Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Strange title for a blog post. Strange sentiment behind it, too.

I've done a lot of letting things go that weren't really mine recently. A cleaning of the cobwebs, if you will. Whether it was a person who needed to be exorcised from my life, or things that didn't bring me joy - clothing that doesn't fit or match me anymore, for example - letting things go so that I am open to the new has been a theme for me. There's a great passage in "Eat Pray Love" that's pretty similar to my thought processes of late:
If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot — a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with that doorway? It will rush in — God will rush in — and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed.
Sometimes those cobwebs are real and tangible - and while the above quote is about obsessing over a guy, I do think there's more to it than that. For me, it's been about determining what memories I wish to have around from work, school, children, friendships, as well as romantic relationships. So my actions? Five dollars I returned to an old flame that was once his and I had been unable to spend. Things literally thrown away or honored...

Which leads to this:

While my marriage has been over for a very long time, I've held on to the last material vestige of that relationship in my jewelry box: my wedding ring. I'm not sure why, honestly. I guess because it is small and doesn't really take up that much physical space. Easy to forget that I still have it... except one never really forgets.

About 6 months ago, I put the ring in my purse. I think only because I finally had the recognition that it is time for it to go - it may not have been taking up physical space, but it was taking up emotional space. I figured I would sell it or pawn it. Sunday I had the opportunity to sell it, and when I found out how much they wanted to give me for it, I had pause. Matter of fact, I still have it, because I figured I better check out other venues before just accepting what I had been told. Truthfully, though, I paused because the amount I was offered for the circle of gold was $40.61.

And therein lies the rub. The ring I cherished and wore daily for a long time is only worth $40.61? That relationship's current figurative cost is now less than a pair of shoes or a blouse? I honestly thought it would be worth a little more than that - maybe $100, or so, but $40.61?

After I got that quote I walked around, shopped, and really thought. No, the relationship is worth much more than that, but it's not a monetary value. I will always have my kids and the memories we've made together. Not to mention the good times that were present in the marriage. The ring... really is inconsequential. Yet at one point it meant so much. Yet it is nothing more than a symbol - something that says to society "I made a commitment." So ironic in so many ways.

It is time for it to go. Its symbolism has changed. And so have I.

When I took the ring off, I also made a commitment: To love myself and my children enough to heal. I don't know that I will ever wear another band around my left ring finger again, but I do know that if I do it will be for the right reasons, with someone who is a fit for me, and from a place that is whole to start with. It will be with me knowing that my worth does not come from a band around my finger, but from within.

In short, the Universe has rushed in...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Tis the Season

While I've been in my grading crunch for the past week or so, the fact that I've not done as much for Christmas as I'd like to have done already has also been providing a good bit of stress. I've tried to push it aside, but I admit it's creeped in on occasion. Grades were turned in yesterday, but I find myself in a different place than I thought I'd be at this point. I thought I'd be all gung ho about finishing shopping, etc, but I'm not. And last night I ordered New Year's cards, recognizing that I didn't need more stress trying to get anything out the door by next week.

I know why, too. On Monday, one of our neighbor's houses burned to the ground. We pulled up into the subdivision at the height of the fire. It was extraordinarily windy, and the fire was dangerously close to spreading to another house. A very sombering, sickening sight.

But then today I got an email about a dear sorority sister of mine who had a tumor removed off her pituitary gland a few weeks ago, and then had complications. She's still in the hospital, and prognosis is good, although she won't be able to sneeze or cough or do much else for 6 weeks.

And I'm left with the thought that my Christmas stressors are pretty inconsequential in the whole scheme of things.

'Tis the season ... not to be worried about details, but to love those around me, and be thankful for my blessings.

I count these among many:
  • None of my neighbors were hurt, and their things can be replaced.
  • Medical science is wonderful, and my sorority sister has wonderful friends and family by her side.
Those are excellent Christmas gifts.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Best Laid Schemes of Mice and Moms...

I didn’t run today until 4:15. Crazy. Such is life, though – some days it takes awhile to get moving due to things beyond one’s control.

I haven’t been running with my iPhone lately, preferring to have company with my own thoughts, and take the time to talk to God. Today, I took the phone since my kids needed to be able to reach me, and rather than play my usual running mix, I put it on random.

I never cease to be amazed at what happens when I do that. I skip a few songs, typically, but try not to do too many. More times than not, it seems that I hear exactly what I need to hear, and maybe there are some things I need to think about.

The mix was not as fast paced as I like to run to, but when I listened to the beat today, I realized it was right where I needed to be. First song was “Then,” and it just made me smile. A sense of both hope and being very happy with where I am right now just washed over me. It wasn’t long until two songs in a row came on that made me think of a friend of mine. One because he is the one singing it. The other, because he introduced me to this particular band’s music.

Ironically, or not, this friend emailed me yesterday to tell me what has been happening in his life over the past few months. We went out a few times over a year ago, and he breezed in and out of my life in many ways, but we somehow managed to remain friends. But the main crux of the email is that he became friends with a woman who was pregnant, but had been cast off by the baby’s father… somewhere along the way they fell in love, and he decided he wanted to be this baby’s father. The baby was born on Monday.

When I got that email, I just couldn’t help but smile. I’ve listened to him and paid attention to his crazy antics for the past few years, and had decided that he was happy being a single man who is married to his music. I’ve sensed that in some ways he has been lost – not really knowing what he wanted. For the first time, as I read his email yesterday, I sensed that suddenly he has found something to ground him. And that he’s happy. Everything I read felt just right.

So, I smiled when those songs came up, and I started praying for him, and the two new women in his life.

Then, the next song that came up was “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin. And my heart started to burst. It was gorgeous outside, and after thinking about my friend and his decision, it just seems divinely inspired. And on top of that, I felt the same way as I was running. How Great is Our God! I started thinking about the past few years and thinking about all the things that I’ve wanted, but didn’t get…. And the thought on many of those was “Thank GOD!”

How often is it we think we know what’s best, but find out that we’re not right?

Next was “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. And I was blown away. Ok, God… what are you trying to tell me today? My pace picked up and the song was central – wasn’t even thinking about the run itself… just opening myself up to whatever God seemed to be wanting to show me today.

I skipped a few songs, but it seemed that each song title made me think of someone – whether it was someone I dated along the way, or just a really good friend.

And then the music settled into “All That We Let In” by Indigo Girls – Hmmm…

You may not see it when it’s sticking to your skin

But we’re better off for all that we let in.

See those crosses on the side of the road

Tied with ribbons in the median

They make me grateful I can go this mile

Lay me down at night and wake me up again.

I smiled. I had been running. And had just run several miles. And was beyond grateful that I could do that. More than that, though, the words meant something different than they had previously.

Crosses on the side of the road… for some reason today that was about past relationships, or even potential relationships, that didn’t work. Or relationships that ran their course. People who came into my life for a season, but aren’t as central as they used to be for whatever reason.

How odd is that? Yet I’m grateful for each person who has been in my life for whatever length of time, or in whatever form, because they helped bring me here. To a place that is happy. Deep down in the gut happy.

Odd... would never have thought about this song that way before.

Finally, the run ended on “Now and Forever” by Carole King.

Now and forever, you are a part of me…

Sheez… I literally laughed out loud. This almost seems hokey, but it seemed that today’s run was about honoring the past. And recognizing that God has had a wonderful hand in that past. The past that has brought me to today, where God’s hand is definitely still present.

The Dinner Party Question

Not the same Dinner Party, but a really good one...
Judy Chicago

Recently, I was asked the question that you hear about, but you never think you'll actually have to answer. The dinner party question - If you had a dinner party and could invite any 5 people in history, living or dead, who would you invite and why?

I thought about the ones most people might say [Jesus, etc], and while yes, I'd like that very much, I talk to Him a good bit already, and the others aren't as central to who I am. So, after careful consideration of the question, here's my answer:

1. My Aunt Shelley - my mom's sister. She was killed in a car accident the day before her 19th birthday. I was 7. I've been told that I'm a lot like her. So much so that I wasn't allowed to drive or leave home on the day before my 19th birthday. Things changed when she died, and I remember the change. I remember as a young child thinking that she was someone I could always talk to, and I have wanted her presence a number of times as I've gotten older. I also remember childhood prayers where I prayed for her after she was dead... but really, it was more of trying to talk to her.

2. Jane Roland Martin - a philosopher of education. I was taking a philosophy course the first semester of my doctorate and thinking, "Oh my God - what have I done. This is AWFUL!" Trying so hard to figure out Plato, Hegel, Locke, Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism, Existentialism, etc... I had the thought that if this is what I'm going to be doing for the next 4 years, then I will never make it. What on earth did this have to do with getting a doctorate? I struggled with the material, reading all the recommended books as well as the required books, doing massive searches through academic databases and journals trying to find ANYTHING to help me figure out ontology, epistemology, and axiology of these philosophers and these -isms [not sure I would do well with it today, to be honest], and I came to a chapter in one of the books that was by Jane Roland Martin. And things started to click. I finally felt that I was reading something real as opposed to something so esoteric as to not have real meaning in the world. It's what led me into re-examining the word "feminist" as something other than a bad word, and helped me to recognize that one of the things I had internalized was that women are not as good as men - from what is taught in school, who is taught, and how it is taught, to even how I was treated at church, and in some ways in my marriage. Helped me to frame some questions that I had never dared frame before. Started me on the path of framing questions that I needed to frame, not just professionally, but personally.

3. Emily Saliers - one of the Indigo Girls. Some of her song lyrics just pierce me. The Wood Song, All That We Let in, Fleet of Hope, Prince of Darkness, Lay My Head Down, Love Will Come To You, Virginia Woolf, Watershed are ones that I will listen to over and over again. I would like to get in her head for just a little bit.

4. Nicholas Sparks - he writes brain candy books, really, but damn. Anyone who can give me a good cry like that deserves a piece of homemade chocolate cake.

5. Martha - my piano teacher. She would eat up the conversation between everyone at the table, laugh, and provide questions or insight that is wise. An old soul with a young heart. A true blessing in this world - any time spent with her is a gift in and of itself. She's currently a librarian at a school on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico, and how she ended up there is fascinating. She came to see me after I bought the grand piano because she needed to play it and to hear me play. She chuckled at some of my mistakes, and reverted back to giving me direction like she did when I was in high school. I miss her and love her dearly.

Intriguing question. I wonder what my answer would be in a few months or years.