Saturday, May 30, 2009

i married adventure

I hope one day I can say that about my life.

Summer reading is here. This year my plan is to work through what I own that I haven't read, which it quite a bit. I have the best of intentions when I purchase books, which isn't often because I prefer the library. But it takes me so long to finish books that I usually run out of library renewals. So then I buy a few books. . . it's a cycle. It would help if I could keep myself to reading one book at a time. That hasn't worked since high school/college. I'm technically still reading a book about Roe v. Wade that I started in college. . . 15 years ago. I read a few pages each year. It's interesting enough. I just can't seem to finish it.

I'm starting this summer with I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson. Memoir, which I enjoy. When I opened it up last Monday, I found a bookmark at Chapter 6. Chapters 1-5 don't ring any bells, so I suspect I really wasn't into this book when I tried reading it a few years ago. It's an early 1900s story about Osa and Martin from the Midwest who meet, re-meet, marry and travel throughout Africa and the South Pacific. Martin is a self-taught photographer. Not sure at this point who Osa is outside of Martin's wife, travel companion and equipment carrier. Well, I guess I do know she's a gifted writer.

This week I tested reading for a half hour right when I came home from work, while I'm eating dinner. Seemed to work well. I stayed awake and read for the full time. Reading before bed is usually not as productive for me. And this time around, the story is holding my attention to the point that I look forward to getting back to it on my way home from work.

This is over 400 pages. It might be the only book this summer. Especially since Brooklyn, a novel I read about recently in O, has just made it to circulation in the state library system and I think I'm next in line for the copy I requested. . .

Friday, May 15, 2009

grateful for. . .

Two weeks in a row remembering to list my favorites from the week. . . maybe this will become a habit.

1: The mandatory, our office only, 4:15p meeting today with the Dean's Chief of Staff turned out to be about nothing all of us didn't already know.

2: Literacy training. Loving it and excited to receive a placement. Reminded how much the love of learning is a part of my core - both my own learning and witnessing others learn. And that we can learn from people of all abilities.

3: Flexibility. This week I said thank you more than once for the ability to choose how I spend my time. Looking forward to the work day tomorrow at Clare's Well.

4: Friends listening to what brings them joy and staying true to what they hear, even if it means making changes during uncertain times.

5: Starting a "travel" savings account.

6: Finding a journal from college and making two realizations: 1) Observing life and writing insightfully about it is a skill I've honed for a while and 2) I've worked hard to make positive changes in my life.

7: My nephew, Andrew, is healing after receiving first-third degree burns on both arms from an accident with hot oil at work. He's in pain and expressing it to his parents, but it could have been much worse.

Friday, May 8, 2009

favorites from the week

I noticed a few friends are posting favorites from their weeks on Fridays. In all honesty, I will likely forget to do this on a regular basis. . .but today seems like a good Friday to create this sort of post.

I've been a bit overwhelmed at work for the past few weeks. My position is interesting because it's somewhat split between a few units - the College of Liberal Arts (and the departments I work closely with within the college) and the University of Minnesota Foundation. Lots of changes happening for both the College and UMF. Both units have had layoffs and both units have new senior leadership and (despite some popular opinion) both are feeling the economic downturn. I'm someone who likes to know the "big picture" so I can locate my place in the landscape and move forward with my work. Right now, there's not a defined "big picture" coming from any direction, other than private support is more important than ever. . . but saying that to donors, and not having other talking points solidly grounded in an overall vision, will only take you so far. Bits and pieces of a great story are slowly emerging. . . I just need to be more patient I guess.

Anyway, I'm trying not to let "overwhelmed" take over my life. So, here's my favorites of the week:

1: Just received Meg Hutchinson's newsletter. Here's the opening letter. I have such respect and love for her music. . .and for her as a person.

Hello Friends,

A few years ago, on a walk with my dog Osa, a song came to me all at once... We were down by the reservoir in the evening. The light was slanting in across the pond and the little water bugs were hovering just on the surface, making it look like it was raining.

It was a beautiful night in the woods. A tough summer was behind me. Osa was running up ahead, diving into the water and picking out white stones. When we got back to the car I wrote the whole song on the back of a map of New England. It was called “Seeing Stars.”

When the album came out last year, someone at satellite radio took a shine to it. Friends called me from various cities to say they’d heard it. That was great, but satellite radio seemed like a rather abstract idea to me at the time and I didn’t think about it very much.

Three weeks ago, I learned my dog had cancer and needed surgery. The day we were leaving the house for the vet, the mail arrived, literally as I was opening the front door. There was a big envelope. It was a royalty check for that song playing on satellite radio. It was exactly what Osa’s surgery was going to cost. It was one of those moments in life that give you pause… This simple song about getting better, inspired by walking with my girl, two years later was helping us save her life.

Or at least giving us another good year or two of walks by the reservoir. On the mend.

Hope to see you soon...

Isn't that a great story?

2: Enjoyed dinner at spoonriver on Wednesday with a monthly dinner group my friend Laura introduced me to. I've been attending almost a year. We visit restaurants that support sustainable/local farming, source primarily locally or regionally produced foods, etc. Making new friends among this group has been a joy and blessing for me.

3: I've decided to continue on with my Irish language learning and join the regular beginner class that is sponsored by Gaeltacht Minnesota. Now I really do have to commit to study time during the week! A few of us from our intro class will join other beginners next Monday. Slainte!

4: I didn't feel well last night so I couldn't make it to bowling with my Hennepin friends (which bummed me out because it looked like they had a great time from the photos on fb), but I did pull out a box of photos from college and sort through them. . . part of my spring organizing. I completely enjoyed myself flipping through these photos! Life was so different 11-15 years ago. It was lovely to think about those memories.

5: I received my reminder postcard for the spring volunteer day at Clare's Well next Saturday. I'm SO looking forward to spending time giving back to a place and the sisters who have provided so much peace and love to me for the past five years during my visits in August. Tammy, if you're reading this, Sister Jan wrote she's looking forward to seeing you as well next Saturday.

There they are. . . five favorites from the week. . .
and a sixth, because I had to include it.

6: We enjoyed a potluck lunch at work this week in celebration of two students who have worked with us for over two years. Both graduate next week. I was reminded that I work with an incredible team. We each gave Karina and Danielle some life advice as they move through this transition and into the "real world." It was beautiful to hear what each of us said. Words we all may continue to hold on to and make real in our lives as well.

Friday, May 1, 2009

wisdom from a magazine

I subscribe to quite a few magazines - mostly to keep me entertained while walking on the treadmill at the Y. I found these bits of wisdom in the April body + soul.

Let go of the overwhelming tendency to compare yourself with others. In fact, forget the phrase “as good as” altogether. Decide to appreciate who you are and what you contribute to the people and the world around you.

We’ve all had those middle-of-the-night moments when we castigate ourselves for not knowing better, not trying harder, not being perfect. Throw out the word “perfect.” You can’t succeed big time if you’re not willing to fail - big time. Spend all your energy reliving things that didn’t work, and you’ll have no energy for finding new ways to be fulfilled.

We all have those times when we don’t know where we’re headed or who we are. But you can’t grow if you stay in your comfort zone. Step into the unknown. Release your need for guarantees. Your life will evolve into something better than you can imagine, if you give it half a chance.