July 26, 2006
British Columbia rocks. On the first day of our trip, we landed in adless Vancouver, as previously noted and then, following some crazy plan of my mother’s, we spent the next 6 plus hours in transit. We took three bus rides and a ferry to our hotel on Vancouver Island where we immediately fell asleep. The ferry ride was beautiful though, and I tried to keep a pleasant attitude towards her as this was the beginning of our TWO WEEKS together. (“Family vacation,” “two weeks” I wonder that the two phrases together did not give me a single moments pause before the trip started.)
Vancouver Island reminded me of Denmark because of all the people riding the bus, riding their bikes, and wearing rain gear. I miss bike paths.
Here are some of the pictures I took on our ferry ride back to Vancouver to board the cruise:
July 25, 2006
Why are Americans so frazzled? I’m taking a reductionist view in this post and blaming it all on advertisements. I noticed something different about Canada the moment I stepped into the airport. By the time I reached the bus stop I realized what it was: There were no ads anywhere! I was so stunned with the breathtakingly simple lines the lack of ads exposed that I took pictures of the road and the bus stop.
July 16, 2006
“I don’t know, Alaska!”
Hey, don’t blame me, I’ve been with my Granddad for days now. He has Alzheimers, but he is still jovial and likes to joke around. We’ve been having a lot of fun. The other day we were going out to site see. We were going down to deck 7 on the elevator and and he asked where we were going. “We’re going out to the front of the ship, GrandDad.”
“Any ship in particular?” He asked.
“The ship we’re on.”
“We’re not on a ship, we’re on an elevator!”
Then he led everyone on the elevator in singing, “By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea…”
It’s been a lot of fun. When I get a chance, I’ll post some photos of the trip.
July 11, 2006
I told my co-chair that it was time to get things going. We still had an official vote to cast, an exit survey to fill out, and a flower activity to do. When people turned their exit survey back in to us, we gave them a flower. Then asked them to exchange flowers with people who they wanted to express appreciation to. They could keep exchanging flowers and were to always only have one flower. (This worked really well by the way- it was the brainchild of my awesome co-chair.)
Oh yeah, give a person a flower and a compliment and they will start to soften. I had no expectations, and was surprised to hear people say that I bring a loving energy into the room, and am kind, friendly, (and praise worthy and of good report. (It’s like they saw through my gruff beer swilling exterior to the big teddy bear inside.) Then we announced that our unapposed candidate for co-chair was unanimously voted in and she gave a speech. My co-chair and I promptly sat down. “We’re done!” she whispered to me. I felt a little like we had perpetrated a scam on the incoming leaders. “We get to sit down now!”
Then the new co-chair gave my co-chair and I big bouquets of flowers, count on her to do something thoughtful like that. She also handed us cards that everyone signed! That surprised me. “We should thank our steering committee” I said starting to feel slightly generous. My co-chair thanked our committee, thanked everyone for coming, and invited everyone to return to socializing.
“Wait,” an older woman said, “I have something to say.” “Oh hear it comes.” I thought. This woman had complained by email before and was to me the most irksome type of complainer: the non participating complainer. I held the air in my chest. “I just want to say,” she said “as someone who isn’t involved in the nitty gritty of the group and just occasionally comes for the showy stuff, that you people make it really easy to come here. No matter how long I have been away, you always make me feel loved and welcomed. Thank you.” A space opened up. Some unknown tightness melted and my beer swilling, gruff doppleganger faded away. I took a deep breath.
A couple more people thanked us publicly and then people went back to talking. I was relaxed and talking to people with out the tension of defense.
The last person I gave a flower to while we were doing the flower activity was my co-chair. I looked in her eyes and we both started to cry. “You taught me about serving rather than taking.” I told her. “I’m so glad you asked me to be your co-chair. I wouldn’t have said yes to anyone but you. I’ve learned so much from you.” “I’ve learned so much from you!” she said. She told me that I was so kind and was really a good person in a deep way. I was surprised she could see my kindness. I’d been feeling so gruff. “You are so kind and yet you are so opinionated!” She said. I laughed, “I am so opinionated!” I think we both had open suprise in our eyes, amazed that maybe the other person admired us as much as we had been admiring the other.
I drove home from the party with deep breaths of air circulating through my lungs, feeling like a weight had been lifted off of me, feeling deeply relieved, lightly bewildered, and happy.
July 10, 2006
I was recently talking with another new Unitarian on how we “sell” our religion to others. My original sales pitch was: “You don’t have to believe in anything in particular to join our group.” Her sales pitch was: “We take the best of every religion, with out taking the bad stuff.”
Well I don’t think it takes a genius to see which sales pitch is better. Hers is both better and more accurate than mine. In fact, my sales pitch is so weak I’m shocked I would even say it aloud – that the best we have to offer is a lack of constraints, total personal freedom? Is this what we offer? Why join a group whose main offering is to leave you just the way you were before you joined?
…I think there is a core stance to Unitarianism, or if there isn’t one I think there is something I would like to place at its center, to give it a core stance in my mind…
I think it is a profound difference that we can believe what we want to believe, and think what we want to think, and still be in community with others. That is huge and that is why I go to a UU church. I don’t understand why I read so many UU bloggers who seem to have a longing to have some kind of belief besides good moral code in common.
Also, I don’t think that UU’s are just changed by the communities they join, they also change the community. That is what part of my sales pitch could be:
~*~Imagine a spiritual home where you can actually add your voice, energy and vibrancy to the mix rather than supressing it!!~*~
~*~Pretty radical, huh. ~*~
~*~It’s exciting and alive and you can be a part of it. ~*~
July 10, 2006
Yesterday, with the harried feeling of someone trudging through unwanted duties, I got ready for our service. I was using the strategy my very helpful women friends advised and was ignoring the man who had been harassing me. I was glad he was leaving me alone, but also struggled with feelings of not being inclusive. (!) (I shake my head at myself, sometimes I can take my desire to include people too far.)
After both services, hot, sticky and ready to be done, I dutifully arrived at our after-service, pass-the-torch-to-new-leadership party. Activity swirled around me. I found myself reflexively greeting a new comer while thinking, “You are doing it again. Let someone else make him feel welcome. .. But I don’t want him to feel sad… Wait until someone else greets him and walk away.”
I didn’t help get the food ready, I was the first one to fill my plate, and I took the best spot in the kitchen. I let other people greet the new people and carry on interesting conversation and when I was done eating, I took the best spot in the livingroom. There I sprawled with the breeze from outside blowing on me and made minimal efforts at conversation. I had officially turned into Red from the 70′s show! (Picture a dad coming home, always taking the best spot and drinking a beer while watching TV.) (Wow, now that I think about it, I went from traditional mom to traditional dad.) One of our needier members came over and asked if the seat next to me was taken. (Damn kids.)I said it was. She sat on my lap. I said she was light enough but too warm. She said she could take a hint. “Good” I thought as she walked over to the other side of the room.
July 9, 2006
This year as co-chair of our “young adult” group was challenging. Members of our steering committee who committed to serve flaked out leaving us with a larger than expected work load. We made several dramatic decisions (with due process) that people who founded the group were upset about. I felt a lot of pressure about keeping up the technical side of our group, some of which I wrote about earlier. My co-chair and I were the people everyone complained to and who people in our group and in the larger church wanted things from.
Even though I was dealing with adults, I could relate to the harassed look mothers of young children sometimes have. Like a young mother, sometimes the only thing to do to get relief from being pulled at and demanded from is to institute some discipline. We set rules and boundaries, and I went from feeling harassed and unappreciated to feeling gruff and curmudgeonly.
It wasn’t all bad, I enjoyed leading the meetings, especially as the new format for our steering committee meetings cut them down from a couple meandering hours to one very productive hour a month. Our goal was to empower people in our group, and soon people realized that if they complained they better also be ready to step up and do something about it. This brought out leadership in some unexpected people, and they started to take ownership of the group, which is what we wanted. I loved working with my co-chair who has natural leadership ability and who I continually learned so much from.
Still, with my new job, the downsides of being a leader, and the suprisingly upsetting behavior of a guy at our church who I have been feeling harassed by, I was ready not only to be done with leadership in our group, but maybe with our group altogether.
July 9, 2006
Just a little post to say I’m still alive. Work is busy and is going well. I don’t want to get fired for my blog so I don’t post from work and I don’t feel like looking at a computer when I get home- thus the scant posts.
In less than a week I am going to Alaska! I’ll post some pictures when I get back.
I continue to be facinated with social software, especially social software which has applications for education. I recently found Elgg which I think may have the potential to rock my world. Check it out ya’ll.
Tomorrow we officially hand off the baton of co-chair to a new group at church. Yeha! I feel kind of bad as I do like the woman who is taking our place. Ah well. Good learning opportunity, or er um character building experience and all that.
Did I mention that I am in an art group. Yeha! I love doing art.
And there you go, my 5 minute update.