living eulogy

A repost from my first week of blogging. I'm peeling off these old posts, one post at a time, and sorting them into Delete, Keep for Editing, and Keep on Blog. This, I got on a greeting card - and promptly turned it into a bit of a personal mission statement.

she danced. she sang. she took. she gave.

she served. she loved. she created.
she dissented. she enlivened.
she saw. she grew. she sweated. she changed. she learned.
she laughed.
she shed her skin, she bled on the pages of her days,
she walked through walls,
she lived with intention.

mary anne radmacher


You may say I am a dreamer

I am a Christian.
I believe the ancient Christian creed, partake in ancient Christian sacrament, read the sacred text, and follow the year's liturgical pattern. I feast on feast days, fast on fast days, and thank God for the example and prayers of the Saints.

I am an intellectual.
I study the minds of the ages in the written work they left us. I grapple with both logic and ethics, I admire both art and technology, and I work with conscious intention to understand and enact a life of educated honor in the world in which I live.

I am a woman.
I believe in Yin energy, and the darkly internal nature of generative power, embodied in women everywhere. I have borne children, and nurtured their years of maturing. I have taken to myself the Yang energy of a husband, and know that he has Yin energy of his own, but that mine is in my body as well as my activity.

I am an American.
I believe that the government of the people is necessary, that it should be done by the people, and that it is for the people. I believe in the public good, provided by the public will. I desire public roads, public parks, public education, and public radio. Where we have worked together for the good of all, America has been a noble and kind, as well as an inventive and buoyantly brash nation.

I am an optimist.

And I pray that the spirit of fear which so easily seizes mankind will begin again to recede from our shores.

The young and determined in the countries of the Middle East are waking to their inherent rights as humans. They are taking to the streets, and daring to believe what our founding fathers believed when our Great Experiment of a country began.

I am imagining what the world could be with free people everywhere, and the common good to guide us.


This is what I mean when I say, "I'm going to the beach"

Short little video snapshots my lovely artsy cousin shot of The Beach

Eggs in One Basket

Yesterday was Septuagesima. Next Sunday will be Sexagesima and the Sunday after that is called Quinquagesima, which is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent, which is the forty days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter.

I came into this antique vocabulary as an adult, and I still delight in it like a little kid. The words sound to me like ballet terms (arabesque, coupé dessous, pirouette) or the names of the diacritical marks on a sheet of music. The liturgical terms mean something to the practitioners of the discipline - in this case, it's 70, 60, and 50 days before Easter (which is odd, since a week only has seven days in it). On Septuagesima Sunday, we enter the countdown to Lent - and the kids in that picture are pretty good representations of the moods present at the beginning of Lent in various years.

The annual season of Lent, more than the beginning of the calendar year, is when I take stock. Somehow, since this time last year (whichever year I'm in), I have invariably acquired random piles of stuff. Duties. Relationships. Distractions. About a zillion zillion distractions. Ugh.

It's time once again to sort mental piles, toss distracting clutter, and only keep the eggs that fit in the one, intentionally filled, deliberately chosen basket. Time to stop living in Multitasking Fantasyland, where the illusion of doing several things at once is sprinkled like pixie dust on all the plants and animals, dazzling the eye and dizzying the head, and all we end up doing is spinning and spinning and spinning. Lent reaches out a hand, and I can grab it and stop.

Just stop.



One little blog has spread under the soil of my world, and shoots have come up in other places. Now there are three blogs, a facebook page, and a newly opened account on SmashWords, where I intend to put some of my writing into the open market. That's too many eggs. Too many sprouts. Too many metaphors for too much distraction.

One little degree has turned into a sprawling, spreading, lolling about, directionally diffuse, too faint and watery in intention, unchanneled. Instead of a river, carrying me on to a place I want to go, I'm sitting in a swampy sort of landlocked wetland. And wetlands are wonderful for wetland-dwelling species. If I wanted to live here, I'd be home. But I don't. So I'm not. I need to dredge a channel and get moving again because it's getting too attractive to disease-ridden pestilence and I need to breathe freely again. (Translation: I need to FINISH my Prior Learning portfolio, turn it in, and get the credit for it. And that's for starters.)

All in all, it's also time to chuck out some of the eggs that looked kind of interesting, or quirky, or familiar from another place and time. I've been going on too many daytrips back down paths I've already walked. It's like a little check for psychic buyer's remorse. Am I glad I went this way? What if I'd stayed there? When I left that place, I was unhappy (or scared, or angry, or hurt) ... was that a good enough reason to leave? Was I overreacting then? Did I miss out?

(Oh, the lure of "You're missing out ... you're missing out ..."!)

(click on that picture! It came from a very cool site called artsyTIME)

We can only remember things from where we were standing at the time. We can only have seen them through our own eyes, interpreted them from our own personalities, our own assumptions. Along the way, we rewrite the memories, re-form the images, re-remember, and incorporate into our lives what we thought we saw when we saw something. It is not a bad idea to go back and check and look with the eyes we now have. Usually, we find that our view was surprisingly incomplete at best.

And then we have to learn that our current view is still incomplete, at least.

So it's clearing-out-time. Remove the eggs and count them. Keep only the one basket. I've only the one life. Eggs that tend toward the rot and disintegration of fear-mongering, contraction, and staying put, contented with conclusions already drawn ... out, out, out. Eggs that still hold the health and life of joy, anticipation, openness and change ... put those in. Keep those.

And maybe in the end, I'll be so sorted out that I won't be conflating eggs in a basket with boating on outa here - with a ballerina added to the cargo. Sheesh! Metaphor muddle: dead giveaway, proof of the need for the annual assessment.


Adding the layers, working on the picture

(Hello, Recollected Life blog ... it's me. Remember me?)

After a sort of foraging expedition of the past few months, I now have more to say on the subject that keeps calling me. Being recollected, about life. What is a person? How do people work? When it goes wrong, what has happened? And why do people unfailingly believe there's such a thing as life going "wrong" or "right" in the first place? Obviously, we have the ability to self-reflect, imagine what is not yet a reality, and change our worlds ...

Gather it in. Collect it. Re-collect it. I do this in my religious life, and I do it all the time with "moments of clarity, attempts to focus, and questions to ponder in the intentional life" I'm trying to live. So ...I've just added another layer. In 2010, Karla McLaren wrote what I think is a fairly important book. The Language of Emotions: What your feelings are trying to tell you. She has addressed the modern, industrialized, socialized, urbanized, thought-laden, enlightenment-hounded, emotionally confused people we find ourselves to be.

I think she's brilliant. She went and studied and figured out and researched and assembled all of the components of this language we're so bad at in our era. (Because she did, I don't have to.) When I assert (as I have for about a decade now) that our emotions are like an instrument panel on a plane in flight, and that they carry information we need, and that we ignore our emotional feedback to our own peril, now I can open and re-open this book, and find the vocabulary and the studies and the research to re-ground myself in the practicalities of the thing. This is good stuff.

And it's another layer for my ongoing (personal) encyclopedia entry.

These models, these languages we all carry - they are the layers of transparencies in the encyclopedias we had on our home bookshelves when I was a kid. Do you remember those old encyclopedias? For the models of the human body or a reptile or an towering office building or anything else with three-dimensional layers, there were layers of clear overlays the reader could peel back, discovering the interconnected systems. (click on that picture of a version still being done - I love this kind of work!)

That is what this book of McLaren's does. It adds another transparency page for my model.

Back when I was taking the Human Studies course, Relationship to the Self, we had to come up with a model of the Human Self. I discovered that the Erickson model of psycho-social development closely paralleled the ancient system of chakras, which itself could be seen in concert with Martha Beck's change cycle (back to Square One at the beginning of all of life's changes, Square Two is ideas, Three is trial and error, Four is maintenance until the next propulsion smack back to Square One). Then there's the ongoing Blue Zones research, being done across the globe, where the healthiest and longest-living groups of people show that they all have the same "Power Nine" things contributing to their lives.

I ended up with Chakra Man ... a really boggling diagram, in which all the layers were present ... so it's kind of over-full of information. But this is what it looked like to me when I was taking that course. (if you click on it, it will be as large as a regular sheet of paper, and you'll be able to read all the parts)

My thinking goes like this. If the most ancient systems and the most modern research all look basically the same, they're probably all observing the same universally true phenomenon. And, within the developments and health of the organism (each human organism, and, I suspect, the amalgam of humans that form a culture) there are interconnected systems that can inform and aid, or can oppose and hinder, all the other systems and developmental curves.

A body has a nervous system, a cardiovascular system, a musculature, a skeleton ... a human has foundational chakra/developmental phase/elements, and life cycle elements that parallel the body's systems ... a society has all of these things too. It's very wheel within a wheel. And it's freaking hard to diagram!! I just might need to design the book of transparency overlays to explain what I'm talking about.

So here's the work I'm working on in my current work.

Cultural transparency: Blue Zones, Philip Zimbardo, and (I think ... but I'm not definite about this yet) Joseph Campbell. Something about the hero's journey is scratchy - but I don't know why or where, so that one's still in provisional status

Childhood transparency: the incredible and delightful currently researching Alison Gopnik and both of her most recent books, the concepts in The Continuum Concept, and Kevin Leman's work on Birth Order

Intra-personal transparency, for the emotional/personality type clarity page: Lenore Thomson, James Pennebaker, Martha Beck, and now, Karla McLaren

There's more, of course. Lots more.

But today, the big news is that Karla McLaren has written a book that explains the healthy, practical, useful, and clarifying use of our emotional systems. Emotions do not need to be ignored or denigrated, they don't need to be our confusing and eccentric masters, and they cannot be commandeered and tamed. Emotions don't work like that. They're out internal waterways, and damming them up or draining them dry are both seriously bad ideas.

Thanks, Karla. I am deeply grateful for your work.