Archive for the ‘thriving’ Category

“In the front room her chair is now by the door,”  said Marilyn. “That big wood piece is at an angle in the corner. It is so much better!”

I looked down at the pictures of Elizabeth’s apartment that Marilyn was flipping through on her phone.

“In her bedroom, her dresser tops are all clear. You’ll love it. Here I can show you the picture.”

And there it was, a shot of the dresser, the one with the heart-shaped cut-outs in each drawer — the hearts that work as pulls — the dresser we had just recently bought for Elizabeth at a thrift store, the one Tasia had picked it out with a, “This one is Elizabeth! She’ll love the hearts.”

There it was now, as a small bright image on a glossy phone screen — the salient, physical, incontrovertible evidence of a stunningly gorgeous, transformative act of pure love — a perfectly arranged dresser top, a warm glowing lamp, a picture of Elizabeth and her mom and a perfectly placed nick-knack.

“Maria did that! She got it,” enthused Marilyn, gushing about the professional cleaner she had hired. “She understood what we were tying to do with Elizabeth, and she is teaching her how to do this herself.”

We both gawked. We dallied in time, we astonishicated. We dawdled, we puddled, we shamelessly muckified through the splashy shallows of the pervasively miraculous.

Elizabeth’s mom had died just a few years back, when Elizabeth was fifty. Then Elizabeth was alone, truly alone in an apartment that she and her mom had lived in for 30 years. There she was, for the first time in her life, left with all her mom’s stuff, left with piles of pack-ratted junk, left with a broken heart and a profound level of inexperience due to her own significant disabilities, her mom’s life-long, over-protective love and now her own, new grieving, depressive, suicidal outlook.

Elizabeth’s mom had been her everything — friend, confidant, protector and now she was gone. And what was left — the old medicine bottles, the faded bills, the cheap jewelry, the out-of fashion clothes, the dusty piles of junk on the dressers, the soft, sifting scent of memory, the scree at the bottom of the familial slope, the Sisyphean skein and the suffocating sadness of silence.

But now, now, now — totally different. Doctors had been consulted, brothers connected, counselor’s hired and friends found. People had been brought into play by the REFINERY Church — the church that found and was found by Elizabeth — and this found-community literally saved her life.

Medications, therapy sessions, Bible studies, lunches with friends, support groups, pastors, an adopted kitten, and finally, the professional cleaning and reordering of her apartment by her adoring church buddy Marilyn and one of her compadres, Brenda. By this and more, Elizabeth had been transformed.

Marilyn told us recently. “It’s like she is growing up” — in her fifties — “for the first time! She is finally becoming mature, a single woman who for the first time in her life, can actually care for herself.”

“Look at her kitchen,” said Marilyn pointing again at the screen again. The counters shone, they glowed — renewed, restored.

They look a like a lot like Elizabeth.

Sometimes I write modern soliloquies. A soliloquy is simply a monologue, often found within a drama, that gets at a deep issue in the speaker. It is a heart, alone, but speaking outloud, as it wrestles with an idea, a decision or a need to act.  Shakespeare is the master of this art form. 

The soliloquy below is my  attempt at inspiring myself and all of us to speak — out of our unique person — what is inside of us, to speak with freedom, to speak ideolectically, to improvise, to extemporize, to neologize, to invent words to match our thoughts. I have given this soliloquy a light, jazz-inspired, fun, breezy, slangish feel. To help with this I added some nonsensical syllables, vocables, borrowed from popular songs or just made up. 

Hope you enjoy it and that it inspires you to be you. 

You can find more of my soliloquies at http://www.modernsoliloquies.com 

 

Do-Ba-De-Do!

Speak up more, not less, using your own ideo-vocalized mess.

Soliloquy — in front of yourself and everyone else-a-melse.

Monologue, dog!

You and I can flip-flop nonstop lolly pop but that gets trite fast and then we just so need to speak our favor-ite verbo-bite.

Bebop, hiphop, tipitity-top, slop-a-pop.

Ski-ba-bop-ba-bop-voc; do that thang nonstop.

Be-cause …

We have been flattened by the road-grade blade of the prepaid lexicographers.

We have been run over by the top-botched, pop-a-voc.

We have suffered weak-a-squeak.

We have sold out for safety and we have shut up way too much because we thought we were stuck-a-muck with duck and cluck.

Nope! Fess; you’ve got that vocable mess!

Unperson; you’ll worsen, but word-dive and jivity jive and you’ll revive.

See!

Be inventy.

Sync with your blink.

Que with your you and do-ba-de-do!

Most of us are afflicted — at least somewhat — with amassitude, anothery and an acute strain of likewiseness.

Last night, for a snack, I took seconds and thirds and a small fourth on some yummy Frosted Mini-Wheats. I added honey and almond milk.  Sweet on sweet, or double sweet.  Yum!

Then I got a yearning to see my Padres hit another home run against the Dodgers so I stayed up late to watch. They did, and again. Watching them play so hard made me tired, so I went to bed happy, and I got double-sleep by rolling over twice this morning and sleeping in.

“Ah and oh,” I love my firsts — and my seconds, sometimes my thirds. But I don’t like it when my waist line increases because of too much sweet cereal, or my sleep cycles are interrupted by too much coffee. I sometimes tend toward a little too much.

Thus and so, mostly and consistently, we are all, at times extendawonkers, increasaboys, supplementicators, expandimongers.

We indulge, then ask politely — sometimes not — for more, more cereal, condiments, compliments, constaments, cashiments, communications, curiosa,

A bit of this is normal, and good, but there is one unpleasant side effect to dipping in again and again and again — insatiably. It’s discontent. And its dissatisfaction. We may feed a human penchant for never-enough. We may become addicted to an incessant always-a-little-more.

What to do?

Don’t push it. Don’t feed, grow and propagate addiction. Be very happy with your one portion, perhaps a small second; be good with good that isn’t jumboed, big-gulped, value-added, honeyed, home-runned or supersized.

I think of Solomon and his erotic poem in the Bible, his sage, “Do not stir up love until it pleases,” smack in the middle of his well-kindled romantic ardor.

Pleasures will come to us when they will come to us, but if we force them we risk ruining them. To be puke-drunken, gorge-mucked, sex-smuckered or gagged-guzzled — it may be fun for some,  kind of, sort of at first (do you think so?), but it’s not that much fun, especially in the end.

Surfeit and its consequences — this is suffered willingly by fools, but the wise moderate, and enjoy life, and contentment. They partake, then they stop and they are happy holding back until the just-right-once-again-moment.

I had one latte this morning, brewed with my favorite, smooth Best Friends blend of Dark Horse coffee and 2% milk. So good!

Nothing in excess; some things not at all.

Smuzzle-stick!

“I consider that the only thing to be really regretted in our last two years operations is the absence of jollity.”

Calvert Vaux

I’m reading the biography of Frederick Law Olmstead, 1822-1903, a fascinating American landscape architect who played a major role in designing Central Park in New York as well as many other public outdoor spaces.

Olmstead got around,  organized a lot of different things — for instance he oversaw a sanitation effort for the Union in the Civil War — worked hard, exercised some creativity, made a name for himself. He even ran a gold mine in California for a bit.

Olmstead’s colleague, Calvert Vaux, however did note while working with him on Central Park one of Olmstead’s serious shortcomings  — it was “the absence of jollity.”

Wow, poor Olmstead. No jollity! That’s a serious problem. It’s like no  money, no food, no vacation. It’s drudgery, sludgery, skulduggery.

Jollity — you’ve got to keep a good supply of that on hand. So you succeed. So you make some money. So you are taken quite seriously. If your are still unhappy, sour, dour, cold with others — then what is the good of that?

Good includes good humor; it is rooted in joy.

What is the secret to a good marriage?

Keep em laughing.

What is the secret to a good partnership?

Mocking problems, hooting over what you have to deal with  —  including the ridiculosity of everyone but you.

The secret to good parenting? It’s verbal acrobatics, a joke here and a gentle tease there. It’s running in the house, dancing in the kitchen, tickling on the living room floor, giggling during family games, it’s funny words and sounds, floating to the ceiling, falling on the floor — snorting.

And what is the secret to a healthy, medicinal spirituality? The Bible says it’s a merry heart.

What to do?

Flee the absence of jollity. Don’t do an Olmstead.

Laugh more, work less, niffle-naffle some. Love more, snicker more, tickle more, chortle more — hee–haw and guffaw.

How? How do you get started?

You could begin by considering how completely and seriously ridiculous you are!

Yesterday morning I sat on the beach at Half Moon Bay, in Northern California and watched the waves. I looked out to sea. I was squinting —  at the future. What did I see? I saw a future in which I reflect, learn, write, think and speak about what is true.

In other words, I see a future that extends and expands on what my whole life has been about — figuring out what is true and sharing that with other people.  The path ahead for me looks like the path behind.

Later in the day I hiked the little creek trail at Butano State Park near Pescadero, hoofing it lazily through sword ferns and sorrel with my wife Linda, weaving through the giant redwoods, following the little stream thorugh patches of gorgeous green sunlight and shade. We paused, sat on a log, took it in and I did a little more squinting, again, trying to see the future — my future adventuring through the divine sunshine, shadow and splendor of the known universe.

What is the future? It is a vast ocean,  seen and unseen, known a bit by exploration, not nearly all known yet. The future is a redwood forest, mostly unknown, except the trail, the one taken out, and then taken back again.

It is said that sixty percent of the planet is covered by water more than a mile deep. Seventy-nine percent of the entire volume of the earth’s biosphere consists of waters with depths greater than 1,000 meters. We lilve on a deep planet that we have not nearly explored.

There is so  much that is yet unknown.  Neuroscientists estimate that we are conscious of only about five percent of our own cognitive activity. We have depths, inside of us, unchartered waters, operating in sync with our organs, our emotions  and our actions. It isn’t that we aren’t using all of our brain  power; we are always using a good deal of it, without being aware of it.  We are oceans,  we are forests, yet waiting to be discovered.

And so I am squinting,  along with many other people,  at the future, because I want to see what is coming, and I want to control it a little bit, if that is possible, by the wise choices I make.

What is out there?

One way to cxplore our own human consciousness and its tie to the future is through paying attention.

How?

By paying attention to our own consciousness, and by exploring our unconsciousness, by getting  below the surface of the self. To do that, it looks to me like we must stop, pause, rest, rest deep, reflect, pay attention, consider options, choose.  This means looking back along the path we have come from, and then looking forward along the path that goes back to where we came from.

I don’t do too much of this kind of looking, becuase I stay busy, with work and play. Many moderns do. It’s good, it’s healthy, but what is needed to grow in self-awareness and meta-awareness and to see further into what can yet be. This will require some deep rest, long time outs, extended inactivity, a cessation of activity, a time for looking, just looking and listening to self, past, present, future and God.

I recommend more of this. We need to stop, take stock, consider the possibilities, explore options, listen to the future, watch for the flow of time in a given direction, make plans.

Some might counter, but you just can’t know, and you certainly can’t control the future. I disagree. We can know possibilites, we can see potential, we can see options and we may — if health doesn’t fail and people intrude —  even choose some of what will be. If God is willing, we may travel the same path twice, going in different directions, foward and back and begin to see a bit ahead a different angle on what we have seen before.

I give you deep rest, I recommend deep consideration, deep planning, hoping, thinking, brooding, listening,  acting. I suggest moving with the flow of the divine, moving with the rhythms of liffe, looking out to sea, looking up the trail, looking, looking, looking.

In front of you,  your future.

Will you take it?

Aim High

Posted: June 22, 2015 in thriving

I’m trying to raise roughly $10,000 to take the next step in creating a beautiful space for people. Last week I added up the gifts. They came in at roughly $6,5oo. I’m aiming high, I’m hitting reality.

We all  have hopes, and hopefully some of them are high. I’m for aiming high no matter what we hit.

I have high hopes to know God, I mean really know him, personally, to be like Abraham, God’s friend. We talk, God and I, some, and sometimes I hear him. I’m aiming high; I am hitting reality.

Over the last three to four years I have written about 3,5oo axioms, epigrams, thought proverbs, wisdoms. I am aiming high, attempting to contribute to the store of wisdom in the world, attempting to add to the English language. A couple of people have repeated my lovelies,  a few websites have carried them, I quote myself from time-to-time. I am aiming high, sometimes I fall low, I am hitting reality — with as much wit, pith, drollery, and linguistics unholiness as I can muster.

I am also attempting to lead an old church into a new era, an era of freedom, of creativity, of beauty, of honoring individuals, of knowing God, of healthy relationships. of honesty. It’s fun; it’s a lot of work. We are rebranding, remodeling, re-energizing, refining. We are a re-church in a re-era doing re-theology. We have gained many new people, we have lost some too, to moves, the military, to life. We are aiming high. We are hitting reality.

Here is the deal. Aim at nothing, hit whatever happens to be flying by, or hit nothing, which isn’t actually a hit at all. Aim at something high, a least you have a chance to hit  something that is along the road to high.

I hate giving up, quitting, whining, negativity, low standards, cynicism, criticalness, not aiming, not getting anywhere.

Being negative or being apathetic is so chicken!

I love trying, especially trying hard things, and the apricity that comes to one through pluck, and trying again, and having another go at it, and celebrating the soigné that exists in everyday effort, and the neuroplasticity of the active mind —  eunoia, affirmation, helpfulness.

I love aiming high.

It’s high, even when it’s lower.

It was Friday night after work and we were at Bino’s Bistro and Crêperie in Hillcrest feasting on crêpes, tiredness, love and goofiness — trying to reprise us four years ago in Paris, recovering from too much San Diego this last week and indulging in the elemental and eternal concoction of comfort food and comfort family to stave off mental dysfunction, work ennui and certain death.

Diner came to our table as bacon, tomato, avocado, mozzarella cheese and spicy Chipotle sauce on a fresh, tender slightly chewy crêpe — it was a California Crêpe.

Dessert consisted of orange-Grand Marnier sauce, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on a tender fluffy crêpe — it was Crêpe Suzette, and we clashed forks over it.

Here is the deal for us humans — food and people, never leaving out the people are necessary to thrive.

At Bino’s the owner came to our table and confabulated with us about his former restaurant in Coronado, his five black cats who take walks with him, his many and varied crêpe recipes and his repository of odd and desultory memories. He was charming.

And that’s it, people are charming, mostly, or not, but we love them, need them and ought to feed them a dose of our attention and warmth and appreciation for being the crêperie inside of the crêperie of the very essential ice cream and whipped creme crêperie of them!

I had lunch last week with a sweet friend who brought fresh veggie sandwiches for us to inhale. “People,” she mused, “teach us stuff, all of them.”

It’s true and beautiful to see life this way. The ones who fail teach us how to fail or remind us not to fail in precisely the gruesome and horrible ways in which they fail. The ones who succeed teach us how to succeed, in precisely the terrible and horrific ways in which they succeed.

Each person is a meal to us, each one a dessert!

So here is my human-restaurant recommendation. Yelp people, find people, visit people, consort with people and consume all of them!

People are the crêpes of life, and life is better if we munch on as many of them as we possible can.

It’s the last day of the year, December 31, 2014.

This afternoon, I ate whole blueberries, dipped in dark chocolate, at home in the quiet of my living room, snoozed on the couch with the cat, bought a few song I like on iTunes and wrote several blog posts.

I luxuriated in choices, and in hand-picked inertia.

The greatest wealth, reward, benefit, gift, prize this year offered?

The most meaningful life I lived was the life I did not live in the hospital, in jail or on chemo. The life I did not live in congress, the one I did not live in entertainment magazines and the one I did not live within people’s opinions of me – this was the good life. My best life was the personal life I lived with my friends, with my staff, at work, in my church, with my daughters and wife.

To have time and space and resources to think, to brood, to study, to read, to converse, to write, to travel, to work, to worship, to futz over what I do well, to reflect – this is the good life.

This year I rejoice that I had the time and strength to make my own bed – to even have a bed — to garden, to cook soup, to do the dishes, to play with children, to talk to my loved ones, to fluff the cat, to shop, to fish in Montana with a friend, to write blog posts, to write sermons, to write my precious proverbs and my dear fables, to eat my way through San Francisco with my family, to fix stuff, to refinish stuff, to tend to my investments, to dream, to make new spaces, to refinish wood floors with friends, to lunch and coffee with people I like – this was the best life I lived this year.

We make too much of much. We should make too much of little.

To be able to choose who you are with and when, and where you will go and with whom, to choose who you will admit to your presence and why – this the good stuff, and it is not to be overlooked. Many people can’t do that.

To be safe, private, secure, social when you choose, not publicly abused, not sought after, not traumatized, not exploited, not lionized, not hated, not sick, employed but not too much, vacationed but not too much, this is good, this is more than enough to satisfy — this is to live well.

The freedom to manage ones own self, to manage ones own opinion of ones self, to be more famous to oneself that to anyone else, to live within the sunshine of ones own acceptance, to live within the limits of time and chance and luck and guidance and all this brings to us that we end up with, to affirm oneself in the same way as one is affirmed by the great Creator, the one who made all small, self-governing, self-nurturing things – this is very good.

To be free to choose to live with ones own goals, to live with morals traditional and yet freely chosen, chosen so as to not harm others, and to nurture kindness and to enjoy small treats and moments alone with God and moments together with my wife and daughters and cats and foods and drinks and friends – it does not get better than this.

Tonight, on New Years Eve, I’ll make bean soup for dinner, and drink hot tea and relax at home, and not party and not stay up late and not want more and lounge with my wife and daughter in peace, and sleep well with my cats around me.

I’m good with that — and just and only and merely and completely and amazingly and gorgeously that-this-that which is my very own personal that.

The ficus tree in my backyard is huge, and it provides good shade for my whole yard, my pond and my house.

It can get bigger, and I can trim it, I can even cut it too the ground, but as long as it lives it can never go back to being a seed, a first sprout, a simple sapling, a young tree again. It’s roots go deep and spread wide now. At the base the trunk is thick and scared. Such is nature. Once organisms grow, they may reproduce, but they themselves don’t return to their original state and size.

And so too it is with humans. We are physically age-size specific. This also seems to go for our emotional, psychological and spiritual development also. When we have grown out of an immature view of life, then we see with experienced, shaded eyes. When we have surpassed simplistic views, then our concepts will become deep and complex.

This seems to make sense, but it isn’t necessarily alway so.

The other day I was looking through some old journals, the records of my thoughts fifteen years ago.

Fifteen years ago I wrote in a journal that it is “important to take a gentle look in one’s own direction. We are greatly in need of a tolerant, gracious, forgiving attitude toward ourselves. To be able to overlook others imperfections, we must be able to overlook our own.”

Odd, or not, but I have spoken and written the exact same thing, even recently. This idea concerning the importance of self-love is part of my tree, and it has been so for some time. Perhaps, I apply this idea now just a little better than when I first wrote it, but I don’t know. It is still something I am working on, and what began in me has grown to be me, and is still part of the me I am becoming.

Like the trees, we change, we enlarged, we scar, but for the healthy, some things remain the same. We are, when we age well, a compilation of the truths we have gathered along the way. We don’t grow past them, and they don’t necessarily expand on us. With true things, with the best things, “was” tends to be “is,” and “will be.”

I’m not done, not fully grown yet, and I am looking these days to keep changing, to provide more shade for other people, but I want, I plan, and I think it extremely important, to keep my roots, my trunk, my core, my simple, young, beautiful truths always about me.

A mature person — that person shelters within themselves the incipient, pure, stable essence of all they once were that makes them who they are becoming.

Of the best things I have learned this is one — not to let go of gentleness toward myself and others.

“There is a sharp bank there leading down to the river, with big gravel bars at the bottom.”

“Yeah, I know the place,” said Rod. “You park on the left side of the road.”

“That’s right,” said Chuck. “It’s a good spot. People don’t want to go down that bank, but it’s not bad if you’re careful. If you hike on in, then cross the river and fish the pools around the bend, you’ll do well.”

“Sounds good,” I said looking a Rod. This was good information.

I wandered over and looked over Chuck’s tie flying table. It was a mess, of fun stuff — a fly tying vice, spools of different colored thread, feathers, hides, dubbing, hooks, a can of lacquer, a pair of glasses. It was an artist’s studio.

Rod and Chuck were talking flies. “Black ants, number 14 will work, and Brindleshoots,,” said Chuck.

We bought some.

On the way out we patted the dog. In the parking lot there was a rabbit, hunched down under a pickup truck.

“Maybe he is trying to stay warm,” said Rod. It was a good interpretation, but who knew — a rabbit warming himself on a cooling engine? Odd, or maybe not.

It’s hard to tell exactly why creatures do what they do.

As we left Chuck added one bit of advice. “I’d skip the school boy pools at the bottom of the bank,” he said.

We did.

We hiked on in, to what Chuck called the “feeding trough.”

There, along some deep water banks, big Montana clouds overhead, big pine trees leaking their sweet fragrance, we both hooked some nice cutthroat trout.

There is an odd kind of art to living. It comes down to not doing the first things that comes to mind, finding warmth any place that you can, tying flies when you could just buy them, hiking down steep banks, taking advice where you can find it, not settling for the easiest thing, skipping the school boy pools, and fishing the feeding troughs, wherever you can.