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Who Am I?

7 Dec

“Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”   (Maggie Kuhn)

So who the heck is this person?  I’m Heather.  I think I have some stories to share and some thoughts about how I view life, and maybe some thoughts which will help you see something new about how you view life.  I find it best to know a bit about who the heck it is I’m listening to, so here’s a little bullet point list.  The fancy word for this is that I’m trying to flesh out a bit of my paradigm for you, so you can see how I view our world.  Some or all of this stuff will likely get flesh put onto it later, but I feel like you need to know it.  20161203_155954

  • I reside, and have resided, in Colorado for most of my life.  Exception is 2 years spent in Ventura, California.  I have lived in our capital city, in the Four Corners Region, surrounded by mesas on the Western Slope, but mostly I’ve lived in a smallish city in the northeastern part of my state.
  • I am just shy of 40 years old.  I identify as Generation X even though some bump folks my age up to the Millennial generation, I do not identify with much of what that generation values and has experienced.
  • I am a white person who was raised in a primarily white church and school system.  My interactions with people of color were always limited, and even now as an adult, are not as frequent as I would like.
  • I identify as a cis-female (mostly) straight woman.  For those of you who don’t know what the word cis means, it just means that I identify as the standard gender of the sexual parts I was born with.
  • Up until recently, I would describe my class background as “middle class,” or even “upper middle class” at times.  Significant thought on this matter and realizations about my life and how I live it lead me to believe that my family was “house poor,” and quite a few of the ways I live my life are influenced by being raised in a blue collar class (meaning we were never at or below the poverty level but that we certainly struggled and did not have as many bonuses as children who grew up middle class did).
  • I was identified as “gifted and talented” as a child, educated in 2 above average school districts, and was able to attend 41/2 years of college before being forced to drop out due to financial reasons.  While in college I was a History major (emphasis Europe, but really from about World War I to 1950) with a dual minor in Black Studies and Anthropology (I was getting ready to just take the last semester I needed for this degree when I had to drop out of school.)  I am a person who takes knowledge seriously and continues to educate myself by reading about people that I didn’t know about and books by authors who have different experiences than I did.
  • As a baby I was baptized Catholic and then when I was 5 years old, my parents started attending a non-denominational First Christian Church.  (The ones without the cup and flame.)  My mother raised me to strongly value reading and knowing the Bible and to pray and discern what it means.  In high school, I primarily attended a charismatic Four Square Church, and in college found an Evangelical Free Church.  8 years ago, I helped found a non-denominational church plant, but left about 2 years ago.  I currently identify as a Christian, and struggle with the baggage that goes along with that.  I do not presently attend a church with any frequency.

So now you know where I’m coming from so we can go together.  Yes?

 

Skip a Latte Wednesday: Emancipate

4 Dec

“In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”        ~Abraham Lincoln

Emancipation could not fail.  It had to happen.  I feel in a lot of ways in my American culture, generosity cannot be allowed to fail either.  In so many ways our clothing of freedom, grace, and humanity has become tattered because of our lack of generosity to our fellow man.

It’s something that’s been beaten to death really: the internet gives us so many chances to be critical of others, of ourselves.  We can call someone’s boobs fake, someone’s ass huge, and someone’s shiny car pretentious.  We can lambast someone’s ideas which to them make them feel free.  We can also silently pine over dogs, boyfriends, even lives which are better than ours through the window that social media gives us into our friend’s lives.

I want you to take a moment and think about someone in your life who is very generous.  They give of their time, talents, even money to help others have a spectacular day.  If you’re like me the first person to pop into my head is much, much older than myself.  You see?  Because generosity is a dying art.

Welcome to my first in a series I’m calling “Skip a Latte Wednesday,” where we forego 1 cup of America’s most acceptable addiction in favor of doing good with that five dollars.  This month I’ll be showcasing some worthy charities and hopefully our collective five dollars can make a difference around this time of year.  This first week, perhaps, is the most personal of the weeks.

Take some time to read about a cash money challenge given by a minister in Sherborn, Massachusetts:  http://www.wbur.org/kindworld/2013/12/03/a-ministers-challenge-use-this-gift-for-good

Now some of you might be thinking a bit revolutionarily here: I want you to actually get five dollars cash money.  And I want you to do this by the end of this week.  I want you to place that five dollars cash money separate from any of the other cash money you keep in your wallet.  In a different pocket if you don’t carry a wallet.  And here’s what I want you to do with it: keep your ears and eyes open for a way to bring generosity into someone else’s life.

I’ve only got one rule for you: it can’t be passive.  Sure it’s nice to buy the next cup of coffee in line at the drive through coffee place.  Also, it’s nice to drop a five dollar tip into the jar at the sub shop.  But with this five dollars.  This Lincoln’s picture, I want you to actually hand it to someone as a gesture of generosity.  Be creative.  You don’t have to say anything about why you have it, or you can tell them something about why you do, or why you’re participating.  I leave it up to you.

Be generous.  I dare you.  Be generous in a tangible, personal way.  Share your stories if you like.  But do it.  You’d be surprised what a difference five dollars can sometimes make.

five-dollar-bill

Prepare

1 Dec

We are now in December!  I didn’t quite make it to my “three days a week blogging” goal, but I certainly blogged a lot more and have found that I kind of love it.

I wanted to lay out what December’s gonna look like for you, my dearest reader.  This month will be full of many things.  In churchy words, this is the season of Advent, which merely means anticipation, waiting for an arrival.  We enter the darkest time of the year with the approaching Winter Solstice, and many prepare by adding light to our households; whether by menorahs, or Christmas lights, or trees, or adorning our homes with light.

Since it is always a time of year that I take to reflect on so many things, Mondays will be a time for reflection.  For myself and hopefully for you.  I want to make your Monday reading time a time to pause, reflect, and hopefully to bring some light into these ever increasing dark nights of December.

This is also a time of year when we ponder our generosity.  And so this December I’m going to bring you “Skip the Latte Wednesdays,” where we talk about skipping that Wednesday latte and giving to those that are considered “the least of these.”  To bring light into someone’s dark place.  This “Skip the Latte Wednesday” will feature charities that I feel are worth your five dollars.

This is also the time of year when we spend more time with those we hold dear.  On Fridays, I’ll be reviewing one of the Christmas movies from my list of unwatched films and tv shows and sharing with you my thoughts.  Then hopefully that will put them in mind for you to enjoy with your dearest ones with a nice big bowl of popcorn (either real or microwave) and perhaps a tasty beverage.

So there you have it:  December’s plan.  May you begin December with light in your heart, and joy for the season.  And may you also find peace during a time which seems so chaotic.  See you tomorrow!

Candles

Dear Teenage Me

20 Jul

Yep. That’s me. Circa Fall 1995 with one of my good friends from youth group.(Class of 96!)

 

 

My friend Lydia over at On the Other Hand recently wrote her take on another blogger’s letter to her teenage self.  I thought it was a good idea, so I’ve decided to do it myself.  So.  Here goes.


 

 

 

Dear teenaged me,

Wow, there are so many things that get put into perspective now that you’re 34.  I know you’re just thinking about what’s happening this weekend or freaking about the new play in production; but really, there’s a lot more to it than you think.  I’m gonna let you in on a few things now.

1.) All those unrequited crushes that never lead to dating are okay.  It’s good that you’re not dating right now.  And some of the most awesome men are right around the corner.

2.) The nice guys do finally figure it out.  It’ll happen in your 30s.  Now, you might date some who seem like nice guys until they’re not.  That’s okay because of:

3.) You have a wicked sense of humor now.  Sometimes it surprises the folks you went to high school with, because it wasn’t there back then.  It’s pretty dang awesome.  It helps you survive just about everything that comes your way.  And also makes you a hit at parties, bars, and sports commentating.  (Yeah, you become a commentator, pretty sweet, huh?)

4.) Contrary to what you’ve been hearing at summer camps and in youth group, your body is beautiful.  It is not a one stop sin factory like they say.  The sooner you embrace this the more you will find you like yourself.

5.) Your greatest strength is always turning back to the Bible to check what people in positions of leadership in the church are saying.  Keep doing this, you’re on the right track.

6.) Your dad has started to finally come around to this whole being involved in your life thing.  Don’t cut him out of yours now.

7.) Pretty soon you’ll get your bestest childhood friend back.  It’s called the Internet, and it will revolutionize your friendship.

8.) Keep your flannels.  You’ll want them in about 15 years.

9.) You will be heading to college.  You will be taking out loans.  Do not do the stubborn thing when you hit a hiccup in funding.  Take that year off of college and re-enroll when you qualify for Pell Grants.  Seriously, teenage me, it will be the only mistake you end up regretting.  All the others you will learn from in one way or another.

10.) Buffy the Vampire Slayer is awesome, not stupid.  Pick it up right now, because when you watch it as an adult a bit of the “OMG they’re the same age as me” magic will be gone.

11.) You have an incredible core group of friends there in Durango.  They have taught you how to mellow out and not be a pharisaical jerkface.  Keep in better touch with them.

12.) On the other hand, getting out of Durango was the right choice for you.  Remember this when you become slightly jealous of your brother staying there in a few years.  You really did need out.

13.) No really.  It is incredibly awesome that you’re not dating right now.  I promise you.

Okay, I think that’s it.  Just remember, teenage me, that it’s not as tragic as you think!  (But your poetry is!)

Love,

Almost 35 year old me

How about you?  What’s in your letter to your teenage self?

Installed

2 Jul

Sandy Skoglund, "Fox Games"

I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of those moments where the floor drops out and you don’t know which way is up or is down.  The last 10 years of my life have been strung together with these types of moments.  And I used to become completely unhinged for weeks, maybe months – becoming some kind of unwashed, alien zombie bent on dragging everyone else down into the pit of my despair.

And then I started to learn that it really was just a situation.  Of course, I’m not claiming to have the corner on this sort of truth, nor do I even want to give you the pretense that when negative things happen to me I always deal with them perfectly, with great composure, and never a stray hair missed.  (Or with some unwashedness for that matter!)

But here’s kinda where I’m coming from, and I’d like to take you with me if you’ll go.  I’ve become acutely aware of this painfully beautiful something I’ve built around me.  A masterpiece, even.  A still life pose.  Like a bowl of oranges, really.  It is a beautiful safety net, forged from Elvin silver.  Or a cane with a crooked handle that I can hold onto over my head, its bent handle keeping me from plummeting to my death after a misstep on the tight rope.  It’s nothing very revolutionary, other people have become aware of it.  It’s just simply my people.

My people.  They are many types of people.  Some are problem solvers, some dreamers, some have endured more than any single person should endure in their life, one is very tiny and can’t even say words yet.  They all do one thing though:  they sit.

Sometimes by a lake, in the middle of the night, 12 feet away, but still checking on me.  Often through some form of technology, just quiet, or chatty, or whatever is needed.  They sit on the end of a couch and humor me with Goldie Hawn and tasty snacks.  In my arms barely weighing anything, and only fidgeting slightly as they fight sleep.  Or on a barstool knocking back drinks and muttering obscenities under their breath.  Sometimes they are angry for me, sometimes sad, often they point out the lies I’m believing, or stay up all night with me just so I’m not alone; they are always there with their unique perspective.  They sit.  They show up.  They are there.

I think it’s why I’m obsessed a bit with installation art: someone filling a space with art which integrates the space around it as well as the piece.

Anthony Gormley's "Field for the British Isles," or "the first installation piece I fell in love with"

With installation art, the artist uses not only a created piece(s), but also space to guide the viewer through their piece.  Sometimes the viewer is allowed intimately inside the piece, with the artwork surrounding them; other times it is only by peeking in through the entrance of a room.

I seem to get the feeling more often than not that installation pieces want you to be surrounded, feel surrounded, know you’re surrounded.  Or they want you to be surprised and delighted that you found such a wonderful thing.  (See: guerrilla art) And I am.  Surrounded by beautiful pieces of art.  And I wander through, and sometimes hunker down beside them.  Or I laugh, sometimes smugly to myself that I’ve found such a lovely thing that thousands have walked past every day.  But mostly I am amazed.  I am amazed at this installation piece that I’ve created, and I lovingly try to care for it daily.

Chris Burden "Urban Light"