I used words cut from magazines and junk mail to make a note about my day.
As I mentioned in a post on Always an Editor, doing this calendar journal helped me notice that I spend quite a lot of my time in rather serious pursuits, so I’m paying more attention to doing something fun or relaxing every day. The calendars themselves were a lot of fun to make and, apparently, they also make a fine place to rest.
I’m using my August calendar to remind me of one of the items on my list of things I’d like to be doing. I studied French for many years in school, and although I’ve never been truly fluent, I could understand it and make myself understood pretty well, and it was always one of my favorite subjects. (I am such a language dork that I actually love doing grammar exercises. Is that sad?) I'd really like to improve my French again; I'm determined to go to France one day, even if I'm 85 and tottering around with two canes by the time I get there. So this month I am reading something in French and recording one new-to-me word on my calendar journal every day.
I spent much of last weekend working on lined curtains for Child One’s room. I’ve had the fabric for ages (where ages = years), but for some reason I was hesitant to get going on them. I’m not sure why I was intimidated, considering I’ve made curtains lots of time and Child One is not one to demand perfection (or to even notice imperfection, for that matter). Part of the problem was not having a place to spread everything out, but now that that’s been solved, I’ve decided that I must get them done because I won’t settle down to any other sewing projects until I do. I’ll be too busy over the next two weekends to work on them, but given how long he’s been waiting, a couple of weeks more is nothing.
As usual, I’ve had some help,
although I’m sorry to report that there were some arguments over whose turn it was to guard the fabric.
I had hoped to spend a lot more time being creative this summer, but instead I’ve made major progress in my work and much-needed changes to how I run my business. It hasn’t been the lazy, freewheeling summer I’d hoped for, but the result is a much more manageable workload. If I stick to these changes, I won’t be working nights and weekends regularly and my stress level will drop, so in the long term I will get the creative time and energy I crave.
Carmi's thematic photographic theme this week is signs. I've posted another one on Always an Editor, along with links to the other sign photos I've posted in the past.
Of all the sign photos I have, this is one of my favorites. I keep a copy hanging above my desk to remind me--especially on those days when my life seems an endless cycle of laundry, driving, and editing other people's writing--that the steps I'm taking are leading somewhere and that the path is as important as the destination.
Last Saturday, just a few days after writing a post on my other blog about the sad fact that I rarely have reason to put my hair back in a ponytail anymore, I went to our organic produce market, as I do most weeks. On a whim, I bought an enormous amount of gorgeous local blueberries. When I got home, I put my hair back, dug the canning equipment out from the shed, got rid of all the dead spiders, washed off the five-inch layer of dust, and made blueberry apple jam.
I’d forgotten how much I love this: filling up the huge canning pot, chopping the fruit, watching the honey stream out of the measuring cup, taking the jars out of the boiling bath and setting them on towels, hearing them seal with a satisfying ping. All week long the jars have sat on my counter—it’s been raining and there hasn’t been enough natural light in the house to take pictures without the flash—and I keep picking them up, admiring their color.
I finally gave up on waiting for a brighter day. Embracing the weather, I rolled up my jeans and went outside barefoot—it is summer, after all—and took pictures with this poor sodden bouquet, which has been sitting in the rain all week. I have to say that taking clear photos while squatting and holding an umbrella in one hand (to protect the camera, not me—I was already soaked) was not so easy.
It’s a sign of how strange my kids know me to be that when I said to Child One, “I’m going outside to take pictures of jam in the rain,” he said, “Okay” without batting an eye. Just another one of those things Mom does.
Simple pleasures like this used to be part of just about every day for me. The smell of fabric under a hot iron, pausing in my knitting to look at the rows of even stitches, writing a letter to a friend (by hand!), eating cookies still warm from the oven, or kneading bread dough and feeling a connection to the millions of women who have spent countless hours doing the same thing—these things might seem boring to some, but they grounded me, slowed me down, and quieted my monkey mind.
My goal is that by the end of my Year of Living Differently, I will have once again built room in my everyday life for these simple pleasures.