Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Seeing What's There

Recently Scott pointed out the freckles that dot my nose and cheeks. I was surprised and asked "oh do I still have freckles?" Now, I've had freckles as long as I can remember. I've always liked having them. I remember my cousin Cindy commenting that my freckles were "well-spaced" when I was in middle school, and how satisfying that sounded to me- at a time when I wasn't able to do much well on purpose, at least my freckles were in order.
My freckles seem to fade a bit in the winter and then pop out when the sun hits them in early summer. With all the camping and outdoor activities I've done this summer it makes sense that they're a bit more vivid than usual. But still, I was surprised with Scott pointed them out. As much as I know about the existence of my own freckles and their well-spaced-ness, I kind of had forgotten about them.
Here's the thing: I look at my face in a 6X mirror every morning! How could I have stopped seeing my own freckles? In all my looking for flaws in that mega-magnified mirror, I'd stopped seeing the very things I liked about myself.
I think this situation applies to so many parts of our lives. How often do we forget the very things we loved about the people we love? How often do we spend so much time looking for God to act one way and miss the millions of other ways that God moves? Are we blinded by familiarity, or do we simply forget to look for the good around us?
I know that for me, my relationship with God grew... was magnified... when I stopped looking for God to appear in my image. When I opened my eyes to see what was already there, I was happy with what I saw. I try now not to get distracted by my own rutted way of seeing, and look for God in places where I least expect. I'm going to take a closer look in the mirror, too, and check out these old freckle friends of mine. I wonder if they're still well-spaced?

Monday, August 12, 2013


Today I went for an hour-long massage, an unbelievably gratifying luxury I've awarded myself, justified by the fact that I get a discount for going more often. Outside of going out to eat, I'm not a huge spender by nature (check out my fancy car!) so I add that to my justifications. But hey, why am I justifying it to you?
Anyway, I love my massage therapist, who kicks my muscles' butts (oh yes, muscles have butts) and is just gifted and lovely. Today I breathed into it and asked God for a word, a sign to help me be present and relaxed this week, my vacation week. I got a word, and a sign, all in one:

I lay there thinking about how we still use this word and how surprising it is that it hasn't been replaced by something dumber. Then I thought over what word might replace it... I define the word as giving up something, to someone else... to someone else's control. The replacement word eluded me for about half an hour but when the therapist tackled my feet I thought "surrender." That's the other word for yield, and that's why it hasn't replaced the word yield. Nobody likes to surrender, myself included.
But it also occurs to me that just about every time I pray for a word from God, the word I get is surrender. It's something I must be reminded of, over and over. I pray for a relief of stress, and I'm asked to surrender. I ask for something to be cured or fixed and the suggestion is to surrender. I beg for direction, for answers, and the answer is... surrender. So, I yielded to the skilled hands of my massage therapist, I'm yielding to vacation, yielding to the passage of time at work without me there, yielding to the passage of time altogether. For now, anyway, until I find myself seeking help again.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Sit down and say Ahhhhh

Today is the first day of my vacation, and it comes at a crucial point in my year- just before the pastoral poop hits the fan, if you will. When I get back, I'll have about a week to get ready before EVERYTHING starts again- in fact while I'm gone, people will be hounding the office with registrations and questions and issues, which is all stuff I never had to deal with before taking on these new responsibilities at the parish.
All that made the last week BEFORE my vacation more fraught than usual. There was so much to do and to think about, and an equal amount of stuff that I should have been doing all summer, and had to forgive myself for delaying even longer. Very stressful.
So when I left, I expected to feel like I was taking off a heavy backpack, that I should float out of the building and into the sunset stresslessly.
Instead, I decided to tackle home chores and get them out of the way- grocery shopping, specifically, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I love the instant gratification of ticking items off a list, and love having a full larder, but I hate putting groceries away.
All this is to say that it is taking me longer than I'd like to switch into vacation-mode. Rather than flipping a switch to relaxation, it's more like turning a (small) ship. I have a massage appointment on Monday so if I'm not at ease by then, that should help. The weather is helping by providing me a gross, rainy day today so that all I can really do is read books or watch cooking shows, which I guess I appreciate! It helps me temper my "I should be doing something" anxiety.
On that note, I'm off to take my first stab at vacation idleness. Ahhhhhhh...

Friday, August 02, 2013

7-Quick Takes, No One Wants To Hear Your Pet Stories Edition

I have a weird brand of writer's block, where I can only write an opening paragraph about anything at all, and then if I try to carry on it just becomes a tortuous, random-search kind of text-vomit that no one would want to read, except maybe a curious psychoanalyst, happening on this blog by mistake. My only hope at readable anything is to write within  a structure like "7 Quick Takes" and so, here goes.

1.Our home is full... FULL OF LOVE! You probably know we have two cats (just barely adult, a bit over a year old). Now we've added Callie, a nine-year-old collie/golden/shepherd mix. She is lovely and practically perfect (but for one issue, see below). We got her at a groovy shelter and took her home about 4 days after first considering even possibly thinking about maybe getting a dog. Whirlwind.
2. The first night, we panicked because she lunged after our beloved cats. We had decided to keep her on a leash for the first several days, so we could bond with her and really be able to observe her. I'm glad we did it, and it was definitely helpful (if a pain/headlong plunge into parenthood: "hold the leash while I go take a shower...") what I couldn't figure out was, what to do overnight? Do I sleep with the leash looped around my foot? I asked our dog-owning friend PJ and he said "don't you have a baby gate?" Well, no. Do people have baby gates?? We ended up rigging a window screen across the bedroom door and overnight-ordering a fancy one (with a cat door!) at great expense. We stopped using the gate about 5 days later.
3. The cats are young and pretty adaptable (as opposed to our ex-cats, who were old and did NOT like dogs) so we thought it would work out and it has. Charley is still not in love with Callie, and doesn't like his space invaded by her, but he's not afraid. Katy is absolutely not afraid and often will eskimo-kiss Callie on her way by. Cute!
4. Callie suffers from "leash aggression" or "barrier aggression,"  which is to say that when on a leash, she growls and barks and lunges at other dogs (and cats). Face to face, she's lovely with other dogs, but on a leash she's a madwoman. True to my personality, I've been researching the issue exhaustively and trying different techniques.
5. Callie is not a submissive dog- she IS mellow, which helps in all areas, and she's been trained mostly pretty well. But she doesn't particularly care to please me, is only mildly interested in praise or treats,  and is mostly unphased by correction. I've had some success with distracting her and we've been working on keeping-on-walking when we see dogs. I've been teaching her to look at me when I say her name, and that's going well, and it turns out she knows how to heel!  
6. All things considered I have to say that adopting an adult/elderly dog is the way to go. I can't imagine how much work it must be to house-train a dog, or to every-other-kind-of train it. I know we may not have many years with Callie but the years we have will only involve outdoor pooping, and for that I am thankful. Also, her original owner died (young0 in her fifties!) of cancer, so, you know, she was an orphlan. From the orphlan home (that's a Meet Me In St. Louis reference.)
7. Callie wags her tail in her sleep. Need I say more? She is the best dog ever.
Did you know that blogging from an Ipad is nigh onto impossible? I'll have to post pictures later, including a link to the host of 7QT, www.conversiondiary.com, so do come back.