Oh, my, it has been such a long time since I've written! It's a very busy time in my church life, and the days and weeks have whizzed right by me! I have been eavesdropping on other folks' blogs, but not writing anything on my own. This has been a happy time. Committees are meeting, the annual pledge campaign is over and done with, and I'm buzzing along, feeling energized and actually efficient (unusual for me, that last!).
I did get on the scale Wednesday morning, and the number scared me! How has my weight got so out of control? Since I've been running, my clothes have not really become tighter, and so I just ate along in blissful ignorance. But not since Wednesday: I'm back to 7 important, attentive, and healthy eating practices: 1) writing down what I eat and totalling up Weight Watchers' points (Thursday, when I started watching, but not really restraining yet, I found that I ate twice the recommended points! Talk about out of control!); 2) eating only at the dining room table, rather than in front of the television and/or computer; 3) drinking at least 6 glasses of water every day; and 4) eating at least one salad every day. Those simple things go a long way toward helping me lose weight. Since I started, I've also decided/remembered to 5) take vitamins every day; 6) get enough sleep, so I'm not eating food because of sleep deprivation; and 7) exercise every day, rather than 3-5 times a week. That meant I had to run late this afternoon (after church, lunch, and a snooze -- required for priests after church on Sunday). Here are a couple of pictures I took:
slightly blurry doggies (Clementine on left, Buddy on right), attending to who knows what, and,
The evening sky on the last leg, as we headed home.
Anyway, my eating: so far, as of yesterday, I've lost 2 pounds. Not bad for 3 days' work!
Next, the garden. I've had one 2-hour session with my "gardening coach" (she laughed when I called her that), and we cleaned out lots of stuff from the bed that circles my (half-circle) front porch. We've pushed it back toward the porch by about a foot (it was about 4 feet deep -- too wide to really cultivate easily), and I gave a bunch of stuff to her, and also to my gardening neighbor -- Japanese anemones, hardy geraniums, and columbine (there are plenty left in this bed!). My veggie garden is ready to put to bed, but I just haven't got it done yet. I'm still working on mulching paths (thick layer of newspaper and 3-4" of wood chips), but my asparagus is still green, and the frost hasn't yet killed my rosemary or thyme. I'm really hoping they might winter over, if I cover them with row cover cloth when it gets colder. It has already been down below freezing at night, and they're looking good.
In December I'm giving an Advent quiet day for the Daughters of the King (watch the music if you follow the link -- it's obnoxious) for the whole diocese (they're an Episcopal women's organization dedicated to prayer and service), and I'm going to open it up to everyone in this parish, too. I've decided to help them use collage to "explore their souls." I'm not an official Soul Collage instructor, but this technique is too good to not share. I'll also be using a "treasure map" technique that my friend Fran taught me. It is a very powerful form of affirmation for the future. Someone gave me a big stack of "National Geographic" magazines (great for collage), so I'm about ready to go on this one. I've also been asked to do a quiet day for Churchwomen United next fall (2008), so that's exciting, too. I love doing these days, and really hope someday that hungry hearts from all over this mountain, regardless of denomination, might be interested in attending them. It's a time when I can do several half-hour sessions of intensive teaching, with quiet periods and lunch in between. I can share more and different material than there's time to do in a sermon or even an adult forum class.
Oh, and I've been to a clergy conference in Gatlinburg that focused on church leadership and growth, and that got me all energized and inspired. Once I share it with my vestry (like a parish council or governing board) I want to share it with the whole parish in a special parish meeting. I know I can help them grow -- but I want everyone to know what it will take (lots of work and some money on their part), and what they're likely to get. This is a cozy little retirement parish, and I'm not sure they'll be happy about the changes that growth might engender. Forewarned is forearmed, my mother used to say.
Next October our Cumberland Adult Reading Council (a program started by our church) will be doing an elegant art show and silent auction with wine and hors doeurves that my friend Rara Schlitt (she's the artist who painted my Black Julian) has agreed to do for us. We are so excited about that, too! We're developing the board (or trying to) to get people with certain skills and energy. And later this month, I'll be on (local, cable) television, promoting the program! I love it when I can be part of something really noble, and help it grow!
My reading is coming along for the Haden Institute. I have finished Going Home: Jesus & Buddha as Brothers, by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk. His discussions of the need for mindfulness and the connection between the living-vividly-in-the-moment that is a result of mindfulness, and the kingdom of heaven, spoke directly to me. Now I'm working on Tilden Edwards' Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion. Sometimes I forget how much I like his style and his ideas; I've been reading his books since I came back to church in the late 1980s. I think I've read about everything he's ever written, and he is a Wisdom figure for me. I'm still plugging along on Karen Armstrong's The Battle for God, about the rise of fundamentalism in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. I love being stimulated by her ideas and content, but she can be a tough read sometimes. My book study group just finished The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner (3 women, a Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew meet to discuss their faith together), and we're starting The Misunderstood Jew by Amy-Jill Levine in 2 weeks. Except for the last one, which I haven't started yet, I highly recommend any of these books for those interested in topics related to religion and spirituality. In my car I just finished listening to The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich. I loved it, too. I listen to mostly fiction in the car while I'm driving. I'm also just at the end of a Rita Mae Brown mystery (light and fun, as always), and about to listen to The Secret, to see what I really think about it firsthand. I suspect there's a little bit of that good old American, "You can do it if you try, just think positive" slant to it, but I want to see for myself. Next in my line of audio books is Water for Elephants, which my friend Rara gave to me. I can't wait to read this! I love elephants! In fact, Rara has made friends with a zookeeper from the Knoxville Zoo, and I told her I'd really like to meet the elephants. I think it could happen. The Bible Study at church is just finishing Peter Gomes' The Good Book. Whew! When I look at this list, I can see that I'm doing lots of reading -- lots more than I realized. Sometimes I bemoan my lack of reading, and this is a most excellent reminder.
So there's a lot hopping here on this mountain, and I'm one happy camper. Our autumn foliage display just passed its peak this week (later than I've seen it in the 4 autumns that I've been here), and we were pleasantly surprised at the beauty -- we all thought the drought would ruin it. I'll try to post more often, and maybe I won't have so much to say each time! Those of you who pray could hold me in your prayers -- for strength, endurance, and dietary self-control!