I Am a Maker

IMG_20130401_095233I love to make things.  I’ve made things since before I can remember.  One of my earliest memories was working on a ladybug latchhook rug when I was about three years old.  I remember not being able to follow a straight line at that age, even though now that seems impossible. (This gives me a leetle bit of tolerance for what can look like laziness or incompetence in children.)  I also remember having a ball of candy-cane striped yarn that I used for knitting.  I’d knit a while, then unravel, then knit again, and unravel again.

My mother and grandmother never could tell me who taught me to knit and crochet.  I don’t remember learning, I just remember being able to do, although it took until I was nearly grown before I ever managed to finish anything!  I think my mother tried to teach me embroidery.  I remember having a few projects that I worked on at a very young age, 7 or 8.  I never liked it though.  Cross stitch was better, and I worked on that myself and actually finished a piece in my early teens.  I taught myself tatting at around the same time.  I also did a lot of ceramics painting growing up, since my grandmother owned a shop and my mother had her own set of molds and a kiln.  Shortly after I got married, I learned hardanger, the closest thing to an ancestral craft for me that I’ve found.

I dabble in other kinds of making as well.  I aced shop class in junior high, one of only two girls in the class (girls in shop, like boys in home ec, was still very, very rare and strange when and where I did it). I like to build Lego sets.  Whenever we get anything marked “some assembly required”, I secretly rejoice and scheme to make sure I get to do all the building.

I don’t like to sit still, and I don’t take notes well.  I learned in college that intricate doodles could contain information for me that I was listening to at the time of drawing.  Over the last 10 years, I’ve grown the confidence to take that into knitting and crochet, which is why you’ll usually see me doing that in any given class or lecture.  It’s how I pay attention now.

I like to make things.  I like to make complex, intricate things.  I’ve done giant filet crochet pieces, crochet lace-weight bedspreads, prize-winning hardanger doilies, stranded knit sweaters, socks and mittens and hats oh my!  And I’m good at it.  I know this.  There are not many skills involving dexterity that I cannot quickly and easily learn.  I can usually pick up something new just by watching somebody do it for a while.  I could probably say that making things brings me the highest level of pleasure, joy, accomplishment, competence, and appreciation of any activity I do.

The only thing that would make me happier would be to be able to make money by making things, preferably by making things out of string, thread, or yarn.  (I can sew, and I can do it well, but I don’t enjoy it nearly as much.)  That’s why I’ve been working so hard this past year to learn production styles of knitting, doing things the old-fashioned way.  Some of those knitters who relied on it for a living were amazingly fast!  If I could get to be that fast, I could use it.  That would be lovely.

Regardless…I am a Maker.

I Lack Follow-Through

wp-1364743007161I lack follow-through. There are many reasons for this. Some are out of my control.  Some are not.

First off, I am very very busy.  Sometimes I don’t like to admit how busy, but just my primary job of children, school, and house could keep me working hard for 17 hours a day, 7 days a week, if I wanted to be perfect at it. There is the job of homeschooling times six. There is the job of cooking and cleaning for eight, combined with training new people to be subordinates in this job.  There is the job of fundraising for Kender’s dog, now, on top of the job of keeping him safe without the dog when he is determined not to be. There is the job of generally managing the health and finances of eight people, some of whom have special needs, coordinating medications, doctors and hospitals, treatments and therapies.  There is the job of learning the skills of blindness myself, better than just being acquainted with them as the wife of a blind man, well enough to teach them to my son.

That’s just the bare bones.  Nevermind the extras, things just for me, like studying for priesthood, learning to knit at production speeds, reading books, keeping my body strong.

Every day, I struggle with priorities.  What job do I focus on, and what is going to slide because of it?  If I work on Kender’s fundraising, school and chores are going to fall behind. If I focus on training my subordinates, school and fundraising will fall behind.  No matter what I choose, every day something on my essential list is going undone.

With that lack of follow-through seemingly built into my life, is it any wonder that I feel trouble following through on additional ideas and commitments?

I’ve been working on learning to say no.  Sometimes I want to help somebody else, but I will wait (see I Am Lazy) for somebody else to step up first, because I fear my ability to follow through once I commit to help.  Sometimes I just say no up front.  I am learning, slowly, that I can’t do everything.

I have lots of ideas.  I wish I had my own army of minions, and when I have a great idea, something that would work beautifully and might even help me personally, but that I don’t have the time to focus on, then my minions could take over, take my idea and put it into action, consulting me for direction but getting it done themselves.  That would be nice.  I’d like to have SpiralScouts around for my children to participate, but I don’t have the time to deal with it myself. I’d like to bring in more income through my skills, like sewing and such, but again, there’s the lack of time, and spoons.

I wish I could find a way to manage my life just so that I could get the basics done, with a little time for myself.  I have tried every schedule, time manager, task system, etc., that I can find.  The problem seems to be that there is just too much.  I don’t know how to get everything taken care of, and neither does anybody else.  I can’t just cut out enough things to make it work, because too much is essential.  I need to find a way to recapture follow-though in my own life, though.  Without follow-through in my everyday life, how can I expect to have it available for anything or anybody else?

I Am a Mother

Back to the easy stuff for today. It counts, too!

I was the smart kid growing up, and I know my dad wanted so much out of me. I was supposed to go to college, a really fancy college, and get a really fancy degree, and work in a really fancy career, like neurosurgeon or rocket scientist. All of that sounded fun, and it still does, and those things still interest me and lead me to further self-education.

What I dreamed about, though, was being a mother. I was fascinated at an early age by the whole birthing process, something that seemed like a huge secret the whole world was conspiring to keep quiet. I used to daydream about having kids, babies, even twins sometimes. I fantasized about being a teen mother, even though I knew that practically speaking it was a very bad idea, but I was so anxious to get on with it.

Once I got to it, I was happy with it. I didn’t end up with an easy path, to be sure. Triplets aren’t a walk in the park no matter how much you love babies! But it was where I was supposed to be. I’ve evolved in my parenting over the last fourteen years, changed some things, improved on some things. We all do. I have always been more confident in my choices as a mother, though, than in almost anything else I do.

I love motherhood. I love growing and birthing babies, especially once I had the chance to “do it right.” I love nursing babies, sleeping with babies, watching babies grow. I’m not very good at playing with babies and toddlers, I never have been, but I’m good at caring for them, teaching them, and giving them what they need. As they grow older, I love watching the light in their eyes as they learn about the world. I love seeing them turn into people of their own, with their own thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and aspirations. I love having conversations with them, answering questions, getting questions that are hard and make me think.

I’ll miss the baby part, even though right now I’d really like to be done with diapers already. But I’m not done being a mother yet, and I’m doing a job I was meant to do.

I am a mother.

I Am Lazy

Finding myself can’t be all goodness and light.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

I am lazy. If something is not causing me physical discomfort or personal danger, I tend not to want to bother with it.  If there is something that needs attention or doing, I will sit and wait to see if anybody else is going to deal with it first, so I won’t have to.  The more competent people there are in the immediate vicinity, the worse it gets.  It’s infectious, too, hence our answering machine message, which says something like, “Everybody at this number is currently standing around looking at each other and waiting for somebody else to pick up the phone.”  That really happens.  It also happens when somebody knocks on the door, when something gets spilled, when there is yelling or hollering, etc.  Even if I might disagree with the way somebody else handles a situation, I tend to prefer them handling it over me handling it.  At a party or ritual, I will wait until the last possible minute to start clean up and tear down, in the hopes that somebody will do some of it first.

I can be obnoxious about it, too.  For example, I’ll wait until the last half hour before lunch, and then start doing all the morning chores, while muttering under my breath about how nobody else is doing them and how much I hurt today.

Pain can make anybody bitchy.  But an explanation is not an excuse.

I wonder how much of that is pain, and how much is not. If it is from pain, does that make it a true part of me, or not?

It’s a part of life that I have recognized and despaired over recently, my large quantities of inertia. But when I think back on it, it’s on the days when I feel remarkably pain-free that I actually do get up and bounce around the house, getting chores done quickly, answering the door and the phone, taking care of business. I’ll clear off the tables and sew, I’ll cook something nice without turning into a puddle when I’m done.

Am I being too hard on myself when I say I am lazy? How much am I supposed to fight? How much can I expect grace for my situation, versus pity or worse for being too weak?

Right now, I have a headache that has been here for almost a week, and I haven’t been able to run in nearly two and my feet still hurt, and both of those reflect into the general pain level. Which probably makes it a better time for examination than when I am pain-free, because then I tend to look back and wonder what I was complaining about. The memory of pain is always less. It’s a bad time for examination, too, because my brain is foggy and my thinking murky.

Do I want to be the person who fights every day to pretend nothing is wrong? Or can I accept “laziness” in order to save my strength for more important work than putting on a good show? What happens when this touches on my self-identity as a housewife, teacher, and mother, the Maureen Smith ideal I’ve always worked towards?

I Am a Reader

According to my parents, I cracked the code of the written word when I was just two years old. I have not slowed down since. I was reading Roald Dahl in kindergarten. My teacher then didn’t believe me and had me read aloud to her to prove I was really reading…at which point I got put in the first grade reading class. I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid. When my mom went shopping at the mall, I would ask to be left at the bookstore, and I’d just sit and read a book in the back, carefully not cracking the spine, until she came to get me. If I hadn’t finished, and I liked it, I’d ask her to buy it on the way out.

By sixth grade, I was already reading juvenile “romance” novels, the sort with the heroine who has two boyfriends, a good guy and a “bad” guy, and oh my gosh who can I choose?!? That didn’t last long. I was sneaking in and “borrowing” my mother’s V.C. Andrews books in junior high, as well as reading my dad’s science fiction. I bought Eon by Greg Bear in 7th or 8th grade, I don’t remember which. That was probably my first really truly “this is grown up stuff” reading material. When I was 13, I got bored on vacation and picked up To Sail Beyond the Sunset at a gift shop, and I was fully into adult reading material. That book purchase is memorable to me because it was the first Heinlein I ever read, the last book Heinlein ever wrote before dying, and I loved it so much I was constantly making my poor (probably embarrassed!) parents listen to me read the funny bits.

There’s not much I won’t read. There are things that I won’t necessarily pick up of my own volition (most popular women’s fiction comes under this heading), but if somebody told me to or asked me to, I would. In fact, if I found it in a waiting room or bathroom or someplace else and I didn’t already have a book of my own in my hands, I’d pick it up and read it. I read a few post-WWIII books that way, because I’d find them in my in-laws’ bathroom.

Leave me in front of words, or even in the general vicinity, and I’ll read them. I read all the signs that are posted on the wall, most of the magazines in the rack, every fine print warning. I read the ingredients, I read the safety warnings on the cans of air freshener and toilet cleaner in the bathrooms, I read all the words scrolling at the bottom of the news screen. I read all your pages and subpages. If I subscribe to a feed, I read every post. It’s compulsive. It’s like an addiction. A new book can keep me up all night, or sitting in a chair all day while my kids whine about lunch and dinner. All your text are belong to my eyes.

I don’t have a photographic or encyclopedic memory, although I can often remember the shape of information on a page, like the fact I’m looking for is in the upper right corner of a right-hand page facing a large graph on the left page. Everything I read gets stored in memory, especially non-fiction, research, medical reports, political papers, legislation, etc. However, going after that information is a little more like scrying than like pulling it back out of a reference book. I’ll bring the right facts back out, but I won’t always remember where exactly they came from, or how to cite them. My brain puts all that information into a big pile, and then waits for chemical reactions to take place linking different facts together.

I read myself to sleep at night. I read when I get up in the morning. I read while I’m eating; even when there are people with me, I have words ready to place in front of my eyes just in case the conversation lulls.

I love words. I am a Reader.

I Am a Nightowl

This moon cycle starts a month of introspection for me.  I will come and write something every day on Know Thyself, the charge I have received this past cycle from the gods.

The same message came from both Áine, while channeling the Goddess during a Persephone’s Chalice, and from Elizabeth Vongvisith, who did a reading on Loki for me.  Áine was very specific, asking probing “Who are you?” questions repeatedly.  I was speechless.  A week or so before, Elizabeth did the reading because I came to her with the strong feeling that Loki was calling me, and had been for several years.  I wanted to know if I was correct, and if so what he wanted.  Part of her reading was that I need to align myself with my “tribe” and find my place and purpose.

Gods know I’ve been seeking for what seems like forever.  Over the last year or two, things have felt like they were falling into place a bit.  Now I am pressed to hit ground, earth myself *in* myself, find my place and do it *now*.

My first instinct was to start asking questions of others.  But, DUH!!!! That’s not me, that’s what other people think of me.  I need to know who I am, without being defined by others.  They can’t know what is inside me.  All they can tell me is whether the face I am presenting to them is being perceived the way I think it is.  Is the show working?  Did the play go over correctly?  That’s not who I am.

This week, I have finally realized this, and with it is coming the realization that an incredible amount of who I am and what I do has, ultimately, been defined first by others.  The project of defining myself suddenly takes on an awesome, incredible scope.  I am going to have to pick apart my life to try and tease out the pieces that are just mine, only me, nobody else.  It is daunting.  It will be a challenge.  Now that I think about it, this could potentially be *the* life-shaking, life-altering, changes-everything THING that Loki is calling me to, the Game Changer that other Lokians talk about as being the defining characteristic of becoming his, of taking him as a patron.

After seeing some discussions online about newbies in general, and Pagan bubbles, and things like that, I feel called and comfortable sharing this journey online.  I’ve been meaning to restart my blog.  Here’s my chance.  I don’t mind sharing my journey with the world.  I’m not asking for your evaluation of me, but rather I am sharing my evaluation of myself with you.  Making the commitment here, in public, to address and study this project every day will help keep me accountable, keep me on track.

On to Day 1.  Today, I Know that I am a nightowl.  Getting older and having kids hasn’t done a darn thing to change this.  Having a job didn’t change it.  The thought of saluting the sunrise every day didn’t change it.  Becoming a runner didn’t change it.  It is part of Who I Am.  I always thought the idea of becoming a vampire was attractive, not because of drinking blood, but because it was a wonderful excuse to stay up all night and sleep all day.  I do my best work between 10pm and 4am.  Most of my life, I have fought this tendency, tried to conform to the rest of the world, except for one blissful period right before the triplets were born, when I worked from home on my own schedule.

Right now, the biggest outside force affecting my ability to express this part of myself is my husband’s job.  He needs to get up and be at work early.  His ride picks him up at 8.  Occasionally at this job, he’s gone in around 9 or 9:30, but no later.  If I were to move myself to a more preferred schedule, it would adversely affect him, because he would be encouraged to stay up late with me and would miss out on sleep he needs to do his job well.  It would be his choice to do this, but it would still be a consequence of my actions.  Because of this, I do not see a clear way at this time to avoid getting up at what is, for me, very early in the morning, on a regular basis.  But I know that it is not who I am.

I am a night person.

Beyond the Triple Goddess

The triple goddess is a classic, fixed feature of Wicca. I don’t think the concept goes far enough, though. I can see where it came from. Threes are common enough, and women do have these defined stages of life, much more so than men. Three stages are easy to tie into the stages of the moon, and the presence or absence of fertility. I’ve been pondering this a lot, though, and I really think there should be five stages.

1. The Girl — This stage would last from birth to menarche. Our society does not pay enough attention to the end of this stage. It is surrounded by mystery and secrecy, and often even women do not share this mystery with each other, or between mother and daughter. Gone are the respectful rites of passage to celebrate the ending of childhood. I want to bring this back for my girls.

2. The Maiden — This stage would last from menarche to childbirth. The Maiden is a full-flowered woman, grown but not quite matured. There is an important difference between the Maiden and the Girl. The Maiden is privy to more of the secrets of adulthood. She has earned autonomy in her actions and control over her life, but has not yet acquired responsibility for another’s life. Again, while childbirth is an important rite of passage for every woman, it is no longer treated as such. Gone is the respect for the power of the birthing woman, replaced by a series of laboratory procedures. This is beginning to change.

3. The Mother — This stage lasts through the childbearing and nursing years. The Mother is full of the power of creation, growing new life and nurturing it with her body and soul. Her life is focused on this task. Her sleep is disrupted. Her body is ravaged. Her children, born and unborn, demand her attention every hour of every day. This stage is given short shrift in our modern, feminist society. Women are told they can “have it all,” that they can go right back to work while their children are young without missing a beat. The women who choose to dedicate themselves to this job of early motherhood are looked at as less committed, unproductive, “housewives”.

4. The Matron — This stage lasts from the weaning of the last child until that child is grown. The Matron has moved from the physical creation and nurturing of life to the mental support of that life. The Matron is focused on teaching her children to grow and learn, preparing them for their launch into the world, independent of her. Her body is now her own again, but the demands on her mind and time are no less. The Matron’s arms are more frequently empty, but her heart is even more full, as she faces the coming day when her children will be gone and her nest will be empty.

5. The Crone — This is the final stage of life, the one we are familiar with as “The Crone.” Lasting from menopause or the empty nest until death, this is a time when the woman moves into an elder advisor position. She is the grandmother, the matriarch of the family. No longer active in the day-to-day raising of children, she is consulted by the younger generations for wisdom and advice, and she gets to bestow her love on new babies without having to lose sleep over them. I think the Crone also does not get enough respect anymore. Women try so hard to pretend they are nowhere near this stage for as long as they can, dying their hair, surgically altering their body, masking the signs of age. When they do give in and show their age, they are relegated to the retirement communities and nursing homes, shunted away rather than listened to and respected. I think it is so sad that women do not feel proud of the gray hairs they have earned. Those gray hairs and wrinkles are a badge of honor, marks of a life lived and lessons learned.

I think these divisions are more understandable and definable. The hardest part of incorporating them into religious practice would be relating them to the stages of the moon. We are used to the symbol of the Triple Goddess, with the waxing crescent, the full moon, and the waning crescent; these represent the Maiden, Mother, and Crone aspects. However, the moon is also divided into quarters, with the full moon and new moon in between. Perhaps the first four stages could be related to the four quarters of the moon, with the full moon representing childbirth. The Crone would be the night sky, always in the background supporting the other aspects. A symbol for this new 5-faced goddess could be the original triple-moon, with the crescents raised a little above the full and connected by a new moon, the whole on a background circle.

Maybe I can get Caitlin to draw that up for me.

It occurs to me that some women never have children. How do they fit into these different aspects of Goddess? Even women who do not physically bear babies have their children. Perhaps they adopt children, and still go through spiritual childbirth and physical nuturing. Perhaps they choose or are chosen to be childless, and devote their life to something else, a career or a calling. Their life’s work then becomes their child, something they nurture and grow, and then eventually they retire and become an elder to their community. If you look closely, you can see these stages, these aspects, in virtually every life path a woman can choose. Their markers may sometimes be less obvious, but they are no less there.