Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Stop the Glorification of Busy



As a college senior I worked two part-time jobs in addition to student teaching.  Hearing fellow students complain about the stress of student teachng without the added workload of the other jobs, I admit I felt superior. When my kids were small I took pride in juggling work, home and volunteer duties.  I wore the bags under my eyes from sleep lost in order to allow more work hours into each day like dark, puffy badges of honor.
Busyness becomes a god we sacrifice far too much to.  Our health, our families, our friendships and our peace of mind all suffer when we continually push ourselves beyond what is reasonable.  We develop tunnel vision looking only towards our goal and missing the blessings that surround us every day.
There is danger in the pride that comes from living life as though we can do it all on our own.  One day we look up and realize that is exactly how we are doing life–alone.
We will be much happier when we slow down,  doing one task at a time and giving it our full attention.  We will find more satisfaction in the work. Then to be truly happy, once that task is finished we should put it away and turn our attention–our full attention–to the people in our lives.






Mama Kat prompt: What were you writing about a year ago?  Something I still need to remind myself!

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Rich Tapestry

We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.  --Maya Angelou


A new mural covers the wall of a building across the street from the National Park's Brown v Topeka Board of Education site.  We were given the opportunity to help underwrite the mural project and to paint on it some as well.  The day we painted was memorable for me.  As I worked, my family painted alongside me on the right, and some of my students painted with me on the left.  I have worked with many students through my years in the Topeka Public Schools.  We chose TPS for our own kids' education.  USD 501 does not have a perfect history, but it does have the distinction of being the place where America attempted to right a wrong for a little girl named Linda Brown and all other children who would follow.  Children deserve safe, welcoming, and adequately funded schools in which to learn.  It is a priveledge to do my part to help see they get that in Topeka.

A Supreme Court ruling  that stuck down Separate but Equal
The opportunity to work along with others--some I know and love, some who simply share the understanding of the importance of the Brown v Board decision
A tapestry of colors 
My family.  My students.
Beautiful weather that lures you outside
Cooperation that leads to a finished project
Plants
Love and support from the people in my life
Stories--whether the lifestory of a person I know, a book that captures my imagination, family tales that I have heard a million times.  Stories give life meaning.



Monday, August 27, 2018

A New Day



He wakes again before the first real light, slipping away in that part of the day that still registers only in black and white.  Experiences and interactions have yet to color this day for good or ill.  It is still merely potential, and it beckons him from our bed.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Making Do


Several years ago I came across these vintage promotional items on the internet.  The button is from WWI, and the booklet came out during the Second World War.  Materials and goods were scarce during wartime, and people drastically altered their lifestyles as a matter of patriotism.  It is easy to romanticize those days, but the sacrifices people made were real.

Times aren’t nearly so bad for me in present day Topeka, KS; still, these images speak to me.  Around the time I stumbled across the images above, we started to go through old photographs to cull pictures for the many “memory board” activities that preceded my son’s high school graduation.  My kids began to point out how many of their childhood photos showed me in clothing I still wear today.  They give me a hard time about the twenty-year-old items in my wardrobe, but it doesn’t bother me.  I don’t care much about fashion as long as I look presentable; and if I am home painting or gardening even presentable becomes negotiable.  Thumbing through those photos, an idea for belt tightening hit me.  While the kids were all three in college or dental school,  I followed the philosophy behind the WWI button:  I am making my old clothes do.


I was able to do this because:
I have always believed in buying quality.  So, what is in my closet is well constructed from reliable, natural fabrics.

I do not follow trends.  I choose things that have simple lines and classic design which keeps them from becoming dated too easily.
I personally don’t place a high value on fashion.  Some people express themselves in what they wear which would make this choice harder.  I express myself in art, writing and decorating my home.  For me clothes are pretty much just functional.

I hate to shop.


For the past five years I have been embracing this lifestyle.  It fits well in my overall life-simplifying plan. I play little games with myself to keep it light-hearted, choosing one garment at a time to wear to death.  As I write this I am wearing the current target, a blue striped Ralph Lauren shirt circa 1991.  The cotton is worn, soft and comfortable, the collar and cuffs gently frayed at their edges.  Its like an old friend I will miss when it is gone…   just as I will eventually miss the peach shirt that steps into replace it or the lavender that will replace the peach.


I wonder about the sense of gratitude I now feel for the literal shirt on my back. With each garment that passes to the rag bag, I feel a sense of satisfaction that it has served its purpose well. Would I even notice my old favorites slipping away, if I had not made the commitment to be conscious about fully using what I have before buying more?  I suspect not.  Five years ago I thought I was making a sacrifice, but instead I find myself content and more aware of simple everyday blessings.  In the end, making do has been no sacrifice at all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

OK, Oklahoma

OK, Oklahoma,
I am sending you my first born.
She has been dreaming of this moment since she was four.  Then together we have dreamed this moment would take place right there in the heart of Oklahoma City ever since laying eyes on OU’s dental school campus with its green spaces and down-home-friendly folks.
Being a Prairie Girl myself, I know there is more than dentistry she can learn there.  When the wind comes sweeping down the plain as it seems to with far too much frequency and voracity, she will learn resiliency.  When knocked down, she will learn to rise back up.
She will learn to find beauty in the spare.  Looking at the vast horizon she will see past herself and gain perspective of her place in the world.  Looking into the star filled night sky she will make her wishes, and dealing with a land that can be harsh she will gain the strength and wisdom to make those wishes come true.
I am sending her with confidence knowing you will be good for her and to her.  Knowing there is space enough on your plains for her to grow into the woman she is meant to be.  Knowing in Oklahoma she will be OK.

More of my look back to the back to school season five years ago.

Oklahoma, Here She Comes

Another look back to that back to school season that took the Dentist to her training in OKC.

A few days ago we loaded a mix of things passed down from family, found along the curb, or purchased for just this day into a moving van and headed into the new adventure that awaits our daughter as she begins dental school in Oklahoma.

The excitement was palpable.  Everything she has worked for has been leading up to this day.  What a joy that we were all able to help her out and be here to share it with her.  And yet that darned van full of her stuff lurking out front did seem to mock me just a little bit.


To me the hardest part of a move is always when you are looking at what you are leaving behind.  Once we got there and started pulling the place together it was good times!


We arranged an explosion of mirror bubbles over her bed.


And discovered much subliminal messaging in her art…a glittery golden Kansas outline, a reproduction of an architectural drawing of her high school signed by friends and teachers at her graduation, and a series of prints her father did in studio his freshman year of college documenting his own letters home.
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.






We found the perfect spot for this La Femme à la fête, a souvenir  from her visit to a winery in France, to send her off each morning with a toast.



Most of our time was spent hefting furniture and unpacking boxes.  I will include more shots of the assembled apartment next time I get to visit.  The place is tiny, but really wonderful.  And adventure waits right outside her door.





The Spice of Life

Back to school can be a very nostolgic time for mom's of adult children.  I find myself reading posts written as my kids were heading off on fall adventures all over again.  This one conveys the nervous excitement of sending my eldest off to dental school, and the desire to do what I could to be of some use.


Over the course of the next several weeks we will be helping our first born set up her first apartment.  The dental school has made it abundantly clear that their program is meant to be a full-time pursuit, and they don’t anticipate the students will be working jobs concurrently with their studies.  This means her living expenses will be covered by student loans for the next four years.
I hate debt, so the thought of borrowing just to live makes me shudder.  I have been looking for all the ways we can help her limit spending as she establishes her own little home.  After all, we really have more than enough.  So, we have been shuffling furniture, kitchen supplies, sheets and other sundry items her way.
This week I hit the pantry and the spice cabinet to stock her non-perishable items and staples.  As I packed item after item into bags I had to smile at the thought of her using the things.  I mixed spices into old shakers to give her the blends she likes when her dad grills burgers or I make Grandma Susie’s spaghetti sauce.




 I sighed as I filled Boy Scout and Girl Scout tins with flour and sugar, and wondered how those Scouts could be heading out into the world so soon.  Has it been so long since they sold me these tins of popcorn and mints?



The spice cabinet was filled with several sugar sprinkle containers half to a quarter full of the same kinds of sprinkles.  When I worked at the church I had the children decorate holiday cookies for Ronald Mc Donald House, and the project called for many shakers  for all the helping hands.  I suppose last Christmas is the last Christmas for that tradition as well.  So, I combined like sprinkles into single containers, then washed and filled the empties with spices for the new apartment.


So many times in life the new brings with it an ending to the old.  In the pouring and filling of containers, I fought periodic waves of sadness at the passing of what had been.  For the most part, I felt the anticipation and expectation for what was about to come.  After all, I told myself as I measured the oregano and black pepper, change is the spice of life.
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