Five Question Friday: September 23, 2011

Good morning. Another Friday has arrived so this must mean Five Question day! But before I go there, I am taking a moment to update you on what’s going on here. As many of you know, Dad had an abdominal aneurism rupture earlier this week. He did make it to the hospital~in the nick of time I was told last night~and a procedure was performed to fix the many leaks of blood into his abdomen. We thought all was fine, but he continued to lose blood so last night another procedure was performed to fix more leaks that were discovered via CT Scan. The surgeon expressed concern that there may be even more leaks that he was unable to reach. Dad is resting now but if he continues to lose blood, surgery will have to be performed, probably on Monday. As my brother relayed to me last night, “Dad is in a fight for his life.” ~Those are not words a daughter wants to hear. The next days will be telling and there is a real possibility (probability) that I will be heading to Louisville on Sunday. If I disappear from the blogosphere for a while, you will know why. Blogging is therapeutic for me so I may stick around anyway, who knows. . . At any rate, if you are a praying person, or believe in a higher power or the power of positive thinking or nothing at all, I would appreciate positive thoughts, well-wishes, and sincere prayers on behalf of Dad, Mom, too. This is extremely hard on her. They have been together just shy of 60 years. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Now, on to our questions of the day:

1. Dream job…realistic and completely unrealistic.

Realistically speaking, my dream job is what I’m preparing for right now: Mental Health Counseling. Sometime in 2013 I will become a Licensed Clinical Counselor and then will start working on certification in Art Therapy, Spiritual Direction and Counseling, and any other creative arts that will enhance the counseling aspect of what I do. These are exciting (and draining) times as I pursue my dreams! The unrealistic dream job is to become a world-traveler/photographer writing about and photographing exotic places, cultures and people for National Geographic. 🙂 Now wouldn’t that be fun!

2. Do you fart in front of your significant other?   I don’t know where they come up with these questions, but some of them are crude and I choose not to do crude. So let’s try this one from “Reflections of a Wild Artist” at HeronDance.orgWhen you consider your life in the overall context of the tendency of species to come and go, and the distinct possibility that humans too will someday disappear, what is important in your life, your accomplishments?

I am once again reminded of the importance of family and close friends in our lives. Relationships form the threads that bind the experiences of our lives into a tapestry. Relationships are not necessarily accomplishments, but that which helps mold the person we become, the conscience that guides us, the spirit that compels us to love, to care, to create, to do, to be. As for accomplishments, I am tempted to say raising my children. But somehow that is not “my” accomplishment. Rather that is also about relationships and cultivating a parent-child relationship in which we both work toward growth, maturity and accepting personal responsibility and accountability in adulthood. In that sense, my children and I have done a respectable job! What have I accomplished? I will have to think about that one. Everything I “accomplish” is done in relationship. So maybe that’s my accomplishment: cultivating wonderful relationships with many people of many backgrounds. …… The response to this question could go on and on, but I think it’s time to stop for now….I would love to hear your responses, though.

3. What’s the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home? How far and where was it?

Hmmm…. My first thought is Nicaragua. I really should write about that experience. Maybe I will work on a blog about my travels to that country in the future. It is certainly the furthest culturally from my home. Miles? I’m not so sure. I’ve been to Hawaii and that’s a lot of miles (also distant from my cultural home~go to the Polynesian Cultural Center for a fascinating look at the many cultures of the Pacific Islands.)

4. How do you celebrate birthday for your kids? Family only or friends? … Alternate for those without kiddos: How did you celebrate birthdays as a kid?

When the kids were young, it was usually birthday cakes, gifts and maybe a few friends. We never did the over-the-top children’s parties. As a twin, we primarily had family gatherings but when we did have friends over, we celebrated with two cakes, a boy cake for him and a girl cake for me. 🙂 Richard and I don’t do a lot for birthdays or special events. I have discovered that the daily affirmations of respect and love outweigh~by far~occasional cards that express what we express to each other daily. Having said that however, we do remember those days, and wish each other a “happy birthday” or anniversary. We have made a point of giving donations to special charities on birthdays and anniversaries. In a matter of weeks we will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary and we are planning to do a few special things for our religious community and certain charities in celebration.

5. Fave thing about fall?

Undoubtedly my favorite thing about fall is the vivid colors! I enjoy the air becoming crisper and brisk(er) with the fall season, but the colors are a feast for the eyes and as a visual person, I love it, despite the fact that autumn ushers in winter.

Soooooo. . . That wraps it up for this week. 🙂 I look forward to your responses. Have a great weekend and week!  Next Friday I will be celebrating Rosh Hoshannah so I won’t be around for Five Question Friday. That holiday begins the Jewish New Year, so to all my Jewish friends, L’shana tova tekaseiv v’teichaseim l’alter l’chaim tovim u’l’shalom ~ may you be written and sealed for a good year, for a good life and for peace.

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Versatile Blogger Award!

Wow!  An incredible blogger colleague, PanicMonster, nominated me for the VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD! Imagine that! What a nice surprise, and a humbling experience.  Thank you PM.

I have been blessed to meet some incredible and talented people through this medium called “blogging.” As this blog has grown, and as I’ve added other blogs, my network keeps expanding.  Having read many other excellent blogs, I am even more amazed that I was nominated for this award.  Wow.

The Versatile Blogger Award is an award passed from blogger to blogger. As with any award, there are responsibilities that go with it.  This award not only increases your blog’s visibility in the blogging world, but it is a way to expose a little about the blogger behind the blog (in this case, me).  Finally, as the awardee, one get to  share with her/his readers who  their favorite bloggers and writers are.

Here is how it works:

1) Link back to the blogger that gave me the award .
2) Tell you 7 random things about myself.
3) Choose 15 other blogs to pass the award to.
4) Inform the other bloggers that I’m passing the award to them.

Ok here we go…

(PM, I hope you don’t mind that I used your post as a model.)

1.  Skydiving

accomplished.

It was a static-line jump.  And it was EXHILARATING!  Why did I do this?  To impress a man!  I was just getting back into the dating scene, fresh out of a painful divorce, and I was fearless and adventuresome and having the time of my life. Don’t know what ever happened to the man, but I made a few jumps before I hung up my chute! (see post https://ceceliafutch.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/my-untethering-moment/)  I also learned to dare myself to try new things, explore new places, experience a full life.

2. I’ve lived in LA, KY, PA, NY, NH, OH, MI, MD and now in VA.

3. I spent three weeks in Nicaragua to see/find out what our politicians were not telling us! wonderful eye-opening experience….and I found out that no matter how much I learned, there is a LOT I still don’t know.

4. I love to camp!

The Laubin's Tepee, Wyoming

Camped a LOT in a Teepee growing up. (Hand made by my parents, modeled after the style of the Oglala Sioux. We even stripped pine trees for the poles….nasty work….great memories though, of growing up and camping and seeing the country)

5.  Learned to cross-country ski when I was in my late 40s. Great exercise and a lot of fun if you like being out in nature in winter time.

6. My family is growing!

7.  Avid reader: I love good books; not crazy about cheap, dime-a-dozen paperbacks. I like the feel of a hard cover, to get lost in the story, to feel that I’ve read something of substance when I’m done. Religious writings, great novels, my weak subjects in school but that wish I now knew more about: fractals and physics, math and numbers, etc.

8.  I like GREEN: by that i mean I have a compost pile, I recycle, i have an awesome Honda Fit that averages 35 mpg, etc.

9.  Pets!

Love animals; have always had a pet or two. This is Pele.

10.  Road Trips.

Love to travel. My husband and I are great travelers together and have been to Montreal and Toronto, Vermont, NY, NJ, OH, KY, MI, MD, VT, WV, VA, and lots of other places, too.  We LOVE to travel.

11.  I play(ed) piano!

my piano
My Piano

I played piano quite well at one point in my life. Now when I play it is purely for my own enjoyment…..no one else would enjoy it….i’m too rusty!

12.   I have an awesome thimble collection that most people have never seen. As often as we move, they are a lot of trouble to unpack and then pack again….one day I’ll find a good way to display them so that I can leave them out…..there are a LOT of them. If you have any interesting thimbles you want to get rid of, see me!

13.  I am a twin!

There were three sets of twins in the same class when we started school in rural, small-town Marion, LA.  My brother and I are in the center.  🙂  Unfortunately I don’t have any recent pictures of the two of us.

14. Coffee drinker.

I like a good cup of coffee…..no frills, no extras, no bells and whistles….JUST a good cup of coffee….black and strong.

15.  I love to dance, even though it’s been a long time and I usually only dance when no one is watching and I can let loose and be wild!  ….and to beat a drum (I have one that is thunderous but seldom used because it may scare the neighbors) and play a handmade Cherokee flute and a bowed psaltery and …..etc.

So there you have it! Now it is your turn.  The following are blogs that I follow and recommend to you.  These are my nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award!

There were others I wanted to nominate, but if you already received the award, I took you off my list.  If I skipped over anyone, please accept my apologies.  This is the most difficult part about receiving an award!

Thanks again, PM!  and a fantastic day to all!

EEEEEEKKKK!  No wonder this took me so long!  I was supposed to tell you SEVEN things about myself, NOT fifteen!  I got my numbers mixed up!  Oy vey…  a senior moment for sure!  But I worked too long and hard putting this thing together to start tearing it apart, so just pick out seven things about me that you like and ignore the rest!  Hahahahaha 😀

LIFE: The Great Ordeal

In my readings this week I came across a statement that I found to be profound:  “Who are these robed in white, and where have they come from? . . . These are they who have come out of the great ordeal . . . . They will hunger no more, and thirst no more . . . For they will be guided to springs of the water of life, and every tear will be wiped from their eyes.”   These words are beautiful words indeed. I don’t know the context in which they were written.  Scholars ponder the particularities surrounding the writing of these words. Debate is intense, encompassing all camps from the conservative fundamentalist to the rational moderates to the radical liberals. It seems that when it comes to this book, the Revelation to John, most folk are pretty opinionated. I am not going to try to reveal the “original” meaning of these words. I am not going to try to interpret prophesies of which even the experts cannot agree. I am not going to talk about the civil or social history of the times. I don’t know what was happening in the first century c.e. The best any of us can do is offer up speculation based on someone else’s writings, or archeological digs, or whatever. However, I do know what is happening in this world today. I do know what is happening around the country, and in the lives of my friends–and enemies. I know what is happening in my family, and in my life. I do know that regardless of the author’s intentions, these words are rich in meaning for us today.

Life is an ordeal, isn’t it. It doesn’t take someone with a sharp analytical mind to figure that one out. We are hurting people. We are hungry for healing and wholeness regardless of our social or economic location. We may often wonder if we can possibly come out of this great ordeal called life. I am not a Matthew Fox fan, however, this priest/writer/spiritual guide and social activist put forth a theory in his work on creation spirituality that is worth noting. Basically, he contends that we are all oppressed, we are all hurting and in need of healing, we all need to be liberated from that which binds us. The wealthy and the comfortable among us need spiritual liberation, or we will forever hunger and thirst for things which never satisfy.  The poor, the most physically challenged among us need physical liberation in the form of food, adequate shelter and respect. We may be spiritually wealthy, but without physical necessities, we die. Wherever we are located along this spectrum, we each know in our own way what an ordeal life presents.

Years ago I had the opportunity to spend two weeks at a conference at Drew University. One evening a group of us took the train into New York City to see the sights. A resident of that city, a Korean woman, accompanied us as our guide. She took us into the Asian section, then we walked to the Empire State Building. We stopped along the way and did all the “touristy” things. That evening, she took us to the garment district where we ate at a Chinese restaurant/ cafeteria. We ordered our food at the counter, ate at long tables and sat in folding chairs. It wasn’t a fancy place, but the food was delicious, and, as is typical in Chinese restaurants, we had more than our fill. While we sat there laughing, talking and eating, a pregnant woman walked in. She appeared to be spaced out on drugs, even to our inexperienced eyes. She walked to one of the tables and picked up a bottle of Tabasco sauce which she proceeded to pour into a Styrofoam cup. On another counter sat a Bunn Coffee Maker from which she poured hot water into her cup, thus making a soup with the sauce. When asked, the waiter told us that this was her evening meal. We sat and we watched. Our bellies were filled.  But, our souls were famished for we thought we were helpless. Life is the great ordeal to both the filled and the unfilled.

While in Nicaragua, I learned of many other kinds of life ordeals. Poverty, hunger, war. That is a country where two thirds of the population are women and children under the age of 14. There are no role models. There are no teachers. Life is a great ordeal for the entire nation, as it is for two-thirds of the world.  I thought, “Those poor, poor folks.” But, I was brought up short by a woman I met in one of the base communities. This is the gist of what she said: We used to think of G!d as being in heaven. But now I know better. G!d is in our boat with us. G!d lives in each of us. So, when I look at you, I see a spark of the Divine. And I have faith…. We are in the storm, the great ordeal.  But G!d is with us.  And in the middle of the storm, the Divine spark within us brings peace. We are in this ordeal together. We are community, together. And if we are to know the calm, we must see the Divine light in each other.

We have a choice here. We can interpret these words to mean that in eternity, in the future, after this life has been lived, if we but persevere, G!d will take us to the promised land where all will be well with our souls. This is good.  But what about life on this side of the grave?

There is another way to look at this passage. G!d is here, now, today, working in this world, empowering us through the great ordeals and sorrows of life. What would these words mean, if, as the Nicaraguan peasant woman, we saw the image of G!d in all whom we encountered? What would these words mean in how we related with each other and with G!d? What would happen if we lived as if this were so? These words then offer the possibility of radical transformation. Living as if these words were being wrought in our lives in the here and now is actually mind boggling. To live as if we truly believed we were created in the image of G!d, that we reflect Divine light to others, would most certainly bring healing to our bodies, our souls, our nation, and all of creation.  Imagine what would happen! Wars would cease. We could only have compassion for those whom we now call our enemy. Poverty would be eradicated. Physical abuse would not be tolerated. Lines of demarcation which divide people, and oppress all of society, would become ways of valuing the diversity and differences, all of which reflects the depth and breadth of G!d.  To this, add your own dreams for a healed world.

You may be saying this is wishful thinking. And I would say, yes, you are right–except for that little voice
that keeps reminding me the beginning of transformation is within each one of us. For each of us, to believe that G!d will guide us to springs of the water of life is to believe that we will come through the great ordeal. G!d is guiding us when we are moved to call a friend in need, or when we call a friend when we are in need. G!d is guiding us when we pause to listen to a child’s chatter when we really have better things to do. G!d is guiding us when we periodically leave canned goods for the food pantry or gemach, for people we will never see or to whom we will never speak.  G!d is guiding us when we choose to walk in just ways through unjust situations.

With every mouth that is fed, with every thirst that is quenched, with every body that is adequately clothed and sheltered, with every soul that is nurtured, with every life that is birthed, with every death that is honored, within and without, individually and globally, G!d is guiding us to springs of the water of life where  our tears will be wiped away. Then sorrow will cease to hold sway over our being. Depression will give way to joy. Contentment will replace dissatisfaction and cynicism. All this, just for truly believing we are beings created in G!d’s image. “Who are these robed in white, and where have they come from? . . . These are they who have come out of the great ordeal. . . . They will hunger no more, and thirst no more . . . For they will be guided to springs of the water of life, and every tear will be wiped from their eyes.”