Category Archives: Relationships

Elusive Pleasures: Get the Feeling Back!

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Elusive Pleasures: Get the Feeling Back!

How can we get our brains to release that much-needed pleasure response again?

We’ve looked at how easy it is to lose a good feeling. A simple change in sensation can derail pleasure. (If you’re just joining us, you can read part one of this series by clicking here). We’ve also discovered that our own perceptions and beliefs can contribute to pleasure loss (to review this concept, click here).

Now we’ve come to the good part! The reason you’ve come back, the reason you’re taking precious moments from your busy life to read this little blog:

How to get the feeling back!

happy found on clipart by Word

It really is important to have pleasure. How many marriages fail when a partner looks elsewhere for pleasure? It’s a common misconception to think that making a new connection with a different partner will restore pleasure. It’s only partly wrong, though. Making a new connection is essential. The different partner, well, that’s debatable!

The new connections we need are not necessarily with new people. We need to make new connections in our brains. When changes in sensation (like those sprinkler heads) result in a misfire in the pleasure response, our brains need new associations to restore pleasure. It’s neuroscience, but it’s not that complicated:

One neuron reaches out to shake hands with another.

“Pleased to meet you!”

“Likewise, charmed. Let’s meet here again.”

Most of us have heard of Pavlov’s dogs. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist around the turn of the 20th century, used dogs in his studies of the digestive system. He paired a stimulus (like ringing a bell) with food presentation. Before long, he noted the dogs began to salivate at the mere ringing of the bell, even without the aroma or visual presentation food. The ability to create purposeful connections between the digestive system and the brain became known as “classical conditioning.”

It’s old science now, but still true.

Since then, scientists have discovered much more about brains. We now know that our brains constantly learn–including how to learn better.  We also know that natural chemicals in our brains can make us feel excited, good or pleasantly satisfied.  Perhaps most relevant to our task of restoring pleasure, scientists who study the brain found that

neurons that fire together, wire together.” neuronal connections with blue light from Word clipart

This is a catchy way of saying that pairing one sensation or movement with another, repeatedly, enhances their function, and eventually, activating one automatically activates the other.

We can re-condition our brain to respond to new stimuli with a pleasurable response!

Crazy, huh!?!

But true.

Try it! Pick something that always makes you feel good. Maybe it’s an Adam Sandler movie. Maybe it’s a sensual time with your partner. Maybe it’s a big slice of Death by Chocolate cake. Now, add a new sensation or movement while you enjoy this activity every time you do it for the next month or two. For example, bring a certain pillow to place on your lap every time you watch a funny movie. You may want to try touching an area on your face during intimacy. Or, if you’re the chocolate lover, play or hum the same piece of music with each bite.

eating chocolate cake

Before long, you’ll find that when you experience the sensation you’ve added to your pleasurable activity, your brain will start sending out that pleasure response! Just picking up that pillow makes you smile. Stroking your cheek in that spot will. . . Your song on the radio will give you the feeling you’ve just had a scrumptious slice of chocolate cake!

Neuroscientists are our friends! They also research methods to enhance new brain cell connections (neuroplasticity). They’ve found that physical and brain exercises boost neuronal growth.

For this week, along with practicing the pairing we just discussed, add some physical exercise to your daily routine. It needn’t be much; just an extra walk around the block, some light resistance work, or a few extra times up and down the stairs. Do this while you’re thinking pleasurable thoughts, and your brain will have more reason to fire up those neuronal connections.

brain exercises found on Word clipart

Next week, we’ll discuss more brain exercises we can do to improve our pleasure responses–even if they’re impaired by our own erroneous beliefs. For now, though, you have plenty of things to try. Please join me in a discussion by commenting below.

  • How will you be pairing activities to restore pleasure?
  • What exercises will you add to your daily routine this week?
  • Have you found new connections that restored your pleasure, now or in the past?

-Joan

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11, AMPC

Elusive Pleasures: Aging with Erroneous Beliefs

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Elusive Pleasures: Aging with Erroneous Beliefs

 

Last week I wrote about sprinkler heads.

Why would anyone stop to read about sprinkler heads?

Because it’s really about pleasure, and adapting to changes that block our pleasure.

Maybe for you, it’s the sound of rain on the roof that triggers a pleasure response. Or perhaps you’re drawn to the beach, where the rhythmic splash of the surf and the caress of warm breezes relaxes your soul. Some prefer the mountains, with the scent of pine, and expansive views. Still others are drawn to the city, where light and movement persist. Wherever you’ve found yourself prone to relax, forget your stressors and relish the moment, I’m writing about that spot. I’m writing about our brains associating sensations (like the sound of the sprinklers) with pleasure.

Then something happens to change the sensation.

  • The sprinkler heads need replacing, and the new ones make a different sound.
  • Construction of a ten-story condominium interrupts your favorite spot at the beach.
  • A stuffy nose blocks you from the aroma of pine trees on your mountain hike.
  • The building across the street hangs a huge neon sign that blocks your view of the city.

And the pleasure is gone.

That’s what I’m writing about! We all relate to pleasure. We want it. We need it. Without it, life is drudgery.

How do we find pleasure once it’s gone?

(That’s why you’re reading it.)

Hang with me, for this five-part series will get you there.

Today, I’m going to share with you a little more in depth about an obstacle I’m facing that is more challenging than changing sprinkler heads. It’s an obstacle that has been steadily crimping my pleasure for several years now, and one that I think many of you can relate to:

Elusive Pleasures: Aging with Erroneous Beliefs

I was going to knock around the tennis ball with my husband well into my 70’s. I was going to be that 80-year old still running the 5-K. I was going to dance in sexy high-heels well into my 90’s. I was going to lift bags of potting soil and bend over to tend the garden perhaps to 100.

Something ordinary and un-interesting cut off those pleasures well before their time: aging. In this aging body, they’ve labeled it many things: fibromyalgia (which I called the boogie monster in this article), arthritis, bone spurs, bulging discs and even a non-bony union of the subtalar joint. (Geez!) Whatever they’ve called it, it’s been one thing after another, and it’s always left me with a choice between:

getting to do the active things I love           or

check feeling good enough to function in daily responsibilities.

I fought it for a while. When my right shoulder hurt all the time, I taught my left arm to swing the racket. Then my left shoulder hurt. With both shoulders, a hip, low back and ankle hurting, I finally left the tennis court.

gif funny tennis game over aging pleasure
Credit senorgifcom

 

 

Eventually, even less strenuous activities like ballroom dance, yoga, biking, walking and gardening produced pain, which crowded out the pleasure.

For many people, this is “just a part of aging.” They don’t talk much about it. They just don’t do as much as they used to do.

Does aging necessarily mean life without pleasure? Is aging a slow process of peeling back the layers of pleasure until, at last, we’re ready to say goodbye to this cruel world?

I stepped back to think on this.

Elusive Pleasures: Aging with Erroneous Beliefs Be sure to read this second in a five-part series designed to help you restore pleasue after losing it! This is not just for the aging, it is for anyone who is experiencing a loss of pleasure!

(Selah)

What was it about that vision (of being the active older person) that gave me pleasure?

Was the pleasure response from running, playing tennis, dancing, yoga, biking, walking and gardening from their associated sensations? Was it from the pounding of my joints on the pavement? Was it from the sweat rolling down my face as I darted side to side across the clay to reach the yellow ball? Was it from seeing the same houses as I biked around our neighborhood day after day? Was it from the gentle breeze on an evening walk, or the impression of the soil between my gloved hands as I planted a new flower in the yard?

Or could that pleasure response also come from something inside? Something I perceived or believed?

When I thought about the pleasure response that came from being an accomplished, active senior, it wasn’t really about the sound, or the scent, or the tactile input. What was it, then?

Could it have been pride of achievement, of being better-than-average?

Hmmm.

I admit I’ve enjoyed that feeling since childhood. As the fourth of six children, affirmation and attention came from being the smart one, the honor roll student and the fastest in relay races. I could recite the alphabet before my school-aged brother when I was two years old. I could out-spell all of my older siblings by the time I was eight. I did algebra from my brother’s 9th grade textbook when I was ten, and, by the time I was thirteen, I could cook, clean and budget better than my mother.

Maybe so, then. Maybe I’ve held an erroneous belief all these years, and didn’t ever notice it.

If aging—and its associated decrease in good sensations—continues this way (as it likely will), then where can pleasure be found, if not from the feeling of being better-than-average?

(It never should have been from feeling better-than-average in the first place, but that is beside the point!)

My experience with aging is just one example of how loss of pleasure can be related not only to a change in physical sensation but also to underlying perceptions or beliefs.

Maybe you had to stop and examine yourself, too. Maybe a challenge you faced persisted to the point that you had to look deeper into yourself to question why you struggled to adapt to your loss. Maybe you didn’t even realize you held erroneous perceptions or beliefs, until you had to stop and examine the matter.

Yet, here we are: a change in sensation, a change in some bodily function, a change in something beyond our control, a change that keeps us from achieving that which we believed would make us feel better– and pleasure eludes us.

What can be done?

How can we get our brains to release that much-needed pleasure response again?

That’s where we’ll pick up next week.

(Oh, yes, you have to wait a week!)

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join this conversation by commenting below (in orange, where its says “Leave a comment.” What changes in sensations, or functions, or other losses seem to rob you of the pleasure response in your brain? What underlying perceptions or beliefs have you identified in between your ears?

-Joan

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11, AMPC

 

Elusive Pleasures: Sprinklers in the Garden of Life

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Elusive Pleasures: Sprinklers in the Garden of Life

Comfortably settling into my spot on the back porch for Sunday morning coffee, I noticed it.

It didn’t feel right. It seemed empty. What was it?

The coffee was its usual perfect color, aroma and taste. The cushions and pillows cradled and supported me as always; the velvety plum-colored pillow (brought out from indoors) fit perfectly on my lap, softly snuggling my coffee mug between my savoring sips. The garden sported more than its usual splendor of blooms. The squirrel did its ritual leap from the tree to reach the squirrel-proof bird feeder, where it cleverly clung to the wire mesh and bounced to get the seeds to fall out. Birdsong filled the air, announcing another beautiful day forthcoming, while the birds awaited their turn at the feeder. The sprinklers were on (I timed them to come on just as I get there so I can enjoy their rhythmical dance across the lawn).

Yet my usual Sunday-morning-on-the-back-porch-peaceful feeling eluded me. What was it? Read the rest of this entry

Diversity

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it burst forth from rock, high in the mountains-

its journey before unseen.

now respendent with light, with movement,

wind catching droplets,

splaying out upon the sky

in joyful play.

then down.

down the jagged crests,

tracing o’er all crevices and round mossy stones,

giving in to grand descent,

trusting powers drawing on its way.

to go, where least resistance begs,

unrelenting,

e’re to make its journey

as it may.

til when upon a jutting cliff,

a solid mass,

blockade,

its forces split.

“Which way?”

the stream,

it wonders,

droplets crash and turn in wild careen,

hesitating e’re so briefly,

then to choose.

or be chosen.

diverse paths from hence-

bifurcating,

two where once was one.

Yet on, no stopping,

naught to bring them back,

or time to pause in retrospection.

down, they travel, each its separate way.

the two,

now different,

lost to what once was.

yet

both-

still valuable with richness unsurpassed.

both-

bringing life and nourishment to all they touch.

both-

essentially the same, though drawn in diverse ways.

until at last

they reach the sea.

again

the two are one

in unity.

the world,

enfolded,

molded,

cleansed and moistened-

life

entrusted

here

so lovingly.

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-Joan T Warren

This free-style prose flowed from my mind and fingertips tonight as thoughts I’ve been pondering for months–thoughts of sadness and turmoil over our polarization as a country, which is torn between left and right political views and personalities, thoughts of the hope for unity and love rising up, embracing diversity, thoughts of value and respect for all living things, born and unborn, bound and free, rich and poor, faithful and disdainful, wild and tame–all came together in the imagery of the water cycle, in what I perceive to be a love-gift from our maker.

May we care for our planet, and may we care for each other: Republican and Democrat, Independent, Green, Black, Blue, Whatever. May we care for each other whether behind walls or by reaching out. May we care for each other whether we feel a need to set personal boundaries and draw lines or whether we feel we’ve been ostracized, abused or neglected by someone’s boundaries or lines. May we care for each other whether worried about losing rights for equality and choice or to bear arms. May we care for each other whether we trace our ancestral culture to Isaac or Ishmael, to Sitting Bull, Dalai Lama, Peter the Great or Henry the 8th. May we do so without having to face a common foe threatening our existence, forcing us to pull together to fight it. May we care for each other, period.

May we care, lovingly.

Daily Prompt: Lovingly

 

 

Weird Things We Hear Ourselves Say When Living With Little Ones

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A little collection from the past year or so:

“Don’t eat your tiara, honey.”

“It’s probably not a good idea to put a straw in the cup with the lizard.”

“Stop worrying about whether you’ll get in trouble or not, and tell me the truth: Where is your fish?”

“Your poop is huge and bright green because you’ve been eating too much candy and not enough green vegetables.”

“Yeah, I’m sure the birds are gonna love the way you put the red berries on sticks all along the driveway there.”

“Really, it’s okay. We would never ask you to go upstairs if there was an elephant up there.”

“You can’t “unpromise!” You already got your part of the deal!”

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Catch some of your words to kids and share them with us (hit comments button).

Joan T. Warren

Compassion and Collective Consciousness

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Hi friends–so many wonderful friends I’ve met here on WordPress, blogging. I ran across a sweet opportunity to join a group of 1,000 (+) bloggers who are writing about compassion. The plan is to “flood the internet” (though I doubt 1,000 blogs will constitute anything near a flood) with perspectives on compassion.

The floodgates open February 20, 2015.

It’s an idea that’s growing rapidly, with bloggers from all over the world joiniimageng in. I wish I could personally invite you all, so instead I’m mass-inviting you!

If you’re interested in participating, look for #1000Speak on Twitter and 1000 Voices for Compassion on Facebook.

Stay tuned here, too. I’ll be posting for compassion on 2/20.

 

Joan  T. Warren

In a Blink

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IMG_3751She came into this world

and they wrapped her in pink:

A present from God,

with a smile and a wink–

Read the rest of this entry

Are you akin to kindness?

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It’s not news; as far as history traces our interactions, we humans have had troubles with one another. We get ourselves tied in knots worrying about the latest news: a new terrorist group here, a gang murder there, racist violence and religious discord– just about everywhere. So-called civilized or savage, we are humans, and we have too often let our worst sides get the best of us.

I heard once that for every negative statement we give to another, that person needs at least ten positives to recover! I don’t know how much scientific research went into that number, but I do know this:

We flourish in an atmosphere of kindness.

Kindness is more than holding your breath while you give the homeless man a quarter. It is more than holding your tongue when you want to correct your coworker’s frequent mistakes. It’s even more than a side-hug and a cheek-kiss greeting when you’d rather not be there at all.

Read the rest of this entry

Has Anybody?

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“Has anybody told you today?”

“Well, just in case, I’m telling you again: I love you.”

It was his trademark; his brand, calling card. If you saw Mickey, you could count on hearing these words. You could count on a hug and a smile. If not from him directly, from many around you, as he facilitated groups and classes to “get up, tell someone you love them, hug a neck.”

He was the Cowboy Preacher. The Drunk Preacher, some called him. He’d chuckle. I doubt he’d ever had a drop of alcohol in his life.

He sought out drunks, with a purpose, to share God’s amazing love. Read the rest of this entry

Happy WordPress Anniversary (to me)!

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Something from WordPress arrived in my notifications box today!

Borrowed from a website that borrowed from . . .

Borrowed from a website that borrowed from . . .

Excited (in the style of Ralphie, opening his package from the Lil’ Orphan Annie Radio Show), my heart raced. Could it be? Freshly pressed?

The highly coveted Freshly Pressed Award, in my box?

 

imageBut, alas, it was just a little congrats for one year blogging.

 

 

Ditto. . .

Ditto. . .

 

It’s okay, though, WordPress, I do appreciate you remembering our special day. Now that I’m over the initial let-down, I think it was really nice of you. It has been a good year together.

A year ago today, you helped me publish my first blog post. Wading through the countless themes, layouts and options, we put together a pretty good start.

During the year, I learned a few things. I found that there are some excellent people all over the world who participate in WordPress blogging. A few became fast friends, as we enjoyed reading one another’s posts and commenting in supportive dialogue. I have new friends in Scotland, Canada, and across America. I’ve had visitors from nearly every country! All this without annoyance from over 14,000 spammers that Akismet blocked for me.

This is a snapshot of my all-time visits. The list of countries is three times longer than would fit!

This is a snapshot of my all-time visits. The list of countries is three times longer than would fit!

I’ve seen reader interest wane in the face of serious and lengthy posts. I’ve caught a few waves of new likes and follows from brief and light-weight posts. I’ve played with some blog-building strategies suggested by overnight-success bloggers. Oh, and I almost forgot, published 60 posts. Not bad for a full-time professional with a second full-time job (family).

In the beginning, I heard that publishers want new writers who can boast a platform of 10-15,000 followers. “You can build that in a year while you write your book,” one author told me.

It’s been a year. I’ve missed a lot of sleep! I’ve built a platform of a whopping 200-something followers. Few ever comment (come on, people, it’s lonely without conversation!).  I’ve written only about a tenth (if that) of my book. I don’t feel too successful on this one-year anniversary, dear WordPress.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming you. I’m just saying, it isn’t what I thought. Just like in marriage; there is the honeymoon stage, then comes disillusionment. To make a life-long success, couples must get through these phases to real love.

I still hope to finish my book, to live to see it published, and then maybe another after that. Not just for fun, but to make some (albeit small) difference in the world, one that will outlive me.

Whether I’ll need to build a sizable platform or not, I don’t know. What I do know is, I’m not wasting my time here (well, maybe a little!). I’m learning to write better. I’m learning about others, what they see and have to say. I’m learning plenty about what doesn’t work. And, it’s pretty fun.

So, if you want to hang out another year or so, WordPress, I’m game. Do you have an iron, though? I could really use some fresh-pressing; I’m starting to get wrinkled.

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Happy Anniversary!

Joan T. Warren

We’re All Sick of “Don’t,” So. . .

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Don’t tell me another “Don’t,” –please?

 

We’ve all heard “Don’t” enough. We’re numb.

We’re even numb to the “Don’t” messages that matter.

Don’t–I Feel Numb by U2

 

For example, almost every day we hear a commercial reminding us:

Don’t text and drive.

“It can wait,” they say.

Today I counted the number of oncoming cars whose drivers were looking down as they passed me. What would you guess? One? Two? No, in one mile, seven of ten drivers were texting instead of heeding oncoming traffic! Seven. Of ten. The mile included a school zone, a bridge and a playground entrance.

So, yes, I’d say we need those public service reminders. Let’s not be numb-skulls:

Don’t text and drive. It can wait.

Wait,

Don’t leave yet!

There is something else we technology-driven (pun intended) folk do these days with equally disastrous potential. It’s something we readily take for granted because we do it so much. It’s something we do so much because nothing bad happened the other times we did it.

Or, did it?

Little Johnny is excited to show Mommy his art project from school. He made it for her. “Just a sec, hon,” Mommy says,” as Johnny pushes his paper between her face and her phone. “Wait, I said,” as she takes it and lays it on the counter, quickly returning to her phone. Mommy doesn’t notice as John-John slumps off, shoulders curled forward, feet shuffling, lower lip pouting. “Stupid art project,” he sulks.

Betsy is thrilled to see Daddy come to her swim meet today. She’s been doing well; coach says she’s most-improved this season. Perched on the starting platform, she glances at Daddy to see his proud, encouraging look. He is looking down–his fingers steadily tapping away. Betsy misses her start. She fights down the lane, checks her time, checks her Dad. He missed it. He is still texting.

Baby Leila crawls across the floor and pulls up to stand at the coffee table. With brave anticipation, she lets go for the first time and takes a step toward Mommy.  Mommy doesn’t see. She is texting Gramma, sending pictures from this morning’s breakfast, yogurt all over Leila’s head.

We need yet one more public service ad:

Don’t text and parent.

Babies don’t wait. They grow up quickly, with or without us.

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Photos.com

©Joan T Warren

Many thanks to Jordan of Bushel and a Peck, for her post, which spurred this thought.

 

P. S. The author is also preaching to herself.

 

Related Links:

http://time.com/14953/parents-who-use-smartphones-in-front-of-their-kids-are-crankier/

 

On second thought, I think it IS alright to text while parenting IF you text your kid! Check out this hilarious link:

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/reasons-why-parents-shouldnt-be-allowed-to-text

Last Days of Sweet Sixteen

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There is a lot of talk lately about the last days. The last days of President Kennedy’s life in this 50th anniversary of his death, the last days of confidence in the USA being the strongest country in the world, the last days of planet Earth as we approach the Apocalypse, you know, that sort of thing. Somehow, I got to thinking about the last days of being sixteen. Perhaps it’s because my granddaughter, who is coming to visit this Thanksgiving, turns seventeen in January. Wow, it’s hard to believe, already, these are the last days of sixteen for her.

Remember being sixteen? I do.

My mother told me that it was very important to have a Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party, actually, a “Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed Party.” I was probably about six at the time, and this thought captivated me. I pictured myself at that Exciting Party, turning sixteen. I would be tall and thin, like Barbie. Read the rest of this entry

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

Generational Torch-Bearing

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Coming home from a precious, short visit with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter this weekend, there was plenty of time alone in the car to think. As I considered some of our conversations, ideas emerged, in Haiku form–a short poem for a short visit. I love Haiku’s minimalist framework, as it presses and refines immense meaning into a mustard-seed shell. Without further ado, my offerings:

Photo by Denesia Christine (the missing middle member in this generation of three)

Photo by Denesia Christine (the missing middle member in this generation of three)

Generations here

heart to heart our stories share–

legacies of love.

Photo By Denesia Christine

Photo By Denesia Christine

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Rooted, solid, old

autumnal trees, mountains, me~

glowing as we fade

©JoanTWarren

stick around

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fifteen

heading up the street

 

toward heavy traffic

stroller with baby inside

thinking it should end right here

for her, for me, end the suffering

what if it fails

what if only  one of us dies

what if one is paralyzed

what about the person who hits us

will i kill them too

or torture them forever

what if it’s a whole family

or two

wiping the tears

calming the thought

turning around

i go home

i went home

as much as i hated it

the despair

stuck here

in this hell hole

no one cares

but

i found a way

i am so glad i stuck it out

i hope you will too

stick around.

 

JoanTWarren

In gratitude and response to this wonderful blog event:

http://frankenasian.com/reasons2live-project/

Hope, Joy, and. . . Chores? A Blog Event!

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153530199Surfing around WordPress and the blogging communities, one occasionally stumbles upon a pearl of great price. Pearls that delight the soul, engender camaraderie and inspire creative joy! One of the beauties of blogging is sharing these pearls. In that light, this post is a Blog Event, so that we can share pearls of encouragement with one another.

So, here is your challenge: Write about a time when you needed encouragement and then stumbled upon a pearl of great price. Try to stay within the topics hope, joy and/or expressing love in the mundane (i.e., chores). Your comments should include your story (or a link to your story) and a link to the site that you feel is a pearl. The list will grow and we’ll have a read-a-fest that’s sure to encourage!

Here are a few blog posts  that lit me up this week–just click on the orange links to read them:

http://reowr.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/the-treasure/#comment-5059

http://lenarigby.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/oh-afflicted-one/comment-page-1/#comment-3

http://belasbrightideas.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/making-the-bed/

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Shape.com and belasbrightideas.wordpress.com

©JoanTWarren

Faulty Fault Lines–When Bad Things Happen to Little People

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Janie smiled through her tears and put her arms around Stella.

“How do you do it, Stella? You always seem to find a way to help me put things in perspective when I get like this. I wish I had your confidence! I wish I could stay on top of things the way you do; you never seem to let people push you around, yet you’re not a bully either.”

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Composing herself after at least thirty minutes of crying and talking, Janie now felt better. She sat back in her seat and picked up her coffee mug, her favorite mug, which she loved for its heft, its shape and its ability to channel those amazing aromas right where she needed them most. She felt now that she had some good ideas about how to tackle the problem. “Really, Stella, how DO you do it? Were you just born this way?”

Stella sipped her coffee, too. She loved it when someone took the time to ask her deeper questions. Though she’d never broadcast her life or push her opinions, she felt deeply rewarded when she was able to help another. It was as though all her troubles were worth it.

Well, Stella divulged, “I wasn’t always as I am today. One of my old trademarks was that I used to think everything was my fault–and nothing was my fault!”

I was quick to apologize for anything someone else was unhappy about, as if I were responsible for the world, but slow to see things that actually were my responsibility.

Rain on your wedding day? I’m sorry. Mad at your boss? I’m sorry. Lightning struck your Uncle Milford? I’m so sorry. You’re home from work early and hungry because you didn’t stop for lunch and I didn’t have a premonition about this and fix your dinner early? I’m sorry. Here, let me drop my work, mid-sentence, and get right on that.

Then, on the other hand, nothing that I really did was ever MY fault!

Oh, I’m late for work? Well, boss, it’s not really MY fault.  I had to make breakfast for my family, get the laundry started, stop what I was doing every time someone couldn’t find their socks, walk the dog when everyone left without doing it, stop at the store so there would be coffee in the break room, and then drive my aunt to the dry cleaner–yes, she had an emergency apparel deficiency.

Geez, why can’t my boss understand that, doesn’t she have a family? I would think.

Stella smiled as she animated these stories. They were true for her, she had lived in that realm for so many years. She looked at Janie, who smiled back, waiting for more of her story.

Well, after about two or three THOUSAND people said I shouldn’t apologize so much, I slowly started to think maybe there might be something wrong with me (Oh, and I’ve been sorry about that too, two or three thousand times).

But what could it be? I thought. What’s wrong with being nice? I’m empathetic, dedicated, loyal, helpful, sensitive, compassionate, considerate. . . What’s so bad about that?

Plenty! Well, actually, nothing, as long as that’s REALLY what you are. Peel away the nice facade, though, and what did I find? The real reason I had such a hard time recognizing what I was truly responsible for. . . the real reason I defended myself when I truly was responsible for doing something wrong. . . the real reason I tried so hard to be so nice, empathetic, dedicated, loyal, helpful, sensitive, compassionate and considerate. . . was my inner wretch!

Underneath it all, I felt completely ashamed of who I was. I was a wretch.

Wretch, according to Miriam-Webster:

a miserable person;

one who is profoundly    

unhappy or in great misfortune

 

II was miserable on the inside. I felt as though I were less than everyone around me.

Why would a young woman (yes, I was young once), with such admirable qualities feel so miserable inside? I was living out of a self-concept that was seriously flawed.

If you said I was pretty, I’d say, “Yeah, pretty ugly.”

They both chuckled.

“I know what you mean,” Janie offered. “I never in a million years would have guessed you felt that way about yourself. You’re beautiful, and you seem so confident.”

Thanks; it’s true, though. I felt ugly on the inside because I bought into some seriously wretched lies about myself when I was a girl.

Where did those lies come from?

What it boiled down to, after digging deep into the soil of my innermost thoughts and feelings, is that the lies came from trying to figure out why bad things happened to me.

READER WARNING: From here we will talk a little about those bad things. If you’re feeling brave today, click for more–

Read the rest of this entry

The Wiggly Pine

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This is a little rhyme for kids who are a bit different, whether they’re four, forty or a hundred and four. Its also for those who never had a problem growing really straight.

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The Inspiration for The Wiggly Pine: See him? He’s in the middle just a couple of trees back in line.

The wiggly pine
couldn’t stand in line
while all the others stood still.
What made Him wiggle?
What made Him jiggle?
Why was he such a pill?

Why couldn’t he see
that to be a tree
he must stand straight and tall?
Why didn’t he know
that to really grow
he must not dare to fall? Read the rest of this entry

Making Fun

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Humor. Humor has always been kind of a funny thing to me.

I like laughing, that’s for sure. I enjoy reading and hearing funny people. Then I try to be funny. That doesn’t always work so well. Maybe its that I’ve been living in the house with step-teens for the last ten years. Before that, a teen girl of my own. Somehow what I think is funny gets turned into “weird.” Read the rest of this entry