Thankful List

I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons: a short work week, yummy food, football, Black Friday tradition with my sister, watching Hunger games movies the past few years.  It’s an opportunity to relax and unwind without all the commercialism.

IMG_0455

While I don’t want this to go on and on, I do want to reflect on what I’m grateful for in this past year.

  • Officially receiving a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. The ability to move forward in my healing journey.
  • Walking many Indy neighborhoods.  Enjoying the fresh air of many mornings while I wasn’t working.
  • Two families who let me live with them for several months each.
  • Friends who let me talk in circles as I lived into all the questions and fears I had about my vocation and chronic illness.
  • Year-round farmer’s markets in Indy.
  • The ability to return to work. Now working in a more sustainable way.
  • Spiritual Direction training and community
  • Buying meat and fish in bulk 🙂
  • A new apartment to call home and living with my best friend
  • Chelsea is still in remission

Have a lovely Thanksgiving week, friends.  What are you thankful for?

Advertisements

Unemployed Adventures

This past week I decided to dive in and enjoy the beautiful weather and my last week off work. (This week I’m starting tutoring at the Dyslexia Institute.  I’m really looking forward to it.)

One day I ventured off into historic Irvington, a neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis.  I walked the Pleasant Run Trail, drank coffee and rummaged through old books at BookMama’s, buying a few poetry collections.

IMG_0459

The next day I drove to Bargersville, a southern suburb of Indy and enjoyed wine tasting at a local winery with a friend from my Sunday school class at Redeemer who reminded me to keep writing.

IMG_0460

I enjoyed getting the kitchen messy by making beef and butternut stew along with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I re-read Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine and got excited to keep cooking.  I started reading Anne of the Island and thought back to Anne Shirley re-runs yearly growing up.

Several times throughout the week, as I would pause and think about ups and downs of the last year, and simply say, “I feel content.” Life is not what I thought, but I’m content.  I’m someone who loves adventures, books, walking, nature.

I felt free to be, to simply enjoy and delight, to take life slowly.  

I’m still someone who prizes efficiency, checking boxes off the list, and I need to be reminded to just be.  To enjoy. To delight. To leave my schedule behind, or throw it away.

These unemployed adventures help ground me to the present moment, that in paying attention to the moment truly does give me joy.

What adventures have you taken recently?

Autumn 2015

Last week I wrote about my time of solitude at Eagle Creek Park.  I gazed into flaming reds, rusty oranges, and bright yellows and sensed that I too was being made beautiful like these trees.

This year, I’ve grown in my ability to mourn, to show hospitality towards myself, to be deeply committed to a friend.  I’ve set up rhythms and traditions, I’m more present-minded, and I’m willing to pursue my longings while knowing my limits.

IMG_0456

Yesterday I went back to Eagle Creek for a walk.  Leaves were no longer on the trees.  Yet beauty was still everywhere.  Leaves lined the trail and the barren trees allowed the lake to be more visible.  This year was also a year of loss.  I’ve given up my job and some friendships.  Within these losses I see the Lord slowly stripping away my future-oriented planner self, my pride, arrogance and people-pleasing ways.

Autumn is a time of loss but also a time of beauty.

Join me in doing some self-reflection: How are you being made more beautiful right now?

Brisk Morning Walks

This week, my mornings were free.  So I would bundle up and step out into 37 degrees, drive to a gravel path along the canal, and start walking north.  Each day I would observe more hues of orange, yellow and red.  By Thursday, there were numerous baby ducks following their mothers, darting leaves floating along. I discovered an access point to the Museum of Art and a side entrance to the Museum’s neighboring park, filled with quirky metal benches and intricate statues.

IMG_0448

In the busy day-to-day, I forget how much I long to be in nature.  How nature gives my soul space to rest and to expand.  Nature creates no agenda except to linger, to enjoy, to rest, to observe and seek its beauty.  All beautiful gifts.  As I keep digging into this ancient practice of spiritual direction, I find that this is what I desire all my waking hours to be like.  Nature gives me a beautiful glimpse into how God desires to be with me.  A relationship in which I linger, He enjoys me and allows me to rest, I seek his beauty both individually and corporately.

Autumn also invites me to examine:

In which ways am I being made more beautiful? 

What layers or old habits am I shedding?

More on these questions next post…

Destination: Chicago

This past week was fall break and Chels and I spent some time in Chicago visiting some college friends of mine and exploring the city.  We ate lots of good food, rode the train, took long walks in quiet neighborhoods, saw wonderful skyline views.  Simple, yet special.

IMG_0050                                                                          “Cheating” and eating Chicago deep dishIMG_0048

Beautiful skyline view from Grant Park

IMG_0425

              Waiting for the train

IMG_0430

Death of a Dream-First Draft

Death of Dream

Slowly my body

crumples. Autumn creates

creaky bones. Arms lay

limp, aches

accelerate. I arise from bed

take a gulp of water, attempt to

touch my toes. As I age, my body

perceives seasons. My body is slowly

dying.

In summer, I remember barefeet,

around the world basketball, sticky

hands from ice cream. A world where

Candyland seemed real. The season

where my right foot launched from a 9 in.

board, propelling my legs forward

fourteen feet, landing triumphantly

in the sand.

Winter is coming

soon. Hibernation and hot

chocolate. Warmth lingers

by sitting still, pondering this

perennial season.

I wrote this poem as I leave teaching as a profession, as I grieve my daily body’s weariness, as I daily grieve dreams left unrealized. Yet daily and slowly I’m learning to sit and feel the warmth that winter does bring, even if I only realize it later.

Tears and Pumpkin Pancakes

Leaves are just starting to turn here in Indy.  To welcome fall, there is plenty of fall baking.  I’ve made applesauce, apple crisp, pumpkin bars, a breakfast pumpkin porridge made with butternut squash, and pumpkin pancakes.  In our apartment we are burning an oatmeal cookie candle almost daily.  We now are buying fall flowers for our kitchen table, filled with hues of orange, yellow, red, accented with a deep purple.  Spices of choice are cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin and cloves.

IMG_0015IMG_0016

Yes, fall is beginning in all of its glory.  And I love fall so much.

But I must also admit that fall means acknowledging a slow (but maybe fast) descent into winter. Into hibernation. Stillness. Cold. Isolation. For everything there is a season.

And in this subtle, beautiful autumn, I’m starting to grieve.  Morning tears surface as I acknowledge that I’m walking away from teaching.  I’m leaving a profession I thought that I loved.  I cry because I’m sad that I have an autoimmune disease and it feels like some days I spend all of my energy trying to manage my environment.  I’m not as flexible as I wish I could be.  I grieve as I fight to leave my old self behind: one that wants to defend myself at all costs, to please others, simply to conform and fit in.

As I eat my pumpkin pancakes and wipe the tears from my eyes, I’m reminded that I’m being remade.  It’s hard work, painful and lonely, yet I’m being shaped into someone only the Father knows.

What are you enjoying this autumn season?

What are you grieving? How are you changing?

Dinner on the Farm

Wow!  It’s been a crazy few weeks.  There’s lots to update, but the biggest update is that I’m officially stepping down from teaching.  I’m entering into my final two weeks.  Teaching is much too demanding for my body and I need to do a job that is more integrative into the life I’m currently living.  I have a “shadow day” at a local breakfast and lunch place on the northside next week, to see where my niche would be at this restaurant.  I’ll keep you posted!

But the title of this post brings us to this past Tuesday night.  Chels and I had dinner at a restaurant on a dairy farm.  It was a perfect getaway into the “country” and to go to a place that feels like “us.”  The interior of the restaurant was simple, yet elegant.

Chels.Lyss.Loft

Wildflowers in an everyday vase.  White tablecloths.  Wood all around.  A second story barn looking onto the farm.  Waitresses and waiters who moved slowly.  The pace on the farm slows down.

Chels and I could soak in the beauty and dream.   We talked about our fall break plans, trying to cut off the school talk.  We laughed and observed other couples, explaining to each other if we liked their interactions.  It was our kind of place.  Simple. Quality food. Purposeful and elegant.  A place where we could rest.

Tuesday night dinners out is a weekly rhythm we both love.  We cook so long during the week, prioritizing the benefits of healing foods.  Yet on Tuesdays we get to enjoy quality food that someone else makes, so our minds aren’t so focused on logistics.  We don’t feel so isolated, out of the confines of our apartment.

Thanks Chels for dinner on the farm!

Parker Palmer Quote

Yesterday, I read the small book Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer in its entirety.  It was a nourishing read.  I’m going to post one quote now, but will probably comment on this book in posts to come.

Let-Your-Life-Speak

The God whom I know dwells quietly in the root system of the very nature of things.  This is the God who, when asked by Moses for a name, responded, “I Am who I Am,” an answer that has less to do with the moral rules for which Moses made God famous than with elemental “isness” and selfhood.  If, as I believe, we are all made in God’s image, we could all give the same answer when asked who we are: “I AM who I Am.” One dwells with God by being faithful to one’s nature.  One crosses God by trying to be something one is not.  Reality-including one’s own-is divine, to be not defied, but honored.

School of Spiritual Direction Recap

Good morning friends,

This past weekend I started my SOSD class, and it was wonderful.  Eighteen of us sat in the living room of this lovely room and learned together.  I felt at ease and full of joy.  My fatigue still dipped as these two full days went on, but they also were energizing days.  As Saturday evening approached, I asked myself “Why?” The answer I settled on surprised me.

SFI

Because the fatigue from Hashimoto’s affects my entire body, I want to be able to enter into my work with my entire body.  I crave stillness and silence and I’m word weary.  Teaching means I speak a lot.  And there’s a part of me that knows that soon I will enter a season in which I will teach through my silence, my stillness, appropriate touch and looks of compassion. I sense that spiritual direction is a way of entering into a practice with my entire being-and I wondered for so long if I would ever feel this again.

I know I’m also entering a season in which people will ask “What is spiritual direction?”  Here’s my working definition right now:

Spiritual direction is a relationship of accompaniment, between director and directee, in which the director listens compassionately and asks spiritual questions of the directee, helping the directee to notice the presence and work of God in his or her everyday life.

With hopefulness, I get to read, practice, and learn about the practice and art of spiritual direction, hoping that soon this ministry will be more prominent in my life.  There are 4 more teaching weekends from now until May and in between sessions there’s reading, writing, practicing and receiving spiritual direction.

Thanks to all of you for journeying with me, and affirming my life’s story, my winding journey in which the Lord continues to clarify my desires, longings, and calling.