blockages, hiatuses, and noticing

Taken by: Katy LaFond 1/2013
Lake Dillon Reservoir looking over Rocky Mountains in Dillon, Colorado

A few weeks ago, I went skiing with my mom in Colorado (first time on real mountains!).  Some of the runs were just long, slow, and incredibly peaceful–it was like a retreat; on skis!  I snapped this picture from our condo porch.  It was so peaceful and those mountains were just stunning.  I love nature and reveling in it as a connection to prayer/spirit.  For me, this is the perfect image which describes precisely what I’m writing about today…there is such beauty in the stillness and the opportunity to notice what’s right in front of you sometimes…

Ok…so….I’m sorry for the hiatus; kind of.  I haven’t been inspired or moved to write anything lately.  When I began this blog, I decided that if what I had to write didn’t fit into one of my mission categories (real.truth.experience.joy), I wasn’t going to write or post it.  It’s not to say that nothing has happened, just haven’t had the urge to write.

What do you do when you have a writer’s and/or idea block?  Do you push through it and write/create anyway?  Do you accept that’s where you’re at and wa

it for the spark to connect?  Do you try a routine?  Music?  Exercise?  Do you let it be?  Does it stress you out or is it more “meh”?  Are you “too busy” or just not creating the space?

I used to be more, hmmmm….how might we say this…concrete…nope…i

t’s just darn rigidness.  “I said I’d post once a month, so I’m going to post once a month!”  I’d put myself on some weird new routine to coarse myself into getting this magic idea or be determined that a new “practice” would help.  Inevitably, my new practice would die out after a few rounds.  It’s not that I have trouble following through with things

…it’s that I have trouble stepping out of the boundary of what is my truth and genuine inside of me.  If I don’t feel like writing haiku’s…writing a haiku a day for a year just isn’t going to work for me.  I used to get stressed and irritated that I wouldn’t just “buck up” and write (create).

Clearly these strategies served me so well…NOT.  So this time around…I was aware that I hadn’t blogged. No pressure…no stress…no frustration.  It’s MY blog!  It’s supposed to be a release, a hobby, a stress-reliever not producer.  But I was aware that “it was time” and then “way overdue”.  What struck me is how I began to notice differently, listen differently, pay attention to what draws me and why in a different way.  Occasionally, I caught myself asking, “Should I blog about x?”  “Hmmm…no, not this time.”  The amazing thing was, I WAS OKAY WITH THIS RESPONSE!

I’m a reflective person.  I need quiet and space to let things soak in and swim around a little bit.  Being able to honor that need for processing in something as simple as a blog entry (or non-entry) without judgement was a huge thing for me.  Noticing…who knew it was such a powerful thing?  Who knew Ms. Katy Marie LaFond would ever be able to image beauty with this scenario?

I do realize the irony in writing a blog about not writing a blog…just know that I noticed this a while ago and waited for the spirit to say, “now’s the time…” (without judgement…argh…that’s the tough part)

What do you notice and step back without judgement? Do you experience the beauty in the stillness?

real.truth.experience.joy

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the dating game…discernment 101

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I’ve decided to start dating again! After a painful break-up and some good ol’ grieving, it’s time for re-entry into the normal world again. Well, as “normal” as religious life gets…maybe I should back up a little and fill in the missing parts. Yes, you can pick your jaws up off the floor!

First, a little context…I’m sitting on the grass over looking a pond at Marywood convent. (You’re what?) I’m here at a weeklong (like 7 days! sun-sat!) spirituality conference with the Grand Rapids Dominicans (OPs). The conference is called: Women and the Word: Preaching with the Mind, Eyes, and Heart of a Woman.

Before I post about today’s juicy details…I think we need to take a gander at Discernment 101. In my other blogs: Nunspeak and Religious Life Rocks: The Adventures of one Fun Nun/Inner Excavation is some more information about discernment as well, I invite you to check those out too.

I’m writing this on my iPad which is not blog formatting friendly…

Discernment 101
Discernment–fancy schmancy nun-speak for thoughtfully, prayerfully, communally, entering into process to help make a decision or choice. Great…now that’s all cleared up! So what does that mean? I think the key words are: process, prayerful, and thoughtful (and if you’re married/partnered/parenting/or religious there’s the communal aspect too).
Discernment is not an impulse or a clear, concrete, correct answer. Discernment doesn’t start or finish…it’s ongoing, it’s a process. Discernment takes into consideration the whole–where am I being called? What are the needs of the community?(interpret that as you need to make it fit) what do I have to give? What is healthy for me? It’s (unfortunately ) not a flow chart (trust me, I tried this…nope, not gonna happen), nor is it a direct path. The serpentine road in this process is “inviting” you to walk gently…sometimes whether you want the invitation to this suare or not. The big “D” does however have stages in this process…now all of you flow chart lovers who just took a sigh of relief…guess again!
My image of the discernment process is more like playing the game Twister. Yes, you know, “right hand on green” “left foot on yellow”, then the times the caller keeps spinning, “right foot on red…right foot on red…right foot on red….”. Yeah…you know what I’m talking about! Sometimes people are in your way, sometimes you can look over at those intertwined people while you have one foot on red, sometimes you don’t have a spinner! Get your comfy clothes on and a pair of socks with no holes, because we can’t have this party without a little Twister! (I’m really jazzed about this image!)
Does all of this sound unsettling? Raise your hands if you think this is resembles a form of interior torture…If you said yes…My friends, consider yourself Discerners.

I’m going to try and blog my experiences this week as much as I can. I’m approaching this writing as I process what it means for me to be basically right in the very beginning of discernment AGAIN. I’ll be sharing my real, my truth, my experience, and my JOY as it relates to my discernment and journey.

Stay tuned….today’s reflections will be coming shortly….
real.truth.experience.joy

zip codes…a story of transition

Today, not unlike a usual occurrence, I was asked to verify my zip code.  It took me a moment to think and I responded.  Then, this strange foggy cloud came over me. 

I don’t mind change; in fact, often times I embrace it.  What I don’t like…one tiny bit…is transition.  It messes with my psyche, my routine, my homeostasis (I’m Type A…don’t do this to us folk!).  I’m tired and off-balance.  Confused and maybe a little lost.  I’m telling you…transition is no picnic…it messes with you, big time. 

I moved a week ago.  I’m inhabiting an absolutely, fabulous apartment, in a hip and trendy, young and vibrant, community-active neighborhood, two blocks from Lake Michigan.  This move was for my ever-continuing process of self-care and growth (ugh.)  Simply put, I needed to get away from my nun-life.  I needed a new space, a fresh start; not constant reminders of my deep aches and grief.  I was semi-excited, semi-anxious, and semi-sad–I’ve lived in the same zip code for the past 13 years, until a week ago. I didn’t really make that connection until this afternoon.

So what is it about transition?  Well, I can start with Captain Obvious flying into my blog: uncomfortable, inconvenient, messy, illogical reactions…do I need to keep going?  No…that’s not it…there’s something more…something underneath those things…hmmm… I contemplated, I walked, I journaled, I tarot-ed (for those of you tarot fans at home: princess of cups…3rd time!), I ate chocolate…nope, nada, at least nothing to describe the connection between transition and my zip code grief. 

Then my friend Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, jumped off my bookshelf.  This is one of those books that I received as a Junior in college, 11 years ago, and have read it several times when I am at a “what-the-hell-do-I-do-now” moment.  Without fail, something new speaks to me every time.  I opened the book up randomly and this is what leapt off the page:

[regarding pilgrimage] “a transformative journey to a sacred center full of hardships, darkness, and peril… challenges…

Ok…I’m listening…

…largely beyond our control, can strip the ego of the illusion that it is in charge…

Pfft…great…just great…

 …and make space for the true self to emerge…

And…here’s the nugget.  That damn nugget of knowledge that makes me squirm, roll my eyes, and attempt to deny the truth of it.  Shucks.  Thank you very much, Parker Palmer.

Not to belabor the darkness of my journey (although, in a blog that’s subtitled: real.truth.experience.joy…this is where I’m at people…this is my real, my truth, and my experience…and for God sakes, it better be leading toward JOY!)…but…this is so painfully true and speaks to me of zip code grief and transition. 

As much as I was sick of sitting in my yuck pile–surrounded by things that remind me of my grief–and know I need to move on psychically, physically, emotionally, moving forward also meant moving away.  I moved away from my grief, but also the things, people, relationships, commitment, etc that brought me the most joy.  Changing my “space” to create space for the new to emerge.  That sounds honkey-dory, but seriously people…it is not a fun, rainbows and butterflies, lets-go-sing-kumbaya kind of process.  You want me to do what??  Embrace the “journey”, give up the illusion of control, and trust that this, thing, this me, will emerge?  Seriously…what a ridiculous idea! 

And yet…my zip code still changed.  Moving away? No..moving forward…5 numbers at a time. 

real.truth.experience.joy

Stand up, Sisters! “Fill Jerusalem with your teachings…”

Infuriorated.  Befuddled.  Disbelief.  Utter disgust.  Some of the thoughts (feelings?) that crossed my mind last night when I read several articles on the Vatican’s decision to appoint a Bishop to “reform” the workings of the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious)…before I begin my thoughts on this…let me help set some context:

You can read the NCR version of the article or the NY Times version by clicking these links:  National Catholic Reporter       NY Times

NunSpeak 101:  LCWR–Conference of most of the Head Honcho Nuns in the US.  Offer support, education, retreats, and social justice activism for most of the congregations in the country.  Organization was originally set up by the Vatican.  They do great work especially in helping congregations living out their charism (Nun word for “spirit/flavor” of each individual group) and responding to the needs of the time.

I was a member of a religious community (whose Provincials [Nun for: Boss Ladies] belonged to LCWR) for 6 years; vowed for 3.  Religious life is a huge part of me and despite the fact that my “legal/canonical” status has changed, I still have very much spirit and commitment in me as a woman religious.

I don’t even know what to say.  My first reaction was all of this rage-y energy flowing and I posted my fury on FB immediately.  I couldn’t sleep last night…I was so distrubed.  This is MY church…the faith tradition in which I believe, was raised, and continue to put energy into…what are these guys, and I mean GUYS, thinking?  Why the attack on women religious?  Do they forget who has established and maintained most schools and hospitals in this country?  Do they forget teachings of the church like, hmmm…I don’t know…CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING?  Do we ignore the messages of JESUS?  I feel like I’m in an episode of the twilight zone!  Obviously, I’m a bit riled up.

This morning…I decided to look at today’s readings and was immediately struck with the 1st Reading: Acts 5:27-33–AMAZING!  The Spirit speaks to me again.  I guess my rage turned to anticipatory hope.  Knowing I struggle with the hierarchy of the church prioritizing an attack on women religious’ conference speakers when we have real, human, social issues to deal with in the world, this reading reminding me that this is the work of Jesus…no matter how unfortunate it seems.

So using my ragey energy…I pray for our chuch, especially the hierarchy, today.  That we be reminded of the God-ness in our faith and not the “man-ness” of power.  That we see our church as a living organism…changing, adapting, mutating as necessary with the signs and needs of the time.

I pray for my girls–my woman religious family…that you have the courage and strength to continue to “fill Jerusalem with your teachings” and “obey God not man” in just and ways in which benefit humankind…sometimes at a great price.

real.truth.experience.joy