I love the week between Christmas and New Year. I can forgive myself for getting nothing done, and then be surprised by actual accomplishments.
There's a peace about this time. Of course, I don't have hordes of children to tend---just my own unruly mind, which I decided to keep busy this week by erecting my tapestry loom and thinking about my first project. My body is cooperating, and for this I'm grateful.
But my spirit's been low and my emotions volatile. Immersion in projects I love is always a good cure. Weaving is wonderful for this. It's grounding and centering and engrossing all at once. It keeps my mind thinking positively about the next steps, reaching for solutions, envisioning the final result.
This is how we create our lives every day. Like clockwork, our thoughts become reality.
I tend to be a wallower. Dredge it up and roll around in it, that's me. I wish I were naturally optimistic and forward-looking, tasting life and dashing on to the next wonderful unknown. But my mind is still in training, and until boot camp is over I like to keep it occupied with color and beauty and interesting, fiddly things to do. It increases the chance that the life I create will be colorful, beautiful, and interesting...if a bit fiddly.
So the loom is up and ready to go, complete with obligatory cat (that's Willy) napping in the corner.
My little living room is now a weaving studio with two chairs and a TV. Nice.
In my peaceful corner of the world, I thank God for this quiet week between the holidays. When January comes, I'll revise my novel and trawl for work once again. But for the next few days, I can drape my living room with color and my mind with something other than my own complaints.
The rain is pouring down. It's gray as far as the eye can see. But I've made my cottage a cozy little nest. I feel positively Dickensian.
Sick of my own sad-sack attitude lately, I went out before breakfast today, dodging raindrops, and carried my tapestry loom in pieces from the weaving shed to the living room. Don't ask how I made room for it.
This gray weather has my creativity gushing. I'm a winter lover who struggles in the balmy climate of Baja. Still, it's probably best not to have too much gushing at once. My greatest downfall is to try to enact everything that flies into my mind.
Believe it or not, fibro has been a helpful friend in this regard. Among other things, it's taught me the value of limitations. One...all right, maybe two or three...projects at a time, but no more than that. I get more done, have a better chance of actually finishing something, and avoid total collapse.
As New Year approaches, however, I can't help but think about resolutions. I don't write them---I've disappointed myself too many times. I'd rather add up what I've accomplished at the end of the year and call them fulfilled resolutions. It makes me feel much better.
But every year, like clockwork, a new theme presents itself of its own accord. This last year's theme turned out to be hopes and dreams: what I wanted for myself and what would get me up in the morning. This, it turns out, is still a work in progress. Yet now there are rumblings from the deep, and they're even more colorful than last year's. I sense an increasingly creative time ahead, and I'm excited.
After this last series of difficult flares, I'm embarking on my new journey with care. Yes, it's true, I hauled my loom cross-country this morning. But now that it's here, it will assemble itself piece by piece, and I can---finally---get back to work.
As the rain rages outside, I'm snuggling down in my bastion of warmth and tea. I may need to take my creative journey a step at a time, but soon there will be projects that get me up in the morning.
Thirty-four years ago, my one-year-old son and I were alone for a Christmas on welfare. I had no gifts to give, no friends to be with, and a five-dollar bill in my pocket. I drove aimlessly through the streets of the city on Christmas Eve, face wet with tears, baby gooing and gurgling in his car seat.
I thank God I had the presence of mind to pray behind the wheel. And somehow, through my self-pity, came the realization that I did indeed have $5 in my pocket and my baby in his seat. I did have a family, and we were all together.
I took my $5 and headed for a Christmas tree lot, where I bought a pretty mangy-looking tree, and then to a grocery store, where I spent the rest of my money on a bag of cranberries.
Back home, I stood the tree in a corner and started making popcorn-cranberry strands and paper-loop garlands with a happy, drooling one-year-old. I'll never forget how puzzled I was that the strands were disappearing before my eyes until I realized that my son, sitting at my feet, was eating the popcorn as fast as I was stringing it. Alone in the apartment, I laughed with him till my sides hurt.
I don't remember anything else about that Christmas. I have no recollection of Christmas Day or contact with my parents on the other side of the country, or what we ate for Christmas dinner. But I will never forget the revelation of who my family was, and how quickly a toddler can devour popcorn.
This Christmas, my body aches and I'm short on cash. But as I just wrote to to a friend, the birth of Christ is in our hearts, not under the tree. It's always possible to make Christmas out of the things around us because, in fact, they are God's gifts to us.
Here's wishing you a blessed (and relaxing) time as you get ready for the upcoming holy day. May all your preparations be filled with joy and inspired by the light of Christ!
This is me: shaking my fist at the rock that hides the moon.
Among the too many things I try to do in my life is weaving---and I'm going somewhere with this, so please bear with me. I have floor looms I'm constantly trying to work on and dozens of projects aswirl in my head, most of which never materialize. I'm also on a weaving chat list, and today a fellow weaver said something that crept into my heart like a ray of moonlight.
She'd just finished weaving a set of towels for her teenaged daughter to put in a hope chest. When she told us this, she remarked that she didn't know if people had hope chests anymore, but there it was, the towels were for a hope chest.
Apart from my mother, I personally don't know anyone who has a hope chest, or who ever had one. Of course, when I was of hope-chest age, I was traveling in rebellious circles that rejected anything of real value, so I'm not the best judge. Still, I think she's right. A hope chest is an old-fashioned tradition. A beautiful one, though. And, I'm thinking, a helpful one.
I'm emerging from a difficult few weeks. I won't bore you with the details, but I'm only now starting to think about the sunnier things of life. To be honest, I've rather lost a sense of myself over the whole last two years. I've been spending a lot of time shaking my fist at rocks.
A hope chest suddenly feels like a loving, comforting thing to do for myself. I've had enough of rocks. How about some moonlight, soft and easy on the heart?
So I'm starting one. Not for marriage, but for life. I can fill it over time with carefully chosen, beautiful items to remind me that I do have dreams, I do have hope, and there are things to live for.
And the first thing that's going in my chest is a note to myself: Take a step to the side, dear, because the moon is just behind the rocks.