The Last Oprah Show

May 25th

I was feeling so depressed today… I’d had a bad week. A family member said some hateful things to me and I realized this relationship is irreparable. I was feeling that shame that only a family member can bring on, feelings of worthlessness and failure, those subsequent feelings when one’s buttons are pushed. Sequel is practically a walking skeleton – when I pet him I can feel all his bones through his fur, yet he still jumps and plays, but I know the end is soon near. And the last Oprah show aired. It felt like a week of loss.

So as I sat down with my chocolate sorbet from Trader Joe’s to console me as the Oprah show began, thinking what a waste of my life I’ve had and used up, I began to listen to her explain her mission; of how she wanted everyone to find their calling, to use their passion and find fulfillment in this life. And I thought to myself I haven’t wasted my life. For I’m on my own path right now doing what I know to be true to me. That can’t be a waste. I watched intently the entire hour and began to realize something. I had an aha moment during this show. All these years of watching and I never once got to a taping. My aha moment intensified as I realized why. I never tried. I thought it was an impossibility to get to Chicago from California and I never tried. I never got a friend who thought it was possible either to go with me. I can honestly say I haven’t done that on most things in my life, luckily, but I have done this on some really important moments in my life. And I considered this a really important moment.

So what do I take away from this aha moment? The idea that I CAN do it and the only one that WILL stop me is myself. I remember when I was 38 and I backpacked through Italy by myself after the end of a relationship and I stopped to visit my parents flying across the country. And my dad said, why do you have to do this? Why do you have to go? And I said, because I can and I may never get another chance. And so far I haven’t been back to Italy and I have wonderful memories of my first solo vacation. I know my father was just afraid for me and wanted to protect me, but I only saw adventure. Interestingly enough, I seem to do this periodically in my life, but not all the time. A muscle that needs to be strengthened.

This revelation will only help me to better define myself. My verbal altercation with my relative will never be resolved I realized, but I know that I gave it my all. I can’t ask any more of myself than that. I know I will grow in my communication skills, that I will grow in my faith, and I will grow in my own strength of character. And the next time I tell myself something is impossible, I’ll remember my missed opportunities. I will miss you Oprah.

From my little piece of Mayberry,
Jo

How People Pray

May 16th

Tonight was our last class of the semester. I’m amazed that in a few days I will be through my first year of seminary. One more class tomorrow, my final paper is complete, and it will officially be end of term! I’ve gone through a full year of school, which I thought would last forever, and it’s gone by faster than my hair grew. We had a final potluck tonight and shared our final projects and I already miss the camaraderie we established in this small and intimate group. Doing the research for my final project – once I got started – was interesting and actually fun. I got to use the UC Berkeley library which was amazing… one of the three that they have… a student’s wet dream! So many books and so little time…. 🙂

I discovered I pray more than I thought I did. I relayed a practice that I have that really touched my classmates and team teachers. I grew up without a bed. I slept on the window seat in our dining room until I was 14 years old. When we moved to another house, my dad fixed up the attic and I had my own room which made me ecstatic. Consequently I’ve made my bed nearly every day of my life… I would say I’ve missed less times than the fingers I have on both hands. I discovered in this class that my reverence for making my bed was a form of prayer; that it has never felt like an obligation, and that I’ve enjoyed it nearly every day of my life. Not having a bed in my formative years when I watched commercials and TV sit-coms of little girls in their canopy beds and Gidget in her room, always made me feel like I had so little. It’s only in my grown up years that I’ve discovered what a blessing that has been for me. It took me years before I could tell people that I even experienced that, for it felt shameful to not have a bed growing up. Now it just feels like a battle scar in a way, a mark of determination and witness to a part of life some people experience and other’s do not. It’s not something I’m ashamed of any longer, growing up poor, but just something that happened to me that I can learn and grow from. And I have been amazed at the reaction from my instructors and fellow students. They’ve taken this experience of mine to heart and I’ve had several tell me what an impact that has made on them when I relay this story. So I guess I’m on my way to being a minister, for isn’t that what ministers do, but encourage and grow one another’s consciousness? I hope that’s something I can do.

So now I take a deep sigh and look around to clean up the clutter and pick up the pieces of all that I dropped this semester… now is the time to start blogging again, to deep clean the bathroom instead of just wiping things down, to go through stacks of papers and junk mail and revel in spring cleaning! I nearly have the summer off! I have 2 workshops one week each and a one week intensive in late August and that is the extent of my educational obligations. It will allow me at least a chance to catch up since I’ve gone part time this first year. I will be going full time next year, full speed ahead I hope, so that I’m not on Social Security when I graduate…. 🙂 sounds like an oxymoron to be on Social Security and a student at the same time. I don’t have my part time job any longer so I may get a chance to look for something flexible this summer. It’s difficult when my class schedule changes every semester to find an empathetic employer, but I know there’s one out there. I’m also hoping that work-study comes through next school year, that could be wonderful! At least they would be understanding…. One can only hope.

So here I sit, with one year of grad school under my belt. Who would’ve thought a year ago that this would have gone so smoothly? I’m looking forward to summer, will even get to Southern Cal to see my cousin’s son graduate from UC Irvine (my younger cousin no less, do I feel old) and then a short visit to LA! That will be nice…. Plus who knows what other adventures await me this coming summer. I’m just thrilled I’m almost through my first year!

From my little piece of Mayberry,
Jo

Back from the Dead

April 28th

It’s been a month since I’ve “blogged” – there’s a lot of catching up to do. It took 3 weeks to recover from this atrocious head cold I contracted in Vegas… oh yes, Vegas! We did come back and left everything in Vegas but the head cold. We were only there for 2 days and it was a jam-packed 2 days indeed. It was a lovely getaway even if it was so short. We visited Chris’s old neighborhood; he grew up in Vegas when it was much smaller and hadn’t seen it since ’87 so it was a whole new experience for him. We found the house in a small cul-de-sac which was very nostalgic for him. We packed in sight seeing that day, rode the roller coaster on the top of New York, New York and met my wonderful friend Rani in Henderson and ate the most delicious seafood gumbo in the world! Sunset Station had this amazing stained glass covering their ceiling that transfixed me for awhile and rain coming down as wall dividers. Very cool. I couldn’t stop staring at it. And the food was so rich I couldn’t finish it. Luckily we had leftovers for Rani to take home. We got to catch up and Chris and Rani actually met each other, which was nice. It’s a nice connection when friends from different eras of my life meet. I like the feeling that brings me. She is a great friend to me and I’m so glad this time I could travel instead of her driving down to LA. Although it is much shorter I discovered to drive from LA than from San Francisco…. Next trip by plane!

We toured the Strip by day and by night and reaped the benefits of the different beauty of each. We had a front and center spot to view the water show of the fountains in front of the Bellagio under dark skies and glittering lights. And we saw them during day too under sparkling sunshine! We packed up the next morning and actually gambled an hour before we left. … that’s how serious of a gambling streak we have in each of us.. tee hee.. we almost forgot to gamble. Which was probably good, as I only lost $27.00 and that might have been worse, although I only budgeted 40.00 for gambling in my spending plan…. I know, I’m a cheap date. We drove through pouring torrential rains coming back, however, that were a bit scary at times. At one point I couldn’t see the road, slowed to a crawl and almost pulled to the side, but thought better of it. We were the only ones on the road at the time so we pressed on. Monsoon season in the desert. We arrived safe and sound though in Sacramento and had nice warm soup to slurp once we got there. Just in time to watch the last half of The Hangover on HBO….. fancy that!

That’s when I began to slowly slip into the cold from Hell. I was sick for 3 weeks, missed days of work but only one day of class. I did fall behind though in my reading and writing reflection papers and any upkeep whatsoever of my apartment. When I finally crawled out of this virus, I had 3 loads of laundry and a lot of cat hair to clean up. During the progression of this sickness, I had so many wonderful ideas of blogs I could write, but alas, when the virus left, so did the amazing thoughts! Or could they have just been hallucinations???? Congestion does strange things to one’s brain.

It’s interesting what happens to the mind when the body gets sick. It only proves to me how interconnected both parts are. My mind and body both knew I needed recuperation and no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t sleep less than 12 hours a night. Rest is a remarkable curative. Eventually my sore throat disappeared and after using an entire box of kleenix, that stuff disappeared too. I found myself isolating; I think as all mammals do. During the course of this month, I received my Income Tax Refund and could take Sequel to get his ultrasound. It confirmed he has lymphoma and that made me sad. I could tell when he wasn’t feeling well, he isolated too. It must be a trait of warm-blooded creatures. My vet was encouraging however. Since I couldn’t spend the additional 300.00 for the needle biopsy (I’ve already spent 1500.00 on vet bills in the last 6 months, believe it or not), she gave me a regimen for him to be on and we are treating him without definitive proof of the cancer. If it’s not lymphoma, then it’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome and they treat them with the exact same drugs. So what do I have to lose? He’s getting the diet and medication that will help him either way, and that’s a good thing. She said I could have him another year or two just using this regimen if it is cancer, so that created hope for me and that’s the best I can do. When I took Callie in the next day for her problem, I discovered she’s allergic to flea bites and is on the same medication as Sequel. So both my cats are on steroids!! Cats on steroids, good name for a band huh?

So my next project is getting them out of the house to flea bomb it. No easy feat, but I’m working on the logistics. At least we’re a little bit healthier family now. Could I ask for anything more?

From my little piece of Mayberry with cats on steroids,
Jo
🙂