Monthly Archives: May 2014

One Hundred Forty Six: Staycations

“We spend most of our time and energy in a kind of horizontal thinking. We move along the surface of things…but there are times when we stop. We sit still. We lose ourselves in a pile of leaves or its memory. We listen, and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.” – James Carroll

Monday, May 26th

I have wholeheartedly embraced the “staycation” in the last couple years. When a long weekend rolls around, the last thing I want to do is get stuck in traffic or fight to find a decent camping spot. When most people get out of town, I want to get into town.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I found myself wanting to stay in my own home. I started Spring Cleaning to the dismay of my husband…so he pulled the trump card and got us all out of the house for one more round of folk festivaling. I’m glad he did. We participated in a Pete Seeger sing-along tribute. We did some contra dancing on the sidelines. We bumped into old friends and met a new six-month-old friend we hadn’t seen since attending her mama’s baby shower.

Everything I need is right in front of me.

What is your primary drive for getting out on a vacation? Do you have staycations?

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One Hundred Forty Five: Poetry Readings

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” – Robert Frost

Sunday, May 25th

It has been at least 15 years since I have gone to a poetry reading. My university life was filled with Friday night readings, student events, and chapter books of verse stacked on my shelf. I just barely missed seeing my Poetry professor read at a local book store about 8 years ago, and have just let my interest in it fade since then.

I resolve to see a live reading before the year is out!

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One Hundred Forty Four: Dance

“Silly girl, it’s not what the universe gives us that matters. It’s what we give the universe.” – Lauren Myracle

Saturday, May 24th

I am seven postings behind on this blog. All I want to share right now is a slice of my favorite things. Back when I worked in the front of house for several local theater companies, I had access to comp tickets and had an opportunity to see the Batsheva Dance Company. Movement that has stirred my passion and my intellect. To this day, I lament having never studied dance so that I could express myself like this.

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One Hundred Forty Three: Folks and Life

“Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbors into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being. In short, they make cities better places to live.” – David Binder

Friday, May 23rd

I have never shied away from a festival. There’s music, food, and gads of people who are willing to let their freak flag fly for my ultimate people-watching pleasure. I’m in….until I’m 39, apparently. This is the first year that I’ve felt more hesitant to the flip side – the scores of teenagers who are stoned off their tree and not quite adding to the drum circle, the general reluctance the average festival-goer has to using deodorant, or the cliché “Free Hugs”. Show me something newIf this is a folk festival, let’s get folky, Peeps.

But a lovely family that we’ve been bonding with a lot this year was going to drive a couple of hours to catch a band, and we decided to meet up with them. I wholeheartedly endorse traveling solo, but now that I’m in the thick of my child-rearing years I find it extremely comforting to participate in cultural events with other families.

And then I realize how sweet it is to create a lovely space around me, no matter where I find myself.

Do you like to attend events with large crowds of people? 

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One Hundred Forty Two: Look at Something Shine

“Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?” – Dennis and Wendy Mannering

Thursday, May 22nd

Yesterday, my friend Holli told me that she had reassessed a photo blogging project she had been working on but had dropped for a long time. She had dubbed it “Poor Seattle Shines”. When I had first heard about it, it left a funny taste in my mouth…something was off in the naming, like it was drawing attention to some sort of perceived beauty in poverty. It was months ago that I’d seen the blog, but hadn’t seen her post any follow-up links.

Recently she took a natural lighting course and landed in a philosophical discussion about photography. The presenters said that (lighting aside) the content one is documenting should be something he or she is passionate about. James Balog and the conservation of nature, particularly the retreating glaciers. Clark Little and waves. Framing the things you love or the ideas you care about lends a sensitivity and compassion to the images created.

Holli chewed on this idea and was reinvigorated to use her photography skills to document the grassroots work that is being done to improve neglected spaces in our city. She changed the name of her blog to “Seattle Shines” to reflect the things that are working, the people who are trying to make things better. And I’m going to be featured!

Do you like to be noticed and acknowledged for the good works that you do, or would you rather stay anonymous?

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One Hundred Forty One: Make Someone Something Rad

“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”  – Vincent van Gogh 

Wednesday, May 21st

My sister-in-law is turning 40 on Friday. She has all that she could ask for, so shopping for a gift for her has proven to always be a challenge. Husband reminded me that the best thing we could give her was a gift from the heart.

I’m pretty good at making those. When my friend turned 40 back in March, I made a retrospective slide show of her years of friendship with “the girls”. Last year, I did the same for my mother-in-law as she turned 60. I couldn’t very well make a third slide show for my SIL, so I opted for a groovy little short film about her life. Using a phone app, I was able to stitch together short video clips into a mini-biography. It’s fun and I think it reflects my SIL’s sweet sentimental and whimsical spirit.

I heard recently that giving something to someone else makes us happier than if we kept it for ourselves. I agree! I love putting my creativity to the challenge to come up with something new for someone I love. To me, it’s a sincere way of showing someone what they mean to me and letting them know that they really mean something.

Could you use your skills to create a unique gift? Who would you give it to?

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One Hundred Forty: Building a Playground

“The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

“In neighborhoods without a usable park or playground, the incidence of childhood obesity increases by 29 percent.” – Darell Hammond

Tuesday, May 20th

It just so happens that my children are embarking on their public school adventure at a time when their school is planning a playground rebuild. The existing playground does not suit the physical and social needs of all the children, nor does it incorporate enough elements to engage the children in the Autism Spectrum or with varying physical abilities. That means – woohoo! – I get to help build a playground.

When I first joined the PTSA, this idea came up and it seemed overwhelming to raise enough funds and public interest. A small team took on the grant writing and got the ball rolling to the point we are at now which is working with a design firm to build the playground we want. The designers presented three conceptual spaces based on the feedback they received from parents and community members at the last forum. Glacial landforms, forest retreat, and a magnetic zone.

I like working in a larger group and following the flow of ideas. By time we were placing dots on the features we liked best, I was chatting with several parents about how the glacial features would soon become the kissing rocks. And that’s a good thing! The existing space feels so barren and patrolled, and while there are certain populations of children who need extra supervision for their safety there are also a large number of children who need the space to create social experiences with one another. The little ones need features that encourage their creative play and the older kids need ones that allow them to approach and gather with one another. It will be interesting to see where this goes…

Are you working on a project that is bigger than yourself? A legacy?

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One Hundred Thirty Nine: Say My Name

“I’ve learned how to use my spam filter pretty effectively.”  – Al Yankovic

Monday, May 19th

There are a select few people I come across frequently who never address me by my name. These are people who undoubtedly know my name. Sometimes they don’t say hello at all. Perhaps I shouldn’t let it get to me, but it does. I keep chipping away at the rock with my little chisel of happiness, but when I look down into my hand I find that it is actually a butter knife and it is doing diddly-squat.

The phrase “You can only control your own actions/feelings” always irritated me. It has always felt that if I was compelling enough, I could help bring change. It’s hard to know whether requesting others to communicate with me would actually bring them closer or push them further away. People are interesting that way. It seems that if we talked all our misunderstandings out that they might resolve, but sometimes that process just begets new misunderstandings.

I am learning more and more each day about just how very different adults are in their ability to communicate clearly and politely, and being able to gauge and engage the other party in conversation. My Dad will talk for 20 minutes straight on a subject, and when he hears that my attention is diverted on the 21st minute he will call me out for multi-tasking. Others just don’t seem to understand that using someone’s name in conversation or greetings is a common way to acknowledge the other’s presence, and validate their presence.

I know all I can do is to talk to others how I want to be talked to.

Do you have any conversational hang-ups?

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One Hundred Thirty Eight: No Fears

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Frank Herbert

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”  – Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, May 18th

As my husband left the house the other day, my daughter called to him “SAFE TRAVELS! NO FEARS!” It has become a mantra of mine.

When I am feeling gritty and abrasive, I like to either talk it out with someone else or let that feeling evaporate. Afterwards – if I am in a reflective mood – I ask myself what fears a negative situation is bringing up for me. For example, I was feeling really raw after attending a birthday party with my daughter. Neither the parents nor the child made me and my daughter feel particularly welcome in their home. If I dig deeper, there are fears that the family felt obligated to invite my daughter because all the other girls in the class were invited. I fear that I may have neglected guests in my own home when they’ve come to celebrate with me.

We slipped out of the party a few minutes early to make it to a talent show in our community. There were a variety of acts – songs, joke telling, tongue twisters – and then close to the end of the event, my husband said that he’d be singing with our girl. We have gone to a number of these talent shows and she has always expressed an interest in performing, but it was only today that she walked up standing tall and embodying the “No Fear” cause to the core. She sang the song beautifully.

This is the week where most of my lessons are being taught by my lovely girl.

Do you have a quote you truly believe in and stand by?

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One Hundred Thirty Seven: New Conversations

“A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books.” – Chinese proverb

Saturday, May 17th

Saturday was filled with new conversations with people I have not taken the opportunity to have longer talks with before…and it was awesome!

I played hookie from my family all day, and I didn’t start out looking forward to it. I had an obligation to join a work party followed by a birthday celebration for two neighbors. The PTSA Board from my daughter’s school (of which I am a member) was “rented” as part of our annual fundraising auction, and the winner had planned to have us paint the interior of her house and landscape her yard. I opted for the outdoor work, and joined the Treasurer and Secretary in pulling weeds around the raspberries. There is something eased in conversation when all parties are working on something together. It’s like getting a haircut or your teeth cleaned; you are a captive audience and the focus is external.

On Beds #1 and #2, we covered skin cancer, hearing aids, adoption, miscarriage, and public drunkenness. By Bed #3, there was sod to be turned so we went straight to the issues of life and death. We all agreed that we had grown to know one another much better by working on something other than a meeting. And boy howdy, a whole lot of inappropriate things could be said without our kids around.

I didn’t expect that I would have any energy left over to attend the 60th and 70th combined birthday celebration for my dear neighbor women. I showered and got the family into the car for a grocery shopping adventure. We got home with enough minutes for me to pack a watermelon, a knife, and a plate and hitch a ride with one of the carpools. It started raining precisely as we were gathering to walk to the cars, but by time we reached the beach it was all sun and blue skies.

We are a diverse group of inter-generational women, and now that I’ve known these friends for almost three years I’ve come to trust them deeply. I had a conversation with the 30-year-old boarder from Japan and my 60-something neighbor that flowed from family dynamics to karaoke to funeral rites. When we circled up, we cleaved again into two groups of 8 or so women – my group tackled the lessons we’ve learned at our different ages and it was full of rich and vital insights. I felt something both stirring and beaming inside of me while holding this women’s space together, and it was a lovely bonding experience.

These sort of days remind me of how truly blessed I am to be surrounded by committed, interesting, and lovely people.

When do you have the best conversations?

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