Skip to main content

I’ve been attending Annie Kip’s free meetings showing us how to use the images and questions on her life coach cards. They are designed to jostle us out of ordinary thought.

Before we picked an image, Annie said, “Set an intention.” Mine was to write to the four children I’m supporting through Compassion International, an NGO that uses donations to feed impoverished children and support their education. People are invited to give money and write to their sponsored children. It’s been a year since I last wrote mine.

I drew a card full of disjointed objects—an invisible dog, a floating cylinder, two paintings that made no sense, a long coffee table. “Well, that’s blah,” I said.

Annie asked, “How does embracing blah help you?” Writing four young girls feels like one more chore. As an American woman with no experience with children, I wonder what can I say? What if I say it wrong? I felt like I was walking in a forest with broken trees on my path.

She said lean into the blah, don’t deny it.

The next card I drew asked what is the next smallest step? Open the letters.

Annie said, “Write just a few lines. Talk about what you’re curious about, your dog. Tell silly stories. Your letters would delight the girls.” And so I cobbled together news about the weather, my puppy and some questions. I clicked send. I felt a pinch of joy, a cup of relief. Next month I’ll write again.

I’m Katie Andraski and that’s my perspective.

If you’d like to hear me read this, click here.

More on Blah

This feeling blah might just be one of those road signs–this is the way, walk in it or this is not the way, don’t go there. Last year I felt blocked, a block soft as a pillow, that kept me from playing with the horse, or sitting down to write. I remembered when I did archeology at Crown Point, how I wanted to jog over to Vermont, and finally I pushed past my resistance and jogged over the bridge to the lovely, noisy corn fields across Lake Champlain. And I felt joy and rubbed the insides of my thighs raw, trotting six miles. I’d done it, pushed past my resistance to trot over that bridge that rose like elbow macaroni, looking down on the lake glinting in the sunlight.

That block may well have been grieving for Tessie and Night and Bitsy, three beloved animals who died fairly close together. Even though Morgen looked over the fence for company, I did not want to spend time with her. But with the arrival of Omalola, something broke loose. Perhaps her puppy exuberance. Perhaps working with an animal who is too much dog, who is teaching me how to respond to her. Perhaps I remembered the joy of doing things with Nate, my heart dog. Perhaps enough time has passed. Bruce and I have driven Morgen, the way we want to drive her, around our field at a walk. We enjoy her company.

The Life Coach types say if you feel a heaviness with regards to doing something, don’t do it. If it’s a right task, it’s like the feeling of fresh breezes. If it’s not, it’s like closing that window on a stuffy room. They say “don’t should on yourself”. In other words don’t force yourself to do something. There is wisdom in not pushing yourself to do something you really don’t want to do, but there is also wisdom in following that “I should” into freedom like running over the Bridge to Vermont or throwing the harness on Morgen and taking her for a drive or cleaning out the dishwasher or writing little girls in Africa even when I don’t feel like it.

Finding Joy in Generosity

As far as philanthropy goes 60 Minutes aired a report about how Gorongosa National Park was restored by Greg Carr “who dreamed of restoring a wasteland to greatness.” Not only did he restore the animals, but he helped the people thrive, and showed them how the animals were more valuable to bring in tourists than to be hunted and killed. As I watched I thought in these million acres it looks like the kingdom of God is not just not yet, but here now. Carr says, “This land belongs to these people. They’ve been here forever. It’s their animals, it’s their land, it’s their trees, it’s their cultural and spiritual heritage, right?”

He spent over a $100 million to bring back the park and its people. “My message to anybody with money is, I mean what are you gonna do, stick it all in your casket? I mean, why not enjoy the joy of philanthropy? I would say to the billionaire next door go out and enjoy spending your money to help some people…Go find your Gorongosa. And it will bless you more than you can possibly ever bless it.”

Now this far better than my woke friend saying that the New Jerusalem would arrive if all the rich retirees gave their money to brown people, or even Jesus’ story of the Rich Man and Lazarus or the Rich Young Ruler. (I honestly don’t get where people think the Jesus of the gospels is some meek and mild guy, and that we should interpret the ferocity we find the Old Testament through the lens of God revealed in Jesus because he too is fierce. As a young woman I thought the Torah was more graceful than the Jesus in the gospels. Lately I’m learning though how he deeply loves me.)

Another reason, I have resisted writing to my Compassion girls because I didn’t want my left hand to know what my right hand was doing as far as charity goes. I think Jesus said something about that. (And by writing about it here, I’ve not listened to his admonition not to make a big deal about our donations.) But maybe, just maybe these correspondences are what Greg Carr was talking about in a tiny way, having fun with philanthropy.

If you’d like to subscribe click here.