Thursday, August 13, 2015

Stray thoughts

"For I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day". - Alma 36:3

It can be cold comfort knowing that things will get better "eventually". It's not always uplifting to know that if we just get past this trial we'll be rewarded in the end. We have a lot of training, so to speak, in society about powering through something bad to get to the something good. I think this doesn't help us when we're in the middle of a trial- when we're focused on "getting through" our hearts and minds are not tuned in to what is happening right now, because we're so focused on getting past what we're suffering through.

In addiction recovery we're taught to focus on one day at a time - or one hour, depending on what our struggles are. I believe the Lord would have us adopt this thinking as well; don't just keep our eyes on the end, on the so-called "prize". Work toward the eternity we want, but also take it one day at a time. And by so doing, notice what we have in front of us. Find ways to enjoy the beauty that the world has to offer, and rejoice in the things that uplift us. That is the spiritual preparation that is rewarded at the last day; that is how we endure to the end: not just in the getting past but in the going through.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Currently

Reading: Too many books. I used to be a one-book-at-a-time kind of reader, but that was back when I could finish 2-3 books in a week. Oh to work nights again (not really)...

I'm all over the place with my reading. I read non-fiction church books and scriptures a lot, so I like to have some light reading going at the same time. So right now I'm reading Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsey; The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov; Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich (this is my super light reading - it's basically the same story told ... well, 21 times now. Entertaining, but it doesn't require any thought whatsoever). The Maltese Falcon, which I haven't read since about grade 6 - this is a book club book and I'd forgotten how much I love Dashiell Hammett and his Sam Spade. I'm also reading The Power of Everyday Missionaries, which I've been working on for more than half a year; the Book of Mormon, which I try to read every day but don't quite make it. And finally, Where Angels Prey.

Thinking about: How I can be the best version of myself. In my church there's a program for the young women (ages 12-18) called Personal Progress. There are a series of tasks and projects to be completed that are designed to help them become personally righteous, spiritually connected young ladies. Adults who either joined the church as adults or otherwise didn't complete their Personal Progress can work on it as well, so I've been trying to focus on that.

There are eight values identified as important traits that we have as daughters of God, and developing those values are what Personal Progress focuses on; the values are Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. I'm working on Faith and trying to incorporate daily prayer and scripture study into my daily life. It's hard for me, so it takes a lot of work. I enjoy it though, and it helps me stay focused on what I want to have in my life. Namely, a happy family and spiritual well-being.

Listening to: Audio books and NPR. These are the staples of my workday. I get cranky without them.

Watching: My TV tastes are changing. I have little patience for most television and things I used to find entertaining no longer excite me. Unfortunately, I can't fall asleep without some background noise so Angel plays at bed time. I'm still looking for the One Great Show.

Loving: My family. My daughter-in-law, who I don't see often enough but whose company I enjoy so much. My parents, who I also don't see enough. I have plans to celebrate Father's Day this Saturday and I'm so excited for that. Aunties and uncles - both biological and those close friends of my mom who have become honorary family members. My step-dad, who hasn't legally been my step-dad for nearly 30 years but who has all the qualities of a dad: he loves me, supports and encourages me, and he cheers me on. He gives me book recommendations and he reminds me that I'm not living up to my potential (something very few people can do without really pissing me off).

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Tale for the Time Being

Have you ever read a book that you then couldn't describe to others? I'm in a book club and we talk about the major themes of the novels we read, the challenges presented to and by the characters, that sort of thing. But honestly, I don't know what to tell you about this book except that it sort of blew my mind. I know some people will (or have) read it and maybe weren't all that impressed. I don't think my mind is so easily blown, honestly, but this book did it. It's about growth and change and self-exploration; it's about the power of the mind and how we interact with one another. It's also about suicide, in a sense, and that always resonates with me. From the book:

Life is a thing that has some kind of weight and shape; this is only an illusion. Our feeling of "alive" has no real edge or boundary. Death is certain; life is always changing like a puff of wind in the air, or a wave in the sea, or even a thought in the mind. So making a suicide is finding the edge of life. It stops life in time so we can grasp what shape it is and feel it is real, at least for a moment.

This is such a different way of thinking about suicide. I've been in that moment; that moment in between heartbeats when life seems so unbearably dreadful that the only way to come to terms with it is to end it - and in that deciding, joy and laughter seep around the edges to remind me that life isn't completely dreadful. That is finding the edge of life. The trick then, is finding the edge of life without making a suicide.

Oh, and there's so much more. Would that I had the words to give you the feelings I had while listening to this book: to make you feel the depth of thought, the black abyss of sadness and confusion, the peace of a Buddhist monastery and that singular Japanese way of thinking about things like death and life and the decisions that make up both.

I don't have those words though, so you should read the book on your own: A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fitting in with ourselves

While catching up on my favourite bloggers today I read this line:

The right person for me will fit me as I am, not me as I wish I was. He won’t be perfect, he’ll have his own stories and issues, but somehow we’ll help each other feel more like ourselves.
This is from Susannah Conway who blogs here, and she's talking about the murky world of dating after being single for a time.

This line really resonated with me, particularly the part about helping each other feel more like ourselves. I've struggled feeling like myself for most of my life. Not in a big serious way, but in small quiet ways - I have often felt like I didn't really know who I was; what did I want out of life? Who did I want to make myself into? I was taught by my parents that I shouldn't work to fit in with my peers, that I should reject the notions of what other people thought I should be; but society tries to teach you to fit in, sit still, be normal, be nice, and for goodness' sake whatever you do do not speak your mind.

I failed at a lot of that most of the time. I have dated a lot of guys that only made those feelings worse. I married a few of them, the very best of them... they helped, a little. Helped me to not feel so outrageously awkward for a little while.

And then there's Steve. We joke about our favourite qualities in the other; he'll say something funny or clever and I'll tell him his sense of humour is my favourite thing about him. Or he'll do something nice and I'll tell him that his kindness and compassion toward others is my favourite thing.

Really though, my favourite thing about him is that he helps me feel more like myself. I can be perfectly at home in my awkwardness, my weirdness, and my inappropriate sense of humour with him and he not only accepts those things about me - he delights in them. I'll completely embarrass myself in public and he isn't put off, doesn't try to distance himself from me. He giggles with me because I'm so awkward and he shows me and everyone else around us that we love being that way.

He's on my side and he makes it okay that I'm odd.

I agree with Susannah - the right person will fit you just as you are. Steve says that there was a Jade-shaped hole in his life, and I fit right in there - just as I am.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Things I'm thankful for

Good friendships and fellow-shipping - one of the principles of the gospel is fellow-shipping. It's a long word that essentially means offering friendship to those around us. It sounds simple but for someone like me, acting on it is not so simple. But I've been doing it. Making friends, attending social gatherings, talking to new people who come to church. And while it's a bit painful, it is putting opportunities in front of me that I don't think I would have had otherwise. I've had a chance to make friends with some great new people in my ward and practice being a kind person. I'm really grateful to have such opportunities.

A strong body - my body isn't as strong as I want it to be, but I'm working on it. And I am reminded that I have a lot to be grateful about with regard to being able-bodied.

Knitting - What a great stress reliever! Okay, I'll be honest: my stress levels are lower than they've ever been in my life. But my capacity for stress is also lower than ever. Making lovely things out of string keeps me from wanting to harm myself and others. And it is more fun than it should be.

Choir - Oh, I joined the choir at church and I'm taking weekly voice lessons. Bet you didn't see that one coming.

Gratitude plays an important role in my life; it's not always easy to be grateful but there is a reason we have dumb phrases about it... so, what are you thankful for?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Death is nothing

I found this image on Facebook this morning. This resonates with me. There were so many times after Colin died when I felt like he was just in the next room. As though I would find him there if I turned my head quickly enough. So many times I would walk into a room and feel like he had just been there and I'd find myself with his name on my lips before I remembered.

Even now, less frequently of course, I'll see something out of the corner of my eye that feels like him. I like to think it's God, telling me that Colin is still with me.

Sometimes that is comforting to me; sometimes, it feels like my soul is inside out.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Never give or take offense

I offended someone recently. If you've known me for a very long time, you'll know that I normally don't care too much about offending people. That I think people are too sensitive in general; that people misunderstand me and for the most part I feel like that's not really my problem.

And that's how I used to feel. Not to be confused with a desire to hurt people's feelings - I just don't have a lot of compassion for people who read more into a situation than is intended. I find it annoying and useless when people do that, and I often lose interest in interacting with people who choose to be upset over assumptions they make.

That said, I don't actually enjoy hurting others, despite the frequency with which is happens. Over the last few years I have been learning a lot about how to be more sensitive and loving; about how to be kind even when people are overly sensitive. About how to care about others and to be more open to them and their feelings. It's hard work, and being sensitive is confusing to me. Squishy feelings don't have a good place to settle in my psyche and I often find myself wanting to get rid of them.

In the course of my work, I offended one of my customers. She didn't do what she was supposed to, and when I gave her instructions on how to do it better next time, I offended her. I got a nasty email today about it and I could tell from the tone of the message that not only did I offend this person professionally, I had also hurt her feelings.

I feel crushed. I'm so frustrated with her and this whole situation. I am angry that she is bringing personal feelings into something that is not at all personal. I am offended that she is twisting my words into something I didn't say at all, and I am irritated that I have to spend on-the-clock time soothing someone's bruised emotions.

But I'm also crushed. I hurt someone's feelings, and I'm really new to caring about that. Someone is feeling disrespected, offended, and disregarded because of words I used. In further conversation, I learned that this woman is being mistreated by her colleagues and isn't receiving the professional support she needs to do her job correctly and she is getting blamed for things that are not her fault. And then I walk all over those feelings. Even though it wasn't intentional on my part, I added to a situation that feels impossible for her. I feel like I might cry.

There's a happy ending though. I apologised, used better words to explain myself, and could offer honest regret for my actions. Even better, I was able to offer a solution that resolved her problem.

I've grown and changed so much, but I still routinely fail at interacting nicely with other humans. I'll be thinking about this the next time I take the sacrament.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Today in knitting

I made a silly list of goals for 2015, and I'm doing really well in one area: knitting. I decided last year to knit Christmas gifts for my family, and it helped me break through my habits of not finishing works-in-progress. So, here's what I've been knitting: dollies, hats, and scarves. I've no pictures of the hat, but here are a few of the others...

These are dollies I made as gifts for two children who were recently baptised as members of my church.


HitchHiker scarf pattern, so named after Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I'm not real clear on the connection, apart from the scarf being designed with 42 points, but whatever. The yarn is from the lovely Miss Babs in Zombie Prom Babette, which is one-of-a-kind-y.

Current projects include secret gift knitting and another dolly (in Camo yarn). So far, I'm on track to finish one project each month in 2015. I'm not doing so well at my writing goals... I guess I can only be successful in thing at a time.


My fans