Monday, September 28, 2009

Yes, And…

I heard something beautiful while getting ready for Faire yesterday. “Yes, And.” This is the motto of Amy Poehler’s improve group. The idea is that you accept whatever comes at you and instead of fighting it, say “Yes” to it. But you don't just leave it there. Then comes the, “And.” You come back with something of value as well.

Accept what you’re given and then give gift of your own. A principle worth embracing, right? Thank you Amy Poehler.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Phillipa Gregory, Liz Curtis Higgs, Francine Rivers…Historical fiction has impacted the way I read the Bible. Not in a bad way, I think. But stories in the Bible can read very short and flat sometimes. The work of these authors—their digging in, expounding and exploring the characters and times of events I can rattle off in a sentence or two—has helped me to look at my word with a fresh pair of eyes.

For example, last week I studied the story of Tamar. This poor girl. She was a daughter of King David, who was raped by her half brother Amnon and then lived with her other brother Absalom in desolation for the rest of her life.

When Tamar first tells her brother Absalom what happened, his reaction is less than stellar. He says, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." (2 Sam 13:20). What kind of advice is that?! In my Bible study questions, Beth Moore asked “What is your personal opinion regarding the advice Absalom gave Tamar?” And a thought occurred to me. Maybe Absalom just didn’t know what to say. His poor attempt to comfort his sister came out all wrong. Maybe just like today, men don’t always say the right thing.

Absalom didn’t have a speech writer. And who really knows what to say in response to news like that? His later actions showed that he didn’t try to gloss over or minimize Tamar’s pain. He took her into his house. That was no small thing. He later avenges her honor and kills Amnon. Not the preferred way to solve the problem, but you see my point. He cared.

Just a thought. But I think it’s important to remember that, and give him a little wiggle room on his poor choice of comforting words.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time For Three

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. " ~ Laurie Anderson. I think writing about memories can be the same way.

I had the privilege of seeing "Time for Three" for the first time as they performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra last night. It was a great concert, with flavors of everything from Tchaikovsky, to Brahms, to Bluegrass. Tf3 was fantastic. They make you feel as if you've stumbled upon a jam session, and that you're welcome to come along for the ride. They're unique and spellbinding, and it's obvious that they have a lot of fun playing together. The bassist evoked, as I like to call it, "the many faces of Mike Ferrante"...and kudos to any fiddler who can sneak a bit of Beethoven into the Orange Blossom Special!

But while I was watching this:

I was remembering this:

Another trio that merged styles and personalities...and had way too much fun doing it. I would be lying if I said I didn't miss it.

As Dumbledore would remind me, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." There was a time when that picture was little more than a bittersweet testament to a season that has passed, and a time of influence that has come to a close. But now, it's a propelling reminder of the relationships, foundation, growth, joy and hope that time represents. The intangibles captured in that shot still drive me forward. It sounds corny, but every time I see that picture, I remember the heart of the message I want my life to leave.

What an unexpected gift! To remember the fun we shared, the music we made, the barriers we tore down, and the ways our lives were changed in the process.

All on a night when I get to ride in a 2010 Camaro, complete with the Bumblebee package. The best part? A little boy pointing and exclaiming, "Transformers! Transformers!" as we cruised by.

Yep that's me. Still changing lives. (And still with the help of my friends.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Roots and Wings

When my grandmother came to visit last month, we went to go see “The Time Traveler’s Wife” together. It was an enjoyable film. (As an amusing side note, I think my grandmother enjoyed the preview for the Woodstock movie more than she did the main feature. *grin* Crazy woman!) "The Time Traveler’s Wife" was not the best movie I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t the worst either. But there was something about it that stuck with me. Not because there was a huge epiphany moment or anything, but there was something about the story that kept nagging at me. It wasn’t until much later than I pinpointed what it was.

I feel like the Time Traveler.

…especially when my life is in a particularly busy or blurry time. My intersecting and converging interests take me a thousand different directions. Most of which represent a community of people that get to see each other consistently, even when I’m not dissolving in and out at “random.”

The first weekend back at the Renaissance Festival, I had a great conversation with one of my fellow braiders. We talked about how most of us don’t see each other during the year. We also talked about how precious it is to have a relationship with someone where you *don’t* need to see each other all the time, but when you pop into each other’s lives again it’s like no time has gone by at all. There’s no apology needed. You don’t need to rebuild a foundation. Everything is already planted and thriving and ready to go. Those reunions aren’t awkward. They’re celebrations. (Though, don’t get me wrong. There are times when I’m painfully aware of moments I’ve missed out on as a result of my traveling.)

I’ve had a version of that conversation several times in my adult life. Roots. Fellowship that goes deeper than simply occupying the same space or doing the same job. Intentionally investing and caring. Those are the relationships that give us life.

In the movie, the Eric Bana had no control over his travels. That’s certainly not true with me. He also had a tendency to jump to different points in his own history. Much of his time jumps center on his wife. And in the movie, when he experienced particularly catastrophic events, he would travel “home” to the house he shared with his family. His wife and his home were anchors.

In the midst of my conversation at the Renaissance Festival, I realized that I am able to “travel” the way I do because I have such a great home base. I can flit, travel, explore, influence, and joyously bound through life because I know where I can run to if I get tired or scared or overwhelmed.

So to my herd, my family, my tin hats, my fellow anchors…you know who you are. Thank you for being the roots that give me wings to fly.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I’m holding onto it right now. After being slightly derailed all week (really the last two weeks…you can tell from my blogging silence), I was finally on schedule to get all caught up. For me, things usually reach a critical mass of chaos then something kicks in and, voila!...the pieces fall together and I’m somehow back on top.

Step 45 ½ in my catch-up plan was to be running right now while watching SYTYCD. So why am I being a lazy bum and blogging instead? Broken treadmill + dark, unfamiliar neighborhood = no nighttime run. So my 10-mile run will wait for tomorrow. *breathing deeply* But that’s ok. It’s completely in line with the rest of my day.

I love my yoga teacher. Before class, she checks with everyone to see if there are any physical things she should know about. But today, when I met her at the door and she asked how I was doing, I said…”Honestly, I’m a little frustrated today.” And she said to me, “Then there’s a great opportunity for growth.” And with that, the silver lining was found. Then, I promptly changed into my new NBP fitness shirt. Across the back it reads, "Suck it up and quit feeling sorry for yourself.” We had them made for the Baltimore running festival. Ironic right? *breathing deeply*

Back to my awesome yoga teacher. She said something a few weeks ago that really stuck with me. We were doing something challenging and she asked, in the middle of the challenge, “What do you appreciate about this pose?” At that precise moment, I was appreciating the fact that I wasn’t falling over. A few moments later, I appreciated coming out of the pose and “finding my greatest ease.” (Side note: When I first heard that phrase, I remember what my dad once told his jazz teacher. She coached him to “play what you feel.” To which he said, “I feel like resting” and sat through the rest of the song. [double side note: my snarky side obviously comes from my father.] …When I imagine "my greatest ease,” stretching out on a chaise with a good book comes to mind. Not balancing or twisting or contorting in ways that that are supposed to look graceful while being deceptively challenging. *breathing deeply*)

Where was I headed with all this? Ah yes. The gift of zen. Even though my schedule is twisting and contorting me into strange poses, requiring balance and core strength and more than a little concentration…I’m finding what I appreciate.

For example: I’m not running tonight. But I appreciate this quiet moment that’s allowing me to blog, finish some schoolwork, and catch up with a few other things. I appreciate the three cuddly dogs keeping me company. I appreciate that while time may be flying, I’m in the driver’s seat. And more than once over the past two weeks, I’ve been thankful for the roots that give me wings. More on that later…

*breathing deeply*

What are you appreciating today?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Expecto Patronum

Temptation. Happens all the time. Sometimes it’s something small. Sometimes it’s something that takes everything in me to resist. Imagine a contestant on “Deal or No Deal.” In early rounds, giving up an offer of $112,000 when there’s a bunch of big numbers on the board is a no brainer. The contestant hardly pauses before slamming down the cover and declaring “No Deal!” But later in the game, $112,000 seems much more appealing when all the contestant has left is a chance between $1,000,000 and $50… Does he go for it? Will it pay off? Or will he regret it in the morning? It’s not such an easy choice anymore.

Sometimes, the choice to do what is good and right vs. what is good for right this moment (or the temptation to be reactive instead of stopping and thinking for a minute) can be just as hard.

What makes me believe that I can triumph, is knowing that there are people who have been in my situation before and have made the right choice. I can point to the standard example. After all, Hebrews tells me that Jesus met every temptation I have and made it to the other side without sinning. But in addition to the man who lived a completely sinless life, I know of men and women who have met with difficult choices and made the noble decision. I’ve seen people hold their tongues when they wanted to lash out. I’ve studied corporations that have provided for their employees when it would mean a significant cut to profits. I’ve watched friends and mentors grow and conquer temptations that used to dominate their lives.

Knowing that it’s possible for them makes me believe it’s possible for me too.

There’s a moment near the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that illustrates this perfectly. Harry is standing on the edge of the lake, waiting for “someone” to conjure a patronus and save Sirius and himself from hundreds of Dementors. He’s waiting. He knows exactly when it’s supposed to happen, but he doesn’t see the “someone” he thinks should be there. But then he realizes the “someone” is none other but himself. And when it clicks, he confidently raises his wand. “Expecto Patronum!” A stag appears and sends all the Dementors fleeing. When Hermione asks him how he was able to do such advanced magic, Harry answers, “I knew I could do it because I’d done it before.”

Because of the paradoxes and wonders of time travel, Harry hadn’t really done it before. He did it “before” for the first time. But he knew it could be done. He realized at that moment that he had it inside him to do it. And he met his challenge with courage and was victorious. Just as he knew he would be.

What’s awesome is that once Harry produces a patronus for the first time, he’s able to confidently produce it again. (Almost every time he needs it.) Not only that, but he’s able to teach others to do the same. What once was intimidating and insurmountable lies firmly within his grasp. He can approach that particular challenge with confidence.

Expecto Patronum. No Deal. Temptation conquered.

And here’s a thought: When Harry is with Sirius and sees the Patronus, he thinks he’s watching his father. Maybe when I face down temptation, I look a bit like my Father too.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:14-16

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Touch of Heaven

I walked through JC Penny on a whim the other day. (If you need perspective on the magnanimity of this whim, please talk to my mom or sister. It was random, and I can’t explain it.)

My MO for clothes shopping is to load up at the sale and clearance racks, and then hit the dressing room. While I may be very discriminate at first, I end up grabbing a gazillion choices by the time I hit that room. (After all, I don’t go through this process all the time. Might as well make the most of it, right?) Then starts the audition. (You know the process: take off, put on, hmmmm, turn around, take off, sort…)

It was in the middle of this clothing cacophony that I slipped on a black shirt. And it was like putting on a little touch of heaven. Seriously, it stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t realize how rough the other clothes felt until I felt the cool relief of this particular shirt’s touch. (In the other clothes’ defense: they weren’t rough. They were just normal.) It is by far the most comfortable shirt I’ve worn in a long time. I didn’t need to look in the mirror. I didn’t need to debate if this went in the “no way,” “maybe,” or “keep” pile. This one *had* to come home with me.

I want to be like that black shirt. A cool, comforting, refreshing presence. When I touch someone’s life, I want to be so dramatically different from the other clothes that they go “Ahhhhh. I don’t know what makes that shirt so special, but I know I need to have it in my life. Straight to the keep pile!”

A little touch of heaven.