Monday, August 29, 2016

Love Prayers

I was texting with my sweet and wonderful gal pal Jill recently, after she reached out to tell me she was starting to read a book I had recommended.
As per usual, we used the conversational opportunity to fill each other in on our writing progresses (or, as is often the case on my end, lack thereof).
I told her that I haven't touched my book in ages, and that I'd hardly been blogging, either.
But then I told her that I've been writing prayers for church and that's been rewarding.
"I love that," she wrote. "You can blog those."
So, dear Jill, here are my latest prayers, which I got to read aloud at worship yesterday. (They also let me sing in the band (without auditioning me first -- that is the DEFINITION of trust) and host a pool party in the afternoon. I've never been so genuinely pleased to be so involved in a church family).
The worship intention was love, and our Scripture for the week was from First John. Feel free to pray along, if you desire.
When it is easy to love, may we keep on loving. When we prop our feet in each other's laps and wish to be nowhere else. When we fall in love on the first date. Keep us in your light that no darkness can ever touch. Let us turn to you in awe for creating so many people whom we can adore without trying.
When it is hard to love, push us to try. For those people we simply don't like, God, let us recognize them as your little lambs. Teach us to love without limits, to un-grit our teeth and give some time to our enemies. Soften our edges, and help us to recognize that sometimes the unpleasantness in a person in the result of something unpleasant in their life.
When it is fun to love, may we remember the source of all our joy. We thank you for pools to splash in, concerts at which we can scream obnoxiously, and people who make us just lose ourselves in laughter. May we always acknowledge You, and the life you have given us -- the life that keeps on living.
When it is painful to love, place balm upon our wounds. When the people we love the most are no longer in this world, may we feel Your giant hand upon our back, your steady assurance that we are not alone, even when we feel we most certainly are. When a partner, friend, or colleague lets us down -- let us forgive and draw more from the bottomless reserves of love.
When it is beautiful to love, keep our eyes wide open so we don't miss a thing. We thank you for the ocean, for perfectly chiseled mountains. For roses that burst from cracks in the hot concrete. For violin solos. For clouds that look like animals. To love You is our utmost achievement; may we count ourselves grateful that we can love your creation, too.
When loving sets us free, make us free indeed. When we can give praise in an unhappy job, when we can feel peace as one in pain passes into death, fluff our feathers so we can keep on flying. Let us feel your love draped around us like a cloak. May we fall in love with You. Over and over, may we become smitten with the One who loves us most.
In everlasting love, may we say together: Amen and Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My "glittering" life and how it really makes me feel

All right, Friends, here's the deal.
I need to work my chops again.
I want to sit here and type something awe-inspiring for you, but to be real, I'm out of practice with blogging and writing of any sort, so I'm not sure what's going to come of this here sitting-in-a-chair-and-typing session.
So please, if you're interested, sit here with me, be patient, and keep reading to the point where hopefully I'll say something that affects you positively.
(If this doesn't sound like a fun time to you, feel free to exit the premises now.)
OK, let's see.
Well, we can start with this: I've been in a weird place lately.
In social situations, I've found myself to be, for the most part, happy. But when I look around and examine all the smiles and laughter around me, I keep thinking that everyone else is having a better time than I am.
When not in social situations, my mood kind of falls off a cliff.
I find myself in my car alone, just grumpy. Irritable. Unfed? Whatever it is, it's unpleasant. And I sometimes find myself chastising grumpy me: "Bailey, what is your problem? Nothing significant has happened in the last five minutes, or hour, or day, to make you suddenly have 'the right' to stomp around."
All this self talk is very helpful in solving the problem, as you can imagine.
I do recognize that my life is full. In a "too much" kind of way, but mostly (98 percent) in the best way.
I have more friends than I can keep up with. I have a local bar that I love (which is not something to be taken lightly. That can be hard to find.). I have the best, cutest, snuggliest cat. I have the best, cutest, snuggliest boyfriend. I have a church that I just. love. And my love for the arts is never met with a lack of abundant art. Almost every week I am at a concert, a stand up comedy show, a one woman or two man show. Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.
Alex doesn't quite get this, but I do wonder if the constant entertainment is part of my problem.
I wonder, legitimately, if I am supersaturated with EVENTS, to the point that they have lost their novelty. When you see Lily Tomlin and Tegan and Sara and Bonnie Raitt and Steve Martin all within a few months, you're continually raising the bar of what equals "worthy" entertainment in your life.
Or maybe you're not. This is just a theory I'm working with.
I've mentioned this to A a few times, and he says he's not sure how taking a break from all the fun stuff I do would help me to feel more engaged with people (regarding the whole "I think my friends are having more fun than I am" thing).
I told him it's not so much that I think it would improve my ability to engage with the people I love, but rather I think if I took more time to meditate and breathe, to do common things quietly at home, then the occasional trip to the Hollywood Bowl might glitter a little more brightly.
Does this sound valid? Worth testing?
My credit card would argue that it's worth testing, as the entertainment venues of Los Angeles are garnering more money from me than any other establishment in the area.
I talked to my therapist about my irritability, and we came up with some reasons why that might be, reasons I won't share here. But I say that just to let you know I don't think my chronic addiction to concerts is the only thing getting me down.
I think maybe it has to do with expectations, too. Each concert and comedy show I go to, I get excited, People. I don't think that's a bad thing, and I don't know that I should curb my zest for life (because that just sounds like an ill-guided, depressing beyond depressing life choice). But I think there's something to be said for getting sooooooo excited for a legend musician, to the point that no matter how well he or she performs you can't help but be let down according to your own anticipations for their ability to influence the palpitations of your music-loving heart.
This post is quite the downer, wow. I'll try to be more positive in coming posts.
A wise woman named Anne Lamott does say to lower the bar, and I've carried her words with me. She says when you expect less, you have a lesser opportunity to be disappointed.
I believe there is much truth to this. When you just relax and let happen what's going to happen, then you can find unexpected joy. Rather than the alternative, which is expecting everything to look a specific way and then marking down each moment that doesn't live up to your preconceived image of the perfect day or evening.
I don't know where I'm going with all this, but I will say this: Alex and I are going to see Margaret Cho tonight, and I am thrilled.
Years ago I checked out her DVD, "I'm the One that I Want," from the library, and was so pleased with it. I had seen bits of her performances before, but in watching her full set, I was introduced to her depth and her vulnerability. She is not only hilarious, but she is real. Her message in "I'm the One" was downright redemptive. I loved it.
So even if she doesn't live up to my expectations tonight, I am looking forward to being in her presence. She has seen pain and struggle, and she has come out stronger. Further, she decided to tell her tale honestly, and when anyone does that, I have tremendous respect for him or her.
So here we go. In about nine hours, I plan to keep an average bar of expectation with me. I plan to have a tasty cocktail (or a refreshing, light beer) and to sit close to the stage. Let my booty find its mold in that vinyl covered chair. To watch a woman who has been honest for me and other women. To be grateful for her and other women who make the same daring trek in life. For those who speak honestly and hopefully. With humor and heart. May this be our goal every day, when we are grumpy in our cars or clapping gleefully in a giant stadium that pulsates with life-giving music. Even when I am struggling, I will try. Try to find that light. And when I can't feel it in a reckless, teenage sort of way, I will remind myself that it is still there, fixating my eyes on its blinding brightness until it warms me again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Oh ya know, Life.

Anyone else ready for Christmas?
I'm listening to the "Elf" soundtrack and I'm like, "Yeah. I'm ready."
Let it snow let it snow let it snow.
Or not. (Los Angeles).
I'm in a weird state of mind today. And yesterday. And the day before that.
My life is so full and good and happy but I'm just feeling like my insides are struggling.
It's aggravating and disheartening and all that.
My credit card debt is a mess.
My bedroom is a mess.
My car is a mess.
I'm a mess.
I find that I can only focus on a few things lately: sometimes, a game of billiards. Cross stitch. And the cat. I could pet that soft, squishy nugget for hours.
I haven't been reading.
Or writing.
Or cleaning.
Or cooking.
Or doing much of anything, really.
It's aggravating and disheartening and all that.
OK I take that back. It's not that I haven't been doing anything. I've been going to concerts and stand up comedy shows and to karaoke. I've been working out -- SOMETIMES -- and playing Words with Friends and hosting out of town friends. I've been writing prayers for church and reading them and helping with communion.
I've been doing freelance writing and driving to Yosemite and hiking switchbacks that made me want to never return to Yosemite.
I've been drinking beer.
I've been tracking my calories.
I've been getting stressed out. I've been disliking myself.
I've been exploring the vast library of emojis on my new phone and picking just the right ones to express my complicated emotions via text and Facebook post.
So it's not like I'm doing NOTHING. I just haven't been doing a lot of things to make me feel good about myself. To feel fulfilled. To feel like a 31 year old human who does things like CLEAN HER BEDROOM and REMOVE ITEMS FROM HER VEHICLE.
I have to say typing these 300 words has made me feel a little less hateful of myself, even if the words aren't very poetic or moving or whatever.
Well I think that's enough negativity for one post.
Let's look at some photos I've taken on my new smartphone, shall we?
[All but one reader quietly exit the Daily Bailey website to do something more fun and productive.]
A tiny, cross stitched pigeon. He is accompanied by a stitched Big Bird (not pictured).
Bailey surprises the world with smart technology in her very own hands.
Nicholas surprises Bailey with the birthday gift of the decade.
Max takes a bath and looks JUST. CHARMING.
Max lifts his paw and looks like a BALLERINA.
Bailey selects glasses for her newly diagnosed astigmatism.
Bailey practices her makeup skills.
Max crosses his paw and settles in for a snuggle.
Bailey eats a giant burger and then tries to jog.
Bailey and Alex dangle their feet over the pier in Santa Barbara.
Bailey appreciates glittering water.
Bailey appreciates pigeons. (Again.) She may have a problem.
Smoochy smoochy.
Struggling to concentrate.
All right, Friends, I think that's more than enough for now. A bientot! Hugs!