Thursday, December 31, 2009
From the Herald-Times, December 31, 2009
Today, we find ourselves on the cusp of a new year and a new decade, a significant time to write a column. This calls for another visit with The Fortune Teller.
Her parlor smells of lavender and mint. The curtains are pulled over the windows for now, so we can focus on the task at hand. She gently places her crystal ball on the table. She is glad to be back, eager to reveal messages that may be helpful at this time.
“What is your question?” she asks.
I think for a moment, then say, “what do my readers and I need to know as we enter this new decade?”
She nods and centers herself, then begins moving her hands over the mysterious orb. I notice a new ring on her hand. She winks. A gift from a loved one.
The fog inside the crystal ball begins to clear, revealing a scene from Australia’s Sydney Harbor. I recognize this scene: the millennium celebration on New Year’s Eve, 1999. A gigantic smiling face on the Harbor Bridge, lit up, winking beneath fireworks shooting endlessly into the night sky.
“This decade began with a peculiar mix of hope and fear,” she says. “We were full of hope with the coming of the new millennium, yet we were so afraid of the unknown, embodied in the Y2K scare, which never materialized.”
Sydney and the fireworks fade away, and a new scene is revealed from beneath the Fortune Teller’s hands. Under a bright blue sky over Manhattan, the airplane crashes into one of the World Trade Center towers.
“This is how our fear was manifested,” she says. “In the absence of solid leadership, our nation spent the next seven years scrambling and fumbling in the shock waves.”
She cups her hands around the ball again. The scene changes to the mall in Washington, D.C., on a frigid day, filled with masses of people. Barack Obama stands at the podium, preparing to give his inauguration speech.
“Here is where hope made its return,” she says. “The final year of this decade began with a similar mixture of hope and fear as did the decade as a whole.”
The Fortune Teller relates this to her own life. She sadly recalls a recent gathering in which a family member turned her back on her because of their differing political beliefs. This had never happened before. In spite of differences, politics had never caused a rift like this in her family.
She redirects her attention back to the crystal ball as it reveals a final scene. The Grand Canyon, seen from above in all its vastness. A beautiful, undeniable split in the earth. We pan right down into the split, revealing layers of complexity on either side.
“There is wisdom in this complexity,” says the Fortune Teller. “We are living the split right now. Rather than fighting it and feeling hostile toward the other side, we need to explore its complexity. Difference can be seen as a gift. We need to put our fear aside and seek understanding. I challenge you to go to the person most different from you and begin a conversation.”
I notice my resistance to this challenge. To be honest, I’d prefer to wait for the “other side” to approach me first. This is something to think about.
I thank the Fortune Teller for her messages and weave them into my intentions for the coming year.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
By Kim Evans
As I sit nestled on my living room sofa, I glance at our Christmas tree and think about how every tree tells a story.
We cut this tree on our annual pilgrimage to Fowler’s Tree Farm, where we have found our tree almost every year since I was a girl. Each time I set foot on this particular piece of land, I remember myself at age 8 in my orange flowered coat with the fur-lined hood, hiking on the hill that overlooked many magical acres of Christmas trees in their natural form.
Early in our marriage, my husband and I were opposed to the idea of killing a tree just for use as a decoration in our home. So we went to the tree farm and pulled what I recall was a large branch off a brush pile. The proprietor let us take that one home for free. The following year, I came to the conclusion that Christmas trees on a farm were planted with the intention of being cut, therefore I wasn’t violating any laws of nature. I am glad I allowed myself that process, because it’s no good kicking off the holiday season with a sense of guilt.
Last weekend we joined my mom and dad and went to Fowler’s again. I was sad to learn that owner Harry Fowler had passed away earlier in the year at the age of 93. With this reminder of how quickly time passes, I wonder if my daughter will continue enjoying the tradition of visiting the tree farm as she grows into her teen years. So far I see no signs of her enthusiasm waning, and I value the significance of the shared experience with her grandparents – a special bridge between three generations.
I look at our tree again, now decorated and glittering with lights. I could write an entire story about the ornaments alone. There’s the God’s eye I made in kindergarten, a simple decoration formed by criss-crossing two twigs with yarn woven around in a diamond pattern, forming a bright orange “eye” at the center. There’s also the pine cone I spray-painted and sprinkled with glitter that same year. I’m so glad my mom saved these treasures for me.
I see the white star from Olivia’s first year in preschool, colored by her small hand with blue marker and garnished with gold glitter.
I see the small scroll of sheet music for “Silent Night” hanging from a low branch, a gift from one of my husband’s students during his band directing years.
My favorite ornaments are the ceramic Rudolph, Clarice, and King Moonracer purchased in 1999 at the Morgantown IGA. Each year I pull these boxes out of our ornament bin, slightly more tattered than the year before, I remember our home in Morgantown and the transitional years we spent there.
Seasonal rituals and objects contain keys to our history, and holding them opens up a part of our heart that transcends the moment. This is a real piece of magic, a wonderful gift, if we slow down enough to notice.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
By Kim Evans
Maybe I’m clairvoyant.
A few nights ago, I dreamt of jumping from a very high place into a body of water. I was airborne for quite awhile, which gave me plenty of time to wonder how much it was going to hurt once I hit the water.
The very next day, I took my daughter to see a movie with a scene eerily similar to my dream, shown from the perspective of the lead character as she dove off a high cliff into the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
So let’s entertain the idea that I am clairvoyant, a fortune-teller who sees past, present and future.
This fortune-teller now places her crystal ball on the table. She moves her hands over the ball in circular motion. A mist forms inside. She is transported back to 1993, the date of her wedding. The setting is the John Waldron Arts Center. Hers is one of the first weddings to be held in this space after its renovation. Show tunes from “West Side Story” are played by a brass band as the guests are seated. She walks down the aisle and stands at the altar facing her husband to be.
Afterwards, the happy bride and groom descend the stairwell and make their way through the joyous crowd to the limo waiting outside on Walnut Street.
The scene fades out as a new vision emerges within the crystal ball. It is 2006, and there is an 8-year-old girl in costume performing on the very same stage where her parents were married 13 years earlier. The fortune teller unmistakably recognizes this is her daughter portraying Chip, the teacup in the musical “Beauty and the Beast,” a performance by a local children’s theater group. The fortune teller sees herself and her husband watching the performance, caught up in the pride and synchronicity of the moment.
Next, the crystal ball reveals a more recent scene where the fortune teller sees herself again enjoying a performance at the Waldron Auditorium, a night out with friends at Cardinal Stage Company’s performance of “Boom.” The stage design is perfect for the space, the acting is superb, and she is reminded why she loves Bloomington so much.
She prompts her crystal ball for more visions. The mist once again swirls and reveals a scene in which someone is throwing many years’ worth of theater costumes into a dumpster. Conference tables and chairs fill the space left empty by the removal of the costumes. Bloomington Area Arts Council leaders are scratching their heads over financial spreadsheets. Headlines in The Herald-Times reveal that the BAAC have raised their rates well beyond the point of affordability for our local performing arts groups, therefore cutting them out of their very own market.
The fortune-teller is anxious now as she feels the opportunity for more fond memories at this local theater venue fading away. In a panic, she asks the crystal ball for one more vision, one of the future that shows how this situation will be resolved.
The mist swirls and swirls, and finally, a scene is revealed. The BAAC leaders, realizing they have acted rashly out of a sense of panic about finances, extend an invitation into meaningful communication with the very groups who have a vested history and interest in the Waldron’s performing arts venues.
Through a series of meetings, a win-win situation emerges. The fortune-teller is relieved that fairness prevailed.
Kim Evans is a Bloomington native and IU graduate who moved back to Bloomington in 2005 to open her graphic design studio, raise her family and circle back to her writing. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
By Kim Evans
for The Herald-Times,
October 22, 2009
The Oct. 26 issue of Time Magazine features a poll that reveals the staggering but not surprising result that while women now comprise 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, they report feeling less happy than they did in 1972.
From my perspective, the root of the unhappiness is this: in our climb to prominence in the working world, most women have not given up their role as homemaker; they’ve merely added professional work on top of it.
By my calculation, that’s two full-time jobs.
Men try to help with housework. I know they do. But I’m convinced their brains are not wired to multi-task like ours are. Allow me to introduce the Never-Ending Mental Checklist. Mine looks something like this:
Don’t forget to make sure the gecko’s water dish is full; you don’t want it to die of dehydration and make your daughter sad; help the 13-year old dog down the stairs, encourage her to go outside to do her business WHILE fixing breakfast and packing lunch for your daughter AND making sure she has all her homework, permission slips, and school materials packed and ready to go, KEEPING IN MIND the bills that need to be paid and the bank run that MUST BE DONE before the automated mortgage payment overdraws the checking account WHILE confirming with your mother that yes, it would be WONDERFUL if she could visit with your daughter after school, but FIRST let me check the calendar to make sure there aren’t scheduling conflicts because there MIGHT be a soccer make-up game tonight, or there might be horseback riding, or a school event, and there’s ALWAYS the required amount of time each evening for homework with extra help on math because no one in our family truly GETS this Everyday Math stuff, so not only do I need to help my daughter, I need to teach it to MYSELF first lest I show her the wrong way, causing her to do poorly on her ISTEP test and – HELLO – the cat just knocked the brownies on the floor and OH YEAH I wanted to print out a piece of writing for class today AND will I have time to take a shower before I go; I want to be fresh because I’d better drum up more freelance work, so gear up to sell, sell, sell, THEN later that evening, Dear Husband agrees to cook dinner while you write your newspaper column but you feel compelled to remind him to butter BOTH sides of the bread before he grills the sandwiches AND you are fully aware that soup and sandwiches are the last meal in the fridge before another grocery run is needed and WOW that new Kroger is humongous and where did I put those coupons THEN consider one more time HOW you can fit some exercise into your schedule and think SERIOUSLY are you really going to have time to MAKE all those Christmas gifts and WOW what a beautiful Fall evening it finally is, when are we going to find time to take a family hike, much less get our pumpkins and where DID the days go when we rode a hay wagon to the pumpkin patch and took photos of our little girl like your friend just posted on her Facebook page, which reminds you to update your status so your friends don’t think you’ve withered away, but haven’t you done just that?
Calgon, take me back to 1972. (Did I just say that?)
Friday, October 16, 2009
An exhibit celebrating outstanding alumni of the Visual Communications program at Ivy Tech Community College, Columbus.
Sept 20th - Dec 31st
Columbus Learning Center
- Graphic Design
4555 Central Avenue
Columbus, Indiana 47203
Monday - Thursday 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
I'm excited to say that some of my graphic design work is represented in this gallery show. I'm honored to be included. There is an opening reception next week that I am planning to attend. What should I wear? It's all about me, right? (Note: the figure in the promo photo is not me.)
Here is one of my pieces on display:
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
What’s truly hopeful is that we have the means to evoke more goodness from one another. I have witnessed the astonishing power of good listening and healing available when someone gives voice to her experience. I have also learned that when we begin listening to each other, and when we talk about things that matter to us, the world begins to change. –Margaret Wheatley, Turning to One Another
This quote takes me back to a paper I wrote during my senior year at IU. It’s somewhere in a dusty cardboard box in my basement now, but I recall the topic was about listening – listening as a means to facililtate change. Looking back, I think I was on to something. As a 22-year old, I didn’t think I had much wisdom to offer, although I think I got an A on my paper.
Current events have me once again thinking about listening, and how we don’t do it well in our culture. Listening is fundamental to a civil society, and one could argue that the lack of listening has reached a crisis level in our country.
Listening is something that is demanded of children, yet we forget there is a difference between merely hearing and truly listening. Listening is a learned skill.
Learning to listen is reinforced in one of the earliest places of learning, the classroom. Why is our state considering beefing up subject matter training for teachers when they really need more support in how to facilitate the learning that occurs in their classrooms?
Striving for more and more expertise is an investment in mastery that isn’t necessary. What good would the enhanced subject material do for students don’t know how to listen well? Wouldn’t learners be better served by a teacher who is invested in providing an environment where these students can take more responsibility for their own learning?
We are a resource-rich nation. Placing the expert label on teachers sets up a dangerous model for learners to always be searching outside of themselves for the answers.
This is what is playing out in our country right now, and it isn’t working.
I spent several months earlier this year in a leadership training group where we practiced active listening. Our sessions took place in circles, where each individual could see the others, face-to-face. There’s something about sitting in a circle that provides better acoustics for listening. Perhaps it is because there are no corners. The leader sat in the circle and participated with the rest of the group rather than professing to be an expert on the subject matter (although she was the creator of the program).
Each voice was valued equally in this circular setting. The introverts had equal opportunity to share with the extraverts. We reflected listening to one another by recording powerful “readback” lines from one another’s writing and sharing these lines with the group. What a wonderful feeling it is to be listened to in this way. And it is a great way to lift up themes coming from the group for further exploration.
I facilitate writing workshops using this model. It is a joy to witness the rapid improvement in confidence, voice, and writing ability in young writers over the course of even a single session. I believe this is a direct result of the active listening we practice.
Perhaps this is an over-simplification of a complex issue. Yet it is true that listening is foundational to a civil society. Try a simple experiment today. When having a conversation, repeat back one phrase to the person who spoke it. Begin with “So I hear you saying…” Don’t interpret. Just repeat what you heard.
See what happens.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
- Being away from my family for seven full days in June — the longest separation I’ve had from my daughter. While I was away, we talked on the phone as she was putting her very first batch of homemade scones in the oven. This produced a flash of awareness that, at age 11, she doesn’t need as much help in the kitchen as much as she used to.
- Sneaking away one evening to meet my husband halfway between Bloomington and Cincinnati at a Batesville pizzeria for dinner — being reminded that the most romantic dates are those that aren’t set up to be romantic.
- The feeling of terror upon finding out my 70-year old father fell off a ladder while trimming a tree near his house. Relief that he only has a small fracture in his lower back that should heal up just fine.
- The realization of a dream to offer a Young Women Writing for (a) Change circle in our community.
- Making moon-blessed water: setting out a jar under the full moon — an emerging tradition between mother and daughter, daughter and friends.
- Moon jellyfish glowing in the ocean near our feet as we walked along the beach at night while on vacation in coastal Alabama.
- Floating on the waves.
- Watching my nephew’s theater camp performance of “Man in the Mirror,” then finding out about Michael Jackson’s death right after the show concluded.
- Late-night firefly shows. There’s nothing like fireflies in Indiana.
- Discovering how a sensitive person is prone to difficulties with reading Harry Potter books at bedtime. “He Who Shall Not Be Named” has a tendency to creep into one’s dream life and frighten one into a shivering crouched position on top of the toilet seat.
- Letters from a reader, reminding me of the “I-me-my” syndrome in my columns — that I am close to Bob Hammel’s record (which isn’t such a bad thing in my book).
- Sharing Mom’s peanut shell antics with Herald-Times readers — Mom saying she felt “like a celebrity” that day.
- The sights and sounds of Drum and Bugle Corps performances in Lucas Oil stadium, sitting between my brother and husband, reminiscing about our involvement in the activity more than 20 years ago (has it really been that long?), all in agreement that Indiana University’s Memorial Stadium offers a much better atmosphere for the experience.
- Buying fresh basil from my friend Denise at the farmer’s market.
- The unusual coolness and low humidity — not so conducive to juicy red tomatoes in my garden.
- Retiring my daughter’s purple L.L. Bean dolphin backpack from school use, the one she has used since first grade, not due to wear and tear, but because she’s grown into a more stylish, over-the-shoulder, messenger bag for sixth grade.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
The old man and the tree: a journey on an unmarked trail
By Kim Evans
Herald-Times Bloomington, Ind.
July 2, 2009
It’s summer, and my thoughts turn toward vacation. It was about this time twelve years ago that my husband and I had a memorable vacation experience hiking in the Smoky Mountains. The beginning of the story finds us enjoying the earthy sights and smells of the forest, noticing the unique air quality here – the moistness, the pure freshness – as if the forest were inside a cave with a view.
Then we begin to see that the trails aren’t marked as clearly as we are accustomed to back in Indiana. In fact, as we hike on, the trail markers disappear altogether. We are still on a trail, but we no longer know which trail. According to the map, we should have looped back to the campground by now. I am tired and hungry, and unbeknownst to me, hormonal from the early stages of pregnancy. A layer of fear begins to emerge in me like a thin sheet of fog at ground level.
Finally, we descend a hill and spot a paved road. My emotions are lifted slightly by this vision of civilization, but we have no idea which way to turn. There is a fifty percent chance of getting lost even further. No cars pass by; there is no one to flag down and ask for directions. I know of nothing to do but sit down on the side of the road and weep. We are lost in the Smoky Mountains. Score: Smokies:1; Kim and Trent: 0. I clasp my hands, rest my forehead on my knuckles, and pray for help.
Within moments we see a man walking along the road toward us, whistling and carrying a small pine tree in his hands. It occurs to me that this man might possibly be the answer to our call for help. Could an angel appear in the form of an old guy carrying a pine tree? I struggle to grasp the immediacy and humor with which our prayer may have been answered.
We explain to the man that we are lost. He tells us his friends are following him in a van, and they could give us a ride back to camp, as long as we promise not to tell anyone they are digging up pine trees from national park property. We accept his offer with gratitude, happy to trade mild lawlessness for a ride home.
The van appears. The man opens the hatch and adds his tree to the collection in the trunk. He introduces us to his friends, three couples altogether, well into their retirement years, partying and stealing pine trees in their boogie van. I suddenly have a vision of how fun old age could be.
We discover that our campground is about 11 miles from where they picked us up. We arrive safely and thank them all profusely, our new friends we will probably never see again. We slide the van door open and hop out, glad to be back on familiar ground. I had been to the forest and back, lost, then found, and was about to become aware of the larger journey I was beginning: the journey into motherhood, not unlike a hike deep into the woods with unmarked trails.
This summer we are heading straight down I-65 to the beach. If you happen to be on Dauphin Island, Alabama the last week of July, you’ll hopefully find me walking in the sand, hand in hand with my husband and daughter, listening to the ocean, feeling anything but lost.