The third annual U&U List, full of twists and turns, blessing and curse, presented in whimsical and random order for your year ending contemplation and consideration. (And once you’ve read mine, grab pen and paper and come up with your own!)
- I’m with Her/I’m Still with Her
- Bishop Payne Library/Library of Congress
- Ghost of Christmas Present/Ghost of Christmas Future
- Story District 1st 2nd Tuesday/Story District 2nd 2nd Tuesday
- Unorthodox&Unhinged/Sex&The Single Vicar
- Milk/Almond Milk
- Mulder/David Duchovny
- Whole Foods/Harris Teeter
- Kindle Fire/iPad Mini
- Killer ESP/Killer ESP
- Kind Bars/Dangerously Delicious Pies
- OK Cupid/DC Singles
- Old Town/Capitol Hill
- Priest Associate/Associate for Liturgy & Hilarity
- La Croix/Spindrift
- “Going Clear”/”The Path”
- Caffeine/Half Caf
- Half Marathons/Half Measures
- Lewis Carroll/Christmas Carols
- Alphabetical/Color Coded
- Friend/Femme Fatale
- Sirius XM/Spotify
- Keeping Secrets/Spilling the Beans
- Break Ups/Make Ups
- Wedding Chapels/Baptismal Fonts
- Aunt Joani/Great Aunt Joani
- Nail Biting/Manicures
- Rosary Beads/Meditation Apps
- Head Bands/Head Space
- Fair Trade/Free Trade
- Off the Cuff/Office Hours
- Early Voting/Emigrating
- Blue Glasses/Red Spectacles
- Gray Hair/God’s Highlights
- Possibility/Possibilities Publishing
- God with us/God within us
- Burt’s Bees/Bella Cara
- Out of the Pool/Into the Fire
- Road Tripper/Time Traveller
- Fit to be tied/Wii Fit
- Mood Swings/Climate Changes
- 6:30/Half Past Six
- Ball Points/Felt Tips
- Stuffed Animals/Animal Shelters
- Feel the Bern/Feel the Pain
- Saint Robin (Williams)/Saint Carrie (Fisher)
- “The Tudors”/”The Crown”
- Potted Plants/Fresh Flowers
- Le Pain Quotodien/Carluccio’s
- Victoria’s Secret/Bloomers
- Turtlenecks/Cowl Necks
- Safety Nets/Safety Pins
- Bitches/Bichon Frises
- Krispy Kreme/Sugar Shack
- Amazon.com/East City Bookshop
- Left Turn/”The Right Turn”
- Huntley Meadows Nature Park/Flirtatious Downtown Dog Park
- Hand Dryers/Paper Towels
- E-book/Real Book
- Baby Spinach/Grownup Kale
- Friday Therapy/Wednesday Therapy
- Digestive System/Solar System
- Off Ramp/On Ramp
- Oak Trees/Acorns
- Hipster/Hope Peddler
- Peacock/Like the Bird
- Middle Child/Going Wild
- Star Gazer/Earth Dweller
And I am ecstatically, exquisitely, eternally grateful to the Creator of the Universe, the Very Ground of my Being for each and every day of each and every year.
Each and every day, even if it be the worst day, is a holy day, a gift.
Big blessings be to you and yours in 2017!
1963. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?
Brown courdouroy smocked dress and white puffy blouse. Navy blue polka dot shift and striped Danskins. Parochial school uniform and Peter Pan collars. Mary Janes, saddle shoes, and Keds.
1973. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?
Peasant dresses, halter tops, and army jacket. Denim cutoffs, bellbottom pants, and macrame belts. Parochial school uniform and Oxford cloth shirts. Platforms, flip flops, and saddle shoes.
1983. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?
Pleated skirts and cardigan sweaters. Padded shoulders and tailored slacks. Designer jeans, and tasteful flats.
1993. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?
Khaki trousers, corduroy jumpers, and denim overalls. Cotton turtlenecks, kilts and tights. Embroidered vests and cable knit sweaters. Black flats, brown flats, and tennis shoes.
2003. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?
Target basics and Talbot’s work clothes. Cotton sweats and running suits. Clergy shirts and clerical collars. Random flats, Birkenstocks, and flip flops — in every color under the sun.
And thirteen years on.
2016. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?
Funky tunics and interesting tops. Comfy leggings and skinny jeans. Prints, patterns, and primary colors. Autumn hues and basic black. Dressy dresses and dresses just for fun. Lululemon trousers and button down shirts. Bits of ribbon and bits of lace. TOMS, saddle shoes, ASICS, and a multitude of multicolored flats.
I have both lost and found myself in my wardrobe.
Middle child, parochial school girl, head of the class.
Flower child, high school nerd, and rebel without a cause.
Computer programmer, working mom, sometimes a wife.
Seminary student, kindergarten volunteer, and Del Ray mom.
Parish priest, divorcee, and mostly manic.
Half marathoner, storyteller, blogger, irreverent reverend, and pseudo-libarian.
I have lost and found myself in my wardrobe.
Clothes are the window dressing of the soul. Spiritual expressions of our psyches and personalities. Creative expressions of our passions and our moods.
In my darker days, my wardrobe was all solid colors. No prints. Basic and boring. I would buy three colors of the same pants and the same sweater.
All the better to hide in. All the better to disappear.
Those dark days are long — and hopefully forever — gone.
How do I know?
Because my wardrobe therapist tells me so.
My therapeutic fashion consultant, Stephanie Hernandez, helped me work through my closet issues.
Stephie is a very good friend of my awesome daughter Colleen. Stephie is a young LCSW with a passion for style and an entrepreneurial spirit. She’s the founder of “Look Good, Feel Good” — “a therapeutic approach to finding your personal style.”
A brilliant idea! This bipolar soul signed herself up right away!
Personable, warm, and observant, Stephie first sat down on my couch and we had a chat. I walked her through a “regular day” so she could learn about my bipolar life — both at work and at play. I gave her a one minute tour of my condo and then we took a thirty minute walk through my wardrobe.
And then for the next half hour, we played dress up. Mixing and matching funky and flattering combos, Stephie helped me come up with outfits that I can wear just about anywhere: @ LOC, @EEC, walking Del Ray, or strolling DC.
Working with Stephie made me feel so much cooler and so much cuter than I actually am!
It was very therapeutic.
It was so much fun!
It’s not just a catchy slogan, it’s fashion philosophy.
I recommend Stephanie Hernandez and her new enterprise most happily!
So friends, what’s in your wardrobe?
Note: Also posted on Sex & The Single Vicar: Tales of Ecclesiastical Dating
“It’s a Wonderful Life” is my favorite Christmas movie. In fact, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is my favorite movie period. Not because it is full of holiday cheer, it is not. The 1947 film’s focus is on an attempted suicide. The grainy black and white photography perfectly fits the mood. (The colorized version is an abomination!) The inebriated George Bailey is about to throw himself off a bridge. But before he plunges in, the Angel Clarence beats him to it.
Someone is about to be rescued. Someone is about to sprout wings.
Clarence walks George backwards through his life. Through all the light and all the dark and all the gray, through all the crap and all the joy, through all his years — and it still turns out to be a wonderful life.
“The glory of God is a human being full alive!” – St. Irenaeus, 4th C.
When I was 40, I would have told you that 60 was old.
Now that I am 60, sixty is the new forty. No, let me rephrase that. Sixty is better than that. 60 is like being two rocking 30 year olds. (Within reason, of course!)
And now I am on the verge of turning 61. On February 28th, I turn 61-derful!
Cosmically speaking SpaceTime can stretch; SpaceTime can contract. But the arrow of time travels in only one direction. With each passing year, we grow older. With each passing year, we dig deeper. With each passing year, we live larger. With each passing year, we become who God created us to be.
I no longer see the world through rose colored glasses. I see the world through progressive lenses – beautiful, breathtaking, heart breaking, and bittersweet. In six decades my life has progressed and regressed and progressed again in O’ so many ways.
Let me count them down. Listed below are touchstones, milestones, and millstones (with a little parenthetical commentary!). All linked and connected — for better and for worse — throughout my 61-derful years.
2004, Saint In-Between
1999. Emerald Isle Sabbatical
1997. AT&T Wired Wirelessly!
1996. WHFStival (Rock on!)
1981. Computer Learning Center (No link to be found!)
1972. William, the boy next door, 5/19/1972
I am not by nature a quiet person.
Third child in a household of six, I had to speak up loud and clear to be heard. An extrovert par excellence, I am compelled to fill awkward silences in awkward conversations. A social butterfly — who works in a library – I am often shushed by the Head Librarian. In fact, last year at my stellar annual review discussing “room for improvement” my boss told me:
“Joani, you need to remember to use your library voice.”
Yes, my library voice.
As the noisiest person on staff I am positioned in the perfect place – at the circulation desk. I love getting to know whoever comes through those front doors — studious students, various visitors, crazy clergy, fastidious faculty, steadfast staff.
Checking books out — I deal in public relations. Checking books in — I do a fair amount of pastoral care. We talk church politics. We talk reading assignments. We talk family. We talk churchmanship. We talk theology. We talk mental health. We talk small talk. We even talk a little bit of trash. (Shhh!)
I am a noisy and priestly librarian want-to-be. An Anglican who LOVES the OUT LOUD prayers of the Book of Common Prayer, I would make a very lousy Quaker.
A very lousy Quaker indeed.
Yet even in this loud mouth beats a somewhat contemplative heart.
I am no stranger to quiet. In fact, I love quiet. I live on my own and all alone and very rarely am I lonely.
I live in a third floor walkup. Two bedrooms and two baths — it is my sacred and solitary space. Alone in my cell, I am free to walk around in my skivvies and turn up the volume on my Spotify. I love to light my gaslight fire and curl up on my couch with a good book and a bowl of cereal.
It is my sanctuary.
I walk alone. An Olympic walker, I constantly check the stats on my Fitbit. I have taken 6,011, 861 steps — alone. I have walked 2546 miles — alone. I have burned 1, 387, 139 calories — alone. Well mostly alone.
Walking — my head is freed up to think about everything or nothing at all. Silently walking the streets of Capitol Hill, the Old Town waterfront, the wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park, St. Theo’s Holy Island –I think, I write, I fantasize and pray. While walking, I meditate, negotiate, and investigate. I regulate, navigate, and instigate —
silently walking alone.
Stopping along the way — I go coffee shop hopping — alone. Silently sitting, nursing my latte, watching people come and go, I catch snatches of conversations – little bits of meaning – in all kinds of languages – haikus of wisdom. I pull out my notebook and write and write and write.
In high school, I’d go — alone — to THE LIBRARY – the Library of Congress reading room. A hushed sanctuary, it smelled of wood polish and old books. I’d do my homework and write my essays on those lovely wooden desks lit by green shaded lamps. Here in this holy of holies, I first read Thomas Merton’s “Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.”
Journal-like it is not a journal. Theological, it is not the least bit systematic. Seemingly random, it is deeply reasoned. Mystical, it’s down to earth meaningful. A monk in a Trappist monastery, Merton writes as a man of the world.
A man alone — a man who practices sacred silence — he has much to say. And what he says — he says in a few paragraphs, with a few sentences, and with a few well chosen words. (All the better for that long ago high schooler to understand.)
“Above all, these are the day-to-day impressions, the simple conjectures of a man in his own world with its own challenges. It is a monastic world, and doubtless strange to those who have no experiences of such a thing. Yet it is, I think, open to the life of experience of the greater, more troubled, and more vocal world beyond the cloister. Though I often differ strongly from the ‘world’, I think I can be said to respond to it. I do not delude myself that I am still not part of it.”
I am in no danger of entering a monastery anytime soon. But Merton does teach me that I really do have monastic moments. These monastic spaces help contain this manic brain. These mindful and meditative places help expand this melancholy soul.
“One has to be alone, under the sky before everything falls into place and one finds one’s own place in the midst of it all…a spring morning alone in the woods…the ceremonies of the birds feeding in the wet grass.”
Silence, quiet, shhhhh!