28 Superlatives to Celebrate 28 Years

Yesterday was my birthday.

My husband baked me a nice dessert.

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My son surprised me by being totally gung ho about kale chips.

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A fair number of people wished me well on facebook, and I also went out to dinner.

And… I created this list of 28 Superlative events of the last year.

  1. Best New Project: Writing on Connect Shore with my friends.
  2. Best Baby Milestone: Even more than walking and dancing – I’ve enjoyed E’s ability to put together words – we had our first “conversation” last week!
  3. Best TV show I started watching: Once upon a Time.
  4. Farthest Trip: Philadelphia, PA – for a friend’s wedding ūüôā
  5. Biggest Time Waste: Checkin’ Facebook, as usual.
  6. Best Life Hack(s): Google Docs
  7. Newest Food I tried: Tatsoi. (So weird!)
  8. Favorite new Go-To recipe: Turnip (yes Turnip!) Stew with Sweet Potatoes and CousCous.
  9. Newest Skill: Crochet-ing!
  10. Best Party: Ryan B.’s Awesome Christmas party (where I won a prize for ugliest sweater (dress.)
  11. Best Grad School Class: Management Theory. (Maybe I should have been a business major all those years ago?)
  12. Smartest Buy: (Tie) Little Seed by Elizabeth Mitchell, and a new-to-us car.
  13. Newest Hero: Activist Abby.  This facebook page totally makes me smile every time I see it pop up in the newsfeed.
  14. Biggest Fail: Trying to take 3 grad classes and work part time this spring.
  15. Newest Friend: My soon to be sister-in-law Wendy R!
  16. Best blogs I started reading:¬† For School: Management Ink: A blog about organizational research articles recently published. For Social Media Advice: Julia Campbell.¬† A great (and easy to read) resource for people trying to figure out the Social Media marketing scene (that’s me.)¬† For my own enjoyment:A lot of great new blogs this year… but – I love the collaboration at the Storyline Blog, curated by Donald Miller.
  17. Favorite blog post I wrote:¬†Over at Connect Shore – 8 Things I think are true (but they aren’t!)
  18. First Speeding Ticket: Sadly, no more squeaky clean record for me.
  19. Proudest Moment(s): Got a Graduate Assistantship at Salem State for the ’12-’13 year! Ran a 5 Mile Race in May!
  20. 2 Most Important Life Realization: Physical organization can change your mood (so can time structuring, but I knew that): And prioritizing means knowing your core values and beliefs.
  21. Newest North Shore Green Space: Marblehead Audubon Bird Sanctuary (beautiful!)
  22. Best (and only?) Concert: Brown Bird. Banjos and Upright Bass ::swoon:: (Thanks Ellamy!)
  23. Most Surprising Event: Being Interviewed by Vera at TerraBlu Teams about my thoughts on Sustainability.
  24. Most Listened to (Non-Kid) Song: So Sleepy – by Fiona Apple
  25. Saddest Thing:My sister and her husband moved to Fitchburg, MA.¬† No more going over for lunch, less babysitting options –¬† BOO!
  26. Best North Shore Event: Ice Cream on the Salem Commons Рblogged here at Connect Shore.
  27. Best Family Trip: DeCordova Sculpture Garden – a surprise trip completely planned by my husband.¬† Beautiful! Can’t wait to go again another time.
  28. Longest/Shortest Books I read: G.R.R. Martin’s Clash of Kings (926 Pages) / R.B. Munger’s My Heart, Christ’s Home. (32 “pages” It’s what most people would call a ‘pamphlet.’)
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Hey! Check this out! I was interviewed over at TerraBluTeams!

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Talking Trash with Beth*

I met Beth last week at Zumi’s, a lively café in Ipswich, MA., owned by sustainable practitioner, Umesh. Beth, who lives in Salem, was one of our first website subscriber’s a year ago, when we founded TerraBluTeams.org.

In her late twenties, a wife, mother and graduate student, Beth proclaims herself a sustainability ‚Äúbeginner‚ÄĚ because her upbringing was not very ‚Äúeco-conscious‚ÄĚ. Beth‚Äôs passion for a sustainable lifestyle was inspired by her first trip at age 21 after graduation from Gordon College to ‚Äúwwoof‚ÄĚ. This adventure allows volunteers a hands-on opportunity to live/work on an organic farm, either in the USA or abroad.

It was Beth’s first trip alone, outside the USA, to a strange land to meet new people and learn about sustainable living. When Beth arrived in New Zealand at her chosen organic farm, four hours outside Auckland, she was immediately put…

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A Moveable Feast – Dinner en Blue

Sometimes I get these crazy wonderful ideas that come to me like dreams – all the fragments of past reading and present experience mesh together in an almost haze of believability.

Reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast earlier in the year –¬† Seeing the photos from Art Throb‘s Diner en Blanc in Salem – Dreaming of one last summer hurrah and so the Progressive Picnic / Dinner en Blue was born.

Our lovely group of about 20 people trouped from appetizers at Long Hill in Beverly, to supper on the Great Lawn of the Coolidge Reservation in Manchester by the Sea, to dessert partaken at Singing Beach by starlight.

It was really everything I imagined it would be – and probably merits a re-do next summer as well.

As usual, I was far too busy enjoying myself to take many photographs.  But here are a few.

Life Autonomy and the Pursuit of Hospitality

Nothing comes easily, though some things come naturally.

I just made up that aphorism, or at least, I didn’t Google it first.¬† Along with my New Years Resolutions to drink more, hang up my clothes when I come home from work, and caretake, I have added to my resolves the at times bewildering task of pursuing hospitality.

It comes from a long tradition of realizing that life is lived better with intention, goal setting, and clearly articulated mission statements.  Though these things are forgotten at times, and I have to come back around to them after neglecting these healthy thoughts in favor of junk food single serving gratification, inevitably I do.

Pursuing hospitality can mean spending money, but also valuable time.¬† It can mean cleaning out the large tupperware container at my house containing diamond hard marshmallows and making a list of things to put into a “Let’s have a fire at my house” box.¬† It can mean reminding myself to get birthday gifts, write cards, and shop for others.¬† It is remembering to send a card, ask to participate in someone’s favorite activity, which may certainly not be mine.¬† It may mean all of these things being forefront at my mind, at times when I want nothing else but to do only what I want.¬† How difficult!¬† How hard.

But the payoff is big, and the first fire of the year at my house was a success, and the third journey to Dogtown was a success, and the first trip to Beverly’s Dick and June’s for a wonderful Banana Chocolate froyo was a success as well.¬† And all of these activities counted toward pursuing hospitality.

Plurality from my perspective

I went to hear theologian John Franke speak tonight at The Gathering in Salem, Ma.¬† The building was a bank for 200 years, inside is a door leading into an open vault.¬† The church tagline is “it’s still a safe place.”¬† I suppose that’s comforting when the talk I heard involves getting others to confess their shortcomings, engage in bold humility, and work with others on bringing about change in life and community.¬† Pretty heady stuff for a non-scholar like myself

One of those heady things was this idea of “plurality.”¬† I only understood the word in terms of adding an “s” after a noun to make it refer to “more than one.”¬† Turns out in church-speak it means “an alternative system of church government, wherein the local assembly’s decisions are made by a committee.”¬† Or, Franke seemed to be using it to say don’t reduce things to their lowest common denominator, rejoice in differences.

This relates seamlessly to the conversation my sister and I had this weekend .¬† About how we’ve both grown up enough to realize we aren’t becoming any more similar to one another.¬† We’ve both moved out of our parents home.¬† Been through college, and now are embarking into married life.¬† These are all our connections.¬† Meanwhile, she wants to be a mother and music teacher, I want to see more of the world and experience life.¬† Neither of us would be comfortable in the others shoes, and both of us are choosing paths that express our authentic selves.¬† And our paths are bound to get even farther apart.

In the future, when we drive together and discuss our lives we soon won’t be able to measure success in relation to each other anymore.¬†¬† Travelling and Teaching as careers are apples and oranges.¬† Our paths are perfectly legitimate, but we won’t be able to pull each other back into the same orbit we had as kids.

That’s where I see the concept of Bold Humility Franke brought up comes in.¬† Instead of believing that our life paths have put us squarely on the straight and narrow path and the other person must follow on our path or be doomed to failure, we can look at our vocations and see how they run parallel and rely on each other as communication tools. In order to understand some of my miscommunications I may rely on her experiences to shed a different perspective.¬† She will probably do the same for me.

Committee decisions in general can be difficult, but they certainly can incorporate many more types of people, and allow for expansion of many more ideas.  This plurality calls for a lot of humility and perspective taking.  Two things I hope to become better at, the more I converse with my sister, and the more I learn from scholars and laypeople.

ps.  This is The Blog for the Salem Gathering.  They have some pretty cool events in the area.