Posted in Friend Time, Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

UU Discussion Group, first session

Our spiritual practices group has segued into a discussion group now. We’ll each be leading a session of our own topic choosing. We had our first session tonight and it went really well. Here’s the quote we discussed:

“It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the test results and they’re not so good. Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh. I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.” Anna Quindlen, b. 1953

The two questions our leader this week proposed were: (1) How are we doing at “crafting our spirits” – what does that even mean? (2) How can we be better friends to one another so that we are not “cardboard cutouts?”

Honestly, I didn’t have a really good answer for that first one when we got started. By the end of the discussion, I realized that all this was part of crafting my spirit – the spiritual practices class, the Vein of Gold class, learning the tarot card stuff for my Preptober with Tarot class, just learning about writing well-rounded characters in general can be enriching to the spirit because it makes you think so much more about your own character and what makes you you.

As for the second part, it was something I was already thinking about. Two of my friends that used to be really close are having a tough time communicating lately, and I have become something of a go between while they each work through it on their own. It is an interesting enterprise. One friend I have known for years, so we communicate on a deeper level than I do with the other friend, who I’ve only known a year. They are both people that are hard-working and dependable. They each strive to help their community so much. I’ve tried to be a listening board for both of them, but that looks and feels different depending on which person I am communicating with. There isn’t a “cookie cutter” quality to these friendships, despite that we are all in the same organization doing volunteer work. Each person I have a different relationship with. It is good.

In any case, those are my thoughts for the subject. What about you? Do you have different answers to those questions?

Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

Sacred Space

Here’s something I wrote for my Spiritual Practices class this week:

When my kids were small, we used to have a little altar set up in the front hallway. We put pretty leaves, feathers, flowers, and rocks there that had caught our fancy during walks. As the seasons progressed, so did our altar. Green leaves gave way to yellow, flowers gave way to acorns and whirligig seed pods, but rocks were always a part of the mix. 

Once the last child started in all day school, those daily walks came to an end. The altar lay stagnant. Eventually it became a dumping ground for all manner of school related detritus.

This new altar sits in an awkward space between the living room and the back hall.  When I was first putting this together, I despaired of finding anything spiritual to put onto this shelf. Everything in my house spoke to fairy tales: dragons, unicorns, fairies, and trolls. But then I started thinking of that other, older tradition we once had. So this altar is a bit of a combination space.
First I covered the four elements: rocks for earth, candles for fire, hummingbird and clarinet for air, and fountain for water. Four of the five senses are also there: perfume bottle and candles for scent, all the pretties for sight, rocks and beaded textures for touch, and clarinet and bird for sound.  Plus a little mandarin orange for taste.

Home is the center. Also shown: Some favorite quotes, a cross stitch with our family motto, a painting that makes my mind wander to spiritual thoughts by a friend whose art fills my home, a wooden box from my favorite store in my hometown that is filled with at least a petal from every flower arrangement I received from 1998 til about 2015, a spooky old tree that is reading (and also is an incense burner) the footsteps poem from where my spiritual journey first started, a rock from the lake by my parents’ hometown, other rocks and shells from so many places our travels have taken us, a geode that reminds me that even the hardest rock can be changed by a tiny stream of water, the hummingbird from my best friends “second chance” adventure, a fantasy map where the treasure is in a book (naturally), the clarinet because music has been a part of my life for so long, a green polished stone engraved with the word “Balance” and candles, always candles. 

So there I am, me and some of my beliefs all in one little shelf.

Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

Hospitality and Belonging

This week in Spiritual Practices class we talked about how the Unitarian Universalist faith is a covenantal faith. We are a community that welcomes the strangers because we were all once the stranger.

I grew up Lutheran, for the most part, until I was 15 or so. I don’t remember hearing much about this topic growing up in that church. I do remember experiencing hospitality as a child, though, in the form of many, many people visiting our house over the years, mainly professors and grad students. My parents loved having people over. My dad’s parents were known for their parties and my mother was known for hers. As a child and teen, we were always having people over. As an adult, I’ve struggled a little with this one. When the children were little, my house was always too much of a wreck, though I did host other mom’s weekly for playgroups. My husband is an extrovert and would have had people over every weekend for games and fellowship. With his church, though, it was hard to get people to drive all the way out here (his church is a 40 minute drive from us and his church area expands an hour and a half around outward from the church). Now that the kids are older, we’ve hosted monthly gaming afternoons a have a few other big parties a year.

So what are the qualities of hospitality? At first we think of food, greeting and welcoming people, and listening to others. Hospitality involves an opening of the heart, as well. It’s about cultivating the desire to welcome people and invite them into our lives, a willingness to accept change and accommodate for others.

It’s not one-sided, though, it’s also about letting your community know that you have a need that should be filled. This side of things, I know I am not good at. I never really saw my parents ask for help from others when I was growing up. Helping others, volunteering for others? Yes. Getting help? Not so much. When we moved from Nebraska to Pennsylvania and then on to Texas, we didn’t have people over to help pack. We didn’t ask people to help put furniture on the trucks. As an adult, I still don’t know how to ask others for help when I really need it.

Hospitality is also a social skill. You need to have the ability to know when to reach out and when to leave people to their privacy. Another tough one for me. I watched my mother ask many intrusive questions over the years and I was always so embarrassed. I tend not to be a reacher-outer. I don’t like to bother people. I never thought of this as being the other side of the hospitality coin.

Some questions for reflection:

  1. When have you felt truly welcomed?
  2. When have you felt truly included?
  3. When have you been blessed by hospitality?

Posted in Books, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

Spiritual Practices: Liturgical Library

This week for our Spiritual Practices class, we were encouraged to make a library of spiritual or sacred texts. I wandered the house for hours, picking up books here and there, and piling them all up next to my bed. Nick and I had a long conversation about what we each thought should go in a spiritual library. His definition leaned towards Christianity, naturally, while mine was wider reaching and included not just spiritual practice manuals, but also covering mythology, fairy tales, and books that weren’t necessarily about religion, but changed my views on it. Then I realized that my library also includes things on my kindle and on my hard drive that I do not have physical versions of, so I made myself a little collage of all those books to put alongside my “new” spiritual library. It was an interesting thought experiment, over all. Now I just have to figure out where to put all these books now that I’ve gathered them and people refilled their spots with other books.

What books do you consider Must Haves in your spiritual library aresenal? Please leave me some comments below. I am always looking for more books.

Posted in Lifelong learning, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love, Writing

The Vein of Gold

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'The Vein of Gold VEIN GOLD Journey to Your Creative Heart book discussion facilitated by Jessica White JULIA authoref CAMERON the ARTIST'S WAY'

Before I knew I was going to be running behind on my BYOB project, I’d already signed up for this writing class/workshop/book discussion group covering Julia Cameron’s The Vein of Gold. I have done a book by Julia Cameron before, many many years ago, called The Artist’s Way, and then several years ago, I also went through her book Blessings. So I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy this when I saw it come up as an option on one of my book groups.

Today’s the first day the group is meeting (and coincidentally also the kids first day back to school). I just discovered that, sadly, I’m already a little bit behind. Apparently a calendar went out over the weekend when I wasn’t paying attention to the group yet, starting daily personal activities last Sunday. Ah well, it looks like it should be pretty easy to catch up, as I actually already have a Morning Pages and Daily Walk habit. I just have to catch up on the very small amount of reading. 🙂 I cannot wait to get started!

Posted in Lifelong learning, What I Love, Writing

Thinking about what I should write

I get emails all the time from various writers trying to sell their latest books about writing, writing courses, etc. Sometimes they are full of interesting things, sometimes not so much. Today’s message from bookfox.co caught my eye sent me down this rabbit hole:

Write down your favorite album, your favorite movie, and your favorite artwork.
Now answer a few questions about these selections:
What do your answers have in common?
What kind of art are they?
Why do these pieces of art, above all else, move you?
Now to figure out what this means. What do your answers tell you about the type of writing you should produce?

My answers:

Favorite album: Nomads, Indians, and Saints by the Indigo Girls

Favorite movie: Sliding Doors

Favorite artwork: Van Gogh’s Starry Night

What do these things have in common? I chose them all during my college years. They all represent a time to me when I was first starting out, making my first decisions away from my parents, living on my own for the first time. And even with twenty years in between those days and now, I still love them. I still think about them as some of the first things that were really, truly my things.

Other things they have in common is a certain amount of wildness and inconsistency, some questioning of reality, a journey to find what really is true about the world. Those are still things I’m thinking about today, even though some of my thoughts on those subjects have changed, my quest for truth in the world has not. I’m still striving for my own authenticity in a world that wants me to be just like everyone else. But not I can see how different everyone else really is and see what that means in their lives. My world has expanded so much since then.

The next part of the email made me realize that I’d gone off the intended path of the lesson at hand for the day, but that’s okay. I like the answers I found.

Posted in Books, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love, Writing

Holiday Weekend, now back to writing

My dad came up to spend the July 4th weekend with us. He arrived Friday and we thought he was going home on Sunday, but he extended it to Monday to make some much needed repair calls for his house up here and now he’s extended it one more day to meet the termite people in person. All of which to say that I haven’t gotten any writing done since last Thursday.

So today, I’ve got some time and my brain says “nope.” I am not letting that deter me. For my birthday in April, I got several of those books in the writing thesaurus series and I have not managed to look at a single one until this morning. So I looked up my notes about the scene I was supposed to be writing – “Edward & Minerva talk in hotel room after meeting Sharon. E’s POV, also show how he is more like Stephen/Walt in tenderness towards wife, but how that is a magically manipulated response.”

So then I looked up these key words: “adoration” “apprehension” (both from the “Emotion Thesaurus“) “hotel room” (from the Urban Settings Thesaurus) “manipulative” (from the “Negative Trait Thesaurus

Then I made notes about each key words and dumped those into my scene document et voila! Half the scene is already done. The part I consider the hard part, usually. Now to add dialogue.

Was it quick? Not really. But it’s a scene started rather than the two sentence outline I previously had. 🙂

Posted in Around the House, Organizing, What I Love, Writing

Morning Pages, Day Two

So it’s not morning. Morning was good.  Full of Animal Crossing and kids and happy, human goodness. David came over and we sat on the back patio and chatted online with Steph. We visited each others islands in Animal Crossing and made stuff for each other. We sat around and watched Community, I cleaned the kitchen, we ate some Shells and Cheese. A good day so far.

So now I’m at the computer and looking at my planner to see what I scheduled to write for today. Only I scheduled everything except for the writing. Oops. So here I am planning my writing in my non-morning Morning Pages.

Today: Finish critique for TCG

Tomorrow: Caro’s Quest writing – whatever the next scene needs to be

Wednesday: Getting class stuff together and writing ahead for that.

Thursday: Start work on Chapter 2 Magical PTA

Friday: Finish up work on Magical PTA for LCG submission

Saturday: Start work on The Dreaming end of Ch 5 or beginning of Ch 6

What else? I don’t even know.

Posted in Around the House, What I Love, Writing

Co-working woes will continue

I had no idea my husband was on the phone so much. Or in meetings. No, really. I know what he does in abstract. I’ve seen the engineering charts, I’ve watched him work during family vacations. I just had no idea being my husband’s newest co-worker would be so loud. Thankful that today is a half day. I’m seriously starting to go nuts here. I have gotten very little writing done and writing is what I do.

Next week the kids will be home doing what they’re calling Distance Learning. The kids will have classes through their Google Classroom Portals, I guess. They’re making a plan this weekend and will let us know on Monday.

The silver linings are that: 1) my sister ordered my kids a Yum box, so we have weird snacks from Brazil to eat, 2) my dad randomly sent me an awesomely creepy Mouse King nutcracker/music box and the kids are mesmerized, and 3) we are ordering pizza from Top it Off Pizza for lunch today. YAY!

The funny box the Mouse King was shipped in.
Mouse King with dancing mini mice soldiers
Posted in Computers and Internet, My Own Personal Weirdness, What I Love

More groups!

I like to post things on Facebook that I find helpful or that I think other people will find helpful. I’ve been doing it all week and apparently other people have noticed. I’ve been added to not one, but two East Texas Covid-19 Help and Support Groups (not their actual names, mind you). So I spent a substantial part of my last couple days copying and pasting links from my personal page to these pages. Then I cross-posted links previously posted from each group to the other one. Such fun! Seriously, though, it feels good to actually be doing something to help others right now. Everything seems to be getting worse out there. I can’t leave the house because of my own health issues. Kids are getting wacky. I’m just happy to help others out there in similar positions. If you’re interested in joining either group, let me know and I’ll send you an invite. 🙂