Flower garden in bloom

The Beautiful Blob that Swallowed Barbara

I’m back again. The past six months have been exciting, frustrating, life-giving, challenging, depressing, affirming, and anxious. It was six months of short-term projects, learnings, accomplishments, and frustrating health problems.  I want to share what I’ve been doing.  I am going to try it again, with a few tweaks.

In my most recent experiment of how to live well in this part of my life with its health limitations, I invested myself in a cluster of short-term projects.  I chose each one to express a different part of myself, use different skills, and nourish me in different ways.  I tried to stagger the times when each project would place the greatest demands.

Ah, “the best laid plans of mice and [women] oft go astray.”  Yes, it was fantastic to bring my skills, experience, and personality to the Greater Good in ways that made a positive difference.  I felt more alive and engaged than I have in ages.  I wouldn’t trade that stretch of time for anything.

However … I was like a gardener who wants her flowers to bloom sequentially across the seasons, but instead, they all bloom at once.  Or, I was like a cook who puts too much yeast in her dough, the loaf expands beyond all expectations, and then falls.  Or, my activities became like that B movie from the 1960’s, The Blob that Swallowed New York, spreading out to encompass every cranny of my life.  Truly mixing metaphors, I think my life became an extravagantly colorful, yeasty-smelling blob of goodness that eventually needed to be calmed down and cleaned up.

Every project grew faster and bigger than I had planned.  After three months of a full calendar and rest breaks when possible, I went into hibernation with (in sequence) a pulled muscle in my back, a powerful cold, the flu, a sinus infection, and laryngitis.  I recovered from those in time for a wonderful Christmas with four generations of family filling our home.

Puzzles[1]The pieces of my life in the last few months:

  • I organized a 60th wedding anniversary party for my husband’s parents in Twin Falls, Idaho, while living in Pasadena, California.  A small catered party for fifty people grew to 200+, gathering in late October to celebrate Jo and Al’s love and let them know how many lives they have touched for good with their love.
  • No longer a pastor, I can now get involved in electoral politics, so I jumped into the Obama campaign with both feet and became the organizer for phone banks in Pasadena.  My teams made over 25,000 calls into swing states.  My youngest volunteer was 16, the eldest was 102.  Our eclectic mix of rocket scientists, veterans, teachers and nurses, small business owners, college deans, laborers and contractors, consultants, unemployed folk, retirees, students, and at-home parents formed a short-term community as we worked for a common goal.  I ended each phone bank proud of our country and the citizens who make our democracy work.
  • When my pastor took a three-month sabbatical,  helped with pastoral care.  Being with people in their times of need and being a presence through whom the love of God is experienced is an essential part of my being.  We brought the presence of God to each other.
  • I agreed to chair the adult education ministry at my church.  I figured the load would be light until after the party, election, and sabbatical were finished.  Silly me.  The Education Minister resigned in June and I learned my team is responsible for the entire Christian education program–cradle to grave.  We needed renovations in the nursery, new teachers, and curriculum.  As Team Leader, I was also automatically part of the Search Committee for a new Education Minister.  That project hit high gear in August and continued after the others were finished.

These are the major items, each chosen in advance for its meaning and limited scope. With each one, its meaning and scope became greater than I could have imagined.  I met new people, learned skills, and made a lasting difference.  What more could I want?  More time and energy, I suppose, but that would be greedy.  I’m grateful for what I could do. Whenever my health crashed or I needed to rest, others picked up the task and kept it going.  It was fantastic.

Now I am coming out of hibernation and poking my head into the world again.  After six months of not having the energy to keep up with friends, family, personal email, and blogging, I think I’m back in action.

That’s it, folks, more or less.  The anniversary party and election are long past, my pastor is back from sabbatical, a new Education Minister was hired, and my health is on track.  It is time to start the next group of short-term projects.

Although it might have been a blob that swallowed my life, or yeast that expanded the loaf until it fell, what I like most is to think of these months as a garden that went into extravagant bloom all at once, and when spent, entered its dormant phase.  Get ready.  Dormancy is over and the seeds are stirring in the ground.  I’m eager to see what sprouts this spring.  More later……….

4 thoughts on “The Beautiful Blob that Swallowed Barbara

  1. Hedy Lodwick

    …Ah yes. More time and energy would be lovely, however, as I hobble on with less of each, I fear I will leave this earth with an incomplete! Maybe we all need to learn, “it was enough.” We’re glad your blog is returning.

  2. shirlary@juno.com

    Dear Barbara, This writing is fantastic!!! Thank you so much for sharing this great gift with all of us! I know you have thought of writing beyond a blog, and I sure encourage you to follow that “star.” You truly have a special gift!! Send a few prayers for me when you think of it. This weekend is filled with grief and sadness and hope. My very dear friend from the ’50’ is having huge surgery right now–another cancerous lesion on her tongue (4th one) and a lymph node in neck which is cancerous, etc. She lives in Seattle. A dear friend here in the Gardens is dying with cancer of the liver, and then the news about Carol dying in bed which I heard at choir practice last night. There are many things to rejoice over, but it seems they are being over-riden at the moment with these other things. Thanks for sharing Barbara—You are very special to me even though I never let you know—now you do know, and you will continue in our prayers. I miss you! Love, hugs and prayers, Shirl McCulloch

    On Fri, 8 Mar 2013 18:25:07 +0000 “Changing Direction: Faith, Vocation, Health…Hope” writes: Barbara Anderson posted: “I’m back again. The past six months have been exciting, frustrating, life-giving, challenging, depressing, affirming, and anxious. It was six months of short-term projects, learnings, accomplishments, and frustrating health problems. I want to share what”


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