Good Morning, Everyone,
Muslim communities around the world are celebrating the end of Ramadan today, so ... Happy Eid!! This year during Ramadan, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Iftar--a breaking-of-the-fast meal at sunset--with three different communities & it was such a pleasure to be at each of these events: A public Unity Iftar on the street at Cedar Riverside before the all-night art festival Northern Spark, one family-style Iftar at a friend's restaurant, and one semi-private Iftar with a group of Sudanese men in St. Paul.
These beautiful communal feasts were filled with conversations about education, engineering, civil rights, faith devotion, and friendship ... Apparently, the FB creator guy was at an Iftar in Minneapolis this week, also.
FYI: As many of us already know, Minneapolis has one of the highest populations of East African folks in the US, and unfortunately our Muslim communities have been additionally targeted this year. Unity Iftar was a strong show of solidarity after the anti-Muslim protest at the capital in St. Paul on the same day. Ilhan Omar, who became the first Somali-American woman to get voted into the MN House of Representatives last year, along with multiple other legislative and faith-community figure-heads were at Unity Iftar showing support.
What's happening in the White House right now against Muslims and Somalis in regrettable. The sea of families out there wanting access to health care, employment, education, freedom of faith, and community should not be stigmatized for extremist acts, and I hope Ramadan celebrations have been fruitful for all community members involved. Thank you for being open to learning about different ways of life, not in separation, but in celebration.
In Faith, Community, and Love,
Jess, Andrew, and Lady. :)
Happy February 2017!!
I am pleased to announce, in case you have not already heard, that I have officially completed my Master of Social Work degree as of December 14, 2016. You know what that really means? That I have been reworking my resume these past weeks (how devastating, lol), that responsibilities are changing, and that there are no more papers due at midnight!
All-in-all, this has been a fantastic month full of decompression, transitional thinking, part-time care work, and the purchase of in-line skates because one of these Tuesdays I am actually going to make it to the open skate inside the new US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis!
The final month of the MSW was a big kick-in-the-face that ended with a sudden and glorious trip to Orlando with my husband Andrew. We managed to pack in a day-trip to Disney World's Magic Kingdom (with the best tour guide ever, Sharon!!) and then another day-trip to Kennedy Space Center (this flag was in SPACE!). These two places somehow sum up a vast foundation of love that I share for this United States of uncertain future. Magic & Science. :)
One culminating task of my MSW was the creation of this video called: Self-Discovery Planning. The video's primary feature is that it encourages curiosity in caring for ourselves. It's my own variation of self-care, which is a hot topic in health care fields and corporate settings (and probably all over else where, too). If you are in activist circles right now, please use this video to support yourself and those around you, as a bridge of hope, to strengthen your resolve. Because we need you to be doing your work, and I appreciate that you are out there doing it. Please take care of yourself.
As a way to support my community and love of nation, rather than protesting in the streets, I have been taking action by supporting local businesses. On the day of one of the biggest women's marches, my roommate Melinda and I went to get our hairs done (a rarity for me). I have also been eating at multi-cultural restaurants more frequently as a sign that America is and was built on the strength of multi-cultural communities. We must celebrate and embrace our rich ethnic, racial, gender, and economic diversity in order to maintain freedom within this nation of magic and science. I love you United States, God(s), family, and community. Everyone, please remember to be gentle.
Dear, Friends & Family,
Wow! Last month, after spending two years staring at classmates faces through the computer screen, I decided to find some cheap airline tickets to get me to LA & Chicago in order to visit some USC classmates and instructors (as well as to talk over career options in person with USC staff). Long story short, after visiting some of my most dear friends Anna & Charlie, a fellow intern and I ended up in the audience of Dancing With the Stars. As we know, those dancers are tough, beautiful, and dedicated. My favorite part, tho, was watching all the set changes during the commercials. Standing & seated we went between instructions to cheer, smile, and applaud. They somehow managed to put us in about the fourth row where some of the dancers friends weren't able to make it, so there we sat, me directly in the aisle next to the monster camera that was being pushed in people's faces. Lo and behold, that camera did manage to catch me and Kat right during a moment of appreciation, so good work for them! TV debut fun, lol! That's the short story this busy month.
First and most importantly I have to tell you that I have (approximately) 73 days left of a seven semester Master of Social Work program that started with me taking two classes a semester while working full-time and is ending with me taking fours classes + a 20-hour a week internship + working very part-time while developing programming for a long-term business. 73 days left, but obviously I'm not counting, lol!
A few months ago was my birthday (in case you missed it!) and what a wonderful day it was! We put the orb up in some party room of our apartment building, shared stories, and ate cake. Happy 34 years old ... simultaneously old and young depending on the perspective of the person I'm talking to. It was the most social and joyous birthday I have had in many years! Thank you to everyone who came out (& even brought gifts, lol). wow!. :)
In other news, I am engaged (OMG, wha!?). Sometime in July I ended up snuggling up next to this crazy, delightful, sharp, and generally sweet guy named Andrew during an all night downpour at a weekend art festival. Since then, we've gone to church together, played music together, drawn on my car together, burned ear candles together, practiced being engaged together, gone to a funeral together, shared a country club meal together while I accepted a scholarship, and drank numerous beverages together. He made me wooden frames for paintings that I have been carrying around for almost three years, so you can see why our hearts would be pretty content together. More news after grad school ends. :)
Lastly, remember that Day of the Dead is coming up at the end of the month. Please honor those folks who no longer breathe the Earth breath by doing a little dance and having a little drink (or whatever it is that you do). My roommate Melinda got me some Day of the Dead themed fingernail designs, so that'll be happening. Happy trick-or-treating, also! Thanks for reading if you made it this far. I love you, and I miss you (& did I mention that I will be in LA & Chicago early November? Are you there? Let me know!).
Next round I will tell you all about the Tiny House, Tea House! Bye for now. :) 💕
PS: DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!! (Early voting started in MN September 23!)
Dear Non-Burners & Burners alike,
For those of you who are scared of Burning Man, this message is for you. For those of you who love Burning Man, this message is for you. Burning Man is happening right now (one week in the desert of Nevada every year before Labor Day). Burning Man is based on ten principles: Radical inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-Reliance, Radical Self-Expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation, and Immediacy, yet mostly it is a big party in the desert. & I don't say 'party in the desert' lightly. I say it with serious dedication and conviction.
For any of us that dream, make, build, art, create, explore, and long for a better world and future, Burning Man is our place. For any of us that have felt neglected, alone, unloved, silenced, or in despair, Burning Man is our place. A little like being in love, Burning Man is hard to actually describe. It is simultaneously an ethos, an adventure, a community, an experiment, and an emotional & physical challenge. Everybody has a different reason for being there and a different path for getting there.
The important part about Burning Man for me, though, was that it gave me a place to grieve. A place to understand variations on grief & a place away from judgement. I love traditional churches for a lot of reasons. & I love Burning Man for even more reasons. The Burning Man Temple is a beckon of healing for anyone who wants to show up and do the work of healing, with only the call of your own need to heal as a guide ... which we all know is the call of the divine, anyway.
So tonight in honor of the Burning Man Temple burn, please raise a toast to all of those individuals who have been taken under unexpected or tragic circumstances or who have merely made an untimely departure on to their next journey. Sending lots of care and doggie love from the desktop of one frugal builder student creator who did not make it out to the playa this year (yet who sent cards out to the Temple, anyway, thanks to Larry the Engineer!). A special toast to Chris Feist and Andrew Wiechman for their recent family losses and huge hugs for everyone whose family is transitioning from some sort of loss. Here's to the road ahead with many years of revitalization beaming from that big party in the desert.
The Wishing Well Story
I had a wishing well outside my house when I was younger, from ages 3-18, I believe. A red one with a handle that you could turn in order to pretend like a bucket was actually going down into the depths of the earth to scoop up some delicious rejuvenating cave water. Two years ago, as I was helping my cousin remodel his house in North Omaha, I decided to make awishing well out of scrap wood for the yard. Like most things I create, this well was thought-through in stages. We had bricks outside that I started stacking in circles piled on top of one another. Then I decided I would use wood to form a similar base. I cut all the wooden pieces about the same size as the bricks and screwed them stacked together one-by-one; I found some 1x material to use as the sill and then built a crooked little topper that crowned the whole ensemble.
On August 28, 2014, I placed the wishing well on the front stoop of my cousin's house after his sudden and tragic passing. A month later, I moved the wishing wellinto a friend's garden before moving to Minneapolis to continue my next leg of schooling. I left North Omaha with a stronger sense of fear and despair in my heart than I have ever experienced before; all piled in right next to all the joy and love that I am so fortunate to have been surrounded by since birth. This spring, about 18 months later, I went looking for my wishing well. I was told that the garden which it had been left in had been on an abandoned lot which had recently been demo-ed for reconstruction. This, as much as I was interested in continuing work on the well, I found quite fitting and rather comforting, so I put that thought down until it resurfaced a few weeks ago at a festival.
One of the finely crafted exhibits at this weekend art festival was a timely reincarnated version of my crooked little salvaged well; except that this wishingwell was not only elegantly laced with a human-scaled flower walkway but was meant to be a place to hold one's written reflections, joys, and grievances. And so, after standing next to this well in awe of my own journey through grief ... in awe of the sheer time grief takes out of and makes into our lives, I took a moment to read other peoples wishes, thoughts, comments, and reflections. I wrote a note to the carriers of wishes in this well and decided to file my past away, to the extent that anyone really can, and I smiled as a wish I had forgotten making was coming true.
The spirit of the wishing well is a profoundly centering and consuming force and I thank the well makers for emboldening that force. It was in this place and time that I was gifted the opportunity to write down a few simple words within a crowd of artisans and creators that helped me put away my self-blame. From birth to death, the cycle continues, and my grief-released appreciation is unbounded.
Sent with love by Jess and Lady dog.
Hello! Happy end of May!
Tiny Houses! As many of you know I have been endlessly interested in the Tiny House movement. From attending a tiny house workshop with trend-setter Dee Williams in 2014, to preparing a permitting advocacy power-point presentation for a macro class last semester, to just generally living within and exploring small spaces, I have been hooked! Last weekend I connected with the Tiny House Meet-up Group here in Minneapolis and toured the NextDoor Housing granny pod.
This handicap accessible, transportable house is meant to be placed within a city backyard when a short-term health issue arises with a family's senior. These homes allow for family members to stay close to each other rather than hassling with distant care facilities. The NextDoor Housing team has just spent eight months getting their Temporary Dwelling Bill passed into law, effective September 1, allowing for 6-12 month temporary permits for the homes. This is a huge success for alternative housing!
Work! So, today I am back sitting in the spacious circular receptionist desk on the 13th floor temp-ing for the day with Meet Minneapolis. The view to the Cesar Pelli downtown library is just a glance away, and I have the freedom to work on schoolwork while getting paid (a nice perk for being at a desk at all!). ;)
Life! Before summer semester started a few weeks ago, I was having the most blissful Spring Break. My journey through my home state of South Dakota was filled with swing dance, games with kids, family dinners, hot tub adventures, and random backyard conversations; plus, the scenic drive was most pleasant... Then, I enjoyed working on my trailer for a few weeks -- after getting an obstruction permit for temporary street parking. I mounted the three solar panels, reorganized the interior, and brainstormed options for best ways to utilize the small space. Mostly, I'm excited to be showing the orb and the solar trailer at the Tiny House Expo, October 1 ... I, also, returned to the Lindy Hop scene in May and have been having an absolute ball taking the weekly dance classes -- while desperately trying to follow without back leading, lol! Fun times!
Painting! For weeks now I have been working on updating the paint job on both the orb and the Subaru. The orb (full photos coming soon) is now a vibrant blue and the base is a bright grass green (earth & sky)... The multi-colored Subaru got a little mellower with a primarily sky blue body that is now blending in more with her other car friends. I have to admit that I am missing the pink hood, but I am appreciating the simple calming blues.
School! I am happy to report that five days before the start of summer semester (semester 6 of 7!), a spot opened up in a class that I have been wanting to take since I started this part-time Master of Social Work program. Welcome, Jess, to Program Development and Grant Writing (woot!)! Also this semester is a macro social work internship, a research evaluation class, and a management class. MSW completion is set for December 2016. Count down in-progress!
Love to everyone, thank you for reading, and drop me a message or a postcard if you get the chance. Peace!
In case you haven't been told, spring (and rain) has hit Minneapolis! There are tulips in front of my place that I never knew existed, my first-ever bird-feeder is slowly being found and utilized, and I have purchased a grill to use sometime after I submit the last two papers of the semester (one. more. day!).
What else is happening, you ask?
Well, I am planning an epic trip to the Burning Man regional event Flipside in Austin this Memorial Day (fantastic!)... I (re)start Lindy Hop classes in May!... The orb got to experiment as a sleeping nook and node earrings got made... I have spent some major energy this past month processing some childhood trauma (yoiks and relief!)... I'm getting lots of snuggles from the animals in the house (two dogs and one cat)... I didn't make it to the next round of my EMT summer internship application... I didn't get selected for a grant to Northern Spark in June... I looked at a 700 sq ft house complete with bay window, radiant floor heating, large yard, slab for the orb, and an opportunity to remodel the kitchen... I got my first 3D printed thing in the mail care of https://printathing.com/ ... and I started a new online internship for grad school with http://sisgigroup.org/... (whew!)
My two final papers involve 1) designing a support group for survivors of natural disasters and 2) examining social change efforts supporting survivors of abuse and human trafficking -- in Nepal, specifically. Thanks to a local MN woman for sharing her story (not Nepal related)!! Needlessness to say, I have been taking as many breaks as possible while writing on such heavy topics. My heart goes out infinitely, though, to anyone who has experienced trafficking or sexual/ emotional abuse. Support ending modern day slavery by using #enditmovement or contributing to a not-for-profit campaign such as 3 Angels Nepal.
Finally, the last day of finals is tomorrow and then a trip to friends and family in South Dakota will have arrived just in time to start spring break (hopefully with less rain and more BBQ!). Happy Spring, everyone!
Peace and love,
Joy Spreading Since 2007