pegkerr: (Default)
Week 17: Biopsy
After the second of two biopsies, Rob hovers at the brink of awakening.

Week 17 Biopsy

I took a picture of Rob right right before he awoke from the anesthesia, after a double bone marrow biopsy. Something about his posture, the angle of his face, the lighting (and the suffering of which he never complains)...something made me think of religious iconography. (Which would certainly bemuse Rob, as he is an agnostic.) A saint in a religious trance or something. Religious ecstacy.

That impression and that word, 'ecstacy' triggered a memory of an image I'd had stashed in my soulcollaging cache of images, "The Ecstasy of St. Teresa," a central sculptural group in white marble set in an elevated aedicule in the Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome (google it to see). I flipped that image and scaled Rob's down to fit in with it. Note the angel holds an arrow, indicative of the sharp point just used to do the biopsy. It pleases me that the arrow is pointed at the site of the cancer.

Week 18: Yule
Light a candle, sing a song.

Week 18 Yule

There is a Peter Mayer song about the winter solstice called "The Longest Night." Here are the lyrics )

I've always loved that song, especially given that I'm vulnerable to Seasonal Affective Disorder. This card is trying to juxtapose the thoughts of this song with Christmas (the wreath) and Solstice (the diamond candle), which fell during the same week. "Yule" is a concept that would encompass both of them.

Although I like the concept, the card just didn't turn out to have as much impact as I'd hoped. Just not vivid enough or something.

Week 19: Hogmanay
The year comes to an end.

Week 19 Hogmanay

THIS card, on the other hand, turned out SPLENDIDLY. I had a great deal of difficulty, however, managing a decent scan of the card, because it is difficult for scans to capture the way it glitters. It's much more scintillatingly impressive when you hold it in your hand than I can convey here. "Hogmanay" is an old Scottish word referring to New Year's Eve (and I resorted to it because I'm limiting the titles of these cards to one word, and "Newyear' just didn't look right to me). The monks are a reference to the poem I wrote and posted earlier about our trip to Mayo Clinic the day before New Year's Eve, and the silver light and the glittering spindrift was made from nail polish. The very same nail polish, as a matter of fact, that I used in my New Year's Eve manicure. I think they captured the sense of the 'icy spindrift' (and the cones of silver light) extremely well!

And the Chinese fortune was from the fortune cookie I opened on New Year's Eve. My family has been gathering together and eating Chinese every single New Year's Eve for years. Perhaps this fortune was a wry commentary on the job hunting process.
pegkerr: (candle)
I follow the blog Letters of Note which posts every day a letter from someone in history, some famous and some not. I'm catching up a bit; a few days ago an extraordinarily beautiful letter by Henry James was the one chosen. About this letter, the editor of the site writes:
In July of 1883, the novelist Henry James received an emotional letter from Grace Norton — a good friend and fellow writer who, following a death in the family, had recently become depressed and was desperate for direction. James's beautiful response can be seen below. It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest letters of advice I've ever had the fortune to read.
(Source: Henry James: Selected Letters)
131 Mount Vernon St.,
Boston

July 28th

My dear Grace,

Before the sufferings of others I am always utterly powerless, and the letter you gave me reveals such depths of suffering that I hardly know what to say to you. This indeed is not my last word—but it must be my first. Read the rest of the letter here.
The editor's right. This is an extraordinarily beautiful and wise response to suicidal despair.

Thanks, Henry James.
pegkerr: (Default)
As I've mentioned before, I've really detected a lifting of my years-long chronic depression. I talked with my psychiatrist at my last med check about this, last October. Could I decrease my medication? He suggested that since I'm prone to seasonal affective disorder, I wait until the light starts increasing.

This seemed reasonable to me. Despite a lot of stress that Elinor Dashwood is not talking about publicly, my mood continued to be, well, not exactly burbly/cheerful. But neutral. Even good.

Wow. Is this what most people feel like all the time?

Now I've started to decrease the antidepressant. Interestingly, once Rob noticed I wasn't putting as many pills in my daily pill box, I started getting tremendous pushback. He did not approve. At all. "Why do you want to lower your medication? You tried to lower it once before and it didn't go well. You were told you'd probably be on it for the rest of your life. This is a big mistake." etc, etc.

Never mind that I consulted my doctor and I'm following his advice. Never mind that I'm not experiencing any ill effects so far from the lower dose.

After one too many carping comments about it, I finally hit back.

"I am following my doctor's advice. I have made my decision and I want you to respect that. But more than that, I have the right to imagine my life as good and to live it without depression."

That shut him up. We'll see if that will end the subject.

I certainly hope so.
pegkerr: (candle)
The light fixture over our dining room has been giving us trouble for months. We'd flip the switch and the lights would flash on and then off. We replaced the bulbs, and even brand new bulbs would do this. If we flipped the switch several times, eventually they'd come on and stay on.

The light fixture has five bulbs in it. Over the past few months, the number of bulbs that would come on even after repeated flicking of the switch dropped from four to three to two. Finally, last week, there were mornings when it refused to turn on entirely.

It's December. In Minnesota. I cannot read my newspaper in the dark. Enough was enough.

We know the wiring in our house is very old and problematic, but we've never had enough money to deal with it. We still don't have the money to deal with it, but this was ridiculous. So I called around to the neighbors to ask for a reference for an electrician, and one of them suggested that I call our neighbor across the alley. "He just had a bunch of remodeling done."

When I called John, he offered instead to stop by at my house to look at the fixture himself. He had a tool that would check for wiring problems. This was surprising, but highly gratifying, and of course I said yes. When he stopped by tonight and used his handy gizmo, he quickly determined that yes, power was getting to the switch, and going through the wires coming from the ceiling. He squinted up at the light and said diffidently, "Do you by any chance have any incandescent light bulbs?"

I blinked, surprised. We had been using compact fluorescent lights. I found a couple in the closet, so I took them out, swapped out the bulbs, and voila. Let there be light!

Huzzah. I don't have to pay for an electrician to come to redo the wiring in my dining room. Don't you love it when you're worrying about a big repair bill that instead turns out to be an easy fix?

Thanks, John!
pegkerr: (The beauty of it smote his heart)
But it's just as good a few days later. This is one of my favorite singers in the world, Peter Mayer, who has ALL SORTS of songs about light in dark places. Here is a bittersweet, lovely song about Jack O'Lanterns. And about seizing the day. A wonderful message, and really worth a listen.


pegkerr: (Default)
This was sort of impulsive, but...

I just submitted a proposal to the Imagine Better contest presented by the Harry Potter Alliance and Splashlife, suggesting that they award a $1000 grant to A Liter of Light to promote solar bottle lights.

I suggested calling it the Patronus Light Project, as the lights have always reminded me of a patronus. And hey, I like the idea of bringing light to dark places.

The solar lights cost $3.50 to make and install, so if it wins, that'd be 285 lights installed in homes in the Phillipines. Their goal is to install a million lights by 2012.




What I did today to make the world a better place )
pegkerr: (candle)
I screwed up a couple days ago and posted an entry publicly that should have been locked to a very few. If you saw it for the few minutes it was up (until someone kindly alerted me to fix it), you know that our family is going through a tough time. A very, very tough time.

We are getting help. Fortunately. Because OMG we need it. Badly. It's a little hard to know what to say, other than this. Sometimes families go through crisises, and they can let other people know so that their friends can rally around with love and prayers and covered casserole dishes. Sometimes, due to individual privacy preferences, things are kept more undercover. Icebergs under the surface, Elinor Dashwood and all that.

We are still getting casseroles, fortunately. But I just wanted to put out this vaguer, more general message, too. We could really use your good thoughts, your prayers and a lit candle or two. Think of us, please, as we go through this.
pegkerr: (Default)
The girls are back home (yay!), and we're back from Minicon weekend.

Rob has been quite busy all week with this temporary census job. It has prevented him from putting any work in on the room rearrangement project--and since it's to a large extent his stuff that's the bottleneck, I was stymied from doing it myself. But we got started finally on Friday morning. Two bookcases and a dresser have been moved so far, so we're partway there. My computer is still in the room that's going to be Fiona's bedroom, at least until we figure out wiring. Rob may resort to running cables rather than depending on a wireless card. Not sure. We'll see. I hope we'll be able to work on it during the coming week, although I think he has more census work in the way.

The two of us headed to Minicon on Friday afternoon. (Didn't stay at the hotel this time, but drove home in the evenings.) The con is quite small now, just about 400 people now (quite a change from the days when 3000 used to show up). I did no programing this year, and mostly just sat around and talked with people. That was nice.

The girls got back late Saturday afternoon and came straight to the hotel. They had a marvelous time. Delia ran quickly through her pictures on the digital camera, showing me the people and scenes from the past week. They were rather tired, and Fiona's fighting a cold. We didn't stay late Saturday, and we left right after the con was finished today.

I indulged in one thing in the dealer's room, the Heart of Faerie Oracle Deck by Brian and Wendy Froud. It's been my tradition to do a tarot reading on Easter Sunday, when Minicon was over. Laurel Winter did them for me for years, but since she's stopped coming to Minicon, I've started doing them myself. I had thought it was a tarot deck, but it turns out it was a different animal, an oracle deck. It's truly a lovely thing. I took it home and studied it and tried to do a reading, asking What do I need to know about turning fifty. I was quite impressed. I have two other decks, but I have a truly powerful affinity for this one, and I think it will become quite a favorite. The backs of the cards look like this:




How perfect, with their hearts (heart of flesh/heart of stone, natch), and the roots, which make me think of trees (esp. the Holy Tree) and the spark at the middle (Light in Dark Places). The wings don't make me think of swans so much as ravens, but that's okay, too. (You can see other cards from this deck pictured in the slideshow at the bottom of this review.)

So: the girls are safe and well and home, the con was subdued, but quite pleasant, and I have a beautiful new deck. Life is good.

Imbolc

Feb. 3rd, 2010 12:30 pm
pegkerr: (candle)
It's just in the last couple years that I've become aware of the term "Imbolc," one of the four principal festivals of the Celtic calendar, and one of the eight sabbats of the Wheel of the Year. (First learned of the term through my lovely We'Moon desk calendar.) Most often celebrated around February 1, it's associated with the goddess Brigid, and in the Christian period with St Brigid - Imbolc being also known as St. Brigid's Day. The Day is also associated with the Christian feast of Candlemas (2 February), marking the end of the season of Epiphany.

It's the point midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, which makes it a logical point for Groundhog's day. I've found myself particularly noticing the light, and giving thanks that it's increasing in the evenings. Last night after I got home from work, I got out the shovel and tackled the driveway. As I was finishing up, I glanced up at the sky. The sun had set, but a beautiful salmon color still lingered in the sky for quite a while. The sun was down, but the quality of light seemed special to this time of year.

To celebrate Imbolc I'll link again to a song of Luka Bloom's that I posted last year (thanks again to [livejournal.com profile] moony for introducing me to his music) that he created specially for Brigid's Day. See what he says about the song here. I make this entry in honor of light in dark places. Heaven knows I have need of it.


Solstice

Dec. 22nd, 2009 08:52 am
pegkerr: (Default)
I went to the drum jam. I drummed (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] minnehaha for the loan of the drum. I danced.

I hope you are all pleased that I help drive the dark away.
pegkerr: (candle)
is "Come, Be Our Light." All the hymns yesterday included the light in the darkness theme. The alter looked beautiful, with bare branches decorated with small white lights.

Awesome.

They also put a big beautiful collage of photographs in the Narthex, shaped sort of like a light burst, showing different aspects of the mission of the church. I ended up talking during the fellowship hour with the woman who came up with the idea about soulcollaging.

I definitely go to the right church.
pegkerr: (candle)
I honestly don't know what to think of this one. The concept of this card is so important to me. Part of me thinks it's fabulous and part of me wants to scrap it and start all over again. I think my uncertainty stems partly from the fact that I'm up way past my bedtime and I'm COUGHING MY GUTS OUT ARGH RAWR STABBITY STABBITY STAB. It's been over two weeks since I first caught the H1N1, and it feels like this damn cough has moved in for the winter (no, it's not a productive cough so I don't think it's a bacterial infection/pneumonia. It's just that the coughing mechanism is stuck in the permanently 'on' position.)

Anyway, the card:


Light in Dark Places - Council Suit
Light in Dark Places - Council Suit
I am the One who lights your way when all other lights go out.



What do you think? Edited to add: I changed the color balance on and enlarged the central image; I think it looks better now! Thanks for your suggestions.

(From the top center, going clockwise: St. Lucia Day in Sweden, a firewalker I photographed at the Minneapolis winter solstice celebration, menorahs, Christmas Eve candlelight service, random lady with lamp, the winter illumination on Winter solstice day in Newgrange, Ireland. The central image is Galadriel handing Frodo her phial which she has described to be "the light of Earendil's star, set amid the waters of my fountain." (Earendil's ship shining with the light of one of the Simarils is the tiny image between Frodo's hand and the firewalker.)
pegkerr: (A light in dark places LOTR)
A large, good-quality version of the picture that this icon was taken from, of Galadriel handing the phial to Frodo? I want to make a Light in Dark Places Soulcollage card, and I'll be damned if I can find that picture anywhere.

Surely there's a LOTR fan somewhere on my friends list who can help?
pegkerr: (Holy Tree with Candlelight)
The last time I went on a retreat, I asked people to send me trees, and I got many marvelous responses. Thank you.

I'm going on retreat again because as you know things have been hard lately, and so I've been struggling. This time, I'll simply ask for this: I'd just appreciate an encouraging note. Or an affirmation. Or a good wish. Or a prayer. Or simply something just to think about in the days to come. Tell me what you think I'm doing right, tell me I'll get through this (me and my family, both). Tell my why you like reading this LiveJournal.

Tell me anything you think will give me light in dark places. Lurkers, I'd really appreciate hearing from you, too.

Thanks.

Love,
Peg
pegkerr: (Default)
Happy birthday, [livejournal.com profile] moony! I have [livejournal.com profile] moony to thank for introducing me to Luka Bloom. I've been playing this song today, which is all light in dark places, and perfect for this time of year. Read what he has to say about the song here, which includes this:
Since 1993, at the start of every February, I have watched large groups of men and women gather in my home county of Kildare. They come to welcome the beginning of spring. They come to Kildare because it is the home of Brigid, whose feast day is February 1st. Brigid is the goddess of love, poetry, justice in prechristian Ireland, and she is the patron saint of Kildare.

People also come to Kildare at this time, to speak about justice in the world, or lack of it.

There is reflection, talk, music and dance. It is not a big trendy festival, but a gathering of people who want to celebrate the coming of spring, and who want to call Brigids’ qualities into the world, to light a spark for change.

And every year we gather to welcome the light into our world; and to hope that more light will shine in the world; and that someday out of the darkness of war, hunger, greed, poverty, will come the light of community, sharing, justice, music, dance, peace and love.

I wanted to write a simple song to share with everyone in Kildare,and to honour this noble celebration. ...
Even at the point of recording the song in April 2008, I could never have foreseen the hurt that people are feeling around the world in a few short months.

At the end of 2008, everywhere is fear, insecurity, corruption, unemployment...
And yet, I feel this is the most exciting moment imaginable to be alive.

There is such a window opening in the world for goodness, for community, for sharing, for simplicity, for kindness.

And this song is a call to people, to reach inside and be aware of the power in each one of us to do good, for ourselves, for our families,for our friends, for our villages and towns, and ultimately, for our earth.

In these dark times, many people feel powerless, unimportant, un-needed, marginalised.

This song came from the power of a group of people who want to shine a bright light for the earth and for humanity. ... I know that many people need to hear and feelwhat is contained in this song, right now. I know that songs of themselves don’t change the world.

But songs can also be prayers, blessings, and they can be a spark to ignite something beautiful in anybody.. This song is my prayer for the world, and I send it out at the start of this exciting and dangerous year, with love and hope in my heart, for our shared future.

pegkerr: (Default)
Saw [livejournal.com profile] kijjohnson this morning, who has spent the past two weeks in Rice Lake, Wisconsin with her parents, to help out since her mother suffered an injury. She came to town and stayed with her brother last night, and then met me for breakfast on her way to the airport to fly back to Seattle. She looks great, as usual. We talked about the book she's working on, the Decrease Worldsuck project, and how we see the coming year. It's a year that is going to bring change to both of our lives, some of it forced upon us. But we felt rather hopeful contemplating it, I think, judging that we were both doing a pretty good job of facing the challenges life has dealt us in the past few months.

What I did today to make the world a better place )

I went to the Powderhorn (our local neighborhood center)'s celebration for the MLK holiday. I tried to get the girls to go with me, but they begged off, citing homework. I felt rather irritated about this, and disappointed for their sakes, because it really was a great event. I only came in the last twenty minutes or so, but they had a succession of performers up on the stage: folksingers, breakdancers, South American dancers, African drummers, slam poets, all very good, and I hugely enjoyed what I got to hear. A busy kitchen was serving up rice and beans, chicken, greens, cake and cornbread. Fun. I was glad I went.

I've been dipping into the inauguration coverage on and off this weekend (I had an amusing moment this morning when I went downstairs and tried to turn on the TV and see if there was anything about the inauguration, and after several minutes of befuddlement I realized that I have absolutely no idea how to work the TV clickers in my own house. I think the last time I turned on the television set was to watch the opening night of the Olympics. It shows you how little television I watch.) I wish I could just watch the coverage tomorrow, but alas, one of my attorneys has three enormous federal filings tomorrow, which means I'll be too busy to breathe at work tomorrow, let alone watch the swearing in on the television in the lunchroom at work. And then there is a church council meeting tomorrow night that I CANNOT duck out of, so I can't watch any repeat coverage tomorrow night, which is quite frustrating. Nevertheless, I am very hopeful for the country as it charts a new path under our new President, although I know it's going to take a long time to pull us out of this mess. (And, as is probably no surprise to anyone who has read this journal for awhile, I am ECSTATIC that George W. Bush is leaving the White House.
pegkerr: (candle)
Tonight's the winter solstice drum jam at the Cedar Cultural Center. Come see the firewalkers and help drum away the longest night of the year. Tickets available at the door, only $10. Kids under 10 are free!
pegkerr: (Family)
I went to work today, but I was really quite distracted. I'm certainly better than I was Tuesday, but I struggled throughout the afternoon with coughing jags, and I continually popped cough drops and sucked down cup after cup of tea. I kept calling home to check on how Delia was doing (better, thank you, although she's still coping with neck and shoulder pain), and to talk with Rob about logistics and insurance matters. I called my parents and sisters, and I called Kij. At a certain particularly low point this afternoon, I sat at my desk and cried into my hands, hoping that no one would walk by and ask me what was going on. Fortunately, no one did.

When work was over, I rode my bike home, and came upstairs and checked my email. There, I found a message from [livejournal.com profile] madlori that ABSOLUTELY BLEW ME AWAY.

*stunned disbelief*

Friends list, how can I possibly thank you enough for your kindness and generosity? Since I learned of the drive that [livejournal.com profile] madlori organized to raise money for me and my family, I've been struggling with how to precisely articulate how unbelievably touched and overwhelmed I feel. Me, a writer, at an absolute loss for words! But I realized eventually that I could never hope to find words perfect enough to possibly be worthy of the gift you have given us. But you know, that's okay, because it's a gift beyond anything I deserve, no matter what I've done, no matter how well you think I write, and how much you love reading the stories I've crafted about my life and my family. When life strikes you as hard as our family's misfortunes have been hitting me, the only way to get through it is by grace. I have always valued you, you know that, and I've often told you that I consider you my posse, watching out for my back. Tonight, I sit here with tears in my eyes and humbly say that you are more than that. You are grace to me, both secular and divine, however you understand it. In this, the most terrible year I've had for a long time, I am so grateful to have found in you a grace to help give me the courage I so desperately need to get me through these trials. I will remember it and hang on to it, no matter what is still to come.

The girls thank you, Rob thanks you, and I thank you, from the bottom of all our hearts.

Blessings and kisses,

Love,
Peg
pegkerr: (A light in dark places LOTR)
A lot of thoughts have been swirling through my mind in the past month or so, and I've been thinking about trying to catch them and set them down in a post.

This past year, frankly, has been hard. Rob's layoff, the private medical stuff that Elinor Dashwood isn't talking about, the constant worries about money, and the return of my clinical depression. Through it all, I have done my best to keep the family going and to allow us to thrive, even, and there have definitely been bright spots, too: the joys we experience every day in raising two such wonderful girls, taking my bike outside for the first time in years, the miracle of the karate patron who gave me a scholarship so that I could continue to study, my loving partnership with Rob that has stood the test of hard times and feels stronger and more committed than ever, the support of my family and friends, including you, my dear friends list, my posse who always watches out for my back.

Yet, I still experience day-to-day life as a struggle, and the dementors have been extremely difficult lately. The new job is, hurray! a new job, but it certainly isn't bringing in the return we were led to expect (the recession is affecting sales at Rob's new store), and we are still on the extremely tightened belt budget. I experienced a real nosedive in my mood yesterday and sat down to write about it, to figure out what was really going on. When I actually ennumerated all the factors dragging down my moods, I came up with a list of about fifteen or so. What's more, I realized that many of my usual coping mechanisms for dealing with my depression when it gets bad were not available to me: no cell phone, so I can't call a friend, my computer at home is dead, so I can't easily do the computer stuff I enjoy or email. Dead broke, so I can't go out for a dinner (which I dearly would love to do after all the struggles to feed my family a meal they'll deign to eat) or a movie. I feel guilty of being too extravagent if I buy a lousy cup of coffee for myself. After almost a year of it, this sucks.

So it's no wonder that my mood was so low last night. I dutifully kitted up for sparring and went to the dojo and warmed up--and then I had to leave, because I just couldn't stop crying. I can't spar when the depression gets severe. Crud.

So: the various thoughts I've been mulling over the past several weeks. Some of it came from the retreat, some of it from various things I've read, conversations I've had, or insights that have come, particularly through the soulcollaging. THAT has been a great new tool, besides being lots of fun.

1. One thought I got from an article my sister sent to me. I can't remember the exact train of thought, but it lead to a question: imagine what your life would be like if you were not depressed. What would be your concerns, your goals, your joys, your day-to-day activities? What would you think about and try to do then? Once I started thinking about this, I realized how puzzling and strange this thinking felt. I suppose I feel about my depression as Gregor says Miles thinks about security considerations in Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar books: that would be like a fish thinking about water--it just never happens, because the water is always there.

2. Sister Josue at the retreat advised me to start listing my gratitudes every day. I've been doing that, and it has been helpful.

3. I picked up and skimmed a book in a gift shop (too broke to buy it but I took notes) by Gay Hendricks, called Five Wishes (Author's website is here). He encountered someone at party he really didn't want to attend, and they had a conversation which Hendricks called life-changing.
Imagine it's forty years from now, and you're on your deathbed the stranger said. Now, imagine that you look back at what you regret that you didn't get to do during your life. What would those regrets be?

Gay Hendricks thought about this. "I suppose . . .I would regret it if I didn't have a loving relationship with a woman who I adored and who adored me, and if I never had the opportunity to build a life of creativity and passion together with her."

And why is that important to you? the stranger asked.

As Hendricks thought about that, and explained, he started to understand what was holding him back, some communication issues that were present throughout all his life.

Good said the stranger. Now, turn that into a goal, in the present tense.

"I . . . want to have a loving relationship with a woman who I adore and who adore me, and to build a life of creativity and passion together with her."

Good said the stranger. Now, where are you on achieving that goal?

Gay Hendricks thought about that. The stranger smiled. Get busy
So I've been thinking about that, ever since skimming the book. I thought about my relationship with Rob and with the girls. No, I couldn't see them as a regret. I have built a loving partnership with Rob, and despite my own insecurities, I truly think that I have been a loving and good mother to the girls. They are turning out well. This dovetails well with what Sister Josue told me to do with my gratitudes. I do realize that I have much in my life to be happy about (which makes the depression particularly insiduous and annoying, of course, that it insists on sticking around, even when all sources of happiness have not been leached from one's life.) Note, the serendipity of discovering this book the same week that I am thinking about trying to visualize a life without depression. Gay Hendricks is getting at the same quality from a different approach: imagine how you can build a life where you can look back with no regrets.

Well, what about the writing? Wasn't I always saying that the fact that I have stopped writing fiction is a big regret of mine?

So I thought about it. No matter whichever way I thought about it, the only thing I could think that I would say as a regret about writing on my deathbed would be, I regret that I never wrote a beautiful book that truly moved people, that changed their lives.

But I don't need to say that. I have written a book I truly think is beautiful, that has changed people's lives.

And that was this week's blinding insight, friends list. It's true: I never wanted to write fiction to make a pile of money or win prestigious awards. It would have been nice if it had happened, but those goals never drove me. Maybe the reason I've stopped writing fiction isn't because I've lost my creativity, or because I'm too busy with the kids or I fritter away too much time on the Internet. Maybe I've stopped writing fiction because I've already achieved all that I wanted to achieve when I started writing.

Let me tell you, that is a very new thought. I will have to cogitate about that for awhile.

4. The last piece in all this is what I learned at the church service about Fiona's Mexico mission trip. The church went to the orphanage Casa Hogar Elim, which is run by a remarkable woman all the children call "Mama Lupita." The orphanage began in 1986 when Mama Lupita took in four children of an alcoholic father who had abandoned them (the mother had died), even though she had four children of her own. She kept taking in more and more children, somehow making ends meet through donations. She has made it her mission to turn these orphans' lives around, giving them food and education in a neighborhood where many children suffer horrible poverty. She never turns any child away. Mama Lupita can certainly look back on her life on her deathbed and honestly say, "My life truly made a difference for so many people."

I need to do some more thinking about the questions Gay Hendricks asks in his book (see his website here). My thoughts are hazy so far, but there's definitely something there, something about helping children, promoting literacy issues, environmental concerns. Something about wanting to travel a lot more. And there's definitely a STRONG message of I would definitely regret it if I spent forty years of my life typing paperwork for attorneys in insurance litigation--that's something I absolutely must address. I need to think more of what it would be like to live a life free of depression. I need to do more soulcollaging cards.

I need to get the damned computer fixed so I can use my iPhoto program to make more soulcollaging cards.

Edited to add: This post reminds me of one of the poems in Edgar Lee Masters' cycle of poems Spoon River Anthology, the epitaph for Fiddler Jones:
Fiddler Jones

THE EARTH keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill—only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle—
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret
.

My retreat

Mar. 21st, 2008 11:43 am
pegkerr: (Default)
It was absolutely everything I hoped it would be. The Sisters were kindness itself to me. In fact, it was so perfect that I think I'd like to make it an annual event. I'll post a full report later, but first, I just wanted to post this: I got an immediate sign that, yes, I had come to the right place when I walked into the Spirituality Center, where I was to stay while I was there, and I found this sculpture, set with candles, on the mantle above the fireplace in the lounge. I lit it at night while I was working on the soulcollaging project (many, many thanks for that brilliant suggestion, [livejournal.com profile] anam_cara, and yes, I got the package, thank you)! I'll give a fuller report later, but we're getting busy to go to Minicon. But I wanted to show you the basis for my beautiful new icon first.


Holy Tree at St. Benedict's Spirituality Center March 17 - 20
Holy Tree at St. Benedict's Spirituality Center (March 17 - 20, 2008 retreat)

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