Saturday, February 27, 2010

Like Dora from Finding Nemo

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...swimming, swimming

And so I'm writing again, although I really don't want to be doing this on a Saturday afternoon. I'd much rather be reading Blood Brothers.

I've got some laundry in the wash and am getting ready for a quick little trip to Portland, Oregon. It also happens to be in my top-5 list of places in the US I would live if one could be chosen based upon how much I like the area. Portland, unfortunately, is situated 4 hours' plane ride and 2.5 hours' car drive away from most of my family in Michigan. And it's cloudy there a lot. Those are two big negatives in my mind. But on the positive side, it's not too far from the ocean, it's in the mountains, a few of my most favorite people live there, and the cultural scene is simply fantastic (Powell's, anyone?). It's definitely one of the most cycle-friendly cities ever; I am also a huge fan of the great job Portland has done on public transportation.

And the hunt for a home in Kalamazoo continues. I'm a little gun-shy since the longest I've lived in any area since graduating high school is 1.5 years and at this point I have been living in southwest Michigan now for a year. So buying is definitely not in my sights.

Will I bolt? No, probably not. But I'll definitely be hard pressed to not dream and scheme of ways to go away again. Here's to finding a healthy mix of travel, study, work, play, community, and solitude!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Preview - soon to be renamed

My next blog is going to be about processes.

I like to think that I'm all spontaneous and change plans/adapt at the drop of the hat. And it's true, I do think, that I will flex pretty easily. But more and more, it seems, plans need to be made (which are highly-open-to-be-adaptable) which take much longer than a few hours.

My current plan in place is one of caretaker independence. Every time I leave my hometown I get this sense of incredible glee.

And yet again we are on the cusp of one such occurrence. In a few weeks I am moving an hour's drive north to the great city of Kalamazoo. Each time it has been different, but each time including growth. Even the moving back to the hometown, slow as I am to admit it, has included growth in its experience.

So more to come on that note. I'm too tired to carry on tonight in this vein of thought.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice

I've always wanted to 'be a writer'. And I decided long ago that I'm really not. I listened to those people who said you either are or you aren't. If you don't have the need to write... the feeling that you'd simply not be able to exist without writing, then, you're not a writer. No need to think further.

And so I discounted myself. Sure, I have abilities in the writing area. It's usually pretty easy for me to BS my way through things with writing. Or to answer questions in thoughtfully written prose. But actually being dedicated to it, spending time to research, to creatively write, and that dreaded word: EDIT are not things I would like to dwell on if I had the opportunity.

Because let's face it, I've had the opportunity. I lived in the upper peninsula of Michigan for one very long dark and cold winter, on the edge of a protected bay 8 miles from town. What did I do? I read. MEL was my best friend. In fact, he just may be my ticket. Maybe I can convince the State of Michigan's program developers for MEL to hire me.

Well anyway, regardless of what happens in that department, I am going to be more dedicated to writing at the least on this blog. One of the things Steven King wrote in his book On Writing was the importance of practice.

So if there's something that you want to do, my friend, go and do it. And don't be discouraged that you're not great at it from the start. If you enjoy it, then, at the very least you've found something you enjoy. Take it from a beginning runner: you can't run a mile at the start. But after a month or two, you can.

I have.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On the move.. again!

Watch that step...and that one...and that one...

It's still hazy, and the way is treacherous, but the way is up and there has got to be a top to this mountain!

The last time I made a big move was over a year ago now. And I didn't intend this 'pitstop' to be quite so long. After returning to the states after being gone for a couple months (and sort of missing the whole economy fall-apart and unemployment skyrocketing) my own lack of employment brought me up to speed pretty quickly.

So when I got a decently (albeit part-time) paying job in employment services, I was just glad to have a job. Then I was very pleasantly surprised to see that my main employment goal (a great work environment) was also met. Then I was so glad to find out I actually enjoyed what the job was. I helped people with minimal unemployment questions, pointed them in some directions toward employment, and directed them toward skills for getting said employment. Can anyone say computer skilz? Yep. I taught basic computer classes! Networking! And introduced many to the wonders of

So when my mother had some big health issues come up, I was glad to be near enough to her to not have to stop everything I was doing to go help. The part-time and very understanding employer gave me the time needed to be present for her needs too. And the past couple months we've been on the upswing toward wellness.

Then comes today. After months and months of searching online for jobs for other folks, I found a couple that I wanted to jump after myself. And through some naturally forged connections that the job made possible, I landed a good one.

So next Friday we're having a breakfast party (one of my favorite kinds!) and my dear coworkers are saying farewell as I move to the office up the street. I'm looking for a place in the Zoo and looking forward to helping a new set of people. This time they're mandated to come to me for case management, and since most of them come from generations of low-income city families, it's going to be quite the learning curve for me to come to a place where we 'get' one another.

Bring it.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Social Networking and Online Branding for Joe Shmoe

This is the title of my employment readiness workshop. Lately in my spare time at work (hah!) I have been surfing around a bit on LinkedIn and BrazenCareerist to understand a little more about this networking business.

Sure, I've been doing it for years through minimal blogging here, keeping up a photo site, and emailing; but really, I just started wading into the waters, reading blogs (from friends, friends' friends, and the generally interesting blogger) and occasionally commenting.

So I put it out there myself.. If you were to present to a group of dislocated workers (probably in their 30s-60s) a discussion or presentation regarding social networking, what would you do with it? Hit 'em with a lot of facts? Show them what a personal page or online professional profile looks like?

Monday, February 01, 2010


IMG_4966, originally uploaded by sarah_laughingguts.

Oh, how I love beautiful trees. In my symbol-loving mind, when I think about trees, I think about interconnectedness, the need for light to grow, and the beauty of creation.

Which makes me think about where I want my own tree to grow. There has always been in me an awareness of root structure. Where your base is, your roots grow.

And the more you replant, the wider and shallower your root system. My roots are based in my hometown and the places my extended family lived while I was growing up. But my roots have branched out widely, dipping into China, Tanzania, the Upper Peninsula, southern Ohio...

Now, it seems, we come to another branch growth. Where to spend the next period of time's focus? Knowing as I get older, it might get harder to leave?

Questions aside, I still revel in the beauty of the tree. Those unexpected branches, those twists of vibrant persistence, that healthy above-ground vision that hides an intense network of undergrowth deep down.