Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sunday Freewrite

Fifteen minutes and counting!

I love freewrites, but I have not been very good at them lately. My life is FULL and FULFILLING! When I told George that I would not be teaching at OSU this fall and wondered what I would do, he said, "I have no doubt that you will figure out what to do with your time, Carol." 

And he would be right. :) Well, one thing is that my spiritual direction (companionship really) ministry has really taken off, and I LOVE IT! I meet with 18 people regularly, either once or twice a month (the ones going through the Exercises meet twice and a couple of others who want to meet twice who are doing regular spiritual direction). I have 1-2 meetings a day, and that is about all I can handle as I spend time in prayer before and after. I LOVE IT (of dear, I already said that) because it really more like being in prayer the whole time as I listen to God and listen to people at the same time. So, because I am not teaching Pilates, I have had more time to devote to this budding ministry (www.bodyandsoulcompanion.com).

Well, when I say "not teaching Pilates," it was an illusion because I found out that the paperwork was not filed in time. So, I owe my boss 30 hours of work (my time had been reduced from 60 hours for the term to 30 hours with the lower enrollment, but then they decided to cancel the class all together and put my students in with the other Pilates classes that were not filled), but the paperwork didn't get filed. So, I found out in November, after half the term was over that I need to make a bunch of videos. I could not start until this week because of the healing of my bottom biopsy for melanoma. It was good that I did not have this hanging over my head while I was adding more and more directees. Now I am sailing with all of them (I think I am at max capacity now), and I made my first two videos over the Thanksgiving extended weekend, and I had SO MUCH FUN! I think I have missed teaching. These videos will be for the faculty and staff, but I will use them for my students in the future too, and I will be able to add them to my www.bodyandsoulcompanion.com collection. Eventually, I want to add Prayer and Praise Pilates videos, but these are the basic building block Pilates videos that people need to learn before they can go on with the routines. So it is all good.

All that said, I feel like the extra time I had also helped me to devote more time to the care of my own body. When I get busy with setting up my classes in the fall, it is more stressful and I tend to not do as much cardio (Pilates burns about 120 calories an hour, and walking burns about 400 per hour). So I can sometimes pack on the pounds during the fall. Then I head into Christmas and add a little more. It is my typical pattern. This fall, I definitely got the word to focus on my eating, and I lost 10% of my body weight. I was only "technically" 4 lbs overweight for my height, but I got down to where I am most comfortable. So I head into the holidays with a balance between body and soul! (Practicing what I preach).

I continue to love doing Centering Prayer with Mercy Center, Burlingame every Sunday and Thursday. In fact, I just finished with them before this freewrite. I seem to do much better with accountability. 

I am looking forward to doing a six-day Advent Retreat with the Ignatian Spirituality Center starting tomorrow night. I cleared my whole schedule (one thing that I could not clear was moved to a week later - that was cool to see God clear the way). I will meet with a director for 30 minutes each day during the retreat. That will also be very nice. 

Well, I thought it was about 15 minutes, and I looked at the timer, and I had 30 seconds which just ended right now. 

66. Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening

 

Centering Prayer and Inner AwakeningCentering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been growing (and benefitting from) more extended times of Centering Prayer for over two years now. Since June, I have been part of a Zoom group from California that meets twice a week (
Centering Prayer - Mercy Center Burlingame (mercy-center.org). I love the accountability, and we have been discussing Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel every other week. I think that book is a better introduction to Centering Prayer than this one. It is more practical with the "how-tos."  This one is much more into the theological and psychological implications. 

One of the leaders of my California group read from Bourgeault's book. So I read it. It expanded upon some things that I was wondering about when I read Open Mind, Open Heart, but it also got into all this other stuff in the middle of the book that wasn't what I was looking for (it was interesting but a bit too heady).

The end of the book had a thorough explanation of Welcoming Prayer which was just touched on in a CD lecture series I listened to on Centering Prayer. The CDs did not include the speaker's handouts. So I was a bit lost on the Welcoming Prayer part. This book had a detailed diagram about it, and I found that super helpful. So, this helped me like the book by the end.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Freewrite Fifteen

Here I go! I have not had a Freewrite for many, many days. I have been fairly full in my days, but today is a day for personal enrichment! 

I have no spiritual direction appointments. I was possibly going to have one with someone passing through, but it turned out that we had Valentina and Pieter here the whole time, and I thought it was going to be raining so we would have been inside with vacuum cleaners going. As it was, I had a very nice visit with them as they cleaned, and I had a pick me up as she commented on how well I have done at keeping my weight down! That was timely as I had gotten on the scale, and I have still kept my 10% weight off (from the gain during my Tibial Plateau Fracture), but it was at the very edge of that 10%, and I like to be about 5 pounds below that. So it was good to have the encouragement to KEEP IT OFF! 

With that said, I want to give a shout out to the new Weight Watchers. I had never officially done it before. I had gotten a book many years ago, and it was sort of a hassle. Now they have a great app, and you don't have to keep track of every single thing because there is a wide variety of Zero-point foods, and it psychologically does something to you to go for those foods instead of the really high point foods like ice cream and chocolate! I love how easy it is, and I love all the incentives and now they even have exercise videos built into the app! I think I will stick with them for another six months for maintenance. I think their maintenance is pretty cool because, at first, I thought, why didn't they give me more points to play with now that I have reached my goal? It seems like they didn't give me more points until a few weeks after my goal was reached (maybe four, but I am not sure). So maybe they want you to ease into it by giving you more points to play with as you prove you are keeping it off? I will have to read more deeply into all of this. 

I also made a good decision because I had switched from the blue plan to the green plan, and I just was not losing on the green plan. So I went back to the blue. It is fewer points, but they make lean protein options as Zero point foods. Anywho, it has been good. 

OH also, my back has not had tight problems (a precursor to there being a shift in my SI joint). The only thing I have been doing differently for the last 35 days is SQUATS. I do 50 squats a day in the morning, and I hear all these creaks. I think it "uncorks" me for the day. I am not sure. I told Dr. Myers that I want to break my record of 43 days. Actually, my real record was when I was teaching six Pilates classes a week (as opposed to only four). I think I went five months without seeing him then. 


Speaking of Pilates, I am going to make 20 hours of video content for the Faculty Staff Fitness because my boss did not submit the paperwork that said I have furloughed this term. I am looking forward to it, and it will be nice to have the video content for my Body and Soul Companion site. So it will be a win-win. I could not start doing it immediately because I had a melanoma biopsy on my bottom, and I had to wait to do Pilates until I got the stitches out after two weeks. I could not do the three rolling exercises with the stitches in. By the way, the biopsy came back benign.  I am happy about that.

I will start recording videos either today or tomorrow, and I have until December 31st to finish them.

Next week, I am doing a five day Advent Retreat. It is an "at-home" one, and they were not at all clear on their website about how we should go about doing this. So, I had four spiritual direction appointments, and when I called about something else, the lady was taken aback that I would have appointments. So, I called the director to find out if this was the case. I have no problem moving them, I was just seeking more information, and the director was so cold and "pithy." It left a negative impression in my mind of this group that I do not know much about. I have taken risks by joining groups "cold turkey" this quarantine season, and it has turned out great (thinking of the lovely people at Mercy Center, Burlingame, Albany CP group), but it made me wonder if I should do this retreat at all! I am still praying about this because I just did not get a good impression from either of the two ladies I talked to on the phone. I didn't understand why there was such coldness. So, still praying about it. If I do not do it, I will just have an Advent Retreat on my own since I moved all the appointments (except the one with the team I joined and have been waiting for for years - I cannot miss that one - no way). So we will see. 


I am going to IMAGINE today at noon. Then Teala is coming to visit. So it is a great enrichment Wednesday! 

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

65. Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer

 

Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as PrayerOpening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer by David G. Benner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this explanation of Lectio Divina. It gives the big picture of WHY you would do this. It is an ancient practice that has more recently become much more popular.

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

64. The Man Who Was Thursday

 

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (Illustrated)The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally, I read something by Chesterton! This had me engaged. I cannot say I fully understood its meaning though.

Quotes:
“Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front--”

“The Iliad is only great because all life is a battle, The Odyssey because all life is a journey, The Book of Job because all life is a riddle.”


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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

63. Travels with Charley

 

Travels with Charley: In Search of AmericaTravels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was enthralled. Gary Senise's narration is the best! It gave me a slice of life across America in September of 1960 (when I was the ripe old age of one year). It is humorous, but it is also quite poignant, especially when he witnessed first hand the "cheerleaders" of New Orleans who were gathered every day to ridicule little black girls who were attending an integrated grammar school. In light of where we find ourselves today, it was especially heartbreaking to read this.

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62. The Stars My Destination

 

The Stars My DestinationThe Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not a huge science fiction fan, but I liked this book. It is about revenge and loosely follows The Count of Monte Christo story that I loved so much when I read it over 15 years ago. The narrator in this audio version was excellent.

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61. The Library Book

 

The Library BookThe Library Book by Susan Orlean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an absolutely, positively, fascinating book. The story thread throughout the book is the arson fire in 1986 of the downtown Los Angeles Library (https://www.latimes.com/books/la-ca-j... ) but is so much more. This author goes through the history of libraries in general and the LA one in particular. It also goes into issues the library faces today. I really, really loved this book. Highly recommended for anyone who loves the library!

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60. Under the Wide and Starry Sky

 

Under the Wide and Starry SkyUnder the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew nothing about Robert Louis Stevenson's life and love. It was fascinating. It is slow-moving at the beginning, but I stuck with it, and I am glad I did! It is a work of historical fiction from the perspective of Stevenson and his wife, Fanny. 

My heart and mind went immediately to the copy of A Child's Garden of Verses by Stevenson that my grandmother gave to my father on his 5th birthday in 1923. It is one of my treasured books, illustrated so beautifully. I went to a memory of me memorizing his poem "Block City" and acting it out at the end of my bed. So fun to have the context to his writing. I realized I have read three of his novels: Kidnapped, Treasure Island, and Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde.

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Thursday, November 12, 2020

59. Remains of the Day

 

The Remains of the DayThe Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a dear book. I loved it so much. I loved the movie too. It is such a delightful read. Especially since I am doing the same journey he took in the book on my virtual mission up the length of Great Britain. 

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58. Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman

 

This book, written in the 40s, is supposed to have greatly influenced Martin Luther King and his philosophy of peaceful civil rights protest. 

It is refreshing to read something from a person who actually has experienced racial injustice rather than a white person pontificating about it. 

It is a gentle treatise. I look forward to getting the study helps from Renovare Book Club in the coming weeks. I am sure it will add to my comprehension of this book. 

56-57. Red Moon Rising and Dirty Glory by Pete Greig



I loved Pete's book How to Pray. I had never heard of the guy, but I have prayed in a 24-7 prayer room since 2009, but I didn't know it was part of Pete's group. When I held How to Pray up on the Zoom screen to one of my directees and also one of the leaders of the prayer, she said, "You're kidding right?" HAHAHAHA. I honestly did not know. Never heard of the guy. I just love to pray, but I don't always follow the latest and greatest leaders. 

I do love how he communicates, and How to Pray got a two thumbs up with our local Renovare Book Club. So, I thought I would read more of the history of the 24-7 movement.

I LOVE first-person memoirs, and Pete is a master storyteller, drawing you in with his wonderful and winsome style. So I ate each book up over the weekend while, at the same time, watching their Online Gathering20. So fun. 

I have been part of prayer movements over the last 30 years, and I think this one is legit and solid and balanced. 

If you love prayer and movement and humor. These books are for you. 

55. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

This is a satirical novel. So, it was not exactly my cup of tea, but I followed it well. I particularly found the introduction with the author's background to be telling. He wrote out of what he knew: a life of quiet desperation. Sort of sad life, really. This book is considered a classic and on the 1000 Books List. So, I dove in. It does have some funny parts.

Here is how Goodreads summarizes it: 

Although Kingsley Amis's acid satire of postwar British academic life has lost some of its bite in the decades since it was published, it's still a rewarding read. There's no denying how big an impact it had back then. Lucky Jim could be considered the first shot in the Oxbridge salvo that brought us Beyond the FringeThat Was the Week That Was, and so much more.


In Lucky Jim, Amis introduces us to Jim Dixon, a junior lecturer at a British college who spends his days fending off the legions of malevolent twits that populate the school. His job is in constant danger, often for good reason. Lucky Jim hits the heights whenever Dixon tries to keep a preposterous situation from spinning out of control, which is every three pages or so. The final example of this, a lecture spewed by a hideously pickled Dixon, is a chapter's worth of comic nirvana.

The book is not politically correct (Amis wasn't either), but take it for what it is, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Wednesday Freewrite

 

"Carol, I am so proud of you. What growth I have seen in you in the last three years. I think it is time to launch your own ship.

I love my spiritual director. She just cuts to the chase. 

I was viciously attacked yesterday by someone with whom I have had maybe one or two in-person conversations that were very pleasant. I communicated with this person in writing when I was asked to give a written evaluation of the program this person leads, and it was glowing. I loved what this person is leading.

So my interactions with this person were only positive until I, on the suggestion of someone in this person's program, asked about maybe joining this person's group because I love the program and love the community of people passionate about the same things I am passionate about. The person's reply was curt, but I went on my merry way for several months until it came to the surface in a prayer time as I was processing what I talked about in yesterday's freewrite. So I emailed about my uncomfortableness with this person's response to me, and the person said "I think I misunderstood what you were asking" and suggested a phone conversation. I assumed the person wanted to know what I meant by the question I initially asked.

So I thought it was going to be an innocuous conversation. This person would tell me what they thought I was asking, and I would clarify what I meant (which was that I love the program and would love to be a part of it and didn't think it was possible until one of this person's leaders suggested that might be a possibility).

How naive I was.

Instead, it started with a "Let's get straight to the point" monologue where the person laid some pretty heavy accusations against me based on my request to be part of this person's group. I was shocked. I really thought it was going to a "clarifying conversation." I listened for a while. Then I tried in vain to clarify the background behind my question. "I love what you are doing. I would love to be a part of it and be around other people who are passionate about it." I said I would not have thought it possible until another person suggested it.  The leader got livid and said, "He said what?!" I tried to defend the other leader. I got the other leader in trouble. OH NO! Then that person on the phone got angrier and attacked my character and making assumptions about me when that person does not even know me. I tried to clarify that I think this person's program is great. I never thought it was possible to be part of it, but it was suggested, and I thought how mutually beneficial it would be to learn from them, and I felt like I would be a great part of the team. (That made the person really sling an arrow of attack - how dare I have the confidence to think I could contribute to the group.) It went really bad, and this person was really angry no matter what I said. 

The person was going into another monologue because that person has learned to be "totally blunt," but I politely said that I think it would be better not to "be totally blunt" anymore because it was hurtful. I appealed to the person's compassion (because they were really starting to scare me - my picture was a pitbull attack), So I politely ended the phone call. I kept calm and did not attack back. WOW. Shocking turn. I really thought when that person said they misunderstood what I was asking that it would just be a clarification.

 I understand why I cannot be in the group now. It is a long process, and they are under restrictions from the people who are over them. But I didn't understand why my asking about being a part of it would be so offensive to this person, and that person felt the need to attack me. I really would not have asked had I not been encouraged by one of the leaders. DEAR ME!

I immediately thought I need to assess whether what this person said about me is true. What this person said was really brutal (and I don't really know the person), and I have such a hard time since this goes against the principles the group teaches. 

But I want to be teachable. It is either a "True Negative," and I will seek to grow from the experience, or it is "False Negative," and I will discard it (let it slide off like Teflon). 

I assess by the responses of the truth-tellers in my life who know me well. Of course, the best one is God. I did some listening prayer about the situation, and that was excellent. He continued to speak to me this morning! The human ones are:

1) My husband - "Do you think that person might be projecting? That is not you. Can I take you out to lunch?" (He took me to my favorite restaurant and bought me ice cream - what a guy.) 

2) My best friend - "Well, they obviously don't know you well. Could this be a dart from the enemy because it is Election Day? Praying the arrow bounces off.

3) Spiritual Director - What I said at the start of this freewrite,  "Carol, I am so proud of you. What growth I have seen in you in the last three years. That person was bullying you, and you disengaged." Later she said, "You are more than qualified. This confirms this person's group is not a good fit, and I think it is time to launch your own ship."  Then, we explored the pattern of me allowing the entry of bullies into my life, my continued desire to want to connect with people that borders on compulsion, and me thinking I am not competent yet or I might be missing something and need more and more training. 

By the end of my conversation with my director, the arrows had bounced off, but I know our brains are "Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good." So I will apply the HEAL principle to this situation in my Examen Prayer time. (I also took a long walk in Peavy Arboretum the next day and soaked in the experience of God's presence but linked it to this bad experience like the book Hardwiring Happiness suggests. I kept hearing God say, "Launch your own ship.")

 I think I am going to be OK. I should also say that everything around this conversation before and after was so life-giving for me. I was affirmed again and again by people whom I love and love me. I was also affirmed in my gifts and calling from an unplanned direction session with one of my directees who assumed we were meeting (even though we had not scheduled it). 

God is so good! YAY HIM! 

FOLLOW UP: 

I went to the Northumbrian Community Daily Prayer. I have it in a book. So part of it was to see if they were the same. They were not. I went on to pray about the above situation asking God, "Is your word for me to 'launch my own ship' as my director said to me?" This was the poem for meditation:

Today’s Meditation

Many a ship has sailed from port to port
with no interference from Me,
because Strong Will has been at the wheel.
Multitudes of pleasure cruises
go merrily on their ways,
untouched by the power of My hand.

But you have put your life into My keeping,
and because you are
depending on Me for guidance and direction,
I shall give it.

Move on steadily,
and know that the waters that carry you
are the waters of My love and My kindness,
and I will keep you on the right course.

Frances J. Roberts

From: https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/

It turns out this is from a book called Come Away, My Beloved! This is a book I devoured in my 20s! Since this, God has confirmed more and more that I need to "launch my own ship." I have no idea what that will mean, but he will carry me in the waters of His love and His kindness and keep me on the right course! 

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Tuesday Freewrite

 I am going to enter into my first Centering Prayer time after this fifteen-minute freewrite. I have been somewhat restless all morning. I got an email on Saturday that has unsettled me ever since, and I think a freewrite might help.

I am applying to be part of this thing. I won't go into detail about it because I don't want there to be any connection to the people involved. I applied, and the person picked apart my application. The person sort of parsed my words to where I was like, "What? Do you really want to be that picky about this?" My first thought was, "Oh my, this person must be stressed or something because this seems sort of ridiculous to take apart this." (especially since the "word" I used in my application is the same word they use in their advertisement for the group.) I wrote back and said, "I get it. What you said it is in your clarification is exactly what I thought it was." 

But it has bugged me ever since! It just smacks to me of exclusivity. So it made me think of another situation of exclusivity and another and another until I cried out to God this morning as I was watching the sunrise on the schoolyard. YIKES. 

So I feel like I have been spinning my wheels. I feel like this has not been good for me. It makes me wish I had never gone down that road of rejection once again. 

SIGH! 

Yet everything else in my life is so peachy-keen. Really and truly. I don't need this group. It just lined up with my values to the letter. Yet, I don't value exclusivity. I just like being part of something bigger than myself. I love being inspired by the journeys of other people. I have loved the books I am reading. I love being "in it" with others (even from a distance - which I always knew that is what it would be). Perhaps I like that too much as I do have a "compulsion for connection." 

On another note, doors that I have prayed to open up for 26 years seem to be opening. I have reconnected with someone I have not seen in 2 1/2 years, connected by the Spirit's nudge to send encouragement to someone doing the Spiritual Exercises who mentioned my name to another person, not knowing that that person knew me from a group we were a part of. I said, "OH yeah! He has the same heart too." So we talked last Friday, and it was so good. Same heart. We don't know how God is going to accomplish this whole thing, but I have an ally in this 26-year dream! Then I got this discouraging email less than 24 hours later.

Hmm... something is fishy here. I am going to go and pray against the enemy of our souls! I knew writing this out would cause me to connect the dots.

Even with the discouraging email, God sent me a message and gave me the name of someone else in the group that I did not know was in the group. That was a neat thing. So, it makes me think I am to persevere in it all. He is not exclusive AT ALL. I am just waiting for whatever comes my way. Writing always helps me clarify. 

So the enemy can go and take a hike! 

Old Herbaceous

This was a sweet story about a gardener in England from the time he was a boy to an old man. It made me cry it was so short and sweet.  Here...