18 March 2015

Scholarships for Starkville Area Youth: Applications Due APRIL 15th

Starkville Area Arts Council does some pretty incredible stuff, I've discovered over the past couple years.  In addition to holding various events like The Magnolia Independent Film Festival, Everything Home & Garden Expo, Cotton District Arts Festival, Forks & Corks; the arts council also supports lots of other endeavors too.  One of those is to help make possible others' pursuits of artistic creativity though awarding scholarships in various amounts.

Summer Scholarships  ~~  These are specifically for Starkville and Oktibbeha County students age ten thru eighteen, who are not yet in college, and are enrolled in advanced art programs during the summer months.  This money can be used for lessons, tuition for various art camps, contest and competition fees, or workshops that further youths' artistic development.  That application can be found here.

College Arts Scholarships ~~  Area graduating seniors who are not yet attending but have been accepted into college, who will be majoring in visual arts, graphic art design, dance, theater, voice, music, applied art, or in another art related discipline, are welcome to apply for these scholarships.    These applications can be found here.

Both the summer scholarship and
 the college arts scholarship applications are due on April 15th.

Get on up...

A few days ago, I posted about some ways I've found over the years to pay it forward, to give back to my community.  One way that I've not yet discussed here is that over the years, I've worked with various non~profits.  Sometimes, on the receiving end of services or other benefits {when I was a kid, I was one of the many who received "free" or "reduced" lunch}.  Sometimes, on the giving end, as someone who could volunteer some here and there or be able to provide some items, clothes, etc that would be used.  Sometimes, I was an employee, so that I could coordinate services and get the right stuff to the right group.  And sometimes, I'd be the spokesperson for the nonprofit advocate group, speaking before another group of individuals, explaining what the needs are for that particular nonprofit.

The main reason I mention these things, here and before, is because some folks want to help, but don't know how.  Or they think they have nothing to offer.  But if you want to help out, you can.  Helping doesn't always mean writing a check, sometimes if that is what you can do and that is what is needed, then that is the most appreciated.  "Helping" doesn't always mean hard physical labor, though sometimes that is what is needed most.  Helping can come in many forms and often it does.

There are many nonprofits and other groups, so examine your own interests and see how you can use your talents to do something you would enjoy doing for a cause you feel passionate or at least care about.  Some people look at their tithe, their church work, etc as being their cause.  Some folks want to do something to help folks who are now in the same situation they had been in previously, because they can relate to that person.  Some want to help kids, some want to become involved in gardening, some are want to share their own talents and skills through teaching and giving lessons.  Some sew, some cook, some carve, some cure, some write, some organize others, ... the list goes on and on and on.

So if you think, "I'm bored"; give it some serious thought.  Think about what YOU want to be doing.  Then do it.  Do you want to sing?  Sing and learn more about music, the voice, pitch, tone, harmonies, etc.  Not sure what you want to do?  Then there are plenty of groups that can help you in the meantime, by asking you to volunteer for this activity, or that event, or whatever.

Get up off your duff, and DO something.  What are you good at?  Find a way to apply that to help someone else!

10 March 2015

Giving Back & Paying It Forward

Long time readers know that when I first moved to Mississippi some dozen years ago, life was a bit tumultuous and I was floundering lots.  Over the years, I began to replant my feet, regain some stability, and shape my life into a much calmer, peaceful place.  I had lots of help in doing so, mostly emotional and mental support; lots of encouragement and reassurances.

Because I believe that basic tenent expressed in oh so many ways is vital; I try to be sure to pay it forward, to help where and how I can, and to encourage others.  The principle to do unto others as you would have done unto you, to treat others the way you want to be treated, to know that what you send forth shall be returned to you, et al; can be found in most belief systems~~religious, spiritual, or otherwise.  No one single group can claim it exclusively; I think many strive to include this creed into their own canon, not just as policy, but also practice.

What this meant for me was that about ten years ago, I became more proficient in my use of yarn.  My creativity in the fiber arts grew and my interest drove me to seek other individuals and groups who would also benefit from the things I made.  I appreciate items that are functional and beautiful, so that's what I focused on doing.

Each January, I'd make a list of groups who served populations who could use the hats, scarves, bags, jackets, belts, and other accessories I make.  I'd look at the organizations to be sure that they were actually assisting the individuals and not just spending the bulk of their funds with administrative pursuits and such.  I kept the list local, starting in my town {Starkville}, then county {Oktibbeha}, then state {Mississippi}...before I could get to region {SouthEast}, I'd usually have a more lengthy list than I could hope to fill!

By February, I'd have contacted the organization to see what their needs are in particular and if they could use what I could make.  I'd know which group to focus on for the year and what items to crochet, knit, loom, etc.  Come the winter, ten months later, I'd deliver the goods.

It was a win win win situation; they'd feel good, I'd feel good, the organization would be appreciative.  Yea!!  We all worked together to achieve some goals!  Yea!!

As I became healthier, having better days, more often; I became more active in our local community.  I was careful to choose efforts that didn't depend on a deadline, because I felt too fragile and not steady enough to handle deadlines well.  I was very careful to not accept a position or activity that would rely sole on me and my efforts, because my health was too unpredictable and my energy levels were not very stable.  Sometimes, I would severely misjudge my abilities and my capabilities; and fall flat on my face.

For the most part though, I think I became a better judge of myself, of monitoring myself, over the years.  This meant that some days, some weeks, some months; I knew I'd have to take a backseat, or just not enter the car at all.  Those were quiet times, when I ventured forth into the community for grocery trips, doctors' visits, and Wellness Connection water workouts {spending time in the water was a great way for me to minimize my sensory input, similar to sensory deprivation but not quite}.

About five years ago, I married the most supportive, tolerant, accepting person~~the absolutely perfect fit for me.  With his encouragement, I did become a little more active in our community; joining the newly formed writers' group.  From that, then we became involved with the Writers' Village at the Cotton District Arts Festival.  Eventually, I became more involved with other aspects of Starkville Area Arts Council.  To me, these are ways that I can assist, giving back so that others can also be encouraged and move forward.

Sometimes, it seems like I should be doing more.  I feel like it's just not enough.  But then I look back and I realize how far I've come and that giving into the feeling of internal pressure helped to put me in a bad place to start.  It's a balancing act, one that I get right more than wrong most of the time.

The difference is that now I know that if and when I fall flat on my face, I can lie there for awhile, rest a bit, then let others help me get back on my feet, dust myself off, and move at my own pace.

08 March 2015

Libby, the Bichon Frise

We adopted a five year old Bichon Frise named "Libby" over a month ago.  She has a history of not really liking men all that much, they intimidate her and she is a lil on the skittish side anyway.  She was a breeder, at a puppy mill for several years, until her uterus pretty much crumbled and fell out.  Then the woman decided she wasn't useful and had to go.

That was last fall.  In November, a couple adopted her and took her home.  But then in January, they returned her to the foster home, because it wasn't a good fit.

In the beginning of February, I drove down to meet Libby at her foster home.  She wasn't really too thrilled, but was very submissive and complacent.  Our trip home was quiet and uneventful.

Libby came with a lot of stuff, a puffy doggy bed, a smaller doggy bed with fuzzy sides, a super soft blanket, toys, squeaky toys, tug toys, dishes, more toys, and so on.  I set a few things around the living space in various areas, so that she would have choices and also so that our strangeness had a few familiar things for her.  She seemed to prefer a lil chair that is next to my husband's.

Three Dog Night:  Jerry's angels
Libby, Sophie, & Chiquita
Within days, Libby and my husband had bonded.  She would whine when he went outside and she remained in.  She would curl up in his lap, with our other two lil ones and cozy down into just the right spot.  She would come running when he held the door open,  And when we went to bed, she would lay right up against his chest.

I credit this to my husband's extremely gentle and patient behaviour with Libby.  He voiced concern when we were considering adopting her, because of her history with avoiding men.  But Libby warmed up to him with no problems at all.  He made it possible for her to like him, on her own terms in her own time.

There are several lessons to learn here, some principles that can be applied to relationships in general.  Watching my husband and Libby learn to trust each other and patiently accept the other's quirks has really been good for me.  Libby's adapted to her new environment, as have we to her.  It's a learning process that will continue, but I think she's finally home.

So are we.