Thursday, March 20, 2014

in clover: if you give a girl a tea towel.....

My sweet friend Angie sent me a care box full of lovies a few weeks ago.  In it was all sorts of chicken cuteness...a little chicken whisk...a little chicken tea cozy....a little chicken cookie cutter...and on and on.  I had written to her about my jaw pain and she wanted to raise my spirits.  I liked everything but I absolutely adored the tea towels she included.  I hung them on my stove handle but I didn't really want to leave them there because I'm messy when I cook and I was sure I would splatter and stain them.  No way was I going to use them for drying my counters or cleaning in my kitchen.  I am as hard on tea towels as I am on shoes! I couldn't bear to put them away, though, so I hung them on the stove handle. Since I was feeling so badly, I wasn't cooking anyway. They seemed safe.  And they made me smile every time I saw them.  Sort.  Actually, my jaw pain made smiling more painful than almost anything else. 

Once I realized that the jaw pain I was experiencing was not going to go away easily, I did some research.  I found out that one of the best places in the US for treatment of this kind of pain is right here in Lexington.  Darn near right across the street from my house, in fact.  It's called the  Orafacial Pain Clinic at the University of Kentucky.  And there is a very long wait list to get in. Apparently this is an all too common source of pain....mostly for women.....mostly in my age category.  I know a lot of UK folks and a lot of doctors and I called everyone I could think of...and my dentist did too....but I was not able to get an appointment any sooner than two and a half months out.  

But exactly one week ago, I got in! (That's another post!)  I got in and I was truly amazed by the compassionate and skilled work that is being done there.  I'm beginning to feel much better and I am now hopeful that I will eventually be pain free again.  It could take several months but I am prepared for that now.  

All of this to say that yesterday I was able to do more than I have been able to do in months! 


...went back to the gym with Michael and did a light cardio work out....first time in over six months!

...went to the market and actually enjoyed picking out food and planning meals

...came home and cooked...I cooked two different soups, a full dinner AND an entree for later in the week

...worked with some of Big C's senior pictures in my photo editing software and made some plans for his graduation celebration

...laughed and smiled, and it only hurt a little

...and I found a great place for the cute tea part of the window treatment in my kitchen.  

If you give a girl a tea towel....she'll hang it in the window.  

Where she can see it, all the time, and think of her sweet friend and smile.  

And after she's hung the tea towels in this unconventional way, she'll realize that she's beginning to feel like herself again.  

Herself again, but different too.  

Because now she she has an idea of just how many people are in physical pain, all the time.  And how awful that is.  And she will be different now.  More grateful. More empathetic.  More aware.  

She'll do her best to be more of those things.



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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

in clover: listen to my word....

When I was a little girl, I talked A LOT.  My family nicknamed me "Jabberwocky."  Sometimes, out of necessity and for the sake of her sanity, my mother would "tune" me out.  I understand.  My children are jabberwockys too.  There are times when I just can't take it in and I tune them out. 

Sometimes, when I was a very small girl, sensing my mother's distraction, I would pull on her sleeve and say, "Listen to my word.  Mommy, listen to my word." We've always thought that a funny and odd thing for a little girl to say.

Last Wednesday night my spiritual direction group wrapped up a month long exploration of Celtic spirituality.  I shared this incredible blessing from John O'Donohue.   I thought it particularly appropriate on that night.

For longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging - love, creativity and friendship -

be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

 May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness
with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

John O’Donohue

With a handful of dark green pipe cleaners and some quick instruction, we set out to weave a St. Brigid cross, mindfully.  Despite my reassurances that whatever you created or didn't create, it was ok, the important part was experience, well, really, the opening to the experience, folks were nervous about doing things "right.".  No matter how many times I said it, they had trouble accepting that the outcome was of little or not consequence. 

Brigid Crosses are traditionally woven from reeds.  I had a bag of materials in the garage, saved for the occasion but Michael unknowingly "decluttered" them.  In the end I decided on pipe cleaners because I knew it would be easier for their unfamiliar fingers to manage and might help keep our focus on the meditation, rather than making a perfect cross.   I said over and over again, "Remember, it's just a pipe cleaner!"   

But even so, as we wove our pipe cleaner crosses, you could feel the judgment (and tension) begin to build.  

For most of us, our minds told us that we were:

inferior or superior
too perfect or too sloppy
too fast or too slow
too determined or too hesitant
too focused or too scattered

The interesting thing to me was the nature of this judgement. This was not the "judging of one's neighbor" that we are warned against in the Bible.   

This was different.  

We didn't judge the woman to our left or the woman to our right or the woman across the room.  We judged ourselves, pure and simple. 
We were so judgmental of ourselves,  we had no choice but to laugh at ourselves.  The only other option would have been to judge ourselves for being so judgmental! 

Do you see what tricks the mind plays? 

That voice that urges you to peek at your neighbor out the corner of your check your measure against your friends...that voice is not God. The voice that says you are not good enough is never the voice of God. That voice is not Holy or Sacred and that voice surely does not speak Truth.  That is a small, small voice. It only sounds big because it is trapped in your's bouncing around and echoing off the walls of your mind until you can hear nothing else. 

That small voice should not be able to drown out the love and longings that God speaks to you,  but all too often we ignore the God-Voice that says we are beautiful, we are powerful, we are loved.  We only hear that small, small voice that says we are not enough. It's small but it's loud and man oh man is it ever persistant. 

We can't quite tune in to the God station....

we create our own static.... 

we can't quite make out the voice of the Divine.

But if we will stop and listen and acknowledge and reach out...if we share our small thoughts and big fears with trusted soul friends, we can turn the volume down on that small voice.  We can remove the static and tune into Love. 

When those small, mean thoughts cross my mind, my friend and mentor taught me to say, "Hello, old friend.  Not today."  I can choose to let those small thoughts pass on by.  You can too.

Recently a friend sent me this quote from Sue Monk Kidd's book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. 

"Mindfulness has been called a powerful form of self-healing by many teachers and practitioners. How this process creates healing is part mystery and part grace. Somehow in a slow, hidden way, we're able to be with the depths of ourselves--our true natures, our souls--while at the same time observing our thoughts and feelings and not becoming caught up in them."  

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of Love.
May you have the courage to reveal your true nature. 

Can you feel me pulling on your sleeve? 

"Listen!  Listen!  Listen to my word!

You are beautiful 
You are powerful
You are magnificent
You are infinite
You are eternal
You are loved

You ARE enough



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