Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Something's Changed

It's been three weeks since the Bon Jovi show and I have to say that I'm still on a high from it! :) Man that optimism really gets into you doesn't it? Even for a self proclaimed pessimist like me! I was gearing up for the show the week before it... listening to their music. After the show I couldn't stop listening. And watching every You Tube video on Bon Jovi there was to watch!

I think I'm happier! Not as exhausted as I used to be. I am more confident. I feel like I want to and can do more with my life. I even walk faster and with a bounce in my step!

I am moving through the world differently! :)
And that is a good thing.

I should

... I really should. So I looked up a couple of 100 Books to Read Before You Die lists and thought I'd go with the BBC's list. I guess it's not necessary the best list ever but then which list is? It's not a bad start though ... maybe that will open me up to other books too. I may change a couple of these but we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

No. 25 - Watch Bon Jovi Live!

Toronto has been good to us! Another thing crossed off my 40 Things to do before I turn 40 List!
When Bon Jovi came to Toronto in February I read about it in the papers the Monday after the show. This time - we managed to find out early enough to get tickets. We were listening to The Eagles and B checked if they were performing here any time soon. Turned out they were - next weekend actually - but then he saw that Bon Jovi was performing too! And since I had him on my list - the only reason I didn't have The Eagles on is that they weren't performing when I made the list! (I should probably add them now :) we decided to do the Bon Jovi show.

This was my first show on this side of the world and MY GOD WAS IT AWESOME!!!
I was thinking of the shows at Palace Grounds in Bangalore and thinking how bloody amazing this one was. It's a completely different experience! I understood what the musicians cribbed about when they said "the sound was bad". The lights and sets put on a show of their own. The arena seating made me feel one with this crazy large crowd of 35,000 people! And the energy was elevating.

And the band was spectacular! I don't think I can actually say what I felt or what this evening meant to me. I don't think I can do justice with words.

I cried when they did "It's my Life". :) That song gave me strength in my 20's when I was trying to find myself. And when they did Always I remembered listening to the song in school in Bangalore, India. Singing it with my friends. I didn't think I would hear him sing it live! Bon Jovi performed in Mumbai in 1995 and haven't gone back for some reason. Growing up in India at that time we didn't really think that we would be able to actually be at shows. It's different now of course. And a lot of great bands visit. Still, it's one of those things that make you think... Wow! This is really happening!

If they come again, and I know they will 'coz last night was their 17th show at the Air Canada Centre, I would go. They're great to watch. And he is still amazing. And his smile can draw you in ... even in a crowd of 35,000 people!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Towards No. 33 - Practice Yoga

I do love yoga. It was one of the few classes I used to look forward to at the gym back home. One of my items on my Things to do before I turn 40 list is No. 33 Practice Yoga.

Until I can get to a yoga class I've been following yoga tutorials on Do Yoga With Me. 

These videos are GREAT! They have all kinds of yoga for all kinds of levels and they're absolutely free!
You can make a donation to the site. I can't believe these guys are actually putting so much out there for free. The quality of the videos is great and the teachers know their stuff.

Yesterday I did this one: Bend and Stretch Every time I come back to yoga after a break this sort of thing is helpful to get back some lost flexibility.

Today I did: Beginner Basics in Flow.
These movements are similar to the classes I used to take at the gym. So it was nice to do something familiar. The great thing is that the teacher takes the time to explain the movements and gives you tips on how you can do them right - something you don`t always get when you`re in a class.

So... I`m looking forward to crossing No. 33 off the list! :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gong Bao Chicken

This was really good!
Here's the recipe: Gong Bao Chicken

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Towards No. 34

In an effort to cross off No. 34 on my 40 things to do before I turn 40 list! :)

Tried some Udon Noodles with veggies and shrimp today. It wasn't bad.
I've been craving new flavors so the touch of oyster sauce was nice. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

No. 34

In an effort to cross off No. 34 on my 40 things to do before I turn 40 list! :)

Tofu and a salad. Simple, quick and healthy!
I love tofu. My husband doesn't but he ate it anyway and was not too unhappy with it.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"Grieving is Prayer"

Nouwen says that there are three ways to a truly compassionate fatherhood: grief, forgiveness, and generosity.

Grief asks me to allow the sins of the world - my own included - to pierce my heart and make me shed tears, many tears, for them. There is no compassion without many tears. If they can't be tears that stream from my eyes, they have to be at least tears that well up from my heart.

This grieving is prayer. There are so few mourners left in this world. But grief is the discipline of the heart that sees the sin of the world, and knows itself to be the sorrowful price of freedom without which love cannot bloom. 

I struggle with my grief. I struggle with the world. I struggle with the evil in the world. For many years I avoided reading the newspaper. I tried not to watch the news. People criticized me for it. They said I needed to be updated on current affairs. I had no general knowledge. How would I know what was going on in the world if I did not read the news?

They're right. But how does one read the news of murders, molestation, violence, torture, wickedness, anger, hate, rage and continue to go about their daily business? I guess if you could keep all this information in the "general knowledge" file in your brain you could. I unfortunately can't file it away for a later conversation with a friend over drinks. I despair. I grieve. I cannot deal.

And in reading Nouwen I can see that he could not either. But he found a way. Prayer. Grief laden prayer. Tears for the world, tears for the children, tears for the sins of the world.

It isn't wrong to be a mourner. And not everyone is. Some of us are stuck with it more than others. And I was reminded that I'm not weird or absurd to be feeling these things for people I have never met. There are many more like me who do the same thing. They find a way to deal. They write songs, or books, paint paintings or work in community programs. They pray. They grieve. It is their calling.

As it is mine. 

"Becoming the Father"

I feel like I can write many, many posts on The Return of the Prodigal Son. 

Henri Nouwen talks about Becoming the Father in this book.

All of us who have read the story of the prodigal son identify with one of the two sons depending on who we are. I, for most of my life identified with the elder son. I'm a pleaser. I like to keep people around me happy. I like to follow rules and don't want other people to go through any trouble on my account. I do what is needed to be done even if I don't really enjoy it. I never really rebelled as a child or a teenager. Always did what I knew would please my parents.

Until somewhere in my mid-twenties I turned the tables and disappointed my poor widowed mother. It's easier to deal with a child who you knew growing up would bring you heart ache. It's so much harder to deal with a child who you counted on to never break your heart. I did. But, both of us learned to forgive each other and understand each other. That we loved each other was never really a question.

This experience put me in the younger son's court. I was now the delinquent child needing grace, forgiveness, and acceptance and I'm grateful that I received it.

I have always thought of the story as me needing God. Needing the Father to come out running to me, needing to be embraced, celebrated, forgiven. I have never thought of myself as being in the Father's shoes. Nouwen shows us how the final moral... the whole point of the story is to make the journey from being the son to becoming the Father.

Once we are accepted and loved and forgiven... once we have received grace and learn to be children of God... we need to become like the Father. We need to run out and embrace and love and celebrate a child who has returned. We need to be patient and long suffering and wait at the door. We need to ask no questions, point no fingers, need no explanations.  We inhabit the world as the Father would have.

We must become the Father. 

Stealing Joy

At Book Club last month we read The Return on the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen.

I don't know why I had not read this great book before even though it sat on our bookshelf at home for 5 years. B had read it and am pretty sure he suggested I read it too. But I must have thought... meh... what else could somebody say about the parable of the prodigal son that I had not heard before? Surely I had heard the story over and over again since I was a child. I've heard sermons on it. Heck, I even worked on my own sermon on the story! Besides, I had at some point heard that the story of the Prodigal Son is not really about the son but about the father - his love, forgiveness and acceptance of his wayward son. What more was there to talk about?

If that's what you think about the story then you should read the book. :)

First of all I was excited that he had this life long relationship with Rembrandt's painting. My years of being part of the Methodist Church did not quite open the world of art and spirituality to me. The focus was always on the WORD. God was to be found in the Bible, and in Church, and in worship music. Maybe sometimes in nature. We did not seek out art as a way of meeting God.

As I grow older I realize that I am more of a visual person than a literary one. Contrary to what many people think of me I do not enjoy words, or books, or writing. I enjoy pictures, and colors, and patterns, and lines, and drawings, and paintings, and sculpture, and beauty, and fabric.

And over the years I have found my own way to connect to God through art, and music (not evangelical, worship music), and nature, and beauty. So to read about one man's journey with one great work of art and everything that he learned from watching it, talking about it with his friends, reflecting on it, thrills me.

The day after I posted Happy and Sad I read Chapter 9 - The Father Calls for a Celebration.

I am prone to despair - I have been since I was very young. If it was not something that was directly affecting me it would be the dying children in Somalia, or the poor people on the streets of my city, or the refugees in Sri Lanka, and now Syria. I despair... that is a continuous state of being for me.

When I am happy I immediately think of these people who are suffering, or I think of my own loss and grief, and I am sad again.

But the father in the parable calls for a celebration. Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we will celebrate by having a feast, ... And they began to celebrate. 

There is a time to mourn. And a time to rejoice.

I often forget that Jesus promises great joy. There is much talk of feasting and celebration in the Bible. Jesus describes the Kingdom as a big banquet.

But can we celebrate now?

God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end, nor because thousands of people have been converted and are now praising him for his goodness. No, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found. What I am called to is to enter into that joy. It is the joy that comes from seeing a child walk home amid all the destruction, devastation, and anguish of the world. (p107)

The father of the prodigal son gives himself totally to the joy that his returning son brings him. I have to learn from that. I have to learn to "steal" all the real joy there is to steal and lift it up for others to see. .... I don't have to wait till all is well, but I can celebrate every little hint of the Kingdom that is at hand.

Jesus was a man of sorrows. And he knew absolute joy. This is what life is - sorrow and joy. We must live with both but we must consciously and deliberately "steal joy" when we can find it. And if we look, we will find it.

I started another blog earlier this year : Meaning in the Madness. 
I didn't know it then. But when I started it... that's what I was trying to do. Find meaning in the madness. Stealing joy in midst of deep sorrow. Finding good in an evil world.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My 40

So I made a list when I turned 30.
40 things to do before I turn 40

I had 4 things ticked off and I have to say I haven't paid much attention to it.
I was talking to my friend a week or so ago and somewhere along the line this list came up.
And we decided I would work on my list and he would work on his.

So, here's another one ticked off.

  1. Grow a herb garden  May 30, 2013 :)
:) Maybe I should have said "Start" a herb garden. Anyway, it has begun and I'm ticking it off!

I have basil, corriander, and cilantro for now. I picked the ones that do well in the full sun since we don't get much shade on our walk out. I have to say that I have no clue how to do this but as soon as I'm done posting I'm going to do a little research. Also, I have great resources at work - where there are quilters there will be gardeners! :)

 I need to buy the planters and soil etc. but sometimes you just have to begin!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Remembering what we have learned...

Why can't I remember what I have learned? No... not math or geography.
Life lessons.
Lessons that I learned with much pain.
For all the time that I have spent reflecting, and working on myself... shouldn't I be better now?
Why can't I remember what I've learned?

I was going through an old blog today - Sabbath Rest. I took this time off from my life to find God. And I think I learned some valuable lessons. It's a good thing I blogged during the time because clearly I have forgotten!

I have been feeling a little down lately. Not sure where my life is going and all that. And I have been trying to pull myself back up. Telling myself that I have a good life and really have nothing to complain about. And that if I wanted a different life I have the power to change it.

I found this post that I had written during my Sabbath Rest. It was after I read about someone who had died. A young woman - born in the same year as I was. Dead at 27.

Happy and Sad

I think... once we grow older and have lived a little, we realize that we cannot be only happy, and we shouldn't be only sad. Somehow as we grow older we need to be able to be happy and sad at the same time. We can't be truly happy because then we will have to ignore all the wickedness and hate in the world, all the pain and suffering, even if it is not our own. And if, we choose to only be sad, then we ignore the good in the world - laughter, sunsets, smiles of children, music, family, friends...

We have to learn to be both at the same time it seems.
And this is bloody hard to do! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sarah Kay: If I Should Have a Daughter

Sarah Kay: If I Should Have a Daughter

Click on the link. And watch Sarah Kay's talk on TED.
You must not waste more time being on this blog. 


It's easy to live life on autopilot.
I go to work. I come home. I eat. I watch The Following, and Castle, and Big Bang Theory.
I sometimes cook and I sometimes clean.
And I go to bed.

On the weekends I sleep in.
And sew. And relax. Because I am tired and sleep deprived through the week.
So weekends. I rest.

And that's it.
That's what my life has turned out to be.

And that can't be right.
However much I feel like I'm being a responsible adult.
Paying my bills and putting food on the table.

That can't be right.