Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wow....No really, WOW!

I get these daily emails from Whole Living. They include a "challenge" for the day. Sometimes I ignore and delete them, sometimes I read them and think "yeah ok. whatever" and then delete them, but sometimes, like today, I actually read the email, "accept" the challenge, and delve deeper into the who/what/why of the challenge.

Today's challenge was "Get Motivated," and the email urged everyone to think of a task they'd been spending time dreading and re-work the thought process around that task, "focusing on the end result" so that it "fed" us instead of "drained" us. Hmm sounded like good advice, plus there's always something on my plate I'm dreading.

By accepting that challenge, I can across a list of 11 Common Stress Triggers. I've been coming home from work stressy and mad lately. I feel overwhelmed....or underwhelmed. I wondered if I had any of these "common" stress triggers. The list looked like this:

1. Money Issues
2. A Job That Never Ends (meaning you're working 24/7 because of iphones, blackberries, laptops, etc).
3. A Job You Don't Like
4. Your Relationship
5. Constant Caregiving
6. Holiday Pressures
7. Taking on Too Much
8. Not Enough Quality Time
9. Striving to be Perfect (HA!)
10. A Lack of Passion
11. Disorganized Clutter

Sigh. I feel as though 8 of these 11 things are a significant factor in my life. And trust me, I'm grateful for the three that are not, especially the "constant caregiving" one, but seriously? It's time to get life in order! I think just knowing that these things are causing unnecessary stress in my life will help me move forward.

Blah blah blah me me me.

Moving on :)

I finished Craft Hope projects 12 and 13. YAY!

First up, I made 27 bracelets for Russian Orphans:
Here are the "big girl" sizes (taken with the wicked clevah Hipstamatic app)

I loved making these - the beads brought me right back to early 90's Girl Scout camp and I admit, I kinda wanted to rock a bracelet for myself...but no! these are for the orphans! And though I joke, the orphan situation in Russia is nothing short of tragic. This is from Craft Hope's website, facts and figures via Orphan Outreach:

There are more than 143 million orphans around the world. The majority don’t live in orphanages, they live in communities. They live in extreme poverty and many are homeless.”
One hundred and forty three million. 143 million. Can you comprehend this number? Staggering. Mind boggling. Overwhelming.
I read this information, along with other countless figures, from the warmth of my own home. A safe place that I have created for my own children. With love bursting at the seams. And I became overwhelmingly grateful for all that I have and am able to provide.
A few more statistics that will stop you in your tracks…
  • Every day 5,760 more children become orphans.
  • Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…
  • Every year 14,050,000 children still grow up as orphans and AGE OUT of the system.
  • More than 1 million orphans are waiting for a home in Russia.
  • In Russia, 60% of girl orphans become prostitutes and 70% of male orphans become hardened criminals.
Kids don’t get to pick their parents. They don’t get to pick what their upbringing will be like. They have no choices. We can’t change this, but we can help. We can share a little love from across the globe.
 A little about Russia — When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it’s shaky orphan-care system also fell. Alcohol consumption increased 10 times the U.S. level. The instances of divorce also climbed, along with the HIV-infection rate, which is now one of the highest in the world. And, according to a 2007 UNICEF report, the annual number of children without parental care in Russian ‘has more than doubled over the last 10 years, despite falling birth rates.’ Currently, there are over 750,000 children in the orphanage system and hundreds of thousands more living in the streets.

Yeah. Kinda of makes my BS about "life stress" seem pretty insignificant, huh?

As a kid, ok, even as an adult, I have pieces of jewelry that I wear that mean something. I have a necklace I bought in Kenya on my 21st birthday that just makes me *HAPPY* when I wear it. I have several necklaces my sister made for me. I have a necklace a friend had made for me for a birthday gift. I have things my husband gave me, things from my parents, things from my grandparents, a string of fake pearls that my father's mother had amongst her limited possessions when she passed away. These things MEAN something when I wear them. My hope for all the Craft Hope bracelets sent to Russia is that a kid will wear them, look at it and know that someone out there made them that bracelet because they care.

For Craft Hope 13, my overwhelming desire to "DO SOMETHING!" was fulfilled - the mission of 13 was blankets for tornado survivors. Ironically enough, Massachusetts was hit with a round of tornadoes while I was working on these quilts. They were not particularly close to where I live (about 2 hours away, around the area where I attended college, so I consider it "close" but it wasn't geographically), but we got the aftermath of the storms in my city, with lightning, thunder, powerful winds. It was mildly scary. I looked out the window and thought "now multiply this scary times about a million, and that's what you were dealing with in places like Tuscaloosa and Joplin." Damn. I hope I never see anything like that.

Making the quilt tops for each of these was a breeze - I decided to go with big squares and raided my fabric stash for suitable options. I had hoarded sufficiently large bits of fabric from baby quilts and other projects past, so I knew I could make at least two quilt tops. Sewing them brought back such fond memories, as some of the pieces were inherited from my mother. The center of the "pink quilt" was actually fabric from a dress my mother sewed for my sister! The problem came much later when I chose to back the quilts with fleece. It thought making something warm and snuggly would be nice, and if I went with fleece, I wouldn't have to do the whole "quilt sandwich" thing with batting in the middle.


Fleece is, previously unbeknownst to me, stretchy. For some reason I didn't pick up on the stretchy-ness when I was laying out quilt pieces, or even sewing the first side of the quilt back to the top. No, the realization came later, when I tried to finish the final sides and the seams didn't match or the fleece was bunched up weird. Oh the frustration! I was flipping out. When I finished the seams, everything seemed off-kilter. As I hand-sewed the final piece, I noticed how cozy the quilt's fleecy back was "At least this will keep someone warm"...and with that, I gave myself a mental dope-slap (at least that's what my dad would call it!) - "this a homemade WARM quilt that you are making for a stranger who has lost EVERYTHING," I told myself, "the last thing they are going to be worrying about is your stupid stupid stretchy fleece or your wonky seams." I told someone that I was all worried about the seams and she laughed in my face. I totally deserved it too :)

 So with that, I packed everything up and sent the quilts and bracelets off to their respective destinations. May they warms souls, brighten days, and let people know that they're in other's thoughts and hearts.


Elizabeth said...

Allison, you amaze me. I so admire the thoughtful way you reach out to people in need.

Mad love from me to you,

Al said...