Touchstones

IMG_4031Today was hard.  I felt easily bruised, easily offended.  One of those days where being a grown up and choosing not to take my toys and go home was hard.  I have a pit of anxiety that I can’t quite place.  And I am oh so hungry.

I have learned in my baby-steps meditation practice to expand the feeling around anxiety.  Don’t dig in, but notice it generally, as if from across the room.  I am trying to do that with my anxiety and my hunger.  Notice, but don’t fall in.

I am working on having touchstones – everyday activities that can ground me.  Tonight I exercised, sewed, and now am blogging.  I think those transform my evenings from eating or thinking about eating to something else.  I don’t feel exhausted and ashamed right now.

I made this block during my hour of sewing today.  A fairly wonky thistle.  I made every mistake – put the green strips wrong side up, sewed the leaves upside down and then backwards.  When I got everything facing the right direction with the right side of the fabric, I called it.  A little bit wonky, but done.  There is a metaphor there that I can’t find right now.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Mocktails and inventory

IMG_4029There was this brief moment when I was perfectly together.  At least that was my memory.  At the time I am sure I felt like I had many things to improve.  But I was healthy (thinner) and had almost no debt.  I remember wearing a crisp white shirt and fixing seltzer water with lots of ice and citrus in a faux vintage antique glass from Martha Stewart’s line from K-Mart.  (Yes, this was a looooong time ago.)  I remember driving to meet a friend and sliding that glass into the cupholder of my Oldsmobile Alero and feeling very… something.  Chic?  Probably not – it was a glass from K-Mart in an Oldsmobile.  But maybe it was chic – or together – something that eludes me now.

The cultural start of fall was accompanied by cooler weather today.  Not freezing cold to kill dead the mosquitos that I HATE.  But that is too much to ask of September.  But a fall chill-ish in the air.  Fall always makes me feel relieved.  And it always makes me want to be more “together”.  I will be chopping off my hair soon and pretending I like to and am able to cook.

I have a closet to clean out and a ton of work and e-mails to get through – plenty of stuff I could tackle to be more “together”.  But tonight I made a mocktail and went through my scary sewing works-in-progress stack.  I have 28 projects that have been started but not completed.  28.  28!  TWENTY EIGHT!!!  Definitely not chic.  Martha Stewart would demand her fake vintage glass back.

So, like any reasonable twenty-first century girl, I made a spreadsheet.  I identified 17 projects that I can reasonably finish this year – one a week.  My criteria was ridiculously old (a baby quilt top I finished three years ago) or ridiculously close to being finished (a wall hanging that has one more side of binding to sew on) or both (my Advent calendar that I have only three more ornaments to make!)

IMG_4018

This is the nice neat stack of quilting work I will get done this year.

IMG_4030

When I have a lot of time to sew, I often choke.  This weekend I had two glorious days all to myself to sew.  And I. wasted. time.  But yesterday I hunkered down and finished this quilt commemorating our vacations to Colorado.  It was well-liked on Instagram.  I am not sure.  It is overly cheerful – but it will make a happy car/travel quilt.  I need to iron and send off to the quilter and that will be one of 17 done.

IMG_4014

Also, germaine to nothing except my squirrel-like focus for sewing projects.  Here are some cute little baby bibs I made for the cutest boy.  I got a snap setter in order to finish these off.  Is there anything better than a snap setter?  Probably not.  Except of course of the memory of Martha Stewart’s line for K-Mart.

IMG_4004

Ok, well now all I really want to do is make baby bibs.  Sigh.

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.

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.

IMG_3971

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

Flowers in the snow

We have gone to Colorado, specifically Estes Park, 3 years in a row now. It feels like our place, our vacation. Hopefully the kids will feel that way too as they get older and remember summers.

One of my favorite parts of the vacation is going up the mountain from warm air to cold air. I love cold – and so the opportunity to be enveloped by crisp air in July or August is relevatory to me. It is a gift for me. The first time we saw snow I kept exclaiming “That’s snow! In August – that’s snow!”

I am working on a quilt to represent Colorado memories. Rainbow log cabins, sky full of stars, mountains, and, of course, snow. This block harkens to flowers in snow for me – wildflowers and snow on the mountains – not that far from each other.

IMG_3961

And I had my toes painted white the first pedicure I got after vacation – just a reminder that not that long ago my toes were close to snow.

IMG_3953

deadlifts and dermabrasion

Small joys can amount to a happy life…

the feel of good deadlifts with real weight

coworkers that make work joy

a challenging and rewarding job

a squeaky clean face

finding my voice in situations where it was once lost

having experience to share

finding other humans who will expose their soft spots

an adorable kittencat who is thrilled to have you home

IMG_0114

Vacation

Hello… I am short on words today, probably because I was too free with words in my last post.  Yesterday I showed my soul, today I am going to show my camera roll. A sampling of pictures from our vacation… the aerial tram, hiking Lily Lake (and ignoring the admonition that no pets were allowed), knitting and sitting on our condo deck, taking a bumpy cold Jeep tour at Rocky Mountain National Park. Not pictured is when we rode horses, because, well, we were on horses.them

Gone

Driving up the mountain from Boulder to Estes Park.  Jeff Tweedy is serenading me.  I see a plane push up into the air making a fast vertical line of smoke.  Just as quickly, the plane dives, creates another line of smoke as it plummets to the ground and then pulls up right before crashing into the rocks.  And does it again and again.  It is so amazing, so implausible, I cry and holler and then sing with Jeff…

Remember to remember me, Standing still in your past, Floating still like a hummingbird

The plane wasn’t diving for me, the miracle existed regardless of me being on that road.  But it was all for me.


We are on vacation.  And the trip has been full of non-miracles.  The mountains, the tiny wildflowers, the waterfalls, the alpine lakes.  They don’t exist for me.  But they do.
On Monday, the first real day of our vacation, I woke up crazy early and drove to Boulder to meet with a woman who would take the pain away.  New pain and really old pain and loss and fear – gone.  Poof.  Pulling me up just before I crashed into the rocks.  

I think of big and small traumas from growing up.  And they don’t feel like they are happening.  My body isn’t bracing anymore.  The low buzz of anxiety is gone.  Gone.  Probably forever.

I have lost the desire to eat more than what I am hungry for.  Gone.  Hopefully forever.

I think of Laurie and feel joy and connectedness, not debilitating loss.  And always will forever. 

I think of stories of dumb things people said to me about being fat or ugly.  And I laugh.  Real laughter.  The anger is gone.  Forever.

This is a miracle.  But it isn’t.  It is a technique to fix the brain.  And it took 3 hours and it worked.  I am still me.  I still have to inject myself with insulin.  I still like a good nap.  I still have a gap in my smile.  But I am also not me.  I am not bracing for trauma from the past.  I am not eating to stop the buzz of anxiety.  I got to leave the parts that were keeping me from joy in Sonja’s office in Boulder.  She took them from me.  

Miracle.

For more information on Rapid Resolution Therapy, see here.

pneumonia and baby quilts

A bit of a ditch on the road of life the last couple of weeks.  I was hospitalized with pneumonia and a tummy infection and crud and stuff.  Prior to spending a night in the hospital, my longest and worst night was an overnight train ride from the sticks of Romania to the capital.  Pee kept gurgling up in the sink in the train car and drunk people kept crashing into our car and I spent the night willing myself to just make it to daylight without throwing up.  That night was a dream compared to the first couple nights in the hospital.  Really, truly scary and the deepest loneliness I have ever known.  Not to make too much of it, but truly horrible.

I am a week out from getting to (finally!) come back home.  And still the surreality of it all is overwhelming.  My appetite is back (boo!), I can go more than a few hours without needing a nap, and all of my symptoms that sent me to and kept me in the hospital are gone.  But the feeing of dread and fear and loneliness still can come back in an instant.  And in my dreams I still am stuck in the room with the IVs and the beeping and the pain.

All this to say, my heart goes to those who are in the hospital now.  And I am so thankful to be home and getting back to normal.

This weekend (in between marathon naps), I finished a couple of baby quilts.  Baby girl quilts that are just so darn cute.

First up is a quilt where the colors of the nursery are teal and coral.  Teal and coral become elusive colors – so easily becoming mint or aqua and orange or peach.  I think the scrappiness covers me – so many different teals and corals and mints and oranges and peaches, that at least some of them have to be right…

IMG_3922

The blocks are simple, but I love the secondary pattern that is created.  But the best part of this quilt is the back.  The stupendous Disco Kitty print by Ms. Pink…

IMG_3924

Those little kitties are just the cutest !!!!!  And this is going to a family that loves kitties, so win win win.  I did my favorite cross hatch quilting that gives a little diagonal pop.  And the binding is a teal (aqua? mint?) stripe that I think echoes the teal-and-white blocks well.  I am really, really trying to get better at the binding.  Time and practice and patience.

Next up is a frothy pink delight…

IMG_3925

I super sized a block from 12 inches to 24 inches and off-center framed it in my most girly pink fabrics.  This palette and flowery goodness is my jam.  Had so much fun making this  – and truly love that some people still want pink for little girls.  Very un-hip of me, but I love pink.  It just makes me happy.  And I think the old-fashioned blue-and-white floral works well with the pinks… and the big8flower sugar centerpiece makes me squeal.

IMG_3927

I backed this one with a peppy little floral to introduce a few more colors.  And bound in a simple solid french-ish blue.  And again simple cross-hatch quilting.

IMG_3928

Boo to hospitals and pneumonia and IVs and breathing treatments.  Yay to quilts for baby girls and pinks and coral and flowers and sunshine.

Bye for now… hope your summer days are filled with joy.

 

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.

IMG_0019

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.

IMG_3873

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.

IMG_3870

 

 

%d bloggers like this: