Category Archives: Faith

That Long Trip Home

That Long Trip Home

“The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before, it always leads me here
Leads me to your door”

 John Lennon, Paul McCartney


The God of full moon watched over me all evening as I drove southeast through the rolling hills of Oklahoma. I welcomed her presence, kept looking up and grinning at her, enjoying her luminous beauty.

It was that long trip home to see Dad.  At eighty-seven he worried about me traveling. So I hated that my work, rather my obsession with work, caused me to get a late start and drive in the dark.

Preferring the comfort of home at night, I’d rather just hang out with my pet family and read.  And, I can’t see squat in the dark anymore, so I don my distance glasses when I drive at night, and the heart thumps a tad faster.

Seventy-five miles from Dad’s thin fingers of white fog began to float by me. I thought it would simply ebb and flow from low-lying areas to higher ground, but this fog lingered-much like the new ache in my spirit.

As I meandered through the hills and the threads of fog, I wondered how many times I had made this long old trip. It began when I first left home for college at seventeen; the years blew by so quickly.  I am sixty-two now, so many trips. As I drove, I thought of Robert Frost’s words, “miles to go before I sleep.” They seemed prophetic to me as I felt my life spiral down.

The further south I drove the thicker the fog became; I slowed down to sixty miles per hour. That last stretch of road is just a two-lane state highway for the most part;  it bends and twists along, lined with pine woods on either side.

My feelings about this old trip also meandered back and forth; I hated it, and I loved it.  When I was young and full of myself, I drove waaay over the speed limit to get it over with. (A grand collection of speeding tickets confirm this.) Back in the day, I could finesse my way out of one from time to time.

The self-absorption of my youth made me resent the trip and having to make it. I would hurry back on Sunday only to find that I had left behind those who would always stand with me. With passing years I was more likely to drive back with tears in my eyes, wishing I could stay longer.

I hated the physical distance the trip placed between my parents and me over the years.  And, the panic I always felt when one of them was sad or in the hospital, knowing it would take me at least four hours to get there. Every celebration, every holiday, every funeral, and every conversation that needed to take place had to wait, for that long trip home.

But now I loved the solace of the trip, time to collect my thoughts, to record them, and to sing-loudly, and very badly.  It also opened the door to silence so I could hear God. The long trip home was illuminating more often than not.

On the last leg of this trip, I was so weary; the fog had become thicker and thicker.  This was exactly where I hit the deer a few years ago. She came out of the woods on the right side; I saw her stop, stand there, and look right up at me.  I uttered a telepathic prayer, hoping she and God would both get the message for her to stay put.  Why she jumped right in front of me, I’ll never know.

Remembering that dreadful day I slowed down to forty miles per hour.  By now visibility was greatly reduced and I switched to fog lights. I could only really see about twenty yards ahead.

I stopped and called Dad, whom I knew was looking at the clock and wondering.

At twenty-five miles out I was white knuckled and driving through dense cotton candy. The woods I could typically see to the left and right had simply vanished; I could only see about ten yards ahead. Even the familiar country homes that I knew lined both sides of the road were invisible. I was exhausted and driving on faith.

So many times life requires driving slowly through the mystery, living in the unknowing. Did the interviewer think I was right for the job? Will the sale of the house go through? Will the next commission check be enough? Can our marriage survive this calamity? Will my body remain healthy enough to enter the 10k?

As the God of full moon watched over me that long night, I thought back over my forty-four-year relationship with the trip,  the weariness, and mysteries it brought. And, I knew I’d miss this long old fatiguing trip home when I no longer had a hug awaiting me at the end of the road.

“We had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac





Secret Blessings of Muscadine Jelly

Secret Blessings of Muscadine Jelly

“Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.”  ― Sylvia Plath


Aunt Helen’s muscadine jelly is all gone, even the emergency jar I kept in case I needed consolation. This generates a pang of deep loss in my gut. But, there are two tiny containers of Mom’s muscadine jelly left! This morning I lathered it on my biscuits. I refuse to share this jelly, ever. Maybe with my sister Jan, if she was here. Maybe.

This is my holding on to Mom and Aunt Helen, who have both passed. I reserve this jelly for hard days when I need their help, days when I can find no inspiration. When there are no more shoulders to stand on, no more jelly, what will I do? These two women, resilient each in her own way, helped light the path for me.

But, the disparities between my mother’s life and mine were significant. She had a way of nesting comfortably at home, right from the get go. She married at eighteen and started a family before you could say “Nuthin says lovin like sumthin from the oven!”windowIMG_0139

Mom and Aunt Helen both knew the art of domestic flourishing. Me, not so much. I can sell thousands of dollars’ worth of darn near anything, but could not make an edible Italian Crème Cake if you threatened a flogging in the town square.

The way Mom nested so deeply at home was always a mystery to me. I could not grasp, not only her satisfaction with her life of domesticity but her enthusiasm for it.

Did I on some level back then believe my world of career advancements and adventure held more value than Mom’s world of domesticity? That her world of being at home was not as significant as my world of exploring?

Mom had dreams of having her own career; she was very bright and capable. She possessed uncanny knowledge, with the most remarkable intuition regarding physiology and disease states. She used to muse that she would like to have been a surgeon. But, times were different back then. And beyond that, she knew that achievement out in the world was not her focus.

Mom consistently encouraged me to go for it; she lived vicariously through my recounted adventures. I imagine she yearned for the level of freedom I enjoyed. Back then women had so many limits on their lives, some self-imposed out of a sense of duty, but also imposed by society, spouses and children.

Mom was brilliant in the kitchen, whipping up something that made your toes curl in delight, a natural at it. When she brought sick neighbors a peach cobbler, they were almost glad they got sick!

She was an authority on tending home; she could do it all. Like a new dress? She’d create one on her Singer. Want advice on minding your garden? The woman had a super green thumb.  Need art for your living room?  Dale could paint one for you in oils, watercolor, or charcoal you would be proud of.

Compelled by a strong desire to be “out there”, I was birthing success in my sales career, exploring yet unrecognized talents, expressing myself creatively, traveling, riding bikes, volunteering, writing, walking for hours on end, and seeking ways to deepen my spiritual journey. In addition, I was single for many years and making a living had to be a priority.

As the wrinkles collect though, the more I nest. I long to see all my little critters at the end of the day. I have been able to rest in myself through prayer meditation for many years now. Domesticity though, is pretty much a messy struggle. Still.

I can see this is how my Mom’s spirituality showed up. It was a lovely gift wasn’t it? It was given often without thanks or ceremony. Mom was very guarded with her true feelings; (but certainly not her opinions) she was not one to verbally express her faith in God. It was always implied, always there, just under the surface-lovingly expressed in gifts of home for her family.

“When did the choices get so hard

with so much more at stake.

Life gets mighty precious

when there’s less of it to waste”

Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time


Blink, and One Year is Gone

Blink, and One Year is Gone

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Anaïs Nin

Begonias are fading, the little button plant’s eyes are closing, enormous elephant ears are going back to the earth and we already feel a chill in the morning air-way too soon.

I love the now and savor the Holy in it.  I walk out in the garden touching each plant, thanking them for their perseverance, their strength – their contribution to my world full of soft summer.


Is it dread of change I feel with the fading of the summer, some dying some holding on? Always I am trying to make more of the present, and yes holding on with great thankfulness.

Time creeps up and it’s been a year since I started sharing my heart with you.  I thank those who just drop in from time to time, and much gratitude to you weekly followers, my patient tutors who comment, encourage, disagree, and suggest.

The year of blogging has shown me much.  Posts I thought were not so special turned out to be favorites of yours.  A handful that meant more to me had lower readership. The most private one I wrote and the most difficult to write is still the one read most often.

Most of you find delight in the same silly things I do, many thanks for comments that gave me the ear to ear grin.   I know some of your heartaches and stresses; I am sad with you and you have my prayers.

From across the globe, Costa Rica, Germany, Vietnam,  France, Russia, the UK, Bolivia , Brazil, South Korea, and here in the US, you teach me that what we share is larger than what we do not.

On this showy pre-fall morning after a remarkably gentle summer, not doing the work that pays, but pulled always to this exercise in expression, I am humbled by the year past. IMG_0703   A wild love for the written and spoken word prodded me and keeps me here.  I can feel and taste each phrase.  I tuck them away to pluck out later when my spirit runs dry.

These writings, little meditations with God, are only crude thanksgiving. The title I chose for my observations, “Holy and Not so Much”, has proved true. Has my writing caused God to start stress eating?  Are the church elders tearing their clothes and gnashing their teeth? In spite of these possibilities, I carry on.

The  gifts  I  receive  from  the  writing  are overwhelming. The gift is in the writing-the crafting of each sentence, acquiring a new depth of honesty, birthing a willingness to be transparent, the assurance it has been time well lived, and recognizing the Holy in each day.  I am grateful to you for sharing your lives and for this opportunity.

Special thanks to Monica, my daughter in spirit, for illuminating the path and believing I had something worth sharing.

The look and format of the blog have changed. You will see it is very much a work in progress.  When we imported the archived blogs to my site some of them turned out a bit—woogity. We will eventually correct these issues, I think. For now, it is easier to sign up as a follower, I’ll suggest great reads, share more of my dodgy photography, there is a new a search feature, comments should be simpler to post and my new site is full of livin’ color!

And a few surprises. .   There may even be an occasional post from the Sweetie!

Head in the Oven?

Head in the Oven?

“They don’t seem to understand, I’m too far gone to try. Now these lonely memories, they’re all that I can do. And I’m down to seeds and stems again too.” –Bill Kershen

Sometimes life is difficult. Days stretch out ahead with unrelenting demands, some you care about, others not at all. Somehow you will yourself to put one foot in front of the other and keep trying. I have the urge not to.

Drained from years of striving I want to sit right down and refuse to do anything, it’s too much stupiddamnshitty work! You know other people do it-give in to consuming weariness and forget how to try. I want to fall in the floor and whimper like a four year old who’s been told they can’t have McNuggets. This is not the same valley I always crawl out of but a deep trench that has me trapped.

While I’m at it I’ll stop choosing to keep myself emotionally stable. It’s my turn to go round the bend, just veg for a while, refuse to communicate, live in my own self-absorption. I’ll stop digging down to the bottom of my soul to find something worth salvaging. Get in the car and go-just anywhere! Other people go that route, why not me?

I won’t vacuum either; I loathe vacuuming. You push a heavy, deafening, incredibly awkward metal sucking machine around until you jerk your arm out of the socket and ten minutes later the floor looks just as it did before you sacrificed your rotator cuff. I’ve run out of parts to injure. Maybe things are looking up.

Weariness strains your endurance repeatedly to combat a new symptom, new syndrome, new injury, or another body system gone awry; unwept tears flow unrestrained. Coming so frequently that your lashes fall out, you are truly the bluest girl on the block.
“The tide you never valued has gone out.And you are marooned on unsure ground.Something within you has closed down;And you cannot push yourself back to life.” –John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us

Life has not been a tidy pleasant picture. It’s been the full catastrophe complete with struggle, omissions, grand mistakes, fear, poor judgment, lies, resentment and anger. But, for twenty two years now I’ve come out swinging time and again if only in the twelfth round. Why? Because of the gifts.

Living with years of unrelenting physical pain gifts you with tender gratefulness for good days. Loss of control gifts you with reliance on God. Years of heart breaking physical struggle gifts you with uncanny empathy for the struggles of others. Inability to continue treasured activities gifts you with new talents. And shared feelings shine the brightest light on those who truly love you.

Years ago after a painful back injury I cried (whined actually) to my ever supportive loving sister that no one understood my physical problems. Her response was one of the best gifts I have ever been given. She said “I want you to start at the beginning and tell me-all of it. Don’t stop till I understand”. I did.

Those who reach the finish line in a car or on cycle do not earn the distance walker’s lessons. I am blessed, not everyone gets gifts like these and there is no short cut that allows it-just suffering.
‘Meg’ Magrath: “Why’d you do it, Babe? Why’d you put your head in the oven? Babe: “I don’t know … I’m having a bad day.”— (Crimes of the Heart, 1986)

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”–Mary Jean Iron.

Yoga mat on the floor, I peered up at the room from a Chihuahua’s vantage point and stretched my arm far over my head just as instructed. A large window faced me with an enormous Schefflera in front of it. Each long stem stretched out in a different direction; the huge leaves seemed to grin back at me saying ”It was your idea to try Yoga, miss healthy pants.”

A restorative Yoga session, so not much was required of me-a good thing since this was my first ever Yoga class and I had widespread arthritis pain and multiple disc pain to contend with. My mind traveled back to when I did not have this level of pain constantly and sadness covered me. I wanted to curl up on my mat and weep; I longed for a miracle.

But lying on my Yoga mat I had my miracle-that I was able to be there at all. In fact, I am stunned that I am able to do so many of the things I do. There are magnificent things in my life, many that I am aware of and certainly those I have been too dull-witted to see.

At a concert I heard Amy Grant say that one morning she was getting coffee when her young son came in. She picked him up and put him up on the kitchen counter in front of her. She was stroking his hair and reflecting on how much she loved him and the miracle that he was, when he said “Mommy, you have really bad breath!” There it was, the extraordinary right next to the commonplace! This is life.

Do we perceive the beauty in the everyday sun filling the room on an icy winter’s day?

The wonder of lunch with friends we’ve shared life with for over forty years?

Playtime with the precious bright little dog that learns any trick you teach her?

That first cup of coffee in the morning, knowing the journey the coffee took to you?

A road trip with a treasured niece and the gift of good conversation with her?

The miracle of meeting the right mate whose flaws equal yours in just the right design, when you had not been interested in y-e-a-r-s?

The significance of everyday occurrences distills and the closer we draw to God, to spirit, the wider our eyes become. The film dissipates and we can finally grasp what was there all along. The thing is, God uses these events to give us an opportunity to wake up . . . an opportunity.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein

Culinary Nirvana

Culinary Nirvana

“I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself “well, that’s not going to happen” ― Rita Rudner

It started as far back as junior high school. My brother and I baked a cake for Mom for mother’s day; we chose angel food because it looked easy. When it began to rise we were horrified, would it run over the pan getting gooey cake all over Mom’s oven? We would surely incur her wrath for that, so we took a fork and pushed the cake back down into the pan-hard. For those of you who have never done this, I can tell you that it produces a white rubbery disc that doubles as an bowling ball. We all knew the sad truth then, I would never be admitted into Le Cordon Bleu.

Besides, kitchens will hurt you-damn near every time you go in. Before Sweetie and I got together the kitchen and I had an agreement, I would use it only for storage and it promised never to hurt me. After thirteen years together my kitchen terror has lessened, but I still don’t trust those sinister jagged objects! I typically emerge with a singed hand, scraped knuckles or sliced fingers and to add insult to injury, there is something very wrong with everything I make. I was quite content when the items in my refrigerator consisted of a few containers of yogurt, fruit, nuts, vegetables, wine, milk and cookie dough! I’m no Donna Domestic, but I got along quite nicely—until I met Sweetie.

The dilemma is, my husband is a chef. He insists I didn’t cook a thing for him for six months after we met. He’s probably right, I was panicked to cook in front of him much less FOR him! There is no end to the litany of culinary disasters! It is soooo much less expensive to dine out- when as much goes into the trash as into the tummy!
I don’t get it; my Mom was arguably the best cook in the county. My entire life the woman was stocked up for impending famine; she could have fed the entire Lewis and Clark expedition crew at a moment’s notice. People from everywhere called her routinely for culinary advice. My brother is a super Cajun cook, my sister performs one culinary feat after another and my nieces and cousins are great cooks too-evidently the cooking gene is recessive and not uniformly passed down!

It aggravates the snot of out me to hear “Anyone can follow a recipe!” Folks, I am living proof that everyone cannot! I try to emulate Mom’s cooking skills using her recipes, follow each step and focus. To my chagrin these efforts produce miserable concoctions. It seems to be cyclic; for a couple weeks I am totally frustrated with my efforts and resolve never to cook again. Then I’ll rally, channel Mom for a few weeks and cook five or six things in a row that don’t give us indigestion.

All this commotion does not go unnoticed by the Sweetie. He is very tolerant of my culinary inadequacies and God bless him, he’s appreciates the effort. But the man has actually eaten some absolutely dreadful things, like enchilada pie that tasted more like wet tortillas and tomatoes. There was the Key Lime pie that produced an instant pucker the minute you put it to your mouth. And, then there was the time I cut the end of my finger off. I started with a large Band-Aid, progressed to several Band-Aids with gauze and ended up walking around the house with a mini pad taped to what was left of my finger!! You can’t make this kind of thing up!

When it comes to culinary arts, yes to some degree you can acquire skill. But for the most part it’s like boobs, either you got em or ya don’t. Well, I guess you can procure those too. So it’s more like singing, which I can do quite nicely, either you have the chops or ya stink. In the kitchen, I’m as stinky as they come.

“I ate her cooking for eighteen years,” he whispered. “You get used to it.” “Oh yeah, when?” “I think it happened around the seventeenth year,” Henry said.” Michael Buckley, The Everafter War

Close Your Eyes and Think of Me

Close Your Eyes and Think of Me

We met at school over on the rock ledge when we were kids, new friends who had surprisingly known each other forever.

She gave me then what she offers to all-an open heart, she meets you where you are.

She rubs up against life hard and often, and it hurts her. Authentic always, when her days end she will have the grace of knowing this.

As enthusiastic as she was in younger years, there’s a gleam in her eyes as she shares her plans for the summer. Her weeks stretching into years, she does not want an idle life and has never had an idle mind.

She is such a talker, not one who relishes silence. Even the chatter is worthy your attention, this is an intelligent engaging woman.

In a world choked with indifference she illuminates what needs to change in our world. She starts with herself.

A deep loneliness dwells within her and really always has-but even more so now.

Her trust in me shines through her kind eyes; I am blessed. She knows she is safe with me in all circumstances, and I with her.

What she gives to those she serves is remarkable; she has a vision they can’t have for themselves. They are lucky recipients of her perception, attention and action.

A lover of animals, she protects those she can, giving her time and love to them. She mentors others about their care.

Heart on her sleeve; her wounds are plenty and relived. There is no debridement; the scar tissue seems to multiply.

Deep friendship is her talent, her gift. She’s not as good at casual friendship-always wanting more. Never cunning to conceal her love, she is effervescent in the presence of friends and family.

Bearing gifts from everywhere she brightens a mediocre day-just when you really needed a little surprise. And, she seems to have no idea the sweetness of this.

If you are lucky enough to know her well you have a partner for pizza, a confidant on the phone at two am, a warm honest hug when you are weak, straight forward words when you’re a fool, her prayers when you are lost and the most beautiful smile when you were sure there wasn’t one to be found.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the Pooh

Interstitial Anxiety

Interstitial Anxiety

“Mattie sat at the table, obsessing, orbiting around herself. She was sick of her worried, hostile mind. It would have killed her long before, she felt, if it hadn’t needed the transportation.”  ― Anne Lamott, Blue Shoe

I could be having a sweet dream about Jude Law right now, but no. Instead I’m lying in bed wrestling with an unwelcome visitor, worry. I’ve about reached the grand mal hissy fit level-over things that will resolve without this trauma. I feel like I’ll spontaneously combust. There is no word in the English language that adequately describes how I hate this sporadic reoccurrence. Evidently there is a genetic predisposition in the Valentine clan for my reaction to this; it was also passed on to my eldest niece. When she was little Gramps bought her a tiny dapple Shetland pony whom we named “Hissy Fit” in her honor. Is it just me, or some manner of collective anxiety passed down to me through generations, or passed down to women, or to Americans?

Each time I wake in the night and worry myself into heartburn, headache and enough generalized anxiety to warrant a high dose cocktail of anti-anxiety meds I ask myself, why are you doing this? Again? What we give our energy and attention to grows, multiplies. If we study something we are interested in most likely our attraction to that subject will increase as our knowledge of it does. Similarly, if we dwell on problems they will take on lives of their own. Unless you are extremely fortunate and your life has been a bed of roses or you are the grand puba of peace and all things spiritual, you know what I mean. Worry raids our quality of life, steals our moments, makes us ill and complicates our relationships.

Even as a grade-schooler I had the worry cloud over my head at times. I remember our speaker at sixth grade graduation saying “The past six years probably went by very quickly for you. The next six will go by even more quickly and the six after that even faster.” I think I’ve obsessed about how I use the time I have on this earth since then. There is a condition that affects the bladder causing tremendous inflammation called interstitial cystitis. This occurs when the area between the cells becomes inflamed. I believe many of us have interstitial anxiety, worry that creeps in between the fabric of our lives, between our thoughts, between our moments.

But how do we move past this habit of worry? I use the word “habit” because I do think to some degree our brains become trained to worry. I know this because when I wake in the middle of the night unworried my brain seems to search the database to FIND something to worry about! Jesus, who was spectacular at cutting to the chase, said “Therefore do not be anxious about your life. . . but seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:31-32)

In 1998 through 2000 I gave particular time and focus to deepening my spiritual life; I placed this above everything else in my life. About this time I had a dream that I was seated upon a huge pile of paper and wondering what to do with it all. As I sat there I realized I was seated on a stack of worries! It finally dawned on me that they were just paper and I could burn them.

What do you think happened during this three year period? Worry just about ceased and life fell into place in astounding ways. I know this, lived this and still fall into old habits. I don’t mean to channel Pollyanna; my life has not been without tremendous struggle and this process is not easy. But if we heed the advice of Jesus and keep refocusing on God, the nights and the dreams can both be better. I’ll see you on the other side Jude.

The Whole Pu Pu Platter

The Whole Pu Pu Platter

“Let us rise up and be thankful; for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” –Buddha

Sometimes an unwelcome piece of advice can be the catalyst for life change. I had just moved back to Oklahoma City from Albuquerque after a protracted painful split with my fiancé. Broke and broken, I was heart sick that my dreams had turned from promising to improbable. I was also learning to live with Lupus when I sustained a rather serious back injury. I was off work for four months; lying in the floor flat on my back, taking Loritab each day and crying much of the time. I was single, living alone and the nearest family member was four hours away. It didn’t help that the man I was dating at the time expected me to keep a big smile on my face 24/7, not exactly a model of empathy. Every movement I made was excruciating and with no one to help everything was a struggle.

By that time I had been in spiritual direction about three years and met with my spiritual guide, Pat once a week. She knew I was not only struggling physically, but that my emotional state was really at the lowest ebb of my life. We were discussing my struggle one day when she suggested “If I were you I would focus on gratefulness at this time.” I couldn’t breathe much less respond to her. I said nothing, but I remember thinking that Pat was one egg roll short of a Pu Pu Platter. How could she suggest that I be grateful at this time? Grateful for what?

But I trusted Pat, so I started a “grateful journal” and began listing ten or so things I was grateful for each day. They didn’t have to be monumental; in fact, entries like warm socks, chocolate chip cookies, a good book, or a week without having to pick dog poop off the floor made the list repeatedly. As months and years went by the items on my list morphed into gratefulness for my sweet little pets, for feeling well enough to walk a mile, for the presence of my parents in my life, for a deepening spiritual life and for the fortitude to tell that stupiddamnshitty boyfriend to go take a long walk off a short pier!

I came to see that a grateful heart helps you walk through the door to a deepened spiritual life, to grow up spiritually. Once you walk through this door you cannot go back. This journey is the journey home and God consistently beckons us to wake up our soul and leave behind what no longer serves us. Although there was some grief in this, it was soon replaced with wonder. It certainly was not happiness that made me grateful, I was very unhappy at the time. It was gratefulness that finally made me happy.

“Awful things happen to an awful lot of us and it’s a happy moment when you start noticing some kind of payoff. Cancer survivors for example, notice that they’re breathing in a way other people don’t. And because they are breathing they are grateful in a way a lot of people aren’t. And grateful is a good place to wind up in life. It beats poor me.” ―Betty Rollins

Grumpy Pants, Holy Summons

Grumpy Pants, Holy Summons

“I ain’t no porcupine; take off your kid gloves. Are you ready for this thing called love?” Bonnie Raitt-Thing Called Love

Fatigue and pain make you grumpy, and clumsy for that matter. Sweetie has grounded me from drinking from any receptacle that does not have a wide bottom. It seems my spill frequency is not at an acceptable level. It’s not so much that I am clumsy, or not careful enough; it’s that as my body glides along my limbs don’t seem to g-l-i-d-e with it. They are painful, stiff and tired and this contributes to the clumsiness. Sweetie disagrees with this theory, but let’s assumes I am right. Anyway, presently I am grumpy. This condition is not terminal and usually no one gets hurt. It is rare for me to remain in this state for more than a week; but the neighbors are grateful I have prayer, meditation and writing so God can coax me out of it.

Planting your words in black and white for the world to see is a daunting process. There is nothing like getting naked in front of hundreds of people some of whom you have known for years, but also folks you’ll never meet-from Germany, Malaysia, France, South Korea, the UK and Russia. My intention is to write honestly but nothing has actually prepared me for the vulnerability you feel once your undressed words are out there. I have to rely on prayer, the years of journaling  I’ve done and those little serendipitous events that direct me and nudge me forward, in the right direction.

I am a strong proponent of having a spiritual practice in your life. I grew up in the church; I am grateful my parents gave me substance I could build on. I don’t believe that you should adopt the religion or spiritual practice of your parents without assessing what is right for you. I’d have missed so much if I had. I’m a spiritual seeker and have been since I was six; I remember deciding that relying on God made more sense that relying on people. I do attend church, but have gone for long periods of time when I did not; I had my own church service at home. On days when I don’t feel well or lack motivation to actually take off my sweats I still do. Daily and weekly spiritual practice is the bond that holds my life together. My practice generally includes prayer, reading, meditation and journaling –in that order. I’ve been doing this for twenty two years now and I do find renewal from this practice, courtesy of God.

Yes the disenfranchised and the grumpy can rejuvenate with consistent spiritual practice! If you don’t have a daily spiritual practice I recommend meditation; you simply shut up long enough to hear God’s voice. Many of us pray, pray, pray a litany of unending petitions to God. I’ll bet he wants to turn his iPhone to mute. Meditation requires no special knowledge or training and it can change your life in ways you can’t imagine. When we go within we can begin to focus on what really matters. Just start with five minutes each morning. Remember, I do rise but I am not proficient at shining, so if I can do it you can do it. Get your cup of Dark Ethiopian java blend or Oolong tea and get awake enough so you don’t go back to sleep–or to bed. Actually, I do my longer meditations in the afternoon or evening.

Put on some light instrumental music (white noise may be better for you) and make sure you have uninterrupted time and space (to start, 10 minutes or so). There are fantastic meditation CD’s out there; you may have to try two or three before you settle on one that is conducive to meditation for you. Get comfortable in an upright seated position and close your eyes. Very deliberately bring your attention to each part of your body, slowly relaxing each part and focus on the in and out of your breath.

To the degree you can, empty your mind (you’ll have to do this over and over.) Then, invite God to be with you and just listen. It is a simple process, but not necessarily easy. It may be helpful to use a guided imagery meditation CD or download to start. I highly recommend those of Belleruth Naparstek, psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer. You can check out her series at Just to name a few, the gifts you will receive for consistent practice are peace, clarity of purpose, blessed quiet, relaxation, ideas, love and the awareness that thousands of other grumpy people will be collectively listening to God at the same time.