Fifty words about my first Wild Goose Festival

I have heard about this for years now. I have read through every piece of info out there – including blogs of previous attendees. I have spent significant time with those who organize this whole crazy thing. I attended an official One Day Wild Goose – Intersections – in Jacksonville, FL earlier this year. Heck, I even helped put an “unofficial” Wild Goose event together (Hawkins Road Festival) at my home church this past February.

But none of that quite prepared me for this amazing experience last week in Hot Springs, NC. It’s hard to form complete thoughts and sentences (I’m still absorbing and processing), so I’ll just give you these fifty words…

authenticity
people
laughter
mud
funnel cakes
spiders
children
tapestries
thoughts
coffee
music
trees
friends
oatmeal
trinkets
rocks
sweat
stories
glitter
love
rain
Jesus
yoga
inclusion
veggie things
hammocks
books
river noise
freedom
hard cider
conversations
dancing
puddles
fireflies
beer and hymns
port-a-potties
smiles
walking
acceptance
picnic tables
cicadas
prayers
cool mornings
energy
barefoot
art
grace
challenge
dragonflies
community

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And it just so happens that tickets for next year are available if you’d like to join me. Then we’ll see what kinds of sentences you can form at the end. 🙂

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

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Stranger things…

The world is a strange place these days. It’s probably always been like this. It’s that now we are aware of it on a global scale. It used to be that only the people who lived on the corner were oddballs.  Now we know about oddballs worldwide thanks to the interwebs.

I’ve got a couple of strangers to tell ya about…

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At the end of it all…

I could be obsessed with time… seasons, schedules and how to pack it all in. I mean, I think about time a lot. Not like the lady in Chinatown who has nine different Rolexes up her sleeve. She’s just trying to make a buck off of unsuspecting tourists.

My one handed watch was gifted to me a couple of Christmases ago. It’s from Switzerland – not the lady in Chinatown – and it was not “a special low price for you today”.

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Time to be happy…

It’s my birthday / week / month!

bday cake

It’s always a good time to reflect. I’ve been thinking about where I’ve been each decade and I’ve noticed some things. This year is different in the best possible way.

Stroll down memory lane for a moment with me and you’ll see what I mean.

Age 9 which was (gasp!) 40 years ago. It was not a memorable birthday because kids didn’t get birthday palooza back then. We maybe got a cake and some new sneakers. If we were really lucky we had a friend sleep overnight. We definitely didn’t rent bounce houses and give goodie bags to our guests. There were no caterers or clowns or custom printed invitations for crying out loud.

(Honestly, the best thing I remember about my birthday is that strawberries were in season and we usually had strawberry shortcake instead of birthday cake. And that was just fine with me.)

Age 19. This one I remember for sure. My mom was away at her 20th High School Reunion. My Dad and I were just supposed to sit around quietly and celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday. Once I confirmed that I would be buying the beer, he agreed to the insanity that took over the machine shed and our 3 acre lawn. It’s a bit hazy now, but I remember at least 3 kegs, a live band and 200 of our closest friends. It still holds high status among the “parties to remember”.

Age 29. I was pregnant with my second child. I was in an extremely dysfunctional marriage but convinced that another baby would be the answer. Though she is a joy, she was not the answer. Before she was out of diapers, we were separated for good.

Age 39. I was 5 days away from getting married to husband #2. I was tired of raising the girls on my own and sleeping alone. I was convinced that a new husband would be the answer. He was not. After years of counseling, our last and final separation was 3 years ago.

So at age 19, I couldn’t wait to party it up. I wasn’t 21 yet, and surely being older would bring me happiness.
At age 29, I couldn’t wait for child #2 – who would surely save my failing marriage and that would bring me happiness.
At age 39, I was trying it again – because surely being married to the “right” guy would make my life better and bring me happiness.

But this year – age 49 – is SO very different! I am content and not pushing for the next thing. Finally.

I am content with where my life is. I love what I am doing, where I am doing it, and with whom I am doing it. I am not holding out for the next thing, the next person, the next circumstance. RIGHT NOW I truly have happiness, and it isn’t based on something or someone around the corner.

And that, my friends, is worth celebrating!

bday more

So what did I actually do on my birthday? I painted. At a really cool restaurant where they have amazingly talented artists doing art while people eat dinner. Oh, and the people BUY the art. If it’s not sold by the time you finish it, the restaurant hangs it up and sells it for you. How amazing is this!? And they invited ME to come and paint with them.

So I did.

And they fed me and also gave me a glass of wine since it was my birthday. Also, there were 8 different people that came in to say hi and eat dinner because I was there. I felt  like a celebrity. But really, I am just a happy girl celebrating her birthday, doing what she loves to do.

It’s pretty cool when that happens, isn’t it?

I agree.

Plus I got to do some other fun things like kayaking and eating at fancy restaurants and have more planned with friends later this week. I am already happy, and those things will just add to it, not create it.

I am in charge of my own damned happiness, and I’m pretty happy about that.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

I won’t get that hour back…

Or that other one either.

I think dating is kind of like parenting. Once you figure out how to do it well, you’re probably done. Success = finishing = you don’t need to do it anymore. I think we have the equivalent of a second grader. Which if I lost you just now, it means we have a ways to go.

Screening from one stage to the next is so effing hard. How long do you text before you talk? How long do you talk before you meet? There are dangers in letting it all be virtual for too long. But boy howdy, I gotta stop meeting in real life with some of these guys. My last two in person encounters were lackluster. I realize this is a learning and growing opportunity, but alright already.

Letter K – we met for a quick happy hour and enjoyed a beverage and a small pizza. I had movie plans with my girlfriend for later (Wonder Woman – yes it’s amazing – yes you need to see it). Having an after-plan gave us a definite ending point. This is a good practice for a couple of reasons. If it’s a terrible date, you see the light at the end of the tunnel (it’s okay to bail early if it is REALLY terrible). But also, if it’s good, it’s okay to give yourself some space for reflection. And, it leaves them wanting more, right? Well, let’s just say K fell into the former, not the latter. In fact, I enjoyed my conversation with the bartender and the manager more than with K. Which I took as a clear sign, but he did not.

He texted me before I even left the parking lot to ask for a “real” date. I had to tell him I just didn’t see it happening. He didn’t hold my attention and a nice guy like him deserves a girl who is into him. Honesty and integrity…those are the goals. I can be snarky here with you great people, but I don’t need to crush anyone. Besides, we know how fragile the male species can be, right?

One hour I’ll never get back, but hey, it’s a gamble. Onward we go…

After work one day this week, I met letter L. I knew before I left that it was not likely going to be a good connection. Why I didn’t cancel is the thing I need to figure out. It was just coffee, and I didn’t go too far out of my way to meet him. I did give up something that I would have preferred doing though. Like, anything else. Maybe even cleaning the bathroom. Some people enjoy this chore, but it’s not among my favorites.

I know you’re wondering why. Of course I’ll tell you! For starters, he had soft hands and a soft handshake. I can’t handle either one in a man. And, have you ever had conversation with someone who likes to finish your sentences? But they don’t know you very well so they finish them poorly? That was L. Plus, he was ex military and reminded me too much of a drill sergeant guy who used to be my boss. Which is not a complement. Nice enough guy, but not for me. He also texted me soon after to ask for a second date. Again, I let him down gently and kindly.

So two hours down the tubes…

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What in the name of all that is holy am I even doing wasting time? I’ve been super creative and super social with friends –  and I’m working on a huge article for the little magazine to which I contribute. And I’m painting like it’s my new job (but it’s totally not, I’m still working the full time one that I have). I only have about 9 weeks of “no school” to live it up! And even though it’s just an hour here and there, I cannot waste it drinking coffee or wine with someone that I’m not excited to see.

I’m almost halfway through the alphabet. I won’t bother giving anyone a letter unless I meet them. There are a few possibilities in the “chat” stage, so potentially I could have another date or two before the month is over. But only if there’s real potential. A free beverage is not free if it’s costing me something more – which is my most valuable, most highly regarded, most precious time.

In your wait for the next letters of the Dating Hell Alphabet, feel free to check out the art I’ve been doing. In fact I added a page here just to show them off to you. More about that soon…

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

This one is too….???

Ahh…fairy tales. Cinderella, Snow White and Ariel and all the other princesses are not  the best role models when it comes to romance. But Goldilocks? She’s not a princess at all. She’s a simple girl looking for simple comforts. She isn’t searching for a prince or a castle. She is strolling in the woods and seeking the basics. This is a girl after my own heart.

Okay, she happens to be guilty of breaking and entering along with destruction of property, but let’s not focus on this. She is discovering what works for her. I am now claiming Goldilocks as my hero and aspire to be more like her in my dating adventures.

goldilocks-3

What would Goldilocks do (WWGD)? How does this taste? How does this feel? Is this comfortable for me? After some sampling, she knew what was just right.

With my hiatus from school, I thought I would jump back in and begin a little summer sampling myself.

Letter “I” is the next on the list (I had to go back to look – it had been so long). After some solid text conversations, we met last week for a walk on the beach. It sounds totally cliche, but it happens to be a carefree way to connect. And hello, it’s a beautiful setting.

We chatted non stop, but it was relaxed and easy. There were several points of mutual harmony – including religion, politics and other points – no small feat there. We agreed it was a successful first date, and made plans to connect over the weekend.

Saturday “I” and I went kayaking and it was comfortable and fun. Our hope was that – barring anyone tipping anyone else overboard – that we would have a bite together after. We remained upright and dry, and thus continued with lunch. Kayaking is one of my “most wanted” activities ever, and the chosen cafe is among my personal favorites. The day was scripted to be incredible.

Overall, the time spent with “I” wasn’t too cold, it wasn’t too hot, but it wasn’t just right. It was more… lukewarm. Which is fine, but with the setting and the activity, I expected it to be more. It was perhaps a little too calm and flat. Maybe we would have been better off with some tipping? head_up_anim

I’m not sure I will see him again. The script is really secondary if the characters are hitting it off.  I don’t want to waste his time or mine if there’s not a spark – the elusive “just right”.

Chemistry has been present in my (crazy) previous relationships, so I cannot trust it to be the sole guide. But I can’t quite discount it either. How long does it take to discover? Can it be developed or is it just there? I don’t really know…

So onward to letter “J”. We made plans to have lunch on Sunday – coincidentally at the same restaurant. (I know, back to back dates. What can I say, it’s a holiday weekend and I had extra time. Plus, their beet salad.) We preemptively packed beach gear in anticipation of lunch going well. It did, so we headed west for an afternoon of sun and surf. “J-man” planned well with a cooler of beverages, complete with Tervis and ice. It was a chamber of commerce day and y’all know how I feel about my toes in the sand. Another perfect script waiting for the characters to connect.

Much like “I”, my time with “J” was filled with non stop conversation but with much intensity. He has a big personality and even bigger adventurous tales. I felt like a one woman audience as he held center stage to dazzle and entertain.

While I felt energized and enjoyed his stories, I was ready to head home after a while. It was more choppy than calm. I’m not sure he’s “just right” either. Maybe it was the undoubted excitement of meeting me? Like a new puppy when you first get home from work? A second date may reveal more. We’ll see if he calls.

cropped-10393-img_2953It was not this hard for my girl Goldie. She had three options, and it was clear which was the best. My options seem endless, and they are not as easy to read as a fairy tale.

I am grateful that I am not on a time frame. I have no agenda for how this ends. I am enjoying the adventure one date at a time. Nothing is at stake. Oh, and my tan is coming along nicely.

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

Everyone’s got one…

You know what I’m talking about. Opinions – and assholes.

Everybody’s got one. Lately it seems like everyone likes to show theirs off.

There was an article recently about a church in the UK that had a discussion about what kinds of activities to host in their building. And in this discussion, it was proposed that yoga should be banned from their facilities. Their reason? Yoga is a “non-Christian activity”.

People freaked out. It’s been all over the news. The discussion flowed right down into our office after someone heard it on the radio last week. Which, in case you missed it, I work for a church. It’s seldom good when a church is mentioned in the news, am I right?

What is wrong with “those church people”? What are they afraid of? Why are they so narrow minded? Yoga is good exercise. What difference does it make if they say Namaste or Amen when they finish? Who cares if the origins of yoga are found in Hinduism? Weren’t Christmas trees used to celebrate pagan gods and yet we find them in churches each December?

Those are good questions. But they are the wrong questions.

Churches – and the folks that run them – get to decide what kinds of events they want on their own property. This is totally and completely within their right to do so. We don’t get angry with Jewish Synagogues when they opt out of pulled pork dinners. And you may decide against hosting silly string wars for the high school football team in your house. (Or maybe you would be okay with it? I’m sure the team would be thrilled to know this).

But what if the Church and its people – the ones who claim to follow Jesus – considered these questions instead:

What can we do that draws people closer to God?
How can we build relationships with people who don’t come to church here?
How can we leverage our resources to help people in the community feel more connected?
What needs are in our community and how can we help meet those needs?

And then the ultimate question, what would Jesus do?

From what I know of him, Jesus is okay with people doing whatever they can to SHOW LOVE in real and practical ways. Like sharing resources and not judging. Loving your neighbor as yourself. Doing all you can to be in harmony and peace with those around you.
cool jesus
My guess, to which I am entitled, as you are to yours, is that Jesus is probably okay with a yoga class.

You know what he is not okay with? People getting hostile with each other. People judging each other. People wasting precious time and energy on things over which we have no control.

Some don’t want yoga, which is within their right, and then others condemn them for it. Pot, the kettle is calling for you!

How are we showing love when we criticize others? How are we extending grace when we are judging and condemning those who think differently than we think? Isn’t grace for all of us?

It’s likely that I will not change the stance of the folks in this little church in the UK. And that is okay. Where IS my influence today? Who around me needs grace? Perhaps I can dismiss maddening conversations as soon as they erupt. Perhaps I choose something positive and encouraging to share in my circles, rather than continuing to repeat negativity.

What could this achieve? A few less opinions (and assholes) and a lot more grace.

I’m so glad.

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

PS. If you are looking for an amazing online yoga instructor who doesn’t care what you believe, is positive, encouraging, wacky and fun, check out my girl Adriene. She leads me each and every morning in my home practice. Namaste and Amen!

 

 

School’s out for summer…

Please tell me that you sang the title just as I did when I typed it. Here’s a link – complete with bubbles – in case it’s been a while since you’ve seen Alice Cooper on stage.

I just realized how much I can relate to Punxsutawney Phil. Peeking up from the depths of the homework hole, peering around to see if there are assignments due – or classes to attend. Is it really safe to go out and play?

Why yes, yes it is.

I am used to being in school four nights in a row, and doing homework and studying the other nights. I haven’t had to do any of that in TWO WHOLE WEEKS. What??

What in the blazes have I been doing with all of my extra time (besides not writing blog posts, obviously)?

Friends. Beach. Home projects. Netflix. Painting. Books. Did I mention friends?

I have been making up for lost time in the social arena – as in – I’ve been having a good ol’ time since classes ended. Having fun is just as I remembered it, you know, it’s FUN!

I also reached a goal this week in the Toastmaster’s Club. I delivered my 10th speech and earned the Competent Communicator award. For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, let me ‘splain, Lucy.

Toastmaster’s is an international organization that helps people conquer their fear of public speaking. Members take turns giving prepared speeches and talking extemporaneously and then giving and receiving helpful feedback from one another. It’s actually pretty cool and there are some amazing people in my club. I’m growing and improving my ability to speak (and you thought I had that down solid).

Oh, and I hung this up in my office.

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Lido Beach, Sarasota, Florida. Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 24″

So every day I’m seeing the beach one way or another! This was my final project for my painting class, but I just can’t seem to put away my brushes. There’s another painting nearly finished on my easel and several more lined up behind it. It’s becoming almost as much fun as writing.

With summer, and this recovery of time and energy, I’m going to revisit the whole dating thing. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop if / when it gets interesting. I am honestly not sure where I left off with my alphabet dating drama, so I may just have to start over. We’ll see…

Summer, I’m so glad you’re here. Please stay awhile – I have lots of plans for us 🙂

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

Me and my big/small mouth…

Do you have any idea how flipping hard it is to control your tongue? You probably know. Heck, the book of Proverbs (in the Bible) talks about this. It’s called the wisdom book for a reason, y’all. James 3:3-12 is all over the topic of taming the tongue. I think it’s in there so often because it’s applicable to all of us.

Do you have any idea how flipping hard it is to paint your own face? Maybe you do. Especially if you took a painting class and someone gave you this crazy hard assignment. I cannot imagine why you would tackle this otherwise. Maybe you’re a great artist- because I was told that every great artist does a self portrait. Or you’re into self torture. Same thing.

Last weekend was also Easter, which is the equivalent to Super Bowl Sunday in the church world. Basically we have twice as many people as usual. On top of that, we begin our day 2-3 hours earlier than normal. My church has this incredible outdoor sunrise service that is, well, frankly, just too early to be dealing with people. We gear up and plan accordingly, and smile and greet everyone. It’s really one of my favorite holidays, despite reporting for duty at dark-thirty.

I spent HOURS on my self portrait. Probably 2-3 hours on the one pose that I abandoned. (I need some gesso, obviously). I chose to paint the photo with the tricky angles (read about it here) and it was due for the final critique last week. I stayed up very late the night before finishing it. I wasn’t totally happy with it, but it was done enough. Plus, beauty sleep.

At church, I oversee several areas and the people within those areas. My teams, and more importantly, the leaders of those teams, are incredible. Most of the time I just walk around and chat and make sure everything is going well. I don’t actually have to do much of anything except put out fires or make minor corrections. Easter Sunday seems to have more pressure than normal, and I was really feeling it.

My cool hippie art professor deemed my painting “most improved since the last class”. I took that as a high complement. He commented how tricky mine was because of its perspective and lack of shadows on my face. I had captured my eyes well – which is critical. I had mimicked the background style with the highlights in my hair. One could sense that my arms were correct (even though I think they looked hairy) and overall he said I did a good job.

And then I blew it only two hours in. I overstepped my bounds in a sensitive area with a new volunteer. She left in tears, vowing to not come back. I erred, and it was on the side of judgment, not the side of grace. This was upsetting to many in this serving area, and it hung heavy like a dark cloud. Traces of it rumbled on throughout the next week.

Though I said I was done with this painting, he suggested I make one more improvement. Then he said something I’ve never heard in my life. He said my mouth was too small (could he please sign a sworn statement to this?). One of my best features was captured in the photo, but I didn’t translate it very accurately onto the canvas. My smile wasn’t quite as full and bright as the one I am known to share.

After much prayer and conversation with other leaders, the young volunteer and I made peace over coffee last week. I was grateful that she was willing to meet. We were open and honest about our Easter morning exchange. She expressed her vulnerability and ensuing hurt. I expressed my deepest and most sincere apologies, which she accepted. She extended so much grace, though I am the one who should have granted it to her in the first place. She will be back, and all is well. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

I am grateful that humble pie doesn’t have too many calories. I would also agree it’s best if you can eat while it’s still warm.

It’s been an interesting and learning experience with these two swirls of thought in my head over the past week. My mouth is too big. My mouth, without a filter of grace, can be so damaging. My mouth is too small. My mouth, when I’m smiling, is one of my best features.

So for today, I will be smiling more and judging less. My self portrait isn’t finished, but then, neither am I.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

Selfie on canvas

In 2013, the word selfie was added to the Oxford Dictionary and was proclaimed “word of the year”. You would think by now that I would be good at taking one, but alas, you’re wrong.

It’s a generational thing to be sure. I know my millennial children have zero issues with taking and posting selfies all day long. Of course they are both wrinkle free and have that amazing metabolism I fondly recall having at that age. Those were the days…

That was never me. I am completely, totally, 100% NOT photogenic. I’m the reason the photographer has to take 72 group shots so that someone’s eyes aren’t closed. I don’t have a side or a smile or a pose. I scrambled to find pics to post on the dating profile.

The struggle is real.

So of course our next painting assignment is a self portrait.

I tried to negotiate my way out of it by offering to exchange the proposed self portrait for a three canvas series as my final project rather than a single piece. That’s a net gain of one entire painting. My professor declined with this inarguable comment. He challenged me with, “Every great artist does a self portrait.”

He knows me, and that I have enough ego to absorb this compliment and calling in one fell swoop. The good news is that I can use a photo – past or present. Oh good, we’ll leave off the neck wrinkles and crow’s feet and leave a young clean face to capture on the canvas.

One evening after a full week of work and school, I grabbed the box of photos and began my quest. Anything stored electronically was too recent. There were a billion pictures of my adorable children, you know, the photogenic ones? But a decent picture of yours truly in her younger days? Not so much.

Sure, there were a few, but I could not use a single one. Between the quality, the background, the lighting, the expression, and of course the closed eyes, they just weren’t quite right.

Rabbit trail: I actually shed a few tears as I reminisced over photos of my grandparents that have long been gone. And those memories of once-small children that no longer sit on my lap for bedtime stories.

Disclaimer: I may have been hormonal.

Warning: Looking at old pictures while hormonal is likely to cause uncontrollable cravings for Breyer’s Original Vanilla Bean topped with Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips and could additionally result in varying amounts of weight gain.

When my search came up empty, I surrendered to using a current selfie. After getting a friend to do some pics, and a ridiculous amount of time playing around with my camera phone, a few decent shots were captured.

The realization I had about myself, and how I feel about my image, was monumental.

In the majority of the old pictures, I did not love myself. I did not even like myself. No wonder none of those other pictures would work! I am glad I have grown and changed and embraced who I am. It’s a tough job, but it is necessary.

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Photo credit: Rita Michelle Baucom

Self love is a critical piece of life, and I finally have it! I am proceeding with this current self portrait, wrinkles and all. It’s about capturing the moment, the season of life in which I find myself.

 

Let the painting begin!

Thanks for reading, until next time…
Sherri