Big Scout Project

Confessions of a (Temporarily) Fallen Scout

I confess. I may now be able to bake cookies on the dashboard of my car, make polymers in my kitchen, and identify a coral snake with a quick and keen eye, but it appears that I’m an awfully slow learner when it comes to those Big Life Lessons.

Fallen Scout

“Oh dear and hurrumph,” she thought. “When, oh when, will I learn?”

My last post was one year ago today. Even before April 9, 2013, I knew that I needed to step back from the Big Scout Project for a time. I also knew I’d be back, and I knew things would be a little different. Just needed time to figure out when and how.

Looking back on 2013, I’d have to call it The Year of Unintended Consequences. Unintended consequences, of course, are the unanticipated side effects of any action. They might be positive, negative, or neutral. You might be able to shrug ’em off, they might kick a bit of dust in your face, or they might open a mighty can of Whoop Ass on you.

I tripped headlong into some unintended consequences last year, all along that spectrum. They all offered some lessons worth learning, and I thought I’d share three of them with you in this first post in a year:

  1. Squirrels will eat through a highway of glue if there’s a pumpkin seed beneath it.
  2. Even the honorable Girl Scouts of America can mess with your head.
  3. Love, no matter how large, isn’t enough to sustain a marriage.
Let’s take ’em in order, shall we?

1. Squirrels will eat through a highway of glue if there’s a pumpkin seed beneath it.

Readers of this blog may recall a post in which I crafted quite the mosaic from all kinds of nuts and seeds. My GOD, I was proud of this. Each seed was lovingly, purposefully glued in place, and then I used a non-toxic clear glue to fully–FULLY–encase the seeds into my design. Not just one coat, mind you. Bottles and bottles of the stuff. To top it off, I applied many MANY coats of (toxic and stinky) polyurethane to help it withstand the elements. I proudly hung it on my patio wall.

And that’s because this satisfying creation just naturally belonged outdoors, surrounded by nature and its splendor. Oh, glory! It greeted me on that wall for months as the flowers grew and blossomed nearby. Those who saw my effort first-hand were so mightily impressed that they wondered if I shouldn’t go into the business of making such artifacts.

Then one day, I saw this:
The Disappearing Mosaic

See those massive gaps? WTH, right??

Entire sections of carefully placed kernels were just… gone. But how could that be? How could they have simply vanished? We hadn’t had any rain, and the missing seeds weren’t scattered on the ground.

It was a mystery, until…

Headline: Super glue-eating squirrel destroys local crafts.



Yes. Rather than crafting an artful mosaic, it appears that I created a food source: the unintended consequence.

I was really irked. I liked this thing, and its completion had given me a real sense of accomplishment. Concerned that this squirrel was probably going to have some kind of toxic shock from that glue, however, I hauled my hard work to the trash.

The Lesson??

Nothing lasts forever. Let it go. Adapt.

And adapt I shall! This mess gave me an idea for creating a purposefully designed mosaic bird feeder in which glue would be substituted with something like a flour and water paste with perhaps a touch of molasses. Maybe I’ll try it this year.

2. Even the Girl Scouts of America can mess with your head.

Longtime readers of the Big Scout Project know I started working my way through the badge tasks in the Junior Girl Scout handbook in October 2010. Those badges were the frame upon which I hung this entire project of lifelong learning in small increments. Damn, it was my veritable bible.

So I was truly confounded when the GSA came out with a radically revised set of badges and tasks in late 2012. Mind you, this wasn’t just an update of the old handbook–this was an overhaul. And, boy, did that ever mess with my head.Instead of offering the amazing array of (100+ !!) badges  over dozens of subjects, the new guide for Jr. Girl Scouts narrowed the areas of learning radically. The new configuration was great for girls, and lousy as a framework for this project.

Of course, there was no reason I couldn’t stick with the old handbook and just keep plugging away, right? I went back to the old badge book andreadthroughall of thetasksstillto be done. And I realized two things.

  • A LOT of them were, in fact, outdated and needed serious refreshing. That had to have been part of GSA’s thinking as they created the new badge book.
  • Most of them bored the hell out of me. As appropriate as they were for ‘tween girls, it struck me that I should up my game.

Case in point: in order to improve a sense of self-worth, Junior Scouts had to create a “mirror” out of aluminum foil and a paper plate, then give themselves a pep talk. Sorry, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I pay a therapist for.

The Lesson??

Nothing lasts forever. Let it go. Adapt.

And adapt I have! I am no longer wedded to my original framework. The unintended consequence of the change in badges (not that GSA should’ve known or cared) has helped me put on my Big Girl Pants. As of this post, the Big Scout Project takes a more adult direction. Honestly, I just want to learn some shit. You can read more about the change here, and see how the project will be tracked going forward on this page.

3. Love, no matter how large, isn’t enough to sustain a marriage.

I’m guessing that one look at that sentence, and you’ve discerned that my husband and I are no longer together. We separated in January of 2013, and our divorce was final almost a year to the day later. Love was never our problem. We’ll always have immeasurable love for each other. And the facts behind our dissolution are a matter of private record; you won’t find me spilling them here. But I didn’t enter into this marriage cavalierly, and I didn’t leave it lightly. Things happened, and there were unintended consequences.

So this third one on the list, this is the one that mattered. This is the one that knocked me to the ground and simply required that I step back from this project for a whole year, if only because sometimes we need to marshal all of our resources in different ways to get through a very rough patch.

The Lesson??

Nothing lasts forever. Let it go. Adapt.

Nothing Lasts forever. Let it go. Adapt.And adapt I must. In fact, that process began last summer and will be the subject of several upcoming posts. It’ll all be okay, and probably much better than okay.

So, hear ye, hear ye one and all. The BSP is back, and so am I. The goal remains the same–lifelong learning in little increments–but the focus is now more adult (after all, I’m a “big” scout).

While the framework has change, the principles in every scout handbook are still the guidepost: be a good person, and learn a lot of cool stuff.

I confess. Unintended consequences sure knocked me around, but it looks like they may have also pointed the way.


5 thoughts on “Confessions of a (Temporarily) Fallen Scout

  1. There’s no life that doesn’t have challenges–but every challenge (or problem as some call them!) has its own ‘lessons’. As long as you can find the take-away-lesson, you’re still in the game! I do curse that rascal of a squirrel for damaging your seed mosaic but the amateur photographer in me LOVED the photo of him ‘grabbing a nibble to satisfy his hunger’! Keep fighting the good fight; we all love you, dearly, Big Scout!

  2. Always a pleasure to read/see/hear your work, Ms. Grace & Grit. Maybe I’m hormonal, but I’m moved to tears by this post. Keep on keep in’ on, Jean. I know you will…and we still need to get together over a glass of vino…

  3. Well, the reason I signed up for your “grown-up” scouting site was to take away my great, unremitting sorrows (death, loss of family connections, etc. etc. etc.), back off from my lifelong love of figuring out Life’s Big Lessons, and just enjoy that old happy innocent good healthy feeling of being a Scout once again! Learn all those crafts! Or at least read about them. Earn some badges! Or at least imagine earning them. Its a mindset, and you have it, and its a great, great gift to those of us who are too “grown up.” Thank you for all your work (I love the squirrel picture), and best wishes with the Big Lessons. They never end, never stop teaching us, are never finished. Life is not a class, not a project, not a set of badges. There are no real “Lessons,” just us diving ever deeper into the richness of ourselves, our relationships, and the world, which can be full of love, passion, joy, and simple happiness. We just have to keep looking. Okay, I’m done.

  4. Hey lady! What I LOVE most about this whole thing is that you could have let all these things get you down and you did not. You MOVED FORWARD! I look forward to following your journey and maybe playing a long. Go you! & Creative Blessings!

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