Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight

It’s Broken – FIX IT!

Piper and Larry reunite under Thompson's watchAs you know, I’ve been watching the TV series “Orange is the New Black.” I just finished the book upon which it was based, the true story of Piper Kerman, a Smith College grad who at age 35 spent 13 months in the penitentiary for smuggling a suitcase of drug money for her then-lover, a crime she’d committed 10 years earlier.

This was a memoir, not an indictment. Yet, with her factual telling of her experience, the ineffectiveness of our legal system was evident.

It costs the government (that means US) a lot of money to incarcerate people. In this economy – really, in ANY economy – it’s fiscally irresponsible to spend money locking people up just for the sake of ‘punishment.’ For my money, I want to see increased safety in our society through a lowered recidivism rate. I want to see rehabilitation. I want to see reintegration. But that isn’t reality. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Kerman states,

What is the point, what is the reason, to lock people away for years, when it seems to mean so very little, even to the jailers who hold the key? How can a prisoner understand their punishment to have been worthwhile to anyone, when it’s dealt with in a way so offhand and indifferent?

She wasn’t speaking on her own behalf. Piper is a educated, connected, privileged person who had a loving husband, a good job, and a network of influential friends waiting for her. She was speaking on behalf of her fellow inmates, few of whom had her advantages. Her prison experience opened her eyes to the desperate social situation of many in America – a reality many of us never experience nor understand.

Public school teachers are required to show proof their teaching is efficacious. Students are tested and must meet minimum standards to show they are progressing. Why don’t we do the same with those who run prisons? I believe they should be required show their efficacy through increased post-incarceration employment rates, increased education rates, and reduced recidivism rates. If they can’t, the systems should be turned over to those who can.

OK,  rant over. The book is an entertaining read, available here: Orange is the New Black

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Work in Progress

orangeMy kombucha molded. I can’t help feeling it’s symbolic of my whole ‘healthy me’ kick. True confession time: I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. I’m afraid to get on the scale, because I know I’ve gained weight. I’m not exercising – well, unless 10 minutes every week or two counts. My focus has been on other things, which is fine, but I really need to be able to focus on those other things without losing the vision for my physical, emotional and spiritual self. Bottom line, I’m disappointed in me. I know I can do better.

Deep breath. Now I’m going to reframe everything I just said. Here goes.

When I moved from my house a year-and-a-half ago, I sorted through the boxes in my basement. (You know the boxes I’m talking about. THOSE boxes. The stacks and stacks and STACKS of boxes that accumulate over a lifetime. The ‘I’ll get to this later’ boxes. The ‘oh, I can’t bear to get rid of it though I don’t know what I’ll ever do with it’ boxes. The ‘I don’t want to deal with it, and out of sight is out of mind’ boxes. Yeah, those.) I reviewed, reorganized, and let loose the myriad items that no longer served me.

Fast forward to the past few weeks, where I’ve been sorting boxes that have accumulated in the basement of my life. This time, I’ve reassessed what I do and why. I’ve reorganized my time. I’ve given myself permission to quit focusing on that which I felt I ‘had’ to do or was ‘supposed’ to do. As a result, my life is larger. My vision is clearer. And I’ve acted on that vision.

I’m becoming more realistic about my health goals. Bryan and I were watching Orange is the New Black last night. I looked at the leading actress, Taylor Schilling, who happened to be naked at the time, and said, “Wow. Look at that flat tummy and firm everything.” And Bryan responded, “Yes, and it’s a full-time profession to look like that. She has to spend at least four hours in the gym every day to maintain it.”

Right. (And by the way, I’m married to the best man EVER. I’m just sayin’.)

I don’t have that time. Wait. That’s not true. I absolutely do have that time. I have exactly the same amount of hours available to me every day as she does (Twenty-four, last I checked.) It’s just that, for me, spending hours in a gym doesn’t interest me. And that means I need to readjust my ideas. Quit making ‘flat tummy, firm everything’ my goal. I can’t reach that goal, because I don’t really want it, not enough to discipline myself to do it. That means it’s really not that important. To continue the analogy, I can get rid of the contents of that particular box.

What IS that important to me is writing and photographing, using my images and my words to enrich the world. What IS that important is speaking to individuals and to groups, encouraging them until I see the SPARK that tells me their fire is lit. What IS that important is being a conduit of the Divine into the world through word, sacrament, and image.

Wait. This isn’t new. I’ve already sorted this stuff. Where is that box? Oh. It’s here, under my nose, where it’s been all along.  In it is my candidacy for the Episcopal priesthood. So I’ve re-engaged the process. There is ongoing discernment needed (by me and by others) and that takes a lot of ROOM to unfold. I’m glad I’ve created the space. I did it partly by refocusing my business vision, which meant engaging others to pick up the pieces I needed to let loose.

That’s not easy for me. I am a CONTROL FREAK extraordinaire. What if they don’t do it *right*?

The answer came as I was driving home from church. “It is better for things to be done in a messy, sloppy, joyful way than to have flawless results and a miserable, rigid attitude. Besides, how are you doing at getting it all done?”

Fair enough.

So. The past two years have been about clearing my external space. The last two months have been about clearing my internal space. I’d love to think I’m done and ready to move forward without further delay. But we all know how that works. We are ever and always a work in progress. So, I don’t need to worry about ‘doing better’. I just need to keep on doing.


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