Re-Weaving the Past

I failed 7th Grade Home Economics.
I would like to say that it is because I was protesting. I was angry, after all, that in 7th grade, we were divided into two classes: girls to Home Ec, and boys to Mechanical Drawing. Really. It was assumed that girls needed this class in the “womanly” arts, and boys needed the heady realm of architecture and design. Sabotaging one’s own grade, however, in order to make a protest, is rather ineffective, not to mention that it never entered my mind.
Perhaps it’s because I hated Home Ec so much? No, actually, I loved the crafts and the cooking then as much as I do now. Nor did I dislike the teacher. She was a gem, kind enough and firm enough.
I failed Home Ec because I didn’t turn in my assignments. I procrastinated on the paperwork for the meals I prepared at home. I did most of the projects, but never followed through to hand in the necessary paperwork.

Here I am, forty-five years later, trying to function as an adult, and still stuck in the procrastination rut, still avoiding the paperwork, resenting the details that take me out of my butterfly brain. The little thing becomes a big thing, and the big thing gets spun together with strands of shame to become a BIG thing, and I just can’t even begin.

Is it an executive function issue? Belligerence? Depression? A poor self-concept? Laziness? Being in the wrong job for my temperament? Simply being human? The thing is, I never feel like I am out of the norm, or that I have a problem, until I’m out of it and back into functioning at a more-than-mere-survival rate. Then I look back and realize that I was in a bad space. I’ve not been diagnosed with depression or an executive functioning disorder. I tend to name it laziness more than anything, which is a bad tape to play on repeat.

I wonder if I need a therapist. Or a life coach? Or a spiritual advisor? When I’m so overwhelmed by The Big Thing, the thought of adding an appointment to my schedule and expense to our tight budget feels like an Impossible Thing. But here I am now, on the other side of the most recent Impossible Task, and it’s a roof-don’t-leak-when-the-rain-don’t-come moment. And so I dither and pass it off. As difficult as it is, I feel like I need to keep telling myself the story of how bad it was so I don’t settle in to another new normal without getting myself the help that I need to keep from getting into that sort of hole again.

This past week, I did a little art therapy to keep me processing and pushing toward making a change, toward getting help. I recently opened a box in the attic and discovered the little embroidery project that I finished in that 7th grade Home Ec class, probably the only assignment I handed in for the class. A mouse had discovered it before me, and had eaten through the musical notes that Snoopy is playing. Had it been whole, I might have thrown it out, jettisoning things that no longer serve me. But something in me said, “Mend it!” And so I did, weaving embroidery thread through the mouse-chewed hole, and re-embroidering Snoopy’s pawprint eighth notes. It’s not perfect, and neither am I. The mend is visible, as are my own torn and shredded pieces, and mended pieces.

As I wove and mended, I wondered whether that was when it began, when I started playing the tapes in my head that I am inadequate to the task, that I am too flaky, too inattentive, too lazy to follow through? Perhaps.

Snoopy needed a little help to be restored, and now I will stitch the piece onto a bag or a blanket or a pillow. Or I will fold it carefully and keep it in a drawer, to draw it out when I need to remind myself that I, too, need help to get through a rough patch, to shift my process so that I can keep from falling into holes I create.

Gratitudes:
1. This morning’s sunrise: A dragon opening a heavy cloud-indigo eyelid over a tangerine iris, shooting burning rays upward, a sundog to the southeast.
2. Mending
3. Making plans, making progress
4. Seeking help
5. Such wise and merry people in my life

May we walk in Beauty!


“You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” —Brené Brown


“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.” —Georgia O’Keeffe


“Nothing good comes of forgetting; remember, so that my past doesn’t become your future…” —Elie Wiesel


“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” —Mitch McConnell, February 7, 2017


“They can shut me up, but they can’t change the truth.” —Elizabeth Warren, February 7, 2017


“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” —Harriet Beecher Stowe


“You have to impose, in fact—this may sound very strange—you have to decide who you are, and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you.” —James Baldwin


“There’s still a lot worth fighting for.” —Dr.Jane Goodall


“You’ve heard it said there’s a window
that opens from one mind to another,
but if there’s no wall, there’s no need
for fitting the window, or a latch.”
—Rumi


“Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Whether through prayer, ritual, poetry, or song, gratitude solidifies our relationship with the living mystery. It rejoins us to the intangible wholeness from which we feel disconnected. As we remember ourselves to the holy in nature, we are forging our own belonging.” —Toko-pa Turner


“Stories surround us like air; we breathe them in, we breathe them out. The art of being fully conscious in personal life means seeing the stories and becoming their teller, rather than letting them be the unseen forces that tell you what to do. Being a public storyteller requires the same skills with larger consequences and responsibilities, because your story becomes part of that water, undermining or reinforcing the existing stories. Your job is to report on the story on the surface, the contained story, the one that happened yesterday. It’s also to see and sometimes to break open or break apart the ambient stories, the stories that are already written, and to understand the relationship between the two.” —Rebecca Solnit


“We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. . . . “We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom.” —Ursula K. Le Guin

Advent 16: Companionship

Last summer’s wren nest from the behind the light switch in the shop. Even claustrophobic people love the cozy symbolism of a nest.

Today, as we Breathe-Step-Stop-Listen, Breathe-Step-Stop-Listen, Breathe-Step-Stop-Listen, a song and a poem to sustain us on this walk through Day Sixteen toward Advent. Thank you for walking with me. Only five more days until Sunreturn, Beloveds. We are going to make it.

When I compare this year’s more deliberate and careful wander into the dark of December with last year’s panicked careen, I am filled with gratitude. I know I tried last year, but I had decided that I was going to try a keto-based way of eating last fall, and my deliberations were focused on that, and less inward. It was only when I reached the growing light of late January that I realized how deeply I had sunk into winter’s numbness. Last year, I probably should have checked in with a therapist to keep me coping. This year, I am watching and ready to make that call, in case I feel myself sinking into the pool of sadness. If the season weighs too heavily, or the cold seeps into your spirit, I encourage you to be ready, too, to check in with a professional.

Funny, isn’t it? Usually, we look for the light at the end of a tunnel, meaning we’ll be out and into the fresh air, but while this journey into the well of December may bring us to a lighted chamber, we have to turn and walk out again the same distance before we get back out of the tunnel. Still, that moment of coming to center and pausing, then the turning, and setting our faces toward the return journey into the light–oh, how I long for that moment. That will be so joyful. Five more days.


Here is a video of Brian Claflin and Ellie Grace singing “I’m Gonna Walk It With You.” Whether our journey is the descent into winter’s darkness, or the determined march toward justice, I am glad of your companionship. You can support Claflin and Grace by buying their music at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8boCrXOp9M.


I wrote this poem a few years ago, but it feels like it fits this moment, my deep gratitude for your companionship on this journey.

Stepping Toward the Solstice

We stand in the shadows.
Hold my hand.
The darkness suffocates.
Look this way,
to where the sun shines briefly
through a curtain of ice.
This. This one moment
will sustain us for the next steps.


Gratitude List:
1. I made an enormous dent in my Impossible Mountain last night. Part of my relief today is the amount of work I accomplished, but a greater part of the relief is the feeling of that dam being unclogged. Still so much to do, but I have returned to the truth that Will builds Will. An act of will creates the possibility for more acts of will. As long as I keep that energy, I should make it.
2. Great gratitude to Nancy, for listening and sharing the story. I think I needed an accountability partner, and I used our conversation yesterday as the slingshot to get me around the hardest bits of the Impossible Task.
3. A new warm thing. I stopped at Goodwill and bought myself a new warm fleece jacket-thing. It’s for wearing around the house at home, and it’s cozy, and it’s a wild cat print, so it makes me feel a little fierce. Is that a middle-aged woman thing, to want to wear wildcat print? Or maybe it’s just a Leo thing. I know that some consider it a tacky thing, too, but I’m not fussed about that. It’s warm and it’s fierce, and so Merry Christmas to me.
4. The sacred moments within the mundane.
5. The anticipation of a snow day, even when it doesn’t seem like it’s going to pan out.

May we walk in Beauty!