GISH 2019 Has Begun…

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​The annual do-good, do-crazy scavenger hunt began yesterday. Bright and early on the west coast, mid-morning where I live on the east coast. Previous years finally taught me to give the website a little time to crash and then come back, so instead of jumping on right at 10am, I waited about fifteen minutes.

In the twenty-four hours and change since the list dropped, I have been communicating with my team, having a few laughs at my own expense, and writing up my notes for the items I’ve chosen.

Historically I’ve done about ten items per year. Assuming each team member does that many, that gives us a finished item list of 150. Some do more, some do less; we all do what we can. I’ve already seen some other teams dealing with miscommunication, and I may be biased, but for the most part, we have always had good communication. We don’t mete out a certain number of projects per person or restrict how many each teammate can claim. We all use the honor system and don’t take on more than we can handle. After a couple of days, we will put some back or trade or ask for help and feedback. For the most part, we get it done.

I’ve claimed six items plus two team items. There are two more that I have my eye on, but I want to get a couple of these finished first and leave those open for others. If they’re still there by mid-week, I may add them to my item list.

One of the major rules is that you can’t share anything from the list until the hunt is over. That day is Sunday, August 4th. The hunt ends on Saturday, but I can’t remember the time. There’s a countdown clock on the Gish website.

I can (probably) tell you that I’ve sketched out a few of the items, made a shopping list for one, planned on some scanning/photography for another. I’ve done first drafts for poems and drawings, one was really quite good, and one was just awful; terrible proportions. I need to dig out my sewing machine unless I want to hand sew the project I’m thinking of. My list includes one charity item and one global environmental item.

This year’s list has a good balance, splitting the items into fun, outside the comfort zone, charity, compassion, political, think global/act local, and in looking back over this list and previous lists for the last six years (plus this one) that I’ve participated in, it’s a good reminder that when the one week of the scavenger hunt isn’t going on, our lives should include the same balance. Not necessarily evenly split, but definitely parts of all those elements:

  • Fun activities
  • Activities that make us take a little step outside of our comfort zone
  • Charitable works
  • Be compassionate
  • Get involved in your local government and politics. At the very least, register to vote and then vote on November 3, 2020, and every year thereafter.
  • Think global and act local. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  • Volunteer.
  • Help a neighbor.
  • Pay something forward.

It’s the Last Midnight…the last wish…

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​I have it from an unreliable source that this will be the last gishwhes.

I call the source unreliable because it’s Misha Collins, and I’m sure that there is something else up his sleeve. There is also the qualification made that it’s the last gishwhes “as we know it.”

I’m actually kind of happy in a melancholy way; even bittersweet, but the fact was that it was hard for me to pump up my enthusiasm to run around like a lunatic, forcing my kids to help me. I have no one else in my neighborhood to join my team, and that leaves some items off limits. I do tend to focus on the artistic ones, the writing ones, and the kindness ones.

I really liked that last year the focus moved to slightly more random acts of kindness rather than impossible to do crazy ones. I think that Misha put some on that were literally impossible to do, but then people tried them, and he discovered that people are generally crazier than we would give them credit for. Disclaimers had to be included over the years to avoid hurting yourself or your pets or doing something illegal. One would have thought that a participant would have put those under the common sense categories, but nope.

I love my team. I have found lifelong friends in the Brave Little Ants. I’ve found some people who I agree with ideologically and politically, and I’ve found others who I don’t. And that’s the point, isn’t it? We don’t live in a self-contaitned bubble. We need others to survive on this great big blue ball we call ours, and gishwhes was one way to prove that to a lot of naysayers and unbelievers.

Disagreement fosters discussion, and discussion creates education and understanding.

My new friends include military personnel, a gun owner in Texas, atheists, religious people, conservatives, liberals, progressives, married, divorced, single, homeschoolers, teachers, artists, writers, jewelry makers, parents and non-parents.

In our three years, we’ve covered Canada, Denmark, Spain, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Utah, Georgia, Texas, and Missouri.

Our ages ranged from 19-50.

Earlier in the week, I grabbed my kids and put gas in the car and headed on an adventure. I know that the spontaneity of that was directly linked to my years of gishwhes, and how it let me push myself a little farther and become a little freer.

Without gishwhes in its official capacity I’m hoping that it has given me enough confidence that I can continue to create art and be kind. Like a habit, but a much more positive one, like buying coffee for the guy behind you in line.

I’ll miss you, Gishwhes, but I also know that you’ll be with me and within me for the forseeable future.

P.S. Thank you, Misha Collins.

26/52 – Misha Collins

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​Each month I have tried to use one of my new 52 weeks to talk about a person or personality who has been an influence on my life. In past weeks, I’ve talked about the Blessed Mother, Mary, journalist Ezra Klein, artist and author Brother Mickey McGrath, writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer and actress Carrie Fisher, and St. Elen of Caernarfon.

With Gishwhes beginning at the end of this week, I thought that I would briefly introduce this audience to Misha Collins. 

I became aware of Misha through a friend of mine who convinced me to join his gishwhes team, which ended up being all full up. That’s another story, though. Gishwhes is the acronym for its description: the greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen. Misha pronounces it gish-ways; I pronounce it gish-weeeessss.

In addition to Gishwhes being a scavenger hunt, it is also an opportunity to move out of your comfort zone by being creative, artistic, and kind. Part of the fun of gishwhes is trying new things, meeting new people, working together as a team even if you never meet them, and connecting through art and kindness.

Misha’s an actor who I’ve seen several times before although I don’t remember any of the ones before Supernatural.

He’s married and he and his wife, Dr. Victoria Vantoch have two children. They live primarily in California, but also spend a large chunk of the year in Vancouver where Supernatural films.

Misha began the charity, Random Acts in 2009, showing his fans how to direct their energy to  make lives better by doing small, seemingly insignificant things, but that were huge things for the families involved, and of course, as anyone who does any kind of volunteer work knows, it gives great joy for the person on the giving end of things.

Some of the bigger things that Random Acts has done over the years has been bringing hope to Jacmel, Haiti after the island’s devastating earthquake, building a free high school in Nicaragua. Last year, they helped two Syrian refugee families, and this year they began a crisis support network to help those in danger of suicide and self-harm. Sometimes, all you need is someone to talk to at the right time. it doesn’t make it all better, but it does help.

Recently, he’s been involved in political issues like resisting the current Administration’s and Congress’ rollback of civil rights and environmental protections, and encouraging petitions and supporting candidates across the country. Many would say that this isn’t the role of a mere actor, but this is not out of the realm of his skill set. Of course, any member of society can and should involve themselves in politics and political causes, but in his case for the many naysayers out there, he went to the University of Chicago for public policy, and was an intern at the White House during the Clinton years.

I attribute what I did yesterday with my kids directly or indirectly to Misha’s influence as well as my experiences in Gishwhes. I saw a friend’s post on Facebook about something going on in the capital. I thought that it would be fun to visit, and maybe I’d take the kids on Friday or sometime next week. I looked at the clock, pretty much decided to miss church, and go back to sleep when I was jolted. It wasn’t anything paranormal or a voice in my head, but suddenly, I was bolting out of bed, waking my two youngest kids, telling them they had ten minutes to be ready: we were going to church, breakfast at McDonald’s, and then a huge surprise.

They were not terribly put off, although they don’t usually go with me to church, and they really don’t like it very much, but they didn’t argue, they didn’t badger me about what the surprise was, and to be honest, they were extraordinarily well behaved and cooperative all throughout the day, never once complaining about the heat or that they were hungry.

I’m not sure i would have had the energy or the wherewithal to just get up and go like that if I hadn’t been participating in Gishwhes for the past five years. It wasn’t as though I was doing anything crazy; just a little out of the ordinary.

And that’s what I should be teaching my kids. There are times for order, and there are times for spontaneity and surprises. Except for breakfast (and the subsequent parking ticket), this was a free day. And it was so inexpensive that I treated them to another surprise on the way home: 50c Frosties at Wendy’s.

Misha Collins is that bee in your bonnet, Mona Lisa smile, Jiminy Cricket, and he’s the friend who pushes you just a little, but holds on so you don’t fall. And he’ll bring the band-aids.

It’s Been a Long Time…

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It’s been a long time,

Since I’ve seen your smiling face.

It’s been a long time,…

Long Time by Cake

Nearly every day for the last two weeks, I’ve come here, opened a post, and stared into the oblivion of a blank page. It isn’t that I have nothing to write about; I have plenty, and I have written a few things, but nothing ready for prime time, so to speak.

I have been trying to work on other things, but I feel your absence deeply.

Of course, every time I go back to see what I “owe” like my last few prompts and my New 52 Reflections, I seize up and I think that I will never get out from under.

I have also been spending most of my time planning my family’s trip to Ireland and meditating on a prayer for my confirmaton saint for whom I am making a prayer card. (Where nothing exists, create it.)

We’ve also been to the movies quite a bit in the last few weeks as well as renting from Redbox: Wonder Woman, of course in June, but more recently, Moana, Spiderman: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, The Lego Batman Movie, Logan.

I thought I would share some of the more visual things I’ve done since last we were together. I’m working on another one that was inspired by the (second) homily at yesterday’s mass.

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Busy, Busy Weekend

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Beginning at the top, L-R: Our Common Home book cover, Wonder Woman Pop keychain, Wonder Woman cape hanging at the comic store, March for Truth art, Carnival, Pentecost, Gishwhes Tea Party art, green flower for my hair, Pride flag. (c)2017

Some weeks go by with nothing to do or that rare week that has one or two things every day just to keep the week moving along and easy to handle. Then there was this past week.
On Wednesday, I was invited to a Ramadan dinner, a community dinner to break the daily fast that Muslims globally follow. This dinner is one that the Islamic Center holds every year. It was wonderful, and I was glad to have gone. I’m already looking forward to next year.

On Thursday, I had a church  meeting but that was cancelled, so at the last minute, we decided to pick up my daughter’s friend and go to the evening showing of Wonder Woman. I’m not sure if Thursday counts as opening night or pre-openng night. The movie was amazing, and for a moment I considered going to see it again this weekend. Yes, it was that good. It was also a school night, but it’s Wonder Woman! We’ve been waiting a long time for this one.

On Friday, I started to read (for the second time) Our Common Home: Visual meditations of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ by Michael O’Neill McGrath, the catalyst being the Trump Administration’s short-sightedness on the welfare of our shared planet Earth. I am reading it slowly, and I am planning on using some of Brother Mickey‘s artwork as inspiration for my own tonight. Friday night was also the school’s rec night for my daughter. It was an introduction to the middle school rec nights that they have throughout the year. Then her friend slept over in anticipation of Saturday.

Saturday began with Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast – a day late and a donut short for National Donut Day, and then we were off to our local comic store to celebrate Wonder Woman Day. Free comics, tiaras, and bracelets, pins, and key chains! Fun, fun, fun. After that my son had a birthday party that turned into a sleepover. We brought him home for a shower and a change of clothes. He and my husband went to buy him a bicycle that he’s been promised before the sale ended.

In the meantime, we took the girls out to lunch, then to a local carnival. They dropped me off at church where I was reminded it was Pentecost, something I will reflect further on later in the week. The Holy Spirit is something that I have felt my whole life without knowing exactly what it was that was guiding me. While I was at church, the girls decided on another sleepover at the friend’s house. I went home and drew some art for the March for Truth that I attended virtually continuing with the Wonder Woman theme by using her lasso of truth.

My husband and I began to catch up on Sense 8, only to find out that it wasn’t renewed for a third season. I’ve already joined the online movement to try and bring it back. It is just so much and so wonderfully well done. I can’t help but feel attached to the sensates.

We are currently at our local coffee shop – Starbucks. I’m wearing a green flower in my hair ane a matching Gishwhes shirt for the International Gishwhes Tea Party taking place around the world at this exact moment.

It is also Pride month, and I spent much of last night drawing and coloring a pride flag, mostly for my own amusement, but also to share.

So much done, and this weekend isn’t even over yet. We still need to get the kids back from their respective sleepovers, watch two more episodes of Sense8, decide on dinner, and then prepare for the return of Fear the Walking Dead.

Tomorrow seems just as busy as I renew my driver’s license and get my glasses adjusted. I’ve been getting headaches and they’re barely a week old. I’m definitely seeing better, but I’m not sure constant headaches are worth the benefit. I also plan to get my international driving permit for our trip to Ireland.

I’m not sure if I have time to catch my breath.

While I do, what are some of the ways you cope with the busyness of your lives? If you comment with yours, I’ll include them in tomorrow’s post of some of my hints and tips to get through our days.

Gishwhes 2016 Wrap-Up

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On the most recent Saturday, Gishwhes 2016 came to an end. I think this might have been the best year yet. The items were a nice balance of good deeds, insane impossibilities, creativity, and small doses of public humiliation.

This year we squirted milk out of our noses, sold bottles of air, helped the homeless, raised money for FOUR Syrian refugee families (two was the original goal), tweeted Mike Pence the dangers of smoking, tweeted Lin-Manuel Miranda other historical raps, and sent postcards to William Shatner, who had the last laugh by giving out Misha Collins’ address. Well played, Bill.

The whole family got involved whether they wanted to or not. And they liked it.

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