Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And Round We Go Again...

Well, I have an appointment with the specialist--Monday morning. As always, Strong Heart will be with me.

I'm in a curious place--mostly I'm OK, thinking that this is nothing--but then from time to time, more ominous thoughts form, which I quickly shake away.

Trying to stay with the former....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Saga Continues...

Well, the cytology report was equivocal. “Unusual” was used; “family history” was mentioned as well. And when my doctor realised that my sister was the same age I am now when her breast cancer was diagnosed, she (my doctor) felt that settled it—I’m going for another exam.

This time, it’s a general surgeon, but someone who specialises in this sort of thing. She’ll examine me, look at the test results, etc. and make a recommendation. That could be any number of things—another ultrasound, a mammogram, a biopsy… But she’s really the expert, so I’ll take a deep breath and plunge.

Strong Heart will be there; as she has been and continues to be.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Five--24 Hours!


Elrond
(JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings; as portrayed by Hugo Weaving in Peter Jackson's film)

This week’s Friday Five, from RevHRod (who comes up with some of the.best. Friday. Fives.)

  1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do?

I’ve always had this double chin thing going on. Even at my thinnest, back at university, I had a really thick neck. Profile shots are horrible, and some face-ons aren’t much better… So, yeah. I’d like to have a real neck and chin. Just to see what it’s like.

  1. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go?

This one is difficult. In only 24 hours, you really can’t see or do much. I think I would probably want to go either someplace totally hedonistic, like a cabin in the woods with Strong Heart, or totally altruistic, such as the mission project Strong Heart worked on a couple of years ago in the Dominican Republic. In some ways, just getting away would be a blessing. At the same time, I think I need to experience the realities of life for other people—knowing, of course, that in 24 hours and in that situation, I would still be privileged.

  1. You get to do somebody else's job for a day...

I almost said US President, but you know, any changes I made would vanish the next day as soon as Dubya got back. Still it might be nice to have 24 hours when the war stopped, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell went away, a trans-inclusive ENDA was mandated by executive order, and all women’s restrooms were required to have enough stalls.

On the other hand, I’ve often thought about running a combination used-book-store and cafĂ© (with perhaps a gifty/music shop on the side). I wouldn’t mid trying that for a day.

  1. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space...

Well this one’s easy. Strong Heart.


Not that there aren’t other people I’d like to meet and talk with—Joan of Arc, Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, k.d. lang, King David (yes, THAT King David), Mahatma Gandhi, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gandalf, and Elrond, for starters.

  1. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick?

Healing body, mind and spirit. There’s so much pain—I would be so blessed to be able to heal some of it. I was once told by someone who “reads” hands that I am a healer of healers—a meta-healer if you will—and certainly my heart inclines to those in need of healing.

Which partially explains Elrond (keeper of wisdom and healing in JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Ring).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Random Cogitations...

Some thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain since yesterday’s experience…. I was impressed by the hospital staff’s acceptance of my relationship with Strong Heart.

I asked when I checked in, “Is it possible for my partner to come into the examining room with me? I’d like for her to be with me, if possible,” or words to that effect, making it clear that my partner was another woman. The receptionist didn’t blink, just told me I’d have to ask the technician.

So I did. And, again, a simple, “no, there really isn’t room,” was the only reaction.

And then, when the preliminary exam was done and the technician went off in search of the doctor, I asked if it were possible for someone to tell Strong Heart what was going on, or to bring her in so I could—I knew she’d be waiting to hear, out in the waiting room, and as it got to be twenty minutes, then half an hour, I didn’t want her to worry. And again, even though it was clear my partner was a woman, the response was professional and simple—if the doctor isn’t available right away, yes, we’ll let her know.

And the truth is, there really wasn’t room in there for anyone else. And while I was getting undressed/dressed/waiting, at least two other people were also told they couldn’t be with a patient. Both were mother-daughter pairs, and in one case, the (adult) daughter was actually the translator for her non-English-speaking mother. So it wasn’t just us by any means.

So why am I making such a big deal out of this?

Partly because it feels so good to be able to make such a request without a negative reaction, partly because it’s a sign of progress in River City (which tends to be conservative) and partly because it made me think.

Why am I so pleased at simple acceptance? Why do I feel so positively about simply being treated like everyone else?

Obviously, it’s partly because that hasn’t been the case for so many same-sex couples, even recently. And it’s especially poignant when medical issues are involved. When your health or your partner’s is threatened, you want both of you to be present at important moments, whether it’s tests or childbirth or treatment decisions.

But a part of me is annoyed and irritated that I even have to think about it; and that I am, in fact, so pleased at being treated like everyone else.

Why should I even have to think about these things? Why should it be doubtful whether the person who is closest to me, who knows more about what I want and need than anyone (except perhaps my son and my mother), is permitted to be with me when I need her?

I don’t really have answers to these questions…just thinking them over and putting them out there.

Good News!

First, I have to thank all of you for your prayers, comments, thoughts and support yesterday. I could feel the positive energy all the way over here in River City...thank you all so very much.

The ultrasound showed a cyst, which they drained. Further tests will be done, to be sure it wasn’t precancerous, but it’s looking good. And I have only a band-aid! The technician and doctor were great, very professional and yet caring. The procedure room was so small, though, that Strong Heart wasn’t permitted to be with me...the only downside.

Again, many thanks and blessings to you all for healing energies, for prayers, for thoughts and for encouragements….What a wonderful blogring this is!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It's Nothing?

Well OK. I’m taking a deep breath and jumping about putting this out there. I don’t usually like to talk about this sort of thing, but I may—just may—need all the support I can get. On the other hand, this may (I hope will!) be a tempest in a teapot. But just in case it isn't.

I’m having an ultrasound mammogram on Tuesday. Yes, there’s a lump. It feels huge to me—somewhere between an almond and a walnut. My doctor seemed a bit alarmed (I have a family history of breast cancer), but not overly so. She scheduled me for the procedure “ASAP” which is a step above "urgent" but not "emergency." She also warned me that depending on findings, they may want to do a biopsy then and there. I’ve had a biopsy before—it was not pleasant or fun and the fear of the results made it even less so.

So this may be nothing. That’s the attitude I’m trying to cultivate—just a test to make sure everything’s fine, which it is, blah blah blah.

The plus side—if there is one—is that the few non-blog friends I’ve shared this with have been uniformly caring and supportive in their various ways—holding me in prayers, reassuring me, promising me support. And Strong Heart has been simply stellar. Words fail me to describe just how, but she has been. “The sacrament of presence” pretty much covers it.

So friends—if you also would keep me in prayer on Tuesday, I will be very grateful. “For prayer avails much.”


Postscript: In rereading, I have realised how ungracious I sound about my friends. You are on the plus side of this, every one of you. Especially SH, who is going to be there with me on Tuesday.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Moving Tale....

(sorry, I couldn't resist the pun...)


Mother Laura over at the RevGals offers this as the meme for today’s Friday Five. I haven’t done one in a while, but I am a veteran mover, so here goes.

1. How many times have you moved? When was the last time?

Let’s see…from birth? Sixteen, not counting back and forth to university. Four of those were overseas moves (States to Germany and back, twice). Yeah, I’ve had some experience in it—not as much as some of my friends, but a fair amount!

The last time was the move to River City, and it was such a nightmare that I don’t want to move again, even just down the street! A lost driver’s licence, rain, mountains, an international border, an overloaded truck….Yeah. Not a memory I cherish.

2. What do you love and hate about moving?

I love the adventure of it—the sense of a new start, even if it’s just down the hall or across town. The opportunity to clear out junk—both literal and metaphorical—and rearrange my home and my life. There’s so much to discover and explore about the new place, that it almost makes up for the hassles.

I hate the unpacking and settling in—not being able to find anything, whether it’s to wear or cook with. Well and the packing before, too.

I like things to be settled and to know where things are. You can’t do that in the middle of a move.

3. Do you do it yourself or hire movers?

I’ve done both. With the overseas moves, we were moved by the gov’mint—my ex-husband was in the US military. That was nice in some ways—just had to sort things out ahead of time and make sure they didn’t pack things they shouldn’t and did pack what they should. On the other hand, there was an absolute deadline—they were showing up at a date and time and you couldn’t fudge it and tell them to come back the next day, you weren’t quite ready.

For the shorter moves, I’ve done it myself, with the help of friends. They curse my book collection and my oak furniture. But I do pack well—almost everything is in boxes or containers.

It’s a toss-up as to which is better. As I get older (cough) , I’m leaning more towards paying someone to help me.

4. Advice for surviving and thriving during a move?

Again as a veteran…and having moved with pets and a small child, I think I am qualified for this one!

  • Take care of yourself—get your hair cut, meditate every day for an hour, get a massage, whatever it is that makes you feel good and strong. Trust me, you’ll need it.
  • Clear out the junk before you move. As soon as you know—are told, make the decision—that you will move, start immediately. This is when you get rid of the ragged towels and unfinished art projects and dried-up makeup and books you never read past the first chapter. Believe me, especially when you’re paying for it, it’s very discouraging to unpack things and think—“why did I bother moving this?”
  • Get the pets and small kids (say, under 10) out of the place the day of the move. Life will be happier for everyone involved.
  • Have a “no-go” room. This is where you put everything you don’t want moved by the movers (whether they are professionals or your friends). If you want to move your computer, or Great-Aunt Tilly’s china, or your cherished art yourself, this is where it goes. So do papers like insurance policies, pet health records, clothes and other things needed during the move—anything you will need to touch during the move. It can be a closet, too, but the key is a door that be firmly closed with a sign saying “Do Not Enter” in as many ways and languages needed.
  • Be sure to have more than enough of whatever special stuff you need—diapers, pet food, medications, etc. And now is NOT the time to lose Junior’s special blankie! Or to try potty training. Or to give up the binky.
  • Don’t be afraid to spoil yourself and your significant others a bit around the move. A new bedspread, pizza the night before the movers come, not starting to unpack the minute the movers finish unloading but instead taking a walk around the new neighbourhood—whatever you and your loved ones need to feel a bit special. There is plenty of time for frayed nerves and exhaustion.
  • Last rooms to pack, first to unpack—kitchen and bathroom. The rest you can make do—these you need functional ASAP.

There—now I sound like a Family Morale Support Specialist on an Army base…

5. Are you in the middle of any inner moves of not outer ones?

I’ve been contemplating a move, mostly for financial reasons, to a smaller, cheaper place. Given my recent disastrous foray into housemates, it’s my only real alternative for reducing my housing costs. The issues are the costs of moving itself, and finding a place where Mr. M would be mobile and accepted. So for the moment, I’m here.

Bonus: Movies/books, etc about moving.

Do you know, I couldn’t really come up with one? Strange. The closest I can come is the opening of When Harry Met Sally and they’re moving from Chicago to New York City—everything fit in a station wagon. Now those were the days…

Thanks for this, Mother Laura! Lots of memories—some not so great, some wonderful—but all worthwhile.

(and look, a whole post with no mention of Strong Heart...oops.)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Authority


I am so going to try not to dwell on what is sweetest in my thoughts at the moment—namely, Strong Heart and our growing relationship—and look at something she and I have discussed a bit. Being both clergy geeks, this really is the sort of thing we discuss…well, some of what we discuss, anyway.

Authority and leadership. Ordained clergy are set aside for leadership in the church. Every denomination has its own refinement on what that means (only clergy consecrate sacraments? Only clergy officiate at baptisms? Etc.) as well as the process by which a person is ordained (seminary and denominational requirements, denominational training course, anointing by congregation, etc.). But the question remains—ordained to what? Set aside for what?

When I was consecrated in the United Methodist Church (ordination is a two-step process there, in which first a person is consecrated as a probationary elder, then after 3 years, ordained an elder—and don’t get me started on the illogic of that), we were told as part of the consecration, “Take thou authority…” Authority to do what? Well, to preach and to order worship, to consecrate Communion, to baptise—and also to send in the annual church reports, to meet with the district superintendant, to counsel and mediate and lead council meetings….in short, to lead a church.

But what gave me that authority? Yes, the words spoken over me at the consecration; and the training I had received at seminary and through my mentors. But more importantly than either of these is the call I received from God to pastor. When the United Methodist Church could not accept or hear my call, I went where it was accepted—where the authority of my call was recognised.

And what is the nature, then, of that authority? Is it rule—being the one in charge, the one with the final say, like the mother who says, “You do this because I said so, that’s why.” Is it the shepherd—being the one with the vision, seeing the goal, herding the flock towards that righteous end? Is it the guide—who knows the pitfalls and dangers as well as where the wells of living waters are? Is it the servant—who, by example and patience and love, offers an alternative to self-absorption? Is it the CEO—always seeing the bottom line, figuring how many new members pledging so much per year we get per five thousand flyers going out into the community? Is it the politician—working with the government or elected officials to set up needed services? Is it the activist—raising a lonely voice and taking a stand?

I think true leadership is a blend of all these—none should predominate, but all blend into a whole—so that each may emerge as needed. This is an ideal, to be sure. But in my experience, when one of this overshadows the rest, trouble lies ahead.

Does that sound like I’m afraid to make a stand? Perhaps it does seem that way, but I do have a position on this—every clergy person must be able to act in any of those roles at any time. Sometimes the flock needs to be pushed in another direction; sometimes they need to be loved and supported and served; sometimes they need to take a hard look at finances.

And every clergy person has one of those roles that predominates—that’s based on their personality and style. Myself, I tend to the servant leader—to me, the stole I wear on Sundays is a symbol of the yoke of obedience. I responded to my call because I could do no other—in obedience to God. And so I did what I had to do in order to serve God.

Others will have other stories. I have friends who are politicians, who are activists, who are CEOs. But they also are able to be servants or guides when needed.

“Take thou authority.”

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spring...

Life is good.

There is someone very special in my life now. I’ve known her for a while; definitely noticed her, but…well, my own stubbornness kept me from admitting that I was attracted to her. She’s also clergy (well, to-be at the moment, but soon enough…), and we’ve had some similar life experiences (though by no means all), and many of our mutual friends thought we’d be perfect for each other. So of course I said I didn’t think so—it was expected, it was too perfect, it worked too well… Someone should really have smacked me upside the head.

Well, God did. Strong Heart and I began associating more often recently through a complicated chain of events, and we talked...and talked...and talked. I found I had been very foolish to resist God’s nudging.

Strong Heart is everything I have hoped and prayed for—a warm, spiritual, loving, strong, nurturing person who, mysteriously, finds me interesting and attractive. I’m not going to argue anymore—just enjoy it until she wakes from her delusion.

Seriously, I cannot imagine what I have done to merit such support and caring and trust; I am simply receiving it gratefully as a sacred gift. My prayer is that I am able to give her the same in return.

God is teaching me something—probably a couple of things, to be honest. First is patience, and the second is that She really does know what She’s doing.

I can truly say, “Thank you, Jesus!”