Tag Archives: sewing

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 25

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I stayed up until 3am sewing masks.
Today I sewed more masks.
I’m glad I can sew, glad I have fabric,
glad I can help in some way.
But I am so, so tired now.
I remember that if I’m running on empty
I can’t fill anyone else up.
Somehow I managed to make it through today,
being a mom, being an adult,
being someone who wants to help by making masks.
We had three good meals and plenty of snacks,
we went on a walk in the beautiful sunshine.
We laughed, talked, shared,
and I short-circuited plenty of little spats
with my own brand of silly mom humor.
But now I’m empty, barely running on fumes.
There’s only one thing left to do
(after showering and brushing my teeth, of course)—
GO TO BED EARLY!

Applying Myself to My Work

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Late, everyone else was asleep
and all was quiet in the house,
save for the whir of my sewing machine
as I seamed up the start of another project,
an apron made with
Thanksgiving themed fabric.
Each time I pinned and stitched and pressed,
each time I smoothed and clipped and examined,
the fabric cheerfully reminded me
to be grateful,
love friends and family,
have a thankful heart.
And it struck me all of a sudden,
out of the blue,
as if awakening from a dream,
I’m doing what I love to do,
I’m doing what I want to do,
right now.
And I realized that for so long
I have fixated on longing to do
what I have wanted to do,
and I have trapped myself in the story
of not enough time,
not enough energy,
not enough support,
not enough space.
Such stories blind me
to what good there is in my life…
But I didn’t tell that story tonight.
Tonight the simple act
of applying myself to
my work
awakened me to
this miraculous moment
and the pure joy
of being present.
Now,
what would happen
if we all experienced our work
in this way?

Nothing But Here

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Throughout the day
I’d catch myself in thought–
shock, disbelief, anxiety
for the future.
Then I’d wake myself up,
realize I was here in my home,
safe and warm.
I ate a lunch of grilled cheese
and tomato soup,
I sewed a flannel nightgown for my mom,
fabric printed with
I love Grandma
repeated hundreds of times.
I’d be there sewing
happily along
and the thoughts would come,
and again the shock, the disbelief,
and the anxiety…
and again I’d wake myself up
to reality…
Just here now,
no problem
to be solved,
no worry,
no fear.
When all is said and done,
it’s better right here.
When all is said and done,
there is nothing but here.

Good Ol’ Dad (Doesn’t Care What I Wear)

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I should’ve known better
than to stay up until almost 1
thinking I could finish sewing
my first dress in time to wear
for father’s day.
I should’ve known
I’d get stuck at the zipper.
Damn zipper.
Good thing my dad doesn’t care
about the clothes I wear.
I could show up in scruffy jeans
or a perfectly tailored dress–
it would all be the same to him.
He’d live in his underwear if he could,
and most of the time he does.
So I’ll leave the dress unfinished,
surrender to sleep
and maybe tomorrow
I’ll play some guitar
with good ol’ Dad
who doesn’t care what I’m wearing.

While I Sewed

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He packed the spices today
while I sewed.
Then he cleared his music and old pictures
out of the closet upstairs
while I sewed.
Then he sat and watched
the NFC and AFC championships
while I sewed.
Then he said,
Hey, when are you going to pack?
Don’t let it all go until the last minute.
I don’t want you to cause more stress
by leaving it until the last minute.
I nodded
and went back to sewing.

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Kind people who read this blog:

Please note, my dear friends, that in two weeks’ time we will be moving into our new home across town.  Our house is full of boxes, and the stress levels (at least my husband’s) are quite high. Please forgive me if I’m not reading and commenting on your posts regularly;  I will be catching as catch can for a little while.  But do know that my lack of correspondence is not the result of apathy–I care very much and look forward to catching up on my reading and commenting as soon as time permits.

Lots of love,

Lorien

Smile and Get On With It

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I sewed through the night
to finish my son’s Halloween costume,
went to bed this morning at 5:30 and
Awoke at 7, needing to get the kids going for school.

I couldn’t wait to see my little guy
in the costume I made him.
After a little coaxing we convinced him to try it on.

Oh dear, it’s a bit long on him..
I might have to hem it so that he does’t
trip over the fabric.
But still, the costume looks great.
And then he decided he didn’t want to wear it.
After staying up half the night to finish the thing
so that he could have it for Halloween,
the dude didn’t want to wear that wizard  costume.

WHAT?
This is how I know meditation
is working:
Before I might have become upset
about working so hard for nothing,
working to the point of exhaustion..

But now I smile and get on with the rest of my life,
with space in my mind to savor what it is that I already I have.

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.

 

A Birdcage Cover

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It’s past my bedtime,
1:29 am, to be precise.
The crickets sing in unison
a most beautiful lullaby,
and in the background there’s the distant whoosh
of cars hurtling through the night on the highway.
I should’ve gone to bed hours ago,
but instead I made a birdcage cover for my brother in law.

The birds were waking him up in the morning,
and I thought to myself, “It should be easy enough.
“Let’s make a cover for the cage to keep the light out.”

I took measurements, we got some fabric yesterday.
Today I measured and cut the fabric
while my mother in law sewed.
We made a  great team;
she told me all sorts of funny stories,
and the birdcage cover took shape before my eyes.

We were persistent, even when midnight rolled around.
We snuck into my brother in law’s room to do a fitting,
and then back downstairs to the sewing machine
to attach velcro closures.

I asked the birds to behave themselves,
put the cover on the cage, and
loved the job I did.
The cover fit, and it looked pretty great.

I’m tired as hell now,
but my heart is full–
and I have a birdcage cover to show for my time.

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

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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.