Prepare, Prepare, Get Ready, Get Set

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Prepare, prepare, get ready, get set.

Prepare, prepare, and don’t forget.

This is a special time of year.

Christmas is coming, Advent is here.

Prepare, prepare, make ready, make way,

to hear the story of Christmas Day.

Prepare, prepare, the time has come,

soon we will welcome Mary’s son.

 

I heard this on an online Advent Calendar from Ireland – there are two short audios, both recorded by a young Irish boy and they are both lovely. Listen HERE if you would like.

 

 

 

Reflections on St. Lucy and the “Plus” Sized Women’s Clothing Industry

…in this time of inclusiveness,

why should 80 million women be marginalized?

~ Tim Gunn, Fashion Designer on Project Runway

On the one hand, all I want to do during this month-long break from school is to rest and be lazy. On the other hand – I want to read and do things that have nothing to do with American Sign Language or interpreting.

The first thing that caught my eye on my Facebook feed this week was a short video clip from Tim Gunn, a fashion designer on the reality TV show “Project Runway.” A dear friend who lives at a distance has been helping me to come to terms with my poor fashion self – esteem, so this clip was perfect timing. Last August, just before classes started, I sent him a message that included a plea to help with ideas about how to organize my clothes. We have small closets and I had just finished adding a new bookshelf and organizing my growing piles of school books and materials. My desk and school things are in the same room that I have my closet. So, one day I went on a complete ninja culling marathon. I kept on finding ugly clothes that I never wear. I was stressed about my final and very busy year of classes for the ASL-English Interpreter Training Program that I am working on, so it makes sense that I was worrying about my looks as well.

Its interesting – it only took one hissy fit and one hour of pulling and dumping a pile of every single piece of clothing that I have in my dresser and those items plopped on the floor of the closet  – to know that I needed a friend. I was so upset with myself.

I found item after item that was either: 1: sloppy and huge, 2: impossible to fit into, 3: possible to wear, but don’t make me feel even close to good, or, 3: were totally unflattering.

So, my friend messaged: “We can do this together – do it! Garbage bags pronto!! Send me photos, I want proof that you are doing this.”

So, a few weepy fits later and about 15 garbage bags I started sending him photos.

“Good job, I’m proud of you – still too much shit there girl. Keep on dumping.”

And, it started to get fun, and I started trying things on. My friend, and then also my cousin, started chatting about specific fashion and colors that would work for me.

“You are amazing and I’m so proud!” said my cousin. “Get rid of those thick ass socks and show your legs!” said my friend.

So, the Tim Gunn clip I saw this week? It talked about how unfair it is that larger women’s clothing is not backed by the fashion industry, because it makes the industry less money and it is, well, “not fashionable” to be less than thin and fit.

Because of my classes and being mildly Hard of Hearing my self, equal access is on my mind and a part of my every single day – most often all day long. Then, the other day I stumbled onto some amazing sales at a store for larger sized women and I was incredibly excited to find some work clothes that looked and felt professional. So, the follow-up of stumbling onto this rant by Gunn about how unfair it is for my body type to not have equal access, not just to clothes, but clothes that fit right and feel spiffy – well, it cheered me up almost as much as the heeled boots I found. See for your self what the clip says:

Why the Fashion Industry Needs a Makeover

And what is the connection to the St. Lucy doodles I made a while back and included above? For the Catholic Church, St. Lucy is the Patron Saint of eyes. She was tough and blunt, and legend has it that being her own woman got her killed.

“Rather than accept the hand in marriage of a lover who desired her for the sake of her beautiful eyes, (Saint Lucy) she plucked them out, and sent them to him with this message: “Here hast thou what thou so much desirest; and for the rest, I beseech thee, leave me now in peace!” Nevertheless, as the legend expressly tells us, her sight was restored to her the next day. Her martyrdom, instigated by her rejected lover, was accomplished by a dagger thrust into her neck in AD 303.”

So…there you have it. The struggle is real, and I’m so very proud of my now very bare, but well fitted for the most part clothing collection. Moving on up!

Advent: Comfort

paul Feb 2012 10_837678809_8834739_2072075477_nAbraham Lincoln gives great comfort:

 

“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all;

and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.

The older have learned to ever expect it.

I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress.

Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.

You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so?

And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again.

To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now.

I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.”
Abraham Lincoln

Advent: Open

IMG_0836On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:

“A strong city have we;
he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates
to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.
A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace;
in peace, for its trust in you.”

Isaiah 26:1

 

“…speak my name to

the open skies

share your secret with me

so I can see…” ~ Casey Breves, Speak My Name

Advent: Wait

IMG_6097If this photo by my friend Linda had sound you wouldn’t hear much other than the trains going by on Kentucky rails. You could wait all day, and listen to the birds if your hearing works that well for you, but trains on the far shore and birds by your side are probably all you would hear.

 

I believe in silence.

Growing up in Wellesley, Massachusetts, my playground was the small stone church where my father was minister. I remember riding my big wheel tricycle silently down the blue-carpeted center aisle and that the perfect refuge for hide-and-go-seek was under the altar cloth. Because no one thought I would actually hide there. But it’s the cool silence of that stone church that I remember the most. It was heady and gave me life. It was there that I could escape the scrutiny and expectations of being a child of color and the son of a preacher….

In the silence of my father’s church, beneath the sun-illumed stained glass, I could hear my own voice—it told me I was smart and helped me dream a life worth living. Outside the church, the deafening discord of society told me I was a subordinated person, and someone to be feared…

Our cacophonous world not only drowned out my inner voice, it told other people how they should feel about me and those who look like me. I’m sorry they saw me as a monster…

When I was twenty-five, I found the strength to rediscover my inner voice. It happened at the bedside of my dying father.He encouraged me to see my weaknesses and illuminate my strengths. For the first time since I was a child, I was able to hear the voice of my spirit. It told me what I value and how I ought to live my own life.

He helped me to recognize the noise of the world so I could learn to stop listening to it…

I believe in a silence that allows me to stop paying attention to the world around me and start listening to my own heart.

Most days I find it as I walk with my daughters in the woods behind our home. It’s the church of my adult life.

I tell them I believe there is a voice inside all of us that needs to be heard.

~ I’ve only given you parts of this essay named A Grace of Silence by Andrew Flewelling and can be heard in the authors voice or read in full at this link on the website This I Believe.

Advent: Prepare

wise people2

Trying to prepare these little nativity peg people was my favorite part of Advent last year.

Luke 3: 6

as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

 

Amen.

The above highlighted word prepare has a link to music by George Skaroulis.

Advent: Hope

linda shootPhoto about

HOPE

taken and shared by my friend Linda.

 

First Sunday of Advent

Reading 1 Jer 33:14-16

The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”
Amen.
( the video that is connected to the word hope above contains photography from Jim Crotty and music from Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma)

Is What We (Who are Not Pumpkins) Need Here?

early novThis is the sunrise in Ripley Ohio today.

My stomach has been in knots for several days now – in no small part to the terrorist events in our world – far and near.

For me, my sadness is only in part about the bombings in Africa, and Beirut, and Paris – it’s about noise. Our world is so full of superficial noise. I don’t want that for my grandchildren.

That is not what I want for them. I want more than for them to know that Granny’s new favorite phrase in ASL is “my hear is your heart.” I want more than to teach them to say that to me in silence. I want more than to sing them to sleep. I want far more than to hear their squeaky little voices. I want them to trust the world beyond the front door…beyond the village borders.

I want them to trust the feeling of joy – but if I don’t – how can they? And I don’t.

As I get older I question joy, all….of….the….time.

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Every year at this time I have the same dilemma, one that is shared with the couple of weeks that come before Lent: how will I celebrate Advent this year?

“What do you need this year?” I ask myself – “Where are you hurting? What do you need to deepen? Question? Celebrate? Learn? Strategize?”

Don’t know about you, (you who do the Advent thing that is….) but it’s a matter of setting up routines. Likely, most people fall into the comfort of old routine – pull out or make the wreath, gather a prayer book, set aside a few extra minutes.

But of all church seasons….Advent means the most to me because it is about quiet. I love quiet as a way of life more, and more, and more….every day.

Neurotic am I though….part and parcel of not coming into the world as a pumpkin in a patch or a set of shoes on a store shelf – I worry.

So, every year at this time ruminations are about what routine will be set forth in a week or so for the next month of preparations for……drumroll…

the

                                                          holidays.

This year I’m going to try and write.

My prayers, unless they go in a different direction…will be about abandon. The process of finding work, making friends, committing to a bit of a career shift, and enjoying the luxury and privilege of yet another educational gig – it has softened me. I hadn’t realized how lonely and bitter I’d become because…well,

because I’m not a pumpkin or a shoe.

So, that’s that….here are the flagship words that sit by my desk and tempt me to walk out the door as I do these days….

“What We Need is Here” ~ Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith; what we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.

Lord have mercy.

My First Guest Post, by Paul McCartney

tail cartoonDear Jack,

(of the adorable blog, Life with Jack)

Hey brother. Yeah, if you can get your person to talk to your agent, sure. I’d like to order a calendar for the New Year.

Here’s the thing though.

Last week I was trying to take my person for a walk and she kept wandering around and saying:

“My address book, where is it? I’ll never get the cards out by the feast day. Oh

dear

god!

I’ve thrown it away by accident again…and…”

She’s nice and all, but feasting? kings? wrapping paper, what’s the big deal dude? Know what I’m sayin’? A dash of kibble, burrow some snow in the yard, and a winter’s nap makes more sense to me and my tail.

At any rate. Yeah, if your person has one of your signed calendars left, ask her to save it and I will work on reminding her that her aunt would be delighted to get a late gift.

pax,

Paul