Thursday, February 26, 2015

11th One -

Happy Anniversary to US! 11 years together. 
We are weathering the storms of life, and we are happy. 

I in you, you in my, limitless the powers that be. 
From heaven to earth, from sun to star, eternity is what we are. 

(I can't remember the author)

February 2004 getting our marriage license. 

July 2014 smiling at Nick and Cortney

Monday, February 23, 2015

Visualizations -

I attended a workshop today on the LGBTQ population in Utah. The emphasis was on Transgender and Healthcare. It was an amazing experience to hear from a man who has transgendered - to hear his story, to see his passion for Pride, and to feel his dedication to making sure those who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, or Queer get proper medical care (including physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual).

As part of this too-short 2 hour conversation, he led the 20+ healthcare workers on a visualization journey.

I’d like you to imagine yourself in your home.  It is a typical weekday morning and you are just waking up to your alarm clock.  You stretch and yawn.  But you stop in mid-yawn when you become keenly aware that something is not right.  More specifically, you realize that something is not right with your body.  It feels awkward and strange.  You get up, throw on a bathrobe and stumble, still half asleep, to the bathroom and switch on the light.  You are startled awake by the sight of a stranger standing in your bathroom.  Who is this person and what could they want?

As your mind starts to make sense of what you are seeing, you realize that you are looking in your bathroom mirror.  In the next instant, you realize that you are looking at a reflection of yourself.  But the reflection you see is all wrong.  Your body has somehow changed overnight and you are no longer who you know you are.  You very tentatively lean closer to the mirror to get a better look.  As you peer at your face, you see that the masculine and feminine features in your face have completely reversed themselves.  The contours of your face are completely foreign to you.  

If you identify as a woman, you now notice stubble on your chin and jaw and how it scratches your hand as you rub your face.  The contours of your face are more severe and defined than you expect them to be.

If you identify as a man, you now notice how soft and delicate the skin on your face feels.  The contours of your face are softer than they were yesterday and the features may even be smaller.

What is happening here?  You look yourself in the eye and see a small spark of recognition, but everything else is dreadfully wrong.

You step back to get a fuller view of yourself.  The first thing you notice is the significant change in the size and shape of your neck.  You lift your hands to further explore your body and you are immediately struck by the change in the size and shape of your hands.  
If you identify as a woman, your hands have been replaced with large and rough ones.  You notice that the knuckles are more developed, your fingers are longer, and the backs of your hands have hair on them.  You can’t imagine how you can manage such large and ungainly hands.

If you identify as a man, your hands have been replaced with smaller and more delicate ones.  You rub them together and notice how foreign they feel to you.

You tentatively run your hands down your torso.  Even through your robe, you notice immediate and drastic changes in your body.

If you identify as a woman, you notice your broad shoulders and your narrower waist.  Your body seems more lumbering and huge and you notice more muscular development than you had before.

If you identify as a man, you are shocked by the new curves in your body.  You feel the swelling of breasts and the curve of your hips.

You let your hands fall to your sides and you look at yourself in the face again.  You know what you must do now, but it seems overwhelming.  You close your eyes and untie your robe.  You let it fall to the floor and you can feel the air against your naked body.  You take a deep breath to calm your racing heart, and you slowly open your eyes.

What you see in the mirror is simply all wrong.  There are no words to describe how wrong this is.  As your gaze drifts down below your waist, it feels as if you are looking at someone else’s body.  Although what you see is anatomically correct, you know it doesn’t belong to you.  You experience an unusual sense of detachment as you explore yourself.  You can feel the touch of your own hands, but you can’t escape the sensation that you are exploring someone else’s body.  This just isn’t right.  You wonder what kind of twist of fate is playing this cruel trick on you?  How could something like this happen?

Still feeling somewhat detached from yourself, you pick up your robe, put it back on and slowly return to your room.  You know you must get dressed.  You open your closet door and notice that again something has changed.  What you see hanging there is not what you want to wear.  As you flip through the hangers, you realize that these clothes are designed to fit the new body you have.  In frustration, you grab the first thing you see and throw it on.  Yes, it fits but the only way to describe how you feel is that you are wearing a costume.  The first thought you have is “I’m in drag and everyone is going to know it”.

So you begin your day and you resolve to make it through.  It becomes apparent to you quickly that everyone around you is treating you differently.  No one is recognizing you for who you really are.  Because you now look like the opposite sex, people are treating you accordingly.  Part of it is nice, and part of it definitely isn’t.  Even your family and friends are treating you like the opposite sex.  You feel that no one can possibly understand what you are experiencing.  As you walk through your day, you are constantly and keenly aware of your body.  You continue to feel strangely detached from yourself.  You recognize that being constantly aware of your body takes huge amounts of energy.  You just cannot seem to get comfortable in this new body.

You finally make it home at the end of the day, drained and exhausted.  You feel the need to be alone, away from the world that is trying to tell you that you are something you are not.  You lock yourself in the bathroom and take some deep breaths.  But the comfort doesn’t come.  You simply don’t fit in your body and you can’t escape it.

You finally drag yourself to bed and convince yourself that this Twilight Zone experience will be over in the morning.  You drift off to sleep with a spark of hope that everything will be right when you wake.

You wake the next morning and stumble out of bed again.  You switch on the bathroom light and immediately experience a feeling of defeat and hopelessness.  You are still in the wrong body.  It slowly dawns on you that this might be permanent.  What is it going to be like for you to experience these feelings day after day?  What is it going to be like to live life in a body that you know is completely wrong for you?  How will you have the energy to do this?  You wonder if there is any hope for ever feeling comfortable in your body again?  What would it take to change your body back to the one you know is right for you?  The options seem limited and overwhelming.

With a deep sigh, you turn off the light and face your day. 

As straight as I am, this exercise was tough because of my own journey. While I didn't "open my eyes" to see a different gender, I did open my eyes to see a stranger standing in front of me - every morning for a year - and "With a deep sigh, I turned off the light and faced my day."

There are still days when I cannot draw a line connecting the 4 Ronda's of the past 4 years. The Ronda pre-cancer, Ronda cancer, Ronda post-cancer, and a 4th, Ronda post-post cancer, the Ronda today. I have been through many changes - forced into them, and now acknowledging them, healing, moving.

I changed my mantra from "Stronger" last year to "Strong" this year. And as I opened my eyes today when the exercise was finished, I realized that it is because of being forced to look into the mirror, so many many times these past years, forced to face my changes, that I am strong.

And - to a certain degree, I can relate. Perhaps that's a piece of my journey. Thanks Dayne.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Enlightenment -

This statement was shared at today's Spirituality Group - where our conversation was about spirituality and religion - similarities, differences, and do we need one to have the other. 

Those who are religious are trying to stay out of hell. 
Those who are spiritual have been to hell. 

Another version, found on a Google search (where there are multiple versions): 

Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell. 
Spirituality is for those who have already been there. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

All I/You/We/Us Need -

Shared this yesterday - makes a lot of sense - simple lyrics, simple message - 
why do I/we/you/us complicate it? 

Gonna see Lucinda this week.
This tune, was pivotal in my walking away and learning to love myself. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015


I should probably be either the prophetess of doom (Fri. Feb. 13) or the prophetess of love, but instead, I'm focusing on being self-aware - self-identity has to come before love, lust, hurt, disappointment - because we have to have one in order to identify the other - the bitter with the sweet.

So - here's my little self-awareness exercise; I'm sharing it with clients this week. Enjoy -

1. Am I living as the person I want to be?

2. How much of the time do I allow others to see me as I really am?

3. What authentic parts of myself have I been hiding from people who know me?

4. Am I happy with what I've been doing with my life?

5. Do my everyday activities and interactions bring me joy?

6. What parts of myself have I been ignoring, neglecting or denying?

7. What do I need to do or let go of to finally grow up?

8. What do I need to do or let go of to finally be free?

9. If my life was over tomorrow, would I feel fulfilled with how I have lived and what I have accomplished?

10. If I weren't worried about what other people might think or how they might react, what changes or decisions would I make in my life?

11. If I had one year left to live, what changes or decisions would I make in my life?

12. If I listened to what my heart has been trying to tell me, what would I do, change or decide?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Laughing - Play - Happiness (Please forgive text font mess.)

Pharrel Williams “Happy”

‘Think of what makes you smile, makes you happy – and do more of that stuff.” Steve Maraboli

“Joy doesn’t simply happen. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Henri Nuowen “Today I choose joy!” Joy in the journey – because that’s what life is, a style of travel, not only a destination.

Most of our “ways” are shaped during our growing up years. In fact, by the time we’re 8 years old, we have learned about religion, values, beliefs, traditions, what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable. We know when to play, when to work. Who we can play with, and whom we can’t, what we can play, what we can’t. Same with beliefs – whom/what we can believe in, whom/what we can’t. We learn what beliefs are acceptable, what aren’t. And we follow – parents, teachers, siblings, older friends.

Play is how children learn, grow, and even how they pray.  Play incorporates body, mind, emotions, and spirit. By honoring and valuing children and play – including play in worship – we encourage their wholeness while reclaiming a holistic way of being for ourselves.

When we are children we tend to engage in sports for the play, for the fun. Then as adults we begin to organize our play and things become more serious. Now there are fixed and competing teams, teams we are supposed to defeat, teams we may even come to hate. Even the language of play changes from cheers to taunts – kill ‘em, break ‘em, go get ‘em, eat ‘em up. As we get older only the better players get to play, and the word “play” loses all sense of playfulness. And by the time we get to college and professional sports play is dead serious, so not play at all. The same thing can happen with religion. As a child, awe and wonder come naturally to us, but as these are institutionalized they become work rather than play, and hence often harder to achieve.

One day – we begin to question – play, work, community, beliefs, values, traditions, what’s acceptable and not. We ask a few big questions: Why? What does this mean? How do you know? And – So What? We ask these questions to parents, teachers, siblings, friends. And we begin to parse out truth from untruth – as we decide to see it. Sadly, we also put an end to play, delight, awe, wonder, and even joy. 

Quite often we see spirituality and religion as synonymous, and we dump one because we want to dump the other. We do the same with play – dump it over a strong work ethic – seeing religion, spirituality, work, play, as all or nothing elements in our lives.

I argue that there is room for both. We need to bring back the sparkle of laughter, play, child-like games into our lives – so we can become healthy, become whole. We need to laugh –at   ourselves, to ourselves, and with others. We need to play for the same reasons. Not competition, but play for the sake of playing – for the sake of releasing ourselves and fully living in the moment.

Spiritual people know how to laugh and most often at themselves. Do laughter and play go together? Yes I think so. The more spiritual one becomes the more joy one finds in the sheer wildness of being alive. There is something intrinsically funny about life; and the way we go about living can be downright absurd. Laughter is a natural response to seeing the irony of life and absurdity of our lives.

Mary Poppins, “I Love to Laugh” 

Play, and playful thought then, can hold a very powerful way to connect to what our Spirit needs to thrive. Through play, children remind us what wholeness looks like. Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  
Laughter, Joy, Play – can help us heal.

1. Play is expansive. It gives us the energetic space we need to feel alive and imagine the possibilities that are available to further inspire us. In fact, one might see play as a spiritual practice in its own right.

2. Play is a profound act. Play becomes the way to connect to, and fill, the often magical space from which we create. And recognizing the deep meaning and healing that can be found as we connect to our playful, creative and inspirational selves can be a truly spiritual process.

3. Play becomes a spiritual practice when we begin to recognize those moments where we need to connect to our expansive selves. It becomes a practice when we must consciously shift our awareness from what may be self-limiting to self-fulfilling. Knowing our relationship to play (this lighter side of life) and what helps us to connect to this transformational place is a key element in our spiritual practice.

4. Play can enhance spirituality. Play is the imaginative construction of one segment of reality. Play is much more than diversion or exercise. It is creativity in preliminary form, the fore-runner of authentic change.

Unfortunately, all too often we think of spirituality as “serious business.” We think there is no room in adulthood, sobriety, and spirituality for play. We give far too much credence to scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 13:11 that says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” 

Perhaps we need to spend more time with scripture such as Proverbs 8 where the essence of Holy Wisdom is ever at play in the world.  Perhaps we need to reclaim the God of Joy, who in Isaiah 65 says: “I shall be joyful… I shall rejoice in my people.” Perhaps, as in the Bible in Zephaniah 3, we are to embrace an image of the Divine rejoicing over us with happy song, dancing with shouts of joy for us.

Do the images of a laughing Jesus, a laughing Buddha, or a singing, dancing God shift your perception of the Divine or shift your perception of what abundant life might look like? I believe these images encourage us to embrace our inner child; to dance, sing, and play; to immerse ourselves in the wonder of creation and give ourselves permission to enjoy the playground of God; and to let God dance in us and take delight in us.
Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.—Alan Watts

 I wonder, what brings you joy?  In what do you delight?  What is your experience of God, of the Sacred, in those moments of joy and delight?

This coming week I invite you to explore the spirituality of play. I invite you to dare to let your inner child loose. Maybe you’ll stand outside with your face turned up and let the rain plant little God-kisses all over your face.  Maybe you’ll jump in the biggest puddle you can find, splashing cold water up to your knees. Or pull the brightest, wildest pieces of clothing from your closet and wear them – without concern for what people think. If you want to wear a purple shirt, with red pants, and a yellow scarf – wear them!

Dig out your yo-yo or hula-hoop or jump-rope and let your body remember what play feels like. Read a children’s book. Put on your favorite music and dance. Sing at the top of your lungs – and not only while you’re in the shower. Experience the world with each of your senses and immerse yourself in the wonder and awe of a tree, a squirrel, a child.

Imagine the divine building, creating, sculpting, dancing, singing, and painting your life with the energy of playfulness. Imagine your Higher Power at play within you, inviting you into a life of joy and happiness.  Give yourself permission this coming week to enjoy the playground of God and let the Divine dance and take delight in you.

“Joy doesn’t simply happen. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” Henri Nouwen “Today I choose joy!” Joy in the journey – because that’s what life is, a style of travel, not only a destination.

I like the lyrics from Lee Ann Womack’s song, "I Hope You Dance":
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Play -

An "older lady" in my church congregation in Brigham City, many moons ago, told me something that has had a strong impact on how I parent/ed and grandparent. She said her grand-daughter said to her one day, "Grandma, come to me with your hands dry." I was so taken by the depth of this statement. It's something I've tried to do - come to my children with my full attention, being fully aware that my time with them is more important than the dishes, garden, vacuuming, time on the computer/phone, grading, reading, projects. Time really is of the essence with children, regardless of age. We can project together - with wet/dirty hands, but that is together time, not - "Well, I'll make a minute for you, but we need to do it on my terms."

I'm trying to incorporate this into my life now - no children, lots to do, but still, full attention. I'm surprised at how often I can not make time for my loved ones - including Scott. My hands are typically "wet," and I need to dry them for him, for family, and particularly - for me.

PS - this is also license to play! More about that later, but think about this - when was the last time you flew a paper airplane, jumped rope, played Duck, Duck, Goose; Hot Potato, spit sunflower seeds, laughed a belly laugh?

Monday, February 2, 2015

3rd Step

You know - I still struggle with this, and as I "preached" this step at yesterday's service, I was even more aware that I am weak, that I doubt, and that I don't have the courage I need to have - the will to turn my will and life over to the care of God. It should be easy - I've taken this step more than once, but to completely give up control, even though He does such a better job than I, is tough. 

I get a little prideful - "Thanks, God, for helping me out, now I think I can handle things myself. I'll let you know if I need you." And I go about my merry way, until I am feeling overburdened - and I reach out, and He answers, and then I close the door and continue on. 

Am I the only person out there who still wants to "do it myself?"