Sunday, June 1, 2014

Oz the grid

It would be nice to tell you that Joel and I are totally off the grid which is why you haven't heard from me in a long while. I can just imagine our little hand-crafted cabin in the woods with functional fairy gardens, small live stock and a windmill spinning around powering our home, but this isn't quite what I mean.

Joel and I have been in a whirlwind for the last two months and really 6 or even 10 if we are totally honest with ourselves. This could sum up that time pretty accurately:


I venture to say that I believe we've landed for now after quite a storm. This is a pretty good depiction of what life has been like the last few weeks:


I have a lot to write about once I find my momentum, but let me just say that we moved yet AGAIN. We are now in a beautiful little house in our favorite neighborhood on our most beloved side of town. We have a garden, a yard, a hammock, two porches...ah...life is really good the an entering Utopia sort of way.

After moving, we were putting off switching over our internet connection. We already live without a TV of any sort so our computers have been our connection to the outside world. However, instead of acting as tools used to inform and transform, our personal computer use at home had begun to erode our lives of living. We both felt a drain like never before and having a few weeks without internet at home had proved to be very healing.

This led to a talk last week and a decision to remain disconnected at home. We have internet at work and spend a lot of the day on the computer as it is. We can walk two blocks to our favorite hangout that has great-FREE- wifi anytime we need it. With that said, it felt like a no brainer- we are internet less.

Since the move, Joel's graduation, the ending of a normal year in ministry, and finally removing distractions from our home that inhibit our rest and creativity this is how I have felt:

                                           


 Sleepy. Even drugged with contentment. Like a baby who is just full of milk and ready for a nap to digest all that has gone inside them...

I've just been so happily tired all the time. Just recovering from months of madness, I believe.

Very soon, I hope to experience the world a little more like this:


...Until the next storm arrives. See you then!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cry-ercise

Every year with my girls small group, we have "Cry Night". Sounds pretty sad, but the girls love it. In fact, they look forward to it. It is designed to be a judgment-free night of  milking toxins out of our bodies.

God designed us to cry. We are the ones who make it awkward and embarrassing. I know, because I am one of those people who messes it up from time to time.

 However, no matter if we like to cry or not, we can't change the fact that crying matters and was designed for a good reason. We cry basal tears that clean out our eyes which keeps them working properly. Our eyes should always have tears in them or we have a problem. 

When we cry we are draining and washing out our eyes. What I find so interesting is that we also cry emotional tears. Some scholars believe that this emotive crying is actually a survival mechanism sprung out of centuries of human evolution. When people cry, other's feel compassion or at least, they could possibly feel compassion. Compassion has spared lives across the centuries. It doesn't take a lot of effort to understand how tears can benefit a complex human being trying to live in community with other complex human beings.

Crying is one of the most vulnerable things we can do in front of another person. You are physically vulnerable because you have just blurred your vision and can't see very well. You are emotionally vulnerable because in our culture we often view crying as a weakness. Those two experiences combined usually are the root cause of most people's refusal to cry in front of others. You also loose some control of your body when you cry. Weeping sometimes leads to squish-face, hyperventilating, high voice, drippy nose and many other unsightly responses. Or is that just me? It is a vulnerable thing to let other people see you like that. All the responses listed above are unattractive, but they all have a useful purpose in the evolution of human crying.

But there is more...

 When you cry, you are actually releasing all sorts of toxins and hormones.  In fact, tears of joy and tears of sadness have very different chemical composition.
"One study collected both reflex (Basal) tears and emotional tears (after peeling an onion and watching a sad movie, respectively). When scientists analyzed the content of the tears, they found each type was very different. Reflex tears are generally found to be about 98 percent water, whereas several chemicals are commonly present in emotional tears (Source: The Daily Journal). First, is a protein called prolactin, which is also known to control breast milk production. Adrenocorticotropic hormones are also common and indicate high stress levels. The other chemical found in emotional tears is leucine-enkephalin, an endorphin that reduces pain and works to improve mood. Of course, many scientists point out that research in this area is very limited and should be further studied before any conclusion can be made."

Crying really is an amazing gift. It cleanses our eyes, our bodies, our hearts and improves our mood. How many of you have felt worlds better after a good cry? That's what makes you do it again and again. Over the years, I've taken to having a cry night a couple times  a year and occasionally more than that if there is a lot of stress in my life. I've called it "milking." Milking is a term used by snack handlers when they pull venom from a snakes fangs in order to make an anti-venom to cure people when they have been bitten. The cry nights that came from months and years of grieving my father's death often felt like milking poison that was building up inside me. It doesn't take much imagination to consider what could happen if I just let that grief-poison linger inside me. Sometimes it is hard to cry or allow yourself to cry. That is why I like the idea of a cry night. You can do it with a friend, you can do it alone, but it is a designated time set aside for YOU to cry.

A good cry is as important as a good run, a healthy meal, a good night's sleep. Crying is healing and perfectly part of God's plan for our majestic bodies.

Recently, a study was done of the physical topography of tears of all emotional degrees. I should not be so surprised by the depth and intricacy of God's creation, but I am simply awed by the photos below. They came from the Smithsonian's Collage of Arts and Sciences. Joseph Stromberg (scientist) explained that the various types of tears contain organic substances including oils, antibodies and enzymes all suspended in salt water. Different tears have distinctly different molecules which makes their physical look very distinct. Check out Stromberg's photos of tears and join me in the the wonder of this evolved creation! Perhaps these photos will inspire you to release some toxins of your own.

Tears from laughing until crying



Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears of change


Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears of grief


Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears from onions


Rose-Lynn Fisher

Basal tears


Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears of timeless reunion


Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears of ending and beginning


Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears of momentum, redirected


Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears of release


Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears of possibility and hope


Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears of elation at a liminal moment


Rose-Lynn Fisher
Tears of remembrance

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Abstract Art Celebrates the Holy Gospels

The fine art world in New York City has stepped into the fine world of religion with famous contemporary artist, Makoto Fujimura. Makoto has given the four gospels a vivid and visual new voice. Check out how he uses an ancient Japanese painting tradition to illustrate the Word.



Monday, May 5, 2014

Tree Ring Record Player


Bartholomus Traubeck took thinly sliced tree truck rings and turned them into records that could be played on a modified record player. What you are hearing is the data recorded from the rings of this Austrian Ashe tree to the sound of the piano. The tune is eery and describes it's whole life. I think this is a pretty amazing project and such a beautiful way to give this tree a voice that perhaps, man might understand.

"A tree’s year rings are analysed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music. It is mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appearance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The foundation for the music is certainly found in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this ruleset very differently."


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Eet



It's like forgetting the words to your favorite song.
You can't believe it; you were always singing along.
It was so easy and the words so sweet.
You can't remember; you try to feel the beat.

Bee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-
Eet eet eet.
Ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-
Eet eet eet.

You spend half of your life trying to fall behind.
You're using your headphones to drown out your mind.
It was so easy and the words so sweet.
You can't remember; you try to move your feet.

Ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-
Eet eet eet.
Ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-
Eet eet eet.


Someone's deciding whether or not to steal.
He opens a window just to feel the chill.
He hears that outside a small boy just started to cry
'Cause it's his turn, but his brother won't let him try.


It's like forgetting the words to your favorite song.
You can't believe it; you were always singing along.
It was so easy and the words so sweet.
You can't remember; you try to move your feet.
It was so easy and the words so sweet.
You can't remember; you try to feel the beat...

Regina Specktor

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pawpaw's Sex Advice

"Would you ever buy a pair shoes without trying them on first?" 


photo by Jacki Harp
This was my grandfather's answer to the question my husband asked him a month before we got married. Joel simply said, "Pawpaw, you've been married for over 60 years, what is the secret to a long marriage?" 

You see, my grandfather is special. He is not one of those old men who is stifled by a world of change. He likes new ideas, he is youthful in spirit and enjoys thinking outside of tradition, especially when it comes to sexuality.

When I was 19, in college with a long distance boyfriend, my grandmother called my dorm room to have a heart to heart with me. She warned me against "giving in to the chemistry of my emotions." She said it was best to wait until you are married before you have sex, because then you don't have anyone to compare the love of your life to. She also mentioned she had some close calls with Pawpaw, but she was proud to say that they waited until they were married to make love. In fact, she does not use or like the phrase "have sex" which she literally make her hiss when she says it. She talks about intercourse by always using the phrase, "make love." She is a pure soul, sweet and kind. Pawpaw thinks of sex a little bit differently. For example, Pawpaw uses a lot of interesting phrases to describe sex that my grandmother really does not care for like, "Going out to the barn", "Flappin' the sheets", and "Trying on your shoes." This is where my story begins.


When my dad died I was 21 and Pawpaw thought that he was going to have to take over where my dad left off. The thing was, Daddy didn't spend any time educating me about sex. His answer was, "no" and that is all that needed to be said. Pawpaw, wanted to be sure I was being properly advised into adulthood. Seeing as I was already an old maid (my grandmother married him at age 19 so my clock was ticking), he needed to teach me about the birds and the bees before it was too late. I have spent nearly every Friday afternoon with them since I was 19, so there was ample opportunity to take time to talk about sex.

I've heard a lot of Pawpaw's stories over the years. Most of them start with him staring out in space for a moment, perched in his easy-boy, then like a light bulb goes off, he would start with, "You stay out in the world long enough, you are bound to run across some interesting things..." These stories were often about his circumnavigation of the world during WWII. He has plenty of stories, all shocking in nature, not always about him, but almost always about sex in some way. These stories opened the door to many conversations about sadomasochism, domination, rape, prostitution, you name it. Once you crack that door open with your grandfather, pretty much all bets are off and you can talk about anything. For example, if you ask him, my grandmother invented the whole "answering the door in cellophane" deal. 

After Joel and I were married for a couple of months, Pawpaw called and asked us to come visit. Somehow he shooed BJ (my grandmother, no pun intended) out of the room and stared at us from the easy-chair. 

"Well, how is it going? You two figuring everything out?" 

We both giggled and said we were not having any problems which apparently was not convincing.

"Are you able to find the zizz-wheels?" He looked right at Joel.

At this point, we both laughed and said we had no idea what he was talking about, which concerned him all the more. So he began...

"All women have two zizz-wheels. One is at the base of the pelvis and one is behind the bellybutton. God made it this way so that they could be stimulated by all different sized penises. The one at the base of the pelvis is for short penises and the one behind the bellybutton is for long penises (He sticks his palm up and starts to wiggle his middle finger in the air like he is fondling some imaginary vagina). Which one have you found?"

I told Pawpaw I thought we must have found both. He declared, "Well, now we know what Joel is working with!" He smiled real big and then frowned. "This is serious. Your grandmother and I got lucky. We didn't have sex until we were married and we were fortunate to find out that we had good chemistry. I have lots of friends who have had terrible marriages because nothing was ever quite right in the bedroom. This is why you have to try on your shoes before you buy them. If everything is OK in the bedroom then everything is going to be OK during all those other times that get hard."



"Your grandmother and I have had a successful marriage because we are exact opposites. What has always kept us together is that everything is always good in the bedroom. It is really important to make love to each other as much as you can. You have to keep it interesting too. The best thing is the world was coming home from a business trip and see her wrapped in cellophane standing at the door. I just put my briefcase down right there on the stoop and followed her inside. That is the sort of thing that keeps a marriage strong."

He made us promise that we would make love often and try new things. He offered that since we had found the zizz-wheels that he reckoned we got lucky too. Then, BJ walked in. 

"What are yall talking about so intently? Bill, you look like you are doing something wrong." I answered that Pawpaw was telling us about zizz-wheels, but the look on his face said "shut the hell up." She big-eyed him and said, "I don't know what a zizz-wheel is." I laughed and said that Pawpaw should probably explain it and his expression got even more serious. BJ asked him what it was and he said he was just making sure everything was going OK in the bedroom. She didn't even think about it, "Well, what kind of grandfather talks to his grandchildren about such a thing!?" 

We changed the subject pretty quickly which meant that Pawpaw started telling the classic story about the morning after their wedding night when BJ saw his flaccid penis and asked if she "used it all up but that." She HATES when he tells that story but it ALWAYS gets a laugh out of people and that is the most important thing to Pawpaw when he was changing the subject.

A few years later, sitting on his red couch staring at him in the easy-chair, he had that glazed over look and I knew he was about to tell me something important. 

" Sure enough I think we have done young people wrong for generations. There just aint nothing good coming of making young people wait to have sex until there married. I really believe that it is more important to try on your shoes before you buy'em. There have just been too many failed marriages and hurt people out there because they think everything is good and then they get in the bedroom and nothing works right. You have to have sexual chemistry to keep pushing through all the hard times. You might not agree with me, but I really think that we have done yall wrong. Look at all the divorces this day and age, people need to try on their shoes."

My grandfather just turned 88 and has been married to my grandmother for 65 years this June. He has traveled around the world, fought in gruesome wars, traveled the country as a salesman, raised three sons, one of whom was severely autistic, and somehow survived watching two of his three boys die. He has experienced a lot of the world, a lot of pain, a lot of joy and at the end of the day, I think he knows what he is talking about.




I don't know if you have found the zizz-wheels or not and maybe you don't think people should go around trying on their shoes, but I think it is pretty cool that I have a grandpa that cares about my sex life enough to talk to me about it. No matter what he says, I found it to be a gesture of great love to sit us down and make sure we have figured everything out in the bedroom. 

In this world of sexually taboo everything, it was refreshing to know that my Pawpaw isn't scared to talk about something that he thinks matters a lot. What would the world be like if all grandparents did this? Can you imagine? 

 Here's to trying on your shoes and flappin' the sheets!




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Do we have the power?

Venturing on the very slow path of learning to understand the power of our God made bodies, I've encountered Qi energy. Qi (pronounced "chi") is what the Chinese (among others) believe is our life energy, our life force. The power of Qi can be cultivated, used and shared. It is the movement of Qi and the directional flow of Qi that enables bodies to grow and heal. I still have a lot to learn about Qi, what it is, how to become aware of it, and of course, how to use it. For the moment, I wanted to share something with you that I found to be amazing. It is so amazing, I had a hard time finding a place for it in my understanding of the world. 

In this video you will see a man who is called "DJ", mainly because Westerners do not know how to pronounce his name. He lives in Indonesia and is a humble healer. It wasn't until a couple of Brit's ran into him that his life suddenly changed forever. He is most certainly exploited in this video, but I don't think they intended to hurt him. Fortunately, he is was convicted enough to stand up for himself.

DJ is a mystery because of the powerful current of Qi energy that he has learned to cultivate in his body. This energy has allowed him to become a successful healer. He defies much of what we would believe to be impossible in this day and age.

If you plan to watch this video, which I hope you do, prepare to marvel at something we have long assumed is a hoax. Is it though? In your hard of hearts, haven't you too felt the magnetic pulse of energy when you hold your palms close together?

DJ says the source of his energy is daily meditation. What is the source of your energy?

The man can use his Qi to heal people, start a fire, press a piece of wood through a plastic table. These are just little tricks but you will see his patients spasm and move as he works on them. This to me, was more incredible than the sensation he can provide with parlor tricks. 

Give it a go. Marvel. Wonder. Imagine, just imagine, if you could believe this even for a moment. 

Just like Jesus assured his Disciples, that we too can do what he does and more. DJ also maintains there is nothing special about himself, anyone can do what he does. You simply have to practice.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Women's Rights

I stumbled across this video and thought that it sends a really solid point. Check it out:



Friday, April 11, 2014

Recap on Sexual but Not Sexist

Just in case you are curious, I found the tribute that Ingrid Michaelson's "Girls Chase Boys" video was recreating. It was "Simply Irresistible" by Robert Palmer. I have to admit that I really don't like this song and I really don't like his video. It's cool to see how Michaelson's version really does embody just what I mentioned in my post last week. Palmer's video is sexual and it is sexist which honestly makes it a dime a dozen. Michealson's- well, you saw it. There is a big difference here and I think Ingrid is a bad ass.  

Here is Robert Palmer's video "Simply Irresistible":



Dreaming of Peace


The place where you are right now, God circled on the map for you.

-Hafiz





Every child has known God,

Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does Anything weird,
But the God who knows only 4 words.
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come Dance with Me , come dance.” 
-Hafiz



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Trippin' on Accupuncture

It was so quiet when I walked in. Decorated like a spa, grays and lavenders, it smelled of lilac and jasmine. I sipped lemon water as I waited for my turn. 

When I entered the room, I slipped on a robe and laid down on the table. It was warm and comfortable. Sounds of ocean waves permeated the room. Jane came in and felt my pulses. 

"You are healthy if you want to know that. There is nothing wrong inside you but your pulses are weak. This will strengthen them."


Then she pulled out small plastic tubes and began to snap them, applying hair-thin needles just barely into the surface of my skin. In a few moments they were balancing out of my knees, ankles, wrists, right above my belly button. Before she left the room she poked a needle into the top of my head and said, "to quiet your mind." Then the lights clicked off and I was alone with my body.

Almost from the moment the needle slipped into my skin where my thumb connects to my palm, I felt my arm begin to tingle. My hand grew hot and I felt a giggle bursting from inside me. I could not stop it. I laid there for nearly five minutes laughing like I was being tickled. My whole body twitched with delight and I grinned a wicked grin in the dark by myself. 


I laughed until great, big sticky tears dripped from the corners of my eyes because I didn't want to move to wipe them. They dried hard and crusty on my face. 

When this tickled delight had finally run it's course, I started to see the colors... Moving to the sounds of the waves, oil-pool ripples of purple and magenta started rushing across the ceiling and then back again. Bright green and yellow swirled into the motion and I watched as a sea of neon hues danced above me. Then the waves turned into bright pink stars and the stars came together to form a face of a woman who winked at me and floated away. 


Then I heard a voice. It was a man. His voice was jumbled and robotic but I could distinctly hear that he was discussing the significance of the number 9 (the number of transformation). 

Then I was floating above a room that I knew was mine but I had not ever seen it before. There were women sitting around in a circle, canvases in front of them listening to an instructor encourage them to paint whatever comes out of them. I recognized her voice but I could not see her- it was me.

When the light clicked on and Jane returned, I was in a fog of wonder and colors. She began plucking the needles out of my joints and didn't saw a word. I pointed to the spot in my hand that reacted so much to the needle and seemed to be connected to my sudden need to laugh. 

"That was your colon meridian. Emotions get blocked in the colon. Shifting the flow of energy there releases the blocked energy. Sometimes people go right home and poop and other times people just start crying and don't know why. It's because you've blocked something and it was stagnate there."


I told her that I could not stop laughing when she poked that point.

"Well, Claire, it seems that you have stifled joy."

I knew when I received acupuncture that I would probably come to terms with some blocked emotions. This is part of the reason I wanted to do it. It didn't occur to me in a thousand years that all this time the emotional block that I had felt has been joy. 

"It's a good thing really. It means that you have grieved what you need to grieve and been sad about what you need to be sad about. Now it is time to just be happy when you know you are happy, even if the situation doesn't seem like it should cause that reaction. It is good to feel joy."

Amen.