Sunday, December 1, 2013

About a dog...

We bought a house and in 2005 and before we closed escrow we rescued a dog.  She was kind of ugly; black with a white chest, a mixture of lab and pit bull.  She was about 9 months old and had her first litter of four.  She had never seen grass before she met us - she had lived in east LA in a home with no yard.  Before they abandoned her they named her Pinky.  We thought better of it and named her Maggie.

She was incredibly obedient.  She was also sometimes naughty.  She loved us.  She was patient with children.  She adored cats.  She opened up the sliding doors to let herself out for potty breaks (she never closed it).  She only got up on our bed when we weren't home.  She ignored other dogs and people when we went walking and she didn't need a leash.  She ate through six pairs of black flats and one brown pair in the first few years of living with us - and then she stopped.  She had this way of putting her nose down in the grass, especially if it was dewy, and pushing herself through it with her hind legs. She loved the park and she loved grass.  She loved to run after the ball and was so proud of herself when she brought it back.  Every time I sat down in bathroom she would come running and back herself up into my hands so that I could scratch her rear end.  As soon as we went to sleep she would go through the kitchen trash, or the bathroom trash...

I'm sure you have a pet like Maggie.

She drove us nuts and we loved her.

She was killed while crossing the street on Saturday the 19th of October.  Todd was outside gardening and Maggie was with him as always.  The neighbors called him over and she stayed behind.  And then she must've realized she wanted to go with him and started to cross the street.  The neighbors saw it, but we didn't.  It looks like the driver was texting.  He didn't even stop.  Although he did come back a few minutes later.

Todd was worried about her being in pain and came running into the house for help...Clarke, Todd and I ran outside and found Maggie who had made her way over to the curb across the street and put her head between the curb and a car wheel.  She didn't suffer for more than five minutes.  But we are still suffering.  Every time we come home we wait for her to bark or run to us and wag her tail.  Nothing.  I hate it.

We thought to take her body to the vet and I called them to find out what to do.  It was $200 for a group cremation and $260 for an individual service.  I decided to call the Humane Society in Pasadena. They said they would come out, but since we were already driving (our neighbors very generously loaned us their mini-SUV because I couldn't bring myself to put her body in the trunk and our son had the truck) we arranged to take her to them.

We were just a wreck with tears.  We walked in the office and Todd took the lead.  I just tried to hold it together and not make eye contact with patrons picking up just neutered pets or making a new adoption.  We were instructed to take her around back and we were met by two young men who saw her body and suggested a stretcher to move her.  They were so incredibly compassionate and kind.

We realized that we hadn't been charged anything, so we went back to the front and paid the fee ($5.00) and made a donation because Maggie was a rescue dog and it just made more sense to donate to them then the vet.  It felt less selfish.

For a few days we are all in a funk.

One morning while praying and meditating I was just sitting with the feelings and noticing that I was waffling between anger and sadness and feeling frustrated because Maggie drove me nuts and I also love her.

And an answer came so clearly: I drive God nuts.  AND God loves me.

I know you probably figured this out years ago.

It's new to me and I think it's because my thinking is extremely black and white.  If I'm good, I'm lovable.  If I'm bad I'm not.  And it's only about me, not my husband or children or friends, I accept them and love them as they are.  I wonder how they can put up with me for my imperfections and I think that's because I've made up all of these criteria that I usually cannot meet.  There is just a broken place in my brain that tells me all or nothing, either good or bad.  And it doesn't apply to my children or my husband or friends.  I love them and don't judge them as good or bad - I let them be human...

But I don't allow myself this break.  It isn't helpful thinking.  It isn't thinking I want.  And it took my sweet dog to show me that it is possible for me to be loved deeply despite flaws.

I hope this lesson sticks.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June - One Word prompt

It's June!

We are six months in and six months out of 2013 - smack dab in the middle.

This is the time for me when all of the movement I've made in the direction of my best self really tends to slow.  I tend to think I'm not close enough to my goal (however nebulous that is), I'm not moving fast enough - I don't do enough good things...  And, most powerfully, I hear some sort of a voice telling me that there isn't enough time because I'm too busy or I need to sleep.  (Sleeping is something I am really good at because I practice it regularly).

To address these not-so-encouraging voices it's time to find external messages and affirmations and capture those.

Here's what mine looks like from 2012 and the word emerge.  I think it's so helpful to look back at this and see how the word FREE (my 2013 word) was beginning to show up:

As you can see, I used phrases from songs to capture my word and I even made a CD with some of the music I was listening to last July.

I invite you to use scriptures, songs, quotes and even your personal internal dialogue to find phrases that affirm you and your direction in life.  

I will have a form for you to download in the next week or so.  In the meantime, grab a journal and start taking notes.  What speaks to your heart with love right now?  In this moment, what do you want to remember about where you are in your journey in June 2013?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"To Rescue a Soul so Rebellious and Proud as Mine"

Back on April 7th a lesson began.

Some friends called around 3 in the afternoon to say that a "giant bird" was trapped underneath their car and did I know anyone who might help.  Well, I love birds.  One of my dreams is to capture one of the wild parrots that squawk across the sky each morning and evening in this area.  So, I said, "we'll be right over."  Notice how easily I rope my husband into my adventures!

I went prepared with a large towel and a sliced apple.

The bird was a parrot.  And we thought he might have been a lost pet for about two minutes.  After that we knew he was wild because he was so agitated by human attention.  This is a good time to note that my daughter thinks it's anti-feminist to think of this bird as a he.  In fact, parrots' genders cannot be determined without a blood test.  I refer to him as a he because - well...I don't know why I refer to him as a he.  Perhaps because he was so grumpy.  Or maybe I am not a feminist.  I guess I need to think this over.

I tried all sorts of things to lure this bird to safety.  I noticed that his left wing was drooping and he didn't fly very far.  But he could move.  From car to bush to deep in the hedge and back to under the car.  The Authorizer (my dear husband) corralled from one end and I cooed and proffered food from another.  Our friends offered support and ideas - and one of them kept going in the house (deep fear of birds).  Finally we were successful.

Here's a little video right after we caught him:

On his beak is strawberry flesh, not blood.  This was about the calmest moment for him.  He bit me at least fifteen times and broke my skin twice.  Several times I had to hold his beak from the top to keep him from hurting me.  And he was SO hungry.  He at half an apple and 3 strawberries in about 5 minutes.

We took him home and I set him up with bird seed, more fruit, and unsalted peanuts in the shell, which he loves to crack and eat almost as much as my husband.

I called local veterinarians, shelters, and Mr. Google to figure out next steps.  On google I learned more about how to treat the hurt wing.  So I went home and put Grumpy McGrumpster in the sink with warm water and used hydrogen peroxide on what I thought might be a wound - but it was so dirty I couldn't tell if it was oil from the car or dried blood.  It was dried blood.  I mistakenly used a white towel to dry off the parrot and the towel turned brown.  Oh well.

The next day I gave the bird (G McG) another bath and checked his wing again.  He was getting stronger and flying a few feet at a time.  Here's a video of that session, during which he seemed incredibly happy:

Notice how brown his feathers looked when they were wet.  And look at all the yucky stuff in the water - he was much cleaner after his second shower.

After a few more days I took G McG outside to get some air and see the garden.  I put his plastic box on its side to see what he would do and what he did was RUN.  He was out of the box and into the garden in seconds flat.  Knowing he couldn't go far, I thought, "I'll let him play outside while I make dinner."  I put strawberries and peanuts in his box and went inside.  

Our latest Garden Box

An hour later, he hadn't returned and wasn't visible to me, so I went back in the house.  He slept outside that night.

I saw him in the neighbor's tree the next day.  He wasn't any friendlier.  I felt like he was throwing gang signs and he yelled at me a few times.  I threw some peanuts at the base of the tree and went on with my life.  He was happier outside and the weather was nice.

Can you see him?

Throwing Gang Signs

About a week later my husband opened up the French doors to find G McG sitting on one of his garden shoes.  

G McG - still angry

I gave him a bunch of strawberries, which he ate.  

And that was April 15, 2013.  I haven't seen him or heard him since.

I shared this story with my Dad, who lives in Utah and doesn't have wild parrots.  I joked that I was frustrated with the parrot because it was still mean to me and distrustful even though I had consistently approached it with food, affection, comforting words, a warm and safe place to sleep, and treatment for its wounds.

He told me a story in return.

When he was a young man in Fairbanks Alaska he and his friends liked to take a short cut in the winter and cross the frozen Chena River to get to school.  In the spring, as the weather warmed, the ice began to soften.  One spring afternoon as he was walking home from school he saw that a dog had fallen through a soft spot in the ice and the dog could not get free.  To rescue the dog, my father lay himself on the ice, and reached toward the dog.  The dog bit him, hard, drawing blood.  And my dad realized that he could not help this dog because the dog didn't want the help, or was too afraid to accept it.  He couldn't save the dog.

And then it hit me.  

I have done this.

I have reacted with fear or pride or bravado or agitation or 3-year-old foot stomping "By Myself" many times when the Lord has offered me security, succor, affection, hope, alternatives and treatment for my wounds.

On Sunday we sang the hymn "I Stand All Amazed."  I thought this was a hymn that everyone knows, but when I googled it I got the impression it was a Latter Day Saint hymn.  So, here are two videos in case you aren't familiar with it:

Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Conference

Tongan Girls sing I Stand All Amazed A capella

The second verse says: 

I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine,  To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.   That He should extend His great love unto such as I,  Sufficient to own, to redeem and to justify.

This is how I feel today.  


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One Word | May Prompt

Let's find our words in the world around us in May.  That's right, it's time to pull out your camera or your cell phone and take pictures.

What images come to mind right now?

In 2011 my word was EMERGE and I took photos of flowers blooming, the sun bursting through clouds, me walking through a door...

Get behind the lens and let it show you your word.  What do you see?

Note: Mark your calender - May 21, 2013.  We will be meeting a little bit early (6pm) for a photography walking tour.  We will grab some dinner after.

Join the journey - it's not too late!

One Word: FREE | Big News for Kristen

Hello May!

Spring is springing and summer is in the wings.  I'm starting to get energized about some new adventures as I begin in earnest the transition from my comfortable and worn path to a brand new adventure.  That is to say: I quit.  I resigned my full time job.  I told them at the staff meeting yesterday.  It's official!  My last day as the computer teacher for Paradise Canyon elementary school is June 13, 2013.  Wow.  Talk about actualizing my word: FREE!

And the associated emotions?  Joy, fear, hope, curiosity, open-mindedness...did I say fear?  How about worry?  I also have a bucket and a vat of faith right now.  My mind reaches for that adage, "When God leads you to it, He will help you through it."  This decision has been happening for three years now and I am the one who has been dragging her feet.  So, here it is - the gigantic leap of faith.  I quit my job!

What is next?

Monday, April 29, 2013

One Word | April 2013 prompt

Well - this is a late post for the April prompt.  Still, here it is - and it's good as long as you need it.

This month - sometime soon - get out a piece of paper...any size, any color...and write one of the following words:


Write big - fill the whole page (leaving just a little room around the edges).  Write with a marker, a paint brush, a crayon, a pencil.  Color it in, decorate it up, spend some time connecting with this word.

just above the word (or inside, or on the side, or on the bottom) write these two small words:

I am.

Put your piece of paper where you can see it.

Put you and your piece of paper in front of a mirror and take a picture.  Or ask someone to take a picture of you holding your paper with some of these words on it:

I am enough
I am worthy
I am good

How does that feel?  Repeat this phrase every time you see yourself in the mirror, or reflected in a car window, or anywhere.  Try it for a few weeks.

Eventually you will put it in your folder or notebook.

Say a little prayer, or call me if you forget these messages.  I am here to remind and support you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

One Word | April 16 meeting

Tuesday night at the church six of us met to work on our One Word pursuit.

We finished up our January prompt - here's mine...

Most everyone had already finished their vision boards (our February prompt).  I took a photo of mine and put it in my album behind the January  page.  And then we worked on our March prompt by meditating for 15 minutes (or so, I couldn't eyes were closed!).

We put pages in page protectors, page protectors in folders, and we talked.  We talked about the answers we received during our meditation time.  We talked about the fact that it was easy to come up with what we're doing "wrong" and difficult to come up with what we're doing "right."

We talked about sacrificing what we want for so long that we've forgotten what we want.

We talked about being vulnerable, eating well, and listening to our bodies.  Our bodies know what to eat.  Our hearts know what we want.  Our sisters know how to succor us - even when we don't know how to do this for ourselves.

I'm glad you were there/I wish you were there.