Friday Five: all around the mulberry bush

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Every week, the women over at RevGalBlogPals, an organization formed to support women in ministry who also happen to blog, have a weekly feature, Friday Five, covering a variety of topics. This week, 3dogmom writes (the image above is hers also):

It’s been a week of ups and downs at our house. On Tuesday I received word of the birth of my goddaughter’s second daughter, a blessing to that family, and the hope of the first daughter happily fulfilled. That evening I learned that my sister-in-law, a breast cancer survivor, is facing a recurrence of cancer in her lymph nodes, and probably her lungs. Joy and concern pressing in on my heart has made for a week of lots of deep breaths and deep-in-the-marrow prayer, smiles and tears.

At times like this I my soul finds comfort and seeks expression through my senses. Pinterest feeds my visual need for beauty and color (not to mention adorable puppies, and herds of sheep). Cooking fills the house with pleasant aromas, and the results satisfy my palette. My hands find tactile pleasure in massaging my dogs, and music penetrates and reverberates in the fiber of my being.

When you need to hold disparate parts of your life in tension, what do you do? Share five things that steady your pace, recharge your batteries and invite peace to your soul.

I think I wound up with more than five, but here we go.

My Fibromyalgia Care Kit

This picture shows the most important elements of what I think of as my “Fibromyalgia Care Kit”. When I’m hurting, exhausted, and often, depressed (mild depression seems to tag along after a flbro flare like an uninvited dinner guest), I need my puppy, Fiona, to cuddle with me and make me laugh, and gaze adoringly at me with her huge, melty brown, spaniel eyes. Her softness and warmth has gotten me through many unspeakably painful days, like the days my mom was in hospice and I couldn’t cry in front of mom. So I would come home, crawl into bed under the wedding quilt my Aunt Marie made for me, and Fiona would come and snuggle against my back. She still does.

I love my nightstand, my little nook, that holds my reading lamp, a photo of my husband George and Fiona, a drink (I mean a soda, or cocoa, or tea, not that kind of drink!), and a stack of books. Books feed my mind and my soul. They are like friends, who comfort and soothe my hurts. I have started practicing mindfulness meditation a few times a week, although I’m not very good at it yet. Hugs. From George especially, but from any of my friends or family, occasionally even my therapist. Drawing, with messy utensils like charcoal and pastels, gives tactile satisfaction too, regardless of the result. Looking at photographs, or taking an especially good one myself, and growing flowers when I’m physically able, or getting a bouquet when I need cheering up, gives me a taste of beauty, I keep my mother’s old rosary in my nightstand drawer; there is something soothing about the feel of the beads as I run them through my fingers.

The photos and books, the hugs, the art, my blog, Fiona, flowers, the rosary…all of these things are both celebratory and comforting, frequently both at the same time. They do serve to tie the varying elements of my life together. And so does the grace woven into each hug, every tear, all of the laughter.

friday five: where is its home?

This week’s Friday five, a tradition over at one of my all-time favorite blogs, RevGalBlogPals. Every Friday, one of the women posts a meme and invites other members to play. So this week, I’m playing!!! Here goes:
N.B. The narrative voice here asking the questions, etc., is from the original author, not me! My answers are in red.

“As noted at my own blog, my word for the year is “clear.”

One of the things to which this refers is clearing away clutter.

One of the best ways I have found to do this is to give everything that comes into my house a HOME. And I can easily tell that I have too many things when there are not enough homes for them all!

I gleaned the idea of items having homes  from my younger sister who used to say to her toddlers, “See that book on the floor there? Is that its home? No? Please put the book into its home.” Often, I am saying the same words to myself that she said to her little ones.

Photo from Discountofficeitems.com

In my mother’s house, the Marks-A-Lot marker always went in the cupboard next to the sink. I don’t know why, I just know that’s where the Marks-A-Lot goes, still and forever, in my house many miles away.

So:  Tell us your favorite homes for five things, the places that you can always and reliably find them. 

1. This one is easy. Books I’m currently reading, not including books for classes (who wants to see them first thing in the morning and last thing at night?) is my nightstand. Of course, other books frequently migrate there as well. And my Kindle is in my nightstand drawer when I’m not carrying it around the house with me like child with a blankie.

2. My dad’s things (his old missal, cards he saved from my mom and me, his photos from WWII, etc.) are in a special box kept on the first shelf in the study closet. Easy access, but out of the way enough so that, hopefully, nothing will get spilled on or chewed on (by the dog, not me, honest).

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My dad and his buddies during Basic Training at Fort Lewis, WA, ca 1942. My dad is in the middle.

 

3. Old family photos that have not yet been put into albums–one of my future projects–are kept in the top left-hand drawer of my old rolltop desk that my dad made for me. Most of them are from my mom’s side (not all), and I’m still trying to figure out who some of the people in them are, and what year, approximately anyway, they were taken. The most interesting photo isn’t a photo at all, at least not in the ordinary sense; it’s a daguerrotype that must date back to at least 1860 if not earlier, of my Cherokee great-great-many greats-grandmother. (Although this is my adoptive family, so there is no blood relation.)

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Bertha Wilhelmina Mohr and John Adam Resch on their wedding day. Pine City, MN, July 12, 1915. My grandparents. I never knew my grandpa but I adored my grandma. She was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, inside and out.

 

4. The Children’s Bible my godparents gave me for my First Communion resides in the Governor Winthrop in our living room. The Governor Winthrop is a combination secretary desk with a bookcase on top that I inherited from my Great-Aunt Millie, and it’s the perfect place for some of my most treasured old books, like my old bible. It’s dog-eared and falling apart, but just looking at it brings back the many hours I spent poring over the stories of David and Goliath, the First Christmas, and the fascinating pictures in the back of the places in the Holy Land where these exciting stories actually happened!

5. Fiona’s toys hang out on the living room floor. During the day, that is. At night she brings most of them to bed with her (us, I should say, much to the dismay of my allergist). She used to have fluffy stuffed toys, until she began destroying them, tearing them apart with great joy. So her toys now consist of chewsticks, rope toys, and Kongs, although she also considers my socks and bras toys as well. (She loves to trot out into the living room dragging one of my bras by the strap. Oh, the look of glee on her face!) Since I’m home most of the day, we usually play with each of her rope toys in turn; and I should note that part of our play consists of fishing her toys out from under the couch or the bed, which she finds great fun. I don’t, especially since I’m currently recovering from neck surgery, Sigh.

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So what does it say about me, I wonder, that my longest answer is about…my dog’s toys?

Readers, I invite you to play along too! Leave your answers in the comment box, and we’ll comapre notes!

ps: the prevailing wisdom that one should never have a “junk drawer”? I don’t buy that. Because, where else do you put your birthday candles, tiny measuring tape, kite string, eyeglasses repair kits, etc.? “

 

final friday five for 2012

As usual, credit for everything below–except my answers, that is–goes to the wonderful gals over at RevGalBlogPals. And I owe them a hearty “thank you” for giving me a some much-needed writing inspiration!

I should mention that I did have my neck surgery last week and the surgeon said the procedure went “swimmingly.” I find this reassuring because those raw and burnt nerve endings feel, well, raw and burnt. Not a pleasant sensation. My usual brilliance is most likely lacking today since I’m on pain killers and muscle relaxers, so bear with me. 

 

The FINAL Friday Five for 2012: Recycle, Re-Gift, Reflect

As we take a breather from the busy weekend of Sunday/Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, it’s time to reflect on the past year. It’s hard to move out of this holiday season with its delights and celebrations. Here at our home, we’ve barely finished the eggnog. The tree is still up and our cats delight in knocking off the lower (unbreakable) ornaments. As we are rounding the final turn on the year 2012, I hope you’ll play along with these questions. 🙂
RECYCLE:
1. What is some “old news” this year that you’d like to repeat for 2013?
Saturday lunches and outings with my birthmom, Judy. We try to do this on a fairly regular basis, although it has been difficult to get together for much of this year because of her hip surgery and my neck surgery. My lack of a car doesn’t help, either. But we have a lot of fun spending time together. Plus, I finally know where most of my idiosyncrasies originate! Here I though I was eccentric all by my lonesome, only to discover that I inherited most of them from the Lubys! (The others come from growing up a Resch of course.)
2. What “new thing” have you started that you want to keep going in 2013?
Not having neck surgery!  Making an effort, through journaling, meditation, prayer, reflection, and reading, to really observe Advent, as a season of waiting and preparation for the gift of the Incarnation.
RE-GIFT:
3. What event, experience or gift would you just as soon “Return to Sender”? Maybe it was a disastrous sermon, a congregational kerfuffle, a vacation nightmare, or your own mis-step. It can be funny or sad.
I would gladly surrender the experience of running a stop sign and crashing into another car this past June! The gentleman driving the other car, luckily, wasn’t hurt, but I would up with whiplash and neck surgery. And my darling little GEO Metro was totaled! It wasn’t damaged that badly, but the repairs would have cost more than my 16 year-old baby was worth. Monetarily, anyway, disregarding my love for my first car. So we are in the market for a new car, but all we can get for our money is junk. But I can’t drive now anyway, temporarily at least!
REFLECT:
4. Share the brightest bit of joy that was a part of your year.
George and I celebrated our ninth anniversary this October. I think the joy comes from the reassurance of being loved, truly loved, for myself, along with the realization that in nine years we have been through more than many couples endure in a lifetime, and we are still together. And I love him more with each anniversary that goes by. When we got married, I thought I could not possibly love him more than I did, but as time goes by, I find that my love for him grows and evolves, teaching me to appreciate the feeling of contentment that washes over me before I go to sleep, when I see him and Fiona (our dog, naturally) sleeping beside me. Or the simple pleasure of playing frisbee in our backyard together on lovely summer afternoon.
5. Share a picture that says far more than words. (You can use it to illustrate one of the above.)
George and me at Kieran’s Irish Pub after I lectored at the 4:30 Mass at The Basilica of St. Mary
BONUS:

Share a recipe! I’m in the doldrums and need some healthy eating options for my menu planning. Soup, stew, main dish, side dish or a healthy dessert – any and all are welcome!

This is where I need help, too, desperately! I’m hoping a reader will come to my rescue with a nice slow-cooker recipe, perhaps? Please?!

friday five…a day late (well, a few minutes late!)

Emptiness Friday Five…..

 
 

This Friday five comes courtesy of Sally over at RevGalBlogPals! (You don’t think I could come up with something like this myself, do you?)

I have been pondering this Friday Five over and over in my mind, but I am coming up with nothing, so I am wondering; what do you do when you feel empty of all creativity and unable to make/do anything? This is a completely open question, the only rule is name 5 things that fill/ inspire you:

Well, this is a tough question for me to answer, given the way I’ve been feeling physically/emotionally/ spiritually these last few months, so perhaps this is just the time for me to give this a whirl.

1. Being surrounded by my family. Although I’m an only child, my dad was the third eldest of eleven children, so I grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, great-aunts, great-uncles, and at the center of it all, my grandmother, the most warm, generous, and loving woman I’ve ever known. So then I wound up marrying a man who, amongst his other stellar qualities, just happens to have almost as many cousins as I do! (I have 44.) Not to mention he’s the baby of six siblings. Our wedding was huge. and, incidentally, I’m a proud great-auntie myself now, several times over. And now I’m in contact with both sides of my birthparents’ families, who, yes, are also part of large extended families. Naturally. I have more family than I know what to do with! And I love it, especially now that my folks are gone, because to me, family is home and love and laughter.

2. Walking, sitting, gazing out on the water of the North Shore of Lake Superior. It soothes me, slows down my mind and body, and fills me with the presence of God.

3. Feeling forgiven, truly forgiven, whether by another human being or by God. It is the only thing that heals the brokenness I feel inside when I know I have wronged someone, whether it be by “what I have done or by what I have failed to do.”

4. Going through my parents’ old pictures, letters, etc. It never fails to bring back floods of memories, some sad, some happy, most of which make me laugh until I cry. Which reminds me that I HAVE to get my hands on that new set of Laurel and Hardy movies, even if it is astronomically expensive. After all of the hours the three of us spent watching those movies…

5. Doing something for someone else. During the Depression, my Grandma Resch never, ever turned a hobo away when they came by asking for food, despite the family’s poverty and all the mouths she had to feed. She always found something to fix for them, and even something extra to make the plate look nice. My parents carried on this tradition, and one of my biggest frustrations of my current run of migraines is that I’m stuck at home all of the time, which keeps me from doing any of the things I’d normally do to pay it forward, so to speak. After all, I didn’t choose the Prayer of St. Francis for both of my parents’ remembrance cards for nothing. I chose it as words to live by.

friday five: the fork in the road

This week’s Friday Five come courtesy of Singing Owl from RevGalBlogPals. She writes:

 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five: The Fork in the Road

“I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today’s Friday Five, share with us five “fork-in-the-road” events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?”

Okay, Singing Owl, here are my five forks in the road:

1. I didn’t have a lot of say in this one, being five weeks old at the time, but the first big fork in my road came when I was adopted by Millie and Leonard Resch on October 24, 1968. It turned out to be a 38-year-long love story, lasting until my mom’s death in 2007. I could not have been more blessed, both by the mom and dad who loved me and raised me, and the mom who loved me so much she was willing to give me up. I love all three of them, my wonderful parents, more than words can express.

2. At 19 I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and clinical depression. This led to years of therapy and, even more important, much painful soul-searching, trying to figure out where God was speaking to me in my suffering. And I found out that not only was he there, he was holding me, lovingly, and feeling my pain as his own.

3. At 27 I did a unit of C.P.E. (Clinical Pastoral Education), which is, basically, an intensive chaplaincy internship. It’s impossible to sum up in only a few sentences what that summer meant for the rest of my life…suffice it to say, I fell in love with the work, am finally back in grad school (after years of struggling with fibromyalgia), and hope to work as a hospice chaplain once I get my degree.

4. When I was 32 I met my husband through mutual friends at the Basilica of St. Mary. Can you say instant lightning? We’ve been married for five years and he’s my rock, the light of my life, and on many days, especially when my depression is bad, the reason I get out of bed. Our marriage tells me a lot about God’s love for us–steadfast, constant, always forgiving. We want to adopt so we can share the love with which we’ve been graced with a special child.

5. Two years ago in April my beloved mom died of emphysema. I am still so lonely for her. But in the midst of her dying, she taught me, by example, what it means to have lived a good life, and what it means, for a person of faith, to go to meet her Creator.

Come on ladies, play along with me! Either on your own blogs, or in the comments box. 🙂