Wednesday, July 01, 2015

An Instrument of Grace

I checked out several (five) books about and by May Sarton when I took my longish weekend in the country. One of the perks of my job at the local university is that I can check out library books and can keep them for the whole semester! So I generally (mostly, ahem) don't have to worry about missing the return deadline!

I just finished reading Endgame, a journal of her 79th year. In that year she struggled with a lung that kept filling with fluid, a fibrillating heart and irritable bowel syndrome. Of course, she had my sympathies with the last problem! But she didn't want the journal to be all about her illnesses. In the end, it really wasn't. She wrote a lot about the support of friends and about having to learn to ask for and accept help, things I am somewhat acquainted with myself.

There were several quotes I gleaned from my reading. This was one of them I particularly liked...



Monday, June 29, 2015

Show and Tell

For the last two weekends, I have been spending much of my time sewing in my room in the country. I made this prayer flag weekend before last and hung it on a rope across my porch this past weekend. I had the hand print squares left over from a project that never quite got off the ground. I think I'd made the squares to do a lap quilt for one of my children's teachers back when they were in elementary school (many years ago). I don't have a square for any of my children, so I'm not sure whose teacher this project was going to go to! I also had the hearts cut out for yet another project, and used one of them here to cover up the student's name.

I want to make some more flags to hang on my line and flutter in the breeze. While working on this one I thought about the nature of impermanence, and how it felt to work on creating something only to put it out in the environment to let it wear down and eventually rot to nothing.

And I thought about grief and mourning, about the families of the victims of the church shootings in South Carolina, and about the winding journey they will now have to travel. Grief does that to a person, it changes the landscape of the ground you walk on, and you then have to somehow manage to figure out how to walk that new ground.

In the meantime, between me making the prayer flag and now, a certain preacher has come under fire for intimating that some people are stuck in their grief, or desire attention, as though grief has a certain and predictable time table. Also in that time, I picked up my journal to write a bit, and I came upon a prompt I'd written down on a Post-it note. I'd been thinking about it, but hadn't written anything.

The prompt asked the question "What do your hands dream of?" I wrote a bit about my hands dreaming of creating things and being steady enough to have nice handwriting again, and then my mind (and my heart) went a whole new direction, and there was this--

And no, Mr. Feel Good Pastor, I'm not seeking attention, nor am I stuck in my grief. I'm living my life and I am acknowledging and paying attention when my grief seems to want my attention. It is a part of my life now, and I can't turn it on and off at will, nor would I want to. Thank God I don't have to look to you for support in this matter because you'd be about as useless as a side saddle on a jackass.

In other news, the other part of what I wanted to share was that I also worked the last two weekends on sewing together this quilt top. The inner strips were all leftovers from that teacher project I did not do (her loss has been my gain). I wasn't quite satisfied with how the strips came together and with a little inspiration from Pinterest, I decided to add the batik flower insert for a little extra interest. When I did that, my top was too long and skinny, so I added the borders on the side. I debated on whether or not to add matching borders at the top and bottom but have decided not to. My mother asked me about it and I told her I kind of liked quirky the unbalanced look, that it seemed to fit for me. I have no idea why, but both my parents laughed when I said that!



Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Life Is Too Short For....





Lately, I’ve been thinking of my friend Denise, who often said that life is too short to drink the morning’s leftover coffee in the afternoon, so make a fresh pot (I’m sure she still says that, though now she says it from a distance, and I sure do miss her)!  Our current coffee pot does not have automatic shut off and so it will cheerfully boil the coffee all day long if we don’t remember to turn it off. 

I hear Denise’s sentiment in my head as I serve myself the charred remains of the morning coffee in the afternoon. And I’ve been wondering: What else is life too short for? What is my post-cancer life too short for?

Everyone’s list would be different, I suppose. I have a lot to be grateful for. But still, I’ve let so many things crawl in through the years and settle down that I would not have allowed if I truly believed I was entitled to choose based on my values, and not on the basis of the many “shoulds” I have allowed to consume my life.

I spent time working in my flower beds in the country this past weekend. Honestly, they are flower beds by default. We had to do something with the area because it had an old stump in it with roots all around and they would get caught up in the lawn mower blades. They were hard to mow over. The stump and the roots are hard to remove. So we dug up what ground we could in that area and started planting flowers. My parents came several weekends ago and weeded many of the weeds and planted new plants. There was a rose bush that could not be planted in the first location we chose because of the roots so we adjusted our plans and moved it to the other side of the bed (where it now seems very happy and is blooming its little heart out).

Anyway, this past weekend, I pulled weeds and a couple of small trees out by the roots in an effort to further define the bed and to make room for more plants. It seems to me the flower bed and my life have a lot in common—many things have happened by default, with no real firm plan in place. I guess one could argue that it worked out okay for both of us. Okay in a raw and organic and occasionally a little wild and beautiful way?

But still, I am left to wonder, what are the things that my life is too short to tolerate? What are the things that need to be pulled out by the roots? What are the things I want to make space for in my life?

There is something else I want to say, but my sense of "should," or maybe, "should not" makes me hesitant to say it.

(Clean up is a bitch, but it is an important part of our life's work.)

Note to self: Life also just seems to work better when clean up is done in a regular and timely fashion.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Understated Announcement

I don't know that I ever actually "announced" on my blog that I opened an online shop quite a while back. I have several of my "thangs" listed for sale online as cards. I have not done much with the shop lately but I hope to add more some time in the future. And if there is ever anything you are interested in, you can always ask me about it and I can list it in the shop. I am also considering offering larger prints. I have a couple of friends who encouraged me to print some of the "thangs" in a larger size and they do look quite nice.

I'm not real good at self-promotion but the tab is at the top of my blog header if you are interested.

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback to offer. I'd certainly appreciate it!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Hollow Heads and Struggling Too Hard

Here's to creativity, weird minds, and also, to a post without mention of that other problem that has taken up so much of my time for the last twelve weeks (the "c" word)!


My phrenology head got knocked off its perch on my desk almost as soon as I had placed it there. It would no longer stand on its own. I thought I'd ask my uncle to make me a support post for it (it is an emptythat did not need much watering for the porch on my room at the country and I remembered this plant. Some people seem to be weirded out by the head, but I like it. It's quirky.


I've been working in my art room, trying to clean it up so I can go in there and do things. Tonight I got the bright idea that I could frame this index size collage using a frame from the resale shop. I put two layers of cardboard under the index card to raise it up a bit and used black card stock as a background. I was struggling to get the back piece (with the frame stand on it) into the frame when I heard an ominous noise. Sure enough, when I turned my little framing masterpiece over, I saw that I had cracked the glass. I guess I was struggling too hard to make it all work.

I've set the picture up on my shelf, broken glass and all. Maybe I'll get another piece of glass eventually.

In the meantime, I will try not to be caught walking around empty headed and I will try not to struggle so hard against things that are not flexible? Oh, and I will continue to work in my art room. I am determined to get it back in order now that I am not dealing with that other problem that has taken so much of my time in the last twelve weeks.

Art room in order---that is my intention for the month of June.

Oh, in case you can't read it, the little tea tag says:
"Be great, feel great, act great." 
 

Monday, May 25, 2015

What Now?

"The name "daylily" is accurate; each blossom survives only one day, opening in the morning and by the end of the day its life is over. The flowering stalk, however, continues producing new flowers for up to three weeks. Because each plant has many flowering stalks, the plant may continue to flower for several weeks or months."

I've had a bit of a struggle, wondering how to live now that I've finished my chemo treatments. Finishing chemo is a good thing. I was so thrilled yesterday to be able to ring the bell to let the world know I am "on my way to being well." I had to read this sign out loud and I cried. I toughed it out and made it through this stage of the journey. It was a relief to be done. Yeah, I'm on my way to being well...

But the problem is, I don't really know that. Not yet. I will go back on July 5th for a cat scan and will hear the results from the doctor on July 6th. So I've had to decide how I am going to live with the uncertainty.

It's not like I was ever guaranteed a certain number of days in my life. None of us are. So I haven't really lost anything. I've just been forced to come face to face with the prospect of my own mortality.

And in the interim, I will have to learn to live with the uncertainty, which really is nothing new. It's always been that way.

The daylily blooms one day and its life is over. It doesn't fret over the fact that it only has one day to live (I know, I know--if a daylily had a brain, it might fret, bear with me here!).

My point is that I am going to jump back into life and enjoy the fact that I am alive. I can only live in the present. I will deal with whatever might be hanging over my head when I know what is hanging over my head. In other words, I will work hard on not imagining the worst (nor the best) of what might come in 6 weeks. I'll have to get really good at this because I will be going for checkups every three months for three years, and then every 6 months for two years. I can't be wasting my present (now) time fretting over what may or may not happen.


I'm going with the daylily. I'm going to seize whatever days I have coming to me and I'm going to live mindfully in the present.

I'm not yet done with my growing, peeps.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Looking Down

All last week I seemed to be constantly looking down and finding interesting things. Of course I took a few photos of the things I saw...
We had a crawfish boil with some of the family over the weekend. I was walking over to take pictures of the crawfish and noticed this one had escaped. He didn't get far. Someone picked him up and put him back in the water. I don't eat much crawfish. We boiled shrimp for people like me. It was all good and was a celebration of sorts of my upcoming last chemo treatment and the 40th wedding anniversary for my husband and me. It was a good day.

I saw this moth Friday night when we arrived in the country. It was too dark to take his/her picture when I first saw him/her but I got out early Saturday morning (around 10 a.m.!)  and took his/her picture.

 
I noticed this little setup when I was running errands on campus. I added the quote and did it all on my phone. Once again, the screen is small and I have trouble gauging how large I want the text to be. I am slowly learning that it can be smaller than I think it needs to be when looking at it on my phone.

Maybe sometimes it's not so bad to look down and notice the small things.