Showers will always bring flowers

This time of year, no matter what has happened before or what may be on the horizon, always proves to be an amazing period of growth. Or maybe the more appropriate description is the realization of growth. When I look outside my windows now, I see green everywhere. Yet not too long ago the trees were barren and our lawn was brown. Had I been paying more close attention I might have seen the growth starting early on. But it’s not until the day we have to pull out the lawn mower and hedge clippers that we acknowledge how much life has come back into the yard.

In this same vain, I have realized growth in myself at this time of year for the past several years. Once upon a time in Philadelphia I remember emerging from a really difficult time at work that included insomnia and too many emotional days to count. A turning point? Doing part of the Beyonce’s Single Ladies dance at a work function. I would insert the video link but it seems to be permanently engraved into Facebook. And that’s okay with me. At the same time two years later, I was returning from an amazing spring break trip with staff and students, and heading off to a director-level interview in Indiana. Who says I can’t manage stress? And here I am now at this same time of year and realizing–again–how much has been accomplished since first arriving in Kansas City. Enjoying the days off from my part time job, starting my own book club, and being my own independent self. Yes, adjusting to a new home is difficult, but not impossible.

Wonder what realizations are still to be made in the coming years?

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You now have 18 members!

When living in Philadelphia I found out about the site Meetup.com, where you can search and join whatever meetup group you like based on interests, religion, relationships, location, etc. It’s how I found my closest Philly friends and for that I will always be grateful. Here in Kansas City it’s been a little different with Meetup. Okay, a lot different. For one, Kansas City covers a large area with parts that can spread way out into the ‘burbs, so you have to be careful RSVPing for events that might be a 30-45 minute drive. And the demographics for who’s on Meetup in Kansas City is quite different. The first time I ventured out for a meetup I found myself listening to “older” women discuss how much fun they had playing Card Sharks the week before. One woman even shared with me that she worked from home and needed to get out because she didn’t want to be a crazy cat lady. Of course she had cat hair on her clothes so part of me thinks she is a crazy cat lady. The 2nd time I dragged my husband and another friend to a happy hour and we tossed back beers with some more “older” peeps who were nice, but still not hitting the mark. Inspired by my 3rd meetup (see previous entry where I attended a Ted Exchange event) and tired of not finding the group I wanted, I started my own.

For the Love of Reading Books Club was officially launched this past Friday, and today I have 18 members signed up! I have a friend in San Diego who mentioned to me a year ago she was part of a book club and I remember thinking that sounded like fun. Then my sister told me she was in a book club–in fact I suggested The Happiness Project as their first book–and it really got me thinking. So I did it. Our first book, a recommendation from a dear friend, is The Wishing Year and I cannot wait to discuss this book out loud. I read it fairly quickly and enjoyed every moment so I am curious to see if/how this book spoke to other readers in their respective lives.

To be continued….(book discussion on May 3rd)

A Good Friday

I’ll admit that lately I have been an O Magazine junkie, drinking in all articles about finding inspiration, being your true self, saying yes, dreaming your dream job, etc. While great reads, they are also kind of like horoscopes: they speak a language that your heart hears, but the advice is broad enough to apply to everyone under the sun. Do you really think it’s a coincidence that all Virgos will experience something “life-changing” this month? Right. So this week I traveled down a different path of inspiration that I could combine with a goal of mine to get connected to this community. I attended a Ted Exchange event (http://www.tedxkc.org) at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in downtown Kansas City, a 2- hour live webcast from Berlin with cities all across the world tuning in to watch. And I L-O-V-E loved it.

First of all, it was at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum. I have never met an art museum that I didn’t like, and this place was no exception. I will have to return again in the near future for the Rodin exhibit. The second thing I loved about this experience was the connection and energy I felt in being part of this global community of learners around the world. During one of the breaks between speakers they showed a split view of at least a dozen theaters/auditoriums of attendees around the world and we waved at each other. I had this silly grin on my face the entire time. Such a dork! And last but not least, the speakers. The theme for this specific Ted Exchange event was The Big Picture, and the question of why we should invest in global health and development was explored along with the importance of being heard. Jeff Chapin, a mechanical engineer from IDEO, shared his experience abroad in Cambodia where he worked for over a year to establish latrines and handwash stations throughout villages in the country. He talked about how traditional methods of design were challenged in Cambodia, specifically our idea of linear thinking, when building latrines. Using transparencies to demonstrate the idea of “adding on” to a basic latrine model, instead of a long, linear poster, proved to be the key in communicating with the locals. This is due to the fact that in Cambodia you are always adding on to a structure, not tearing down and building something bigger. For example, a house with a thatched roof and mud floors will eventually receive a tin roof and concrete floor, or maybe even tiling. Maybe Chapin might have been clued in to this sooner had he realized there was only one place in town that could print a large, rectangular poster?

Needless to say I was pretty stoked driving home that afternoon. I was stoked that I found a MeetUp group that was into trying the same things that I wanted to do besides happy hour and card sharks. 🙂 And I was refreshed from the TED talk itself, as if a part of my brain that hadn’t been exercised in a while had gotten a great workout. Looking forward to more inspiration as we head into the Easter weekend.