Thursday, March 4, 2010

Getting to know me

Another excellent adage is "what a difference a day makes". I'd like to add a good night of sleep, and getting back on my every 8 hour Ibuprofen. I feel much better this morning. I go at 11:20 for my post-op visit, and the rest of the day is relatively unstructured. A friend is coming over in the afternoon and bringing Starbucks coffee (only coffee for me - the frappes and other exotics don't tempt me at all). That will require only that I set my need to clean the house including drawers and closets aside (so she won't think I'm a crappy housekeeper, which I totally am, so is she, so cares...) and just anticipate her visit happily. Can do!

I'm just home from the morning meeting, which was great and got my head screwed on right. Made a delicious breakfast of 1 whole egg, 1 egg white and about 1/2 cup of Egg Beaters scrambled with a little brown mustard whisked in, plus 2 strips of perfectly crisp bacon. A treat, but one I know will satisfy me for hours. Bacon is simply one of the true pleasures in life. I read an article awhile back noting that a bunch of vegans were surveyed as to what food they missed most from their former carnivorous life style...bacon was the number one answer. I don't have it often, but I read Zaa's post a few days back where she talked about not making ANYTHING forbidden in one's diet. She mentioned the breakfast I just enjoyed, and since I've had a hankerin' for me some bacon. And bacon isn't something that keeps calling. I'm not a huge salt person, so bacon is one of my few pleasures where enough is truly enough. For awhile.

Usually I have 2 books going at once. If I have a 3rd, it's on CD and I listen in the car. Usually I have a non-fiction and a novel going, and the sharing of reading time between 2 books makes me a little slow on finishing, unless one is so compelling I can't put it down (usually the novel). The non fiction book du jour for now is what you see at the left.. Leaving Church - A Memoir of Faith. Memoirs are my favorite genre of literature - love, love, love, them and can give some great suggestions if anyone is interested.
My MIL sent me this one for Christmas, knowing that for years I've been drifting away from church as an institution, but always seeking the manifestation of God/Divinity on a daily basis. I'd term myself spiritual rather than religious. We do go to church and our kids are who they are today (wonderful and pretty solid) due in no small part to the role our local Presbyterian church played in their formative years. I show up maybe once a month. Hubby teaches Sunday school. Don't tell me opposites don't attract!

The author, Barbara Brown Taylor is a professor of Theology at a small college in North Georgia who has written 12 books. Prior to her current gig in academia, she was ordained as an Episcopal Priest and served as a parish associate in a huge Episcopal church in Atlanta for a few years before becoming the Priest of a small Episcopal church in A tiny north Georgia town. The title sort of gives away what the book is about - her faith journey from the time she was a little girl. Her writing is beautiful - compelling, incisive and totally accessible. Not a bit churchy or preachy. I've marked this book up so much in my reading that it looks like a Chinese road map; but the other night I read a couple of paragraphs that took my breath away, both for her amazing usage of words, but also for expressing what goes on in my head and heart so accurately.

She's writing about the time between her last 2 jobs - after parish priest/before college professor. She had over 3 months to live in the hallway of one door having closed before another had completely opened. She's discovered the surprising thud created landing in space without any agenda, much less an immediate one. She's close to starting the new job and reflecting on how this unexpected "vacation" has changed her. I'm going to quote almost 2 paragraphs, and that'll be about it. If this is boring to you - then catch me again tomorrow when I'm back to my usual stuff.

"With the new year on the horizon, my three months of unemployment were nearing their end. I had cleaned closets, thinned files, answered most of my mail." (slightly paraphrased for brevity - the rest won't be) "More important, the load on my heart had been to ease. Day by day I felt my soul rising through the murky currents of the past year toward a brighter, warmer place. This part did not feel like my doing, although I knew that slowing down had helped me recover."

"Like many ambitious people, I had developed a dependence on adrenaline. I could get so much done when my anxiety was in the red zone that I learned to live right on the edge of panic in that optimum zone between alarm and collapse. It was my version of running hurdles and I was good at it. As long as I kept moving quickly, there was a great deal I did not have to feel. Sadness and loss were slow movers, along with bewilderment and doubt. Every time I heard them breathing behind me, I put on a burst of speed. But when the tears started leaking out of my on Sunday mornings at Grace-Calvary (her church), I could not find my stride anymore. My feelings caught up with me and escorted me off the track."

Every time I read that, I fill up and feel my throat contract. Maybe in a less important life, maybe without a congregation to serve, maybe with different demons...these paragraphs reveal how I have carved my role in the world as Activity Junkie. Add in too much TV, food, alcohol at one time - whatever helps me stay just ahead of overwhelmed bewilderment. To not feel feelings. Trouble is, when you blunt the fearful feelings, the joy and richness of day to day existence can't help but be similarly numbed.

Just these few weeks of necessary stepping out of my usual running has brought awareness for me of how much I scramble to keep moving. From what? My life is really great. I've tapped many resources over the years that enable me to live fully and freely, yet these old behaviors and habits that keep me at arm's length from my feelings are deeply rutted in my hard wiring. They can all change with intention, focus, tenacity and hard work. But it doesn't happen overnight, or easily. At least not for me.

What I take from this is mainly to cut myself some slack. I have good and bad days. I eat nature's bounty along with incorporated crap. I love and hate. Do the next right thing and f*ck up. But it's all okay, and I don't have to be afraid of my feelings. They are the tether to my truest self and the best indicator of how I'm doing on any given day. And thankfully, for today, I'm feeling grateful.


  1. Profound. Those paragraphs from the book and your comment, both.

    One of the peeves I have with the church's trend toward new age psychology is the whole positive confession, positive attitude and happy, happy activity.

    Those are good things AS LONG AS they are not used avoid the real emotions. Real sorrow, fear, bewilderment or loss. Avoid them long enough, regardless of how, and you will pay the price. When that avoidance is church-led and encouraged the cost is astounding.

    This post revealed the trap of "good things" so well! Thanks.

    And I'm glad you're feeling better!


  2. I will be adding this book to my "must read" list. Thanks for sharing Leslie!

    BTW, would you like to venture another guess? xoxo

  3. This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I especially love the line "Like many ambitious people, I had developed a dependence on adrenaline. I could get so much done when my anxiety was in the red zone that I learned to live right on the edge of panic in that optimum zone between alarm and collapse."

    *sigh* So wonderful. I can see why it would overwhelm.

  4. Glad I'm not the only one to have more than one book on the go at once! Everyone thinks I'm weird! lol

    I tend to have at least one novel, an education book (geology this time), a biography and probably a travel book half read. I DO finish them, it's just nice to have a selection to suit my mood. :o)

    Glad you're feeling better.

  5. awesome post! and you haven't picked up your award yet here:

    (and my blog link to the right is wrong...should be:


  6. Darn you, Leslie, now you have me craving bacon! I always seem to overcook it a little, but my boyfriend makes it perfectly.

  7. I think of much of what you said as Dancing as Fast as I can - like if the music is loud enough, can't hear anything else
    if my body is moving fast enough, I don't have time for anything else.

    I think there is a book by that title. and I have no idea what it is about - might be same thing or totally different.