Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Five: Seasons Change...

It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States, also known as Summer's Last Hurrah. So let's say goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn. (People in other climes, feel free to adapt as needed.)

1. Share a highlight from this summer. (If you please, don't just say "our vacation to the Canadian Rockies." Give us a little detail or image. Help us live vicariously through you!)

Well, we had our big boffo vacation to Italy in the spring, so we stayed close to home during the summer. The summer's highlight was our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, marked by a quiet dinner at home that night, and an open house the following weekend, when 85 of our nearest and dearest gathered to celebrate. The company, food, prosecco, and warm wishes could not have been better.

2. Are you glad to see this summer end? Why or why not?

I'm always glad for cooler weather to arrive (which it won't, for another six weeks or so), but otherwise I'm neither glad nor sorry. For people without kids, September is just another month.

3. Name one or two things you're looking forward to this fall.

I love the cooler weather, when it finally comes. October and November are comfortable and it's a pleasure to be outside then (except for the ragweed!).

4. Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another? (Cleaning of house, putting away summer clothes, one last trip to the beach)

We don't have a sharp demarcation of seasons here, so transitions are very subtle. I don't do anything special to mark the change of seasons.

5. I'll know that fall is really here when_we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner!

I like thinking back to ten or twelve years ago, when there were many young children in our neighborhood. My next door neighbor and I enjoyed standing outside with a glass of wine on Halloween evening, enjoying the cooler temperature and the parade of trick-or-treaters. That neighbor has long since moved away, and the kids are all grown and gone. But in those days, that's how I knew fall was really here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

If you love dogs...

...or any other animals, for that matter, you will probably appreciate Jonah Goldberg's column today regarding the Michael Vick controversy.

"Torturing a dog or a cat for sport is not disgusting because animals have rights, it is repugnant because human beings have obligations. If animals look to us as gods, and we in turn torture them for our amusement, have we not willingly made ourselves into devils?"

Keeping on

I am sure many of you have read the recent articles about a collection of Mother Teresa's letters that is being included in a new book about her (despite the fact that she had requested they be burned). They are poignant in their description of her loneliness and her feelings of being separated from God--feelings that seemed to begin plaguing her around the time she began her work with the Missionaries of Charity. Despite her sense of spiritual emptiness she remained faithful to the work to which she felt called, and the God who had called her.

Some of the more anguished letters are addressed to God, but some were sent to friends. I wonder if or how any of her correspondents tried to help her. Obviously these were people she trusted. How sad to think of her in this deep depression for decades, so alone although surrounded by people, and still soldiering on. As she said, "the smile is a mask". She had experienced God's love for her in earlier years, and kept going when she had only the memory of that experience.

I'm reminded of Job's assertion, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." I don't know whether just to feel sad that someone who worked so hard in God's service had so little refreshment and comfort in that service on earth, or also to be comforted, in a strange way, that she shared the dark night of the soul experienced by so many of God's children. Both, perhaps. If the publication of these letters accomplishes anything positive, perhaps it will be to reassure many people that doubt and, yes, depression are a part of the human condition, not a sign of sin or faithlessness.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hot, hot, hot

Ohhh, we are roasting here. I guess most of the country is, though. The air conditioner was almost nonfunctional in my end of the building today. I took my laptop and tried to work in a conference room up front where it was marginally cooler. By four o'clock nearly everyone else had already left, and I decided I was finished, too. So I went to work out--and it was hot in there, too!
It was good to get home to a cool house, a cold shower, and a happy dog. I am so glad I can keep this old dog comfortable.

And speaking of Amie, I took her for a checkup the other day and found that she now has a heart murmur. The vet told me two years ago that her heart was slightly enlarged, so I guess this means her heart disease is inexorably progressing. He says that if she starts coughing at night we will start her on Lasix. But isn't there anything I can do to help keep her from getting to that point? We already watch her sodium intake, and look for any changes in her habits. She seems to sleep a little more than she used to, but she is just as thrilled to go for a walk as she has ever been.

How I hate to consider that my sweet girl will be gone someday. I think many of you already know how a person can love an animal this much.

I think she loves me too.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday 5 Stress busting edition

Sally says:

I am off to spend a few days at the beach chilling out after a hectic few weeks and before I head off for Summer School... So with that in mind this weeks questions are looking at how you deal with the stress monster!!!???
1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ?

The small stuff has a way of adding up and turning into big stuff, so I guess the answer is both.

2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else) ?

My best self says, exercise. After I work out, not only do I feel better physically, and more relaxed, my mood is brighter because I know I've done something positive for myself. The little devil on my shoulder says, go pig out, then surf the Net aimlessly...but in the long run I feel more stressed after doing that.

3.What is your favourite music to chill out to?

All the early-'70's singer/songwriters I loved in high school and college. Also, old John Michael Talbot albums like Come to the Quiet and The Lord's Supper.

4. Where do you go to chill?

My very own couch, with a magazine or a good book.

5. Extrovert or introvert, do you relax at a party, or do you prefer a solitary walk?
I'll take the walk, every time.

Bonus- share your favourite stress busting tip!

Hug the dog. Hug the husband. Sing. Do all of these things at the same time. (they both seem to like being sung to)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

OK, enough navel gazing.

This is the sort of personality test I'm up for tonight.

You Are a Jam Cookie

On the outside, you project a straight-laced, innocent vibe.

But on the inside, you're complex, exotic, and full of flavor.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The black dog

Recently I've been noticing how many RevGals and Pals have written eloquently of their battles with depression. What makes this such a common challenge in this group? It can't be just that women are more prone to clinical depression (although we are), because some of the people I'm thinking of are men.

Does it have to do with our personality types? There are lots of intuitive feeling introverts around here, but surely not all INFPs or INFJs are depressed. Is it a result of our ongoing battle to keep from being consumed by others' needs, and to acknowledge our own? I don't have any data on whether people who are attracted to the helping professions suffer from depression at a higher rate than others, but it wouldn't surprise me. For RevGals, is it related to the still-ongoing struggle to follow your vocation when some people are telling you that you're wrong and that your call is not valid?

Winston Churchill, who struggled mightily with depression, referred to it as "the black dog". I have felt its teeth, too.

By the grace of God, I've been in a fairly healthy place for several years now. There are still occasional days when I can see the black dog's shadow, or hear it sniffing at the bottom of the door, seeking its prey. But I am grateful that now I can sense it nearby before it is actually upon me, and that those days are few and far between. I am learning to ask myself what is oppressing me and what I need to do, or seek, or ask for, to relieve the oppression. I am thankful for the power of prayer, love, Wellbutrin, and the human experience I've gained through years spent on both sides of the couch.

Can we share with one another some of the things that help us climb out of this pit?