Did you ever notice that a majority of things you do in life you are doing for the first time? First birthday, first car, first baby, first time you baked a cake........It goes on forever. A lot of the time you're just waiting for the next "first" to happen.
I was just thinking about not being experienced in certain things, namely, auto-repair. My car's in the shop and I was thinking, "Man, I am going to get ripped off, because I am just not experienced at this." But, then I started thinking that for most people they are not experienced at this. No matter how many times your car goes into the shop it will be a new problem each time that you do not know about--or perhaps auto standards have changed since you last had your car in.
Then I thought, a lot of life is like this. I keep seeing Alexander experience things for the first time and think how interesting and exciting his life must be. Then I realized that the same is true for me. Even though I have experienced much, still there is much that I am experiencing for the first time. How interesting and exciting life is.
Happy Birthday to me. It's the first time I am twenty-five.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Did you ever notice that a majority of things you do in life you are doing for the first time? First birthday, first car, first baby, first time you baked a cake........It goes on forever. A lot of the time you're just waiting for the next "first" to happen.
Friday, October 19, 2007
When I was a kid, I never knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I only knew that I wanted to like doing it, I wanted to help people, I wanted to be important, I wanted people to honor and respect me. You know the typical glory seeking, help people, noble profession. There are a lot of things that I thought I could do, because I am so good at learning new things. I always liked to get an “A” grade. I will not fail, even if at first I don’t succeed, try, try, again.
Later, as I began to study engineering in college, I also began to realize that one, I wasn’t very good at it and two, I did not like the kind of work it was. I had entered engineering, because the work was concrete. And the mark one makes on the world is concrete too. I thought that I would really make some additions to the world.
Then part way through my second semester of engineering, after I had flunked a Calc II test, I had a meltdown. I cried to my friends that I need to be good at what I do; I’ve done everything and only been, well, mediocre; granted, I got good grades, but that does not make me good. I certainly will not be making any additions to the field of engineering. They all asked, “Well, Renee, what are you good at?” I replied,
“Art. People have always complimented me on my abilities, and I have always been amongst the top performing in my art classes.”
They said, “Do that, Renee.”
I returned curtly, “I have to be realistic. Very few make a decent living doing art.”
I do not mean to show irreverence for the craft, but I have to be able to care for myself. It would hardly make sense to get a $120,000.00 education to be an artist. So I went and got myself a philosophy degree (irony). But, I minored in art and further proved to myself that I am a skilled artist.
So here I am working as an administrative assistant, thinking this is not what I will be doing the rest of my life, because it is not what I do best. I do not want to be like my mom who never settled on a career. She was a Jack of All Trades and I do not think it served her well. But, that may be because she’s a bit A.D.D. too.
I have assessed many times what it is I ought to do. When I graduated Gonzaga, I wanted to go the Architecture school. I would still like to do that. But, I have become a bit disenchanted with it due to our friend who is an architect and does not really get to design. She is neck high in the legal paperwork involved in building. I would want to design churches or residential, and I think very few get to do that.
I think Architectural drafting would suit me well. If you had asked me in high school do go get an A.A. in Architectual drafting, I would have said never. I hated computers, because that was when they crashed every five minutes, and I was above an A.A. Now I think A.A.s are where it’s at. Although, I am very proud of my philosophy degree and I loved doing it. I learned a lot while in college. I may do this, but it’s not what I do well.
After becoming a mom, I realize how much little kids need their moms. Alexander loves daycare and does very well there, but it’s not what is best for him, or his future siblings. I like domesticity. I like cleaning (I blame my mom for hiring me to clean her rental properties). I like cooking. I like vacuuming. I like baking pies. I like meeting with other moms. I like learning about nutrition and yoga. I want my own veggie garden, chickens, maybe a dairy cow. I really want to learn how to sew, so I can tailor our clothes to hobbit size. And I still want to be an artist—a painter.
Andrew and I want to have a lot of children, so I will not have time to work outside the home once more come along. But, I think is important for an adult to have something outside the home apart from the kids.
I have hang-ups about all this. God forbid anything happen to Andrew, I need to be able to work and support myself and I worry that being an artist just won’t cut it. I think that is why I want to do architectural drafting, but that’s not my art. Also, I am not an innovator when it comes to my art. My only desire is to classically portray beauty. So, chances are I will never make much money.
So what I will do with my life is still uncertain. I feel as though my life is on hold while Andrew completes his PhD. I think IDEALLY, I would be a mom with a vegetable garden and chickens, and on the side I would be an artist. I will not worry about someday, what if…we need more money, or Andrew dies and I have to work, etc., because in the end, as I have demonstrated throughout my life, I am a capable person and if I need a career outside the home, I will go out and get one and probably, I will be pretty good at it, not the best, but pretty good; and if I need further training, I am smart and I will go and learn it. I cannot be an artist right now, but it’s like riding a bike, so the first chance I get, I will do it again. So, hurry up Andrew and finish this PhD, so I can be a mom and an artist.
Also, I want to point out that being a mom would fulfill all the job requirements I wanted as a kid...I wanted to like doing it, I wanted to help people (help my kids), I wanted to be important (I would be the main person in their lives to help them live and grow into competent adults), I wanted people to honor and respect me (kids do that right).
P.s. That's my painting in the green. See, I ain't half bad.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Today, I have decided not to take my usual 2.5 mile run at lunch. It has been the only way for this busy wife/mom/career woman to get exercise. I love it. It helps me get through the day. But, it hasn't helped me lose an ounce since April. The weightloss stalemate might have to do with all the ice cream and splurging (curse Andrew's insatiable desire for ice cream) . But, I have always said that I need to workout more, because I love food. I think that I am one of those people that isn't satisfied by just eating. If it tastes good, I want to keep tasting it over and over and over even after I am full. It's like I am O.C.D. for flavorful foods. I have been trying to eat slower and savor the flavor, since that is what I like so much about food and not so much the feeling of being full. Long story short, I am skipping running and taking a little time to blog.
I am doing a pretty bad job keeping up the house. Before work I shower, dress, make lunches, feed Alexander, give him a nebulizer treatment, change a nasty, morning poopy diaper, dress him, and take him to daycare (normal mom stuff). After work I come home, tend to Alexander, make dinner, eat dinner, do the dishes, cleanup the kitchen, put Alexander to bed, the evening usually involves laundry or some other household thing. By 8-8:30 p.m. there is still much housework to do, but I am mentally physically exhausted. I just want to veg on the sofa and watch T.V. So, not enough gets done and no, Andrew does not help. It's not a negative comment on him. He has his own stuff to do, although, instead of just dropping his stuff all over the apartment, he could just put it where it belongs in the first place. One of our big problems is we have too much stuff for the amount of living space. Not everything has a place. We could eliminate some things, but you know the old adage, "the minute you get rid of it, that's when you will need it."
In order to get everything done that I want to get done, something has got to give. I cannot spend less time with Alexander; at present, I need to keep working to support the family; I chose to neglect the house. I do the important things, laundry, vacuum, cook, buy groceries, handel the finances. So I only clean the bathrooms and sheets about once a month. I have to say this to justify the mess to myself, because the mess really bothers me. I shouldn't let it bother me, because it's not that important.
This whole blog is just to say, I might be MIA in the blog world for most of the football season, until mid-January. It's just that time of year.
Posted by Renee Clayton at 11:23 AM
Friday, September 7, 2007
Adam, I am proud of you.
I am proud that you were the kind of person that so many want to remember and honor your memory. I am proud that there are two races in your name. I am proud that there are so many willing to give up a little bit of their time to run a race and give back to the community.
It makes me proud that you liked to try new things. You were great at learning about people—all kinds of people. You were going to make the world a better place. At least, you thought you might try. You learned languages that others were afraid to try. You were a heart to heart kind of guy.
I am glad I got to know you. I am glad that you called me all summer long to gripe about your breakup with your girlfriend. I am happy you called me July 15th and I took the time to answer the phone. I am holding on to the last few things you told me. I loved when you tried to teach me new things. I loved telling you when you were wrong, because you were smarter than me.
I hope that you are praying for me and all these earthly souls. I need some Grace. I always need some Grace to soften my hardened heart. Sometimes, I think that we are all lost and will not be redeemed.
But, you make me proud. You make me proud, because you always acted honorably. You were not always the best at what you did, but you sought to do good. We cannot all be the kind of person that you get out of bed early on a Saturday morning to huff up a hill 5 kilometers, just so you can say, "I did it for Adam." But, you were that kind of person. You make me proud little brother.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Now I shall proceed with darker issues, marring this day. This morning I saw an interview on The Today Show, with Nicole Brown’s sister, Denise Brown, and the publisher who is publishing O.J. Simpson’s book, If I Did It. The publisher, Eric Kampmann, said that he read the book and said that chapter six is particularly disturbing, saying that it is an obvious confession, describing the murder in chilling detail. O.J. Simpson opens the book by saying, “I’m going to tell you a story you’ve never heard before, because no one knows this story the way I know it. I want you to forget everything you think you know about that night, because I know the facts better than anyone.” Despite those unnerving words, it was Denise Brown who chilled me to the bone.
Denise Brown’s raw emotion about the murder of her sister and the murderer who got away, flooded me with vivid, lucid emotions about the murder of my brother, Adam. The vigor and emotional shutter in her voice against the publishing of this book was gripping. Because this murder was high profile in the media, and every minute of the O.J. Simpson trial played out before a racially charged public, the families of the victims are continously reminded and re-victimized. Denise calls it an instructional book on murder. It plants seeds in the minds of those who have the propensity to commit such crimes. Her convictions are true.
My brother’s killer committed suicide that same n. This fact brings to me closure. There was no messy, emotional trial. This man did not walk on enjoying the fruits of the earth. In fact, his final actions show cowardly remorse for his life’s actions. His family also feels the pains of losing a son. But, if anyone, murderer, or penniless, philanderer of words, tried to make a buck, wanted to write a book detailing my brother’s murder, I would be more than outraged. I would not be able to contain my rage. My usual genteel, diplomatic, disposition would shatter quicker than sugar-glass. It is bad enough that the few details I know of Adam’s death regularly playout in my head like some horror movie. What good does it do to set it into print—So that it may desecrate my brother’s earhtly life; and obliterate the emotional stability I have procured.
The phrase, “Rest in Peace,” is so poignant. Peace illudes Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. Denise Brown is fantastic being ambassador for the victoms. I do not comprehend how she can remain as composed as she does.
The publisher, Eric Kampmann, points out that the reason he believes it should be published is because it is O.J.’s confession. We can finally have the satisfaction of saying that we know he did it. The GREAT irony of the book is that “if he did it,” he is walking free, laughing at all of us. Denise Brown adds, we already knew he did it. We do not need the book to be sure of that. But, where is the remorse from O.J. in this book, Mr. Kampmann? O.J. Simpson and his lawyers put the American Justice system—the ideals we hold so dearly—to shame. His trial brought to light that our nation, society, legal system, we, are broken in so many ways.
That said, publishing this book will not make us, as a people, any better. It will, in fact, further corrupt us. To publish this book is not just taboo; it is immoral. There is only one thing that could possibly redeem this book, and that is if O.J. Simpson fully admitted to the crime and begged for forgiveness from everyone, the Browns, the Goldmans, the American people, the world. He should admit that he should be punished for what he did. And if he did not do it, then he is just sick. I do not know what is more sick: he didn’t do it and wrote this book, or he did it and wrote this book.
I know how the Brown family feels. You would understand too, if you experienced the sudden loss of someone you were very very close to. I cannot help the way I feel in this matter. It hit me like a brick this morning. Censorship! I exclaim.
Posted by Renee Clayton at 2:54 PM
Thursday, August 9, 2007
“Religion is the opiate of the masses.” – Karl Marx
I received an email referring to a quote from my blog, Standing in the Long Line,” in which I said, “Being self-deceived is never okay.” The following is a snippet from the email I received:
“I'm not sure if you have kept up with the most recent publishing craze, but there has been an abundance of atheistic writing that has come up in the past 3 years. Many of these authors argue that a belief in God, or religious belief at all is self-deception…Being a religious person how do you distinguish your belief from self-deception, especially regarding the insufficient evidence or objective knowledge of the many things that religious faith would have us believe?”
Again I claim, “Being self-deceived is never okay” including in matters of faith, religion, and God.
I never wanted to turn my blog into a debate, but when discussing faith, or merely being actively religious it is hard to not put myself out there into the public forum. That said, I still do not wish to thrust myself into a public debate in order to defend my faith. Therefore, if the following is not a sufficient answer for you, I am sorry. And not wishing to turn this into a long debate I will most likely not respond to any argument against it. I will not do any clarifying either. This could all turn into a vicious cycle for which I am not qualified to battle against. I am by no means an authority on this. If you wish to further your knowledge on this I can suggest a reading list of better thinkers than I. But, I hope to give a few answers here as to why I do not think that I am self-deceived by having faith in God and religion.
I have spent a lot of time seeking faith and I have found much justification for belief in God and it is far too much to rehash here. Nor do I require myself to go over the arguments frequently enough to remember how all the logic goes. Nevertheless, my degree in philosophy ought to be worth something in this matter.
I hope you will not mind if there are no concrete quotes here. This is not a formal place for me to write.
It is not a new craze to pose that religion is self-deception. Karl Marx did it. Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method, attempted eliminate God all together. Of course, he clearly stated that he did not wish to do that. But, he began his major argument with the “self” alone (“I think, therefore I am”)—this is all he could know for certain. Then he proceeded to prove other indubitable truths. But he had to prove that the world he perceived was not self-deception. He had to prove that the world does exist. For what it is worth, in the end, the only way he managed to escape solopsism and prove that the world existed was to concede that there was a God and a God that was not an “Evil Deceiver”. He had to admit he was a creature. For the rest of the story you will have to read Discourse on Method, Third Meditation. This is not the full picture of Cartesianism.
There are some very good reasons as to why to believe in God that do not fall into fallacy. Just because ideas pertaining to God are often intangible does not mean that it does God does not exist. The edge of the universe is intangible, but I assure you there is evidence that it exists. Likewise there is evidence that God exists. I will try to give only few reasons why I believe that not only having faith is not self-deception, but being religious in faith practice is also not self-deceiving. Keep in mind these are reasons that I believe I am not self-deceived. If you do not comprehend me, you will have to do the mental work yourself to achieve understanding of the concepts I put forth.
Great thinker and metaphysician, St. Thomas Aquinas, wrote probably some of the simplest and clearest proofs for God. They are not only true logically and theoretically, but can be the only answer in the practical sense. St. Thomas got right down to the basics. Not quoting him word for word, but generalizing his notion—he questioned what is basic that we know about the physical universe and life as we know it? Motion. Everything is in motion. This is physics (pre-Newton). Everything in motion has to have a force to set it in motion and keep it in motion. What set it ALL in motion? St. Thomas posits Pure Act. God is Pure Act. And then he waxes philosophically about what is Pure Act. Pure Act is that which set everything in motion. Pure Act is Being. It is also equal to the other universal transcendentals Truth, Good, Unity. The universe did not always exist, but in order for the universe to exist at all Being/Pure Act had to have always existed in order to put in motion all that we, mere creatures, know to exist. So, yes, Being/God does exist. It is no deception.
But perhaps, that answers nothing for you. I know I am no Aquinas. The above little paragraph, I am sure only whets your appetite. You will have to do further study on your own, and find an Aquinas scholar to help with any questions you have. Aquinas has some good proofs for why Pure Act equals Love. Love is the reason that it is important to practice religion.
Further on this subject, when I was a philosophy student at Gonzaga, I took a class on a novelist/philospher Walker Percy. He was a great proponent of semiotics, or study of signs. He said that he looks for the signs from God. He wrote a very good essay called, Why I am a Catholic, in which he pointed to the Jews as a sign. Conquerers have been trying to wipeout the Jews as a race and religion since ancient times. They have been persecuted, enslaved, massacred time and time again, and still they prosper. Historically, they are known as God’s chosen people. If that is not a sign from God, then it is some amazing, awesome coincidence. But, perhaps signs are not enough. They can seem rather childish, easily ignored and misinterpreted.
You may still ask me, “But, what about evolution? How do you account for that?” Well, let me counter with a question. What about it evolution is incoherent or inconsistent with God or the need for religion? The Bible (which is God’s words) claims that God created the heavens and the earth and man, and created man in his own image. It does not say that man looked a certain way; it does not say that man was always the same. Just because at some point humans may have been less intelligent and more animal like in are actions does not mean that we did not have souls—that we could not choose right and wrong—or that we were not stewards of the earth meant to inherit it.
This last weekend during the Liturgy the answer to your very important question dawned on me. “Vanity of vanities!” A great passage from the book of Ecclesiastes was read. I highly recommend reading this book over and over. The passage reads,
“Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill,and yet to another who has not labored over it,he must leave property. This also is vanity and a great misfortune. For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heartwith which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;even at night his mind is not at rest. This also is vanity.” (Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23)
I have frequented this book many times in my studies. It also seems to speak straight to my mind and heart. But, thanks to the brilliant priest and his meaningful homilies more light was shed upon this passage for me. He exclaimed that even the most generous, toilsome, selfless good works are vanity. Everything on earth, everything we do, no matter the meaning we think we are assigning to our lives, it is all vanity! It is all passing. This earth is passing away. Everything we create—great thoughts, monuments, legacies—it will all pass away. Therefore, it is all meaningless.
There is only one way any of this world has meaning. And that is, if it is for the love of God. Because, God is Being. God will always exist. If we do it out of our love for God, putting each action into His hands, for his purpose, then by definition God will give it being, meaning and eternal life. Giving ourselves and what we do over to God gives us all eternal life.
So, if all of this, earth, man, evolution is not for God, if there is not a God, then why. Why do we do anything, if is it all to pass away?
Maybe all of this does not answer your question. At least I have started a reading list for you. I think Journey from the Mind to God, St. Bonaventure, would be a good read on this subject: also, Aquinas Five Ways of God argument (pretty meaty, lots of mental arm flexing), Summa. Prima Pars. Questions 2-12.
As for my faith, it is unshaken. I feel more self-deceived being caught up in daily menal chores than I have ever felt in a day of prayer. If you have ever read the “Meaning of life” quote hidden in Spokane, Washington (which I will not publish, because you have to go read it yourself), then you know what I mean. We all have to live this life and we all have our duties, but it’s those of us who know the “meaning of life,” we, perhaps, can gain a little higher existence, no matter what we endure.
Monday, July 23, 2007
We have been looking for a replacement lid, which with expensive teapots is very hard to find. Anyhow, this weekend we went to a store looking for the replacement and Andrew inquired about the total cost of the teapot. When he heard of the total cost, he was grumpy all over again. I asked, “Are you upset with me allover again?” He said,
“A little. But, that’s all right. It’s just stuff!”
Mostly, I agree with this analysis of the situation. It does help our mental status to think of it this way. But, this mindset can be very harmful when taken too far (See Lancelot, Walker Percy).
Possessions are just stuff
Food is just sustenance
Shelter is just protection
Clothing is just coverings
Transportation is just a way to get there on time
But, with the human quotient these things are meaningful in everyway. Humans are meaningful in everyway.
Possessions – can be gifts from a loved one representing that person’s love; or it can represent something you did, or somewhere you went, a time that changed who you are; they show your personality—outward representations of who you are on the inside. They can define you, or control you. When they are lost, broken, stolen it can hurt you, because it is meaningful to you. They represent you, but they are not you.
Like our teapot, which we are trying to repair—it was a wedding gift from my grandmother. So, to us it represents so much. It represents our marriage union. It represents family and cross-generational bond. It represents all the years of sacrifice and hardship my grandmother went through to one day be able to bestow this memento of her love on her granddaughter. It represents all those good, relaxing times Andrew and I spent together sipping tea and enjoying each other. It represents the warmth and love of marriage, family and our lives. It is not JUST stuff. It’s meaningful.
Food – It keeps us alive, and it can kill us. That is meaningful enough. But, food can represent times you enjoyed family and friends. It can change your mood. It can change your health. It can change who you are. You can learn from food. It can be beautiful. Indeed, it can bring you closer to God. Thanking God for your sustenance. Opening yourself to God’s beauty and grace in all things. This line of thought carries through to clothing, shelter and all that STUFF that carries us away.
We must be careful to keep the meaning of the stuff, but to not be carried away with it. Our marriage is what it is with or with out the teapot. We will still drink tea and enjoy each other without the teapot. I know that my grandmother cares about me, even if she had not given us the teapot. But, it is a meaningful representation of love. It is a helpful reminder every time we use it. It is a sign.
All this stuff signals to us the meaning in humanity.
Friday, July 20, 2007
“Mama Don't Preach: Thoughts on Respecting Parenthood Decisions,”
What a poorly written, poorly argued article by Amy Reiter. I honestly cannot believe that this was published. Yesterday morning this article was featured on MSN.com. I did a little searching and was surprised to find that this article was originally published fours years ago. It is obvious that it was pushed forward because it is a controversial topic and because the article itself was extremely offensive. The gist of her article was to say that parenthood is not all that it is cracked up to be. Therefore, society should not pass judgement or put pressure on those who choose not to have children.
On her claims about the changing body: I have got news for you lady, your body was going to change any way. Funny thing, as you age your body sags, aches and changes into one that is horrifically unrecognizable—childfree you might be saved a few stretch marks. In fact, for women who do not have children they are at much greater risk for deadly, debilitating, painful diseases than childbirth will ever cause. Most can be avoided simply by doing what nature intended—have a child. Diseases that include, endomitriosis, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer (a whole host of female reproductive and endocrine diseases). Since your body is going to age anyway, you might as well have a loving, life-long companion, a bundle of joy, to comfort and care for you despite that your body is decaying.
On the physical act of giving birth: She discussed a few women who had complications. Yes, giving birth can be dangerous. That is why you do it at a hospital. Some of today's birth complications are avoidable. Caesarean birth numbers are way up. Part of this is in preparing your body and mind for childbirth with exercises, which have been proven to help. Part of this is because more people are choosing to wait way past their childbearing prime, which 16-27 years of age. But, also many women are opting for labor inductions, which increases your chances of Caesarean birth by fifty percent. Although, when it comes down to it a lot of complications cannot be avoided, but with modern medicine they do not have to be permanent like the urination problem that was discussed in the article.
On her claims about social life: Your social life is not over, only changed. Moms enjoy meeting with other moms and talking about family life. I don’t know about you, but I do not know too many people who are obsessed with being able to go out for a drink, or a ballet whenever they will. It is not as though that never happens anymore when you are a parent. It just takes planning—getting a baby sitter. But, I am sorry you, Amy, were inconvenienced by your child.
On career: Women used to stay home and for good reason. This society has become very unfriendly to the natural composition of family. In the past, all women were home, at least sometime in their lives, with the kids. Women had a natural sorority with other mothers—they had strong friendships, sharing child care and mothering tips.
While I think it is good for women to go out and seek the careers they desire, for many, there is an equal desire to have a family at the same time. It is difficult to juggle both, but a vast majority of women in America do it. In Australia, they make provisions for mothers with careers. There is extended maternity leave and parttime hours for mom’s with young children. Australia recognizes that the children will eventually go to school and will not always need around the clock care.
On her claims about selfishness: Face it. It is selfish to not want to have children because it might inconvenience you; because, you might have to think about someone other than yourself; because, you have to make sacrifices; because, you cannot do as you please whenever you want; because, you might have to share you money with another person. These are all very selfish unChristian views. I do not care if you are not Christian. Regardless of creed we are a caring, charitable society.
On her claims that you won’t be lonely: You will be lonely. Maybe for most of your life you can fill your days with work and friends. But, the fact is that most of your friends will start families and will not have time to keep you company. They will want to spend time with other families. Even if you maintain friendships with other childless people, will those people care for you and visit you in your old age, when you are unable to do as much as you used to?
It is also interesting the people choosing to not have children are some of the smartest, goodlooking, well-educated, well-mannered, wealthy people. With so many good attributes you would think you would want to pass those along not only to another person, but all of culture and society benefits from such people.
People who marry and choose not to have children are missing out. They miss out on making their mark on the future. Progeny carry not only your genetic makeup, but also your ideas, things you taught them, family tradtions. You will carryon in them. The Biblical Jews often tried to have as many children as possible, because that is the only way they believed they would live on forever.
The facts are that there are so many GOOD reasons to have children and sooner rahter than later. That is why so many people “preach” as the author would say. And all the author, Amy Reiter, could offer was a few flimsy, self-centered arguments (I mean whines). I do not mean to judge those who for some reason or another have found themselves waiting to have children. It is not always ideal, but it is important to someday have kids; and the earlier better.
To make a long story short, I think you, Amy, are in a small minority. And just because all your friends agree with you does not mean you are right. Most people become friends with people who will agree with them, that is why they are friends.
It is important to not judge your friends for not having kids. There maybe a deeper problem physically or mentally. Or, also because people make mistakes and it is not your place to tell them they have made a mistake. You can encourage them to choose better. But, I do not think it is okay to tell people it is okay not to have children so that you can have all the shoes, vacations and party nights that they desire. That’s empty. In the time those things will become void of meaning.
The reason you are here reading this is because our ancestors procreated. Remember that for our ancestors not having children was not an option. Not just because they did not have birth control (there are recorded ancient birth controls), but also because we need our offspring to survive as individuals and as a culture, society, race.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
today between five and six in the afternoon,
when Andrew asked me for my hand—
then I was thinking about signals that could not connect.
It was a thought about Andrew and myself.
And I felt how difficult it is to live.
That night was terribly hard for me,
though it was a truly glorious mountain night,
and full of nature’s secrets.
Everything around seemed
So very necessary
And so in harmony with the world’s totality,
only man was off balance and lost.
Perhaps not every human being,
But I know for certain that I was.
So today, when Andrew asked,
“Would you like to become my life’s companion?”
after ten minutes I answered, “Yes,”
and after a while I asked him if he believed in signals.
Quote from The Jeweller’s Shop
By Karol Wojtyla
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
of life each and every day,
and in the things you say,
It’s not in reaching heights or fame,
It’s not in reaching goals that all men
seek to claim.
Success is being big of heart,
Success is being faithful
Success is in your teammates, your family,
and what they learn from you,
Success is having character in everything you do."
Thursday, June 21, 2007
When I was growing up my mom always said, “Someday when we’re rich…” As a child I believed that someday we would be rich, or we would “get ahead.” I believed it like a child believes in the Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus. But, it took me a bit longer to let go of this fantasy.
One day when I was still a teenager, maybe seventeen, my mom and I were standing in a long line at the airport waiting to check in to our flight. It was one of those pull your hair out, drive you mad, long lines. We began to get a little impatient and kept watching First Class passengers check in at the short line, which was not even a line, because they did not have to wait. My mother unhappily started in, “Won’t it be nice when we’re rich someday and we fly first class.” I turned to her and said,
“No, Mom, I have accepted the fact that I will always be standing in the long line. And I am okay with that.” It was at that moment, at seventeen years old, standing in a painfully long line, that I realized, since most of us will always be standing in the long line, I had to accept this fact, not let it frustrate me, get me down, and have patience with life; or I could let it swallow my good nature; or I could deceive myself by saying, “Someday…”
Being self-deceived is never okay. Acceptance and patience with your “lot in life” is key. I know why people do bad things. They are not at peace with the woes and struggles of life—they cannot accept that struggle is a part of life. The old adage, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” is foolish. That assumes that life also handed you sugar and the other tools to make the best of the situation. Sometimes you just get lemons. So, perhaps it is best to learn to eat the lemons just as they are, bitter and all. Let that experience make you stronger and more patient with life. Perhaps one can even learn to admire the taste. You will not be eating lemons every moment of life. It will help you to appreciate the “sweetness” of life and so much more. And if life never hands you sweetness, at least you have become accustomed the taste of lemons.
This may seem like an awful way to look at life—to never hope for more; to not hope for the very best out of life; the pick yourself up by your own bootstraps American attitude. But, I have learned that very few people stand in the short line. That's why it is so short. If my parents, after fifty years, are not standing in the short line, I too will probably not be standing in the short line at that age. It makes life all the more intolerable to long for something that will never be—It is tragic to fail to appreciate what you have been given—always waiting and hoping for more.
The point I am trying to make with long lines and lemons metaphor is this: There is humility and character building in these experiences. I have learned that I do not need to stand in the short line to be happy. When enduring tragedy, hardship, strife, I know that the pain will not last. The taste of it is not so bitter to me. When I say my prayers at night, I do not hope to someday be rich, but count the tiniest blessings in my gratitude and praise. I am thankful I had food today and that I could pay my bills. I am grateful I have a safe, comfortable place to live. My joy overflows to kiss my husband each day and watch our infant son grow into a beautiful person.
And should I find myself in a situation like Job, in which this life of exile has left me with little more than a scrap of cloth to hide my shame, I shall bow even lower to the Lord God. I shall cling greater to every prayer and join every liturgy. Because, when this life cannot even offer me lemons, I still have my place in the universe granted to me by the Creator. That place is my own personal “short line.”
Posted by Renee Clayton at 2:07 PM
Thursday, June 14, 2007
He explained to me that having child was quite a revelation, because he realized that when God created us in his own image, procreating offspring is part of God’s image. God gave us the ability to also procreate in our own image—a child of our own--a person in our own image. In having a child of our own we are fulfilling the potential God instilled in us. We become closer to God in this act. It helps us to understand better about God’s love for us, because we can relate it to our own love for our procreation.
This revelation is a rich one. I could probably go on and on about this. But, all that is important is that the ability to procreate is a great gift. It is a gift highly revered throughout the ages and we should remember that it is something to revere and not take for granted.
Posted by Renee Clayton at 2:27 PM
The story about work – About eight weeks ago our receptionist got a divorce and decided to move back to Indiana where her family lives. Ever since then another secretary and I have been covering receptionist duties along with our regular work. That means answering phones, making coffee, taking care of faxes among other things. It is very hard to get work done when answering the phone every few minutes, which is why it is the receptionist’s job and not mine.
Then there are the things that regularly distract me from getting stuff done. Like transcription, every time the big boss, the executive, has to write a letter he dictates it onto a recorder. Then I have to transcribe it. He does this almost everyday he is in the office (three or four days a week). I have to drop everything right then and transcribe, because he usually needs it right then. And it’s not always mere transcribing. He’s an old Texan so he has all these old sayings like, “Too much sugar for a nickel.” That does not sound professional and sometimes he does not make any sense to me and I have to divine what he means and then change it. And then he comes back and tells me what I have written is, “Too much sugar for a nickel.”
Other things that distract me: Three times a day I stop and for 15-20 mins. I make a little “mommy made snack” for Alexander. I try to do work during that time as well, but I would say about half the time I cannot. Every morning I check my work email and my personal email. The personal email always gets me distracted. Or I will just go to check out the headlines on the internet, just to make sure nothing big has happened that I should know about. For example, in my profession, it is important to know that Coach Bo Schembechler passed away. Although, it is not my job to know that information. But, sometimes when I go to check the headlines I find myself reading the entertainment gossip, or surfing the internet. Sometimes, I am tired and zoned out from working fulltime, being a wife and mother and breastfeeding.
So here are some tips that will hopefully get me back on track.
Tip # 1 – If your work requires a lot of interruptions you are probably not going to get much done, i.e. being someone else’s secretary you are probably going to be interrupted a lot.
Tip # 2 – Write stuff down and finish what you are doing before you move onto the next thing. And if you cannot finish it, write it down to finish it later.
Tip # 3 – If you need to get stuff done, do not open the internet.
Tip # 4 – Try to take minimal breaks including bathroom breaks. I say this as I have just downed an 8 oz. cup of tea, a 16.9 oz. bottle of flavored water and a 6 oz cup of coffee, all before 10:00 a.m., which has led to four trips to the restroom within the hour. Why I thought that was a good idea, I cannot tell you.
Tip #5 – Don’t sweat the small stuff. If it’s been done wrong and you have to do it again, just do it and do it right. It’s more professional. Being professional, though stuffy, boring, and stressful, is the right thing to do. You have to have a little pride in the work that you do, whether you like doing it or not.
The story about the finances – Well, it’s a pretty simple story. Andrew gets paid a stipend during the school year, but he does not receive anything in the summer. We have taken on quite a few extra expenses since Alexander’s birth: Alexander’s health insurance, a second car payment and insurance for that car, daycare, and diapers. Andrew has not had much luck with getting a job and it’s been a bit frustrating. Now the money is running out and it’s time to figure out how to pay for things. We are taking Alexander out of the daycare. This should mostly cure our problem until the fall. Andrew’s job is 4 a.m. – 8 a.m., so it does not overlap with my job and he can watch Alexander. I think Alexander likes the routine he has at daycare and the opportunity to play with other kids. So, it will be a little bit of an adjustment for both Alexander and Andrew. Then we will need daycare again in the fall. That’s the stressful part. His place probably will not be open at the daycare in the fall and we have to find another place for him. It keeps me up at night, but I am sure things will work out for the best. I am just going to have faith.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Andrew and I were discussing all these facts and I suddenly exclaimed that I do not understand people who do not want a family, or are hesitant about starting a family—have standoffish opinions about having children. Recently, I had a conversation with a couple who were not sure they were ready to start a family. Not that they did not want children, they just had the attitude tht most young married couples have these days. They wanted to spend a few years married, work a little on their careers, make sure they had enough money and so on. One major thing in their minds was that they could not see themselves as parents yet. These are all very common notions amongst newly married couples today. As opposed to sixty years ago when young married couples could not wait to have children and tried very hard to do so.
Initially, Andrew and I thought it would be best to wait to have children until he was finished with his PhD. I mean graduate students are not known for having the resources to support a family. But, we also did not want to wait too long. I think that many people would say that we have started a family too soon. But, that is what people also said about us getting married right out of college—too young, too soon. But, how can they know when it is the right time for us? I cannot think of a more natural and coherent progression of our lives. Andrew and I are very fortunate to be two very practical people. We were not caught up in a purely physical relationship nor were we struck dumb by fanciful idealistic views of each other and our relationship. Therefore, it was quite natural for us to grow up, become friends, leave our families and naturally assimilate into our own family.
At some point in the first year of our marriage, as our love for one another grew, our fears of having a child before we were capable of caring for one disappeared. Of course, not knowing what to expect, there was a little trepidation. However, now that we are amidst diapers and high chairs, we can honestly say that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
In our conversation yesterday, Andrew began telling me that in having a child he realized that it is the most important thing you can do (I hope that Andrew will take a little time explaining this in the blog as he did to me yesterday). It is more important than your career or school. It is the greatest thing to be able to procreate, to love someone, to love someone who is of your flesh and of your spouses flesh—forever united, and to teach the young, to have a special bond, to change and add to the world with your offspring, and to do it now rather than later. If you wait until later, you may never get the chance. The sooner you add to your family the more time you will have to spend with them. So, again, I do not understand those who do not want children and, or want to wait to have them.
Needless to say, we had great day being a family yesterday.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
In light of recent emails from mothers seeming to need support, for that is what La Leche League is—support, I offer these profound words that I came across recently. After reading this I certainly felt affirmed as mother.
“In May 1995, Pope John Paul II encouraged breastfeeding in comments to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He noted, ‘two major benefits to the child: protection against disease and proper nourishment.’ Then he added: “In addition to these immunological and nutritional effects, this natural way of feeding can create a bond of love and security between mother and child, and enable the child to assert its PRESENCE AS A PERSON through interaction with the mother.”
Pope Pius XII believed that character building started at the breast.
So you see, my friends, as mothers, we have a trying road to travel, but we are already giving our children everything thing that is needed by virtue of the womanly art of breastfeeding.
I am a working mother and, as many of the working mothers can sympathize, there is a great deal of guilt not rearing your child yourself at home. However, we who have chosen to breastfeed in these modern times of excessive use of formula will find that we are giving our children a great deal more nurturing than we can ever know.
I hope all who take the time to read this will step back and not sweat the small stuff, but take pleasure and pride in this art we have mastered. I hope this helps you all in some small way.Respectfully,
Monday, May 21, 2007
“Ever since Plato's Allegory of the Cave, people have sensed that odd things go on at the archetype level of consciousness.” http://urbansurvival.com/simplebots.htm. (you must check out this site).
Okay you can call me crazy, call me a conspiracy theorist, or call me gullible, but whatever I am I found this fascinating and a little bit terrifying.
Did you know that the History Channel shows their most titillating programming from ? I started watching the History Channel quite frequently during the middle of the night feedings when Alexander was first born. That aside, last night I watched a program called “Doomsday:
The modern prophet is the one that I found most appealing and convincing. This prophet is a computer program. The program was initially designed to predict stock market happenings. The way it works is it scans the whole of the internet picking up phrases here and there to collect data on the global collective consciousness. It scans the whole world wide web and every language. It is heavily based on the way we use language and what we are thinking. Then it uses what we are thinking to make market predictions.
They discovered it was coming up with more than market predictions. Supposedly it predicted the 9/11 attacks, the
The following website explains a little bit about this project http://urbansurvival.com/simplebots.htm. The link points to a
A lot of this makes sense to me. Let’s take the prediction of the nuclear war in late 2008 or early 2009. I can understand this prediction. In the past year several nations such as
Do I believe it? It’s plausible. It’s frightening. At first I thought to have to live through this, or to die in a doomsday event is a very menacing thought. But it was late at night when I was watching this television program and I was halfway in the dream world. This morning when I woke up I saw that the world is exactly as it should be and doomsday 2012 is probably not how it is going to happen for us.
As a Catholic, I was raised to live everyday as though it were my last. I realize that today, this moment, more than any other in my life I need to be in Grace with God. It is this time that I need to hold truest to my faith. And the same is true for the next moment I live. I have learned to have faith in God’s
Posted by Renee Clayton at 9:41 PM
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
At first I thought, oh yes, this is very logical. I have heard the advertising saying, “Sex sells.” I have heard the broadcast news saying, “If it bleeds, it leads.” These are the things that get consumer attention. But, then I began to think. There is nothing logical about heeding and falling to our animalistic urges. It is one thing to say that I am not going to invest in or buy products that contradict my Christian values. It is quite another to cogitate why.
For one thing, as a human, it is beneath me to fall prey to such temptations of my animal spirit—the urgings of evolution gone by. As humans it is our great gift to be able to discern—to make choices against our animal nature—in other words, our great gift is free will. Free will is something that is beyond animal nature. It is an attribute of humanity in which we can choose against the animal within for a higher cause—the “right” cause. And it IS our DUTY to choose rightly. We are the stewards of this planet.
This is a turning point for me, and for you and for all consumers. The idea of sin stock made me uncomfortable. I thought, I would not put my money into sin. But, I am sure I already do daily. It is the little things I chose. It is important to not merely consume because it is what our animal urges tell us to do. We should not invest in “sin stock,” watch morally reprehensible television (I guess my television programming is going to have to change) or partake in any activity against virtue. Do not claim that these sin stocks are what make the world go round. That excuse is not good enough for humanity. Use your free will to determine and choose what is virtuous. It is our great gift to be able to do so!
Put your money where your mouth/heart is. Be responsible for how you consume and spend. Maybe you will not make it rich investing in the virtuous stocks. But, that is not what Christ taught anyway. Choose virtuous business, etc., because it is the right thing to do and perhaps it will make an impact on tomorrow. Rome was not built in a day. It was built one brick at a time.
And whatever you do not be fooled by the almighty dollar.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Sunday, May 13, 2007
The groom, David, cried all through his vows and Katie just smiled. You could just hear in his voice that he thought he was the luckiest guy in the world to be marrying her. He obviously loves her very deeply. I will certainly be praying that this is a happy and holy marriage.
But, the big story is when the bride almost lost her dress. They were going to drive Katie from the location where she was getting dressed to the area of the wedding. They loaded her up on the vehicle (it was like a John Deer Gator – Kind of like a golf cart) and as one of the groomsmen said he could see this was going to be bad. Her gorgeous white dress flowed off the sides of the vehicle and as it started to moved the dress was caught under the wheel and tore the back half off. The groomsman went sprinting across the property to her location to her aid, but as he put it, not that he could do anything. Then the mother of the bride followed suit of the groomsman. It is quite something to watch a finely dressed fifty year old woman go sprinting across a field. Luckily the bride’s maids, and that is what they are there for, not just to look pretty, worked magic safety pinning that dress back to exactly the way it looked before the mishap. The wedding went on and no one was the wiser about the dress.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
I think many Americans share my experience of hearing the same New Testament stories over and over. We have heard them so many times that we start to lose the sense of what miraculous events these are. They have become well-known fairy tales, tales of magic, tales of a very good and noble man. However, if the New Testament does not make you quiver, shutter, tremble, feel humble, enlighten you every time you read it, then it might be prudent to ask how
Yesterday I read this passage:
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:1-7
As horrible as it is to admit, I found this passage very mundane, but why? I have never seen such a miracle, but I am sure that this is an act that the Lord, Creator, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, could perform.
One thing is that I have read this one and heard it many times. Someone comes to Jesus with a problem. He teaches them all a lesson and then solves their problem. Oftentimes it is in an unexpected way, a humble way, or he uses divine powers. Ooo, that’s some magic trick, Jesus. (I’m going to be struck down right now. Keep going maybe I will redeem myself.)
Another thing, even when I was a child, I thought it illogical that this man’s malady would be caused by sin. I would hate to think that if I had cancer, or woke up blind that the cause was my sins, or someone else’s. Where did those people get that? I would think that we would all be crippled in many ways if we shared the sins of our fathers and were crippled each time we sinned personally.
Oh, how wrong I am to initially think very little of this passage. I especially thought very little of it because, plain and simple, I have heard it before—I was desensitized to its meaning. I saw this passage on www.byzcath.org and it was followed by this teaching:
St. Ambrose of
Blow me away, St. Ambrose! This short passage was so rich I probably could not handle it. How could I have forgotten that this is not a silly fairy tale, or a mundane act from a man that can cure anyone He touches? No, this was pure Act, pure Good, pure Truth, an act of Divinity being imparted on a man who, sin or no sin, suffered in this world of exile, in which we are not yet saved from sin.
Constantly, Jesus Christ redeems us sinners. He redeemed this man and reminded us of many other things (1) We are created by Him (it can be so easy to forget that in the workings of daily life) (2) We can receive eternal life (3) We must live a sacramental life passed down to us from Christ himself through his own ministry, which was given to the Apostles. Lastly, we are redeemed daily through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Friday, May 11, 2007
I feel that I have been able to grieve properly. By that I mean I have been going through the healthy psychological process that helps one to move on. But, it has not been a year yet since the day he died and I expect there will be days like this. I do not want to even think what my parents are going through right now.
Psychological processes aside, I cannot imagine what the despair in the loss of a loved one would be like without faith. Yes, I am sure that for any normal individual one will recover from the loss whether there is belief in God, faith and hope. But, what a miserable time it would be. It was hard enough being faced by the death of my brother. It was great comfort to hear the priests say, “Life has not ended, only changed.” Knowing what a good person Adam was, I do not think that he was out of grace with God. I truly believe that God gave him a chance to prepare himself for coming into the light. I truly believe that when I say prayers that they are heard by a saint in heaven. Knowing that he is with our Creator, who created us out of His Love is a tremendous comfort. I learned that it is in our suffering that we are closest to God.
All year long I have been thinking about “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. (The best novelists are those who can observe life and translate it into words.) He described grief so well and how one might feel toward God and faith in this situation. I do not have a copy of this book at hand, so I cannot include any specific quotes. But, he described how when his wife died, he could not remember what she looked like accurately, because he had seen her so many times from so many angles that it was now all a blur--a combination of it all dancing in his head. The best way he could remember her was in a picture--still, from one angle--and that made him angriest of all. That is not the way he wanted to remember her.
Similarly to C.S. Lewis' experience: On the way home from Adam’s funeral, on the plane, I sat clutching a little white Bible with name monogrammed in silver on the cover, and in it I had stuffed several eulogies people in my family had written, the programs from the funeral, a prayer card that had Adam’s birth-death and a quote (Wisdom 1-6 & 9), a print out of eight of Adam’s poems, and a few pictures. Andrew and I had been doing Sodoku puzzles. We had finished one and were taking a break. I set the Bible down on the tray in front of me and a few things fell out. I could hardly bear to look at them. I was so mad at the sight and I began to crumble inside. I panicked and thought, “This is all I have left of him! These little scraps of paper, this is all I have to hold on to! I have my memories, but those fade and change. These are the only material things I have!” It was quite a moment of terror in my heart, the same as the Sunday morning my mother called and said, “Adam is missing.”
“Only the good die young.” That is so true. Adam was so amazing. He accomplished so much and had some very deep thoughts to pass along to us all. He was destined to be a great poet and a great diplomat. I am so grateful he took the time to write down his thoughts. He had such a unique and beautiful way of thinking. He is greatly missed.
Happy Birthday Adam!