Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pushing past fear

I'd like to talk to you for a moment about fear.  I don't mean fear experienced as terror or a phobia; I want to talk about more everyday fear that goes unrecognised, sneaking into our minds and hearts as procrastination, perfectionism, and self-reproach.

What started this morning as a dig through my fabric stash became a full-on frustrated guilt binge as I was forced to confront the mountain of my good intentions gone to waste.  I own so much fabric that it is truly unreasonable, because all that gorgeousness is doing no one any good packed away unused.  One find in particular pushed me over the edge from "should" to action: the simple Anna Maria Horner voile pictured above.  I bought it years ago with the express intention of creating this simple dress for myself, just perfect for Australian summers that were my reality at the time.  The fabric I found is washed and even cut into four strips, and thus it remained, packed away out of sight.  Seeing it today, I remembered how reluctant I was to start it, waiting until I had more time, until I understood sewing better, knew better seaming, had any idea how to sew voile as opposed to quilting cotton.  Exactly when did I think I might magically be granted more time and experience without working to make that happen (and probably stumbling along the way)?

It was fear, plain and simple.
Fear of making a mistake, but who doesn't make those?
Fear of wasting the material, as if its current state is anything less than waste.
Fear of it not turning out perfectly, which is crazy because I am not a professional seamstress.

Recognizing that fear for what it is made action obvious.  Not wanting to waste another minute*, I marched right out of the basement and started to work, complete with French seams that I have never tried before.  What's the worst that can happen?  Surely whatever I do will be better than this lovely material languishing in a box in the basement.  Even if it comes out a mess, I might learn something.  It's a small thing, but it is time to move on from fear.

If the notion of fear holding you back resonates with you but you aren't sure where to start, I highly recommend the Buddhism for Mothers series of books by Sarah Napthali.  Another regular dose of mindfulness can be found on Zen Habits.  This month, he is running a self-compassion module in the Sea Change program.  Warmest wishes to you.

*and yes, I know it's all well and good to say so while you actually have a minute to spare…and which mothers among us have that?  Choosing to conquer this today meant my to-do list went neglected.  Tough luck.  It's one day.  Attacking this fear head on while the motivation was fresh felt worth it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pondering Twitter

I'm making a concerted effort to be more open-minded about social media.  My instinctive reaction to most of them is wariness, and thus far I've opted out because I simply don't need them.  Two pivotal conversations this morning have me reevaluating my position.  Pondering Twitter, I looked into the feed of a few bloggers I admire to see how they are using it, and I found this gem:

Tee hee hee!

May I ask...
Do you use Twitter?
How do you use it?
Any recommendations or tips for a beginner?
Thus far, I have completely avoided it, but I would like to be more open-minded and better-informed about it. I'd love any feedback you would like to share!

Happy weekend, y'all!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Broody hen: the epilogue

It seems that old-fashioned butt dip in cool water did the trick!  Miss Broody Chicken has gotten (at least part of) the message.  She has been out motoring around with the other chookies both yesterday afternoon and this morning, though she still likes to sit an extra long while.  Yesterday, she laid the strangest egg we've ever seen.  It looked like a normal egg (light brown, correct shape), but when we picked it up, there was no hard shell.  It felt almost rubbery and had no yolk.  Crazy.  Her body is out of practice.  Naturally, our intensely curious six-year-old wants to keep this egg forever.

Random aside: Did you notice the huge difference in photo quality yesterday of my broody chicken (DSLR) versus the photo from the day before (iPhone)?  Wow.  I need to use the big camera more often!

Even more random: have you ever tried to take a chicken's portrait?  They. Don't. Stop. Moving. Ever. A bit like sweetly endearing little kids…with pea-sized brains.  Hee-hee.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Broody hen: part 2

Since my last post, I have read more about broody chickens.  It seems the most determined brooders won't get up to eat or drink (or poop) for weeks, so they can get sick and weak or worse.  I can tell Penny is a determined brooder.  Fortunately, I'm determined too.

After 3 hours on the cold cement floor of the garage, Penny was all pooped out (literally, not figuratively), had eaten her food and enjoyed her water.  Ready to reclaim the garage, I put her back in the chicken run with the other hens.  She scratched in the dirt and motored around.  Triumphantly, I went back inside to clean up the garage. Penny giggled to herself at my gullibility and went right back to her sitting spot in the coop to resume her broody posture.  See what I mean?  Determined.

Penny's extended absence from the coop gave Sheila the courage to settle into a nesting box to lay.  I don't want to disturb her, and I'm surprised that Penny hasn't objected either.  Otherwise, the garage internment was a fail.  She probably needs more than 3 hours (most recommendations say overnight and up to 5 days).  I have remembered that our cat carrier has a hinged wire lid, so I could put her in that upside-down (so she sits on the wire) overnight in the center of the run, but I'd like to save chicken jail for a last resort.  Next up: a cold bucket bath for her butt and general internment with the other hens in the run, no daytime access to the coop.

It's a warm sunny day.  She won't love me for the dip, but we just can't go on this way.
Sorry, Penny, but it's for your own good.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Broody hen

Don't tell my husband: there's a chicken in my garage.

For the past week, Penny has been broody.  At first, I thought it was a bit cute and funny.  After all, we have no rooster.  She can sit on those eggs for 20 years, and they are never going to hatch.  Our Buff Orpington chickens are so sweet-natured that she doesn't really mind when I open up the coop and harass her off of whichever eggs she is hoarding.  I have unceremoniously pulled her out of there and dumped her on the grass a few times a day, hoping she will get the message.  She hasn't.

A week into this thing, her broodiness is becoming less cute.  The other two chickens are not allowed into the coop during the day, which means they aren't really laying now either.  Rather than 2-3 eggs a day, we are getting 2 or 3 every 2 or 3 days.  Yesterday, I had to buy a dozen eggs from the shop, so it was time to give Penny a bigger hint.

This online forum suggested placing the broody hen in a cage lifted from the ground so she could feel the air beneath her bum, a sure sign that sitting around won't warm any eggs.  Hoping to avoid a cage purchase, I set up the Peck N Play in the garage.  The cement floor is plenty cold to deter broody sitting, and it should be easy to clean after she decorates as chickens do.  Let's hope this helps!  If not, she might get a cold water bottle to sit on or a quick dip in cold water bath.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sewing until midnight

Last Friday was Grandparents' and Special Friends' Day at my girls' school.  Without visitors, Hubby and I were our girls' special friends, a role I relish but hardly novel for the kids.  I wanted them to have a special day, so we made extra effort to take them out to a yummy lunch in the city afterwards and I sewed them each a new dress for the occasion.

Me being me, I offered to sew just days before the event.  Them being them, they accepted with enthusiasm, filling me with pride as they scoured my patterns for the perfect one, finally selecting the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress.  For the first time ever, I could see they had their own visions of how their dresses should look.  Stephanie took inspiration from this dress, and Ellie found inspiration here.  I was thrilled until I realised it was Tuesday, I had to find and purchase the requested fabric, and I had only one full and one half school day to sew both.  Eep! Midnight sewing was required on the last night, but the pride in their faces Friday morning made it completely worthwhile.  Yawn.  Happy.


*The fabric is Michael Miller quilting cotton purchased at Wexford Dry Goods, a lovely local shop that sadly will soon close its doors.  She has a wonderfully curated collection, and everything is on sale now.  My sizeable stash means I shouldn't go on a stocking-up spree, but maybe you should!