Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gratitude cleanse

The "Rekindling the Fire" workshop I attended this past weekend was co-led by a wonderful children's author, K.L. Going, and a life-and-wellness coach for moms, Lisa Grace Byrne.  While I most certainly benefitted from the wit and wisdom Kelly shared with and organised for us, it was Lisa's presence that spurred me to enrol.  I have read her blog for years, following along as she has built her business.  I have attended one of her online courses and was a pre-reader for her wonderful book, Replenish*.  I sound well-placed not to need a whole weekend with her, right?  Wrong.

Particularly as an overstretched mother in a time of major life transitions, I know it has been my habit to treat self-care as one more item on the big plate of my responsibilities and obligations--an optional piece that is often neglected.  Meeting Lisa and sharing her wisdom with other fabulous women experiencing similar life patterns and professional longings was balm for my soul and, hopefully, a kickstart to actually using some of the incredible, simple tools Lisa shares.  One key insight she impressed upon us was to approach self-care as a lens through which to view your life.  No matter what else is added or taken away from your plate of responsibilities, the self-care lens remains in place.

Starting tomorrow, Lisa is running a (free!) seven-day Gratitude Cleanse.  Simply commit to 10 minutes each day to refocus that lens of self-care.   You can sign up by clicking through the link, and Lisa will send the daily meditations right to your email inbox.

*I definitely love the feel of a book in my hand, a book I can return to time and again, so I keep a copy of Replenish on my nightstand.  A little secret is I also have it in my car: Lisa read her book in a podcast format.  In this way, she offers her entire book as a free audiobook!  (Didn't I mention how awesome she is?)

Friday, November 14, 2014

A full day

The workshop day started at 6am when my alarm went off in time for a (wonderful)(optional) morning yoga session and concluded after 10pm with a (wonderful)(optional) session about publishing.  It has been a day of fantastic information, learning and inspiration.  Now, my brain is full and I am ready to put this day to bed, but alas, I opted for a coffee after dinner, which means I'm still awake as the hours roll by.
Will I ever learn? 
(apparently no)
For anyone else up too late and seeking fun finds online...

Have you seen this artist's work?  Incredible.

All right, this just made me happy.

After hearing much hype about this new podcast, the first 5 episodes of Serial made my extra-long drive yesterday very interesting.  I'm not sold on the subject (I don't care for crime stories), but the story-telling is excellent.

This font for dyslexics really impressed me.  I taught dyslexic kids once upon a time, and I do believe this font would be a welcome tool.

I would like to try making these with the girls.

Lasting relationships hinge on kindness and generosity.  The studies analyse couples, but the lessons can be applied to all important personal relationships (with your kids, parents…).

Have a lovely weekend!  Keep warm!

links found via chookooloonks, swiss-miss, naomi bulger, and designmom

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A fresh journey

Today I spent nearly all of the sunlight hours (such as they were) in the car.  After the morning school run, I hastily packed a bag (greatly worrying the cat), tossed things in the car and headed out of town.  For the next three days, I will be attending a writer's retreat at the Highlights Foundation.

Google Maps told me the drive would take around 5 1/2 hours, but that wasn't counting on trucks and snow.  I readily admit I was feeling rather frazzled the last 20 miles or so, and yet somehow that melted away almost the moment I arrived.  I cannot explain it.  One moment, I was in my car wondering how I would ever manage a positive first meeting with the group here, grumbly as I felt, but the next, I felt quite simply here; I felt present right away.  There is a magic here I can feel.  I won't presume to guess what that magic will mean for me, but for now, I am happy to have enjoyed these first hours and am looking forward to the days ahead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Monuments to learning

Felicia of The Craft Sessions recently wrote a post about ripping out a (beautiful) cardigan she had knitted years before simply because she recognised the inherent waste of that yarn in a form she never wore.  This rang a (loud!) bell with me and my Tea Leaves cardigan.  I love that yarn.  I loved it enough to finish a project I had started two years before…only to discover that the pattern does not suit me at all.  I am not a buttoned-up cardigan wearer on the best of days, and this one had the added dysfunctionality of a boat neck.  The edges of the cardigan sat close to my shoulders, and it simply wasn't my style.  I loved the yarn.  I loved the buttons.  The knitting was beautiful.  The finished project was lovely.  But none of that changed the fact that it was sitting unloved in my drawer.  I couldn't face ripping it out, no matter how much I loved the yarn.  That cardigan was an excellent "monument to learning." I did learn a lot about what I should be knitting for myself as a result of that project.  It deserved my respect; however, it doesn't really deserve a spot in my drawer.  Every time I looked at it, I thought of a dear friend whom both the colour and the style would suit, but I didn't want to give her a "reject" sweater.  Felicia's "Let It Go" challenge spurred me to action.  I would take the sweater to my friend, fess up about the fit issues, and see what she thought.

She swooned over the colour and the style!  She loves it!  She loves that it is handmade.  She loves that I gave it to her.  I love that it has a good home.  So…I didn't rip as per the challenge, but I did "let it go!" and give that cardigan new life, which feels great.  Thanks, Felicia!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Restarting the creative juices

One of the themes I noticed as I was taking stock was all the projects in my mind that I wasn't starting. My creative energy had stalled of late. Stress does that to me, but after a while, not creating becomes a stress too. I feel more like myself when I am creating, but for many weeks, I wasn't writing, journaling, knitting, sewing or even working in art time with the kids. Taking stock made me even more aware of how ready I was to get started again, and really, all I needed to do was start. I had fabric cut for a tunic for my big girl (cut weeks ago!), so I started with that.

The fabric is Liberty of London tana lawn. If you don't sew, you might not know that this fabric is the stuff of heaven. It is gorgeous to the touch, reminiscent of silk, but is cotton. The prints range from traditional to modern, and I've wanted to work with it for years. The hefty price tag left me afraid to cut it. What if I did something wrong? It would be wasted! Well, it was also being wasted sitting in my stash. Now, it is a beautiful tunic.

The pattern is Oliver + S class picnic blouse, lengthened.  It's pink, her favourite color.  It's perfect for the newly changed school dress code, requiring my leggings-lover to wear longer tops.  I'm guessing that means she won't wear it (le sigh), but I am happy to have sewn it.  This morning, I laid out the fabric to cut a flannel Tova dress for myself.  A scroll through the Wiksten flickr pool has changed my thinking towards another Tova top instead (the dress so easily tips into looking like a nightgown, especially in flannel), but I'm ready to sew!

Are you working on anything that makes your heart sing?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nuggets of wisdom: hitting the gym

Despite a strong gym aversion, I have started attending fitness classes twice a week. It was everything I thought I would hate: blaring music, a peppy instructor in pigtails, steps, weights…but it turns out I need someone to push me towards greater fitness. Said peppy instructor turns out to be very motivating and excellent at understanding how to adapt a (big!) class for various levels. I really like her classes, and I do feel much better (and decidedly hungrier!) after I go. With fitness on the brain, I finally asked my friend Rebecca how she manages to stay so fit and trim.  Once upon a time, she was a professional ballet dancer, and she still looks the part three kids later--all lithe and lean.  Is it all the years of training that her body simply won't forget?  Does she not eat dessert ever?  No glasses of wine or beer?

She blushed as she admitted she doesn't pass up sugar or adult beverages; in fact, she doesn't pay too much attention to what she eats (within reason).  She also admitted she hates going to the gym...yet she goes without fail at least three times a week.  She says the other women who show up as regularly and work out as intensively claim to do it because they love it.  They say they love how it makes them feel.  They love how it burns the stress.  They are addicted.  Rebecca says that's not her.  She hates it.  She always hates it, but she goes because she knows it's healthier than not going and it keeps her metabolism up so she doesn't have to pay too much attention to what she eats and still fit in her clothes.

I love the honesty, and her words sure felt like wisdom to me.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Taking stock

Where did October go?  It's a new month.  Time to take stock!

Making :  lots of long lists (to do, knit, sew, travel, pack, purge…)
Cooking :  cold-weather meals like this and this, and also mini-muffins for my Mini-Muffins
Drinking :  cafe au lait with maple syrup
Reading:  Gone Girl (in two days!), Siblings Without Rivalry and Make It Stick
Wanting:  the sun to stay out and up for more hours
Looking:  through old photos and swooning over our babies' adorableness
Playing:  Mastermind with two awesome 4th graders
Deciding:  women need to ignore cultural messages full of "shoulds", guilt and shame
Wishing:  I could swap pre-winter for spring
Enjoying:  feeling stronger as a develop a better fitness routine
Waiting:  for the powers that be to give us some firm dates
Liking:  the smell of woodsmoke in the cool air
Wondering:  how my girls will approach some big changes ahead
Loving:  meeting up with friends
Pondering:  how to kickstart my creative juices again
Considering:  an upcoming writer's workshop
Watching:  the birds at Hubby's bird feeders 
Hoping:  the upcoming transition will go as smoothly as possible
Marvelling:  at how life turns out sometimes
Needing:  motivation to tackle some big projects in a short timeframe
Smelling:  the membrillo cake fresh from the oven
Wearing:  this dress with jeans or leggings and wool socks as often as I can get away with it
Following:  Aussie instagram feeds to get my sunshine and beach fixes
Noticing:  how much lighter and happier I feel on sunny days than grey ones
Knowing:  all I really need to do is commit and get started for these projects to take off
Thinking:  about what steps to take next
Admiring:  autumn colour in the sunshine
Sorting:  through too much stuff in the basement
Buying:  eggs (my chickens are giving me the finger)
Getting:  hungry
Bookmarking:  this cracker recipe for a delicious cheese board
Disliking:  the unending barrage of paperwork
Opening:  a new packet of my beloved Melbourne Breakfast Tea
Giggling:  while watching Death at a Funeral
Feeling:  stressed but trying to get past it
Snacking:  on more chocolate than is wise (but it's yummy)
Coveting:  a new DSLR camera
Wishing:  for a few more hours of sunshine
Helping:  first graders learn about Claude Monet
Hearing:  my daughter read aloud with increasing confidence
I was surprised at how much time this exercise took me, and even then, I notice some themes running through.  If you'd like to take stock, head over here to copy a list from Pip (thanks, Pip!).