Crossroads

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house: Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

I’ve been overwhelmed lately and haven’t had the time or energy to create much of anything.  And I haven’t liked it one bit.  But I have a little time tonight and felt the urge to blog… but what to say, share, do?  So I pushed the “Inspire me” link on WordPress and the image and quote above came up.  Of course, they’re pretty perfect for where my life has taken me right about now.

I’ve been thinking so much about balance, lately.  As I’ve been working to build a new department at my agency, one that I think I would truly love to run, I’ve had to give up a lot of the time I’d been able to spend on my crafting.   Things had gotten pretty stagnant in my last position and I had been able to do it without a lot of thought or effort.  This was a new sensation for me, as I’d always been pretty consumed by work (working in a mental health field can easily be all-consuming).  Luckily, I was able to channel the extra time and energy I had into my crafting and I realized that I’d gotten to really love that part of myself.

The quote speaks to me of my own “enlightenment”, or my moving up in the social services world into a position I’ve  always thought I wanted.  But the “ghosts” that I’m afraid that I’m creating are the possible ghosts of my creative, family,  and spiritual lives.  I’m afraid about work consuming my life once again, as it’s done at so many points in the past.  There aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to do everything I want to do.  But I know there are things I need to do.  These are the things I’ve learned about myself in the past several months of having the creative time I’ve had:

– When I have the time to be creative, I feel alive.

– When I have the energy to participate actively in my faith community, I feel connected.

– When I feel alive and connected, I’m a great mother and wife.

So, what to do?

I’m so scared about being that little house in the picture with the sad title:  “love Don’t live here anymore”.   I’m scared about not being able to balance the pressures of work and life and still make time for the things that really feed my soul.  I’m scared that the career goal I’d always aspired to (moving up in the agency, having the chance to have a greater impact on the lives of a greater number of people) may end up being the thing that makes me into a person I don’t want to be.

How do you balance work and life and yourSELF?

International Day of Non-Violence

I learned from Amar Naik’s photo blog that today, October 2, is the International Day of Non-Violence (http://amarnaik.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/international-day-of-non-violence).  Commemorating the day that Mohandas Gandhi was born, it was first recognized by the United Nations in 2007.  This day, and what it represents, couldn’t come at a better time.  It seems that every time I turn on the news I hear of another homicide, terrorist attack or threat, or mass murder.  We’re struggling to create gun legislation that preserves a constitutional right to “bear arms” yet is balanced by the good sense and honest intent with which it was written.  Certainly, however, our forebearers could not have envisioned the kinds of weapons that are available on the streets these days and the senselessness with which they are used.  My own city has had 3 murders in the last 2 weeks, bringing our total to 15 this year.  We’ve already surpassed our total of 12 from last year and 2/3 of the people killed have been under 30.  Three of them were 19- not even old enough to legally drink.

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The city has reached out to local organizations and faith-communities to create Peace Flags as a sign of its dedication to teaching and striving for non-violence and they’re going to be hanging them along the parade route for our annual Thanksgiving weekend Balloon Parade.  The chorus that our boy sings in (and my mother co-founded) will be singing at the event and I look forward to it being an uplifting, powerful day.  Granted, it’s only a symbol, albeit an inspirational one, and there’s still so much work that needs to be done.

I was lucky enough to be able to work with my church’s Chapel Kids group (the alternative service for kids ages 7-12 at our church) to help create them.  The organization that’s sponsoring it supplied muslin rectangles and a rope to hang them from but allowed churches to decorate them with whatever materials and in whatever ways they wanted.  As inspiration, I found these beautiful prayer flags that Kate, from Ramblings from Utopia, made with her kids.  (http://www.ramblingsfromutopia.com/2012/05/wordlessful-wednesdays-prayer-flags.html)

We prayed on the topic and looked at some picture books about peace for inspirational images, and then the kids just had at it.  The week before, they had sketched ideas onto paper, the this Sunday I gave them Sharpies, fabric markers, and fabric to cut up and glue on (no one actually ended up using the fabric).  It was a really fun service (despite the mess) and the flags, and the hopeful message they represent, are beautiful.  Here are some of my favorites:

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If kids understand and value the concept so clearly and openly, why can’t our world leaders?  What are we doing wrong that has bred so much hatred, fear, and self-loathing among the members of our community that are so often party to this kind of violence, both as victims and as perpetrators?  Most important, when and how can we finally mend/heal/soothe the wounds and move forward into a civilization that truly values and is capable of non-violence?

Pumpkin Painting… dos and don’ts

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It’s pumpkin time!  That means pumpkin seeds, pumpkin lattes, and pumpkin decorations.  My wife’s alma mater, Bay Path College, held the 3rd Annual Carpe Diem Dash to benefit their scholarship fund.  A good friend of hers is the president of the Alumni Association, so we chipped in to help out (manning the water stations, not running).  I was also able to help with the decorations by painting pumpkins.

We went to the awesome farm that supplied the veggies for our wedding, Gooseberry Farms (http://www.farmfresh.org/food/farm.php?farm=1997), and they gave us an amazing deal on tons of pumpkins, gourds, hay, and a crazy-looking hubbard squash (grey food- who knew?).  I took some of the biggest ones and used Sharpies and acrylic craft paint to decorate them with “Carpe Diem” (the college’s motto- long before “Dead Poet’s Society“) and this year’s theme: “Be Bold”.

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The Sharpies and craft paint weren’t necessarily the best choices.  The Sharpies colored well but have such narrow strokes that I couldn’t do much other than write with them.  The black craft paint was great- it went on smoothly, stayed where I put it, and covered really well.  The pink was another story.  It went on really light (not opaque like the black) but when I tried to do a second coat, even after letting it dry, it wiped off the first coat in some places.  I had to go over it a few times, and even then I didn’t get the really “bold” color I was hoping for.  I think there are other things that would have worked better to decorate them.  Paint markers, maybe?

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I still think they made for great decorations, especially the way our friend arranged them.  I like that crazy hubbard squash the best.  But the real best part… they came home with us and are now decorating our front steps.

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Quick Tip Tuesday

IMG_8469Tuesdays are hard.  I spend half the day Monday trying to pick up where I left off on Friday and the rest of the day trying to find new ways to procrastinate for the week.  So, by Tuesday, I’m completely under water.  If there’s a Monday holiday… forget about it!  I might as well just take off the whole week.  I have all these quick “tips” on things I’ve tried to save time, the environment, sanity, that I thought I could do a “Quick Tip Tuesday” thing for a while (until I get sick of it or run out of ideas).

My first “Quick Tip” involves the mini bars of soap they give you in hotels.  I’ve always hated the idea of them just being thrown away after we leave (especially if we’re only there for a night), but they’re usually too small to do much else with.  On our last trip, I decided just to take them home (partially because they were Aveda, which I love but totally can’t afford).  I rinsed them off really well (both to get them wet and to get them as “clean” as possible) and then wrapped them in the cellophane that had been on one of the drinking cups my wife used and threw them in my suitcase.  By the time I unpacked (admittedly, a couple days after we got home), they were completely fused together and had formed almost a regular bar of soap, size-wise.