Where are you from?

Why do people ask where are you from? What does it matter? Does where you are from define who you are?

I was talking to a lady who defines herself as a “military brat.” She has a really hard time with this question. She’s lived in many places. Does it mean where she was born? Or where she grew up? Or where her parents live now? These are all different places, and there are many other places that she has lived as well. None of them really are “home.”

I think people ask because they are trying to pigeonhole you. As if all people from a certain place are the same. How is this not some unnamed “-ist” thing? It isn’t racist, or sexist, but it certainly is along those lines. It is saying that you are in a group, and you aren’t an individual.

Then again, how long do you have to live in a place before you can say you are from there? I’ve lived in Nashville for nearly 15 years. I grew up in Chattanooga. So where am I from? I chose to live here. Shouldn’t that count?

People ask me where I’m from and I tell them this, and then they ask where I was born. It was also in Tennessee. They are still confused. I don’t talk or look or act (in their opinion) like someone from Tennessee. The problem is, there is no such thing as a person from Tennessee talking or looking or acting a particular way. We are all different. Sure, I’m Southern. But I’m not like all Southerners, and in fact none of my friends are stereotypically Southern.

And perhaps that’s the point. People are what they are.

Is it nature or nurture, or both? Or neither?

It is like asking someone where they work or what their religion is. It really doesn’t matter. You might as well ask them what their sun sign is. You’ll know more about the person if you just ask her about what is important to her.

What does she like to eat? What are her favorite movies/books/musicians? Does she have a hobby?

Instead of putting her in a box, why not find out what makes her who she is? Find out what makes her happy, and you’re on to a good start.

Perhaps the best answer to the question is this: It doesn’t matter where I’m from. It matters where I am. I’m here, now. Take me as I am.

Time and silence

(This was written at last weekend’s silent retreat, at 9:30 am on 1-18-14. I’d come to some understanding after this, but as the struggle is part of it, I’m posting this too.)

I keep looking at the clock. I don’t want to be late. I don’t want to miss anything.

This is so much like how I’m living my life right now. I’m not trusting that I’m on the right path, but I know I am. I’m not living in the moment, but I know I should.

There isn’t much going on. It isn’t like this kind of retreat is jam packed. There’s an optional centering prayer. There’s mealtimes. I’ve got an appointment with a spiritual director. Not much going on at all, in fact. That’s the point.

It isn’t like Cursillo at all. Every moment was scheduled with that. There was a little time for a walk or going to the bathroom, but nothing going for naptime. Even regular sleep was shortened. I think that was very intentional. Sleep deprivation is a cheap way to produce altered reality.

But at Cursillo they at least had a bell. I didn’t have to wonder what to do next or when to do it. The retreat leaders did all the thinking for me. It left me open to do as I needed, and that was to plug directly into the Source. Now, one thing there was that you couldn’t skip anything. Everybody had to be present for a program to start.

I was late to centering prayer this morning. I thought I was early but my clock was wrong. I missed the instructions. I’d gotten them the night before and not read them. I’m pretty sure I was doing it wrong. But I was there and quiet and trying to be receptive.

The word I chose was light. I hadn’t planned on it. It is what came to me.

Sometimes I think just showing up is part of it. I think also being honest with yourself is also part of it. I’d signed up to do yoga last night but I skipped it because I was in the middle of a good write. I found myself resenting stopping what I was doing to go to yoga. It was optional anyway.

I’m learning that just because the retreat is silent doesn’t mean my head is silent. There are a lot of thoughts crowded in there, jockeying for attention.

Doing WordPress

I’m pretty sure I’m doing WordPress wrong.

I’ve read that I’m supposed to put pictures in all my posts. I’ve read that I’m supposed to “follow” a lot of other similar blogs, and comment on them. I’ve read that I should post several times a day.

Well, I do that part, sometimes. And then I think that I’m overwhelming people.

But how am I supposed to follow other blogs when I barely have time to work on mine? How am I supposed to comment on them if I don’t read them? And how would that get me more followers?

I’m pretty sure that a lot of my followers don’t even follow my blog. I have nearly 200 followers and really only about 20 people manage to saunter over and look at what I’ve written every day. Are the rest those people who do blogging for money? They “followed” my blog with the hope that I’d “follow” theirs, and they’d get a percentage of a penny just because I clicked on their blog? Maybe.

As for pictures, I have pictures sometimes. But they are my own. I’m not going to take stock photos and paste them on my blog. That’s stealing. Well, it’s stealing unless you give proper credit. But then if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more are worth actual words? A picture doesn’t mean anything without a context, and the viewer can make up whatever she wants. I’d rather write about what I see than show it, most of the time. I feel that it means more, and that the meaning is better expressed this way.

Mostly I write because I need to write. Setting up a goal of posting at least once a day makes it something I have to do. It makes me accountable to myself. It makes me take the time to put down my thoughts. I don’t need to post, but it seems to force me to think more clearly about what I say. And, if someone gets something useful out of it, all the better. But first and foremost, I write for myself.

I’ve learned things through writing that I never would have learned otherwise. Writing forces me to slow down and see the situation from many perspectives. Writing is an intentional, focused act. Writing keeps me conscious and alert.

I’ve got lots of things I want to write about, but not a lot of time. Plus, I think my recent sprained wrist is in part because I’ve been writing so much. So, I have to choose carefully what I write. Sometimes it may not seem like it. Sometimes I just need to “doodle” to get started. Sometimes I write about a fluffy thing in order to warm up to something bigger. Sometimes I avoid writing about something big and real and controversial and new because I’m afraid.

Sometimes I write because I want to confront my fears, and drag them out kicking and screaming into the light.

So I may not do WordPress the way I’m supposed to do it. But I do it the way I need to do it, and I think that is really the point of everything. It certainly is the point of my blog. Don’t do things the way everyone else does it if it doesn’t serve you.