Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's Rarely As Bad As You Thought It Would Be

So, on Thursday I finally talked to Miss Sylvia, my boss. I talked to Miss Deonne first, to get my courage up. I should have so been fired weeks ago, but Miss Sylvia is oddly, extraordinarily kind to me (another example of God's grace). I told Miss Deonne about Nia, and the first thing she said to me was, "Your first call is to be a mother." Wow. Talk about hearing from God. Remember when I told you, right before I went to Xavier University, that my spiritual director told me to follow my desire? Well before I went to work on Thursday, I searched my heart as much as I could, and my desire was to protect who was most vulnerable in my present situation: my children. Following my desire was simple. I wanted to be with them, and help them to heal. But I also saw the value of working, and I also want to write. Badly. My desire is in all these things.

I wasn't sure how Miss Sylvia would react to this interest I have in working part-time. Daycare centers can be delicate in terms of balance. There have to be so many workers for so many children present at all times. Besides that, ideally, she needs a strong 2 year old teacher; that's why she hired me. Unfortunately I've been a hot mess. All the potential is there, but that's all I've been, potential. And there I was, in her office again, for yet another of my talks.

For the record, I've tried to be straight with her. I figured a no BS approach was best, come what may. But the thing is, I never knew what come what may would bring.

I always thank Sylvia for her generosity. I admit I'm problematic, and then I lay out what's going on. I told her simply that Nia needs me. Home life is messy for us Burneys right now, and I have to homeschool her. I just have to. I told her I want to continue to work, but unless I can go part time, either three days per week, or fewer hours per day, I couldn't stay with the center. Will wonders cease, lovies? She said I could work from 8 am-1 pm, Monday through Friday. Which is pretty perfect. All that worrying I did. Things are rarely as bad as you think they're going to be.

So, Nia will begin homeschooling on Monday. I'll give her a schedule and work to begin while I'm at the center, and when I get home we'll work together and I'll check over what she did while I was gone. I'll still put in enough hours at the daycare center to take care of many of our needs, plus those hours won't wear me out, and they'll give me more time to write. This is a big win, y'all. Yes, there will be less money, but I have a lot more peace about it. I believe God is in this decision.

I don't think everyone in my life will agree with my choice, but these are not people who are available to help me homeschool my child, or deal with the difficulties of our fractured homelife right now. In so many ways, scaling back at work is an act of faith, not just in God, who is slowly restoring my relationship with him that was sooooo damaged by the prolonged illnesses, it's also an act of faith in myself, in my ability to indeed homeschool, and be a good mother--CeCe, I haven't believed I was a good mother for a looooong time. It's an act of faith that I can have a good life--a godly life, when there is every bit of evidence to the contrary. Simplifying, and letting go and letting God, is an act of faith that, as my beloved friend Jon says, though awful things happen, we get better. We're supposed to get better.

I feel better. I really do.

I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Like a Weaned Child

I'm talked out. It's as if someone died suddenly, and I'm the one who has to tell everybody what happened. Over and over and over again. I'm trying so hard. In as much as I could, I've welcomed the anger, grief, bitterness, and pain, and found they're all things I've felt before. They pass. And I've welcomed gratitude, inasmuch as I can. I pulled on the big girl panties, and tried to ask the big girl questions, and maybe the biggest question of all: God, what do you want me to do? And I waited, listening for his answers. They seem to be, "take care of your health; take care of your children; trust Me." But really, it's hard to tell if that's God, or me.

I'm sick. Oh, Lord, I've said that so much lately that I rolled my eyes even to type it. When I couldn't drag myself out of bed today, despite a valiant effort, "take care of myself" was an easy choice. It was no choice. My body imposed a sabbath on me, and it was kinder than some. Cancer is the sabbath for a dear friend of mine. A heart attack for another. Last week suicide was my cousin's rest, or he thought it was. God have mercy on him. Poor Randy. I asked myself, "What is important?" This is vital! And I kept seeing my children, especially Nia Grace. I had to withdraw her from school last week because she was bullied and misunderstood so badly. She needs a mother so much right now, and God have mercy on me for asking if being a mother is more important than working a minimum wage job. I'm grateful for my job. Jobs are hard to get, and that one was, too. Here's irony, lovies. I take care of children. Do I sacrifice my own to do so? While I'm giving myself to the kids at the daycare center, four blocks away my daughter is at home, baffled, needing to homeschool, depressed, and sleeping her days away.

Who do I trust? Who is my provider? What is foolish? What is wise? What would love do in my circumstances?

The truth is, I can't hear God or my own answers to any of these questions unless I'm postured to hear. What do I need to even pray effectively? Lovies, Nia isn't the only one who needs a mother right now; I need one, too. I need God to be my Mother. At the moment, I'm overwhelmed by almost everything.

Psalm 131 is the scripture presently speaking to my heart:

"O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me."

In a way, I wish I were a suckling child, but I have to be a big girl now, but not too big! I'm still small enough to sit there with Mama, calm (finally), quiet, and trying my best to hear. Speak to me, Mama. Please.

I love you all. Thanks for being here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Welcoming Prayer

What do you do when you don't recognize your own life anymore? When the screeching voice leaving the awful message on the answering machine--the message that will undoubtedly be used against you later--is your own condemning voice? Where do you put the anger that swells and dissipates only to surge again? Nothing makes sense anymore. I'm hollow on the inside. My heart is a numb fold of scar tissue.

My friend Joe suggested I try welcoming prayer. The name is so friendly sounding, isn't it? Welcoming Prayer! You half expect it to greet you with a grin, a pitcher of lemonade, and plate full of brownies. "Come on in here, girl, and talk to Jesus!" I wasn't quite sure exactly what the welcoming prayer was, so after some clarification from Joe, I googled, and found this on Busted Halo:

" history of the Welcoming Prayer is a little surprising. It’s not an ancient practice, though it’s an ancient idea. Mary Mrozowski of Brooklyn, New York — a practitioner of Centering Prayer and friend of Father Thomas Keating — developed the method. She was inspired by Abandonment to Divine Providence, an early 18th century spiritual work by Jesuit priest and spiritual director, Father Jean Pierre de Caussade. Father Thomas and others saw the value of her little method and over the years it has been supported, fine-tuned and expanded, within the community of people who practice Centering Prayer and beyond.
If you are struggling with a bad feeling, the power of this little method is that it offers a structured way to embrace and accept it, so you can release it and move on. There are three phases to the Welcoming Prayer. You might go directly from one to the next in a single, relatively formulaic prayer sequence. Or you might find yourself staying in one phase as it does its interior work. Using Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault’s labels, the three parts are:
  1. Focus and sink in.
  2. Welcome.
  3. Let go."
Let's just say, um, I'm struggling with a bad feeling, or twenty (thousand). And there's no sense pretending I'm not, because I am. And there's no sense hiding being a mask of piety. Nothing like the unraveling of primary relationships to strip you of pretenses. I didn't know I could feel such anger again. I knew it was possible once upon a time. I spent my thirties angry--the entire decade. But life was very different. I didn't think I'd revisit that level of existential pain again. I guess I was wrong about that. It may not be same stuff, different day, but lemme tell ya, different stuff, same feelings offers little consolation.

It's awful to sit with such terrible, negative feelings. They feel monstrous, like they'll devour me. To consider focusing on them and welcoming them frightens me. But maybe I'm giving them too much power. What is anger? Sorrow? Even humiliation? All of these I've felt before. And worse! All of them were feelings Jesus experienced as well. He isn't afraid of the either. Still, I resist. But it can't be worst than what I've got going on right now.


I'll let you know how it goes. And thanks for listening.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Or Not

So. In the last few days I've gotten many warm sentiments from you, and a few surprising connections. For example, a wonderful new friend has emerged I never would have met had not this blog been here introducing me to people I would have never known otherwise. I'm eager to explore this new potential relationship. Oddly, this person who enjoyed my blog contacted me via Facebook. Oh the joys of social media. A dear lovie--hi Heidi!--urged me not to isolate myself from the people who love me. Another--hi Patricia!--helped me to remember that my archives have blessed a lot of people who have stumbled upon these words. I wanted to hide. I wanted to reinvent myself. I wanted to runaway from all that is me. But the truth is, removing myself from the net won't take away a bit of the pain I'm in. It won't heal the broken relationship I wonder will ever recover (I doubt it, I'm sorry to say). And it won't assuage the fears I have about my future without this person, such a big part of my life, in it. So here I am, at least today. Nothing heroic. No promises; just you and me. I'm the one in sackcloth and ashes, with one running shoe on. If you don't mind it, well... okay. I'm sorry for Monday's drama.


Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm So Sorry

My dear sisters and brothers,

By the end of this week I'm doing something I've never done before. I'm removing my online presence. I am in the midst of a devastating loss, and feel a need to retreat and let my private life be private for a change. Not only am I not going to blog, I'm removing this blog. I've stopped blogging before, but left the archives here. I want to remove it now I think it's time to be over.

I will not be on Facebook. I will not be on Twitter. I'm sure at some point I will emerge again, but I don't know when, where, or how.

For those of you on the 3D Your Whole Life Journey, please forgive me. I entrust you to God's hands. I know you will do well. Carol is a reliable guide, and you can find her on the 3D website.

As for the rest of you, I'm truly so very sorry to end things this way. I thank you for these last six years. I love you, and will never forget you.

Grace to you,

claudia mair burney,
ragamuffin diva

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Way to the Heart: 3D Your Whole Life, Week Five

Remember the old adage, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach?" Well lovies, if you want to get to my heart, and a whole lotta other folk's, too, that's a darn good route to go. Week 5 of our journey is our own Eat Pray Love thang. But first we have to talk about the big "O." No, not that big "O." Not her either. I'm talking about obedience. Some of us have a problem with it. Okay, it's me. I have a problem with it. I rankle against it in so many ways. It's the little things that I don't even think about. Carol gives the example of exceeding your food budget (what food budget???) or driving over the speed limit (what speed limit???). But it's the little foxes that destroy the vine. Carol asks two questions as we begin this week.

Where does God have the finger of conviction pressing on your heart?

The shouting was for me, not you. But since I asked, are you? You'll get your chance over the next week. But here's the thing that's so encouraging. Carol writes, "We cannot understand obedience without first understanding that God loves us like a father--a good father who ask for our obedience so that we may grow into the people God wants us to be." Who does God want you to be? Can you imagine? Lately, the new me has come into view. I'm sad to say the pain free me is not in focus yet, but the smaller me is definitely in view. It wasn't that long ago that I could not have seen myself as anything other than fat. I thought, "This is probably it. As good as it gets." But then, something changed: me. That isn't to say that I don't have hard days, and bad habits to break. It means I'm beginning to change my mind set. The program is helping me "reboot" my life, changing the way I eat, and becoming more aware. For example, a few weeks ago, during lunch instead of eating a whole sandwich, I'd only eat half a sandwich. I'd have the rest of my lunch with that modification. I started eating breakfast every morning instead of skipping it. And snacks, usually something like cheese, or crackers (daycare food!). I switched a few bad habits for better ones. So, I was eating, but making better choices. I wasn't hungry, so I didn't feel deprived. What I'm lacking is more exercise. The exercise I get is what a person who lives downtown without a car would get.

Okay, how did that become soooo much about me? Back to our week. Think about love this week; Obedience born of love; meals prepared with love; shared with love; company savored. Pay attention to pages 117-119. Maggie has some wonderful suggestions for eating right, living well, and expressing love with food, even self-love. As always, know that you are prayed for, and loved, and supported. Let us know if we can help you along in any way. We are here for you.

Much love,