Sunday, July 17, 2016

Our "Inside" Voices

I am so imperfect it's not even funny. I am just like everyone else on planet Earth in that regard.

I want to be a good person.
I try to be a good person.
I suck at it...maybe not as badly as I did, but still...

I try to practice Buddhist principles and speak only what it is necessary, truthful, and kind but that's not terribly easy and it's not been my pattern thus far in life. I am better about it every day but still not where I want to be.

I'm pretty happy with my progress, so far, in not saying (and thinking) unkind or "shaming" sorts of things. In other words, I am trying to wipe out a shaming attitude from my life and inner voice. I am trying to stop thinking things like, "She should eat a damn twinkie or something. A good wind would snap her." or "What is she thinking leaving the house wearing that?" (as if I dress any more wonderfully than anyone else), or even, "Really? 6 children? She can't even wrangle one."

I try to stop this thought process by recognizing it as it begins and replacing the thoughts with things like, "I hope she is thin naturally. I hope she isn't ill." or "Good for her wearing whatever she wants. She is really owning her self image." or "I hope she has help so she can take a break. I wish she could leave her children with some she trusts so her shopping could be faster and less chaotic for her and others." Believe me, those are still NOT the thoughts that pop into my head first. I am not Pollyanna.

I still talk way too much. I still overshare. I have almost no filter. I used to feel ashamed of my filterless state until I realized I actually DO have a pretty good filter. I might think a less than gracious thing about a person. I might THINK a nasty come back for a perceived slight. I THINK hurtful things sometimes. I do not SAY THEM OUT LOUD.

Oh, I still share the positive stuff. I mean, maybe I ought to keep quiet about that too, but I just can't make myself. I really have trouble stopping it. I will tell someone that I like their ink, shirt, skirt, hair color, the way they did their eye makeup, or even their hat. I think it's important to hear stuff like that. I'll also tell someone when they have been especially helpful or kind or thoughtful. It's important to hear that too.

But that nasty hateful voice in your head that wants to say an unkind thing? Maybe that could just continue to be your "inside" voice until you can teach it better manners. I am just saying. I mean, does it really help the world at all to tell someone that it's tacky to wear pajamas to Walmart at 3 in the afternoon? Does it actually matter?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

About those bottles of stars...

Every year I try to start a project, sort of a guerilla art thing, that will make the world better in some way. I think this year I finally found one that might work. I think I can even keep it up all year. That's my intention.

It's all about those bottles of stars. If you live in the Triad area of NC, you might see them in some of the places you go. I just dropped on off at my massage therapist's office, Shalom Therapeutic Massage, and I plan to drop off another at my dentist, Pamela Johnson-Darr in a week and a half or so.

What they are:

Glass bottles recycled from a coffee drink I really like that I buy sporadically that I have decorated by etching them. I place rubber stoppers in the tops to make them more accessible. Then, I print out sheets of colored and/or patterned paper with quotes from famous and/or influential people about one of 4 things; hope, friendship, goodness, or kindness. I cut each quote out in a strip and fold it, origami style, into a puffy star that you can open to read the quote.

Why I am doing this:

Because. Because, sometimes you need a little inspiration or a pick me up or something to make you think. I do it because, if what you read in the stars makes you feel better about yourself, or other people, or look at something from a new perspective, I feel it makes the world just a little better to live in. Maybe you'll tell someone about the quote or maybe you'll debate about whether you agree with it. It hardly costs anything for me to do this and I don't want any compensation. I just want to do something kind and loving.

What I expect:

Nothing. I think, if you are curious and want a star or two, you'll take one. If you want to tell someone about it, you will. If not, I am not bothered by that. I don't even expect you to tell me about it. Just know that I love you no matter what you do.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Some Silent Observations

Normally, I am quite loquacious. I enjoy conversation and I consider it a job well done if I can help someone be more cheerful or laugh.

I'm actually an introvert but it's hard to tell due to my temperament type. I am talking about the Myers-Briggs temperament indicator (or Keirsey temperament sorter). I am an INFJ and we are a quirky lot as far as introverts go and we are BIG on conversation where other introverts tend to eschew it entirely. I get it. I'd rather stay at home myself. It's just I talk when I'm in the presence of others. It's hard for me not to.

This presents a kind of issue I'd like to overcome. I'd like to speak more mindfully and spend more time listening. So, I decided to go all Eat Pray Love and have a day of silence. I've noticed others have been doing this to good effect. I'd like to do it every week. Just a day a week.

Well, today was my first silent day. I think it went well and I have some observations.

First, my husband was not as patient as I'd hoped. He said he supported it but I think he was expecting that I just wouldn't talk to everyone ELSE. He got very impatient with me. He didn't like trying to figure out my pantomime and he hated reading little notes. Plus, he squinted a lot. I really think he needs to use readers. (don't tell him I said that, he seems sensitive about it)

Next, I noted that everyone, EVERY SINGLE PERSON, was exceptionally kind to me and understanding of my choice. I even asked a man to help me get a bottle of water out of a cooler at Target since it was on high shelf and way in the back as well. I caught his eye and crooked my finger to call him over and pointed to the water with a plaintive look (I hope) on my face and signaled that I needed two and he reached it right down and I signed "Thank you!" (I took two semesters of American Sign Language in another life long ago.) and he said I was welcome. I also signed/pantomimed to a woman that I liked her ink. It was beautiful. She smiled and said, "thank you" to me.

I found I could convey a lot with just my facial expressions and I also found I needed to convey little else that I actually had to write down.

I noticed things and people I would not normally. I noticed decorative touches I might like to try. I saw all kinds of cool people. I listened. Weren't many people interested in talking to me versus my non-silent outings. Apparently, I initiate a great deal of the conversations I have. I guess I didn't realize that.

Since I am back to talking tomorrow, I think I will try to minimize the extraneous talking and spend as much time listening as I can. I also plan to try hard to stick to what is necessary, truthful, and kind when I do speak... well, aside from pleasantries like "Please." and "Thank you." and maybe "Have a nice day!"

You are probably wondering how well I did with not talking. Did I slip? You bet I did.

 Late last night, I found myself talking to myself out loud. Once I realized I was doing it, I focused on not doing it and that seemed to put that to rest. I wasn't very pleased with what I heard myself say to myself. It wasn't very complimentary. I need to work on that. Hard.

After that, the only times I slipped up were talking to my dog about twice in a soft voice (to praise him) and once talking about my dog (Yes, he is a good boy!).

So, basically, I slipped up to put myself down and to praise or speak in praise of my dog. I never even yelled at the cat and she usually makes me want to.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Consent and Control

Let's be perfectly clear. It is NEVER okay to take a person's freedom for your own profit or pleasure. It's not okay to chain, restrain, beat, whip, flog, cut, or otherwise harm or hurt or have sex or engage in any sexual activity with a person against their will. NEVER. No qualifications.

This has bothered me for a long time. BDSM is not about imprisoning and abusing someone. It's about a person needing to give over control to someone else for a time for their mutual pleasure and/or release.

When you make comments about how 50 Shades of Grey taking place in a trailer park would just be another episode of Criminal Minds, your ignorance shows. It's not about wealth, it's about consent.

There are a lot of reasons a person might choose to be dominant or need to be just as there are many a person might want or need to be submissive. You'd be hard pressed to look at a room full of people and figure out who and why they might want this. It's not your business anyway.

Abuse, is everyone's business but it's very different than BDSM. A woman or man who is abused needs help. If you look at them with open eyes, it will be easy to see the difference. Abuse sucks your self esteem, energy and health away.

Neither person should be judged.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


My husband and I are crafters, makers... hands on people.

I do a lot with fabric, paint, concrete, wire and metal (on a very small scale) and sometimes beads. There's other stuff but it's minor in comparison to those.

Hubby does a lot of electronic stuff, works with wood sometimes, and is a great photographer. Oh yeah, and I like photography a lot too. He does a LOT of stuff on his computer and he is nuts about RC aircraft.

We are both introverts and REALLY non-traditional. In fact, he called me a "hippy" once because he considered it a complement.

Why am I telling you this? Well, we have an encroachment issue. Although, I'm not as worried about it as you might think.

Our living room has seating for about 4 or 5 people, theoretically. Realistically, only two people fit comfortably. That's because of all the supplies, and equipment (and the cat and tiny dog).

We used to make fun of how I always had my favorite chair set up as a little craft pod. All around me there are all the things I need to keep me engaged without needing to get up repeatedly. You see, the cat and dog think I am the place to sleep so every time I get up it's a whole thing. Mostly, I keep crayons and sketch pads and things like this close to hand. Plus, always have my chrome book close to hand... and a kindle and a phone.

Then, we set up some bookshelves in the living room too and I stowed a few of my craft supplies there... the ones I use a lot.

There's a small amount of overflow in the guest room but it's mostly just folded dyed fabric awaiting use. Oh wait, then Hubby set up a big workstation in there. Well, can't have that out where the cat can get into it and it's not like we have constant guests, right? Yeah, I mean, it makes sense. Harder to get to the ironing board though...

The dining room already is a craft room. It's mostly mine but we treat it as a communal space since I have a huge cutting mat and lots of nifty cutting and shaping tools and Hubby likes those. Plus, the workbenches make assembly easier. Sometimes it takes a month to get a table saw moved back outside even though it was supposedly just moved in there for the night but whatever.

Then, I turned into a giant harpy and got mad that Hubby didn't spend any time with me when he got home at night since he just went directly to his room to work on his stuff. After he decided that I might have a point, he moved his play desk to the coffee table in the living room. It's the kind that pulls up and forward to make it a good surface to eat on and stuff. Well, it turns out it makes a nice desk too. It's in front of the futon and so Hubby kind of has like the world's largest desk chair now.

I think you can see where this is going. We are gradually turning  the house into a giant craft space with a bathrooms, kitchen, and bedrooms. But here's the clincher: I don't care and I'm pretty sure Hubby doesn't either. Oh sure, we beat the chaos back from time to time and the paths between the projects get wider for a bit, but the fact is, we love our multiple craft zone dwelling.

It may not look like your living room but it's our natural habitat.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Squish Book Saga Part Two (Venturing Into New Territory)

As we discussed in my last post, I'm making my own adapted version of a Smash Book but with fabric. I promised to tell you about "gilding my pages".

I was going to machine sew a satin stitch up each side of the squares to make a border that would be similar to the idea of gilding if it were actually a book page. Well, I hated the satin stitch after I tried it on some scrap fabric. Besides, it took a LOT of thread. I still wanted a blue border though. What I ended up doing was using a different decorative stitch on my machine but I used random spools of left over blue thread. Fortunately, it didn't matter what the bobbin thread color was so I didn't have to wind any bobbins. I also was lucky to have two spools of dark blue that matched pretty closely to use (really they were half spools left over from other projects). I swear I really will get pictures taken soon but I don't have any right now.

Anyway, I put the border about 3/4 or an inch in from the edge so it would still show if I seamed the squares together into a quilt and I let the sides overlap at the corners instead of turning a corner. That way I could run all the squares through on one side daisy chain style. It made it way faster. No, I didn't measure how far I came in. I really just set my edge guide a random distance from the needle and went with it. You could use a piece of tape as a guide for the edge of the fabric or even a fridge magnet.

So, about my pages; I started my first "page" for my squish book. I decided to embroider a wreath of daisies. I like to learn new things so I'm using a technique that has been called long and short embroidery and also called silk shading. The daisies are white with very light blue toward the bottom of each petal and, of course, yellow centers. I guess the truth I am speaking here and that I will likely be speaking throughout my pages is that I love to learn new things, constantly.

I chose daisies because I feel a sort of kinship to them. They are so perfectly wild and uninhibited. They are innocent and friendly. I'm not a perfect daisy though. I have thorns. I'm not elegant enough to be a rose so I decided to go ahead and embroider the daisies clearly but, once they are done, I will quilt on a pattern of thorns I think in the background. We will see if I still feel that way when I get to that part. I've also thought of sewing bands between the squares (I guess kind of like bookmarks) and I might make one band a quilted thorn pattern or maybe all of them.

The fabric for this square was an experiment with ice dying (I wrote a blog about ice dying.) that I did in a forest green. The resulting design looks like a sort of unfocused picture of some leaves and yellow flowers (the colors in the dye often separate when you ice dye).

I promise, next time I will put in pictures. I needed good strong light for it and the week did not cooperate as I mostly got rain until I was too busy to take them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Squish Book Saga Part One (The Adaptation of an Idea)

I have always loved Smash Books. Those books that you take forever to fill with art and poetry and lists and color and texture and which help you to do your own self therapy; art self therapy. I've always thought it would be good and so cathartic to work out an issue through art to learn something about yourself through brushes and pencils and markers and so on...

My beloved and ultra creative and talented sister, Janet, offered to teach me and some of our other sisters about making smash books so that we could explore this intentional creative therapy for ourselves. I jumped right in and rapidly discovered that working outside of your preferred medium can be a right bastard of a struggle.

I decided I would like to work on a project to learn to "speak my truth". This means something different to each person but I mean to open my throat chakra and allow myself to speak up and be heard instead of just sighing a lot and feeling trapped and hurt when I am not understood or heard. Your intention could be anything from wanting to learn to eat to live and not reward yourself with food to letting go of old hurts or addressing how you feel about abuse you suffered or letting go of anger.

I began my book like this:

I started with a book of my choosing (it was suggested that an inexpensive book like a composition book would be fine and perhaps preferred so that's what I chose.)

I glued two pages back to back through out the book to make the pages more sturdy with a glue stick successfully. (So, I've got that going for me.)

I gilded the edges of the pages blue using an acrylic paint because I had it on hand and because blue seemed the right color for the project. The color of the throat chakra is blue.

I was supposed to put a book mark or ribbon in after every 8 pages. I didn't like that idea and I was struggling to find a way to accomplish it in a way that was comfortable for me. I guess I didn't see the purpose and there probably was a good reason for them but I didn't ask because I am an incredibly stubborn person. Really, really stubborn. Trust me.

I decided to skip the ribbons for now and work on a page. I was just looking and looking at that book day after day and nothing was coming to me. I decided to gesso a couple of pages to make them good surfaces to paint on and I even tinted some gesso with acrylic paint.  Still nothing.

I wanted to include this super cool quote I found on Facebook so I glued it in the book and stared at it for a while. Nothing. Just crickets, man. Zip. Zilch. I was starting to get angry with the book.

This didn't seem right so I just walked away from the book for a day or two. Then, I talked to Janet. Did I mention how super awesome she is? Not even kidding.

Sometimes what you really need to do is explain the issue out loud to someone else to come up with the solution. That's what I did.

Paper is not my medium, I realized. That's why I've been getting rid of all my decorative paper and scrapbooking stuff. I had so much and it never got used. HOWEVER, it's pretty clear I love fabric. I have drawer after drawer and bin after bin full of fabric. I love to dye it and sew it and stitch things to it and glue things to it and paint it and embroider it... FABRIC IS MY MEDIUM. It's how I express myself.

So, how do I do a Smash Book type project with fabric? That's the project I'm going to share with you; my "Squish Book". I've already started.

I'm going to need 16 squares of fabric of the same size (I picked squares of 12.5 inches but I don't think it matters if they are all the same or if they are the same shape even. That was just my choice.) and I'm going with all cotton fabrics because I like working with cotton fibers. I didn't choose the same weaves or weight or density for all of them. They are all a bit different. Some are just plain undyed and unbleached muslin. Some are fabrics I tie dyed. Some are quilt fabric I really liked.

I picked 16 squares because it makes a 4 by 4 layout and I can make that into a wall hanging easily. It would be just over 4 feet by 4 feet square once all the piecing and finishing is done. Not 100% that's the way I'll go but it's why I figured the sizes and numbers. I could also sew them all in a banner like prayer flags. That might be cool too.

The same way I glued pages together to make them sturdier, I overlocked the edges of my fabric on my sewing machine with just whatever thread I had in the machine. Turns out it was just an off white general purpose thread which worked fine.

Some of the fabrics are more flimsy so I might iron some interfacing to the back of them. More on that later.

Next time, I'll talk about how I tackle the "gilding" of my "pages" and a few other things. I'll try to post some pictures too.