Sunday, September 30, 2007
I saw this type of badge on Stacy's blog and thought I would try it out. Interestingly enough, 13 years ago I tested as an INFP, but my Thinking/Feeling component was very borderline. I think that becoming a mother has required me to shift my brain circuitry a bit; I need to be more analytical in my thinking. Then again, this is only a little on-line test and not the full Myers-Briggs test.
I thought the multiple intelligences thing was interesting. Perhaps my intelligences are not that multiple! See those three at the bottom of my list? They are probably the top three on my son's list. That makes life interesting. Also interesting is that the level that is the lowest, so low that it didn't make it onto the badge, is "Interpersonal Intelligence". In other words, I don't know beans about how to relate to others. How's that for a grand self-esteem boost?
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The mere word, "art", has left me with a yucky taste in my mouth.
But recently I have realized something: I am an artist!
Forget any medium that can be seen; that's not for me. I realize my two artistic avenues are words and music.
I suppose that should not be such a huge revelation, but just like the issues I've had with math, the issues I've had with art have gotten me fixated on the visual. Even though I am arguably the best finder of lost objects in this household (exception made for St. Anthony, but I don't think he actually resides here), I am not a visual person. I sense clutter, but I don't see colors or shapes or patterns, or at least they don't interest me much to the extent that I do see them.
Others, like Donna, write about getting lost in artistic creations. I have been realizing that I can similarly become swept away when I am writing (hence some rather long posts sometimes), or when I am listening to or playing music. I was listening to some CL music the other day shared with me by dear Suzanne, and I thought of the words of a Rich Mullins' song: something to the effect that your heart can get so hot inside your chest it is like it will burst with yearning. That is what art does, isn't it? Allows you to touch beauty so that you are moved, inwardly? I realized it isn't only the words of a song, but it is the melody, how the guitar is played, how the voices interact; it is beauty that moves me beyond words.
Perhaps it takes an artist to appreciate art. I know that my own musical talents are limited. I can play in a certain style, and that's it. I have no classical training; heck, I have no training, period. No jazz training, no soul, no folk, no rock training. "Frunk" is what I called it as a teen; I thought my style was a mixture of folk, rock and punk. The "punk" was just thrown in because it was the '80s, I think.
Writing as an expression is something I have worked at since I was able to hold a pencil. It is a bit harder to think of writing as artistic expression, because I also use it to create grocery lists or blast off a quick email. I think I need to explore writing poetry. What has stopped me there is this sense of poetry as so impractical. It is my left brain calling out, trying to reign the rest of me in. "What good is it?" the analytical recesses shout.
I have a minor in Philosophy. An aspect of my undergraduate Philosophy studies that sticks with me powerfully is how, in my Intro. class, my professor summarily skipped over the section on Beauty and Aesthetics, making a five-second comment about how we weren't going to bother with that. Talk about being scarred for life.
So, oh yeah, one more thought before my musings have me entirely swept away. (Ok, left-brain, you can stop cowering in the corner now.) Cindy mentioned recently on the Unschooling Catholics list the annual Nanowrimo challenge. November is "Write A Novel In a Month" month. Seeing as how I will turn 40 during this year's challenge, I am strangely drawn to this challenge. Strange, because I generally am carving time merely to blog from hours that properly should be spent sleeping. But drawn, nonetheless.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
What really hits home with me most significantly is the call, the need, for us as Christians to be focused on God's call and aware of how our culture lulls us into a variety of subtle practices, subtle beliefs, that erode not only the sanctity of Sunday, but sanctity in many other areas.
For a few years now I have been thinking of the phrase "Whole-Life Pro-Life", and how it relates to common cultural practices that subtly erode the sanctity of human life. A most prominent example of this would be child discipline practices that show no respect to children. But other things that come to mind are children being routinely whisked away from moms in hospital delivery rooms, pressure to bottle feed, pressures for separateness between parents (especially moms) and children, etc. All these things (and many others) seem to sow tiny drops of tarnish over the natural bond that preserves love and life.
It is not that I want to make rules and laws for others to follow to meet my standard of being a good mommy. But I want to look at what I choose and why, what I encourage others to do and why.
And, I think Sunday observance is similarly subtle. What is not needed is legalism: rule-following for the sake of the rules. Rather, what it boils down to for me is acknowledging God's role in my life: He IS, and I am dependent on him, and effort is required to preserve my awareness of His grace that draws me to Himself and makes me me. I come back to the thought of Fr.Guissani of CL. I need to know my dependence on God. I need for that dependence to be the most real awareness. And because I am human and prone to forgetting (and forsaking), I need Sunday to bring me back. And because I am in a culture which actively discourages awareness of my dependence, I need to have vigilance. My need is not for rules but for conscious acknowledgment that, YES, there are more productive things (or enjoyable time-frittering things) I could be doing rather than spiritual reading or works of mercy or sharing my life with my family and Christian friends. But I need to observe Sunday, not just because it is a commandment, but because fulfilling that need is part of what makes me live.
The same theme has arisen for me about tithing. There was a second letter to the editor in our diocesan paper (besides the one the previous blog entry is about) concerning tithing. It again really struck home for me, after all these years of hearing Protestants and Catholics talk about tithing. I need to tithe more than the Church needs money. I need to concretely express my dependence on God. What is more I need to make a blatant, positive action to break my dependence on money, on the system of this world as the source of my meaning, my security, my point of reference. God is my point of reference in this world.
So, yes, I am convicted. The interesting thing about this type of conviction is that it is not something for me as an individual. It is for my family. (Is my husband reading this?!) Actually, we've already talked about it quite a bit. But *I* can't just decide that things will be different for me; it is a family change that needs to be made. The image of Jesus in the gospel saying he is like the hen who wants to gather her chicks (Jerusalem) under her wings comes to mind. A hen is a mother, n'est pas? This seems to be a mother's role: to gather together and herd, for lack of a better term.
Practical questions arise. Challenges. Part of what I feel called to do is to invite people to our home more often on Sundays. As I told my husband this evening, I love people in theory. Even in reality I do enjoy people, given the right setting. But it is just that giving myself to the hurdle of "ok, I will do this, I will finally invite those people over I promised two years ago to have for dinner..." Yeah, it's all about dying to self.
Check back with me, will you, and keep me accountable to this feeling convicted?
Saturday, September 22, 2007
You need to scroll to the last of the four pages this link brings up, page 8.
This is my response:
This is in response to Michael S. Davis' September 21 letter to the editor regarding why some Catholic parents choose homeschooling over the Catholic school system. I appreciate the invitation to dialogue on this topic for the sake of greater mutual understanding among Catholics in our diocese and especially in our city.
I must take issue with a few points Mr. Davis makes. First of all, he states that homeschooling grew out of an Evangelical Protestant move away from secularism in public schools. This is not entirely accurate. John Holt, just to name one of the best known homeschooling pioneers, had no particular religious perspective. He drew attention to basic educational benefits to be found in removing children from the structures of schools and freeing them to learn without the interruptions of bells, schedules and other limits on how or when ideas can be explored, or other unnatural structures made necessary by trying to educate large numbers of agemates at one time. Christians drawn to homeschooling as a safeguard against secularism in public schools are but one sector of the movement.
Secondly, I believe it is a complete misapplication of terms to call the diocesan school system “the official teaching arm of the bishop's magisterial authority”, to quote Mr. Davis. The role of the Bishop as Teacher is in the context of being “endowed with the authority of Christ to preach the faith to those entrusted to them” (CCC 2034). Academic instruction is quite another matter. While Bishops are charged with operating Catholic schools (this became a burning issue in the US when public schools had a blatant anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant bias roughly a century ago), participating in the Catholic school system is not a matter of morality that binds the conscience of the faithful. Canon law states “[p]arents must have a real freedom in their choice of schools” (Can. 797). And further “[p]arents...have both the obligation and the right to educate their children. Catholic parents also have the duty and right to choose those means and institutes which, in their local circumstances, can best promote the catholic education of their children” (Can. 793.1). There is no statement in canon law nor in Magisterial teaching regarding an obligation to enroll children in Catholic schools, only to ensure that children receive a catholic education.
This begs the question: What is a catholic education? Speaking for my family, our educational choices reflect no judgment against the faithfulness of our local Catholic schools. Rather the choices arise from knowing my children's needs most intimately, from prayerful discernment of my role in helping my children grow in virtue and wisdom, and from embracing the principle of subsidiarity (CCC 1883), to name just three motivations.
As for “the homogeneity of the home-school experience”, Mr. Davis would only need to spend an afternoon in our home to learn how the innate differences among our family members make dealing with those who are different from ourselves a most pressing daily task! In fact, this task is the richest educational resource I know of for true and deep formation in the Faith (please see CCC 2223). I am most puzzled by his worries that children are being taught the Faith by their parents at home (not to mention how this somehow is linked to fashion choices). Religious educators will tell you that if the parents do not practice the Faith, no amount of religious education in schools or parish programs is likely to have significant impact on the children. I would be much more concerned about those who feel their faith example is unimportant because their children “get their religion at school” or at PSR.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
But keeping that line supposedly meant I was descended from Rev. John Robinson, the pastor of the congregation that left England, moved to Leyden, Holland, and later came to the New World on a boat called the Mayflower. Rev. John sent his congregation ahead of him and died in Holland, but his son Isaac emigrated some years later and was the patriarch of a large Robinson family in New England.
But he's not my ancestor. :-P
So in reality I'm descended from some ordinary, non-famous Robinson line.
Hmm... Maybe I still have a shot at being related to the famous Mrs. Robinson of Simon and Garfunkel fame! Ya think?!
Monday, September 17, 2007
Twenty years ago I called what happened to me receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I don't suppose I'd choose to call it anything different today, although I do feel I understand what transpired a bit differently than I have at various points in the past.
I was a college student, and I had been spending a few months in the company of some friends who came into my life in an odd way. I'll spare the whole story, but there was this ex-con turned con again that I met through a misplaced phone call, and his girlfriend. Then there was a woman from my Lutheran church who I later discovered to part of the underground charismatic movement there. These new friends introduced me to the teaching that charismatic gifts were valid and available in this age as in the early church. I came to be convinced, intellectually, that they were correct. But then one of these friends experienced these gifts herself, which served only to confuse me. I couldn't figure out why "something happened" to her that wasn't happening for me. Agitation fortunately led to prayer, and prayer led me to buy a certain book which walked me step by step through praying to receive this gift myself. And I did.
What I see clearly in hindsight is that I had no concept of asking God for things and actually expecting anything to happen. Receiving from God was not part of my spiritual practice at the time. This was probably the first time I had ever prayed in a way that said "God, I believe you promise x, now I am asking you for x and I believe that you want me to have x and I receive what you give." It was a formula that was so necessary in my life at the time. Passive notions ruled me about practically everything in life. I had no mental framework of actively reaching out. I wonder sometimes how I lived that way.
This was a powerful experience, there is no doubt. In essence I was opening for the first time the "box" if you will containing all the graces of my (infant, water) baptism, and it was like a grace explosion. This happened rather late one night. I remember vividly getting up the next morning, putting on my best dress and going down for breakfast in our cafeteria. One of my professors was there, and he commented "My, you look... radiant this morning!" I felt radiant. I felt God in me. I felt electrified. I felt Pentecosted.
Humans like to carve monuments (like Peter's tents) to capture experiences and "stay there". I learned soon enough that even a powerful experience of God is not all-sufficient. We can never "stay there," we can only journey on with Christ. Looking back on the Christian life is never about marking arrivals, only departures. And every day needs to be another departure, another new beginning with Christ.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I just came across this video at Justine's blog and thought it was so hilarious. Especially in light of my post from the other day about numbers of children -- catch the part where the guy and girl are discussing how many children they want. (One dozen, two dozen, three dozen, a hundred dozen... it's no good unless their falling out the door...)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
- Early this morning, one woman discusses the folly of some homeschooling mothers feeling like they can, or should, "do it all". This was actually the theme of the local homeschool support group meeting tonight: How Do You Get It All Done. When I looked at that title I thought to myself, "Easy! I don't!" Unschooling is like cutting a heavy weight off. Really, rather than "doing it all" I think we have to focus on doing what God actually calls us to. That we can always do, because God doesn't call us to that which is unreasonable.
- "You have only two kids[?]" This phrase was re-echoed to me today, and it was still reverberating from the other day when someone else said it to me, slightly different context. It's weird being in a hyper-Catholic area sometimes. I truly don't feel the need to defend or explain (or cry, usually). I accept my life, gratefully, for what it is. I am a Mom to two miracles.
- At the dry cleaning shop today the clerk was admiring my cute kids. For some reason my son pointed out to her that he was adopted. The woman went on about how I must have had to pick him out, and I picked out a really cute one. It made me realize that she, representing an average American, doesn't have a clue how adoption works. My son tried his best to get her to understand his circumstances, that we weren't out to adopt any ol' baby and ended up with him (heck, that isn't something he should need to do anyway!) Do people believe that babies hang out in some kind of a huge adoption nursery and prospective parents come in and say "I want that one"? It made me wonder how often in the course of making a casual comment my words caused great awkwardness for their hearer...
- This afternoon a friend and I were chatting. She asked me, "And what's new with you?" Funny question, that. I think I'll make up business cards with my blog address on it so I give people an accurate answer to that question. Seems to me "what's new" usually involves things in my thought life, but I rarely if ever answer a query like that with the real answer. I intuit that people want to know about my doings. So, my answer was "is anything ever new in my life?" Honestly, nothing came to mind. Oh, I told her my son was starting swimming lessons. I don't usually relate to my "doings" life, unless it connects deeply with my internal life. I guess most people relate strongly to their doings. Maybe this is why I tend to have a hard time figuring out what to talk about with people. When was the last time you asked someone "thought any great thoughts lately?" Maybe I should try that some time!
The safe rule to draw from these considerations, I think, is that one should never direct even the slightest word of criticism toward a mother who brings her young children to Mass.
As one of those Moms, I appreciate the consideration. Frankly, I'm awed when the same people choose to sit near us day after day. It took me years to stop being grumpy with my own children at Mass (Ok, ds as the older got the brunt, but if you know him you also understand how that could happen!). The many words of encouragement I've heard are very validating.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I love going with the flow of each day!
I was intrigued both by the post and by the comments left on it. She states she is being purposefully vague on what you might call her political affiliation where life issues are concerned. I don't mean this in a derogatory way, but I would lump the post and commenters with the label "mushy middle". (I have an affinity for labels in lots of areas of life, but not political issues... but that's another post.) By mushy middle, I mean those who are, for the most part, personally opposed to abortion, but do not necessarily espouse one view on what to do about abortion.
Her post makes it clear that she believes life in utero is real human life. What I find very interesting is that her biggest complaint about pro-lifers (hmm, is that another political label?) is her perception of arrogance and hypocrisy among the ranks. She sees Christians who are willing to condemn some women as bad for desiring abortion (or simply for going through with it, even when they are being pressured into it and don't desire it). She sees Christians who talk about abortion being bad but who are unwilling to adopt babies who are "less than perfect", and not white. She sees Christians who are just so self-righteous that they have not even begun to understand what a woman is going through who is facing this hellish situation.
So many revealing points to me here. First, I agree that arrogance and hypocrisy are loathsome. They are the antithesis of Christ because they are extremely unattractive (unless a fellow practitioner of them wants dark fellowship). I know from first-hand experience that those who profess Christ sometimes exude these ugly traits to a far greater degree than they exude Christ. What a revelation that simply repenting of our own sins, confessing them, being cleansed of them, can have an impact on literally changing the world! If no one saw arrogance and hypocrisy coming from one professing Christ, what a different impact we would be making.
Secondly, this makes me think of how Catholics are sometimes generous to a fault with our separated brethren. We dare not take for granted the riches we have in the fullness of the Catholic faith. Before I became a Catholic, I had a few Catholic folks tell me that I didn't really need to convert, that God accepted me as His child just as I was. They just didn't get it. I was starving for what they had, namely the Eucharist, the Sacraments, and the life of the Church family in its fullness. And they just saw (rightly) that I was also baptized and was Christian. Brothers and sisters, our separated brethren suffer because they have to make do without so much of what God has to offer all His children. Mother Theresa said something like "it is a poverty to accept that a child must die..." and yet some of these commenters were saying that, as bad as it is, sometimes a child dying is really the best thing, because we can't seem to come up with anything better to offer. That is a poverty. That is suffering.
I think I have been blessed in my geographical situations to have always had the Catholic influence in my pro-life outlook. In the Midwest, Catholics have led the way in pro-life efforts, and therefore I have never experienced pro-lifers as those who just want to yell and make people feel guilty, but people who were also ready to open their homes, their lives, their bank accounts to women and babies who had been saved from, or scarred by, abortion. Not to say that all the good examples I've seen have been Catholic -- by no means. But ironically, this was the face of Catholicism that offended me the most before my heart changed. Because I was one of those arrogant (read: deeply wounded and trying to cover it up) people who thought anyone who was going to help someone should first "get them straightened out". I hadn't yet experienced the fact that it is Love that transforms, and offering love to those in need is what we must do.
And that's what it boils down to. If we treat all people with love and respect, we really will end abortion.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Somewhere shortly after he began to look at me with upset in his eyes. He was busily counting his fingers, would find the right answer, but forget it as soon as he said it. Then he would forget how to write the number he wanted to give as the answer. In just a few minutes he was miserable, feeling terribly stupid, and feeling like he hated math.
Oh dear, I thought.
Now, being of the unschooling mindset I really have no agenda of him accomplishing that workbook, or any workbook. But I know he loves math and numbers. And I know that I relate to learning math facts as quite a bit of fun, but he doesn't. So (again, being of the unschooling mindset) I told him I really want to understand what makes math fun for him and what kills the interest.
So I posted to a yahoo group I belong to for "creative homeschoolers" which emphasizes learning with right-brained kids.
What resulted was quite a revelation about my own attitudes toward math.
When I was in the early primary grades, we did lots of timed tests. I remember really loving these. I loved the thrill of racing through them to get done before the time was up. I wasn't too concerned about getting all the answers right; what I zeroed in on was beating the clock. I did manage to learn my math facts along the way.
In middle school we had a test for advanced math placement, and even though I didn't make the cut by test score, my teacher believed I should be in the advanced class, so in I went. We did independent study books. Again, my goal was to race through the suckers as fast as I could! I recall that in one particular unit I scored better on the pretest than on the posttest. I didn't always do all that well; if I didn't already know the concept I more or less blew off the chapter and wrote down something to finish it. I either had little interest in learning any math, or was put off by it as either boring or difficult or both.
I adored Algebra, and had a teacher who required us to show our work for each step, which made a lot of sense to me and really helped me nail the understanding. Geometry I wobbled through, but never really understood much of it. Trig. I sort of enjoyed, even though I sometimes did very poorly in it, and I do recall laying in my bed some nights completely stressed over how hard it was. I had a love-hate relationship with it. Advanced Math was the last class I took, as a Junior, and although I can't tell you too much about what I learned, I know I did sort of enjoy it and got good grades. Those awful story problems though!
But then I was DONE, and intended never to look back. My college and graduate studies were in humanities, and I was never again required to touch math. Suited me just fine.
First of all, I see the aspects of math I liked are very unnatural to right-brained, creative, visual thinkers. Memorizing facts, painful. Timed tests, no thanks. Going step by step to reach a solution; who needs it. (These observations gleaned mainly from the book Upside-Down Brilliance, confirmed by the aforementioned list.)
But I realized that for me, this is what math has been reduced to. In many ways, I have not matured beyond my 7 year old self when it comes to doing math. I still balance my checkbook doing subtraction exactly as my 2nd grade teacher taught me, which is to strike out the number in the tens column, write the number one lower above it, carry the tens to the ones column, and subtract. If I think hard I can come up with 45-7 in my head, but I will probably still double check it by working through the steps.
So imagine my surprise when women on this list suggested games like Set. "That's math?!" I wrote back. I play Set quite frequently, but think of it more as a pattern or logic game. Well, patterns and logic is what math really is, they told me. Really? You don't say.
Essentially many suggested I need to deschool my mind about math and realize how it exists in things like art, music, even poetry. Of course now that I think about it I see what they mean, but I've always found those things to be deeply intuitive (like a sense of rhythm or the ability to see what patterns are pleasing to the eye -- the former I have, the latter I don't) and math definitely has not been in my intuitive category.
The DVD The Joy of Thinking was a recommended resource (for me, not for my son). I requested the first part from the library, and look forward to it. I hope that as I begin to see math as more than memorizing a few facts and trying to be fast, or as some subject I took in school but can't tell you beans about today (or as knowing how to use a calculator), that I will be in a better position to help my son explore and enjoy the world of math on his own terms.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I thought it was Anna at Coffee Is Not Navy Blue who tipped me off to this book, but if it was, she deleted the post. Anyway, whoever you are, thanks for mentioning this book. I requested it from the library and have been trying this author's approach for keeping my curly hair curly. So far, so good. A few weeks ago I had what must have been one of the worst haircuts I've had since an obvious misogynist made me look like Annie Lenox, minus the orange, when I was 17. I am not shorn, but this last haircut was more of a thinning, and a severe one at that. She also left me with one thick shock of hair right on top, lopped to about half its previous length. So I could pretty easily look like a rooster if I used enough mousse. My hair is somewhat forgiving, though, so even though it was traumatized it doesn't really look it. And it all grows back eventually.
But back to the book. It really is a celebration of curly hair. It may sound irrational or silly to someone whose hair has been straight or nondescript her whole life, but my hair has been a significant factor in my emotional well-being for almost as long as I can remember. The book is interspersed with testimonials from women who told stories of being called "Brillo head" in school (yes, that one and "Fuzzy" were names I heard). Even in my own family, and coming from my own mouth I heard that my hair was "a bush". And it often was! My 8th grade picture has me sporting basically a huge Afro. Half the difficulty was having no real idea how to make my hair do anything other than be wild.
I've gotten better with the whole situation, but I'm hoping this book's tips will help with the last challenge, which is to get my curls to stay in tact even when winter strikes or when I don't exactly have scads of time to care for my hair. Some tips I have more or less known, but not always heeded: no combs, no brushing, scrunch in gel from the ends up, no dryer. Her one big thing which sounds weird but seems to work is to never (or rarely) shampoo your hair. Instead, to wash it with water, use exfoliating scrubs on your scalp weekly, maybe a purifying tonic (lemon juice), and use a good conditioner for moisture.
My daughter has inherited my curly hair, and I wish for her to be free to enjoy her curls without the anxiety and lack of skill I had.
My chiropractor asked me today if I'd gotten a perm. I guess it must really be working!