Monthly Archives: May 2016

Ghosts in my Head

To take off from the last post… I went away and thought about it.

As I’m (finally) embracing my life-long dream of becoming an image consultant, suddenly I don’t feel a need to read books about finding yourself.  (Still reading books about going places and the wilderness).

D’you guys have any idea the amount of guilt I have laid on myself for taking up such a frivolous occupation as image consultant?

Let’s ignore the intellectual response, that I’m very good at what I (will) do, and that image consulting gives me an opportunity to meet and spend time with more people, which means I’ll have more opportunities to be Christ to more lives.  That there’s nothing intrinsically sinful about image consulting.  That this is my gift, and that beauty is important.  My spiritual gifts are counsel and exhortation… are you kidding me?  This is so right up my alley it’s not even funny.  I am going to bless people’s socks off.  (God willing.  🙂 )

Let’s talk viscera, and guilt.  I can find introspection in a bowl of soup, and I can find guilt in birdsong.   I swallow shoulds for breakfast.

I have always wanted to have a stereotypical crunchy Christian life.   Had I had the opportunity, I would have dived in.  And oh, my dear readers… I would have been a self-righteous piece of work if I’d been allowed to be.   The blockades to my fantasy life have come over and over and over.  And I feel guilty for letting the side down.  For letting “them” down, like there’s some committee somewhere that tells you what “real Christian women” ought to be doing with themselves.

I like digging and making compost piles and singing off key and dressing modestly and not worrying about my skin care regime.    I make a darn fine apple pie, too, and yes – I can render fat and operate a meat grinder and do basic wound care (I turn a bit green, but I can do it).   Obviously, I can sew.

But that’s not my life.  Not my opportunity.  And I need to let that go, finally and totally.  Yeah, maybe my husband will get a job someday in Idaho (or Tennessee 😉 )but probably not.   Maybe someday we’ll retire there.  But retirement is a long, long time away, and it’s time for me to move into being a different kind of helpmeet for my husband.  The kind, btw, that he’d always planned for me to be… now that our kids are older.  (While I’m addressing the Imaginary Greek Chorus, please note that I was told that we’d have two kids while we were still in HS, so you may take my fertility up with my husband, not me).

You know, it’s not evil to want to bless my husband’s socks off by bringing in some cash…

Beating myself up because the Greek chorus of “shoulds” in the back of my head doesn’t think that being an image consultant in SoCal is explicitly “Christian” enough is a waste of my energy and of whatever years God has given me on this earth.  I’m being a poor steward, and allowing condemnation the place of conviction.

So help me out – if any of  you want to tell me this is unScriptural, say it out loud and proud so I don’t have to look behind my back.  I’m pretty sure what’s back there is just ghosts… but if I’m wrong, come ’round where I can see you, okay?  😀  (I know I’m silly.  This is usually where my husband pats me on my head and tells me that I’m a gooood gurururl).

Nobody, and I mean nobody, gets to tell me how to live my life but God and my husband.  Maybe it’s time I listened to myself when I say that… instead of listening to the ghosts in my head.

The hungers that shape us

Hunger shapes us and we shape it.

Elspeth has been having a good chat about what books we don’t read, and why.

First, why do you read?  What hunger inside you is fed by words on a page?  (There are probably several).

When we talk about watching what we and our children read, I think back to my misspent youth and those hungers and the books the hungers found, and the books that fed new hungers.  After the waves of inappropriate reading receded (largely because I had a life, I wasn’t hunger incarnate, aka a young teenager), I would reliably read the same sort of book… until quite recently, which has made my reading habits a bit confused.

Mostly I read books about finding yourself and having adventures, with some romance thrown in the bargain.  There seems to be a never-ending pile of books for that!   I never could get hooked on romance minus adventure – my hunger included the hunger of doing things.  Adventure minus romance was sometimes okay, sometimes not.  (One of the things I read for is to immerse myself, so if I don’t like the protagonist, or there’s no getting into his/her head, forget it.  I’ll skip the pure plot works, thanks).   Since I live in the books, happy endings are mandatory.

Finding yourself… doing things… finding love…

All of that is still fine, but the books I want to read have established characters, who know who they are but are finding new things out about themselves or the world.  Not nearly as many books about *that*.  (Especially with characters I can bear to have live in my head).   And I have found out that I really enjoy a good travelogue.  Observing the world around you and finding out new things about it.  I’m still going places in my imagination… I just don’t have to have dragons to slay.  A journey will suffice.   I hunger for adventure, and for the wild.

Good, true, observations please me now.  I just started this book, and this paragraph describes how I substitute the beach for true wilderness, even though the author is speaking of beaches on the other side of the globe.

The sea defines us, connects us, separates us.  Most of us experience only its edges, our available wilderness on a crowded island – it’s why we call our coastal towns ‘resorts’, despite their air of decay.   And although it seems constant, it is never the same.  One day the shore will be swept clean, the next covered by weed, the shingle itself rises and falls.  Perpetually renewing and destroying, the sea proposes a beginning and an ending, an alternative to our landlocked state, an existence to which we are tethered when we might rather be set free.  (The Sea Inside – Philip Hoare)

So.  When I find books that give me truth, I cherish them.  When I read books that entertain me and give me an afternoon away from myself, I enjoy them.  When I find that the book that I’ve enjoyed has slipped behind my back and fed a hunger that hurts me in some way, I remove it from my life.  And those books that I know will feed hungers or moods that harm me, I never pick up.

Feeding yourself, whether it be food or drink or words, should be a matter of honesty with oneself.