Wednesday, March 05, 2014

I love you, Newt Gingrich

About 15 years ago, just after officially becoming a Christian with a Capital C, I tried an experiment for Lent - my first official Lent as a baptized Christian. I decided to give up saying mean things about people. This happened to coincide with starting a new job at Talbots World Headquarters - that's a story in and of itself - with a bunch of people who didn't know me from Eve. And so a curious thing happened. In refraining from being a snarky, gossipy bitch around this new group of colleagues, everyone at work started to assume that I was a really nice person. And not really nice in the way that I already am (and was) really nice. Really nice in that almost saintly way. The "oh she wouldn't say a bad word about anybody" way. And it was WEIRD. I didn't even say mean things about Newt Gingrich. At first I had to bite my tongue so hard I'm surprised there is anything left of it. Of course, eventually, the practice became a habit and then the habit became just a natural way of being, and I got really good at refraining from joining in when the conversation got gossipy or mean. I was highly skilled at steering the topic in a different direction, or finding a way to excuse myself. The unintended consequence of my Lenten Practice was that people I worked with were forming opinions about me - and my true self - that weren't exactly true. I felt like an impostor, and that left me feeling at times uncomfortable. But overall I really enjoyed not talking shit about people. It was - liberating.

And of course, just as easily as that all started to come to me, when Lent was over, I slowly slipped back into my bitchy ways. I have no idea what my new friends at Talbots thought about my transformation - or if they even noticed it. I must have told some of my new friends what I was doing, over-sharer that I am, but I don't really remember. What I do remember are those six sort of magical weeks when I refrained from unkindnesses. And what I've wondered ever since is why I didn't just keep going.

This year I'm taking that same practice but stepping it up a notch. Honestly, I'm not exactly sure how it will work, or what it will look like on a daily basis, but here's the basic concept which I will probably have to write down and post everywhere around me to keep myself on course:

"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"
- Matthew 5:44

I don't know what this looks like exactly, but I do know it's more active than passive. It's not refraining, it's loving. It's not withholding, it's praying for. And I like that. We'll see how it goes.

I'm also giving up meat.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Ash Wednesday

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 
- Mary Oliver

Every year, as spring is just barely announcing itself, I get up early and head to church. I step into the aisle between the pews. I walk up to the priest. She dips her finger in the ashes, makes the mark of the cross on my forehead, and says to me, with a smile, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Remember. Not learn. Not understand. Remember. Because the knowledge of our own mortality is embedded. It’s part of being human. It’s a remembrance. We push it away, but we know it to be true: Life is ridiculously, beautifully, painfully short.

I mean, I forget that all the time. Don’t you?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My inner voice is a total asshole


"Why are you even bothering? You have nothing new or interesting to say. What are you, a mommy blogger? That's so extra lame. Stick to your day job, you're a shitty writer. If you MUST blog or whatever, you should at least have a niche. What's your niche? Life? Single parenthood? The Internet? SOCIAL MEDIA? Your hair looks horrible and you have bags under your eyes. You're old and ugly! And a hack! And you're just looking for attention. Stop bothering. You won't succeed at this anyway."

I actually spent about three years in therapy talking - not exclusively, but a whole lot - about this asshole who lives in my head and says hateful things to me all day long. By the end of three years I had learned how to talk back to the asshole, and the asshole got a lot quieter. It turns out that the asshole in my head mostly just wants a hug and a cookie, and needs to be reminded that assholes should be quiet and sit down and let the grown ups handle things. I'm just out of practice, and the asshole has been slowly taking advantage and moving into more and more rooms in my head.

The asshole is just scared, that's all.

Have a cookie, asshole.