Marie Cinti lives with her husband and two children in Penfield. A former college academic advisor and school counselor, she is passionate about community service and blogs about life in Penfield, books, events, and more. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, and geocaching. If you have an idea for her blog, please email Marie at email@example.com.
It’s always interesting to review the numbers when it comes to school budget votes here in Penfield.
Of the approximately 34,000 residents (I don’t know how many are of voting age, but I think we can safely assume it’s many thousands), the average voter turnout for recent school budget votes has been...roughly 2000 voters. I’m using the word “roughly” because I don’t have the numbers in front of me. But you get my point.
Turnout is low.
The thing is, I can’t think of a reason NOT to vote on a school budget, especially when this year’s proposed budget is asking for a not insignificant increase to our taxes.
Roughly 75 percent of our total property tax bill goes to supporting our schools. So why just 2000 voters show up to cast a ballot is beyond me. I don’t get it.
I have no idea what the results of tomorrow’s vote will be. But each individual vote, whether for or against, is a message to the school district. A school budget may pass or fail by a margin that is razor thin or a mile wide, but the margin is still meaningful feedback for those that govern.
Hopefully, you have done some research this month; attended a budget presentation, talked with the superintendent, or read the letters in the paper (both pro and con).
Hopefully, you have made an informed decision balancing the needs of the school district with the needs of the community as a whole. And hopefully, you will express your decision on Tuesday.
The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Penfield High School.
Remember when I blogged way back in February about being an active citizen?
Here’s where the rubber hits the road. The Penfield Central School District has its budget vote coming up on May 21. The proposed 2013-2014 budget is asking for more from taxpayers. In my quest to be an active citizen, here’s what I am doing to be an informed voter:
I’m learning all I can about the proposed budget from one of the many avenues of information available: The penfield.edu website has lots of information. Additionally, there are several “live” presentations in the community.
Tuesday, April 30 - 12 p.m. Penfield Rotary Meeting, Shadow Lake Golf Club
Monday, May 6 - 7 p.m. Penfield High School PTA Meeting, PHS Library
Saturday, May 11 - 9-11 a.m. Budget Open House, Penfield Community Center
Wednesday, May 15 - 7 p.m. Joint Elementary PTA Meeting, Bay Trail Middle School
The Penfield Superintendent is also holding a “Drop In Day” at various local businesses
on Thursday, May 16:
9-10 a.m. - Starbucks with the Superintendent, Penfield Starbucks, 1806 Penfield Rd. (Route 441)
12-1 p.m. - Soup with the Superintendent, Panera Bread, Panorama Plaza, 1601 Penfield Rd.
6-7 p.m. - Sandwich with the Superintendent, Don's Original, 2055 Fairport Nine Mile Pt. Rd. (Route 250)
I’d recommend the Skinny Vanilla Latte at Starbucks, the Broccoli Cheddar soup at Panera, and the onion rings at Don’s Original. Definitely the onion rings.
There are just 25 more days to inform yourself and form an opinion before the budget vote. Clock’s ticking...
In 2008 or so, a few parishioners from St. Joseph’s Church created a Gift Garden. (If I tried to name the folks, I’d invariably leave someone out, so I won’t try.) The group partnered with a microfarmer (a farmer who operates on small acreage) and a few others from around the Penfield community, and began planting behind the First Baptist Church on Penfield Road.
The idea of the Gift Garden is simple and beautiful. Food is grown and given to those in need. In past years, the Gift Garden has donated fresh vegetables to the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf and similar organizations.
After a break last year, a group of committed volunteers is planning to re-establish the Gift Garden behind First Baptist Church. They are looking for others who might be interested in joining them on this project. There is no previous experience necessary.
All that is needed is a desire to help out with basic farming tasks such as tilling, watering, planting, weeding, etc. Sports teams, scout troops, and gardeners without a garden have all helped in the past. My children and I have volunteered here for a couple of years and we are looking forward to helping out again. It’s a great family service project.
The Gift Garden has a blog that will be re-started as the season progresses and planting begins. It can be found at www.penfieldgiftgarden.blogspot.com. I will also give some updates here.
If you would like to participate, even in a small way, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I”ll be collecting the names of those interested and passing them on to the garden coordinators.
Spring is coming!
It’s the end of March and even I, a winter-lover, feel like I am at the bottom of the U-morale curve. The excitement of Winter and snow has definitely worn off.
But the thought of Easter feels like a warm breeze in this extended winter chill, and I thought I’d share with you our family’s Easter Bread recipe. Like all of our family recipes, everything is to touch and taste, but the measurements in this recipe work pretty well.
Use a really big pot (20 quarts) to do this...and plan for it to take most of the day.
2 oz. yeast cake
1/2 c. warm water
1 1/2 c. warm milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
6 eggs (but my great-grandmother used 9!)
4 T. shortening
1 T. anise seed
Juice and grated rind of one orange
9 c. flour
Dissolve yeast in the warm water. In 20-quart pan, measure flour, sugar, shortening, salt, anise, and orange rind and mix until it crumbles like a pie. When mixed, make well in flour mixture. In a separate bowl, add beaten eggs, milk, orange juice, and dissolved yeast. Pour this mixture into well. Bring mixture together and knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky in your hands. (It’s right about now that you will ask yourself what you have gotten into, but keep at it.)
You may need to add more flour is dough is too sticky. Let rise in a warm place until
doubled (2-3 hours). Punch down and let rise again until doubled in size (another 2-3 hours). Punch down and divide into loaves. This makes 5-6 small loaves or about 3 large loaves. No fishes. Let rise for 30 minutes. Brush with beaten egg. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until you think it’s done. Sprinkle with those decorator candies if you like.
This bread is delicious toasted and spread with cold butter!
This is a very short posting to keep you updated on happenings at the Food Shelf.
So it’s been over four months since the Food Shelf moved into its new digs at 1618 Jackson Road. They are moved in and “unpacked” (which is a little odd to say since canned goods are stored in boxes), thanks to the many volunteers who came to help on Clean Up Day and Moving Day. Volunteers from the Penfield Business Association have built some amazing storage shelves in the basement. Also thanks to a volunteer, there is a website and Facebook page.
There are still more changes coming. As the weather warms, the house will be getting a fresh coat of paint. The driveway will need some reconfiguring to accommodate the guests and alleviate a tight parking situation, and some flooring will be laid inside the house. Sometimes change is a good thing!
Since November, the Food Shelf has been greatly helped by the donation of time and talent from individual volunteers (old and new), Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Penfield Business Association members, sports teams, and families. I’m sure I’m missing some groups, but you get the point. They have donated many hours of their free time to get the Food Shelf up and running at its new address.
What a community project this has been!
So, yes, bedrest for 12 weeks from the end of April through July. Ick. It was depressing not being able to go outside, take a walk, or hold anything heavier than a dinner plate (yes, really). All the excitement I’d been feeling was replaced by sheer worry.
I’ll never forget my dear friend’s words to me: “Control. This is what you need to learn from this experience. You have to learn to give up control.” It was the last thing I wanted to hear.
But Alissa was right. Despite all the planning, best intentions, and good behavior you can muster, our lives are about as steady as a house of cards. Lesson learned.
My bonus lesson? I finally understood the depths of love that exist between parents and their children. My father dropped everything in Buffalo to come take care of me in Boston. And I dropped life as I knew it and stayed quiet for 12 weeks.
I got on this track after reading Ben Affleck’s Oscar acceptance speech: “And it doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life; that's going to happen. All that matters is you've gotta get up."
It dawned on me (in the shower where I do my best thinking) that all of us in this country are in the same position — a free fall from one great big collective shove off the cliff. Think about all the things that are so rapidly changing: jobs, health care, retirement, interpersonal communication, even the amount of snow on the ground! Does it make your head spin as much as mine?
I wonder what lessons we will learn, and more importantly, how we will pick ourselves up...
A few year’s back, I delivered a reflection at my church about life’s “jumping off” points — those instances when you feel yourself being called in a certain direction and asked to take a leap of faith.
Those willful decisions to jump off the cliff, though, are not nearly as scary as those where you feel you are being pushed off of it against your will...
I’ve been reflecting upon those times I felt “pushed off the cliff”— when my leap was involuntary rather than by choice. They were both terrifying in their own way but chock full of life lessons. Though it didn’t seem like it during the free fall and crash landing, I did end up the better person for it.
The first big shove came when I was about 19 and got dumped (quickly and surprisingly I might add) by my then boyfriend. At the time, I thought the world had ended. But the joke was on me. The time alone, not being a part of a couple, gave me the perfect opportunity to focus solely on me. I learned several life lessons from this experience, the most important being: Never lose yourself in a relationship.
Another bonus lesson: I learned how to pump my own gas! I had always relied on someone else to do it for me. How pathetic is that?
The second big “shove” came when I was 31, and six months pregnant with my first child. I was put on bedrest for 12 weeks! No work. No play. No kidding. When the shock of being sent to bed wore off, and when I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I was able to focus on what I was supposed to learn from the experience.
But as I see from my word counter (306), this will have to wait until next time.
February is Membership Month for Rotary and we were asked recently to reflect on the question: What does Rotary mean to you?
Don’t you just love questions that make you dig deep?
My perception of “Rotary” has changed since joining three years ago. I initially thought that Rotary was the community embodiment of “The Man,” and wasn’t sure there was a place for me. But in one of life’s true surprises, I discovered that my perception of what Rotary was, was completely different from what Rotary is.
It’s true that Rotary can be a great networking group, and that’s probably why people first look at joining. But move in for a closer look, and you will find something more. As one Rotarian so aptly put it, Rotary focuses on “the betterment of people” whether those people are around the block, or around the world. I think Rotary is a great organization for those looking to target their efforts into making a difference. See why I love this group?
And as much as I love the “work” of Rotary, I have found tremendous enjoyment meeting fellow Rotarians. As a parent of school age children, it is easy for everything you do, everyone you meet, everyone with whom you interact to be from “that same place.”
Rotary has exposed me to people from very different backgrounds, different
ages, and different experiences. I have made new friends with people I would not normally have met without being a part of a Rotary club.
Consider attending a Rotary meeting. The Penfield Rotary Club meets Tuesdays at noon at Shadow Lake, but you can find out about other Rotary Clubs by clicking here.
It’s much easier to change the world when the people surrounding you are all moving in
the same direction.
Interestingly, my previous blog, 360 Degrees Longitude, was saved under the title of this current one: Being an Active Citizen. I guess some things are just meant to be.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what it means to be an active citizen. I went down this path more seriously after attending last week’s recognition for Ted O’Brien, who is retiring after 15 years of service to the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf.
Some problems are just so huge: The national debt, peace in the Middle East, poverty, (insert your own huge problem here). But on the local level, it seems like many issues can be tackled and real progress made. Like hunger. Back in 1997, Ted saw a need: a way for Penfield to address hunger in its own community. He joined up with a few other people and created a solution to the problem. Simple, really.
This is a good time of year to think about being an active citizen. The school budget is being developed now by the elected school board members. Follow the discussion. You can watch Penfield BOE meetings at www.penfield.edu, and peruse the Board section of the website at this same address. Have an opinion? Send an email to the Board members. Now is the time to speak up.
But don’t stop there. Being an active citizen can take on so many different facets. Take a small step and attend a political party meeting of your choosing. I know both Penfield Democrats and Penfield Republicans have their own websites.
Sometimes just tooling around a website can spur your interest and desire to learn more about what is going on in your own backyard.
The title of this blog comes from a book I read last November by John Higham. He and his wife took their two children, ages 8 and 11, on a one year trip around the world. One full year of traveling “chasing summer” all around the globe.
Higham’s book, and our family’s general passion for traveling, got my son and I to thinking: Why shouldn’t our family should travel around the world and film our adventures? My son loves to produce films on his camera and we thought it would be really cool to have Daniel produce a documentary about his travels — a teenager traveling around the world. Crazy, no?
I was telling my Facebook friends about our little pipe dream last week, and it was interesting how many people commented on the post. Seems that lots of people have the desire to travel and step out of their comfort zone. Many encouraged us to write a proposal and submit it to the Travel Channel (one example) to see if they would fund the project. I have to admit, I was not at all serious about following through on the idea. I mean, it’s a pipe dream, right? But my son was all for pitching the idea to whomever would listen.
Then I got to thinking, what is the message I want to send my children? On a practical level, they must learn to set a goal and develop a plan of action to meet it. On a more sublime level, I want them to know that every dream is a worthy one and worthy of being fulfilled (unless the dream involved traveling around the world and leaving me home).
I want them to always dream. Plus, filmmakers, just like writers, must get used to both acceptance and rejection.
Throughout the years, I’ve made of countless lists of books I want to read based on book reviews, articles, friend and family recommendations. The lists last about a week before they disappear somewhere: Under my bed? In a drawer?
I am quite certain that when I die, I will be reunited with all the book lists I once created. They will occupy the same room in Heaven as all the socks that have gone missing from my dryer.
To combat all this wasted effort, I finally got on Goodreads.com, a website that allows me to keep my book lists in one place. If you are a reader and love books, definitely check this site out. Goodreads allows you to review books, share book ideas, and join up with friends so you can see what they are reading.
It has replaced my endless shreds of paper that keep getting lost. Even though Goodreads has been around for several years, I still run across lots of people that don’t even know about it. And if you join (it’s free), please friend me because I would love to see what everyone is reading. I always get lots of ideas from it.
But on to other things, like good food. Even though the trees are bare and summer seems a long way away, it’s not to early to think about joining a CSA for the coming year. Last year, I joined Wickham Farms CSA and loved getting fresh produce every week. You can view their website at www.wickhamfarms.com to learn more about their CSA or click on www.organicaginfo.org to read about CSAs or to find one in the Rochester area.
I thought it might be a good time to update you on a couple of things I mentioned in earlier blogs.
In October, I wrote about the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf and how bare the cupboards were looking at the time. I was just at the Food Shelf this past week, and it looks like a completely different place! Due to several successful food collections over the holiday season, the Food Shelf cupboards are looking terrific. The new site is being given some tender loving care by wonderful volunteers and it is coming along nicely! Thank you to each and every one of you who supported the Food Shelf.
I also mentioned the Wings of Light luminaria event on Dec. 17 to benefit Shepherd Home. Hopefully, you got a chance to view the luminaries that were lit up that night-- there were over 300 of them lining the driveway from Five Mile Line Road all the way up to the front door of the home! Among all the beautiful lights celebrating the angels in our lives was a glowing display in the shape of a heart — to remember the victims of the Newtown tragedy that had occurred just days before. It was so beautiful to see the many people come and walk the display that evening. We all seem to need the memories of our loved ones to light up the long dark nights of winter.
In the pain and anguish of the Newtown and Webster tragedies, the Food Shelf and Shepherd Home remind me that there is still much good in the world. You just don’t always hear about it.
A Happy and Healthy New Year to all of you....
Whenever I first meet someone, I’m usually asked one specific question: “So what do you do?”
I am always struck dumb. What do I do? Well in the most basic sense, I stay home with my children, the best job in the world. But to describe myself as a stay-at-home mother seems so inaccurate. Certainly incomplete.
No, I don’t have a paying job. I write this blog, volunteer, and generally look for ways to be more involved and engaged in my community.
My goal is always to live purposefully, but none of the things I do actually generate a paycheck. So you can see where answering that I am a homemaker just doesn’t feel quite right.
Believe me when I tell you there is very little homemaking going on in my house...
I keep thinking that ditching the S.A.H.M. label would solve all these problems for me and everyone else with a similar life. Sometimes, I brainstorm new descriptions for me: Engaged community participant? Professional volunteer? Reasonably smart and organized person who loves big projects?
No wonder I avoid Linkedin like the plague.
I’m quite happy with the choice I made to be home with my children and I’m grateful to have the choice. Is this just an inferiority complex on my part, or is society subtly telling me that the title of stay-at-home mother is not good enough? There’s some food for thought.
Maybe more importantly, would having any different kind of “title” make any difference in what I do or how I do it? More street cred? More gravitas? I wonder.
One day each December, my children are allowed to take the day off from school. My mother joins us and we spend the entire day baking cookies. My son, always the independent one, instead developed his own recipe for fudge. It is delicious!
Sometimes I feel a little guilty about calling the kids in sick to school. But I have rationalized it as a mental health day — for me and for them. There are no appointments, homework, or errands. There is just us. I tell myself that when they grow up they will probably not remember the average day at school (wonderful though I’m sure it is). But they will definitely remember our Cookie Baking Days and the time we spent together.
That’s what I tell myself anyway.
This morning, I started with the recipe for Cappuccino Love Bites. Silly name, but a beautiful cookie. It is my favorite cookie ever. Here is the recipe that I found in the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies Magazine (2007):
Cappuccino Love Bites
1 c. butter-flavor shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 T. coffee-flavor liqueur or milk (I use Kahlua)
2 1/4 c. flour
2 T. instant coffee crystals
48 milk chocolate kisses with stripes or almonds (I use Hugs)
Beat shortening in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1 c. of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Beat until mixture is combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, liqueur, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. If necessary, cover and refrigerate dough until easy to handle.
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheets. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Combine remaining 1/2 c. sugar and coffee crystals. Rolls balls in sugar mixture. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
Bake in preheated oven about 10 minutes or until tops are cracked and sides are set (do not let edges brown). Immediately press a chocolate kiss (Hug) into the center of each cookie. If desired, while the chocolate is still warm, swirl kiss gently with the tip of a knife. Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely. Makes 48.
Store in layers separated by pieces of waxed paper in airtight container. Store at room temp for up to 3 days or freeze for up to three months. Note: I have no idea how well these cookies freeze because they never last that long.
I’ll get to writing Part II of my last blog soon. But now that December has arrived, I’ve been busy with cookie baking for the holidays (OK, Christmas, in our family).
I love to bake. Love. It. It begins in September when the first Christmas cookie magazine appears on the newsstand. I snatch it off the rack and my daughter and I pour over the pictures, ear-marking the ones that we want to make. I took a good look at the stack of Christmas cookie magazines I now own, and I’ve banned myself for purchasing any more.
How many cookie cookbooks can there be in this world? And how many does one person need to own? Because, really, how many recipes can you bake in any one holiday season?
I’m on a quest to find out. It’s innocent fun. Starting Dec. 1, I am indulging my passion and baking a Christmas cookie every single day. I will bring out our family favorites and will try some new ones. After I finish a batch, I take a picture of it and post in on Facebook with titles Cookie Baking Day 1, 2, etc... I think it just gives me a sense of accomplishment.
In many ways, I feel kind of selfish indulging myself like this. Baking during the winter months is for me a sanctuary. If I’m alone, I get some quiet time to think and renew my spirit. If my family is home, I use it as a way to engage my children in a project we can work on together. It’s amazing the conversations you have when working on something together.
Either way, it works out for good.
In April, I blogged my goals for 2012-2013. I like to write down what I want to accomplish, and revisit the list to see how I’m doing, cross items off as they are completed, or revise as necessary.
As of April, my goals for the 2012-2013 school year were:
1. Learn French.
2. Learn French Horn.
3. Catch up on my children’s scrapbooks.
4. Become an informed voter in the upcoming November elections.
5. Use my free time wisely “to make a positive difference in the world...or at least Penfield....or for sure within my home.
How am I doing?
1. Learn French
Happy to say that I am working daily on this one! I love French! As my friend, Jane, says: “It just feels so beautiful in your mouth!” I am using the Rosetta Stone program and absolutely loving it. A+ for French.
2. Learn French Horn
Sadly, I haven’t had much time to explore this interest. Instead, I took golf lessons. I’ll consider this an even trade. A new skill for a new skill. Know what I mean? It’s always good to learn new things.
Sadly, I haven’t touched it. It sits on my work table in the basement and I keep walking by it promising myself I will get to it. I never do. Epic. Fail.
4. November Elections
Done and done! I studied, read, and voted. Cross this one off the list.
5. Make a difference
Now 250 words into this blog entry, I don’t have just 50 words to explain fully what I’ve learned about this. Definitely feeds into my Project Next Step endeavor. Will have to wait for Part II of this blog....
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know how much I love Penfield. I’m always amazed by the generosity of the community and all the great things happening in it. Before I moved here, I lived in Cambridge, MA and Short Hills, NJ. Neither of them can hold a candle to Penfield.
But if I could have one thing be different...
It would be to drive through the Four Corners (or anywhere in Penfield for that matter) and never see a vacant storefront. I know that many small businesses are thriving, but I have also seen many businesses come and go and some storefronts that have been empty for longer than I can remember.
I often feel a bit helpless thinking about this, and I ask myself what I can do. What is my part in keeping our local businesses 1) local and 2) in business?
I’m not naive. I know the issue of small business ownership is a complex one. If you watched any of this year’s election coverage for any race, you know this too.
But I remind myself that I do have a part in this.
Small Business Saturday is coming on Saturday, Nov. 24. Yes, that is THIS Saturday. Besides shopping locally on that day, maybe this is an invitation to think about how we shop all year long. One day is great, but it is only a start.
Here’s just one idea: The East Side Winter Market will be in Penfield, 2555 Baird Road in Penfield, every Tuesday from 3-6 p.m. through April 2013.
This is an INDOOR market that provides opportunities for people to support local growers and local artisans. My son and I went yesterday and really enjoyed ourselves.
By all accounts, I am a nightmare at keeping our family’s scrapbooks up to date. I have very good intentions, but I just never seem to get time to do it. I’ve been more successful with preserving my family’s culinary history. I noticed that we had lots of family favorites, but I didn’t know how to prepare any of them. I’d resort to calling my mother or grandmother to ask for the recipe.
But the joke was on me. My Italian family seldom writes anything down. Nor do they measure their ingredients, which I discovered the hard way.
I did not want our family dishes be forgotten. As luck would have it, around the time I was fretting about this, I spotted an article in a magazine about how to create a family cookbook. Bazinga!
My small project to collect a few recipes and staple them together exploded into a nearly 60-page spiral bound collection: The Family Tree Cookbook. Email requests, conversations with my mother, grandmother, aunt, etc. yielded 150 recipes. There were memorable conversations with my grandmother about how much flour was really needed. “You know, enough” is not an acceptable answer when writing a cookbook!
It was probably during these conversations that our cookbook transformed from how-to manual into storybook...about our family and our family’s history. Many of the recipes had an anecdote attached to it, so that we could read them and remember not only the food, but each other. Someone once said that “food evokes memory.” I believe them.
Photographs were added, stories were told, and yes, our family’s culinary heritage was preserved.
It also made a great Christmas gift for all my family. But if you want to do this, start yesterday. Seriously.
There are two events coming up that I think do a terrific job of highlighting what a strong community we have here in Penfield.
The first the Open House on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the new site of the Penfield Ecumenical Food Shelf. You may have heard that the Food Shelf relocated to a larger space this week. It is now located at 1618 Jackson Road (the yellow house that backs up to Dolomite Lodge). Please consider stopping by during the Open House to view the new space and maybe bring along some non-perishable food items to support its mission.
The Second Annual Wings of Light Luminaria Event is being held on Monday, Dec. 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Shepherd Home, 1959 Five Mile Line Road (corner of Whalen and Five Mile Line). Luminaries are small jars holding a lighted candle and they are all lit at once to create a beautiful display. For those of you who drove by Five Mile Line Road, you have to admit that seeing all the luminaries lit up at once was an awesome sight. The intent of the event is to help the local community gather to celebrate and honor the angels in their lives, past and present, as well as raise needed funds for the operation of the home, which provides hospice care to two area residents at a time.
Each luminary is just $10, and all proceeds will benefit the residents and caring work of the Shepherd Home. Click on www.shepherdhome.org to order and personalize your luminary.
And definitely stop by that evening to view the luminaries and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies...
Continuing on from a previous blog about my friend’s question to me: "What challenges you?”
I really wasn’t sure what Doug meant by the question, and asked for some clarification, but he responded with, “Look inside; think about it for a week, and then ask me again.”
Now it would be easy for my answer to deteriorate into a list of of personal flaws (sharing my opinions when I sometimes should not) or pet peeves (slow drivers in the passing lane). But I doubt that’s how my friend meant the question. I suspect the answer lies somewhere else — an intersection of personality traits with interests, abilities, strengths, etc...(Wow, this feels a lot like my vocational psychology course).
What challenges me might also be restated as, “What do I like to take on? What motivates me?” As Curly tells Mitch in the movie, City Slickers,“You’ve got to find that one thing.”
I just need to figure the one thing out.
I’m passionate about a lot of things. Writing. Travel. Reading. Sometimes I think I am too scattered...But in looking back over the past few years, I see that I’m always drawn to community service. I am motivated, energized, and challenged! by working on community service projects. It’s something I’m enthusiastic about. It feels meaningful and most of the time, I feel like I am working towards good. We should all feel that way about our lives.
Don’t think for a second I put this all together in five minutes. It’s taken me almost eight weeks of introspection to come up with this. Self-exploration is never easy or quick. So, yeah, I love community service, but what TO DO with that? If anything.
I see a lot more work ahead of me (sigh).