Archive for November, 2012

Sweep … Sweep …

Did I get them all?

Drat! Is that a dust bunny still hiding over in the corner.

Nope.  I think it is the larger, but more rare dust hippo. Sadly, it still needs to find a new home.

Sweep …

Bus Stop Silhouettes

Sorry about that. Didn’t plan on going silent. I got distracted and I forgot that taking my time each night before bed keeps the pump primed. Otherwise, writing gets tough and I tend to get cranky. There’s been so much going on. I’ve been stretching different muscles lately (sometimes literally), but I miss writing regularly so I’m finding my way back to the page.

I’ve been busy volunteering with a local community theatre company for their presentation of Honk!, a musical about the ugly duckling. It seems sewing is useful skill and can be a lot more fun than I remember from high school home ec classes.

It started with decorating the shirts for the water lilies with random flowing fabric strips. Imagine my cat’s excitement when those strips were being cut. So many options to play with overwhelmed her and she just sat watching, eyes darting from strip to strip, not knowing what to swipe. So much fun to sew without needing to worry about being tidy, just adding more fabric until the shirts looks like they’re trailing roots and leaves through the water.

I’ve never sewn without a pattern before, but when you’ve got a white ruffled apron and you need to make something similar from a ridiculously floral bedsheet, you know the challenge is about to begin. At the beginning of Act Two, I got the biggest grin on my face every time I saw the actor in his costume with his over-the-top floral, ruffled apron. It turned out perfectly!

Add in some last minute hemming and pockets to be added to a group of costumes. I’m so glad we have a portable sewing machine and a serger. Imagine setting up your sewing machine sitting on the floor because there is no table close to the plug in the hallway at the theatre. Yup, that was me a couple of Saturdays ago. Not the easiest place to sew, or the most comfortable, but finding a way to make it work was half of the challenge and half of the fun.

Can’t forget last minute repairs to countless bits and pieces during the show. I felt a bit like MacGyver, except my tool of choice was a glue gun. Okay, there was a bit of duct tape to try to hide a hole in the elbow of an old beige suede jacket. Seems those elbow patches didn’t start out as a fashion choice. My mom’s fabric stash had the perfect bit of brown corduroy to solve the problem in time for the second weekend of the show.

Stretching those creative muscles has been great. Other than cake decorating, I don’t always remember how much I like creating things with my hands or I tend to discount the knitting or crocheting I enjoy as not being creative because I’m using someone else’s pattern. Pattern or not, that’s still creating something. It’s still transforming the world around me. It’s still giving something a new purpose.

Those aren’t the only creative muscles I’ve been stretching this fall. Pace‘s Pathfinding Class and Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project has had me stretching my mediation muscles. It’s amusing to me that after so many years spent in the church and so many years feeling like I was a horrible Christian because silent prayer and meditation felt so insanely uncomfortable and unattainable, it’s only after learning about meditation from several buddhists, a spiritual nomad who meditates following a Sufi tradition, and a former pastor who now leads an online relig-ish community, that I’ve finally found a practice that feels like something I can do. Something that fits who I am. Something that allows me to feel connected with the divine by whatever name I choose to call. Something that makes me feel like I’m human. Like I’m still learning and growing. Like I’m made in the image of my creator. Like I’m not a failure.

I don’t meditate every day. I’m not sure that will ever feel like the right practice for me, but that’s okay. I can have a spiritual practice that fits who I am. It doesn’t have to be the same as anyone else. We are all uniquely created and our spiritual practices can reflect that uniqueness. There’s no need to measure myself against some unrealistic ideal and always feel less than. There’s freedom and joy in finding a path that resonates with who I am and allows me to feel connected with the divine with a closeness I’ve rarely felt before.

There’s also been some gentle physical muscle stretching. I can’t tell you enough about how much I adore Marianne Elliott and Anna Guest-Jelley. I’ve just completed their 30 Days of Curvy Yoga course. I’m learning to love meeting myself and my body on the mat (or sometimes on my chair).

At the end of the Creative Joy Retreat this summer, I made a promise to myself and to the women with whom I’d shared that journey.

I will stay connected to my body.

That might seem a strange thing to say. It’s not like I can physically disconnect from my body, but emotionally I have generally ignored my body whenever possible. It’s easier than facing the judgment that comes from being significantly overweight. But what I learned during those precious days in Garrison is that when I am open to listening to what my body is trying to tell me about what it needs … from how much sleep to what food to eat, from spending time with others to retreating to solitude to write … when I am open to hearing those promptings, I am so much more open to the whole of the world around, to beauty that I might have missed, to joy and sorrow that would otherwise be muted in equal measure. Closing myself off from one part of who I am, closes me off from so many other things.

So I’ve been paying attention. Sometimes I forget. Decades of silencing part of who you are doesn’t disappear over night, but it’s getting easier to hear the quiet whispers. One of the things that constantly surprises me is how often my body wants to move and not just sit flaked out on the couch.

Saturday night is a perfect example. I came home after a full day. Out early to get my haircut, then an afternoon and evening performance of Honk!, followed by the tear down, I was exhausted and sore when I got home close to midnight. I was ready to crash. But I remembered to listen. Yes, my body wanted sleep, but first I needed time for self-care. Out came my mat for some gentle yoga and meditation. It wasn’t long, maybe twenty minutes, but long enough to allow myself to settle after a hectic day. Long enough to stretch some tired muscles and be kind to aching knees so they wouldn’t be as sore in the morning. Add in a warm shower between my mat and my bed, and I slept the sleep of a full and contented day not one of sheer exhaustion.

It’s good to stretch other muscles … creative ones and physical ones that also turn out to be stretching more than my physical body.

My writing muscles needed some fallow time, but now they feel recharged and eager to put pen to paper. It’s going to be a fun winter discovering what’s been quietly growing beneath the surface over the fall. You’ll be among the first to know what I find!

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