What a super weekend I had! I was in the political, artistic and theatrical worlds learning new things, helping others and enjoying myself. What more could I ask for?
I decided to be brave and do some volunteer work again. I haven’t done much in that area since I was in my 30’s. Back then I think I was trying to get out of the house to get a break from raising children. Now my children are grown and I find I have more time, but less money, so why not help others instead of feeling sorry for myself?
Friday night I stepped into the political spotlight. The Ready for Hillary bus was rolling into town, looking for volunteers. Yes, me, me, please me! I did not get to see Hillary Clinton, who was attending a book tour engagement. But I did get up close and personal with those protesting her. I appreciate that we have different opinions and perspectives about political candidates. At times they all seem to be out only for their own good. So I certainly don’t mind anyone saying there’s no way they’d volunteer for this candidate or vote for her. That doesn’t bother me at all. What amazed me though were the disgusting, vile things the protesters were yelling at the attendees of the event.
First they were making comments related to her being a woman which would never happen if she was a male candidate. Then they were commenting about her work. Then they were talking about her husband. I’m not sure how they felt they were going to change opinions with their crass assessments of world affairs. When they started using the word ‘rape’ in their slogans, I stepped to the other side of the street. Not a joking matter in my humble opinion. Overall, it was eye opening experience and I’m glad I helped out. Boy it was tough holding that sign and my tongue for a couple of hours!
Saturday morning I moved into the more tranquil arena of a sculptor’s garden. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum is a hidden gem in Austin. It is a beautifully shaded park loaded with bronze and stone sculptures by Charles Umlauf. I always enjoy strolling through the exhibit intermingling with nature. On this day, I actually got to help out. The curator educated us about the artist and the process of creating bronze works and then two lively older gentlemen instructed us on how to properly care for a bronze sculpture. I had no idea that someone actually goes to every piece once a week to clean off the cobwebs and any other debris left by the local animals. Not only does this increase the public’s enjoymen,t but the life of the sculptures.
We had the added enjoyment of waxing them. I know to most it sounds like work, but it actually was a pleasure getting so close and personal with the magnificent pieces of work. I have never explored a piece of art like I did that morning. It became a much more personal experience. My sculpture, my handiwork, my waxed lovely. For those in the Austin area, you might like to know that the gardens are free all summer (http://umlaufsculpture.org/).
I ended the weekend with a bit of Shakespeare, my favorite playwright. Sunday night I volunteered as an usher for Austin Shakespeare’s youth presentation of The Tempest. Every summer a group of kids perform a Shakespearean play at a replica of an Elizabethan theatre out in the rolling hills. It’s not the highest quality acting, although you can see some future thespians in the making, but it is the most energetic. Another easy, but super enjoyable gig. Everyone was happy to be there and enjoyed the Bard under the stars (http://austinshakespeare.org/drupal/).
I don’t know why, but I was surprised how happy everyone was to see me at each event. I was thrilled at the experiences I was having, but they were thrilled that I actually showed up and was interested in helping again in the future. These days, they explained, it is really hard to get committed helpers. Everyone is busy working and doing multiple other task s. I understand. During the school year, I’m overwhelmed with my daily commitments. I do think however it is important to give something back to the community as you can. I had forgotten how good it feels to help in some way. I know I wasn’t adopting orphaned children or feeding the homeless at a soup kitchen, but I was contributing to the healthiness of the soul which is important too.