It's been a long while. My last post was all worried about being bored in my job. Ha! I'm very challenged at work and I love it! Last night I began training on a third study, this one about childhood asthma and respiratory infections. I'm still spending most of my work time on the 90,000 cohort cancer study and doing a lot of supervisory and managerial work and I'm also working on a study about low birthweight infants. That one is really complicated because there are actually 11 different surveys for different stages of pregnancy and post-part um but it's really, really interesting. We ask about breastfeeding and other ways of feeding babies, about parent's perceptions of how babies learn, questions about development and lots of questions about appropriate discipline. One of the surveys is administered when the baby is 5 months old and I realize that 5 months is like the perfect baby age. I LOVE 5 month old babies and I about cry every time I'm asking the questions about if the baby can bring her hands together when she's laying on her back or if she stands with her feel flat when she's being held up by her mother.
Sigh...my baby is 6 years old now. My oldest turned 18 last month.
Speaking of my oldest: He turned 18 two weeks ago on Monday and on Tuesday went to the school to drop out. I guess you could say we're a homeschooling family again, although this time he's doing it completely on his own. He's working on taking the GED. He's got a job working in a cafe. He's talking about going to college in another year to study theater tech (lighting and sound). He seems to be looking toward the future and seeing himself as an adult so I am fine with where he is and what he's doing. I'm pretty proud of him for being such a strong individual. He seems to be really identifying what is important to him and his values are ones I value, as well. He has chosen to not register for the Selective Service even thought that decision has the potential to really limit his options for the future. He is a apologetically anti-military. He's become really aware of health and diet and is eating a mostly meat-free diet. He's got a good work ethic and is very independent.
My middle son got into the school for the arts for next year for film-making. I'm so happy about it! And, that school is opting out of the school uniform for next year so my sweetie can dress like himself! I think he'll love it there. Zed is going to the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting in June to hang with the SAYFers (Southern Appalachia Young Friends). This is the first year he's gone. A couple from NFM, Linda and Thais, are sponsoring him and he'll be riding with them, which I think he'll love. I'm so glad he has made SAYF an important part of his life.
Carmac, my 6 y/o seems to have finally adjusted to school. He's at East Academy, a small private school, and loves it. He's made friends and every day he tells me that his day was way better than average.
Hammy and I have had a really rocky six months or so. That's part of why I haven't been writing. Our marriage was taking so much of my energy and it is so important but it wasn't something that I could lay out for the world to read. We're finding our way back to one another and moving slowly toward better unity. We're taking vacation time next month to go to Bonnaroo together and are really looking forward to 4 days of music and just hanging out together. I really like him when I'm not pissed at him and I think he feels the same about me. Music is the vehicle that brings out the best in both of us and brings us closer together. The day-to-day grind of these householder years brings out the worst.
My job requires me to work at least 3 nights until 9:00 pm a week and at least every other weekend (I'm actually working every night this week and 3 weekends in a row except this Saturday). I am able to have flexibility in scheduling my time as long as I meet those requirements. In order to be able to spend time with Carmac , I go into work at 8 am, work until 12 or 1, go pick him up from school and then Zed up from school, take them to the house and hang out for an hour helping with homework and then work 5-9. It's a crazy long day but it meets everybody's needs as best as I am able. Obviously, I feel a lot of stress from all the running, running, running I do.
I'm on the Ministry and Counsel committee at Meeting this year. I also facilitated another year of Growing In the Light. I had to email the other members of M&C recently to let them know that I can't take on any more responsibility. I think I said something to the effect that I am obligated to my job and my family and NFM responsibilities are the one area of my life that I feel I have the choice to let go of. I'm not resigning from the committee, I just can't do anything else.
I didn't go to meeting last week; the first time in months and months: Hammy, Carmac and I took a walk instead. I won't be there this Sunday either because we'll be on our way back from Atlanta and then I have to work at 3. I feel pretty ambiguous about this. On the one hand, I know my life is enriched by making NFM an intimate part of my day-to-day life. On the other hand, added responsibility leads to added stress. I am more centered when I attend to my spiritual self with awareness but adding that to my to-do list defeats the purpose. I strive to live in the Light so that my life is a reflection of God's love for me. But I feel so overwhelmed by my current schedule that I'm mostly out of touch with any awareness of that Light in me. On the one hand I know it's OK to be caught up in the householder years and that making my family my priority is acceptable, if not ideal. On the other I think that if I don't have time to be aware of God, something is seriously out of balance. It's almost like sinning in the sense of "falling short of your target". I know what is right and I'm allowing myself to take the easy path.
One of our goals is for Hammy and me to move to an old house near Carmac's school; we've wanted to live there ever since we moved out of that neighborhood 20 years ago. It's the area we love with sidewalks and places to walk and frequent buses. It's a very diverse part of town. In order for that to happen, I have to have this job and the kids have to be in school and we can't go back to the lazy-hazy daze of homeschooling. None of us wants to go back to that; we're all happier where we are now. But we're also more stressed for time.
When I was daydreaming about living in one of the big, old fixer-uppers in that part of town, a door opened and I envisioned having a weekly evening Quaker worship group in my house. It would be informal. We'd welcome everyone. It would be unprogrammed. It would be a Friendly House worship group. An offshoot of NFM. I love NFM and I treasure my relationships with it and with the people of it. But the idea of allowing a new worship dynamic to be born is really exciting to me. At NFM we fully expect Spirit to arise in very established ways; I don't think that collectively we're able to allow ourselves to let Spirit lead us anywhere outside of our comfort zone and I don't think we have the ability to support any individual to do that, either. I long to be in a place that challenges me to grow.
I think that's why I'm feeling NFM is something I can lesson my commitment to. I need to feel actively challenged and supported in my journey to Spirit and I'm not getting that right now. That's one reason I created Growing In the Light last year and organized it this year. And, while I did get a lot out of it, I don't feel challenged by it. I want someone to hold my spiritual feet to the fire and what I got is loving, supportive spiritual group therapy.
I'm not sure where this is leading. I feel a little of the agitation I felt several years ago that lead to me becoming a member of NFM. I feel that perhaps I am ready to grow into something but, natch, I don't know where or what or how. Writing this out helps me to see that settling into comfortable householder years routine is not an option. My soul longs toward God even when I'm so overwhelmed that my jaw aches from grinding my teeth at night from stress. God is. God waits. I flit. I stress. I have glimpses and then I forget. Even when I am at my most thoughtlessly distracted, I am aware that my smile is something I can give, that I can welcome each person I encounter and show them that I'm glad that they are, with my smile. I accept you. I'm glad I see you today. That doesn't seem like much, I know, but when I smile at the guy who keeps our parking lot clean at work or at the person walking past me on the sidewalk, it's a reminder to me that I am a reflection of God's love. I wanna smile like Jesus. When I think of what it must have felt like to encounter Christ (in any Christ-incarnation)--that pureness of intent. I think Jesus must have be free enough of ego to be able to intuit the true face of each person he encountered. And I think that people either responded by feeling pure acceptance and love or absolute, abject fear. I want my smile to be the best reflection of that acceptance and love that I can allow it to be. I want my smile to be an outward gift and an inward prayer.