Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 23rd

Three years ago today I almost didn't go to a BBQ . . . and I would've missed out on a life time of happiness.

Three years ago tonight, I met Kyle and I knew about 4 hours into our 8 hours of conversation that long evening, that he was going to be trouble. I also knew that he wasn't the sort of boy I could date because he was the sort of boy I would fall in love with.

It took a while but eventually we got it right. And I am awfully grateful to my friend who kept calling and texting me to tell me coming to her BBQ was not optional which is why I finally got in my car and drove the 30+ minutes to her house. Sometimes it is good to have persistent friends, isn't it?

I'll have to tell you the story of that night later, for now I have to get ready for my date.

For all that is wrong in the world, or in my corner of it, there is one thing that is awfully right. And for that I am forever grateful.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The "I Wants"

I want the things that I assign as grown up things. I don't want to want them, but I do. I want the matching, or okay really eclectic not "matching" but cool furniture that isn't, well, hideous like my current furniture. I want a home of my own - but would settle for the furniture in my current apartment. I want vacations. I want to get married. I want a baby. I want, I want, I want.

For the first time in, it seems like forever, I have a future that I want to imagine. And when I do that it isn't really about the "things" I list above. I imagine being done with school, Kyle and I being married, Kyle having a teaching job and me a school counselor. Despite our terrible school loan debts, I don't think about those in "fantasy future" just panic-inducing future. Instead I have this abstract concept of a home and just hope it has a vegetable and flower garden. We have a kid (see I want to be pregnant but not and I want a baby but really like a 3 year old). We are doing creative thins and all of these images are dripping with sunshine and happiness. But with a sense of grounding and reality. It is hard to explain what lives in my head, but sometimes my mind skips right past this and I think of the I wants out of context.

My friend is pregnant. She is hilarious about it. She calls it her sea monkey (I blame Juno), She is 4 years younger than me and while they (she and her husband) have their problems, they have a home and matching furniture. But I don't really care about that, I don't want the life, I want to be younger and pregnant. Because babies are so so far away and health risks seem to increase - when did it get so scary?

And I want us to go on vacations. To go to the coast for the weekend, to stay in hotels and do fun things. I want us to go to Greece because Kyle has never left the country. I've been to more countries than he has states (and I've been to more states, but that's not the point).

I am happy for the most part but when the wants happen I get sad. Yesterday I tried to focus on my daily mantra. And it helped, but mainly buying my friend a cute onesie (really early I know but Kyle really wanted to) with a little giraffe cuddling with an elephant I had a hard time not being jealous - or sad.

We had dinner with a friend of ours on Saturday and his girlfriend has a 5 year old daughter. So all 5 of us were hanging out and Kyle was teaching her how to play chess and it was the cutest things. She was so focused and he was so so so patient. He is such a good teacher and so good with kids and I can't help but jump to what a great dad he will be.

And I am careful to think, "If I get to have a kid or kids" not assuming that I will because that is a dangerous assumption these days. I have always thought in the back of my head, for some inexplicable reason, that I might not be able to, like a hunch I really hope I am wrong about, but just in case I let it be there to ground me.

Anyways, I am so very happy for my friends who are in different places than me and I know that it was not meant to be in my past - kids etc. But I got married relatively young and had matching furniture and all the things that were supposed to establish a life. And while I no longer long for that back I manage to disconnect from that life and yet think how it is so much later than I hoped for everything. I love Kyle, he is a gracious, good and loving man, he is the partner I could never have asked for and I want so much to be a woman who deserves him, and am trying to be her. Though he seems to think I am enough as I am, I want to be a better person because of him. Which can only be a good thing I think.

But then I get greedy like having a good relationship isn't enough. A house that gets messy so fast, chores that I can't get myself to do, feeling overwhelmed in a life filled with time - time that I don't use wisely. I get stuck. And in that stuckness there is a chasm where my depression lives and sometimes it overflows like rushing water and it takes over the sane and grateful woman who lives in my heart and the "I wants" get bigger.

So I will go ride my 10 miles on my exercise bike and do my physical therapy and call about volunteering and try to get some other things done - DMV, buy wooden beads (trying to make prayer beads but I only have pretty plastic things and old necklace pieces and I find them more distracting), trying to become someone who is less of greedy me and more of who I feel I am meant to be or who I already am but sometimes forget.

Because "it is" - that is my meaning of life. It Is. You know the old joke, man makes plans and God laughs. Not because He's mean but because that isn't how it works.

I will go learn what today's mantra is and memorize it prayerfully and hopefully step towards the less of me idea. Because when am I truly happiest? When I am serving someone else. I want to - I want to, want to.

Thanks for reading what feels like a lot of whining.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

p.s. DMV . . . might have been right

I, er . . . may have been confused about the paperwork. Still am. Found a title, maybe, but am totally confused. Perhaps I shouldn't have made the poor DMV man feel bad for making me cry. I reassured him that it wasn't his fault. He either felt bad or thought a crazy woman in need of pharmaceuticals at his window. Maybe both.

Where She Stops . . .

It has been a roller coaster today. I have faith - I am panicking - I am crying - I am calm - I am anxious - I am sad - I am empty - I am full. Up and down, round and round. It is like that isn't it? "Round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows."

I am guessing it never really stops. But sometimes we fly from one merry go round to another. It feels like one planet to another sometimes. Like we do not know who we are, we do not know what we seek. We want to be happy, we want to be present, but we get stuck. I just watched a movie about being stuck, rather getting unstuck (The Go-Getters).

These words seem to capture these sentiments:

“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be”

Marcel Pagnol

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

Anais Nin

I guess as long as we are growing we can try to stay unstuck. But being unstuck puts us on a new merry go round. I am hoping for the next one to come soon - this round has been tough.

Oregon DMV is Wrong & I am Right

They are wrong and I am right but that does not seem to matter. I tried to order a replacement title for the Beetle (where is mine? why is the place where it was in my VW file now empty???) and they said that they needed Jason's signature. To which I responded, "No, no I don't. The car is in my name, has been since 2007." Anyway the very nice man (sincerely he was nice) and I played cat and mouse but because I am the mouse I lost. DMV is going to look at their microfilm of scanned records and see if I am right and they are wrong and if someone there re-added Jason to my title when they were processing it, not seeing his release on the original title that I turned in to them in 2007. Of course the title I have SOMEWHERE would show that it is just me. Just Heather. But would that help? Would they trust their computer more than their document?

So I was writing in my last blog about trying not to cry at inappropriate times. The problem is when you don't cry at appropriate times the original plan backfires and you end up crying at DMV.

It felt like my divorce was so present and like it is never going to be behind me. Been legally divorced since April 15, 2007. Easy to remember, it's tax day and I remember thinking that it was funny that it was on a day that would stand out. That and the following summer Jason said, "Look we have a new anniversary to replace the old one - July 15th - it is April 15th, the divorce anniversary."

Oddly I did not find that to be funny. Much like my experience at DMV. Not funny, just a pathetic 30 year old woman crying because she can't get a new title and therefore cannot sell her car. The selling of the Beetle was part of the master financial bail out plan of 2009.

Back to the waiting.

While waiting for my number, 349, to be called at DMV I read one more thing on prayer in L'Engle's book, "To ask is to be human. To know that answers are not going to be given, and yet continue to be willing to ask, is to move into maturity. . .Only where there are questions can there be acceptance."

I am not feeling particularly mature.

The Root of All

Money is my weakness. Not the great desire for it, though envy does most definitely arise, but the presence of financial security. The world seems to be falling apart. While Madeleine L'Engle wrote that 'sometimes it is good to remember that it has always been this bad.' it does not feel good. Not today. Not when I am looking at my bills. Looking at the need.

Everyone is in need: body, spirit, mind, love and even economy. Lately I have let my weakness overcome me. It has scared me to the point of tears and frustration. I have let it control me, let myself be mean to people I love because I had let something that is both tangible and intangible take over the space I need in my mind for love and for the effort of accomplishments.

What do we do when we have no safety net? What do we do when we do not know what to do. Yesterday this phrase came into my mind and now I think I know why: "The best thing I know is my not knowing what to do." And it is the best thing I know about this. I do not know what to do. And knowing that does not bring me comfort but it can help me find peace. There are things that will go. Things that I like, some that I need. But they can go. I look at them and think, but it is not much money I will save when I cut them out - but it is groceries and gas money. It is getting by money.

I have been reading about prayer. About prayer and what feels unanswered. It feels like the world is going unanswered. The economy is sinking so many and it feels like it is happening everywhere. Aid is being cut. Families are going hungry. More families are losing their resources, the percent of children and families in poverty grows. And I live in fear of anything like that occurring. Happening to us or our loved ones. But what does prayer mean in this?

Perhaps it is the same thing it means in praying for someone with a terminal illness. Sometimes a miracle will occur but others, and more often, the kind of miracle we want - the physical one - will not. And the people we have prayed for do die.

My friend and I were recently writing about the place of God in our lives and he shared the journey that brought God into his. And much like what I have been reading of late he wrote:

"Life is not without its' twists and turns but it is in the storms and hard times that make us who we are. It is in the midst of our darkest hours when we see truly what God can do and what we are truly made of. If we never hurt we would not trust God to heal us, if we never wanted we would never know that God can provide, if we were never lonely we would not know that God is our closest friend."

I have scarcely let myself cry for months now. Trying to learn to control the tears in hopes of being able to control them at times that it is better not to cry. But that means I have not let myself weep. Jesus cried out to God asking why he had forsaken him, telling us that we can cry out to God. We can cry out, we can silently let words and love and needs fill our hearts.

Or we could sit. Pretend that these things will pass or that we, as vulnerable and broken people, can control it all. I see that I cannot. So I will pray. I will not expect answers or sudden amounts of money, I will still hope for things to stay safe. But mainly I will hope for what my friend said above, that in the end of the hour or the day God can be my closest friend. And it will be okay for me to cry.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jazz, God, Mental Illness and Really Good Black Bean Soup

What do all of those things have in common? Ah, my Sunday night. Kyle and I went to this church my friend Mary had told me about called Augustana Lutheran. Sunday nights they have their Jazz/Gospel Service. It was Pentecost Sunday and sitting in this hot church, listening to jazz & gospel (some much more jazz than gospel) and hearing about the surprise of Pentecost was interesting, refreshing.

The Reverend spoke of how every year the men who came to the Pentecost festival knew what to expect and then this one year it was different. It was surprising. Some blamed in one the wine - but it was only 9am and Peter responded that 9am was too early for drinking to be involved (note he did not say it was impossible or even unlikely, just too early, what kind of parties did they have in biblical times?). Anyway in the sermon this moved to discussion on the uncertainty of life and expectations, to God's surprises. And how the holy spirit came and the young men then had visions and the older men dreams and that it did not matter if they would see the dreams completed in their life times, but that there were these dreams. The one spirit brought the one message and through the use of language was able to communicate to everyone at once, inclusively. The spirit communicated the power of God to change lives and so to change the earth.

Something I found interesting was the big picture perspective that was shared. Rev. Bill talked about how the pouring out of the spirit was essentially the return of Jesus in a different form which enabled us to embrace more of life and creation. He said that we get to see, with new technologies for example, more of the cosmos, we get to embrace something so much larger that God too embraces. A God who loves the world, the cosmos and all that are in them.

So after church we went to this place called the Blue Monk for dinner where I had this absolutely amazing Black bean soup with creme fraiche and cilantro. As I am eating my really good soup this man comes and sits at the table outside the window. He starts taking all the cigarette butts out of the ash tray and smoking their remnants - of which there is little. And he gets increasingly amped up - starts talking to himself, louder and more quickly and starts rocking and shifting, fidgeting. And I started thinking of mental illness. The pain of untreated mental illness. And how many people probably don't even know that they are "mentally ill" by which I mean that by living without many resources they do not get to know there is a different life out there - or were resources available there could be.

And then I thought of how God so loves the cosmos and all within them and yet here I am, surely blessed and struggling with my own very deep sadness and I scared of others who suffer with mental illnesses. Scared and not helping. Retreating to a shell.

On the day of Pentecost the holy spirit, the one spirit, came and brought the one message and it was inclusive. It was not exclusive to any. Why am I?

About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: http://themessinessoffaith.blogspot.com/ And my comments and anecdotes on life at: http://sheisaworkinprogress.blogspot.com/

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel