Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fear

I am not a fan of fear, but it disregards my dislike and dogs my steps anyway. I don't mind so much when it presents itself honestly.  But I dislike the games that it plays, and I really hate when it gets dirty and violent.

Honest fears are a good thing and are there for a good reason.  My initial fear in tying into a rope and climbing up a rock is a healthy thing, and something that can turn to a respect.  Whether hiking, climbing, skiing or whatever, a certain amount of fear is a friend.  It leads to a respect of the mountains and forces of nature that could kill you if you do not give them the respect that you deserve.

I don't like the little sneaky fears that hang on to you, dragging you down.  Sometimes they are just little whispers that are barely noticed, but they affect how far you can go.  For example, when I first started to meet people out here when I moved, it seemed appropriate not to talk about my faith a whole lot.  I don't like to be "that person".  I think that was fine for a while, but as I came to know people better, I realized that they didn't really have any idea where I stood or why.  They didn't know me and never would unless I clued them in to the most important part of my life.  But once I realized that, I hesitated.  At first, it was not the right time. Later, it was the right time, but I found myself holding back.  I didn't even analyze why at first, because the tiny shadows of fear were easy to ignore.

But eventually I had to ask myself, why am I holding back? And I realized it was fear. Fear that they would not like me if they knew where my ultimate priority was.  Fear that they would think that I was less smart since I was still stuck in these backward beliefs of Christianity. Fear that they would think that I was judging them, since some of their lifestyle choices are not in line with some of my principles.

There are other times that fear plays an even nastier trick.  This is the one where life is cruising along fine and fear knocks you off your feet and takes your breath away, leaving you in a panic.  In the last couple of months, I have been doing a lot of skiing, climbing and started some other training as well.  This means time with friends, time outside, lots of endorphins, fun and some pretty good positive reinforcement.  Although the emptiness is never far from my mind, it has taken a back burner for a while... But only until something comes up to knock me down again.

Suddenly, there is this huge looming fear that this is all there will ever be.  There is fear that there is something wrong with me and that's why no one has ever wanted to marry me.  Or there is fear that there is something wrong with me and that's why I've never been terribly interested in some of the guys that I've dated (and the majority of them really have been quite nice).  Maybe I'm too confident and intimidating. Maybe I'm too shy and can't strike up a conversation right.  Maybe it's the circles around my eyes that never go away (I'm not the only person with German background to have this problem; so does Papa Ben!) Maybe none of that matters, I'm just doomed to never find anyone.  Maybe I will finally find someone and it will be too late for us to have kids.  Maybe there will never be meaning and purpose in my life.

So we have the good fear, the sneaky fear and the mean fear. The good fear keeps me in line, but I would call it more respect than fear.  Respect makes you do things smarter, fear keeps you from doing them at all.  Although it is a fine line, and when that fear threatens to make you not try, it is all the more satisfying to try and succeed. The sneaky fear just needs to be put in its place.  My friends are not my friends if they can't accept me for who I am, and I am not really their friend if I am making them feel judged.  Sure enough, when I started mentioning my faith more in conversation (not any preaching, just mentioning things like going to church when it fits naturally, things like that), they didn't even blink.  They are then more forthcoming about what they do and don't believe, and conversation happens. Really no big deal.

The mean fear is different.  It's not one that I can do much about.  The thing is, there's no guarantee that I will get married or have kids even if I do. There is a certain truth to those fears that makes it much harder to ignore.  I have known too many people who did not get to get married or have kids- despite their faith in God- to say that since God has provided this desire, it will definitely be fulfilled someday. That just isn't the case.  On the other hand, I can surrender it to Him.  Not on my own, but with His help, I can let it go.  That's all I can do.  I believe that He can overcome any and all of those obstacles, real and imagined. I can reach out and hope, realizing again that my hope is in and because of Him.  Knowing that I only need to take each day as it comes.

Perhaps it is not a very satisfying answer in some ways, but it is the only one I've got. Choosing hope over fear will not necessarily make all my dreams come true.  It will not guarantee that I will get married someday. But I will say this, though it doesn't mean that I will someday have a relationship with a husband, it does bring me closer in my relationship with my Beloved. And it allows Him to take care of that mean fear that is stronger than I am, but much less strong than He is.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quick Little Skiing Update

I mentioned yesterday that I would be trying some more backcountry skiing.  The boots were dreadfully uncomfortable, but I was having too much of a blast to notice too much.  It was a good time with fun people and I went down a trail with trees on either side and a little confidence that I was not going to run into the trees.  I have a little more control with the turns, but stopping is still iffy.  Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for you, there is photographic evidence of this.  I will not post anything so undignified here, but I'm sure my "friend" who took the picture will be sure to tag me on facebook. (She really is my friend, and I would have taken her picture, too, had the roles been reversed.  She did make sure I was okay before pulling out the camera.)

If you're friends with me on fb, enjoy. If it's half as awkward as it felt, it should be a little amusing.  I know I was laughing too hard to attempt to get up. If you're not friends with me on fb, and you'd like to be, email me.  And if you gave up fb for Lent, sorry I brought it up!

Friday, February 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 163)

1) Wow! Not sure about Lent so far.  I seem to be struggling a little to get it going this year. Either this is a bad sign, or if it will just get better as I get used to it again.  I definitely need it!

2) I know that there are people that give up types of food for Lent because they want to lose some weight over the 40 days.  I know that there are people that don't give up certain kinds of food because they don't want Lent to be about vanity, but about growing closer to God.  Me? I'm somewhere in the middle.  I like to give up certain foods because I think that it helps me to really get into the spirit of the season.  Unfortunately, I'm a little unholy in my glee when a couple of winter pounds come off.  I still think it's good to give up food, but there's a ways to go toward working toward a pure intention to go along with it!

3) I have written so many posts since I got my internet back.  Then I've reworked them.  Then I've deleted them.  I don't know what my deal is, but I just can't seem to get my thoughts to come out the way that I want them to.

4) Going to try some more skiing again tomorrow.  I'm kind of not looking forward to it.  I have a lot to do to get my stuff together, and what I'm really dreading is the boots that I have to use. I don't like bruised ankles, and these boots like to do that to me. I guess I should offer it up, eh?  I told you, I'm not doing Lent so well right now.

5) I have tried before to get plain yogurt to put in baking, and I failed.  I can't eat plain yogurt, even in baked goods.  However, I decided to try plain greek yogurt with a little fresh fruit.  I actually really like it! And I'm excited about not eating sugary fruit gel with my yogurt (even though I like said gel; I just think the fresh fruit is probably healthier).

6) Speaking of food, I'm actually cooking tonight!  I've been so busy that I haven't done that in a while, but let me tell you, cooking is way better than the other alternatives (mostly frozen food for me).  I kept sticking my head in the vegetable pot because it smelled so good (in case my oh-so-literal sisters read this, not actually in the pot)... And that was with only the vegetables.  Oh, and the peanuts.  It's a Thai type dish.  Someone asked me if I was going to use chicken or shrimp.  Those sound good too (especially the shrimp), but I went with tempeh.  I run from tofu, but I like tempeh.

7) I'm out of things to say and I want to get this published before I get distracted by something else, so here's your 7th quick take:

My view from last weekend

Have a great weekend and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What I Need for Ash Wednesday

It's amazing how much I can simultaneously look forward to and dread something.  Like Lent.  Every year it comes around, and I drag my feet and I can't wait all at the same time.  It's kind of like working out. I know it's not necessarily going to be fun, and even if it is fun, it'll be hard, but it is the challenge that makes it worth it.

I usually like to give up something that is taking up my time, and some sort of food. I like to give up some things that I feel like I "need".  I am nuts about sweets, and I think at times that I "need" sweets. Or I think that I "need" TV (to be honest, I'm not sure I'll totally give that up, but I am going to cut back).  I like that giving them up reminds me that I don't actually need them.  I am a huge fan of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well.  After all, I intellectually know that I don't need sweets or TV, but food is a necessity.  I like that the hunger for one day reminds us that it is not by bread alone that we live, but that there is something in our lives that we need even more than we need food.

I need Him.

I love that Lent gives us that time to empty ourselves of other things so that we have room for Him.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lent

I'm seeing Lent all over the place today, so I thought I'd add my 2 cents as well.  I don't know how everyone else celebrates Lent, but I find that I do best with things that I don't allow myself any wiggle room.  I like to give something up, something that makes me be a little less indulgent and more disciplined.  Not because what I'm giving up is bad, but because it is an emptying that allows more room for Christ in my life.  Those that know me know that I can't let myself get too hungry (I think my blood sugar drops, though I've never tested it, but it's not pretty when it happens), but if I skip some snacks and get a little hungry, it's a good reminder that we don't live by bread alone.

I know I'm a broken record, but I highly recommend that if you want to add something, add honoring the Lord's Day.  Most people are absolutely convinced that they are far too busy to do such a thing, but it is actually a commandment.  Seriously, do you think God would give you a commandment that would make your life worse? Typically, keeping Sunday holy would include things like not doing heavy physical work on Sunday, going to church, spending time with family and friends, relaxing, avoiding shopping or errands (remember that if you shop someone else is unable to honor Sunday because they have to be there for you). Because you can't run yourself crazy doing all those things, you may have a little more time to do some extra reading or devotions.

I love my Sundays.  It adds balance to my whole week, and I am so much more organized and able to get things done.  While it is a day set apart for Him, it is a day that I need.  I go to church, I usually try to call my family, if I do physical activity, it's usually an easy walk rather than something difficult, it's a good day to hang out with friends.  It is a day we need. After all, man was not made for the sabbath, but the sabbath was made for man.

How is everyone else getting ready for Lent?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Hour of the Arts

Way back, two whole weeks ago, I went to an art museum.  I don't do places like that.  I don't really do art or wine tastings or other classy things. My living room is currently strewn with trekking poles, various layers of winter clothing, my harness and rock shoes, etc. The finer things in life? Not so much.

Nonetheless, I figured it wouldn't hurt the horizons to have them stretched a bit, and there was supposed to be a photography exhibit that several people told me that I needed to see, so I did. And then I checked out some of their other exhibits as well, seeing as how I was there and I had paid. I don't know how much I will remember (since my internet provider decided I didn't need internet for 12 days- but who's counting, right?), but I will try.

Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures.  I sort of figured that might be bad form in an art museum. But I'll still tell you all about it.  (Hey! Where'd everybody go?)

The photography exhibit was definitely interesting.  This photographer does a number of photos from the mountains out here, but she's also done some extensive traveling around the world. One thing that she does is that all of her photos were in black and white. I'm not sure how I feel about that. The pictures of my mountains in black and white drove me a little nuts, kind of like Ansel Adams' photography.  At least in Adams' case he didn't have much of a choice, but this photographer did.  One of the things that I love about the mountains is the richness of the various colors, especially perhaps the awesome blue of the sky. Something about seeing those in black and white made me feel like I couldn't really see the picture and I was just looking at shadows.  However, she also had some portraits from locally and all over the world.  Those I love in black and white.  For example:


I mean, how can you not love black and white portraits?  Now in this case, we are also missing out on some awesome baby blues, but I love the way the black and white fades everything else out so you just see amazing sweetness of this little face. I love the picture in color, too, but there's something about the black and white.*

Some of the architecture shots in black and white were pretty cool as well, because it brings out the lines.  But landscapes and flowers?  I want color, people!

Next I went to the permanent collection. There were paintings and pottery and sculptures and photographs.  Some I liked, some I didn't.  Some I took some time with to give them a chance.  Most had a western flare to reflect our location.  All well and good.  The last place that I visited was the 60's and newer room.

Whoa.

Random things like a cat and a road (not a cat standing on the road, because it was much bigger than the road), I don't get. A sculpture of a pencil lead that also sort of looks like a warhead that's supposed to be a "humorous" commentary of some sort.  I don't get that either.  How about the paper with a couple of scribbles on it?  They weren't quite letters and they weren't quite shapes, but there were about four of them in a row.  The "explanation" of the artist was that sometimes it's not about executing a vision as much as it is attacking the medium and seeing what comes of it.  Let me tell you what comes of it: SOMETHING THAT A 3 YEAR OLD COULD DO. Swirls of paint on a canvas? If I can do it, it's not art. Splatters of paint on a canvas that look like depression one direction and hope another? Buddy, several paint cans threw up on your canvas.  It's not a commentary on life.  I suppose the long canvas with bright, bold stripes looked okay, but they're stripes.  I'm not so sure they're art; maybe just a bold decorating choice.

Some of the pieces did require some sort of talent or skill; it just looked like a waste of talent and skill and time and resources. As I read some of the explanations of these various pieces, I felt like I was wandering into a sort of "Emperor's New Clothes" type of situation.  Do people really see art in that, or do they just say that they do because someone told them it was artsy and hung it in a museum, so it must be art? I wonder on some of those who's the biggest fool, the one who first called it art or the one that agreed that it was art and hung it in a museum.

Now, if you are one of those people that appreciates that kind of art, I will freely admit that I am far too uncouth to understand and you may look down your nose at my plebeian tastes. I, however, will stand by my assertion that if you have to explain it to me, it's not art!

Anyway, I finished up my tour.  I had tried to take my time to soak it in and not rush.  If I was going to expand my horizons I wanted to give them all the time they needed to expand. I even paused for several whole seconds in front of some of the items. I had plenty of time that afternoon, and it seemed like I successfully whiled away plenty of time in there.

Yep.  A whole hour.  That's it. I guess it's going to take a lot more work to refine me and expand my art horizons!

*This is the little guy of an amazing friend of mine; and he's got some awfully cute brothers as well. I can prove that they are all cute, and here you go (even though these pictures are 6 months old and all these boys have had the audacity to keep getting more and more huge- can't wait to see them soon!) :


Loving on baby brother (one of the few times he actually sat still enough to take a picture... There were too many couches that needed to be climbed and jumped off)

Showing us the muscles
Just because I had to prove the point about those blue eyes

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dear Provider of the Interwebs to My Home


You and I? We have a problem.  You see, I pay you to let me have internet, only you are not providing said service.  You say there has been a problem for a couple of months.  You tell me that you have been trying to contact me for months to let me know that it needs to be taken care of. 
You say that the dog was in the yard when you needed to hook up the internet, and because of that, you couldn’t do it then, so you “turned it on up the street” (what does that even mean?), but it was only a temporary solution.  Funny thing. The day that you were supposed to hook it up and the dog was in the way, I did not get internet. When I called (the very next day, not months later- I do not mess around when it comes to my internet access!), we set up a new time.  The dog was no longer in the way. That night I had internet.
Either you have no record of the second time, or the second time you were still too scared of the dog (even though he was penned away from where he could get to you), and so you still did not set it up correctly.  Only you didn’t contact me to let me know there was a problem.  You say you did, but really? I find that very hard to believe.  You send me my phone bill; I would think you should be able to find my number. If the phone’s too complicated, my bill keeps showing up in the mail. And I keep paying it.  Perhaps you could have thought to send me something?
But, no.  Instead I come home one day to find no internet waiting for me. When I call you and you leave me on hold forever, you finally get on and have to start all over with new account information crap when I have been with you for years now. You give me a deal on my internet service, but you also tell me I have a new hook up fee.  You don’t believe me that my modem is new enough to handle the technology and you really want to sell me a new one. (Hello!  The old one worked fine until you disconnected my internet!) Then you tell me that you’ll send the new one and if the old one works, I can just send it back. And pay $15 in shipping and handling.  No, I do not think I will be doing that.Finally, we cannot complete the call because my break is over (you know, because of the whole being on hold thing) and you tell me that you will call me back. But you didn’t. Are you trying to drive away your customers?

This interruption is interfering with my ability to check blogs (yeah, I know you don't care about that, but I do), I can't check weather or avalanche conditions for my various outings, it led to an awkward lag of communication in email for someone who needed an answer from me, it is limiting some of the work that I need to do, and I can't relax at night with Netflix.  Some of those things (esp. that last one) I can live without quite easily.  It's problematic (but not impossible) to not be able to catch up on my work stuff. It's really a problem that I can't check things like avalanche conditions!
 Just turn my internet back on! Please?!
PS. You bet your backside I would be going elsewhere if you hadn’t offered me a really good deal to stay. And also? If I don’t get the deal and perhaps some service (internet service and customer service) ASAP, I’ll still go elsewhere.  And maybe attach your name to this post!

PPS: Clearly I'm having to make an inconvenient trip elsewhere just in order to post this. Thanks for that.

PPPS: To all the readers who are not errant internet providers not providing internet, I hope to read and comment on your blogs soon, but obviously it will be a little spotty when I can get to it!

Friday, February 3, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday


--1--
Oh, dang.  I am one of those bloggers now.  Those bloggers for whom an experience is not complete unless it's been blogged about. Yes, friends, I am the one that gives a bad name to bloggers.  The one that makes non-bloggers wonder why we just can't live life without hitting the publish button every so often. Yep. I am that person.  But, seriously! My trip to the art museum won't be complete until I tell you all about it! It may even take a couple of posts.

--2--
It's snowing right now.  I love it! I used to hate the snow, but it used to turn my commute into a headache and cancel outings with friends.  Now I don't really commute, and new snow is an excuse to get out to play with friends. (Yes, I am 31 going on 8.)

--3--
So. Does anyone know how to change your blog screen name? When I signed up, I was lazy and just used initials. It was fine then, because who even knew if anyone would read my blog? Besides, they're just letters. Now I would love to change it to the written out "Catholic Mutt". It turns out that some people do read my blog, and I have gotten to "meet" a lot of people in the infertile community. I can't even tell you how much I hate leaving that first comment on a new blog and have them wonder who the heck has such unfortunate initials.  Maybe this doesn't mean much to some of you, but my initials happen also be an often used abbreviation on such blogs.  Let's please not discuss what it stands for!

--4--
I don't know if I have a lot to say or nothing to say about the HHS mandate.  I'm so angry about it, and sad by it, and so many things.  Argh! That's about all the eloquence I can muster on the subject so far.

--5--
I was reading a blog a couple weeks ago. It was fairly new to me, so I didn't say anything when I noticed a certain typo. (Seriously, I try to never mention typos/grammatical errors because if I started, I'm not sure where I would stop! People would have to start shunning me in blogland.  That or start pointing out all my own errors, of which there are plenty.  Although, do please learn the difference between phase and faze. Also peak and pique.  Thanks so much!) However, this one amused me.  Someone was talking about a new breakfast item that filled them up until lunch. Only what they said was "it feels me up all morning."  Too funny! 

--6--
I am aware that I have an unfinished series on the Mass going.  I will finish it eventually, I promise!  I have a lot more to say, but I just haven't gotten to it yet.

--7--
It's Super Bowl weekend!  If I watch the game, it'll be the first one I watched all season.  I don't care a lot who wins, but I admit that I'd prefer to see the Giants win just because the Pats have won it too many times in the recent years.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Waiting

Crazy much?

In my case, the answer is yes. Yes, I am.  I realized the truth of this when my alarm went off "this morning." It wasn't really morning so much as it was the middle of the night*, yet I was surprisingly wide awake when I retrieved my clothes from the waiting pile. I even stayed awake as I grabbed my backpack and drove through the dark to the trailhead, where I would meet up with the other crazy yahoos whose fault this was. Surprisingly enough, I wasn't the only car on the road.  I have no idea what that fool was doing on the road at that time of day.

Our objective at this hour? To do a work out.  But not just any work out.  Two miles up a "trail" but it's so steep that you have to take a different trail down; one that's almost double the length to make it a safer angle for descent. (Some people go down the same way, but those people are just nuts.) As soon as I pulled up, my companions jumped out of their car, and we put on our fantastically fashionable headlamps and backpacks to head up the mountain in the dark.

Initially, there were excited greetings and chatting, but then the gradual uphill became less gradual. Chatting whittled down to a few short exchanges of information.  I was aware of where my hiking partners were, but we didn't talk much.  The walk was fun at first, because of the excitement of the challenge that lay ahead.  Then I got settled into a nice zone of taking one step at a time and breathing.  Lucky for me, my light only illuminated the few steps in front of me. I could not see or think about the number of steps that I still had to go.

As time passed, the trail got harder.  Bigger steps, more tired feet. I knew where my friends were the whole time, but we began to spread out as we all went our own pace.  The darkness and the effort succeeded in isolating me at that moment. One step, breathe, another step. Hard, but doable for a while.  Then the more tired I got, some of the steps seemed impossible.  How can I possibly take that one more step when that one step is so freaking huge?

Eventually the time came that I knew. I knew that it was absolutely, positively impossible for me to take another step.  The really unfortunate thing about that moment was that I was still standing on the d**n hill.  I was well past the halfway point that had a good escape, but I was still about 1/3 of the way to the top. The only way out of the predicament that I was in was to keep taking one more step.

That, my friends, is how waiting has treated me sometimes. It started out full of exciting possibilities.  When it started to get a little tough, I reveled in the challenge, determined to do well in conquering it. Then I got more focused, and was not so concerned with conquering as with continuing, until finally I landed smack in the middle of "oh, crap, I can't do this", followed by "oh, double crap, there's no way out, I just have to carry on even when I can't anymore."

Standing on the hill, I stopped a minute to breathe and take a drink of water.  Then I started with one more step at a time. One of the other hikers passed me, and let me know that the angle lessened for a while before it got steep again.  I knew I could keep going to the point that it got easier, and I only hoped it would give me enough of a rest that I could make it up that steeper point.  Just as the steeper part of the trail started to whup me and leave me on the side of the road for dead, the second hiker yelled from the top, letting us know that he had made it and we were close.  Step, step, step. Finally, his voice came out of the darkness, but very close by, only a few more steps and we were done.  Yeah, we still had to go down, but we were done with the up. Trust me, the view from up there, even in the dark, was fantastic. On the way down, we were back to conversation, seeing as how we could breathe again. We enjoyed the stars, the endorphins, and the satisfaction of a job well done.

I would say to all those who wait with me (waiting for a husband, or a child, or for a job, or a better living situation, or for health, or for whatever it is right now), you are not alone on the d**n hill. Stop and take a breather when you need to. Grab a drink.  The angle will get more manageable at times and steeper at others. We're in this together, and hopefully sometime soon, we'll all be standing at the top together, taking in the view.  Here's to hope and one more step!

*No, I am not going to tell you what time it was.  I'm trying to repress the memory.