Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lenten Love Letters: Teachers and Friends

Two weeks into writing my Lenten Love Letters, I find myself drawn to writing to people who have had a positive impact on my life.


Three letters went to friends who have truly been a blessing in my life. All are wonderful friends.

One inspires me to delve deeper into my spirituality and beliefs, challenging my thinking and my actions in a positive, productive manner.

Another lives life with mindfulness and strength, speaking her truth and empowering others to share their own stories. 

A third walked into my day with exactly the words I needed to hear, and with levity I have been able to call upon time and again over the past few weeks as I continue to deal with the outcome of what has proven to be a huge learning experience for me. 

Next, my mind turned to the teachers in my life. 

One transformed an introverted mom who was hoping to make it to six weeks of breastfeeding her firstborn into a breastfeeding advocate who has nursed all five of her children well beyond toddlerhood. At my first La Leche League meeting, she greeted me with kindness, helped me with her wealth of breastfeeding knowledge, put me at ease, and encouraged me to follow my mama instincts. Mostly, she assured me that I wasn't a crazy person for cosleeping, babywearing, cloth diapering, and following my babies cues instead of the clock.  

Another empowered me to trust in my body's ability to birth my baby. She taught me to listen to my body, to celebrate my body, and encouraged me to feel comfortable in my body.

You'll find the third letter, to my kindergarten teacher, below. 


Mrs. Shea,

Your presence in my four-year-old life was a true blessing. The music, play, crafts, and wonderful words that filled your classroom provided the best possible foundation for learning.  Your love of sharing the world with us through songs, stories, art, games, and hands on activities lit up the classroom and my heart, instilling a love of learning that serves me well to this day.

Your confidence in my ability to take care of your classroom and your students when I was in the fourth and fifth grade sparked in me the desire to continue to pursue volunteer opportunities and cemented my passion for caring for and teaching children.

You would probably be happy to hear that I continue to make egg salad just like you taught me, that I have done the Corduroy craft with my children, and that many of the songs you taught me in kindergarten are now sung by my homeschooled children, as well as my class of 3-6 year old children at homeschool co-op..

A lifetime full of love,
Amanda

All - friends and teachers alike - have encouraged me to grow as a person, and for that, I shall be forever grateful. 

Why My Kids Love the Dentist



Free awesome video games in the waiting room. What child wouldn't love that?

But that's not all. The staff is amazing, the atmosphere fun and welcoming, and the care is above and beyond anything we've experienced at a dentist office. Alia gets upset when it's not her turn to be in the dentist chair. She doesn't even mind getting cavities filled. We love Tiny Teeth!

Monday, February 25, 2013

In This Circle...


Women. Sharing tasty food. Watching a documentary or discussing a topic. Sitting in a circle:  acknowledging their maternal roots and branches; sharing thoughts, experiences, hopes and dreams; shedding tears; laughing out loud; comforting; encouraging; being together. Being, together. Listening with understanding and acceptance. For some, a catharsis, for others, an opportunity to connect. So often, healing.

We each have our own story. We each own our own story and embrace others' stories. Bodies and souls nourished, we leave, carrying no longer the burden with which we arrived, but instead a new energy, vitality, and peace. Usually. Sometimes, having delved so deep, having shaken ourselves to the core, we leave feeling unsettled, with things to contemplate, changes to make for the better. But it all is so very good and so very necessary.

Only in this group of women is it possible for me to fully embrace that deep dark place where my brokenness lives and know it's ok. Only surrounded by this energy can I feel so exposed and vulnerable, yet so safe and loved. Amongst these friends who have gathered for this purpose, we lay our souls bare, for it is only then that we can forgive ourselves and praise ourselves and accept ourselves; feel our strength and recognize our weakness; know our selves; revive those parts of ourselves that have lain dormant for too long.

In this Circle, connection.
In this Circle, compassion.
In this Circle, empowerment.
In this Circle, deep peace. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lenten Love Letters: Faithful Friends

"Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us, once more..."

Why I've had that song stuck in my head for the past few days, especially considering it's Lent, I have no idea. What I do know is that during the quiet moments that I've devoted to meditating, praying, and writing Lenten Love Letters over the past few days, I've felt called to write to people in my life who have inspired my faith.


The first letter went to a wonderful pastor who had a great impact on me in just one short week of camp. Pastor Aaron opened my eyes and my heart to new ways of spending my time and my life with God and with the people in my life. And he taught me that sometimes there are more lessons in falling off a bike than in having a smooth ride. He also was my daughter, Alia's favorite person that week.




The second went to the pastor of my church who has not only been a wonderful pastor, but has set a wonderful example of what it is to be a good husband, parent, and friend. Pastor G has also been a catalyst in my change from self- and stuff-centered living to Christ-centered living.

The third letter found its way to someone I have never met. Glennon is the author of one of my favorite blogs, Momastery, and her words have been manna for my journey over the past year or so.

I'm not sure any of these people realize just how much they touch others' lives - or to what extent they've impacted mine. 

In giving of themselves, they've fed my faith, improved my life, and sent my soul soaring. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dear God,


I'm going to give it to you straight. A broken car that isn't worth repairing wasn't on my list of things to deal with before my remicade infusion. In fact, I'm having trouble dealing with anything more serious than the lack of foods in my house that soothe my prednisone-induced cravings, and even that is pushing it. At this point I don't have the energy to throw a fit, and wouldn't put it past myself to sprain my eyeballs crying, so I'm just going to pray for the ability to shut off my ocd and not spend every second of the next however-long-it's-going-to-take-to-figure-out-the-car-situation worrying. Please grant me peace.

Thank you for listening, and understanding, and for any cheesecake you'd like to send my way. And for my parents, who, bless them, upon hearing the news said we'll talk. That can only mean good things. And for a husband who chooses his wife's mental and emotional health over going to work. And for kids who are in their rooms giggling instead of sleeping, and who giggle more when you tell them to stop giggling and go to sleep. And for the photo of Miss M above, because it cracks me up every time I see it.

Love,
Amanda 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Five Souls

Every once in a while I stop, look around, and am absolutely astounded at where life has taken me. Sitting here, listening to my almost-five-year-old and her best friend playing upstairs; watching my seven-year-old build amazing creations with Legos; the clanking of bowls and measuring cups revealing my ten-year-old is honing her gluten-free-baking skills; knowing the silence from my twelve- and fourteen-year-olds indicates they're deep in the world of Minecraft or other game, the enormity of what life has handed me hits, overwhelms.

God has entrusted me with five lives - with five souls to nurture and nourish. I can barely wrap my mind around the concept. 

So many times over the past fourteen years, I've felt like a total failure as a parent. Through morning sickness, psoriatic arthritis flares, and bouts of depression that have left me barely functioning, it has pained me to not to be able to do and be more for my kids. At the opposite end of the spectrum, when I have been able to do and be all, I felt like we were always too busy, with too little downtime - and definitely not enough time for me to take care of me. 
Living with a chronic illness, finding balance sometimes doesn't seem to work. I may go for a stretch of months where I'm physically unable to do much and when I need to rest as much as possible. Or there may be months when I want to go full speed ahead, willing my now-feeling-better body to comply. The balance, for me, is in living every day to its fullest, whatever that means on the particular day. 
 

Instead of looking for balance in a day or a week or a month, I look at a year. A year of time spent curled up in bed with my kids reading books and playing games; time spent exploring aquariums, museums, science centers, caves, beaches, and forests; time spent at church, homeschool co-op, sleepovers, game days, and other events; time spent at doctor appointments, infusions, and just plain old hibernating in bed. 

My week or day or month may not seem balanced, but it all balances out when you look at the big picture. And just when I start thinking I am not doing or being enough for my kids, someone comes along and reminds me that we all are doing fine.  Perhaps I'm not doing such a bad job after all with these five precious souls.




Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cabinated Moose

Once upon a time I was making something that resembled dinner ...actually, it more closely resembled breakfast, but that's beside the point. As I was chopping potatoes, I noticed a moondragon in the cabinet. The curious moondragon peeked out from the cabinet and asked, "What are you making for dinner? Are you making Cabinated Moose?" Not wanting to argue with a moondragon, lest it burn my breakfast-like dinner to a crisp, I responded to the affirmative and the news was received with great joy. The moondragon sought out Dragonman to give him the good news, and like most good news, it traveled quickly. Soon all the small and not-too-small creatures in Nurselonia were alternately excited and perplexed at the prospect of dining on Cabinated Moose, and when finally seated at the table, thought the dinner of Cabinated Moose was quite scrumptious.
This is one of my kids' favorite stories. It is about Coren Ryu (aka Moondragon), who one day, while I was making a dinner of eggs, pancakes, and sausage, was playing in the corner cabinet next to the stove. I had been in the process of cleaning out the cabinet, and had to interrupt my work to make dinner. Coren seized this opportunity to claim the now-empty cabinet as his domain, at least until dinner was ready. In normal moondragon fashion, he kept popping his head out and asking what I was making for dinner. Not to be one to actually give my children a straight answer, I answered with my usual silliness. What I did not expect was that he would come up with the fabulous concept of "cabinated moose" - or that this simple, fun experience would enter into family lore.

It's the simple everyday moments with your kids that are things of legend. Pay attention to them. Celebrate them. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Memory Lane

Reading through old posts on a message board I was a member of for years, I came across some gems from my kids' younger years. Here's a little taste of what life has been like living in a house full of rannygahoots...


Cast 
Alia: 14 months old
Coren: 3.5 years old  
Scene The Living Room 
Coren appears on the stairs naked, except for a red sash slung over his shoulder and across his belly, holding a sword. Alia, who had been nursing, breaks her latch and exclaims, "Where sawd doe?" Coren races up the stairs and down again with a sword for fair Alia, who has wiggled herself off the futon. Coren tosses a sword to Alia, who amazingly kinda sorta catches it and stands, feet apart, sword at the ready. Coren moves in for his attack, exclaiming, "Taste my steel!" and they have at it, Alia holding her own against the fearsome Cap'n Moondragon. "Tang ting!" exclaims Alia as they battle. Coren turns to say something to Mama, and Alia, seeing her opportunity, growls at Coren and valiantly brings her sword up between his legs.
Thus ends a great battle.
Alia has never been a big fan of naps. Apparently, at age 2, she was having technical difficulties with her nap...
Me: What happened to your nap? 
Alia: It fell off. 
Me: It fell off? 
Alia: It fell off my face and woke my body up.
That really does explain a lot that I didn't know about naps.

Many times, it wasn't the conversations that got me - it was walking into a room and seeing something like this: 


That would be Zachary at age 7, during his climbing-door-frames stage. 

Or that fateful day in March of 2011, just one day shy of April Fool's Day, when the following transpired:
Seven minutes into taking a break and enjoying a cup of coffee I heard strange squishing noises coming from the dining room. And a certain 3 year old was being waaaaay too quiet. 
When I asked the 3 year old, who was in the dining room, what was going on in there, she said, "Nothing." 
Not wanting to move at that particular moment, I sent an 8 year old on a reconnaissance mission. She simply stated, "Alia's ... er .... green," and fled upstairs as to avoid being asked to help clean up.  
I left my coffee and my comfy futon to discover...

As I set my eyes upon this wondrous sight, I knew I had two options: either I could get angry, or I could get the camera. I got the camera, this photo, and a wonderful memory of reveling in the fabulous squishyness of green kids' paint with my youngest daughter.

I am so thankful for my odd children and the myriad strange and wonderful memories we share - and the message board that allowed me this walk down memory lane!







Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lenten Love Letters: Apologies and Memories

I sent my first Lenten Love Letters this week. The first, I sent out on Ash Wednesday. It was a letter asking forgiveness and letting a (former?) friend know that I continue to value and love her. The second and third, letters of gratitude for wonderful memories. These are to an Aunt and Uncle I wish I saw more often, a relationship which I know I need to put more energy toward. 



Writing these letters has brought home to me how precious the people in my life are, and how tenuous many of my relationships with people really are. These three letters are to people who I don't see or communicate with often - people with whom I wish I had done a better job of keeping in touch and nurturing our relationships.

Someone asked me what my expectations are, in sending these letters. The answer is simple: I don't have any. I'm simply sending out love, and all the silly, hard, wistful, difficult, and holy things that go along with love. I expect nothing, need nothing, in return. If not one person reads their love letter, I've lost nothing. You never lose anything by reaching out with love - only by keeping love to yourself.


“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”                                 ~ Paul Coelho, The Alchemist


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Alia's Fifth


Five years ago you came into the world, into the water, into my hands, surrounded by people who love you. Every day since then, I have thanked God for you. You are an incredible gift. 

Since you are a big fan of numbers, especially of having things equal to your age, here are five things I love about you…


1. Your indomitable spirit. Things don’t ever seem to go wrong for you. If you are having trouble with something, you see only that there is a solution – if you don’t know the solution, you are confident you can find someone who does. You know you can accomplish anything you set your mind to – to you there is no such thing as too young or too small.

2. Your mother-goddess-warrior soul. Your gentle heart, caring ways, and fierce protection of everyone you love, especially those smaller than you. You soothe the littlest of babies effortlessly. You know what everyone is supposed to be doing and encourage them, quite authoritatively, to live up to their responsibilities and potentials. You are the great protector, doing your best to keep the world and all its inhabitants safe. 

3. Your sense of style. Punk-hippie fusion. Pajama chic. Christmas Goth. Easter Goth. Skull Princess. Rainbow Girl. Skella Girl. Skater Girl. You wear what makes you feel good, what inspires you, what energizes you, or what comforts you. Preferably with fancy shoes. Or shoes that don't match. And pink or purple or blue or all-of-the-above hair. 
  

4. Your friendships. You don’t just make friends, You adopt friends of all ages and consider them family. You think about and talk about your friends every day, concerned if you don’t see one of your friends for a while or if they’re not at church or homeschool co-op or the thrift store or wherever you usually see them. You always have time for your friends, listen to your friends, and share your entire self with your friends. 
  

5. The God-spark you share with others. Your fiery spirit of love touches everyone around you. Your insights into life, love, and faith constantly astound me. You go about life radiating God’s love. You are truly a blessing.
  
  


Happy fifth birthday, Alia! 
And you know what? I love you SO VERY MUCH!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Any Dream Will Do

After two days of blizzard fun, it was nice to get out of the house. Well, farther out of the house than the front yard. We made our way through a snowy labyrinth of streets, arriving at church in time for Coffee and Conversation and to cobble together people needed for worship. 

The organ player, lector, and acolyte couldn't make it through the snow, so volunteers needed to be found. Not having played piano in years, but the only one with any piano playing experience, I was elected to play the melody line to hymns during worship. My daughter became a substitute acolyte. A member of the congregation volunteered to be lector. Pastor G welcomed those who managed to make their way to worship, and I plunked out the first hymn. 

Partway through worship, God sent the gift of an accomplished piano player who volunteered to take over for me. What a relief! 

After boxing up our Alleluias for Lent, we descended to the Fellowship Hall for lunch before journeying to a nearby town to enjoy a performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. 
 
My children sat, mesmerized, as the cast sang, danced and acted out the story from Genesis. 

Today we listened to the original Broadway cast performance. A little while afterwards, bits and pieces of conversation with my kids centered around lessons they learned from Joseph's story, some astute and sincere, some not so much...

- Parents shouldn't have a favorite kid because that makes the other siblings mad enough to lose their minds. 

- If you have dreams about being better than your siblings, you should keep them to yourself.


- Jacob should know everyone is jealous if you have a Katwise coat!


- When you are put in a difficult situation, make the best of it and trust God to get you through. 

- Your Dad has to be really distraught over the death of his son in order to believe he was killed by a goat. 


- Believe in your dreams. Follow them. Live them. Trust God to lead you on the right path to make them come true. 


- Going to a musical transports you to a different place and you forget about the mountains of snow for a while.

   - Joseph really loved his coat of many colors, because it had so many colors and because his father loved him so much he wanted him to have the fanciest coat.

- Our church is a family who loves each other and helps each other out so we can worship together. In the end Jacob's family learned to love each other equally, like God loves us and to work together, like our church. 

- Love. Help. Apologize. Forgive. Trust God. Live your dreams. The end. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thrift Store Thursday: Blizzard Edition

I spent waaaaay too much time in bed during and after the blizzard, mostly due to my joints swelling to epic proportions due to the lovely barometric pressure. This week's Thrift Store Thursday is full of things I can see from my bed. 

We'll start with these two mirrors, which hang at the head of my bed with hand-painted (by me) mirrors and a couple works of art by my kids. I found them a thrift stores, years apart, and love them.


Hanging from my curtain rod (also a thrift store find, as are my curtains ... surprise, surprise), is something the littles in my house love - a string of hand-painted animals and beads. It was funky. It was fun. It was $2.50. It became mine. 



Below is one of my favorite things that hangs in my house. It is a hand-carved depiction of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. 


And last, but not least, a thrifted chair. My husband uses it as a computer chair, the cat uses it as a lounging spot in his absence.  The baskets in the background are thrift store finds as well. I'm starting to wonder what in this room isn't thrifted. Or freecycled. Or given to us by friends or family members!



Due to the blizzard, I haven't been to the thrift shop in a week, so no strange or unusual finds for you this week. If I stay away much longer, they may send out a search party for me. The last time I went a week without going to the thrift store, a couple of the employees were worried I was in the hospital. Perhaps I'll get there tomorrow. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Cloud of Witnesses




"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us..." Hebrews 12:1 (NRSV)

Lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely...

"No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sin." (Message)


On Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or whatever you want to call it, we use up the fat, preparing ourselves for the Lenten fast. On Ash Wednesday we get rid of the extra spiritual fat, our parasitic sins, so that we may journey through Lent as Jesus journeyed to the cross - each confession a step closer to the forgiveness of all our sins, a step closer to everlasting life.

On Ash Wednesday, we come together in community to confess [our] sins to one another and pray for one another so that [we] may be healed (James 5:16). We receive, in ashes, a cross on our foreheads - from babies in arms to our elders - to remind us that "you are dust, and to dust you will return" (Genesis 3:19). All of us, sinners. All of us, going to die. 

Those that came before us -  prophets, kings,  loved ones, children whose lives were violently taken, soldiers, peacekeepers, sinners, saints - a great cloud of witnesses surround us. Their ashes, nourishing the earth; their memories and examples nourishing our souls. Their lives, a witness to a Father's love. Their everlasting lives, a witness to that love and a Son's death on a cross. God's love, nourishing and sustaining us all. 

Today I wrote and sent my first Lenten Love Letter. An acknowledgement of sin. A request for forgiveness. An opportunity to lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely. I'm unsure if it will ever be opened by the recipient, or if it will be discarded with the junk mail. I pray God will guide her to open the letter and to open her heart to my words. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hibernation

 As snow piled on top of snow, pain piled on top of pain. As the blizzard blew mountains of snow outside, pain blanketed my dreams until sleep became impossible. My body doesn't like storms. 
 
Awake shortly after three, I gave in and got up shortly before 4:30 to find the world had undergone quite the transformation while I was attempting sleep. Peace enveloped me as the snow swirled past the window and I sat for a while, transfixed.

Returning to bed in hopes that pain would give in to sleep, I soon discovered it was not to be. Up again, I took my meds and made some rather strong coffee after taking a pound of bacon out of the freezer. My alarm sounded as I poured my first cup of the day. 

Soon children descended the stairs, excited to see what the night blizzard had brought them. Two were into snow clothes and out the door before even contemplating breakfast.

Back in bed, coffee in hand, I settled in to check to see how friends and family were weathering the storm. 

I've spent most of the day in my bed resting, reading, watching episodes of the original 21 Jump Street, meditating, attempting to nap, and wandering the world wide web. A year or two ago, this would have driven me crazy. There are so many things I could be doing around the house - so much work to be done. Today I realize that the most important thing is to take care of myself. Not that I didn't have a moment or two of panic about what I need to do to prep for tomorrow, but  on the whole I've done well taking a day to hibernate.  

Hopefully sleep will come tonight and I'll wake up feeling a little more human and ready to enjoy this Winter wonderland while it lasts. 


Friday, February 8, 2013

Lenten Love Letters

Lent is swiftly approaching. Last year, I found that Resistance is Lenten. It was a wonderful way to journey through Lent and beyond.
This year, in thinking about a possible Lenten discipline, the need to write letters to people in my life became quite overwhelming. Forty letters in forty days (not including Sundays). And not just any letters - love letters. 

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. (John 3:16, Message)

[Jesus said,] I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. (John 13:34 NRSV)

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (Romans 5: 6-8, Message)

Love. God so loved us, he sent Jesus to us, to teach us love, whether or not we deserved it. Jesus so loved us that he endured much to teach us love and encourage us to live love. Jesus loved us so much that he died for us so that our sins can be forgiven. Lent is about love. 
 

Throughout Lent, I will be focusing on love, and expressing that love to others- both through love letters and through everyday interactions. Some love letters will be easy to write. Some will be more difficult. Some may not be read at all, because they will be to people whom I love, but may not feel the same way toward me at this time - or will be to people I wished I could have expressed more love to while they were alive. Some may be completely awkward, as they will be to people who might consider me completely unimportant in their life. Some letters will appear on my blog, some most likely won't, as I wouldn't want to completely bore you to death or overwhelm you with warm, squishy feelings.


Amazing Love, how can it be, that you my King would die for me? Amazing Love, I know it's true. It is my joy to honor You. In all I do, I honor you. ("You Are My King" lyrics)

I will honor God and some amazing people through Lenten love letters to people I love and admire who are or have been blessings in my life. 

If you were to write a Lenten Love Letter or forty, to whom would you write? Can you share a little love this Lent? 



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Here Comes Charlotte

There is a storm a-comin' - I can feel it in my bones! And my joints. And everywhere else. Ugh. 

As Blizzard Charlotte  approaches, my health steadily declines. As the barometric pressure falls, so does my ability to be at all useful. 

Copious cups of coffee and a little pain medication facilitated a quite productive morning of errands and housework. This afternoon was fueled by chocolate and baby snuggles. Dinner done, kids on their way to bed, I finally have a few minutes to sit and get better acquainted with just how much my body is hurting. 

Years ago, when a storm of this magnitude was predicted, you would find me scrambling to gather supplies - flashlights! candles! food! blankets! shovels! salt! snow gear! panic! anxiety!

This time I managed to give the fridge and pantry a quick once-over, determining that we won't starve to death should we lose power, and there's plenty of coffee. I also had the kids gather their snow gear so it's at the ready ... more to avoid drama and provide a more peaceful day tomorrow than for actual storm preparedness reasons. 

Glancing wistfully at the pile of books near my bed, I dream of a day in bed with lots of coffee, reading, and relaxation while the kids play in the snow. 


Whatever Charlotte is gearing up to dump on us - bring it on! I have utmost confidence my husband can handle whatever comes. As for me, I'll be here under my pile of blankets with no plans of coming out until Sunday. 

ThStTh: The Wine Rack in My Bathroom

What better place for a wine rack than in one's bathroom? Really!

In this edition of Thrift Store Thursday, I will explain why there is a wine rack in my bathroom. 

My bathroom, as I've described, becomes a Sanctuary for me at times. It is the only place in the house where I can lock the children out and enjoy a few quiet moments, alone. When I came across the wine rack at the thrift store, I knew the perfect place for it - the bathroom. What better to compliment an atmosphere of peace and tranquility? 

I can already hear some of you celebrating this most delightful of locations for a wine rack. I can hear others, the wine enthusiasts among us, gasping in alarm - the temperature changes, the humidity, the horror!

Fear not. No wine has or will be harmed in the use of this wine rack. I promise. Look ... 



No more is the tiny linen closet stuffed so full of towels it won't close. No more are the hairbrushes, bath salts, and lotions lost amongst the toothbrushes, toothpaste, and cups cluttering the sink counter. An extra roll of toilet paper is now within sight and reach - don't you know that putting a roll on the back of the toilet renders it invisible to anyone under age 15, even boys who face it a good number of the times they're using the facilities? And look - there's even a candle in case a little ambiance is needed. 

Bathroom harmony has been restored, thanks to the unusual use of a wine rack. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

RA


As I seem to be needing to brush up on my RA mindset as of late, here's a repost from a year ago...

People with all types of arthritis, chronic pain, and/or chronic illness struggle with RA, as do many others. Many fail to see the value of RA. They cannot conceive that RA could be at all helpful to their lives or bring joy to their lives. Instead they become bitter at the limitations that have been thrust upon them. RA is not about giving up on life and giving in to disease, it's about letting go of your own expectations and accepting the new doors that are opening to you.


"The afflictions which come to humanity sometimes tend to center the consciousness upon the limitations. This is a veritable prison. Release comes by making of the will a door through which the confirmations of the spirit come. They come to a man or woman who accepts his life with Radiant Acquiescence."
'ABDU'LBAHÁ,
Divine Philosophy



Focusing on Radiant Acquiescence for the past year has taught me a lot about myself, life, and spirituality. Willing my body to do things it cannot or to go beyond its limits, as well as having unrealistic expectations or goals, has been harmful not only to me but many times to those around me. Doing too much means doing little in the days that follow, which often walks hand in hand with letting people down, including ourselves. Imposing our own will to be, do, or accomplish, leads not only to physical, but also emotional pain when our limitations get in the way. Acquiescence of our will to the Divine Will (to God, Goddess, Allah, the creator, the universe, fate, life - whatever suits you best) can be a struggle at times. Radiant Acquiescence - not only giving over one's will to the Divine Will, but doing it joyfully and radiantly - is a little harder to accomplish.

RA doesn't allow for the why me's that often accompany chronic pain. It doesn't allow for blame or anger. RA opens us to the possibilities of the blessings of our circumstances and the possibility of good that can come from every moment of our day.

Seeing through the eyes of RA, we don't forget our goals and aspirations or passively let life pass us by. We let go of expectations as to when they'll come to fruition and open ourselves to new possibilities for our lives - leaving everything in the hands of the Divine. Actively doing what we can with the time, energy, and capability we have each day and not worrying or stressing about what we cannot do, we look forward to seeing how life unfolds in the days and years to come. Taking joy in each moment (which isn't always easy), life is transformed into something magical and joyful instead of a struggle. Affirming the value in days of rest or quiet contemplation frees us to invite health and healing in the absence of burdens that hinder wellness and wholeness.

Straying from the path of Radiant Acquiescence has led to some of the darkest times I've had in my life. By struggling against the current of my life, worry, fear and depression overwhelmed me. The more I tried to apply my will to a situation, the more imprisoned in my life I felt. When I surrendered my will and accepted my life for what it is, I was set free. I'm not saying we don't have a choice or free will, that it doesn't matter what decisions we make in life because our path is set - I'm saying that Divine Will can guide us to powerful, wondrous places and influence the decisions we make for the better - no, for the best.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Turning Tides

With life comes change. Lately, there have been major changes in my life. 

Over the past few weeks, I've discovered that there are people who genuinely care about me and there are people I don't need in my life. Forward movement depends on letting go of things that drain my energy and embracing things that inspire and invigorate. 

I've learned that my journey over the past two years has brought me to the point where I'm emotionally raw, and that's something I need to embrace. Having torn down the walls I'd built around my heart, I've opened myself to feeling emotions in all their ferocity - both joy and sadness, both love and pain. And feeling them to their extremes is ok, good even. Not too many years ago, these past few weeks would have left me devastated, in pieces - or I would have numbed myself to the pain. Not now - now it is an opportunity for me to open my self to God's most excellent harmonies


Through the torrent of emotions that have relentlessly overcome me recently, one constant has remained - the utmost certitude that I am loved.

A safe haven in which to unleash my sadness, frustration, and pain, my husband has listened patiently and taken good care of me. Phone calls from loving and concerned friends buoyed my spirits and helped me keep moving forward rather than becoming mired in the insanity. The love of my God, always. 

I feel a shift happening in my life - like a turn in tides. Leaving behind what doesn't work for my life, I am pulled toward pursuits that call to my soul. I journey on a little tousled, but better for it. 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Room to Breathe

Room to breathe. That’s what I need. Winter’s cold dark days have closed in on me. Recent stresses have taken their toll, and I have had little time to process. I need to open the windows of my stale soul to invite in fresh, new life.

I’m taking time away from everything to sit with myself and figure out what doors to keep open, which to close, and what new paths I might want to take. I need silence to be able to hear my own voice. I need solitude to be able to figure out my own energy and where it needs to be focused. I need space to be able to center myself.

I ran away from home by going home. Spending the night in my childhood home while my parents are on vacation will hopefully provide me with the necessary atmosphere to get rid of some stress and find some clarity.

I’m taking a break from everything other than what brings me joy and feeds my soul. And my body – I stopped by my favorite gluten-free bakery for a gluten free vegan pizza and a cupcake on the way here.

Taking a day away from the chaos of my life, I hope to emerge renewed and refocused - or, at the very least, rested for the journey ahead.