For some reason, ’tis the season for reflecting on the last year, for me.  Entirely independent of Darren Rouse’s ProBlogger project, by the way, though it fits in nicely there, too.

I have wondered, over the last 4 or 5 months particularly, if the growth I experienced in the year-and-a-half before this summer was over.  I have felt blah…blah’er than blah, in fact.  So blah I wondered if I was, in fact, growing backwards and not forwards.  But, as I reflect, I see forward motion.  Not the sort of forward motion that’s “as the crow flies” or “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line,” but the sort of forward motion that wanders all over the place and yet, somehow, ends up in front of where it began.

I don’t really know how to put it in to words…I think that’s why I keep thinking about it.  So much has happened, so much has shifted and changed in ways I can’t quite touch.  There are, though, a few things that I know.
I know that God has made himself more real to me, particularly in the world external to my heart.  That’s a weird way to say it, but it makes sense to me.  My relationship with God has always been very internal, particularly after my retreat, but before then, too.  I knew he was there, and it was internally that most of my interaction with him took place.  In the last year, he’s shown me that he’s outside of me, too.  He has provided for me, from paying for the stupid traffic ticket, to finding Dave a job, to moving in other people’s hearts to give us money.  He has provided us with a great apartment, and is in the process of providing a great, cheap home for my turtle.

I also know that I have developed, over this last year, a deeper sense of what I want to do on this earth.  I’ve remembered my dreams, and am figuring out how to make them come true.  Like I said before, I’m becoming comfortable with investing in myself, in my gifts and my talents and the things I love.  I’m coming to believe that it is possible to do what I want to do in life, and to live life the way I want to live it.

Finally, I know that Dave’s love has changed me this year.  I read somewhere recently that you know you love someone if they change because of your love.  They can become softer, more gentle, and more open, or they can become hardened, more bitter, more closed, but they will change if you really love them.  Dave loves me, and hence my heart is different.  I have different eyes to see with and ears to hear with.  I am more open to the world being different than I expected it to be.  I’m more confident to step out into the world as myself, rather than as the person I think I should be.  And I love him.  Love has grown in me until I look at him and just see how spectacular he is, how wonderful he was created to be.  I’m not sure how yet, but that has changed me to.

Ok…enough rambling.  It has been a good year, though I may not know exactly why for another year or two or three.  But that’s ok; I’m here, and I’m living, and I’m committed to my life in a way I wasn’t a year ago.  This is good.

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A Year in Review

16 December 2006

This time last year, I was poor, with only the prospect of becoming poorer in my immediate future.  That’s why I was a “senior escort” at grad graduation last December…they promised me a Master’s robe that I could wear that Spring when I graduated.  Since my prospects were so down, I did it for the gown.  That does explain why I was so pissed when they gave me an undergrad gown and looked at me like I was crazy to ask for something else.

A lot has changed since then.  I’ve seen God provide money when there wasn’t any other way.  I’ve seen him change hearts, mostly my own, to make things happen in life that I had never thought about actually having in my life.

I’ve also grown up a lot.  I’ve come to have, if not an exact idea, a better, more realistic idea of what it will take to live the kind of life I want.  I’ve started developing and collecting a portfolio of my writing.  I’ve started learning how to market myself and my work.  I’ve started investing in myself and in living the kind of live that I want to live.  I’ve realized that my life really is mine to shape, to mold, to make into something in partnership with Dave and God.  I don’t have to wait for things to happen; I can go after them.

I’ve also realized and accepted a realistic view of my place in the world.  I’m not going to be able to change the world.  However, I can live and love and influence and help people.  I don’t need to change the world, and that’s not really a burden that i want to carry anymore.  It’s a little disappointing, but it’s a relief at the same time.

More than anything, though, growing in relationship with Dave has changed my life.  I’m trying not to cry as I write this, because it’s all so important to me.  Coming to trust him and accept his weaknesses and rejoice when his strengths are different than my own has changed me.  I’m not entirely sure all of how it’s changed me, but it has.

Darfur

14 December 2006

Right now, iTunes has an NBC news special on the crisis in the Sudan* available for free download.  Since I’m all about things I can listen to for free, I downloaded it.  I’m not usually one who jumps on every bandwagon that comes along, but this really touched me.

Beyond the systematic extermination of people through murder and rape (because no one will marry a woman who has been raped, so the people won’t reproduce), what struck me in this segment were some comments about our government.  I’m not quoting exactly, but they said something approximating, “Just like the Clinton administration with Rwanda, the Bush administration doesn’t want to bring up the conflict in the Sudan because they don’t know how to fix it.”

Now, I know that politics are important, and that we are in a culture that doesn’t understand that sometimes there just aren’t easy solutions, but to not acknowledge a suffering people because you can’t make it all better and so people won’t like you as much seems horribly selfish.   The courageous route seems to be acknowledging the problem, and the difficulty of the problem, and saying, “We don’t know how to help.  We don’t know what will work, but we want to work with you to solve it, or to alleviate some of the suffering.”

It disturbs me that, by and large, we are a nation that can’t deal with unsolvable problems.  We face them everywhere.  I read somewhere recently that every marriage has a handful of problems that won’t be solved, and that the best thing to do is identify them and figure out how you can deal with them as a team, so that you don’t argue on, ad infitem, about them, and end up resentful of each other.  The fact that we, as a culture, just don’t see any problem that we can’t solve makes me shudder.  That, and the fact that fewer people would be suffering if we were willing to try out solutions that may or may not work.
*It was seeing pictures and comments in the back of a Newsweek about this crisis that first opened me (at all!) to relief and social justice work.  I hadn’t really been interested before, but they had this picture with a comment about how most Americans would never really know what happened there, particularly how terrible it was, because they wouldn’t go and there was no way to communicate it in words.  I realized then how important it is for us to try, to try to understand, even if we can’t, because if we don’t have any understanding, we won’t care enough to try to change anything.

While driving home from church the other day, we were behind one of those behemoth vehicles…you know, the ones where you can’t help but wonder if the driver is compensating for something? Right, those. And it was called an “escalade.” Now, I’ve seen an example of the Escalade before, but I never really pondered it. On Sunday, I did.
At that point, I didn’t know “escalade” was a word. However, it does remind me of two other words:

  • escalate. As in, “Oh yeah? Toyota made their new SUV how big? Well, we’ll just see about that…let’s escalate this conflict as far as we can.”
  • escapade. As in, “Hmm…I know…let’s make the next one even bigger and badder. Won’t that be an escapade to put on our resumes!”

I later found out that “escalade” is in fact a word. It means (and I quote), “the scaling of fortified walls using ladders, as a form of military attack.” As in, “We’ll launch an escalade against their sorry asses. See if they can withstand the size of this baby!”

So that’s what SUVs are for…driving through walls.

Ok, I really promise I’ll stop writing about being sick.  Though this one might be a little more interesting than the others.

I keep wondering what it says about me that, every time I get stressed or get over being stressed, I get sick.  I mean, I suppose that’s one way of dealing with it.  The weird thing is, it’s not like I don’t deal with it in other ways.  I journal, I talk to people, I exercise some, and I even cry when I need to.  I’m also pretty aware of the stress I’m carrying, most of the time.

For instance, I know that I’m carrying a lot of stress even when I’m not feeling it acutely right now.  My life-change stress is…well, not off-the-map, but high.  I’ve had two grandparents die in the last year, I’ll be moving, I graduated, got a new job, will get married, and will have at least two pretty significant financial changes.  It adds up.  I know that.  But I’m wondering why it’s making me sick.

I don’t think I’m “worried” about all of this, persay, but I am curious.  I know that some people, in stressful times, don’t get sick at all.  They are amazingly healthy until the stress is over, and then they get really, really sick.  Others don’t get sick at all.  But I get sick a lot, particularly when things change.  For instance, the last time I got sick this often, I had started my first “real job” and was working with a lot of little, autistic kids.  I just don’t know what to make of it, is all.
Ok, I’ll stop, because I’m rambling.  I swear I’ll write about something else tomorrow.

Just call me Syd

20 September 2006

“There is also “Gold Base,” the exclusive desert compound housing the Religious Technology Center, or RTC, the financial hub of the church, located about eighty miles southeast of Los Angeles, home to David Miscavige, the charismatic forty-five-year-old who heads up the international church.”

That’s from the really disturbing article in Rolling Stone about Scientology. The above paragraph makes me really want to throw on a wig, speak some Chinese, and do some Alias-style espionage.*

Now I’m probably on their “watch list.” Maybe the Scientology thugs are going to come get me in the middle of the night.

Good thing I’m a black belt.

*Where “espionage” equals “taking all of their money, bankrupting them, and kicking some serious security-guard ass.

Just call me Syd

20 September 2006

“There is also “Gold Base,” the exclusive desert compound housing the Religious Technology Center, or RTC, the financial hub of the church, located about eighty miles southeast of Los Angeles, home to David Miscavige, the charismatic forty-five-year-old who heads up the international church.”

That’s from the really disturbing article in Rolling Stone about Scientology. The above paragraph makes me really want to throw on a wig, speak some Chinese, and do some Alias-style espionage.*

Now I’m probably on their “watch list.” Maybe the Scientology thugs are going to come get me in the middle of the night.

Good thing I’m a black belt.

*Where “espionage” equals “taking all of their money, bankrupting them, and kicking some serious security-guard ass.