I’ve recently started rug-hooking. It’s the thing these days, post crewel embroidery…
I sit in my living room, decorated by the crewel panels my mother did, copying her activity, only I pull little loops through the linen with a tiny hook instead of passing a needle through.
It’s part of my fibre education – sewing, embroidery, needle felting, wet felting, knitting, now hooking. In some future time, I’ll combine all I’ve learned and make large lumpy installations to give to unsuspecting friends…mwah hah hah
In the meantime, I’m taking baby steps. Learning each skill in turn, sort of. Sampling the feeling of the different techniques, getting fingers poked and soaped and covered with bits of wool. Now I’ve entered a contest through Encompassing Designs, a corner of rug hooking paradise in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.. Every month, the shop owner and designer sends out a pattern. We hook it as we like, send in a photo. As you can see, the resulting rug will be huge. The thought terrifies me.
But the square for this month? Not so big. I can do it.
So, month by month, I’ll bite off a little chunk of the rug and work it through.
Now, if only I could take this approach to the rest of my life. Instead of looking at the whole picture and either leaping or panicking, maybe I could take it one square at a time?
Nah. Where’s the fun in that?
I’ve started a Tai Chi class, taught by a very soothing gentleman who is patient with our stumbles and questions and awkward poses. He may go home and snicker to himself, but somehow I doubt it. He seems suffused with calm. I find myself looking at him, wanting to get closer to his aura, somehow absorb it all.
But instead I try to memorize the steps, ease back and forth, move my arms around in circles, feel my body sway. It is wonderful, even as I miss steps and teeter.
He speaks a lot of Yin and Yang as we work, reminds us of the constant shifting from one side to another, controlling our weight as we move, maintaining a strong posture, holding the centre.
It’s all wonderfully applicable to this, my winter of discontent.
I’m not alone in the discontent, I think. This winter has been unusually harsh and we are already fed up, a lot of us, with the prospect of weeks and weeks of more winter to come. Add the usual and unusual trials of life and a lot of us feel buffeted, knocked off-balance, off centre and wobbly. We crave change, if only to alter the view.
And yet, change is already constant. The challenge in all, as in my Tai Chi class, is to keep centred as the changes happen, as we look this way and that, as we move forward and back, full or half-steps.
My balance is dodgy at the best of times. I race forward with enthusiasm and then find I am overreaching my abilities. I retract and grieve when really I should just seek balance in my new position, move into it or past it, stop fighting with myself as I go forward.
I need to remember that we naturally seek balance and I should ease into it, arms raised high.
As Anne of GG said, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it?”
And how much more so for a new year, fresh and shiny and full of life as yet unlived. My autocorrect changed “unlived” to “unloved”, and I suppose that is true, too.
I teach a course that advises against resolutions or goals. Instead it breaks down life into “action plans”, essentially baby steps towards a larger direction, but small enough you can succeed at them.
Failure is SO demotivating.
It works, that plan.
So I’m going to follow the idea.
This photo is of my hotlist of books I want to read, books I’ve bought and, as Francis Bacon would say, have only tasted and/or swallowed, not chewed or digested. They slip between mysteries to poetry to philosophy to literature to non-fiction to self-help. Some are funny, some are sad, some are deep, some dip their toes in life and shake off the chill. I think all of them are so-called “good books.”
Anyway, my den is FULL OF BOOKS. It’s hard to figure out where to start in reading and so I find myself wandering off and watching TV instead or tinker on the computer. Time to stop that. So my “action plan” is to read at least an hour a day not just before bed, when I can actually concentrate on what I’m reading.
And write reviews of the books so I can remember their contents.
And (gasp) write marginalia and underline if I feel the need.
Other action plans? Well, I have three. One for writing, one for physical activity, and one for family.
Let’s hope I can make it through the next few months without any mistakes in them…
As for love? I started the New Year profoundly grateful for the friends and family I have. I don’t think that will ever change. Love to all…
Ach. I am fed up with myself.
I’ve been a self-described writer for several years now and my publication list is just terrible.
It all started out pretty marvy, with lots of articles published about my silly life, a story published here and there, some entries in various professional publications.
Then I got lost in work, lost the miracle of writing, struggling to prove myself in a serious grown-up venue. MS stopped that for me, and in my heart of hearts, I was a wee bit grateful. I could devote my life to writing now – yay! Infinite writing time (except for the mandatory naps and the various disease challenges) – what’s not to like?
Well, five years later, I don’t have anywhere near enough to show for it. I’ve entered contests, had some success, but am NOT applying myself, as my mother would say.
I feel like a “writer wanna be” and I hate it. So I’m setting myself some goals.
It’s time to trust in what I can do, take it on, send stuff out, put on my big writer panties and get out there. Because regrets suck.
I’m taking a page out of Edith Piaf’s songbook…
So, here I be, 54 and counting. According to my family’s average, I have around 6 good years left. Everyone seems to have either died at 60-ish or made it to well over 80. I’m going for option two.
Or so I hope.
Why? I’ve accomplished quite a lot in my humble life. I’m still waiting for a published book, but other than that, most of my life goals have been met.
The only problem is that the longer I live, the more I want of it. My kids are now fascinating adults – I find myself stretching to keep up with their intellectual capacities. They have charming companions, who I enjoy tremendously and adore.
Late in life, I’ve met the perfect man for me – kind, loving, attentive and totally sweet. He makes me wish I could read romances without snorting.
Now, if only I could manage my pain. Ever since I heard that over half our support group didn’t have pain with their MS I have felt positively bitter that I have it. I want to trade my MS in for a less annoying version. But then I don’t know what that would look like. And it might be worse.
In any case, I do feel grateful. For the years I’ve lived, the experiences I’ve had, the wonderful people I’ve had the chance to know, the places I’ve seen.
Anything further is just gravy.
But I do like gravy…
I’ve been told for some time that I’m a flighty gal, given to lack of commitment, flowing like the wind. Lately, the noise is louder, now that I am thinking of moving far away, to the Maritimes, instead of being a good boring person and staying in one place. This is beginning to really get on my nerves. Being told you are flighty, at 52, kindof leaves you the vision of the White Queen, hair blown every which way, not able to make decisions or choose consciously, just buffeted by chance and one’s own stupidity.
They base their evaluation on 1. the fact I left a 23 year-long loveless marriage. 2. The fact I changed jobs often, not understanding that in my field I had to do so to advance, and that I managed such advance in a scant 9 years from temp worker to advanced management – while finishing a degree and parenting in my spare time. 3. The fact I haven’t found my heart’s desire yet, and so keep searching. 4. The fact I’ve moved fairly frequently since I left my marriage, whereas my ex has stayed securely in the marital home.
I, on the other hand, think that staying in the same job for years and years and years is stagnating and boring, living in the same town for years is mind dulling, and staying in a marriage where all one can muster is a tired hello is death-dealing. To be fair, most of them agree, when it comes to their lives. They just don’t see it as valid for me.
I feel cranky and judged, by people who don’t walk in my shoes. I don’t judge them! I don’t say to them “Geez, you’ve lived here for how long? Wow. How dull.” or “Don’t you have any imagination?” or “Geez, why’d you settle for him, or her, or that?” I know they find what makes them comfortable, as I must do.
I don’t rant at them about their need to put roots down, when I concentrate on the flowering. We all have different lives, different ways of approaching the challenges given us. My parents have been gone forever, it seems. My mum died 20 years ago, my dad 25. Surely that has an effect. I was dealt a blow with a diagnosis of MS two years ago – that gives me a very real framework on which to pin my probable next years. Despite these things, and the healing from the hurt the marriage loss caused me, I think I haven’t done too badly for myself. I am generally cheerful, try to help where I can, support others when I remember – you know, like all of us.
So stop judging me, right when I am reaching a goal! Maybe, maybe, when I get to Nova Scotia, I may find out that it isn’t as perfect as I thought it would be. Maybe, after a few years, I’ll be ready for other challenges. I don’t know, though. Every time I step into the Province, a singing starts in my veins. It may not be a perfect place, but it may be just right for me. For now.
Change = growth = change.
US actress & comedienne (1936 – )
I seem to be suffering from some.
Way back when I studied medical anthropology, I learned about a disease called “Susto” experienced by some Peruvian peoples, which occurred when they were scared or publicly shamed. Symptoms are much like those of depression, plus some vomiting for good measure. As part of the treatment for this, a guinea pig was rubbed all over their body. My text at that time didn’t specify several things that I wondered about, namely:
1. Was the guinea pig alive or dead?
2. Was it claws up or claws down?
3. What happened to the pig afterwards?
I’ve finally found out more about this practice, and it does not go well for the poor piggie, alas. Which makes me glad I don’t have a curandero around to help cure me of my current malaise. The poor wee thing would end up filleted.
I suspect my susto, demonstrated as it is by bad dreams, insomnia, and a general feeling of “meh”-ishness, comes from two things – first, an overabundance of holiday and holiday “cheer”. There’s always a greyness that overcomes me after all the sugar and forced gaiety and etc are over. It helps that I have to have a “tree of broken dreams” (an artificial one) in my apartment and that my every evening is filled with sounds of the romantic endeavours of my rather amazing upstairs neighbors. ( Honestly. They go on forever!. Maybe they are merely doing situps..).and that my family lives so far away from me and often at this time of year I feel the familiar loneliness of missing those that know me best. My children have visited and have gone back to their lives, far away. I miss them awfully and yet want them to have their own lives, just wish that those lives were a bit nearer by.
The second part of it, though, is from a review of my year, and the identification of the times where I’ve erred or been inconsiderate or foolish or done something of which my father would disapprove. Of where I could have made an effort and chose to not. Of people I’ve hurt or ignored or mistreated or whatever.
It’s at times like this I miss the comfort of Catholicism, where you can go into the magic box with the priest and tell him all the rotten things you’ve done and then he gives you a few Hail Marys to say and sends you out to sin no more. And you are mystically wiped clean and shiny bright. It’s so much harder to take on the responsibility for your behaviour on your own, to admit your faults, and to let them hit you on the chin.
So tonight, after sending my son off to study again and doing my part with families near and far, I sat and thought, like Winnie the Pooh, head in paw. I have made mistakes this year. Most were sins of omission – like c’mon, DA, where are those submissions you vowed to make, that budding writing career you promised to encourage and water and harvest? Some were the other kind, where I did and said things I shouldn’t have.
I don’t make resolutions, but I do look over the past year every New Year’s. And I set goals for the year to come. Once I have them written down, and I’ve tried to make things right with those I’ve hurt, I can move on, cleansed just as if that guinea pig was rubbed all over me (only I’ll skip the sacrificing afterwards, thanks – I already know where my problems exist, and that’s for me to know and the poor piggie to keep to himself). I’m hard on myself, but I know I’ll let myself off for bad behaviour at some point, so it’s good to start with the dry bread and water. Makes the Devon Cream taste so much wickeder.
So, my evening ends with a cheerful toast to the New Year, which starts, as Anne of Green Gables would say, “fresh, with no mistakes in it yet”. Tomorrow, my susto will be gone and my new life will begin.