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The Uphill Climb

Well, it’s the 5th week of Lent and I have given up TV for almost 40 days. Now, I did watch one basketball game and one movie on TV and I watched a movie in the theater but other than that and some online Facebook videos, the TV has been off for me.

Tonight, I really wanted to watch some TV. It was just one of those nights where all you want to do is veg in front of the TV. My husband was out of town and I really felt like watching TV because the house was quiet and empty–just like a desert–like the desert that Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in. Jesus was tempted and I was really tempted tonight to just plug in. Sometimes it is hard to contend with ourselves when there is no activity planned. When our lives are so busy with so many activities we often feel guilty when we do absolutely nothing.

What have I learned these past days? Am I not just going to go back to what I was doing after Easter arrives? Isn’t it supposed to be about a conversion of heart–to cut away the slack-stripping the excess away? To draw closer to Jesus?

By giving up TV and having extra time available, I found that I experienced a pulling-away from my regular routine to discover something new. In the pulling-away, I found that I was more receptive to an unplanned life of sorts, allowing me to leave room for the quiet, still voice of the Holy Spirit.

Instead of coming home after work and turning on the news without a second thought, I would come home and cook something nutritious, read a book, call my kids and my mom, or just sit in a chair with a cup of tea and do nothing. I found that I picked up actual hard-covered books to read which I haven’t done in a while. I completed two of them and am on my third. I tended not to look at the denial of something pleasurable or routine as a “giving up” but a “honing-in.”

I also refrained from looking up the news on-line except for a few tweets or even clickbait that caught my eye so I probably didn’t miss much. Another thing I learned, is that it is hard to do something completely if the other person, my husband, is not doing the same thing-namely, giving up TV. I had to put my blinders on.

Yes, I can’t wait to watch TV again! I can’t wait to tune into the programs to watch my newscaster “friends,” (my husband gets a chuckle out of this) watch a few select TV programs, watch some of the Oscar movies or just relax and watch TV with my husband. I am going to enjoy watching TV, albeit a bit more judiciously.

I don’t mean to make denial of trivial things (yes, TV viewing is trivial) important. There are hardships in life that are more important and difficult to endure and I think that denying ourselves from trivial things from time-to-time, allows us to unite with those that are truly suffering and reminds us of how and why Christ suffered for us.

Gummy Bear Heaven

Gummy Color Therapy
Photo by Surasak Klinmontha/Shutterstock.com

I am a creature of habit and sometimes I go on a gummy bear kick. I think I like to eat them because they are fat-free and tasty to boot. The only problem is they are pretty much all sugar and have no vitamins or minerals even though you may think they do since many vitamins are now of the gummy variety. One small bag of gummy bears run in the 300 calorie range and that is nothing to sneeze at. I like the German variety best.

I think one of the reasons I like them is because they are colorful. In fact, I think I like to look at the colorful gummy bears more than I like to eat them although I think the color entices me to eat them. Color makes me happy or at least happier.

Color is a welcome boost especially living in the Northwest where it is gray and dismal much of the year albeit very green. Color selection is big business, in advertising, apparel, décor, etc. I think it is fascinating. The colors you choose to wear and surround yourself with emote different psychological feelings.

I have a lot of black in my closet because black is easy and goes with just about everything. I also have a lot of the color pink, especially in the warmer months. Typically, I look out for the new color trends and try to buy the color en vogue just because sameness gets boring. It’s easy to buy a solid colored t-shirt or two and layer with a jacket. Voila! Updated wardrobe.

I’ve often thought about what heaven would look like and in my mind it typically looks like earth with maybe some more clouds. What if it was really colorful! …on earth as it is in heaven!

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Fear Factor

Ipatov/Shutterstock.com

A while back when the first “Fear Factor” show came out I could only watch one or two episodes. I think I watched episodes where the contestants were challenged to eat a can of worms and and one where leeches were placed on a man’s face. Yuck! The show must be popular because it is still airing and in its fifth season although I think now the challenges are based more on stunts.

A recent sermon at Mass reflected on the Lenten season which reminded me that Lent is not about giving up things as much as it is about a conversion of heart. Our actions are based on what is in our heart and we are acting from blessing or wounded-ness. There are seven areas of wounded-ness that were named but I am sure there are more. Fear, Rejection, Hopelessness, Confusion, Abandonment, Shame, Powerlessness. We were asked to reflect on one of the areas for the entirety of Lent.

I chose Fear.

Tornado weather?

Fear is one of the most natural emotions because it is built into us to help us preserve our safety which is one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Fear is a strong emotion. As a child, I was often afraid of the dark and impending thunderstorms with brooding, dark skies that could potentially produce a tornado. These fears were warranted and related to a need to be safe. Other times as a child, it was the fear of rejection, not being picked first to play on a team and being picked on at recess. Some of the feelings from my childhood experiences have carried into adulthood and fear is one of them. Of course, having my camera stolen on a family vacation along with all of our passports was such a violation and has sometimes created fear and anxiety of which I am still feeling the effects of several years later.

As adults, we have to contend with old and new fears. We are told to face our fears, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In today’s world fear and its promotion of it in the media is all around us. There are many things we can be afraid of–political landscape, job loss, illness, nuclear missals, mass shootings, fear of spiders, fear of change, fear of public speaking, fear of failure, fear of death, etc. I don’t think there is a person on earth that is not afraid of one thing or another at one time or another. There are a multitude of fears we could list and some of them are even phobias for some people. We wouldn’t be able to walk out the door if we didn’t face our fears. I think a lot times, especially for me, it’s the fact that many situations cannot be controlled and that is why I fear them. Thankfully, it is not a debilitating fear, but fear nonetheless.

I am still evaluating my fears and perhaps working through some of them. Lent is not over.

Lent and the Color Purple

The Christian season of Lent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons in the church.
Lent is 40 days (not including Sundays) from Ash Wednesday until Easter. It is a period observed by Christians as preparation for Easter, involving fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. For many it is a time to give something up whether it be chocolate, wine, TV, etc. and includes not eating meat on Ash Wednesday or Fridays.

Ash Wednesday, which is March 6th this year, is very popular and many people attend services. The date for Ash Wednesday is calculated as 40 days before Easter not counting Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The date for Easter changes and is based on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Kind of a mouth-full to recite but that is the easiest way to remember how the date for Easter is derived. Graphic by Julio Aldana/Shutterstock

The liturgical color for lent is purple. A violet-hued color that helps us focus our attention on fasting and repentance and draws us into Christ’s Passion. The color is also associated with royalty. The church décor is sparse and barren setting the tone for contemplation.

I think the reason that Ash Wednesday is well attended is that it is one of the days in the church year that gives us “permission” to think about our own mortality.

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” traditional words spoken when the priest or liturgical minister traces the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the faithful. “Repent and believe in the Gospel” is another version of this. When we attend Ash Wednesday, we are in community and we realize we are all finite beings, hopeful for an eternal dwelling place. We too shall leave this world someday. We better make it count!

Lent is not only about giving up things but is a conversion of heart. It is looking at our actions and placing them under a microscope. It is an emptying, clearing out the clutter and any woundedness or ways that are contrary to being a follower of Christ and to make space for the blessings in our lives. To make room for God.

Check out my previous blog at provedinthefire.blogspot.com. Happy Lent!

Magic Pill

If only it were that easy. Photobank gallery/Shutterstock.com

After visiting the doctor for nerve pain, I was prescribed a medication that would deaden pain and numbness. The prescription was ready when I went through the pharmacy drive-thru on my way home from the doctor appointment.

I thought I would do some quick research on the medicine before I began taking it. Common side effects include involuntary eye movement, dizziness, drowsiness, fluid retention, relaxed easy state, low energy, altered mental status, depression, anger, dry mouth, double vision, loss of memory, involuntary quivering, nausea, weight gain, confusion, hives, suicidal thoughts or tendencies, aggressive behavior, anxiety, and the list goes on. Of course, the drug company is listing all the possible side effects, but who wants to take any chances. Reading further, I learned that it is addictive as well.

Now don’t get me wrong. Medicines are sometimes needed to help a patient, but I got the feeling that the doctor wanted a quick and easy “remedy” to try and alleviate the problem until I saw a specialist. He meant well but doctors are under time constraints and he was probably looking for the quickest possible solution. I, however, am willing to put some effort into my well-being, even if it takes more time to figure out what my body is trying to tell me.

I have decided instead to use my “bed buddy” which is a microwaveable heating wrap to loosen tight muscles as well as massage, yoga for stretching along with relaxation and ibuprophen.



Snow Day

I took some photos on a snowy day and wanted to add text to one of them. I like to write poetry but did not have time so I searched for some quotes. Most people, myself included, would probably use an image with flowers that are just blossoming with this particular quote , but the thought didn’t cross my mind because I was living in the moment which, at that time, included snow.

To me, snow has a cleansing effect, covering the world in white, covering all the world’s imperfections, at least for the time being. It changes the shape of things and shapes are made softer. It makes us slow down. Snow can be invigorating. Sometimes the snow awakens us.

What Drives Me Insane

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I am driven crazy by cords! I always keep them because I never now if I will need them again or not.

First a couple of tips from Marie Kondo. Take ALL of your clothing out and put it in one place to sort. Whoa! I have done a version of this but I think I grouped it more so that I wouldn’t have to go digging for my underwear. I like this method though, so you can see what you really have. I only keep seasonal clothes in my closet and put the off season clothes in a different closet so I do sort as I’m changing seasons. What I’ve done lately is stay out of the stores and off of the internet for clothes.

Marie’s method of piling works for all of the following categories.

Clothing

Books

Paper

Komono -The miscellaneous detritus of life from kitchen, bathroom, garage, etc. That has got to be a huge category.

Her main message is to keep what gives you joy and organize, discard or donate the rest.

I have kind of learned to do that with clothes. If I don’t absolutely love the piece, no matter if it is on sale or not, I will not buy it. I want to look good and feel good wearing it. I tend to hang onto clothes for a while until I buy new clothes.

We all have something that we tend to hang onto. For me it’s paper and sentimental items. I must learn to release. I do have a solution for paper though and that is ScanSnap. When I get enough money, I would like to buy one. It’s the perfect solution to wanting to keep the piece of paper around.

How did we as a society get to this point of having a reality TV show on how to tidy our homes? Better yet, a show on how to plough through the rooms piled high of stuff we’ve accumulated over the years, not to mention, another popular show about hoarding, which is an animal unto itself.

What if the perfectly organized home is all an illusion. I do like the idea of clearing the clutter because I think that clearing it also clears clutter of the mind. I think it is important that we don’t construct identities on the perceived expectation of others and look at ourselves, our homes, our vacations, our children, and our closets as projections of our best selves. Perfection is overrated and we are never going to achieve it one hundred percent.

The Refuse of Life

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Today I spent at least five hours sorting through paperwork that has accumulated over the years. It started with cleaning the kids’ room where boxes upon boxes of left behind school papers, soccer jerseys, old cell phones, books, etc., etc had accumulated. You get the picture. My husband and I consolidated items into small to medium boxes and put them in a larger box, labeled them and stuck them in the garage for who knows how long. I guess the boxes will keep the cats company.

I then tackled the office with more boxes, and piles of paperwork. Papers from coursework, previous and current jobs, junk mail, correspondence, year end files that get purged into boxes, stuff that I like to save. Well, I am on a mission to eliminate. To release. To make room for new and meaningful things. To enjoy the space. Space to create.

I just wish that I had hung onto the Legos.

I am exploring the KonMari Method.

https://konmari.com

New Year, New You

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News Flash!  Visit to doctor indicates that I need to lose 10 pound!!!   I visited my primary doctor last week with my “laundry list” of things I wanted to talk about health-wise and I won’t go into the gritty details but he mentioned that I could benefit from losing 10 pounds.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been 10 pounds lighterContinue reading “New Year, New You”

New Year’s Sloughing

CandlesThis year, I took an early morning bath when it was still dark outside.

Every year, at the end of the year or in the new year I have a tradition of taking a bath to “slough” the old skin– dead skin cells– and wash them away.  Granted, I can take a bath at any time of the year but it is especially fitting to take one at this time of the year.   It symbolizes for me, a time to rejuvenate, to release the old ways of being and doing, to symbolically remove the things that are not working for me and to refresh and revitalize the skin, giving way to new beginnings.
I generally turn inward at this time of year because of the decreased sunlight that accents the day  and I get reflective during my ceremonial bath.  I don’t really  think about all the things I need to solve when I am taking my bath.  I just let the water wash over me and I let the water soften my skin so that any callouses might be easier to remove.

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