Monday, April 07, 2014

Keeping Busy, With This and That

For someone who has taken a back seat to getting involved in too many things - and I've taken, like, the very back seat of the megabus here - I've managed to still get myself very busy lately. However, this time I'm doing things I love, not things that I'm obligated to do, and oh, man that kind of makes me sound like a spoiled, pampered upper class housewife, so let me start over...

Last year's theme was Simplicity. This year's themes are Satisfaction and Motivation. I started 'theming' my years last year with my annual 40 Questions. Simplicity was the year I really needed to streamline my life - in both material possessions and in activities. I had gotten myself involved in far too much, which meant I couldn't actually give any one thing enough care and attention to do it properly. It also meant I was away from home so much, I felt I couldn't keep housework under control or spend enough time with my kids and husband. It was the year we moved from Scotland to the US, so I really had no choice but to simplify my commitments and my belongings.

In doing all that, and then moving across the pond, I realized I had simplified so much that I owned practically nothing, which I perceived as a bad thing, and moving to a new place meant I had very few friends and no activities to get involved with. Thus Satisfaction (and subsequently Motivation) were introduced as my 2014 themes. Can I be satisfied with what I have? Can I be satisfied with this new laid-back - super laid-back - lifestyle, with not being involved in anything? The answer seemed to be that I needed to learn what I can or can't live without and to be satisfied with that. And as for not having friends or things to do, that was going to require a little motivation on my part to achieve.

And in all honesty, I've not done well on either of those challenges.

We have accumulated a lot of stuff that we don't need and don't satisfy me to have. I still haven't been very motivated to get outside my comfort zone and get involved with anything or anyone. It's still very depressing for me. I know I don't want to live here in Arkansas long term, and that's keeping me from making the effort to make close friends or get involved with anything. It's pretty much entirely my own fault that I have very little life outside my home right now.

Soooooo, having laid all that out there, what I meant to say was, for someone who is no longer childminding full time, teaching baby signing, running an online shop, volunteering on committees, rehearsing for musicals, leading worship at church, studying Gaelic, and juggling kids' ballet, football, drama and tennis schedules, I've been a pretty busy lady lately. Mostly from home. And what I'm finding is, it's kind of satisfying. For now at least.

I have my one business. Just one. It isn't extremely busy, it doesn't take very much planning, and the actual work involved is fun and energizing. Having my own Pampered Chef business has been perfect. It gets me out of the house to parties (I love that my job is all about partying), makes us a little extra money and gives me something to be excited about. It does require me to work at getting parties lined up, which is the hard part, but everything else about it is really easy and fun. My goal is six parties a month, though lately it's been only two to four, but those parties, plus holding booths at vendors' events, keeps me fairly busy.

I get to make and eat things like this for money!

I've joined a book club. Two, actually, though I've only been to one meeting of either... However, I have actually bought and am reading the book for Book Club #2 (which is named "Velociraptors in an Opium Den" which I guess I'll understand the context of some day) and have the next meeting on my calendar... I intend to go, having read the entire book, and I'll even bring some food. That's involvement, people! That's a pretty big step for me at this pathetic stage of my life. We are reading An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke; I'm halfway through. It's good to have a book in my hands again. We sold/gave away almost all of our books when we moved. Not having a bookshelf in my new house makes me feel uneducated, nonintellectual, and dare I say it, unsatisfied. I have a series of books on my 'to read' list and in my Amazon cart, for after pay day. Next two books on the purchase list: Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart D. Ehrman and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream and Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama. As a Christian, I was always reading theology. It appears that now as a post-Christian, I still like the same genre! Politics, however, are my new interest. Religion and politics. The two things you should never talk about in polite company.

It was this book that got me interested in Obama's autobiographies...

Sidebar: You may wonder why I want to purchase books instead of check them out of the library or read them on a Kindle. Three reasons:
1) I want to build back up a collection of books. I re-read books all the time and love having them at my fingertips. I have books I re-read practically once a year. I don't want to go back to the library to check out a book multiple times. I also love having my own home library which leads me to...
2) I already said I feel uneducated, nonintellectual and unsatisfied with no books in my house. I want my kids to grow up surrounded by books. I want them to have books they can pull off the shelf at any time if they look interesting to them. I grew up surrounded by books - theology, biographies, fiction, encyclopedias - and I want my kids to do the same. Scott is also a reader - he's into early sci-fi - and together, we had a pretty fantastic library until we - sob, hiccup - had to part with them all. Damn, I miss my books.

All my books fit in this one shelf. Waaaah!

Oh yeah, and 3) I hate e-readers. I like real live books with paper pages.

I'm writing a book. I'm not ready yet to talk about what I'm writing or let anyone read it, but it does fill my time, and it's something I've always wanted - nay, needed - to do. I've been writing since I was old enough to print. I've been writing stories as far back as I can remember. I wrote a book in fifth grade titled Boys R Poo and if only I could get my hands on that incredible piece of literature... I'm sure I'd cry with horror over how embarrassing it is. I graduated college with a degree in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing. I've written a book of poetry and self-published it as an eBook (which by all means, go buy. Right now.) But a book, writing an actual book, has always been on my bucket list. It's getting to the awful stage right now, the 'this is so not f***ing worth it, why am I wasting my time?, oh this is going to be terrible, I have to finish it though, I've come so far, but oh no one is ever going to want to read this drivel!' stage. Which, since I've never written a whole book before, may or may not be something like transition in childbirth. I don't know.

My e-book had to count as satisfying the 'before 30' part.

Now that I have my new sewing machine, the thing I missed most after my books, I've started making stuff again. It's hard to find the time sometimes, but when I do get a few scraps of free time, I've been on my machine. I made another Jaguarator and I've started making taggie blankets. I'm even considering making some taggies to sell. Ohhhh I can see myself slipping into that second home business trap again, but I can guarantee it won't become an online shop! I also want to make some new clothes. I've got a couple of peasant skirts I want to make myself in time for summer (if summer ever comes to this god-forsaken cold town - this cold weather is NOT what I signed up for when we moved back to the South) and some dresses for the girls. I love having a sewing machine again!

Because babies love chewing on the tags.

Not to be confused with the practice of wrapping dead bodies in cloths and embalming oils, though at times I feel like a dead person being kept preserved by another person's will, mummying keeps me fairly busy. Lolly starts kindergarten in only four and a half months, but until then, she and Jaguar keep me going full steam most days.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Having her home with me again after a year and a half of her being in nursery (pre-school) has been tough, but it's been amazing for our relationship. She's a tough cookie to get to close to. This year has been really special for us, as a mummy and daughter. The child I thought I'd never understand, the child who kept me at a slight emotional distance, even as a toddler, has welcomed me into her inner lair and shared her little soul with me this year. We have become best friends through this unexpected year off. She drives me insane, and some days I'm pretty sure drugs wouldn't be such a terrible thing to get into after all, but it's worth it. Like taking her to her homeschool group's Box Car Derby this morning. She painted and decorated her own car, which I'm not going to lie, was one of those 'Anyone got any heroin?' experiences, but at the derby, she was so proud of her beautiful car and so excited to be in a race.

She told me, 'Mummy, I promise you I'll win.' And she did. That's my girl!

Extracurricular activities keep me mummying too. Soccer has started up again, too, so on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, I'm hitting the soccer fields again for two hours of watching Fifi then Lolly practice. Fifi is in Girl Scouts as well which is every other Thursday night. So those are my social nights, sitting on the bleachers with the other soccer moms and dads, cheering on our little tripping, bumbling wonders of biology and nature.

Selling the crap out of some cookies.

I've started calling it 'soccer' instead of 'football'. Waaaah!

Fifinally, how could I forget? My least favourite but most rewarding hours of the week? Here's where motivation really comes into play - the gym. I try to go at least twice a week, if not three times. This is my other social outlet, though I don't really socialize very much while I'm there. I'm too out of breath to try talking. I'm still going to my fitness classes while Lolly goes to hers, and today I had a little epiphany. Or maybe it was less an epiphany but a kick up the backside. Instead of hating every moment of these classes (I just frickin' hate cardio!), I realized I needed to pace myself. Once again, a little like childbirth. If you go into a work out (or childbirth) already defeated, already ready to be miserable, then you will have a hard time getting through it. But if you pace yourself mentally, beginning with, 'Okay, I can do this, I'm feeling good, I'm working' then graduate to 'Whew, yep, I'm working all right, but I can maintain this, I can keep going' to finally, 'Right, now it's getting hard, I will keep going but this really is getting tough now', you'll get through it a lot more easily. And surprisingly, at the end of the work out today, I didn't feel like I was going to die or cry, because I'd mentally paced myself. I realized I was actually in good enough shape that if forced (and only if forced) I could keep going. Unfortunately, this is where the childbirth illustration breaks down, because in childbirth, when you hit the 'F*** this, I can't do this anymore!', well, hello, baby, is that a head I see? And you don't have the luxury of stopping any time soon, you just gotta keep working through that mess.

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