Here we go: 6-10 🙂
December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)
The last thing I made was a holiday card, using watercolors and a pen. Before making the card, I hadn’t drawn a thing in years. I’ve always assumed that because I am more “brainy,” I am therefore less “artistic” and less capable of drawing or painting something satisfactory. Turns out that, it’s true, I’ll never be the world’s next…(insert: whoever else is famous right now in the art world). But you know what? I can still draw and paint this that I like and that make me happy. And I guess that’s sort of the name of the game when you aren’t going to get rich and famous anyway.
For next year’s “make,” If I ever buy a sewing machine, I’d love to take a bunch of Chris’ oldest, softest work shirts and turn them into a little quilt. I’ve been saving them for nearly 3 years now for just that purpose.
December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)
I’ve discovered a couple of new communities this year. The online foreign service spouse community is deep and wide and inspiring. In addition, here in Chengdu, we’ve found a little community of people somewhat similar to us who enjoy throwing ambitious dinner parties, pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible for homemade food, etc. Schedules and different interests and committments on the weekends sometimes keep us from hanging out too often, but if we want a good meal with great conversation and good people, we still always know how to call.
December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)
I’m not exactly sure what makes me different. Here are my best guesses:
My best friends know that if they throw a big party or a big event with a lot of people I don’t know, I probably won’t come, no matter how much I love them. But if they need help moving across town, or just need someone to come over in the middle of the night for a hug and some ice cream, they know I’m their girl. I rarely accompany my best friends out to the bars for crazy “woah what happened?” nights but I’ll never stand them up for a coffee date the next day to hear all about it either.
I crave a ying and yang balance of analytical and number-crunching tasks and more creative work. I love spreadsheets but only if I’m also writing or editing phtos or designing some sort of presentation piece on the side. If I’m writing a lot, you can bet I’m also procrastinating by playing with a spreadsheet-or cleaning. Our house is never cleaner than when I have something to write and another 3 days to finish it.
Children’s development and education fascinates me. I can read studies about that stuff like it’s chick-lit on a sunny day at the beach. Yet I’ve never considered becoming a teacher until the last year.
I want to open my own cafe/tapas/bakery place one day. Preferably on Mount Pleasant Road in DC. I want to have a bagged-lunch service that my customers can sign up for-complete with fun notes tucked in and cookie-cutter-shaped sandwiches if they want.
I don’t follow any organized religion, but I do believe there is something bigger than us, balancing out the universe. I believe in gratitude and treating everyone with respect and kindness. I believe in free will and a little bit of fate at the same time. I I believe the darkest hour is always just before dawn. Something always happens to help give you a lift out of your darkest moments.
December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)
The party that rocked my socks off was not much of a party, in fact, it was just brunch. A few weeks before Chris and I left DC. We made some scones and biscuits and picked up a few things from the corner bakery and invited our nearest and dearest DC friends over for the morning.
It was an unseasonly warm day and we took the party out onto the top balcony. With no furniture left in the house, we laid out on camping pads and played board games until the early afternoon, picking at the leftover scones and cheese as we went.
I remember wearing a drapy top with giant orange and white flowers (same shirt I wore to get married at the courthouse in). It kept falling off my shoulders and I would feel that delicious sensation of golden sunshine casting a warm glow on my pale winter skin. Everyone kept shedding layers of turtlenecks and sweaters and heavy boots as the sun rose higher in the fantastically unseasonable weather.
It wasn’t meant to be our final hurray. It wasn’t even anything that special. But schedules being what they are, the craziness of the moving to China, that morning ended up being our last really lovely gatherg with our friends. Just a beautiful, relaxing, peaceful morning with good food and good friends popping in and out over the course of the day.
December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)
The wisest decison I made this year…hmmm. It honestly doesn’t feel like I made many wise decisions!! Looking back, I can only think of every decision I would have made differently!! Most of those decisions I made poorly because I didn’t know any better.
As much as they try to prepare you for life in the Foreign Service, there really is a limit to how much you can understand before you are living it. That being said, we’ve learned a lot from a lot of our decisions, both good and bad.
We’ve learned that, when the post report says its hard to find jobs on the local economy, it probably is true. Waltzing in on a hope and a prayer doesn’t work. Next time I’ll know to do better research during bidding and to tap my network and build new relationships long before we leave for our next post.
We’ve learned that while we love the great outdoors, we prefer being able to come home to a bustling big city full of diversity in people, food, cultures, etc. We love seafood and sunshine too much to ever live this far inland again, if we can help it. We’ve learned that we really care about air quality and food safety much more than we thought.
We know we probably won’t be in places as cosmopolitan and close to the seaboard as our beloved D.C., too often, but being able to articulate what we value and what we ideally want to avoid helps us set our priorities in a way we weren’t able to before.
Maybe there is something wise in that, learning from experiences to make better decisions for the future.