Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Joy of Breathing

We all thought I had asthma growing up. But it must have been severe allergies. I’m not sure. I ran out of breath if I walked too fast. I ran out of breath if I ran. I ran out of breath if I slept in a cold room. I ran out of breath if I slept in a warm room. Any given year, without a doubt. I was sick with bronchitis twice a year when the seasons changed from Fall to Winter and Spring to Summer.

It didn’t help that I developed different forms of anxiety. Like the “I’m so nervous I feel like I’m talking but no one can hear me.” Or the, “I’m so nervous I’m going to pass out.” The really gross one...”I’m so nervous I’m going to throw up to feel better.”

I took a meditation class in college. I learned a lot about Chi--energy, and breathing as you meditate. Actually, I even learned about being mindful, being in a state of mindful meditation. I think after the class was over I stopped wanting to do guided meditations. I developed this pattern of “fast” and “now.” Kind of like our whole generation, we want instant results, gratification, news, social media...everything k thx bai.

I can’t sit still for too long and yet sometimes I can sit for hours crocheting. It’s a mystery. I can’t sit long enough for guided prayer either. I had to walk out of there so fast. It was just not going to work out for me. I can’t sit at the dinner table long either. I start getting up and proceed to finish eating my dinner while walking around the kitchen. What’s in the kitchen? There’s nothing of interest to my meal, that’s for sure. Meditation or mindfulness didn’t stick.

But my therapist tried to make me breathe. Breathe in through your nose, she gently said. Breathe out through your mouth like you’re pushing the breath out. Did she not know that I had sat in that chair for too long and I needed to go. Didn’t matter where I went. I just needed to get up and walk around. Okay I took a breath. It was a failure of a breath but she made me do it again. And then the next day when I totally spazzed out at work I tried breathing again. And when I ran around town I took another deep breath. My goal is to do my breathing exercises twice a day for five minutes.

And I can’t consciously do five minutes of breathing…yet. However, if I find myself breathing in through my nose, my body knows to push out the breath through my mouth. And that makes me so happy. A different happy, a fun happy. A peaceful happiness.

Monday, July 10, 2017

There are two people in this world who I could never forgive

Sunday School started with confusion. I didn’t plan enough, according to my students, I didn’t have a project lined up for everyone and thus there was confusion. But, if I’m allowed a minute of ranting, I don’t believe I need to have a project lined up for the students. Because, no matter what project I want a particular student to do...it won’t matter if that student doesn’t want to do that project! I have decided that I need to be a mind reader about choosing projects that I know my students will enjoy--that’s too aggressive.

Sunday School proceeded with more confusion as we read through the passage of the day. Genesis 50: 15-21, a story about Joseph finding forgiveness for his brothers. Which, also coincided with the pastor’s sermon on the Lord’s Prayer. You know, that bit about how we seek forgiveness for the sins we commit and the sins that are committed against us.

So we started with questions to aid in our discussion and somehow or another we asked the most daring question of all: “If someone came to you and offered an apology, and they didn’t mean it. Would you still forgive them?”

“Yes,” one student responded. “I forgive them in the spirit of them asking for forgiveness.” Another great answer included that forgiveness is something for the forgiver as it releases the hurt, anger, and pain received from the offending party. But I was brave to say that there are two people in this world who I could never forgive and one of them is dead.

So let me explain. I haven’t lived an easy life and I don’t sit around pretending that I didn’t. I have fears, I have pains, and I have “healing to do.” But for all the healing and praying and reliving of my past I cannot admit that I was hurt. Who would I admit it to? Will I feel less hurt after admitting it? Will it change the circumstances I was born in? Will the people who have hurt me decide to repent after hearing my hurt?

If anything, I will not always tell a person all the details from the abuse, sexual harassment, bullying, not having parents to rely on, not believing or wanting to believe in God ...being treated worse than a dog… and that’s just my childhood. I don’t find relief in reliving my past. I don’t find relief or feel better from letting things off my chest. I didn’t grow up with those coping mechanisms. Would it do any good to start learning those things now? Maybe. Am I willing to learn them now? Who knows.

I’m trying to live moment by moment right now. As an adult, the fears and pains I lived as a child are prevalent and hurting in the new fears and pains I’m living in now. Even now where I face the newest “assault” as labeled by the police. I know only how to live in the current moment until I’m ready to livin e the next. And maybe in the next millennia of moments I could forgive those two people who treated me less than a dog.

For now I can only ask God to forgive my sins as I attempt to forgive those who’ve sinned against me. I’m not perfect, God knows me too well to think that I lie if I repeatedly say “forgive me my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me.” I only answer to one God, even if my answers aren’t perfect.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Sometimes I just want to apologize

But I know that it's not possible to do so at all. Even though I want to apologize I have nothing to apologize for. I've never done anything 'wrong' per se or even dared to do anything to hurt anyone. Yet, if I had to apologize about something it would be that I'm very private in my personal life. I don't complain if I'm tired. Or if I'm sad. I don't let anyone know if I'm hungry or if I'm mad. And though I never verbally say these things, my body betrays me all the time. So I promised myself that I would stop hiding my feelings.

And even then, I have to apologize to myself because I can't stop hiding.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Defining barriers

If I do the math correctly, I spent the last 11 years defining and remaking my identity as an adult. One can say that it’s inaccurate to say that an 18 year old is an adult..or that as a child I was pretty adult-ish in behavior as bossypants of the family. However, neither age or behavior defines an adult.

I always explain to people that success in reaching children starts with treating them with respect and like adults without the expectations or consequences of adults. In a way, that’s a clue to my identity as an adult. I’m fully respected as an adult and I have the expectations and consequences to match my behavior.

Regardless, what does my identity encompass? I had a powerful reaction to the text we studied at the Pastor’s Bible Study on Thursday. So powerful, that I broke down crying. Something I do when a chain of emotions run amok in me. And if you’re going to break down at a Bible Study, might as well do it when the pastor is around. It helps to talk about it, and we talked briefly about what I was feeling. Which was tied to a painful memory, and after the discussion the pastor suggested to write a list.

This list, consequently, would define what I would NOT do for the church first and second will leave room for what I WILL do for the church. Meaning, that if my identity revolved around what I will and will not do, I’m seriously considering who I am by behavior.

It seems that identity is paramount to growth. And though I’ve spent the last 11 years formatting and defining who I am. There’s still a lot left for me to explore.

Monday, May 29, 2017

A new study

Sunday after lunch I lay in bed to do something. Probably to play my secret/guilty pleasure of a game titled Politicats. It's addictive and one day I'm going to unlock all the levels and going to win first place in a tournament. But for now I'm good with third place in a tournament and not unlocking all the levels.

At some point or another I took a nap. A six hour nap, which technically isn't a nap. But I used take long naps after church on Sundays in most of March and April. Naps after church are my thing. It's like a hard reset button. Instead of just restarting it's like turning off and taking out the batteries before starting up again.

It's ten o'clock in the evening. I played some more of my game and in between bursts of gameplay I turned to Youtube. I really wanted to watch a movie, but I wasn't feeling emotionally drawn to any of the characters readily available. So I thought carefully about the coming Pentecost Vigil occurring next weekend at my church. And my independent Biblical studies seem to go back to Acts and Romans lately. Particularly Romans, and anything related to the Apostle Paul. So Youtube helped me out and I found some great lectures, or talks from the Lanier Theological Library in Houston.

I noticed that there's a lot of people in the Youtube comments who have a lot to say about everything. But one thing I noticed is that though knowledge is freely available on the Internet, and further, in private libraries such as the Lanier Theological Library, I have yet to take advantage of that. I was reminded of the days where I poured over Wikipedia Articles over and over making a timeline of the dawn of humanity.

At that time, I wondered and searched for the earliest civilizations. I pin pointed the time frames from Neanderthals to the early Sumerians. Hoping, searching for an inclination that there was a God or a common theme in our human sense and yearning for religion. Though primitive a study, my findings led me to a woman god who's purpose was to create that cycle of life through birth. But then that led to the two faced woman god who could not only birth life but death (as seen through the birth of stillborn children).

Satisfied that I found a sort of answer I stopped searching at that moment. But yesterday that thirst for knowledge asked for a drink again. I can't discredit the arguments of people on the Internet as all of them being childish with no sense of what they're talking about. Because NT Wright, a New Testament Scholar said something very interesting in one of his lectures/talk and, I PARAPHRASE, the thing is that though not everyone is a theologian; some people have pieces of wisdom that the priest or theologian needs to hear.

Will I have to revive my prehistoric study of religions via more credible sources than Wikipedia? Maybe. There's something that I'm looking for and won't know until I find it. But, it's going to be great. I know that it will be.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Deception is the lost art of war

I haven’t finished reading The Art of War. Okay, I only skimmed it like twenty times. But never fully read it. But today I really understood one thing: deception. Deception, as defined by searching Google is a trick or scheme used to get what you want. Deception occurs when you deceive.

If anything, I struggle a lot when not to employ deception. There’s this societal rule that states that when asked “How are you?” one should always reply with something positive. “I’m good.” “I’m great.” “I’m fine.” There usually isn’t much room for a replies that state something like, “I’m not doing good at all. In fact, I feel like if you make any sudden movements I’m going to have a heart attack. Please, don’t even look at me. I might just rattle straight into this wall.”

Even among friends, sometimes there is a limit to all the weary and dreary talk. Sometimes some people just don’t want to hang around with that negativity. They feel immobile to always hearing the same talk. And yes, constant negativity can be draining.

But then. If there is no space to be negative in. If there are no friendships that allow for the discussion of these feelings. What do we really have left?

Deception. Deception is that smile you give to people before you turn around and hide in your sacred place. Deception is the 5-hour energy drink, the shot of espresso, the caffeine fix in the a cup of coffee. Deception is the beer, the wine, the shots of tequila, the salt rim of a margarita. Caffeine, alcohol, sex, money, POWER.

None of those mirrors will get to the true reflection of what is inside of someone. They’re merely the deception, the cover-ups and symptoms to the underlying disease: we can’t be ourselves even to ourselves. An individual can’t face himself or herself. And in turn as individuals, we can’t coexist with other individuals.

I just want to be myself. At the rate things are going and judging by the amount of things I want to accomplish--I can’t be myself. I can only deceive.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sometimes I remember the kind of person I used to be

I can’t stress this enough: people change. I’ve certainly changed for the better, but sometimes I catch an odd glimpse of what I used to be like in the mirror. For example, today at work I walked into the kitchen and looked over at a cook and blurted:

“My food better be hot.”

Or else.

I barely remember the last time I used the implied Or else with anyone. But that wasn’t the only implied sentence in my apron. I also had the:

Did you expect me to teach you how to do your job?

Or the infamous line, which I reserved for special occasions:

I understand you did XYZ and ABC happened. But what were you supposed to?

Throughout my shift today I developed a new one. It’s one that I don’t think I’ll ever use again, because I don’t like the kind of person I used to be. The newest look:

I’m not here to be on your tail so that you do your job.

I wish work would have gone as smooth as I was told it would be. You know, the schedule read one thing, but life dictated differently. Yet, I take so much pride in the work I do. I really enjoy working in the food and beverage sector for now. I really enjoy seeing the guests enjoy their meal to the fullest.

I do enjoy running back and forth in between my small kitchen and the main kitchen to exchange entrees or bring missing desserts or to go that extra mile for another bottle of red wine when only one person would drink from it. It’s my job, and I do it well. Nothing but a smile and best for the guests. That’s what it takes to be a great employee.

And because I hold high expectations for myself. I’ve held high expectations for those around me. I just have to find a way to hold those expectations without being a total jerk.