29/52 – Penance

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​Penance is a funny thing. Well, not funny, but you know what I mean. It’s not the stereotypical say one Our Father, and three Hail Marys. It can be that, but it’s not always that. In the times that I’ve gone to reconciliation and received a penance to do it is usually related to what it is that I feel I needed to confess at that moment.

It’s almost never a punishment. Punishment is not the point of giving a penance. Whatever I’m reconciling has taken me further away from G-d, and the penance is supposed to bring me back; set me back on the right path.

After missing a couple of masses, I wasn’t surprised that I was asked to attend one of the daily masses this week. Sure. I wanted to get back to them, but then I realized that this week’s masses are all scheduled for 7am instead of 9. Oh boy. I can do it. I put Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in my cell phone’s alarm, and figured I could make at least one of those.

Who would have thought that Monday morning would have me up so early?

My alarm went off, and I was immediately like who set an alarm for 6:30? Oh yeah.

No snooze. Got up, got dressed, grabbed my purse, silenced my phone, and stepped out of the house. The screen door closed behind me. [I call it a screen door – there is no screen, but for some reason that’s what it’s called to me.] I closed it quietly; everyone in the house was asleep.

I was immediately struck by the cool air on my face. It stopped me, and I stood for a moment, listening to the early morning sounds.

There were none.

The air smelled fresh, the animals were still, the sky was bluish, and I was filled with gratitude that my morning was going to start with mass.

I arrived at church, and this week’s mass has been moved to one of the parish center rooms. Vacation Bible School is taking place in the church. The room is a more intimate setting. There were no missals; it’s hard to remember everything that needs to move over for the mass – the hosts, the wine, water, the priest’s vestments, the Bible, and whatever else is hidden right in front of us during the daily service.

I looked around the room, seeing the usual people who come to the daily mass, but everyone was sitting closer to each other. The front two rows were still empty. You know, you come lat, you sit in the front.

We opened with a song that everyone knew. Everyone sang.

The first reading spoke to me. It was a little depressing, but I was hoping it was coupled with a more uplifting Gospel. Numbers 11:4b-15 was Moses complaining to G-d about the people he was having to deal with. Who of us hasn’t been there? Why me, Lord? What did I do to deserve this? Why are you punishing me? Why am I responsible for these people?

Boy, can I relate! This week is already too much, and it’s only Monday. I have gishwhes. The kids have VBS, which for me is a lot of driving back and forth. I have this website (which I love, and I love to do, but it is most definitely work and a responsibility. We’re planning our trip, and getting everything ready for it, tying up some loose ends. For all the wonderful things happening, there is a stress that is a constant, bubbling under the surface. Every little whine or moan from someone around me grates like nails on a chalkboard, but it also picks at my patience. I really feel Moses’ pain.

The Gospel, however (Matthew 14:13-21), while representing Jesus’ pain of the loss of John the Baptist and his wanting to be alone, he is still there for his followers. He nurtures them as a parent does, putting Himself second to His people. He feeds them. And I have no doubt that as night fell, and the cold air surrounded them, he made sure they were warm. He knows what they need before they ask, and he takes care of it.

He needs his own time, but he puts that aside for the benefit of others.

I’m not that selfless.

But when mass was over, I slowly walked to my car, knowing I would have to turn around and come back in an hour to bring the kids back, and it was good.

It was exactly what I needed.

11/12 – Prompt – Spiral Journaling

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I was inspired by my friend’s tea cup which had an infinity spiral as part of the design at the bottom, and I have been drawing a lot of spirals lately from flowers to coffee steam swirls to spiritual incense, and Celtic spirals, so seeing the inside of the cup really stayed with me all day.

I drew it in my sketch pad, thinking that I’d do something with it later.

After my little adventure earlier in the week, I decided to do a little bullet journalling, but write it in the spiral using different colored pens.

I really liked it.

I mean, I really liked it.

I think I’m going to draw a few spirals and use one each day of my trip to wind down and remember the day while it’s fresh in my mind. At the end of the trip, I’ll have at least ten spirals and a neat little souvenir from my special trip.

The directions follow: Continue reading

It’s the Last Midnight…the last wish…

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​I have it from an unreliable source that this will be the last gishwhes.

I call the source unreliable because it’s Misha Collins, and I’m sure that there is something else up his sleeve. There is also the qualification made that it’s the last gishwhes “as we know it.”

I’m actually kind of happy in a melancholy way; even bittersweet, but the fact was that it was hard for me to pump up my enthusiasm to run around like a lunatic, forcing my kids to help me. I have no one else in my neighborhood to join my team, and that leaves some items off limits. I do tend to focus on the artistic ones, the writing ones, and the kindness ones.

I really liked that last year the focus moved to slightly more random acts of kindness rather than impossible to do crazy ones. I think that Misha put some on that were literally impossible to do, but then people tried them, and he discovered that people are generally crazier than we would give them credit for. Disclaimers had to be included over the years to avoid hurting yourself or your pets or doing something illegal. One would have thought that a participant would have put those under the common sense categories, but nope.

I love my team. I have found lifelong friends in the Brave Little Ants. I’ve found some people who I agree with ideologically and politically, and I’ve found others who I don’t. And that’s the point, isn’t it? We don’t live in a self-contaitned bubble. We need others to survive on this great big blue ball we call ours, and gishwhes was one way to prove that to a lot of naysayers and unbelievers.

Disagreement fosters discussion, and discussion creates education and understanding.

My new friends include military personnel, a gun owner in Texas, atheists, religious people, conservatives, liberals, progressives, married, divorced, single, homeschoolers, teachers, artists, writers, jewelry makers, parents and non-parents.

In our three years, we’ve covered Canada, Denmark, Spain, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Utah, Georgia, Texas, and Missouri.

Our ages ranged from 19-50.

Earlier in the week, I grabbed my kids and put gas in the car and headed on an adventure. I know that the spontaneity of that was directly linked to my years of gishwhes, and how it let me push myself a little farther and become a little freer.

Without gishwhes in its official capacity I’m hoping that it has given me enough confidence that I can continue to create art and be kind. Like a habit, but a much more positive one, like buying coffee for the guy behind you in line.

I’ll miss you, Gishwhes, but I also know that you’ll be with me and within me for the forseeable future.

P.S. Thank you, Misha Collins.

27/52 – August

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August is a many headed beast.

It is still summer, so we’re trying to fit in everything we can possibly fit into a month when we should have really started in June. The  month’s only begun, and I feel as though I’ve lost the fight.

On Monday, my daughter had a doctor’s appointment, and while we were “in the neighborhood” we decided to go to the orchard to find some local jams and such for the hostess gift for my mother in law’s cousins who we’ll be staying with in a couple of weeks. Our summer holiday is coming soon!

Wednesday was a spur of the moment visit to the capital to see the painted dogs. (I’ll share more details next week in a travel post.) We spent the whole day driving around the capital, looking at a map of dogs, and taking pictures and selfies of and with the dogs, replicas of the famous RCA Nipper. This is a good addition to our photo collection of cats, horses, and ballet slippers.

Thursday is therapy and getting my hair taken care of.

Friday, we’ll be driving two hours one way for visiting hours for my cousin’s father who just died.

And then the real busy begins: VBS for the little ones, work for the older one, mass, reconciliation, gishwhes, ministry meeting, interfaith meeting, vacation, geocache meet up, my 23rd anniversary, Marian retreat day, school supply shopping, and a quick family visit.

It’s also hot.

Very hot.

But right now, at the very beginning, it feels endless, and so, so busy, but I know that it will fly by much too fast, especially the vacation and the family visits. We will take a ridiculous amount of pictures, and it will be too many, and still not enough.

I think August is the tangible of time is fleeting.

It’s slow and daunting and never ending until it’s over, and then there’s so many things that didn’t happen or get done, and we wonder where all the time went, but it’s right there on the calendar. I don’t think any other month moves in the waves of heat and smog and thunderstorms that August does, ever cloudy and hard to see through, but then the other side is just there.

August.

It ends before it begins.

I’m thinking of a quote from Carrie Fisher‘s most recent book, The Princess Diarist; the one she published close to when she died. Actually, I’m thinking of two of her quotes among a million equally meaningful and  memorable, insightful. There was so much in that book. The voice of forty years in between was full of humor and sadness, and understanding while that forty years passed by like all the Augusts do. The quotes were about looking ahead, being yourself, and letting others judge you, or rather not letting others judge you. Why do we let others judge us? Why do we care what the world thinks? 

She was Carrie Fisher, and she did. What chance do I have?

“I was always looking ahead to who I wanted to be versus who I didn’t realize I already was…”

“Do not let what you think they think of you make you stop and question everything you are.”

26/52 – Misha Collins

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​Each month I have tried to use one of my new 52 weeks to talk about a person or personality who has been an influence on my life. In past weeks, I’ve talked about the Blessed Mother, Mary, journalist Ezra Klein, artist and author Brother Mickey McGrath, writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer and actress Carrie Fisher, and St. Elen of Caernarfon.

With Gishwhes beginning at the end of this week, I thought that I would briefly introduce this audience to Misha Collins. 

I became aware of Misha through a friend of mine who convinced me to join his gishwhes team, which ended up being all full up. That’s another story, though. Gishwhes is the acronym for its description: the greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen. Misha pronounces it gish-ways; I pronounce it gish-weeeessss.

In addition to Gishwhes being a scavenger hunt, it is also an opportunity to move out of your comfort zone by being creative, artistic, and kind. Part of the fun of gishwhes is trying new things, meeting new people, working together as a team even if you never meet them, and connecting through art and kindness.

Misha’s an actor who I’ve seen several times before although I don’t remember any of the ones before Supernatural.

He’s married and he and his wife, Dr. Victoria Vantoch have two children. They live primarily in California, but also spend a large chunk of the year in Vancouver where Supernatural films.

Misha began the charity, Random Acts in 2009, showing his fans how to direct their energy to  make lives better by doing small, seemingly insignificant things, but that were huge things for the families involved, and of course, as anyone who does any kind of volunteer work knows, it gives great joy for the person on the giving end of things.

Some of the bigger things that Random Acts has done over the years has been bringing hope to Jacmel, Haiti after the island’s devastating earthquake, building a free high school in Nicaragua. Last year, they helped two Syrian refugee families, and this year they began a crisis support network to help those in danger of suicide and self-harm. Sometimes, all you need is someone to talk to at the right time. it doesn’t make it all better, but it does help.

Recently, he’s been involved in political issues like resisting the current Administration’s and Congress’ rollback of civil rights and environmental protections, and encouraging petitions and supporting candidates across the country. Many would say that this isn’t the role of a mere actor, but this is not out of the realm of his skill set. Of course, any member of society can and should involve themselves in politics and political causes, but in his case for the many naysayers out there, he went to the University of Chicago for public policy, and was an intern at the White House during the Clinton years.

I attribute what I did yesterday with my kids directly or indirectly to Misha’s influence as well as my experiences in Gishwhes. I saw a friend’s post on Facebook about something going on in the capital. I thought that it would be fun to visit, and maybe I’d take the kids on Friday or sometime next week. I looked at the clock, pretty much decided to miss church, and go back to sleep when I was jolted. It wasn’t anything paranormal or a voice in my head, but suddenly, I was bolting out of bed, waking my two youngest kids, telling them they had ten minutes to be ready: we were going to church, breakfast at McDonald’s, and then a huge surprise.

They were not terribly put off, although they don’t usually go with me to church, and they really don’t like it very much, but they didn’t argue, they didn’t badger me about what the surprise was, and to be honest, they were extraordinarily well behaved and cooperative all throughout the day, never once complaining about the heat or that they were hungry.

I’m not sure i would have had the energy or the wherewithal to just get up and go like that if I hadn’t been participating in Gishwhes for the past five years. It wasn’t as though I was doing anything crazy; just a little out of the ordinary.

And that’s what I should be teaching my kids. There are times for order, and there are times for spontaneity and surprises. Except for breakfast (and the subsequent parking ticket), this was a free day. And it was so inexpensive that I treated them to another surprise on the way home: 50c Frosties at Wendy’s.

Misha Collins is that bee in your bonnet, Mona Lisa smile, Jiminy Cricket, and he’s the friend who pushes you just a little, but holds on so you don’t fall. And he’ll bring the band-aids.