Tag Archives: helping

Looking inside the box

Standard

Winter is finally loosening its grip on Vermont. My yard is still packed high with snow, now grubby and worn. But the sun is out and promises that soon green will begin to peek out from the bare spots.

I made a move to my very own home a few weeks ago with the help of my exchange group. I was fortunate to have the support of several individuals as well as more than a half dozen strong young men from a local alternative educational facility. The move from my apartment to my home a mile away was a whirlwind – and when it was all done the little house bulged with boxes and furniture.

Between work commitments, I’ve been emptying boxes. In the days before the move I made sure to carefully pack the things I would need right away. Important papers, bill yet to be paid, telephone and address books, etc – all went into boxes that I thought I would open first and be able to access whatever I needed until I could reorganize things.

Ok, you can laugh now. We’ve all done it. We put something away in a special place, thinking we’ll remember exactly where it is when we need it. But when that day comes, we can’t find it. It isn’t where our brains say it is. We say “I know I put that here so I could find it again.” Or “Where did I put that?” And each minute that goes by without finding it, we go from room to room, stepping a little bit faster, frantically digging through piles and boxes, and finally looking in those places that we are sure we didn’t put “that”.

Sometimes we find it in one of those unlikely places. Other times, it shows up unexpectedly a week or a month or even a year from then. We may have replaced it with another “that” – and promptly found the original “that.”

I have put things down on a table, wandered off to do something, and come back to find that particular object had disappeared. I live alone, so I can’t call out “Who took my ‘that’?” or “Help me find ‘that’!” Nope – it’s all on me. I just have to wander and dig and ponder where “that” could be.

In this move, I lost my basket of tea bags. And my garlic heads. And my kitchen magnets. I’m grateful I didn’t lose something that had a shorter shelf life, like shrimp. I’m also grateful that the little box that held my bills and checkbook didn’t fall into that black hole of “thats”. So I decided to let it go. I could live without garlic for a while, keep my refrigerator clean of notes and photos, and pick up another box of tea from the grocery. I knew they would show up somewhere, someday.

Now of course, this thought doesn’t work in every circumstance. Sometimes it is important to continue to search for “that”. Our passions, for instance. Sometimes in the daily chaos, we forget where we put our hopes and dreams. They were right there in front of us, and then they were gone. We can choose to let it go and say to ourselves “It will turn up eventually.” Or we can work hard to find it again – all by ourselves. And you never know – it might be in the next place you look.

What passions have you put aside, or forgotten about because life’s routines got in the way?

Advertisements

Smells Like Childlike Spirit!

Standard

Last night’s soup swap was a great success. I marveled at the way the same basic ingredients could be presented in such unique ways. Fall and winter vegetables teamed up with lentils and beans in many dishes, but each had its own flavor and texture. A “golden” ladle was given to the soup voted as overall favorite. The winner was a cherry dumpling soup! We tend to think of soup as an appetizer; a beginning to dining or a hearty stew-like main course for lunches. So this soup (along with the others – over a dozen in all) surprised and delighted everyone. We went away with recipes and new ways to combine basic pantry items that we get tired of, or use over and over in the same way. Grandma’s acorn squash and lentil soup tastes great, but we tire of the routine.

So let’s look at something that is also always there, and can get stale no matter how much we love it – our occupations. Do you remember when you were a child, dreaming of the careers you would have as an adult? As 5-year-olds, there were no boundaries – we planned futures as firemen, mommies and daddies, doctors and pilots. I decided to ask other writers this question: What would you be if you were not a writer?

At first my colleagues insisted that they would want to do nothing else except what they were doing at present. So I asked, if skill/talent/money/whatever was not in the way, what would they choose to be? Reality should play no part in their answer – there should be no logic attached. I wanted to hear what they would do if there were absolutely no boundaries –in this imaginary world, only their spirits were in charge!

The answers were amazing –given the chance to throw aside the hackles of reality, a few stated they would be farmers, dancers, artists and singers. Without the requirements of formal education, others said they would be veterinarians, paleontologists, and physicists. The answers were exciting and eclectic – pipe organ player, rabbi, metalsmith, kitten photographer, ranch owner (where children could ride horses for free), Radio City Rockette, Indiana Jones, and many more. In the imaginary world, it didn’t matter whether we had long legs, beautiful voices, had degrees or owned acres of land – not even the sky was the limit!

So, as adults, how can we unlock the doors that hold in these dreamy wishes, and make them a little part of our reality? If we gave our spirits control of our lives, instead of allowing logic and all the other things to handcuff us to a specific daily grind, how would it change us? Of course, I am not suggesting we all live completely in a dream world of our making – we all have to pay bills and taxes, raise children and do laundry. But if we did something to fulfill a part of that inner desire, wouldn’t it only serve to make our lives better?

Instead of planning a vacation, what if you spun the globe, closed your eyes and pointed to a destination – and took off on your own Indian Jones adventure? What if you bartered for lessons in something you had interest in doing – dancing, acting, baking, or religious instruction? What if there were no boxes to define you? Dig deep – and uncover your passions!

Snow Mountains and Soup Swaps

Standard

Snow has arrived in Central Vermont! I spent Sunday with my two friends, Otis and Ben, and we enjoyed the snow together. We tried out the hill at their country home – fabulous! Otis, who is 6 years old, discovered that if we all piled into the wood sled together, the trip down the hill was much faster! Later that afternoon, Otis, Ben (who is 4) and I went to Hubbard Park to do some more sledding, participate in a scavenger hunt, and have hot cocoa and cookies.

At home, the snow plows rumble into the parking lots behind my apartment and push the accumulation into miniature mountains of white and grey. Last night Fae and I played “Queen of the Hill” on the pile nearest the door. Fae loves snow – but like me, when her feet get cold, she’s done playing!

Each morning I discover that a kind spirit has shoveled my little walkway from the parking lot to the steps of my apartment, and cleared a path to the dumpsters as well! This person must come before dawn, as I am usually up early and have yet to find out who it is. So I am giving a shout out and a thank you to the Snow Fairy, whoever you are!

If you remember my blog of last winter, Glove is All You Need, I discovered the singles gathering of gloves in Montpelier. My goal this year is to collect those errant gloves and mittens and find a place to donate them. But this month, shoppers won’t have to expose their hands to put money in Montpelier’s meters. The city has covered all its meters with festive red baggies – everyone parks free. A good thing for shoppers and a good thing for the shops!

I am preparing beef barley soup to take to a soup swap hosted by the REACH exchange in Montpelier. This swap is a bit different than the one I wrote about last year in Soup for You. We all partake of the soup of others instead of going home with freezer-ready portions. I am considering hosting a soup swap of my own in the late winter months – it would be a fun way to spend a cold evening!

Trees, Please.

Standard

Several years ago, a storm ripped through Randleman, North Carolina and tore out almost 400 loblolly pine trees in the town’s World Summer Youth Camp.

Loblolly pines have roots that grow close to the surface of the ground, and groups of the pines will intertwine their roots like the weaving of a blanket. When one tree falls, sometimes others are pulled up with it. Boy Scout Mark Case, then 14, saw the devastation and knew he had to help. But he quickly realized he needed his Scout Troop and their teamwork skills to get the job done. He came up with a plan to turn the camp into an arboretum where people could learn about different species of trees and shrubs.

With the help of his parents, Mark applied for grants from local and national organizations. He collected about $1500 from different organizations, and used the money to buy trees and tools for his project. Mark asked arborists to help him pick the best trees and shrubs for the project. “I had to learn about the surface of the ground, and I had to plan how much fertilizer to use for each tree,” says Mark. “We have red clay here, so we needed to put in a lot of fertilizer and mulch so the trees would grow.”

On planting day, Mark hoped a few volunteers from his community would come to help the Troop with digging and planting. But he was surprised when over 90 people, ages 7 to 60, came to plant trees. Out of 92 trees that were purchased or donated for the project, 59 were planted on Join Hands Day. The rest were planted later that fall or were left in pots and protected for the winter. Mark’s Join Hands Day project won a Points of Light Foundation National Award of Excellence from the Points of Light Foundation.

“Other Scouts can do this for their own communities,” said Mark. “If you set your mind to do something you can do anything. It’s like climbing a mountain – you just have to keep moving. You can do things you never dreamed you could do.”


Mark is a great example to all of us – we can all help our Mother Earth by planting a few trees in our own communities. Not only is Arbor Day coming up at the end of this month, but Join Hands Day 2009 is celebrated on the first Saturday in May. Every tree – and every person – counts. Want to know how to properly plant a tree? I’ll add a page with easy instructions!