Updated: May 21, 2020
Who else out there is doing school from home right now?! So many of us are in the same position right now of transitioning to an online school environment that is totally not what we were expecting. Like many of you, Colter's course load currently requires 15+ hours of Zoom classroom time, which, despite engaging content and teaching styles, can still be super emotionally and physically draining. After about a week and a half of Colter sequestering himself to the bedroom for these extended periods of time, emerging only once each day to go on an afternoon bike ride, we decided that something had to change.
I am a firm believer that you can make any opposition an opportunity. It has been amazing to see so many people take this time of global pandemic and find the silver lining in their personal lives. We wanted to have this experience for our family, as well. So, we took a look at our family values and goals, and decided to make some changes.
Meeting a Moose
One of Colter's recent art resolutions is to paint from life every day. Fortunately, we have been able to discover that the current Covid crisis is creating opportunities to get out and paint that would not have been possible if school were normal right now. So, instead of spending 15 hours in front of a screen, Colter tunes in via the app on his phone, and explores southeast Idaho, finding places to paint.
This past week he revisited the sand dunes, now a new family favorite adventure spot. After getting everything set up and beginning his painting, he realized he was not the only one enjoying the scenery. A moose was just across the water, munching on the new greenery! Apparently, though, the grass is always greener on the other side (which I don't actually believe, but this moose sure did) because she came right across the water to where Colter was painting. Colter preferred the value of his life over the value of his art supplies, and quickly evacuated the premises.
As a wildlife and landscape artist, these are experiences that I imagine Colter will have frequently during his painting career. One of his goals as an artist is to be able to depict animals in their habitat in a way that inspires viewers to appreciate both the animal and the space they live in. (As his wife, my goal is for him to stay alive during the process!)
Just like this moose, we all have places where we feel most comfortable, and where we can expect others to respect us. Right now many of us are either sharing that place with more people than we are used to, or not able to be at that place at all. This is definitely opposition for many of us, but I'm convinced that there is opportunity in it. How can you come to love the people in your space better? What about your current environment is helping you grow? What will you appreciate most about your space when you can get back to it? As I have asked these questions myself, I have found more appreciation in my heart for my family and a much better perspective of the direction we are heading in our future. As for the moose, Colter gave her the respect she deserved, packed up his easel and headed home.
One of my dreams as we expand our adventure art business is to use our resources to serve others in meaningful ways. (As a side note, over the next few months and years we will be on the hunt for service-type organizations or programs that match with our values and vision that we have. If you have any suggestions, we would be super happy to hear them!) It can be really easy to look at where we currently are in life (school, kids, small income) and think that we will give and serve when we have something more to give. But in all reality, that perspective super scares me! I know that now is the time for us to learn how to make generosity part of who we are. If we can be consistently generous with our time and resources when we feel like we don't have much of either, we will definitely be able to continue that pattern when we do have more to give.
My commitment to this resolve was tested big time this past week. Just before Mother's Day, a leader in our community reached out to me to see if I would work with the women in our congregation to make 1,400 hospital grade masks in a week. She had just received 17,000 masks and was working with about 12 other women to create a network of mask-makers. She explained to me that similar masks to these had already been distributed in New York, Salt Lake City and would continue to be sent to high-need areas throughout the country. It was our opportunity to get them finished in time to be sanitized and distributed.
One amazing thing about being part of a community-based congregation is that you have a whole group of people to rely on. Within hours, dozens of women in my neighborhood had responded to the call, and were ready to help. Because we live in a community with an average age of 23, not many of the women in our area know how to sew, and even fewer own sewing machines. Instead of opting out of the service, quite a few people helped with prepping the masks by pinning them so the sewing could go significantly faster. Other women helped with pick up and delivery of the finished masks. Lots of the ladies got their husbands, kids, or other family members in on the action, as well! Believe it or not, our age range of mask-makers was from under 8 to over 80, with women originally from across the country and world participating! All-in-all we had more than 30 people help sew 1,286 masks in one week. (Not to mention many of these women spent Mother's Day in mask-making action!)
So, you probably noticed that 1,286 is not 1,400. We ended up 114 masks short of our goal. This was a really important time of learning for me. It was so tempting to look at the 114 masks we didn't get done and spend hours trying to figure out how we could have made those happen. This wouldn't have changed anything, though, and probably would have left a negative impression on this amazing experience. Instead, I am choosing to focus on the 1,286 masks we did finish. Many of these friends spent hours upon hours finishing these masks, and their efforts are worth so much more than focusing on the unfinished.
We will always have things in our lives that go unfinished or are completed imperfectly. Fortunately, the journey of our life is worth so much more than those moments. It takes being intentional, but when we do choose to focus on what we have created with our lives, our appreciation for the goodness around us increases, and we are better able to see our personal value and the value of the people in our lives. The time we spent making masks brought us closer together as friends, community members and sisters. These connections during a time of quarantine were priceless.
We will never be able to measure the impact of the masks we made, but if it saves even one life, I am sure I'm not alone in saying that it was worth every single minute.
Although these adventures may not be out on top of a mountain or in a slot canyon, I believe these are the adventures that bring joy and meaning to life. When we take time to notice the beauty around us, and share our time and resources with others, we never know how we will impact others. The true adventure of meeting the moose and making masks was finding life in an unanticipated places. When we look beyond ourselves to the world and people around us, adventure awaits!