Friday, February 17, 2017

Mirror, Mirror -

I have reached the age where I am no longer as young as I think I am. This seems to be a topic of conversation with many women lately; even having been written about here. I refuse to be "old," but with students' ages being closer to my grandchildren than children, I'm reconsidering my teaching presentation based on my age and what is appropriate presentable, and empathic. And with aging patients am I appropriate, presentable, and empathetic, with just a touch of youth, please? There you go; this weekend's food for thought.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Happy Unniversary -

39 years ago Clark Knudsen and I were married in the Provo Temple. I was 2 weeks 19, he was 21 1/2. Goodness we were bold - thinking we owned the world and that we had life figured out. Little did we know.

Today I am grateful for 39 years of learning what youth didn't teach me - life is a gorgeous erotic exotic encompassing ride, and no amount of "wait" would have stopped me from the choices I made then and I continue to make.

I'm grateful for irrationally rational decisions, for start-overs, and for a good hard life.

Nearly 13 years ago Scott Weaver and I were married.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Alison Krauss -

I have thoroughly enjoyed Alison Krauss' music through the years. I first heard her when we lived in Alabama, in 1990, and her strong clear clean rich voice along with her youth made her a favorite in our home. That Christmas season her magical song and accompanying music video warmed my heart and influenced my perception of Christmas in the South.

Her allegiance to Rounder Records and independent musicians makes me proud to be a fan of her and her fellow Rounder dudes including Dan Tyminski; she was teachable and willing to surround herself with great musicians.

When she recorded tunes for 'O Brother Where Art Thou' in 2000, she had a decade plus of music under her belt, and her maturity was as apparent as her love for traditional music.

I love her album with Robert Plant. And her interaction with him was not the "dirty old man" duo I was expecting - thank heavens. She's maintained her sweetness, genuineness, while also stretching, reaching, and collaborating.

I'm excited for her new album, 'Windy City," and thank heavens NPR hosted a show and preview to this on their site. My favorite - Gentle on my Mind - John Hartford's tune, made popular by Glenn Campbell. Perfect.

Thank God for Rounder and real music.

Jenna had a dear friend who died in a car accident several years ago. Jenna was asked to speak at her funeral. Rather than talking, Jenna played her guitar and sang this song, by Krauss. 

We were able to see Hartford play his tune a few months before he died, in Tennessee. It was truly a top ten musical moments in my life. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Vegetables and Guns -

Be fair, be true, do no harm. That's my life motto. Has been as long as I can remember.

Two years ago Scott bought me a handgun for Christmas. A few months earlier, he had purchased his own handgun. I wasn't quite sure why we had them, but I knew I needed to be a gun owner.

As a young teen I quit eating eggs and drinking milk. About thirty years ago I quit eating red meat. It hurt my stomach, and unpackaging and cooking red meat made me nauseous. And the idea of eating a living breathing entity just didn't sit well with me.

About twenty-five years ago, on a trip to Northern California, standing in a grocery store, I made the decision to no longer eat meat. I was tired of hurting - emotionally, and I decidedno longer eating meat would be my way of stopping my hurt and controlling how I interacted with other lives - other living beings.

Just like that, I stopped. My stomach began to heal, while my heart was still in angst. I didn't make my being a vegetarian a big deal. In fact, I seldom used the label, "Vegetarian." Instead, I would avoid a conversation, or answer with, "I don't eat meat." I didn't even eat meat supplements - tofu and other soy or TVP products. Rather, I added a few more carbs, while fruits and vegetables were the mainstay of my diet. I asked family and friends to not make a fuss about my choices, I didn't want to inconvenience anyone. I wasn't tempted to partake, although I continued to cook meat for my family - except for ground meat and steaks. If they ever wanted this, it was their role to cook it. Not a problem for us, and while my children seldom ate red meat at home, they had chicken, turkey, fish on occasion, and they learned about good nutrition and where to find protein in sources other than animals.

This went well with my life motto - I didn't kill, or partake of killed animals. I respected the rights of others, and I appreciated similar respect. Hurting even a spider in my house became an issue for me, and most likely I will send a prayer of thanksgiving and remorse when killing a spider or fly. Typically I try to get it outdoors rather than hurting it.

When Scott and I married he was surprised to find out I didn't eat meat, yet it hasn't been an issue in our marriage.

However -

Post cancer treatments I found a real need for protein in my system. And it couldn't be soy-based because of the phytoestrogens in soy. So my nutritionist told me I needed eggs, poultry, fish in my diet. I remember the day I realized this was truth - I was holding a plank, she told me my body would not grow stronger without, and as I exercised that hour contemplating her words, I knew I must partake.

Interestingly,the following day another nutritionist, after reading my energy, said the same thing. The words of two or more -

So I eat meat, hide eggs in edibles, drink vege-based protein shakes. I don't love it. I send a prayer before eating - a prayer of gratitude, but I'm still troubled.

Two weeks ago Scott and I took a gun safety class - the first time my gun has been out of the box, the first time I've held a handgun, and I had a tough time when it came to pulling the trigger for the first time.

In fact - I pulled the trigger, hitting the target that was eight feet away. The gun went boom, kicked back, a small flame was released, and as quickly as I could I placed the gun down, tore off the ear and eye protectors and left the shooting range. I screamed, shook, and paced.

What on earth was I doing at the gun range, with a handgun, shooting? This action has gone totally against everything I have believed and lived for a large portion of my life. Be fair, be true, DO NO HARM. And the safety instructor kept telling me, "Shoot to kill." Kill what? For what?

These past few days I've been struggling with this contradiction I've created. I'm filled with compromises - and I don't like this! I want to be strong and stand firm and resolute in my vegetarianism - yet I can't. I want to protect others - yet I must protect myself. And here I am, with a handgun, and another lesson set for next Friday,and the same anxiety in my gut that I felt when eating ground beef many years ago and a scrambled egg three years ago.

Because as much as I'd like to believe I can be a forever vegetarian and the world is a peaceful beautiful place, my conscience says I need a little meat and a little shooting. Enuf -

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I Do It Myself - Part 5 on Faith Transition -

Scott and I had dinner last night with some friends. Transitions were a big part of our conversation. Transitioning from parents to empty-nesters to no-longer-needed. Transitioning from being hands-on parents to hands-off parents. Transitioning from youth and health to aging and poor health. Transitioning from being defined by a faith tradition to defining that for ourselves. 

We decided the reality is this - we're not all heart-shaped sugar cookies. We don't all want to be so. We are individuals with our own needs, wants, desires, strengths, weaknesses. And at the end of the day, if we've given our best, or attempted to do so, or reaffirmed that tomorrow we'll try harder, that's it. This is all that's required; looking within and being able to assess us. "I done my best." 

And I'll end my tirade with these words from Leo Babuata. I have found peace in Zennism, Buddhism, in staying in the here and now. And this compliments my form of Mormonism quite nicely. After all, aren't we all just wanting some validation, even when it comes from within? 

Wanting Someone [Something, Including Religion] Else to Fulfill Our Lives

I have a friend who is lonely, who has such a good heart and desperately wants to find a partner who appreciates that goodness, to share a life with.
[There is a] desire for a deep connection, this hope that another person will just get us . . . and merge with them, we’d be fulfilled.
What if we tossed that idea out on its head? What if everything we need for happiness and fulfillment is within us? What if all the requirements for fulfillment were in this very moment, not in some imagined ideal future? . . . The fulfillment that we get in life ends up (mostly) not coming from the other person, but from ourselves.
What would it be like if we let go of this fantasy . . . and instead focused on finding fulfillment in the here and now, within ourselves?

Where We Get Fulfillment

Another person isn’t going to fulfill us — at best, they’ll make us feel better about ourselves, and listen to us. The listening part is great, but we can get that from friends or family as well. The feeling better about ourselves is a function we can fulfill on our own as well. I’m not saying a partner is useless, but I am saying that a partner isn’t needed for fulfillment.
So how can we fulfill ourselves, by ourselves?
Fulfillment comes from something deeper — finding meaning in life, finding appreciation for the fleeting beauty of every moment, being in service of others, loving. . . . 
We can find meaning by searching within ourselves and in the world around us. We can start to appreciate the impermanence and joyful moments around us all the time. We can be in service of others in our community. We can love anyone, from those already in our lives (even if they don’t know we’re doing it) to strangers on the street, to all living beings.

Fulfillment From Within

What if we could do all these things just sitting here, doing nothing? What if this very moment contained all we need for fulfillment?
Try looking within:
  • Stop and be still. Sit and do nothing, finding stillness and just noticing the moment.
  • Notice your body, your breath, emotions that happen in your body (like a tightness in your chest, or a warmth in your heart area), your thoughts.
  • See that there is constant change within you, and a loving goodness as well.
  • Fall in love with all that you see, from the emotions and thoughts to the body and breath, from the impermanence to the underlying goodness.
  • Reflect on a desire to be in service of yourself, and others.
  • Cultivate a love for yourself and all others by radiating a wish for everyone, including yourself, to be free of suffering, to be happy, to find joy.
  • Reflect on your innate connection to others — reflect on how others support your life, how the food that nourishes you is brought to you by thousands of others, how you’ve been created into the person you are because of the influences of every person you’ve met and connected with. This web of connections is how you are always a part of everything and everyone around you, a deep connection that is ever-changing and everlasting.
  • Reflect on your surroundings and in the constant change and beauty that is in every single thing, in the ocean of matter and energy that you are a part of.
These and more are always available, right now and in every moment, in you and all around you. This practice can bring fulfillment, and nothing is required but attention, appreciation, gratitude and love. You have that in you. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Up to Me - Part 4 on Faith Transition -

So how do I live my life in Utah County, Mormon Orem, without losing myself, my own authenticity. Well, back to the first in this series, that's damn tough. Particularly tough to do without anger or following a clan on a hike up a steep and rugged trail.

I left because I was alone and afraid and angry. I left because I thought I had no voice. I left because I did not know what else to do to be heard.

I returned because I wanted hope. I wanted to believe. I wanted to return to my roots. I came back to be the voice I had lost.

I stay. I stay because I have hope. I stay for me. I stay because I want something more. And that more is not of the world but of me. I am better when I listen to myself, my voices, my kindness, my generosity, my real. And I only discovered this by leaving. And for that I am afraid; I like this me; I fear losing my voice as an aging Mormon woman, with a voice.

I'm afraid for others who are leaving because they are listening to others' voices rather than their own. I worry about the toll my journey has taken on my lovelies, and while I want them to be fully aware that doubting and questioning and exploring, and even removing are good, they must be careful and not reckless. It's the recklessness that hurts, on any journey. And for this I am so sorry. So sorry it took my abandonment to find myself.

This is a tough place to live. It's a tough place to be a Mormon or a not-Mormon. It's tough to be 58 years old in a region that caters to those under-40, catered to by those over 40. In a village that never ages, aging and changing and transitioning are hard, hard as the asphalt trail hiking the Y, and just as steep and harsh.

I'm grateful I'm no longer angry or lonely or tired or afraid. I'm just another person trying to be fair, to be true, to do no harm. Yet I'm still learning how to dream my dreams.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Up to Me - Part 3 on Faith Transition -

Interestingly, I found my solace in music! Neil Young, Cheryl Wheeler, Greg Brown, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Iris DeMent's "Let the Mystery Be," validated my religious beliefs; Nanci Griffith's "I Live On a Battlefield," was me, and I fully acknowledged the battlefield was of my creation. I am ever so grateful for music that put lyrics and sounds to my emotions; the one place where I found comfort and release. And if this music was outside, in the warmth of a sunny summer day, I was able to worship my creator - because I had never quit believing in a higher power.

I've vacillated back and forth since those angry years. I found happiness, or at least peace, with my religious surroundings. I thank my cancer journey for giving me the time to go inside, and for taking away the energy to go outside. I thank the Givens for their book, "The God Who Weeps," and Brad Wilcox for his book, "The Continuous Atonement." I read little other of a spiritual nature during my time of confinement; these were my Mormon theology go-to's."The Tao of Pooh" touched my heart, and I hungered for simplicity and complexity, and I found it.

Today - my church congregation is not my family. I don't expect anything glorious from it. I have attempted to find my home within my congregation, but I have determined it is not my social circle, it is only a house for my spiritual actions, really, nothing more. And having no expectations has been quite freeing. I serve when asked, I have even volunteered, but I have absolutely no buy-in, and some days I'm disappointed, and some days I find this liberating.

I have no voice within my religious congregation. I will not be consulted as to whom I think the next RS President, the next Bishop, Stake President, Home Teacher will be. I will not be consulted when Enrichment Night activities are assembled. I will not be consulted, nor have I ever, in regards to members and membership, that remains a man's right, a man's voice. Although there are plenty of women who can now speak in that voice. I tried - once. I've decided I don't want one. I am disenfranchised, I did it to myself. I will not be consulted in regards to my areas of expertise - no one has asked me to teach about culture, grief, dying, family traditions; although I did once volunteer to make a casket piece out of garden flowers - it was beautiful.

At 58 the lessons I've learned are lessons I'm still learning. Don't follow anyone off a cliff, get help when needed, find your own path, but remember there are choices to modes of travel. Travel lightly, travel wisely, and travel with hope and peace as companions rather than anger and fear. Doubt is good - it's the momentum to getting moving. Doubt is the drive toward something more. And resignation is a good way to close one door. And a closed door can be a good thing.