Monday, November 29, 2010

private ritual

This Thanksgiving, after all the eating and football and more eating (etc) our family had a bonfire. (We do that. A lot.) Once the initial 20 ft conflagration (yep, we use gasoline) had turned into a nice glow, my mother surprised us all by pulling out the Black Belt.

This belt is a heirloom from her side of the family. I don't know how many generations it goes back, but it's sole purpose was the disciplining of children. A thick leather strap, folded over on one end for better grip with sufficient length left over for the whacking of bottoms. As the oldest child I remember getting whacked quite a bit.
(My folks had mellowed by the time the younger ones were getting into their trouble, not nearly so much whacking going on then.)

So my mom surprises us all, by pulling out the long unused Black Belt... and after a few words, throwing it on the fire.

This was her ritual for us, a gesture of reconciliation, of apology, asking forgiveness, and a hope for healing. It was very powerful.

I don't believe in magic, or gods, or fairies, or angels, or answers to prayers. But I DO believe in ritual. That in our animal brains, we respond to special acts done with intent.

This has been a very difficult week for me and I've been able to find some measure of comfort in my own private rituals. My primary form of worship/ritual involves making marks. It works for me.

I also believe in the ritual of sweat & strained muscles, of beating the hell out of an inanimate object, of writing things down, of creating something, of destroying something. Of Silence. Of reaching out.

What are your rituals?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

holiday season ($#%* again)

oh... yep... Seriously, I had such great plans, THIS holiday season would be BETTER!! I'd have so much MORE CLARITY! Be MORE PREPARED! blah blah blah...

(Here's the blog post I wrote last year around xmas time... I never got around to reading or meditating on ANY of those great books)

It's starting a bit early this year... tiny little conflicts and burdens and me in my studio working on non-holiday-season projects while family and friends are putting together their lists of gifts and assembling recipes... (and shit!! My Son's Birthday is coming up!!! GAH!!!)

I just hate with a passion everything having to do with Black Friday, I am going to practice BUY NOTHING DAY instead... I DO need to figure out what gifts we will give to people.

Handmade gifts (from recycled materials no less) are so cool!!... But I think I'll burn out if I try to go that route. (And I'll probably miss a few deadlines too.)


Can I just donate to a charity for everyone and call it good?

My real problem is: I'm a creature of habit, of routine. And Holidays TOTALLY mess up my routine.

anyhow... CHEERS! {/Groan}

Sunday, November 21, 2010

strong legs

My body is not put together in the most graceful fashion (according to our cultural standards). I used to spend a lot of energy in wishing I had a different shape (usually something long-limbed, willowy, etc) and occasionally I engaged in unhealthy habits trying to force my body to be different than it was.

Yesterday, I biked 109 miles. And I felt strong doing it. I'm not very fast. But there is some hardwiring down deep in my muscles for going the distance: At 50 miles, and then again at 90 miles I felt a second & third wind kick in, and I thoroughly enjoyed reeling in biker after biker on that last brutal stretch to the finish. (Here's the fb photo album w/ a few pics I took during the ride.)

Some years back, while making out with a boyfriend, he exclaimed in a moment of awe "You've got these Thunder Thighs!" He was clueless to the more negative connotation of the term, was merely trying to express admiration for my powerful legs :P (So cute. I married that boyfriend :)

Now I have exactly three weeks to transition these legs from being able to bike 109 miles, to being able to run 13.1. Then six months after that, to run 26.2. (Pretty sure this will be harder than biking the 109. We'll see.)

Anyhow, Yesterday, after the bike ride, I was fascinated by the biker's tan-line across my thighs, and tried to capture it photographically (then, discovered, after a bath, a good deal of that line was made up of dust and grime, RE: second photo).

So here you go. a few gratuitous photos of my strong legs. :P

Thursday, November 18, 2010

what more they could have done

From a conversation between the Head Of The Family and one of us who have left the The Family's religious tradition:

Head Of Family: "I should have done more to keep you from falling away."

One who Left: "....."

The sentiment expressed by Head Of Family seems to be a fairly common one for parents who's children "leave the fold"; this sense of guilt that there was some pivotal thing left undone that could have averted this tragedy.

First of all, I really really wish we could LOSE the language of tragedy when discussing someone changing their mind about something like religion. (Let's keep tragedy where it belongs: when something tragic happens)

Second of all; what more could you have done?! I am wracking my brain for an answer to that one and the only thing thing that comes to mind is "You could have locked us in the basement for life?" Really. Because here's a rundown of a few things that were done to try to forestall any deviation from The Path:

~Carefully censored all books and information that came into the house to make sure the content wouldn't challenge The Path.
~Home-schooled us to insure that Path Unapproved information wasn't disseminated via a teacher/fellow student.
~Made sure that the daily, weekly & monthly routines of our lives were completely immersed in Path Approved activities and people.
~Took EVERY opportunity to testify of the primacy of The Path.
~Took EVERY opportunity to warn of the dangers of leaving The Path.

You did your best to instill your own beliefs and values in us.
You also gave a lot of love and support.
Even though those beliefs may not have stuck, the love and support did. You did all right, don't guilt yourself out over the little things like us being at variance over the nature of the soul, the priesthood linage, or details of eternity.

Two maybe/maybe not relevant things on my mind as I write this;

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spouses and Voting

[updated version now posted at The Exponent]
I've been so busy lately, I was worried that I would forget today was election day so I put it into my calendar w/ alarms to go off and remind me throughout the day (yes, I have missed an election before. /facepalm!)

Turns out I didn't need alarms; I just returned from my local poll. But it did bring up a few thoughts.

Things being so busy lately, DH and I never got the chance to sit down and talk about any of the candidates or the propositions. No biggie. We tend to vote differently on many things so this is not a "making sure we're on the same page" process, it's just a way for us to talk about what's on the ballot.

And that's what was on my mind this morning, the fact that it is OKAY for husbands and wives to vote differently.

Perhaps you feel differently about this; it seems that a lot of couples I know say things like "well, I want to make sure our votes aren't canceling each other out." But.. maybe someone out there can explain to me what is so wrong with that? I mean... that is what VOTING is all about, right? What's wrong with husbands and wives having different opinions about political stuff?

My strong feelings on this are motivated in part because of a memory: One election day, years ago, I dropped by a loved one's house when she happened to be listening to her messages. One of the messages was from her husband; it was a detailed list of who and what she was to vote for when she went to the polls. I was aghast and my horror must have shown on my face because she explained: ".....He knows so much more about these things than I do... he is so much more informed and well read......"

That's probably my issue with the notion that couples have to "be on the same page" when voting. I am pretty sensitive to gendered relationships in marriages, who has the spoken (or unspoken) right to the last word, etc.

So anyhow... I'm curious, how does voting (and political stuff in general) work in your relationships?