Category Archives: Freedom vs Fear

Flippin’ Fun Over Fifty!

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Lake Chatuge (2)

We usually visit family for vacation, either at Lake Keowee, South Carolina or to the Blue Ridge mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. This year, though, procrastination combined forces with many unsuccessful, indecisive HomeAway and VRBO searches, leaving us without a viable option near family.

Well, to be honest, there were places left to rent, but I’m pretty picky when it comes to the few days a year I get to really relax and refresh from my busy life. I want fresh, clear water to swim and boat in. I want magnificent short and long range mountain views. I want comfy furniture with room to spread out, a porch with a view and plenty of windows for sunlight to stream in. I want a place that’s clean and up-to-date, not a moldy shower, sunken-bed and cob-web corner kind of place. Like I said, picky.

We end up a short two hours from family, in Hiawassee, Georgia. Amazing place. So amazing that I hesitate to write about it–for fear the world hears and rushes in! Of course, with only 512 Wonderful WordPress Followers, I calm myself on that question. The name “Hiawassee” comes from the Cherokee word “Ayuhwasi,” (meadow) but some say it is named for a Native American princess. Hiawassee is a picturesque small town in the mountains at the southern end of Lake Chatuge. The lake is spring-fed, a reservoir with 132 miles of mountainous shoreline. Within thirty minutes of Helen,

Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls

Anna Ruby Falls, Blairsville and Brasstown Bald, we have our choice of short day trips to round out our lazy days on the lake. Our place, a townhouse we rent, is steps from the lake. It has all of the amenities on my “picky-list,” plus. The owner leaves fresh flowers in every room. There is a swing on the balcony overlooking the lake and mountains. The dock offers a swimming area complete with a ladder so I might properly and safely climb into the water–and some shallow areas where my granddaughter digs her toes in to find tiny mussels.

View from Brasstown Bald, highest elevation in Georgia

View from Brasstown Bald, highest elevation in Georgia

 

 

As I relax, I take care to preserve the good feeling. For those of you who follow my posts, you know I’m young at heart. My body doesn’t always share that sentiment. With respect for the old gal’s body, I spend many hours just loafing in the lake on an inflatable lounge chair, enjoying the view–and my granddaughter’s antics. I remember to squeeze my glutes (as my physical therapist emphasizes) with each step of our two hikes, one up the shady trail by Anna Ruby Falls and the other on the steep pathway to the highest point in Georgia (Brasstown Bald). I am doing fine and don’t want to spoil it by overdoing things and waking up the boogie monster. But the wooden ledge on the edge of the dock, resting a few inches below the clean water, keeps calling me.

“Flip!” the ledge calls.

I look away. Such a lovely view. So relaxing. . .

“Come on, do it!”

Is it the ledge, or the child inside, or are they conspiring together?

It is the last full day on the lake. “If it hurts,” that kid inside my head reasons, “well, it’s not like you’ve ruined the whole vacation.”

“I’m scared, though. I don’t want to hurt,” the fifty-eight year-old replies.

“It’s water.”

“Hmmm, so it is.” I have no argument. I really want to do it.

So I make a big production (If I cramp up or get dizzy, someone will rescue me, right?).

“Announcing, one and all, the famous flip of the fifty-something fibro-woman!”

My granddaughter stops to look and laughs. Before long the others have come to attention too.

And I do it!

Jumping forward and tucking my head, body, legs. . . over I go. I plunge into the cool support of Lake Chatuge. Muscle memory kicks in. My arms and legs know what to do. I feel the gentle pressure of water on every inch of my body without the support of a float. I feel it help me rise to the surface. My fist goes up in the air and I shout–no, woop–with victory!

And it doesn’t hurt!

 

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Everyone cheers. Then they seem to want to go back to what they were doing. They obviously don’t realize the courage it took, the incredibly wonderful feeling it brings, this flop-of-a-flip-that-looked-more-like-a-somersault-than-a-dive-but-is-so-great-to-me! So I start clapping rhythmically and calling my step-daughter’s name, over and over again. My granddaughter joins in the call for “Mom-mie! Mom-mie! Mom-mie!”

She complies, leaving the comfort of her water lounger, and we all cheer, and before long we are all doing silly jumps and dives and other antics from the dock, cheering one another on.

And it doesn’t hurt!

And I don’t get dizzy or lose muscle control or cramp or drown or die!

Ha!

 

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Vacation is over, now, and as I write this memoir, I lay in bed nursing a strained back that I didn’t get on vacation. This one came as I reached across the bed grappling for the remote control in the dark. Who knew watching TV in bed could be so dangerous? But it will get better. I won’t give up, or give in. I will take good care of myself and get back to functioning soon.

Maybe next time I’ll be more apt to jump in the lake and less apt to reach for the remote!

This summer won’t be remembered for this present back ache. This shall be the summer of the flippin-fun-fifty-eight-year-old!

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Hiawassee. Thank you, Lake Chatuge. Thank you, Appalachian Mountains. Thank you, family.  Thank you, body, soul and spirit. Thank you, Hanz Tabora at Access Physical Therapy in Jacksonville, Florida: the best physical therapist EVER.

Flippin’ Fun to you,

©Joan T. Warren

Compassion: Left and Right

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Marge lay exhausted at the end of a long day, her eyes puffy from too many tears. It has been an emotional day for her. As she lay on the sofa catching a quick break, an ear out for when her son’s trach needs suctioning, she becomes acutely aware that Read the rest of this entry

No Need for Eyes to See This

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This morning my granddaughter put on How to Train Your Dragon.  Again.

I sat nearby, reading and thinking, writing a bit, occasionally paying slight attention to the movie.

“In centuries of Vikings, I’m the first one who wouldn’t kill a dragon,” Hiccup sulked to Astrid. Feeling the failure of not living up to his culture’s expectations, feeling the sting of disappointing his father, Hiccup doubted himself. Astrid saw beyond this temporary setback:

“Yeah, the first one who was right.”

 

Hiccup had decided to spare the dragon when he looked into its eyes and realized, “He was just as afraid as I was.” Hiccup saw with the eyes of his heart.

His compassion, as it turned out, changed everything. It changed his father. It changed his village. It changed dragons. It changed him.

We like to think we are far more advanced than the world of Vikings and dragons. But are we?

Do we see with the eyes of our hearts?

Do we find the good?

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©Joan T. Warren

Action Request for Venezuela

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Please, readers who are U. S. Citizens, take a moment to visit this page and sign the petition. It is real. I have family who are living it. There is a petition on the White House agenda to sanction Venezuelan violators of human rights and reduce importation of Venezuelan oil. It has until April 11, 2014, to gain enough votes.

Read H. R. 4226 and the petition.

Sign it.

Pass it on. Thank you.

http://wh.gov/lVwEK

 

SOS Venezuela

SOS Venezuela

 

http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2014/04/06/caurimare-amanece-bajo-fuerte-represion-de-la-pnb-fotos/

 

Joan T. Warren

Part 3: Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People!

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Perhaps the silence is breaking. In the last few weeks, cbsnews.com, foxnews.com and washingtonpost.com reported violence toward Christian and non-Muslim targets in Syria and Egypt. I still haven’t heard a word of it on the morning news, but at least  three mainstream media sources are touching on this serious human rights violation.

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you know I’m grappling with just how to respond to these atrocities. In part one of this series, I covered some personal background regarding author, speaker, activist and theologian, Brian McLaren. His recent blog posts (click here and here) discussed the issue, its relative silence in media and churches, and our responses to it. In part two of this three-part series, I delved into Brian’s first post, in which he posited six possible reasons for silence on the issue. I shared some of my concerns and posed many questions.

In this last installment, we will review Brian’s second post, in which he suggests six courses of action Americans, particularly American christians, should take. This is the post I’ve been looking forward to the most since beginning the series. After all, when people are being murdered just for having different beliefs, it doesn’t make sense to just sit on the problem, not doing anything to prevent future violence. Yet in all this time the most I could come up with actually doing about it, from here in my suburban life in America, is to write this series. I took some time to think about it, to read more, to develop ideas and share a bit at a time because, well, it wasn’t as though I could board a plane over there and step in the middle of it to break it up. Even if I could take the time and spend the money, my presence would only become another statistic, and probably not even make the news.

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Borrowed from donkeyphilosphy.tumblr.com

So, let’s take a look at the six courses of action McLaren recommends, and my responses to his framework. Again I invite you to join me with your responses. Here, again, is the link to Brian’s post; please refresh your memory and give it a read:

Muslims, Christians, Jews and Peace (2)

The first of Brian’s six suggestions makes perfect sense to me:

“We must join together to condemn human rights violations whenever they occur and upon whomever they are inflicted. We must become vocal advocates for the rights of religious minorities. . .”

Absolutely! There is power in numbers and unity. The only word I stumble on is the word “must.” As a recovering child of an alcoholic, there are a few words I am wary of, due to their power to subconsciously constrain me to live up to law instead of freeing me to live under grace, in free will, with choices. “Must” is one of them, along with its buddies, “should,” “ought to” and “have to.” I always try to replace those words in my mind with words like “can,” “it would be good if,” and “let’s.” Rephrasing this statement then, in my mind it becomes “We can join together. . . It would be good to become vocal advocates. . . ”

Having made this freeing distinction, I suggest we need specific means to help translate this into reality. How do we join together? Do organizations exist working to this end? What can we do to become vocal advocates for the rights of religious minorities? Is it enough to engender discussions around the dinner table, at the golf club or in the workplace, or does it mean more than this? After all, people are being slaughtered, shot, blown up, raped, imprisoned, tortured, their necks slit! Do we just timidly raise a hand in a meeting and whisper, “Um, excuse me, but they’re killing people over there?” If it were happening to me, or to someone next to me, I wouldn’t hesitate to shout it out, call for help, make a big deal out of it until someone intervened. How do we do that in this situation? Is our advocacy vocal only or shall we physically fight back?

The second point McLaren makes is a huge task, one which births more questions in my mind: Read the rest of this entry

Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People! Part 2

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“. . . writing from heart to heart toward healthy relationships and living, involves both personal lives on a small scale AND global relationships. After all, we are all individual people on this earth, and we are one humanity.”

Welcome back! This is part two in a three-part series. In part one, we learned some background information that is crucial to understanding this portion. Here is a link to part one:

Excuse me, Part 1

After reading Brian McLaren’s articles addressing the need to speak up about extremist Muslims targeting Christians for death, I shared some background with you on my history of personal experience with author and activist Brian McLaren, and initiated this series as a means to personally respond to his suggestions and to invite further discussion and thought on the matter with you, my readers. This series of three posts can serve as a platform where we can begin to speak about the rising tide of religious violence, and engage in meaningful conversation that has the potential, given form and shape by its partakers, to become a profound and guiding philosophy in our present day challenges.

Personally, I had many questions and concerns while reading McLaren’s articles. I hope that in sharing them here, our mutual engagement may advance my own thinking as well as, perhaps, our global consciousness. Here are my responses to part one of Brian’s article:

First, I must say that I agree with Brian’s assertion that the persecution and murder of Christians and other non-Muslims by extremist and terrorist Muslims is appalling. I agree, too, that the lack of reporting, discussing and acting upon these matters is also abhorrent. As Brian explores possible reasons for the relative silence on the matter, he suggests six possible reasons. Here, I review four of the six that, in my view, need further exploration.

First, Brian suggests that people are silent perhaps because we fear being counted as extremists, but that the resultant silence aides and abets extremism and is in itself evil:

“But wrongly and unwisely – many simply remain silent. In so doing, they aid and abet extremism in both Christian and Muslim communities. As Powers stated, quoting Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.”

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Bonhoeffer

On this point I struggle.  Read the rest of this entry

Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People–Part 1

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Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People–Part 1

A Little Background

A friend from the 1970’s is now a well-known writer, activist and speaker. When I first met him, he was probably about twenty years old. He was remarkable, even at that age, in his charisma, warmth, dedication, musical talent and ability to reach out to and relate to nearly anyone in an authentic and meaningful manner. He was the first person I met whose life called me to rethink my oh-so-well-informed-19-year-old-critical-judgment that all Christians are hypocrites.

imageBack then, remember, young people were idealistic. We were peace-loving activists who believed we could change the world. Brian exceeded all the other I’d-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-type activists I knew, as he embodied the notion of love and purity, doing his best to live as Jesus would in present day. No pot-smoking, let’s-all-love-each-other-but-I-really-mean-let’s-go-to-bed-sort was he. No, he was idealism at its best, and I loved him for it. I followed. I joined his family’s home church, meeting in an elementary school on Sundays and in their home on Wednesday nights. They meant to create a new testament church, similar to what the apostles in the early church experienced. We met in a circle, facing one another, talking about how we were doing, sharing a Bible verse that we felt encouraged by that week, praying for each other, singing songs together, breaking bread. I pretty much devoured every word, soaking up the lessons and applying them to my life as if they were the cure to all that ailed me. It was really quite wonderful, while it lasted.

Before long, the little church dissipated, dwindling away rapidly once Brian went off to college. It was he who was the main attraction, after all, in that time and place. Yet we who were impacted by those relational meetings remain bonded over time and space, even sharing a Facebook group today. Brian went on to an English degree, then became a pastor, and later a full-time author, activist and speaker.

Several years ago I stumbled upon him again, and found that he has not lost the ability to influence me powerfully. Through exchanging a few emails, reading a few of his books, his blog and Facebook page, Brian again spurs me to go beyond my working definitions in life, and out of my realm of comfort.

imageNot blindly, though: I am not a loyal follower of anyone like I was when I was 20. No, these days I’m more apt to think for myself. I’ve seen enough hypocrisy among Christian leadership to make me reconsider my 19-year-old-wisdom. I’ve met more dysfunctional, toxic and down-right scary folks in churches than anywhere else, and I’ve met some of the most sincere, authentic people-of-little-faith in the most ungodly  places.  So, now, when I read Brian’s writing, I don’t swallow it whole, but I certainly give it thoughtful consideration. Read the rest of this entry

Political Correctness: Mean Girls in Charge?

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Is political correctness a useful concept, or does it stifle honest discussion? This, the question posed by WordPress’ Daily Prompt. For my take on this prompt, I will stretch an analogy as far as I can:

Political correctness is the group of mean girls at school. They are beautiful. They are cool. They set the standard of what is fashionable versus what is ridiculously out. They look down their noses at all those who are too stupid, ugly, poor or otherwise inadequate to be a part of their high status. Read the rest of this entry

Independence Day in the USA

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Happy Independence Day! Click on Independence Day and it will take you to a site where you can read a brief history of our highly prized national holiday, July 4, Independence Day. Then come back and enjoy this quick video from Washington, DC fireworks! Keep reading, we’re not finished quite yet!

I especially like how this article points out that we celebrate the day we proclaimed independence, not when we achieved it! It serves as a reminder that when we make our minds up to be or to do something, our firm decision and proclamation is the true turning point!

Happy Independence!

P. S. How do you define and declare independence? Is there a time when you proclaimed something, something that took a lot of guts and you knew wouldn’t come easy, and then you made it happen? Share by commenting in the box below. . .

Joan T. Warren

R(isky) E-lationships

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Today the news reporters are aghast–the government has access to our phone calls and internet exchanges! Why would this come as a surprise to anyone? Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I’ve always suspected it. Maybe it was growing up in the D.C. burbs, where stories of secret underground missiles and bomb shelters were standard fare. “See that farm over there? The trees and the grass look so perfect because they’re not real!” Maybe it was George Orwell that started it for me. Attending high school in the early 70’s, we read 1984 as sci-fi. We thought that by the year 2000 we’d all be talking on phones with cameras on our television screens, that we’d even have them in our bathrooms, most assuredly–that is, if we survived the pending nuclear holocaust.

Although I’ve been online for many years, I’ve always kept a low profile, guarding my AIM, Yahoo, Google and Facebook accounts as if they were hot commodities someone would steal or use against me someday. So, it figures that right after I decide to get out here and share my real name and start a “Heart to heart” blog in the electronic world, the news would confirm my belief that none of this is private! Oh, well. If they decide to persecute me for being who I am, then I guess I’m done for!

Seriously, though, our fine government has a history of pulling some pretty sneaky tricks. Read the rest of this entry