Clearing

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are well and that you had a lovely Easter if you celebrate it. 

Last week was busy around here. Miss L was on Spring Break. With her growing fast and furiously we made two shopping trips to get a jump on replacing her summer clothes before it gets warm and she had nothing that fit her.  The shopping lead into the need to teach her how to go through her belongings and part with what she had outgrown, discuss not buying more than you need and how to take care of what you have so that it lasts and eventually someone else can use it. I was very proud of her for cleaning out a large stack of games and movies that she had outgrown. All that lead into Spring Cleaning mode for me.

Normally I do Fall Cleaning because I don’t like to be cooped up all winter with a bunch of stuff taking up valuable space and dust bunnies hiding in every corner, but this past Fall there was too much on my plate to tackle the cleaning out. As our life returns to normal now that the estate is settled and most of the piles of boxes stacked in our house have been removed I can focus on what needs clearing from our normal daily lives. This year it is not just STUFF that needs to go.

I have sorted through all our clothes and happily donated a huge bag of them along with household items and books yesterday. Throughout the winter D. and I found good homes for several pieces of furniture that belonged to us as well as some that belonged to his sister. It was nice to know that most of them went to young adults starting out on their life journey. 

Now we are looking at clearing less tangible things. As I finish up my last two months of a 30+ year career I have to part with several file cabinets full of business records, an email address with a few THOUSAND emails, digital files I will no longer need and deadline dependency. I know that deadline dependency sounds strange, but that is how I have functioned in this world for a long time. Deadlines are my motivation but I’m finding that at this point in my life I don’t handle the stress of a looming deadline as well as I used to. I need to reduce the deadlines and find a way to accomplish goals without wandering around like a lost puppy. 

We are also reducing digital usage. D. has been complaining of pain and numbness when he is using his tablet and a few years ago had the same problem when he had an iPhone. I thought it was probably caused by the way he was holding the device similar to a carpal tunnel issue. I think now that it is more serious than that. Several articles, YouTube videos, TED Talks, etc. have come to my attention recently that explain the effects of all the EMF (electronic magnetic fields) we are exposed to daily. Symptoms such as the ones D. is experiencing (prickling, burning sensations) to the ongoing insomnia and fatigue that both of us are having even though our stress levels are down and we are both in good health may be linked to the wifi and microwaves from the electronics. More frightening is the finding of DNA damage in children and the unknown health effects from long term use. 

As much as we would both like to go off the grid, it’s not feasible, but a reduction in exposure is. We are going to start with turning off the wifi at night and making a conscious effort to not have our phones and tablets next to us all the time. I have started charging mine in the living room at night instead of on my nightstand next to my overworked brain. D. is going looking for an old fashioned wind up alarm clock this weekend. We will probably start limiting Miss L.’s electronic time more as well. We are all avid readers and creative types so we are very capable of finding better uses for our time. It’s just a matter of adjusting our habits. I need to work on my Pinterest addiction anyway!

I would love to know if any of you have had similar findings, symptoms, or suggestions on less electronic device usage. I suspect this is going to become a much bigger conversation and problem as more and more of the world gets connected. 

Have an awesome week and clean out a drawer, closet or some emails! 

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Moving. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I am in the final stages of my third move in four years.  I refer to it as The Gypsy Years.  Moving is hard on me.  As a person who starts to take root in a place if she stands still for too long, the constant uprooting is mentally, physically and emotionally wearing.  This one is a big emotional move.  I have lived in the same town for almost twenty years and am now heading out of town into the country.  It is not as bad as when I sold my home of fifteen years, but close.

So, I am trying to stay positive as once again I sort through my stuff and put it all into boxes.  Depending on the day, I could be excited, depressed, frustrated, snippy or a complete basket case.  D. has had his patience tried a few times with my whining.

The ugly part of moving to me is:

1- Canceling / transferring utilities and mail.  There seems to be a huge margin of error involved here.  I have spent up to six months trying to find my mail and have had to make frantic calls to certain utility companies that did not get the change info correct.  Nothing like not having water or electricity when you need it!

2 – Finding homes for all the stuff.  This move is especially bad.  We are trying to cram 10 pounds of poop in a 5 pound bag.  One of my recent homes was 1300 square feet.  For some reason I was able to live very comfortably in that space with both my kids.  This time D. and I are having an awful time trying to meld our 30+ years of household stuff into roughly the same amount of space. It will just be the two of us 90% of the time!

3 – The decisions.  All this sorting, packing, storing requires enormous amounts of decision making.  It wears a brain out.  How many glasses do we need?  Whose glasses do we keep?  What do we do with the glasses that we don’t need?  Which kid could use more glasses?  Where should we donate the glasses?  When do we take the glasses to Goodwill?  Multiply this a few thousands times and you have a couple of frazzled, brain fried people you do not want to spend time with!

bonfire photo-1445820258694-73a1d5609fb9

The good part of moving:

  1. Letting go of what you don’t need anymore.  This process can be physical and/or emotional.  I had the very freeing experience this week of actually lighting a fire in the fire pit and methodically burning two large boxes of legal and financial records that had very bad memories attached to them.  That was a great way to start a new phase in life.

2.  Finding lost things.  Every move I find something that I thought was lost forever.  Usually it is a sentimental item that got packed up in a weird place.  I love those little surprises.

3. Shaking things up.  A move brings new routines, new furniture arrangements, new places to explore and new people to meet.  These are the things that I enjoy about a move.  I get to look at my old possessions in a new light as I find a new place for them and I have already discovered a lovely new garden nursery and met the owners.  There is a growing list of places I intend to go draw and paint and a coffee shop and a fabric store that is calling my name.  I also love to take a road I’ve never been on and see where it goes. I have plenty to choose from this time and all with beautiful views of mountains and forest.

Next week is shaping up to be the pinnacle of all things happening at once.  My Dad is bringing my bees (will post about my beekeeping escapades soon), hay is being cut and will have to be put in the barn (not my favorite farm chore) and all my big furniture has to be moved.  Keep in mind, we still have to work.  There is a high probability there will not be a post next week.  I’m sure there will be good stories to tell the following week though!

Until next time, have a wonderful week!

 

 

Photo by Dominik Lange

Hands

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Most of us come into this world with two hands and ten fingers. Once the early infant discovery of our hands and their abilities is over we give little thought to the miraculous appendages that serves us so well in our lifetime. Now, at the age of 53, I am deeply appreciating what my hands have allowed me to do.

I do not know how far back the genetic disposition to arthritic thumbs and fingers go in my family, but I have seen my Dad struggle with it for many years. Since my late 40’s my thumbs have given me increasing pain and this year every finger has expressed its displeasure in the tasks I put upon it.  It is a rare day that there is no pain now.

All these 50+ years I have been blessed with the finest motor skills in my hands.  In one of my many retail jobs the jewelry department would bring me all their tangled, knotted necklaces for me to carefully unbind after they discovered I had the patience and motor skills to work the tiny chains apart. My hands have allowed me to make almost anything I wanted to make from pottery, clothing, embroidery, Halloween costumes to jewelry.  I have used them to repair my home and car as well as dig in the earth for my garden and train delicate tendrils of vegetables and flowers onto a trellis.

I have braided my daughter’s silky hair, buttoned tiny baby buttons and trimmed tiny baby fingernails.  I have doctored many scrapes and bruises on young knees and elbows, stroked the soft fur of many loved pets and chopped thousands of vegetables to feed my people.

All of this I took for granted.

No longer will my hands go unappreciated.  As a “Do-er” not a “Be-er”, I am struggling to learn how to sit with my hands at rest. No more can I mindlessly keep my hands busy while a movie or TV show is on.  No more can I ask my hands to move heavy tile for hours and expect them to be able to still knit scarfs that night.

There are long standing activities that I am questioning now. My signature is no longer as pretty as it was, closer to a doctor’s scrawl, so writing is limited.  The crochet hooks may be retired soon.  Knitting is less painful, though even that will be pared down to what I truly enjoy making. My jewelry making supplies are likely to be given away after I squeeze out a few more pairs of earrings and my long time plan to learn the craft of stained glass work probably is not going to happen.

Is there a positive side to the aging process?  I am finding that though there is a mourning process as the children leave the nest, the face in the mirror looks strangely different and the body parts become more vocal about their distress there is good in the transition.

Like the cleaning of a cluttered, heaped up closet it is cathartic to pick and choose the most important elements of your life.  What do you truly love to do?  What sooths the soul? What brings a smile? What brings the most good to you and others?

I can still paint and draw.  That makes me extremely happy and I am finding that the limitations of my hands are making my artwork better.  Now instead of getting sucked into the vortex of detail that has been my nemesis, I am forced to be looser and more expressive in my work.  I now question what is most important to be done before I tax the strength left in my hands.

I can still hold a baby and the hand of a toddler.  These are becoming increasing joys as D’s kids have kids and I look forward to the possibility of my own grandbabies in the future.  I can still hug and hold the hands of those I love.  As each year brings the loss of more special humans and animals in my life, a simple touch is precious and golden.

I can still play in the dirt and tend to the plants.  As long as the spot is large enough, sunny enough and nourishing enough the plants do not complain about how unwieldy my fingers are.  They respond to my energy and my commitment more than my finesse.

My hands have given and given and given over the decades.  They are asking for more gentle treatment and appreciation now.  They will no longer let me take them for granted and I concede they deserve better.  There are still many things I want to do and would like their cooperation for another 50 years.  From here on I will thank them for their service on a regular basis, listen when they ask for a rest and appreciate what they are willing to do with me as we head into our next half century!

Photo credit

2016 here we come!

2016 plannerI hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Sorry, but the fun and games are over now and it’s time to get back to the routines of life. I have my new 2016 Chihuly planner ready to go and suspect this is going to be an intense sort of year.

Do you make New Year resolutions?  I do and have for as long as I can remember.  I like the feeling of a fresh start.  I am one of those weird people who like change. Boredom sets in easily with me so I like to shake things up. I usually start in November looking at what has worked and what has not in the year then adjust accordingly.

This year includes my wedding and a move so the first half of the year is going to be hectic.  The wedding is very simple, but the house remodeling before the move is not.  Bear with me. The plan is to keep getting my posts done each week, but we all know how those best laid plans go.

Work/art (They are one in the same by now.) is getting simplified in 2016.  I was all over the place in 2015 and felt very scattered. It was fun to experiment with many different things, but I couldn’t get focused.  It also hurt the bottom line of my business a little.  So this year the artwork gets back to the basics of drawing and painting.  The drawing also feeds back into my design work as I focus more on the illustration/design again where there is more profit than just the printed products.  I have recently started to have more sales of my clipart in my Etsy shop and would like to add to those items.

Here are a few quick pieces I have worked on since mid-December.  Over the past, uh, couple of decades (where does the time go?) I have had very limited time/space for painting and my skills have suffered.  I am feeling the need to paint again and am happy to report that some of my past skill level is returning.  It just took a few hours of concentrated focus to get back in the swing of wielding a paintbrush.

I am working small right now.  That cuts down on the intimidation factor of a big white canvas and gives me a sense of accomplishment to finish a painting instead of having a large one lurking in the corner mocking me when I am piled high with work or life events dominating my time.  Hopefully some of these paintings will land in my Etsy shop or in my extremely neglected Fine Art America shop.

The usual “need to get more exercise” and “keep up with all the filing” are still on the resolution list.  I REALLY need help with the filing.  It’s not in the budget yet for help so if anyone has any suggestion on how to stay on top of filing I would love to hear it.  Since I am in the printing business I have a paper heavy filing pile all the time.  I do as much digital filing as I can though I could do better with that as well.  My email runneth over!

I will continue to post projects and let you see what is going on around here.  Maybe I should post a weekly photo of my desk to force myself to FILE.  Desperate times require desperate measures!

Best of luck with your resolutions.  Let’s see if we can make it into February with them!

Have a great week!

Clearing out and passing along

As 2015 is coming to an end and 2016 holds some big changes for me, I am ramping up the never ending clearing out and downsizing that is now in its fourth year.  Who knew this would take so very, very long.

This week I unearthed several half finished knitting and crochet projects along with a pile of yarn and a box full of fabric that has lived with me too long.  What the heck to do with all of it? Most of the projects were started originally to use up all the yarn.  Where the heck did all that yarn come from anyway?  I swear there are inanimate objects that reproduce in my house!

knitting

I have three small blankets very close to being done.  I have piles of bits and pieces of random yarn and the fabric is home décor fabric not suitable for clothing or quilts.  After doing some thinking and research I believe I have a plan. My plan is to finish everything and donate them where they can truly be of some use.  If any of you have similar stashes taking up valuable real estate, I am sharing the links below.

As long as I can remember I have hated wasting anything.  I’m not sure if it was how I was raised or just something I was born with, but along with serving me well during tough times it has also driven me nuts. I am not a hoarder.  If anything, my inclination is toward minimalism, but I will hang on to things I don’t need until I can find a useful end to it. I cannot bring myself to throw something away just because I don’t need it or can’t use it anymore.  Goodwill knows me by name.  It is a rare month that I don’t make a drop off of things I have cleaned out.

So, here I am once again trying to find a creative solution to my yarn/fabric problem. Since this seems to be an ongoing thing for me I have started a Pinterest board called “In need”.  If you want to follow it for ideas of where you can contribute search for “Christel Williams” or “In need” and you should be able to find the board.  If you don’t want to go to that much trouble or are not a Pinterest addict like myself, here are a few links.

The blankets are going to either Project Linus or one of the local hospitals/shelters/churches depending on the size and softness of the yarn.  The random bits of yarn are going to be made into scarves for the local homeless shelters and the fabric will be made into a sleeping bag(s) (see the Sleeping Bag Project below. I love it for its emphasis on recycling).

Knit for Kids

The Sleeping Bag Project

Project Linus

Care Wear

Snuggles Project (for our furry friends)

I have not donated to these organizations before, but am making the links available for you to check out.  There are ALWAYS shelters, churches, groups in your local area that are in need of items.  It does not take much work to find them and they are very appreciative.

Wishing you a generous, productive, healthy, safe, peaceful week!

Christel