Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Go here if you want to see what I got for Christmas, as well as the rest of our Christmas, and Thanksgiving, it turns out, pictures!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Help me save lives!

Since I am sending this letter out in place of holiday cards, let me first take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

I am inviting you to participate with me in a new adventure I am embarking on this coming year. You don't even have to leave the comfort of your home, as I will be doing all of the work. On May 27th I will be taking part in the Capital of Texas Triathlon along with other members of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training from New York City.

We will be swimming 0.9 miles, biking 25 miles and (gulp) running 6 miles to raise money for the Society, and the blood cancer patients it represents. I’m not a runner, it’s been about 20 years since I’ve been on a proper bike, and we won’t speculate how long it has been since those life guard lessons in high school. But it’s for a good cause!

I need to raise $5000 by May 7th. I'm asking you to help by making a contribution. Each donation helps accelerate cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma and brings hope to the patients and families who are on the front lines of the battle against these diseases.

Please use the link in this post to donate online quickly and securely. You will receive a confirmation by email of your donation and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation.

On behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, thank you very much for your support. I really appreciate your generosity!

You can learn more about my efforts and make a donation by visiting my Web site:

Steph in Training

If you aren't comfortable donating online, you can write a check payable to “The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society” comment, and I will send you my mailing address!



P.S. Please forward this post to as many people as you can to encourage them to donate as well! Prayers and good thoughts are also appreciated, and all contributions are 100% tax deductible.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

exercise, exercise

I may have mentioned that after sitting flat on my butt typing like mad for the entire month of November, and doing next to no physical exercise (tho, dude, my fingers? They be BUFF.) I signed up for a triathlon.

Yesterday, in between choir practice and our TGIO party, we had our gear clinic, to get us sorted on the stuff we need for three different sports and season. Three hours and two sporting good stores later I am the proud owner of:

Winter running tights
Bike shorts (which are, um, interesting)
Wind stopper jacket with zip off sleeves and built in jersey
Wind stopper gloves
balacava thingie (not Greek pastry)
Bike helmet (guaranteed to make me look cylon)
Goggles (not googles)
Cage and water bottle for TehJerry's bike
Bike computer and light/reflector something or other (was package deal with helmet)
Two long sleeve base layer shirts.

Now I just need to get out the door...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I am officially a novelist.... sort of

Sorry I've not updated for a few days, but worked all weekend, and have also been very busy:



Now to actually finish the thing! And keep writing full out in order to help NYC in the tricity challenge.

But first perhaps some dessert...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NaNoWriMo Progress

Am sooooooooooooooooo close to the halfway point I can touch it! *bounces*

My minor character serving girl has become a diva and wants a bigger part, my hermit monk is threatening to start the Protestant Reformation three hundred years early (and also might possibly be emergent), and tomorrow I really really need to write a fight scene and figure out where swords and bows and arrows go, but otherwise things are going swimmingly :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Seattle Sat

I realized I had posted all of my Seattle pics on LJ and none here, so I thought I'd remedy that. No real pics from Off The Map, except for Richard Twiss and his drum, because, dude, drum! Most of the pictures are of rocks trees and water, and Starbucks. Oh and a few random pics of my hotel room.

make with the clicky for the piccies

After the conference finished, came back to my room, swam, wrote, and then went back to Eastside Foursquare for their Sat pm service, which was quite nice. Got Chinese on the way home, and couldn't even eat half of it. Geez. Trying to figure out how I can take it to eat in car tomorrow.

Tomorrows plans are to drive out to see a waterfall that I can't spell, and then head back into Seattle, explore a bit more, maybe go to Mars Hill, which might be a good balance to the rest of the weekend, and then get the rental car back by 9.

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be writing. I'm going, I'm going...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

NaNoWriMo, and Off the Map

NaNoWriMo started with a bang for me here in Seattle. Since I am registered in NY, I started at midnite EST on Wed, meaning 9PM PST. Which was a good thing, as I didn't actually make it to midnite. I got a good chunk done before the conference started, also a good thing.

today's word count: 506
Total: 2624

I knew today would be a bust writing wise, b/c had so much other stuff going on with conference activities, workshops, dinner, and tonite's "Conversation in a pub", so no worries. At least I got something done.

For what I've been up to all day, as well as last nite and ending tomorrow at noon at Off the Map, others have been blogging like crazy including live blogging at the events. Chuck was intimidated by all the really skinny MacBooks around and elected to stay in his case. So if anyone is interested, I direct you here where a list of blogs has been compiled.

I will content myself with reading them, along with the two books (so far) I've purchased.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Off to Seattle

In a few hours I'm heading to Off The Map.

My plane to Seattle leaves at Nine. AM. In the morning. I have to be at JFK at Seven. AM. In the morning. Which means the last off peak train at 5:29. AM. In the morning. My alarm is set for 4:30. AM. In the morning.

Naturally I'm sitting on the couch watching TV and playing on the computer. Also am drinking a tea of one entire lemon, hot water, honey, and zicam. Got a lovely little (ok not so little) head nose throat and ear cold and am not looking forward to getting off the plane. So over the past two days I have devoured many lemons in an effort to kill the cold.

Had a successful shopping trip with mom yest, complete with breadbowls of soup at Panera. Got some funky boots that I will take a pic of eventually, but right now camera is in laptop case and boots are in closet.

Anyway am supposed to be finishing my nano warm up fic, which I officially have 24 hours to complete. Then the real thing starts *meep*. I suppose I shall write a bit now till the zicam kicks in. Or just watch Torchwood.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

a day off

It's so lovely to have a day off, to spend a leisurely morning (ok, yes really afternoon *g*) sitting around drinking coffee and reading. This morning's reading from Renovare's "Devotional Classics" was by John Calvin on Self Denial.

Quite appropriate, as I am about to head on over to Target!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Something to think about

One of the chief dead-ends in developing my spiritual life is to want to have someone else's spiritual life. If, for instance, I visit a convent one day, or see a monastery on TV, I may find myself thinking, "I wish I could pray like them". But if I am a schoolteacher, or an accountant, or looking after my children all day, then that rhythm of prayer may just not be suited to me. Pray as you can, not as you can't is an obvious maxim, but one that is frequently overlooked, leading to a lot of unrealistic expectations, and frustration.Finding my own rhythm, a way of praying that suits me, may involve some experimentation with times and places and with different styles and approaches. At times I will need to persevere and not give up on something too easily. I also need, however, to be prepared to say, "This doesn't work for me." Finding a way of praying I can sustain is an important step in developing my relationship with God.

From Sacred Space - "Something to Think and Pray About this Week."

Just struck me this am, as I continue to read through other people's advice on how to pray and worship - in two ways.

First, not to expect to have the same experience as someone else.

Second, to keep at it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Another weekend out of the city

Went out to the Delaware Water Gap friday to spend the weekend at some cabins owned by the AMC, in the middle of the woods and right on a lovely lake.

We had dinner in town and then a dance workshop Friday nite, then Saturday after a "light breakfast" of Irish oatmeal and soda bread, we had another dance workshop. Lunch, some music, and then we hiked up to the Appalachian Trail, and along a ridgeline for a bit. Came back, had dinner, more music (I played my drum, but the whistle did not leave the case), and dancing till midnite.

Sunday another "light" breakfast, a hike along the river, and a "light" lunch of all the leftovers from the day before. I'm not sure if I ate more, or exercised more - lol.

I got home in two hours :O

Apparently cursing out the George Washington Bridge in my previous post did the trick!

Came home to a surprise - my parents had come by for a pitstop on their way to Rye for a conference and brought lunch to eat with my brother. so we had a chat, and then when they left I sorted out my email, watched Lantis (Ronon - squee!), and crashed.

Still tired today so I skipped dance class. The fact that I still need to watch Torchwood, and have procured ep 202 or Robin Hood had nothing to do with that. Nope. Not at all. I danced enough ;)

Pictures are here.

And here is a short video of some friends doing the Traditional Irish Chicken Dance.

Tis not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Schwiiiing!!

You know the Bible 100%!
 

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes



After this the Yankees losing 12-3 to the Indians is just icing on the cake ;)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My, what a weekend!

Cross posted from Livejournal:

The Mets wash out, SGA washes in. The Doctor leaves us hanging. And I was away for all of it.

Still catching up on everything, have much reading to do, tho I did watch both SGA and DW Sunday nite even with a blinding headache after six hours of driving. (why oh why is it so hard to get back into NY??) That's dedication, I tell ya.

Did much dancing, eating, drinking, talking, beach walking, swimming, and even birding. Yes, it's a verb! Wandered all around the marshlands by the lighthouse in search of hawks, herons, and other things I can't remember. Saw the hawk counting board, but we were all in agreement that people are probably counting the same birds over and over :P.

Piccies are here.

And here is a short vid of my dance teachers and a couple friends doing the hornpipe figure of the Cashel set. Much fun. Unfortunately I didn't get into a set for that one, which is why I was playing with my camera.

Right. Have taken off my blue and orange nail polish and replaced it with red. Now to finish watching torchwood and attempt to wade through four days worth of LJ and bloglines.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Podcasts, walks, and taking notes

As well as reading way too many blogs, I've been listening to several podcasts lately. Mostly while walking, as the weather has been so nice. I wish Brother Giles would hurry up with another Secrets of Harry Potter podcast, but I digress. This week, aside from an Emergent Village podcast, I listened to sermons by Tim Keller, Rick McKinley and Mark Driscoll. Yeah, a wee bit of variety there- lol.

This morning I woke up with one of those UberHeadaches that you just know is going to dog you the whole day. After two cups of coffee, two aleve, clarinex and mucinex d didn't do the trick, I went for a walk. Gorgeous day, so I went to the park and my favorite gazebo wall perch, overlooking the bay and sailboats. And listened to podcasts.

Two of the casts I listened to made snarky references to taking notes during sermons. One guy said that most people never read those notes again. That's certainly true in my case. So I started to think about why I take notes. The dude was right, I never look at them again. I can't read my own handwriting half the time anyway, which is why I love the computer. I think it's that doing something while I am listening helps me concentrate.

This is the age of Multitasking. For example, while I'm writing this I'm also watching Stargate Atlantis season three on dvd, and chatting with a friend. Have I mentioned I love my laptop? I can't exactly whip out my computer and chat during church, or walk around for that matter. So, I take notes :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Books books books

Tpday's non-writing brought to you by:

GoodReads.

Thanks to pokings from evil friends, I have registered. I will never have the energy to list all the books on my shelves again, but I like the "currently reading" and "to read" shelves, those I may possibly keep updating. Tho now it looks like I have read two books and need to read ten - lol.

Feel free to head on over and friend me there.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

something to think about...

Have been seriously bit by the blog bug. Between importing RSS feeds to my LJ friends list, and now subscribing to many others via bloglines, I've got way too many to read. Was way too much trouble to make links for them all here, so if I have commented on your blog and you don't see it in my links, it doesn't mean I've not subscribed to your feed :)

Here's a bit from Rick McKinley's blog that struck me:

Too often we (the church) think we need to invent and brand everything that we do in the city. This just perpetuates the false shell of our own subculture. Instead look for opportunities that already exist in the city. There are tons of non profits in your town. They are dying for people who will join them in their work. We get to saddle up to people who share Kingdom passion. They may not know it is Kingdom passion because they may not know the King yet. But as you serve them and with them serve others you gain a voice into their lives and they into yours. You also build viability for the Gospel. They begin to trust that you are not going to try to Colonialise their organization and make t-shirts that say “we saved Bob’s aids hospice”.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Theological World View meme

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern, You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.

Emergent/Postmodern

79%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

71%

Reformed Evangelical

64%

Neo orthodox

61%

Fundamentalist

57%

Roman Catholic

50%

Modern Liberal

39%

Classical Liberal

36%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

36%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Off the map

Just registered to go to the Off the Map conference in Seattle in November :)

It's sort of a funny story. When I had my lovely trip home from a friend's wedding in April (waves to Larissa), I got a voucher from Jet Blue for the price of my return flight b/c we had a 6 hours delay. Since I'm going to England in Jan and Hungary in July, I figured I needed to use the voucher this fall, and was researching places I was interested in seeing that Jet blue goes to. Had narrowed it down to about four, and after a poll on my LiveJournal (Because such an important decision cannot be made alone), I had decided on Seattle, the first week of November. Figured coffee, hotel with wireless, work on my NaNoWrimo project, and do some sightseeing.

Then I get an email about this conference in Seattle, the first week of November. My Mom: "It's a sign!" Duly taken ;)

Now to find the Jet Blue voucher...

Monday, September 3, 2007

re-reading

After all the singing, shouting, dancing, drinking songs (ahem), and general mayhem of the last three days, I spent a quiet couple of hours reading this am. (Very quiet, as neither my friend or myself have any voice left after the Gaelic Storm performance last nite!).

Read the first couple chapters of Michael Casey's "Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina."

This quote jumped out at me:

Repetition is the soul of genuine lectio. It is a right brain activity; we do not grasp the entire content immediately but in a circular manner. We read and advance, then we go back and read again.

Of course, Casey is talking about scripture, but it spoke to me also in a general sense. I'll give a very bad *g* example. In preparation for book seven of Harry Potter, I started re-reading the entire series from book one. By the time I got to the last book, all the backstory and continuity were firm in my mind, and it totally enhanced the experience and satisfaction of the ending

I have so many good books, and not just fiction, on my shelves that I've read only once. Authors like CS Lewis (is it possibly to read CS Lewis too much? I think not.), Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris, Lauren Winner, and several others.

So I think for Advent and Lent I will read no new books, but re-read books that I already have. And possibly dust my bookshelves...

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Spamming with the memes...

You scored as Anselm, Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period.He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?'

Anselm

93%

John Calvin

87%

Jonathan Edwards

73%

Martin Luther

73%

Friedrich Schleiermacher

60%

Karl Barth

53%

Paul Tillich

53%

Augustine

47%

Charles Finney

40%

J├╝rgen Moltmann

33%

created with QuizFarm.com

I'm not in Kansas anymore...

Actually I am. Or possibly Missouri. Am staying in Kansas City with my friend Kelly, and the state seems to change from block to block. Apparently I'm not the only one confused, as members of the band we are stalking listening to this weekend were having the same issues - yelling out Kansas and being corrected "Missouri!!"

We're attending all three days of the Kansas City Irish Festival, my feet are sore, and I have no voice :)

Check my LJ
for pictures, and a short video of me at the clogging workshop.
Kelly also has a short vid of Gaelic Storm - Pat Murphy doing his Snoop Dogg version of Johnny Tarr.
(Deeply Spiritual Gaelic Storm is not. But they are much fun. And my favorite band.) Aside from GS, which was the whole reason I came to KC (well that and to finally see Kelly), we saw the Young Dubliners, and the Elders, who also rock. Several CDs have been purchased.

We'll go back today, wearing our "Don't go for the one" teeshirts, for one last stalking performance, and tin whistle workshop. I'm not allowed to buy any more teeshirts, but am permitted another CD or two or three. *whistles innocently*

Sunday, August 26, 2007

more churchy stuff

Tonite I went to the evening service at Redeemer West Side.

The music was jazz, the sermon was wonderful, and after there were coffee, cookies, and books. I was good and did not buy any books.

Ran into some others from my current church, and we discussed the upcoming meeting with the pastor and elder regarding the music ministry. I'm going to go, but I am afraid it will only cement my decision to leave.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Last Evening

Have recovered from my melodramatic post from the other day.

Last night I went to my first Emergent Village Cohort meeting.
We sat in the lounge of a bar, drinking wine and beer and talking about God.

It was good.

Tony Jones signed my book! I am such a geek. I don't think I embarrassed myself too much tho. I save the fangirling for Stargate Atlantis conventions. Ahem.

Only damper to the evening was the Mets losing in the 10th inning. *sigh*

Anyway I have many new places to check out :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Church

How much is too much? When do you decide to leave a church? I guess back in the days when there was only one "church", people had no choice. It was either go to church or don't. But nowadays we have way too many choices, esp here where I live. It's incredibly easy to hop from church to church, and I've always sort of looked down on those who do. Since I moved here 16 years I've belonged to two churches, one of which no longer exists. I've always believed in commitment. Dig in my heels, grit my teeth and stay put, no matter what. I tell myself there's no such thing as a perfect church, not in this world.

But how much is too much? When a church refuses to change, to grow? When you no longer can respect the leadership?

On the other hand, when there was only one church and people stayed put, I suppose the church had no choice but to change and grow with the people. When there are so many people coming and going, a church can stay the same and still seem fresh to the new people coming in.

Long story short, for a number of reasons I'm starting to look around for a new church.

I've not officially left the old one yet, and I feel a sadness, almost a mourning, but at the same time a new sense of freedom, like I'm breaking out of an oppressive cocoon and being given a chance to spread my wings.

Oy. Can we say Drama Queen, boys and girls?

I'll miss my friends, tho some I will see, and the majority of them are already gone anyway. I'm looking forward to making new friends and (hopefully) meeting more people who are like me.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Saturday at the beach.

Some pretty piccies from Saturday's outing to the beach are here.
Am quite proud that I survived the gangs of Hells Angels on Jetskis, fishing lines and surfers. Both knees are also slightly exfoliated.

I could make a proper picspam, but I feel lazy. And I like flickr.

Under the beach are pics from the wedding I was in last weekend, if anyone is interested in seeing many dressed up people.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fasting

I like how Tony Jones opens his chapter on fasting in "The Sacred Way":

I hate fasting.
So, seriously, I
hate it, and I avoid it at all costs. It is my least favorite of the disciplines in this book. In fact, I wish I didn't have to right about it. I wish it weren't so deeply rooted in the history of God's people Then I could ignore it.
But I can't ignore it. It's too prevalent, and, honestly, too important.

My main issue with fasting as always been my focus. Being a dieter, my mind tends to wander onto how fasting will help me to lose weight,and other physical cleansing benefits, rather than the spiritual benefits. So this time I am determined to get it right.

Some quotes from "Celebration of Discipline"

Foster notes that "the constant propaganda fed us today convinces us that if we do not have three large meals each day, with several snacks in between, we are on the verge of starvation."

Fasting is "distinct from health dieting which stresses abstinence from food for physical, not spiritual purposes." This is the one I need to beat into my brain. "Physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduing with power, spiritual insights - these must never replace God as the center of our fasting."

He notes that there are no biblical laws that command regular fasting, so that we are free to fast whenever we wish. In the sermon on the mount Jesus "seems to make the assumption that people will fast, and is giving instruction on how to do it properly." Jesus "made it clear that he expected his disciples to fast when he was gone."

Foster makes the point that Jesus gave instruction on how to properly give, pray and fast in the same passage, but the emphasis today in the church is on giving. "Perhaps in our affluent society fasting involves a far larger sacrifice than the giving of money."

Foster says that during fasting, it will be come apparent what controls us. David repeatedly humbled his soul with fasting. "Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear - if they are within us, they will surface during fasting."

"Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. How easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them."

"In the fourth century, Asterius said that fasting ensured that the stomach would not make the body boil like a kettle to the hindering of the soul."


Some scripture about fasting:

Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus' instructions not to make a big production of fasting

Matthew 9:15 Jesus' disciples to fast once the bridegroom was taken from them

Acts 13:2-3 During fasting an praying the Holy Spirit selects Paul and Barnabas to be sent off

Luke 2:37 Anna never left the temple, serving God with fasting and prayer

Zechariah 5 The people ask God whether they should go on fasting, and he replies that they were never doing it for his sake.

Psalm 69:10, 35:13 David humbles his soul with fasting

John 4:32, 34 Jesus tells the disciples that his food is to do God's will

So I will give it another try. Of course, I can't tell you when. ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Some ramblings on prayer

I couldn't possibly do just one blog post of prayer - I'm finding there is just so much to read and learn and try. I thought I'd be moving on to another discipline by now, but it looks like I'll be here for awhile. I've been struggling with prayer for quite some time now, especially when put on the spot in a group. I go through the motion of praise and thanks and pleases that I think are expected of me, but I don't feel anything. I know emotions are not to be trusted, and I know I am explaining this badly, but I feel like there's a block. I know God is out there and listening, but I'm not getting through to him, and he's not getting through to me. And when it comes to praying for others, the will is definitely there but I never know what to say. "Please be with so and so" sounds really lame, as does telling him what to do to fix the problem, like he needs my helpful suggestions.

So I set out to experiment with other forms of prayer outside of the basic formula used in the evangelical church. I like the word experiment, it makes me feel like this cool scientist in a lab coat tapping away at a computer and spouting technobabble. And some of the terms I read seem like technobabble until you break them down. I also like the words Spiritual Exercises, because it implies strengthening, toning, shaping, increasing endurance. Then my cool scientist takes off her lab coat and sports arms and abs of steel. I bought a little calendar organizer to record each days physical and spiritual exercises - just a brief line of what I did each day, so after a few months I can get an overview of what I've been working on with body and soul.

Don't get me wrong, petitionary prayer is certainly important. Richard Foster has an excellent chapter on it that I will be returning to in a while, and experimenting with some of the things he suggests.

I tried structural prayers, using the book of common prayer, and The Divine Hours, and they helped a bit, focusing on God and incorporating scripture into the prayers. The hours is especially good for travel, when you don't have much time or space to yourself, and now it comes in a portable version with one week of prayers.

Right now I'm experimenting with contemplative prayer. The silence/solitude and meditation that I've been working on are building blocks to this. I tried centering prayer as well, where you just concentrate on one word, but apparently I think too much and so meditation works better for me. My current favorite tool is Sacred Space, a daily prayer site takes you through several frames of prayer and scripture, based on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, which I'm studying now. According to Tony Jones, Sacred Space is "actually a hybrid of Ignatian prayer leading to a lectio divina on the lectionary-assigned Scripture passage for the day." I found the website from his book, which was written in 1999, and the site is still going strong. I think part of it appeals to the geek in me to be praying at my computer. I like how you select the time to move on to the next frame, choosing how much time you will spend thinking and praying in between. I also like how it encourages you to imagine Jesus sitting in the chair next to you and to turn and tell him what you're feeling. I've actually been switching on the computer in the morning looking forward to prayer, which is a big step, for a baby.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Interview meme

Cross posted from Live journal:


via whatthefaith

1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like your favorite lyric to your current favorite song. Or your favorite kind of sandwich.Something random. Whatever you like.

2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.

3. You WILL update your LJ with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.

5. When others comment asking to be asked, you will ask them five questions.

My Five Questions:

1. You are no longer a nurse. You are an English teacher. What is the first novel you teach and why?


Guess it depends on the age level I am teaching. Middle School/ Junior High what jumps to mind is the Harry Potter books, partly b/c I'm rereading them now, and partly b/c the kids would read them. For young people I don't think it's as important that they read a great classic with all sorts of deeper meaning, but that they *read*. Learn to appreciate books, and get lost in them. I think I learned more from the Star Trek novels I smuggled into study hall than anything I was assigned in English class.
For adults, I'd go with Pride and Prejudice, b/c I read it again as an adult and like it, and it would give me an excuse to show the miniseries with Colin Firth in class *g*.

2. You have 24 hours to spend anywhere in the world but you have to pick one spot. Where will you go and what will you do?


Will I be able to stay awake the whole twenty-four hours, and would travel time be instantaneous? If so I'd go to New Zealand and wander all over Middle Earth. (*covers ears as shrieks*) Travel time, topsy turvey jet lag, and airfare are what have kept me in this hemisphere thus far.

3. A movie is being made of your life. Who plays you?


Sandra Bullock

4. Belief system: mainstream or non-denominational?


Both. There is no one tradition I'm completely in agreement with, and bits I like about most of them. For example, I love contemporary worship music, but I also like what I am learning about more ancient disciplines like solitude and contemplative prayer. In short my system is a hodge podge of picking and choosing. Maybe I should start my own church! Nyah, I'll stay where I am and be subversive *g*.


5. Has there ever been a time when you thought nursing was not your field?
Yes, but aside from my fantasies of becoming a best selling novelist, only when i am disgruntled with my current job. Then I come to my senses and realize that:
a. every job has its good and bad days, and difficult people. (reading my friends list helps with this, lol)
b. I'm a good nurse, responsible *sigh*, the patients like me for the most part (tho I often wish the PITAs would request another nurse), the squick factor doesn't bother me at all.
c. It pays well and my current job gives me plenty of flexibility to do all the other non-marketable things I want to do.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cloisters picspam


Went with a friend on Sunday to the Cloisters, which is the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval art collection, in a recreated medieval monastery in a gorgeous park. One of my favorite places, partly b/c it's just beautiful, I love gardens and castle/cathedral type places. Also I am a sucker for unicorns, and it is the home of the famous unicorn tapestries.

We had a picnic in the park, overlooking the Hudson river.

Wandered all around the gardens and galleries . All in all a nice day :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

music!

Aside from the fact that the "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" soundtrack has eaten my brain and I've been listening to it pretty much non-stop since seeing the movie last Saturday night, I did purchase some other music this past week.

Awhile back following a link from a link, I found and subscribed to the Pray As You Go podcasts. Last fall they were great for commutes into the city after work, calming and rejuvenating. About 10-15 minutes each they start with some chant music, then read a portion of scripture, and guide you through thinking about that scripture, asking you to place yourself in the scene, and asking some pointed questions about how this relates to your life. Plus, most of the readers have British accents *grin*.

I started downloading them again this week, after my first attempt at meditation, b/c they are a nice bite sized chunk of what I am trying to learn. Anyway, when i was listening to Monday's podcast, the music at the beginning was quite different, not the usual Gregorian chant music I've got used to, but rhythmic voices, with a stringed instrument, similar to a guitar but not, and percussion. It immediately grabbed me so of course I had to research and find out who it was so i could get the music for myself.

Turns out it's from a monastery in Senegal called "Keur Moussa". Unfortunately the English version of their website doesn't seem to be working, and I don't read French, or I would have bought some cds from them directly. However after some surfing around I was able to find a cd used on Amazon. (Have I mentioned I love Amazon? I do :)).

Amazon recommended another cd with it called "Kora Revolution", kora being the stringed instrument that sounds sort of like a guitar but isn't. The artist is from Afro-Celt Sound System, of whom I have two albums already. This one was available on Itunes, so I got it there. (sorry, Amazon. I do love you. Really.)

So, long story short - I have new music. Though am still listening to Pirates...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Of solitude, silence, and meditation


It's hard to find solitude and silence in New York City. In the summer, I love the beach. I go to the farthest field where the buses don't stop and they rarely have lifeguards. On a weekday it's just me, a few surfers and some fisherman. But today was too chilly for the beach. Absolutely gorgeous - sunny, blue sky with fluffy white clouds, no humidity, 69 degrees.

I tossed a towel and my books in my string bag and walked to the park about a mile away, with a stop at Dunkin Donuts for a ridiculously large iced coffee and bagel. Waded through the little leaguers, bikers, joggers, and people sunning themselves to a place where miraculously no one else was, a gazebo in the woods, overlooking the highway far below and the bay. Not exactly silent, tho the highway traffic is more white noise and almost matches the wind rustling the leaves of the trees.



Finished Richard Foster's chapter on meditation in "Celebration of Discipline." He describes three different forms of meditation - meditation on scripture was the first and the one that appealed to me. He points out that meditation is not study, or exegesis, but personalization of the passage.


He quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer as saying "just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation."

Foster suggests "that you take a single event, or a parable, or a few verses, or even a single word and allow it to take root in you."


How do we pick what scripture to meditate on though? Today selecting was easy because I picked something quoted in the boo. Foster quotes Bonhoeffer again as saying one should meditate on the same passage for a week. Fine, but then what about next week? We are reading Genesis in Bible study, and I'm working my way toward psalms in my own reading, tho admittedly have been reading more books that actual scripture this past year. Foster's descriptions of using the "sanctified imagination" to place ourselves in the scene with Jesus makes me want to pick something from the gospels. So, how do I choose?

Today I chose James 1:17 because it was mentioned elsewhere in the chapter, and therefore handy.

All that is good, all that is perfect, is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow caused by change.

Some ramblings I jotted down:

God is light with no change of shifting shadow (I know I've read that in another version), like the way the light shifts and shimmers on the leaves and the water. So, pure light with no shadows such as leaves cause. But elsewhere in scripture it says God is the shade on our right hand or something to that effect. (note to self, next time might help to actually bring a bible along) So God is both pure light and shade. How can that be?

The sun is warm but also contains harmful radiation. shade is cooling and safe, protecting. So God is pure light that causes no harm and provides shade?

Am I supposed to be meditating with a notebook and writing things down? And is what I am writing down making any sense?

Bottom line: Not sure if I was missing or getting the point of the exercise. Foster says you don't learn to meditate from a book (darn b/c I like learning things from books). You learn to meditate by meditating. So that is what I am attempting to do.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Modesty

I don't think that I am an overly modest person. I don't mind showing some skin, leg, arm, etc. I love shorts and low rise pants that add a few inches to my torso. I have no issues with wearing a swim suit, hate long skirts, and rebel against the notion that women shouldn't wear jeans to church, tho I respect the rule against wearing them if I am leading worship.

I especially adore the soft clingy feel of Old Navy tank tops. I just wish most of the necklines were about two inches higher. I was shopping earlier this week, looking for a couple *non* tank tops for summer, a brown themed swimsuit top to go with the shorts I made from capris, and possibly a cute dress for church and parties. Of all the things I tried on, I walked away with Bermuda jean shorts, a skirt, a sweater (on clearance sale, see previous post), and another couple tank tops.

Every single one of the shirts, dresses, and swim suit tops I tried on had one thing in common - they exposed so much of my chest that I might as well just walk around in shorts and a bra. Actually my bras cover more than some of these tops. I don't mind showing a hint or shape of cleavage, and I admit I have another motive for keeping my chest to myself - I had heart surgery when I was nine, and so have a scar that runs straight down the center. But really.

This morning I was reading from "Real Sex" by Lauren Winner, and a couple passages jumped out at me after this (and many many other) shopping experience.

Lauren is discussing taking her friend's five year old shopping for school clothes: The kindergarten set, it appears, is wearing the same low-riding, midriff-revealing tops and trousers that their big sisters and moms are sporting, At least, the working-class and middling kindergartners are. All the affordable shops, in other words, specialize in revealing outfits and tight skirts. Wealthy daughters, whose parents can afford to shop at Hanna Andersson and Nordstrom, still get little girl clothes - crinolines and dresses and smocking. But we apparently expect their less well off cousins to start dressing for sex early.

I thought,wait a minute, it's not just kids shops but ours too. Sure, I can pay $40 for a full coverage unfitted tank top from Title Nine, but my budget would cry much less if I grab the two for $12 at Old Navy.

Reading further: Try finding a truly modest summer frock that doesn't make you look like a sack of potatoes - it isn't impossible, but it also isn't the easiest thing in the world either.

Or cheap. *sigh* All I'm asking for is a couple of inches here and there, without sacrificing style. I want to be covered, comfortable, and not look like I borrowed my grandmother's clothes. If I were a seamstress, I'd make or alter my own, and I admire those that do, but sewing is not my forte. I can manage cutoff shorts and replacing a button, that's about it. Let's face it, you can't chat on the computer, watch TV, or read a book while using a sewing machine. Possibly by the end of next year I might be making my own pajama bottoms (WHAT is the obsession with drawstrings??? They might make Jean Butler look good, but no one else!), but don't hold your breath.

Thankfully I wear a uniform, so have no workplace clothing issues. Anyway, will have much food for thought in the next year.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pic spam

Some piccies, posted here b/c it's easier than on LJ - lol. But since I made reference to my new computer in my last post...



My new laptop, Chuck:

Chuck and his uniform:



I took a picture of this sweater b/c I am v. proud of finding it on clearance sale at Old Navy, marked down from $36 to$9.


Plus it matches perfectly my new skirt, and I now have a ceili outfit for either Sat or Sun. It might be destined to become my favorite sweater during the Year of No Clothes Shopping.












And finally the Pirates towel that happened to jump into my cart when I was in Target. No idea how that happened.

I will be enjoying my beach time methinks *grin*

Delayed Gratification

I have a brand new laptop, which I am typing on right now. His name is Chuck. Chuck has wireless capability, but I don't have wireless in the apartment. I am getting a wireless router from my parents for my birthday at the end of August. Until then I have to content myself with typing stories and blog posts on Chuck, while sitting curled up on the couch, and then transferring them to my desktop, Allan (yes I do name most of my appliances. I'm weird that way.) for posting. I can't use Chuck to chat, twitter, surf, or check my email.

Two months is an awfully long time. I mean just a few days ago I was saying fifteen minutes was a long time. But this summer I am supposed to be learning spiritual discipline, so I guess here is my first lesson - patience and delayed gratification. Not exactly the American way. We want it now, now, now, and thanks to credit cards we get it. Not this time.

And after all it really is for the best. Starting in September, I'll probably never leave my couch.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Books, books, books

Since my last post I did a wee bit of shopping on Amazon. LOVE Amazon. I bought "A Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster, which I've read once but my mom's copy and I want my own, esp considering my focus on disciplines this summer, "Real Sex" by Lauren Winner, and the pocket/travel edition of "The Divine Hours" by Phyllis Tickle.

Lest those reading this who don't know me well think me too serious, be advised I am halfway through "Song of the Beast", a lovely fantasy by Carol Berg (I am a total sucker for dragons), and have on my to read pile two fantasy novels by Tad Williams (yes *finally* getting around to that series that I've been looking at and thinking "I should read that someday..." for about 10 years.), and "Blood on the Tongue" by Stephen Booth, which I actually am dying to start given my current bent toward British and Canadian mystery series. Someone really needs to take BBC America away from me. And my Tivo. How am I supposed to catch up on all these DVDs waiting for me when I keep finding and grabbing new shows?

Am also currently reading "Mysteries of the Middle Ages" by Thomas Cahill, a loner from Mom. I love his subtly Christian slant, but that he is matter of fact, not in your face about it, and gives a thoroughly intellectual and also at times quite cynical overview of history. I just finished the chapter on Eleanor of Aquitaine and Francis of Assisi - talk about an interesting combo. Working tomorrow but don't need to start too early, so plan to have some reading time with this book over coffee before I have to go. Of course I am typing this Friday nite on my laptop, and by the time I export it to my desktop and post it will probably be Sunday, and my plans will have come and gone. The novelty of typing on my new lappy, Chuck, has not worn off, and I doubt it ever will, esp once I get my router. :)

As regards silence, managed ten minutes this morning, and what popped into my head halfway through was "Christmas Canon" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I have NO idea why. It's not even come up on shuffle in months. My friend Pia (who really needs to get a blog ;)) and I have been having a running debate on the merits vs harmful effects of practicing silence. I might post some of it here at a later time with her permission. I will say that since I've started my attempts my language behind the wheel seems to have improved somewhat, but that could just be b/c I've not driven into Manhattan this week.

ETA: The books came today! Amazon is fast. Now I have to decide what to read first, even tho I am supposed to be writing.

ETA2: It is ridiculously easy to add links here on Blogger.

ETA3: Amazon should give me commission.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Sounds of Silence, part deux

Some quotes from the Henri Nouwen chapter "Bringing Solitude into Our Lives", in "Devotional Classics":

A spiritual life requires human effort. The forces that keep pulling us back into a worry filled life are far from easy to overcome.... A spiritual life without discipline is impossible. The practice of a spiritual discipline makes us more sensitive to the small, gentle voice of God. ... Through the practice of a spiritual discipline we become attentive to that small voice and willing to respond when we hear it...

we are usually surrounded by so much outer noise that it is hard to truly hear our God when he is speaking to us... When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives. The word obedient comes from the latin audire, which means "listening."

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and him alone.

To bring some solitude into our lives is one of the most necessary but also most difficult disciplines... As soon as we are alone, without people to talk with, books to read, TV to watch, or phone calls to make, an inner chaos opens up in us... when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force.

Once we have committed ourselves to spending time in solitude, we develop an attentiveness to God's voice in us... Time in solitude may at first seem little more than a time in which we are bombarded by thousands of thoughts and feelings that emerge from hidden areas of our minds... at first, the many distractions keep presenting themselves. Later, as they receive less and less attention, they slowly withdraw.

As we empty ourselves of our many worries, we come to know not only with our mind but also with our heart that we were never really alone, that God's Spirit was with us all along.

Today after reading this was attempt number two. A bit different as today I have the day off from work, and aside from an appt with my trainer at 4:30, and our end of the year music ministry dinner at 7, I've the whole day to myself. Plus my brother is out of town till tonite, so also the whole apartment to myself. And of course a million things I want to do...

And typing on my new laptop is SO cool.

Attempted 15 minutes this am, at quarter to so that the clock bird would chirp at the hour to let me know the 15 minutes was up. Was fairly quiet, except for the birds, one train, and someone mowing the lawn a couple blocks away.

15 minutes is a long time. Tried my best to not look up at the clock but wait for the bird. I see what Henri Nouwen means about being "bombarded by thoughts." What am I going to have for breakfast/brunch/lunch. What am I going to wear to the gym, and what am I going to wear to the dinner tonite? The next scene in the SG1 fic I'm working on during ficfrenzy on LJ. What books I want to buy on amazon, b/c I have another GC burning a whole in my fingers. Tho I give myself credit that it was books from the list in the back of the above book I was thinking of, never mind the stack of nice meaty fantasy novels on my to read pile, which then lead to Will I drive or take the train tonite, and if I take the train, which book will I take to read? and is it 15 minutes yet?

Oy.

Baby steps, I guess!

The Sounds of Silence

June 6, 2007

Have decided after yesterday's road rage temper tantrum in the car ( which fortunately no one but my steering wheel saw/heard) that I really need to start practicing some spiritual discipline, aside from my usual practice of getting up, drinking coffee and reading for awhile before work. These past few weeks I feel really out of touch with God, unsure how to meaningfully pray, and in need of... something.

The first discipline I decided to try is silence. I've read many references to silence; Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris, Richard Foster, Tony Jones, to name a few authors who espouse it. My practical brain wants step by step instructions, but I'm finding to my frustration that I have to figure it out for myself.

So, this morning I read the chapter on silence in Tony Jones' "The Sacred Way", and then started with 10 minutes of silence, sitting cross legged on my bed, with my ubiquitous cup of coffee, door closed and cell phone off, and tried to just listen.

I heard birds, trains, buses, clanking pipes from the plumbing supply place across the avenue, Jose the maintenance guy talking on his cell phone in Spanish (the office is below my window), and various other voices in the distance.

Tried to clear my mind and kept thinking about what I was going to write in my journal, and whether someday I will be able tp publish all my great, inspired writings. Talk about getting ahead of one's self.

Alternately, my mind kept wandering to the lyrics of the U2 song "Yahweh", which I suppose is a start.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Welcome to my new blog :)

Figured I should make some sort of introductory post so this page isn't completely blank while I get my act together. I started this blog for the purpose of organizing my religious/spiritual scribblings.

If you're more interested in the fangirlish/fiction-writing side of me, feel free to check out my live journal.

Right. Let the possibly deep ramblings begin!