Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Things

1. I wear a sweatshirt at some point nearly every day that I received in 1989. It is gray and says "WJC" on it.

2. I have synesthesia.

3. I find the taste/smell of peppermint really offensive.

4. I love my work and have known almost exactly what I wanted to do since 2nd grade.

5. My favorite cookie is one I've made since 3rd grade. I have terrible cravings for it and make the recipe 1-2x/week.

6. In 7th grade I thought that although my parents couldn't afford ice skating lessons, I could still make the Olympics. I took a stack of library books (on skating) to the rink to teach myself.

7. I bake something for my family's breakfast nearly every day. Although I love these things (scones, muffins, biscuits, breakfast cookies, pancakes), I always eat granola (also homemade).

8. I am frugal and consider a life of simplicity a spiritual ideal.

9. Growing up, I was always picked last for games like kickball. I fell in love with running in my mid twenties and thoroughly enjoy being outside running, cycling, hiking and swimming.

10. I have loved fiber and fabric my entire life. In college I wove my own fabric and had looms in my dorm room (my roommate was very tolerant of the late-night clacking). I create quilts and sew handbags I design myself. I am terrible at sewing clothes which is really disappointing.

11. My golden retriever Sam is my soulmate. He's been with me for over ten years and until recently (when his arthritis worsened) was my running partner. He and I talk all day long.

12. I can't decide whether my dream house would be some primitive cabin in the woods or a loft in Manhattan.

13. I am not very girly when it comes to clothes. I love the kind of clothing sold in stores that also sell kayaks.

14. Erik calls me a shark, saying I would die if I were still. Even on a Sunday afternoon I am criss-crossing the house "annihilating" (his word) things off a list. If I'm not busy, I'm asleep.

15. I imagine I was the only 16-year-old subscribing to "Theology Today" (Princeton University's ecumenical journal). All my life I've enjoyed reading about religion and wondering about the why and how of faith.

16. Some people have a bucket of things they want to do in their life. My goals are more inner than outer, like being more kind, patient, wise, etc. I am sorely behind and would hate to meet someone less patient than myself.

17. I find the role of motherhood very challenging.

18. I feel like I'm ten again when I bicycle the country roads in my county.

19. There is a Luddite aspect to my personality. I despise cell phones and despite working in technology, find many gadgets "middling."

20. I find business thrilling and enjoy working on teams. My mentors are people who lead by practicing kindness, courtesy, dignity and respect - at the same time they are strategic, critical thinkers. I attempt to practice integrity in every moment with my work.

21. In the summer I make the best pie with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

22. I enjoy gardening and love the smell of fresh mulch.

23. One of my favorite things is attending the Indiana State Fair each August. I love the animals and am partial to the sheep. I hate fried foods and am the only one at the Fair looking for a salad.

24. I love reading children's books and want to hear the story and see the pictures as much as my kids. I am an absolute glut at the library and stagger out once or twice a week (most are children's books).

25. I took piano for 14 years and might've been a classical pianist were it not for excruciating stage fright. I own a piano and still love to play.

Friday, January 23, 2009


"One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself."

- Lucille Ball

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Writing Letters

Sarah is writing letters.

For weeks she has been reading voraciously - the kind of "do we have to eat now?" reading. She reads in bed with her knees drawn up, her nose literally stuck down in the book. Apparently she got the idea of a pen pal from one of her books.

One evening (right at bedtime, of course) she told me she wanted a pen pal - and now. She had a vision - no cousins or existing friends. She wanted to find a new friend and learn about her completely from the letters. After some head scratching, I mentioned an 8-year old daughter of a high school friend of mine. Sarah decided S. was a good fit - only after learning she also has braces and reviewing her photos on Facebook. I put Sarah in bed and smiled to myself as I shut off her light. I understood her desire as I had had a childhood pen pal or two.

Apparently Sarah's light didn't stay off because the next day at breakfast Sarah bolted into the kitchen flashing a good-sized letter. I couldn't get mad - she bounced keen with purpose. She was on a Mission. We tucked the letter in an envelope and west it traveled, to Missouri. A return letter is rumored to be  coming this way and let's hope it comes soon - she asks every day.

The second letter happened after she and I read a book one evening about a girl in the 1800s. The girl in the book had  demands foreign to Sarah. "Abbie" couldn't attend the same school as her brothers and was expected to marry and not pursue her own career. This information was not as interesting to Sarah as the fact that girls had to wear dresses all the time. She decided to write Great-Grandmother right then and there so she could learn what Great-Grandmother wore when she was a little girl on the farm. "Did you ever get to wear pants?" a concerned Sarah began. Sarah wrote a similar (but shorter) letter to Great-Granddad "so he wouldn't feel left out." On both letters she drew pictures of them, holding onto their walkers, and her at their side. We don't get to see my grandparents every year so I'm sure my grandparents will treasure the notes.

The inauguration spawned the third letter of the week. This girl inherited her father's obsession to know everything about politics. She was absolutely thrilled to have seen the inaugural ceremonies at school and wanted me to play her made-up presidential trivia game (no, I really don't care that Obama used to own pet crocodiles...). Like I'm sure many girls right now Sarah has fallen in love with the First Family. After the evening news (with more about the First Family), she sat down to write Sasha. "How is your new bedroom?" she began. She identifies with the girls in the same way I'm sure many Americans identify with Barack. Sarah wasn't swayed in the least when I said casually, "you know, Sasha might not be able to write you back." That was okay, she said. It was her own way of well-wishing and welcoming her to the White House. Of being part of that very grand and historical moment.

What I find interesting about Sarah's letter writing is her intention. She has a ritual - at the desk, with certain pens, her favorite paper. It is evening. She is reflective. Her words are true - she asks what she really wants to know. Her words show that she is thinking about the other person reading and answering, and how they feel doing so. The process is not something she has to do (like how I feel when I write thank you's and perhaps the occasional blog entry!). Sarah is relishing the moment as she considers her words and attempts to spell them with her 2nd grade vocabulary. She is hopeful about the person and not just the letter. With the pictures she draws in the margins, she is picturing the person, seeing them.

What she tells me is that it is (still) important that we write people. That our words matter. That taking time to write is not "taking" time, that letters are a treat on both ends of the mail route. That letters can connect all ages and connect us to family and new friends.

What I like most is that she is loving the person as much as the activity. I wonder what it would be like if we all wrote something each day, to someone.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nighty Night-gown

Hello again. It's been good to take a break. I've been trying to keep things as simple as possible. It was work and family over the holidays. Both, so nothing else, if you understand. Saturday I finally got a real break from both. I was a real sloth, watching movies all day. It was delightful. I remembered how I need to slow down - completely - from time to time.

As you might guess, I haven't sewn in a while. I completed several quick projects for holiday gifts. My plan was to not start anything new. Then Sarah and I (how did we end up in Jo-Ann?) bought some fun flannel in an ice skating print and I promised a nightshirt. And a project was born. And, Sarah loved the fabric so how could I refuse?