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A Year of Upside Down

11 Jan

So this is the somewhat cheesy but seemingly mandatory reflection on the year that was. Hey 2011, you got me good. Nice one.

It was a year of upside down in many ways for me. A few, I’ll share. Most, I won’t. You’ll just have to trust me.

The Big Job. To start things off right, I took a real job after pledging I’d never do that again. It was a compelling recruitment, and seemed like an interesting idea at the time. One of those that would later cause Grandma to ask why I always try to do the impossible stuff. A question I’m not sure I can answer. I went from my two years of staying home at night with my family and doing meaningful work that got me jacked up every day to 70+ hours a week of hard, grinding, over my head kind of work. I worked harder and gave more of myself to that project than I ever knew I could. And we opened the shiny new Maroney Commons in August–a super green conference and training center, hotel, restaurant and bar on Main Street in a tiny rural town. Meant to be a beacon of hope and possibility for rural communities and a training ground for people intent on turning their own small towns around, it’s far fetched, too expensive, and amazing. You can watch the grand opening here if you want to, including some tears from me. It’s over an hour long, so skip to the good parts (especially Linda Parry at the end of the event).

I must have accomplished something important, since I am now able to add “communist” and “fascist” to the list of adjectives associated with my name in South Dakota publications over the years. (My favorite is still “that rat from over east.”)

The short of what happened after that is: one day along the way, on the day after Halloween, the other leaders of the organization and I parted ways. I’ll leave the other details out, and just say that I still believe from deep in my heart in the true mission of the Rural Learning Center. It’s an organization and a place that have my handprints as part of its being, along with so many others. I wish I could have seen it through. And so many awesome things are cracking open since it ended for me. I cannot explain my gratitude in the humbling experience of so many friends pouring out support, encouragement and love in the wake of November 1. More to come on the present and future of my work in another post.

Blessings. Some things that turned upside down were really wonderful. I’m so proud of my wife for becoming a full time Mommy this past Summer. It means budgets are tighter and our house is a thousand times happier. And by full time I mean caring for kids, husband and house (and Grandparents) while starting two home businesses. Jaimie has taken to selling fun stuff, so check out Just Jewelry and take the Body by Vi Challenge. Start today; Jaim is one hot mamma thanks at least in part to this stuff.

Those four little monsters running around our house at high decibel levels are major blessings too. They remind me of it every day. Even when I want to say bad words or throw things. I’m still training to be an amazing Dad, and I think I got out of the blocks pretty slow. But I feel a major kick coming in the stretch run of raising our girls. I can’t begin to describe their amazingness. They become the source of every emotion in a colorful spectrum, and that’s just on Tuesdays. I love them to the moon. And back.

It’s upside down how old they are getting, which means how old I am getting. I guess that’s what we’re supposed to do, get old. And we’ve hit one major milestone in becoming old parents–Hope had her first nighttime, longer than 15 minutes, real babysitting gig at our house in the last few hours of 2011 (yes, we ended an 8 year retirement from going out on New Years Eve). As Braveheart and thousands of Dave Ramsey disciples have yelled, “Freeeedoooommmmm!”

A Tiny Smattering of 2011 Poems. I don’t know why I share these sometimes. But I do. A peek through the window at how I talk to god.

poems:


(inspired by the Black Keys, and bourbon)

sun where there is none
moving stillness under night
everlasting light

 
Walk About

I walk, with slow wonder.
A sacred prayer of movement in silence.
Quiet the mind and body to awaken.

I walk, not to see or find
or take. No summit or destination.
No seeking, only opening. 

I walk to listen. To tune
this instrument of self. To melt
into oneness with even
the mosquitos.  

I walk to be awake. To lose
communication, and be in communion.
I walk alone, and with all humanity and life.
 
 
Lenses

Clarity of focus,
but always in the way.
A smudge, a spec, a reflection
distorts the clear view of reality.
Helpful perspective,
and so nice to take them off.

The Black Keys – Everlasting Light Official Music Video

Football. By the way, all you Tebow worshipers out there (yes you Josh): there really is no need to remind me how upside down a year it was to be a Minnesota Vikings fan, ok?

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 11, 2012 in activism, business, etc., Family, poetry, rural, writing

 

Tags: , , ,

5 responses to “A Year of Upside Down

  1. cindythea

    January 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I was awakened this morning to sit by my computer and listen to the wind howling outside and the quiet stirrings within the house as my family sleeps. I am humbled by your journey. This gives a sneak peak of you aside from the intelligent analysis and activism. Much change is happening for you and I rejoice with and for you and your family. The poetry–songs for the soul, balm for the wounded places, communion with a stillness that resonates louder than all our busyness. CS Lewis comes to mind, but the words will not come. In gratitude I thank you.

     
  2. Kelly

    January 12, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I am positive there will be many moments in the future when we are proud of you, our son, but it will take a lot to make us more proud of you than your dad and I have been over this past year. You have taught me much about what dedication, dignity, being the “bigger person” and “taking the high road” really mean.

    And your poetry is pretty damn good too! Love you!

     
    • joebart

      January 13, 2012 at 3:52 am

      Thanks Mom. Love you too.

       
  3. Nancy Herman

    January 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Joe, as I read this it makes me both sad and pissed off! Joe you are one of the most honest, hard working people I know. You look out for doing good for not only your family but community as well. We as a society need more people like you. You are a great guy! Those people are just big bullies! Shame on them.
    Nancy

     
  4. What is Body by Vi Challenge

    April 23, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Very nice write-up. I definitely appreciate this site. Thanks!

     

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