Day 21: Doing All the Things

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I woke up at 6:40 yesterday morning, ready to say hello to the day. That’s rare. Especially since I went to bed close to 1AM. The sun sparkled over the lake and hillside as I put all my craft stuff into the car, kissed Alan goodbye, entered the address in my phone GPS and headed toward Searsburg.

(FYI: The night before, Alan had offered to help me, but since I had nothing heavy, I didn’t bother to wake him. When he came downstairs right before I left, he asked, “Why didn’t you wake me? I said I would help you.” I assured him he could help me unload the car when I returned home. And of course, he did.)

I arrived at the Grange first and asked if I was setting up there. They said they were full and I must have a table at the church. So I drove around the corner, parked and descended a short flight of stairs to the basement.

If you’ve been in church as often I have, you know the familiar church basement smell. Damp, but not unpleasant, with the cozy memory of many potlucks lingering in the air. The ladies had soup and sandwiches available for sale, so the smell of several delicious soups filled the room, as did sound of pleasant and comfortable conversations as women and a few men set up their table displays and chatted.

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I had a whole table and a half for myself, which provided ample room for my pillows and wreaths, as well as the natural body care products, felt dolls and ornaments I displayed. The people were very friendly and helpful and I felt immediately at home. My cousin, Erica, and her daughter were there, selling floral arrangements and jewelry. It was great having family there!

The day passed by fairly quickly. It wasn’t very busy, but people came steadily, two or three at a time, and walked around the tables. My friends, Laurie and Grace and Kathy and Dawn came, as well as my Aunt Judy and cousins, Jayna and Kaylee. Seeing them was the high points of my time at the sale.

At 2pm, I packed up and was just about to go, when Erica’s daughter came over and held out flowers in a cute Halloween vase. They were for me, she said. Isn’t so humbling and wonderful when someone does something so sweet and unexpected? I thanked them both and drove home feeling grateful for the generous-hearted people in my life.

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After lunch and a nap, Alan and I finished getting the kitchen set up, prepared food and started applying our makeup. It took an hour and a half! Oh my goodness, I was so ready to be done. Alan’s makeup came out looking better than mine because he was more patient and careful, (story of my life), but we finished, cleaned up and threw on our costumes just as our first guests arrived.

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Lights were on, decorations lit, Alan’s Halloween playlist going and we talked, danced, ate and drank until 2AM. Each guest raved about the spooky and fun atmosphere and our costumes and had a great time being here. We went to bed happy and satisfied we took the time to make this party happen.

 

 

Play, fun and celebration are important to the human experience and make us healthier and happier. Our days may be full, but we need to make time for the kid in us.

What are you planning in your life that is purely for enjoyment? I’d love you to share in the comments.

Day 20: Showing Up

It’s officially day 21, but whatever. I just finished packing up my craft things for the sale in Searsburg tomorrow morning. Today was just full. I made two Pierre dolls, finished three ornaments, made four pillows, two wreaths and I took photos of five of Alan’s mini canvases so he could list them on eBay and can post on social media about them tomorrow. Oh, and I went to the gym and made dinner too: quinoa, roasted vegetables and Gado-Gado Sauce.

So I’m posting no pictures and I’m going straight to bed. But tomorrow, I’ll take plenty at the craft fair and at our Halloween party tomorrow night and post them so that will make up for the lack of visuals tonight.

Goodnight!

Day 19: Flow and NaNoWriMo

 

1CBABC93-BDCF-4020-B2F9-85382DB7E6CEAccording to Wikipedia, “In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.” ( Read more at wikipedia about Flow. )

And that’s what I got into today. Four or five solid, uninterrupted hours of totally absorbing, fulfilling and satisfying work throughout the afternoon gave me such a sense of accomplishment. Mostly because I haven’t had this lately and have felt frustrated about it, it felt particularly great. I sewed continuously and everything worked. or once, no stitches to pick out, no epic fails. I just made lots of cute things and cut out shapes for more.

Although I haven’t read his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World yet, I’ve heard Cal Newport interviewed on Todd Henry’s The Accidental Creative Podcast and know I struggle with focus and steering clear of distractions. This book is on my Kindle and I need to read it ASAP.

Here is a blog post by Srini Rao about Flow and Deep Work and ways he has oriented his own life toward this way of working.

Speaking of Flow and Deep Work, I am gearing up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I need to announce my novel on their site soon and am petrified. Has anyone ever participated in this or attempted it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on flow and deep work experiences and anything you know about NaNoWriMo.

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Day 18: Things I Love

Here is a list of things that either foster a creative environment, help me do my work or are a great source of recreation when I step away from making.

  1. Fairy Lights. I have them in the bedroom, library, kitchen, side room I just cleaned out and solar powered ones in the gazebo. They give a magical glow to any room.

2. Canasta Card Game. I learned how to play in early September when Alan’s parents came to visit. The past few weeks we’ve been teaching my son to play and he’s caught on so fast he’s beating me already!

3. My sewing machine. This one was a piece of cake to thread up and start using right out of the box.

4. OnBeing.org has conversations the like of which you won’t hear anywhere else. As I was sewing this afternoon, I listened to part of Krista’s interview with Ruby Sales. Deeply spiritual, intellectual without ever being stuffy, and so human you will find commonality with just about every person she converses with. This is a website and podcast for everyone, but I like to listen while I’m working.

5. Jen Hatmaker’s podcast For the Love was shared with me recently by my friend who told me about the episode with Dr. Brené Brown. I think Jen is fantastic and she earned even more respect for this episode. Go to jenhatmaker.com to find all things Jen and to subscribe to her podcast.

6. Eau Thermale Avène Thermal Spring Water is what I use on my sensitive face instead of toner. It’s refreshing and gentle and the large spray bottle lasts me nearly a year.

7. Do you ever get restless legs or just have trouble settling down at night? Magnesium lotion might work for you like it does for me. It calms me down and takes away that jumpy crawly feeling in my legs. Check it out!

8. If you bullet journal, this is the journal I recommend. It’s a part of my everyday life.

9. My diffuser. When I’ve had trouble with anxiety the past year and a half, the diffuser helped. Just add some distilled water and few drops of essential oils or a blend. It changes the atmosphere and can help relieve tension. I put it on for a pleasant vibe while I work.

10. My hammock swing. I have one in the corner of the library. I just climb in and chill whenever I want to. Sometimes I practice ukulele or write in it. Yesterday I climbed in, stretched out and took a nap while Judah was practicing his bass.

Day 17: Priorities

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Today I spent time cooking, baking and being with my son. My goal-setting nature wanted me to put everything aside except my preparations for the craft show on Saturday. That part of me reminded me of the number of days until the show and how much I need to accomplish, but my heart told me otherwise.

I needed to spend time with my son. I needed to see his face, hear his voice, listen to how he’s been, watch him practice his bass, just catch up with him and what’s happening in his world. It’s been a while since I gave him a ride anywhere, but his own car needs brakes and he’s driving it as little as possible.

So I picked him up, drove him to my house and he helped me bake chocolate chip cookies–his favorite. Then we ate dinner together with Alan. They ate slow cooker chicken pot pie and I ate a vegetarian, gluten free version. After we cleaned up dinner, we picked up our Canasta game where we left it last week. We played for an hour, with Judah winding up in the lead. Hopefully, next week we can finish it.

On the way home, we talked about relationships in an honest, grown-up way and I was amazed and proud of this young man sharing his heart and being so full of understanding and love. After I said goodnight, I drove home without the sad emptiness that usually accompanies parting from my kids. It was the kind of day that held beauty and grace in it and I am thankful for the opportunity to live it.

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Day 16: Pierre and Co.

 

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This Saturday I’ll be have a vendor table at the Searsburg Community Church and Grange Fall Craft Sale. It’s from 9-2pm. As usual, I feel like I’m not ready and have so many things I want to make if I can find the time.

Today I cut out and sewed little felt dolls. The original is named Pierre. He’s cute and a little creepy and he likes to hide.

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It’s fun to hide him and let someone discover him in a cupboard, their dresser drawer, the refrigerator, the shower, etc. Alan and I hide him on each other and it’s just a little way to say, ” I was thinking about you today”.

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Anyway, I’m making more of these little people and they’ll be available on Saturday at the craft sale or through Facebook and eventually Etsy.

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If you craft, what are you making this time of year?

 

Day 15: Hillbilly Elegy, a Book Review

I heard about Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance over and over in the past year. Since I saw it listed on the recommended reading lists of people of faith, I decided it must be a religiously slanted book and put it further down my to-be-read list.

Oh my goodness, but I couldn’t have been more mistaken. I obviously wasn’t paying attention to the reviews. Then when I noticed one of the local libraries had it as a choice for their monthly book club, I decided to order a copy. Although, sadly, I did not make it to the book club meeting due to family obligations, I did read it.

It opened my eyes to the real lives of modern-day hillbillies as told through J. D. Vance’s personal narrative. Funny, heartbreaking, interesting and revealing, his life story weaves in with his grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. You won’t want to put it down: from his mother’s rocky relationships with men and her drug abuse, to his beautiful sister rising above her circumstances and growing up to live a healthy, happy life, to J.D.’s own story of his early years growing up in poverty, ignorance and disfunction to becoming a successful Yale Law School graduate.

Be prepared for plenty of swearing, because I wasn’t. Like I said, I was under the misapprehension that it was a religious book. Ha ha! But there is a reason it has nearly 10,000 positive reviews on amazon.com. And it’s up to you to read it for yourself and find out why.

Let me know what you think and what you’re reading lately!

Day 14: Order and Beauty

9c50a14f-319f-453f-a8ae-7a94fd42fc4e.jpegEver since I moved here, I’ve been wanting to tackle the tiny back room off the kitchen. It’s kind of like a screened-in porch because it isn’t heated, but it has four windows and a large closet, wooden floors and cute wooden steps leading up to it.

It was filled up with boxes and packing material Alan saves for when he has to ship his paintings somewhere. And it had random things his kids had outgrown or he no longer had use for.

I’ve always thought it would be great to have a writing desk, chair and an arm chair or two with a few lamps, a small table and a stack of books. Oh, and an area rug as well.

Sometimes when Alan’s working in his office, which is the room next to the library, with his music on, and his son is in his room overhead with his music on, the library feels sandwiched between cacophony. If I’m trying to think, I need a quiet place to do that in.

So today, we pulled everything out of the room and closet. Alan decided what needed to be saved, what could go up into the attic, what was junk, what should be recycled and what could go to goodwill. I dusted, sprayed, wiped, swept, vacuumed and mopped. Most likely, that was just the first few layers that I removed because he hasn’t used the room all the years he’s lived there. (Over 13.) But it is much cleaner now.

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I set up a diffuser with lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils to freshen up the room, sprayed the chair with an essential oil spray I made and tacked up some fairy lights around the windows. Sage from the garden is drying on the window sill, a stack of books sits on the side table and the change is amazing. Every time I walk by I can’t believe how inviting it feels already.

 

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I still need to paint the room, the steps and railing in the spring, pull all the weeds around the steps, plant some tulips and daffodils and some perennials, etc. But we did it! We made it a space that fosters relaxation and creativity. I’ll be sure to show the progress here on the blog as it happens.

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Day 13: Behind the Scenes

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It’s nearly noon and I’m still in my pajamas. The gym is calling me and I hope I’ll be able to go, or at least do some yoga and Pilates here at home. This morning has been full of preparation and planning. I feel like I’ve been unproductive because I have so much on my To-Do List, but all I’ve done has been necessary.

At breakfast, I sat at the kitchen table and caught up in my Bullet Journal. Honestly, after using it the past year and a half, I feel quite lost when a few days have gone by without me opening it up. It’s a great way for me to connect with all the pieces of my life, to review what I’ve set out to accomplish, my ideas, little incidentals from my days and where I’ve wandered and what I’ve forgotten. I felt very centered when I went through the past few weeks, made a list of upcoming tasks I need to complete and crossed off what I have completed already. That boosted my outlook. If you’d like to learn more about Bullet Journaling, here is a link to The Lazy Genius Collective’s in-depth blog post about it.

I went on to my Morning Pages and let my thoughts scrawl through my three pages.

An then it was time to do social media posts for Alan and me because we have a gig tonight at Ithaca Bakery between 6-8pm. Plus, I updated The Inner Crazy website with some of our upcoming shows and I printed out the song list for tonight.

Does all of this make a difference? I believe so. If I don’t stay current, I’ll lose what ground we’ve gained. I have a goal of two gigs a week eventually. To get there will take many hours of posting, updating, photos, songwriting, recording, and doing it over and over again. I willingly accept the challenge and will work toward my goal.

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What behind the scenes preparation have you worked at this week?

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Day 12: New Book, Old Movie

On Tuesday, while eating lunch with my friend, I brought up the subject of transition. We discussed the discomfort, the unknowing, the misgivings and the reinterpretation and reinvention our own identities as we launch into the unfamiliar.

We all know we can’t progress or grow without transition. It’s necessary for life. But some days, the determination to take on the challenges, the exhilaration of the new, the anticipation of our destination fade into oblivion and we feel exposed, afraid, alone and are certain we’ve made a terrible mistake. Couldn’t we return to our old shell, our old nest, even if it was a bit too small?

That was me today. All the gremlins came back with a vengeance. All the things I need to learn and accomplish had me paralyzed. I couldn’t think clearly and decide on which tasks to tackle. After our music practice, I snuck up to bed for a nap, feeling guilty that I hadn’t really done much. Exhaustion weighed me down, so I slept for a half hour.

When I woke, I cracked open Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir and read “Read this Introduction”. I’m so glad I listened and read it. She explains that memoir isn’t linear, isn’t clean-cut and doesn’t gloss over the minutiae of life. Instead, it lingers on the tiny details beneath the surface.

And she shared some words which lifted me out of my overwhelm and took me downstairs to make brownies for the kids and coconut lime rice because I’d craved it all week.

“Writing is the act of reaching across the abyss of isolation to share and reflect. It’s not a diet to become skinny, but a relaxation into the fat of our lives. Often without realizing it, we are on a quest, a search for meaning. What does our time on this earth add up to?” (p.xxi)

Alan seemed to need a bit of cheering up today too, so we made Margaritas to go with the blackened portobellos, grilled chicken (for him and the boys), salad, delicata squash and the rice. After our candlelit dinner of yumminess, we cleaned up and watched The Corpse Bride which I had never watched. What an interesting, sensitive, dark and sweet tale. When the movie finished, we watched all the extra features about the making of the film. We were floored as we took in the amount of work and attention to detail, patience and level of excellence that was necessary for the film. Our spirits were lifted and I, for one, felt like my personal challenges were actually not as daunting as I imagined earlier in the day.

What is inspiring you this week?

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