Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kid's Craft Corner

I actually did do my share of kid's crafts as a child. The difference here is that I did these projects out of pure enjoyment and didn't worry an ounce about how thy actually ended up looking. As a child I'd work as a perfectionist on any sort of art I was attempting. If it didn't meet my "high" standards it was likely that no one would see it at all. Creating isn't about the final product it's about the process and sometimes that's the most important part. It's what emotions are involved. Whether you're cooking, or photographing, or playing music, building a woodcraft, planting a flower or working out a relationship, what emotion goes into it?
Feelings of self-worth?
I picked up these silly kids projects at local craft store to force myself to look at the process and not the final product. Sometimes we need a catalyst to realize or express true emotion and I believe thats an OK place to be sometimes. So, I struggle with presenting to you my imperfect "art" without disclaimer but here it is any way... :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

NEW Reclaiming Childhood blog entry

NEW Reclaiming Childhood blog entry coming soon: Kid's Craft Corner

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My First New Year (Retro)

OK, so maybe it wasn't my first New Years...

In retro fashion, I'm looking back to a few "reclaiming childhood" moments that happened within the past couple of years. Each is centered on a specific holiday.

I used to joke about the curse that typically accompanied my celebration of the New Year holiday. People enjoy laughter, fireworks, and friends around this time of year. They reflect on the past triumphs and lows of their previous 365 days. They scribble down sworn agendas on how they are going to be a better person in an ornate journal that's later to be lost to the land where only dust bunnies dwell. It's a good practice to have-- reflection and projection and then celebration of the two. I've participated in this as any normal person has... it just seemed that I had my share of error on this day as well. It was almost as if the universe thought, "Oh darn. I didn't pack enough bad things into that past year so I better hurry up and meet my quota before the calendar rolls around." Ha! The comedy and tragedy was filled with everything from flash floods to cops, missing children to unintended explosions, homelessness to paranoia. I never dreaded the approach of a new year, only the end of the current one. Moreover, I commonly wanted a family to celebrate the holiday with and one that was free from hurt and drama and callousness.

As a young adult and well after I'd written off the familial dream of grandeur, I took up a second job in a local cafe. One particular evening shift was a little slow but I'd seen a few friendly faces walk in. Two of which were my friends Nick and Hannah. Nick and Hannah were an infectiously sweet couple I had truly grown to appreciate in the shorter time I'd known them. We chatter a bit about my newest side job as I took their order. I'll omitt the next details for the sake of shortening the story but the simple circumstance that arose was a bit of a defining moment for me. Nick and Hannah offered for me to join them on a vacation over New Year's. I immediately resisted.

I didn't like gifts. I don't like gifts. To me, this was a gift. My first instinct was joy. How wonderful would it be to spend a holiday away with this family? I didn't dare say yes though. I could feel myself drawing closer in friendship with this people and in my life close relationships always resulted in much pain. I didn't dare go down that road again. Strangely, after a little persistance I agreed. (I'm sure this was in part due to my propondency to please people.)

It was a quick trip to a seemingly alternate universe. I was able to relax. Now when I say relax, I don't mean that it was just nice to be away from town and my job. I mean instead that I was able to relax into my own skin. I was able to truly feel a loving, appropriate affection and return it. These were concepts I'd sadly not grown up with and appreciated all the more at this moment. We ate, we laughed, we played. I shopped with Hannah and watched sports with Nick. I fell asleep each night in tears merely thankful to be a part of something. (Not that I understood what that something actually was, but I was effortlessly grateful all the same.)

New Years came with apprehension. I don't know what I was dreading. I suppose that maybe the horrid curse was going to follow me and ruin Nick and Hannah's holiday as well? As the master ignorer I am however I blocked the fear out of my mind and tried to just enjoy each moment. We'd bought some small fireworks from a local store and struggled to light them in the wind. I selfishly had a feeling that could have cared less about the flaming balls of light but they were humoring me. In reality, I just loved the fellowship of the moment. That evening passed without episode. I remember drifting off to sleep not daring to shift my body to a more comfortable position in fear that I might upset the magical balance of joy in the moment. I'd made it through the first New Years I could remember that I completely enjoyed in peace. More so, I fully felt the meaning of a new year, a fresh start, and the beginning of a redemption.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Playing In the Rain

As promised, I danced in the rain.

I think all of us have been caught in a downpour. How many of us have been inconvenienced? Annoyed? Had to rearrange plans? How many of us have grumbled, "Well it figures." How many have smiled? Laughed? How many of us as adults have danced in the rain?

I must have been drenched and dried out at least four times this past Sunday. Each time I had a different reaction. At first I was in awe of the power God was letting open on our meager land below. The thought came to mind, "what if I just went out there and stood?" There was something inviting and invigorating about the notion of a million drops pounding down across my body at once. Such a force each of these little mines could carry, yet I knew each would visit me without injury. Still, I resisted the urge. Instead I settled for watching the display from the comfort of a couch. I stared through the large glass window as if I was a child at the aquarium, nose pressed close to the shark tank wall, as to not miss a bit of the action. The sound was a familiar one. I never realize how much I've missed it until I hear it again. Almost as if the Lord is sitting high above reaving the engine periodically, pumping more and more rain out as He wishes.

Several other times through out the day there was rain. Leaving with my afternoon coffee...rain. Carrying things to the car... rain. Finding a place to park... rain. Hiking with a friend...rain. By the time later evening came I had settled into the idea that I was just going to have to be wet. I was nearing my home and yet again, needed to be out of the car. I couldn't change the situation. There was another downpour and I had no control to stop it. So I caved, I got out and I embraced the environment in which I was living. I danced. Now I know full well that the statement "dance in the rain" seems like something off a tourist trap t-shirt, bumper-sticker, greeting card, or at the very least the name of a chief from a cartoon Indian tribe. However, maybe there's something to be said for those cheesy sayings cemented into our everyday lives.

Any life can see several metaphorical downpours. In mine, I react the same way to those as I do to the wet, rainy ones. I resist, I complain, I change plans hastily only to see the storm end and I become disappointed. Then eventually I give in and accept that maybe the Lord has me in that specific place for a reason. My annoyance changes to appreciation and wonder. It's at that moment that I'm granted the freedom within myself to dance.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reclaiming childhood entry to come

Reclaiming childhood entry to come soon: "Playing in the Rain"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Water Aerobics

That's right, I said it... water aerobics. It was one of my first "reclaiming childhood" activities. Now you may be thinking, since when is that a childhood activity? It's not. But what IS a childhood activity is going to the local public pool...

I went to one swimming lesson as a kid. Apparently I had issues with jumping into the deep end and into the arms of a scary-looking man-stranger who said he'd "catch me.” Apparently they also had problems with stubborn little girls who wanted to do things on their own terms. Go figure. Needless to say, though I figured out how to swim on my own, my professional aspirations of becoming a gold medalist in the 100m fly were short-lived.

So this week, earlier than God arises, I set out for an hour of geriatric-geared aquatic bouncing. Sitting in the parking lot being stared down by my snow-topped neighbor, an obvious class veteran, I began to wonder what sort of endeavor I was about to stride into. "Oh look! My friend's here, what a relief... wait maybe not, that means I have to actually go through with this little bout of cardio humiliation." Taking upon the attitude of trying new things at least once, we entered.

After a fumbling mess of "floater belt" adjustments, we entered the pool. I relaxed into the warm water, greeted by the smiling face of a woman who should have been named Olga. The damp smell and lingering taste of overly chlorinated water brought back a few slight memories of that first day of swimming lessons. The warm ups were over quickly and Olga began. “Ok everyone bicycle paddle!”
“What the heck is bicycle paddle?” I thought.
“Alright, now take a lap!”
“Man, this lady to my left is quick!”
“3…2…1…very good! Now opposite jumping jacks!”
“Really? Really. Opposite jacks?” I was a bit frazzled now.
“I didn’t know I was signing up for swimming laps!”
“Ok frog jump! You-- your core isn’t centered!”
“Me?!” How do I always manage to get called out? Is my friend laughing?
“Yes you. Now everyone, lap!”

Oh brother. You want to know a secret though? Aside from being completely shown up by my wrinkled classmates, I actually enjoyed myself. Letting down the barrier of “coolness”, letting down the need to be in control and to be the best at what I’m involved in, the need to know at least a little about every activity wasn’t anything I’d consider comfortable. But since when is God’s process of molding us comfortable?

Huge credit goes to my friend, Beatrice. I would have never made it there without her prompting and laughs throughout—thanks girl!