Who I Have Become

garden hands

 

You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again

 

This quote from the book “Lolita in Tehran” really struck me this morning.  I’ve been pondering and committing to slow deliberate action these days as I sift through a decade of shuffling from one place to the next.  I wonder how much of my adult life has been spent orienteering to a new place and saying goodbye to another.  How many versions of myself have existed and which one will persist.  

And I realize, so much of my time has been spent chasing after a part of me which may never have even existed.  Was I ever really truly carefree?  Or is this a story I created to dispel the discomfort I have with my true self or to allow myself to linger a little longer in a chronic unhealthy game of denying the present.  

Ten years ago, I say, I had nothing to worry about but the contents of a backpack and a pocket full of maps.  Which is not true.  The maps, the travel, the days spent thinking I was defined by my distrust of proper footwear and all matters of conforming, were a ruse.  A distraction I have continued to play over and over again in search of that one place that would magically make everything click and I’d stay. 

And in truth, while I travelled, threw jobs away like candy wrappers and said goodbye more often than hello…I craved the very things I now have.  I remember sitting in a tent sewing by hand day dreaming about how great it would be to just have a little room with a little table with a sewing machine.  or coffee with a friend.  or a familiar haunt to visit.  houseplants and a garden and a stack of books to read.  

Yes, I have always wanted my own piece of land.  I have come close to deciding I must be a failure because at 33 I have so few of the things I thought would make up my life.  I thought by now I’d have a family.  Maybe a farm.  Perhaps I’d run a little tea shop and master the art of sinfully good cookies and scones.  In focusing so much on what I have yet to achieve, I have failed to celebrate all that I have and all that I should be grateful for.  In spending so much time looking for the person I was, I have failed to celebrate the complexity and beauty of who I have become.  

 

Turning

night time highway

At best I’m a scattered mess.

I’m reasonably comfortable admitting this now.

I’m not even sure what this post is really about, but woke up this morning feeling that it was time to get back to writing…any writing…even if it is just a rambling blog post.  I pulled out a stack of old journals, sifted through snippets of poems, giggled, and traced through a rather mixed up geography of thoughts.  

13 moves in 6 years.  21 moves in total.  Do I have just a terrible case of wanderlust?  Not really.  The moving and constant uprooting does little to satisfy my urge to explore and rather counter-productively destroys all funds and time for real adventure.  It is to the point now where I can barely tell the difference between an old familiar place and a new one.  

2009.  The year I turned 30.  The months leading up to my 30th birthday I was a madhouse of writing.  (and perhaps even an actual madwoman…but why dwell!).   Journals that I had failed to fill for years suddenly ran out of room.  I house sat a big old place on a hill with a 180 acre view and something about that space, two summers of being a caretaker at a cabin (and a decision to not simply jump at the first urge to flee) allowed me the space to write.  But my inability to secure long term employment and housing meant everything (including emotions) remained in boxes.  Labelled, but contents still vague and mysterious.

I feel I am starting to unpack now.  Figuratively.  Literally, I am still living in a rental which smells of stale cigarette smoke from the previous tenant and is punctuated daily with arguments and bad language from the other side of our paper thin walls.  But figuratively i am starting to pull out the necessary tools for some much delayed goal setting.  (and yes, top of that list is still ‘buy a house’ and ‘consider vacations instead of moving’).

Here is what appeared in my ‘year of turning 30’ journal titled:  30

a decade of knitting
gnawing at memories
picking nails

fidgeting from one foot to the other

passing time at being suspicious

or questioning
anything that doesn’t bite back

and even some things that do.

 

 

50 Cheap Dates

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Perhaps I shouldn’t advertise that I’m a pretty cheap date.  But it’s true.  Anything that starts with b and ends in ‘eer’ will get me to the table.  You can get a second date at the slightest suggestion of ice cream.  And yes, I do believe Mr. Beardpants secured me as his full-time live-in lady over several days worth of apple pie for breakfast.

I bore easily.  Even with ample nourishment and internet access to zombie shows.  And despite having a house full of books, craft projects and other forms of entertainment, I’m always nagging suggesting that we go out and do something new.  Mr. Beardpants and I have spent an excessive a lot of time together, in particular, over the last year where we have been living and working together.  And I think it’s important in any relationship to try and switch things up or at the very least move the conversation away from work.  Those of you who work with your significant other will know what I’m talking about.  If you spend most of your meals making fun of your boss or plotting the next days enormous load of overwork…than it’s time to start picking away at this list of 50 Cheap Dates.

Quite a few of these suggestions are date ideas we’ve put into action and some are dates I’m hoping to stroll out of my house for soon (hint: Mr. Beardpants! I know you’re reading.  And Mwah..i loves ya).  And I’ve included a number of date ideas that you can do at home.  These will be particularly good for couples with kids who can’t secure a babysitter, have stretched the budget already to the limit and/or have started to forget that they have names other than Mom and Dad.

1. Check out a local museum.  (Some even have a free day or regular free evening.)
2. Pack a picnic and go for a long bike ride.
3. Settle in for a themed movie marathon.  My preference would be the entire Die Hard series with ample servings of popcorn and shoutings of yippee-ki-yay-mother-***bleep.
4. Search online or through some cookbooks scored at the library and try out a new recipe together.
5. Plan a board game night and invite some losers…ahem, I meant other players…to join.  And remember…nobody likes a loser.
6. Create a picnic in your own backyard.  Complete with candles and intoxicating bug spray.
7. Go for a night of browsing and tea drinking in your local bookstore.
8. Do a tour of local vintage/junk shops.
9. Go treasure hunting through Saturday morning garage sales.  Don’t forget the coffee and junk wish list!
10.  Play tourist in a nearby town.  (Millbrook…I hear you have a good bakery and I’m coming to see you).
11. Check out your local art gallery or search for an artists cooperative
12. Create a mini map or brochure and do a walking tour of local attractions.
13. Rent a canoe.  (You know what they say…the paddle test is the ultimate relationship tester.  And if you can manage a strenuous portage without fighting…I think you’re gonna be just fine).
14. Go to the library and select a book for each other.
15.  Grab a deck of cards or a chess board and head to your favourite pub or coffee shop.
16.  Take $5 each to a local thrift store and buy a surprise for your partner.
17.  Visit a local winery or farm.
18.  Buy some inexpensive art supplies and create a masterpiece together.
19.  Take a stroll through your local farmer’s market and plan a ‘local’ meal.
20.  Grab your camera and head out for a photography hike.
21. Plan a mini one night escape and stay at a local campsite
22.  Borrow some fishing gear and head to a local fishing spot.
23.  Plan and build a piece of furniture together.
24.  Find a local festival.
25.  Attend a matinee.
26.  Check out a local band.
27.  Go indoor rock climbing
28.  Plan and create a chocolate tasting night
29.  Make homemade bread together (than stand around looking smug while stuffing your faces with fresh bread smothered in butter.  Trust me, the smugness is necessary)
30. Go for a late night full moon hike or snowshoe.  ( complete this by packing a beer or two, some wine and/or a thermos full of your favourite hot beverage.)
31.  Plan an at-home fondue night  (nothing saves love like swiss cheese)
32.  Serve up some breakfast in bed.
33.  Create a fort in your living room and tuck in for a movie with s’mores.
34.  Make ice cream sundaes.
35.  Go for a swim.  Pool.  Lake.  River.  Puddle.  You choose.
36.  Volunteer at a local event or for a local organization together.
37.  Visit your local zoo
38.   Bowling.  If only for the ridiculous shoes.
39.   Create a city wide treasure hunt
40.  Mix margharitas and hang a hammock.
41.  Go house hunting.  (and my preference…pretend you can afford a house!).
42.  Make finger foods, light some candles, set up some comfy cushions and snuggle in to read.
43.  Try some lessons together.
44.  Create an at home spa night (there is likely no man on earth who wants to actually do this by the way.  But there’s always hope).
45.  Write a bucket list together.
46.  Plan a fantasy vacation or plan a realistic super low budget awesome adventure.
47.  Train for a race together or run in a local fundraiser.
48.  Check out some local theatre (last year we brought a picnic to a Shakespeare in the park performance).
49.  Visit a local bakery.
50.  Nothing saves lovin’ like mini putt.

What to Wear: Floral

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I’ve fallen asleep again at the blogging wheel.  And I completely missed ‘What to Wear’ for St. Patrick’s Day, but I can assure you that my display was pathetic and likely didn’t include a stitch of green.  For shame!  However, when I received the reminder about this weeks theme being “Floral”, I really couldn’t resist… I do love a floral print.

When I started looking through my house for all things floral I realized that there is a touch of it just about everywhere.  Subtle.  Little tiny prints.  Curtains in my sewing room.  Duvet cover.  Blue roses on my handmade laptop case.  Aprons. Fabric swatches.  Jewelry.  Trinket boxes.  and Photographs.

In my defense…I was raised by a florist.

And here is the next shameful part of this post…I didn’t even bother to take a photo of myself in any of the outfits.  But I did snag out my favourite pieces to show you.  (There was, as could be predicted, plenty of floral print options in my closet).

vintage floral print dress

This dress, and the one that follows, were two finds that I picked up while on vacation this winter in Montreal.  It rained the whole day and we hopped from one micro-brew pub to the next…eventually stumbling on a large stuffed to the brim kinda vintage shop with a huge sale…hooray!  There was an abundance of cute dresses.  The pink one is my favourite as it combines two things I love:  lace trim and tiny floral print.  I’m not typically a big fan of pink, but lately it’s been catching my eye.  I was drawn to the ‘girly’ nature of these dresses.  Although I spend all winter in jeans or yoga pants, I’m pretty much all skirts and dresses once the warm weather hits.  In truth…I actually hate pants.  And shoes.  I truly hate shoes.

vintage floral print dress

This top.  It didn’t fit me for a long time and it probably should have made its way into a donation bag at some point, but I held out with hope.  And hooray, it fits again!   I have never owned the right kinda bra to put under a top like this.  So sometimes I go ‘sans-bra’ and just blush a whole lot throughout the day.  Maybe that’s too much information and maybe fashion belongs only to those who properly contain their breasts, but I won’t judge if you won’t!  If you’re keeping track it also means that on top of hating pant and shoes…I also hate bras.

floral print camisole

i was going to show you the blue and white floral print apron that I used to wear over top of everything (because I used to think aprons should be worn everywhere and honestly I still do), but I thought I’d shorten this up and just end with one of my all-time favourite floral print items…this cotton scarf.  Bought it at a garage sale somewhere in England (yep, real specific…you know the place right?).  I think i was wandering around lost.  Initially I bought the scarf for the small carrying bag it was in so I would have something to stuff my journal into.  But the scarf has been a regular ever since.  I’ve used it as a curtain, table cloth, scarf, sarong…you get the picture.

summary:  most of my clothing can be used alternating as home decor.  hates pants, shoes and bras.

 if you are taking fashion advice from me…oh i’m not sure there is help for you.  none whatsoever.  but best wishes.

cotton floral print scarf

 Oh and I almost forgot…this link-up stuff is all new…but head on over to Nicole’s Blog  Gypsy in Jasper to check out all the other great “What to Wear” floral combinations!

Things That Can Break

vintage typewriter suitcase

moving boxes

Wondering if I can wear a goiter with style.

These days I’m forced to recognize that ‘control’ may be more illusion or perspective than reality.  That my body (despite being properly fed, nurtured, treated delicately and exercised appropriately) might still do its own thing.

I am edgy today.  Irritated at the bags under my eyes, the ease of exhaustion, the swelling in my throat and the persistent pain in my back….my hips…my feet…my hands.

Moving forward…movement in general…is what is best.  The quiet numbing slosh of the water at the pool as I go from one end of the lane to the other.  The scrape of the skate blades on the freshly cleared ice.  If I sit for too long I may stay that way, suspended.

This morning I started to pack the boxes.  Started the process of putting everything temporarily on hold until we unpack again.  A familiar, but now completely uninteresting process.    I have moved enough times now that there is no longer any excitement in it for me, but luckily also no hesitation.  No longer that sense of sitting on the edge of something new…some unknown potential…some brief glimpse of opportunity.

There is always the uncertainty.  But even that I have gotten used to.  I don’t know where I’ll work…if I’ll make new friends…if I’ll find old or new patterns to follow….if this place will be better or worse than the last.  For now I will simply not know.  You have to sit with that.  There is no other choice.  No prediction.  No way of reading the future.

I am a master now at address changes.  All of our worldly belongings can be unloaded by two of us in under an hour.  I panicked briefly about labeling boxes and than quickly realized it’s not as necessary as it seems.

Next friday, a pizza box…perhaps a bottle or two of beer…and that strange hollow echo of a place not yet your own.

What to Wear: Ladies Night!

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Seriously, are you going to take fashion advice from me?  Maybe you should take it with a grain of salt.  I may very well be the least fashionable person I know.  For one thing, I almost never buy clothes.  And most of the time I’m covered in dirt or cleaning chemicals from work.  Dressed to impress…janitors!

But you see I’ve been enjoying reading all the other ‘What to Wear’ posts so much that I thought it might be fun to join up.  And I’ve got this little itty bitty resolution to get over the whole ‘no, don’t take my photo’ thing.  Plus I thought it might give me an excellent excuse to slip out of my work clothes from time to time and dolly myself up.

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The theme this time around is Ladies Night.  Honestly, the last time I went out with my ladies was in the summer.  We live and work on a 500 acre property surrounded by fence and we almost never go anywhere.  So Ladies Night for me typically involves a cold bottle of beer and woodworking out in the shop. But you see, we are preparing to return to social life.  So instead of showing you my shop clothes (which I was wearing five minutes before I took these photos), I thought I’d show you the outfit I put together for Valentine’s Day (where yes, we did indeed go out…and it was fabulous).

I rushed in, threw on the outfit and grabbed my camera (but there was no one home to help with the photo shoot).  Technical difficulties.  We live in what feels like a storage space.  There are only three windows across two floors and the most unforgiving fluorescent lights.  I actually might have been better off trying to take these photos in the garage.  But anyways…I promise the photos will get better (our new place has tons o’ windows).  And that’s right, I could not get my entire self with the entire outfit showing in one photo.  Head or bottom chopped off every time.  No biggie.

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The outfit…my favourite comfy cotton white tank that I wear under almost everything,  a denim button up shirt from Gap that I got 2nd hand, a big red scarf (also thrifted) and …drum roll please…a red jersey maxi skirt that I made a few hours before going out for the night!  I’m also sporting a spoon ring I got from the Orangeville Farmer’s Market in the summer.  It’s got a beautiful ‘narcissus’ pattern on it that I love, big dangly earrings I scored from a thrift shop for $2 and a new feather necklace that I made from supplies scored at the Arton Bead Shop in Toronto (if you are ever in Toronto…this is the place for crafty jewelry supplies.  It’s bead heavenImage).

No shoes.  Ordinarily I’m all about winter, but this year I got the major blues and my feet keep begging me for warm soil.  I swear…you can actually hear them crying when I shove them into wool socks and big heavy winter boots.  Giant heaving sobs of distress.

So, how did I do?  Next up will be ‘What to Wear’  for St. Pat’s.  And if you are looking for other wonderful ‘What to Wear’ ideas check out these fabulous fashion divas of the web:

Nicole: Gypsy in Jasper

Marcia: Like a Small Fire
Sondra: Abhaya Yoga

ship wreck

alton mills window

I have since watched seasons turn, tended gardens,

And I understand that for new life to grow

What has long been held back, held in,

Must be released, set free, transformed,

Composted, returned.          (from Leaving by Claire Sylvan)

 

I was sifting through Claire’s beautiful book of poems called ‘Turnings’ and this snippet from her poem ‘Leaving’ pulled me in and put words to a feeling I have been nestling for some time.

Strange how the other day the prospect of being offered a good job with a regular salary and Monday to Friday hours brought sadness instead of joy.  As if, instead of watching an opportunity unfurl, I was seeing the blinds be drawn on the window.  And I knew then that I needed to pay attention to that feeling.

I have been more silent this year.  Withdrawn.  A small ship wreck of my former self.  And i’ve allowed myself, for once, to simply sit with this for awhile and watch what comes back to shore.  To not jump at the first chance of change.  All too often I grab for the first thing that looks like a life jacket, only weeks or months later to discover it is the same piece of driftwood that i’ve been narrowly clinging to for years.

I have spent a lot of time worrying about what other people think or trying to achieve what someone else wants for me.  I’ve noticed that when I do put words to the things I want they are often shoved down.  Irresponsible.  Eccentric.  Too many ideas.  Too little focus.  Flighty.  Indecisive.  Not whole.

I’m ready now to start transforming the judgments I have picked up.  They do not come from me and don’t belong here.  Responsive.  Creative.  A wealth of ideas.  Outside the box.  Adventurous.  Decisive.  Whole.

I’ve worked hard this past year.  And instead of focusing on the isolation, the exhaustion, the sense of having given too much…I want to focus on the solitude, the rest, the sense that I can now

point to what i want (by virtue of knowing what I don’t want).

I was recently asked in an interview to describe my dream job.  What came out of my mouth was what they wanted to hear.  That is, after all, what we have been told to do in an interview.  But I’m spitting up truth these days when I least expect it.  I asked myself that very same question when I got home.  Naturally, I had a different answer.

Now the question is whether or not I am going to listen to and follow that truth.

What I would like to do with 2013:

  • develop a creative writing e-course and eventually expand that to a series of retreats.  An opportunity to engage people to seek and speak their truth, their story through a series of guided activities and writing exercises.  the kind of writing that will feel like invasive surgery, an embrace and a warm cup of cider (all at the same time)
  • craft.  create.  and sell little bits of beauty.
  • write.  write.  write. and when i think it’s out:  edit.  edit.  edit.
  • sip tea.  sell tea.
  • finish the last bit of my 2nd personal trainer certification and study wellness coaching.