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

apple butter

My neighbors across the street introduced themselves to me yesterday and invited me over to experience their annual apple butter making experience.  I was intrigued, but didn’t really intend on going.  Lisa and I went to the farmer’s market and saw this apple butter extravaganza beginning.  We decided to stop.  It was fascinating…we learned that the man’s (I think his name is Tom?) family is from Virginia and they have been doing this for 30 years!  It’s a huge community event, very labor intensive, but time to really slow down, listen to some great music, talk and be together as a community…while producing some pretty cool and yummy apple butter.

That got me a’thinkin’…I don’t think we as a culture do much to join together as “community” in this informal, down to earth…”Hey we’re makin’ apple butter…I don’t know you from a load of hay, but c’mon over!” kinda way.

Many ways to view community, I guess.  I like this organic, come together for a casual, unique experience…learn about people’s past (i.e. Tom’s family history, Virginia rituals, etc) and new things.  It allows me to pause and remember to see the world around me and open myself to these new experiences and how those too, help me grow.  

real.truth.experience.joy

(yay! it’s a “joy” post!)

“First Flight”

experience.  arts.  respect.  motivation.  leadership.  self.  risks.  confidence.  diversity.  creativity.  fun.  focus.  passion…

These are just a few of the many words which appear on the base of my uncle, Richard Taylor’s, sculpture: “First Flight”.  His sculpture was commissioned to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the First Stage Children’s Theatre in Milwaukee, WI.  The words were taken from testimonials written by the First Stage alums regarding their experiences of First Stage; some of the inspiration for Richard in the sculpture creation. 

First off…I’m incredibly proud of my uncle–he is a gifted artist really living out (I would say, “call”) his passion and talent to provide others with more beauty, serenity, peacefulness, and reflection all through his aesthetic media.  His art pieces are always accompanied by thoughtful and deep artist statements which allow (at least for me) people to take in the piece of art while inviting he/she to probe themselves to find a deeper meaning. 

Richard describes this piece saying:

…The sculpture soars with confidence, is diversified in its many shapes yet finds strength in their unity.  It proudly assumes a posture of leadership while it upholds values.  It is respectful of its surroundings while it passes on these life experiences to all who have found them…I have sought to compose a sculpture embodying the spirit of achievement and pride inherent in these tributes…”

 I so appreciate my uncle for these invitations. He is a model of humility, thoughtfulness, and passion to me. Way to go, uncle Dickie! 

On my way home from the dedication, a plethora of bloggable thinking invaded my drive home…the title of the piece, the descriptor, the words of inspiration…on and on.  Not only does this piece have special meaning to me because of my uncle and the reflective element of its meaning…it really spoke to me of my journey too.

First flights…what does it take for someone (somethings…i.e. birds?) to prepare for his/her first flight?  What supports does one need?  What unplanned events (yuck!) occur?  Where is the learning?  What are the outcomes?  (For those of you who are now rolling your eyes because I said “learning” and “outcomes” it’s ok…those are just as integrated within me as red blood cells and neurotransmitters)

You know what I came up with? (With a little help of course!)

experience. arts. respect. motivation. leadership. self. risks. confidence. diversity. creativity. fun. focus. passion…

It seems like I’m having first flights more often that I’d like lately.  However, I look at that testimonial list and I am inspired, motivated, joyful…  I don’t feel the sometimes present: stress, fear, dare I say…hurt and anguish which can accompany a flight or transition one does not wish to take.  Nope…no ma’am!  I get excited!  I am ready to jump/fly/swim/jig/…!  Bring it on world!

So how can I cultivate the positivity in reminding myself that there is the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” while still acknowledging and owning the yucky stuff that is very much real, but not meant to stifle? 

I don’t have the answer to that…yet! (Ha!) However, I think it lies somewhere between “soaring with confidence”, allowing yourself to take “shape”, while “finding strength in unity” …throw in a little passion, fun, focus…and allow myself to be a part of the beauty that can be created with flight.  

Thanks, Uncle Dickie, for this thoughtful piece of art and the opportunity to continue to be inspired by and learn from you.

real.truth.experience.joy

day 4: mary, mary, quite contrary?

day 4: Mary’s not so sweet lullaby…aka Magnificat

(if you missed day 1, day 1.5, day 2…click on the previous episodes. If you missed day 3, I’m sorry, I wasn’t feeling well…so no day 3 for you.)

I’m learning some wonderful things: spiritual, personal, scriptural, practical… Allow me to share a few:
1. If you look younger than 35, no matter where you are, you become the resident techie and cell phone specialist.
2. I’m not the only one who has had a “biblical icon” crisis. (I’m currently in one with Sarah, Abe’s lady, but I’ve had my fair share of Mary confusion too)
3. Wearing tiaras at birthday parties are essential. (no matter who you are(even the prioress), what you do, or how old you are…you wear them! If you’re lucky, you get feathers!)
4. It’s ok to not participate, especially when you are choosing self-care (some people reading this should be applauding loudly…you know who you are)
5. Dominicans make the best cookies and lemon bars I have ever had. (Seriously, I should join for the life-time of these cookies. In fact one may have had an image of something holy on it and told me to become Dominican, but then I ate it, so I’m not sure. Hahaha)
6. Good preaching starts off with a story…I just so happen to have a few stories for you today! Yippee!

I’ve never been a Mary person. I mean, she’s ok…I’m not anti-Mary or anything. I didn’t get into statues, I had a couple rosaries over the years and didn’t really connect with that way of praying. I got to be the revered 2nd grader…the “chosen one”, if you will…to crown Mary in my communion dress. I didn’t really want to do it because my dress was so ugly (another funny story actually) and I didn’t see what the big deal was. But then girls were crying because they didn’t get chosen, so I thought I better suck it up and do it. Mary…momma of the big J…great!

When I got older I was more than disgusted with these frail, dressed in blue, hands perfectly folded gazing upward images. I decided she must be pretty boring and not much personality. I even went to a nun camp with a Marian order of nuns who love Mary more than anyone I’ve ever known. They even start all their prayers and meals with a Special Mary prayer! I thought I must be missing something.

Then when I became aware of women’s roles, treatment, impacts, etc in society…I perceived Mary as a strong woman and was irritated by those images even more so. I didn’t pay much attention to how she was written about in the scriptures, but I knew she wasn’t one of those “mouthy, renegade” women that we are warned about. I truly admired her faith and her ability to say “ok, angel…that sounds good”…or so I thought…

Then today, a newly inducted member on my “oh my gosh, you’re brilliant and an amazing teacher, and my hero/ine” list: Sr. Barbara Reid, OP gave us some new lenses and ways in which we could view Mary with the eyes, ears, and heart of a woman.

Story #2…I made a silent directed retreat right before I was received into the novitiate. My director gave me the assignment to write my own Magnificat. It was a great assignment! I was so happy…i praised God for EVERYTHING…just like Mary, in her innocent, frail, good girl way. Great…I’ve mastered the Magnificat….WRONG!

Sr. Barbara suggested that we take Mary from the perspective of her singing like a prophet. She helped us break open the Greek translation to come to the understanding that this was no “sweet lullaby” sung by a wimpy, blue veiled, child. Nope…now I’m intrigued and way into this.

Mary’s song could be interpreted as a counter-cultural ideology for her day. She urges, dreams about how life can be different for oppressed women in society. Naming God as “Lord” was sticking her tongue out at the emperor. It’s subversive, a dissent on the Roman Empire and treatment of women. Mary is basically saying “nan an nan an na na…you cant have me, I belong to Go-d, and I’m empowered…”. It’s her dream for new life…which coincidently is then taught to us in a more direct way by her son. As Sr. Barbara said, ” Well, when mom is singing songs like that at home, what political views would you work toward?” Now I’m in. Mary is awesome….and no wimpy Jew either!

So…relating back to my Kumbaya version of the Magnificat 5 years ago, I thought, what would I sing today, knowing this new lens and interpretation? That’s how I spent my afternoon, reflecting and composing my more historically accurate Magnificat.

Recently, someone asked me if I truly listened to God in prayer and in my formation. Um….yeah…that’s kind of a dumb question. She went on to tell me that she didn’t think I did listen or go deep enough because it was clear to her that God was not calling me to live religious life. I was furious! Let me be very clear…NO ONE, has the right to interpret and tell you how God is speaking to you in your heart. A vocation is a personal conversation with God that should be discerned with trusted people, yes, but no one can have the answer except you.

As if you can’t sense some of my passion for religious life…fire is an important symbol in my life. It speaks of me to intense passion and love. It is a God symbol for me. My Magnificat had to include fire. Between my rough spots the last couple years and trying to continue to move forward, frustrations with hierarchical structures, lack of integrity..etc…I, like Mary, stepped out of bounds to address God aflame in me today. Enjoy!

My spirit is ablaze with you, my God. All that I am, all that I will become, sings of the fire of your love in me.

God fires my life with love; Guides me to spread the fire among those who experience darkness, those who need warmth, the hungry. God persists with love beyond those who wish to snuff out my flame; from now on my spirit is ablaze with you, my God.

God loves through this and every moment, how blessed is the love of my God.

The fire of God’s love is a healing flame…sterilizing selfishness and greed, ego and ignorance; God torches misuses of power. Seemingly destructive, but not so, God blazes paths for new life.

God whisks away my abusers, fooled by the smoldering embers. With that same gentle breath, breathes me into a passionate blaze, recognizing the flame that once carried my spirit forward, responding to God’s call in me.

God’s flames envelop me and all those who walk their journeys with integrity. Fueled with this profound message, my flame rises. Today, her embers have transformed into quiet, gentle flickers in the night air. Trust provides her with the promises of blazing new trails again, raised up by those who are likewise impassioned to walk with integrity and passion in their hearts.

Only you, God, can light the fire within me. Fire my life with your love, my God. My fire has been lit and tended to by your love and persistence. My heart’s fire is not determined by ones who lack integrity and justice, nor those who use fire to destroy. Only for you and your people who burn for justice and with joy is this song being sung.

My spirit is ablaze with you, my God. All that I am, all that I will become, sings of the fire of your love in me.

real.truth.experience.joy

Out of Retirement–the Virgin Post

Welcome to from my inside…out!

I recently retired from writing a blog I had (www.onefunnunslife.blogspot.com) since 2007.  The blog began entitled: Religious Life Rocks…The Adventures of One Fun Nun and then shifted in 2010 to Inner Excavation: Journey of I AM.  I began writing to give an account of what it was like to be a 20-something nun in today’s world. 

My life’s path has shifted; thus, the blog needed to also, so I retired.  Thanks so my loyal and faithful reader’s lamenting…I’ve decided to start fresh and try it again!  Here it goes…

What can you expect from my inside…out?

As my tag line indicates: real. truth. experience. joy.; really…this is it.  I’ll share what I think and what I experience…the good the bad and the ugly.  It is real, for me…all of the writing is from my perspective, from my inner truths…out.  I nor this blog are affiliated with any organization…it’s just me. J

It’s always my goal to post at least 2 times per month…sometimes it’s more frequently, sometimes I just can’t get there.

I truly hope you enjoy from my inside out…and that you find it to be a source of interest, inspiration, and who knows?