Something’s Gotta Give

I’ve always had a natural inclination to look for (and find) the pattern in things….the webby gossamer strings that connect one thing, one person, one event to another to produce a certain outcome.

So it’s no surprise that I’m here writing on the blog again after 9 months in absentia.  Why? Well, I’ll have to go back a bit.

Over two years ago and after nearly 9 years (oh, gawd), I dumped my Facebook account. For real.  I say that because, like any addict worth their weight in denial, I had taken “breaks” and “vacations” and “time outs” from the platform only to jump right back into the energetic cesspool within a short period of time.  I did this over and over and over again. I uninstalled/re-installed the app on my device of choice more times than I can count, and each time I went back, I felt weaker. More powerless.

Hooked.

But in December of 2016, after a long and increasingly painful journey, I shut ‘er down for good and never went back. Praise Jesus! And I did this in order to draw up positive, real-time life boundaries I hoped would greatly impact my well-being and relationships.

The positive effects could fill an entire blog post.  But it didn’t stop there.

Last year I ditched my Twitter account after a shorter, albeit equally dysfunctional time. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the cultural changes that the US has undergone in the last 3 years, particularly as they relate to social media and the “mob mentality”, will understand what I mean. I kept engaging in The Crazy, and I didn’t want to. I didn’t like it. It’s not who I AM.

Again, the positive effects were felt almost immediately. But I’m still not through.

This year, as new as it is, brought with it yet another tie I felt compelled to unbind.  I un-installed the Instagram app from my phone and now only check it infrequently from my PC – and only because I have kids in another state and they post there. It supplements the texts and phone calls that feel too few and far between for this Mama.

The overall impact of De-SMing my life over the last 2+ years has been incredible and, I believe, long reaching.  Gone is the neurotic twitch to check my phone every few minutes. (A habit I now find annoying when others to it – sort of like the self-righteousness exhibited in some ex-smokers or new vegans. I’m trying hard not to be that way).

I’ve also said goodbye to the impulse to make every important (or, dare I say, vaguely routine) moment of life documented, photographed, tweeted, or uploaded.  I no longer feel drawn into leaving passive-aggressive comments.  You know the type….those “helpful” little critiques or suggestions, the “friendly” countering of another’s ideas or opinions, the pretend prescience making me think I could possibly know the full intention of a poster’s thoughts from a minimally worded status update that may or may not hold grammatical or spelling errors.

I’m no longer on the receiving end of these things, either.

In the free space I’ve created by wiggling out of the Web, I am very rooted in real time, real life. I’ve also rediscovered a couple of my favorite pass times:  Reading (these days to the tune of 2-4 books a week) and writing.  

The two go hand-in-hand, you know.  At least, for me this is true.  Hindsight has shown that feeling inspired to write is directly proportional to the time I spend reading.  Not just skimming an article here or there, but a fully submerged, time-warping dive into a good story.  The kind of story where you see the characters come to life in your mind’s eye, moving through their sorrows, joys and adventures with them, and are left feeling slightly (ok, greatly) annoyed when the demands of life intrude. Time to get on with your chores, go to an appointment, or take a shower.

And so, I’m writing. After playing around on a cookbook for some time in a “scrapbook” format, for the last two months I’ve been putting recipes and photos together in a systematic way in a program that allows for printing.  I’m super excited about it and figure I’m about two-thirds done with the initial input, with nearly 50 recipes in a half dozen categories.  Who knew that my long held habit of photographing the food I made would one day payoff?  Turns out that I already had nice photos for most of my “important” recipes, the cover art, and all but 2 of the dividers.  My goal is to have it finished and printed in time to give copies to a select few family and friends by years’ end.  Christmas presents, perhaps. And I think my family is enjoying this journey as well, as I’ve been cooking up things I want to add to the book, just so I can take photos of the ones I still need.

Writing this cookbook, which includes snippets of personal and familial history and antidotes, has given me a sense that I will leave my kids and grand kids a “legacy” of sorts, linking one generation to another.   My hope is that, along with actually USING the thing, they will find it to be a source for feelings of connection to their ancestors and finding the warm soul-fuzzies – the GIFT – to be found in feeding people good food.

Of course, it’s equally possible that,  over time, my book will get shoved to the back of a closet or boxed up for storage, eventually finding its way to the trash or donated to the local thrift shop.  My ego demands that I hope not, although in the later case at least there would be the chance someone like me, someone who collects vintage and unusual cookbooks, would snap it up.

Maybe.

But for now, I don’t care what happens TO the book. The main thing is that I’m putting it together.  Finally.

And I’m writing again.

I Am Not Afraid

Stumbled across this song by Red Rock Worship this morning while I was listening to some teaching on YouTube.

What first caught my eye was their name, and I wondered if they’re from the red rocks of Las Vegas or  Sedona, Zion or Bryce.  Could they be from the King’s Canyon area, or other parts of the Sierra Nevada where we’ve explored and camped?

I still don’t know because the 2nd reason I decided to listen  immediately sucked me in, and I ended up in worship, tears streaming down my face,  in my kitchen at 6 a.m.

This happens a lot to me lately.  Jesus has been showing up.

ANYWAY, the guy singing this looks so much like my son, Adam, it’s amazing.  And I like to think that in a parallel universe, this IS Adam, who’s a musician and singer himself.  Serendipitously,  we’ll be seeing he and my daughter-in-law later today as they’re down from Seattle.  So it was extra sweet.

But I immediately forgot all that when I put my headphones in, cranked up the volume, and pressed the Arrow.  The first several bars in, and I loved it.  It reminds me of some of the melodies from the 50s and 60s, the decades of my childhood.

And the lyrics! This is literally what I’ve been saying for the last three years in particular, and the last several decades overall:  That I may have to walk through the Fire, but I’ll come out of it not even smelling of smoke, for the Lord is with me.  I shall not be afraid (….saying this even when I have been most afraid….)

God never promised life on earth would be easy.  In fact, we’ll be presented with all kinds of trials and experiences as we journey along.  They come along for all sorts of reasons, but for one purpose:    to demonstrate the power of God to heal, to deliver, and to save.

If you’re going through the fire, please listen.  You are not alone.

I’m Moving

Almost exactly 3 years ago to the day, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

At the time, it seemed this news – and the 18 month healing journey I would have to undergo – was the end of the world.  And, in many ways, it was.   I was physically, emotionally, and spiritual stripped to the bone and then some.  The pieces of my life fell dead to the ground, bit by bit,  along with my hair.  I lost so much… my career, friends, a sense of self…All swept away.

And during the blackest hours, I lost hope that I would survive.  All I had to hold onto, literally, was the promise of better days – a better LIFE – as I kept my eyes on Jesus.

Fast forward to today.   I am a happy, healthy Stay-At-Home Grandma, carpooling my grandson back and forth to school, drum lessons, karate, and Brain Balance.  I take long morning walks in the park that make my soul sing, and spend as much time in the garden as my fingernails can handle.  My husband and I, our marriage renewed as well, are members of a loving and supportive church family where we are making new friends and are in community with people who believe like we do.

This past December I was accepted into the Master Food Preservers Program, offered through UC Davis Extension, and classes started last week.  I am back in school learning and practicing another of my interests – home canning and food preservation – while having the opportunity to make  even more new friends.  I also get to volunteer at local farms, farmers markets, the OC Fair, and more.

Next week, I’ll start my part time job working through Tax Season (February – April) in a local CPA’s office while HomeBoy is at school.   Last year when I did this,  I REALLY enjoyed not only the work but the people, so when they invited me to come back again, I didn’t hesitate to say, “When do I start!?!”

This morning I’ll be heading out to attend a workshop entitled “Craft Your Creative Vision For 2018”, and then get my hair done.  (YES, it grew back and YES, I am blonde again! :) ).  I’m looking forward to hearing what the instructor has to say, and how I can take things to the next level because frankly, they are pretty awesome right now.  But, greedy wench that I am, I’ll take MORE of the good stuff any day!

The life I live today, this life of freedom, joy, creativity, renewed faith and new friendship, wasn’t something I could “see” 3 year ago. But it was THERE, waiting for me, just as God promised it would be.  All I had to do was take one day at a time, keep the faith,  keep moving and remember:

It Ain’t Over Yet