Post #3145: Sometimes it’s a struggle to show up

I overslept my alarm by an hour this morning – which is so unusual for me that I could hardly believe it when I woke up late for work. Fortunately, I work at home so it was quick business to get the coffee made and be sitting upright at my desk – but really! So unlike me.

I’ve had a bit of insomnia in the last week though, and last night was the first time I’ve slept straight through in awhile. I suppose my body was taking advantage while it could. Now I’m just feeling somewhat scattered as I unsuccessfully try to wrap my head around my work. I’ve got a number of big projects that I’m responsible for suddenly and I’m having a hard time getting started.

I’m still doing the daily yoga practice I set out at the start of this month. Today is day 22 and involved side planks. I really hate side planks – even more than downward dog – so it was a bit of a struggle to get into and hold the poses. However, like meditation, I see how this practice unfolds differently when you do it every single day – as opposed to just once or twice a week. The shifts are subtle yet continuous, and simply getting out the mat (or meditation cushion) every day is its own reminder of how we “show up” more generally in the world.

I have a number of projects half-way on the go in the studio at the moment, but I have a ton of momentum with anything (except for making a mess – this place needs a tidy). I’ve got a real desire to get a couple new garments underway, but am also consciously trying to do some small “art” pieces – plus I’m launching the Comfort for the Apocalypse newsletter later this week which has put a bit of a focus on writing instead of other creative work.

Basically, I’m back to being a bit short of time for everything I want to get done – which is my normal state of affairs and I’m learning to just ride that feeling rather than get overwhelmed by it. To be inspired, invited places, and interested in so much of the world is something I am grateful for – the question really is how to be fully present with each thing and so let go of the tug onward.

Post #3144: Announcing Comfort for the Apocalypse (a new project)

Hey Folks. I am introducing a new project for 2019…. A newsletter! I plan to send my first edition out next Friday.

COMFORT FOR THE APOCALYPSE
Resilience, recipes, and cultural leanings

You can subscribe here.

This is a monthly newsletter for folks who feel as overwhelmed as I am by things like climate change, polarizing politics, and mass shootings, and are seeking not only comfort, but a way to be more resilient and connected in their communities.   

Each newsletter will contain:

  • a short personal essay
  • a recipe for comfort or times of crisis
  • cultural leanings—be it song suggestions inspired by the house concerts Brian and I host at our island home, images from my textile experiments, or a recommendation for a good read

Plus, you can respond to the newsletter and parts of our conversation may be included in the next issue (with your permission).

This content will be original to the newsletter and separate from the blog (red-cedar.ca will continue to be what it is). Again, you can subscribe at https://tinyletter.com/aisforapocalypse if this sounds like something that would interest you.

Post #3143: Before cutting into the fabric

Last week I posted a picture of this fabric, but the photo didn’t really do it justice. I’ve just finished hand washing it, and it’s drying on the rack – so before I go any further in my quest to turn this into a garment I took a proper photo.

This fabric came to me through Heather Cameron – one of my island neighbours and a brilliant textile artist. Seriously – check out her work in translating the Codex Canadiana into stitches which you can find through her blog.

Anyhow – she generously offered me some vintage/antique Japanese textiles for a zen-related project I am working on and that included some yardage of the silk fabric you see in the photo. This fabric was reclaimed from a kimono, and the bulk of it is in three thin (12 inch wide) but long (3 yard) strips. There are a few other small pieces as well. I’ve just now handwashed the lot and it’s drying on a rack in my studio while I think about how to approach working with it. Even a good photo of the fabric doesn’t do it justice really – the flecks on the floral motive are an actual silver, the taupe background is more nuanced – you get the idea.

Looking at this fabric helps me realize how far I have come in sewing and making garments. If I had received such a parcel a few years ago, I would not even know how to begin to approach it – how to work with these strange cuts of fabric, how to ensure the antique material will hold up to wear and so on. Coming to it now, though – I have some ideas.

First of all – to find a pattern that will work. I am going to start with the Tea House Dress pattern because I’ve wanted to try it for awhile, and it should be do-able in narrow width pieces. I’m not sure about that yet of course – first I have to cut the pattern out and then lay it out on the kimono fabric to see if all the pieces will fit, and if not, where I might be able to stitch material together to make it work (the back will definitely need to pieced). If it appears that I can fit the whole pattern onto the silk, then I’ll proceed by making a muslin to work with the fit of the dress overall. I’ve not made this pattern before, but I did make the Mississippi Avenue dress last year by the same company, and I found the fit worked for me without any adjustments.

One thing I like about the Tea House dress is that there are no closures – button holes or zippers – to worry about. This mainly because I don’t want to overwork the fabric either in making or wearing it. This pattern is also a forgiving shape – no hugging seams – which means less pull on the garment when it’s being worn. I’m also planning to underline with a black cotton batiste which I hope will provide a bit more body without losing the drape of the original too much. Plus I’ll do french seams where possible for a nice, stable finish on the inside.

I expect it will be at least a month between now and this dress being finished because I want to make a full muslin (which I frequently do not do), and hand sew in the underlining, the hems and so on. If it turns out the pattern I have chosen isn’t the right one, it may be even longer. I want to be ever so intentional in using this fabric since it is truly a one-of-a-kind occurrence in my life.

The photo at the top of this post is from the Guo Pei exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery which closes this weekend. If you do not know about the work of this costumer and dress maker, you really have to do a Google search and see the wonders she creates with fabric and thread. Truly remarkable and I feel privileged to have seen these creations up close!

Post #3142: Ten days in

As mentioned in my last post, I am doing a thirty-day yoga challenge this month. Today is Day 9 and between the yoga and the gym – I’ve got odd pains everywhere. One of those pains is in my leg and started back in December, so it precedes this experiment – the other little pains though, they feel like small openings in my body and come and go. This yoga isn’t overly vigorous, but it does have me stretching everyday – plus I’ve been rolling my feet with a lacrosse ball to try to fix a couple of ongoing issues, and working on my posture (to fix my pelvic tilt) quite a lot. Essentially, standing upright is hard work and my body is giving me interesting feedback when I work on doing that.

Besides the yoga, I’ve been feeling inspired by my word of the year (radiant) and reaching outwards a lot. This has so far helped me to restore a friendship, added wonderful vintage Japanese fabrics to my stash, and gotten some movement on a workplace harassment case for which I am the union rep. My hope for this year is that I will continue to feel motivated in this way, that I will not second guess my desire to be open and out there. I know from a whole life of experience how hard it is to stay shiny in this world – but since I’m now practically invisible as a middle aged woman, I feel less circumspect about the whole thing.

I’ve finished one garment so far – a shirt for Brian which was meant to be a Christmas present. The power outage thwarted my sewing gifts plan (note to self: start earlier next year) so I’m finishing up last year’s sewing now:

Yes, I know the plaid doesn’t match on the front. Didn’t stop a co-worker from Brian’s from asking if I could sew one for him!

Now I’m working on a new dress for myself which I hope to get done in the next few days so I can show it off here. I’ve got so many things I want to sew at the moment, not to mention my desire to get something on the loom again – but I’m also looking for a more well-rounded year, one with more music and physical activity – so projects will just take the time they do.

I am grateful to be on the other side of the darkest days and have noticed the light returning, particularly in the late afternoon. It is no longer dark at 4 pm – last night I went to the mailbox at 5 without a flashlight! These months often feel the longest – when we are waiting for the spring to come again – but the days will open again and in the meantime, there are so many little projects to sustain us.

Post #3141: Turning to the next year

Somehow we’ve made it to 2019. I find myself amazed by that fact – don’t you? The world keeps turning despite all the crazy things going on in it, and here we are.

I’ve done three things in the last twenty-four hours that I hope will improve my productivity and mindfulness in 2019:

  • plugged my phone charger into an outlet that isn’t in the bedroom
  • removed the Facebook app from my phone
  • started a 30 day yoga challenge

None of these are related to a resolution, but as I’ve got an eye on things I would like to accomplish this year (including reading more actual books), I’m seeking ways to minimize the distractions and boost up my physical energy. I spend 8 hours a day in front of a computer for work, so I’d like to reduce the amount of time I spend on my mini-computer (phone) elsewhere in the day.

I will acknowledge that starting today off without my phone beside me felt odd, but I was way more prompt in getting to the meditation cushion as a result.

I still have some sewing projects to finish from 2018 since our power went out on the 20th and didn’t come back until the afternoon of the 24th – but instead of working on those yesterday I started a massive clean of the studio and I’m not quite yet finished. By this weekend though, I should have a load of stuff out the door and a very clean workspace for the beginning of the year. As Brian and I are doing the #januarycure again, there will be a thorough sort of the house (including all the closets) over the next month as well.

I’m launching a new project in a couple of weeks – which I’ve got to wrap my head around still – and in order to bring some external accountability to myself, I’ve signed up for monthly follow-through sessions at Good in Victoria. Just before the holidays I realized that writing daily goals for a million things in my planner (ie: nagging myself) wasn’t actually very effective at keeping myself straight – so I’m trying a different tact.

I’m re-starting the weekly meditation sits I host next week, and have signed up for retreats in February and May. I plan to also sign up for July and November retreats once they are open for registration. I chose the word “Radiant” for 2019 in my #yearcompass exercise and was pleased to note that the first retreat at Mountain Rain this year is titled “Radiant Light: The teachings of Dogen Zenji”. I love it when life themes snug up against one another like that.

The last couple of years my annual words have been a bit bland – Clarity for 2017 and Mindful for 2018. Contrast that with 2016 when my word was Movement – and we ended up moving that year (which wasn’t on the horizon when I did my #yearcompass). I’m hoping that by going with something with more light and reach – I will spur a bit more follow through on some ideas I’ve got, and allow myself to shine in 2019.

Another storm seems to be rolling in this afternoon with a huge amount of rain predicted. Fingers crossed the power stays on!

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