30 Questions Thursday (Part 2)

 For questions 1-4, click here.

I had fun reading your comments to my first 30 Questions Thursday post--there are a few other folks out there who play flute and are afraid of heights! Please keep responding, or if you post your own 30 Questions answers let us know the links to your blog entry.

5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
     1. At the moment, my space heaters. It's way chilly outside.
     2. My husband*
     3. My son*
     4. My daughter*
     5. Expanding my mind.

*Since, arguably, numbers 2-4 could all be lumped under one response as "my happy little nuclear family," which would also then throw a couple of dogs into the mix, I'll also add here: quilting, chocolate, friends. The order of how happy these things are making me would vary within any given hour of any given day.

6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced? Math. Kidding. Childbirth. But that ultimately turned out okay. The loss of each of my parents. Still miss them terribly.

7. What is your dream job, and why?
I've always wanted to live in a cabin in the woods, or in a cozy cottage on the beach, or a palatial estate somewhere in the UK, and be a writer. Sure, I could be a writer anywhere--but why not have a stunningly beautiful view out the window while I'm doing it?

8. What are 5 passions you have?

     1. Quilting, rather obviously. 
     2. My family
     3. Global women's issues (poverty, economic empowerment, justice, maternal health, etc.)
     4. Education--my own ongoing education, that of my children, and equal opportunity for education for all worldwide (see #3)
     5. Travel, although it seems rather odd to say I have a passion for travel. But I do thoroughly enjoy it and my husband and I prioritize it--we'll give up other things before we'll give up travel--and I encourage my kids to do it. I think it's related to #4 as well--no better way to learn about the world and other people living in it than to get out and see it!

9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.

1. My mother--I've learned much of my pragmatic, "get 'er done" attitudes and skills from her. My Dad dreamed the dreams, my Mom made the dreams work in real life. I also learned how to plan conferences from Mom, since she was part of a small group that founded and hosted a big annual quilt conference for many years. I got the gift of hospitality from my Mom as well--I love welcoming people to my home, cooking for them, and having them be comfortable and happy. (I never learned Mom's trick, however, of being able to stretch a meal to accommodate 10 extra people with only 15 minutes notice since Dad or us kids were always inviting people over at the last minute.) Mom baked all of our bread and canned all season long. Eventually that worked its way back around to me wanting to join a CSA and eat local. I still don't can, though. Not only did I learn how to quilt from my Mom, but I witnessed the joy that creativity brought to her and the deep and abiding friendships she had from within the quilting community, and wanted those things for myself. I also look and act a whole heck of a lot more like her the older I get. 

     2. My father--Dad could also be pragmatic but he was more of an idealist. He spent his life committed to teaching and practicing conflict resolution with the dream that world peace was actually possible, even within his own lifetime. Dad was also big into creativity--although I don't know if this came more from one or the other parent or--most likely--a combo package. Dad just went about it in a unique way. He wanted to learn how to throw pots, so he built himself a potter's wheel with a big ol' cement base he poured himself. He wanted to learn how to tool leather, so he not only bought the tools but tanned his own leather (we had a small subsistence farm so our dinner also became Dad's briefcase). He wanted to learn how to polish stones and, from there, we also made our own jewelry. He wanted to learn how to weave so he built himself his own loom. He wanted to make maple syrup so he carved his own taps out of wood and his own yoke out of a large tree branch, strapped buckets over his shoulders with the yoke, and hiked off into the woods to collect sap. Then steamed up the house boiling the sap on our basement stove. (It was years later I learned most people made syrup in outbuildings. Not us. We were well humidified at certain times of year.) He made wine--dandelion wine, elderberry wine--in our basement. He didn't just build us a treehouse with his own hands--he built us our family home, with his own hands. Dad liked to be intimately involved with everything he did from the tiniest nail to the roof, literally and figuratively speaking. From both parents I get my values and ideals, my priority on the importance of family, and the desire to nurture creativity in myself and others. I did not, however, get the yen to boil sap on my stove.

3. My husband--My husband and I met when I was 19 and got married when I was 22. We more or less grew up together. Although our marriage works because we each allow one another to be fundamentally ourselves, we also have undoubtedly influenced who each other became in the last 25 years. For which I am eternally grateful.

4 and 5 are my kids. Being a mother has definitely focused my priorities and has both tried my patience and given me more patience. As I watch who my kids have become I'm able to identify things in both of them that I can trace directly to one side of the family or the other, or one family member or another, but they each have qualities uniquely theirs that I think are just the coolest thing going and I wish I had me some of that. 

6. My in-laws. In the key ways that count, my husband's family of birth is like mine--when we first met and spent hours talking, we laughed about how similar our family vacation stories were. However, in some ways our families are very different--and yes, some of that took both of us years to get used to and we still occasionally run into it. But being part of another family for almost 30 years does rub off on you, and I know there are ways I do some things now that are more directly related to my husband's family than my own.

7. I guess here I'd have to lump in a whole bunch of friends--some of whom I've had for many, many years, others who are newer. But they each match something in me and, at the same time, challenge something in me to help me continue to grow and expand. I read somewhere that the best friendships are those that help us become more than we would be otherwise, or something along those lines. I've definitely got a few friends that fall into that category. 

8. I had an English teacher in high school who was very supportive of my writing. His comments on the margins of my papers were always very positive and constructive, and I often let him read things I'd written just for fun, which he enjoyed (or, at least, said he did). He encouraged me to start a creative writing club and agreed to serve as its advisor. We were a small group and the club only lasted a year or so, but the fact that I had that kind of support from a teacher at a time (adolescence) when you're mostly barraged with negative feedback was memorable. Unfortunately, he died from cancer not too long after I graduated--still a relatively young man with a couple of children left behind. I do wish every kid could point to a teacher who was supportive and helped imbue in them a love of learning or feelings of success. 

9. There are two or three senior women of my acquaintance of whom I often say, "I want to be her when I grow up." They are so gentle, kind, wise, and funny. They have such a great perspective on life--about what is important and what isn't worth the energy to get upset about. Their commitment is genuine and deep, and they just make me feel good to be in their presence. I pray every day that I'll be a content, joyful, thankful senior woman and not someone embittered by life that is difficult to be around. I cement these women in my memory so that when I reach a certain age and catch myself being snarky, I can call one of their faces to mind and say, "What would Jean do?" or "What would Sally do?" or "What would Miss Mary do?" and take my cues from there.

10.  For number 10, I'll say, "everyone else." Really, how can I narrow it down to 10 people who have influenced me? Every member of my extended family on both sides has influenced me in some way or another; Every woman I've had the privilege to serve with in my job has influenced me; Every author I've read, every teacher I've had, every professor, and so forth. Even coming up with the 9 I've already listed was tough only because for each one beyond my parents, husband, and kids, I was finding myself thinking, "Yeah, but what about this one or that one or the other one I'm not listing?" If we're not daily influenced in some way by the people who cross our paths, we're not growing and becoming. 

That's it for today. Whew! These were long ones!

Coming up:
10. Describe your most embarrassing moment.
11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
12. Describe a typical day in your current life.
13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.
14. Describe 5 strengths you have.
15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
18. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?
22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.
24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
28. What is your love language?
29. What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.