The Book.

No, not that book, silly. Facebook.

Am I the last person to find this sucker? I must be, because I'm shocked by the number of people I know on it. Which is exciting, but...

It's bringing out my inner wallflower. (What's that? You didn't realize I had a shy side? You thought I was always opinionated and irritating? Well, maybe.)

Lovely people out there, some of them people I've remembered fondly for lo, these many years. But ask them to be my "friend" again? Hmm. Not sure. Scary.

Also-- I'm confused by the medium. Is seems like (am I wrong?) there are lots of toys associated with it, but not much real contact. More of a timekiller than a real reconnect?

So, mystified by technology once again (Want to explain it to me, Mr. M?), I'm going to go for a walk and shuffle these gorgeous leaves around.

Working on Crusader Rabbit Again

I went to dinner with a wonderful woman on Monday night. She started out years ago as a buddy (someone good to do fun things with), but has really become a friend (someone that it's good to share important things with) over time.

We were talking about how alienating and exclusive language can be. In particular, we both like the idea of being "for" rather than "against." An example: demonstrations in favor of peace, rather than in opposition to war. I've said (over and over and over) that adults are just like children and animals in that we need an alternative, rather than just a "no." If I can't envision another way of doing something, why on earth would I stop what I'm doing?

So here's a new goal, let's see how it goes. Rather than speaking up against things, let's see what happens when I create the habit of speaking out for something better. I'm wild about this idea. I think it could be lifechanging.


Do we all ponder this?

I'm seriously considering un-anonymousing. I'd go back and do a bit of revision, of course, but I'm starting to feel like using my name would be freeing.

Acknowledgement: If you know me IRL, you may well know about this. So it's not like we're talking total anonymity, anyway. But I still have a bit of a buffer.

A little fun

A quick quiz to select an '08 candidate.


Friday Five: Pumpkins and Apples

Holy Mackerel! Singing Owl gave us Night Owl Friday Five, this week! Fall's settling in, so we've got some Halloween questions ahead of us.

1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?
We really didn't celebrate. Sometimes I would get dressed up and go trick-or-treating, other times I'd go to a church festival in lieu of trick-or-treating, but we moved so much that there wasn't much consistancy in how we celebrated any holidays.

2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do?
Nope, we don't. That might change if we have kids, I suppose.

2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else?
Definitely caramel covered! Although I admit that I'd rather just have apple slices to dip into caramel-- eating candy apple might require more coordination than I have.

3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?
Nope. Mr. M and I have talked about it, but this just isn't a holiday I get excited about. (On the other hand, I quite like All Saint's Day...)

4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.
We like seasonal wreaths on the door. Nothing cutesy, just pretty leaves or something.

5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?
Maybe, but I'm not sure I reserve that for Halloween! If I'm nervous about something, I'm more likely to dress nicely and make sure my hair and makeup are done. There are tiny tees and cowboy boots for when Sarah and I go to the rodeo (watch out, Mr. M, it could happen again!). There are cocktail dresses for when I want to feel fancy, and hippie dresses for when I want to feel free. There are all kinds of everyday costumes that are more subtle, but just as fun, ways of being a witch or a princess.

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.
Dang. I made apple pie last weekend. I'd love to share the recipe, but it's at home! Well, instead I'll share the recipe for Apple Pie Smoothie. (Mr. M has been making smoothies for my breakfasts, and they've gotten... creative.)

1 carton Dannon French Vanilla Yogurt
1/2 c Almond milk
6 crushed almonds
1/2 c. apples sauted with butter, sugar, and cinnamon (chilled)

(This may not be the world's healthiest smoothie...)



Last weekend my mom visited. Because she hadn't been there before, I took her to the tiny wonderful church where I interned. The mediation at the Saturday evening service was on healing. Not necessarily the kind where one is cured or everything is fixed, but the kind where healing is still present, even in the absense of a cure.

Timely message. I'm seeing the need for this all over the place this week. Mary Beth is calling for it, Iris is calling for it, and I discovered this morning that a very close friend's father is in the final stages of pancreatic cancer. A leader in my Spiritual Direction group was recently in an awful car accident, and is experiencing a lot of pain. My mother is certainly in need of healing. I think my church is. I think The Church is, as Tandaina has been sharing lately. I have to stop listing, because it goes on and on.

O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that
thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men:
Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servant for whom
our prayers are offered. Remember
her, O Lord, in mercy,
her soul with patience, comfort her with a sense
of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon
her, and give
peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-BCP, p.831



I spent (some portion of) 8 years of my life in San Diego County (Oceanside, specifically). We moved all the time growing up, but somehow kept returning to Camp Pendleton. Today, reading about the fires, I'm cringing and praying. Wildfires are a pretty common catastrophe in that area, but this week's are particularly awful.

I'm not sure what it is about a disaster that makes you long for a place. Perhaps a part of us is always present in the places that formed us, and we just feel it more sharply in these times.


Haikus from today's staff meeting (anything to stay focused).

Marikay's daughter
had a beautiful wedding.
Kilts flapping all night.
Interest rates changing,
Pension unpredictable.
We'll liquidate it.
Calendar changes
are underway for funding.
Please remind D--- W---.
Capacity, cost,
Staffing and quality too.
All child-care hurdles.
So many programs
mothers, babies and families.
What's just for dads?
Is the real issue
funding or education?
Money can't buy smart.
"Accumulate wealth"
The answer to poverty.
Thanks for all your help.
Branding by age group.
"We" resent stereotypes.
Stop pigeonholing.

Hey, guys, look over here!!!

This morning in The Washington Post's "On Balance" section, I found this post about being a priest/mom.

Thought you might enjoy that someone outside our little enclave was publishing this stuff!


Gratitude List

Inspired by Mindy and Zorra, and also by my own high level of irritation at work this week, I've come to the conclusion that a gratitude list is in order. Here we go, the things that I'm able to remember to be thankful for today, in no particular order:
  1. A boss who respects me.
  2. A few coworkers who I really like.
  3. The kits.
  4. A generous husband (who volunteered to squire my mom around yesterday and today, since I don't have the vacation time to take while she's visiting).
  5. That my mom's luggage finally arrived, even if it was after midnight.
  6. A gorgeous, stormy fall day. Absolutely nothing feels as restorative as a good storm.
  7. Today's Friday.
  8. My cozy bright-blue sweater.
  9. The sense that, even though it's making me a bit crazy at the moment, I have a "permanent" job.

It's a slow start, but it's a start. Maybe I'll try to start substituting gratitude lists for gripes. We'll see how that goes...

Something fabulous.

I've just found this blog, Brazen Careerist about life, women, age, and careers, and it's fanastic. Penelope Trunk is funny, honestly, and (this feels so good) really respectful of young people in the workplace. For anyone who's felt talked down to, ignored, patronized, or hazed because of their age, this respect is a precious thing. Go check her out. She's got great advice, and is open about the times she's learned things the hard way.


Spousal Report

I can't count anymore the number of people who have observed that life is a quite bit easier as a male clergy spouse than a female clergy spouse. The evidence is purely anecdotal, but so far it seems pretty true. Both Mitch and PH2 give a pretty clear perspective of their experiences. I'm really enjoying what they have to say. I'm enjoying my own experiences with a postulancy spouse, too. Mr. M has been patient and thoughtful, supportive and just protective enough to make me feel like he's got my best interests at heart (but not so protective that I think he might lock anyone in the undercroft closet).

I'm particularly grateful to be reading these husband blogs, because as Mr. M and I go round and round (and round and round) about having kids, I'm realizing how few models of really involved husbands and fathers I know. And folks, I just don't have it in me to be a single parent while I'm married. (I think we've all seen this phenomenon?) I know Mr. M. He is the most nurturing, gentle person I know. He is attentive and kind. He will be an involved dad, there's no question about it. But for me, because I've seen so few examples of this, I'm terrified that children would drain every part of myself, and their father would watch from the sidelines.

Thank you, gentlemen, for your openness. Thank you for providing a sane model of family (even on days when it doesn't work as smoothly as everyone would hope).


There is truth here.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz


Boy, have I made a mess.

My mom lives a little over 800 miles a way from Mr. M and I. When she retired from the military, she kept moving. Regularly. More than she had on active duty. In five years, she lived in TN (twice), CA (at least twice), OK, and China (for a summer). During that time, I graduated college and parked my weary heiney in a brand-new (to me, it's actually an ooooold town) hometown. I've been here over 5 years now-- longer than I've lived in one building my whole life. By a lot-- the closest to an exception would be college.

In most families, the kids grow up and move away. In our family, the mom moves away. Again and again and again. As I'm grown and pretty well self-sufficient, this is not a huge problem. It would be nice to have her over for Sunday dinner, but we were separated a lot even when I was little. This is "normal" for us. Unfortunately, she is sometimes very unhappy about it. Sometimes it is "my fault" because when she says she wants to move closer, I point out that in a couple of years, Mr. M and I are hoping to head off to seminary. (As a matter of fact, this time last year we thought we'd be there now.) But I've been here over 5 years. I've been here through at least 6 different moves of hers, and I'm fairly certain it's more than that. Each time, she chose a new place to live. I'm not responsible for the choices that she made.

That's not the mess I made.

The mess I made is that I said I wanted to see her whole family for Thanksgiving. Mr. M still hasn't met my grandparents, or two of my mother's siblings. We're all scattered across 5 states. (We're finally all basically on the same side of the country, though!) So, Mom has rallied the troops, and there are loose plans (that have changed regularly to this point) to get togther.

The mess I made is that I did not think the logistics out as I should have. I don't have the time to take off, so Wednesday we will start driving at 5PM when I get off work. Wednesday and Thursday we will drive 800 miles. We'll spend Friday with the family, and then drive 800 miles home on Saturday and Sunday. That part stinks.

The financial logistics don't work out much better. We're not going to drive 13 hours straight through. That's crazy. So, we'll be staying in a motel along the way. And we're not staying with mom when we get there, because my sweet introverted husband may want to get away from the dozen strangers congregated in my mother's tiny house. So, 4 nights hotel + petsitter + food while travelling + gas = a pretty sizeable chunk of money. And stress.

But it was my idea.

She's flying out for about 4 days this weekend, so we will see each other soon.

So what now?


Oct 7-10: Mental Health Awareness Week

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, I'm passing on some basic points about mental health and mental illness from the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence.
  • The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.
  • The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
  • Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.

Photo Editing

Sometimes, I pull my head out of the sand just long enough to stop saying, "wouldn't it be nice if I could ________," and actually put some gray matter into figuring out how I can __________.

In this case, _____________ was photo editing. All kinds of fun fancy bloggers making fascinating photos. And me, wondering why in the heck I couldn't tweak mine. Well, enter Picnik. No, I'm not getting kickbacks, I'm just really pleased to find a web-based, free photo editor.

Behold the old photo:

And then the new:

Seriously, folks, which is more interesting? Now wouldn't it be nice if I could manipulate blogger into posting them a little differently... hmmm.

Update and Thanks

My grandmother finally got in touch with my mom late last night. Apparently, Mom had lost her phone over the weekend, but put off getting a new one because the old one was the only place she had pictures of her dog, and she didn't want to give up the search. When she finally did get a new phone, she couldn't call anyone, because she stored everyone's number in her old phone.

SO, she is OK. I really appreciate everyone's prayers, thank you. I was really scared, and starting to go into planning/what-would-I-do-if mode. She's going to give me her neighbor's phone number, though, and that'll help, too.

On one hand I feel like I went from zero to catastrophic in a short 3 days. On the other hand, there's history. Thanks so much for your prayers. I can't tell you how grateful I am.



Hey, there, friends. If you think to, would you please hold my mama in the light? She's struggled with some serious depression for a long time, and I haven't been able to get a hold of her for the last 3 days. She had to put her (young) dog to sleep on Friday, and I haven't talked to her since Saturday now. The dog was a huge help as a companion, and really eased some of her loneliness. I know that's not a long time, but the rest of the family can't get in contact with her, either, and I'm a bit worried. A couple of us have left "please just touch base and let us know you're OK" calls Sunday and yesterday, but haven't gotten a reply.

Thank you.


Image 1: Roots

I came home from last week's retreat exhausted and full of questions. Finally, a safe group of people with whom I can stretch and grow. On the other hand-- grow where? I've been dissatistfied and restless for quite a while. With the church, with my parish, with my poor husband, with where we live. (I know the obvious answer when nothing outside myself seems satisfying: look inside.)

So, exhausted and cranky, I huffed out of the apartment for a walk on Saturday. These crowded, tangled roots brought tears to my eyes-- I went back later with my camera. I've spent the last 3 years believing that a call to ministry meant that I was handing over my autonomy, turning over my right to make major decisions for myself and my family to the church. After all, ordained ministry is about "discipline and obedience"(not my words, I assure you) to the church (though not necessarily to our understanding of God's guidance). Now I'm feeling cramped. Have I planted myself in the wrong place? I'm a planner, but more than that, I'm a dreamer. I've surrendered my dreams, and waited for dreams to be imagined for me. I want the fullness and the freedom of my own dreams again.

Images and Imagination

I am wordy. Of course I am-- how many bloggers aren't? By and large, if we weren't at home with language, we wouldn't do this.

My sweet husband, on the other hand, is Not Wordy. This can be frustrating for both of us. We've worked out a system where sometimes, to more accurately express emotion, I ask him to do a little dance. You wouldn't believe how well this can work. (He seems embarrassed, but he loves it. It's darling.) He's a very visual person. So Mr. M has had me thinking about communication and images.

Lately, when I've met with my spiritual director, we've talked about some very clear, very useful metaphors. Her suggestion: meditate on those images.

While I'm thinking about images and spirituality, I'm also thinking about imagination-- calling images forth, being open to new images, new possibilities of images. I'm WILD about Walter Brueggemann's The Prophetic Imagination. (In fact, I bet longtime readers may be wondering how many times I can try to get you to read this book!) I believe that God uses our imaginations to spur us on to new realities, new pieces of our lives.

So, in pursuit of a new model of thinking, I'm going to try to blog with images for a while. Not just images, of course-- a woman can only grow so much overnight! But in the same way that poetry gives us a wide breadth of meaning with word-pictures, I'd like to open up to new possibilities of meaning in the images before me. New adventure coming soon.

Opening Retreat

Thursday and Friday of last week I went away to the opening retreat of my Spiritual Directors program.

I got to the retreat center about half an hour late on Thursday, and panicked a bit (during that time I thought about the fact that perfectionism is high on the list of things to discuss with a not-yet-found therapist). I locked my keys in the car that morning (thought I had them in my hand, turned out my muffin was in my hand!), and sweet Mr. M left work and drove half an hour home to let me in. (Yes, I will be making a third copy of the key and putting it in one of those magnetic thingies.) I naturally assumed that in the half hour before I got there, all the other participants would become best friends, and I would be a weekend wallflower. I'm happy to tell you I was delusional.

Our retreat was wisely balanced between small groups, large groups, partner time, and solitude. There were laypeople, clergy, social workers, counselors. I was the youngest, the oldest was probably in his mid-60s. The group of 27 people was certainly women-heavy, but there were 4 men participating.

4 staff members guided us through the retreat, leading large group mediations, facilitating small group meetings, and meeting with each of us one-on-one. We met the small groups that we'll be working in for the next two years, and I have to say I really lucked out. I'm in with 5 warm, funny, bright people. I lucked out with my year's prayer partner, too. She seems very down-to-earth, and very sweet. It's really going to be a pleasure to work with these people.

By the second day, I'd reached the limit of my ability to concentrate-- particularly in individual contemplation. Here's the truth: I love solitude. I love quiet retreats. BUT, if there's an interesting person just around the corner, solitude drives me clean out of my mind.

We're diving straight into the deep end, in terms of direction. By January we each need to be providing Spiritual Direction for two people. I think I'll work that out two ways-- to advertise with the parish where I interned, and to offer my services to the local college. I'm particularly interested in working with the college. In the long run, how great would it be to set up group discernment there? College ministry is so exciting to me.

I don't have much more to tell, yet. I'm still a little worn out, and I like to take a little while to process. For now, I'll just leave you with my favorite spot of the weekend. Isn't this lovely? There's a fire ring in the middle.


Quick Travelogue

Last weekend Mr. M and I took a little anniversary detour, and I thought you might like the pics. We spent the weekend in Granville, OH, and spent one fun night in Columbus helping a girlfriend of mine celebrate her 30th. (No pics of that, sorry!)

To start with, the beasties know what suitcases mean, and they don't like them at all:
Anthony, in fact, can be very stubborn about it:
We got to Granville Friday afternoon, and checked into the Buxton Inn. Our room was, as they always are there, Fabulous:
We went to our favorite little gallery store, and Mr. M came home with a new friend:
We saw Lynn Nottage's play "Intimate Apparel." A word to the wise: if they get married right before intermission, the second act is not going to be happy.

Saturday afternoon, we spent a couple of hours strolling through the BioReserve:

Overall, it was a wonderful, peaceful weekend. I'd forgotten how just Going Someplace Else can rejuvenate me-- and us.


Embracing the Journey

The day after tomorrow I start my opening retreat for Spiritual Direction training. I'm so excited that my tail's about to wag right off my rear.

I feel better about this decision than I have about any other discernment-type action that I've made in a long while. (No, I still haven't written my Ember letter.) My experience with the people involved in this organization (and with the assigned readings!) is that there's a strong belief both in disciplined personal practice, but also in freedom within that discipline. I feel like a parched plant in rain.