Yesterday was largely recuperative without sacrificing a steady stream of small accomplishments outside, in the house, and here in the studio. The years of debilitating physical illness taught me that small and steady is the only way to fly. The trick is to have enough faith in the process that it sustains commitment to maintaining both small and steady in an ongoing way.
Yesterday I asked my morning self how I could become more comfortable with a shorter attention span and more fragmented abilities to focus on any given activity or thought-problem. Then I had a day of answering the question by simply making note of how I flowed from one activity to another. What I was drawn to eat or drink and when. And - as always - how elastic time becomes whenever routines-of-running-around come to a full stop.
Within time's suspended animation I had a pivotal epiphany about how I set up my creative life prior to brain trauma. This is key to helping me properly sort out the rest of my studio space. Had previously reached the conclusion I had innumerable boxes and tins and a few plastic shoe boxes crammed full of seemingly random creative supplies because I didn't inherently understand how to organize things 'properly' and was too impatient to learn. But in yesterday's early evening I finally grasped what should have been obvious: I mixed up my supplies so in the event of a drop-and-run emergency no matter what I grabbed-up in a few precious seconds would leave me able to make any number of different things from what was inside.
Last night I discovered a long-overlooked supply tin holding the above contents. I decided to take pictures because I knew the process of setting them up would help me organize the grouping at a mental level. I can tell just by the goldeny velvet circle in the center, the strip of turquoise dyed suede and the collection of threads in the upper right corner that this grouping evolved from Jude's second Cloth to Cloth workshop followed by the heart-oriented class. Also had previously imagined I'd permanently lost the hank of faceted sunstone beads. Reuniting with them has been outstanding!
In the now, of course, preparing for a potential need to grab and go has been replaced by keeping still. Isolating one set of possibilities and potential in order to to discover working with what's on hand at a whole new psychic decibel range. This particular sewing box is destined for considerable retrofitting in order to make it functional. For starters it needs a scissors and wider assortment of both pins and needles. Some kind of straight edge marking device - maybe a six inch quilter's square.
What I assemble will then become my working sewing box over in the house. Raw supplies that don't fit my evolving needs are being reabsorbed into the relevant storage containers here in the studio or within the single plastic tote of fiber arts related supplies that will continue to live in the house. House-based/dining room table/downstairs bathroom creativity becomes important to me during the parts of summer when it's simply too hot to be up here. And have found stitching is easiest to pick up and put down in the spontaneous rhythms of the Outside seasons.
While I was deciding how to best utilize the tin's oddly shaped space I had the sudden awareness that I'd learned to keep these kind of storage tins from The Sisters - Grace & Pearl - for sure. But more vividly and sensually I got it from my mother. As a child I did what many of us do with off-the-rails Living Large if only in their own minds parents. I mythologized her behavior and did everything I could to reframe it as mysterious rather than alarming and cruel.
To that end I spent a lot of clearly recalled time sitting on the splintered floor of a strange set of closets built between our two bedrooms. I'd sit there as silently as possible - cradling a carved rosewood box I still have - and silently commune with the contents of the box in my arms. They fascinated me. There was liquid kohl in a small wrinkled tube and five or six mascara brushes. I had no idea what they were until years later.
What some women would have kept as a straight-up makeup box became more of a magic carpet in my mother's hands. She'd included a few gaudy shoe buckles I recognized as belonging to my grandmother. Years later I'd hear her tell a neighbor lady who hung on her every word for almost 20 years that she'd 'filched' them from Pearl's traveling case so as to keep them from appearing at an impending wedding rehearsal dinner.
There were tiny pine cones and glittering chips of semi-precious beads from a number of broken necklaces. A political button expressing support for McKinley that I've kept in the box all these years. Paper scraps in her handwriting loaded with various writing ideas. There was also a tiny red datebook from the year 1955. It felt wrong to read it (and this remained true up until just four or five years ago) but I always sat with it pressed tightly between my palms. Trying as best I could to create mystery and magic that could hold me steady during times when she frightened me into a state of silence for any number of reasons.
Introspection related to more tangled family roots seems like a luxurious albatross a lot of the time. The self-involvement level of traversing and untangling every nook and cranny one encounters is, for me, achingly exhausting to maintain. Although there's always an underlying context of fear involved with anything that speaks directly to our physical and cellular connections I'm also pleased on a daily basis with the positive and most meaningful ways I was shaped by my mother in a manner I authentically treasure.
Most of my fabric stash is quilter's cotton I collected between '87 and '05. The latter date has no real significance in relation to compulsively gathering fabric in preparation for the stage of life I'm now in. I simply knew Enough when I saw it. Not all that long ago this collection was color sorted with separate 'category piles' for florals and leaves, specific topical themes etc. When Mama first made it clear she intended to become a full-time studio companion I started shifting piles all around so she could nest and get her bearings in the first and second shelves. The color coding system is still discernible but it's scarcely well ordered. The unique pleasure of working and dreaming in the company of a studio cat is worth the shift.
The larger point is that I took most of yesterday to actively ground with outside work and time by myself here in the studio in which to feel raw and untested. By last night the bedroom floor was empty and I'd put some drops of lavender and tangerine essential oils in the dehumidifier water. Also put thought-time and just-being into the small third bedroom. I'm glad to have liberated space so that it becomes a satellite evolving sanctuary of a room, as I originally envisioned it might be. As we adjust to all being here all the time I've noticed this space becoming something of a small-scaled family room. The atmosphere is livelier and more communal without the rolls of finished/not finished handwork and stacks of raw supplies absorbing so much vibrational energy. Noticed that within hours of learning everything I'd removed wouldn't be coming back in the room T. began organizing his friends so they could have virtual meet-ups in the afternoon and evening.
Life's not good given larger contexts but it's definitely workable and contains many moments of sustained grace. The luxury of being able to work a tiny piece of land is fomenting inner resilience and relative ease (so far) in returning to a place of inner equilibrium a lot more organically possible than I might have imagined when I didn't know what to imagine, really.
for now we wait and sow seeds.