Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moving On Up!

Our first unit for the residency ended in early February and as we prepared to move into our second unit, we were told that we would have to meet with a consultation committee to assess whether we will remain at Level I or move into Level II.

Basically, the difference in Level I and II is that they used to be distinguished as "basic" and "advanced". All they represent is that once you have a pretty good handle on the "competencies" (translated: professional skills) of Level I you move onto working on a more demanding set of competencies. You have to have a good handle on all of them for board certification. Consultation committee is, in itself, good practice for board certification simply because we have to go through a similar process for certification.

Well, the whole process of meeting with the consultation committee was less than enjoyable. Getting ready for it and getting all the materials together was incredibly anxiety producing for me because I didn't get to put as much time and energy into some things as I wanted. Alas, it got done. The interview itself went pretty well. Again, there was some challenging going on but that was to be expected. I walked away from it feeling pretty good but was just thrilled to be done and to be going home for the weekend to pamper myself a bit!

Well, when I got back to work, I saw my supervisor and she told me that overall everyone did very well during our consultation committee, which was good to know. Even better, it was recommended that I move on to Level II and it was suggested that I am actually already functioning at Level II. For someone who really struggles with professional inadequacy, that is really huge! At the end of the day, the committee only makes a recommendation and it's up to our supervisor whether to give us Level I or Level II credit, but I know her goal was to pretty much have us all working on Level II so I'm glad that's possible.

This also puts me right on track in case I decide I want to do a supervisory residency, which is now an option floating not to far from my mind. We'll see what happens at the ACPE conference and how the next unit and a half goes, but just maybe I'm getting the hang of this CPE stuff after all!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Creative Art of Packing for a Cruise

We leave on our cruise in a month! Wahoo! It should come as no surprise, that I'm already starting to pack. And for someone who loves order and logic and things being grouped together appropriately, this is going to seem very random. But I promise there is in fact a method to my madness. Allow me to share:

Square Carry-On bag - This will be my carry-on for the plane as well as the boat. It contains my blue polka dot bathing suit, all my undies, an airline-approved toiletry bag, my large pajama shirt and pink shorts, my phone charger, the camera, my jewelry case, my gray shorts, my blue t-shirt, and my green pullover. This is the only bag I will have to open at the hotel, and will have everything I need until the second day on the boat!

My "purse" - I have a very small travel wallet/purse that will be my bag for the trip. I just have no need of my "regular" purse and it's not worth the risk of something being lost/stolen/forgotten. I am, however, going to take a tote bag that can pass as a purse while flying so I'll have a place for my "real" purse and all its stuff, plus an extra book or trashy magazine (what? it's vacation!) a soda or some food, and anything Jeff wants me to hold onto for him! Plus, it'll be an extra bag that we can use for shore excursions if we need it or to bring back souvenirs!

The Suitcase - This is where all the action happens. It sounds like a lot of stuff, but it really doesn't take up that much room. It's a lot less than you would think you need.
  • Blue formal dress - some of you may remember this one from my bridal tea
  • Brown fancy dress - from a previous cruise
  • Champagne shoes - these were my wedding shoes that I didn't get to wear! I bought them with the intention of wearing again so I'm glad I have the chance now! These are the only "formal" shoes I am taking because they go with both dresses!
  • Black skirt - a nice dinner option
  • 3-4 tops that can mix and match with the black stuff for dinner. One with a peacock feather print, a flowered mesh top that goes over a black tank top, and one with purple flowers and funky beads on it. I may add one more, we'll have to see.
  • Black gauchos - purchased for our honeymoon, now my favorite "lounging" pants
  • Brown shorts - got them on sale back in October. Same basic reasoning as the gauchos and the gray shorts.
  • Pink Swimsuit
  • Green surfer shirt - more for lounging in the sun than anything!
  • Black hat
  • 6 shirts for lounging and/or shore excursions - Green tee, dove tee, black with flowers, "dance in the rain", camp tee, and flip flop tee!
  • Accessories like my formal purses, a wrap, our walkie talkies, the camera battery charger, my quarters for the slot machines, and other odds and ends!
So what's missing? The outfit I'll be wearing on Friday! I have to go to a conference for work and I'll have to go straight to the airport from there. I'll be wearing my black pants (good for dinners later), my lime top (probably what I'll wear for dinner the first night), and my flip flops.

So what am I leaving at home? Number one - my computer! You have to pay for internet access on the boat and I am making the deliberate decision to not do any work on vacation (except for taking care of myself) so I am leaving the computer, my assigned reading, sermon prep, ordination stuff, and all other things that might be associated with work at home.

To say I am excited would be the understatement of the century!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Week 12

Well, it's time to check in with my list again. I'm on week 12, which translates to 3 months. Hard to believe! I've officially crossed off six items (including one new one this week!) so I'm going to have to get with it to be on track to accomplish it all, but having some momentum behind me helps!

I'm getting ready to visit one new state - next week I'm headed to Utah for a conference. I'm looking forward to it. That means I'll need to find 3 more. This one is going to be harder than I thought because all the states that are an easy, doable trip for us are places I've been before so we're either going to have to take several major trips or one really major one where I can visit several new states!

I'm hoping to get serious this week about taking a bunch of stuff to give away, including my clothes, books, and other "stuff". That should take care of about four items on the list!

I got a pedicure! Yay! It was lovely and I have hot pink toenails today. I also discovered that Jeff likes it when I have cute toes, so I may start doing this more often!

I've now practiced two new spiritual disciplines, and I have lots of ideas for others! Of course, I doubt I'll actually stop when I get to three and I'm always up for more suggestions.

We're getting ready to do the herb garden and possibly a new rose bush. Originally I was thinking sometime in the next week or two, but seeing as how I'll be in Utah most of next week, I'm not going to count on it being right away (unless we do it this weekend!)

I'm about to start applying for chaplaincy jobs, so hopefully that will lead somewhere. At least it's an important first step.

That's pretty much all that's going on right now. I'm excited about the potential for stuff to happen in the next month. I think there are some good things happening! Yay!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Five - Spiritual Disciplines

Today's Friday Five asks us to share about five spiritual disciplines that we have tried or used. This seems especially timely for me because I am looking for new disciplines that I can experience and integrate into my own practice. This is also a part of CPE right now and we are looking at different disciplines as a part of group spiritual direction. So here are my five.

Centering Prayer - I've read/heard about using centering prayer before, but never really experienced it until recently through Spiritual Direction. It has been a bit of a challenge but I've enjoyed practicing it. I'm looking forward to see what comes of it in the future.

Journaling - This is probably the discipline I've used for the longest and the most consistently. I've been using it as a spiritual discipline since before I knew what spiritual disciplines are. Even now, journaling is a very powerful experience for me and I expect that it will continue to be this way for many years to come.

Prayer Beads - I first learned about ways of using prayer beads in high school at summer camp when my counselor made some for all of us and we used them during our cabin prayer time at night. Later, I made some for myself and for friends. Now I have a couple of rosaries that I use for the same purpose. I don't use this discipline as much anymore, but still cherish it and will pull it out on occasion.

Tai Chi - This came as a part of a music appreciation class I took in college. Even though it wasn't specifically taught as a spiritual discipline, I used it and enjoyed it. I miss using this and I'm hoping that I can eventually find my notes about it and get back into it. If I can't find my notes I'm sure I will find some other way of getting information about it, but it will definitely take a back seat to other things!

Lectio Divina - I'd heard the term and knew it was "spiritual reading", but never really experienced it until earlier this year when it was used as part of a conference I attended. The thing that really struck me was that the conference facilitators made the decision to use a poem rather than scripture because, as they put it, "for ministers, scripture is more a tool of the trade" and the temptation was there to think about how to preach/teach the verse, not listen to it and experience it. I have since begun using the process for both scripture and other readings and found it very meaningful. This one is probably my favorite at the moment!

I know I have been neglecting my self-care updates, but I've been staying on top of it. I'm still seeing my therapist weekly, and I'm enjoying using spiritual direction and making self-care an educational priority. Tomorrow I'm going to spend the day taking care of myself - getting a new haircut, manicure, and pedicure then having lunch at my favorite deli!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Five - Springing Forward

Today's Friday Five invites us to consider five things that are "springing forth" in our lives right now. My life definitely seems to be reflecting the season and the excitement of the changes that are happening, so this seems especially appropriate for me right now!
I'm being a little lazy and decided to use the five prompts given, rather than simply coming up with five things on my own!

What you hope for - I am hoping to develop some good new habits for taking care of myself. I'm working on them, so I'm looking forward to what that will mean for both me personally and for my relationships as well!

What you dread - Right now I'm not sure that I'm honestly dreading much of anything. There is one book for CPE I'm not looking forward to reading, and of course there is the writing of verbatims that I dislike, but I still don't know if that actually counts as "dread".

What you observe - I am becoming a much more confident, empowered person. It's surprising and exciting.

What is concrete - Jeff and I are making some awesome progress on stuff around the house and our long-term planning. And of course there is my vacation...

What is intangible - The sense of relief that is coming with my ability to make plans and make changes and not have to worry about what the future may hold for us.

My self care stuff has been going well. I had two weeks between my therapy appointments just because of his schedule, not me! We have started doing group spiritual direction as part of CPE (and our learning module on self care!) and I'm still not quite sure how I'm feeling about it. I like the theory and I love Mary Bea who is working with us, but I'm not sure about the group setting. We'll see how it goes! I am digging the "excuse" to try new spiritual disciplines!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Week 10

Time for my weekly update on my list!

Stuff is in the works for me to visit at least one of the four new states! I'm going to Utah in a few weeks for a conference. Yay!

I know which musical I want to go see - Wicked! It's coming back to Atlanta in the fall. Double yay!

I attended a WONDERFUL worship service on Sunday night, so I can cross that off the list. It was so amazing and fed my soul in ways I didn't even know I was hungering!

I'm not being as consistent on the whole journaling thing as I had intended/wanted to be, but I'm doing it and feeling good about what I'm doing.

I have an appointment for a pedicure. Yay!

So far spiritual discipline number one has been very helpful and enjoyable. I'm not doing it every single day, but that's not necessarily what I said I wanted to do. I'm thinking next week I'll start on a new discipline, but I'm definitely going to hang on to what I have been doing with this one!

The nightstand is officially clean. Yay! Let's see if I can keep it that way!

So that's where I am! Good stuff is happening!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Week 9

I'm making some slow but steady progress on my list.

I have some reflections on worship that will come later, but I still don't feel that I have satisfied the "attend a worship service" item. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, though!

I haven't been as deliberate with my prayer/devotional journal as I should have been over the past week, but I'm excited about the possibilities for the next few weeks.

I also learned more about and began practicing centering prayer. I'm going to do everything I can to practice this daily for at least the next week, maybe two! Another practice I'm excited about practicing regularly in the near future is Lectio Divina. Stay tuned for more on these.

I've been getting to bed early lately, but thanks to on-call I'm not going to even attempt this one as a goal again until I can have a month without overnight call.

We have a cuss jar, the problem is we won't use it. Jeff kind of treats it as a joke (and after a minor disaster with a lawnmower, he owes me about $25!) I have been more conscious of my language and haven't had to contribute anything to the jar, but one of the challenges is that we rarely have cash on hand. I'll see what happens with this one and decide in a week or two whether it should be re-worked or discarded.

I have an appointment for a pedicure in a few weeks (and manicure and haircut!)

So I can't officially cross anything off the list yet, but we're getting there.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Carving Space

I have been doing a lot of assessing of my priorities in the past few weeks. Some of it has been the influence of the stuff going on in my personal life, some due to CPE stuff, and some just because it's about that time on my own internal calendar to consider my life and what is important in it.

One thing I have determined is that I don't do a good enough job of making my priorities, well, priorities! I tell myself what I value in my head. I may even write it down or talk about it. But rarely do I take the time or the effort to carve out a space for it in the bigger picture of my life. And that has got to change.

I have been working on #1 valuing and prioritizing my own stuff, and that has been a journey that has not always been easy or pleasant, and it is one that is far from over. But as I am finally reaching a point where I have some good support and some necessary prodding and I am beginning to step in that direction.

I am not afraid to spend on things that I see as a good, long-term investment. My mom taught it to me in terms of buying clothes and even things for the house - it's better to spend a little more on something up front when you know it will last. I learned through experience that it's better to buy the $40 jeans that will last 4 years than the $10 jeans that will last maybe 4 months. I will even spend a little more on fair trade chocolate or organic produce. But the one place I am more hesitant to invest is my own self-care. Some of this can be seen in my risotto revelation. But I have decided to be more proactive in caring for myself and carving out the space to take care of me, not just trying to squeeze it in between taking care of everyone else.

Step one - get a haircut and get my nails done. I know it seems silly and superficial. But that's precisely why it's such a huge step for me. Because it's something I really REALLY want and I am going to do it with or without the permission or encouragement of others. It's an investment in me. And not just the money involved either. In fact, the bigger issue was the time. Setting apart two and a half hours of time just to have someone take care of me? It seems absurd. It took a lot for me to call and make the appointment but I did it. And as crazy as it sounds, I felt this kind of burden lift when I did it because it's such an exciting notion and it gives me something wonderful to look forward to!

And it is that silly and superficial step that has given me the encouragement to carve another little hole, this one filling a similar, but seemingly deeper, need. I need to not only be cared for but be ministered to. Don't get me wrong, I love my jobs. I know that this is where I have been called. But I am still a child of God with a story and a journey and a soul that needs tending in the midst of this crazy life. I am so glad to know of a church doing a series of special services for Lent on Sunday afternoons that emphasize use of the arts, music especially. I am so stinking excited that I am not only going to carve out the space to go to one, I am going to carve out space to go to several. In fact I'm going to all but one! It's amazing the impact these little steps can have!

As I continue to carve out these spaces, I am reminded that the craft of carving is often quite challenging. It takes real skill (and sometimes very specialized tools) to get things exactly the size and shape we want them to be. In the meantime, we just have to keep trying, digging, shaping, and finding ways to create these spaces that are so very needed!

How do you carve out space in your life? Why do you carve out the space? Who or what helps you with that carving?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Five - Lent

I have been sort of avoiding (and really forgetting about) the Friday Five for a few weeks, but I decided to play today. And the topic for Today is Lent. As my sweet husband likes to point out "not the stuff that comes from the dryer" but the season of the church that brings a lot of mixed emotions for me. Still, the task before me today is to come up with five things I like about Lent, so here goes.

The chance to teach and learn - Lent, in my experience, is one of those seasons that can be really difficult, and on some level should be difficult. And although I come from a more liturgical tradition that has observed Lent for many years, I married into a family (and am now serving a church) who haven't put as much emphasis on it in the past, so I'm loving the way this season affords me the chance to both teach about it and learn about it in new and powerful ways from those experiencing and exploring for the first time or in a new way. In a more general sense, I love the opportunities for the studies that so often happen either personally or collectively and whatever role I may be called to fill in them.

Special Services - I am a sucker for "special" worship services outside of the norm. One of my favorite Lenten memories of growing up was in high school when my church had a large easter picnic and egg hunt for the kids out on one member's property, but on that property was also a large lake with a walking trail around it and along the trail we set up the stations of the cross and different people (myself included) were asked to offer various prayers or devotions at each of the stations. This was a new experience for me, but one I absolutely loved. Last year I offered some new and different services for my congregation which were well received and I look forward to repeating this year. I'm also thrilled to have the chance to simply attend a few worship services at another church in town!

Easter Candy - Yes I know this seems silly and superficial, but Lent always marks the beginning of the Easter Candy season for me, which I adore. The irony is that I normally give up chocolate or candy for Lent so it makes it particularly difficult to not indulge, but much of my affection for the pastel-wrapped goodies is tied to childhood memories of making easter baskets to send to my grandparents, not just in the eating. It makes my heart smile every time I see the little coconut nests with jelly beans in them, but you'll never catch me buying one now because I hate coconut!

Slowing Down - I, like many, have a tendency to allow my life to reach a frighteningly frantic pace on far too many occasions, and Lent is always a way of slowing myself down. Whether it's with a new devotional practice, the deliberate preparations for activities and services to come, or simply forcing myself to think more about what I'm eating it is always a helpful time for me.

Music - The music is probably one of my favorite parts of most seasons in the church and most worship experiences. It seems to make things much more powerful and personal to me, and it's usually the part that will stick with me the longest. There is a local church sponsoring a "Sanctuary Arts" series on Sunday evenings, and I am looking forward to being able to attend several of those!

And my bonus, something I could do without.
Preparing my Easter Sermon - Yes I know it is important, but for me it's a lot of pressure. I've heard a lot of really bad Easter sermons. The worst was one I heard while Jeff and I were dating and the entire thing was about Lazarus and death, not Jesus and resurrection. It would have made a great Good Friday sermon, but it wasn't Good Friday! So basically, I don't ever want to be responsible for one of those "really bad" Easter sermons. Last year I was thrilled with my Easter sermon. It was probably my favorite one I've preached to date but since I need something new for this year I'm not looking forward to it.

And to report on my self-care stuff: I'm still doing therapy every week, but I'm also trying to find other ways I can care for myself. I have started a new devotional journal and part of CPE this unit is focused on self-care. We are doing journaling around the book "A Roomful of Questions" (which I highly recommend if you need some food for thought) and will also be engaging in spiritual direction as a group. I have done a self-care assessment to identify some growing edges in the ways I care for myself, and I am working on setting some concrete goals that can be accomplished between now and the end of May.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Week 8

I can cross one more thing off the list this week - I finally tried my sixth recipe. I didn't blog about it because it wasn't very good, but I did try it!

We should have all the credit cards except one paid off by the end of this month. Yay!

I have a big pile of stuff to be given away, including a bunch of books and a few purses that I've been holding onto because of some good memories associated with them, but I'm never going to use them again so it's time for them to go. Now I just have to pack it all up and take it down to the thrift store.

I modified one from "attend a Christmas/Advent worship service" to simply "attend a worship service." Mostly the reason behind it was because I like the special services that are often at "off" times but I found out about some special services for Lent this year, so I'm hoping I can attend at least one of those. I may still try to hit an Advent or Christmas service as well, but don't want to limit myself to that.

I bought a devotional journal, but it's really not what I need/want right now. I found another book that I think will be a good guide for me, so I'm going to start that on Sunday.

I may have mentioned this last week, but we started looking into getting a marker for Jeff's dad's grave. We're hoping to go over to Georgia for a weekend this summer and get that started.

The no chocolate thing has been a lot harder for me than I thought. So far I've gone two days.

I'm hoping to make an appointment to get a pedicure (and manicure and haircut) in a couple of weeks. Anyone know a good salon in the Alabaster/Pelhem/Helena area?

I looked at new herbs, but it's still a little early for them. I think I want chives, thyme, and sage this year. My rosemary is still ok.

We're planning to get the new ceiling fan for the porch in a couple of weeks (once Jeff paints the ceiling). Yay!

That's pretty much it! Hooray for progress!