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Feb 27, 2015
Although my gun-ho house improvement days were replaced by kid raising days, my housekeeping efforts are a source of self-esteem for me. I am definitely House Proud. The term ‘House Proud’ was first used in 1849. Definitions include, “proud of your house because you spend time and effort cleaning or improving it”and “always keeping your house clean and tidy” or “Proud of one’s house, it’s furnishings, or its upkeep”.
Yet despite its necessity, and unless it’s undertaken by Martha Stewart and/or makes you money, the tradition of keeping a house has often been disrespected as something unworthy. And those carrying out the task, aka homemakers like me, have been dishonored and devalued in their efforts. Maybe not to our faces but it’s one of those undercurrent kinda things.
Back in November, I read a brilliantly funny article by Renegade Mothering dot com’s Janelle Hanchett entitled Twelve Easy Steps to Doing Creative Work While Parenting about how to actually get writing done while you have kids. She said you need to just write. Damn the laundry, damn the dishes, and damn the healthy dinners that smack of the effort of being made from scratch. Prioritize your writing, or whatever creative endeavor you practice, and you’ll pull ahead. You’ll be successful at that task which prioritizing the housework displaces.
Let me mention, she teaches an online writing workshop called Write Anyway and charges $300 a head while I do not. It all makes complete sense. We only have so much time in the day. Maybe we need permission to be rebels. But as much as I’d love to say screw the housekeeping, my house-pride will not let me leave stuff on stairs or dishes in the sink for long. That makes me feel chaotic and I can’t concentrate on writing anyway in those circumstances.
As both a semi clean-freak and a creative, I know the importance of a devotion to both. Sometimes I feel the need for clean and sometimes for art. I used to believe I couldn’t have both. I was really just scared of beginning and thought at least housework could be accomplished. But no daily creativity meant all practical mule work all the time.
Now I live in the middle. I need both realms working in tangent to make my life happier. I honor my roll to keep my house and contain the chaos of my family’s world by putting food in their bellies and clean clothes on their backs and to pretend my floors are mostly clean. Because in that clarity, I believe my greater creativity and brilliance can happen.
My fellow blogger and friend Jane who pens That Curious Love of Green, talks about doing what you both need and love to do in her piece 6 Things That Will Stop You Living The Life You Want and What To Do About It . Austin Kleon talks about getting up early to create in Something Small Every Day. In both of these pieces, I feel the permissive soul of the human spirit saying fit it all together and make it work. Work around yourself, prioritize, schedule, and if you get to do it then, Great. If not, reschedule and try again.
I feel it may come down to the idea of permission. I used to use cleaning as a way to distract myself from my creative work because I didn’t really have permission to be creative anyway. Creativity was impractical. But now I know that however impractical creativity is, it is still necessary to the survival of spirit. And so prioritize and permit it I must.
So my trick to getting it all done? I keep writing out my goals. With even an idea for dinner, I’ve almost got a meal planned. And that brain time saved can now be used for something else. Laundry can happen every day unless it can’t. I mix my colors, yes I do. Do each thing when you think of it if possible. I’m getting that greasy shelf wiped off before I write it down thus leaving my list more open. Finally, Jane suggests doing something in the earlier part of the day that’s just for you because those chores can and will always be fit in somehow but your creative endeavors may not. Faith in your delegating abilities and devotion to your passions will balance you.
How do you balance practical and creative work? They are not mutually exclusive. For me, they coexist for a reason.
Feb 25, 2015
In the first week of January, following the lead of the incredibly hard-working and inspirational Kim Werker, I declared this my Year Of Making. And I have taken pictures and documented my every day process this year.
The idea was that I prioritize my creativity daily. I felt I’d not been doing this well in the past. And I quickly noticed that I do create daily even if it’s not what you think of as traditional creativity. Like mothering and feeding and writing.
Kim encouraged us to just go ahead and take any lousy picture we had the opportunity to take so we can document our progress. But if you know me, I’m incapable of taking a completely bad picture. Here’s the pictorial proof of my year of making thus far.
From the top left corner across, cards for faraway friends continue, Coffee date at Rise Up Coffee in Easton, Maryland and the pink curtain rods for Fiona’s room makeover ( reveal soon). Second row from left, My new goals board, sleeping Fiona, and another card for a faraway friend. And the bottom row from the left, one more paper feather card for a faraway friend, the remains of a waffle breakfast, and my Brazilian ham, sweet potato, and black bean soup. If you follow me on Instagram , a few of these pictures will be familiar to you.
There are many benefits to choosing to create a daily practice for yourself. The habit keeps you present and the cumulative effects plus actually seeing yourself show up are all so very worth it. I feel we’re so mindless so much of the time and like I mind so many other people so often. If I’m going to choose to mind, why not also have it be about myself. (Or I could concede to just losing my mind but that doesn’t sound like nearly enough fun.)
Expect more random Year of Making collages.
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And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.
Feb 23, 2015
Each of us is a storyteller. We tell our tales to our friends with big belly laughs over beers at our Summer Barbeques. We tell our children tales of our memories from our childhood about spinach and bullies. And we tell ourselves stories about our competency and our past woes and our futures possibilities.
Everyone is entitled to tell their story. Right, wrong, half told or badly told, it is still yours to tell however you want to. And in doing so you can keep what you love and edit the heck out of the rest. It’s yours to tell and yours to rewrite.
But yesterday, I realized there’s a third choice. You can embellish. You can create a magic that you didn’t have before with details that may be slightly true but add a lot of pizzazz.
Eamon had to fill out a questionnaire that asked what his favorite food/snack was. He said he didn’t really know. Then Mark said he was in a seminar yesterday where everyone was asked to give a highlight of their life. He said “being a Dad” but realized that was kinda boring but he had just blanked out. He said he could have mentioned touring the world with the Michael Jackson History tour.
I thought about how there’s a culture of personality online where you see people condensed to their absolutes. They have fabulous catch words such as Kelly Rae’s “possibilitarian”. They have edited pictures and manicured lives. Meanwhile and comparatively, we feel so dull, we don’t even know our favorite color or food or what’s interesting about us. That’s because we’re thinking truthfully.
Truthfully, life’s a little dull. It can be funny but it’s dull. The drama is up to us. So why don’t we just inject it ourselves. Why don’t we each spin ourselves a little and make it more fun. Playwrights take liberties and that’s what we really are. Authors of our life scripts.
Why can’t we take a few minutes and come up with a cheat sheet for ourselves on ourselves to amuse just ourselves. So when people ask what do you want to be when you grow up, you can give them something to think about. I want to create a new national holiday devoted to laughter. Like Trade Jokes Day. This week, my favorite food is egg rolls and Oreos. As always I still remain devoted to gravy, crunchy Cheetos, and really nice olive oil. Next week, schnitzel and nutty buddies.
I decided my favorite colors are Aubergine, Tangerine, and Emerald Green. These sound really cool together. And you can’t just pick one. Eamon said his was Maroon. I told him my theory and suggested Ox Blood instead. He said he’ll think about it. He’s the kid who had a favorite three digit number and is constantly asking you what your’ favorite Star Wars character/Yugio card/super hero is.
I’m so serious and so honest most of the time that I’m missing an opportunity to play. And to be ready when someone asks me those questions that make me feel like I suddenly have to know myself deeply, which I never feel like I do. Instead, I can give them a story and let them sort it out. Because instead of cringing, we should be having fun telling our stories.
Feb 20, 2015
It’s a slow insipid slide down the aging chute. And my body betrays me despite my best efforts to ignore it. I have just a few issues with getting just a bit older. I ‘d like to claim them and then just leave them where they lay here on this page and walk away.
Today, my joints ache. When I birthed Fiona, I suffered some pretty good post-partum joint ache which my friend Melissa the nurse informed me is a thing they acknowledge in Scandinavia but not in America. As my hormones fluctuate within the month now, I feel that same hook under the knee caps ache, tennis elbow and finger ache. When Fiona pulls on them to lead me somewhere, I holler.
My favorite one to anguish and fret over is my hair’s sudden decision to vacate my scalp. Say it is the post baby hormones. Say it’s stress or not enough vitamin E or age or my weight loss. Say what you want but it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach watching the globs of hair go down the drain. I used to have such thick amazing hair that it would clog the basin when they tried to wash it at the hairdresser’s. I’m freaked out and humbled about this one.
I do what any aging woman can do. I’ve grown my thinning hair long and covered my grays. I get my eyebrows plucked instead of overdoing it myself. I’ve whitened my teeth, I stay fit and am losing weight, and I plan to totally recommit to self tanning spray come Spring time. But the jowls still hang down on both sides of my mouth like I’m part baby basset hound. And I have begun the famous scarf collection for neck camouflage. Make-up makes it better but I really hate being made to stare at my hooded old lady eyelids in the attempt to make the best with what I’ve got.
It’s surely a grieving process I need to suffer through. The loss of youth is not amusing. I know you don’t think I look as old as my driver’s license says I am. You are always sweet to say so. I wished I could put your rose-colored sunglasses on to see me. But alas, I am just waiting to get over myself and am laughing often. Because the last defense against age is laughter. And they’ll be some pretty good laugh lines around my eyes when my time comes to bid the world a farewell.
Feb 18, 2015
Thought I’d catch you up my lovely reader on where I am and what I’ve been thinking about.
Year of Making
I’m committed to A Year of Making. I am keeping a list and pictures of my everyday making but my documenting system needs a little tweaking. When you do all the creating and the mothering all in the same day, you need really great systems. And I just don’t always feel like I have the clarity to create those. But I keep on keepin’ on.
I did however clean out my craft room. And updated my goals mapping wall piece.
And speaking of goals, I put out the newsletter I’d been dragging my feet about creating and ironically did so on the day when Fiona was sick. If you aren’t signed up to receive my newsletters, you can put your name into the sign up space on the side bar of the blog. I will be sending these out more often with original extra content. We’ll talk.
Sticking My Neck Out
The daring young girl continues sticking her neck out and in less than 2 months time I’m teaching a workshop on blogging. I fought against doing this. Told the man I wasn’t his gal. He insisted I was. So I bring what I know from my personal perspective and know that at least they’ll be entertained and feel supported in their efforts.
I learned blogging in dribs and drabs with a steep learning curve. As I was driving us back home from our Valentine’s date through snow blind conditions last night, I was explaining to my husband that I had needed to find out who I was while I learned how to blog. These happened simultaneously. I was committed to being a writer and my blogging led to reading and learning and reflecting and friending. And that has all lifted me up to such a different place in my inner world. My self-esteem has risen and my anxieties have diminished. Yes I feel scared but more sure that the tasks I posted up to that goals board are the right ones for my future. I am constructing a future of work that feels good to me and that I’ll be proud of.
Feeling vs. Thinking
I intend to do more writing with more feeling instead of thinking. I will continue to be the best cheerleader I can be for me and everyone and if that means I’m a leader, I’ll learn to like that term. And I am about to really look hard at my value. Read over my stuff and decide what value needs to be offered elsewhere. Stop looking outwards in hopes that someone will come tell me why I’m here. And look hard and long at the value I have already produced and created with 575 posts.
I’d like to feel like I’m wearing a hot pink fake fur coat with a butt warmer when I’m out doing my thing being the super cool productive how-do-you-do kinda me. I want to feel safe and cozy and happy doing my thing. These have been my thoughts of recent. Thanks for listening.
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