This world. This place. This life.


I’m still plugging through the WordPress Zero to Hero project with my buddies from the UU Blog Incubator, but most of the assignments have been behind the scenes.

Today I’m working on the assignment from Day 19: publish a post using a format you’ve never used before.

I’m playing with the quote format, and it will be interesting to see how it looks. I wish I’d thought to use it for yesterday’s post, which included an extended quote from a Facebook conversation.

Here’s a quote from fellow Zero to Hero Blogger and UU, Justin Almeida:

I’ve come to identify that “wisdom” is taking what I know, and letting that knowledge be guided by my heart. However, it’s not just a one way street. It’s also taking the passions of my spirit, and running those intense feelings and emotions through my rational mind. In all the decisions I’ve made that have been positive and constructive, I had taken the time to let my mind and spirit have a conversation about my actions.

I’ve just previewed this page, and it looks to me like the Yoko theme doesn’t do anything special with quote formats. A block quote still looks like it would in a standard format post. And I don’t like the way Yoko does block quotes. It uses a different font, and the text is larger. It doesn’t look good, IMO.

I suspect that if I purchased the upgrade that lets me play with fonts, I could fix this, but I’m not planning to do that. For now, what works is what I did yesterday: italicize the quote, and indent. This non-designer thinks that looks much better.

What do you all think? Do you agree? Disagree?


The sawdust in your eye

Today’s Daily Prompt asks, “Which vice or bad habit can you simply not abide in others?”

My first reaction was, “Oh, I can’t possibly write about that.”

I can’t possibly go on a rant about what drives me crazy about other people.

That’s not nice. And there’s the “people who live in glass houses” problem. Also known as the log in my own eye problem.

But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it might be fun to just let my inner curmudgeon loose.

So, without further ado, here’s the sawdust in your eye:

  • Loose dogs and their humans. It’s OK if you’re nearby. But leaving your dog out to roam the town all day and all night? Drives me batty.
  • Don’t get me started on people who feed loose dogs, habituating them to the places where I’m trying to walk Brady, while also carrying Willa.
  • While we’re talking about dogs, how about people who don’t pick up after their pets? I picked up dog poop when I was 9 months pregnant, and I still do when I’ve got twenty pounds of baby strapped to my chest. And you can’t bend over and scoop the poop?
  • Drunk people in general, but specifically the loud ones who walk past our windows at 2 a.m. when the bars close. Sometimes it’s really tiresome living in a drinking village with a skiing problem.

And that’s where I’ll stop, for now.

Because as I was writing the list, I realized that there was only so much I felt comfortable writing about publicly. General complaints, about people I don’t know, felt safe. But being specific? Talking about things that really bother me? That’s harder.

I had a really hard day on Monday, because I’ve been (as I tweeted) “Too long downwind of other people’s garbage; too long downstream of other people’s shit.”

But I can’t write the back story of that here. That’s the work of living in relationship, the work of neighborliness, the work of forgiveness balanced with the work of speaking my mind.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. . . .

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Luke 6:36-38, 41-42)


Zero to Hero, Day 13: Blogroll

Today’s Zero to Hero assignment is to build a better blogroll. I did some of that when I played with widgets and themes. The new theme’s right columns looked really cluttered (still does, a bit), so I created a page, just for links. I also trimmed the links list down to size.

The big news is that I’m thinking about creating a guide to UU blogs; my Feedly list of UU blogs is nearing 400, and people often ask who I follow.

The great Philocrites used to maintain a Guide to Unitarian Universalist Blogs, and UUpdates is a great place to follow most of the UU blogosphere. I’m hoping to recreate something like Philocrites’ list—clustered into types of blogs, with a short description of each one.

Don’t hold your breath, though. Most of my writing these days happens while Willa naps, or late at night.


Finding courage

Yesterday’s Zero to Hero assignment was to comment on three blogs; today’s assignment is to write a blog post based on one of those comments.

I’m still thinking about “Michael Sam’s Necessary Moment,” written by Holly Anderson on Grantland.  I keep thinking about this:

“Telling the world I’m gay is nothing,” Sam said, . . . comparing coming out to harrowing moments he experienced growing up—more moments of heartbreak than any one human being should have to shoulder.

I commented, “So often people find courage to do something daunting by having faced far worse.”

Since then I’ve been thinking about the hard things I’ve done that give me courage—and strength—to continue to make difficult but necessary choices.

Here are the highlights of my list:

  • Coming out to myself, and to my family
  • Becoming a minister—when I was raised to believe clergy were wrong, as were women in church leadership
  • Making the long journey from my childhood faith to life as a non-theist Unitarian Universalist
  • Moving to Alaska, and living here for almost nine years (and counting)
  • Choosing to recommit to ministry, and completing the long process of transferring from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the UUA
  • Giving birth to my first child, at age 42, without pain meds

Liesl and I have hard choices to make. Where do we want to live? What kind of work are we looking for? Does Liesl want to stay in aviation? What kind of ministry do I feel called to? And how do we factor Willa’s wellbeing into where we live and what we do for work?

It’s daunting to think about pulling up stakes and starting over. But it helps to remember what we’ve already done.


Zero to Hero, Day One

zero-to-hero-badgeFor the next month (with wiggle room for the realities of baby-parenting), I will participate in a Zero to Hero blogging workshop, coordinated by Christine Slocum for the UU Blog Incubator.
The first assignment is to write an intro post, answering these suggested questions.
  • Why are you blogging, rather than keeping a personal journal?

I want to write. Four hard words to say out loud. And that’s why I blog, rather than keeping a personal journal. Because the work I want to do is that difficult work of saying things out loud. Because too often I mosey through life, one day blurring into the next, failing to notice, failing to be present, failing to really live.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, and one of the things our congregations commit to is “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” I don’t think meaning is out there, waiting to be discovered. I think meaning is something we make. We work it out of the nooks and crannies of our minds, from the careful observation of lived experience. For me, that means writing.

And writing publicly keeps me accountable. With a blog out there for everyone to see, there’s a little voice that says, “Everyone can see that you haven’t written for a while.” And that motivates me.

I like who I am better when I’m writing. Maybe that’s the most important thing. Writing helps me pay attention to my life, and writing makes me like my life better. Win-win.

  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?

I write about the nitty-gritty of daily life. For the past year or so, I’ve written about being pregnant, and then about becoming a parent. I’m a reluctant Alaskan, so I write about the beauty of Girdwood, Alaska, the tiny ski town where I live; it helps me to hold on to the good parts of being here, when I’m struggling with the cold, dark and far of living in Alaska.

I write about Unitarian Universalism, sometimes. I’m a free-range UU minister—which is another way to say “unemployed.” So some of the energy I would pour into parish ministry finds its way into my blog.

  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

I’d love to connect with my neighbors—fellow Alaskans, fellow Girdwoodians. I’m already connected with other UU bloggers, but I’d love to be more intentional about that. And I’d love to use this blog as a way to connect with people—friends, family, neighbors—who might find, as I have, a spiritual home in Unitarian Universalism.

  • If you blog successfully throughout 2014, what would you hope to have accomplished?

I’d just like to be more consistent. Parenting takes a lot of my time and energy, as does my work editing The Interdependent Web for UU World magazine. In 2014 I’d like to pour more of my energy into my personal writing here on Nagoonberry.

I’ve learned that anything else is unpredictable. Good things happen when you just keep showing up. So I want to show up. Again, and again, and again.