Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Book Signing, Part Deux

It went well. What else can I say. I'm no supa stah. Barnes and Noble didn't have to hire extra security for crowd management, but I was fortunate.

I got there seven minutes late because I have chronic insomnia, and I sleep late as a bit of a compensation. I got up late, and all seven of us need a turn in the bathroom. I was next to last. Big mistake. Ken went after me. Bigger mistake.

Ken has to be the most deliberate man in creation. He's a pretty immaculate dresser, I mean, because of Ken we have an iron. The concept of ironing is foreign to me. It's like the film Wings of Desire. Foreign. The results were beautiful, but did I really understand it? I think not!

So I was seven minutes late. Yeah, I know that's God's perfect number, but it still sucked to be late as far as I'm concerned. Sara had set me up a table in the cafe--far enough that I would disturb patrons, and easy enough to find. There was a frightening stack of twenty or so of my books and of course the fear that I'd sell none of them, but God was good.

The first person I saw as I took in the table, was my friend Debbie Taylor. She's a wonderful author. She writes children's books. She's always been generous with knowledge, support and anything else I needed to write. It was kind of fiting that she'd be there to greet me. I was so happy to see her. She'd already started the book and thought it was really good. She said, "I wanted to like it because of you, but when I started reading I really liked it." You have no idea how many people have said something similar. I must look like I can't write.

More people came in, and the funny thing, they were all my friends. Not one stranger got a signed book from me that day. That's okay. I'm still building readers. I can blow my little trumpet only so much and then my quiet, reclusive nature reasserts itself. A store full of friends just there to support me. Doesn't get much better than that.

As I was leaving my friend Keysha and her mom showed up. Keysha is the girl I told you about. When we were kids, I told her my stories. My. She's forty now, and I'm almost 42. I haven't seen her since my seventeen-year-old son Lumumba was a baby. It was like coming home, being with her, in the good way that home is a set of people who formed you, who without their lives merging with yours, you wouldn't be who you are. We spent the whole day together, her kids and mine, and she cooked fried chicken. Heaps of it, and I didn't worry about calories because there was so much love in the room.

Signing books is weird. I'm sill not quite used to this new life of mine, but I do know God is with me. It takes the edge off the strangeness of doing interviews, being a "CBA" writer, which means my books are shelved with CBA Christian fiction rather than in the African American section. I have so much to tell you, but I've been really sick. I'm in a lot of pain, even now. I wanted to come back because I've missed you, and I knew you wanted to hear how things went.

Thanks for tuning in, sweet reader. Will you say some prayers for me? The pain is pretty bad.

Grace and peace,
Mair

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Book Signing!

Okay, so it's finally August 12. Today is the book signing at Barnes and Noble. It's my local "debut".

This isn't like my signing in Denver. In Denver I was at ICRS, a big, honkin' Christian booksellers and retailers convention. EVERYBODY who is ANYBODY in CBA publishing was signing a book. I would dare say everybody who is NOBODY was also there with their books, signing away. Let's just say I had a captive audience--and four other amazing NavPress authors signing with me.

Sigh.

But this here signing at the Big Noble. It's just little ol' me, underdog.

I spent yesterday in bed mostly, in terrible pain. I woke up this morning and I still have that lingering, bizarre feeling one has after one's body has had a terrible ordeal. It feels like my body is a little confused. I don't hurt as much as I did yesterday, but I don't feel exactly well, either. Last night Ken brought me the movie Therese, about Saint Terese of Lisieux. It was a little bit campy, but it was also very moving to me. I cried a lot.

This morning I'm thinking of God's little flower Terese, and the book signing at the Big Noble, and the fact that my very own mother just called and cancelled!!!! It's okay really, she's not feeling well, and come on, is this really a big deal? I'm thinking about the fact that I really don't want to go myself, that I could use another day to rest in bed. I'm thinking about that not so small amount of fear that NOBODY will show up and there I'll be, with a pasted smile, horrified that nobody loves me or my book.

That's a lot of pressure to put on a book signing isn't it?

One mustn't look for love at book signings. So, I'm grateful for the movie last night, and even the pain I had. It points to The Little Way.

What is the Little Way?

I'm glad you asked. :O)

The Little Way is how Terese lived her life--a way that would inspire countless souls to live simply for Jesus, including Mother Teresa who took the name of her dear Therese. The little way is not about being big. It's not about celebrity or having legions of fans show up for your book signing. It's about being small. Small like a child. It's about being Matthew 18:3.

Terese, in her spiritual autobiography, The Story of a Soul, says:

This road is the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in it's fathers arms. "Whoever is a little one, let him come to me." (Proverbs 9:4). After listening to words such as these...there is nothing to do but to be silent and weep with gratitude and love. Ah, if all weak and imperfect souls felt what the least of souls feel, that is, the soul of your little Terese, not one would despair of reaching the summit of the mount of love. Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude.

So, I'm taking my rather large self-absorbed insecurities, and putting them in the hands of the kind and gentle Jesus. I'm going to lie without fear in His arms and be content to be small, unknown--a child before Him.

It's okay to be weak and imperfect. I'm going for small today.

Here's a little more Terese for you:

Jesus deigned to teach me this mystery. He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose, and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers.

And so it is in the world of souls, Jesus' garden. He willed to create great souls comparable to Lilies and roses, but He has created smaller ones, and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God's glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.

That's really what I want in the end, to be what God wills me to be. And the more I learn about Him, the less hard it seems. I love that Tozer called God 'winsome'. Isn't that a great word for God--something we often forget? I'm going to go to this signing and just be a little lotus bud. I think that's all God expects of me today: be who I am, and walk in child-like love. I'll let you know how it goes.

Mair


***


Hey folks. This entry is on my brand spankin' new writer blog. I thought maybe I should talk about my book stuff somewhere else. Anyway, writers are supposed to have their writer websites... right? You don't know? Me either. We'll just try this out again. See what happens. Okay.

So, for Claudia Mair Burney writer stuff, and all kinds of book reviews and interviews with way cool writers see: claudiamairburney.blogspot.com. Heather is doing some most excellent design work for me. It'll be ret to go soon. I'll check out all you book lovers over there, and keep meeting all you ragamuffins over here.

Much love,

Mair

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lithe Season: The Beginning

I wanted to begin beautifully.

I awaken in the morning. Do some cleansing ritual. Emerge from hydrotherapy room (that's my bathroom) looking amazing in hot yoga outfit. All day lipstick on already. Mascara. Hair just right.

I go into my bedroom and begin with a prayer. Stretch. Salutation to the Son. Deep breathing. Mindfulness. More prayer. In fact, my body movements become a prayer. It's is everything being lithe is. Flexible, adaptable, hearing God's spirit, letting Him embody me. It is living incarnationally.

Beautiful dream.

Instead, I go to bed in the morning. I sleep too late. Too tired for cleansing rituals in the bathroom that stinks and still needs to be painted. Emerge from the bathroom with stale breath and unbrushed teeth in hot yoga outfit that makes me feel ridiculous because of how the fat rolls protrude unpleasantly. I didn't look like this in my imagination. No lipstick. No mascara. Hair a hot mess.

I go into my bedroom and feel guilty that I didn't start the yoga dvd. Contract. Avoid the Son at all cost except to think how sorry I am that I'm such a mess. Shallow breathing as if I'm always trying to catch up with myself, and I am. Fearing my heart is growing hard, God's spirit just a tiny voice drowned out by the endless monkey chatter in my brain. Live incarnationally? I don't think so. Praying once again, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Painful reality.

So, I don't begin beautifully. I begin with a bad day. A day where I over-ate and over-medicated on purpose, blunting out some long forgotten pain that I can no longer name, but feels so very familiar.

I don't think I've lived in my body for a long time. The evidence of that is visible. Fat rolls, cottage cheese thighs, a face I hardly recognize. Big hulking body that feels too big to be the world. I feel too much. Feel like I am too much. All this I see as evidence, pointing to all the food I've stuffed myself with over these years. My sin visible as a scarlet letter. I don't eat consciously. I eat too fast, as if eating is a chore that interrupts my thought life. I live most comfortably in my head. Or I eat to drug myself. I eat until I don't feel bad things anymore. And sometimes, I eat for reasons that completely bewilder me.

* * *
I like to dance, but I don't do it. I think a long time ago I told myself that I looked silly dancing, and I stopped. But I want to dance. There is a part of me, standing in the window, looking at the world, seeing color, and beauty, and dancing, and wanting to join in, but I just stand there, thinking of how great it must be.

* * *

Once I was a bulimic, weighing less than 90 lbs. I wasn't always that way, but he made me stand on the scale every day and he weighed me. He always knew when I ate something I shouldn't have. He would bombard me with questions. He like that I looked like a prepubescent little girl. I should have known how sick he was even then.

* * *

I only feel fully embodied when I make love. Unfortunately, you can't make love all the time.

* * *

I went to the Christy awards and saw my friend Donna. She said, "You look beautiful." I wanted to look beautiful. I wanted to feel beautiful, but I kept seeing so many tiny people. I felt like a whale. A whale in a black evening dress. I hated that I felt that way.

Later, Donna introduced me, and she talked about how we go out and just enjoy one another. When she said, "And when we are done, there's no more chocolate." I knew what she meant. She meant that we broke bread (or brownies) and gave of one another until too much time has passed and there are no more crumbs left because we savor our time, but there was a part of me that wonder if the people who heard would think it was because I ate all the chocolate. It appalled me that the thought of that crossed my mind.

I can't stand to look at the pictures of myself from Denver.

* * *

My highest weight ever: 185 lbs three months ago Lowest weight in years: 141 lbs in September of 2004. I lost weight because I knew I'd see him.

* * *

My first. Like magic, like a strange dream, there he was again, in my life. Oh my. He was better than he was back then. A man now. All man. Beautiful. Funny. Naughty. That first night we shared hours of sexy talk and I didn't feel like an overweight, middle-aged woman. I was seventeen again, only better. Smarter, funnier, sexier. I had learned a few things in the years stretched out between us. I could devastate him now, with my womanliness. Or so it seemed. We plotted to see each other, and all the sexy talk in the world wouldn't change the fact that I wasn't seventeen anymore. I needed him to remember who I use to be, only a better version. I needed to lose weight, fast, and beloved, I did it. I weighed 145 lbs when he saw me months later. I did the best I could. Yeah. We all say that, don't we? And we rarely do. This time I did. I ran, and my body burned with desire for him. I power walked, went to bed hungry, and refused to let him see me that way. I saw him in the summer. By the following spring I'd gained 10 lbs. Then another five. Then a new medication and thirty-five more. I couldn't believe how miserably I'd failed.

* * *

This is how I begin. Little bits of this and that. Telling the truth no matter how painful. Isn't that what this is about? Losing weight? All kinds of weight. I have no idea how to lose weight, but I suspect that one begins with talking about these things to the very One who created our bodies. I don't even know what to pray. I only know, it's just me and God. A fine man (who is NOT my husband) is not involved. I don't have a real agenda, except that I want to hear God. I want to live incarnationally, knowing the Holy Spirit lives in this house that is so easy for me to disrespect and disregard. I know it is time to move out of my head and engage my life. It is time to learn what Jesus meant when He said we shall have life, and that abundantly.

Maybe I'll fail.

Maybe I'll suceed.

I don't know. I only know that my heart is prostrate, and I am saying, "I am yours. Save me."

Lithe season has begun.

Please note that Lithe Season has it's own blog. http://litheseason.blogspot.com. All subsequent post will be there. You can also find the Lithe Season blog simply by going to my profile, which lists all my blogs. Thanks.
Mair

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Superstar

I'm out of town, taking care of some business. This is like, spy business. It's secret. I can't tell you what I'm doing, or with whom, but I can say I'm having fun.

I am with important people, and in fact, because I had on a badge that said, "VIP". I was even mistaken as an important person. I've never been a VIP. It has perks I don't usually have. I get to sit in close proximity to famous people with VIP status, and some of those people are more famous than others.

Last night I found myself sitting behind a superstar. A fallen idol. I was right behind her but I didn't recognize her. If my daughter Abby was with me she'd have said she looked "a hot mess." I hate a hot mess. They're so much worse than cold or room temperature messes.

The hostess announced this special and unexpected guest, and she cried as she did it, thanking God for her presence. You could tell she loved her. You could tell their friendship went back many years. I don't know that superstar personally, but we went back years too. I remembered when she was a model. There weren't many black models in Seventeen Magazine in the early eighties, and I knew them all by name. She was beautiful. She could have had a career as a model, but dear Lord, that young woman could sing like an angel.

I remember watching her first video on brand spankin' new MTV. I remember when she started making movies. I remember her very public marriage trials and tribulations, and when her crack addiction became common knowledge. I looked at her, sitting there in a simple pair of jeans. A tank top. No make up at all. I couldn't help but think of that scripture about how the mighty have fallen. I felt so sad for her, but I was glad to see her. I'd prayed for her many times reading the tabloids and music magazines. I felt sorry for her. I loved her.

I wanted to tell her I loved her. I believe she can kick crack with God's help. I've known people who have. I wanted to tell her I'd prayed for her, but she was a celebrity, and a VIP pass did not give me a right to invade her privacy. She was there to worship God. Maybe find a bit of peace. Deliverance. I didn't begrudge her that.

I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I wished in my heart, again, that I could just tell her that I prayed for her. I felt like a little part of the miracle that brought her to the place where we both were, where the presence of God was so palpable, so beautiful, but I said nothing.

She turned to the woman beside her and said, "I'm so hungry. I haven't had anything to eat and I'm starving." She was painfully thin. God knows that woman needed to eat.

I, on the other hand, am NOT painfully thin. I'm most volumptous, and that was a kind word I used. As many "volumptuous" people are inclined, I happened to have food on my person. Yes. I had a candy bar in my purse that had traveled with me from Ann Arbor. I bought it days ago. That I still had it was a miracle in itself, and now, a hungry, broken, superstar was right in front of me, starving. What would Jesus do? I don't mean that in a rubber bracelet way, but in that incarnation, Jesus really is in me way. What would He do?

I pulled the candy out of my purse, and scooted up to her. I called her name, and she turned and looked at me. I offered my meager gift to her. She laughed. In very divalicious fashion she said, "I know you did NOT just offer me a candy bar."

The only thing I could think of to say was, "It's a Payday." I said it with a wicked grin.

She laughed again, and took my offering. I leaned into her and said, God bless you. I've prayed for you."

"Thanks, baby," she said. And that was that.

The woman next to her pulled out a healthy snack. Some kind of fruity, granola-y thing. But superstar was still laughing. "She heard me," she said. She heard me say I was hungry and gave me a candy bar.

But I'd like to think it wasn't just me that heard her. I'd like to think that God hears us, that He always hears us, and that when we hunger and thirst--for righteousness, or for a little something to tide us over until we can feast once again--He'll be there with something to feed us with.

I sat back in my seat and watched her. She didn't eat the healthy snack. She ate the Payday bar in little bites as if she were savoring it. I hoped God was in every little bite. I hoped God would surround her, lift her, forgive her, speak tenderly to her, and love on her every day of her life. I pray that the little light in her shines brightly until it becomes greater than the blaze of glory she once new. I pray that when she is down she will remember me, and know that I am still praying for her. I pray that God will use that silly encounter to show His most serious love. He always hears, superstar. Always.

May we all taste of God, and keep savoring of His sweetness until we are filled.

Mair