Best Not to Start With the Gestapo

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately, not for a noble reason such as the New Year and trying to better myself, but because, like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, I’m stuck in this compulsive habit of keeping a little psychic notebook of “offenses against Leslie Srajek,” and it gets longer and longer each day.  And I’m not talking about the girl at Panda Express who charges you for “free refills,” or even the bank clerk who–oops!–deposits your paycheck into the wrong account.  Also, this is not to say that I have not made my share of mistakes, because I SO have.

But some people have treated me not so well lately.  If we were in daycare together, they would need to be in time out for the whole day.  Maybe the whole week, with no chocolate Cherrios for snack.  However, like the old blues song says (and what the laws of discretion and good taste dictate), the details of all that “‘t’aint nobody’s business but my own.”  What does matter to all of us, however, is forgiveness.  

Forgiveness mostly sucks, because being angry is SO much easier and less vulnerable.  And if you are a drama queen like me, you enjoy clinging on to your own morsel of pain until the whole world sees how wounded and derserving of love and sympathy and healing and worship you are and …Okay, stop that.  In the end, it’s like Anne Lamott says: not forgiving someone is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.  Also, Annie Lamott has a chapter in Traveling Mercies about forgiveness in which she quotes C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity as saying, “If we really want to learn to how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo.”  

Repulsive, right? You don't want this to be you.

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The Reasons Why We Should Celebrate Poetry in January

January is a confusing month.  First you get the sort of upswing of energy that comes from making it through Christmas, and it’s an emotional, albeit somewhat arbitrary fresh start.  It ushers in the pledging allegiance to the delusions of New Year’s Resolutions, though if you read my post about resolutions, you know my thoughts on that.  But then comes the emotional and psychological downswing of the fact that it’s actually January.  Two more months of winter (if you’re lucky), on top of the insanity of the fact that in your least reliable state of mind you have new self-imposed stuff that you feel like you have to do (if you’ve made resolutions), like lose weight, be nicer, be happier, be more organized, work harder, transform your personality so you fit in with the rest of the world, just generally try to be a more acceptable human being, blah, blah, blah.  And also, it’s cold and gray. 

My personal fantasy about January is that should be declared The Official Month of Freedom.  In other words, you don’t have to do ANYTHING.  Of course, your kids would still go to school and/or daycare, but every adult would receive vouchers for massages, home food delivery, housecleaning, esp. the crap stuff you never get to like the floorboards, behind the washing machine and dryer, and that one spot behind the toilet that you know you have to get to because your mother-in-law would, but you don’t really have the energy or generational self-respect to try.  For a week or two, you would have Staff.  Does anyone agree with me on this?  Should we start a petition?

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Sweet Honey From Old Failures: A New Year’s Post

Events that seem to be surrounded by expectation confuse me, and trigger that fear that I am a few steps off from everyone else.  Not a truthful fear, but a common fear nonetheless, and one the world does little to soothe for any of us.  New Year’s Eve is one of those events for me, for a variety of reasons.  One is that the only thing that has ever made me willing to stay awake until midnight was childbirth. 

Also, social events that last many, many hours, like New Year’s Eve gatherings, are just too much human contact for me.  If you are invited to something that starts at 7:00, you’ve got at least 5 and a 1/2 hours to get through, and I can count on 3 fingers the number of people who I could bear to spend that much uninterrupted time with.  But I think it’s the resolution issue that confuses me the most: to resolve or not to resolve, that is the question.

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Tiny Helpful Things

Sadly, I am currently without a car, which is a profound inconvenience.  Not really because of the obvious loss of something that makes my life easier and more workable, but because I am not in good standing with the State of Illinois with regard to my driving record.  No tickets or accidents for 10 years, then, wham!  A whole lot in a short period of time.  Gabe has become quite familiar with Mama having to talk to the police.  So the inconvenience is that a Bad Thing with regard to my license is hanging over my head, and it won’t be resolved until January.  Not the worst of Bad Things by any stretch, but something that makes my stomach clench from time to time.

The two small, connected cities where I live have what is supposed to be a very good public bus system, and if you are going from one well-populated place that is very close to another well-populated place, this holds true.  And they have nice, friendly drivers, and positive, happy slogans on the sides of the buses.  Slogans like, “It’s a great day to ride the MTD!”  and “Smile!  It’s sunny!”  But if you actually need to get places with the bus, it can be a bit of a problem. 

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Questions (and a little request/challenge)

Okay, so I have something a little different to share with you today.  It seems like it’s two poems, but really it’s two poems that lead to a little challenge that I hope you’ll help me out with.  The poems are very different from each other, but are both about questions.  For this poem, please note especially verse #7 and onward.


if you move carefully
through the forest

like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

that can make
or unmake
a life,

that have patiently
waited for you,

that have no right
to go away.

David Whyte, Everything is Waiting for You 

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Eat, Pray, Have More Tolerance for Other People’s Good Fortune

Happy second Sunday of Advent, my friends!  While I am quite certain that you are not sitting at your computers every morning awaiting the appearance of a post from me, I want to apologize for the missed ones this week.  Again, stomach bugs and sitting for long periods of time don’t seem to go well together.  I definitely miss you!  And I wanted to tell you about something I did this week that I absolutely swore I would not do.  In fact, I didn’t even really swear, I just knew that I did not have the slightest interest in doing this thing, so I barely thought about.  I watched “Eat, Pray, Love.” 

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Keep Calm (or Not) and Carry On

Here is a picture of a print that I have in my office:

You may know it–it became very popular this year, and is supposedly a reproduction of the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster produced by the British Ministry of Information in 1939.  There’s even a Keep Calm and Carry On website where you can order lots of cool stuff.

As one might have predicted, however, the popularity of this poster spawned a multitude of spoofs.  Which is why I also have this postcard in my office as well…

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The Season of Light: An Invitation to a Poetic Advent

There are some special announcements today at From the Heart, and I’m so excited to share them with you!  The first is that, as some of you may remember, this blog started with a project called Radical Lent: A Poetic Approach to 40 Days in the Wilderness.  I had decided last March that as a Lenten practice, I would read a poem each day and then write about it here.  And I invited some people to read along, and they were gracious enough to say yes, and well, the whole thing sort of took off from there.  So here’s the news I’m excited to share: I’ve decided to do an Advent blog called “The Season of Light: An Invitation to a Poetic Advent.”  This project will follow pretty much the same pattern as the Lenten blog: a poem and a post each day during the Advent Season.  Below are some more details (and a request)! 


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Yes, Yes, and a Thousand Times, Yes!

Happy November, my friends!  Now, before I start, I need to say up front that this post is going to upset my mom, who, as my mom and my first official blog subscriber, deserves special consideration.  But you know, I’m over 40 and all, and can decide what to do with my own body, even though my mom always insists on coming into dressing rooms with me and checking things out (don’t deny it, Ma’am–we were in Marshalls together not too many months ago and they ain’t no spacious dressing rooms up in there.  I saw what you got hanging out and you saw what I got).  AND she was going to find out at Thanksgiving anyway, because my sophisticated world-travelling parents are coming to see us out here “on the prairie,” as my father calls it (i.e. one of them there “fly-over” states, so we’re gonna try real hard to pick the straw out our teeth and kick them chickens out the yard so we can all have a good old turkey day together.   But anyway, this is a good story.  So here we go. 

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Transitions & Resilience: “Just do your best, then say ‘Amen'”

Today in Target I had one of those thoughts that I suspect you should probably not say out loud.  For the first time in my life, I thought, “I’m not sure if I should have had kids.”  Since I am not Jennifer Aniston, i.e. since people are not constantly querying me about my desire and motivation to have children, and since my children are already here, I’ve never spent much, if any, time thinking about whether I should have had them.  And I certainly think someone should have had them; I truly believe they add something to the sum of human goodness.  I just don’t know that that someone should have been me.

Me before I had kids

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