and #trueconfessions

So, my self-imposed task for April was is to take a photo and summarize each day in six words. Or less. So far this month I’ve been mostly winning. Earlier in the month, I had a day (twice) where it was super late by the time I called it a day, so I posted the pic and words first thing the morning after the night before.

Friday last, I was whupped. It was a long, productive, albeit frenetic week. I figured I’d post Sat morning. Except that I slept in. Well, not really, not exactly, because Hairy Beasts. They simply don’t care what day of the week it is, when it comes to their morning routine. 5:00am. They get up, and go out. Then sleep till 6:30 (which is when I would get home from the pool, if it were a swimming day). Then they go out for their run. So, technically, there is no sleeping in,  but they are willing to go back to bed after they run. Does that count as “sleeping in,” if I’m back in bed by 7am?

Anyway, Sat was busy. Daylight’s burning and #chores wait for no one. Same deal Sat night. Tired girl; I’ll post in the morning. Sunday, same as. And now it’s Monday night.

#trueconfessions: I’m a little bothered that I didn’t post daily. It feels a little…weird…to summarize a day after the fact. Disingenuous, somehow. But it occurred to me out in the field tonight, spot-spraying weeds in the lower field, there really aren’t any rules here. No one else knows the map laid out in my head for all of this. Or if, in fact, there is a plan. So. Four days in one post. :)



Open hatches are meant for #babybeasts to jump up into. Right? Aren’t dogs supposed to ride in cars?

I got to see two of my peeps who make my heart happy. do we all have cute cheeks, or what? When it’s a good thing to be cheeky…

And this happened.

April 24

Cheeky #babybeast. Cheeky friends. Double promise.


Saturday was a good day. A productive day.


First load of gravel for the summer. Unloaded the truck Sunday.

And the sky was in proper, fetching form.

April 25

Manual labor. And happy little clouds.


Sunday, after church, was schlepping day. All the over-wintered geraniums are now in their summer spots out in the lower fields. A broken-beyond-repair-by-me chair is no longer taking up floor space in the family room. (yay!) There was more stuff, but we don’t need to discuss my sock drawer.

It was a gorgeous afternoon, for about 20 minutes in the late morning. before the mist misted in. You can’t tell from the picture, but that black dot near the middle is a bald eagle. I was out at the back fence line and couldn’t get to my camera. My phone will only zoom so far. There were actually two eagles out, but I couldn’t get both in the same frame. In any case, there are at least two eagles the neighborhood knows of that seems to have moved in. I’m glad. They’re such majestic birds. And they’re welcome to as many pigeons as they want.

April 26

Schlep all the things. Watch birds.


Annual Board retreat today. Lots of talking. Good, productive conversations. Short sentences, because it’s way past my bedtime. I use fewer words when I’m tired (can’t you tell by this post?!?) Spot-spraying previously mentioned.


I’m a big fan of the ladybug, even if it’s decided to camp out on the weed I’m spraying.


This is how #babybeast “helps.”  She’d rather have been swimming.

April 27

Caught  up on posting. Goodnight, moon.

2015 Spray Paint Project

You know, they look at you funny when you admit one of your happy places is the spray paint aisle. I didn’t realize this until I said it out loud to a friend and got promptly and soundly admonished.

But it’s true. I’m a big fan of the spray paint. All the impact of a can of paint, minus a great deal of the mess and nearly all of the commitment. If you paint something and decide you don’t like it, you’re out $4 at the most.

It’s a tough choice, Krylon or Rustoleum. Depends on what’s being painted. At what angle. Or in some cases, what color you want. Bi-Mart and K-Mart have a slightly different selection than does Walmart. In case you were wondering.



April 20

2015 Spray Paint Project. Woo hoo!

Hearts or chickens?

I love this time of year when blooming things start blooming. 

I’ve always thought the flowers of the Bleeding Heart reflected the plants’ name. 

That is, until my friend Tyson suggested they “kinda look like little plucked chickens hanging upside down ready to be cooked.”

Now I’m not so sure…

“I’m not bored!”

“Life is an exhilarating ride for those brave enough to climb on.”

An incredibly appropriate sentiment. Seven years ago today, I said a nervous “yes” to an offer to join the team at United Way of Benton & Lincoln Counties. I say nervous, because while it was a great opportunity, I wasn’t *quite* sure if I was ready to take on such a role. It was a step up for me, you see, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for that kind of professional growth spurt.

But that was then, and this is now. I wouldn’t have missed this journey for the world!Photo Dec 06, 9 58 52 AM

I learn something new every day.

Nothing about my job is mundane or routine. I love that!

I get to hang out with the cool kids in town–some of the most brilliant, kindest, generous, FUN people–and I feel privileged to know them.

I hear voices in my head–nuggets of wisdom from so many that have mentored me over the years.  “How does this further our mission?”      “Is that fixed or variable?”   “To what end?”    “What problem are we trying to solve?”   “Push the work out to the most appropriate level.”

I’m surrounded by people who take the work seriously, but not themselves. And that matters to me. A LOT.

Because of United Way, I’ve met people who have become some of my closest, dearest friends. We’ve gone gator gazing in the Okefenokee and snagged Arnold Palmer’s autograph. Graffiti-ed on the tables at Block 15 more times than I care to count. Gallivanted across Europe, sampling pastries, collecting street art, and narrowly avoiding ending up in Zimbabwe. Held book club over tea, hats, and fabulous Southern accents. Collected dinosaurs and gone off the map in Venezuela. Discussed going past the mailbox over peppermint hot chocolate. (Food and geography seem to be a pattern here…)

And then there is the work itself. Important, consequential, satisfying and fulfilling. Meeting need today and working to keep problems from happening in the first place. Increasing the capacity of people to care for one another.

It’s been an amazing seven years. I can’t wait to see what the next bring!

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles: Gallivanting

Jen, Sandy, Robin at the entrance to the Grand Bazaar.

Jen, Sandy, Robin at the entrance to the Grand Bazaar.

Previously, I mentioned a “grown up” vacation, my first in a while. The trip itself was two weeks (16 days if we’re being technical). Being a fan of naming things, I dubbed it Gallivanting Europe: Planes, Trains, & Automobiles.

Sadly, there were no polkas on this trip, although I still think we should count all the lederhosen. More about that later.

But first, the trip: Istanbul, Budapest, Bucharest, Vienna, Prague. By train. I sqwee’d before, and I’ll sqwee again. Sandy promised me sketch border crossings (delivered), castles (Transylvania!), pastries (I can’t even), trip treasures…all good great things.

I had fabulous intentions of posting from each city, like I did about our arrival in Istanbul, here. But after that first night, well, writing wasn’t super high on my priority list.

But now to the point: the people I gallivanted with. (Isn’t that a great word? Gallivant. Grown ups don’t gallivant enough. I’m determined to go gallivanting more often.)

Some people are easy to travel with. Others…aren’t. I cop to a little early trepidation–would we all get along? would they regret letting me tag along? But my nervousness was unfounded. Sandy, Aubrie, and Robin were fantastically easy to travel with. Utterly. After about the first 36 hours, I think we’d figured it all out, and definitely by day 4 we’d developed our collective rhythm for the trip.


Aubrie, Sandy, Jen on the Eminönü ferry.

I’ve always felt this way, but after this trip I’m more convinced than ever: the people you travel with, and the relationships you nurture as a result, are as important, if not more so, than the itinerary. Oh! I had so much fun with these people!!

Sandy, aside from being fabulous in general, is a teacher. She works with student entrepreneurs, pushing them beyond their self-imposed limitations to accomplish amazingly incredible things. In life, she embraces every experience as a potential learning lab and is perpetually on the lookout for the lesson, for the teaching moment.

Aubrie and Robin run Actuality Media, giving film students practical experience in working with nonprofit organizations–change makers, they call them–creating documentaries to tell their stories. It was fascinating to experience them absorb our adventure(s) and provide a running commentary translated through their respective perspectives. And equally fascinating to myself start seeing through their view finders. The best equivalent analogy I can draw is in learning a new language…at first, you actively translate in your head what you read or hear, what you want to say. Over time you become proficient and eventually begin actually thinking in that language.

I’m certain I don’t have adequate words to express my gratitude to these three amazing people. The entire adventure was pure joy.