Sunday, September 26, 2010

good fences make...

...great opportunities for a garden!

Our next door neighbors asked us if we minded if they erected a fence between our driveways. With a small extension on their house that enclosed what used to be a patio, the area of their driveway between the house and detached garage has become their patio. Their family is there quite a bit, and shooting hoops with the grandchildren is a popular activity. They were after a little privacy, or so they say. My own hunch is that since they are out on their blacktop patio so much, they were tired of looking at what I refer to as our "white trash" look. I may allow clutter to accumulate in places within our house, but Ken's clutter decorates the out of doors. No, I won't be sharing any pictures--you can just take my word for it that it isn't pretty.

I don't protest the shabby-unchic outdoor decor because I know that a rebuttal protest about my clutter would follow quickly. I've made great strides reducing indoor clutter, not to mention preventing it from accumulating in the first place, though there are certainly days--and weeks--that get the better of me.

But back to the fence. We're grateful that it's an attractive section of fence, and since the look is rather bare, I immediately thought that softening it with greenery would be a way to look on the bright side of this new, aesthetic addition. I'm thinking of combining some small, evergreen shrubbery with a mix of perennials that provide color through the blooming season. Iris (we've got lots that need t o be divided and relocated)--the Tennessee state flower, for spring blooms; rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) for summer; and I'm not sure yet for fall. (Gardeners, feel free to offer suggestions!) When I mentioned this to Ken he said he wanted climbing roses. We'll see. The first order of business is to repair the weed-whacker, which has a tiller attachment, so that we can get the soil turned, loosened, and mixed with some decent topsoil and mulch. After that? With any luck, come spring I'll have photographic evidence of what a silver lining looks like.

full speedy-deedy ahead

Some days I feel as though I'm in a yellow submarine, weaving with and through the currents of life in an effort to get to the next destination: checking something of the perpetual list!

I've got a full week of events on the calendar: conference calls, PC training, giving blood, physical therapy, bible book study, assembling and wrapping gift baskets at the church for a fundraiser, pastoral calls. Those are the things already on the schedule, and of course, others will position themselves front and center for attention. By the time weekend hits I'll be in full throttle: Saturday we are blessing animals in honor of St. Francis, and then I'll peel off one set of togs and don another to head to the homecoming tailgate party at the local university. We'll be handing out sweet goodies like we did a couple of weeks ago. Next Sunday we will dedicate our new landscaping and garden (made lovelier yesterday at a work day!). The following Tuesday we hold Prayers of Pink, a service to remember and honor  those afflicted with breast cancer. These latter items all need additional attention paid to them: three distinct liturgies need to be put together, with bulletins created and printed, hospitality arranged for a reception, and participants recruited. I get weary just thinking about all that lies ahead in the next ten days!

Forgive me if I'm absent here and there. My days will likely be rushed, and even though I cherish my morning time with coffee and catching up with blogs and facebook, I suspect there will be casualties from the craziness. But keep a look-out. You might just catch a glimpse of a speeding yellow submarine passing by. If so, know that I'm waving madly to you from within.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

coffin compassion

A picture in yesterday's paper was part of an editorial about DADT. It showed the interior of an Air Force C-130 filled with flag-draped coffins. The caption read: "which one is the gay soldier?" The picture and caption were the editorial.

Seeing the picture-- while the surrounding text was a blur without my glasses-- reminded me of the controversy surrounding the ban of photographing and publishing soldiers' coffins during the Bush administration, and the lifting of that ban that took place shortly after Obama took office. Bush's rationale aside, I recall that an argument in favor of the ban was that photos taken of coffins was an invasion of privacy of the families of those fallen soldiers. I have a different take on this issue that I never saw reported (which doesn't mean it wasn't). The photo here speaks to it.

With all due respect to the families of soldiers killed in the service of their country, I don't see how the publishing of photographs showing coffins is an invasion of privacy. As the caption in yesterday's paper implies, the remains in any coffin viewed in such a setting are anonymous. We don't know who, specifically, is in those coffins. What we know is that a soldier lost his or her life, most likely in combat.

It is important to me to see these pictures for the following reasons. It affords me an opportunity to take a moment to pray for those who have died and for their families and loved ones. It brings home to me the sacrifices made by our soldiers and their families. As the (step) mother of a soldier who served six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, it reminds me to give thanks that his life was spared in the face of the dangers that were inherent in his missions.

I'd like to think that if I were standing on the tarmac at Dover AFB receiving the coffin that held my son I would not take offense at a photograph that included his coffin. I believe, instead, that I would feel pride that in this poignant moment of face-slapping reality, his life and his loss would be captured for all the world to see. It is images such as these that keep us from becoming complacent about the personal cost of war. If a photograph depicting my personal loss could serve as such a reminder, I believe I would be glad, and grateful for its existence.

This view has nothing to do with politics. It's not about whether or not we should be at war. It's about human hearts, loss and grief, and how we are all connected to one another. It's my point of view.

Friday, September 24, 2010

friday five: joyful noise

At RevGals Mary Beth writes: Music is a part of the human experience, and part of religious traditions the world over. It is evocative and stirring, and many forms of worship are incomplete without it.

Our title comes from a quote popularly attributed to St. Augustine: "He who sings prays twice." A little Googling, however, indicates that Augustine didn't say exactly that. In fact, what he said just doesn't fit well onto a t-shirt. So we'll stick with what we have.


"Singing reduces stress and increases healthy breathing and emotional expression. Singing taps into a deep, age-old power available to all of us. When we find our
voice, we find ourselves. Today, sing like you mean it." And let's talk about the role music plays in your life and worship.
 
1) Do you like to sing/listen to others sing? In worship, or on your own (or not at all?)
I love to sing. I sing along with songs, sing or hum to myself, in my head, while walking the dog (quietly, though). I have an adequate voice and can generally carry a tune. I also love singing in parts. I'm an alto, and I try to offer up that voice in church, where every voice is needed! Every now and then I join the choir for the prelude, just because.

2) Did you grow up with music in worship, or come to it later in life? Tell us about it, and how that has changed in your experience.I grew up in the unprogrammed tradition of Quakers, which translates as no music in worship. We had singalongs every now and then, and there were a handful of staples like Kum Ba ya, and We Shall Overcome. I got really tired of those. But we also sang rounds, which seems like a lost art. No one seems to sing rounds anymore. Sad face. Oddldy enough one of my favorite rounds is one I learned at a Quaker youth weekend. I learned it in the bathroom, since the acoustics were so good in there! Unfortunately no one seems to know this song at all, so I never get to sing it except alone. Can't find it on you tube. If I could figure out how to record it on the computer I'd give that a try!

One of the things I LOVE about being an episcopalian is the opportunity to sing. 

3) Some people find worship incomplete without music; others would just as soon not have it. Where do you fall?I grew up with silent worship, and thanks to that, I can endure silence for a very long time. I love hymns, too, and since church is the only place I really get to sing them, I prefer music in worship.

4) Do you prefer traditional music in worship, or contemporary? That can mean many different things!
I'm a traditional gal. Give me Bach any day.

5) What's your go-to music ... when you need solace or want to express joy? A video/recording will garner bonus points!
I like my music with a "C." Country, Classical and Celtic, and not necessarily in that order. I'm especially fond of baroque music and The Brandenburg Concertos, Alasdair Fraser and the Secret Garden, Ty Herndon and Sugarland (check out Jennifer Nettles' voice control at 2:40--love her voice, and I've gotten used to the twang), and almost anything by the late Dan  Fogelberg.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

calling dr. welby

Oh, for the good old days, when you could trust your doctor and feel some assurance that you were in the best possible hands for medical care. These days? Not so much! At least that is the case as I watch people around me receive questionable care.

Who am I to judge? I don't have a medical degree of any kind, but I do pay attention to the world around me. I try to be informed. I listen to the stories of the people in my life and in my care. I consult my father (a retired physician) when I need to, and my son-in-law, fairly fresh out of med school, too. I think I have some common sense, and I wasn't born yesterday.

Last week a parishioner was admitted to the hospital with a fever and a diagnosis of diverticulitis with a tiny perforation in her colon. Mega doses of antibiotics were given to her while the doctor "considered the options." "I don't practice aggressive medicine," he told her. "Let's wait and see what happens." Alarm bells are going off in my head. For one thing, my favorite aunt died from just such a situation, but I have done my best to keep that in perspective. Sunday, day six of "Jane's" hospital stay, I asked her if she was okay with the passive course of treatment. She said yes, she trusted her doctor. But dang it all, her temperature was back and she was still in pain. HELLO!! Anyone paying attention? We learned late yesterday that Tuesday she had surgery. A massive infection had set in in her colon and now in place of a colon she has a colostomy bag. I am beyond upset about this.


A week ago, following a diagnosis of cancer in the left kidney and bladder, "Ron" had a procedure that we understood was going to be to go after the cancer in the bladder. Turns out it was just a biopsy to see how far the cancer had spread in the bladder. Performed by his doctor. There has been no referral to an oncologist. The doctor doesn't think a pet-scan (feel free to correct the spelling, I've only heard the word, never seen it in print) is necessary. Hmm. Ron is 82 years old, and the course of treatment just might be impacted by knowing if there are cancer cells rummaging around elsewhere in his body.  Ken and I are ready to pull our hair out!

I have been very fortunate in my life to have been exposed to high standards of care when it comes to people and animals, so my own expectations for care are likewise high. What I am seeing lately does not come close to quality, and it certainly doesn't look anything like care. Sign me up to join more fervently in the health care debate.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

and the winner is...

Sandy, at The Table! Congratulations Sandy! I need to reorder the petite bamboo spoons, but once those have arrived and I have your address, they'll be on their way to you! Thanks, everybody, who played. It was fun to read about your cool weather favorites!

In the meantime I'm still waiting for the temperatures here to cool (95 yesterday, sheesh) before I really start rubbing my hands together and cackling with joy. But I'm dreaming of some some great fall dishes, soups and stews. Pampered Chef has a new soups and stews cookbook that I am eager to try, and I know there will be some new favorites there.

There's not much in the way of other news. Church is good, PC could be better (my own fault), Ken is still struggling with his arthritis, and McKinlee still has inconsistent bladder habits. Dang but she's a puzzle!

Bible book study this morning--we're trying something a little different that I hope will generate more interest than what we were doing. We're starting with Harold Gomes' The Good Book, a NYT bestseller. Who knows, tomorrow there may be a bbs report!

Hope all is well with y'all. Off to do my chores before heading to the church!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

time for a giveaway!

The everlasting heat and humidity of summer made me feel as though I was stuck in time. Imagine my surprise, then, when I went to edit yesterday's post and saw that it was post 1000!  Benchmark! Time for a giveaway.

Although it is still fairly warm here during the day--hitting 90 isn't a stretch on some days--the humidity makes less frequent appearances, there are some cool days, and the nights and early mornings are very pleasant. Ahhh... Prelude to fall.

Fall is a time of transition for many of us on many fronts, and can incorporate new beginnings. One such new beginning for me is the new line of Pampered Chef products, which, this season, includes lots of bamboo. My giveaway, therefore, will be a set of bamboo snack bowls with a pair of petite bamboo serving spoons. They're heavenly!

A transition for me at this time of year has to do with recipes. Fall introduces seasonal foods and ingredients, and we begin a return to foods that are heated in preparation. Noble Pig, a favorite food blog, recently posted a recipe for pork and mushroom stew served over apple-potato mash. That caught my attention! I'm not a huge mushroom fan, but the recipe in its totality sounds (and looks) amazing. I'm looking forward to trying it soon.

To be part of the giveaway I'd love for you to share what seasonal foods or recipes you look forward to preparing or eating. Is there a recipe you are eager to make now that cooler temps are making an appearance? How about a favorite pub for shepherd's pie? Let us know in the comments, and on Tuesday I'll draw the winner.

Enjoy your Sunday, and bon appetit!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

mama said there'd be days like this

I was at the grocery store yesterday, and stopped by the pharmacy to say hello to "my girls." I have gotten to know the head of the pharmacy and the woman who generally works with her, and if they aren't totally swamped (which is usually) we have a few minutes to talk. It's a bright spot in my shopping adventure.

The head pharmacist, whom I will call Sarah (haven't you always wondered what name you would give someone when you wanted to an identity?) has been telling me for months that she wants to have a PC show. She has told me to keep calling her about it because she is so busy that she just can't keep it at the top of her list. So I call her. Yesterday she told me that she had gotten my messages but hadn't been able to call me back because she'd been out of town. New York.

Oh! I say. Business or pleasure?

Business. Her husband's business. It turns out he was there to be honored for his role during 9/11 recovery efforts.

Wonderful, I say. She tells me more, and then says, "just don't ask him about the mosque." I am cringing inside. I say nothing. She goes on. A rant begins to form. The words "this is MY country!" issue forth. It's "their" country, too. "THEY didn't lose loved ones." Ah, but "they" did. I continue my silence. Build the mosque anywhere else but there. I continue my silence. And then.

"I can tell by your face. You think they should put the mosque there." I reply, honestly, "it doesn't matter to me where it's built, but I don't have a problem with it being there." She takes that in, but continues her rant. I really hate this. I don't remember what it was she said that made me, finally, open my mouth. I don't regret the first things I said, but then I offered, "Timothy McVeigh was a Christian." The rage that came across her face was unmistakable. She said nothing in response, and was perhaps glad that she was alerted to a customer at the end of the counter. She moved away.

The tech, who stood by throughout the whole thing, resumed a conversation that we had begun earlier. She didn't betray any discomfort, but it sure seemed like she was making an attempt to save me from self-recrimination. Thank you, God, for Jennifer.

I came home with a heavy heart. I should know better. It isn't that the things I said can't be said, but it was clear that this was a very sore subject with Sarah, whom I consider a friend. I thought about calling and leaving a message on her phone to apologize for upsetting her. I considered, in the end, to let it go, with the hope that we'll just move past it and carry on.

Locally, a group opposed to the construction of an Islamic cultural center has filed a lawsuit against the mayor, county commission and planning commission to stop construction. Apparently there's a temporary injunction in place. Sheesh.

How did we get here?

Friday, September 17, 2010

an inconvenient truth of a different kind


Sooooo, after a week of media nonsense covering the abhorrent and irrational Quran-burning stunt, the rubber hit the road here. I lamented previously that I wasn’t sure how to speak out on the issue about which I feel passionately. And then, DUH, I came to grips with the idea that it was time to do what I already knew I needed to do: speak.

With the media train wreck as backdrop and the political maneuvering as the painting on that canvas, I tackled something that had been bothering me throughout this episode. While I certainly agree that burning the Quran, or any holy book, is anathema and contrary to American values, the action by a Christian is more wretchedly contrary to Christian values. Why wasn’t anyone saying so? So I did.  Sunday morning in my sermon.

I noted that burning a holy book was unchristian. Why? Let’s start with the commandment of Christ to love our neighbor. That’s right, commandment. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor. There is no equivocating. Love. Neighbor. It may not be easy and it may not be comfortable, but it is that simple.

Let’s move on to something else Jesus said. Pray for your enemies. I’ll paraphrase for context. Pray for those whom we consider to be our enemies. I don’t think Muslims are our enemies, but there are people in my congregation who do.

I mentioned that if we have hate in our heart then we are failing God. The gospel was about the sheep that was lost and separated from the flock. I suggested that a heart full of hate was the heart that was lost to Christ and separated from God. Okay, I more than I suggested it, I said it outright.

I acknowledged that these words might be hard for some to hear, but I also stated that they needed to be said to be true to the savior we follow. I noted that Jesus didn’t preach repentance to those of other faiths, but to those of his own faith whose lives reflected hypocrisy rather than obedience.

I think I hit some nerves. It wasn’t my intention, but I did know that it was a risk. One couple walked out, though they did so discreetly.

Two members of my vestry showed up for last night’s meeting. Two out of seven. Of the remaining five, one had surgery that morning, so I didn’t expect him. One was going to be late, so she was accounted for. It turns out that one was tending his sister who had surgery that morning as well. Apparently the remaining two decided to boycott the meeting as a form of protest to my scriptural reference from Matthew (5:44) where Jesus tells us to love our enemies. So I’m told. Apparently they don’t have any intention of loving or praying for Muslims, and don’t cotton to the idea of being told to do so. Especially by a woman, I suspect.

Here’s the thing. I’m not having any trouble sleeping. It was a tough sermon to preach, but I have no regrets. If our church loses members because I spoke the truth, then that will be too bad. And sad. Sad, especially, because boycotting the vestry meeting didn’t hurt me, it hurt the people who elected these leaders to serve them.

Many members of the congregation told me they appreciated the sermon. More than a few thanked me for preaching it. I didn’t experience any hostility during the remainder of Sunday’s activities, so I don’t think this will amount to much. It feels more like an interesting footnote, though I am weighing my options on what, if anything, to do next. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

We do live in interesting times, no?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

checking in

These have been a busy few days. Last weekend a batch of us were part of the tailgate gang at our local university for their first home football game. We gave out baked goodies (brownies, peanut butter cookies, yum...). We were also treated to the lovely voice of country music artist Erika Jo, the 2005 winner of TV's Nashville Star. She's a local girl, and attended the university for a couple of years. She even came and crashed with us for a while after he singing stint was over. It was a hot day, but fun.

The launch of the church year always swallows me whole, especially if I am doing any teaching. Which, for the first six weeks, I am. One down, five to go.

I've got two folks in the hospital, one being moved to a nursing home, and others are struggling with chronic concerns. Still another starts each day wondering if it will be her last. Her body, betrayed by a rare auto-immune disease, struggles daily with threats to her heart, the roller-coaster response to steroid treatments for an ailment, diabetes, and financial distress. My prayers are bursting at the seams.

On the flip side, the women of the church had a ladies night out last night and we laughed ourselves silly. Fun times, this group. Fun, fun times.

I've got shows to schedule for Pampered Chef, prep for Sunday's sermon and education class, planning for our community breast cancer worship service in two and a half weeks, and a soprano to find for the latter. I'm playing hooky on Saturday and attending a college football party. Go Gators!

I love fall, but the pace is a killer.

Keeping things light, what fun stuff do you have planned in the coming days? Can I come? I need a little more fun in my life.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the color of my world


I love this zebra. I love it for its rendering and softness. I love it for its color. And I love that it makes me think about uniqueness and the surprise that all individuals hold for us if we only take the time to see them.

It is the latter for which I feel grateful this morning. Enormously grateful. I have my parents, particularly, to thank for the willingness and desire to look at life with eyes wide open. There are many others who, in supporting roles, reinforced the value that all people are to be seen and appreciated for who they are, and not who we might want them to be. We might think that who they are has to do with their gender, the color of their skin, the language they speak, the disability with which they live, and the peculiar snort in their laughter. I beg you not to stop there.

In the sad public display of so much disregard for others that seems to have become the norm in the world, I am reminded that even though I believe we are all capable of opening our hearts, too many don't even know that they have the ability to do so. Hence my deep gratitude for the lives that influenced mine.

When I stop to consider the opportunities I have every day to learn from the people who cross my path, I am astounded that so many others are denied that same blessing because they choose fear over transformation. What is particularly sad to me is that living with such fear is normal for so many.

As a result of contracting polio as a child, one of my father's legs is markedly shorter and smaller than the other. He walks with a pronounced limp, but I never saw his gait as a limp until I was a teenager. In my world living with a disability was normal.

Where I went to school a significant number of my classmates were absent for the holy days of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. In my world to be Jewish was normal.

I was born and grew up in New England. My grandmother's family was from the south. In my world to speak with an accent that differed from the community in which I lived was normal.

My parents had friends and colleagues whose nationalities and skin color didn't resemble those of our neighbors. In my world to refer to a person by their name and not a label was normal.

The year I was born my great aunt was ordained in the Presbyterian Church. In my world being a woman in a man's world was normal.

By the time I went to seminary I was an Episcopalian, my parents were Quaker, one brother was agnostic, one sister-in-law was Jewish, and my other brother and his wife were Buddist. You won't be surprised to hear me say that in my world, a family's diversity of faith is normal.

These experiences were part of shaping my norms, but the experiences of others help me to expand my notion of what is normal every day. Like my friends whose lives are colored by autism, or whose diets are restricted by celiac disease. There are others whose family has been devastated by suicide, or loss through violent death. Still others were shaped by the shadow of alcoholism or physical abuse. A high school classmate lost her sight when glass shattered into her eyes in a car accident. A college classmate died from a bee sting.

It gets harder and harder to define what is normal.

Monday, September 13, 2010

both/and


It was a tough and glorious day yesterday at church. Let me start with the glorious part.

We welcomed twenty people who have chosen to call our church "home" during the last year. That's 50 percent of our average attendance. To those who keep saying, "we need to get more people in church!" I hope the visual image of those 20 people standing in front of the church being welcomed and blessed conveyed the reality that people ARE finding their way to our door and deciding to stay. Thank you, God, for blessing all of us with the richness that is this growth.

Two recent family additions add five kids to our ranks. A first-time visitor yesterday, a denominational transplant from California, came with her two young children. Our Sunday school program now stands a chance of putting down roots and sending out shoots of growth. We had twenty adults in the adult education hour. Amen. Amen.

The weather yesterday was equally glorious, an outward and visible sign of the inward grace that danced and sang throughout our day. My soul feels as though it has been kissed with divine, abiding love. I pray that the elation can be sustained for just a little while to keep the weight of other challenges from making their odious presence known.

The tough part of the day was, in a sense, the dark side of its glory. Within two minutes of my arrival one of our members shared with me his diagnosis of cancer. While the potluck meal was being cleared away and the cheerful voices of the morning began to depart, a new member shared the pain of her life that, then and now, evokes tears. In the parking lot, waiting in the car for Ken to lock up the building, another member poured out his stress and the challenges that burden his health daily, including that his family is living on the edge of bankruptcy.

Every community is made up of people with stories that echo these. That the pain should emerge in the presence of yesterday's joy doesn't surprise me. It's just that it's been awhile in this place since either have been present with the kind of pulse that is now apparent. It's the vineyard of life, and ministry.

My prayer life has a more vital pulse, too--an indication of the kind of terrain through which I now move, and a measure of what is at stake for the people I serve, and for me. Lord, have mercy. Amen. Alleluia!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

tending the fire

In the dining hall of my alma mater a fireplace is tucked into the wall at one end. It goes mostly unused, but the lintel above the fireplace and the words inscribed on it are read every day. When I dined in that hall I not only read them every day but repeated the words to myself over and over again.

It was like dousing my head with buckets of warm water to recite those words. The rhythm of them washed over me and embraced me, inspiring me to be part of the energy at the heart of its message. The phrase? They gathered sticks and kindled a fire and left it burning.

These many years later I am turning the words over again in my head thanks to a letter that came from my college president yesterday. In that letter he talks about these words and how they reflect a core value of the students and alumni that claim Earlham College as their own.

What I didn't know until reading this letter is that the words themselves come from a captain's log book as he got ready to set sail the Quaker vessel Woodhouse to America in the late 1600's. He was remarking upon "the good purposes and passions" of those aboard heading to a new world. It is those purposes and passions that get kindled in a place like Earlham, and in communities everywhere, where the desire to address the needs of the world and the common good draw out the best of what people have within themselves.

As a certain book-burning event that has received too much notice and publicity in recent weeks draws near, I want to add sticks to a fire kindled of love and compassion. I want it to burn so brightly that any fire set of hate is obscured from view, or better yet, consumed in the flames of justice and mercy. My dilemma is how to do that. How do I, in my small world with a limited sphere of influence and a voice unheard by too many intolerant ears, make an impact? I want the light of my fire to blast through the bushel that obscures it, radiating so brilliantly that it attracts others who want to be a part of this kind of love and light.

I believe we have all been entrusted with the fire kindled by faith and left, also by faith, for others to find and stoke. It is my turn, along with those of this time and generation, to keep the fire burning and help it to blaze brightly.  I invite you to gather sticks and join me in this effort. Together we will keep this fire burning.

Monday, September 06, 2010

continuity

This morning I'm thinking about Cape Cod. I know a lot of people are reflecting on Labor Day, and in particular the lack of labor opportunities available to many in our poor economy. But I am thinking about The Cape, and the continuity it has provided in my life.

I think continuity is important--a place that, no matter what other things change in life: homes, schools, work, people--having at least a singular place that holds fast and sure in the midst of change offers us grounding. Continuity of place provides a link to our past, to our memories, and to our formation. It connects us to sights and smells, creaky doors and familiar paintings that hang on walls.

For the first eighteen years of my life The Cape was Hyannisport, where a cousin had a summer home and where we were invited to come for our vacations. It is where I learned to row a boat, and eventually, by paying attention, to sail. It was during those visits with Mer (as we called her--her initials were MER) that I learned from her how to do needlepoint. It was there that my grandmother taught me to use my right foot on both the accelerator and brake when driving, in the event that I ever drove a car with a standard transmission and needed my left foot for the clutch. It was there that we stood at the edge of the yard overlooking the harbor and watched Marine One fly into the Kennedy Compound when JFK was president.
a favorite picture, not sure why!
When Mer sold the house visits to the Cape shifted to camping expeditions, and then rentals in other locations. Where we lay our heads may have changed, but The Cape was familiar, and any place on it felt like home. Maybe it was the smell of the sea, the sound of wind through the scrub brush, or the prickly stems of beach plums. Maybe it was the architecture, or the constant presence of sand on our feet, or the names of the towns that reflected its lineage to Indian habitations that made it feel like one huge neighborhood. No matter. It is a place that holds a piece of my soul, and where a part of me was set free.

For many years Mom was at The Cape over Labor Day weekend, and when I lived close enough to visit her there I took advantage of that opportunity. Now I revel in memories and fondness, and give thanks that my life held the opportunity to know and enjoy that special place.

What about you. Is there a place of continuity in your life that brings peace to your heart?

Saturday, September 04, 2010

finding inspiration in the fashion world


I love Tim Gunn.
And I love his trademark phrase to designers on Project Runway, "Make it work!"
So I decided to appropriate Tim's challenging encouragement for my quest for directorship with Pampered Chef. Courtesy of my friend Roy's Photoshop expertise, Tim is holding the Director Express booklet that forms the basis of the seminar. I've added the slogan.
This mini-poster is printed out and hangs in the vicinity of my work area, a reminder that I have both a goal and the capacity to reach it.

Thanks, Tim. See you on the runway.

Friday, September 03, 2010

friday five: stormy weather

At RevGals Martha writes: I'm listening this morning for word of Hurricane Earl. Is he coming to visit, or will he bypass my part of Maine and move further Downeast, or veer toward Nova Scotia? Should I buy those bottles of water, just in case wind brings branches and power lines down? And how many times will the tracking map change today?

Herewith, a Friday Five about the storms of life:

1) What's the most common kind of storm in your neck of the woods?
That would be tornadoes! We haven't had any come close to us where we live, but two communities north and south of us haven't been so lucky. I just did a PC show for a friend who lost her house two years ago in one of those tornadoes. She's now back in her band new house!

2) When was the last time you dealt with a significant power outage?
The most significant power outage on record in my life goes back to when I was in high school, and living in Connecticut. It was mid-December, and we had one helluva snow and ice storm that took out power in vast areas. Weather conditions hampered recovery efforts, so we were without power for several days, and out of school for a week.  We bundled up, cooked with gas, and made an adventure out of it.

3) Are you prepared for the next one?
Are we ever prepared? We lived through the downpours that became the Great Flood of 2010 here in Nashville, but we did not suffer personally. My husband is retired military and knows a great deal about survival, so I feel in good hands in that department.

4) What's the weather forecast where you are this weekend?
We appear to be in for a treat with nice days and cool nights this weekend. Glory Hallelujah! Not sure how we'll celebrate, but we'll think of something!

5) How do you calm your personal storms?
Prayer, kleenex, journaling, candles, walking the dogs. And talking to my mother.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

going for it

I have been very fortunate this week to be able to participate in some excellent Pampered Chef training. One of those sessions was an all day seminar called "Director Express," jam-packed coaching on how to intensify efforts to promote to the director level in 90 days. The seminar was full of information, how-tos, and motivational encouragement (as opposed to motivational platitudes).

Several days prior to attending the seminar I was reading a book recommended to me by my PC director, Stephanie. It's called The Aladdin Factor, by Jack Canfield of various forms of soup-for-the-soul fame. It's about asking for what you want, and is full of testimonials from people whose life-changing experiences support the notion that asking for what you want can lead to getting what you want out of life. Sounds all very self-help, I know, but I found myself highly motivated by what I was reading, and inspired to make some decisions.

One of the things Stephanie emphasizes in our training is that visualizing our goals helps to achieve them. Until a few days ago I had no specific goal to which I could attach an image. Yes, I want to make more money to ease our financial burdens, but paying bills is an existing reality. Being debt free? What, exactly does that look like, other than a more peaceful expression on my face? And yes, I want to improve some habits that get in my way in virtually every corner of my life. Conjuring an image for that also falls into the category of vagueness.

At our team meeting a month ago Stephanie told us that it is likely that she will promote in the coming year to the highest level in the company: National Executive Director. At the recent PC National Conference when the newest national directors received recognition, their team of directors joined them on-stage, a sign and symbol that it is team work that makes such achievements possible. When Stephanie talked about her own promotion to the highest level, I knew that I wanted to be one of the people standing on stage with her. I want to be there not for my own recognition, but as a way of saying thank you to her for the many ways that she has helped me grow and learn, not only as a consultant, but as a person. Finally, something to visualize to help reach for a goal.

I had not, previously, made a determination to work toward becoming a director. I knew that my own flaws and bad habits would interfere with working toward that type of achievement. But in the last year+ as I have struggled to maintain equilibrium in the face of daunting challenges, disappointments and hardships, the evidence began to emerge that I had the capacity to move past being stuck, and into a new way of life that I believed to be out of my grasp. This is due in no small part to Pampered Chef, and the team of people with whom I work in that arena.

In light of all of the above, I have made the decision to go for it, to promote to director. I have seen improvements in habits that make it possible for me to believe that I can do this, a quantum leap from the belief that it just wouldn't happen. I am dedicating myself to the discipline necessary to make some adjustments to personal routines (and we're not just talking breakfast here!), and to keep the prize in front of me. It's good for me.

Toward that end I am asking for your help. If you're the praying sort, would you please hold me in your prayers during these next few months as I work toward making these changes in my life? A prayer as you read this is, of course, appreciated. But if you would, I'm asking for regular prayer through this transition, which I believe will be the most challenging for me. Whether daily or weekly, the support of those who care about me is coveted.

I will keep you posted. I will try not to bore you with the shop talk of the process involved in this, but sharing achievements and accomplishments feels like fair blogging fare. And if you know of someone who would benefit from the kinds of blessings that this is in my life, please let me know so that I can share this opportunity with them. Ultimately that is the greatest gift we have to offer.

Blessings to each of you. Thank you for being along with me on this journey.
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