Write In Between

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Raising the F.U.N. Quotient

A number of years ago I was away on a chick weekend (three girlfriends in NYC just for the joy of it, following a Women of Faith conference.) Well, not only did we enjoy the conference but we had hysterical adventures both on the streets of New York New York, and in my sister's basement (where we slept) where we came down with a severe case of the sillies. And if I tried to describe it to you, I know I couldn't do the moment justice. But it was there that we dubbed our fun weekend extravagance a necessity to daily life--with fun being defined as frequent, unbridled, nonsense. I will never forget that definition as long as I live.

I can have fun playing a game, reading a book, creating something, or eating ice-cream--just for starters. But for real F.U.N. I need my girlfriends. They bring out the laughter. And as the Scriptures say in the Book of Proverbs 17:22: A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones. And at my age--who needs dried-up bones?!

Yes, indeed, some of my favorite unbridled nonsense (another variation of f.u.n) has been socializing with these pals, usually over a glass of wine, or at least a coffee or a cup of tea. Ecclesiastes, 9:7: Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already approved what you do.

But I write today on the need for FREQUENT unbridled nonsense. A recent phone conversation with a dear friend blatantly pointed out that we both were in serious need of some f.u.n. Life has gotten very heavy of late, and the weight of daily duties have not helped to lighten the mood. Ah yes, we are in serious need of raising our f.u.n. quotient. And so I am on the lookout for opportunities to do just that.

The first one was buying a yo-yo. And yes, actually playing with it. Drove my dog nuts, and that was fun too. When I was in the 4th grade, the yo-yo craze hit my school. I loved my yo-yo. And that memory stays with me. So, now I've got mine on my shelf above the kitchen sink, reminding me to look for the fun in my life. And to look for opportunities to be more playful and cheerful.

The next thing I did to raise the fun quotient was to buy some new music... Cranking a few new tunes on the car stereo does wonders for my "fun" commute of 100 miles a day. And it keeps me rolling. Singing lifts my heart, too!

These small purchases were a little bit of pampering for me. I'm not a shop-a-holic by any means. But these little me-gifts are therapeutic.

But the best source of raising the F.U.N. quotient will be a celebration this weekend with family and friends--coordinated by my girlfriends and myself.

We each have daughters getting confirmed and we are having a joint party--uniting our families for this joyous event. And what a gift to celebrate the next generation of Catholic women coming up behind us! For two years we've taught them the Catechism and had lots of tea and conversation... some good sense and some nonsense stirred together.

My prayer is that the holy gift of Wisdom imparted to these girls will not only show them (and remind me) to lead serious Christian lives, but also show them them that one of the implied gifts of the Spirit is knowing how to have some serious fun once in a while, or a least some unbridled nonsense!

Faith is a necessity, but so are friends and fun. Let us celebrate these blessings with purpose and a merry heart!

Nehemiah 8: 10b: "... for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

love/hate Email

Like my fickle hormones, my email inbox can bring out the love and hate in me...

I love it when a friend drops a thoughtful note.
I hate it when I get spam.

I laugh out loud at the jokes I could never memorize well enough to tell out loud, so I forward them! And I despise a chain letter promising something good will happen--but only if I forward it to my entire address list.

I love it when I'm long distance or in the wrong time zone but can still send a greeting and not wake the person up. I can't stand it when I barely have time to open or sort "the mail."

I love receiving pictures of loved ones and best pals. I hate it that large attachments sometimes choke the life out of my system bringing it to its knees.

I love that I can send little notes to our children's email addresses. I hate that I have no idea what our children are sending and receiving from others.

My entire life I've enjoyed buying stationery and sending handwritten missives. I grew up having penpals from the second grade and all through my life. Now my handwriting has deteriorated and my eyesight is failing to the point that I am grateful for beautiful fonts and large type!

I never thought this email thing, (and all things cyber) would ever catch on with me. Now, I think I'd miss it.

And still there are days when I don't.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Monday, April 24, 2006

To all my bosomed buddies...

An AP article today gave me a jolt: one-third of breast-cancer survivors do not get follow-up mammograms.

Read the full article here.

As a breast cancer survivor, I found this statistic shocking, but I understand it.

First, let me say that I understand it because I face the fear of returning to the hospital for my check-ups ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago. But still I go. I believe that early detection saved my life, not to mention monthly breast self-exam.

Second, mammography’s technology has improved ovcr the last ten years. Yup, that means “they” are finding lumps before we even do… but that’s the point, right? Remember this statistic: 80% of breast lumps are benign. That’s important to realize. For me, the fear on not finding what they are supposed to find outweighs the fears of making the appointment.

So, to all you women out there, and for the men and children who love them—make your annual mammography appoint and GO. Do what you must to mentally get it together: take a day off from work, bring a friend, reward yourself with a trip to the store, bring home take-out, go to lunch, go to Mass first, whatever, but GO.

If you are a breast cancer survivor, remember, you’ve been through a kind of war. And nobody wants to return to the battlefield. I often recall our honored Purple Heart war veterans who walk or wheel proudly behind our nation’s flag on Memorial Day or Veterans Day. They, too, have suffered much, but they go on. We can too. Except our Day comes in a different form: Call it Mammorial Day. Each year you stand up and face that exam, recall that you, too, have suffered much, but you can go on. And if you need a parade to celebrate the event, join the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. It’s one heck of a parade with lots of pink ribbons and balloons. Not to mention people who stand along the entire route clapping and cheering for you as you pass by!

Finally, I keep my mammography and breast exams appointments so I can keep all the other appointments that are important in my life… and they are the things that matter most.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

More on DaVinci Code

Movie promotion of The Da Vinci Code is reaching a fever pitch.

George Weigel, as usual, has an excellent column on this cultural phenomonen, and it praises the great websites from the USCCB and Catholic Exchange on this subject, which I shared with you weeks ago, right here.

Screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi has a great blog post containing a rich satire of DVC. Earlier this year, she pointed out that Over the Hedge, an animated flick, will be opening May 19th--the same day as DVC. She has suggested that people vote with their feet and show Hollywood a thing or two. So, I'm going to Over the Hedge on May 19th.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Here's your sign...

For your own sign fun, go to http://www.churchsigngenerator.com/

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Strike Outs

Baseball season is here. And I can't help saying a few words on one of my favorite phrases in baseball lingo: the strike out!

Depending on which side of the plate you are on, "strike out" can have different meanings.

For the pitcher, a strike out is good. For the batter, it's bad. Either way, it's all about responding to the ball that is pitched -- and the finesse both pitcher and batter use to accomplish either a strike out or a strike out.

Ahh, but there's a greater mystery...

Jesus was the ultimate strike out, from the world's point of view-- some Messiah! Even his best pals betrayed and deserted him in the end! Yeah, Satan was in the stands whooping it up.

But the truth was otherwise.

Jesus was the final inside pitch the Father used to strike out Death and Sin, humiliating the Devil's team.

Go TEAM!!!!

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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A Boy, A Man, and a Mom

The decision is final. My son has decided where he is going to college. My head acknowledges this, but my heart is undecided. It is uncharted territory for the both of us. He's 18--this child God used to make a mother out of me.

He's slowly been moving out of my sphere of influence. But at least he's been at home. When he wasn't, I believed he was where he said he was. When he goes away to college in a few months, I'll have to trust him to God in much bigger ways than before.

So this is how it is with the firstborn. You delight in their arrival, never grow tired of the ways they grow, and yet, you are still surprised when they do. You fight with them, fight for them, and then fight the tears when you learn the truth: you’ve worked all along to put yourself out of a job, and succeeded. Still, when they move on, so must we. But…

I still see the boy; but only when I see beyond the size-11 sneakers, and look up at the 6-foot-two frame with stubble on his chin.

I see the blond boy I taught how to hit a ball, using an oversized whiffle-bat. The same one I caught hardballs for when he was trying out for a pitcher's slot in Little League. I still see the much-older boy who yearned to play varsity ball but didn't survive the final cut, and walked away with his dignity intact but his heart broken. And I saw the same man, one year later, yearn to try out again, but miss his chance because he broke both thumbs in an earlier skiing accident. He left a lot more than wounded pride on that ski slope.

I see baseball hats as permanent wardrobe accessories from the age of two. And how, really, some things never change. (He does take them off at the dinner table and in church.)

I see bookshelves full of Matt Christopher books about sports of every kind. And how they've given way to ESPN magazine and SportsCenter on cable TV.

I see the boy who collected all things Lego. And I see the man who bequeathed them all to his younger brother, still sitting down now and again to help him build things.

I see the boy who dressed up as a cowboy for Halloween and as John Paul II for a school presentation. And now I see the man, getting fitted for a tuxedo for the prom--including a top hat and tails--not to mention a suit and mortarboard for commencement.

I see the boy whose favorite vehicle as a toddler was a 'guck.' And the man I pray for who drives a red pick-up truck out of our driveway everyday.

I see the boy who fell asleep at night listening to radio broadcasts of the Sox, Celtics and Bruins. And now I see the man who wants to attempt a career in sports journalism.

I see the shy boy who needed braces and permanent bridgework, and the man who smiles more easily now.

I see the boy who collected commemorative State Quarters from my spare change. Now, I see the man who has a job, a checking account, and ATM card!

I see the boy at church in dress clothes, receiving his First Holy Communion. And now I see the man who helps give retreats to underclassmen at his Catholic high school, and who stood up as Godfather for our youngest nephew.

I see his mom. Once upon a time, she gave birth to an 8-lb. boy after 14 hours of hard labor and an emergency c-section. Sniffling and crying through that emotional white-knuckled birth, she waved the one hand that was not pinned down to a monitor or hooked up to an IV, begging to get a glimpse of the face of her baby boy. She looks different today from that younger gal. But, you'll recognize her. She'll be the one sniffling uncontrollably, and waving the wet-hanky-in-hand at the man with the diploma, straining to see his face at graduation.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11. RSV)

© 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Reproaches from the Cross

This is a classic prayer of the Church used on Good Friday. But honestly, I can't say I've heard it prayed in recent years in the services I've attended. Maybe we should.

(It is one of many beautiful nuggets found in The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living.)

O my people, what have I done for you?
How have I offended you?
Answer me!
I led you out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom,
but you have led your Savior to the cross.
For forty years, I led you safely through the desert.
I fed you with manna from heaven
and brought you to a land of plenty,
but you have led your Savior to the cross.
What more could I have done for you?
I planted you as my fairest vine,
but you yielded only bitterness;
when I was thirsty, you gave me vinegar to drink,
and you pierced your Savior's side with a spear.
O my people, what have I done for you?
How have I offended you?
Answer me.
I led you out of Egypt,
leaving Pharoah drowned in the Red Sea:
but you delivered me to the chief priests.
I opened the sea before you;
and you opened my side with a spear.
I went before you in a pillar of fire:
and you have dragged me
into the judgment hall of Pilate.
I fed you with manna in the desert;
and you have beaten me with fist and whip.
I gave you water of salvation to drink:
and you have given me gall and vinegar.
For your sake I struck the kings of the Canaanites:
and you have struck my head with a reed.
I gave you a royal scepter:
and you have given me a crown of thorns.
I raised you up with great strength:
and you have hanged me on the gibbet of the Cross.
O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you?
Answer me.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Blogging Light

Here we are in Holy Week 2006.

Blogging will be light this week as I prepare my soul, my family and my house for Easter.

Let me encourage you to attend the Triduum services at your church this week.

In the words of my pastor, "let us pray for one another!"

Have a blessed Easter!

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

5 Smooth Stones

These days, I keep five smooth stones on the window ledge above my kitchen sink. The kitchen sink is often my contemplation spot, as I seem to stand there so often! I keep inspiration near the sink in the form of prayers, photos, cards and of course, the stones.

I picked up these five stones on the shoreline of Long Island Sound. Its amazing how uniform little white rocks look, yet when you hold them in your hand, they are still all different. They each represent something I am working on.

1 Samuel 17. David, the man after God's own heart, who one day would be King, sets out to face down a giant Philistine. He leaves behind the personal armor given to him by King Saul. Goes down to the river. Chooses 5 smooth stones, and puts them in his pocket next to his slingshot.

It doesn't seem possible that one well-placed stone could fell a giant, but it did.

And as I meditated on David's success, I also remember him recounting how he would protect the sheep using that same slingshot. It was practice. David took time to practice in order to aim accurately and hit his mark. His discipline paid off when the time was right.

My 5 small stones to remind me to practice, to have self-discipline in 5 areas that the Lord wants me to work on. Those smooth stones remind me that God wants me to overcome some giants in my life.

Discipline. Has the same root as "disciple."

That's what I'm aiming for.

For inspiration, read about David in the Book of Samuel. For some musical inspiration, read over the lyrics from the song The Voice of Truth from Casting Crowns. It talks about overcoming obstacles, like David did.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Facing the Truth about Me, About Him

O Jesus, how imperfectly I keep my attentions
while your attentions never waver or falter.

O Jesus, how weak I am in the face of fatigue
while you are strength without failing.

O Jesus, how slow I am to respond in love
while you are love eternal,
swiftly capturing my heart,
my affections, my soul.

Your love is all I need
for I am weak and you are strong;
I am imperfect and you are perfect;
I am unholy and you are holy.

Let your love heal me,
inebriate me,
animate me,
restore me,
implore me,
cajole me,
move me
and perfect me.

You and only You.

I offer myself to you
in all my poverty
for all your glory.


Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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