Sunday, May 27, 2007

Diversionary tactics

My last attempt to get my mind off of my own troubles was a little on the heavy side. This blog entry, not so much. I thought it might be fun to share our favorite "fooling around" on the internet spots - places we go when we need to get our minds off of other things or just kill time. Below are some of my favorites, but I'd love to hear some of yours! And before anyone else mentions it, I have not included YouTube or other such video sites due to the fact that I still operate on dial-up and it takes forever to download video clips. I know, someday I need to upgrade and join the rest of the industrialized world, but I also don't have cable tv and don't like the idea of spending the money to get either/both.

1. MuffinFilms an interesting animated collection devoted to the goodness that is those delectable baked treats. Especially check out "the muffin tree" which is a take off on "the giving tree" which is a popular story from my childhood -- but really they are all quite entertaining!

2. Sudoku - this particular site offers games at varying levels and times your work so that you can compete with others or just with yourself.

3. Yahoo! games - variety of games, many free on the web. I particularly enjoy the puzzle games (especially Shape Shifter) and arcade games (like Zuma, which was a popular diversion in the class rooms of SPST for a while).

4. Northern Sun - a very fun website/store to browse lots of tshirt designs, bumperstickers, buttons, posters, etc. with a progressive mindset (BigUnit may want to avoid). Even if you don't buy anything, you can come up with great new slogans for your signature line on your email! :)

5. Johari window - This is where you can contribute to mine, as well as make one for yourself. There's also the "darker" nohari window which basically takes the same concept and flips it around. I know these went around via email a while ago, but also know that not everyone chose to participate for whatever reason. I'm all about giving more opportunities. Plus I'm a big fan of self awareness and diagnostic tools.

So those are the ones I feel like sharing at the moment. Looking forward to seeing what recommendations you add to that conversation....

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Big Picture

Well, I did it - I graduated and now have my Master of Divinity, but no job to go with that impressive sounding title. I've been in a kind of slump of self-pity about that fact for the last week and a half or so, but am now making a conscious effort to move out of that. When all else fails, I find that focusing on those who are worse off than myself helps me to put things into perspective, and God knows that there are plenty of people in this world worse off than me.

For the past 5 months or so, the Social Justice Committee at Saint Paul has been focused on the issue of the genocide that continues in Darfur, a region in the west of the African country Sudan. We had a Darfur awareness day, complete with tshirts (from sidewalk chalk drawings, lawn signs, a petition and a letter writing campaign. It wasn't huge - since we're really not that big a campus - but I was amazed at how many people asked me "What's Darfur?" or "I don't get it - what's going on over there?" In a world where there are so many things going on at any given time, we just don't hear about may things that don't directly affect our daily lives (such as gas prices, Bush's latest political move, or the lastest American soldier death in Iraq). The truth is that we have access to much more information than that, but most of us just don't take the time, or feel that it's too overwhelming to figure out what else is going on in the world. If it doesn't affect getting dinner on the table that night or our immediate family members, we ignore it or simply don't have time. But is that enough of an excuse? It amazes me when I talk to people from other countries, how much they know about our politics here in the US - including kay senate and house races, not just the latest about our president. Where do get off assuming that everyone else should or needs to know about us but we don't care about what goes on anywhere else?

If you don't know what's going on in Darfur, I recommend you check out the wikipedia article or SaveDarfur website (linked above) or at least do a basic google search. We're talking genocide, not very unlike what happened in Rwanda. If any of you saw Hotel Rwanda, you have a pretty good idea of the situation. We (the UN and US) swore we wouldn't let something like that ever happen again, and yet here we are and it's been going on for years now. The UN has peacekeeping troops they want to send but the leader of Sudan refuses to let them in. This is a government issue, a religious and ethnic issue and a humanitarian crisis. Refugees from towns that have been burned by the govt backed militia are running out of place to go. The nearby country of Chad is overwhelmed and has gotten involved in the fighting as well. But in case you think this doesn't have anything to do with those of us in the US, think about these things:

- we claim a role as "police" of the world and yet this is going on and has been FOR YEARS.

- Africa in general has a large amount of oil that feeds into the world economy, particularly to China from Sudan, and China is becoming (if they aren't already) one of our biggest business partners.

- people in the world think of us as the country with the most power and resources to get things done; if we don't do anything and those millions of people feel that we failed, what kind of things will they think of us? There are countless children in those numbers, who may be approached by terrorist groups to attack the US. Think it hasn't happened before??

- It is a Christian principle that we help those who are hungry, homeless, sick, oppressed and there are people who claim that this is a Christian nation. When are we going to act like it??

One of the best things I got out of seminary was an overall understanding of how things are ultimately connected. Call it "the force", "spiritual energy," "karma" or "God" but I honestly believe that all things in the world are connected by it and each thing we do, each decision we make has consequences for good and bad. What we buy, the laws we pass, the policies our govt makes - all have influence on things not just here in our country, but around the world, and those affect the way other people in the world see us. Those relationships matter, and they have been deteriorating for a while. We have the choice - the decision to act and how to act is yours.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Home stretch

Sorry for the recent lack of posts - things have been pretty crazy here with all of the end of term papers, graduation plans, group meetings, and trying to get the house ready for guests and family coming from out of town. Whew! Things are not ready yet, but hey, I've got three more days! Thursday is the beginning of the festivities with our senior chapel service (although I don't really know why they call us "Seniors" - there are a lot of people NOT on the four year plan and we're all a variety of ages) and then rehearsal for the ceremony. How long do you think it takes 50 seminary graduates to figure out how to line up alphabetically by degree?? They've scheduled us for 20 minutes but I'm guessing it will be more like 30 minutes - even if just to account for those people who arrive 5-10 minutes late. :) After that the family arrives and the real fun begins. Thankfully, they are staying at a hotel and getting rental car to share - not that I don't want my folks to stay with me but mom and husband, brother and girlfriend, plus friends from college and I'm going to be very grateful to have my own home as a refuge at the end of the day. I'm fairly extroverted but these kinds of things take their toll.

Friday is the long day of festivities - class picture around noon, then buffet luncheon with the whole gang on campus. We're supposed to be at the church at 3 but they tell us the luncheon goes until 2:30, so no breather there. The ceremony starts at 4 (so I guess this time they expect it will take us an hour to make the same line we're only doing in 20 minutes on Thursday) and is supposed to go until 5:30 (it's the commencement ceremony and a chapel service combined). Afterwards there's a reception of cookies and punch - a chance for your professors to meet your family and let them all put faces with the names you've been talking about for the last 4-or-however-many years, schmooze with the president and board of trustees folks, etc. Ugh. Meanwhile I'll be wearing a lined black robe over my dress, in heels that I only wear a couple of times a year. Doesn't this sound like a blast?? Don't be jealous!! Hee hee!

I think what I'm most looking forward to is the dinner/party on Friday evening. Several of us that are graduating are bringing our family and friends to one church's fellowship hall to have lasagna and cake. Well, there will be more than just that, but those are the highlights. :) There's going to be about 65 people, and none of us will know everyone, but we'll all have all of our closest people there. Awwwwww. Plus I'll get to change into comfortable clothes and just be for a while, perhaps finally getting to the point where I can celebrate.

It hasn't really hit me yet, that this phase of things is over, that seminary is really done. I love it hear and haven't found a job to "move along" into. I'm wanting to linger here, but know I need to move on, that there are other things that need to be done and that change is the only way to continue to grow. Why does it have to be so hard? Is there more to this feeling than the generally uncertainty of what comes next? Is there some resentment that I'm not getting ordained like everyone else who gets this degree?? Too much to think about and process (besides, that's what I pay my counselor for), so for now I'll try to focus on the fact there are classes going on around me this week, but I have no more papers to do or grades to receive. That's right - my last paper was turned in yesterday (the beauty of email) and my grades were turned in this afternoon. I am graduating with a 3.59 overall GPA (not too shabby, and I think this may allow me to do a PhD program someday should that be the path I end up following). It's a hard thing to do - to focus on the positive and not worry about all the things that need to be done tomorrow.

Friday, May 04, 2007

2 weeks to go

There's a whole host of things I could just go off about, but I had a really great day yesterday and don't feel like being mean or angry. So what if the Republican candidates had their debate? I'll just ignore Condi's latest attempt to look like she's doing something positive and focus on the fact that there are 2 weeks exactly until I graduate from seminary. And I still have no clue what I'm going to do afterwards... :)

It's the time of year when we all hear about Mom's, Dad's and grads, and I usually get nauseated from the amazing amount of commercials telling you exactly what the perfect gift is for whatever the occasion is. It's not just for Christmas, folks! But I don't want anything for graduation! I've worked hard at school the lst four years so that I can work in a field where I'm not going to get rich because I don't want all that stuff in my house! I want to pay off my student loans, find a job that is meaningful and has good people, buy a small house and play in the yard/garden. I want to be a good aunt to my new nephew (Happy 1 week, Asher!), keep up my fabulous friendships, love on my pets and wife, and just be.

Change is always hard, even when it's good change and/or planned change. I know that I am a creature of habit - I like routines and knowing what to expect. But that doesn't mean that I can't be spontaneous or that I freak out when something unexpected comes along. Graduation has been looming on the horizon for a while now, and there don't appear to be any bumps in the road at this point. My family are coming out for the ceremony, as well as good friends from Oklahoma City and I'm looking forward to spending time with all of them. It's a time to celebrate all that has been done in the last four years and move forward to the next phase of my life. Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot - hey I CAN do this!