Monday, August 27, 2012

Wonderland for the Kids in DCFS

Just a couple of weeks ago, I blogged about my personal experience of working for a good cause and how nervous and excited and thrilled and satisfied I was before and after the work was done. Imagine, if that small task of painting walls could bring me so much happiness and joy and a feeling of accomplishment, what would the artist be feeling right now who with her team worked night and day to bring a new Life to the room. When I saw the pictures of the finished room, there was only one thing I could say and it was OMG (Oh My God).

The artist who spent an entire week in this room did a fabulous job in bringing life in the room. Without much saying, I would like to share the great effort and creativity of her and the team who made this room a real wonderland for kids who are tormented by the hardships of life in such a small age and who look forward to the World we live in with arms wide open seeking someone to embrace and a heart filled with love and compassion.

Every single thing in this room is hand painted and hand made. The canopy on the ceiling, the King chair and upholstery on it, drapes, the cabinetry, everything is hand made and didn't come from some factory and assembled in the room.

Hats off to the entire Team.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Work for a Cause

I have asked this question to myself so many times in past and probably will ask this so many times again in future. What have you done today that was not for yourself but for the community, for the people and for some good cause with no self interest in it? 99% of the times, there is no answer to the question.Thanks to one of my co-workers at office, today I had an answer in real sense.

It was a wonderful experience and an awesome feeling after spending 4 hours with a team of people who are down to earth, experienced in Life and have had faced numerous challenges and ups and downs and not to mention, older than me in every sense.

This morning when I woke up, I knew it would be a different day. I was little nervous and a little shy about the fact that I didn't know how I was going to do what I was going to do. Although, I am pretty comfortable in what I was going to do when I am alone and in my own environment but this was going to be an experience of Lifetime and sure it was, a worth learning curve that will be of use for the rest of my life.

I was to be at the Department of Children's and Family Services (DCFS) in Elgin at 10:00 AM as a volunteer for painting the main room. I was excited because I was expanding my scope from small brushes to rollers and professional tools and from canvases to walls but at the same time I was nervous because I had never done this kind of work. Well, first of all, I never got the chance to do this kind of work because in India, labor is cheap and easily available and secondly, I never had this kind of attitude of doing these kinds of jobs by myself because there we always have someone for something and that something is not for you because you have something else to do.

So I woke up the same time as I do on Saturdays, did my morning chores, had my tea and took a quick shower. For a change, I didn't have to think twice today for what to wear because I had to be in something that's good to be wasted. As usual, I don't like to be late, so I started from my home at 9:30 AM and was at the DMV (the office where you get driving license in US). I didn't know if DCFS was inside DMV or around DMV, so called my co-worker, Christine, to ask her if I am at the right place or need to drive somewhere else. I was at the right place so found a place for my car and parked it. Within minutes, Christine and her team from the Church was there who work as volunteers for various kinds of projects.

I was quickly introduced to all the members and it didn't take me more than a minute to get comfortable with all of them. I sometimes wonder, if I am an old soul in a young body. Chris unloaded the painting material from her car and I picked the bucket full of rollers and tools and walked upstairs on the 2nd floor (1st floor per Asians). We walked through the aisles of DMV to the elevator and as I was walking, I recalled the day when I came to this DMV for my License test back in November 2007. It was a short walk in the lobby upstairs and at the end was DCFS. The outer room was to be left as it is but the main inner room was to be completely washed off and painted.

Doug was the Project Manager for this so he explained us all what needs to be done. His wife (sorry, forgot her name) after knowing that I am an artist too, showed me on her iPad all the things that they have planned for renovating the room. The theme for the room is of a Castle and all graphic, character paint work will be done by Tracy who will be working later in the week. So as every member came in and brought all the material, rugs were laid down on the floor and we all stood in a circle holding each others hands for a prayer. I had an intuition about this and I really wished while I was driving to this place to have this prayer because I wanted to see and feel Christian culture (we do the same in almost all religions in India) and I was glad that the work started this way. As soon as the prayer was done, we picked up our rollers, filled the trays with yellow paint and Doug assigned tasks and areas to every one. He took the higher painting job and the ladder to climb and I was given the job to paint as high as I can (up to 7ft high). Roberta had brush to fill up the corners and holes that rollers failed to paint and Chris took the rollers and concrete walls. After a quick brief lesson of how and what to do, I was all set to paint the walls (dry wall and concrete wall). Though, I will admit, I didn't feel like painting one side of wall because it already had very nice work done with dolphins and ocean, but had no choice. The order was to paint all the walls with the base color to provide Tracy (Pat Grace Green's daughter) a clean slate for her graphic work. The 1st coating took time and almost 2 gallon of paint was used but was done pretty neat. All nooks and corners were painted with thin brushes. We waited for the 1st coat to dry and as soon as the walls were dried, 2nd coat was applied. 2nd coating didn't take much time or effort, it was quick and smooth and by the time we were done, all 3 gallons of paint was used up to the last drop.

In the meantime, other ladies who were not painting cleaned up the outer room and setup the table for the lunch. We all cleaned ourselves and stood by the table as Doug said the Grace (prayer before the meal) and we all filled our stomachs. There was a lot of food from ham and turkey sandwiches to home made salsa by "Pat Grace" to watermelon, grapes, chips, cookies, soda and juices. I couldn't eat the sandwiches but salsa, grapes and watermelon was more than enough at that time of the hour. Finally, the work was done and I took permission and bid goodbye to all the members.

Other team members would be working for rest of the week that includes tiling on the floor, setting up the castle and furniture, 3rd coat of paint to match the castle walls, drapery, cushions (Doug's wife is sewing them herself), cabinetry and tables and toys. Once all that will be done, the room will be ready again for the foster kids to meet their care takers or parents who are in custody or situation because of which they cannot stay together.

A day worth spent....Here are some pictures.
(Doug explaining what to do, Lois in white)
(Face front: Roberta  Back: Janette)
(Christine caught in action..Chris told me not to publish this picture in office newsletter)
(Joined by Gary later on during 2nd coat)
(Oooo the tasty food)
(Janette and Helda. Helda works at DCSF and is retiring on 16th)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

D and D

Don't worry, I am not talking about Drugs & Diseases. This is another one from my so infamous Dream tales that makes me crazy and wonder what is it that my mind and body wants to tell me. Some people may find me crazy or even insane but honestly I don't know myself if this is because of me aging and growing old or getting close to insanity or perhaps just another dirty games played by my mind. But whatever it is, these dreams are taking me to new dimensions of research, study and beliefs.

I woke up this morning wondering what was going on in my dream and why the hell I had such a dream. But I knew that I wouldn't possibly find any answer to that, so I picked up my phone and started Googling (yeah there is no such term) about Dragons, Dragon Birth and Dragons in Dreams. Apparently, I am not the only one looking for something keywords like this. Google slapped 100s of matching results but my mind was not ready to dodge all of them that early in the morning and my eyes were not comfortable to concentrate on 3.5 inch screen of iPhone. So I just tapped on top 2 links and read as much as I could with those sleepy eyes. After reading those articles and relating to my dream, I still couldn't figure out what the heck this dream was all about :)

Let's see if anyone here can interpret or come up with a different philosophy...

I find myself with my brother in the dream in some house, appears to be ours but different than what it is in reality. We are kind of on the top floor standing in a huge balcony (almost like a terrace) with buildings in front of us. House is on the corner block with an elevated rail track running next to it. I don't know if it was early morning or late night but a couple drove by our house and somehow we got hold of something from them and they just left. It's very blurry now but from what I remember the couple seemed to be in tension or mental pain and stopped by our house. I was standing on the main door of the building (perhaps the entire building is our home) and the lady opens up the window and hands something over to me and without saying any word, just drove away in speed.

... Probably nothing here in the dream but a different time

Next I remember is a baby Dragon standing on our terrace/balcony and we both brothers kind of playing with him and preserving him (hiding) from the world. Dragon seemed to be friendly and happy to be with us. He was trying to fly and made several attempts by jumping and eventually flew high. He saw us standing on the terrace looking at him flying high and he just came back to us.

... Can't recall if there was anything here in the dream

He is all grown big and is very good friend of ours. He understands our actions and likes us. One day we let him fly because we are expecting a gathering and no one knows about the dragon and we don’t want anyone to know either else he would become a part of some freaky science experiment. Everyone on terrace is enjoying and suddenly I feel pain in my stomach and head and I fall down on my knees  holding my head and as my eyes get closed in pain i see a vision of a dragon birth. A big egg and dragon trying to break the shell to come out and then suddenly another vision shows up with a pregnant woman running in some abandoned area looks like a factory or wrecked ship where she gives birth to a dragon.

And before i woke up and opened my eyes the last thing i remember is seeing our dragon flying to our balcony again

Now, there were some vague thoughts that came to my mind but I’m sure none of them applies here.

Is my Half wife pregnant and somehow my inner self knows it and is trying to tell me about it? Well, definitely I am not the one responsible for her pregnancy if she is, I can't be (I need not say the reason but I know I cannot be) but she could be pregnant with the fact that she is married for over 7 months now.

I can't recall of anyone else around me or in my knowledge, who is pregnant and due to deliver soon, except for a friend of mine whose wife is expecting her delivery in December, but why would I get a dream about them?

One of the articles I read about Dragons in Dreams say and I quote " let yourself get carried away by your passion. This kind of behavior may lead you into the hands of enemies." Now, if it is for me, I am fine but why would I have my brother in the dream helping me out? Does this mean that I was doing something wrong and my brother being my brother was helping me knowing I am wrong? The same article also says "...In eastern cultures, dragons are seen as spiritual creatures symbolizing good luck and fortune". Ha Ha this made me laugh because for a very long time, I have not seen any good luck or fortune.

Another article that I was reading about Dream with giving birth to Dragon says "...seeing Dragon represents a tyrant and an unjust ruler. Giving birth to a dragon also represents a child who will be a great speaker or who will be known by different names, or that he might become a fortune teller or a monk, or an evil person, or a bandit who will be killed later". Wow now that is something frightening for anyone, though I don't understand who could I relate this to. I hope I can relate the former part to someone but definitely not the latter.

Different opinions and stories can be found on internet about Dragons in Dreams or Dragon Birth in Dreams. What do you think?