Day 23: Crafting a Journey

Today I ran errands. OMG, it took five hours. I tried to get everything done, including all the craft supplies and the grocery shopping at three different places. Driving from Interlaken to Ithaca, I drove behind a pickup truck the entire way.

At the local fabric store, a very sweet woman cut my fabric for me, but took twenty-five minutes doing it. She talked about her own craft business and her divorce and how happy she is now. After the initial hello, I settled in for a good long listen. Maybe I have that kind of face? People want to tell me things. It was ok, but my progress was slow.

After all the stops, including Wegmans where I saw my parents, and two Trumansburg stores, I crawled home following a huge, red, belching dump truck going ten miles under the speed limit.

What I listened to the whole time in the car was this On Being podcastKrista Tippett had a conversation with Mary Catherine Bateson, who wrote Composing a Life, which I’ve never read but want to. She is also Margaret Mead’s daughter. I first really looked into Margaret Mead’s life in the fictional book Euphoria that I read last year. She talked about how our life can be an art form.

These deep and rich conversations help me evaluate my own way of living and give me tools to explore the questions about whether or not my life is going in the direction I’d like it to. Am I composing or arranging my moments, these fleeting days and nights, in a manner that I can be proud of? Am I generous and kind? Do I take time for the important relationships? Am I developing my character and not giving into selfishness and being blindsided by my natural tendencies and biases? Am I growing and enriching my soul with nourishing practices? Music, instruments, books, art all come to mind for me.

It’s late and there are fifteen teenagers partying outside this room, so my thoughts are jumbled and I might not be making much sense. But, check out that podcast, if you haven’t, and OnBeing in general. And please share what you think about it.

Day 22: Transition Tidbits

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So many people I know are in transition right now, including yours truly. What I’ve experienced and know is that while you’re in it, emotions are raw, negative thoughts can overwhelm, loneliness and fear live close by, and the questions about self-worth, purpose and future beg for your attention.

You might feel like you live in a dark place, as if you’re a seed in the ground, lying as if dead, solitary and useless. Nothing is happening! What’s the point of anything? Where are my people? Am I the only one?

If you’ve been through a transition or two in your life, you know the discomfort and misery associated with these seasons. The little glimmer of hope is: it’s just a season. There will be a close to this chapter and another one beginning. Here a couple things that are helping me through my own transition.

1. Dig Deep. While you’re here, you might as well quit ignoring the really important soul-searching you need to do. Explore the questions. Live the questions, as this poet said so eloquently on Goodreads.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Sit with those words and live the questions. Live the tears, the disappointment, the hurt when friends distance themselves from you because they don’t get it, Think about what really matters to you, who are the people you care about and who care about you. You are grieving what was, what is lost.

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2. Reach out. Some days will feel like too much, which is why we all need people to help us through. Reach out to the people who love you: your spouse or partner, your parent, your friend. Let them listen, share their stories, walk with you through this.

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3. Give of yourself. On the flip side, give through your hurt. Invite someone to your place for coffee or dinner, help them with a project–basically, do something for someone else. It feels so good to give to another. Your suffering will be alleviated when you do this and you will strengthen the relationship with a person you love.

4. Be creative. As often as you can, build creativity into your life. You might have some open spaces in your schedule to pick up an instrument you’ve been meaning to practice, dust off your bookshelf and read the books you’ve accumulated, return to a hobby or craft that used to bring you enjoyment or try something new. Plant a small herb or flower garden or an indoor window box garden. With Youtube, you can honestly find out how to do just about anything.

5. Dream and plan. Also, take time to dream and plan. Take the limits off as you write your dreams and make plans to move toward them. Transition may be extremely disorienting and difficult, but now is the time that you will find new inspiration, new ideas and bursts of creativity. Don’t miss these opportunities! Don’t settle!

6. Act on it. As the ideas come to you, find a real way to bring them to life. You might change your career trajectory, you might launch a business, you might make many new friends, you might write a book, get into visual art, start building things, develop a passion for cooking, or learn how to DIY just about anything.

You still have a life with the potential for growth in every way possible. You will make it through. Be kind to yourself. You are on a journey that is unique to you. Today is full of wonder and discovery, if you keep your eyes open.

Here are a few book titles that may assist you on your journey:

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey

The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom by Henri Nouwen

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer

 

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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