Thursday, August 31, 2017

4 More Months


At the start of 2017, I created a list of goals for the year. I last updated in April and figured it was time to update again - partially to hold myself accountable in the last 4 months of the year.

Stars show done or in process. Arrows are areas I need to get started or maybe drop.

A night away with Jeff - we did do a church retreat. But I'd still like to find a romantic getaway weekend.

Weekend for me (yellow arrow) - I have made zero effort on this one. Sigh. Although, I am doing an overnight with a friend prior to doing a 5K together so maybe I can halfway count that?

Family vacation - Smokey Mountains in the spring, weekend at Kingdom Kentucky over the summer.

Explore different faiths - I've done a little and plan to attend the Indy Festival of Faiths this fall.

Quiet time in nature - I've sat and prayed outside several times, usually at my church which has natural habitat areas.

Active time in nature - haven't even made it to the local nature preserve for a walk. I am going to at least make that happen.

Black Belt - This one moves to 2018. Teagan has earned her Black Belt. She started a few months before the rest of us. But Jeff, Zach and I will be testing next year.

Prayer and reflection - ongoing.

Pray regularly - I haven't made this one happen, either.

Focus my passion - this might take longer than 1 year. But I feel more content in recognizing my passions than I did when the year started.

Exercise - tae kwon do continues. Trying to increase my daily steps. Boxing with a friend sometimes. Still would love to do zumba regularly.

Yoga - Another one that I just need to make happen.

Date nights - Another one that needs to be made a priority

5K - I am signed up for 1 in Sept and 1 in Oct!

Ride my bike - I don't think this one will happen in 2017, sadly.

Free hugs (3x) - I've done free hugs twice this year. At the Women's March and at Indy Pride (in the parade)

Read 12 books - done! And still going! Currently reading Hillbilly Elegy. Beartown and Waking Up White are next on the list.

Journal - ongoing. Recently my journaling has been poetry!

Time with friends - ongoing.

Chores - we had a great system over the summer. Struggling to keep it up in the school year.

Love others - yep. This is happening.

Labyrinth - check. Walked the labyrinth at church after a friend died.

Wear my Fitbit - check.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy New Year!


Today is the last day of 3rd grade and 6th grade for my kids. I found myself reflecting on all the things that have gone on in the year as I was scrolling through photos on Facebook to find their first day of school pictures. It's been a really good year in many ways. I start writing down all the things that I want to remember about this school year and realized that it was like celebrating the new year.


Zach had a teacher who was new to our school. He was in a "cabin" classroom - meaning a nicely appointed trailer behind the school.

Teagan had 2 teachers who have taught together for years and had long teaching careers.

Over the course of the school year:

We visited the Art Museum, made trips to the State Fair, went on walks in many different parks, went to Jingle Rails at the Eiteljorg, visited the Indiana Historical Society, and went to 2 different rallies (we all went to the Kids Rally for Peace and I went to the Women's March). Teagan and I did the CROP Walk and also the Walk for Dreams (both events support organizations that fight hunger and homelessness).

The kids dressed up as Star Wars characters - Rey and Kylo Ren. For Halloween. Bandit dressed up as a superhero.



We saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Twice. Once, Teagan and I went with friends to a local church production. Then the kids and I went to see it at a local theatre.

Teagan ran Cross Country at school.

We attended a performance by the Carmel Symphony Orchestra. Teagan started band at school, playing the euphonium. Zach and Teagan sang with the children's choir at church. Teagan joined the handbell choir with me. Teagan was in her school musical and played Kristin Chenoweth. Zach sang and danced i nhis school music program.

I discovered a love of jewelry. But only this $5 per piece jewelry.

Zach turned 9 and celebrated with a friend at SkyZone (indoor trampoline park). And it was an "everything Pikachu" birthday. Teagan turned 12 and celebrated with friends at the bowling alley and then a family dinner at Benihana.

Jeff and I went out to dinner to celebrate his milestone birthday. No need to mention which milestone.


The kids both had strep and pink eye. Then Zach got strep 2 more times. I had all kinds of health stuff - an overnight in the hospital for heart afib, seeing a hematologist and getting iron infusions for my anemia, ablation and tubal removal to also help with the anemia. I had my first mammogram.

Teagan took a sushi making class. Zach was a platypus in his class "zoo wax museum." Teagan got glasses. Bandit had to wear the "cone of shame" after needing a minor procedure.

We vacationed for spring break in the Smokey Mountains - Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge. We also got to add a surprise 2 nights to our trip - meeting up with friends who were returning from their Florid trip! We spent a weekend in Sieverville, TN. We discovered Berea, KY on our trip home.

Teagan and Christy did indoor skydiving (on our spring break trip).

My brother, Ted, got engaged - which means I will soon have a sister (Rebecca)!

We've read many books, spent time with friends, played and cheered for our church softball team, added a piano and antique bed (gifted to us by friends who are moving across country) to our home, watched movies, discovered fun TV shows, hugged, laughed, snuggled, played.

We've also had a lot of disagreements, had a lot of misery on our fun activity vacation, had a lot of attitudes and eye rolls and arguments and such. Work has been pretty stressful - simply the nature of the job in certain circumstances.

But with this last day of school, I'm looking back and realizing how much my kids have grown in this past year. Zach has really come out of his shyness shell. He has been gently coached to be able to speak in front of people - which he did both at church and at school. He was a "book buddy" at school - meaning having reading time on a regular basis with a kindergartner throughout the year. He joined the choir at church - something he has always given a hard no to in the past. He has strongly connected with a few families at church. He has learned so much in this school year - he is always impressing me with the random math or science things he brings up in the car. We were at the library and he told me that he knew the best way to pick out a book. You read the first page and if you know all the meanings of the words, it's too easy. If you don't know most of the words, it's too hard. But if it interests you and you have to infer the meaning or look up a few words, it's just right.

Teagan has really grown this year, too. She is ending her year with straight A's and she worked hard and independently to earn those grades.She has navigated friendship issues, stepped away from drama, and befriended people who just need a friend. She has demonstrated kindness and compassion in some big ways. She has been brave and adventurous. She is in this age where so many of her friends want to be like teenagers and she isn't ready to give up being a kid. She has just started to wear a small amount of make up (mascara, lip gloss). She isn't quite to a point of having a crush - but I think we're on the verge of realizing that those feelings are starting to brew.

All in all, even with the lows and bumps and not so fun times, it's been a good year. On to 7th and 4th grade!!










Thursday, April 20, 2017

The 2017 List - Q1 Complete


1. It's scheduled! But not as a romantic getaway like I envisioned. We are going on a spiritual retreat with other members of our church. Without kids. And it is overnight. So it does officially count, right?

2. No plan at this time.

3. Check. We went to the Smokey Mountains over spring break.

4. I have been learning about other cultures - thanks to a club at my 12 year old's school that I've been helping out with. But I need to focus my efforts on other faiths more seriously.

5. I have taken some time for quiet time in nature. It is so fulfilling and something I need to do more.

6. Still working this one out.

7. This one is feeling farther and farther away. But it's in progress.

8. In progress.

9. Need a plan to make this more consistent.

10. Figuring it out. Slowly. Maybe.

11. Tae kwon do is about it right now. I have gone to a zumba class twice in the last month.

12.  Nothing yet.

13. Making slow progress. We do have a night planned at end of June. And we did go out during vacation (my friend was on vacation with us and stayed with the kids).

14. Not. even. one. YET.

15. Have to pull it out now that the weather is changing!

16. 1 down, 2 to go.

17. Going really well! I'm not counting the book I read out loud to Zach for bedtimes - about a classroom hamster.
18. Check. I have been journaling.

19. Check.

20. Check. The system is in place. Getting the kids to do the daily chore is a challenge but I think that's just parenting.

21. Check back at end of year.

22. Need to do this. I am now wanting to maybe combine a weekend away for myself with a visit to New Harmony, IN where there are a couple of labyrinths to walk.

23. Check.

Progress is being made. There is still 3/4 of the year to go so plenty of time to get a plan in place and make things happen. Reviewing the list helps me stay accountable, helps me feel motivated to get on track or get something started.



Monday, March 20, 2017

Dignity (Thoughts on Ableism)


I love the new comedy on ABC - Speechless. The show stars Minnie Driver as the matriarch of the DiMeo family - husband Jimmy and kids JJ, Ray, and Dylan.

The things that makes the show unique is that oldest son JJ has Cerebral Palsy. He is wheelchair bound and can't speak. The initial premise of the show is the family is moving into a new neighborhood - something they've done before as they seek out the best place for their oldest son to receive a quality education. The family is quirky and funny and most of their lives really revolve around JJ.

This past week's episode had a situation with the family in a grocery store. JJ is at the meat counter and, using his word board and laser pointer, is communicating with the store employee about his order. Then a business man in a hurry comes along, steps directly in front of JJ and then reaches back to the joystick that controls JJ's wheelchair and literally pushes him back.



A couple of weeks ago, a friend shared a meme/video thing on Facebook about a woman in a parking lot who encounters a man in a wheelchair. What we're supposed to get from the story is that we shouldn't be afraid to reach out to help someone. The end of the story is that the man is a lonely veteran, his wife had died, he was sad and this person being forceful about grocery shopping with him and buying him what he needed helped lift his spirits and should inspire us all to help others.

At the start of the story, the woman approaches him and he says he doesn't need help but she starts pushing his wheelchair toward the store anyway. He again insists that he is fine but she just knows what's best so continues to push his wheelchair and then that beautiful thing happened where he opens up about his sadness and such.



Ableism

Ableism is discrimination against disable people. Or, favorable treatment of those seen as "normally" abled.

Ableism is when you see someone and define them by their wheelchair. Or cane. Or braces. Or limp. And so on.

Ableism is when a person with different abilities is seen as less than - less capable, less of an asset, less than human.

Like deciding to push them through the grocery store, even if they have protested.

Like handling the controls on their wheelchair to put yourself ahead of them.



I am not any sort of an expert in this area. But it's something that has been popping up more and more in my life lately. From those examples given above to real life situations - hearing people use the word "retard" or hearing from a friend about the struggles of finding a bathroom that is truly accessible to the differently abled.

Can we talk about that bathroom thing for just a second? Bathrooms have had a lot of attention lately with the government sticking their noses in to where transgendered people should be allowed to urinate and defecate.

Bathrooms are something that I think we often take for granted. My biggest complaints in a bathroom are cleaniness and what type of toilet paper holder is installed. I don't have to wrestle with how heavy a door is, if the door swing towards me or away from me, the width of the stall door or the width of the stall itself. I don't have to keep a list of businesses that do the bare minimum to meet building codes vs businesses that have bathrooms that I can actually easily use.

And how about transportation?

Check this out for a little touch of insight:



You might be saying to yourself - I treat everyone the same! How would I even know if I'm being an ableist?

Here are a few links to give you some insights. Click over and see if you've ever heard yourself in them.

The Ridiculously Simply Way to Know if Something is Ableist

9 Things That Might Not Seem Ableist but Actually Are

7 Ways You Might Be Ablesit Without Knowing It

15 Common Phrases That Are Way More Ableist Than You May Realize



The month of March is Disability Awareness Month. In my state, this means:

Each March, Disability Awareness Month is celebrated throughout Indiana. And given that adults and children with disabilities represent slightly more than 19 percent of Indiana’s population, disability awareness is important for all of us. Led by the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities, the goal of Disability Awareness Month is to increase awareness and promote independence, integration and inclusion of all people with disabilities.


To promote independence, integration, and inclusion.

Meaning ramps and parking space and bathrooms that people of all abilities can use.

Meaning offering the same opportunities in schools and workplaces and places of worship and grocery stores and theatres.



Again, I'm no expert. This is just something that has been coming up time and time again over the past few months.

It isn't about treating everyone the same.

I see it as treating everyone with dignity and love.

I see your cane/wheelchair/different way you walk or talk. I see that you process the world differently. But I'm not going to treat you as "less than" or decide I can somehow help or save you because of it. That I somehow am smarter or kinder or, ahem, more able than you are to navigate the world.

But what can I do about it?

1. Educate yourself. Learn about ableism. Learn about the laws that impact disabled people. Learn about policies. Start googling and you'll find plenty of information. You don't have to be an expert. There is always room to learn more.

2. Be aware. When you walk into a restaurant or library or business or church or school, pay attention to the walkway, the entrance, the doors, the bathrooms, the seating. Try to determine if this would be an easy place to maneuver through in a wheelchair, with braces on, without sight or hearing, with sensitivities to light or sound.

3. Be an advocate. Learn about what policies and laws are in place that impact people with disabilities. And then add your voice to those who are seeking equal treatment and opportunity. Or maybe you frequent a local business and you realize that their handicap accessibility isn't really very accessible - let the owner or manager or corporate office know that you think it needs to change.

4. Be a friend. Say hello to someone that you notice is differently abled. Don't add to potential feelings of rejection or isolation by avoiding them or avoiding eye contact. Say hi. Be friendly. Maybe strike up a conversation. Make a new friend. Not because they "inspire" you or out of pity or because you think they're "adorable." But because you realize how politically savvy they are, how witty they are, how smart they are, how funny they are - all the reasons you'd make friends with any person.




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The 2017 List in March







1. This is looking both more challenging and more possible to accomplish. On the one hand, we are seeing more anxiety from the kids about being away from us right now. On the other hand, we have become friends with a family that Teagan thinks she'd be ok to spend the night with. Our original plan was to basically just trick the kids - we act like it's just date night, Christy puts them to bed and they wake up to find Christy still there! I think it will be a bit later in the year before this one happens.

2. No effort made on my part for this one. Yet.

3. Heading to Gatlinburg in a few weeks!

4. I haven't done anything specific to really deep dive but I did listen to this on NPR about Islam and recommend it for everyone - http://the1a.org/shows/2017-03-15/ask-a-muslim

5. I'm waiting for spring.

6. See #5

7. Getting there. Slowly. This final color belt is challenging.

8. Prayer and reflection - check.

9. Working on it.

10. Getting there. Also slowly. Reading Henri Nouwen's "Discernment" and getting a lot from it.

11. Not happening aside from tae kwon do. Need to move this up the priority list at some point.

12. Yoga - similar to #11.

13. Again - slacking. Need to make this happen.

14. Spring - I promise!

15. Spring and summer

16. Free hugging has been done once. I have a plan for a second time but haven't made it happen yet.

17. I am about to finish book #9 (Black Man In A White Coat) for the year. I think Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom will be next. I've had to step back from the book club just due to my schedule being too crazy right now. But we do have our first family book club meeting coming up - 3 families getting together to discuss a book we all read. Here is what I've read so far:


18. I am journaling. Even had to get a new journal. My last one lasted almost exactly 2 years. And Teagan and I have a mother-daughter journal we share.

19. This one is going very well.

20. Need to up my commitment a bit on this one. We have a system but we need to be more strict about the kids doing the assigned daily chore.

21. I think this will be one that I reflect on at the end of the year more than anything.

22. I have not done this. And I could count it as time in nature and prayer time if I'd just commit to making it happen.

23. I'm wearing it. But I need to work at using it to motivate me to get more steps. I do like tracking my sleep, too.





Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Season of Discernment

I am in a deep spiritual place.

I would like to go wander in the woods alone to simply receive and contemplate.

I attended our Ash Wednesday service at church last night and there were many things that spoke directly into my soul.

There was a "read and response" to open our time together. I've completely chopped up what was spoken. I've written it down and moved it around and mixed things up. I've taken pieces from other parts of the service and mixed it in.

Here is what it comes down to for this "season of discernment" (Lent).

For everything in me that may hide God's light

To receive this blessing, my heart must break open

What is in me that hides God's light?
A lack of reverence for truth and beauty
Going along with mean and ugly things
Arrogance that "knows it all"
Artificial living. Artificial worship.
Being pompous. Being rude.
Cynicism about others
Intolerance and Indifference
Being satisfied with the church and the world as it is
Failing to share my outrage about injustice
Selfishness, self indulgence, self pity
Token concern for those in poverty, who are alone, who want to be loved
Confusing faith with good feelings and emotional responses
Confusing love with wanting to be loved

From dust I came and to dust I will return

How are you using this season of Lent? Is there a call on your heart to draw closer to God? Are you feeling nudged to take more action? To draw within yourself?

I read an article on Vox and it ended with these words:

Lent is specifically designed to dismantle the egotistical ideas we sometimes have about ourselves, to identify the places in our lives where we’ve grown arrogant or complacent, to remember that we are going to die someday, and to repent and renew our dependence on God. Lent is meant to be uncomfortable. And it’s meant to end in gratefulness.

What in me is hiding God's light?


Friday, January 27, 2017

Taking Sides

Over the past however many years, even as I've stood up for people on the margins and called senators and shared opinions and information, I've still always maintained that there is a way to see both sides. There is a way to bridge the divide. There is a way to meet at a crossroads.

The truth is, that meant I was willing to maybe overlook or tone down someone else's racism or homophobia. In the interest of meeting them where they are and hoping to be an influencer to show them a different way.

The truth also is that I was scared to ruffle feathers or make enemies or have people not like me. And I was scared to admit that hate is very real. That racism is a thing and white privilege is a thing and violence against women is a thing and hate crimes towards gay people are very real things. I wanted nothing but love and peace and kindness.

I am seeing a lot of people trying to find that middle ground now, in the Trump era. And it's admirable. Heck, I still long for love and peace and kindness.

But I'm not there anymore. I can't just focus on those lovely things and brush aside or hide from the realities that are around me every day.

I'm too angry and fed up, I suppose. I tried to be all nice and crossroadsy before. And there are certainly days when I'm willing to be more patient than others. But there are fewer of those days.

Part of me wants to hear the "other side." But part of me is fed up with giving the other side a voice, a chance, a pulpit, a pat on the back.

I don't think it's time to bridge the divide. I think it's time to take sides. Trump isn't drawing a line in the sand - he is blowing up a canyon between people in this country. If I try to stand on both sides, I will fall in.

I'm usually very willing to see a lot of gray.

But when it comes to how we treat human life and how we value one another, it's pretty damn black and white.

I'm not saying I won't have the conversations. If people want to engage and truly learn and are ready to leap across the divide to at least visit, I'm all for it. But I'm done tip toeing around in "enemy territory." Again - been there, done that.

This also does not mean that I am cutting people out of my life or anything like that. There are people I love dearly who hold very different values than my own. I will keep loving them. And they will keep loving me. But the divide is there. And it's real. The divide changes how you perceive someone, changes how you hold them in whatever level of esteem.

And maybe this Trump divide means that some of those people who had been at the crossroads are now standing on the edge of this side of the divide - because they may not fully understand it but they can feel and see that Trump is not good for humanity. But it's going to take a lot of the crossroads people to make an impact by choosing their side.

And maybe there are people hiding on that side of the divide - that wish they could be over on this side but they don't want to cause pain or be picked on or be tossed into the divide.

Being silent is a privilege. Being silent means you are allowed to turn the other cheek and love your enemy. We like those platitudes in the Bible. We like being able to quote them and hold them up like a shield. Pointing out the rosey, sunshiney parts of our faith.

It's time to find your voice, folks. And use it. The Jesus I read about in the Bible did love people. But he loved them radically. He loved the people that others considered disposable and less than. He didn't preach that everyone should embrace the Pharisees and try to better understand archaic Jewish laws.

He taught a new way. A vastly different way.

This is about people believing they now have license to be openly hateful. Harmful. This is about homophobia and racism and sexism. How those things play out take different forms for different people. But we're at the foundation of the issues. The baseline of choosing the value of people or choosing the value of power.

Choose people or choose power.

That's it. And with that as the divide, I choose people.

Jesus chose people over power. He admonished the powerful and the rich. He healed the sick and broken and embraced those who were "less than."

So I'm taking the side of people. Specifically the people who need someone to stand up with them, for them, beside them. Black people and brown people and gay people and refugee people and immigrant people and under 18 people and female people and disabled people and non-english speaking people and poor people and....