Saturday, March 27, 2010

Intentions

A couple of weeks ago, I announced my intention to write a book on Facebook. Because nothing is true until it's declared on FB. My friends and family responded quite favorably, with lots of encouragement. I've thought about writing a book since I was a little kid. I was always writing short stories or poetry. In 8th grade, we were supposed to predict the future of whomever sat behind us and the person in front of me seemed stumped about my future so I told him I wanted to be an author. Presto changeo- at our 8th grade banquet, it was predicted that I would be an author! And yet...I've never really sat down to write a book. I've had false starts over the years, to be sure. I'm always, always coming up with story ideas or tweaking the plot for whatever I'm currently reading. In the last couple of years the urge to write has only grown stronger. It seems inevitable that I should give it an old college try. If I fail, at least I know. Maybe, just maybe I'll come up with something that other people will want to read. By other people, I mean people I'm not related to. There's a writing contest that ends in a few days and I'm hoping I'll have finished my opening scene so I can enter. The synopsis is finished. I'm composing scenes in my head. Now it's time to write.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spicy

When I meet with a certain patient's wife, we go across the street to a coffee shop so she can talk freely about the trials and tribulations of being a caregiver. Today, the coffee shop had not one chair or table to spare so we walked a few blocks further to the next place. Along the way, she spotted The Bleu Olive, a newly opened shop in downtown Wheaton. It is chock full of extra virgin olive oils, flavored and traditional balsamic vinegars, and more than 40 blends and rubs. Their business cards are actually trial size spice packets! I used the Adobo blend on my round roast tonight- so tasty! We were on a coffee-hunt so we couldn't stay to sample the oils but I plan to head back there ASAP. Go check it out!

Monday, March 15, 2010

#19: Spring Clean

Saturday was a rainy day, making it the perfect choice for Spring Cleaning. First I surveyed my room. And realized anew that I have lots of stuff.
Lots and lots of stuff.
Do I really need all this? I'm not a packrat but I do hold on to some things "just in case." I have fairly stringent rules when it comes to books- if I'll read it again, I keep it. Otherwise I donate it to work, friends, or a resale shop. I have a "one year to wear" rule for my clothes. Any "maybes" get a one year reprieve. If they haven't been worn by the next Clothing Swap, they are freed to a new home. I think my problem area is memorabilia. I'm too dang nostalgic. I take tons of pictures, which I am hopelessly behind on scrapbooking. I keep meaningful cards and letters for years. I actually found letters from a penpal from when I was 15 years old- our moms met at a craft show and decided we should be penpals. I think we only wrote for about a year but apparently I still treasure those letters. I have my old journals, term papers, drawings, books, etc. Some of my Spring Clean became therapeutic as I looked through the contents of my hope chest. And tried to remember why I had saved a short story Rachel Warner and I wrote when we were in 6th grade, poorly disguising our classmates' names and casting ourselves as the heroines. Or why a small foam volleyball from my youth group's April Assault was worth hanging on to. Or what I thought I would do with the regatta poster from my crew days. Some things made me laugh or get misty eyed and some things made me question my sanity.

In the end I have quite a few things to donate. My apartment complex is collecting items for The Cinderella Project, which donates prom, formal, and bridesmaid dresses, shoes, clutches, and new make up to girls who otherwise cannot afford them. So there goes my old prom dress and one of the few bridesmaid dresses I've held onto. I have a wide assortment of Christian books and CDs that I no longer want, freebies from my days working at The Christian Bookstore. So all that goes to the staff at my church. I've saved a pile of things for my parents to go through, like my signed Michael W. Smith CD- my dad's a big fan. There's clothes for the Clothing Swap my friends and I do every spring and fall.
And then there's clothes, knickknacks, books, CDs, household decor, and more that will be donated to a resale shop my friend's church supports. It feels really good to be holding on to the things I need and pass on everything else to the people that need them. And it feels good to cross another item off of 31 Things!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Sweet Spot

I've been contemplating some changes for the past year and now I'm at a point where I'm ready to move forward. Only I'm not quite sure which direction to go. What do I do when I'm making decisions? I research! I talk to friends and family. I read books and articles. I pray. When I went to the library last week, I picked up Max Lucado's "Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot." Parts of the book seemed borrowed from his other writing but there was enough in there to get me thinking. Plus, he includes a Sweet Spot Discovery Guide, developed by People Management International, Inc. and Steve Halliday.

Towards the end of the book, Lucado shares a time in his life that led him to step back and reassess what he was doing. He writes, "Renewal began when I paused on purpose." I suppose that is what I am doing now. Not literally- I'm still working after all. I am trying to figure out what is next. The idea of my life staying the same for the next 5 years terrifies me, not because it's a bad life but because I feel stuck. I don't think I'm operating out of my strengths any more. I go to work with the best of intentions, praying for God's strength, but more often than not, my soul is weary. As Lucado would say, there is a disconnect between my design and my daily duties. I have some ideas about what I might want to do next but I'm just not sure.

Perhaps you will indulge me as I complete the first exercise? (Or perhaps you'll want to do it for yourself!) Lucado defines our sweet spot as "where what you do (your unique giftedness) intersects with why you do it (making a big deal out of God) and where you do it (every day of your life.)" The first step is to start in childhood and work your way up, considering times where you did something well and enjoyed doing it. Success and satisfaction. The guide notes that anything that gives a sense of joy and achievement is important, even if it seems silly. Concentrate on what you think, not what friends or family may think.

A few of mine:
Childhood
  • Read all the books for Battle of the Books and was a key player to help our team win meets and the Championship both years- a first for my school
  • Played with Matthew's little sisters when he was having a bad day (brain tumor)
  • Helped Mom break into Grandpa and Grandma's house so we could put the food away after great-grandma's funeral (ask if you want the full story)
  • Developed a recipe for a Tribune contest for kids. It missed the deadline but the reporter liked it so much, she called to interview me!
Youth
  • Became a mother's helper at 10 and started babysitting at 11- lots of regular families
  • Took a private art class in 8th grade that I loved
  • Won an honorable mention in my high school art fair
  • Set up an independent study with Mr. Harris where I taught 3 lessons to his sophomore English class. He used one of my ideas in subsequent classes!
  • Any paper I wrote for Mr. Harris and Dr. Langlas- positive feedback
  • Set up creative displays throughout The Christian Bookstore and it became my specialty, especially in the music department
  • My poem was published in my high school's annual poetry and prose magazine
Adult
  • Started Chili and Doughnut Night, Pasta and Praise, Dinner Club, tea parties, wine and cheese parties...any opportunity to cook and extend hospitality
  • Helped a patient develop his own Bucket List
  • Able to listen and ask the right questions to help people figure out their next steps or process whatever they're going through- too many times to count
  • Started blogging in 2006- Confessions is now part of a hospice and palliative care blogging network that has substantially increased my audience and led to the creation of this blog
  • Painted a canvas for my living room that gets many compliments
  • Hiked the Grand Canyon to raise support for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
  • Created annual Ode to Friendship mix CDs that get rave reviews from friends
  • Nannied for a family for 4 months while their nanny was on maternity leave. The parents were so impressed by their kids' better behavior, they had me write up a list of rules and guidelines for the original nanny to follow.
  • Worked with special needs children in Thailand- able to connect with a nonverbal child with autism and several others despite the language barrier
From there, the sweet spot experiences are further developed but I guess you'll have to buy the book for yourself if you want to follow along...I'll let you know if I come up with any earth-shattering revelations.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A good time away

My time in Ft. Collins for the Complicated Mourning training was great for some of the following reasons:
1) Soaking up the wisdom of bereavement expert Alan Wolfelt. Such a great guy!
2) The incredibly comfy bed at the Marriott.

3) Ordering room service and watching The Bachelor finale. Seriously, this burger was amazing. Jake's pick for his mate, not so amazing. (Alan and I had a heart-to-heart about Jake, Vienna, and Tenly the next day. It turns out he watches the show with his daughter and we're in agreement that Jake and Vienna will not last for long.)

4) Giant cookies at Mary's Mountain Cookies. Snickers Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Peanut Butter Avalanche- so good!
5) Making new friends at the training- there's something about these trainings that create a bond.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

T-shirt Blanket

I crossed #18 off the list a couple of weeks ago but my laptop was out being repaired until yesterday. I am proud to say I finished my latest t-shirt blanket. This is a nice way to hang on to mementos without adding clutter. I've made 2 t-shirt blankets in the past (using high school and then college t-shirts) but this is more of a hodge podge of t-shirts from my life. I have t-shirts from the plays I was in during junior high (go WCGS!), various trips I've been on, young adult group retreats, college homecoming (the only one I ever bought, which was remarkably comfortable), Camp Timberlee, rowing, etc. It's actually a nice way to look back on everything I've done. I don't try to be precise when I'm putting these together, I just sew away.

I cut the t-shirts up and then match up sizes before starting to sew. I also cut out little notions, such as freebie White Sox hats, a tank top I puffy painted for one of our college camping trips, and the like, and then sewed those on free hand or with the sewing machine as embellishments.

Sections waiting to be sewn together

I love using my grandma's sewing machine!
Sometimes I wonder if this is the one she taught me on.

The final product, front and back
It is so warm and cozy!