Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Holding On and Letting Go

Happy 2014, all.

So I was kind of struck dumb like Zechariah after the word-splosion of May. Once I got through telling our story, and realized it was turning into The Wheel of Time (87 volumes and still not done! Seriously, the author DIED and the series keeps going!), I just couldn’t summon the mental energy to put any other ideas into words. This coincided with our early stoppage of chemo because G’s kidneys declared THEY were done, and ain’t nobody got time to argue with a defiant set of protein hoarding adolescent kidneys.

2 stable-ish scans since then, a new school year, new battles, old crosses, small victories and defeats here and there... everything I tried to write seemed stupid.

But it’s a new year, and I have to start making sense of things in words again. It’s what I do. It’s what I live for…to help unfortunate merfolk, like yourself…

Gah, no. Sorry. We did see Little Mermaid as a family in June. That was lovely.

Now, I am going to try again.

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions, I know myself too well, I break any resolution within 48 hours and then wallow in guilt for 2 months. So I more try to think of small steps I can take, or first steps towards tackling bigger things, stuff that isn’t all or nothing, but more a gentle progress that doesn’t create wads of guilt when I screw up by Saturday.

But over the last few months, I’ve really been confronted with my inability to let things go…and how many things I’ve lost my hold on.

I’m not referring to my sanity. I can hear what some of you are thinking, you know this, right?

Today I decided to start working on cleaning out my craft/office area, aka my Hoarders Studio.  My school papers are literally in piles a foot deep (ok, on top of binders and books and stickers I made and motivational posters and videos and a picture of a lighthouse that used to hang in my bathroom…not sure how THAT got in the pile). My old craft area is a fossil repository for things long neglected.

To start, I had decided a few weeks ago to throw away the giant lightbulbs I had hoarded. I saved them when I was doing craft fairs, I can see them as fat Santas (in fact I had made 5 fat Santas years ago, so I had a legit use planned). But I haven’t done craft fairs in at least 3 years, and these are a pain to paint…so I was Ready To Purge. Go me!

Then I moved on to fabric paints that I’ve had since my sisters were preschoolers (they are um, out of college), random dried out glue, sweaters with holes that I had planned to make into pillows, things like that. Easy Peasy.

And then I started in on my fabric drawers.


I have piles of fabric. Pieces big enough for clothing…a large piece of linen to make an 18th century style skirt for when I volunteered at the National Park (donate)…a 3 yard piece of wide wale red corduroy (ok, I saved that)….Lining fabric and fleece and flannel for a nightgown I never made for my daughter….Polished cotton to make sundresses for preschool girls. That ship has sailed. Sigh. But some of these I could donate, and that was ok. Some I saved, but I MUST use them soon.

Then I got to the drawer of small pieces…the odds and ends I saved for quilting projects I used to do, the bits of my now college age son’s Easter pants when he was a toddler, fabric from 6 or 7 year’s worth of Easter dresses I made for my second born, bits and pieces of days gone very much by—days before. Like, BEFORE. BEFORE the Elephant.

This was really hard. Really. Really. Hard. It was like tossing pieces of the life we had a long time ago, when things weren’t necessarily EASIER (life with little kids and a husband working lots of overtime has challenges), but simpler. We knew where we fit. We were young and unafraid…dreams were made and used and waaaasted….
I can’t help it. All roads lead back to musical theater.

But it was hard to throw away some of that fabric. And some of it HAD to be thrown away. (No joke, I know how those people feel on Hoarders).  And I was all OH, THE METAPHOR because I’ve been thinking so much about trying to throw away the bad feelings, to forgive, to just be at peace with how things are, trying to NOT be stuck in a pattern of slow ugh…

I did find more to donate, and some I saved…because even as I’m realizing I HAVE TO LET THINGS GO, I also am trying this year to hold onto the things I love that have slipped away…I need to make myself finish my last cross stitch project (a LONG overdue wedding gift), I need to start sewing again, I need to paint the little lightbulbs I saved and show my girls how to make ornaments out of random tchotchkes. These things brought me so much joy and creative fulfillment over the years. Creativity is good medicine.

Yes, teaching fills some of that—part of the reason my piles of school stuff resemble snow drifts is because I am always seeking to teach better, to use more resources, to engage students more…
But you can’t wear that, or give it to a friend, or hang it on your wall. At least, my spouse might wonder if I started hanging random charts I’ve made up about Jefferson’s vision for America vs. Hamilton’s vision for America.
That’s a pretty snazzy chart, though.

I think that really, this is what I need to do this year: let go of what I can—the jumper I made in high school and saved because the fabric was so nice (and my plaid is PERFECTLY matched, snapSNAP), the frustration with situations I face daily, the deep almost despair I feel over certain ethical situations that effect my family’s relationships. I have to let this go.  I’m not sure how, because I am a hoarder of things bad and good, letting go is so very hard for me. But these things weigh me down. They have to go, even if that means separating myself from the yikes and actively finding things that create joy (NOT just sitting and watching a marathon of Squatch Hunters because I am too mentally meh to try and actively find joy).

At the same time, I have to re-grip (not regroup, but the same idea. Just grippy) the things that matter, the things that bring me joy.  I need to teach my girls how to be creative the way my mom and grandmother and art teacher taught me. I need to hold onto my family, my sisters and brothers (and their spouses and kids) who I love so much and who remind me of who I am REALLY, with or without the Elephant and all he entails. I need to work more on my faith, which has always been a rock for me.  I need to sew and paint and make jewelry and embroider and do those things I loved. I’m not sure how I let go of them, or where they went…I think the Elephant in our room just sat on them or something. But I want them back.

Well, they didn’t actually GO, they are all still in my basement. In piles. Ergh. But yay, too.

I scandalized most of my husband’s family this year by admitting (ok, by declaring vehemently) that I  HATE the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. I find it intensely depressing. Yeah, George Bailey has friends who bail him out, and his life of continuous disappointment had value. But the next day, after the crowd and the carols and the little bell, you know that George probably still felt a pang when he saw the posters of the places he hoped to travel, he probably still had to breathe deeply when facing the yikes of the job he really never wanted. I know, it’s supposed to be uplifting…

But for me, it’s hard to let go of all of those disappointments and frustrations, especially when there’s no resolution in sight.

THIS year, I hope to look for the joy I know life has…even if that means those situations can’t be fixed. My continuous effort will be to reclaim those things that used to give me a lot of joy and peace (ok, except when I was trying to put a zipper in something and the zipper foot jammed and I was all unprintables! Except back then I didn’t use unprintables nearly like I do now, thanks, Elephant).  I am going to go all Capra on this year. Yes. In little tiny steps. That's the plan.

So, it took 7 months, but here’s around 1500  words and change. Holding tight to old joys, to family, to this brief reprieve we have…and letting go of frustration, disappointment, and all that is the plan.

Do you think I’ll make it past Saturday? ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment