Things fall apart

IMG_3997Today is hard.  Not six weeks ago I felt I had the world on a string.  Was I too smug?  Was I too sure?  Had I bought into quick fixes and tricks?  Probably and always.

I am sinking.  Away from myself, my family, my goals.  But work is good.  🙂  No, really it is.  The blessing or my work has always been that there is enough and it is mostly challenging and interesting.  I can escape from fear and anxiety and make a corner within a corner of my world good.

But work always has to end.  I have to close the laptop and go home and face myself.  My health.  My choices.

The only way through is through.  When I am not doing well at work, I know the answer is to stop, evaluate, and work harder.  I am not doing well at life.  And I have never known how to fix it.  What does it mean to stop and evaluate?  What does it mean to work harder?  I don’t know.  I don’t know what is wheat and what is chaff.  Do I clean out a closet?  Go to the gym?  Have the tough conversations? Create an awesome meal plan?  I have no idea – they don’t seem like they would help.  So now I am doing this – asking the universe for help.  I am lost.  I am scared.  I know gazing at my navel is not the answer – but what is the answer?

So, here’s my plan.  Shut down my computer – quit hiding from life.  Go home.  Clean off a shelf, clean up my studio, create something, make a meal plan, workout, lay out my clothes for the week.  Or maybe I will just stay here and work.  I don’t know.

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I wish I wrote songs

I wanted to be a writer, that’s all. I wanted to write about it all. Everything that happens in a moment. The way the flowers looked when you carried them in your arms. This towel, how it smells, how it feels, this thread. All our feelings, yours and mine. The history of it, who we once were. Everything in the world. Everything all mixed up, like it’s all mixed up now. And I failed. I failed. No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less. Sheer fucking pride and stupidity.” – Richard Brown in The Hours based on the book by Michael Cunningham (clip here)

I have a healthy self esteem.  Maybe too healthy.  I know I don’t appreciate my healthy self esteem enough.  Basically, it it requires me to use my brain, I can figure it out.  I am not a genius and there are lots of things that would require me to work very hard – advanced mathematics, learning to read a foreign language, most physics.  I would have to work harder and take longer than most, but I could figure it out with enough time and effort.  I can do anything that requires patience and study.  As I walk this life, I realize not everybody feels that way.  That lots of people have been told terrible stories about themselves that means they doubt their ability to learn and achieve.

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I am kind.  I am smart.  I am tenacious.  I am generous.  I am lucky. I am creative.

I think I would trade all of that for the ability to write a good song.  Like everybody, music saved my life.  Mirroring my angst, my joy, my hope.  Ani Difranco, Jeff Tweedy, Cake.  A good song makes me feel the flutter of that thing that might be my soul.  I feel my chest tighten and something pushing on my head from the inside – a stress that I can never describe or understand this feeling.  The pain and joy of connection.  The pain and joy of recognition.  The god in your song sees the god in me.

I have been listening obsessively to Sun Kil Moon’s album Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood.  I have read pieces of articles that say he is rude and a sexist – I look away – that may be true but nothing is allowed in to ruin the peace and inspiration and exultation I get from listening to his music.  His ability to mix his earnest deadpan with music and insight and..«

 

I wish I could write songs.  I can’t find the words.  I can’t share the feeling.

I can’t prove my point through exposition, so if you get a chance, listen to the music…  my two favorites…

Bergen to Trondheim

God Bless Ohio

There is healing in writing poems
There is healing in psychotherapy
There is healing in taking walks along the beach
But never underestimate the healing of music, baby

Some songs are funny and some are sad
Some are short, some are long
There is nothing as healing and powerful
As the power of song

As the power of song
As the power of song
As the power of song
As the power of song

Dealing With Loss

IMG_2002When I sit down to write I get stuck.  This year has been hard.  So much loss.  Too much loss.   The latest being of my beloved Annie.  My dad and I drove a sweet puppy home a little over 14 years ago.  She was tiny and the sweetest little soul I have ever met.

She became my love, my family, my friend, my baby.  She stuck by me (literally) everyday.  So many stories of her that I need to write down before they are gone.  But it feels too raw.  Thinking of her face, even looking at a photo of her creates a stabbing feeling in my head and my stomach.  That feeling that she is just gone. forever.

And so I want to get back to blogging.  But I need a pass to not write about the loss.  It feels like I am being untrue.  But it is the opposite.  I can only be true to my sanity to pause from this rawness.

So blogging on some really shallow things, mostly quilting, is forthcoming.

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And then there is this little guy.  His name is Toby. He is new to our home and is giving me all of his joy and love in exchange for kisses and tears and cuddles.  He is giving me permission to breathe and smile.  He talks to me all the time.  When he gets scared he runs to me.  At night, he sleeps on my pillow and purrs until I fall asleep.  He is full of discovery – he spent hours on Saturday jumping in and out of a basket – I think he thought he was invisible when he was in the basket and was so proud of himself for discovering this.  When he is excited, he runs so fast his back legs get out of synch. He has no idea how cute he is.  He imagines himself a great hunter as he drags his stick and feather toy across the house.

I can’t imagine a better medicine for my sadness.

I love you Annie.  I will always love you.  And I know that me being ok was always the most important thing to you.  I am ok.  I promise.

Finding Quiet

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The longer you work, I think the more possibilities you have of creating something.  At least in my case, it doesn’t come through divine touch, it just comes through just work.

– Arturo Herrera

For a lot of my life, work was home base.  Homework and then working for a living.  And then there was the work of making.  I have always felt most myself and safest when I retreat to work.

But I have lost some of that.  I work enough – and people are always telling me how surprised they are how much quilting I get done.  And I am busy at work.

Work is not home base anymore though.  I feel my brain is distracted.  It is hard for me to accomplish.  Part of that is the unavoidable complexity of life.  But part of that is the noise I create with dumb TV and dumb smartphone.

My husband has the beautiful little reading nook upstairs.  It is quiet.  It is peaceful.  It reminds me of my great grandmother’s apartment.  Bright, quiet, and invitation to play or think or read.  I want to create that same space for quiet in my brain and in my home.

I seem to need to recommit to this daily.  It no longer comes naturally or easily.  It may be too late for me to rewire.  All I can do is try.  I know, dear reader, you can’t stomach me committing one more time to work and focus.  Yet, it helps me.  It really does.

This evening I stated to my family that I was never going to play a video game or watch a dumb television show again.  The kids witnessed this and looked back down at their phones.  The role modeling can’t start soon enough.

Cal Newport has a lot of excellent things to say about focus – and how it can lead to achievement:  http://calnewport.com/blog/

 

 

 

ISO: 29-year friendship

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Last Saturday, a friend of mine passed away.  She was 42.  We became friends when we were 13.  I still haven’t been able to fully comprehend.

We double-dated to Homecoming, Courtwarming, Prom.  I went to Worlds of Fun her inaugural weekend of being a dancing panda.  We rode together in her red escort.  Windows down, music up.  She helped me pull off all four of my 30th birthday parties.  I hosted the shower for her first baby.  We took a long trip to San Diego and LA together when we were 29.  Windows down, music up.  We attended each others’ weddings.  We knitted together and scrapbooked together.  We laughed so much.  Our lives intertwined together.

Because of my introversion and generally unrelenting awkwardness, I don’t have a lot of connection to my past.  I don’t have friends from college, I had maintained just one friendship from high school.  She was this beautiful thread through my life, tethering me to a place and a time as we both created families and worked.

And now she is dead.  We had been out of touch the last few years, but not out of each others’ hearts.  We e-mailed every couple of months, just to remind each other that although we weren’t in touch, we still thought of each other.  A few months ago, the company she worked for folded, so she was looking for a new job.  We were strategizing to bring her to the company where I work.  The possibility of that always made me smile.  Now it makes me so sad.

I really, really don’t want her to be dead.  I feel lost.  She was one of the best people I have ever known.

When things like this happen, I guess it is natural to reevaluate.  I have to strengthen existing friendships or make a new one.  Because there is this giant, painful hole.  Both mental and palpable.  I am not sure where to start – how to move past this constant desire to not have her be dead.  I have rejoined facebook.  It drives me crazy because I hate conflict and that tenuous line between bragging and sharing, but if I had been on facebook, Laurie and I would have been more connected.  I don’t know if that is the right place to start.  But I am lost.  I am in search of something I will never find.

 

Try, try, try

IMG_2673I no there is no try, only do.  But you have to try and do to get better.  I have ventured a couple toes back into the water of being a competent cook.  DH and I have officially been indoctrinated into the world of America’s Test Kitchen.  The recipes are tested – which speaks to my science-y schooling and upbringing.  The best recipes give me a chance to be good.

I still fumble and stumble in the kitchen.  But I am trying.  And inch by inch I get better.  Last night I made this taco salad – not much “cooking” other than making my own taco seasoning and lime vinaigrette.  Yummy, taco-y baby steps.

 

Grown Up

I have an awesome, all-to-myself, craft and sewing room.  A couple months ago my husband powered through and moved my cramped sewing space in our bedroom to a space of its own.  It is almost too wonderful to be true.  Which may explain why I suddenly have no desire to sew… but that is a different blog post – along with pictures of my new space.

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With all of my girly sewing stuff in a girly room of its own, we took the opportunity to make our bedroom a lot more grown up.  And I really like it.  I made new pillow covers and a wall hanging for above the bed before the desire to sew vanished.  I have a new bed quilt in the works.

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There is a new reading nook where my craft empire I was.  It is a cozy, wonderful little spot.

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The little kitten likes it.

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The wall hanging was made with the Spell It With Moda patterns.

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And it is home.