Resolve

It is that time of year.

Each year I make resolutions, some I keep, some I don’t. In many ways I’m incredibly disciplined, in others, not so much.

I’m not sure how I feel about resolutions or why I’m so compelled to make them. Perhaps to motivate me to do something I already should be doing, or just to make a list to check off.

I’d like to think it’s something bigger, with a goal of intentional personal development, and there is a touch of that in there.

I always set up a goal of reading 60 books (this year 42! so close…), being better with my fitness (this year I did okay thanks to yoga), and something fun (2013 was ‘drink more champagne;’ check. Aaaand check.).

But resolutions should be stronger – to resolve. To settle or find resolution to; to decide firmly on a course of action; the firm dedication to do something.

With that in mind, I’m taking the task a little more seriously on this trip around the sun.

Thanks to the WordPress staff I stumbled on a challenge I think I’m ready for:

Writing every day (all 365) of 2014.

Phew that’s scary.

But with a little structure I don’t think it’s by any means impossible. I’m not saying it’ll be good, I’m just saying it can be done.

I’ll continue to use the themes of my blog to guide my responses, and hopefully stretch some un/underused writing muscles in the process.

Other than that, as always:

  • Read 60 books
  • Complete a 30 day fitness challenge (and write about it!)
  • Travel once a month (January through April are already planned!)

Here we go…

Walking the Walk

I didn’t get put in a chokehold, but I did get called fat pretty much every day.

They don’t tell you that part, even when you sign up to be “ruined for life” as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps motto states.

Frankly, I hope they pick up Pope Francis’ words I read this week in The Atlantic: to serve the poor you will be “bruised, hurting and dirty.”

I couldn’t think of three better words to describe my year in JVC New Orleans. To be fair, I would add: “music, free food, cheap booze.” It wasn’t all bad. I was definitely still dirty, though.

But it was hard.

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I felt lonely, isolated in a new community, a new region of the country, ravaged by natural disasters and man-made catastrophes that have lasted generations. I had literally zero frame of reference for the experiences the city had been through, its complex history, or its amazing people.

IMG_0617

Upper 9th Ward, August 2007

The type of sustained commitment, day in and out, was at times achingly difficult. It is not just a job, but a lifestyle, a shockingly revolutionary one in the face of what our culture tells us is ‘appropriate.’

“JVC holds to the same belief that true service takes risks and works directly with the impoverished.” It was a risk, but not without reward.

Although far from perfect, JVC taught me to see people. To recognize, as Andrew says in the article, that

Somewhere along the way, those that he served stopped being “the homeless,” the conceptual, faceless mass that most Americans see when looking at society’s most disadvantaged. The homeless had become people, individuals whose names he knew and life stories he had learned.

We may not prefer to admit it, but Poor is hard to look at. Homeless is hard to look at. Addicted is hard to look at. Deformed is hard to look at. Deeply Depressed is hard to look at.

What JVC, and now Pope Francis,“is saying is not new, this is the Catholic Church’s teaching. He’s doing what Jesuits always do. Jesuits get gritty with it.”

To get gritty, to (somewhat) quietly do the work of living into the ideals of service and humility, to allow yourself to be changed by those people so often cast off. That is what I was taught.

And what I continue to learn.

IMG_0767***

The Atlantic article and the Daily Prompt got me thinking…random kindness is good, but not at the cost of intentionality.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. daily prompt: random act of kindness | aimans…..
  2. Daily Prompt: Secrets | The Daily Post | L5GN
  3. Random Act of Kindness | Melissa Holden
  4. Am I Kind? | The Number FiftyTwo
  5. Daily Prompt: Random Act of Kindness | Under the Monkey Tree
  6. Drive Thru Difference | Journey to Wholeness
  7. Why It’s Good To Give In Secret | The Jittery Goat
  8. Secretly paying it forward. | Tales of a slightly stressed Mother!
  9. Daily Prompt: Random Act of Kindness | Nicole Sloan’s Books
  10. A secret kindness | Sue’s Trifles
  11. Trying to be God | crookedeyebrows
  12. I’m so nice | not4faintheartsblog
  13. Shine | Hope* the happy hugger
  14. Daily Prompt: Random Act of Kindness « cognitive reflection
  15. Daily Prompt: Random Act of Kindness « Mama Bear Musings
  16. Secret Santa | charlottesville winter
  17. Daily Prompt: Random Act of Kindness | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  18. A little mind-twister on random kindnesses | Rob’s Surf Report
  19. Random Acts of Kindness | News by Carolyn Perez
  20. Random Acts of Kindness: The Travel Edition | Travel. Garden. Eat.
  21. Kindness Is Not Always Random
  22. The Lurker’s List | Secret Kindness
  23. Anger Thermometer | Emotional Fitness
  24. I Have No Secrets: Daily Prompt | Just Visiting This Planet
  25. A hug | Life is great
  26. Paying it Forward | Unlocking The Inner Creative
  27. Daily Prompt: Spread a Little love | One Starving Activist
  28. Random Acts of Insanity | An Upturned Soul

 

I Think That Field is on Fire

I hate Kosovo.

Let’s be clear here: I do not hate Kosovars, I have no quibble with their independence, I honestly don’t know enough to make a judgement (although my eighth grade self somewhat remembers coverage interfering with TGIF).

But, this country almost killed me.

Or at the very least almost left me abandoned in a thunderstorm in a border town with Montenegro after over 10 hours in a combination of buses, taxis and some guy’s car.

One of the most amazing things about traveling overland, or at all, in somewhat more bizarre locales is the spontaneity of discovering things off the beaten path. It’s an amazingly thrilling task, using nothing but hand motions and horrible butchering of locations’ names, to get where you need to go.

Part of my partner P and I’s three-month trip through the former Yugoslavia was built on this adventure, and over a month in we thought we had it down.

Leaving rural Montenegro was hard enough, but once we got to a bus station, we were sure it was smooth sailing. When the bus just stopped and everyone got off at the border, however, we knew we were in a bit of trouble. Whether through our mistake or theirs, we didn’t understand that although we got the bus that says it goes to Kosovo, the one at the end of the day…doesn’t.

After a bit of not-so-quiet cursing, we figured out we could hail a cab, through the impending storm, up and over the mountain pass and into Kosovo. Done. Fine. The sun was setting.

Stepping out of a cab has never felt so risky. Running into the dark bus station parking lot, getting soaked, I put on my best: ‘Oh God I’m so lost’ slash ‘please play into the gender stereotype of the little lost blonde girl right now’ slash ‘it’s almost 11pm have mercy’ face.

Something motivated me toward two men in suits that were arguing with a driver. Their bus said Pristina. I had to get on this bus. At first, they told me no. Everyone told me no. I turned back to P, almost in tears, when one of the men hollered to us: “COME!”

Okay strange man, let’s go.

So I sat, hugging my huge backpack on my lap, praying that this bus would somehow end up in the right place, and avoiding the bizarre looks of fellow passengers (this was a tour bus on its way back from Germany, I later figured out).

My nerves were jangling and I couldn’t relax. I looked out the window.

There was a field on fire.

We’re talking ON. FIRE. And not a small fire. Acres and acres of flame. I looked around trying to gauge the appropriate response. Finding none, I turned to P to affirm my shock – only to find him happily snoozing away.

After three more hours, not having been asked for any form of payment and wishing the suited men a farewell at some unmarked highway spot, we made it to Pristina and literally jogged to the hostel.

And there, on Avenue Bill Clinton, I looked up, my jaw dropped, and I laughed:

IMG_8453

***

This post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt: Share a time when you narrowly avoided disaster. Photographers, artists, poets: show us ESCAPE.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Unwritten.. | gypsy thoughts ..
  2. Daily Prompt: By the Skin of Your Teeth | RealMoney
  3. By the Skin of Your Teeth | Geek Ergo Sum
  4. Daily Prompt: By the Skin of Your Teeth | Awl and Scribe
  5. of aggression « Anawnimiss
  6. The Great Escape | The Ambitious Drifter
  7. Narrowly avoiding disaster | Angel Frouk
  8. Escape | Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This
  9. The Fact We Live May Be An Accident | The Jittery Goat
  10. My Teeth’s Skin | charlottesville winter
  11. S. Thomas Summers | I Bid the Trees to Move
  12. If I want some serious adventure I will watch an R18 film | thoughtsofrkh
  13. T-Bone Steak | Eyes Through The Glass – A Blog About Asperger’s
  14. Daily Prompt: By the Skin of Your Teeth « cognitive reflection
  15. CRASH! Daily Prompt | alienorajt
  16. It’s a Big Deal If It’s Your Problem | The Thoughts’ Outlet
  17. Almost Normal Takeoff | Kansa Muse
  18. Daily Prompt: By the Skin of Your Teeth | Basically Beyond Basic
  19. No One Gets Out Alive | Finale to an Entrance
  20. The Lurker’s List | An Escape and a Lesson
  21. Curse of the Bed Bunk! | The Number FiftyTwo
  22. LIFE CHANGING GIFTS | hastywords
  23. Daily Prompt: Skinnin’ | One Starving Activist
  24. Daily Prompt: By the Skin of your Teeth | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  25. Daily Prompt: Close Calls | A Good One
  26. The bus and my bag | Life is great
  27. My Old Dog Fell Down the Steps But He Got Up
  28. Near Mishap | Flowers and Breezes
  29. Beauty & Innocence | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  30. Daily Prompt: By the Skin of Your Teeth | A Mixed Bag
  31. Daily Prompt: Photography Challenge – ESCAPE | Nicola Kirk
  32. JUST A FEW INCHES | SERENDIPITY
  33. Facing Danger | A mom’s blog
  34. The Escape | I Write Therefore I Am
  35. Dear Addiction, It’s Time To Say Our Final “Goodbye”……. | *Recovery Ramblins Blog Of ~ Author Catherine Lyon*
  36. Bus slipping away | crookedeyebrows
  37. By the Skin of Your Teeth | The Nameless One
  38. Almost… | Retrofocus
  39. Escape Has Many Faces…..(wp daily prompt) | Daily Observations
  40. Surfer Rob does not always think things through | Rob’s Surf Report
  41. Death waits all | Emotional Fitness
  42. Escape | johnny ojanpera
  43. Escape- Daily Prompt | The Rider
  44. How Smoking Saved My Life | 61 Musings
  45. Almost . . . But Not Quite | meanderedwanderings
  46. Dear Addiction, It’s Time To Say Our Final “Goodbye”……. | *Recovery Ramblins Blog Of ~ Author Catherine Lyon*
  47. The story of MM, Helga and the flying car. | Multifarious meanderings
  48. The Great Escape | It’s a wonderful F’N life
  49. Peril Atop Mount Timpanogas: An Adventure to Last a Lifetime | Odds and End Thoughts

Hold me closer, Tony Danza

Daily Prompt: Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you? Photographers, artists, poets: show us TEXTURE.

The space issue is not one of my things. At times, uncomfortably close is the name of my game.

Breaking down that physical barrier most of us carry around has healed me in ways very little else can. The great social work phrase “healthy touch” was never, ever withheld in my family.

I know the connective, irreplaceable power of touch from growing up, from wonderful friends, and from strangers/clients who so rarely get touched in a neutral, hopeful way.

Feeling my body’s connection to other people and spaces form some of my most visceral memories: touching the walls on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, helping with (ruining) pupusas in El Salvador, the familiar wooden bar of the dive in Allston.

Physical baubles, tokens of these memories practically litter my home, my bag, my keychain, my life.

They form the texture that I continually reconnect to; forming renewed memories with each touch.

***

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. A Hug of Grace | Katherine’s Daughter
  2. Memories Through Touch | Anniemation Floe
  3. The Power of Touching Your Eel | Zakc Head
  4. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Under the Monkey Tree
  5. Walk away | Bullet holes in the wall
  6. Texture | The Magic Black Book
  7. texture | yi-ching lin photography
  8. some textures | y
  9. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Awl and Scribe
  10. Touch of Power – Madiba | મન ની વાત
  11. Memories in Stone | Finale to an Entrance
  12. Touch | Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This
  13. Where is Nemo? | Foto Challenge
  14. Good Wood | The Jittery Goat
  15. Great Balls of Fire! | The Novice Gardener
  16. DAILY PROMPT: VISUAL TEXTURES | SERENDIPITY
  17. Madhura’s Musings
  18. a head bump, if you will. Bloody brilliant! | thoughtsofrkh
  19. The Power of Touch: When Mom Braided My Hair | Javagrrl Cafe
  20. The Lurker’s List | Power of Touch Through Giving Love
  21. Evocative | Active Army Wife
  22. Textured Brownies (mini chocolate bites) | A Crazy Chef
  23. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch « cognitive reflection
  24. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | THE WRITE PLACE…
  25. Inay | The Mockingbird in Me
  26. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  27. Mother’s Touch | crookedeyebrows
  28. Daily Prompt: Touch/Texture | This, that and the other thing
  29. The Eucalyptus Tree | Flowers and Breezes
  30. Sensory Experences | Kansa Muse
  31. I Wanna Go To Starbucks for Adult Conversation
  32. Wet, Fresh, Alive | Life is great
  33. Daily Prompt: Power of Touch | Bowl of Rice
  34. The Touch and the Feel . . . | meanderedwanderings
  35. The Power of Touch | The Nameless One
  36. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity
  37. Birch Touch | Mara Eastern’s Personal Blog
  38. What The Cat Dragged In | Just Visiting This Planet
  39. Floral Friday | Yellow Folds | puncta lucis
  40. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Basically Beyond Basic
  41. Texture: From a Wahine’s Point of View | Wahine Wednesdays
  42. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | angelamoody95
  43. Texture on the Beach | Someday I Will Learn
  44. Textures Abound | Mountains or Molehills
  45. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | The Fountain
  46. Texture | Exploring the world
  47. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Poetry
  48. The Jab of a Needle | A Buick in the Land of Lexus
  49. Untouched | Cheri Speak
  50. Daily Prompt: The Power of Physical Expression | One Starving Activist
  51. Like a Butterfly | Blue Loft
  52. The Power of Touch: Texture | Different Isn’t Wrong, It’s Just Different
  53. Texture | My Conscious Self
  54. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch. | eBook Sharing
  55. Touching Bodies | Emotional Fitness
  56. The Tapestry of the Heart…..(wp daily prompt) | Daily Observations
  57. Daily Prompt: The Power Of Touch | Poems From Oostburg, Wisconsin
  58. Warm Little Hands – Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Reinvention of Mama
  59. Don’t Hug Kids | Parents Are People Too
  60. Life is beautiful ! | Dreams to Reality !
  61. Fabulous Fur!! | Mary Angelini Photography
  62. As smooth as a baby’s butt | I am Lynn
  63. Touch Me, Stir My Fire – Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Mine to Do Over
  64. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch » My Life, My Way, My Words
  65. Daily Prompt: Texture | Tommia’s Tablet
  66. Daily Prompt : The Power of Touch | Mon beau manoir
  67. WP Daily Prompt 12-6-13: The Power of Touch | by LRose
  68. Daily Post: Texture | Destino
  69. Brush Stroke | Taking One Day At A Time
  70. Fluent tecture | Le Drake Noir
  71. The Power of Touch | Geek Ergo Sum
  72. Love is a Contrast | Ashes of Roses
  73. Samuel’s Way | Chasing A Dream
  74. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | thoughts and entanglements
  75. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | GG’s World
  76. Daily Prompt: Texture | dena’s good life
  77. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | UP! With Jesus
  78. Electric, Silk & Sadness: The Power of Touch – Compass & Quill
  79. texture – it’s a daily prompt | bodhisattvaintraining
  80. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | Kiss the Sky
  81. Dominggus Konda
  82. Daily Prompt: Textures | Charles Ray’s Ramblings
  83. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | SIM | ANTICS
  84. The Texture of Your Heart… | The Abuse Expose’ with Secret Angel
  85. Textures of the Day | Love in the Spaces
  86. Muddy River Muse
  87. The Power of Touch – Texture | That’s Life
  88. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | timzauto…. in search of the blond haired kid
  89. Textures of Clouds | Colours of the Wind – Photography
  90. Tree Huggers | The Daily 400
  91. Daily Prompt Challenge – Textures | soletusknow
  92. Never a dull moment in Death Valley | tjbarkerseattle
  93. The Power of Touch | A mom’s blog
  94. Perfect skin | Empressnasigoreng’s Blog
  95. Texture – Daily Prompt | The Platypus
  96. Texture | @vannilla
  97. Textured Memories | tuckedintoacorner
  98. Daily Prompt: Texture | Edge of the Forest
  99. Touch « Love~K
  100. Daily Prompt: The Power of Touch | kimmiecode 🙂

Necessities

Daily Prompt: Five Items – Revisiting a classic question, what are the five items you must have on a desert island?

Chapstick, Paul Simon’s Graceland, my journal, my Leatherman and water purifying pump/Nalgene combo thing my dad gave me.

Or at least that’s how 17 year old me often answered.

Still not too far off, but now I just can’t think of necessities in quite the same way. Also, what did I think I was going to do with that album? Play frisbee?

As an adult, the novelty of this question has worn off for me, because most desert islands have wifi.

Beyond that kind of bizarre, kind of sad fact, I also don’t really need those things. Okay, yes, practically I might die without fresh water and/or a sharp tool when left alone in the wilderness, but what I find as I get older is that I actually need very little.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not above some good old fashioned retail therapy, but what I need, I mean need, is community.

(And gin. Sweet, sweet gin. You think there’s a bar on this island? I bet there’s a bar on this island, I bet it’s a swim up bar! I love those.)

Community that comes in all shapes and sizes from my blood relations, to my partner, to my geographic neighbors, to my friends across the globe. A safe and loving and challenging group(s) that don’t let me float through life, but deeply value it for the wonder of being alive.

That constantly make me want to be a better woman, to help me in that effort, and throw in a few (okay many) ridiculous escapades to remind me not to take it all too seriously.

So in the end, I take them. All of them. In a great big snuggle pile on this island.

(With a great bartender.)

***

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Under the Monkey Tree
  2. Daily Prompt: Five Items | soulfoodwords
  3. Charge your phone | Photos to inspire you
  4. Alone in a Deserted Island. | paperdollsletter
  5. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Basically Beyond Basic
  6. Five Items | Geek Ergo Sum
  7. 5 Items | Jab and Cross followed by Cross and Stitch
  8. Five Items | Insanitree
  9. Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This
  10. Undeniable | Active Army Wife
  11. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Joanne Lynn
  12. What Five Things Would You Not Want? (This Prompt Is Stupid) | The Jittery Goat
  13. The simple bare necessities of life | RPMAS
  14. Necessities | The Magic Black Book
  15. Daily Prompt: Five Items « cognitive reflection
  16. 5 Elements of Baking | A Crazy Chef
  17. Daily Prompt: My Five Must Have’s | Musings&Rants
  18. Desert Island Day Dreaming | Eyes to Heart
  19. CAstaway – True Story | crookedeyebrows
  20. My Desert Island Necessities | Evelinasec’s Blog
  21. Across the Blank Gap
  22. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Musical Foodie Love
  23. Media to Survive? | Across the Blank Gap
  24. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  25. My.Vivid.Visions | Daily Prompt: Five Items – Really?
  26. Daily Prompt: Queen of the Island | One Starving Activist
  27. Daily Prompt : Five Items.. A HELP SIGN ? | LoudThoughtsVoicedOut
  28. Daily prompt: Five things | ferwam
  29. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Finding Life
  30. Deserted Island? Yes please! | Not a Punk Rocker
  31. The Lurker’s List | Necessities On A Deserted Island
  32. NEEDS VERSUS WANTS? | Emotional Fitness
  33. DP Challenge: Five Must Have Items (Smoke Monster Ball Puncher is a Must!) « Morning Pages
  34. Five Items | Flowers and Breezes
  35. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Memory Bank of the Nocturnal
  36. The Bear Necessities… | Haiku By Ku
  37. Daily Prompt: Five Items » My Life, My Way, My Words
  38. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Wordz on a Page
  39. Castaway |
  40. Passport to Life | Upstairs Productions
  41. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Awl and Scribe
  42. Five Items | Finale to an Entrance
  43. Natural Selection | bronte’s world
  44. DAILY PROMPT: PACKING FOR THE ISLAND – A PERFECT WORLD | SERENDIPITY
  45. The Courage to Start | The Land Slide Photography
  46. Take A Trip With Me! Please? | Mountains or Molehills
  47. Bring me home | Life is great
  48. Take five. | Hope* the happy hugger
  49. Lost at Sea | The Joyful Soul
  50. Bare Necessities | A Room of One’s Own
  51. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Crow Arrow, Inc.
  52. Deserted Island! Five Items…?! | It’s my blog, innit…
  53. Sand, Serenity and Sadness (The Daily Prompt – Five Items) | Simply Silent
  54. Necessities | Rebecca Barray
  55. How To Avoid The Media In Five Easy Steps | Just Visiting This Planet
  56. Daily Prompt: 5 Items | eBook Sharing
  57. Oh the Priorities | The Pigeon Blog
  58. Five Items | The Nameless One
  59. My Five Items | emilykarn
  60. The Isle of Bliss | A.C. Melody
  61. Five Items | The Cutter Rambles
  62. My Desert Island Necessities | Poeme Sur Le Web Blog
  63. Five Items: Necessities – Free Shipping + $5 Discount Link – Khana’s Web @ Society6 | Khana’s Web
  64. Five items to bring to a deserted island | Words ‘n Pics
  65. Five Items: Necessities | My Conscious Self
  66. These Are Five of My Favorite Things
  67. Necessaties – Oh Now i Realised | Dreams to Reality !
  68. Staying in a less than 3 star hotel is as close to roughing it as I get. | thoughtsofrkh
  69. Be Prepared | djgarcia94
  70. Surfer Rob: King of the Island! | Rob’s Surf Report
  71. Deserted Island Wish List | Kansa Muse
  72. Daily Prompt: Five Items | kimmiecode 🙂
  73. Five Items | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  74. Daily Prompt: Five Items | Faerie Thoughts
  75. Daily Prompt: Five Items | standinginthestorm
  76. Need | Words on a Page
  77. Five Items | When the Words Won’t Come
  78. Five Items | Veronica Coons
  79. Five Things to Have in the Desert | maunderingsofaninja
  80. Daily Prompt: Five Items | On My Front Porch
  81. An Uncrowded Island | Charron’s Chatter
  82. Daily Prompt : On A Deserted Island | Scattered Thoughts
  83. Daily Prompt: Five Items | SIM | ANTICS
  84. Stranded on a Deserted Island? | Cheri Speak
  85. Five Items | Eldy’s