Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The needs of my friends

I haven't posted for a very long time. Today I just want to post that life is good if I ignore the news, and the needs of some of my friends. Life is good if I can keep from feeling the anxiety and overwhelm that seems to be part of my life in 2017.

I think I can get away with ignoring the news some days but not the real needs of my friends for food, housing, useful work and love. I'm big on being a listening ear, a person who can listen without telling them how to solve their problems. But I don't always have the time or skills to follow through on providing real assistance. In that case, can I really say I am big on love?

Today, I have three sets of friends in great need, a neighbor who is losing her SSI, a very capable single mother who can't find a job and housing, and a family with an undocumented person. They are all adults, all doing their best. Can I just go on listening? What would I want from them in the same situation?

Life is good but I get up every morning wondering how to say that when others are in great pain.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Coming back to religious education and wondering about perpetual volunteerism

The last few years have been ones of great change for me and the change keeps coming. But in the meantime, I find myself returning to my leading to facilitate religious education collaboration, to act with others to create the space and time to teach all ages about Quakerism. Thus much of my time these days is spent working with the QREC, Quaker Religious Education Collaborative, (www.quakers4re.org), as well as continuing work with QUIP, Quakers Uniting In Publications (www.quakerquip.org). Another completely volunteer group, you say? There is a special openness that comes with collaboration around our spiritual work when none of us is earning our living from the work. But then how do we approach supporting the work financially? And ourselves? I wonder what others think?

Monday, December 31, 2012

All Will Be Well

End of year 2012 Writing

This has been an unexpected year. Feels a bit like I have lost time and a bit like I have gained perspective/wisdom. A pretty good trade.

Also lost about 30lbs, a first for me. Gained a new perspective on my love for Terry as we both struggled with health issues and a new sense that our community in Austin will hold us up in times of difficulty. New technology makes life lighter and allowed more writing and communication, as well as more fun.

As I continue to struggle with constricting my commitments - saying yes only to the things that give me energy and joy - I find myself talking about it less but still feeling self pressured by the amount of work.

As I feel lighter and stronger and healthier, I still struggle with sleeping and eating habits. On the other hand I am more relaxed. I recognize a bit of manic in me, planning big and not coming through because I can't make it perfect.

As I sit here quietly, though, I find myself full of joy and gratitude at being alive, relatively healthy, and looking forward to 2013 with more renewed energy than I thought. I've often felt I waste a great deal of time compared to others, that my preparation for doing good is taking too long. Maybe that is just how it is for me and I need to remember that when I take the time, I can be present to be a force for good.

As the year closes and I make my list of what must still be done today, I'm reminded of the words of Julian of Norwich - "all will be well". Perhaps not in my lifetime but bit by bit, losing and gaining, slipping back and volting forward I believe peace on earth, love and good will among all its creatures, is possible and well worth the effort, especially as one friend among friends.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

End of Year

It's a time for remembering. This morning I read some of my journals from past years. I started writing a journal in 1966 when I was 19 and studying in Greece. I filled pages with the angst of not having a lover - something I did over and over again as relationships waxed and waned - but also with discoveries about myself. It was that year that I determined I wanted to spend my life educating for peace and justice. Guess what, I mostly have have had the privilege of doing that and I'm not done yet. My writing grows out of my need to communicate the need to love one another, see that of the Spirit in one another. I am full of stories about people who have done that.

So 2012 I will take more time to write, tell stories, educate toward a sustainable, human world. At 19 I thought we would have succeeded in that task long ago. It seemed attainable - just change the system. At 64 I know it doesn't work like that. It's a slow process. One heart and mind at a time.

I just finished our holiday letter - have yet to send it out to all those lovely people on my email list. You can see the letter and pictures by going to www.2quakers.net, our website, Terry and I, and clicking on the holiday letter and attachments. Pay particular attention to the "thinning" attachment. It's felt so good to eliminate tasks and responsibilities and free up more time for writing this year. And for reading old journals so that I can keep on keeping on educating for peace and justice.

And enjoy the poem about the meeting house our granddaughter Cassie wrote. She's only 11 but she's definitely a peace and justice educator already.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What's New?

I haven't posted since this time last year. I will post something significant soon. All is well with those close to me - the world keeps changing and not always for the better.

My new quote on my email says it all:

And learn but in quietness and stillness to retire… and wait upon the Spirit; in whom thou shalt feel peace and joy, in the midst of thy troubles from the cruel and vexatious spirit of this world.

~Isaac Pennington, 1675

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Highlights for Liz & Terry & Photos

Dear Family and Friends,

Terry and I send our greetings to you in this season for celebrating love and light. We hope this note finds you warm and snug and enjoying the holiday.

We are fortunate to have had some very good times in 2010: a wonderful visit from our son Sam’s family at the very start of the year; one day in the spring when Terry and I drove out to the Texas Hill Country into the wildflowers, a summer of Grandma Camp and family vacation in Massachusetts and Vermont and some time all year to be creative, I with my writing and Terry’s with his web work. I am going to try to post some pictures here or you can find them at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizyeats/.

just after swimming

on Vermont walks we found frogs in the stream most days

we picked a great many blueberries

Terry continues to work full time, thankfully for the same company as a computer consultant where he got some well earned recognition this year, but he is beginning to think longingly of retiring as soon as that is feasible, maybe three years from now. He continues to use his gifts and experience in web design in Quaker service for Friends Meeting of Austin and South Central Yearly Meeting. He just completed a new, really spiffy interface for the member’s portion of the FMA site. Sometimes he wishes he could disconnect from the world of technology and just sit in his chair reading philosophy, poetry, religion, and smarty pants thrillers, but then he realizes he likes writing computer software, just not all the things about working in the real world that surround it.

After years of trying to clear my commitments to spend more time writing, this year I began to spend some time most days spinning yarns on several different manuscripts. What will come of it all I don’t know, but it makes me happy. My service to FCNL and my monthly and yearly meeting continue. I enjoyed facilitating a second workshop on discernment at the FGC Gathering last summer. I got a new title for my volunteer position with Quakers Uniting in Publishing. I am now “administrative facilitator” which seems to fit what I do very well. I am still passionate about supporting written communication between Friends and hope to have energy to help promote Quaker publishing, print and electronic, for a long time to come.

Our older son, Arion, remains in Bangkok, Thailand, teaching kindergarten and traveling when he has a chance. We speak to him most Sunday mornings but we miss hugging him and wish we had the funds to bring him home for a visit.

Sam’s family grew this year with the addition of Stevie, a lively, friendly love bird who spends time out of his cage each day flying from one person to another, where he perches to groom himself and eat any paper he can find. Cassie (10) and Ari (7) are both great readers and with Brennon (5) they love creating stories, songs and plays. When I arrived this summer to help out with the children (while Pandora as she finished nursing school) all three children were collaborating on writing and videoing their own Star Wars saga, complete with creating characters by sewing orange worms with googly eyes and dressing them in paper costumes. At the end of the summer they performed their version of a Star Wars song that tells the whole story but they’re still in the midst of making the movie. The best news is that Pandora graduated nursing school and passed her boards. She will return to school to begin an MA this spring.

So many times this past year I found myself pondering how profoundly grateful I am for my life right now. My dream would be that everyone would feel the love and security of friends and family that I enjoy. I wish lots of you lived closer and I wish the world was not such an awful mess. I’ll continue to work for a more sustainable world with less violence for the rest of my life. More and more I realize that means breathing deeply and living life now while seeking to love and care for those that I touch.

We send you blessings for a wonderful 2011.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The New Busy

I just noticed this line at the bottom of a friend's email:

"The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail. Get busy."

I remember working 9 to 5. In fact I remember working much longer hours but I was lucky to be employed at jobs where I could really use my gifts and skills. The times when I worked 9 to 5 or more were a challenge, though, as they left very little time for family and friends outside the workplace. My spiritual life had to be fit in as well and I was often out of touch with the spirit.

There is so much wrong with our culture/society but that we can be convinced that working more than 8 hours a day is a positive, life fullfilling goal contradicts everything I know as truth. It leaves no time for relationship, for caring for others and oneself, for just doing nothing.

The best work year I ever had was one where I worked as a pre-school teacher. Everyone in the center worked 6 hours a day, the administrator, the curriculum head (who also taught) and all the teachers. We worked hard giving our full attention to whatever we were doing. Six hours with young children can be exhausting but we worked cooperatively, making sure each of us was not overburdened. We all got paid the same hourly rate and had the same benefits.

I can remember many more moments of joy from that year with little children than I can any other work year. There was time to really attend to the relationships at work and after work. I had energy each morning and a different but still centered energy before and after work. Even though I was a single parent and I struggled to arrive at work on time, especially on Wednesday when seconds could mean getting stuck behind the garbage truck,I succeeded in keeping my cool most days. It was a blessed year.

Later some of my years doing full time work in an office gave me the same sense of balance. I was free to set my own hours and often worked a 60 or 70 hour week but I made that choice.

I have lived a life of privilege. Should I feel guilty that I would rather go without "certain financial security" and "great accompishment" in order to live a balanced life?

More than 9 to 5 it is what is expected and demanded in most full time jobs. Even earning a basic living demands long hours. What happened to the 8 hour day?

My parents worked hard to organize unions to fight for the 8 hour work day. Where are our priorities? How can we let "the bosses" convince us that "The New Busy" is a good thing?