BookNotes: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack

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Oh my! I learned so much science reading/listening to this book. I also learned how much science I simply assume all people understand. It was eye opening to learn about people who do not have that fundamental knowledge.

This is so much more than the story of HeLa cells and Henrietta Lacks, it is a story about presumption that occurred (and still occurs) in the medical and scientific communities. I’d like to hope these things don’t happen anymore, but I am uncertain.

February Habits and Goals:

  • 28 days of yoga I managed 27 days. One day I had a terrible migraine that required medication and made moving a problem.
  • 24 days of walking  24 days!
  • 8 days of strength training 10 days, included Pilates, Kettle Bells, and FWFL prep week workouts
  • continuing Welsh practice (bring section 2 levels up to 5, SSiW #6 and #7, and listening practice #1 each day.  Yes!  All these done. I even moved into Section 3 on 4 levels, and started Challenge #8
  • 24 days of writing — something, anything, for my class, for this blog, just on paper, whatever, but 6 days a week. Yes!!
  • 2 retreat days (after my Spiritual Companion Group, I’ll walk, and get lunch and then sit and read or think, but not work, until Hannah picks me up. Get ’em! This was surprisingly difficult. I felt like I “should” study, or write, or do more Welsh, or  . . .. , but the 2nd day was much easier than the first try.
  • read 2 fiction books and 2 non-fiction books Circe, Cherringham, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Atomic Habits  (+ audio books at night that I don’t really listen to so much as listen to until I fall asleep)

 

 

ItF: Unit 2

Unit 2: A Rhythm of Prayer, Work, and Recreation

R. Simpson — It is essential to establish a good rhythm before all else.
J. O’Donohue — to be spiritual is to be in rhythm

Rhythm — a link to creation, looking towards a way of life that keeps a balance. There are three labors of the monastic day: prayers, work, and recreation. Prayer creates spaces in the day for balancing the body, mind, and spirit. So be mindful of those spaces.

Take time to think about the things that are “daily” in my life. What makes it difficult to manage my time? What can I do to overcome those obstacles? What does a day in your life look like?

A Day in my Life

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to structure my day and my work into four periods of time where I focus on different things. I learned early in my Anglican journey the value of the daily offices and from the Enneagram (specifically, The Road Back to You) the value of SNAP. So I transition into my day and through my day with prayers and small moments of meditation. My day is a practice in interruption — a cute interruption called Jasper, the pup. “I need out.” “I need in.” “Here, throw this!” “Can I sit on your lap?” “Hey!” ” Intruder Alert!” “RED alert!” “Rabbit!!”

Morning (6 – 10 am): As soon as I know I am awake, I begin the day with the daily devotion Laud. I have it memorized and say the words aloud as I stretch and move for those first few moments. Upon leaving the bed, I quietly sit on my yoga mat for about 5 minutes, just breathing, and seeing what I feel and where I feel. That leads to my yoga practice, a walk, a shower, and then breakfast. After breakfast I have a system of tiding up (maintenance) and cleaning (focused attention) the house. I work my way from east to west, gathering laundry, and end by starting the washer. In the gardening months, I do my garden work after my walk and before my shower. I like to get out there early and get it done before it gets too warm. In order to make this work, I get up about an hour earlier in the gardening months.

Prime (10 am-2 pm): This time begins with a SNAP meditation and moves me into my academic and work part of the day. Things here aren’t nearly as structured as my morning. I have a list of what needs to be accomplished and steadily work my way through it. Bible reading is usually first and I read the passages from the chart in the BCP. Then I generally do some writing. I try to write every day, my assignments, blog posts, letters, snippets of story, etc.  I also try to write before I’ve consumed any news, blogs, or writings by others. It helps keep my words my own words. After writing, I usually spend time studying for whatever courses I am taking that semester/year. At 1 pm, I get up, reciting Sext in my head, prepare my lunch, and take a short break to eat, check news, and surf a bit. After lunch I do my Welsh. This is a highlight of each day and I look at more as a reward than a course I am taking.

Afternoon (2 -6 pm): Another SNAP meditation leads into this period. I start by either doing some strength training or a 15 minute Pilates session — I’m not trying to exercise so much as work out the kinks from four hours of primarily sitting still. I also take some time to switch laundry around. Because we have chosen not to have an electric dryer, laundry needs to be rotated on the racks by the stove or on the lines outside. This normally works out to be about an hour of moving around. Then I sit down with my knitting (or crochet, or coloring) basket and listen to an audiobook. Dinner preparation, another tidy up of areas where I worked, reading for pleasure, more laundry work, and dinner all happen in this time too. I conclude this time with lighting a candle and saying Vespers.

Evening (6 -9 pm): Another SNAP before news (and sometimes during news, because holy cow!) then quiet family time, sometimes a movie or tv episode (iTunes), usually just everybody sitting around together but doing their own thing. I choose to read, do Examen, and Compline before turning in early.

It is a quiet, predictable, life. I  have chosen carefully the best way to get enough rest to manage my disease and yet have enough interaction and busyness to keep me engaged and active.

my corner

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I have my own little corner of the living room. It is where I sit to read, to listen, to learn, and to surf the web.

  • The cabinet to the right holds my Welsh learning notebook, flashcards, pens, stamps, my beeswax candle for devotions, a lamp, and is where my iPhone can normally be found.
  • The ottoman holds my extra knitting yarn, and occasionally the project (if it is too big for my basket. I also use the ottoman as a desk. My laptop sits there while I do my writing. I sit on my yoga bolster when using the ottoman as a desk.
  • The stool to the left is normally where my stack of reading, study notebooks, and journal sit. I keep them all there and put each away as I complete it for the day. The sheepskin is wonderful for really cold and really hot days. It keeps me insulated and the temperature comfortable. I also use the sheepskin for meditation time and sometimes when I just want to flop on the floor for some extra stretches or to watch tv.

ItF: Unit 1b

We all like to be in control, but wildness is not to be feared but embraced. Where does my wildness lay? Is there room for it in my life? Can I nurture it? or do I try to tame it?

This question reminded of that great thought in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia:

Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” … I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.

This thought has stuck with me and guided me through many faith transitions. It is good to know that God is wild, beyond my control, and yet always good. So when I see those expressions of faith that claim to tame him, control him, or place their own “badness” onto him I tend to lead with skepticism. This has led me to explore paths of faith expression until I settled in the Anglican Communion.

Here I find enough wildness and enough structure to make me comfortably uncomfortable. We are always challenged to “live into our baptism” and we never shy away from the hard issues. There is grace enough for conflicting conclusions, so long as we all agree that Jesus points the way to God. Kyrie Eleison!

This idea of wildness and of being comfortably uncomfortable allows me the freedom to make somewhat unconventional choices for our lives, our home, and our property. As a family we have almost 5 acres and a small-ish home to tend and keep.

We’ve done things like allowing the majority of the land to grow up through wildness into woods. We have paths through the property and we try to limit human incursion to those paths. We use the acre set aside for people and garden as smartly and intensively as we can. We compost religiously. We do (and will) raise our animals, not for food, but for manure production (and in the case of chickens, for eggs). Due to wild animals, and packs of domestic dogs, we won’t free-range or pasture for our animals, so we will do our best to mimic that freedom in safe conditions. We have a vegetable garden, fruit garden, and fruit/nut trees scattered around. We have a pool for keeping cool in the summer, and use downed trees to heat our home in the winter.  Michael has dug a system of trenches and cisterns to help the land drain better and to store water for the dry months (garden only). Our new animal enclosures will all have their own rainwater collection system built right into the design. I have been slowing adding pollinator, butterfly, and hummingbird gardens closer to the house.

Our pup Jasper is another area of wildness in our lives. He isn’t particularly well-trained, but he is affectionate, friendly, and generally well-behaved. He is, however, all dog and loves nothing more than to run through the property sniffing, peeing, barking, and letting the wind ruffle his hair. He “commands” the front yard (the human used area) from a perch built onto the front deck. He brings us such joy and laughter as we watch his antics.

I also love to feed and watch the birds at a bird feeder. I hope to bring more wildness closer to the house by increasing the bird feeders and types of feed available next winter.  And bees! I’d love to add a couple of hives (we have wild honey bees on the property).

 

ItF: Unit 1a

How do I see? Hear? Touch? Taste? Smell? Can I change the way I approach the world through my senses? Can I catch a glimpse of something else? Might I be surprised by inspiration?

I began wearing contacts at age 18 and wore them exclusively until 12 months ago. There used to be a clarity to vision that I took for granted. After a major relapse of my auto-immune disease I was no longer able to wear them for long periods of time — more like for a few hours at time. At the time, it seemed like the worst thing in the world. How would I see? How would I get around? How would I cope to wearing glasses and having multiple prescriptions for various purposes (which is not the same as bifocals or trifocals)?

Then about six months ago, I just quit wearing them due to dry eyes. I switched to just my glasses and occasionally not wearing any corrective lenses at all.  I am learning to lean into the fuzziness at the edges and appreciate the crispness of vision in my “good range.” I’ve noticed a gentleness as I switch between various lenses and uncorrected vision. I am seeing more while actually seeing less. I notice little things and I appreciate small pops of color.

I’ve even noticed a shift in my favorite colors. I used to prefer greens and browns, Now, I want red, blue, and purple. Although not together, land sakes NO! I even bought a bright red winter coat! It has been a great surprise, but I love it. I love that I can see it. I love the way it feels like a ray of brightness in an otherwise gray world.

 

 

BookNotes: Educated

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I have a new reading plan for 2019: 2 fiction (1 read, 1 audiobook), 1 non-fiction (educational), and 1 memoir (or biography) all going at the same time.

  • Cluster 1 consisted of Artemis Fowl (fiction, on audiobook) and Kingdom of the Blind (fiction), New Celtic Monasticism (educational), and Finding Saint David of Wales (biography).
  • Cluster 2 was just completed with Circe (fiction, audiobook) and Cherringham (fiction), The Celtic Way of Praying (educational), and Educated (memoir).

I can’t say I enjoyed this book and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t written for us to enjoy. It did cause me to do a lot of thinking about fundamentalism (in all its various shapes and sizes) and how very vital education is both for children and even for adults.

My own life experience teaches me that the more I learn, the more I grow and change, and the more I grow and change the more I love those around me, the more I see things from their perspective, and the more capable I am of avoiding judgment and simply loving.

ItF: assignment 1

Why did you choose this course? What do you hope to gain?
I chose to participate in the ItF course because I wanted to examine my life and make sure all the parts are working harmoniously as I approach the second half of my life. At 52, it is likely that I have fewer years ahead of me than behind, and I want these years to be filled with grace, kindness, and goodness. I feel like the many parts and paths of my life have converged to bring me to this place. I am at peace.
I am a wife, a home keeper, a farm manager, the primary support mechanism for our adult son with autism, a mother to a grown daughter, and the devoted servant of our pup. I am also living with a chronic auto-immune disorder that, when not in remission, causes inflammation, pain, fatigue, and diminished kidney function. It has taken a large percentage of my eyesight and I have been unable to drive for a 18 months. Yet, I still live a life that is very connected to the earth and the land upon which we are planted.
I spent some time learning the Enneagram. I am a 5w4, the iconoclast. This study has given me tools for understanding myself and my childhood. Growing up I learned the “valuable” lesson that to be invisible is the safest option. My way of becoming invisible was to take a book, climb a tree, and flee away on the wings of imagination. I have learned to be present, and not fear the confrontation (yet, not necessarily to seek it out). I tend toward minimalism and simplicity when healthy and toward hoarding and storing up when slipping into the dark places.
I believe choosing to live life by the three principles of simplicity, purity and obedience will help keep the rhythm of my days, years, and life focused on faith. It gives a stability to my routines and helps me accomplish all the things that need doing. The ten way marks give me guidance and a structure on which to hang my Way of Life.
And still . . . my favorite way to recharge and process is to take a book, sit under a tree, and fly away on the wings of imagination. Although now, it is not to become invisible but find new worlds, new thoughts, and new joys.  It is the difference between fleeing and flying.

pour over coffee

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I have found a new (to me) way of making coffee that is so easy and tastes so good. It was born of desperation. I have used a French coffee press for many years when I wanted a cup, but in December I broke mine. It went tumbling off the counter along with my newly ground beans, and 12 oz of nearly boiling water. It was such a mess.

My daughter kept a pour over carafe in the cabinet. She bought it shortly after beginning to work in coffee shop, but for the most part it just sat in the cabinet — unused. I can’t tell you how close I had come to popping it into the Goodwill bag, but I never did because it wasn’t mine.

So after the cleaning up the disaster of my broken press, I still wanted a cup of coffee. It was just one of those cold, overcast, grey December days where you just want what you want. A quick google told me to very roughly grind 1 TBSN of beans for each cup of coffee.

The grinder came back out, the beans came back out, and I got more water going in the kettle.

Beans in the basket.

Pour the water over.

And coffee! Wait, what?! No waiting? No plunging? Just grind, boil, pour, and sip?

Yes, it was really that simple. I find the coffee very smooth, light, and not as bitter.

My favorite way to sip is 8 oz coffee, 2 oz macadamia nut milk, and 1 squirt of flavored liquid stevia.

 

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What I’m reading:  The Celtic Way of Prayer, Cherringham 16-18, Educated

What I’m listening to:  Circe, Welsh

What I’m watching:  

What I’m learning: Igniting the Flame, Welsh, Permaculture

What I’m thinking about:  Paper #1 part 1 is written, edited, and ready to be turned into  my mentor. Paper #1 part 2 is outlined and rough form is copied into the outline. Now to get the ideas to flow, the words to be correct, and then edited.

30 Days of Yoga

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This January my sisters and I did the 30 day yoga challenge by Yoga with Adrienne. The theme this year was dedicate. Of all the yoga challenges I’ve done this one was my favorite.

The program was really well designed and Adrienne is a joy to watch and follow. She is quirky, cute, and really knows what she’s doing. In the past month, I lost 2 pounds (and the only change was doing this program every single morning) , some lower back aches have resolved themselves, and that pesky problem shoulder has a lot more range of motion. Unfortunately, not much can be done about my hands, but I’ve learned to modify poses when I need to.

On top of all that goodness was the sheer fun of chatting via text with my sisters each evening as we checked in with each other. I loved being part of their evenings and talking yoga and dogs.

Now that it is February, it is time for some new habit tracking. I’ve chosen:

  • 28 days of yoga
  • 24 days of walking
  • 8 days of strength training (and I’m doing Kettlebell Swings)
  • continuing Welsh practice (bring section 2 levels up to 5, SSiW #6 and #7, and listening practice #1 each day.
  • 24 days of writing — something, anything, for my class, for this blog, just on paper, whatever, but 6 days a week.
  • 2 retreat days (after my Spiritual Companion Group, I’ll walk, and get lunch and then sit and read or think, but not work, until Hannah picks me up.
  • read 2 fiction books and 2 non-fiction books

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What I’m reading:  The Celtic Way of Prayer, Cherringham 16-18, Educated

What I’m listening to:  Circe, Welsh

What I’m watching:  

What I’m learning: Igniting the Flame, Welsh, Permaculture

What I’m thinking about:  My first (big) paper is due next month. I have an outline and thoughts jotted down. I just need to winnow them until the paper comes into shape. Then I need to do the serious writing and editing.