Friday, November 26, 2010

Packing with the Right Side of the Brain

A while back, I made a realization about myself (which I've shared here before) that I was a good Initiator, but not a good Maintainer -- a good short-term project person, but a less-good long-term project person. I remember sharing this with my hubby as a positive thing, as in "Look what I've found I'm good at; a lot of other people aren't good at this."

And at the time, I had to almost laugh at him, because although he seemed to be genuinely trying to be positive and supportive of me, he couldn't express the idea in anything but negative terms. "You're not very good at . . . You don't like to . . . It's harder for you to . . . You're not really made to . . . " What I couldn't do well was so much in the forefront of his mind (because it bugged him) that he couldn't set it aside and genuinely see value in the things I could do well.

We're in Kansas City for Thanksgiving, and this morning I was looking through the stuff my eldest packed for herself. I have learned not to monitor her packing anymore because we end up just driving each other crazy -- she usually manages to get all the major necessities into her suitcase (thanks to her general anxieties about traveling), so I try not to mess with her process. But she had a little bag in the hotel bathroom this morning that caught my eye.

In it, she has hair supplies (barrettes, clips, pony-tail holders, headbands, etc.) to create probably 20 different hairdos. For a three-day trip. 90% of which are items I haven't seen her wear in years. This includes some clip-on purple braids from Halloween, which I can't imagine when she thought she was going to wear on this trip. She also brought her razor -- which would be appropriate except that I know this is "no-razor month" among her crowd at East High (wonder who thought up that one) and she is NOT going to be shaving her legs until the middle of next week. She also has three CDs spilling out of her stuffed-to-the-gills suitcase -- which she cannot listen to in the hotel room or at her Aunt Vicki's, and were packed away where she couldn't get to them in the van for the ride up, so they have been of no use to her so far. (I'm also remembering our week in Disney when we got there and I found she had packed nine pairs of shoes -- for an eight-day trip.)

My point is that my daughter is a right-brained packer. She seems to look around her room, see something (such as, the purple Halloween clip-on braids), think "I like that! Maybe I'll want that on the trip!", and just pack it. She doesn't seem to consider when or where or how she is likely to use that item on that particular trip and whether it is worth taking up the space it does in her luggage. She might use it -- so in it goes. Whereas her left-brained mother thinks, "What will I need?" and limits herself to that.

I choose today to appreciate the way my daughter's mind works. This is Possibility Thinking. This is the stuff that visionaries are made of. Now, at some point, when she's left our home, she will have to find a left-brained friend or husband or employee who can take her mother's place in helping her make her visions happen. But praise God for vision! Where would the world be without it? Lord, keep me from stifling what you made her to do with my bellyaching about efficiency.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I haven't written in a while. I've been busy with the homeschool play (which went well), a visit from the in-laws (which also went well), and now getting ready to go to Kansas City for Thanksgiving.

But I have some time here . . quiet, alone time . . . and I'm considering all the things I have to be thankful for. Too many to list. I've had in my FB status every day this month something I'm thankful for -- everything from the mundane (I'm thankful for GoLean Crunch cereal) to the profound (I'm thankful for Art, with a big A).

A moment ago, I took a peek at my "Hello, 2010" post from the New Year. Yeah, I know -- I probably should have waited until the next New Year to do that. But I wanted to see how many of my desires for the coming year have been realized already.

"I want Keith to still enjoy his job." I believe he does. "I want my eldest to have leaped her personal hurdles." And she has. After her mission trip with the 8th graders at church this summer, she's like a new person.

"I want the girls to be happy and thriving in whatever educational environment they happen to be in by that time." So far, so good. "And I want them each to have one or two close friends." Check. And I'm so happy about that.

"I want to be heading up a successful, smooth-running drama ministry at Sunnybrook Church that touches people's hearts, uses people's gifts effectively, and doesn't keep me in a constant state of nervous tension." I was just considering the other day how far we've come as a drama team this year. We have a big Christmas series coming up, and I'm so excited for how it looks like it's going to turn out.

Some desires are still in waiting -- among them, my biggie of having my sleep problems solved. But hopefully, we're getting on the right track there.

Really, I'm so blessed. It's a miserable, cold, drizzly day here in Siouxland . . . we have a long drive ahead this afternoon and evening . . . I'm yawning from my usual state of sleep-deprivation . . . and yet I feel so very, very blessed right now.

May you all have as blessed a Thanksgiving as I will.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Art (with a Big A)

Wow. This is apparently my 301st post. I'm still amazed that anyone would be interested in anything I have to say. Thanks for reading, everyone. And thank you for making comments -- either here or on FB. Always encouraging.

And speaking of comments, a friend commented on my "Complexity in Unity" post a while back and recommended a book to me: Walking on Water, by Madeleine L'Engle. A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books when I was a kid (the Young 'Un just read it and liked it, too), so I was curious to read more by L'Engle.

Love this book. Love it, love it, love it!! I'm reading a library copy and I'm going to have to buy my own so I can mark it up and absorb it more thoroughly. She's talking about Art and Christianity. About how Art (with a big A, in my mind) is by nature incarnational, a spiritual act. How it feeds our deep hungers. How it helps the meaningful finds its place in our psyche.

Very right-brained stuff. It occurs to me lately how left-brained I have been for most of my life. As much as I've always been into music and drama and dance, those endeavors, if I'm honest, were always about me -- me looking good in front of an audience. It really is only in the last several years that the right side of my brain has woken up and I've really come to appreciate Art (with a big A). I've read of studies that show that almost all of us in the preschool years are right-brained . . creative . . divergent thinkers . . artistic. It only takes a couple years of formal schooling to beat the right side of our brain into meek submission. How very, very sad.

(This also may explain how my very right-brained, artistic eldest child -- the Big 'Un -- relates so well to preschoolers. Hmm.)

I'm so glad that I've woken up. My life is so much richer now, full of metaphor and pattern and narrative and rhythm and symbol. Even God spoke to us in parables and poetry. How can we --who are made in His image, who are to strive to be Christ-like -- settle for half a brain?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Calling All Computer Entrepreneurs . .

My eldest suggested this morning that, instead of a book for every class, they should have a book for every grade. One book, with all the information for all their classes. I gently pointed out the obvious problems with this . . . first and foremost being that such a book would weigh as much as all of her current books COMBINED and would need to be carried all the time. She blew that off. Clearly in a gritching mood, not a reality-considering mood.

But it caused me to wonder . . .

How long do you think it will be until schools start issuing Kindles to their students with their textbooks downloaded on them? Seriously -- how cool would that be? I haven't used a Kindle, so maybe there's a downside to this I'm unaware of. But I'm thinking it would be a great thing for everyone. Students don't have to break their backs lugging heavy books. Schools will surely save money overall (assuming they make students responsible for paying to replace Kindles they lose or damage).

In fact, why hasn't some computer company come up with a device specifically designed for students? Start with a Kindle, where schools can download textbooks (including all the little extra articles and such that teachers copy for their students). Add a simple word processor, for students to take notes, write papers, etc. Include a calendar/datebook function where students can keep track of their assignments.

Internet access seems like an obvious necessity for such a device, but there are also problems with that. I have Facebook friends in high school that will be updating their status and chatting online with friends while they're supposed to be doing research in the library. There has to be a way to give kids access to research sources without access to entertainment meant for their off-hours. But a wireless connection with the school would allow the school to send students the "daily announcements" and such -- and would allow students to turn in assignments online rather than waste paper printing it up . . . oooo, the possibilities!

Yeah, I know some schools issue laptops to their kids, but regular laptops are expensive, and usually have all sorts of stuff on there that are above and beyond what a student needs. (Freshman Daughter was just saying this morning that one science class at EHS gave the kids laptops with cameras on them, which have been used in study hall for less than educational purposes.) Some people might think those extras are an advantage, but I tend to think they're a distraction. Surely somebody can come up with a simple, compact, inexpensive device that meets a student's needs and nothing more. It surprises me that some enterprising entrepreneur hasn't already seen the potential market for such an item.

I can only assume that some ridiculous educational bureaucracy is in place that prevents there even being a market for such an item. How dumb.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Life Updates

- Two weeks from today is the homeschool play. Twenty-four 2nd-5th graders doing a play I wrote and directed. This month, we rehearse twice a week, and yesterday's rehearsal went pretty awful. Maneuvering issues -- getting kids where they need to be when they need to be there. We have two stage managers, a green room manager, and another kid wrangler all assigned to that duty, and it's still a challenge.

- Three weeks from Sunday, we start the Christmas drama series. This one I didn't write, but I'm directing. We rehearse every Sunday until then. And a set has to be built. And furniture borrowed to fill the set. And props and costumes gathered. And a couple more rehearsals for each scene. And then each scene has to be filmed to show at our off-site campus.

- And before that is Thanksgiving. Hubby's family is all going to my sister-in-law's in Kansas City this year. First holiday in her new home. And I liked the idea of doing a Thanksgiving letter instead of a Christmas letter like I did last year, so I need to get on that, too.

- The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, I'm scheduled to do the 10-minute devotion at our homeschool mom's meeting. I was hesitant when they asked me to do it. What do I have to say to inspire everyone? Anything I can think of sounds too cheesy, too simplistic, or too smart-alecky. But I have to come up with something . . .

- And then, of course, Christmas is coming up. Gifts to buy. Goodies to bake. House to decorate. I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to have our Drama Team Christmas party at our house. It would be kind of nice to have somebody come enjoy our house decorated up for the holidays. On the other hand, I would have only a week after we get home from Thanksgiving in KC to decorate.

- And in the back of my mind are upcoming drama productions. The spring homeschool play for the older kids, which I have yet to write. The possible full-length production for the church drama team, which I'm now realizing is going to be a much more challenging endeavor than I originally thought . . if I still decide to do it. Not to mention more weekly sketches for the regular services, which will need to be written, cast, rehearsed . . . I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining about it all. I love doing the drama stuff! If it was all I had to do, that would be great. But fitting it in around the rest of life is tough.

So much to do in the next couple months. I hope these new pills kick in soon and I start sleeping better.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I got up and walked the dog, just like usual. He didn't care which party controls the House this morning. He didn't care who remained or became majority leaders. He didn't care about the White House response, or the change or lack of change in national direction.

He walked around sniffing the ground. He peed. He jaunted about a bit, teasing me with the idea that he might poop before he headed to the backdoor. He taunted me with a try-to-catch-me stance and quickly tired of the game when I caught him. He pranced up the stairs, paced the main floor a bit and will soon settle into his chair to observe the morning's goings-on.

What a life.

Some days, I'm envious of the houseplants, too.