BACKGROUND

Friday, April 29, 2011

Loving Like Royalty

So the royal wedding took place today. I watched a little bit of it streaming live on the BBC YouTube channel, but I was tired so I watched the rest of it later. I loved Kate's dress and I truly believe that she and William will be very happy together. They seem self-assured and sure of their love for one another. The very best part of the whole ceremony was not seeing the dress, seeing the guests and their choice of clothing, or even the vows. It was this sermon to Kate and William by the Bishop of London. These are wonderful words for all couples in every relationship to remember and for those who are single to remember when looking for a mate:

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.  

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.
William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.


A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.

It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.

You have both made your decision today – “I will” – and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.

We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.

Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:

“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon, Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”

As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.

As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace.

I pray that all of us present and the many millions watching this ceremony and sharing in your joy today, will do everything in our power to support and uphold you in your new life. And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day:


God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.




   

Monday, April 25, 2011

Welcome Brayden!


Yesterday was Easter, but it was also a celebration of the birth of a precious little boy. Brayden is my dear friend, Drew's,  little one. He was supposed to show up in early May, but apparently he decided that he wanted to hang out with all of us sooner than that. So yesterday, his momma's water broke very early in the morning and the wait was on!


This is the first child for Drew and the second for his wife, Niki. Niki has a beautiful 14-year-old daughter. For Niki's sake, I was hoping the labor would go quickly. I always feel badly for women who labor for hours and hours and hours. As it turned out, I ended up feeling badly for Niki. It took 14 hours for Brayden to finally show up. And, as it turned out, Niki could not get the epidural because the anesthesiologist showed up too late. Brayden was also face up (he should have been face down) so it was a rough back labor for Niki. She went through it like a champ and last night around 8 p.m., Brayden made his debut.

This afternoon, I went to the hospital to meet my little nephew. Although I am not related to Drew, he is very much a brother to me. His mother and my mother were best friends for over 50 years. Drew and I went to law school together, he was one year ahead of me. We hung out nearly every day during the summer of 2003 and had dinner at Chili's so frequently that we became great friends with one of the waitresses there who started giving us free drinks since we came in so often. We've shared a lot - the law school experience, heartaches, dating the wrong people, and finally dating the right people. I was at his wedding and was thrilled when he called to say that Brayden was on his way.

I love Drew's wife as much as I love him, but I think my love for their little boy is going to eclipse the love I have for them. He is just too precious. I held him for hours this afternoon and he was just so wonderful. He slept and slept and moved his little arms around and then woke up and looked at me and I immediately saw his father's expressions in his tiny little scrunched up face. He's definitely his father's son. 

I can't wait to watch this little one grow up and I am certain that I will receive calls like this "Aunt Lawfrog, Dad won't buy me thelatestandgreatestelectronicdevice and it's NOT FAIR! Will you get it for my birthday?" And I probably will. Not always of course, but I can see myself giving into this kid. He's already got me wrapped around his itty bitty little finger.




Hola Cozumel!



It's been a very busy time recently and I've been tired and stressed out. School is coming to a close and I am very excited, but I have so much to do in the three weeks before that happens. On the plus side though, in just about a month, I will be lounging on the beaches in Cozumel, Mexico! My Dad is going down there to make use of his recently acquired scuba diving certification and he's generously letting me tag along. Free vacation in Cozumel with my awesome Dad? YES PLEASE!


I love Cozumel. I've been there three times before. The first time was in May 2004 when I spent 7 days down there with a friend from law school. It was a wonderful time. I was getting over a major heartbreak and Cozumel was just what I needed to relax after the preceding few months of heartache and pain. The next two visits were both in 2008 and I was there for only a few hours because I was on cruises both times. This time, I'll be there Monday - Friday and I am SO looking forward to some leisurely strolling time. While Dad is diving, I will be snorkeling, lying on the beach, reading, relaxing, shopping, and just generally letting my mind and body rest. When Dad is not scuba diving, we will do some things together (horseback riding for sure and we're still deciding on the other things we will do). We will also be eating at Ernesto's Fajitas, which is my very favorite restaurant down there.

My Dad and I travel really well together, we've done it several times before, so I know it will be a great time. Having something like this to look forward to makes the stress of the next three weeks a lot easier to deal with.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

LOL!

Stealing these from Maria at Just Eat Your Cupcake.


Dear Noah,
We could have sworn you said the ark wasn't leaving 'til 5.
Sincerely,
The unicorns.

Dear Twilight fans,
Please realize that because vampires are dead and have no blood pumping through them, they can never get an erection. Enjoy fantasizing about that.
Sincerely,
Logic

Dear Icebergs,
Sorry to hear about the global warming. Karma's a bitch.
Sincerely,
The Titanic.

Dear America,
You produced Miley Cyrus. Bieber is your punishment.
Sincerely,
Canada

Dear Yahoo,
I've never heard anyone say, "I don't know. Let's Yahoo! it..." Just sayin'
Sincerely,
Google

Dear 2010,
So I hear the best rapper is white and the president is black? WTF happened?
Sincerely,
1985

Dear girls who have been dumped,
There are plenty of fish in the sea....Just kidding! They're all dead.
Sincerely,
BP

Dear Saturn,
I liked it, so I put a ring on it.
Sincerely,
God

Dear jakdiekeleeleoehn,
Please e39je,emlfjdld
Sincerely,
Stevie Wonder

Dear Nickelback,
That's enough.
Sincerely,
The World

Dear Scissors,
I feel your pain.....no one wants to run with me either.
Sincerely,
Sarah Palin.

Dear World of Warcraft,
Thank you for ensuring my son's virginity.
Sincerely,
Parents Everywhere

Dear Batman,
What was your power again?
Sincerely,
Superman

Dear Customers,
Yes, we ARE making fun of you in Vietnamese.
Sincerely,
the Nail Salon Ladies.

Dear ugly people,
You're welcome.
Sincerely,
Alcohol

Dear Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have a dream within a dream within a dream within another dream...What now?
Sincerely,
Leonardo Di Caprio

Dear World,
Please stop freaking out about 2012. Our calendars end there because some Spanish d-bags invaded our country and we got a little busy, okay?
Sincerely,
The Mayans

Dear Snooki,
GET BACK TO WORK!
Sincerely,
Willy Wonka

Dear White People,
Don't you just hate immigrants?
Sincerely,
Native Americans

Dear iPhone,
Please stop spellchecking all of my rude words into nice words. You piece of shut.
Sincerely,
Every iPhone User

Dear Giant Spider on the Wall,
Please die. Please die. Please die. Please die. CRAP!! Where did you go?
Sincerely,
Terrified

Dear Trash,
At least you get picked up...
Sincerely,
The Girls of Jersey Shore

Dear Man,
It's cute, but can't you pick up peanuts with it?
Sincerely,
Elephant

Dear Dr. Phil,
Listen there's only room for one fake doctor in this world and I was here first.
Sincerely,
Dr. Pepper

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Relief, Food, Books, and Also Some Other Stuff

I'm still feeling the relief from passing my comps exam. I have been totally exhausted this week though. I think the mental energy I expended on that exam for so long has literally sapped me of my physical energy. Thankfully, I didn't have a lot to do this week so I've been able to sleep/nap as needed. I went to my practicum site on Tuesday for about four hours, but they didn't have anyone for me to test so I hung out, chatted with my co-workers, did a little research, and came home. 

Today, I had lunch with a friend I've been trying to get together with since November. We both have had crazy schedules so it was difficult to find free time at the same time. We were finally able to do it today and had a 2-hour lunch catching up and eating some good food (California Pizza Kitchen). She is a great person who is also pursuing a degree in psychology so, among many other things, we have that in common. 

After lunch, I went across the street to Barnes and Noble where I took my time to browse the stacks. I love bookstores and can (and have) spend hours inside them. I didn't buy anything since I have books I need to read stacked up at home, but it was nice to get some ideas for things to read in the future. Also, the quiet, relaxed atmosphere of the bookstore was very calming.

Tomorrow, I will be sleeping in and then working in the afternoon at the company I do technical writing for. Being an independent contractor is very nice because I can make my own schedule and, for the most part, work at my own pace. I love that. 

On Saturday, I am heading back to Victoria for a required colloquium. I have to attend two of the four of those offered during the semester for my practicum. I attended one in March and this one will finish my obligation. It will be SO nice to drive to Victoria without worrying about the exam. It is going to be a much more relaxed drive than it was last weekend. I plan to blast the music and just have fun driving. 

After the colloquium, my classmates and I are going to have lunch together. There will be about six of us. I am very lucky in that my classmates are also my friends. We are very supportive of one another and we are all a bit sad that many of us are graduating and we won't be seeing each other in person on a regular basis anymore. So we decided to plan this lunch as a way to get together one last time.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Comprehensive Anxiety

This was a big weekend for me. On Friday, I traveled to Victoria (2.5 hours away) in preparation for the Comprehensive Exam ("Comps") for my M.A. degree. This is the last hurdle in what has been a very long journey to get my degree. I started taking classes in August 2007 and will be finishing my last practicum class in about five weeks. I am working toward my M.A. in Counseling Psychology so that I can become a therapist. I am looking forward to this as I know in my heart it's the right job for me. I have been many things in my working life - journalist, technical writer, lawyer - but none of them really resonated with me the way counseling does.

The Comprehensive Exam is required by my university and tests us on 10 core subject areas that every counseling student must know. Those areas are:

  1. Introduction to Assessment
  2. Advanced Assessment
  3. Advanced Abnormal Psychology
  4. Ethics
  5. Life Span
  6. Advanced Social Psychology
  7. Advanced Research Methods
  8. Theories
  9. Techniques of Psychotherapy
  10. Multicultural Counseling. 
A lot of information to take in and spit out on an exam. We are allowed to take the exam twice. If you do not pass it the second time, you must take remedial classes in the areas you did not do well in before you will be allowed to re-take the exam.

I was sweating this test big time because this was my second try at it. I had taken it in November and was 8 questions (4 percentage points) away from passing. I started studying for the April exam about two days after I took the November test. It was a long five months of trying to learn everything, worrying, and just generally wanting to do well. The anxiety was enormous. My mother bought a plane ticket to be here in May for my graduation and my Dad, who lives a few hours away, was eagerly planning for my graduation as well. There was a lot riding on this and I was feeling the pressure. This is not to say that anyone was pressuring me because they were not. My parents have always been supportive and encouraging and they would have been there for me no matter what. But still...I did not want to disappoint them or myself.

So, after five months of study, the big day was once again on the horizon. I was lucky in a sense in that I had two classmates who did not pass it the first time either so, although we live hours away from one another, we had all studied together and talked through problems on the phone. That helped a lot, both having others to study with and having people to help with the anxiety.

I drove up Friday and studied throughout the day and into the evening. I had a good dinner (studying some more at the restaurant) and then headed back to the hotel I was staying in to study some more. Finally, I went to bed about 2 a.m. I awoke, thinking it was time to get up, and when I glanced at the clock it was only 4:15. I couldn't sleep very well after that. I tossed and turned and got a little more sleep until I finally gave up and got dressed.

I headed over to the school and continued to study in the 45 minutes or so before the test. And then, it was time.  The test is computerized (200 multiple choice questions) and gives you your score immediately. There was some comfort in knowing that I would not have to wait for the score. I would know how I did and be able to begin dealing with it, whichever way it went.

The test started and the first few questions were hard. I began to get worried. As I continued, there were several questions that I knew without hesitation and there were several that I didn't know. I started writing down the question numbers that I was unsure of. I was allowed to miss 60 questions so I figured if I had less than 60 questions that I was unsure of, then I was going to be OK. When all was said and done, I had...72. I went back through the questions I was unsure of, thought about them, changed some answers, and left some other answers. My two classmates who were also re-taking it had finished and so had the other four examinees. It was just me.

I was shaking throughout a lot of the test. Literally shaking. My hand trembling. I was feeling the pressure. I started thinking about how I was going to fail and how I was going to have to explain to all my classmates (when I would see them the following Saturday at a seminar we all have to go to) that I was going to have to take remedial classes and how humiliating that would be and how I was sure all of them would wonder why I couldn't pass this test. I also started thinking of how depressing it was going to be to take those remedial classes and not graduate and not be able to have fun with my Mom when she gets here because I would be sad and depressed over not passing and not getting to graduate.

Finally, I knew that I had done what I could and I had to end it. I pressed the Finish button and the computer asked if I was sure I wanted to submit my test. I said yes. I knew then that it was a matter of seconds before I would know where I stood. Once you press the submit button, it then asks if you would like to view your attempt. I clicked the View Attempt button and....



















I PASSED!!! Not only did I pass, but I got 9 percentage points more than I needed, which means I missed 42 questions of the 60 I was able to miss. The relief was UNBELIEVABLE and yet, the adrenalin was still pumping. I passed. I wouldn't have to explain to my classmates that I didn't make it. I would be able to graduate with them. I would be able to enjoy my Mom's visit. I could order my cap and gown. And in May, I will be walking across the stage to get my diploma. I PASSED!