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The Humble Grain of Rice…

February 20, 2014

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Oh, the humble grain of rice…giver of life and health for the poor and starving, perfect base of many dishes, and dryer of drowned smartphones.

Rice is a comfort food for me. When I was little, I’d often have rice with butter or parmesan cheese. Now, I almost never have it without soy sauce. It’s funny how tastes change over the years…I can usually eat just about anything with cheese, but not rice. Soy sauce all the way.

A Facebook friend of mine posted a status today about some great things she had coming up in her life in the next few weeks, and her last comment hit me pretty hard. She said that she was thankful to be in the moment. This moment….not yesterday when something unpleasant happened…not tomorrow when something angst-filled is coming. THIS moment.

I really suck at that. It’s like this nebulous idea of Zen that hangs just out of reach. College was probably the closest I ever came to enjoying the present moment. To be leaving behind the baggage of high school…the emotionally abusive friend, the oppressive amount of work, the classes that I didn’t enjoy….it was all so freeing. I remember waking up and starting to feel anxious and then reminding myself, hey! There’s nothing to worry about today! I’ve never recaptured that.

I’ve been forced to be in the moment before. When my dad was in the hospital in 2007 and things got touch-and-go for awhile and my mom fell apart…I couldn’t let myself think about anything but that specific moment. To think about how fragile our situation was would have killed me….so I had to think minute-by-minute….in two hour intervals (between visiting times in the Cardiac ICU). Anything beyond that wasn’t a possibility. Even now, when things get bad and stressful, I have to shorten my view to now….this hour, this work day, maybe tomorrow, but nothing beyond that.

But I miss out on the happy part of being in the moment…that feeling of contentment end enjoyment. My brain just can’t get there. And it’s exhausting. But tonight, I ate rice with soy sauce and that was nice, so I’ll count it as a win.

My Foray Into the Mediterranean Diet…

February 3, 2014

So, we’ll see what happens. I decided two weeks ago that there were going to need to be some pretty drastic eating changes taking place for me to be able to get this PCOS thing under control. The problem is that, in true Melanie fashion, when it comes to meal planning (as with blogging), I get overwhelmed and end up planning absolutely nothing. It’s a big part of my life that I just can’t seem to fix. It’s why my dresser is piled high with clothes that I haven’t put away in three years quite a long time.

I figured that I might actually have some success if I looked up am eating plan and just followed that until I see some results and can strike out on my own. So, after a Google search, I found a four week plan on the Good Housekeeping site. It’s a little dated (“enjoy diet soda for something sweet!”), but the major principles are pretty sound. I’ve come up with some modifications because the carb count was too high for someone with PCOS. We’ll see how it goes. Baby steps.

Here’s a pic from last night of me with my new “nephew.” One of my best friends had her baby a few weeks ago, and since I’m an only child, I get to play “Aunt Mel” to my friends’ kids. His name is Levi, and he’s absolutely precious.

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Profound thoughts tomorrow.

Twenty Fourteen, the Year of Discipline

January 29, 2014

About halfway through 2012, I dubbed the year my year of “healing.” I was able to escape my soul-sucking job with a company that didn’t care about me and moved over to a place with much better pay and a better environment. I thought that would be the turning point…the magical moment when I started to care about myself and everything that was wrong with me would get better. It didn’t quite work that way.

Last year I dubbed my year of “peace.” While it wasn’t entirely peaceful, I did learn a lot about setting personal boundaries and standing up for myself. I didn’t make the health strides that I wanted to, but I did finally get myself to the place where I was ready to take the steps. The end of the year wasn’t peaceful at all, because of things both within and beyond my control, so I still have a lot to learn.

I’ve noticed that I suck at long lists of resolutions. I fail at one and give the rest up (and then go eat some General Tso’s Chicken). But this one-word-focus thing seems to be at least partially successful.

I noticed a recurring theme in several of my Bible studies at the beginning of the year…The idea that our spiritual (and physical) health lean heavily on personal responsibility and self-discipline. We can’t always do what we want, eat what we want, say what we want….sometimes we have to do things because they are good for us, and we cannot expect to be at our best if we ignore what we should do because it’s not what we want.

You can’t expect to lose weight while eating takeout every night and refusing to exercise. You can’t expect to have a neat, organized home if you’re not willing to clean regularly. You can’t expect to have meaningful relationships if you don’t invest time with people you care about. You can’t expect to be respected if you don’t stand up for yourself. And you can’t expect to have a successful spiritual life if you don’t talk to God and crack open the Good Book.

These are all things I struggle with, and these are all things that I want to improve this year. This is the year of Discipline.

Keenly Aware of the Passage of Time

January 15, 2014

Every now and then, I become keenly aware of the passage of time.  I may be reading a book that’s always been an old favorite, listening to a song, driving past a spot that’s been significant to me somehow, and all of the sudden, I can see it in terms of time, of the sometimes-vast span of time.  

It happened to me on the way home from choir tonight.  I was driving along, pissed because some butthole tailgated me and then blew past me on Highway 74.  I was listening to The Monkees “You Told Me.”  It’s the first song off their album Headquarters, which always holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first time that they took control of their own music.  As a result, the album is beautiful, but also unrefined.  Maybe it’s because I think I’m a little unrefined myself…maybe that’s why it’s such a dear old friend. Anyway…I was listening to the song, thinking about Mike Nesmith (the lead singer) and how different his voice sounds now, and–in one flash–I saw the years pass by. The song was written/recorded sometime between ’66 and ’67.  In 1986, my mom played a Monkees record while she was cleaning the house.  In 1997, I begged my parents for a guitar so that I could play Monkees songs. In 2013, I traveled to New Jersey with thousands of other fans for an entire weekend devoted to the Monkees.  

And here it is…2014.  A song that’s almost fifty years old has shaped my musical history…my relationship with music, with writing, with playing instruments, with singing, with performing in front of people.  All of it.  My whole life.

In Christianity, we call the concept “Providence.”…the idea that God intervenes to bring about events that lead us to significant places in our lives…the idea that, in 1967, Mike Nesmith wrote and recorded a song that, in 1986, would shape my relationship with music and as a result, my entire life.

It’s nice every now and then to see not only the entire forest, but also how old the trees are.

Fat Tuesday and the Beginning of Lent

February 12, 2013

I’ve been given a work laptop.  Yep.  I’m actually pretty stoked since I never would have gotten this far in my career at my previous job.  However, with great power comes great responsibility, and now I feel compelled to set back up to work again as soon as I get home.  I’ll have to work on finding a work/life balance again.

So, it’s Mardi Gras, and I’m sure that naked people are flooding the streets of New Orleans, beads flying through the air, drunk people becoming celebrities for the upcoming season of Cops….and so on/so forth.  We’re ending our Fat Tuesday with a steak and potato dinner, tiramisu, and a few Reese’s cups before the coming day of repentance tomorrow.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find somewhere to go to get ashes, but even if not, I’ll keep my spirit and focus in that direction.

It bothers me how Southern Baptists (in general) tend to write off just about every tradition of the Catholic church immediately without paying attention to the history or meaning behind it.  There’s great reason to continue to pay attention to the tradition and liturgy of the Catholic Church; we can’t simply write off the first fifteen hundred years of our faith, you know?  Anyway, here’s a brief explanation of Lent in the event that any of my Baptist friends find it useful.  I think there’s a level of mystery in the Catholic denomination for Protestants on the more fundamentalist side of things.  Although I certainly don’t identify myself as fundamentalist, my circle of friends includes many of them, and the hushed tones in which they say, “s/he’s…..Catholic” is a little funny.  I find the traditions and practices to be pretty intriguing…we can’t really fault them for their shortcomings (perhaps in being caught up too much in traditions and not emphasizing the individual’s direct access to God) when we, as Southern Baptists, have so many of our own (continuing to argue over drinking, caring for animals/the environment, equating Christianity with the Republican Party…).

My, I’ve rambled on so.  Sorry about that…lots of thinking about Catholicism the past few days.  I’ve been trying to figure out what I need to give up for Lent, and the past couple of days, I’ve felt the unhappy tug of something that I didn’t really want to hear.  Sugar.  Sugar???  Yes, Sugar.  It’s become an idol for me, and it’s literally killing me.  So, starting tomorrow, I’m abstaining.

 

Walking Away From it All

February 10, 2013

yeah, i really didn’t mean for that to sound as “final” or “foreboding” as it does.  i’ve been struck the last few days with this urge to detach from “the system.”  it’s a moot point, because there’s really no way to detach anymore; we’re numbered, inventoried, and surveilled wherever we go.  and, to be honest, i really like my cable tv and smartphone, so it’s not looking to be in my future.  but i still want it.  what i want is to NOT want my smartphone and tv and the myriad of other things that make my life so very comfortable.  i want not to be so tied to them because, if somehow the opportunity arose for us to actually live a more analog, off-grid lifestyle, i would want to jump out on faith and take that chance.

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i promise, I’m not trying to romanticize “the good ol’ days” where people were forced to do without modern luxuries (i.e., the Great Depression), but sometimes i think that we’ve been victims of our own success, and i can’t help but feel these days like a big “reset” is about to take place…whether by natural means, or vulnerability of our power grid, whatever it may be.  it just seems that the world has become such a volatile place so rapidly and that it’s all coming to a head.  of course, the fundies are either freaking out or salivating with joy because they think we’re on the cusp of the end of the world.  we’re such a short-sighted, chronocentric people.  these things have happened over and over throughout the ages…we struggle, become successful, become victims of our own success, and then the pendulum swings and we’re back to the struggle again.

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part of it may be because i didn’t get a chance to unplug this past year.  i changed jobs, so we couldn’t take a long enough vacation to justify taking the camper.  the weekend that we did tent-camp, we had a horrific storm come through which culminated in our desperately trying to pack up the tent in the pouring rain and lightning while i had a panic attack.  also, my health has been pretty piss-poor the last four months of the past year, and it’s not getting better as quickly as i would hope/like.

we’re going to give gardening another shot this year.  with the price of food rising, i think we need to be able to mitigate some of that cost ourselves.  and, i’m just enough of a conspiracy theorist to think that it’s no accident that we’re getting sicker and sicker the more that the government gets involved in our food.  the best solution as i see it is to do what i can to keep them out of my food as much as i can.

i do hope that someday, before it’s too late to do so, we’ll be able to move out to an area that’s a little more rural and secluded, a little out of the way, and that we’ll be able to unplug a little bit more, enjoy God’s creation a little bit more, stress a little bit less, and try to bring things in our corner of the world a little closer back to how it should be, in spite of the political, societal, and religious unrest that seems to be rapidly spiraling out of control.

 

 

 

Dona Nobis Pacem…

December 15, 2012

The past few weeks, my heart has been heavy over the lack of peace in this world.  Syria, Lybia, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Colorado, Oregon, China, now Connecticut.  When things like these tragedies, atrocities, and abuses of human life occur, I wonder why God continues to put up with us.  We (humanity) seem to excel at little more than destroying this world…things, places, creatures, and each other.

On an even smaller scale, things are not peaceful for me right now.  Christmas is never an enjoyable time for me, because it’s never about what it should be.

I declared my “word” for 2012 as “healing.”  After the medication issues and resulting mental illness for 2011, I anticipated that this year would be a time for healing.  There are parts of that that happened; I have a medication mixture that is working for me and has put me in a much better position.  I’ve become  much more secure in myself, in part because of the weight that I’ve gained (not that I’m happy that I gained it), I was able to rid myself of a job that I hated in a toxic environment for a job (doing the same thing) that pays much better and is in a much better environment.  I’ve removed some toxic relationships in my life and have accepted that I cannot take on the guilt for other peoples’ problems.

However, my physical health has declined.  While my blood pressure is back under control, my liver enzymes are mildly elevated, my cholesterol is too high, and my blood sugar is at pre-diabetic levels.  And that robs me of my own peace.

2013 is going to be a year of Peace for me.  I cannot control the fact that our world, our nation, and our state lack peace.  But I will do my part, in my own little corner, to help make this world peaceful for others and to help make it peaceful for myself.  Dona Nobis Pacem.  Lord, give us peace.

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