I hate cleaning the garage, but I love an art project

The garage (cleaning) art project.

My garage is always a diaster area.  I couldn’t fit a car in there if I tried.  Heck, I’m not even sure a bike would fit.  Now let me be clear.  Even if I could fit a car in my garage, I wouldn’t put one in there.  I like to use my garage space as an art studio, a place where I can do crazy projects like projectwarm.us or any other crazy idea that pops into my head.

Being an artist, I see everything as a blank canvas and every little trinket having some artistic value.  My garage clearly reflects my views.  Continue reading

How far away is your mission field?

I don’t read a lot of magazines.  Not because I don’t like reading them, it’s more about buying a pricey publication that I’m supposed to throw away (recycle) once I’ve finished reading it.  I’m not sure if it’s my hoarder tendencies or my desire to not be wasteful that keeps me from discarding these disposable print pieces, but I find myself keeping them.  Recently, I received a free copy of Reject Apathy while attending a conference.

The cover stories quickly grabbed my attention.  I decided to make a little time to leaf through it, looking for anything that might interest me.  As it turns out, the whole magazine was intriguing. I couldn’t put it down.  These people know how to write articles for ADHD people!  I have the attention span of a gnat, but I was completely sucked into this publication.  One article in particular rocked my world: Post-Missions Cynicism by Curt Devine (read the full article).  He put into words everything I thought and felt after my first mission trip, but never myself tried to identify.

“The conflict between excess at home and scarcity abroad is a lot to handle. The temptation can be to hate America’s abundance, or forget the poverty overseas and go back to life the way it was before. The key is living within the tension.” — Curt Devine

The article is about living in the tension between the excess of our American culture and the scarcity experienced in our mission fields.  His abroad covers a good portion of the planet.  My abroad doesn’t span as far, but does it need to?  I feel the same way he does when I return from an orphanage in Mexico.  I also feel this way when I get home from volunteering at the homeless shelter that’s 15 miles away.

How can I come back from seeing a world in need and be okay with my big air-conditioned house filled mostly with things I don’t need?  How can I go to sleep at night lying on my safe, cozy bed, set with my perfect sleep number and not think about people that don’t even have a bed?  I heard Kay Warren speak several years ago about how she’s been ruined.  As Kay says, she used to be fun at parties, but now all she can talk about is the AIDS crisis.  She witnessed this horrible epidemic first hand, but upon going home, she couldn’t forget it.  I guess I’ve been ruined, but ruined by the epidemic of poverty and homelessness.  Continue reading

tired of trying to NOT keep up with the Jones’

I decided to participate in the aday.org project on May 15th.  Here’s the project description off the aday.org website:

On this one single day we ask you to pick up your camera and help us photograph daily life. What is close to you? What matters to you? We will connect your images to images from all around the world, creating a unique online experience where photographs will be shared, compared and explored. Your view on life will be preserved to inspire generations to come. 

Admittedly, my life has been too busy lately and I really don’t have the bandwidth needed to participate in anything like this.  In a very apathetic mood, I set out to photograph a few things from my day.  Of the ten photos I was allowed to submit, I submitted 9.  Photos that anyone would look at and say, “There’s nothing really great about these photos.  They’re just normal people doing everyday things.  Bor-ing.”

There’s nothing really great about these photos.  They’re just normal people doing everyday things.

Initially, that’s what I saw too.  I almost didn’t submit anything.  I guess that’s the good thing about social media.  It’s an accountability group, whether you want it to be or not.  I publicly said, “I’m going to do this!  You should too!”  It would be awkward to not do it and have to say that I’m trying to achieve some sort of greatness with this that I couldn’t even remotely come close to.

You can view all of my submissions here.  My pictures might suck, for lack of a better word, but my life doesn’t.  I totally can relate to Donald Miller right now with Blue Like Jazz.  Take a look.

School Project

What I see:  A messy coffee table with a kids’ school project that is finally done.  You should see the rest of the house!

What this means in my life:  There are so many things this means in my life.  Boring photo?  Yes.  What does it say about my life?

  • I have a house.  Not just a shelter, but a really nice shelter.
  • I have 2 kids that have the opportunity to go to a great school.
  • My kids are creative and have a place to use those skills.
  • My wallet… I have money to feed myself and my kids without having to struggle day to day.
  • I have a great job that allows me some flexibility to work from home sometimes so I can be with my kids.
  • I get to spend time with my kids.
  • I have great friends.

I could go much deeper than this, but I’ll spare you some of the details.  My point is that there are so many things I take for granted.  I think I probably speak for all of us when I say that.  I posted this quote on my Facebook page a couple of days ago:

“Sometimes I just get worn out being a square peg in a world of round holes.”

When I wrote this, I just felt tired.  Tired of trying to not keep up with the Jones’.  Tired of trying to just keep my head above water in getting everything done that I feel I need to do.  Tired of the responsibility of being the head of my household.

If I made a list from each of the photos of everything good that’s represented, this would be a really long blog post.  My point?  I need to take the time to look at my life through a different lens sometimes and appreciate all of the goodness in it.

3 things rarely seen in suburbia…

There are just some things you rarely see in affluent suburban areas.  I decided to walk to work this past week, and what did I see?  #1, a whiskey bottle in a tree.  It was empty.  What?  You would have checked too.  I guess the good thing here is that the person drinking it wasn’t driving.  This was clearly placed in a walking zone.  I did have the desire to place a note inside the bottle to see if anyone would get it.  Maybe if it’s still there next week, I’ll do that.

Christmas in September is new to me.  #2, a dead Christmas tree.  Okay, okay.  I’ll stop the Dr. Seussing.   This tree was in my neighborhood since last Christmas.  It was in the alley for 8 months, then moved to the curb in the front.  In affluent suburbia, they don’t pick up stuff like this unless it’s cut into perfect 3′ sections, weighing less than 30 pounds, then neatly tied together with biodegradable string.  I don’t have a problem making it easy for the people picking it up, but I do think this is a bit overboard.  As for the tree… I have no idea how it got decorated, but that’s funny!  😉

This is only one picture of mattresses thrown away.  #3, queen size mattress.  All of the mattresses seem to be that size.  This one was in an apartment dumpster.  The other ones were in business dumpsters, one being behind the pizza place by our house.

I can’t wait to see what I find this week…

shhh! I’m a spy in the witness protection program!

Procrastinating is something I try not to do, but I seem to do it well.  Apparently it’s one of my many gifts…  Procrastinate.  Watering my plants, returning the 1,000 emails in my inbox or renewing my drivers license.  The plants are dead, I have a few people not so happy with me and I now have to change my name.  Yes, I have to change my name because I waited too long to renew my driver’s license.

It’s bad enough that the procrastination cost me an entire day of vacation, but I have no one to blame but myself.  Actually, the procrastination started about 13 years ago.  I got married.  Yes, changing your name on your social security card is part of the deal, but a part that didn’t work out for me.  I got the paperwork, filled it out, mailed it in and they lost it.  “We’ll send you another set and you can do it again.”  Really?  Yeah, because that’s gonna happen.  I thought as long as I get my tax refund, who cares?  Uncle Sam doesn’t care, why should I?

Fast forward to today.  My drivers license is about 3 weeks expired.  The window of opportunity to renew it online is closed.  I came to stand in the long, outside line to get my license renewed early in the morning.  It’s going to be 100 degrees outside today.  Wait.  Wait some more.  Keep waiting…  After standing in line for two and a half hours, I finally get to the front of the line and made it to the counter.  Yes!  It’s almost over!  No.  It’s not.  I was denied a renewal.  What??!!?!  The name on my license did not match the name on my social security card.  She said I could get a licence in my old name, but only if I showed my social security card.  I don’t carry my social security card with me.  My aliases have caught up with me.  Sadly, I’m going to have to give up my career as a spy in the witness protection program.  At this point, I would have taken a license in any name.  I just want to drive legally, I don’t care what name they call me. Continue reading

…and what should break next?

On the last day of my no retail shopping challenge, I started my day as I do everyday.  I turn on my espresso machine so it will heat up to make my latte.  I got one latte out of it before it started constantly running, trying desperately to fill itself up with water, but to no avail.  I’ve had this sweet little machine for over 6 years now.  It’s not one you replace, it’s one you take in to get repaired.  (You can read my cost analysis on this here)  Just guessing, this machine would cost more new than what my 15 year old car is worth.  I wouldn’t buy a new car unless I had to, so I’m not going to buy a new espresso machine either.

My little Pasquinni is safely seatbelted in the front seat of the car, ready for his trip to the repair shop.  Should I have put him in the backseat?  Hmmm, he’s pretty tough and could probably handle the air bag.  When I called the repair shop, the lady on the phone had to be the nicest person I’ve ever spoke with in a repair place.  After making my arrangements, she asked me, “Do you have a back up plan?”  I love her!!  She gets it!!  Yes, I’m a coffee addict and I have a back up plan.  Awesomeness.

I have no idea how much this is going to cost to fix, but it has to be cheaper than buying a new one.  6+ years with no problems and I use it everyday.  I call that good.  If I have to get it repaired every six years, I can live with that.  Honestly, if I was better about cleaning it, I might not be taking it in this week.

Ownership of pretty much anything requires maintenance and repairs at some point.  I just had the hot tub fixed, now the espresso machine.  I hope things don’t really come in threes.  If so, let me count the repairs to the pop-up camper we just got.  Off to make a latte… on my borrowed back up machine.