Health and Life

I am a very thankful person. I feel the healthiest that I have felt..well…really….ever. I have never been in truly bad health (save a random crazy virus when I was in 2nd grade, but I am still here and not blind thus the worst did not happen), but I guess I never realized the potential for truly excellent well-being. You always hear “eat right, exercise” blah blah blah, yeah okay, thank you propaganda of the moment. However, I am blessed that my health is holistically really great right now and only improving. Let me break it down for you (if you would permit me)

-Physically I am feeling like my body is just now showing me its vast potential. I found the exercise that keeps me feeling challenged and fully engaged. I mean, I guess I “found” yoga a while ago, but lately I have been consistently engaging as never before. You ever find that place where your body just seems to flow into something? As if you could hear every muscle and joint singing to you the notes of what needs to be plucked next? If you haven’t, tis a rather glorious song. There are four things that make me feel like that: ballroom/swing dancing, swimming, rock climbing, and yoga. In yoga, I can hear hums, whistles, clicks and the deep thrums of what my body desires. Add to that something that is going to make some people cringe; the addition of smoothies. Yup, it’s happened people. Handsome and I acquired a NutriBullet and I could not be more excited. This gizmo is super low maintenance and the mixtures are an excellent way to increase my spinach intake without choking down another salad every day. The smoothies often look a lot like raw sewage, but they taste like ice cream on a crispy autumn evening. Without going into too much detail, these smoothies have played a huge role in helping me wean off a medication that I’ve taken for the last ten years. The med was meant to help me maintain some painful symptoms of a common female condition (cough cough), but that drug was starting to screw around with my hormones. Now, I can control the symptoms by adjusting things in my diet and I could not be more thrilled. I am grateful to the medication for the help it gave me, but I am so glad to find a way to relieve pain without upsetting the balance of my body’s chemicals.

-Emotionally and Spiritually I feel like I am flying in a peaceful current of a roiling ocean. Life is never free of things that wish to cause me anxiety. However, I am finding myself in an emotionally secure place that is allowing me to respond to situations much more calmly than I would have a year ago. Obviously the better diet is huge contributing factor, but I am also participating in things and surrounding myself with people that bolster this excellent state. First, I have a partner who is a rich well-spring of support. He has been encouraging me in every venue from the food to the search for a summer job and he gives me reason to laugh and smile every day. Secondly, I have a spiritual community that has been absent since I left college. I had a good interim community in my dad’s wonderful congregation in Jersey, but here has the taste of a more permanent structure. There are courageous and beautiful women in the Bible study I attend and then there is the church Handsome and I have finally found. Indeed, ladies and gentle-figs, rejoice with me. The church hunt is over! We have found a place of simplicity and grace that I hope and pray continues to be a place of refuge and growth for us. I can tell my spirit is well because I am inspired to pursue Truth, Love, and Life as I have not felt inspired to since…perhaps I will tell that story some time. Suffice it to say there was an event in my experience with the church that has made it difficult for me to trust in community, but I am learning to forgive. And I am daring to trust. I am not good at it, but may haps He can teach me yet.

I am healthy and alive. I will take full advantage of that state of being.

Moon and Stars

I find myself constantly thinking “This time last year I was…” Though that thought has ended in a number of ways, most amount to a single truth; this time last year I was very unhappy. I do remember the bright points, mainly friends who gave me reasons to smile (especially ZeldaStark who made sure I had a family to share Christmas with) in the midst of the dark.  Still, I was utterly miserable last year. I hated my job. I hated my location. I missed my man. I missed my family and other friends.  I was facing the fact that I was going to be unemployed in the next month and I didn’t even have a Christmas Eve service with candles lit to lift my spirits. Twas a gloomy time.

But even then I knew I was lucky. I am lucky because I did have good people in my life. Many of them were fellow employees at that job I hated. Despite the fact that I was going to be unemployed soon, I had a strong support system that I could rely upon until I regained the ground I needed. Though I missed my man, he had been making many an effort to come see me the whole year, thus allowing a long-distance relationship to succeed. The Lord scattered stars through my dark sky, and His moon was never far from my gloom. He told me that I should not stay where I was. He urged me to leave, trusting Him to give me what I needed . Trust is not easy. Hope is not necessarily second nature. However, I knew that my choices were limited. Trust would give me focus, and hope could dispel the anxiety that would dog me otherwise.

This year, I am in New Jersey at the moment with my parents. The house looks beautiful and I am about to go to a Christmas Eve service (candles definitely included). My current job is a wonderful place where I can grow in my craft and yet I am allowed to be a human rather than just another body doing work. I have forged a good relationship with my boss and I have burgeoning friendships outside of the workplace. I love the location despite the challenges of constant snow. I am living with my wonderful man and our sweet little feline in an apartment that is perfect for this time in our lives. I grow. I love. I live. The stars grow brighter and His moon grows fuller. For now, I dance in the light.

Merry Christmas, wherever you may be this year. If it is a place where there is darkness, remember to look even harder for the stars.

Busy, busy, busy

I wondered if being settled into an area would make life boring, but the exact opposite is proving true. This month is insanely packed with socializing and adventures. Last weekend, Handsome and I were hosts to my friend Herculine and her boyfriend (who also happens to be one of my college friends) Smiler. Though only a brief time, we made the most of its every second. We brought them to market and then we went on a hike at Buttermilk Falls, which is a most glorious climb. Handsome and the Smiler went ahead while Herculine and I made our way slowly, encountering faeries and many a deep energy in the water-rushing canyon. Sitting on the edge of the water at one point, I was again struck with awe at the depth of nature’s power and how that power is deep song that the Lord sings into my veins with abandon. I felt simultaneously still and running with all my strength so that I might fly. I was with a friend who I muchly love, in the midst of gorgeous rock-water wood, and I could Hear the Song so close to my ribs I could ache. We wound our way through, enjoying all that was around us, discussing faeries in hushed tones and touching all that we could get our hands; be it rock, water, tree or mud, we felt and drifted.  Walking down, we had to stretch our legs out long and stiffly like fancy gentleman, and holding a single hand aloft as though we were carrying parasols of fancier ladies. Twas the only way one could go down the steep stairs with any measure of grace don’t ya know 😉 That evening, we all made cookies and drank until we were pleasantly giggling into our cookie ice-cream sundaes.

The next day dawned absolutely gorgeous. I chose to go to church while Handsome took our guests to Green Lake Park. I am glad that I went because I am enamored of the sermons and the energy of the place. Though it is a tiny little church with narry another person my age, I find a deep peace when I am there. Plus, as I said, the sermons are instructive, simply delivered, and beautifully crafted. In my faith, I find that I am drawn to places that are more concerned with the intricacies of the God that we serve rather than evangelistic tactics. As far as I am concerned, if I am taking time to go to church, then I don’t want to spend that time listening to why I need to keep taking that time out. I have already made that decision, thus I would rather learn more about how to deepen my relationship with God. Unsolicited tangent, but tis just my personal feeling on the matter. I arrived home before the rest of my party and I took the time to enjoy the sun and the glorious weather. Later that day, Herculine, Smiler, and I went to see a show at the Stage. This is the first show of the season and Herculine’s cousin is in the cast. I was familiar with the script and I was curious to see the show (plus, it is the first show in which I had direct painterly involvement here). Although the piece was three hours long, I was delighted to discover that the actors are brilliant. They did not miss a beat and they managed to keep the energy of the dialogue constant. The set and technical effects were wonderful, and the costumes were absolutely drool-worthy. It is rare to see a production so cohesive and I feel humbled that I had a hand in realizing that cohesion.

As for what is to come, right now I am in the midst of visiting my dear sibling. She has possession of the rest of my artwork, and I had to deliver her an original work from my own hand. Thus, here I am, alone for the moment while she works. The view out her window is dappled with autumn, sun, and tree branches. I must admit, it’s nice to have a day fully to myself. Next week, Handsome’s mother comes to visit, then the next week brings WonderWoman and a trip into the City to see Sleep No More. Busy? Just how I like it :).

Comes Awfully Close to a Rant (this post, not the book)

WARNING: This post is going to be meaty (as I previously mentioned), and it is going to cover a lot of factors that cause me a great deal of righteous indignation. I will not only praise my mother for her excellent use of book-watching, as well as praising my dad for his intelligent attempt at peacekeeping,  but I will also discuss an event where I felt some people in my church community at the time were mishandling a conflict that surrounded the book in question (it was actually the movie that was causing the immediate issue, but the book is obviously bound within the conflict). I will do everything in my power to express my views in a healthy, mature, fashion, but I will be honest, and therefore, something offensive is likely to be stated. You have thus been warned.

Ahh, another trilogy, and one that came under greater scrutiny because of its cinematic debut. Now, unfortunately, the film was not terribly successful, and having seen it myself I understand completely. The filmmakers took too many liberties and changed so many of the details that the plot had too many holes. The book did an excellent job connecting the different events so that the world could make sense. The Golden Compass made #2 on the top 10 list of challenged books in the year 2008. The reason most cited was “anti-Christian” and “satanic” messages within the text. Also, the author is an outspoken atheist who made it clear that he wrote the book with his own beliefs in mind.

Okay, first, I would like to share a tale that exemplifies a healthy parent-monitoring of a book. I was a huge reader when I was a kid, often reading things way beyond my age level. My mother basically turned me loose in bookstores, and she rarely denied me a book. This book was an exception. I picked it up on a whim when I was 10 years old. I proudly showed my mom, who gently requested that she give the Golden Compass a read before I did. Having other books in my queue, I happily agreed and almost forgot about the text in the midst of my other adventures. When I finally did ask my mom (who had finished pre-reading), she told me honestly, “Sweetheart, I know you are a mature reader, and it’s not that I don’t think you could understand this book. I would just prefer that you wait a couple years before you try it because I think there are some things in here that you would find really frightening right now. But, when you are older, I have no concerns that you would enjoy the book more fully.” I will admit I was disappointed, but mom so rarely refused to let me read something, I just let it go. When I finally came around to reading the trilogy in high school, I was so glad she asked me to wait. The books are well written, and the world is certainly fascinating, but there are some very dark concepts that would have terrified me when I was younger. My mom managed to properly monitor what I was reading without making me feel like I was being held back, and her instinct was entirely correct.

Now, for the tale that deals with something that still fries my egg. I would like to make it clear that I have processed this event and have fully forgiven the people involved, but I think it’s an important story that helped develop my faith and my personal relationship with God.

Earlier in the post, I mentioned that this book was turned into a movie, and this was around the time I was a sophomore in high school. By that point, I had read the trilogy, and while I thought the author allowed his agenda to eclipse the completeness of his world, I really did enjoy the books and was looking forward to seeing the movie. Emrys had also read and enjoyed the books, and he was also looking forward to the film that we determined to go see together. We also went to the same church, where my father pastored, and we had the same Sunday School class. It was in this class that some major silliness happened. I knew there was a controversy surrounding the movie/book being anti-christian, but I didn’t think anything of it. I had read all sorts of things like Harry Potter,  A Great and Terrible Beauty, and Da Vinci Code. Thus, books that were about topics not necessarily praised in the Bible did not affect me because I understood them as fantasy and fiction (a.k.a just stories). However, the controversy surrounding the Compass ended up smacking me in the face.

One of the girls in my class started the attack. She claimed that she had researched the book, and that her mom had shown her articles about how nasty the book was towards Christians and Christ in general. The girl made it clear that the book was evil and that reading it or seeing the movie was against God. I was shocked to hear that others in my Sunday school class were agreeing with her. None of them had even picked up the book so where were they getting this information? Before an argument could start, my dad stepped into the fray. He was substituting for our usual teacher, and he had heard about the impending conflict. He graciously pointed out a group of verses in Romans 14, that basically said that some people have the ability to do things like reading controversial books without their faith being affected, while others needed to refrain. “The point Paul makes,” Dad went on to say, “is that we need to not judge each other for what we do to maintain our faith. Ultimately, it is between you and God. So, don’t judge each other on both sides. If you feel like you can read the book, or see the movie without your faith wavering, then do so, but don’t throw that in the face of your fellows. If you feel the opposite, then don’t see it, but at the same time, do not judge others who do. Please, let’s just have this end here.” I was still miffed, but I appreciated my dad’s point, and considering he was the pastor, I thought that would be the end. As you can guess, that thought was very far from correct.

After missing a week of Sunday School (I think I had a show or something, very rare for me to miss), I came back feeling wary. Emrys, the only one of my classmates who had read the books and felt as I did, had told me something disturbing. ” The girl brought up Golden Compass to our Sunday School teacher (who was our youth pastor as well). Our teacher completely backed her up and told everyone that we shouldn’t go see the movie.” I was thunderstruck. I really looked up to our youth pastor, and I could not fathom that she of all people would encourage what I still considered a completely ludicrous attack on a text that no one had even read. That day in class, people were proudly proclaiming that they had told others in their secular school classes not to go see the film, and my youth pastor just went into a short speech about how going to see the movie was ultimately giving money and support to an anti-Christian establishment. I was utterly furious and miserable, and I did not say a word. Emrys also kept his head down, making eye contact with me every now and then to make sure I wasn’t going to burst open and spill myself all over the table. We eventually moved on with the lesson, but I just remember every part of my brain throbbing.

Of course, Emrys and I chose to see the movie. More importantly, my parents did not stop me because they understood my position and did not worry about the state of my soul. The movie was mediocre, but I am glad I saw it. The experience taught me the following:

– I do not get angry when people hold different opinions from me. I get angry when I feel that people are ignorant about the subject they are discussing, and then flout that ignorance as something that safeguards their faith/position.

– I am glad that my dad pointed out those verses. They are not only a comfort to me, considering I am pretty unconventional in the practice of my faith, but they also challenge me not to treat others with disdain simply because their relationship with Christ is different.

-In the same vein, I learned that I cling to pride and arrogance as a defense when I feel at a loss of how to express myself. I was so distraught by the people around me that, rather than extend love and listen to the words God could give me to express myself, I just wrapped myself in the pride that knew what I was talking about and They were all ignorant jerks who were to afraid to pick up a book for themselves. I was wrong to use that kind of hateful thinking. I could not control others around me, but I could certainly have allowed the Lord to guard my heart rather than nasty thoughts.

I am glad I read the books. I am glad I saw the movie. I am glad my parents treated the whole situation as parents rather than pastors. Finally, I am glad that a simple book provided a way for the Lord to show me so much.

Private and Public Pursuits

I find that I need time and space by myself in order to recharge, which apparently makes me slightly more inclined to introversion according to the personality test I just took. I have a longstanding loathing for such tests, but I must say, after reading the deeper analysis on my type, this version was not wholly inaccurate. Apparently my seemingly extraverted nature is a result of my moderate trend towards Feeling versus Thinking. Ah the Meyers Briggs model just keeps on cropping up in my life. Anyway, the reason I began with my need to be alone for certain periods of time is how I am currently trying to gather my strength for the coming week. I haven’t been in want of social contact. Today Nifty Neighbor came to join me for some tea and knitting (and pleasant conversation I must add), and last night I had the awesome pleasure of meeting a WordBridge colleague at World of Beer. Texas Rockstar met me at this magical bar, and we proceeded to yell at each other over the live music that insisted on compensating for its average quality by turning up the volume. Sore throat from yelling aside, I had the most wonderful time talking with this man because he is always a riot, and probably one of the most genuine people I know. I was afraid that the dregs of real life outside of the Lab might kill our conversational vibe, but my fear was quickly squashed with a vengeance within the first five minutes. I am so glad Texas Rockstar is a local, and I can’t begin to describe how much I look forward to the next chat. Those two occurrences aside, I have spent this day just enjoying the crafting pursuits of my basket and the new shawl I started. The basket will hopefully be picture worthy by tomorrow, and I am positively giddy to see ZeldaStark’s embellishing of her own receptacle (although, I hardly think it fair that she had two full days to make hers stunning while I had to piecemeal based on my schedule, but that previous statement sounds an awful lot like whining). In terms of the shawl, it is a glorious beaded confection of  alpaca in a soothing heathered purple. I am also delighted to be playing with an excellent app called Knit-knitting counter, which does all sorts of simple and nifty things that help me keep better track of my knitting. Whenever I knit lace, I will, almost without fail, work on it feverishly for two weeks, and then put it aside for a month or two before picking it up again. The problems with this pattern of knitting behavior is that I forget to mark where I am in the actual pattern, and with lace that is a supremely pretty thing to do (as the Knitmore Girls would say, sometimes we are more pretty than smart). Well, with this shawl, I am starting off right, a.k.a. smart. I organized my chart (so I stop tearing them to shreds/losing them), bumped up the needle size (so I would stop struggling with my gauge), placed two kinds of stitch markers (so I stop struggling with where things happen in the row), and I am happily plugging my progress into this new app so that I stop losing my place in the intervals where I am being unfaithful to my lace. Yeah, fun fact, it took me multiple lace projects to take these steps all at the same time. The definition of insanity is certainly applicable in my case. Tis no matter, the ultimate goal of all my private pursuits are to re-calibrate my inner fullness in preparation for the coming craziness. Next week is certainly going to be rather insane, seeing as how PNinja and I are now on our own to take care of a huge mess of notes in a short amount of time. The Lord has granted me the strength and courage to face much more frightening monsters, and I trust that His power can get us through this week. No matter what, the end of the week is going to prove wondrous fair considering the lovely and fantastic Handsome is coming for a brief visit.  My life is moving steadily, and mayhaps I will soon be able to get an indication of where it will continue to move in the more distant future. Til the morrow, hobey ho!

Immediately Happy

Work right now is hectic as things begin and end all over the place before they really are ready for either state of being. Despite the frustrations, I am so immediately full of happiness I am just riding on the air current until it is time to dive again. First, I just had a hair appointment. I know, I know, way to be a female who contributes to the stereotype. However, I care very little stereotypes, and the joy I feel from my hair is an expression of my inner identity using the limitations of my current physical shell. I enjoy taking care with my appearance because I am a creature who inherently wishes she could change the way she looks depending on the day. One day, an aqua mohawk, silver dragon wings sprouting from my back, sapphire eyes, and tattoos running all over. Another day, fire engine red hair falling well to the ground, sunflower yellow butterfly wings, molten irises, and skin that glows like an ember. Other days create such appearances that I would have a hard time describing through the medium of words. Alas, such changes to my appearance are not currently possible in this world, thus I make do with a haircut that allows me to see at least a glimmer of how I truly see myself. I am thankful that I found The Edge Salon, because getting a new person to cut my hair after nine years with the same stylist is a terrifying prospect, especially when the haircut is not exactly typical. My new stylist is an absolute delight, and though I do miss my other friend terribly, I am still really glad to find a place that can maintain my hair. I got it freshly colored tonight, which was an extra delight. The fine lady doing my hair created a subtle melted blend of autumn and chocolate, and I am absolutely content. As for my other happiness, I just feel beyond blessed in my current relationships. Though one in particular is highlighting this fact at present, I am just in awe of the fact that I know so many glorious people who enrich my life every day just with the knowledge that they allow me to be a presence in their lives. Though I consider the Lord to be the only One I can call a firm foundation, the people that He has allowed into my life have been a constant reminder of the love that follows me to any place I may wander. I love. I am loved. I fly.