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Monthly Archives: March 2013

My Politics of Peace

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My Politics of Peace

Words, 

They are where my power resides.

They give a voice to my consciousness.

They are what I share with the world.

They are my weapon of choice,

My mode of resistance.

With words, I share the truths of my own.

As I write, my mind and heart unite

And they know my cause.

As many lose faith in the system of our country, 

I lost that faith long ago.

My choice is to not engage

Not to mobilize against the state.

Not to persuade the courts.

My heart is heavy with the thought

That I have privileges that others do not.

But do not think me apathetic.

Do not think I do not care.

For my choice to not align,

Is in itself a political move.

I continue on, to share my stories, my struggles, my triumphs.

I continue on, to embrace the world I love.

I continue on, engaged in art, in nature, in words.

My fight is here,

Inside.

To find peace.

To embrace joy.

To engage love.

To heal my soul.

To take steps everyday

To create

A change 

In my world.

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Recovering a Sense of, well, Recovering

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Recovering a Sense of, well, Recovering

I had done so well with Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” Then real life started to happen. I had grant contracts, I had deadlines, I took on the project of developing and opening the Upstage Gallery in my community. I got busy. I left the book behind. Still conscious, still grateful, as if I had completed it ahead of time.

Well, I should have known better, really. I took the opportunity to step out when the topics were getting really intense. Compassion. Autonomy. Self-Protection. Faith. It was only a matter of time until I returned to the book.

One of the most difficult aspects of being in therapy is that once you think you got it all figured out, a new layer surfaces. Often darker and deeper than the one before. Denial has been weakened, the senses heightened. The deep dark topics demand attention, as they should.

As I deal with the connections of perfectionism, patience, faith, self-love, healing, and sharing myself, I realize there is much more recovery to be done.

Sunrise over the First Lutheran Church of New Rockford

Sunrise over the First Lutheran Church of New Rockford

More steps on the path I was on. This is not the time to stagnate. It’s time to continue on, with my projects and my recovery. Because, after all, doing this will be worth it. I’m sure.

Signs of Spring

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Signs of Spring

While waiting for spring, it does little good to keep an eye on the ground, waiting for the snow to melt. Keep an eye on the sky, and wait for the birds to come. The arrival or increase of activity of the smallest birds can tell us wonderful things about the world at large.

One reason I found North Dakota to be a potential homesite for raising a family was its great abundance of birds. On my first visit, I had never seen so many kinds of birds flying along the roadways.

For a long time I could only knew a few birds. I could tell a robin from a sparrow. And growing up near St. Louis, I certainly knew a cardinal when I saw one. But for nearly twenty years, I thought the sound of a mourning dove calling in my grandparents yard was an owl. It has taken me some time to get to know my feathered friends. But what a rewarding task it has been!

I took an ornithology class at the University of Wyoming in 2008. We had quizes on bird songs, and for our midterms and finals we had to identify the genus and species of a great number of specimens. If I was going to learn these creatures, I had to get out and see them. So I made an effort, and I got to know Meadowlarks, Northern Flickers, Swainson’s Hawks, Shrikes, Phalaropes, Avocets, and so on and so on.

Then, years down the road, I found myself the teacher, encouraging students to get familiar with a variety of birds. Waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, and the like.

Now, not having to learn about birds and not having to teach about birds, I have the opportunity to experience them on my own accord. And share a little of that celebration of seeing the signs of spring.

This morning on the way to taking my son to school, I hear Pine-siskins fleeting in the spruce trees nearby.

Pine Sisken. © Dave Wendelken, Lakewood, Virginia, December 2010 For more information visit AllAboutBirds.org.

It was good to hear their activity. But this is their winter range.

Black-Capped Chickadee. © Bill Corwin, WA, January 2009. For more information, visit AllAboutBirds.org.

As with the black-capped chickadees and the white-breasted nuthatches.

 

White-breasted Nuthatch. © Matt MacGillivray, Brighton, Ontario, Canada, April 2008. For more information visit AllAboutBirds.org.

But true signs of spring came when I returned to the yard and heard a flittering of wings cascade through the beloved crabapple tree. Waxwings. DSCN8956Many, many waxwings, treating themselves to the dried crabapples still hanging from the fall. So obviously, it was time to get out the camera!

DSCN8947There are two different kinds of waxwings that come through our area. At first, I thought these must be Bohemian Waxwings. Named for their nomadic behavior and non-territorial behaviors. They winter in this area, and travel further north into Canada and into Alaska to spend their summers.

A sting of disappointment came. So they aren’t really migrating yet, but they are getting into large flocks…

After some time, the light brightened outside. The birds became more active. I took out the camera again, standing very still in the doorway of the sliding glass door.

DSCN8949

 

DSCN8951

 

DSCN8950

 

These weren’t Bohemian Waxwings. Their underside was white! They were Cedar Waxwings.

Cedar Waxwing. Often found in flocks near fruiting trees in winter. © Byard Miller, NH, Marlborough, February 2008. For more information, visit AllAboutBirds.org.

They spend their winters further south. If they are in North Dakota, that means they are migrating! They are some of the first migratory birds to pass through this area each spring. Their arrival says, “Spring is happening other places. We have a long way to go for the summer. We spend our summers throughout Canada, eating bugs and fruits. But we like to get a head start, before those American Robins, who like to eat the same fruit as we do. These crabapples were just the thing we needed for breakfast.”

Keep your eye out for these sleek and sassy birds. They’ll be likely to pass through quickly, on to the next fruit tree.

Patience and Perfection

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Patience and Perfection

Patience. Patience. Patience.

I’m trying to learn it. I’m sitting here, waiting for what’s next: spring, warmth, sunshine, planting seeds, harvesting greens, evening trips to the greenhouse, wearing slip-on shoes, walking the dog, feeling the earth come alive.

Not yet. It was -11 this morning. Wait…. Wait…. Wait….

But waiting is a good thing (really!)

DSCN8325

Sometimes waiting forces us to listen. In this time, we can learn to understand. We can learn to accept.

This whole process I’ve been working through (and blogging about) has been exactly that—learning to accept.

As a teenager, I spent some time in a treatment facility. Everyday we would start the day with a portion of the Serenity Prayer.

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

But, now I have learned that was only the beginning. There is more to the prayer. Maybe the administrators at the facility assumed suicidal teenagers wouldn’t care about the rest of it. Maybe I didn’t care about the rest of it. Maybe I didn’t listen. Maybe I don’t remember.

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

If I had, perhaps learning to live one day at a time wouldn’t have felt so much like a foreign concept. But, when everything falls apart, the moment we have is all we have. During the grieving process I learned that in day-to-day living there is no room for compulsive behaviors. No room for people pleasing. No room for perfection.

 

I am guilty of being a perfectionist. For those of you who may have witnessed my perfectionism at play, let me just apologize and say, “If you thought I was a perfectionist, you should have heard the voice in my head.” In my mind, I was never good enough. That kind of obsessive chronic self-criticism leaves little room for the appreciation of each beautiful moment. Something had to give.

As I struggled to learn the idea of living in the moment, the realization hit me that everything in this world is finite. With the exception of energy. After all, energy cannot be created or destroyed. Only transferred. We are infinite beings experiencing the finite. No wonder it is so difficult and confusing to be a human!

But that too, I feel like I’ve learned how to be human. I’m not perfect. There’s no sense in trying to act like someone expects me to be. I’ve accepted my faults. I’m disorganized and cluttered. I try to take charge sometimes. I don’t do well in the mornings. I get a little shy sometimes. I’m clumsy. I’m needy sometimes. I forget to brush my teeth before bed. I curse. I’m easily distracted if I’m multitasking. I think too much. There’s more, I’m sure. (But you don’t have to tell me.)

The point is, that accepting myself has resulted in a new understanding of others– people who can be completely different than me, but have the same feelings. They have feelings of happiness, love, pain, grief, anger, sadness, fear, disgust, guilt, and surprise.

The more people I meet and connect with, the more I see I am not alone. Many others are trying to juggle responsibility and self-interest. Many others are in the middle of life transitions such as relocating, getting married, having children, new jobs, and so on. And others still are adjusting to loss in their life—loss of a home, a loved one, or their own health. I have found the ability to empathize to understand what it is like to be grateful for each day, to be happy to make it through day-by-day.

It really does change the definition of a term we so often strive for— success.

My successes for the day:

  • Waking up.
  • Feeding myself, the animals, and the kids.
  • Having the brilliant idea to wear my cute hat rather than losing time by doing my hair.
  • Getting the kids to school and daycare.
  • Making it to work.
  • Working while at work.
  • Connecting with an a local artist in such a way that I was deeply compelled to give her a hug when we said our good-byes.
  • Leaving work.
  • Getting my children home.
  • Paying attention to my body and taking time to rest.
  • Reflecting on all that was swimming in my head.
  • Writing this blog entry and sharing it with other humans. (Since few other beings can read!)

Please enjoy your day and all the more to come.