Refuse to be Passive

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Embracing Community

In Life in General on November 30, 2010 at 10:19 am

Do you have any authors whose works you read and all for all that they make you feel like a sham with their sheer eloquence, you can’t help but love them? For me, that’s Kathleen Norris. I am, slowly but surely, making my way through The Cloister Walk. I’m doing this intentionally, trying to drag out the beauty of her writing and the words that it’s spoken into my life. That, and the book follows a year-long track, and I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. The next reading is entitled January 2.  I guess I’m waiting a month. I did the Christmas reading today, and the Advent reading a couple weeks ago. So I guess I may be getting a little ahead of myself.

Norris’ writing has a way of making you pause, step back, and examine what you value in life. It takes me out of my busy paced day-to-day, and freezes time with her beautiful stories on life and faith. I must admit that her writing makes me want to become a Benedictine oblate, aside from the fact that I’m not Catholic. There is some true beauty and peace to be found in that way of life. One of the things that Benedictines value is community. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about community and my place in it. As a person of faith, community is one of the most important aspects of life. How do you fit that in with a desire to travel for extended periods of time? I don’t mean a week here or there, but a year. By the time you return, life’s gone on without you and you need to work to re-immerse yourself in the place you’ve left. Is it possible to go both deep and wide, or can you only choose one?

It’s amazing how there’s so much life to live, and time stretches out before you, and yet, you can’t get it all done. You have to make choices. You have to decide what you value the most and go for it. What do I value?

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The Randomness of Life

In Life in General on November 29, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Normally the weekend provides me with good fodder for a Monday post, but I’m coming up blank today. The weekend, while busy, was thoroughly uneventful. It was filled with all the knickknacks and stuff I had to get done but had been putting off. I went out and bought myself an air popcorn popper. I bought a replacement bulb for my car’s headlight. I went to a craft show, packed stuff up for Goodwill, had a friend over for dinner, and yet amidst all that, I came up with nothing brilliant to write.

I thought about writing a post on pacifism, a topic I’d been asked for my stance on this weekend. The truth of the matter is though, that I don’t currently have a definitive stance, so how could I tell you about it? Then I thought about writing on…actually, I drew a total blank after pacifism.

I decorated for Christmas this weekend. I don’t go all out like some people do, but having a few touches of red and silver here or there just makes the holiday season come alive. I started doing Christmas cards and I have decided, emphatically, that this year, I will send them out on time. Famous last words. But I’m on the right track. Now I just have to track down the addresses of family members.

Beyond that, life goes on, day after day, which is kind of a miracle in itself. My brain doesn’t seem to be processing very well. I’ll leave it at that.

Gluttony– The Socially Acceptable Sin and Maybe the Church’s Failure

In Life in General, Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 11:37 am

I read a blog by another author who questioned why so many Christian’s were fat? Conservative Christians, upon being confronted by a pierced, tattooed individual, are only to quick to quote 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know? Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit….” And yet, there are Christians out there who are overweight, many to the point of being classified as obese. If we’re going to use the temple argument (which I maintain is often taken out of context), maybe when we point the finger we should recognize that there are three pointing back at us.
I feel fairly comfortable posting this, as I have been in the overweight category for much of my life. Only recently did I get my BMI back into a healthy range. So, if you’re overweight, know that this is not an attack on you personally, rather a thoughtful insight into an inconsistency within the North American Christian context.
So why is it, that a leader in the church who struggles with substance abuse or pornography is shunted from the front/leadership (in many churches), whereas a person who is visibly overweight can stand in front of the church without having to worry about getting flack for their weight?
Gluttony has become a socially acceptable sin in the church. We all have to eat, and as eating is often a social endeavor, it’s easily justified as building relationships and community. Questions of self control and food aren’t broached in the church. We’d rather turn a blind eye and continue our massive post-service potlucks, or chatting over coffee and cake.

Food is meant to be enjoyed, but like all of life, there’s a responsibility aspect. Granted, our consumerist, self-entitled society in which we live doesn’t help this any, but shouldn’t the church be different? I know, some people have medical conditions that effect weight and such–I’m not intending to speak to that. What I am speaking of is this: food is a coping mechanism. What is it that we’re all coping with? If we could get to underlying issues such as loneliness, boredom, stress, or family issues, maybe the weight would take care of itself. Instead of going to the church*, people go to food. Is this somewhere that the church has failed? Has the church allowed food to become a crutch for its people, rather than providing them with real support? Maybe, just maybe, if we really started to love each other as Christ commanded, then we wouldn’t be so lonely, isolated, stressed, or what have you. Maybe if we supported one another and were more willing to be real with each other, there would be no need for gluttony within the church and the weight would take care of itself.

* church here is meant to reflect the followers of Christ, not the building in which they meet or the leaders within that community, but the community as a whole.

Dibs!

In Life in General on November 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm

There seem to be an unusual number of single females amongst the administrative staff where I work. Today, we had a young man come in– well, late 20s, you can decide if that’s young or not. He was well dressed, well spoken, had a great smile and stood at about 6’8. After doing a wee bit of eavesdropping I discovered him to be single. Oh the possibilities. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought so, as I told my co-worker I should get dibs because I’m the tallest in our office. She scoffed at me and said she should get dibs, as they’re the same age. Then another co-worker walks in and the first thing out of her mouth? “I call dibs.”

“Too late!” I told her. “I’ve already called it. I’m the tallest, therefore he’s mine.” The banter continued, and thankfully it was all in good fun. We don’t have any desperate women in my office, and we all know how to appreciate the times when we can have a bit of fun with the fact we’re all single.

But what do you think? Who trumps? Height, age, or interaction time? I know, the last one, right? But I maintain it’s a good question! When I wear heels I’m 6’2, and there aren’t that many men out there who beat me!

Oh, how entertaining life can be.

Frosty or Gracious? It’s like choose your own adventure.

In Life in General on November 23, 2010 at 10:35 am

Sometimes I forget that people I  know actually read this blog. Yesterday evening I was sipping a chair and chatting with a friend at Wild Earth Bakery and Cafe and she asked me if a person I had written about in a past post had ever asked me about it. I was a little taken aback, as I completely forgot about that blog post, but apparently she remembered it quite well. I love friends like that, the ones who bring up what I’ve forgotten. I tend to forget quite a lot. Occasionally that gets me into trouble, such as the time I forgot to pick up a friend for small group. Whoops. Thankfully she’s completely lovely and didn’t hold it against me. That’s something I need to learn–to show grace in all circumstances. I’m not perfect, so why do I expect anyone else to be? And yet, I do it all the time.

My sister failed to pick me up for work this morning. To be fair, she did text me to tell me she wasn’t coming for our workout, but then I texted her back asking for a ride to work as my car wouldn’t start due to the insane cold snap we’re currently in. Normally we car pool to work after hitting the gym or swimming. Today though, she didn’t check her messages, so I had to walk. It’s -27C outside right now, so I wasn’t thrilled. I now have mild frost bite around the edges of my eyes. As I walked to work I told myself that I’d be gracious towards her about that morning. She may not have showed, but she had given me warning– even if she’d never gotten back to me about picking me up for work. And yet, when she gave me her puppy dog eyes when I saw her, I pretty much snapped. I expect so much more out of my sister than I do out of others, sometimes even more than I expect out of myself.  She’s my sister after all, aren’t we supposed to be there for each other and follow through on what we say we’ll do?

Do you remember the “choose your own adventure” books from when you were younger? You could decide which paths the characters would take and then flip to the appropriate page to see what happened to them? For a short while, they were one of my favourite types of books. Today, I can’t help but notice that every decision I make turns my life into a “choose your own adventure.” Sadly, I often make the bad choices rather than the good ones. Someone once said to me that you don’t get people to change by instilling fear into them, but by convincing them that change is in their best interest–it will benefit them directly. I wonder if that’s not true of our reactions to situations as well? If I snap at my sister, does it make her want to be a better sister? To follow through on a more consistent basis? Rather, when she get’s there on-time in the mornings, shouldn’t I be saying, “Thanks for picking me up. I really appreciate you being on time because it means I don’t have to wait by the door.” Positive reinforcement. More flies with honey than vinegar, and all that jazz. I’m much better at this approach with friends and acquaintances than I am with family members. I tend to hold them to a higher standard, even if that standard isn’t always realistic. Oh self, why can’t you just be gracious to all? It would make life so much more enjoyable.

 

Intellectual?

In Life in General on November 22, 2010 at 10:50 am

After chatting with a friend this weekend, I’ve been pondering this question, “What is an intellectual?” Am I an intellectual? I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as one, but would others? Maybe.  Is an intellectual someone who simply thinks about issues? Or is there a philosophical/political bent to it? If it’s simply someone who thinks intelligently on a variety of topics, then yes, I would classify myself as an intellectual. If it’s someone who collects philosophy books for fun and spouts Heidegger and Foucault, then maybe not so much.

I suppose the reason I don’t seem myself as an intellectual, is that for the past few years I’ve constantly been surrounded by people who think more deeply than I, who have no issues grappling with the abstract. I tend to deal in the physical reality of here and now. Now, to do what every prof. in university hates, I will cite the dictionary. Mirriam Webster defines “intellectual” as “given to study, reflection, and speculation.” As such, I would definitely classify myself as an intellectual, although not a philosopher, or an abstract thinker. Wait, those two might be the same.

Anyway, when I told my friend that sometimes he made my brain hurt, as he was an intellectual and I was not, he was horrified– so much more than I ever would have guessed someone could become over a statement like that. He felt I’d put a wall up between us or had placed him on a pedestal. I think ultimately it came down to the fact that we have different definitions of intellectual. If his definition matches the dictionary, and mine includes abstract philosophy, then that would explain a lot.

So, am I an intellectual? Well, it’s a matter of interpretation.

Self Imposed Limits

In Life in General on November 19, 2010 at 5:29 pm

This morning I was reading an article on self-imposed limits and the fact that most of them are false. It was a very inspirational article, and made me start to think about where I’ve placed my limits. For example, I used to believe that I’d always be overweight. There is a genetic predisposition to weight gain in my family, and from the time I was 15, I’ve struggled with my weight. Only now, 10 years later, have I truly shed that limitation and decided that maybe genetics didn’t play as much of a factor as what I put in my mouth. I’m now lighter than I was when I graduated high school.

In other areas of my life, it can be seen as well. Where? I’m still thinking about that one.

Word of the Day

In Life in General, Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Slyboots

— a cunning or mischievous person

My, my, what Miriam-Webster and the Globe and Mail Crossword can teach you!

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm

It’s more than 30 days from Christmas and already my office has Christmas music play. Bah humbug. At least until November 25th, then I’ll be caroling along with the rest of them!

Snow, traffic lights, and caffeine induced happiness

In Life in General on November 18, 2010 at 9:56 am

Last night we got our first real snowfall. The sky dumped 8 cm of snow onto our fair city, and this morning I work to a chilly winter wonderland. The roads were getting covered yesterday evening already, and the sky just kept giving us more. People drove carefully, and the green and red traffic lights reminded me of Christmas. I may be wearing a subtle tribute to Christmas through my red and green socks today, but they’re hidden under my slacks, so unless someone is looking, they probably won’t notice. Now, I should clarify, I said our first real snowfall, but basically all that means is over 1cm. We’ve had snow prior to this once, and it was enough to blanket everything in white, but it would have been like a light sheet versus a duvet if we were comparing the two. This is get out the snow shovel kinda snow. Have I mentioned that I love renting? I only have to shovel the ten feet from my door to the sidewalk and my landlord takes care of the rest. Why they can’t shovel those ten feet as well, I’ll never know, but I’m not complaining. The last place I lived required considerable shoveling abilities, so this lack of shoveling seems like a bit of a gift.

On  a potentially related note, the people I’m interacting with this morning seem absurdly happy. Giddy smiles all around. Now, it may have been that I was pouring world-class coffee into their cups, or it might have been the weather and the contagiousness of snow love before it just get’s old– let’s say, January or February. Right now, it’s still a novelty, and that makes it great. Or maybe it has nothing to do with the snow. Maybe they’re doing what I did yesterday–running on adrenaline. It’s amazing how chipper you can be after a night with little sleep. The other evening I got 4 hours of sleep and the next day one of my co-workers stopped me to ask me why I was smiling so much that day. My answer? Adrenaline and copious amounts of caffeine. The great thing is, I’m in a good mood today too, even though I haven’t ingested any caffeine to kick start me yet. However, this morning I did have time to do devotions, take a shower, get in a bit of weight training, and have a hot breakfast. Now if that’s not a great start to the day, I don’t know what is.