Responsibility

… Is drifting away! With my beloved food club that is. 11 months straight of volunteering more than 20 hours a month, and it’s been relieved from me.

I feel relieved.

I feel sad.

I feel a little fearful.

I feel relaxed.

Thank you Jacquelyn. Thank you Ana. Thank you Olivia. Thank you Kristina. Thank you Kimberly. Thank you Jenna.

Daily Post: Talk or Text?

Talking on the phone and using a computer.
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Suggested topic: Do you prefer to talk, text message, or a different communication method?

Today’s topic suggestion brings us full-frontal into modernity. How do we prefer to communicate: via talk or text? Being back in the “work force” I find this an interesting question, as I can track changes through school and work.

1995 – I was in high school and my good friend got email and Internet for the first time. Also that year, my boyfriend at the time signed up for Hotmail and the aversions against Microsoft continued and capitalized with their acquisition of hotmail, one of the first free email programs.

1996 – I got my first email through Michigan State University: pilot email. It was a text-based email emulator. We could either log into Windows at the computer login, or log into our email.

2000 – I went back to school and every third person had a mobile phone.

2001 – I realize I don’t want to have a home without Internet: must have email access.

2002 – I learned how to do Mail Merges and became an expert at various versions of Microsoft Office, Outlook, Lotus Notes

2004 – I went back to school again and every third person had a laptop, in class.

2005 – I finally got my first mobile phone.

2007 – Probably half of the students in any given class used a laptop for notes, in class, for whatever.

2009 – I added a text messaging plan to my mobile.

So, now I just about max my alotted 250 texts per months. I use fewer than the allowed 450 minutes (although that’s just out of network and prime hours). But, what do I prefer?

It depends on the context.

Are we arranging a quick meet up? Text.

Do I need to explain something, and ITAP (my Verizon auto-fill-text) doesn’t do it? Phone call.

Do I need to explain something but don’t really want a text or a phone call? Email.

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Daily Post: Best 2010 Accomplishment

Levi & Peter admiring the view.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my husband and my son. Just look at them! Adorable! And, we're participating in a trash-pick-up to boot! Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Topic suggestion: What’s the single most important thing you accomplished in 2010?

After this topic, I will be caught up with the challenge, and lest I get behind, I will be posting once a day under this “Daily Post” / #postaday2011 tag.

I haven’t often reflected specifically on the previous year to analyze my accomplishments, and from them, pick the most important. So, let’s take a look at the highlights?

  • Continued to raise a beautiful, kind, energetic boy named Levi.
  • Continued to work on this crazy, myriad thing called marriage – enjoyable companionship and frustrating differences of opinion abound!
  • Finally the food club started and have played an integral role in its set up, even being named president.
  • Continued to volunteer at the Church as reader, {new} Eucharistic minister, and religious ed (Sunday school) teacher.
  • Got a Paying Job.

My gut says, “Say the job, it’s what they want to hear.” You know, because that’s how we value things, generally, in our society – by the pocketbook. So, if we are earning money to value our worth and our daily tasks, then that must be more important than the other things.

Food - 2
Levi helping me make bread. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

But, my gut also says, “Value Levi first!” I value Levi first, but is he my greatest accomplishment in 2010? He’s his own person now. And, seriously, what thought went into his creation on my part and my husband’s? Honestly, not a lot. Kids sometimes happen, and they are beautiful, wonderful gifts and surprises, but if a lot of planning DID NOT go into their creation – how can they be called a great accomplishment by the parents? Whatever Levi goes onto accomplish, and he’s had some super milestones this year on his own, will be his, and his alone. As his parent, it is my job to coach him along, help him figure out what values, morals, etc are important and explain to him why I think x, y, and z are the most important. But, is his being my greatest accomplishment? I have to give a resounding no.

Likewise, my husband and I are learning how to be married. Every year we evolve a little bit more. Every year we appreciate each other a little more, learn more about respect, about communication, about family, about love. We didn’t know many of these things when we stated our vows. No one really tells you what’s up in conversation. Can they? Could you hear? So, as a work in progress, is my marriage my greatest accomplishment? Again, while I’m glad we’ve come a long way, I can’t say that it is.

Volunteering at the church is something I do as a servant leader. I feel I must, and as I learn more about certain jobs, I want to do certain things less. Once I made the choice to reconnect with my Catholic Faith, I felt it was very important to act on it in the capacity I had. This meant, at first, reading at mass. As an over achiever, I wanted to do more, and somewhere along the way I mentioned an interest in helping with religious ed. At the church, over the last 5 years, I have helped decorate, fill in in the office when I could, read monthly or every two months at mass, now serve as a Eucharistic minister, and help with Sunday school. This is my second year helping with Sunday school, and I’m not actually enjoying it. Sure, the kids are great, but I have the hardest time explaining faith with the materials and lesson plan given to these young kids. The teenagers are a lot more fun with their questions and critical thinking. This year, none of the parents said evenings would work for them, so the time is still in the middle of the day. This means, we go to church, go home, then I go back. And now, it’s two Sundays a month, and with all the other things I’m involved with – it feels more like a committed burden than any sort of service accomplishment. So, although it could be argued it’s this noble thing I’m doing, I don’t feel like it’s a significant accomplishment.

That leaves the food club. This is where I feel we’ve actually accomplished something and where my greatest 2010 accomplishment lies.

December Frontier
Our largest club order in my living room, later to be transferred by our SUV to be sorted, and then returned to my home for pick up. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

In 2008, the idea came to start a wholesale group, buying primarily food together to cut retail overhead associated costs and make better choices with a group of close friends or neighbors. Well, things didn’t pan out like I thought they would. 2009 was a pretty dry year with buying, and it turned out that my friends weren’t the right people for a buying club. I have a limited network, so I tried to reach out where it was reasonable, and one place I reached was a local Food Coop, People’s Coop, where part of their mission is to assist new buying clubs and coops. Many coops start as buying clubs, so a network link was formed.

Still nothing really happened in 2009, we met, we heard the spiel, we made two orders. I got tired of sending out monthly emails reminding the few folks who found us through Google and Craig’s List that we’re still here, if you have an idea of a buy, let’s get it going! Then, this People’s connection did two things, only one of which I was aware at first. First, she asked me if I’d do an interview and answer five questions via email. I did this but didn’t know it got published until 6 months later. The second thing she did was suggest I become Facebook friends with another Portland Food person. This gal, at the time boasted the largest area buying club and in many ways was over capacity, so she put me in touch with another gal in my neighborhood who was already ordering.

Suddenly, I found myself within the realm of the right people. In many ways, it felt like the thing I was waiting for for so long was (like my whole life, but not really) finally coming to fruition. I was skeptical that this would work and treading lightly was very important. I hope I have accomplished that.

Those first few months were interesting. First, it was Kristina, Kimberly, and I talking, then just me and Kristina. And since no one else seemed to really want to do the talking, it ended up being me. I didn’t mind, this is the thing I wanted, so I wanted this role – this leadership role. We met monthly. Dropped Robert’s Rules as our mode of meetings and went for Consensus. We talked, implemented, and changed. I learned more about my meeting facilitation skills, and where other folks don’t have skills and how that is still similar to me.

Food - 3
Heirloom tomatoes from our 2009 garden. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I met this amazing group of women who could rule the world. And, mostly, I’ve tried really hard to make sure people’s assumptions don’t get the best of them and encourage judicious, fair thinking across the board to so we can create a sustainable community first within and then without and throughout the rest of the community. Those basic goals are common with the other members in our steering committee and the club.

The goals for the next year would be to increase club participation. We have about a 10% steering committee/buy organizer participation rate. If we could raise that to 20% (20 regular volunteering members instead of 10) we’d do a lot to increase voices and alleviate the work loads.

So, my greatest accomplishment of 2010 was realizing my facilitation skills and seizing the opportunity to practice them with a fantastic group of women who under the surface are itching to change the world.

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Daily Post: Uncredited Populations

Levi, Christmas, and Cars
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Topic: Name someone who deserves more credit than they get. And for bonus points, how to change things so they get more

I started reading the Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden the other day. It was suggested through Oregon’s Mother P.A.C., a political action committee designed to support, encourage, and broaden women and mothers in politics.

The premise of the book is discussing how, and I think later how to change, mothers are so undercredited. It’s recognized the world over from the average Joe to political leaders that the most important job held by anyone is being a Mother. Raising the next citizenry, shaping our future, raising the next generation – yet when taxes, census, and public assistance are concerned mothers are more often than not considered dependents.

So, this blog is simply to all the mothers out there that every day do one of the following:

  • Get up, get yourself in order
  • Make breakfast for yourself
  • Get your husband/partner/spouse off to work with a packed lunch and clean clothes
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Wake the small ones, feed the small ones, appease the small ones
  • Plan your day: “work”, errands, shopping, cleaning, baking?
  • Get you dressed, get the small person dressed
  • Avert crises over the wrong pants/socks/shoes/shirt chosen or put on in the wrong order
  • Clean up messes, prevent messes, get teeth brushed and hair presentable
  • Make it out the door (on time you get lots of bonus points)
  • Wade through traffic, offer appropriate snacks, calm tears of unknown origin (boredom?)
  • Wish them well off to daycare/preschool/babysitter
  • Commence errands with our without children
  • Pick up one thing, drop another off, pick up another at another location, visit another place and make an exchange, all before noon to ensure lunches are had
  • Fix another meal (snacks have been had around mid morning)
  • Clean kitchen, again
  • Put small fry down for nap, repeating self, justifying the need to the small person when reason isn’t always what works
  • Begin bread
  • Start laundry
  • Think about reading a book
  • Sweep floors, tidy rearranged items putting them where they belong
  • Hope this was done before Husband returns from work where a new set of distractions commence
  • Consider dinner, prep frozen things, time oven with bread baking and dinner making
  • Enjoy family dinner
  • Clean up Kitchen
  • Prep lunches for next day
  • Appease emotions of all members of household
  • Think again about reading that book
  • Recognize that you too are tired
  • Get the big and little people down to bed
  • Forget about putting things away
  • Read the book

Two years ago, I was looking for paid work to help pay off my school loans. This was on the heals of the 2008 Wall Street Crash and Housing Market Crash. This was more or less my routine, without the daycare/preschool/babysitter line. I enjoyed much of it, but much of it left me unfulfilled. In many ways.

Part of motherhood is coming to terms with choices and being able put them into place with new realized boundaries. This is something I struggle with everyday. This book, the Price of Motherhood is helping me to put a voice to some of these feelings I have had. So, this post is simply to mothers. If you think someone or something is undervaluing you – STOP. Think, believe.

We need to change this paradigm under which we’ve operated for far too long. Society recognizes our position as the most important, so it is time for us to collectively stand up and say, YES, you are right, our job is important, and we need your help valuing it as important as you say it is.

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Daily Post: Wishful Travels

Steps of St Paul's
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Given Topic: List three countries you’d like to visit, and why you want to go.

This reminds me of Mrs. Gress’s creative writing class. 11th grade. English department. High school.

Every day we walked in, and we had one topic, and we had to write for five minutes. I loved it. It challenged me to think about things I never thought of before, and gave me the idea for my first tattoo – although I changed the placement.

I have visited England and Italy. Fabulous. So, where do I want to go now?

  1. Canada
  2. Greece
  3. Slovenia
  4. Back to Italy
  5. Back to England
  6. Australia
  7. China
  8. The Continent of Africa

I will begin with places 4-8 since those are the lesser mentioned countries in my ranking. I really enjoyed my Sustainable Study Abroad, and I want to bring my family to Spannocchia where we spent our time. It was enchanting, beautiful, and simply Italy. I needed a lot less Italian to get by than I thought I would, so it gave me courage. I really think my introverted, hermitish husband would enjoy the English and Italian countrysides, now I just have to get him to believe that! And, of course, Levi was 4 months in my tummy when I travelled, so I want him to visit the places he’s already been.

I worked in a design-build form six years ago that did a lot of work in Australia. I am enchanted. Likewise, Asian cultures, especially the very large China fascinates me so – the Great Wall to Red China, I want a glimpse.These big beautiful places that have such interesting stories of beauty, oppression, ingenuity, stagnation, humanity. All defined differently than the US of A where I have lived my entire life. I want to see, through a tourists eyes the beauty, and if I’m lucky, some sanitized behind-the-scenes.

As such, I am intrigued by the heat of Africa, the diversity, the coffee, the war, AIDS, South Africa – and I want a glimpse.

But, where do I really want to go and why? I have lived in four states in this U.SA. 1) Michigan, where I was born and raised. 2) Kentucky during my first summer selling books door-to-door, and 3) Pennsylvania for the second. Finally, I am here in 4) Oregon. Save Kentucky, each state I have lived in has been a stones throw from Canada – yet the only place I visited was an overnight stay in Windsor, across the Detroit River so we 19-year-olds could drink, legally, in good company with our 21-year-old friends.

I want Levi to like and enjoy travel. But, to do so, we parents need to approach it without fear, or with a desire to have adventure. Canada, while we live here in Oregon, is still a simple 5 hour drive away – it seems silly to not make this our first adventure in international travel for the living Levi.

Greece – I find exoctic and enchanting. I studied Art History, missing the minor by one class, to further educate and empower my love of Art. I enjoy Classicism with its symmetry and beauty in form. And, then through Art History you learn of the illusions to create that perfect Greek Symmetry. Some argue that Western Civilization begins in Greece – and that’s where I want to visit. I want to see the ancient ruins, the beautiful white cities and azure sea. Always, too, I want my son to experience cultural differences to learn that we all evolved from some place and decided to chart our own paths – but again – we have come from somewhere. Plato, Aristotle to Machiavelli had their discussions beginning with Socrates. Our society is built on the shoulders of these giants – where are we today, in comparison? How can we make the world a better place given what they knew then and what we know now? What environment were they living in that helped shape their thoughts?

To Origins I list Slovenia, but I really mean all of the Baltic Peninsula. I was told I am 50% Yugoslavian. I held to that belief until Yugoslavia fell shortly after its leader, Tito, died. What am I now if 50% of my heritage is split apart? (The other 50% is comprised of Polish (one quarter of the whole), and a mix of French, Scottish, Native American). Where did my paternal grandparents come from? I did not know them as they died before I was born or when I was very young. I have fragmented figments of a memory of my paternal grandmother. My father has his own story that is mostly absent from my childhood – so part of my feels that visiting this chunk of a continent will be a clue as to who I am and where I came from.

Thank you post-a-day-2011.

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I’m Posting every day in 2011!

Levi helping with No Bake Cookies
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog once a day / once a week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.

Signed,

Michelle
One Mom Trying to Balance

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