Thursday, March 31, 2011

Choosing Kenyon

It's the time of year when seniors in high school choose colleges and I think back to choosing Kenyon, which I actually did early, in November. So I've been brought back a bit because Kenyon has been in the news via basketball - a bit funny as I never went to a basketball game at Kenyon.

I visited 3 schools - Kenyon was the last. I was sure I wanted to go to school #1 in Minnesota. I went there to verify it and left a bit puzzled - it was ok, but didn't feel quite right, and it was cold!

I visited school #2 and the cross country coach took a lot of time driving me around the cross country course in a golf cart, saying what a good runner I was. The students there were perhaps the most genuine of anywhere - Earlham - and before I was diagnosed with MS, a group of them who had met me sent me a well wishes card at Kenyon that made me cry. I liked that school, but... I don't know - not totally right.

November 2 - Kenyon. Leaves were falling off the trees - it was beautiful. I was driven to the middle of nowhere - where Kenyon is - by 2 animated and a bit strange guys who seemed to just love life.

I stayed with Jody (later a friend) who was quiet but nice. I went to a math class taught by a somewhat quirky professor.

And then I went to cross country practice. Nice coach (I'd better be careful - he could read this!) and team - a bit quirky (which I MUST be). And then they said, well, would you want to go to the soccer game? They were animated. Sure - a soccer game - this school loved soccer games. And the soccer game made it final - I wanted to go there.

It wasn't the academics like it should have been. It was the people - so animated - so cheerful. Kelley was the one I remember the most - a beautiful laugh - her humor in taking this high schooler to the game where there was a lot of smoking, but also a lot of good-hearted cheering. Kelley - the one whose car I borrowed so many times to drive to the doctor since I didn't have a car - the one who was with me when I was diagnosed. I went home and immediately changed my application to early admission - wondering, hoping I could become a part of that place.

The whole group of people I met had such energy and spark - maybe quirky - maybe that made it more fun -
it's part of the magic
that is Kenyon.

That magic, that spark - I don't think it exists in quite the same way anywhere else.

And so... choosing Kenyon. I was so lucky.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saint Theresa's Prayer

This prayer usually is sent to me via email with a request to forward to some of my friends, so maybe a blog posting will work instead. I do like this prayer...

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
Dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

I do like this prayer. It's been a really odd week for me, so perhaps this was sent at a good time - so there can be peace within, today, that somehow I know I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, that this coming week I may find freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.

The odd week can't really be described because it's confidential and it's that way for some good reasons. But there are times when I've been with Lori in the car and she's said, "Mommy, are you ok?" I'm ok - just in thought, processing things, or trying to process things, and wondering how God really does fit into all of this. In the middle of processing, there is new information that my boss is leaving and there's even more to process. At that point I must have looked shocked or sad, or something... It's been enough to almost bring me to a standstill, not knowing what to think, do, write, etc. But life goes on and I think perhaps I should ask God to get me to stop processing!

In the middle of this, there's ongoing therapy which I have woven into my life. I got a new, lighter weight brace. It's awesome - my leg feels so much lighter. I go to physical therapy weekly and keep getting better. There is excitement in that, but then there is returning to where I see people who are processing and I return to processing. Then I go somewhere else where I must continue walking and when I am ready for a break, my legs say "Walk!" It's chaotic - this weaving/balancing of processing, celebrating, obeying (obeying my legs).

As the new week begins and I have this prayer, I hope that I can find a peace, be content, sing, dance, praise, and love. And along with myself, I hope others can do the same.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Faith journey

Part of what I said in church, or intended to say - we're doing testimonials during Lent ...

I was baptized by my grandfather as a very small infant. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away when I was a small infant, so I never knew him personally.

I've always had a strong faith, but I can't trace my faith journey as a child or a teenager back to any one person who inspired or influenced me in faith. So, I can only think it must have been my grandfather - knowing he baptized me and was a minister, hearing a few stories of him, and when I asked, getting one of his many bibles (which is now well worn).

Some people wonder, or ask, how I can still have strong faith when I was diagnosed with MS at a young age (20). I was in college in Ohio, far away from my family in Colorado. It was hard, very hard, but I went to an amazing school (Kenyon College) where I had the support of great friends. But it was still hard and I reached to our minister on campus. We met on the beautiful campus, in the beautiful chapel - in the basement - him, his secretary, and me. We prayed together, we were still together, we took everything in together. And that's one of the 2 most profound times in my life where I've sensed being held. And then I knew I would be ok, no matter what happened.

Life moved on - MS is no fun - but there are so many good things in life. I got married and had a daughter, Lori. We joined Holy Love and I found what had been missing for me - a faith community.

So I look back and I've always felt that God is with me. I don't believe that God gave me MS because I could handle it, or because it's part of some great plan, because God is good. God is with me through everything - bad and good - and there's a lot of good. There's a new medicine which is helping me do a lot of things better.

So my faith journey continues. I don't know where life will go. I do know that God will be with me. I take time to be still - to pray - to pause. Then I'm at peace - and God is right there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A cup of coffee

I love coffee. I love to buy it on my morning drive to work and am convinced I might not make it to work without that cup.

The other night, I was telling my husband, wouldn't it be awesome to be able to walk unassisted just even a little bit?

Wouldn't it be neat to wake up and be able to cross the room by myself?

And so, he said, what would you do first?

I remember when I would park far away from work - I didn't use my placard until I HAD to use it. I would buy my coffee and carry it into work. One day someone informed me I was spilling it a bit which I knew - I wasn't so steady. So I got special airtight containers for my coffee. I parked closer. Eventually I gave up carrying my coffee into work.

Last Sunday I got to "coffee time" early at church and, clutching, I chose my own donut and made my own coffee. It seems so silly. But to me, this was significant. We have a lot of donuts! Then someone carried the coffee to a table for me.

So, there's progress.

But really, if I ever did get the chance to walk a little way unassisted and steady, what do you think I would do?

It's so obvious.

Yes, I'd get my own cup of coffee.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where are they?

Devastating images from Japan,
buildings toppled,
cities flooded,
residents scrambling
wearing masks.

Streets are in ruin.
Things are broken,
streets are broken.
Water is everywhere.
People are rescued from housetops.

Remember 9-11.
People were running from the scene.
Mouths were covered to avoid the dust.

It is said the poor are the worst affected.

But where are they, many of whom are also poor?

Are they in hospitals?
Hospitals in Japan are flooded to the fourth floor.

Where are they?
They are often absent in media anyway.
They are still absent.

I read the likelihood that many of them survived is unlikely.
They were told to wait for help on a high floor of the World Trade Center.
That building crumbled as they sat, waiting for help.

They can't make it to the rooftop.
They may be on those bottom fourth floors of the hospitals that are flooded.
They can't navigate uneven pavement.
They can't navigate around all the wreckage.

And so they are not seen, because often they may not even begin to be able to seek help.

We pray for all those who are affected by this disaster, many of whom have lost their lives.
We pray especially for the poor during this time.
Let us not forget to pray for those who we haven't seen.
Many may have lost their lives as well.
Many may be stuck unable to navigate to ask for help.

Let us pray for those with disabilities.
We don't see them.
Where are they?
Let us pray.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Be Still

Lent, to me, is partly about incorporating stillness in life, taking the time to just be, to be still.

Each morning I attempt this. I get up, go sit in a white chair, and try to spend that time. The cat happily joins me. The dog then awakes, starts her panting routine, wakes my husband who lets her out, and that's the end. But I do find other times.

In my life, it's been during a few of those times I have most felt God's presence, there, holding me, with the assurance that all will be ok.

Recently I can be still while standing. This is a new experience. You learn how to do these things in life, then MS takes them away, and then, for whatever reason, you may be able to get them back. When that happens, it seems miraculous.

On Saturday I was standing outside on our deck (a great "be still" place). I practice standing here against the railing, flexing all these muscles people take for granted that enable a person to stand straight. I count to 120 (seconds - 2 minutes) and then normally stop, but on Saturday I kept standing - I could just be. I was still. I could hear the birds around me as if telling me to just be - to be still. Still in this new stance of standing is absolute heaven to me. I breathe, I take in the fresh air, I feel my feet on the ground beneath me. I push up on my toes as if reaching for the sky. My hands position themselves so I almost have my balance. And I imagine reaching, pushing on toes, reaching.

Beautiful words come...

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
and its righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you...

Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find.
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you..."

Seek. Ask. Knock.
Be still. Reach. Feel.

Faith asks (toes reach),
Hope seeks (standing still),
Love knocks (feel the experience).

"All these things shall be added unto you."

God is with us.

Be still.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Being 8

When you're 8, life is rough. Your parents let you dress as you wish when you go to school (parents choose their battles), you go to school all day and play with your friends, you come home, do homework, play games, read, etc, and go to bed. It's fun.

You might have activities. My daughter likes to do anything - I suppose she is "well-rounded!"

I realized something in skiing this year. She's really good at skiing, but that's not what I noticed. I noticed that even though she is really good, she was skiing the easy stuff. Skiing a black, to her, is something she just says she wants to do. She's good enough to do a black (advanced) slope, and probably do it well.

Recently we were skiing and her teacher took her to the kids area which was off a really difficult blue. I was sit-skiing and was being tethered, which allows me to ski anything because my teacher can control speed and turns from behind via ropes, or "tethers." Since I was "tethered," I was faster, and could ski down and then watch her ski.

It was very steep. She was skiing well, in complete control. But, she didn't look happy. I'm not sure who decided this was a great idea to do this blue, her or her teacher, because I was just doing what they wanted to do.

By the end, she was done. The fun was all gone.

It turned out ok, because my shoulder hurts and it's time for the season to end so I don't re-injure it. But this gives us both time to get back to having fun.

I think of so many 8 year olds who are pushed because they are good at something. It's not the majority, but some are pushed way too hard just because they are good.

Hopefully I won't do that. Being 8 should be fun without a bunch of pressure. Lori will make choices on what she wants and when she wants to push limits to be better (well, except on things like homework!). Those are her decisions.

Until that happens, I'm happy with her skiing straight down the easy stuff, skiing through the trees, skiing through the easy but fun kids stuff. That's fun for her. And being 8, for the most part, should be fun.

I wish I could go back to 8. There really aren't any worries.