From the top of the heap

Sermon today – our priest mentioned the need to feel insignificant when hearing the issues that a marginalized person speaks of as otherwise, we cannot properly sympathize. Not her exact words but the feeling I got as I listened. I get this. I recognize it is something that is problematic for me.

I live in a multigenerational, multi-racial, multi-cultural, low-income apartment complex. I am too heavy but am 71, only 5’3” tall and a white woman. As a woman in a predominately male work environment, I had lots of practice making myself appear, larger than life; an imposing figure who was knowledgeable and worthy of the respect of those I worked with. I had to in order to make it in my work world. 

I now see that as an impediment to getting along with my current neighbors as I can seem arrogant. I need to practice being vulnerable that I may see the world as they see it rather than as a white woman sitting at the top of the heap.

Why do we come here every year?

Tomorrow is January 1st – New Year’s Day. I just saw a commercial: Little girl says, “Why do we come here every year?” What the commercial is for doesn’t matter but it made me think….

Why do we come here every year? Well, when I was a kid the “here” of New Year’s Day was Olive and Morley’s house. Olive and Morley sponsored my Grandfather to come to the US from Cornwall England. Every year we went to Olive and Morley’s. Mom and Olive would make pasties – meat turnovers with potatoes, rutabagas, carrots and onions. I learned how and would help cut the vegetables. Later I’d sit with Grandma Johns (Morley’s Mom) who was really my godmother not a blood relative. We would sing and look at her scrapbooks and I’d ask questions. I asked lots of questions. She would patiently answer them except sometimes I asked many without waiting for an answer then she’d say “Hush Child! Be still and listen!”

It has been many years since I was last at Olive and Morley’s. They are gone as are my parents, my brother, Grandma Johns, my grandfather and my Mom’s brother. It’s ok….I think tomorrow I will make pasties even if just for me.

Christmas 2020

Wow! I write Christmas 2020 and I think what can I say? Life is so different from last year at this time and Christmas is so different too in this COVID-19 world.

Well it is always nice to catchup with folks so..

Here we are again! I like these catchups. Like last year this is strictly highlights and less than even last year as life is well…different to say the least!

The girls can speak for themselves so … I will let them!

My life goes on more or less the same but from INSIDE with very little going out and about. I do still work for both churches but venture out to fetch/process mail and other tasks that require an IN PERSON presence only once a week or so.

I am still in the apartment in Auburn but hope in the coming year to move to Canterbury Manor in Bremerton. It is a retirement community associated with the Episcopal Church and even shares the parking lot of St. Paul’s Episcopal church. I am wait listed and that is always a “who knows” timeframe. At 71 it is time to consider next steps especially with my continuing balance issues.

Walla – the Canine Companion for Independence puppy I raised – is assigned to a fellow with PTSD. I still miss her but recognize the affect she has on his life and am grateful for the experience of having her in my life.

Having more issues with my hands because of arthritis so I no longer play my flute in public. I can still play my Native American Flutes as the hand position is very different, so music continues to be an important part of my life.

Knitting and other handcrafts continue but I do have to take breaks, or my hands complain.

EfM (Education for Ministry) year 3, continues with a group that meets wholly online. This is not a response to COVID but rather a group that simply chooses to meet online. Our members are scattered across the US.

Involvement with Come and See…Go and Tell (expression of Cursillo in The Diocese of Olympia) continues.

That is basically it! I do take part in various studies through St. Columba or Good Shepherd, I read lots, do a bit of exercise although swimming is not available in this continuing COVID lock down.

I look forward to herd immunity so we can come out of our enforced aloneness and be with each other again; meanwhile – Stay Home! Stay Safe! And wear a mask if you are out and about!

Someone is Listening

So as folks who read this site, see me on Facebook or see me looking drunk know, I have a balance problem. I have been “off” for 14 years or so. Not going to go into all the stuff because the point of this writing is Someone is Listening!

Good Grief! that is so important! You will never understand just how important until you can’t do anything about a part of your life, are told “it is all in your head” and then, finally, someone listens and actually tries to help.

The “Someone listening” has been an off and on again thing as for the first few months doctors and therapists listened but then gave up with “It’s all in your head” and “you’ll just have to learn to live with it” and “Wow! you are really an interesting case”. In ways that last one has been the most difficult to live with….how fun for you (the doctor or therapist) but it is not fun on my side! I have had moments when I thought someone was willing to listen and work for some kind of solution only to be told after several months that as nothing seems to help that I will just have to learn to deal with it and I do…fairly well, most of the time and then I fall….again but someone is listening!

One – a diagnosis: Well at least a likely diagnosis, is vestibular migraines but then “I’m an interesting case” which does not fully fit that diagnosis any more than any other. I am grateful that an autoimmune disease has been ruled out.

Two – more physical therapy with someone who specializes in vestibular issues.

Three – new meds and a doctor who refuses to give in and has said she won’t throw in the towel with a “you are an interesting case” but will try things and work to discover what can help. I nearly broke down and cried when she said that!

Four – per this doctor and my therapist I do manage amazingly well. For that I am grateful!

Gratefulness includes those around me who watch me walk across the room on a bad day and step up and take my arm.

Grateful for the “What is wrong with her?” looks that change to “ooo having a bad day” as they remember.

This gratefulness is one of the reasons I am so open about what is wrong with me. I’ve many times said – I respect people’s privacy but how do I know how I might help and pray if I don’t know what is wrong so…..

Someone is listening! and I will listen to you too if you want to share what is wrong in your life. We all need to be able to say “Someone is listening.” I’ll be your someone.

What happens after?

I had a nightmare. It is rare for me to have nightmares. Even as a child I can only think of a few times I went crying to my parents’ room to seek comfort, to seek the reality that would put aside the fear.

Nightmares – the stuff of our imaginations and, more than anything, fear of the unknown.

In my grown-up life the nightmares flee before reason. I ask first – is this possible? If the answer is “no” the problem is solved, and the fear is gone but if the answer is “yes” then I ask – “What might I do to avoid this possibility?” In recent times there is also the problem that I can do nothing to avoid the possibility so then I must ask “What happens after?” 

What happens after is something that occupies my thoughts and my nightmares these days. 

If I get sick and die does not trouble me as I know what happens after! But if I get sick I might have difficulties recovering both health wise and economically – what happens after?

If my children are affected because there is illness in the family or lost income – what happens after?

When we come out on the other side – what happens after?

That last one is the stuff of nightmares. I want to be in charge of my own future but can do little and all we hear about is what is happening now. What happens after?

For now, all I can do is act cautiously to avoid any illness on my own part, encourage everyone I know to also act cautiously and pray someone has or is working on a plan for What happens after.

COVID-19 update

COVID-19 is causing issues for everyone….let me rephrase that … it SHOULD be causing issues for everyone. Everyone should be thinking in terms of “You are infected. What is the responsible thing for you to do to protect others?” Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks out there congregating in large groups on the beaches of Florida and other places as if they are immune. According to the CDC there is no such thing as “immune”. There are some who are not severely affected but who can carry the illness to others. So…please for my sake and for those in your life who are in the vulnerable group. Act like you have this illness. Act like you do not wish to make any one sick.

Me? Well I am currently well. I am in the vulnerable group for multiple reasons: age, diabetic, asthma, heart murmur and most recently, blood type A may be more vulnerable than type O, but I am currently well.

My life has changed – I’m working from home. As we are not printing bulletins and the office is not open, I can do my Good Shepherd work from my sofa! Much of my work for St. Columba can also be done from home but I do need to take care of accounting chores that can only be done in the office. I am there for a few hours Monday afternoon. This also helps folks know that we are still church as various people take some time to be in the office. We are careful! If more than one person is in the building social distancing applies. Food Bank is being staffed by less vulnerable people and the vulnerable have been temporarily “fired”! Good Shepherd’s a lunch location for the local school district. The normal community dinner is taking place but as sack lunches.

Community is being maintained with services moving online using Facebook Live and/or Zoom. iMessage chats, Google Hangouts, phone calls and email all help to keep us in touch with each other.

We need to be in touch! It is a general part of the human condition that we need others. Even the introverts, and I am one, need to be in touch even if we cannot actually touch.

So stay in touch! Stay Well! I hope to see you in person soon.

Lent 2020

I have observed Lent in some fashion for many years. Generally it is more about doing something rather than not doing. There are exceptions – meat is not eaten on Fridays in Lent although I admit I generally forget at least once. I have seen lists of ideas to “give up” including various attitudes. One of my favorite lists is found at this link https://www.yourmodernfamily.com/10-lent-ideas/

I especially like the idea of not buying something unless you truly need it. Bottom line many of the items on the linked list are good ideas for life in general not just Lent. That is actually one of the things I learn every year – a new pattern that becomes a part of my life.

Some years ago the “thing” I added for Lent was to spend a measured amount of time in prayer outside of Sunday. It was something I had always done sporadically but making it a true part of everyday changed me more than any other one thing. Well becoming a wife, mother, grandmother, widow don’t count.

I have in recent months found myself to be less than patient, less than polite in certain circumstances. I have been working on this but am still finding myself wanting so it is a goal, not just for Lent, but for Life to work on it. Each day I will include in my prayer time a request for help to be a patient, polite face to the people I serve.

Do you have plans for Lent? If not I recommend finding something to include in your life that can make the lives of those around you better and do everything with love. You may be surprised at how much your life changes.

Primary in Washington – that is the STATE not DC

Washington Sate primaries are run by the parties so, of course, they want to know which party you favor. This rule – must choose a party for your primary ballot to count – has been in place since late 1990’s.

I object. I have never chosen a party and would prefer to not start. Last primary I did not vote but have not decided what to do this time around. I do plan to wait until next week when the number of remaining candidates will be reduced. At that time I will decide if I feel strongly enough towards any particular candidate to be willing to affiliate with a party.

I also want to protest the assumption that the current president must be the candidate of the Republican Party so I might just declare republican but write in “anybody else”.

Choices. It is my choice and more than anything I appreciate that I have an opportunity to make a choice.

You can’t do just one thing

When I was young my parents covered the beautiful hardwood floors in our living room with wall to wall carpet. It broke my heart as I loved those floors but that is not what this is about….

The carpet made Mom realize that the room needed to be repainted. Repainting the room led to a desire to recover the couch which led to a desire to replace my Father’s very worn chair which led to…… you get the idea. She could not do just one thing.

Today I had a similar experience but with cleaning. It started in a whole new place with cleaning the dishwasher! When getting out more Jet Dry I realized the under sink area was…smelly. Ah me….something I threw out recently missed the garbage, fell behind the can and was now creating a less then joyful mess! So now I needed to take everything out from under the counter and clean the area throughly. That led to an extra cleaning of the counters including the WAY back corner I have to stand on my stool to reach. Pretty soon I was elbow deep in all kinds of places – the filter for the washer and dryer, the vacuum cleaner filter and hoses. Suddenly I sort of wished I had not decided to clean the dishwasher!

An odd example of you can’t do just one thing!

Grief Anniversaries

Of course, a loss colors birthdays, the date of death, the final services, holidays – most recently Valentine’s Day – but it also colors remarkably ordinary days and occurrences.

Not long after Glen’s death I discovered one of those ‘normal occurrences’ centered on a fork. One morning at breakfast some years before his death I gave Glen a salad fork with his egg. He made an off-hand comment which became a tradition of ‘breakfast fork’ rather than ‘salad fork’. I took out a fork for my breakfast this particular morning, noticed it was a ‘breakfast fork’ and burst into tears.

There are good things and bad things about Facebook memories. They make me happy but can also trigger a grief anniversary. I thought perhaps I should delete the ones that make me sad but recognized that these moments are also full of joy! I had my husband for 45 years. First met him at 15, had other lives but returned to each other and married at 22. I’d have to delete a lot of my life if my goal was to remove grief anniversaries and avoid some extremely satisfying activities and items.

Do I never again watch a football game because I remember sharing the Super Bowl win of the Seahawks with Glen? Do I never step foot in a horse barn again because I think of Glen’s loving care of my horse when I had foot surgery and was non-weightbearing for 10 weeks? Do I forever avoid certain songs?

No! I adapt! I recognized recently I was avoiding wearing a pair of truly beautiful turquoise and silver earrings Glen gave me. I was looking for something else in my jewelry box one morning when the earrings came to my hand. I cried as I used silver polish to clean them up then rejoiced as several times that day someone commented on how lovely they were.

I will rejoice in the memories even as I cry. I will rejoice in knowing how much he loved me. I will rejoice in knowing he will be remembered by many and affected the lives of not just our family but of those God sent him to serve.

I will rejoice!