Change Is Good

“The framers of the constitution meant for it to be continuously updated,” my 11th grade son said at last night’s late-night dinner. “Jefferson and them would’ve thought it was a joke that we still have the right to bear arms and all that.”

This shocked me. Is not the constitution like the bible — holy, sacred, untouchable? Maybe when we lock up our books instead of live them, we lose our self determination. We entrust our happiness to people who wrote documents hundreds of years ago. And not realize we have powers ourselves.

“Other countries amend their constitutions all the time,” my son told me.

I thought of South Africa – in my lifetime – my adulthood, no less – it has revised its constitution to make it more inclusive, more just. The South African constitution has allowed gay marriage, abolished the death penalty, and guaranteed the participation of women and immigrants.

Thank you, South Africa and Nelson Mandela!

I was thinking about all this while I was stuck on a subway bound for New Work City Chinatown. On my iPhone I read the St. Paul and St. Andrew Advent email message from my friend Peggy. She advocated for the United Methodist Church to continue to grow and find new ways to love one another. Like new life on a tree, religions could include and love everyone, regardless of how or who they love.

Beautiful, living, and valuable books and sacred institutions, like religions and marriages, must grow too. Or whither and die.

Today’s daily prompt is about learning. I am lover of learning. I am especially curious on how framers and faith leaders write sacred books and readers read them.

I love learning about happiness and rewiring myself to have a happy life, or at least a meaningful life, given challenges which include patience around my husband’s chronic illness.

Let’s seize our right to grow, even in our constitutions. Let’s seize the day.

5 Things on a Deserted Island

My five favorite things are:

  1. coffee
  2. my journal
  3. my bike
  4. my iphone
  5. books (on kindle or paperbound)

But if I had to live on an deserted island, I know I’d have to take one more thing — sunscreen. Because my dermatologist would yell at me more than she already does if I showed up at my twice-yearly appointment with even more sunspots.

In terms of non-things on my island, (in addition to my immediate family, of course), I’d also want to take my book club and my writing class because we never seem to run out of things to say about what we write or read.

I’d also like to take Manhattan to my desert island because it is a treasure trove of beauty, especially on a foggy day like today.

Man, today was bea-ut-i-ful — so perfect for a bike ride through Central Park. Scroll down for a few more pics.

On a writerly note, I was going to post a memoir piece about my Norwegian grandmother that I wrote in the my Monday night writing group, but suddenly it felt too personal. Any way, come to a writing workshop if you want more personal writing. Check out the workshops at:

Central Park leaves
This whimsical art installation of Eight Giant Red Snails from the Galleria Ca ‘d’Oro and Villa Firenze Foundation as part of the REgeneration Art Project.
Any place more beautiful than Central Park on a foggy day? I don’t think so.
He da man, Shakespeare in the Park

the year in photos

december,  the event of a thread, art installation by Ann Hamilton

weekly challenge: pick the best pictures from your 2012. have the pics tell everyone about your year.

I shot all of these with my iPhone 4S and a few I tweaked with filters on instagram.

november, manhattan street
november, on my way to a lunch date, but stopped at this 53rd street public space
late bloomer
october, van cortlandt park, the bronx
september, back to school
september, back to school
august, duke university, working with united methodist women
august, duke university, working with united methodist women
july, adirondacks, cold spring bay in lake champlain
june, school of mission, george fox university, portland, oregon
june, school of mission, george fox university, portland, oregon
may, a get-away trip to the jersey shore, painted a little
may, had a get-away trip to the jersey shore, painted a little
april, watched little league in the north meadow, also watched cross country, swim, soccer, basketball, track
april, watched little league in the north meadow, also watched cross country, swim, soccer, basketball, track
april, cherry blossoms in central and riverside parks
april, cherry blossoms in central and riverside parks
march, siesta key, spring break
march, siesta key, spring break
february, the view from my office
february, the view from my office
february, times square
february, times square
january, new year's day walk with jolain
january, new year’s day walk with jolain

A Photo A Day

Just about every day I have posted a photo on Facebook or on Instagram. A year later, I’m not sure whether I’m going to stay with my #photoaday habit.

But I have learned a lot. And I offer these guidelines, inspired from a workshop given years ago by my brilliant colleague, Paul Jeffrey. Check out Paul’s blog at Global Lens to see how a pro does it.

  • Get close.
  • Get far.
  • Get personal.
  • Get simple.
  • Get high.
  • Get low.
  • Get light.
  • Get dark.

I find nothing more beautiful than an extreme close up of a flower. However, eyes cannot feast on a stamen every single day. So I try to change my perspective.

The Jersey Shore. Give me any shot of water any day and I’ll be happy.

Here are some random examples from the last year.

After I cleaned my NYC kitchen, I posted a picture proudly. People are naturally voyeurs and like a peek into other people’s lives (and kitchens).
What’s ordinary for some people is extraordinary for others. (When I shot this photo, my friend was mortified. she wanted me to be more discreet with my iphone!) Thus, the blur.
Get far. Skylines always make me feel melancholy. (photo credz to my son. I was driving, so I told him, “Hey, take a picture.”)
I find a close up of a flower with an interesting background relaxing.
And when looking for a subject to shoot, I just have to turn around and there are my bored kids. (I shot this at the Easter Parade.)

Living Simply

I was really psyched that my friend Lorenza stopped by last night and my daughters got to meet her.

Lorenza Andrade Smith journeys around North America, voluntrarily homeless, offering kindness and communion to the people she meets. She and I met after the United Methodist Communicators (UMAC) conference last fall. I’m glad she’s loving New York and its beautiful diversity. She has to leave NYC at 5 pm today, arriving in Texas two days later via Greyhound bus.

Lorenza inspires me because of her simplicity, her non-traditional life and her ease with people.

She travels with one backpack and one rolling cart.

photo by Catherine Jones

We talked about Facebook, (of course!). We talked about how we use our phones to take photos. Lorenza talked about having her iPhone stolen at a $3/day hotel in Mexico. We talked about not being able to find Cath’s iPhone somewhere in the house.

We looked at and laughed with Lorenza about her Facebook photo folder, “Tall People and Me.” She may be small in stature but she is a superstar to me.

We talked about camping. And how the kids and I are planning a camping trip to Fire Island in a couple of weeks. We have no idea what we’re doing. We wished she’d come camping with us. She invited us to camp with her on the streets.

After such a nice relaxing conversation, it was time for Lorenza to go. She wasn’t sure if she’d be sleeping again in Central Park. I wondered if Riverside Park might be better. In Central Park, the previous night, they’d turned on big lights and hustled people awake and into the middle of the night. Lorenza thought that was due to the Tony Awards nearby. But I think they do it all the time.

I walked her to the subway station where she was looking for a single woman she’d met earlier. (She can engage in conversations better with women when their men are not around.)

I felt sad to see her walk away from me. I worry about her. This is one problem (of the many) when you love people. You worry about them. (She said she worries about herself too.)

Not long after I returned home, Char said she liked hearing Lorenza’s stories. Even though the stories are not easy to hear — they are honest and inspiring. Stories are what keep us going.

Lorenza connects with people, sometimes by telling stories and sometimes just by listening and laughing.

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