Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Beyond words

I can't seem to find the words to describe how grateful I am for so many blessings, but I know that I must try. It's mostly for me, out of some sense of faithfulness to God and what I feel he's calling me to do. It's part of how I'm trying to find out whether I still am a writer, or just a dreamer.

I need to not be on the computer tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day 2009. I need to be traveling to see family and then helping Gene work around the farm and of course also watch (or at least listen to) a football game or two. (It will be interesting to see whether I can stay away from FaceBook. UPDATE: I DID NOT STAY AWAY!)

The dream is to write brilliant, flowing, inspiring, descriptive, powerful prose. But the reality will be a list. A simple list. Not even a complete list. Definitely not listed in order of importance. Just a list of things I'm grateful for, as they come to mind.

For some reason, the first is my job. Two months ago, I desperately wanted to quit. I thought it would be miserable and dreadful forever after some changes that occurred. But it's not. Amazing. It may not seem like a miracle to others. But I prayed and prayed to know how to adjust to the changes, and what seemed impossible happened. The situation didn't change. I changed. I let God change me. I let God help me find the good in each day and ways to help rather than complain and focus on the bad. Thank you, God!!!!!

My husband. My parents. My sisters and brother and their families. My precious nieces and nephews. My aunts and uncles and extended family -- including the ones I don't stay in touch with as I should.

My church. (Maybe I should say churches, because I claim Mom and Dad's church, too). The pastors, leaders and the good people there. The choir directors, accompanists, musicians and vocalists. ALl who pray and give thanks and service.

Friends and guides along the path to recovery.

Friends in general. They are everywhere, and they sustain me!

My health. Yes, even at 50. Even as it seems sometimes that I'm feeling every ache and pain and seeing every line, wrinkle, bump and bulge. And I still can't remember the names and faces of so many people I should know by now.

Accumulating steps of progress.

Hope that springs eternal.

Of course there's more. But do I stay at the computer, or do I go talk to my husband, pet the kitty and then read some devotions and Scripture while pedaling my exercise bike? Sometimes the answers are easy.

So, that's all for now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Blessed are you" (for an Advent devotional booklet)

And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28)

(The angel said to Mary), “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to Your word.”
(Luke 1:37-38)

I've never had a baby, and I certainly wasn't called to be the Messiah's mother.
But I am blessed by Mary's faithfulness as Christ's mother. And I am blessed by God's gift of His Son.

When I reread the verses in Luke 1 just now, I was amazed at Mary’s poise. Yes, she “was troubled” at the angel’s words, but before she could say anything, the angel continued, telling her she, a virgin, would conceive a child Whose father would be God. Mary didn’t interrupt the angel, and by the time the angel finished speaking (“for with God nothing will be impossible”), she humbly accepted her calling.

But it seems to me this isn’t just Mary's story. God is calling each of us. What will my response be? Will I believe that nothing is impossible with God? Will I live with that kind of faith?

I pray that I will follow Mary’s example and humbly submit to God’s calling and that my spirit continually will rejoice in God my Savior, Who because of His great love, sent His Son so that I and all of His people could be forgiven of our sins and spend eternity with Him!

(Submitted Nov. 22 for the church's Advent devotional booklet)

I had many more thoughts that didn't make it into my little piece, because I wanted to keep it as short as possible and couldn't quite frame all my thoughts. I also ran into the deadline and had to trust God that what was written when it was time to let go was what it was supposed to be. That's so hard for me!!!!!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why I no longer write for a living. Sigh.

Slowly rebuilding.
This is why ...
Too many thoughts; unable to focus ...
The paralysis that occurs when hopes get tangled with expectations.
I can't even think of a lead.
I hope and pray that maybe this continuing exercise of writing -- and publishing, so to speak -- even when I can't figure out what I'm trying to say will help me get past the writer's block that in reality was with me even when I was paid to write.

Among the things I wanted to say about the past week:

I wrote something for the newspaper or its Web site about being an Aggie in Oklahoma for OU/A&M football game week, but there was no place for it. That was fine. I did it for me. It was harder than I would have thought to take some of those blog thoughts and try to shape them into something that might be acceptable for the paper.

I won a newsroom award for a headline. That was positive affirmation (and timely) as I go through this time of struggling with being a copy editor instead of a writer.
"Racy for the Cure?
AWARENESS / Opinions mixed on suggestive images to fight cancer”

As for the process of deciding to go to the OU/A&M game, looking for tickets and trying to find someone to go with me, it turned out to be very positive and rewarding for me. I definitely spent some time outside my comfort zone. Even though it wasn't a noble pursuit in the scheme of life's important matters, it was good practice for me in deciding something, following through (not giving up) and finding good in the results when so many aspects looked like failures on the surface.
After all:
-- I couldn't even give away a great ticket to get someone to go with me. (Positives: I went anyway. The people around me were nice.)
-- The score was brutal, 65-10, not a win for the good guys. (Positives: Can't say I saw any from the A&M football team on the field; I almost left during the third quarter, but after some serious soul-searching I found a reason to stay, moving closer to the A&M band and standing in solidarity with them; they have to stay to the end of every game. It felt good to do the same! I was surprised at how few Sooners stayed to watch their team win.)

Before I decided to spend money for a ticket, and realizing the time it takes to go to a game, I wrestled a bit with priorities for spending time and money. At the same time I was deciding to buy a ticket and attend the game, I was deciding against filling a shoebox with toys and gifts for a child's Christmas present in a program the church participated in. I'm still wrestling with that. Gave some money; will give some more. I also ended up not helping out with Angel Food Saturday morning. How can I justify that? Sure, nobody's perfect, but that was pretty lame.
One thing I had decided and followed through with was that, since I did make the decision to attend the game, I would be cheerful and upbeat, no matter what. And I was. When I think about it, that's pretty amazing. Because it was cold, I wasn't there with anyone I knew, and the team performed miserably. And still I had a great time and no regrets about attending.

And still -- When the Aggies come back to Norman in two years, if I'm still here, I'm determined that I will attend with friends, whether Aggies or Sooners. I'll start working on it now, taking steps to make sure I have friends and that I'm not afraid to do things with them.

(possibly more to come; gotta go pet the kitty now!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Social dilemma

I've lived in the same town for 27 years. Why is it I still don't feel comfortable asking anyone to go places with me? Of course that's a rhetorical question. I know the answer is fear of rejection. I think it's based on experiences of being turned down, but it's also possible the fear has kept me from ever asking anyone.

So tonight I posted a general plea to my FaceBook friends, asking whether anyone would like to attend a big event with me this weekend. I'll even pay for their ticket! How desperate that must sound! I think it's actually progress for me, but as with so many things, I'm not sure. Time will tell.

An interesting related factor: My husband is NOT interested in attending this event, but he's very supportive of me going and having a good time. I'm grateful for that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Responding to Criticism (LOL!)

Well, I know I have at least one reader, because that person asked whether it is my intent to turn this into a football/sports blog!!!!!!

Noooooooooooooo! I don't intend to do that.

However, I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't compose these few (or perhaps many) thoughts, sentences and even essays on something that really does stir my spirit every now and then, as is the case with the Texas A&M football team and band headed to my town for a rendezvous with University of Oklahoma.

Be assured: The coming weekend's events do more than stir my school spirit and fuel my football fanaticism. They also force me to deal with some spiritual, moral, intellectual and social issues that cause me to struggle. I'm trying to deal with them in healthier, more positive ways now. One of those ways is by writing about them; trying to define the issues and come up with better responses.

So, it's unlikely I'm done with this subject. But that's all for now.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A matter of perspective

Who would have ever thought going into the 2009 college football season that Texas A&M and the University of Oklahoma would be playing each other FOR BOWL ELIGIBILITY on the second Saturday of November? What a crazy year. And what fun!

Isn't it more fun having to play games to find out who's going to win and having to keep a list of the winners and losers to figure out at the end who's the champ? Isn't that more fun than for some teams to always be the winners and others always to be the losers? Doesn't a more competitive field seem more sporting?

As I was reminded at church, it's definitely a matter of perspective. For those whose team is traditionally a winner, I guess there's not much good to be found in a down year.

Fortunately for me, especially since I am a graduate of Texas A&M (having attended during years when the football team typically started strong and lost the big games at the end, never winning a championship and always having to say 'Wait 'til next year!'), I do find many bright spots in not winning. In fact, it is harder for me to be a fan of a winning team than a losing team. That may sound defeatist, but that's not the point. Although I don't have much experience being a fan of a winning team, I do know that when it happens, I usually find myself starting to gloat or feel superior. And that just doesn't pay off for me in the long run. (On the other hand, maybe I just need more practice!)

Anyway, here's to competition. The spirit of competition. The spirit of fanship. The spirit of sportsmanship.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

... of Aggieland!

There's a spirit can ne'er be told.
It's the Spirit of Aggieland.

All I can add right now is: Is it any wonder I went to Texas A&M?

(OK, now I'm adding more .... sigh) So, the Fightin' Texas Aggie football team was outscored by 1 point at Colorado today. If message boards are an indication (and I hope they are not), even Aggie fans can't just enjoy the game anymore. "If you can't win, why play the game?" seems to be the attitude.

Yes, winning is great fun. Winning is much more fun than not winning. But what I hate most about not winning is how fans turn against teams and coaches.

(UPDATE: After I first posted this, I thought more about how fans are now. It's not just because there's more media and more forums for people to comment, I don't think. I think it's also because some teams are so good, there's more jealously. A&M wants to be Texas or OU (you mean even those teams can have off years?)-- seemingly competing for Big 12 and national championships every year. Maybe there was a time when fans knew their team would win some and lose some, and they'd wait to see how it turns out at the end. But now, some teams are so dominant, that many fans seem to think their team is no good or not worth watching unless they win every game.)

Let this be a reminder to me not to do that .... and to find a ticket for next week's game against OU! I mustn't let the possibility of a gridiron beatdown and a chilly night keep me from showing up to support the team that supposedly represents a school that embraces and promotes loyalty, character, intergrity and all those good things that resonate with me. After all, they're coming to MY TOWN. Whoop!

Gig'em Aggies. (That's the Spirit!)

"The Spirit"

As I turned the page to November
I was grateful to take time to remember
Rich blessings of family, friendship and spirit
Sweet music of life: To hear it! To share it!

I don't know when I first wrote that (possibly mid-1990s, in a journal) or when I first used it in a published piece (I've used variations in at least 2 and maybe three or more columns in the newspaper, and once in a tribute to my parents), but it encapsulates things I'd come to recognize as driving forces to the goodness in my life.

It continues to resonate.

* The spirit is definitely God: God's love; His mercy, love, grace, graciousness, creativity, compassion, omnipotence and so many more things than I could ever write.
* It is definitely the spirit of Christ, Who gave all that I may be in relationship with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and all of creation.
* The spirit is family: My parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters and extended family of other relatives as well as church. It seems as if more each day, I see how their lives -- breathing (spirit) on Earth and beyond -- help me look for and find the good in my life and the lives of others.
* The spirit is friendship. I've been blessed with some great ones. (Perhaps more will be written about this later!)
* The spirit is fellowship. As hard as it is sometimes for me to write, it's usually easier for me to write than to relate directly with people. Awkward is me! And still I am loved and accepted. I need not be afraid to spend time relating with people.
* The spirit is love.
* The spirit is compassion.
* The spirit is music.
* The spirit is gratitude.

There is so much more. This post is a work in progress. (In a future post, I may touch on what "the spirit" is not, at least for me.)

Like I've said, the thing I have to remember is it doesn't even matter if I have anything worth posting. That's not the point for me, at least not for now. Maybe this will evolve into something of substance, but it doesn't matter. If people are reading this, they may think they are getting to know someone (some readers would know who I am; to others I'd just be Patricia). But it's really about a writer getting to know herself and not being afraid to let others see what she finds.

Rich blessings of family, friendship and spirit
Sweet music of life:
To hear it!
To share it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Something for nothing?

Tell me this: How can I be a part of FaceBook and now the blogosphere without paying for the privilege?
It seems like something for nothing. Surely there's a catch. Are the host sites secretly sucking away my identity??? I haven't seen evidence of that.
One thing I've already discovered about blogging is that I don't feel as if I have to find all the answers before I post something. As a newspaper writer (and even an editor), I hated to let anything go until I felt as much research as possible had been done and the information or stories were being presented as accurately and completely as possible.
Here, I feel more free to muse and wonder. But I won't be surprised if it also inspires me to search for answers to some of the questions I raise.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Welcome to my world

Tentative. Probing. Testing.

It started with FaceBook. No, it started long before that. For as long as I can remember, I've been filled with feelings and thoughts. For many years, they were bottled inside. I guess over these past 50 years, I've realized it is important for me to SHARE and EXPRESS my thoughts and feelings. I chose journalism as a major in college by default. (I was good with words and didn't really want to be a teacher.) Largely due to my fear of change, writing and editing have become my lifelong career. They are also a passion.

Trying to meet deadlines -- and keep it short -- derailed the writing part of the career. So now the paycheck comes for copyediting, headline writing and a limited amount of page design. Even as an editor, my favorite part of the process is working on stories, talking to the people (in this case the reporter or another editor) to consider ways to make the stories the best they can be.

The urge to write never leaves. Neither does the inability to deal with deadlines and the myriad story possibilities and angles a reporter faces. That reality is confirmed every time I give in to temptation and volunteer to write a review or some other piece for the paper.

When I joined FaceBook recently to help stay in touch with family members, something about the power of written expression was rekindled within me. Framing thoughts into phrases or sentences and then posting them -- publishing them -- invigorated me. And when FaceBook friends commented .... wow!

I've had to ask myself: Is this a blessing or a curse? I've asked the question prayerfully, and so far, the answer is that it's a blessing. And so I've started what is a new adventure for me.

It's possible nothing will show up on this blog that will be of interest to anyone other than the writer.

But it's also possible something will emerge that is worth the time and thought of a reader.

I look forward to finding out.

Simple goals:
Post at least one thing each week.
Feel free to go back in and edit. (That's what I love about this so far!)
See where it leads.
Give the glory to God.