Yesterday at Wildflower UU Church, our ministerial intern Erin Walter delivered a sermon entitled “Art and Soul: Spiritual Enrichment through the Arts”. She asked the following questions: “How will the arts help you heal? How will they empower you? How will art fuel the revolution?”
How does creativity and passion fuel your life? How does it focus your life? I ask these questions of myself! How can art heal me? Fulfill me? Every single day I struggle with these questions. In fact, how can anything heal me? It doesn’t have to be ART. It could be anything that I pick to focus my attention and soul on.
She really didn’t touch on what she meant by “the revolution” though. Revolutionize society or the self or both? When I hear the phrase “the revolution” I think of political revolutions in history like the Cuban Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution. But I don’t think Erin meant that. But I don’t know what she meant by it.
Suddenly I am thinking about how people are damaged and why they are damaged and why they need healing. I wonder about people who aren’t damaged or don’t think they are damaged. Or they don’t need healing of any sort. Who are these people? What are they like? Are they dull? Egotistical? Narcissistic?
Anyways, I’ve included the doodle I did during the service and it includes a phrase she said that really struck me.
I’m not much of a blogger and I’m certainly not a gifted one. Mostly, I string together semi-understandable, semi-grammatically correct sentences that are faintly related to each other. I started my blog a year ago this month and so I was going through the early posts. This was one of them.
This was a painful one to write. I think I actually wrote it in 2014, not 2015 and I probably just uploaded it in 2015. But what that post was really about was my dramatic weight loss. In 2013 I had weight loss surgery and in 2014 I had lost 100 pounds. I didn’t look the same. I had to re-introduce myself to people who had not seen me since the surgery. They didn’t recognize me.
I was angry (really? ya think? lol) when I wrote that post. The constant comments about my changing body drove me insane. Obviously, the comments were positive but they embarrassed me and upset me. The constant compliments on my new clothing choices confused me and I never knew how to react.
So I reacted by being angry and upset. I remember chiding people about their comments regarding my physical appearance. They did learn to stop, but I think they never understood it. I remember not feeling understood. After all, why was I not exultant about what was happening to my body?
It is 2016 and I am not angry any more. At least not about the body changes or the clothing compliments. Now, I’m more focused on the baggage that doesn’t melt away when the pounds melt away. I’m more focused on dealing with the expectations that I had about what life would be like when I became slim and more physically attractive to men. I thought that I would have had a romantic relationship with someone by now, and that has not happened. I thought my dysthymia (mild, chronic depression, less severe with fewer symptoms than major depression) would have eased up.
So I’m thinking that maybe I’m angry about that right now. 2016 is probably going to be all about adjusting my expectations about my life. As far as the baggage goes, it’s probably time to unpack my suitcases and deal with the contents!
This is a famous quote from the novel and movie “Love Story” by Erich Segal. How do you feel about this quote? Is it true? Is it not true? It begs a discussion about what love means and the value of apologizing.
Well, you could say that it only means something in context of the novel that the quote came from. But I disagree with it. Saying sorry is very important, whether you love the person or not. The actual quote is “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” and I emphatically do not believe that that is “what love means”
Love is soooo many things — it can be tough, kind, cruel, compassionate, nurturing. It is a feeling, an attitude, an action. It is commitment in tough times. It is gratitude in easy times. It embraces a person’s gifts but more importantly in embraces a person’s faults. To love is to know the *whole* person — the good, the bad, and the ugly !!!
I had to learn more about love the hard way — that it is not about sex at all or what the guy can do for me (in my teens and 20’s I had a very skewed idea of what love meant). Thanks to age, maturity, wisdom, experience — I am changed and my definition and ability to love has accordingly changed. I hope to always live up to the best of what LOVE in the grandest sense offers. I love being better able to see the whole person and accept them as a complete individual.
Also: people who can’t or won’t or think they don’t have to apologize suffer from a personality disorder. Apologizing — showing remorse and regret — is a fundamental human trait. It shows that we connect with another person’s feelings and understand that we have wounded them. We are at our fullest as human beings when we can understand another person’s perspective and feelings.
John Lennon said: “Love means having to say sorry every 15 minutes.”
Apologizing doesn’t mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means that your relationship with the person is more important to you than your own ego.
“I think we must surrender the despair of unexpected cruelty and extend the wonder of unexpected kindnesses to ourselves and to each other.”
– Maya Angelou
I think we all find this difficult to do. Especially people who suffer from severe depression and self-image issues. I think people find it easier to be kind to others and not so much kind to themselves.
How do we be kind to ourselves? How do we believe in ourselves? Others can tell us all they want how beautiful we are, how special we are, how wonderful we are — but if you have a severe self-image problem, no amount of words will ever make it better.
I don’t know how to make this all better — how to convince someone to feel better about themselves. Or how to feel better about myself. It’s impossible. If someone has a solution….please let me know!!!
What would happen if there were no television? Why would this be good? bad?
I don’t even consider this a legitimate debate! I think society would totally be better off
without television. It’s in the same category, in my opinion, as cell phones.
If there were no televisions or cell phones, we’d all get out and rely on each other’s presence for entertainment. We’d go to concerts and plays. We’d hang out — face to face. We’d talk. We’d truly see each other for whom we really are.
We’d eliminate our sedentary lifestyle — we’d go walking more.
Humanity finally abandons Earth to explore the Universe but they leave behind a spokesperson in a cryogenic chamber which is designed to open when extraterrestrial life is detected on the planet. After 400 years, aliens finally arrive. — from a Writing Prompt found at Reddit.
Ha! Haven’t we already, metaphorically speaking, already abandoned the planet? We stopped being responsible caretakers and good stewards of our dear beloved home planet a long time ago.
And if you watch The History Channel at all, you know that the aliens have already arrived. They either arrived and stayed, or arrived and then left us. I wonder which it is? In history, the aliens were responsible for all our fabulous architecture (i.e. the Pyramids) or all our early advances in science (i.e. the Antikythera Mechanism). Currently, if they are still here, they are responsible for all conspiracies, all mysterious events, the banks, politics (after all, all politicians are reptiles, which I actually agree with)…
I watched The X-Files with enthusiasm back in the day…I knew it represented something very essential in our American mythological make up. These myths certainly had fish hooks in my brain (to a certain extent).
But back, briefly, to the writing prompt. How would you even choose a spokesperson for all humanity? Who would be willing to be left behind? How would their cryogenic tank be taken care of????? <practical questions with no real answers>
My UU Church is officially a “welcoming church,” something I am enormously proud of. I don’t think I’d ever be a member of any church or congregation that wasn’t a welcoming church. I just roll that way.
But until recently, I think that just meant for us that we accepted gay people and gay relationships. With the addition of a new developmental minister and his ministerial intern, I believe my UU church has broadened its definition and focus regarding transexuality, gender identity, and fluidity.
The ministerial intern is highly active in trans issues — something I immediately noticed when she used the term “cisgender.” Not a term widely known about, but one that I was recently introduced to and was incorporating into my vocabulary. Learning about these issues is very new to me and I am in that awkward phase where I’m still kind of old school about the binary gender identification — I like to categorize people one way or the other — and alternatively understanding and accepting that people can be anywhere on the spectrum. And that spectrum is probably both a choice and a biological issue? (I don’t know — would have to find out! Would welcome someone discussing it with me!)
Any ways, I am on that fulcrum of accepting and embracing people on the spectrum, and yet being befuddled and confused when interacting with people on the spectrum. Because my need to categorize the person kicks in. What pronoun do I use and if I am not sure, is it okay to ask? Is it okay to be confused? How do I be respectful and is there a “one way” to be respectful or do I have to go through a unique process with each person to determine respectful behavior?
My church’s ministerial intern has introduced our congregation to a lot of her friends. I found myself interacting with one of her friends in a way that I am not very proud of. I looked at this person and just blurted out, “I’m so glad you are here, so glad to meet you, but I am getting mixed signals on your gender!!” After saying that, I felt bad! Ashamed and out of sorts with myself. Because perhaps I wasn’t living up to my UU values???? Wasn’t “accepting”? (And does “accepting” mean “not saying anything?” another question for another time perhaps).
So what I did was go “confess my sin” to the ministerial intern. Oh I was so devastated with myself and so hard on myself and so in doubt with myself about my acceptance of people in all their forms and all their fluidity and all their spectrum!!! (This is an example of what I term “UU Guilt” which is probably yet another blog post!!!)
Later the intern had a lovely conversation with me about this and wanted to work with me about how to handle situations that confused me. She was worried about me — but I was not worried at all about myself, I was more worried about her friend. Because my supreme value and trait that I care about most in myself is caring about how the other person feels. I did not wish her friend to be offended, hurt, feel unloved or unwanted, or somehow questioned. Her friend was totally welcome there and my own reaction and confusion was entirely my own.
Further Reading: http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx
Postscript: I just realized that I started off by mentioning what The Bible has to say about gender, and then never pursued it….so maybe a more in depth topic for the next post???
This morning I was thinking about pain and how it makes you grow as a person. How it makes you resilient. Because pain, both physical and emotional, is a great teacher. It shows that you can endure, get through, and survive.
Today, I am thinking about physical pain. In the past 10 years, I have had 3 surgeries and a broken shoulder. I had my gallbladder taken out on an emergency basis after suffering several years of undiagnosed back pain. I broke my shoulder and it went undiagnosed for several months; PT for it was brutal. I had gastric bypass — that involved both physical and psychic pain. Now, I am recovering from a tummy tuck and a breast lift.
What will all this teach me? What will your pain teach you?
I think one of the biggest things I have learned (especially with the bariatric surgery) is that you can fix yourself physically, but it really brings your emotional and mental baggage to the forefront. Changing your body doesn’t change your emotional or psychological make up. You still have to deal with all the things that made you overweight in the first place. 2 years after my gastric bypass, I think that I still work on my emotional life very hard. I still struggle to overcome self-esteem issues. I still have the desire to eat large amounts, even though I have gotten used to not eating that way. I struggle with the boredom that cooking and eating and dining out used to cure. I work daily on coping skills and activities that keep the boredom demon at bay.
Today, I am learning that this process may never end. Pain will always be my teacher. I will always be learning the lessons.