Stitch from Stash – April 2015

Month: April

Spent: $0

Earned: $0

Balance Forward: $68.46

In April, I did not pick up a needle and thread, not even once.  And because of that, I don’t feel like I even earned my allowance.  So nothing spent, nothing earned – my balance for May will remain the same as what I started out with in April.

It was just one of those busy months – we hosted Easter dinner for our family, then had an unexpected death and had even more family in from out of town for that, then a 1st birthday party for Finale, then a 1st birthday party the following weekend for a friend, and now this weekend is M’s birthday.  I feel like I’ve been running around trying to vacuum and keep the bathrooms clean in every spare moment!

April Moon, Day 13: Sometimes I wonder

… if I will ever grow up.

… if I ever want to grow up.

… if I’ll ever run an entire 5k.

… if I’ll ever see a healthy weight on the scale.

… if I’ll ever stop crying over my kids growing up.

… if I’m a good enough parent.

… if I’ll ever get a full 8 hours sleep again.

… if I’ll ever find that missing sock.

… if I should go back and finish my Ph.D.

… if I should have gone into accounting in college.

… if I am spending my life doing something that is worthwhile.

… if I should call out of work and spend the afternoon sunbathing.

… if better camera lenses would improve my photography.

… if I’m going to get old and regret it.

… if I spend too much money that I should be saving for retirement.

… if we’re all just faking it.

April Moon, Day 12: My favorite part of the day.

I can’t decide, really, whether my favorite part of the day is my drive into work, or right now, the magic hour between the kids’ bedtime and mine.

The drive into work is my time.  Absolutely silent, no radio, no one talking, no noise except the air outside the car window.  The sun is up and shining but the world is still fresh and damp as the night lifts away and hands over time to the light.  I have my coffee, I’ve had my shower, and the hours stretch before me filled with possibility.  My hair and makeup are done, and my clothes are sill fresh and crisp.  I have a gorgeous commute – I pass through a poplar forest at the edge of a river where the water is still and swampy and I’m technically on a bridge, although it feels like it’s just a raised roadbed.  Right now, the tree trunks are still stark grey against the dark water and it feels like watching a herd of zebras, the light making the trees and shadows into a swirling tangle of stripes.  The leaves have just started to bud out, the lightest cake frosting of lime green touching the tips of the branches overhead.  The summer is actually the time I think is the least pretty – with all the green all around, the trees blend back into the forest, just more branches in the tangled underbrush.  But in the fall – Oh!  in the fall! – those leaves blaze out into the most amazing yellow and it takes my breath away as I drive in and then back out in the afternoon.  Forget flowers – they are pitiful imitations of the color that those trees put forth in their glory.

On the flip side, I have my time now, here at the end of the day, at the end of all things.  The errands have been run, we’ve battled our way through dinner, the dishes are washed, the kids bathed and storied and nursed and tucked in and finally asleep, I have my last cup of reheated coffee from the morning’s pot going cold again in front of me as I type, and I have my own bed beckoning from upstairs.  We’ve worked out a sleep schedule (finally) that allows me more than a few consecutive hours.  Baby gets nursed/bottled/rocked/patted/whateverittakesdon’tjudgememan to sleep on the couch, and she hangs out with Manly until he comes to bed around midnight-ish.  At that point, he handles last diaper change and a final bedtime bottle.  I go to bed earlier and have a couple hours of blessed alone sleeping time (i.e., no one is kicking me in the face touching me), and then I usually get another few hours before she wants to nurse early morning.  Or before Smaller wakes up to pee and then starts yelling for me to come turn her bedtime music back on and wakes me up anyway.  Or before Mini can’t breathe from miserable allergies and wakes up needing a drink and medicine.  Or someone pees their bed, or their diaper, and I have to deal with it.  After that I may or may not get up and work out or stay in bed and desperately try to will myself back to sleep before my alarm goes off.  Off-tangent — tl;dr, my sleep still sucks most nights.  But right now, I’m okay.  I’m still hopeful that TONIGHT will be the night everyone sleeps through and therefore I will be able to sleep through.  One day, it WILL happen.  But I’m relaxed and I’m happy and it’s a good hour.

How can I choose?  I think it’s a good thing that I have multiple favorite parts of the day.  I haven’t even touched on that first blessed cup of coffee with milk and cream in the morning.  Or my running time.  Or the feeling when all three kids come running when they hear the door open when I get home at night.  All those moments are fantastic in their own ways.  I can’t pick one favorite without implying that the others are not as good, and that simply isn’t true.

I love my life.

April Moon, Day 11: Trying not to talk about it.

There’s this thing about blogging with prompts – no matter what the prompt is, your mind goes straight to whatever is bothering you the most at the moment.  So despite trying not to talk about it, here I am, talking about it.

  • We had a death in the family last week, someone I was not close to, but whose funeral required the presence of Manly’s entire extended family.  We ended up hosting some people at our house, and spending the majority of the weekend with guests.  Which is all fine and good, except I really didn’t have the time right now to shoehorn those obligations into my rather crowded schedule.  And honestly, I’m a bit resentful at the deceased (whom I was not fond of anyway) for interfering with my life.  That doesn’t make me feel good about myself.
  • The baby turns one next week.  It hit me that after that, I will never have another baby in my house.  She’s the last one.  And that makes me very sad, although I know that NOT having another baby is the right decision for my family and for me.  The internal conflict doesn’t make me feel very good.
  • Shark week started today, and my scale is up 7 pounds from where I want it to be.  The Bad Voice in my mind is telling me how worthless I am and how I’ll never lose the last few pounds because I’m a fat cow who prefers easter chocolates over starving. I know it is temporary, but it doesn’t make me feel good about myself and I’m struggling with self-love right now.
  • My mother called and told me they might not make it to the baby’s birthday party because of my father’s *thinghehastodo.*  Except, I scheduled the party SPECIFICALLY around my father’s work schedule so that he could attend.  It makes me so ANGRY because the thinghehastodo is a consequence of one of his hobbies.  And he refuses to see that this thing is a CHOICE that he is choosing to prioritize it over his grandchildren.  I feel like my dad has always chosen to put his desires in front of me and it hurts that he’s doing it all over again with my kids.  So now I have to deal with my own hurt, and set it aside at the same time to help them deal with theirs.  It makes me so angry because not only does he do this, he guilts my mother into (a) choosing to stay with him rather than travel here by herself and (b) calling to tell me rather than talking to me himself.  Manly says I should confront him about it, but there’s really no point.  He views himself as the most important person in the relationship and it’s only what he thinks/feels/says that matters, not anything about how his actions affect me.  Of course, I’ve been crying, so I have puffy post-ugly-cry eyes and a sinus headache to top off the emotional hurt now too.

There you go.  I’m a hot mess of hurt feelings in a shame spiral right now.  Not talking about it anymore.

April Moon, Day 6: Thunder

When I hear thunder overhead, I think of rain.

Summer rain, not winter.

The wind whipping the clouds along, pushing them, riding them in while we scramble to push lawn chairs and plastic balls into the shed before they blow away.

Warm, fat, heavy drops hammering my head and shoulders as I run between the car and the house.

Sitting in the car, in the house, in the office watching the droplets roll down the windows outside.

Canadian geese on the pond preening and washing in the sudden shower.

The wooden slats of the front porch swing at my godmothers’ house where we pushed off, back and forth, laughter and stories spilling out for an hour while we waited for the clouds to clear.

Thick, silken, humid air afterwards, wet enough to dampen your clothes even if you stayed out of the downpour.

The pinging of the tin roof at the old home place across the road from the farm (at my own house, the metal vent leading down to the kitchen stove).

The squish of my toes in the muddy earth after it’s over, the earthworms wriggling away from me back down into their tunnel homes.

And the sudden golden break of the sun back through the clouds after it’s all over.

April Moon, Day 5: Inspiration Strikes

Where does inspiration to create come from?  I’m not going to lie, my instinct is to shrug my shoulders and mumble, “Hell if I know.”  But that’s not really the truth, or not really the whole truth.  Getting inspired to write, or paint, or sew, or play around with my camera, or create some off the wall decorating project for a dinner party, or trying a new recipe comes from a fairly regular set of circumstances for me —

  • Weather: raining is good, it sets the stage for melancholy and forces me to roam the house looking for something to do.  Sunny is good, because I am solar-powered and bathing in the warm and the light charges me up and sends me looking for somewhere to expend that energy.  Crisp air in the fall, soft molasses humidity in the summer.  Grey is bad.  Windy is bad.  Snow and ice are bad.  Scorching summer hot and dry is bad.  Bad things make me cranky, and cranky me doesn’t want to do the work.
  • New magazines (I subscribe to Southern Living, Martha Stewart, and Better Homes and Gardens) make me want to make MY house look like that, or to try that yummy looking featured recipe.
  • Pinterest … is the tool of the devil.  But the pictures are so pretty, and I never think about the #pinterestfail until it’s too late and I’m up to my elbows in hot glue and glitter or a 72-ingredient list of which I am missing ONE crucial item.
  • Photo/post a day challenges like this one get me up and moving, and keep me prompted when my mind goes blank.  It’s like having a homework assignment, and I was very good in school.  Also, most of the challenges end up generating a social community of participants observing and commenting on each other’s work.  That positive interaction keeps me energized and going.
  • Mood: melancholy and a bit sad get me going creatively.  When I’m super happy, I’m less inclined to engage in the self-reflection that tends to bring out my best work.  Angry makes me want to run away and/or imbibe an adult beverage.
  • Availability of supplies.  Inspiration is 90% perspiration, isn’t that how the quote goes?  When I have my tools out and ready (computer turned on, pattern printed out, clean brushes, kids engaged somewhere else and leaving me alone) I’m much more likely to dive in and just try something, to lay down paint or thread.  If I have to take the time to find all my bits and pieces for a project, I end up frittering away my available working time and nothing gets completed.
  • Music.  You have to match your music to your project, your energy level, the lighting, your mood.  Incongruous music can totally ruin the moment for me, destroy my motivation to work.
  • Other people’s work.  The Artist’s Market, Etsy, the Art Museum, the Sculpture Trail, a new indie coffee house band, a fresh local restaurant – creativity is contagious, and seeing other people getting their passion on makes me want to go build something.
  • The right energy level.  I have to have enough rest (mental tiredness is killer) and I can’t be exhausted already from physical expenditure (run days and painting days don’t mix well).  The “I’m and introvert and I’ve had to deal with too many people today” recovery period is also a bad time for me.
  • Coffee.  ‘Nuf said.  It’s not really inspiration, but it’s creativity fuel.  Gotta have it.

Even with all that, you still have to sit down and do the work.  Sometimes it’s more fun, sometimes it’s less.  Sometimes I just have to get words on paper and out of my brain in order to function at work or on the task at hand.  Sometimes I like what I makes, sometimes I just like that I made it.  I try my best to enjoy the process without focusing on the outcome, and that keeps me from being so invested in whether it’s “good” or not.  I am my own worst critic, and I can’t listen to that if I want to get better, be better.  Because sometimes the moment is perfect, and the act of creation is perfect, and the end result so perfectly captures your intent that it’s hard to believe it came from your hands and not from the fairies.  That moment, that high is what we’re chasing, but you can’t rely on those to keep you going.  You have to find the drive within yourself to do the work when it’s not so easy, not so pleasant, not so pretty.  Those moments build discipline into a creative practice that you can fall back on when you aren’t so inspired.

April Moon Day 4: Relaxed

I am so rarely ever relaxed that I giggled a little when I saw this prompt.  It’s just part of the territory with small kids (or at least our kids), to have to constantly be on alert for the next fall, the next daredevil leap off the countertops, the next fight, the next bottle of food dumped all at once into a fish tank, the next plunge into the delights of the garbage can.  When I am with them, there is ALWAYS a part of my mind scanning the environment for threats to them and threats coming from them.

Work, obviously, is not relaxing.

Going out with my friends, surprisingly (or maybe not), is not terribly relaxing.  I’m an introvert through and through and I have to FOCUS on making sure that I’m paying attention to the thread of the conversation and responding appropriately.  I can’t just check out and take a breather for a minute – I have to be there and present and on performance.  The caveat is if I’m out with a single friend, I find it much easier to be social — too many people at once, and my brain short-circuits trying to keep up with everyone.

So when AM I relaxed?  Right after a run, when my body is so worn out that my inner voices just shut down and let me rest for a while.  First thing in the morning, when I get up all alone, and it’s just me and the coffee pot and the dog chowing down her breakfast.  At my parents’ house, where there are acres of unpopulated forests waiting to welcome me into the solitude and sheer beauty of the property.  After a big party when all the guests have gone home happy and full of food and the kids are worn out and asleep and it’s me and the stillness permeating the house after all that movement and noise.

The common thread is me being alone.  I simply can’t relax when anyone else is around and I have to wear my socially-conscious mask to deal with them.  Good food helps, and a stout beer, a good book or movie to sink into silence for two hours.  But the key really is having time by myself to rest and recharge.  Then I can relax.