Thursday, December 31, 2009

A look back over the past decade brings wisdom for the future

By Kim Evans
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

Seasonal rituals and objects transcend the moment, open the heart

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

Communication needed to find affordable rates for Waldron Arts Center

By Kim Evans

December 3, 2009 The Herald-Times, Bloomington, IN

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mixed messages abound for our dual purpose, multi-tasking girlfriends

A couple of weeks ago, while walking through the mall with my daughter, I passed the window ads for the latest Victoria’s Secret push-up bra. Irritated by the message these ads send my daughter who is on the cusp of adolescence, I found myself wondering just how important it is to “Be a Bombshell.”

Do women really want or need to be an overwhelming surprise? As in, “oops, I’m so sorry I knocked you over with the force of my super-sized, pushed-up breasts.”

Conversely, do we really want to engage in the use of smoke-and-mirrors, which sets the stage for disillusionment as soon as the bra hits the floor?

And I find the parallel between physical attractiveness and a military weapon very strange.

It’s all an illusion.

Then, last week, I read a friend’s post on Facebook about her recent experience as a passenger on a flight where she was asked to cover up while nursing her baby (her story was highlighted in Dann Denny’s article on Nov. 15). My thoughts immediately went back to the Victoria’s Secret ads.

We’ve heard this debate before, but once again, I find myself wondering why the sexual display of breasts is more socially acceptable than the natural, biological one.

Despite popular belief, breasts do have a function beyond sensuality, a function that provides optimal nutrition and nurturing to babies. Dual purpose, multi-tasking girlfriends, they are indeed. And there’s nothing more real, more down-to-earth, more lacking in illusion, than nursing.

I am a modest person. Because of this, nursing in public took me to the edge of my comfort zone. When my daughter was 4 months old, I was in the bridal party for my brother’s wedding. I made the mistake of buying a gown that was not nursing-friendly. As a result, I spent a large part of the reception in the women’s restroom, undressed from the waist up, nursing my hungry, over-stimulated baby.

On another occasion, I was in the stands at a high school marching band competition, sitting with my mother, baby in arms. When my daughter needed to nurse, Mom, in an effort to be helpful, pulled a baby blanket out of the diaper bag and inadvertently made a huge production draping it over me, which was probably more distracting than simply nursing discretely would have been. And to top it off, my daughter kicked the blanket off within minutes.

In spite of these challenges, I persisted.

Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion and comfort level. But I wish people would try to be more understanding. I’ve written before about the balancing act women find themselves in. Women don’t nurse in public to make a point or be exhibitionist. They need to take care of their children.

I applaud local restaurants for welcoming customers of all ages, and I hope people will not boycott Bloomington’s “breastaurants” because they fear these establishments are full of topless women wandering the aisles with a baby hanging off each breast.

Have faith. Have tolerance. Most people abide by table manners in public. Breastfeeding can be done with table manners in mind. As the popular commercial says, “ya gotta eat,” and that means nursing babies, too.

I’d rather my daughter see a mother nursing her baby in public than those ridiculous posters in the mall. Perhaps if there weren’t such a stigma attached to breastfeeding, more women would choose to nurse, and our culture’s obsession with breasts would subside. Then our girlfriends could enjoy a happy return to their natural function and size.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

“This Is It” a riveting documentary of Jackson’s gifts and legacy

November 5, 2009

I am fascinated by the link between music and memory. Isn’t it amazing how a certain song or melody can transport you back to a pinpointed moment in your personal history? When you think about it, each of our lives has a soundtrack.

In the 1980s, with the debut of the MTV sensation, the dynamic pairing of music and video entered the scene. Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” is one song that stands out to me: the bass line slinking in to set the tone, the syncopated keyboard hits, MJ’s pulsing vocals and the squares in the pavement that lit up as he stepped on them. This memory takes me to Campus Casino, a high school hangout on Kirkwood in the ’80s. This was a fun place for teenagers, full of arcade games, a pizza parlor and a huge video screen where music videos flickered throughout the evening.

So many Michael Jackson songs project onto the movie screen of my high school years. I remember the feel of the living room rug underneath me as I sat on the floor, watching the debut of the Thriller video.

That’s why I bought advance tickets to see “This Is It.” This documentary film features two hours of footage recorded during rehearsals for the already sold-out Michael Jackson concerts that would have taken place in London this past summer. The footage was originally intended for Jackson’s personal library rather than the general public. But as the tragic end of his life unfolded, the documentary suddenly became viable as the public’s last glimpse of Jackson’s work.

I found the movie riveting, not only because I am dazzled by Michael Jackson’s talent and the rhythms of his music, but also because it was an intimate look at how he worked on his art. His personal life may have been a shambles, but the man had laser focus and was able to balance this intensity with nothing but love and kindness toward the musicians, dancers, producers, and crew with whom he collaborated.

Jackson’s work ethic was nothing short of inspiring. It was as if he were performing for a sold-out concert arena every time he stepped on the rehearsal stage, even though his audience was a mere dozen or so of his backup dancers and crew. He’d apologize to his team if he occasionally needed to back off the vocals to save his voice.

I was touched by the tenderness with which Kenny Ortega, creative partner and director, worked with him. In one poignant scene, he urges Michael to hold on to the handrails during his first test run on the cherry picker that would carry him out over the audience. It was as if Ortega knew how fragile Michael was. I found myself wishing Ortega had been this father figure for Michael when he was a child.

I cringed over the years as Jackson’s face made its very public transfiguration into what looked like a mask. But he took off his mask in order to perform. The man we saw on stage was the true essence of Michael Jackson. The stage was the venue where he was his best self. I am thankful for the contribution Jackson made to the movie screen and soundtrack of my life.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A glimpse into one woman’s never-ending mental checklist

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

"Exceeding Expectations" Exhibit

An exhibit celebrating outstanding alumni of the Visual Communications program at Ivy Tech Community College, Columbus.

Sept 20th - Dec 31st

Columbus Learning Center

Columbus, Indiana

- Graphic Design

- Photography

- Illustration

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

When car shopping, don’t rule out the potential for serendipity

Community Column for Herald-Times, Bloomington, IN
October 8, 2009

About a year ago, my husband and I realized we needed to replace our 1995 Ford Contour. With an odometer reading of 120,000, she was running poorly, requiring us to purchase the expensive grade gasoline, and she only gave us 22 miles per gallon.

We had special memories in our Contour. She was the car in which we brought our newborn daughter home from the hospital. She was the car whose rear passenger window became plastered with sparkly dolphin stickers placed by little hands. She was the car we drove on family vacations to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

It was hard to part with our Contour. But a decade had passed, and it was time to let her go.

We began thinking about what kind of car we wanted: economically-priced, fuel efficient, yet not hybrid (out of our price range), with plenty of room for our family of three. And safety was important. This could be the car our daughter would learn to drive in about six years. (Where did the time go?)

After many hours of online research, we decided our first choice was a used Toyota Corolla.

Next was the task of finding our perfect Corolla out there somewhere, our vehicular soul-mate. I intended to conduct this car search as efficiently as possible without letting it take over my life. I entered the car-shopping zone, that hyper-alert state where one’s eyes are drawn like magnets to every car ad in the newspaper and every car lot in town. I was on a mission.

I searched for local deals. Nothing was quite right. I turned to the classified ads and didn’t see any prospects at first.

Then one day I saw an ad that looked promising. Model year 2006: Check. Reasonably-low miles: Check. The type of transmission we preferred: Check. In our price range: Check. Sunroof: Bonus! CD player: Bonus! I called the number listed and scheduled a test drive that evening.

When we arrived at the owner’s house, I noticed he looked familiar. I thought for a moment. Could he possibly be someone we knew? As it turned out, the answer was yes. He was an old friend of my parents, and was actually a guest at our wedding 15 years ago!

We drove the car — loved it. Everything felt right, even the color. When we returned, our friend even volunteered to drop the price by $300. Sold!

Things don’t usually happen this smoothly for me. Really.

The serendipity continued. With the deal done, we chatted for a while, and the topic of music came up. Our friend mentioned to my husband that he knew a guy who was looking for a new bass player for his band.

My husband, who had been thinking about playing in a band again, wrote down the guy’s phone number and scheduled an audition later that week. He was asked to join on the spot.

So the end of this story finds us with a beautiful dark blue fuel-efficient car in our driveway, my husband playing bass in a band called Lazy Piranha and our Contour sold at our neighborhood yard sale to a couple who were happy to buy her.

And whenever anyone asks me where we bought our Corolla, I tell them we purchased it from a family friend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Active listening is foundational to a civil society

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

Interesting messages received along the journey home

by Kim Evans

I’m driving home from a fun-filled Labor Day weekend with family in Chicago. The dome light shines on my page. Wind rushes through the moon roof. A semi-truck roars by me on the passenger side.

“Winds of Change.” I see these words pass by on a billboard along the interstate. At night billboards appear like illuminated messages floating through space. Signs are everywhere. I recently saw a sign that read “A Call to Consciousness” outside a church when I was in the process of deciding to take a step into a new chapter of my life. And now I notice a yellow road sign that reads “Watch For Ice on Bridges.”

Winds of Change ... A Call to Consciousness ... Watch For Ice on Bridges .

My thoughts go to images of angry people at town hall meetings. One such photograph was on the front page of this newspaper. I am disturbed by those who are being influenced by the fear mongering, allowing themselves to be manipulated without learning the facts. It’s so much easier to let others do the thinking. I wish people would suspend judgment and emotion long enough to do some research, then engage in a civilized exchange of ideas.

Emotions are so high right now. Emotions cloud thinking. It is painful to watch people rage at one another. And now with electronic communications, it is too easy to push the send button and spread negativity to others, even those in one’s own family, one’s own flesh and blood.

Winds of Change ... A Call to Consciousness ... Watch For Ice on Bridges .

This late night drive continues to activate the right side of my brain. The color red transports me back to the scene in the tailgate area before the IU football game last Thursday. We park a few blocks south of 17th Street, and are treated to a walk through a sea of drunken college students. I’m a little stunned at this public display; if this type of consumption must occur, isn’t it best limited to private residences and bars?

My 11-year-old daughter points to a group of red T-shirt-clad young men and women preparing to drink beer from a tube attached to a funnel. She asks “What’s that, Mom?” I don’t want to lie to her; nor do I want to ignore her question. So I respond, “That’s called a beer bong, honey. It allows someone to drink a whole bunch of beer really fast, basically by-passing the process of swallowing, and pouring it straight into their stomach.” I tell it like it is. She cringes.

I draw a parallel between beer bong consumption and fear-mongering. They both recklessly bypass the intended channels of consumption. No swallowing of beer. No examination of facts. Straight to the stomach. Instant gratification is the quickest way to the desired effects. A jolt into an altered state of consciousness is so much easier than a thoughtful one.

It’s getting late. We leave during the third quarter of the football game, and pass a group of red-eyed students staggering into Gate 14. I wonder if they will be able to navigate the stairs. Walking south of 17th Street again, we pass the lawn littered with empty Natural Light cases, beer cans and bottles. A uniformed crew appears to be preparing to clean up the mess left behind. There is no connection between the individuals who participated in the mass consumption and the clean-up of their mess.

Winds of Change ... Call to Consciousness ... Watch For Ice on Bridges .

Sometimes messages come from interesting places.

This column appears in the 9/10/09 issue of the Herald-Times newspaper, Bloomington, IN

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bloomington changes with the seasons, but learning never ends

It’s time to gear up for the annual migration of students into our small town. Circumstances are always changing here, and as much as my human nature resists change, I love the total package of Bloomington: the seasonal fluctuations, the town and the gown. As the product of two IU students who fell in love, got married, and decided to build their lives and family here, I bridge both worlds.

This summer I had the opportunity to stroll through campus, deserted and quiet like a ghost town. In my current phase of life, activities like walking through campus carry more significance than they did when I was student here. I feel as if I am walking on hallowed ground. My mind stirs with the thoughts of the students and scholars who walked these very paths over the past 189 years.

Here are some campus scenes and sensations that are presently calling up from my memory to be shared in this community forum.

The Hippie Hangout. I don’t think I’m hallucinating. In the 1970s I remember riding down 10th Street in the back of our red Dodge station wagon, passing by Dunn Meadow and staring wide-eyed at the mass of bell-bottomed, long-haired students throwing Frisbees, sitting in the grass talking, and enjoying the sunshine. We called it the Hippie Hangout.

The Sugar and Spice shop. When I was in early elementary school, Mom returned to college to finish her degree in education. I frequently accompanied her to campus. One of my favorite places to visit was the Memorial Union. I called it the Elevator and Escalator Building. Mom always treated me to a gingerbread man at the Sugar & Spice shop. I remember munching on my cookie while I sat in the row of seats at the base of the escalator, biting off one arm at a time, watching the students walk by.

The Wrubel computing center. Dad worked at Wrubel when it was located in the basement of the HPER building. We descended a concrete staircase to enter his department, humming with room-sized mainframes, the cutting-edge technology at that time.

Tenth Street stadium. Just steps across the parking lot from Wrubel stood the old stadium, now the location of the beautiful campus arboretum. The Marching Hundred practiced there. My brother played trombone in the band and I loved watching them rehearse.

Assembly Hall. I was lucky enough to be in a family that held season tickets in 1976. Need I say more?

Showalter Fountain. I was a student in 1987, part of the mad dash of NCAA championship revelry to Showalter Fountain. I was there when one of the fish statues was stolen. (Disclaimer: I didn’t steal the fish, and I don’t have a description of the people who did.)

The Library. I never quite got over the amazement that the IU library is huge enough to hold a cafeteria. And the stacks: floor after floor, row after row of nothing but books. A guaranteed quiet place to study.

Ballantine Hall. Even as a young adult, I always appreciated the beautiful walk along the creek from Jordan Avenue to Ballantine Hall. Back in the ’80s, “Mad Max,” a campus crusader, shouted his sermons to passersby outside the building where I spent many hours in liberal arts courses.

It is my hope that the influx of new and returning students take a moment this semester to realize they are making history: their own personal history from a brief yet important time in their lives, and a contribution to the collective history that walks the pathways of the Indiana University campus. I sometimes wonder why we are given the wisdom to appreciate something so many years after the experience itself. Again, I return to the truth that the learning really never ends.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It’s too early to say goodbye to another summer season

I’ve always had trouble saying good-bye to summer. As much as I try to deny it or push it down, I feel a grief at summer’s end like no other. The 10 weeks fly by so quickly.

Written or unwritten, most people have their list of summer wishes. While some are realized and some are not, this is the time of year to accept it all and begin making the transition to a new season. So, as we gear up for the start of another school year, here is a look back at this columnist’s memorable moments from the summer of 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.

OK, now the nostalgia has really kicked in. Therefore, I officially declare that summer isn’t really over until sometime after Labor Day. This declaration is supported by a Google search that reveals the last day of summer is Sept. 21.

School starts too early, anyway. Let’s just submit to the illusion of eternal summer, youth, happiness, barefootedness and freedom. Who’s with me? We’ll call it the Declaration of Never-Ending Summer.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wise words of girls create inspirational week at summer camp

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices .” Jimmy Carter, July 15, 2009

I was relieved to read Jimmy Carter’s recent stand against the Southern Baptist church’s subjugation of women. His article titled “Losing my religion for equality” reminded me of the importance of my emerging resolve to do what I can to nurture the voices of girls and young women.

I was recently blown away by the depth I experienced in the words of girls ages 9 to 11 during a week of summer camp I helped facilitate, themed “True Nature: Our Wild Dreaming Selves.” We held the camp at the Poplar Grove Schoolhouse on Bloomington’s east side, the new writing home for Women Writing for (a) Change, a project that has been active in Bloomington since 2004. It was through my participation in the women’s classes that the calling sprang forth to bring this work to girls.

I feel the temptation to write this column from merely a historic perspective: how the sound of pencils scratching on paper and the sights of children deep in concentration filled this building, how we ate lunch at picnic tables under the large shady trees in the back yard, followed by spontaneous games that filled the yard with joyful running and laughter, complete with a skinned knee. These scenes transported me back in time to what it must have been like in the early 1900s when this schoolhouse held classes for elementary-aged children. I enjoyed the full circle sensation, the connection of today’s ultra-modern, high tech life to a more simple time sans computers, televisions and cell phones.

But the experience held a depth that transcends history. These girls carry within them a deep wisdom that cannot be ignored. I was honored to be bathed in their words about sacred places, dancing candlelight, ocean waves, the way flowers know how to make the earth feel better, the intertwining of earth and soul, mother nature, breathing underwater, love as mentor, awakening courage and the shared love of writing as a means of self-expression and imaginary exploration. Writing in community with these girls strengthened my own words.

These topics did not need to be coaxed out of these young writers. Once they trusted that they were in a safe space, the words flowed freely. On the final day of camp, each writer stood at a podium and shared excerpts from what she had written in front of parents and guests. I was again blown away by their solidness and courage to share. Some of the written comments from the audience included:

“These girls were all able to express so much emotion through their writings. You can only leave here knowing there is so much good in our world.”

“What beauty lies within each of our girls. I was so touched with the depth of their wisdom. It was a gift for them to have a safe place to share their words. It was a gift to all of us to hear their words.”

“These young women remind us to be open, to see anew, to experience the world with the heart and senses wide open to possibility.”

“The gift of these young women together, learning, sharing, giving, growing — together. Amazing talents — the future.”

I believe the world needs these wise voices, whether they are housed in the body of a girl or boy, woman or man. Let’s not muffle anyone who wishes to speak from her heart. Let’s listen. Let’s celebrate. These voices are ripe with hope and healing, and that is sorely needed in our community, nation, and world.

My hat’s off to you, girls!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Working mothers should have more ways to keep their balance
By Kim EvansCommunity columnist
July 16, 2009

I’m sitting on the patio at the downtown Bakehouse, poised to write my column. After digging through my purse in search of my earphones, then untangling them from the tube of lipstick I rarely use, I am plugged into my laptop with Aerosmith’s “Dream On” filling my ears and a deadline looming. I hope the song choice isn’t prophetic.

I’m writing with the topic of work-family balance in mind, which seems appropriate as I feel the afterburn from a tense morning with my 11 year-old daughter. Most of our morning struggles are over her difficulty getting out of bed. Right now, she’s suffering from sleep deprivation induced by late nights reading “Harry Potter.” I haven’t been strict about making her turn off the reading light — who am I to discourage her from reading? (J.K. Rowling, I bless and curse you in the same breath. Note to H.P. fanatics: This is not an actual curse.)

It’s summer, and summer is for staying up late, sleeping in and roaming through the fields barefoot, playing outside all day until it’s time to catch lightning bugs. These were the summers I knew for many years. I woke up each morning and wandered into the kitchen sleepy-eyed to the sounds of Phil Donahue on our small black and white TV. I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything.

This summer, my daughter hasn’t had many Phil Donahue-ish mornings. I’ve been working more, recently taking the leap into renting an office space for my business, and feeling more pressure to show up there regularly.

I was my daughter’s age when my mom went to work full time. I remember wearing a house key on a string around my neck to school, often forgetting that key and entering the house by taking the screen out of my bedroom window and forcing the glass pane open enough to climb through.

Finding a work-family balance has been one of my deepest values since the moment the pregnancy test was positive. Like those parallel pink lines in the little window, my motherhood mission lined up before me with military precision. In my heart, I knew I wanted to be as present as possible for my child. For me, that meant working from home.

For the past 11 years, I’ve chosen the precarious world of self-employment in order to find the flexibility I need. I have carried the torch for moms working from home, starting our own businesses, cradling our nursing babies in one arm while typing e-mails with the other, holding on to the thread of showing up for our professional lives while holding the center of caring for our children.

And now I find myself feeling tired — and distinctly lacking in 401(k). I wonder how much professional equity I have built up these 11 years, working for myself from my basement office, spending many, many hours alone each day trying to get the work done before I hear the squeal of the school bus brakes outside.

I envision a future where there are more choices for working mothers, flexible working arrangements and a steady paycheck with benefits. Employers need to recognize there is strength in diversity, and a diverse work force includes working parents with varying needs and preferences.

I guess there is still hope that my writing career will turn out like J.K. Rowling’s, and even if it doesn’t, I know all is well. As I jam out to the music on my headphones, I remember the excitement I felt as a teenager at rock concerts in Market Square Arena.

I’m still that girl who loved to run barefoot in the grass and spend summer days playing in Stoutes Creek. But maybe I should turn the volume down. I don’t want to get hearing damage.

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

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The old man and the tree: a journey on an unmarked trail

By Kim Evans

Herald-Times Bloomington, Ind.

Community Columnist

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.