A Cup of Tea

FB_IMG_1522719415960.jpgyes, so true!

I’m not sure who wrote this, but it is so timely for me and (I hope) for you.

Women, especially, struggle with the concept of belonging. When we sense (or hear secondhand) that a sister, brother, acquaintance or coworker doesn’t like, appreciate, or accept us, we feel lots of different things: disappointment, hurt, betrayal, confusion, etc. We start to second-guess interactions we’ve had with the person, trying to discern “the moment” that we said or did whatever it was that made them change their minds about us.

This activity is the opposite of detachment.

Detachment is recognizing that we need less quantity, more quality. Less neediness, more mindfulness. Less chaos, more peace.

Someone said to me once, “It’s okay that some people don’t like you. That’s their loss, not yours.”

Less chaos, more peace.

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Visit me at www.bookbirthing.wordpress.com to see what I’ve been up to!

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This is a photo that I took on Ellis Island, the portal through which almost all immigrants were processed as they came to America. It seems very hopeful to me, as the goal is in sight, but still: you have to cross an expanse of water to reach your final destination.

That has been my experience for the last three years; although this blog has been mostly silent, it’s been for good reason. I have finally reached the other side of a lifelong goal, which is writing, completing, and then pitching my own book!

My book is about vocational transitions and grieving (in short: vocational grieving), a process that most of us can relate to. It’s that awkward transition between a known country and an unknown one; that expanse between “the devil you know and the devil you don’t”; that chasm between what you had wished for and what you actually ended up with. About Walking a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes: An Introduction to Vocational Grieving, Recovery and Transition.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing 48 ordinary (and extraordinary!) American workers, some of which are immigrant university students. 48 distinct, unique portraits of people from diverse backgrounds: male or female, married or single or celibate clergy, ex-priests and university professors, stay at home parents and blue collar and white collar workers, small business owners and entrepreneurs; Christians, atheists, agnostics. Each describes their journey to their dream jobs (or good-enough jobs) and back again, in their own voices and reflecting their own values, describing their awkward transitions, their triumphs, their tribulations, and lessons learned.

This is, in many ways, my dream job. To give voice to those who have suffered in silence, who have sacrificed for their families and their dreams, who have learned things the hard way and sometimes, through tremendous suffering. To observe the quiet dignity and honor with which people handle transition stress, and how their support systems loved them into, through, and around these experiences.

Because none of us has done this alone! Not even me.

Kudos to my loving and supportive husband, my patient and understanding children, and every friend who believed in me and supported my craft. Creativity is the language of the spirit, and every person who bolstered me while I wrote this book: I will be forever grateful to you!

CS Lewis far better things

This last year has been a whirlwind of medical issues and disappointments, but it has also been very fruitful in the writing department!  I have made significant strides in the construction and editing of my book on vocational transitions; secured more interviews for the book, did (and re-did!) structure and practical issues, and generally, paid more attention to my book than I did to my blog.

I have spent much time trying to neutrally look at how I perceive the world, my past, my circumstances, and the larger issue of fairness. To try to figure out whether pursuing fairness and justice in life circumstances is worth the cost that you pay in the end.

I guess I have discovered this: that the answer is different for everybody. There are some battles worth fighting, and others that are destructive. There is more strife to be found in the pursuit of justice in some cases, than in others. So if I am truly seeking peace, I must face an unfair (or toxic) situation, assess it and then either move on or fix it.

If I stand at a blank wall, shaking my fist at it, it will neither move nor respond.

If I stand at a wall long enough to see a door through which I can travel, that is progress.

I wish that I were wise enough to immediately discern the difference! But alas: I am not.

In the last nine months, I have also discovered this: that an intellect in motion tends to stay in motion, and one at rest tends to begin to softly snore.

The more I write, the better I write, the better I feel, the more I write.

Find your passion, and keep moving! We can neither re-live yesterday, nor predict tomorrow.

So move ahead. Stop looking back.

 

 

Beauty, Courage, Discipline, Sacrifice

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For me, beauty comes in many forms: poetry, prose, fiction, photographs, mixed-media art, sculpture, the smell of old books and mysterious attics, a memory of reading Nancy Drew books while perched in trees, the mystery of the perfect smell of my mom’s pasta sauce, the groove in that runs down the bark of an old tree (perpendicular to the ground), watching my nieces and nephews running around my parents yard in search of plastic Easter eggs filled with jellybeans or loose change. It’s something neither delicate or indelicate.

Courage? Boldness, taking risks, staying committed, being countercultural, sticking to my beliefs while having the flexibility to let God change my mind about something (or somebody), doing something that could cause a scar but gives a rush, holding back from running after my children during their first time on a two-wheeled bicycle, having a willingness to see – and change – my stubbornness or anything else that holds me back from embracing the universe.

The Discipline to tell the Truth? That one is more difficult; some people find that truth is just saying whatever comes to mind – which can engender cruelty; some people feel that truth is too ephemeral to say anything whatsoever; others don’t think that truth even exists. I feel that God’s truth is eternal, Man’s truth is fleeting and amorphous, and my truth is dependent on how I feel that day. So my truth can never actually be depended upon totally, unless tried over time and discerned over days, if not weeks. Discovering this has begun to turn me from an impulsive person who was capable of using my words to wound, to someone who makes attempts to pick carefully so as to avoid harm; but someone who still believes that there are things that are always inherently harmful – racism, sexism, suicide, genocide, disunity caused by selfishness, and hate. When in doubt – I compare it against how Jesus operated in the New Testament – from love – love for God and his fellow humans.

Capacity for Sacrifice? There are states in life that are supposed to be self-sacrificial, but which certainly people fail at. There is somehow nothing more disappointing than a mom who always chooses herself over her children; the damage that is left is self-evident and heartbreaking. It is also alarming to see a father choose his own selfish, sexual needs in order to pursue a girlfriend, over his own wife and children. It is horrible to watch a husband and father denigrate, dominate and abuse a family. It is a failure of epic proportions for a member of the clergy to engage in sinful pursuits, instead of denying his flesh and being spiritually pure. The implication? The Truth? That certain states or statuses afford a higher responsibility in self-sacrifice, and when that is failed, there is a circumference of damage that extends past the self.

May you pursue excellence in these four areas, this day and always.

(Do I find it ironic that the very person who birthed the quote, failed at every single one of these? Yes – but not surprising. Not surprising at all. Because there were moments in which Ernest Hemingway succeeded at them, too, and so he knew how to compare the two states – success and failure.)