Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Be still, and know that I am God.
It seems simple... But how challenging is it to take this SERIOUSLY?!?! How much do I contribute to my own suffering by getting caught up in my own goals only to have the rug pulled out from underneath me?! And then I find myself kneeling, resting on the flow of grace, doing God's work.
Being still is counter cultural. However it is consistently my path. Be still and let the Spirit MOVE. Take action steps when necessary, but do so rested on the flow of the Creator. I might want to do any number of things (snow shoe, hike, take extra classes, go sledding, and the list goes on.....) But when I do MY WILL, my health suffers.
I dodged a bullet this week. My body appears to be OK after the ER visit a week ago. It's possible that I'm having adrenal trouble - adrenal glands can atrophy after being on Prednisone... And this can be very dangerous. But here's the blessing...The doc is NOT going to put me back on steroids thank God! That said, Im on a short leash. I need to go slow, get lots of rest and let my adrenals heal. I'm not sure what that means in terms of what I WANT (including horse riding, school, etc)... But I'm clear that my only job at this moment is to BE STILL and get out of God's way. This is usually when the really cool ministry work emerges. And so I shall stay humble and open.
When I last spent time with this board of directors I was married, it was before the accident, and my daughter was only 8 weeks old on the first flight down there. I was nursing during session breaks, staying up all night with my screaming baby, and working all day in DC.
In my life now, I'm deeply committed to Ministry, my healing journey, my theological studies, my art and my job as a single parent... it's hard to imagine what my life used to be like. Following the call isn't an easy path. It certainly doesn't come with the glamour of my former life. But every now and then it's important for me to remember what I've done on the path to where I am now and where I'm going. It's all still me and all still a part of who I am, I just keep growing!
Monday, November 7, 2016
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Today I'm illuminating a brilliant quote from Marianne Williamson. I carried this with me every day of my life after it was given to me by a dear friend. As i grow older, I'm coming to realize the power of this message. As women, we will be told to play small, avoid offending others, speak softly, make less money, and so on....lest we offend the men in our lives. No! We are all born to make manifest the glory of God within. It's courageous to live into the call...afterall...no one said it would be easy.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Today I begin with Maya Angelou, Still I Rise.
Maya Angelou, 1928 - 2014
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Just 6 weeks after stopping the Prednisone, this last picture was taken.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Saturday, September 24, 2016
"In Elizabeth Lesser’s new memoir, Marrow, she writes, “Human beings learn in strange and broken ways.” Ironically, our wholeness is a product of that broken learning. Without sharing the part of us that has been shattered, or is unpopular, or invisible, we lose out on our potential to teach just by being who we are."
View complete blog post - OnBeing
Monday, August 29, 2016
I'm off the prednisone. Major accomplishment.. Today i went for a horse walk and achieved my fitbit step goal of 7000 steps. I'm slowly increasing it. I also had energy for the first time since stopping...and slept through the night for the first time last night. All progress!
But here's my honest struggle. i had it happen again where i didn't recognize myself in the mirror. No idea why i was more swollen today than yesterday....and on top of it, i have some clogged eye pore thing that makes my eye look weird. Awesome. Thankfully i caught it early.
Truthfully... i thought I'd get off the prednisone and return to normal overnight. That sounds silly to say, but it's kind of true. I mean...the swelling happened overnight!
But now I'm putting the journey into perspective and attempting to ask the bigger questions. How am i to LOVE myself through this part of the journey? How am i to let others LOVE me when all I want to do is hide.
I talk about being body positive....but this is badass.
If you don't know about prednisone and weight, here's a good synopsis about changes to ones appearance:
"Steroids affect your metabolism and how your body deposits fat. This can lead to weight gain, and in particular lead to extra deposits of fat in your abdomen (and face). Don't let weight gain damage your self-esteem. Know that the weight will come off - and your stomach return to its normal size - relatively easily in the six months to a year after you discontinue steroids."
Awesome. So the journey continues.
Saturday, August 20, 2016
Friday, August 19, 2016
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Today's journey....quite simple really....quit coffee and drop the prednisone by another 5mg. Note that every 5mg drop is the equivalent of an entire human replacement dose of steroid for people without functioning adrenals.
The good news is that my BP is coming down. My heart rate is a runaway train tho...and we are watching it. And I'm still swollen like the blueberry girl on Willy Wonka....that'll go down soon. But this is the mess of transformation. Through this experience, i have learned to be REAL in ways i never thought possible. And I've learned to rely on the movement of God to power my ministry, instead of the driving will that taps into my life force- that was my old way as a CEO. And I've learned that even in the midst of their own suffering, my homeless friends want to make sure that I'm ok....think about that for a moment.....such GRACE. i may not always like the way i learn...but I'm willing....because this is the Call.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Sunday, August 14, 2016
I was given the gift of this Rumi poem today in an incredibly POWERFUL cranial sacral session.
"The antidote is in the venom." -Rumi
Prednisone. Learning. Swelling. Transforming. True self. Not hiding even as my body feels poisoned and swollen from the steroids. It's all badass courage preparing me for the Call.
The Root of the Root of Your Self
Don’t go away, come near.
Don’t be faithless, be faithful.
Find the antidote in the venom.
Come to the root of the root of yourself.
Molded of clay, yet kneaded
from the substance of certainty,
a guard at the Treasury of Holy Light —
come, return to the root of the root of your Self.
Once you get hold of selflessness,
You’ll be dragged from your ego
and freed from many traps.
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.
You are born from the children of God’s creation,
but you have fixed your sight too low.
How can you be happy?
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.
You were born from a ray of God’s majesty
and have the blessings of a good star.
Why suffer at the hands of things that don’t exist?
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.
You are a ruby embedded in granite.
How long will you pretend it’s not true?
We can see it in your eyes.
Come to the root of the root of your Self.
You came here from the presence of that fine Friend,
a little drunk, but gentle, stealing our hearts
with that look so full of fire; so,
come, return to the root of the root of your Self.
Our master and host, Shamsi Tabrizi,
has put the eternal cup before you.
Glory be to God, what a rare wine!
So come, return to the root of the root of your Self.
So, I think about this scene often, and especially in the last couple of weeks. I have written about the fact that I have been struggling with health issues this summer. Sudden hearing loss. Dysautonomia. Now weaning off of prednisone. I haven't struggled this much since I had the traumatic brain injury in 2011. Yet, it has been balanced by the most incredible gifts. I have continued to walk through school even in the midst of discomfort. I have allowed other people to see me going through the challenge - no hiding. And my work in ministry continues to THRIVE - perhaps now more than ever before.
But the transformation comes with it's own version of "death therapy" - in other words, the things that make me feel like I am standing on scary ground.
OK, sounds silly, but I might get my first B since i was a freshman in college (Calculus). And before that it was 7th grade (Shop). I could end up getting a C this quarter. I have no clue. It could be an A when all of my final projects are in. The truth is...I have no idea. NON-BEING! HA!
But seriously... grades have been a source of compulsion for me for much of my life only to be replaced by the "gold stars" that come with high work performance. Don't even get me started on how i went through my last two years as an undergrad....just to hear the computer say "congratulations". Yeah...you only heard "STARman" (University of Washington) say CONGRATULATIONS when you got a 4.0. Confession - I got addicted to it.
I know it seems silly, but we all have our things. Grades are one of the big ones. The other is my body. I have talked about having an eating disorder before on this blog. It started so simple - a comment by my boyfriend at the time that he didn't like my body. He said it in a way that was cruel, angry, and devastating. Truthfully, he was having his own body issues - a muscled guy eating 1200 calories a day to lose weight rapidly because he was dissatisfied with his appearance. At the time, I weighed 126 pounds. I was healthy, but I was turning into a woman. I didn't look 16 any more.
When we got married, we lived under the paradigm that I needed to lose weight. Note that my wedding dress had a 26.5 inch waist. Shortly after the wedding, we signed up with a top personal trainer and nutritionist. My trainer was a former Marine Drill Sergeant. He taught me how to train for hours and hours in the gym bootcamp style. I kept my calories restricted. I dropped to 14% body fat. It took me years to finally learn what was happening - Anorexia. Exercise Bulimia. Orthorexia. In total, I spent 15 years like this.
Throughout the entire process, I received the external validation that I craved. People constantly told me how amazing I looked...yet it wasn't REAL. My health was deteriorating. I had to get my gall bladder out due to rapid weight loss. I developed hypoglycemia. My metabolism was shot. I had chronic neck and back injuries from over-training...and more....
But then I got an injury to my brain. This is the kind of injury that brings veterans and professional athletes to their knees. I went up to 200 pounds after the injury because my hypothalamus was affected, and there was NOTHING I could do about it. The intellect that I relied upon for external validation in the form of grades (and subsequently work performance) was no longer the same. No one knew when I would be "better" or even if I would ever recover. No one is prepared for that kind of walk into the unknown. Talk about "death therapy." This is facing NON BEING at it's finest.
After a few months, my husband told me he didn't love me any more and that our marriage was fundamentally broken. Rock bottom. But that was where the truth emerged. I am lovable - fundamentally, completely, lovable just existing on this planet. There is absolutely nothing about me that needs to be a "certain way." I found my anchor. It was no longer about other people's opinions or external validation - it was about God. As a child of God, I have inherent value. And if I have that value, so do others - even and especially those on the margins. Thus began my walk into the Call of God - and I have since learned that my walk is with people undergoing transformation...people in the mess of life...people experiencing great suffering....people that don't want to be SEEN in it, but there is nothing they can do about it.
Letting go of the idolotry of other people's opinions is a badass journey. It's easy to just say that I just don't care about what other people think. But it's not a switch that can be turned off. Just like every other part of me, I just love the part of myself that yearns for acceptance, LOVE, appreciation, validation. It is in that yearning and in the unmet needs that God pours out God's grace. It's like Augustine said - "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, Oh God."
Being so willing to relentlessly follow the Call of God that I am willing to let go of EVERYTHING is where my happiness resides now. This is the concept of self-emptying, and it allows me to follow the nudges of the Spirit when it moves.
Thus, I am going through another transformation. I will be honest - It is frightening to me. My body is swollen from prednisone and I don't recognize myself when I look in the mirror. My intellect is also rewiring also, as I develop new ways of thinking and processing theological information. My ability to perform academically has been challenged for sure. Yet, this is how I am called to walk through the world at the moment - exposed - for everyone to see.
This is my "What About Bob" moment. And the question is...Am I willing to let go of external validation and allow God to work?
I say Yes to God.
We all have a path to walk. This is mine. And I finally have the courage to post some photos from these times in my life. Shining a light for everyone to see is a part of my ministry. It is with an abundance of courage that I shine a light on this.
|Photo taken last week reaching out to some homeless friends.|
Following GOD's CALL now.
These are my people. This is my CHURCH.
|In the midst of my eating disorder.|
Back then, I thought I still needed to
Friday, August 12, 2016
I have been contemplating that Life is Movement as we move forward through (or exist within as some might think) the kenosis (or self-emptying) of God. This was beautifully captured by the above video showing the vortex of the solar system moving through space. And it got me thinking - how much of human suffering and pain is caused by our lack of willingness to allow the energy to move? Of course, this doesn't account for EVIL in the world (that's a different ballgame), but there is a great deal of pain (I know I experience it) that comes from failing to LET GO...to EMPTY...so that the movement can continue.
This brings me to a quote by Tillich that is among my favorites -
"Therefore, everything finite is innately anxious that its substance will be lost. This anxiety refers to continuous change as well as to the final loss of substance. Every change reveals the relative nonbeing of that which changes....Anxiety about change is anxiety about the THREAT of non-being implied in change. It is manifest in all great changes of personal and social life, which produce a kind of individual or social dizziness, a feeling that the ground on which the person or group has stood is being taken away, that self-identity or group identity is being destroyed" (Tillich Systematic Theology Volume One Page 107)
From a place of personal reflection, the health issues I am going through at the moment are a part of learning to be fluid. That fluidity requires allowing others to SEE me in the midst of it, as I let go of my tendency to want to HIDE my discomfort for the benefit of others. It is humbling, uncomfortable, counter cultural and ultimately exposed to allow oneself to be noticed by others in the midst of the mess of transformation. Interestingly, though, it is through this very process of allowing myself to be SEEN that I am developing an even deeper understanding of what it means to be among the most vulnerable on the margins of society – and those are the people that I walk with in ministry.
Over time, I have come to see myself as a Neoplatonic thinker. Although I have eyes that look at the world (Aristotle), I see God in everything – this is the “seeing through” of Neoplatonism and even Celtic Christianity, where the tree, the stars, the single atom, is all a reflection of the God of Mystery – or the God beyond the God of our understanding. This was address in a book I was reading where the author quoted Ilia Delio (one of my favorites): “…Christianity must take into account that in this second Axial Period we are moving into a world that is globally conscious, ecologically sensitive, communal, and mindful of the evolution of the whole cosmos” (Vincie 69). This quote captures the change to a new phase in our human journey, one that I believe revisits the Neoplatonism of the ancient world while integrating our scientific understanding gained through the Aristotelian period of theology. To best capture my thinking on this topic, I have included an original poem (by me) below:
If God is in the Mountain
If God is in ME
The Mountain is ALSO in me.