Friday, September 30, 2011

What I learned...

from the one day Get Motivated Conference in Lexington.

- Everything is changing - fast. (Actually I already knew that.) But here is the second thing - WE can be part of that change if we stay awake and don't fear. (Actually I knew that too.)

- Never allow ourselves to 'be a victim' of life, circumstance, culture or whatever. We have the power to act and God has given us the ability to live our own lives beautifully. (That last bit I added, not from the conference.)

- Disruption - ANY disruption - is a disaster or an opportunity, depending on YOU and your outlook. Those who are victims of it will be paralyzed, those who keep living and listening to God (not from the conference) will be invited to be a leader.

- Every successful person experiences set backs, routinely. Everyone.

- Of course, non successful people also experience setbacks, they just think no one else does. One speaker said, 'every difficulty you are experiencing is being experienced by a million or more people.' Kind of moves us away from self pity, huh?

- In everything you put your hand to do, aim to make a difference, an impact. Never squander an opportunity to act in the cause of LIFE! (That last bit is mine.)

- Be self aware and open to feedback. Very hard to do. "Be easy to manage." I liked this quote - if we would not put up our security walls and say, "Yes, I can grow in this" we would be bigger people. (Also, eating Cinnabons will make us bigger people.)

- Sometimes take on the tough assignment just to stretch. Volunteer. Don't be afraid that you will fail in some way. Accept failing as part of life. Especially when things are changing so fast. We all have to keep trying things out. And that means failure. Regularly.

- Stay humble. (A very proud man said that. I was amused.)

- If you believe in something be willing to take several tries at it to get it right. It might take several attempts to achieve your ends. Don't give up one try too soon.

- It matters HOW you win and lose. Remember when you fail that EVERYONE loves a comeback story.

- Keep perspective. Things are never as bad as they seem. Things are also never as good as they seem.

- Dream individually - but work for each other. Share success and celebrate the people around you.

- Undersell yourself and over deliver.

- Be a magnet to people because you are full of life, even when you are struggling. Successful people love to help other people. One man climbs a ladder and then reaches back and pulls the ladder up. Another man climbs a ladder and then reaches back and helps other people up. This is the basic fundamental difference between people.

- Every team is tired. Every team has problems.

- Learn to protect yourself from the flood of information. (I heard this morning on NPR from a woman who is making a film about connectedness and the web and all... and this woman whose WHOLE LIFE is about social media and connectedness online said .... listen up - that she and her family unplug one day a week as a shabbat sp?. She said it was absolutely essential to their wellness. Imagine that.)

- Evil makes what is important seem unimportant, and what is unimportant seem important.

- Never stop having fun. Life is too too wonderful to get grim. Be happy for no apparent reason.(This one is just a bonus from me.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

music to live by

I spent some time last night downloading new tunes from iTunes onto my iPod. A few years ago I didn't even have a conception of these kinds of things, but it is pretty cool.

Most of the new music I listen to is indie, acoustic, and bluesy. I have no idea of new groups so when I am listening to NPR and they introduce a new band or album I pay attention and then if I like it I grab my pen (usually in the car) and scrawl the names on my arm, my pants, or if I can find it, the little tiny diary I keep for just such a purpose in my glove box. Where, incidentally, I never put gloves.

Anyway, I was listening to new music last night and I heard a song whose two first lines were,
"I am too sad to cry
I am too tired to die..."

I laughed right out loud. Anyone who can write that is going to be on my listen list.

Just in case you need some new music... I am sitting here enjoying Imelda May, her new album - Mayhem. Kind of bluesy, kind of jazzy, and smart. I like it. Never heard of her before this week. The world is full of so many beautiful things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at
Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a
wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be
in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed
it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed
ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and
I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

I have also learned that we read the tops of words, not the bottom. Cover the top of a line of words and try to read it. You can't. But cover the bottom and read the top ... it works.

All this to say that I am way too busy to write anything profound, but these things make me smile - I love thinking about our brains and the capacity God has given us to be alive, well, human and relating to others.

Use your words carefully today. Someone is reading them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Leviticus 18:19

A modest woman friend on mine at the Seminary had this experience... these are the two emails she sent to her friends (and me).

First email to my friends:

I decided you might need a good laugh, so here it is (at my expense, no less). So, I get a phone call this morning, asking if I will read the Scripture reading in chapel today (300 people in attendance) at 11:00 a.m. I readily agree, eager to take part in the service! THEN, I learn that I have to read Leviticus 18:1-19 in front of this large group. And NO, I'm not allowed to leave out verse 19 (YES, I asked!) I haven't even done it, and I'm already turning red. Yes, I'm a big girl, but give me a break...I know that all Scripture is God-breathed, but did He really intend for this to be read out loud, in mixed company, by a woman? I don't think so! can stop laughing now! :) God has a sense of humor, but I'm not laughing with Him right this second!

Second email to my friends:

Okay, I hope that you are sitting down and that you have recovered from your previous laugh, because it gets better! After enduring that entire reading, the speaker stands up and publicly apologizes to me guessed it! was the WRONG scripture!!! It was supposed to be 19:1-18, NOT 18:1-19. Can you believe it!? The president of the seminary and all the vice presidents came up to me afterward and commended me for having read a scripture that has never before been read out loud at Asbury Seminary! One even said he loved the way I said "nakedness"--I do not think I will ever live this down for the remainder of my time here. Wonder if I should just quit while I'm ahead?
Note to self: never agree to read Scripture in chapel again. Poor Lauren--everyone knows I'm her mother, and she has to attend here...that poor, poor child..

God definitely has a sense of humor, that is for sure! I have been officially "hazed" into the community; glad to have that behind me!


Personally I love that we (read: Karen) said menstruation in chapel on a Tuesday morning. It is the experience of at least half the audience and well, some things just need to be brought out of the closet. It was a funny funny morning!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

37 years

Thirty seven years ago tonight I had a headache. We had been celebrating all day, taking one bottle of wine after another out of the case of 24 and opening it with friends. I was quite inebriated by one or two in the afternoon and completely down with a hangover by supper. I do not recall that there was a church practice or anything like that.

Thirty seven years ago tonight the large washing sink in my mother's unfinished basement had armloads of daisies in it. I still had a bouquet or two to arrange before I turned in. Oh, and I had never arranged flowers before. But what can be hard about daisies? They kind of fall into a beautiful armful. I hated them before the night was over.

Thirty seven years ago tonight I weighed 121 pounds. My wedding dress was in my room, 100% polyester, size 7, bought with my own funds off the rack for $100. It was simple with no lace but with lovely polyester ruffles around the wrist and down the back. I also had a veil which wasn't very exciting to me. I would rather have left it off. It would be the perfect 70's flower child dress when the daisies were done. Damn the daisies, anyway.

Thirty seven years ago tonight I went to bed in my mother's home for the last time. Steve kissed me at the screen door three steps down from the kitchen beside a built-in boot box. We laughed. We were in love. It was going to be legal - finally.

And I did have quite a headache.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I have nothing to add

Mother Theresa once said, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

on being 60, or 24

Steve turned 60 on Monday. The day was cool and blustery, appropriate for September... in Canada. I paid attention to the day and tried to notice and capture moments with potential joy or depth. I think 60 is a bit of a bridge to cross for Steve. One of those markers in your life that you don't expect to get to. Like being under a tombstone. I always look across graveyards I pass and think to myself, "None of these people actually thought they would be there." And I don't either.

A family I am close to moved back to Lagos last spring. I miss the family and their five beautiful children. We stay in touch. The 13 year old daughter sent me an invitation to connect with her on a social networking site.I clicked the link and there was her profile. Like a flashing yellow light I saw a number under her name. Age: 24.

The internet is a dangerous place and our children are so perpetually naive. The ones who think themselves worldly and risk the most are really the most naive. I watched this dear girl chaff at restrictions and family identity the last year they were here. I knew she didn't want to leave America. To take a teen who has lived 6 formative years in America back to Africa is no small thing.

I read her profile and wanted to grab her shoulders and shake her. Gives all new meaning to the 'shaken babe' problem. There is nothing good that can come into her life from this. Not only that, she is completely missing the point of being 13. Her only chance to be 13 is now. She is part girl, part woman, and everything is stirred up. Life has 13 year old work and play and innocence that is hanging by a thread. God knows 24 will come and with it the burden of life.

So, like Steve at 60 and my friend at 13 we all struggle to discover and be what we are. The struggle can rob us of life - stealing the beauty of today and pitting us against our own biology and biography. We end up fighting ourselves all our days, instead of sinking into the beauty of our unique essence.

I felt like writing my little friend's mom and warning her. Instead, I wrote directly to the girl and told her I had seen what she did and asked her to change her profile. If she doesn't I will write her mom. The world is a dangerous place and evil is waiting to pounce. As an older woman I must stand in defense of the little ones. My effort won't be enough to change her life, I know. There is a whole hurricane of life happening inside this girl, and she will write her own story. But I will own the little piece I have access to.

Steve, though, is on his own figuring out 60. GRIN