Iâ€™ve started this post four times. The first one was on New Yearâ€™s Day.Â But after several tries, Iâ€™d decided that waiting a few days into the newÂ year would give me a better perspective. It did, because I think thatÂ putting focus on what I have done, instead of just a long list of what IÂ want to do, would be a better use of my time, and better for my psyche.
2017 was not particularly bad for me, in fact, it was pretty terrificÂ (outside of politics). Last year was such a teaching year for me. Iâ€™veÂ gained so much in skill: creatively, emotionally, and physically. Ironically, in theÂ year that Iâ€™d added new tech tools to my life, I also spent more of my timeÂ with old school making and working with my hands. One day, when I haveÂ arthritis, and itâ€™s painful to do these things, Iâ€™ll be glad I’d taken this time.Â In late September, Iâ€™d started paring down â€œthingsâ€ and living a lessÂ chaotic and more organized life. No, to my knowledge Iâ€™m not dying. I’m not having some mid-life thingie.Â Iâ€™veÂ always been anti-procrastination, but that doesnâ€™t mean I havenâ€™t doneÂ it (and continue to do it). It really does get you into debt with timeÂ and is rarely good, unless youâ€™re waiting for something you really want to go on sale.
Putting things offÂ has a lot to do with taking on too much. Where that threshold is, isÂ different for everyone, and we do need to recognize why weâ€™re pullingÂ our hair out over accomplishing something in our free time. If itâ€™sÂ that frustrating or overwhelming, we likely shouldnâ€™t be doing it. Â Or,Â at least have the wiggle room to walk away from it for a little while,Â and be able to come back to it. Thereâ€™s enough chaos outside our controlÂ (like deadlines) without adding chaos to what is within our control.Â Our brains have a need to experience boredom. Iâ€™m learning to be present, and satisfied with what I have instead of leaning over theÂ fence, comparing. There is nothing wrong with healthy, motivatingÂ competition, but itâ€™s destructive when you find yourself feeling badÂ about what you accomplish (as if itâ€™s not enough) and obsessed with theÂ accomplishments of others.
Iâ€™ve reconnected with quite a few friends, and disconnected from a fewÂ others. When my kids started middle school years ago, I was soÂ distracted by everything going on, it was a lot to unpack if Iâ€™mÂ comparing against elementary school. Now at the high school, things areÂ weirdly less complicated, I can really connect and reconnect better. That said, I’ve been judicious with it. When you have young kids in school, that’s your common denominator. When your kids are older, there are some parents you stay acquainted with, others you don’t, for no other reason than you no longer have anything in common. Staying quiet onÂ some of the social media has really helped me, though I do find myselfÂ on Instagram Stories, Twitter, and on Facebook checking in on groupsÂ and pages. As much as I resist it, I canâ€™t deny itâ€™s a benefit havingÂ everything I want to read in one spot. Pinterest has changed aÂ lot, but Iâ€™m adapting it for organization (more about that later). Iâ€™veÂ met new acquaintances, volunteered more for the I things that I reallyÂ care about and not at all for things that were essentially just â€˜faceÂ time.â€™ I think Iâ€™m getting a bit closer to being the â€˜change I want to see inÂ the world.â€™
Hopefully, that will cascade to our sons. My husbandâ€™s and my mostÂ overused phrase this year was “lead by example”Â and I think it was asÂ much for us as it was for them. If we want our older son to experienceÂ certain things, we just need to do those things, and the fact that he isÂ learning to do them isnâ€™t always going to be obvious or a consciousÂ effort on his part. We have to accept that as parents, weâ€™re not alwaysÂ going to get validated instantly, but that validation may come yearsÂ later, when our kids are living their lives independently of us, makingÂ their own choices (I think our younger sonâ€™s autism has helped us reacclimateÂ to slow and deliberate expectations).Â Yesterday, my older son finally hit a high note on his trumpet thatÂ has sort of eluded him…for years. His HS band didnâ€™t workÂ at all with scales or getting better at the instrument. They work onÂ learning a song, to play for parents, that’s sort of positive for esteem, but it’s not educating. He could always hit the note he wanted to hit accidentally. The education kicks in when he wants control over when he hits it. He now takes a lesson once a week, and justÂ practices and plays and enjoys. Thatâ€™s how you get better, by doing things,Â developing a process. It seems living more deliberately has become more of aÂ trend than a routine. Weâ€™re so used to looking busy to others, haveÂ we even lied to ourselves about not having time to learn or practiceÂ things? I found, when I cut out most of my social media time, and tookÂ the time to stare out the window, I learned a lot about myself by what I’m thinking about. MaybeÂ youâ€™re thinking that because Iâ€™m writing a post for my blog, that Iâ€™mÂ still looking for that validation. Sure, but, itâ€™s my blog, notÂ under an umbrella of a large conglomo. I know itâ€™s not going to haveÂ the exposure that my Twitter would have, but Iâ€™m not reduced to 280Â characters, Iâ€™m improving my writing skills. Itâ€™s not popular like IGÂ or FB, but I have control over available content, and if you visit aÂ blog, thatâ€™s what you see: exactly what YOU wanted, not what anÂ â€˜influencerâ€™ wants to corral you into seeing.
When I switched my blogÂ to a different format years ago, I lost all my blog links. But, IÂ have several new blogs I love to visit and going to add, so if I have aÂ goal for 2018, it will be to get my website and my blog, cohesive and onÂ track. I say that a lot, so another goal is staying organized so that I can also be spontaneous! I don’t want to be in debt with Time, I want to have a savings account for Time. This also includes my wardrobe. Being a care-giver and a gig worker, it’s easy for us to get comfortable in the same tees and jeans for years. Eons ago, when I was in college and later worked in a product development department, I used to draw out things I wanted to make, add a few swipes from Vogue, Elle or Mirabella and then just make the stuff. We had a lot of fun fabric places nearby in Royal Oak and Berkley, and all my friends were punks as well as sewists, artists, stylists, or photographers. Sound like Project Runway or Pretty In Pink? Well, John Hughs took that from fashion students, that’s what everyone did. We had six studio hours a week per class, we had to do something when we got bored with the assignment. So I’m back to planning my closet.Â What’s fun is now I can use Pinterest for it, and I’ve created a private board with just key items and key colors for me to reference. I’ll sketch them out in a notebook with yardages and colors, and keep it with me. When I find a fabric or yarn I like (esp. if I’m in MI or WI), I’ll have all the info I need right there. If you search Pinterest for “apparel capsules” it will bring up all those familiar Polyvore images. There’s a reason they’re done that way. Being able to make twenty outfits out of ten pieces is terrific! Karen Templar does this on Fringe Association. I’m still working on my Goode sweater, but that will be done before the warm weather, so I will get some mileage out of it this Spring! I’ll post periodically on that, and other knitting and sewing pieces I’m planning. I do have a jacket and some trousers on the horizon.
Also, more creating (I had work in the Over and Over show this year at ColumbiaÂ University Chicago, worked with some new clients, was contacted by aÂ recruiter of all things, and was featured on Creative Playdate). I have so many ideas that I’d put in a notebook over the Winter Break, I’m bound to flesh out some really good ones.Â I have slowed down,Â I have actual working hours and playing hours, Iâ€™veÂ learned a ton of knitting skills, I’m really developing my stranded and color work, and I have been moreÂ diligent with my Passion Planner and keeping more than one notebook.Â I exercise and get sleep regularly already.Â Iâ€™m healthy and I find I have a lot of ideas after someÂ elliptical time. We all put on a couple pounds at the holidays, but I wonder if people would feel more optimistic about exercise if it were as benign and routine as laundry, not an event or worry. For me, it is. Losing weight isn’t a goal, but maintaining is. It’s as important as clean clothes to me. Spending time planning and planting is also exercise, and even if you don’t have a plot of your own land, just a little row of pots, or being part of a community garden does wonders.
Iâ€™m happy with my life, Iâ€™m grateful for what I have.Â I AM going to share my Christmas gifts from my guys, theyâ€™reÂ so wonderful, and so thoughtful and got extra hugs. Some of these are from Fringe Supply Co., if you’re a maker, and get dry fingertips, the Etta + Billie balms smell gorgeous and feel amazing. Lykke Â (pronounced lek’ yuh, or leg’ yuh) is Norwegian for happiness. This is my second needle of theirs and I’m looking forward to working with it. Charley Harper is my all-time favorite illustrator, this is literally the biggest book I’ve ever seen, much less own! It’s also gorgeous…
After reflecting on all of this, I’ve enjoyed 2017,Â and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m going to make an effort to focus on: the good things.Â There will always be bad things, but, sometimes that makes us do goodÂ things (like making lifestyle changes, protesting, or running forÂ office). There are always people who will listen, and help us find our way back. I hope you have a wonderful 2018, and I wish you allÂ the best. You can do it, and you deserve it!
a : )