Thursday, October 8, 2009

Going out on a limb...or not

Here's a thought:

With the economy in the pits, no pardon me, what I meant to say was with our nation in the midst of a jobless recovery(how's that for an oxymoron) I think all of us little people are being called on.

And all of you many readers of my blog(okay I mean you Excavator) ask, "Called to what?"

Well, if all these many lifecoaches, evidenced by their many blogs, are any indicator, we are being called upon to BE CREATIVE!! and not wait for the government stimulus money to get jobs and the economy stimulated. Books could be written in the time it's taking for any of this stimulus money to reach us little folks. Add to that that the planet's oil supply is clearly finite and we're getting ever closer to the bottom of that barrel, so to speak. Plus the carbon footprint we make with all the oil consumption, and beefmaking cows farting methane, is only making that footprint larger and more capable of stamping out life as we know it.

The old ways aren't working.

Big business seems to be working more and more for the big guy and needing the little guy(at least these American little guys) less and less. It's making this "little guy" think that small and grassroots is becoming the way to go. It would certainly fit with my notion that we are all made to be creative. It's just that many of us don't realize it or are too damn scared to do anything about it. And by creative I mean not only the artsy fartsy creative but the big C kind. The kind where we think: "Hmmmm things just don't seem to be working so well anymore. How can we create something that will work?"

I'm thinking the kind of creative that has us average employable(but not employed yet), or more employable(but not more employed yet), folks climbing up and out of the rut of "buy, consume and throw away" that our society seems to be stuck in and saying:

"There's got to be a better way!"

It's the kind of creative that has us average folks noticing that:
jobs are going overseas or elsewhere because it's cheaper for big companies to do so;
any potential for real growth job-wise will probably be in green industries and...still waiting...
buying local is kinder to the planet and to small farmers
our schools are letting our kids down
our healthcare system is failing fast(maybe all wouldn't be in agreement on this point, but let's just pretend for the sake of argument)
our infrastructures are getting old and slowly crumbling

The old ways aren't working but there are plenty of powerful people who continue to be invested in those old ways for their own sakes. So maybe it's time for all us "little guys"(I use guys as a genderless term here, as I always have)to step up and say:

"There's got to be a better way and either we're going to find it or we're going to create it ourselves!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Visit to Index

I had a job this past weekend as details person for a retreat at Camp Huston, a camp/conference center in Gold Bar, WA. It's located off hiway 2 as you head up towards Stephen's Pass. The job was good. I was assisting the Ethnic Missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia at a retreat. The setting would have made just about any job okay with me, there in the foothills of the Cascades, up the hill from the Skykomish River, I believe it was. I got plenty of exercise walking up and down from the lower camp to the upper camp, the highlite of those up and downhill hikes being the pleasure of hearing the river's song each time I walked back down to the lower camp from the upper camp.

I rode to and from the retreat with a woman from my church and her grandson. On the way back, we'd planned to take something of a scenic route, she asked if I'd be interested in going a little further east on Hiway 2 to Index, WA. I was absolutely up for that little excursion and so we went.

As my friend, her sleeping grandson and I drove through this teeny town she asked if I'd like to stop at the little history museum. I said "yes". We parked and she stayed in the van with her grandson while I popped into the museum and encountered a volunteer who knew his Index history and knew how to share it in a way that was both interesting and informative. I would have happily stayed longer asking him questions and learning more history but was concerned that my friend would be antsy to get rolling. So I went outside and found that she now appeared to be napping as well and I decided to pop into the little art gallery next door.

For some reason I didn't expect there to be anyone inside and I certainly didn't expect to find someone in the act of creating. But that was exactly what I found: a man who, after spending years making and selling very popular birdhouses, had switched to painting and drawing. I stepped into this little building and was startled when I saw him sitting, legs folded up in front of him on his little folding chair painting away, creating the most beautiful picture of what was out the door and across the river from us.

I tend to be very intimidated by artists and art museums, but this man and the little building containing him, his works and those of several other local artists was anything but. In those moments that we spoke he didn't for a second fit the "moody unapproachable artist" image that I had in my mind. He was kind and open and only too happy to talk with me about his work and share a bit about how he came to be doing what he was doing.

The encounter really impacted me. Those few minutes of just he and I talking about his paintings, the recent successful Index Art Fair, his aversion to computers and the very off-the-grid way he was living his life were not "a dime a dozen" moments. He shared openly and didn't seem to feel intruded upon by my interest and questions. We talked, as he continued to paint, and as I walked around a bit and explored the other room and other art. His work was the most striking and the most beautiful, to this beholder, and I thought how I'd love to find a way to spread the word around a bit about what beautiful things he was creating. His paintings have an impressionist feel to them and his inspirations for his creations are his immediate surroundings of the landscapes both large and small, of Index. He said that at one point during the winter he ran out of paint and canvas so started doing charcoal drawings. They are not impressionistic, but more realistic, of faces of some of the people of Index, and also very beautiful.

I guess I just fell in love with his art right then and there. Some moments of magic on an August Sunday afternoon. What a blessing they were and, in my recollecting, will continue to be.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Facebook and these times we're in...

Yesterday I received a message in my Facebook inbox from a possible highschool classmate who was asking me if I was the person who had given him a few driving lessons in various parking lots when we were in school.

As I sat and reached back into my memory some 30 odd years something flashed vaguely familiar in my mind. Then there was the picture of a face, then the sound of a laugh, a collection of rooms that made up the school newspaper office and vaguely, very vaguely a recollection of some driving lessons. I was this person he was thinking of.

So I responded in a message to him that, yes, I did dimly recall giving some driving lessons, that it was good to hear from him and that I hoped he and his family were well. Later I sent him a friendship request and he accepted it. Tonite we chatted on Facebook, did some reminiscence Re: our time on the school newspaper, some catch up and some sharing of stories and I was reminded once again that I knew some really good people in highschool, Sean being one of them.

I knew some really good people in college too, especially my freshman year. In both highschool and freshman year of college I had the good fortune to be a part of communities that were basically nourishing and supportive ones. Now, some 30 years later, I'm reconnecting with many of these people on Facebook and finding that I still have significant things in common with many of them and that they are people I would want to spend time with in present time.

What great fortune to be reconnecting. When did this gathering together of people start? For me it was some time this summer when I began instant messaging back and forth with an old college roommate, then I reconnected with an old boyfriend from college through email, then a current day friend invited me to join Facebook and from there I began reconnecting with all sorts of highschool friends. Until a few months ago I thought Facebook was just for teens and young adults and now I think it's a most wonderful tool for people from all over the world to meet up. Some of my Facebook friends are family members, some are current day friends, some friends from college and highschool and, increasingly, some are ones disovered while on Facebook. These social networking sites are a way for people to keep in touch and connected with each other in a time in a world where so much is uncertain and frightening and when people are physically so spread out and disconnected.

I barely know my current day neighbors, although today I had a 15 minute conversation with a neighbor and his wife about used cars, replacement windows and job prospects. This is the same neighbor who gave me a good 15 minutes of his time helping me dig my car out of the snow back in December when we here in Western, WA were having uncharacteristically snowy, winter weather. As a child we all knew and looked out for our neighbors as a matter of course. That same attitude of a community of neighbors is much rarer today. But the need for community doesn't go away just because people's lives get too busy or self-absorbed, though it may go underground for a period of time. Maybe Facebook, other social networking sites, and the many many blogs that fill cyberspace are examples of how people are attempting to meet this need for community. And maybe tough times, like weather events, along with a community organizer President who is asking that all of us step up and take more responsibility, will end up being the fertilizer that these community seeds need to be nourished and grow.

Any one who reads this please forgive me if I sound dramatic. I think our chances for continued thrival(new word cause i love rhymes) and survival as a civilization depends on us stepping up and committing to really taking care of our sorely neglected communities.

I'm on the board of the Parent Teacher Group at my daughter's school and we are in the planning and preparation process for an auction and raffle later in March. At one point our Auction Committee chair said something about the parents of the 2008-2009 sixth grade class being willing to put a few dollars towards something for the 2009-2010 sixth grade class and the consensus was that parents of this year's sixth graders would be unwilling to "pay it forward" to next year's sixth grade class. I was struck by that notion just as I'm struck by people's unwillingness to pass a school levy as if somehow the success or failure of the future sixth grade class or that of the child next door or across the street isn't significant to the household without children or the students who are moving on to middle school and their parents.

Whether we like it or not we're all interconnected and interdependant and ultimately unless we commit to surviving and thriving together as school, neigborhood, city, state and country communities and as a world community we'll do niether. Witness the blocks with one or two houses being foreclosed on and the property values of the rest of the homes dropping down, banks, auto companies, businesses failing and that failure rippling out, down, up. Polar ice caps melting, polar bears drowning, sea levels and temperatures rising,islands going under and people being displaced from their homes and to where? Droughts in California meaning little or no produce for sale, less or no livelihood for farmers and farmworkers and less produce meaning more cost for consumers whose budgets are already pinched.

So what's my point? Mostly I think my point is that continuing to deny the truth of our interconnectedness and our need to care for that innterconnectedness by nurturing our communities has gotten us in a deep mess of trouble.

Personally I'm hopeful that we can get ourselves out of this deep mess, although it won't be without some scars and permanent loss, but the old ways of us vs. them are less and less efficacious as the days, years, centuries and ages go on and may just be a luxury we, as a people, can no longer afford.

End of muse /morphed into/ sermon.

For some encouragement regarding our potential for rising to the occasion see:


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Economic Downturn Does Hit Home

It's official as of Wednesday Feb. 11, 2009. My husband no longer has a job. So what's next? We get our physicals with our two months worth of insurance and hope we're healthy. I finally start looking for another part-time job and submit applications at the places I've been thinking of applying to for months but haven't because I hate filling out applications. Now it's too damn bad if I hate filling out apps....And I hope for the best. And mixed in with these two things I try to strike a balance between giving my husband the space to figure out what he wants/needs to do, how he needs/wants to proceed and address my need to know what he's thinking, planning, my need to offer ideas, to. Of course there's plenty more that needs to be on the list, no doubt. These are just the things that spring immediately to my mind. I think in my mind, "Why us? Again just 2 1/2 years after relocating after another layoff." And i think to myself: "Why not us?" We're positively rich in comparison to the majority of the world's population. But that line of thinking doesn't make me feel better, just ungrateful and discouraged.

And I think that our Govenor needs to go back on her word of no additional taxes and tax the upper 1 or 2 or 10% of people in this state who are filthy rich, or just rich, because why in the he** shouldn't they be affected by this? Why shouldn't some of their money put a dent in our huge deficit? How can it be ok in this day and place to let anyone be in a position to wonder if they can take their child to the Dr. or go themselves if need be? How can it be ok in this country for there to be as many people as there are living on the edge constantly, not just moving towards it as we are? So civilized the US is? Such equal opportunity the US offers?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the economic downturn hits home--maybe

I learned today that my husband's company is going to be laying off some folks in a couple of weeks. Rumor has it that some of them will be in his department. Well he's one of the newer employees so who knows what that will mean...I'm not surprised and I am scared...

So we'll just have to see

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sir Ken Robinson

I heard this man speak for the first time and found myself nodding continuously as I listened to what he had to say. He writes about, speaks about, teaches about creativity and educational reform with an eye to children's and adult's different ways of learning.

His conviction is that everyone is creative, but that it gets buried in most of us at an early age. He advocates adults excavating their own creativity seeds. He also calls on adults to be protectors and nurturers of our own and our children's(in the "it takes a village"sense) creative potential.

I feel as if i've been living under a rock to have not heard of him before. But the timing couldn't be more providential as I allowed myself to fantasize just last nite about what I'd like to see happen at my church: art and craft workshops put on by our own parishioners and open to the neighborhood for a donation of whatever they can afford; an after school program for school-age children that is a safe space for completion of homework and tutoring but also a space where creative pursuits are encouraged and supported.

As Sir Ken said (my interpretation) excavating our creative potential and developing it in ourselves, each other and our children would go a long way towards curing what ails our country and world. Now is the time for creativity, innovation, thinking and doing outside the box.

Nothing new here really, but maybe finally the time is ripe.

Check out his website:

Monday, January 26, 2009

My birthday was yesterday--i've begun my 50th year...

Why is it that time flies even when you're not having fun, after a certain age?

Faster and faster and higher and higher and i'm running trying to catch up and i just cant seem to and i still haven't figured out how to fly...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The twelfth day and the Epiphany

Last nite was the twelfth nite of Christmas. I don't know of anyone who takes this 12 days of Xmas stuff literally, but my daughter and I have decided that we want to somehow. For me, at least in part, it is a rebellion against the total commercialization of the holiday, one that starts the day after Thanksgiving(or earlier) and goes thru the 25th(although just barely) followed on the 26th by the holiday of "Sale Shopping".

There are so many reasons why this is a good idea. This year, and probably from now on, we made lots of our gifts. As a late bloomer in every aspect of my life making lots of gifts has me scrambling(or feeling I should be) to get things ready and in the mail for friends and family to be there by Xmas. With the celebration of the 12 Days of Xmas some of that pressure to have everything(or anything) mailed in time to arrive by the 25th is removed. Finishing up with gift making during those 12 days is one way to keep my family, who are far away, closer. As I work on completing their gifts I hold them even closer in mind than I might normally. Now today is the Epiphany(the day after the 12 day of Christmas) and i've still put nothing in the mail, but I'm much closer than I was Xmas Eve. I think celebrating the 12 Days of Xmas will help me be less behind than I normally am.

I'm not sure what other forms this developing celebration of the 12 Days of Christmas will take beyond what I've already described. Maybe it won't be much different than when it was called Winter Break. Framed in the context of Christ's birth, which I like to think of in metaphorical terms in addition to the celebration of the actual birth of the actual person, for me, opens the door to discovering meanings which are life-affirming and renewing.

When I think of that precious baby Jesus it's hard not to think of all babies, and how precious each of them is. From there I think of precious birth in terms of what might be trying to be born in me and how might I support and nurture that humble birth in me and such births in my daughter, my family ,friends and the people I come into contact with as I move through my days. As Christians we are charged with seeing Christ in the face of even the most unlikely person. Why would that not include seeing Christ in ourselves--seeing that innocence that potential, that preciousness of that baby and later, as he grew, that strength, wisdom, compassion and vulnerability in ourselves?

Perhaps this quote I stumbled upon is at the root of some of these musings.

"The secret of Christmas:your own heart is the manger in which the birth of Christ takes place." Puran Bair

May your hearts be blessed with many "precious births" in the days and years to come.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Here's to a new year where compassion, creativity, innovation, thoughtfulness and an attitude of hope are more the rule for our country than the exception.