Being Essential

I have thought hard about what I want to focus on in life.  There is work and there is family.  Those are no-brainers.  And my health isn’t the best.  I have some things I need to fix.  Not want to fix, not should fix – need to fix.  I know I will feel better if I eat less and move more.  Sigh.  And I need to manage my stress.  I have gotten a fairly decent meditation routine in.  I would like to amp that up with some regular yoga.

So exercise, yoga, and sewing.  If I focus on those things I think I will get better at all of them.  Each day I can make progress.  They vicious circle is finding the energy to do the things to give me energy when I feel so zapped.  Really zapped.  I know it is my blood sugar and thyroid.  And I know seeing the doctor and moving more will fix both.  But I don’t wanna.  🙂  But I will.

Today I felt pretty low physically.  But I did sew some.  A woman at work is having a baby  and doesn’t want to know the gender and doesn’t have a particular color scheme in mind.  Hello, creativity.

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I copied the pattern from a picture of a quilt a friend recently sent me.  Her quilt is gorgeous – black and white squares surrounded by white sashing and pale pink setting squares.  I had the black-and-white squares already cut.  I decided on mint and yellow ombre.  Love that one fabric provides so many different colors.  I am still searching for a back.  J will do simple straight-line quilting and I am going to work hard to improve my binding skills with this one.  I really do want to get better at that.

In addition to the constant stream of baby quilts, I have been working on the Gypsy Wife Quilt using a new fabric line designed by Robyn Pandolph.  The fabric is very shabby chic, harkening back to when I used Robyn Pandolph fabrics in the 90s.  🙂   I absolutely fell in love with this fabric, now I am just hoping it can keep my interest for the entire quilt.  I think it will be beautiful, but right now it is feeling a little same-y.

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In other news, my kittencat still is off-the-charts cute and sweet.  Although right now he is off napping somewhere, which means I can do some beading embroidery.  Absolutely impossible when he is near.

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Essential

As long as I can remember, I have been enchanted by the idea of a Renaissance man – a person who has the time, the money, the fortitude to become an expert in science and art and literature.  That is my compulsion.  Here is what I want to accomplish in the next year…

  • speak a foreign language fluently
  • read the best 100 english-language novels
  • finish reading all of P.G. Wodehouse
  • master 20+ recipes that are heartbreakingly delicious
  • be crazy strong, a competent beginning ballerina, and make it to advanced yoga
  • make a ton of quilts, finish a lot of embroidery and cross-stitch, make a handmade gift for every gift-giving occasion
  • relearn organic chemistry
  • regularly meditate so that I think more clearly and am more resilient
  • be crazy knowledgeable in the best of americana indie music
  • join an amateur improv troupe
  • become a deep expert in modern art
  • volunteer 100+ hours
  • make eating healthier a sustained practice
  • have beautiful skin
  • create a beautiful flower garden and bountiful, eco-friendly vegetable garden
  • learn to speak credibly about wine
  • find my voice and post regularly on this blog and have hundreds of people follow and like

and the list could go on, and on, and on.

Several problems here – several reasons why completing this list in the next  year is not possible – let’s start with the obvious ones…

  • I like to nap.  I love that feeling of falling asleep and surrendering for an hour or two.
  • I have a job (a job I love, but still a job)
  • I love some people and it is important for me to spend time with them
  • There are typically only 24 hours in a day – and that is inclusive of nap time
  • My adorable kitten cat misses me when I am away.

Now, for some of the less obvious reasons…

  • I like to be at home.  There, I said it.  I have fought against this my whole life – but single or married, I have always loved to be at home.  I love the comfort.  I love the low stress.  I don’t curl into a ball and start rocking myself, but I don’t like crowds, I am so over partying, and I don’t like to wear a bra or shoes any longer than is absolutely required by decency.
  • I love people, but I reach my breaking point of social interaction through work.  I have always been a person who likes to do everything to make other people feel comfortable.  Nod when I disagree with them, laugh at unfunny jokes, smile when they say something rude to me.  I am working hard to break the habits that are not helpful for my career success.  And I am pretty sure my immediate family would laugh their butts off at me claiming to be over-agreeable.  It is that strange spot with people who I am not extremely connected to, but friends with, where my crimes against being “real” are most egregious.  I am not going to tell you how it is.  I am not going to call you on your shit.  I am not the one to ask if your sweater makes you look fat.  I don’t like this about myself… but then again, I know never to ask anybody (other than my mom or my trainer) for honest feedback about my personal life or clothing choices.  (Again, different at work – I loves me some honest feedback about my work performance – that is helpful and doesn’t feel personal.)  Anyway… diatribe ending in 10… 9… 8…  I feel exhausted and lonely and whipped after most personal outings. And I am pretty sure my husband could live a happy life without ever again having to listen to me dissect what I really wanted to say after spending time with some people.  “Can you BELIEVE she said that to her kids???”  “Who says that my barrette is out of style??  Who DOES that???”
  • There are some things that I think I should be good at, but I don’t like to do.  (Insert old trope about women thinking they need to be all things to all people and have a Martha Stewart house.)  I don’t like to cook.  I don’t like to garden.   I want to speak a foreign language, but I am not willing to put the work into it that is needed.

It feels good to write those things – to be honest with myself about who I am and what I really want.  (If I have hurt your feelings with any of the above, please text me immediately and allow me to disavow all of it so that you feel better.  I was just kidding.  LOL)

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Recently I was introduced to the ideas of Greg McKeown.  The quote that got me…

“Instead of making just a millimeter of progress in a million directions he began to generate tremendous momentum towards accomplishing the things that were truly vital.”

OMG.  Duh.  By trying to fit everything in, I haven’t been accomplishing anything.  Greg’s work is focused on career success.  And I am making some changes in how I approach my work to fit in these ideas – while being so grateful for having that sort of agency in my work life.

But where I really needed this advice was in my personal growth focus.  I can’t be a Renaissance woman.  Let it go.  Move on to a new dream.  And decide what is essential.  And then make real progress in those areas.  I can learn German and grow sweet peas in my next life.

This week’s baby quilt

My life continues to be full of baby quilts.  I haven’t been quilting much lately, but the baby quilt to do list has been stacking up.  The latest one is pictured below.  It is an enlarged block from Farm Girl Vintage book.  I ended up tying it to finish it, but didn’t get a picture of the finished front.  And the backing is MOMO for Moda.  Love, love, love that fabric.

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My birthday just happened (woot!)  I had a fabulous day.  The family took me out for crepes, gave me beautiful gifts and funny cards, and then I got to spend the whole day sewing.  It was really wonderful.

And a new year brings new commitments to being healthy, writing, and sewing sewing sewing.  I have lots of piles of projects, ready to finish.  If I do a baby quilt a week (!!), I will be caught up with gifts and charity projects in 15 weeks.  Stay tuned…

Sunday Seven

Oh, hello, blog.  It is hard for me to know where to get started, so jumping in with seven things I have been doing or thinking about…

My perfect cat!  Toby is tiny and interesting, and at times a real shit.  But I am his favorite person.  Every morning he snuggles next to me on my pillow.  Such a small thing, but makes such a big difference in my happiness level.  Here are some pictures of Mr. Perfect.

Seasonal quilts!  The feeling of time is accelerating.  Weeks, months, seasons whip by.  I an attempt to try and mark the passing of time, I am planning to switch the quilt hanging in my dining room.  So far there has been Valentine’s Day and Spring.  Not sure what I am going to do yet for Summer.

Deadlifts!  I love them – and have a goal of doing them every day for the next seven days, and eventually being able to deadlift 120 lbs.  I couldn’t sleep last night and was at the gym by 5 AM cranking Beyonce and deadlifting.  I can’t imagine better music to deadlift to.   I have not picture of me deadlifting; however, this is an image of the type of contraption I use for deadlifting.   A hexagon-like thing.

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Baby Quilts!  First, I know TWO people who are having girls.  The string of baby boy quilts is broken.  I love baby boys, but am anxious to make some baby girl quilts.  I have gotten really, really bad about remembering to take and post finished pictures of baby quilts.  I know of at least two that have been completely undocumented and one that has been unreported.  That lunacy stops down.  I mean if I haven’t posted a picture of a completed quilt, did it even really get made.  Below is a WIP baby quilt, with a grumpy cat posing by it.

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And this is a quilt that I finished last year and didn’t report on.  I don’t have a picture of the completed quilt, just the quilt top.

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Cable.  I was hip.  I had severed the ties to the man, specifically the man in the form of cable.  I had Netflix, Amazon, Sling, HBO Now, Hulu.  But we spent so much time trying to find where who had what to watch that I was going a little crazy.  And I couldn’t just watch an episode of Ellen Degeneres or The Rachel Maddow show without commercials or when I wanted to.  Which I could when I had cable.  I still HATE cable, but I do love to go to one place that has 90% of the things I want to watch and I can fast forward through commercials.  I am not hip.

Drawing.  I am letting myself develop this skill slowly.  Like a kid would, I am tracing and copying to learn to draw.  And I am not beating myself up about it.  I don’t need to draw to feed my family or get a hostage released.  So I can be slow and bad about it.  I have drawn a few flowers recently and LOVE water color pencils and this book.

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Here is one of my forays:

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Being sparkly!  So many boring cliches to pack into a few sentences.  I love Big Little Lies.  I hate how I now look my age.  I have always been a fairly low-fuss girl.  I have never been recognized for my beauty or style, so I didn’t work too hard at it.   And my mother has always had flawless skin, so I wasn’t worried.  Ends up I don’t have my mom’s skin.  Ends up I have to do all of those boring beauty regimen things to not have my skin look like my actual age.  I hate that.  And I hate that I care enough to hate that.

In Big Little Lies (book at TV show) Madeline is recognized for being a sparkly girl.  I am doing my best.  Getting my nails done, moisturizing CONSTANTLY, accessorizing and putting on makeup.  I can’t decide if it is worth it.  I have decided I wished I didn’t care.  But it seems I do.

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Half-square triangles are cool

I got my mega 1/2-square triangle back from the quilters.  Mega because it took a long time.  And was lots of love.  And I am thrilled with the result.  It makes me very happy every time I look at it.

I love the colors – a jazzy rainbow.  I love the shapes formed by the random placement of blocks.  I have redone the quilt hanging on this wall three times now.  I think I am finally happy enough to let it hang there for a long time.

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I dream of a home that is spacious and new and simple.  But I also am nostalgic for the house we live in now.  Overflowing with books and records and fabric and funky.  This quilt  embodies that.  It is just so darn cool.

This is by far the best thing I have ever made.  I love that if you spend time and energy working on something, you get better at it.  Such a simple concept, but so rewarding.

Hello there!

I do not have a coherent post today.  I am often writing blog posts in my head – coherent, theme-based, elucidating posts.  And then I find time to write and cannot find the good stuff.  Today reflects the chaos of my mind right now – some miscellaneous thoughts…
Happy 2017!  As documented sporadically on this blog, 2016 was a challenging year for me.  The losses were (are) big. But there were some pretty big gains also – a new perfectly devilish kittencat, becoming a museum guide at the Nelson-Atkins, new friends, liking my job, learning new artsy skills.
Today I met with my trainer and pal Mandy and she said that the goal for me this year would be to become a lot stronger.  This makes me unreasonably happy.  Every month working with her I have been able to do more.  And the idea of crushing it is really motivating.  Really motivating.
I am fighting the urge to create 2017 resolutions.  I am fighting the urge to break down my life into a series of goals, create mini-steps to get each of those goals.  Entirely unachievable mini-steps, that is.  And I am fighting the urge to put all of these mini-steps in a spreadsheet and put little Xs next to each achievement.  Because it doesn’t work.
But I am trying to incorporate more of the things that make me feel happy into my every day.  I have started a Bullet Journal – and am avoiding Google Docs and Excel.
Every day I am going to work on getting stronger, meditate, blog, read for a little bit, create something, organize something, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  I won’t do all of these every day, but if I do most of them most of the days, I will be building a foundation for a happier life.
I have done a fair amount of sewing over the last month.  I made a purse, a tote, several  pouches, almost finished an advent calendar and started a baby quilt.  I didn’t get pictures of all of them, but here is what I did capture:

Fall!

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Doesn’t it seem like Fall flies by?  Definitely the best of the seasons and it always goes too quickly.  This year is no different.  We only have the kids every other weekend, so our fall weekends are precious.  When my stepson had an all-day debate tournament last weekend, we tried to get some fall fun in with my stepdaughter, but it was tough.  Every place was busy, no parking, etc., etc.  We did get this one adorable picture of her though.

I have been enjoying some sewing.  I have tried to focus on process rather than pushing to finish a lot.  I have worked on this quilt several weekends in a row – which is pushing against my desire to GET STUFF DONE.  Which is probably good for me.

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I have fluctuated between loving and hating it – but I think I am solidly in the loving it camp now.  I love all the interesting shapes the 1/2 square triangles and triangles make.  And I think I like the color palette – lots of low-volumes and neutrals and a purple-less rainbow.  I had cut several black squares, but it was too overpowering, so they were edited out.  Which means I will be several blocks short to be able to finish my quilt.  But I am ignoring that fact right now.

 

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I had to make 240 1/2-square triangles for this quilt.  Actually, 480 because I got a little baby 1/2 square triangle by sewing a 1/2-inch over from my seam for the big 1/2-squqr3 triangle.  About a third through the process, I taped guides on the machine so I didn’t have to mark my squares.  Lesson learned – going to do that from the beginning next time.

Happy Fall – I am hoping for cooler weather here so that this little guy will want to cuddle at night.

 

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