I haven’t written about it much here – but for most of this winter I’ve been in a bit of a slump. Not really depressed, just meh. Not inspired. Not wanting to face the rain and get outside. I have been working, and sewing, and reading a lot – but it has felt more like going through the motions than getting excited about anything.
Having sat with this for a bit, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I haven’t fully adjusted to the move we made eighteen months ago. While I do not miss the busyness of the city, and have no interest in returning – I have come to see that I haven’t replaced all of what fed me there – and that I am still trying to figure out what it is I need to live here, in this smaller and more insular place. This is exacerbated slightly by the fact that Brian is gone for work three days a week, but even if he were here full time, I would feel the same.
Because this is an impasse with myself. An acceptance of an inertia that ticks away the days of working from home, watching netflix in the evenings, reading the occasional book, and making things in my studio. Nothing wrong with any of these things – but it all feels a bit lazy, undisciplined, and uncommitted. And thus the feeling of the slump.
I’ve been taking stock of all of this and believe the following to be true of me
- I like to be central, and involved in things
- I respond well to routine and discipline
- I like social interaction with purpose – I’m not inclined to just hang out with people who I’m not already close to
- I need intellectual stimulation
- I am goal-oriented, and like to measure progress towards goals
The only one of these things being fed by my job at the moment is the “central and involved” bit since I am the president of my union local. Otherwise, I have not had much of the rest of them going on all winter. When I lived in the city many of these things just happened without effort: the discipline of riding my bike to work; the social interaction with colleagues and community members; the intellectual stimulation of wine-soaked arguments with friends. In this smaller place, working from home – these don’t just *happen* – in the same way. I have to be much more focused to make it so.
To these ends I have embarked on a bit of a path to self-improvement starting last month with some budget control to get the continuous shopping impulse of the Internet in check, which will allow me to have a second (non-house) savings account earmarked for *something*. I haven’t quite figured out what that something is yet – but one possibility is a three month leave from work in 2020 to go to Japan for some weaving study and zen pilgrimage (Brian is on board with this idea – though we both struggle with the ecological impact of travel). A separate bank account is a nice indicator of progress, as it is measurable. So far I’ve managed to put $1500 in there between some overtime pay and curbing my spending this month which feels positive.
Two weeks ago, I signed up for the gym here. We have only one and luckily it is pretty well equipped and friendly – though we have no swimming pool (which makes me sad). Since signing up, I have been five times and am developing a routine of weights and cardio that I can build on. I think I’m going to follow an actual program from a book I got out of the library – as it fits with my tendency and desire to lift heavy with some bursts of cardio. My overall goal is to build strength – muscular development is nicely measurable like the bank account. I’m also hopeful that I will get more toned and lose weight in the process. Or at the very least stop gaining weight (yay perimenopause).
Last week I volunteered to revive the “library” at the Gabriola Commons. I offered to donate some books and was informed that the library was in sad shape – so I’ve stepped up to catalogue what is there and start soliciting some donations to really create something useful to the community. I envision a library with alternative building techniques, gardening, renovation and repair, making/fixing information – which will complement the tool library and the overall use of the space. This is a nice, definable project, which I have been given license to run with – and I like that. There is also some possibility I will end up helping with the communications committee/website – since the woman who is working on that end of things is having a bit of a struggle with it – but I don’t like swooping in and so I’ve offered her my help and we’ll see how that goes.
And this week, Brian and I went to a folky/rootsy open-mic that happens every Monday – and we think this will be a regular occurrence. We know that we need a regular gig where we get out of the house – and a place where we can watch and/or perform music is the right kind of venue. Of course, it’s a lot of people doing sixties covers – but they are a receptive and friendly bunch – and the venue works for us. I think a regular thing to go out to is positive socially, and it will encourage us to get on our tune-playing game.
The only thing I don’t have covered with these activities is the intellectual stimulation part – and I think that will best be met with a regular writing practice I am still trying to define. As with exercise, dedicated time to think and write are what is needed to build that intellectual part of myself – but I haven’t determined yet that I am going to set aside x amount of time every day, which is what I need to develop that practice properly.
With the warmer weather finally here, I am looking out from my hibernation cave with a renewed commitment to myself, and also facing the reality that to move somewhere new is to require the creativity to invent life in the patterns of a new place. It takes awhile to see that – and I fooled myself a bit when moving that it would only take a few months to settle. Of course, to re-orient the rhythms of our lives takes years, not months. Community integration does not happen overnight, no matter how welcoming the place is.
Self-reflective interlude over – I will be back with more sewing tomorrow as the Emerson crop pants are nearly done!