Tying Knots of Love

Welcome to Imagine That on Wednesdays.

Thank you everyone for your comments Monday about community service.  Continuing with that theme–

Have you ever thought of turning a hobby into a way to give back?  A lot of people may think that community service involves donating money or joining a volunteer organization.  Not everyone feels inclined to go that route, however.  And if they don’t feel that they quite fit in with those avenues, they might believe they just have nothing to offer.

With a little creativity, though, people can find lots of different ways to give back to their community.

Those with pets probably know that any furniture in the house doesn’t really belong to the humans, but to the animals.  That’s how it is with my cat, Teagan, anyway.  She believes my big fleece blanket is meant to serve as her bed.  I made her a cat-sized one for herself, but she still insists on napping with the bright green, My Little Pony blanket.

I was really impressed with the rescue organization where we got Teagan, and would have loved to volunteer some hours at the shelter playing with the kitties, but their headquarters are a 30-minute drive away and my schedule just doesn’t allow for me to commit regularly.  I still wanted to give back in some way, though.  Then it hit me–why not make some cat blankets for the kitties?  Shelters are always in need of blankets, and not only was it something I could set an afternoon aside for, I could make a party out of it and invite my friends.

Do you want to know the best part about making fleece blankets?  No sewing.  That is right, my friends.  This is perhaps the easiest fabric craft there is.

You’ll need two pieces of fabric, a nice design for the front and a complementary solid for the back.  Trim the edges so the two pieces are lined up evenly.  Then you cut the edges into 3-inch strips about the width of a Popsicle stick.  You’ll need to cut the corners off, 3″x3″.  Then you simply tie the strips together.  The blankets look best if you tie it so the bottom strip is on top; that way you get to see the color scheme.

Last weekend, some friends came over to help me with this project.  There were five of us, and in three hours we took 12 yards of fabric and made 24 blankets.  We also took all the scraps–the lengthy trimmings–and braided them into 36 cat toys.  We still haven’t found a use for all those extra square patches.  (Remember, the reason I like this is there is no sewing! ;-) )

I’ve been making cat blankets for two years now.  It’s not a constant activity, only something we do maybe two to three times a year when the fabric store has a huge sale.  In October, one of my friends will be doing the same for Project Linus, making fleece blankets for kids in the hospital.  (1 yard of fabric will make 4 cat blankets; 1 1/2 yards will make a person-sized blanket.  Though that’s actually double because remember there is a front and back.)

Have you made these tie-knot fleece blankets before?  Are you going to try making one now?  They make great Christmas gifts.  ;-)  Are there any hobbies you think could become a way to serve your community?  I love hearing from you!

Beautiful Day

It’s Move Me Monday and I’ve got some inspiration for you.

In 2004, Westgate Church in San Jose, CA asked this question: if the church were to burn down tomorrow, would anyone miss us?  They did not like the answer.  So they instituted Beautiful Day.  Every year for one full week the church closes its doors and cancels services in order for the entire congregation to go out into the community and serve hands-on.

Every year there are multiple projects, from cleaning up schools to blood drives, from baking care packages for every fire station in the city to hosting a dance party for kids with autism.  Now the city of San Jose is very aware of Westgate’s presence in the community, and have begun asking for help on even more projects, such as cleaning up neighborhoods devastated by mass foreclosures and remodeling a local food bank to maximize productivity.  If the church burned down tomorrow, it would definitely be missed.

Acts of compassion are inspiring, but mass acts of compassion?  That is the kind of faith that moves mountains.  Are you serving?  Ministry doesn’t always mean donating money or walking up to strangers and asking them if they believe in God.  What are your individual talents?  Think you can’t possibly use them to make a difference?

My mom and I baked a few dozen mincemeat cookies, a dozen loaves of pumpkin and zucchini bread, and four tins of fudge for a local fire station last Christmas.  Did you know firemen have to buy and cook their own food?  Did you know they have a holiday party with their families (that they also have to buy and cook for)?  They were blown away and incredibly grateful to receive that care package.  Local heroes definitely deserve our thanks.

With a little creativity, you can figure out something that fits your talents and interests just right.  If you need another idea, check back with me on Wednesday when I tell you about another project I like to do.

What does “community service” mean to you?  Do you get pictures of cleaning up the sides of highways, or kids sentenced to work to make up for misdemeanors?  Or do you see fun, family activities putting hammers and paint to good use?  How do you serve your community?  I love hearing from you!

The importance of feedback–and how you take it

 

Writing has been called a solitary pursuit, and while this is mostly true, every writer needs a support system of critique and feedback.  Moms are usually great at support, but not so much on objective comments.  This is where a writing group comes in.  Not only do you get objective feedback (as objective as anyone can be, because let’s face it, writing and reading is a subjective business), but you also get a variety of perspectives.  Everyone interprets things differently based on their schema, the filter with which they see the world that is formed by their background and experiences.  It’s good to know beforehand how a reader might interpret something.  Then you as the writer can decide if you are comfortable with that interpretation, or if something needs to be changed to avoid misconceptions.

 

It’s also great to get input from people who’ve had different experiences.  As writers, we write what we know, but let’s face it, sometimes we have to use our imagination and a little research to go outside our realm of expertise.  We want the details right, don’t we?  I gave a character bruised ribs, and a person in my writer’s group said, “Hey, I’ve had bruised ribs.  Here’s what it’s really like…”

Not all feedback is created equal.  As the writer, you have to take it or leave it, though you should always listen to it first.  We use the word “objective” to describe the ideal kind of critique, but there really is no such thing.  Each reader, however well-read or accomplished in writing, still has their own tastes in what they like to see.  Sometimes a writer and reader click like brain twins.  Sometimes some serious deliberation is needed.  Sometimes we feel like the feedback is coming out of the blue and misses the mark.  That’s okay.  It’s all part of the process.

 

It’s also important for a writer to know his or her tendencies when accepting feedback.  Critique should be a discussion, not be perceived as a personal attack.  It might even help to figure out how you best receive it.  Maybe you need a sandwich delivery: positive/needs improvement/positive.    Maybe you’d like alternative suggestions, or just have something pointed out and you figure it out later yourself.

Yeah, the writing itself is a solitary activity, but writers themselves are not alone.  There’s a huge community out there waiting to embrace each other.  If you don’t already know about the #MyWANA hastag on Twitter, go to Kristen Lamb’s blog and read about it.  http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/join-the-love-revolution-mywana/  #MyWANA means We Are Not Alone (writers).

Happy writing and critiquing,

~Dreaming wide awake