Welcome! I'm Ilene Johnnestoune, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Come join me on my wanderings, as I share my interests both within and sometimes slightly outside the SCA.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Being A Peer

Since being elevated to the Order of the Pelican, I have done a lot of thinking about what kind of peer I wanted to be.  While many of my opinions come from my own code of conduct, some of them are formed based on what I see other peers do and how they behave.  I have been privileged to know many outstanding peers, of every variety.  These are people that I look up to, and for me represent what our Society should be.  They are courteous, chivalrous, generous with their time and knowledge.  They give to their local group, their Kingdom, and the Society as a whole.  These are the people I want to be when I grow up.

Sadly over the last year I have seen more and more instances of peers behaving in ways that I feel do not set a good example.  I have seen people be unkind to others, selfish, dishonest, and so ego-centered that they do not see the harm they are doing our Kingdom.  What is especially saddening to me is that some of these are people I have looked up to in the past, as good examples to model myself after.  To see that they have changed so much causes me to worry for them, and the populace they influence.

While I am deeply dismayed by what I have witnessed, there is nothing I can do to stop it.  What I can do, however, is remind myself of what kind of peer I want to be, and live up to that standard.  I can choose to set a good example for others, and follow the good examples that others have set for me.  Here are the standards that I am going to do my best to embody.

Be Courteous
For me courtesy equates to being polite and kind.  In every aspect of my life I try to adhere to the rule that there is never a reason to be rude to someone.  I don’t always manage to keep to it, but I try very hard.  I will be trying even harder to make sure that I am being polite and kind to everyone I meet, even if I am rushed or in a cranky mood.  I will also try to be mindful that conversations do not happen in a vacuum, and there always may be others listening.  My words should always be such that I would not be ashamed to have them heard by others.

Be Honorable
In my mind being honorable is about following the rules, and living up to your word.  It is also about putting forward an honest representation of myself and my intentions.  I want to be fair in my dealings with others, and would ask the same from them in return. I can set a good example by honoring the spirit of the rules, and not just the exact words.  I can encourage others to learn the rules, and do their best to adhere to them.  When I give my word to something, I will do everything in my power to fulfill the obligation.  If for any reason I am not able to do so, I will speak with the person I gave my word to and find a mutually satisfying resolution.

Be Loyal to the Crown
Our Society is built on the structure of a monarchy, to the level that as peers and officers we swear fealty to the Crown each reign.  Even when the Crown has been someone I don’t agree with, I have still sworn fealty to the office of the crown and to the Kingdom.  For me being loyal means offering my counsel when requested or needed, upholding the decisions of the Crown even when I don’t agree with them, and always being sure to show respect.  Even if I don’t care for the people who are wearing the crowns, they still deserve my respect and loyalty while they are doing the job of monarch. 

Represent the Populace
In my opinion, part of the job of being a peer is to represent the populace to the Crown and vice versa.  It’s easy over time to become wrapped up in your own agenda, and not see what is happening with the populace as a whole.  I try to stay in touch with everything that is going on, and will try even harder to continue to do so.

Guide Others
As a peer, one of the stated responsibilities is to guide others.  For me this means offering guidance to anyone who seeks it, not just to my associates.  I want to be accessible and approachable, so that anyone who needs my assistance or advice can feel comfortable asking for it.  I will be as generous as possible with my time and knowledge.  I will share what I have learned with others, and in doing so continue to learn new things myself.

Rise Above
Seeing bad behavior in others, especially peers, tends to frustrate and anger me.  It’s very easy to give in to those feelings, and lash out verbally or with a poor attitude.  I am going to do my best to not give in to those tendencies, but to always think before I speak or act.  If I cannot contribute something positive to the situation, then I will do my best to at least not contribute anything negative.

Being a peer means being a pillar of our community, and I will work every day to be worthy of that honor.  Maybe through my example others will be encouraged or inspired to do the same.  If they are not, at least I will know that I am being the kind of peer I want to see.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Finding the Happy

I sent out that I was looking for a topic to write about, so that I could dust off this blog and start using it again.  In addition to several very funny suggestions from a few “helpers”, it was asked where I find my happy and my creative inspiration. 

I have a hard time with quantifying what my creative inspiration is.  For me, there are two types of creativity.  There are those who are inspired to create entirely new things, original patterns, artwork and so on.  Then there are those, like me, who are good at taking existing things and applying them in new ways.  I am not inspired to sit down and create art.  My inspiration comes from seeing things and wanting to learn how they were made, then try creating it myself.  For a long time I thought that this did not qualify as creativity, as I looked at others who could dream up fantastic things and bring them to life and felt that what I do doesn't compare.  I have come to realize any method of creating beauty is important.  We need the dreamers and inventors, but we also need the people who can take their concepts then replicate and teach them so that more people can enjoy them.  Both types of creativity are important, and part of populating the world with beautiful things.  I guess you could say that it is all the beauty and wonder that inspires me.  Rather than a sunny day or lovely garden, it’s seeing a woven belt or an embroidered hat that fires my imagination and has me wondering how they did it and if it is that something I can learn to do.

That leads in to where I find my happy in the SCA.  One of my biggest sources of joy is the opportunity to learn.  I am fascinated by learning new skills and concepts.  It doesn't really help me with completing projects, but I’m really good at starting new ones!  I love seeing how everything connects together.  With every field of interest, you can look and see how the basic concepts build, then connect to more advanced concepts, then spread out to other areas and techniques.  All of this is there, but at the same time it can all be traced back to a simple beginning.

The other main source of my happy is the people I've met in the SCA.  I often refer to my Barony as my home, and my close friends as my family.  This is very much the truth for me.  The love and support and encouragement I have received from the people I have been privileged to know is unmatched by anything else in my life.  They inspire me to learn, to be creative, to be more outgoing, to be confident, to be patient, to be kind, to be generous with myself and my time, to explore, to be so much more than I ever thought I could be.  The depth of feeling I have for those who have made me part of their lives is immeasurable.

I guess you could say that my inspiration and my happy are all wrapped up together.  I am in love with learning about beautiful things, and sharing that knowledge with others.  I am in love with the family I have found, the people I have met, and everything they have shown me about myself.  I love being part of an organization that encourages me to aspire to high ideals, and that recognizes me when I do good work.  So much of what the SCA has become for me is beauty and love.  I have to say, I think I’m getting the better end of the deal.