Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Weekend in Austin: Part Two-South Congress

I am feeling a little under the weather this evening. I found out yesterday I have a calcification, or "stone" in one of the salivary gland/tube like structures that leads to the duct in my cheek. The site on my cheek became very inflammed and I had no idea why. I didn't remember biting myself or burning myself so I was really at a loss. As the days passed I started feeling worse! My cheek was sore, the area around it was raw, my ear hurt and burned, my throat hurt, my teeth hurt, my gums hurt, my head hurt! It was just uncomfortable to talk! Thank goodness for my parent's neighbor, Jim Burke, a professor of dentistry who saw me Sunday morning at his house and encouraged me to see my dentist if I didn't feel better soon. I visited my dentist's office...without an appointment....and he suspected I had a stone. He took some x-rays and sure enough you could see the stone clearly! He said it would pass...just like a kidney stone...but prescribed me Amoxicillin for the infection. I asked him if I could have the pink, liquid, refrigerated version from my childhood. He laughed and asked if I wanted graham crackers and chocolate milk, too! (I got it in pill form. Sad, sigh!) My mouth feels better today but I feel the "cold like" symptoms have persisted. And to top it off.....I turned my ankle today three times! Twice was one step after another. Very odd. And yes....friends....it is the foot I can't really feel! Yikes...scary stuff. Tomorrow....NO HEELS! So...let my story be a cautionary tale...if you don't remember biting yourself and you have an odd inflammation inside your cheek do not blow it off and be careful in heels! Now....Austin Part Two as promised.

The following day Ciara and I woke up early and attended a service at her church, First United Methodist Church of Austin. The church is situated downtown and the building is historic. It is beautiful and hearkens back to a time when a church resembled a theater of sorts. It is surrounded by simple, understated stained glass windows and origami birds hang from the ceiling. They each have a prayer request written on them by church members and will be up for the rest of the Easter season. The pastor is the same pastor who married Ciara and Ryan. (Apparently he was the pastor of Alamo Heights United Methodist Church for a number of years before moving to Austin.) His message was simple…he reminded us that not only are we the face of Christ but we also reflect Christ back onto others…much like a mirror. He simply asked, “Do you really look like your picture?” He left us both with a lot to consider and we discussed his sermon from the church to lunch. Our friend, Jen, met us for lunch at Guero’s on South Congress. (My fish tacos on whole wheat tortillas were OUT OF THIS WORLD!) I always enjoy eating there. It reminds me I am in the heart of Austin and I can feel the city’s vibe….

My celebration today is the conversation Ciara, Jen and I had at lunch. It was one of the most open, vulnerable, real conversations I have participated in for a very long while. A lot of poignant, relevant, difficult questions were asked and very real, human, candid, emotional answers were given. Each one of us focused on something that has recently transpired in our lives. Some of the topics were more serious than others…but all were very palpable, charged, adult situations that we could have never anticipated when we first met over 15 years ago. I marveled at how far each of us has come and some of the life experiences Jen and Ciara have accumulated as adults. They are both incredibly strong women who have dealt with deep, sorrowful loss and have also experienced some of life’s ultimate joys. Ciara reminded us that sometimes an individual can become so angry with God (or whatever higher force you wish to subscribe to) for things that do or do not happen in life. She reminded us that we can spend a very long time in that place. However she said it is easy to forget God is also saddened by our trials. Much like an earthbound parent, sometimes there is little God can do other than to shake his head in sadness and desperation for the tribulations His children are subjected to…sometimes through absolutely no fault of their own. Her thoughts reminded me VERY much of a passage I read in a book (YEARS AGO) called Coming Down the Mountain. It was given to me after I made my first ACTS retreat and is often suggested to “retreatants” immediately upon their first day back in the “real world” after completing their ACTS or Emmaus journey. It was the story of a woman who had experienced deep trauma during her childhood and held onto her anger with fierce intensity for many, many years. The realization was that God didn’t “allow this to happen to her,” rather he hung his head in sadness at the fact that another one of His children could harm her in such an abhorrent way. She realized God could offer to carry her, and probably had been carrying her, through her anger and pain…and in the end that was comfort enough for her. She was able to release her anger and resentment and move forward in her journey to know Christ. Of the 6 weeks worth of daily reflections offered in that book….this story is THE ONE and ONLY that has consistently resonated with me and the only one I honestly remember. Sorry for the tangent….back to my original celebration….I celebrate my wonderful lunch with two very dear friends who have known me a very long time! I am so blessed to count you both among my friends. You are both solid, strong, bold, courageous women. I can’t wait to see where we all are after another 15 years! Undoubtedly we will still be meeting up at Guero’s for fish tacos on a Sunday morning after church. (Ella will be graduating from high school in 15 years time! Goodness…)

What I am lovin’ right now is these photos Ciara captured. After lunch Ciara and I walked around South Congress shopping at some of the unique and eclectic shops and boutiques. In addition to shops, restaurants, hotels and live music venues, quite a few vintage RVs now dot the landscape. Each one serves a different food item and are generally decorated to advertise their goods. For example one RV had a huge cupcake on it, the other had a large sign that read, “Flavored Popcorn,” etc. As you all know I have a deep fascination and appreciation for Airstreams! I want to own one so badly! I don’t know what it is….my eye just loves the aesthetic value…and my spirit likes what they represent. (I am certainly not a camp-y type of a girl….but I could definitely criss-cross the nation in one of these…re-imagined and re-invented, of course! The inspirations are a hula girl lamp, oil cloth covered metal chairs, aqua and yellow paint and big, bold floral patterns....with the requisite pink flamingos and vintage bar-b-que out front!) Imagine my excitement when we happened upon this Airstream selling crepes. (Funny something so French vended from something so American.) Ciara asked if I wanted a picture with the Airstream. I shrieked in delight and was like a kid in a candy store. We didn’t even realize another iconic American figure lurked in the foreground of the picture….old Coca-Cola bottles. Ciara took a photography class in college and I was her model (I use that term VERY loosely). Little has changed all these years later. I am still posing for her black and whites!

Today I needed to pick up a new journal. I intended to stop into the book store, pick up a journal and be out within minutes. I have to embarrassingly admit to my annoyance at the short, but painfully slow, line at the check out counter. As I waited, silently seething, I noticed my favorite magnet line prominently displayed next to the entrance to the check out counter. The line is called Quotable Cards and they manufacture cards and magnets with various inspirational quotes. I have purchased MANY of their cards and magnets as gifts to myself, family and friends! I found this quote to be of particular relevance to me and my life right now. I couldn't help myself...I had to purchase it. I knew I had to add it to the little magnet boards that flank my multi-purpose desk. Upon further research I have learned the author of this quote, Christian D. Larson was an influential New Thought leader and teacher and prolific writer of New Thought books. This passage is from Larson's book Your Forces and How To Use Them written in 1912. It has since come to be known as "The Optimist Creed" and was officially adopted by the Optimists International as their creed in 1922. I am not sure how this creed has managed to escape me all these years...but often things fall into our lives when we need them most! I hope you enjoy reading it for the first time or re-reading it and finding new value in it.

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best.

Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you!

I feel this sums up the purpose, mission and ultimate goal of this blog. I am so grateful this magnet dropped into my life today! Goodnight friends......

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