Yep, I know it's been pretty quiet around the blog, lately.
Behind the scenes, I've been doing a lot. The holidays were spent sewing, catching up on some projects that have been stuck for a while. I finished a sun dress I cut out in the summer of 2015 one day when I seriously didn't know what to do with myself.
Remembering the day I cut it out, I realize that I do that kind of thing pretty often. I think this is pretty normal, isn't it? There are times like that, aren't there? You're too emotional, tired, or stressed to concentrate on anything you need to do, so you pick something at random completely unrelated to your everyday life and do that instead to blow off steam.
For me, those random tasks, if left unfinished, become a stress in themselves. They sit there and taunt me, reminding me that there is one more thing I haven't finished yet, demanding my attention, waiting for its turn. Thus I walk the fine line between my projects giving me pleasure or pressure. I'm learning how to see them the first way more and to ignore the latter.
So the dress was finished, followed by three pairs of pajamas for Jude, who has been sprouting like a weed, along with plenty of fun bow ties--a quickie project I discovered when I made them for November's Fantastic Beasts joint birthday party. I also finished a few other projects that had been in progress for a year or more.
You'd think, after all that finishing, my creative juices would have been flowing like an Artesian Spring.
And they were--for some things. Sewing and clothing design? Check. Magazine writing work? Check. Knitting design? Check.
Writing my book? Um...
How about the blog? *eeeeeeek!!*
Every day since December 27, "Brainstorm blog schedule" has been on my list, and it keeps getting bumped. Or I would think about working on my book, and something held me back--it felt like lime jello, but harder to push through. Actually, it was really tempting just to plunk down and begin eating rather than push through at all.
Okay, that was a weird analogy. What I mean to say is, the activities that distracted me from pushing through my creativity barrier for the book were legitimate enough (such as designing and releasing my new "The OA" hat and cowl set) that I felt justified not stretching myself into the dark zone that surrounded creative writing for the last month.
There were other factors at play, too--grief was running rampant throughout December and into January. Our family doesn't celebrate Christmas, so I was able to observe a unique phenomenon: many people miss loved ones over the holidays and associate it with them being absent at the family Christmas, and I think this masks that there are other reasons that this time of year tends to culture sadness. Observing it in myself, I came up with these:
- It is a time of looking back and looking ahead and assessing where you are in life, so the missing person's absence receives more attention.
- The further north you are, the less sun you get, and the combined lack of sunshine and resultant Vitamin D deficiency promote a blue state of mind which only exacerbates pre-existing grief.
I am grieving more than just my son, too, although I dreamt of Levi more times in the last 45 days than I have in the entire time before that since he went to heaven. I still grieve for my brother, which is very difficult to explain to people and which feels like taboo to say aloud since he didn't die, just chose to become someone different, someone more her but not him. Even here, I am not explaining it well. I hope she understands what I mean.
This kind of grief is so uncommon (having a transgender family member) that there are very few who can relate, and to even try to explain it to someone who hasn't experienced it is difficult because most people don't even understand what it means to be transgender. I'm still not 100% sure I understand it, although I try as best as I can from an observer's perspective. So most of the time, I don't mention the loss.
The people who do "get it"--what this grief is like--are other family members. But due to the strains of grief from both the loss of Levi and my sister's transition, other relationships have been strained, too. My dad and I have barely spoken in the last year, and I miss him a lot. I wonder if it is my fault. I don't think so, but I still wonder if there is something I can do to fix it. It's another loose end, another loss, a vacuum in my inner stratosphere that gnaws at me and leaves me grieving.
I've also been wrestling with a difficult choice in relation to my ministry with Faith Children Home. It has weighed heavily on me since October, and though I haven't even mentioned it to many people, is possibly the hardest issue in my life at the moment. I will not go into details here, but please pray for our family and for the orphanage if you have a few seconds and inclination to do so.
On the plus side, progress has recently been made on Finding Heaven. Last Thursday, I realized that the Jello was resistance to the creative work required to world-build the next part of my book, and my "butt has been in my chair, hands on keyboard" for significant time in the last four or five days. I'm getting back in the saddle. I'm pushing through the Jello. I'm a professional, darnit, and professionals don't let the fear win.
Lethargy still pulls at me, though. I don't know how to fit in blogging and still do the other things well right now. It's been nice to be so productive (with both designing and writing the book) and still get to spend time with my family and keep up on the accounting and do some sewing and "fun" stuff, too, that I hesitate to crank up the blog again because I am worried it will be too much and my house of cards will tumble.
Perhaps if I actually DO that blog planning, then it won't seem so scary to me. But this year, I want my primary focus to be on creating product within a reasonable workday. The marketing is important, but I'm just not convinced that the amount of time I was focusing on my blog is necessary for what I am trying to do. Perhaps a more relaxed plan will allow me to still blog (which I do enjoy most of the time) without feeling so much pressure and putting such high expectations on myself.
Yes, I have to learn to cut myself some slack. Probably in a lot of areas. Now I'm stressed about learning to be gentle on myself. Lol.
I'll figure it out. A day at a time, the log jam is loosening and the ideas are flowing. The sun is coming back, energy is returning, and I am pulling myself blinking from the retreat of hibernation.
I just think that, for my own mental and emotional health, this year needs to be less about driving myself and more about reducing commitments, taking care of myself, and finding my passion again. It needs to be about healing, something I may have been delaying in some areas because of my constant busy-ness. I need to focus on doing my primary callings--being a good wife and mother and friend. Learning how to manage a career within a 40-ish hour work week, and keeping that work secondary to the needs of myself and my family.
I like the idea that some people do of focusing on one word for a year rather than trying to make resolutions. I've never done it, and can't say as I am about to start. But as I think of the year to come, the words that come to mind that I think need to define it for me are these:
Honestly, that's it. I thought "create" might be in there, but it seems too driven and counter-intuitive to the first two. It's not that I won't be creating stuff, because that's what I do for a living. But when I need to make a decision about whether or not to do something else, or when life is overwhelming me, I think I need to remember: 2017 is about resting and healing. If it takes away from that, then perhaps it is something that can wait.
Hello, friends. How has January been for you?