Staying with the Pain

September 6, 2016

My entire life has been about trying to make things okay. I planned to go to Harvard when I was eight, thinking that if I did the best thing, the hardest thing, I would be good enough and things would be better. I used to go through J.C. Penny catalogs and plan all the furniture and things I would need for my house some day… my house that would be organized, peaceful, and planned out. I made wedding plans starting around age 10… planning a life that would be built on love, and support, and full of beauty.

My entire life has been about trying to bring about stability, predictability, safety, and peace and I have tried to get there through hard work, determination, and doing all. the. right. things.

I am almost thirty-seven and all the right things have not saved me.

I did the right things professionally, I did all the right things as a parent, and as a partner. I read ALL THE BOOKS. And, at each turn, I have been shocked that things were not easier, more peaceful, and that I was not getting the stable, loving, happy life that I had planned for since I was a small girl.

I have read what I am going to write here a thousand times, and it is interesting how we can know something in our heads for so long and yet it has so very little to do with what goes on in our bodies and souls and at our core.

The pain, in so many ways, comes in trying to escape the pain. It comes from hoping that if we do the right things, and try hard enough, then it will be okay.

As Pema Chodron wisely tells us, “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

We try to escape the pain. Some of us through perfectionism, though unhealthy relationships, through drinking, food and buying things. But the reality is that there is no way out. And the question is then how do we live in that reality, where we must stop longing for the pain to recede, for the peace to come, for things to be as they should be?

I still have no answers, but a reminder to myself and to my few readers out there who might stumble across this, that our life will always be in the mess and there will always be pain. The question is not how to make it better, how to make it go away, or how to fix things (or fix ourselves) but rather how to live well in the midst of this.

I am reminded of what it means to get sober. One must wake up every damn morning and want to be sober. Be willing to go into life, into the struggles, and face it. To work at it. And then get up the next day and do it all over again. As Glennon Doyle Melton says, “Do the next right thing, one thing at a time.” We are not called to save the world or ourselves. Rather, to be present to the full reality of this life, here and now, loving and doing good where we can, and knowing also that we are finite, limited, and cannot do it all.

I just ordered this.

July 17, 2008

Oh, Jordan, Angela, Rayanne, and Ricki, If only you had lasted more than 19 episodes. But with each sweet episode, all of us other 14-year-olds ached with you. You are not forgotten. Amen.

On another note, this website also sold a shirt with the phrase, “If you got a problem, Yo, I’ll solve it.” I wanted to order that but $22 is A LOT for a t-shirt and of course Jordan took precedence. I was just entertaining my family the other day by downloading 90s songs from itunes and singing along every word, along with some very 90s dance moves. Oh, yes, I know every single word to Ice Ice Baby, Baby Got Back, Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang, Funky Cold Medina and so on. A few beats and I am back at the skating rink. Oh, those were the days.

Times They Are a’ Changin’

August 14, 2007

So I am doing some research about how foundations can set up a system where letters of inquiries, proposals, and such can be submitted online. In my search I turned up this great article from 1997 – only 10 years ago. It is titled: “Why the W.M. Keck Foundation Went Online.” It is a whole article about the cutting edge decision of this foundation to – yes, that’s right – develop a web page. The question at the heart of the article is: What motivates a Foundation to venture out onto the Internet?” and we are told that “her candid responses offer a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of how this respected foundation established itself on the World Wide Web.” This was only ten years ago. Could you imagine having such a conversation today?

In a week when I had a computer crash and our internet stopped working at the same time, and I am highly annoyed that  my adobe acrobat isn’t working and that Mcafee won’t install correctly, it is amazing to see how much technology is a part of our lives (and how #*%@(#& difficult it is to fix stupid little things on a measly little computer) and how fast it has happened. I know. Not some sort of rare revelation, but I found the article amusing and food for thought.

I can’t believe how disruptive it is when my computer isn’t working well and web pages load too slowly (for some unexplained reason).

I need to go to the beach.

Special Love Your Life Issue

April 12, 2007

This shouldn’t be funny. But it is in a weird sort of way. Somehow I get Ladies Home Journal (that’s not the funny thing).  I don’t pay for it, it just started showing up one day. Of course LHJ isn’t quite my style, so I just throw them in the “Goodwill” bag and I donate them. I can’t stand to throw away a magazine someone else might read.  But anyway.  The funny thing is that  the May 2007 issue which just arrived today has at the top “Special Love Your Life Issue”.  Yet.  Yet, some of the other headlines on the front cover include “The Best Low-Fat Ice Creams,” “The Most Important Insurance You Don’t Have,” “Sensational Summer Skin: The Safe, Natural Way,” “Win a Free Stress Makeover” and “Deadly Superbugs: How to Spot and Stop Them.”  I guess love your life except for fatty foods (because, really, you know you are too big)… love your life except in that you don’t have the right sort of insurance… love your life except that you could easily be killed by a deadly superbug and your skin isn’t good enough AND you need a “stress makeover” whatever the hell that is.   Thank you LHJ.

Make Maps of Where You Have Been

February 28, 2007

A great way to avoid doing more pressing work.

Austria – Germany – Luxembourg – Austria – Ireland – Spain – Greece – Belgium – Liechtenstein – Italy – Netherlands – Belgium – Switzerland – Vatican City – Czech Republic

I only included states that I could actually remember being in. I think I have been through Georgia and Maryland, but I figure if I can’t remember when, it doesn’t count.

We have a world map in our office with little pins in it where we have been so I thought this was fun. W. of course beats me having been to China, Taiwan, etc. I didn’t count countries where I only landed in the airport. I wish it showed boarders and names of the country on the map. You can do it here

I wanted to add Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but they didn’t have a Latin American map.

Gosh, I feel like I would be such a good professional traveler.

It’s gonna get up to 48 degrees on Saturday!

February 28, 2007

This makes me so happy.  It is 41 now and it feels so nice out. Well, at least nicer. I still have a hard time saying “nice” and “48 degrees” in one sentence. When we first moved to Boston, I would have been ready to start putting my winter clothes away – March is almost here, right? Spring should be here soon!

But I have learned to appreciate the non-miserable weather, love the sun, but not get my hopes up. Because it can always blizzard in May here. Like it did our second year leaving here.

But guess how hot it will be in Nicaragua March 22-31 when I am there? Hot! Whoo-hoo! When I lived there, it took me several weeks to get used to sweating all the time. Like dripping, wet, yucky sweating. That is just how it is.  All the time, pretty much.  But I did get used to it and I would always prefer that to coldness.

Just my thoughts on the weather today.  Because I know you wanted to know.

And I will be blogging live from Nicaragua while I am there.  I’m so looking forward to it! I just hope my friends and family aren’t completely shocked when they realize I have forgotten Spanish.  Aye! I need to find a tutor fast.

Why are U.S. Americans so religious?

May 21, 2006

Does anyone know a good article or book (or several) that explains why U.S. Americans are so religious/Christian (for instance, as compared to Europe which is so secular)? I’m sure I could find some, but I’m wondering if there are ones people know of that are actually good or accepted as pretty on-target. I know, I know. I’m in divinity school and should know this. But I don’t.