Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

Fidelia Hall (Spring 2018 Update)

It’s been a little more than a year since I last spoke in depth about Fidelia Hall on this site. Our “we’re really hoping it becomes a yearly tradition” Mother’s Day Plant Swap is right around the corner and with that comes the reminder for an update on all things related to Fidelia Hall.

Long story short: we’re still working on it. We’re a family of five who has one income and with that we’re still living a paycheck to paycheck kind of life. Our big outings these days are to the grocery store (Yay! We can eat!) and occassional visits to the movies (you have to spend a little to have some fun every once in awhile). We spend a lot of time in and around our home and with that we’ve become quite in tune and in love with our little 0.66 acres of land right in the middle of Titusville, PA. You may have read about me searcing for a new job recently. You’re probably wondering how someone so in tune and in love with their home was willing to give it up so easily. Here’s the deal: not everything in this world is so simple. I love my home. I love parts of this small town. I love our gardens. I love the fact that I get to renovate and live in a 145 year old church. I don’t like the fact that I make very little money. I don’t like the fact that I struggle financially to feed my family. I don’t like small town politics and gossip. Combine all those things together, and you get a confusing but very realistic picture of where I’ve been the past year…..At home, enjoying life, but trying so hard to get ahead and thinking about the possibilities out there. A perfect amount of happiness and confusion. A natural curiousity about what is and what could be. A very human thing.

The one thing that has changed is our living situation. 2017 was not kind to the actual house we live in: frozen pipes, leaking walls, mold in the ceiling and walls, and other not fun at all things you want in your house. With that in mind, we’ve developed a plan to move out of our home as quickly as possible and into the hall (aka the old church). While it sets us back from our original idea of Fidelia Hall being a community center for all people, it does something that is needed much more now than a community center: it gives myself, Haley, her mom, Finn, and Aero a happy and healthy place to live. Human beings should not have to live in a home that is falling down, has water leaking everyone, has frozen pipes, and mold in the ceiling. We need to take care of ourselves first before we do anything for the community. SO….we’re moving into a 145 year old church.

With that in mind, we’ve changed our mantra over the past year. Here’s what we’ve been telling people when it comes to Fidelia Hall:

Fidelia Hall is first and foremost the homestead of the Hoenke family. It is our hope that through our passion for family, community, creativity, sustainability, flowers, bees, art, fun, and food, that our contributions to the world will chip a tiny crack in the massive wall of negativity, fear, and greed that drives our culture.

We are not a business. We are not a non-profit. We are not a church. We are not a social club. We have explored every avenue and consulted every consultant and nothing fits. So we’ve decided to just be us.

Here’s a list of what we’ve done in the hall over the past year:

  • The downstairs of the Hall is heated. A big thank you to my father for his work on making this happen.
  • The upstairs of the Hall is heated. A big thank you to Haley’s father and his wife Audrey for making this happen.
  • Half of the downstairs of the hall has been wired for electricity. Thank you to Daniel Stockwell for the work he did for us.
  • My father and I ripped out some flooring and a wall that was damaged due to water. We put in a new floor and an entire new room. Part entrance, part closet, the space is a welcome addition to the dowstairs of the hall.
  • We ripped down the plaster and lathe ceiling in the kitchen. It was crumbling. Thank you to Daniel Stockwell for the work he did for us.

All of these projects were funding by monetary and sweat donations by members of our family. We thank them so much for their love, support, energy, and time.

Here’s a list of what we NEED to do in the hall:

  • Complete wiring the downstairs for electricity. We are so close to being done.
  • Restore water lines to the kitchen and add water and sewage lines to a new bathroom. Basically we have to run water lines to most of the building.
  • Set up an LLC so that we can do some business, run some events, etc as Fidelia Hall.

We still have some stuff to do, but as you can read we are nearing an almost finish line. At the moment, we have some money set aside to get ahead on these projects. If you would like to make a donation that will go towards helping us, you can do so here: paypal.me/justinwilliamhoenke. I don’t expect anything, but if you feel like helping I can promise you that your help will go a long way in helping us get ahead to make the Fidelia Hall space something that we can not only live in but also use to give back to our community.

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For now, we continue being the Hoenke family and doing what we can with what we’ve got. As you can see in the image above, we’re doing our second annual plant swap at Fidelia Hall this upcoming Sunday. We love this event because it not only brings in a lot of people but it also is a good chance to create community, share gardening resources and plants, and all in all it just creates good vibes in the world. If our home falling apart due to busted pipes and the slower than anticipated renovation of Fidelia Hall has been tough over the last 3 years, THE GARDENS OF FIDELIA HALL have provided us with a much needed outlet. Last year I personally became very obsessed with sitting in our gardens watching all of the bees in the borage. The bees gracefully flew around from flower to flower, sniffing and collecting pollen. You can tell they were very appreciative of these plants. It helped me realize just how much of a difference a person can make by doing something simple like planting some borage. Gosh these bees loved it, and in turn I fell in love with Haley’s idea of building magical and inspiring gardens. Heck! I even wrote this song about it:

Curious about our gardens? You can see their growth and evolution here.

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Thank you for your kindness, your love, and your support through the years.

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Life

Routine and Order

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This weekend my mind turned to routine and order in an attempt to understand the world which I see in front of me. I believe that there is a lot we can understand from routine and order in our daily lives. We can then apply what we learned in our daily observations on a larger scale and through that have an impact on our overall lives. All of the things which we come into contact with both physically and mentally are connected. As individuals we can weave those things together into a giant tapestry which tells the story of who we are.

I am a being of energy, and that with my energy I chose to focus on positivity, creativity, and love. But the energy of an individual needs fuel and for me that fuel can come through routine and order. Below are some examples of routine and order that are in my life. These acts are simple but they give me great energy. This energy is needed in order to act as a being of positivity, creativity, and love.

WHEN I AM AT HOME

  1. Prepare and consume tea in the morning.
  2. Shower, brush my teeth.
  3. Spend time in the gardens (weather permitting).
  4. Piddle around in the gardens. Move some dirt, tidy up the area, etc.
  5. Water the plants inside and outside.
  6. Let the chickens and rabbits out to roam freely.
  7. Clean and feed the chicken and rabbit area.
  8. Make sure the bird feeder is full of seed.
  9. Perform or compose music in the gardens.
  10. Sit in the hammock and listen to the world around me.
  11. Unload and then load the dishwasher.
  12. Wash, dry, and put away laundry.

WHEN I AM AT WORK

  1. Set up my work space for a full day of work.
  2. Read and record our daily circulation and visits.
  3. Prepare coffee for the library staff.
  4. Water the plants inside.
  5. Take 1-2 minutes every hour to stretch.
  6. Open the window in the spring/summer for fresh air and to hear the sounds of the world.
  7. Actively observe the library around me when I leave my office. Try to notice something that can be improved for the community.

Routine and order use energy, but at the same time it fills our minds and souls with energy needed to move ahead. When we are aware of the acts that make up our daily lives, we become more in tune with the world. As beings of energy who are in tune with the world, we are able to focus and reach our goals whatever they may be. This is where change occurs. Be aware of the moment and that you have the ability to produce positive energy and in return you will experience significant changes in your life.

Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Titusville, PA

Change The World With Positivity

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As I wandered into 2018 something inside of me felt off. I was not the Justin that I was just a few years ago and overall I was not on a path that allowed me to contribute towards a positive world. A lot of things in my life contributed to this. My family and I moved into a wonderful property that required more work than we expected. The long term effects of crippling student loan debt really hit my mind in a hard way. I questioned my role as a librarian and I questioned the profession as a whole, wondering if I was strong enough to do the work and if the profession as a whole had lost its overall focus. The country where I live entered a stage of great uncertainty, upheaval, and confusion. My immediate world and the greater world around me was off its axis. I let things be and thought it would correct itself, but it did not happen and that was when I realized that inside of myself I had the energy to make necessary changes towards a positive future.

I envision a world where all humans recognize that the energy they have inside of them can be used for good. I believe that positivity, creativity, and love are the three major things that we as humans should be focused on at all times. I believe that if there were enough of us that understood this and acted in such a way where our lives focused on positivity, creativity, and love that we would have the momentum to shift the trajectory of the world towards a brighter future.

I found out that I have the energy in myself to make necessary changes towards a positive future. To start, I had to understand this concept and then put it into practice. I put that into practice by saying these lines out loud to myself

  • I will work hard to have my heart and my head aligned.
  • I will express a message of positivity and convey this message to others through my words, both written and spoken.
  • I will encounter many different humans on my journey, and no matter what the situation is I will approach every single human being with a positive message.
  • I will understand that sometimes I may stumble along the way, but that I have the energy in myself to refocus.

 

Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music

Four Things That We Can Do To Change The World Together

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My brain has been humming quite a bit these days. As a result you will most likely get a lot of posts in the upcoming weeks based around what I’ve been thinking about. The overall theme is one of energy, positivity, creativity, and love/kindness. My head and my heart know that these four things connect in some way, and this is my attempt to figure them out and present some kind of cohesive statement.

I have been searching for something all of my life, and I believe that you are most likely searching for something too. We all want to understand the world that we live in. We all want to know if there’s a bigger picture out there. We all want to be part of something. In the past two years, I have struggled with this idea in my journey. When I boiled it all down, I came to the conclusion that I was, like Carl Sagan said many years, a bunch of starstuff that was assembled and now wander around the Earth. It felt right to believe this and while it still feels right to believe this I still had a curiosity inside of me. I am matter, one that was created and one that will eventually deteriorate and be absorbed back into the cosmos, but was that all that I could be? I don’t think so. I knew that I could be more if I wanted to be. With that, I thought about what changes the world. I tried to narrow in on the real forces that change thing. I looked at the people who have come before us that have had that kind of real and positive change. I tried to connect the thread between them all. I think I’ve got it. Everything starts with energy. Let’s jump in…

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”   -Carl Sagan 

ENERGY

We are beings who emit energy. There is a life force around each and every one of us who inhabit this Earth. I personally cannot see any manifestations of that life force, but I know it is there. I look up at this moment and see people all around me. I know some of these people, but there are others that I do not know. But each and every one of them gives off an energy. Some are positive and kind, others are off-putting and not something I want around in my life. That’s not the focus here. The focus for us is to understand that we are all beings who create an energy, and each of us have the ability to use that energy to change the world. All that it takes is a simple choice and then a declaration of intent: I am a being who creates energy, and I chose to use that energy in a positive, creative, and loving way.

If you feel this way, read that sentence and then say it out loud to yourself and the universe. Once you do so, you create a pact that allows you to move ahead in your journey. You are a being who will use that energy in a positive, creative, and loving way.

POSITIVITY

The energy that you as a human being have chosen to put out into the world is one that oozes with positivity. From your heart, your head, and your lips comes a message that is positive. Think about something you’ve said in the past that is negative, harmful, or that just does not sit well with you. Think about how you felt as you put that idea out into the world. Did you feel how it was just a bit off in your head, your heart, and in your gut? Chances are that you felt it but that you may not have been able to recognize it. The key to moving ahead is to recognize this and to change it.

One of the ways to move ahead is to craft a positive message and continually put that out into the world. When you craft this message and put it out, you will notice the change it has on the world. Positive messages are addictive. Negative messages are addictive too. But when you get on the positive message train, your addiction will be fed by the goodness you are putting out into the world. You will see that this positive message is having an impact, and in turn you will want to repeat your actions. Do that time and time again and what you’ve now done is contributed a great deal of positivity to the world. You have become a being who uses their energy to change the world.

CREATIVITY

I believe that one of the greatest things that a positive energy emitting human being can do while they are here in the world is to create something. The act of creativity means looking inside of yourself, capturing the energy that is unique to you, and then shaping that into something positive and unique and putting it out into the world. It can be anything: you can write a poem, create an album of songs, or make your own clothes. You can create anything because you have this amazing ability inside of you. We all have the ability to be creativity. All that it takes is for you to recognize that you have this ability inside of you and to say this to yourself and the world:  I am a being who creates a positive energy and I am full of creativity. I will put that creativity out into the world and use it towards positive change.

We should all search our heads and hearts to find what creativity we want to bring to the world. I myself love to write, both here on this website and also as a songwriter here. This is my creative act. I first do it for myself because I need to put this positive energy into the world, and then I hope that by doing so it creates a positive ripple that may somehow change the world. I may see this change in action or I may never see this change, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the act of creativity and the fact that all of us have the ability to create something positive for the world. Embrace this gift and use it so that together we can make the world a better place.

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I highly recommend Ellen J. Langer’s book On Becoming An Artist if you would like to explore creativity more.

LOVE/KINDNESS

We all want to live in a world that is positive and full of love. No one here on this Earth, not even the people who use their power and abilities for selfish and manipulative reasons, will say that they want negativity and hate in the world. Why is this? It is because at the core of every one of us is the need for a positive world. A positive world allows us to live, and every human being that has ever existed shares the desire to live. When we are alive, we are the living, breathing, and functioning embodiment of the starstuff that Sagan talked about. When our life ceases, we are still that starstuff but we are no longer living, breathing, and functioning. All of our stuff will eventually be recycled, but we do not know how long that will take. So we cling to the life we have at the moment, and a positive world full of love and kindness allows us to cling to that current life for as long as possible. We want to be alive and the best way to remain so is through love and kindness. Say this to yourself and to the world: I am a being who creates energy, and I chose to use that energy in a positive and creative way with love and kindness at the front and center of everything that I do. 

The first step we all need to take in order to change the world is simple: Read this, and say these things outloud to yourself and to the world. For love, kindness, creativity, and positivity to reign supreme over everything, we must first allow ourselves to be the energy creating beings that we want to be. You are everything and inside of you is the love that the world needs. Understand that love and then put it out into the world. Positive change will occur on a mass level when we understand the love inside ourselves.

This is a great moment in time where we can all make the decision to make a better world. I believe that with these four things in our heads and our hearts we can start to make a positive difference.

-Justin Hoenke, April 22, 2018.

 

Family, Libraries, Life

The Goal

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Statues inspire me. I want as many of them around my property as I can get my hands on. This guy is a weird one but I love it. He sits in our strawberry patch and just looks on at whoever comes to our backdoor. He’s magical.

Life in our modern society is a pretty freaking weird thing. We have an overall system in place that works actively to help promote individual growth and also to thwart that same growth. We are creatures that strive for change through accomplishments and advances, but that change comes so slowly that in the day to day it feels like nothing ever changes. What we hear from each other, those in power and those with fame are usually positive and sugar coated in nature, but underneath those whispers of “oh yeah everything is alright” is a much larger story with complex moves like a chess game, ups and downs, and things flying all over the place.

The minute after I think I have my “aha! So that’s the answer!” moment is the minute that I’m back to the drawing board. You can go through this entire blog and see that evolving and growing day by day, year by year. The best thing to realize at this point, for me at least, was that the answer will never be there and then someday I’ll die without the answer and melt back into the nutrient ecosystem and be born again as a tree. That happened a few years ago and, boy oh boy, did things feel a lot better for me once I realized that. Cue Elton John and that Lion King song. It makes sense.

A nice holiday break to end 2017 helped end a year that was a bit confusing on a clearer note. I woke up when my body and mind were ready to wake up. I engaged in the pursuits which felt natural to me (music, video games, reading). I stayed in pretty much the same location for quite a number of days, surrounded by people that I wanted to be surrounded with. I went outside and used the snowblower to make nice little paths for people to walk along the sidewalk. There are great joys in the simple, mundane things. The seismic shifts which once fueled my days are no longer necessary. I am getting a lot better at understanding and enjoying the little stuff.

Claude Debussy’s piano music is a good musical representation of what I feel in my head and heart these days. When I listen to the piece above (a collection of six solo piano pieces composed between 1901-1907 titled Images) I feel a sense of ease, wonder, excitement, and content wash over me. It feels right to listen to this music. There is so much wonder and beauty in these compositions. My mind wanders and I think about Debussy and what he may have been thinking and feeling when he wrote these pieces. What is it that compelled him to create such a beautiful thing?

What I want is a life full of creativity. Creating something is the best things humans can do in this world. Make some art, make some music, plant some flowers, have some children. The end result does not matter; the act is what matters. It is the act of creation that is really the only thing that makes sense to me these days. In a world of falsities and sugar coating, the act of creation feels more real than ever. When I write words in a document, record some music, or capture some sounds I feel free and I feel happy. There’s really nothing better than that experience. It fills up my soul.

THE GOAL is to live a life of happiness, to spread positivity and kindness, to create beautiful things, and to do work that gives back to people. I want to find the truth and honesty in all things. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I want this whole thing to be one huge adventure. I am happy where I’m at right now and I will be happy with where I go.

 

 

Family, Life, Music, Three Things

THREE THINGS 2017.5

OPINIONS ON THE INTERNET

On the day before Thanksgiving my family and I did our traditional “half day of work so that means we go to a movie matinee” event. We saw Justice League, a film that we were all pretty excited for despite the kind of average/negative reviews on the internet. And guess what? All four of us really enjoyed the film. It’s no life changer that’s for sure, but we enjoyed a lot of the moments, the characters (especially Flash and Wonder Woman), and the overall story. It got me thinking about the internet these days and how, even though it still has great moments, mostly a place where people come to have opinions, fight with others, and yell about things. It has become one giant drama filled clique, with people coming and going from conversations and every day a new topic for us all to post our opinions on. And I think that is very tiring. What can be changed? What can we each individually do to disrupt this trend? My plan is to be kinder, to think before I post, or to post less or maybe not at all. All in all, these things that we feel like we need to yell about on the internet are not all that important in the great grand scheme of things.

LOSE IT

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About two months ago it just *clicked* in my head that a big reason why I didn’t feel that great and that I wasn’t all too happy mentally may have something to do with how much I eat. I have always understood that what you eat can affect you, but I never thought about how much you eat affecting you. I’m of the mindset that I wanna eat what I wanna eat….and you know what sometimes I just really want Taco Bell. And that’s cool. I just can’t eat Taco Bell more than once a week, and if I do have Taco Bell I should be getting one maybe two things from the menu.

The LOSE IT app has really helped me. I got the free edition and I don’t ever plan on buying into the system. I use it to track my day to day weight and count my calories. This has worked well for me, as it has given me a better understanding of what I eat and how much I eat. Knowing these two things has increased my mindfulness when it comes to all this stuff. It has worked for me. I’ve lost 10 pounds and overall I just feel better and more alert.

HOLIDAY 2017

https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/holiday-2017/pl.u-J3oZsob7YR

Click on the link above for our 2017 HOLIDAY playlist. You’ll find a lot of the same stuff we put on there every year, but that’s because we love it! My all time favorite is still THE VENTURES CHRISTMAS ALBUM, which you can listen to below!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays to all.

Benson Memorial Library, Libraries

The Summer of Bathroom Issues

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A random gas station bathroom image I found on the Google

Nobody really wants to talk about poop, pee, blood, and other things you don’t want to find in a library bathroom but guess what? That’s what we are gonna talk about. Why are we gonna talk about it? Because even though we’ve had an amazing summer at our library (visitors and circulation are up!), I will forever remember the summer of 2017 as THE SUMMER OF BATHROOM ISSUES.

Compared to large urban libraries, I know that our issues in the bathroom are quite small. In my time in New Jersey, we had to deal with a patron who loved to chug vodka and leave the evidence hidden in the ceiling tiles. I can’t tell you how many times we dealt with used needles when I was in Maine. And in Tennessee, I remember alcohol and prescription medication bottles being the things we found the most. Here in Titusville PA we mostly deal with poop, pee, & blood, either on the floor, the toilet seat, or the walls. But here’s the thing: it shouldn’t matter what you’re dealing with in the restroom. All of this is unacceptable. And for some reason, its been happening more frequently here at my library. What’s going on in the world? Where is this acceptable? Is there something that we’re doing wrong? I ask myself these questions a lot. I think about poop, pee, and blood more than a normal person should.

I’ve had to remind myself a lot this summer to remain positive. Maybe they just missed the toilet? Maybe they’re embarrassed about what was very clearly an accident to them? I don’t know what causes these things to happen, but I do know that in order to continue working in libraries I’ve gotta stay positive. As the director at my library, I’ve gotta also remember to keep my staff positive. Of course we’re allowed to have a moment or two where we want to give it all up after we find a wad of toilet paper that has very clearly been peed on and then stuffed behind the toilet (for three weeks or so). In the long run though, we’ve gotta do our jobs, remain positive, and always remember that we’re doing work that is good work. Nobody wants to deal with this kind of stuff, but sometimes we have to so we do it, we have our little grumble, we remind ourselves why we’re in the library biz, and we move on.

To end, I’d like to share something very positive that came out of this. Yesterday a patron found something in the restroom that needed to be cleaned up. He asked me for some paper towels and I obliged, but I asked him if I could help. Here’s what he said to me:

“There’s a mess in the restroom. You don’t wanna see it and I don’t mind cleaning it up. I work as a janitor so I am used to this. And y’all have been so nice to me that I don’t mind helping you out.”

Despite all of the poop and pee that we’ve come across this summer, this interaction sums it all up: stay positive and be kind to everyone. Do your job and do it well.

Interested in more talk about messy bathrooms and all things icky about libraries? I suggest Matt Finch’s Code Brown: Design Thinking & Beyond feat. @jeromical / Part 1