Saturday, March 27, 2010

Calling (NFTD #12)

The concept of finding your calling is an interesting thing there is no hard and fast rule on how to figure out what yours is everyone has their own unique journey. Some find that they at three years old stumble into the thing that they want to spend the rest of their lives doing. For others they bumble down the road of life until one day after say their 70th birthday they experience a "ah-ha" moment and calling smacks them in the face (Grandma Moses). And for still others calling is something that either is too hard to find or not as important as their family or the next new sports car and pretty young twenty year old. There are also those who want so badly for their calling to be something other than it is.

Last night I watched the film "Coco before Channel", which is an interesting film in it's self but what struck me most about the film was that it was really the presents the woman who would become Coco Channel as one who really didn't want to make clothing or change the way women were with in the society. According to the director's commentary, she fought working with clothing because for Coco making clothing was what you did if you were poor, and yet this woman's gift was through the creations of clothing and the manipulation of cloth. And when she did finally step into her calling the world and women were forever marked and changed because of the out pouring effect of this calling. She is an example of what marked changes can happen when one lives into their calling.

Another less dramatic example of the path to calling is the Seattle musician Shane Tutmarc. When I first heard of him he was fronting the band Dolour, which was one of several indie rock bands from Seattle circa late 90's. Dolour was a good band and had some great songs but on the whole there was nothing super striking about them. But a few years ago Shane's new band Shane Tutmarc and the Traveling Mercies opened for someone I was seeing at the Tractor and I was blown away. This time he was playing alt-country/rock-a-billie. There was something in watching him play and the style of music that just whispered "Yes, this is what he was created to sing". To me watching Shane play that show was watching him live into his calling.

I think for those of us in the arts it is hard sometimes to live into our skills, what I mean by this is that we want to play someone else's role. Like say I am the drummer but I really want to be the lead singer or our band is a metal band but really we create musical poetry when we play alt-country/folk songs. I have a friend who is an incredible musician with a lovely voice yet I get so frustrated when he plays with his band because at shows he tries to be all "rock n' roll" screaming and yelling when those are not the skills he has been given, when he trusts him self and his gifting he is lovely to watch. It is hard to accept that you are not the leading man or woman as an actor but once you do I think that the doors are actually open wider. I find right now that I am bumbling through this quandary often these days attempting to figure out where I fit, because I don't want to be like my friend, trying to be something I am not because I think it is better than who I am.

These days I often find the thought floating through my head that I would be happy just to know what my calling is, that unique place where for me skills and talents and the world's need all converge together so I could stop thinking about it. But like everything else in life there is no calling fairy so I must wait until the stars align and God reveals the pattern to me, either that or I unstop my deaf ears and my blind eyes. Either way it will not be today, but maybe tomorrow.

Reverance (NFTD #11)

Two days ago I received "Telling Secrets" a memoir by Fredrick Beuchner. As I was journaling about what I had read last night in this book I began to think about what it was that I liked about his writing and other writers of his generation. Through the reflection I realized that it was their passion for God, their honesty with themselves and their willingness to be open while still remaining orthodox. I began to see a strength and wisdom that is wrapped in gentleness that is lacking in some of the more contemporary authors who I love. While both Donald Miller and Anne Lamott both have and continue to offer me much through their honest thoughts and experiences of faith I find that they both lack this quality that I imbibe while reading the likes of Beuchner, L'Engle, Lewis or Dillard. Some how the latter seem to be more regal and unassuming, maybe it is just the shear nature of growing up in a different period of time where for good of ill there were standards of decorum unlike today. Maybe it is that Beuchner and the rest didn't not come of age and young adulthood during the time of the Christian Right where politics and religion, specifically fundamental politics and Christianity were so narrowly and tightly connected. Yet what ever the reason I am aware that there is a major difference that leaves me wanting a faith like Beuchner or L'Engle in lue of one like Miller or Lamott. I don't want to battle anymore or feel as if I need to defend all the paradoxical elements of myself, I want to just be. More than anything I want to be able to connect fully to myself and faith and through that connection find the healing for wounds that inhibit my life and then enter into my unique calling. I am so tired of waiting and hoping for things I want to live and live well.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

History...(NFTD #10)

I come from two incredible lines of women. Both bring positive and negative elements that live on in and through me as these things do. Even when one has never met a family member it happens that you carry elements of them in you; a look, a temperament, a skill, a feature. On my father's side live some of the most gracious, caring, and loving women. My aunts, cousins, and grandmother all reside in this category, each in their own way has such a heart for people. On my mom's side, which I am less familiar with live my grandmother, mother, aunt, and two great grandmothers who I met when I was less than a year old and who's names I bear. All I know of these women are my grandmother who is slowly leaving and my mother who has lost much of her ability to tell me who they were. I do have my memories of both of them, and my mother's journals.

What I know about them is that they love and feel deeply. My mom choose to take everything into herself and turn her feeling of not being loved outward to make sure everyone else is cared for, this trait I carry. And my grandmother stands like a rock, not allowing many to see her chocolate center. She like me has had to battle and after a while forgot how to stop battling, very few knew or recognized that she was still just a insecure and frightened child inside.

Today was one of those rare moments where I was blessed with the gift of time to sit with my grandmother. My grandfather, her husband of over sixty years is dying of Parkinson's, and she is realizing that very soon she will have to live with out him and she doesn't know how she will be able to do that. For most of our conversation today she was clear and light and engaged. But as I left the shell cracked and I saw my grandmother cry, the second time in my thirty years the first being last august when we thought my grandfather may have just a few weeks to live, and she looked so tiny and scared when she said "I'm loosing him" and I held her not knowing what else I could say or do. As I road down the elevator I realized that I am like my grandmother I stand my ground and hold my Independence like a badge until that one little insignificant thing shatters the rock wall I have built to hold my self in. I remember I didn't cry for three months after my mom's accident, my friends cried, everyone around me cried but i didn't. But then I found myself three months later and something little triggers my pain and it's a tsunami of tears. I mean I was wailing and struggling to breathe I was crying so hard. I carry that self sustaining strength that is birthed as protection but in the end inhibits the ability to cry and grieve which is my grandmothers and I am sure goes further back than her. Generation after generation of women who have felt they had to be so strong that their grief had very few ports to rest in during the storms of life. They are my history and hereditary linage, but even as I am bound to them I am also separate. I am able to choose to change as much as I can. I am offered the chance to change how I react to life, to each day and I am blessed to take those good and beautiful elements of this family history and make them part of how I live in the world as well. But more than anything I am able to sit with my grandmother and bear witness to her sorrow and beauty.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Broken Things (NFTD #9)

This is the week of things that break. First on saturday my car broke which actually may end up being a good thing because the mechanic might finally have figured out what has been wrong with my car for the last year. Then today my power cord broke on my computer and there is a piece of it lodged in the the input. Which also may end up being a good thing because I am hoping that the repair shop can fix it and maybe fix the dent in the input that lead to the cord piece breaking off.

In addition after prayer and wise counsel I decided that I am going to still attempt to get in to Claremont for this Fall which means that I need to write a 10pg paper by the end of this month and spend all of next month honing my GRE skills. For those of you who I haven't talked to I had thought about waiting until June 2011 to start school. All of this to say I really need my computer with all that is on it to finish this paper. Thanks to my lovely best friend, I feel like I am able to get past the writes block that has been clouding my brain resently. Wanting to get into school so badly has made it even harder to complete the things that will make that possible.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Careful what you wish(pray) for...(NFTD #8)

Last night I was praying and journaling. I came to the point where I requested to get to the point where I was aware of my need for God daily. Which leads me to this afternoon, my aunt and I had this great plan to go to "toast" for breakfast and then go for a walk. We did get to 'Toast' which btw anyone in Portland or passing through should totally go to. The building exterior is totally non-descript but the food is amazing!!! I absolutely understand why it is my little brother's favorite breakfast place. So back to my tale of asking for things. We headed over to Oregon City to drop something off at for my aunt's step children and on our way back to her house my car decided that it is the perfect time to make scary noices and flash the engine light, this behavioral display lead to sitting in the parking lot of K-Mart with my Dad and Aunt waiting for the tow truck to come. Currently my car is on time-out in the repair shop and hopefully will not cost to much to fix. I now have to trust that everything will work out and I will not be completely screwed. Yet at the same time things always work out some how and I believe that God is the reason, while it isn't always in the manner I want things to work out they do. I have yet to be completely sol, I have always been able to pay rent, bills, gas, ect.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fears of Commitment (Notes from the Desert #7)

I was thinking about my fears of commitment last night as I was journaling. It all started as I was thinking about my relationship to God and something my aunt had said. As I thought more about her statement, my thoughts centered around the fact that I find it so hard to understand what it really means to be in a relationship with God. So often I read about and see other's relationship but have very few moments of clarity in mine. Thinking and pondering this made me think about commitment. I both deeply desire and am afraid of commitment (not only with God but also with men), I think this is true of many of us. So many people are afraid of commitment, I hear it all the time the fear of being with only one person for the rest of their lives. Yet we also deeply believe in the concepts of true love, soul-mates, and "meant to be" which all equal to me the idea of commitment just in the guise of fate.

When watching a movie or tv show we always root for the couple to make it together, not root for them to decide to have an open relationship or divorce for infidelity five years down the road, no we want them to be together forever because they work together because really we all are looking for the same. I mean how many people watch something like "Jerry Mcguire" and secretly want someone to come running up to them and say "You complete me". What we forget, what I forget is that commitment is not only about being right for each other but it is about choosing to work at a relationship. The choice to say yes to something also means saying no to something else. When going to school most of us don't say well I am going to do my first year at NYU and then my second at Stanford, ect until you finally finish that would be crazy and take so much time, money and energy (yes sometimes you get into a school or relationship and realize that isn't what is best i understand this i am talking about constantly changing). But in generally we forget the work aspect of it...maybe because there are so few things that show the reality of a working relationship. How many romantic comedies deal with the getting together part no the staying together part. The funny thing with relationships is that we are constantly seeking for something new something exciting yet some of the best things come with work and time and are not easily gotten.

The more I have thought about commitment the more I realized that the fears I have around relationships are just that fears. There is something honestly good about commitment and that is part of what is scary that the risk involved. Commitment means saying no to other options, that is one of the most frightening things that is until you find something that is worth letting go of the possibility of other things; other people, other lives, other Gods. I think that is the magic and beauty and mystery that we see in art and films, that our hearts long for and we are searching for.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

to be with

"the first step is to join max where he is and when he is ready you walk with him into the world"-parenthood episode 2

Entering into where he is...hearing those words tonight caught a snag in my heart. I believe one of the fundamental calls of being with people is to enter into where they are. My faith tells me that God didn't and doesn't yank us up out of the brokenness but comes and sits with us in it until we ask to be taken out. Also I know from my own experiences with friends in the midst of dark pits, that until they choose to get help there is nothing you can do. Addicts don't get out of the cycle of addition until they ask for help. Healing comes especially with something like asburger's or dementia or brain trauma not by forcing them to enter into our world/perspective but by entering into theirs. Looking at the good, the potential, and the hope.

The parents in this show enter into their children's world and meet them there instead of forcing them to enter their world. So often we want and expect others to conform to our way and view, yet I believe that as a Christian I am called to enter into your world and view. It is not about me forcing my belief on another but rather allowing them to show me their belief and live. One of my professor in grad school used to say that he was open to the possibility of being converted by every person he met...not because what he believed didn't matter but because he wanted to be open to understand and see the person in front of him more than his being right. Living at home these last few months has given me a better understanding of my father and his heart. For most of my life I have been similatiously trying to win his approval and running in the opposite direction. Yet being here in the day to day I am offered a better view of who my Father is...there are still times when my heart shakes from the things that come out of his mouth. Each day I get to see his great capacity for others and his deep desire to help out. While at times his actions seem crazy to me I think I am finally beginning to better understand my Father for who he is not who I want him to be. In this way I am entering into his world not forcing him into mine. And through my father I am learning how to better serve and relate to those who I am called to serve.

I "Hearts" Dirty Rocker Boys

(disclaimer i own a button that proclaims the title of this post)

i don't know if it is the fact that i have spent the last ten + years in seattle or something else but when i see an indie/hipster musician type guy (you know the ones who are tortured genius or total bum but more likely a combination of both) i swoon. i mean like really, loss of thought process jaw dropping swoon. granted this is all an internal function but inside i see one of those boys and internally shatter.

i say this because of two events today, 1) driving around portland and hitting the goodwill near omsi 2) watching the fleet foxes and silver sun pickups on (embedded, on current). everywhere i turned down the goodwill aisles there they were beautiful shaggy slightly unwashed BOYS! seriously it was like cute boy central. give them a guitar or piano or place them on a bicycle and my heart skips a beat. but why is this?

based on conversations with my aunt and friend nicole, i think i am attracted to those men who challenge and inspire me to create. i can't tell you how many times i have fallen for the artist, justifying the man because the artist is so great. wait i don't' mean to imply that they are bad men,they are great men just not for me...the justification comes because i want them to be good for me. while in the end my attraction to real life men standing in front of me asking for a relationship really just comes down to personality and connection.

what is weird to me is that for so long i never had a "type" of a man that i was attracted to it was always a case by case basis. but over the last few years i have begun to develop a visceral draw to certain types of men hence this post. i don't know why it is so shocking but this realization is...the fact that my best friend has for the last two years consistently described certain men as "jessi's type" is interesting for a girl who swore for years she never had a type.

but really can you blame me...there is something so damn sexy about a super smart slightly unkempt artist...even if it is the desire to see what they would look like cleaned up for a award show.

Notes from the Desert #6

How one describes one's self especially when one is an artist i think is important...the labels we give ourselves say something about us. tonight i realized that at this point in my life i would not use the term writer to describe my self. i would say things like i dabble in writing now and then but i am not really a writer...sometimes i write, just like sometimes i paint or make jewelry or act.

but for the first time in my life i question whether or not i should use the term artist to describe my self. i am artistic but am i an artist? i look at my best friend and i would say she and our dear friend bex's are writers, my dear seattle friend jen is a painter, and my friends kasey, lorrie and jesse are all actors but am i an artist or just artistic a lover of art one who analyzes art. see both my brothers are artists and my mom because they can't help but create but me i can go days with out allowing my muse to get me up off my ass to type the idea or embody the words or paint the emotion on to the wood five feet away. is it laziness or fear or a heady combination of both that keeps me from moving forward into the thing i have define in my life to be as vital as the frayed faith i cling to for breath and life? why do i keep those desires just out of reach?

i want to be caught on fire by passion and beauty and creativity and love but instead of risking and sitting in the suffering i just sit on the fence. i am so bound to the failure that i find it hard to follow the one foot in front of the next path to success. so i default, i over commit, i let deadlines pass away all so that i don't really have to face something...yet here i am at thirty and i want something more real. i finally want to grab the bull by the horns and take that ride sweaty and hot beaten and bruised but holding on until they have to pry my fingers off of the dream. it is on longer sand slipping through so easily but held with a death grip.

so what does it mean to be an artist and how does one know if they are one...i don't know but what i do know is that most of the people i have worked with doing arts advocacy and dialogues with had a hard time calling themselves artist even though they were making and producing art that was being bought and garnering accolades. so maybe it comes down to allowing and creating space to do those things that you love and give you life.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Notes from the Desert #5

Watching the academy awards tonight I realized that so often those things which we used as means of escape also become that which accuses us of failure. Or at least that is how watching award shows make me feel, especially now that I am thirty, like all of those dreams from fifteen years ago were just the foolish thoughts of a girl sitting backstage in a high school theatre. Somehow I wasn't even able to come close to any of those. Were those dreams just the foolish fantasies or where they something possible that I screwed up or is it all something else?

Sitting here watching the parade of beautiful and mostly talented people who have come together to celebrate the challenging and hard experience of making a film, I find it hard to describe all the various emotions that come out. The dissonance is almost greater with the fact that I am sitting on my make shift bed (ie the couch) of my parent's living room. How did I get here? This is no where near where I thought I would be at thirty. And where am I to go? What do you do with seemingly impossible dreams that still float in your mind amid the more simplistic desire to make a living and be able to pay your bills? Is there hope and possibility even when everything feels so impossible and you feel like no matter what you want it is out of reach (yet this anomaly only affects you). I want more than anything to be doing things which are of value and beauty and challenge the world. Yet so far I feel like I have done nothing that accomplishes any of these things...will that ever happen?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

subthoughts on late night cable.

this evening while watching "michael & michael have issues" (ok so there are a few good things about mom and dad's and cable tv) i realized something odd and quirky about myself...when it comes to artists who i like and find attractive i tend to be attracted to men who are five to fifteen yeas older than myself. what is odd about this is that i don't feel comfortable dating men who are more or less than five years from my age. which leads to to questioning why this is? Am I afraid of men who are older in reality because that means that, at least in my mind, there are either too serious or not serious enough. i wonder if i am scared of meeting anyone who could be a real relationship because i am not where i want to be yet. i think we tend to judge people we meet based on our own insecurities and fears. picky, i am this i know, but am i not open enough to the possible men who enter my life? yet i also know so many women who have entered into really bad relationships in the name of openness. i don't know the answers to this but i find that so often since i have gotten to oregon i have been processing and musing over questions such as these...

or maybe my over zealousness in trying to not at all resemble a groupie has lead me to be more groupish internally. who is one of those days where i just want to have some understanding and clarity. oh well...

Notes from the Desert #4

Where do I come from? How does this question inform how one chooses to live in the world...tonight there was the end of a pbs documentary about genetics, family, and history and in addition they have a new NBC show with a similar premise. Watching the very end of this show reminds me of how intrigued I am by stories of people who know their family history such as Madeleine L'Engle and Fredrick Buechner. As much as I am inspired and love the writings of these two incredible authors I find that my heart longs to know my history the way they do.I think the heart break is deeper because of the loss of two of my grandparents and my mother. Often I feel that there are so many stories and details about my life that have been lost and forgotten. How does one find their origins when they don't know their background? We are connected to those who have gone beyond us and those who will come after us, so how does that effect who we are? I think first and foremost it is a reminder that we all are more a like and connected that we think. If we look back into our bloodlines and history we are likely to find that there are many places where we over lap. Each of us has been given the chance to write a story, this story is our lives, and with the understanding of the positive and negative aspect of those who have come before us maybe just like knowing history and having the chance to not repeat the patterns of your hereditary line. I think it is part of learning how to grow.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Note from the Desert #3

Ok so being isolated and well stuck at my parent's right now caring for my mom I have been watching a lot more TV than usual. In light of this I am currently watching the pilot episode of "Parenthood". Even in this first episode I was struck by the beauty of a man who stays and allows his heart to be touched. There is something so beautiful when one allows a truth that they don't want to hear get through and not only that to admit and embrace that truth with a brokenness and openness instead of allowing fear to reign. Watching this reminds me of why I am working on my application and why I want to go to Claremont and eventually teach cultural studies because art is a medium in which great Truth about life and faith and heartache can be expressed. A place where we can see the details of our own redemption and brokenness and find healing and understanding.

Oh and by the way this show is starting off as a really great show! Which makes sense given the incredible cast.