Sunday, November 16, 2008

Change Agents

Things do not change; we change. ~Henry David Thoreau

What a year this has been with a campaign that spoke of change and an election that signaled not only the readiness for a change but simply caused a change by its very being! The economy is causing change of its own, from the adaptation of frugality by consumers to the way corporations are run. In this season of changing leaves, changing tides, changing habits, worries and anxiety tend to smother the sense of anticipation I love about times of change.

When change happens, we often tend to focus on what we may lose, not what we may gain. That sense of scarcity, that God will not provide or we are not worthy of what we have been given, well, it just creeps into our hearts and souls. With jobs lost, moves made, new family dynamics, different governance, even shifting seasons, we find ourselves struggling rather than seeing the good any given situation. No wonder when the time changes, people are affected emotionally.

As someone who never has done well during the time change, who finds herself affected by SADD, I have decided to adopt a new strategy this year. Instead of struggling with the feeling that I should stay up later and fight the habit of hibernating, I go to bed early and rejoice in getting up early to start my day. Instead of worrying about our office moving, I look to the advantages of the potential space and location. Instead of watching the stock market tank, I think about the fact that struggles often make us sterner stuff, able to handle more than we ever possibly could imagine.

Thoreau was right and to paraphrase Gandhi, we are the change in the world. There is something empowering about that. Bring change on, let us embrace it and the selves we become through it.

Peace, Julie

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spring Green

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. cummings

What do you look for in spring? Do you watch for dogwoods, the return of a certain bird, azaleas blooming? What is it about spring that makes you thank God?

I didn't realize, until the paint was on the wall, that the color I picked out for my redone laundry room is the same color as new leaves appearing on the deciduous trees in our area. There is something about that color that gets me every spring. Maybe because it appears on those dark limbs which had been bare all winter. Maybe because the color itself is so fleeting before the leaves turn darker as they manufacture more and more chlorophyll. Whatever the reason, I always look to those spring-dressed trees and say "I thank you God for this most amazing day."

I thank e.e. cummings for giving words to my praise. His poetry has always been a favorite of mine due to its style and whimsy. This particular work of his always lifts me up and makes me think about the God who is the Artist, the Fanciful One, the God of Good Humor and Beauty. With the past year of drought, it has been amazing that this spring is one of the most beautiful in recent memory. I find myself driving through subdivisions just to look at the tulips, dogwoods, redbud, hyacinths, and azaleas. Such a metaphor for times in our lives when we are dry, parched souls, and still beauty arises in our days. And again, I say, "I thank you God for this most amazing day."

My prayer for my friends, my family, myself: May we see the Spring in our own lives. May our bare spots be cloaked in the "leaping greenly spirit" of nature. May we will see the infinite nature of God, give thanks and let out a soul-stirring, "YES!" as our fists pump the air. Amen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Easter Egg Hunt

Quest by Quotation

Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness. ~Floyd W. Tomkins

In addition to strength, beauty, and happiness, what other "Easter eggs" would you like to find and put in your basket?

In designing my Easter card this year, I was reminded, we sometimes have to hunt for the promise of good things to come or lessons learned in dark times. I used a picture of a wooden cross on a hill overlooking a shrouded ocean on the coast of Hawaii. I took it last fall when I visited in the rainy season. On this northern part of the island, the climate mimicked early spring, before flowers bloom. On top of that, a barbed wire fence slashed across my view. The whole scene could easily have been a symbol of bleakness for me.

But it wasn't. I looked through my lens and saw my Easter card months down the line. I looked at the picture when I returned home and saw the promise of something inspiring and creative. I am normally not an optimistic person, even though I can see the good in situations. So I have to credit the promise of the Resurrection, with all its surprise, hope, peace, and joy, for my attitude.

There are "Easter eggs" I am looking for myself as Spring begins and Eastertide rolls in: purple perseverance, pink positive attitude, green gratitude, blue blessed assurance, orange optimism. I know I will find them, though some may be well hidden. God promised.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Taking a page from friends

Quest by Quotation

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

What books have been your friends, counselors and teachers?

Our book club met at my house this weekend. A good thing too. I was motivated to get my book read, even in the midst of having the latest "virus de jour." It also has given me the motivation to read because my job, with its work and commuting hours, eats into my reading time. Great job, just not enough time in the day anymore!

I can remember as a child diving into Little Women and All Creatures Great and Small when I needed solace. I found the same sense of peace, escape, advice, and enjoyment as an adult after my mother died. When I took a sabbatical, the world seemed to be a cruel place and I grieved the sudden loss of my mother and my vocation. I retreated to the world of books, as I had done as a child. After all, I hadn't read anything but non-fiction and theology for years.

Happy ever after fiction, comforting words from Henri Nouwen, craft books teaching me new skills all filled my too spacious days. These "friends...counselors...teachers" sustained me. Now, in the middle of another life transition, I miss the hours I spent gobbling up the pages but find the limited time with my books even more precious.

So what friends, counselors, and teachers are on your nightstand or coffee table...should you plan a visit with them?

Peace and happy reading.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Working it out

Quest by Quotation

Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul the work of the soul, and good for either the work of the other. ~Henry David Thoreau

Are you keeping the work of your body and work of your soul balanced? How will you maintain or rediscover each so you can at peace in yourself?

I determined I would make sure I did three things when I started working outside my home again: keep up with my friends and family, read for pleasure, and exercise. So far, I am able to say I have done at least two out of the three each day.

The one thing I make sure I do every day is exercise. Boot camp style DVDs, walking followed by thirty minutes of stretching, strength training using free weights. I do them all, plus yoga burn, meditation, and I am getting ready to crack open a DVD featuring Pilates. I am as eclectic when it comes to exercise as I am concerning books. Being too easily bored, I have to mix it up.

It is amazing how I come home from work, lace up my exercise shoes, and get to it outside or in. I am determined to get the endorphins flowing, banish the kinks from my neck and shoulders, and ultimately put my "job" work aside until the next day.

I do the same in the morning but for my soul, not body. I read The Upper Room, do a class from Spirituality and Practice, read other assorted emails of a spiritual bent. I may save some for the afternoon when I return home, or even for the weekend, but I get em done and have them in my brain for the rest of the day.

I am not balanced yet but I am working it out, working on it, working toward it. Work can be a good thing for the body, mind and long as it is in proper proportion.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Choices We Make

Quest by Quotation

Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant. ~Anthony Robbins

What choices are you facing? Are you afraid to make a choice, realizing it may change your life? Consider making a small decision today in order to gradually make the big decision facing you.

All I have been doing the last few months, or so it seems, is make decisions. Apply for a certain job. Turn down a second interview. Go back for a second interview.

Now I have a new job and you would think my life would be simpler. One major hurdle out of the way. But NO! What schedule will I have in my twenty hour job? Do I wear more color than the much younger staff or fade back to black? Do I want a lap or desk top computer?

Ah, that last one decision was difficult to make. I am a person who can see both sides of any situation. The lap top would be used by potentially more people. But then so would the desktop and could be taken into the field. I could use my ergonomic keyboard with either one. I could take the laptop home.

Whoa! At this point, though my job can grow and I am paid for each hour I work, I know my workaholic tendencies would make it easy for me to work at home and not write, create cards or relax. So my decision to get a desktop was based on making sure I left work behind (at least in a physically symbolic way).

Taking control of my life through making one of many choices we make each day, I already feel more relaxed.

May your decisions bring you peace and may making the choice to make a decision bring you peace as well.

Peace, Julie

Monday, February 18, 2008

Living a Full Life

Quest by Quotation

The remarkable thing is that it is the crowded life that is most easily remembered. A life full of turns, achievements, disappointments, surprises, and crises is a life full of landmarks. The empty life has even its few details blurred, and cannot be remembered with certainty. Eric Hoffer

Would you say your life is full or empty? Write down the "turns, achievements, disappointments, surprises, and crises" of the last month and see how full it maybe.

I admit it. I hadn't the impetus to write between the middle of December and now. The cajoling of friends didn't do it. The need to be creative didn't do it. All that time and nothing really to show for it. But here I am, writing again. Why now?

The short answer is that my husband got up at 4:30AM this morning, and, therefore, so did I. The longer answer is that I have started a new job, life is fuller, and I alway seem to write best when I don't "have the time."

Nothing like typing "full life" into and getting Eric Hoffer's quote. It affirmed to me the sense that I have of the universe lining up the way it is for a reason. The time I had off from full-time, non-temporary assignments was full in other regards. But it was time to move forward and I have been blessed enough to find a job that makes a difference in people's lives while allowing me to have more time with my family. With a first grandbaby coming, that is even more of a priority.

Prepping for my new job hire, as I practiced answering behavioral interviewing questions, allowed me to revisit the "turns, acheivements, disappointments, surprises, and crises" of my life. "Talk about a time when you failed at something." "Describe a time when you had to be prepared for any eventuality." "What do you consider your best acheivement." My spouse and I went through one hundred of those types of questions. A crash course in life reflection in the space of a week. A full life, getting more interesting all the time. All that pondering has cleared the deck for the next portion of my life and learning.

So here I go....