Beat Me Halfway, a local roller derby convention was this past weekend. Plus, the Arch rival home opener, the STL Junior Derby Christmas party, AND the Sk8 Club Christmas party. It was kind of an amazing week of seeing old friends, laughing and watching the kids skate. Since breaking my leg in July, I haven’t really had the opportunity to watch Abby because I wasn’t skating with her like I normally do. She’s grown and improved so much over the last couple of months and is truly a joy to watch. I can’t wait until, two weeks from now the header grid is just me and my friends skating together. I’ve missed it so much!
This week my best friends, my circle of trust and I started a small accountability partners group over messenger. We all have goals, big and small. Talking about those goals and supporting each other will help us all grow and help keep us moving across the plateau to the next climb. One of my goals for this week was to begin updating my Page by taking a look at my rewards tiers and thinking about what’s sustainable and what best reflects my values.
At the $2 tier, I’ll be sharing the goals, struggles, and successes that I share with my accountability group
The $5 tier is becoming my sketchbook club. In an effort to learn to use inDesign better, and because, if I’m honest, I like to see what I’ve been up to, I’ll compile all of my work each quarter into a pdf book. I’m thinking a square format would be cool to start off with, but I’m not married to that idea.
My $10 supporters get a yearly cartoon drawing. I’m really excited about this! hahaha!
I cant believe we’re headed into the last few days of December and the Photo-A-Day Challenge. It’s been fun on so many levels, trying to improve the photos I take while avoiding the Christmas themes built into the list, and keeping in mind the narrative I want to add to each post. That’s been my favorite part, actually. This month has been a perfect storm of wanting to mindfully practice writing, reading collections of essays on storytelling and literature by Phillip Pullman and Ursula K LeGuin, and having the opportunity to put those things into practice together.
14/31 I Made This
I had an interesting conversation with my best friend tonight.
H – “Ok….am I being too ‘extra’”
M – “I think that’s amazing…Much more than necessary.”
H- “But it would be so cool….”
M- “If you were putting the bags together with someone I would fully endorse it. But it’s more than you need to do for this time.
Why don’t we plan to do it next time and I can help you? I love big ideas. And I especially love how you want to be extra, but you have a long enough list already.”
H- “But…I don’t feel like there’s enough in the bag….”
M- “Oh! You know what we could do!?”
M- “The vinyl sticker and a playlist cd in a custom cd sleeve!!”
M- “You laugh like you think I’m joking…”
H- “And I’m extra?!?”
That “extra”…it’s kind of who we both are as people, and something we trust each other to help manage as friends. I mean, we encourage it too, and push each other but sometimes it’s helpful for me to have someone say gently “maybe that’s a little too ‘extra’”.
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Off and on, Ive been working on a comic mostly about my kids and how much they amaze me and make me laugh. About a year and a half ago, after doing really well producing a weekly comic for awhile, I decided to do something extra. Like recklessly extra.
I thought it would be an amazing idea to produce a fully colored page a day for the forty days leading up to my fortieth birthday. Basically five, eight page stories. I got two of them written and drawn, and a couple of the pages fully colored before I simply ran out of time and had to move on to other work.
It’s occupied so much of my creative head space that I haven’t managed to move on to other creative projects since, really. Blech.
She ended up doing it anyway, by the way. Honestly, I would have too. Hahaha.
The first mindfulness concept I really recognized as an adult, and was able to name as the “Quiet Stairwell”. Physically it’s that same feeling as when I’ve spent the day helping a friend move into a new house. All the boxes and couches and even the piano have been moved. Pizza’s been ordered, and I sit down on a crate and just let that sense of stillness wash over me.
The mental state is important though, and where the name comes from. When my best friend was in high school, the halls and lunchroom were noisy and crowded. It was overwhelming. Except for this one stairwell where she would eat her lunch in the stillness and quiet, allowing herself to collect her thoughts and feelings.
I’ve realized since that while I live and work with a lot of background noise to help me stay focused, I crave that feeling of the quiet stairwell. After a show, I’ll drive with the radio off. I’ll take a walk late at night and drink in the sound of the wind and the smell of cigarettes and dryer sheets as I move down the sidewalk.
I love people. I need companionship and the friendships and partnerships that I’be formed. But I also need those moments of quiet solitude sometimes to just be in my skin.
“I look like a goth kid forced to attend grandma’s christmas party”
We all wear different hats, constantly switching them based on what our job is, or what the situation is, or the aspect of ourselves that we want to present to the world. I usually don’t think of it as hats, but more like a nesting doll. With each of our aspects become smaller and denser as we get closer to our core self. The small split doll in the center.
The stories we tell ourselves, the stories we tell about our selves, the stories we allow others to take through pictures and anecdotes. I like that there’s so much…texture there. That the closer I am to someone, the more of those hats I can see. What hat are you wearing today?
There was a time when my friends legitimately wondered if I ever slept. I did, but not much. It wasn’t very healthy, either. I was tired, grumpy, and overweight. The ironic thing too is that in spite of the long hours, effort, and awful way I treated my body, I wasn’t producing my best work. I wasn’t truly present with either my family, or my job. Late nights don’t suit me, and I ended up eating a lot of snacks just for fuel to keep going.
The funny thing is that I actually function best in the morning. I can get a lot done in between waking up at five and when the girls get up at seven. I eat breakfast every morning while the girls are getting ready for school, so it’s still pretty early. And now my eleven o’clock snack is to hold me over until lunch, not to buy me thirty minutes before I pass out at my drawing table.
It’s also a great reminder to check in on my best friend to make sure she ate. It’s easy to get busy and forget. Hahaha.
“There are lots of things that I love about you. Like you are funny, awesome, and you are patient and kind to all of us. One of your funny moments was with me. I was making a noise with my pencil and chair, and you were staring at me and everybody was laughing at us. Have a merry Christmas. Love your student, Olive”
Maybe this one doesn’t need commentary other than being a sweet note from an eight-year-old to her teacher. She’s still young enough that she looks to me for prompts to get started, but then she can take those kernels of an idea and run with them.
Those moments of growth and independence are the best part of being a parent.
Three years ago, I was closer to three hundred pounds than I was to two hundred-fifty. That February, I went to a creative conference in Columbus, OH and the venue was about a mile away from where I was staying. Which felt like too close for a car to be worth the effort and expense of parking. And I found that I quite enjoyed walking. With company if I had it, or by myself if I didn’t.
Walking let’s me see the neighborhood and world in a way that no other mode of transportation does. Slowly and thoughtfully. No matter how briskly you walk there’s a sort of intentionality to it.
I continued to walk when I got home from the trip. First short walks around the block. Then longer ones around two blocks, doing a figure eight. Then I started exploring the neighborhood one the one next to me too. Eventually, before I broke my leg skating I was walking about four miles every day. And I felt connected to my neighborhood.
This tree stump is next to a little culvert towards the back of my neighborhood. The kind of place where I would have lost action figures or my shoes when I was a kid. In the spring it’s almost merry with wildflowers sprouting up around it. In the fall it gathers up a blanket of multicolored leaves around its base. Now, in the winter it’s like a lonely, vacation house, shuttered right for the winter.
This little section of my walk is something I always look forward to. This tree stump, growing into the side of the creek bed always evokes a fairy tale feeling in me when I walk past it.
My kids love candy. I mean…who doesn’t, right? Like pretty much everybody, we go through a night or two of gorging after trick or treating on Halloween. Eating all our favorites, or in my case everything that has the word “nut” in it because I know no one will miss it or be mad at me.
You know what I’m talking about. Standing there at the counter with fourteen, fun-sized snickers bars. Literally, you’re thinking to yourself, “I do t even really like these. Why do I keep eating them? It’s a moment of totally lucid insanity.
After the initial madness, I have the girls dial it back to a more deliberate two or so pieces a day. And so here we are two months later with candy still banked, and a lego table covered in candy wrappers.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your continued support and patronage. It means the world to me. I hope you have a happy, healthy holiday and I look forward to talking to you again next week! Until then, take care and be good!