challenges

Flexible, Agile, Pivot

These three words have come up multiple times in the past week.

First, from my friends in the teaching profession. Those are the three words they are being told to embrace as school begins in person (don’t say face to face it sounds too close) as we return to the buildings. Don’t plan too far in advance, as things could and probably will change day by day. In fact, since we started writing this post, we’ve already switched from in person to online school in many places to start the upcoming year.

Be flexible and ready to adapt to evolving conditions and unexpected challenges. Be agile, able to move quickly, efficiently and confidently from situation to situation. Pivoting to change direction is almost inevitable. With so many unknowns and twists and turns on the horizon those words are valuable to latch on to. For teachers who are trained to plan, abide by calendars, and be as routine and predictable as possible, it’s a bit against their training and possibly their nature. Time to rethink, reframe, and expand in a different direction, and help students and their parents do the same.

Me on the other hand, I giggle a bit on those three words. They represent my life In many ways, during a pandemic or just a routine Tuesday afternoon. All the twists and turns. All the adapting. The organized chaos I call life. I thrive under pressure and beg for adversity most days. It’s fuel to my fire.

Then the conversation hit on a Friday night at the ball field. We all had masks on. Following the rules. The sun was scorching despite the evening hours. I took my face mask down briefly for fresh air. It was still hanging on an ear. Technically I was wearing a mask. The directions didn’t specifically define what mask type, how it needed to be officially placed and so on.

Out comes a gentleman I knew well. He saw my mask and followed his glance with an affirmation (or was it an accusation?) of me not being a rule follower. That spurred a discussion that lingered. I am a rule follower. I just choose to follow the rules within the terms I choose. He implied that I am an A, B, C2-C3-C4 person. As if all the rules have an asterisk. Options within the boundaries.

Yes, that is correct. I always have a backup plan and C4 may be a good pivot point description for me. Explosive. Dynamite in a way. Always with a second, third and fourth plan. I call it depth. It’s layers deep. I make the rules work for me. It allows me to not only survive but thrive.

Some may see it as grey. Operating in the grey tones of life. Pushing the limits. Especially if the limits don’t make sense in certain situations. Staying in the black and white only confines me. Shades give life texture, interest, originality, make me memorable. For some, it makes them rewrite the rules with more care and specificity. It forces people to be agile in their mind and in their lives. But I am always at least one step ahead, if not more. Rewrite the rules and try to corral me. Just another challenge for me to find the gray and keep growing.

I see it for what it is. Depth, diversity, dynamic layers ingrained within. How the mask conversation turned into an unmasking of sorts

adventure, inspire

Inspiration Project

I was inspired by a table. A table at an outside seating area of a small-town gastropub. Shiny red barrel legs. Barn wood type table top. It looked homemade but I knew it was commercially produced. See below for a visual.

I decided in that moment that I was going to use this inspiration to spark my own home project. And off my mind went to what the finished product would look like!

I didn’t think about where to find the components or how much work was involved to get my end result. I just knew what I wanted and said I’m gonna do it. Why not?

I started with the cool base. The red barrels. But why stop at two when you can have three? Then I needed a topper. Not just any topper. I wanted a 12 foot topper that was straight from the woods. Off I went on a hunt.

First I secured the base. Boy that was an adventure to get one night. Then it was the search and negotiations for the topper. And they had to be big which meant I needed bookend pieces. Into the woods with a big truck to get the pieces that were hand selected.

Now the hard work has begun. The sanding. The endless dusty sanding. It’s mindless work but therapeutic at the same time. I’m creating something. A one-of-a-kind piece that will be showcased in my new outdoor space. I will take great pride in knowing the hard work that was put into this table.

From creating the perfect edging to preserving the bark. All intricate details making it special to me. I could have bought a table but that would have been easy. I chose difficult or the path requiring hard work. May this table be a staple piece in my space where people can gather and share good times and make memories. Oh the adventures my table will have. I can’t wait to unveil the finished product.

Moving on to staining and some finish work. Full assembly won’t happen until it reaches its destination so for now you have to ignore the messy warehouse background that I have morphed into a mini-workshop of sorts. You will see a final photo when the table lands in its new home but for now you can see it close to the end result below.

I didn’t track the hours I invested in this project but it was an experience. One of many I will embark on in the second half of 2020.

dare to be different

Junk or Treasures

In the last 30 days I have had a slight obsession with Facebook marketplace.

I haven’t really been big on posting items online for sale however I heard it was a good outlet to find what you need at a discounted rate. I gave it a whirl or two.

When it came time for me looking for specific pieces for my upcoming project I decided to see if it had any items I truly needed to keep my budget low. From casual browser to waking to see what had dropped in the night before. Off I went. By phone or by computer. Click click click. Wait. Deal or no deal. Sometimes getting a good item requires you to be the first hit. I got lucky sometimes but not other times.

Here are a few of my finds:

The barn door. A little bit of an odd size but it’s perfect for the spot I need to add some flair to. This is a PVC-type version and again it totally suited my immediate need. What this person bought in error was just what I needed. A win for both parties.

The odd red barrels. The soon-to-be base of a massive outdoor table. Inspiration was a cool table at an outdoor seating area of a restaurant I visited. More photos to come of the completed project. This was just somebody’s trash from a recent project that they made a few bucks on. A little elbow grease on my end and they look as good as new.

The church pew. Yes you read that right. I bought a church pew! A few pillows for flair and I will have a great pew for many to congregate at in my special entertainment space. I couldn’t be more excited about this piece. Who would have thought you could buy a church pew? Heaven knows I didn’t until I stumbled across it. Restoring these old pews is definitely a trend. Should I paint it or keep it natural? Let me know what you think.

The brand-new pillow -op mattress. This was a steal and I may have bought more than one. Overstock sales are in abundance online. If you happen to fall upon a good one, you can save big.

Stools for a steal. These brand-new-out-of-the-box stools retail for around $50. I was able to pick up 10 at $20 each. Great addition to go with the table I mentioned above and I saved a bundle.

Look for the finished project of my outdoor space in the coming weeks. Be sure to see if Facebook marketplace has any items you are looking for before you pay full retail. You can get new, gently used and hard-to-find antique items online. One of the benefits of online selling and buying is access to the inventory at your finger tips.

If you are willing to do the work, the bargains are out there. Picking, sourcing and putting together some handmade crafts has been a fun learning experience.

Signing off, a thrifty girl.

inspire

Whispers and Dreams

When the universe whispers, do you listen?

When you dream, do you imagine reality?

Dreams and whispers can collide and ignite passion and pride to venture into the ultimate creative space. A space where your mind and heart can allow you to travel to see potential off on the horizon.

For some that may mean buy a lottery ticket. For others that may be a cruise to a destination they had only seen in magazines. For a select few, it’s infinite opportunities hiding in plain sight.

Travel isn’t always defined by a destination. Travel can be defined by shifting time in your mind to see future potential. Travel may be reaching for a new limit or high. Travel may be shifting from a past that is ready to be left behind.

A plane, train or automobile is no longer needed to travel. Travel can be in the form of virtual reality. Some pay for virtual reality experiences while others have the natural ability to create and envision their own reality.

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Take a look at the above picture. One employee’s virtual really of working at the beach. Creative? Yes. Funny? Yes. Virtual reality? Yes. These scenarios exist. You just have to visualize it. Keeping with this thought, I just read an article on work anywhere and how you can work from anywhere in an RV post-corona.

Finding new ways to make the best of all of our new realities and work spaces while finding peace in a location. To me this is just another trend popping up to show people are tapping into their creative side to reinvent their own new normal. They are following universe whispers and dreams.

This may seem like a mind twisting post but maybe it was meant to be. Maybe it was just out out here stimulate your mind. Whatever the reason, dream a little bigger this week. Listen to the universe whisper. Follow your heart and drift into the magical space noted above. Explore an area you have never visited. Envision the possibilities around you.

Share your journey. It’s always better with friends. Dare to escape the ordinary!

giving

The Gifts that Keep on Giving

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Since we’ve been at home more in recent days (following social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines), passing the time has presented challenges. Yup, to put it bluntly, at times we are just plain bored.

My daughter had been asking to go shopping for painting supplies for about a month, well before the virus hit our home state. Then, like many other families, we went from extremely busy to having very little to do, but unable to go out and get much of anything that isn’t truly necessary.

So, I started rummaging.

And out came…watercolor paints (metallic, matte, at least 4 sets!), watercolor pads (in 2 sizes!), paintbrushes, pastels.  Voila! Art is possible.

Where did it all come from? When my kids were younger, in addition to the toys and candy-stuffed eggs, I would always put an art supply or two in their Easter baskets. Who knows why?  Just to balance things out.  Most of these art supplies were left on the living room floor along with the torn candy wrappers and cracked plastic eggs.  I’d eventually tuck the artsy stuff in a drawer along with the ones from the year before and all the other art supplies I’d collected through years of teaching, student-ing, and projects galore. Now, it’s all coming out to play.

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In these times of slower pace and waiting, many people are taking up old-fashioned pleasures.

Friends are asking, too…the group chat question about sidewalk chalk…so many people are chalking messages of encouragement or just drawing on the driveway with extra time.  And, lo and behold, of course I have a shiny unopened box of 48 Crayola sidewalk chalks! (I’ve probably had it for 5 years!) Sure, I will share them! Don’t thank me, thank the Easter bunny! (and, okay, my hoarding tendencies…which this whole situation does not help, by the way. But that’s a different post.)

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(Seriously, that big box of sidewalk chalk is in this Easter photo from 2011. Yes, 2011!  Over a decade ago!  Yikes!!!)

Add in a long-ago purchased rolling table from Ikea that I never set up and presto, it’s our own little mobile art station.  And we’re using the portion of the chalk we kept to cheer up outside.

Making stuff and sharing art and time are doing our hearts and minds good.  When I think of Easter coming in a couple of weeks, I am not sure what it will look like.  But for now, we are celebrating and sharing with creativity, with gifts from Easters past that are suddenly gifts all over again.

How are you passing any idle time, in old ways or new? Board games, card games?  Share in the comments!