Thursday, February 19, 2009

Have a Seat

Today is a long post.  Prepare.

Welcome Newcomers!  Hopefully there are a handful of you joining this remarkable community for day ONE of year TWO.  Highlowaha is a gathering of people from around the world, willing to share their energy and creativity for the good of community.  You're in for a fun ride.

Returners, you've noticed some changes.  Most obvious are the bright and shinning faces joining me at the table on the front page of our NEW WEBSITE.  If one creative and committed person could host so much good in a single year, then just imagine what the five of us will do!

Cheryl, Heather, Katie, (and you) will join me at the table this year, in delivering the new ideas, engaging activities, and thoughtful projects presented to you each morning (except Sunday).  In case you think I cooked up this idea last week, not a chance.  This idea has been in the works since September.  I bent the ear of many a friend and confidante, as I evaluated the pros and cons.  Ultimately I concluded, that when it comes to creativity and community, there cannot be too much of a good thing.

That's what I present to you today... A LOT of a good thing.  

Weekly planning meetings began in December, so we could begin thinking through, not only a seamless transition, but one that I think will knock your socks off.  So committed are we to spreading Highlowaha's Spirit of #218, that weekly phone calls often occurred under all sorts of imperfect circumstances.  To say they are like postmen, faithfully delivering in spite of rain, snow, sleet, or shine seems, particularly appropriate when in the company of this Snail-Mail-lovin' group.

Before I get down to the business of formally introducing our new and improved Highlowaha Team, a few more points to kick off the new year.
  • Now we're a website and a blog!  This is great news for all of you who have lost hours searching old posts for a particular announcement or pieces of information.  Over time, we will use the website to better organize all the happenings of our active community.
  • Don't want to bother with all the "other" stuff?  Get right down to business by clicking on the button labeled, "Blog."
  • Don't get ahead of yourself by exploring all the tabs... yet.  Most of the links will not be activated until we touch on the subject during Orientation Week, next week.  Newcomers, you won't want to miss this week, as it is everything you need/want to know to in order to jump right in.
  • You will notice the archive of posts from 2/18/08 - 2/18/09 is gone.  That's the beauty of surrounding yourself with so much collective creativity.  Who needs last year's old ideas when we can generate a whole new year's worth.  In love with a particular post?  Have no fear... we are looking into creating a Best of 2008 Highlowaha book.  
Now, introductions (even for those who think you already know us)...  

We represent a range of perspectives which, I am certain, will make daily posts more fun and interesting to read (though you will never know which of us will be posting on a given day).  The variety means Anon and other readers who can't relate to me, because they think my antics are over the top, will find a friend in one of the other three carefully selected women.  Our differences were never more clear than the the week we ended up talking about my Annual Sweet Cereal Day.  

I thought it could be fun to introduce each of the new Highlowaha Team members with a short introduction and then a snippet from our Sweet Cereal conversation.  It will give great insight into what you can expect from us throughout the year.

Me (Claudia): I am a 43 year old mother of three boys (Ricky, 16; Matthew, 4; and Jack, 1).  My husband (Richard), my boys, and I moved to Grapevine, Texas about a year ago.  Originally I am from New York (but have lived in a variety of places over the past 20+ years).  After a two-year hiatus, I have returned to my former career working in higher education, at the University of North Texas.  I must have been an event planner in a former life, because I see everything through the lenses of a party.  Me on sweet cereal...  
"No.  You can't just willy nilly let your kids eat sweet cereal every day.  In my house it an annual tradition.  We eat it one day a year - January 13, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I make a really big deal out of it.  I use special bowls, special spoons, and we talk for days in advance about what kind of cereal we're going to eat.  If I was really good, I get balloons and have a banner in the kitchen too!"
Cheryl: Cheryl is a 38 year old, single mother with two boys (Drew, 8 and J.B., 7), who works.  She is a scanner-artist, which is to say she dabbles in a lot of creative ventures, but claims never to finish any of them.  Cheryl grew up in Texas, did a short stint in Utah, and returned to Texas a couple of years ago, where one fateful night we met at a neighborhood Bunco.   Cheryl is the swift hand behind the creation of our beloved blog friend, Ray Wattson.  Unlike me, Cheryl doesn't bog herself down with a bunch of needless rules.  Instead, she embraces the stress free spirit of "live and let live."  Her response to my description of Annual Sweet Cereal Day...
"What, you don't let your kids eat sweet cereal for dinner?  Gosh in my house it's a staple."

Heather: Heather is a 28 year old working mother of one little girl, Lily (20 months).  Heather and her husband, Bal, recently moved to Grapevine Texas, so Heather could accept a position as Director of Judicial Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington.  Heather and I met while working at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.  As an added bonus, Heather's husband works with my husband (what do you think they talk about over lunch?).  Heather grew up as one of seven children, in a single parent household.  I say that to help explain why "Frugal" could very well be Heather's middle name.  Here's her thought on sweet cereal...  
"In my house, when you eat sweet cereal is determined by when it is on sale in the grocery store.  Period."

CSPgrad: Katie is a 22 year old graduate student at James Madison University, in Virigina.  She recently graduated from Bellarmine University, where Katie, Heather, and I all originally met.   I keep trying to convince Katie she should change the spelling of her name to "Catie."  That way whenever she had to participate in fun Student Affairs icebreakers (yes, she is also headed for a career in Student Affairs), she could introduce herelf as "Conscientious Catie."  Among some of Katie's "favorites" are: being conscientious, music, driving, Reeses cups, and thinking (so, thinking, while driving in a car listening to music and eating Reeses might very well be Katie's nirvana). She loves to reflect and, in fact, has been faithfully emailing me her weekly "high," "low," and "aha," since freshmen year - 5 years ago.  Here's her take on sweet cereal...
"Actually, you each kind of have a point.  I can see the value in all three of your approaches.  Really it just depends on the situation." 
You:  You are the fifth valued team member seated at our table.  We fully expect that, each day, you will use the comment section to share your ideas and perspectives. How about starting today by telling us your take on eating sweet cereal.  

In closing...  
This change to Highlowaha represents my desire to test the theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  By intentionally sharing the helm, instead of protecting my place at the helm, I expect our community to grow in big and inspiring ways.  We will meet far more people, embark on far more interesting adventures, swap more creative ideas than could ever be implemented in a year, and create ripples of kindness that will multiply exponentially.

If you believe it's possible, then meet us here again tomorrow.

Signing off until tomorrow, when guess who kicks off Free For All Friday...

1 comment:

Stacie said...

For once in my life, I am the first commenter of the day! Perhaps this is because I haven't gone to bed yet, and you have posted exceedingly early in the morning (I believe it's barely after midnight in TX??). I'll take what I can get. My take on sweet cereal: I eat it at any time of day, and I have no guilt. In fact, I don't believe in food guilt, whether or not cereal is the food in question. It makes an excellent between-meal snack, and as a bonus, it was one of the few things I could regularly eat while pregnant. Fruity Pebbles are my sweet cereal of choice, and tired of cafeteria food after three years, I ate them for dinner almost every night of my senior year of college. This was always followed by a "snack" of Frosted Mini-Wheats, without milk, eaten popcorn-style--a sweet cereal which also happens to provide 90% of the daily allowance of iron, if anyone cares.

Can't wait to see what kind of fun all the big changes bring!