Jason Listman and “You’ll Be Okay” by A Great Big World

“Early morning singing signals to other birds

about the strength and vitality of the singer.

Singing is an essential part of bird life,

but it’s costly in terms of time and energy.

CND path

Singing loud and proud first thing in the morning

tells everyone within hearing distance that you were strong and healthy enough to

survive the night.”

~ Mary Bates, “Why Do Birds Sing in the Morning?”

Yesterday one of my best friends, one of two college roommates, posted a phenomenal music video to her high school American Sign Language students. She happens to have been hearing until age three, and Deaf ever since. I happen to have been fully hearing until of late and I’m proudly heading toward my fifties. She and I both took dance lessons for many years prior to college. But, with a huge buffet of academic and arts choices available when we arrived at college, she tended to study what she had always loved, and I tried to branch out. She majored in English and if I remember right she also enjoyed environmental science. I majored in Communication Arts/Theater and attempted to branch as far as my credits would allow into religion and all other performing and visual arts. We both still took dance classes most semesters and I enjoyed learning a little bit about choreography. One of my best memories was a final project in which she graciously put up with me trying to choreograph a dance for both she and I. I’m not sure what music we used other than wind chimes. Did I have a classmate read a story or poem? Could be. I don’t remember.

No matter. It was so fun and she raised the roof with applause at every student performance in which she performed.

Hmmm. That makes me wonder, did we think to tell her how loud the audience was hooting? Doesn’t matter now – we had a great time and our friendship is still solid.

So, this week I’ve been putting up with some most annoying ear pain that feels like infection. They took a peek and the insides look perfectly healthy. A few weeks ago the ENT said the same thing – “everything looks perfectly healthy…we don’t know why this discomfort happens.” I wasn’t in a questioning mood that day, but I managed to get an appointment again in a few weeks and I need to let him know that I have an inquiring mind and I won’t rest until he at least gives me some “it could be” scenarios.

After a good bit of research I think he is going to tell me that this discomfort is likely hypercusis : sound intolerance, frequently accompanied by tinnitus. If I do have otosclerosis  as suspected I will have won a prize in comparison to other hearing loss conditions because hearing aids, a specific surgery called a stapedectomy and sometimes cochlear implants are all practiced options to possibly restore some or a lot of hearing. I also have the choice to just let it go, which I consider a fine option as well. The trick is that I’m not yet sure if any of the hearing aid or surgical options treat the symptoms and some can make them worse.

Which stinks.

I am patient and my life is blessed though, and to some this will seem strange, to others it will really resonate:

What is bothering me right now is the realization that I’m losing my voice. Literally.

People more frequently say “huh?” and tell me that I pronounced one thing when it was another, or look at me all wonky about the sound of my voice.

I also can hit all the right notes of a song very, very rarely. It had been hurting my pride a bit for a while. Now that I understand why, I’m relieved to be able to kind of grieve the loss of a cherished companion. From my college years, graduate years, baby raising years (two out of three – the youngest hated lullabies) up until about 5 or 10 years ago I could hit almost every note, almost every time. And since performance isn’t the career I chose, harmonizing with James Taylor without effort was and is respite care – not grocery money.

Good things are happening though – I am learning to listen and let others sing for me because I certainly can hear the chords and technology gives me the option to look up the words if needed. JT hasn’t given up on me and I can still hit our harmonies if I am alone, rested, relaxed and hydrated.

And there is this – the video that my college Deaf bestie shared – it’s phenomenal in every single way. The performer is a professional video director, Deaf, and studied college at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Here you go, enjoy. And happy Remembrance Day: Jason Listman in

“You’ll Be Okay” by a Great Big World in American Sign Language with lyrics.

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End of the Semester Insomnia Rambling Thoughts

grad“In truth,

who we are is fiercer than anything we know.”

~ Nancy Collier

The good thing is this – it’s only four times a year or so. I’ve been through much worse… I’ve struggled with insomnia – really scary amounts of it at a few points in time, for around 14 years now. Before that it was the “normal” kind. Worried about a test, up all night with the baby, excited to marry the man of my dreams…. But – by and large, I’ve got routines and interventions in place that have these all nighters narrowed down to four times a year or so. And the great thing is – it’s not really any longer a gigantic big deal.

It’s kind of like going to the dentist. It’s a little bit like getting ready for a birthday party.

It sometimes reminds me of childbirth.

It’s no worse than waiting on an oil change.

It’s like meeting a new gynecologist for the first time and finding out that he is old, ugly and short.

Oh well. C’est la vie, right?

No – these quarterly lay awake all night episodes have a scientific link – it happens with every season change. Go ahead and roll your eyes if you need to about Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a thing. It’s on my chart and lands me a half-dozen or so check ups a year to be sure that my GrandPlansToSleep a solid 8 most nights of the year has fallen off course.

And, yes – it’s all in my head.

Which happens to contain my brain.

Which creates (and doesn’t create) chemicals that lead to a decent day after day and night after night… Yet….in the end….my hope is this: I never want a Dark Night of the Soul episode…ever…again. Literally. I can’t control that I suppose, but I dread the idea that the night may become my enemy at some point again. Night is for sleep. I’d rather wrestle demons in the day time, thank you very much. long range kitchen color plan So…last night I never did fall asleep.

I tried every single trick, of which I have honed to approximately a dozen. No luck. Oh well. Instead, I got sleepy watching “Madmen” for the first time with the volume too low to hear and my glasses off. (trick #8) Oh my goodness – that looks like an awesome series. Note to self.

And then, I got sleepy enough that my muscles started to twitch and my mind settled while listening to Kate Rusby on Pandora. (trick #2) No luck. She broke out into a fiddle reel and I got wound up about needing a passport if I’m ever going to Ireland.

So, I broke my CardinalRule of stay horizontal until 5 a.m. and brewed some coffee at 4:00. But…. at those several points when I tried to pray (trick #1, #7 & #12) they all kept landing back on hearing words like “you deserve this” and “don’t give up” and “just keep moving.” Motivational poster sayings. I HATE motivational poster sayings. So I became annoyed and woke right back up…

What brought me peace and lead to the decision to break my lay still until 5 a.m. rule was that for just a moment – I had a teeny, tiny little moment of: “you are enough.”

My nanosecond of real calm doesn’t change the fact that I have a crap pile of life to untangle…but for a moment as I was en route to dozing to a Celtic tune – I let myself be strong. So, if you too are experiencing your quarterly Spring to Summer Serotonin Spiritual Review – feel free to skip straight to giving yourself an A+ and consider this quote by Nancy Collier. I feel pretty certain that she is a Deaf woman who I quoted in a paper…she could also be someone else – it’s a sticky note quote on my desk that I just noticed…maybe she is Kate Rusby’s lead fiddle player, and is blind…who knows. At any rate…

“In truth,

who we are is

fiercer

than anything we know.”

~ Nancy Collier

Intimate Love Can Require Extraordinary Courage

This morning I came across something quite beautiful that was posted on Face Book. Rosa Lee Timm, an outstanding Deaf actress, posted a clip of a wedding. This clip was of the vows that a woman wrote for her soon to be husband and it was incredible. Unfortunately there aren’t any closed captions for this clip that has gone viral on the internet. In Rosa’s comment in the status box above the clip that she shared she explained that she doesn’t know what this woman was saying – but that it certainly looked like a powerful message based on her husband’s reaction. She commented how she admired the beautiful and massive hairstyle of the bride, and I agree! It’s dynamite! Feel free to see for yourself by giving this great looking couple a gander. Back in the day, if I had known about flower covered archways I might have put more eggs in that basket – this one is beautiful! So – the film shows an extraordinary to look at couple who generously share parts of their unique wedding online. What the bride says is about far more than young love though – it was about the reality that accepting life’s greatest experiences often requires an extraordinary amount of courage to endure the worst patches as well. One doesn’t have to be Christian, as she is, to know this to be true. It’s a universal thing – if we are going to experience even a slice of a full life we need to dare to leap, and experience fall, after fall after fall. And intimate relationships are the messiest and most wonderful experience of all: Marriage, parenting, grand kids, nieces nephews, friendship, siblings, pets – it’s all a gamble. Anyway – I enjoyed knowing that I’m not the only relational chicken-sh*t on the planet and the video warmed my heart. BBbGXzPCAAACd-4For those who can’t hear what she said, this is some of what I jotted down from the video: “…sitting with this piece I wrote called “I Waited for You” I realized that you are my sequel. You are what I asked for, and I will be content with whatever the will of God is, and He chose somebody strong enough to deal with me…. I waited for you. Did you know that I’m not her and that I partially agreed to the wait because I didn’t believe that you existed in the first place? But in the slight, rare possibility that you did, you would definitely not want me, because I’m not her. …I choke on words like ‘want’ and ‘need’…I am the one that fairy tales tell you to stay away from. I was never Cinderella…I was never the Princess. I was the fire breathing dragon…yet you chose to knock on the door of this castle: my heart….unaware that an invisible fortress had been built, due to much more experienced pain than a sting… I was in a relationship with pain…and I loved him but I hated him, because pain had been faithful for years... beauty to me was incomplete…there was no heart in the house tonight.. nights like this I would wish and pray ‘Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, please allow the clouds to gather and the sky to to turn to gray, lead us not into temptation…Oh how I wish that it would rain so that when I look into the sky I can see my reflection’. …(after I met you) I stepped out into the sun. He is the one that knows me. He knows me. He has the ability to foresee and He still loves me. So, I stepped outside…only to see you outside my door and I was terrified… Why couldn’t I believe that your hand placed gently on the back of my neck calms me. I hate the way my heart became a defiant teenager. I got tired of the fight and decided to prove to you that you too would leave…I kept asking myself ‘who are you’ while climbing the attractive Mt. Everest of your mind. I attempted to hike a little higher to take a peek at your soul…your condition of unconditional is where I fell…

your love is too much…

it’s hard to breathe when anyone gets close…stand close and let me inhale your exhale…you collect my tears like wilted, wet bible pages…you remind me that as long as I stay close to Him I’ll never thirst again..

I remember

staring into your eyes for the first time

and it was like

staring into the back of the moon,

only to find out that IT shines too.

You are patience like a tailored suit…we are not Romeo and Juliet…but we too are a beautifully written tragedy…but we will continue and stand in His word and drink Truth… I know they told you ‘good luck’ with her…may the Lord continue to orchestrate this beautiful complex chord progression… today I will let my ‘yes be yes’, and my ‘no be no’, and today my ‘I do’ be ‘I do.’… I vow that I won’t tap out, I won’t give up...I vow not to say things like ‘you complete me’ because you don’t..in Christ I have been made complete…this will be my constant reflection because death on that cross was the greatest display of affection.

I’ve learned that He loved me enough to give me you, and so I vow to you my last breath.”

About Loud Dishwashers and Quiet Strength

handsigns_K“Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence.” Leonardo da Vinci

 

Well now, I hope that da Vinci is right, because the world around me seems to believe and behave otherwise. If I had time this morning, I would figure out what the sound level of my dishwasher is right now. At the moment, my house is silent other than

1: the dishwasher – a noisy one. Very noisy.

2: my dog Paul and the clinking of his dog tag on my feet. and

3: the pleasant chatter of NPR news which I’ve got at a low-level to keep me company and on task.

I’m pretty sure that I can also hear our dog Lennon chomping on some breakfast as well.

Probably this sound mix seems relaxing to some, boring, or maybe annoying as crap to others. My youngest son LOVES noise – he makes a lot of it, and feels anxious if he’s not surrounded by a clashing mix of various people and media streams. Oh, I think that most of us like the IDEA of silence – and maybe even envy those of us who are quiet and highly sensitive souls. I’ll let you research the statistics yourself, and they certainly are out there. Our world is getting louder. Commercials, radios, classrooms, churches, grocery stores. You name it. All of the day to day places we go to have been proven (in first world type of settings) to be really, really loud anymore. So with that in mind, indulge me as I start sharing some tough crap I’m up against of late.

I can’t be the authority of everything I want to control and change – and I can’t perfectly manage my sound environment – after all, I’m not cloistered and I’ve not yet taken a vow of silence. But I LOVE what Da Vinci says, and I want to switch his quote up to something more personal:

“Nothing can, nor has ever strengthened my authority better than silence.”

And, on the flip side – lore has it that the reason VanGogh cut his ear off is not because he1959461_10153074983048810_36322649183088841_n was insane, it was because he had tinnitus – sound that is not sound. It’s fake noise that is created by the brain of someone who is hard of hearing or deaf. It can be related to a lot of things – injury, stress, a reaction to environmental sound, tight jaw muscles, and from what I can tell – it always involves an out of the norm auditory system or event.

I still don’t know why it is true, but I found out a year ago that my hearing status, for now in one ear, is permanently out of the normal range. That may not sound (pun intended) like a big deal, but it really is. It’s a very big deal for me. What I’m up against isn’t as clear as the typical getting older and starting to hear less clearly.

Strangely enough, it is the symptoms that come with what ever is going on in my auditory system that is, I have to say, kind of maddening at times. And what I have going on isn’t even in the ball park of what many hard of hearing and Deaf folks go through. Thankfully, this isn’t my first unexpected life rodeo ride, so for the most part, it’s not too hard to take in stride. world has ended many times I read this morning that one way to deal with tangled feelings from our past is to accept our limitations as deeply and quickly as we can when these limitations become clear. I agree for the most part – I’m a fan of facing the truth, even when it sucks.

So, in a few weeks if at my 6 month hearing test the truth is that my hearing status is the same mild and mysterious scenario, my body is still going to keep telling me: things just are not right. If the ENT is dismissive and says again, “we don’t know what’s going on, there is nothing we can do yet, come back in another six months,” how should I respond?

The discomfort of constant ear pressure and the annoyance of mild tinnitus that I deal with 24/7, again, is nothing compared to many others. I am getting to know a lot of great people who have profoundly difficult symptoms such as frequent vertigo or severe tinnitus. Many of them can’t work, and many of them work anyway…how, I’m not yet sure.

I do know this:

I adore American Sign Language (ASL). It’s not just fun (which it is), it’s not just cute (which it can be) it IS – well, it is indescribably in written word. Because it’s not – it’s not English, and it isn’t written. It is something that we DO and SEE.

It is the BEST language ever, and I would say the same if my hearing was top notch. It conveys feeling, thought, time, time, space, story, history, and details in a way that no other language will ever be able to do.

So, “God willing, if the creek don’t flood,” hopefully between now and mid-April,  I will have the courage to face this ongoing physical limitation by allowing myself to reflect on these difficult questions and not feel ashamed of the resulting fears and anxieties that are about as normal as normal can be.

I’m out of time and brain juice to figure out a way to transition what I’m saying to a recommendation to read these two articles from a friend – so I’ll just add them as a Post Script here. They are all about the topic of this blog: grace.

Take care, and be warm, Kate

10429303_10153075073858810_8420602525960782671_nStaying open to Grace: http://wp.me/p3gSTz-T2

When ‘Happily Ever After’ Meets Life’s Hardships: http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/when-happily-ever-after-meets-lifes-hardships/

A Super Duper Beautiful poem: http://youtu.be/9GdawG7CBNo

 

 

 

Ash Wednesday : Your Work Will Be Rewarded

k2773601For those of us who observe Lent, today is a day that we are asked to be brave and remember that some day we will die. It is Ash Wednesday. We remember that we aren’t perfect, and as Christians, we need to renew our awareness that Jesus offered His life in order that we may stumble into God’s light….but not alone. God doesn’t want us to be afraid of failure – but the relentless pressures of life, even the most basic stuff, sometimes feels just like a black smudge right in the middle of my noodle.

So, sometimes I imagine my worst fears, my greatest burdens – I dredge them up and then close my eyes and imagine that I am in a row boat with Jesus. Some days just the undone heaps of laundry are enough to send me into an anxious flurry of worry. But, the boat image – it always helps.

The President of Saint Ambrose University wrote something interesting in an online Lenten reflection:

“The great Psalm 51 is perhaps the ‘classic’ articulation of our awareness of our sinfulness:

‘Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness…For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always.’

We know that we are need of forgiveness: from God, from each other, even from ourselves. In God’s dealings with humanity as seen in the Scriptures, we see that God asks us to DO something in order to show a sincerity in our search for forgiveness.

I also found some related quotes, and have been pouring through some photos which, to me, don’t smack of failure one bit.

“Time is the coin of your life.

You spend it.

Don’t let others spend it for you.”

Carl Sandburg

paper hats552781_10150679738048810_837678809_9152804_1430953596_n

“Nothing strengthens authority

as much as

silence.”

Leonardo da Vinci

whole wrld

“But as for you,

be strong and

do not give up,

for your work will be rewarded.”

2 Chronicles 15:7

God’s Love is Stronger than the Winter You Were Frightened Of

popeILY“My love is stronger than the winter you were frightened of.”

~ Lucy Wainwright Roche

I had a quite intense religious experience last week. It really came out of the blue.

Like most of us who are dealing with snow storms in the United States, the past couple of weeks have not been ones of convenience. Our oldest son moved to our town and he fell in love right away with a very sweet gal. Both of those happenings have been grand! Our other adult son decided to go to college in the town where we live. This decision of his has been superb for me!

But, that means that when fourteen additional inches of snow falls upon snow that was already on the road, last week I was worrying about four adults besides myself driving safely to work and school. Even more worrisome was that my oldest son was needing to move while sick, without missing work, while the storm was happening.

It all worked out thankfully other than a nick on his new dining room table.

So, then on Monday, we all had a snow day and I wasn’t feeling well, but our youngest son was able to live the life of a kid and had a great time in the snow. This is good.

I wouldn’t say that prior to this storm I was feeling depressed, but I’ll admit that I was in a slump for much of January.

It was more like a winter blues state of affairs and I’m not sure why.

14 inches

 

But, this is where the religious experience comes in – I’m not sure how to put it into words other than that my slump is no longer. Bare with me as I try to describe what happened, I think it was last Tuesday evening.

 

I have a very dear friend who lives in Chicago, which is only a couple of hours drive away from here. I’ve not seen her in, as Billy Joel would say, the longest time. A week or so ago she wrote a beautiful blog post as a guest writer on a theology blog. What she said, in essence, is that for what it’s worth, darkness can be a place of learning. That, if we let our long nights become a place of reflection, the Holy Spirit swoops right in and manages to turn our worry and despair and wondering into the most lovely surprises that we could never imagine ourselves.

And, I’m not sure if this was part of what she was saying in her article, but what she said made me think about how guilt can really mess with this whole magical system.

In the Catholic Church, before we receive communion we say a prayer that goes:

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof

but,

only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

I’m guessing that when Pope Benedict changed this prayer from a previous one he was talking about a communion wafer hitting the roof of my mouth, but it’s not how I imagine things when I say those words out loud.

I imagine being surprised by a friend stopping by my house on a whim. The sink is full, my homework is far from done, my hair looks more like a bird’s nest than usual. And out of the total blue, there she is – a cherished friend, perhaps in high heels with a camera in tow, looking for a quick chat and a long hug. And since it’s communion we’re talking about here, of course Jesus is in the picture as well. I either imagine him being there at the door as well, or having taught that cherished visitor to stop by and lift a burden.

Now, back to my theologian friend. I’ve known her since she was born. I have the distinguished honor of being her first babysitter beyond her grandmothers. I must say she was not the easiest baby to care for because she did a bit of fretting. She couldn’t wait for her parents to return and I had to come up with a good balance of fun and quiet and soft singing to get her down for a nap.

She really loved silence.

As an adult she and her husband have been waiting a very long time to make themselves a family of three.

Now, if you will, go back to my story about our latest snow storm. It was big enough to shut Chicago down, which puts in a really, really big snow storm category. Our town gets pretty much the same weather as Chi, but less windy. So – on an evening mid-week after the storm and moving our son, and digging out to get back to work and school I needed a pick me up. I decided to work on a project that I felt like I had failed. I had plans to make several sets of painted nativity Holy Family people to give away for Christmas, but things got busy and I only made a few. What the heck I say to myself, I’ll work on them as an Easter project. So I sit down in the dark, at the kitchen table and start painting.wise people2

 If you have ever had a family or a dog (we have two),

please imagine how many times I may have been interrupted or distracted while simply trying to decide between pink or paisley paint colors.

I found myself just ignoring the excitement and praying though – it wasn’t even on purpose. As I started to coat a couple of little Magi, a little bit of burden fell off and I started asking God for a bit of help. And I said sorry, I’m not sure about what. Maybe it was about Christmas not being what it could have been in our house, maybe it was because the laundry wasn’t done, probably it was related to having missed going to Mass for a couple of weeks.

Then my cell phone rings.

It was a college friend and she said: “Get on Facebook – go now.There is something you need to see.”

And it was one of the most beautiful baby photos that I will ever, ever, ever see in my whole life.

Our friend who had been waiting six years to bring a baby home, had welcomed him into the world at last. And his skin is the exact color of beautiful that I was painting – out of guilt and life stress, at my kitchen table.

Lucy Wainwright, the musician, is right on target with her beautiful lyrics. My love for this little person, who I knew would come into my life some day, is stronger than any winter that her mom could be frightened of.

This makes me happy.

Attendance Please is Going to Change….

Dear Subscribed Attendance Please readers,

Good morning!

20131014-062918.jpg

I know that there is just a handful of subscribed readers for my blog, but I wanted to say, first of all

Thanks.

This blog hobby was a wonderful companion after I moved and I appreciate that there are those who were willing to not only put up with, but support my ramblings and rants by way of subscribing to my posts by email.

I want to let you in on some thinking that I’m doing right now and am requesting your input.

Some time in the next few months I am either going to start a new blog and attach it to a website, or….

I’m going to transition this one into a slightly different focus than when I began.

Originally I named the Blog “Attendance Please” based on the idea that to experience God’s grace, we need to pay attention to where it is going on in our life. I wanted it to not only be ecumenical, but not particularly religious unless I was in the mood to write about religion. When I look at my posts I can see proof of the many ways that I drive my family insane some days. They are all over the place and the topics often don’t connect at all. Sometimes I will read an old post and have NO idea what was going that I went on that tangent and wonder why anyone would have interest in trying to follow my thinking if even I am not keeping it straight.

As my friend Betty used to say: “Make not no matter.”

The point has been, thus far, to force myself to reflect and to jot down some of my thoughts in opinions in hopes that others will take a minute to slow down, put our thinking caps and take collective big, deep breath.

Soon though, I am going to transition what I’ve started here to a more specific topic. If that doesn’t make sense or isn’t working – I might just start from scratch.

I would like to focus what I write specifically to something that is about communication between the hearing world and that of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing world. I want to make it interesting and generalized – and really, pretty much the same as this one which is about paying attention. I want it to include information and examples of where and why tensions exist between the hearing and deaf world. And – I want to share with you how everything that I’ve been trying to say here about being reflective and attentive already exists in spades in the world of those who happened to also be Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

I am very lucky to have started my studies in Sign Language Interpreting with Deaf Culture classes. Before I even began American Sign Language 1 this fall, my mind was blasted wide open last Spring by learning the history of oppression toward the deaf. This oppression continues to be wide-spread and I couldn’t be more surprised.

So, please do let me know if there are any opinions out there about what type of blog and/or website would be of interest to you.

I am particularly interested in feed back from hearing people because you are the audience that I don’t want to lose.

I am confident that I can build and wonderfully large and supportive following from the ASL and deaf world – it’s the choir preaching to me and I couldn’t feel more at home amongst my new friends. But, what I want to come of it, even if it turns out that I only have time for a blog post here and there…what I want to come of either transitioning Attendance Please or starting a new project, is an appreciation on the part of the hearing world that Deaf culture is wonderful and rich. The deaf and hard of hearing are worthy of our attention as a hearing majority and as I have already said, I couldn’t be more shocked that prejudice and oppression continues toward those who have hearing loss. I’m aware that these days, most of the time the offenses are based on ignorance, but I kind of thought that we had evolved a bit since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act a few short years ago.

So – that’s what I’m up to and again, I’m very interested in input on if you think that:

1: This blog has potential to just be tweaked into a hearing + deaf world conversation that encourages and exemplifies the benefits of being reflective.

Or.

2: A fresh start would be just the ticket.

Thanks again for your support – don’t go away please!

peace, Kate

“Okay” Can Be a Comforting Prayer

BPyUYW1CIAA-IFqIn part of a passage I posted the other day by Anne Lamott she said that

“okay”

is one of the four great prayers.

o TN_handsigns_O

I wonder what the other three are?

I’d bet they are one worded – perhaps thanks. Amen would be kind of obvious. What about yes? or Hallelujah, or yipee or yahoo or agreed? That’s what amen means in terms of word roots I think. I’m fairly sure it just means “Yup, I think the same thing as you my old pal God the greatest.”

About a month ago my prayers were not close to being quite that amiable. “Greatest” is still not the first thing that pops in mind with how I am feeling about the heavenly host, but I’m starting to ease up on my internal sky rant which started out pretty much like this:

Are you *%@+&ing kidding me? What happened to that giant life plan that you and I mapped out and you were so generously CLEAR with your instructions about what you want me to do with my life? The hints you left were not random on this one. It wasn’t like the time I thought I could somehow make a career out of folding origami cranes and little paper frogs. That wasn’t very practical was it now? Did I try to figure out if that’s what you want. Well YES SIREE I did! I prayed, I journaled. I reflected. I went to mass and made the sons come along as well. I even started reading Anne Lamott books. I may not have gotten to my goal of making a thousand paper cranes, but I got good at that craft and hosted a couple of really fun workshops for kids and showed those little kidlets a good time. Did I whine and moan when I figured out that the want ads had nothing that said: “intensely reflective and fairly forgetful paper folder wanted to fold cute little animals out of beautiful asian paper squares” ? NO MA’AM! I kept on truckin’ and started out working on Masters degree #2 because the first one was not in big demand in the countryside where we were living. Was I bummed when it stopped working out for me to continue in that program. Well sure. It was really interesting and the career demand was going to be huge. And did I stop trying to figure out what you want? Hell’s bells no I didn’t. I dug up all of the Thomas Merton books that we own and got friendly with him again. And I found another hobby as instructed and spent hours and hours building that outdoor porch train track. Giving up that corner of our house that became my little prayer space was pretty damn hard to leave, but I did, DID I NOT? Our buddy Merton says keep reflecting not matter where and no matter what so when I discovered how ridiculously large the Mississippi river is compared to my serene corner on the great Ohio, THAT’S WHAT I DID DUDE! REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECTED MY *#%…..

There’s more, but I’ll spare you the details. Consider that a prelude.handsigns_K

By the way, I know that I used both “he” and “she” words for God. I’m one of those people who feel like God is so big that gender kind of limits the whole point of divinity. And I get irked at continued references that imply that our collective imagination stopped at the image of a white guy with a big old beard being in charge of the universe. That’s kind of boring I think. And none of my grandfather’s look like that anyway. One was a motorcycle cop and the other a journalist with big thick eye glasses.

Anyway.

My dear friend sent me a beautiful gift after I called her to tell her what was upsetting me so greatly. Wait, no, She is the one that had called me first. I had sent a rapid fire set of text messages saying “ahhhhhhhhh” and “eeeeeeeeeeeeek” and “yowwwwwwwwww”! She knows me well and called and said “I’m calling to talk about the weather and want to know what you are making me for dinner.” So we had a great and funny conversation that was mostly a “not talking talk” about what I was upset about, but at the same time she got a basic run down on the scene.

Shortly after, a gift that she had promised came in the mail. I wasn’t expecting it quite so soon! The card that she sent with it had a cute front that talked about how God’s world is full of all that is good. On the inside though, the little bear was shaking her hands at the sky and saying “give me a *xyz#%ing break!”

So all of this to say is this….

yeah. I agree with Anne.

It took me a month or so, but the best prayer I can burp out at this point is “okay.”

And once I said okay, my load started to lighten. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still angry, but this particular situation is not one that I can afford to pout about for very long.

Some new realities have fallen into my lap that are complicating my plans to get through this Sign Language interpreting certification program, but thus far there is no reason to do anything other than continue to enjoy and get as far as I can in the courses.If some fine tuning needs to happen, then so be it – I’ll deal with it when that time comes.

I’ll say this though – and again, I won’t bore you with the details, but adjusting this quickly from a “BLEEP YOU” cosmic conversation to a kicking my shoe in the dirt and mumbling “okay” prayer stance is completely unheard of for me…pun intended. I hold grudges like a toddler who is unwilling to release a blanket during nap time.

And. I have fallen in love with my studies about a language and culture that surrounds and protects the lives of those who have less than perfect hearing. Somehow, some way though, I didn’t wait even a day this time before sounding the alarm bells to get help and comfort when I had a wrench thrown into my plans. I scattered out a few “hey friends, I’m freaking out” messages and predictably there were those that said “huh?” and those that said “got your back girl. Bring it on. You’ve got this thing. Don’t stop now.”

And the best part? Some of these people are new friends. I survived the three-year mark of relocation and am meeting and entrusting some really, really great people in my new world. I’m encountering people who are flies in my soup too…but I don’t care. This is not my first trip on the pumpkin wagon and I know to be careful to trust only those who gain my confidence. I hope that I have the sense to pay that back.

I don’t know that I need to read up on what the other three prayers are that Anne Lamott mentions. Saying “okay God” is comfort enough for now….gotta start somewhere.

(The top photo is mine and is morning sun on the Mississippi River which is now a favorite water way, second only to the Ohio.)

Anne Lamott on Praying for Spiritual Signs

fallRecently I’ve been enjoying this song by Colbie Callait.

And, this morning I stumbled on an interesting Facebook Post from Anne Lamott. I think it fits with the month of remembrances and thanksgiving.

She wrote it on August 9, Just last summer.

I love the idea of God’s grace being available in an ATM.

Every morning these days, you have to ask yourself, What the hell IS it all about, Alfie? Or you pray for a sign that you absolutely cannot miss or misinterpret, the tiniest hint of direction and assurance.

Well? I got one.

It has been one of the worst week in years, and that’s saying something. You know exactly what I’m talking about, no matter how much you love your life and your pit crew; no matter how hard you strive to present a good face. It is so hard here. It’s like Old Yeller meets the Hunger Games; plus the parking is terrible.

Under the best circumstances, we are a nutty and sometimes violent species, on an extremely dangerous piece of land.

But one of the saddest things happened. We had to put my darling old dog Lily down. She died peacefully at home in my son Sam’s arms on Wednesday.

I think she was the closest I’ll come, on this side of eternity, to experiencing the direct love of the divine. You may know the feeling.

Through this love, Sam and I came through. We cried a lot, but agreed to let our hearts stay broken for a while, because that is how light, grace and healing can get in, through the armor.

The next morning, I took Lily’s beloved ne’er-do-well husband Bodhi for a walk. I adore him, but he has tiny mental issues, such as aggression, and having eaten entire chickens, and 24 muffins once. Then, too sad to stay at home without Lily, we went out for a bite.

After eating sandwiches in the car, we headed home. I was disoriented, and so far behind on my daily life, after a month of Lily in decline, that Sam frequently consults A Place for Mom online. But a block from home, I got that Holy Spirit nudge, a tug on my sleeve, which urged me, as it often does, “Stop.” It’s given up on nuance.

They say that when all else fails, follow instructions. The nudge on my heart said, “Go to your friend’s kid’s school.” So I said, “Okay,” the fourth great prayer.

My closest friend’s child, who has been through the ringer, the On Beyond Zebra ringer, starts kindergarten soon, but the friend has been on Total Fucking Overwhelm (TF0). She has not entirely gotten him enrolled, and the school’s website had conflicting info on how to do this. And, of course, no one is in the office, because it is August, which was one of the two biggest mistakes God made–August, and snakes. So we drove to the school.

There was one car in the parking lot and a woman climbing into it. Then some janitors ran into view and called to her–had she locked their lunches in the office? She had–Oops, to quote Rick Perry. So she got out, to unlock the office. I asked if I cd run along beside her, like a little dog, and ask a quick question. “Fire away!” she said. I told her about this boy, and asked all our main questions. She was so helpful. I thanked her, and asked if she worked in the office.

“Yes,” she said. “I’m the new principal.”

Of course she was the new principal, because God is such a show-off. Call this energy the Divine It, or Ed. Whatever works.

“Wow,” I said, bowing my head.

“Look,” she continued, “the easiest thing is probably for me to just give your friend my cell phone number.”

I said, “Okay,” on the verge of laughter and tears. “Thank you.”

Bodhi and I went home and called our friend. “You better sit down,” I told the mom. “I think we got some kind of Inbreaking.”

I told the mom my story, about how we’d somehow ended up at the Grace ATM, and how holy spirit had saved the day.

“Yeah,” she agreed. “Or Lily.”

I gave her the new principal’s cell phone number. Then Bodhi and I went to read the new People, and took a nice morning nap, feeling a little bit better, which is a miracle.
from FB page Suspended Coffees

Don’t Panic. Get Your Flu shot.

Rosie Red card

Please listen closely as I need to be very blunt and clear about something that is on my mind.

(Good morning by the way and to those who may have missed my postings, not to worry Life is good and I’m loving my studies :)  ).

Okay – back to asking you to use your listening eyes as you read my minirant. I refuse, now and perhaps forever more, to panic about the Ebola epidemic on the continent of Africa and the potential crisis that Europe, and America and all of the other corners of the globe will be facing as the experts scramble to try to confine and treat this strange virus.

Yes, I know this is big, but

I would like us to, for the most part, to shut up and let the experts work their magic on the topic.

Please don’t leave comments in my box or anywhere in my life that are political or argumentative on this topic.

I will delete them without a blink and perhaps even block your ability to comment ever again on my blog.

Let me explain….

Sports are not my skill or interest, but smart is my skill. In addition, kids and language are my thing.

Worry and panic and anxiety are, unfortunately, a daily shadow in my world and that of many of my family members. In my case these tendencies are somewhat due to genetics, yet more so because I am a sensitive soul, very introverted, and a creative thinker.

But I am not now, or hopefully ever going to go into a full panic about Ebola.

Please, please know that I understand why people – media, friends, family, strangers – are fantastically concerned. It is a reasonable concern. America hasn’t had a plague in a while.

But here’s what is making me angry at the moment on the topic. In a nutshell…

A few weeks ago I started hearing my son and his friends converse about Ebola. They were also trying to beat Brazil at soccer on a video game and I started overhearing what I think may have been the beginnings of sorting through predjudicial comments at school tied to the topic. For sure, they were talking in boy code about how frightening the Ebola news is on top of figuring out how to avoid acne. At one point they started argueing a bit about what country is where on the globe. In true boy form though, two seconds later they were teasing about who’s family came from a stronger and taller ethnic background. I had to kind of laugh when I heard them consoling each other saying – “Bro, don’t worry, it’s just in South Africa and that’s pretty far from Iowa.”

This was a real consolation – I heard that for sure. It was a quick, “let’s just wash our hands and not worry about it guys” plan of action.

The other day they stopped back over and I caught them in the back yard using far too many garage tools to create some sort of back yard civil war reenactment or something along those lines. I found food and soon they were inside and back at international soccer competition by way of XBox.

Thank God my oldest son was doing most of the cooking because I was exhausted. I was siting in the BigSoftChair and trying to do homework and one of the guys launched into a list of who is your favorite “XYZ” sports figure questions and I was proud to have one for each sport listed. (Kareem, Pele, William “Dummy” Hoy and Derrick Coleman). If they had asked about golf I would have said Uncle Norm.

Anyway – it was a good time. They asked me to teach them some sign language and enjoyed a minute of bragging to me about all they had conquered in middle school thus far. I hadn’t seen these two kids in several months and was a little bit floored by some sprouting facial hair and nearly six-foot status. Impressive at barely twelve years old.

But – back to reality – is it appropriate for Twelve year old boys, changing voices or not, to be exposed to more than what is reasonable concern about Ebola?

No.

A million no’s.

Should I have done what was my instinct when I was finishing up the meal and heard some comments that seemed prejudicial about “them” at school? I felt like dropping the salad bowl to the floor and launching into teacher mode. Had to really try and hold back and not be an embarassing cranky mom.

My ears weren’t hearing all that they were saying and my stomach was growling like a mountain lion at the time, but I’m certain I heard a “them” comment from the kids. It was some how on the tail of another Ebola chat and seemed to refer to African-American kids in their school. Again – it could have been that they were talking about how short girls have cooties and bright orange tube socks are the new black, but still. My anntena perked up.

My youngest son is passionate about a lot of things, but diversity and equality is at the top of his list (along with dogs, basketball and BBQ ribs). His dad and I both love history – his dad more than I, and we do a lot of pondering in terms of African-American history. We are white, but grew up in small towns that were stations on the Underground Railroad. As a result, this son is a history and civil war buff and has already been known to wrangle on diversity topics with his peers.

I’ve had a packed several weeks as my studies to become an American Sign Language Interpreter or an advocate for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has ramped up and become a challenge. This is a good thing. I have fallen back in love with a language that used to be a constant on my brain. I haven’t had time, or to be honest patience, with Facebook threads on anything other than photos of my nieces and nephews.

But,

this week, right around when I was trying to sort out if I should follow-up and ask my son if there is school smack talk about Ebola and ethnicity that is getting on his nerves or….

just roll with his reports about basketball season that has just started,

I started to see Facebook Memes and commentaries that are not funny about Ebola. I assumed that stupid comments would soon be flooding social media about my all time favorite presidential first lady who OWNs her awesome waistline, but jokes about intentionally funneling an epidemic into the Whitehouse?

No. Back off. Hold the phone.

And no. I won’t tolerate that.

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Abe selfie

Yes. I know. I’ve been told. There are a million and one ways to create the perfect Facebook filter – block this person, hide that feed, unfriend, refriend, IM, hide and filter my stuff.

Ignore, ignore, ignore.

(that thingy above Abe is an antique hearing aid by the way).

I’m trying to keep up with all of my options and create the most calming yet informative feed possible.

Once again though, like many of us, I feel like just leaving Facebook altogether. I do need to stay connected to family and all of the supplemental readings for my classes are shared videos in a private FB group, so I need to stay connected there on some level.

I’m being told that there are ways to not go through the drama of “unfriending” and just hide someone’s posts and then still have the ablitiy to stop by their page and check on their photos or have a quick instant message chat.

But, you mess with my sons and you mess with me, and I am already fed up on this particular side spread of predjudice and political garbage as a result of this immunology international concern.

At any rate. That is my rant.

And here is my recommendation if you aren’t sure what to do about this news that is in our every headline:

GET A FLU SHOT.

get a FLU SHOT.

Go GET a flu shot!!!

(and read this great article sent to me by a cherished friend who is a lauded expert in Pediatric immunology and related international concerns:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/15/opinion/frank-bruni-scarier-than-ebola.html?_r=0 )

We all have immune deficiant folks in our lives. Grandma, new babies, a friend with cancer or arthritis. Did you know that viruses are one of the top causes of hearing loss? Quite often the loss can be profound and permanent. Strange eh?

So spend the 25 bucks and reduce all of our worries please. CVS is currently giving a huge coupon along with it and our grocery store is giving away free gasoline.

And then do whatever it is that you do to try and manage stress and anxiety. Two minutes of kitchen dancing, an hour of screaming at the Steelers (against them preferably and in favor of the Bengals) , a triple scoop of ice cream – do it every once and a while. But when you are done, I ask you kindly to think long and hard about what you are saying in front of young children about Ebola and African plagues and immigration. I’m talking about in your house, AND in the grocery line of strangers.

This generation has enough going on as it is.

Don’t pity them that “this” is their world –

please protect them by managing your anxiety

privately amongst adults

or in your journal or with your pastor or,

Yoga instructor or Family Physician.

If you have stuck with me thus far on my ramble, thanks. I feel better now. A lot better. I miss having time to blog! It is fun for me.

As a token of my appreciation check out this adorable video about the excitement of the start of school :

http://d-pan.org/videos/dpanvideos/whitestripes/

Or this one about a little girl named Tamara who loves her mom to the moon and back again:

http://t.co/496jMBSB6D

Have a great weekend. Peace! Kate