Monday, November 22, 2010

Politics & Friendships

I have several politically conservative friends. I know this about them and totally respect their views. Do I wish they thought like I do? Sure. But I kind of suspect that they wish the same thing about me. Therefore, I make it a point never to bring up politics around them. I have one friend who usually abides by this, but every once in awhile has to throw in a comment that I just don't agree with. I will say something. Politely, but I still am not going to let it completely slide. I feel everyone has a right to their view and if they are going to express theirs, I will mine. I don't at all feel obligated to agree with them. This happened today on the school parking lot. I could tell my friend was frustrated that I didn't agree with her, but I don't. I tried to change the subject and we left on friendly terms, but as a parting thought she said that maybe we shouldn't talk politics. Touche.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Reclaiming Krypton

In my previous post, Heather suggested I read Doug Muder's article in the UU World. I just received my copy and I hadn't gotten a chance to look at it. Heather was exactly right in that I should check it out. I really related to the article. I love his analogy of superheros. I am also a long-term comic book fan, but had never really stopped to think about Muder's point regarding orphans versus mentors. I think he is spot on. I suspect Muder and I are of different generations, as I grew up with the X-men (although, side note, my favorite comic was Cerebus).

Something personal to me, too, though, was that I did spend time as the "independent, outsider, figure it out myself" person - especially in high school and college. I came away with it learning that it is lonely and hard. One of the reasons that I was excited to find UU was its acceptance of my beliefs. It was a place to feel at home with other people. People of all ages - including people I felt to be mentors. I was tired of figuring it out all by myself. I love coming into community with people who had lived this life for a long time and had raised families in this religion. After being a UU for ten years, I also enjoy feeling like I mentor to newer families. The problem is, I am now back to feeling like I am alone in wanting more. I feel that Muder is right. I want that mantle. I want all that it entails. I am just not sure UU is ready to bring it forward.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not Feeling It

I am having a very hard time getting myself to church these days. I am not sure why. I am just completely unmotivated to get there. I used to be so passionate about going - even when our old church was having issues. I like our new church. The people are great, the minister gives thoughtful sermons and I really like how socially conscious they are. But why am I not inspired? Why don't I jump up every Sunday excited to go to church? I used to. I miss that feeling. Honestly, I am more interested in going to the Lutheran Church that is associated with my kids school. I sort of feel that I have outgrown Unitarian Universalism. It fulfilled a need for a long time, but now I have moved on. I don't want to move on, but I am just not connecting anymore. What to do? I feel like I need more, but UU is just not offering it. I am tired of adapting other religions to ours. We have a deep history, but for some reason we rarely access it. Instead we tend to live by the living tradition. Which is totally fine for some, but I want the history. I want the roots. I want to say God and not "the mystery". I am not interested in celebrating pagan rituals or reflecting on Buddhist thought. I want our religion, not an amalgamation of a bunch of others. Sometimes I feel we are so piecemeal, I don't know that is truly ours. I realize for other UUs this is exactly what draws them in, but it is not enough for me. I don't know what to do. This weekend is our annual Bread Service. This used to be my absolute favorite service on the year. Now I am just "meh" about it. That saddens me and makes me realize that something is wrong. I just don't know what it is.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One by One

I feel like my local friend network is quickly disappearing. I am really sad about it. Yesterday, I quite shockingly found out my neighbor/friend will be moving in two weeks to Oregon. I am still stunned. Her husband stopped by to tell us. I haven't had a chance to talk to her myself. Another close neighbor will be moving this Spring. Another friend's husband has been relocated to Atlanta and yet another friend from the kids' school is putting her house on the market in February. I am at a loss. Each of these people were important to me in different ways and I can't believe they are all leaving at the same time. I wish them the best in each of their new adventures, but they will be greatly missed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day Shopping

I find it a great shame that so many stores have tried to capitalize on Veteran's Day by promoting huge sales. I realize Veteran's Day is not alone in the "excuse for a sale" holiday, but this one really irritates me. One ad I saw had a picture of a beautiful young women swinging a shopping bag with the words "Happy Veteran's Day" flying over her. Really? This is how we honor all those men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect us? Shopping? I felt like asking this model (yes, I realize paper can't talk back) whether or not she knew anybody in the military. If so, is this the best way to honor them? All the years of hardship, sacrifice, and dedication can be recognized in a 30% off sale. It is just sad. Thankfully, my father never saw combat. He was one of those rare few who joined at the end of the Vietnam war and then retired right before the first Gulf War broke out. We had to sacrifice enough with just that. I can't imagine how hard it is for families where your beloved is gone for year long tour of duties. The fear of whether or not they will come home. The children that have to grow up with one of their parents constantly deployed. War is scary and takes a huge toll on families. I will always advocate for peace but am enough of a realist to know that is not always possible. So THANK YOU to all those who have stepped up and served. You are greatly appreciated and respected.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Time Change Grumpiness

Why does the time have to change? It feels like we are messing with the cosmos whenever this happens. It has been a rough week around here because of it. I am practically falling asleep at nine o'clock and wide awake before six. I keep thinking that I should use this morning time wisely - but that would just be crazy. Middle son is really suffering. He is already an early riser and now it is even earlier. We finally made a rule that he could not leave bed before six. The result is that he is super grumpy by the time school is out and completely exhausted. Why do they mess with us this way?! Can't we just stick with one time?! Please?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Alma Mater

This past Friday, I drove up to my undergraduate school, Bradley University in Peoria, IL. My former college roommate was asked by the Biology department to give a presentation on her career. She currently works at the Shedd Aquarium and has had an interesting path in environmental science. Anyway, we thought it would be fun to meet there for a little reunion.

It was fun. I have actually driven through Peoria many times on the way to my dad's house, but haven't really gotten an opportunity to walk around the campus and check out all the improvements they have made. Above is a photo of Bradley Hall. I pretty much spent all four years there. My undergrad degrees are in International Studies and German. Except for the hard sciences, all the liberal arts and sciences classes were taught there. They recently remolded the Hall. I couldn't get over how nicer it looked. It seemed all fancy and new. It definitely did not have the feel when I was there. M presented in the Olin science building. They had built a new portion with amazing labs, but she gave her talk in the old wing. It was crazy because it looked EXACTLY the same from when we were there. They obviously had poured all the money into the new wing and did nothing to the older areas. I had taken several biology course while I was at Bradley* and felt an immediate flash back to those classes. In some ways, the campus was exactly the same and in others it had really improved. It was nice to see that.

M & I were talking about how we each came to Bradley. It isn't a super well-known school and Peoria isn't the epicenter of excitement. We were freshman in 1991-1992. Back then, Bradley was on the cutting edge of technology. I remember that one of the huge draws (besides giving me a big scholarship) was that every dorm room had its own computer and printer. That was HUGE in 1991. They even had this thing called "email". It was amazing. Thus, I didn't have to have my own computer (which very few people had or could afford) or go to the computer lab. Plus, email sounded really cool. M said this was also the big draw for her. For me, too, it was the right size, not in Iowa, but still only four hours from home. Would I chose it again? I don't know. But, I certainly don't have any regrets about it. I met my husband there, so that was a big plus. The only regrets I have are that I didn't fully take advantage of everything that college life allowed. It is such a small bubble of time, that I wish I would have completely maximized it.

*I also considered getting a degree in Biology, specializing in Botany. IS & German eventally won out!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So Young

Due to the German band I play in and the German dancing Daughter does, we have performed at a fair number of Catholic venues. Something that has really struck me is the ages of many of the nuns and priests "in-training". They are just so YOUNG. We played at a retirement home (which was a blast), and I swear that the novices couldn't have been over eighteen! They looked so fresh-faced and happy. At another event, there were a couple of new priests that had to be in their early twenties. I overheard one of them passionately talking to a parishioner about some sort of research he was doing. His energy was infectious. What they all had in common, though, was their joy in their vocation. I look back to who I was at eighteen, and I couldn't be farther from that ideal. I was talking to another band member and we both couldn't get over how these young nuns could have already decided the rest of their lives. Sure, they can leave the Order (and I would posit most Catholics know a former nun or two), but I would imagine they enter the Order with the plan to stay. I think of that young priest with all his excitement over life and how he has chosen to frame it. I think any religious leader would tell you that it is not an easy life and it truly is a calling. I just can't imagine making that decision at such an early age and within a religion with so many boundaries. But, maybe that is exactly what they are looking for.