Still Possible

(Many thanks to MaryAnn McKibben Dana for her great workbook that gave me an opportunity to review 2016 and to begin to set intentions for 2017. You can get yours here.)

In any case, here is my year-end post for 2016.

REVIEW

Major Highlights

This life-long Presbyterian got to attend General Assembly for the first time. I didn’t go as a commissioner, but I did go as a volunteer and got to meet many of my on-line friends in person for the first time. I also got to renew friendships with folks I met years ago. The open atmosphere, and loving acceptance of racial, sexual, and gender differences was healing to my jaundiced heart.

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Co-Moderators of the General Assembly Jan Edmiston and Denise Anderson

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Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Also, this fall I was elected Vice-Moderator of Olympia Presbytery and installed in the November meeting to take office January 1, 2017

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Major Lowlights

There were two deaths in my generation in my family and two deaths of women who were good friends of mine here at Franke Tobey Jones. There are big holes in my heart and in my life with these folks gone.

The outcome of the election was also a major lowlight. However, from that came a resolve for me to be kinder, and to resist all forms of persecution. I finally decided that I was tired of being “tolerant” of those people who spew hate. I am resolved to call out bigotry wherever I find it. That’s what my safety-pin says to the world.

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Physical Health

I kept off part of the weight I lost in 2014. Two trips in the spring, and three trips in the fall found 15 additional pounds on me (I have no control over what is served to me on Amtrak and I have no willpower when everybody else is having desert). It’s also almost impossible to exercise when you’re traveling. I’m still able to completely control my diabetes with exercise and diet, and I no longer have to take statins for high cholesterol. I try to exercise regularly by walking, and sessions on the NuStep (although I need to put strength workouts back into my routine). Tai Chi has fallen by the wayside.

Mental Health

My faith in God remains strong, and I’m in a very supportive, loving, affirming church environment. I can’t begin to say how much those people mean to me.

I attend Bible Study at the church almost every week, and it has deepened my understanding and faith.

The affirmation of being elected to the office of Vice-Moderator of Presbytery was a major boost to my ego and mental health.

Social

I have burrowed further into the community where I live. I walk weekly with a group from the church (and then we drink coffee afterwards), so friendships are deepening there. We also have an informal group from Franke Tobey Jones who meet for Happy Hour once a week. During the warm weather we met at the Gazebo next to our house, but when it’s too cold to sit outside comfortably in the evenings, we meet in my living room.

Sadly, we lost more of our friends here this year. Two of my best friends (part of the Gazebo Group) died suddenly, but not unexpectedly. We have been able to welcome a couple of newcomers into our circle. It’s all part of the rhythm of life – folks leave and new people arrive.

My cousin, who is just a year older than I am, lost her husband suddenly this spring, and my brother-in-law died suddenly right before Thanksgiving. When death comes to my generation, it reminds me once again of the impermanence of life.

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The good thing about funerals is that the family gets together. Here are all three of my siblings. We haven’t all been together since my son’s wedding in 2013.

Gardening

I had a vegetable garden again this year,

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and I grew green beans, tomatoes, squash, and peppers. I also had an artichoke plant that made up for lost time this year. I got 25 artichokes of off the one plant. I had such a bumper crop of squash and tomatoes that I was able to donate over 100 lbs of food to the food bank. Al and I ate all the tomatoes, squash, and green beans we wanted.

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Political Commentary

I have not been able to write anything about my reaction to the election. I was struck dumb for almost a month over the fact that hatred, misogyny, racism, jingoism, sexism, paternalism and hetero-normity won out. I have decided I will do what I can to resist this scourge of evil. I remind myself that rarely is a society changed from the top down, rather big change comes slowly and through small people doing kind things. Eventually, the selfishness will founder in the face of goodness. I’m checking my news sources and trying, in my small part, to keep to the truth, and to believe that goodness will prevail.

RELEASE

I’m bidding a farewell to 2016. It was a rough year in some respects. Unfortunately many of the good things were overshadowed by death, and loss. The major thing I’m taking with me into 2017 is a new confidence in myself and a new resolve to not let hatred win.

Happy New Year to all of you, gentle readers. Tomorrow I’ll bring you my “intentions”!

 

At the Gate of the Year

(Many thanks to MaryAnn McKibben Dana for her great workbook that gave me an opportunity to review 2015 and to begin to set intentions for 2016. You can get yours here.)

Everybody seems to be getting into the act of encouraging you to review, release, and resolve. Even The Container Store added their two cents worth.*

Pastor Sarah handed out Star Words in church on Sunday. I got “Listening” and I’m still not sure what to do with it. It found me, so I guess I need to pay attention to it.

In any case, here is my year-end/new year post for 2015/2016.

REVIEW

Major Highlights

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Our family came to see us and help celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary. It was wonderful to get to know Ray’s wife and her kid better, and to reconnect with Bill, his wife, and the grandkids.

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We had a wonderful trip across Canada on Via Rail,

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Then cruised from Quebec to New York City on board the Queen Mary II,

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And rode Amtrak back home through the central Rockies in the snow (in October!).

Physical Health

I (for the most part) kept off the weight I lost in 2014. I didn’t pay any attention to my diet while we were travelling and while the kids were here, so I guess I can count it as a win that I am entering 2016 about the same weight as I entered 2015. I’m still able to completely control my diabetes with exercise and diet, and I no longer have to take statins for high cholesterol, so that’s a big win for the year. I am exercising regularly by walking, and sessions on the NuStep (although I need to put strength workouts back into my routine). I have also kept up with Tai Chi a couple of times a week.

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A group of us from FTJ walked along the sound at Owen Beach every week on a Friday. It made a nice outing for many of those who wouldn’t otherwise get away from our hilltop.

Mental Health

My faith in God remains strong, and I’m in a very supportive, loving, affirming church environment. I can’t begin to say how much those people mean to me.

I have had a mindfulness practice (I call it Centering Prayer) for quite a while, and this fall I was introduced to Headspace. It is a guided meditation that is helping me be more accepting, generous, loving, and calm. I can highly recommend it.

Social

I have burrowed further into the community where I live. I walk weekly with a group from the church (and then we drink coffee afterwards), so friendships are deepening there. We also have an informal group from Franke Tobey Jones who meet for Happy Hour once a week. During the summer we met at the Gazebo next to our house, but since it got too cold to sit outside comfortably in the evenings, they are coming to my living room.

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Big Al and I gave each other a fire pit for Christmas, and have installed it in the Gazebo. We are trying to get the powers that be here at FTJ to enclose the Gazebo with removable Plexiglas panels or something so it is usable year round.

Sadly, several of our friends here passed away this fall. Other people moved on in the community, leaving their duplexes for an easier life in one of the apartments. One of our particular friends also became so disoriented her husband had to relocate her to the memory care unit. All of this is only to be expected in a retirement community, but that doesn’t mean the holes in our hearts are any smaller.

Gardening

I had a vegetable garden this year,

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and I grew green beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and peppers. I tried to grow black-eyed peas, but didn’t have any luck there. I also had two artichoke plants that didn’t get around to bearing artichokes until late in the fall. I hope they will be a little earlier this year, as several never matured because the weather got too cold and wet. I had such a bumper crop that I was able to donate over 100 lbs of food to the food bank. Al and I ate all the tomatoes, squash, and green beans we wanted.

Political Commentary

The horrible evidence of continued racism weighed on my heart this year. I took an on-line discussion class for 6 weeks this summer called Hard Conversations: Racism. It was convicting, and difficult. Another woman from Bethany and I also facilitated an in-person group from the church who read really current blogs about racism, and then discussed them. We also read and discussed “Between the World and Me” by Ta’Nehisi Coates. The problem is really big, and I often despair of finding a solution, particularly with Trump spewing his awful rhetoric nightly on the news.

I rejoice in the legal acceptance of those in the LGBTQ community. Both in the PC(USA) and in the country, they are finally being given the same rights to happiness (and difficulties) in marriage as any one else. I fear for some of the rights and freedoms we have all been given if the election in 2016 goes the wrong way.

RELEASE

I’m bidding a fond farewell to 2015. It was a wonderful year for the most part. I had the joy of anticipation of travel and hosting our family. I saw new things, got to know the people in our lives better, lost some friends to death or illness, and grew in appreciation of this wonderful area of the country between the mountains and the sea. I grew in confidence in leadership in church, increased my exercise, and enjoyed myself immensely.

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RESOLVE (or better yet – INTENTIONS)

  1. Finish losing the weight I need to by eating right (lo-cal, lo-carb, wine only on special occasions) and strength training 3 days a week.
  2. Walk regularly, either alone or with a group, at least 4 days a week for at least 5 miles.
  3. Grow enough vegetables to enjoy and to help supply the food bank.
  4. Travel to see Bill and his family (for Ian’s graduation from High School), but don’t focus solely on that. Take several short trips as well.
    1. To Pacific Beach
    2. To Portland
    3. To Spokane to look for genealogical information
    4. To the San Juan Islands (because we’ve wanted to return and keep saying “We can do that anytime”, but we never do.)
    5. To Victoria, BC
  5. Keep up with Headspace and Tai Chi.

Happy New Year to all of you, gentle readers. I’m will try to keep up better with this blog, because I love all of you!

*NOTE: NOT a paid advertisement, although I do like a lot of the products from The Container Store.

Expecting the Word – Advent Three – Friday

My Advent series this year will follow the Words Matter Advent study from the National Council of Churches. Download the whole booklet if you’d like, and follow along with the writings for each day. I’d love to discuss them with you. Also, here is a link to the Advent readings from the Inclusive Bible. I prefer the more inclusive language here, than the NRSV texts used in the study booklet (be sure to read the note on page 6).

John 1:6-8, 19-28

Oh, my! Apparently, I have arrived. I’ve been called out by the uber-conservative Voices of Orthodox Women, apparently for associating with Margaret Aymer, Katie Mulligan, and Sonnie Swenston-Forbes in the formation of Presbyterian Women Interest Group on Facebook and for writing an article about it in Horizons. I feel a little like John the Baptist in the scripture today – I’m not worthy to untie these women’s sandals.

These women are loving, forward-looking, Christians who have been, and are, actively working toward full equality both inside and outside the church for our LGBT sisters and brothers.

I have a firm rule, not to feed the trolls in Social Media, so I won’t respond in any way to Viola’s comments, but she did provide many of us with several hours of hilarity when she suggested that I was personally a danger to Orthodoxy! Of particular interest was the suggestion that this was all hatched up as a plot in secrecy. It led to a suggestion that we all learn how to knit super-secret underwear at the next UNCO gathering.

My grandchildren might be interested to learn that I am a closet lesbian, intent on marrying a new wife as soon as I can get rid of their grandfather.

(I am deliberately not linking to their article because I would hate to be the source of driving up their hit count and making them think they were more important than they really are.)