Wednesday, May 14, 2014

In A Life To Come


Here it is May. The hummingbirds have returned to the mountains of Colorado, my tulips came up, and the aspen trees are getting buds. Ah, spring.

Well, at 8000 feet, the season is a bit misleading, if not completely MIA. The hummingbird feeders are frozen solid in the morning, and there’s still potential to use our sleds. But nonetheless, as Alexander Pope sagely said, “hope springs eternal”. Summer will arrive. Soon I’ll dust off my bike and kayak. It all happens, completely non-contingent upon my will or desire.

This May is riddled with all kinds of changes for me that make the presence of icicles almost a non-concern. My daughter—my baby—graduates from high school this coming weekend. When and how in the world did this happen? I still picture her toddling around, trying to wear her Mr. Potato Head glasses.

Last night, her father and I went to her final choir concert. Singing is her passion, and choir has been her joy for four years. It was a bitter-sweet event. As is the tradition in our small high school, seniors can elect to perform a solo. For several weeks now, we’ve listened to her practice a song and play her guitar in preparation for her performance. She sang beautifully last night, without a hitch, and to the hoots and hollers of her classmates. In August, she’ll leave for college. In Indiana. Why so far away?

Not only is my baby bird flying away soon, but my son—the one who has been living at home for the last year during his cancer treatments—has received the green light to get on with his life too. At 23, he is more than ready for his independence. With the effects of chemo fading into a not-so-pleasant but distant memory, he’s looking forward, too. He recently asked his girlfriend to marry him (she said yes!) and they’re making plans to move to Florida where he’ll start grad school. And this all happens in two, short weeks—just another change to chalk up to May. 

He’s even going to take his gargantuan puppy with him. At a very hairy and shedding 80 pounds (the puppy, not my son), this may be the one change I’m not dreading. But the house will be very quiet soon, and the rooms very empty.



No matter how I drag my feet, life goes on. Seasons change. The landscape morphs. Trees will be in full leaf soon. The earth keeps rotating. I will turn 50 and enter the fall season of my life, just about the same time the aspen trees light up the mountains in a golden blaze.

Change is inevitable.

Besides sometimes jarring our status quo, here’s what else I’m learning about change: It may not always be easy or desired, but it happens despite our dragging feet. And it’s good. So even though I’ll be saying goodbye to an awful lot—my kids and my forties—I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon for a new season in life.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man






Monday, May 5, 2014

And We Connect

Lately I’ve been in a funk with my writing. It can feel like such a lonely business sometimes. You send things out; sometimes you hear back with a rejection, most times you hear nothing, and only rarely do you get the coveted acceptance. Even writing a blog post feels like an echo at times.

Most of the time, I don’t think or worry about it. I just write because I have something to say or a topic interests me-- and I happen to find it fun to manipulate words. But the other day, I received an email response to a post I wrote here about a woman who was born in 1774. The post was about Jane Lea Nixon, who had the unique distinction of being the first white woman born in the Chartiers Valley in Pittsburgh. If you read the post, you’ll note that very little is known about this woman outside her claim to being born white and a female at this point in history (and you might find a picture of an apparition I captured on film, but I make no official claim of this...)

Old St. Luke's-- the church associated with
Jane Lean Nixon.
A gentleman I’ve never met wrote to thank me for this short piece about this relatively unknown woman. She, along with the very old stone church she is associated with, captured my imagination, but for this man, there is a deeper significance. He is a direct descendant of Jane Lea Nixon. Her story was part of his childhood folklore as family members passed on her legend and significance to his family. He told me he can trace the story back to his great, great grandmother, but then there is a gap between her and Miss Jane Lea.

He even went on to mention a minister in an Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh we both know. He now resides in Arizona, and I in Colorado, but online, through a blog post and a church in Pennsylvania, our lives intersected. I was so touched that he contacted me and that something I wrote had special meaning for him.

My friends Jess and Sally write a blog (check it out here) about their travels around the world. Sometimes they share spectacular photos from the top of mountain peaks or from deep forests or sometimes the sweet faces of people around the world. Other times they share haunting stories of poverty, oppression, and abuse. Each installment of their blog invites me to share in the journey, not only visually and cerebrally, but more importantly, in my heart. From across the world, they reach out and share their story so that I can be a part of it. And we connect. Isn't that amazing?

Sorry Sally and Jess-- yes, I shamelessly lifted
this cute picture from your blog. 
Other blog friends share their writing, photos, spiritual journeys, and humor with readers.  The internet really is like a web--a very apt description--connecting us. 

Then I remember why I write. Truly, it’s not as isolated an activity as I'm sometimes tempted to feel like it is. And for this reminder—for the comments I receive here, for the emails I get, for the intersection of lives—I am incredibly grateful. Thanks for being a part of that connection. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On The Way To Easter

My Lent journey took detours I didn't anticipate. I think, however, this isn't a bad lesson to learn about life. Often, our best-laid plans are derailed by a grander design. It's hard to know the purpose and direction in life, and really, isn't that the very essence of faith? 

As Easter approaches, I look forward to travelling to be with my sister and her family. We will attend church services and celebrate Easter, steeped in mystery, celebration, and revelation of Christ's resurrection. It's not a mystery I can even pretend to understand or solve, but it is deeply ingrained in who I am, doubts, questions, mythos and all. 

My visit with my mom went very well and was such a refreshing time for me. She spoils me, and we both enjoyed long, quiet afternoons together. I felt a deeper connection with her and for that, I'm very grateful. 

I also feel new doors and paths opening, some of which frighten me with their capacity for change. But again, I think this is the message of Easter too. Rebirth is never an easy process. But it is one that can bring great peace, love, joy, and purpose. And sometimes it means taking a step into the unknown. 

However you celebrate your Easter, Passover, or the ending of your Spring Renewal journey, I hope it has born in you new doorways of thoughts and a deeper spiritual connection. 

May the Lord bless you and keep you;
the lord make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord lift up his countenance on you
And give you peace. 
 
Numbers 6:25


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Don't Worry 'Bout It


And so we begin week five of Lent. Our minister in church this past Sunday related the old testament story of Ezekiel and the valley of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14, if you want to read this interesting story). He also read the passage from John 11, in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. He invited us to read these fantastic stories as-is, if we desire. But he encouraged us to not get lost in the plausibility, but look for the deeper meaning-- the one in which God makes us new, breathing his very life into us.

I'm taking a little impromptu trip to visit my mom this week in Pittsburgh. I spoke with her several weeks ago; she was feeling blue. She hasn't been feeling well and a good friend of hers, a 91-year-old man, has been diagnosed with cancer. At 91, there's really no viable treatment for him. She turns 81 on Friday, and it seemed to me a little birthday cheer was in order, so I called her and said I was flying out for her birthday. Her happy response was all I needed to hear to make the last-minute plans and arrangements worth the effort. 

At 81 every pain and illness brings questions of mortality to her mind. I try to imagine her mindset, what it's like to know that life ahead of her is limited. Of course, the truth is, it's limited for all of us and none of us knows how much longer we have. Last week, a missing student from the college where my husband works was found, passed away, in his car. He was just in his early 20s. 

I don't mean to be a downer here. In fact, hang with me, I'm bringing this to a broader point. 

The Buddhists place a lot of emphasis on living in the awareness of the moment, to cease the stories we create about our experiences and just be in the moment; be aware. Too often our minds race ahead to what is going to (or might) happen next or create content about what is happening now. The stories, rather than the fact of the moment, becomes our truth. It deprives us of peace. Jesus tells us not to worry about what we're going to eat or drink or our clothing or what will happen tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough of its own worries. In other words, find peace and joy in this very moment. Let tomorrow take care of itself, and Lord willing, it will. 

This was the very message I needed to hear this week. In the midst of self-esteem issues beating me up, the plans of traveling to Pittsburgh, my mom's health, my daughter's upcoming graduation, my son moving on in his life, all I really need to do is let God breathe life in me. Today. This moment.




Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Beauty Of Mystery


I think it is in our human mind to want to create order, meaning, and definition. We are uncomfortable with feelings like doubt. We struggle with ambiguity and mystery. All too often, we want to rush in and give God a box so we can settle back in and feel comfortable again. We want to say, ahh, there is the path, when it's not yet clear, because to know is so much easier than to not know.

When you are going through chaos in life, when the emotions are rocky or the situation is difficult, people are quick to want to give you a handle, some kind of meaning or definition. Maybe it's one that has worked for them, and for that, we are grateful. But I love when I read something that confirms to me that this unknown, this mystery, can be a beautiful place too. This morning, during my quiet time, I read a passage by Thomas Merton (from A Year With Thomas Merton):

Light rain all night. The need to keep working at meditation-- going to the root. Mere passivity won't do at this point. But activism won't do either. A time of wordless deepening, to grasp the inner reality of my nothingness in Him Who Is. Talking about it in these terms seems absurd. Seems to have nothing to do with concrete reality that is to be grasped. My prayer is peace and struggle in silence, to be aware and true, beyond myself, and to go outside the door of myself, not because I will it, but because I am called and must respond. 

So rather than feel I must fix this awkward place I am in, or align the emotions so I can feel safe in my spirituality, I am still content to breathe and listen this week, letting go of my will of what I think I should be.

Maybe more than any other focus I have examined for Lent, this one feels the most important.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sometimes You Just Need To Breathe

I had all kinds of ideas for a theme this week, but I’m going to be honest, none of them felt authentic. Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, or whatever your sipping preference is, and let’s have an honest chat. 

Here’s where I’m at with this whole Lent 40-day observance project:

When I started out, I anticipated a deep, spiritual experience. I was ready to look at themes and think about how God was directing me through each of them. But as it often goes, once the marriage is in place, the passion wanes. 

The funny thing about passion is how rooted it is in feelings. As long as those butterfly feelings, or in the case of a spiritual journey, that deep sense of communion and connection, we feel on track, centered, where we “should” be. Unfortunately, at least for me, feelings are flighty and deceptive. And right now, I don’t feel very spiritual.

During this Lent experience I have felt more off-track and off-balance than I have in a long time. I’m skipping out on my quiet times. I am being hammered with temptations and side-tracked with rampant emotions. I feel angry and hurt by some stuff life has thrown at me (I know, waa, waa, waa—but if I’m being honest, it is where I’m at).  My creativity is in the pits of black sludge screaming for motivation. I feel like the more I strive to be elevated, the more I’m stuck with my soul’s feet firmly planted in plain ol’ terra firma muck.  

Last night we had really weird weather, even for the Rocky Mountains. The wind was howling and thrashing the house. But instead of the night sky getting darker, it glowed with an eerie red color. Folks from around here claimed the ferocious westerly wind blew the red soil from Utah our way (sure, blame Utah). Whatever the reason, local friends on Facebook swore it was the Apocalypse. The wind ripped through our little valley well into the night. It wasn't pleasant.

But this morning, all was calm and bright again. The sky was a dazzling blue with puffy clouds. The sun warmed the earth, melting the blown snow and ice. Maybe last night's moody storm still haunted me, but all I wanted to do was stay holed up inside. But the sun insisted on shining, taunting me out of my lazy stupor. I put on my jogging shoes, snapped the leash on my son’s dog, and headed out for a jog. Jogging is never easy, I rarely want to go—OK, really, I never want to go—but I know once I'm out and, more specifically, once I am done, I'll be glad I made the effort. Sure enough, as my feet found their pace something wonderful began to happen. The tightness in my shoulders relaxed, the sun warmed my face and body. I finally looked up from my own feet to gaze at the snow-covered peaks, listened to the creek gurgling in its thaw, and felt my heart rate find its rhythm.  

And isn’t that a bit like the spiritual journey?

I think this week I will dispense with the themes and striving. I need to quit trying to be creative or spiritual or loving or... whatever. A friend had this little saying on his Facebook page today:

You don’t need to have a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, let go, and trust the Lord and watch what happens.

Ah, yes. This week? I’m breathing and watching.





Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friendship Meditation

Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.
- Romans 12:10

Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.
- Proverbs 27:17

Friendship is the only cure for hatred, the only guarantee of peace.
--Buddha



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Relationships: Putting it In Action

When we honestly ask which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. 
--Henri Nouwen



Last year, as our family faced a health crisis, I learned a lot about friendship. Some people avoided us, probably out of a sense of discomfort or not being sure what to say. No blaming-- it is difficult when, really, nothing said or done will make it all better. But other friends really rose to the occasion. Although many people attended to me, my friend Debbie stands out as a shining example of friendship in action. She sent gourmet food gifts to my son, and as any mom will tell you, "love my kids, love me". But she didn't stop there. She made sure I received cards and little gifts, just to let me know she was loving on and thinking of me.

When our drama and trauma was all over and we made it to the other side (with a happy ending), she even let me descend on her and her sweet family for a week of Florida sunshine and a healthy dose of restorative friendship. Poor lady. I think I talked her ear off about all kinds of stuff I had stored up inside me. And never once did she sigh and say, "Yeah, I think you told me all this before" (she had every right to, trust me).

As I contemplate the past year and think about the loving examples of friendship I've had in my life, I realize that friendship is seen and felt through love's actions. So what can we do to act in friendship? Over the years I've collected a few ideas, some I have learned through the grace of friends, others I have discovered, through the grace of God:

1. Notes:  This week I received a lovely bracelet made in Africa and a note from a friend who had just been there on a mission trip with her church (waves at Corinne). The bracelet is lovely, but the sweet note, her words of friendship, love, and encouragement brought me to tears-- no easy feat for me. There's something about handwriting and the time it takes, that speaks volumes to the heart.

2. Listening: Easier than it sounds. The tough part, I've learned, is listening without feeling like I have to fine-tune or correct or offer a solution.  I want to fix it for my friends, but that's rarely possible. Listening, sympathizing, and agreeing is usually all that's required or desired.

3. Small gifts: What is it about a gift card to a coffee shop or a pretty bookmark that perks a person up? It doesn't have to be anything expensive; it can be homemade, but a little present can really make a friend feel special.

4. Coffee or lunch: I have a friend who meets me for coffee every couple of weeks. We chat and sip talking about our kids, animals, aging, finances, and whatever else comes up. It's a lovely time together. I always leave feeling refreshed.

5. Walking: Another friend and I go for weekly walks, through ice, snow, and sunshine we get out and walk for an hour or so. Not only are we getting a little exercise, but we spend the entire time talking about all kinds of topics-- parents, marriage, faith, church, our town, trends-- whatever we want, really. I look forward to my weekly date with this sweet lady.

6. Do the unexpected. Once, a friend of mine was in a dispute with her sister. It turned nasty. All the handmade ceramic gifts that she had once given her sister were left, smashed, one-by-one, on her front stoop in brown paper bags. My friend was crushed. One morning, I got up early, bought her a pretty flowering plant, and put it in a brown bag in front of her door with a note: See, not all things left at your door are bad. She told me that when she first opened the door and saw the bag, her heart sank. But as she dared to open it, her hope was restored. It warmed my heart to know it made her smile.

7. Be there. Another time, a friend of mine called one late night and told me she was suicidal, and if she decided to take her own life, I was not to feel guilty. We hung up the phone, and I stared at it for a few minutes. Then I told my husband I was heading out for the night. I grabbed my sleeping bag and a toothbrush and drove to her house. When she answered the door, I sent her to bed to rest. "Go to bed. I'm cleaning your house and sleeping on the couch." I'm glad to say that over twenty years later, she is a lovely, active person enjoying life. At least for that night, she was under my watch and much too polite to follow through on her threat while I was there.

I think the common thread for all these ideas is time. When we invest time in our friendships-- whether through a phone call, visit, or jotting a note, we invest in the other person. There are so many things demanding our time, but few will reap the joy and satisfaction of a friendship.

What else would you add to the list to add action to friendship? Do you have any stories of acts you have done or others have done for you to encourage us and offer ideas? Let's go in blessings this week and be a friend. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In The Name Of Friendships: Lent Week Three

Beloved, let us love one another.
-- Jesus

Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.
-- Mother Teresa




This week for Lent, I am focusing on relationships-- friendships, acquaintances, people we pass on the street, those we write comments to on Facebook. Sometimes I'm so dismayed by the things I read on social media or the gossip exchanged over a cup of coffee. We can be awfully hard on each other. In the name of our beliefs and views and our "right" to air them-- liberal or conservative-- we can be unkind and insensitive. 

I admit I've not always had an easy time forming healthy friendships. I didn't use to be like this. When I was younger, I felt much more open and less guarded. Over the years, I've allowed a few life experiences to make me gun-shy and wary. Being a "pastor's wife" came with a fish bowl type lifestyle, replete with expectations. I think I've become a little more insecure, afraid that who I am isn't good enough. And I think, in part, I've not always done a good job choosing friends. There are probably a variety of reasons, but whatever the cause, the end result is somehow my skin was worn thin and I sometimes feel like I'm permanently flinching around people. 

But it's time to change. 

And this is the focus for my prayers and meditation this week: to be a better friend. Being guarded is a form of selfishness, keeping me from thinking beyond my own interests and concerns. It's time to quit chasing after relationships who don't want me as I am, or who don't have time for me. It's time to spend more time listening without judgment, laughing without inhibition, and loving, just because it feels good to love freely. 

I am thankful for the lifelong friendships I do have-- the ones who haven't given up on me (waves at college pals). I am thankful for the coffee dates where nothing is required of me but to show up, chat, and enjoy. I am thankful for Facebook, which has allowed me to reconnect with wonderful people from my past, and meet amazing new friends. And I'm thankful for the friendships that have yet to blossom and help me age with humor, grace, and empathy. 

How about you? Are you where you want to be with your friendships and relationships? Do you reach out readily or are you like me, more guarded and introverted? How could your relationships be a meditation for Lent this week?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Creativity Ritual

Being creative isn't always easy for me. In theory, I love the idea of connecting to God through art. My heart and mind grasp that when we create, we are imitating God, the artist. 

It is our unique gift as humans to see visions of beauty and inspiration and give them form. (Tweet this)

In practice, however, I often feel limited by the process. Writing, most often, is my chosen form of expression. I love to write... most of the time. But sometimes bringing the ideas in my head to fruition and giving them palatable words and form feels anything but spiritual. I lumber through the process, frustrated by my own lack of ability. The peaceful, spiritual image I have in my head flies right out the window (along with pages of deleted words). 

This week for Lent, however, I was determined to focus on, nurture, and find my creative joy. It occurred to me that just as church is a ceremony to prepare us for worship, I could implement a ritual to open my heart, elevate my spirit, and be more receptive.

1. Lighting a candle. I found a candle with a lovely, soft scent, placed it on my desk, and lit it. As I did so, I said a prayer asking God to light my heart and help me be a soft and gentle light. 

2. Read. I took a few minutes to read a text that challenged and elevated my mind. Currently, I'm working through a book called In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction, a collection of very well-written and thoughtful essays. Reading others' creative pieces helped set my mind and heart towards my own writing. I could have read poetry or scripture, looked at art on the internet, or watched an inspiring video or TED talk-- anything to feed my heart and inspire me. 

3.  Music. I need relative quiet when I write. Even music with lyrics can disrupt me. I found a station on Pandora that is strictly instrumental. It plays a lovely mix I find soothing and uplifting. 

4. Tea. I don't think there's anything mystical in a hot cup of tea, but the scent, warming liquid, and earthy flavor helped me feel pampered.  

4. Turn off the Internet. While I think social media serves a good purpose, I also believe it is the antithesis of creativity. (Tweet this) It is, at least for me, numbing and distracting. I downloaded an alarm clock app and set it. I'll be honest, I felt a bit "twitchy" wanting to check my mail or Facebook (now isn't that telling), but the lack of distraction was wonderful and reminded me that this time was special and sacred. 

4. Create. I wrote, not euphorically or without wrestling with my words, but I allowed myself to write, even poorly. Towards the end of my time, one piece I worked on took me to the lake near our house during summer, kayaking on the glass-like surface. My heart soared with the words. I was in the heart of creating, reliving nature, and lost in sharing an experience that brought me peace. 


Have you ever tried to make your creation process more an act of worship? What ideas do you have to set the stage and mood for a receptive heart?



And now, the winner!

I admit, when I first thought of giving away crayons and a coloring book, I wondered if it would seem childish. It was an idea born from my own love of coloring. I find it so peaceful! But it was fun to see the eager responses. I'm enjoying giving away a few gifts! The winner of the coloring book and crayons, as selected by the random list generator at Random.org is:



Julia Munroe Martin

Yay! Julia, get in touch with me and give me your mailing address-- I'm so excited you won!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Get Your Creativity On

photo from photobucket.com
Painting, drawing, coloring, scrapbooking, collages, photography, nature walks, writing, poetry, singing, music... what do these all have in common? Read on to find out, and at the end, get ready for another give-away.

There is perhaps no greater advocate for the act of spiritual creation than Julia Cameron. She has developed courses and written books teaching her belief that art and our spiritual connection to The Creator are closely linked. She writes in The Artist's Way, "When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator's creativity within us and our lives."

When we acknowledge and explore our own creativity, could it be we are conduits of God's own delight as the master artist? But I can't draw. I can't write. I can't play an instrument. We have an excuse list a mile long why we are not very creative. I know. I've used most of them.

I come from a very artistic family. My mother was an amazing artist with oils. Her paintings are abstract expressions with shapes, textures, and colors. My sister is also a gifted artist, quilter, and shares her love of creation with a school full of elementary children. My engineering dad and brother, although not artists in the fine arts sense, could always duplicate and build with their hands. Honestly, I always felt like the creative ugly duckling. My talents were not obvious. I loved to play our old upright piano and sing, but lacked the discipline and talent to hone my skills. I can't draw worth spit. I always like to write, but never saw that as a creative expression, unless I wrote poetry (really bad poetry, I might add).

But now I  believe all of us-- even me-- are endowed with innate creative urges, no matter the form it takes. For some, walking in nature and savoring creation is a way to nurture their creative soul. For others, it is painting, singing, photography, sketching, interior design, and yes, writing. The list goes on. One has only to walk in nature, through a museum, among ornate architecture or cliff dwellings of ancient peoples to know that we are born creative beings, longing to express what we see and feel.

I strongly believe that when we create, 
we may be at our closest to communing with God. (Tweet this) 

Christine Valters Paintner, author of The Artist's Rule: A Twelve Week Journey says, "When you bring awareness to your work as an artist or writer, your pen and brush become vessels of awareness of God at work."

I like to think I am communing closely with God and in his delight when I create.This week for Lent, I will try to incorporate a little creative play into each day, no matter how simple, and I will try to let it be a form of meditation and celebration.

And The Give Away!

To help you get into your creative groove, I would like to send a design coloring book and box of crayons to one commenter of this post, by Thursday, March 20th. I will announce the winner and get mailing information on Friday, the 21st. (Sorry, because of postage expenses with this, I'm going to confine the give away to within the continental U.S.) When was the last time you colored an intricate pattern and smelled a box of fresh crayons? Let your child artist out!

We are made in infinite creativity. 
 Is it any wonder we find joy when we let our inner artist out to play? (Tweet this)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Meditation On Love

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
-- Jesus

To love another person is to see the face of God. 
-- Victor Hugo




Romans 13:8  ... love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law



Friday, March 14, 2014

For the Love of...

Fish!

I'm familiar with the tradition in the Catholic church of eating fish on Friday, especially during Lent. I cruised through the Internet trying to find an explanation of this observance and was puzzled to find varied explanations, none of them very clear. As best as I can tell, from several Catholic websites, it started as a tradition to abstain from meat on Fridays, as a way of observing penance. I'm not a big meat eater, so not sure how much of a sacrifice this would be for me.

Several sites discussed whether eating fish was really abstaining from eating meat and whether the original intent was to focus on grains and veggies. Still others talked about the significance of fish in the Christian history: Jesus dividing the fish and loaves, the disciples being fishers of men, the early practice of drawing a fish shape in the ground (an Ichthys) to indicate one's Christianity when it was dangerous to do so verbally.

No matter. I like fish. I'm happy to embrace this tradition. So in honor of Fridays in Lent, I will offer fishy recipes for your dining pleasure. Today's recipe comes from SparkPeople and is so ridiculously easy, I'm going to make it tonight:

image from photobucket.com
World's Easiest Salmon Recipe

1/4 cup real maple syrup (not pancake syrup) or honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz salmon

Mix first three ingredients in a large plastic bag and marinate salmon for at least an hour before cooking. Pour salmon with marinade into a baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. The salmon is done when it flakes at the thickest part. Enjoy!

Do you have an explanation of the tradition of fish on Fridays? Educate me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Putting Feet to Love

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. 
--Jesus
If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.
-- Buddah


Last night I happened to catch the end snippet of NBC news. They had a short clip of the disturbing conflict in Syria and the young, helpless victims of the seemingly unending hate. My heart caught. How can I be confronted with these sweet children's faces and do nothing? Just yesterday in my post I talked about love in action, and that very night this story caught my eye.

)


I have been receiving a daily Lent message from Fr. Robert Barron and today's message was about giving (wouldn't you know it). In it, he encourages readers to give whenever you are asked, citing Matthew 5:42: Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Fr. Barron challenges people to give to anyone-- all the mail invites for money (assuming they are legitimate, of course), all the panhandlers, even if it's just a dollar or two. He encourages people to cut back on other areas, like maybe what they order from the menu, and give that savings away. That's quite a challenge.

Everyone, of course, is convicted to do their part in their own way. Heaven knows there are many, many children in need of someone to care with action, in the world and in our own country. Tonight, my husband and I will sit down and look through the organizations helping children, as suggested by NBC News, and choose one.

Ultimately the answer to war is that Love would triumph over all the hate, but in the meantime, maybe we can find a way to put feet to that sentiment.






Tuesday, March 11, 2014

To Be Love

This week for Lent, I decided I would focus and meditate on the topic of love. Yesterday, I posted a link to a lovely essay my sweet 18-year-old wrote and, if I do say so (and unabashedly I will say so) it was poignant and truth-filled.

When I started out this 40-day journey, I had lofty, almost saint-like images of how and who I would be during Lent. You see, there’s an odd side to me that craves to be a monk. I read Thomas Merton with a touch of envy. From the outside peering through the glass window of his secluded hermitage, I see a spiritual being in touch with his creator, wrestling over the deep issues of the soul, taking long walks in nature in contemplative thought, and writing in his journal elegant and insightful truths. Yeah, I want to be that.

Here’s the irony of it, however. Ultimately, being that is more about the ego than anything. My ego wants to be this lofty, separated from the world, harmonious, love-filled saint. The thud-crashing reality, is what I'm really craving is a spiritual state that can only come from a lifetime of wrestling with who I am--grounded in this life with its disappointments, hurts, and confusion, and...oh, that's right...it usually includes a heavy dose of hard-earned humility.  

After Mother Teresa’s death, correspondences were discovered revealing that during the last 50 years of her life, she wrestled with the very core of her faith, if God even existed. By then of course, she was cast in a high-profile role in life. Was she a fraud? I doubt it. She was, perhaps like most people in life, on a trajectory she began and perhaps didn't know how to alter. But I have no doubt she was truly motivated by compassion and serving, despite all the feelings being, or not being, in place.

Oh, that’s the sneaky, tricky part of love, isn’t it? The feelings aren’t always in place, and yet the actions must be. I doubt Thomas Merton’s feelings were always as they “should” be. He wrestled with life. It is, in fact, from this very place of doubt and despair most saints or great, spiritual thinkers probably travel through to become who they ultimately became, the place we get to pick up on in their lives and read about.

Attaining to an image is the fragile stuff of ego. We want a reflection. The truth is hard work, life, doubt, pain, hurt, confusion, and yet clinging to faith—these are the things that carve and form the images we often look up to. Like rushing water that little by little forms a canyon, the daily act of living carves us into humility and action, even when, and probably more so when, the feelings aren’t all in place.

So this week’s Lent challenge is to act in love--not to feel loving, meditate on lofty images of love, or pray with some abstract saintly love. It’s just to be love. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

All We Need Is Love....

I was going to write a post on love today, then I read the post my daughter-- only 18-- wrote as a contributor to the site Joyful Home and Life. She writes to a teen audience, but see if this doesn't speak volumes to you.

But The Greatest of These is Love

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Peace.

Maya Angelou
“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
― Maya AngelouWouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now




May you find peace and rest in your weekend.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Gratefulness in Action




For Lent this week I've been focusing on being grateful. It seems like the more I focus on it, the more obstacles have been thrown up in front of me to challenge my efforts while, simultaneously, the more reminders I've had to be grateful anyway.

So many people post videos on Facebook, I almost always pass them by. But when my friend posted this short clip (less than 3 minutes), the little girl's cute face caught my attention as if intentionally placed in front of me to sucker me in. I couldn't resist.

I'm glad I didn't. It reminded me that to cultivate a grateful heart we must, by necessity, be looking up and out beyond our own circumstances. Gratefulness expands our vision and reminds us to have a giving heart.

Jesus said we must be like little children in our faith (Matt.18:3). I think it's because children don't over-think or analyze a decision or belief, they just accept it and do it. 

May I be more childlike this week.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Gratitude


When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.

--Gilbert K. Chesterson





I woke up this morning a bit out of sorts.  My floors needed swept and mopped. The carpets needed vacuumed. Laundry needed done. Am I the only one who can do the work around here? 

We missed Ash Wednesday services last night. We got the time wrong, and nowhere could I find the correct time. It's not the end of the world, or even a minor tragedy-- just a disappointment. 

Still, I am cranky. I just put another load in the laundry and have a few, brief hours alone before family returns and clutters my solitude. 

I turned to my quiet time of meditation, hoping to find solace and the feelings of Lent, whatever those may be. I read the words of my devotions then ranted, "Why is it, God, I must find you? You are God. Find me. I'm just human." I was met with a silence I don't know how to interpret. 

Sometimes I find myself wondering if, like many believe, I am conjuring a God to suit my need. I can point to nothing, like science, to prove He exists. I can't do an experiment and show my hypothesis to be fact. But ultimately, my heart can't reject what has been instilled in it for so long. It may not make "sense", but it is my decision to accept mystery as truth.

Feelings, like inspiration, are dodgy and deceptive, aren't they? They come and go, fluttering just out of reach. Sometimes we grasp them, and they are dear and feel so real. But mostly they taunt us. Are our beliefs so fragile they hang on fleeting emotions? 

When I am stuck in this cycle, it is best that I do. What I mean is, it is good for me to get out of my head. Move beyond my self. Do chores. Go for a walk or jog. Call someone who needs cheering up. Write a note to someone I haven't spoke to in awhile. Do. Or perhaps I need a good slap in the conscience: read an article about any place in the world where misfortune and misery are grounded in the sad facts of daily life and haunting uncertainty, not my conjured disappointments with life. 

Then I come full circle, quiet my heart, and find a place of gratitude for all that I have- which is, in the perspective of the world-- abundant beyond comprehension. This doesn't take beliefs or faith or religion. It is a fact I can point to with confidence. 

During this lent season, I will remember gratitude. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Let It Shine



May it be a light to you in the dark places, when all other lights go out. 

--J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


Today my son and I went on a short drive together and stopped off at a discount store. I was in search of candles. I  know this may not sound like a difficult task, but when you live in a small, secluded town, sometimes even the simple things can be difficult to find. 

Our out-of-town excursion didn't result in exactly what I was looking for, but I made do. After all, it wasn't the aesthetics I was seeking. Ultimately, it was the meaning. 

This year, I'm going to light evening candles in a reverse Advent way. I have six small candles for each week of Lent. I will light them all the first week, one less the following, and so on so that by Good Friday, there will be no candles lit. It will be, as the world must have felt, in darkness. On Easter, I will light them all again so they blaze and I will light the tall green candle as the final celebration. I chose green because it represents growth and life. 

May the Light shine for you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please join me in our 40-Day celebration of Lent and renewal. Whether you are making this journey with a specific faith intention or as a time to celebrate stillness and renewal, follow along.  


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pancakes Anyone?


from Photobucket.com
For those of you who have practiced Lent, Shrove Tuesday is probably familiar to you. I had no idea what it was. I'd never heard of it before. But our new church is Episcopalian and goes all-out for Lent and is holding a pancake supper tonight. Well, I certainly like pancakes. Time to check out this tradition.

First stop, good ol'  Wikipedia to figure out just what Shrove Tuesday is all about.

In short, the word is a past tense for an old English word, shrive, the absolution of one's sins. It's also associated with Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday-- a last indulgence before the season of sacrifice and Lent takes place.

Why pancakes? Since people, once upon a time in the practice of Lent, were forbidden to eat milk, butter or eggs during the Lent season, and these ingredients could not be stored for the 40-day duration, the story goes they would use up these ingredients the night before Lent with a big pancake feast.

This is a practice I can dig a fork into. I love to make and eat homemade pancakes. Sometimes we even have them for dinner. Seems like a great celebration to me!

I have used the same pancake recipe for over twenty years, and make changes to the ingredients as the mood hits.

Basic Recipe: (From the 1982 edition of Sunset's Easy Basics cookbook, or as I like to call it, the Idiot's Cookbook. It was the ideal wedding gift for me.)

Mix dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar

Mix wet ingredients:
1- 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 Tbs melted butter/margarine

Make a well in mixed dry ingredients, add wet ingredients all at once, stir till blended. Pour batter (about 1/4 cup) on to hot, greased pan (I use spray oil). Cook on medium until top side looks dry, then flip. Serve with syrup, hot mixed berries, or whatever toppings you enjoy.

Variations:
Flours: Play around with the flours you add. I sometimes use 1/2 cup white flour, 1/2 cup wheat, 1/2 oats or similar variations. Wheat and oats may alter the moisture needed-- just adjust milk to get the consistency you want.

Add Ins: Ooo our family likes a few things thrown in sometimes-- a handful of pecans, chocolate chips, dried cranberries-- have fun and be inventive!

Yum. Let's celebrate! I think any practice that includes the eating of bread-like substances with a sweet topping and perhaps a side of sizzling pig-flesh and eggs, is one we should all observe!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Winner of a Free Book and More Resources for the 40-Days of Contemplation

I was so excited to read all the comments and enthusiasm of the invitation to join me on a 40-Day Lent season journey. You all had great thoughts and ideas to share.

But without further delay, the winner of a free book, chosen at random (random.org), is:

Julie from Julie's Musings! 


Congratulations! Please email me at julieluek@gmail.com as soon as possible and let me know which book you would like. I hope which ever you choose offers you inspiration for the next 40 days.

Lent officially begins with Ash Wednesday on March 5th and ends on Easter Sunday, April 20th, 2014.

Whether you are celebrating the Christian celebration of Lent or taking this time for a 40-Day renewal and spring cleaning of you life and spirit, here are a few resources to help you with your journey.

Christian Emphasis- Suggestions and ideas specifically with spiritual pursuits in mind.

Lent Retreat- One of my favorite morning meditation sites, Pray As you Go, is offering a weekly Lent guided retreat with audio and text meditations.

Spirit Home- A great overview of what Lent is, how to practice it and audio devotionals. It also has links for additional resources.

40 Ideas for Lent- Rachel Held Evans has been compiling a list of ideas for Lent for several years. She also includes family-friendly ideas.

Retreat Ideas- A site with spiritual and non-spiritual ideas to plan a stay-at-home retreat day.

Personal Expression- Ideas to dig deeper.

370 Journal Prompts- Creative ideas for writing in your journal. With 370 to choose from, you're sure to find 40 that will inspire you.

Monthly Personal Retreat Ideas- Ideas to create a space to explore higher personal awareness.

More Personal Retreat Ideas- From the Life Liberated Project.

Nurture Your Creativity- Part of any spiritual journey includes nurturing our creativity. To me, this is the ultimate conduit of God's or our own inner voice.

Pinterest Simple Art Ideas- Creative play ideas. (I always need to keep it simple.)

13 Ways to Spark Creativity- A few good ideas here that may even inspire a few of your own ideas.

101 Artist's Date Ideas

Create Life, Creative Work: tools, resources, musings to enhance your creative potential. A Fun Resource of Creative Thought and Play

Meditation and Prayer

How To Meditate For Beginners: Ten Essential Tips

YouTube Guided Meditations

Pray As You Go- Audio daily meditations on scripture with lovely music.

Richard Rohr's Daily Email Meditations


Whether you approach this through a traditional Lent celebration or a personal Spring Renewal journey, please follow along over the next 6 1/2 weeks and join us in this online retreat. Plan to share what you're experiencing and let's grow and rejuvenate together.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

40-Days of Contemplation And A Give-Away!





Most of you probably don't know that for over twenty years, my husband was a minister. That's right-- a church minister. During that time, he served in two independent congregations as the senior pastor. I'll be honest with you, being a "pastor's wife" was never a cloak I wore with comfort or ease.

A little over a year ago, my husband had a career change and left the ministry for good and is now working at a university, thoroughly thriving in his new job. 

Not only did the last year bring about a career, and consequent life-change in terms of my husband's vocation, it also was one that tested the grit of my faith through my family's health crisis. Both events combined, churned up the soil in my soul and have caused me to dig deep within myself and rediscover what I truly believe; how I view church, religion and all that it encompasses for me.

Who Is Lent For?

Next week, March 5th, begins the season of Lent--a 40-day period of religious observance for many practicing Christians. Believe it or not, I have never practiced Lent. No church I ever attended placed much emphasis on this occasion. 

For many, Lent is simply a time where one gives up something for 40 days. I've known people who don't attend church or believe anything in particular, but who will still be giving up sugar, chocolate, or pop for the Lent season. I think their intentions are more in hopes of self-improvement, but it's interesting how the practice, if not the purpose, has permeated the culture.

For the more spiritually minded, Lent is a 40-day period of prayer, contemplation, reflection, and yes, sacrifice. As far as I know, the Bible doesn't even directly mention Lent. Rather, it's a practice of only a select few denominations within the Christian religion and an attempt to imitate and remember Christ's 40-days of fasting and prayer in the desert prior to his death.    

For those who don't follow a belief system or whose faith and beliefs lie elsewhere than Christianity, Lent can can also be a time of, as one site I looked at called it, "spring cleaning"-- a period of cleansing, rest, simplifying, sacrificing, creation, contemplation, forgiving, and giving. 

The Lent Journey

I don't often wax religious on this blog, nor in life, actually. I make no apologies or defenses for what I believe and realize each of us must choose our own direction and allow our hearts to guide us accordingly. However, in my own quest to define and deepen my spirit, I'm going to take a 40-day journey through Lent, for the first time in my life. 

What will this look like? Honestly, I'm not sure. In the continuum of scullery maid and mystic dreamer. I tend to vacillate between the two, sometimes content in focusing on the pragmatic tasks at hand, other times, losing myself in contemplation and dreaming. I'm hoping that with an intentional focus of the 40-days of Lent, I will reconcile the two a bit more-- allowing my dreamer out for prayer and play, while practicing the manifestations of my faith in the forms of self-denial, prayer, devotional reading, creation, forgiving, and giving.

No matter your beliefs or non-beliefs, I'd like to invite you to join me in this 40-day journey. It doesn't have to be rooted in faith-based beliefs, or it can be a deeply spiritual retreat, as I'm hoping it will be for me. Maybe you have been focused on tasks and work lately and desperately need a break. Maybe you've let the intentions and resolutions of the New Year fall to the wayside in the demands of everyday life. Maybe like me, you've had a rough year and need to regain your focus and energy. Or maybe you are also digging for a deeper spiritual connection. No matter your motivation, consider walking with me through the next 40 days, setting your own goals according to your heart and needs. 

And A Give-Away!

To help motivate you and give you ideas for meditation, contemplation and growth, I'd like to buy you a book. After a lot of searching, with careful consideration that we all come to this from varying places, I've selected three options. To win a book, leave me a comment about your thoughts on practicing Lent or a time period for quiet and retreat from the world. I will select one commenter, at random (random.org) and, if chosen, you can decide which book you would like. I will send a paperback or Kindle version to those within the continental US or a Kindle gift, via email, for those elsewhere.  

Give-away will close with comments left by the end of Sunday, March 2nd. 



3. Heart Steps by Julia Cameron


No matter the place you come from, we all need a time to remember we are more than earth-bound creatures running in a maze of tasks. Taking an intentional "time out" to nurture our spirits-- the birth place of our emotions, creativity, connection to nature and the world, and the dwelling place of the Divine-- is important to our complete growth. Join me for 40-days, beginning March 5th, on this journey. It's nice to travel together. 







Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Notepads

If you look at the area by the phone in our kitchen, I’m embarrassed to admit you will usually find a disorganized mess of pens, miscellaneous mail, postage stamps, scissors, a glue stick and several notepads. This is our disheveled attempt at a communication command center.

The notepads are usually the cheap, spiral bound type, or small legal pads—the kind you buy in multiples at your local discount store. But despite their modest appearance, they--and the pens hoarded from hotels, businesses and before-school sales--are the vital tools to our family’s communication. With four car-driving adults in one house, (daughter, 18 and son, 23), the comings and goings can be constant and usually unannounced. Without our little pads, we would never know what each family member was up to.

Like a spontaneous journal, our little used up tablets reveal sentiments and messages, recording our daily lives.

Sometimes the notes are simple, like this one I left the kids before going for a jog, Hi—took Weemie Weiner (one of our nicknames for our Weimaraner dog) for a jog. Love you, Mom.

One day I left this for my daughter, who was still in bed with some kind of viral ick. Even in my notes I'm a professional Mom. Hi Sweetie, I hope you are feeling a bit better today. I set out pills for you—eat a little something. There is that soup social after church—I won’t stay long but call or text if you feel really yukky or need me.  Love  you, Mom. As a  PS I added, stay hydrated and drew a cup, apparently to add to her visual enjoyment.

My daughter left me this message last year, and I can’t bring myself to throw it away, Hi Mommy, Came home w/ Kat to get clothes, I’m helping her with a photo shoot for Art. I’ll be home this evening! Love you! Missy Moe. I loved how she still calls me Mommy, and she signed it with her nickname, a term of endearment within our family.

On a mini legal pad from this past fall, a series of messages commemorate my son’s recent battle with cancer.

From me: Dayne-O, I’m in town for a bit. I’ll leave my phone on (if the battery holds up). Dentist @ 1:00. Call Dr. John. You may want to ask if there will be any issues with dental xrays?

As his chemo treatments started, he learned he’d have to have a shot with each treatment to help boost his white blood cell count. Although we tried to treat it as routine and keep his life normal, my worry was always just barely concealed. Dayne-O—I’m at training for job with Diane. I’ll be done around noon in time to take you to shot (Dad took your car). I have phone. Please call if you’re not feeling well. Love U, Mom.

Another time, as treatments wore on, I left this note: 
The pasta needs to go on—the sauces should be ready. 
The cakes are in the fridge. 
The house is cleaned. 
Kat’s bringing salad. Morgan’s bringing the pop. 
I’m stressed and have had no time alone and I don’t want to be yelled at. I’ll be back later.

I remember the day I wrote this through a blur of tears. We were preparing to host my daughter’s softball team for supper and an evening of team-bonding. My son, understandably short-tempered from treatments and not feeling well, had snipped at me while I was trying to get the house ready, and I had a heavy dose of self-pity brewing. After all, there were two children who needed my attention, I'd had no time alone for months, and precious little time to work towards my own life-goals.

I stormed out of the house, hopped in the car, and sobbed my way into town, only to discover I really had no place to go. I finally ended up by the local river park staring sulkily into the rushing water; its cold, black waters matched my own tumultuous mood. After a good weeping session, I came home a little more in control. But times of frustration and fear often built up. The note was evidence of the strain health issues can place on a family.

As the chemo wore on, my husband and I decided my son needed a positive focus in his life, so in a moment of lapsed sanity, we allowed him to get a puppy. What we were thinking still remains a mystery, but this message is a reminder of the puppy antics that were the best therapy we could have given him. Dayne-O, See you when you get home—be safe. Also, your hoggy-doggy ate my P&J sammie, so he won’t need lunch (may have ate the baggie too, FYI).” I drew a picture of a dog-pig head and wrote woofoink under it, then the usual heart-shape and Mom.

On the last page of the legal pad is this simple, casual note left for my still sleeping daughter. Maddi, we’re at hospital. Dayne’s getting his port out—shouldn’t be long. I don’t have a phone but will have my Kindle/email if you need me. Love you, Mom.

That is the last note in the notepad, and also commemorates the day we put medical closure on my son’s illness. Removing the dreaded port, the means by which the healing recipe of toxic brew was pumped into his system, marked the triumphant end to his almost year-long battle. 

I just put out a new pad today, and I wonder what notes and messages it will hold, the tell-tale, hastily penned lists, phone numbers, and messages we will leave each other. Before the year is out, my son will move on with his life and my daughter will leave to attend college. How sad and empty the note pads and my heart will be.







Monday, January 13, 2014

Keeping Up With The Times (When Did I Turn Into A Fuddy Duddy?)


My kids swear we are the last people on earth to not have a data plan with our phone service. They might be right too. Having just a regular cell phone—texting option only—is such a rarity that when I recently tried to replace my old phone, the Pink Dinosaur, as my daughter called it, I couldn’t. AT&T offered only one model of phone without data plans. I call it extortion, a phone company’s empire forcing me to comply with their money-making scheme. My kids call it keeping up with the times.

My daughter, a senior in high school, is quietly hopeful that we will finally enter into the new millennium and get a data plan when our current phone contract runs out. Last night at the dinner table, my husband and son looked at plans available with and without smart phones. My husband asked me, “Do you want a smart phone plan or just a regular phone and plan? We can get that pretty cheap.”  I think he’s hopeful I’ll continue on in my inexpensive ignorance and stick with my dumb phone.

“What can you do with a smart phone?” I asked. I'd been listening to the discussion debating if I really needed to make the costly switch. “Can I get Pandora?” My needs are simple.

“Mom,” my daughter said patiently, “You can check your email, check in with Facebook, and yes, access Pandora.”

“Does it take up a lot of data to do that?” I asked, having no idea, really, what I was asking. My son assured me the plans we were considering would probably be more than enough to cover usages like Pandora. I began to think about always being able to check in with my email or Facebook or Twitter, not being dependent on available wifi connections. On second thought, I’m not sure that’s overly appealing to me.

I’m struggling to find a reason to switch to a data plan yet feeling like I’ll be missing out on something if I don’t. After all, all the other parents have one.

When I was a kid, our phone needs amounted to pocket change. Really. My mom and dad always made sure I had spare coins when I went out with friends in case I needed to call home. I realize if you’re under a certain age, you won’t remember the Ancient Ones’ reliance on public phones… phone booths… you know, the thing that Super Man went into to change into his super tights and cape… oh never mind.

While I’m waxing nostalgic on “when I was a kid”, I still remember when we got our color TV. It was a big deal. Other families already had one, but my dad never saw the need to switch from the black and white—it worked just fine. We had a hard time convincing him the wonder and splendor of Saturday morning cartoons in full Technicolor glory was worth the financial investment. But I’m sure once he caved and bought the state-of-the-art console TV, he enjoyed the MacNeil Leher News Hour in color as much as the next dad.

I also remember his reluctance to install air conditioning. Instead, we placed box fans in the windows so that they blew outside-- the theory being they would suck in the cooler night air. It was a hypothesis my pre-adolescent body knew was false from every sweaty pore it possessed. Night after night, during sticky summer heat, I lay on top of sheets, barely breathing, hoping even a light puff of air would cool and relieve my searing flesh. It rarely happened. It was stifling. But my father's conservative fiscal habits and ethics about not always having to keep up with the Joneses meant we made due with fans.  

My reluctance to buy into the newest, "bigger and better" gadget is an inheritance bequeathed to me during my own exasperated youth. Do I really need a data plan? Did I really need that DVD player a couple years ago?  I'm still mourning all my obsolete VHS tapes and wondering what kind of craft project I can make from them.

But perhaps the bigger point I should really be pondering is, when did I become so much like my dad and feel proud about that? On second thought, yes, I do want a smart phone. But here's to my dad, maybe looking down at me from his after-life location with a bit of satisfaction: At least I made my kids wait a year or two after it was a trend before caving.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I must not be alone in my fear of technology. BlogHer has picked up on this post. Fuddy-duddies unite! http://www.blogher.com/wrestling-technology-i-have-become-fuddy-duddy