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Thursday, November 7, 2013

The First Paul

There's something interesting about this book but I don't know that it's appropriate for Beloved Community. I strongly believe it shouldn't be our first book. It's almost a biography of Paul. Part of the intrigue is the varied perspectives from which the writers view him: Protestant Paul, Catholic Paul, Conservative Paul, Radical Paul, etc. I appreciate them looking at him from varied lenses to try to uncover his essence. I respect the statement that certain branches of Christianity are more about Paul than Jesus, though we never say that nor fully realize it. Interesting, but I felt the growth of my head, not my spirit, as I read.

Concerning working to bring the group to fruition, I've learned that we must purchase $50 in food to meet in Panera's group room, as suggested. No. The downtown library will be closed most of this month for renovations. Their north location closes before the group is even scheduled to begin. oh my, oh my, oh my; what's next? Looks like we're bout down to a bar or restaurant public area for our 1st meeting. Or the winery. I never called the other places initially listed when I blogged meeting location ideas, like the community center in my area. I guess I should make a few more calls. But I'm seriously thinking Miss Ollie's at this point; I just hate for alcohol to be a barrier/deal breaker for anyone.  Maybe Panera but in the open area? Or Charlie Bulldog's; it's local and uses local produce. That's a good example. That seems better. I also created and printed some advertisement cards. I put them on cars parked outside (1 side) the University of Memphis.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

the jesus i never knew

I am disappointed in this book. I only read 3 chapters but they were hard to push through. The language was simple, conversational, which I like. The content was blah. The one positive I can say is his chapter on miracles reminded me of Anne Lamott's writings on small miracles. I like to be reminded of such things. Perhaps it is a small miracle that I woke up, naturally, by 8am this morning. New Love is coming and I haven't prepared. It was uncertain if she would come here for the day or if I would go to Memphis. I don't feel like driving to Memphis; I'm tired. I will be sadden by allowing India Arie to come and go but I'm tired. Fatigue accepted. Gabapentin ease up or be gone soon. Anyhow, a small miracle. Another book off the list. I need to call Panera and the library to select a location, then I can post a date. I have one "member" on meetup. I'm creating cards to leave in coffee shops & such to help spread the word. 5 would be a wonderful number, don't you think? Blessed be.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

2013 goal tracking

New text in purple.

(1) This year, I will unpack. Completely, fully, with organization. I  at my last house and there are things I missed. Some have already been freed in my new location. My landlord sucks, which can inspire back peddling, but I hope to make peace with one another and be able to stay here for at least 3 years.
Discontinued. I can't wait for my opportunity to leave this house. I have no positive words to say about my landlord. I think I'll begin to pack.

(2) Use, use, use my Mexican food cookbook. Make at least 10 new recipes :).
October: Ex didn't like Mexican food, minus tacos. That was a huge barrier to accomplishing this goal. 3 months after her move, I've been thinking about this. I suppose there's time as long as I eat a lot of Mexican food. Another barrier has been my health. In association with migraines, I haven't been able to eat much. In association with a new girlfriend, I think, this has improved. I did finally try Mexican this week. Some discomfort but tolerable. 

 (3) Pay off my student loan. I owe 1405.88. After interest, that might be $1465.88. A range is fairer to me than an absolute elimination. Thus, I'll say that by December 2013, I will owe no more than $310. That means I would have eliminated about 75% of that debt. I explored this topic at 43things
My payoff amount is now $599-- that's a big difference from $1086 in February. This debt will be gone by December 2013. Apparently, I'll exceed the goal I wrote concerning this at the beginning of the year.
October: Mission accomplished :) :). I cannot express how happy I am about this. I paid off my balance this week.

(4) Own less stuff. I'm not really sure how this looks but moving (again) showed me that I have a bunch of stuff. Most ppl don't have this much; why do I? Often, packing helps me see what things to shed. This time, it did not. Before the move, I mentally established the modest goal of getting rid of 60 things in 2013 onward-- 5 things per month on average. That's a minimum. I need less. I need to get rid of more. 365 items seems like an intimidatingly large commitment but maybe not. Somewhere between 100 & 365 for 2013?
October: I'm not good at focusing on this goal. I'm even worse at tracking it. I hope to have a yard sale in March or April. 43things logs me at 73 items "gone"

I'm only at 32 on compared to 23 in Feb.  Still not great at tracking what I've gotten rid of. Feeling a bit more motivated about this as I realize the amount that I own is a major reason I was resistant to moving. Having a landlord that flat foot refuses to make repairs inspires me more than having a bunch of stuff stifles me.

  (5) Get my health in better shape. There's fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia. Then there's fitness. These past 6 months have been much worse than many 6 month periods. I'm trying a new medication (Savella), been referred to aquatherapies, and am reapproaching yoga (stopping is probably one of my worse mistakes thus far). I once said that I refuse to allow fibromyalgia to steal my life. It's been gaining more ground than I prefer so this year I am changing that.'
October 2013: Not sure what to say here. Fibromyalgia symptoms are probably better than in January. Health is fragile. I had a migraine daily for 6 weeks. Then the headache faded and came intermittedly but the nausea and sensitivity to food smells stayed. Now it all comes and goes. I saw a neurologist and did a MRI; they don't know what's going on with me. Follow up in about 3 weeks. He wants me to avoid all caffeine, pain pills, headache/migraine medications, and herbal treatments of any kind. I haven't had pain/headache pills since my last appointment with him. I have caffeine 2-3 days per week but less than was my norm on those days. I use my herbals as I need them. I have to survive this mess somehow and although he trusts the FDA more than herbal companies, my faith is the opposite. Still no yoga but still thinking about it. I exercise some when with girlfriend but need to get back on a schedule on my own. I want to try Monday line dancing and Tuesday yoga at the Y. The newest med the neurologist has me trying has me in bed by 8pm and without energy by 6pm. It's such a barrier to my life at large. I've been on it less than 2 weeks at this point and am really trying to move forward with it and let my body adjust. It just happens to hinder the rest of my life trying to be medically compliant.

June 2013: Still not doing great with this goal. Actually just got put on 2 new daily meds. Went to yoga this past Wednesday and tried water aerobics on Thursday. I want to continue with both but the tattoo will delay my water activities. Got my bicycles repaired; need to spend more time riding them.

Feb 2013: Insurance won't pay for aquatherapies.
I take Savella as prescribed but doubt that it does much good. The timing is bad because allergen elimination decreases my pain. I have no way of knowing to what extent Savella helps.
Yoga hit a snag due to me having surgery on my hand; then I forgot to go to class.  I also acknowledge the need to increase home practice but struggle for a location. It is challenging to find the TV in the living room not in use, the space is insufficient in my bedroom, and the art room has a bunch of clean laundry and boxes in it right now that prevent that space for being used for anything. Hallway yoga? Maybe I'll do a few minutes of that. Also, I start photoshop classes this week, which will prevent me from attending the supportive yoga classes I was trying to commit to attending. 
Overall, I feel no healthier than when I started the year. I'm trying to make a health/fitness change per week. I give myself a C.

(6) Learn to eat in a way respectful to my body, particularly as it relates to delayed food sensitives
October: The inability to eat at large has hindered my efforts to respect what I know about my body. Just before getting sick, I decided not to bring gluten-containing sandwich bread, gluten-containing regular crackers, or gluten containing pasta (excemption to Ramen)  into my house. I've upheld that. I haven't eatten away much of what was already here so I don't have a gluten-free cracker, pasta pantry yet. I did eat up the regular bread prior to my sick binge. I tried eating a new gluten free bread but got sick and am therefore afraid to try that brand again. But it's in my freezer. This goal isn't far from my thoughts; I guess a little progress has been made. Very little.
Working on starting over. Beginning at fast food instead of a specific food group.

(7) Do not increase the number of medications I take. Decrease my total of pills by at least one at year's end. This goal sounds mild but note that my doctor has me on 3 additional pills per day compared to what I was taking a month ago and has another on standby  Really, I think I'm trying to get off a blood pressure med, not be put back on cholesterol med, and not have Prilosec become a daily norm. More than get off of meds, I want to not increase despite being on the verge of that.
October:  I'm now on gabapentin to control my migraines. It has me exhausted. Not sure what kind of effect it has on the migraines yet. Not moving in the right direction, I guess.
2 daily meds & 1 prn added last week of May. grrr. I'm kind of glad about one of them though because it's for something I've noticed as being high norm but never had a doctor express concern over before.

(8) Be a photographer/craftster for the year. Learn photoshop, Build my website ( Build a kickstarter account to raise funds for a good and functional camera. Participate in 6 art fairs. Participate in photo club. Build some skills. Lets see what happens. I can put out another $700 with no or little return or I can see products move (though probably not enough to earn everything I put out in year 1 of seriousness).
October: June's update was the last of the crafty business for the year. Maybe with my next move?
 June 2013: I completed 2 photoshop classes. Classes ended maybe 2 weeks ago. Haven't touched art since; I needed a break. It's all work. Not going to pursue all listed above. I need to pack, not unpack; I need to move.

Feb 2013: I signed back in to my website and reviewed how it operates. I signed up for a photoshop class. It starts this week.

(9) Be a better steward of my money. Actually balance my checking account regularly-- track weekly/biweekly. Balance quarterly. It's enough for me.
October: Not on track.

 June: I changed my budgeting/tracking system to something less complicated. I decided on the change a few months ago then didn't address financial matters :o. Today, I looked back at it and began to balance.

Feb: The balancing has begun for the year. I have not updated for this week. Thus, I am behind.

(10) Lose some weight. My mom's pain increases when she gains weight. Dr. Steven Murphree once stated I would hurt less if I weighed less. Without mom's testimony it sounds silly but why not give it a try? I'll set a modest 12lb goal by my 31st (6-30-13). Shockingly (to me), I just opened my journal and learned that I've gained 25 lbs since Jan. 2010. For those of you that actually see me, do you see that 25lbs gained? Wow! SMH.
October: I was minus 10 the last I checked, a week ago. I suspect it's due to that period of only being able to eat noodles and bread/sandwiches. Let's see how long it holds.
 June 2013: I'm back at Jan's weight. That especially bites since my goal deadline is about 3 weeks away.

Feb: I've lost about 10lbs this year due to the elimination diet. I say "due to" but I've never lost weight on this diet before (which surprises even me). I resume regular eating in about 2 weeks so Feb/March will be the real tellers of how my weight loss goal is going. 

(11) Recycled from Jan 2012: "Put forth more effort to find a spiritual home. 24 attempts minimal." Okay, 20. Slight change from last year.
October: I haven't been counting but City Fellowship is 'bout the only place I've been this year. I did start a community group of my own, except we haven't met. I'm hoping for a Nov12th or 19th first meeting.
 Feb 2013: I've gone to City Fellowship at least 5 times this year, I went to the church at the Health Food store once too many times :). Still needing to get to New St. Luke and might check out the UMC and non-denominational churches I visited last year. 

Last week, I went to City Fellowship. Today, I planned to go to New St. Luke Missionary Baptist but my hair was still wait when I woke up. If I can get it dry in 30 minutes, I'll go back to City Fellowship. 

(15) Keep A1C at or below 6.5. It's a constant goal of mine though my new doc wants it at a 6.0. I guess I can aim for 6.3  October: pretty sure I was below goal at last appointment but can't remember my actual number.
 May's # didn't nail it. Thankfully, I'm still not at a place to be called "bad"

(16) Get my first tattoo. I wrote that for 2011 but here it is 2 years later. It's time to get some of these reoccurring items off the list.
Done, June 2013

I've actually sought out 5 artists this year for my yoga design. Tattoo artists seem to be flakes from my experience but I finally got an appointment scheduled for today. 15 minutes before we were to start, I got a text that something came up but I'll get a discount once we connect. We'll see. Mostly I'm being quoted something like $500 so I'm not sure that I'll proceed if it doesn't work out with the discount artist.

(18) Do some training in reading others. A microexpression online training? Read Bodytalk? Something.
October: nada
 June: no new updates. Feb: I purchased Bodytalk and Body Language. I haven't read much of either but at least I have some tools to get crackin'.

(20) Evaluate these goals and my progress regularly, no less than once a quarter.  
October: Review done. Lots of goals not yet accomplished. Ummm. Gun glasses aren't on here but I'm sure that was a goal for this year. Needing to refocus and select some things to accomplish in the next 2 months.
 Here is another  conscious review....  I am glad to report that every item on this list is in my regular stream of consciousness. I may not be progressing in them all but I'm trying to work out a plan and get to action at least.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Finding Our Way Again: the Return of the Ancient Practices

Finding Our Way Again by Brian Mclaren is the book I browsed last week for consideration  as a Beloved Community Group read. The first chapter, "Searching for an Everyday Sacredness" had me saying "yes, yes, yes!" He recounts interviewing Dr. Peter Senge and having him share his belief that people are gravitating towards Buddhism because it presents itself as a way of life, whereas Christianity presents itself as a system of belief. Dr. Senge says that people need a way of life. I crave a way of life. Spirituality. A spiritual way of life. Each chapter in this book ends with "spiritual exercises," a list of questions to help readers reflect on and/or apply the material read in the preceding chapter. Of the chapters I've read, I'd put some of the printed questions on the floor in the group setting and leave others for people to ponder in their own time.

The book is divided into 3 parts: way, practices, and ancient. I tried to read a chapter from each in my review/scan. In "Practicing the Way of Jesus," he touches on what so many of those to which I flock understand. Literally, it is written, "whenever I hear the name Jesus, I cringe." Like the "I hate church" billboard, it's a statement that makes me want to read more.
The divide between the different "branches" of Christians is interesting. I'm not talking denominations. I can kick it with Episcopals, Methodists, & Disciples alike. It's those darn conservative, Bible thumping, "I've got all the answers" variety that leave the taste of vomit in my mouth. And mine in theirs, to be fair.

A line from the book that I like: "I am convinced that Jesus didn't come to start a new religion; he came to proclaim a new kingdom." Kingdom. Lifestyle. Not this malarkey of my side, your side, my way, your way, my people, your people. The Kingdom. One Love. A new kingdom. Not the way of old, convenience, tradition, & just because. Maybe I should start telling people I'm down with the new kingdom instead of telling them I'm a Christian; I wonder what kind of crazy they'd think I am. lol.
Under practices, I opted to read the chapter on contemplative practices. Some that appealed to me are:
  • Spiritual Reading & Study (long been hard for me to practice with regularity but oh how I believe in it & its importance)
  • Practicing God's Presence: Learning to be aware of God as constant companion, staying in constant contact with God, living with one's spiritual windows and doors open to God (I call this a good day)                          
  • Contemplative Prayer: Practicing a kind of prayer that culminates in silent attentiveness to God, a prayer that is about listening and receiving rather than speaking & expressing (admittely, I don't usually want to hear what God is ready to say.)
  • Holy Days & Seasons: Observing special days and seasons that interupt the normalcy and regularity of daily life with intensity. These special days or seasons stimulate the remembering of special events or meanings and provide members of a faith community with a special encouragement to engage in specified practices. 
  • Meditation & Memorization: Holding a truth in the mind through nonanxious concentration so that it can be savored and rooted deeply and accessible to memory in the stress and struggle of daily life
The final chapter I read was also profoundly meaningful for me. "Katharsis (Via Purgativa)"  Pride (a preoccupation with oneself and one's power), Lust (pleasure in general, as well as sexual pleasure), & Greed (money & possessions) obstruct light from entering the soul. I started thinking about how much of my life can fall under pride, lust, or greed-- buying a house, finding "that" relationship, building sufficient savings, being successful, et cetera. Not "bad" stuff but prideful, lustful, greedy stuff. When you strip away things of pride, lust, and greed what's left? Seeking and squinting, I saw things that were beautiful. Relationship (non-sexual, obviously, like family), spirituality. It's amazing how beautiful life and the world is when you strip it away of pride, greed, and lust, as in trying to be bigger, "better," faster, more. Clarity. God. Goddess. Peace.

The glimmers of light, joy, & peace I got when skimming the book are the reasons I will present it as a possibility when the time comes. The notable drawback was obvious in chapter 1 when the author references writing like 3 other books to actually talk about the ancient practices. At that point, I was afraid he wasn't actually going to talk about the practices in the sense of "how to". It is true he doesn't go in depth but I got glimmers of more life and that's a start. Namaste & Blessed be.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

book selection/review

This morning, I used amazon to read excerpts from Becoming a Thinking Christian.... by John B. Cobb Jr. Seems to be a very discussion rich book but lacks purpose beyond getting one to think about his or her own beliefs. Reviewing it with "Beloved Community" (name not final) in mind, I feel that I could just generate a list of topics and say "tell me your thoughts" and be about as effective. I suspect a great benefit in this book is that most people do not sit around and discuss those topics. It can spearhead a conversation and has historical tid bits to help explain how we got to where we are with various thoughts on a given subject. But no, this is not a book that I will suggest at any upcoming book selection discussion. Also, it did help me realize how long it may take this group to get through any one book. I can imagine quite a lengthy conversation from any one chapter I read in Cobb's book. No way to get through 3 chapters in one sitting. The process will emerge.

At home, I scanned a couple of books on hand:
1. Secrets to Exceptional Living by Joyce Meyer-- I read this book during my high school or undergraduate days. I enjoyed it. Stills seems to be something worth reading. Nurturing the fruits of the spirit is good, Christian or not.
2. Knowing God Intimately: Being as Close to Him as You Want to Be by Joyce Meyer  Never read this but willing to. I tend to like J Meyer; it's one of my biases
3. The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan: I'd love to read and discuss this book in the spring-- Easter season. Not recommending it for a winter book. In part, my interest is the author Marcus Borg. In part, the person that originally gave and recommended the book. 
4. The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey-- not a book I will recommend using in its entirety. Each chapter focuses on a given chapter of the Bible. It could be of use if we ever choose to read one of the book reviewed. 

Next, I think I'll check to see which books my local library owns. Having these books in hand may be easier for thorough search and review. Sometimes, I think God lets me view/hear things online that I shouldn't have access to. This morning, I was amazed by how much of Cobb's books I could read on amazon. It asked me to consider buying the book but never ended how many pages I could review. Blessed be.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Beloved Community

Beloved Community of Faith seeks to be a diverse, spiritual community composed of people of various races, genders, sexual orientations, educational levels, financial statuses, and physical abilities. We seek to grow together through spiritually enriching activities such as book readings, Bible studies, devotionals, conversations about social and economic justice, examining how everyday choices are a reflection of our faith decisions, and through service opportunities. Beloved Community of Faith is a group of loving individuals that welcomes everyone to show up where they are, recognizing that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

Beloved Community of Faith questions, "where does faith intersect with real life responsibility?" Conversation pieces may question:
To what extent, as a person of faith, am I responsible for "giving back to my community"?
Does faith imply that we are to be politically active or politically absent?
To Spotify or not? Purchase or pirate? Download or go to the store?
Do I have a responsibility to buy or drink fair trade coffee?
Am I responsible for taking care of the environment?
Should my faith influence where I shop or what products I buy?
What does God really ask of me & when is enough finally enough?!

Some changes have occurred to the above statement over the past week but have since been discarded apparently... and then reimplemented. For example, differing educational levels-- it occurs to me that one must have a certain level of intelligence to appropriately interact with this group. But, intelligence does not equal educational level; the stmt stays. I thought about the financial status coming across as weird but eh, why not. And it's true. Plus, the statement of diversity comes out fairly weak if it just says we want ppl of various races, genders, & sexual orientations. I did eliminate a statement I felt focused on the individual more than the group since the rest of the statements were about the group's identity.

My resolve hasn't really weakened since my original post but there are glimmers of fear. Shaking up the status quo is never well-received. I do believe my Memphis predominately black open & affirming faith group stopped meeting due to fear... but I don't know that active threats were made. We have Phoenix Christian Church in Wildersville--it's an actual church whereas this is not. And there's a good chance that no one will come. But there's that inkling. I think it is why I did not work on this group's development over the weekend and the reason I am hesitating even tonight.

I keep forgetting to call places to inquire about meeting space. Also, I am incredibly busy and a bit behind at work. But breaks are needed, business can be done. We'll see about tomorrow.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

migraine tracking

When I went to the doctor's on Thursday, I had a migraine. I didn't go there because of my migraine; my appointment and the blasted migraine just happened to occur on the same day. My doctor asked when I last had a migraine and the honest answer was I don't know. I tend to track it in my blog and hadn't looked to see. We concluded that I went at least 2 months without a migraine, a vast improvement from when I had a headache at least 5 out of 7 days for about a month. My doctor informed me that those headaches may have also been migraines, just smaller ones. She said there are actually 3 types of migraines but most people only refer to the worse/biggest ones as migraines. This migraine started Wednesday evening. I blew it off, took Execedrin migraine and went swimming. Did okay at the pool. Didn't get worse, just didn't get better. There was one spot with too much light but other than standing there, it went okay. Wednesday night, vomiting. Thursday, felt horrible but did my norm of pushing myself to go into work with the agreement to work a half-day or stay depending on how it went once I got there. Extremely busy. Stayed all day. Friday morning, couldn't get out of the bed to go to my morning training that I sincerely wanted to attend. Slept about 18 hours on Friday. Today, I finally feel better, though not healed. Today, finally, my symptoms are relatively controlled as long as I take imitrix every 5 hours and don't sit too much under overhead light. Not eating seems like a great way to keep the food down so that's mostly been my strategy these past few days. Bread works well. Noodles. Tried rice tonight but didn't get very far. Popsiclea okay; yea. Ice cream is horrible. I canceled my trip to Memphis for the weekend due to not feeling well. What's the point of driving there just to lay around? It's possible that my food allergy triggered this one. I dined in at a Chinese place ad felt some reactions kicking up. Benadryll kept it from getting bad. So, here's my migraine tracking and a prayer to have it all end rly soon. Tomorrow?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

fictious group planning

The name? Beloved Community Faith Group & Beloved Community of Faith are the current top contenders in my head right now. Other ideas have been Community of Hope-- the day after being inspired with "beloved" I noticed we have a Communities of Hope Church in Jackson; don't rly want to be confused for them. Community of Faith-- okay... Hesitant to be "of faith" 'cause I want so many ppl to feel welcomed in this group and some people may not be "in faith" yet. Also, sounds very generic. At the same time, I want the type of grp to be somewhat obvious in the name. Beloved Community Spirit Group? Beloved Community Spiritual Group? I think of it as a spiritual journey, a faith walk. Beloved because all are welcomed, all are loved. God does not choose and exclude, only mankind. I've also thought about something along the lines of Spirit Quest to honor the idea of the journey and coming from a place of spiritual thirst for me.

Of bigger issue, imo, is the description. I don't know what phrase to use to tell people what this group is. "Bible Study" is not fitting. But jotting down key words while at the doctor's last week, an appropriate statement to put on the meetup page's description began to form. Working with that idea:

[Group name] seeks to be a diverse, spiritual community composed of people of various races, genders, sexual orientations, educational levels, financial statuses, and physical abilities. Our desire is to support one another in our individual spiritual journeys. We seek to grow together through spiritually enriching activities such as book readings, Bible studies, devotionals, conversations about social and economic justice, discussions examining how everyday choices are a reflection of our faith decisions, and through service opportunities. [Group name] is a group of loving individuals that welcomes everyone to show up where they are, recognizing that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

[Group name] questions, "where does faith intersect with real life responsibility?" Conversation pieces may question:
To what extent, as a person of faith, am I responsible for "giving back to my community"?
Does faith imply that we are to be politically active or politically absent?
To Spotify or not?
Purchase or pirate? Download or go to the store?
Do I have a responsibility to buy or drink fair trade coffee?
Am I responsible for taking care of the environment?
Should my faith influence where I shop or what products I buy?
What does God really ask of me & when is enough finally enough?!

I'd especially like some feedback on the first paragraph.  Feel free to share your thoughts on the description thus far-- positive, negative, what stands out to you?

Location, location, location? Where shall this group meet? I think frequency should be determined by the group-- weekly or biweekly? One concern I have on location is cost. I don't think it'd be outrageous to collect money to help with room fees or meetup fees as is where this group will begin. I also don't want to pay $50 per meeting to sit somewhere. There are free locations-- coffee shops, restaurants-- but those places lack privacy and I want everyone to be comfortable to share and discuss. I wonder what community centers Jackson has... An Internet search suggests that Westwood Rec, Northside Lions Community Center, and T.R. White Sportsplex are the only ones with meeting space. Some places to call and inquire about availability include:
1. Westwood Rec Center   Their website says meeting space is free to non-profits. Lord knows I'm not trying to make money from this group but I'm also not trying to file for a 501c3. I'll call to see what they'll charge for this.
2. University of Memphis, Lambuth surely has meeting space. Might cost more than the Rec Center though.
        * Wow! I think I just discovered they have a free planetarium:
3. The Lift is our new, fancy gym. I suspect their meeting space reservation is pricy. Or maybe I was thinking of the Jackson Walk in general instead of the Lift Center specifically. Either way, looking at their website I don't think it'd be a good fit.
4. Northside Lions Community Center. "spaces for rent" (731) 425-8386
5. Library (free! :))

Last night at the Jackson Social Meetup, I met a lady that is very interested in helping to get this group going... maybe. I told her I planned to write out some ideas today and would e-mail them to her. We'll see how that goes. She is my inspiration for adding "Service opportunities" to the statement.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

potential reads-- spiritually left

I am thinking of using meetup to start a non-church affiliated, lgbt & other folks affirming, Christian thought meeting group, mostly because the churches here aren't where I want to be. Or the Christian churches other places for the most part. I'm skipping some of the more important issues questions to ask myself, if I do start this group, what will we read?

I was just reading reviews of Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott. I started with the 2-star reviews; maybe that was a bad place to start. First, I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't buy this one; library only. Then I thought, hey! maybe this is a book to consider for that fictitious group.

I think of going to Lifeway to browse their selection in hopes of ideas but the idea of going there excites me about as much as going to a KKK rally or large southern Baptist church, things second only to visiting Westboro Baptist Church.

So here's the beginning of my list of book ideas:
1. Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott
2. Becoming a Thinking Christian: If We Want Church Renewal, We Will Have to Renew Thinking in the Church by John Cobb Jr.
3. Progressive Christians Speak: A Different Voice on Faith and Politics, Edited by John B. Cobb Jr. 
4.Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense. Francis Spufford by

12. If the Church Were Christian  Rediscovering the Values of Jesus  by Philip Gulley
13. Reimagining Christianity Reconnect Your Spirit Without Disconnecting Your Mind by Alan Jones
14. Finding Our Way Again The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren- yes
15. The Soul's Religion Cultivating a Profoundly Spiritual Way of Life by Moore
16. Knowing God Intimately: Being as Close to Him as You Want to Be by Joyce Meyer- possibly
17. Secrets to exceptional living- by Joyce Meyer- possibly
18. A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
19. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
20. the Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey-- only as part of a Bible Study
21. How to Listen to God by Charles Stanley
22. The Last Week by Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan-- Easter season
23. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit 
24. The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

Got any other suggestions for a Christian-leaning group of progressives that meet at a local winery when the weather is nice? lol. My list turned out to be a lot longer than I expected. The last 7 titles are on my bookshelf. Most of the others are books I came across from an Internet search. In the end, I'll probably pick a random bunch to investigate and take those to the first meeting. The others are still listed here and may be selected later.

Maybe for myself

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

practice test 1

I finally finished that practice test from a few weeks ago. Results are in and.... I passed (from what I hear. I haven't bothered to check official sources). I made a 73 on the test 1. 70 is required to pass. That's encouraging as I begin to work towards this test I feel all kinds of ways unprepared to take and a license I feel oh so unqualified to bear. There are parts of the test where I feel grossly inadequate and they reinforce the idea that I don't have LCSW training. Then there were pages were all of my answers were correct. In the end, I squeaked by. I'd like to pop an 80 on practice tests before the real deal and have a good 5 months to get there. Easy!  (?) 

I've decided to ditch the DSM in round II of studying and focus instead on my abnormal psychology book. 2 out of 2 LCSW's agree that the textbook will probably be enough. I wish I had my human development book but will seek one to borrow at some point since I don't.

I can do this.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

another break up

* Full entry posted in livejournal. Sometimes, I just feel weird about all public content. Also feel weird about going to LJ as a primary posting spot. *

My heart aches, even as I know I asked her to leave.  I knew that change would be difficult, be sad, but I didn’t expect it to be so numbing. Words from loved ones have been reassuring but also a little embarrassing. I gave her a lot of time and patience because she asked me to. She said things would get better. She would change. She never had anyone to teach her before and she wanted to learn.  Now I question if it was largely a game to see how advantageous I could be for how long. 

I’ve come to a point where I think over relationships and question what things I can learn. I think I’m getting old, like my next serious relationship has to be the one or it’s over. Hahahahahahaha, right? Anyhow, lessons learned include:
11.       If you hear someone trying to borrow money from someone on your first date, run. Avoiding overhearing this early in the relationship is probably best.
22.      If you finding yourself saying, “our values are different” early on, walk away. Striving to find common ground or reasoning that the differences aren’t really that important isn’t worth it. One thing said to me (by a human) during the period when God was reassuring me left & right that she wasn’t the one is that you can stay with someone whose values are different for a year, but not for 5 years. We almost hit a year when I knew beyond doubt that we weren’t going to work. 
44.       I may need to be tougher on the financial requirements. Not sure how that would look. My current stance is I’m looking for a mate that can pay his or her bills, take care of his/her needs, and have $30 left each month to take me on a date. I think it’s pretty simple but multiple suitors have struck out on this requirement. So maybe I just need to do a better job of checking this requirement.
55.       There are some people with whom I instantly click. Our first conversation can easily be two, engaging hours. If this doesn’t happen with my date, two dates max should be allowed. I suspect the one I can spend forever with will be such a person. I don’t think it’ll be someone I have to get used to and get to know. I think they’ll intrigue me from the start. Maybe I’m intrigued because they’re a Gemini and not because we’re meant to be together but intrigue is a good start.
76.       People aren’t logical and methodical. Trying to end a relationship but be friendly is a challenge that usually isn’t accomplished in my experience. I do wonder if this is more problematic with black women than white women but even my friendship with Cindi ended over time.  I need to move forward with awareness that most people are going to act on emotion instead of logic so me trying to be reasonable, kind, and patient may not really be the best method since it’s not a solo project or experience. 

I don’t really regret letting her move in. I can see why some ppl might think I would or should but I don’t. I don’t know if it’s because I felt sincerely loved or because of some experience we had together. Maybe I just loved the frustrations—lol- but I doubt that. It could be because of the extent to which I opened myself up for this relationship. Maybe I needed to do that. I don’t regret August 2012 (move in). May 2012 (first date) maybe because using my “lessons learned” back then wouldn’t have allowed us to advance to this level. June & July 2013 maybe because I’d allowed some things to go on longer than kindness requires at that point. In retrospect, I realize that I didn’t help her by allowing her not to own up to some of her responsibilities. I question how much damage I did to myself by allowing it but know that no long term damage was sustained (I don’t think). I was more generous than I had to be and I’m grateful to myself for being that loving. Love in vein but loving nonetheless. 

I’m beginning to forgive. When I think about the essence of lying and the potential abyss of things I don’t know, disease grows. But when looking only at what is seen, I am okay. She packed and left without informing me she was going to move at that time. But she didn’t steal my stuff. She didn’t destroy anything. Thus far, to my knowledge, she hasn’t done anything strange online. All of these things can change but for now, nothing unforgiveable has occurred. Love, Peace.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

the beginning of the study exercises

Tonight was my first night preparing for the LCSW exam... or my 2nd. You saw those posts. To get started, I thought I'd take a practice test to get a feel for what kind of questions I may see. Not too bad for someone that feels totally ill-prepared for what I am embarking upon. I took almost no clinical classes but soon I will be licensed as such. My prep wasn't formal or timed but I did make it through 33 practice questions. I decided to stop there so I could read the answers while the questions and my reasonings were fresh in my mind. 22/33 correct (66.7%). Of those missed:
6 were diagnostic/definitions-- not surprising as I know I don't know that stuff. That's why I've selected the DSM as my main study text. I'm debating on rather or not I want to reread my abnormal psychology book. Plus: it'll be simpler to read than the DSM. Con: it will have the same basic information as the DSM; perhaps I should spend my time elsewhere to get more varied information. Maybe I should read both but not read about the same topic in both books. For example, study personality disorders in the DSM but psychotic disorders in the abnormal psych book.
2 were general questions about the DSM, such as how it is organized.
1 was a question about medication. The question looked at the class of medication. When I read the explanation and saw what was listed as examples, I knew the right answer.
1 was an example of me being tricked by the wording. Part of what I hope to learn from practice tests is to be a careful reader and not get tricked out of correctly answering things I know. One missed. I focused on the wrong part of the question and probably answered a different question correctly (i.e., the one I was answering when marking my response). 
1 I classify as other/unknown. I still don't know what it's talking about.

The practice test has 150 questions. Seems like I'll be doing a cold practice for a while before really getting into the studying. Current status: assessing where I am and gleaning what type of materials need to be studied. Note to self: Read the NASW ethics book before taking this test. 

Any ideas of how I can exercise while sitting and studying? lol


Monday, July 8, 2013

getting my game head on

more tips....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tips for Passing

I passed the exam on 4/16/08 on my first try. I have never studied so hard for an exam in my entire life. Luckily, it paid off! Following are the best tips I can offer to help you pass...

[1] Know yourself and how you study best.
I am a procrastinator by nature, and never wrote a college or graduate school paper until two days before it was due, no matter how far in advance I knew about the assignment. I purposefully scheduled my licensure exam to take place one week after I scheduled it. I scheduled the exam on a Friday for the following week. I knew that if I had done it any other way I would not have taken the time to study until the last minute. Be honest with yourself about your study habits. I've been out of school for several years, but remember well typing papers well into the morning.

[2] Use study guides.
I did not take the licensure exam prep class, but I know several people who did, and who were very nice in sharing the workbook that came with the class. This workbook is the veritable bible of the licensure exam. It has everything you need to know for the exam, plus practice tests. I know several people who have found the prep course helpful. Use case study books, the DSM, NASW Code of Ethics, CBT manuals, etc. These are your study guides. The exam will measure your knowledge of this material and your ability to apply it to brief case studies.

[3] Take several practice exams.
This was helpful to me for many reasons. First, it familiarized me with the type and format of questions that could appear on the actual exam. I have severe test anxiety, and knowing what to expect was very helpful.
Another purpose it served was to help me see in which areas I needed to focus more.

[4] Make flash cards.
I have never in my life done this before, but it helped!!! I made the cards while taking the practice exams. Whenever I would get an answer wrong, I would make a flash card out of it. These were a great review the morning of the exam.

[5] Know what to do FIRST/NEXT.
Knowing what to do FIRST or NEXT will make the difference in passing the exam.

[6] Read the question.
Slowly and carefully. Know what the question is asking. Pay attention to the first and last sentences in the case study; often the answer is within those two sentences. Look at the answers carefully. The answer is most likely within the question or case study. Look for similar wording. This could also be the difference in passing the exam.

As you will hear countless people tell you, this exam does not measure how good of a social worker you are. It also does not measure what you might actually do in practice.

starting to think about what i need to know


5 tips for passing the exam

Reaching the point of taking the LCSW exam is a mixed blessing at best. It means that you have met the requisite hours of practice and supervision, which is a testament to your tenacity and clinical abilities. It also means that a new chapter of studying and anxiety is opened as you prepare to add four new letters behind your name and take a timed test that covers a broad range of topics.
From time to time I will receive emails from people who are preparing to take the exam or who have taken it and not passed. Inevitably, these emails include some request for advice about how to study or prepare for the exam. So, I thought I would cull the advice I have given over the past year or two into one post.
I am not doing this so that you will no longer email me. I do the best I can to respond to each one that I receive. I also know that I will not cover every anxiety or frustration with one post, but for those who like lists and things in a neat little package here are my tips for passing the exam.
  1. Think about the way you study best and do that more often. There are a myriad of materials out there to help you prepare for the exams. These range from practice exams to study guides to study guides with practice exams, etc. Most, if not all, of these guides are dry as a bone and merely regurgitate the material you need to know to pass the exam. They have their formulas for getting the material across to you. However, they do not know you best, you do. So, take the materials you choose to study and adapt them to the ways in which you learn. For me, this blog is the result of the way I learn. I needed to re-write the material I was studying in my own words in order to really get a grasp on it. Instead of a pen and paper I took to my laptop and wrote a series of notes that became my study guide. All of the posts on this blog concerning the theories and methods were the result of my homemade study guide. So, think about the ways you learn: flashcards, quizzes, study groups, putting things in your own words, etc. and adapt the study guides to your taste not vice versa.
  2. The exam doesn't care how you practice social work. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn and it took me a while to really grasp its meaning. My impression of the exam is that it does not measure real world application of Social Work principles and guidelines; instead, it measures "ideal" (read textbook) applications of these principles. One of the helpful things I took into the exam was a sense that I needed to reframe the questions so that my answers reflected not what I would do first but what "the book" would do first. Therefore, when I encountered a "what would you do first" question I could usually eliminate two of the responses right off the bat. Then I would generally choose the more conservative response from the remaining choices. This may not work for all of these questions but it helped me get into a frame of mind that had me answering questions as the book would want me to answer them rather than the way I think the questions should be answered.
  3. The exam measures your ability to remember data. This is not an exam that measures the efficacy of your practice or your ability to help people in a way that empowers them. This exam measures your skills at memorization. Now, I realize this is a fairly cynical view of a standardized test. However, I cannot think of another way to put it. The national exam was created as a method to take the subjectivity of licensure committees out of the process and have an "objective" tool that measures knowledge of social work practice and principles. If you don't pass the first time around, it says absolutely nothing about how good a social worker you are. The only thing a failing score reveals is that you might need more time memorizing the material and putting it to use the way the test wants you to.
  4. The exam is not always "right." The earlier you give up fighting the questions and their "right" answers, the earlier you can get on with studying the material as needed. I remember studying for the exam and talking with my supervisor about some of the questions and answers. He and I would read some of the questions and talk about how we would answer them given the choices on the test. In each one of these Q&A sessions there would be one or two questions that we would agree on that the test would count as wrong. He had his doctorate in social work and was a successful private practitioner for many years and he still couldn't always get the right answers according to the test. You have to remember that the correct answer for the test may not be your way of answering the question, but it is still the correct answer. Unfortunately, you will not get very far by arguing with the computer over which "answer" you should perform first in a particular situation. Instead, study for the purpose of the exam and remember that the real world is a lot messier than answer A, B, C, or D.
  5. You have already passed. Remember that the exam is merely the culmination of a long road of clinical practice and supervision. To get to this point in your career you have most likely been through 100 hours of supervision and thousands of hours of clinical practice. Your supervisor has signed off on your capabilities as a social work practitioner. People have come to you for therapeutic help and returned again and again because they believe you can help them. All in all, to get to the point where you can even take the test requires the implicit and explicit approval of a number of people in your life. They know you are a good social worker, regardless of the outcome of your exam. The LCSW exam does not prove that you are a good social worker, that you care about the self-determination of others, or that you stand for justice and provide a voice for the voiceless. Clients wouldn't return if you were a bad social worker, supervisors wouldn't sign the necessary forms if you weren't a good clinician. The fact of the matter is that you have a crowd of people who know that you are ready to take the exam and approve of your doing so. In essence, you have already passed the difficult part; the exam is more a formality than a gate-keeper.
So, there you have it. These five tips helped me put the exam in what I felt was the proper perspective. To be sure, I studied hard and often. However, I was not about to let the exam dictate how I felt about my abilities to practice as a clinical social worker. I merely thought of it as one more step on an already long and most completed journey, a step that affirmed what I already knew from experience. Namely, that I was a good social worker and that I could practice effectively, ethically and compassionately.