Becoming Into Another Decade

A lot has happened since the first day of 2010. That’s true for the world at large, of course, and probably true in any of our individual lives. I’m a sucker for new beginnings, and for nice round numbers ending in zero, so despite a pretty tough 2019, I find myself very hopeful as we face the beginning of a new year and a new decade tomorrow. It would be easy to look back at the last ten years and see all the things that haven’t turned out as I had hoped or planned. As a type 4 on the enneagram, I am someone who makes great big beautiful plans and goals on a regular basis, and regularly finds myself shocked and embarrassed when I am unable to bring them to fruition. (Hey, remember when I was going to do 40 new things for my 40th birthday? Yeah, let’s try to forget.) But rather than wallowing in my losses and failures (we 4s looove to wallow), I’d like to look back gratefully at all the things I was able to become in the 2010s, and (maybe in a later post) dream hopefully of some things I’d like to become in the 2020s.

In the past decade, I have become:  Continue reading “Becoming Into Another Decade”

A Prayer for Everyone Eating Christmas Dinner in a Hospital

Dear God,

This is not really where we want to be spending today. There are many reasons we are here with a tray of hospital food, instead of around a beautifully spread table at home with a great big loving family, like all the TV commercials and holiday cards and sappy songs on the radio seem to imply we should be. But here we are. Continue reading “A Prayer for Everyone Eating Christmas Dinner in a Hospital”

The Silences of “Silent Night”

It was two hundred years ago tonight, on Christmas Eve of 1818, that Joseph Mohr’s poem came together with Franz Xaver Gruber’s guitar music and the song “Silent Night” was born. I couldn’t let that anniversary go by without writing about it. We talked about it at church tonight, where my husband played it on guitar for our candlelight communion service. I thought about my visit to Salzburg, Austria years ago, where I saw the house where Joseph Mohr was born, an unassuming old house on an out of the way street. He was born in poverty, to an unwed young woman who worked in textiles. To become a priest, Mohr had to obtain special permission from the pope because of his “illegitimate” birth. I was moved by that story, how someone from such humble beginnings could earn a place in history because of the words he wrote, and when we were in a Christmas shop in Salzburg later the same day, I bought a fragile egg shell ornament painted with the first line of the song in its original German. It has hung on my Christmas tree every year since, in my many different homes across different states and different countries. Continue reading “The Silences of “Silent Night””

T is for Trauma

(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

There are not many places you’ll still see a pager in 2018, but the hospital where I work is one of them. I have the small black beeper clipped to my lapel or in my pocket (if I’m lucky enough to find an outfit with pockets that day) at all times when on duty. The tones of my hospital pager are as familiar to me as . . . well, as any sound you’ve heard almost daily for over ten years. I always set mine to “Pleasing Alert” and that particular series of beeps is the most pleasing of all the options, it’s true. There are some times, though, when the Pleasing Alert is not what I hear. If the beeps instead are jarring, tapping out the same rhythm that in Morse Code means “S-O-S,” then I know that this is a trauma call. Continue reading “T is for Trauma”

6. Experience a Total Solar Eclipse

(This post is part of my series 40 New Things at 40.)

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It was the kind of thing that you can’t really plan, not completely anyway. I was just lucky enough to be in the path of a total solar eclipse that happened while I was 40. So I’m counting it! The hype surrounding this “Great American Eclipse” (so called because the moon’s shadow crossed the continental U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina) was incredible. Schools and businesses in my area were closed for the day, partly because everyone wanted to be free to see the eclipse and partly because authorities had no idea how people would react to the sky going dark in the middle of the afternoon. Would people driving simply stop in the middle of the road to gawk at the sun being blotted out, or run their cars off the road in surprise (even though the media had been telling us for months that it was coming)? Would animals run wild, not comprehending what was happening? Would there be mass hysteria?! Continue reading “6. Experience a Total Solar Eclipse”

5. Get DNA Tested

(This post is part of my at-least-year-long series 40 New Things at 40.)

There are some things that still make me feel like I am living in the future. The fact that I can spit into a test tube and some scientist in a lab can use it to examine my DNA is one of those things. Last year, I got my test kit from 23 and Me, one of a few different options in the DNA testing market now. Full disclosure: I chose them because my husband gained a perfectly delightful cousin through DNA testing, whose story was so compelling that 23 and Me turned it into a promotional video (which was filmed on our wedding day, but cousin Jordan still managed to make it to the reception). I wondered if my own DNA results would reveal anything surprising about my ancestry. Continue reading “5. Get DNA Tested”

4. Be the Tooth Fairy

(This post is part of my yearlong series, 40 New Things at 40.)

Some people have asked me for the complete list of my #40newthingsat40, but I didn’t make one in advance. I had some ideas written down before I started, but others I knew would be new experiences that would arise organically because of all the recent changes in my life. One of those happened when my 7-year-old stepson lost a tooth. He was wiggling and pulling at it all evening, and when he brushed his teeth that night, it pretty quickly fell out. He immediately started wondering what the Tooth Fairy would leave him.  Continue reading “4. Be the Tooth Fairy”

How Did This Judgmental 1950s TV Housewife Get in My Head?

I’ve been married all of six months. Everyone says the first year of marriage is the hardest, because of all the change it brings. Some of those changes I knew to expect. But one thing I was not prepared for was all the guilt. I’ve been surprised by the guilt that comes from not meeting all these expectations I didn’t even realize I had for myself as a wife and (step)mother. I am an unapologetic feminist, and didn’t think traditional gender roles carried much weight in my psyche. It turns out that on some level, they do. It’s like I have this horribly perfect housewife from some old TV show (because nobody is that perfect in real life) breaking into my thoughts, constantly telling me how I’m screwing everything up. Continue reading “How Did This Judgmental 1950s TV Housewife Get in My Head?”

3. Do Back-to-School Shopping for a Child in Need

(This post is part of my year-long series 40 New Things at 40.)

I love shopping for school supplies. As a child, I looked forward to it every year. If I close my eyes, I can still clearly picture my very first school bag, bright red with silver buckles, emblazoned with the logo of the 1981 movie version of the musical Annie. (It looked kind of like this, except I don’t remember the main image being cartoon Annie and Sandy.) It helped me through the difficult first day of kindergarten, when I was homesick and missed my mom and a mean boy told me I had a fat belly. Pretty much every year, I would get a new backpack (except when my grandparents got my brother and me L.L. Bean backpacks, which lasted and lasted) and a colorful assortment of notebooks, folders (I still miss my Trapper Keeper), pencils, erasers, and other supplies. When I grew up, I looked forward to going back-to-school shopping with my own kids. Continue reading “3. Do Back-to-School Shopping for a Child in Need”

2. Take an Aerial Fitness Class

(This post is part of my year-long series 40 New Things at 40.)

I was worried, unsure whether my newly-40-years-old-and-overweight-for-nearly-all-of-those-years body could handle this. Before I signed up for the class, I emailed the owner of Aerial Fit Charleston to get her honest opinion on whether someone as old and out of shape as I am should really try aerial fitness classes. Would the materials hold my weight? Would I be able to keep up with the rest of the class? Would I make a fool of myself?  Continue reading “2. Take an Aerial Fitness Class”