What Lies Beneath?

bro2

What lies beneath? That could easily apply to a bike found under a layer of dust, a forgotten toy at the bottom of a box or even an abandoned vehicle in a barn – all treasures right in front of you waiting to be uncovered, to be re-discovered. And many times with that rediscovery comes rejuvenation – a breath of new life in that object or maybe even a new purpose. But what happens when it’s not just an object changing? What if a person can also find a new purpose for themselves while they are transforming objects at the same time?

This is my brother Terry, he is an artist. He has always been an artist – a passionate guitar player, writer of angry musical anthems, master of poetic love songs and a non-stop tinkerer. However, this artist has been collecting dust under the career of a precision metal fabricator for decades. Long, hard hours working in a shop on projects big and small, simple to complex and for a variety of industrial uses. But, there was always something else….something more magical that lay beneath that daily dirty grind.bro

If you are one of those people who likes to judge a book by its cover – perhaps you might take one glance at Terry with his tattoos, mohawk (or no-hawk) and slight smirk, then summarily dismiss him. Rookie mistake – he can look a bit rough around the edges, but you aren’t going to get to know him or really see him until you talk to him. An amazingly articulate, passionate human who is fueled by the desire to make his loved ones smile and make other people take a second look at something that was once discarded.

My brother’s metamorphosis started about 5 years ago with an accident that left him with 2 ruptured disks. Unable to work, drive or walk – hell, some days he wasn’t even able to get out of bed. Sit too much – it hurt; lie down too much – it hurt. He was shuffling around like he was 100 years old and hunched over like Snoopy when he pretends to be a vulture. After many failed attempts at both surgery and rehab over the past few years, he was able to get the reconstructive work he needed a few months ago which made him slightly mobile again.

With many question-filled years under his belt, the likes of “what am I going to do now” or “how can I find something new” and “what if all I’m good at is now gone”. The answers to those questions weren’t going to be found on the couch so Terry took the risk to try something different. Pushing his new found mobility by taking a walk to the basement about 6 weeks ago, he put on his welding mask one more time and this is what he found in the pile of junk down there…..Meet Boom Boy.
boom boy

My brother, the welder had scratched the surface just a bit and found an artist lie under those years of pain, of wondering and of waiting. He suffered for his art but in such an unexpected way – he lost his job, a career which was all he ever knew, time with family and friends and many other things which only time will tell. He is only a few months post-surgery and we still don’t know what “recovery” will look like for him, only that he’ll never be able to go back to what he’s done almost every day for the past 20 years. But, I think that’s ok because now all eyes are firmly set on the future and that is what is worth living for – not the past.

I am beyond thrilled to say on his first journey outside this weekend to share what he’s been working on was an unparalleled success. He brought his Found Object Sculpture/Art to a show in Northhampton, MA….350+ business cards and dozens of prospective buyers later – HE SOLD OUT THE SHOW!!

My scrappy, wonderful, head-strong, amazingly talented brother set the whole place on its ear! I am so beyond happy for him, hopeful for his future and excited for what’s to come. He is a master at finding what lies beneath, but don’t just take it from me – see his work for yourselves

www.tmrennertstudios.com
www.tmrennert.com

Is Facebook the New AOL?

I remember a conversation with my mom in the mid-90’s about wanting to get “on the internet”. She had been listening to stories from me about my work at an early web design agency and decided she was going to take the plunge. Not wanting to play tech-support all day I quickly recommended AOL.

Remember the dial-up sound that was likely to be happening as you saw this

I made that recommendation for a few reasons – they had nationwide coverage (I had a local ISP with a local number), it was easy to install and for the most part it was the internet on training wheels. Sure, you could get out on the big bad web, but for the most part sticking close to your AOL home base you could send email and visit the AOL sites (keyword anyone?)

While I am happy to see more people comfortable with posting, viewing and participating on Facebook these days I can’t help but wonder – is Facebook the new AOL? Will it get huge while trying to contain the whole internet experience in one place and then blow-up massively, maybe linger in some form or format. Perhaps a final Jeopardy question in 10 years? Or will the team find a way to stay relevant and pivot/turn/twist/re-shape itself over the next few years? Only time will tell my friends, but I am definitely keenly interested.

 

 

We Wish For You So Many Wishes

Flower Wish - Photo Credit to Dawn at Art StudioTeacher conferences were held at my daughter’s kindergarten today (she’s way behind on her calculus homework!) Afterwards I was putting some of her paperwork away and came upon the “graduation day” wishes from her pre-school teachers this past June.

Wishes played a central role in the work they did over the past year. The header for my site is a picture of jars filled with different types of wishes they found in the forest. The wishes the teachers shared really touched me then and inspired me again today, so I wanted to share them with you all.

We wish that you will always look and listen closely with your heart to the world around you and take care of it. We know that you are full of wisdom and imagination and that listening and relationships are at the heart of all you do. We wish for you so many wishes!

We wish that you will forever notice details and discover the ways things work

We hope you make new friends while cherishing those you already love.

We wish that you will forever see new ways of doing things – imagine and create new ideas and test them to see if they work.

We hope that you will always laugh a lot and know how good it feels to sing and dance.

We hope that passionate concentration for what you love always makes you happy.

We wish for you endless opportunities and connections….and of course for lots of your wishes to come true.

What have you wished for recently? I wish for you each to take a moment today and wish something inspiring for yourselves or the people you love!

How to Raise a Happy and Healthy Community

During curriculum night at my daughter’s preschool this week I was struck by some of the recurring themes they had around building community. It reminded me of a brief exchange with Rachel Happe recently following this tweet:Both our preschoolers are in emergent learning or child-led programs and I mentioned I should reread positive discipline to polish up my community management skills. There are so many parallels between the negative tweeter or blogger, forum member etc. and the misdirected child; they both need to be heard, be involved in the solution, share their ideas and they quickly become happy contributing members of the family/community.

I took the basics of the philosophy and updated them from child POV to more of a community-focused. Do you think your community meets these criteria?

  1. Helps community members feel a sense of connection. (A sense of belonging and significance)
  2. Is mutually respectful and encouraging. (Guidelines are kind but firm and people know what to expect)
  3. Is effective long term. (Considers what the member is thinking, feeling, learning, and deciding about himself and his community – and what to do in the future to thrive within this or the greater community/industry. Are you facilitating continual growth and learning experiences?)
  4. Supports important social and community skills. (Respect, concern for others, problem solving, and cooperation as well as the skills to contribute to the larger community.)
  5. Invites the community member to discover how capable they are. (Encourages the constructive use of personal power to solve problems and when/how to reach out for assistance when needed)

A Good Intention Clothes Itself In Sudden Power - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every community’s success is based on each individuals understanding of the core values and philosophy of the organization. Whether that organization is a preschool or a global corporation. Each year our daughter’s school goes over their intentions – more on this later – and their focus for the year. 2011-2012 brought us:

  • Strengthen the idea of school as a place of collaborative research.
  • Focus on exploring the values, structures and rituals that make up our school community.

Each classroom then decides how they will support those focuses – think taking corporate values and then creating departmental goals. Our class chose exploration around:

  • I am a contributing member of a community. To develop a learning community based on what each individual brings to the whole.
  • I am a communicator. To define and support how children document what is important to them and use their documentation for observation, reflection and sharing.

The teachers also invited parents to share their hopes, dreams and wishes for their child’s year. Our wish for our daughter was that she never stops asking questions that don’t have easy answers. The conversation following “Does King Tut, my goldfish and Jesus all play together now that they are dead?” has been an on-going discussion that isn’t answered with a yes/no.  I’ve been asked hard questions by members of the communities I participate in over the years and I approach them in the same way- from a place of curiosity and interest.

What is the focus for your community? How do you nurture and grow it? What is your “wish” for those communities you are a part of?