Predictably Irrational

February 18, 2011

Why is it that a 60 degree day feels so much warmer in February than in September? Loving the orange poppy coat weather! Feels like everyone was smiling and waving on the walk to the Y this morning.


Watching Disney

February 16, 2011

“I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter. ” ~ Walt Disney

For a number of years, I boycotted all Disney products.  I’m not 100% sure why anymore.  I ended my boycott when my mother pointed out to me that in choosing not to support the good movies that Disney was making, I was discouraging them from continuing to make those movies. I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last couple of weeks. 

I am involved with the local peace conference. The theme this year is building inclusive communities, and I am organizing the panel discussion on immigrants, specifically the many undocumented workers who live in our area.  My pastor has agreed to serve on the panel. An immigrant himself, his ministry has always been to the Latino community, which in our parish includes many people whose only crime is to seek better lives for themselves and their families. I know there “big issues” at stake here: immigration reform, welfare, securing borders, poverty and international trade to name a few, but that is not the concern of the panel. The issue for this panel is how do we include the people who are already here in our community, and that is the issue for the other panels, too.

I may have been naive, maybe even insensitive, but my participation in this conference has caused a bit of an uproar, mostly over topics I’m not involved in, especially “Gay in Gettysburg,” and there have also been rumblings about the panel on Islam. Again, there are weightly moral, political and social justice issues tied to both of those topics, but those are not the concern of the conference. Will there be people there who advocate gay marriage or amnesty for illegal aliens or  jhad against Christians? I don’t know. 

From my point of view, the question is, “Who is my neighbor, and how do I love him?” And that’s the topic of the conference, “Let It Begin with Me”. It’s like a good Disney movie. People may have good reasons to boycott it, the larger issues at stake, but I want to support building an inclusive community.  In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells us that we are all neighbors. I think that reaching out to the people around me, in this time and this place,  is the sufficiently radical way I’m called to change the world. The “big issues” are someone else’s calling.

Old Walt said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Heading out to love my neighbor.

What Would You Say?

February 14, 2011

Chris sent The Daily Post’s Topic of the Day: If you could go back in time and have a 5 minute conversation with yourself ten years ago, what would you say? I’ve been mulling it over all morning.

I think this Winnie the Pooh quote sums it up: “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” (A.A. Milne)

Don’t be afraid, I would tell myself. No matter what the future holds, God will give you the resources that you need, when you need them. The people He has placed in your life – your husband and children, your parents and brothers and sisters, your friends, and even some people you have not yet met – will make God’s love present to you in ways you cannot imagine. Don’t be afraid to love them all. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to follow your heart. Don’t be afraid to Noreen-It.  I would remind myself of the reading that we chose for our wedding, the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel: “And, behold, I am with you always.”

What would you say?

Becoming A Woman for Octaves

February 12, 2011

“I bring to my leadership an understanding of the difference between singing and silence. People need living wages and safe working conditions, but they also need to cultivate the many interests and loves that make them unique. They need leadership that supports a joyful and enriching life beyond mere existence. I know that a woman for others must also be a woman for octaves; true leadership gives others a life of song.” ~ Sarah Neitz

When the kids were younger, we encouraged them to participate in various choirs.  (Okay, “encouraged” = “forced” in some instances) All three of them really can sing, and I loved going to their concerts. I still love listening to them sing anytime – in church, in the kitchen, in the car.

I grew up in a house where we sang all the time. When we were first married, it took Steve by surprise when I would break out in song while doing the dishes.  He’s used to it now.  Our children grew up in a house where we sang all the time, too. Recently, Jack mentioned that one songs on Gaelic Storm’s “What’s the Rumpus” reminds him of something that you might start to sing at a Hart Family gathering, and everyone would join in.  Like “Eddie Kucha-Kacha-Kama-Tosa-Nara-Tosa-Noma-Sama-Kama-Wacky-Brown,” an all-time favorite, or almost any song from “Joy is Like the Rain.”

My friend Chris originally suggested that we join the Civic Chorus.  She talked about how much fun it would be to be a part of making the music, to actually experience and hear the difference that your part plays in something that is so much bigger then you could possibly create by yourself. I was sold! But Monday night, when it was time to go, I couldn’t eat dinner because I was so nervous.

I am so glad I went!  It was so much fun! My friend Jess was there in the alto section, and she acted as my “choir buddy,” introducing me around, telling me where to sit, sharing her music. And not only are we going to sing for the spring concert, the Civic Chorus will be featured in the Fringe Festival, the local tie to the Gettysburg Festival, a huge celebration of music, drama and the arts held here in June.

The rest of the week was more challenging, mostly because I hit some wrong notes in trying to do what I think is the right thing. But I hope I am learning to become a woman for octaves and a woman for others.

“All God’s critters have a place in the choir /Some sing low and some sing higher/Some sing out loud on a telephone wire/And some just clap their hands or paws/Or anything they got.” ~ Bill Staines


February 4, 2011

I had a hard time in yoga this morning. I wasn’t able to find the ease and the effort that make this class so awesome.  Until savasana.

I put my arms over my head, and my left arm was so tight, my elbow could not reach the floor.  I decided I was try to relax it into place by breathing and imagining that I was melting into the floor. Then I started thinking about dying and how cool it would be if we just let our bodies return to the earth after death.”Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” I’ve never had much of an opinion about what should be done with my body after I die (as long as whatever is done is consistent with human dignity). But now I want to look into ecological, green burial options.

It’s a weird thing to think about, but savasana is the corpse pose, after all.

Becoming Magnificent

February 4, 2011

I have been following the Magnificent Minimalist. She cracks me up — and gets right to the heart of the matter.

Today she had tips on be becoming a minimalist. I love this one:  “3.  Clear up your time; don’t let unnecessary obligations bog you down.” It hits on three of my goals: finding time, simplify, get organized.

I’m cleaning my calendar this afternoon!

Accept the Challenge!

February 1, 2011

Okay, Chris, I accept your challenge: a post a day for the next eleven months.

It might not be original, but I’ve been meaning to keep a gratitude journal. I think I’ll do it as a page rather than a post.

Does that count? 🙂

#10 Get Lost

January 31, 2011

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” ~ Robert Frost

For many years, my father drove from our small village to the big city to work or visit friends and family.  At some point, he started to think about all the roads and neighborhoods he passed along the way, and he decided that he would begin to explore them on his drive home. I thought that was pretty cool of my old dad, and it often comes into my mind when I am driving on Route 116 or 30.

Which brings us to goal #10: take the road less traveled.  In retrospect, this was an underlying theme of some of my goals for last year. Get on the bus.  Go to the pow wow. Attend services at a mosque or a synagogue. Take a yoga, tai chi, mindful meditation class. Learn a new language. Get lost in the neighborhoods you pass every day.

J.R.R. Tolkien said, “Not all who wander are lost,” but I think I might get lost sometimes this year.

#9 Just Do It

January 28, 2011

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” ~ Aristotle

This year, I am not going to let the fear that someone else will think what I am “not good enough” stop me. I will submit the Oz and Tai Chi posts. I will audition for the community choir. I will continue to ask the questions that I want answers to.

Goal number 9: Noreen-It

“Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.” – Tallulah Bankhead

#8 Accidental Tourist

January 25, 2011

“At dusk the three of us encountered an elderly lady and her beagle hiking toward us. Teetering along on a walking stick, she wore a motoring cap and held a bunch of wildflowers. I said hello and asked her where she was going. She replied in Welsh, “Rydw i yna yn barod.” We looked to Erica for a translation. “She said, ‘I’m already there.’” -“A Ramble in Wales,” from National Geographic Traveler

Gettysburg is a favorite destination for 8th grade classes and amateur historians. When we first moved here, I thought it was strange that the locals didn’t seem to take advantage of the numerous tourist opportunities. I think I’ve become a local! Ambling through town, I have noted all the museums that I have not visited.  This year, I am going to visit them. I’ll write reviews for you!

So there you have it.  Goal number eight: experience my hometown as a tourist.