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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Mind, Body, Spirit Connection

When God took a day or a million years or so to create the human body, he sure put a lot of amazing creativity into it. Some of that creativity is subtle enough that not everyone becomes aware of them, even though they walk around with all the componants of the project for the entire duration of their human existance.

Something that holds a great deal of reverence and fascination for me is the mind/body/spirit connection. On some level I've always been aware of it, but the first time I was fully conscious and grateful of it was when my kindly Doctor first suggested antidepressants to me. I spoke aloud some of my fears about medicating my mind- fearing that it was similar to smoking dope or snorking cocaine when what I needed was some sort of God revelation or healing.

My Doctor took his prescription pad, turned it over, and drew three conjoining circles. One he labelled "body", one "mind" and one "spirit". Then he indicated how when one circle is skewed, it pulls the other two out of alignment. (sort of like a chiropractic schtick). How, if I was treating a spiritual problem with a physical solution, the spiritual problem would still continue to exist and would still cry out to be addressed. With, or without antidepressants.

And that's one of the ways that these three componants befriend and look out for each other. If your brain or your spirit is not restful, it lets your body know. If you've not learned how to hear your feelings or your spirit,, your body starts acting up and yelling a little louder, in the hopes that all the voices will be heard. Maybe your back will hurt. Your head will hurt, or you'll need more rest than usual. It's because yourself is trying to tell you something.

This kind of thinking freaks some people out because it sounds beat-a-drum-in-the-woods-ish. But I believe that's because the credit is not going where credit is due: the creator. Somehow it's easier to say that people have depressive or anxious issues because they didn't get the answer that they were taught at Sunday School: Jesus. (Remember when you sat on the long bench in Sunday School, and half-listened, and when you heard your teacher's voice lilt in that "question' way, you just shot your hand up and shouted "JESUS!", 'cuz you just knew that would always be the right answer?) Problem is, I knew the answer, but I had little or no idea what that meant on a practical level. What it sounded like to me, was that you had better believe that was the answer, then squelch anything that felt awful because that meant you weren't believing quite hard enough. That you were obviously quite sinful or something, because shoving up your hand and shouting Jesus just didn't make anything better at all.

Now, I believe that it's all much more mysterious than we'd first suspected. It's not coincidental that Jesus spoke in riddles and stories to the complete conundrum of most of his listeners. Disciples included. It's all wrapped up in a tonne of mystery. Whenever I get anxious about 'believing all the right stuff", I think about all those religious leaders who followed the jewish laws and customs and ran the synagogues and did the animal sacrifices for all the church people of jesus' day. Turns out that Jesus called them weird stuff like "brood of vipers". And stuff about how they'd never make it unless they expected God to do it for them.

So, when I discover connections between my body, my brain, and my heart, I credit it to God. I figure he's the one who put it all together, so He's the one who gets the credit.

Recently, I've had a little help getting in touch with an emotion or two. Weirdly, it's always intimidating. You wonder if you'll turn into Sybil or something, maybe grow fangs or additional facial hair, or get one of those slippery beasts bursting forth from your bosom. Usually, it's only a slippery tear or two; nothing out of the ordinary at all. And that's not the brain/body connection after all. The connection is more practical than discovering that you have a slippery monster sharing your skin.

Your body begins to feel more fully inhabited. Luminous. Less foreign and frightening and less like a potential criminal that needs restraint.

The road to getting there is by tunneling down into your body and locating an emotion that you suspect is trying to tell you something. You hold it close, look at it in your hand, check for colour and a voice, and feel around to see where in your body this emotion makes its home. You stop trying to hide from it, you stop trying to make it go away. You "shake hands with the neighbors", so to speak.

Weird and wonderful stuff happens. Turns out that your emotions can teach your brain and your body a thing or two if you just listen. And you're not listening to a drum in the bush, sitting in the lotus position and emptying your mind.

You are listening to the amazing piece of machinery that your Creator made.

Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Something to think about.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Processing Out Loud

I (foolishly)........ valiantly..... posted about this support group idea. I know the premise. I know what I want to communicate, I know what I want to explore. I'm plugged into a church, I have begun making the phone calls to get me to point of standing up on a Sunday morning and asking women whether they want to join me. I found the Geneen Roth website, and with Brian's help, discovered teaching packages complete with books and teaching DVDs.

Here's my hangup. It's not Christ-centred teaching. And I'm okay with that on a personal level- from the perspective that no matter who you are or where you've come from, you are created of God and have good to share with the world. Geneen has thought this food and body stuff through to a level that I believe it unprecedented. I've yet to find anything close to it, and I've yet to find anything comprehensive that centres on our wholeness originating from who we are in God.

It's not exactly that I feel I need to "Christian-ize" it.
But I believe that my faith is my center. I believe that when we are bound up in addictions and preoccupations, it is nearly impossible to be effective and move very far forward in our spiritual walk. I also think that if I promote a teaching in church, it should be one that not only aids in the promotion of emotional and physical health, but should urge people into relationship with their Creator. It should teach a new identity- God esteem to replace self esteem.

And if I use a teaching series under the context of church, but it teaches on a spirituality that doesn't have to do with Jesus, that I could be messing with some very non-churchy stuff. It could be suggested that I was "preaching another gospel". I take seriously that the Bible warns against stupid, irresponsible people posing as teachers and then messing individuals up worse than they were when they came to you for "help".

Ironically, I would be willing to host this type of support group outside of the umbrella of the church. I feel like in that context, all I would have to do is make clear my own spiritual beliefs (just for authenticity purposes), and then let the tapes do the teachings without me worrying about heresy.

Hmmmmm. What to do.
I will for now, order the teaching packages and view them myself at home. From there I'll have to decide what direction to go in.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Those Darn Kids





Sometimes on the weekend I think the kids are bored and having the horriblest time of their lives. But on Monday when I dump the pictures out of the camera, I discover that maybe it wasn't so bad after all!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Letting Go of the Past

I've always been a journaler. I have a stack of notebooks scrawled full of crushes and questions, anxieties, diets, plans, and numbers. Lots of numbers. I've always valued the fact that I kept these journals, imagining what insights and memories I could gain at some other, older point in my life walk. This morning I had reason to dig up that stack of journals to hunt for some of those apparent insights.

But I mostly found numbers.
The numbers related to the scale, or how many bread servings or cookies I had guiltily consumed that day. These numbers were interspersed with self-hatred, self-doubt, anxiety, fear, and all manner of harsh intentions to change into something, someone, who I was not.

I had no desire to reread any of this nonsense. The only wisdom I came away with was stuffing all those notebooks into a garbage bag and saying good-bye to that stunted girl forever.

There are valuable lessons to take away from this huge stranglehold on my life. And here's what they are. We are not our body. Food is good, creative, and a wonderful sensory pleasure to be taken full advantage of. The human body is an excellent vehicle to drive into the ground, with the sole intent of living life with all it has to offer- all that God has for us.

If I seem preoccupied with the topic of women and their bodies right now; its because I am. I am working on organizing a support group dealing with food and body image. My desire is to provide a forum for supporting women in learning to listen to and trust the intrinsic wisdom of their God-given body, and thereby come to a place of peace in their relationship to food and their body.

We have a choice in our culture. We can be in the world and of the world- Accept what Hollywood says about us as true. That we cannot be trusted. That we cannot be of any significance unless our body is sleek and thin. Or we can become the voices for the alternative. That we are all different in our beauty. That we are powerful, and able to make great impact in our circle of influence. The more we choose the voices and attitudes that support our belief in our power, the quieter the voices of pressure for thin or muscley can become.

And this is my choice. I choose to empower others. I choose not to join in the guilty whispers in the buffet line of life. I choose to define myself by a different standard than Shape and Cosmo.

And I hope you'll do the same. I know that I'll have many times of doubting these decisions, and I could use a strong, sensible woman or two to turn to.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Permission To Exist

Yes, Hello. I am here to apply for "Permission To Exist". As I understand it, thus far I've been getting by on a Limited Access Pass. It works out all right, but it can be a bit of a hassle. There is a lot of time and effort and energy spent standing in lines getting stamps and permission slips for some of life's rides. The review board schtick is getting a bit tiresome as well. It would make things a lot simpler if I had immediate access to all my potential, and maybe if I could get the lifebank statements sent directly to me, that would be more straightforward as well? A lot of these folks who've been on these boards for long enough for tenure really need to move on. I think it's a system that has seen better days.

Right, so. What do I have to do to get on with the process? Oh, you say its mostly internal? And that I already have the handbook somewhere? And what's that you say? That people will always disapprove and want to silence you but that its up to you how you respond?! Huh. Well, that's kind of sobering.

Uh, huh. Yes.... I think I'd still like to apply for that "Existance" pass.
Sounds kind of scarey, but then again, so is the fear of the unknown....

Friday, January 25, 2008

You Know It's Cold When

It's awfully nice to find something in your mailbox that doesn't require writing out a cheque.
So when Brian blustered in with an envelope addressed to MRS Joyce Hildebrand, my curiosity was arroused.
*
It was from my friend Ruth, who lives four streets over, in the very same town, with the very same windchill, experiencing the very same cabin fever as I.
*
It was a picture of a mildly hysterical artist woman looking mildly hysterical in the midst of her studio filled with even more supplies than my room-stuffed-of-inspiration.
*
And the caption from Ruthie read: "Joyce- I saw this picture and I thought of you. (SMILE)."
*
This I take as great encouragement. Maybe I could make a magazine spread for being hysterical and hoarding tonnes of stuff and turning it into other types of stuff like collages, and bags, and other artlike thingies. Maybe I could hoard more stuff.
*
Maybe.... no.... Definately, I'm really lucky to share this windswept town with someone like ruthie!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Like My Kid's Brain

boy: Some things that people think are just wrong.
mom: Like what?
boy: Like when boys want a girl to disappear, or girls want a boy to disappear; if that would really happen, and then there wouldn't be women for men to marry, and then the human race would run out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Weight Preoccupation: The Experience

It would be nice if our daughters would listen to us. It would be nice if they understood us when we spoke to them about nutritious food choices, listening to their bodies, and seeing themselves as more than a silhouette. It would be nice if all mothers believed those things about their own bodies.

But when in my life,the mental tapes begin in grade six, at the vulnerable age of eleven.... it seems that a lifetime of neural pathways become cemented, resurfaced, hardened, with towns and cities and roadsigns and parkways and sewers and landfills surrounding them. A long way down the road, you glance at your thighs one day and realize that you are forty. Not only are you definately not in grade six any more, but you find yourself to be the mother of daughters who are now navigating that very stage of their own lives.

And although you know for sure that as a forty year old you know a lot of stuff you didn't know as an eleven year old.... You still have plenty of days and moments where you wonder if you have changed at all. You wonder if any of the new tapes you have pumped into your head have taken any root whatsoever. You recognize that you are still hostage to numbers and girth , dimples and rolls, and all the meanings you have always attached to your size or to the size you wish you were. There are moments where your brain still believes that you would feel peaceful and secure if you would just lose that 15. or 10. or 5. And there are even more days where you don't even care whether you would find peace or not. You just want to walk about in a body that is thin. You don't really even know why. You feel like it would be worth it to take any risk, do any stupid restrictive diet, just to feel your pants with space in them.

And then you remember that it was that thought exactly that got you into the pickle that you've chewed and choked on for the past twenty nine years. You remember starving in junior high, puking in University. And you know for sure that you've learned something. You've learned how to eat again. How to enjoy food. You know that you have learned that there is something worse than carrying some extra weight. You know that the weight of an eating disorder is incomparably heavier to carry on your mind and body than the pounds your pants stretch to accomodate.

But your twisted mind with its hardened asphalt highways attempts an illegal u-turn. It engages in endless traffic circles. Like a shameless telemarketer it has a comment book for every thought, every hard-earned new way of thinking. With a smooth voice, it titillates. "Well, Kehler. You've pretty much beaten the eating disorder thing. Now all you have to do is lose ten pounds."

I exhaust myself.
And I think that I can do better than this.

It is more challenging now, in ways. My metabolism has slowed down, what with sleeping at night instead of nursing babies, eating suppers as a family now that Brian has a day job, being able to afford groceries (now that Brian has a day job...), getting older, being on anti-anxiety medication, hating most forms of exercise, and Brian making irresistably good food every weekend with the corkscrew in his spare hand.

I don't really want to give any of that up.
I don't know if I will ever completely, entirely, totally love my physical body. I don't know if I will ever forgive myself for not being committed to exercise my legs to counteract their sag and dimply genetic predisposition. I don't know if I will ever get over the guilt of knowing that it would take some seriously committed pattern of running or aerobic exercise to get legs that don't look like my mother's and auntie's.

Ironically, I don't know either whether I will ever accept my legs the way they are. Embrace the lumps.

There is just something about being thin that has endless appeal for me. Maybe its what a recovered crystal meth addict feels like. Every cell in his/her body screams out for that hit, even while knowing that the chemical that gives euphoria is the chemical that deals death.

On days when I lose hope of ever being truly clear-minded, I imagine that I'm more a case of changing diagnoses. Where the morbidly obese patient might be relieved to achieve "obese" status, I ought to be grateful that I've progressed from "eating disordered" to "weight preoccupied". I keep trying to do the mental work of getting better. I keep trying to feel the feelings and not wrestle with making sense of the insensible. I keep trying to experience life as it hits me and trying not to project failures and disappointments on my physical self.

But I do believe that if I were to truly work my program, my mind would clear considerably, and my thighs would shrink. I've made it that far before. So, today I've discovered the website of Geneen Roth, my body image hero. It was her wisdom that saved my life some 18 years ago, and I believe that if I were to truly re-commit to the way of life that she taught me, I could be up for another rediagnosis.

I'd settle for "Moderately Sane Woman".

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Frozen and Bored

I'm tired of the last post.
I keep thinking that any day now, I will have a thought.
But then, its just achingly cold. The days consist of small children piling in, consumed with cabin fever... and then we make a day of trying to survive. I try to be nice. They try to enlarge their space by bashing themselves and other objects into the walls. I've opened a new "ride at the fair". The ancient brown couch downstairs is now available for bouncing, jumping, somersaults, and general pounding into the ground. We are currently down one seat in the basement, as last week one of my old-enough-to-know-better daycare gems couldn't be bothered to walk upstairs to the toilet. Instead, she stetched out on the grey armchair and had a good, long, warm peeeeeeeeee.

Maybe she was just cold. And lazy.
The cold does that, you know.

I keep telling myself that I'm grateful to be working at home. That I could be standing at a bus stop somewhere, freezing my arse off. I could be in a frozen car, inching along a frozen road. But that would require a vehicle. Seems that ours has whined its way over to the car hospital repeatedly this month, fussing about this and that. I won't bother to go into the sad song about it being January and all, and how I hate to spend mastercard's money on fixing a vehicle. That all goes without saying.

Well, I'm feeling cold. And lazy. Maybe I'll just go stretch out somewhere and have a good long pee.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Writers Club

With the calendar indicating that my fortieth birthday was imminent, I wanted to do something stick-neck-out-ish to challenge myself not to get fat and complacent. So, I joined the Steinbach Arts Council writers club. I felt sort of shy about pretending to think of myself as a writer, and wondered if I'd feel stupid and naked there, much like I did in science, geography, and history (oh, and math...) throughout my school life. But the point was to challenge myself. Stick my neck out. Take some risks.

The first challenge was the Carillon News annual Christmas writing contest. I couldn't think of a thing to write. But I got very stern with myself and had myself a bit of a talking to.

"Self.

You MUST submit something. It does not have to be brilliant. It only has to be written, and submitted."

In the back of my mind, I knew that if I sent something in and didn't get so much as a nod, I would know for sure what a boneheadlosernogoodgoodfornothingwannabe I was. So, it was pretty easy to beat my own personal best. So far, my personal best had involved staying small so that there was no question about it- I could not succeed.

The other, much larger, much scarier, much more tear-inducing concern was that two Decembers ago, my brother Ken had won first place in that very same writing contest. He wrote an incredibly brilliant, layered piece that was so loaded in symbolism that much of it embarrassingly sailed right over my head.

I felt really intimidated to swim in the same pool as my really smart, really talented brother who I'd never see again on this side.

The day before the deadline, I still had no epiphany of brilliance.

So, I tricked myself. I logged into my blogspot, and just did what I do: Open the gates of neural pathology and semantics, and let my fingers do the talking.

I couldn't get the dang laptop to connect to the internet. But, determined to beat my pathetic personal best, I phoned the editer and asked for an extension until the following morning, so that my less electronically crippled husband could help me out with the internet issue.

A few days later, I received an e-mail from the fearless leader of the writers club, congratulating the media winners. I anxiously scanned the names in the e-mail and found that my name was not in the mix. Now I was really starting to feel like I was back in grade 11 geography. Plus, I was ashamed at my selfishness. Here I was part of a secret club- kind of like a writers cult or something, and I ought to be thrilled for all the cult members who had gotten their names in print. Instead I resented and envied them.

But then.
On the first Wednesday of the month of December, I got a phone call from my mother.

"Well.... You made it!" she chirped.
"Made it through what, mom?"
"You made it in the paper!"

Here's where it gets all layered and weird and holy and Anne-Lammott-ish.
All the layers started floating and intersecting and a whole bunch of them got bunched up in my tear ducts and clogged up my throat and my ability to breathe. I couldn't speak. I began to fear that my mother was victem to the dreaded dementia and she was hallucinating.

I made her read the name out loud. Tell me the page number. Tell me she was sure. And I wept. For my brother, for me, for life.

But what about writers club? Well, it turns out that they had done an internal review on each other's work and voted in the best pieces to be sent to the editer of the paper. I hadn't been able to make it to that month's session, and just assumed that I ought to send my work directly to the editer himself.

Which meant that I was the only member of the cult to get paid for the honour of seeing my name in print. I was like some kind of writer snob now, who could write off huge portions of her house, due to being a writer and all. I would have to claim the thirty-five big ones on my income tax receipt, look for tax cuts, try not to let it all go to my head- remember the small town from whence I came...

What I really learned was this: Time will continue to pass in 24 hour segments. You can live small, offend no one, not even dare to take any risks. Or you can celebrate. Embrace. Live out loud. You may or may not get your strokes, but at least you know you challenged your own status quo.
At least you get to know your own heart.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Christian Sales Pitches

I just read a "22 Minutes style" post about the super-spiritual-ness of Jesus paraphanalia. The watch that has a cross as an arm. The stuff out there that we can buy so that we apparently look more committed to our faith or something.

And it made me remember what's been on the back burner of my brain for many years, and especially over the past few days. Does anyone else think its weird or curious that of all the hundreds of laws and guidelines and suggestions that the old testament is stuffed full of, there remains one that apparently still applies just as perfectly today as it did in the days before Christ?

I'm referring to the concept known as titheing. Where the current day Jesus believer gives ten percent of his or her income to "God". Now, I've heard it say, that the Bible also teaches that this ten percent is to be given to your local church. (I guess that is where God is?) That if you choose to give money to soup kitchens, starving orphans, youth going on work trips, etc, that these funds should be above and beyond your ten percent tithe amount.

Now, this makes good business sense. It's also good common sense. The church is about the community and its needs. Its about love and giving a hand up to anyone who needs it. So, you need money for the church. The pastoring people need money. The hydro people need money. The youth people need money. The library needs money. Even the bathroom needs money. And its pretty handy to figure that the Bible says that all the people who come into the church and depend on it, should give ten percent of their income. That amount would likely cover the cost of tp and paying employees, and it goes without saying that we'd like to see those things happen. (nothing worse than the old drip-dry method....)

But it really gets my goat when all kinds of other stuff gets attached to giving money in church. I can't stand it when someone says; "God can't bless you if you don't give". I generally have to hold onto both sides of my seat so that I don't jump up and yell; "Oh, yeah? I'm pretty sure that God can do whatever He wants!" And to be honest, I'm not real thrilled to hear all about "what's in it for me". How, suddenly I'll have "the socks blessed off me". (if I didn't, and I was genuine about giving.... well then I'd give anyway. I wouldn't be giving to see what I'd get out of it).

I don't exactly think that none of it is true, so that's not why it bugs me so much.

I was talking to a friend about this, and I like the word picture he drew for me. It was about a hand clutched tight around a penny. Closed. How giving opens up movement in the universe. And when there is movement, there is usually enough. Or maybe it just takes your fearing mind off of hoarding for yourself.

Maybe we should sacrifice some goats or something.
Weird, when someone says that, isn't it? So how come the guys who followed Jesus around, plus Jesus himself, didn't teach on titheing? I know the short answer, and its that Jesus asked not for ten percent, but for everything. And that would be tougher to talk about as the offering basket is going around.

I'm not a bible hero by a long stretch. In my experience of life, I've had long periods of time where I have given that specific ten percent amount. I've not given. I've also given without keeping track. I've chosen to try and pay bills and groceries and not given much at all. I've given to causes, to churches, to schools, to people. And there is no remarkable difference in my wallet.

Because I happen to think that God is not nearly that fickle. And I think that if I were "accountant" enough to clearly give ten percent, then I'd probably be accountant enough to be really stellar at keeping up the books. If I was stellar at that, there would probably be "enough". Because I would probably be more intentional about how the money got spent.

Am I saying that God has nothing to do with money?

Nope.

I just think that a lot of us rich North Americans are always looking for linear constructs to attach to the spiritual. That there must be more to giving than getting. That maybe we need to concentrate on a bigger God. That maybe the world is now our neighbor, and there's a whole lotta lovin' that needs to be done.

Any thoughts? Or did I just marr a sacrificial lamb here?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Never Underestimate What a Preschooler Can Teach You

After observing her young charges busy themselves all morning with playing house, their daycare provider wondered if they now related to her own sense of exhaustion gained from running after their numerous needs for hours on end. Then, thanks to a brilliant child at the tender age of not-yet-two, She had an epiphany. With the use of an ordinary kitchen appliance, she too could learn to "put herself back in the equasion" as she had heard Oprah and her therapist insist on numerous times.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Who's In Your Audience?

*its been done before, but the audience has shifted somewhat. Allow me to introduce the new gang. Why? you ask? I find myself doing extensive mental reviews of my audience these days when I sit down to express my thoughts. It's somewhat debilitating, and needs to be defined so some meaning can be attached to it all. Then I can decide if shunnings need to occur.

God.
And I want to take that one seriously, and I already know I won't want an eviction for that box seat.

"Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously towards others, the way God lives toward you. Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it- quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out." (Matthew)

Family.
We share parents, history, current events, genetics. But that doesn't mean we share perceptions. That doesn't mean we live in the same reality. And when you come from family, there are certain things that constantly require redefinition.

Somehow I have to know how to express my reality without disrespecting others, or disregarding their need for privacy. I have to figure out where my role in the family is appropriate and acceptable to me, and alternately where I can hand myself a pink slip.

The legalist.
The legalist regularly hangs over my shoulder and notes my wrongful thinking. My sins. My soft spots, my vulnerabilities. Then the legalist tiptoes away softly and goes to someone else to review all the areas in which I am failing. What really bothers me is that this bothers me. I still want the legalist's approval.

The lurker/supporter.
Maybe at some point I said something useful. The lurker/supporter comes back hoping for more. Then it turns out that that was the bottom of the well. Turns out that instead of remaining silent and benign and leaving the possible illusion of brilliance, I've opened my big snout and removed all doubt of my ignorance and stupidity.

The reader/writer.
This is where I want to apologize endlessly. I keep writing, but I can't keep up with all the reading. So, even though there are many blogs out there that I love to read, I just can't do it all regularly any more.

The openly hateful.
Scarey. And the very fact that this audience wants me to shut down, live small, be quiet; brings out a more mature thing in me. I say No. But I'm really sad about it. The old me still wants to keep asking for permission to live out loud, to learn, to grow, to disagree. And so there is this constant struggle.

The big thinker.
Smart, you are. And responsible, integral, even intimidating. You think and live in ways that inspire me, sometimes frighten me. I don't want to bore you, annoy you, but I'm afraid it's just a matter of time.

Blasts from the Past.
Some of us were kids together, some of us were young adults together. For all I know, I dated some of you. Creepy. I'm sure there is bushels of stuff on this blog that's news to you. It's definately news to me that you would choose to come back. Yet, I'm glad you do. It's incredibly validating. It has meant reconciliation and new relationships, and new constructs in which to mentally file things from the past.

And then there are the seats who are occupied by goodness-knows-who-or-why.
Some of those spots have become clear to me since the last time I wrote about my audience. Some of them were just waiting for me to slip up. Some others graciously came out of lurking. I guess the fear is that I just don't know why the heck you are taking seats. I'm afraid of attack, I suppose. But I wish I had the backbone to not be afraid and not desire your approval.

So, those are the nails currently hanging around my coffin.
How about you? Who is in your audience?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Thanks, Bobita


The blooming yaya was one of the first blogs I ever discovered via internet snooping. Well, no. I discovered a lot of lame, shallow, spiteful, boring, filthy, no-good, yellow-bellied, sap-sucking blogs before I discovered Bobita's. But shortly after finding her funny, raw, honest writing, I developed a serious blog crush on this capable, intelligent gal.
*
Some day, I'm gonna meet you, girl.
*
One of my favourite trips ever was taking the coastal highway through Oregon. I imagine that the next time I do that (miracles still do occur), that I will be popping by with a bottle 'o bubbly to watch you dance to 80's music, and get my chance to smother your children in wet sloppy kisses.
*
I hope for their sakes that they are not in their thirties and forties by then.........

Monday, January 07, 2008

ahem

Allow me to be the first to confirm the fact that I am a moron.
Not only am I not an accountant, I am a moron.
Yes, it was ME who did make the banking error.
ME who on December the 24th deposited a cheque dated December 25.
Sorry dad. I'm a moron.

Now, maybe I'll cry all over again.

Come and Eat

Fifty gazillion thoughts.
About that many posts begun, or written, but only in my mind.

Thoughts on life, on death............. Christmas, family, domestic violence, generosity, consumerism, overeating, body image, perceptions, truth, religion, faith, God, Jesus, dogs, cats, health, intentional living, money, relationships, time management, significance, self concept..... And there's more.

Life is layered.

Some of the other layers involve... Taking note of relational growth thanks to past intentional choices...... While simultaneously being painfully aware of fractures in other relationships. And wanting more. Desiring authenticity. Truth. And that impossible dream of the 47 hour day. Time enough to write, to read, to bake pies, to visit people, to volunteer, to initiate support groups, to create, to learn, to change............

It was with these thoughts and more that I made my way across the cold and crunchy Mennonite church parking lot Sunday morning, anticipating the healing aura of my sanctuary- my church.

I felt painfully tired. HE and her had kept us up late the night before, laughing and eating some of the sweetest swedish nuts ever. By the time we left, it was already tomorrow and we still had the drive home to navigate. Couple that with the fact that it was raining in January, and the roads were incredibly hazardous. I was relieved to get home not dead. The sharp pains in my back and shoulder attested to the tension that went into keeping us on the road and out of the floodway, or belly upside down like a few cars we cautiously passed along the way.

So, with my eyes burning, my back hurting, my mind and body feeling full on empty calories; I found my way to my favorite spot near the front of church.

There in front of me lay the elements of communion.

All my age-old beliefs and feelings about the eucharist swelled over me and I questioned whether I was worthy to partake. What condemnation would I drink upon myself?

While I did a quick mental inventory, a churchguy began a pre-communion address. I was busy rubbing my eyes and sucking on my coffee mug, and wondering about taking the elements, when he said three words that caught my attention.

"Come and eat."

He was describing Jesus' invitation to eat at His table. To accept His approach to living. To believe that what he says about good, and God, and Jesus as God, and all my ugliness being covered by his sacrifice as true. Currently true. So true in fact, that my life would forever be shaped by the knowledge that this force of good is current and active and available.

Could have been the effexor, or the exhaustion, or the fifty gazillion things doing laps in my brain... but the relief and clarity flowed wet down my cheeks as I joined my church family in holy communion.

Life is confusing. There are many aspects of religion that I've grown weary of. But I never cease to be moved when I recognize the invitation to come and eat. That Jesus is current. That getting all the answers is not my salvation. That heaven is not some faraway hope to hold out for, but more than that, a reality to live out beginning right now.

So, once again, and likely another fifty gazillion times over again, this is my choice.
To come. To eat.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Like I said... an Amway representative can reduce me to sloppy tears these days....or a commercial for Leons or Burger King, or a hot cup or coffee, or a visit over to Soule Mama.

Actually, that brings up a host of even uglier emotions-- envy, for one. I covet her talent, her old home, her apparent 47 hour day, her slim hips, her delicious fabrics, her vision.

But because it is a new year, and I ought to be resolving to be positive or something, I'm going to embrace the wonderful goodness in my own reality. And I'll start by posting a few fabulous photos from New Years at Lake Caribou.






















Friday, January 04, 2008

This Post Brought to you by a Mood Disorder

I am hesitant to write this at all; it feels like backing against a target and waiting for the knives to fly. But that makes me think that by not talking, I give no other voice to mental illness and the reality of living in that place. All I can do with any authenticity is to record observations from my own bank of experience.

I wouldn't wish any health challenges on anyone. And maybe because I don't know better, I sometimes think it would be "easier" to have a more "normal" challenge. There is no diagnostic blood test. (except the ones to check how your liver is doing...) The mental illnesses department has no fancy scanner to confirm just exactly what name you can pin on your symptoms. There are treatments available, but its a series of trial and error, patience, and decisions. (do you need chemicals? herbal remedies? lifestyle changes? exorcisms?) Sometimes, you're a lifer. You take an SSRI once or three times a day for the rest of your life; you take your chances with side effects and liver damage, and you find your symptoms managed. But sometimes, you are not a lifer. You take your meds until some mysterious series of chemical reactions occur in your neurotransmitters, then you wean off your meds, and voila! case closed. But how do you know which category you fit into? Remember- there are no tests. So, if you want to find out whether you're a lifer or not, you pretty much take your chances with sanity while you clear the SSRIs out of your bloodstream.

And did I mention side effects? Well, coming off those little capsules can open a virtual floodgate of weirdness and owies. So, while your head hurts, you're feeling dizzy and nauseated, a Leon's ad makes you cry, and you can barely stay conscious past 6 pm.... That's the time of life that you should be evaluating how the whole "cutting back" thing is working out for ya. Actually, that may not be the time. What you should actually do is wait about three months until the discontinuation syndrome is completely resolved.

Then you should take the time to rationally decide whether you are still struggling with depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive thoughts, feelings of hopelessness, exhaustion. You should make a logical, rational decision.

Oh, and did I mention that the organ involved in that decision making process happens to be the same organ that's not quite functioning up to snuff?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

who knew banking could be this (un)comfortable?

I'm an artist; not an accountant. And although I was taught that speaking of money is as shameful as mentioning sex or menstruation, I've got to come clean on the fact that I'm not much good with balancing stuff that involves numbers. So when I went to the gas station the other day and my debit card wouldn't cooperate with their fancy uptown machine, I went to that "la-la-la" place in my head and assumed it was due to some mistake I had made online. It was during a busy time, we were on our way to celebrating Christmas with Brian's family, and the days following that adventure were similarly packed to capacity. So, it was only this morning that I had a few hours to check into the whole banking thing.

Well, actually, I was back to work today, so I got Brian to give the bank a call. Only to learn that their phone lines were jammed due to a storm in Fredrickton and the waiting time was 30 to 45 minutes. Ouch. Brian kept laying the receiver on the counter, baking a couple of layer cakes, then returning to check for a human voice. Unfortunately, the voice didn't wait for him, and eventally Brian returned to a dead phone line....

So, I waited until toddler rest time, and I got on the phone myself. By this point, I had made myself nauseous with ridiculous scenarios of how I'd likely missed so many payments that three men in business suits were very nearly at my back door with large scissors, wielding a copy of our mortgage agreement and slowly shaking their heads back and forth. I humbly waited on the line, praying that the representative wouldn't by this time be enraged by the whole snowstorm in Fredrickton deal. I hoped she had time for a smoke break, with a big old mug of hot coffee to boot.

And the columns were lining up for me. I got a cheery, helpful gal and I even remembered my security password without too many attempts or patient reminders from the representative. I explained to her that something had gone awry on the 28th, resulting in blocked access to my account. I stifled the urge to apologize and offer to bake her an apple pie for her trouble.

Being more an accountant than an artist, she quickly identified the problem. Two cheques that I had depositied had not been cleared due to an error that she could not immediately identify.

I felt immediately relieved, almost shamefully grateful that it had been someone else, and not I who had made an embarrassing clerical error.

But as the woman on the line read aloud the name on the cheque that was in question, my feelings of relief were quickly replaced by nausea that rivalled its counterpart. This time my stomach turned and my tears involuntarily joined the dance.

The cheques were from my dad. My dad, the meticulous bookkeeper. My dad the chequebook-balancer extraordinair. My smart, capable, scrupulous dad.

It is possible that I am over reacting. It is possible that dad had an "artist" day and just didn't quite get all the cheque details right.

But regardless of that possibility, I'm going to cry a little anyway. My dad is 86 and he's finally acting his age. It took him an awfully long time to get to that point, and not that long ago, it was him the "old people" phoned in the dead of the night for a ride to the emerg. But in 2007, dad lost his drivers licence. His ability to walk continues to decline. The stroke has affected his ability to make decisions and process information. Tests show that he has had several heart attacks, in addition to the infamous stroke. His arteries vital to his head and heart are significantly blocked.

And so, 2008 is adding up to be another year to process loss.
(and practice my accounting skills..... seeing as the black suited guys didn't snip my mortgage to smitherines.)