Thursday, December 3, 2015

Call to prayer...from a devout pacifist

I am a pacifist.  Being raised in the Christian tradition, I personally look to the life of Christ as my guidepost for compassionate living.   Yet there are models of peace throughout the globe, both inside religious traditions and within secular cultures.  

I'm heartbroken, yet again, today. 

Here's my very simplistic take on humanity.  Every living human across the globe has a beating heart.  Every heart can beat with love...or not.  The answer to a violent tragedy like the one that happened yesterday, and that has occured many times before, is NOT more violence!  

Violence begets more violence.  Love begets love.  I'm praying for our world...

"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life."

until next blog post,
a very sincere prayer for peace and love


Sunday, October 11, 2015

There's a name for the condition: Body Dysmorphic Disorder

So I wonder exactly when all this will get easier.  I thought that once I started eating healthily, and gaining weight, I'd be done with the anorexia experience.  Not quite right, in my case.  Since my late teens, for the past 40 years, I have eaten right and had my weight at a mostly-acceptable and "normal" level.  I just didn't understand (and I don't think many people did before Karen Carpenter's death) that anorexia nervosa was more than an outward, physical illness.  It's also a mental illness.  There, I said it.

Now, imagine looking in the mirror and seeing what you PERCEIVE, not what others see.  Imagine looking in the mirror and being so disgusted by your hips and thighs, thinking they are horribly huge...though they are not horribly anything!  They are merely your hips and thighs!  These perceptions and more are at the crux of body dysmorphic disorder, which for me, was the lasting remnant of my eating disorder.  

In the absense of therapy, I learned, in my late teens, how to dress to escape the judgments of others, as well as my own misperceptions.  It became my look for 40 years:  loose-fitting overalls and peasant blouses, free-flowing hippie dresses and skirts.  They were SAFE.  They didn't reveal the NOT PERFECT legs I detested. 
The "p" word.  I hate that word.  

Forty years later, I'm in therapy and trying to learn to celebrate the wonderfully imperfect person I am.  I'm trying not to hide behind my clothes anymore (though I still feel more comfortable in overalls and flowing hippie skirts than in jeans).  Here's what brought me to my decision this morning, on how to dress for church.

About 6 months ago, I went to Savannah to visit two very dear friends, who took me shopping.  Actually, I didn't WANT to get "skinny" jeans, because I am not anywhere near skinny, but they insisted I try them on.  I felt entirely exposed as I tiptoed out of the dressing room, to their waiting eyes.  I was greated with:  "Damn, Mzzz D, you are lookin' GOOD!" and even "Wait, I think you need a smaller size!"  What???

My two friends accompanied me as I bought 3 pairs of jeans that day.  They continued to encourage me to be proud to wear those darn jeans and put away the hippie skirts.  It felt freeing that first day, because I found safety in their company.  

I gotta say, it was easier wearing my size 16 skinny jeans in Savannah with my support system right there by me.  I'm on my own in Baton Rouge, and this morning was a huge one.  Cool weather greeted me, and I had to decide what to wear for 8:00 church this morning.  I did it, y'all!  I wore my skinny jeans and a cool jean jacket and my new boots and I felt horribly self-conscious...but I did it!  I'm gonna kick that body dysmorphic disorder right out of my life, period.

Maybe next time it will be easier.  Maybe not.  But I'm here to say that I am working hard to love the imperfect ME that I see in the mirror.  I'm not the only woman (or man) out there struggling with this.  Don't forget how much it means to hear:  "Dang, you look GOOD!"  Those words can be worth their weight in gold 
to people like me.  

until next blog post,
peace and love to you...

Friday, September 4, 2015

I can't believe it's been 10 years...

Certainly, my title is one that south Louisianians (and New Orleaneans in particular) 
have been using as an introduction to their recent post-Katrina stories.  I have a different story.  The day the levees broke, my dad sat glued to the battery-powered radio 
in his Baton Rouge, LA, kitchen, shaking his head in disbelief.  A few days later, on 
September 4, 2005, he passed away at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital from a myriad of ailments, the latest being malignant melanoma that had spread into his lymphatic system.  His name was Doyle Chambers and he was 87 years old.

I have previously written a post to commemorate the man he was.  I'll borrow just a little, to give you a glimpse into the man who raised me. 

He was born in 1918, the first-born child to a sharecropping family in rural Line, Arkansas.  By the time he could stand, he was picking cotton.  His family relocated to Bonita, Louisiana, because his father felt his children could receive a better education there.  He studied by kerosene lamp, and delivered his lessons in a one-room schoolhouse...He excelled in Latin, and his teacher decided that he was destined for an undergraduate degree at LSU.  Before his formal education was completed, he had received his Ph.D. in Animal Genetics from Oklahoma State University.  He would retire as Vice Chancellor for Reseach in the AgCenter at Louisiana State University.

Doyle Chambers was a man not easily forgetten, and I have not.  He was the steady, analytical father to an exhuberant, artsy-fartsy daughter.  As I have gotten older, I understand how odd my personality must have seemed in his eyes!  Yet with a doctorate in genetics, he understood I had a large dose of my great-grandmother's spirit, come back to shine on in the world...

I wrote this a few years ago, and I would be honored for you to watch my tribute to this man I loved, who was loved by so many...


I miss you, Dad.  I can't believe it's been 10 years...

Until next blog post
peace and love to you,


Monday, August 10, 2015

Those were the days when kids were "home-preschooled", only spent 1/2 day at kindergarten and learned how to "find something to do"...

I was born on August 13, 1957, at Payne County Hospital in Stillwater, Oklahoma, almost 58 years ago!  It was such a different time.  You could look down Orchard Lane and see children wearing chaps and holsters, lassos in hand, riding tricycle 'horses', in hot pursuit of the next adventure.  Children too young to participate were 'in jail'...that's what the older kids might have called their playpens, soaking in the sunshine and excitement from the bleechers.  

Moms like mine would get a lot of housework done while the kids played, outside.  It boggles my mind how much times in America have changed, in a matter of half a century.  

Once we moved to Louisiana (in time for second grade), our non-school hours were spent outside.  Fall meant raking leaves, often into a "football field" configuration, so that the game could commence.  In inclement weather, we congregated at our backyard neighbor's house for a rousing game of canasta.  Springtime meant baseball, and we'd ride our bikes to the vacant lot to work on hitting and fielding ground balls.  And our driveway was the year-round hangout for very competitive games of "horse" or "cat" since WE had the basketball goal.  

I treasured those times...and chose to be a stay-at-home mom so that I could give my kids the same kind of upbringing.  In some respects, I feel like I succeeded.  In other respects, I feel that I failed.  I regret the fact that I "caved" and let them have nintendo, cable tv and a vcr player when their age was still in single digits.  Electronics entered my home with a vengence...and creativity and inventiveness suddently took a back seat.  

I wonder how many of you reading this were blessed with the kind of "preschooling"  that I had.   I sure wish I could tell my mom thank you for all the hours of non-adult conversation that she muddled through joyously with me in tow.  I hope she knew...

Until next blog post,
peace and love to you...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I'VE GOT know, the handwritten kind that catches you by surprise!

It was a ritual for them.  The letter would arrive one afternoon and before the week was out, Mom would sit at the desk, pull out lined paper and a fine point pen and prepare her response.  First she would comment on the incoming news.  Next, our weekly comings-and-goings would be delivered in perfect penmanship and impeccable grammar.  The envelope would be addressed, a stamp placed in the right hand corner, with the return address on the left, and out to the silver-gray mailbox she would go, raising the red flag to signal that there was outgoing mail.  Right about a week later, another letter would come, and the response would follow.  This was the way my mom stayed in touch and formed a close connection with her mother-in-law, my Granny Chambers.

I wonder who started that tradition.  Did Granny write the first letter?  Or did Mom?  I wonder if they had made a pact to write weekly, or if the tradition developed out of habit, a sense of responsibility, or love?  Certainly those are not questions I can ask at this point, because both of them are deceased... but I have a question to pose to present-day readers:  Has letter writing become a true lost art?

It's so easy, even on a whim, to draft an e-mail.  Or a text.  Or an instant message.  Or a facebook post to a long lost friend.  Sending it is a breeze...No having to look up (or remember) an address.  No stamps.  No waiting!  Ah, instant gratification.  Admittedly it's great to stay in touch!  That's how I've been rolling for some time now.  But the other day, I wrote a pen-and-paper letter to my friend.

My penmanship is not as pristine as it was in elementary school.  No sweat if I make a mistake.  Life is messy, and so is my writing!  Though I did start over, not in an effort to have the letter be "perfect"...Perfect is so overrated.  I gave it a read-over and realized that I had not presented my thought coherently the first time, and it's so important to me to truly communicate what is on my heart and mind.  In truth, this could very well be a letter that the receiver might treasure and keep to re-read whenever the mood strikes.

How many times, through the miracle of the internet, have I quickly responded to a digital message, and then said, "I sure wish I hadn't said that"!  Had I been writing the old-school way, in letter form, I would have changed the wording, for sure.  Sometimes lightning fast doesn't serve me well.  

I for one am going to try to sit down and write a letter to a friend or family member every week.  I'm going to lose myself in delicious nouns and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and conjunctions and contractions as I choose them with delight.  With any luck, my letter will be received as a treasured gift, created thoughtfully and carefully, with love...and will find its way into a 'treasure box' when it reaches its destination.

I for one am going to use Monday morning as writing day.  How bout you?

Until next blog post, 
peace and love to you...


Monday, May 25, 2015

Interesting Connection between 2 Seemingly Disconnected Issues: Teaching about the Holy Spirit at Children's Chapel at Church...and Memories of My Mom's Last Days.

For the past few days, I have struggled to come up with the words:  how would I explain the Holy Spirit to young students who would attend the Sunday, May 24th Children's Chapel at my church?  So easy to picture God, and Jesus, but that concept of being filled with the Spirit has always been difficult for me to put into words.  I began to ponder, who are those people in my life who I consider to be filled with the Spirit?  What qualities do they embody?  On the top of my list is my mom.

Her name was Luella Dugas Chambers.  She was truly my best friend in adulthood, and my hero in life.  She lived 19 very full and appreciated years after her initial diagnosis of breast cancer, which re-emerged in her bones and finally in her lungs.  What qualities did she exemplify in her final days? 

After the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do for her, but to keep her comfortable, she smiled and responded, "I just want to thank you for all you've done for me.  It's been so wonderful to have this extra time with my family."  The only dry eyes in the room were hers.  I couldn't wrap my brain around that.  

There was an understanding, a peace, a tranquility, a joy, an acceptance of the moment, that she possessed and that was PREVALENT in her last days.  I fought the prognosis, but she was comforted by the littlest things, and did her best to comfort US.  Her smile was bright, her faith was strong.  She had final words of wisdom for me.  And she gave me the greatest gift of all, unbeknownst to her. 

She was a devout Catholic and at that time, I too was a practicing Catholic.  A couple of days before she died, the Eucharistic minister came by to offer her communion, but she could not swallow anymore, and had to refuse.  The minister asked her to kiss the host, and then placed the host on my tongue as I 'received' for my mom.  In all my then 38 years, I had NEVER experienced ANYTHING like receiving the Eucharist for this incredible woman.  

Something changed inside me!  I felt like I was shaking all over.  I felt like if I didn't sit down, that I would faint.  At that moment, I learned something incredible about what the Eucharist meant to my mom...and how the Holy Spirit moved inside of her each time she received...and that one time, it moved through me as well.  I'll never forget that moment, and though I've prayed to have that experience on my own, it has evaded me.

What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  I knew how to explain it all the time.  Ironically enough, my mom died 19 years ago today, on May 25, 1996, almost 19 years to the day after I struggled to find the words to teach Children's Chapel yesterday.  All I had to do, in the end, was reflect on my mom, because she truly reflected the Holy Spirit every single day.  

One more time, Mom, thank you for your inspiration.  I love that I can still turn to you.  Keep the lessons coming...

Until next blog post,
peace and love to you


Sunday, April 12, 2015

WAKE UP AND DREAM...Part 2 (complete with VIDEOSONG!)

During a conversation with fellow songwriters, someone posed the question, “What makes some people give up...yet other people rise to the challenges of life?” I realized what keeps me going. I need to keep a dream in focus, at all times!

In a previous blog post, I mentioned a song that I had written, called Wake Up and Dream, and I also mentioned that I was planning something really special with this song. 
I recently collaberated with longtime friend and producer, Daniel Lee of Boonelight Productions, in creating a videosong of Wake Up and Dream. Interspersed are snippets of interviews (conducted by Daniel) that celebrate the hopes and dreams of various people who keep their dreams in sight.  Here are some specifics:

Song written and performed by Dorothy C. LeBlanc.  
Videography, audio, editing, lead guitar, percussion:  Daniel Lee.  

I hope you enjoyed the video...and please feel free to share.   Soon I'll share more about this song that is so very special to me...

Until next blog post, peace and love to you,