Fair lessons

July 16, 2009

Sedgwick County FairI am bona fide crazy about the county fair. I love every bit of Americana, every bit of redneck — from the junk food to the junk vendors. I love the crowds, the noises, the smells, the late nights and early mornings. I love the carnies hawking games, church women pedaling chicken-and-noodles, and politicians handing out free T-shirts. And, nothing tops the 4-H projects. Every year, I am stunned by the talent of 4-Hers. They’re growing vegetables, raising animals, sewing clothes, building lamps and rockets, showing off great photos and art, and on and on. I was so proud of D. and E. and their projects.

Here are just some of the lessons I learned from the kids:

It’s all about knowing your audience. A recipe your family loves may not pass muster with the judges. Families are about gooey goodness. Food judges…not so much. And, that’s just fine with  E. — and us.

You really do need to get up and brush yourself off from time to time. D. and his lamb took a dive into the show ring dirt. They both landed upright, like buoys, and kept on walking — straight to a blue ribbon.

The thrill of carnival rides can make anyone feel young.

Camaraderie between old and new friends beats winning every time.

The most important lesson, however, has nothing to do with fun or childlike abandon. Instead, it’s a much more serious topic — the preciousness of life. Evan, a 13-year-old from our club, spent Thursday at the fair, hauled in a handful of purple ribbons, rode rides with his friends, and then died at home that evening.  No warning.

My heart breaks at the thought of the tough times ahead for his family. He was a gift to us all. There’s a small comfort in knowing that Evan’s last day was perhaps one of his best.

Trees for Life

April 6, 2009

Certain people stand apart from the rest. Balbir Mathur is one of those people. He’s the founder of the international nonprofit Trees for Life. Here’s just a glimpse into what they do: This year alone, the group gathered 50,000 books for children in Liberia; is helping set up 200 libraries in Nicaragua; and has developed a training video on reading storybooks to children for international distribution. They have been truly changing the world for more than 25 years.

When we first met, I congratulated Balbir on the group’s “accomplishments.” He responded by saying, “If you give a flower to a beloved, is that an accomplishment? This is how I worship.”

I worked hard throughout our conversation — not always successfully — to nix words like “projects,” “awareness,” “successes,” etc. It wasn’t easy and he was very patient with me as I tried to understand his approach. He describes Trees for Life as a  people-to-people movement that is helping empower and transform people’s lives worldwide while caring for our Earth.

Way beyond the donation mentality.

I left feeling very welcomed into his “tree family,” as he says. Most importantly, I felt empowered myself to help contribute toward long-lasting transformations.

Small houses

March 9, 2009

Small houseI am fascinated by small houses, such as this one. I see them mainly in older neighborhoods, obviously.  This one really caught my eye because of the pickup parked next door. It’s almost as long as the house itself. Who built such a tiny house? Was it really for a little old woman? A starter house? Maybe someone who was ahead of their time, in terms of simplistic living? There’s a whole society these days devoted to tiny houses: (http://www.resourcesforlife.com/small-house-society). I applaud their mission, but, somehow, I think the original owner might be amused — confused? — by all the fuss.  

Life meets work

November 25, 2008

I just discovered an interesting web site that shares my mantra for life — lifemeetswork.com. One stat from the site: More than 75% of workers think work life balance initiatives result in more loyal and efficient employees. Amen to that.

I have been lucky to telecommute for the last nine years, while raising two kids, helping with the family farm, helping with a photo business, etc. You’ve all done it, too — juggling what you can for your family. The idea of “free time” went out the window years ago. But, I have never regretted my choice to give up a little professionally for the work-family balance. In fact, I gotta go. The school bus is coming. The school bus is coming.

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