Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On Libraries

The Library has revoked my privileges. While many of you may jump to the conclusion that my delinquent self must have accomplished some great feat of mischievousness to have my library privileges suspended, it is in fact due to something infinitely less interesting and more frustrating.

Damascus has refused to pay taxes that will give their over burdened tax-payers access to the one of the few reliefs we have from this world - reading. Unfortunately for my reading addiction, I live in Damascus.

[Beware of rant to follow}

Honestly, when we pay some $5,000+ a year in property taxes (which is high even for Portland standards), they should bloody well include a library card. Not only am I outraged by this public service that we've been denied, but so are many others. The revolting decision to remove our library access was made by officials and nary a Damascus citizen consulted.

[Rant somewhat bated below]

I can easily continue on about politics and the deficiencies in our system, but I will be succinct and simply say that I'm disappointed that our city values reading and continued education so little that they are unwilling to pay the measly fee that would ensure that their people have access to the library.

Perhaps I'll stage a peaceful protest demanding our library rights back. I'm ready to grab my picket and start marching against this injustice, following the example of those written about in books I no longer have access to.

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing. - John Adams

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Things that Make Me

Things that make me...

...feel bubbly inside:  Andy

...sad:  forgotten and discarded children

{via}  old couples in love


...angry:  mean and unkind comments


...want to dance: Matt Nathanson's music (and watching Jordan & Tatiana)


...feel at home: tea


...catch my breath: lightning storms

...laugh out loud: discussions on bodily functions


...sick: rape


...feel longing: string concertos (especially Antonio Vivaldi)


...relax: quilting


...anxious: performing


...feel joyful: sunshine


...frustrated: politics


...disappear: reading

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The African Queen Quilt

For some reason, all these fabrics make me think of Africa - a modern Africa - but they're so wild and tribal looking that I feel like I'm transported to another part of the world.  As such, I've decided to name this quilt "The African Queen." Unfortunately due to bad lighting, it renders the blues bluer than the teal-ish color that they are in actuality.  You'll just have to imagine.

Fabrics by Moda & Michael Miller & other misc designers.  I'm excited about how the quilt is turning out. 

And this is the mess that is my sewing area:

You can see the edge of my beautiful Bernina Artista 165 that was my Christmas/Birthday/Anniversary present. I ♥ it. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

On Empathy

In response to my last post, I've received a lot of comments, concerned emails, and friends asking me with a too serious face "Are you doing better?"

I suppose I should explain my feelings in a more descriptive manner. To start off with, if you ask my husband or my friends how they would describe me or what they like most about me, they'll usually say something along the lines of "her upbeat attitude" or "the energy she brings to life." And if you asked me how I would describe myself, I'd include the words energetic, silly, and fun.

And 99% of the time, I feel alive and enthusiastic. I know that every person in the world has days when life is just hard or that enthusiasm with which you greet each morning is a little duller than normal. We blame it on work, on stress, on a lack of sleep. But honestly, I don't have many days when I feel even these minor "downers", well enough experience depression.

I've had many friends who have struggled intensely with depression - and before last week, I never understood. I sometimes felt like shaking them and asking "How can you not be in love with a world this amazing and interesting? There is beauty and life everywhere you look - you just have to pay attention."

But on Monday, a little more than a week ago, I experienced what many people struggle with on a daily basis. I felt, for the first time in my entire life, the consuming void of depression. And knowing, from experience, that talking about these things can encourage others who have struggled similarly, I blogged about the experience while feeling mostly compassion for the people in my life who feel like this every day.

I strongly believe that everyone in the world faces a daily battle. For some people, it is merely getting out of bed and getting on with life. For others, it is an addiction or a secret selfish sin. But I know that each person wakes up and has to fight their own Battle. I've found that I not only feel compassion towards people fighting (or losing) their battles, but empathy. Perhaps it is my overactive imagination, but I put myself in the shoes of others, and I see how they see the world, and for the most part, I can't say that I would have made different choices if I had walked in their shoes.

Which is why in the past, if I had thought about depression, I never understood how a person could feel nothing. On a regular day, I have a million emotions jumbling around on my insides. I feel strongly. I feel deeply. But, until last week, I had never not felt anything.

I now understand how consuming depression is and how, when you're depressed, you don't want help. You don't want to stop feeling the nothingness. You just want to disappear underneath your bedsheets and never move again. I get it.

Which was the point of my last blog, to shout out to the world, that I get it now. I empathize. I sympathize. I understand.

When someone comes to me and says "I just feel depressed lately," I can say to them, "Girl - I know what that feels like. It feels like this, this, and this." And we'll connect and we'll talk about what it means to be human and to face the difficult things in life. We'll be able to direct one another to the great Warrior who will shelter us in the shadow of His wings.

I suppose if there is one thing I want to be in this life, it is a person who loves people. And I'm not sure that you can truly love someone if you can't empathize with them. I think that with empathy comes acceptance and then love. When we begin to love the people in our lives and accept them with their faults and flaws and not despite them, I think we are one step closer to understanding Christ's love for us.

That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Battle on the Inside

It's so hard when it doesn't come easy. 

On Monday, I felt empty and dead inside- as if there was nothing worth the effort of doing. I imagined myself giving up completely. I imagined not going to work again - not getting out of bed - not moving. I imagined my life slowly disappearing until I was an unknown sitting on the side of the street holding out a cup - not really caring if anyone noticed me. I imagined the blank look in my eyes never going away and just sitting there after having lost everything - empty. I played a Dixie Chicks (Patty Griffin) song in my head -

I came home in the evening

Sit in my chair

One night they called me for supper, but I never got up.

I stayed right there - in  my chair.

There's a whole lot of singing

That's never gonna be heard

Disappearing every day

Without so much as a word

Somehow ...

It was the first time I understood how people allow themselves to just disappear inside. I believe that it may be the first time I have truly felt depression without a good excuse. What's worse is that I didn't want to stop being depressed. I let myself wallow in the rainy place in my mind and I didn't try that hard to find the Sun.

After a day of listlessness, I wrote poetry describing the emotionless pit into which I'd fallen. I forced myself to work out and I flip-flopped between pushing myself until I could feel something and slowly dragging my feet, one foot in front of the other.

I came home and crawled in bed,  covered my face with the blankets, and found I couldn't cry. I couldn't feel anything.I skipped bible study, even though I felt (which is the most amazing thing) God pushing through my fog of depression encouraging me to go. And I just laid there. Depressed.

I am fortunate that God gave me my husband whose name, Andrew, literally means "Man-Warrior." My amazing man-warrior came and held me in his arms, teased me gently, and made me smile - fighting off the emotionless clouds that had filled my skies. He listened while I explained that I felt depressed and I didn't know why. He listened and he encouraged me, but more than that - he made me feel. As I lay there in his arms feeling loved and encouraged, I realized that most people don't have their own personal warrior to fight the battles that they've given up fighting. I wondered how many people just gave up and walked around dead inside.

Perhaps they deal with it by pushing themselves so hard that their achievements cover the emptiness they feel. Maybe they deal with it by just giving up or drinking it away.  Maybe they cover it with busyness. Maybe they deal with it in poetry or exercise or church or music or dance or decorating or cleaning or cuddling with their husband.

I'm ashamed to admit that I couldn't deal with it alone - that I was content to wallow alone in my room. I'm ashamed to admit that I rejected God's help and his prompting. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't do it on my own - that I needed Andy.

And yet, I'm learning that we need eachother and that needing one another is not a liability, but a source of strength. Perhaps if everyone in the world had someone who helped them, the world would be a healthier place. In so many ways, I feel like a failure for not going to God with this and dealing with it - just God and I. My mind makes me believe that resolving this privately with God would have been the "holier" response. And yet, our God is a God of relationships and He has given us eachother for a reason. Even more so now, I believe that God has called us to support eachother.

In many ways, if I imagined a spiritual battle where the Enemy had injured me, Andy was the comrade who pulled me back to the Healer. He was the warrior on the battlefield who fought with me and supported me when I'd fallen.

Which leads me to wonder, in the spiritual battles we all face, who are our comrades? Who do I support when they're struggling? Who am I neglecting to carry when they've been wounded? Who is walking around in my life feeling dead inside and I've not noticed?  Who do I need to carry back to the Healer who not only heals our wounds, but gives us life?

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

2nd Corinthians 12:9

Perhaps this is my call to arms. Perhaps this is the beginning of me noticing the battles that are being waged around me and choosing to support and fight alongside the warriors in my life. Perhaps dying inside is the beginning of living..