Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance.
This second, we can sit down and do our work.
– Steven Pressfield, War of Art
For various reasons, outside of a little weeding here or there, A and I haven’t done much with the garden for the past couple of weeks. We went out there today to weed in earnest (it never ends) and were confronted by a verdant explosion.
Cue a busy morning of making pesto, making sikil pak, drying herbs, and making kale chips. I infused the lemon verbena into some simple syrup for cocktails later.
This wasn’t even a full harvest. This was just trimming stuff back. An abundance of kale is not pictured, though you can see it peeking into frame in the upper right.
Little pawpaws were coming in too, which is very exciting.
I’m slightly worried that they’re going to ripen right when we’re going on (or during) our Europe trip. Pawpaws have a distinctly short shelf life and go quickly from perfectly ripe to way too overripe. So timing the picking and processing of fruit is very important. I’ll have to come up with some contingency plans (I can think of at least one person who would be ecstatic to help me out…).
I’m super excited for the cucumbers and beans to come in. Thus far, the garden experiment this year has been working quite well.
In a couple of months, A and I are taking a trip to Europe. We’re meeting up with my family in Bordeaux, which has been a little over a year in the making. It’ll be A’s first time to Europe, so we’re extending the trip a bit so we can hop around a bit on our own. I’m thinking Amsterdam, maybe Belgium. I’m super excited!
Even though we’re a little ways out, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to pack. I’m more of a fall and winter person (Long coats! Fuzzy sweaters! Cute boots!), so I’ve never been good at summer clothes. How do you wear skirts? How do shorts work? I have no idea. My wardrobe in general is kind of a mishmash of different styles, none of which I necessarily feel like are my style (whatever that means). Add to that the fact that I’m trying not to buy any new clothes this year (unless I can’t make it or it’s thrifted), that means a lot more sewing is in order!
For this trip, I’m thinking lots of basic pieces that are easy to mix and match and clean. I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to putting together outfits (partially because how do?), and I prioritize comfort and secret pajamas.
There is a surprising lack of pants in my inspo board. Also, that was the first time I made one of those, and I refuse to admit how long it took.
I’ve put together an absurdly long project list with full knowledge of the fact that I’m not likely to finish every project.
- T-shirts (white and black). Going for a slightly slouchy silhouette. – Plantain probably (free Deer and Doe pattern!)
- T-shirt dress – self-draft. Which should be interesting. I got an interesting tie-dye jersey that I’ve earmarked for this.
- Reference: Merrick’s Art
- Easy to wear pants. In a fun pattern or in black. Maybe a linen blend or a crepe. – Alexandria Peg Trousers by Named
- Maxi dress. I’m not a hundred percent sold on this yet because I’m wondering if it would take up too much space in luggage. – Highlands wrap dress
- Shirt dress. I’ve been coveting this basically ever since I discovered Heather Lou’s blog. – Kalle
- Shorter/fancier dress. Not totally sure this will be necessary, so it’s definitely lower on the priority list. – Amalfi
- Skirts. I’m having a moment with them. I want to learn how to wear them.
So… yeah. A little ambitious, sure. But it’s good to have goals.
About a year ago, I started dabbling in sewing. I’m already a knitter, but I have a chronic case of unfinished knitting projects. Likely because I get antsy when progress seems so slow, and I have trouble sitting there knitting for long stretches of time. I enjoy it, but sometimes I just need more immediate satisfaction.
Sewing is perfect for that: it’s just fiddly enough for me to focus, and the projects I’ve done so far have come together pretty quickly. I still have a lot to learn with regards to pattern alterations and sizing (I made a Tamarack jacket a little over a month ago based on what I thought were accurate measurements, and then they weren’t. But the jacket fit my friend perfectly, so now she has it in DC.) — I assume that comes with more practice.
I haven’t been sewing as much as I’ve wanted to because in order to actually do it, I take over basically the entirety of my kitchen island and dining room table. And then it’s cumbersome to move stuff around (we have a lot of stairs in our house), so there all of that stuff sits until I’m done with a project and I lug everything back upstairs to sit in a corner in my office.
I’ve mentioned before that A and I have been slowly putting the house together. The third floor is still empty — right now, we use it as a makeshift guest room. But what if we could also add some work surfaces and I could have a crafty area?
A and I have very different backgrounds when it comes to nature and green growing things. He grew up surrounded by prairie and fruit trees and ponds (of both the fishing and swimming variety), whereas I have always lived in big cities. I have a highly romanticized view of what it means to garden. (In my view, bugs don’t try to bite me all the time.) When it came time to look for a house, we both wanted to have some outdoor space — he to remind himself of the green he had in childhood, and I to fulfill my lifelong dream of having a secret garden.
When A and I moved to St. Louis, we found an awesome Victorian house that had an actual yard, a rarity for most of these older homes. The house sits on a double lot, and all that extra space is gorgeous greenery, something we had been sorely missing when we lived in the metal-and-concrete-locked Dallas.
Last year, we didn’t think about the garden until summer was already underway. That was a time of life changes and redirecting, and the garden was getting along decently with minimal intervention from us. We had managed to get an herb garden in the ground, though I made the mistake of choosing plants that were novel rather than ones I would actually use. We had a poorly placed lemongrass that tried to cut you when you attempted to get to the other herbs. We had pineapple mint but no minty mint. We had dill, even though I literally never use dill. Yet, even with that small amount of planting and those mistakes (likely because of the mistakes), we learned a lot.
One of my goals this year is to disengage from my phone more. Late last year, my phone completely broke down and black-screened, falling into an inescapable boot-reboot cycle. Customer service quickly threw (okay, diligently packaged and carefully sent) a phone in the mail for me (incidentally, Project Fi is awesome – that’s my referral link if you’re interested), but there was still a weekend’s worth of lag time. I didn’t realize how tethered my habits had become to my phone until I didn’t have it anymore. I couldn’t roll over in the morning and silence my alarm and then immediately check email or my RSS feed. I couldn’t watch Netflix while I was cooking or listen to podcasts while I was getting ready. I couldn’t text people throughout the day. It was jarring to realize how often I reached for a phone that wasn’t there. And then it quickly became liberating because I was actually able to focus on what I was doing without buzzy notifications diverting my attention. It was a pretty great weekend actually.
Now, to be clear, I’m not planning to divorce my phone. But I’ve realized that I’m in a pretty unhealthy co-dependent relationship with it. I feed it electricity (and personal information, let’s be honest), and it gives me the internet and dopamine drips. Overall, I think carrying a computer around that has all the information is amazing. BUT. The pattern of my phone use needed changing. So I uninstalled Facebook and Twitter, I turned off most of my notifications, and I set up specific silence times where my phone doesn’t transmit ANY notifications so that I can have regular uninterrupted stretches of time.
Even then, I was still surfing reddit before bed. I was still watching YouTube videos to fill the silence. I was still reading Twitter (via browser now, of course) for the outrage and righteous indignation as much as for any useful info. It was a visit to my childhood home that prompted me to go even further. During that visit, instead of having face to face conversations and reconnecting as, you know, people, my family mostly sat around on devices (sometimes two devices at once) and ignored each other. It was baffling. Then it quickly became frustrating and infuriating. Sure, sometimes they were reading news or responding to urgent emails. But most of the time, it seemed like they were surfing Facebook or scrolling through various text convos instead of having actual conversations with the people sitting in front of them. (This is apparently called “phubbing,” which is a word I hate almost as much as the act itself.)
Stuck on the couch today, but at least I have this one to keep me company.
I’ve started viewing resolutions differently than I did before. I used to conflate resolutions with goals and treat them the same, but I think that having a distinction between the two is helpful.
A resolution is a decision, a firmness of resolve. A goal is something discrete that you aim at and that you can break down into smaller chunks of progress.
This year, my resolutions are things that I think will move me more towards the person that I want to be. In no particular order, here are my resolutions for 2018. (The header on the dedicated post page is a snapshot of my journal/planner spread for this – yep, I got sucked into the world of bullet journals.)
- Resist entropy.
- Always know why I am doing something.
- Focus on process and refinement.
- Keep distractions at a minimum.
- Be healthy.
- “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan
- Focus on movement and feeling rather than numbers.
- Eat with joy and savor each bite. Don’t eat to feed emotions or in avoidance.
- Embrace kindness.
- Learn how to treat yourself well.
- Approach things with openness and good faith.
- Be honest, with yourself and with others, about what you need. Trust others to respond in kind.
- Create anyway.
- There is no mood or muse, only the war of art. Some days will be hard.
- It’s okay to be envious. It’s not okay to be jealous.
- Let go of extrinsic reward. Focus on improvement.
- Have courage.
- Find community.
- Don’t let fear or complacency keep you from what you want.
- Stare into the deep. Name it. Then let it go.
- Live joyfully.
- Cultivate mindfulness.
- Stop. Appreciate. Feel gratitude.
- Own what you love without shame.
Within each resolution, I have goals that will move me closer to the state of being I want to achieve. And then I can break each of those goals into smaller steps that I can work on.
For me, I think the “resist entropy” command is going to be one of the more important things. Particularly the minimizing distractions part. In the last couple of months, some of my routines got a little sloppy and I wasted way too much time lurking on Twitter, watching YouTube videos, or just generally mindlessly looking at internet. A lot of it is about identifying a bad habit and then figuring out how to change your environment or mindset so that you can break that habit (a good framework for this is in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg).
So I’m building some disconnected time into my morning routine – no internet stuff before 2pm or so.
I’m working on being more mindful of that prickling “fear of missing out” that makes me check my phone for texts or new posts or whatever – I’m going to let myself sit with that, name it, and then let it go. I’m turning off the notifications on my phone. Rarely is something so urgent that I have to check on it immediately; most things can sit for a while until I’m ready to attend to them. I’m largely sure I’ll be okay if my phone isn’t within arm’s length all the time.
Finally, I tend to keep books around me pretty much all the time. So if I find myself mindlessly interneting and wasting time, I’ll pick up a book instead (more on my absurd TBR later).
I feel ready to move things forward, and I feel more prepared than I have before. Here’s to 2018!
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
– T. S. Eliot