Author Archives: MaryAnn McKibben Dana

Ten for Tuesday: Joy, Inspiration, and Tough Conversations

Here we go!

1. Robert E. Lee Worshipped Here: A Southern church wrestles with its Confederate history.

That church is St. Paul’s Episcopal in Richmond, where I am preaching all week as part of their mid-day Lenten series, a 120-year old tradition. (Wow!) It’s been lovely to get to know these people, and as it turns out, they are featured in Sojourners Magazine this very month about their efforts to come to terms with their past. Article link is above; below is a short video:

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2. Breathe Easy, Repeat.

The alumni magazine of Rice University had a great story about how Rice professors and students have helped saved the lives of preemies in Malawi through a cheap, sturdy CPAP machine made from a simple aquarium pump. Improv at its life-saving best! Proud of my alma mater.

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3. Artist Replaces Billboards with Photos of the Landscapes They’re Blocking

visible-distance-second-sight-my-jennifer-bolande-for-desertx-1When life hands you lemons, err billboards…

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4. These are the top 37 things you’ll regret when you’re old

Number 1 is travel. Some expected ones and some surprising ones.

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5. A Mendelssohn masterpiece was really his sister’s. After 188 years, it premiered under her name.

“Easter Sonata” — a complex four-movement piano composition from 19th century Germany — could only have been written by Felix Mendelssohn.

Or so thought many of the archivists, scholars and musicians who encountered it. The sonata was “masculine,” “violent” and “ambitious,” all the hallmarks of the celebrated Romantic era composer.

Written in 1829, the manuscript of “Easter Sonata” was considered “lost” for more than 140 years, until the original turned up in a French book shop bearing the signature “F Mendelssohn.” The collector who bought it concluded the “F” stood for Felix.

It took yet another four decades and a lot of clever musicological sleuthing, but in 2010 a Duke University graduate student revealed what some had suspected all along: “Easter Sonata” was not written by Felix Mendelssohn, but by his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn, herself a musical prodigy.

Fantastic! Now let’s work on identifying all those “Anonymous” works…

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6. Walls and Wells: A Prayer of Confession

Last week’s NEXT Church National Gathering was as wonderful as it is every year. Many of us were captivated by one of the closing readings, a prayer that turned out to be written by a friend, Shelli Latham. So potent for these days:

Creator of All,
of the mountains that cut jagged and purple against an infinite sky,
of the forests that pulse like a heartbeat with an immeasurable collection
of wiggles and squiggles and colors and calls.
Creator of us – Imago Dei . . . made in the image of God.
And so we busy ourselves with creating too . . .
constructing, building, branding, barricading,
policing the sacred with a limited imagination for you unlimited grace.
And so we pray,
that you might overturn our misguided architecture.
For every barrier that should be a bridge,
for every wall that should be a table,
we pray, O God,
when we build them up,
won’t you knock them down?

Click the link above for the whole thing. Turns out confession really is good for the soul.

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7. Five Self-Care Strategies That Aren’t F***ing Mani-Pedis

There’s nothing wrong with a good mani-pedi, but I loved this article and have been working on putting many of these strategies in place for myself. Wise, with some PG-13 language.

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8. Miniature Displays of Contemporary Urban Buildings by Joshua Smith

Courtesy of Colossal. These are fantastic!

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Uh-oh, that’s only eight links!

I think I’ll let that be enough, inspired by numbers 15 and 23 of the regret article above. Haha.

Have a day filled with beauty and ordinary and extraordinary courage.

 

 

The Five-Minute Journal, Tweaked. Again.

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I wrote a couple years ago about my five-minute journal practice. It’s a morning check in (with optional evening one) that’s short enough not to be too burdensome every day. (Confession: I don’t do it every day.)

A few months later, I wrote about some tweaks I had made.

Well, I’ve tweaked it again. (Improv!)

I made the changes in response to an interview I heard with Evie Serventi on the RunnersConnect podcast. She is a sports psychologist and has her clients do a number of things to get mentally prepared for races. One is to have them check in with themselves each day and write down how they feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I decided this is something worth doing for me. I’m a 3 on the Enneagram, and it’s easy for that type to get focused on productivity and achievement, to the point that we lose touch with our own inner life.

So here is my new five minute journal. (It still only takes about five minutes!)

Check-in
Physically
Emotionally
Mentally
Spiritually

Gratitude
1.
2.
3.

My Enough List for the Day (three things I will do/focus on that will be enough for this day)
1.
2.
3.

Curiosity (something I’m puzzling over or wanting to pay attention to)

An Intention

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And the evening list, which I’ve been very irregular with. Oh well:

Three things to celebrate about the day:
1.
2.
3.

One thing I could have done better

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Photo by Barry Silver via Flickr and used through a Creative Commons License.

Ten for Tuesday

Onward!

1. Liz Climo is an illustrator on the Simpsons, and her cartoons are simply darling:

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2. Bees Are Awesome. This swarm apparently followed a car for two days to try and rescue its queen trapped inside.

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3. The Secret Student Group that Stood Up to the Nazis:

On this day, 74 years ago, three young adults placed their heads beneath a guillotine and prepared to die. Their crime? Speaking out against the Nazis with graffiti and hand-printed pamphlets. Their names? Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst. It was a violent end to a peaceful student movement known as the White Rose—one that used the power of language to resist the horrors of the Nazi regime.

#resist #neveragain

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4. This dude caught a baseball bat as it helicoptered toward him:

In related news, Luis Guillorme is Batman.

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5. Smithsonian Magazine is having a photo contest. Peruse and vote for your favorites here. I love this firewalking one from Binh Duong:

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6. Every New York Times Cover Since 1852. This quick video shows how and when images began to appear in the paper of record. It’s arresting and oddly poignant, to think about all of the news that came and went. We survived all of the things reported there. Perhaps we will survive today’s challenges too.

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7. Eight Changes Made to Richard Scarry Books: to keep up with the times. Love it.

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8. Tilapia to the Rescue!

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9. Your Weekly Wisdom from Mari Andrew’s Instagram: I’m making a habit of this.

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10. The Impact of a Book

A friend posted this to Facebook, a memory from a year ago. I love this art piece by Jorge Méndez Blake.

The-Impact-of-a-Book-Jorge-Méndez-Blake

What book has disturbed your well-ordered life?

 

Monday Runday: From PR to DNS?

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Been wearing my running shoes around the house as I rest and recover.

This Saturday I’m signed up to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon here in DC. It will be my third time running it.

Or… it could be my third time.

It might be?

I’m having trouble with the verbs here, because I’m not sure whether I’ll be at the start line. And if I get to the start line, will I get to the finish line?

Last Tuesday I went out for a six-mile run. Half a mile in, I started to feel a dull ache in my shin, disturbingly similar to the sensation I got eighteen months ago.

Back then, I didn’t know what it was, but little aches and pains happen all the time in running, so I kept going. I logged at least another 25 miles before I ultimately got diagnosed with my tibial stress fracture.

But when you know better, you do better. Last Tuesday I stopped immediately, walked slowly home, and haven’t hit the pavement since. I’ve been icing and rolling, and I’ve done two pool runs (a great non-weight-bearing activity) and a little strength training, but that’s it. I need to rest it if I have any hope of running RnR on Saturday.

It’s an example of the hard thing being the easy thing. It’s really hard for me to put my training on hold and rest, when I really want to run, try it out, or do the hop test to see how things are healing. But the harder thing in the short term is much easier than taking 6-8 weeks off because I couldn’t leave well enough alone.

So I’m doing all the good things I know to do.

But it may still not be enough. I will find out tomorrow, when I go for a test run. And even if tomorrow goes well, 13.1 on Saturday might still be too much.

I was training for a personal record, a PR. Now I’m hoping I don’t get a DNS or DNF–did not start/finish. I’ve had a few DNS’s, most of them when I was injured. I’ve never had a DNF.

Experiences like this can bring to light deep spiritual clutter we didn’t know we had. As a pastor and spiritual companion for all kinds of people, I’ve spent a lot of time with the question, “What did I do to deserve this?” Most of the time, there’s nothing the person did. I don’t believe that if we behave well we’ll get rewarded with a cancer-free life. Kindness to animals or paying our taxes on time doesn’t inoculate us from a job loss or a divorce.

Yet I think deep down, many of us do believe we are rewarded or punished based on our actions. We just don’t realize we believe it until something happens to us and we start casting about for explanations, or maintaining our innocence.

Eighteen months ago, I did a lot of things wrong. It was a perfect storm of ignorance, slightly worn out shoes, too many miles, and cambered streets. So yes–sometimes we suffer as a result of our actions. No denying that.

This time, I didn’t do anything “wrong” in my training. I’ve gone over it all in my mind and am fairly confident I didn’t make any egregious errors. Besides, I came back from an injury, stayed injury free, and ran two half marathons, a marathon (which I PRed) and a Ragnar relay. That’s a success!

Rather than be comforted by the fact that I did everything right, it annoys me that I may be injured anyway. (My annoyance is compounded by mildly injured runners all over the Internet who do stupid things, and yet somehow their bodies let them get away with it more than mine seems to.)

But ultimately, what does any of that matter? Would the fact that I did everything right change anything? Tomorrow’s outcome is gonna be what it is. Sometimes stuff just happens. Things go down that are out of our control.

I hate this, by the way. But it’s reality. I study and write about improv, not because it comes naturally to me, but because it doesn’t–I fight the unforeseen every step of the way, and denial + bargaining is a favorite tool. I did everything right, universe! Shouldn’t that count for something?

No, it doesn’t count for anything.

The only thing that matters in the end is what we do with the stuff life hands us. Where is the Yes-And? That is my question, or will be, if tomorrow doesn’t go well.

If RnR is off, I get to attend a workshop on Civic Engagement with some friends.

Instead of the sprint triathlon in May, I’ll sign up for the aquabike (which sounds like a fun contraption but is just a swim + bike event).

And I’ll take several weeks off, and I’ll start over. Again.

I’m not thrilled about it, but it’s all there is.

Not-Quite-Ten for Tuesday: Book Deadline Edition

The next round of edits for Improvising with God is due on Friday, so I’ve got just a few to share this week in lightning-quick fashion:

1. This quote from George Saunders, shared by my friend Sharon Core on Facebook last week:

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

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2. This image posted by Rachel Hackenberg on Instagram:

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This is #lifegoals.

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3. Pinhole Camera Made from 32,000 Drinking Straws. Because people are fascinating.

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4. Ana Marie Cox’s New Podcast on Crooked Media called With Friends Like These. I haven’t listened yet, but here’s part of the description:

Ana will talk to liberals and conservatives, religious leaders, writers, activists, and people you should know for a show that’s about listening instead of arguing. And this isn’t just about figuring out why some dude in Michigan voted for Trump. Though that’s part of it. We should figure that out. It’s about actually exploring division instead of putting it in side-by-side boxes on television, whether it’s a conversation about politics or religion, race or gender, or belief itself. Ana has accrued a bunch of unlikely friends in politics, and she has strong disagreements with those friends, like this one guy whose name rhymes with “whoa far borough” for example.

*Joe Scarborough.

The first episode is with a Wisconsin pastor who talks about how his community voted for Obama… before voting for Trump. Now doesn’t that sound interesting? And maybe even a little healing to listen to?

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5. 17 Times Texas Was Completely Freaking Badass

A little Lone Star braggin’, but this entry relates to the previous one, actually. Consider #5:

5. When New Hope’s mayor, Jess Herbst, came out as transgender and the extremely conservative town of 600 was like *shrug*.

I heard Ana Marie Cox interviewed about her new podcast, and she talked about the disconnect between how mean we can be to one another online v. how much we take care of one another in our physical communities, even across political divides. Certainly there are exceptions to this, but I’ve found it to be generally true. She said, if we were as nasty to one another face to face as we were online, maybe there’d be no hope for us. But we’re not. So there is hope.

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What has inspired you this week?