Category Archives: crafts

Crafts

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The first time I signed up
to do a craft
with my daughter’s preschool class

I signed up
because no one else had.
It was Halloween.

We twisted four black pipe cleaners around
a Tootsie Pop and made eight-legged spiders,
put googly eyes on the pops so the spiders could see.

We made paper plate webs for the spiders
weaving grey yarn through holes
the custodian punched through the plates
with a screwdriver
because the paper was much too thick
for the hole punch
and my wrist was hurting
from trying
But that’s okay.
We had to give the spiders a home, didn’t we?

The kids’ teacher and I helped a lot,
glueing, twisting pipe cleaners,
finding lost googly eyes,
encouraging them to keep trying
when the web looked like
a crazy jumble
I didn’t realize how much help
they’d need.
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The second time I signed up
to do a craft
with my daughter’s preschool class

I signed up
because no one else had.
It was Christmas.

We made ornaments with popsicle sticks
I had painted into the wee hours of the morning:
green for Christmas trees,
brown for Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.
I hot glued eleven sets of
green triangles and brown triangles,
and then I glued ribbons on the tops of them
for how else would they hang from a tree?

Googly eyes and a red pompom nose for the reindeer,
beads and tiny jingle bells
and glittering plastic jewels
for the Christmas tree,
and a star and a brown paper trunk
lots of glue.
Again, the kids needed help.
Yes, four year olds need lots of help.
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The third time I signed up
to do a craft
with my daughter’s preschool class,

I signed up
because no one else had.
It’s for tomorrow,
for Valentine’s Day.

We’ll make owls
using paper plates
and pink and red construction paper hearts.
More googly eyes.
Felt feet, felt beak.
“Hoo loves you?”

I’m excited to go in,
because I know all of their names.
I know the names of my daughter’s
nine classmates,
and I’ve seen how they work,
how much help they need,
and I’m looking forward to it.

This morning,
I said to my husband
Just sign me up
for all of the other crafts
for the rest of the year.

He said
Don’t you want to give
someone else a chance?

Nope.
The sign up sheet
has been up since September,
right outside the classroom door,
too bad for them.

Sorry other parents,
I’m signed up for the rest of the year now.
You had your chance.

Everyone Wins: Thoughts About Gift-giving

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Sewing lavender and flax seed eye pillows,
hoping that they will encourage
some dear ones to take time to relax.

Mixing up batches of delicious smelling body butter
to be used as a full body moisturizer, a healing balm,
a skin health serum. (Also great for massage)

ingredients, if you’re curious:

almond oil
coconut oil
cocoa butter
beeswax
vitamin e oil
rosehip seed oil
avocado oil
Essential oils of lavender and frankincense

Feeling satisfied making the gifts I’m going to offer,
Really happy that these gifts
hold the potential to help and heal.

Hoping that the gifts will be used by those who receive them

Recognizing that once I give a gift,
it is gone,
and whoever receives it is free to do whatever they wish to do,
whether it is use it for its intended purpose,
regift it
burn it
pitch it
or place it on a shelf to collect dust
and then be pitched in the future.

As I follow a recipe to mix the perfect body butter,
I know that I can follow an even greater recipe:

Love someone enough to make a gift
Give them the gift
And love them enough to respect their freedom
to choose what they do with the gift

Love them regardless.

Everyone wins.

Popsicle Stick Meditation

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Sitting down to write
so late at night
or so early in the morning
depending on how you look at it.

Why?
you might ask…

I was painting popsicle sticks.

Why on earth were you painting popsicle sticks? you might ask…

I’m teaching a craft
to my four year old daughter’s
preschool class tomorrow
and popsicle sticks
form the frame of the ornament we’re making.

I also sorted glittery pompoms,
cut cardboard,
portioned out glittering plastic gems
hot glued ribbons on the back of the ornaments.

It was 10 o’clock when I began
and was amazed to discover
that the clock said 1:45
when I had finished packing everything up.

How time did fly!
I was reminded of how
truly spacious this moment is
and how quickly time passes
when you become fully absorbed
in doing something you love.

Tonight my meditation
was painting popsicle sticks,
but it could’ve just as easily been
washing the dishes
or folding laundry,
writing in my journal,
brushing my hair…

When you become absorbed
in the moment
the result is always the same–
remembering the peace
at the center of being
remembering the joy
that is your natural state.

Let’s make all of it
all of it
a meditation.
let’s see what happens then.

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Popsicle Stick Rudolph Ornament

Popsicle Stick Christmas Tree ornament

Sewing at Midnight

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And now we break from our regularly scheduled programming…
It’s  midnight,
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
I’m making a wizard costume for my two year old boy,
and it’s finally taking shape.
All day I’ve been staring
at the silvery stars and the deep blues
of the fabric.

Tired eyes now,
the stars appear to be dancing.

If I do manage to close my eyes tonight,
I’ll probably dream about silvery stars and deep blues.
That would be a pretty nice dream.

 

Permission to Make Mistakes

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I thought I could do it.
I sat there, and tried to sew that zipper
into a skirt I’m making.
But it didn’t work,
and I was tired,
and I had to rip all the seams out.
I felt myself growing frustrated.
It was late.
I knew it was time to stop.

The part of me that likes
to criticize and to belittle
any creative endeavors I attempt
was having a grand old time
saying, “I told you so,”
as I put the project away
for tomorrow.

But there’s another part of me.
And this part said,
“Go on and rest. You can finish this tomorrow.”
And it reassured me.
It said, “You are learning! Your mistakes are your teachers.”

I like listening to this part.
I can relax, and enjoy the process
instead of becoming fixated on the result
and dissatisfied when it doesn’t arrive quickly.

You have permission
to not be perfect.
You have permission
to take your time.
You have permission 
to make mistakes.
And this life will give you ample opportunities
to try, try again.

So capitalize on this chance to learn
and spend your whole life learning,
and you will find that life is never dull.
Every time you fall
Your wings grow stronger.

One day you will fly…

Meditation, My Dear Friend the Journal, and Tote #5

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Faux leather and faux suede exterior, olive green satin lining with a pocket perfect for an iPhone!

Faux leather and faux suede exterior, olive green satin lining with a pocket perfect for an iPhone!

I’m going to be totally unapologetic about these tote pictures. Just like a kid who can’t wait to put their crayon drawing on the refrigerator to be admired by all, I’m going to post these pictures until I have no more pictures to post. So here is tote #5.

Last night, after I made it through meditation without falling asleep, I came downstairs and felt the urge to keep crafting. I cut out fabric for the next tote, got the sewing machine out and set up on the table, and was about to press the button to wind some bobbin thread…

Then I looked at the clock and thought better of it–because it was nearly midnight. Husband and children asleep, better not make too much noise, even if I feel so motivated to keep making things that my fingers are itching. Patience, Lorien, wait until tomorrow. So I put it all away, went to bed and…

Woke up a little before 5am! Wheeeeeeeeeeee! Don’t ask me why I was awake so early after having gone to bed so late. I contemplated and then attempted going back to sleep, but the thought of meditating with the house perfectly quiet, and then writing in my journal while sipping a quiet cup of tea–got me up and moving and seated on my cushion within minutes.

This morning’s meditation session was pretty standard . Every time my mind wandered I attempted to bring my attention back to the passage I was silently repeating. I tried to find stillness and focus. I tried to keep my attention on the passage. If I noticed I was thinking, I tried to not give too much attention to my thoughts, but return to the passage again and again and again.  If my body felt uncomfortable, I resisted the urge to fidget, but if I got really uncomfortable, then I allowed myself to shift into a different position. This is how most of my sessions go.

After nearly 900 consecutive days of showing up for my daily meditation practice, I’m still at the stage where I’m learning how to sustain concentration. I even started incorporating evening sessions one year ago, hoping that two sessions a day would help me make more progress in my meditation. I want to experience more frequently and reliably the expansive state of pure being that I’ve found only few times since beginning this meditation journey.

According to the astanga yoga philosophy, I’m not technically meditating during these sessions in which my mind wanders and I bring it back–I’m actually learning how to concentrate.  The sixth of the eight limbs of astanga yoga is devoted to concentration alone, which when mastered, gives rise to meditation, the seventh limb.  Meditation happens when concentration is unbroken for prolonged periods of time, and the observer (the meditator) and the observed (the object of meditation) become as one. Duality melts away, and pure being is achieved, and in this state of being, comes bliss–the eighth limb of astanga yoga. Sounds great. Rarely happens for me. But I keep trying day after day after day, and this is why we call it a practice.

The house was still silent after my morning meditation; I came downstairs, tidied up the kitchen, and put a quiche in the oven to bake for breakfast. I was thrilled to realize that after all of this, I still had some precious quiet time to write in my journal. It happens rarely these days, so there was a great sense of hushed specialness, like I was walking into a beautiful old cathedral, as I sat down at the table and opened the book to the first blank page. Good old friend, my journal. The quietest of companions, and the most trustworthy. Has a great memory. Doesn’t judge or interrupt or talk back. Will hold space for whatever I’m feeling, and won’t lecture me on what I could be doing better. Yes, a good friend, my journal.

What a relief to write words across a page without needing to revise, edit, or worry about who might read them! When I’m blogging here, I often stop myself and rework a sentence multiple times, because I’m afraid I might not be getting the point across as clearly as I was hoping to. Not in my journal! Oh, the freedom to be vague, to speak in passive voice, to misspell, to be redundant, ahh, glorious freedom from fear of mediocrity. Carte blanche to be mediocre, this is what my  journal gives me!

I wrote about Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way, morning pages, how she instructs you to roll out of bed and write three pages, no editing, just stream of consciousness, without any thought or plan. She wants you to do this every day and never miss a day. She wants you to not read your writing until much later, weeks or months later. She wants you to be as religious about morning pages as you would be about brushing your teeth.

Sounds like meditation. I mused that my meditation teacher also wants me to roll out of bed and sit on the cushion first thing, before the day gets started and the mind is assailed with thought. So if I wanted to do morning pages first thing in the morning, and I wanted to meditate first thing in the morning, I’d have to learn how to clone myself, or alternate which goes first. I’d also have to be more diligent about waking up early, because the children won’t be like, “Sure mama, go ahead and write, we’ll be quiet for thirty minutes!” Maybe in a few years, but not now.

Quiche came out of the oven as everyone was waking up. Perfect. We ate, hubby left for work, snow was forecasted, and my daughter kept excitedly looking out the window. The snow came at about 9:30 am. It’s now 10pm and it hasn’t let up. A doozy of a storm.

Between 9:30 this morning and 10 this evening,  I played with the kids, changed a few diapers, picked up lots of clothes and books and toys, made lunch, cleaned up the kitchen, handled laundry, put the kids down for nap, attempted to nap myself, didn’t lose my cool when my daughter wouldn’t nap and therefore prevented me from resting…after nap time I made a snack for the kids, was happy to see the hubby come home early because of the inclement weather, played outside in the snow, came inside, got the kids out of their sopping clothes, planned dinner–and somehow amidst the busyness of this day, I managed to finish tote #5. I’m discovering that having a little craft to work on gives me something to look forward to, something pleasant to think about, even when the kids are being needy and fussy and I’m feeling beyond tired and grumpy. Just the thought of getting to work on a tote bag keeps me motivated to clear off the table, help the kids to get settled with toys or books or something, keep the workspaces clear so that I have room for my creations.

Back in my bachelorette days I was way more self-indulgent, because it was possible. I would sleep the day away on Sundays if I wanted. I would stay out late, eat whenever I felt like it, take long naps. Parenting leaves no room for full blown self-indulgence, so finding little bits and pieces here and there, little things that keep me happy, calm and relaxed so that I can be a better care-giver, these little things become great treasures.

I have no idea who this last tote is for. Doesn’t matter. I had fun making it, and I’ll figure out the details later. Toodle loo!

Tote #4

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Reversible tote. On the left you see the exterior, on the right, the lining.

Reversible tote. On the left you see the exterior, on the right, the lining.

Yay! I finished my son’s tote tonight in record time. I’m getting really good at these things, and having so much fun making them. I might mention that I was plunging ahead at warp speed, trying to get it all done before dinner, proud of myself that I was remembering each step and being efficient–but then I realized I had forgotten the pocket, and had to stitch it in with more difficulty than if I had gotten the steps in the right order. Then, on the last step, I realized I hadn’t top-stitched the handles, so again, did this with more difficulty, because they were already attached to the bag.

Oh well. I named my other totes, so I’ll dub this one my “Think Before You Leap” tote. My son is not yet two and won’t care that the pocket isn’t perfectly symmetrical. It bothers me less than it would’ve one year ago. One year ago I was terrified to make sewing mistakes. Today, I’m allowing myself to learn from them and move on. Progress!

After the kids were settled in bed this evening, I was sewing away, making the final push to get the tote done, and I was struck at how calm, relaxed, and happy I was feeling. It’s so gosh darned fun to sit at the sewing machine with a project that I’m excited to work on, a project that is helping me to learn and progress with new skills. And then I had this thought that everybody should do something creative every day, something that is a unique expression of themselves. Whether it’s a few words in a journal, or strumming a guitar, or arranging some flowers, knitting a few rows of a scarf, doodling with crayons, whittling something out of wood–if everyone could tap into their creativity on a daily basis, what a wonderful world it would be.

I’m way into the idea of leading by example. After spending a good deal of my life being hardheaded and taking forever to realize that people really don’t want to be told what to do, it has finally sunk in that “being the change” I wish to see in the world is far more effective than anything else to effect positive change in the world around me.

So beginning with myself, tapping into my creativity every day, enjoying the creative process, living an inspired life, maybe the people around me will feel motivated to tap into their creativity. I really hope so, because what a gift it is to find things (even small things!) that bring us joy and then to do them. 

Time to meditate. To breathe, settle into stillness, and remember who I am beyond my body and my mind. Time to become absorbed in the unity of all there is, the inner space, the true self, the infinite ocean of consciousness. Time to bring my mind to focus, so that I may experience the presence beyond the thoughts. Time to try to stay awake for thirty minutes.

Oh beautiful beautiful life, thank you.

Sunday Night Mental Meanderings

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It’s Sunday night at 9:00. I’m sitting here in my meditation room not sure about what I want to write. I’m tired. I taught two times today; there were 25 students in my class this morning,  and 29 students showed up to my evening class. Fifty-four students breathed and moved and found stillness with me today. I feel so honored to have their willingness and their trust for the span of a class. I love it when they laugh at my jokes. I love to hear everyone breathing. I’m so grateful to be excited about my work, to want to show up, to enjoy it while I’m doing it, to feel calm and blissful afterwards. How fortunate I am to sincerely love my job.

And I’m tired. My mind is a bit sluggish at this point, and it’s not giving me too many exciting ideas. I’ve been tired so frequently since becoming a parent, I’m almost used to it, but I wonder what I’d be saying if I felt fresh and well-rested.

More tote bags are on the horizon. I have a fairly large block of time in between my two Sunday classes and headed over to the fabric store after my first class let out. It was such a treat being by myself, able to take time to examine fabrics, choose colors and textures, really commune with them. Normally I have my two little ones with me when I go to the store, and much of my energy goes toward keeping my son from pulling bolts of fabric off the shelf, or preventing my daughter from undoing spools of thread. It means that I end up getting in and out of the store as quickly as possible, and I leave feeling like I’ve been wrestling with tornadoes.

But not today. Today I was by myself and strolled at a leisurely pace through the aisles. I wondered what people make with pink vinyl and black pleather. I chose some purple knit fabric to make myself some yoga pants, and I kind of went overboard buying lots of different fabrics for many more totes. It was just so exciting to pick fabrics for specific people, and play with different mixes of color and texture. I reasoned that I’ll be making these tote bags as gifts, spending the money now so that I won’t have to later. It took a while to get through all of my fabrics at the cutting counter, but the lady was methodical, kind and patient, and I was almost sad when it was over. Back home I went, with fun new fabric riding in the passenger seat.

Sigh. Husband wasn’t too thrilled that I spent money on fabric (again), but he seemed more relaxed about the whole thing after we talked. So much of marriage ends up being how to stay open, even when you don’t agree with your spouse. At least, this is what I’m learning to do in my marriage. Keep the communication flowing, speak honestly, directly, and from the heart, and resolve the disagreements before they end up exploding into craziness, or slowly smoldering into resentment.

I saw the kids for a little while after their afternoon nap, got them a snack, goofed around with them for a bit before it was time to leave to teach my second class. I even managed to squeeze in a moment to cut fabric for my next tote, which I’m sewing for my son. Don’t ask me what a nearly two year old boy is going to do with a tote. He’ll probably run around his room with it, singing, “Clean up! Clean up!” and putting his stuffed animals or  his socks in the bag, before dumping it out and starting the whole process over again. That little boy makes me smile, and I love him more than words can express. He can do what he wants with the tote.

I reckon I better sign off before I grow too tired to meditate. I hope I can stay awake. Evening meditations are so challenging because I’m usually incredibly exhausted when I sit, and I spend a lot of my energy trying not to doze off. Recently I tried doing some deep breathing along with the silent repetition of passages, hoping that this would energize me, give me some clarity. It helped, but this too takes discipline, and by the end of the day there is something so seductive about giving in and just letting myself slip away into sleepy land.

Ok, that is all for now. Except, thank you life for this day. Thank you world. Thank you body. Thank you family. Thank you home. Thank you computer. Thank you mind.

Good night.

 

 

 

 

Tote

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Not quite finished, but still looking good!

Not quite finished, but still looking good!

I bought a sewing machine for myself one year ago this month. I was intimidated by it at first; it took me some time to take the thing out of the box and start playing around with it.  The perfectionist in me is always really afraid I’ll make some kind of horrendous, irreparable mistake, and then the whole world will fall apart. It speaks to me with this whining voice of fear and says, “You better not, you might mess up!” But I was determined to learn how to sew, intrigued by all the beautiful crafts I’ve seen people make with their machines, so I ignored the perfectionist’s fearful admonishments, opened the user manual, and got down to teaching myself the basics.

Little by little, I managed to get the machine to wind some bobbin thread. I learned how to thread the machine, change stitches according to different needs, replace the needle, how to backstitch, turn corners, change the presser foot, troubleshoot, and many more little techniques I never knew went into sewing.  One year later, I’ve made a couple of quilts, 3 fleece blankets, 70 flaxseed and lavender eye pillows (many of them with names embroidered on them), and three pairs of pajama pants. I even put pockets in the pair of pants I made for my husband, after he tried them on and told me he needed a pocket for his chapstick…

The perfectionist dovetails nicely with the inner critic, whom I discuss in this post, and who as you know likes to tell me repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, “Don’t even bother.” If I listened to those two, I would never attempt anything creative. Luckily, sometimes I manage to listen to the kid in me who wants to play again, who wants to dabble in this or that, to spend time doing things with my hands, making things. I’m so glad I listen to the voice that wants to make things, because making things is fun.

These days I’m working on tote bags. The picture above shows the third one, and it’s about halfway done.  This one is for my daughter. She saw the rainbow fabric at the store sometime last summer, and I couldn’t resist getting her some, because rainbows. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but you don’t need to have an idea of what you’re going to make in order to get pretty fabric, you just need to be able to appreciate the beauty of it, its colors, the texture, that’s enough.

I’ve really been enjoying making these reversible totes, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. The first tote I’ve nicknamed my “measure twice, cut once” tote, because I screwed up on my measurements and had to dig out additional fabric to make the thing work. The second tote should be called my “patience is a virtue” tote, because dang did I ever have to get out the seam ripper multiple times because I hurried through the pocket stage and sewed them in wrong. I just wanted to get the thing done, got distracted, and paid for it by having to backtrack.

Wouldn’t you know every time I make a mistake–even a teeny tiny, little, itty bitty mistake–the perfectionist whines, and the critic lets loose with a cry of victory. This noise can be really distracting when I’m trying to get beyond the frustration I’m feeling and just fix the freakin’ mistake already. I honestly think one of the reasons I began sewing in the first place is so that I could see how making mistakes is not such a big deal after all. Somewhere deep down, I’m terribly afraid that the world will realize that I’m not perfect. It took me a while to get to that point, and it might take a while to train myself to be comfortable with the inevitable imperfection. It might be quite a long journey before I can embrace the humanness in me–the messy, up and down, success and failure, fun and not fun humanness in me.  But I know there’s hope. Even in the face of my worst mistakes, when it looks like the perfectionist and critic might win and send me back into a black hole of no creativity, all out shut-down, giving up, hopeless, lonely place, something inevitably calls me back and whispers, “You can try again.”

I’m so glad I have yoga. So glad I’ve been exploring the idea of transcending duality. It sheds some light on this process of reclaiming my creative self. I get to observe my thoughts jumping all over the place, and remember that the witness self within is unchanging in the midst of this infinitely changing universe. I can feel the anger and irritation arising, and realize that I have a choice, that I don’t have to be the victim of my own reactivity. I don’t have to remain in the prison of my conditioned thinking. I can create something different, now, today. I can witness the sunset, and appreciate it, knowing that its beauty is temporary, but the self who knows how to appreciate is limitless.

So maybe I’ll call this third tote my “self-realization” tote.