Monday, May 29, 2006

Wanting What I Don't Have

It's amazing to me how I always want the one thing that I don't have.

Right now my church is in the middle of a media fast in preparation for the Global Day of Prayer. 10 days of keeping the television off, avoiding the movies, staying away from video games, etc. Ideally unnecessary internet too, but that lasted all of a couple of hours.

So, what happens? All I want to do is watch television and movies. Is it because the television has such amazing content this week? Ummm... no. Sweeps are over. There's nothing on. Because there are great movies at the theater? Ummm... I wouldn't normally go to see X-Men, why would I go now? Today I was even tempted to open up a video game on my computer. Why? Because I couldn't.

All proving to me just how messed up my head is and how addicted I am to this stuff that shouldn't be so important to me. Why do I feel lost without 2 hours of television at the end of the night to help me wind down? Why is a long weekend empty without a stack of videos?

On the up side, I'm much more productive. No, my house is no cleaner. That would take more than a fast, I'm afraid.

I have discovered a new musical group though. It's Watermark. I just got their new CD and it's awesome. Highly recommended.

What a sad life I lead that I'm now on a countdown to when I can watch bad sitcom re-runs that I don't want to watch anyway....

Friday, May 26, 2006

Doctor My Eyes

I got new glasses this week. Now, I know what you're thinking. "Is her life so dull that a new pair of glasses warrants a blog?" Yes and no.

See, last week a got what I thought would be a routine eye examination. Except for the part where they discovered I've been mis-prescribed for 15 years. Oh, and the part about my eyes not working together, so I'm only ever seeing out of one eye.

While I applaud the industriousness of my eyes in delegating tasks to free up some time and energy (what do eyes do in their free time anyway??), it would probably help to see out of both eyes.

Today I put on my glasses for real. Had a little fun with myself trying to clap my hands. When I closed my eyes I could do it, but when I opened my eyes I couldn't do it. My brain didn't trust what my eyes were seeing because it was so different. Today's been like relearning things all over again. I'm doing pretty well. At this point the only things that really freak me out are things that move really fast, because I'm still not totally sure how fast they're going. To answer the obvious question - no, I'm not driving yet. Though I hold that I'd still be a better driver than all the cell phone addicts out there. Especially the ones who do their nails, talk on the phone, eat dinner and drive all at the same time.

It's an odd feeling to realize that how you've been seeing the world isn't right. It's also weird to rediscover that trees have leaves.

This isn't quite the adventure I was planning on the Memorial Day weekend, but it's certainly memorable. Stay tuned for what happens when I try to pick up the camera again and photograph with my "new eyes".

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bright and Shiny

If you ever need motivation to turn off your tv for a while, I strongly suggest watching the American Idol finale. A fabulous exhibit of the excess of modern culture. And cheese. Lots of cheese.

Last night I tuned in for the first hour. Now, I'm not saying there weren't some good moments. Chris singing with Live was fabulous. Elliot singing with Mary J. Blige (step away from the Bono!) actually made me stop screaming "ACK, ACK, ACK". Clay Aiken's appearance was good (what's with the hair??). I hear Prince was good too, but by that time I had turned it off. Are singers that desperate for publicity?? Cue BarlowGirl's "Five Minutes of Fame".

What really got me was their time filler segment of awards. What were those awards called, you ask?? Golden Idols. Yes, they are doing extra homework to make sure they more perfectly showcase just what's wrong with the world. And then people seemed excited to win them.

So, thanks American Idol. You just made turning off my tv a whole lot easier!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Green

Not actually an ode to my beloved Kermit, but a response to a question from my friend Denzel. What can I do with vegetables? Seems like a nice break from superficial quizzes and deep thoughts. And it's a question I've gotten from a couple of guys lately, so here we go.

Denzel's particular question was what he could do other than frying or boiling the veggies. In this question Denzel shows that he's not from the South. Someone from the South would never ask what they could do besides frying.

A couple of basic thoughts:

Steaming - Take a pot, put an empty tuna can in the bottom, then take a disposable aluminum pie plate, poke a bunch of holes in it and set it on top of the tuna can. Put water in the bottom of the pot (don't fill over the tuna can) and get it boiling. Put the veggies in the pie plate, put a cover on the pot and let it do it's thing. This is a little boring. If you want to spice it up, you can add things to the water to lightly flavor the veggies. For example - garlic.

Roasting - Turn up the oven to a fairly high heat (say 425). Take your veggies and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Toss them in a little olive oil. You can also add some lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flake or other flavoring agents. Put them in the oven. Keep an eye on them. This doesn't take a lot of time. I love asparagus and potatoes done this way.

- Okay, it's not actually a technique, but it is a non-frying/boiling way to handle veggies. Put some veggies in a pot, when they are partially cooked put in a liquid (chicken broth for more flavor, water for less) and some spices). Let it cook a little longer. When the veggies are cooked through, dump the whole thing in a blender and voila - soup.

Stir frying - Yes, it does have the word frying it in, but it's not the same thing. Put a little high heat oil (peanut, canola or soy) in a wok and crank the heat. Drop in a drop of water. If it jumps out again, it's hot enough. Dump in the veggies (starting with what takes the longest to cook) and keep stirring. This method will sear the veggies, producing a nice brown and caramelized exterior, while keeping crispness inside. You can pour in a sauce at the end if you'd like to.

Au gratin - It's French for putting things in butter and cheese and cooking them. May negate all the positive qualities of your veggies.

Raw - Again, not exactly a cooking method, but it's a nice change of pace. Just cut up the vegetables and eat them. This doesn't work particularly well with things like eggplant, but I find most veggies better raw. Or, you can dump them in a juicer. If you happen to be storkbryght.

Barbeque - Since these questions seem to mostly come from guys, it seems only fair to give an option that involves fire. You can get barbeque woks all over the place now. Same idea as the stir fry instructions. You can also stick some veggies in a tin foil pouch with some butter.

Important things to remember....
- Salt your veggies. It brings out their flavor.
- Add other complimentary flavors. Garlic, citrus, herbs, spices, etc.
- Experiment. It may not be good, but it won't be dull.
- Watch what you like in restaurants.

My favorite site for recipes is It's got a great recipe finder at the top and things are rated for difficulty and yumminess.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Messy Humans

Getting close to people is a messy thing. I've been thinking and learning a lot about community lately - how our modern culture of going it alone and every man for himself is so against everything in the Bible. When I've thought about the messiness of people it has usually been in seeing more an more of people's true selves as we get closer. More learning that being together when everyone's tired is going to mean some grumpiness and that everyone isn't always picture perfect.

But this week my thoughts about messy humans has been about myself. I've always been a very 'on stage/back stage' type of person. There are areas of my house that are off limits to anyone else (which often results in them being very messy because I know no one will see them - sigh) and my public persona at my job is very different from who I am in real life. Part of this is that I'm an introvert and wouldn't be able to function in such an extroverted job. Part of it is (honestly) that I've been hurt very often by people who I thought were my friends, and now it takes a lot for me to trust people. So, I'm happy, bouncy, bubbly. Except, really I'm not. There are very few people in the world that I can really decompress with. (Part of this also has to do with control and controlling people's impressions, which is another blog for another day.)

This week I had a horrible week. I wrapped up a major project on Monday that had been chewing through my time and energy. Well worth it, but I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted by the end. On Wednesday we were finishing up a proposal I've been working on for 4 months. There had been lots of obstacles and I had worked exceedingly hard to get it on track and keep it there. Plus, I had been having trouble sleeping, so I was too tired to be at work.

So, Wednesday afternoon I'm in the middle of last minute high drama on the proposal and I got an email from a friend that upset me. It was from someone I'm close to and in the midst of all the other drama going on (which the person didn't know about) I got a little sideswiped by the email. I lost it. Then my boss wrote an email saying the proposal was off and wasn't being submitted. So, I did what any successful professional woman would do. I closed my office door and I cried.

Then the proposal went in and I left the office early. I pulled myself together, picked up a couple of groceries and I went home. By the time I got home there was a message from the friend who sent the email.

I pulled myself together before I called them back, but as soon as we started to talk I lost it again. We talked for a short time and cleared things up.

I went to bed at 7 and woke up at 7 the next morning. I felt like a new woman. The proposal was in, the conflict with my friend never existed, and I didn't feel exhausted.

Then the panic hit me. I had sobbed on the phone with my friend the night before. No pretense of being pulled together. Totally falling apart. What would they think of me? Maybe I should just pack my stuff up and move before word got out that I'm a complete flake/freak/basket case? How was I going to face my friend knowing that they knew this about me? My secret was out - when I get exceedingly tired I cry. And I often get irrational. Most of the time when I'm in that state I completely avoid any human contact, because I don't want anyone to see me like that. In fact, truth be told, that's one of the reasons I don't have roommates. I don't reach out for help, because I don't want anyone to see me like that. I'd rather deal with things alone that have people see me as a basket case.

Eventually the panic faded and I saw my friend on Thursday evening. There was no headline in the local paper about my breakdown. None of my other friends had found out. In fact, my friend didn't treat me any more like a freak than usual. :)

All this is to say that I need to learn the humility of being a messy person. If I really do want to live in close community, I can't just withdraw from it when I'm not at my best. I can't just assume that others will reject me if they see what I'm really like.

Reading the book of Acts it can often feel like a bit of a white wash. There's no discussion of the day to day existence of this amazing community. How did they deal with one another? How did they learn to trust? I guess some of this we have to figure out on our own. How to be messy and yet trust each other enough to live closely together.

Feeling Green

Today, evidently I'm Kermit. Probably a little more accurate...

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

More summer fun.....

Oh come on, there are only a few things that can follow a post about shoes...

You Are Miss Piggy

A total princess and diva, you're totally in charge - even if people don't know it.
You want to be loved, adored, and worshiped. And you won't settle for anything less.
You're going to be a total star, and you won't let any of the "little people" get in your way.
Just remember, piggy, never eat more than you can lift!

Emergency Shoes

I was planning for my next blog entry to be of the more serious type, however something urgent has come up.

Yes, emergency shoes.

What are emergency shoes, you ask? Well, clearly only men would ask that, because women have all had to deal with this issue at one point or another.

So, this morning I'm grabbing something in my closet and I notice a beautiful pair of Rockport sandals in the closet. I think "Nice sandals, why don't I ever wear them?" (note the foreshadowing). So, I wear the sandals to work. And to a meeting several blocks away. By the time I get back to my office I have a row of three blisters on my foot. Yikes.

At lunch I realize this requires immediate action (the blisters are very painful). So, I hobble to the mall. First stop? Target. To get the nifty band aid blister things. I discovered them last summer in NYC. Fantastic. Then, I'm off in search of emergency shoes.

One thing you need to know about me. I was blessed with my father's feet. Sigh. Not something any woman really wants, but definitely not what I want, since my Dad has messed up feet. Makes it hard to find shoes.

So, I find a pair of bronze flip flops. They feel fine, my feet go in them, and they're on sale. Oh, and they're cute. Fantastic. So, I buy them.

What I forgot is that I have another meeting several blocks away in a few minutes. While these sandals are cute, they aren't exactly "walk to a meeting" sandals. And seriously, no sandals look cute when your feet are covered in band aids.

I now remember why I don't wear those sandals. I also remember why I wore one pair of Merrell flip flops all last summer. There does not exist in this world a pair of sandals that are actually comfortable to walk in.

Welcome to my sad little world!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Vaguely Amusing

You Are Boston

Both modern and old school, you never forget your roots.
Well educated and a little snobby, you demand the best.
And quite frankly, you think you are the best.

Famous people from the Boston area: Conan O'Brien, Ben Affleck, New Kids on the Block

Ha ha ha ha ha.... I guess it could be worse.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I Don't Speak Oprah

This afternoon while doing a web search I noticed a headline screaming at me and couldn’t help but click the link.

“The Divine Ms. Winfrey”

Now, those of you who know me know that Oprah is far from my favorite person. I often lament her broad influence over our culture as well as the way her politically correct language has woven itself into our everyday vocabulary. In fact, I’ve been known to respond to such “new age-y” talk with the simple phrase “I don’t speak Oprah”. Scratch that, I usually respond “I DON’T SPEAK OPRAH!!

I know, I know… she’s done so much to put the spotlight on African Americans, poverty in Africa, New Orleans, blah blah blah… She single handedly revived the book industry in America. I get it – she has power and she’s not afraid to use it. Occasionally that will fall on good causes or good ideas.

A couple of weeks ago I was on the Radiant website (sister magazine to Relevant, which I like much better) and there was a feature article by the author of The Church of Oprah. “Oh,” I thought, “A scathing analysis on how Oprah is the figurehead for so much of what is wrong in America.” Um, wrong. In fact, it seemed to celebrate her do-good philosophy and willingness to throw money at good causes. This, Radiant, is why I won’t subscribe to your magazine.

So, this brings me to today’s article. I read it in stunned silence. I know, I know… I shouldn’t be shocked. I shouldn’t be surprised. But Oprah’s vapid inspiration (I don’t think I can even call it spirituality) as religion? A spiritual leader for the new millennium? Are people that blind to the truth that they are willing to exchange it for a lie? Wait, I think I read that somewhere. And not in an Oprah book of the month.

"She's a really hip and materialistic Mother Teresa," says Kathryn Lofton, a professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore.

Ummm… Am I the only one who sees the problem here? Again, I’m thinking rich men and the eye of a needle. Taking up your cross. Need I go on? Mother Teresa wouldn’t have been Mother Teresa if she had gone home to her villa every night.

"She's a moral monitor, using herself as the template against which she measures the decency of a nation," Lofton says.

Wow – that’s pretty scary! Oprah as the ruler and judge of morality over all of us?

Winfrey has become proof that you can't be too rich, too thin or too committed to rising to your place in the world.

I had better stop quoting or I’ll scream.

One of my favorite quotes (from one of my favorite bands) from Casting Crowns is:

“What if the family turned to Jesus and stopped asking Oprah what to do?”

At one point (many years ago) I saw Oprah as a harmless distraction for housewives stuck at home and yearning for something better than soap operas on the television in the afternoon. That’s just the problem though, she isn’t better than soap operas. Because she generally so inoffensive (until articles like this), we just accept it and don’t take much notice as language changes and she slowly tells us what to read, what to care about and what morality is. Slowly God is gone and good deeds and personal morality comes in. Except, that I hear that God is actually BIGGER than Oprah.

Storkbryght sent me a great verse this afternoon:

II Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

I love the line “what their itching ears want to hear”. Yes, you can be rich and still be a really good person. Yes, it’s all about finding your personal moral space where you feel comfortable. Except, you know, not!

I don’t think it’s a good idea to put anyone on a pedestal, but the thought of Oprah and Billy Graham lumped together as great spiritual leaders makes me want to vomit.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Happy Birthday to You....

Nearly missed Bono's birthday!

In celebration of the day a picture ~

And a quote ~

"Religion can be the enemy of God. It's often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship."

Bono in conversation with Michka Assayas

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Third Time's the Charm???

I was looking back over old blog entries over the weekend and realized I had forgotten to report the latest in my series of life dramas.

Yes, the rumors are true. My second iPod, Daria, died in March. Once again, a screen of death, sad cries from me, bad news from the Apple help desk and an iPod coffin arriving in the mail. Sigh. Within a week I had a shiny new iPod. This one was christened Cordelia. Bonus points if you know what the name is a reference to. And yes, I know Daria was a better name, but Daria died and we all have to move on.

So, this raises a question. How can such a fantastic piece of modern engineering be such a lemon for me? How do other people get an iPod that lasts for years and I get iPods that last 3-6 months? It's not like I do anything different.

One possibility raised was that it is my use of the iMonster car play cables that kills iPods. Evidently this was a pattern with someone else. So, I pulled up Amazon and ordered the iTrip.

This may be one of the worst feats of engineering. The thing won't stay in place. The reception is always staticky. Every time I hit a pothole the thing disconnects (it's spring in New England, what do you mean "Just don't hit the potholes"??).

Since the primary place I listen to the iPod is in the car, this presents a quandry. Do I risk iPod #3 (aka Cordelia) by using the iMonster cables? Or, do I use the iTrip, risk my blood pressure and never really hear anything? What a fabulous set of options!

What do other people do? Help help!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Training Partners

Over the last months I’ve been thinking about the concept of training versus trying. Last fall I attended a Renovare conference that raised the issue. I hadn’t thought about it for a while, though I did do a small group study on it several years ago. Moving beyond the obvious – you don’t show up at the start of the Boston Marathon having never run and just “try harder” than the rest of the runners. Those kind of goals require discipline, a building up toward goals, and reordering of priorities. In terms of spiritual training, the obvious application is to the spiritual disciplines, setting spiritual goals and examining every aspect of your life to set things in the direction of those goals.

This morning I was thinking about a new aspect. It comes from the intersection of these thoughts and recent discussions on community. Training partners. Many years ago I had the chance to work closely with professional training athletes and something I learned was the importance of having real training partners. You could choose to train with people that are obviously not much competition, but when you get to a real competition you’re not very well prepared. By surrounding yourself with people who can push you on toward your goals and you can learn from you create a good environment for training. In addition, if you can build accountability into this group you’re giving yourself another advantage. The athletes I worked with trained together all day. They ate together, worked out together and often hung out together. They knew what the others were eating, they provided someone around who understood what their life was like and who could give them that little push (or hug) on a down day.

I think this has important implications on spiritual training. It’s one thing to download and listen to good teaching, read scripture and pray on your own, but totally isolating yourself (or purposely avoiding close relationships that could push or challenge you) is setting yourself up for failure. I have great faith that if I’m ever in a situation where I have no access to a church or a spiritual community God will give me the strength and faith I need to survive, but that’s a pretty extreme (and unusual) circumstance. We are meant to do life in community. God created us to need training partners. People who know you well enough to know your weaknesses and who love you enough to keep pushing when you want to give up.

Don’t mean to be simplistic about this. I know being that close to other people is a messy business. It’s easier to keep nice walls around you and only exist in a social community, but that would be a huge loss. This isn’t about just showing up and trying – it’s about training. A deliberate choice to be vulnerable because the risk is more than worth the reward. What if you and a friend were both training for a marathon and you just met for coffee once a week and never discussed running? Doesn’t make much sense. Why not run together and share the journey.

More later on this thought later...

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Yesterday I was reading a fantastic interview with Dallas Willard at Relevant online and something in it sparked a thought. While I realize he's addressing much deeper issues, his discussion of distraction and "dropped out-ness" made me think about what's been bothering me about my life over the past two months.

In discussing this, I'm not meaning to trivialize Willard's thoughts. I'll go back and read it again when I'm not distracted and dropped out.

Starting in March I had 5 weeks of a fibromyalgia flare up. Intense fatigue, pain, inability to function in normal life, etc. This was immediately followed by 3 1/2 weeks of a cold (and still going), which has had various stages, but has maintained an inability to concentrate, fatigue and a horrible cough throughout. (Yes Mom, I am going to the doctor this afternoon)

I've been really upset about missing these 8 weeks of my life. I've dropped the ball in so many ways (keeping up with friends, bills, work, church activities) and have just not felt on top of my game. Reading Willard's thoughts made me realize my real frustration is that I have been disengaged from my life.

Take breathing for example. For the last week breathing isn't something I just do. It's something I have to think about. So, I can be talking to a friend, but there's always some part of my mind that is keeping track of how hard it is to breathe, when was the last time I took my asthma medication, etc.

I've had brief moments of focus during the last 8 weeks. Mostly during times of prayer (both corporate and personal), but they seem to disappear so fast. During those times I know what I need to do and am energized. But within hours that dissipates as my cold gets worse or fatigue sets in. It's very frustrating to be watching your own life from the outside in. I know everything happens for a purpose, but it's hard to see the purpose behind doing nothing and feeling "dropped out" of your personal, professional and spiritual life.

I want to live fully engaged and with joy, but I feel like I'm tied up by my physical health.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Spellling Bloos

Perhaps I'm losing my mind. Perhaps I'm just getting old. Perhaps I'm too dependent on spellcheck. As of late I seem to have completely lost my ability to spell. Things look right to me, and just so aren't. Luckily, this doesn't seem to have spilled over to my work, but it's still darn annoying.

How do these things happen anyway? Is this God teaching me a lesson for laughing at Buzzie's spelling? (Don't answer that buzzie) Has all the coughing over the last 3 weeks killed that many brain cells? How do you forget how to spell?

So, here I am singing the spelling blues.