Monday, September 24, 2012

Sometimes, I am amazed...

I have been struggling for a while now, with some decisions, as everyone does.  Sometimes, I am amazed at how seemingly random quotes read on Facebook walls are simply not random at all.  Here is what I read today, from "Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives."

The Lord looks at the inner depth of the heart, at what the heart longs for and what it desires. And if He sees that a soul cannot come home, the Lord will in His own time, cleanse it and draw it to the center and the soul will find peace. However, if in the innermost part of the heart there is something unclean, something that is attracted to this world and is bound to it, then our wandering wi
ll last a long time and we will endure much sorrow and suffering. We who are, so to speak, pious, will have more sorrow than those who are not. This is because they do not feel inner pain, they give thought not to eternity but only to things of this world: enjoyment, food, drink….Their attention is entirely focused on this, whereas ours is divided: we want to be with the Lord, yet we have not let go of material things; our heart is still attached to them and we are not free. It is for this reason that we suffer a lot.

~Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

That's me.  I have a foot in both camps, and simply cannot make a firm decision one way or the other.  Someone I know has said to me on a number of occasions, you cannot ride two horses, yet that is what I'm attempting to do, and the effort has, indeed, bruised me.  I have endured much sorrow and suffering.

Much to think and pray about in this quote.  Maybe I'll read the book.  Maybe not.  Maybe I'm not quite ready for this amount of truth.

At least not today.  Maybe next week when I'm focussed on iconography with my teacher, Ksenia, who has so much to teach me, some of which is about iconography.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Birthday Musings with the sisters of my heart

Dear Ro and Ethel,

Thanks for the Birthday greetings!  I had a great day today.  I had a couple of hours of comp time, so I went into work late, left early, and had a really long lunch.  My work friends gave me a funny card and a cupcake.  Elisabeth telephoned me to sing Happy Birthday, as did one of my goddaughters.  I had some cards in my mail the last few days which is always nice, and my friend Cindy took me to dinner the other night since she is busy tonight.  Tonight I went to dinner with a group of friends to a Mexican restaurant where I drank two giant margaritas, ate up a STORM, and had the cute waiters sing to me in heavily accented Spanglish.  They don't give you a free birthday dessert at that restaurant - they make you wear a giant black and silver sombrero and drink a shot of tequila.  When I got home, I checked my email and found your birthday wishes and some others, and a ton of birthday wishes on Facebook.  I'm a lucky woman.

I was thinking about the night I was born. When I was little, I used to pester my mother to tell me the story of when I was born, and Elisabeth did the same to me.  Mama always told the story the same way, about how happy everyone was.  But it wasn't all happiness, it was a scary night, wasn't it?  Who knew if we would live or die? Now that I'm a mother, I understand how my own mother felt, since our stories mirror each other so much.  I was a late in life, miracle baby to a mother who was never supposed to get pregnant.  I know first-hand how happy my parents were, partly because I experienced it, and partly because my father, when the Alzheimers took away any semblance of restraint, told me endlessly how happy he was to have a baby, and how it made their somewhat rocky marriage so much stronger, and how he felt when he saw me for the first time.  I also went through a period in pregnancy (and also later), when it was touch and go and could have lost Elisabeth.  I remember how that felt, and I realized that my mother must have felt those exact things the night I was born.  I know I was a caesarian birth because my mother was hemorrhaging from a placenta previa, and we both could easily have died.  I know how my father must have felt, driving down from NH, not knowing what would greet him when he made it to the hospital. 

I'm not saying this to be a downer, but instead to say, at the ripe old age of 57, I realize that there is nothing new in the world, and that everything that happens to me has happened before to someone else, oftentimes to someone that I know and love.  Those things that have brought me to my knees have been born by others.  I was thinking about that tonight - maybe it was the slight buzz I had - and I just wanted to say to you both that I love you so very much, and I respect that you are both strong women who have been my biggest cheerleaders all my life.   We are cousins, yes, and I grew up in your house and bugged the crap out of you as a kid, but the strands that bind us are more than a shared gene pool - we have all been parented by women who have been through the wringer, and we have been through the wringer ourselves, and we live to tell the tale.  We are survivors. Wow.  I'm impressed, truly.  So, before I call it a night and get in bed, I'm having a little nightcap with toast to you.  

To my beautiful big cousins!

Love you,


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Is that the sky I see?

Yep, those words came out of my mouth.  Unfortunately, I was in my backyard storage shed at the time. So, I spent part of January getting a new roof put on the shed, and getting it painted.  Then, I got another quote for the huge floor tiling job, which was simply too high, and a quote for the drywall repair and painting of the living room, which I accepted.  Now my house is covered in a fine layer of drywall dust. The painter is doing a wonderful job, but is very, very slow.  I would estimate that in four full days, he has accomplished two days' worth of work.  I told him everything must be completed by Friday evening so that I could get the house back to rights before my houseguest arrives for an overnight stay next week - that leaves two more days.  Hey, it could happen!

I guess the picture a day fell by the wayside too.  I took a few before photos of the living room and will post them soon!  February will be busy, too, I think.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

A Photo A Day - January 3, 4 and 8

January 3 - Something I adore.  No, not my beautiful male cat, Kyo, though I do adore his sweet and loving disposition.  No, this picture is of SLEEPING!  I adore sleeping!  Yes, I do!  Unfortunately, I don't do a whole lot of it, but I'd like to do more.  If you can't sleep well, then sleep often, that's my motto!  It seems to be Kyo's motto also.  Hm....

January 4 - Letterbox.  Folks, this isn't just any old letterbox.  This is a primo letterbox which was a gift from two of the nicest people in the world, my dear, dear friends, Billy and Melvin.  My letter box was tilting like the Tower of Pisa after someone who shall remain nameless backed her car into it.  Every day, it tilted a little more, but that unknown person ignored it until it was ready to topple over completely.  One evening after work, she noticed that there was a brand spanking new mailbox!  Which is why Billy and Melvin are the BEST.  If you don't believe me, you can look at my Facebook photo album entitled, "Why Billy and Melvin are the BEST."  No joke.

January 8 - My sky.  I just shot the waning sun through the trees on my front lawn.  Although I complain about the mountains of leaves to rake from my many, many trees, and threaten to cut every tree down from time to time, I really do love my pine and live oaks and magnolia and walnuts.  They are so beautiful, especially against the sky.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A Photo A Day - January 2 and 7

January 2 - Breakfast.  This is my actual breakfast today, January 7th: Puffed rice, almond milk and coffee.  Usually I include a banana when I have cereal, but alas, no bananas in the house today!

January 7 - Favorite.  FAVORITE?  You want me to choose JUST ONE?????  AYEEEEEEE!  As I have said many times, a lipstick obsession is much more reasonable, cheaper, and smaller than a shoe obsession.  My mother's girlfriend, Jess Davis used to say, you are never really dressed without lipstick.  Words to live by, my friends.  Words to live by!  If I absolutely HAD to choose a favorite, though, I think it would be MAC's Plumfill.  Maybe.  I don't know how many lipsticks I currently own - you count 'em.  I'm too busy deciding which one I will wear today!

PS:  Here's a hint or two -- this is a 10" dinner plate, and in the center of the plate, the lipsticks are three deep.  Just sayin'...  I think there are few in my car that are not pictured, and I didn't check the pockets of all my skirts and pants, and there are a few in my desk at work..  Look closely and you will note lipsticks of all price points and manufacturers.  The most expensive one I ever bought was Lancome's Fetish because I tried it in a makeover with a friend, and I simply had to have it - it was like rose SILK! - and the cheapest being the 99 cent ones at CVS.  I love them both and everything in between, but my favorite manufacturer is MAC because they glide silkily and smell like vanilla.  YUM!

Friday, January 06, 2012

A Photo A Day - January 1 and 6

January 1: A photo of me

January 6: Something that makes me smile

I just love Christmas trees!  I don't really care about all the other types of Christmas decorations; for me, it's all about the Christmas tree.  I want the biggest tree that will fit, and I want it loaded with lights - so many that I cause a neighborhood brown out every time I turn them on - and I want the boughs positively groaning with so many ornaments. This is a picture of the tree in my office at work, it's only 2 feet tall, but it has two sets of lights and about 4 dozen ornaments on it!  Christmas trees make me smile.  Today is Theophany, and I will be taking down my tree here at the office and at home, so it's nice to have a picture to remember!

A Photo A Day

I'm coming to this six days late (what else is new?), but I'd like to try the photo a day for January.  I saw it on Jen Woodhouse's blog; it seems like fun, and it will help me to get back in the swing of blogging more often.  It may take me a day or two to catch up.  Here it is:

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Wednesday Words

Couple of things stand out to me today.  The first is from an article about Stephen Colbert, one of my absolute favorites.  He is brilliant and hilarious all at the same time.  While talking about his father and two brothers deaths when he was ten, he spoke of how his mother kept him from becoming bitter:

"She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that's directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us.  What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not not pain -- it's that the pain is actually a gift.  What's the option?  God doesn't really give you another choice."

What most people don't know about Stephen Colbert is that he is a devout Roman Catholic who truly practices his faith.  How profound a thought: God's deliverance is not from pain, but that you will come to understand the salvific properties of pain which make it a gift.  Gotta think on this some more, but deep inside, I simply know this to be true.

The other thing I read this morning that touched me is this, from Made to Crave: "You were made for more!  More than failure... more than this cycle of defeat... more than being ruled by taste buds, body image, rationalizations, guilt, and shame.  You were made for victory."  Wow.  God never intended me to be a slave to my passions, of which food is only one.  God intended me to share in His victory over sin and the results of sin which is death.  God intended me to become more like Him, to share in His beauty which is victorious over all.  As long as I get out of the way, that is.  More food for thought.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


I've been on Weight Watchers for about 11 or 12 weeks now, and am doing ok with it. I am in this for the long haul, and the goal for me is health rather than weight loss.  So, I faithfully record every point I eat and attempt to practice portion control.  Altogether, I've lost nearly 20 lbs (it was 20, but I did gain a couple of pounds over the holidays).

However, I am coming to understand that overeating, self-medicating with food, is not only a physical issue.  It is an emotional issue, speaking to my mental and emotional health.  Most importantly, it is a spiritual issue, because everything has a spiritual component.  Here is the scenario as I am coming to understand it:

Little Denise is afraid that her mother will die, so she eats.  Her grandmother, aunties, mother and cousins all believe that the best way to show love is to shovel more and more food into little Denise, and little Denise happily complies, setting the stage for self-medicating with food.  When bad things happen in Denise's life, and lots of bad things happen, she is strong on the outside, but inside, she is still that little girl, and she turns to food to get her through the bad times.  When good things happen in Denise's life, and lots of good things happen, she celebrates with food, because food is the source of good feelings.  Over time, Denise goes from being athletic to couch potato, from muscular to fat. This makes Denise feel bad, so.... she eats to feel better.

My question to myself is this:  Where is God in all this?  I turn to food to assuage my sorrows, when God is right there, holding His hand to me.  I refuse to grasp onto Him because my hands are full of chocolate and macaroni and other nummy goodies.  I rely on food more than I rely on God.  I think I must love food more than I love God - that's what my actions say.  Inside my heart of hearts, I think to myself, no no no - I love God!  I crave Him!  There is a hole in me that is God-shaped, and all the food in the world cannot fill that space that was meant for God.   Yet, I keep trying to fill that space with all sorts of things - food mostly - but all sorts of other things, too.

This process of getting healthy is about so much more than weight and food.  It's about God, too, and surrendering this life-long crutch of food to rely instead on Him.


I'm so weak, though.  The scriptures talk about finding strength in weakness.  May I find that too.

Goodbye 2011 Meme

  1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?  Hm... can't think of anything.
  2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?  Kinda sorta.  I did get more serious about my spiritual life, and I did continue decluttering.  These are my goals again for this year, along with becoming more fit.
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Nope
  4. Did anyone close to you die?  For the first time in a long time, I can say no, no one I love died.  May it be so for 2012 as well.
  5. What countries did you visit?  The depths of despair and depression, but otherwise, I stayed home in the USA
  6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?  More health and fitness, more free time to paint and knit, more time with dear daughter and son-in-law.  Oh yes, a significant other would be nice.
  7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory?  March 27 and 29, and April 1.
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?  Forgiving my daughter.
  9. What was your biggest failure?  Not forgiving another person who used to be very close to me.  Still working on that.
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury?  Um.... yes.  
  11. What was the best thing you bought?  My wonderful droid phone, the HTC EVO Shift!  How I love it!
  12. Where did most of your money go?  Money?  What's that?  Providing a home, utilities, food, insurance, transportation and medical care for myself, one little dog and four cats.
  13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?  I guess this means excited in a good way, right? Hard to think of anything that I got excited about in a good way, other than my DROID PHONE.
  14. What song/album will always remind you of 2011?  Nebo E Zemla.  Go fig.
  15. What do you wish you’d done more of?  Praying.  Knitting. Walking. Sleeping.
  16. What do you wish you’d done less of?  Stressing about things and people I can do nothing about.  Worrying about a child that has to make her own way in the world.
  17. How will you be spending/did you spend Christmas?  Christmas Eve at my church, and Christmas Day with dear daughter and son-in-law at their adorable apartment for a fantastic meal and presents
  18. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?  It would be a toss up between dear daughter and Xenia - texting.  Actual phone conversations, that would be my beautiful cousins Roseanne and Ethel.
  19. Did you fall in love in 2011?  Not with a person, but with my DROID!  How I love you, Droid!
  20. How many one night stands in this last year?  None.  I don’t do one night stands.  
  21. What was your favorite TV program?  Doc Martin. House. Royal Pains. Grey's Anatomy.  Do we see a pattern here?
  22. What was the best book(s) you read?  Letters to a Beginner - its one of my most favorite books and I read it nearly every year.  Other than that, The Way of the Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way which I hadn't read in a long, long time.
  23. What were your favorite films of this year?  The Help was the absolute best!
  24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?  My birthday is on September 14th and I turned 56.  I spent it studying iconography with the master iconographer, Xenia Pokrovskaya.  They sang Many Years to me at lunch, which was sweet.
  25. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?  Dear daughter not eloping.  That was horrible, but not as horrible as the way I found out about it.  Having someone I trusted not betray my trust. I'm still not 100% over these two things, but I'm doing my best.  Otherwise, more money.  More free time to paint and knit.   Having a special someone to share it with.
  26. What kept you sane?  My dear friend and sister of my heart, Xenia.  Knitting.  Prayer.
  27. What political issue stirred you the most?  The polarization between the far right and far left.  There is no one in Washington that represents my best interest.
  28. Who did you miss?  My mother.  She was the only one that never betrayed my trust.  How I miss you, Mom.  But its not forever.  We'll be together again. 
  29. Who was the best new person you met?  Not a new person, but I've spent more time at St. Martha Mary Monastery, and am forging stronger relationships with the nuns there.  That has been the best.
  30. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.   Be careful where you place your trust.