#3 & #4: Quilting Related Goals

This is a great view, isn’t it? Colors. Patterns. Creativity. A brand new sewing machine. That little green light that tells me it’s time to sew. A project in progress.

If you could pan out a little, you would probably see a bowl of homemade Chex-Mix or Buffalo Chicken Dip. And, a mug of  hot chocolate with little gingerbread men marshmallows having a pool party. And, my mom agonizing over her next stitch. (Love you, mommy!)

Panning out a little more would show you a community of creators. At least 50 other women working on 50 other  projects.

I imagine this is what heaven looks like.

I took this at a quilting retreat my mom and I attend a few times a year at one of my favorite places in the world, which I will call “Camp (with a capital C)”. (More on that place some other time.)

As a part of my 30-Before commitment, I want to spend more time in front my sewing machine. Specifically, I want to complete two quilting projects that I have been meaning to work on for several years.

#3: Finally Donate a Quilt to LWR

Lutheran World Relief provides quilts to refugees and others in extreme need. The quilts are used as shade during the hot days, and as warmth in the cold nights. You can find more information about this project (and other ways you can get involved with LWR) here.

As a Lutheran Christian, I hear a lot of talk about my “Offering” being my “time, talents, and treasure.” I can’t think of a better way to use all three to share warmth with someone who needs it on the other side of the world.

#4: Make a Quilt from High School and College T-Shirts

I love free T-Shirts. It’s one of the only reasons I ever participated in anything in college, and it’s THE ONLY reason I ever sign up for a 5K run. There is only one problem with t-shirts, though. Now that I’m a big kid, and I have to wear big kid clothes, these shirts just accumulate in my dresser until I can’t close the drawer, anymore.

T-Shirt Quilts, on the other hand, can be displayed proudly in my living room. They are easy to make. They’re warm and soft. They can be kept forever without getting holes in the armpits! It’s a perfect reuse of something that I’m far too sentimental to throw away.

So, bring on the Buffalo Chicken Dip and turn on the green light. It’s time to sew!

Jane

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#2: Volunteer Somewhere Long-term

Yesterday, I volunteered with a local organization dedicated to helping the homeless of the city in that I live. Not sure whether or not I should name the city or the organization, I’ll opt not to for right now. Sorry, folks!

I was excited to go and see an area of town that I rarely see. Of course the homeless are visible here: unlike in Rwanda, where the police shuttle the homeless or unemployed out of the city, the homeless here can be seen anywhere from benches, metro stops, and church block steps.

I immediately fell in love with the organization where I volunteered, mainly because it has a refreshingly different take on charity. It takes donations, and it provides furniture, clothing, kitchen supplies, and basic goods free-of-charge to those who make it onto their waiting lists. It’s not forcing people to meet a certain standard before they can get services. It simply provides transportation to-and-from the organization, and it provides important, staple goods to its clients. And it follows-up! It makes sure that its clients are still doing well after they leave.

The thing that set them apart for me was the importance they set on preserving human dignity – while I was there, my only job was to fold things: to make sure that the area where clients could pick out clothes and bedding was clean; to make it look nice, rather than like a thrift store; and to throw away items that were filthy, or give away stained items to thrift stores (where they can be properly cleaned, I should note). This organization emphasized giving with dignity. Clients could receive important items, and proudly leave, ready to move on to their next step in life.

Right now, I can’t say that I’ve accomplished anything – I can’t cross this item off my list yet (and probably won’t anytime soon), but I hope that this holiday season we continue to remember the dignity of those around us; that we are constantly surrounded by living, breathing, human souls.

What about you guys? Anyone have any volunteering plans before the end of the year?

#2: Go to 5 States I’ve Never Visited

Oliver’s face is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s not her face that’s the problem. The problem is that I’ve toured across the country with my college touring choir, but I can’t say that I’ve actually seen much of the country.  Mostly because– as the amber waves of grain were flying past my tour bus window– Oliver’s face was in the way.

A tour bus is no way to travel.

So, in the next five years, I’d like to really spend some time getting to know a few states that I’ve never visited. I’d like to take time to stroll through their cities and towns, eat their foods, learn what makes them special and what makes them proud. If given the chance, I’d like to cheer against their sports teams.

I mean FOR, cheer for their sports teams.

There are 32 states on my list. Some of which (Alaska, Hawaii!), I have never stepped foot in. Others (Idaho? Illinois?) I may have crossed through or spent a night in, at some point, but I don’t remember.

Here is my list. Where are your favorite places in the US? Which states would you recommend?

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisina, Maine, Massachutes, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakoda, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin.

See you on the road!

Jane

Unlike Jane, I didn’t cheat.

Number 1: Run a half marathon.

As I was walking out the door one day last week, my brother-in-law snidely remarked, “How much longer are you going to keep this up?”

“Um, forever!!” And I walked out the door for my every-other-nightly run. Of course, these days, with the cold weather, it takes me about 30 minutes longer to build up the desire to run. But I can’t stop. I’ve been doing this too long – I’m committed.

Although there have been times where I’ve wondered if I will keep it up. I began running in February when I was living in Rwanda, and there was no other form of exercise that was accessible to me. [I should note here that I briefly considered joining a gym, but I was certainly the only woman there, and I was too chicken]. I was stressed out. I was tired. I thought I was going to kill someone. I decided that it was time for me to do something. Running it was.

When I returned to the US a few months ago, I questioned if I would keep it up. But I decided that I had been running too long. I couldn’t stop – maybe in a few months, I would max out and move on, but as long as I was excited to run, I was going to run! Now, the nights are colder, and I’ve wondered if I should join a gym and use a treadmill. But I just can’t. There’s something about running outside. I would miss the people I see in my neighborhood. I would miss the random obstacles, like telephone poles and signposts. I would miss cars narrowly missing me as people excitedly drive home after long days at work. I would miss the crunch of leaves, the crisp air. I would miss the house that, for some strange reason, always smells of Bounce sheets. I would miss feeling like I was a part of something real.

I’m certainly not up to the half-marathon level yet – I’ve plateaued at about 8 miles-ish. And I wouldn’t call myself the best runner ever (do you ever watch your shadow when you’re running? My form is terrible!). But I am going to keep this up, and I’ll keep you guys posted on when I sign up for my half marathon.

And maybe, just maybe, if you look out your Starbucks window, you’ll see me wildly flailing my arms and slowly moving-faster-than-walking by you…

Watch out, world!