March 19, 2020

Courage, Dear Heart

Hello, friends. Since last we met, the world has become a strange place. How are you dealing with it? It affects all of us but I am feeling especially tender hearted towards the medical professionals as well as any other profession who is working to support the rest of us so we can hopefully shelter in place. I know that is not a reality for all but I surely hope you are keeping well as best as you can.

I have seen so much kindness in the past week. It really does warm your heart. In a lot of ways this reminds me of the days after 9/11 and also makes you think about what it must have been like during the big World Wars. I happen to be reading a story that takes place in France during WWII so that naturally comes to mind.

Are you taking care of yourself? Being gentle with your soul? I know being shuttered in must be making some of you antsy. I'm an introvert so I was essentially born for this and have been training for this moment my whole life. ;)

I thought I might pop in here for some suggestions to help you get through this. Maybe these will be helpful, maybe not. Maybe these will be obvious to you or maybe not. I'd also love to hear any suggestions you have. These are just things that I'm planning to implement or that have helped me. Never have the small joys in life meant more and small joys are kind of my thing. :)

Some suggestions for your days:
-While it's a great time for a jammy day, it's also a great time to get dressed purely for your own enjoyment. Wear that quirky outfit that makes you happy!
-Enjoy daily rituals. I always start my day in the corner of the studio with a chai latte and my knitting. Now I'm adding in a mid afternoon tea party with Emma.
-Get out and get some fresh air. In wide open spaces and keeping appropriate distance from other people! Go for a walk, a hike, a bike ride or car ride.
-Check out your library's digital offerings. Aside from online books and magazines, ours offers videos, creative bug classes and even Acorn TV viewing.
-Spend more time in the kitchen baking, or cooking from scratch. Have the family choose a menu together and pitch in to cook together.
-Fill your house with music. I'm a big fan of 40's in the morning on Pandora.
-Read that stack of books and magazines you haven't had time for.
-Take an online class
-Learn a new hobby or spend guilt free time indulging in one you already love.
-Play games with your family.
-Have a movie night. Did you know that the new Emma movie is being released digitally for renting on Friday? That's what we'll be doing!
-Try meditation or a yoga class on youtube.
-Support local businesses and neighbors in any way you can.
-Pick up your camera and search for some beauty. You will always find it.
-Work in your garden.
-If you're feeling lonely, find a way to reach out and connect and if you know somebody else who is feeling lonely, reach out and connect to them.
-Carve out some alone time within your house. I went from an abundance of alone time to a hubby working at home and the premature return of a college daughter. There was a little learning curve there for me but I'm figuring it out now.

I think it can be important to find some purpose in your days, whether that's organizing your closet or giving yourself a spa day. Something to look forward to can make all the difference for our mental state. I personally like to have some structure to my days so that I don't feel untethered but right now doesn't feel like the right time for a strict schedule. I need some flexibility. I'm practicing kindness to myself and finding balance in my days. I'm learning to still my mind and body in a way that can be hard to do when my days are moving at full tilt. This can be a Sacred time.

Be well my friends,
Jen xo

January 09, 2020

Catching Up

Well, I certainly didn't mean for that to happen. I blinked and here I am two months later. Two months full of celebrations, get togethers, cooking, cleaning, catching my breath and starting again. Did I tell you I got Invisalign? I got Invisalign! I'm almost 3 months in but I have maybe another 18 to go! I'm very pleased so far.

November is a bit of a blur other than Thanksgiving and I felt a wee bit pouty that it fell so late in the month thus cutting my Christmas season short. I have a plan to avoid that next year. I mean who says I have to live by the calendar?! I think partially because the season was shorter, but also because I'm getting into a groove of not committing myself to every single thing people expect of me, I spent a lot of December following my creative whims. I chose not to do Christmas cards, lots of baking and big parties and I was particular about what went on the calendar, saying no to things that I really didn't want to do which left more time for yes to things I did want to do. It's such a simple concept so I'm not so sure why its taken me almost half a century to figure this out. Learn from my mistakes now that I'm so very wise. ;)

Instead I created with abandon, went to movies, travelled to a friend's house for her crafty party, went out for meals, did some antiquing, had some adventures, did a bit of nest fluffing, had a small New Years Eve party and generally enjoyed the season.

Oh and I turned 49 (!) with a scone cake (because it's low in sugar which I've cut WAY back on) baked by my  best guy. My 4 girls (2 born to me, 2 unofficially adopted by me) took me to our local cat cafe to celebrate and I very accidentally and unadvisedly adopted a 10 month old kitten. The chillest most affectionate kitten I've ever met. Because it turns out she was sick. And now she is all better and lets just say there is no peace in the valley yet again and I'm wondering how I could have done this to myself now when the pup is just getting to a happy place. So, this is Mouse. A squeaky, little pip of a thing. And she hasn't let me hold her like that in at least a week. Sad face.

This one is not impressed with the new addition, Clover pup is fascinated and won't stop chasing her which is behavior we had finally conquered between her and Winnie. I do think we're making progress but I welcome any kitten tips in particular about claws, which are a new thing in this house, as I can't seem to get her interested in the 1,027 scratching mats and posts I've bought since apparently none of them comes close to comparing to my rugs. Also, any tips on not pushing my clock off the nightstand and playing with it in the middle of the night or pushing my beloved vintage deer figurine off the dresser and smashing it. I can't believe I fell for the 'ol bait and switch. My saving grace is that she is at least at the end of the most kittenish of days and I'm hopeful when things settle down in the house and there isn't an atmosphere of hissing, slapping and chasing, that she will be the cuddly, sweet thing that she first presented herself to be. In the meantime, I've been up since 4:30 this morning which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about my current life situation. However, on a positive note this is the first morning I've let her out of my room first thing, preferring to enjoy my early morning tea and knitting in peace, and there has been nary a sound...not a hiss, meow or crash. Progress!

Far too soon the big day came and I found myself with a lap full of art supplies and creatively inspiring gifts and then it was time to take down all of the cheer and pack it away. Only I couldn't quite bring myself to pack it all away so a few bits remain in an attempt to make sure we maintain a certain level of cozy around here just in case winter ever decides to show back up. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Luckily Christmas is admissible in the studio 365 days a year. In fact the time from Christmas Eve to now has been so full, that I have felt a little like I missed out on fully immersing myself in the season.  To make up for that, after Emmy goes back to school Sunday,  I'm taking a week long Jencation...or a Sacred WEEK. I have plans to cook and clean as little as possible instead focusing my energy on having an extra week of Christmas.

I plan to have all the twinkle lights on, watch the Christmas movies I missed (pretty much all of them), listen to festive music and make as many Christmas crafty things as I can. And then maybe I'll feel ready to move on to what's next. Or maybe I will continue to live in my bubble and listen to festive music and make Christmas things all year! Who cares? If it makes me happy, why not!

I have big making plans for this new year. New hobbies to try, new classes to take, techniques to learn. I've challenged myself to a no spend winter which, so far I have failed at to the tune of about $100 in craft supplies, patterns and classes. But that came out of Christmas money so I say it doesn't really count. I want to focus this year on using what I already have- knitting out of stash, sewing out of stash, making projects from the plentiful amount of kits I already own, excluding the new purchase which was a completely new to me craft because obviously I need new hobbies! And also it seems I just found a loophole.

And isn't creating with friends the most magical thing in the world? Or rather, isn't spending your time with like minded people, so encouraging and soul filling? I have much to be grateful for.

So in honor of one of my favorite sayings "Begin as you mean to go on." I have started my year off fully immersed in all things creative, filling my head, heart and soul with inspiration and ideas. I have made exactly zero resolutions, but wrote a mission statement to guide me for the year. I'm full of excitement and anticipation about what lies ahead. Oh and did I tell you we (JUST THE 2 OF US) are going to England this spring? We're going to England this spring! Life is good and I spend a good portion of my time wondering what I did to deserve it!