Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banning words from my vocabulary

            I’ve decided to stop using the word ‘nice.’ Over the past few weeks I’ve realized that I can’t stand the word, and can’t think of an instance in which it has any real meaning.
            “What do you think of this paint color?”
            ‘Oh, it’s nice.”
            Translation: I could take it or leave it. Meh.
            Or how about, “I met so-and-so today. She’s ok. She’s nice.”
            Translation: I can’t think of anything else to say, so I’m falling back on the nice neutral word ‘nice.’
            One more: your child is talking and you’re only half listening, so when they pause you nod and murmur, ‘oh, that’s nice.’ You’ve totally tuned them out (I know because I’ve done it). What the heck?
            No more for me! Nice is a boring word. It’s a word that reminds me of a living room full of beige tones on the walls, beige curtains, beige carpet, and perfectly coordinated and fluffed beige pillows. In other words, snoooooze. Can’t we punch it up a little in here? How about a lime green throw rug or something?
            I want descriptive words. I want words that have real meaning. Isn’t that why we love those books that draw those amazing word pictures and you sigh and go ‘yeah, that’s awesome.’ (Here’s another dilemma though—‘awesome’ is over-used too. Ugh). Anyway, I guarantee those writers aren’t using the word ‘nice.’
            Instead of ‘nice’…how about actually being descriptive? What about using something like: brilliant, vibrant, dull, detailed, meticulous, driven, focused, sharp, wishy-washy, peppy, magnificent, agreeable, kind, enthusiastic, witty, cavalier …or whatever you come up with. I guess it comes down to this—get creative with your speech to say what you really mean, and maybe that means you’ll banish ‘nice’ from your vocabulary, too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Before I die…

            I love historic homes, buildings, neighborhoods, all of it. Well, maybe not ALL of it, as I look at my endless list of house projects and wonder where I’ll find the time and cash. Last week was the Annual NPA Home Tour and before that was the Upstairs Downtown tour. We are drawn to these spaces that give us a sense of place—these spaces that have history and beauty and a richness to them unlike any other. I feel like these buildings and homes have so many stories and secrets to share, and we need to be innovative and find ways to utilize them fully in our ‘modern day’ times.
            I recently watched a TED talk by Candy Chang, who has begun a movement in her home city of New Orleans that resonates with me and makes me wish I would’ve thought of it.
            Chang was reflecting on the lightening pace of every day life as she mourned the loss of a friend, and she wished she could make her life and those around her more meaningful. “We don’t bump in to every neighbor (often, if at all), so a lot of wisdom never gets passed on. But we DO share the same public spaces.”
            “How can we lend and borrow more of our things without knocking on each other’s doors at a bad time? How can we share more of our memories of our abandoned buildings and gain a better understanding of our landscape?” Chang lives nearby an abandoned building that made her wonder how she could use it as a catalyst for others to gather and share a part of themselves. She painted one side of it with chalkboard paint and the words: Before I die, I want to….
            The side of the building filled up by the next day. It became a space of giving and taking—of sharing. I’ve written before about things I want to see in Noblesville, and it’s that sort of gathering spot and sharing our voices in public spaces that makes me go, “yeah, that’s what we need here right now. That’s the sort of world I want to live in.” 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stepping outside my comfort zone

At my recent high school reunion, I won the unofficial title of ‘coolest person in the class of ’92.’ It was unofficial because there wasn’t actually a title and there wasn’t actually a vote, but I have to admit I kind of basked in the glory of popularity in the eyes of my former classmates for a little bit.
            I wasn’t popular in high school. At all. I was shy, awkward, and afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t want to be like that but I was, and my holding back wasn’t doing myself or the world any favors. I was determined to work on myself and to bring more of who I was deep down out into the world. I will always be introverted, yes, but now I am also able to speak up and share my worldview and not be afraid to let my passions show. And I realize that’s where the magic is.
            I don’t like to hear people say they ‘just want to be comfortable.’ I used to think this myself and it kept me from taking risks, pushing myself and achieving things I surprised even myself about.
I thought of all this a couple weeks ago as I danced in my studio’s performance showcase. I’m amazed at all the women I have met and become friends with who share the same passions and love of dance as I do. I never would have met them if I hadn’t pushed myself outside my comfort zone to go into the studio in the first place, and the same goes for them. It was intimidating to take the risk (what am I doing here?). It placed doubt in my mind (what if I fail?), and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
            All this to say, it’s worth a continual evaluation of your life to constantly see what you’re capable of, what your dreams are, and how you can take steps toward making those dreams reality—in essence becoming more of who you really are. The world needs you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back to School Shopping—the Stubby Pencil way

I kind of geek out over shopping for school and art supplies. Well, certain kinds of shopping and certain kinds of art and school supplies that is. Like many shopping ideals I have, I dream of shopping in a cute little brick & mortar independent store for eco-conscious, well-made and aesthetically pleasing supplies, supporting a local merchant and bringing my own reusable bag (of course) to tote my purchases home.
Ah, no big-box stores, no bright fluorescent lights and dry air that makes my eyeballs hurt. No plastic bags, no extra wasteful packaging. Voting with my dollars and, instead of trying only to save a buck, being willing to pay a little more trying to support companies who care about sustainability and the future of our planet that our kids and grandkids will inherit.
So there’s not a brick and mortar art & school supply store around here but there IS Stubby Pencil (www.stubbypencilstudio.com). I stumbled upon the Stubby Pencil website a couple years ago via a craft blog I love (surprise, surprise) and have been hooked ever since.
You will find stuff at Stubby Pencil that I guarantee you won’t find in any big box store, at least not around here. Some of my personal faves include:
An amazing array of the coolest pencil sharpeners and scissors, lefty’s included, eco-highlighter pencils—hey, no plastic and no caps to lose (and they come in yellow, pink, green, blue and orange), soy crayons, glue sticks and paste that smell like almond marzipan (mmm!), rulers made from recycled phone books, Forest Choice pencils, Eco-friendly colored pencils, and washable markers made from 25% recycled plastic that can be re-dipped in water if they dry out.
I just visited their site again and they’ve added a lot more to their selection—they even have creative kits and crafts, which are perfect to stockpile for presents throughout the year. I receive no monetary compensation from Stubby Pencil for my endorsement, but I do have a special offer for Current readers: use the coupon code CURRENTSAVE now through 12/31/12 for 15% off your Stubby Pencil order. I’d love to know what you choose!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thoughts from one of those ‘idiot’ parents

            I’ve been compared to a certain columnist more times than I can count. Compared as in, ‘you two could NOT be more different.’ That is 100% correct. I think all we have in common is we have the same number of kids.
            Our differences were highlighted a couple weeks ago when this particular lightening-rod columnist labeled parents who don’t vaccinate as ‘selfish idiots.’
            Hmm. While I typically won’t debate people who won’t look at the other side of a controversial issue, I can’t help but wonder at some of her statements.
            I’m one of those idiot no-vax parents. Am I against vaccines in general? No. Do I think vaccines are helpful at times and have helped eradicate certain diseases? Yes. Do I think there are too many vaccines on the CDC schedule? Yes. Do I think they’re all necessary? No. Am I uneducated? I’ve spent hours and hours researching vaccines and I’ve talked to my children’s doctor, so, no. Will I ever choose to vaccinate my kids? Yes, I likely will with a few specific vaccines, weighing the risks and benefits as best I can.
            What kind of tooth and nail fight are certain parents putting up so that unvaxed kids can’t attend public school? How does my unvaxed child endanger your vaxed child, if you believe vaccines are effective? What about babies who aren’t fully vaccinated yet, and won’t be for over 2 years following the CDC schedule? How do you keep them away from siblings or other children, so that the little ticking time bombs don’t spread disease to vaxed kids? Do you refuse to go out in public, to restaurants, parks, or malls, because you can’t know who is vaccinated and who isn’t? What if you had a child, like I did, that had seizures following four vaccines? Would you be wary?
            As for the tetanus argument, how many adults are up-to-date on tetanus? If you puncture yourself with a rusty nail, get a tetanus shot! Tetanus isn’t contagious to others, so not having had the tetanus shot is a ridiculous reason to demand kids not be allowed to attend public school.
            It’s not a matter of not having health insurance or being able to afford vaccines. Many parents that go the slow or no vax route are well educated with health insurance.
            Bottom line, parents need real information about vaccines. Research for yourself.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Children of the Corn

With all the formerly lush green grass that felt so good on bare feet and is now crunchy and turning to dust, I wondered to my friend just how long it had been since we had rain. She checked and came back with this interesting fact—this is the driest June in Indiana since 1988.
Ah, I remember the summer of ‘88. It was the summer before I got my very first ‘real’ job, and the summer when the drought and heat killed crops and all the grass. The dry earth cracked wide open, and we wondered if it would ever rain again.
It must have, because the next July I got up well before 6am to be at the bus stop with a group of kids who were also embarking on a money-making venture. We rode the school bus to the cornfield where we’d spend the majority of our days for the next 3 weeks detasseling corn.
My parents arranged the job for me, saying it would help me build character and a good work ethic.
Detasseling corn, for the uninitiated, is pulling tassels out of all of the ‘female’ rows of corn to allow for pollination by the ‘male’ rows, so that these 2 species create a hybrid. It is hard, hard work and the quitting rate is high. We called ourselves ‘children of the corn’ and knew that our work force ranging in age from 14-18 were the only ones who would sign up for this gig.
My oldest daughter is nearly the age I was when I started detasseling. Would I want her or any of my kids to detassel? Hmm. Looking back I can see the ‘character building’ and the ‘good work ethic’ it helped me cultivate, but there are lots of other opportunities for that and not much opportunity to detassel around Noblesville anyway.
I guess I’ll have to settle for regaling the kids with stories of me working in the wet and muddy fields, blistered, sunburned, sweaty and sore. And find other opportunities for them to build character, outside of the cornfield.

Love local food, want more options

            Last week I was on vacation in Vermont—again—and again I was struck by what they’ve got going on that I want so badly to see take root here in Noblesville. There are multitudes of village stores where you can buy local food, there are recyling bins all over the place, and there are community bulletin boards for everything from local events to job postings to for sale listings, not to mention the tidy community gardens dotting the landscape. Sometimes, all of these amenities are located within the very same block. It’s so lovely and magical and I sigh and wonder, ‘why can’t we have that, too?’
I’ve been talking about starting up a small farmer’s market on the square for, oh, a couple years now. My vision is simple: to have another venue for farmers to share their hard work and another venue for consumers to come buy food that’s fresh and local. Yes, I know we have Farmer’s Markets already, but the problem as I see it is that is they are all on the same day and all at the same time. Four hours per week in the busy summertime doesn’t leave much room for error in shopping local for food. And if you can’t make it Saturday morning? Well, you’re out of luck.
            I want to see a small market within walking distance of downtown on a weeknight, with only local food and a charm and ambience you can only find in those tiny markets—just like they have in Vermont.   
            So my problem—again—is lack of time. I have people willing to help, but none of us can head it up. Shoot me a message if you’re feeling compelled to help bring a weekday farmer’s market to downtown Noblesville and let’s see what magic we can make happen.