Mar 24, 2013

Going All Spiritual...

I talk a lot over here about my neuroticism, but not nearly as much about my faith, even though it is my faith that is a whole lot of why I have been able to get healthier over the years.  Plainly put, Jesus gives me hope.  Not fakey feel-good fluffy hope, but real, gritty, fighting hope.  He's kind of a big deal to me. 

As I am in the process of re-forming my social structure, I am again (and again. and again) observing how I go about making friends and forming relationships, and how we (the Cat Daddy and I as a couple) go about finding our friends and church and social niches, and how we (the BIG "we") live with and around each other.  And since this is, like, the fifth time or so, I have begun to discover the things that are true about me every time (as well as the things that vary according to the journey and my place in it), and the things that are true about us every time (and the things that vary), and the things that are true about Us every time (and the many ways we are different, but even in our differences how we are relatively the same).  Someone hand me a friggin' sociology degree, please. 

It may not seem that Jesus and sociology would necessarily go together, except that for me they do.  And somehow right now it feels important to me to put a little more out there as to where I sit with some things, and in particular with my faith.  Not to proselytize, necessarily, but just to say "here I am" and share some of that part of me [but if you would like to be proselytized please let me know. I'm pretty sure we could both get some kind of bonus points or something].

It's just that every time I go to try to put it down, my thoughts go in a weird spiral.  Our church here has a Baptist-esque bent, and I've been hearing about this three-minute testimony business, and I'm just not sure what to think about that.  It would be great if I could get my journey into a three minute nutshell, but there's no way to do it justice, and anything less makes it sound like I'm trying to sell you something. And I promised myself several years back, after several stints in various types of sales jobs thru college and early adulthood, that I never have to sell anything ever again. Even (especially?) Jesus.

And still, when I really try to find a starting point, I end up with something like: "I love Jesus, I'm a bit of a neurotic, and I'm a little inappropriate sometimes."  I've actually said this in conversation and surprisingly, it's fairly effective in conveying in a nutshell who I am.  More like three second testimony--BOOM!

But it's not complete. 
--It doesn't cover how I grew up in the thick of the Evangelical subculture; how I was the epitome of the goody-goody church kid, and how starting around the age of 16 God more or less showed me that I was full of crap, and set me on my journey of becoming WAY less churchy in favor of becoming WAY more real, authentic, and--dare I say--godly (capital G? lowercase G?  I never know which to use).  It used to be easy to describe myself in church-kid terms because--based on Christian school and youth group--I had deduced over the years what good Christians were supposed to look, think, talk, and act like, so I just tried to squeeze myself into that box (which I had created) and become it. 

--It doesn't cover how, even though as a kid I got in trouble for talking in class, and was a little hyper with one foot over the boundary toward "weird," I lived with what I didn't realize was pretty intense anxiety. And also, that deep down I would turn out to be an introvert, and slightly socially stunted.  Well, maybe.  There are those who assure me that I am not nearly as awkward as I think I am, and that my manners are just fine.  Some days I believe them, and some days I don't.  But I'm pretty dang sure about the introvert-thing.

--It doesn't cover how I can give all sorts of good advice about being yourself, and I can pull off a confident demeanor, but how really I'm barely scratching the surface of learning to be fully myself in my own life (Jesus and sociology, right there).

--It doesn't cover how a people-pleaser with control issues who wants everyone to get along, dangit, came to marry a (good and honorable) guy who cares very little what people outside of his trusted circle think of him, and will ro-shambo you for most anything. And then he joined the military (SPOILER ALERT: the answer is a whole lot of character-building).

--And it doesn't cover what I hold most dear.  It doesn't cover how I came to learn about and believe in God's Grace.  The serious, scandalous kind.  The kind of Grace that onlookers get nervous about, because they're afraid it's permissiveness and that people are going to run out and start drinking beer naked in the streets or something, but when you go deeper you find that it's anything but permissive.  It's real and serious, and pretty much everything hinges on it. It doesn't keep you from living your life; in fact it frees you to the fuller life that John guy mentions in that one verse (10:10).

That last one is really what I want to talk about, but it might take a while to get there.  There are other stories to tell, and for goodness' sake I can't stay in the serious forever.  Plus I haven't even begun the saga of Nipples and Public School.   

So please bear with me. It might get a little clunky, but hopefully it will smooth out over time. I'm not hoping for debates.  I might be open to discussions, but I haven't decided yet.  Feedback is OK as long as you're suuuuuuuuper nice about it.  Remember, I like everyone to get along, dangit.

And I promise I won't forget the cat. His story will continue to be told...

Mar 20, 2013

Flailing Fish No More...

Last night I was doing P90X (cuz we do that now), and I was getting a little discouraged about how I'm nowhere near the skill level of Tony Horton, or even the extra Real People (a selling point--"Hey these are just Real People! If they can do it so can you!) they placed in the DVDs. I kept reminding myself that it's a process, that even crazy Tony Horton took years to get ripped and be able to do crazy amounts of pull-ups and whatnot. But I still felt a little down about it.

So during Ab Ripper X I made the decision that I would just do what I could do, and try as best I could to fight for proper form, and as Tony says, to do my best & forget the rest.

As we moved along through the 349 ab-tacular moves, I noticed something. I remembered back to the very first time I did Ab Ripper X, and how little of it I could do. In particular there was one exercise called Oblique V-Ups, but I renamed it Flailing Fish because that's what I looked and felt like that first time.  I couldn't even get my body to coordinate itself into the desired motion, much less use it to work the intended muscles.

Well, I still look nothing like the extra Real People with their straight legs and whatnot, but I can do several Oblique V-Ups in a row now.  And somewhere, deep down in there (like way deep), I can feel my obliques beginning to work. 

I am a Flailing Fish no more...

Mar 14, 2013

Aggravation Isn't Always Bad...

(Photo from here. Turns out they now make Aggravation in a modern verson. I like the old one better. I might be turning into a grumpy old person.)

Aggravation was one of the games I played with my grandparents when I was a kid. The rules are on the order of the game Trouble, but without the Pop-O-Matic bubble, and instead of lame old plastic pieces it uses real marbles. The opaque glass kind, that kind of look like candy or fruit, or at least they make you think of deliciously round red berries. Or maybe that's just me. Point being, even when one is not playing Aggravation, one could roll the marbles around in the trough created by the cardboard thingy inside the game box, or have marble races using the tilted gameboard, or swipe a few for one's regular marble collection, or any number of things for which one might want to use a colored marble or two.

I'm uncertain as to the details--meaning there may or may not have been thievery involved--but I now possess an old school Aggravation game; possibly the same one I used to play with my grandfolks. It has sat on the shelf for at least 10 years, surviving my increasing attempts at thinning and decluttering. Every time I'd come across it I would reason with myself that I hadn't played it in years, and that my kids probably wouldn't be interested in it (and I'm still in the stage where one or more of them want to eat the marbles for real)...but then I'd think about those colorful marbles, and the game would stay on the shelf, untouched and undiscarded.

Well. I got more aggressive than normal with the decluttering with this last move. We went thru everything, and got pretty ruthless about donating, so once again I was faced with this game.  I looked inside the box and found that it was missing some marbles (I sighed knowingly--aren't we all missing a few marbles??).  I looked around eBay for Replacement Aggravation Marbles and only found entire replacement games, which we really didn't need.  So I changed my focus and looked into selling the parts we had, but there wasn't much of a market for Vintage Aggravation Game Boards.  The Cat Daddy was all, "Come on, Skerrib, you're the one who wants to get rid of stuff. Just toss it in the recycle bin." And he was right...but I hemmed & hawed and let it linger.      

So then a few weeks ago, the boys were honing their sweet skill of getting-into-stuff-when-mom-is-otherwise-occupied, and came upon this incomplete Aggravation game.  We opened it up and began to play with it as best we could, and it turns out they loved it!  The Littler One pretty much makes up his own rules as he goes along, but His Highness did a great job, even making adjustments on the fly as I checked the rules (it had been over 20 years, after all). "No Mom, you can't jump your own guy." "Ah, you're right, Son."

Then I had a minor epiphany (not like this one) and adjusted my search a little bit (ie: overhauled it completely), and came upon this website, which happened to have a category specifically for replacement board game marbles (not to mention most any marble you could possibly want), available in individual quantities. Kind of random, kind of nerdy, but mostly awesome.  I ordered exactly what I needed, and for less than $7 my Aggravation game is now complete.  The color and size aren't an exact match to the originals, but they are close enough that it more than does the job.

This is one of those little gifts that makes me happy.  I love this memory of my childhood, and I love it that my kids get to enjoy it as well.  I do think there's just something about marbles--being able to handle them, roll them around, and of course wish for shiny colored candy.

And now of course I'm really glad I hung onto the Aggravation...