Thursday, January 26, 2012

accomplishing stuff, and snails.

While I think we Americans are perhaps a little addicted to accomplishment [UNDERSTATEMENT], when you are a mom in the middle of a work of art that will not be completed for another 10-15 years, it is helpful to periodically review things that you are getting done. (I have a friend who sits down with her journal every night for this. "I fed three kids three times today. I changed x diapers.")

I have been trying to consciously slow down, over and over, since last semester, during which point I hit a spot where I wanted to quit school and crawl into a hole and die. I was only taking two classes, but one of them was the most hazing of an acting class I've ever been to, and it took everything in me to drag myself to it every day, and I was running my part-time bed & breakfast on top of it, which involves a lot of cleaning, (and I was working my part-time accounting job, and I was working my part-time raising of 4 children, and I was devoting quality time to my boyfriend) - and we were still splitting weeks custody-wise so I was in a state of constant transition. Transition is d r a i n i n g .

So I took some snail months. My friend Maria and I call those days where you just need to NOT go to the YMCA and NOT run 3-5 errands and NOT talk to someone on the phone, "snail days." Slllooooowwwwwing it down days. (My mom happened to get me the Vera Bradley pattern with tiny little snails hiding in it for Christmas. She was in the Flow.) These are the days when you play hookie from everything. My mom used to call them "mental health" days and she would let us take off school every once and awhile for them, a tradition I have continued with my kids.

My last meal in Spain was a bowl of snails - an adventurous final meal for an adventurous excursion that tasted flavorful but incredibly slimy. (Try them once. That's all you need. It's hard not to gag as the little antennae are coming towards you.) Mmmm. I was consuming a symbol for what to carry out in the next year.

Here's what happens when you let yourself rest long enough: you start to accomplish stuff. I know, weird, right? But it's true. When you make enough room for your body and soul, cool stuff starts to surface from the deep-down parts of it. Since the semester ended in mid-December last month, I have:

. . . finished knitting a shawl for my sister, fingerless gloves for my cousin, and the most intricate, soft baby sweater (pima cotton and silk - drool) for my friend's firstborn son, born on my firstborn son's birthday ten years to the day! - which incidentally was knitted on size 2 needles with yarn that looked like thread, my first success with something that delicate. Don't know that I'll revisit that kind of accomplishment again for awhile, but I'm proud - when I started knitting, I never thought I'd have the skill or patience to create something like that. It just took 3 years of knitting gradually more challenging patterns.

. . . successfully maintained my accounting assistant job every morning and gotten my daughters to help me put stamps on the invoicing envelopes.

. . . voraciously read all of the scientific literature available on essential oils (I could be a certified aromatherapist with as much info as my brain is now holding; perhaps I will do so when I get a spare $500, hahaha) and wrote a primer on them which my bro & sister's home-based publishing house is going to publish for me under a pseudonym.

. . . applied my essential oil knowledge by making Sleepy Baby mixes for all the babies I know & love who have hard times sleeping (including my babies, who are no longer talking to each other for an hour after I put them in their rooms because they are sedated by nature's goodness within 20 minutes, nor crawling into my bed or waking up from dreams). I am also treating myself with them and my PMS has gotten increasingly better. Some of them heal trauma, which has also been good, and hard, but good. I warded off two or three major bugs that everyone else I love came down with over Christmas. Essential oils are magic, people, I'm telling you. Best-kept secret of modern medicine & nature.

. . . renewed my efforts to take care of my body. I'm treating adrenal depletion (which I think has been ongoing from all of the stressful years of my 20s) with essential oils & a great vitamin mix, which is giving me the energy to walk much more often than I ever have in the winter, and I'm remembering to take my Vitamin D3 most days, and I drink a yummy protein shake every morning for breakfast even though they cost $2 a piece. This all feels really good because it is the first thing to go when I get overloaded and then I feel shitty about myself and it just downward spirals.

. . . compiled my first draft of a small spirituality book, Wrestle the Angel. It's got stuff you may have read before on here, and stuff you haven't. Perhaps it will get published. Perhaps it will help people. I really like writing and it was completely invigorating to work on.

. . . redesigned my blog and written two posts in two days! Woot!

. . . started getting a renewed hankering for sewing that will probably begin next week when I don't have the kids (we've switched to a 7 day on/off schedule and it is so much better than 3.5). I need to finish some curtains for my boyfriend's room (they are awesome, they have little samurais and geishas in the mist of cherry blossoms - but I am counterbalancing their slightly feminine asian nature with dark brown canvas material). I need to sew some curtains for my living room because I'm tired of my windows feeling like the all-seeing Eye of Sauron at night. And I think I might make myself a spring jacket that looks something like Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey would wear if she was a woman today.

I put three pictures of snails on here so that the message hits home visually. Triune repetition for meditative profundity. Look at them. So slow and beautiful. It's fascinating to me that one of the slowest, smallest creatures carries a shell on its back that symbolizes growth of the soul - the same pattern as a chambered nautilus.
Slowing down speeds you up inside. This was the best aspect of homeschooling as a kid - you get your work done, and then you get to explore vocational and hobby stirrings for the rest of your day. This is what helped me become a writer at a young age. This is how grown-ups figure out how to make a career shift or how to create something to bless your little world and/or the big world: by carving out a little Nothing time and letting your heart lead you. Make sure you are wearing pajamas or loungewear while you're at it.

*p.s. My Vera Bradley pattern showed up in the New Girl tv show as something Zoey Deschanel's character owned. I was tickled by the benediction: creative spazzes, be bold with your florals! (the little snails are pink and are crawling just above the border...)