Friday, September 26, 2014
It's no secret that I've been guilty of blogging-while-down. I suspect it's not uncommon for people to spend more time online when they're generally unhappy, which actually, makes the proliferation of so many relentlessly cheerful blogs sort of surprising. Shouldn't those happy people be out doing fun things?? Except that eventually it becomes tiresome to feel married to the bog and so one must press on and toot their cheery horn on the interwebs, just to remind this side of the world that they can, indeed be happy. It's true! It's all about saving face now, isn't it? No! But, I digress...
Let's talk about toys, in addition to bad feelings. That's fun. Or maybe, about toys bringing on and then getting rid of bad feelings. A week or so ago, a blogger I admire posted a beautiful image on Instagram of wooden toys, artfully arranged with some choice silks and mentioned (or maybe implied) something about the superiority of such things. I agreed wholeheartedly and felt both a kinship with her and profoundly judged by her. I wondered how she was able to keep such a remarkably well curated selection of toys with actual children in her home and so I asked. And then felt extremely foolish and troll-like for asking. To family, I have gently suggested that I prefer non-plastic toys for the littles and my preferences have been sometimes taken into consideration, but over time I felt it was a losing battle and it was more important to me to model gratefulness than perfectionism. I don't say that because I think I chose the better path. If I felt good about it, I wouldn't be trying to have this discussion.
The fact of the matter is that I don't want to be the control freak I feel compelled to be, but I also want to feel good about what we purchase and why. I do not share the die-hards' belief that plastic toys are as corrosive to the soul as they are to our planet, but I do feel a bit of my own soul being pinched off when I think of the islands of garbage taking over our oceans and my own complicity in this. So. So we love Legos and we love Calico Critters/Sylvanian Families. We love to build! We love tiny, anthropomorphic animals in charming dress! I also love eBay, where I realized I can find all sorts of tiny, plastic wonderfulness that needs a new home.
I recently scored a huge box of these critters and their accessories. It is such a large collection that I've sent a few off to our dearly missed Brooklyn friends, distributed a few for play now, and set the bulk aside for Christmas. I love the idea of giving pre-loved toys as gifts. A few years ago I was given a huge secondhand collection of Duplos that is still serving us well. Actually, that collection is how I am able to type this right now! Alden never knew or cared that they weren't in a box. If a box and brochure is there, he will definitely be more into those than the toy anyway, which is always kind of a bummer.
The possessions are still an issue and still a work in progress. I am against simply throwing out (donating) their toys, as is usually the suggestion and as I have done in the past. Alden has a remarkable catalogue in his mind of everything he has ever owned and still eyes me with suspicion when something is missing. It feels cruel to make judgement calls on their "friends" but I am hoping that soon he will be mature enough for a real discussion and understanding of our choices and the impact they have. Right now that just feels way too heavy.
Posted by valerie at 3:01 PM
Friday, September 12, 2014
Skills to master this/next week:
- Quieting the inner and outer voice
- Stop commenting on strangers' Instagram feeds and/or blogs
- Stop feeling judged by every human and animal, plant and mineral on the planet
- Focus on these two/three (sorry for cropping you out, Ian. The ice coffee cup was harshing the vibes.)
- "Gratitude is about having a great attitude" (thank you poster on the wall in Williamsburg. If I ever get a tattoo, this will be it.)
Posted by valerie at 10:36 PM
Sunday, September 7, 2014
When describing a person walking aimlessly about, Alden will say that they are "wondering around."
The two of us wondered around one day in late August, while Ian and the Sushi went grocery shopping, and found a hillside community garden, tucked away at the bottom of our neighborhood. Or maybe it was the top--I'm still not completely oriented here.
It was inspiration overload, with the organized chaos of late summer vegetation, scattered murals and tiny installations, chickens and laundry. A few days later, Ian's mom (with an amazing garden and chickens of her own) gave me some books on herbs and since then, I've been wondering away with thoughts of what our new little patch of front yard could be.
There is a fantastic little herbal shop in our neighborhood, with a tiny potted jungle of herbal bounty growing from the sidewalk out front. When Alden and I wondered in last week, the owner was concocting elderberry syrup in the back, surrounded by rows of jars filled with dried flowers and leaves. Real magic at work!
Do you ever get the feeling that what you want or need is camouflaged right before you? I'm collecting inspiration, but haven't been able to synthesize it just yet. The night sky is dense with stars, but I can't make out a single constellation.
Posted by valerie at 5:17 PM
Monday, August 18, 2014
I can see the beauty all around me. And I feel it too. And I know how lucky/blessed/capable, whatever you'd like to call it, that I am. I also know that I am too sensitive and self-sabotaging. And that sharing these roughly formed and ill-worded feelings are probably generally thought to be a bad idea. But I also know that it's important (for me, and probably for most people) to ignore most of the imagined chatter of others. Haters gonna hate, right? I have let invisible haters keep me from Doing, but that needs to stop.
The overwhelming assault of information is a poor excuse for shutting down, but that's what seems to have happened. I almost cannot believe how many mamas out there are doing exactly what I was/have been doing. Like, overnight there are 50,000 options on Etsy and Instagram for handmade harem pants, Liberty print what-have-you and a million more gorgeous shots of every day life by people expertly "cropping out all the sadness." There was a time when I was so busy making and doing and living my life that I actually wanted more people to do what I was doing, because I loved it so much and loved being in flow with it all and I wanted that for everyone. And now that I can't figure out how to get back to it, I find new makers online and I just want to cry. I love their work, that looks so much like my work, I love their photographs that show all the love I have hidden away. I feel like the Selfish Giant, longing for my lovely garden to return, yet still unwilling to share it.
These words and thoughts and feelings are so off-putting. They are bitter and childish and though everyone feels them sometimes, we're not supposed to give them voice, but BUCK UP, SQUASH THEM! BE POSITIVE! LET LOVE IN! And all that. But how do you get to the good if you're completely ignoring the bad? It seems dishonest. So here I am being honest. I love and hate you, internet monster, but the people at the other end, adding to the collective cacophony, I have nothing but love for. I'm going to chip down my walls and feel all the feelings until I'm free again.
Posted by valerie at 12:11 PM
Thursday, August 14, 2014
I've been doing a lot of sighing and grouching and not much else lately. In a bit of a funk. The world sometimes sucks, in all its glory and there are the every day straws competing for the esteemed title of back-breaker. Generalized anxiety, bad feelings, depression all seem like impossible luxuries in the face of the terror that surrounds us on the news, at the doctor's office, on the other end of the phone line. But there it is, sometimes. Hard to rally one day, up and at 'em the next. Swarms of feelings like that are so very human, yet they're designed to trick us into thinking we're alone. We're not. None of us are.
Posted by valerie at 9:17 PM