Improvised Camp “Oven”

Did you ever find yourself camping in a region with a burn ban, and you forgot to check if their was a burn ban before you lef? Yep, me too.

One of my sons and I were camping and we found ourselves fireless. We had planned several of our meals over open flames, ya know, with burning wood.  Here’s how we handled the situation.

I had our trusty camp/catering stove so we put that to work.  We used the lonely fire pit grate to give us some distance from the heat. I didn’t have the cover to the frying pan, which went bye bye years ago.  I used a think plastic plate instead.

IMG_6805

The first run was too close to the falme and is bruned the buscuits.

IMG_6790

Our second try worked much better.  Here’s my happy camper and our results.

IMG_6807 IMG_6808 IMG_6806

 

I’m sure there’s a more effective way to make a camp oven.  When I figure it out I’ll write it up or post the link.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

A Rite of Passage

Levi and I embark on a rite of passage this morning.

I don’t have time this morning to explain much about this trip.  Levi and I are headed out for the weekend together.  This is his first marker on the road to becoming a man.  I’m excited to starte this journey with him this morning.

We headed north.  We’ll be in the shadow of Mt. Baker.  Eating, fishing, hiking, feasting, talking, and whitling.  Then we’ll wake up and do some more of that tomorrow.

When we return I’ll write a post about the reasons I decided to do this with my sons.  In the meantime, if you’re a praying person, think of us often in the next 3 days.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

The Short Walk to Your Future

A week from today I graduate from The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology with a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology.  (I’m going to read that sentence again.  And one more time…)  Time flies when you’re working really hard.  And some moments stand utterly still.

It’s good to mark and celebrate milestones.  The honoring of pain and joy are important in life.  I will shout, fist pump, high-five, fist bump, hand shake, hug like a linebacker, weep, jump, stand still in awe, weep, sigh, feast, and grin like the Cheshire Cat.  Then I will sleep.  Like, a lot dude.

It’s awkward and unsettling when we transition.  As of Monday, I will have completed all my work for my degree.¹  I am practically done.  I’ve applied with Washington to be a Licsensed Mental Health Counselor Associate and all that’s left is my transcript.  “I’m ret ta go.”  The awkward part comes when you walk across a stage, hear your name spoken, applause², shake hands with the President and Dean, smile for a picture, and walk off the stage.  Some how that is a magical portal you’ve passed through, you’re changed, you’re a graduate, a Master now.  I’m excited, but I don’t feel that different. Yet.

Yet, my life is different.  I may not feel the weight until August or September.  In September it will poignant how things have changed.  No buying a stack of books, a pack of Pilot Precise V7RT with comfort grip, and a fresh Moleskin journal.   No hovering over the online registration screen so I can get the class sections I want.  No dread of “syllabus day,” where I feel I have to eat the whole elephant at once.

A week from this moment, I’ll have crossed the threshold.  Life will be different.  I am different.  Now, what’s our next adventure?

 

Thanks for stopping.  Be uncommon.

 

 

 

 

¹ It’s a group art installation and presentation for a class called Yearnings. More on that class later.

² Wow, the weeping has started just thinking about it.  If this was paper there would be tears on that sentence.

A Monday’s Lament Near the End of Grad School

My hope is in the LORD, and I wonder when the soaring will begin.¹ Where’s the eagle parked? I’m walking weary.  I’m not running anymore and I’m still faint.  The sun is up and I can bearly feel it’s warmth, certainly I won’t be frolicing today.²

Yet, I feel the sun on my face. The gentle breeze tickling the stuble on my scalp. Flowers blooming. Herbs visting my nosterlls in the morning air.

I start my last two classes of Grad School this week and next. I’m wondering if I have enough in the tank to finish.  I wonder, but I keep walking as if I believe I can make it.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be…

 

¹ Isaiah 40:31
² Malachi 4:2

The Conversation isn’t a Conversation for Everybody

Even if we live on the same street or city it doesn’t mean we have the same experiances.

I was talking to an African-American friend the other day. He was telling me about a conversation with a mutual friend (a White dude).  The topic was Ferguson, MO.  The White guy said something like “I’m surprised that there’s still stuff to talk about.  I didn’t know there was anything still going on there.” I’m wondering if you’re wondering the same thing?

Perhaps things have cooled off in Ferguson, at least a little. Enough to not be on the evening news, perhaps. For a lot of us this means the conversation is over.  It can be over.  If you have light skin it can be over.

What if you’re an African-American man? Is the conversation over? Is it a conversation at all?  If you don’t know the answers to those questions, it may mean that you don’t have any friends that are people of color.

For us with light skin the converstation can end.  It’s only a conversation in the hallway or over a beverage. We say our salutaions and head home to Netflix or our dog.  This is our privaledge.  This is what our skin tone gives to us. We don’t have to deal with a lot that our friends of color have to every waking moment.

I’m not saying it’s all our fault.  It isn’t.  Well, not mine and yours speficially.  You can’t add up all White Sin and put it on our tab Brah.  You may feel that way when you first enter into the dialogue.  White Guilt should be worked through not camped out in.  What we can take resposibilty for are the ways taht we benefit from Racism and therefor perpetuate it.

I’ve been asked, “What do we do then?” Friends, I don’t have THE answer.  Some days the problem is just way too big to do anything about.  Most days I’m determined to stay engaged.  This engagement alone I think can be helpful.  Being aware is the frist step to cutrual compotency and fighting Racism.¹  Dont’ just stop at knowing.

One of the answers for me is to seek out friends that are of other cultures and races than my own.  I learn about their lives and try to understand. I breack bread with them and meet their families when possible.  I apploogise when I have to.  In other words, I try to be a good friend.  Sometimes good friends stick up for each other.  Lately I’ve found that I have the ability to call out the sublte ways Racism is present in every day life.  Man, have I dropped some conversational bombs on some residents of Queen Anne.  You’re welcome.

An other answer  for me is working with a diverse population.  My internship site’s client population is 95%+ people of color.  I’m getting a lot of expriance being a professional White Ally. In the future, when I have a private practice I want to continue that kind of work. I plan to leave room in my client load for low-income clients, maybe even being authorized by Medicaid  or Boarded with an insurance company.  By not making those kind of choices in hourly rate and client retention I limited my working population to the people who have platium level insurance or pay cash.  And we know for the time being most of the wealth is is still heald by light skinned people.   I’m sure I’ll come across more ways to help… or encourage more people want to be engaged.  For now I feel as good as I can about how I’m helping.

If you’re White I hope that you choose to engage in this stuggle with me.  If you’re a Person of Color may you risk to have a White friend.  Not a co-worker or a bud, a genuine friend.  This is a way we can change our future.  Let’s make minute steps into a new way.  Join me.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

 

 

 

 

¹ Sue, D.W., & Sue, D. (2013). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice, 6th Ed. New York: John Wiley.

Over the River and Through the Selfcare Woods

Like many terms in language the term self-care has many meanings and connotations.  The first time you heard the term self-care you probably came to an understanding.  As I assume most compound words are formed for the need to combine two concepts into a single utterance.  Self + care = self-care: taking care of one’s, ya know, self.  Like much of life simple concepts are not easily lived out.  Much of what we learn comes in layers or in cycles.

Before I go forward, I need to clarify what I think about how we learn.  I think the things in life that are worth learning take a while to sink in.  This kind of learning involves taking in information, reflecting on it, experiencing the information, and perhaps more reflection.  I came across this concept from a youth ministry book.  They were explaining why the book was set up in such a way and that to skip a part of the lesson plan would sabotage your students potential learning.  That made sense and I utilized this concept the rest of my time in youth ministry.  I will not quarantine this modality to youth ministry.  Back to self-care…

My journey toward self-care has been a long time coming.  I don’t mean to make it sound like a place to arrive.  It truly is a journey like most of life, there are places that we mark along the way.  We grieve or celebrate where we’ve come from.

I heard the term self-care before I came to The Seattle School but the genuine pursuit of it I had not experienced.  Only now, in my internship, am I feeling the gravity of selfcare.¹  I am noticing more and more the places that my defenses have simply enabled my survival.  Most of us would agree that survival is basic.  Most of us would agree that we want more in life than survival – we want to thrive.²  I’ve come to a deep realization, in my marrow, that selfcare is essential to living this life well.  I’ve realized what I’ve done to survive isn’t really even leading to survival.  Many of my defenses are toxic, slowly killing me.  They are killing my mind, body, and soul.  At best they are blocking me from goodness because of the risk of pain.  At worst, literally killing a part of me.  In the eyes of my clients I see the ramifications of selfcare.  If I don’t truly and deeply care for myself I cannot in turn truly and deeply help them.  I want to help them. To help someone is to love them.  [An unwriteable sentence.]  I haven’t always helped myself.  The Seattle School has challenged me to consider the cost to myself and consider ways that I might sustain myself and surround myself with people who are willing to help sustain me.

I thought I was headed to Grandma’s house.  Ya know, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go?”  I hadn’t crossed the river yet.  I was walking along the river.  Most the time I couldn’t look at Selfcare Woods.  There was too much shame to wonder why I couldn’t look, let alone try to get there.  Recently I looked up and noticed that I’ve crossed the river.

I’ve only begun.  I’ve begun the task of peeling the onion.  I’ve just crossed the river.  I see how I can sustain myself.  I hope that I’m a quick study.  I hope that I continue to integrate this concept into living.  Only time will tell I guess.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

 

 

Footnotes:

¹Please note the shift from self-care to selfcare.  This denotes integration.

²Incidentily, why hasn’t the state of “thrival” become a word in common usage?  Furthermore, is the hope of thriving too much hope of goodness for us to handle we can’t name it?

I saw this video on a friend’s FB feed.  I laughed and cried. We have so much work to do.  By we, for now, I mean White people in the USA.  I hope we can ride this recent wave of awareness in the media of violence by White police officers to people of color. Much more needs to change, I hope we can see that. I hope we can change.

Now that I’ve done some more work on my inner self I feel more comfortable pointing the type of comments and attitudes in this video in daily life.  I get strange looks of course, especially in my neighborhood (Upper Queen Anne, Seattle). I know that shame is involoved and we defend ourselves with those kind of looks and rebutals.  As if I don’t have the right to point out racsim to an aquiantence or someone I just met.   As if you’ve got the right to be Racist.  I guess you do, and that’s the problem. Deep cultural changing work will be done with longterm relationships anyway, I’ve found that I must do something. We’ve got to do something! I have much more to say. That’s all that’s going to be said on Christmas Day +1 when I have a sugar cookie hangover.

Thanks for stopping by. Be uncommon.

White People Say the Darnedest Things

Wedding Experiment

Weddings. Most of the weddings I’ve officiated I’ve enjoyed. So much love and anxiety in one place. So much loss and joy about new beginnings. A happy tear and sad tear cocktail. I enjoy walking with people through that fertile ground.

I’m officiating a wedding this weekend. This my first since moving to Washington.  The wedding is of a former student who is also the daughter of a former co-worker.   It’s good to see them again and hopefully I will be able to make more time to see them when I’m out of school.

I’ve had the notion for years that there’s a better way to do pre-marital counseling.  I’ve had feedback from a lot of the couples I’ve married that what I was walking them through didn’t make sense until they were married.  I think that’s probably true for a lot of our learning isn’t it?  Our learning becomes more meaningful when it’s applicable to life or work.  With that thought in mind, I’ve wondered if it would be more beneficial for couples to have some counseling after they’re married.  I have not had any takers on my theory yet.  I know that most of the couples that I’ve officiated have begrudgingly met with me beforehand.  Those are the vibes I usually pick up before they met with me.  Most couples have been able to see that it wasn’t just me telling them how to live, it was me facilitating their conversation on how they wanted to live together.  Often these conversations are not a priority or they are just avoided hoping for the best.  I think those are silly ways to live, even though I have the same defenses.

Getting married is a life transition.  If we’re honest we often struggle through major life transitions.  Most of us who have had a therapeutic presence trough a transition know that it is worthwhile.   (When I say therapeutic I’m using it in the general sense.)  Some of us would say we couldn’t have made it with out that life giving presence.  So why not accept my kind offer to walk along side you?  The reasons are many I’m sure.

Sophie and Ryan, the couple I’m marrying tomorrow, have decided that they would allow me to experiment with them.  I think this may be an optimal situation.  They are laid-back and flexible people.  They love life and love an adventure.  They’ve been open in talking about  life with each other and myself.  I’m excited to see how this goes.

Until then, Godspeed you two.  May you continue to play and explore the world together.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

 

My Writing Liturgy

I’ve wanted to be a better writer for many years.  I have had a sense that it would take more effort than I’d initially want to invest.  Turns out I was right.  Grad school has forced me to work on my writing.  Grad school has also helped me realize that my go-to style is not academic.  No surprise to this author or most of you.  In order to continue in the program I’m in I still have had to appropriate some skills for academic writing.  Throughout this process of growing I’ve accepted a lot of feedback form Assistant Instructors (AI’s), met with them about my process, and where I can improve.  One meeting in particular with an AI, Dana Mitchell, was helpful.  Together we explored my writing process and what things in my work she felt I could improve on.  Coming away from that meeting and other discussions I had with her I’ve landed on what I’ve named my Writing Liturgy.

I am not naturally liturgical.  In the broad and specific sense of the word.  My church tradition is in the Wesleyan-Free church branch of the family tree.  In the past many of us have openly mocked heavy, human-made structure in ecclesiology and practices.  I think I’ve come to a more realistic view on structure for church.  (Perhaps more posts in the future on that subject.)  Apart from church, my personality has pushed back on external structures on my life.  In adulthood I’ve  realized the value of structure and routine in my own life.  I still have much to learn.  Now, back to writing.

My writing process was in need of some sort of form or rhythm.  What I’ve come up with has helped me greatly.  Specifically, my grades have continued an upswing.  Randy the competent student is somewhat of a new occurrence.  In the past it came down to academic structures that I don’t value and I haven’t found helpful for learning.  I did the least amount of work to get good enough grades to be a student athlete and avoid bringing great shame upon myself.

I’ve organized my writing liturgy in three phases.  For good writers these will seem mundane.  They do to me too.  But when I am in the middle of a school term, picking up my sons at two different times, running them to soccer and Tae Kwon Do, going to classes, meeting classmates for group projects, reading, more reading, driving for Lyft, caring for my wife… etc. etc. etc.  Having something written down that I can return to helps reduce stress in the midst of chaos.  I don’t have to think what to do next, I’ve already done that work and follow my structure.  It’s my frame, so I can tweak it as I need to.  It’s really helpful to have a simple, mundane structure to hold my process.

Phase 1:  Information Gathering.  How I record the information changes for me every term and even sometimes throughout the term.  I either type notes in a document, mind map, and/or underline in the book or article.  I pay attention to what speaks loudly in the text I’m reading.  How I record this is up to my mood and energy level.  Going back to these notes has been helpful when I feel lost.

Phase 2: Free Writing.  I go wherever my mind and heart takes me.  Sometimes I discard most of this.  That’s just how it goes.

Phase 3: Development.  This is where the writing begins to take shape.  It begins to resemble a paper at this point.  I work on conforming to the prompt given by the professor.  I actually copy the prompt into the document so it’s close.  When I’m nearing the end I have someone look at it.   I read it out loud to myself.  Reading out loud has been especially helpful.

I have also made this process a spiritual one.  That’s why calling this a liturgy is so appropriate.  When I sit down to work I quite myself.  I ask God to guide my thought and help me focus.  When I’m done with a work session I prayer prayers of gratitude for what was accomplished.  If staring at the screen was the only thing I did, I try to be grateful that I tried.  When I walk across the classroom to turn the paper in I thank God for helping me through the process.  Reminder: Most of the work I’m doing at the Seattle School is personal in nature. So these papers are an important part of my own development.  So when I turn in a paper it’s the benediction of the liturgy.

That was an overview of my writing liturgy.  I’m sure I’ll continue to tweak this frame as time goes by.  I’m glad to have stumbled on this process.  I hope you’ve gleaned something from my journey.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

 

Stirred by Tillicum Village

I was fortunate enough to accompany Graeme and his classmates to Tillicum Village on Blake Island two weeks ago. I’m glad they all had the opportunity to learn about Coastal Salish tribes. I would recommend a trip there if you haven’t gone.

Why do I feel fortunate? I love learning about Native American Cultures. I’m glad for myself as well my son.  All three of my sons are learning a lot about native peoples, often.  I think this is important.  Knowledge isn’t a savior, but it can open many doors to the world and relationships.

Often learning about another culture can begin the journey down the road to understanding. Knowledge and understanding can lead to appreciation of the other. Curiosity can help fuel these pursuits.

In the past few years there has been a stirring deep within me. You may wonder if that’s just my lunch talking. This is a deeper nagging than 10 star Chinese food can bring.¹  It is a nagging to be in community with more cultures than I have dwelt with most of my life. Perhaps that’s why I’m loving city life so much lately.  Not that I’m living in a diverse city.  Still, its more diverse than the small Midwestern towns I’ve lived in the past.  Difference to me is a good thing. It adds to the beauty of the world. I have learned so much from people that are different than myself. Sometimes I have learned through offense. For that I am sorry, but its inventible. The times that hurt the most are the times I don’t have an opportunity to say sorry.  The stirring to try to understand and to know the unknown pushes me into risky interactions.

As the ferry disembarked for Seattle I reflected on the day.  I was grateful for the interaction with a small segment of the Coastal Salish Tribes.  I was glad to hear their stories, history, and learn some common customs.  I look forward to learning more.  I’m guessing much my learning will happen around my dinner table while my sons inform me about the first Americans of this region.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be uncommon.

 

 

 

¹Since moving from the Midwest I’ve noticed it’s common in the Seattle area to find a heat rating on food.  This is especially common for Chinese food. I’ve most often encountered a 1-10 scale, 10 being the hottest. And no, the actual spiciness of the food is not standardized.  At least you know what to expect.