5 Lessons Learned While Rocking My Message

Have you gotten in on the rock painting crafts craze? It is big here in Tallahassee, as this article attests. Even the #TLHTwitterMayor created and hid a rock.

Rock Painting Crafts

I’m doing my first painting/hiding project this weekend. Bella is helping me check out my rocks.

Rock Painting Crafts

As I read through various sets of instructions about how to paint rocks, it occurred to me that rock painting, like many projects we tackle, has more steps and deeper meaning than seems obvious at first.

Planning

If you’re like me, you don’t have beach pebbles lying around. I had to plan ahead in order to have rocks to paint. I read about what other people had used, then figured out how to get my own beach pebbles even though it’s difficult to get time away from home due to caregiving demands. (Thanks, Amazon gift card + prime shipping! In other news, my UPS guy may not be speaking to me for a while.)

Although spontaneous messages are sometimes effective, thinking through your goals increases your chance to say what you mean to say. 

Priming

Many sets of instructions I read suggested to use a base coat of acrylic paint or mod podge before painting designs.

Before sharing a message important to you, touch base with your fundamental values and know the foundation supporting what you are going to share.

Painting the Designs!

While painting the designs, we have to think about what it is we want to express. If you’re like me, you have to overcome that horrible “but I’m not an artist” feeling. You may even want to practice first (rocks are bumpy canvasses).

Having a sense of adventure and courageously unleashing your creativity are key to expressing what is uniquely “you.”

Sealing Your Rocks

You need to use a clear acrylic or some other type of sealant to make sure your message stays clear.

The best messaging in the world won’t matter if friction, the elements, and opposition make it disappear. Putting a clear coat on to protect the message helps it get to as many people as possible.

Hiding Your Rocks

You have to find a place where your hiding activities will comply with the community’s rules, honor businesses’ wishes to be involved or not, stay safe, and find the balance between concealing and revealing that will lure a searcher in but still present a challenge.

Designing a great message doesn’t matter if it still sits in your hands. Take it out into the world and send it on its way. 

MY FIRST DESIGNS

I have a few organizations, people, and places on my mind, so I’m channeling those thoughts into my debut rock artwork (yes, I use the term “art” lightly!).

EQL

EQL, pronounced “equal,” is an organization I’ve recently learned about. EQL has the ambitious goal of promoting acceptance, respect and rights for all. EQL’s strategy is to make equality “a quiet march that happens every day, everywhere” by replicating what major brands do: encouraging positive emotions and enlisting brand advocates.

EQL sells gear with its logo here and donates 35% of the proceeds to causes such as the ACLU, according to their website.

Learn more here or here and look for the hashtag #WeMarchEveryDay to find fellow fans of EQL.

Honoring Savannah’s Courage

Savannah’s statement in front of her congregation moved me. She is a 12-year-old Mormon girl who proclaimed in front of her congregation, “I know I am not a horrible sinner for being who I am” (more here). She was cut off by a leader before she had finished her speech, but the rest can be read here.

Stepping Up My Support of #BlackLivesMatter

I am not sure how to approach this, but I recently agreed to do a guest post about how people can find common ground related to the topic of #BlackLivesMatter so I’d better get to thinking!

This rock will honor Alicia Garza,  Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, the three founders of #BlackLivesMatter. While of course it is technically true that “all lives matter” and it is very true that “blue lives matter” (i.e., law enforcement deserves our support), it is critical at this point in time to say this:

As a white person, I am declaring my overt support of #BlackLivesMatter. The disproportionate mistreatment of people of color, the institutional racism that influences some (not all) law enforcement agencies, the divisiveness among our nation’s citizens, won’t be resolved until we “get” why #BlackLivesMatter is a thing.

BIRTHDAYS!

One rock will honor my daughter, Tenley, on her 21st birthday (June 26) and another will honor my son, Wayne, for his 18th birthday (July 1). Two big milestones!

A GREEN PEN

Sounds easy to draw but we’ll see. I love encouraging people to #WriteOptimistically, so I’ll give it a whirl.

CATS!

I saw a cute idea for creating a cat out of two symmetrical rocks. I can’t find it now (sigh) but may give a cat rock a whirl, for no other reason than the fact that cats are fun!

Have you painted/hidden rocks before? I’d love to hear about your experience!

Rock Painting Crafts

Editor’s Note: I am still working on my painted rocks. I’ll drop a picture in when I’m done, before they are hidden!

Editor’s Note #2 (8/14/17): Well, THAT was optimistic (editor’s note #1!). The rocks I did finish, I often forgot to photograph before I hid. I’ll track down a picture or two and drop them in … eventually!

Editor’s Note #3 (9/8/17): These are not all the rocks I did …. and they don’t represent everything I said I would do in this post (but I did complete them all) …. but here are the ones I took pictures of! 

Rock Painting Crafts

Here is what the rocks represent, clockwise from the top left: 1) My team, KR Endurance 2) The You Matter Marathon 3) My tagline: #WriteOptimistically 4) A tribute to Piet Meerburg (I did this one at a Holocaust Education Resource Council workshop) 5) One relating to Charlottesville 6) A Proverbs rock 7) The one honoring Savannah (referred to in this post) 8) One honoring my daughter’s birthday and 9) MEOW.

An Easter Adventure

It is Easter today, and I am not in the mental mindset to write either something sentimental or something candy-related. I feel like changing things up a little bit, and doing it in advance of Easter so I can enjoy the day Sunday.

I abandoned “Write a story about a serial killer who leaves his (or her) clues in Easter eggs” (I don’t want to get that twisted.)

I considered:

Write a story where one of the main characters is a professional artist who made him/herself famous by designing Easter eggs.

Write a story that begins with a modern-day pastor being time warped to the time when Jesus was resurrected.

(The above two ideas were from Litbridge.)

My hilarious friends had lots of suggestions, reminding me that “little bunny foo foo was a serial killer” (technically true!) and somehow devolving into twerking bunnies.

In the clearer light of day, let’s consider what our crazy cat, Bella, actually does when she escapes.

An Easter Adventure

For context, Bella is (ahem) an indoor cat. She has developed a codependency, however, with my father-in-law, who goes in and out of our French doors many (many!) times a day to smoke his cigars. I’ve tried lots of methods of trying to keep her in, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. There are birds to chase and there’s grass to smell, after all!

<<<cue mysterious ghostly suspenseful music here>>>

One day, Bella escaped as she had done so many times before.

“She’ll come back,” my husband and I said to each other, something we have said hundreds of times before which had always proven true. After all, the lure of her food bowl eventually wins.

The night before Easter, we were exhausted. I had gotten up early to volunteer at the water stop for the Palace Saloon Race. Wayne, as usual, was snoring away. My father-in-was in whatever land a combination of Percocet and Ativan gets you to, and my son was still out with his girlfriend.

To keep trying to lure Bella in or go to bed?

The bed won.

When I woke up Easter morning, the first order of business was (as usual), pressing “brew” on the Keurig. When the house’s quiet registered, I realized Alice Cooper, our other cat, was the only feline begging me for food.

WHERE WAS BELLA?

I was kicking myself for all those times I thought “I really should make her wear a collar with a tag that has identification on it.” Was she gone for good?

It is hard for me to relax about Bella. As my husband reminds me often, I am the family member who gets most stressed about her disappearances. It’s a long story but the bottom line is: she is my daughter’s cat, she brings us all happiness (when she isn’t destroying the furniture), and I don’t want her to disappear on my watch.

As the coffee finished brewing and the caffeine started infiltrating my system, I got distracted by my usual morning routine of checking email and social media.

Happy Easter! Wished so many friends on social media.

Easter wishes on a screen weren’t quite cutting it. I missed all the years when I was growing up when my parents would have my place at the table set with an elaborate Easter basket I could admire before getting dressed for church. I missed all the excited years of my children’s Easters: candy, dressing up, the famous bonnet contest at church.

This year, all I had to look forward to was giving some chocolate and cards to my husband and son (I had sent Tenley her Easter goodies in advance), and the inevitable first question of the day from my father-in-law: “anyone got a pain pill?”

Since no one else was up yet, I headed outside to get the newspaper.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted lavender. WEIRD. Upon further inspection, in the hedges by the mailbox was a plastic easter egg. HMMM. Maybe the Tallahassee Democrat had found the one way to reach out to me that didn’t involve me having to hunt for a password I couldn’t remember. I tucked the egg in my pocket and brought the paper into my house.

Still feeling a little out of sorts, I decided to treat myself to an everything bagel. I grabbed one out of the freezer, wrapped it in a paper towel, and opened the microwave to defrost the bagel.

HMMM. The microwave was NOT. EMPTY. Two mint green eggs stared back at me. Maybe my son had developed a penchant for holiday observances (hey, 17 isn’t too late to learn!) and spread treats throughout the house for me. I placed the mint green eggs with the lavender egg in a bowl.

Wishing I had bought orange juice to have with my everything bagel, I resigned myself to an oj-free breakfast and opened the refrigerator door to grab butter.

NOW THIS IS GETTING STRANGE, I thought.  A pint of pulp-free orange juice had hopped into my fridge. There was no way it had been there the day before.

As I got dressed for church, my mind was tossing around the possible origins of the eggs and the orange juice. I didn’t dare mention it to my husband – it sounded so bizarre.

I stopped by my laptop to take a peek at my social media before we left for church. Where the heck did *this* screen saver come from?

Easter Adventure

And the rainbow of Peeps (my favorite) and chocolate bunny so beautifully packaged (packaging matters) in my chair?

*meow* came a feline voice from the porch.

Easter Adventure

It turns out Bella’s latest adventure had been more about bunnies than birds.

And an Easter “Cat”astrophe was not a catastrophe at all.

Someone got a bowl *brimming* with food after her big adventure.

Alice Cooper and Bella, Our Family’s Cats

It is almost time to put up our Christmas tree (no, we aren’t one of those families whose home is transformed into a holiday wonderland before the Thanksgiving leftovers have been consumed).

You could say our tree-topper is very lifelike:

Bella-Tree

(To see our pre-Bella topper, click here.)

Our daughter Tenley rescued Bella two years ago. I don’t know the specifics of where she was found, but she had been abandoned by her mother and did not face much hope for survival.

It was a little risky to bring Bella into our home, since our other cat, Alice Cooper, had been put up for adoption because she couldn’t tolerate being part of a multi-cat home (her owner had a new significant other, and that arrangement brought new cats into their household).

Tenley and Wayne meet Alice Cooper, 2006.

Tenley and Wayne meet Alice Cooper, 2006.

I wouldn’t trade Alice or Bella for any traditionally acquired pet. Our family, having chosen to adopt, is in the minority, however. Of all the pets in American homes, only 29% were adopted from a shelter or rescue. On this 5th annual Celebrate Shelter Pets Day, I am hoping to see that number rise as rapidly as Bella can scale a Christmas tree (and trust me, that’s FAST!).

Seventeen million people per year acquire pets. Approximately 3-4 million of those pets are adopted, but 2.7 million still lose their lives each year for lack of a home. I don’t want a guy like Kuma to meet that fate:

For more information on rescuing a shelter pet, visit www.theshelterpetproject.org, where you can search for a pet from a local shelter or rescue group, read adoption success stories and learn valuable information about pet adoption.

Shelter Pet

I’m pleased to partner with Element Associates to bring you this information about Shelter Pets Day. In addition to Element Associates, Alice and Bella encourage you to “paw”se what you’re doing and consider a shelter pet!

My Vote

This past summer, we adopted Bella the kitten. We adopted Bella despite the fact that our older cat, Alice Cooper, became our cat when she was put up for adoption years ago because she was unable to tolerate being part of a multi-cat home when her owner moved in with his significant other, who owned cats. Bella has been methodically destroying and stinking up our house since she came, but hopefully she will redeem herself by, as the sign above promises, supporting my politics.

As I have watched months and months worth of Facebook statuses and Tweets roll by, I have not chimed in often. For me, I find it too difficult to communicate the nuances of various opinions in a status that I am pretty sure will be “liked” by the people who already agree with me and attacked (or ignored) by the people who don’t. I suspect that Facebook statuses and tweets rarely convince someone on the other side to change course, and I am not sure they do a lot to educate the undecided voter.

One week-long trip to a third -world country does not an expert on world politics make but when I visited Guatemala in July 2011, presidential campaigning was underway. Tensions were heightened, but they weren’t just tensions about the latest polling. Election time there created a very real danger for personal safety. One of the travelers in our group bought a hat at a political rally we had passed in Guatemala City’s Central Plaza. Our leader asked him not to wear that hat; it would have been dangerous to us, and dangerous to the organization’s non-political mission to serve children and families in Guatemala to be perceived as showing support for any particular candidate. We heard that one way the drug industry gets a foothold is by having their operatives elected as mayor of smaller communities which creates a feeder system into the higher offices. We have our issues here in the US but we are able to support whichever candidate we choose, knowing our personal safety is not at stake and that there are checks and balances on corruption (flawed as they may be).

I am ridiculously, deeply, unabashedly patriotic. When my kids were little, I probably got more excited about “Kids Voting” than my kids did. I made sure they never missed a chance to vote. I inwardly rolled my eyes when my kindergartner chose a candidate who I did not plan to vote for “because he looks nice.” But it’s never too early to demonstrate to our children that voting is not an “option,” it is a responsibility. And as my daughter has gotten older, I see her learning to ask good questions about the candidate options. Even if she and I never agree on candidates, I hope she plans to show up every time the polls open.

Lastly, we all know one person can’t change things singlehandedly. I see the layers upon layers of frequently superfluous bureaucracy and the maze of subcontractors that have become part of many federal programs and wonder if anyone out there, whether it is the president, an agency head, or my elected representatives, are willing to say: We have to take a step back and figure out how to do what has to be done, without becoming hidebound by all of the “barnacles” that accumulated between this project being a fabulous idea and it being the turf of this or that party.

[On a side note from the presidential campaign discussion, it was my insight into Bill Nelson’s management style and investment in getting things right when he was chair of the board of directors of an organization with which I was affilialted that will win him my vote every single time he runs.]

When we took a DISC assessment as part of a management training at work, one of the things my profile said about me was “you tend to tell a story more than sell it.” That may be true but I find it ironic because I feel like I spend a lot of time trying to “sell” people the idea of donating time, money, or items to particular causes. (But the assessment also recommended that people stay three feet away from me and I am actually a hugger so who knows?). What it DID say was that I thrive on being part of a team, a team that is focused into the things and causes I find important. And although I know any political campaign is going to have nastiness, something that grieves me the most about his one is the vitriol and hatred that have spewed faster than I can click out of some tweet streams and Facebook posts. It’s one thing to present an argument against this or that policy stand, but it’s quite another to attack an individual as being an inherently bad person.

With that said, I am proudly casting my vote for President Barack Obama. You may be voting for the other candidate; if you do, I am still glad you are voting and I will still respect him if he becomes President.

But as for Bella and me, we are on Team Obama all the way.