Friday, December 30, 2011

Do Me a Favor...

...actually, do yourself a favor. Tomorrow night is a night when so many will be out celebrating the end of the 2011 and the beginning of 2012. Please, make a plan. If you drink, don't drive! If you drive, don't drink! Not complicated. But it does require some thinking ahead. It requires you to think about using an alternate form of transportation such as a taxi, or using a designated driver, or being a designated driver. It might mean that you provide a place for your guests to stay, or that you provide a driver. There are many ways to be responsible.

Now I have nothing against enjoying yourself. I have nothing against those who choose to enjoy alcohol. Personally, I will be celebrating 31 years of sobriety in a few weeks, but that is because I am an alcoholic. I do not begrudge you one sip. But I do want you to think ahead and plan accordingly.

If you drink, please do not drive. I don't care how much you drink, one drink or several. Drinking and driving do not mix.

Lives are changed, destroyed in the blink of an eye. When my husband was killed by a drunk driver not only was my family destroyed but the family of the young woman who killed him was changed forever.

I know, most people think this can't happen to me. The young woman who killed my husband did not think she was impaired when she got on the freeway going the wrong direction and hit him head on at 60 miles per hour.

So, celebrate.Enjoy the party! Have a great time, but have a plan in place. Please.

If you drink do not drive!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Struggles...we all have them

My life is a mess right now. I am in the midst of very trying times. Lost my home to foreclosure, dealing with illness-including these miserable shingles-moving, financial problems, deep dark depression, if it weren't for bad luck, etc. So I have to remind myself of some things. Our lives are lived half in light and half in dark. In Hebrew scripture God assures us in Isaiah(45: 6-7)...

I am the Lord, and there is none else: I form the light, and create darkness, I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

This scripture helped me to understand that those times when I am  experiencing the feelings that I compare to the dark night of the soul, those times were created for my good by Most High God. Now, how can feeling separate from my Creator be for my good? Because it is in those times that I truly have to believe that I would seek my Creator even when I am not feeling like  Most High is there. The times when my prayer life seems devoid and dried up, I can continue in my prayer life, because I know that God exists no matter how I feel. 

In the New Testament sacred literature it seems to me that the followers of Christ were the only one's who doubted. The Romans, the Sanhedrin, the enemies, they knew that here was someone who was going to change everything. But, just as Thomas became forever called doubting Thomas, the followers of the Christ had questions. They were right there with him, they heard what he was saying, they saw the miracles,and yet, we see time and again them questioning and the Christ explaining. If questioning continues even in darkness, the answers must come,though I don't have them right now. So, as darkness must turn into daybreak, waiting on the Most High God must be able to survive the darkness. Sometimes it is just the natural progression of light (activity) and darkness (rest or passive)that is normal in everything.

In Dark Night of the Soul (which is a poem and a treatise on the meaning of the poem) St John talks about the darkness as stripping away the ego. In psychoanalytic jargon the ego is that part of us, the self,serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality.So John of the Cross would say that 'greater is the darkness wherein the soul journeys and the more completely is it voided of its natural operations, the greater is its security'. In other words, the more of self we are stripped of, the more secure we are in the fact that God is out there.That the planet will turn and the light will follow, and growth will have happened as the natural progression of times of activity and rest.

None of us follow the same path in our spiritual growth. Many of us experience many different traditions in our journey. We are asking questions, looking for answers. The Christ said in the Sermon on the Mount, everyone that asks receives. The word used for receive has the meaning of gaining. So those who question gain. Those who can embrace the dark as times of rest and growth can relax and know that the questions that inevitably arise in these times will be answered. So while I am struggling,I have to hang on, continuing to question.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Up On The Housetop...

...this is not going where you think it is. Yeah, I know, this time of year those words will automatically cause you to start humming, and trying to remember the words to the song you learned  back on the playground. But, as lovely as that memory is, and you may well thank me abut the 2000th time it runs through your head today, this is about an entirely different subject.

Up on the housetop, your dwelling is covered by a variety of building materials. There are several different types of roofing materials available. This story will use the name of one of the most prevalent types, but it's not about your roof either. (it's my blog, poetic license, and I am in a mood).Not that I am not qualified to discuss roofing materials, I am the daughter of a roofer. A man that worked for the same Roofing and Building Materials company for over 50 years. A man who fell from our roof on October 31, broke his hip, had surgery, and returned to work on January 2nd, at the age of 82. I grew up schlepping buckets, rolls, bundles, believe me I am qualified to talk about roofing materials.

But, I digress. I do that more often these days.

Today I do indeed want to talk about shingles. But, not the shingles that go up on the housetop...I was just attempting a bit of humor, jocularity as it were. Take my word for it, I can use all of the levity I can find these days. No, today I am writing about the disease commonly referred to as  shingles. Herpes zoster, from the varicella zoster virus that gave me a lovely case of chickenpox when I was in the first grade. By the way, my little sister and I had may have been considered overachievers, as it turned out we had the measles and the chickenpox at the very same time. But, as children do, we recovered, which was no easy feat as those illnesses require different types of treatment!

So, this virus gives you a mild childhood illness-or you acquire it through vaccination- then it hunkers down in your body and hibernates for, oh, let's say 50-60 years and attacks you with a vengeance. What the heck is up with that? One more question for my list!! Now I am no stranger to adversity, no stranger to medical problems, I am a cancer survivor-3 times, 28 years cancer free now- I broke my back in a car wreck, I have a neurological disease that is the most painful disease known to man, but I am not ashamed to admit that shingles has whooped by butt! I have never been as sick as I have been over the last couple of weeks. I will not bore you with the details, suffice it to say that since my head and face are home to the problem there are photos and I think those who make Zombie movies will be interested in buying them.

I will share that I have learned that there is a shingles vaccine. I honestly did not know that. It is recommended for those 60 and older, which may be why no one had mentioned it to me!! Honestly, I am not a proponent of vaccines. I am just a mature old growth hippie, I kept my son unvaccinated-and he has never had an illness that a vaccine would have prevented. BUT, I admit that the prospect of another bout with these shingles has me looking into the vaccine. Since this evil little virus NEVER leaves your body (how rude is that?) the vaccine can be useful even after you have had an outbreak. It is a fairly new vaccine, and I recommend you discuss it with your doctor. One can never have too much information.

Turns out,  that I won't be having the vaccine, I am allergic to one of the components. So, I will just be hoping that my body will not need new roofing materials anytime soon. Believe me, I will never look Up On The Housetop again without thinking about the shingles!