Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Extraordinary Creativity

Deb Rumpel recently added a chicken coop to her home in the suburbs, just one of many creative endeavors she has undertaken. A homeschooling mom, adoptive and biological parent of three boys and spouse of 27 years, Deb is inspiring to know.

Welcome Deb!

Q) As a homeschooling parent of three full-throttle sons, how did you manage to maintain let alone stay creative amidst home life?
A) I don’t know that I was very successful at this. I think my creativity came out in different ways through different seasons. When we adopted our oldest son I wrote a lot of poems. I was finishing my English degree at that point and this was a good reflective release alongside of working toward that Bachelor’s degree. When we had our second son and discovered that our eldest had special needs, creativity was more hands on with the two of them. We did painting and clay projects. Creativity was geared to the two boys and then the three of them.

Now that the two oldest have graduated from high school and I am working with our sophomore in high school, I find that I have a little more wiggle room for expressing creativity. I want to get out the sewing machine as well as spend a lot of time dreaming on Pinterest. Last year my son and I got a Groupon for pottery throwing. I really enjoyed that. I would like to try glass blowing next. 

Creativity can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Whether it is trying out a new recipe or changing your table decorations, it is creative expression that can turn black and white into technicolor! I love to change the decorations on my kitchen table or find a new set of towels for the bathroom. I dream about different ways of making my garden more sanctuary like and look forward to spring when I can go to the nursery and pick out a new perennial to add into the landscape. God is the ultimate Creator and I feel like I am reflecting His character when I create.

Q) I met you 6 years ago and life has really changed for you since then.  What is the most impacting change you’ve experienced so far?
A) I think what has made the most impact is working on my own personal growth, figuring out why I fall back into the same patterns. It has been a very intimate journey and one that has been gut wrenchingly beautiful. The Lord continues to teach me about His grace and His care for me. He is giving me eyes to see that He wastes nothing. No matter how hard life gets, it is not meaningless. It all works toward a purpose.

I think the most impacting change has been learning to speak the truth in love rather than being a people pleaser and avoiding the hard discussions. I have lived my life not putting much value on myself. I have desperately tried to measure up. I have come to realize that I love others best when I love myself as well. I have come to know that my heavenly Father has given me value and worth. That fact has made it possible for me to love myself and others with pure motives.

Q) You’ve made an amazing amount of creative additions to your home. Has life always been like this for you?
A) This has certainly been a year of changes. We have recently replaced our uneven cement sidewalk and stoop with a beautiful brick one. It looks so wonderful. We also had ceramic, hardwood looking tile installed over the cement in our basement. In total Rumpel style, we didn’t stop there. We then ended up replacing the paneling with drywall and installing canned lighting in the ceiling. The basement has had an amazing facelift. It has become a place we are all enjoying. In the middle of all that we started the chicken adventure. I think this is normal for us.

I love being creative but it is tricky to try and fit it in. I get frustrated by the stops and starts because life circumstances barge in unexpectedly and force a break in my own agenda. I bring out my creativity only to have to put it back into a box and hide it in a room until there is space for it again. Sometimes, though, I can’t hide it and I must write or create. There is no holding back the dam when that surge comes forth.

Q) When and why did your chicken coop come about?
Deb's eggs
A) I love my chickens! I put a lot of other projects on hold to take this on. It was a lot bigger than I expected, but I don’t regret doing it. At first it was just my desire to have eggs and meat that came from healthy chickens (as organic as possible rather than raised on corn). Thankfully, my hubby came alongside of me and we did this together. We built a lean-to on our shed and a little run out of a dog kennel purchased from Craigslist. We are still in our first year and learning the ropes. There is still much to learn and fine tune in our little flock but we are moving forward. It is so wonderful to bring in fresh eggs every day and know that they are chock full of vitamins and protein. I am so thankful for all my neighbors who have agreed to let me explore this chicken craziness and have even chased them back into their pen if they get loose. I have the best neighbors!

Q) What were some solutions to the tricky problems you’ve faced?
A) Prayer is huge. I need to remember that God is the one in control and not me. I am totally dependent on Him. He is the one to meet my deepest needs. It is so important for me to draw near to Him and remember that none of what I face is happening without His knowledge. I am comforted in knowing that I am not alone and whatever I face, it is not wasted. He redeems everything!

Having a close support system is crucial. Having a couple of people who know you well and you can text, “Pray,” reminds you that you are not alone. Hiding when you are in trouble or struggling is not good. Seeking out a counselor when appropriate is not a weakness but a strength. Being in a life-giving church is important as well.

Q) Where did you find the strength and innovation to keep your marriage alive?
A) I won’t lie. We have had some pretty dark years. Being in the ministry, having three small children and huge medical bills really stressed our marriage. We kept putting “our stuff” on the back burner in order to put out every day fires. It caught up with us when we were both absolutely empty. We talked with a trusted counselor and worked through our own stuff and our together stuff.

We still don’t go on dates much but have learned how to listen to each other. We have “eyeball time” and go through our “highs and lows” from the day. We ask each other questions like, “What do you need from me in this situation?” We are more in love than ever before. Our relationship has grown so deep. It is far from perfect but we are committed to our covenant with one other.

We seriously like being together. We love making memories. We have fun quoting movies, VeggieTales, and random sayings from our kids. We love laughing together and do it a lot but not as an escape from talking through the hard things.

Q) Who was the most influential person in your creativity?
A) My mom was the one who really encouraged my creativity. She was always doing crafts and selling them at shows during my growing up years. She was a seamstress and artist at whatever she did. She made banners, vestments, and candles for her church. She was always trying new things. She did so much, even without the help of Pinterest.

When I went to college I had no idea what to focus on. She encouraged me to try my hand at art. I didn’t understand this. Even though I enjoyed crafts, I in no way considered myself an artist. I had never even taken an art class before. She took art classes at the same time. We both drew and painted. I thought she was much better than I was. Her encouragement tapped into me, though. I had my own artistic style and she nurtured that as much as she could.

When I was 24, my mom died of cancer. I lost not only my best friend but also my biggest encourager. Before she died, she tried to give me a crash sewing course on her machines. I never really got the knack for the whole making clothing thing but I stitch straight lines for crafty projects on the machine. I also love to write, especially if I have inspiration. I love to take pictures and create memories with them. Most of my creativity bends towards encouraging and blessing others. That is where my inspiration comes from now. It is so worth it to make a cape for a little girl or collage together some old pics to email to a friend. It is a blessing to my own heart to see a smile or hear, “I really needed that today.” I pray that the Lord will continue to use my gifts as an instrument for His glory. May I reflect the Father’s heart to those around me. “That all may see the good that I do and give glory to God!”

Are you an extraordinary ordinary creative like Deb? You can find her Pinterest wall and discover the 300 other projects she has going: https://www.pinterest.com/chicknhens/

Thank you for coming to the Extraordinary Ordinary blog here at lookandbe.blogspot.com, where ordinary folks with extraordinary stories tell their tales!

If you know someone with an extraordinary story, please send an email with the subject "Extraordinary Ordinary" to soulfixer1 3 (at) yahoo dot com (without the spaces of course.)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Extraordinary Hospitality

Extraordinary Ordinary Blog
by tlc nielsen

December’s guest Bente Rasmussen immigrated from Denmark 26 years ago with her family. She’s heavily involved in the Danish Sisterhood of America's Dagmar Lodge #4, which is where we met. She has served as president of this lodge for several terms and continues to be involved as Past President and Event Coordinator. She and husband Lars keep active serving the Danish community within the Chicago area while working full-time.  It’s been an honor getting to know Bente and her gift of hospitality. She’s always opening her home and giving her time to others.

Welcome Bente!

Q) How and when did you, Lars and the boys end up coming to America?
A) This is a story! In the early 1980’s Lars worked a lot in the U.S. He was actually laid off in 1984 and got offered a job in Chicago; he took it but I was not ready to move after he had been gone half a year, while I was alone with two toddlers in Denmark. He got a job back in Denmark.

Then in 1989, a friend who still was in the U.S. called and offered him a job in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The situation was different now. There was uncertainty in the job market. I had been a personal banker for 17 years and that bank was merging, so we could easily be forced to move to another city in Denmark.

The prevailing thought was that this was the second opportunity presented to him. We decided that we would not be in our 80’s and regret we did not take the opportunity that was offered, and on the other hand, what could we have to lose since our boys were 6 and 9 years old? In reality, a move is a move and we would just add another language to the challenges. After four years in Fort Wayne, we moved to the Chicagoland area.                     

Q) What were some of the surprises you encountered in the move?
A) To move from Denmark to U.S. you do not get a culture shock, since this country was founded by Europeans. However, there are differences that are unique. The biggest shock for me was that women were not more respected. It was like going generations back. I came from an industry where there was equal pay and opportunity for all.

Q) I know you travel home on occasion. What do you miss most about living in Denmark?
A) Since only our immediate family is here, we have always prioritized to go back at least every two years, especially when the boys were young, so they could keep the contact with the grandparents, family and friends. Denmark is a wonderful country, and what I miss the most is the security if you get sick and old. The social system is not perfect but it does take a lot of stress off families. It meant a lot that our parents were taken care of when we were so far away.

Q) You jumped into the Danish Sisterhood so readily. What motivated you to get involved?
A) I have only been involved with the Danish Sisterhood for about 10 years. Everything has its time. My husband traveled a lot, so I was alone with the boys and worked part-time, so with their school and activities there was no time. When they were out of the house, we both felt it was time to give back and preserve the Danish heritage for future generations to come. Many of the new members are second or third generations, and we would still have original things to offer.

Q) Besides Dagmar Lodge 4, where else are you involved?
A) Since my husband is also heavily involved in the Danish community, it many times involves me too. So I have prioritized the Danish Sisterhood, and always connected to the other Danish organizations and the Danish Retirement Home in Chicago.
Bente (center, pointing) at the Estonian House Christmas Market
with the Dagmar Lodge 4 Danish Sisters
Q) I saw you and Lars were up to more good with a service project for 2017. What is it all about?
A) 2017 will be a very exciting year for the Danish Community, since The Danish Home is celebrating its 125th anniversary. For the summer picnic, we are co-chairs for The Spirit of the Family with a Tivoli Gardens and Casino Night. The grounds of the Danish Home will be transformed to enhance the Tivoli Spirit with entertainment and games for the whole family, ending with a Casino night and more entertainment. There will be Danish open-faced sandwiches served and other Danish specialties.

Q) Outside all your extra activities, how do you and Lars juggle working your full-time jobs?
A) We also have a business in financial services where we educate in money matters and help people prepare for their future.  I think it is important to have passion for what you do, and then you will find the time. It is always a challenge to find the right balance.

Q) Who in your life has been your role model?
A) I would say it has been my Dad. Regardless of what happens and circumstances, you always keep a positive mind, find the good things and always look forward, never pondering on the past that you cannot change.

Q) What is something unexpected about you, that only a few know?
A) That I was a very quiet girl in my childhood, and nobody would ever expect me to do this move to the U.S.

Thank you for coming to the Extraordinary Ordinary blog! Please check out these links to Bente's Danish community groups:

The Danish Sisterhood of America:    http://www.danishsisterhood.org/
The Danish Retirement Home:  http://danishhomeofchicago.org/

More Danish organizations links, for those who are interested:  
Danish-American Rebild Park Society:  http://www.danishrebildsociety.org/
Vasa Park in South Elgin:  http://www.vasaparkil.com/
Danish American Chamber of Commerce: http://www.mwdacc.com/

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Update: ExtraOrdinary Musician Becky Cappelli

As I interview ordinary folks with extraordinary stories, I uncover some interesting connections. After the ExtraOrdinary Music post of June 2016, I found this picture of Becky Cappelli and myself in an old newspaper clipping, circa 1992, at my folk’s house. 
Lakeland Newspapers, TLC Nielsen (L) and Becky Cappelli (R)
Post interview, Becky moved and expanded her music studio and signed me on as a brass instructor. Her interview changed both of our lives.

Becky's ExtraOrdinary Music Update...

Since moving Songbird Studio to it's new location, which is only a couple minutes south from our original location, we expanded in hopes of providing more opportunities for teaching the joy of making music to more individuals within our community and surrounding communities.

At our new location we now offer three new opportunities!
  • Using the latest techniques, we offer group piano classes to motivate and impact musicians so they can enjoy a lifetime of creative and beautiful music making. Our students love making music with their friends! It's been a blast.
  • We have new teachers available to teach guitar, piano, trombone, and baritone. This has been a very fun and exciting addition.
  • We can now offer our piano students an extra 30 minutes to their private lesson time for activities in a setting where creativity meets technology - in our Music Tech Lab. Added recording abilities will be coming soon!

My favorite part has been the many new faces of people now able to become a part of Songbird Studio. The more the merrier. I am excited for what is ahead for us as we head into 2017!

Waiting Room at new Songbird Studio location

Thanks for visiting the Extraordinary Ordinary blog here at www.lookandbe.com! 

Becky's June 2016 interview can be found here: 

Link to Songbird Studio's website :