Hope Doesn’t Go on Furlough: Breakfast

blur breakfast close up dairy product
Photo by Ash on Pexels.com

The government shutdown has caused so many issues (here is a running list of some of the real-world consequences), that discouragement is natural. For the remainder of the shutdown we will be sharing the ways people are stepping up to help each other, proving that humans can show empathy and not behave like ninnies. Feel free to share any that you see on our Facebook page, and please join in to help when you can.

As our government remains shut down, we continue to have the opportunity to feed each other, and to be fed. Baltimore-Washington area IKEA stores are offering free breakfasts on weekday mornings with a valid government ID. Neighbors, reach out to each other.

 

 

Hope Doesn’t Go On Furlough: Teachers Helping Teachers Help Families

boy playing with blocks
Photo by Bryan Schneider on Pexels.com

The government shutdown has caused so many issues (here is a running list of some of the real-world consequences), that discouragement is natural. For the remainder of the shutdown we will be sharing the ways people are stepping up to help each other, proving that humans can show empathy and not behave like ninnies. Feel free to share any that you see on our Facebook page, and please join in to help when you can.

You may or may not know that besides writing this blog with Mary, I am a long-time early childhood educator. For more than thirty years, I have worked with young children, parents, and some of the most dedicated professionals on the planet. Today’s story of people stepping up to help neighbors who are furloughed from their federal jobs hits close to home.

A dear friend and colleague, Cheryl Hovey, from EzEd2Go, will provide two hours of free professional development training on Brain Development to the staff of any licensed child care provider within 20 miles of Warwick, Rhode Island who will give a family furloughed from their federal job a free week of tuition.

“I’m hoping other providers will follow in my footsteps,” Cheryl told me yesterday while we were chatting about this.

To that end, I am not only sharing her offer here on the blog, but I, too, will also take her challenge. For any licensed child care provider within a 25 mile radius of Waltham, MA  who offers furloughed families a week of free tuition, I will offer two hours of free professional development training on Trauma-Informed Care or Behavior Management.

If you are a teacher-trainer who wishes to join our challenge, or you are a licensed child care director or family child care provider who is willing to provide tuition breaks to furloughed families, you can reach out to our Facebook page . We will help you spread the word and connect you to each other.

 

 

 

 

Hope Doesn’t Go on Furlough:Making Art & Music Free

black and white art museum europe
Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

The government shutdown has caused so many issues (here is a running list of some of the real-world consequences), that discouragement is natural. For the remainder of the shutdown we will be sharing the ways people are stepping up to help each other, proving that humans can show empathy and not behave like ninnies. Feel free to share any that you see on our Facebook page, and please join in to help when you can.

Musuems and symphonies across the country are offering free admission to furloughed federal workers. May an afternoon of beauty bring some joy and peace in these troubled days.

 

 

Hope Doesn’t Go on Furlough: #ChefsForFeds

bread food sandwich wood
Photo by Steyn Viljoen on Pexels.com

 

The government shutdown has caused so many issues (here is a running list of some of the real-world consequences), that discouragement is natural. For the remainder of the shutdown we will be sharing the ways people are stepping up to help each other, proving that humans can show empathy and not behave like ninnies. Feel free to share any that you see on our Facebook page, and please join in to help when you can.

Today’s hope comes from #ChefsForFeds Café in DC, feeding furloughed federal employees. While putting food in the belly is certainly a priority, efforts to reach out go beyond hunger, as Department of Interior employee Anita Gonzales-Evans notes:

“Today’s the first day for me to pull out my federal ID. And today is my first day to put makeup on. And today is my first day to just feel like a damn person again. I had to get out of my house. My house is clean. There’s nothing left to clean.”

Read more about #ChefsForFeds, World Central Kitchen, and the meal effort here.

Thank you to our friend Jennifer Reek for sharing this sign of hope with us!

Hope Doesn’t Go on Furlough: Thanks for the Pies, Canada

 

baked box cheese close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 The government shutdown has caused so many issues (here is a running list of some of the real-world consequences), that discouragement is natural. For the remainder of the shutdown we will be sharing the ways people are stepping up to help each other, proving that humans can show empathy and not behave like ninnies. Feel free to share any that you see on our Facebook page, and please join in to help when you can.

What’s more stressful than being an air traffic controller? Working as an air traffic controller without pay, while you’re hungry. Thankfully our cooler cousins to the north understand that. Thanks for feeding us, Canada.

 

Accepting the Challenge to Create

IMG_20190106_195847

Skyline view of the Boston Public Garden, oil pastel by Kristen Allen

In the beginning, God created a writer. And it was good. Still, the writer was convinced that she could not draw, paint, or sculpt. Visual arts were not a gift meant for her to enjoy.

By and large, I suck at visual arts. I have some challenges with spatial relations, and getting things out of my head onto a canvas or drawing pad rarely works out. It’s just not my jam. I am a Word Girl through and through. I even dream in narrative. Seriously, most of my dreams have an off-screen narrator telling me what I am watching.

As my husband was putting our Christmas decorations away in the attic, he came across some boxes that needed repacking. As luck would have it (or the Almighty Creator willed it), he found the only art portfolio I have ever assembled. It was for the drawing class I had to take in order to get my final three fine arts credits to graduate with my BS degree.  Oh, I dreaded that class. I hate sucking at things, and here I was paying an obscene amount of money to suck at something that someone else was going to judge and assign a grade to.

The class was life-changing. The professor, Iris, was a quirky, earthy-crunchy, painter-teacher-spiritualist. I could not help but love her. This was a summer course, so she had some liberty to do some unconventional things—like have the class meet at a different location around Boston each week. We went to the Arnold Arboretum, the Boston Public Garden, the top of a campus building in Porter Square in Cambridge, and we even took a boat out to Thompson’s Island in the middle of the Boston Harbor, one perfect summer day. (You may know the island as the site for the film, based on the Dennis Lehane novel, Shutter Island.)

Slowly, but surely, throughout the course, my perception of the lofty “ART” changed. I found that I began to look at the world differently. First I started noticing details, then color, light and shadow, texture. I began to see in pictures, not just in narrative.

The most remarkable change was when I was sitting under a tree, by one of the abandoned school buildings, on Thompson’s Island. I realized that I had started thinking about WORDS differently.  I was seeing narrative descriptions in terms of color and texture. Words began to have a flavor. A new phrase would swirl around my mouth like the first taste sample from a bottle of fine wine. I suddenly understood toddlers’ compulsion to repeat a word or phrase incessantly, a preschooler’s delight in reading the same story over and over.

That class was a very long time ago. I still suck at drawing and painting. I still cannot cut a straight line. I still am not a visual artist.

I am a writer.

I am a writer who has a better understanding of the gifts that paintings, drawings, statuary, pottery, needlework are. I am a writer who is looking forward to seeing—and experiencing—my visual artist sisters’ and brothers’ view of the world for a bit. I’m a writer hungry for some new colors, textures, flavors.

 

In the Beginning (of 2019), Let There Be (Clumsy) Creation

blue and purple color pencils
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

I have never been a visual artist.

This is partly a lack of natural talent, and partly a lack of training. My hometown did not provide funding for arts education for most of my elementary school years, so my main memory of art class involves being instructed to draw a portrait of myself brushing my teeth in kindergarten. I recall being frustrated at how awkward and unrealistic I looked on paper, how big and clumsy the hand was that held the toothbrush, and especially how my art teacher praised the way I added the detail of the toilet paper trailing down from the roll in the background. I know now that she was using a standard technique of good teachers everywhere: find something to praise. At the time I latched onto it for dear life. In my head, I was The Official Drawer of Toilet Paper from the Side.

There’s not much call for my specialty.

More than forty years later I’m still focusing more on toilet paper rolls than organic forms, more on drawing lines than on color and shade and nuance. I can see and appreciate many forms of art: thoughtful gardens, paintings and sculpture, textile and fashion, beautifully decorated cakes, intriguing makeup, architectural whimsy, even graffiti. I just don’t see myself as a co-creator in any of it. Don’t tell anyone, but I suspect I consider it a waste of my time.

I don’t consider the appreciation of art a waste of time, and I don’t consider someone else creating the art a waste of their time. I firmly believe that art is an important part of life. I have simply disqualified myself from the process because I’m not good at it, so it isn’t pragmatic.

I’m not sure when I became afflicted with pragmatism. It wasn’t during childhood—I could spend hours sitting and watching the waves on the water, or listening to music, or making “acorn soup” in a frisbee to leave by the trees for the fairies. (Feeding fairies may actually be pragmatic, depending on how you view fairies.)

Somewhere between shoeless summers spent in the lake and now, things got busy. I became a responsible adult, with the emphasis on responsible (more on that another day). I still take time to enjoy things in my life, and I still create to a certain extent through writing. But even writing has become something I do with an end goal in mind: did I finish the blog post on time? (Hint: this is at least three days late.) Where could I submit that poem? If I take the plot of this story down that rabbit hole that will likely dead-end, isn’t that a waste of time?

I realize that I have begun to value time and activity in terms of the end product. A number of friends recently shared this article, which intrigued me and inspired me to reconsider how I structure my time. But even its counterintuitive suggestions are still justified by an end goal of greater output.

If I were to list out my beliefs and priorities, the importance of production would not be anywhere on the list. Not just not at the top—it wouldn’t be anywhere. I believe that life has value because it is. I believe that people have inherent dignity because they are. Yes, we have to make a living and earn money for food and shelter; I’m not talking about providing the necessities of life but of the things that preoccupy our hearts and minds. I believe that we are not only capable of joy for its own sake, but that it can and should be found in surprising places and in surprising ways, and that if we are in fact aiming to please our Creator, we do so best when we take joy in creating.

When did I stop applying this to myself?

I don’t really know, and I’m not going to waste time on the answer. What I am going to do is try to spend some time this month creating—joyfully, messily, poorly—for its own sake. Not with intent to produce, or sell, or even display for evaluation, but just to spend time creating in the presence of my Creator. “I am here, creating with You.”

It may be the most sincere prayer I can offer for 2019.

person making clay pot
Photo by Natallia Rak on Pexels.com