Wednesday, February 17, 2010

work, developmental disabilities, heritage arts, wisconsin, self-sustainability and MORE!

Today was one meeting after another - It started at 8:30 with the supervisory meeting, and ended at 12:00 with the safety committee meeting. Then lunch, and a long long long conversation with various co-workers about our program. Those are the talks I like the best - when we talk specifics about our clients and get into the WHY's behind their behavior. I don't get to do that very much, because I'm not really in a department, I'm doing my own thing.

That was one of my favorite things about working for Young Adventurers Day Care - the monthly staff meetings where we discussed in GREAT detail about specific kid situations - kids who were acting out and why we thought it was happening...we heard about the family situations, the sibling situations, and talked about what approach we would all take with them. I love that.

Here at PI, I am working with adults, but they are all developmentally disabled, and many a behavioral issue comes along with that. There's A, who saves every piece of shavings she gets when she sharpens her pencils - has jars and jars of them. There's S who tapes the wrapper from every piece of gum he chews to his apartment wall - with the date he chewed it written on it with pen. There's T and G and their relationship - to each other and to food - there's J and his 8+ times a day phone calls, B and her hugging, D and her fascination with textiles, J and his lists - I mean, MY list goes on and on and on - and I LOVE IT. That's why I'm in this field, that's what holds my interest and fascination with this population. They are fantastic people with a slightly more obvious explanation to their outward behavior. Our different groups of staff who work with them weekly get together and do this discussing at their staff meetings. I listen in sometimes, when they are meeting during my lunch. They go through each client on their load and talk about how they are doing....

Anyways, today involved lots of informal impromptu THAT, and it's incredibly satisfying for me.

At our Supervisory Meeting we are continuing our series on "first, break all the rules" and have moved on to the guy's 2nd book - which is all about playing to your strengths. It's about disbanding the thought that to improve yourself you should spend most of your time working on your weaknesses - not only is it frustrating, but you see fewer results and successes leading to less self-efficacy, and you bring yourself up to mediocre rather than excelling at what you are already strong in. I read something similar in a leadership book a few years ago when I was housesitting for KJ - flip the 80/20 rule - spend 80% of your time working on your strengths, sit back and WATCH yourself get excellent. You don't ignore your weaknesses completely - but you channel your strong suits and get better n better.

I really like this idea. It feels GOOD to do things you are good at. This is the way you create expertise - which is something I have long pursued and admired in many people. I always felt like such a dabbler that I was afraid I would never achieve expertise in any one thing, and I really looked up to the people in the fields I was interested in who had what I thought was pure self-discipline to focus on one thing until they became an expert.

At this point I don't feel the need to abandon all of my pursuits to focus on just one - but I like the thought of developing my strengths and applying THOSE specific things to all areas of my interests.

I also am better at labeling my interests - I might feel as though I'm interested in a gajillion things (which I am) but you know what? A HUGE amount of it falls under the umbrella of "heritage arts" - voila. If I was feeling inwardly scattered before, I have just neatly organized myself without taking a single thing away.

In any case -

Today was a good day at work. I finished the shawl I was working on this weekend and took a few photos for ravelry. Last night I hung out with my mom and dad for a while which was nice, because even though I see them pretty frequently, I hadn't had good catching up time, especially with my dad. My hyacinth are beautiful. Adam and I are going to June Lake next week for a mini-vacation. I called his dad yesterday and set up some Juno-training time for this weekend. My dad and I might go see a movie this weekend. I went to Joann's, piled yarn in my basket, then emptied it all and only took 3 of the 15+ skeins I'd originally wanted (thank you, self-control and the article I read on sparksavings about impulse buying last week) - 1 of the skeins is blue cotton for the market bag I started crocheting this weekend, and the other two are for another shawl.

I've decided shawls should definitely make a comeback. I'm wearing one right now, as a matter of fact. Talk about your heritage arts - I need to do a study on shawls and their importance, because I know they are, I FEEL they are, but I don't have the facts to back it up. But I feel very connected to - well, don't laugh, but - Laura Ingalls when I wear one. She IS my barometer of all things heritage-artsy, after all. My one day camp should probably be named "Wilder" or something, just for her. You know (tangent alert) when I was little, my aunt bought me a few bonnets and I had a dress that was exactly western-expansion style, and I wore that more than my real clothes. I should go back and re-read Laura Ingalls Wilder. I should go back and not only re-read her, but try recreating some of the stuff they did - like making maple syrup candy in the snow. (Second tangent) - that was one of the coolest things about the time I spent dating a guy from Wisconsin - the day I was visiting his family and we went and tapped the maple trees that they had. Straight out of Laura Ingalls! Also, they made really, really, really good apple cider. ;)

So I've got this shawl, another one on the needles, the market bag, two pairs of socks that are each 1/2 done, a dozen or so felted coin purses that just need to be needle felted and have zippers sewn in, and a bunch of granny squares waiting for lining and purse handles.

I want to go back to the time I spent in Wisconsin for a minute - and tie it in with my time in Alaska. For that matter, I want to tie Oregon in it too - something I love, and respect, is self-sustainability. I mean this in big and little terms. I'd love to live on my camp with systems that we created, maintained, repaired, and benefited from, without taking from other people/resources. I want to have animals, gardens, get my fibers from these things, make the dishes and the furniture and the food - get back to the beginning of everything. I am not in a place to do that completely, nor do I feel as though I have the knowledge to do that. I'd get frustrated and things would be a mess. So what I am trying to do is one project at a time - make the ceramics in my house. Make the blankets. Make the hats and the gloves and the cushions and the picture frames. I think it is more beautiful, and it means so much more to use a cup I made from start to finish.

In Wisconsin, my then-boyfriend's family built their own house, and except for some grains, ate mostly what they grew/gathered. The shower was water boiled on the stove, taken upstairs, and a gardening can hung on a hook from the ceiling. The salad was gathered from the greenhouse right before we ate. The side dish were nettles I'd accidentally stepped in earlier. There were things I did not like about their lifestyle - they were SO self-sufficient with a fair dose of shy that it didn't seem as though they spent much time in the company of other people, and I think I would have gotten very lonely - but I really liked the food aspect of how they lived (except for the miso soup. I will never like miso soup. Never. Never. Never.)

In Alaska, that was one of the neatest things that really, I felt, permeated the culture in which we were immersed. When something broke - no one called a plumber or electrician or mechanic - you just looked at it, stood around with your arms crossed for a minute - said a few words to the person standing with crossed arms next to you - and went and got the tools to fix it, while the other person cleaned up whatever mess it'd made. Cars weren't cosmetic, they were functional - and kept functioning as long as the people could hold them together with wire and duct tape and parts from snow machines (in alaska snow mobiles are snow machines, they don't need the things that make the snow ;)). The cabin needed a new outhouse? We dug a hole, moved the structure, covered up the old one. The path was swamped? We dug out the mud to let the water flow under, and built a new one - using a birch tree WE cut down and stripped of bark. Porcupines getting under the cabin? We attached the chicken wire. Toilet broke and water flooded everywhere? We fixed it. Needed a shower? We made one. Granted, I lived in a cabin and on a ranger compound, so we had tools, but even at the people's houses we met - they were the ones putting on a new room, building the dock - there was very little talk of HIRING anybody to do something around your own house or land.

On a smaller scale, that's one of the things I really like about the time I've spent in Oregon, too - not so much the fixing everything with your own two hands, but using the stuff you have. Want to grow herbs on your windowsill? Chances are, in one of my friend's apartments, there are jars that have been saved from peanut butter and jelly that you can use. I guess this is the recyling portion of the blogpost, but for all of you who do not live in Orange County, California - it is a VERY DIFFERENT CULTURE HERE. Not that we are incapable of saving one thing to use in another way, but it's - different. A different focus or emphasis, as a whole.

I made marmalade from my trees, and was thrilled that I did it, and everyone acted like I'd gone to the moon.

I think it would not have been such an unusual thing in other places.

I live in a weird little out-of-touch bubble. I do love where i live - I grew up here, 5 minutes from the ocean, 2 hours to snow, 1 hour to real desert, 30 minutes to museums and downtown city stuff - but the lifestyle I want to lead more and more is not the norm in this area. Is that a problem? Maybe it's a cop out, to move to somewhere where it's *easier* (or more widely accepted, understood, just done) -

my rambling has gone on long enough that I am tired of the sound of my own voice - even if I am writing.

Things I'm thinking about.

And I finished the shawl.


Anonymous said...

You would enjoy a trip to this house, I bet.


Roya said...

Oh my goodness, that is AMAZING. I just read every bit of the site and sent it on to Adam. HOW COOL. HOW FREAKING COOL. That just gave me hope, and recharged me in so many ways. Thank you for sharing!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Look at

She farms and raises animals in the slums Of Oakland. She has a book out called Farm City that is a good read.


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