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Questioning Faith May 26, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in God, life, Preaching, Sermon.
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Preaching2

There are two things you might know about me – 1.  I’ve been in church all my life (except for a bit of a sabbatical a few years ago) and 2. I have this thing about questions – I like them. A lot.

Some people in my life have seen those two facts as mutually exclusive – One is supposed to accept what one is taught about God and church and the Bible, and not be that difficult person in the back row furiously writing down your questions… or the one in the front row, with a perplexed expression on your face, waving your hand.

Obviously, I don’t agree with those detractors. If I did, I wouldn’t be standing here before you today encouraging you to ask your own questions and keep asking until you get answers. I wouldn’t be here recommending that you question your faith.

Jesus talked about having the faith of a child. Most often I’ve heard this comment explained to mean that children have a simple faith, and believe what they’re told, that children are accepting of their circumstances and trust without question.

 I wonder if the people that say that ever had teenagers. Or a three year old. I wonder if instead Jesus might have been referring to the brutal honesty of children and that prolonged “Why?” stage.

There have been times when my questions have taken me to a very dark place, or maybe it was my dark place that led to my questions. Either way it was a place where I wondered if everything I had been taught and believed was really true, or if it was all an elaborate façade. How could I say that a loving God exists when the world, and my own life, was such a mess? How could I say I believe what’s written in the Bible when parts of it seemed so contradictory or confusing? How could I continue to be involved in church when the people there were such hypocrites? In those periods of intense questioning, I came very, very close to losing my faith.

If you can relate to any of this or have struggled with your own questions, I want to hear an “Amen”.  Did you hear that? You are not alone.

Now before anyone has a panic attack because I’m asking you to question your faith, the first thing I want to establish is what I mean by faith. Very simply, I mean “what is it that each of us, as an individual, believes about God – who is He… or She, how does He relate to us as individuals and to the world in general, and what does it matter what we believe?”

Don’t worry; I’m not going to try to answer any of those questions today. What I hope to do is to encourage you to engage those questions for yourself so that you can better understand your own faith.

The second thing I’d like to say is what faith is NOT, at least the kind of faith that I’m talking about today. Your faith is not the same as your theology. One definition of theology is: The systematic study of the existence and nature of the divine and its relationship to and influence upon other beings. There is a legitimate place for this kind of academic study, but that’s not what I’m discussing today.

 Your theology can be perfect—you can know all the ‘right’ things–and still, your faith can be hollow. You might be able to explain all the points of Calvinism, expound on different views of Atonement, debate Eschatology, Soteriology, Christology and any additional ‘ologies you want to add, and be able to flip to a Scripture to defend every point. And still, you might have no idea who God really is or if any of these points of view matter or is it all just academics?

The second thing that faith is not is Faith is not certainty. I have heard many times that having faith is the same as not having doubt.  Think about when you walked into church this morning, chose your seat and sat down. How many of you consciously thought about whether or not the pew would collapse underneath you or if you could sit down safely? I know when I sit in our pews, I don’t give my safety a second thought.

I don’t believe that the pew will hold me, I am confident, I am certain, the pew is not going to collapse. There is not a doubt in my mind. Now, I’m a big person, there are some chairs that I’m not so certain will hold my weight. Those chairs I sit down carefully and I consciously don’t move around much. I think about how I shift my weight to get more comfortable. I have faith the chair will hold me or I wouldn’t risk sitting, but I’m not 100% certain.

If we are absolutely certain about something, if we ‘know that we know that we know’ and there is no possible question that we might be wrong, then there is no real faith involved.

The third thing that faith is not is that Faith in God is not the same as faith in church. This might be obvious, but we need to be careful not to confuse God with Church. Ideally, God is evident here and we can see how He is working in the lives of our friends and neighbors. Ideally, the form of Organized Religion practiced here at Salem United Methodist Church helps us better understand who God is and enables us to then reach out to the world around us. But the Church is made up of people and, as you may have noticed, people can be pretty messed up. People will break your trust. They will disappoint you, make you angry, hurt you, fight with you, gossip about you. People are going to turn their backs on you when you need them, and sometimes act holier-than-thou while they do it. And guess what? Sometimes you are going to do the same things to them.  I hate to admit it, but sometimes I’m going to do some of these things to some of you.

Why does the Church act like that? Why do we hurt and disappoint each other? I know it might be hard for some of you to accept, but you aren’t perfect. None of us are.  Don’t let your faith, or lack of faith, in people and in the Organized Religion that we call Church, get confused with your faith in God. Love the people around you, give them the grace to be imperfect humans, but don’t confuse their acts and words as coming from God.  Now HOW we do that is a whole ‘nother discussion for another day. Loving and accepting people is definitely hard work.

 I’ve told you what I understand faith to be – what we each believe about God, how He relates to us and why that matters.  And I’ve told you a few things that faith is not – it’s not our theology, it’s not absolute certainty and it’s not our faith in people and the Church – and maybe what I said so far made some of you a little uncomfortable.  Yes! I’ve succeeded!

As you go home today, and over the next week, take some time to think about your faith. Maybe you’ve been in some of those dark places I mentioned earlier. Perhaps you’re there now and you have some serious questions for God. Maybe you’ve resolved those questions, at least for now, and you’re wondering what your faith in God means in relation to how you relate to your neighbors, or even how your faith can be expressed in your politics. Don’t worry, I’m not going there.

The first step is to start right where you are. Drop any notion of “this is what I SHOULD believe” and instead honestly ask yourself “what is it that I DO believe?” We all have a different starting place. Some of you might even be wondering if God even exists. How can we see all the pain and suffering in our lives and in the world and still believe that a loving God is in control?

I once read about a discussion between Rabbi Irwin Kula and an atheist. Kula asked the Atheist “tell me about this God you don’t believe in”. The Atheist spoke of a harsh, remote god who hated groups of people, and who told people to go to war, thereby endorsing murder and genocide. Kula’s response was brilliant. He said “We have much more in common that you think. I don’t believe in that god either.” Once they were able to agree on who God was NOT, they were able to begin to discuss who God MIGHT BE.

Maybe your starting place is that your faith in God isn’t really your own faith. Some of you young people here today, or maybe those of you not so young, might be here because your parent, or your spouse, or someone wants you here, perhaps even forced you to attend today. Maybe you don’t identify yourself as a Christian, or at least not a church attending one.  If you see yourself in what I’m saying, then please take the time to consider what you believe. Don’t simply go with the flow, but take the time to honestly consider who God is and to develop faith that is your own.

And maybe your faith in God is secure. You’ve had your struggles, your doubts, and come out the other end knowing that God is there and He is taking care of you. I invite you to ask questions as well – How can I deepen that faith?  What difference is it making in my life and how I relate to those around me? Am I listening to those around me and helping them figure out their own faith?

None of us ask our questions in a void. We have places to go for answers, or at least places to go to grapple with the questions because sometimes the answers are a long time in coming.

We read about our first resource earlier – the Spirit of truth. Last week Clarissa spoke about God giving us His Holy Spirit at Pentecost and that He is still here today. He may speak to us through Scripture and prayer, or he may speak to us through circumstances or individuals in our lives. Our responsibility is to be listening.

Another resource is the Bible. I will admit that sometimes I read the Bible because I know I am supposed to read the Bible.  And sometimes I go searching for a verse that will prove my point because I want to win an argument (even if it’s just one with myself). Other times I read out of habit, although it is a habit that ebbs and flows, like most of my good habits (why is it so difficult to stay faithful to a good habit and so easy to hang on to the bad ones?).

Even if my approach is wrong, God can still speak to me.

December 4, 2003. I know the date because I wrote it in my Bible. My ex-husband was in prison due to his abuse to the family. I had three children still at home and struggled to pay the bills with an income barely above the poverty level. I would come home after work, change directly into my pajamas, and struggle through the evening on autopilot until the kids were in bed. Then, sometimes, I would open my Bible. I knew I was supposed to find comfort there, but some nights it was just words.  One night I read Psalm 93 and God gave me something to hold onto:

The Lord reigns, he is clothed with majesty:

The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength:

Indeed the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

Your throne is established from of old

You are from everlasting.

God is. He reigns. He is strength. He will not be moved.

The floods have lifted up, O Lord

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

Life is overwhelming. I’m going under for the third time and I don’t know if I’m going to make it. I’m being pummeled on all sides and I can’t take it much longer.

More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The Lord on high is mighty.

Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O Lord, forevermore

God is bigger. He is bigger than my pain, bigger than my problems, bigger than my fears. God is there and He is and always was.

 That was the message the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart that night and that I wrote in my Bible with the date so I wouldn’t forget:

God is.

Life is overwhelming.

God is bigger.

Understanding and believing that message gave me an anchor for my faith and a reminder to turn to when the questions popped up again.

I have one last thought to share with you today – it is something I learned from Grace Imathiu at Faith Alive a few months ago. She said:

“Doubt is the ants in our pants that keeps us awake and alert spiritually”

I invite you to embrace that doubt and ask those questions. Think about what your faith in God really means. Let your questions and your doubt bring you to a deeper understanding of what you believe. And then, encourage each other by sharing your faith. Let it change your life so that you can reach out and share that faith with those around you.

Amen

Sermon today at Salem United Methodist Church

Why I never feel caught up March 16, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Goals, life, Procrastination.
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It’s eleven o’clock and I’ve been up for two hours (woo hoo for sleeping in once in awhile). So far today I’ve accomplished the following:

  • Drank two large glasses of water
  • Drank my daily half-pot of coffee (Mexican Chiapas from Dean’s Beans)
  • Took one batch of yogurt out of the yogurt maker and put another one in
  • Put away about a third of the dishes I washed yesterday (I really hate putting dishes away)
  • Listened to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and This American Life
  • Figured out what I’m making for the bake sale at work this week (raising money for a co-worker’s international adoption)
  • Mixed up some marinade (using the fresh yogurt and this sauce) and added chicken. I’m not sure if this will be dinner tonight or lunch after church tomorrow
  • Made a grocery list for the things I need for the bake sale (since I’ve nibbled away at the chocolate chips I thought were in my cupboard
  • Packaged up the “Clean the Refrigerator/Freezer Chili” that simmered away in the crock-pot yesterday into individual servings and fit them in the freezer
  • Caught up on Facebook and e-mail

Whew, I’ve been busy. I think it was the decent amount of sleep last night (plus the fact that the coffee has not yet been diluted with actual food). I still have more that must be accomplished today (or at least by the end of the weekend but it’s better if I get it done today so I have some time this weekend that I can call my own).

  • Mail a package (I’ve already missed the window for mailing from my little local post office. They are only open from 8:30-10:30 on Saturdays. If I don’t get to the bigger post office (in the opposite direction of where I’m going grocery shopping) it won’t get mailed until Tuesday. If I don’t get it mailed today, it will at least be ready to take to the post office. The label is written and the item is in a box, so I’m more than halfway there.
  • Get those groceries
  • Make one of the bake sale items (the other will be done Tuesday evening)
  • Log into work (I’ll either get up early and do this before church tomorrow (and then nap away the afternoon) or work after church)
  • Do some housework (that one never ends)
  • Pick up the library book on hold (Forrest Gump, the novel. I didn’t even know it was a novel before it was a movie until I saw a post on Reddit this week. I was so intrigued it popped to the top of my reading list)

Oh, and I should probably get changed out of my pajamas at some point.

I used to think I was just really bad at time management and honestly, I’m sure there is some truth in that. I make lots of lists, and I like having a routine, but I don’t do well with a schedule. Plus, I generally under-estimate how long tasks are going to take me. When I’m making those lists, I seem to think it’s reasonable for a Saturday to-do list to be twice as long as what I’ve written here.

Today, after I get all that stuff above out of the way, I’m going to spend some time feeding my creative side and sew. Or maybe I’ll get dressed, eat something , run those errands and sew away the rest of the day away. Those other obligations aren’t going away. I need to remember — no one will die if everything doesn’t get checked off the list today.

The fog is lifting February 21, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Depression, life, thoughts, Uncategorized.
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I’ve been a bit distracted the past week or so and my writing has suffered. . As my last post indicates, I spent much of the week in a fit of depression. I’m not often hit by those crawl-under-the-covers-and-call-in-sick-to-life spells. There have only been a small handful of times when I just couldn’t face the world. Those episodes usually hit the day after a particularly emotionally grueling issue with my ex or kids. On the other hand, I have for years struggled with a constant, vague unease and even called myself a “high functioning depressive.” I recently found out this actually has a name — Dysthymia.

According to Web MD, the symptoms of dysthymia are the same as those of major depression but not as intense:

  • sadness or depressed mood most of the day or almost every day
  • loss of enjoyment in things that were once pleasurable
  • major change in weight (gain or loss of more than 5% of weight within a month) or appetite
  • insomnia or excessive sleep almost every day
  • physically restless or rundown that is noticeable by others
  • fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  • feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness or excessive guilt almost every day
  • problems with concentration or making decisions almost every day
  • recurring thoughts of death or suicide, suicide plan, or suicide attempt

One of the main symptoms is this is a chronic condition, lasting for years. I once read a line from Dustin Hoffman where he said “”It’s not that I’m really depressed, I’m just a little bit sad all the time.” (I’m sure he said that much more eloquently–I’m going on memory here and I can’t remember where I read it. I can’t go back and verify and I’m not finding the quote easily online. I did however find this statement that I totally identify with:  “It’s tactile, a green knot in my stomach”. That doesn’t really fit in what I’m writing here but I  couldn’t leave it out entirely. It captures perfectly how I felt for years, so here you go. Now, back to the subject at hand…) I’ve lived with that vague sense of sadness far too long, telling myself that what I felt was normal, or that it would get better soon. Meanwhile the reality was that I trudged through life as though I was wading through hip deep mud.

Last year I decided I’d had enough and talked to my doctor. We worked out a plan to address the depression and it has been working well. At least it was working well until a couple of weeks ago when it was as though someone flipped a switch that knocked all the wind out of my sails. There it was, staring me in the face again. I called my doctor, we adjusted the plan, and here I am, making my way out of the fog.

In the midst of the fog, life has continued marching on. Valentine’s Day, possibly my least favorite holiday, came and went. In my opinion, the best thing about Valentine’s Day is the half-priced chocolate on February 15. Half Price Chocolate Day is a holiday I look forward to eagerly. I confess–some of that chocolate made its way home with me.

I’ll post an update soon on my grocery adventures and the relative success of my no spending money year. Soon, but not tonight as it’s past my bedtime and that darned alarm goes off way too early. Sweet Dreams my friends.

Today is the day January 23, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Comfort Zone, life, thoughts.
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Today is the day.

Today is the day I stop playing games with myself, thinking I can pretend I don’t know what I’m doing. If I say my goal is to eat healthier so I can lose weight and BE healthier, then I need to reach for that goal. Eating cookies for breakfast is not a healthy choice. Cookies are a treat, a once-in-a-while, special occasion treat. They aren’t breakfast food (and they weren’t that exciting either).

Today is the day I clip on the pedometer and notice how much I’m moving, even if I happen to be working from home and only moving from my chair to the coffee pot and back. If at 2:00 the pedometer tells me I walked only 344 steps, then I need to face the truth that I walked only 344 steps. Pretending I’m somehow being more active does not help me on my journey. I need to be honest about how much I’m moving or not moving today because then maybe I will see the need to change.

Today is the day I begin to learn to do only one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is well and good when it means the dishwasher is running while I’m working because I loaded it when I took a break. Multi-tasking is the enemy of peace when it means I cannot focus on any one thing because I’m trying to do too many things. I cannot participate on a call, format a report and respond to e-mail at the same time and do any of them well.  I need to be in this moment, giving myself fully to whatever I am doing now. When I attempt to do too many things at once everything is shortchanged.

Today is the day.

My Day January 13, 2013

Posted by phoenixhopes in Kids, Knitting, life, teens.
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Today this happened

PadKeeMaoTofu Pad Kee Mao at Siam Cafe. Every time I go there I think I should try something new but when I do, I always wish I got Pad Kee Mao instead. So I stuck with what I know I love. Of course we had our favorite Sticky Rice with Ginger Garlic Sauce as an appetizer. Lucky me! I have leftovers in the fridge!

And this happened

ShoppingBagNew shoes from Target. (“What? You want to take a picture of my shopping bag? Why would you want to do that? OK. Whatever…”)

My companion for the day

WaitingHisTurn

Claims that we weren’t really here

TheVoiceAudition“Um, mom, why are you taking that picture. You aren’t going to put that on Facebook are you?”

Nope, not Facebook…

But if we weren’t there, waiting for hours and hours and hours, where did I find all the time to do this?

MittenWhen I started the day it was just sticks and string and now look, it’s almost a mitten… or a glove… or maybe both. (I really need to learn to take better pictures of my knitting.)

I think we had a great day.

 

Re-entering Reality September 16, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in life, lists, thoughts.
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I used to be a bit suspicious of hermits. After all, isn’t someone who chooses to go off by themselves for long periods of time, without even an internet connection, a bit of an odd duck? Truthfully, I’m an introvert by nature and require time alone to recharge my batteries. I’ve been known to spend a weekend holed up in my apartment, without talking to another person (as long as “talking” is defined as using my voice — I still plug in electronically via e-mail, Facebook and text). Instead my days are spent reading, creating, puttering, sleeping. Exactly what I was up to during that time was not important; the fact that I was doing it alone was the good part. But those people who go for weeks, months or even years without engaging another soul… I just couldn’t fathom it. Until now.

At this moment my brain is full and my heart is overflowing. I’m on overload and need time to process it all. There are so many thoughts I need to get out of my head and onto paper (or into the computer as the case may be) that it’s difficult to compose even a list, much less choose what comes first. I’d like to curl up with a journal and write until my hand cramps so badly I need to use the other hand to pry the pen out of my fingers. Once the Advil kicks in and my hand recovers from that writing session, I’ll move to the keyboard and empty more of my thoughts into the the digital archive. Maybe after a week or two of brain dump I might be ready to make sense of it all and format it into something intelligible. I want to ditch my normal life and hide out and become a writer. I think that means I want to be a hermit.

For now, this is only a fantasy. “Real life” is calling: back to the office in the morning, e-mail and paper mail to sort through, checking the news to find out what happened in the world while I was away for the weekend, catching up with family and friends. I wish I could wait a little while before entering that world. Unfortunately, I’m out of vacation time for awhile and can’t justify calling in sick so it’s back to that reality I go. And yet… and yet… I must find a way to make the time to write, to get the words and ideas and beauty and pain out of my head an into a language others can understand.

I started my journey this year with the goal to simply be more mindful in my life. The first month of the year is barely half over and already my direction is changing. Perhaps it is more accurately stated that my direction is expanding. Yes, I want to be mindful, but what does that mean and what does it include?

This morning I sat outside with my coffee, breathing in the country-style quiet, listening to the bird calls and the breeze in the leaves, and considering what it was I didn’t want to forget. I pulled out my phone and sent myself a text. (Please tell me I’m not the only one that does this — I send notes from my phone to my e-mail with some regularity.) This is what I want to see in my life and by extension, what is likely to show up on this blog. It’s not a complete list by any means, but it’s a partial list of what is important to my journey today.

Live mindfully

Give generously, with an open hand

Love freely, without judgement

Listen to the wind

Ponder, and document those ponderings

Say yes as much as possible, but don’t be afraid to say no when appropriate

Remember what is important; let that shape my life

A vacation into hermitude might be nice to jumpstart my creativity but it is rather unlikely I’ll be given that opportunity any time soon. Or any time ever. Rather than becoming a hermit my challenge is to apply that first item and live my life in such a way that that I have time to write. I can’t stop life and take a season to do nothing but write and process my thoughts. I can remember that writing is important and learn to structure my life in a way that shows it’s priority.

On Comfort Zones and Finding Magic September 3, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in Comfort Zone, life, thoughts.
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On occasion, when my pastor is preaching, my mind wanders off on a rabbit trail. It starts with something she said, but then, well, I stop paying attention and go off on my own little tangent for awhile. It happened again yesterday. Clarissa quoted from the book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Gotta Get Out of the Boat (or maybe she just quoted the book title – I, uh, stopped listening for a bit) and said our Fears are our Boats. That got me thinking…. What is it I’m afraid of? Really, truly afraid and not simply unnecessarily worried? Probably just one thing/person – my ex-husband. This is the only fear that causes nightmares and it’s a healthy fear, born from reality. Although I cannot let it control me and limit my life, I am wise to be aware and to be wary.

There is so much more than true fear that holds me back, so much more that keeps me in the boat. It’s not fear but instead it’s that damn Comfort Zone. Last night, as I was falling asleep I wondered… Is there anything inherently wrong or dangerous with wanting to be comfortable? Wrong or dangerous, probably not. But it certainly is limiting. If my goal is to stay comfortable there is so much of life I will avoid. If I’m avoiding things in life, then I’m not really living it to it’s fullest.

Of course, there are some things I’ve tried and know they are just not my cup of tea. Rollercoasters. The last time I went on one, maybe 8 or 10 years ago, I decided I was old enough to embrace the fact that they do not bring me even one tiny ounce of joy. I know the scare is part of the appeal but I just don’t get it. I spend the time in line with a knot in the pit of my stomach and spend the ride with my eyes clenched shut, screaming in panic. There is no release when it’s over. I just want to collapse in the bushes until the waves of panic are done, and never, ever do that again. I feel no compulsion to challenge that comfort zone.

Or Lima Beans, the nastiest food God invented. I will never willingly eat a Lima Bean. Please, if you ever invite me for dinner, don’t serve Lima Beans.

Beyond those few things I’ve tried and know they just aren’t for me, what do I gain by staying comfortable? Perhaps the better question is – what have I gained by pushing my limits?

My Comfort Zone keeps me safe. I know what to expect. I don’t have to think much. When I’m living here I tend to eat the same foods, read the same blogs (the ones I know I’ll agree with), work on easy projects, think the same thoughts and hang out with the same people. Living in my Comfort Zone is easy. I’m not challenged (or if I am, I put my fingers in my ears and sing “La, la, la, la… I can’t hear you”).

Sometimes, living here is what I need. I pull my Comfort Zone over me like a cocoon protecting me from the outside world. It can be a place of healing and restoration after one of “those” weeks. It is the solace of an old friend who knows me almost better than I know myself. My Comfort Zone is rest.

If living inside the Comfort Zone is rest, stepping outside is growth. This is where I learn to listen, to let go of my preconceptions, to really see. It is challenging myself to try new things. When I step outside I meet new (and usually interesting) people. My world gets bigger. I learn I am braver, stronger and smarter than I ever imagined was possible.

Stepping outside my bubble is not always my choice. Sometimes those who know (and hopefully love) me “volunteer” me for responsibilities or activities I would never choose on my own. Sometimes the crap that happens in life shoves me out and barricades the door. Living outside my Comfort Zone does not always feel magical. It can feel lonely and painful and insecure and I don’t like being there. I might not choose to step outside my Comfort Zone and it may take a while to find my way back to that safety and rest but, when I am outside, in the unknown, I will always learn and grow. The bonus is, if I look hard enough, I’ll also find the magic.

Just remember, I implore you, no Lima Beans.

My Very Own Personal Fiscal Year September 1, 2012

Posted by phoenixhopes in Consumerism, Goals, life, New Years, thoughts, Uncategorized.
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Later this month I turn 54, solidly in my mid-fifties, no hiding from middle age. (Honestly, I don’t expect to live to 100 or more so shouldn’t the fifties be called something other than middle age?) The main thing that I think about when I consider my age is that I really thought I’d have my life together by now. Instead, here I am still desperately trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve decided to stop trying to figure that out and simply be who I am today. I am a woman, a mother, a friend, a church member, an employee. I read for fun, for information, for escape and watch movies and tv for the same reasons. I’m an introvert who can sometimes be quite outgoing. I’m single for now (hopefully not forever but I will never again compromise who I am to be with someone). I have trust issues: I’ll trust you until you hurt me and then I may never trust you again. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I have a difficult time-saving money because there always seems to be something important and urgent to spend it on. I was surprised to find out I like preaching. I tend to over commit. I am a much calmer person when I have a creative outlet of some sort. Sometimes I over think things. I like reading about politics but not so much discussing it. I’m rather competitive and not a very gracious loser. I hate being put on the spot. To sum it all up: I’m a complex person and although most of the time I’m satisfied with who I am, I can see at least some of my flaws well enough to want to work on them.

I decided to see the next twelve months as my very own personal fiscal year. A new birthday equals a new beginning. I want to take stock of where I am and think about where I want to be twelve months from now. My main goal is to be more mindful about my life – am I living a life that is consistent with what I say are my values? Where is my money going? How am I spending my time? How is my soul? What satisfies me?

I’ll use the blog to share the journey.

A Happiness Moment February 22, 2010

Posted by phoenixhopes in Books, Goals, life.
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Check out the comments under my last post… the author of The Happiness Project stopped by! I noticed Gretchen’s comment while I was at work today and boy, did that make my day. It was a small act on her part, but she took the time to take a look at my little corner of the internet and leave me a smile. I’ve been grinning ever since.

Saturday January 11, 2009

Posted by phoenixhopes in life.
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I was voluntarily snowed in yesterday. I’m not sure exactly how much snow we received in the past couple days but it was enough to be inconvenient. Eight inches at least, maybe more. The snow plows were busy and I’m guessing the roads passable but I chose to have a slow Saturday at home.

I slept in a little — late enough to feel indulgent but not so late as to feel lazy — and rescheduled my only outside obligation (the hair cut can wait another week). The past few weeks have been so busy, what with the Holidays from Thanksgiving to New Years, and all the other obligations of a busy life, I haven’t had a weekend that was truly my own in a very long time. I suppose this weekend isn’t fully my own either as I need to spend most of today logged into work but yesterday was the Sabbath I needed to recharge my batteries.

Most of the day was spent plopped on the couch. Knitting on  a couple of scarves — finished the scarf that was turning into a chore — boring yarn, simple pattern  (it served it’s purpose as mindless knitting to bring along to Christmas but the last quarter of the scarf turned into obligation rather than fun) and added 6″ to my cheap alternative to the Noro Two Row Scarf. I’m using cheap acrylic yarn but I love it anyway — it’s soft and smooshy, drapes like a dream, and is just plain pretty. I don’t think I’ll be giving this one away.

I worked on the stack of movies on the coffee table — Darjeeling Limited (a bit slow but worth the time), Surviving Christmas (Very funny), Princess Bride (the movie that never gets old no matter how many times I watch it) — and watched the food shows on PBS (I love Jaques Pepin). I didn’t even know the football playoffs would be on Saturday. I didn’t have a favorite so could cheer for both teams.

I didn’t cook much. The resident Teen Boy cooked bacon and I added omeletes about 3:00 and that was it. The rest of the day was spent grazing (although I did get all the dishes washed and found there actually is a counter in the kitchen)

The day ended at a reasonable hour curled in bed with The Gun Seller. Boy am I glad my kids recommended this book!

Today is not so free and I should already be attacking my ever-growing to-do list. The laundry has been started (yeah! no one else in the apartment building had already snagged the washer and dryer). The next thing on the list is to pull out the crockpot and start a batch of “clean the fridge soup” with the starring role in the mix going to some salsa-ish flavored turkey breast. Then comes the work obligation that will steal most of the day (not so much fun but it keeps a roof over our heads).

If I was one to make resolutions I would resolve to carve out more days spent relaxing and refreshing that inner me. I feel so much more ready to face the next few days after a day spent breathing deeply.