Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Progress... as promised... and proof

I have recently taken up the art of quilting. I deem it more than a craft, because it's really so much
more. My paternal Grandma quilted. My Mom quilts. My brother (!!!) is a quilter as of the past year or so. His wife and oldest daughter have also been piecing quilt tops. So, I guess it runs in our blood. Over the past 20 years or so, I have put together a quilt top here and there, but never had I given it the devotion to learn how to quilt and the tricks and tips you need for success.

You may be wondering what that has to do with anything related to Girl Scouts or youth activities. Oh, believe me... it does. 

One of the horrible habits we fall victim to when starting anything new is self-criticism. We look at our own work and compare it to others. We feel we are failing and will never succeed. How many times have you told a young person to "keep trying" and "you can do this"? How many times have I heard myself say "You are doing a great job!" and genuinely mean it for the recipient. But when it comes to myself, I'm so very critical. I demand perfection.

Perfection is not your friend in quilting (or anything else, really!), I have found. There are most definitely people out there that quilt that would love to critique you work, if you want them to (and sometimes when you don't). But, is that really what you need? I can critique well enough on my own. What I need is words of wisdom, encouragement,  and advice on how to get that scant 1/4" seam consistent (and don't even get me started on flying geese...ugh)!

The answer, for me, came in a stack of quilt blocks pieced by my Grandma. I had decided to sew them all together into a quilt for my guest room bed. There are very few that are the same design. I learned so much during the process of putting them together. For instance, Grandma's piecing wasn't perfect. She used the fabrics she had on hand, whether it be left over from clothes making, a worn out apron, or a feed sack. Some were sewn together by hand with the thickest thread I have ever seen in my life... seriously, it resembled twine. Others were sewn by machine. All of them were put together with love. I could feel it radiating from them as I worked on placement and sizing.

This quilt was a turning point for me. I decided to work on a few things that I do want to get better at.
But, I also want to keep it in perspective. I'm making progress on piecing. But, just as I never noticed any mistakes in Grandma's quilts... I'm betting no one will see the mistakes in mine... unless I point them out. And, if you are fortunate enough to receive a quilt from a friend or loved one.. take the time to say "thank you" and know you are pretty darn special to them for them to put in the time and energy it takes to assemble such an amazing work of art.

So, what does any of that have to do with leadership? Oh, sister! Heed my words.

  • We all start out as beginners. 
  • We all start out with a few basic tools that help us along. 
  • We all need to resist the temptation of comparison. 
  • You need to get up, dust yourself off, and smile when someone finds pleasure in your mishap.
  • Accept mishaps are going to happen. Don't let them define you.
  • You are going to run out of things to do with your group. Pack a songbook or a deck of Uno cards.
  • You are going to want to scream when you have to find one more guest speaker for the bazillionth time. 
  • You are going to want to just give up and say forget it. Just don't. Don't give up. 
  • Keep your focus. Pick one or two things that you want to get better at and work on it. 
  • Ask for help. 
  • Ask for advice. 
  • Pick the RIGHT people to ask. We all know there are those with experience that are happy to help.. and those that are happy to point out how they would have done it while making you feel like you are an idiot for trying it a different way (those are the WRONG people!)

I promise you. Just as I can now almost piece a block without losing any points in the process... you will improve, too.

There is no such thing as standing still. We are always in movement. Move forward, not backward.

And if no one else tells you this today...
You've got this. You can do it. You are doing great. I believe in you.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ask the Girls... still holds true

I had a very good conversation with a High School Freshman/Senior Girl Scout. This young lady is mature for her age, but not to the point that she too old for her age. She's involved with band, another youth organization, archery, science clubs, art clubs, and like most girls her age... her life is scheduled... a lot... and busy... all the time.

We had to cancel our troop meeting this week because two of the girls had a band concert and one had a soccer game. The other two that attend meetings had soccer practice until about 30 minutes prior to our meeting. Instead of holding a meeting for 2/5ths of a troop for a badge that we feel all the girls need to earn, we cancelled. I set up all meeting reminders through Remind and the young lady leading the meeting didn't respond until the first scheduled message (which I forgot to cancel) went out. I mentioned that I felt bad about that and hoped it wasn't too confusing, yet I wanted the person leading to make the ultimate decision on whether or not to have the meeting. This sparked a good conversation.

Her reply to the meeting being cancelled was "I was glad we cancelled." I said "Well, I don't want Girl Scouts to be stressful. It should be fun. You all have enough pressure for everything else in your lives. If I can make this easy and flexible, I feel I should." She smiled and said "And I am SO thankful for that! Really. I appreciate that you are in tune with us." She went on to make a few insights into the programming and opportunities.

She said she felt the badges were too hard to earn at times. They expect you to be helping the little girls all the time and forget that all those things we learned about as little girls we should be able to be doing now... within our own group. We want to make the world a better place... we've been told to do that for years... we're finally old enough and able enough to make an impact.

I mentioned Destinations and trips and she said "They are so expensive. Most people can't afford that. They need things that are available locally and more often." She did mention it was one of the reasons she likes the GAB events (GAB is the Girl Advisory Board we have with our Service Unit. They meet once a month, plan outings or meet ups for CSA girls in our service unit.. they are laid back, low-key things... movie night, ceramic painting, brunch class, etc. Girl selected. Girl planned. Girl led.)

Her words "Sometimes I think they treat the older girls like their own volunteer army and the only reason they want us around is to help the little girls. They forget that we have our own interests and we want to do our own things."

I sense this with many of our older girls. It isn't that they don't have hearts of gold. It isn't that they
don't want to give back... they just want to go bigger.. they want to go OUT... they want to make the WORLD a better place... they want to do things together... things that don't involve babysitting, instructing, or quite honestly.. simplifying it so their little counterparts can do it, too.

There has to a balance. I think it's important for little girls to see the High School girls at events and out and about. But, they need to see them doing more than just serving and helping. They need to see them having fun, hanging out, forming friendships, forming connections that will be greatly appreciated in the upcoming college and beyond years. When I say "see", I don't mean they necessarily need to be there. They need to see the pictures, hear the stories, and have information about events that have happened.

Girl retention is a problem with Girl Scouts. Why? Because they have choices. And let me ask you...
Given the choice to help little ones and complete badges that require work that resembles school OR hanging out with friends, laughing, joking, and just having a stress-free evening... which do you think is going to appeal to a 14-18 year old girl? I can tell you the latter sounds more fun to me and I'm a few days past that age range.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Hello, Spring! Patch

I've been so excited about this patch, but I kept telling myself I couldn't release a Spring patch in January... but I really wanted to!

I'm not even going to bore you with anything here... let's just get to the good part...

We have modified last year's Spring points activity list and added in some super fun choices. There is a coloring page and mad lib for a rainy day. A really quick and easy sun catcher craft project is included, along with a way to glam up some flip flops. Did I mention the 20 choices of activities to choose from and 8 pages of jam packed fun?

Make a Spring meeting easy this year and hop on the Hello, Spring patch program!

(Guaranteed through June 15, 2018)