Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jackie - The Bucket List

The past couple weeks I've been busy with the bucket list. The thing is, it's not my bucket list. It's Sarah's. And I'm completely ok with that. She moves in a couple weeksand we're doing all the stuff she's going to miss about Denver.

In the midst of this, especially her going away party last weekend it finally hit me that she's leaving. And I'm not gonna lie, I'm pretty bummed about it. I'm happy for her, but bummed for me. I'll skip writing anything sappy right now, I'm sure I'll have plenty of time for that after she drops me off at the airport in Portland and I have to fly home alone.

All that to say, I've been slacking on my goals. I felt bad at first, then thought, I only have a couple weeks to spend with Sarah before she moves and I should take advantage of that as much as possible.

My goal for the last week and the next two are to help Sarah cross as many things off her bucket list as possible... but I'll let her tell you about what's on the list.

In the meantime, I'm going to do a little recap of where I'm at on each of my goals so that when it comes time to tackle them again, I'll have some point of reference.

PS... if you have goals for the summer, I'd love to hear how they're coming or what might be holding you back from completing them!

Goal 1:: Teach: I need to get together with Leslie to discuss how to be a good teacher and contact my student so we can get started.
Goal 2:: Write songs: I'm having a hard time getting started so I'd really like to attempt this with someone who is already a songwriter. Anyone interested??
Goal 3:: Reconnect: In June, I spent a whole weekend reconnecting with Joe and Leah when they were here. I saw them in May, but we were a little focused on the flood and building the Sham-Dam that we didn't get to chat much. In July, I'm going to connect with one of my cousins,
Goal 4:: Engage globally: I haven't approached this goal yet and I'm still not positive what this is going to look like.
Goal 5:: Take 2 of 4 trips: I went to Tennessee in May. I'm going to Portland in both July and August. I've still got it on my calendar to go to New York in November. I'm still working on Dallas. Sarah was going to drive with me, but it might be a bit of a long drive for her. I gotta keep working on that one.
Goal 6:: Redefine spirituality: I got together with Alyssa to make my list of questions. Now I need to contact the people I'm hoping will get together with me and see if they're willing to be involved.
Goal 7:: Define me: See post from 31 March 10.
Goal 8:: Be frugal: Turns out, I might be moving in with my folks for a couple months to save some money.
Goal 9:: Clean my box: The box is still overflowing.
Goal 10:: Post photos: I should work on this.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sarah and the Art of Minimizing

Make that HAD a lot of clothes.

As my departure date draws nearer, my list of things to do over the next four weeks has been growing; it seems that things are being added faster than they are being checked off. But over the past few days I have managed to officially completed one of my goals: Minimize.  On Monday I got rid of nearly all of my clothes; I traded them in at consignment stores for some higher end items that will last longer and keep me dry during the rainy months (which I'm told are January through December, with a slight break in August).

I also cleaned out every hiding spot I've created in my apartment. There's the nook between the bookcase and the window where important papers go to die; the drawers in my desk that have become a graveyard for old (and ugly) stationary and over-sized thumb tacks I apparently thought would be a wise purchase at the time; under my bed where the huge tote bags, satchels, and luggage found their permanent resting place; and, most frighteningly, "The Linoleum Room." The Linoleum room is a spare room that came with our apartment. It has linoleum floor s(hence the name), a sink, awkward and unusable shelves, and windows that lead to the fire escape, that, unfortunately don't open for various reasons. When we moved in, we slid all our odds and ends that didn't have an immediate home into The Linoleum Room with wonderful intentions to sort through them later. Then we made the mistake of hanging up a curtain in the doorway so you wouldn't be able to see the mess. A year and half later, the odds and ends are still there, with many more additions that have settled in quite nicely.
Saturday I forced my way through box on top of box filled with unused decorations, birthday cards, board games, cleaning products, and miscellaneous mementos. My mantra: "Do I really want to pack this?" And if there was still some hesitancy: "Will this really fit in my Honda Accord?" The answer was usually a resounding NO and the Good Will on Broadway is now fully stocked with all the junk I've collected since I moved out of my parent's house 5 years ago.

I looked around The Linoleum Room, with linoleum floors now actually visible and my brain felt so much lighter. I turned to my closets, opened the doors and examined the few articles that survived the purge. My shoulders didn't feel quite as heavy as they did a few days earlier. Even though I'll be going to Portland with nothing but some picture frames and my books, and will most likely be that girl that wears the same outfits every week, I feel so liberated. All that "stuff" was only holding me back. It's hard to wrap your mind around a major life change of any sort when you're anchored by so much stuff.  And it really was just "stuff." None of it meant anything important, none of it was hand made or given to me out of love or importance. It was plastic and cheap and making me feel toxic without my even knowing it.

I tried to look at the experience as an artist's date.  I was able to sort through several boxes of great memories and flip through some old journals and laugh at what a changed woman I am.  But being able to purge so much was also a great exercise in reconnecting with my right-brained self.  As a creative individual, de-cluttering the mind is so important; you have to push away the clutter to let the inspiration trickle in. Creating a clutter-free environment is a huge part of that. I'm a big believer that the space you make around yourself is a reflection of what's going on in your mind. I've proven that fact in my own life time and time again: when I'm distracted or depressed or stressed, the environment around me starts to mirror that with piles and messes and acclimation's.

Handing bag after bag to the employees at Good Will and looking back at my empty car and thinking about that empty Linoleum Room and empty closets, I could feel my mind open up a bit. I didn't feel so weighted down and the task of packing up a Honda Accord didn't feel so daunting. Getting to check that off my list was HUGE and now I'm wondering what to do for the next four weeks before I leave. (Just kidding, I still have plenty to do).

But now I have to ask for advice, and I think it might resonate more with our female readers.  As I was cleaning out those over-sized bags under my bed I came across... The Boyfriend Box.  You know, the box you keep little trinkets you collected from various relationships over the years.  All of the things I've kept only represent truly good memories, and as I flipped through the items I couldn't help but smile in remember the spirit in which they were given.  But, as usual, those good memories come with the crappy realization that are, in fact, only memories.  So, my question for you fabulous readers is: Should I take the box with me to Portland or do I throw the whole thing away?  Have you dealt with a similar situation and if so, how?  Did you burn the box?  Because I'm thinking that might be kind of fun.  Just kidding.  Sort of.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jackie: This Isn't Easy

What's not easy? This whole blog and sticking to my goals. I knew I'd get to this point and honestly, I didn't think I'd make it this long before I started to struggle with why I picked the goals I did and why I even thought this whole thing was a good idea. And all of that just means, it's a really good thing I'm involved with the blog or I'd never have any accountability to get anything done.

I have worked on one goal since we last talked and it means more traveling. Which is really more fun than cleaning out that box full of papers that just keeps staring at me with longing eyes.

I FINALLY convinced my sister to commit to take a trip up to Portland and visit our lifelong and dear friend, Kati. [Actually, she goes by Katrina these days -- which has been hard to get used to.] In August, Julie, my 19 month old nephew and I will be taking a trip to Portland! The traveling part is bound to be hilarious -- the two of us trying not to check more than one bag, traipsing through airports with carry-ons, the baby, stroller, diaper bags and, of course, our "personal items." [Yea for the airport and their all-too specific rules.]

So why this trip? Lots of reasons: we haven't seen Kati in years, my sister has been working harder than I have doing an accelerated paramedic program and needs a vacation, Lucas is 
cute and we need to show him off, I love Portland and Sarah might miss me by then.
Now the question is: what animal will we get?

... I also have a confession this week. I completely forgot about my goal of teaching lessons and that student who probably wonder's if I fell of the planet since I didn't call her in May like I said. [Props to Jeff for reminding me.] Argh, this is harder than I thought. I'll get that going this week and let you know how it goes.

Here's to another week to get back on the dust shaking wagon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sarah's Thoughts on Goodbyes, Portland, and Dead Sharks

Today I had to say my first goodbye; the first goodbye of many.  My dear friend Sarah Petrak is leaving for the summer to work at an artist’s retreat located in an old, restored barn.  Her courage is such an inspiration and I believe only truly beautiful things lay in front of her.  We are both stepping out into the world, embarking on new journeys.  Unfortunately, our journeys will be taking us to entirely different regions of the world: Her to Ireland, me to Portland.
Yes, Portland.  Quite soon actually. 
I had the whole saga typed out and then I decided that, in this case, where I’ve been isn’t quite as important as where I’m going.  But here’s a summary: I was going to go to Portland State University about a year and half ago.  But I got a job with a family I loved, moved in with a really good friend, and started to think a certain someone (of the male persuasion) was possibly worth sticking around for.  He wasn’t, but everyone else was and I’m glad I didn’t go then.  There was a lot I needed to do in Denver both inward and outwardly.  Had I moved then, I’m pretty confident it would’ve been an emotional disaster.  
A few months ago though, the universe sort of shook my world up a bit.  And with guidance and support from some very wise women in my life I decided to be a little rash and spontaneous.  A few weeks ago, my Aunt Jennifer said, “I really feel something is waiting for you in Portland.”  It was with that sentence that something lurched inside of me and I decided now is my time:  Around July 15th, I will be driving out to Portland to make a new home for myself in a new city with new adventures awaiting me.
It’s all an exhausting combination of excitement, fear, and uncertainty.  I’m sad to leave family and friends behind, especially those adversely affected by my picking up and leaving so suddenly.  But the support and concern I’ve gotten from everyone so far has been overwhelming- almost to the point of making me want to stay and never leave such encouraging creatures.  But, like Jennifer said, there’s something out there waiting for me.  My job now, is to find it.   
As far as the blog goes, this all effects my goals quite a bit.  The point of a goal is to remain constant and keep you structured, especially when life throws you for a loop.  But I’m also reminded of Woody Allen’s wonderful metaphor of a dead shark.  To survive, sharks must keep swimming.  Without constant movement, they simply die.  Woody Allen was talking about relationships in his case, but I think the same can be said of life in general.  My life needs to keep moving and progressing or else I’ll wither into a state of mediocrity.  And with a fluid life, there comes a need for a certain amount of fluidity in goals.  So I’ve reworked some of the plans I had for the year to  better compliment the adventure I’m embarking upon.
Here’s the new (and improved) list:
    1. Weight Loss: 10 pounds by the time I get to Portland.
    2. Incorporate Artist Dates once a week- What a great way to explore a new city.
    3. Finish one of my two writing projects- I have no excuses now: no school, no job, and I can wander around Powell’s for inspiration. 
    4. Get something published- I’m looking into literary magazines and such in Portland.  Also, there seems to be loads of freelance opportunities out there.
    5. Get out of the city once a week, out of the state once a month, out of the country once a year- Mini road trips to Seattle and the northern Oregon?  Yes please.  
    6. Read through all of Austen- Half way through Pride and Prejudice and I have no plans to stop now.  
    7. Complete my Denver Bucket list before I leave:  Bucket list coming soon!
    8. Minimize- I’m selling and donating anything and everything I don’t have an immediate need for.  If it doesn’t fit in my car, it pretty much has to go.
    9. Find somewhere to volunteer at in Portland- hopefully comparable to Art from Ashes.
    10. Get in contact with Heartline and others to solidify a plan for Haiti for next summer- Actually going to Haiti in 2010 just doesn’t make sense, for reasons outside of my control.  There is still lots of work to be done for this year though.
    11. Embrace my crafty side.  Learn to sew, crochet, paste, and spread glitter around on construction paper- This one gets to stick around!  Just last week I made something simple but oh so fun. I’ll share later.

          Friday, June 11, 2010

          Mr. Keith Moon Is Your Rockstar, Genevieve

          The companionship of a dog is unexplainable. I always had the same dog, Henry, growing up. He passed away my senior year of high school. It was almost perfect timing, as odd as that my sound, like the signal to a new phase of life. The house seemed a bit empty when I came home for Christmas that year, but eventually I got used to it. Ever since then I've been running around from a class to a concert to work to moving to a new apartment every year of my college career to where it really wasn't feasible to have a pet.

          My parents haven't welcomed any new animals into my childhood home since I graduated high school either. They've liked their freedom from responsibility of any pets and children and have been enjoying it for the past 5 years. That's why it came as a surprise last summer when my mom offered to buy me a pug. It went a little bit like this...
          My parents and I were out to dinner. My dad kept going on about how he wanted a dog and my mom kept getting annoyed, saying that if they were going to move and travel as much as they were planning to, it just wasn't smart.Then she turned to me and asked,
          "Don't you want a dog, Gen?"
          "Well yea," I answered, "But I can't afford one right now."
          "Is that all that's holding you back?"
          "Yea, probably the main reason."
          "What if your father and I paid the initial expense and got you a dog?"

          Of course my answer was yes! My love for pugs has dated all the way back to being 12 and planning out my life with Prince William. It involved a cottage in the English countryside and a pug named, Sir Pugsley.

          After our conversation, I started looking into buying a pug and decided to adopt from the Colorado Pug Rescue. I submitted my application, but wasn't holding my breath. The website said it could take up to 6 months to find the right fit for every applicant. But low and behold, the following week I got a call. The adoption agency foster mom brought him over for a visit and I FELL IN LOVE.

          Mr. Keith Moon has been a warm addition to my life for the past year now. He has cheered me up in some emotionally trying times and always makes me laugh when he starts to snore at the foot of my bed. I hope that I have brought him the same comfort and a sense of home too.

          Happy One Year Anniversary Mr. Keith Moon!

          Wednesday, June 9, 2010

          Jackie - So... God... ?

          I decided to delve into my spirituality this year -- do some thinking, figure some stuff out.

          I don't think I'd go as far as to say that I'm having a spiritual crisis, but i definitely have some things to think and talk and probably pray through. Spirituality comes easily for me, but Christianity is a whole other story. I am a spiritual person and I can't deny there's a God; there has to be something bigger and greater out there than I can't see. And there are those moments when I'm truly and soul-fully open that I can feel God touch my heart and it's the most calm, peaceful, welcoming, loving feeling I've ever experienced. The question of "is there a God?" isn't on the table.

          My questions come from a different direction. One of the big ones being: Why do I want to be a Christian when I have to be associated with Christians? Maybe you resonate, maybe you're offended or maybe you've never had to deal with similar experiences. Either way, it's a question I grapple with on a regular basis. It's not that there aren't good Christians or that Christians don't do good things, but from my experience I'm more often embarrassed by the things Christians do and say. And that's become a serious problem for me.

          I also sit in a unique position because not only do I work for a Christian organization, but as a music student, I'm around a lot of people who have negative opinions of Christians. At work I am often very frustrated by the things that Christians identify themselves with, the language the use, the arguments they find important and the ways they chose to treat others around them. Then at school my heart sinks as I hear from my classmates how they view the church and its followers, and the reasons that have caused them to come to these beliefs.

          I try do to as Christ said -- love people. I accept without agenda... or at least the best my human-self can do, but it can be trying and exhausting and overwhelming. There are so many to love, so many who need to know they're loved by someone, so many who just want to know they're significant. And so many who are overlooked -- especially about all these music and artist types I find myself surrounded by who might not fit into the normal picture of what a good Christian looks like... is there really an ideal of what a Christian should look like? And I do care about the spirituality of those around me and want them to have inner peace, a sense of significance and hope, but it's so hard to offer Christianity to them when I have found Christianity to be so closed-minded.

          Which leads me to an even bigger picture question -- What does it mean to be a Christian?

          Actually, I have a handful of questions. Alyssa and I got together recently to work through my list of questions and refine them so that I have some direction, but I felt like they all kept coming back to the same thing. What does it mean to be a Christian? I'm very curious to figure out what it will mean for me on the other end of this whole process.

          I know there are lots of really smart people who have written lots of really intelligent and compelling books that address some of my questions. And usually a good book solves problems for me, but the questions I have now go beyond reading something in a book. I know a lot about Christianity and even have "answers" to my questions. But at this point, my questions go beyond books and rote answers. I want to hear from the hearts and minds of people I know and respect, and hopefully understand more deeply why they believe Christianity is valuable and worth being a part of.

          I know this quest will be difficult and all too personal which is why I'm taking a journalistic approach in hopes of putting aside my own opinions and biases. As I get together with each of these amazing people to share my list of questions, I will take notes and report back to you guys on what I'm discovering. And hopefully along the way, I'll come up with some of my own answers. We'll see.

          I know everyone has questions with spirituality and I'd love to hear about questions you might have or spiritual journey's you have been on... feel free to comment or email at

          Thanks for traveling this road along side me.