Friday, April 20, 2012

The Universe Knows

For my birthday last year, my sister got me a lavender mug that says on one side "Blessings are Everywhere," and on the other "The Universe Knows." I really should be drinking from this mug every morning... literally and figuratively!

I was talking with a friend last week about how I have a hard time just being myself. There are a lot of things I've internalized that tell me that I'm not "allowed" to be the carefree, silly, small-pleasures-loving woman that I am. I've gotten much better at being myself and I've stopped apologizing to everyone all the time for who I am, but some days it's still a struggle.

Right after this conversation I sat down to watch Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain with the SO. It had been a really, really long time since I'd seen it (possibly just after it had come out? so we're talking 10+ years). I didn't remember much (I'm pretty sure I didn't understand it very well the first time around) besides the fact that the movie was beautiful to look at. We put it on because SO had never seen it at all and we felt like watching a movie, which we've rarely done lately.

I'm not here to summarize or say anything about the film besides this: it was just a perfectly timed thing. Watching Amelie at this particular point in my life, and especially right after that conversation with my friend, seemed like a message from the universe. You are on the right track. You should be yourself and indulge in the things that make you happy. And there is nothing on earth wrong with picking up stones to keep in your pockets for skipping (or putting around the house on windowsills).

I like to believe there is something larger than me, guiding my life. It's not god, per se. Maybe it's just some hyper-aware subconscious sense that allows me to interpret the events of my life and draw meaning from them. I'd be okay if it were only that, because hot damn if that wouldn't be a miracle of science and the almost magical way our brains function. But I often wonder if it's not a bit more.

Anyhow, just walking around today secure in the knowledge that I am on the right path and that it is 100% okay for me to be myself since I'm pretty sure no one else could do the job.

Happy day, folks!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Crowding Out

I love this notion of "crowing out" the bad with all the things in my life that are amazing. I wonder and worry a little about the long-term psychological ramifications of such thinking, but as a short-term fix I can't complain. And in this vein, and from a blog post that made it's way into my email this morning, I want to talk about deserving.

What do I feel like I deserve?

Often, nothing. That would be the usual answer. Or rather, it would be the old-self answer, the answer that you'd hear me give in my moments of deepest angst and despair (of which there have been plenty, more than enough). But lately - more and more - I am coming to realize that, simply by being here and breathing and sharing this space with every other being on the planet, that I do deserve to feel good. To be happy. Because otherwise, what on earth is the point?

I really liked this list at the end of the aforementioned blog post, so I'm reposting it here (without permission).

I am worthy of my desires.
I was born free.
I am worthy of love and respect.
I am lovable.
I deserve:

  • eye contact
  • smiles in the morning
  • food made with pure intention
  • clean drinking water, fresh air
  • Hello, Please, Thank you.
  • time to think about it
  • a chance to show them what I'm made of
  • a second chance
  • an education
  • health care, including dental
  • multiple orgasms (and how!)
  • weekends and the summer off
  • eight hours of sleep
  • play before work
  • to change my mind
  • to say no
  • to say yes
  • to be seen
  • to be loved for what is seen.

I deserve all this just because I showed up for myself today.

And right now, I also deserve a taco. Because I want one, and there is a fabulous taqueria across the street from my school.


(Oh! P.S. - Happy International Women's Day! ^__^)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Checking In

It's amazing what can happen in a month.

Isn't it? I mean, we sort of just go along at a decent clip and don't stop to realize just how much stuff we do in the course of a single day. How do we remember anything? How do we recall that amazing dinner we had, or that awesome play we went to, or how our favorite person sounds over the phone? Sometimes I am simply staggered by how amazing our brains truly are, for cataloging all of these things that make up our individual experience.

Anyhow, the month of February was... a long, exhausting, emotional blur. I am not going to get into it much; too many things that happened don't belong on the internet for everyone I don't know to see. But a lot of it was really bad, and a lot of it was pretty good, and now I'm just trying to recalibrate and take stock of how to move forward.

Isn't that what it's all about, anyway? Moving forward? I always struggle with that. I'm always looking over my shoulder at what has happened, or looking ahead to what might happen, and never looking right in front of me at what is happening, and so I have this tendency to stumble. I mean, right now I'm putting one foot in front of the other and doing it reasonably well; I have a plan for the next few months and I know, generally, what my life is going to look like for the vast majority of 2012. But I feel so small, sometimes. I feel so... isolated from the rest of the world of people doing the exact same thing. Putting one foot in front of the other. Trying not to trip.

I don't want to feel this small. I want to feel so big that I could embrace every single creature in the universe and still have room for more. I want to feel like I deserve that. That I deserve to love everyone and everything, and have them love me, too.

The holistic wellness counselor I've been working with since August suggested I start a regular meditation practice (there are a lot of things I'd like to do regularly, like exercise... -_-), which I've kept up with for the last five days in the mornings before work. I find that checking in with myself in the mornings definitely helps to lift my mood, but by the time lunch rolls around I'm back to feeling tiny. And there are ways in which feeling small feels great (Niagara Falls comes to mind...), but lately the feeling small has not felt so great. I am just hoping that the meditation helps. I just hope that I can keep the practice going long enough to make it a habit.

I'm also reading Eat Pray Love, a bit late, I suppose. I am simultaneously in love with the book and wanting to throw it across the room because, yes, I understand what you're saying, but I will never have such an experience, simply because I'll never be able to afford it. Which depresses me even as the message she's trying to get across lifts me up. It's really weird.

Most things are really weird right now.

Still, I am healthy, loved, and have the opportunity to create beautiful things every day. Plus, someone else is paying for me to go back to school (again!). However I may feel (and I am allowed to feel however I'm going to feel), the external forces in my life are good forces.

It will have to do for now.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy Happy! and Some New Year's Woes

Happy new year, folks (all two of you who read this blog...!)!

Lots of fun and amazing things happened over the last month. There was a vacation (St. Maarten, amazing), a sinfully enormous Christmas present haul, the possibility of promotion at work, excessive use of the word BAMF!, and lots of time spent with people who just brighten up my whole life.

There was also not-so-great stuff, like my grandfather being in the hospital on Christmas Eve (the first time ever in anyone's life he missed Christmas) and the subsequent weirdness of the event at my grandmother's house. There was the weird passive-aggressive fight between my parents over the concept of re-gifting, and the declaration by all and sundry that my aunt is a lunatic for dating her first husband again (I don't share this view because I (a) don't know him and (b) think that whatever makes you happy, makes you happy). Let's also not forget me breaking my toe 10 minutes into the new year by politely stubbing it on the toilet seat in my friend's bathroom - fun times!

And then there was me suddenly becoming allergic to my deodorant.

TMI? Probably. But I am super frustrated by this, and this is my place to dump weird shit on the internet, so if you don't like it, kindly click away.

Yeah. I've been using Tom's of Maine for... oh, maybe 15 years? I'm highly allergic to 99% of commercial deodorants and Tom's was the only one that didn't make me get this crazy itchy rash. Well, for the last month or so... it's behaving like it's Old Spice under there. And I do a little research, and it appears that, for the first time in 15 years, they've changed their deodorant formula.

I don't know how they changed it (as they don't list old formulas on their website, and I don't save deodorant containers), but changed it they have, and my underarms are sad little pits of fiery, itchy Hell.

And, despite there being a big movement these days for more "natural," and certainly chemical-free, bath and body products, I have started thinking more along the lines of making as many of these things for my household as possible, right in my own kitchen, where I have control over what goes in (or not) to what I'm putting on my body.

Taking a cue from my friend over at I'll Probably Regret This, in late December (actually, right after my last post) I started washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. It's amazing. It probably worked so well for me because I'm sort of a dirty hippie, anyway, and really only shower twice a week (except in summer time, when it's too hot to do anything but sit in the bathtub, since I don't have a pool), but my hair is clean, and shiny, and smooth, and gorgeous. So, if this can be true of a recipe adapted (ganked) from Crunchy Betty, then perhaps I should start making my own deodorant, too.

Naturally I've gone and gotten all the ingredients. Or rather, I've made my boyfriend go get them, since I am hobbling around on a broken toe and walking too much makes it hurty.

So, moving forward is an experiment in deodorizing myself without any heavy metals or nasty un-pronounceable chemicals that don't belong in my system. I suppose I shall let people know how it goes. Mostly, I'm just looking forward to not being so damned itchy all the time.

Also, rather than "make resolutions" (which I never do), I've made a list of things that I intend to do this year. The list is rather vague and unspecific at the moment, but hopefully I'll have a minute sometime to really sit down and be a bit more thorough defining what I want for myself this year.

Here we go.

1.) Cook more. Not just "we should cook more and eat out less," because that's been happening. I mean me, in the kitchen, following recipes and making meals for myself and my boyfriend. More. Because right now the split for cooking dinner is about 98% to 2% in his favor (or mine, if you consider cooking to be a chore, I suppose).

2.) Troll through my psychological crap and start dealing with it. By day, I feel like I live a charmed life, and yet by night I have the most horrific nightmares. And they have progressed (regressed?) from your typical, disembodied-evil-is-chasing-me-and-my-legs-have-forgotten-how-to-function sort of nightmares to much more specific and easily identified psychological tropes, like some bimbo in a wedding dress trying to steal my boyfriend and him not noticing at all. The plan right now is to start keeping a dream "diary" of sorts. Write the dreams out the instant I wake up, and then later in the day start looking for patterns and what those might have to say about my insecurities. We'll see how it goes.

3.) Throw more pots! Speaks for itself, really. I want to finish at least two of my 100-objects series this year. I'm 13 pots into my 100 Cylinders project. I'll do 100 Bowls after that. The other side-affect goal here is to be able to sell these things at a physical craft fair this year, maybe around holiday time.

4.) Quilt more things! Specifically, I'd love to make small quilts. As in, coasters and trivets and place-mats small. I'm working on The Big Quilt for this year, but after that, everything must be tiny! No bigger than my biggest book! And of course, I'd love to sell these things at that same craft fair, too.

5.) Get clear on my vision of myself. I'm still not 100% sure what that means or how I'm going to get there. ^.^;; Any suggestions?

Big things in store for 2012, kiddies. The journey... continues.

Good luck everyone! ^_^

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Praticing Gratitude

I know this is sort of a tired subject as I've seen it flying around since the week before Thanksgiving, but... gratitude.

I started "practicing gratitude" in November while I was doing a cleanse with my nutritionist. She's into holistic work, so part of the cleanse was cleansing negative attitudes or behaviors. I'm a creature of habit, habit, habit, and the behaviors, well, they're not completely overturned (it will take years to get rid of the habits I don't like, but I'm working on it). But I have found myself to be in a profoundly better mood these days than I have been in a long, long time. There are a number of factors that add to the feeling, but I think a huge part of it is that I've stopped looking at what I don't have.

I think we're sort of programmed to think about all of the things we don't have - clearer skin, shinier hair, flatter stomachs, faster cars, bigger houses, fairy-tale romances - and then spend tons of our hard-earned cash on stuff that might bring us closer to the these things. I can't think of a single marketing campaign that tells us to be satisfied with what we already have and who we are. But I think that telling ourselves every day what we like about who we are and what we have crowds out all of the negative messages we are bombarded with that tell us to constantly seek satisfaction elsewhere.

I have a job that I absolutely fucking love. Is it the "dream job"? No. But it is a job that gives me enough money to pay my bills and still have enough to do something nice for myself or for friends. And it's satisfying to my soul in a way that no other job I've had has been.

I live in a beautiful apartment that is starting to really feel like home. Is it a gigantic mansion with fifteen bedrooms, six baths and a tennis court? No. But it is cozy, and warm, and brightly painted, and full of books and music and crafting and laughter. And good cooking.

I am healthy, and finally have health insurance. Could I be healthier? Sure. I could probably have better health insurance, too, but for now, it is enough that I can go to the doctor if I need to (or want to!), and I am working on eating better and exercising more.

I have a family that supports me and all of my wacky shit. Are we supremely dysfunctional? Definitely. But who's family isn't, these days? All I need to know is that if shit goes down, my family will help me rebuild.

I am crafting every day. Do I get to spend as much time as I'd like crafting? No. But I am making time to do it every single day, which is a huge improvement over what I was doing before - a whole lot of nothing.

I have friends I love spending time with. Do I see them as often as I'd like? No. Some are too far away and some I've slowly lost touch with, but I'm making more of an effort to keep ties with the people who lift me up and whose company I truly enjoy. I love each and every one of them and I'm hugely glad that they are in my life.

I have a partner who is willing to listen when I speak, hold me when I cry, laugh with me at a stupid joke, take me on vacations, and cook amazing meals at night when I'm too tired to do anything but be a slug on the couch (among about a thousand other awesome things). And I really, really have nothing to complain about there at all. ^_^

So, yeah. There are worries and things, but I'm finally starting to see how blessed I am to have such an amazing life. And I say thank you to the universe every day for bringing everything together, one small piece at a time.

Mata ne.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I just had possibly one of the more amazing weekends of my life.

I feel like I say that a lot. I have a serious tendency to hyperbolize everything. And also make up words. But the fact remains, I am given to exaggeration, and yet, even so, I really do feel like the last three days have been some of the more spectacular days of my adult existence.

It began Friday evening, with a 10:00PM screening of The Muppets. What a beautiful (hilarious, exciting, heart-wrenching, silly, self-aware, nostalgic, new, perfect) tribute to Jim Henson's work. That's how I saw it, anyway. It was also great to have a Muppet movie again - and one that made everyone in the theatre crack up laughing every ten seconds with wonderful wit. The music was great. All around a fun time, despite the fact that I pretty much started bawling from when they show the picture of Jim Henson sitting with Kermit on his lap to the end of the film. Rainbow Connection, what what?

Saturday was a bright-and-early day. I got up at 7 and went into the studio to glaze the hell out of everything, trim a pot, and throw two new ones. I got to see folks I haven't seen in a few weeks and chatted with them for a bit. I met up with Chadley for delicious brunch at Boqueria on 19th (we had a semi-private dining experience since we got there right when they opened and were alone in the restaurant for a good 2/3 of our meal), and then we headed to the Union Square farmer's market for some veggie shopping (I love the farmer's market. For so many reasons. On Saturday, because the weather was beautiful, the rye bread was delicious, and the shallots were so lovely I had to photograph them).

After Chadley took the groceries back to Jersey City, I wandered into Barnes and Noble and sat reading in the cafe for a while, sipping on a caramel apple spice. I don't usually indulge in things that are so rich and sweet (it tastes like pie!), but I was feeling the need for a tasty treat, so I had it, and sipped it slowly. And then I headed down to Spring Street.

I wandered around because I'd gotten there earlier than everyone else in my group. We were on a mission. But before I could engage in the mission I did some window shopping (abnormal for me!), and stepped into Evolution, which made me feel completely transported to an older age. For those who don't know, Evolution is a store that has some really old stuff in it, in addition to rocks and gems and insects (they have an entire entomology department dedicated to the identification and mounting of just about any insect you could imagine) and a hundred other weird things. I wandered through the store in a fog, touching everything that was available to touch and feeling like a child all over again, curious and eager. It was amazing. And it may just have been the state of mind I was in anyway, but I highly recommend going to this place if you can and experiencing it for yourself.

But... the mission. Earlier in the week, friends posted about a gallery opening for Brian, Wendy, and Toby Froud (in my plan for the weekend, I put a question mark next to this event - what on earth could I have been thinking?!). It was a free event, just had to RSVP, and then you could go and chat with all three artists and look at their amazing, amazing work.

For anyone who doesn't know, Brian and Wendy Froud are my favorite artists. So much so that I have indelibly marked my body with Brian's work, and discovered my sexuality through Wendy's (in a weird, roundabout way that I'll get into some other time, perhaps). These are the minds responsible for The Dark Crystal (my absolute favorite film of all time) and Labyrinth, as well as a number of books about the realms of faerie.

Anyhow, I went to this event with some friends and was, embarrassingly, a total blubbering mess. When it came my turn to speak with Brian Froud, I told him in the tiniest voice I think I've ever heard come out of myself that I loved his work (he said thank you) and that I've loved it ever since I was a little girl. All in tears, mind you. In total, unabashed, messy tears. I couldn't find the courage or the words to tell him how profoundly his work has affected my life because he and his wife so totally shaped the world of my childhood. It's easy to write it now, but even after speaking to him (and then to Wendy, who I was still meek with but managed to ask when her next doll-making workshop might be) I couldn't even explain to my friends how I felt about the tremendous honor of meeting this man and his family. It was awesome, in the truest definition of the word.

I suppose I should add that Chad showed me pictures of the Jim Henson exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, and I started crying over the pictures of the props from The Dark Crystal (I have to get to this exhibit, big time. Maybe next Saturday). So, when there was a tiny replica of Kira at the exhibit at the Animazing Gallery, I totally lost my shit. My friends were extremely gracious handling my mini-meltdown, but... wow. I didn't realize that seeing things like that and the mere presence of a person could do that to me. And, just a note, the Frouds were truly wonderful people, so sweet and accommodating and kind, they truly are a wonderfully talented family and I am so, so glad that I got to meet all of them.

After the gallery (I was walking on some kind of cloud, seriously!), I met my sister at Columbus Circle to go to the Festival of Lessons and Carols at Fordham. I'm not religious and I'm certainly not Christian, but I love listening to good choir music and I love the participatory spirit of the concert Fordham puts on every year. It was a lovely way to end a very long and emotionally exhausting day.

Sunday was a bit slower. I spent the morning recovering, was made pancakes by Mr. Chadley (delicious!), went to the new studio space to help decorate for the holiday party this Friday (and talked my way into helping with some minor repairs to a wood bench), and then got dinner from one of my favorite restaurants in the city to take home and enjoy on the couch. Things even got a little randy afterwards. It was the perfect end to the weekend. ^_^

I'm still reeling from all of this. But mostly, just happy that it all happened, and that I was present enough to really enjoy every minute of it.

*happy sigh*

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Favorite Time of Year

I feel a deep sense of sorrow for all of those people in the world who have never experienced a Northeastern autumn. There is something positively magical about this time of year in New York (and New Jersey, and Vermont, and Massachusetts, and all of those other states points north). It's as if one morning you wake up and everything in the world is suddenly crystal clear. The air is crisp. It smells sweet and spicy. The sky is bright blue (on those special days when it's not raining). And the whole world looks like it's on fire.

I've always loved autumn. It means running around in the backyard, raking leaves into piles to jump into, carving pumpkins, consuming a metric ton of apples, apple cider of the mulled variety, crunching through the leaves that have fallen from the trees. The sound they make underfoot is one of my favorite sounds in the world. The smell of them gently decaying is one of my favorite smells. The way the air feels, just like an apple when you bite into it (fresh off the tree, of course)... favorite, favorite, favorite.

I love being able to carefully take out my heavier clothes and coats, my arm warmers, fingerless gloves, scarves, the hat I occasionally wear. I love layering everything and giving shrift to the colors of the season in what I wear. I adore Halloween and all that that entails - pumpkins, candles, candy, costumes, and the inevitable feeling that the veil is thin and there are spirits walking the earth with us.

And I love the sense of autumn that I have that is just indescribable. Autumn is all of these things to me, but it is something more, too, something that I've never been able to put into words but is an impression on my heart of colors and smells and tastes and memories and comfort and warmth. I can't say it any more clearly. It is just amazing, and wonderful, and awesome, and the best feeling in the world.

I wish autumn lasted all year long, I really do. But then, I suppose I wouldn't appreciate it quite as much if it did. For now, I will have to content myself with my beautiful walk home, and to work, where I wander under glowing trees dropping silent, colorful leaves to the sidewalk. And Sunday, I will pick a hundred apples and eat fifty and turn the rest into pies and revel in the smell of cinnamon-sugar baking.

Happy Autumn, all!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thinking About Titles

I keep looking at the title of this blog, and thinking about how poorly I've lived up to the "loving" part. Most of my posts are filled with cranky ravings about the things I don't like, rather than the things that bring me joy. No more.

I have these moments often - the ones where I realize that I'm putting way too much negative energy out into the world, with no real plan for addressing the problems that I see. I live in a city where I feel constantly bombarded by negative energies and rather than wearing my positive energy like a shield, I accept that negative energy, and worse, contribute to it. But I'm really making an effort to change that; I'm so tired of feeling... well, tired! And bitchy and aggressive. I know that I am perfectly entitled to feelings of a less positive nature (no one can be perfectly sunny all the time, of this I am convinced), but I am trying to work on how I deal with them.

One of the first steps I'm taking is changing my diet. More vegetables! Less refined sugar! And probably most important, smaller portion sizes! Maybe this sounds ridiculous, but I do believe that the food we choose to fuel our bodies with makes a difference in how we feel. I've tried, for the last month, to consume fewer refined sugars because I noticed that when I ate a lot of candy, I felt more depressed (I have an almost insatiable sweet tooth). Maybe it's a mind-over-matter thing, but I feel so much happier lately. So, sugar or no sugar, the effort to change my diet has definitely improved my mood (however, I refuse to give up ice cream, so that has become my refined-sugar-treat-at-the-end-of-the-day of choice).

I'm also just trying to focus on the good things that I have in my life - my friends and family, my home (beautiful!), my crafting, my job. All of these things that bring so much love and goodness to my tiny daily existence make it all seem so much more worthwhile. I'm going to try to journal more (in general), blog more (here, at Which Stitchery and Sacred Spiral Pottery), and in general be more present in my life and more intentional in what I say and do. I think a lot of this will involve listening. To myself, to others, to the Universe. Listening, and planning a little more, and maybe drinking more tea. ^.^

I feel so amazing today. I smell delicious (thank you, Etsy), I'm wearing clothes that make me feel like a gypsy (in the best possible way), and I got an email this morning from the New York Blood Center detailing where the blood I donated went to (so cool!). And I feel like I can do damn near anything. Perhaps when I get home tonight, I'll fix up my craft room proper so I can sew to my heart's content later this week.

And on that note, I'm going to go off and be a productive little bee. Enjoy this marvelous, beautiful summer day! ^_^

Dewa, mata.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Strange, Drunken Valentine Musings

What a strange week I've had.

In the last 7 days I've gone from zen to panic to despair to anger to panic to frustrated to impatient to panic and back to zen. Today I seem to have landed on slightly lonely and depressed, which makes not a lick of sense but is inclined to happen when I'm home alone with my cat and a bottle of wine. *shrug*

I feel like something major is coming, and I don't know if I'm supposed to sit here and wait for it to happen (more likely, since I am by nature a VERY passive person) or if I'm supposed to be proactive and go out and MAKE it happen (less likely, as I tend to avoid all responsibility until the last possible moment, hence why I may be leaving the city rather sooner than expected). I don't know what this major thing is, besides a relocation of my person and possesions. It could be something else, but it feels as though the Universe has been screaming in my left ear for the last two (almost three) years, telling me to GET THE HELL OUT OF NEW YORK CITY AND GO SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR A CHANGE, WILL YA?! And I, stubborn, stubborn girl that I am, have done everything in my power, up to and including horrible mooching, to stay exactly where I am even though I'm now deaf in my left ear as a consequence.

Panic and despair stems from the fact that it's really hard to find work right now and that the New York State Department of Labor is full of the most un-empathetic prick dickwads you could possibly imagine. I honestly just don't get the job thing, though. I know this is a country-wide issue, but I feel like everyone else looking for a job has found one, and me, who is now screaming back at the Universe (and all potential employers) that I AM AVAILABLE TO WORK AND QUALIFIED TO DO MOST JOBS THAT I APPLY FOR AND EVEN IF I'M NOT I CAN LEARN IT SUPER FAST, can't seem to land something that pays peanuts. Which, I might add, I would work for since my fridge is empty.

I've been on a bunch of interviews that felt really good at the time; I had a nice rapport with staff and interviewers and have been lavished with promises that "we'll get back to you either way," and yet, here it is February 14th and I've got to call my landlord tomorrow to see if he'll let me use my security deposit for rent in March because I can't pay it otherwise.

Do I just pack it in and go home? Do I finally just stop and listen to what circumstances have been trying to tell me for so long?

What's really messed up is that I don't know if I WANT to stay here anymore. I sort of wish I could transplant this beautiful fucking apartment somewhere in the middle of the state of Vermont and start a garden.

These days I feel like the least financially responsible person in the world. And I don't know if it's worth it to waste my security deposit on the off chance that I MIGHT find work that MIGHT pay my rent in the next two or three weeks. I know thinking positive will bring positive things, but it's really hard to think positive when you can't go grocery shopping or feed your cat because you literally don't have a dime to spare. And even if you did, what the fuck is a dime going to do?

I've said goodbye to a lot of my things lately. In an effort to keep myself sane I've been combing and recombing my life to get rid of anything that will be excess weight when I inevitably move again. Today I said a tearful goodbye to my faithful futon, who was so used and unloved that no one wanted him, even for free (curse you craigslist!). Tomorrow it's a trip to Journal Square to ditch some books and appliances and things that I just have no use for anymore. If only I had the strength and courage to go through my scrap fabric, but now that I quilt it's harder than ever to say I don't want that teensy piece of cotton batik... point being, do I just suck it up and say goodbye to the city?

And, while I'm at it, let me bitch for just one second about my asshat father, who has spent his entire life telling me that what I'm doing isn't good enough. Never directly - it's always been, "wow, this is really amazing, BUT..." And let me tell you something. A little girl hearing that "but" every time she tried to do something nice or amazing or DECENT really only hears: "it's not good enough, why did you even bother trying?" I'm especially frustrated these days because that's all I hear in my head. WHY am I trying? To do anything? You know what my father said to me when I told him I wanted to leave teaching? He said, "well, Vanessa, I really hate to see you GIVE UP." And at first, I was super pissed off at him because HOW DARE HE say anything about giving up when he hasn't had a solid goddamned job in YEARS?

But lately I wonder if I have just given up. Not on teaching (which I'm further and further convinced was a total waste of my time), but on myself. Every time I think, "hey, I can do THIS, it would totally work," I see all sunshine and rainbows for about ten seconds before reality slams me in the other ear (you know, the one that still functions) till it's ringing.

I trust that I'm on a path and that it's going to lead to good things, but right now I'm stuck at Motel 6 and there are bugs in my bed and the phone doesn't work and the hot water won't run for more than five minutes at a time. I am SO GRATEFUL for the people in my life who won't give up on me even when I've stopped trying. They're the only thing that makes me feel like one day I'll have a stopover at the Four Seasons or something.

I guess if I'm complaining this much about the way things are going, I can't be too zen about the way things are right now. I'm reading a book called The 20-Something Manifesto, which a friend recommended to me. It's a great book, articulates a lot of things I've felt over the last few years in a way that I never could... but it's also frustrating as fuck to read because so much of it depends on whether or not you have a JOB.

I made this choice and put myself in this situation. I own that. But I jumped out of one boat and into a serious fire assuming that I wouldn't have a problem finding work. Which obviously was an erroneous assumption.

Ugh. I would like to stop feeling like I'm in limbo now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Life Less Ordinary

I've been listening to Carbon Leaf's "A Life Less Ordinary" on repeat lately. I hear this song and even though it's talking about a relationship, I hear a call to live my life how I want to live my life, not how society or my friends or my parents expect me to. Of course, that raises the question, how do I want to live my life? What do I want out of this little blip of an experience? And how in the world will I ever figure this out in time to make it meaningful?

(I feel like assigning meaning to anything is sort of pointless, since eventually my body will be happily feeding some trees in the gloriousness of the life cycle of this planet. But there's something really human about wanting the things we do to endure beyond our short little lives, so, I won't apologize for feeling this way.)

This is going to come off sounding whiny to some people, I know, but I will make the disclaimer here that I am not unhappy right now. Lost as fuck, yes. Unhappy, definitely not. I feel a million times freer than I did a month ago, and have found a few coping mechanisms that had once been my friends hiding in my bedroom closet. I've since dusted them off and am using them with abandon.

I don't have a clue what I want to do with myself. That's really the crux of the issue these days; it's not that I don't have a job, or that I'm tired of New York City, or that I hate the idea of leaving my friends behind even if it becomes necessary. I can deal with not having a job (I think I've spent more time in the city without a job than with one, actually), I can deal with walking through the streets and not knowing or even recognizing a single person I see, I can call or email friends if I have to leave (those of you who are already far away, please don't give away the terrible secret that I actually suck at this). What I can't deal with, or at least am having a hard time dealing with, is that the path before me is completely unclear. There's no end-goal in sight. I'm a planner - maybe not a good one, but I like to have a plan, and right now the only plan I have is to make a new plan.

In the past weeks, while trolling through craigslist and Monster and to find an office job that any monkey could perform (just to pay my bills, which keep showing up despite the hexes I sent in the mail to my credit card companies. ... just kidding), I have compiled a list of all of the things I enjoy, and could see myself making something of a "career" out of. In no particular order, I've thought of being a professional seamstress, a librarian, a farmer, an editor, a book designer, a yoga instructor, a baker, a chef, a masseuse, a bee keeper, a sailor, a jeweler, a fire performer, or a professional drifter. I've visited schools, emailed friends, called people I know in the business, and have cast nets out looking for at least a hint of where I should head next, but I haven't found any answers yet.

I know I want to live simply. What does that mean? In my mind, it means making enough money to feed, clothe, and house myself (and occasionally travel), but not enough to give in to the spending culture we live in. It means I should probably get my driver's license before my foot forgets how to work a gas pedal, but I don't want to own a car. It means I need to get a bike, ride it every day for fun, and have a basket for when I need to go shopping. It means I must make yoga an integral part of my day, no excuses. It means that I cook simple meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It means that I have time for textile arts or whatever other hobby happens to have my attention at the time. And it means that I am open and honest with the people in my life, no matter who they are, where they live, or how I feel about them. It means having faith rather than being afraid.

Is this a life less ordinary? I feel like I won't do well doing what "normal" people do. This whole work, work, work, so I can earn, earn, earn, and spend, spend, spend, and maybe leave a little money for my children when I die thing just doesn't appeal. I used to think that having a family - you know, husband, children, pets, white picket fence and all that - was what I wanted, but I'm starting to realize a lot of things about myself that don't fit in this picture. So, if I don't want normal, if trying to be "normal" and work "normal" and live "normal" hasn't worked... what do I do?

This is where that faith over fear thing comes in. I think I'm working myself up to the faith part, because I still have too many "what ifs" running around in my brain. That part of me that likes for things to be perfectly coordinated and planned balks at the idea of living as a sailor on a boat somewhere, with no guarantee of work or housing when I'm shore-bound. It hates the idea of uprooting my life to go someplace completely new for a job that might not last longer than a few months. But this is a wind I have to bend to, I guess.

One of my favorite quotes is "Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart. Love the questions." I often find it extremely difficult to love the questions, or be patient. But I am trying, desperately, to do so right now. I was in this place four years ago, wondering what I was going to do with my life. I landed on teaching, and ended up hating it. I know that if I rush this, I'll be asking myself a lot of the same questions again in four years. And while I know that the journey is important, I would really love to find something that sustains me emotionally, spiritually, and physically... no more wondering.

On the hunt now...