Eeeeek!!! Etsy!!!!

 

A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance. —RIP Carrie Fischer

Remember me talking about the online shopping site for all things handmade? Etsy?

Well, late, late that night, I did.  I opened a shop on Etsy called grayson’s creationsFigured I’d have a few days to figure out how to get it set up well.  You know.  Read the fine print.  Research a bit about shipping costs.  Check out the competition.  Research the name a bit better.  (I have owned the graysonscreations.com domain name for a while, as well as the same name registered to me on Etsy…so it seemed like a good idea…)

BUT, to open the shop, one must list at least ONE item for sale AND link a bank account.  So I did. With 20% sales going to local Orange, VA charity called the Christian Emergency Council.  (Same charity I supported by knitting and selling over 30 tiny Christmas trees this past holiday.  More on that another day.)

Feeling frisky, I also set up an event on facebook through my OrangeVACommunityMakers group to teach a local fleece hat making workshop for today.  Raising funds for same local charity.  (More on that side project also in a later post!)

Well… my. world. is. now. all fleece. all. the. time.

Etsy item sold. Emails led to 3 more sales. Workshop happened. Only a few folks, but they wanted to help make hats to raise funds for donation. Orders need mailing… Larry the Squirrel is running circles in my brain.

Now, how to leverage this energy and move forward,  creating a sustainable business that can support me, my family, and my local  community?  It all comes back to human rights… if I want to live my life with integrity, I have to put my energy to this end.  Excited to see it happening.

____________________________________________

HUMAN RIGHTS:

Where after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Remarks at the United Nations, March 27, 1958

MyDay

It has been a while since writing.  Habits are definitely hard to start.  Even harder to restart, but worth the effort.  Many reasons why I am back today.  Many intersecting moments are directing me down a path I am excited to follow!

Here is what happened:

I marched with women friends this past weekend, Saturday, January 21st 2017 in the Women’s March on Washington DC.

I used my Orange Community Makers tag to make Pussy Hats for the march and gave over 35 hats to friends in and around Orange and women I met at march.  I LOVED this project! Using the handmade to “Share-Learn-Create-Connect” for community building is EXACTLY what I have been driven to do recently.

(***I get how some might feel that this particular project offends or leaves out some who feel that not having female genitalia means they are not welcome to support a “woman’s” march.  Maybe even wearing something called a “pussy hat” just feels wrong to you.  Please make your feelings and thoughts heard, I will listen. But know that you are welcome to fight for women’s rights and ALL human rights WITHOUT a pink hat…or I’ll even make you your very own fleece hat in whatever color you want. Just know that if you are willing to fight for Human Rights, you are welcome at my table just as you are and I will craft you a hat of your choosing and make it with love.***)

So….

This morning I am trying to figure out how to promote community and fundraising for efforts on human rights and am researching starting an Etsy shop (rhymes with Betsy) to sell items made by Orange Community Makers AND as I am researching my name “My Day In Orange VA” I discover the First American Woman Blogger (I am giving her this title).  Who is she, you ask?  None other than Eleanor Roosevelt.  Did you know she had a five day per week, syndicated column from December of 1935- September of 1962?  Twenty-six years! of 5 day per week publishing!! Talk about a role model for bloggers!

What was it called??!!  MY DAY  (Holy $#*%!!!) Well…perhaps I have been channeling my inner Eleanor and didn’t know it with MyDayinOrangeVA.

One of her main issues was human rights.  If you haven’t read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, please do.  Seth Godin just blogged the other day about how he believes Human Rights might be human’s greatest invention.

Do you see how my world’s are colliding?

Crazy…It’s as if the universe is telling me to get off my arse and get marching…

Thank you to all who have gone before to pave the way…I am about to lay down a bit more asphalt for the future.

For your listening pleasure:  Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou

I met Maya Angelou in February of 1990. Here I am in my office with her autograph.

 

 

Joy in the little things…

IMG_9237
Offerings for the fairies on Midsummer’s eve.
Daddy reading book of fairy lore to girls in tent before summer solstice camp out in yard.
Daddy reading book of fairy lore to girls in the tent before bedtime.

There are other thoughts and blog posts I have been crafting in longhand in a notebook that I thought would be posted by now. But.  Summer has arrived and working at my desk on a computer seemed to be the very. very. very. last thing I want to do. Then. The devastating shooting in Orlando. It has all made me pause in my desire to write.

What can I do or say or write that can have any purpose or meaning worth sharing?  But here I am, continuing with my writing as a way of making sense of my life.  What can I do to keep from being defeated, but take joy in the little things and keep moving forward?

How?  Just mix it all in together…

  • Go tubing in our local Rapidan River with friends and kids? Yes.
  • Write outside with coffee in hand as I enjoy a slow, no school morning?  Of course.
  • Join girls for morning cartoons and cereal in front of the tv, then writing a bit while they snuggle under blankets on the sofa? Yes!
  • Create edible garden landscape along commercial building I manage?  Why not.
  • Invite my Sit & Stitch group over for tai chi, knitting, dinner, and sangria?  A no brainer.
  • Place a small public art memorial beside our Orange Post Office for the LBGT community?  Yes.
  • Pray with my mother and my girls at an interfaith service for those in Orlando?   Yes.
  • Set up a tent in the yard for girls intent on seeing fairies on Midsummer’s eve?  This too I can manage.

Catching fireflies? Chasing frogs? Fairy offerings carefully crafted? Stuffed animals and flashlights and fairy books brought out to the tent?  Full moon rising after dark?

It is not long past Midsummer’s Eve.  The tent is not yet packed away.  Sleeping bags and pads are still strewn across the dining room. It is not long past the terror that occurred in Orlando.  But, somehow, I wanted to capture here the fleeting moments of pure childhood joy when my girls still believed in magic on this summer solstice just a week after I had to explain to them why I was weeping at the news from Orlando.

How do I help spread such joy, protect such wonder in the world and not cower and harden my heart from fear of the horrors that exist? The yin and yang of it all makes my heart ache.

Orange Post Office Flag at half mast with my rainbow rocks at it's base.
Orange Post Office flag at half mast with my rainbow rocks at its base.

My Snooze Button Habit

Baby tiny steps
Baby tiny steps

I think I’ve mentioned here that I am not one for mornings.  I can wake up when I need to, but my preferred morning routine is to stay in bed and lounge as long as possible.  I love a slow start.

Recent suggestions for starting a writing habit include lots of advice about the merits of getting up early and writing first thing. To me, that seems ridiculously hard.  TWO new habits at once? Waking up AND writing?  Ridiculous!  I am trying to break this down into at least three parts.  Tiny baby steps.

First Step:  Wake up on time.

Here is how the morning wake up usually goes:  First alarm goes off 20 minutes before I need to get up.  I hit snooze and it goes off again right before my second alarm. Second alarm goes off 10 minutes before I MUST to get up.  I hit snooze on this and when all hell breaks loose on both alarm snoozes ringing, I know my time is up.  Nuts right?  Twenty full minutes of alarm/snooze button hell!

My first step:  Cut it down to one alarm that rings ten minutes before I have to get up and going for the  day. Immediately I put my feet on the floor, hit snooze, and do 10 minutes of stretching. When snooze goes off, I know I have to stop stretching and get dressed. I give myself a sticker on a pretty wall calendar I’ve hung by my bed when I do this.  (Putting some of my daughters’ excess Frozen stickers and behavior chart techniques to good use). So far it has been 15 days in a row. Seeing that line of stickers makes me not what to miss a day. Childish? Perhaps, but I am a whiny child about waking up early, so that is how I’m treating myself.

Maybe if I get to a month of waking up on time, I’ll try to wake up ten minutes earlier as my second step.  No need to rush this thing.  This first step has been tiny, but rewarding. Ultimately, I’d like to wake up 30 minutes early with 10 minutes of stretching and 20 minutes of writing. But like I said, tiny baby steps.

Time to flip the calendar to June.


 

Getting in the Groove. Habits.

Play dates, thank you notes, sunshine, and shade
Play dates, thank you notes, sunshine, and shade.  (First ever Instagram photo.  So much to learn!)

So the truth of the matter is that I am a creature of habit.  I think most of us are.  It’s like the groove on a record that the needle follows.  (If you are too young to have sat for hours watching a vinyl record go round and round during your teenage years of angst, go google it and see what I mean.)  Once those grooves get laid, it takes a bump or a a scratch to make the needle jump its course.  Why would anyone in their right mind want to be hit off course, or scratched and scarred to change the course of ones life?

Well.  So many reasons actually.  A concrete example…

I am really trying to bump that needle out of its groove when it comes to my fair skinned family’s path towards skin cancer. My grandmother had many skin cancers removed, and had the scars to prove it.  My mother, who life-guarded in her youth covered in baby oil, gets bits of her skin cut off every six months or so.  And now I visit her same dermatologist to get checked and have a few of my own scars. (My mother guiltily recounts stories of me having sunburns so badly when I was young that the blisters covered my shoulders, nose, and back.)

My girls? …I slather on sunscreen and hope that after three generations of women (that I know of), we have learned.  Knowing what I SHOULD do is not enough.  I regularly fail. No epic blisters yet, but still, the slightest bit of pink on their skin makes me feel the mother’s shame of failure.  (Mothers’ shaming themselves over child rearing imperfections is another groove that we all need to scratch. Or maybe we can lift the needle and skip over that song all together.)

This failure to change behavior makes me wonder.  Does it take generations to change some habits? Are habits a bit like culture or genetics, sometimes it takes many lifetimes to shift even one groove, delete one gene, erase one hurtful practice? Or can we shake it up in the course of our own life? What will it take for me to change my habits?

Maybe a little self-love is in order.  When I start to shame myself for whatever new habit I am failing at, I need to rethink the groove.  Maybe my new habit of writing for this blog needs to be re-visioned as my thank you note to the universe. Generations of women in my family have written thank you notes.  That is a one groove I know well.

You say you want a revolution?

Yes.

My revolution:

  • A return to meaningful human connections
  • between diverse individuals
  • engaging in communal work and play,
  • from boring, typical, and traditional
  • to the quirky, weird, and innovative.
  • to promote a caring community.

How?

  1. Refuse to accept complacency. apathy. shame.
  2. Connect through social media.
  3. Invite others to join.
  4. Meet face-to-face.
  5. Take tangible actions together.
  6. Find our spark.
  7. Celebrate our triumphs.
  8. Repeat.

    Revolution

    By The Beatles

    You say you want a revolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    You tell me that it’s evolution
    Well, you know
    We all want to change the world
    But when you talk about destruction
    Don’t you know that you can count me out
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
    All right, all right

    You say you got a real solution
    Well, you know
    We’d all love to see the plan
    You ask me for a contribution
    Well, you know
    We’re doing what we can
    But when you want money
    For people with minds that hate
    All I can tell is brother you have to wait
    Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
    All right, all right…

    (Now if only I could get Larry to stop squealing in my ear…Don’t you know it’s gonna be…all right…all right …all right…)

What difference do you want to make?

I want to make a difference in the lives of people living in Orange by filling a need I see in the town of Orange for facilitating hopeful, energetic community engagement.

I feel I have a lot to offer as a community engagement facilitator.  (I just made that title up!)

Through online resources and social media, I would connect people to the numerous, already available, local opportunities and help create partnerships and awareness between the local groups that are already working to make Orange County a better place.

I would also create and facilitate small, focused, out-of-the-box activities for community engagement drawing on my passion for the innovative, the energy of our youth, the creativity of our arts community, the passion of our faith based groups, the experience of our business community, and the wisdom of our elders.

I believe that helping people feel connected and engaged with their community makes a difference in their lives.


 

 

 

The dreaded: “So, What do you do?”

Yes, we all know this question.  It is asked over and over at any adult gathering where grown men and women are expected to mingle.

  • Why do we ask it?
  • Why do we dread it?
  • Does it really help us connect with each other on a real level?
  • Does it act as a shield to hide the fact that so many of us are leading lives disconnected from our true passions?
  • Is it because it reduces, labels, and categorizes our whole being to the sort of cog we are in the wheel of a capitalist society?

(Yikes.  Where did that sentence come from!?  But you know exactly what I mean.)

What if instead we asked:

  • So, what do you like to do?
  • So, what do you do for fun?
  • So, what would you do with your life if you had it to do over?
  • So, what do you do that makes your heart sing?

Different, yes?

How about we all agree to not fall victim to the dreaded, “So, what do you do?”

How about we all get a little vulnerable and put out in the world our true selves?

Me? What do I do?

For now my elevator pitch will be:

I encourage meaningful human connections that make my town an awesome place to live and work.


It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. 

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 

Me. What am I Proud of?

 

What are you most proud of?

When I first read the writing prompt, I shrunk inside.  My chest felt like someone reached in there and squeezed my heart a bit. (Is that what shame and regret feel like? feel familiar?)

My immediate thought was: There is nothing I am proud of, not really.  (Not if you discount the obvious and true statement that I am proud of my children, but they are people not accomplishments).

The negative squirrel chatter (Larry) in my head told me there were no major life works to point to, no career of merit, no awards to hold up high. There has been no reaching upward toward some pinnacle, no single thing or passion that I sought after and attained. Instead, there has been lots of starting and stopping and changing and moving and returning. Restless seeking.

My first childhood dream was to live an exotic life as inspired by National Geographic. When asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” my vague answer included doing noteworthy humanitarian and brave acts in far away places.  Deeds worthy of a glossy photo essay.

Instead, all my travels have ultimately led me right back around to the small, rural town of Orange, where I started.

So, what do I do?

I work part-time taking care of a few small rental properties once belonging to my father.  I am married.  I am a hands-on, stay-at-home-mother.  I spend most of my time with my family, my widowed mother, and my few friends.  We  walk, we hike, we cook, we play, we knit, we sew, we read, we work in the yard, we watch movies.

Should I feel shame at not being a missionary or explorer half way around the world? or an ambassador in a foreign country? or a scientist discovering new and exciting things?

?!!What am I most proud of???! 

Nothing in my life stood out as special enough to write about and post publicly to the world, (and Larry the squirrel nemesis threatened to take over and chitter on and on about dreams abandoned and a life wasted…).

I knew in my heart this negative self-shaming was not my truth.  I have been blessed to have so many wonderful opportunities and experiences to be proud of and have chosen where I am now.  So I told Larry to shut it, and began making a list.

My first list: a list of where I have been and what I have done.

I figured, maybe the little things that I’ve done happily with pride along the way could help point me in the right direction. I created a plot line of every place I’ve lived and all volunteer and paid work I have done.

I highly recommend doing this exercise as it gave me a view of my life from an objective distance.  I cut it out of this blog post and made it private for my own reference.  It made this post very long (Read: longer) and boring (Read: more unbearably so). Looking at this list I asked myself WHY I moved somewhere and WHY I chose certain work and activities.

My second list:  a list of truths distilled from the first.

  1. I can now admit that for many years I let myself make excuses for not pursuing my dreams. I have recently pointed to my father’s death, my family responsibilities, and living in Orange as excuses for not using my talents to pursue the things I love in a way that mattered, even though these choices were mine and freely made.
  2. I can now see the pattern of things that have brought me immense joy:  experiencing new cultures, outdoor adventure, travel, art and theater; volunteering with the elderly, children and youth; studying the martial arts; making meaningful connections with others through helping.
  3. I feel most alive when challenging my comfort zones, emotionally, physically, and spiritually while pursuing these activities.
  4. I am an experienced teacher and community organizer and property manager.  I am good at designing and making things.  I am good at generating ideas and starting big picture projects that are creative, open-minded, inspiring, useful, and that bring people together.
  • What I am currently most proud of is starting back on my journey of discovering my purpose after years of excuses.

My third list: a list is of the actions I have taken to begin again.

  1. I have renewed my study and practice of Tai Chi and began a weekly morning practice session with friends.
  2. I began and facilitate a weekly, evening knitting and stitching group.
  3. I volunteer and assist with an after school TaeKwonDo class at my daughter’s elementary school.
  4. I volunteer in the position as president of the board of the St. Thomas Community Preschool.
  5. I have flipped a commercial property on Main Street into a community of studios and offices for artists and small business entrepreneurs.

What brought me back from living a life of excuses was that I took the one small step of enrolling in a Tai Chi class here in my little town.  Slowly I have begun to re-energize my life by doing work that I care about.

These little things are all part of my path and I know they add up to something greater and I am excited to be more intentional and figure out what that greater purpose is.

Thank you Live My Legend Blog Challenge for being part of my journey towards making and living a life that matters.


“We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”  ~~~T.S.Elliot

 

Starting a New Habit

The blog challenge I am working on started its DAY 4 email with:

“Before we go on, we want to make something very clear: the whole point of this challenge is to build your consistent writing habit so you start to give your ideas room to grow and share them with others.

We see that as the most powerful self-discovery process on the planet. You’ll start to learn what excites you, what others resonate with and how you can combine those two to build a career around something you care about.”

It continued with,

The more we can identify our life’s highlights, the better we’ll be able to notice the patterns in our actions and thinking that led to those outcomes. Shoot for that minimum 100 word limit and ideally write this first thing in the morning, before distractions hit.”

—-LYL blog challenge DAY 4

All sounded great!  I love writing, but, well, we have a love/hate sort of thing.  I get distracted and blather on and on and then have to edit like mad, cutting out so much squirrel chatter it is exhausting and time consuming. (Larry and I find each others company amusing. We stay up way too late to talk.)

Why NOT just stay up late?  Why fight the night owl urge?

Here’s the rub:

(Young children + mornings + staying up too late writing) x posting publicly to my blog = a cranky mommy/wife with blog anxiety.

Once my family wakes up, my writing intentions get very little priority until after they all go to bed at night.  My children want my undivided attention.  My husband needs a parenting partner.  My work is flexible, but still has need of my time!

So how do I make blog writing a habit?  It’s only been a week and I am still at it, but WOW, I had no idea how ridiculously hard this would be for me. I cannot write and multitask.  It is all consuming. I’ve been resisting the “wake up early!” method  as I’ve never have been one much for mornings.

Guess that is why LYL calls it a blog challenge.

…maybe I’ll procrastinate on writing anymore and go reread Gretchin Rubin’s book about forming habits Better Than Before.