I admit it…I’m an American Idol fan. I’m not a fanatic…I don’t call in to vote, or obsess about my favorites, but I do watch it religiously every week. It is always exciting for me to see young, undiscovered talent, who would never otherwise have this kind of opportunity, break into the music business. I love music, and while my ears have near perfect pitch (due to the efforts of a tyrannical piano teacher) my vocal quality is best used in a huge choir where I can blend in and never be singled out. What a wonderful gift it is to sing , in fact the best fantasies I have are being able to belt out one of those high, strong notes. Anyway, last night’s program involved the final four, and I wept like a baby during many of the songs performed. Perhaps it’s been a long week, but it felt so good to be moved by something beautiful. I was relaxed, and felt the same kind of calm that I do after a massage. Of course it helped that I was the only one home…the men in my house snort and choke on their laughter that I am lame enough to cry over something beautiful. In the quiet solitary of my room, I could weep and blow and do that ugly cry that Oprah talks about with reckless abandon. The world seemed less bleak afterwards, though. The music literally tamed and soothed my soul.
Monday, I started this post after my eldest son successfully passed his driver’s exam but finished it a day later, and what a difference a day makes. After he finished his road test, his first words were “I feel giddy, mom.” You could see the new-found freedom on his face…He was already planning his cross-country trip to Comicon in LA this summer to which I replied…”Over my dead body…just because you can drive by yourself in a car legally doesn’t mean you’re going to drive BY YOURSELF IN A CAR ACROSS THE COUNTRY!” I felt compelled to drill into him the rules that he will abide by, that amazingly enough I’ve been repeating like a mantra since he was thirteen and was devastated because he believed literally that when you became a teenager then you could drive… I found myself repeating those same axioms most parents repeat when they realize the very same person who can’t remember to eat the sandwich he made for himself because he got distracted by something shiny, is on the road directing motor and metal at speeds up to…well I don’t even want to think about that. I was glad he faced this rite of passage successfully, yet had that sick feeling in my stomach when I called our insurance agent to add him to our insurance. Before the agent could even get back to me on how much our rates would go up…he had an “incident” which I won’t elaborate on, because it isn’t fair to him…and yes there is a huge but….BUT the universe was giving him a big in your face about not listening well enough to your mother’s wisdom. So the parking permit he got for the highschool will sit safely in my purse, and he will exist in indentured servitude this summer paying off his deductible. I watched his face collapse as I told him that half of any paycheck he got from working would go to his college fund, and another fourth would pay us back…this is after the government takes a third for their share. Life is tough sometimes. Truthfully? while I’m glad the incident was relatively minor, and he is learning a major life lesson, I do wish he could have had more that 24 hours to celebrate that sense of independence a driver’s license brings.
I’m of a split mind today. While the rest of the world is celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden, I can’t in all honesty say that I feel all that celebratory. What I do feel is relief, a bit justified and a quiet unrest that somehow when we put vengeance in our hands and out of God’s that we have made a great cosmic error that there will be a reckoning for . I’m reminded of a theological argument with a friend of mine on whether or not, had we the opportunity, we would have assassinated Hitler. I said I would not. I think the fact that Hitler died in shame by his own hand prevented him being lauded throughout history as a martyr for his cause. I can’t help but think it is a lack of faith in our God that we put his death in our own hands. I think of how Saddam Hussein was put to death, and what a coward he turned out to be. I kind of wish it were the same for bin Laden. If we could have forced him to stand trial for his crimes, or at least had him take his own life to prove his cowardice, it might have had a greater impact for change. That fact that his own wife was used as a shield to save him is such sad proof of his black nature. He is dead and there will most likely be pay back from other terrorist groups. I’ve been focusing on the sin of Eden, the arrogance of standing on an equal with God, we should know better than to make that mistake again. While I’m moved by the patriotism, I certainly don’t want to revisit the arrogance that an extreme patriotism can bring. Might doesn’t bring right. We are not invincible. God is not exclusive to America. I hope we can remember that as we move forward.
In a flurried trip to Wal-Mart…which is usually done with my gaze averted, because 85% of the “Wal-Mart People” pictures travelling around the internet must frequent the Wallmart in my area… I was suddenly overwhelmed with the most intoxicating smell. I slowly raised my gaze to a table full of beautiful purple plants. I don’t really have a green thumb, but since the table was labeled, “hyacinth” I figured that would be my new favorite flower. I brought it with me to work, and it’s effect on all our patients was unbelievable. Everyone stopped for a moment and asked what that new fresh smell was (just a note, I have aromatherapy candles going all day so it already smells great at our clinic). It was the perfect introduction to Easter weekend, that glorious smell was the best evidence that the last vestiges of winter are finally gone, and spring has arrived in all her glory. To be able to sit outside and enjoy Easter brunch with my family in beautiful warm weather just magnified the spirit of the day. The world is truly resurrected.
So, I had these great thoughts about honing in on what the word “rich” truly means…and why it shouldn’t revolve around material things, you know it’s harder for a rich person to go through the eye of a needle than to get into heaven, and all sorts of anecdotes about true wealth is health, family and love in your life. Then a sequence of events happened that changed the whole tenor of my musings, 1) I had one of several altercations with my teenagers ranging from cleaning the buggers off the wall in their bathroom..(I told them I didn’t care whose they were)..to not standing in the shower for a half hour doing nothing but soaking up all our natural resources and leaving nothing left for their parents to shower with; 2) Seeing Donald Trump on the Today show pontificating how sick he is of the world treating us badly and how he would tell China to go and stick it…(my paraphrase) all with his ridiculous comb over and the fact that he is richer than Mitt Romney is one reason that he is the better GOP candidate; and last, and not least 3) Sitting and waiting at the clinic on my day off waiting for FedEx to pick up a package that was supposed to be picked up at 9, and it’s now 1:00…( I could actually say screw it and wait until tomorrow, but said packages contains excrement for lab testing making it is very time sensitive…)
So, when I think of riches in this moment, I think that being truly rich means living in a world where people understand on a fundamental level that the success of this planet depends on 1) cleaning up your own mess, and doing it a way that saves resources for others: 2) understanding that extreme wealth is in no way equivalent to or remotely related to good leadership and 3): no matter how hard you plan, sometimes you get stuck…with shit.
We have had some tumultuous times with the young men in our house lately. The struggles of growing up have caused a lot of heart-ache and conflict, and I know I can’t fix their problems anymore…they are young men after all. While it is hard to watch them be hurt because they dance their individual dances and others don’t like them for it, I know that in the long run they will be so much better men because of it. In those moments after someone has bullied them, or acted cruelly and I think my heart will break…just for a moment, I think of Mary. I try and imagine what must have been going through her head in the days following her son’s arrest and then the moments leading up to his death. How would I feel after being blessed with this great gift and watch as his ministry unfolded only to seem to collapse at the last moment? How could she handle those that betrayed and abused him, and be powerless while he went through the degradation and pain of his torture and death? When I measure her faith against mine, I am obviously found wanting. But as much as her faith was great, I never wanted to rationalize my way around my own limitations by putting her in another category of super human to which no one could ever come close… because it just doesn’t seem fair. I don’t ever want to devalue how difficult it must have been to continue having faith that God knew what he was doing, that her son knew what he was doing. Her great faith in such a horrendous time, gives me faith to tolerate the simple growing pains that my children go through. Sure, I still want to beat anyone who hurts them into a pile of mushy organic matter, but then I breathe and have faith in those difficult lessons that help us grow, and in turn give us even greater faith in our future. Hopefully my sons will learn that it is the times of the greatest pain, when faith is most necessary.
I found this picture on Google images, and it pretty much sums up how I felt about this last snow storm….Just when I get my green on, hell has to go ahead and freeze over. I didn’t stop muttering under my breath until I could see my driveway again, which was awhile. Normally, I try to make the best of it…I really do, but between the unbelievable amount of snow we’ve gotten this year, and the cold, and the pneumonia, for the first time I think I may have reached my limit. I was teetering very closely to the edge of pessimism turning me forever into one of those “glass half empty” people. And then I turned on the news, and compared to Japan, or Haiti, or Chile, Libya New Zealand I should be dancing with Rainbows coming out my butt because I am lucky that my family, home and town is in tact. The much needed moment of humility passed when both my son’s, home for a snow day, came charging up the stairs ruining my momentary respite and the ensuing fight revolving around who was in control of the remote brought me back to the brink of despair. I glared at them and took away the remote and returned my gaze to the growing threat of radiation in Japan, for some odd reason it was less stressful than two myopic teenagers. They both realized the error of their ways too late and retreated quickly to make a plan to get the remote back…(which I held ransom for most of the afternoon…I didn’t tell them where it was until all the chores were done, hehehe)
St Patrick’s Day this year marked the moment that I woke up from a long winter stupor. The temp moved into the 50’s, there was that smell of sand and green, and people coming out of the woodwork. It was refreshing to go outside and breathe deeply…which since my stint with walking pneumonia, was actually a moving experience…in more ways than one. Seeing the sun, and walking outside is one of my favorite times of the year. I don’t think most of us remember how challenging winter is until it’s just about gone. For me its the simple things, like not being able to get up my steep driveway with the car, having to bundle up just to walk to the mailbox, the heavy clothing that fills up my laundry room, the dry air in our home that results in cracked hands and chapped lips, the dark when I leave in the morning and the dark when I come home….and worst of all the pale pallor of my complexion. I know all of this begs the question…why live here? I guess it’s because of those first few moments of spring when I am transformed again…and to reminded of what it is like to live without sun and green. I guess I’m a sucker for cycles…because my second favorite time of year is in the fall, when the green edges into oranges and brown and there is a crispness in the air, and the crackle of a good fire at night. Cycles work for me…and it keeps the people who live according to them a bit more sturdy that those in the continual warm…my opinion, I know there are plenty who would disagree with me. The test will be when next week comes and there is a call for more snow…
I remember teaching moral issues long ago, when I tried to impress upon the sophomore class the subtleties in making a moral decision. Right and wrong, good and bad are never really black and white, rather exist in often the subtlest shades of grey. I don’t think they could quite get their heads wrapped around the concept, perhaps it was that the examples I gave weren’t very good, like distinguishing between taking a pen from someone’s desk or locker without asking, or the last piece of pie when you’ve already had your share. Most scoffed at how stupid I was being, and rationalized quite sensibly, that a pencil is only worth a couple of pennies, or the person would never miss it, or justify that the person excluded from the pie really didn’t need it after all and they were just doing them a favor. What I was unable to convey, even after I thought I stated it pretty clearly, is that moral behavior, in large part, is built by developing an ability to distinguish between shades of grey….and the way to do that is one decision at a time, regardless of how simple or inane they might appear. What can I say, I was young…and wanted them to understand that as adults, we are an accumulation of choices just like these. If the first impulse is to justify in your mind why an action is morally ok to serve any “want” at the time then it is a clear indication that your gut is telling you that it may not be. I learned throughout the years from very wise people, to simply take a moment to weigh my options…which in truth most often takes a few seconds. Asking before borrowing something or choosing not to be greedy only increases our souls acuity to recognize shades of grey. Our brains also help us continue on a moral path by creating neuro-pathways, or shortcuts to respond to situations like the ones mentioned automatically after we repeat a certain behavior after awhile. I guess that is why bad habits are so hard to break…just ask my family…it’s to the point that whenever I even open my mouth to speak their eyes roll back into their heads, and I guess I can’t blame them. For now it is safer to opine in cyber space.
I fear in this time, we may be losing the ability to distinguish between shades of grey and the world is growing darker. I don’t know if its because there is so much corruption, rationalized behavior, and greed that we’ve accepted that the growing darkness is inevitable (or it’s someone else’s fault), or if it’s because up against such darkness it is easier to look so much better in comparison. We do live in morally dubious times, and I think the place to start cleaning up all the pollution begins with our own choices…not necessarily the ones involving pencils and pie, but the ones that trigger the rationalization response. I know I’ve had a hard time taking my own inventory when there are so many who don’t, but it has to start somewhere. And I know that I am in no position to throw stones, but do hold myself obligated to develop my own moral acumen…because too many of our leaders and movers and shakers in our world don’t…and why the saving of the world may very well be left in the hands of us ordinary folk…one choice at a time.
I also know that I have my faith in God to help me walk in the world as a moral woman, and not because I can quote scripture or have accepted Jesus into my heart, or because I’m playing on the right team. While it’s true I’ve accepted the great gift of grace, the way that gift plays out in my life is this core belief: that God is love and has imbued me with the Spirit to love in the same way. Often my attempts are messy, and I make mistakes…but I also have faith that God knows my unique heart, and appreciates my particular spin on the greatest force known to humankind.
While the rest of you were sleeping, I was up pondering…unable to shut off my over active brain. I don’t know if it’s a sign of things to come…you know, that dreaded “M” word, but lately I’ve been wide awake at 3:00 in the morning. I have my usual pattern of making some tea, and if I can, just soaking up the silence. The great epiphany I had last night, was how the world seems to be more and more intolerant every day. I know this collective bargaining issue has fired many citizens up, and no one, in my experience, seems to see the big picture here…(of course in my omnipotence, I do…pause for communal groan…) My epiphany was this: no one group should have too much control; the foundation of our country is based on avoiding the corruption that comes with having all the power. Lord Acton Winston said it beautifully, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The checks and balances and separation of powers is what allows American democracy to work, and any movement away from that threatens the central tenants of this great American experiment.
Our particular strain of freedom demands that those of different minds come together and find solutions that represent every constituency, some of which are in direct opposition to each other. Let me remind you all of another important quote, the single quotations are mine: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, the all ‘people’ are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, among them are these, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The word that I pondered a long time is unalienable, which means to never take away. The basis of any piece of legislation that our elected officials put through should guarantee that those inalienable Rights are protected. That isn’t the case here in Wisconsin as far as I can see it…and it really has nothing to do with what side of the fence I stand on. No one group should be able to unreasonably unlevel the playing field. All of us need bargaining power to even things out and guarantee at least in theory, that the right to Happiness isn’t earmarked for those who are in power at any given time.
I also spent a lot of time pondering the way information gets disseminated about the issues that are troubling us politically. The truth really depends on what network you watch. Even the lack of bias in journalism perpetuates the imbalance of power. I saw pictures of aggressive union members acting violence in reference to the protesters in Wisconsin…only there were palm trees in the background….seriously, is that kind of deception necessary in justifying a position, do they think we’re that stupid? I don’t think so, because there are enough valid issues on either side of the aisle, that we really need to address, without all the sneaky tactics. I find it distrubing that we are missing those Democratic senators, they have a job to do and while they may lose… they can’t stay in Illinois for the tenure of their office. If it is true that the people won’t support it, let the people address it in the next election. As painful as that is for some, this whole situation has served as a wake up call that there are serious money issues in this state that we have to face…and all of us need to share the burden of that crisis, especially those who didn’t exercise their right to vote (and that is a whole other story). It will never happen without transparency and truth. Everyone needs to put their real agenda’s on the table, and TALK…this isn’t a poker game where the best hand winds and everyone else loses…because the pursuit of Happiness is a right that we all share.
So, while illness has kept me away from commenting on the happenings in Wisconsin last week, I made a special trip to my office on a Sunday (we’ll be getting up to 18 inches of snow by President’s Day). I think the most important thing I could address is to reign in the vitriol first and foremost. We in the midwest, known for our “niceness” need to let that rise to this occasion and set an example to how two opposing sides can hold themselves publically and work out a painful problem. The amount of passion it raises is proof of that. People don’t leave their jobs because they feel like a day off, are inherently irresponsible, are sore losers or any of the ridiculous….and yes Ido mean ridiculous judgements that are being made out there. I don’t walk in a public workers’ shoes. Their livelihoods are being challenged and they have a right to assemble (great benefit of democracy). And just as strongly, please don’t dismiss the Governor’s claims as a simple backhanded way to stomp out the middle class, because that is as ridiculous too. As much as I may not walk in a public worker’s shoes, they don’t walk in mine either. I have to pay 100% of my health insurance and any money that is left over to squeeze in to a pension fund… means I better never have a catastrophic disease and will work well into my 100’s. It is an unfair burden to place on the state…and the rest of us to keep things they way they are. I also think it is appalling to strip away the rights so long fought for by unions’ in this country, to bargain and negotiate. Isn’t the cry of the the last election to stop taking away the rights of the people? You can’t say that the government has too much control as a platform to be elected and then decide once you’re in office solidify that control. I’ve worked in labor negotiations. It is a common cry of management to say we are strapped we have nothing to negotiate with, that is a bunch of hooey too. There are alternatives, and that is why we can never listen to just one side. Good solutions demand checks and balances, and will only come with a willingness to sit down and be heard, and you can’t do that by taking away the right to bargain. That is fascism in its truest form, when only one view, one solution is accepted and those who oppose are villified…and it is happening all over this country. I’m shocked at how quickly conversations on the social networks become rabid when discussing these kinds of issues. Misinformation and partial truths strike nerves that don’t create the environment necessary to solve the problems we face as a state, and as a union. Our responsibility as constituents is to help perpetuate the civility and open-mindedness that is necessary to reach the kind of solutions that can’t be seen with only one vantage point. I don’t like it when people disagree with me…most don’t, but as the strongest representation of democracy on this planet…we have to, we are obligated to prove this democratic experiment works. So come on cheeseheads, let’s show em’ how it’s done.
Ok, karma police! Stop this insanity!! You need to grab the universe by the lapel and give them a good shaking to leave me the hell alone, or at least give me a signal when someone else is about to get their due, because I am getting killed by the spatter. Please note the distinction I am making here…I am fully aware of my quick turnaround, really I get it. When I screw up, I pay. Now I know I can’t reduce cause an effect to complete simplicity…there is a fractal pattern somewhere here. BUT SERIOUSLY! If I could give the specifics I would…that would in itself cause even more ridiculous karma to come my way. I need a cosmic bath…one with bubbles please.
I seem to run into trouble these days with my teenagers in regard to accountability, homework, language, lying etc., etc. For spending much of my career working with teenagers it is really hard for my to swallow. Not that I never rebelled as a teenager, I think it was the lack of a filter on my mouth and general inability to master the art of deception that kept me on the straight and narrow. In addition, I always carried a deep seeded belief that my speed of light karmic turnaround would throw every deception back in my face anyway. What is even more frustrating is that my sons, who also have my quick karma gene but without my aptitude for common sense continue to believe that if they follow an infraction with “It’s not my fault” coupled with the indignity of being challenged, that they should avoid punishment. ONLY IT NEVER WORKS. I keep thinking that they will eventually learn from experience and my constant reminder that people who never take responsibility for their actions force the universe to keep giving them the same lesson over and over again only in a much bigger and badder way…and the promise that with such beautiful faces such as theirs, they will be the most popular men in the whole penitentiary..(and yes, I did say that). There are so many times I want to yell at them, when caught red-handed “HOW STUPID ARE YOU” but I know that would be mean. (as an aside, being mean and speaking the truth about prison bait are two separate issues) For example, there is no way one can logically defend using a parents credit card for an online gaming purchase without permission, or when the rule for using the Xbox is a minimum of C work, and all your homework in and you get caught using it when you are missing every assignment for the week and failing every class. (exaggerations mine) I’m far from perfect…I was a teenager who like most, tried to avoid punishment. But seriously, you can ask my parents, I never pulled the shit that mine do. It wasn’t that I was more afraid of them than mine are of me, or that I was a saint myself. I was simply figured out that if you do the crime, you do the time. It just didn’t make sense to blame someone else for my choices given the karmic bitch slap that would come quickly if I tried. So, I’m helping them…every electronic device and their machinery is hidden offsite…FOREVER. My prayer today is that they learn to reap what they have sown, and that by doing so they will discover that they won’t dissolve like salt on a leech. Life doesn’t stop because they made a mistake, but until they learn the lesson it certainly will repeat itself…and I really, really don’t want to visit them in prison.
Something about the cold weather, a balmy -30 degrees (without windchill) farenheit shocks me from any and all illusions that might be hovering around my consciousness. While I was listening to the news this morning, besides bemoaning the fact that although school was cancelled for my sons while I still had to be to work at 6:45 a.m., I got even more irritated after listening to politicians from both sides of the aisle staking their moral ground in reference to the general demonic state of China, whether it be human rights issues or the tremendous deficit. Seriously, before we throw stones…we really should look in a mirror at the human rights violations committed on our own soil, and the vast amounts of malfeasance that occurs in business and politics in America. I am astounded at the grappling for a moral high ground that is being done and at the same time cringe at the karmic backslash that will happen if we don’t start embracing a sense of public humility. The best way to stand for justice is to show the world first and foremost how well we can address our own American flaws instead of looking beyond our own American reflection to some other country less clearly visible.
For the majority leaders of our house and senate…You should have been at the State dinner with China. Don’t pretend somehow that you’re free from culpability by not rubbing elbows with sinners, that somehow you’re better or had more important things to do. Be men, and face the fact that this country did in fact dance with what you think is a devil. Otherwise you sound like my children who are oh so willing to point the finger somewhere else.
We certainly have had our share of winter this year, as have many other places around the country. There is one benefit to living in the cold north woods, and the is the “meh” that comes with snowstorms. To most of us who grew up here, we just deal with it. We make sure we hit the grocery store and gas station the day before and simply hunker down. The hard part during the holiday storms was that most of us were forced to move against our hibernating tendencies and actually go outside and socialize and in some instances travel…without the John Deere tractor. I don’t actually have a “cool” outdoor wardrobe…mine is far too functional and I end up looking like a total dork, warm but a dork nonetheless. I know I’ve said this in the past, but I have a gianormous head…so I rarely wear a hat, except for these storms sort of demanded it. So to draw the attention away from my melon, I got the BEST BOOTS EVER!!!! They’re uggs, and my feet are the warmest and most stylish in the neighborhood these days. I just want to stay outside all the time. They take the focus off my head and voila…I’m stylin! even with a hat. So let it snow, I’m ready for ya!
I know at this stage in my life it is common to feel time moving faster and faster…but this year was a total blur. It was a year of forced selflessness, frustration, struggle, growth and a time of moving through boundaries. I’ve always preached that true growth can never be easy, and this year certainly wasn’t easy…but it was worthwhile. I’ve learned to avoid attaching too much definition to a moment, because it all changes with perspective. I’ve learned to expand my perspective and let go of a lot of old attachments, which has expanded these moments into understandable patterns. It’s funny though, that the closer the attachment, the less perspective I seemed to have…especially with my family. The men in my house still remain the central source of my insanity and at time my personal evolution. I am a better person, most days anyway, because of them. As I look forward to the new year, I will not commit to any resolutions, because I’m not sure what that would mean. Of course I want to focus on remaining healthy and sharing my gifts to the world, which also means trying to focus on what exactly those gifts are. I feel like there is more I can do, and my spirit is feeling compressed, like I can’t breathe any more. I know there is much work to be done, and I’m hoping that I will have what it takes to make the journey…I do pray that wherever the road takes me that I am afforded good friends along the way, they add a much needed perspective and celebration to the journey. Happy New Year everyone!
I’ve been thinking about love a lot in this season of love and light. One would think that after all this time in human history, given all the advances we’ve made as a species, that we’d be so much better at love as an evolving force. We have been blessed with so many theologians, writers, philosophers who have expounded prodigiously on the subject, and the divine incarnation of love’s essence has entered into our history…and still we can’t seem to tame this unwieldy force. On my wedding day, my father included this quote from Teilhard de Chardin in his homily “Someday, after mastering the wind, the tides, the waves and gravity, we shall harness for God, the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world we will have discovered fire” I wonder at that phrase, and have struggled with its implication since that day. I understand that love is kind and slow to anger, and the rest of the qualities espoused to it by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. I think more importantly though, is what the gospel writer John says about God being love, and that it is also the opposite of fear. I think that’s the key, to learn to be more fearless in relationships…and that is different for every individual. For me, it is to believe that first and foremost that I deserve to be loved in a way that defies gravity and that I have the potential to love the same way. That is the relationship that I have with God…so it with that fire that I approach this season of light, and pray that I glow with that force in my heart. Blessings to all of you and your families….
Facing challenges is a universal human experience; it is impossible to live life without them. It is also impossible to grow or evolve without them. I know I’m stating the obvious, but it appears to me in this age of convenience and excess that if when presented with a challenge or obstacle, that somehow it’s a punishment from God…or the government. There is a sense of entitlement that is rooted in an elementary belief that if I am good and follow the rules, nothing bad will happen. Now I don’t know about you, but I stopped believing In Santa Claus a long time ago. It doesn’t mean I’m a cynic, I still believe that what you put out there eventually comes back to you, but come on, if our faith is never tested we never grow and learn either.
There was a great book written by Harold Kushner entitled “When bad things happen to good people ” that helped me change my attitude about the suffering that often accompanies challenges by not asking why me, but what can Ido about the challenge to give it greater meaning in my life. We certainly live in a time where challenges exist in abundance, from the economy to the environment. There is no way around it, challenges are everywhere. But challenges don’t always have to lead to something negative. I know many of you could slap me for saying that, but just hear me out. We do have the choice to turn difficulty into riches, depending on what we learn and what doors they may open. Of course there are all sorts of legitimate feelings that come from hard times, and overcoming difficult obstacles that should always recognized, but never dwelled upon.
None of us are perfect either. I know rationally this as an obvious fact which should mean that we’re all works in progress to which challenges are simple opportunities to evolve into something closer to our best selves. Emotionally, though, it is easy to believe that other people are more perfect that we are, making it seem that we had to work even harder to catch up. Just look at our obsession with surface beauty. The perfection myth is just an easy way to keep gullible people down. All of us are broken in one way or another…and keeps the door open on mercy and humility.
Many years ago, I discovered that I had an irreparable injury to my spine…(yes, that is a recent picture) if you follow the vertebrae downward, you can see how they stack upon one another evenly in a gentle curve, with the facet joints (those little toggles/wings that connect them together) keeping in line…until the last one, then you can see how the facet joint is fractured right through, leaving the vertebrae to slip way forward. It is called a spondylolisthesis…and it really means that the top of my spine isn’t really connected to the bottom of my spine any more. I’ve been active all my life, and this really was a devastating blow, at first. When I stopped asking why me and instead asked what can I do now, a whole new world opened up to me. I learned to refocus my energies and discover new interests in other areas of my life. I had to exercise my faith in way that I had never had to before, I affirmed the belief that somehow all things would be well and that good can come from anything. I can’t begin to explain how this difficult challenge brought me to such a greater place. Most people don’t even realize that I have a permanent stress fracture because I never let it define me, but I did bring it up specifically, because I empathized deeply with those of you out there facing your own particular set of challenges, but I also challenge you to use them to your benefit and not as an excuse to build up hatred and blame.
I am really saddened and frustrated by the atmosphere brought about by this troubling time. In a time when most profess strong faith in God, we many are frozen in a mindset of fear and blame and that can never be a good thing. It simply breeds bad behaviors. I see it whenever I turn on the TV or open up a newspaper. I’m tired of politicians and pundits targeting blame and disseminating inaccurate information to keep us desperate and fearful about the future. I keep thinking that we should be better than this by now, given all that humanity has survived up to this point in our history. The mess that our world is in right now didn’t come about on its own, we are all culpable in some measure. I can also be sure that it won’t be fixed on its own either. We need to look forward with hope in our hearts, in this season of light. We all can bring the light into darkness, to not ask why me, but what can I do. We can offer a helping hand instead of pointing a finger and join together to build a stronger structure. That is my Holiday wish, to use the challenges presented to us to create a stronger future….
I know this picture looks gross, but it seemed a perfect visual to describe my psyche these days. Last weekend I was at a charity ball that took place on the McDonald’s complex, or “Hamburger U” as some call it. It was a formal affair, and this is my paparazzi picture of the night. After an elegant dinner, auction and dancing…these hamburglar types came out of the kitchen at 11:30 carrying trays of McD’s cheeseburgers. So here I am, still gluten-free, eating a cheeseburger without the bun…no matter how hard I try to put my elegant on, I will always be the girl with the big mouth. Actually, I was posing for that picture and that big bite on the left? That would be my husband’s mouth. Since I had to pull extra work at a McDonald’s in college, I haven’t been able to look at them since…It was just so funny, this serious and fancy ball raising money for this great charity and everyone has their uptight on. Those cheeseburglars turned the mood around in a matter of seconds. It got crazy after that.