Happy Friday + Randomness

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This is the view from my doctor’s office. A muddy shot I took with my ipad while I was waiting — that building in mid-construction hadn’t even broken ground when I first started seeing my doctor almost three years ago. I had an appointment on Wednesday, the quarterly one for my thyroid condition called Graves’ Disease. Every four months, I get blood work done, and my Harvard-educated physician and I go over the numbers while we sit next to this view from the seventh floor.

This time, the prognosis was a mixed bag. My condition hinges on the levels of three types of hormones: TSH, T4 and T3. I’m not going to delve into details, but basically two of my numbers are heading in the right direction and the other one is decidedly ambling the wrong way. My results shift around with each lab test. Last quarter, two different numbers were looking better and the third one had held steady so I was definitely improving. I’m not in critical condition now but I’m not really out of the woods either.

I often feel like we’re conducting an experiment together, my doctor and I. Every quarter, I report on my stress level, my diet, my exercise regimen and we examine how they correlate with my numbers. I am an anomaly in that I refuse to take medication and my doctor — who I love and if she weren’t my endocrinologist, I’m certain we’d be hanging out as friends — tells me I’m “so fascinating”. I take zero medications, and the nurse who checked me in (blood pressure, weight check, etc.) marveled that my medication list was empty. “I never see that,” she told me. “Even eighteen-year-olds have a laundry list of meds these days.” That surprised me, though I suppose anyone who needs to go an endocrinologist has some predilection that should or could be controlled with drugs.

For the first time in nearly three years, I was intensely curious about the specifics of my thyroid hormone levels. I didn’t really know what any of those numerals meant. I talked in-depth with my doctor about my test results. I asked her to show me the numbers when I was at my worst, and though I knew I had been in a seriously dangerous state, I hadn’t known or had forgotten that I was “off the charts”. My thyroid was producing nearly four times the normal amount, which as I understand it is the equivalent of shoving every known black market amphetamine down my throat. So sick and haggard and mentally deranged was I at the time, I hadn’t paid close enough attention — hadn’t really needed to pay attention since I was obviously in a downward spiral. I had so much thyroid hormones pumping through me, I could have easily had congestive heart failure. My ticker could have literally jackhammered itself to death. I’m actually surprised I didn’t have a dozen goiters on my neck. My doctor told me that she couldn’t believe my refusal of medication at that stage (she had actually pushed for surgery to remove my thyroid at the time), and that she is still consistently amazed by how much I’ve improved via simple lifestyle changes. I think she may view me as an experiment of her own too, but in a good way. I’m grateful that she stood by me as I learned (and am still learning) how to trust my instincts and listen to my body.

What we know is this: I’m highly susceptible to stress, and I risk shutting down my immune system if I try to revert to my workaholic ways. This is terrible news for me, because it drives me crazy when I can’t get a lot done and a lizard brain part of me believes that I thrive on stress. My version of relaxation makes the President of the United States look like a sloth. But this has also been an epic blessing. I had been steadily killing myself for years with my need to push myself, and now I’m forced to stop. To breathe. To take stock of what’s really important. It is hard for a chronic people-pleaser and productive-aholic like me. In this culture that celebrates doing astronomically more with less, in which the national anthem is “I’m too busy” — in this culture that I used to represent wholeheartedly wearing my workaholicism like a badge of honor, I’m compelled against my will to say “I can’t.” Or more accurately: “I won’t”.

The good news is that I have a fabulous liver of a 25-year-old, according to my doctor. Which doesn’t help with my thyroid, but still. So I will continue my experiment. I think incorporating meditation in earnest might be next…I will record my results here come January 2015, and maybe by the time that building is completed, I’ll finally be able to say I’m in full remission.

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It was so heartwarming to read all of the comments for my giveaway — the winner is Danijela, congrats!

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K on improving skills:

Mama, I’m not comfortable singing in front of people and I love singing. I think I need voice lessons to get better…it’s time for me to man-up!

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Have a lovely weekend, all!

At the end of it
Your health is what’s most vital
Sleep, eat well and move

 

 

Fall Cleaning Giveaway Part 2

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I haven’t even closed the other giveaway yet, and here I am, back with another one. Just as I had to relinquish all thoughts of engaging in extracurricular embroidery, I’ve had to break down and allow myself to admit that crochet (and knitting in general) is just not my thang. I bought this book back in 2007 when it first came out. In case you were wondering, “kyuuto” is the way “cute” is pronounced in Japanese. And you know that Japanese crafts are all about the cute. I mean, look at this:

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Those little booties had me shelling out cash as if my life depended upon it. And then the book sat. And sat and sat and sat and sat and….seven years later, I have yet to crochet a darn loop.

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I had visions of pumping out these charming baskets to hold all of our little tchotchkes.

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I was amused by this little project because c’mon, we all need a crocheted mobile phone holder, right?

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And these little sachet bags are just the ultimate in granny chic. The book is full of wonderful projects. But I have no plans on becoming well-versed in the art of crochet.

 

Oh, this is random, but when I thumbed through the book, this fell out:

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Baby K. So so so cute. She looks so vastly different now. That’s another dress that my mom made. That girl has never known what it’s like to have less than several hundred sartorial options to choose from.

Anyway. Anyone up for a free kyuuto crochet book?

To enter the giveaway, I was stumped for a question when K asked me, “Mama, if you could have any superpower, what would it be and what would your superhero name be?” Well, that seems like a good one, don’t you think? I told her that I would be Speedra and would be able to get things done at mach speed (or maybe my name should be Machrina?). She was disappointed that I didn’t want the power of flight, but hey, I’ve got things to get done and flying will do me no good.

What would your super power and hero name be? Would you want invisibility? The ability to time travel? The power to control the weather? So many options! I will leave this giveaway open until next Thursday, September 25th and will announce the winner the next day. All entries welcome, international participants included. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not My Monday Outfit Post

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Good morning! Today, I am completely and utterly cheating. I earmarked a pattern from the book I’ve been studiously sewing from, blocked out some time, and then things just went haywire. I could lay on the thick excuses, but I will spare you.

So what is this? This, my friends, is K’s all-time, deeper-than-ice-cream-love, favorite dress. Yes, my mom made it. But can you guess when she made it?

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When K was five. It’s true, she’s been wearing this dress for three years. It’s gone through some battles, this dress. The skirt, as you can imagine, used to graze the floor and has torn multiple times, the stitching is barely hanging on around the neckline, the LP print flannel (flannel!!) has definitely seen better days. But there’s no sign of the love waning, and K will pull out this dress at least once a week.

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On the one hand, it fills me with great joy that she’s so beholden to the quintessentially Ba-chan garment. On the other hand, I am starting to get angsty about all the clothes I’ve made for her that languish unworn in her closet and dresser.

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I have some thoughts. And will share soon. For today, this is all I got. P.S. M contributed to the art direction by instructing her to sniff her armpits. Elevating the level of classiness, that’s what we do around here.

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! It’s been a productive week – I’ve been sewing furiously behind the scenes and getting a lot done. This was the kind of week that made me extra appreciative of the friends I’ve made in the last few months through sewing. For example, I got a photography lesson from the lovely Michelle, who shot the cover of my book. She’s a consummate pro and probably one of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever met. We had so much fun, and she even let me use her fancy 100mm macro lens. I got a close up of oregano flowers (which she also brought for me from her garden along with some heavenly scented verbena – she’s just fabulous), and I can definitely tell that the quality is several notches above the unimpressive line-up in my photo toolkit. I’ll have to start saving up to get this lovely lens. Michelle is a very patient teacher, and we went over how to look for optimal light, setting white points and how to use this big ole reflector I got for photo shoot purposes:

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I’m feeling pretty legit and my living room looks almost like an authentic photo studio now. It’s time to start improving my photography for real since I’m supposed to shoot all the interior photos for the book.

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I finally visited the new Drygoods store in Pioneer Square after a delicious and laugh-filled lunch with a compatriot in the land of sewing obsessed and wow. I mean, just wow. It’s a stunning historic space situated on a pedestrian-only, cobbled street. The ceiling soars up to eternity and gigantic windows let in copious amounts of light. Everything about the place feels airy and bright and with Keli’s flair for interior design (and the drool-worthy fabrics, naturally), you can’t help but be lured into the shop. Of course, it helps that they have a mega-clever window display:

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They’re like little state-shaped pillows. I think it’s genius. You can vaguely see the two talented ladies that help run Keli’s shop, Margaret and Julienne, and it’s so funny because they all know my taste so well. “This made me think you,” they’ll say, and invariably, it’s something I love in the grey/black/indigo/ivory color scheme. I was overwhelmed by how pretty everything looked and forgot to take more photos, but I’ll see if I can get better ones later. Oh, while I was snapping this one above, a gentleman paused next to me and said, “What a nifty looking store, eh? Makes you want to get crafty.” Exactly.

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A conversation from this week:

K: Mama, I want a training bra.

Me: What? Why do you even know about that?? No, you don’t need one.

K: That’s the point, Mama — hello, training bra?*

*She won’t be getting one any time soon, but it did make me start thinking about making one…hmmmm…I bet I could make super cute ones and they would be so easy…

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I’m off to go practice some photography! Have a wonderful weekend, all!

Getting back my groove
I will be sewing like mad
this week and beyond

 

 

 

 

Fall Cleaning Giveaway Part 1 [CLOSED]

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I’m much more of a Fall Cleaning gal than a Spring one. These past few weeks I’ve been purging, organizing, donating and generally sprucing up the house in small measures. It’s my version of starting the new school year.

What’s become abundantly clear is that I have far too much stuff in the crafting department. As much as I want to dabble in every hobby out there, my time on earth is limited and I’ve got to cherry pick my crafts. I love embroidery. I even have a Pinterest board with my faves. And when I’m ancient, I hope to have a wooden hoop practically welded to my left arthritic hand as I stitch beautiful textile art. Totally useless trivia: I’m a lefty when it comes to writing with a pen or drawing/painting, but I hand sew and play all sports with my right hand. Quasi-ambi, that’s what I am.

Anyway. Because I’m keen on all types of embroidery, I’ve accumulated a lot of books for inspiration but have I cracked any of them open? No. Well, yes, I cracked this one open to take a photo (and grabbed an apple to hold the page down and was pleased that it looked intentional), but my vast collection of embroidery books have been egregiously neglected on my bookshelf.

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So, perhaps one of you would like this lovely book, aptly titled Little Stitches: 100+ Sweet Embroidery Designs and 12 Projects? It really is so very sweet, with charming templates and some iron-on-transfers included. Since I’ve barely looked at this one, it’s in pristine condition.

I have quite a few additional things I’m hoping to give away in the coming weeks. For now, to enter this particular giveaway, I have a sort of morbid question: “If you knew you only had one day to live, what would you do?” It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot these days. One of the reasons I’ve been cleaning like a maniac was because I wanted to make a good impression on some new friends that were coming over for the first time, and this question popped unbidden into my head.

I immediately stopped scrubbing the floor in K’s closet. Sure, there are things that should be done (like laundry and the general upkeep of hygiene), and it’s always a good idea to not scare house guests with T-Rex sized dustballs, but in the grand scheme of things, an antiseptically clean house is low on the priority list. I like asking myself the question because it’s a pretty good way to get those priorities back on track.

Maybe for some folks, the question would evoke an epic bender filled with mind-altering substances or I don’t know, something wild and inappropriate that I can’t even come up with because I’ve never really wanted to be wild or inappropriate. Or perhaps the question would inspire wanderlust — a trip to Provence or the moon?

For me, my last day would start with a perfectly made cup of soy latte with the butteriest croissant, while I fill my journal with free floating thoughts. I would go swimming with M and K in our favorite local pool, and we would snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie together afterwards with popcorn and the works. I would invite my family and closest friends over for a simple dinner, then in the evening after the guests are gone, and the sink is piled high with dirty dishes, I would kiss my loves, read K a long story, and then I’ll curl up with my own book until the wee hours of the night. Maybe a Scandinavian noir mystery. Or a rip-roaring YA novel. My reading binge will be interrupted by chats with M, punctuated, as they always are, with guffaws. Or a variation of that. Nothing fancy.

How about you?

I’ll keep the giveaway open until next Thursday, September 18th, and will announce the winner the next day. International entries are more than okay! Good luck!

Monday Outfit: A Groovy Kind of Dress

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Good morning! This here is K’s first day of school dress. Doesn’t it look like something the always hip Trine of Groovy Baby and Mama would make? I think K might be Trine’s misplaced daughter because this is her style all the way.

K chose the knit fabric that’s a cat-fest of a print  - you can see the familiar markings of leopard, cheetah, tiger, jaguar…you name it. The dress pattern is from the book I’m diligently working through, and though it defies logic for a knit dress, it includes facings and a keyhole opening in the back:

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It’s a nifty if somewhat superfluous design element, and though I’m glad I went ahead and kept it for this dress, I will omit it in future versions. The instructions indicated that the facings should be folded over and sewed down to hide the raw edge, but I just left it serged, as you can see somewhat blurrily above. With my continued inability to follow instructions exactly, I misunderstood the understitching for topstitching and ended up doing both.

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M has a flair for descriptives, and when he saw the dress, he said, “She looks like one of those old ladies hanging out at the slot machines in Vegas”. Huh. Not the look were were going for, but I can see where he’s coming from. Personally, I think she looks extremely grown-up and chic in the dress.

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She LOVES it. Except…she wasn’t entirely comfortable in it, and it was because the elastic felt too high up and she kept tugging it down. So minutes before school started, I ripped out the elastic (ugh, and created a small hole that I had to patch), and added four rows of shirring instead:

groovy-dress7“It’s perfect!” she trilled, happy that she would be able to still wear her dress to school. As much as she preened in the dress, her favorite part of the outfit was the black cardi that I self-drafted in rapid-fire motion the night before:

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I didn’t even bother changing the white serger thread and only added one diamond-esque button (K is all about sparkly buttons these days). I feel like I’m training for Project Runway with all these speedy, under-the-gun projects.

I’ve been trying really hard to create clothes that I know K will absolutely love and want to wear, even when they’re not my natural preference. I obviously have standards (no honey, I’m not making you a bikini top to wear to school), but it’s been a rewarding collaboration for both of us. Her joyous reactions have been totally worth it, and I guess I’ll just have to focus on neutral, solid-colored and linen-based clothing for myself.

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Happy Friday + Randomness

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Upstaged by K’s first day of school, my wedding anniversary skulked quietly in the background this past Wednesday. M was way more on the ball than I was and presented me with a fragrant bouquet. Realizing my slacker ways, I struck a deal with some friends and scored a sleepover for K so that M and I could have a proper celebration involving a fancy dinner and entertaining movie at the cinema tonight.

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I often wonder if I would have made my own wedding dress if I’d gotten into sewing earlier. It was an arduous process, the finding of my dress. M and I were pretty much eloping (only parents and a couple of siblings were in attendance), so I didn’t want to invest heavily in a garment that I would (hopefully) only wear once. I was, as ever, extremely picky, and knew that the dress couldn’t be pure white. Nor did I want it sweeping the floor. No ruffles or petticoats or lace for me, thankyouverymuch. Simple. Classic. That’s what I wanted.

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After weeks of fruitless searching, I entered a boutique I’d never dared to browse before — too many temptations, too out of my price range. It’s the kind of place that has on display only one or two sizes of each item. And there it was: my dress. A creamy ivory silk number, the straps delicately filigreed with sapphire blue beads and minuscule pearls.

I eagerly slipped into the fitting room and shimmied myself into the whisper soft layers. Not bad, not bad, the waist hit at just the right spot. But oh, when I reached to zip up the side, the zipper teeth refused to meet. I tugged gently, afraid to tear the tissue thin lining. No. It was too small. I was heartbroken, but I convinced myself that it was a good thing since it was ridiculously expensive, though not in the astronomical range.

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A few more weeks passed, and I still couldn’t find a dress I liked, much less loved. I couldn’t get that silk dress out of my head. I was running out of time, and I was desperate enough to consider a slightly weird polyester sheath from Marshall’s since I figured I might as well seriously downgrade if I couldn’t get the dress I wanted.

I’m a masochist and decided to look at the silk dress one more time. Just a look. Nothing more. But it wasn’t there and doubly crushed, I was about to leave, but something made me stop. “Do you still have the ivory silk dress with the beaded straps?” I asked the kindly looking staff. “Oh! We just put that on sale — here, let me get it for you.” My dress, with a beautiful red slash on the price tag — half off! I had been dieting as brides-to-be tend to do, and maybe, just maybe…the zipper slid right up. I mean really, it seemed too good to be true. Not one to kick a gift horse in the mouth, I snapped it up, and nine years later, I’m still certain that it was the perfect dress.

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It’s a Wyeth by Todd Magill (from the Spring 05 collection), who is now a menswear designer. Too bad, his dresses were ethereal and so lovely. This is probably the only designer frock that I’ll ever own, and it was worth every penny (35,000 of them to be exact). Maybe next year, I’ll show you what it looked like on, and I might tell you the whole wedding story. It’s pretty hilarious. Spoiler: M wore jeans.

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Me: What kind of person do you want to marry, sweetie?

K: What? Why?

Me: Just wondering…I mean, you don’t HAVE to get married or anything (getting flustered that I’m imposing societal pressures on my 8-year-old)

K: [rolling her eyes] Someone like you and Daddy. Now can I please go back to reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid?

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Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Nine years of marriage
It feels like just yesterday
when I said, “I do”

Third Grade!

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Today is the day. “I’m so nervous and excited, Mommy,” K has been telling me every few hours for the last week. Third grade! Somehow, this seems major in a way even kindergarten wasn’t. Time is stampeding away, and I am helpless and doddering in its wake. But the start of school brings with it the sensation of a fresh sojourn, renewed energy and extra time. I for one, could use all three.

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I made a dress. And last night I furiously worked on a cardigan she requested, because the weather’s been capricious lately. She’s equipped with a backpack from the GAP, a bento-style lunch box, aqua sneakers. We have a tradition to measure her height on the first day of school, and I can’t wait to see how much she’s grown.

I get so emotional on the first day of school…maybe even more than K.

P.S. I’ll show you the dress next week! K picked out the fabric and everything.

Monday Outfit: Galaxy Maxi

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Good morning! My schedule got a little hijacked this weekend, when we ended up having an unplanned weekend getaway. One minute we’re headed out for a day trip to Bainbridge Island to visit K’s favorite aquatic center and the next thing I know, we’re buying toothpaste and toothbrushes at a Rite Aid so we can spend the night at a nearby inn. “It’s an adventure!!” my husband, the king of unplanned getaways, yee-hawed.

It was non-stop excitement and included a fire alarm going off just as K and I got into our swimsuits at the aquatic center (M hadn’t quite gotten undressed). We were ushered outdoors amid drippy wet confusion; the pool was packed and it was a sight to behold the shivering, virtually naked throng of people huddled right outside the entrance waiting for the fire department. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many goosebumps at once. Eventually, we were allowed into the pool though we never found out why the alarm went off since there was no sign of fire — I’m guessing bored teenager. Regardless, K gleefully swung from the rope swing and jumped off of the diving board repeatedly.

It was still too early for dinner when we were done swimming and on a whim, we started jokingly looking for lodging. Everything in the area was booked for Labor Day weekend, so I was ready to call off the search but then a highly sketchy motel suddenly appeared with a “vacancy” sign, which both M and K declared excellent. The motel room actually looked like a scene from The Shining, but I was willing to go with the flow. More than anything, I was peeved that I had to break my ready-to-wear fast because I had to draw the line at sleeping in my dirty clothes or in my underwear or still damp bathing suit. Armed with a $3.99 dung-colored t-shirt and $9.99 tropical-themed “capri” knit pants from Rite Aid (K also got a t-shirt, but in navy), we settled in for the night. In the midst of my slumber, right outside of our door, I vaguely heard conversations involving the words “big problem” and “police”.

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Fortunately, as a native Los Angeleno (though Seattle’s softened me up quite a bit), I was unfazed and quickly drifted back to sleep. We all snoozed like babies despite the ongoing drama outside and nothing untoward happened to us. It turned out to be a really, really fun weekend. But I didn’t sew the dress I had cut out for K so I’m sharing a different dress today.

I’ve named this the “Galaxy Maxi” and it was a hasty cobbling of knit fabric for K’s birthday, which was a month ago. Impossible. I will never understand how time disappears. If you recall, this was her requested design for her birthday dress:

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Mmmmm, didn’t really nail it:

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That’s okay though, since K thinks it’s pretty awesome. The knit has spandex and lycra and is certainly meant for the Ice Capades, so of course, she loves it. It’s sci-fi meets loungewear.

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I self-drafted an easy drop-waist, tank maxi dress, and I can officially say that knits no longer scare me.  I snapped these photos seconds before we were heading out the door to pick up her best friend so they could have a special birthday outing together. Which meant K was pretty impatient to get going, and the most she would do was spin around once for me:

galaxy-maxi5I tried to reshoot the dress, but naturally, it’s lost in the laundry black hole. Ah well, I’m happy that I got the dress done in time and though I didn’t meet the design specifications, it just goes to show you that if you use cool fabric (from here, by the way, and it was very affordable too!), it’s all good.

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! Lately, I’ve been making a concerted effort to make sure I do all of the things that I know put me in a good mood. Aimless painting is one of those things. I grab a piece of paper, and just paint whatever I see or am thinking about.

kaizen3I appear to think about clothes a lot. And flowers.

I have to confess that I’m not loving the Mon-Wed-Fri blog schedule. It’s throwing me off and I don’t know why. I used to get a tingly, energized feeling every day as I pondered, “what will I write/draw/sew/photograph for tomorrow?” The daily schedule (with a little breathing room on the weekends) kept me on my toes, forcing me to think of variety. I thought that by reducing the days, I would focus on quality versus quantity and free up much needed time, but I feel like I’m becoming too predictable and rote. I’m having difficulty describing it — I love routine, and clearly don’t mind doing the same thing over and over, but I don’t like things to feel stale and stuck. Sometimes when I’m writing my posts, I pause and wonder, “Wait, have I written this before?” Is this what a rut is?

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Recently I found out about this Japanese word, kaizen. I must have been listening to a podcast, or maybe I read an article online. It translates to “good change” but is more about incremental improvements. Baby steps. Slow and steady progress. It’s a bit like beginner’s mind but with a sense of purpose to continually improve. I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard the word, and realized that I’ve been standing still mentally — worse, I’ve been a hamster running on an ever-dizzying circular treadmill, going nowhere. Not that it should always be about striving and goal-setting and achievements, but what I thrive on is learning new skills, being okay with mistakes and just plodding along reveling in the process, chortling to myself at my ridiculousness the whole time.

This second book I’m working on is hard for me. Not in the way it’s hard to go to yoga or eat a salad instead of pizza — something you know that if you do it, you’ll be better off. Hard in a Oh-God-I’m-totally-sucking-at-this-and-feel-like-I’m-rehashing-blog-content-and-they’re-going-to-ask-for-my-advance-back-except-I’ve-already-spent-it-on-my-supplies-and-summer-camps-and-maybe-I-should-use-a-pseudonym sort of way. Every time I hint that this whole book business isn’t all kumbaya, I feel horrible and that I ought to be extolling how lucky I am and how great it is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a dream actualized, but I’ve done and am doing a few things I don’t recommend for anyone else.

For one, I agreed to produce something in a timeframe that I knew was super tight, ignoring that I’m not twenty anymore when I could churn out 50-page papers without sleeping for days. Starting in the summer was also a terrible move – camps aren’t cheap. Then my perfectionist self started to weasel itself into everything I did, and the joy of creating steadily leaked out, leaving an engulfing sense of ennui. I began comparing myself to everyone who’s ever written a book, and let me tell you, that’s a buzz kill in every way. I was riddled with this need to prove myself and then my brain would shut down from feeling inadequate. Basically, I’m taking myself way too seriously. And that’s never a good idea.

Luckily, my editor seems to have telepathic powers and offered me an extension on my first major deadline and a little extra time in general. I was so grateful as I was panicking that I was going to turn in something I wasn’t at all proud of, and that would have sent me over the edge. I glommed onto this gift of time and decided I needed a major shift. I had to get back into my kaizen mode again, which is what made blogging and sewing and everything else so fun and gratifying. The thing is, when I’m disgruntled while making something, I can pretty much guarantee that it’ll be fit for no one.

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So I’ve been enjoying the last days of summer with my family and friends, hanging out in coffee shops writing, painting/drawing, reading, exercising, sewing and organizing. This little reference sheet is something I’ve been yearning to do for months. I cut out the little labels that the watercolor pans come wrapped in, stuck them on cold press paper and added little painted splotches so I can match up the colors with their names. It pleases me that it’s a little wonky and uneven, but it’s functional and (I think) beautiful. The set itself is gorgeous. The watercolor half pans come in a wooden case with a ceramic mixing dish. I feel extra fancy when painting with this set filled with a whopping 70 colors.

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After neglecting my tolerations list for several months, I finally tackled quite a few items this week: fully rearranged and streamlined the master bedroom closet; K and I finished painting the living room trim that I left half-undone 12 months (!!) ago. Ticking these items off of my list makes me breathe easier, inches life forward in small measured improvements.

I’m working on the book too, and not just cavorting in the sunlight or busying myself with freewheeling and unessential projects, but I can tell that pairing the book-making with tried-n-true activities that add a dose of kaizen is helping me slowly but surely regain the enthusiasm that was waning. I heard this quote by Brené  Brown the other day: “Don’t puff up, don’t shrink, just be yourself”. It’s her mantra, and I just might have to steal it. I was trying to puff up in trying to act as though I know what I’m doing with this behemoth book project (or at least it feels that way to me), then I shrunk into a puddle of excessive self-doubt, but all I can do is be myself and hold onto what I know to be worthwhile.

Why is that so hard to remember?

In lieu of a haiku, here’s a poem K wrote for me this week. It just about sums everything up:

kaizen6

Our minds are as wide as the universe

Our thoughts will come and go. The sun may rise
The wind may whisper but love is deeper than the ocean below.
The song of heaven the angels sing.  good Things
The future will bring. I feel Love. My heart is touched
I have a person Loved.*

*I took the liberty of editing it just a touch.

P.S. I’ll continue with the M-W-F schedule just a little longer, but you just might see me back here daily again soon…

 

 

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