Thursday, August 30, 2012
Finally! Last night I was in the kitchen when I saw the tell tale flash of orange down in the garden. A Monarch! The first of the season. I grabbed my camera and headed down. I found this mostly intact male, except for a small notch out of his right hindwing. Last year, I bet I only saw one or two and they were early in the spring. I had planted at least a dozen tropical milkweed plants that my sister had grown from seed, and they had really thrived in the garden, growing to probably 4-5 feet tall. And yet, they were never consumed by the little cats I knew surely would be devouring them by the fall. The Monarchs were simply very few in number. Many felt it was a result of the tornados that came through our area in April, blowing them off their migration paths. I missed them and hated that all that milkweed went to waste. One of them actually reseeded itself this year and is now maybe 2 ft tall just waiting for a mama Monarch to come along and deposit her eggs. Crossing my fingers that this is just the beginning of many I'll see on their migration southward.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
|A recent sunrise off my back deck.|
One of my goals in this fifth decade in life is to learn to be quiet. I mean, really quiet. As in fully-still-my-mind quiet. I am the consummate extrovert and constantly engaging people and the world. My mind flies a thousand miles an hour sometimes. Even at night, when I am tired and in bed with darkness surrounding me, my mind drifts to what all happened in my day and what will happen the next day. And yes, even when I am trying to pray, I find my mind distracted and before I know it, I forget what I was even praying about. It's like a radio constantly on. The chatter is endless at times.
How I would love to stand on my back deck in the early morning as the sun is coming up over the ridge like in the photo above, and fully take it in with a quiet mind without my real focus being on what the day will bring. When we are quiet, we can take ourselves to a place of pure contentment and feel the presence of spirit within ourselves. To that end, I am looking forward to learning more about meditation and maybe centering prayer. I long to be able to, in the midst of chaos and anxiousness, still my mind, breathe, and let it go. I want to take myself to a place where I am not reactive or letting fear be in control.
Quiet is an uncomfortable place for many of us. I remember when our new priest came and asked that we write in "silence for reflection" in the church bulletin after each of the two scripture readings and his sermon. Everyone seemed to squirm uncomfortably in the pews just sitting for a full minute or two in silence. In church, no less. Those quiet minutes felt like an eternity. We, as a society, are bombarded with input during our waking hours. We have our televisions on, music playing in our cars and in our ears via iPods, and rarely experience silence. Our minds are truly never quiet and restful unless we are asleep.
The Rev. Ed Bacon, who I referenced in my last post gave a great analogy about the need for stillness and quiet. He said we need to think of our daily lives as being like silty water, murky and always stirred up due to the constant movement. It is only when we are still that the silt can fall to the bottom and the water is once again clear. It is only then when we can feel connected to the spirit within us and can breathe and focus on what matters. Oh, how I am ready to see some clear water in my day. How about you?
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Funny (not funny ha ha, but funny ironic) that I should tune in today to watch a show I recorded on my DVR of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, and who should be on there with her talking about spirituality and religion, but Ed Bacon. The same Rev. Ed Bacon who introduced Diana Butler Bass at All Saint's Church in the video I posted yesterday. I found the entire episode on Oprah's web site, and if any of this topic intrigues you, it's definitely worth watching. You can find it HERE
Monday, August 20, 2012
Saturday, August 18, 2012
I am reading a fascinating book called Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass. Here is one of the first quotes I read which made me know I'd enjoy this book: "One minister wrote about the "difference between religion and faith," saying that "religion seeks conformity and control -- scriptural infallibility and literalism, imposition of beliefs upon others -- and cannot abide any other way of encountering God that falls outside of it's defined boundaries. Faith seeks freedom and life for all to experience God on their own terms and in their own ways -- and then allows for communal experiences and collaboration to build a better world."
In the book, the author chronicles the progression of how we've practiced religion and faith in this country and how the status quo is no longer identified by the majority of people as the way they see their faith lives. The majority of people now call themselves "spiritual" but not "religious." She attempts to explore what that means and how it is changing how we practice faith in our lives. People are fully turned off by institutional "church." They don't want to hear dogma and be told they must profess certain tenants to be a part of a group. They don't want to be told how to interpret the word of God. They tend to want to live their faith through experiences of the spirit. And that means walking the walk, not showing up in a building each Sunday at 11 am. They want to know that it's OK to question things and have doubts and believe in the mystery of how things came to be and not be judged or made to feel they are not true believers.
I saw this poster of the Ten Native American Commandments when Googling "spirituality" and felt it was a great representation of where it seems many people are in their faith journeys now. It is really quite simple. And it's where I've found myself for many, many years. A questioning believer. One who feels that we all need to come from a place of love in all we do and in all our interactions with others. I've never felt like I had to believe any certain things in my faith, and I've never felt as if my faith is the "right faith" and all others are wrong or misguided. There are many, many paths to God. The church that I attend is a place that allows me to just be me and feel His presence. It could be any church, but I found I was drawn to the beauty of liturgical worship. I love that even though we are all in different places in our faith journeys, we can still come together as a family and have time during the week where all our focus is on our spiritual lives. It matters not to me if someone chooses to do that in a church or chooses to do it by being out in nature, or taking time to look up at the stars and feel connected to the love in the universe. It's all the same really. Do we walk in love and beauty and focus on making this world a better place by our actions and the way we live, or do we choose to be self-centered and judgmental? Calling oneself a "Christian" these days has taken on a rather negative connotation as it tends to be associated with piety, narrow mindedness, and exclusivity. That makes me sad. Being a follower of Christ to me truly means radical love and acceptance and that means it's not my place to know what is right for anyone, but rather that I should let them take their journey and treat them as I'd want to be treated. Yes, it's really that simple in my mind. You know, that "love thy neighbor as thyself" stuff. Radical.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
|Sam enjoys the indoor pool recently at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.|
Twenty years ago today, I gave birth to a 9 pound, 3 ounce baby boy who we named Samuel Preston. I vividly remember driving home with him strapped securely in his car seat, and thinking, "Oh my, what do I do with this baby now?" Much time has passed and many struggles have ensued, but we made it through the storms my baby boy and me. He's growing to be such a sweet, endearing young man, and all who get the opportunity to know him, love him dearly. I am an infinitely better person for having him in my life, and I feel so blessed to be his mom. Happy birthday buddy. I could not be prouder of you my son and I love you with all the depths of my soul.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Back in 1996, my parents purchased a home for rental property. The lady who sold them the home told my Dad there were some things in the loft over the garage, but that she did not want them, and he could do whatever he wanted with them. One of the things in the garage loft area was this beautiful cedar chest above. The bottom of it looked rather rough and the finish was needing some repairing. He asked me if I'd like to to have it, so I took it home with the intention of refinishing the outside and having a beautiful chest. I've stored blankets and such in it as the inside is in wonderful shape and still has a glorious cedar aroma. Life got in the way and I never did refinish it, but still loved it and moved it to the bonus room here in our new home.
A few months back, I was searching for something I thought I'd put in the chest and opened it for the first time in a long while. As I was looking at it and wondering who it had previously belonged to, the plaque on the lid caught my eye. On first glance, it seemed nothing was on the plaque, but when I shone a light on it, I gasped... there in very fine cursive script were the names Geneva Marie Browder and John Lemuel Browder. Now I had a mystery on my hands! I started by trying to find out something regarding the age of this chest. The manufacturer's sticker was still in the lid which stated it met the standards of the TN Entomology Society in 1927 and that it was a Cavalier Cedar Chest made by the Chattanooga Furniture Company. I found a web site that showed this particular style of tag which dates this Cavalier chest to the 1930's. There was also this sweet explanation of the importance of these chests at one time:
"Basically, the chest provides a place to store fabric articles so that moths won't get at them. However, the marriage-related themes on the paper labels indicate that most of these were used as a "Hope Chest." Typically, this would be a gift from parents to a young lady on or about her 14th birthday (or so). The young lady then began a quaint ritual of assembling items for her dream home and storing them in this chest. This would include works of knitting, embroidery and/or crochet, to be augmented by occasional silver place settings given on birthdays and holidays."
I've searched and searched for something about Geneva and John Browder with little success. I did find that there was a John Lemuel Browder who was born in June of 1895 in Pisgah, AL but no trace of a Geneva as his bride. I'd dearly love to find some descendants of these souls and see if anyone would want this wonderful heirloom. The lady who sold the home to my parents is long deceased and so I do not know the connection she had to this chest. It makes me smile when I think about Geneva setting up house with this lovely chest and I wonder what beautiful things it once held in preparation for her eventual marriage to John.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
I remember well being in my late 20's and wondering if I'd ever find "the one." I knew I wanted to have children and I even remember having a conversation with my mom and saying that if by the time I was 30 and still had no prospects, I'd consider single motherhood. Older me now laughs at my young naiveté. When a friend suggested we check out Matchmaker International, I was game. They were the first in the "we'll find you a love match" business, and I figured, what the heck. If I could give them my "OK" and "not OK" list and they could narrow down prospective dates, I was game. Husband was my third date. We met August 11th, he proposed November 11th, and we were married February 9th the following year. After only six months. Six months. We scratch our heads after 22+ years and say, "What the heck were we thinking?" I was almost 28 years old with no clue of who I was or what I wanted in life, or in a partner really.
Sam was born two years later and I became a mom at 30. I fully shifted into the full and complete caregiver mode. I was a wife and a mother and a nurse. I gave and gave and gave.... to everyone, but me. Three years later, Sam was diagnosed with autism, and I became "the fixer and rescuer" who was going to do everything in my power to eradicate the autism out of my son. With steadfast determination and myopic focus, my own life was further put on the back burner. My weight ballooned as I nurtured myself with food. I'm not sure exactly how I got through all those years emotionally, as I felt so alone and so isolated doing it all by myself. Finally, finally... the brakes went on. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of how I ate and ate and began to do the work of healing myself from the inside. Part of that was learning who Jayne was, as I really did not know her. The weight was shed and what emerged was someone who would no longer settle for the status quo. Part of seeing myself as worthy and wonderful meant shedding and changing relationships with people who were used to my putting in all the effort and being the proverbial door mat.
I am a completely different person than I was in this photo. I've changed so much, and yet I am still evolving daily. I can easily see now why so many marriages end at this point in the game. When kids are older, menopause is upon you, and the focus has to shift inward for sanity's sake, it's a game changer. One spouse is used to the relationship being what it's always been, from one end at least... other-focused. But there comes a time when it truly has to become self-focused, and that's when all bets are off. I don't want to feel responsible for "taking care" of everyone and everything and resent the implication that I should. As a matter of fact, I wish someone would "take care" of me for once. I've never had that... seems like it might be a mighty nice thing. This seems to be a universal theme among women who reach 50. There is much compromising that needs to take place for marriages to survive this time when partners look in the mirror and say, "What about me?" It takes open and honest conversation to navigate these waters. I find myself now contemplating how I want to spend the next 20-30 years of my life. Transitions are about change and growth, and honestly owing who you are and who you want to be. It's all part of living an authentic life.
Saturday, August 04, 2012
|Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird perched in the Crepe Myrtle.|
Is there anything more resilient than a hummingbird? They know that the road in front of them each season is plagued with danger and seemingly impossible odds... and yet, they go. They fly thousands of miles, and then do it all again months later to return to their nesting grounds. There is something to be said for putting your head down into the wind and just flying. Not getting stuck on how hard it is and how frustrated you are, or how unfair things are, but just moving forward. We, as humans, have a very difficult time learning to just let things go. It's hard to take the journey just because you need to, but I am a firm believer that the universe continually presents me with situations that challenge those parts of me that I need to work on. My need to be in control is large. My need to have others see things as I see them is something I can just now, after 50 years, truly laugh about. After all, if everyone would just do things my way (the right way) all would be well in the world, right?
It has taken much work and a good bit of reflection and growing to realize that I can only control what "I" do, and to learn to let people be who they are, accept situations for what they are, and not let it make me nuts about my lack of control to change things. My frustration in those situations only makes "me" suffer. I am a work in progress for sure. Some days are better than others. But I do know I am so looking forward to the day when I can, like the hummingbirds, put my face into the headwind joyfully and just keep on moving forward.
Thursday, August 02, 2012
|Sam in front of the Civil War and Locomotive Museum recently.|
Our biggest accomplishment for the year, however, started in January of this year. I had brought home a cookie for him from a box a vendor had left in our break room at work. I thought it was simply chocolate chip. He took all of two bites when he started complaining of his mouth 'feeling funny' and he promptly threw up then developed a lovely rash. Thankfully, the anaphylaxis did not progress, I got 50mg of Benadryl in him, and off we went to see his old allergist whom we'd not seen since 2005. Dr. W diagnosed him with a tree nut allergy as I found out from Kroger that the cookies did indeed have pecans in them. While in his office, Sam had to get on the scale. I had been in denial for a long time about how big his, what I'd jokingly refer to as his "Buddha Belly," had truly become and was stunned to see he weighed in at a hefty 247 pounds. Food issues have plagued us like they do for most families who deal with autism. He is an extremely picky eater, and tends to gravitate towards breads and high carb foods. I had taken the path of least resistance as it was simply easier not to get into a horrid struggle with him over his food choices. But, seeing that number in front of me gave me the kick in the pants I needed. I sat him down and had a long talk with him about the real danger of developing diabetes, what that diagnosis would require he do (fingersticks, insulin injections etc.), and what the long term effects can do in our bodies. We talked about changes we could make to eat healthier, and God love him, he fully understood and embraced it. As you can see in the photo above, the belly is gone! He weighs under 200 pounds now and is still losing! I am sooooo very proud of him, and he is proud of himself too.
He's matured so much and made so many gains since graduating high school. We were able to fully come off the the Intuniv he'd been on for anger/agression issues with high school demands, and dropped his Lexapro back from 20mg to 10mg daily. I'm contemplating taking him off it entirely and seeing how he does. He's become much more conversive and engaging. He is no longer so content to sit in his room on his computer or watching his DVD's all day. He wants to plan outings and has had quite the time planning what we'll do on my days off during this summer. It's been so wonderful and new to see him actually BORED! It gives me so much hope for his eventual transition into a group living situation where he will be a part of a larger 'family' who are active, going and doing. I've often said that it's pointless for me to worry about what is down the road for Sam. I truly have come to realize and trust that I will be shown the path and will know exactly which way to go when we come to the next fork in the road. I smile when I think about how far he's come... how far we've come... and I swell with pride at the young man he's becoming as I am bathed in the grace of being his mom.