick. They would listen, make sure I wasn't falling into error, and it would be someone on the side of my soul. The suggestion didn't help much. Sure, go to someone, bare my soul, have them tell me I'm being led astray (as I know they would if they were a devout Catholic - they would have no choice), that I need to keep believing in spite of my doubt. That I need to humble myself and be obedient to the church's teachings. Basically, don't' listen to your own voice, it's not trustworthy. No thank you. I've already been there.
Of course, I've been surrounded by ultra-conservative, radical, orthodox Catholics. The real Catholics. Not those false Catholics that are trying to tear down the church. Yeah, whatever. I have completely removed myself from them. Still, I can't shake it. I've given very brief thought to asking our Pastor if he would give me a little time. This is a priest that those conservative Catholics run from as though he's the devil incarnate. However, I'm not very comfortable with him. He's not, or certainly doesn't seem, approachable. Frankly, I don't want to talk to anyone that has all the answers. Lately, every Christian I meet, has all the answers. The truth is their way.
I think it's time for me to grow up and start accepting responsibility for my own faith life, whether right or wrong. It's time to quit blaming others for my inability to trust myself. I have the power to choose to listen to myself, find my own God, a God that I'm comfortable with. In fact, I do believe it is each person's own responsibility to do this, to be personally responsible for what they believe.
I just wish I could embrace this journey with excitement and without fear.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Sometimes I have this uneasy, very distressing feeling, that the atheists are right....
I don't like that feeling. At all.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
I don't care for any of them. Maybe pursuits. I will pursue:
Peace with what I know and what I believe right now, and peace with the knowledge that what I know and what I believe might very well be different by the end of 2010.