Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Funnies

From a trip to Stockholm.
I have no idea what this says, but I know exactly what it means!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My heart is here today

The flooding in England is vastly affecting the Midlands, my old stomping grounds. I've driven nearly every inch of Worcestershire and 1/2 of Hereford while I worked there and know these towns mentioned in the article well. These folks are are near and dear to my heart since they were my friends, colleagues and clients for nearly 2 years.

If you're a praying person, then please pray for their safety.

What You Do With What You've Got

This performance is a beautiful example of the exact point where talent, teamwork and passion meet. The song seems to come up out of their souls, through their bodies, and out, as a blessing to cover the entire audience.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Thoughts on Spirituality

One of the goals I've set for myself on 43Things is "Explore My Spirituality". It's been an interesting task so far.

Ever since I was in my 20s I knew that the stuff I grew up hearing was not something I really believed. That's when I had series of nightmares about the "rapture" and my lack of belief in what I'd been taught.

Lately, I thought about those dreams again and started exploring what it is I do believe and what it is I don't believe, even though I'm "supposed" to. Still not 100% sure where things will end up, but thanks to being reconnected with a much loved friend from my childhood church, I do understand a bit more about WHY I believe some of the things I do and why "christianity" as I've known it just doesn't make sense.

A few months ago, I was ready to completely walk away from the church, Christianity, God, whatever you want to call it, but through our discussions, I've come to learn that the stuff we were taught was just plain wacked so perhaps I haven't really given it a fair chance after all. Maybe I should spend some more time exploring before moving on to something else.

I'm not quite sure how to sort the wacked from the unwacked, however, the one thing I know for sure, is that the universe wasn't created by itself. It's much too complex to have been created out of some cosmic accident or big bang. There has to have been something that created everything and that's true even if there was no Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark or Jonah and the Whale. Even if there was no resurection Sunday, Friday or Monday (which ever day it was)
Even if everything else we've been taught in Sunday School is wrong....

The universe just couldn't have created itself. Think about it....Nothing could have naturally evolved into a cockroach....or broccoli.

For everything created, there is a creator. Simple.

There’s a big debate going on right now between converative christians and a group of folks called the emerging church. Actually, the debate is a bit one sided. The conservatives are the only ones interested in debating as far as I can tell. The emerging folks are too busy living their lives.

The group of emerging folks I’ve found myself most attracted to are highly creative, open and prefer to spend their time creating communities, art and music. They engage people in various locations by various means. I've been watching how they relate to and with each other, and they are wholy supportive with each other's exploration ideas of God, Jesus and the big questions of life. It's been through recently participating in this group's innovations, not effort, that I've found myself reconnecting with God. It's been a relief frankly, to find that I'm not totally shut off from Him because I don't have the "right" thoughts about Him.

Meanwhile…the conservatives are off nitpicking each other and everyone else to death. Condemning to hell everyone that doesn’t believe exactly like they do, sharing each other’s "sins" for all to see and refusing to listen to the voice of anyone with whom they disagree. To me, American Evangelical christians have turned so far inward and become so afraid, that they can't create anything, except chaos and fear. That's not where I want to live the rest of my life.

Even if they are "right", they are so miserable, that most people prefer being "wrong".

After spending the last year or so amongst some of the conservative group and now doing the work of recoverying creativity in The Artist's Way, I am sure of one thing more. My spirtuality is not one of being consumed about figuring out “right thinking” - of reading the right books, knowing the right quotes, following the right men. Instead, it's about being more open, pragmatic, and expressive.

Perhaps I'm a heretic, castaway or a backsliden pagan...I'm not sure exactly what label applies here and frankly, I don't give a damn any more. I'm sick of wearing everyone else's labels.
Heck, I might even try something new, ambiguious or downright brazen and see what other kinds of labels I can aquire. I have quite a collection already.

Which of course means, at least according to my old friends, I'm destined to hell for sure. Some how the threat of that has lost it's hold on me. I just know I'll never have all the "right" answers, I'll never pass God's "cosmic quiz for perfect christian living" and it's gotten to the point where I just don't even want to try any more. I give up.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe God does want us to spend our life here on Earth miserable , studying all the time and tearing down those different from ourselves.

Somehow, I just don't think so.

Do you?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday Funnies

Meat Cake. Even the words are funny! Reminds me of Marie Antoinette's famous phrase, when she was told the peasants were starving, "Let them meat cake" ;-)

I have NO doubt that this is destined to become a new tradition in our family. As soon as the guys see this, they are going to want one of their own. No question! It'll go along with the meat salad we saw in Munich which they talked about for days afterwards.
The description of how this cake is made is worth the time to read. Very creative and funny! My favorite bit is the part about how to pronounce Worchestershire. That's the part of England where I worked and it took me the better part of a month before I could say it without thinking about it. Her explaination made me laugh!
Then be sure and look through the Meat Cake picture gallery for a few more laughs.
(HT to Jeff at Flyministry for the link)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The F Word

The Forgiveness Project is a place where people deal with conflict resolution, forgiveness and reconcilliation through the power of story. It gives voice to people who have encountered violence, hatred and prejudice and who share their lessons on forgiveness with others.

There are some very strong people represented here and every one of their voices deserves to be heard.

Thank you to those willing to share their stories with the rest of us and to those who provide the place to do it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Reading Allowed

Finished the week of Reading Deprevation which frankly, shocked me.

It was tough because reading is such a habit for me. I take a book every where I go and read to keep from becoming impatient while waiting, bothered when I'm on a plane or pitied when I'm dining alone. It's the thing I use to keep myself from getting completely bored with the rest of the world at times.

Not having that defensive tool was a bit anxiety provoking at times this week. I felt myself becoming a bit irritable and out of sorts on occassion.

The most difficult part was keeping myself from sitting in the recliner at the end of the day, playing something off iTunes and “numbing out” by reading blogs. Found myself “cheating” a bit on that one from time to time out of habit and was surprised at how much time I just sat there staring at the screen, bouncing back and forth from blog to blog, mindlessly reading but not posting. No redeeming value at all really. Exactly like mindlessly watching tv.

Think this exercise was worth doing because it forced me to be aware of other places to put my energy and attention. Being on a reading fast meant I couldn’t just pick up a book and ignore the pile of laundry in the hamper or the stack of dishes in the sink. Oddly, I found myself glad to see the stack of dishes because honestly, I was getting as bored as a kid on the third month of summer vacation.

I got quite a bit of housework done, listened to lots of music, listened to 6-7 TED Talks, talked on the phone to my nephew and brother, went out with a friend for coffee, and other friends for dinner and went to bed early. Most importantly, got all my photos organized, catagorized and edited.

The exercise is designed to get people to stop living in their heads and instead using all the senses to engage the world around them. That was definately the case with me. Although I felt a bit frustrated at times because I didn’t know what to do with my time or where to focus my energy, I got more done than I had been lately. Also, I slept alot more soundly than normal too.
Once I got passed the anxiety of not knowing what to do with myself, I felt more peaceful and serene too. More "centered" and focused too.

Hopefully, this exercise has begun to teach me how to take advantage of opportunities to be more fully present with the world instead of being face down in a book or a computer screen.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sunday Funnies

It seems more and more that physicians are running their practices like an assembly line. For example, here's what happened recently to Bubba.

Bubba walked into a doctor's office and the receptionist asked him what he had. Bubba said: "Shingles." So she wrote down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat.

Fifteen minutes later a nurse's aide came out and asked Bubba what he had.
Bubba said, "Shingles." So she wrote down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told Bubba to wait in the examining room.

A half hour later a nurse came in and asked Bubba what he had. Bubba said, "Shingles." So the nurse gave Bubba a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, and told Bubba to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.

An hour later the doctor came in and found Bubba sitting patiently in the nude and asked Bubba what he had. Bubba said, "Shingles." The doctor asked, "Where?"

Bubba said, "Outside on the truck. Where do you want me to unload 'em??"

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Reading Depravation

Week 4 of "The Artist's Way".

One of the exercises that Julia Cameron suggests in the book is "Reading Depravation". A week long, deliberate fast from reading newspapers, magazines, books, and blogs. She explains her reasoning this way, "For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilzers. We have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up. Like greasy food, it clogs our system. To much of it and we feel, yes, fried."

She goes on to say "Without distractions, we ae once again thrust into the sensory world. With no novel to sink into (and no television to numb us out) an evening becomes a vast savannah in which furniture - and outher assumptions - gets rearranged.......We gobble the word of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own."
I don't know about you, but I carry reading material nearly everywhere I go in order not to get bored. I hang out at the bookstore for fun and peruse blogs daily just to see what's up. How is it possible to spend a week not reading?! Telling me not to read for a week is like telling me not to breathe for a week.

Fascinating idea, yet frightening for some reason I don't yet understand.

Which is exactly why I'm going to try it.

Starting today, I'm commited to one week of not reading books (not surprisingly, Ms. Cameron does allow for the reading of The Artist's Way), magazines - including the new version of O magazine I bought yesterday, no blog reading and putting most emails on hold (don't be offended if yours is one).

Not sure how to fill my time. What would you do if you gave up reading or tv for an entire week?

I'll read your answers when I return. ;-)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Alan Johnston Freed!!

Art and Entitlement

David duChemin has written a great article about Art, Humility and Entitlement at his blog.

The following paragraphs resonated with me so I thought I'd share them here.

Humility is a true recognition of one's place - to recognize
that you are gifted, brilliant, beautiful, whatever the attribute you possess in abundance - without making it more, or less, than it truly is. It is from that place of honesty and vulnerability that great people, and artists, make their mark. It lives in brilliant tension between knowing we're better at being ourselves than we once were, and not yet as skilled at it as we will be. It's the tension between gratitude for what we are and have, and the striving to make the most of our gifts that we can. It's loving ourselves as we've been made by our Creator, without thinkin someone else holds lower cards.

Nowhere within that tension is there a place for entitlement. Entitlement within an artist creates works of narcissism and solipsism - works that, instead of being an act of giving to the world, are acts of attempted taking. The belief that the world owes you something, anything, in return for your "unique greatness", will eat at your own soul and contribute nothing to the world. Why should it? Afterall, it's the world that owes you something and not vice-versa.

The rest of the article can be found here:

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sunday Funnies

This just mades me laugh!!!
Think I'll put in an order for myself and a couple friends.

More like it here: