Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Miracle on University Avenue, Des Moines

Imagine, for a moment, that you had just stepped into your car in the grocery store parking lot, and then feel a pistol pressed to your head and an order to get out of the car. Would you cooperate, or defend yourself? What if the perpetrator then whacks you on the head, shoves you onto the asphalt and peels away.

What Des Moines man Fred Bobenhouse did was stumble back into the store, bleeding and trembling, and ask an employee to call 911. Authorities tracked down the stolen car within minutes. Unfortunately, the carjacker put the pistol to his own head just before police confronted him.

This is only the beginning of the drama slowly unfolding in The Des Moines Register from the time the story first broke on December 22 to the follow up article published December 24. The carjacker was not your typical offender. In fact, Richard Brown had no criminal record. He was a law-abiding citizen according to family members, and was a car salesman until given the pink slip. The lousy economy hit him below the belt. He couldn't support his wife and young daughter.  His despair was mounting. The day he assaulted Bobenhouse, he was on his way to apply for food stamps. Tragically, despair won.

But here's the miracle:

According to The Des Moines Register, Bobenhouse said that he has forgiven Brown and that it's a shame the family has had to live through this. Bobenhouse's church, University Ave., has established a memorial fund. Bobenhouse has pledged more than $500. When Tiffany Brown, Richard's widow, heard about the church's gesture, she was overwhelmed.  "We believe this is the true meaning of a Christian," a relative added.

I don't know Bobenhouse or the Browns. I'm not a member of the church. All I know is the version published in the paper. Yet this story has so gripped my heart that I am compelled to share it. It teaches me to pray for compassion, and shed cynicism and bitterness. It teaches me to pray for gratitude, and shed discontent and fear - if only for today. It reminds me to shift from self-pity to awareness of what's within my control to help others. If an 84-year old man can practice forgiveness and mercy, then so can I.

My prayers also go to Tiffany Brown and her five-year-old daughter. How does a mother explain suicide to a little girl who apparently adored her father? May God have mercy on them now.

Thank you, Bobenhouse, for showing me that miracles still shine like a warm June sun in the midst of a bleak winter. And for opening my eyes to my blessings in the present moment.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert: Living a Life Uncommon and Unashamed

I had the privilege of attending Elizabeth Gilbert's debut reading of her new book  September 21 at  Carnegie Music Hall. The exact title of it now escapes me, but it's something like "Committed: Making Peace with Marriage" where she explores the mysteries of just what marriage is and isn't. It's due in the bookstores in December . . . or is that when the film version of "Eat, Pray, Love," starring Julia Roberts is released?

My memory fails me. I should have written this down. The new book continues where she ended in
"EPL," in which  she chronicles her quest for spiritual healing and renewal through Italy, India and Indonesia after a divorce.

A woman whom I'd met through DivorceCare in Manhattan Kansas shortly after I moved there three years ago told me about "EPL." We didn't have a clue who Elizabeth Gilbert was, but nevertheless, I was persuaded, and the earth stopped in its rotation for almost five days as I cried, laughed and underlined and dogeared pages all the way through. I can't speak for any other readers, but it inspired me to rethink and form a new paradigm about God in my previously unsuccessful attempts at "finding Him."

Although it wasn't a full house, her first words expressed genuine surprise and sincere gratitude to an audience of 98 percent women for showing up. She told a story of someone very excited to meet a certain author. Gilbert assumed this reader meant herself. No, this reader was much more interested in Barbara Kingsolver. Gilbert then went on to tell a story about how she missed a flight to another speaking engagement even though she had arrived at the airport five hours early. She may not consider herself a stand-up comic, but she definitely had us roaring with laughter at her scatterbrained and disorganized state of mind on that particular day at the airport.

Not only is she a beautiful strawberry blonde who can make you feel like you're her best friend on the page, she's also a wonderfully eloquent reader and speaker. Even when she's got a head cold and apologetically popping cough drops  every few minutes, you just want to give her a hug. 

During the question portion, someone asked her if it was difficult to get so personal in "EPL."  Gilbert puzzled over this for a moment and then said,

"There's not one unspoken thought in my  head. If I ran into you at the drugstore, I'd tell you whatever medication I may be taking." As if it had never occurred to Gilbert to not write every detail and that's part of what makes her so endearing and likeable. She's an open book.

When asked to give advice on writing, Gilbert said, "Personalize an experience and then universalize it." Interesting. That's more or less exactly what my creative nonfiction professor was teaching us last week.

I couldn't wait in line for hours behind other fans for your autograph and to thank you, so I'll do it here. Thank you, Elizabeth, for offering me hope in the midst of my despair. Thank you for not missing your flight to Pittsburgh last night. Thank you for coming, despite your cold.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Defining Success: how and for whom?

I've spent the last few weeks trying to decide what I want to do with this blog to make it more interesting, and even profitable. I've made some changes to the layout. Eventually I'll post a photo and update my profile. But the puzzling question of how to make this blog different and unique from all the other thousands of blogs readers could spend 10 minutes reading is related to a major dilemma all writers face: how to find the balance between writing what I think is important and relevant and writing what I think will please readers.

What can I write about that hasn't already been done in other arenas by much more talented writers?  Originally I was going to focus on spiritual issues and issues of faith. That's hardly fresh or original. What my creative non-fiction professor would say is that the challenge is  not in coming up with an original idea, but in how you present it. That's why all 15 of us show up for three-hour creative non-fiction class every Monday night - because no of us knows the answer to that question yet.

Perhaps teachers struggle with similar issues. It's most often not what they are teaching, but in how they  present what they are teaching to make it engaging for all students, that is most challenging.  Both teachers and writers have an audience. Every student walks into the classroom with a different background and level of experience and expectation, much like the average reader.

Aren't teaching and writing both artforms? And aren't all artforms subjective? So just how does a writer and a teacher define success? What one reader hates another loves. What one student loves another hates. Unfortunately, our culture always defines success  by the Almighty Dollar and test scores. Assessing student progress using only test scores is like measuring the talent of a writer based only on book sales.

A teacher might define success as a student approaching them and telling them how much he or she learned in the class, even if test scores were consistently low. I would consider myself a successful writer if a reader approached me to tell me they felt less alone or more understood or made different choices in their value system after reading my work, even if I never made any money with the material. 

Perhaps the real question I struggle with is not so much the what and the how, but rather in harnessing the power.  Being bold about what I think is important, without worrying about being offensive. I've been given a love for words and a desire to use them, but how and for whom? Is writing about God uninteresting and irrelevant at the dawn of the 21st century compared to David Letterman's latest top ten list, the Emmy Awards or health care reform?  What should intelligent, inquiring minds be focusing on?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Computers hate me. Something always goes wrong. I put so much thought and effort into posting a new blog, and then I lose it somewhere in cyber space. Back to pen and paper for me.
Will this posting work?

Sunday, March 8, 2009


overcoming fear.

The day started out chilly and overcast, but then the sun made an appearance and brought forth a warmth that invited me to take a walk around the path at Anneberg Park. Last week at this time I was returning from my trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where my father and I visited the charming little campus of Chatham University for the open house of the creative writing program. This three-day adventure (which felt more like three weeks) of planes and rental cars and maps seemed more about breaking down my fears of navigating through enormous unfamiliar airports to make connecting flights, of learning how to rent a car and of driving in the dark in an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar city than it was about whether to accept Chatham's offer to study creative writing.


The theme of today's sermon was "Go and grow. And then grow and go." It seemed to directly address the last remaining drop of doubt I had about whether to undergo an mfa program in creative writing. As followers of Christ, we need to understand the reciprocal relationship between going and growing. The pastor was talking about the big scary word "evangelism," or just simply sharing your faith. This is done through relationship building by fulfilling a need. It could be as simple as helping an elderly neighbor or shut in rake leaves or shovel snow, or as dramatic as relocating to another country. Both situations are the mission field and are equally important. It's not supposed to be scary or overwhelming or cause us great distress. The point is to simply make yourself available when an opportunity presents itself. Upon further reflection, however, maybe making yourself available is not always so simple or easy.

I experimented with breaking down this not-so-simple process into a grammar lesson. Go and grow are verbs that mean action.
Step one: BE. Followers of Christ must first learn to be in tune with, in prayer to and available for service to others. We have to learn how to recognize golden moments of opportunity when God gives them to us. This can take a lot of work and transformation just to reach the BE phase.
Step two: GO. on your feet, move, walk, travel. Walk two blocks from your front door. Drive across town. Fly across the country. Don't stay in stagnant waters.
Step three: DO. Service. Action.

Taking risks.

Each phase is extremely important and can be thought of as cycle with no real beginning or ending. The BE phase is as active as the GO and DO phases, but can be challenging for extraverts or individuals who thrive on a lot of stimulation. I would have a tendency to get comfortable in the BE phase because I'm a natural analyzer and reflector. Sometimes we need still waters. In still waters, we can see ourselves in the water's reflection. Sometimes God wants us to examine ourselves because internal change might be required before DOING. That's never easy or fun. What's most important, I think, is movement. It could be emotional, physical, mental, geographical, or all four. It is through some type of movement that we are transformed into all that we were intended and created to be.

I believe my "still waters" of healing and renewal has been Manhattan, Kansas. Perhaps God is gently pushing me back into the current flowing downstream. Perhaps a time of "white-water rapids" is looming just around the next waterfall. A golden opportunity at Chatham University.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mission Possible: Celebrating Singlehood and Three Blessings

About a week ago, I had an extremely clever and witty post so carefully crafted and ready to go. It was going to be called "Celebrating Singlehood." With an invitation to a bridal shower and Valentine's Day looming ahead on the horizon like a storm, I was determined to avoid getting soaked in envy. I was intent on focusing on all the advantages of being single and even went so far as to pray for sincere feelings of well wishing for the bride-to-be, rather than a feigned polite response. I even made a Top 10 list of the best things about being single, and then consulted another single girlfriend, who was more than happy to add a few things herself.

Just sharing the frustration and loneliness with a friend my same age in the same life stage made me feel 200 percent better.

That was the first blessing. Here's what we came up with:

top 10 list of a SWINK (single with no kids)

10. Total freedom to go where you want when you want for however long you want
9. No obligations or expectations to cook
8. No obligations to do some else's laundry
7. freedom to spend money on whatever you want
6. No in-laws to deal with
5. No one to shove over on their side of the bed to stop snoring
4. No one to criticize your clothes, your cooking or your decorating choices
3. No one to horde the remote control
2. No need to shave legs or any other body parts
1. the time and space to develop gifts and talents and an identity separate from parent and spouse

This list is intended to be gender neutral, including both single women and men.

We agreed to prohibit Hallmark from making us feel like outcasts just because neither of us expect to receive a dozen red roses or chocolates or a diamond necklace or engagement ring from a man. She had a brilliant idea of creating and sending cards to a few of her other single girlfriends and writing something along the lines of "Congratulations on staying single and not caving into social pressure to settle for fear of being alone! You rock!" Last time I checked, Hallmark doesn't make those kinds of cards. We also agreed to put a temporary embargo on all romantic comedies, and there are at least three playing right now in all theaters near you. Interesting how the girl's life is always portrayed as being better and happier when she chooses the boy and tell me that a continuous diet with that message doesn't contribute to the general feelings of dissatisfaction and discontent among single women today.

In the 1950s and 1960s, when the majority of young single women walked down the aisle almost immediately after high school graduation, bridal showers made sense in order to help them set up their home because they wouldn't have had an opportunity to acquire those things. But today, when women are establishing careers and financial independence, they have more than likely already spent few years living alone and have thus already accumulated most of the necessary household items. Is the purpose of bridal showers now to simply remind us single gals that we're still single? My friend couldn't have given me a better quote if I had actually asked her for one, "It's the same horrible feeling of being in high school gym class and getting picked last when teams are being formed for the softball game. When will my turn come?"

Then I thought about a "Sex and the City" episode. In Single and Fabulous, main character and columnist Carrie Bradshaw is asked to be interviewed about her life as a 30-something single woman living in Manhattan, New York. Unfortunately, she makes the mistake of partying all night before this interview and photo shoot and shows up late and hungover the following morning. She is told that make-up and styling will come later and is photographed with "test shots." She ends up on the cover of the "New Yorker" looking horrible and the proceeding article admonishes the behavior of single women and encourages them to marry as soon as possible in order to "behave properly." Naturally, Carrie and her friends are horrified and each must confront the uncomfortable reality of whether or not they are indeed actually happy and "fabulous" as single women.

And then something unexpected began to unfold last week before I had the chance to post this. Ironically, I got distracted from my single minded pursuit of delighting in singlehood. By a boy, of all things. I know. I promise, it will NEVER happen again. I actually began to consider the possibility of maybe dating someone. We began enjoying each other's company as I have finally begun to accept myself for who I am. It has been an odd experience of seeing a part of myself in him reflected back to me. This must be a glimpse of what it feels like to admire someone.

The sermon this morning was about . . . take a wild guess. The second blessing was how I knew God was hard at work on my heart. Contentment. Not dependent on circumstances, but on condition of your heart. So simple, yet so complicated.

As for the bridal shower, that was blessing number three. I knew the bride-to-be very briefly when we both lived in Ames, Iowa. Then she moved to Manhattan. She sought me out when I first moved to Manhattan and we met regularly for a few weeks and she kindly and graciously listened while I was still licking my wounds from personal tragedy. Today she looked radiant at her bridal shower. She has chosen to leave a job she liked and her circle of friends in Manhattan and move to a town with a population of less than 1,000 in another state west of here where she is unemployed and knows no one but her fiance and future in-laws. The nearest Wal-Mart is 25 minutes away and the nearest shopping mall outlet is two hours away. And the greatest miracle of all is that I do NOT envy her choices. Not even a little. I am sincerely glad that she is happy, but I can't help but wonder about all that she has willingly given up to get married. How much should a woman be willing to give up in order to join her life with a husband without losing herself? Maybe if it's truly right and God ordained, a bride doesn't think of it as a sacrifice or as something she is "supposed to do" because she reached a certain age and "it's time." Maybe my musings are an indication that I'm truly gaining a sense of myself and who I am. (Refer to #1 on the top 10 list above.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cheerful Giving

I've discovered that I like two things to set the mood for blogging time. First, I light a candle. Somehow, a candle seems to acknowledge for the "sanctity" of writing time. Secondly, I slip in a CD of soft instrumental music. I always enjoy Enya, but at the moment I'm enjoying the brand new one from Jim Brickman. I'm not sure how to classify his style, but I love his simple, beautiful piano arrangements.

I'm at a rest stop along this road called "spiritual journey." Where am I? How far have I travelled? How soon before I reach a "destination?" What have I learned? Where's my map?

I'm grateful to have joined a women's Bible Study called "Believing God" by the always lovely, wonderful, talented internationally known and admired Beth Moore. Today we watched her presentation on a DVD. Does she ever rest? How many studies has she written? 100? This is my third Beth Moore study. Maybe I'll finish this one. I am pleased that this group seems focused and intentional. Oftentimes "Bible studies" can degenerate into social hour. I need the collective group energy to keep me focused and intentional.

The study is about actually believing God, not just IN him, or that he exists. It's about believing He is who He says He is. It's about believing I am who He says I am. It's about believing He will do what He says He will do. Yikes! Simple, yet profound. It's easy to claim to believe IN God. Not so easy to believe Him. At least not for me. At least not for today. Moore believes we have a tendancy to wrap God up in a nice little box with beautiful paper and pretty bow to represent how WE want Him to be. We want God to be completely logical and answer all the hard questions at the exact moment we want them. We want to completely define and totally understand everything about Him, because that gives us a sense of control, even though it could be an illusion.

Because we're made in His image, He imprinted into our DNA the desire to either know Him or search for some kind of truth, and yet, the paradox is that we aren't capable of ever fully understanding Him. Is it like trying to explain quantum physics to a three-year-old? But if we can struggle to wrap our minds around the notion that He is who He says He is, it seems to be a huge step toward "sort of" knowing him. And that is a huge mountain for me to climb. Moore points out that we've got to accept not knowing and not understanding as part of the process in getting to know Him better. It becomes an issue of how comfortable we are with varying degrees of uncertainty. Some people can tolerate uncertainty better than others. I can tolerate some uncertainty, but not much. As of this point, reading scripture does not help me move toward certainty, and I think I know why. I still have a couple bones to pick with this mysterious all knowing all powerful diety who fearfully and wonderfully made me. That's between me and Him.

The sermon this morning was about not giving. Giving is not about "giving." Confused yet? What I think the pastor was trying to say is that the act of giving is not about money itself or how much money we give. Our attitude about giving monetarily or in any other way is a direct reflectin of the condition of our hearts. God wants us to give with a cheerful heart. What exactly is a "cheerful heart?" I think it means giving with no thought or expectation of reward or a thank you. In my mind, I'm reversing this and asking myself this question: If we feel manipulated or unwilling to give for whatever reason, does that mean we should NOT give? Then I thought of this particular card from a collection I have from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, author of the "Power of Intention" that reads: Anonymously perform acts of kindness, expecting nothing in return, not even a thank you. The universal all-creating Spirit responds to all acts of kindness with the reponse: How may I be kind to you (or give you?)

Pastor focused more on all the promises God will reward us with if we can rise to the challenge of being cheerful givers, but I think reasons why we aren't always cheerful givers run deeper and need to be acknowledged. I think the reluctance that some of us may feel toward giving are rooted in fear. Aren't resources limited? If we give what we have, will we end up in soup lines and homeless shelters? Suffering? Losing everything we've put our security in, such as jobs? Have we been conditioned to fear not having enough money more than not having God? Then I thought of the miracle Jesus performed with only two fish and five loaves of bread. (Or was it two loaves of bread and five fish?) Obviously that small amount of food was not enough to nourish the huge crowd, but it was all one particular little boy had. We mere mortals are obviously not enough. Our resources are limited. But if we can climb that mountain of courage to believe He is who He says He is, if we can trust that He is a mysterious God of abundance and generosity, and if we believe that He alone has the power to multiply our small gifts, then perhaps we can come close to being cheerful givers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why "Seek Him First" ?

This is what discipline means. Writing when I don't feel like it writing. But it's Sunday night and a day I have decided will be devoted to creating new posts, whether I'm inspired or feel like it or not. I know exactly what I want to write, but am now fighting fatigue at 10:25 p.m. The goal will be to make this short and to the point. I give myself half an hour.

I experimented with a new church this morning. I attended University Christian Fellowship at 9:45. Yikes! I was so unimpressed with that atmosphere that when the service was over, I realized I had just enough time to make it to Westview for the 11:00 service. Yeah, two services in one morning. I had not planned on that, but am glad I did. I'm not going into detail about why I didn't like UFC because I don't want to be negative.

The primary theme of pastor's sermon at Westview was money, but what I walked away with is a different way of thinking about the verse "seek first the kingdom of God . . . ." I understand that it has to do with re-arranging priorities to make sure that God's interests are met first. It sounds reasonable enough in theory, but in practice? Pastor pointed out that one could take two months just to meditate on the first two words of that passage: "seek first." So here I am, taking "Post one" to meditate on two words. It could take me two months just to figure how to re-arrange my priorities or lifestyle to make sure that God's interests are met first.

I think it warns against the dangers of trying to find contentment and satisfaction without God. Whatever you think you want in life, such as financial security, good health, good relationships, better relationship with you spouse, or having a spouse, consult with God first before pursuing those things. Like asking permission? Doesn't God already know what we want?

Maybe it means believing he knows the best plan or path or strategy for obaining these things. Again, the troublesome image always comes to my mind of God as deliberately withholding from me the very thing he knows I desperately want. That's my greatest fear.

Maybe the verse is implying that there is a process involved in when we seek or consult with God first about our plans. Through the process of consulting him first, maybe we learn something or grow in a way we otherwise wouldn't have. Maybe this process prepares us to receive that other stuff (or blessings) we think we want. "seek first" also suggests there's a proper order. I don't know.

I was going to give other examples of how difficult it can be to "seek first" but I'm stopping now because it's 10:52 and I promised myself I would be done by 11:00 and I'm almost brain dead and I need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed by 8:15 tomorrow. Ouch. Maybe I'll continue this theme in another posting.

Good night.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's never too late

"It's never too late" was the occuring phrase of the day today after a near miss here, a panic there and then Oprah.

My mind was buzzing with all sorts of doable, concrete ways to put the jumper cables on my spirituality or as the more familiar cliche goes: "finding God." Over a cup of coffee, I quickly filled three journal pages front and back with my thoughts and feelings about the Almighty now and ways to dig deeper.

Here are some of the things I scribbled down in the morning:

Following in the evangelical Lutheran tradition is definitely not working. Buying into the notion of being "born again" and the idea of a full submersion baptism hasn't payed off either. What I find myself resisting at nearly every turn in the "conservative evangelical free" tradition (the quotes signify the label) is the idea that I am an innately bad, bad, evil person person - a miserable sinner damned to hell without a "merciful" God. Only the Judeo-Christian "God" can save me from hell. Worship thus consists of gleefully praising this wonderful God and constant reminders about what horrible people we are so that we are compelled to beg for forgiveness of all "sins." God is good. I am bad. God knows everything. I know nothing.

I find this version of "God" anything but helpful.

Have you ever wondered why modern western culture attributes the Judeo-Christian God whom we are taught as all knowing, powerful, wise, and a loving diety as masculine? Sometimes I like to think of God as feminine. Why do we associate the word "God" with masculinity? Perhaps a Bible scholar would know.

There are two reasons why I've almost completely rejected the "conservative evangelical free" version of God. One originates from an overzealous elder pastor from an evangelical free church I attended for a while in Iowa. I sought counsel from him while I was struggling in a sinking marriage. He basically insisted that my then-husband's wayward ways were entirely my fault and my responsibility was to pray for him -- but no matter what -- stay married or the fires of hell would certainly consume me. About a year ago, when I was talking about this with my friend Julie, she had this to say, "Yes, divorce is a sin, but it still happens. Just like murder, just like dishonesty. It happens. Do you really think God intended for you to live in that misery, waiting for a husband who simply chooses an addiction over you? That's your husband's choice. Not yours. What he did is not your fault." She knew the pastor I had talked to. What Julie said next and how she said it really grabbed my attention. "F_ _ K what Pastor _____ said. He says the same thing to everybody and it's obviously not always that helpful." Julie helped me realize that forgiving myself was the crucial next step in my healing process. Ouch. Not easy, particularly for the type of addiction I was born with.

Self-loathing. Reason number two why focusing on all my "sins" doesn't compel me "take up my cross and follow thee." Rather than focusing on myself as "bad" and going through an act of contrition every Sunday, I believe it will be healthier for me to be told and to tell myself that I am worthy and deserving of my Creator's love and blessings. Rather than deny negative emotions and speaking words and acting in ways that are not in anyone's best interest, I choose to accept my human frailties and give them over to my Creator. I have a hunch that She has the power to transform unwise choices into miracles to bless everyone.

Temptation to wallow in self-loathing hits me at every turn. An hour or two after journaling, I checked my email and my suspicions that Chatham, one of the MFA programs I'm applying to, had not yet received my undergraduate transcripts were confirmed. And the deadline is today. (Perhaps Chatham isn't the institution I was meant to go, I tried to calm myself.) I faxed a request for the transcripts on December 18. It must have been too late. I called the associate director at Chatham and stated my case. She was actually very understanding, making it clear that I wasn't the only one and a grace period of a couple more days would be granted. It wasn't too late! I called UNI. No record of receiving a fax on December 18 could be found. (idiots!) I raced to my workplace to fax the request AGAIN. This time, I politely asked someone to stand over me and make sure I faxed it correctly. Sure enough. It was MY failure. (Self-loathing begins). I waited 10 minutes after the fax supposedly went through, then called UNI to confirm that it was received. Success! Oops. Wait. Not so fast. I had forgotten to check the overnight box on the form. I made this very clear to the woman on the other end.

A couple of hours later, I turn on Oprah while sifting through a mountain of mail, and this just happens to be the episode where she got brutally honest about her weight gain. It was her talking to the camera. That was the show. But she was talking about some of the very same things I struggle with related to loving yourself and taking care of yourself. It's not about the weight gain. It was only a symptom that she was out of balance in other aspects of her life. Her counselors asked her, "What are you hungry for?" and it's not the potato chips. Oprah's "ah-hah" moment was recognizing her previous cockiness when she was all of 140 pounds and thought she had her addictions to food conquered. That was when her personal trainer informed her in no uncertain terms that ANY addiction is NEVER conquered, but ALWAYS MANAGED. Take that to the bank! Yikes. And we ALL have our addictions.

As human beings, we all seek pleasure, according to Oprah, but it's the way in which one seeks pleasure that matters. I'll agree with that. For her, giving gives her pleasure. Perhaps what gives us pleasure is when we use the talents and gifts we were born with to bless others. For me, writing gives me pleasure. Writing to help others is what I was born to do. The fact that I don't know what "writing to help others" is supposed to look like on a grand scale is my primary frustration. But I have a hunch that if I embark on a "spiritual journey" to "find God" (that sounds like a lofty, cliche and head-in-the-clouds approach) and report back on what I find, it might hold some answers that I'm looking for.

Maybe it's not too late. Maybe it's never too late to search for deeper meaning in one's life. In fact, maybe now is the perfect time. Stay tuned. My creator is out there somewhere, waiting to be found!