Monday, February 28, 2011

too late to take it back…

I was all the way out the front door to head to school when the panic hit. What in the world did I just do?!?! What on EARTH was I thinking?

I wasn't thinking. That was the problem. I was reading. I was listening. I was responding. Now, I'm wishing I'd been thinking.

But if I'd thought about it, truth be told, I wouldn't have done it. I wouldn't have set the goals to finish not only my rough draft but THREE formal book proposals by the end of the year. I wouldn't have made the commitment to treat this like a part time job and give it 15 hours per week, minimum. And I wouldn't have taken Chris Guillebeau's advice to "amass a small army" and broadcast it to over thirty of my friends and family for prayer and support. Because NOW that I'm thinking about it, that is CRAZY. And I'm wondering if I can do it. And why on earth I thought I could.

Something got stirred up over these last few weeks and I stepped out in faith and put things "out there" and now I'm wishing a little that they were still the tidy, quiet little pipe dreams inside of my head that a few people knew I entertained but didn't know to what extent my mind went with them. I want to push the little blue "undo" button and have the words disappear and with them my newly-voiced intentions. But it's too late. And that is both a good thing and a bad thing.

It's too late. I've put it out there. You've read it. You know the secret desires and fears of my heart. And you will know whether or not I achieve them. And that is a fearful, vulnerable thing. But I'm tired of living in fear and life-sucking comfort. I'm uncomfortable now. And that will be a good thing, if I live to tell about it.

Of course this is crazy. And impossible. And improbable. And thousands of people do it every year. Why the heck can't I be one of them?

All things are possible with God. Stepping out. Taking risks. Getting uncomfortable. Fighting back against fear and doubt. Putting words on a page. Turning pages into chapters. Turning chapters into books. It is possible.

But not if I don't try.

What in the world did I just do? I thumbed my nose at fear and pushed comfort out of my chair at the computer. I put words down on a page, which is all I am able to do. And as for the rest of it that is out of my hands, I asked for a little bit of help and a whole lot of prayer. Which seemed like a good idea at the time.

And still is now.

Friday, February 25, 2011

master orange belt

Scenes from Buddy's Taekwondo belt test tonight.

Sparring with a black belt. Nice shot.

And taking one down to the ground!

Breaking his board on the first try!

Way to go, Buddy!

raising a glass...

There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half-full, say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half-empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!

Terry Pratchett

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Today is a writing day. Which explains why I've been blog surfing. If you write too, you know what I mean.

Surfing, today, took me back to Jeanette Fulda's blog, where I'd not been for a while. (Truth be told, I've not been anywhere in blogsphere for a while.) I don't know Jeanette personally, but I was drawn to her blog two years ago after reading her weight loss memoir, Half-Assed (which has to be, I must say, one of the greatest titles EVER). She is a delightful writer, with a clear, witty voice, and I was both delighted and slightly jealous to see that TODAY was the release date of her second book, Chocolate And Vicodin: My Quest for Relief From the Headache That Wouldn't Go Away. As a chronic headache sufferer of the 40 year variety, I had to smile and shake my head. (Not at her pain, mind you. That would be bad karma. If you believed in karma.) No, I smiled at her inventiveness and success at writing a book about it. And then, I smiled even bigger.

Why? Because usually this kind of thing would have sent me into despair. What I am thinking? How could I possibly think I could do this? Everything I have to say has already been said. No one wants to hear from me. I'm wasting my time. And so on, ad nauseum. But interestingly enough, not today.

Today, I thought, I could really do this. There's NO REASON on earth why I couldn't do this. This woman lost around two hundred pounds. She wrote and published a book about it. She got a headache. She wrote and published a book about it. If she can do this, you can do this. What on earth are you waiting for?

What on earth am I waiting for? Nothing. At least not today.

I chalk part of the change in my attitude up to having been reading The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau for the last several nights. (The rest I chalk up to a greater work of God within me that I'm not ready to talk about just yet, but which probably includes said book.) I'm half way through the book, and I've already used up half a pad of sticky notes. This is a hearty endorsement. Believe me.One of the very first things Chris urges you to get clear about is determining what are your core life values. I think I could say pretty clearly, without hesitation, that I value adventure, freedom (not of the "you-can't-tell-me-what-to-do-I'm-the-boss-of-me" variety, but of the "I'm-no-longer-bound-and-able-to-choose-what-I-do-from-here" variety), true intimacy, and hope. These are values, among others, that stir within me, creating discontent and sometimes even motivation. But.

But there's a problem. When I look realistically at my life, and the way I LIVE my life, you will see that I clearly value other things more. Comfort. Security. Ease. Protection. Self. Keeping up with the Jonses. I can see it. Can you? You can be honest. It's okay. Because I know you do. And it's time I do something about it. Because it's no wonder there is discontent. That doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure it out. I'm living in a way that is contrary to what I say I truly value and desire. I'm going to need to make some changes.

And I'm going to need to take some risks. Hence this post. I am taking a leap. I am through looking at and treating my writing as a hobby. It is now a part-time job. (With any luck and a lot of prayer, perhaps it will even follow the path of my other "part-time" job which is growing so steadily I cannot contain it.) My goal is to start at a commitment of 15 hours a week spent writing, researching, planning, and/or reading, all directed toward the projects I am currently working on, with the hope of moving it to 20. I don't know HOW I am going to do this. That's two hours per day to start with, increasing to three. And did I mention I have school-aged children, who will be out for the summer. But no worries. Because that is where YOU come in!

I plan to create a weekly email list of prayer support people who are willing to lift up the needs I am experiencing that week. I also plan to post once a week my progress. I'm creating accountability AND an army, all at the same time! If you don't receive the email and would like to be on the list, please leave a comment and let me know, and I will include you happily.

Exhale. Wow. I just said it. I've put it out there.

I've put it out there. I will keep it out there. And I will wait, expectantly, to see what comes back.

Feel free to be expectant with me!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

hearing is believing

I'd been told they were there. Indeed, I'd even been told exactly where to look. Take the boardwalk trail to the right, into the woods, and follow it around to the back. That was the best place to find them. And this, in its beautifully stark bareness, was the best time of year to try to get a peek. At least two had been spotted together on more than one occasion, I'd heard. I was hopeful that perhaps with a brief prayer of favor from above, I would catch at least a glimpse

And so it was that I drug my whiney, ill-tempered family out on a cold, damp, gray February afternoon to the very back of Innis Woods Metropark in my excited search for pileated woodpeckers. Ignoring their protests and complaints, I plunged forward into the forest with all three of them in tow, my eyes scanning the tops of deadwood trees, my ears pealed for the familiar cry or the rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat that would give them away. I was certain we would see something. Or at least I was hopeful.

Pileated woodpeckers (think Woody the Woodpecker from an age of kindler, gentler television), for those who are not familiar, are the largest of the North American head-banging, wood-pecking family. Over a foot and a half tall on average, with a wingspan of over two feet, this is not the average downy that comes to rest on your backyard feeder. Not by a long shot.

They differ from the downy, and many other smaller varieties as well, in the fact that they are a bit more reclusive in nature. While the average hiker might see several downys or red-heads or red-bellies on a marginally attentive walk through the woods, it's not often you see one of these really huge, really funny-looking, really cool birds. In fact, I've only seen them once in my 40 years (an event which greatly amused Tom's Aunt Rhoda on one of our trips to the beach, who could not figure out what on EARTH I was so excited about!), hence my anticipation once I learned of their easily observed presence nearby.

We searched for about an hour, making our way slowly and deliberately around the half-mile loop, but in the end it was to no avail. While we saw several other varieties and sizes flitting about and banging their heads, Woody eluded us, all but for his distinct call and his thunderous tapping. Hunger and spitting rain overruled my desire for a second time around the trail, and we headed home having heard but not seen what I'd gone out in search of.

As we stood in the back of the woods, hands cold and binoculars fogging over, scanning the treetops in the direction of the insistent tapping, it occurred to me the metaphorical nature of this quest. Much of this past year has been spent pursuing, looking for, that which I had heard of and could hear in the distance but could not see for myself. Now here I stood, literally looking for that which I could hear and had heard of, but remained unable to see it, despite my patience and best efforts. The irony was not lost on me. I began to question just what it was, exactly, I was supposed to see here.

Normally, this event would have left me disappointed, as many events do—particularly those that do not turn out according to my expectations. (Which would be, of course, most events, given my tendency to expect too much…) But in that quiet space, punctuated by their percussive interludes, I attempted within my heart to try on a different response for size.

The reality was the pileated woodpeckers were there. Of that, there was no doubt. I could hear them clearly, and I could distinguish their calls from all the others. The evidence of their presence was apparent. I could hear it. Just as I at times hear evidence of God, even when I don't catch a glimpse of it. I could choose to be disappointed that I did not see them (or Him), or I could choose to be content with knowing their presence was there and we heard it, and with knowing that if I am persistent, perhaps one day I will be rewarded with a glimpse.

It is hard sometimes to reconcile a belief system that maintains we "live by faith but not by sight" with a Savior who placed so much emphasis on seeing, both physically and spiritually. I have struggled in guilt for 40 years over my desire to see, to experience, that which I hear and hear of, fearing this was evidence my faith was lacking. In the end, I've concluded I don't think it's wrong to want to see, but more importantly I've concluded I can't devalue the hearing simply because it is not sight, nor can I say that His presence isn't there simply because I can only hear but not see. It is a perspective I can make fit, at least for today.

In the end, I did not see what I came in search of, but I did find it. Perhaps this shift is significant. Perhaps I can learn to value that hearing is experiencing. And perhaps, if I am persistent, I will come, in time, to experience fully the measure of all the fullness of God, and my faith and my sight will be one and the same.

Friday, February 18, 2011

moderation, my fanny

I almost didn't do it. I had been avoiding it lately--afraid of what I'd find and what I'd do once I found it. And so I went for three weeks maintaining total abstinence, in complete ignorant bliss, not knowing what the scale had to say about what my body was or wasn't doing. I'd tell you it was a peaceful, serene three weeks without this constant, subjective feedback, but that would be a lie. Feedback, alas, comes in many forms...

Read more at More...

Monday, February 14, 2011

catching my breath

Finally a moment to sit down at my keyboard, and I am without my manuscript and cannot think of a darn thing to write about. Panera is hoppin’ and my meal is finished and my lunchtime-rush limited 30 minutes of free wifi are quickly ticking away, but nothing comes to mind as my body slowly digests the renegade carbohydrates I just scarfed down in order to have time to write. All that blood in my stomach, I suppose. Isn’t that what they say?

A timer goes ignored in the kitchen and a baby screams somewhere across the way and the 20-somethings at the table next to me complain about their boss in hushed but animated tones. Patrons around me come and go, and I put my feet up and settle down into my seat and plan to be here for a while. A chill from the door begins to settle in, and I wish I were closer to the fire. Of course, were I closer to the fire, I would be wishing I were elsewhere. That seems to be the way it goes.

Perhaps it is not so much that I cannot think of anything to write about as it is that I cannot narrow it down. My plate, as usual, is full here as of late. We are back in the physical therapy routine—figuring out school schedules and transportation and what to do for an hour 2-3 times/week while they work at healing the newest debilitating injury. Doctors visits and x-rays and MRIs and massage therapy—there is no shortage of things to write about. Then there was the throwing up second-grader the night before the Valentine party, the weekend spent snorting Lysol and praying none of the rest of us would fall victim to the same vile plague, the upper respiratory crud that has grabbed several of us by the chest and won’t let us breathe. But it’s winter. Everyone is sick. And we, in particular, are always sick. What on earth is interesting about that?

Then again, perhaps it is not so much that I cannot think of anything to write about as it is that there are things on my mind I cannot write about, things I can’t put into words, things that aren’t fit for public consumption. I consider what I could possibly consider as I sit here nursing my luke-warm tea, and I come up with nothing I would possibly feel comfortable exploring in the comfort of my cozy but very public mini-booth at Panera. The tables around the fire are all open now, and I consider moving. An attempt to distract myself, I suppose, from thinking about that which I don’t want to think about, much less write about. I stay put, pulling my sweater around my legs and shrinking and inch or two further away from the radius of the door. Wrapped up and secluded, both inside and out.

The 20-somethings have gone back to work and the baby has fallen asleep and the timer has long since been silenced. But my thoughts are still just as scattered as they were when I first put my fingers to the keys. I consider reaching in my bag for a book, but feel compelled to write since it is the first chance I’ve had in over a week to do so. The urge won’t leave me alone—not now, not ever. It is always there, nagging at me, trying to pull me from whatever it is I am doing at the time. I need to listen to it. I need to give in to it. I need to shut it up, even if just for a few short minutes here at Panera.

My tea is almost drained and my eyelids are getting heavy. Another hour until I pick the injured one up early from school and take her to a new doctor, hoping to find out why the back won’t stop hurting, and what to do in order to fix that. I watch people come and go, and I consider getting up and joining them. I am undecided as of yet, but of this I am certain—I’ve written just about all I can write for today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

ode to lysol

Gold colored can of foul floral scent,

blast through the air and make your descent—

on pillows, on blankets, on bears and on beds,

cover them all until all germs are dead.

Hover and linger, alive in the air,

gobbling it all until nothing is there.

Ridding my home with your magical power

of this plague that makes everyone puke on the hour.

Scour and scourge until all trace is gone,

restoring our health by the breaking of dawn—

Cleanse us of sickness, we humbly pray,

for I MUST be to work on the very next day.