TULA PINK! Quilt Show – Something Interesting We Did

DH and I were talking about the pitiful state of our social life. We just have a hard time connecting with people. (TMI? Have you missed me?) With the 1/2 life that comes with shared child custody, it is difficult to make adult friendships work. Add to that – we both basically have a default setting of quiet and absorbed in our own worlds (quilting, books) and it takes a while for people to like us. And we are a skosh curmudgeonly and old. Ok, more than a skosh.

Recently while bemoaning our “fates”, I got sick of trying to think how to meet people who could be our “couple friends”. I decided that we need to make our lives interesting outside of trying to meet people. I HATE things I can’t control. And meeting people who can stand us enough to hang out with us regularly is definitely not something I have much control over.

Every weekend, kids or not, we are doing something interesting – so that our lives are interesting regardless of our social status.

Our first foray was a quick trip to see the Tula Pink and Luke Haynes quilt show at the Albrecht-Kemper museum in St. Joseph. This is an adorable little gem of a museum in n a cool old mansion.

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The quilts were more for me, of course. And they were amazing and beautiful. Tula Pink is sort of my favoritest person in the world I don’t actually know – so I was a goner. It was great to see all of the quilts I had fawned over online in real person.

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Luke Haynes does amazing work – true art pieces in fabric. I had been to a talk he gave a few months back, so knew a bit about his work. Again, so great to see some of these in real life.

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My favorite is the dual Elvis… I LOVE the flying geese backdrop.

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And I love this picture. The kids with LUKE – Some prehipsters these two are, for sure.

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The paitings at the Allbrecht-Kemper are housed in about three rooms – and there really are some cool American art pieces…

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Victory by Lisa Lala took my breath away. I love the color so much – this picture doesn’t do the color justice. I want to make a quilt in this palette.

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My favorite painter is Janet Fish – so I was thrilled to see this painting, entitled Cows. So weird that I was this close to another of her paintings and didn’t go to see it until now.

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A very cool painting was this Fruit Ninja-like piece. I cavalierly thought that the paintings would be documented on the website, so I didn’t take notes. So I don’t know the name or who it is by.

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Another painting that had a color palette that caused me to drool was Afterglow in Mexico by Wolf Kahn. Lavender, cornflower blue, russety orange. Another set of colors on the quilting to-do list.

Albrecht-Kemper was an interesting thing to do.  The Tula Pink and Luke Haynes exhibit is open until September 7, 2014.

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Running Without a Spreadsheet

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I am going to try to explain something here, and am going to do it clumsily.  Your best option is to read this essay by Joshua Fields Millburn – a complicated, smart, pretentious, moderately sexist advocate of minimalism whose book Everything That Remains got me thinking about my life and my choices.  Damn him.  Anyway, it is a better use of your time to read his essay, but I am going to proceed anyway…

I track things.  I have as long as I can remember – in notebooks, then in Excel, now on Google Drive.  I set fun and not fun goals for myself.  Stretching back as far as I remember.  The summer between my 7th and 8th grade year, I set a schedule for watching reruns on TV.  I like structure.  Maybe it isn’t that I like it.  I am addicted to structure.  Yes, that seems right – addicted.

I could tell you that setting goals works for me.  But that is total bullshit.  For most of my life I have wanted only one thing.  To be thin.  I have never achieved this.  I have achieved being slightly less fat on occasion.  For a few days I was even more than slightly less fat.  But almost exclusively I fail at the things I track in notebooks, or Excel, or Google Drive.  If I could get back the time I spent tracking goals I didn’t achieve…  But I can’t.  And now I want to be happy and healthy – screw thin.  So maybe now it is time to stop tracking shit I want to do, and let it go or just actually do the things.

Here is what I was tracking (until this morning)…

* Completing my skin care regimen every morning and evening, as well as flossing

* Giving myself a manicure every week

* Completing 3 sessions of the couch to 5 K program every week

* Completing 3 sessions of kettle bell workouts every week

* Eating six servings of fruits and vegetables every day, drinking six glasses of water every day

* Tracking what I ate – just to be clear – I tracked what I ate and then tracked that I tracked it.  Seriously.  Not kidding.

* Blogging seven times a week

* Finishing a quilting project every week

* Finish a book every week

* Walking my dog twice a week

Well, that’s a humiliating list.  And other than finishing a quilting project every week, I never hit any of them.  I would read a book and constantly check my page count to make sure I was making enough progress for the day.  I would skip a workout, telling myself that I could make it up before the week was up.  I would size up my bag of carrots in my lunch to determine if I could count it as 1 serving or 2.  I managed my spreadsheet – moving through scenarios to see how I could get an “A” for the week.  I always got a D – once a low C.

At best the goal spreadsheet was a failing extrinsic motivation.  But, really, to be completely brutally honest with myself, it was a total waste of time.  Months after reading Joshua Fields Millburn disparage goal setting, I finally am ready to admit that I need to give up the ghost.  So I am running without a spreadsheet.  Today I did 30 minutes on the treadmill, and I will get no “credit” for it.  There is no box to check.  Whoa.

I am not sure what cold turkey looks like.  Probably a lot more of listening to myself.  I put the things I do still want to do (exercise, blogging, giving myself a manicure) on my calendar.  It still is a bit Type A, but I am new at this.  Baby steps.  That will not be tracked anywhere.  Whoa.

Happy F’ing Birthday!

Happy F’Ing Birthday

I turned 40 about 6 weeks ago.  It was so different from my 30th birthday – they seemed like the birthdays of two different people.  Which I guess they sort of were in a way.

I had four parties when I turned 30 – a different party with a different theme for every decade I had lived in.  I can’t even comprehend that I did that now.  What an f’ing imposition on everybody.  I am hoping it was fun for at least some of the people, but who knows.  In that way that 30 year-olds do, I felt 30 was old – the end of my youth.  And I had figured I would never get married or have kids.  It would never be “in the cards” for me.  I wrongly thought that I would never again get to have a party for me.  Friends had weddings and baby showers.  And I had… well… none of that.  So I threw myself four parties.  Humiliating in retrospect.  Also because I still made everybody come to my wedding 3 years later.  And I had wedding showers.  Plural.  I wonder if I will ever pay off that karma.

This year was completely different.  As the date approached, I waivered between having a small dinner with close friends, or just doing something with Bill.  It was inertia, but I ended up just going to dinner with DH to celebrate my birthday.  And it was wonderful and quiet and ended up being exactly what I wanted.  And it was a little more than inertia.

A couple weeks before my 40th birthday, I was diagnosed with diabetes.  Eye-popping HbA1C levels.  And I was decimated.  Decimated and humiliated.  The stigma of being the actual embodiment of the obesity epidemic obliterated any positive conception I have worked very hard to get of my physical self.  Kaboom.  People who love me would try to explain that it was more than just that I was fat – but making “excuses” made me feel even worse about myself.  I had failed.  Period.  The jokes  and media reports and warnings about fat people – I am fat people.  I am the downfall of society.  Where’s my crown?

And my endocrinologist helpfully said “Diabetes is caused by eating portions that are too big.”  Fuck me.  Really?  I have cut my life to only 20 more years tops because of portion sizes.  Fuck.  And the only way to not have had a sentence of a brief life filled with going blind and losing my feet was to eat smaller portions?  I must be the dumbest fucking idiot in the history of dumb fucking idiots.  Again, where is my FUCKING CROWN??

That is where I was.  At the brink. And alone except for three little life rafts… which joined to become a rowboat, and I can see land now.

First, my excuses. 

I have a family history of diabetes. 

I felt hungry all the time.  I can see you rolling your eyes, but now that I am on the right kind of medication, I know the difference.  Being hungry all the time was real, not imagined – I could eat a giant meal and still want a giant meal.  Topped with whip cream.  Now I can tell the difference between eating because of hunger and eating because of emotion.  Before I gained some control through medication, it all felt like eating because of hunger.  I still eat because of emotion sometimes, but I know I am doing it.

I am a stressed person.  If my husband read this blog and read that sentence, his eyes would roll to the back of his head and the sheer magnitude of the understatement of that sentence. I get stressed easily and don’t always have the best skills to release that stress.  Stress is a contributing factor to diabetes.

These excuses, or rather contributing factors, to me having diabetes eased the bass drum of self-hatred in my head.  Sure, there is plenty of this that is still absolutely my fault.  But there were contributing factors.  I am not the worst person in society dragging us all down to economic ruin.  I am not.

Next, my husband.  DH is a superstar of husbands.  He stepped up and cooked yummy healthy meals and is always willing to go for a walk.  And he never waivered in his love and belief in me.  Sure, love comes from the inside, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have it from the outside also.

Next, my parents.  My mom told me that I wasn’t a total human failure because I had diabetes as many times as was possible.  And my dad had me start texting him my blood glucose readings – making it feel a bit more normal.

Support.  Love.  Regular exercise. Good health insurance.  All I needed to feel like a person who belongs to the world again.  Worthy of the world. 

So, happy birthday to me.  You are stuck with me, Society.  Say hello to the Queen of the Obesity Epidemic.  Long live the Queen!

A Curated Life – The Refrigerator

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Curation:  select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition)

I have just read (listened to) an awful book.  More on that in another post – I don’t want to confuse this post with my spitting hatred of that book.  Despite my dislike, one of the concepts that hit me BAM! on the head, is we are responsible for curating our lives.  And mine is poorly curated.

As I started to think more about curation – I thought more and more of my parents’ refrigerator.  It is a good representation of good curation.

I aspirationally grocery shop.  I do not have the skill to cook well – and I do not have the patience to cook enough to get better. But I keep thinking I will suddenly become a dedicated and skilled cook.  I plan meals and make lists.  And, well, I don’t follow through.  So my pantry (and sadly, my refrigerator) is full of things I will not use. That is embarrasing to admit.  There are salad dressings, spices, teas, oils, vinegars, meal packets, soups that I will never ever use.  This shameful list of aspirational foods is topped by a jar of vegetarian peking duck.  Not kidding.  So not kidding. 

This is the opposite of my parents’ refrigerator.  It could be used for refrigerator photo shoots.  My dad has very clear likes and dislikes, my mom cooks the meals that they both like, and buys only the ingredients that are needed for those meals.  Can you imagine?  And because she knows what they like, what they will eat, she can buy in bulk.  And still have vast space in her refrigerator.  It truly is beautiful.  It is curated.

So, when my parents want to eat some sharp cheddar cheese, my mom will go to the refrigerator and pull out some sharp cheddar cheese.  When I want some sharp cheddar cheese, I will go to the refrigerator and pull some sesame teriyaki marinade and get frustrated when I have to move several items to even get to the teriyaki?  Sigh.

Here’s the thing – when your life is full of crap you don’t want, then it is hard to find and appreciate the stuff you do want.  It is MY job to curate.  I need to let go of the fact that I will never be remembered by my stepkids as a great cook.  Their dad is a great cook.  And we just need the food in stock for the meals he makes.

Over the next several weeks I am going to work to curate my life – whittle it down to the hobbies, posessions, relationships that are worth my time and money (freedom).  I may even get to the refrigerator.  Stay tuned…  I hope reading this blog makes the cut of your curation choices.

Building a better day…

Today was a gift…

1. I have no trace of a sniffle, cough, or sinus headache left.

2. The horrible, cold, horrible, freezing weather broke.

3. My time and investment in baby feet finally started to pay off.  (eww… but awesome… but eww)

4. The guy *finally* showed up to start fixing our downstairs bathroom.  I see a light at the end of the tunnel of having all two of our bathrooms working.

It wasn’t perfect (discovered we need a new hot water heater, work is a bit frustrating, my hair was kind of flat), but it was a total jewel of a gift of an awesome day.  Mostly because of the weather probably, but it felt like a turning.

And I turned with it.  I filled my day with things that make me feel good about myself.

I woke up on time…

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Which meant I had time to do some yoga rather than rush to get ready to be at my cubicle on time…

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I ate yummy foods that made me feel good, and got to stop for green tea and crunchy oatmeal before my drive in…

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And, on a whim, because it was 45 degrees (not 9), and because I already felt pretty happy, I stopped at my favorite park on the way home and raced the setting sun for a mile…

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And I will get to finish my day with a hard cider, a chat with DH, maybe a wee bit of patchwork.  So many of my days feel like me failing at life.  Today was a better day… not perfect, but a gift.

Gettin’ $H)T Done Day! (1/12)

I took today off to get some shit done.  Specifically, cleaning out my closet.  Old houses have swings and roundabouts.  One of the greatest things about my old house is my GIANT attic-y closet just off the upstairs bath.  All mine and all giant.  Which means I crammed stuff in there.  Do you remember this?

I had a dresser that kept getting pushed farther and farther forward by the crap I didn’t want to deal with.  It was the one unfun thing I was going to do – clean out that closet – during my sabbatical.  But it didn’t happen.  Sewing and not doing that were too much fun.  So I womanned up, took a day off and conquered it.  So not fun.  And a bunch of bags to go to charity.  But done.  My closet isn’t decorated – I might put in a rug and some other decorate-y stuff at some point.  For now, I know my morning tomorrow is going to be so much better without a pile of mess peeking out.  Woot.

Here are the results (I still need to vacuum -ignore the carpet)…

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Pretty little boxes all lined up…

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Table of girly things I love and photographs…

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Pretty scarves…

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Pretty necklaces…IMG_1221

In a month there will be another day of getting shit done… probably attack the scary table linen boxes.  But this closet is by far the hardest thing I had to tackle.  And it’s done.  🙂 🙂

I gots cultured: UMKC Symphony performs The Planets by Holtz

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Friends, the kids, DH and I went to the UMKC Conservatory Wind Symphony performance on 10.28.  I thought the performance was amazing – the pairing of the music with the planet images.  I popped out of my seat as soon as the last note was played.  Afterwards as we drove around trying to find a place open late enough to get dinner (yes, we are *those* parents), DH described some of the things wrong with the performance.  And he played the music by somebodyawesomeeuropeanprofessionalsymphony.  And I saw his point.  The evening was fun, the college kids did a fine job, but the music played professionally was miles apart.  And then I saw Balanchine done poorly a week later and got frustrated and mad with the wild applause… and I really saw his point.  More on that later.

Here is DH and the kids – in their fancy clothes.  And I didn’t teach the kids how to not smile – Maybe once their braces come off.  I smile *with* my giant, gappy teeth.

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And the Kauffman Center couldn’t be more beautiful.  Even if visitors ask me if it was meant to look like the Sydney Opera House.  Sigh.

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It is not forever…

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I recently took my first Spin class.  It was wonderful and hard and exhilarating and my lady parts protested.  But I am glad I did it.  I have been exercising a lot lately – nearly everyday – from short walks with DH and sweet Annie to grueling 1.5+ hour ballet classes.  And I have found that it isn’t forever.  And everyday is easier – that the hardest part is showing up.*  And the second hardest part was surviving that first spin class.  The class was 45 minutes and I looked at the clock at least 90 times.  And in the middle, the instructor said “PUSH!  8 more seconds!!  This isn’t forever!”  And she was right.  And then she complimented me on making it through my first class without giving up, even though I only did about 1/3 of the stand-ups and increase tensions.  And I would have given her a million dollars if I had it.  Those who have figured it out give a true gift by encouraging (not patronizing) those of us who are just now figuring it out.  I am learning to love loving myself.

*These obvious insights about exercise realized by billions of people before me, brought to you by my big, beautiful self.  You are welcome.

Simplify

I am turning the corner to 40.  I truly can’t believe it.  At times the things that are behind me and are no longer possible is staggering.  I will never be young and thin.  Not ever.  I never will nuzzle a baby that is mine.   But I really can’t think of a third.  And that is OK.  There are lots of things still possible in life, and lots of joy I have had.  As I face the second 1/2 (like Maude it is over for me at 80), I am focusing on making myself 4 things:  Simple, Pretty, Healthy, Interesting.  Simplifying has been difficult.  I am trying to cut the noise so I can get down to the aesthete of life that is most important to me.  I want to leave this world being known for a few things, like all the great women I have known and know.  My mom forever will be for me soft, warm, unwaveringly kind, the best at setting tables – better than Martha, a wonderful writer, quietly funny, with sparkling amethysts and peridots.

Right now I think I will be remembered for my irreverence, skill at work, and… well, I am not sure.  The dream of simplification is that I can strip away the unliked, the unnecessary, and the untenable to bring into focus who I am.

I have taken the following steps to simplify:

1. Planning a weekly menu.

2. Stopping the yo-yo between vegan and omnivore.  I am a mostly vegetarian.  It is sad to let go of the Vegan part of who I am forever – but it falls under the untenable category.

3. No TV, no video games.

4. Limiting my wardrobe… 10 outfits rotated.

5. Wearing the same jewelry every day – my wedding ring, a silver locket.  This one is the hardest because I have had lots of pride in my ability to accessorize – but it is unnecessary.  I am not sure what to do yet with the scads of costume jewelry I have.  For now they sit in a drawer, not bothering me.

6. Limiting trying new products.  I have stuff I like.  I don’t have to try a new perfume or a new energy bar.  It is unnecessary, and sometimes unliked.

7. Wearing my hair curly.  I have used a hair dryer TWICE this year, maybe only once last year.  It is simpler.  J’hate blow drying my hair.

I have a long way to go.  My list of dumb addictions and related lingering accoutrement is long, and almost every closet in my house is a mess.  But by 50 I should have it figured out for sure.  But I am not going to push for 41 – because lots of unnecessary pressure is not part of a simpler life.

Holding On!

Both my husband and I lamented last year how the spring and summer seemed to pass without marking it much.  Things were crazy for me at work, DH was transitioning into a new role with the kids, and we seemed to just let the summer disappear.

This year we are trying to be conscientious about our time spent.  To do the things that come once a season, to not let the last summer the kids have before the new world of middle school disappear.  For me, it doesn’t come naturally to engage in things other than total shut-down recovery – especially when it is hot outside.

To help this along, for the next 28 days no TV or video games.  Something I seemed to have tried a least a bazillion times, usually unsuccessfully.  Today marks the fourth day.  It has been easier than I thought, but with some real touch-and-go moments.  Today at worked SUCKED – and I made this proclamation originally after a great day at work – but my buzzing stress and emotional dry well made the whole thing seem whack-a-doo this evening when I got home.  But I ate dinner at the dining room table, read, practiced hindi, and now am writing.  And not once today did I turn on a television.  I am anxious to see how the next 28 days changes me.  Hoping against history that I will be able to hold on – to the summer, to my resolution to turn off and tune in.