Monday, February 2, 2015

I'm afraid of church.

I cried in church yesterday. Surprise, surprise. Not. However, it was for a brand-new-never-been-cried and broken over reason.  Before you think of me as the consistent church goer I was once, let me be clear, I have been to church roughly a dozen times in the past two years.  It is for a very specific reason I avoid it, well, it was at first. It's also true that at this point I am lazy and like having Sunday morning free. I lived 23 years without it.  The reason I stopped going to church stirred within me and weighed heavily yesterday, more than I have felt in a long time. Yesterday I visited a friend's Anglican church only because it meant I could see another friend who I haven't been able to see in a while. I trekked to Uptown at 9 in the snow, happy and alive, regretting the choice to wear mascara as it ran down my face.

Liturgy, liturgy. I look around. I see people that look like me. Most do. Some look different. Liturgy, song, prayer, song.

Then someone got up and said the prayers that we're supposed to repeat and say "Lord, hear our prayer" after.  I was vaguely paying attention at this point and feeling very little at all in the spiritual department. And I wasn't sure what to do with my hands. I was standing there, listening, feeling kind of awkward.  All of the sudden we were asked to pray for those who have "unbelief" and then I found myself praying Tears started to fall as I realized how long I had avoided this moment, how long I had kept silent.

I looked around and knew that even though I want to believe despite what my life experiences have taught me, everyone in this room must not be bad. There must be some good ones here, too. I'm scared. The truth is, my heart is very hard. I ran away from church people and Christians because God in someone seemed to mean nothing, seemed to reveal nothing about character and yet. Logically, I know there are people influenced by God and religion that are wonderful. Is it why they're wonderful? I don't know. I don't know if God makes someone wonderful sometimes, or if they did it themselves, or both, or what. All I know is two years ago my earnest heart couldn't take it anymore, and I ran away.

If I zoom out and look down at myself, standing in church yesterday morning. Unsure, disinterested. Crying. Barely believing. Still... I'm living out a life that makes no sense, I choose to love people over everything else, and try to do that every day. Why? It's not me. It's not just who I am. It's this gospel that has modified my heart, pushed me forward, changed me. To see myself in church and blame others for my unbelief is foolish. The only person to blame, is me.

I only need to be saved from myself. Over and over.

"All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others, then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?" - Buddha

It's easy for me to love anyone except those who claim Christianity, I think. Guess I have some work to do.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Several blogs have been started and left as drafts the past few weeks. I always end up questioning the motive of why I would post it, these days, and so I don't. That's me being fake humble by the way, don't buy it. I'll post this on Facebook and hope at least one person will read it and like it, because, that's what a writer should do. Writing is a healing act, for me, and my brain goes so crazy with unsaid thoughts that sometimes you just have to indulge me.

What I wanted to tell you about was a little old woman I met today. She is 92. She slowly, slowly crept to the door as I knocked and knocked, impatient and young and wondering why who I thought was going to be answering the door was taking so long. This lovely creature who opened up her home to me for a few minutes this morning was not who I was meant to meet with this morning. We had a delightfully repetitive conversation for 30 minutes or so. As we sat together and I went about my task, she went on to tell me about her life, her husband of 50 years who had passed away 3 years ago, her life in Switzerland, a picture of the boat that brought her to America and of her late husband, and that her grandmother was named Emma, twice. By the time I had to leave I was absolutely beaming at her, I am sure, because, how can you not? If I had had the time to sit with her for hours longer, I would have. Loitering in her grace, soaking up her strong and good kindness. Never mind that she couldn't quite remember what she had said a few minutes before. For someone that knows her, for her son, I am sure that is a sad reality. Perhaps even frustrating. But for me, unexpectedly graced with her presence for a moment this morning, I was only impressed at the impact she had made on me. Do you know the most impressive thing about the encounter? Her handshake. It took us a minute or two to walk the few steps to the door but when I turned around to wish her well she stuck out her hand for a farewell handshake and it was firm. Confident. Assured. Albeit, I was surprised. I felt all the self-possession this woman had in her handshake, and saw her in a flashback as young and poised. Radiating.

I couldn't stop thinking about her handshake all day. I am still thinking about it, feeling it. So I thought I'd tell you. When all we have left is just the remnants of who we are, we still are who we were. Our Soul remains to reveal who, exactly. And so does your handshake.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Wisdom Shmishdom

Many thoughts have been running through my head; questions on Christmas, consumerism, community,  healing, church and other not so noble things like why me? and "boo hoo" and what movie should I watch next as I hibernate away? and that person is a jerk, and so on and so forth.

I went back and read two or three blogs from college, I was 20 and boy was I dumb. Maybe not completely and utterly stupid but what wisdom I thought was worth coming out of my mouth then was ridiculous. I wanted to physically vomit after one in particular because what truth I knew then was not the truth I know now. Some say truth is not fluid like this. That is one of my questions.

The fact of the matter is that what I was proclaiming as beautiful actually turned out quite ugly. Through human error. Through flaws. Through selfishness.

There are too many unknowns than I care for in my life right now. And certainly not enough answers. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

See, I've already said too much. What I meant to come on here to say is...

The shut up and listen route is highly underrated. For us in our 20's, at least. We're the ones that need to hear from you older ones. Speak up. And,

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate.

I'll be here, knitting.

Emma Jean

Sunday, November 16, 2014

(98%) of girls want to be skinnier

I'm completely making that statistic up.

Just to clarify.

But from the conversations I've had and overheard as a woman, it seems to the case.

If you're 11, 12, 13, 14, maybe you're OK with yourself now but God forbid you get some hips. Or strong muscles from all those sports you're playing. Or a little extra tummy from all those beautiful songs you're practicing on the cello. Or stretch marks on your thighs and/or butt from all that amazing growing your body does without us even trying.

The other 1.8% are the can't gain weight ladies that many love to hate. I do not hate you, I do not shame you. I am sorry you can't gain weight and look how you'd like to look. That must also and equally suck.

Really the point is, we want to look different. That's the point.

Oh, and that other 0.2%... those are the ones that are currently completely happy, content, satisfied with every curve, mark and hair. And wouldn't change a damn thing. Not a one.

I'm really, really not trying to shame anyone one way or the other. I'm trying to say...

Like yourself!

Like yourself. Not because someone else will like it, Like yourself.

Here's another reason to stop caring so much about what you look like and what you could change if only...

It doesn't matter. Lipstick is fine. Manicure's are fine. Working out... fine. I'm not saying trying is wrong. But your weight doesn't matter and nobody cares except you, and maybe your doctor.  And whether or not you have some sort of gap in between your thighs or bones sticking out or zits on your face. You know who cares the most? You. You know who has to be OK with you everyday for the rest of your life? You. You know who judges you the hardest? You. You do.

I get Glamour magazine. The December issue is Women of the Year 2014. Some of them are pretty cool. And every page I flip through between the inspirational stories are photo-shopped pictures of beautiful and flawless women (and men). And I mean beautiful in the American meaning... thin. Full lips. Big eyes. Mostly white. No skin imperfections. No rolls. No cankles.

That would be the weirdest magazine ever, wouldn't it. Just a bunch of average, normal looking people. Caught in the middle of their day looking crappy, and windblown, and with a chocolate shake in their hand that they're actually eating.

I don't actually think anything is going to change about magazines. And I think it's stupid that Glamour acts like some sort of Women's advocate. I guess it's better than nothing. Maybe. But it might just be doing more harm than good to pretend like that. I don't know.

I have this weird patch of freckles on my back shoulder that I really like. As long as it's not some sort of skin cancer I don't know about yet. If so get it off of me. I have the longest, ugliest toes and I've never liked my legs. And I'm pretty hairy, in general.

And you know what, none of that has anything to do with my brain, my heart, my ability to be a human and love and care and work and I can freaking walk around and use my legs and I should just be thankful every day I can breathe.

And you should too.

You can breathe. Today.

Like yourself. And like other people. And don't talk about them behind their back unless it's really kind things.

OK. I'm done.

If you want to compare arm hair, I'm always here for you. Always.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Of course you're all right. You're alive.

I watched Garden State this afternoon for the first time in ten years because I was determined it was going to become my favorite movie now. You can venture a guess as to why, or you may know. I'm not really sure if I'm ready to talk about it. Well, it may not be my favorite movie because it didn't have Sandra Bullock in an over-sized coat or looking mannish but somehow still adorable and attractive, which is exactly how I envision myself, I think. But it was pretty good as I remember, and I laughed and cried, because that was the plan going into it. To laugh and cry. So I did.

I was at one of my jobs today sitting at my desk feeling a little sorry for myself and drowsy and medicated and was getting ready to leave. Right at this moment a client of mine showed up and plopped down and decided we were going to have a session and because I selfishly needed the billable time, I agreed. It was also one of the most difficult hours of my life. Truly. It was near agony. It was painful, emotional, scary. And I've had some pretty nasty hours before, and will again, I'm sure. But you know what? We made it through. We made it through together.

I may have messed something up. I may not have said all the right things. I know I didn't. But I was there, and eventually, although far from perfectly and completely, even felt some empathy. I even felt true comradeship with a client for the first time. I was there with her, I was her. I knew her experience, and it was hard to bear. There are therapy-ish ways of saying what these things mean and they are complex and layered.... and all that came crashing down on me when I experienced it for the first time.

I'm not an addict, yet.

I'm not an abuser, yet.

I'm not depressed, yet.

I'm not mentally ill, yet.

I'm not divorced, yet.

I'm not on medicaid, yet.

I'm not homeless, yet.

But what if I was? Would I be worth it? Would anyone care about me? Whether I did it all to myself or some of it just happened because...that's life. Does that matter? How much? Does that determine your value? How much of a human you are?

On a whole new level I am learning that we are all close to our lives folding in on us, balancing precariously on perceived perfection and seeking acceptance, and one day may change our lives. One decision. One mistake. One appointment.

I interact with people all the time that many people view as crazy, dirty, poor, worthless, degenerates, stupid, addicts and at the very least annoying and not worth looking at or talking to. Now more than ever before I feel close to these individuals not just because I see them with my heart but because I am with them. I could be them. I am them.

And we're all alive. And to the God I believe in, that means we're worth it. My hand of cards I was dealt is a royal flush compared to some people's lives. I'm blessed. I don't feel like it right now and I want to be pissed off. But I'll try not to be, and I'll try to be grateful. I'll try to act with grace. Ha. I'll try.

Of course you're all right. You're alive.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

a little bit of hope

I'm only 25, now, without the wisdom of 80 years, without even the wisdom of 40 measly ones. I'll wait patiently for these years. The laughter lines, the grey hairs, the loss and realization of so many unknowns.  The extra weight, both around my tummy and butt and in my heart and soul. The lumps and scars and unborn thoughts and ideas and  a child or two. The love, the forgiveness, the trust. The tragedy and thousands and thousands of tears. How is it that we know, we know these things are before us when we are young and yet we cannot know it at all? Cannot plan for it? To even grasp it, to get a real hold on all that life really is... well, it takes some hindsight. and Time. Time doesn't heal all wounds, and cannot erase some damages, but it changes us, and as we look behind our shoulders at our history, it tells a story and shapes what is to come.  

I live in the present but I love to learn from my mistakes, and there are plenty of them to teach me a multitude of lessons. I wish I could learn all the lessons, all at once, so I could avoid any further discrepancy. This is not how living life works. What gives me hope is that I every once in a late night mulling (and inspiration from several episodes of the all Great and Glorious Parenthood), I realize I managed to not do the stupid thing I did in a current situation that I did in a former one. Hallelujah, give me some kind of award, some kind of participation medal in the game of life for learning better behavior. One way life helps you learn from your mistakes is that if you don't run and hide (and even if you do) they'll find a way to find you. You will be confronted with your enemies, you will have to learn how to love them or tolerate them or say a good word about them. You will have the opportunity to be less of a jerk, tomorrow. And if you don't at least try to let yourself learn from your mistakes, the only person that it will not end well with is yourself.

I have hope in people. It's really, really hard to have hope for some people, but hope can be so small, it can really just be tiny. That's all we need, a little bit of it. A little, little bit.  I believe small changes are possible for all people. I believe big changes are possible for some. I believe God does work miracles. I believe love is a miracle.

We have this huge responsibility as human beings to bump into each other all the time and to try to do it well.  And if you have the ability, mentally, physically, soulfully, to do it well, please, please do. I mean, anyone can. But for some of us it's really hard. Almost impossible. And I'm here to say, I'm not playing the blame game. I'm just here to say that if some can't, it sure as hell doesn't revoke your responsibility to love and treat well if you can. It makes your responsibility that much more important. To love without agenda, without pretense, without worrying if you're going to get screwed over this time. 

I have hope in you. A little bit. You can change, you can do right by someone, even though you missed the opportunity to do so yesterday and the day before that. I have to believe it makes a difference. Even though I don't have the foresight to know, something tells me that when we're 80 we would have rather spent a lot of time treating others well whether they deserved it or not. Join me. Let's change the world. a little bit.

"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" - Matthew 25:40

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A few things I've learned about health, happiness and pizza.

We're all very obsessed with our health these days, aren't we. I'm sure it's nothing new, rather something I have noticed more than ever because of my peers and city culture. Me included. I try to deny it and be stubborn and do the opposite of the current  fad diets and eat a lot of bread and chocolate and stick my snooty nose in the air at it all.

The truth is I do care about how I look and how I feel and even the number on the scale. The truth is I know a lot about what is healthy and what isn't, and I listen and adjust my diet accordingly. The truth is that even though I deleted the stupid fitness app on my phone that depressed me more than helped me, I still count calories in my head. I've done that for years - ever since I took a fitness class in college that made me aware of what a calorie was and how much I should (not) have in the first place.

Actually, I'm really lucky to be a girl and to not have thought about my weight or calories until college. I never once dieted in high school, I was too busy playing on soccer teams and volleyball teams and fueling myself with probably not-so-good food. I suppose I'm glad I know more about what's good for a body and what isn't now, but I sure do miss those careless days of garlic cheese bread at midnight without an inkling of regret. Just pure, cheesy, garlicky joy.

The past few months I got a wee bit too controlling about my diet and my calorie intake. I'll admit it. It didn't last long because I was sad, and I knew it, and then my mom told me I sounded depressed, and I knew I was. And I actually believe that I was, chemically, not feeling well.  I realized after being vegetarian and vegan for 8 months I was deficient in some things my body desperately needed. No, not meat. Vitamins, healthy fats and probiotics that I had been denying myself. Poor body. In my attempts to be healthy, and, "fit", I wasn't giving you what you needed and you suffered for it. Sure, I eat way more vegetables and fruits than the average American. But even that doesn't equate complete health.

So, I'm learning you do need vitamins, and if you have a restrictive diet (or a bad one, I suppose), you need to know what you might be missing.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard about good fats, and sure, I know you need them. Yet until I started actually feeling my mood change without them, and my body yelling at me for not giving them the fats they needed, I didn't realize how much we really. do. need. fat. Consider this a friendly reminder that healthy fats are your friend.

All this talk about healthy this, good that... Man, that stuff can get a person down. Look, I know an avocado smeared on my toast is better for you than butter, and yet, sometimes I just want the butter. And, I have made the personal and executive decision as the person in charge of my body, that that is OK. I know that dark chocolate is better for me than milk chocolate, but as the CEO of me I have decided that I like all chocolate and I won't discriminate.  Plain yogurt does have less sugar than the fruity kind, but cherry yogurt sure does taste better.

The point is, I have stored up so much knowledge about what is good and right to eat, and overall, I think I do a pretty good job with my daily choices and what I need is a little more room for it's gonna be OK. I think those of us that are privileged know a lot about diet,  we have access to a lot of information, and we should be informed about our choices. We also have to be careful not to get carried away. I have seen this mindset of health steal happiness away. I saw it starting to happen to me. I experienced my body and mind weaken. I'm not willing to sacrifice so much for the sake of "health"

I wonder if Whole 30, Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-free, Clean Eating, etc. are really the solution to our health crisis? We do need to consume less sugar. I know, I promise, I know. I hear it every single day. Is it really our bodies that are the least healthy? What about our minds? What about our hearts? What about our happiness? And is it really for health or is it for a size, a number on the scale? These questions. These are important questions to ask when considering a diet change or move to a more healthy lifestyle. There are so many people that do need to eat more healthfully. I happen to know a lot on the other end of the spectrum, who need to be kind to themselves. Who need to eat a milk chocolate bar if they want. Or a piece of bread, one piece of white bread will not kill you instantly. I don't think.

I'm sorry, I don't mean to make fun. This is mixed in with my own struggle, my own failures, my own heart and mind and health. I've learned all over again that I should appreciate my body for all that it can do. The number on the scale simply does not matter. Our minds and bodies are certainly connected, intimately, and we need to be aware of how that effects what we choose to believe we "need" to give or restrict our bodies. What we fill our minds with will influence and impact us. Choose positive stuff to fill that mind - it matters too!

Last night I ate cheese pizza and had a couple bud light's on a boat with my soccer team. I asked for seconds on the pizza, because it was good. I was extremely happy and thriving, not a worry or a fear that this food consumption might set me back a week. It felt so great. I'm not saying the key to happiness is light beer and 4 slices of cheese pizza and you should do it every day. But maybe, at least, once in a while, it is the key to happiness, and the key to health.

Today, I'm not going to run 5 miles to "work off" the pizza. I went for a walk with my neighbor this gorgeous, cool morning. And that's all I'm gonna do.