Monday, December 28, 2009

phase book

“Hi, I’m booklady and I have an addictive personality,” she drawls, standing up, addressing the circular group.

“Hi booklady,” the group choruses back at her.

Okay. It could be a joke. We certainly use it as a joke around our house whenever we want to laugh at one of our weaknesses.

Or it could be for real.

For many throughout the world, addictions are no laughing matter. They are real and they destroy lives ... homes, marriages, families, schools, and even entire towns.

If we laugh at them it is only because we need to keep from crying—because once we start, we may not be able to stop.

I do have an addictive personality.

Twenty-four years ago I quit smoking. I called it a Christmas gift for my husband the first year we were married. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done up until then.

I continue to struggle with addictions—and addictive-like behavior—in other areas of my life including eating, spending money, relationships, even exercise.

Recently however, I decided to give up facebook. Why? Because I liked it too much. It was wonderful, mindless escapism: collecting “friends”; “visiting” them; building cute little farms; setting up aquariums and towns; playing games; trading Christmas decorations and buddy hugs; sending cards and “hearts”, smiles and saints, chattering, chattering, on and on and and . . .

Woa! Wait a minute! I found myself slipping deeper and deeper into the delightful and colorful little world of iconography that is the spell of facebook … and I suppose other similar computer and technical other-worlds for those of us who find it hard to separate fantasy from reality.

I remembered the old-fashioned method for losing weight: doing push-outs. Push yourself out and away from the table. I’m sure there are many less drastic ways to remain ‘faced-in’ –even for addictive-types like me—but I decided I could live without facebook. What I didn’t know was how I could go on living with it.

One dear friend called me fifteen minutes after I closed my account to discover what had happened. I assured her that I hadn’t been phished or received a virus. Nothing bad had happened to me or my computer; I’d just decided to quit. She understood immediately; she’s that kind of friend.

A week later, my own family hadn’t even noticed I’d quit, nor that I was hardly ever on my computer anymore. (sigh) But then my dear husband didn’t notice when I gave up smoking either.

Well never mind.

We don’t do the right thing for the recognition. We do the right thing because it is the right thing.

That’s my story ... my phase book. Now I'll sit down.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

changing pictures, passing time

One of the hardest things in the world for me to do is change out my children’s pictures. You know what I mean? When you receive the new photos which undeniably reveal they’ve grown another foot, or moved from one stage into another, you can no longer pretend time isn’t passing. Our children – and especially their annual pictures – present us with regular reminders that life is moving in one direction … and it isn’t backwards.

We’re getting ready today to leave for a Christmas trip to visit my family in St. Louis. There’s laundry, packing and a million things to prepare. The cat sleeping in my lap doesn’t know he’s about to be left behind again. Among the many things we’re bringing with us are photos of our daughters. So it seemed as good a time as any to change out some very old 8x10 pictures of the girls – dating back from when they were still in grade school – which have sat atop our living room wall unit all these years. My sister constantly teases me for leaving up old pictures of the kids. Good mother that she is, she faithfully and promptly trades out the new for old pictures of her children every year. She’s even one of those super moms who does scrapbooking and has books from present all the way back to when her oldest was born!

Not me. I started out with the best intentions, but Air Force moves, health problems, homeschooling and probably (mostly!) my own distracted, lazy personality redirected my efforts down other avenues. Or maybe it’s just that I can take the pictures of my girls but then I can’t bring myself to look at them again later. Even the ones hanging on my walls are just there. It isn’t often I really look at them.

Maybe that’s why I procrastinate updating old pictures – I don’t like to be reminded that my babies are growing up.

Today, however, it was different.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a single person’s home. And this wasn’t just a nice place, it was a really, really nice house. It was in fact lovely: gorgeously decorated, everything new and in pristine order, like a house out of magazine. Every room was a work of art; overall, an exquisite creation of beauty and perfection, a joy to behold.

I felt sad when I left there. When I thought about my own house, I confess to more than a twinge of envy.

Well for one thing, ours is a home and it’s very lived-in. The other night my husband was working hard to get bright pink (fuchsia!) nail polish out of the living room carpet. Our daughters know they are supposed to paint their toes in the bathroom but . . . well, when you live with teenagers, you cohabit with chaos. Does that tell you anything for starters?

Moving on... most of our carpets are at least sixteen years old and they look it. The furniture is that old too, or older. Books spill off the bookshelves and there are baskets of craft projects all over the house; the girls and I love to crochet, weave, bead, draw, etc. Right now my daughter’s miniature origami nativity sets line the kitchen counter. Folded clothes cover table tops and the ironing board is set up in the living room in front of the Christmas tree. My husband and I are giving each other a new hot water heater this year for Christmas . . . and considering ourselves very blessed to be able to afford to do so. It’s certainly a lived-in home. We have many happy memories shared under the roof of this messy, old, lived-in home.

As I mentioned above, I didn’t mind so much changing out the girls’ pictures today. Yes, they are older and so am I. Yes, our home is shabbier and so am I. But I wouldn’t trade my well-worn home or self or my life with Bear and our daughters for the plushest mansion anywhere.

The girls' new pictures look very nice by the way.

From our not-so-fancy home to yours, have a very Blessed Christmas and New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

As we are created to be

From service dog to SURFice dog, Ricochet's wise trainer, let her be who she was created to be.

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."
— Thomas Merton

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Max and Benedict

Shhh! Don't anyone tell but I got this book for my pastor for Christmas.

Today I read and really enjoyed it. Personally I think it's better than Joseph and Chico, Ms. Perego's first children's book about Pope Benedict XVI. I'm not sure exactly why but I think because it doesn't read like a biography forced into a children's story. For me, Max and Benedict seemed to flow. It sounded like what it was, 'a bird's eye view of the Pope's daily life', a story told by a little bird about a gentle, quiet, scholarly man of the cloth.

My pastor (who doesn't want anyone to know what a nice guy he is) leaves bird seed just outside my office window most mornings. I know it's him because I've 'caught' him doing it a few times. A little bird must have told him I like to watch the birds ... or did he just catch me staring out the window so often he figured it out on his own? The secretaries tell me he'd planned to cut down the tree and bushes in our little shared courtyard sanctum and turn the area into office space. Now he's putting out birdseed?

Yes, we do need the office space, but we need that little bit of private nature even more.

I hope that Max in Jeanne Perego's charming little tale wins his heart and convinces him to keep the birds. Perhaps among all the birds feeding outside our windows, there is a little Max observing, singing and telling a story of our parish and the kind pastor who pretends to be so gruff ... but really isn't.

Read and share this sweet story. Thanks to my friend and the parish 'Cookie Monster' for the recommendation! And may you have a very Happy Birthday dear Lyn!

Check out my books on Goodreads!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pink Glove Dance

Linda Van Nelson's daughter-in-law, created, directed and choreographed this in Portland last week for her Medline glove division as a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. This was all her idea to help promote their new pink gloves. I don't know how she got so many employees, doctors and patients to participate, but it started to really catch on and they all had a lot of fun doing it.

When the video gets 1 million hits, Medline will be making a huge contribution to the hospital, as well as offering free mammograms for the community. Please check it out. It's an easy and great way to donate to a wonderful cause, and who hasn't been touched by breast cancer?

God bless all those affected by this difficult disease!