We are encouraged at the office to decorate for the holidays. I never have, but this year I am feeling compelled to decorate using only the large scraps of paper Jeff saves for me from the large format printer. I found some nice clip art of the 12 days of Christmas that translate well to paper cutting. Gauging from this first day of Christmas, the whole project would take about 20 hours. Can I squeeze it in between shopping, cleaning, cooking, baking, working extra holiday hours at the office and painting for a show? I did say I am feeling "compelled", which is why I think I will give it a shot.
The first batch of gingerbread! The first snow of winter! This post looks quite similar to Decembers of past years. I have a lot to learn about photography and my new camera. I am pretty thrilled with the photo of Ellie, taken from the warmth of my dining room, in my pajamas, shot through the window and the screen. Not bad.
Catching just the last 30 minutes of the documentary "Typeface" on PBS was enough to make me want to visit the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, WI as well as investigate Letterpress printing opportunities that may be in and around Chicago.
Those who know me well may have heard me joke that the one thing I learned while I was a Girl Scout leader is that I really don't like kids. I joke. That is not really true. But I did find that I experienced much stress and anxiety in my attempt to teach, or at the very minimum - manage, a large group of small children. I do want to help children, I am just overwhelmed by the enormous responsibility of keeping them safe and creating meaningful experiences for them. I was to the point that I felt I did not have an ounce of patience left.
So I thought when I completely stepped away from Girl Scouts, I could be a "helper" for Ellie's Girls on the Run team. When the running coach referred to me as a "coach," I would deny the title. "I just want to be a helper, and I am not even really much of a runner."
Girls on the Run is a twelve week program where girls learn about self respect and healthy living while also training to run a 5k race. I offered to show up for practices once a week and signed Daddy up to be Ellie's running buddy for the race. At the practices I was not responsible for the group, but at times I still found myself short on patience. It was then, I realized that it's not so much kids that stress me out, but lots commotion and activity. I really need more quiet time to myself. But, when does a busy mom find time for that - especially while volunteering in the kids' programs?
I wasn't sure what I would do at the practice 5k? One week before the race, the girls set out to complete the full 3.12 miles the best they can with their buddy, if their buddy could make it to the practice. Ellie had Daddy and Maya can run way faster than I can. I started out with the pack. I soon found myself running with a girl who was pretty much on her own. She was unsure about having a buddy for the race. I stayed by her side. We didn't do much running at all. She walked mostly. And, quite slowly. She complained of aches and pain and fatigue. In an hour, we ran out of time before we completed 3 miles. She shared many of her thoughts with me on many different topics. She mentioned that she wasn't even interested in the program and didn't want to do it.
I told the coach I would be there for her at the race if necessary. The coaches emphasized that to be her running buddy would take a great deal of patience. I could do this! I had patience for her. It was not the chaos of many children running in many different directions. It was not the hyperactivity of kids unable to sit still (quite the opposite). It was not many children talking over me while I was asking for silence so that I could give instruction. It was just her and I and over 56 minutes of walking slowly, occasionally jogging slowly. I had all the patience in the world.
During the race, she wasn't concerned with running as she looked back and was comforted by the fact that she was not the last runner on the course. I told her it wasn't about winning or losing, but running a 5k is about setting a personal goal and doing the best you can. I told her it didn't matter how long it took, but she might want to do another race and see if she could do it a little faster next time. Even if she didn't, completing a 5k is an accomplishment to be proud of, as many people wouldn't even consider it. Even if you walk the whole course, it's good exercise. She told me she plans on continuing running.
My running buddy taught me that I am patient and I am happy to volunteer. I just have to effectively match my personality traits with the volunteer work that I choose.
See you tomorrow with only one sentence. Happy NaBloPoMo.
I imagined I would sit out in nature with my sketchbook. The weather has been so perfect, why haven't I? But, last night I sketched from a photograph I took in the early spring of sedum sprouting from the ground. I have a scanner that came free with my new computer. It scans documents just fine, but it is not suitable for art. I am dreaming of buying a really nice camera. I mention this because, I am having a difficult time documenting the sketchbook project.
Spooky. If this looks familiar, that is because I posted it in March of 2008. I was frustrated with my inability to get any painting done, so I picked up a brush and faced the canvas with no expectation, other than possibly loosening up my brush strokes and allowing more emotion to flow into my work. It could have been the beginning of painting chaos that I would later organize with the structure of tree branches. When I stepped back from this, I couldn't stop looking at it and I didn't want to cover it up. The creepiness of it may be a reflection of unresolved issues in my subconscious mind. I am a bit disturbed and intrigued by myself. Please don't psychoanalyze it. That is my probably my biggest fear that keeps me from proceeding in that artistic direction.
I haven't been focused much on blogging lately. Life is more than sketchbook pages (the sketchbook project) and our new dog. I've been spending as much time as I can with my Mom. She has just begun grieving (commonly delayed). She needs the love and support of her children. I am grateful that there are 5 of us. Thinking about how many women are in this flux of caring for children and caring for parents? Sometimes, I dream of quitting my day job, but I know that wouldn't simplify my life.
On Friday, I had a meeting with Melissa at South Shore Arts. She invited me to hang with her. When I say "hang" I mean in exhibiting terms. Although chatting over lunch on Friday was fabulous as well. Having a show scheduled makes me want to create my best work yet, so where do I squeeze that in?
Such a calm, cool exterior. You would never imagine that this girl has some issues. I am amazed by this beautiful pet. She comes when I call her, sits, stays, fetches. She is eager to please. Lucky just doesn't want to be left alone. I am learning a lot about separation anxiety before resorting to prescription anti-anxiety medication. The vet supplied me with lots of articles to read and I found this Animal Planet video to be very reassuring. A little knowledge and hard work and we will both be better off. Here is a bit of what we are learning.
Get plenty of exercise and take time for play. Good advice for anyone. We don't have a fenced yard and I don't want to just tie her to a tree so Lucky takes me for a couple/few walks a day. I am better for it. And, with a couple of kids around, we don't need to be reminded to play.
Encourage independence. Okay girlfriend, I know you just got dumped. I thought it was kind of sweet that you wanted to go with me to take out the garbage and you insisted on waiting for me outside the bathroom door, but don't you think maybe it's just a little bit pathetic? You are going to have to give me some space.
Be firm and clear in stating your expectations. Hmmm...maybe I could apply this one to all aspects of my life. It didn't occur to me until I watched the video that on my mock departures I could come back in and correct the dog. I haven't completely convinced her that I don't want her jumping on the chair and slobbering down the picture window, but she has learned to jump down as soon as she sees me coming. A little progress there.
Emotional Detachment. (Another trait I could apply to my own life.) I have to keep reminding the girls to refrain from long emotional doggy good-byes. Also, upon returning just ignore her til she settles down. Kind of hard to do because it's really nice being greeted at the door by someone who is super happy to see you.
I'm trying to be patient. I leave a rawhide right by the front door every day, but she chooses to chew on the woodwork instead.
Finally! I have made my first mark on the sketchbook of the sketchbook project. The topics to choose from were a bit obscure and so how could I adapt my theme of Nature to one of them? "I'm sorry I forgot you." Couldn't be more perfect. How many people take time to appreciate, admire, or even notice Nature? Let alone sit in awe of it? Personally, my paintings of nature are quiet contemplation. A search for spiritual enlightenment or at least a bit of self discovery. I've set this aside for too long now, so Nature - I'm sorry I forgot you.
It's just unbelievable to me that we have a dog. She is beautiful. She loves us. We love her. She is ours. Lucky. The vet said she is between 8 to 10 months old. She looks young and small in the first picture. But, she is 45 lbs. and quite tall and thin. The vet said she will probably get a little taller and grow to about 60-65 lbs. I haven't been able to capture a good photo of her sprawled out. As always, I think I'll be focused on posting more art and I get wrapped up in life. Stay tuned for art, but also more photos of Lucky, I'm sure.
Last week I warned the girls to stay away from this stray dog that we've been spotting in the neighborhood. Then, we realized that she has been sleeping in our backyard every night. She was so scared we couldn't get anywhere near her. She was weary, but would stay just out of our reach. I called the Humane Society, who told me that they are overcrowded and that I would have to call Animal Control. I called Animal Control, which apparently is the town police department. A cop came out and said, "We've gotten so many calls on this dog. We can't catch her." Neither facility had any reports of a missing dog that fit her description.
I started putting food out for her every day, and told Animal Control (the cop) that if they wanted to catch her, she lives in my backyard. Now that we have fed her and bought her a rawhide she really likes us and is very sweet. Today we are going to give her a bath and find out about getting her to the vet. I think she has adopted us. We named her "Lucky."
Could it be the law of attraction? The girls believed we would have a dog someday, if only they could convince Daddy to agree. How did this sweet little stray choose our backyard to live? And how could Darrin say "no" to 3 little puppy dog faces? (Four, if you count mine.)