The Untangler

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well and all is right in your world today.  I made the Executive Decision (I’m self-employed so I get to do that) on Thursday to take next week off to, well, get Christmas stuff done and take a little break. The week before and after Christmas are always my slowest of the year anyway. I did have to wrap up a couple of projects first thus the delay in this week’s post and the fact that the pictures I wanted to upload just won’t.

Today’s subject is something I have been pondering for about two and a half months now.  It started purcolating in my little brain while D. and I were at the beach in October.  He was wanting to go fishing, but had a big, tangled mess of fishing line. After a few minutes of watching his frustration in trying to untangle the mess, I took it, sent him off to make lunch and in about 15 minutes presented him with the separate pieces of line. It reminded me of my early years in retail where the jewelry department would bring me boxes of tangled up necklaces to sort out on slow nights back in my area of the home shop. I seemed to be the only one with the patience to work at the mess until each piece was free. Little did I know that this tiny talent would be tested time and time again.


If you have the blessing of several decades under your belt, I’m sure you have recognized patterns and recurring themes in your life. If you are early in your journey on this earth maybe not, but if you pay attention, you will too. One of mine is The Untangler evidently. Physically and metaphorically. 

In my recent middle-of-the-night knitting sessions I realized that as I made hundreds of little loops to create a garment, my brain was tediously un-looping one problem after another in this tangled up mess that is my late sister-in-law’s estate. I also realized that over the years I have been given the task OR had forced upon me the task of straightening out  messes of increasing complication and they were usually created by OTHER PEOPLE. I have made my share of messes all by myself but either they were not so bad or I’m more proficient at fixing my own messes. 
As I knitted I tried to think of the names I would give to the subtle talents of other people I know. These would be people I know very well because these are not obvious talents nor are they the professions of these folks though elements may be involved. The Healer would be one of the first. Not doctors or nurses, but those glorious people who, through the almost lost art of listening and attention, help you heal from life’s wounds. The Connector would be another. They know EVERYONE and make mental connections that bring different people together to accomplish goals, big and little. There is The Mediator that has probably been helping their people work out differences since the first playground incident. The Warrior comes in to decide and end a dispute The Mediator has given up on. I haven’t seen an abundance of The Warriors, which is good, not because they are bad people, but because to end a battle there is often a high personal and emotional price for The Warrior to pay just like in any war. 

This brings up another observation. These ingrained “gifts” are not chosen and are often a source of high stress. For me to untangle a big mess takes enormous energy, time and frustration. Time away from what I want and need to be doing and looking at the list above I think that would be true in each category. To live as a society and it could be argued, to even survive as humans we need each and every one of these abilities as well as any I have not mentioned.  I guess we should look at them as a part of our contribution for life on planet Earth. 

Have a wonderful week and bless you for THE GIFTS you bring to ease the difficulties of humankind. 

Photo credit…if one shows up its mine but there seems to be an uploading issue today. I gave up waiting on it to load.

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Seeking normal

Hello everyone! I was determined to get a post in this week. Better late than never. Last week we did not have any cell service at the school where we stayed so I could not post anything.

Wedding over. Move over. Mission trip over. Now it is down to finding all my stuff, creating a realistic schedule and settling into a new normal. This week none of that happened. My car has been undergoing repairs the whole month of June. Changing my name has taken a ridiculous amount of time. The garden has required work to get it back in shape after being gone for a week and unexpected farm chores and family/friend visits have slowed down planned projects.  Maybe this IS the new normal!

I did get my work space somewhat workable, found my paints and managed to squeeze in time to do these tiny paintings this week. It’s a start!

First painting in my new home and new life.
First painting in my new home and new life.

Here are some pictures of our life events of the past three weeks.

My bouquet and table arrangements
My bouquet and table arrangements
Our walk in the woods to the ceremony.
Our walk in the woods to the ceremony.
Vows by the lake.
Vows by the lake.
Our simple, vegan wedding cake made by my daughter.
Our simple, vegan wedding cake made by my daughter.
There were threats involved here. It was too hot to have chocolate cake smeared on my face.
There were threats involved here. It was too hot to have chocolate cake smeared on my face.

The ASP mission trip involves a caravan of rented vans to get all of the humans and equipment to our destination.

Our customized ASP van!
Our customized ASP van!

This was my 7th and Danny’s 3rd year on the ASP trip.  Each year there is a core group involved who believe in having a good time.  Pranks and jokes are daily occurrences.  One of the men stated that he laughs more in this one week than he does the rest of the year.  This year… well see for yourself.

First night at the center we found this in the hallway.
First night at the center we found this in the hallway.
Can you read the sign? Honeymoon Suite
Can you read the sign? Honeymoon Suite
Who can beat this for honeymoon accommodations???
Who can beat this for honeymoon accommodations???
Our team hard at work on dry wall.
Our team hard at work on dry wall.

We got home Saturday and slept the whole afternoon and most of Sunday as well.  There isn’t much rest on ASP.  This week I managed to get my office/studio is some sort of working order and just had to get my hands on a paint brush.

 

If all goes well, I will be back on schedule next week.  For my American readers, I wish you a fun, safe July 4th weekend.

What I did on my summer vacation

Hi Everyone!

I am back from vacation and have almost recovered.  Hopefully by the time this post shows up in your inbox I will have unpacked.

Let me tell you a little about how I spend my time for a week each June.  For the past nine years I have packed up my WORST clothes, a bag of tools, and an air mattress to head into the Appalachian mountains with one or both of my kids and van loads of other adults and teenagers from my church youth group.  This year there were 62 of us that divided into eight groups that worked to repair eight homes for people in that area who, for various reasons, have not been able to keep their homes either warm, safe or dry.

We go as volunteers for the Appalachia Service Project. Normally we reside in an unused high school, sleeping in either the gym or old classrooms, eating in the cafeteria and if we are lucky, showering in the old gym showers.  Hot water is often a luxury.

IMG_2132

I wish I could clearly explain why I do this, but there are so many layers of reasons that it is hard to separate them out.  All I know is that each year this trip resets my heart/soul dials back where they are supposed to be.

The richest country on earth is not immune to serious poverty.  Each year we have teenagers who suddenly see for the first time what poverty looks like.  Each year, as adults, we remember how close we all walk to the thin line of disease and unemployment that can devastate a family. Each year, we are all reminded of what is truly important in life.

Sometimes we are on the roof.
Sometimes we are on the roof.

The last evening of our trip is spent in a “share circle” where everyone is welcome to share special moments of the week.  This year the overriding message seemed to be “you are where you are supposed to be”.  Many of the stories relayed events that in the midst of being busy, frustrated, delayed, something happened that made the individual(s) realize that if they had not been there at that moment, a bad thing could have been much worse.  Several of the teenagers were on the verge of losing faith or dealing with difficult life/family situations and the events of the week renewed their faith/strength/determination. The adults are not immune to the power of these trips either.  While we go there to help complete strangers and hope that we make a positive difference in their lives, as volunteers, we may be the ones who come away with the most change in our lives.

Sometimes we are working on the ground.
Sometimes we are working on the ground.

It’s not all work and seriousness by any means.  I may not laugh all year as much as I do on this trip. I also don’t eat as much junk food and ice cream as I do on this trip! Not only do we get to know the people we help, we get to know each other.  My crazy vacation reminds me that the next generation includes some amazing young people who will still bring goodness and humor into the future.

Sometimes we are in dark, damp, scary places.
Sometimes we are in dark, damp, scary places.

My advice to anyone who is finding life to be hard, busy, routine, boring or empty is to go and volunteer somewhere that takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you in service of others.  It is the best anti-depressant on this beautiful earth.

While I’m gone

You are reading this while I am somewhere in the hills of Kentucky. This is my annual “vacation” week. I haven’t had a traditional, rest-by-the-beach vacation in almost 10 years. I keep thinking I need to do that soon.

Anyway, each year I go with our high school youth group from church and repair homes with the Appalachia Service Project (asphome.org). We give up hot showers (usually), sleep in gym floors on air mattresses, work in hot or rain and live out of duffle bags. It’s a love it or hate it sort of thing. Those of us who love it just keep doing it. Maybe I will try and explain why I love it when I get back. It’s hard to explain because there are layers and layers of reasons. The layers switch in importance from year to year also. What I loved one year will be something different the next.

This year will be different because my newly married daughter will not be going. She was on my team the first year I went and we are going to the same place we were at that year. The family we helped then still holds a special place in our hearts and I wish they could see my daughter four years later as much as I wish she could see them.

I have to go finish packing and wrapping up all my work for the week. I will try to post some photos from Kentucky. Until I’m back I will leave you with a picture of my faithful assistant doing what he does best.
Have a wonderful week!

My wireless shredder!
My wireless shredder!

Shoes and a Mission

A funny thing happened on the way to buy some shoes. I suddenly found a good start to my mission statement. Even though I don’t have it all figured out yet with my new business I feel like there should always be a map of guiding principals to get you where you want to go. So, I’ve been pondering my mission statement and my business plan. I have several bits of paper with notes, but nothing formalized.

I work a part time retail customer service position that requires long hours of standing. No longer being in my 20’s, I refuse to wear shoes that look good but feel terrible. I am quite willing to turn that around and wear ugly shoes that feel good if I must, but I still prefer at least reasonably cute shoes. Hours of shopping and trying on things is not really my idea of fun anymore either so I decided to go online. I had heard good things about Zappos.com and took a look. Now I have several pairs of shoes to choose from by brand names that have a reputation for comfort and style, but the best part of the experience so far was checking out the Zappos Family Core Values.

1 – Deliver WOW through service
2 – Embrace and drive change
3 – Create fun and a little weirdness
4 – Be adventurous, creative & open minded
5 – Pursue growth and learning
6 – Build open & honest relationships with communication
7 – Build a positive team & family spirit
8 – Do more with less
9 – Be passionate and determined
10 – Be humble

I don’t think I can do any better than this. At least for the moment, I’m adopting the Zappos Family Core Values. Now, I haven’t made up my mind on which shoes to get yet so the customer service hasn’t been tested. I will let you know how it all goes.

Please keep my friend Bill and his family in your thoughts and prayers on the loss of his daughter. As I have this on my mind, I wish you all health, peace, love and laughter and never take a moment for granted.

Christel