Day 169: Giving Jars

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Today’s first was inspired by my facebook friend, Marva. In several of her posts she told the story of her neighbor and her exchanging a mason jar filled with various goodies. One would give the other a gift in the jar, such as soup, and the other would soon return the jar, filled with something new. Marva didn’t know she was inspiring me….she was just being her delightful self and as a result, goodness went out into the world and sparked creativity in me.

I adapted the idea. Today I created two giving jars, using pint sized mason jars. I filled each one with blackberries and blueberries and tied a burlap ribbon around the top of the jar. They looked cute and they were filled with a healthy snack. As the recipients of the giving jars use up the gift, they can then fill the jar with whatever they want, when they want, and pass the jar on to someone else. This is an act of paying it forward.

The first person I dropped a jar off to was my younger daughter, Adriel. This hard working child is currently taking two summer classes and then has one more semester of nursing school. She has persevered and continued down this path without wavering. She has worked while going to college and then nursing school, so this has been a long, slow process for her. I know she’s dealing with stress, with school and work and life. I also knew that today she was home studying for an online exam this evening. I wanted her to know I was thinking of her and quietly cheering on her. She knows I love her, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to show that love in a very concrete way.

The next person to receive a giving jar was my friend, Cate. She invited me over for dinner tonight, a lovely, healthy meal prepared with my diet in mind. How incredibly thoughtful! Cate and I enjoyed chatting and laughing before, during and after dinner. She is a new friend, but it feels like we’ve known each other for a long time. We have very similar views of the world and what fun it was to toss ideas and stories back and forth. I know Cate will surprise someone else with the giving jar, and enjoy doing it.  I look forward to our continuing friendship as we journey together. I found out as I was leaving that tomorrow is Cate’s birthday! I love how things work out.

This was such a fun little project, that I think I will create more giving jars to give away.  Steve Maraboli says, “Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned.”  That captures the essence of giving, doing so without a thought of receiving in return and yet knowing love and goodness will flow back to me in some fashion. It’s not up to me to think about the hows or whens. I am to give freely out of who I am. I am open to give, open to receive, open to life.

Day 108: Dinner with a New Friend

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One of the most amazing things about this year of firsts has been meeting new people. It is so easy to get too comfortable with hanging out with the same group of people or worse, not getting out at all socially. I have done both. Some evenings, after busy days working with clients, delightful as they can be, I just want alone time. Nothing wrong with that except I can get into isolation mode and even begin to avoid people. And while I enjoy the great friends that I have, it is always good to make new connections.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of meeting my new friend, Catherine, for dinner at Ichiban Sushi Restaurant. We met a couple of months ago, via our mutual friend, Garen. We hit it off right away, finding it easy to chat. Recently we met again to take a watercolor class at Local Color Art Gallery and had a fun afternoon dabbling in paint. It was during that creative afternoon that we made plans to meet for dinner and a leisurely chat.

The first thing I discovered about my new friend this evening is that she would prefer to be called Cate! I loved that she shared that with me. I think names are so important, and it is equally as important to call people by the name that they prefer. So Cate she is, and henceforth will be! We both decided to try something new for dinner. So not only did I get to have dinner with Cate, as a first, but we also moved away from what each of us always orders in a sushi restaurant and tried something different! I had the High Roller and Cate had the House Roll. Both were excellent!

Cate moved to Joplin after the May 22, 2011 tornado. She is the co-creator of Greensburg Green Town, a charitable nonprofit organization working in Greensburg, Kansas to rebuild the town following the devastating tornado in May of 2007. The town has since made a remarkable comeback, reinventing itself as a model for sustainable building and green living, now recognized around the world. GreenTown works to make green building and living easily understood, appealing and accessible to all. Bringing her incredible knowledge and compassion for community and green living to Joplin, Cate now operates Green Town Joplin as a non-profit. Its vision is to help Joplin recover as sustainably as possible and serve as a model to other communities. This is one remarkable, brilliant woman, and I am so glad to have met her!

Cate and I had a pleasant, long dinner, chatting, sharing our stories, laughing and getting to know each other better. We have much in common, including similar views on life and the world we inhabit, and we see some collaborative projects in our future. She has been so encouraging to me while I am on this adventure of moving Beyond. And she offered to teach me how to make paper! That will be a wonderful and fun first. I am grateful to have Cate as a traveling companion on this journey called Life and I look forward to a long and happy friendship!

Day 85: Watercolor Class

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This week seems to be all about expressing creativity! It’s amazing how artistic opportunities have lined up within a few days of each other. Today’s first was a watercolor class at Local Color Art Gallery & Studio, located in downtown Joplin in the Gryphon Building.

My friend Catherine joined me for an artsy afternoon. We met instructor Paula Giltner and fellow artists Barbara, Van and Roger. Everyone was working at different levels of ability, and that was perfect! Neither Catherine nor I had ever had a formal watercolor lesson. She has dabbled in watercolor in the past and I haven’t painted since I was in high school art class. I can tell you, that’s been a while! My art teacher, Mr. Craven, would be proud that I was making the attempt again.

Paula, whose art work is available for purchase in the gallery, was great to show us what materials and tools she uses. And then we began. She demonstrated technique and we watched attentively as she created a simple landscape with mountains and trees. As Catherine and I taped watercolor paper to the table, a few facts from high school class came back to me, such as the need to brush water on the paper first. Paula had some great tips for mixing paint and using a metal burner cover, turned upside down, as a palette to keep water and paints handy.

We had a great afternoon. Catherine and I laughed and talked as we painted. We had already decided that today was about having fun, not creating a masterpiece.  We played with hues and which brushes to use and had a wonderful experience. Paula checked on us often and offered suggestions. My paper was a little too wet and should have dried longer before I added the second mountain range, but for time’s sake, I proceeded. When the paper is very damp, it creates a soft, blurred edge, rather than a defined edge. I jokingly said a mist was settling on the tops of my mountain range. We added trees in the foreground and declared our work good!

I really appreciate Local Color Art Gallery & Studio for making these classes available. I intend to explore all the options there, enjoy expanding my talents and have fun at the same time. It’s wonderful to meet new friends and deepen friendships while sharing brushes and paints. Shared joy is multiplied. There was much joy during this class.

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Catherine creating

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Instructor Paula Giltner