Saturday, September 25, 2010

Living a Better Story with Donald Miller

I am dashing this off as I am running out the door to go to the Living a Better Story seminar with Donald Miller in Portland. You can find out about Don Miller here and the conference in more detail here. I am a big Donald Miller fan, having read all of his books. This conference is based on his book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years". It's sort of hard to explain what the conference is about--I'm not totally clear on all of the specifics--but just knowing it's about viewing your life as a story, writing a new story for your life, and Donald Miller--and I want to be there.

At the same time it will also be a getaway weekend for me and LoveHubbie--we're going down early and it is not raining! Despite it being only about two and a half hours away, I have only been to Portland twice and never with enough time to look around, so I'm thrilled.

The venue is right across the street from Powell's Books, which is the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world. I've never been there, either.

I contemplated taking my laptop and doing a lot of blogging while I'm there, but then decided that it would be better to just "be there" fully and blog afterwards. I'll still have Facebook and Twitter capabilities via my iPhone, and I think that will be good enough. I want the time to be semi-contemplative so I plan on doing a lot of journaling. When I get back on Tuesday, I'll be ready to blog, and to read your blogs, so see you then. Much love, O

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Question: "What Do You Do For a Living?"

Today my blog post is related to something that Kristine wrote about being authentic (I hope to do several future posts on this) and something from Jane's blog. I've been thinking lately about online identity and authenticity and have so much to share about this, and will soon. But to start off, I want to write about Jane. She wrote:
Lately I feel so inadequate when we're out somewhere and someone will ask what I do for a living and all I can do is sit there wishing I was invisible.

I remember having many conversations about this matter with Chani. As confident and as secure as Chani was, she would feel exactly the same way as Jane and would hate this question. As many of you know, Chani lived on disability (after a long career) but would not want to discuss this with people, and yet felt uncomfortable telling people that she was "retired". She hated that people would even ask how she spent her time getting the money she lived on.

In our culture this is how we evaluate people and get to know people. It is an important cultural value that we define ourselves by how productive we are, how busy we are, and how much money we make--all three are tied together and define worth, often self-worth.

I remember years ago I was a systems analyst working for a prominent Christian ministry. I would proudly answer the question. I made a good salary and the Christian ministry was well-regarded in my town. The only thing--the only thing--I liked about this job was that I got to buy nice clothes and dress up and carry a briefcase and say I was a systems analyst. I envied bank tellers especially and other people who got to talk to people in their jobs. Or people who liked their jobs. I felt like I was in prison for eight hours a day.

Years later, ill (surprise!) with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, I was embarrassed about my lack of present career success (like Jane and Chani) and would try to think of something that "sounded good" to tell people. I was a "domestic engineer" or an "aspiring book indexer" or "consultant" (since I was occasionally able to pick up higher-level free-lance work). I still felt bad about the image I was projecting about my career success, reflecting (I thought) my worth.

A decade ago I married LoveHubbie, who has an extremely successful career. Suddenly it was okay with everyone that I was at home and the expectations to be successful in some career were lessened. As long as I volunteered or had some kind of socially-acceptable pastime like being a writer or an artist, I had acceptance with people. My husband took care of providing for us, so somehow that gave me more choices in who I could present myself as and still have approval. I liked saying that I was "a writer" or a "life coach" and it made things easier. (Although I am a writer and have been a life coach, I have not earned consequential money from either.)

Then I got involved in the online world and found like-minded people (you all wonderful ones) who I could just be myself with. This was life-changing for me. No one knew or cared how I paid my bills, or even if I paid my bills. It is a very edifying way to know people--apart from how they earn money. Even if I know about someone's career, it is just one part of who they are, not their entire identity.

I have found that this generalizes to my life offline. When people ask what I do, I tell them I'm a homemaker. I really like saying that, and I'm proud of it. If they still seem interested (usually they do not), I tell them I write reviews and have a blog, that I like to make art and enjoy encouraging people. I tell them that mostly I support my husband's career and really enjoy that.

I definitely do not enjoy most household management tasks (except laundry, which I love) but every job has aspects that are boring or mundane or distasteful. I cherish being in charge of my time, and being able to manage my time so that I can do things that I love. I can watch the weather each day and take walks in between the raindrops. I can look out on nature from my home and be inspired to write. I can read books that truly interest me. I can think and process and form opinions. I can nurture my spirituality and stay close to God. I can emotionally support my husband when he is spent at the end of the day, and then all he has to be concerned about is resting for the next day when he'll go out and conquer the world. What privileges these are!

If someone loses interest in me because I'm a homemaker, I'm kind of glad. I don't think we'd be a good match for friendship, or even good discussions. It sort of weeds out people easily, so that I can find the folks who look at who people are rather than what they do.

I feel incredibly blessed with this lifestyle, and if people don't understand I get it, but I feel like they are missing out.

My wish for each one of you (and for me, too) is that you find your place in the world doing what you love to do and that you are able to see the whole of who you are and to see others this way too--we are more than just our job, our sexuality, our spirituality, our political views, our roles--we are multi-dimensional beings. May you find the place where you can grow and blossom and thrive.

Life is so short; and how sad to have regrets at the end. I think that Chani did have many. My wish for you is to have no regrets.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday, Monday: LoveHubbie at Play

For some reasons, I always feel wiped out on Mondays, and today is no exception. In case you feel the same way, here are two funny videos of LoveHubbie, taken and snipped from hours of videotapes of his visit with our son D last month. They're short; this first one is only 43 seconds, and the second just over a minute. I hope you enjoy them!

The audio in this first video is especially interesting as you can hear LoveHubbie desperately trying to hold on:

The audio in this second video should be turned down as it gets pretty loud towards the end.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sacred Life Sunday: Rain

Here is a simple little video of the rain the other night. Just so you know I haven't disappeared from video altogether :) It is just 31 seconds long.

It is also raining today, and it feels like a blessing...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Vase

Here are some pictures of the beautiful vase that I bought with the money I won in Suzie the Foodie's contest way back in July; I'm only now getting around to posting the picture of it. Here it is filled with stargazer lilies from my garden. It is gorgeous, and definitely more than I would ever spend on a vase myself, so it is a real treat. It's really heavy crystal, and looks beautiful no matter where you have it or what you put in it. Thank you again, Suzie!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bloglines is Ending

To my subscribers in Bloglines, you may or may not know that Bloglines will no longer exist as of October 1st. I don't want to lose you!

I moved over to Google Reader. However, I will be announcing my new blog posts on Twitter and possibly Facebook (I'm not sure yet about Facebook). I still want to have RSS though--how do you feel about it? Do you still use RSS? If not, why not and what are the alternatives? I read an article that said that RSS was old-fashioned, but I have no idea what else I'd use. Any ideas?

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sacred Life Sunday: A Stroll Through My Garden

Even though I'm down with a cold, I enjoyed a lovely walk in the garden and thought you might too. This was made for my daughter-in-law and it is 4:21 long:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th and Being Surprised By Hate

Since today is September 11th, I thought I'd write about something that has been really on my mind lately, and that is hate. It seems like hate is lurking in places I'd never expect, cropping up in surprising ways everywhere, including in me, despite my best intentions.

As a Christian, it is important to me to love my enemies. I think of an enemy not as someone I hate, but as someone who wants ill for me, who wants to see me fail, who rejoices at my misfortune; I do have enemies and I think we all do. So I am learning how to do that--to love them. I'm working on it.

It is also important to me to be kind always. I love the friends I have here online and the blogs I read, which have taught me a great deal about kindness. They continue to do so. Occasionally though I'll see hate crop up online, oftentimes from someone who is normally very loving. It always bothers me, makes me sad, and sometimes I speak up, hopefully in a sensitive and gentle way. I appreciate the times people have spoken up to me and have let me know when I've been less than loving.

So this week the preacher who wanted to burn the Korans spoke up and revealed the hate in his heart. Apparently his parishioners share his views as well. If my pastor wanted to do anything like that I would leave the church (running) and pray for his soul. The parishioners who remain are supportive of his views, at least at some level. It astounded me that someone could feel this way and not feel ashamed, but self-righteous. I've been trying to process it since I heard about it. I still am.

Then I found out that someone I know agrees with the preacher. This person is also a Christian. How does such hate live in a human heart? This person believed that the preacher was acting in an appropriate way because it was probably in response to the controversy about the mosque in NYC--which they thought made sense and was good. I was revolted and had a hard time finding compassion--it was a hunt--and I still do not understand.

A couple of weeks ago I was in my favorite coffee shop. Relaxing and reading and writing, getting a lot done. A new person arrived, an olive-skinned man who sat down in the center of the shop and began rapidly talking on a cell phone in an unfamiliar gutteral language. He was very loud and very, very angry. His discussion went on and on and his agitation became more pronounced. The culture of the coffee shop is that you leave when you make a call or else talk softly and briefly. Many people there are writing and working. This man ignored everyone and continued interminably.

He could have been a husband in a fight with his wife. He could have been an attorney outraged at an injustice venting uncontrollably in a coffee shop. However, in my mind he was a Muslim terrorist planning his next hit; I felt fear and hatred towards him. It all added up. I couldn't get the idea out of my head. Even though I knew it was just an idea, just fear, just hate--and nothing more. He kept getting louder and louder and no one stopped him. Thirty minutes went by. What man talks that fast for that long? When would he stop? Everyone at the coffee shop heard him, including the manager and workers, but no one said a word. I didn't either...because I didn't want to be seen as a racist.

Now had he been Caucasian, I definitely would have said something. I would have expected him to know the coffee shop's culture and to comply. As it was, I endured the fear and pain that his conversation triggered in me...and then finally he left. At last.

Feeling calmer, I thought about it, knowing that my imaginations were based totally upon fear and had no basis in reality. I know the difference between thoughts, projections, and what is actually going on. I thought about how many people don't know the difference between their fears and reality--not a clue. They don't know how to tell if something is true or is merely a projection based upon their past experiences. I felt glad that I knew what was happening even as it happened--sorry for the fear and judgment but happy to know that these were only fear-based thoughts indicating that I had some personal work to do!

It's still hate, but there is something that I can do about it. And identifying it as such protects others because I would never act upon it. I will work to rid myself of it.

For this preacher and his flock--they are trapped. Trapped in their thoughts and imaginings which are hateful and which seem so real to them. How can we get so off-base and not even know?

Today I pray for those people who hate--which is all of us--but pray that we will be drawn ever more to love each day for everyone, especially those who are different from us. I pray for me. And you. And that preacher.

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark